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Blunt Forces 2: Debrief

Kendra Eberhart

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Blunt Forces 2: Debrief

Cadet Ellen Cain found herself sitting in the crew lounge of the Tarisa's Jewel, her CO’s Argonaut Class Runabout. Perhaps it was a well known exaggeration to call it a crew lounge considering the size of the compartment but it provided enough space for Ellen to sit and think. In this case she was thinking about the contents of the padd she held in her hands. She needn't look at the contents of the padd again as she wrote and submitted the report it held mere hours beforehand. And yet it still weighed heavily on her mind.

Hearing footsteps Ellen didn't leap to her feet as she normally would because she was off-duty. What Ellen did do on the other hand was look up toward to source of the noise. Whether conscious of the decision or not, Ellen's left hand had also dropped toward her belt to her holstered type II phaser.

She didn't have time to draw the weapon, if that was her intention, as a young looking female human in a teal Star Fleet uniform stepped into the lounge compartment. Ellen didn't recognise the counselor but she saw that the counselor’s hands were raised above her head, clearly having seen what Ellen had been readying herself to do.

"Sorry," Ellen said. "I've been jumping at shadows ever since I got back from a training mission."

"It was a lot more then that if you’re CO's report is any indication." The woman replied as she gestured to a seat across from Ellen.

Ellen nodded as if to give permission for the woman to be there though Ellen had a feeling that it would make little difference. Anyway it would be good for her to talk to someone about what happened or perhaps how Ellen felt about it now.

"Did Commander Herodion send you here, Commander?" Ellen asked seeing Lieutenant Commander pips on the woman's collar.

"She mentioned that you might need to talk about what happened but I have been meaning to catch up with you for a while. And please, call me Maggie." Maggie told Ellen.

"For what reason, I wasn't aware of any scheduled counselling sessions?" Ellen asked as she got up and approached the food replicator. Once a soothing herbal tea was produced Ellen removed the beverage from the replicator's alcove and silently gestured to replicator as if to ask Maggie if she wanted anything. Maggie in response shook her head so Ellen returned to her seat with the cup in hand.

"That isn't really important right now." The older woman replied. "Perhaps you would like to tell me what happened to rattle you so much."

"It's all in my report." Ellen said plainly, not trying to be evasive. Once seated and having taken a sip of the tea she handed over the padd that she had been holding a moment before to Maggie.

Maggie switched the padd on and quickly scrolled through the contents.

"Ah yes, I just finished reading this a little while ago. Very thorough," Maggie said thoughtfully before continuing. "Although, it’s also very clinical. I would have expected this sort of outlook from a senior officer that is perhaps more jaded to these sorts of experiences, such as Commander Herodion but not you."

"Your implying that it lacked spirit, creativity or excitement and in truth, your right it did however that is how I have been taught to right reports." Ellen rebutted. "Anyway I don't feel or didn't feel in high spirits when I wrote that report compared to when I set out on the mission to begin with."

That most certainly was true Ellen Commented to herself. During the mission she had found herself feeling lost, confused and even out of her depth. Even though the mission was over, and had been for quite some time, she still found herself feeling as if she was still struggling to stay afloat emotionally speaking.

"There is no doubt that a lot happened and there is no shortages of instances in the reports I read that would cause most people to develop long term trauma or phobias." Maggie said with a genuinely sincere tone. It was a tone that Ellen associated more with that of a caring mother rather than a Star Fleet Counselor. "So I guess what I'm asking is, is there anything in particular your struggling with?"

"The initial attack and infiltrating the monastery were terrifying enough. I have even had a few nightmares since then about those drones." Ellen said truthfully. "In spite of being inches away from death more times than I could count not to mention coming face to face with monsters just as horrific as Borg drones, I understood the rules of that game. Proverbially speaking of course."

"Most wouldn't see it that way. I for instance can't even comprehend what those monsters you mentioned are, let alone think of facing them so calmly." Maggie commented.

"The monsters, for lack of a better name, are non-sentient cybernetically enhanced genetically engineered humanoid super soldiers. Since the individual drone wasn't sentient, the closest comparison is to an automated weapon system." Ellen explained. "And I was afraid. I ran out of words to describe just how afraid I was but compared to the mastermind of it all. I mean that once the shock factor wears off and adrenaline starts pumping, it becomes rather simple. The drones mindlessly try to kill us, and we fight to survive. In my case I didn't do all that well at that last part."

