SIM:JP: Lts. Jackford Kolk & Jhen Thelev - The Nature of Command
((Double Shot, USS Ronin - Stardate 238503.10))
::Jhen wandered the short distance from his office to the Double Shot deep in thought. The conversation with his sister was still running through his head and it was helping him not think about other things. Jhen had mentioned the dead pilot to Frith, but there had been others, so many others, swept off the Flight Deck when the forcefield failed. If anything their deaths were even more of a waste... No. He wasn't ready to deal with the enormity of that yet. That stack of PADDs was in his office, too, but they were in a desk drawer, out of sight. And, for now, out of mind.::
::The crew lounge was pretty empty when the Andorian walked in. Jhen paused to look around - Danny Wilde was sitting at a table with the new helm officer, Garlone, and a few other familiar faces were scattered around. Oddly, there was no sign of Sarion, though. Jhen turned away from their gazes as he took a seat at one of the window tables, staring out through his own reflection at the infinity of stars.::
::Jack carried two travel mugs full of chocolate milk all the way from Engineering to the Double Shot. He was miserable, and the cool chocolatey taste soothed him. He thought about what he might order when he got there. Chocolate ice cream, maybe a chocolate shake. Maybe bacon. Who knew. Whatever he ordered, it wouldn't be healthy, but it would feel good doing down.::
::When he walked in, he saw Jhen sitting close to the windows and looking pensively out at the stars. It looked like they were both feeling about the same. He slid into a seat across from the Andorian.::
Kolk: Why the blue face?
::Jhen barely managed to stifle a grimace as he turned in his seat.::
Thelev: You know, people have died for less?
Kolk: ::Jack frowned.:: Sorry, just trying to lighten the mood.
Thelev: Sorry, Jack, it's me, I'm just not in a fun mood this evening. ::Looking over at his friend:: You?
Kolk: Oh me? I feel about as depressed as you look. Someone died under my command earlier.
Thelev: Yeah. Yeah I know.
Kolk: I don't know. It was going well, but...
Thelev: ::Nodding at the two cups on the table:: You brought chocolate milk? I was kind of fancying something a little stronger.
Kolk: Well, I'm planning to order anything chocolatey that I can think of...
Thelev: Sarion still keeps some real stuff back there, doesn't she?
Kolk: Yes, but be careful. Synak may be watching... ::realizing he'd told another joke:: Sorry. Habit.
Thelev: ::Making a face:: Oh please, if that Vulcan even thinks about crossing my path tonight....
Kolk: So, what's eating you tonight?
Thelev: ::Sighing:: D'Warte. The pilot. I don't know, Jack, I don't know if I'm cut out for this command business. Hell, I even considered leaving Starfleet about an hour ago ::holding up a hand:: But no fear, I've already been convinced otherwise. The guy wasn't even under my command, I only know what he looks like because his picture's on his personnel file. ::pauses:: How you coping?
::The name D'Warte hit Jack like a ton of bricks, guilt-filled bricks, but he tried to hide it and keep the focus on his friend.::
Kolk: Well, I've seen the counselor a couple times now and I've learned that talking through it is better than holding it in... What makes you think you're not cut out for command? oO I'm the one who got the man killed. Oo
::Jack grimaced at his own accusitory thought. He hadn't meant to emphasize the word "you're," but it'd happened. Part of Jack hoped Jhen wouldn't notice.::
Thelev: I don't know. We're in Starfleet, people die doing the jobs we do. I'm not sure if it's better or worse if it's someone I know, a friend, or a complete stranger. We've both been in life-or-death situations since we've been on the Ronin, but we came through. ::Jhen ran a hand through his short silver hair:: I'm just feeling guilty, the fact I'm still here and they're not. But the galaxy isn't a fair place.
::Jhen looked out of the window again as he spoke, slowly focusing his gaze on Jack's reflection. He knew Jack had been working in Flight Ops when they'd lost power and when they'd returned through the wormhole. The Andorian had spent enough time feeling sorry for himself. Mentally pulling himself together, Jhen turned back to his friend.::
::Jack had taken up looking out the window himself as his friend spoke. Guilty for being alive? Should he feel that way too? Moments before the report came in, Jack had been thrilled to be alive, but now...::
Thelev: So, the counselor advises against holding it all in?
Thelev: Sounds like good advice. You ever follow it?
Kolk: Sure. All the time.
Thelev: Jack, I'm not totally daft. Give me some credit, at least.
::Puposefully keeping his eyes on the stars, Jack feigned ignorance.::
Kolk: I already told you, I lost a man. But... I'm fine.
