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Hope and Prayer

Posted on Mon Aug 8th, 2022 @ 1:37pm by Captain Abigail Laurens & Captain Dirk Taggart

Mission: The Koldaran Encounter
Location: Odraclite

Abigail sat on the floor in one of the small rooms off the antechamber, her back up against the wall, the occasional breeze catching the mess of hair around her face. Any pretence of keeping up personal appearances were long since abandoned in light of their situation. Moments ago she had been standing, looking out through the hole in the wall that served as a window, watching over the expansive courtyards. The strike teams had long since left, they were well on their way to doing their own thing. There was no idea if they would succeed or not. There was no idea if they would return or not. There was only hope and prayer. One was being provided in spades by the Acehaya, the sounds of their worships could be heard around the clock from the catacombs below where most of them had taken sanctuary.

It was hope that Starfleet was supposed to provide... but the sight of yet more bodies being carried across the courtyards made it unclear how much hope they truly had. Leaning against the wall, Abigail slid down until she was sitting on the floor, knees pulled up in front of her, head back against the cool rock surfaces, staring blankly at the wall across from her.

Dirk awoke from a small nap at a table with a cleaning rag still in his hand. He had fallen asleep cleaning dishes after feeding the strike teams. Embarrassed at his slumber he surveyed the room and saw Abby staring blankly. His heart ached, he had seen that same look on the faces of veterans from the Dominion War, it hurt to see it on her face.

It wasn't out of pity that he moved beside her, it was more the fact that in this hell hole there was someone who was his glimmer of hope. If he could reciprocate that and share the hope just maybe their miracle would arrive somehow. As he slid down beside her he took her hand and whispered, "Hey Abby, you ok?"

Abby glanced up. She was aware of Dirk's presence, but somehow his words didn't register in her mind immediately as her gaze slowly drifted back to the wall. It was his touch that registered in her mind. His familiarity. "Ensign Matthews was only twenty-four," she said softly. "This was his first assignment. He came aboard the day before we took the new Astraea out of dock." She paused, drawing in a slow, shaky breath. "He was so young, so excited about this, about being assigned to Astraea. He wanted nothing more than to make Chief Engineer..." another shaky breath. "He told me how proud of him his parents were... and now I have to tell them he's dead."

She shook her head slightly, her free hand dashing a tear from one eye. "Lieutenant Casteel has two small children and a husband waiting for her on the ship. How do I look those babies in the eyes and tell them that their Momma isn't ever coming home?"

Dirk put his arm around Abby, "You're going to tell them, that they died heroes, though it will never feel like enough. It doesn't get easier and this is the hardest part of being a Captain. We will get through this one step at a time and those first steps will hurt like hell!"

She leaned against him. In her heart she knew his words were right, but at the same time, the thought of having to speak those words, take those steps, it hurt her in a way she couldn't quite comprehend. She'd passed on news of deaths before. It was never a joyous task, it was never something that any CO enjoyed or wanted to do, but for some reason this seemed worse than usual. "Did we even do the right thing by intervening?" she finally asked quietly.

"I hope so," he replied. "That's something I ask myself after any crewman is lost. I don't have an answer Abby. I could tell you it was their duty, and they knew what they signed up for; but as a counselor once told me, the fact that you question the loss means you have a high value of life."

"No ideological or political conviction should justify the sacrifice of a human life. If you truly believe in the value of life, you care about all of the weakest and most vulnerable members of society. The value of life is absolute, with no concessions. It's not negotiable," Abigail replied quietly.

She stood up, sighing softly as she walked across to the small table, picking up a bottle of water and turning it over in her hands. "If we hadn't intervened, would anyone else have?"

Dirk followed her and drank a bottle of water also, "I don't know if anyone else would have, but we are here and we are making a difference. Abby, we are saving lives in the long run, you can't keep beating yourself up."

Holding the bottle of water in one hand, Abigail leaned into him, her head resting against his shoulder. She could almost feel his heart beating steadily inside his chest, the steady rhythm, even if it was imaginary, giving her a feeling of warmth, and more importantly, strength. She sighed softly, relaxing in his arms for a moment, closing her eyes, just focusing on their moment of solitude.

"We'll get through this together, just keep thinking about that beach," he whispered into her ear, as he drew comfort from her nearness. Dirk closed his eyes and focused on the few seconds of solitude they shared.


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