CO Captain Kathryn Harper

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Rhodri's Angels, Part One

Postby Luceo » Wed Aug 19, 2015 1:57 am

by Rhodri Griffiths, Alexis Wright, and Kathryn Harper

Once they had received the illicit communications information from Ilaihr, Kathryn Harper and Alexis Wright had proceeded back to the transport hub and beamed to another tourist magnet city on the other side of Risa. After finding a relatively secluded communications terminal, they followed the instructions and set up a covert commlink targeting the Kobliad system, specifically the USS Jörmungandr with attention to Captain Rhodri Griffiths.

Griff turned in his chair as the priority communication came through, flagging up on his console with an Obsidian Order reference. Frowning, he checked that the encryption was good, made sure that the Cardassians would only be listening to gibberish, and flicked on the return audio.

Harper's voice came over the commlink with only a slight bit of interference from the encryption. "Captain, this is Commander Harper and Lt. Commander Wright, and due to the method we were forced to employ to contact you, we must be brief. Because of the planetary lockdown, we are unable to leave Risa and require assistance in procuring transport to Kobliad." The fast, clipped cadence of her accented English served as an advantage in this situation, with time as a limiting factor.

“Commanders, we were expecting you to be on your way by now - I heard what happened on Risa; it is good to hear from you. You say we don’t have much time so I’ll try to be succinct. The shuttle we had earmarked for you, the Seraphim, is still on the surface. Give me fifteen minutes to push your S.T.A.R. credentials through to Fleet Security and we should be able to get you on your way.” His fingers worked over the console in front of him, doing just that, and he continued on in as focused a voice as possible. “Make your way to Paradise Starport. I’ll see if I can have the shuttle pilot meet you there - we’ll talk more once you’re en route.”

The allotted time was slowly ticking down. Lexy furtively looked over her shoulder and turned back to Kate with a hushed whisper. “Twenty seconds. Then we need to get out of here, and quickly.” She shifted her feet nervously, listening for any approaching footsteps.

Conscious of the time, Harper kept her reply short. "Thank you, Captain. We will make contact following our successful departure."

Griff nodded, not wanting to waste any more time and assuming the two officers on the other end felt the same way as the comm abruptly cut off, replaced once more with the UFP symbol rotating slowly on his terminal.

The sound of boots converging on their location spurred Lexy into action, and she grabbed Kate’s arm and pulled. “We need to go. Now.”

"No arguments here," Kate agreed as they left the scene of the crime, finding a crowd to blend in with while making their way back toward the transport hub.
"Come let us sail the boundless sea..."

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Re: NAV Commander Kathryn Harper

Postby Liz White » Thu Aug 20, 2015 1:52 am

Mission successful!
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Rhodri's Angels, Part Two

Postby Luceo » Thu Aug 20, 2015 3:59 pm

by Rhodri Griffiths, Alexis Wright, and Kathryn Harper

Some time after they made their way past the blockade in Risa's orbit and had warped into the vast sea of stars, Kate once again called up the USS Jörmungandr. Fortunately, illicit communication methods were no longer required.

“Captain, there’s an incoming message from the shuttle Seraphim.” The Jörmungandr floated serenely at the makeshift outpost around Kobliad IV, the bridge crew going about their business in a calm manner, despite the underlying tension that felt almost tangible - every hour that ticked down was an hour closer to Sigma Rho.

“Put them through, Ensign.” Griff spoke as he turned his chair back towards the viewscreen, his attention once more drawn away from the myriad of reports coming in from across the sector. He watched as the starfield was replaced with the image of Commander Harper. The image expanded as Wright leaned into view.

A touch of a smile graced the captain’s visage, lightening the bags beneath his eyes. “It’s good to hear from you. I couldn’t get in touch with our pilot and assumed the worst, but I’m glad you’ve all made it out in one piece. Status report?”

"Captain," Harper began with a slight bow of her head, "unfortunately, we could not locate the pilot either, but are presently at warp en route to Kobliad with all systems nominal."

The captain tilted his head slightly, a ghost of a frown on his face - “Lieutenant Harris - he isn’t with you?” He looked down at the console on his arm rest as he spoke, quickly bringing up his reports from Risa looking for any mention of the wayward lieutenant.

"No, sir. He was not at the shuttle. We waited as long as we feasibly could, but were forced to leave." It was not a decision Harper had enjoyed having to make.

Wright’s brow furrowed with concern and she nodded, adding, “We just ran out of time, sir.”

