Part of Endeavour: The Risan Beachhead

Thick Skin

White Wolf Refining, Prudhoe Bay Alaska
December 1st, 2140
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dThe biting cold of the Alaska North winds tore through Tali’s layers as she stood on the oil derrick preparing to put another drill pipe into the head. Even with all the layers of clothes and the work she still seemed cold. It was rare for someone like her to be in such a position, but she ironically loved the job and worked hard to make sure the job was done. She had some cuts and bruises from the dangerous profession, but she had grown accustomed to it. 

She was the lead roughneck and had learned to tussle with the toughest in the field. The people she worked with were rough around the edges and they gave her crap everyday. She was so used to it that now it didn’t even phase her. The replacement of the pipe was that of a well oiled machine and took all of Tali’s strength after a current 14 hour shift. As the pipe was finally set the work alarm indicated that her shift was over. She got off the derrick and walked to the nearest building where her and the crew usually sat and chatted for awhile, especially when they had the next week off.

The heat of the building immediately made Tali pull off her coat and take off her hard hat. She sat down after grabbing a drink the distinctive smell of oil and grease in the room, something that she had gotten used to. As she went to sit down the chair was yanked out from behind her and she fell to the ground. The room erupted in laughter.

“You look better on the ground, Alpha” came the response from the nasally voice of the most rookie of the group. He still used her nickname like everyone else.

“You know, Sam honestly it’s better down here cause I don’t here your annoying voice as clear.” She said not letting the joke phase her, as she got up and pulled her seat back in. She looked over seeing Sam with a defeated look on his face. She took the opportunity to make another jab “Do you need Mommy, Sam?” She said as the group started laughing again.

Sam didn’t let this one take him down though “Only if it’s your mom.” He said with a smirk.

Tali took a deep breath as usually such jokes wouldn’t phase her, but with her mom just passing it didn’t help. The looks from the other showed a look of concern because they knew Tali and if she got heated it usually wasn’t good for any of them. Sam obviously with no idea of what he had done looked around till one of the workers leaned over and whispered in his ear. As the sentence finished Sam’s eyes grew wide with regret. He was about to speak but the person next to him shook his head. 

Tali was tough so she chuckled and looked at Sam “Good one there Sammy.” She looked at the rest of the crew who was still silent and got up from her seat dismissing herself and walking out of the room. She took a quick walk across the facility to an observation room and sat down a few tears flowing from her eyes. She kept a tough demeanor in front of the crew, but this was not something she could easily forget.

It’s not his fault he didn’t know. It doesn’t make this any easier, especially when I need someone to talk too.” She thought as she looked out the window as the snow began to fall steadily. The shimmering of the oil field lights present as the sun had set and darkness had enveloped Prudhoe Bay, which was bout how Tali’s heart felt dark and cold without her mom around. 

Tears still falling from her eyes she looked down at the floor and than at her hard hat which had a sticker her mother had given her and her advice from her mothers time in the field “Don’t let them see you cry or bleed Tali, be tough and show them just how tough a woman can be in such a profession.” the words ringing in here ears like the first time her mother told her that.

Her mother was her rock and without her sometimes she felt lost, but she got up and pressed on. Her dad was great, but she had a relationship with her mom that wasn’t the same as that with her dad. She knew it was dark but she needed to shoot something. She got up and slung her bag over her shoulder preparing to leave for her living area. As she left the observation room Sam stood there with his head down. He looked up “I am so sorry…I had no idea.” 

Tali smiled “It’s ok, Sam it’s not your fault. Don’t worry about it. I’ll see you in three days.” She concluded and left heading to her quarters preparing to sleep for a few hours before waking up and heading to the range. 

Comments

  • What a great story! Having lived in Alaska for several years, I remember these cold winters and the endless snow. The banter back and forth between the characters was very realistic and honest. I've worked with these type of people for years so her line about "don't let them see you cry" is very real. That profession is tough and people will use any weakness to their advantage. Wonderful post, I can't wait to see more from this story.

    April 7, 2022
  • Tali Levy

    MACO Detachment Assistant Commander