A few days after the funeral, Cadet Cody Knox-Stanton fished the isolinear chip his mother had given him out of his pocket and slid it into the slot on his holographic screen. He had made sure that the bedroom door was securely locked before doing so, as he wasn’t ready to share anything he learned there with anyone else. A little over a week prior, his father had been the sole crewmember lost aboard the USS Hephaestion when he’d used it as a missile, coliding with a Breen dreadnought at close the speed of light to prevent it from attacking Guardian Station and hundred-thousand souls aboard her with an enhanced version of the energy dampening weapon that they had used during the Dominion War. He and his ship had been vaporized instantly, leaving the logs and messages on the chip as the only thing Cody would have to remember his father.
A message started playing immediately:
“Hello, Cody. It’s cliche, but I guess if you’re seeing this message, I am dead. This is probably the hundredth message I’ve recorded like this and they’re all here on this chip for you. This one’s a little different, though. Here on the starbase, we’re pretty safe, but who knows when or how that might change. We’re out here caught between two frontiers and I can’t help but live with the fact that I’ve put all of us in the line of fire just by being here. I am so proud of the young man you have become and the bright future you have ahead of you. I knw sometimes you doubt, but that’s OK. So did I. And that’s why I want you to have access to all of my logs—personal and otherwise—so you can understand what my life was like. I don’t know if it will help you avoid making some of the mistakes that I did, but I hope they will at least be something of me that you can carry with you. I love you, son.”
Cody ripped the chip out of the console and tossed it over onto his bed, bursting into tears for the first time since his father’s death. Memories came rushing back to him of his very early life on the same ship that had just been destroyed, seeing his father almost as a captain first and a father second, but also of happier times on shore leave. Camping out of the Type-7 shuttles that never seemed to find their way to retirement from the Hephaestion’s hanger, and then feeling like he’d made it to Nirvana when they’d moved to the Sirius with its built-in mall and huge arboretum.
He wasn’t ready to go sifting through the memories. Not yet. But there were fifty-plus years of things to learn on that chip, about both his father and the first ship he’d called home: Hephaestion.