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A Cup of Joe

Posted on Fri Feb 10th, 2012 @ 1:45pm by Commander Michael Evans M.D. & Lieutenant Commander Joseph Thompson

Mission: Episode 2.3 - "Hippocratic Oath"
Location: The Orient Express Lounge
Timeline: Mission Day 3, 20:40hrs


[[USS Pandora, Orient Express Lounge, MD03, 20:40hrs]]

Joe leaned back in his chair and sipped from his drink as he enjoyed the view offered by the expansive windows. "It's strange to think we're actually heading into Romulan territory," he said to his companion. "I mean, I know you and the Pandora have been here before, but a few years ago this would have been more likely to be a covert mission."

Mike snorted at that remark. "Let's just say that nothing was as it seemed," he said. "And, uh," he sipped his coffee, then spoke into his mug a little more quietly, "there sort of was an attempt at a covert mission before all was said and done." He supposed he should be humbly guiltly about his medical foray, but in hind sight it was a little funny, and he couldn't quite suppress a smirk.

"Oh, really?" Joe said, glancing just in time to catch the smirk. "You never told me you were a spook." Truth be told, Joe had heard some rumors, but it was better to hear it first-hand.

"Oh, I was never a spook," Mike quickly countered. "Commander Earlond was our XO at the time. On our return from Romulan space he sent me with a team of myself and three others back in the Carnauba in an attempt to finish our research and, possibly, to help the colonists as a result. Our pretext was that we were on a medical relief mission. Which was silly," he grinned, "considering it was just me, our pilot and a couple of Sec/Tacs." He laughed. "We weren't too far into Romulan space when the next thing we know we're at warp speed back to Federation space with a warbird on our tail!" He chuckled again, this time a little flush coloring his cheeks. "Yeah, Iluvar wasn't too pleased about the whole thing. But Commander Earlond officered-up and took the rap." He shook his head seriously for a moment, then looked up as he seemed to remember Joe.

"And that," Mike said, taking another swig, "was my attempt at a covert mission."

"Not too bad, for your first try," Joe said, chuckling. "Though you should probably try getting to your destination next time." His smile faded slightly as he looked closely at Mike. "It's a shame Commander Earlond didn't stay; he would have been an interesting man to serve with."

Mike nodded. "He was," he said. Then, after a pause, "Most people weren't quite sure what to make of him, but I think he liked it that way. And yet, towards the end there, it almost seemed like he was starting to have second thoughts about that operandum." Mike looked up at Joe over his mug of joe. "What have you heard about Earlond," he asked.

Joe shrugged. "Just bits and pieces, really," he said. "Before I came to the Pandora, I'd heard vaguely about him; I think he did some presentations on the nature and importance of information in battle - something about how every bit of information has significance, but you won't see it until you have enough pieces of the puzzle. After I got here, I picked up a little from the crew, mostly the Sec/Tac department; a lot of them seemed to respect him - at least as far as security and tactical skills go - but Chief Felle in particular harbored great animosity towards the Commander."

Mike nodded. "Yeah, but I always thought he seemed kind of cranky anyways." He grinned over his cup.

Joe grinned back. "Maybe I should have him intern in the Sickbay," he said. "You could always use a friendly nurse, right?"

Mike snorted as he gave Joe a sardonic grin and a roll of the eyes. On the other hand Felle might get along with that gloomy med tech that was always glaring at Mike from a dark corner of the lab. He didn't understand why people chose to remain in situations in which they were so discontent. He sighed and took another sip.

"So, Joe," he said, changing the subject, "I never asked: do you have any family?"

As good as he was at hiding it, Joe couldn't quite keep the pain from visibly flicking across his face at the mention of his family. "I did," he said, after taking a moment to recompose himself.

"I'm sorry," Mike quickly hedged. "I didn't mean to bring up a painful subject..."

Joe shook his head. "It's okay," he said. "It's just...well, I had a wife and a daughter, but I lost them while I was serving on the Draco - and it was my fault." He grimaced.

Mike nodded neutrally.

Things happened in life; sometimes horrible things. Sometimes it was your fault. Some people were hard on themselves, and others refused to accept responsibility. Mike didn't judge, since he felt that it was their own path to take, but neither would he feed a sought-for emotional reaction.

Mostly, Mike felt that personal honesty and forgiveness and reconciliation could only come from within the individual, regardless of the efforts of others or councils sought and received. In other words, he believed that forgiveness and redemption must ultimately come from within. But he could, at least, be supportive.

"So, what happened?" he asked conversationally, but with sincerity.

"There was an attack while we were on routine patrol," Joe said, his eyes drifting over Mike's shoulder and unfocusing as he remembered. "The pirates came out of nowhere and knocked out our shields right away; they were boarding within minutes of their arrival. I don't know how they got past our tactical scans of the area - I wasn't on duty because I had traded a shift for some time with my wife - but by the time I got connected with the rest of the security teams the pirates were spread throughout the ship."

Joe grimaced as he refocused on Mike. "The Draco was a Galaxy class, which meant we were carrying a sizeable amount of civilian passengers. We had to split up our forces a lot to cover both the civilians and the critical areas of the ship; my superior, the CT/SO, fell defending Engineering where the brunt of the attack was, and I was left in command of our defense." Joe shook his head, remembering that shocking moment when he had gotten the news over his comm badge.

"Even though the CT/SO had fallen and we had lost some security personnel, though, we were well trained and managed to start pushing the pirates back. Unfortunately, we didn't notice that they had already begun taking prisoners as they fell back - possibly that was their plan all along. We managed to get them off the Draco, but most of our tactical systems had been knocked out during the initial fighting and we couldn't stop them as they escaped in their faster, barely-damaged ship. It was only after they were gone that we realized they had taken 43 civilians."

As Joe's gaze met Mike's, the doctor could see in Joe's eyes a brief glimpse of all the anguish Joe had felt over this last part: "My wife and daughter were among those missing. I lost my wife and daughter because I had neglected my duties for a few short hours with them." He sighed and glanced down.

Mike looked carefully at Joe. "How long ago?" he asked.

"Almost a year and a half now," Joe replied, swirling the remains of his drink as he stared down into the glass. "Sometimes it seems a lot longer, sometimes it seems like it was just yesterday. They said that the pirates never kept prisoners alive, but I refused to believe that my family was dead."

After a brief pause, Mike asked "Any word?"

Joe shook his head. "For a while, I managed to get a bit of an investigation started," he said. "But I had duties to attend to, and Starfleet doesn't exactly have the resources to keep searching for a couple civilians that are most likely dead." There was the slightest trace of bitterness to Joe's tone, but it was more directed at himself than Starfleet. He didn't blame them at all; there were more pressing matters for Starfleet to attend to rather than taking care of the results of Joe's failings.

"That sucks, Joe," Mike said quietly.

With a slow nod, Joe raised his glass and drained the last of its contents. "Thanks for listening," he told his friend. "As tough as I have to be to do my job, I don't pretend to be invincible." He offered a small smile. "No matter how hard we try to hide it, even Marines have feelings. It's nice to know someone's willing to listen."


A Joint Post by:

Commander Michael Evans, M.D.
First Officer
USS Pandora


Lt. Commander Joseph Thompson
Chief Security/Tactical Officer
USS Pandora


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