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Posted on Sun Mar 14th, 2021 @ 10:10am by Captain Rhenora Kaylen & Chief Petty Officer Remal Kajun

Mission: The Jungle
Location: Captains Quarters
Timeline: Morning after the Game

The room was plunged into darkness, so absolute that for a moment it sparked a seed of fear. She snuggled in close, using his body as a reminder that all was ok. For the time being she couldn’t bring herself to close her eyes, fearful of the dreams that would haunt her. She tried to calm her breathing, focusing on every nuance of the breath in order to force calmness upon her mind.

Even as sleep began to take him, his sixth sense told him something was wrong, she was restless. Despite already being close, he found a way to cradle her closer, giving her that sense of comfort. He gently squeezed his hand around her stomach and allowed his face to be smothered by her hair long enough for her to know, he was there and was not going anywhere.

The presence settled her, enveloping her body in a warmth that only a loving partner could provide. It was a sensation that could banish all evil, all dangerous thoughts from the mind and spirit at least temporarily. The pull of sleep became too strong, the promise of rest and restoration too powerful for even her stubborn mind to refuse.

A good 10 hours later she cracked an eyelid to reveal the room still in pitch blackness. Remal slumbered quietly still and she carefully extricated herself without waking him, heading into the bathroom then out into their living area. They were still in orbit, the planet circling lazily as though suspended on a gossamer thread. She dropped onto the couch, thankful now her leg was more or less healed. Dr Wilson had suggested she take it easy for a few days, and from what Rhenora could see there was no reason for that not to happen. She was lost in thoughts of lost crews in the jungle when the aroma of steaming hot coffee wafted from their kitchenette. Remal was up.

Her mind was a million miles away, somewhere down on the planet in a steamy hot jungle escaping hunters and predators and everything in between. It was her mind’s way of processing the experience, reliving it, analysing it, then filing it away. The analysing would come soon, the questioning of decisions and deliberation as to if changing those decisions would have made any kind of meaningful difference. She doubted it - they had the odds stacked against them from the start by a man who saw fit to do so to protect his own family.

He walked in, two coffees in hand and immediately spotted that distant look in her eyes as she stared out the window at the planet below. He moved to sit across from her, handing her a coffee just the way she liked it, as he sat. “Looks like someone left a piece of her mind down on that planet. Care to share?” He asked gently.

“ Pieces of my mind, pieces of my crew, pieces of my heart….pieces of my soul” She replied with the same distant expression. “ It’s as though it were a bad dream, no more like a nightmare… the stuff people dread, yet we were forced into it with no ability to protest. The lack of control, the inability to protect my people is not something I’m used to having.” She mused, absently raising the coffee to her lips “Am I just a control freak? Or is there something more? Am I angry because that control was taken away, or by who it was taken away by?”

It was a lot to take in and he understood the strain was a lot she had been carrying upon her shoulders, as well as her heart and mind. He sipped his coffee knowing much of what she asked was rhetorical, there was still an underlying question there that begged to be answered. “Professionally speaking, yes.” He answered cryptically.

"To all three?" She raised an eyebrow at her husband "and non professionally speaking?”

He smirked slightly, “I counted four, but yes. You have been known to be somewhat controlling but there is more to it than that. You are a Captain and without a certain level of control we would be a mess as a crew. You are frustrated by that loss of control and by those who took it away, as any person in your position would be. It’s not our lack of control that defines us, but how we deal with that loss.”

He titled his head sideways and swallowed a lump, “And then there’s your um... “ He swallowed a large drink of coffee to wash down his froggy throat, then spoke really fast. “Your nurturing motherly instincts.”

“ The fact I consider my crew as family?” She looked out the window again, knowing that part of her some considered a weakness, almost to a fault.
“ I can’t help it - I’ve never had a proper family, not since I was very young. I always felt as though I needed to work harder to belong and to protect those around me so I wouldn’t lose that family again” She fell quiet again, taking in the green blue orb beneath them “ Does that make me as bad as Haldeman? Would I do the same to protect my crew?”

He peered out the window in an attempt to collect his own thoughts before responding with, "The desire to protect your crew is no different than Haldemans and in the end should your roles have been reversed you may have done the same thing. At least to a point.

