That which is lost

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That which is lost

Post by Katrina Delain on Tue Mar 24, 2015 10:28 pm

"Are either of you alive?"

Kneeling upon the cold metal decking of the Herakles's spartan chapel, Commander Katrina Delain spoke the words in little more than a whisper. It wasn't a conscious decision to do so; there was nobody around to overhear, yet still the words slipped out as little more than a hoarse utterance as the young commander stared resolutely down at a single gleaming rivet that pierced the decking beneath her.

Maybe it was because she was afraid of the answer.

Her father... well, he was probably dead. It hurt to admit that, but what little information the fleet had gleaned from Earth made it clear. Still Katrina couldn't quite bring herself to extinguish the spark of hope that yet lingered. And her mother...? Well, Luna hadn't exactly been forthcoming with information even before the civil war, so what chance did she have of learning anything now?

"So I have to believe," came her whispered thoughts, put into words before she'd even realised they were creeping toward her tongue, "Either that they're alive... or that they're in a better place."

A better place. Hmph. It was strange; before this had all started, she'd never been one to consider heaven and the afterlife, yet now the thoughts came to her so easily, so naturally. Why was that? Was it just because the human mind needed to be able to believe there was somewhere friends and family could be reunited? Or was it simply because it was so very easy to imagine something that was better than the war torn solar system that humanity had bequeathed to its descendants? That latter thought brought a bitter grimace to her lips, and she shook her head, raven hair lashing at the air as she strove to clear the bleak thoughts from her mind.

"Can't think like that," she chided herself, "We can recover. There've been other wars. We always recover." But other wars don't leave billions dead, a bitter voice added whilst her spoken words yet lingered in the air, but Katrina merely shook her head once more, refusing to give in to self pity. She was a soldier, godsdammit, an officer. People depended on her; she couldn't let them see her becoming maudlin and morose.

Besides, it's not what he would have wanted.

Sighing irritably, Katrina pushed herself up to her feet and cast a glance back across her shoulder. As she'd expected, the chapel remained empty of all bar the shadows of her past, and she paused a moment to adjust the dark grey tunic of her uniform, smoothing out the creases that had formed as she knelt upon the floor. Then, satisfied that she was presentable, she stepped forward and retrieved the solitary photograph she'd set before the cross on the altar, tucking it carefully back into her pocket before turning on her heel and striding from the chapel.

She'd wasted enough time reflecting on the past; it was time to turn her thoughts to the future.

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Re: That which is lost

Post by Katrina Delain on Wed Mar 25, 2015 8:34 pm

Chapel to bridge. Bridge to chapel. How often had she walked that path in the last few weeks? Often enough that it felt as though her booted feet should have worn a grove into the metal underfoot, that was for sure. Others had started to notice, she knew. Soon enough the whispers would start spreading insidiously through the fleet, but though Katrina knew she needed to check herself, to step back, she ever found herself returning to the chapel. She'd leave her quarters full of good intentions, promising herself that she was going to go to the gym, the mess, even the soc, but she never did; instead, she always found herself standing before that worn cross.

It hadn't been that way at first. After the war, her mind had been kept too busy, too wrapped up in keeping the Herakles running whilst Admiral Reinhardt struggled to keep what was left of the fleet together. She'd been in shock, too. They all had. How could they not have been, when their homeworld had just annihilated itself in a blaze of nuclear fire? But once they'd anchored off Ceres and things had started to settle down, once the numbness of their near destruction had begun to fade away, her thoughts had begun turning to the fates of her mother and father.

"Pull yourself together, Delain!"

She whispered the words irritably, her voice harsh with self disgust. People were counting on her, and here she was wallowing in self pity. Pathetic. Her parents - whatever their fates - wouldn't have wanted this. They wanted - had always wanted - her to be strong, self sufficient. The sort of person each of them had been. Or still was.

"Commander Delain."

It was a tinny, faintly echoing voice that drew Katrina from her reflections, and she raised her head to stare up at one of the speakers mounted along the edge of the corridor.

"Commander Delain, please report to Admiral Reinhardt's quarters immediately."

Feeling a quizzical frown crease her brow, Katrina kept her gaze fixed on the speaker a moment longer, almost as though she were willing it to continue, to provide answers to her unspoken questions. No answers were forthcoming, however, and after but a moment she shook her head and glanced about, orientating herself as she shook off the funk that had carried her this far on autopilot. That done, she set off at a brisk stride, her steps carrying her confidently down the maze of corridors that led to the Admiral's quarters.

