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Lt. Cmdr. Kirsty Carpenter - Finish The Fight

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Absolutely wonderful and heart wrenching sim. Had to share the love for such a well written viewpoint. #roninstrong

((Captain's Ready Room, Deck 3 Primary Hull, U.S.S. Ronin))

Kirsty took jumbled, laconically painful stock (thanks to her still throbbing head and bone-deep sore limbs) of their situation as her and the new command structure of the damaged, listing, but still in the fight Ronin made their beeline into the Ready Room. 
Kirsty deferrently allowed Alieth and Raga the use of the middle of the room. The whole energy of the compartment, hell the whole deck around them, was sour and tense. She could taste it, alongside the coppery bitter taste of her own blood. Checking her weapon, miraculously still functional from the fracas and thudding improvised explosions of the defence of the Bridge, she set it at an angle beside her, barrel pointed downward. 
She eased into one of the seating sections toward the far end of the room, her body somewhat sighing with obvious and instant relief as she did. But her mind was still constantly going. As were her eyes, dancing madly over the two officers in front of her. Both of whom she had come to quickly respect, but now...something akin to a love flooded her heart and busted up body.
Love and a profound feeling of sadness and disappointment. Mostly directed toward herself. A decade ago she would have been able to clock that trap a dozen lightyears away. Wouldn't have been so slow on the draw when the RoLF landing spears, spider-bots, and their compatriots had violently invaded their home. Would have engaged in the same savagery and focused (albeit...perhaps a bit TOO focused, if she was thinking about it) attack that the Captain had.
But now, in the relative calm of the space and the dark, pitched glow of her heart and knocked-around-mind, she could see just how...her battered and slightly muddy-feeling brains reacted for the right word and feeling. Coming up short as she chanced a lean to hear what her superiors were about to say.
It felt like...when Ma would dress her down for doing something she wasn't supposed to. But obviously, with a lot more import and stakes behind it. The situation they were hip deep in at the moment was a damn sight more dire than skipped school and stolen jars of white corn liquor. Kirsty had never felt the sort of heat that seemed to bake from Alieth...and on the other side of the coin, had never once seen Raga this unsettled, this...rollicked. His cool winds and steely-eyes had provided a lot of unspoken steel of Kirsty's own in the days before.
Not today. His hands flexed bloodily and his breath returned as Alieth finally took her moment, her usually implacably charming pate replaced with something much, much different.

Alieth: You should know, Mister Raga, that I am deeply disappointed by your performance in this matter. You… WE should do better from now on.

Kirsty found herself sitting ramrod straight in her seat, even despite the pain of her body and mind. That was...not what she was expecting the New XO to say. Expected even less the New Captain's response, which seemed to hover just around being told to put down that cookie and being slapped. 

But Kirsty herself winced against the memory of what had transpired on the Bridge. The pitched sound of his shouting, the disregard he seemed to display for his own body in the engagement. More chilling memories started to flood her creaking body. Her own short slide into...feral. Feral was always the word she came back to. 

Seeing even a little of that starting to bleed (quite literally in this case) from her Captain...it made her sadder than she was willing to admit. She tried to steady her own breath, leaning heavily on her least borked arm (the left) and listening intently to the scene unfolding around her.

Raga: First thing’s first we both will have to go through sickbay. You’re injured as well and regardless of what medical experience you have, Commander. I’ve heard numerous times from physicians about how their colleagues make for the worst patients. Everyone should and will go through Sickbay. For I’d be surprised if anyone made it through the last half hour without some injury

That was...prudent enough, sure. But Kirsty was well aware that he had avoided the assessment from his second, quite deftly actually. XO Alieth seemed to have clocked that sidestep too, deploying a sharpened, well-practiced eyebrow at the comment. Kirsty could feel warmth and feeling coming back into her limbs, but kept down for a bit longer. She didn't know when the next time she would get even minor kip so she took advantage.
But even from her seat, she couldn't keep her eye from the way Captain Raga was nursing his shredded knuckles. She thought of actually punching one of those things, doing more than holding the line against them...the very idea of it set her teeth on edge. And he had done it...again...and again...and again. HIs hands had to feel like a bag of chipped marbles at this point.
Suddenly, Kirsty's own pain didn't seem quite so bad. She had XO Alieth to thank for a lot of that, but...her ship, her home, and her crew were hurting. Some likely even lost entirely. She couldn't help but take some of that on herself. But The Captain's shockingly even tempered voice brought her back (along with her soreness and creaky movements). 

Raga: I agree with you that I am emotionally impacted by what just happened and the Consortium. I dare say this whole thing feels like a targeted attack just to spite me. So, please explain why you feel disappointed? Yes, I led us into a trap, a very intricate one. And every life lost before this is done is on my shoulders. I accept that. It comes with this uniform. What is it that we should do better?

