Dear Emily: Letter 1

Letter 1: Glowing Corpse Mushrooms. Mentioned: Novella, Fotilas, Reed, and Rhea
Letter 2: A Damn High Fuss. Mentioned: Lily and Snatch
Letter 3: Transverse Hyperlight Implosion. Mentioned: Reed, Rhea, Novella, Snatch, Greje, and Eli.
Letter 4: Flowcharts, pilots, and music. Mentioned: Novella, Sloane, Micah, and Dynames.


Written 25 ACH, in Quill's notebook of drawings, songs, notes, Things to Not Forget, engineering speculation, and now letters.

Dear Emily,

What we did was wrong. I didn't know I was that kind of person, before it happened. But apparently I am, and I didn't even have the decency to die in our species-wide holocaust, so now I just have to live with it. Lucky, lucky Emily, I bet you're even beautiful as a corpse. Comparatively, the other corpses cannot hold a candle to your radiance. Did you know there's a sort of fungus that grows on decomposing flesh, that has a sort of bioluminescence to it? You could be literally radiant by now.

Sorry, Emily, poor taste. You wouldn't have minded, though you would have been annoyed that I can't recall the name of the fungus now. I could ask one of the botanists out here, but that's a hard subject to bring up in conversation. 'Hi, how are you? I'm Jonah Quill. Listen, what can you tell me about glowing corpse mushrooms?'

Well, I don't know, now I'm sort of tempted to do it.

Why am I even writing to you? Why you? Why not Isabelle, or Rosa, Mum, Dad, Doctor Anselmo? I could be writing to that janitor in building six, for all the sense it would make. Do you remember him, the way he handled the mop like a weapon? I used to make up stories about that guy, because I believe that everyone is secretly fascinating.

Foxfire! That's what it is. The glowing corpse mushrooms. Foxfire.

I've met secretly fascinating people here, Emily, though of course they haven't told me their fascinating secrets yet. Most of them are in the Navy. Did I tell you I joined the Navy? I became one of Them. Oh, stop it, Emily. I'm overlooking the fact that you're dead, you could repay the kindness and overlook the fact that I wear a uniform these days. I remember you saying that a person in a uniform is just an extension of someone else's will… well, that's me now, Jonah Quill, cog in the machine. I don't know what's worse, the fact that I'm a tool or the fact that I'm sort of looking forward to having tools of my own. Anyway, the secretly fascinating people, and what I've made up about them:

Ensign Novella, Viper Pilot.
Ensign (I do what she says. If I survive training, she does what I say. To a limited degree. I am under the impression that Novella does what anyone says only to a limited degree.)
Pilot. She flies a Viper and you can tell, it's shoot first ask later with this girl. She avoids beans in chili and appreciates paddleboats. She is capable of and willing to part people from their teeth with blunt force trauma. I started writing her a song, but I don't even remember why now… A favor owed? As thanks for telling me various ways to avoid being an asshat? Something like that.
Invented stories: Secretly likes small fuzzy animals. Secretly knows how to kill people with no tools except a barbecue fork and a rubber band. Could potentially dispatch small fuzzy animals in similar fashion, but would feel bad about it, deep down inside.

Colonel Fotilas, Important Dude.
Colonel
(Everyone does what he says).
This is the first and only person I've met who has managed to say YOU'RE IN THE NAVY NOW, BITCH! by using only precise, factual, and rank-appropriate phrases and terms of address. He did say 'frack' once, so I think sleep deprivation is harming his brain. He has something against Marines. I am glad I am not a Marine.
Invented stories: Colonel Fotilas is a decorated karaoke superstar on his homeworld, but cannot now indulge in such frivolous practices because lives are at stake godsdammit! But sometimes, sometimes he still looks over those dusty medals, and a lesser man would weep.

Major Carter, Shifter of Paradigms.
Major (I do what he says and probably always will because seriously, who the frack would make me a Major, ever?)
Major Carter has a space station that is not stationary. I am approaching hero-worship.
Invented stories: Major Carter also has the ability to time travel and turn base metals into tylium.

Major Zimmerman, Chief of Engineering.
Major (I do what she says because she is my boss. After I sold my soul to the Navy they put it in a standard-issue box, filled out paperwork for it, and put it somewhere on Major Zimmerman's desk.)
She talks to machines, which is something I always consider to be a reassuring sign in another person. She's obviously skilled at what she does, and is in total control of her team. Do you remember what it feels like to be a child? The senses of wonder and curiosity, the desire to learn. The anxious certainty that there are rules afoot which you may or may not know about, and which you will probably break at some point either inadvertently or on purpose. That's how I feel in Major Zimmerman's Engineering. She already has a child on the PAS, though, so gods, Jonah, grow the frack up.
Invented stories: The most beloved, important, and influential machine in Engineering is actually Major Zimmerman's coffee maker. Due to exposure to the Major's preternatural way with machines, it has advanced far beyond the ken of any other coffee maker in existence, and is capable of feeling love.

It's not foxfire, frack it. Foxfire grows on decaying wood, not decaying people. I never knew what made you shine so brightly when you were alive, Emily, so it figures that if you're still glowing I still don't know why. Your light was inexplicable and dangerous — oh, what beautiful immolation.

Jonah

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