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DL | CIO | LCDR Stacker | "Endymion"

Posted on Fri Aug 17th, 2018 @ 3:27pm by Lieutenant Commander James Stacker

Mission: Lacuna
Location: Holodeck | Cold Station Theta
Timeline: SD 241808.17

The ship was alive. Not by any acceptable standard of measure used by Starfleet. But close enough. And it was determined to make these few hours a living hell. The price he paid for wanting solitude: he was firmly convinced that no soul in their right mind would disturb him here. But gods alive...

Everything around screamed of life. The curling, heaving, rolling, and frothing sea that rose higher than the deck at times. Whistling of wind through the rigging. The shaking when the ship shouldered an errant wave aside, flinging spray aloft to be caught by the wind. How it came curling over the port side of the bow to spray everyone standing exposed. Those who could, turned in some small way to shield themselves as it roared down the length of the ship.

The brim of the tricorne was dotted with droplets of water, leather long ago soaked to capacity, as it tilted up and revealed the face of the younger man. Teeth that had involuntarily gritted against the blast of water as cold as needles released their tension. Hands moved along the carved wood of the railing, pushing aside the puddles that were forming there. He was beyond thinking of any of that. Had long ago stopped caring about the men below him heaving at the great wheel, fighting the ship herself and the ocean.

In a way the struggle unfolding around him was synonymous with his life. That thought came as he ducked his head, letting the hat catch another blast of icy spray. Droplets splattered his cheeks and neck, though. He could feel the wind tugging at his cloak, like a dog begging its master. Or like the children on Viery.

Lips flattened, and his mouth became a flat line at that remembrance. Here there were no displaced orphans begging in the camps or on roadsides. No bombed-out villages in the shadows of the mountains with crumbling walls left reaching for the sky. No dusty convoys rumbling through the parched shrub. No, the station was a paradise by comparison. A shelter that cradled civilization from adversity. His eyes winced involuntarily as water droplets splattered his cheek, but his vision never parted from the men up forward, heaving on a line, corralling the sail that wanted to billow out.

Some part of him wondered if he could ever give it up, as eyes remained focused on the struggle up forward. Could he give it up? Trading a life of struggle for one of peace and quiet. Maybe that was his biggest fear. In that respect he wasn’t terribly dissimilar from captains from this age in mankind’s history. Giving up a life that veered wildly between monotony, adversity, and challenge had probably not gone down well with them either. Sitting in their houses, growing old, knees creaking and eyesight failing, remembering better times. Or, in his case, a role that kept aboard a station. The man on the headlands, eyeing this ship out on a storm-tossed sea.

As if in answer, the warship that had gone to the breakers over five centuries before hit a wave that came thundering up and over the bow. The raging mass engulfed the foredeck in a sea of foam that freely crashed and fountained between bulwarks and subsumed the wheels on the chasers. Water swirled across black breeches and around the thick straining ropes, going hither and thither, weighing the ship down by the nose, leaving the thick trunk of the bowsprit pointing out across the waves. And fingers clutched the rail until knuckles whitened, as the stern started to rise before another wave.

The worst, however, was not to come. Like a fighter, like a brawler, the bow rose. The water began to fall away from the forepeak in great sheets that cascaded back into the roiling sea. Added to this was water that jetted out the scuppers, or which came rolling back along the deck. Finding no purchase on already-soaked timbers it slid around underfoot. More found its way out, off the deck, and back down below to where it belonged. Faintly came the noise of the pump cranking through yet another turn, chains banging and clashing as brute human muscle strained somewhere belowdecks.

His hands released their tight grasp on the carved railing, mind turning away from the moment of tension while body declined to turn away from the railing. It was a good thing; the bow rose against another wave and bodies swayed. Hands found rope, belaying pins, or the ship’s boats lashed down to the middle of the deck. The men at the wheel braced themselves, boots thumping on soaked timbers as their bodies unconsciously leaned into the wave. As to the ship, the challenge rumbled down on the bow, hit the broad curve of hull, and spit spray into the air. Then it was gone, away to join the simulated combers of the Atlantic. An ocean he had never laid eyes on.

One of the simulated characters of electrons looked at him from below, by the wheel. It flashed him a thin smile that spoke more to concealed agony; strained muscles, cold clothing, rivulets that had found their way between collar and skin. He gave the man a nod, letting the wind whip away water droplets from the corners of the hat, raising his voice to be heard over the gale.

“A fine day, Mr. Figgis!”

“Indeed sair. Very fine!”

After another nod the character of Figgis turned back to face forward. James’ eyes lingered, however, lost in thought as they were. Unconscious drift brought them back to the sight of the pitching and heaving bowsprit, although they were not in focus.

The question of giving up a life in the field, for one spent in relative safety, was one that he wasn’t ever sure he would be fully content with. In a way it was the last challenge. The penultimate one. As one progressed higher in the ranks there was unspoken expectation that - he ducked his head against another blast of spray. It was a last-second move, coming a tad too late. Needles of water seemingly drove into his jaw and neck, causing an involuntary hiss of muted near-pain at the feel of the ocean’s icy blast. Jaw muscles were slow to unclench in the aftermath, but he went back to his vigil.

In the end it probably didn’t really matter. He admitted that fact to himself as a hand wiped droplets from his cheek, letting the wind catch and whip them away. One way or another his career was - at least for now - on track. Like the ship he would overcome the challenges that life set out before him. It was the best solution really. With a hint of near-affection he patted the carved wooden railing of His Majesty’s Ship Endymion; a ship that had come forward in time with a bit of modern help, and which had been seemingly kind enough to furnish a moment of relative solitude and peace.

=/\= End Log =/\=

Lieutenant Commander James Stacker
Chief Intelligence Officer
Cold Station Theta, SB-1170


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