Anna grabs Recky’s hand, spotting her friend as soon as she enters the storeroom between their two departments. She pulls her down behind the grey metal boxes as she walks past. Recky’s shoulder connects with one sharp corner and she hisses, goes to complain until Anna presses her finger to her lips, covering Recky’s mouth at the same time. Recky’s hands go wide, pulling away, only to smack her head on the edge of the box. She goes to swear, the sound muffled beyond recognition by Anna’s hand.
Dizzy, she manages to pry Anna’s fingers from her mouth and gives her a pointed look. Anna shakes her head and points over the box to the other side of the cargo bay. …
Ala walks through the halls of the Fraxis, running her hand along the silver-blue walls that shine new and bright. People pass her by, look at her oddly or with sympathy but she doesn’t really notice. Doesn’t really pay much attention to the people that pass her by. They may be hers, they may the uniformed officers who truly belong on this ship.
It doesn’t matter.
Tomorrow they will all be under her command. Tomorrow she’ll be a different person but right now she’s just displaced. In both time and space.
She’s still not sure how it’s happened. She’s gone from enemy to captain in a few short hours, watching the other captain fall off a cliff as they fought side by side.
The enemy of my enemy is my friend, though she’s not sure the rest of the old captain’s crew are going to feel that way. Coming back into the fold, leaving behind the reason she left in the first place to find and fight an enemy that would destroy Earth, Mars and the rest of the solar system before she could ever think about getting past the Terran moon.
She should never have let Admiral Corman talk her into it, but they were lovers once, friends too and the other woman still has a presence she can’t quite say no to.
She’s too old for a crush, but she’s now the captain of a brand new ship anyway.
Ala finds a lift and steps inside. It’s brighter, the light above only having to illuminate the small space. It hurts her eyes a little, and she knows it’s going to take time to adjust to this bright shiny space.
It’s not quite the flagship of the fleet but it’s a huge step up from the little excuse for a ship that was the battered Maldova. She’ll miss it though, she spent all three years of the war in that ship, not even bothering to move out of her cramped quarters and into the Captains (slightly less cramped) quarters when Lucas was killed, leaving her in charge. It was home.
This will be home.
The lift reaches the next floor, a little slowly, probably from the fight and she steps out onto a new level.
Slowly but surely she will tour the entire ship before she’s officially sworn back into the force corps in the next…she loves at her watch…22 hours.
She reaches the nineteenth deck. There is a lot of walking to be done tonight, then, a little sleep if she can manage it. Enough time to think about her decision, really think about it and not just accept it because Sarah Corman smiled at her, squeezed her shoulder and offered her the job.
Offered her the job, her crew jobs.
Promised not to prosecute them when all was said and done.
Most of her crew accepted. The rest she’s put back onto the Maldova — it’s still going — and sent them on their way. She’s promised that they will get away but after that, they’re on their own.
Not that she would ever pursue them, her own friends. Nor would she incarcerate them.
They’re not her enemies.
And the force is not her friend.
She probably shouldn’t do this, she decides.
She knows she can be a captain, she was a captain, even before she joined the Maldova and the terrorists. She knows she can do it. She knows she should do it too.
She’s just not sure she wants too.
Still, she continues her way through the ship, deck by deck, meeting a few more crew members, even stopping to chat with one or two as she gets closer to the bridge. She has yet to step onto it, yet to even see more than a quick glimpse of it during her conversations with it’s captain over the communications channel.
She’s not sure she’s ready yet, and there is still a lot of ship left to discover. She is locking it all away in her mind, mapping it all out. She wants to start tomorrow looking confident even if she doesn’t quite feel it. Getting lost would definitely break that illusion.
So would slipping to the floor of the lift as she makes her way to the next deck.
Ala considers it though. Considers going to bed but she’s determined to see this through now she’s started.
Both the tour and the mission.
She reaches the medical bays, and takes a break, sitting on one of the beds. The doctor was off shift, just one on-duty nurse for the night. They’re short a few personnel after the attacks, even with some of her own crew filling the gaps they still need a few more people.
