Dear Emily: Letter 3

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.

Dear Emily,

Isabelle would have heard that the PAS was destroyed, and she would have left it at that. She would understand that it did something very strange, she would even understand that it wasn't an explosion — but she would be content to call it that. Isabelle would have learned the names of all 450 (or however many it was) lost lives on the Hades and the PAS, and she would have done what she could to make the tragedy less tragic.

You? Not so. You would understand the loss in terms of vanished resources and diminishing genetic variety, you would grieve the science as well as the souls. You would understand me when I say it wasn't an explosion, it was a transverse hyperlight implosion, and had you seen the data you would have beat me to that conclusion. And when you found out it was engineered, a deliberate act to save the Fleet against overwhelming odds, you would feel as I do. Awestruck. Ecstatic. Horrified. Fascinated, fearful, slightly nauseous. Write it down, Emily, it's a Moment — the first THI humanity has witnessed, let alone created.

All in a day's work for Major Carter, who is equal parts intimidating and inspiring without seeming to realize he's either. The THI was his act, and sticking around to make it happen left him three-quarters dead and in a coma for a few days. He refers to Major Zimmerman as Rhea, she refers to him as Reed… here in military-land where no one has first names and I've nearly forgotten my own, I find that significant. Or perhaps I've invented its significance, but both of them are good people who have suffered much and deserve to be happy. Also, if they were together I could combine 'Rhea' and 'Reed' and refer to them as a single unit named Rhead. Efficient!

I saw Novella again, in sickbay, and she's changed. She was a thistle in the snow — something prickly and stubborn growing in a hostile environment which might eventually kill it. And I think she still is, but there's that blossom now, as though she saw her world was too bleak and decided to throw some color into it. It suits her, it seems healthy. I have to rewrite that song I owe her, now.

Speaking of songs, I told Mopsus Doe I'd try to learn, maybe record, some of the songs from her home. Aerelon? That's got to be the only planet country enough to create the sort of crucible in which a person like Snatch is formed. I'd ask her (again) what planet she's from, but it's clearly a painful subject. Among others. At the rate I poke Snatch in emotional wounds, it's a wonder she hasn't hauled off and hit me with a wrench by now.

Who else have I met? A priestess, Greje, who encouraged me to air out the things I keep in dark, cobwebby parts of my mind. She's probably right in that those things need to see the light of day, but for now, I'm content to let them mold quietly in the corner until they decompose.

I also met a marine named Eli, and I have no idea if this person is male or female. Attempting to figure it out was inwardly awkward, then I felt like an ass for even trying. Why do we as a civilization have this need to ask, "Dangly bits? Yes/No" and get an answer that's definitively one or the other? It's embarrassing. Other questions should matter more when meeting a new person, such as "Are you a facist?" and "Do you have any rationed liquor left?"

You know I never saw the PAS, Emily? I put it off as a goal to work for, something to earn. Something I would allow myself to experience once I got the pins. Now it's gone, there will never be something like that again in my lifetime, and I haven't felt regret this deeply since the last time I saw you.

It's taught me some things. I no longer have the luxury of delay. If something is worth doing, it's worth doing now. And I've learned that even through dying — sometimes only through dying — we can achieve the impossible.

Ensign Quill

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