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Ben Edwards

The Avandar Crew (And Guests) - Playing for Keeps

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((USS Avandar, Holodeck))

:: The turnout was beyond even Tan’s best guess. Beyond even the crew

of the Avandar, with the attendees who were linked in via subspace.::

:: It seemed that either Blackwood had more friends than she knew, or

the crew had arrived in force to see a fellow Starfleet officer to her

final resting place. It was a heartening sight. ::

:: Standing room only was the order of the day, crowded and

uncomfortable, as Tan took the podium. During the crew’s stay on Eden

he had become the unofficial funeral director, a position it seemed he

had -- regretfully -- kept in reality. ::

::Jack walked in with his head down. He felt oddly uncomfortable. He

and Evanna had shared....what exactly, Jack was unsure. A moment of

mutual comfort? A night of much needed release and passion definitely.

And now he was here to see her laid to rest. It seemed so unfair. His

thoughts were filled with things that could have been. Where were they

headed after that night? He would surely never know now.::

:: Kagran watched as Tan got onto the podium. He was stood next to

Eerie who had seemed very down since the away team had returned with

Blackwood’s body. ::

Kagran: :: Talking quietly. :: You ok there?

Eerie: :Somewhat lost in thought:: Of course, Kagran. ::It was a

small gesture, but Eerie felt at ease with the Klingon, but the use of

the first name without the rank was a status that he did not convey on

many.::

::Watching from sickbay on his padd, tr’Khellian lay on the bed with a

completely unreadable neutral expression on his face.::

::Jen Malcolm sat amongst the crowd, flanked on one side by

Christopher Davies, who had been quiet since they’d met to walk down

together. Ashley sat on her lap, Jen’s arms wrapped a bit too tightly

around her::

::Mancuso found a place to sit. For Jack it was better to keep his

distance from the rest of the crew. Nobody knew about him and Evanna,

at least that he knew of. And it had only been once, but it had left

an impression on him. And she had been a friend. His emotions were in

a state of turmoil.::

::Elya Tali, aboard the USS Apollo far away, watched by hologram in

the dark of her quarters, often staring out the window at the stars

streaking by trying to make sense of the sudden news.::

:: The murmur of voice quietened. Tan touched his pad, resting it

against the wood of the podium. ::

Tan: Thank you all for coming. I wanted to thank those of you who are

not crew of the Avandar, those of you who are not Starfleet, and those

who have travelled a vast distance to attend this ceremony.

oO(Kagran) This should never of happened. Oo

oO(tr’Khellian in Sick Bay) It happened under my watch. My watch, my

fault, my shame. Oo

Tan :: He glanced down at his PADD, reading slowly. ::

Tan: … your presence is especially surprising to me because it seemed

as though Blackwood did not have many friends.

:: A murmur. ::

Tan: This was not a judgement on her, however. Life is not a

popularity contest, and irrespective of if we all liked Lieutenant

Blackwood or not... we respected her. The turnout shows this. We

respected her brilliance, her quiet strength... her tolerance for

scotch.

:: A few chuckles, but this was a sombre occasion. ::

Tan: On Eden, we... the Avandar crew... had many funerals and said

many words. But somehow, in the back of our minds, something was

always telling us that those times were an illusion. That the dead had

not truly left us and their absence was merely a temporary thing, that

we were only asleep and dreaming.

:: He paused, glancing down to the photon torpedo tube that contained

Blackwood’s body. ::

Tan: How I wished I felt that feeling now. This time, however, I know

we’re playing for keeps.

:: Another pause, then Tan turned back to the crowd. ::

Tan: Eerie, if you would, please.

:: The Trill relinquished the podium. ::

oO(Eerie) Great....first one up.......Evanna why......? Oo

::Eerie did not like public speaking. That much was a given. But

since his elevation in rank he knew there was a lot of public events

that he would would at least have to make a showing. But this was

something that he knew he wanted to be at. He walked up to the podium

and stood in front of it. If he was going to do this he wasn’t going

to hide behind it. He kept his look on the gathered crewmates, not

wishing to look on the casket. He kept his tone level and

professional.::

Eerie: I first met the Lieutenant ….I mean... Evanna on the Aurora.