Reinforcements are on the way, Corman had told her, in a day or so.
Then they have to leave, follow the trail out to the edges of their solar system left by an unknown enemy. It feels like a trap, Ala knows traps, but she’ll follow anyway. Not blindly but damn near close. There is something about the screech the aliens communicated with, that she thinks she’ll be dreaming about it tonight and perhaps that is why she tours the ship. To avoid the screams of the dying and the shrieks of the aliens they know so little about.
It was almost insect-like.
She shudders, then jumps when someone lays a hand on her shoulder.
Perry squeezes her shoulder and moves around the white bed to stand in front of her. Ala smiles.
“You okay?” she asks.
“I’ve been touring the ship,” she says, “just taking a break.”
Perry smiles and hops onto the bed next to her.
“What d’you think of it?” she asks. “Medical wing’s alright, better than my little room on the Maldova.”
“I know, and we’ll have two whole doctors as well as the best nurse this side of the solar system.”
“There is nothing but space and angry aliens on the other side of the solar system so I’m not sure how much of compliment that is.”
“Hey, the aliens will probably have medical staff.”
“Assuming they don’t regenerate or are have steel-like skin,” Perry says.
“Ray of bloody sunshine you,” Ala says, smiling still. She wraps an arm around the young woman’s shoulders and pulls her close. “You can still go you, catch up with the Maldova, or I can drop you off back on Mars with your mum.”
Perry shakes her head.
“Nah, I belong with you boss, you know that. Anyone who left barely knew you, the rest of us, we trust you. Love you.”
Ala flushes red, dropping her arm. She hadn’t really thought about who had gone, but Perry was right, they were mostly newcomers, a couple of people she just couldn’t get on with and someone she was sure was a spy for the corps.
She’s not sure she would’ve taken the job if people like Perry hadn’t have joined.
Especially Perry, she thinks.
“Yeah, well…” she trails off with a shrug and slips off the bed. “I’ll see you in the morning.”
Perry simply nods, sitting on the bed and watching her leave.
Ala is even less sure now.
She leaves Perry in the medical wing and heads up to the next deck.
They’ve only joined the corps, joined this mission because of Ala, because of their loyalty to her. She’s not sure she can take that responsibility. The weight of all those people that are only here because of her. That Perry is only here for Ala.
That thought sends a little frisson of warmth through her that she pushes down — as usual — now she has even more reason ignore her feelings for her former medic and current nurse. She swears to herself, it’s hard to do, hard to deny herself. It’s been months, but she’s not quite yet able to suppress it completely
Especially with the memory of Perry so snugly tucked into her side.
Still, she’s still a third of the ship left to tour and wants to reach the bridge before morning. She might even get some sleep tonight but she needs to shift a little faster if she’s going to manage that as well.
There is a lounge on the next deck, a smattering of people sitting around and chatting. The groups of corps officers and her own crew from Maldova sit separately. But there’s no suspicious glances, no tension in the room. They’re relaxed.
So much so that her pilot is dozing in the corner.
She smiles and leaves them to it, they’ll wake up and head to their room soon enough. And she doesn’t expect there’ll be much time to rest and relax once they getting started tomorrow. The pilot shifts, but doesn’t wake, their friend chuckling to the other officers on the sofas opposite. Ala laughs too, catching their eye. They nod and smile before she leaves and heads to the mess.
It’s a hopeful little moment, she thinks.
Just a little.
Still, she doesn’t feel much better about the mission.
They’re flying into the unknown with only a vague feeling of dread as her guide and the screech of aliens showing them the way.
She feels sick and she’s tempted to head back down to the medical wing, to sit and watch Perry get familiar with her new workspace. It would be comforting to be in her presence but a problem too. Harder to ignore her feelings when she’s with her.
A few more decks, a few more personnel, new and old. She meets her engineer — a Martian with wild hair and wilder eyes. They walk with her for the last few decks, talking the entire time, so much that Ala doesn’t really have much time to take in the surroundings. She enjoys the enthusiastic tone of Enna’s voice though and the rapid way they talk with their hands as much as their voice. They tell her about the ship though, the engines, the systems, everything from the power in the shields to the hum of the engines.
