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Lieutenant Arlo Thornton - The War Within, The War Without Part I & Lieutenant Commander Arlo Thornton - The War Within, The War Without Part II


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I really loved reading this sim because of its self-reflective nature and its continuity with other events. Note that even the title was used as a clever device, as in Part II, Thornton got promoted!

Also bonus points for using the word "discotheque".

Really well crafted writing, Thornton! That promotion is well deserved!

----

OOC: Part I is attributed to 'Lieutenant Arlo Thornton' deliberately. Don't worry folks, I haven't made another booboo. Also, all thoughts and opinions are strictly in character!

((Mess Hall, USS Triumphant))

Time had lost all meaning to Arlo Thornton. It had been several days since she and her colleagues had been rescued from the surface of Trueno by the Triumphant. The tiny Defiant-class vessel was now speeding towards the Tyrellian system where they would rendezvous with the Gorkon. The trip marked the first time that the Australian scientist had been aboard such a compact vessel and privately she hoped it would also be her last. Cabin fever had quickly set in despite the hospitality of Captain Brunsig and his crew. Triumphant was not a ship built with comfort or amenities in mind, it's design purely functional save for the 2 multipurpose rooms that had been converted at some point into a holodeck (that always seemed to be booked out by the 50-something crewmembers).

To make matters worse, Arlo had kept to herself for much of the voyage to Palanon, the designated capital world of the Tyrellian system. Ensconced in the cabin assigned to her for the voyage she had only really left at mealtimes or for one half-hour jog around the Triumphant. The rest of the time she had been ruminating on her experiences and performance on Trueno and then writing, scrapping and rewriting her report multiple times. The process had made one thing crystal clear to her: when her back was against the wall and the chips had fallen unfavourably she was not at all graceful or calm.

On Væron she had responded to the difficulties events there (and to her role as away team leader) by channelling her frustration and terror at Lieutenant (J.G) Tali Namura, one of Gorkon's physicians. She had misattributed her rank, snapped at the ever so slightly disconcerting woman and quietly panicked at the first sign of danger. On Trueno, she had gone in with preconceived notions about the goal of the reserve and its chief scientist, Bertrand Hankins and lost her cool spectacularly several times with him. That had culminated in a spectacular evisceration just before the Triumphant had beamed them aboard.

It was this realisation that had sparked her hermetism. She had made a vow to herself after Væron to do better, to uphold herself to a higher standard. In her made, she had broken that promise. Stranger most of all was the fact that was not usually given over to self-recrimination and so her thoughts vacillated between her performance and questioning why she was suddenly so overcome with self doubt. Sleep had not proven to be an escape. Her dreams had been unsettling: sharp teeth had figured prominently as had imperious dressing downs from Admiral Reynolds who had then morphed into a leathery quad winged dinosaur. Somewhere during the voyage to Palanon, Arlo had realised that she had not just let herself down, but also Admiral Reynolds and Lieutenant Commander Marshall. Without realising it, she had become determined to impress both of them. She had also recognised that both women intimidated the heck out of her for reasons that she was still trying to understand.

When it was announced that there was to be a gathering in the Mess Hall for the Gorkon away teams, Arlo had hoped that attendance was optional. She knew it was not good to isolate herself from her friends and colleagues but she did not want to burden them with her darkened mood. Unfortunately, her presence was apparently mandatory and so she replicated a fresh uniform and made an attempt to look more presentable than she had since boarding the Triumphant. She had scooped her hair up into a loose bun, sat on the crown of her forehead and applied a light layer of foundation and once she had determined that she didn't look hideous, she stepped out and made her way to the Mess Hall.

She stepped through the opened door to find her friends and colleagues already in attendance. Figuring she had enough time, she made her way to the replicator, ordered her favourite blend of apple tea and took a vacant seat next to an impossibly chiselled Trill officer that she did not recognise. There was no time for even the briefest of introductions as Admiral Reynolds, terrifying genius that she was, called the gathering to order,

Reynolds: Thank you all for coming. ::She offered the small group a smile.:: I'll start with the best news of all; we're due to arrive in the Tyrellian system in the next twelve hours, and we'll be taking some shore leave to rest and recuperate. For those of you new to the system, I'd recommend you get off the Gorkon and get some fresh air. Palanon is beautiful and whether you like to keep busy or curl up and relax, you'll be able to find a place there to do it.

