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Cdr Miranda Hawthorne

Loss of Tomorrow

Loss of Tomorrow

A joint log from

Commander Miranda Hawthorne &

Lieutenant Commander Ithene Vallorn



The Excalibur cruised at low warp on her return to Earth following the field trials of Leah Illyan’s slipsteam drive. Ithene stood motionlessly looking to the feast of starlight streaming by the floor to ceiling windows of the forward officer’s lounge. The mission had taken it’s toll on everyone, but for her it had been especially acute. She’d known Leah Illyan for a very long time, and though they’d drifted apart -- as so often happened -- it was not easy to learn of her situation, or see her act so erratically.


There was, of course, more to it than that. It was also likely her last mission aboard the Excalibur. She frowned, looking away from her reflection for a moment as the doors behind her opened. She felt her stomach tighten. She had been dreading telling Miranda.


“So, looks like everything is manageable, if these scans are accurate. We’ve got microfractures throughout the ship, but engineering is already working on repairing the ones that are large enough to be a worry. The rest shouldn’t be an issue and can wait for repairs at Terran shipyards. Medical is still concerned about the effects of radiation, but the damage is minimal and can likely be treated with…” She trailed off, frowning as she caught Ithene’s expression. Her eyes narrowed. “You’ve got that look.”


“What look?” She didn’t sound convincing, even to herself.


“That look. The one you always have when you’ve done something bad. I know the look, Ithene. I’ve seen it a thousand times over.” Her lips thinned. “Remember when you fractured both of your ankles trying to prove that Hadley Lin’s hoverprobe design was flawed and wouldn’t be able to bear the weight of the materials he was trying to shift? Yea, you were partially right, weren’t you? It carried you up twenty feet before it fell. And when you told me how you injured yourself, you were wearing that look.”


“You’re imagining things,” she protested. “I don’t have looks.”


Miranda sighed and moved to the window, turning her back on the starfield to face the science officer. She ticked off each occurrence on her fingers. “Getting both of us roped into that ritual on Risa, the time you destroyed your lab computer while attempting to configure your modified nanopulse laser, when you completely forgot about dinner with your parents and left me alone with them for three hours, delving into the black market on Andor because you heard someone had gotten their hands on bioscans of a Sheliak. And on and on and on.”


“That look every time. I’ve known you too long to be fooled by your poker face.” Miranda tossed her data padd onto the table. “So what’s wrong?”


Ithene sighed. Miranda always had her read dead to rights. “I‘ve been offered the ex-oh position on the Grace Hopper -- we’d be on a three-year mission to catalog the Bruiner Expanse."


“I know what you’re thinking,” she said before Miranda could reply. “I am not exactly the executive-officer type, but this is a great opportunity for me and for my career and it’s chance to see the unknown.”


Miranda stared at her in surprise. A ship transfer was the last thing she’d expected from Ithene. It was like a punch in the gut and the hurt showed clearly on her face. “You… requested a transfer without telling me? Or they just offered you the position?” The latter was slightly better than the former. “You’ve never talked about leaving. You know I had my reservations about you serving on the Excalibur, because I didn’t know if I could set aside my personal feelings and objectively command. But we made it work, personally and professionally. I like having you here. You know how stressful it has been. You… you ground me. I need someone that understands. I need an ally.”


She pushed off the window and paced down the wall, rubbing the back of her neck with one hand. “I mean, we haven’t exactly made plans for the future, but we discussed it, at least. I didn’t even know you wanted a command. Since when have you wanted a command?” Turning on her heel, she paced back to Ithene. “You’re not happy here?”


“Of course, I’m happy here with you! You’re my best friend, Miranda, and I love you dearly. But this isn’t something that’s going to come around again. I didn’t request a transfer. They offered it to me. Grace Hopper is a science vessel. Delving into Bruiner is a serious undertaking. Only two percent of the Expanse has been explored. Can you imagine how many new things we’ll be discovering in there? And they want me because of my achievements in stellar cartography.” She reached for Miranda’s hand and gave it a squeeze. “This is a big decision for me, and not one I make lightly. I don’t want to leave you, but this mission… I can’t say no. A promotion and a command. You understand why.”


Miranda’s brows drew together as she frowned. She wanted to protest, to name all of the reasons why Ithene shouldn’t go, but she knew that any excuse she produced would be feeble and weak. They’d been romantically involved with one another, off and on for years, and had never once let their feelings deter them from their chosen careers. Still, losing Ithene this time was going to hurt more than it ever had.


“I understand,” she said quietly after several long moments. “You have to go, just like I did when I was offered the same position on the Faraday. I just thought we’d have more time together, this time -- that it might be different.” She felt her throat closing off as tears welled in her eyes. “Three years is a long time.”


Ithene bowed her head slightly. “It is, but we’ve gone longer. No promises, remember? No expectations. No pining. No waiting.” She glanced up and sighed as a tear rolled down Miranda’s cheek. She reached up and brushed it away tenderly with her thumb. “You’re making this extremely difficult for me. You know I can’t resist your ugly cry face.”


Miranda barked a laugh. “You’re such a witch.”


Ithene smiled. “You love it.”


“I do,” she admitted softly. “When do you report?”


“As soon as we reach Earth. They’re in orbit waiting on the last of their repairs and supplies.”


“I’ll miss you. Everyone will.” She snickered. “Well, everyone except Chocox. I think he’s had enough of you to last a lifetime.”


She laughed. “Ditto.”


Impulsively, Miranda pulled her into a tight hug. “You’re going to be terrible at command.”


“Probably,” Ithene admitted, returning the embrace. “I’ll get wrapped up in nebulae mapping and completely forget to do my personnel reports or something, will be too light-handed with the bio-geeks and their experiments, and will have a hard time stopping myself from flirting with the gold-shirts.”


“But you’ll learn,” Miranda added.


“I’ll learn,” Ithene agreed.

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