Chronicles Of A Red Shirt

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A Dream Realized

I had always dreamed of becoming a member of Starfleet. I suppose it started with my grandfather. He had been a lieutenant in Starfleet and was retired by the time I was a young child. I remember sitting in the livingroom of my parents' house when I was young and listening to my grandfather's stories. Every he story he shared with me was filled with terror but, more importantly, adventure. I loved every single story he told. My father used to tell his father off for telling me such tales, as he called them. He didn't want me getting it in my head that Starfleet was all fun and games, as he felt my grandfather told me. My father had become a finance adviser and had made a good life for himself and his children. He had never understood the affection my grandfather had for long distant worlds and exploration. He felt such a feeling was best left in the past and wanted none of that to linger in me.

My grandfather, however, had hooked me on the sweet taste of something amazing. I daydreamed constantly of the stars and explorations onto other planets and meeting aliens outside our little world. That lust for adventure blazed through my blood and could not be put out by my father's strict feelings about Starfleet. He felt I was better suited for planet life.

But I had other plans for my future.

After my grandfather died shortly after my sixteenth birthday, I felt lost in the world. Swallowed by grief, I was persuaded by my father to follow in his own footsteps and go into a field of finance and safe work on the planet. But not too long after starting my career, I found myself loathing it. I knew in my heart that it wasn't something I wanted to do. Despite my father's guidance and my years of training, I still found myself watching the stars with longing.

Several years after my grandfather's death, I was looking through the attic of my parents' house for some decorations for a family gathering. I happened to come across a box in the corner that I had sworn had not been there before. Curiosity, I admit, got the better of me that day and I looked into it. The contents contained a number of things that had once belonged to my grandfather; many of which were his possessions left over from his years of service.

At the bottom of the box, I found a disheveled journal. As I started flipping through it, it was as if my grandfather had suddenly come back. Something awoke deep within me and it all seemed so obvious from that point forward. It was as if the hand of Fate had come out and smacked me across the face. The haze was gone from my life and I knew what I had to do.

When I broke the news to my family that I had decided to enlist in Starfleet, both of my parents took it hard, but none worse than my father. We got into a huge argument afterward that led to me storming from the house for several hours. My sister was concerned but had known for a while that I was unhappy with the way my life had turned out. She told me that, even though she did not approve completely, she understood my need to go. My mother took the same position (only she required more convincing) but my father kept his beliefs until the very end.

On the day I was to depart to the Academy, my whole family was gathered. My father I knew had to be forced to attend the farewell gathering by my mother but there he stood: stubborn and sullen faced. I knew he was still angry with me, but I also knew that I was doing the right thing for myself. I needed to leave.

My sister and my mother both gave me a long hug and had to hold back their tears before I left. I appreciated their affection and told them I would be fine and that I would remain in contact. My father seemed to be perfectly content with leaving me that day without another word to me. It was not until my family started walking away that my father lingered for a moment. I was wary at this action, believing that he would only stand to lecture me some more before I disappeared. However he had a different idea in mind. He patted me on the shoulder, squeezed my shoulder with his large hand and it was only then that I saw small tears welling up on the edges of his eyes. He told me to stay safe.

That was the last thing he said to me before I departed but out of the whole ceremony, his words were the ones that brought tears to my eyes.

I have not seen my family for three years while training at the Academy. I am heading there now before I leave for my first mission. I have a two week leave before I report to my station on the U.S.S. Enterprise. This is what I have been looking forward to my entire life. I finally get the chance to explore other worlds. And all reports from friends and research has told me that the Enterprise is one of the best ships of all the ships of Starfleet. I can not wait to begin up there in the stars.

The Return Home

"I'm surprised you still have all your limbs." My sister, Natasha, said appreciatively as I started my familiar walk up to the house.

"Ha ha, very funny." I returned sarcastically and stuck out my tongue at her. She laughed.

"I see that the Starfleet Academy has not trained the obnoxious attitude out of you." She beamed. I shrugged.

"I save that only for you, Natty." She made a disgruntled face at the nickname.

