Lieutenant Nightshade, Maris. Journal Entry 025. Earth date June 29, 2278.

Hi, I'm Maris Nightshade, and let's get right into it.

So. The new captain arrived today. Krista Varano, let's call her. I've been told not to use anyone's name here without their permission, and that seems fair to me. So. Varano. She's very... efficient. I met her early this morning. She'd just caught a suborbital shuttle in from Kohtlingi. Not an easy flight. Apparently, they almost cancelled her flight because of a sudden sandstorm that was rolling in. But she convinced them to just accelerate their schedule instead, and so they left several hours early, leaving many of the people who were supposed to be on that shuttle to find replacement flights for themselves. I think that says a lot about how miss Varano operates. She's... an interesting person. A career officer, obviously, like me, but she came by it honestly. Natural born, not a clone, and not forced into the astrale by a parent corporation.

Umm... she seems really capable. Really capable. Well, obviously she has to be. She's barely older than I am, and she's already made full captain. And I can easily see why. I've read her file, and it's just overflowing with recommendations. Not just recommendations, either. She's got letters of commendation from flag captains, shipmates, direct superiors, former subordinates, and even an admiral at one point. She's Terran, and it's damn near impossible for an earth-born officer to stand out among the mob that is Home Fleet. Heck, she served on a heavy carrier when she was younger, so that makes it even harder. And yet she rose from piloting a constellation of drones to the commander of the entire wing. For a light carrier like that one, a wing is half of its entire combat drone compliment. That means that she was in charge of 400 drones, more or less! And she got to that point at age 26, Terran standard!

So yeah, she's really impressive. Well-recommended, accomplished, brilliant... a genius, according to some. That word keeps popping up in her file. I don't know her well enough to be certain if that's accurate, but... I dunno, I'm hopeful.

I've never served under a genius before. Uh, no offence, Jeremy. You were great, but I think you'd agree that nobody would exactly call you a genius. But I've seen that word used for Captain Varano at least half a dozen times. Commander! Commander, I mean, uh, Commander Varano. Yeah, that's the other kind of... strange thing about her. She doesn't like being called a captain. Because she isn't one. I guess that makes sense, but... yeah, she likes to be called by her actual rank, even outside of official circumstances. I don't know why that would be. Maybe she'll tell me someday.

Anyway. The two of us met earlier in the day, and she more or less demanded immediately to go and see the ship. I think that's still where she is now. She's been going over every piece of Charisma for the past six hours or so, guided by David Waters. I'm honestly not sure how he feels about that. He always seems eager to show off his baby, but usually, he isn't being interrogated about all of her nooks and crannies and subsystems to the extent that Cap- Commander Varano seems to be. Um... I'll have to ask him about that later. Get his opinion on the commander.

So. That's who I'm going to be working under. Varano. I hope she takes a liking to me. Well, that's not actually what I'm worried about. I hope the crew takes a liking to both of us. Varano and I, we're both newcomers. Probably not a great way to start a cruise. I'm trying to put myself in the shoes of one of the lower ranking crew, and it's not a great setup. Two strangers in charge, one of whom has just dismissed half of your friends, moved them to other ships, you don't know when you're going to see them again if ever, and now you're heading off on a six-month cruise under the command of these two perfect strangers...

I should have time for one more journal entry before I leave. Two days. Two days before I'm locked into a steel box with twenty-five people who I barely know, and then get shoved off into deep space. Then it's six months. Half a year, Terran standard time. Six months locked in a little steel box together, lightyears from the nearest human settlement, with nothing outside the walls of our cage, not even air. Six months. I just hope that's enough time for this old bird to work her magic and cause us to start bonding. Otherwise, this is going to be one hell of a hard cruise.

Maris Nightshade, signing off.

End of Entry 025.