Hello everyone! I finally discovered I have a blog page here, and so figured it was time I used it. My first post here, though, is in connection with another site.
This is my entry to the Inspired By Images Of Eve Competition 3. More details and links to all entrants can be found at Starfleet Comms.
The Strangest World
Most people, you know, forget what it’s like. The immense distances, covered in seconds, minutes, and hours trick travelers into a comfort of the mundane and granted. Veterans judge the inconvenience of travel by how many jumps they must make, and those on their first trip are merely concerned with what will happen once they are again on solid ground. Life is not meant to exist out in the void of space. What do all those planet-bound people know of the realm their worlds drift in? How many can understand the experience of coming home to the familiar safety of a world—can share the experience of truly traveling, not warping and jumping, through space in the confines of a self-sufficient ship?
I can. I and the men who proudly called this ship their home, their world, understand what it really means to go to space. We undocked from our station four—has it only been that many?—months ago, and turned our heading towards the remote asteroid station now drifting below us. (Well, I guess they could be above us, or alongside). Our goal was, to most, right next door; not even half of a measly AU away. A trip which takes seconds to most has kept us isolated from the worlds of man for what feels like a year, and my new perspective on how blind we are to the joys and pains of leaving the safety and comfort of a familiar planet is incredible.
The cabin door slid open as one of Jorso’s bunkmates entered. The short Sebiestor walked over to his respective bunk and began stripping off the blackened safety gear which was no longer needed.
Jorso remained in his bunk, well aware of the routine “Gruff” was busy with. Though focused on his journal, Jorso did notice an atypical urgency in the way the normally slow-paced man pulled himself from his cocoon. Since the ship was safely in orbit, and Gruff’s suit was coming off rather than being thrown on, Jorso figured the eagerness was not due to any imminent disaster.
“Moving a bit quicker there, Gruff. We’re in the final hours of the trip, and you’re just now getting that alacrity the Captain’s been harping about?”
Gruff hung up his jacket and helmet in the appropriately filthy locker. “Naw, just eager to get a look at the rock. I’ve been down in the hold getting the jump core warmed up.”
“Oh yeah, that big old thing we’ve been lugging this whole way. I guess four months is a long time to sit cold, but I shouldn’t be worried about getting torn apart when we warp, right?”
Jorso smirked at his own joke, fully knowing the engineers would have the ship more than ready to go when the time came. Gruff hung up his heavy pants and placed the boots on the locker’s floor before changing into his off-duty trousers and boots. Normally, he would stop by the shower to get clean before dawning casual clothes, but both men knew they would be showering back on the base tonight and felt like preserving their grime so as to watch as great a volume as possible swirl down the drain. Gruff did take the time to splash his face and fix up his hair in hopes of avoiding a lecture on looks this late in the cruise.
Really, I have to say this time aboard has been one of, if not the, happiest times of my life. There’s something amazingly satisfying about knowing what you will be doing everyday for weeks to come and yet only caring about the here and now. The only real thinking ahead I’ve done has been figuring how much time I have before the next watch and what I can get done in my downtime. And how small my world is! With less than sixty-two meters of space in any direction, I’ve come to know my territory with an incredible accuracy and eye for detail. I can say where every crewmember’s bunk is, all the access points for maintenance, and I daresay I could draw an accurate map of the bridge layout without help.
I wonder if this is what it was like in those far-off days when we Minmatar were confined to our world and living only with our own tribes. Sure, there were more people and entire continents to roam, but their lives were focused on keeping themselves safe, their homes secure, and taking pleasure in any small joy or joke they could find. Perhaps I am idealizing what it was like, but I still believe my short time as a spacer has been one of simple joys and rewarding work.
The small speaker in the cabin’s ceiling let out a sharp click. It was the first use of the intercom in several weeks, so Jorso’s ears immediately focused in on the First Mate’s voice as the message came through.
“ ‘Tension all hands. The shuttle just launched from the station and will be docking momentarily. Stow all gear and report to warp stations.”
His journal and pen disappeared into their cubby, Jorso climbed out of his bunk and it only took him two strides to exit the cabin. He passed Ann’et and Zathol on their way to their stations at the starboard radar array. All three moved with the hurried grace of men who knew their job better than their own name, a trait which the entire crew obtained during the shakedown cruise. Though this was in fact a general quarters call, everyone knew they had several minutes before the Captain made it aboard and things would start moving, so a relaxed mindset could be felt throughout the ship.
The small bridge was only half full when Jorso arrived, and he calmly fell into his seat at the radar station. Durst was already in his position next to Jorso and had the approaching shuttle clearly marked on the display. Belck spoke into his headset, communicating with the various engineering teams reporting in from throughout the ship, and the giant Gevin awaited the Captain’s return at the helm. Jorso occupied himself with pulling up the data for their warp and preparing all the calculations to ensure a smooth and straight path.
So what will home be like, thought Jorso. So much might have happened—what have I missed? My whole world has been these fifty men, and we’ve all known everything going on aboard. What will it be like to see everyone I’ve known my whole life with this new perspective? What will it be like to meet a stranger?
Chechn entered the bridge and took his seat at the combat station. Nobody spoke to each other, but looks of excitement and victory were cast as the time of their return approached. A series of dull thuds reverberated through the hull, and a minute later Captain Rabdor strode into the bridge.
“Shuttle is away,” the Captain said as serious as ever. “Men, let’s get the core charged and make the jump. Anyone who wants a last look at that rock, take it now.”
Jorso opted for one last peek at the station. The blue dust partially obscured the white rock and metal platform within, but the station was obviously there. From within the Rifter, several kilometers away, Jorso felt a slight sting of remorse at leaving. He had no real connection to the isolated station, but it was the first evidence of humanity he had seen beyond his ship since leaving the station. In its own desolate way, it was beautiful.
The Rifter came alive, her engines giving the brief thrusts needed to align towards home before accelerating. It took only a few seconds for the warmed-up warp core to initiate, and suddenly everyone felt the jolt of warp drive. The empty void they had spent four months crossing flew by, and in seconds the colossal mass of their home station and the planet below it filled their view. Jorso and Durst immediately set to locating and tracking the dozen ships suddenly surrounding them. After so much time with such a great distance between them and the nearest solid matter, the two men felt almost frantic keeping track of other ships moving by as close as twenty kilometers. It was an incredible shock, returning to the pace of life among civilization, even though they were still just on the fringe. Among their focused work, everyone aboard entertained their own, brief thoughts about what they would do once their feet returned to terra firma—what the next few days would be like.
Jorso took a moment to gaze out the viewport. It was incredible how abruptly civilization returned to its place as the dominant feature of his life. He had spent his entire life on the planet below, and yet now he felt entirely foreign to the fast-approaching world.
By God I’m home…and it’s the strangest thing I’ve ever seen.
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