Hello, I decided to try my hand at writing a space opera.
UNSC CAPTAINS LOG – SARAH KEYS CH.1
UNITED NAVAL SPACE CORPS
Keeping to tradition that my sister always either purposely or inadvertently tries to one up me, I learn that my sister is joining the UNSC ranks. With her attitude, there is no way she is going to make it into the armed forces, however that does not mean there is no chance of her working near me. In fact, a portion of every UNSC vessels crew is staffed by civilian positions. Civilians take care of the small tasks that a trained marine doesn’t want to do. Certain officers including the captains have assistants to help them with day to day tasks. And the galley is filled with civilian cook assistants and various cleaning crew.
But besides that, the fact that the fates have decided to overlook my prayers, really put my hopes against there being a divine power. At least I’m not a part of the god squad.
I found out when I came home on my weekend leave. I found my mother and sister screaming together in the dining room, holding a letter on all too familiar letter head. Father was sitting in his chair at the head of the table smiling proudly, trying to keep his composure and trying to not join in on the bouncing and screaming.
I moved my way into the wash room to wash my bag full of dirty laundry, hoping that all the screaming would die down by the time I step out. With my undergarments finally in the wash, I step into the dining room.
I find that the screaming had in fact died down, and I found mom and dad in a discussion about what they should do to celebrate. Because their daughter finally got a job, and albeit a good job, they needed to treat her to something special. Everything from camping trips, to theme parks, to taking her to a foreign resort was tossed out.
I pick up the sheet of paper, temporarily forgotten in their planning. The words on the page are depressingly generic, stating her acceptance in the United Naval Space Corp.
“You know; you could always take her on a space cruise. A week-long jaunt around the moon and back with a few orbits around the planet.” I set the paper back down on the table and move to the refrigerator. I grab a sandwich from a leftover party tray and unwrap it. “I have a friend that works for a booking company that specializes in those kinds of cruises. She can probably cook something up for a good price for me on a short notice.”
Mother and Father both stop talking and look at me.
“What… three tickets in second class suites shouldn’t be too hard for her to find? Plus, she can give me the friend and family discount. You would have to take the space elevator though, I heard the price of orbital flights has gone up again.”
“Wait a minute… you would do that for me?” my sister looks confused. I never offer anything to her, let alone hooking her up with big discounts on nice cruise tickets.
“Well why not? You just got a big snazzy job, didn’t you? You’re in the big leagues now, running with the big dogs. It’s the least I can do as your little sister. I mean, I can only dream to make it big like you. Sadly, I am chasing my tail in the deep black here.”
“Honey, that’s so nice of you! You are finally looking up to your big sister, and acting how sisters should behave! And I think the idea of a space cruise is a wonderful idea.” It almost takes all my resolve to not start laughing hearing mother say that.
“Ok, I’ll give her a call. I was planning on hanging out with her soon anyways. I might have next week off to do so finally.” I say it with a smile as I grab my phone and text my desk assistant. ‘Three adult tickets for the limited moon cruise. Two second class suites.’
“You know honey, why don’t you check with work and see if you have next week off to join us?” It surprises me to hear father say something like that. I try to think up an excuse of why I can’t go. However, I decide that what the hell, why not. And with my position I don’t have to worry about coming into work next week anyways.
“Mmm, Ok. I’ll let my friend know. She will send you the quote.” I fake a little more enthusiasm. I look at my phone again and punch out another message ‘One more adult ticket for the limited moon cruise. One… Officer class suite.’ knowing my own position in the UNSC I don’t want to cause a scene by showing up to a UNSC owned cruise with a mere second-class ticket.
For the first time in a long time, I sit down at the table and talk with my family about the upcoming cruise. I explain what will happen the entire trip, including the ride on the space elevator. I pull up brochures and lay them out so it doesn’t look like I know about the entire trip already from running countless escort missions. After I have explained everything we all got to our rooms and start packing for the long week ahead of us.
Finally, Sunday is upon us. The day we start the cruise. At the last minute I realize that I need to repack my bags, as I packed everything into my standard issue duffel pack, instead of a suitcase. Old habits seem to die hard. While making my final check that everything is all there my phone rings with a message. ‘Ship refit inspection today. Please remember to be there for the inspection. No need for you to change into your uniform, everybody already knows you by your reputation.’ I look at the time the inspection is set for and realize that I will have to take an orbital flight to make it to the inspection.
I grab my suitcase and make my way to the front door.
“Work just got ahold of me! They want me to make one more quick inspection before I leave for this trip. I’ll catch the next carriage for the elevator! See you in space!” I shout to my family, just as a black classic mustang pulls up in front of the drive way. I put my small suitcase into the small trunk of the car and get into the passenger seat, and off I go.
