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Morning Catch Up

Posted on Wed May 18th, 2016 @ 2:14pm by Captain Julius Whitlam & Commander Elliot Drake

Mission: The Ties That Bind
Location: The Bunker, Deck 5
Timeline: MD01 - 0735hrs

The large doors to the lounge opened and Captain Julius Whitlam strode in, his expression bordering on glum. But in crossing the threshold from the corridor - and the makeshift memorial wall - into the ship's main lounge seemed to have an instant restorative effect on the captain's mood. That gloominess suddenly made way for a kind of passive pleasantness, which in Julius Whitlam was a significant shift.

Whitlam found himself falling into the habit of making this walk every day in recent weeks. He would walk along the memorial wall, his eyes passing over every face and his mind recalling every name, and feel submit himself to the crushing weight of knowing they died under his command. But then he would enter the lounge, the realm of the living, and see his crew at rest, enjoying each other's company, laughing, sometimes even singing, and hope would be restored to him. He made this walk every day to remind himself why he fought and why he would continue to fight.

Just inside the door, he caught the eye of a trio of ensigns sitting around one of the low tables. Without hesitating, he walked over and shook their hands. They were freshly-minted ensigns and were new to the Manoora. He introduced himself and talked with them for several minutes before leaving them to their drinks. His eyes scanned the room and he spotted his executive officer at a table over near the large, deck to overhead windows that looked out over the sparkling starscape.

Elliot Drake sat facing the window. Even with the small level of merriment of the lounge, he'd often gaze out at the stars, thinking about what their lives could have been. Just over three months ago they were planning to embark on a new mission of discovery. Now? Well, the proof was in his hands. He held a PADD in his hands containing the most recent casualty list. He always dreaded reading it, but usually the environment of the Bunker took off some of the heavy blow. But today he was struggling. He hardly even noticed when Whitlam approached his table.

The captain gave a nod to a couple of enlisted technicians at the next table and took a seat at Drake's table. "How's the view today, Number One?"

"Hmm," Elliot muttered, looking up to see Whitlam. "Oh, sorry, Captain. It's been better." Drake handed him the PADD. "The latest casualty list."

Whitlam took the PADD and his shoulders slumped even before he managed a glance at the list of names. The casualty lists just kept getting longer and longer as the war dragged on. He was losing count of the number of familiar names that kept popping up on the lists. A friend here, a former superior there, an academy classmate. It was a rare day when he didn't come across at least one name to which he had a connection.

"The intelligence report this morning said we're pulling out of the Delphus Sector," he said as his eyes started scanning the list. "Another retreat."

"That's what I heard." Drake shook his head. "We can't keep falling back like this, Julius. The only good news is that the Dominion hasn't found a way around that minefield."

The captain nodded in agreement. He didn't want to imagine the carnage should the Dominion be able to get more ships in from the Gamma Quadrant. That minefield at the mouth of the wormhole was the only thing holding back that particular nightmare. Whitlam looked around, making sure nobody was within earshot, and leaned in close to Drake. "I was talking with Captain Okoro on the Jutland this morning. She's being transferred to the Seventh Fleet. Apparently they're massing for an offensive. She seemed excited about it."

"As excited as one could be about going to war, I suppose," Elliot replied cynically. He did change his tone quickly. "At least that's something, if the rumor is true. Putting the fight back on the Dominion would be a nice change of pace."

"After months of retreat, the prospect of taking the fight up to the Dominion is enough to get even me excited," Whitlam replied. He was not a violent man, and he certainly didn't crave war, but there was only so much retreat he could stomach. Before he could dwell too much on what that said about his character, the captain changed tack. "Have you heard anything from your family back on Alpha Centauri?"

Drake nodded a couple of times. "I talk to them when I can. Michelle's been trying to be the stoic one, at least as well as she can. Mom's not taking it well know that I'm out here, so she and Dad have been trying to keep her from falling apart. At least the kids are too young to really understand what's going on. I don't want to imagine how frightened they would be. Sometimes I think my sister is stronger than I am. I don't know how she does it. How're Zoe and the kids holding up?"

"Remarkably well," he replied, feeling a smile creep across his face. "The war is still a long way away from Earth, so they aren't feeling it yet. Plus the kids are really too young to understand; to them Dad's just away again." He paused, feeling that pang of sadness strike into his stomach as his thoughts dwelled on his family, so far away. "I had a real-time call with them just this morning, actually. Erin's started playing the violin. She played a practice song for me. I don't know if she's any good - even good violin is just noise to me - but the look on her face when she got through to the end was ..." His voice trailed off and he gazed off at the stars outside.

Elliot watched his friend trail off. He didn't have any family of his own. The closest he ever came to having kids was niece and nephew. But he knew how much Julius's kids meant to him. He knew how difficult it was for him to be away, and how much more difficult to know that any time he saw them face to face may have been the last time they would ever see him. It made those moments more special, but also more difficult. Sometimes Elliot wishes that he had had that, but other times, he wasn't sure if he could have handled it. "I'm sure it was beautiful, Julius. Before you know it, you'll get to hear her play in person."

Whitlam turned back to Drake and smiled, "Zoe said it was beautiful, so I have to take her word for it." He shifted tack and straightened himself in his chair. "We just have to win this damn war first," he said, getting back to business. "Anything else to report?"

"Apparently the Klingons have had some success running raids. They've managed to take out several patrols, but I don't think anyone expects to win the war with raids alone. At least we know that the Jem'Hadar can be killed."

The captain tapped the tabletop and pointed at his first officer. "Ah, see! There's hope there, Elliot," he said, trying his hardest to sound optimistic. "Between successful Klingon raids and whatever the Seventh Fleet is about to dish out, we may start to turn the tide in this damn war."

Captain Julius Whitlam
Commanding Officer

Commander Elliot Drake
Executive Officer
USS Manoora


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