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Lt. Cmdr. Kirsty Carpenter - More Than You Know


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This brought tears to my eyes. @Kirsty L. Carpenter is an amazing writer.

Quote

((Chief of Sec/Tac Officer's Office, Deck 11, U.S.S. Ronin.))

Carpenter: No, I mean, physically fought. I knocked out a Martian SWAT Captain once. When I say I "clash" with Command, usually it's pretty literal. Cap Niac and XO Raga are about the only ones I've ever had that I didn't wanna throttle...::she gives a self-aware smirk:: At least not YET anyway.

To her credit, Ensign Valiani sat and listened to a candor and respect that most people never really got near when she had told this story. Most of the time it was "What did you do?" and "What was your punishment like?" and maybe in another life she would have said "You're looking at it.". 

But this was about far, far more than just herself. Kirsty still wasn't entirely sure that she had the emotional intelligence to really handle this as well as it could be. Still, something inside her told her that this was something she needed to do. Something that could hopefully make the ship and her crew all the stronger in the outset. 

Sometimes...people just need to know that you are behind them. It had done her own life and career worlds of difference before she had joined Zero Company. But could she provide that same steadiness and faith in Ensign Vailani? Only time and the tides could know.

She smiled carefully over the lip of her glass.

Vailani: If you do, I'd like front row seats. Or we can team up :: devious :: I'm sure we can take Niac and Raga, hands down :: sighs :: I have to be frank, I'm not really sure why we're having this conversation? 

oO She's right...time to stop faffin' about. Oo

She set her glass carefully aside, leaning forward to emphasize the point she was about to make. It only occurred to her later that she was mimicking Cap Faraday's tried and true "come to Marine Jesus" stance. Hey, if it worked it worked... 

Carpenter: I'm tellin' you this because...I know what it's like to be labeled "the troublemaker". And I know how that label can weigh you down and make you doubt yourself. I know you have stuff happening off-duty. I know that you haven't had the smoothest time here. But I also know that you saved those pilots. You held your post when other people would have ran. That MEANS something. We see that. We see YOU. And we are a better crew with you here. 

Silence settled throughout the Office, the only ambient sound being the comfortable and constant humming of the ship's engines and always-running EPS Grid. But Kirsty could very clearly see the color quickly draining from the Ensign's face while a rising bile of panic started to bubble in Kirsty's chest. Had she played this wrong? Was it something she said? WAS her comment about Sickbay more prophetic than she realized?

She leaned back slightly in her chair, ready and waiting for anything, but keeping her focus firmly locked on the Ensign. A storm of thoughts and emotions Kirsty could never hope to understand passed across her expressive, youthful face. Kirsty sat bone-still and slightly stupid looking. She had stepped in it before and would likely step in it again, probably this very week, in fact, but this felt...too pointed to be just anything. This wasn't just a misspeak. This was...something else entirely. Something she never could have anticipated. 

She wanted to reach out, to give some sort of compassionate words of reconciliation...but she was very much out to sea here. She could only wait and hold her dumbfounded and suddenly leaden tongue while the Ensign finally seemed to refind her voice, pushing forth a meek, almost hollowed sounding version of the voice she was using at the start of their "meeting".

Vailani: I don't … it's … I'm not used to this. 

Abruptly, she stood. Kirsty was on her feet as well, half a second after her. A physical and almost involuntary product of her training. If someone else in the room stood when she was sitting, she stood up. It was more than polite. It was rote muscle memory at this point. But as she started to try and reassure, Vailani's hand or arm, Kirsty couldn't tell, caught the side of her glass. Spilling the remaining fingers of the mystery alcohol into the carpeting below them.

They caught eyes once more, Kirsty's trying like hell to project a sort of warmly placating expression. She was a Marine. It wasn't as if she hadn't seen a mess before. This didn't even really register in the scheme of things, but it was more about Vailani's...sudden skittishness, her open alarm and obvious discomfort. Kirsty hated herself for kicking this up. Serves her right for trying to be a "cool" Chief and making the mistake of trying to connect with her crew without the appropriate social and interpersonal tools to do so. 

But as Vailani started to speak once more, it was as if she was bringing out Kirsty's own thoughts, from decades before into now, into reality.  

