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Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 12
01-09-2012, 10:04 AM
Dear Rynwon,

Itís a long time between letters again, I know. Iím getting tired of my own apologies for that, so I wonít give one this time. Anyway, a lot has happened.

The Ecliptic has been decommissioned. You may already have heard. One minute we were cataloguing new botanical samples, and the next we were getting blasted half-way to the Antares Maelstrom by the Romulans.

We put into port about three weeks ago and Iím technically on shore leave. I guess weíre supposed to be resting before our next assignmentsóIíll be teaching at the Academy, maybe a course on how to get your ship shot out from under you.

Sorry. That was just a pretty feeble attempt at humor and being something other than a moping idiot. Losing the Deborah Sampson wasnít this hard, I suppose because there was nothing we could have done to avoid it. Iíll never understand Patrick. Heís on, what, his fourth ship now? How many were lost because of decisions he made, or didnít make? But that doesnít seem to bother him a bit.

The counselor that met us as soon as we stepped off the ship encouraged me to go home, back to Umea, for a little while. I thought about it. But itís not like thereís an express shuttle there. By the time I arrived, itíd be time to turn around.

He also suggested visiting Trill, which shows how much he knows about me. I donít share in my parentsí crusade against joining, but I donít see anything appealing about Trill society. Itís really more apathy than anything else.

Under ordinary circumstances, Iíd jump at the chance to get to Earth and do some hiking, but since Iíll be stationed there for who knows how long, I couldnít bring myself to head down early.

So I spent a couple of days dragging myself around spacedock. I checked in on the Ecliptic every day, but they didnít even have her in the main docking area. She was tethered to an old, unused docking cradle a couple hundred kilometers from the station, like a piece of junk they were trying to keep out of the way of all the shiny new ships coming and going.

That doesnít sound bitter at all, does it?

About three days in, I did find out that my name had come up on the waiting list for a chance to go up Olympus Mons. Itís one of the biggest mountains in the Solar System, on Mars. Climbers come from all over the Federation to try the ascent, but theyíre very careful about not letting many people on it at once. Iíd signed up way back when I was in the Academy. Funny the way things come full circle sometimes, I guess.

I figured it would be a good idea to get up and get moving, though there wasnít a lot of moving to start off. I had a ton of paperwork to sign and a meeting with some Martian official who explained all the rules and regulations to me. Pack out what you take in, no shuttle flights or transporters except for emergencies, no walking into preserved areas, no taking souvenirs, rocket books absolutely prohibited, and so on.

I would have preferred to go alone, but that isnít allowed either. I had a guide. Iím glad, though, that while she was friendly and helpfulóeven if I really didnít need the helpóshe kept her distance. The climb was a hard one, anyway. There wasnít much time for conversation, even if weíd had the breath for it. When we werenít on the move, we were getting ready to move or passed out in our tents dreaming about moving. At least I was.

We came up a route that wound up from the southern edge of the mountains, to the northeast and then back west to the southern edge of the caldera. The thing is so big, though, you really donít know youíre on a mountain when youíre at the top. Itís like a planet all its own, with its own horizon. I could make out the peaks of the Tharsis Mountains off to the left, but otherwise, pretty much all you could see was Olympus Mons.

I was exhausted. Iíd pushed myself harder than I ever had. Iíd really accomplished something. And I expected it would make a difference, that Iíd feel renewed, or something like that.

Iím glad I got the chance at the ascent, but I didnít feel like a new person or anything. That was probably too much to ask. We made our way down and I caught a shuttle back here, where Iíve gone back to my routine. Except that I havenít visited the Ecliptic.

Iíve heard a few people talking about you and the Northwest Passage, so I know a little of all the great things youíve been up to, saving the universe and so on. But Iíd love to hear about all those adventures from the Captain herself.

In the meantime, I guess Iíll just have to take this bad mood out on the cadets. Thatís what theyíre for, right?