The sharp rays of the sun beamed through the tall windows of the bridge, their strength considerably diminished by the ionized properties of the glass. Terra, a black pearl silhouetted by its star, hung below the Scipio. It's dark mass was sprinkled with the yellow spots of civilization sprawled across its continents.
Geoffrey sat at the command console, his eyes trained on the screens that projected from the arms of the large chair. “Lieutenant Spade” he said firmly, directing his voice across the bridge to the helm. “Orbit is decaying.”
“Yes sir.” Lieutenant Commander Stark interjected, sparing the helmsman. “There is a communications satellite we are sharing orbit with, however we're overtaking it, so I modified our course to ensure there's plenty of room between the two of us.”
Geoffrey Williams, the First Officer of the Scipio nodded. He acknowledged the initiative Lieutenant Commander Conrad Stark had taken and made note of it. He was glad to see that their Navigation Officer did not need to be micro-managed. His attention turned rearward as he heard the door to the Captain's ready room hiss open. The Admiral stepped out. Geoffrey sprung up from the chair. “Sir.” He said, saluting.
“Williams.” The Admiral returned the salute. “You have large boots to fill.”
“Yes sir, I am very aware. Captain Anderson was an impeccable First Officer.”
The Admiral smiled. “I'm sure you'll do a fine job.” he said as he made his way toward the stairs to the traffic control bridge below.
Geoffrey turned to the Security Officer. “Major Marmossa, would you escort the Admiral off the bridge please, and be sure he has two men with him at all times.”
Marmossa nodded and left his station, whose empty seat was promptly filled with a young Second Lieutenant who was previously at a less critical console.
“Commander, that's not necessary.” said the Admiral.
The First Officer smiled at him kindly. “Please sir, it would be my pleasure to follow the old customs.”
The Admiral sighed. “Very well, if you must.”
Major Marmossa pointed out the two security officers who were standing guard at the top of the stairs. The silent signal had them both move to the Admiral's side. Unlike the other members of the bridge crew, Marmossa was not a Fleet Naval Officer. Marmossa was a battle hardened marine who was decorated not only with ribbons and medals from victories past, but more noticeably with the scars and cybernetic implants awarded through battles lost.
The glimmer of recognition flashed across Admiral Jameson's face. “Marmossa.” He said, ponderously. “I have met you before.”
“Yes sir.” Marmossa said to the bridge crew's surprise; the man rarely spoke.
“Where was it then?”
“I was a squad leader during the boarding of the rebel Idris frigate, The Castille, sir.”
“Yes I remember now, I was Captain of the Wayward at the time, we brought you close enough to make your EVA assault.” The Admiral shook his head. “I can't imagine jumping out of a perfectly good spacecraft.”
“It is not my favorite thing to do sir.” Marmossa said matter-of-factly.
The two marines glared at each other with intrigue. To them, Marmossa was a Titan, an impossibly perfect warrior. It was strange for them to hear him say he didn't enjoy EVA operations. This man was the embodiment of what being a marine was to them. He had taken part in most of the major battles during the rebellion, and refused promotion in order to see combat against the Vanduul. Major Jason Marmossa was a legend, an infallible hero of a bygone era, or so they thought.
If only they knew that Jason Marmossa fought every moment of wakefulness to control his emotions, his fear and the ghosts of his past. On the battlefield, his eyes watered with tears when the stress boiled over. He had regurgitated in his helmet the first time he watched a man be torn in two by shrapnel, and still woke in the night, frightful with the image of the bloodied face of his first kill seared in his mind's eye.
His unchecked temper and alcoholism had destroyed his marriage and alienated friends and family. To himself, Major Jason Marmossa was a weak shell of a man; a failure. He was playing a role that he was not qualified for. He had failed at fatherhood, at marriage and at leadership. This post, as Security Officer of the UEES Scipio was a casket tasking; his retirement. Here, he would look after the safety of the crew and manage the security manifest. No longer would he throw himself into combat. He had tried, so many times to prove to himself that he was as worthy as so many believed him to be. His heart was still beating, and for many that was all the proof they needed. Marmossa still believed that his longevity was largely due to luck and the sacrifice of many marines who had taken the brunt for him. He steeled his mind and built an impenetrable barrier between his heart and his eyes. He looked at the Admiral with his blank stare, “Ready when you are sir.” he said, in a deep raspy voice.
“Ready I am, Major. Let's move out shall we?” The Admiral motioned them forward. “Oh, Williams. Tell the Captain, to stay 'fast and steady'.”
The First Officer nodded, recognizing the Captain's family motto; the motto of House Lear.