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The Pain of Life

The Pain of Life

O, that this too too solid flesh would melt
Thaw and resolve itself into a dew!
Hamlet Act 1, Scene 2 

The lieutenant’s glare spoke of anger, though he struggled to hold it back.  His cynical, pessimistic, and weary expression said I don’t want to be here, but she knew that.  She pressed through his candor to gauge his limits, to see how far he would go beyond addressing her as Chirakis rather than Captain.  He grappled to hide his emotions, but it wasn’t working. At least not yet.

Lieutenant Neufeld, exemplary Starfleet officer, team leader, and 15 year veteran of innumerable covert and clandestine operations, had been tossed aside, as though one would toss rotting gagh into a fermenting garbage bin instead of a recycler. She had worked beside him several times, especially during the V’Mal attack with the Stone of Gol.  And now, after being a Tier I Starfleet operative, he was close to psychological collapse.

Well into nightfall, Chirakis Kirel, SI-5 operative well versed in Special Operations, sat in her office paging through information regarding Admiral Vera Farragut.  Her unit had come so close to destruction that the Alien Alliance could have used them for fodder or handed them over to Ragor Tal.  Instead, Admiral Farragut had been court martialed. 

Had she been put into the hands of Kirel, Admiral Farragut would have vanished.  Mysteriously.  Without a trace.  

Third watch had begun.  As usual, Kirel left her office door open.  Yeoman Drexler entered soundlessly, set a tray on the captain’s coffee table and asked if she needed anything else.  

“Thank you, Yeoman.  That will be all,” Kirel replied with a forced congenial nod, then continued to page through the information.

According to the records, Starfleet Command disbanded Lieutenant Neufeld’s team because Farragut had weaved her web so expertly that whatever she did was beyond remission.  Though Neufeld was not to blame, as the team leader he bore the brunt of the situation and was now paying the price.  That Kirel’s ire approached the boiling point was an understatement. 

Lighting in the office dimmed abruptly, the office door closed and locked, and silence prevailed.  Forcing a deep breath to contain her emotions, Kirel swiveled her chair to face the main screen as the image of Admiral Solokov, Commanding Officer of Rendezvous October, appeared. The captain stood respectfully in greeting, then leaned against her desk, arms crossed.

Good evening, Kirel,” the admiral sighed, running his hands through thin, graying hair before clasping them to lean forward on his desk, half asleep and half awake. “If it is evening.  I’ve lost track of time, unfortunately, but such is the situation these days.”  His eyes narrowed now noticing Kirel’s clenched jaw.  “From your expression, I would say that what we need to discuss is important.”

“The Farragut Affair, Admiral.” she replied flatly.

"Hmm…" Another sigh and he leaned back.  “She’s been in the foreground lately, but not exactly the foreground anyone would want.” A glass of water appeared on his desk. He nodded off stage and downed the glass before setting it aside.  “Admiral Farragut has apparently dug such a deep hole for herself and her constituents that they will never again see the light of day.  But what does that have to do with Aegis?”

“Lieutenant Ethan Neufeld.”

Solokov frowned, his lips pursed somewhat thoughtfully as he stroked the stubble on his chin.  “One of their best operatives, if not the best.  I take it that he is aboard Aegis with his team, which is a bonus for us.”

“Unfortunately no, Admiral.  He is here.  On Aegis.  Alone.  His team has been disbanded, possibly scattered throughout the system.”

Solokov was now wide awake.  “Disbanded?” he whispered intensely, his eyelids narrowing as his face flushed to the point that Kirel reflexively leaned back. “How... in Thor’s Gates... did that happen?”   

“In short,” Kirel continued, struggling to maintain her demeanor, “Admiral Farragut created so much damage that Starfleet Command could not disentangle the spider’s web."

"The black widow," he scoffed into a snort worthy of a targ. "She's been called that behind her back for many, many years, Kirel, and now the truth has come out."  A few moments of deep thought as he drummed his fingers on the desk still did not cover his anger. "What do you want from me, Kirel?  October?"

“That… would not be wise, Admiral,” Kirel offered as she rounded her desk to settle in, contemplating the outcome of going too far too fast.  “At least not yet.  He is definitely capable, but it will take time for him to overcome what he has experienced.  Eventually, if we can locate his team and they are willing, October is a possibility, but not until they are ready.”

Then what exactly can we help you with, Kirel?”  At that point, Captain Raza, commanding officer of SI-6, appeared onscreen.  

“Find his team if possible Admiral.  Assure their safety.  Nothing beyond that.”

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