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Part of USS Odyssey: First Excursion

First Excursion – 7

Verkien VI-B, Verkien System, Kotaba Expanse, Swallow Nebula region, Delta Quadrant
Stardate: 78505.5
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The distant glow of the gas giant cast long shadows across the moon’s equatorial beach as Duncan worked with Jonarom, setting up the tent that would serve as their base camp. The gentle rhythm of the waves provided a soothing soundtrack to their labour. Occasional chirps and rustles from the dense, tropical foliage offered a hint of the exotic creatures that coexisted with them on the island.

After spending the last few days taking scans from orbit, Captain Reyas had ordered for the Telemachus to land on the moon. Teams were assembled and sent out on a range to undertake further research and surveys. After being assigned to Jonarom’s team, Cadet Jordan Duncan-Court started to find the distraction of doing something scientific helpful. The last day or so had been so intense privately for him, so studying alien bugs and scanning some rocks had been the best diversion he needed. 

Most of the survey teams had completed their assignments and now the next part of their excursion was going to start. Captain Reyas wanted to use the vast quantities of wilderness on the moon to put the cadets through the rigour of some survival training. Commander Jirani had planned a simple exercise for them to undertake: camping. 

For the young cadet, this was something he was already used to thanks to his fathers taking him and his brother camping often. In fact, after they had been rescued, Jordan and William’s fathers had taken them camping on Mellstoxx III. That had been one of his favourite memories. Trekking across woodlands and then setting up tents within tall trees or beside the bank of a river. He had been taught how to cook over a fire and his fathers taught him some old Earth songs to sing. 

Jordan secured the tent stakes while his mind wandered again to his private life, preoccupied with the events of the past day. His friendship with Alfie had been strained ever since his impulsive act of kissing him in one of the corridors of the Telemachus. For the first time in ages, they had not spoken to one another. It hadn’t helped they shared a bunkroom and the tension had been untenable. Misunderstandings and hurt feelings had driven a wedge between them, leaving Jordan in a sea of uncertainty.

Beside him, Lieutenant Jonarom offered a supportive presence, his steady hands providing assistance wherever needed. Despite his higher rank, Jonarom treated Jordan with kindness and respect which eased some of the tension coiling in Jordan’s chest.

“Thank you for the help, Lieutenant,” Jordan said, breaking the comfortable silence between them. He wiped a bead of sweat from his brow, casting a brief glance at Jonarom’s weathered features.

Jonarom smiled warmly, his eyes crinkling at the corners. “No problem, Cadet. We’re all in this together.” He paused as checked the stability of the tent. “I have to admit, I’ve not camped since my own days at the academy. This is kind of fun.” 

Jordan returned the smile, grateful for the lieutenant’s companionship amidst the turmoil brewing within him. As they continued to work, a figure approached the tent, drawing Jordan’s attention away from his task.

It was Alfie, his expression hesitant as he approached, uncertainty evident in his every step. Jordan’s heart clenched at the sight of him, memories of their recent altercation flooding back with painful clarity.

“Hey,” Alfie greeted softly, his gaze flickering between Jordan and Jonarom. “I was told by Commander Jayshon to see if you guys needed any more fusing pegs or if I can offer a hand?”

Jordan exchanged a glance with Jonarom, who offered a subtle nod of encouragement. With a forced smile, Alfie gestured for Jordan to come closer, suppressing the swell of conflicting emotions churning within him.

“Sure, Alf. Help us finish setting up,” Jordan replied, his voice strained with the effort of maintaining a facade of normalcy.

As they worked together to secure the final stakes of the tent, an uneasy tension settled over the trio, the weight of their unspoken grievances hanging heavy in the air. Jordan stole glances at Alfie, his heart aching at the sight of his former friend’s troubled expression.

With the tent finally set up, Jonarom excused himself, leaving Alfie and Jordan alone outside the shelter of canvas and poles. The silence between them was palpable, the gentle lapping of the waves serving as a backdrop to their strained conversation.

“Alfie,” Jordan began tentatively, his voice barely above a whisper. “We need to talk.”

Alfie nodded his throat tight with apprehension. “Yeah, we do.”

They walked along the shoreline, the sand soft beneath their feet, the salty breeze ruffling their hair. Jordan stole glances at Alfie, noticing the turmoil etched into his features, the pain lurking behind his eyes.

“Look, Jordan,” Alfie started, his voice wavering slightly. “There’s something I need to tell you.”

Jordan turned to him, his expression a mix of curiosity and trepidation. “What is it?”

Taking a deep breath, Alfie braced himself for what was to come. “I… I’ve been seeing someone.”

Jordan’s brows furrowed in confusion, his gaze searching Alfie’s face for answers. “Seeing someone? So I was right all along? Who?”

Alfie hesitated, the words catching in his throat. “It’s… it’s Beatrice.”

The revelation hung between them like a heavy fog, suffocating in its intensity. Jordan’s eyes widened in disbelief, his features contorting with a mix of shock and hurt. “You’ve been… with Beatrice?” Jordan asked his voice barely a whisper, disbelief colouring his tone.

Alfie nodded, his gaze dropping to the sand beneath his feet. “I’m sorry, Jordan. I never meant for any of this to happen.”

Anger flared in Jordan’s eyes as he took a step back, his fists clenched at his sides. “We’re meant to be friends.” He paused as he took a breath. “And you never thought to tell me?”

“I didn’t know how,” Alfie admitted, his voice tinged with regret. “I knew it was wrong and I wanted to stop. I was scared of hurting you.”

