What Ghosts Leave BehindMature

Logan moved up through the ship. It was a Valkyrie class Trident Gunboat. With only three defensive turrets, two hard points and a single Particle Beam Cannon, it wasn't the most heavily armed vessel in its class, but was able to hold its own under a good crew. She had two decks, but crews often jokingly said she had only one and a half since the sleeping quarters were actually not in their own section but incorporated into the other compartments throughout the ship.

Walking on the main deck you could pass an ammunition bay and find that there was a bunk space somehow crammed between it and a water reservoir on the far side. The decks where narrow, at some places only three feet wide, and most of the time the crew was hunched over due to the low ceilings. Having been built in a rush during the Sol Sector War thirty years prior, it didn't have any of the embellishments of modern craft. On a modern ship, the innards such as electrical wiring, air ducts and plasma conduits were covered by panels; nothing of the sort was present on this ship. Although the layout of the ship was different, the main components hadn't changed much in thirty years, which made it easy for the call sign to make the transfer.

"Does she have a name?" Logan asked Doug, as he climbed through the narrow hatch between the main cannon turret and the cockpit.

"I don't know , I'm just trying to sort out this cannon before the Sergeant gets back."

 "Alright, let me know if I can help you." Logan said as he squeezed his way down the passage to the cockpit.

The cockpit rested at the end of a seven meter shaft that extended from the hull at the front of the ship. Logan was forced to crawl the last five meters on his stomach as the passage narrowed to within four feet in diameter. On his way down, he could see out the cockpit and into the hangar beyond. Normally he would be staring down a dark tunnel that ended in the vastness of space. The sensation of moving through that cramped tunnel with nothing but stars at the end was fused in Logan’s mind with the sounds of combat, as he most often made the trek to his post while their ship was under contact with the enemy. Logan was paranoid, even on good days, and so every time he made his way to the hole, he often imagined a rocket or cannon round blowing out the cockpit and sucking him right out into space. He shrugged the imagery from his mind; apparently even the hangar outside didn't stop him from thinking of that particularly cruel demise.

As he climbed in to the seat he pulled on the headset. Knobs and switches were pointing at him from every direction, with an array of keyboards and gauges to his front and a control stick resting between his knees. He sat silent for a moment and looked around. He wasn't looking for damaged switches or cracked screens. He was looking at what was left behind. Ships were handed off from now and then to other crews, and everyone always left their mark. This ship was particularly old, and sitting there in the worn seat, with the padding poking through tears in the seams, he could see what the old pilots had left behind; the rubber on the control stick worn smooth, tape on the weapons array that probably once held the picture of a loved one, scraps of paper with notes of bearing and range to old targets or destinations, sweat stains in the seat, fingerprints on the periscopes, notches, scratches, and of course the smell. It was the musky smell of dried sweat, but not any sweat. It was the smell of sweat brought on by anxiety and the stress of combat.

The End

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