We were roommates for almost a year...::pause:: It was a difficult

process. I was first put off by her....but I grew to like her, and she

was my friend. I am proud to say that. We shared a lot, and for that

will be eternally grateful. But I am not ready to let her go. To me

she will always be with us... As long as we remember her......She may

have died...but she still lives within us....::For a lack of anything

else to say. He raised his right and gave her a salute. Holding it

for a moment. He let his arm drop his let his eyes drop on the casket

for an instant and then in strict military precision worked his way

back to the back of the room.::

tr’Khellian ::From over the intercom:: =/\= I would like to go next.

If I may.=/\=

tr’Khellian: =/\=Lieutenant Blackwood.....Evanna.... was a...troubled

soul. =/\=

tr’Khellian: =/\=Torn. Divided. At war with herself and the world

around her. Trying always to do the right thing as she saw it while

at the same time trying to see it as others did. I understood her. =/

\=

tr’Khellian: =/\=Evanna...you restored my...faith...in those around me

after Eden. Thank you.=/\=

tr’Khellian: =/\= Rest well Evanna. I will miss your

kindness :::voice becoming huskier:: and your gentle spirit.=/\=

:: While the people listened to tr’Khellian, Kagran moved over next to

the Marine Guard of honor, which he had set up, led by his number 2

Beornan. ::

:: The Caitian helm officer had remained fairly silent throughout the

beginning of the ceremony, ears flattened and paws folded in front of

himself. The news had struck him hard, and at first he had trouble

figuring out what he was going to say. As the previous speaker

finished, S’Acul slowly padded forward towards the podium and paused

for a moment next to the tube that was her casket, resting his paw

atop the cool surface for a moment before turning to look out over the

crowd.::

::The corner of his mouth tilted upward in a sad smile - Tan had said

it perfectly that Blackwood seemed like she hadn’t had many friends,

but the guest list proved otherwise. Golden-flecked eyes scanned the

faces before him, many of whom he recognized from the Avandar, many

who he had never met before. His tail flicked once behind him as he

looked down to the podium’s surface, his speech blinking on the PADD

that lay there. He felt a lump in his throat.::

S’Acul: Evanna was... something else. I think everyone has their own

story that can attest to that. She was brash, eager, sometimes

overconfident, and yet other times she was absolutely unsure of

herself. I don’t think many people were able to get close enough to

see her soft side - she did seem to have her shields up most of the

time. I barely got to see it myself, so I count myself lucky.

::The Caitian’s ears raised slowly as he shifted his gaze to look at

the oversized headshot of Evanna, leaning forward a bit more on the

podium with a sigh.::

S’Acul: She was a special kind of Starfleet officer. She held herself

to a higher standard and pushed herself to be better at her job. I

think that, in her mind, she felt she was expected to do so by her

senior officers, so I don’t think she would ever admit that she was

doing it to herself. I know she was stressed at times, and even felt

trapped in her position... but whatever the case, she was amazing at

her job. ::pausing:: I know I’m going on a little bit longer than I

probably should, and I apologize for that because I’m sure some other

people want to speak as well, so I’ll wrap this up quickly: if I could

go back and tell Evanna one last thing before she died, it would be

that she will be missed. Working on the Bridge will not be the same

without her, and I for one will be aware that she is gone. No one will

ever do the job quite like she did. Thank you.