It makes her smiles and it’s more than welcome.
They reach the bridge together but Enna stays in the lift, muttering that she avoids it whenever they can.
Ala thinks that might be a problem but lets it slide for now.
The night crew turn when they see her and stand.
She doesn’t want them too, she’s not captain yet, but she’s glad of their respect. Even if she ends up flaking before the morning and running after the Maldova.
She’s certainly tempted.
Still, right now, she’s sticking with what feels more and more like a suicide mission with every step.
She wonders if Perry would follow her back to the Maldova.
She knows she would without question.
It’s heartening and decides to embrace the feeling as she heads further onto the bridge, urging them back into their seats. The night crew are all corps officers, all spick and span Earth force. She feels shabby in her black slacks and green jacket but holds her head up high and introduces herself to each of them in turn, filing away their names and faces for later.
Ala comes to her chair and taking a deep breath sits.
It’s definitely a mistake.
Both sitting and the mission.
Sitting reminds of just how tired she is and she is pretty sure she’ll fall to sleep if she sits here too long.
The mission is just going to get her killed.
She stands again, before she falls to sleep, before she runs away. Wishes the night crew a good night, a good shift, forcing the words out past a too-tight throat.
He escapes to her quarters to breathe if nothing else and pulls out a uniform before she goes to bed. She places her captain’s insignia on top of the neatly folded clothes and heads to bed. …
They dislike being surrounded. Standing or not, friendly or not, it is not something they like.
It’s not quite claustrophobia, nor is it fear.
Just something isn’t right with the rows of pawns either side of him. Even if half of them are on their side, they still don’t feel…safe.
Unsafe is the best way they can describe how they are feeling. The fact that they are feeling anything does not escape them but it doesn’t seem like the time to focus on that.
They cannot move, they can rock but to do so would bring attention to themselves and no one else is moving, no one else can move they hope. …
cut myself with bits of glass I found in the street,
watched a man try to kill himself to keep me,
found new ways to overdose on my medication,
drank until I was unconscious because I could not sleep
slept until I was cramped and aching because I could not rise
cried and crawled, bleeding and bruised,
spent weeks in hospital, four pints of blood
yellow skin and failing liver,
from an eating disorder they do not understand,
diagnosed and labelled, a list of letters that led to
years of therapy that didn’t help, medication that
didn’t matter. Tried to die, tried to live and despite all this.
It comes, uncooperative as I am
places itself at the forefront
having pushed its way through
from the darkest of corners.
I’ve a chemical defence against it
ineffective but dependable,
closing my eyes, I see it clearer
these are the thoughts that linger.
Long into the night, they come and go,
I push them aside for flights of fancy
but nothing is a permanent
as the worst of my imagination.
I relive horrors that haven’t happened
without warning or wanting
little images I create , of your death or mine
and there’s no deterrent I know.
I continue on, not unhindered
burdened as we are by our own thoughts,
well or wasted, they have power
and we would be remiss to ignore them entirely.
Follow me on instagram
She is all strength and
I feel like I
am trying to solve a puzzle
I’ll never be able to pick apart.
I am wisdom, they tell me
like this is something to deny
for her benefit
but she already knows I won’t fight.
She has not asked.
I've tried treaties and tributes
over compensated with words
gifts work better, and plain honesty
neither seem to overwhelm her.
Simply, I am here
not pining, only wanting
watching as she stalks the halls
with tempers I cannot match
and passion I will not experience.
I press flowers in books
in lieu of pressing them
to your chest,
an offer I'm not sure, you'd ever take,
so I keep them, for hope I have in spades.
Forward I stumble and stutter
when we're together
backward I fall and falter
when we're apart
and I gather more flowers
for my collection of dry petals I'll never give to you.
I can never tell, through my cowardice
what subtle flirtations and fine words mean.
I am action over articulation,
she is words over weapons
I would cut through to her heart
and into two we would go.
So instead I press flowers,
between pages of poetry
I have stolen from her shelves.