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Love’s Labor

Posted on Sunday August 28th, 2016 @ 4:07am by

Mission: Enemies Closer
Location: (Chief Engineer’s Office
Timeline: MD 1 1045 HRS

“I think that went well.” Esri Lillim volunteered as the office door shut behind her. “As well as could be expected anyway.” She sat down in the one guest chair before Maddox could offer it, and he was tempted initially to say something about it, but decided to let the slight breach of formality go, and just sat down himself.

“The morale of my crew is not on my list of things I care about.” Maddox explained. “You worry about that. What I want to know, is why is this happening?” He placed a PADD on his desk and slid it over to the assistant chief. Esri began to read.

“This is a list of reports I’ve approved. Recently. The past week or so.”, Esri laid the PADD back on the desk. “You want to know why I’m doing my job?”

“I want to know why you are doing your job and Haught’s.” Maddox explained. “You’ve signed off on one hundred percent of the reports. After our all-hands meeting I would have expected this work split. So I looked into it. Ensign Haught has failed to follow his schedule. Coming in late, if at all. I see evidence others, such as yourself, are covering his work, but I want to know why.”

“Why?” Esri bit her bottom lip before answering. “I’ll tell you why.” She looked defiantly in Maddox’ eyes. “The Borg. That’s why.”

== Flashback | Main Engineering | Battle for Starbase 900 ===

Commander Hannsen gripped the edge of the workstation as the Excelsior rocked again, taking more damage from the latest barrage of weapons fire. She only passively noticed the sparks flying anymore, and kept focused on the damage reports coming in from all over the ship.

The chirp of the communication line sounded as she opened a new line. “Hannsen to Hagan. Get some teams to Deck 11, I’m showing…oh no.” Hannsen cut the line, and opened a new one. “Engineering to Bridge. Captain, we’ve got intruders on deck 11.” She heard orders to security right before that comm line ended. More sparks, more shaking and even amid the chaos Hannsen saw Ensign Haught leave his post. She knew ordering him to return would be pointless.

== Flashback | Ensign Haught and Nurse Haught Quarters | One day prior to battle ===

“I can’t sleep.” Stanton Haught confessed to his wife.

“Hnnrg?” She stirred a little but did not wake up completely. Stanton’s eyes had adjusted to the dark, and he looked over at his wife. As usual she had taken the covers, wrapping herself in a cocoon of warmth. That was fine by him, whatever she needed.

Stanton knew he would not sleep this night. He hadn’t told her, he couldn’t tell her. It was just too terrible a thing to say, and it wouldn’t change a thing if he had told her. Perhaps if he had, she would be awake now too and she needed her sleep. He just kept going over what his friend Kyle had told him in the mess hall.

== Flashback | Excelsior – Mess Hall | Two days prior to battle ===

“Starfleet has been analyzing Borg attack strategy. After the attack and some scans the Borg send over some drones to sickbay. They focus their weapons enough to get the shields down long enough for transport.” Security Crewman Kyle Johnson explained over a Synthehol.

“Sickbay?” Stanton asked, “That’s hardly a tactical advantage.”

“They’ve been studying us. They know us better. They know all the protection we put up around the bridge and engineering. Sick bay however is full of busy pacifists, and…” He let the thought hang to challenge his buddy.

“Newly weakened crew. Perfect targets for assimilation.” Stanton felt the pit of his stomach grow cold.

“Hey, doesn’t your wife work in sickbay?”

=== Current | Ensign Haught Quarters ===

It took an override to get the door open, but Maddox had enough authority now to enact one. The computer confirmed Ensign Haught was inside, but despite repeated communication attempts and door-calls he didn’t answer.

“Ens…” Maddox stopped himself, “Stanton.” He called. A sound from deeper in caught Maddox attention. He moved toward it. In the bedroom, in the corner sat Stanton Haught. In one hand he held a phaser, in the other a PADD. He looked up at Maddox, tears blurring Haught’s vision.

“I understand your wife died very recently.” Maddox began. “I understand you cannot take leave, return home, or even speak to a councilor since one is not currently on the ship.”

“You understand nothing.” Haught’s voice was very low.

“I don’t claim to know how you feel. And whatever pain you feel, know that many from engineering care about you, have even broken regulations for you.”

“Regulations. You have no idea how little I care about regulations at this moment.” Stanton wiped his eyes with the back of his hand, still not releasing his grip of the PADD.

“I looked up the footage from sick bay.” Maddox explained. “I know what you did, and you have no need to fear reprisal or court-marshal. She was clearly already under Borg control...”

Stanton aimed the phaser at himself. “I care even less about that.” He closed his eyes.

“What do you care about?” Maddox felt some desperation. If Stanton didn’t return to duty his department would be significantly crippled in utility and efficacy.

Haught opened his eyes, and tossed his PADD on the bed. Maddox picked it up. It was a medical report. It showed that a Nancy Haught was confirmed to be approximately three weeks pregnant.

“Is this what Nancy would want?” Maddox asked quietly. “Is this what you would do to train your child?”

“Don’t talk about them like that.” Stanton now aimed the phaser at Maddox.

“There are other children on this ship. Do you want them to hear, and they will, how an engineer took his life, or another’s?”

“I just want the pain to end.”

“Then find an outlet. If it isn’t work, find a counselor on another ship you can message. Spend time on the holodeck, but whatever you do… Don’t give up.”

Maddox made his offer. “In cases of extreme emergency, Starfleet protocols can be ignored. I can ignore what has happened here today if you agree to get help starting today.”

“Okay, Chief.” He powered down the phaser. “For them.”


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