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Part of USS Hathaway: Episode 12: Redemption and USS Hathaway: Season 3: Prometheus Squadron

Wall of Heroes

Wall of Heroes, Andoria
Stardate 240012.25
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Risa. Paradise. Warm tropical breezes, exotic foods, nothing to do but sit around all day. It was the dream vacation spot for everyone and anyone.

Except for a miserable Tellarite going through some difficult times, which was why Vasoch Gor, formally the executive officer of the starship Ulysses, and of Starfleet, had opted to remain on Andor instead. Icy and bitter, that was just the Tellarite’s demeanour of late, not just the surface of the freezing planet dozens of light-years from home. In truth, the ageing Tellarite’s choice to visit one of the founding worlds of the Federation was nothing to do with his mental health, and everything to do with the death of his friend, his colleague, and his captain.

Funny. When had he started to see Tharia as more than just a colleague, his superior? When had she become his friend? Was it around the time she had followed his advice in the Opra system, or maybe when he had opted to stay aboard Ulysses when she had been granted permanent command? It didn’t matter now, though. She was dead, killed in action serving her beloved Starfleet and her crew. She gave her life to get the ship to safety, a ship that she had left to him. Oh, how he wished it had been him on the floor of the brig instead of her, entrails sprawled across the deck, limp and lifeless. It was an image he could never forget, despite dozens of counselling sessions.

The only relief he had experienced came when he arrived here, at her ancestral home on Andoria. She had once told him that, “when a Guardsman dies far from home, their companions carry part of them back to the ice of Andoria.” To him, that was more than just a piece of trivia; it was a promise. A promise shared with only one other. And while Tempestava th’Zorati had travelled with him and their captain on her final journey home (she had long since returned to Starfleet service, apparently aboard the starship Venture), he had remained. He had remained, not out of some misguided sense of loyalty, but out of respect for the wishes of his friend.

Standing in front of the Wall of Heroes outside the Federation Embassy in the northern hemisphere, Vasoch had been enveloped by the largest, warmest coat one had ever seen. The hood, impressively fluffy inside, protected his scraggly hair from the elements. The Wall of Heroes. An impressive memorial to all Andorians that had died off-world, in the service of the Federation and even the Imperial Guard centuries earlier. Hundreds of thousands of names etched into history, and Tharia’s was the most recent. Probably not the last, either.

In his hand, a data PADD beeped, confirming the completion of the download he had been waiting for. He had been sent a request by Tharia’s family, a copy of the Andorian equivalent of a last will and testament to be precise. In it awaited the requests left for him. He’d been waiting for the download to complete for a while, but now that it had, he couldn’t bring himself to read it.

Elsewhere, following the USS Sojourner’s return to Federation space after its encounter with the blood-dilithium crystalline entity, the ship needed a visit to the shipyard for repairs. Lieutenant Kerry Dawson had been looking forward to the downtime to allow her and her science team to review their findings from the delta quadrant but she was not given the chance. Almost immediately after the Sojourner was docked she was invited to attend a scientific conference on blood dilithium and to share her experience with it and the encounter they had. After taking the Wavecrest, the Sojourner’s Waverider class runabout she arrived on Andoria with Ensign Jenoda Toi, her Geology and Planetary Science lead. The two of them had spent the last few days in a blur of endless lectures and discussions leaving her feeling drained.

Kerry stepped out into the bracing cold air of Andoria and tried to suppress an involuntary shiver. Pulling her coat around herself she began to wander the streets in the hope of a bit of peace. After a few minutes, she found herself near the Federation Embassy and the Wall of Heros outside of it. Thanen had mentioned the Wall to her before she had left and she was glad she had been able to see it before she left. 

