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Round 1 Lt Commander Kevin Breeman: Remember Me

Kali Nicholotti

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((Noosphere - Thracia 2))

::The noise of all these new minds can be unbearable, like a collection of

lost souls on one of those pilgrimages down below. One of the

space-fairing vessels leaves and I slowly run my fingers across its

inhabitants. The skin rubs up against one last mind. It's a strange mind,

somewhat lonely, somewhat connected. There's a cold distance and a

child-like curiosity inside and.... maybe I would have made this place home

in another life. But the mind slowly disappears. There's a last glimmer

as the space around it folds and I whisper into the newly-formed void.::


((Bridge - USS Victory))

::They were at warp now and Kevin felt calm and glad. He ran a finger over

his console and something came to mind... something strange. He'd found

it in his grandfather's journal one day, when he'd been sixteen. Unlike

the other entries it didn't have a date. At some point in the man's life

he'd experienced what was written, but Kevin couldn't be sure when.::

::He'd known a superior at work, someone whom, Kevin gathered from the

text, he'd regarded as a mentor. Over the years he'd borrowed styles,

everything from the way the man walked to the way he talked. He'd learned

an outlook on life, a hard-nosed skepticism toward any new idea, mixed with

a child-like faith propped up by what seemed to be the flimsiest

spirituality. His grandfather had become aggressive himself, not because

he was certain of anything he might have said as he displayed that

aggression but rather because he was certain it was a way of getting

results, of looking strong and sure of himself.::

::He'd spent years trying to live up to the man's reputation, trying to be

like him. But then one day the man had been discharged -- they'd called it

fired in the parlance of the day. He'd been too brazen in commenting on

the "strategic direction" given by the new leadership. At that time

Kevin's grandfather had been shocked, uncertain what would happen to him.

He'd copied so many of his mentor's idiosyncrasies, stolen so many of his

thoughts and ideas, that he was certain he would be next to go. He'd spent

hours each night, crying and shivering alone in the darkness. Someone who

seemed like he could move mountains, like he could destroy someone or raise

him up in an instant, had been so quickly disposed of.::

::Every time Kevin read that journal entry it seemed as though it could fit

anywhere in the old man's books. Every time he thought he found the place

it might fit he'd find two more begging for attention. Maybe it had

happened in 2019, during one of those particularly interesting periods in

the man's life when he'd been trying to explore new ways of approaching the

world. Or maybe it had been 2011. That didn't seem likely compared with

2004. When Kevin considered the wording it seemed more likely to have been

sometime around 2023, but that was only when he ignored the idioms used in

the second paragraph.::

::The entry had been typed, not written. The paper it was set on was a

thicker cardboard sort of material. It hadn't needed to be treated the way

the rest of the pages of the journal had. Not at first anyway.::

::Of course the old man had ended the page with the usual litany of

promises that he would soon commit suicide, that his life was over, that

there was no way out of the grave he'd dug for himself by acting the way

his former mentor had acted. The other side of the page had been blank,

save for the usual blemishes that came with time. Sometimes while growing

up Kevin would read that page and then the medical report from the day his

grandfather had died. Heart failure. Sarah, the man's former wife, had

signed as his next of kin. On the faded paper her signature had looked

like a congregation of so many other flecks aimlessly wandering.::

::Kevin even now could almost imagine the man's corpse lying there alone --

maybe slumped over his desk having died while writing one of the thousands

of pages that were now missing from the journal. The room would have been

silent when he'd died, save maybe for the breeze at the windows. If he'd

looked out the window he might have seen the empty roads, the cars now

almost all gone save for the few motorists rich enough to afford fuel. The

rest of the building would have been silent as well. It would have been

around 2 in the morning and the old man's ears would have still been

ringing from the beat of so much electronic music an hour before.

By then the text would have repeated itself, following the same grooves

over and over again, as the mind which composed it slowly spun about one

axis of obsession or another. He would die soon. He had no future. He

was free. He was alone. He had his stories and the characters in them.