I look out of the front window of the orbital craft at the massive hulk in front of us. That hulk is the newest of the UNSC fleet getting refitted for combat after several strenuous trial runs. While still not named, most people refer to the ship as belonging to the Full Metal Bitch although it hasn’t yet been assigned. And it is quite a ship fitting a person with that name.
The bridge officers and I stroll through the ship, checking off different items from our checklists, making sure that all of the modifications and repairs are being made correctly and are going to be finished on time. Through each compartment on each level we go, scouring the entire ship. My civilian clothes at first catch a few sideways looks, but as soon as word spread that I was onboard, I was met with nothing but straight-backed salutes. Finally, almost five hours after we took off we are stepping off the gangplank and into the dry dock, leaving the dry dock manager with a list of complaints and notes.
I grab my baggage out of the Officers lounge and make my way to the other side of the spaceport. Just before I get to the tourism deck, I step into the bathroom to do something about my clothes and hair.
I change into a shirt and skirt, and use a can of hair color spray to color my hair blond. Nothing can be done about my eyes on such short notice, however what I have done should be enough. All I need to do is keep the attention I get to a minimum. Every UNSC personnel in this station knows either me or my reputation, so I am duty bound to get salutes from the crew.
Wandering around the tourism deck, I finally find the cruise ship I booked us for. Sitting in front of the windows is my sister, mother, and father, all looking out the windows in awe at the cruise liner. I stand next to them and look at the ship. Rather unimpressive to me in tonnage, propulsion, and weapons, but she was built to entertain and not to get into ship to ship dogfights.
The first boarding call is called out, and we all make our way to the airlock gangway, with my sister jabbering the entire way. We place our suitcases on the conveyor and proceed into the docking tube. From experience, I push off with my legs right at the gravity line, and float through the no gravity zone, ignoring the attendants reaching to help the passengers. I do a frontwards summersault, and land gracefully on the other side of the free-floating zone. I turn around to watch my sister flail around as her feet suddenly leave the floor, needing the help of the assistants standing on the sides of the docking tube to get her in the right direction and floating along.
When a ship is in dry-dock, the gravity generators of the guest ship are turned off to prevent a double gravity effect. However, when a ship is just docking next to the space port, the ship must stay a short distance from the spaceport, to keep the conflicting gravity generators from drawing each other in. This causes a portion of the docking way to have no gravity.
I turn and grab my baggage from the conveyor and check in with my ticket.
There really is no point in waiting to watch my sister epically fail at boarding the ship. If that’s what I wanted to watch, I could just watch the new recruits stepping onto a ship for the first time. I quickly make my way to the officer staterooms, finding my room within the first pass. I quickly set my luggage inside, and make a quick inspection of the spacious room. The entire suite is as big as a medium sized apartment, compete with a living room, a dining room, a bedroom, and even a well-appointed kitchen. I toss my luggage on the queen size bed and make my way to the second-class deck level.
I step inside the room that is my sisters to see how she is unpacking, and to see if she has yet forgotten about the incident in the docking tube.
“You know sis; you might catch a better boyfriend if you were a bit more graceful.” Of course, I must make a jab at her whenever I have the opportunity.
“Oh yah? It’s not like you did any better! I saw you go right after dad, you ended up bumping your head on the…” Finally, Anita turns around, noticing my died hair for the first time. “Oh wait! That wasn’t you behind us? I could have sworn! When did you get on the boat! And, why is your hair that disgusting color?”
“Well for one, I went right in front of you, and I saw your ordeal trying to get you situated and straightened out before they could load you onto the ship. And second, this is actually a space ship, so it is not called a boat. And third, I just thought I would try having my hair a different color. A friend gave me a bottle of temporary hair spray to try, so I thought I would try using it while on this trip. I did my hair in the bathroom on the way up to the spaceport. And finally, why do you always have to be such a bitch all the time?”
“Well whatever. I kind of feel bad about teasing the person I thought was you. I thought I finally upset you and that’s why you ran off in a different direction. Also as some girl to girl advice… Blond is so not a good hair color for you. It totally clashes with your eye color.” For once Anita said something that sounds like she isn’t trying to get on my nerves about.
“I actually have to say thank you for the advice. In all of these years I have known you, you have only been sincere a few times. Anyways, I just thought that having my hair a different color would be a fresh change. Plus, your right, it has only been a few hours and I am already getting sick of this hair color. I’m going to go wash, I’ll see you at dinner!” With that I leave and go back to my suite to work on washing the temporary color out of my hair. I just wanted to use it to get through the spaceport without getting noticed, and I doubt that there would be anybody else on the ship that would recognize me.