Alieth stood her ground. Kirsty's heart continued to both grow and ache at the same time. Alieth obviously had a point she was building to, and knowing her, it would be a good one. Chief Alieth didn't speak unless she had something to say. But the feeling of them all being at odds with each other at the moment. Kirsty's mostly self-inflicted, the ghosts of her own failures and core traumas spilling dangerously into the present. But this seemed...far, far more urgent and likely more explosive than the charges they had peppered into the turbolift shaft.

Alieth: You knew it was a trap, the whole bridge knew it, and yet you rushed us into it without taking the necessary measures to counter it. You did not adopt a cautious approach that would have prevented deaths, you rushed us straight into it without any further consideration, nor listened to your crew. Indeed, we had received a distress call and by procedure we needed to respond, but not so recklessly: a brief delay could have been enough time to warn us of the instability of the system and what awaited us. A few minutes could have changed everything.

She paused, but despite the heaviness of the silence, it didn't feel unkind to Kirsty. It felt decidedly the opposite, finally divorcing it completely from the feelings and experiences she would remember forever from her mother. The slitted, disappointed eyes. The crestfallen resignation in her voice.

No, no, this was...warmer, somehow, even with the pointed terseness of her voice. The way her calculated, but keen eyes swept across them all just proved that all the further to Kirsty. Silently, redrawing her tricorder, she started to give them another examination, Raga first, obviously as his ruined hands continued to flex and reflex between them.

Kirsty dared now to rise, taking a few tentative steps toward her superiors (oO Family Oo). As Kirsty found a comfortable stance near them (and less than a pace and a half away from her weapon), she witnessed Alieth's eyes catching Raga's once more. 

She held her tongue for a moment longer, almost eager to hear what else the New XO had to say.

Alieth: Not to mention your choice to leave your command to attack these things directly when there were officers :: extending a hand towards Kirsty, which she greeted with surprised eyebrows her own.:: who could have dealt with them. Not only that, but you decided to do so in a way that has caused you unnecessary injury and physical harm as you chose an emotionally driven strategy such as an attack with your bare fists against brikarian alloys, not only seriously putting your life in danger, but preventing the rest of the crew from being able to take effective action against the attackers as many would have involved more damage to your person. You have put your own desires and feelings above a general strategy, indulging in almost self-destructive impulses, which has resulted in damage to the Ronin and, worse, casualties and fatalities.

She paused once more, something clear and clean and decidedly un-Vulcan rising in her voice as she came to a momentarily close. But then, shocking Kirsty further into a grim (almost crushing) admiration for the officer, she gingerly plucked up one of the Captain's uniform sleeves and 

Alieth: If there are any unbroken bones left in your hand, it would be a statistical anomaly.

Kirsty's tongue felt thick and awkward in her skull, but she spoke anyway.

Carpenter: I won't say you don't have a point, sir. But sometimes...sometimes, the points don't matter. Cap did what he had to. If anybody deserves blame, it's me. I shoulda saw the trap too. But we cain't-

Cap Raga cut her off carefully, tactfully. 

Raga: You’re right. I didn’t even consider a diplomatic avenue for dealing with the Consortium based on my numerous past dealings with them. I won’t deny that that stems from personal bias, what we just went through was on par and worse than what the Atlantis went through six years ago. Those experiences are why I didn’t, based on their modus. Diplomacy is not always an option, as the participants of Wolf Three Five Nine can attest. ::A long, defeated sigh later:: You saw who orchestrated this, Alieth. Whoever this new boss is, he’s far more cunning than any I’ve encountered before in their organization. Do you think that with such a trap in place, that we wouldn’t have suffered a similar fate?

AliethThis is not the Borg and this is not 359. This Consortium, this Wrath, is something more akin to the Orion than the Collective: they want something, something more than they told us, and they have enough ego to show up here to taunt you. You could have taken that opportunity to get information out of them, what they wanted, where they were meeting, extend the talk while we recovered the systems to try to locate them. :: She let out the smallest sketch of a sight:: To buy time for something, but even there you refused to negotiate, when he had us in his hand. We are alive only because that Wrath chose to, not because you worked actively to protect us from them. You are no longer a tactical officer, Toryn, you are a commanding officer. And the sooner you realize that, fewer people will die under your command. You need to be better.

Kirsty stiffened with the silence. 

Carpenter: You saw what they did to that freighter, Alieth. Do you REALLY think they would have came to the table in good faith? That the people who control those monsters would even consider anything else than open attack? I'll admit, this whole thing stinks. ::she turns to Cap, obvious effort on her face:: and Chief's right, sir, you didn't tell us everything. That ain't somethin' I'll forget soon. But I also...I think we are going to need to break a few rules of engagement if we wanna survive today. 

