AUX Henry Sumner, SCE

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Re: AUX Henry Sumner, SCE

Postby Gunther Vermeulen » Sat Oct 01, 2016 10:33 am

And my ax!
Err, yeah, attention. Quite so.
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Re: AUX Henry Sumner, SCE

Postby Aoibhe Ni » Sat Oct 01, 2016 10:49 am

::gets the popcorn out::

You, sir, are a master of suspense.

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Re: AUX Henry Sumner, SCE

Postby C. J. Short » Mon Oct 03, 2016 5:57 am

The Seven Deaths of Henry Sumner - Part 9

The lights were off throughout much of the Rho, and the corridor they stood in was lit primarily by flashing red panels along the walls. The alarm blared as the station rocked under weapons fire. A terrified scream sounded from the end of the corridor, and Henry could see a figure in the distance, nearing with every flash of light.

It was N’pram, a Vulcan engineer, and the source of her terror soon became evident as a massive, armored Tzenkethi burst into the corridor behind her, roaring as it charged. N’pram stumbled to the deck as the station rocked violently.

“The control bulb has been destroyed,” said Henry, who was pointedly not looking at the charging Tzenkethi. “The station is starting to topple.”

Outside, a small fleet of Tzenkethi ships had opened fire after an accident during transport of several eggs that had been left behind on the station. The Rho hadn’t nearly been ready; there were gaps in shield covered, and the one phaser array Henry had managed to get online had been destroyed quickly. The Jormungandr was their only backup, but even that might vessel wouldn’t be able to hold off the small swarm. Instead, the ship used the wrecks of a previous fleet for cover as it attempted to evacuate the station.

Because of the power fluctuations and intermittent shielding, large sections of the station blocked transport, and the crew had to fight to get to clear areas as they were hunted by Tzenkethi boarding parties. The Corps of Engineering team Henry led had been operating out of Main Engineering, on the opposite end of the station from Ops. N’pram hadn’t made the rendezvous yet, and Henry had gone to look for her.

N’pram clawed along the floor, tears streaming from her eyes. Henry would never forget the sight. It was the first time he’d seen a Vulcan so terrified. Not that he blamed her, of course. It had just been unnerving.

The Tzenkethi lunged forward and sank it’s razor-like claws into the engineer’s back, eliciting a wail of pain.

“PRAM!” came a shout from the other end of the corridor. The older Henry kept his eyes closed. This memory was vivid enough, and he didn’t need to see it again.

“Help me, please!” the Vulcan cried. Compressed phaser bolts whistled through the air, and Henry felt the heat as they blew past. The Tzenkethi roared in anger first, and then pain as Henry had unloaded another max-kill volley. A heavy slump could be heard, followed by N’pram’s cries.

“I got you, Pram; it’s ok,” lied Henry.

“I can’t feel my legs,” N’Pram breathlessly informed. The silence was brief, but heavy.

“That’s alright,” Henry told her. “They can fix that. But we need to get back to ME – they can’t beam us from here.”

A few grunts were followed by a sharp groan.

“Damn it,” Henry muttered. He hadn’t been able to stop himself upon seeing the torrent of green spilling from a large hole in N’pram’s abdomen. If he’d had a medkit with him and they weren’t within the interference, she might have lived. As it was, there was nothing he could have done.

“Fuck, FUCK!” shouted N’Pram.

“Pram…”

“I’m… I’m gonna-”

“Shhh; I’m gonna get you outta here, ok?”

“… No you’re not.”

“Come on; when have you not known me to perform miracles, huh?”

“I wanna go home. I don’t wanna die here.”

“I know. I know you don’t.”

“Boss… Henry…”

“I’m here.”

“Help...”

The rest of N’Pram’s words gave way to a wet gurgling, and she was gone.

“Q?” the older Henry called.

“Yeah,” she answered softly.

“Take me out of here. Please.”

The blaring alarm ceased, and the closeness of the corridor gave way to the cool air of the ice cave. Henry carefully opened his eyes, and slid down against the a sitting position. The cave was quiet for a long while as Henry buried his face in his arms, which were propped on his knees. Perhaps sensing his disquiet, Q let him be.