"According to the reports, you preformed better than a cadet with your level of combat training would be expected to." Maggie offered.

"You can understand that, that is of little comfort." Ellen told the counselor before taking another sip of the drink in order to avoid saying something worse.

Once Ellen had calmed down she put the half empty cup on the table in front of her. It was only as Ellen sat back in the seat that she spoke again in a softer tone then before.

"If it wasn't for Commander Herodion I know I wouldn't be here now." Ellen confessed.

"Team mates look after each other." Maggie said simply as if that explained it all.

"Maybe, it’s just that I'm not use to being so tragically out of my depth." Ellen said quietly giving a voice to something that had been gnawing at her for so long.

The older woman gave a kind smile as she soaked in Ellen's words however when she spoke next it wasn't what Ellen expected her to say.

"Tell me about this mastermind. When did you meet him and what happened between you?" Maggie asked curiously continuing the conversation.

Ellen didn't sit in silence long before answering but of what little time she took; she tried to think of a less clinical way to describe the events than that used in her report.

"I suppose it started the moment we beamed down to the research colony. I just didn't know it at the time." Ellen told her. "We went to the colony to deliver vital research material so on arrival Commander Herodion and I met with the chief of science who was a middle aged human male. I didn't give it much thought that the colony's administrator wasn't there."

Ellen paused remembering how Commander Herodion had Ellen take the lead throughout the entire mission, from gathering and loading the supplies, to dealing with the research colony personnel on approach to the planet and during the hand off. Ellen had been so proud of herself for performing so well though she made efforts not to seem to overconfident. The fact was that she loved every second of the job and it wasn't just because of the authority she had been given to do it, but then she had been thrown a curve ball.

"Just as I was wrapping up the hand off, the chief scientist asked if the Commander and I could help out with another situation they were having at one of their outposts." Ellen said retelling the story. "Apparently that region is known for having problems with large jungle predators. So after checking with the Commander we set off for the outpost to do some hunting. I didn't realise it at the time, of course, but that was the mastermind of the whole plot and I unwittingly allowed Commander Herodion and I to be used as pawns so that the scientist could play the heroic leader or whatever else to his employers."

Ellen sat in silence for a moment, retaking her tea which had cooled considerably by that point. Thankfully it was Maggie that broke the silence.

"So, soon after you arrived at the outpost the initial attack occurred leading you to realise that you were trapped there and the infiltration of the monastery was the best possible course of action. What happened next?" Maggie asked curiously even though she clearly knew the story already.

"Once the shield was down, we beamed up to the Tarisa's Jewel which was in orbit which made it the only real safe haven that we could think of. After beaming the surviving outpost personnel up as well, I tended to any injuries including my own while Commander Herodion tried to make contact with the main colony on the comms. Commander Herodion however couldn't raise the colony and noted that the area surrounding the colony was being jammed to prevent sensor scans. It was reasonable to assume that the colony was under attack so we proceeded on that premise." Ellen told Maggie. Maggie simply nodded for Ellen to continue.

"So Commander Herodion and I modified some extra weapons and gathered replacement energy cells for the weapons we already had in order to prepare us for any opposition. Once we were ready to fight a small army we beamed down to the colony." Ellen explained.

Ellen looked down at the tea cup before deciding against taking another sip and put it back on the table for the time being.

"The situation was urgent and I didn't need to be told the stakes so perhaps that was motivation to make sure I didn't slip up again." Ellen said critically of herself. "Hell, I still wasn't as good as the Commander or a security cadet but that time I knew what to expect and did my best to not let any of those things get the upper hand. After a fire fight Commander Herodion and I located the chief scientist, the colony staff or at least those that were alive at that point and six drones in what looked like a hostage situation."

"What gave it away that the chief scientist was responsible?" Maggie asked.

"Well the fact that he wasn't face down on the ground like any of the other hostages was a big hint as was him monitoring the computer terminal being used to control the drones." Ellen told Maggie with an edge of bitterness in her voice. "Because we didn't know how many drones remained in addition to the ones we saw Commander Herodion acted as a decoy while I circled around in order to stun the chief scientist and then deactivate the drones."

"A task that you had less trouble with, that time around." Maggie commented.

"Thankfully yes," Ellen agreed. "And with the scientist captured and the drones deactivated everything that followed was rather routine. Provide medical treatment as needed, help repair communications and finally take the scientist to the nearest starbase for further questioning and detainment."

