After the events of Under New Suns
The ship’s command crew, in full dress regalia, stands proudly at attention, all with satisfied smiles on their faces. While the ship has been steeped in turmoil — leadership constantly in question — hardship — the death of good and loyal soldiers — and the bizarre — who knew that ships could give birth? — this moment feels right. It feels worthy. Captain Riker P. Everest, an orphan who grew up on Space Base D-3010, is about to be made an officer in the UPA Marines… But not before his brother West receives the same honor. West’s face is stoic and stern, his chest puffed out as he keeps his shoulders back, standing at attention. “Just relax buddy.” Riker says, chiding West.
“You relax bro, first thing I’m going to do is make you do push-ups.” West replies back with a serious and determined face.
From the captain’s ready room Ortega and TATE emerge, Roseallin holding a decorative box.
“Captain on deck!” Altera announces prompting everyone to salute.
“At ease.” TATE says addressing the room. He takes a moment, locking eyes with every officer briefly before speaking. “So much about our lives this last year has not been what it seemed. This ship, our mission, even this strange universe is not at all what we thought. With our lives being consumed by chaos I am proud to say, through all of it, what has remained consistent is us, and our loyalty to one another. And I believe — I believe —” he emphasizes to the crew, illustrating his retention of his singular mind, “that it was more than just orders that brought us here, it was something larger. And how can I not believe that?
“Person of science or not, it is hard to ignore the fact that we arrived here, on the other end of the galaxy, and in an alternate quantum reality with the only crew that could have navigated all of this with the effectiveness we did.” He takes a moment. “Were it I to assemble this team, I would not have selected even half of you. When I was an ops commander, never would I have dreamed of bringing someone like Altera or Broggs along. An assassin and an empath? Too much could go wrong…
“And yet, they were exactly who we needed. Just as all of you were exactly who we needed. And just as the crew assembled here today are who we need, we find ourselves in the unique situation of knowing that there are two more people that this team requires. Two people that by that same cosmic and unexplainable fate, arrived right when we needed them. I refer, of course, to the men who stand before you. Captain P. Everest safeguarded several members of our crew, and ensured we received much needed supplies at great risk to his own life. His brother West helped us make sense of the quantum data, allowing us not just key information about our past, but also, ultimately, our future.” TATE nodes to Roseallin who opens the felt box to reveal a captain’s bars and a second lieutenant’s bar. “And now, as my last act of command before our upcoming election, I will commission these two fine men to join the United Planetary Alliance Marines, and the crew of our fine vessel.” The room begins applauding as TATE approaches West with Roseallin beside him.
“You look good.” Rose offers quietly.
“Thanks,” Riker replies with a grin.
“She was talking to me bro.” West retorts.
“He’s right, I was.”
Riker rolls his eyes.
“West, as a commissioned officer of the UPA, will you dutifully and to the best of your abilities execute your obligations to this crew and all the UPA stands for?”
“Then it is my privilege on this day, at this time, and aboard this ship to grant you the rank of Second Lieutenant with all the duties and privileges that rank affords. Colonel.” He nods to Rose who pins a bar on each lapel of West’s shirt.
The room’s applause escalates, but only briefly as West interrupts, dramatically turning to Riker. “Now drop and give me fifty!”
“Dude, I outrank you.” Riker replies brushing West off.
“Not yet.” Rose replies.
“What?” Riker asks not hiding his annoyance, to the eternal chagrin of the gathered crew who begin to chuckle.
“Oh yes, quite so. Technically I haven’t bestowed you the rank, you’re still a private.”
“Or is it ensign?” Rose asks.
“Oh who knows rea—”
“I said drop and give me fifty!” West barks again.
“West I’m not doing fifty push-ups.” Riker replies trying to move West back beside him, but failing.
West starts clapping and chanting, prompting the rest of the assembled crew to do the same. “Push. Ups! Push. Ups! Push—” Riker rolls his eyes and drops to the ground, prompting jeering and counting.
TATE smiles and moves to the ready room, nodding for Ortega to follow him. The shouting is reduced almost to a mute as the doors to the captain’s ready room close. “I think this’ll go down as my favorite promotion story of all-time… And space I guess.” Roseallin chuckles to herself.
