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[2008: SEP-OCT] *WINNER* Dawn Breaking the Night

Delinda Sharee

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Dawn Breaking the Night

The bridge of the USS Virginia was a mess. Many of the consoles had exploded, throwing the officers manning them about the bridge. The moans of the wounded made up an eerie white noise of pain. But the view screen showed the real carnage of the day, the Jem Hadar warship that had ambushed the convoy the Virginia was tasked to protect was little more then a debris field. There were no cheers of excitement as the crew won out the day. Instead there was only silent relief as the USS Virginia and the majority of her crew survived another day on the front lines of the Dominion War.

You would not think this would mark one of the brightest days of my life, but that was certainly how it turned out. I was stationed at helm when the Jem Hadar warship had attacked. By this point of the war we had all seen this same scene play out before, there was nothing special about what was happening. The Captain gave her orders, and we set our shoulder to the grind stone, praying that once more Captain Delahanney would guide us through.

For me the attack grew personal when the Ops console across the bridge from me exploded. Lieutenant Junior Grade William Marstoney was hit by a large section of the console, breaking his neck, and killing him instantly. Billy and I had graduated from the Academy in the same class. We never moved in the same circles at the Academy, but we knew of each other. That changed when we were both stationed on the Virginia. We became fast friends as we struggled through our early days as Ensigns. Our camaraderie grew with each new challenge we had to face.

Billy was not the first officer I had seen die in service to the Federation, nor was he the last. But he was the first friend I had ever lost. When he fell, I was consumed by a zeal to see that Jem Hadar warship destroyed. I did everything in my power to give Lieutenant Commander Tavor, our tactical officer, the perfect shot. We took a pounding, but finally the torpedoes were away and the brief battle was over.

Soon the medical team and the engineers were on the bridge, doing their jobs to keep the ship running without interruption. While they worked we found our convey, and continued on our way. The supplies for the war must get through. These were the cold realities of war. I knew them well as the medic’s removed Billy’s body from the bridge, because I was entering a course correction at the time.

It was three more hours before my shift ended. I went down to the Harrisonburg lounge when I went off duty. That was were they posted the casualty reports, one for the ship, and one for the fleet. As I read the long lists of names I could feel the dark cloud of sorrow filling my heart. It had been a bad day. Nine names, I knew nine of the officer lost that day, two from the Virginia, counting Billy, and seven more from around the fleet. The assault on Harlonia IV looked to have been a massacre. After checking the lists I left the Harrisonburg lounge. I did not get anything to eat or drink there, no one did anymore. Instead I headed off for my quarters.

When I entered my quarters I saw the light blinking at my desk, telling me I had a message waiting. I ignored it, heading for the shower instead. I stood in the shower stall letting the sonic waves cleanse the grime of the day from my skin. I could only distantly remember the luxury of a real shower, with hot water. I tried to remember how long it had been, but that only reminded me of my last leave. That was a memory that was far to pleasant to think about just then, so I pushed it from my mind. I did my best to stop thinking, and just waited for the shower to finish.

I did not get around to checking the message waiting for me at the console until I had gotten into some clean, non regulation clothes, and eaten a plate of lasagna. I turned the computer on and watched the Star Fleet insignia as the message loaded. I was surprised to see Regina’s face appear, with a newborn in her arms, swaddled in a pink blanket.

“Hi honey.” She began, “I have a little surprise for you. I was thinking of naming her Kelly, after your grandmother…….I know this is a bit unexpected, but I didn’t want you to be distracted out there. I know you Hal. You would have been so worried about me during the pregnancy you wouldn’t have been able to look after yourself the way I needed you to…….I hope I did the right thing…….She has your eyes, and your easy laugh. Two days old and she already loves to laugh…….I miss you Hal, I really wish you could have been here for this. You come home safe to us now, daddy. We love you. Be safe.”

The Star Fleet insignia filled the screen again. I watched that message over and over for the next hour. I had a daughter. Just like that the horrors of the day eased their grip on my soul. I was a father now, and nothing was going to stop me from getting home to my little girl.

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