On the way to Colonia from Rohini, we finally had a reality check. For all the preparation that went into making our ship suitable for the extremely long voyage in deep space, there was an aspect of community that would always be tricky to navigate. I was not responsible for the psychological screening of the Sisters selected for our expedition: that task fell to Sister Karina. By the time we entered the region of space containing Colonia, and began to enjoy the dense star fields visible through the ADC’s windows, some cracks were beginning to emerge in our little community. A Sister, somewhat known to me as one who longs for nothing more than the approval of others, wearing as many masks as one must in order to be popular in every circle, found herself in conflict with another, one who caught on to this tendency of hers and was beginning to point it out to others, to warn them. I am told that the bickering among the engineering crew disrupted only two meetings before it was brought to my attention. My attention. I asked why it had been brought to me. I am simply the ship’s pilot, after all. Officially, I am part of the ship’s command crew, but I was never intended to be involved in maintaining harmony in the community aboard.
It transpired that the Sisters aboard came to view me as their de facto leader, without my knowing, and now expected me to solve their interpersonal feuds. It was charming to me when a few nicknamed me “Young Captain”, but the realization that so many actually viewed me as their captain, as their leader, shook me to my core. Some of the Sisters aboard were nearly four times my age. And I was just a pilot. As I recall, I was the fifteenth-youngest Sister on our final crew roster when we departed. I called the two feuding Sisters in, along with Sister Karina who had found no potential problems between these two. I reminded them that we were to not only share our ship together with no options for returning home for an indefinite period of time, but that also we were on a holy expedition, one to enrich and better ourselves, and to enrich our home, our community in Meropis, once we returned. I noted also that the essence of being a Sister is to remember one’s common bonds. The duplicitous Sister, hailing from Emerald in the Cemiess system, and her rival, from the Federation’s core worlds, had to recognize their dependence on each other’s toil and health. Without the other, neither would be truly whole. I do not remember the remainder of what I said to them; after they were dismissed, I spoke with Sister Karina and asked her to quietly begin working on a program that would prevent further disputes.
After a lengthy cruise and numerous hyperspace jumps, we settled on an unremarkable planet with gravity slightly less than 1G, and a crater to provide some shade without plunging us in complete darkness. These stops were always good for the sanity of the Sisters aboard, as we engaged in both work and leisure with the convenience of gravity. I spent my break practicing my pitches in one of the maintenance corridors with Sister Odelia, who knew nothing of baseball when we left but was now happy to do her best catching my strange, off-speed pitches. She asked me to explain how it was that I could trace my lineage as a knuckleballer to a man whose fame was at its peak when humanity was just beginning to venture into space for the first time. I tried to tell the history as best as I could. She didn’t believe me, and said that I simply have a gift for telling stories, and know better than to ruin a story with the truth. She is correct, as I admitted. My stories are not always completely true. But, I insisted, the lineage is true.