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Ad Astra Per Aspera

A New Hope Chapter 11

By Deon BurtonPublished 2 years ago 10 min read

“Master Gunnery Sergeant. Things aren’t looking good. The crew are wondering when the medical teams will be able to do something if anything and why even though it was under the pretense of being for the crew’s welfare how come it’s led to this.” Master Chief Dell reports as the crew finally begins to breakdown and start to turn on him and the bridge crew. The Weapons Commander takes a long and slow breath, and a pained smile appears.

“Took them long enough. As much as I was pulling for Ozark, seems like he got in over his head with just two scouts.” He sighs slowly standing up and walking to the intercom.

“ATTENTION ALL PERSONNEL, THIS IS THE WEAPONS COMMANDER SPEAKING. I’VE COME TO REALIZE THAT MY ACTIONS HAVE NOT BEEN ENTIRELY THE BEST FOR THE CREW. AFTER TALKING IT OVER WE’VE DEEMED THE COMMANDER AND LIEUTENANT ARE BOTH ONCE AGAIN COMPETENT ENOUGH TO RUN THE SHIP ONCE AGAIN. IN ORDER TO FULLY ATONE FOR WHAT I DID; I WILL BE LEAVING THE SUNRISE AND WILL SURVIVE ON MY OWN AT THE ATHENA. MY SINCEREST APOLOGIES. THAT IS ALL.”

The bridge could only stand and sit there speechless as he gave the short address. “S-sir what do you mean by that?” Chief Pyro finally asks wondering what was going on.

“As I said earlier. I personally had some hope for Ozark. That being said, as you may recall, a few months ago the ship was being torn in half over whether or not Ozark should be waited on or if we should focus on ourselves. Our leaders became split and as a result, so did the crew and we couldn’t afford that at the time. So, I decided to make a decision. One that selfishly was based off my own wish that Ozark would return and the main one. The one that would also reunite the ship. A common enemy. We couldn’t have crew members hating each other so I gave them someone to hate...” He explains but Master Sergeant Please cuts him off as a tear drop runs down his cheek.

“... So you let them paint you as the villain the entire time?” He asks and seemingly catching on the rest of them gasp.

“Correct. If they continued to hate each other we would not have lasted as long. Excluding the endemic, I believe we have done well. We have plenty of food and water, and the techs have started to learn how to make simple armor to replace what we lose. I firmly believe one Commander versus half the ship is a much better loss. Don’t get me wrong. I still have hope in Ozark, but I can’t continue what I’m doing to the crew. My main objective is complete. The crew are now for the most part one. It was a pleasure serving with you all.”

Everyone was at a loss of words. No one ever questioned his leadership abilities but after a while, they began questioning some of his decisions. Now that they looked back on it now given that the jig was up they felt bad for ever doubting him. Had they known why then maybe they could have helped somehow instead of letting him take all the blame and hate.

“Don’t be sad comrades. I’m not sorry for what I did, nor do I resent anyone here. This plan was entirely meant for me and me alone to take the fall.” He says with a gentle smile as he walked towards the door. It hisses open and he turns towards them one last time. “I enjoyed my time here with you. It might have been crappy, but still enjoyable none the less. Maybe in another year or so when I’m forgotten about as well maybe I can return. Ah, also don’t release the other two until I’m gone. They’ll try and convince me to stay. Well then, farewell old chaps. May we meet again and may the SUNRISE sail again.”

Everyone saw it but no one had the heart to mention it as the couple tears their long-time companion tried hide with his joyous rolled down his cheeks as he gave them his final farewell.

“Huff, huff, huff.”

Both the Commander and Lieutenant stumble through the bridge bay doors and look around the room. They scan the entire room but don’t find the man in question, just the crying or heartbroken remaining members. “...”

“You missed him.” Master Chief Dell says bitterly. It wasn’t that any of them hated the two, but they all had in the back of their minds that if they didn’t have that childish argument that almost split the crew, then for nearly a year one of their beloved comrades wouldn’t have made the sacrifice he had in the name of maintaining a healthy and stable crew.

