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Part of USS Savannah: All along the Watchtower and Bravo Fleet: Labyrinth

A Farewell to Arms – Pt 2

Terminus Station / USS Savannah / Senior NCO’s Quarters / Deck 7
2401.7.16 / 13:22 hrs. (Station Time)
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When you go to war as a boy you have a great illusion of immortality. Other people get killed; not you. Then when you are badly wounded the first time you lose that illusion, and you know it can happen to you.”

A Farewell to Arms – Ernest Hemmingway (1929)


 

“Your move Master Chief”, the opponent challenged, a last defiance lingering as doubt in his voice.

Master Chief Isagi Saroga considered his protagonist with careful aplomb, noting each tic and giveaway that signified a betrayal via body language – guilt writ true through the careful observance of non-verbal transaction.

“H’mmf…” The Tactical Training Hologram demurred, taking time to look the man in the eye – but also taking note of the objects that surrounded him – each cherished item a particular indicator to the personality of his Nemesis.

Clues often abounded wherever you sought them the least.

“I’ll take that drink after all, Chief Manningly.” The holographic representation of the terse 23rd Century Starfleet NCO afforded, as the particular – program that Talbot had taken time to prepare generated a drink into the TTH’s grasp – that mirrored his own.

Kanpai, Isagi – San.” Talbot Manningly inclined his head respectfully and held his own vessel ‘just -so’ as he toasted his guest.

The Hologram that, by its actions, had saved the USS Savannah from destruction at the ‘hands’ of another simulacrum (one charged with a murderous mission by the New Marquis) – was one that the Chief of the Boat considered – deserved more consideration.

 Especially as those actions had undoubtedly saved the more – than 280 Non-Coms and Enlisted personnel that Chief Manningly was responsible for explaining to their parents and loved ones exactly why they would never touch those beautiful souls again.

Hologram or Solid, Chief Manningly reckoned that respect between Senior NONCOM’s transcended good protocol and even Death itself – when such an Act of Valor was exhibited.

“Domo, Talbot – Sama.” The THH nodded severally and completed the illusion of imbibing the holographic – drink offered.

Complex packets of data translated the experience to the TTH.

“H’mmf…” Isagi nodded, “A singular spirit. What is it called?” 

Chief Petty Officer Talbot Manningly allowed himself a smile as the same distilled – spirit scathed his throat in real – time.

“It’s called Plymouth Navy Gin.” Talbot explained as he settled back into the comfortable embossed – leather chair, that was a favorite and singular feature of his small sitting – room.

“A traditional ‘Naval – Strength’ spirit distilled in the Barbican in the Old Naval Port of Plymouth since at least 1793 – it became a staple stipend afforded to sailors in the 18th Century on Earth – although the distillery itself was reputed to have origins with the ‘Black Friars’ of the Dominican Order and been founded in 1431AD.”

The TTH paused the requisite amount of time to be polite and appreciate the abject lesson in history that the Chief of the Boat sought to share. He smiled and raised the empty glass to Talbot, before carefully placing it next to the Chess – board between themselves between them and added.

船頭多くして船山に登る”

Talbot laughed, “I’m sorry Master Chief – my grasp of Nipponese isn’t what it could be.”

The TTH considered this, without taking his eyes from the board.

“Something my grandmother used to say…” The Hologram continued wistfully, “Sendou ooku shite fune yama ni noboru.” He picked up a chess piece and placed it, his hand stopping the clock that signified his move.

Talbot raised an eyebrow, trying to gauge whether this dead – man from Starfleet’s ‘wilder’ pre-history was playing him in some subtle manner?

“I’m still in the dark here Isagi?” Talbot prompted with good humor, taking another sip. 

With the entire crew of the USS Savannah being so very – much younger than the Chief, Talbot had elected to activate the Tactical Training Hologram for the purposes of convivial company. This ghost of Starfleet’s past was the closest contemporary Chief Manningly had found to share a like worldview.

He supposed that spoke a great deal about the trying times that Starfleet now faced with the advent of the Labyrinth and the legacy of Frontier Day, if her front – line was manned by Old – men, Children and Ghosts?

The TTH allowed itself a rare smile and gruff laugh, as the Red Uniformed – clad figure sat back and considered the board.

“In literal – Japanese it means – ‘Too many captains will steer the ship up a mountain’.” Isagi smiled.

Talbot laughed out loud at that – he had no idea that this amalgam of every tactical learning that Starfleet had collated into a single rolling – active walking database – could be so droll.

“So experience has taught us time and time again, Master Chief.” Talbot smiled and began to consider his counter – move on the chessboard. The casualties of their struggle, lining disparate – edges of the board in mock – repose. 

A graveyard of Black & White ambitions.

Master Chief Isagi Saroga fixed the Chief of the Boat with a piercing stare, his neatly clipped moustache twerking slightly.

“In less colloquial terms, it also means ‘something may not be successful if too many people work on it at the same time.’

The TTH inclined his head with some regret. “Even though my recent actions resulted in the apprehension of the saboteur and contributed to the USS Savannah’s escape from Underspace, these are the actions of an item of technology fulfilling its programming, Chief. It is neither advisable to morale nor constructive going forward that the crew of this vessel have voted to keep my substrate permanently online. They project their hope into a projection.”