Griff turned back to the viewscreen with a nod. “Understood, I’ll petition to Starfleet to see if we can get some more information or a warm body on the ground. I don’t like that one of my officers is missing.”

Harper nodded empathetically. "Understandable. Leaving someone behind was not our first choice. I regret that it has suddenly become a cause for concern on my homeworld."

“I understand how that might feel. Don’t worry, we’ll find out what happened to Lieutenant Harris; likely he just got caught up in whatever this mess is that Starfleet is trying to clean up. I trust both of you made it off without too much trouble?”

A tinge of irritation had crept into Harper's voice from the thought of having been treated like a prisoner on her home planet, by people wearing the same uniform as her. "Yes. For certain values of trouble."

“It certainly wasn’t a scenario which I would wish to repeat,” Wright said somewhat bitterly from the next seat. “But we’re on our way now, and that’s the important thing. Thank you for your assistance in getting us out of there, Captain.” Chuckling, she continued, “We needed help escaping from paradise so we could go on a death-defying mission instead. Something might be wrong with us.”

A quick grin flashed across the grizzled captain’s face, washing away the dark look as if it was never there. “Perhaps, but you didn’t hear that from me. I must admit, I’m surprised any one of you volunteered for this mission - altruism must be at an all time high in Starfleet right now. But we’re...I’m glad to have you with us. This mission won’t succeed unless we have the best of each field, and you’re two of the best.”

Kate had never considered herself to be among the best at anything, but had to admit that her piloting skills had indeed developed immensely during her seven years as Atlantis's CAG. Prideful considerations aside, she certainly had no desire to dwell on her motivations for accepting this assignment, so she simply offered a gracious smile and nod. "Thank you, sir."

Lexy was not surprised by Captain Griffith’s assertion, as she had received that feedback before during her time in academia. Her time as a scientist in the real world, however, had tempered her perception of herself, and she was no longer as confident in her abilities as she once might have been. This assignment also offered challenges that she’d never encountered before, and her feelings about them vacillated between excitement and uncertainty. Those mixed emotions were reflected in the tight smile she gave as she also nodded, echoing Kate’s sentiment, “Thank you, sir.”

Tapping out familiar commands on his console, the Welshman checked the encryption and forwarded along the same mission package every other team member had received by this point. “I’m sending along what you’ll need to brush up on the objectives and the mission zone, as well as the available resources at your disposal. You’ll be briefed fully when you arrive at the Jörmungandr. Then the real work begins.”

With a glance down at the console, Harper confirmed the package's arrival. "We have it. If there is nothing else, sir, we will begin reviewing this."

Rhodri shook his head at the question. “Unless either of you have questions, I’ll leave you to your flight - we’ve all got work to be done.”

The two women looked at each other and shook their heads, then back to the viewscreen. "No, sir, no questions," Harper answered, and then added in Welsh, "Diolch yn fawr."

His face lit up at hearing his native language, a grin touching his lips. “Hwyl fawr am nawr, Commanders. Safe trip.”

"Seraphim out," Kate signed off, transferring the mission packets to two separate PADDs as the viewscreen went dark. A long flight ahead of them, the pair began to pass the hours in studious preparation for the perilous days to come.
"Come let us sail the boundless sea..."

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Terms of Endearment

Postby Luceo » Thu Nov 19, 2015 1:59 am

by Alexis Wright and Kathryn Harper

Under a tree-framed canopy of stars, Kate and Lexy reclined alone in the bubbling hot tub of a bed and breakfast in Big Sur, the heat of the water offering a pleasant contrast to the crisp autumn night air. Lexy, however, was having a hard time relaxing. There was something that had been gnawing at the back of her mind for days now, and time was running short… nervous though she was, she decided to broach the subject. Steeling herself, she moved closer to her lover in the semi-darkness. “Kate?”

“Mmm?” came Kate’s reply, her voice drowsy and relaxed.

“I’ve been thinking,” Lexy began slowly, trying to string her thoughts together, “The last few weeks have been amazing, like nothing I’ve ever experienced.” Even though she’d rehearsed this many times in her head, it was surprisingly difficult to put into words. “It almost feels like a dream… and don’t laugh, but I’m kind of afraid that once we get back to our normal lives, I’m going to wake up and it’ll all vanish like a puff of smoke.” She made a gesture with her hands like smoke dispersing in the wind.

Kate had already put some thought into this matter, but was unsure of how to communicate her feelings, fearing an adverse reaction from Lexy. For now, perhaps the easy answer would be enough. "We knew each other for five years before becoming a couple. During that time, we became increasingly close friends, spending more time with each other, and even taking shore leaves together. This relationship is really just a natural progression from that, and since our normal lives brought us together in the first place, why fear their return?"

