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Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 2
03-10-2010, 05:57 PM
13 Months Later

Danen listened to the deeper thrum of the station around him as he gazed out into the space surrounding Earth at the various ship’s in drydock. He knew each crewman usually became accustomed the sound of their own vessel through the years to the point where they no longer heard it. Habituation was the term he’d learnt in psychology for it. You might occasionally hear the distant thrumming of the engines every once in a while, especially when you had nothing else but silence to listen to, but usually it was something on the extreme periphery of your awareness that after repeated exposure your brain learned to ignore.

If only it were that easy with everything that seemed to constantly encroach on your awareness. Sure, some things that your turning over and over in your mind eventually disappear to a distant level of consciousness. Become a constant that you longer find yourself focusing on. But then there are times when you find that stimulus has returned, and is just as hard to ignore as it ever was in those first days.

As Dan Hart listened to the reverberant white noise of Earth Spacedocks heart, he also found himself hearing the difference in something echoing from his own.

He took another sip of the dry-tasting synthehol, and tried to instead focus on the sound of his own lips on the glasses rim. The sound of his own wet swallow.

But all he could really think of was the number.

72.

He’d now lost 72.

He glanced up to the right hand corner of the window and watched something small shuttling away from the claw-like frame around the Gnostic. She was in for a repair after an encounter with the Gorn in the Xarantine Sector. There’d been incursions as far as the Argelius Sector, where there were still efforts to push back an advance, and Hart had been asked to help an attempt to flank reinforcements emerging from Klingon territories around his old stomping grounds near Hromi. The efforts had gone well.

Too well, perhaps. Returning home he’d been complacent. Sloppy. He’d been so focused on chasing down the cruiser he’d not even expected he was being strung into an ambush.

Two escorts had gone straight for engineering. It was amazing he’d even made it home.

Home minus 12 more.

He’d listened to Meg crying for two hours before they could cut her free. The rest of the crew crying for hours after they realised they were too late. The Gnostic’s youngest officer was now her most recent casualty of war. As everyone had departed for shore leave it had been a sombre affair instead of a happy one. The ensign that had been everyone’s adopted daughter had died.

Captain Hart looked to the distant black scar running along the hull, then back to the last remnants in his glass.

He jumped as his comm badge sounded, especially loud in the relative quiet of this hour. Only Spacedock’s hum and the distant echoes of the dead to be heard until now.

He quickly put the glass down and used the hand to tap his badge.

“Hart.”

Briefly, in his mind’s eye, he saw a smiling Meg placing a hand over her chest and mocking the gesture her Captain often made as he communicated, announcing ‘Heart’ instead of his name, her palm flattened over the namesake organ.

Back when it was beating.

“Captain Hart, Admiral Quinn will see you now.”

“I’ll make my way to his office...”

“He’s retired for the night, Captain, and has requested you meet him in his quarters. It’s actually closer to your own accommodations.”
Danen sighed. The change of venue meant that the admiral was probably going to make this informal. Considering the circumstances, that didn’t sit well with him.

“I know where it is. Thanks.”

There was no response.

He looked up at the Gnostic once more and raised his glass to it in a toast before he downed the last of his drink.

It had been an honor and a pleasure.

***