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The Gift

NOTE: This was an older piece from my previous blog. I had been meaning to update it for the longest time, and since it is holiday appropriate, I decided that this was a good a time as any to do so. Enjoy!

Soft chatters of the console panel hummed in harmony with the festive status lights. Peace enveloped the glittering command deck, a rare occurrence this distance away from civilized space. Though the ship ran silent, someone still had to watch over the bridge.

The commander gazed through the stars through the viewport, sipping the only glass of brandy she would allow herself to indulge in while she maintained her post. Even though they looked the same in every quadrant of space, the silent dots of fire soothed her with a comforting nostalgia. She often confided in them on nights like these, hoping to gain their venerable wisdom through fervent concentration.

She gave the crew the night off this holiday. Although 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. Gods knew they had all deserved it. It was a rough tour, and there were far too many close calls.

It seemed ironic to celebrate peace when the galaxy was divided, but perhaps the original meaning of traditions died centuries ago. Perhaps now it was a time to reflect on how humanity has changed, for better or for worse.

“Commander?” She turned to the voice that shattered her musings. Her first officer entered the bridge, a bright young individual, brandishing a wry smile along with a plate of the evening’s pastry. “You could at least sit down and pretend to relax while watching the screens, ma’am.”

“You know well enough how I get when I start thinking,” she said as she accepted the offering. “Shouldn’t you be in the mess forgetting the events of the year?”

“Eh, I got bored,” they sighed and leaned on the back of the navigator’s chair. “Besides, no one should spend a holiday alone.”

“How sentimental of you.”

“I know exactly what a person left to their own devices for too long can get up to,” the officer retorted. “Especially on holiday. The spirits tend to leave you reflecting on what you don’t have.”

“I see,” she gave her second in command an amused smirk.

“Have you any family, ma’am?”

With constant skirmishes and elevated alarms, there was scant opportunity to know the crew on a personal level. The last conflict did not help matters, they had suffered considerable losses.  Personnel were hastily replenished when they had returned home, just in time to be ordered off to the furthest quadrant of neutral space, giving no one time to acclimate to their surroundings, or mourn the casualties.

“Not really, been chained to the force all my life. Didn’t fit in anywhere else.” The commander set the plate on a console. “And what about you?”

“I got a few people back home, but I don’t talk to them much,” they shrugged. “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,” the officer beamed.

“Heh.”

The officer approached the commander’s side, adding to the contemplative silence as they stared into space. They had seen their fair share of combat, both in space and on surface, but their mentality always radiated an upbeat indifference, an optimistic nihilism that encouraged the commander to make the most of any situation.

“One can’t help but to think about the future amidst all this peace,” the commander began. “Don’t you think?”

“The future will always be there. Now is fleeting,” the officer countered. “And so is this peace.”

The commander smiled at their astute observation. Souring the mood with jaded uncertainty was counterproductive, and exhausting. If she allowed weariness to infect the ship, everyone would be too numb to appreciate the times for celebration, merely passing through existence in an ongoing cycle of overzealous vigilance.

“I am glad to have you on board, Lieutenant,” she affirmed. “You have wisdom beyond your years.”

“I’ve been told that before.”

The silent watch continued into the night.

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