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Part of USS Mercy: Mission 2 – “Into the Breach”

It’s the Principal that Matters

8/31/2400, 1630 Hors
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Izi stood alone in the deserted school cafeteria after the thirteen children had been beamed to the Mercy.  What should have been a wonderful part of growing up, was now a painful scar that would last a lifetime.  Whatever happened as far as reuniting them with their families, instead of happy memories of learning and making friends, there was the fear, worry, and trauma of the ruthless attack on the colony.  Looking around one last time, with an aching heart, Izi sighed and began making her way back out of the school.

Outside on the street, the heaviness of reality fell upon Izi like a burden on her shoulders.  Damaged buildings were all about.  Dancing orange flames sent billows of acrid smoke into the air.  Feeling the despair of what happened was almost overwhelming.  How could anyone be so cruel?

Before trudging back to Commander Sorek, Izi noticed something she hadn't previously seen.  Focusing on following Katy, she now saw a park across from the school.  A man was sitting on a bench, his back to Izi.  Nearby structures were ablaze, so she approached him.

“Excuse me, sir.  I'm Lieutenant Iziraa from the USS Mercy.  May I help you?”  Izi knew she needed to get the man away from any flames and to one of the medical stations set up around the city, but if he was traumatized or in shock, a softer bearing might be better.

There was no movement or response.

“Sir, we need to move away from here.”

More silence.

Izi was beginning to lose patience.

“Lieutenant Iziraa, have you ever done something so cowardly and shameful, you despise yourself?”

Izi studied the man, her antennae moving in slow circles.  “What happened?  What did you do?”

The man harrumphed.  “You didn't answer the question.”

“I've made mistakes in my life and even done some dumb things, but never anything so shameful that I would despise myself.”  For a moment, Izi considered saying she had, thinking it might help the man if he knew someone else had done something so wrong, but he could have asked what it was.  She didn't want to make up something.  If she was to help him, it was best to be honest.

“No, I don't suppose you have.”

Keeping her distance from the man, Izi glanced at the nearby fire.  More smoke was in the air and some was drifting towards them.  Needing to resolve this situation, she decided to contact the Mercy and have him beamed aboard.  Reaching for her comm badge, Izi was taken by surprise as the man abruptly jumped off the bench and pointed a previously unseen phaser at her.

“Easy there, Lieutenant Iziraa.  Don't go doing something you'll regret.”

Izi slowly spread her arms, showing she didn't have a weapon.  “I was just going to contact my ship.”

“Now why would you do something like that?”

Izi was getting angry, but she maintained an even posture, though her antennae were leaning slightly forward.  “Sir, I just want you to be safe.”  Her eyes were beginning to feel some irritation from the smoke.

“Safe?  No one is safe.  Look around.  We were supposed to be safe here.”

“Sir, I'm really getting tired of this.  Do you want my help or not?”

The man was surprised at the question.  He chuckled.  “No, Lieutenant Iziraa, I don't want your help.”

“Fine, then may I go?”

More surprise, followed by a cynical laugh.  “Don't you want to know what I did?”

Izi did want to know, but part of her didn't care anymore.  There were still many people that needed and wanted her help.  “Let's start with you telling me your name.”

The man didn't move, his phaser still raised.  “My name is Murphy.”

Izi didn't know if that was his first name or last, but at that point, it didn't matter.  “What did you do, Murphy?”  Izi could see the conflict forming on his face.

“I'm the principal of this school.  When we were attacked, I grabbed a phaser and got ready to defend the children.”

Izi could see pain on Murphy's face now.  It was like he was barely holding back tears.

“When the Romulans came, instead of fighting, I ran.  I was supposed to take care of the children, but I ran.  I'm a coward.”

Izi's first reaction was yes, Murphy was a coward, but she couldn't say that.  “You're not a soldier.  It's not easy to face death like that.”

“Please don't try to talk me down from the ledge, Lieutenant Iziraa.  Two teachers died because of me.”

There was certainly more to the story, but Izi wasn't there when it happened.  “Murphy, the only thing that matters now is getting you away from here.  We can work out the rest later.”

“I appreciate your concern, Lieutenant Iziraa.  I really do, but it's too late for me.”  He pointed the phaser at his neck.

Izi couldn't help rolling her eyes, now red and watering, and letting out a deep sigh.  Her antennae were straight and rigid.  “Are you really going there, Murphy?  Spare me the maudlin drama.”

While Murphy stared with incredulity, Izi mulled over her last comment.  She had taken classes in the Academy geared towards bringing someone back from taking their own life, but she was Andorian.  Put up or shut up.  If she was going to help, she had to show him he was able to face what he had done.

“Murphy, I don't know what happened and maybe you did panic and run, but this isn't the answer.  How will your family feel?"  She coughed, trying to clear her dry throat.

Murphy aimed his weapon back towards Izi.  “There's no reason for you to stay.  Please go.  I don't want your blood on my hands, too.”

“I can't do that."

The look in Murphy's eyes changed.

“Murphy, don't!”

Flinging the phaser away, Murphy ran towards one of the burning buildings.

“Murphy!”  In Andorian, Izi ripped a string of swearing that would have embarrassed a Klingon.  “Why is it always me?”  She ran after him.