::As S’Acul stepped down from the podium, he paused once more next to

her casket and leaned down, whispering a few silent words before

crossing towards the group of men that had already spoken. Extending

his paw, he shook each of their hands and followed with a hug before

falling into line between Alleran and Eerie, paws once again folding

sombrely in front of him.::

:: T’Lea stood beside the Captain, statuesque and emotionless – the

quintessential Vulcan. She had nothing to say, nothing that would do

Evanna justice with her plain, impassive words, so she let the others

speak for her, and there were plenty willing to do so.::

:: Penny York had been at the front of the crowd quietly sobbing the

entire time. She’d been a complete emotional mess since hearing of

Evanna’s death. The entire journey back to Federation space, she’d

locked herself in her quarters and cried into the care bear Evanna had

given her as a Christmas present. That carebear had absorbed so many

tears that it’s fluffy filling would probably turn into a lump of salt

once, *if*, it ever dried out.::

:: In motion now, Penny gingerly made her way up to the podium, and

dabbed at her Rudolph red nose with a tissue. She loathed public

speaking, but for Evanna, she wanted to say something.::

York: I have a best friend. My very first BFF. That was Evanna. We

were besties, and we have the matching charm necklaces to prove it.

:: She pulled out the little half-heart pendant, secure in the fact

that Evanna still wore the other part. She couldn’t bring herself to

look at the casket though, if she did she’d break down in a wailing

heap in front of everybody.::

York: ::holding it together:: Nobody can ever take that away from us,

nobody can take away the memories we have -- like the fun holodeck

program of Pippi, girl’s night out at the Comet Club, gossiping about

cute guys, shopping sprees, and then stealing each other’s new

clothes. She was more than my crewmate, more than my Chief, she

was… ::quiet sob:: … Sorry. ::deep breath:: Evanna was like the

sister I never had, and I won’t forget you. Ever.

:: Tears welling up in her eyes she dashed from the podium and back

into the comfort of the crowd.::

:: Elya nodded to herself and turned to introspection - she didn’t

feel like she had the eloquent words of some in that room to share,

and couldn’t call herself truly Evanna’s friend. Evanna had always

been striking, but distant. Still, some here had seemed to truly be

her friend... even Eerie! Killed in action at 27... Elya’s thoughts

kept returning to that number -- her own age as well -- and kept quiet

looking back out the window. ::

::Robins listened quietly as Blackwood's crewmates spoke their final

words to her. The ceremony was heartbreaking, but at least it brought

everyone together, to share their memories and to support one

another.::

::With the podium relinquished, Robins walked over to fill the

space.::

Robins: I know that I haven't known Lt Blackwood...Evanna...as long as

many of you here today, but...I feel that as I look around today, and

see the array of faces, I see Evanna. For, as has already been said,

although she was at war with herself, never fully content with

herself, she was dedicated to both her work, and the people around

her. You people. I never knew her, but if I could get to know even

some of you, I would see her. In your actions. In your words. In your

dedication. Evanna's body has died, but that spirit of dedication

lives on in each of you. And I think it would be the greatest honour

to her if we try to keep that spirit alive.

::Robins gave a curt nod in thanks and turned to the torpedo casing

that held Evanna's body. She bowed her head briefly in respect and

returned to the throng below.::

::DeBarres looked on from the back of the large room. Normally she

never worn her uniform off duty, but she was in her dress uniform for

this occasion. She could tell that a lot of people would be missing

her for a long time. She could see it in Eerie’s small eyes and she

could see Penny was hurting too. She had never spend any real time

with Evanna and really didn’t know her . But Charlotte knew that if

two of her friends were hurting, and if she was good in their books

then Evanna must of been pretty special.::

::He sat still in his chair and swallowed down the lump that was

building in his throat. Jack could think of nothing to say. Nothing

that hadn’t already been said. And whatever there was that needed to

have been said between he and Evanna would simply rest quietly in his

mind for the rest of his days. He looked down, trying hard to push the

pain down deep inside him. :::

::Jen took her turn at the podium, swallowing down a flutter of

nervousness as she looked out at the assembled crowd. She’d had her

private words with Evanna when her body had rested in the morgue.