“I know, you’re right, I guess I just… all of our time as a couple, has been… separate. From that. You know? I fear their return because when we were last in our normal lives, we didn’t have this. I don’t want to go back to that life, Kate.” Under the bubbling water, Lexy reached for Kate and snuggled against her, the nervous fluttering in her stomach reaching a crescendo. “I want this. I want you.”

Startled by Lexy's unambiguous admission, Kate bit her lower lip and realized that she could no longer put off a difficult admission of her own, a necessity that she'd decided on a few days prior that was the crux of her uncertainty.


After a pleasant dinner and some lively conversation, Bill Wright reluctantly excused himself for the evening. Kate found herself in the sitting room alone, Lexy having stepped out briefly for refreshments, and she took the opportunity to get a closer look at some of the pictures displayed around the room. When Lexy returned, Kate was standing before a relatively recent photo of Lexy and her mother laughing together.

“That was taken the last time I ever saw her, just before I left for my assignment to the Atlantis,” Lexy explained, handing Kate a hot cup of tea. “Did you know, she was the one who encouraged me to break away from academia? If it wasn’t for her, you and I would probably have never met.” Her eyes were wistful as she added, “I wish you could have met her… I think she would have adored you.”

Kate accepted the cup and gave the picture a thankful look. "She really was beautiful, and it would seem that I owe her gratitude for more than just being your mother."

That statement filled Lexy’s stomach with a surge of warmth… and how did those butterflies get in there again? She took a slow sip of her tea to calm her nerves.

Oblivious to Lexy’s reaction, Kate then turned to a portrait of all three Wright children in front of the Eiffel Tower. "And this must be you and your brothers?"

“Yep. That’s my little big brother Bryan, and that’s my big big brother James,” Lexy said, pointing at each of them in turn. “And the little one, of course, is me.”

"Of course it is, I mean, look at you!" Kate turned back to Lexy, beaming with delight. "I would recognize those eyes and that smile anywhere. So cute!"

Lexy laughed, blushing at the compliment. Damn those butterflies! “I felt the same way looking at your pictures. At any age, you were always unmistakably you!”

During their time on Risa, Kate's mother had, of course, shown Lexy an entire childhood worth of pictures, from the standard naked infant in the bath through an array of sporting events, music recitals, and science fairs. Kate did not find this to be embarrassing, and leaned warmly into Lexy at its recollection while she admired its parallel on the wall before her.

Thinking back over their time together so far, Kate began to realize how quickly they had gotten to the point of family introductions and childhood picture-swapping. The swift increase in physical intimacy, while normal for a Risan couple, had been a surprise to Kate only because of Lexy's initial trepidation with it. However, the more she thought about the look in those big blue-hazel eyes as they gazed up at her, the more Kate was certain that Lexy was becoming smitten with her. While that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, Kate found that such intense initial fascination often led to short-term infatuation, which was not her interest at this stage of her life, and was certainly not her motivation for turning this long friendship into romance. Her hopes were to build something real with Lexy, and she couldn't help but wonder if Lexy knew what that took beyond the opening burst of passion. No, she decided, things would have to change – but the hard part would be breaking it to Lexy.


"I want this too, Lexy." Kate's voice trailed off as she delayed the inevitable but in an effort to find the best way to explain her feelings. "But getting back to some semblance of normalcy is a good thing. Our relationship needs the opportunity to develop without the spectre of an extraordinarily dangerous mission or an ongoing war looming over it. Potentially impending disaster led us straight into a later chapter and we skipped the beginning. We need a chance to… well, date, and really get to know each other under this new light.."

The pit of Lexy’s stomach abruptly dropped as, in her mind, the intimacy that had developed between them suddenly evaporated and her fears became real. Shrinking away, she stammered, “A-Are you saying… the past few weeks have been… a mistake?”

"No, not at all!" Kate's hands found Lexy's under the water and gave a reassuring squeeze. "Quite the contrary, since I am not sure how else our fledgling romance could have survived that situation without finding solace in one another to cope with it as we did. But now, I think slowing down and going back to the parts that my awful timing in accepting that mission deprived us of would be ideal."

Lexy frowned, brows furrowed with uncertainty. Her inexperience in these matters left her ill-equipped to handle this, and she instead turned to definitions and parameters, which is what she knew best. “So… what would that mean, exactly? What is acceptable and what is not?”

