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‘A Message Home'

Noah Cutler's quarters, Deck 6

In his quarters, Noah finished signing off. He quickly reviewed the recording feeling despondent and frustrated. As he listened to his words, he could read the truth that lay behind them.

Hi Mom,

I guess I really ought to talk direct to you but to be honest Mom I'm nervous to. I know when I see your face I'll see the doubts you have and the worries you have for me. But truth is ...

Cutler set back on his bunk in front of the screen pausing for thought. He wanted to tell his Mom everything. He wanted nothing more than to speak to her and hear her comforting voice in return. She would probably put on smiles and pretend that she was delighted with his posting and happy for her son to be starting on his grand adventures just as his grandfather had.

It would be a lie and a facade she would out up to keep her son happy. He in turn had to do the same in order to reassure her that all was well.

... there's no need to worry. Captain McGregor is a brave man with a fierce reputation and a well-trained crew who know their business. So there's no need to worry about my safety.

He hoped this reassured her. She might see through it. Would she worry more about what it was he was holding back? Then again, she was use to seeing Noah hide his feelings. All his life he had had to hold back. He had to restrain himself and be careful of his thoughts, his feelings, his actions. Others put this behaviour down to a hesitant cautious nature. Others thought Noah to be a coward.

Others he imagined like his new captain.

The Captain is ...somewhat unorthodox, but I think that is par for the course in Border Service. He's not genial or diplomatic but ... unpredictable in his mood. He's had over twenty years experience serving on the Kestrel though and knows her inside and out.

Noah knew he wasn't a coward per se but he did worry. Worry about his mother. Worry about his first posting. Worry about the fact he was posted to a border cutter. Worry about the secret and the effect of his lineage on others. He worried too about the impression he had made on the Captain when he reported aboard.

So far he came across as an idiotic bumbling nervous ensign who was nothing more than a wet behind the ears Starfleet graduate without a clue about the ‘real world' of life aboard a ship.

The fact that the Captain was a grunt who had made it up through the NCO ranks to become a starship captain and therefore had no outward fondness for ‘academy trained brats' or ‘paper accredited officers' made matters worse.

McGregor had an uncanny ability to look through a person and see the core of their being and measured them to his standards as to whether they were fit to serve aboard his ship. Noah felt that measuring stare was disappointed in what it found. McGregor had judged him and found his new Ops ensign wanting.

I certainly made an impression on the Captain and the other senior officers warmly welcomed me. Of course, Jex is being extremely helpful in helping me get use to life aboard a ship and getting acquainted with the layout of the Miranda class. She served on one in a previous life and is excited about serving aboard another again. You know Jex, always a positive to every situation.

In truth, Jex was an enormous help and a reassuring comfort. A close friend from his last year at the Academy they had found themselves sharing their first berth aboard the Kestrel. She helped Cutler make sense of the strenuous ship's tour provided by the Captain via Jeffries tubes, conduits, airlocks and meanders on the hull in an EVA! Her positive demeanour was infectious but also jarring as he tried to keep up with insincere smiles.

McGregor's unorthodox, but thorough, tour epitomised the command style of this uncouth, unpredictable and acerbic firebrand captain. He had constantly wrong footed the three ensigns he had taken on tour and took great delight in making Noah squirm in his ignorance to questions posed and the undermining, racist and sexist comments he made en route. Cutler was still unsure whether it was all an act or whether their captain really was as unprofessional as he appeared to be.

Jex's response to the Captain was of course to laugh or take it in her stride. But as a joined Trill she had several lifetimes of experience to fall back on and her cool calm confidence was in marked contrast to his blushing and his incoherent babbling or stating the bleeding obvious or bleeding stupid. That was the height of the impression he had made upon McGregor.

There's a lot to take onboard and I'm still trying to remember the names of the key staff personnel, never mind the different NCOs and trying to recall everything the captain told us about the ship's layout and procedures.

Life aboard the Miranda class vessel was going to be very different to what he imagined life on a starship would be. It would be cramped and limited in luxury. The routine would be tedious scanning and patrol broken by knife throat fighting and dangerous search and rescue operations. So much of what he had learned at the Academy was defunct or inapplicable to the circumstances he now found himself serving.

Truth was, he had never expected nor wanted to serve in the Border Service. All this McGregor gleaned when he gave Noah his measuring glare and judged him unfit. The Captain's judgement was no less for Noah not wanting to serve aboard a boarder cutter. He felt the disappointment of the failure to impress his first-ever commanding officer, even one like McGregor. Why could he not have had a posting on a Galaxy, New Orleans or Nebula class! Why had he been shunted off to the side to the poor cousin branch of Starfleet the Border Service?

I'm really looking forward to serving aboard the vessel and it's a great opportunity to learn my craft serving aboard an older vessel and really having to work. And of course, I know I keep saying that, but it is exciting to think that I am following in granddad's steps serving aboard a cutter. A Cutler aboard a Cutter!

He gave a small feeble laugh but thought to himself, ‘I just hope I can cut it'. He had his grandfather's reputation to live up to but that in itself was a concern too. He decided not to dwell on it. So far he was bound not to have sounded too heartfelt in his words and had not served to reassure his mother any.

Anyway Mom, I just want you to know I'm thinking of you and I hope you're ok. Honestly, everything is going fine here and I'll talk proper real soon. It's just I'm busy and have lots going on in my head. This really is the start of my adventures and my chance to ...

Find myself. Be myself. Run from myself.

... see the universe and explore strange new worlds. Just imagine Mom, when we launch I will be out there among the stars. Look up and spot a star and I might very well be flying by it. Kinda cool that.

There was genuine enthusiasm now in his voice and his spirits were raised, however briefly, thinking in this line. He decided to end it on that note. Therefore, he signed off with a simple but warm goodbye. With just a barest hint of melancholy, he signed off:

I love you and I miss you.


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