Part of USS Edinburgh: Mission 2 – Wings of a Phoenix and Bravo Fleet: Sundered Wings

The Fallen and The Risen

USS Polson
July 2, 2400
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USS Polson- Officer’s Lounge – 0800

Harris sat at the large table reading the reports from the overnight crews on the Edinburgh.  He’d tried to get over to the ship earlier, but the transporter officer told him he was under strict orders from Captain Harris to keep them all on board the Polson for now.  He’d suggested the officer’s lounge and that’s where Ambrose had found himself.  The coffee was incredible and breakfast had just started so he was sampling the menu.  His body was still sore and the aches from the day before groaned as he moved but he wasn’t going to complain.  The complete medical report had come back.  They had lost fifty crew.  The names were hard to read.  Harder still was that the losses spanned every department – everyone knew someone on the list.  There would need to be funerals, notices sent to families, and the most challenging task at hand – bringing the dead home.

Ambrose wasn’t sure how to process the losses.  It had been a split-second decision.  Had he tried to grab as many from the planet and then fled – he and the crew would have had to accept that they hadn’t done enough or made a way for all those on the planet to survive.  He didn’t know what the families would say once the messages from him and Starfleet Command were sent.  He hoped they would see their sons’ and daughters’ loss in the light of what had been saved, and what had been prevented.  He wasn’t sure what Starfleet would say or if they would promote him with such a heavy loss of crew.  The doors to the lounge opened and Jordan Reid stepped inside and spotted her CO, and headed his way.  She grabbed a cup of coffee and a plate from the line and sat down across from him.  The silence in the room held until she spoke, “How you holding up?”

“I don’t have a great answer to that question, Jord.”  He finished reading the report and gently tossed the PADD onto the table, “I’m not sure I’ll ever have an answer to that question…at least for a while.”  He stood and took a plate from the line, and hobbled back to his seat.  He took a bite and sighed, “25% of my crew is dead.  How in the hell do I…work through that?”  Another bite.  “They taught us about losing crew in the academy.  We went through the steps…heard from captains and commanders who had endured it…you never can understand the stories they told until…well, you live it on your own.”

Reid nodded.  She was feeling it too.  Three of her orderlies had died.  The shock was still resonating in her heart.  One of her nurses was in critical condition after rushing to engineering to reach the injured.  She sipped her coffee.  She didn’t have the words.

The door opened and Ensign Juliet Woodward entered, finding her way to the table after snagging a cup of hot earl grey tea.  She gave her CO and FO a quiet nod as she stirred the one lump of sugar into the steaming mug.  She glanced at Reid and Harris, “I’ve been asked by Starfleet to put together a plan for the crew through counseling services.” She took another sip, “Loss sucks.”  She had lost two counselors.  She had just started to get to know them.  The remaining counselors were working with her to assemble the plan.

Reid took a bit from her plate, “The funerals are going to be the hardest part.  How does this crew move on when they’ve lost so much?”  

Woodward shook her head, “I wish had the answer.  Grief is a shitty monster that never leaves.  It takes your heart, grabs it, squeezes it, and then throws it in a blender until it’s pureed.  Then you’re supposed to put it back together.  Hardest shit you’ll have to do in your career.”

Jordan gave her a look, “That’s supposed to help?”

The Chief Counselor raised her eyebrow, “Did it?’

Reid stared her down for a moment and chuckled, “I’ll admit…it did.  Hearing someone talk honestly about it…it helps.  There’s so much hurt twisted up inside…you have to be able to release that pressure somehow.”

The next officer through the door was Okada.  She shuffled to the drinks, listlessly picked up a coffee and a plate, and dragged herself to a seat beside Woodward.  The eyes of the First Officer were red, and her face wet from further tears.  She had lost 10 of her engineering crew.  For Chief Katsumi, her engine room was a family.  She had just lost ten brothers and sisters.  Woodward pushed her chair closer to the Okada and pulled her gently to herself as her tears intensified into sobs.  Reid stood and moved around the table to the other side of the Chief Engineer and leaned into the woman.  Harris felt his heart tremble.  They were each raw from the losses of yesterday.  It was going to be a hard day ahead.  A necessary day, but a hard day.

