Over the Dust
Posted on April 26th, 2016 by Kathryn Harper
Captain Kathryn Harper sat behind the desk in Atlantis‘s ready room, but the room itself was still entirely Ian Blackthorne’s. Nothing had changed, from the bar to the decorations, but she had not left it alone entirely out of reverence. There simply had not been enough time since the deaths of Atlantis‘s CO and XO to change anything, given the amount of work involved in investigating such an incident. Her first full day as captain had been spent filing paperwork, approving reports, and silently thanking T’Kirr for her meticulously detailed records.
Now, as she set aside the last of a pile of PADDs requiring her attention, Kate found herself alone with her thoughts, a situation she had been trying to avoid for the past day. Mercifully, the computer reminded her that she had yet to record a log entry, that most iconic of captainly duties. After a moment’s consideration about what to say, she began to speak, her voice maintaining its usual fast, clipped cadence, although it was even quicker than usual, a tiny crack in the coldly-detached veneer that hid her internal struggle against grief.
Captain Kathryn Harper’s log, first entry. Yesterday, Admiral Blackthorne and Captain T’Kirr were killed in a shuttlecraft accident. Consequently, I have been promoted to the rank of Captain and assumed command of Atlantis. My feelings on this matter are deep and complex, but will remain private. While our initial data-gathering is complete, we have yet to discover a root cause for the rapid warp core breach that destroyed the shuttle Naiad. Our investigation will continue as the crew continues to mourn their profound loss.
Kate ended the recording and silence once more filled the room. She looked away from the computer screen and her eyes fell on a holographic picture on the desk—Ian and T’Kirr together, attractive in their swimwear, on the beach of what appeared to be Calaphaltra. Although she had seen the picture from the other side many times before during visits to the ready room, it still served to remind her that she was sitting behind someone else’s desk. Even if it were now hers by Starfleet decree, Kate could not help feeling as though she were trespassing into their private affairs.
Reminding herself that she had every right to be here, Kate swallowed down that emotion and turned off the hologram, carefully placing it in a drawer. Only an empty space remained where it once stood, interrupting a faint layer of dust, and that emptiness suddenly struck her as a poetic representation of their loss. Kate found herself fighting away tears, as had been her habit in the past day. Starship Captains don’t cry, after all—at least not in public.
But here in the privacy of the Admiral’s ready room—her ready room, she thought, correcting herself—she found herself with a brief moment of solitude. The crew needed her to be strong, but it was becoming clear to her that part of that strength would come from seizing rare opportunities like these to deal with her own feelings. Alone in this place full of memories, she finally allowed the wave of sorrow and loss that she’d been holding back to overtake her.
Several cathartic minutes later, Kate pulled herself back together and looked down at the desktop once more, at last prepared to take the next step. She removed the remainder of the Admiral’s personal effects from the desk and put them away, then reached into the bag she’d brought from her quarters this morning and retrieved the hand-painted model of the Boudica that had been a birthday gift from Lexy. Kate placed the little replica of her lost Mustang where the picture had been, a small way of claiming this space as her own.