Another heavy silence echoed through the room like a sunset. Kirsty adored the officers around her. Further would do anything and everything for the ship around her. But the sentiments of the New XO's counsel drummed madly through the bottom of her thoughts. If they completely lost who they were in the attempt...what would be left? Not the first time the question had faced her, but she had much, much more to lose this time. 

With even further implications for the Isles beyond...

Gooseflesh prickled underneath her uniform. 

Raga: Part of me wants to take a shuttle and hunt him down, so the only life left to risk is my own. And tear him apart rock by rock. The younger me would have. And that’s precisely why I can’t and won’t. I’m not that person anymore. ::He met the Vulcan’s gaze:: I know that your emotions are far stronger than many tend to recall or credit your species for. So I know that you’re feeling every bit as much as the rest of us who don’t have generational mental discipline to rely on. Just as I know my own emotions blinded me to the trap we just sprung, but believe me when I say that unless we acquiesce to their demands and leave we’re going to have more losses before this is through. ::He quickly added:: Which is not an option. We should do whatever we can to minimize it.

Another momentary storm passed across Alieth's face. But as quickly, her alert, keenly focused countenance returned just as quickly. But the iron in her voice remained firm. Kirsty momentarily wondered what she would have been like, having met her in another life.

Alieth: My emotions or lack thereof have no bearing on this, Mister Raga. What is relevant, for the sake of the crew that we have left, is that you pause and ponder a strategy, that you listen to your crew and outsmart Wrath and your past self.

Kirsty dared another step forward. Hoping she could find some happy medium here that could get them moving again. Her internal clock was all but smashed into oblivion, but she knew enough to know that they had stayed here too long. Even with the obvious activity and motion on the Bridge beyond where Is'Kah and O'Connor continued to work in tandem with Tucker's team below. At least, that had been the case when this "meeting" had started, and comms were patchy at best. There was no real telling what kind of progress had really been made since the eerie break-off of the RoLFs' attack

Carpenter: We are here for ya', Captain. This is a #$^*storm, no question about it. And one that's caught us flush. But this short-stack of dynamite is right. We can't do this without ya', sir. All this smoke, all the "makin' it personal"...it's tryin' to take you away from us. We can't...I won't let them. 

Toryn Raga stood up, crossing carefully to the cosmic storm outside the ready room window. Kirsty wished more than anything she could hear what he was thinking, could feel what Alieth so deeply felt (but worked diligently to keep from her face). If only to take it away from them. To allow them to focus their minds and considerable skills, to hone their experience down to simply tools to save lives like they had been before this hellish day. 

But as the beleaguered Captain crossed the energy of the room seemed to...shift. Maybe break would be the better term. Kirsty was no empath, but she wasn't completely stupid either. Something was changing around them. Something HAD to change around them if they were going to turn this around. She crossed her arms expectantly, ignoring the deep pain in her shoulders as she did so.

Raga: These things were a nightmare before the Briktanium, so we can only hope that they didn’t have enough to upgrade all of their machines. Everything about them and their tactics, psychological warfare at its most despicable. ::He considered for a moment and glanced back at the two women:: And to cover their true purpose. So, what was the true purpose of this trap? I’m not so conceited to think this was just to teach me a lesson. His goading, baiting me the way he did. Make it feel personal. Which suggests that we should take inventory of everything and everyone on board to see if they remain true to form, wouldn’t you agree?

Alieth: They have made it personal to divert your attention from what is important. What they have looked for in the other freighters and what they have taken from us may be relevant. As well as what they do not want us to notice.

She closed the medkit with a loud click. Kirsty nodded, grateful for the New XO's concise eloquence and clear delivery.

Alieth: Think about it Toryn, but now, the three of us need to head to the sickbay. This conversation can wait a few more minutes.

Carpenter: This fight ain't going nowhere. And neither are we. 

She gave the collection of officers, her superiors and peers all the same, a wan, but direct smirking nod. Pain returned behind her eyes, sharp and clear like a cold bolt of ice that seemed to stab her skull through the middle. She blinked it away, crossing back to her rifle and gingerly picking it up and nestling it into a comfortable heft in her hands. Turning back to her companion with a nod and quickened step as she started to take point on the slow, but sure journey to get them patched up. 

oO V'Len...Oo

It had been a long day, one that was only standing to get longer as she would get more and more reports and updates on their way to Sickbay (which had also seen its fair share of the conflict, it would turn out). But for the first time in years, walking in tandem with officers she would die for gladly, she remembered what hope felt like.

(Long Overdue) End of Act 2 for Kirsty!
Lieutenant Commander
Kirsty L. Carpenter
Chief of Security & Tactical
Starfleet SAR
(Marine Rank: Major)
ID: E239512QC0
F.N.S. Contributor 
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