“He’s on the way to the ATHENA. If you move quick enough you might catch him.” Chief Pyro adds as he runs his bi-hourly comms diagnostics. He was indifferent for the most part. He knew dwelling on it wouldn’t bring him back or reverse the damage that had been done. Therefore, he chose to tuck it into the back of his mind and do what needed to be done. Especially now. While the Weapons Commander did leave them with the codes and access required for all the weapons, not a single one of them was versed in the art of operating them.

“Welcome back Commanders.” Master Sergeant Please greets as them not looking up from his screens. He had been given the Chainguns access, but he had no idea how to operate them and was currently reading every manual the SUNRISE had on it. If they got attacked now if was guaranteed they would get stomped.

Both of them could only stand there in silence. They could tell the crew didn’t hate them but saw they did seem to have a sour taste in there mouth about them. Not that they could blame them. The Apostles had given them the breakdown on what happened over the last few months and why the Weapons Commander made the announcement he had. They both knew they were at fault and could have handled it differently. Now thanks to that they were a man down on what was currently their most important asset. Self-defense.

“So, Whatcha going to do about the sick?” Dell asks swiveling her chair around to face them. “Food and supplies have already been taken care of. We just need a way to get rid of this virus or whatever the shit is that’s going around.”

“Straight to the hard questions huh?” Please asks while pushing up his glasses and digitally flips a page as he continues to read through the Chainguns operating systems. “Their not back five minutes and your already asking for answers that not even the brilliant Master Gunnery Sergeant could find an answer too. Quite cold if you ask me.”

“Well that’s...” Commander Baja starts to answer but decides to stay quiet. They were in a time of mourning, and they were just looking for some sort of outlet.

“The fuck?... Was that a bug?” Chief Pyro mutters to himself but it was inaudible to rest of them, so they dismissed it.

“We’ll get back to you on it. I came up with a couple of ideas. But I think I should iron them out first and confirm they are good.” Lieutenant Powers comes in with a quick save and Commander Baja can only offer a warm smile.

“Nothing will be done about the matter over night. We’re in a completely new world with zero knowledge. Might as well do what we can with what we know and make sure nothing else unexpected happens.” Please says tossing both of them a weapons drive. “Commander Baja, you’ve been given the M41-44 Railgun and Lieutenant Powers you were given the Flak rockets. None of us have the experience so one person handling all the weapons was out the question. Therefore all the weapons and there access was split between us. I suggest you both catch up on your reading.”

“Thank you Master Sergeant.” Both of them say appreciatively as they go to their proper seats and start to read as suggested.

The next day the most unexpected thing that happened in a long while as the sounds of the air alarm started screaming. Everyone was scrambling to get were they needed. However due to the majority of the crew being sick or tired the reaction time was drastically slower than normal. The same was also happening on the bridge. The crew were doing their best as Chief Pyro was shouting in disbelief at was happening.

“I fucking knew I saw the radar ping something yesterday. Where the fuck did these things come from?” He says angrily as his fingers glide across his holographic keyboard.

Master Chief Dell was desperately trying to get the ship online so they could get the weapons warmed up. Then just as it starts to come online Master Sergeant Please shouts in excitement as he managed to cold start the Chainguns. It’s crosshairs were slightly blurred to it being cold started, but it was good enough for him to see through. The light buzz of the swiveling guns fill the room and once it locks on the target his finger taps the trigger just as the blurred image becomes familiar and he quickly gets on the intercom.

“ALL STATIONS! I REPEAT! ALL STATIONS! HOLD YOUR FIRE! THOSE ARE HUNTSMEN!”

“Huntsmen?” “Didn’t that one Tech and two scouts go on a mission to find some?” “Are they for real?” “No way.” No one in the bridge heard it but all through out the ship the crew was in disbelief and trying to come up with theories.

Back on the bridge everyone was crowded around his desk trying to see the Huntsmen and sure enough, there was four Huntsmen each with three being towed beneath them. Soon a video request comes in and Commander Baja immediately accepts it.