While Ellen didn't say it she didn't go to any lengths to hide the fact that she would have preferred to see that man spaced than face a life in a federation prison colony. As hard as that life would be, it would never be hard enough. Just as Ellen would never truly forget the aftermath of the slaughter of the scientist’s co workers. The drones themselves might have been truly horrifying yet to see the carnage they perpetrated was bone chilling.

"I can tell that you feel that you’re to blame for what happened." Maggie said sounding much more like a counselor. "Not to mention that you feel betrayed."

"You're right on both counts just as I know that I am the last person in the galaxy that has the right to feel betrayed at the end of all this." Ellen said with a sigh.

As much as the rational part of Ellen's mind tried to reinforce the messages that Maggie was preaching the before mentioned doubt and uncertainty still lingered.

"Statistically speaking, in situations like the one you faced, star fleet or any other good Samaritan will always get played for the fool. You were trusting and helpful as any good member of star fleet would be when asked to render assistance. Those qualities are just too easy to take advantage of." Maggie told Ellen with a straight face. "It's also a dangerous and rarely successful gambit for the criminal in question, as you helped prove."

"I can't speak for Commander Herodion but I'd say I got lucky with the outcome as it was let alone to prove anything." Ellen rebutted.

"Perhaps but what is of more interest, to me, is that you survived an experience that everyone in Star Fleet goes through. A trial by fire as it were, though typically such defining moments happen once a cadet graduates." Maggie said with a conviction that seemed to surpass that of a mere counselor or her concerned motherly attitude. "I have seen many promising officers turn in their commissions, or let themselves fade into obscurity after their own moments. Neither of those prospects is anything to be ashamed of and yet your still here, in uniform no less. So perhaps instead of focussing on what you can't do, for all your talents, right this moment. Or how you got conned as any good officer would, ask yourself this; why are you still here?"

Ellen went to speak but ended up staying silent for the simple reason that she didn't have a straight forward answer in mind.

"You know," Maggie said as she got to her feet and straightened her uniform. "The thing about trials by fire or whatever you prefer to call them, is that just because you pass doesn't mean that no more challenges lay ahead nor does it mean that you will always pass. Rather they show us who we are and what we are capable of."

Ellen pondered that thought for a moment but when she was ready to reply she looked up to find that she was alone once again.

In the several hours that followed Ellen wandered through the Tarisa's Jewel pondering all that Maggie had suggested to Ellen. Ellen had even watched a number of technicians and operations personnel from the starbase come and go which was why Ellen decided to sit at the helm console as the [...]pit had received the least attention of those that come aboard.

The view from the helm position might have been great in space but it currently gave the worst view possible of several of the docked vessels in the space dock. But that mattered little to Ellen as she had felt a change occurring. As time went on the lingering doubts that had been plaguing her had began to fade giving way to career aspirations and the reason why she was still aboard the runabout instead of running her resignation or transfer papers to the personnel office on the starbase.

With a smile on her face, one which Ellen didn't realise that she was wearing, she turned to see Commander Herodion, two other cadets and a blue shirted officer board the runabout. Ellen immediately got to her feet but as normal Ellen didn't get a word in before Commander Herodion began speaking.

"As you were cadet. I hope you enjoyed your down time because you and your fellow cadets are about to earn every second of it." Herodion stated in her typical fashion pausing only slightly. "Unless you wanted to jump ship, while you have the chance. If you thought your last training mission was tough, this one will be even tougher."

Ellen had never been shy about telling people that she joined Star Fleet to be challenged and yet she hadn't truly appreciated what that meant until that moment. Maybe some part of her still harboured doubts about herself and her future but in that slither of a moment Ellen realised just how much she loved being a cadet in star fleet and how much more she would love being an officer. It was hard and the unexpected did happen at all the wrong times, but that was why she loved it.

Sitting at the helm console once more Ellen didn't care who noticed the ridiculously large smile on her face.

"I'm not going anywhere Commander because if last time was any indication, this will be a blast." Ellen replied not meaning to make the pun. "Your orders Sir?"

While Ellen might have added that last part with a straighter face because she knew that was what Commander Herodion expected from her while on duty, it was light years from how Ellen felt inside.


Ensign Clayas Vell


USS Victory

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After rereading my entry I noticed that one of the words toward the end of the entry has been censored out. Who would have thought that the proper word that is used to in place of a starship's bridge for shuttles or runabouts would be censored. I certainly wasn't, rudely or otherwise, referring to human anatomy or the like.

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