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5. Musings of ArcLieutenant-General Helena Romano, XO

Excitement abounds on the ship today; we’ve finally arrived at our destination – Genesis! It was probably a good precautionary tactic that, once we achieved orbit, Scepter’s defensive shields were activated. Who knows if the planet is inhabited by a sentient species capable of launching an attack? Preliminary scans have turned up nothing untoward, but the ArcGeneral has ordered the crew to remain on defensive alert. Deep scans may tell us more. It would be so exciting to accompany the teams of scientists that are standing by, awaiting permission from the High Chancellor to launch their away mission to the surface.

There’s so much to think about. Hopefully, it won’t be long until we can begin implementation of the plans for settling the planet. I wonder if the data we gather on the surface will render the plans worthless. The onboard experts had very little concrete information about the planet from the UN Space Agency. Perhaps the Gods of the Churchers will smile upon us, and Genesis will be perfect for our needs.

The Gods indeed! I’m so disgusted with this fraudulent religion that the Churchers ram down our throats at every opportunity. I wonder whose nightmare is responsible for its creation. All three generations of deep space voyagers, of the Naval class, have discussed numerous theories. My favorite is that some theologian at the UN dreamed it up and found a way to brainwash the original generation of Churchers. It’s the only hypothesis that makes any sense… yet… why not brainwash everyone aboard? Why set the stage for social division and conflict? We’d be a helluva lot better off if everyone were allowed to find their own form of spiritual expression.

Will our relationship with the Churchers improve once we’re all living on the planet? Somehow, I think not. They enjoy taunting and abusing us too much. Shaspa Hendricks is the worst! He mentally disrobes every woman he looks at. He’s so creepy, he makes my skin crawl. I shudder just remembering the occasion, a few months ago, when he came to my living quarters on the pretext of delivering a message for the ArcGeneral from his Shappa. Ugh… I can still picture him sporting that lewd smirk, offering to gift me with the ecstasy of the Gods in my bed. I dared not rebuff him rudely. He’d have turned that into a charge of blasphemy – and a death sentence. My dear grandmother taught me well… I thanked him, but assured him that when I commune with the Gods in prayer, They lead me to experience Their divine ecstasy. The Gods fulfill all of my needs. The damned fool had no way of getting around that declaration of faith!

I must teach young Alexis to protect herself with these tactics. She’s only seventeen and beautiful like Marla, her mother. Marla was a mentor to me, and I loved her like an older sister. I still grieve her death. I honor her memory by teaching Alexis everything I learned from her words and her example. Alexis is determined to pursue a career in the Navy. She might be in the first class for officer training at the new Genesis Naval Academy– when it gets built. I look forward to our study sessions together; she has the best traits of both Tom and Marla. She’s the only sister I’ll ever have…

My mother reminds me that my maternal clock is ticking; I should find a husband and have a family of my own. But how can I? The only man I want is Tom Hastings… but he’s emotionally unavailable. I adore everything about him: his gentle ways, his intellect, his sense of humor. I love his smile… although I seldom see it… he still grieves deeply for Marla. I can’t bring myself to declare my love… to burden him with my feelings.I must keep them hidden and indulge them in my dreams. In that private realm, he is mine and I am his. Together we face the future – whatever it may bring – and support Alexis as she finds her way to adulthood.

For now, I am ArcLieutenant-General Helena Romano, second in command of the Navy, and XO to ArcGeneral Thomas Hastings. Each day, I strive to be the best officer I can be – for Tom, for me… for everyone in the Naval class who looks to us for leadership… and for hope. Is it enough? It must be… that’s all there is…

Author: John Fioravanti

I'm a retired History teacher (35 years), husband, father of three, grandfather of three. My wife, Anne, and I became business partners in December 2013 and launched our own publishing company, Fiora Books (, to publish my books. We have been married since 1973 and hope our joint business venture will be as successful as our marriage.

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