It was, in truth, a confidence which wasn't reflected in her heart.

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Re: That which is lost

Post by Katrina Delain on Thu Mar 26, 2015 9:59 pm

It didn't take long for Katrina to reach the Admiral's quarters. A minute, perhaps. Two at the outside. And then another minute was wasted outside as she made a show of checking her uniform was perfect, whilst inside her mind raced, wondering what it could be that had led to Admiral Reinhardt summoning her to his quarters.

Ultimately, there was only one way to find out.

Stifling a resigned sigh, Katrina reached out, pressing one finger firmly against the controls set beside the door. Instantly, the muffled tone of the chime could be heard through the door, and a mere moment later the Admiral's voice rang out.

"Enter."

With little alternative, the raven-haired commander obeyed, stepping forward as the door slid open, subtly studying the room beyond even as she snapped off a salute toward the steel-haired man who stood at the far side, silhouetted against the distant glow of the Hephaestus in the viewport. "Commander," the Admiral noted, returning her salute with one sharp enough to cut a bulkhead, "Thank you for coming so promptly. How was the chapel?"

Katrina felt her eyes narrowing at that remark. Was it a dig? A none-too-subtle reminder that he knew how she'd been spending her time? The thought was enough to ignite a spark of anger, but she bit it back; the Reinhardt wasn't that sort of man. He was straightforward almost to a fault; if he'd wanted to tell her to quit spending so much time in the chapel, he'd have done so without mincing his words. "Peaceful, sir," she answered after a moment's more hesitation than decorum allowed, not quite managing to keep her tone from sounding clipped.

If Reinhardt noticed that slip, however, he didn't comment on, but merely nodded, "Good, good." The old man was distracted by something, that much was plain to see, but Katrina didn't push him. He'd tell her what was on his mind soon enough, if that was indeed why he'd called her here.

"Tell me, Commander," Reinhardt continued after a moment's uncomfortable silence, having obviously used that time to decide to cut through the nonesense once more, "Where do your loyalties lie?"

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Re: That which is lost

Post by Katrina Delain on Fri Mar 27, 2015 10:42 pm

Stunned, her voice stolen away by the Admiral's words, Katrina stared across at her commander in horrified disbelief. "Where...?" she echoed a minute later, finally finding her voice, "Sir, you think I'm a traitor?"

Reinhardt smiled, but it was a cold, humourless gesture and Katrina took no comfort from it. "Katrina Delain," he noted, his tone suggesting that he was reciting the words by rote, "Twenty-eight years old. Commander, UEG Fleet. Only child of Sebastian and Eleanor Delain." Pausing, he arched an eyebrow, before adding, "I imagine that you can see why that last bit might cause some concern."

Sighing, Katrina shook her head. "With respect, sir, our mission was assigned to use by Consul Delain's government. By my father's government, as you have just highlighted. If anything, wouldn't my family connections mean I am more dedicated to the mission, not less?" She spoke the words evenly, fighting to keep the edge of incredulity from infecting her words, yet still she knew her disbelief was apparent - and why not? She'd fought loyally for the fleet during the scattering, staying true even when those she knew and respected were turning on one another.

"There are some, Commander," Reinhardt retorted, "Who would argue that it means you are likely to seize the Herakles and return to Earth at the first opportunity." His words stung Katrina, and she opened her mouth to refute them, only for Reinhardt to forestall her response with a raised hand. "I can't say I believe them, Commander," he continued, "As you had more than adequate opportunity when the fleet scattered. But you deserve to know what is being said, I feel. You will, after all, probably have to contend with it for the rest of your life." Wishing she could disagree with that, but knowing it would be meaningless to do so, Katrina merely grimaced and nodded. She'd suspected as much herself from some of the looks she'd been offered over the past few weeks, but hearing it said aloud granted the thought a distressing air of finality.

Perhaps sensing this, Admiral Reinhardt offered her a faintly sympathetic smile before he stepped across to his desk and gestured for her to sit down. "Now that you have some idea of what challenges await you personally, Commander," he remarked, his tone affable now if still businesslike, "Let us speak of the challenges that await our Expedition as a whole as we enter the years After Earth."

