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A Captain's Burden, A Family's Burden

Posted on Tue Feb 25th, 2020 @ 9:43am by Commodore Tyler Malbrooke & Lieutenant Commander Katherine Malbrooke
Edited on on Tue Feb 25th, 2020 @ 9:51am

2,364 words; about a 12 minute read

Mission: Episode 9 - Empok's End
Location: Malbrooke's Quarters - Deck 3 - USS Pioneer
Timeline: MD004 2200 hrs

Tyler walked the decks of the Pioneer, much like he did two years ago when he was first given the command. Wow two years already. I guess it is true time flies when you wear the heaviest pip. he thought. The briefing went well and was relatively quick for a briefing of it's size. He now walked the halls as his crew made ready for the battle to come. It was a far cry from the silent walk that he took two years ago and yet his mother was still with him. He could almost hear her words as she guided his hand. Tyler smiled as his thoughts turned to his mother, he knew that she would be with him, with this crew in their time of need.

He let his hand trace the wall as walked Deck three. It was visceral, a physical connection to his other wife, his Pioneer. As he arrived at his quarters he thought to his wife and the family that he wanted, he thought about Quinn and Ameri two officers who had become friends and their little girl. Was he leading them all off a cliff. He exhaled heavily through his nose and stepped through the door. "Honey I'm home..."

She rose from the couch. "Hi. I've been waiting for you." She could see his emotions on his face and wrapped her arms around him, hugging him. "Want to talk?"

He hugged her tight, as if it would be the last time he would touch his wife. Somewhere deep in Tyler's mind he had that very thought. He kissed her on her forehead, something he had done since the day he met her, something that he always thought brought them closer together. He exhaled through his nose when the embrace broke. Without saying a word Tyler unzipped his uniform jacket. "Well I am sure you know there is not much I can tell. I have an Admiral and a Brigadier screaming to keep everything classified. But I cannot help thinking that I signed the death warrants of one of my crew members, and a woman who has been lost in the woods."

As Tyler spoke he walked over to the replicator and had it give him scotch on the rocks. He took a small draft of the drink savoring the flavor and the warmth as it went down his throat.

"Is that why she didn't answer when I contacted her?"" She waved that off. "Don't answer that. I had a question about Quinn's project. It's not relevant." To change the subject, she said what had been on her mind of late. "I can't help thinking about Empok Nor. If things hadn't worked out here, I might have been on the station when it was attacked."

He had been walking toward the couch with the idea of kicking off his shoes and kicking his feet up. However, Tyler had not thought of that, and what Kat had said stopped him dead in his tracks. A shaky hand brought the glass of scotch to his lips for another draft. "That is something that I had not considered, something that I am happy I to not have to consider. Something that I am going to need to be reminded to thank Quinn for." The more he spoke and worried the more his country Oklahoma twang found it's way into his voice.

"I'm sorry, Ty." She again went over to him. "I didn't mean to upset you, love. It's been weighing on my mind. I'm concerned for the people I knew there, but I'm more grateful that I'm here, with you." She hugged him again. "Now that I've addressed the elephant in the room, let's move on to something you can talk about."

He plopped himself onto the couch as he contemplated the meaning of classified and how it pertained to spouses. He appreciated that she was trying to change the subject for him. However, Tyler was unsure if he wanted the subject changed. "We will get it back. Ever since my arrival here it has just seemed that the entire sector has been out to prove that I should not be Captain. Every step that I took was countermanded. Now we sit out manned and out gunned. And it's my fault... I am happy that you are here with me, but there are people who I was supposed to protect that are over there. I am not even sure if they lived through the initial attack." His former Assistant Security Chief Elloma Essu came to mind. He hoped that she was well where she may be.

Kat sat down next to him and took his hand in hers. "No, that's not true. I think it's more that the sector knows you are the only one who will stand against the darkness. The only one who can take back the station."

He began to recite names "Essu, Taggart, De la Vega, Abernathy..." The list went on for a moment or two with the names repeating. "These were our friends, our family and we let them down. The worst of it all is that one of our own is behind it all. Rodney Leyton he was part of the fleet, one of us as it were and now..." Tyler's voice trailed off as he was lost in his thoughts again. He simply could not find the words, he sipped his scotch again. "Where were you when the world stood still..." He whispered.

"I know it was Leyton," she said quietly. "I gave Quinn my report on the data in the main computer." She lifted his hand to her lips and kissed it. "You did not let them down. You weren't here. Others did their best to rescue as many as they could and fight off the Cardassians and New Maquis. What could you have done more?" She paused to let him think about it. "On the other hand, they won't be expecting an attack now that they think they've won. Maybe not being there to win the battle will allow you to help win the war."

"But I keep wondering if it is worth it. If it is worth risking the all these lives for a station that is not even part of Starfleet, or even belongs to the Federation. I hate to say it but there is a part of me that thinks that this could be a Cardassian problem." Tyler sighed and let his head hang for a moment. "...But if I did that I would not be me I guess. And yet..."