"You know I hate that." I only smiled as I passed her by and made my way into the house.

My mom rushed up to me when I put my first foot on the floorboards. "Victor, he's home!" She cried to my father, her eyes swimming with tears of joy as she hugged me. The force of the embrace caused me to drop one of my bags on the floor. She littered my face with kisses and continued to hug me as if she was afraid that I would disappear again if she let me go. "I've missed you so much, Zachary! How have you been? How do you like the Academy? Everyone's nice to you there, I hope." Her bombardment of questions didn't skip a beat and I had to chuckle. She was always looking out for me.

Patting her on the shoulder as I finally was able to slip myself away, I smiled at her. "Everything's fine, mom. And I love the Academy. Everyone's great."

"I'm glad." My mom said as her tears welled up again. She placed one arm across her chest and with her other hand she covered her mouth while she tried to fight the urge to cry. She regained her composure just when my father finally made his appearance in the main room.

"Son," he greeted me with a simple nod of the head. He stood off awkwardly several yards away. My heart clenched at the formal and impersonal greeting. Despite that, I managed a smile.

"Hello, father." I returned. My mother recognized the exchange and shot a disheartened look at her husband.

"For god's sakes, Victor, show a bit more compassion." She scolded. My father looked taken aback by her words but followed them. Looking back at me, he moved closer and held out his hand. I accepted it, still feeling a little unnerved by his coldness towards me Which surprised me even more when, after a brief handshake, he pulled me in for a hug. Again, it was brief, but at least the action seemed the lighten the tense air between us.

My mom looked around the room in happiness. "We're all back together again." She beamed. Another wave of emotion threatened to overcome her but she held it in check. I was always impressed by my mother's strength in that regard. She was an emotional woman for sure, but she could also hold her own. I always assumed it had something to do with being married to my father.

"So," Natasha broke in after the silence overtook our greetings. "When's dinner?" I turned and shared a smile at my sister. She winked at me in return.

An hour later I found myself sitting around the dinner table. My mom had just finished putting the last dish on the table when I was once again bombarded with questions.

"When do you have to leave again?" Was the first one delivered by my sister.

"Natasha." My mother scolded. "I don't think that's appropriate dinner conversation." Natasha laughed.

"I know you don't want to think about that happening, mom, but it's not as if I am bringing up a taboo subject." My mother muttered something like "you are to me" under her breath that was ignored by the rest of the table. My father sat forward in his chair.

"Yes, son. When are you leaving again?" My mom shot him a dangerous look but he only shrugged helplessly back.

I smiled shortly. "My transport leaves at 0800 in a week and a half."

"Are you returning to the Academy?" Natasha again.

"No, actually. I got assigned to be on the newest crew leaving for the U.S.S. Enterprise. They had several vacancies and one of my instructors at the Academy recommended me for duty."

"And what kind of ship is that?" My mother asked, looking down at her food as if afraid to know the answer.

"It's a survey ship."

"What does that mean?"

"Well it mostly means that they travel from planet to planet and conduct research. You know, of the landscape, the people, the plants…that sort of thing."

"And is it a combat ready ship?" My mother asked.

"It's Starfleet, mom. Everything is combat ready."

My mom sighed, looking slightly irritated as if she hadn't phrased the question the way she wanted to. "I mean if war was declared, would your ship be sent to battle?"

I knew what she was getting at. She wanted me to tell her that no, I would never go into war and yes, I was going to be perfectly safe and never fall under any danger. But as much as I loved my mom, I knew it would only destroy her if I was to lie to her and then head off to war. There was silence that fell across the table as the three members of my close family waited in anticipation of my answer.

I sighed.

"If war were to break out, we would be sent into combat." My mother looked horrified at my answer. The last thing in the world I wanted to do was worry her but I wasn't going to lie to her. "It's a military operation, mom. It's standard."

My mother looked too shocked to voice anything and my sister, realizing this, stepped in and steered the conversation back to a happier topic.

"So what are you going to do while you're stationed on the Enterprise?"

