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Cptn Corizon

"I'll Drink to That"

With much thanks to my co-author Brad aka Hayden


The decks of the Cold Harbor were insanely quiet. Granted, given the seriousness of the situation looming before them, he couldn't blame anyone for wanting to sit back and relax before imminent destruction. It was such a pessimistic attitude to have, but it was all too true. Captain Hayden Spryer, in only his third year as commanding officer, had already circled the decks three times and found nothing but the occasional one-on-one conversation or people diligently working.


He did have a good crew and he was proud of all of them, but knew that with the ensuing conflict lying ahead, many good people would meet unfortunate fates. Nearing midnight, the increasingly restless captain retired to his quarters. With sleep in his head, he somehow managed to find himself staring out into the stars and watching the other ships float by. So many ships, so many lives. He wondered how many were just as exhausted and unable to sleep. And, he sighed.


The transporter deposited Corizon firmly on the decks of the Cold Harbor with the familiar whirl of his atoms being reconstructed. On some level, he'd always hated transporter technology, but he appreciated it's convenience too. Tucking a PADD and wrapped package under his left arm he nodded to the officer on duty.


Cold Harbor's corridors stood much more silent than his own, which were filled with the clanking and shrills of repairs. It was an eerie silence, none the less he continued unperturbed towards his final destination.


Clanging the top of the scotch bottle against the rim of his glass, Hayden smiled internally. The last drink? His mind lingered as he sipped it delicately. His eyes caressed the pictures on the table behind the couch. Those frames had been replaced so many times. Too many battles, too many skirmishes, too many times had he walked into his quarters to glass scattered wall to wall. Hayden replaced every frame, every time.


Laura's smile still encouraged him when he was low or unsure how to handle a situation. Alex's smile, sparkling the only way a son's smile can, was light when it was dark. Hayden was always a sentimental man, but liked to think that it was more finding brilliance in the seemingly insignificant instead glorified emotion. Those days were gone now. All gone with the exception - the constant reminder - of the pictures gracing the decorum of his quarters.


Flicking his ears at the sounds of the corridor, Corizon sighed to himself. It had been such a very long set of months. He longed for the days when all he had to worry about was the Spoonheads or the Pointy -ears. Things were so much more complicated than they used to be, back when he was young. Young. He smiled at that thought—he was never young was he?


Arriving at his destination he took a deep breath and rang the chimes.


Hayden was so engrossed in the enthralling taste of his alcohol he almost didn't hear the chime. It threw him for a second. He rubbed stressed and exhausted look off his face and picked up a PADD. If it was a senior staff member wanting some insight on a problem he wanted to look as if he was working on something. "Come in," he called out more nonchalantly than usual, but began pouring through his PADD. It was a to-do list. Number one, clean the bathroom. Number two, fix the replicator. He chuckled, no one would be any the wiser.


Corizon took a few steps in, and waited patiently, trying hard to keep a straight face. “It occurs to me, that it is standard procedure to greet the commanding officer of a fleet when he comes aboard, or at least offer him a drink.”


Looking up just slightly over the PADD, Hayden smirked. "It occurs to me that when someone, like me, gets a command that is customary to send him a bottle of wine, or at least a congratulations. Three years, Captain. We could just call this even." Standing, he moved over to his friend, "It's good to see you. In person, that is."


The Dameon wore a fangy grin that had not appeared in some days. Like a rare bird or animal, or an alien that only was in the mood once every seven years, the smile seemed to be something truly special.”Perhaps,” he said grinning wider. “How about orders and bottle of Bloodwine the Governor K'Vorlag owed me?”


"A real man never turns down a free drink, my friend, never." He motioned for the Captain to sit and returned to his seat on the couch, polishing off his amber-colored liquid in one ever-burning swallow. There was an almost awkward silence for a moment. "How long have you served on the Excalibur in a command position now?"


Corizon sat down, placing the Bloodwine on the table along with the PADD. “Counting the time I nearly blew it up and we were on Morningstar? Nearly a year.”


"And how many crew have you lost?"


His smile faded starkly. Losing people wasn't something he talked about—ever. Of course when you'd been at it as long as he had, you really stopped counting. “Honestly,” Corizon said softly, “I don't know. I stopped counting a long time ago. Some where between the Academy and the Dominion War I gave up trying to remember.”


Hayden nodded absently, suddenly drowning in the thoughts of his past, of the present, and his indeterminate future. Grabbing the bottle he quickly filled up the glasses and handed one to his long-time friend. "Seventy-three on the Cold Harbor since this damn situation started. Counting the abandonment of the Orion during the Maquis conflict and the Oasis during the Dominion War... I've lost a total of three hundred and six."


Taking a glass in his hand, he knocked it back with scary precision—this was a man who knew what he was doing. “Well there's the entire population of a few planets, no doubt a few thousand Starfleet ground troops, and the crews of dozens of ships I sent into battle that never returned home. Somewhere along the way I stopped being able to keep track of them all.”


“And none of that,” he said filling his own glass again, “counts what's going to happen tomorrow.”