Jordan shook his head, a bitter chuckle escaping his lips. “Hurting me? Hurting me?” He repeated with each question increasing with anger. “You’ve already done that.”

Guilt washed over Alfie, a sharp pang of remorse piercing his heart like a dagger as he struggled to find the right words. The gentle breeze off the ocean carried the faint scent of salt and tropical flowers, but the serenity of their surroundings was shattered by the tension between them.

“Jordan, I…” Alfie began, his voice faltering as Jordan closed the distance between them with a sense of urgency that caught him off guard. Their lips met in a tumultuous collision, a desperate attempt to bridge the chasm of misunderstanding that had formed between them. Alfie’s mind spun with confusion, his heart torn between conflicting emotions.

“Jordan, stop,” Alfie pleaded, his voice trembling with uncertainty as he gently pushed Jordan away, the taste of salt lingering on his lips. “This isn’t right.”

Tears welled in Jordan’s eyes, his breath hitching as he struggled to find the right words to express the turmoil raging within him. “I thought… I thought maybe…”

Alfie reached out to him, his hand trembling as he brushed away a tear from Jordan’s cheek. “Jordan, I care about you deeply. But not like that. I just want us to be friends. I’m sorry.”

A heavy silence settled between them, the weight of their unspoken words hanging heavy in the air like a dense fog. The rhythmic crash of the waves against the shore provided a sombre backdrop to their fractured conversation.

“Friends?” Jordan questioned, his voice cracking with emotion as he struggled to hold back tears. “A friend doesn’t betray his best friend’s trust and then make him question everything.”

Alfie winced at the truth in Jordan’s words, his own guilt gnawing at him like a relentless tide. “I’m sorry, Jord. I really am. I made a mistake with Beatrice, and I should have been honest with you from the start. And yesterday… that kiss… I know I didn’t say anything, and I crossed a line. Everything’s a mess. I am sorry.”

Each word hung heavy in the air between them, the weight of their shared history pressing down upon them like a burden too heavy to bear. Their friendship was now in a mess. The sun dipped lower on the horizon, casting long shadows across the beach as the evening approached, mirroring the darkness that had settled over their friendship.

“Please, Jordan,” Alfie implored, his voice barely above a whisper. “We need to sort this out.”

But Jordan shook his head, his gaze averted as he wiped away his tears with the back of his hand. “I can’t look at you right now, Alfie. I need time to process this… to figure out where we stand.” With that, he turned on his heel and walked away, leaving Alfie standing alone by the water’s edge, his heart heavy with regret and uncertainty, the echoes of their fractured friendship haunting the deserted beach.

As Cadet Brook Westerham-Banfield continued his duties around the campsite, he noticed Jordan walking back alone, his expression troubled. For the last twenty-four hours there had been some unbearable and unknown tension between Jordan and Alfie. No one knew why or what had happened. Both of them had always been seen as the golden couple of friends in the cadet unit. The golden hues of the setting sun painted the sky in warm tones, casting long shadows across the sandy beach. Concern gnawed at Brook’s gut as he watched his friend’s shoulders slump with the weight of unseen burdens. The gentle breeze off the ocean carried the scent of salt and tropical flowers, a stark contrast to the heaviness in the air.

Sensing something amiss, Brook approached his twin sister, Athena Westerham-Banfield, who was sorting through supplies nearby. She looked up, her gaze meeting Brook’s with a mixture of curiosity and concern.

“Athena, did something happen between Jordan and Alfie?” Brook asked, his brow furrowing with worry.

Athena nodded slowly, her expression sombre. “Yeah, Jordan mentioned something about him and Beatrice breaking up.”

Brook’s heart sank at the revelation. “Jordan and Beatrice? But they seemed so happy together…” He shook his head, struggling to comprehend the complexity of the situation. “Thanks, Athena.”

With a nod of acknowledgement, Brook lightly jogged over to where Jordan stood, his troubled gaze fixed on the horizon. The waves crashed gently against the shore, their rhythmic cadence a soothing backdrop to the tension hanging in the air.

“Hey, Jordan, everything okay?” Brook called out, his voice gentle yet concerned.

Jordan turned to face Brook, his eyes betraying the turmoil swirling within him. “Not really, Brook. It’s… it’s complicated.”

Brook nodded understandingly, offering a supportive presence. “Do you want to talk about it?”

Jordan hesitated, his emotions threatening to overwhelm him. “It’s Alfie… and me. I kissed him twice, thinking he had feelings for me.”

Shock rippled through Brook, his mind struggling to process the revelation. “You kissed Alfie? But why?”

Jordan nodded, his jaw clenched with suppressed anger and hurt. “I thought there was something between us, but… I was wrong. And then today, he told me everything about him and Beatrice.” He went on to talk about his best friend and girlfriend having a secret affair. 

Brook’s heart ached for his friend, the pain evident in Jordan’s voice cutting through him like a knife. “I’m sorry, Jordan. That sounds incredibly tough.”

Jordan sighed heavily, running a hand through his hair in frustration. “I don’t know what to do, Brook. Everything feels like it’s falling apart. I’m an idiot.”

Brook placed a reassuring hand on Jordan’s shoulder, offering whatever solace he could. “I know it hurts right now, but you’ll get through this. You’re stronger than you realize.”

Jordan managed a weak smile, gratitude shining in his eyes. “Thanks, Brook. I appreciate it.”

“Anytime, Jordan,” Brook replied, his voice filled with sincerity. “Just remember, things may seem bleak now, but there’s always a way forward. And sometimes, the hardest part is taking that first step.”

Their combadges then went off and the voice of Commander Jirani followed. “All cadets assembled at the central camp.”