Through a broken maze of debris that spread across space under its own course, life still managed to hold on by the impressive feat of engineered survivability. Cast among the wreckage as just another piece of twisted duranium, a small escape pod tumbled freely in and out of the debris field, all alone in the night. The cramped confines of the pod held but one survivor, the only witness to the final moments of a dead ship, and a waste of life.
Weary pain laden eyes slowly began to open and for the briefest of moments, Jordana Klyce thought she was somewhere else. Dried blood stained her matted blond hair and flaked off her tanned skin, letting the memory flash of an unpleasant encounter with a bulkhead. It brought her back to reality as she quickly remembered where she was.
Jordana couldn’t believe she made it to the escape pod, and now that she was secluded there in relative safety, a part of here longed to be back aboard the Avalon. What was it Stolick has told her once, “Having was not so pleasing a thing as wanting.” Maybe that was true, or maybe she was just unlucky.
She didn’t know for sure how many of them there had been, but they had torn the ship apart fast enough that it didn’t really matter. None of it mattered now, because in the end it was all her fault.
She had been awake for days, never straying more then a few feet away from her post, as the Avalon chased a Breen warship through a dark matter nebula. And what a chase it had been, although now looking back, it hardly seemed worth it.
When the Avalon and her crew had claimed victory, doctor’s orders had forced her from the bridge and to her quarters for some much needed rest. She had slept like a rock for what must have been the better part of a day. The slumber was so deep she wasn’t sure what had brought her back to consciousness, the violent pitch of the deck that had tossed her from bed, or the call to battle stations that screeched through the intercom.
All she knew was what had happened next. Before Jordana could even get out of her quarters, it had been obvious the ship was dieing. She had served aboard enough starships to know the feeling of a breached hull and recognized the feeling while trying to leave her quarters. The destruction had resonated through the deck plates and she knew it was close.
No more then ten meters from her door, as the artificial gravity began to wane, the call to abandon ship echoed through the intercom. And that was the moment she decided to leave. She could either cling to the failing importance of her duty and die with the Avalon, or let the instincts of self-preservation run its course.
Maybe she had already made the decision in the back of her mind, but the order to abandon ship made it simple-it made the decision valid.
If only it had been that simple.
She waited inside the pod as long as she dared before closing the hatch; it was regulation. So when she was sure it was safe, she began the launch sequence, and that’s when she saw them. Two lieutenants who’s names she couldn’t recall, running for the door, trying desperately to get to the hatch before the seals locked. But it was too late. They didn’t make it. The hatch closed and the seals pressurized, seconds before the pod was launched.
Jordana could see their faces as the pod pushed from its berth and raced away from the ship; just as she could see the first ruptures of the warp core pierce the engineering section. The intense white brilliance that seemed to cast the void of space in a ghostly fog of light, if only for a second. And then the ship was gone, replaced by the expanding field of debris that continued to smash into the side of the pod.
The Avalon had been her home for over a year, the tour starting months before the stupid war with the Breen ever had. And now it was gone. Her ship, her home, and her duty to the Federation were all lost, cast apart amid the void of space.
The worst of it though was that it was all so clear to her now.
I should have gone to the bridge-no I should have been on the bridge already, but I wasn’t there. I was sound asleep and safe from any responsibility and maybe when this is all over they’ll tell me there was nothing I could have done, but that surely won’t make it any easier.
The words echoed in her mind as clear as if she had said them allowed.
What would be easier, she thought. Then Jordana saw the control panel and thought that maybe she should just open the hatch now and save everyone the trouble.
Her hand hovered over the panel that would override the locking mechanism and release the hatch. The seals would break and the pods environment of a self-contained atmosphere would vanish into the vacuum of space, followed shortly by her life.
Her hand convulsed from sheer fright as the longer she waited the further it spread; up her arm across her chest and eventually throughout her entire body. Gripping both arms around her chest she fell back to the floor, trying to breath normal again.
When she finally regained some shred of composure, the convulsing had stopped, but the question still remained.
How was she going to explain that she had closed the hatch?
How would she explain that she had watched them die, that she had been close enough to see the fear in their eyes, and that she could have done more. “It was my job to do more,” she whispered.
The comm suddenly crackled with the sound of an incoming message. “Escape pod 47, this is the U.S.S Enterprise, stand by to for immediate transport.”
Aboard the Federation flagship, Captain Jean-Luc Picard stood in the transporter room, waiting to greet the surviving member of the Avalon. He was curious to hear of the ships final moments and wondered how only one person had made it to an escape pod. He realized however that such things hardly followed a set course of rules and that in war; things happened that could not otherwise be imagined.
What he knew of this one survivor was from her official Starfleet file that painted a picture similar to many officers he had met of late. She was a product of the Dominion war, brought up through the ranks by the loss of the more experienced core of command officers. Hundreds, perhaps even thousands like her had been placed in positions of authority to fill in the gaps left by the war, and the sudden rush of responsibility was finally catching up with Starfleet.
She was maybe forty years of age and already had almost seven years of command experience under her belt. Most of it had come from doing exactly what her Intrepid class starship had been built to do, explore the frontier. But now, tasked with fighting a new war that would make the last look like a limited border skirmish, she was out of her element.
The transporter finished the cycle and materialized a broken officer onto the pad. Unable to stand on her own, and barely able to sit up, Picard slowly approached the woman as the medics rushed to her side.
“Captain Klyce isn’t it?” he asked.
Sitting up as two medics continued to assess her injuries, Captain Jordana Klyce acknowledged her name, if not her rank.
“Welcome aboard the Enterprise Captain.”