“I had turned the corner,” he said after a half hour or so. “I had become a person I liked being, and I had a crew that I really cared for.”

“And then you lost them,” Q said, her tone sympathetic.

“Kesh was back from the dead. I had a job that wasn’t going to be constant stress. Life was going my way. And it all went sideways in a moment.”

“What happened?” asked Q.

“There was a transporter accident. Some of the eggs were lost, and the Tzenkethi were enraged. It let to a renewed war.”

“How long was this one?”

“Nearly two decades. I rejoined Starfleet to avenge N’Pram, and I was eventually given command of the Vonnegut, and I killed every last Tzenkethi I could.”

“Hadn’t you just beaten the Tzenkethi, though?”

“A lot of other things happened after it started. The Romulans saw we were stretched thin and began to subjugate the Republic. Because of our commitment to them, we had to split our attention. We ended up losing both fights when the Klingons decided to take a shot at us, too.”

“Ah, Klingons,” sighed Q. “Fighting their enemies honorably by kicking them when they’re down.”

“By the time all the fighting was done, the Federation had lost a third of its territory,” continued Henry. “And that’s when Section 31 made their move.”

“Fuck,” muttered Q.

“Starfleet Intelligence tried to stop it, but the Section had it’s claws in deep. The loyalties of the Federation and Starfleet were split. Civil war was inevitable.”

Silence descended upon them once more, and Henry was thankful that Q didn’t ask for many details of Henry’s exploits during the war. Vengeance had consumed him, and he had done a lot of things to regret. Whatever positive changes he’d made prior to the Rho, whatever hint of an enjoyable life he’d seen, had been eliminated. He became bitter as the years went on.

His heart sank when he realized where this brought them in the course of his life. He unfolded himself and took a deep breath, staring at his bare legs and the shriveled remnants of his tattoos.

“Are you ready?” asked Q.

“No,” said Henry. “But I’ll never be ready.”
"As long as I have a want, I have a reason for living. Satisfaction is death." - George Bernard Shaw, Overruled

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Re: AUX Henry Sumner, SCE

Postby Einar S » Mon Oct 03, 2016 10:50 am

gah!
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Re: AUX Henry Sumner, SCE

Postby Aoibhe Ni » Wed Oct 05, 2016 11:13 am

Oh my god. I'm not sure I'm ready, either.

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Re: AUX Henry Sumner, SCE

Postby C. J. Short » Thu Oct 06, 2016 11:28 pm

The Seven Deaths of Henry Sumner - Part 10

The Vonnegut was in rough shape. After several months of playing marauder, the Defiant-class vessel now bore the scars of dozens of battles across her hull; breaches were patched with quick and dirty welds, lights flickered, and, for the moment, the port nacelle was leaking drive plasma.

Things weren’t much better inside. Fused ODN cables dangled from the ceiling while steam lazily vented from uncovered EPS conduits. Panels were missing from the bulkheads throughout, mostly so that the engineers could get at vital systems more quickly. Half of Deck 6 had been inaccessible for a week, and only three functioning consoles remained on the bridge.

Repair stations weren’t readily available like they used to be. The Vonnegut, as with most of the Free Federation’s ships, had to make do with scavenging and spot fixes by their burned-out engineering sections. As talented as those engineers were, there was only so much you could do before a ship fell apart.

There were still a few shipyards on their side of the war, however, and the Vonnegut was now waiting their turn at Starbase 11. They would only get about half the repairs they needed, but it would do for a while. The whole crew needed the break, too.

Despite the Vonnegut’s success, the war was taking its toll on all sides. The Free and Loyalist fleets were in disrepair, and neither could launch much of an offensive. And so, they had fallen to guerrilla tactics. This suited Captain Sumner just fine.

Q and the older Henry stood in the Vonnegut’s ready room. The past version no longer looked much younger, brooding behind a makeshift desk made from bent girders and bulkhead plating. He had spent many days doing the exact same thing, and it was hard to tell when exactly this was in his memory. In truth, he was somewhat surprised that Q hadn’t taken him back farther, to when he’d first heard the news, or perhaps the funeral. His sense of relief vanished as a pale-blue half-Andorian walked into the ready room, the doors to which had long been stuck open.

