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Part of Starbase Bravo: Asteroid City and Bravo Fleet: Labyrinth

Scales and Perspectives (pt. 1)

Weather Satellite AP212, 36,000 kilometers above Melstoxx III
09.2401
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“Do you ever feel small?” Aynesh mused as she lifted one hand to shield her eyes from the pale yellow sun in the distance, her lilting dreamy tone carried by the tinny timbre inherent in using comms in an EVA suit. 

“I hope that isn’t a jibe about my height.” Log retorted, his attention focused on the open circuitry panel that housed the weather satellite’s sensor relays. “My mother said I am a perfectly reasonable height.” 

“Was that before or after you had those custom shoes replicated?” 

A silence sat on the comm channel, Log regretted ever letting the woman into his room, where she had spied his recent aquisition. “After.” A cackle filled the airless wavelengths. “It’s not funny Aynesh, it really bothered me when I was younger.” 

“Are you saying it doesn’t bother you now?”

“Not nearly as much.” Log whispered a silent thanks that she couldn’t see the lie emblazoned on his face, masked as it was by the boxy, vision impairing helmet of the brilliant white EVA suits. “You know what does bother me?” he asked, trying to steer the conversation away from his ongoing troubles with verticality. 

“People who talk through Klingon Opera? The complexities of the Gagh market? That weird smell in section 42-F?” Aynesh prattled, pushing an imaginary buzzer atop the nearby satellite’s exterior sensor arrays. 

“That we’ve been out here for almost an hour and you haven’t…” Log bit his tongue before the tirade could begin. The pair had been assigned to preventative works on the weather satellites, it was a good chance to earn some EVA hours and do something useful. Unfortunately Aynesh had yet to pick up a tool let alone repair a satellite’s faulty systems. Eager not to have an argument in zero-G he opted for a more diplomatic word choice, “… you seem very distracted.” 

“How are you not?” Aynesh chided. “I mean look at it all.” Log felt a series of speedy thuds echo in the deck below his feet, a telltale sign that she was spinning around in wonder.

“I mean it’s all very impressive but we do have a job to do.” He placed the calibration tool in his hand on the temporary magnetic strip above the panel that held his various tools, all neatly laid out ready for use. “It doesn’t make me feel small though.” He turned towards his team mate, who continued to spin comically slow in her clunky suit. “It’s the same view as you get from the Starbase.” He motioned to the gleaming silver citadel that floated effortlessly in the distance, a gigantic landmark despite being thousand of kilometres away. 

“IT IS NOT.” She declared loudly, suddenly stopping mid twirl, her heavy breaths from the exertion punctuating the silence. “When you’re out here, it’s everywhere. she whispered, lowering her voice for dramatic effect as she threw her arms wide. “And we are tiny in comparison to it all.”

“It doesn’t make me feel tiny.” Log took several slow steps to meet her in the open space between the satellite’s pylons. “It makes me feel oddly powerful.”

“But you’re just a guy in a space suit?” she tilted her head quizzically. “How are you anything compared to that?” She thrust her right arm out towards open space, her finger pointing accusingly to the jagged crack in space that glowed predatorily from the bushes made of starlight. It lay quiet for now, a momentary reprieve whilst it sat grinding its mile wide teeth together, waiting for the next opportunity to leap open and gobble up a stray ensign on an EVA. Or perhaps worse still to regurgitate some foreign being, who had equal chance of flying the flag of a foe as of  a friend. 

“That, is…” Underspace, the official briefing had called it, a vast network of subspace tunnels that reached across the galaxy with millions of possible pathways. A new frontier for Starfleet, a new horizon to bolster the ideals of the Federation. “A new opportunity.”

“They made you very optimistic didn’t they?” Aynesh smiled smugly through her helmet’s transparent face, she was barely a year Log’s senior but took no small pleasure in proffering her ‘experience’. “It doesn’t care about you. It’s here regardless of what you want, throwing out gravimetric distortions and space debris and bits of planet onto those nice people down there.” She pointed towards the green and blue marble that spread out beneath their feet, despite being thousands of kilometres away it curved into the distance creating a circle horizon in all 4 cardinal directions. “You don’t matter to it.” Her words carried a panicked edge, her usual confidence wavering as it danced on the existential blade. 

“No.” Log mused, stifling the urge to reach up and stroke his scraggly chin hairs, frustratingly out of reach, locked behind his transparent helmet. “But I do matter to those people down there.” He pointed to the surface of Melstoxx III, where swirling clouds were slowly dispersing as the weather stations were systematically repaired following their unexpected bombardment with exotic radiation. “Without me that storm wouldn’t clear. Everything would be lost.”

“Some of them are already lost.” Casualty numbers were still coming in from the surface of the planet as the fires and floods slowly receded, Log could see a pain in the corner of Aynesh’s eyes, one shared by all the officers who graduated in recent years. They were promised unlimited stars with unimagined futures, instead they had received another disaster they could not predict, another cruel twist of fate that they couldn’t have possibly dodged. 

Log decided to push through, “I matter to those people.” He pointed towards the silver citadel, surrounded by a swarm of shuttles fluttering in and out the station’s vast docking bays laden with supplies and like honeybees working at the face of the hive. “Because I’m here doing my job, they can do their job.”

“They’d find someone to do the job. It doesn’t matter whether it’s you or me.” Her despondency was obvious now, Log had learnt early on that Aynesh felt everything keenly, all mountain highs and deep sea trenches. She threw a thumb over her shoulder to the runabout that floated nearby, “It could be Dave for all the universe cares.” 

“Maybe.” Log admitted. “But for now, in my little bit of the universe, I am the one changing worlds.”

The silence stretched across the achingly short distance between the two engineers and for a moment it seemed they seemed further away from each other than the planet below, the dull and glowing citadel or the grumbling mouth of the anomaly. 

“You can change the worlds with me if you’d like.” he offered a gloved hand forward. 

She reached out and took his hands in hers. “I’d like to do that. I’d like to not feel small.”

“Then can you please pass me the small field modulator from the spare toolkit?” Log motioned with his head to the grey briefcase by her foot, a large Starfleet delta emblazoned on its surface. He let slip a small laugh that bubbled and popped across the commlink, a low and fulsome mote of joy.  

One laugh became two, then three and four as the two young officers continued with their day, changing worlds in the shadow of the future. 

Comments

  • What a dialogue between friends here! My favorite line, and really what felt like the pivot on which this entire story hung: “It doesn’t make me feel tiny… It makes me feel oddly powerful.” Over this story, I developed a real appreciation for our engineering friend here, the Tellarite who’s said to lack a stomach for confrontation, and now I definitely want to follow him through his next adventures - and philosophical observations.

    June 20, 2024
  • I really like Log as a character from the first time one of my characters interacted with him I enjoyed his style. You do so well in the way this story is written from the friendly banter. He is such a nervous character when it comes to confrontation or talking to people over him yet you make him also seem so capable in the job he holds. This was great I cannot wait to see more of Log.

    June 21, 2024
  • The dialogue and interaction between these pair is great. They could almost be at a bar chatting away over a drink; but really they're out there repairing a satellite! Simple, effective and a joy to read.

    June 21, 2024
  • Log

    Engineering Officer