5. Ruri’s Navigation Logs

With several weeks to go until they reach Mars, and the ship’s computers running everything, there is very little real work for the crew to do. The bridge crew are supposed to be on standby, but with nothing actually requiring their attention, they have turned to other pursuits. Minato decides to catch up on her sleep, whilst Megumi reads magazines and Ruri explores the ship’s selection of video games. Even an enemy attack doesn’t stir up much excitement- the shields can easily repel the probing Jovian offensives.

This lull in the action gives Yurika and Prospector a chance to catch up on important Nergal business. They are under contract to provide funerals for all the people who died in the last few battles- including all the colonists from the destroyed L2 colony. With no rabbis, vicars, shamans or priests available (or affordable), the responsibility for performing all these funerals falls to the captain of the ship.

For Yurika, this means rushing around with Jun, Prospector and Goat, performing the various funeral rites of all the different cultures on Earth. As if that wasn’t bad enough, there are hundreds of people who requested personalised burial rites, ranging from the bizarre to the near impossible- and Megumi’s suggestion that she’ll also have to do wedding ceremonies is too much, sparking all too recent memories of Megumi and Akito together.

Akito himself has his own work to do for the funerals; every wake needs a special meal, and even though Ms Howmei’s kitchen has the ingredients for them all, there’s still the matter of preparation, not to mention transporting the trolley loads of food to the right place. With Akito so wrapped up in his duties, there’s no chance for Yurika to spend any personal time with him.

After another tiring round of funerals, Yurika can’t help wondering if this is all there is to being a captain these days. Ruri obligingly runs a computer search on the defining characteristics of captains, and the results aren’t very uplifting. It has been around 250 years since there were any captains of note- these days the commanding officer is little more than a figurehead. In the old days, reliable looking old men were in fashion, but more recently younger and better looking captains have been chosen. In other words, it doesn’t matter who the captain is, they are little more than eye candy.

Back in the galley, Akito stares wonderingly at Ms Howmei’s spice rack- just why does the ship need a selection of seasonings that would rival that of any fancy restaurant? Howmei explains how, years ago, a dying man wanted just one last taste of paella the way his mother used to make it. Without the knowledge or the ingredients to make it, the best Howmei could come up with was fried rice, and it just wasn’t the same. From that day forward, Howmei swore to become able to prepare any meal that a dying soldier might ask for, hence the well-stocked spice rack. Hearing her story, Akito swears that he too wants to become a great cook, but Howmei reminds him that he has other, more important duties.

Whilst Akito contemplates whether he really wants to be more than a cook, Yurika is also searching for her purpose. Having entered the meditation room, she has actually gone into a trance as she tries to search for a more satisfactory answer to just what the role of a captain is.

Another two weeks of boredom pass, with Jun forced to take over the funeral procedures whilst Yurika continues her meditation. Perhaps in order to reach enlightenment, she will have to cast off her worldly passions, or to be more accurate, her one worldly passion- Akito. But even though Yurika has always firmly believed that Akito loves her, doubts start to creep in; after all, there are a lot of other girls on the ship, and there was the matter of that kiss…

As Yurika tries to dispel these thoughts from her mind, she realises that she isn’t alone in the room. Someone else is meditating, and it is none other than Akito, who is still deciding whether or not he wants to fight. Confronted with the object of her passion, Yurika begins to talk about the depth of her feelings, but any attempt is enlightenment is swiftly interrupted- there is a mutiny on board.

Seiya, Hikaru, Ryoko and Izumi are just some of the crewmembers who have taken issue with some of the fine print in their contract- a certain paragraph forbidding any relations more intimate than hand-holding. Seiya doesn’t relish the thought of celibacy, but Prospector is adamant- the last thing they need is couples on the Nadesico trying to raise a family.

It’s a problem that doesn’t look to be resolved soon, but fortunately for everyone (and for the plot), the Nadesico has just about reached Mars. The Jovians have begun to launch a serious attack, and if the pilots don’t defend the ship, there will be more deaths, which means more funerals to conduct. Unwillingly to be lumbered with that duty, Yurika persuades Ryoko, Hikaru and Izumi to go out and fight. Realising that his place is out there too, Akito joins them, and so, the Nadesico’s battles on Mars begin…

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