TATE takes a seat behind the desk and props his head up on his hands, balled up into what looks like fists. He looks at the desk for a long moment before looking up at Roseallin “You’re sure about this?”
She looks taken back, “After that speech you just gave? You’re going to ask me that now?”
“I meant every word Colonel. Every word… But you have to know it isn’t safe. Knowing what we know, returning back to our reality would be, in every way, a death sentence be it by the hand of the Swarm or the hands of our own. But staying here is truly no better. And them joining us will put them in danger as well.”
Roseallin takes a deep breath and then sits at the table across from Kern. “I know, and you’re not wrong. But it’s like you said, there’s something more to them being here, and I think being on this ship with us is where they belong.”
There’s a chime at the door prompting Kern to yell, “Come!” The door opens to raucous cheering as West is hoisted up and they chant his name. A somewhat beleaguered Riker enters the room, his face flush. “How’d you do ensign?”
“Ha ha.” Riker says dropping down in the chair beside Roseallin and across from TATE. “He’ll remember this for the rest of his life, and won’t let me live it down either.”
“Honestly ensign,” Roseallin chides, “neither will we.”
“And what say you Riker P. Everest?” TATE asks, a serious tone to his voice.
“About living this perilous life with us?”
Riker considers the question for a long moment before shifting forward in his chair. “West and I have been on the run almost his whole life, going on 14 years now. We’ve always had each other, and our ship, but not much else save for a constant fear that this time will be it. We never say goodbye to each other, did you know that? Every time we step out of that ship… The goodbye is just always implied…
“Anyways… We’ve been living job to job, moment to moment, with nothing but a bunk to call home or one another to call family. Don’t get me wrong, ours is a brotherhood that will never die… But to finally have people we can rely on? A team at our backs? Maybe this is a perilous journey. But I’d rather face a dangerous time with you, then flee from it on our own.”
TATE smiles and turns to Ortega who nods, sharing the same grin. “That, Captain, is the right answer.” Kern stands and moves around the table prompting Riker and Roseallin to both rise. “Riker P. Everest, as a commissioned officer— Oh hey!” Kern stops suddenly, “I’ve been meaning to ask.” Both look back at TATE with confusion, “What does the ‘P’ stand for?” Roseallin perks up suddenly, realizing what the sudden pause is about.
“What?” Riker asks, confused by the abrupt question.
“The ‘P’ in your title that you’re so fond of prattling off. What does it mean? There’s a pool going and I’m curious how close I am.”
“... You two have a bet what the ‘P’ in my name means?”
“No, he said pool. Kid, the whole ship has a bet on what the ‘P’ means.”
“I…” He looks sheepishly from Roseallin to TATE and then back again. “It doesn’t mean anything, I just thought it sounded cool.”
“Ha!” Roseallin shouts.
“Settle down.” TATE says tossing his head back, incapable of rolling his insect eyes.
“I told you! I told you it was nothing.”
“Yes yes, Colonel. Mindful that I still outrank you.”
“Sure, for now. God I can’t wait to see the look on Altera’s face.”
“Yes, make sure I’m around for that at least.”
Riker, his right hand rubbing furiously at his eyes with his other crossed over his chest. “I can’t believe I agreed to this.”
“Oh relax buttercup. I promise to give you some of the prize.”
“Well, that’s comforting.”
Kern chuckles, an odd wet clicking sound, “Now, where were we? Ah yes. Riker P. Everest, as a commissioned officer of the UPA…”
To you, faithful reader, thanks for indulging me these extra 15,000 words. I hope you enjoyed the ride.
To my nephews Riker and Everest, I love you both so much, and I’m so happy you’re in my life. Don’t dream to small boys, and always remember, ABLKNB.
To Braydon, my buddy. I’ve missed you so much in our time apart. Just know that I hope one day soon, you and I get to share this adventure together. Minus the push-ups. I’m not doing push-ups.
If you enjoyed this, make sure to follow me on Twitter @OSTBear because I got a feeling this is not the last we see of Riker P. Everest or his brother West. Author website coming soon!