Sitting with Hal, I was thinking about my meeting with first, Jason Blackwell, then Jordan Rivers. I was conflicted as to how to proceed. I knew that I wanted Rivers. I had no doubt there. Blackwell on the other hand; sure, he had the smarts, he also had the ability, but like Robinson, I felt he would not be a fit due to his personality.
I discussed it with Hal and he opened my eyes to something.
"Babe, looking over the files of the boys you want to reject. Did you notice that all of them… all 19 of them, have had discipline problems in their past? The only one who hasn't, at least while at the academy, is Jason Blackwell, but you saw he had problems before. Seriously, he was twelve years old. The investigation only happened because the judge was going to change the mark. He was going to change it to a mark actually higher than Blackwell had changed it to. The boy wasn't trying to get more than he believed he deserved. Plus, think about it; he was able to hack into a military system in only a few hours, do you know what kind of skill that takes, what kind of intellect? You'd be making a mistake passing on him."
I knew Hal was right.
The following morning at 0700, Bowman was sitting in his office. He reviewed both files, those of Rivers and Blackwell. Both had given him in their interviews the impression that they'd decline the appointment if the other wasn't accepted. He didn't like his junior officers issuing ultimatums.
He needed to make a decision. If he accepted both he'd have the people best suited for the job. Blackwell is an amazing talent. Having him he'd be able to reduce Hal's workload by having him be in command of both Information Systems and Engineering. Those two departments would report to him and in turn he would report to Hal.
Rivers would be a lock in his mind for Chief of Operations and Third-in-Command.
He'd issued orders for the two of them to report at 0830. He'd had Rivers report to his office, and Blackwell to a conference room one floor up. He didn't want them thinking they were being called together. He arranged for the orders to be delivered in just enough time for them to make it, hoping they wouldn't communicate before the meeting.
At 0828, Rivers presented himself to my office.
"Cadet Rivers, reporting as ordered, Sir," he said, sharply.
"Cadet Rivers, yes. Walk with me," I replied, grabbed, then put on my coat and cap.
I led Jordan to the elevators, not speaking. Once the elevator arrived I selected the button for the floor above. We rode the lift in silence. I could see in my peripheral vision that Rivers was getting a bit nervous.
The elevator arrived and I led Rivers to the conference room. Lt. Commander Tietokone was waiting there and whispered to me that Blackwell had arrived at 0825 and had been sitting quietly, waiting.
The three of us entered the room; surprise was evident on Jace's face. I had them sit and noticed they didn't sit together. Commander Tietokone told them if they preferred it, they could sit next to each other.
Both looked at me and I agreed with Hal. Jace then moved to sit beside the boy he loves.
"Gentlemen," I started, "Cadet Rivers, this is Commander Tietokone, he'll be the Executive Officer on board the Sooloo. I've asked you both here because you've both put me in a bit of a quandary." I paused for effect, noting the expression on their faces. They tried valiantly to hide their disappointment in what they assumed was a rejection from the crew.
To say the least, I was disappointed, more for Jordan than myself. Then I started thinking, if we were there for a rejection, would there have been a need to have Commander Tietokone present? Maybe as a witness, but I have a feeling this wasn't a simple rejection.
"My quandary is that I do NOT appreciate those under my command issuing me an ultimatum. Both of you, Rivers more so than Blackwell, did just that by saying that I'd either have to take both of you or neither. I was absolutely sure before that being the case, that I wanted Cadet Rivers to be my Operations Officer and Third-in-Command." Bowman paused again for effect. I wanted to tell him that I wasn't meaning it like that, I was just requesting, but I was already too nervous as it was.
"Cadet Blackwell, I have concerns that you would be able to take orders from someone that you felt was less intelligent than yourself. Now, I know you never said that, and you gave me the answer I wanted to hear when I asked you that question, indirectly. But I was not convinced that you were being totally sincere."
I started, "Sir…" but was cut off.