He had an endless universe. He possessed boundless emptiness.::

::Kevin sighed. He imagined the night his grandfather's daughter had been

conceived, when the old man had been younger. Maybe he'd been thinking of

his mentor. Maybe he'd not even met him yet. Maybe he'd been ashamed,

believing he shouldn't be doing what he was then doing. He wondered if

Sara had been happy to have a man such as him. He wondered if she had yet

begun to notice the cracks, the way his mind would dwell on one thing for

days, weeks even. Maybe she had. Maybe she hadn't cared. Maybe she'd

thought the man's wild intellectual tangents charming, been taken in by the

illusion of wit or of genius.::

::Sometimes the old man frustrated Kevin from across the centuries, hiding

the most important parts and showing only the shrill emotion of a child not

getting his way. It seemed more often than not that the man had just

wanted to scream. He hadn't ever had anything to say. He hadn't ever been

a cogent person, just a body, a mind, and a haphazard arrangement that

implied the two should exist together for the duration of his time on

Earth. And then they'd parted ways, his mind scattered about like so many

flecks on thousands of disintegrating pages.::

::Kevin was glad. He imagined his identity holding fast like a mountain,

refusing to be moved as the people came into his life and receded like

waves, some taking a little of him with them, others adding to him, but

never enough to truly compromise who he was. He was happy he was certain

because that identity always remained.::

::He remembered Karynn Ehlanii, who'd taught him not to be afraid to feel,

and T'tala, who'd done much the same, understanding him in ways few others

seemed able. There was a pang of sadness when he thought of T'tala. David

Cody had taught him to be made of sterner stuff, not to depend so much on

his superiors for guidance. Ralik had shown him that it was possible to

make something radically old like capitalism current and useful in a world

such as this. And all the while he'd been there, mingling with the crowd

and always being himself. Taking part in the action while remaining

distinct. And when the people had left and others had taken their place

the sadness had been short-lived. Sometimes he'd cried, even felt a little

guilty. But then it had passed.::

::A clank roused him from his reverie. Had he been thinking about this for

long enough to reach home? The docking clamps were grasping the Victory

and he moved to power down the engines.::

Nicholotti: Keep the engines running. Don't shut her down quite yet.

Breeman: ::Quietly:: Sir?

Nicholotti: We might need her.

::He nodded, pursing his lips. He decided it would be best to remain on

full alert.::

Breeman: Aye sir.

::By now the shield emitters had been reset to their normal parameters and

he ordered the work crews to begin calibration diagnostics on

the auxiliary engine systems for now.::

Nicholotti: Turn your stations over to your relief and head to the Hub for


::He looked back up. Then down again, setting the warp systems on standby

and automatic maintenance.::

Breeman: Understood.

((Moments Later - Turbolift))

::Kevin stood watching the hulk of the starbase whooshing past as the lift

rose to the command tower. He remembered the day he'd gotten rid of his

grandfather's diary. It had been when he was twenty-three. The pages by

then were beginning to tear again.

((Flashback - Ancaster, Earth))

The first thing to go into the fire was the typed story of the mentor. It

curled a little and then just sat a while in the hot coals before finally

bursting into flames. Sometimes Kevin recognized a word or a paragraph. A

hole was rapidly forming in the middle of the phrase that had led him to

believe the entry had been written in 2007. 2010, meanwhile, oozed a

gentle flame like a candle, while 2011 began at first as a couple of

twinkling ashes which soon tore a hole into the first word of the sentence

until, word for word, it was gone.::

::Kevin didn't want to see any more of it. He grabbed the first book of

the old journal and tossed it on top of the burning page. There was a

shower of sparks as the old man and his idol disappeared beneath the weight

of so much more writing, the flames licking and consuming all of it in


::He blinked. Someone was approaching. He recognized the form of his


Jan: Kevin!

::He looked at her as she approached.::

Breeman: Heh... Surprised?

::Still feeling a bit guarded after the argument he'd had with her a month

before about the merits of the old man's journal, he allowed a smile to

form slowly across his face.::

Jan: Kevin.. I'm proud of you. You need to be yourself. Everyone you

meet in life is going to have something to offer you.

::By now she was sitting on one of the logs that surrounded the fire.::

Jan: And you'll have something to offer everyone else. But nobody is

worth... ::She gestured at a corner of the cardboard still left intact and

sticking out from under the burning books:: ....that kind of worship.

::Kevin nodded slowly.::

::For a long time she looked at him as he methodically tossed each

subsequent book into the fire. A month ago he would have seen this as akin

to suicide or patricide. But now there was something resigned, then

peaceful, in his revolt against the dead.

He looked back up at her after tossing in the last book. She looked as

though she was about to say something.::



::The lift stopped and Kevin stepped out into the hub.::

Anyone: Response?

Breeman: Good morning.

Anyone: Response?


Lt. Cmdr. Kevin Breeman

Chief Engineer

Starbase 118

Edited by KNicholotti
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