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Hunter Matheson

Yeah, I'm still here.

(Thumbs up to SGT Wise and Live in your Moment)

Sometimes you gotta go back to move forward. Sometimes you just gotta sit still, listen to the hum of engines, contemplate the questions of the universe. Who am I? Why am I here?

Dad used to say that. A lot. Don't know where he got it. He said at one time there was some guy sittin’ in a car, contemplatin’ the important things in life, like where you’ve been, how you got here, where you goin’. Dad wandered the feed yard, stoppin’ every now and then to check a steer, and he’d talk to it just like that. Sometimes he’d even talk to me.

For the longest time I thought he was nuts, but then I got to thinkin’... he had a point. Now, sittin at helm a way out here, I’m startin’ to understand. You gotta step back, take a moment to reflect, try to make sense of it all.

But you don’t join Starfleet ‘cause it makes sense. You do it ‘cause it’s cool. You get to wear the uniform, wander the galaxy, chase the bad guys, blow stuff up, maybe take a few trophies home to impress the girls that you couldn’t impress during high school. ‘Least that’s what the recruiter said.

But now I understand that feelin’... wonderin’ how I got here, sittin’ here waitin’ for this convoy to get its act together, waitin’ for brass to herd a bunch of mostly broken-down transports loaded like Noah’s ark without the Noah, you know?

Yeah, sometimes you gotta wait it out. Take a big step back. Not to chase ghosts, but just to get your head on straight.

“That's your cue, Gunny.”

Heh. That’s Lieutenant K’hal, tellin’ me it’s time to go, time to get the refugees outta this fish bowl before the bad guys show up.

“Yes, sir. Going to warp 4, maintaining left flank, locked onto Wasp.”

Just in case you’re wonderin’, the lieutenant over there? He keeps me on my toes, which is pretty much what I need, given I'm flyin’ a top-of-the-line Akira, loaded for bear, herding 60 plus mostly broken down vessels loaded with refugees. Kind of opposites, you know? What’d they call it —polar opposites? Yeah, polar opposites. But it could be worse. I could be in the cargo bay, playin’ Noah.

The captain sits here, too. Well, in the command chair, not here, if you know what I mean. He’s waitin’. Kind of lookin’ the way I do, so I wonder what he’s thinkin’. He makes remarks like, “Gonna be a long three weeks to New Bajor,” then he sighs with a frown. ‘Course, I can’t see the frown, but by the tone of his voice, I sure can feel it. Everyone can. Then he says, “Start lookin’ for a place to circle the wagons when the convoy’s engines need a break. Normally, I’d say a nebula or something, but I don’t know if I want to deal with the crew navigating something difficult.”

Difficult. Right. If they can navigate.

So we creep up to warp 4 and hope everyone keeps together without scrapin’ hulls or gettin’ lost. There are convoys, and then there are convoys. This is one of the “and then there are” variety. On the one hand we got Starfleet’s Wasp, Vermont, Cape Horn, Kamakura, Prince de Austrais, Haig, and Nile, and a few IKS, all for protection around this little herd o’ somethings. Our group moves together, like one giant rack of starships, all connected. Locked onto each other, we can maintain a standard distance on exactly the same vector, then sit back and relax. On the other hand, we got the 60 plus, “in various states of disrepair” as the skipper puts it. I’ve lost count of the two-steppin’ we’ve done when they drifted off course or had to slow down for some reason or other. But we're still alive, so it’s all good.

Now where was I? Oh, yeah. Sometimes you gotta go back.

Why am I here? Well, that’s a good question. Join Starfleet, see the galaxy? Yeah, that’s pretty much it. But I wanted more so I went for the teams, Swickied a few years, and somehow ended up Akira qualified, so here I am. Excal’s a sweet ride, gotta hand her that, but somehow it’s not the same as Special Warfare. QRF small craft, slippin’ in and out all phantom-like, adrenaline rush included. Hot. Fast. Planetary exfil, vacuum infil, ship-to-ship, ship-to-ground, ground to….

“Gunny, d’A wants to bring in some of those fighters. Slide us to port, away from the Emissary’s Breath, to fit the warp docking safety protocols.”

That’s the lieutenant again, just in case you wondered. So excuse me while I tend to business—not that I wasn’t before.

“Yes, sir. Sliding to port, away from EB for warp docking. In position in five… four… three... two…. In position, running steady, and prepared for docking maneuvers. Standing by for Flight OPS.”

Yeah, got her nailed. Fighters. They got some kickass pilots down there. Other ships have ‘em, too. I’ve known a few. There was this one pilot I remember, not too long ago. She had a fancy name. I called her Lieutenant, but thought of her as Syl. Talk about kickass, damn she’s good. A good pilot, I mean. She took me second seat a few times, made me actually want to go through fighter training. But that would take a few more years, and at this point, I’ve had all the training I can take. And Syl? Don’t know how the galaxy pulled it off, but somehow it put together kickass with drop dead gorgeous. She was….

“At least you've got some traffic to keep you sharp this time. I don't know how you can do it when it's hours of the occasional hydrogen atom floating by.”

Heh. That Cait knows exactly when to break into my meanderings. Gotta admire him, despite the occasional tuft of fur landin’ on the helm console.

“You get used to it, Sir,” I tell him. “Those atoms, they're first class. Can't fault 'em for that. An atom or two floatin’ by isn’t bad. But give 'em a salute, and they salute back? Then you know you're ready for retirement.”

“No thanks,” he says. “I'll stick with the multitasking. At least if it's going to drive me insane it'll be a nice, major breakdown.”

“Copy that, sir.” Then I get to thinkin’ about what the skipper said. “Got a place we can hide these warp 4's in case of trouble? Like a nice asteroid belt full of reflective metal?”

I could see in his expression that he didn’t quite take to the idea.

“You want those big, clunky civilian ships to be doing asteroid belt diving? While they're full of tens of thousands of people?”

Hm… yeah. “Well, probably not a good idea, now that you say it that way.”

Now, where was I? Oh yeah. Sometimes you gotta go back to move forward.

I like bein’ here. Flyin’ all night long. Contemplatin’ the important questions o’ life. Who am I? Why am I still on duty? And why am I flyin’ warp 4 in a warp 8 zone? That's pretty bad for an Akira.

Edited by Hunter Matheson

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