S.S. Fawkes - CF-142AC
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Echoes Below Decks

Posted on Saturday May 9th, 2020 @ 19:45 hours by Lozen Nachtnebel

Mission: Safe Passage
Location: Deck 14, SS Fawkes
Timeline: MD02 - 16:00 hours

Eight Years Ago

“Hey kiddo, it’s so good to see you again. I really missed you.” Arnold Nesmeth, a wide smile his Arthurian beard, beamed out from the flat wallscreen in Lozen’s bedroom. Outside, bright spring air and warm California sunlight fell through the open window and Lo could hear the sounds of the little community beginning to awaken and move about the day.

“You too, Dad. I missed you.”

“Same, kiddo. I’m sorry, the connection’s not good enough out here for a holo-channel. We have to do this the old-fashioned way.”

“I don’t mind,” Lozen said. She meant it. After five months, just seeing her father’s face again made all the difference in the world to her. “Where are you?”

Her father shifted in his chair. She could see the big David Hardy painting on the wall behind him, a pre-warp vision of the future – a silver space rocket blasting off from a magnificent barren moon, a grand starscape awaiting its ascent above.

“Can’t say too much about the mission, but we’re far enough out that most of the last four months was just pure warp. I’m afraid Lieutenant Corbin is going to need to be sedated if I ask him to push his warp core any farther.” As he spoke, Lo could feel his desire to sidestep her next question: when are you coming home. So, she saved him the trouble and avoided it herself.

“It’s been a wonderful spring here, you’d love it. Mac’s going to be planting in the next few days. He’s shown me his plans for the garden, it’s going to be so awesome.”

Silence fell, an awkward pause filling up the places where things unsaid lay waiting. Lo fidgeted with her hands in front of her, staring at the painting behind her father’s chair.

“I, uh, I’ve been putting my application together for Starfleet. There’s an early admission period next year, right after my birthday. I want to try for it… if I can.”

Her father nodded, smiling again, though something in his expression looked strained. “That’s wonderful, good for you. Mac and Victoria will probably want to help you prepare. I know mac’s obsessed with his plants these days, but trust me, there’s no better person to help you study for the science portion.”

“Will you be back by then?” It just slipped out. Lo felt, instantly, the wrongness of having asked the forbidden question – the question to which there could be no happy answer.

Nesmeth sighed. “No, probably not. I don’t think I’ll be back for some time, kiddo. We’ve got… well, there are some things happening, things I’ll tell you about one day, and they’re making this take a lot longer than I’d like. You know I’d be there if I could, right?”

“Yeah, Dad. I know.”

Lo looked away. Outside, in the distance out the window she could see the edge of the redwoods. The property bordered one of the national preserves where you could walk for days if you wanted. A black bird, too far off to see clearly, swooped low in front of the trees before flapping hard and rising once more.

“You know that I’m proud of you?”

“I know. I just wish you could be here.” Lo felt a hot prickle in her eyes, moisture forming there despite her ardent desire that no tears form. “But it’s okay. Like you said, Mac and Victoria are here. And the rest of the community. There’s going to be a dance next week, we’re getting a whole bunch of people to transport in.” She looked away again, this time as an excuse to wipe her eyes with the back of her hand.

Her father gave a little cough. “That sounds lovely. Take a recording of it for me, will you?”

Lo nodded, forcing a smile. “Sure. Of course.”


Present Day

After visiting sickbay, Lo walked to the lift and took it down toward the cargo decks. At the moment a lot of free space existed – it seemed that Fawkes’s holds were a little light as-yet, which perhaps explained why the captain wanted so badly to take on extra passengers. She made notes on her PADD, taking stock of whatever supplies and cargo items they did have and marking up the available space for her records.

The impression May had given her was that work could begin right away, and Lo liked the distraction from her thoughts. It had struck her, as she waited for the turbolift, that she anniversary of her father’s disappearance would be coming up soon, a date she never seemed to remember until it was either imminent or just behind her. If the latter, she always felt guilty as if she should have remembered, but whenever she did remember beforehand it just made her sad. She could remember everything about the last time they talked, the way the warm spring air had felt on her skin; the way her father’s face looked so tired as they ended the call. Would she have said anything different to him if she had known it would be the last time they spoke? She hoped so but, whenever she thought of it, her mind drew only blanks where the perfect words needed to be. And she wondered if anything she had said would have mattered. Nesmeth’s mission, whatever it had been, took precedence over everything – that was the great darkness at the core of Starfleet life: no connections beyond the ship could ever feel solid.

She stood for a little while just outside Storage Bay Ten and leaned against the cool metal of the wall. Down here, little retrofitting had taken place and the walls still looked distinctly Cardassian. She wondered how long she would stay. Would it be long enough to feel like Fawkes was home? Long enough to forget her friends and family on Earth, or the companions left behind in the Fleet? Part of her wanted to forget, that much she knew: it was, after all, the reason she had run to the outer sectors. Get away from all the mistakes of her life and try to start over, try to live free from the troubles of her past for a while. But a sharp doubt ached in her and suggested that the memories would be just as strong in one year, or ten, as they were now. That all the things she regretted, all the failures she had ever made and all the people she loved who were gone from her life, would never be either forgotten or replaced; that their absence would haunter her until the day she died.

“How’s that for morbid thinking,” she said to the empty wall. She half-forced a chuckle, shaking her head and leaning into the wall with one hand. She stretched her neck from side to side, feeling the tension there.

Then, in a flash, she remembered something long forgotten. Her father, sitting on the edge of her bed one night when she was just a little girl. He read to her from a big leather book, his sonorous voice filling the evening with warmth and safety.

“O love, they die in yon rich sky,
They faint on hill or field or river;
Our echoes roll from soul to soul,
And grow forever and forever.
Blow, bugle, blow, set the wild echoes flying,
And answer, echoes, answer, dying, dying, dying.”

Thinking of that, she smiled, a little of that childhood warmth filling up through the years to warm her heart.

“He loved that book.” She tried to remember the author. Someone from the pre-modern time… “Tennyson. That’s right.” She gave a little laugh, more earnest this time. “I miss you, Dad. Wherever you are. Wild echoes….”

She drew in a deep breath and checked off he cargo bay on her list. Time to move on. She wanted to inspect the shuttle and the worker bee before returning to her new room. Then she would see if the Station had a bookstore. Failing that, she could always use some of her cash to purchase a good replicated copy of the Tennyson collection. It would be good to read some poetry again. Maybe the fresh start she needed wasn’t so much new as it was actually quite old. A return, of sorts, to a happier time.


Lozen Nachtnebel
SS Fawkes


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