Vailani: You can't just say these things. You don't know me. What I am, or what I'm about. I work hard. I don't need you or anyone else to talk to me like I'm such a child who needs a pat in the back because she's had a tough week. I'm not a weak person. I'm a Vailani, made of the same stuff as my father and I'll prove to you and everyone else on this busted, relic of a ship that I am the best there is. No doubts. 

Before she could speak her own...familiarity with this sort of thing...a damn burst in Ensign Vailani. Yet another turn to this "meeting" that she hadn't expected in the least. And yet another one she hadn't the slightest idea how to deal with. But she could empathize. The pressures of expectation, the reality of the work in high pressure situations... It was a lot even for experienced, tested officers. 

But before she could explore exactly WHY she actually felt this attuned to the young Ensign, she crumpled into the deck plating, hands clamped across her pate as tears streamed openly now. Kirsty sprang up and around the desk, crouching slightly and wanting so badly to give some sort of comfort. But having no real understanding as to how, her hands felt like ancient toasters, her face felt screwed up in an approximation of caring. She admonished herself for being the way she was, but she didn't run away. She would never. Someone was hurting in front of her and she would have to be literally killed (or someone was in immediate danger) to tear her away. 

She figured she should say something...ANYthing...

Carpenter: Hey, c'mon now...can I-?

Vailani: No… :: sobs :: I'm not weak. 

Kirsty's face suddenly tightened, but in a warm, slightly cat-like way. As if her entire face had reacted poorly to the very concept.

Carpenter: No. You aren't. And I know a bunch of pilots who are breathin' right now who would agree with us. But, this...? You can tell me, Vailani. Nothin' you say here leaves here. I give you my word. 

More disquiet silence passed between them. Kirsty let it. She could take all the time she needed, Kirsty would stand sentinel all the same. It was, quite literally, the least she could do. But once more she wished she could make explicit the similarities between the two officers. Kirsty too had to take things in her own time. Always had and likely always would. Nobody was going to make her talk about something before she was ready to. And plenty of professionals, superiors, and even her Ma had tried. 

But before long her patience and silence were rewarded with the wet-eyed gaze of the young Ensign. Kirsty didn't flinch away.

Vailani: :: raises her head and stares at Carpenter :: I don't want to be like him.

Carpenter: Your Pa?

Vailani: RESPONSE

Kirsty continued to listen, perhaps with a bit more intensity than most. She was continually struck by their almost shared history. She could have been reading one of her log entries from any time in the last decade or two. She rose finally to her feet, offering her hand to the Ensign with a tenderness Kirsty almost forgot she was capable of.

Carpenter: I don't know yer dad, Zoyara. I know of him, sure, but I couldn't pick him out in an empty field. I do know, though...more than I can say, to be honest, what it's like growin' up under a maddeningly pious, inflexible tyrant. But ya wanna know the best part?

Vailani: RESPONSE

She spread her arms around the compartment.

Carpenter: They aren't anywhere NEAR us. We are RIGHT. HERE. Together. And when you were called to, YOU acted. YOU saved those officers. Because you couldn't just stand there. That's..that's...that's real, do you understand? That's not your da'. That's YOU. That's all you. And it's worth a'hunnred of your dad.

She stopped herself from saying anything else. Little wanting to overwhelm either of them. But the feelings and memory senses that suddenly flooded her made her own eyes glitter dangerously. Hadn't she said, literally promised, herself with those exact same words the day she had left for Boot? "I Will Not Be My Mother" and hadn't it shattered her just the same, sitting on a mass transport shuttlecraft, surrounded by strangers while her Ma refused to watch her disembark?

Literally turning her back to walk back to the truck as her only daughter flew away? But how could someone say something like that...maybe she didn't have to. She stood, slightly shaky, wondering just where else this "meeting" might go.

And what other commonalities it might reveal...

Vailani: RESPONSE

--

TAG/TBC

--

Lieutenant Commander 

Kirsty L. Carpenter

//\\

Chief of Security & Tactical

Starfleet SAR

(Marine Rank: Major)

//\\

U.S.S. RONIN

 NCC-34523

ID: E239512QC0

//\\

F.N.S. CONTRIBUTOR

(SB118 Forums

 

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