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Re: NAV Commander Kathryn Harper
Posted: Wed Dec 09, 2015 11:19 pm
Re: NAV Commander Kathryn Harper
Posted: Wed Dec 09, 2015 11:21 pm
That was a handful of emotions beautifully packaged. What a fantastic read! It's a tragic situation, and you bring it to light really wonderfully.
Re: NAV Commander Kathryn Harper
Posted: Thu Dec 10, 2015 6:45 pm
I know this must have been a hard one to write, but wow, it came together really beautifully. Exceptional work.
Re: NAV Commander Kathryn Harper
Posted: Thu Dec 10, 2015 7:39 pm
Re: NAV Commander Kathryn Harper
Posted: Mon Jan 04, 2016 1:47 am
Poor Kate. =/ She's really had it bad since the war. Very well written!
Use Your Illusions
Posted: Thu Feb 18, 2016 1:17 am
by Kathryn Harper and Talla Endilev
Dr. Talla Endilev frowned down at the PADD in her lap, her antennae twitching slightly, then back up at the troubled Risan woman sitting in the adjacent chair. This was their third session together, yet progress remained elusive. Her patient was obviously willing to try, but sometimes, the psychological damage wrought by the loss of those under your command in combat was exceptionally difficult to heal. Talk therapy alone wasn’t going to be enough for this trauma; she would have to go deeper.
“Commander Harper,” she began, setting the PADD aside, “I would like to propose a different kind of treatment for you, one that has been successful in treating acute cases like this in the past. It would involve the use of a temporarily mind-altering substance under controlled circumstances, combined with my guidance through the resultant immersive experience. Does this sound like something you’d be willing to try?”
Harper turned to look at the Andorian in surprise. "You want to give me psychedelic drugs? My mind cannot deal with this on its own?"
“Did you expect your body to deal with that on its own?” Dr. Endilev indicated Harper’s torso, where her medical records showed that she had been struck with weapons fire and damaged considerably. “An injury is an injury, even if it doesn’t bleed, Commander.”
The doctor had a point, and Kate was admittedly frustrated with the lack of progress their previous sessions together had generated. Since confessing her emotional struggles to Lexy, she had stopped drinking herself into oblivion, but that also meant that she could no longer retreat from her emotional turmoil into alcoholic stupor. The prospect of being out of control of her mind was unnerving, but at this point, she was growing somewhat desperate for respite from herself. "Point made. Alright, I will try, if you think this is best."
Dr. Endilev nodded. “I think it’s the best next step, at least. I assure you, this treatment method has been used successfully in many cultures for centuries. You will be under the influence for several hours, but I will be present the entire time and Sickbay will be standing by and monitoring your lifesigns in case anything unexpected happens. We could do this as early as tomorrow morning, if you wish.”
"That is fine with me." With some trepidation despite her decision to proceed, Kate asked, "Is there anything I should do to prepare? Where will this take place?"
“We will meet in Holodeck 3 at 0800 hours. Get at least eight hours of shut-eye before then. Eat your normal meals, but no food after 0630. Hydrate well and dress comfortably.” Dr. Endilev watched as her patient took note of her instructions. “Do you have any other questions for me?”
Kate shook her head as she stood to leave. "No. I will be there."
The next morning, Kate entered the holodeck with some anxiety, not knowing quite what to expect since she had never used hallucinogens before. Dressed as she would for a workout in black exercise shorts and a green t-shirt, she had followed the rest of Dr. Endilev's instructions with regards to food, drink, and sleep. At dinner last night, she had informed Lexy of the planned treatment, and the scientist had responded with curiosity and encouraging support after assuaging her own concerns with a bit of impromptu research. Now, as she approached the doctor, Kate found herself sharing that scientific interest despite her apprehension.
Dr. Endilev was waiting for her in a setting rather similar to her office, but in a much larger space, with a pool of warm light emanating from a lamp between the chairs while the rest of the room faded into dimness. She began by situating Kate in the familiar overstuffed armchair and explaining the safety and security protocols, then going over what she could expect from this experience in great detail. Once she confirmed that all of Kate’s questions had been addressed, she engaged the secure lock on the door and administered the dosage. “This substance is very potent,” she cautioned. “You will begin to feel the effects within minutes.”
