The lights inside the bunk-room were very dim, aboard the Hydra. Most of the crew was on station at the few remaining research facilities. But Solari tended to be a loner afterwards. When you spend so much time on a bridge with others constantly, it was good to get away from that and collect oneself.
But only for so long, it seemed.
A soft computer voice echoed in the dim room. “Operations Order thirty-one in effect. Log recordings offline. Data retrieval offline. Outbound TSN channels unavailable.”
Solari nearly slammed his slightly webbed hands down on the terminal. Frustration was creeping in. Normally, his species kept a very calm demeanor…in public. When one could live in the water, it made for displaying emotions like a Human, rather odd in it.
~So much for that,~ he thought.
He was desperately wanting to recount the last duty shift in some way. To make some sense of what was going on. A new species that used black holes like they would a jump gate? Mass Driver suicide asteroids? The TSN Kinetic held in place by, an unknown creation.
The weapons training in him was scared. They’d been lucky the Division lasers and torps had even been effective, and that shields worked. And sadly they had proved dangerous to almost three of the stations crews that had been out here.
Yet the science training in him, was almost…what was the Human expression? As twitty as a schoolgirl? The technology level they, whatever they were called, displayed was certainly unconventional. And what was the TSN conducting out here in the first place that required a Quantum Entanglement communication device?
Black Holes and Quantum singularities made for a dire mix.
The thoughts were just swimming in his head. Taking a deep inhale and a slow exhale, he knew he wouldn’t get anything. The Division’s senior officers would have to deal with that. For now, he sat up in the still dim lights, and tugged on his uniform. It still felt odd on him after almost three months without NCO stripes.
Just like his career though, events were changing. Sometimes too fast.
Swimming thoughts gave him an idea. Perhaps he’d go aboard and see if the station had a decent water tank. If not, an EVA suit and an airlock would do. He just wanted to float and relax a while.
Who knew what was going to happen next.
There really hadn’t been much time to relax per-se, after the initial shock had worn off from two days ago.
The Hydra was currently part hospital ship, and part watch-dog. Luckily, the unknown assailants hadn’t been back for another round.
And that was quite alright to Solari.
He was sitting next to one of DC team members, a Crewman Kaplan. She still slept in her doctor induced coma, just one of the many patients still being treated.
The sickbay itself was mostly quiet. Save for the hums of the medical scanners and nursing droids, it was almost peaceful.
The Ensign hadn’t moved in an hour. In fact, he barely seemed to be looking at the Crewman directly now. He was lost in his own guilt. Kaplan had been knocked out after the Hydra had taken a hit with her shields down. A moment of his doing during the first strikes with the unknowns.
He kept playing the memory in his mind. Shields, shields the bridge crew kept calling out. Solari knew he had pressed the button on his console to activate them; it was always the first thing he had his hand over. The helmsman’s own collisions with asteroids to the front of the Hydra, had kept him on edge with keeping them raised much to his own credit.
But for some reason during combat, had he somehow froze, or blanked out?
It was, as humans said, feasting at him.
Sometimes it was easy to forget that a ship had a crew, and that one mistake could have consequences other than bad timing, or repairable minor damage. The old military adage of ‘with rank comes responsibility’, always applied.
It was another twenty minutes, before Solari stood up and put his webbed hand on the Crewman’s own. “Get well,” he whispered.
Moving, he took a look around at the other patients in sickbay and nodded. Most of them were civilians or TSN researchers from the bases. The outlook for them was good though.
As he left sickbay, he took a glance at his chrono. 2200 ships time, yet 1400 station local. It was easy to choose sleep over his current mood.
The 63rd anniversary of the USFP had come and passed by the 4th Light Division.
Whereas most of the worlds were still celebrating, and wishing each other well, this little pocket of classified research space was still doing anything but the sort.
Sombre would be the word for it.
Recovery and restoration were still on-going. Most of the senior staff seemed occupied by the still yet-to-be-named entities capabilities.
But Solari was backtracking even further. The pirates and the ship theft. The explosion of the jumpgate. It all seemed like a minor random act compared to what happened afterwards. So, why was he even thinking about it?
Still nursing a spiced tomato juice in the galley, the edgy Ensign was remembering having fired the Hydra’s main batteries at one of the stolen mining ships that had suddenly turned into a hostile IFF ID. Lieutenant Verok, the acting Captain, had reminded him after-the-fact that they should have had an ECM ready to disable it. They never got another chance to do so though.
Solari knew why he had clicked on the ship. He simply had a dumb moment and thought he was on sensors again that could scan. He’d been curious. But that, as Humans might say, killed the dog. Or some sort of domesticated animal.
He sipped his drink with a quick swallow and gave a sigh. That had been the first of his two mistakes on that extended duty shift. From that, he was starting to think Science and Tactical didn’t mix well. Or perhaps the truth was, he didn’t mix the two well. The thought of that was dangerous.
Gulping the last of his drink, he placed the glass back in the replicator for recycling. Watching it disappear, he rather wished self-doubt could be taken back just as easily.
In the end though, the day wasn’t about him. The USFP was another standard year older. For all the good and ill that had happened so far, it was still around. A good enough example to live by.
Solari exited the galley and went back to living. The minefield surrounding the bases needed re-stocking and they weren’t going to lay themselves.
Most of the wounded had recovered from the events almost a week ago. Crewman Kaplan had woken up yesterday, eager to get out of sickbay, much to Solari’s internal delight.
What few who hadn’t were on bed rest in their own bunks. Yet, some funerals had been held. Still an odd Human custom to Solari’s non-Human half. On his home-world, land was a premium, and so letting the body fall down into the watery depths, to feed the endless cycle, was more appropriate than burying a useless husk. It was almost the same with space, and sending a body, if there was one, out into the black. In fact on his home-world’s defence ships, they recycled the body into…well nothing was wasted. Practicality ruled, not sentiment.
That aside, repairs, re-arming, sensor sweeps, meetings. Life was going on in the 4th, and the stations.
If there had been an inspection by the old Academy Commandant, the Division would have passed with running colours, as Humans might say. Or was it hovering?
The Hydra itself was remarkably almost dent free from the last beating she had taken almost a week ago. A testament to her engineering crew and the research stations mysterious supply of hull coating, salvaged amongst other things, from one of the derelict stations. Humans had a way of being practical with some things, it seemed.
And with all that, something was coming. Most likely more questions than answers from command, if Order 31 ever ceases to be running.
Hopefully, it would be business as before, or there would be more complications. Either way, this lull wouldn’t last; It never did.
But isn’t that why they were out in Space?