"Cadet, please let me finish. As I was saying, Cadet Blackwell, you have an impressive intellect. You have excelled in absolutely everything you've done since arriving at the academy. I will admit that prior to your admission, you had, what we can say, a mishap in your moral conduct, but since that incident your character has been flawless. So, let me ask you a question, Cadet Blackwell. If I were to accept you onto the crew, could I be assured that my fears would not be realized?"
I had a hint of a smile on my face as I said, "Sir, at the risk of sounding arrogant and brash, I believe I've already proven that here at the Academy. I can absolutely guarantee it; otherwise my better half here would kill me."
Earnestly trying not to show his amusement, Jordan interjected, "You bet your ass I would, Sir. Or at least, kick his."
Bowman chuckled at that before continuing, "In addition, Cadet Blackwell, would you be willing to be in command of both Information Systems and Engineering. You would have a head of each department under you, the person that would have been the chief of that department if you hadn't been invited to the crew."
"Sir, I would consider that an honor and a challenge, I would be happy to accept. I promise to do my best to not let you down." I stated.
"Blackwell, that was what I needed to hear. Now, let me address one other thing. I have heard it said that you two are absolutely certain that once you were of age to do so, you would like to be married, am I correct?"
Jordan and I looked at one another but before we answered, Commander Tietokone spoke for the first time. "Guys, Commander Bowman and I will be married the day before we launch. We would like to offer you both the opportunity to marry before launch. I am aware you would be under the typical age; however, special dispensation is being granted due to the fact that we will be away for so long."
Bowman then interjected, "What my future husband failed to wait for was, I would like to offer you both a commission on the Sooloo. Cadet Blackwell as full Commander in charge of Ships Internal Operations and Cadet Rivers as a full Commander as Chief of Operations and third-in-command."
Neither Jordan nor I hesitated to accept, both the commission and the wedding. I can't believe we will be able to marry at our age. As we were preparing to leave the meeting, Lt. Commander Tietokone handed each one of us a patch for our uniform jackets. The patch was a dark blue field, our ship is in the center, surrounded by seven stars to represent the continents on earth. Above the ship it reads, "Space Fleet" in an arc. There is a golden arc along each side and under the ship is the ship's name, SS Sooloo, and the words, Space Exploration.
I was summoned by Commander Bowman to his office. When I arrived, he grabbed his coat and cap and told me to walk with him. I was nervous; was he going to accept me on his ship or not? And what about Jace? I mean, it would be hard for me if I'm not with him. I love him too much.
We rode the lift up a level and went into a conference room. The commander talked to some man about his age and then we walked into a conference room. Jace was already sitting there. The look on his face was priceless.
Bowman introduced the new man as his XO, and then started talking to us. He explained that he didn't appreciate being given an ultimatum, and thinking back, I can see how he would think I gave him one. Bowman explained the situation as he saw it to Jace and Jace looked attentive. He assured the commander that there would be no issue or I would kill him. I responded that I would, but truth be told, I think if I tried, he could seriously hurt me.
Jordan didn't know it, but I stepped in the office last week and asked the secretary if there was any way that she could tell me Jordan's birthday. She replied, "I'm sorry, but that would be a violation of the privacy protocol." Well, I tried, I thought about hacking in, I mean, as long as I don't change anything, no one would know, right? I decided that I better not. I don't want to do anything to jeopardize my commission, and while I believe I can do it without getting caught, I'm not a hundred percent sure.
As I was turning around, she asked, "Should I order a cake for you for the twenty-fourth of this month?" I was surprised, did she just violate protocol?
I asked her, "Um, are you saying that's his birthday? Isn't that a violation?"
She remarked, "I just asked if you would like a cake on that day. I never said it was Cadet River's birthday. If you surmise that it is, I can't stop you from celebrating." I gave her a grin and ordered the cake.
So this morning, I got up carefully so as not to disturb my love. Two cadets from the kitchen were carrying trays. One had two breakfasts on it and the other had a blue cake. "Jordan, Happy 15th" was written on it. I led the cadets to my quarters and they set the trays down. I grabbed the tray with the breakfasts and made my way to our bed.