Minutes came and went, but Kate found her mind wandering out of boredom while she waited for some indication that the drug was working. As she drew breath to ask the doctor if she needed a larger dose, her eyes were drawn to a wrinkle in the fabric on the arm of her chair, gently undulating as if alive. She eyed it dubiously, fairly certain that it wasn’t supposed to do that, and a touch from her fingertip confirmed that she was seeing something that wasn’t real. She began to look around the room with unfocused interest, the lamplight seeming bright and surreal to her dilated pupils. As the unfamiliar experience took hold of her consciousness, she began to sweat and grabbed the arms of the chair, seeking some measure of stability. Her breath became heavier as her wide green eyes continued to study what only she could see, and despite the apparent fright shown by her physical form, she managed to say, "This is… fascinating."
The counselor leaned forward, ready to use a sedative if necessary. “Just remain calm. Try to concentrate on breathing normally.” She kept her voice steady and smooth, projecting an aura of serenity. “Do you have any questions or concerns about what you are experiencing?”
Kate's wild stare found the doctor, and her immediate response was a laugh. "Your hair is a cloud in a blue sky! ...but why are there flowers growing out of it?"
“You mean these?” asked Dr. Endilev, reaching up to touch them. When Kate nodded, she dropped her hands and replied, “Just my antennae. Nothing to worry about. Do you remember why we are here, Commander?”
It took a few moments for Kate to answer the question, as she appeared to think about it for only a few seconds at a time while interrupting herself with illusory distractions. Finally, she was able to focus and sorrowfully respond, "My lost pilots."
Dr. Endilev settled back into the adjacent chair, noting that the patient’s heart rate and respiration had normalized. “That’s right. But I’d like to begin by talking about you…” In the discussion that ensued as the hours passed, the doctor asked many questions - why she’d become a pilot, how she felt in the cockpit, what her reasons were for continuing such a dangerous career. These were all topics they had covered before, but when the answers poured out of her this time, Kate began to feel a spark of rekindled fire for the subject matter, as evidenced by a passion in her voice that had not been present in their previous sessions.
It was while these thoughts were swirling in Kate’s head that Dr. Endilev tapped on her PADD, and a group photo of all of the pilots under Kate’s command prior to the battle, all wearing their flight suits with their fighters in the assault bay background, was projected large in the space before them. “Do you think they felt differently?” The counselor’s voice remained serene, though her eyes watched carefully for Kate’s reaction.
The picture captured her wandering focus as it seemed to come alive while her actual surroundings faded away. The people in it moved around her, changing in size and position, as Kate found herself back in that moment; it had been such a good day, all smiles and encouraging butt-pats as they had completed a milestone training exercise. Kate could not keep from smiling along with them, despite her wet eyes, as the hallucinatory pilots began congratulating each other as they had done once the portrait was taken. Her recollection was so vivid that she could even smell the faint unpleasant odor of the locker room as the scene continued to play out around her, but the aroma was almost comforting. "They all loved to fly," she fondly mused, enjoying the memory brought to life.
Observing that the stimulus had provided the desired effect, Dr. Endilev decided to push a little harder. She guided their meandering conversation toward viewing the situation from the perspective of a pilot and considering what that meant, such as establishing that risk is inherent in the profession and that pilots, as a rule, resent being grounded. Pleased that her patient was coming to productive conclusions, she gently coaxed Kate toward noticing for herself the contrast between the actual likely perspective of the lost pilots and the warped, dysfunctional view that she’d been stuck in since the battle.
"I was almost grounded by the doctors, but I fought to go." Clearly lost in the scene, Kate gestured at the ephemeral people surrounding her and added, "Just like any of them would have."
Encouraged by the progress, Dr. Endilev allowed her patient to steep in this moment of realization until Kate’s focus began to waver, then cued a new visual display. The image of the pilots faded, replaced with a tableau of a space battle, complete with tactical overlay. She calmly set the scene in motion and awaited a reaction, knowing the battle would be instantly recognizable.
Kate found herself floating in space as the scene wrapped itself around her consciousness. This time, she could fly about freely in safety without the need for a spacesuit. Mustangs and Peregrines clashed with Tzenkethi fighters while the capital ships engaged in their deadly fray. She even recognized particular Mustangs as they silently whizzed by her vantage point, and even to her altered state of mind this was unmistakably the second battle of sector 621. Atlantis passed below her, and she looked down upon the bridge, recalling how much she had desperately wanted to defend its occupants. "This was my place. I fought to be out here… and they would have, too. We all were defending our home."
