Posted on Mon Jun 24th, 2024 @ 1:42pm by Captain Abigail Laurens & Commander Ichiko Gail

Mission: Lower Decks
Location: Captain's Ready Room

Abigail was at her desk, the same place she seemed to spend a lot of her time of late. Though the lines of worry that had been etched into her face for the last many weeks had been replaced with a pale smoothness and a depth of infinite sadness that seemed to echo in her eyes, leaking out in small droplets that traversed slowly, staining her cheek in their wake.

The chime from her ready room door rang, just once. One solitary sound that seemed to echo in the silence. She dashed the backs of her hands quickly across her face, aware that her First Officer was likely on the other side of the door, waiting patiently to be allowed entry, her interest no doubt piqued by the emergent priority call that was routed through the Dalacari communications network that had taken her away from the bridge abruptly.

She wasn't even sure how long ago that had been. The conversation had long since faded from the room, her screen now displaying only the Federation logo, and the vague reflection of her own face.

"Enter," she finally said quietly.

The door swishing open was the loudest sound in the room. Muffled, soft footsteps from the ship's second as she entered, not daring to break the silence as she took in the room. Quiet. Almost devoid of the background hum of the Federation starships. Cold. Not a single provision for a guest. Not a single accomodation for a friend. That was the first pass. The first two seconds of her presence in the room. The rest was focused on Abigail.

Puffy eyes. Red. Irritated. No, sorrowful. Bad news. I'm afraid the condition is terminal, but it won't be what kills her. She'll go mad by twenty. Something happened. Something dark. Something horrible. Someone has died. She was crying. She was sorrowful. Did someone die? A friend? A family member? A crewhand? A shipmate?

Ichiko wordlessly walked across the gulf of the office. So small before, now nearly endless. Pausing only to fetch two cups from the wall replicator as she passed, and sitting in her usual seat across from the Captain. From her friend. From Abigail.

"So remind me to never share too many secrets with you then..."

Words in jest from almost a year ago, but if Abigail didn't want to give, Ichiko wouldn't push to get. She simply set Abigail's drink in front of her, and gently leaned in to become a part of the Captain's personal universe. A presence. Ears perked, turning slightly to more directly point at her. Hollow, endless eyes watched... long ears perked to hear. Abigail had become the very center of Ichiko's little personal space. A daunting presence, but a soft one.

With unfocused eyes Abigail wrapped her hands around the mug that had been placed in front of her, focusing on the warmth seeping into her hands and into her body, using it to bring herself back into the present moment.

She picked the mug up, holding it against her lips for a moment but not sipping at the liquid, a sudden wave of nausea washing over her accompanied by the threat of a fresh barrage of tears.

She set the mug back down, keeping her hands wrapped around it, staring at the liquid gently rolling within.

"The notification came in from Starfleet. The USS Pennsylvania and all crew have been declared missing." Despite her best efforts her voice wavered as she spoke, tears welling in her eyes. "They're all gone."

A hand was made available across the spread of the desk. It seemed the only time a Ts'usugi's eyes shined was when they were wet with tears. Ichiko's eyes positively sparkled right now.

It took an eternity for Ichiko to find her words, but she did in a hush. "Then we properly mourn them. I don't know how the Federation does it, but during the conflict against the Koldaran they served. They served when they had no need to." a pause, "I'll..." a breath, a loss of words. Ichiko wanted to just take the time to stop holding back. Stop holding the tears at bay. These words, she felt, needed saying.

"I'll make the calls. The shipmaster who fought there would... would want to say... goodb.." that was all she managed. Before her words were lost.

Abigail inhaled sharply, forcibly trying to steady herself, hands tightening around the mug, using it to anchor herself to the present moment and help keep the floodgates of emotions closed.

"We w..will...." With the stammer she paused, another deep breath taken, again trying to maintain control. "We will need to inform the crew," she said quietly. "After the Koldaran encounter..." she paused again, the bitter stench of death filling her nostrils. Even without an eidetic memory it was something that could never be forgotten.