Setting the tray on the nightstand, I leaned over and kissed Jordan on the lips. He stirred so I kissed him again, adding tongue. I saw his eyes open and could feel a smile forming on his face. He bit my tongue, not hard, but enough that I was afraid to pull it out of his mouth. He finally let go of my tongue and I placed the tray over his lap. "What's this?" my baby asked.
I replied, "I think today is someone's birthday."
Jordan smiled at me, and his smile melted my heart more today than when we first met. He said, "Every day is SOMEONE'S birthday. I'm guessing that you think today is mine."
I grinned, "No one would tell me for sure, but they hinted to that fact."
Jordan motioned for me to move closer, as if he wanted to tell me a secret and there were invisible people in the room. As I moved closer, Jordan kissed my cheek, and then said, "They hinted correctly. I'm not sure how much effort you put in, but last year, I asked the secretary once a week when your birthday would be. She always told me that she couldn't answer that question. It got to the point where as soon as she saw me, she would just shake her head until finally on the first of May, she said, 'You know I can't tell you his birthday, but do you and your lover boy have plans for the eleventh?'"
I felt bad because I found out Jordan put a lot of effort into finding out my birthday and I didn't even think to find out his until last week. I was lucky that it hadn't passed yet. I felt like I don't deserve such an amazing guy. He went out of his way last year to make my birthday special, and when I took him home at Christmas, Dad yelled at us and told us to get out of the house.
Jordan sensed my depression; he grabbed my right hand and kissed it. He inquired, "Babe, what's wrong?" After telling him how wonderful he is and how unworthy I am, he kissed each finger on my hand. He looked in my eye and told me, "When it's true love, there is no, 'I'm not worthy of your love.' I don't love you because I think I'm worthy, I just love you. And sure, because of my love, I feel I'm not worthy of yours, but I know you love me despite my feeling of inadequacy."
I felt better but was still convinced I was the lucky one of us. And we celebrated his birthday, doing things he wanted to do.
Jace woke me up in an amazing way, he kissed me. Then he placed a tray of food over my lap and said that it was someone's birthday. I decided to play coy and tell him that every day is someone's birthday.
I think I made a mistake by telling him how much effort I put into finding out his birthday because he became depressed. I grabbed his right hand and kissed it. Then I queried, "Babe, what's wrong?"
After he told me how unworthy he was to be my boyfriend, I explained what true love means to me. I told him, "Because I love you so much, I feel unworthy, but know I am loved."
We ate our breakfasts and then Jace brought over a blue cake. He cut off a piece and fed it to me; then I did the same to him. I felt like we were practicing for the wedding cake.
After we finished eating, we carried the cake to the common area and told everyone to enjoy. Jace handed me a present. It was a new game called "Dragon World." It's an RPG game that you play in the holodeck, but it's linked to holodecks all over the world. It's based on some game that was invented before computers by a guy named Gary Gygax.
Visiting a holodeck, we installed the game. Jace chose to play a rogue while I like the paladin. Upon entering the holodeck, I spotted a castle off in the distance. We walked into a tavern and Jace ordered a round of mead for us. Some shady guy came over and offered us an adventure. We accepted and joined a group of people from Australia doing the same adventure. It was really cool. I started wondering if the ships' holodecks will be able to connect to any other holodecks like this.
I woke up early and made my journal entry, "Cadet River's Journal, I couldn't wait until today arrived. I have some things really special in line to surprise my love. I don't want to tell you too much as I want them to be a surprise and he might wake up, but I want today to be so special." After it was done, I video-chatted with my mom. I had to wish her a happy Mother's Day, and make sure everything was set up. I heard Jace starting to stir, and when I looked over, I saw sadness in his eye. He asked, "Was that your mom? I wanted to wish her a Happy Mother's Day, especially since I can't call mine."
I felt sad for him. "I promise; we will make it over there so you can do it personally. You know how much she and Dad love you."