She’d said her goodbyes, but it didn’t make it any easier staring at

the torpedo tube. Jen was one of the few people in the room that knew

that inside the tube Evanna’s body was encased in a biohazard suit -

and she almost chuckled at how fitting it seemed for science officer::

::She cleared her throat, stifling what was an odd amalgamation of a

laugh and a sniffle, and wiped an errant tear from her eye.::

Malcolm: I was one of the few that was proud to call Evanna my friend.

Those of you who knew her, knew she was a bit reckless. In fact, the

first time I met her, it was to mend her broken nose. On the Aurora,

we named one of the biobeds after her.

::The soft sound of gentle laughter floated across the room, bringing

a sad smile to Jen’s face::

Malcolm: But, as I got to know Evanna better, I realized, it wasn’t

recklessness...it was bravery. Evanna was someone you could count

on. Someone you could turn to and know she had your back. And you

didn’t have to ask her. She was just there, ready to help, even if it

meant putting her own life in danger.

::She took a steadying breath::

Malcolm: We lost Evanna too soon...and we’re left wondering what her

courageous, inquisitive and brilliant mind might have accomplished.

She will be missed, and by no means forgotten. As we say goodbye, and

continue our quest for knowledge, remembering her will hopefully give

us the bravery we need to continue on.

::She thought she’d spent all of her tears, but as she walked from the

podium, she found herself wiping a steady flow from her cheeks. She

joined the line of officers standing off to the side, silently taking

a place beside S’acul. She didn’t have the strength to offer

handshakes or hugs as the Caitian had.::

::S’Acul offered Jen a weak smile as she came to stand next to him,

and he swallowed at the lump in his throat. His paw reached out to

gently take hold of her hand and gave it a soft squeeze.::

((Holodeck One-Deck Four-USS Mercury))

::Alexander walked into the holodeck in his dress white uniform, with

a picture and the black box in his hands. His heart heavy as he

programmed the holodeck to connect to the service for Evanna

Blackwood. He closed his eyes as the atmosphere of the room changed to

where the service was being held. He opened them to see the crew of

the Avandar, he stood at attention and walked towards the torpedo

casing that held her body. He walked over to it and looked down, he

bent down on one knee and placed the picture of his mother and father

near the casing next to the flowers. He opened the black case that

held the medal of bravery awarded to him for the Battle Of Camis IV.

With tears in his eyes he placed the case on the torpedo, and stepped

back with a smart salute. He thought to himself how much he felt for

her and how he would have given his life to protect her. He brought

his hand down, turned and walked to the podium and stepped behind

it.::

Matthews: I’m sorry that I could not be there for you Red. ::He looked

out to the crew and nodded to them.:: There were four people in the

universe that know my secret, now there are only three. I kept it

hidden from all of you, except Eerie. Evanna was a little sad one day,

and she needed a laugh. I did something that brought a smile to her

face...., but I had no idea someone else saw it. Then there is another

thing that I did not say. She will hear it even though I will never

hear it back. ::Looking to the torpedo casing.:: I Love You Red.

::Alexander stepped away and walked to Captain Vetri, and Lt.

Commander T’Lea, and saluted. He nodded to Eerie, Jen, S’Acul and the

rest of the crew.::

:: Arden had been completely devastated upon hearing the news of

Evanna’s death. More than anything he didn’t want to believe if only

for selfish reason. Evanna had been a truly unique person on top of

that and more importantly she had been Arden’s friend. One of the few

people he actually connected with on that level. By the time he

arrived at the holodeck for the service Arden had barely gotten over

the shock of the situation. Standing near Lt. Commander Matthews, a

fellow officer from the Mercury in his white dress uniform, Arden

stood in near silence as the other officer of the Avandar spoke in

turn. After Lt. Commander Matthews spoke Arden bravely stepped up to

the podium.::

Cain: During my Star Fleet career I have seen my share of loss but I

can honestly say that nothing that has happened to date compares to

the moment I heard of Evanna’s.... Like most here I have the honor of

saying that Evanna was a friend to me. Those that know me will tell

you that I don’t make that statement often.... Although I knew Evanna

before we entered the Academy the moments I will hold onto, were the

times I helped Evanna with her physics homework. In exchange she even

managed to get me out of my room to have what she called fun. I will

always be thankful for that because it made me a better person.

