24/11/2015 at 23:46 #2291Adele MundyParticipant
Personal Log, Ensign Adele Mundy, TSN Hawk, 2nd Flt. 4th LD
It feels like ages – amazing what shore leave does for individual perception of time. The reason for the shore leave, though, is that at last the campaign has come to a successful close, and there was less need for all officers to be on duty.
On stardate 311015-2237, after the briefing where we heard that the last action in the Cerberus incursion was imminent, we were instructed to prepare for a ceremony to be held to honour those fallen in action. A training exercise was held first, to establish new security protocols and do a full systems check after the security upgrade, and all I can remember about it is that it was unmemorable – even with Engineering (Lt. Kennon Far) running with no data screens.
The service is what remains in my memory: the hushed exchanges on the bridge of TSN Hawk as we took our place in the line of ships that prepared to file past TSN Nightingale; the slow manoeuvres, the bagpipes, the coffins floating in the black; the solemn words spoken by senior officers; the quiet order to fire EMP at the comms relay and turn away.
It’s too easy to fall back on platitudes, to speak of the “fallen”, and “putting them to rest”. We don’t like to think of those who were torn apart in their exploding ships, or gasped their last as they floated away in the vacuum, never falling; of the marines we disembarked on space stations that burned. We quote the old poem of remembrance,
“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain,
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.”
There is no going down of the sun. There is no up or down to go to. But they shall not grow old. We may not, either. I wonder what the Kralians and the Torgoth do in their remembrance services.
The mission seems an afterthought, considering. We had Capt. Evans in command, Lt. Cmdr Allard as our XO and Comms, Lt. Jr. Chuck Finlay on Helm, Lt. Kennon Far in Engineering, Lt. Leonard Hall on Weapons, and I was at the Science console (this was just before the recent change to running Science and Comms as one station). It was a diplomatic escort mission, and went off relatively smoothly, as we escorted the Ambassador to the N’tani, and warded off pirates and a Kralien attack while the negotiations were taking place. The N’tani agreed to terms and departed.
We had a short time on Shanari Station, too tense to call it a break, then we set out to deliver marines to enemy-held stations. The nerve-racking part was waiting in dock while the marines were fighting to recapture the stations… That was when the remembered sound of bagpipes drifted through my mind, and I had to focus on the scanners and the comms channels. I lost count of the number of engagements.
Atlantia… What an amazing ship. It was present as well as the new weapon that had been recovered in the previous mission, and made its presence abundantly felt. We seemed very small by comparison.
The mission concluded successfully, despite occasional coordination issues, unfamiliar roles, and tough opposition. But the Grand Alliance was finally defeated in the Cerberus system, enemy remnants were on the run, and it was time to start thinking of reconstruction.
In an intriguing piece of news, it seems TSN Hunter picked up a life pod that had ejected from the enemy command ship, and that Security Services Bureau pounced upon it with great speed – so rumour has it, it must be some important enemy officer, perhaps even their General… Who knows if we’ll ever find out. These things have a way of vanishing into the corridors of power.
Shore leave. I don’t care what the Engineers say about how precisely they calibrate artificial gravity, the real thing is different. It may be a psychological effect, a combination of perceiving a real horizon and feeling the unevenness of the ground, rather than a smooth deck, under your feet. Watch the just-landed crews as they stumble over cracks in the pavement, and stagger as they hit the slightest unexpected slope. It doesn’t help that they’re wearing sunglasses, blinking all the same, and staring up at the moving clouds, or taking off those sunglasses and letting the unaccustomed softness of rain fall on their faces – I should know, I’ve done it myself.
Add the lack of engine vibration, the smell of real, unrecycled atmosphere with all its organics, impurities, even the unfiltered pollutants; and then the light, from whatever star you’re orbiting, mediated by atmosphere and day length, its angle and colour constantly changing. Worlds are such complex, fractal things compared to the metallic smoothness of ships.
The water tastes different, the food tastes different. I know the recycling systems provide us with purer water than ever comes out of the pipes in the worlds, and I think that’s the point: all shipboard water tastes the same; world water tastes different in every town, and I suspect, if you paid enough attention, in every dwelling. The food, well, that’s what everyone notices straight away. Matsiyan was enraptured by the varieties of coffee, of course. It is such a temptation to eat too much, just to keep tasting the subtle differences.
As members of the armed forces have been saying for ever, civilians struggle to understand military life. I can imagine Roman legionaries returning to Campania and trying to explain life on Hadrian’s Wall, or Regency officers in His Majesty’s Navy returning from the West Indies and trying to describe sailing though a hurricane. We have better comms to keep in touch with people back home, but nevertheless there is the blank look in friends’ eyes from time to time, that signals it’s time to stop describing an engagement, and order more food – or drink.
And back to duty. I forgot to say, in my rosy-tinted recollection of planet-side socialising, that despite all our technical progress, medical science still hasn’t managed to develop a vaccine against the common cold, and unfiltered atmosphere means the bacteria are free to be carried around by the vagaries of human activity… How Doc decided to let me loose back on board Hawk I’ll never know. If everyone starts sneezing and spluttering, I’m blaming it on her.
We had one training sim, straightforward despite some technical problems with the consoles; a second, more intense exercise with more tech problems – the simulation software was glitching.
Then Admiral Fellraven arrived on board the station, and everyone, in their neatest, shiniest dress uniforms, assembled for the announcements of medals awarded in the campaign that just came to a close. There is the official list in the official site, of course. So many medals and ribbons, and this was just for the ones who made it through. I can’t help wondering how many more are making their way to families planetside.
After the awards ceremony, our mission was to escort transport vessels back to Prometheus system from the Cerberus system. Much to my shock, I was assigned to Engineering; I am intensely grateful that the escort mission was relatively uneventful as far as demands on the engine room went, so that my limited abilities weren’t overtaxed. I need to grow more familiar with the post, without a doubt.
Alas, TSN Hydra and Hunter met with more enemy fire than they could take – there’s a weapon that seems to just rip away the hull as soon as the shields are down, and they ran afoul of it. We had to pick up life pods – I have to admire the helm officer skill (Lt. Cmdr. Allard, of the many medals) tracking down the signal and scooping up the fragile little capsules before life support ran out.
More exercises followed, and my poor simulated repair crews had a bad time of it. I need to crib off Matsiyan’s presets… I think I have just the bribe: a vacuum sealed pack of dark roast single-estate Sumatra coffee, espresso ground.
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