Though it had really only been minutes since Ichiko had entered the room, it had felt like an eternity had passed, an eternity that had aged Abigail considerably, the lines of sadness in her face becoming more pronounced as she looked across at her friend, taking in the shimmer in her eyes, something that nearly pushed her over the edge.

Choking back another sob, Abigail turned it into a gasp for breath and straightened her back. "Will you please see to the announcement?"

Though it was a simple request, one that many a CO would make of their First Officer, in Abigail's case it came out as more of a beg. "Please?" she finally ended, her voice breaking with the final whispered plea.

The rabbitess gave a nod, bringing a hand up to dab at her damp eyes. How quickly she could go from an emotional wreck to prim and proper. Ts'usugi social conditioning at its finest. But the signs were there for those that knew where to look. A twitch to the ear, a shine to their lusterless eyes, a shiver when they breathed in. Ichiko was barely holding it together, but she was holding it together for Abigail's sake.

"I will." she said, simple and direct, maybe out of the concern than anything beyond three syllables would break her resolve. She closed her eyes and gave a nod, breathing deep. Slow, deep breaths. Chest rise up, hold, chest fall down. Captain Dirk Taggart, Lieutenant Commander Henry Castle, Ensign Dravin Stayvec, Lieut...

Her resolve stammered a little, a sniffle became something of a whine, something of a sob. enant Jennifer Matthews, Lieutenant JG Camille Lévesque, Lieutenant JG Vespa Kale, Lieutenant Kinaav, Lieutenant Adora Hart

A hand raised to her head, to where her temple would be, holding it. Visibly pained, she gave a nod. "I will."

Abigail nodded slowly, the raw emotion of the moment making her eyes tear again. "Thank you my friend," she finally murmured quietly.

Ichiko gave a nod, and rose. Slow, methodical, she rose to the occasion she never dreamed of, but dreaded everyday. She walked to the wall by the replicator and paused, as if to consider her words. These words would stick with the crew for years. They would stick with Abigail for the rest of her career. They would stick with Ichiko forever.

She tapped the AllComm, and the whistle that followed broke Ichiko's heart. "Attention all hands. This is Ichiko Gail, ship second and executive officer. It is with a heavy heart and soul that I report that the USS Pennsylvania was reported lost. The cause, unknown. Starfleet does not leave anyone behind, so the investigation being lead into this must be equally unwavering.." a pause, "The Pennsylvania was commanded by Captain Dirk Taggart. A man of integrity and morality. The shining example of Starfleet's commitments. When the Acehava were threatened by the expansion of the Koldaran, captain Taggart didn't stop to consider if they were allies. If they were even known to him. He heard a cry for help from the oppressed, and he acted. It was the actions of Captain Taggart, along with this ship and the Wellington, that allowed those people to survive. The Koldaran are our enemy, the enemy of the Ts'usugi, but that day the Federation stood and sent her champions. Freedom ensured, but Captain Taggart and his crew payed the ultimate sacrifice for that. A reminder of the weight the oath they took carries."

"Captain Taggart's crew was inclusive, with all manner of being standing tall and proud upon her deck. Arrangement are being made to mourn their passing, and news of this loss will reach every corner of the galaxy. Captain Taggart and his crew will be the example by which all other oaths are kept. From here, to the Empire, to the Republic, and beyond." she paused again, taking another slow breath. "Their journey is just beginning."

Ichiko was silent for a moment, "I ask, in accordance with traditions across the stars, that we observe a moment of silent reflection. To remember every moment we shared with the crew of our fallen sister ship. To pick one moment from all that time, and to remember it..." she looked back at Abigail, and gave a slow nod, "... Forever."

Abigail nodded slowly. "I will defer to you in these matters," she said softly. "I..." she paused, the single syllable lingering poignantly. "Please, Commander, see to the arrangements."

Once Ichiko returned from the announcement to the crew, she returned to Abigail's side. "Hush." she said, softly. Almost in itself in a hush. "I'll handle everything."