"We do this because it's the right thing to do," she said, rubbing the back of his neck. "Not for the station itself, but for the beings who lived there and for those who will be attacked next." She sighed and sat back. "You're a good captain because you don't go in blindly. You worry about your choices, and you try to do what's right."

Whenever Kat rubbed his neck the world seemed to melt away. It was an effect that Tyler thought may have been magical and this time was no different. He allowed himself to slouch and rest his head on her shoulder. He felt vulnerable and at fault a far cry from the strong image that he conveyed on the bridge. "I just hope that the families of those about to give their lives for this agree with you."

So did she. She wrapped her arms around him and held him. She knew the engineering department on the station, and was willing to help, but this was not the right time to bring it up. Especially after his reaction when she reminded him that until recently she'd been on Empok Nor. "I trust you, my love, and I believe in you."

"My mother had a saying, well she had a lot of sayings and a lot of them hold water. 'A Captain does not have to strive to be a great man, merely a good one.' She used to say, and now I think it was situations like this that she was talking about." Ty exhaled deeply as he often did when he was thinking of his mother. "Well that is enough of that I think. There is nothing more that we can worry about until tomorrow. But, these times do make me start thinking about another subject... Family."

Kat chuckled softly and nuzzled his ear. "I've been thinking about family, too. Maybe we're thinking about the same thing?"

Tyler knew damn well what was on her mind, and in truth it was on his as well. However, that did not mean that Kat would not get a full dose of his sarcasm. "Perhaps we are, as what I am thinking is in line with what we have talked about. This crew, and everyone on the station, they are our family. I mean that is what you were thinking as well."

She knew what he was doing, and chose to follow suit. "Yes. I only know some of the crew here, the people on Empok Nor were my family. I want every one of them to be alive and well, but I know that's impossible. I will do my part to help take back the station and then try to make something positive out of what happened."

The conversation was meant to be lighthearted a quick exchange of sarcasm between two spouses. Yet what Kat had just said sparked an idea in Tyler's brain. "Kat my love you have just given me the greatest and most wondrous of ideas..." He jumped to his feet his brain reeling. "You were the Assistant Engineering Chief... I highly doubt that Hood got around to removing your computer access when you left. What is more is I doubt that Leyton or Prenar got around to it either, banking on the fact that you would not be back. If it comes down to it we can use your codes along with Kalim's to destroy the station. You just gave me my ace in the hole..." His voice trailed off as he scooped her into his arms and spun her about the room.

"My love, I think we may win this yet, and then perhaps Enya can have a playmate." The second part of that sentence just blurted out. He meant to approach the subject delicately but he was too elated for that now.

"I'm glad I could help," she said, catching her breath. She'd considered going over to the station, but she hadn't considered that her access codes would still be in the system. It made sense, though, as she'd been given an open invitation to come back. "A playmate?" Did that mean... She didn't dare think it until she was sure.

He put her down as he realized that he had just blurted it out and not eased into it or talked about it even. He smiled as he embraced her. "Yeah, the way I see it life on this ship can get pretty dull for a child and as Captain I have to watch out for everyone on board including our youngest crew members. I figure the XO's daughter should have nothing less than the Captain's child to play with. What do you think?" Tyler figured that she wanted a child, but he used sarcasm to let Kat know that he wanted one to.

"I think our child will be a bit too young for her to play with," she replied somberly. "So I suggest we have several children, just to make sure she doesn't feel alone. Maybe you should talk to Quinn and Ameri about a playmate closer to our child's age." There was a distinct twinkle in her eye that belied her somber tone. "Or we could try for twins."

"I am sure that if she is too old to play, Enya would babysit. I dunno, with twins it might be hard, let's work on one and see what happens. But I will confess, with a newborn you may have to take leave from the fleet. I mean I can't give up the center chair..." Tyler's voice trailed off as he embraced her again.

"I wouldn't ask you to," Kat said, hugging him tightly. "I can do small projects here, or I can write papers. I have plenty of things to occupy my time. After the deep dive I did into the computer core, I have a few ideas for security measures that may be implemented. I need to do some research, and talk to a few people. It'll take time." She leaned back at looked at her husband. "I'm tired of going to bed alone. I want to stay here. With you."

"These quarters are rather huge to have all to myself. There is a lot of real estate on the bed that they assign to Captains." Tyler said with a flirtatious lilt to his voice.

"Then it's a good thing I'm currently looking for a nice, large bed and a sexy captain to share it with," she teased. "I think you're perfect for the position."

Tyler began to dance with his wife, he danced even though there was no music playing. It simply felt like a fun, right thing to do at the moment. After a few minutes of spinning around the room Tyler spoke again. "You know I can think of a perfect position for you." He smirked devilishly.

He always knew how to charm her, and she loved it. "I like the way you think, Cowboy."

Tyler Malbrooke forgot his worries, he forgot the present, for once his eyes were on the future. He saw a family in that future. He carried his wife to the bedroom and placed her on the bed. Joining her in short order he kissed her passionately as if it were the first and last time that he would be able to.

A Post By,

Captain Tyler Malbrooke
Commanding Officer, USS Pioneer

Lieutenant Commander Katherine Malbrooke
Mission Advisor, USS Pioneer


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