The TTH indicated Chief Manningly’s quarters, with its homely furnishings, intricate models of historical sailing ships and actual leather – bound books.

“I am a Shade of the Past, Chief Manningly.” The TTH nodded respectfully, his bald – pate catching the reflected light from Talbot’s favorite lamp. “My time in – life was glorious and full of purpose, but that time has eclipsed, and my Sun passed below the far horizon.”

You are the Senior Non – Commissioned Officer abord this ship, your crew is young, your Captain is inexperienced. They need a real person, with their watch set to the present, to guide them. That person is you – not I.”

Talbot frowned as the TTH finished.

“I would ask that you deactivate me forthwith and that my matrix is only activated when there is the clear requirement for my original mission – parameters to be engaged with.”

For the longest time, Chief Manningly regarded the representation of Isagi Saroga – as the hologram sat with a glower both challenging and neutral. After a while, he assented.

“Master Chief, I respect your position.’ Talbot allowed. “For my part, I enjoy your company as it’s a rare voyage indeed that affords me the company of a seasoned – jack such as yourself. As for your younger crew – I take your assertion and will respect your wishes.”

The TTH nodded gruffly.

“But – for my own selfish reasons.” Chief Talbot Manningly took another sip of the neat, overproof Gin. “I’m going to request your company for my off – duty hours. No one aboard this tub can hold their tongue, their liquor or their opinion like you and I’m an old, crotchety – salt that hoves to my own. Deal?”

“H’mmf… “the TTH nodded, “Very well.”

“Besides, “Talbot peered at the board again. “You’re also the only other person that I have met in over 34 years that has managed to solve Sam Lloyd’s “Excelsior” Chess – Problem with Rc5+ 2. bxc5! – with threatening 3.Rb1# in under 12 minutes! “Talbot shook his head in admiration.


 

Location: Terminus Station / USS Savannah / Sickbay / Deck – 6

Stardate: 2401.7.16 / 14:03 hrs. (Shipboard Time)

 

Ensign Cass Carver did her best to put a brave face on things.

“Well, if it’s any consolation, I’ve always had a thing for older – men.” Cass smiled wryly as Nurse Atwood adjusted the straps on Carlto’s Exo-Frame.

“Daddy – issues perhaps?” her friend grimaced as the medical – prosthetic took his weight with an imperceptible whine as it’s gimballed – smart servos adjusted to support his withered limbs.

“Something like that.” Cass smiled.

It was hard to see Carlito like this. Not only had her friend and mentor been robbed of the flower of his youth by exposure to intense Tachyon – radiation, but the roving phenomena within Underspace had stripped the Chief Engineer of his very vitality. 

The human body was not mean to age over 30 years in under 30 seconds and although Carlito seemed to be making good progress with his mental & cognitive adjustment to his unorthodox predicament – the physical toll of almost instantaneous aging would be a far more protracted road of recovery to walk.

Nurse Victoria Attwood supported Carlto as the Medical – Waldo linked with is cerebral cortex and began to conform with his nerve impulses.

“It’ll take a while to get used to.” Victoria smiled reassuringly, “But the Exo will really help your recovery. Just give it time.”

Time was written all over Carlito Herras’s face, or rather the unkinder realities of time had etched their score on the Latino Officer’s once – fine, smooth features.

Agradecer, mi ángel. Solo quería agradecerte todo lo que has hecho por mí.” Carlito held Nurse Attwood’s hand, the Waldo shifting to support his wasted muscles.

Nurse Victoria Attwood blushed gracefully and kissed Carlto chastely on his forehead.

“Good luck Carlito.” Nurse Attwood smiled, “I hear that Captain Hyland put in the request to Starbase 72 herself, when she found that Dr Eboneke was back aboard. Apparently, she served with him aboard the USS Sacramento.”

Carlito Herrera straighten, the Waldo – frame bringing him to a comfortable position, as he asked tentatively?

“Do you think that this therapy will really work?”

Nurse Attwood handed Carlito his bag of belongings and shrugged lightly.

“I don’t pretend to know much about Nanomedicine, “Victoria admitted, “But I do know that it was developed from techniques used to restore patients formerly assimilated by the Borg Collective by the reverse – engineering of nanites and that Dr Eboneke Abaywe is one of the foremost practitioners in that field. If the Captain vouches for him and he is willing to treat you – I can’t see that there is anything to lose by trying?”

“Those odds I can take. “Carlito smiled, the unfamiliar crinkles forming around his kind, brown eyes – that remained untouched by artificial – aging.

Hasta Pronto my friend.”

As Cass escorted her friend from Sickbay, she fixed Carlito with a quizzical stare until he relented and said,

“What?”

“Agradecer, mi ángel?” Cass Carver mocked her friend gently, as they walked towards the airlock and the hard-link to Terminus Station – where the connecting shuttle would take Chief Herrera back to Starbase 72 to begin this revolutionary / experimental treatment.

“I swear to god Carlito.” Cass laughed and slapped the Exo-Frame. “I think that you’re on the mend already!”