He sighed heavily. "I'm sorry, Corizon. It's been weighing on my mind and heart lately. Don't know why, but it has." He took the last sip of his first glass, having nursed it a little more than his counterpart. Filling it once again, he leaned back into the cushion, smiling as he sipped. "So, you know what the assessments are, what kind of losses are we lookin' at? I'd bet money on sixty percent of the fleet. Less than five percent of that rescued in escape pods. And, my guess is that we'll owe a crap load to the Klingons, Romulans, and the Vorta."


“Frankly,” Corizon tipped the glass back. “The assessments be damned. If I have to throw every last ship at the Scorpiads to stop them from getting that fleet through wormhole I will. As the Governor K'Vorlag is fond of reminding me...today is good day to die, but tomorrow is always better.”


"A poet." Hayden said, smiling a little more. "You said something about orders. Tell me that you're ordering me and my crew to a month-long holiday on Risa or some reprieve from this hell hole of a quadrant. I even think, in the name of my ship's morale, that I may be willing to offer you a bribe."


“When this is all over,” Corizon smiled, “You can get in line for the people I owe drinks to.


“In the meantime,” he said pushing the PADD towards his old friend, “The Cold Harbor will be taking a flanking position along the outer positions of the fleet, you along with a handful of Birds of Prey and Dominion attack ships will be the eyes of the fleet. I want you too keep an eye out for any think they have coming at us. God only knows what those arachnid bastards have planned.”


Captain Spryer acknowledged without much of a second glance. It was his usual role. His ship wasn't equipped to battle with the top ships in another's fleet. It wasn't built for reconnaissance, stealth penetration, or defense. No, the Cold Harbor was built to be extra muscle when it was needed. She was the standard 'little bit of everything' starship. Jack of all trades, master of none. "Understood. God, I hate talking about work. There should be a law that when you leave your post that any talk has to be about something non-work related."


"Amen to that," Corizon took another drink of Bloodwine. "To bad the only thing I get done these days is plan ways for people to die."


"That's war."


"Whats that godforsaken French phrase..."


"c'est la vie?”


He laughed out loud. "Ah, the French. Remember our trip to Paris to visit the President's offices at the Academy? I think we took an oath between us to never bring up what morons the French are. Wasn't it a Frenchmen at Starfleet Command who said he wanted more proof before we went to war with the Dominion? One of the other Admirals said, 'Sir, the last time anyone French wanted 'more proof' it came marching into Paris under a Nazi Flag.' I wanted to shake that guy's hand." And, more laughing ensued.


Corizon smirked. "Something like that," he said letting a fanged grin reappear, "though I am pretty sure we swore a similar oath about what happens on Risa..."


"Stays on Risa!" He raised his glass, "I'll drink to that."


Corizon raised his glass, "Then how did everyone in the dorms know what we'd done?"


"I didn't say anything!"


Flicking his ears in amusement, "Uhuh, sure!"


"I could say the same thing about you. You were all proud of what we'd done, kept talking about how it would land us in the history books at the Academy. But, no, we took an oath. Yeah, right, you were all suckered into the fame and glory." Hayden finished off his second glass and went for a third.


Corizon just shook his head. "That was a long time ago," he said as he worked on his fourth glass. "I was a different person then..."


There was another moment of silence as they indulged in their wines. "So, Cor, when are you going to find someone to settle down with? You can't be an officer forever." His eyes quickly moved to his ex-wife and his son, estranged for the better part of three years, and then back to his friend. "Life will pass you by."


Corizon laughed. "Me settle down?" It was rhetorical. "I don't plan on it."


"Nothing more fulfilling, let me tell you."


"Duty is what makes my life complete," he said almost sternly. "Duty. Patria. Anything else tends to get in the way of that."


And there it was. "Yeah, of course, I can see how losing fleets of ships and officers, and watching entire planets get decimated can make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside."


"Occupational Hazard." His tone had grown almost cold.


"Emotional displacement, man."


His tone and eyes softened and he finished his drink. “Maybe some day I'll see it your way, find someone to love me, but not now. Hell, I am not taking bets I live past the next 72-hours.”


It was as if someone had dropped a bomb on the conversation. Suddenly the seriousness of the dialog melted away. The idea that the interaction they were sharing was the last hit him hard. He swallowed the last mouthful of the bloodwine and placed the glass on the table. "I'm sorry, man. These last couple of weeks have not been a walk in the park. Perhaps the stress is gettin' to me."


Corizon put a firm hand on his friends shoulder and squeezed softly. "They've not been easy for any of us."


"Thanks for the wine."


"Anytime," Corizon paused for a moment, letting the silence permeate them for both for a time before he spoke again. "Have I ever read you the Dameon battle prayer?"


"No, I can't say that you have."


"We march boldly into the face of death. Bravely facing eternity. Courage, lift our wings. And in our last, let us heave together, in valiant glory. Proud to die, for we have served well and died in battle. Glory to the honored dead. Glory to us who fight together. May we die in battle, charging together in valiant glory. "


A slight grin tugged at his mouth she he stared up into Corizon's eyes. "You know, that wouldn't be half bad if it didn't end in death." He chuckled a little bit, "I'm hoping to not add many to my


The Dameon's golden eyes hardened in determination, but there was still a softness to them as he placed his hand once more on his friends shoulder. “May we die in battle, together, charging together in valiant glory, old friend...with a bottle of bloodwine in hand.”


Hayden poured himself another drink, "I'll drink to that."

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