"Very little needs to change; we can still see each other often and we can still spend the night together when the mood strikes us. We simply have a little more of our own time, that is all." Kate's face remained hopeful and encouraging despite feeling a bit selfish for having brought this up.

Lexy’s expression was serious in the dim light, and she was in full scientist mode when she spoke. “So what you’re saying is, you want the same level of intimacy, but you want to reduce our time spent together from 100%, which is artificially high due to external influences, to perhaps 70%, which, assuming our relationship progresses successfully, will gradually increase back to current levels over time? Is that accurate?”

Kate was unable to suppress her laughter at the wholly scientific approach to the most unscientific of things. After a few mirthful moments, she finally answered, "Forgive my laughter, please, I did not mean to offend. That was just so… scientific! And yes, I suppose your analysis is technically correct."

Quietly regarding Kate, her sober expression unchanged, Lexy carefully considered her situation. Her true feelings ran deep and passionate; she suspected she was falling in love, but chose to keep that to herself for the time being, since she was now fairly certain that it wasn’t yet reciprocated. Her heart ached at the sudden realization, but she forced herself to focus on the ‘yet’. Given all of the variables, Kate was right - it would be better to slow down and build a strong foundation. It was just so hard to wait when you longed to be living in the house. Reconciling herself to reality, Lexy eventually nodded. “Very well. I accept your terms.” For now, she thought to herself, determined to win Kate over. “Would you… want this to begin immediately?”

Rather relieved at Lexy’s rational response, Kate shook her head. "No, we are still on leave together, so let us indulge ourselves a little longer, until we return to duty." She offered a reassuring smile and still holding her hands under the water, pulled Lexy closer again. "I think we need it after what we went through, and, well… I do enjoy this, even if I want to slow things down a bit. Please do not think otherwise."

Cautious hope flooded into Lexy in response to Kate’s words and actions. Maybe she wasn’t being pushed away after all? She found all of this very confusing, but decided to simply follow Kate’s cues until she had a chance to pick it all apart later. She allowed herself to be pulled closer, but her mind continued to race.

Kate laughed softly. “Are you still analyzing? I can almost hear the feels yearning inside your head.”

Lexy had a moment of panic before realizing that this was another of Kate’s mangled idioms. “I think you mean ‘wheels turning’. And as for analyzing, sorry, it’s just… who I am. If you’re really serious about dating someone like me… you may have to get used to this sort of thing.”
"Come let us sail the boundless sea..."

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Sharks of a Feather

Postby Luceo » Wed Dec 02, 2015 7:05 pm

by Kathryn Harper and T'Lira

T'Lira paced in front of the door to Commander Harper's temporary office aboard the prototype USS Odyssey, mentally laying out how she predicted this conversation would pan out. There were several different ways this could lead, and at least a third of them were most likely incorrect and would be in need of further evaluation if she chose to remain in the hallway and not simply walk in. On second thought, perhaps walking in and "getting it over with" would be the best option here.

Inside the office, Kathryn Harper was engrossed in one of several PADDs that littered the desk. Most contained profiles of candidate pilots that could potentially help in rebuilding her decimated fighter wing. A few she had already accepted, but several more had been declined. Perhaps her standards were artificially high after having to perform this task once before, but in her mind she owed that to people who she'd ask to fly into hell.

The door chime interrupted her deliberations, and she simply answered, "Come in."

T'Lira took a silent breath and stepped in. "Commander? Do you have a free moment?"

Kate's expression brightened upon seeing T'Lira; she may not have known the Vulcan lieutenant long, but flying together in combat tended to form bonds. Since returning from her special assignment, Kate had not gotten the chance to speak with T'Lira beyond greetings in passing on the bridge. "T'Lira! Of course, please, come in and have a seat."

With a slight nod, T'Lira sat down and reiterated her entire statement in her head before actually speaking. "There is a matter of some import that I must speak with you about."

"Alright. I hope things have gone well for you while I was away?" Kate laid the PADD aside amongst the others and turned back to T'Lira, smiling affably.

"Things have gone well, in more than one way," T'Lira replied, still struggling to find a way to say what she needed to.

Kate leaned forward on the desk. "That is good to hear. Please, do tell me what is so important."

It took a moment of deliberation, but for once, T'Lira decided to truly throw caution to the wind, or so the saying went. "I am... I am pregnant, Commander."

And after that registered, it was probably a small miracle that her internal horror didn't show on her face. At least, she hoped it didn't. After all, that was not quite the way one went about saying such things to a superior officer.