Arlo was one of those who fell under the heading of “new to the system”. She had heard all about the beauty of the Tyrellian's adopted homeworld and about the space station in orbit that seemed to little more than a constant discotheque but in the year since she had transferred to Gorkon, the ship had never visited the central star system of the sector. Recognising that she had been cooped up in her tiny cabin on the tiny starship, Arlo- against the better angels of her nature- recognised that she would definitely benefit from exploring Tyrellian culture. As her eyes fell on the ever-wigged Corliss, seated across the room, and she reminded herself that counselling might also be of benefit to her.

Marshall: And the other good news. There aren't any prehistoric life forms on the moon, so no armoured underwear required and no need to raid the armoury before you leave.

Perhaps it was too soon for jokes about what had recently occurred on Trueno, Arlo wasn't sure. But, she did manage a weak smile in response to the first officer's quip. Her blue-green eyes followed Marshall as she reached for several transparent boxes. She could just make out thin strips of royal purple fabric in each one.

Marshall: In recognition for the injuries sustained and wounds getting patched by the wonderful medical team of the Triumphant, Starfleet awards the Purple Heart to Crewman Lojah Oded for her actions on board the SS Vikartindur, Ensigns Serran Tan and Caitríona Cayne for multiple injuries on the asteroid. ::she glanced up to Tan with a cheeky glint,:: that must've been a pain the [...], ::and continued,:: Lieutenant Loxley for his injury in the vehicle crash, and Rear Admiral Quinn Reynolds, for a Tyrannosaurus Rex to the ribs. ::With a gentle sigh, she [...]ed an eyebrow.:: Who knew going down to a planet filled with prehistoric life would be so perilous?

 

So the man she was sitting next was Serren Tan. She turned to him to offer him congratulations when she realised that it would be out of line to champion an injury sustained in the line of duty. She offered him a small sympathetic smile instead after he caught the polymer box that Commander Marshall had sent flying through the air towards him.

Once all the Purple Hearts had been sent careening through the sterile Mess Hall air tinged with the scent of various beverages, the First Officer turned her attention to the stack of boxes once more.

Marshall: As Starfleet Officers, it's our duty to en and sure we protect and preserve life where we can, and when placed in dangerous circumstances is when we see our champions shine, whether that's saving and protecting employees of a theme park trying to kill you, or rescuing the crew of another ship from near-certain death. To celebrate the actions of these brave individuals, we award Crewman Lojah Oded, Ensigns Maya Eden, Lieutenants Loxley, Vorin, Corliss Fortune and Arlo Thornton, and Lieutenant Commanders Samira Neathler and Erin Reynolds with the Lifesaving Ribbon.

Arlo looked up at the mention of her name, stunned. Had she been a 'champion' on Trueno as Marshall seemed to have indicated? She seriously doubted it. Catching the aloft box in her left hand, she placed it in front of her and stared at the strip of silver and maroon fabric as though it didn't belong with her. Surely there had been some mistake? Yes, she had been part of the team that had encountered BetaGen employees but she herself had done little in the way of saving lives. She couldn't even get a clear shot at the quad-winged beast that menaced them in the parking lot.

She felt like a fraud.

It was not until the Admiral spoke that she was able to tear her eyes from the award.

Reynolds: While we strive to protect and preserve all life, there's a bond between those who serve that can't be denied. A fellowship between that goes beyond simple working colleagues, a mutual understanding of what it means to be Starfleet. For that reason, we single out those occasions where Starfleet officers save each other. And so, I'm honoured to present Lieutenant Pira sh'Qynallahr with the Silver Lifesaving Ribbon.

Marshall: The reason that many of us join Starfleet is the drive to devote ourselves to a greater cause, to something bigger than ourselves, and sometimes that means putting our lives on the line to protect others in their hour of need. Today, we stand in the company of heroes – those who put their lives at risk to ensure we continued on – and it's you we celebrated with this ribbon.

Once more, the air was thick with flying ribbons.

Marshall: Ensign Serren Tan used himself as a Trill shield to protect his team from the swarming Belluchelodromeus, taking venom to the backside in the process. Lieutenant Jona ch'Ranni thre himself in the path of a Krigos to save the life of his colleague. Lieutenant Commanders Ayiana Sevo and Pholin Duyzer shocked and distracted a rampaging Dilophosaurus in the control centre of the park. Lieutenant Commander Samira Neathler lured a razor-beaked flying dinosaur away from her team so her team could make their escape. And finally, ::she handed the ribbon to Quinn, with a small nod of appreciative thanks, one friend to another,:: Rear Admiral Quinn Reynolds, for presenting herself as a snack to a T-Rex so her team and her son could escape from our overturned vehicle.

Arlo joined in the round of applause that spread across the room while trying to ignore the feeling that Neathler would not have had to risk her life if she had only been able to acquire a clean shot. She had been tasked with leading their motley group to the safety of the parked automobiles- and in her mind, she had failed to do. Still, Arlo reminded herself, Neathler had returned to them intact and mostly uninjured. It was something to be thankful for.

