Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The Gift

The console softly chattered in sync with the festive panel lights. It was quiet and peaceful this time, a rare sight this far away from civilized space. The ship was running silent, just to be safe, but someone still had to be watch on the bridge.
            The commander watched the stars through the port view, sipping the only glass of brandy he would allow himself to indulge in while he waited. He had seen many stars in his time, but even though they looked the same in every quadrant of space, each time he gazed a sense of comforting nostalgia filled him. As if the stars themselves were sentient, and on silent watches like this, he had often found himself confiding in them.
            He gave the crew the night off this holiday. Though they could not see their loved ones back planet side, they could at least amuse themselves in whatever manner the ship's stores could provide. They had all deserved it: it was a rough tour, and there were far too many close calls.
            But it was another survived year, he thought, and at least a few more should come of it. It seemed ironic to him to be celebrating a peaceful time, when the galaxy was divided in twain. But perhaps it wasn't about the original meaning of the holiday anymore, which traditions had died centuries ago. Perhaps it was just a universal time to stop and take a breath, reflect on how humanity has changed, for better or for worse. Perhaps there will eventually be a time when people could learn to tolerate each other.
            "Commander." He turned to look at the voice that had broken his train of thought. It was his first officer, a bright younger man, brandishing a plate with the evening's pastry.
            "You could at least sit down and watch the screens, sir." The lad said with a wry smirk.
            "Oh, you know how I get when I start thinking." He said as he took the offered plate. "Shouldn't you be in the mess forgetting the events of the year?"
            "Eh, I got bored." He leaned on the back of the navigator's chair. "Besides, no one should spend a holiday alone."
            "Surprisingly sentimental of you."
            "That or I know exactly what it can do to a man who is left to his own devices for too long." The officer retorted. "Especially on holiday. It tends to leave you reflecting on what you don't have."
            "I see." He gave his second in command an amused look.
            "Have you any family, sir?" It was an odd question the officer asked. One often forgets how quickly time passes, and there are moments when you realize the crew has a life outside of the ship. With all the fighting and constant running around, there was often little opportunity for casual banter.
            "Nahh. Been married to the force all my life. Didn't really fit in anywhere else." The commander set his plate down on a console. "And what about you?"
            "I got a few people back home. Don't talk to them much. They wanted me to get into politics, but I think I'm happier here."
            "No regrets, then?"
            "I wouldn't change it for the world."
            "Heh." The commander looked back at the viewport. "It's a quiet night, for once. Nice to reflect once in a while. It's all anyone could ask for."
            "All the more to enjoy it while it lasts. And sit still, not thinking about the future."
            "You have wisdom beyond your years."
            "I've been told that before."
            The officer stood next to the commander and gazed off into the distance. He took in a deep breath, a satisfactory smile plastered across his face. The man had seen his fair share of combat, both in space and on surface, but he had this almost Zen like comprehension of the universe that would normally be expressed by a veteran who had retired ages ago. The commander admired the man as well as felt a small twinge of jealousy. His world made sense, while the commander wallowed in uncertainty. It was probably why he kept him on board; to stabilize him.
            "Though amidst all this peace," The commander began. "One can't help but to think about the future."
            "Sir, shut the hell up." The officer jibed. "And I mean that with the highest respect."
            The silent watch continued into the night.


 Happy holidays to all from Odin and may your mead stay warm throughout the new year!
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