Writer and computery person. Occasional bastard.
Thirty Days of Writing 30/30:
beginning, accusation, restless, snowflake, haze, flame, formal, companion, move, silver, prepared, knowledge, denial, wind, order, thanks, look, summer, transformation, tremble, sunset, mad, thousand, outside, winter, diamond, letters, promise, simple, FUTURE.
Author’s note: Because we all know the Stargazer scene was crap. Also, w00t finished the 30 days! Um… what am I going to do now? Guys?
“Did all of that really happen?”
“Yeah,” Grandpa said, grunting as he clambered over the fence and helped Jack up, gently allowing him to regain his footing before letting go. “All of it. Every word.”
“Are we there yet?”
“Not far now.” Grandpa plodded onwards, keeping pace with Jack as they reached the summit of the little hill.
“How big was a Reaper?”
“Big,” Grandpa said, his voice deferring authority and mischievousness in equal measures. “You see the cliff edge, over there? The beach?”
Jack nodded, and strained his eyes to the little lighthouse at the head of the rock formation.
“If you laid one on the ground from here, it could easily stretch all the way over there.”
Jack screwed up his face trying to compute the size of these things, to imagine what one would look like here. He gave up after a few seconds. “That’s really big,” he said.
“They were,” Grandpa said, digging into his shirt pocket. “Now, have you brought your birthday present?”
Jack beamed as he withdrew it from his pocket: a small, perfectly-milled pair of palladium binoculars. An expensive birthday present for a four-year-old. His friends at school would be jealous.
“Switch them on,” Grandpa said, pressing the button on his own pair, “and look up at the sky.”
Jack pressed the eyepieces to his face, and squinted as the smears of white light resolved into dots. Stars. Little orange lines began sprouting from them, and words popped up at the other end. Labels.
“What are all the words?” Jack asked, concentrating as he tried to steady his field of view.
“The words?” Grandpa crouched and put a hand on Jack’s shoulder. “What do you think they are?”
They were funny words, too, some with funny symbols on the front of them. τ Cet. ε Aur. Betelgeuse.
“Do the stars have names?”
“Well done,” Grandpa said. “The stars have names. So do the planets.”
“Does every star have a name?”
“Not every star,” Grandpa said. “There are a lot of stars out there!”
Jack peered at one of the stars. It seemed to have an orange ring circling it, with its own little label. “I think I found a star with a planet!” he grinned.
“Lots of stars have planets, too,” Grandpa told him. “Do you know what’s special about planets?”
“People can live on them!”
“Some planets, yes.”
Jack thought for a moment. “Does every star have planets?”
“Not every star,” Grandpa said, “but any star. Any star could have planets. And it could have a new type of person on it, new friends to meet.”
“I wanna discover a planet,” Jack said, his mouth curling in concentration again as he moved to another system.
“Maybe you will, one day,” Grandpa laughed. “Now, see if you can look back at Tintagel.”
Jack trained the binoculars on the little pool of light around the town where he lived, Tintagel. Green labels flared, and a lined silhouette appeared on the eyepiece, like a giant, metallic bird. The label said SSV-2SR-4.
“Is that a starship?”
“Well done!” Grandpa said, “there’s a ship there, and it’s going to take off in a few minutes.”
It was bigger than Jack’s school—this starship was enormous! The silhouette dwarfed the little house he lived in, and it could easily have covered the lake he walked past to get to the train station on the way home every afternoon.
“Do you know what’s special about this starship?” Grandpa asked. Jack already knew.
“Mom’s inside it.”
“She is,” Grandpa said, feeling a sense of pride swelling at Jack’s intellect and his own daughter, now master of the Alliance’s pride and joy.
Of course, there was only one name this ship could bear.
Nicole was nervous. Nervous, to say the least, but pleased.
Pleased and happy. Fourteen years, god knew how many command and training courses, and a family life in the way of things, and she’d managed to cap out at N9. People had teased her in the academy that her parentage put her at a horrendous genetic advantage, but she’d worked for this.
And now, Nicole had her own ship. SSV Normandy 2SR-4. A ship she was to command off-planet in less than two minutes.
Pre-flight procedures. She couldn’t forget them, even if all she wanted to do was grasp the controls, engage the mass effect drive and laugh maniacally. She fingered the intercom and spoke with as much authority as she could muster.
“Attention all two-sierra-romeo-fower Normandy crew, this is the Captain. Lift-off in two minutes. Doors closing in one minute. Doors closing in one minute.”
Drive core primed. Board green. Midshipman at the airlock waiting to give two rings of the ship’s bell, the signal that the doors were closed and they were clear to proceed.
Don’t panic, she thought, although she didn’t bother to conceal the enormous grin on her face as she stood and leaned over the handrail, peering into the galaxy map.
“Allons-y,” she muttered, tapping her own bell control twice and sending the right-away to pilot Staley.
There was a gentle whine of an engine, and the Normandy began to move.
“Tell me another story,” Jack said, tugging at Grandpa’s shirt sleeve.
“Maybe later.” Grandpa pointed at the distant starship hangar. “The ship’s about to take off.”
“Do you think mom will be able to see me?”
“Probably not,” Grandpa smiled, “but…” he grasped Jack by the sides and hauled the boy to his shoulders, “if you wave enough she might.”
Jack began flailing wildly, not caring about his own balance. He couldn’t really see the ship—but then he could, this enormous, enormous bird rising from the town, bright lights illuminating the fuselage, bluish-purple and orange glows from the back just like in the vids and the short-frame posters, and it was loud!
The Normandy roared overhead, and Jack waved as hard as he could, shouting at the top of his little lungs.
And Jack understood, at that instant, the meaning of what his mother had always told him.
And like his mom, and his auntie Ashley, his grandma Miranda and his grandpa John, he was proud to call himself a Shepard.
“Normandy, you are clear to proceed to 100% thrust and engage FTL drives,” Admiral Moreau’s voice crackled over the comm. “It’s good to have a Shepard on the bridge of the Normandy again.”
“Likewise,” Nicole smiled.
“Good luck, Captain, and bon voyage.”
“Thank you, Locus.” Captain Nicole Shepard raised her finger over the control key. “Shepard Junior, out.”
She took a deep breath, hoped dad was looking after her son well enough, and signalled the helmsman.
There was a blinding flash, a boom and an instantaneous trail of blue across the sky of Locus as the Normandy leapt for the stars—and, in an instant, she was gone.
And the stories continue…