Seeing the Wall she couldn’t help but think of the events on Ulysses and the death of Captain Tharia sh’Elas. She had never had the chance to meet her but she knew Kirin and Thanen did and both had thought highly of her. She thought back to the days when the Sojourner along with the Sarek and the Ulysses made their way back to the Markonian outpost following the Hirogen attack. She remembered walking the corridors of the Galaxy-class ship with the repair teams and the feeling of loss the crew felt. Without thinking, she made her way towards the wall lost in her memories of the last few months. She came to a stop near a rather stout individual, or so she assumed as they were wearing the largest coat she had ever seen but didn’t give them any mind. She bent down and examined the names until she found the newest; her gloved hand came to rest on it and she paused, “Thanen and Kirin thought very highly of you, you will be missed.”

Watching from several feet away, Vasoch watched as the new figure moved in front of him and placed her hand upon the memorial. He could barely make out what she said, with it being some reference to his captain being missed. “You knew her?” the Tellarite called out from beneath his hood.

Surprised by the contact and the question, Kerry fell backwards with a start causing the hood she had on to fall back and her blond hair to spill out. As she regained her feet she looked up at the individual beside her. Though his face was somewhat obscured by the large hood she recognized the features of a Tellarite. After a moment she responded, “Sorry, Commander, ah, Captain Gor? I am Lieutenant Kerry Dawson from the Sojourner. I, no, I did not know her but my captain and the first officer did and spoke highly of her. Are you here for the conference as well? I did not see you at the academy.”

“Apologies if I startled you, Lieutenant,” the Tellarite smiled sheepishly, “and it’s just Vasoch now. I resigned my commission a few weeks ago,” he revealed to her, indirectly answering her question in the process.

A confused look crossed her face as she tucked her hair back into her hood, “Resigned your commission? Why?” She glanced back at the wall and the name there and a thought crossed her mind. Before she could think about it the words were out of her mouth, “Captain sh’Elas’ death?”

Vasoch chose his words carefully, as his gaze returned to the Wall. “Too much loss, over too many years. Starfleet has lost its way. I don’t feel like there is a place for an old explorer like me these days,” he let out a wistful sigh.

Kerry stood silent for a moment following Vasoch’s comment, a part of her thought she should leave him to his thoughts but she couldn’t shake the feeling that he needed the company and to talk. “I, um,” she began, a little unsure, “I do not think that is true. I cannot compare what Starfleet used to be from my own experience but I would argue that with all the pressures on it people like you are needed now more than ever to ensure it keeps to its true values.”

”I don’t think I can save Starfleet, Miss. Now, if you don’t mind, I need to figure out how I’m going to complete the last wishes of my friend,” the Tellarite huffed, turning to leave.

Kerry glanced back at the wall and shivered slightly, pulling her coat tight around her. “What were her last wishes? Is it something I could help with?”

Vasoch stopped and turned back to the Terran. His eyes then glanced up and away, high above the Wall they had been looking at. “To conquer my fear of heights,” he frowned, nodding his head towards the tallest peak in the northern wastes.

“Heights sir? You plan on going climbing, I have heard good things about some of the places here?” Kerry asked as she followed his gaze. She glanced back at Vasoch as several lines of thought raced through her head. “Who are you going with? Best not to do that alone.”

He nodded in response, eyes trained on the mountaintop. “No one I know is mad enough to accompany me,” he grimaced.

Kerry smiled slightly, “Ah, well if you want some company I enjoy climbing, did it throughout my time at the academy.” She didn’t know Vasoch but the crew on the Sojourner kept telling her to engage more with people and this seemed like a good chance for that, not to mention a good idea.

‘Sure, why not?’ The Tellarite pondered to himself for a few seconds and then nodded. “Agreed. How about we meet back here in an hour?”

Kerry nodded a bit too enthusiastically, “One hour? Sure thing Capt… I mean Vasoch.” She looked back towards her hotel, “That gives me time to get ready. See you then.” With that, she turned quickly and began to walk towards her room.

Vasoch watched as his new friend vacated the area, and then looked back at the mountain they were to climb. A sweeping realisation hit him that perhaps, just perhaps, he wasn’t cut out to be climbing mountains at his age, or in his condition for that matter.

‘What the hell was I thinking?!’ was all that crossed his mind as he stood in deep contemplation, regretting the mere suggestion of ascending such a peek.

One of many odd decisions he had made of late, apparently…