He looked down and my heart ached, "I do, and thank you." We left for breakfast.
Today was my fifteenth Birthday, it's a Sunday, so it's also Mother's Day. I felt sad that I can't call home to wish Mom a happy one. Jordan was on the comm with his mom when I awoke. After we talked, Jordan took me out for breakfast. I am surprised when they sat us at a table for six instead of two. He told me to close my eyes and when I did, I heard the other chairs getting moved. I think it's nice that he invited his parents to join us, but who else is here? Why did I need to close my eyes? I wanted to open my eyes and peek, but I waited. Jordan finally said, "You may open them."
I was stunned, directly across from me was my mom. I started to cry and just mouthed, "Happy Mother's Day." She gave me a loving smile. With her was a five-month-old baby in a highchair; I could only assume that he is Christmas. And as I expected, Dad and Mom Rivers were there. I started calling them that last Christmas. I got up and went around the table. Mom stood up and we hugged. I whispered, "I love you so much, but what will Dad do if he finds out you brought Christmas to see me?"
Mom just smiled, and I heard someone behind me. That familiar voice said, "I already know. I'm still not happy that you're a faggot, but your mother insists that you are my son." I turned around and tried to hug the man, but he backed up. I think he saw how hurt I was by his action, but he showed no sign that he's accepted my being gay, or my being with Jordan. "So, when did you decide you are a fag?"
I shook my head, "Dad, I didn't decide, I discovered I was gay when I met Jordan?"
Dad's voice raised a little as he turned towards Jordan, "So you're the one who turned my son into a fag?"
I got his attention, "DAD! Jordan didn't turn me gay. You don't decide, and you can't be turned. You either are or you aren't. And it's not something that can be fixed."
Dad glared at me, looking me right in my eye. We stared at each other for a long time before he finally looked down. I was determined to stand my ground. He took his first step, "It may take time for me to accept that, but in my heart, I know you are right. I'm sorry that I ruined your birthday; I guess I should go."
I felt a need to hug him and I was surprised that he let me. I whispered in his ear, "You didn't ruin anything and I would love for you to stay. Even when you kicked me out of the house, I still loved you and I always will."
I could hear Dad sobbing, which again surprised me. He hugged me and whispered back, "I'm sorry about that. I overreacted and I never should have spit in your face." Then we parted and he picked up Christmas. Handing my brother to me, he introduced me as his older brother. I kissed the baby on his forehead. This was the best birthday present I could have received.
After I gave Christmas back to Dad, and he put him back in his highchair, he sat beside Mom. We ate a nice breakfast together and he kept watching Jordan and me. It kinda felt creepy a bit, but it also felt good that Dad was watching us. I noticed that his expression was slowly changing.
We finished breakfast and Dad walked over to us. He said, "I still don't fully accept that you are gay." I was surprised when he didn't say fag or faggot. He continued, "But I will. Before you return from your mission, I promise, I will be there. And if Chris turns out to be gay, at least he won't get the same reaction that his older brother got. I may be disappointed about not having grandchildren, unless you adopt or something, but I will accept him as I am trying to accept you." Before I could thank him, he turned towards Jordan and ordered, "You take care of my son. He loves you very much and I can see how much you love him." Then he hugged Jordan. OK, now this really is the best birthday present.
I thought about telling Mom and Dad about the wedding, but I was worried that it might be too soon for Dad. Jordan spoke up, "Jace and I were invited to get married before we launch. I would appreciate your blessing, but even more, I would love for you to be there."
Dad looked at me, and I could tell that while he's not totally accepting, he was at least trying. Turning back to Jordan he averred, "If you love my son even half as much as I think you do, you have my blessing. Either you, or Jace give us a call with the details., I would love to see my oldest son get married." I just started to cry, feeling all the pain I was holding, going away.
Dad and Mom Rivers headed home, so Jordan and I gave Mom, Dad and Christmas a tour of the city. We showed them any place that they might find interesting. I caught Mom and Dad holding hands like they were teenagers in love. And Mom even sneaked in a kiss a few times.