Surprise registered on Kate's face as she stood quickly. "You are?! Congratulations!" Sitting back down again, a wide smile replaced the surprise as she explained, "I would hug you, but I doubt you would like that. Anyway, I am surprised that the Admiral gave his consent to stop the c-shot at such a time, but how wonderful for you that he did!"

"That is one problem... this was not permitted. I will admit to have broken at least one regulation, if not more. I will have to review the pertinent regulations," T'Lira admitted, rather surprised by the reaction from Commander Harper. Most unexpected.

"Ohhhh, I see now why you were so hesitant," Kate replied as the ramifications of what had happened dawned on her. "I imagine that you have already been reprimanded and lectured, perhaps even repeatedly."

“You would not be wrong,” T’Lira said simply, “I was also ordered off of any extravehicular missions until told otherwise by medical, which would most likely be after the baby is born.”

Kate nodded her understanding and reflected on the situation for a moment before speaking. Of course, regulations were made to be followed, and the one T'Lira had broken was certainly important given the operating environment of a starship. But this starship's crew had suffered so much death lately, and at least to her, news of a new life could only be celebrated after such trauma. Finding out about the pregnancy must have been stressful enough without the military rules heaping derision on the woman, and right now, Kate could find only sympathy within herself for T'Lira's position.

Reminding herself that there was another reason for her empathetic reaction, Kate decided to convey it first. "You likely expected another such lecture from me, but I will not admonish you, since I believe you have been through enough of that. T'Lira… you saved my ass out there at 621. I will never be able to thank you enough for that, even if it is what we expect of one another in the Sharks." She clasped her hands and continued. "I owe you one, and perhaps sparing you the disciplinary action is that repayment. Although, given my current mindset, I suspect that even had you not just saved my life, I would still be happy for you – assuming that this is what you want."

“While I admit this was quite a surprise, I believe I am… happy. I do appreciate the lack of a lecture, I believe there is little to be said that Doctor Kymar or Admiral Blackthorne have not already covered,” T’Lira was quite relieved at this point, not that she’d ever admit it out loud, of course. “As for the matter of 621, you are a fellow crewmate. Not assisting you would have been quite a serious mistake on my part.”

"One that I am grateful to you for not making, duty or not." Glancing at the pile of PADDs, then back to T'Lira, she continued, "So many have died and you are bringing us new life. I am unable to do anything but applaud that. While the Sharks will sorely miss your piloting skill for now, you will be welcomed back once you are cleared. But if you do not wish to return, especially after how bad it was out there and with a newborn to consider, I will understand."

"At this moment, I would gladly rejoin the Sharks at that time. However, that view may change. I believe I will have an answer when the time comes," T'Lira kept her gaze level. Perhaps she would indeed return to the Sharks. But perhaps not. As the phrase went, only time will tell.

"Of course," Kate answered with an understanding nod. "You must do what is best for you and your family, and I will support you in that decision. But for now, regardless of your flight status, you are still one of my pilots, and I will help you however I can. Please do not be afraid to ask if you need anything."

T'Lira raised an eyebrow, "To be afraid of requesting assistance is most illogical, though I will certainly keep the offer in mind. Thank you."

A wry grin made its way across Kate's face. "I am not a mother and do not know how it is for Vulcan women, but from what I hear, your logic may soon be tested."

“That is a thought I would prefer not to contemplate at this time,” T’Lira replied, mildly affronted that it would even be possible for logic to be tested in quite such a fashion.

"Well, whatever happens," Kate began, chuckling slightly at the classic Vulcan deadpan, "I wish you the best, Sehlat."
"Come let us sail the boundless sea..."

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Re: NAV Commander Kathryn Harper

Postby James Greenman » Wed Dec 02, 2015 7:55 pm

That was thoroughly enjoyable to read. It's good to see a pair of comrade-in-arms celebrating (in a way - happy, at least), I'm looking forward to more of it over the coming 9 months! :toot:
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Re: NAV Commander Kathryn Harper

Postby Holly Kolodziejczak » Wed Dec 02, 2015 7:56 pm

Way to make a CSO feel guilty for planning to discipline T'Lira, guys... ;)

But seriously, well done. I'm sure someone in a position of authority reacting positively to the news was most pleasant!
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Re: NAV Commander Kathryn Harper

Postby Vanessa Brinkman » Wed Dec 02, 2015 8:06 pm

Holly Kolodziejczak wrote:Way to make a CSO feel guilty for planning to discipline T'Lira, guys... ;)

But seriously, well done. I'm sure someone in a position of authority reacting positively to the news was most pleasant!