"I'm going to be working in the biology labs." I said, thankful that she successfully took attention away from the war talk. "Once we have our orders, we travel to the planets, a survey team is sent down on the surface and they gather samples for the Federation. When they bring them back, we will receive all the samples relevant to the biology lab and we'll gather our data about them."

"Who's going to be your senior officer?" My father asked, finally seeming to take a slight interest in my career path. I was almost shocked into speechlessness when he asked.

"His name's Dr. Leonard McCoy."

My father frowned. "Hmm. Never heard of him."

I couldn't help the smile that wormed its way across my face. "Well, he didn't serve with granddad." There was an odd hush that fell over the table; almost a common moment of silence in honor of his memory. I looked down at my still untouched plate of food, consumed with an embarrassed feeling I couldn't quite explain.

"Still," I cleared my throat, wanting the tension of the silence to ease. "He is an excellent medical doctor and a great scientist."

"Have you met him before?" My father asked, raising an eyebrow.

"No," I admitted. "But his reputation precedes him." My father coughed briefly but I swore it was only to cover a scoff attempt at my comment. My eyes narrowed slightly as I looked at him but soon realized my action and turned away before he noticed anything.

Trying to turn the conversation around, I looked up at my mother and smiled. "So what's new around here? Have I missed much?"

After dinner I went out back behind the house to the little field my family owned. I walked up to the pond, found some scattered rocks and pebbles and started trying to skip rocks along the surface. That's where Natasha found me.

"Are you alright?" She asked from behind. I shrugged noncommittally and continued with my rock skipping. It wasn't working out well for me. Every stone tossed sank to the bottom of the shallow pond. I could feel Natasha's eyes watching me. After failing to skip several more stones, I turned back to her, irritated.

"What?" I snapped, sounding much more annoyed than I had intended. She looked taken aback but didn't say anything about it. I sighed, regretting taking out my anger on her. My eyes fell to the ground as I mumbled out an apology. Natasha just walked up beside me and placed a hand on my shoulder.

"What's eating you, little bro?" She asked kindly. A heavy sigh escaped me.

"I think dad hates me." Unable to hold it in, a laugh fell out of her. My eyes narrowed in seriousness as I looked at her. "I'm serious."

She chuckled a few more times and shook her head. "That's why it's funny, Zach. It's just so untrue. A man of science should be able to see that." I looked back at the pond and slowly shook my head.

"I don't want to believe that he hates me. But he's been so cold towards me."

"He's a businessman. That's just how they're programmed. He is really glad you're home."

"Is he?" I retorted. "He doesn't seem at all that interested that I'm here. I mean, he was judging everything I said while we were at the dinner table."

Natasha rolled her eyes and shook her head. I could tell she was beginning to lose a little patience with me. "You're being ridiculous." She replied pointedly. "Dad's just worried about you. He loves you and you know that."

"He never wanted me to join the Academy." I muttered.

"Can you blame him?" My sister's question surprised me and the look I gave her showed those exact feelings. "It's scary for a parent to have to face the reality that their child might end up at war. I know the Federation is a peace-keeping union, but let's face it, Zach: war happens. And it's scary. He and mom just want to keep you safe." I knew what she said was right; I'd always known it was the truth. But hearing those words out of the mouth of my sister somehow made it more clear. "I don't want to see you hurt either, Zach. I love you; we all do. I know this is what you've wanted to do since you were a kid so I'm happy for you that you're doing it. But we're still all going to be worried about you. You can't stop that from happening. But it's stupid to misinterpret feelings of worry for feelings of hatred." As if to clarify her point, she slapped the back of my head.

"Ow," I said pitifully, raising my hand to rub the spot where I'd been struck.

"You deserved it." Natasha scolded defiantly. I stared at my sister for several minutes before an eruption of laughs escaped me. She looked at me, somewhat bewildered.

"Thanks, Natty." I smiled at her. She smiled back and put an arm around me.

"No problem, Zachy."

"So…" I looked up at my sister and smiled warmly at her. "Tell me: have you found a boyfriend finally?" She smiled at me despite the glaring look she gave and playfully punched me in the arm.

"Don't get smart on me, little brother." I couldn't help but laugh.

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