Part of USS Solstice: Academy Life – Jackson Porter’s Starfleet Academy Story

Chapter 3 – Family Matter

Jackson's House
Year 1, Between Semesters
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The first semester had come and gone, and Jackson was on a shuttle back to his hometown for the Christmas and New Year break. It had been a busy semester and he was eager to get home to see his family in-person for the first time since he left. He was sure the 10 days of break would go by quickly, but nonetheless, being home would still feel great.

As he walked up the sidewalk to his house, he noticed the lovely Christmas lights and the decorated tree through the front window. This time of the year was always his favorite. While his dad was stationed in the Sol System, he and his mom lived mostly in upstate New York, so he learned to appreciate the cold.

Jackson pulled on the handle and the front door opened. He entered quickly and shut the door behind him, shutting out the cold wind and snow. “Mom? Dad?” he yelled as he kicked off his boots.

“Ahhhh!” Alicia’s head poked from around the kitchen. She placed the serving spoon and bowl down to run to hug her son. “Welcome home, son!”

Jackson dropped his jacket on top of his duffel bag and hugged his mom tightly. “Mom! I’ve missed you!”

“I’ve missed you, too, JP!”

“Is that cadet I see down there my son?” The voice of Jackson’s dad was shortly followed by his body frame as Henry walked down the stairs from the second floor to hug his son.

“Hey dad!” Jackson hugged his dad tightly. “It’s great to see both of you!” He sniffed the air. “Is that steak I smell?”

Alicia chuckled. “And mashed potatoes, green beans, rolls…all of your favorites!”

The group walked into the kitchen where the food was mostly spread out. Alicia picked up the bowl full of mashed potatoes and serving spoon she was previously holding and handed them to Jackson. “Dig in!”

“I bet you’re dying for something other than whatever they’ve been serving you in the mess hall,” Henry added. “I remember what they had during my first year. I’m fairly sure even the roaches would’ve had a problem digesting some of it.”

Jackson chuckled. “The mess hall food actually isn’t that bad. I try to save my replicator credits for the weekly dinners a group of us try to have together, so I eat there most of the time.”

“So, tell us everything!” Alicia said. “How are your classes? And have you made many friends of the other cadets?”

Jackson swallowed a mouthful of food. “Classes are going well. I passed all of my finals for this semester pretty easily.” He took another bite of steak. “As for friends, I’ve made a bunch of friends, mostly in my year. Jeremy and I have all the same classes together.”

“Nothing wrong with a familiar face to help things seem better,” Henry replied. “What about the other cadets? From your letters to us, it sounds like you’ve made many new friends.”

“Yeah, I’ve made a few new friends. Mostly ones that I see more often, but a couple of them I only have one class with. Of course, there are also plenty of those who aren’t there to make friends, and they’ve made their intentions quite clear.” He paused. “But to be fair, none of us joined up to be part of a social club. We joined up to become Starfleet officers, and to serve the people of the Federation.”

Henry nodded and tapped the table a couple times. “Well said. Sounds like you’re taking in what the instructors are teaching quite well.”

Jackson also nodded. “That, and I’ve gotten some good tips here and there from a really cool Senior Cadet I met. His name is Terik Mitchell, and he’s in Red Squad!”

“Red Squad? You’ve made friends with members of Red Squad?” The surprise in Henry’s voice made both Alicia and Jackson stop eating to look at him.

“Is that a bad thing? What is Red Squad?” Alicia asked.

Jackson turned to address his mom. “It’s an elite group of cadets. They are considered the best of the best, and it’s the goal of just about every cadet to become a part of Red Squad-”

“-and it should be at the top of your list,” Henry butted in.

“Henry,” Alicia softly stated, “you promised to not push anything while he’s home.”

“I know, I know…but it’s just…like he said, Red Squad is the best of the best.” Henry gestured back to Jackson. “Sorry. Continue.”

Jackson cleared his throat. “Actually, I wanted to ask you about Red Squad. You were in it, right? What was it like?”

Henry glanced over at Alicia as if to say ‘I told you so’, and was met with ‘fine, go ahead’ eyes from his wife. “Actually…I wasn’t in Red Squad.”

“Wh-what? Why not?”

“Umm,” Alicia started, “maybe right now isn’t the best time to ask that.”

“No. He has the right to know.” Henry wiped his mouth and placed his napkin on the table. “Son, I’ve told you how your mother and I met, right?”

“Yeah, you met while you were at the Academy. You mean you DIDN’T meet there?” Jackson curiously asked.

Henry shook his head. “Oh, we did. We met at the Spring Formal during my Sophomore year. We went out on a few dates during the short summer break and kept dating throughout my time at the Academy. Eventually, I asked her to marry me, and the rest is history.” Henry took Alicia’s hand from across the table and the two exchanged smiles.

Jackson’s eyes darted back and forth between his parents. “Soooo then what’s the big deal?”

“Well, you see,” Alicia started, “at that fateful Spring Formal, I was there as the date of another cadet…one Derek Marmillo.

“Why do I recognize that name?” Jackson said. There was a pause as his parents waited for it to click. “Wait a minute! Isn’t Vice Admiral Marmillo the commander of the whole Third Fleet?”

Henry nodded. “Yup, the same Derek Marmillo. He was a senior when I was a sophomore, and he wasn’t too keen on the fact that I took his girl, especially given how he was so in love with you.”

Alicia sighed. “Yeah, well the feelings weren’t totally mutual. He was nice, and successful at the Academy, but it wasn’t long into us dating that I realized that it wasn’t going to work out for us. That was around the time we went to the Spring Formal.”

“That was when we first met,” Henry chimed in. “I went with another cadet in my company who had no one else to go with. Hell, neither of us really wanted to go. When I went over to the punch bowl for the fifth time, I saw Alicia standing there looking like she wanted to be anywhere except at the dance. We started talking and decided to meet up sometime afterwards.”

Jackson chuckled. “I imagine that Marmillo wasn’t too thrilled about that.”

“No, he wasn’t.” Henry took a ship of his drink. “And that, son, is why I never made it into Red Squad. Derek made sure that I didn’t make it into Red Squad, and his friends that he influenced that came after him made sure of it as well, even though I was more than qualified for it.”

Jackson shook his head hard. “What? That’s a terrible reason for you to have not gotten into Red Squad! Makes me wonder how many others he screwed over on his way up to admiral. Man, if I ever see him, I’m going to make sure he knows who my dad is.”

“Jackson!” Alicia stated.

He turned his head to face his mom. “What? I’m not going to be rude or do anything unbecoming of a Starfleet officer. I’m just going to make sure he knows that I’m as bold and hard-working as dad.”

“I’m sure he already knows,” Henry said. “It wouldn’t surprise me if he’s been checking in on my career and life all along. That’s the kind of petty he is.” Henry put his cup down and stared at Jackson. “But that’s not how petty WE are.”

Jackson lowered his head. “Yes, dad.”

Henry started eating again. “Now…you mentioned this Red Squad senior, does he seem like someone you can trust?”

“Yes, I’ve talked to him a few times,” Jackson replied. “He’s a nice guy, and he’s even kept the more-abrasive older cadets at bay.”

“Well,” Henry slowly started, “I think it would be wise to try and quietly make yourself known to the rest of Red Squad. It never hurts to get a foot in the door early.”

Alicia nodded in agreement. “Yes, but for your sake, I would try to stay away from any of their girlfriends.”