:: melts into the woodwork at the mention of discipline :: :buddy:
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Re: NAV Commander Kathryn Harper

Postby Luceo » Wed Dec 02, 2015 8:26 pm

It was fun getting to have two characters react completely differently to the news, too. Thanks!
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Death Sentences

Postby Luceo » Wed Dec 09, 2015 11:17 pm

Commander Kathryn Harper awoke with her cheek partially resting on a PADD; its imprint reddened her pale skin as she lifted her head to get her bearings. The only light in her temporary quarters aboard the Odyssey came from the holo-projections of the computer, which helpfully provided the time: 0243. She rubbed her face and eyes and blinked a few times, then looked around. The faint glow illuminated her desk which was covered in a chaotic jumble of PADDs, along with a half-empty bottle of whisky and a glass with a finger of the amber liquid still remaining. As she took the glass and swallowed its contents with a slight grimace, she remembered why she had fallen asleep here – the seemingly impossible task of rebuilding the 42nd Fighter Wing.

The first half of the bottle had apparently fueled her earlier search efforts, but she had must have gotten sidetracked, as evidenced by the computer's display of the names of the deceased. As her mind cleared, Kate began to absently look at some of the PADDs without really seeing them. After going through so many applicants the profiles seemed to blur together, and she dropped the PADDs back on the desk in frustration. With a deep sigh, she poured another few fingers from the bottle, once again seeking its refuge to escape the ghosts of the dead, as had become her habit since the war's end.

Doctor Kymar had declared her to be in perfect physical health, even after all she had been through in the past few months. Tears threatened to escape the corners of her eyes as they narrowed at the list of the dead while she growled, "Perfect. Fucking. Health! What the hell did I do to deserve that, when none of them apparently did?" Kate took a generous drink and chided herself for even entertaining such a ridiculous notion as supernatural universal karma. She was no more or less deserving of life than her wingmates, but through some combination of skill and chance, she sat here and they were dead, and neither the universe nor any gods gave a shit. Unfortunately, in the face of another wave of self-doubt, this burst of reason faded quickly and did nothing to stop the guilt for simply living from threatening to crush her.

And of course, on her desk sat many more asking to take their places, volunteering to join a force that had been decimated twice in the past few years. To Kate, at this point, it seemed like a suicide mission. Of course, she understood why they kept signing up. Even after seven years as CAG, flying such a high performance machine was still an almost sexual rush for her; the visceral thrill of its responses to her desires along with the feedback of the ensuing G-forces made her feel particularly aware of being alive. Finishing the glass and pouring another, she leaned back in her chair and mused that for some, a shorter, fully-realized existence might be preferable to a longer, average life.

That sentiment didn't assuage the feeling that choosing someone to join the Sharks was to sentence them to death. She had already outright declined most of the candidates' applications, perhaps unreasonably, and had only accepted the best of the best in hopes that they would be the most likely to survive. Admiral Blackthorne had already challenged her rejection of one Second Lieutenant Kimiko Suzuki, who had apparently demonstrated exemplary skill in piloting the prototype stealth ship Aquarius during the wargame they had conducted during her absence. Kate had rejected the fresh Academy graduate for relative inexperience in the field, but the once the Admiral questioned her decision, she grudgingly relented.

Kate's standards were high, but she respected Blackthorne's judgement of skill. After all, he had survived his career as a fighter pilot. Would she? Given the injuries she had sustained on the bridge, she once thought herself safer in a Mustang than aboard Atlantis, but after several close calls in the cockpit, Kate couldn't help but to wonder how she could possibly have survived what she already had, much less what the future could bring. The tears finally began to flow at the thought of dying when she had so much to live for. Her career, her parents, and now Lexy, all so important to her, but Kate found herself no more deserving than any of the lost, who also presumably had lived for someone or something. It felt wrong to allow herself the happiness they could not have, and in the chaos of her emotional state, she couldn't distinguish between the feelings that she should have died with her comrades, the guilt for recruiting and training them, and the terror of that death actually happening.

Kate emptied her drink once more and turned off the computer's display, no longer able to bear the sight of the list. Her fingers unconsciously released their hold on the glass, which fell to the floor and bounced, landing unnoticed on its side. She buried her head in her arms on the desk, and grasped with one hand for the bottle as her tears turned to deep choking sobs. Sleep would not come until her tears and whisky were exhausted, the alcohol's path to merciful oblivion providing some measure of respite from the emotional tempest.
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