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Major Tatash: "The Send Off"

Sal Taybrim

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((SB118 - Marine Flight Deck))

::Silence. Despite the several hundred Marines and other staff here to pay their respects, not a single one of them uttered a sound as the UFOP flag draped torpedo slowly made it's way down the runway, quietly tractored by invisible beams of energy.
A hundred arms raised in salute, turning towards the podium with a precise click of heels and the combined crash of a hundred boots before dropping it in a few seconds. 
What had surprised Tatash more than anything was the support and friendships Hughes had, as soon as news had spread a Vedek Larn from Bajor had insisted that he perform this service, a friend in a high place indeed although when pressed to answer 'Why?' all the Gorn had received was a smile and the comment of 'past aid and charity'.
If anything though it summed Hughes up perfectly. He was a mystery. His military record consisted of a handful of dates but no descriptions of operations, campaign ribbons and medals with only a sparse amount of information to back up why they were awarded. That's what had made him so good at his work, the anonymity of special operations. 
The elderly, dark skinned Bajoran carefully climbed the podium in front of Tatash, flanked by Raisillius and Dal in full dress uniform their stillness matching his own. Out of the corner of his eye he could see Tem's squadron quietly adrift in a loose V formation just beyond the barely noticeable force field beyond the large and open hanger doors, awaiting their charge.::
Larn: "Loss, is never something that we can call easy, it is a pain and a grief shared by all cultures, by all people in our shared and fragile existence. Today, we mourn the loss of a colleague to many, a friend to some and a brother to few.
Each and every one of us standing in this room understands the risks that comes with preserving peace in our time, each of us understands that their time will come in one form or another. The Prophets offer us guidance on our journey but never the destination.
The Prophets teach us that it is the roads that we take, the people who we impact and our action...or inaction that will ultimately judge us as having lived a good life, or an evil one, it is our actions and our method that dictate how we are seen by the our peers.
Raymond Hughes, in my eyes, was a good man. Never unjustified, never vilified. When my world suffered at the hands of the Cardassians, I remember meeting him for the first time. We gave him shelter when the Cardassian patrols came looking for the 'Spy' that they could never quite trace, hiding him among the clergy despite the risk to ourselves.
In return, he gave us the information he had discovered despite a strict order to not get involved, putting himself at risk not only from our shared enemy but also his own career. This selfless action, allowed us to practice our faith without fear as we knew where to go to avoid attention and persecution, he allowed us to seek out the Prophets guidance even when all other light was extinguished.
Now, as he guided us to the Prophets, we guide his Pagh back to them in turn, to be united in the Celestial Temple."
::Tatash watched with curiosity as the priest carefully lit two large lamps with a tapered flame, ornate golden constructs gently refracting and flickering.::
Larn: "Ordinarily, at this point we would sing Hughes to rest with a funary chant, although, at two hours long we might make that a voluntary process later."
::A few subdued chuckles came up from the gathering, Larn himself smiling serenely before gesturing back towards Tatash::
Larn: "Major Tatash, your words here carry as much weight as mine, please..."
::That same smile fixed on him as the old clergyman stepped down, gesturing up to the wooden plinth while being aided down by Dal in a few careful steps. His mouth suddenly dry, Tatash stood up and climbed up to overlook the masses, trying to spot a few familiar faces to steady his nerves before clearing his throat with a rumbling cough::
Tatash: "These last few weeks have been trying for all of us. From the all out madness on Tilanna, the plague of weaponised Tribbles and now this. Captain Hughes's passing has been an exclamation point to an awful period, and all of us can honestly say we have suffered losses unprecedented.
Nine of your brothers and sisters lost their lives on Tilanna, each one of their names has been etched into my memory as I poured over each and every one, could we have avoided them? Could I have done something different as your Commander to protect them? Could I have prevented this?
The answer is simply, I could not. Be it universal cruelty, chance or the will of ::he gestured to Larn:: higher powers, we all have to face the truth that is our mortality. We cannot prepare for all eventualities, there will always be hard times and dangerous times. But there have to be, if we are to protect and serve the billions of people that depend on us for their peace, protection and freedom.
Some of you may look on me and see nothing more then a Gorn. A race known for their hardyness, their unwavering ferocity and strength. But what most outside our borders do not see is how dedicated we are to family. Duty and honor are sought and protected not to benefit the single individual, but to benefit the collective whole of a family or a house.
Each and every one of you, is my family. Everything I do is done to benefit us as a collective, even if we have to give up so much in the line of duty. I lead from the front line, not because I seek glory, but because if any of you have to risk your life then I will share that burden with you. Do I wish it had been me that had taken the shot that downed Hughes? A hundred times, a thousand times over. 
He was a man that thought the same as I do. He risked himself on a daily basis to protect our assets, to gather information that meant we never -had- to fight. He saved more lives through careful action then we ever could through reckless assaults. His quiet words could even any temper, while his fury was capable of toppling governments. 
He was an Officer and a Leader that each of us, myself included, should aspire to be. To those that knew him as a mentor, you had a chance to serve under one of the finest commando's I have ever seen, to those that knew him as a friend, he never once betrayed trust. To me, he was an adviser whose experience and wisdom... will be sorely missed.
Regiment, right-face!"
::Tatash turned sharply towards the Captains final vessel, the bugler, playing his mournful dirge as the coffin slid slowly down the runway, overwritten only briefly by the rippling sound of gunfire echoing around the cavernous bay as a row of Charlie Companies soldiers let out three volleys in salute.
He led the salute, waiting until the Raptors had firmly grasped Hughes in their tow before slowly moving away towards the nearest star in close formation. They would ensure to give the momentum to get there, to burn up and join the matter they were all made from. All civilian traffic was instructed to stay clear, a few shuttles and freighters seemingly stopped to watch in quiet observation.
Tatash dropped his salute, mirrored by the others before turning back to face them::
Tatash: "Regiment, dismissed!"
::Finally the silence, the oppressive and gloomy sorrow was broken up as people started to converse and head off to where they needed to be. Most stood around in small groups, continuing their conversations on what had happened. The Regiment would not be productive today, but these circumstances were exceptional, a single day of laxity was needed and readily forgiven::
Tatash: "Thank you, Vedek"
::Tatash shook the frail hand of the man who offered a nod in return::
Larn: "The Prophets wisdom can be sought by anyone, regardless of race or heritage. Seek them, Major, in your most trying times. They will answer as they have done for countless others."
::Tatash let that handshake drop before smiling thinly. Faith was something that Tatash never had understood or found himself, it was almost disappointing in a way.::

Major. Tatash

Marine Lead

SB118 Operations


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