|USF Personal Log|
Login Cancel Login
Kristjana valued her privacy. There was nothing more valuable to her than her personal time. She had taken a substantial chunk of her accumulated vacation time and spent nearly all of it -- after what had happened on Starbase 47-- on a trip back to Sol.
Word of what happened had reached the Sol System, but by then the story had been diluted with rumor and idle supposition into a tale that was disturbingly more tame and believable than the actual truth. The court of public opinion had twisted and mangled the truth to fit their own view of reality. At no point would she even try to correct them, for the sake of her sanity and mental well-being more than it was for their voyeuristic pursuit of the truth. She did read somewhere that a Starship captain resigned over the incident, and a reactionary mass exodus of servicemen would follow soon after. Kristjana thought about it. She’d see how she felt after her vacation.
A week passed before her boredom set in. Instead of returning home to Reykjavik, Kristjana went to Mars. The Mariner Valley was beautiful this time of year, and she had no-one left to visit on Earth. At first, she felt unburdened by that revelation, before the loneliness set in. Independence was something Kristjana had spent her life trying to achieve. It was part of what led her to Starfleet. But then her parents died, and the father of her child remarried. Burying the loneliness was easy when you had the distractions of a holodeck and a ship full of your peers to carry you forward. Reality only hit when you were sitting by yourself on Earth Spacedock, surrounded by nothing but strangers. Earth’s dominating visage in the station’s broad viewports forced her to face her own mortality, which she had come quite close to only days before. She boarded the shuttle to Mars and decided if she never set foot on Earth again, it would be too soon.
The Mariner Valley featured a network of deep caverns that stretched across half of Mars’ southern hemisphere. The borders of its capital city, Londres Nova, were defined by the ancient walls that once supported a vast biodome. Six million people lived in Londres Nova, and lived in the canals of the Mariner Valley. Londres Nova was one of the last of the initial colonies on Mars, as it was the most exposed to the Martian air. It was among the first that was fully terraformed to allow its residents to travel outside without the need for some kind of protection. To Kristjana, Londres Nova evoked a hypermodern version of a more vertically arranged Venice, or if a city was built in the crags of America’s Grand Canyon.
Kristjana remembered a time when the thought of laying down roots off-planet once and for all was a prospect more exciting than anything else. Now she felt as though she had nowhere else to go. She spent the week idly trying to pass the time. A dispensary was able to supply her with a healthy supply of recreational Martian cannabis. She hadn’t imbibed since Starfleet, and had forgotten her tolerance. That first night was spent alone in the dark, believing the world was out to get her. When the next morning arrived, her head was clear and she decided against a second session.
A library recommended several books to her. Faced with an impossible breadth of reading options, she settled on a book that she once read but only faintly remembered. She recalled enjoying it, and so the decision was made. She passed the rest of that day getting groceries to supply her modest timeshare with enough food for a week. She enjoyed cooking, it was one of her small measures of comfort as she sailed through the black. And replicators could never do justice to her favorites. After her heartiest meal in a very long time, she found her literary tastes had changed, arguably for the better in this case.
Londres Nova was also the home to the Mariner Trail, a terraformed circuit of trails that ran through the mountains along the tectonic wound that carved out the Valley. It was maintained by Mars’ federal government, who made sure everyone had access to it. The Trail was an alternative to the subterranean hyperloop that formed Londres Nova’s backbone. It was lush, covered in Martian variations of familiar plants from Earth. Mars’ lowered gravity allowed her to stride gracefully along the Trail’s red brick path. She’d forget her troubles there, out in the light. Even more than on the holodeck. Her brooding found itself restricted to the evening hours. Her mood changed with the sunlight, which to her was progress.
The question of resigning alleviated itself after day six, which made day seven’s call from the Hermes an easier pill to swallow. Of course something had come up. Too classified to share over subspace. Kristjana didn’t have access to a secure line. She’d left Lieutenant Theo Mason in charge in her absence. He was a capable, if unambitious, officer. In ordinary time, Kristjana found him able to handle himself in her absence. This was too big for Mason, however, which made her fear the worst. Perhaps this was the one she wouldn’t come back from. Her solitude convinced her it was only a matter of time.
It would take her over nine days to rendezvous with the Hermes, which didn’t include the three days of waiting for a ship that was even heading out that far. It had to be one ship, there was no time for stopovers. She had nine days to hope that nothing else would go wrong, and nine more days before she’d forget how much she hated her privacy.