Your Vulcan loves to preach the needs of the many versus the needs of the few, philosophy, but where that argument breaks down is a situation when the needs of the many is equal to the needs of the many. And that is where, as a Starfleet officer, you have to choose which path the trolley travels down."

He sipped some more. "It is not for you to compare your moral principles against his. In that regard I think you're asking the wrong question. As Starfleet officers we understand the risks of being out here. We should be willing to die before killing innocents. The moment Haldeman decided to save his crew and condemn other innocent crews to death, he essentially sold his soul and stopped being their Captain. For 10 years he acted in the interests of another culture and abandoned those of Starfleet. It was only seeing the Liberty crew that brought his compass back in line. I don't know the man and I don't know the protocol for this situation, but I have two suggestions for you."

Her eyes connected with his - searching his soul as she looked for answers of her own. Her coffee was forgotten in her hands

He finished his coffee. "First, stop comparing yourself to him. You are not alike. And Second, consult with Haldeman's officers. See what they say about how Haldeman acted on their behalf and how they feel about the deaths that occured in the name of the Manchester's salvation."

The scent of cooling coffee acquainted itself with her nose, reminding her of love, strength, duty and obligation. Consulting with the Manchester crew would provide an unbiased opinion on Haldeman’s leadership capacity before this event, a real sense of if his compass was even slightly skewed before the events in the RedZone. Rhenora knew the man from several shared campaigns, and a number of conferences they had attended together. She was older than him but back then he had shown great courage and skill in the centre chair. Sometimes that skill and courage could fall off the bandwagon with the pressures of command and the tough decisions that come with the role.

“We’re recovering his crew presently, I’ll talk to them today. I proposed to the Admiralty that we keep Haldeman on board for rehabilitation to earn his stripes again so to speak. I think there is a glimmer of the old man in there somewhere, beneath the hurt, the anger and the manipulation.” She admitted, knowing she was going out on a limb to even recommend such a future.

"If it is possible to endure for that long and not lose oneself, trust my wife to hold out hope." He commented to himself. "I am sure whatever you decide will work in everyone's best interest. I can help with your psyche but you need the likes of our old friend S'thenosis for the legal ramifications." He smiled remembering how much they had despised the JAG Dragon when she first stepped foot on the Sunfire.

Rhenora physically shuddered at the thought of speaking with S’Thenosis again. The ‘Dragon lady’ had ruled with an iron fist, having butted heads with Rhenora on more than one occasion. They had established a begrudging acceptance of each other though.

“ I want to rehabilitate him, remind him of the wonders of the universe rather than the horrors of it. I don’t think Starfleet will see it the same way, but I want to try” She admitted, still slightly absent “That’s what I would want others to see of me, to see past the current issue, the manipulation, the ego and the anger and try to rebuild what once was.”

"Sounds like you've already made your mind up as to what you want to do." He chuckled. "Remind me again what you need me for?" He was trying to be playful and take her mind off the serious nature of the events that transpired below and what was left to transpire.

“ To be the wonderful and supportive husband that you are. My sounding board, my moral compass and my protector” She looked him straight in the eyes.

"And I will be, for as long as you'll have me." He looked at her thigh as his mind shifted gears.

“I never thanked you for what you did in the Jungle” She admitted, seeing that his eye was drawn to the scar on her thigh, barely concealed by the cotton slip she wore. “ It must not have been the easiest of times”

"We've been through worse. I was just thinking of asking if it still hurts, your thigh. Or if you think you can manage your day without me?"

“ Sarah did a pretty bang up job of it, there’s no residual damage she assures me although she couldn’t completely remove the scar. Blokes dig scars though….” The corner of her mouth turned up a little at the word as she placed a hand on his arm

“ Are you ok?” She asked quietly, realising for the last twenty minutes she’d been focused on herself rather than her husband.

"Yeah, yeah I'm good. I was going to talk to Aurora a bit about maybe helping counsel those who have lost team members down there." He gestured at the planet outside the window. "And yes we do, rawr." He raised his brows and moved in for a playful peck upon her cheek.


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