For lunch, we went to the Rivers' home. Dad and Mom Rivers had a nice table set out. There's also a table with presents on it. After we ate, I started opening my gifts. Dad and Mom Rivers gave me hockey skates. Mom and Dad must have sacrificed for me again. Their gift was simply an envelope containing dinner reservations for two at a romantic restaurant. There was also a two hundred credit gift card for us to use to pay. I guess Dad was trying to accept Jordan even before breakfast. I started to cry and I saw Dad start to come over, but he stopped and smiled as Jordan put his arm around me. I don't think that this birthday could get any better. There was no gift from Jordan, but I figured all the effort he made for me to reconcile with my dad was his present.
Mom and Dad said that they needed to head home and Dad looked at me, "If you and Jordan can come visit before you launch, you will be accepted at home, Son. I love you." Dad took me in his arms as I started to cry.
Our reservations weren't for a few hours, so Jordan asked if I wanted to try out my new skates. I replied that there weren't any hockey rinks open this time of year, so we went to the Holodecks on base. We got the last one open and created a hockey game.
As we were playing, some twelve-year-old boy walked in. I recognized him; he was the kid who had the highest score on the Introduction to Astrogation Entrance Exam. After meeting with Bowman, I was told that Astrogation will be part of my curriculum after we launch. Being in a command position, it is a requirement. I've already taken the exam and was told that I was accepted, but they didn't tell me how I did.
Anyway, Kyle Robinson walked in wearing a basketball jersey and shorts. He also had a basketball in his hand and looked disappointed when he saw ice instead of a basketball court. I skated over to him and he explained, "I came to use a holodeck, but all of them are taken. I saw that this one was listed as having an arena, so I was hoping…"
I told him, "That's not a problem; I like basketball, too. We can switch if you would like to join us." He smiled at that. I heard that he was the loner type, but I also understood that he was working to fit in.
We switched to playing basketball and I have to admit, Kyle is pretty good, maybe better than me, but I did give him a challenge. Considering he's younger, he was awesome. When we were done, Jordan and I told Kyle that he was welcome to join us whenever we play. He seemed to like that.
Jordan and I went back to the dorm so we could shower before going to supper. As we were stripping, I looked over to tell Jordan that this is the best birthday. As I did, I saw a beautiful blue dragon outline on his left butt cheek. It gave me the impression of a celestial dragon. I walked over to him and asked, "What's that?"
Jordan smirked, "I had it done yesterday so I could surprise you today. It shows that I am all yours, Baby. Happy Birthday."
I told him, "Babe, you don't need anything to show that you're mine. But I love the thought and I love the dragon. And your cute butt just got cuter."
Jordan smiled, "I'm glad you like it, I also got you this." And he handed me a present. I unwrapped it and there's the same dragon lit up, in a 3D portrait.
I wrapped myself around Jordan and started to cry. Through my tears, I whispered, "How did I get so lucky to have you for a boyfriend, and eventually as a husband. Last year was an awesome birthday, but this year, you outdid yourself."
He confessed, "All I did was get the tattoo and the portrait. I told Mom what I wanted to do, and she called your mom and they made it happen. I love you, Babe."
I queried, "But, it was your idea to get my mom and dad here?"
He admitted, "Your mom and Christmas, anyway. It was my mom and your mom who got your dad here. I'm glad that they did."
I kissed him and replied, "I am too."
We got our shower and arrived at the restaurant ten minutes early. The maître de looked at Jordan and spoke French, "Bonsoir, Maître Rivers. Voulez-vous la table habituelle de vos parents?" (" \"Good evening, Master Rivers. Would you like your parents' usual table?\"")
"Oui, Monsieur Douglas," Jordan replied. "We would love their usual table."
