Obsidian Command

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Jogging Memory

Posted on 23 Jun 2022 @ 11:00pm by Commander Calliope Zahn
Edited on on 23 Jun 2022 @ 11:02pm

Mission: M3 - Into the Deep
Location: OC, Enviro Deck
Timeline: backpost
830 words - 1.7 OF Standard Post Measure

The Environmental deck was the next best thing to an actual planet. By comparison, Calliope always felt holodecks were... *too* real. As if it was trying too hard at over convincing, filling all the gaps. Everything high focus. It was a strange sensation, and maybe she was just imagining the hyper-real feeling because she always knew when she had started a holodeck program. It was possible that if she for some reason didn't know she was in a holodeck that the mirage would be more convincing. And yet— convincing lies were still lies.

She pondered over that thought a little longer as she found the walking path and began to set herself a brisk pace, the rhythm taking her back to a habit she had missed these past few crazy months. The daily running she had started when she'd first set her mind to getting into the Academy during her Sophmore year- the year she had determined to push past the pain and excuses of Not-Calliope and make up for the time she'd lost. The year she'd decided not to give up on herself. Ever. She couldn't believe how close she'd skirted breaking the promise to herself. how much fight it had taken to get over the mountain of lies she'd tried to bury that past with. If it hadn't been for Lance...

Her nose caught the real scent of a real pine tree, the distinct tone of pitch sparking more memories. Christmas, the one she'd declared 'fake'. Her mother had traded the cut tree for an artificial one. They'd had an argument about it. Calliope flushed a little with embarrassment at the hard time she'd given her mother over the change in their little "tradition" It wasn't even really 'winter' time on Valus VI; even if their cool season could even be described as a winter it didn't align with the Northern hemisphere of Earth's winter solstice. Most people on Valus didn't even celebrate Christmas. But her mother had loosely started the tradition when she was small and like any kid enthralled by tinsel and gifts, Calliope had gotten very attached to the holiday, anticipating it all year to the point of driving her mother a batty with all of the expectations. Despite the absence of any evergreen farms to serve the holiday tradition, they had always at least gotten a small evergreen bush to put on the side table. Once they had managed clipping just a few boughs which her mother tied together and put in an umbrella stand. But to young Calliope, it was no less magical.

One season, when her mother had a particularly difficult time making enough money or having enough time, she'd solved the holiday decorating with a fake tree. Calliope recalled her appalled twelve year old self throwing an absolute fit about it when her mother was setting it up. It was too perfect, she told her crestfallen mother. Glittery and over saturated and shiny and unnaturally symmetrical. She hated it, and she had made sure her mother knew it. Her mother continued assembling the tree, and to her credit, didn't give in to her daughter's disapproval. Calliope still remembered her in her uniform after a longer than usual work day, stating calmly, "Well it it might be artificial, but it's a real fake tree, that's for sure."

The fake tree became their new normal in spite of Calliope's begrudging expressions every season. Then, six Christmases later, The Christmas before she'd left for Academy, she'd gone into their storage unit and collected it, setting it up for her mother. It no longer mattered to her, she found, that the thing was artificial. It had never bothered her that the holiday was non native to her world, so why should it bother her that the trappings were a little devised, as long as the heart was real?

"What are you going to do without me, Mom?" Calliope had asked only half seriously as they made coffee and admired the replica tree.

"I think I might get a dog," she'd said, her eyes grinning over her mug.

"You'd replace me with a dog?"

"You're right." Her mother elbowed her. "It'll take at least two."

Calliope smiled at the memory as her feet patted out a steady beat on the pathway. The environmental deck was a real fake environment, and that wasn't nothing. She'd rather have it than an illusion or than nothing at all. Having seen the workings of it, the operations of stellar simulating lighting, thermo-static temperature controls, air exchangers and moisturizers, not to mention the teams of specialized personnel it took to maintain the soil biotics and the botanical life and nurse it back to health once more.

As she passed, Calliope waved at a man in coveralls trimming the hedgerow and watched a pre-teen Flaxian girl wrestle her six legged pet for a frisbee, her laughter flowing unabashedly over the gentle slope of a manicured hill.

Home didn't feel so far away.


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