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Re: That which is lost

Post by Katrina Delain on Sun Mar 29, 2015 11:03 pm

Taking the offered chair across from her commanding officer, Katrina remained silent, expectant. Reinhardt had clearly anticipated this, for he paused but the barest moment before continuing to speak. "We are broken, Commander," he offered, startling her with his frankness, "And I don't mean physically - though that is true as well." His expression darkened at that last, memories of the four battleships and dozens of smaller vessels that had been lost to treachery and treason clearly assailing his mind. Not for the first time, she felt a pang of sympathy for him; losing all those ships had been hard enough for her, for any loyal officer of the fleet. But for Reinhardt? For the man whose responsibility those ships had been?

No, she couldn't imagine what that must feel like.

She didn't want to.

"But it is psychologically I mean now, Commander," the Admiral continued, barely skipping a beat despite all that he must have been feeling, "Our soldiers have seen their first conflict in space, and it was not the glorious defence of humanity against alien invaders that they were expecting. No, it was a continuation of the same damn conflict that has ravaged us since the dawn of time - the conflict of man against man. The conflict that was supposed to have died with the birth of the Unified Government." A trickle of anger - no, of fury - betrayed itself in Reinhardt's voice as he spoke, and he stopped himself as it mounted, raising a hand to pinch his brow. Half turning, he grabbed a pot of rapidly cooling caffeine from a sideboard and, turning back, poured out two small glasses.

Sliding one across to Katrina, he took up the other himself and drank it down in single gulp, before slapping his glass back down against his desktop. "I know you're aware of the morale issues aboard the Herakles, Commander," came his next words, little more than a sigh in truth, "And sadly, the same issues are playing out across the fleet. The enlisted men and women are lost, directionless, and the officers are little better." Katrina winced at that, knowing that she was no different from the other officers in that, but if Reinhardt noticed he was polite enough not to acknowledge it, merely continuing, "Half of them think we should turn around. Head back to Earth." Snorting, he shook his head. "Imagine. After all we've been through, turning back now. We wouldn't get half way to Mars before the fleet disintegrated."

"So what do we do?"

Hearing the words, Katrina almost glanced around before realising that they had slipped, unbidden, from her own lips. Embarrassed by the breach of decorum, she took up her glass, covering her flush by drinking the lukewarm caffeine contained within.

Reinhardt, for his part, didn't seem to mind. Indeed, he smiled, displaying white, perfectly even teeth. "We do what we were trained to do, Commander. We lead."

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Re: That which is lost

Post by Katrina Delain on Mon Apr 06, 2015 9:33 am

For a long moment after Reinhardt spoke, Katrina was silent, her thoughts turned inwards as the Admiral's words echoed in her mind.

We lead.

He was right. That was what they had been trained to do at the academy. Hell, she'd had more training in it than most; almost from birth, her tutors had striven to sculpt her into a leader in the image of her father. And what had she done the very moment she'd been called upon to demonstrate that their efforts hadn't been in vain? She'd faltered. Failed. Oh, in the heat of battle, with the adrenaline pumping through her veins and those near and dear to her dying all around, she'd done her duty and commanded the ship whilst Reinhardt co-ordinated the fleet. But afterward, when her blood had cooled?

No, she hadn't lead.

"I-," she began, only for her words to be cut off.

"No time for recrimination, Commander," the Admiral noted, not unkindly although still with an unmistakeable hint of rebuke to his tune, "Nor for self pity. We have a job to do in the here and now, and that's where our minds need to be focused. Understood?"

"Sir!" Katrina answered, nodding curtly even as she tried to push away the thoughts his words had first evoked. It was difficult, of course; they lingered at the edges of her mind even as she tried to turn her attention to more pressing matters, mixing and mingling with the grief that had already lurked there. Later, maybe, she'd visit one of the chaplains, see if she couldn't put voice to some of the shadows that haunted her. But for now she just closed her eyes, exhaled slowly, drawing upon a technique she'd been taught long ago to focus herself. A moment later, when she opened her eyes once more, she nodded again, slower this time, but more steadily. "How do you wish to proceed, sir?"