“But what about the risks?” the counselor inquired. “Even you were shot down… did you think that could happen? Had you not survived, would you blame your commanding officer?”
"No, I would not blame him, and of course I knew the risks. We all did. And had I died… I would not wish this misery on whoever would have replaced me as CAG." The realization seemed to visibly hit her as she watched the battle proceed, gradually able to further internalize what she already knew, but had been unable to accept. One fighter had flown off, choosing to sacrifice himself to draw away fire from the rest of the wing. Another had made an unwise decision and ended up in a bad situation. With each loss she watched, she realized that there was nothing more she could have done for any of them. "They all knew what could happen and I could not have saved them; the battle was almost hopeless. I could not even save myself."
Dr. Endilev allowed silent seconds to tick past before responding in a reverent tone. “All of you did your duty that day, though the cost was high. The noble acts of the Sharks saved thousands of lives.” She steepled her fingers and looked intently at the stricken Commander, preparing to make her ultimate point. “Do you still believe that the best way to honor the memory of those who were lost is to sever yourself from happiness and punish yourself for their fates? Do you think that’s what they would have wanted?”
Kate suddenly became absolutely still, as if paralyzed, while myriad emotions played across her face. As their final moments played back before her eyes, her mind conjured up each of their smiling faces as they had been in life, and what they would have wanted abruptly snapped into focus. The storm of repressed feelings that followed, ranging from terror to sorrow to fond reminiscence, was almost too much to bear. Finally, she managed to answer in a hoarse whisper, "No. They would want me to go on protecting what they died for, and to…" Kate's eyes overflowed with tears that could not mar her vision of the fateful battle as she concluded, "…and to thrive."
Thick and Thin
Posted: Thu Apr 21, 2016 1:02 am
by Alexis Wright and Kathryn Harper
Having been fully cleared for duty by Dr. Endilev based on her rapid progress following her psychedelic therapy, Kathryn Harper found her life returning toward some semblance of normality. At least, it had been, until Admiral Blackthorne had left her in command of the Atlantis while he and Captain T'Kirr were away. While things had been fairly routine in the days since the resolution of the crisis on Herschel Station, command of the ship was certainly still a source of stress that she looked forward to handing back to the Admiral. Overall, though, her life had greatly improved compared to the lonely, miserable nights spent in alcoholic stupor.
Throughout the entirety of her descent into self-destructive anguish over the loss of her pilots and the subsequent therapeutic healing process, Lexy had been there for her, despite Kate's initial efforts to push her away. During her recovery, Kate had striven to repair whatever damage she had caused to their relationship and had met with encouraging success, but guilt still lingered within her for how she had treated her lover. As a result, she now found herself actually nervous as if for a first date, pacing her quarters while she waited for Lexy to arrive for this long-overdue date night.
Every few moments, Kate anxiously smoothed and adjusted her strapless sleek black dress, but the door chime mercifully interrupted the twenty-third trip into to the bedroom mirror to check her hair. "Come in!" she answered excitedly.
The door opened to reveal a shyly smiling Lexy, delicious in a plum chiffon A-line halter top dress that fell to her knees and tied at the waist, her toes peeking out of her sandals and her chestnut hair falling in loose waves over her exposed shoulders. In her hands, she held a smallish package wrapped with precision in festive paper and ribbons. Her smile broadened when she saw Kate’s lithe, athletic figure sheathed in black. Stepping inside to allow the door to close behind her, she set the gift on a convenient table. “How do you always manage to look so gorgeous?” she inquired in mock frustration complete with hands on hips.
"On Risa, we are trained in looking gorgeous from a very early age," Kate quipped as her eyes feasted upon Lexy's lovely form, "but you, having had no such training, manage it so effortlessly!"
“This old thing? Oh, go on, you flatterer.” Lexy waved her hand dismissively, deciding with some quiet embarrassment not to mention the four hours of holodeck time and several dozen dresses it had taken to settle on this one. Instead, she crossed the room to look up at Kate with shining eyes. “Besides, this isn’t about me, Miss Birthday Girl in Command.” Rising up on her toes, she planted a quick, warm kiss on her lover’s lips.