Kondo entered next and slowly made his way to the drinks and food counter.  He meandered to a seat next to his CO, setting the plate and cup down with a deep sigh.  He’d lost 4 tactical officers and 2 security officers.  He took a sip of his orange juice and took notice of the three women officers huddled together in tears.  “The first day after a death, the new absence, Is always the same; we should be careful, Of each other, we should be kind, While there is still time..”  Kondo let out another sigh as he recited a poem from memory, “I had hoped it would never come to me…this moment.”  He turned to Harris, his eyes glistening, “We cannot bear this burden alone, they say…”

Harris finished it, “…but together we may vanquish the rain for a day or more.”  He put his hand on Kondo’s shoulder, “We’re all in this together.”  

Kondo nodded as he took another drink of his juice, “I wish I could throw a punch or two at it…they look like big, good, strong hands, don’t they?”  He shook his head, “Damn it hurts.”  Harris moved his chair closer to Kondo and they sat, leaning on each other.   The door to the mess opened and Lieutenant Thasaz stepped in, her hands and arms gloved with healing but flexible material.  She picked up coffee and a plate and sat down next to the three others huddling together.  She didn’t speak.  She didn’t need to.  She’d lost five officers from her Starfleet crew and five officers from her Romulan group.  Her eyes had cried raw, and she leaned slightly up against Woodward, sipping her coffee in silence.

They remained together quietly, but together in the moment of pain and loss.

The door opened for the last time that morning, revealing Captain Rachel Harris.  Some of them started to stand and she waved them off, “Don’t even think about standing on my account, everyone.”  She pulled a seat over and sat amongst them, setting a large bag on the ground.  “I am here to extend to you the official and complete condolences from the Federation and Starfleet Command at the depth and width of your loss on the USS Edinburgh.”  She sighed, “You will be granted time away to properly mourn them.  Many of you this was your first command team experience…your first time sitting on that bridge…and your first time working with people who count on you…and that you come to count on.”  She took a drink from the coffee she had grabbed from the table, “People will tell you that they wish they could make it all better…but that’s the biggest lie.  In this moment…your heart needs that emptiness to echo around your soul.  You need to feel the absence of that which filled it…and start to understand how to someday fill it back up again and why this process will happen again.”  She stood and put the bag on the table, pulling out a bottle of Glenmorangie Signet, “The first step in the process is to recognize the loss we’ve experienced…and wish them rest and peace in their passing.”  Ambrose stood and gathered glasses from the table and put on gently down in front of each of his command team.  Rachel handed him the opened bottle and he poured a generous shot into each.

He returned and stood, offering his own glass up, “To those we’ve lost…may their memories be a blessing…may we never forget the space in our hearts they hold…to absent friends.”  They all lifted their glasses and drank the whiskey carefully.  Harris sat down and looked to each of them as he spoke, “I am humbled by each of you.  The last few months…you’ve done incredible things.  I wish for better days ahead for us all.”  They each nodded to the sentiment.

As the group sat officers began sharing stories of the lost hesitantly at first but soon each was sharing a funny memory or a touching moment.  Tears flowed both from laughter and also at the sadness of never being able to hear that joke in that tone of voice or that expression of frustration that became a punchline once it was said at the academy.  Stories of heroism, hedonism, and hapless hilarity soon flowed from each of them as they related the tales of the lives that had been taken away.

An hour later they had fallen back into silence.  Rachel Harris stood, “This officer’s mess is yours for the remainder of this mission.  You may remain here…I would almost order it.  Being together…I now know why Commander Harris speaks so highly and fondly of each of you.  There is a unique power in this.  Stay as long as you need.  We’ll reconvene at 1400 hours to update you on the Edinburgh and your crew.”  She gave a nod and was out the door, leaving them all in silence.  

It was Fowler who broke the silence this time with a smile as she drawled, “I just like that you speak fondly of us to people, Commander.”  They all burst out laughing and Harris rolled his eyes but chuckled as his face turned shades of red.  They stayed together, poking fun at each other every so often, huddled together against the wind of grief as they built each other up to eventually rise again.

Comments

  • I enjoyed the light start to this post, with Ambrose's mom grounding him on her own ship. But it didn't prepare me for what this story was to be! It was a bold choice here. 25% of the crew dead; a literal bloodbath left behind on the Eddie's interiors. As Ambrose describes, it's truly mind-blowing. It's hard to conceptualize, even. Truly, it's much worse than Picard's experience at the demise of the Stargazer. All in all, I appreciated the character study this chapter turned into. I liked learning how each member of the senior staff experiences grief and strives to work through it, in their own ways. I have to imagine they'll be lost in these woods for some time to come.

    July 9, 2022