Now it was Reinhardt's turn to be silent a moment, his eyes studying her intently before his expression cracked with another glimpse of his smile. "I think we need to share what we've discussed with the rest of fleet command, Commander," he noted before, as he noticed her startled expression, remarking, "Not like that, Commander. I mean the message in general. You are not, after all, the only one of our command officers who's been struggling for direction since the battle. In fact, I'd go so far as to say you'd have been unique if you hadn't been. But that needs to end. We need to regroup."

A faint smile creeping across her face at her superior's confident words, Katrina rose and saluted sharply. "Understood, sir," she nodded, "I'll summon the fleet officers for a conference."

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Re: That which is lost

Post by Nik Rillians on Tue Apr 07, 2015 10:40 pm

"Any idea what this is about, sir?" Nik asked as he kept pace with Commander Dren. The Battleship Bellerophon was vast, the corridors numerous and winding. A newcomer might be overwhelmed by the challenge of navigating the ships innards but the XO and Battle Group Gammas Wing Commander had walked them so often since they set out from Earth, that their feet carried them instinctively toward the hangar bay.

"None. Only that all ship officers have been called to the Herakles ." Dren responded. The man had become cold, his voice almost devoid of emotion. Like a wall had fallen between him and everyone else. A common thing these days. Nik had killed more than a few men and women he had called friend during the uprising that nearly tore the ship, and the fleet, apart. It changed the way you looked at those you served with, there was always that slither of doubt in the back of your mind.

“Sounds ominous.” The pilot responded casually as they took the last turn onto the main corridor which would take them to the starboard flight-deck.

“Isn’t everything these days?” Nik wasn’t sure if the response was directed at him or if the XO had merely been speaking aloud but he couldn’t fault the thought. Their home turned to ash, betrayed and facing a threat that remained yet unknown, without the military might they had begun with.  


“Commander,” The Deck Chief snapped to attention and fell into stride beside them. “We have a shuttle prepped and ready for your departure.”

“Thank you.” They stepped through the side hatch of the shuttle and strapped themselves into their seats while the shuttle pilot breathed life into the crafts engines and set their nose toward the launch bay.
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Re: That which is lost

Post by Katrina Delain on Wed Apr 08, 2015 9:11 pm

Shuttles and escorts streaked through the starry void, carry the officers of the closest ships to the flight decks of the Herakles. More distant ships, like those belonging to Battlegroup Beta, would send their officers by different means - the vast distances their patrols covered meant their commanders would attend via vidconference, and so it was beams of light that bore them across the asteroid speckled night.

Aboard the proud flagship Herakles, Katrina had long finished such preparations as were necessary for the conference and now stood ready in the primary conference chamber. Banks of semi-transparent display units were arrayed around the edges of the room, still and silent for the moment, though that would change once Reinhardt began the conference. Then, they would spring to life, projecting blueish tinted depictions of the absent fleet commanders into the chamber. Chairs, the dull, foldaway sort finished in a dark gunmetal grey, awaited the officers who could attend in person, facing a solitary chair that had been placed just beside an immense display screen which dominated the foreward wall of the conference chamber. For the moment, that chair was empty, yet still it seemed to radiate a sense of authority.

Perhaps it had absorbed something of its sole user in these past few weeks.

The thought drew a faint smile to Katrina's features, the slightest hint of an upward quirk to her lips that vanished the very next moment as the doors swooshed open to admit a male lieutenant whose youthful features wore a thoroughly harried expression. "What do you have for me?" she asked as the man drew to a halt and snapped off a hurried salute.

"Bellerophon signals that all Battlegroup Gamma officers, barring those whose ships are on picket duty, are enroute, Commander," he answered smartly, "We estimate all will be aboard the Herakles within twenty standard."

Twenty earth standard minutes, Katrina mused, automatically filling in the blanks in the Lieutenant's last remark. Not long, but more than enough time to ensure everything was perfect. That was good; Katrina was adamant that everything be perfect for this conference. Captain Niall would be coming aboard, after all, and she'd be damned if she was going to give that smug old bastard an excuse for looking down on her ship.

"Alright," she nodded, smiling humourlessly, "Have the honour guard assemble in the primary flight deck, then run a sweep down the access corridors between there and here. Let's show Gamma why our girl's the fleet flagship."

Saluting, the lieutenant snapped his heels together and barked a quick, simply, "Aye, Sir," before turning about and hurrying away once more to see to his duties.

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