“Greeting Commanders of the SUNRISE. This is Artificial Intelligence S.A.R.A.H of the PREDICTION along with Hull Tech I Ozark of the RAZE, Fireman 2nd Class Boro of the ZERO UNTO DAWN and Marksmen Grade III Logi of the RYZEN. Requesting permission to land.” The A.I states, and the entire crews eyes fill with tears seeing that they were saved. Commander Baja clears her throat and grants permission to land. She thanks them for the approval and cuts the video. They quickly spread the news to the rest of the crew and soon the faint cheers and cries of joy are barely heard in the bridge.

Perhaps it was due to the fact that each ship was towing three underneath them, but it took roughly 30 minutes for all four ships to land and drop their tows. Due to the endemic they commanded the crews to stay aboard their ships and await for the SUNRISE’S medical personnel to decontaminate them and all of them comply. As their going through and decontaminating the medical squads do their absolute best not to hug Logi and Boro. Then they get to Ozark and despite being told to he refused remove his gear and clothes and proceed with the decontamination.

After a couple minutes pass Logi and Boro convince them to drop it and they radio in to bridge and they approve his refusal.

“Hey, before you all return to ship, stop by the ILLUSION and SHIELD. They has contain over 500 types of medicines and antibiotics.” I tell them. They look at me suspiciously but the Commander who must have been listening in told them to do it and bring on board what they could. I thank her for her assistance and then retrieve S.A.R.A.H.

“Quite the home warming eh?” She quips and I chuckle.

“We have been gone almost a year.” Logi adds and Boro giggles and gives her thoughts.

“I didn’t think we would ever comeback.” She says. The light crunching of gravel fills the air as we walk towards the SUNRISE. “Commander, are the crew sick or somethin’? Why did we have to get decontaminated?”

“Apologies. Our crew have currently caught an unknown virus that has rendered most of them bedridden.” Commander Baja explains, and they nod at it.

“What are the symptoms? Have any died?”

“Their all the color green. They all also fatigue and weakness, dizziness, rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, dry skin, and their bruising easily.” The Commander responds taken aback. “Why do you ask?”

“Because we have the cure of course.” S.A.R.A.H says bluntly shocking not just Commander Baja, but the entire bridge as well.

“W-w-what do you mean a cure?” She stammers in response. Their best medical staff had spent months trying to figure out a cure. She couldn’t believe three people and an A.I found the cure in that time.

“Cure as defined in the Intergalactic Oxfordian Dictionary in verb form is to relieve (a person or animal) of the symptoms of a disease or condition. The noun form is a substance or treatment that cures a disease or condition. Would you like the synonyms and antonyms as well Commander?” SARAH asks taking the Commander’s baffled response as a legitimate question instead.

“Uuuh. I don’t think that is what she meant.” Boro says after a moment.

“Yeah, I think it was more rhetorical if anything.” Logi adds.

“That so?” She says baffled putting her chin in her hand. “I’ll have to re-diagnostic and upgrade myself for rhetorical responses as well then.”

We all chuckle at her response while Commander Baja stays silent. That’s when we hear the shocked and confused gasp over the radios as the decontamination team finds our passenger.

“What happened? Kilo are you alright?” Commander Baja asks quickly.

“Don’t worry bout ma’am. He’s with us.” I tell her just as the question is asked.

“Master Gunnery Sergeant Albritton, what are you doing back there?”

“Oh hohoho. Not even I expected to be back this soon. What can I say? I had just made it to the ATHENA and was preparing to sleep when I heard noises coming from outside. I grabbed my rifle and went to investigate and to my surprise I find two beautiful ladies and a dashing young man stripping parts off my new home. AHAHA.” He laughs. We couldn’t see it, but the bridge was in tears, their wrongfully accused comrade had comeback, and his wish was true as well. He didn’t suffer silently for nothing.

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About the Creator

Deon Burton

Marine turned aspiring author looking to find his niche in storytelling.

I also want to improve myself so some feedback would be wonderful.

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