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Call From Home

Posted on Wed May 11th, 2016 @ 1:00pm by Captain Julius Whitlam

Mission: The Ties That Bind
Location: Captain's Quarters

The noise ended and Julius made a show of clapping energetically. “Bravo!” he cried, his face lit up with excited pleasure as his daughter took a little bow on the other side of the real-time subspace connection.

“Did you like it, Daddy?” seven year old Erin Whitlam asked, beaming as she carefully replaced her violin and bow into its case.

“It was beautiful, sweetheart,” he replied. A little white lie to spare the feelings of his daughter; she couldn't understand that no matter how well she played, his brain was incapable of interpreting the notes as anything other than noise.

Zoe entered the frame and sat down next to their daughter, who hugged her tight and said, “Mummy, he said it was beautiful!”

“I told you he’d love it,” Zoe said, flashing Julius a knowing smile.

Usually he didn’t pay attention to, or much care about, his tone-deafness, but at times like this, Julius cursed those malformed axons inside his head.

“How are you holding up?” Zoe asked later after the kids were out of the room.

Julius shrugged. “About as well as can be expected,” he said, wanting nothing more than to hold his wife while they spoke. “We keep losing people. Thankfully, that’s been mostly to transfer lately. Seems every couple of weeks I’ve got new faces around the briefing table and –”

“Julius,” she interrupted, holding up both her hands to stop him. “Honey, I don’t care about all that. I asked, how are you holding up?”

He cracked a smile, realising that she was right – of course – and he was talking about his crew instead of himself. “Sorry,” he said. “You’re right. Umm … I’m … I’m holding up okay. I just try to focus on the job at hand and not dwell on the negatives. But I worry. I worry about what’s in front of us. I worry about whether I’m up to this job. Leading men and women into war. Can I really do this? Sometimes I … I just don’t know.”

She smiled a reassuring smile that made his heart jump. “Of course you can,” she said in a way that couldn’t be argued against. “You’re the strongest man I’ve ever known. I know you can do this. I believe in you, but more than that your crew believes in you. Every ship you’ve commanded, your crew has followed you without hesitation. You can do this, Julio. Just keep your focus, get the job done and you’ll be home with us before you know it – before we know it.”

He nodded and took a deep breath, gazing at his wife so many light-years away. “You haven’t called me Julio in a long time,” he said, cracking a smile and feeling somewhat foolish for his self-doubt.

“Well, you haven’t been home in a long time,” she replied, reflecting his smile. “Try and fix that, would you?”

“I’ve got a war to win first.”

She scoffed. “Well hurry up and win it!”

He affected a mock salute, “Yes, ma’am!” before they both broke into laughter.

The laughter subsided and a moment of calm silence lingered between them, the kind of comfortable silence made possible only by an unbreakable bond shared between two people. They stared out at each other, technology bridging the unimaginable distance between them so that in that moment they were as close as they had ever been.

“I love you,” Julius said breaking the silence as the warning notification started to flash on his screen. Time on the connection was running out and it would soon be disconnected. Ten seconds.

“I love you, too.”

The seconds ticked down until the connection would terminate. “Kiss the kids goodnight for me. Tell them I love them. Tell them I’ll see them soon.”

Zoe nodded, “I will.”

“Talk again soon.”

“You better.”

The connection terminated.

Captain Julius Whitlam
Commanding Officer
USS Manoora


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