I was surprised and said, "Je ne savais pas que tu parlais Français." (" \"I didn't know you spoke French.\" ")
Jordan smiled, "We've been together for a year and nine months and I still surprise you. Before Dad started his own business, he used to work for a Frenchman named Henri Angèlo. He would come over every Saturday and Sunday since I was born. He asked Dad if he and Mom would mind him teaching me French once I started to talk. Until he passed away two years ago, we continued chatting from time to time."
He looked sad, "You miss him, don't you?"
"Yeah, Babe," Jordan started. I could see a tear in his eye. "I do. This is actually the first time I've used French since."
I got a smile on my face, "I couldn't tell. If you would like to speak French from time to time as a way in which to honor him, I'd be happy to chat with you. But if it's too painful, I understand."
Jordan flashed me his smile and proclaimed, "Je pense qu'il aimerait cela." ("I think he would like that.")
I just reached over and placed my hand on his.
We enjoyed our meal and gave the balance of the credits to our waiter. We returned to our quarters and just enjoyed each other's company until it was lights out, if you know what I mean.
Today was the last day of the Spring Session. We have a week before the Summer Session begins; Jordan and I put in a request for leave to visit my parents during the break.
As we approached their door, it flung open. Dad came out and hugged Jordan, "I wasn't expecting you boys so soon, but it's nice seeing you."
As Dad hugged me, I replied, "We are between classes. This may be our last chance to visit and see you until the wedding."
Dad gave me a kiss on the cheek and said, "Then, I'm definitely glad you made the effort. Come inside and I'll have Mom fix a snack."
I felt nervous, but I had to ask, "If you don't have a problem with it, Jordan and I can stay for four days before we need to head back. Would it upset you if he sleeps in my bed?"
Dad gave me a glimpse of a smile, "You two are going to be married. As long as neither of you get pregnant, I don't have a problem with it."
This was a good visit and I really felt like Dad had finally accepted my being gay. And the way he was with Jordan, I felt like I'm almost marrying a brother. We spent the entire time allotted for our visit and couldn't have felt any more accepted.
We started our Summer Session, but instead of our regular classes, we were taking part in an intensive command seminar prior to launch. The instructors warned us that the sessions would be quicker than usual so it may prove difficult.
The closer we got to launch, the more intense the instructors got. Jordan and I didn't have any issues. That boy is so intelligent, but he doesn't let it affect the way he deals with people, like the boy who stares back at me when I look in the mirror. For that, I think Jordan may be more intelligent than me.
We completed the seminar last week and were told that the grades would be posted today. Jordan and I went to check the board and we saw Kyle Robinson doing the same. He took a quick look and smiled, so I asked, "How'd you do?"
"As I expected, and congrats," he replied.
Jordan inquired, "Congrats for what?"
Kyle smirked, "Just look at the board."
We did and saw...
We didn't need to look any lower, so we turned back towards Kyle. I responded, "I guess congrats are in order for you as well. Um, Jordan and I have a holodeck reserved for tonight. It won't be basketball, but we thought you might like to join us."
Kyle looked thoughtful and asked, "Then what will you be doing? I can't say whether I will join without knowing."
Jordan spoke, "Jace gave me the game 'Dragon World' for my birthday. It's a type of RPG, and we think you would enjoy it."
I added, "And this will help you learn to interact with others better." Jordan smacked me for saying that. I guess I still need some work, myself.
Kyle looked a little hurt by what I said, but he responded, "What time? I may join you, but I can't promise anything now."
"I'm sorry, I shouldn't have said what I did. We have the holodeck reserved for 1800 tonight."
We waited to see if Kyle would show up. At 1815 hours, the ensign running the holodecks informed us that if we weren't going to use it, he had others that would like to make use of it. We told him that if Kyle Robinson showed up, to instruct him about which Holodeck to join, and then we went in.
It was a few days later that we saw Kyle again. He looked in our direction and then looked ashamed, so we walked over to him. He apologized, "I'm sorry that I didn't make it to your birthday and play the game with you. It's just that…"
Jordan spoke first, "I think what we said may have misled you. Friday wasn't my birthday. Jace gave me the game for my birthday, but it was in April. You have nothing to be sorry for."
