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Hello Darkness, My Old Friend

Posted on Fri Dec 16th, 2016 @ 10:02pm by Major Storr Garlake & Sergeant Bella Zaltin & Captain Claudia Ainscow & Commander Akiva ben-Avram

Mission: S1E2 - Unity
Location: USS Vindex (Deck 25)- Marine Barracks / Team Room
Timeline: Day 13: 1030

Storr, wearing his dress uniform, stood atop the Team Room's poker table and looked out at the assembled crowd of Marines that completely filled the Team Room and spilled out into the large common room/lounge/kitchen beyond. He wished that they had an auditorium that wasn't on the holodeck for things like this but then caught himself...he didn't want to be having to do this often. Bella was to his right, standing next to the wall that had the Two-Five standard draped over it (with a horizontal black band through the center) while Corporal Shorinal, Jessica's Orion squad leader, was to his left.

Akiva stood off to the side next to Claudia, both of them giving the 2/5 their own space during the proceedings. Whenever a Marine's eyes flashed toward his, he had a hard time keeping eye contact. He did not handle death well at all, and he knew he wasn't the best one to help lay ghosts to rest. Fortunately, most of the Marines faced front with an unbroken resolution. When Garlake stepped up, Akiva was sure to respect him with his undivided attention as well.

Claudia had arrived and she too had opted to wear a full dress uniform to mark the event. Claudia hated losing people and Jessica Blake's death was harder than any other because she was the first crew member to die under her command. Truth be told she cried herself to sleep over the Lance Corporal's death - but as much as she wanted to turn back time she couldn't. Instead she wanted to honour the Lance Corporal and planned to convert the arboretum into a memorial garden to honour those who had fallen in the line of duty whilst assigned to the Vindex. She hated funerals full stop but as the ship's commanding officer who had ordered the Marines to carry out the mission Claudia felt that it was her duty to be in attendance of the service to pay her respects to the brave Marine who had given her life in the line of duty.

"We all know why we're here today, and I know that we wish that we weren't," he began. No notes, no holo-prompter, just preparation and thoughts from the restless night before. He would probably have a better presentation if they had delayed but he didn't want the entire Company wondering what happened and languishing in rumor and gossip. Not that Starfleet Marines were a sewing circle but word got around. Fast. Garlake took a breath and continued. "We're Marines, Leathernecks, Devil Dogs, tough as nails through and through...but that doesn't stop the pain of losing one of our own. Many of us knew Lance Corporal Blake...Jessica...well, and her absence from the Two-Five will be noticed and profound," Storr produced a small slip of paper from his pocket, "I'm going to read a poem that the mother of a marine long since passed wrote, and I think it is still appropriate today.

Today a Marine came home
not marching down the street
to waves and cheers
but in a box covered
with a flag of White, Blue and Gold.

the flags are at half staff
And the people line the road home
with bowed heads
and tears in their eyes
For a Marine came home today

As the hearse came to its final stop
Her brothers in Blue and Green gathered round
They gently lifted that flag draped box
and then carried her, and gently put her down

Mother, Father, and family followed in
with tears flowing down
There was a silence, that screamed with pain
for all knew a great loss
for a Marine came home today

Why did she have to die,
the question rings out
She was so full of youth and full of life
There was so much she had to offer,
And yet she went to fight for what
she felt was right
always knowing full well
that she might be asked to make
that supreme sacrifice

She is home now and soon
She will lie with those other
Honored dead in that hallowed ground
Called Arlington
A Marine has come home today

Captain Garlake folded the paper up and folded it back in his pocket, taking a moment before looking back up to the crowd. "Marines, attention!" The entire room came to attention simultaneously, their shoulders up, back, and down, chins in, and looking straight ahead. A glorious sight for such a tragic occurrence. "Sergeant Zaltin, remove the standard and publish the order," he said, looking down at his First Sergeant and nodding.

Bella took the pole that the standard was attached to and moved it to the side, revealing a long black photon torpedo piece with a green stripe through the middle with "Wall of Honor" emblazoned in white lettering at the top and below it, an 8x10 black-and-white portrait of Lance Corporal Jessica Blake, her KABAR attached to the frame below it with the date and time of which she died and USS VINDEX engraved on the blade. Hauntingly, there was sufficient room for many other portraits. She then took a deep breath and read from her PADD.

"Lance Corporal Jessica Blake, Starfleet Marine Corp, Second Battalion, Fifth Marines, USS Vindex, Bravo Squad, on or about Stardate 65603.9, greatly distinguished herself by personally securing over thirteen tons of supplies for the USS Vindex in preparation for immediate combat against Consortium forces to include seven capital ships and five escorts. During this away mission, Lance Blake selflessly placed herself in immediate and lethal danger to ensure these supplies could be secured and that six other Marines were able to escape despite overwhelming attack and technical difficulties delaying transport. The distinctive accomplishments of Lance Corporal Jessica Blake in the dedication of her service to the United Federation of Planets reflect great credit upon herself and the Starfleet Marine Corp."

Bella then took the Shield of Valor decoration from the mantle and gave it to Garlake, who then pinned it to the top of the picture frame, the golden palm at the bottom of the red and blue ribbon stopping just at Jessica's shoulder in the picture. Turning around, the MCO addressed the crowd one last time.

"Marines, we celebrate and honor our dead, we do not mourn them. Let us remember Lance Blake's impact on all of us today and look forward to how we can all make her proud in the days to come against the Consortium. Today is a down day, that you might remember and prepare in your own way. God bless Jessica, God bless Starfleet, and God bless the Corp. Dismissed." with that, he stepped down from the table and began mingling with the crowd, making sure that they were doing as well as they could and seeing if anyone needed help. As the MCO, he needed to be as proficient with the handshake and back-clasp as the phaser rifle and KABAR.

*-*-* One Hour Later *-*-*-

Storr sat in his office, dark except one desk light on, as he stared at a blank screen. He had never been in this position before. Sure, he had had a couple friends die on missions but he had never been the one that was accountable at the top. There's no way to describe the feeling of someone under your command until you're there; until you've experienced it. And until then, you truly can't prepare for it.

The MCO held his face in his hand for several moments before returning his focus to the blank screen and began to write.

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Blake...


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