Reynolds: It's said that desperate situations bring out ingenuity, and that was more than clear on Trueno and the SS Vikartindur. We have simulated dinosaur calls on a tricorder, at least two creative engineering solutions to lure species GS54 away from vital power supplies, and broken conduits used to chase off predators – quick wit and cleverness in action. For that, we're pleased to present Lieutenant Commanders Jo Marshall and Erin Reynolds, Lieutenant Arlo Thornton and Crewman Second Class Lojah Oded with the Innovation Ribbon.

Another ribbon- blue, teal and silver, encased in a polymer box came flying at it from across the room, this time from the Admiral. Arlo made momentary eye contact with the Admiral as she caught it, sending an unsettling jolt from her stomach to her brain. She nodded her quick thanks and then averted her eyes, putting the box on the table in front of her and next to the Innovation Ribbon. She drew in a breath and tried to calm the sudden swell of nerves. Her plan to use a modified power cell to create a backfeed that would lure GS54- whatever they were- from the power lines of the weather net had been hastily conceived and she had not been sure if it would work until the glowing blue-white motes and fled en masse. It had been a risk and it had paid off. This time.

TBC.....

-----

 ((Mess Hall, USS Triumphant))  

 

Marshall: When faced with arduous and demanding conditions on Trueno, each of you stepped up the task with bravery and courage the best of Starfleet can be proud of. Faced with clear and present danger, you all outdid yourselves, rising to the occasion, and demonstrating the pluck and fortitude usually only required to eat Ayiana's cooking. For this, Starfleet has seen fit to award everyone the Good Conduct Ribbon. Congratulations, everyone!

Sevo: OY!!

Wondering whether it was a colossal joke on the part of the CO and XO, Arlo accepted her thrown ribbon on instinct alone. She instantly felt that she did not deserve it, having spent much of their mission seething at Hankins or calling out his appalling attitude . She had let her own personal bias about the man's work cloud her judgement. Resolving to talk to the XO about whether she truly deserved it or not after the ceremony, Arlo put the box with the other two.

Reynolds: The backbone of any successful ship is a core of reliable and capable staff. Service in Starfleet can be... ::her lips twitched,:: an adventure written in hellos and goodbyes. As such, we recognise those people who lead their departments with a steady hand despite the continual change around them. Lieutenant Commander Samira Neathler and Lieutenant Corliss Fortune, we're proud to recognise your dedication and ability by presenting you with the Department Chief Ribbon.

The Admiral personally handed each woman their award rather than send it sailing through the air. Arlo found the gesture rather touching and she joined in the applause for the two capable department heads.

Reynolds: And speaking of department chiefs. I'm delighted to announce that Lieutenant Commander Pholin Duyzer will be taking on the role of Science Chief. Those of you who've already had the pleasure of serving with him know that Commander Duyzer is an incredibly talented officer with experience in leading science departments, and we're excited to welcome him to that role aboard the 
Gorkon.

In the midst of hearty applause- and whistled adulation from Marshall- Arlo sprang to her feet, her hands thundering together and with a grin as wide as any Denticulations. Her malaise forgotten for the moment, she revelled in her superior's promotion, knowing that from their encounters and having read his impressive service record, that this had been a long time coming and was more than deserved. The applause died down and Arlo took her seat, she reached for her apple tea as the Admiral spoke again.

Reynolds: The last presentation of the day goes to someone who's shown great courage and resourcefulness under great pressure, and gone from strength to strength in her service aboard the Gorkon. Lieutenant Arlo Thornton, I'm pleased to promote you to the rank of Lieutenant Commander, with all the associated duties, rights and responsibilities that came with it.

Blindsided by the unexpected promotion- and mid sip of tea- Arlo spluttered and almost choked as she looked at the Admiral with wide orbs of surprise. She barely managed to cover her mouth before spraying apple tea all over the table. Swallowing and trying not to cough, she looked addlepated at the Deltan hybrid who was leading the applause with a grin. The validation was a momentary salve against her burning self doubt and while she didn't know if she deserved the third gold and black pip, the Admiral evidently felt differently. Unsure of what to do, she nodded her appreciative thanks to the woman and tried to process what had just happened.

Marshall: Champagne time, sir?

Thornton: oO
 Damn right! Oo ::she mused, still trying to work out what had just happened.::

 

Reynolds: The very finest Defiant-class replicators have to offer. ::Amusement twinkled in her eyes, and she gestured toward a table where a selection of drinks – including Château Triumpant, 2397 vintage – were on offer. ::Enjoy a drink and share your congratulations while you can before we're stampeded by Beta Shift in search of lunch.