"Mmmm," Kate purred from the kiss, her nervousness starting to subside. "You know, I likely would not have even remembered my birthday if my parents had not called earlier today. Being in command is overrated."
“And how are your lovely parents?” Lexy asked as they sat down to dinner. They passed the delectable meal in light but pleasant conversation about that and the events of the past few days. In a moment of companionable silence following dessert, Lexy retrieved her carefully wrapped package and presented it to Kate. “I’m… not sure if you’ll like this, but… Happy Birthday.” She sat down next to Kate, chewing anxiously at her lower lip as she waited for the gift to be opened.
With a smile, Kate accepted the gift and found Lexy's eyes with her own. "Thank you. You did not have to go to the trouble. I do not even remember the last time I received a birthday gift." It was certainly an oddity in a post-scarcity society; when anyone can replicate almost anything they want, gifts became less common but more personal.
Lexy shrugged self-consciously. “I love you, Kate,” she said in a soft voice, “and I know life has been tough lately. So I wanted to do something special for you.”
"Alright," Kate nodded as she opened the package to reveal a meticulously detailed model of the Boudica, her fighter that was lost in the final battle of the Tzenkethi war. With a wistful smile at the little Mustang, Kate quietly said, "Thank you, Lexy. This means a lot."
“Did I get it right? I looked at all the pictures I could find to paint all the details perfectly,” Lexy asked carefully, her eyes hopeful. “Did you look in the cockpit?”
Turning it over in her hands, Kate admired the hand-painted details. "Yes, it is perfect. It must have taken you hours!" She opened the fighter's canopy and could not help giggling when she found a tiny version of herself at the controls. "It is me!"
Lexy giggled as well. “Of course! The Boudica just wasn’t complete without you.” She gave Kate a dazzling smile to stall as she mentally discarded all of the ridiculously sappy things her brain wanted to say before finally arriving at a rather lame, “I’m just really glad you like it.”
"She was a good ship and gave me everything she had to give." Her eyes moistened a bit as she continued, "The Boudica saved my life and more. Having a memento of her is only right. Thank you so much, Lexy, I love it." Kate placed the model on the table and pulled Lexy into a tight hug, overcome with memories of the fighter and everything linked to it, and also with gratitude for such a thoughtful gift.
Returning Kate’s sudden embrace, Lexy worried about the emotional shift her gift had created. “Are… are you okay? Was this too soon?”
"No, not at all," Kate pulled back, offering a reassuring smile as she wiped at her eyes. "I am — well, I will be OK. Even Doctor Endilev thinks so. I just need a little time to sort myself out, but I will be alright." With a gesture toward the model, she added, "Right now, looking at the Boudica makes me a little melancholy, but overall, I am touched at how thoughtful of a gift this is… especially after how I have treated you lately."
That’s what love is, Lexy thought to herself, but simply smiled at Kate, not wanting to press the issue. “When I said that you have me now, I meant it, darling. On Earth, there’s an old expression - to be there through thick and thin. Are you familiar with that one?”
"No, but I think I get it," Kate answered quietly as her melancholia was washed away by a wave of warm affection. "Thank you."
Lexy bubbled with laughter. “Are you sure you want to thank me? It means you’re stuck with me!” She flung her arms around Kate and hugged her close. “I mean it, though,” she continued once the giggles had subsided, “You have me through thick and thin, and that’s a promise.” She punctuated her words with a kiss to the tip of Kate’s freckled nose.
"Lucky me! And what a wonderful birthday this is!" Kate pulled back and caught Lexy's eyes as she flashed a mischievous grin. "But, maybe I have one more present to unwrap, yes?"
“Now that you mention it, I’ve always wanted to get a taste of command…” Lexy replied with feigned innocence and a coy smile, saucily beckoning the birthday girl toward the bedroom.
"Happy Birthday indeed!" Yes, Kate thought, things were definitely improving.
Re: NAV Commander Kathryn Harper
Posted: Thu Apr 21, 2016 1:15 am
Is it bad that a little voice in my head that sounded exactly like George Takei just went "Oh my!"
Re: NAV Commander Kathryn Harper
Posted: Thu Apr 21, 2016 1:22 am
I want a tiny little Mustang.
Nice log, guys! Really nice bit of personal time there, along with the...ahem...birthday celebrations.
Over the Dust
Posted: Tue Apr 26, 2016 9:28 pm
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.