In my suite, I strip down and step into the running shower. I sit down on the bench and let the hot water rinse out the foul-smelling chemicals that color my hair. I slowly slip into a relaxed state of mind as I slowly rinse the offending color out of my hair. A small pair of hands joins mine and gently massages my scalp, sending me into a deeper state of relaxation. My mind starts thinking though, struggling to get out of the trance it was put in, and I start thinking about the second pair of hands that is massaging my scalp. With a start I suddenly snap out of my trance like state and spin around.
“Mia! What are you doing in here!” Recognition fills me as I recognize the familiar face that has joined me in the shower. Mia is my first mate aboard my new ship, so she helps me with day to day activities.
“Your sister is correct. Blond does not look good on you. Let me wash you.”
“Oh Mia, you have always been so demanding.” I turn around again and sit back down on the bench with a smile, letting Mia wash the offending hair coloring out of my hair. Mia has been around since the joint class training exercise that went wrong in the asteroid field. She served as my first mate during the operation, and assisted me when we had to locate all of the escape pods and life suits that drifted from the mangled wreck of what was once a practice ship. Together we made such an effective team, we were both graduated early from our classes and deployed from ship to ship to alleviate situations where the original captains where unavailable.
I look at the water running between my feet and notice the coloring chemicals are no longer staining the water. With Mia’s help I wash and condition my hair and step out of the shower room.
Many things come to mind as I dry off and get dressed. Each of the missions that Mia and I have served on have a special meaning to them so far, and I long to remember these events in the future.
It was our first fire fight together that had broken out on the main deck of the UNSC Monitor when I learned that Mia was a horrible shot, and couldn’t even hit the broad side of a barn even if you helped aim for her. However, what she lacked in accuracy, she made up for it in bravery, going as far as running into the crossfire to drag me from my pinned down position.
“Mia, I’m here with my family this time, so feel free to go and enjoy yourself. Enjoy the view, and hopefully find yourself a boyfriend or two. I don’t need my family getting too suspicious of you hanging around me all the time.”
Mia looks up at me. “I’m meant to stay by your side, to help you. If it helps I will stay in the shadows” The way Mia talks and moves reminds me of a quite child of her size.
“Mia, it’s an order. Go out and have some fun for once. I think I can handle the situation myself.”
“Well if you insist… I’ll try my best not to cause you any problems.”
It’s times like these that reminds me of her loyalty. Having to tell her to go have fun without me placing it in a direct order seems like its too far.
As soon as I finish putting on my clothes I hear a knock at the door.
“Message for Captain Key’s.”
I open the door to see who it is. On the other side of the door is a young man close to my age wearing the starch white uniform of the cruise liner bridge crew.
“I am here to inform you that, you are required to report to the captain’s table at twenty-one hundred hours for dinner tonight. You may bring one officer and one guest. You are not required to wear your dress uniform, however please dress formally.”
“There’s no getting out of it is there?”
“I am very sorry ma’am; however, the captain insists that you attend the dinner. He seems to be very particular that any and all UNSC captains must dine with him. We ask that you please honor his wishes.”
“Very well then, please make reservations for both myself and one officer. That will be all.”
“You are allowed one guest. Would you like to extend an invitation to one of your family members you boarded with?”
“Please no. None of my family actually know what I do for a living. That’s the reason I was wondering if I could get out of the dinner. I am sure my family may plan a family dinner night.”
“Very well then. I will let the staff know.”
“Could you do one more thing for me? Since I am here on a cruise with my family, none of whom know what I really do, could you have the crew kill the saluting and fanfare when I move around the ship? You can have them just treat me as a normal citizen for this journey.”
“I will let the crew know of your intentions, however I can’t guarantee that they will be able to not salute. The crew has gone under rigorous training and hold the up most respect for the captains of the UNSC Battle Fleet. Many of them will salute only because they find it rude not to.”
“Well thank you anyways. It’s worth a shot.”
“If that will be all then I will be on my way. If you need anything during your stay, please inform a member of the staff and they will be able to assist you with any needs that may arise. Excuse me.”
With a bow the crewman leaves the door way and walks back towards the bridge of the ship. Even try as I might, there is no escaping the first night’s dinner with the captain. The UNSC Cruise lines have a tradition of inviting any other captains to the captain’s table for dinner on the first night. There are a few cruise captains that request the other captains dine with them every night of the cruise.
“Mia! I don’t know if you over heard, but your invited to the captain’s dinner! So, dress in something cute!”
I look towards the bathroom and see Mia toweling off after getting out of the shower. She looks at me and nods her head.
“Ok then. I’m off! I’ll see you tonight before dinner!”