Marshall: And well done, everyone! May the next routine inspection go half as smoothly!

Arlo rose to her feet somewhat unsteadily as the assembled officers moved to the rear of the room to get their glass of champagne. She was somewhere between the table and getting a glass of champagne when a familiar face approached. Like Arlo, Ayiana sported an impressive head of red hair- hers a bolder shade that suited the Trill. The two had not seen each other in some time, although Arlo had been aware that Sevo had recently returned from leave and was now serving as the Gorkon's mission specialist. Arlo thought that red would suit the joined officer very well.

Sevo: Congrats, Lieutenant Commander.

Thornton: Thank you. ::she said with a smile that did not quite hide the tone of incredulity in her voice.:: I think. ::she found herself chuckling and remarkably, it felt genuine.::

Sevo: Enjoy that new pip. Eying three gold ones?

She had not even been eyeing the pip that she had just been awarded, let alone thinking about going for Commander. There was a lot of work to be done in bettering herself and letting go of her tendency to run her mouth, amongst other things, before she would even be ready to 
consider a future promotion. Plus, she needed to work out what it was that Admiral Reynolds recognised within her. The easy option was, of course, asking the half-Deltan outright, but she was much too terrified of her to do so and only slightly so when it came to Commander Marshall. Of course, that was too heavy an answer to give Sevo so she simply gave her a quick, wry grin and attempted to brush the question off with good humour.

Thornton: We'll have to wait and see.

The two women reached the champagne table and Arlo picked up a glass and poured in the fizz. She held the long, narrow glass delicately with her fingers wrapping around the stem. As she did Ayiana continued on.

Sevo: I was hoping to get a fellow scientist's opinion on the park. What are your thoughts of that place?

As the two stepped away from the table, she let out a confused sigh. She could not deny that the work carried out by BetaGen could go a long to answering some the mysteries about dinosaurs that had plagued palaeontologists across the galaxy for centuries- but it's potential had been quashed in the never-ending search for latinum and Doctor Hankins' own quest for recognition from his peers to fuel his egomania. Writing and rewriting her report, she had gone over this very question time and time again and was still not entirely sure that her final recommendation was the best solution. The most practical, maybe, but like everything else in the cosmos it was imperfect.

Thornton: I think, currently, the goal in 
theory is noble but the application of it? ::she considered her words.:: Let's just say I think it needs a lot of work.

Sevo: Response.

Thornton: I don't think the pursuit of scientific knowledge should not be constrained by budgets or cutting corners- and definitely not by a desire for validation or ego-boosting. ::beat.:: I think that there is definite potential for learning and for the evolution of palaeontology but everything from the top down needs to be reorganised and re-prioritised- and I am still dead against turning the reserve into some kind of spectacle or theme park.

Conservation was one thing but if that meant the exploitation of animal life for the entertainment of millions then it simply wasn't worth it, at least to Arlo. She was more than aware that other people disagreed with her and she did not begrudge them their opinions. She just wished that BetaGen and Hankins had not hidden behind a cloak of science to disguise their avarice.

Thornton: What about you? What do you think about it?

Sevo: Response.

Thornton listened with genuine interest as the Trill officer outlined her thoughts. From what she had gathered from Pholin several days ago – and from what could be inferred from Ayiana's new service ribbons- her experiences on Trueno had not been any easier than Arlo's. Apparently every away team had been put through the wringer by the security and power failures, the anxious and terrified creatures within Dinosauria and the deadly ion storm. She had heard whispers in the corridors of the 
Triumphant that everything had been the result of sabotage- something Arlo herself had begun to suspect when she had encountered Species GS54- by a wanted criminal mastermind. Perhaps one day she would get the full story, but something told Arlo that she probably did not want to hear it.

Thornton: I think I'll be glad to get back to the Gorkon and explore Palanon, more than anything. ::beat:: The more distance between me and those dinosaurs, the better. ::she took a sip from the champagne. For replicated fare, it was surprisingly tasty. She enjoyed and savoured the crisp tang before swallowing.:: I imagine that you'll be looking forward to seeing the Gorkon again? It's been a while for you, hasn't it?

Sevo: Response.

The unfolding conversation was just the remedy she needed after self-exile and days of assigning blame to herself. She liked Ayiana Sevo and her zest for life and had missed her when she had taken leave. It was good to be talking with her again.

Thornton: I haven't had the chance to visit Palanon yet, any tips for a xenologist like me?

Sevo: Response

 

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