::Stepping down from the podium Arden turned respectfully to the

Torpedo casing that held his dear friend's remains. Staring at it

Arden said his final goodbyes to Evanna in silent before returning to

his seat. As he did so Arden dabbed tears from his eyes.

((USS Avandar, Holodeck))

:: Throughout it all, Della had kept her silence, letting the others

pay their tributes to their fallen comrade - and friend. In time,

though, it was her turn, and it wasn't just duty that called her to

step forward.::

:: Instead of moving to the podium as most were no doubt expecting,

she took up position beside Blackwood's casket and looked around the

gathering.::

Vetri: Is there anything more I really need to say? After all, it's

one thing for me to speak about her, but you, all of you, her friends

and colleagues, have already paid her more tribute by your presence

and words than anything I could do.

:: Retrieving her hand from where it had come to rest on top of the

torpdeo, she clenched it white-knuckle tight as she carried on

speaking.::

Vetri: One thing, I think, we can all agree on is that Evanna was

cheated of a lot. A long life, the possibilities that future may have

brought her... But there is one thing I will *not* let her be cheated

of.

:: Straightening to attention.::

Vetri: Attention to orders! Lieutenant Evanna Blackwood, having

demonstrated true professionalism and courage, and by virtue of her

exemplary dedication to duty, and her service to both this vessel and

the Federation as a whole, is hereby promoted to the rank of

Lieutenant Commander.

:: Dipping into her pocket, she pulled the small box that lay there

out. Carefully, she raised the lid to reveal the rank pips inside and

pressed it down on the casket's casing, the bonding layer on the base,

triggered by the lifting of the lid, attaching it firmly to the black

composite.::

Vetri: ::softly:: Late, I know, but you still earned it, Evanna.

:: Stepping back, she regarded the casket in solemn silence for

several long moments.::

Vetri: We all came from the stars in the beginning, and we all return

to them in the end. Whether an afterlife claims you or not, wherever

your spirit roams, know that you'll always be here with us as well.

Let us know what's out there, Evanna.

:: Turning her head slightly to catch Tan's eye, she gave a tiny nod.

Within moments, the blue shimmer of a transporter beam enveloped the

casket and whisked it away. Behind her, Kagran tapped his commbadge

twice, a little signal for the extra little send-off he had arranged

to take place.::

((Holodeck One-Deck Four-USS Mercury))

:: Once the ceremony came to a close Matthews spoke out once more, his

voice seemed to fill the room with his simple command.::

Matthews: Computer end program.

::The room returned to the colors yellow and black, as Alexander

walked out of the room to his quarters on the Mercury to talk with his

parents.::

::Without speaking to Matthews, Arden similarly departed the holodeck

to no place in particular.::

((Open Space, Near the USS Avandar))

:: The Waverider and Argo, both holding position near the Avandar,

were both briefly lit by the light of Blackwood's casket appearing

between them. Locking tractor beams on it, they engaged their

thrusters, keeping perfect formation as they stared heading for the

local sun.::

:: After a minute or so, they had reached the speed they wanted and

the tractor beams released, letting the casket engage it's own little

thruster and carry on under it's own power. Pulling away, they put a

little more distance between themselves and the torpedo before the

pair of them fired off their phasers, a trio of short bursts searing

the void as a final salute to their fallen comrade.::

::FIN::

-----

The Crew

USS Avandar

&

Lt Elya Tali

Chief Engineer

USS Apollo

&

Lt. Cmdr. Alexander James Matthews

Chief Of Operations

USS Mercury- NCC-99812

&

Lt. Commander Arden Cain

First Officer

USS Mercury, NCC-99812

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Utterly speechless. It made me cry.

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Me too, but shh, ;P

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Farewell, Evanna. =( (Not Aims, just Evanna =P )

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What an awesome send off.

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