Trudging along behind her parents, Elizabeth Grissom stepped off the Merino interstellar cruiser to join the new cadets for first muster. Starborne Academy’s welcome center smelled of ozone and afterburn. Looking around Liz noticed several family units from various military branches saying their goodbyes to raw cadets. Her father, Admiral Jace Grissom made sure all the mushy goodbyes happened aboard ship. Fondness was likened to weakness in the Grissom book, at least in public.
As per regulations, Liz had one grey carbon nanotube bag, standard issue, slung over her shoulder. Inside were the only objects from home that she would be allowed until the end of First Year. Starborne Academy rules were binding and strict. Any deviation from the rulebook and a cadet would find themselves on the next transport home,blacklisted from officer eligibility in the United Starborne Corps.
“Liz.” Her father halted their forward progress. “Your mother and I are proud of you and know that you will do your utmost.” The Admiral eyed Liz with his legendary unflinching gaze.
Her mother, Geraldine, wrapped her in one last quick hug that enveloped Liz in night blooming jasmine.“Listen to your father, Darling. But understand we are only a holocall away.”
“Of course, Mother. And I will, Father.”
“Admiral and Mrs. Geraldine!” A largish man in Marine fatigues reached out and slapped Liz’s father on the back.
“Colonel Schirra, It is good see you.” Jace’s voice boomed. “Is this your family?”
The Colonel motioned over a petite woman with long flowing black hair, green eyes and a mirroring girl, both about one and a half meters high. “Yes, Sir. This is my lovely wife Emma and my daughter Gemini. She is a First Year this cycle.”
The Admiral completed the introductions and the adults began a conversation over the state of the military buildup on Terran Prime.
Liz spoke first, “So you’re a First Year? Me too.”
“Good to meet you, Elizabeth. Do you prefer Liz? My friends call me Gem.”
“Liz is good, otherwise I keep looking around for my grandma.”
Attention Cadets and guests! Muster is now underway.
Guests must take all non-sanctioned belongings and return
to the Gallery Deck.
Gem ran to her parents and was enveloped in a round of hugs and kisses.
Liz squared her shoulders and turned to her parents.
“Alright Liz, we will see you at midcycle break.” The Admiral leaned in close and whispered the family motto, “Never say die.”