Kyle had a slight look of relief on his face, "I'm not very good at games. I wasn't allowed to play growing up, and I was too embarrassed, so I did something I am comfortable with."
I chuckled, "You are too good at games. You know all those simulations that you aced, those are actually games to see how you do. 'Dragon's World' is programmed into the holodecks, so if you ever want to try it on your own, you can. I must warn you, unless you tell it to turn off the world connection, there will be players from around the world. Some are not so nice and may tease you for being new. Others may embrace you and help you learn. Our first time, we met a man named EZiegler. He was really nice and taught us a lot."
Jordan added, "Yeah, the game is based on medieval times and there are ten different classes that you can be. I like being a paladin, Jace likes the rogue, but there's also a priest, a mage, a warrior…"
I continued, "Then you have a warlock, a hunter, a druid, a shaman, or a stargazer." I think the last one got Kyle's attention.
He asked, "What does a stargazer do in the game?"
Jordan smiled, "Much like you do in Astrogation. They read the stars to navigate, and they make predictions based on what the stars tell them. They wear cloth robes and fight using staves."
I could tell, Kyle seemed interested. "Feel free to try it out, there is a tutorial mode. And if you ever become comfortable enough, you can join us another time," I suggested and we left.
Jace and I were asked to leave early; as we boarded the shuttle, I thought I saw Kyle Robinson hugging an officer. I didn't recognize him, so I'll have to find out who he is from Kyle aboard ship. Jace and I got on the shuttle and I started thinking. This would be our last day on earth for thirty years. That was both scary and thrilling. Having Jace by my side helped ease some of my fears. We held hands and his palms were sweaty. I had to ask, "Babe, are you as nervous as I am?"
He gave me a nervous chuckle, "On one hand, I will be with the person I care about the most, but this is a totally new adventure. We have no clue as to what we will come across. There's no guarantee that we will ever return. Our wedding day will be the last day we will see either of our parents for at least thirty years, if not ever. Christmas is just a baby. He will be thirty years old when we return. Damn right I'm nervous, but I have you."
I smiled, "I'm glad I'm not the only one, but this will be exciting, too."
He kissed my hand as we took our seats. As we waited to take off, I wondered if Kyle would be on this one. I looked out and he was still chatting with that officer. I see them hug a few more times, so I asked Jace, "Do you know who that man is that Kyle Robinson is hugging?"
Jace shook his head, "No, but they look very close. I wish that was his dad, but the stories I heard about him..."
I slowly nodded my head, "Yeah, I heard those stories, too. At least he does have someone who seems to care about him."
We were surprised to see Fleet Admiral Mirah joining our flight; I thought he would have taken a private shuttle. Mirah looked happy as he took his seat; he kept watching Kyle and the officer interact. Once he was seated, the shuttle took off.
As the shuttle flew us to our ship, we saw all of the different ships in orbit above earth. It almost looked like an invasion force. We saw the SS Explorer; it looked like the ship on our patch. I heard that it is the best class of ship. Jace pointed out the SS Hammerhead. It made me think of a Hammerhead shark, in a way. It's more of a science vessel with less defenses then our ship, but it still has some fire power.
I looked out and saw in the dock beside the Sooloo, the SS Crusader. She is more geared for defending. There will be only a few ships like her going out. Their main mission is to answer distress calls within their sectors. I'm glad we're not the boys on one of those ships. They have the lowest expectancy to return. The Sooloo is capable on her own for science and defense, we are more of a general purpose vessel. They should have called it the jeep class.
As the shuttle landed in the shuttle bay, we were greeted by Captain Bowman and the XO. After they greeted us, Jace made his way to the computer terminal and found our quarters. We walked in and he saw the perfect spot to place the picture I gave him. He is so proud of the picture. We went to the bedroom and Jace put his bags on the floor out of the way. He flopped down on the bed and wanted to go right to sleep, but I reminded him that we were requested to come aboard early for a reason.