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[Round 14] What We Owe


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((Riley's Ready Room, USS Tiger))

Ventu: People are tired. I'll talk to the department heads, but ...

people are tired. We'll get to DS17, won't we?

:: Sidney tried to offer the Commander a reassuring look.

She knew what Lily was talking about...it was something she

had to deal with later.::

Riley: Commander :: Pause :: Lily...how are you holding up?

:: Lily sunk into a seat and met Sidney's eye again. ::

Ventu: This was a bad one, Sid.

::The Terran/Deltan CO nodded. She knew...it was unspoken

until now, but she did know.::

Ventu: ::hopelessly:: I kept looking at that list and asking myself,

what would be better? That this was our first mission, and I didn't

know them? Or that we'd lost them all after months or years of being


Riley: I really don't think there is a better thing in this


Ventu: I looked up a couple of files. Kayson was twenty-two.

Bennington was engaged - her fiancee's still on board. He survived,

and she didn't. How fair is that?

::Sidney steeled herself again. She knew all the people had families,

knew they all had lives, loves...but if she focused on each and every

name on that list...pondered each and every life and it's

significance she knew she'd be mad...she had to keep it

together...she owed it to everyone who had made it through the

ordeal. She would be strong for everyone...::

Riley: Life can rarely be called fair Lily...

::Sidney looked at her First Officer, felt for her...She knew what

she was struggling with...knew all too well...but they had to be

strong...they had to make the tough decisions.::

Ventu: Not fair, then. That's not what I meant. I meant ...::beat::...

we're supposed to be doing some good, aren't we? This all started with

answering a distress call. How many Constellationites died? How many

Reapers? How many of our people? ::sigh:: And where do you draw the


Riley: Where we draw the line is always a point of contention. If

you begin to doubt yourself, you'll be mad Lily..."What If" is not a

pretty sight...it will take away your courage, take away your

identity...It's up to us Lily...up to us to be strong for this

crew...we *owe* them that much...for those who are dead...and those

who are still living...

::Sidney took in a deep breath.::

We draw the line as best we can...we deal with the consequences...it

is who we are...

::Sidney's bright green eyes focused on her Terran First Officer as

she attempted to decipher what the woman was thinking. Failing

miserably she waited until she spoke.::

Ventu: Do you remember what I said after the Independence was thrown

out to the galactic barrier, that day in the gym? About living too

much for the adrenaline, being too much in the moment?

::Sidney raised an eyebrow.::

Riley: Yes, I remember...

Ventu: It wasn't true this time. All I wanted was for it to be over

this time. For the dying to stop, for the lives not to have been lost,

for peace.

::Sidney took in Lily's words as she paused before continuing.::

Ventu: This time, there isn't an answer. The Reapers are gone, but

they didn't win. We didn't win. We both survived. ::beat:: Pointless.

For what?

Riley: ::Quietly.:: I would not say pointless Commander...

::But Sidney paused, sensing Lily had something else to say.::

Ventu: But then, another part of me says that the whys are pointless.

It doesn't matter, does it? We're all protagonists of our own story.

The Reapers were doing what they thought they had to, as did we. As

did the Constellationites before them, and whatever races the Reapers

attacked before. ::beat, slight smile:: As did Lily Ventu As did

everyone on the Starship Tiger, from her esteemed captain to that

rogue Constellationite we picked up.

:: She felt tired, empty. Nothing left, now, to feel or do. ::

Riley: And what of the Bondsman.... ah...Cullen?

Ventu: Yes, that's it. ::a bit of a frown:: The one who's bonded to


Riley: Has anyone heard or seen from him?

Ventu: He's here somewhere; the bioscans picked him up. He wasn't a

priority, though, so....

:: Sidney leaned forward. ::

Riley: I have something else serious to discuss Commander,

I received a preliminary report which indicates the possibility of

a murder on the ship? Something about a ring and Crewman

Bennington of the medical department? Do you know anything

of this?

Ventu: Yes, I heard about it-

Riley: I think security should look into this on our way back to DS


Ventu: ::with a sigh:: The Reapers again. I saw the preliminary

reports from Mr. Clack's and Hay- Dr. Reynolds's analysis of the

device earlier, and the readings of the Reaper device Clack had down

in his lab before it disappeared. The energy readings were the same.

::beat:: I don't ever want to run into these Reapers again. Not in

battle, at least.

Riley: Nor do I... :: A simple statement of fact, but somehow Sidney

doubted it would be the case.::

Ventu: While we were in the science lab, Counselor Salen had an idea I

think we should implement: Launching a warning buoy, or a series of

buoys, warning ships away from this region of space, if ... when the

Reapers reappear.

Riley: ::Sidney offered a sad smile.:: And that Commander is why

this was not pointless...That is the reason *Why*...Why is almost as

bad as If in its ability to drive one insane...

Ventu: I know, but just thinking about it-

Ventu: Bennington and McKenzie and all those other - it's ... I don't

know. What do we tell their families? That they died so we could place

a buoy warning people away from a region of space we already knew

belonged to a hostile race? ::beat:: It's not enough, never enough-

Riley: Lily...it's not that I don't care...I do...

Ventu: *I* know you do. It's not that. ::shaking her head:: We just

weren't enough. Starfleet should have known better. Over two dozen

people are dead, are it's because we underestimated this race.

::beat:: We can't let this happen again, Sid. We just ... can't.

Ventu: Then there's us. The command reaction.... Everyone'll be

looking to us. ::with another sigh:: And what do we do? What *can* we do?

Riley: The crew needs us...they need us to be strong for them...we

owe them that after what they've been through...

Ventu: Yes. We owe them, and ourselves, that much.

Commander Sidney Riley

Commanding Officer

USS Tiger

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Like the Ops nomination; double taked when reading this on the list, wondering if it was a JP. It isn't... wonderful interaction between Riley & Ventu, shows the feelings of the command staff despite the brave face they put on before the crew. Very well written by both writers :)

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