Thelev: You bounced in here holding two cups of chocolate milk. I might not be the most observant guy but I can tell when someone in my family isn't quite right.
::Jack finally looked at Jhen. Family? He'd always wanted a more normal family, but he knew it wasn't likely to happen. His father'd died too young, along with his only sister. His brother was a loner. His mother'd died this past year. And he... he was an officer who got people killed. Maybe Jarod was right: Starfleet kills people. He looked in Jhen's eyes, trying to gauge why he'd said that.::
Thelev: ::waving a hand dismissively:: Figure of speech. I just meant... Actually no, I guess I was right. Look, Andorians aren't always a very friendly bunch, but family is very important to us. And those friends we do have we think of as family. ::smiling slightly:: I've always been very protective of my little sister, just as my big sister has always been protective of me. And the same goes for the Ronin crew. There's a few onboard I'd consider second family, and whom I'd protect no matter what.
Kolk: ::quietly:: Well... I'm honored. I would say you're like a brother to me, but... until recently my brother was my least favorite person in the galaxy. ::smiling:: Aside from Synak, that is.
Thelev: ::grinning genuinely:: Now, now. I thought you weren't going to do that?
Kolk: Sorry. Defense mechanism, I guess.
Thelev: I'll let you off just this once. It's been a rough day for all of us, not just you and I. The whole crew's feeling it.
::Jack looked out the window again, beginning to face that fact that he hated himsefl right now.::
Kolk: Yeah, well, the whole crew didn't order a man to his death.
Thelev: ::quietly:: Neither did you, Jack. I read the report, it was an accident. You didn't know what was going to happen. Besides, what's the alternative? Ground the entire flight crew just in case? Encase us all in stasis fields? We know the risks we take, all of us do.
Kolk: I knew we had prototypes out there. I should've ordered them back in right away. They nearly got me killed, why would they be safe for anyone else?
::Jhen knew he had to be hard and lay the truth out where Jack could see it.::
Thelev: So? We needed everything out there and you knew that. If you had ordered the fighters back someone else might have died. You had no idea of what to expect because it was a completely unknown situation. I'm coming to realise just how much these pips mean, we don't get to just worry about ourselves anymore. We have to worry about those we command. And sometimes we'll make bad calls, and sometimes people might die as a result.
::Jack let Jhen's words sink in a bit as he stared out the window a bit more.::
Kolk: I suppose you're right, but... I still can't help but wonder if I'm truly cut out for it.
Thelev: Captain Mar clearly thinks we're worthy of it. So do Commander Walker and Lieutenant-Commander Maria. Otherwise we wouldn't be here even having this talk. They've placed their faith in us, in our ability to command. You made the right decision.
::Wheeler was beginning to come into view, with the sun just peeking out over the curved horizon. It was truly stunning, and Jack couldn't help but wonder if the perfect timing was a sign that Jhen was right.::
Kolk: Thanks. ::looking at him, for just a moment:: You did too.
Thelev: I'm glad you agree. Now, then, I think we need to move on, Lieutenant Kolk.
Kolk: ::not wanting to look away from the beauty outside:: Yeah? What'd you have in mind?
Thelev: Well, it just so happens that I know of a stash of Romulan Ale down in Cargo Bay 3.
::Laughing but still looking at the stellar sight, Jack waited till the sun was too bright to keep looking before he spoke.::
Kolk: Why's it down there?
Thelev: Because I stashed it there, of course. The Captain had asked me to provision the ship for any eventuality, and I still have a few contacts around. Anyway, that's besides the point. There are, I think, half a dozen bottles in there. What say you and I open a couple?
Kolk: Well... normally I stick to chocolate and vodka, but... we've got a few troubles to forget tonight.
Thelev: Then lead on. Tonight we'll do a damn good job of forgetting. Tomorrow we can start afresh - professionally and all command-like. And if we get stuck, or something bad happens, we'll deal with it.
Kolk: ::smiling at his friend now.:: Sounds good... Brother.
::Each taking another glance at the astounding glory of the sunrise over Wheeler, now dimmed by the automatic tinting of the windows, the two Lieutenants strolled out of the Double Shot to drown their sorrows the old-fashioned Romulan way. If they'd known Commander Walker better, perhaps they would've invited him to join them, but... they didn't. Oh well; his loss.::
|Lieutenant Jhen Thelev
Chief of Operations
USS Ronin NCC-34523
|Lieutenant Jackford Kolk
USS Ronin NCC-34523
The Whole Kitten Cab-oodle