“Captain,” said the crewman. The Captain looked to his first officer, his expression hard to read.

“Aeddan,” he greeted his nephew.

“I’ve got the repair estimates,” said Aeddan, handing over a PADD. The screen was well-scratched. Henry took it and skimmed through the list.

“Dethek’s gonna be pissed,” he said, referring to the Vonnegut’s chief engineer.

“I guess I’ll wait until after tonight to give it to him, then,” said Aeddan, putting on a humorless smile.

“Why?” questioned Henry. This drew a concerned stare from Aeddan.

“… Do you really not know?”

The older Henry slumped against the wall and sighed, shaking his head at himself.

“Out with it, Commander,” came the Captain’s impatient reply.

“It’s been three years to the day,” said Aeddan, his tone annoyed. The Captain stared at him long and hard before lowering his head.

“Oh,” he mumbled.

“’Oh!?’” echoed Aeddan, who had proven to have his uncle’s temper. “That’s all you can say?”

“Keep it down, Commander.”

“Is that all you can fucking say?”

“Watch your tone, Commander.

“Fuck you. It’s the whole fucking reason we’re out here!”

“Aeddan...”

“I can’t believe you forgo-

The Captain leapt from his seat and was on Aeddan in an instant, driving him back into the bulkhead. He had meant to yell something at his nephew, but all that came out was a guttural shout, a primal expression of pure rage. Aeddan’s shock turned to anger real quick, and he struggled to free himself from the Captain’s graps.

“Get off me!” he shouted. His world erupted in a burst of pain as he received a vicious headbutt to the bridge of his nose.

“DON’T YOU EVER SAY THAT!” screamed his Captain. As Aeddan’s vision began to clear, he could see purplish blood splattered across his uncle’s forehead.

“Don’t you ever...” Henry began to repeat, though the fire had left his voice quickly as he looked at Aeddan’s face. He let his nephew go at once and stepped back, his chest still heaving as he struggled for control.

“I’m… I’m sorry,” he whispered, tears forming in his eyes. Aeddan only gave him a murderous glare in response. He stumbled backwards and sat on the edge of his desk.

“I just lost track of the date,” he explained.

“Uh-huh,” said Aeddan, his voice muddled by his broken nose. Henry closed his eyes, trying to keep himself together.

“You know how much your mother meant to me,” he said.

“No, I don’t know!” spat Aeddan. “You haven’t said five fucking words about her since the funeral; you just huddle in the back of the room at the remembrances like you don’t want to be there, and now you’ve plain forgotten the day she died!”

Henry lurched towards Aeddan in renewed rage, and his nephew raised his fists defensively. He stopped short, but raised a fist of his own.

“Say that one more god damned time, Aeddan, and I will beat the shit out of you,” he promised. “Your mother was everything to me. Everything! You understand!?”

“Then why-” Aeddan began to ask.

“Because it hurts too much to think about!” shouted Henry. “Because every day that passes without her is a fucking knife in my chest, and the only thing that keeps me going is killing every last motherfucker responsible! Because being around all the other people who loved her is a reminder of what I lost!”

Tears filled his eyes, and Aeddan lowered his fists as his uncle vented. This was the most they had discussed Sara since the funeral, and now that he was started, Henry couldn’t stop.

“Your mother was everything to me,” he said. “She was what kept me going when every ounce of my being wanted to stop. I loved her more than life itself.”

“Why don’t you say this to us?” pleaded Aeddan, who was likewise spilling tears. “Why don’t you grieve with us?”

“Because you wouldn’t understand,” said Henry. “You all knew her as the strong, free, amazing woman she was, but none of you shared your soul with her like I did. We were made together, Aeddan. We were forged in the same crucible, of the same steel. We shared the same fucking soul, and losing that is not something you recover from.”

“You could try,” implored Aeddan. Henry shook his head lightly, turning away from his nephew and staggering towards the window, where his older self and Q stood watch.

“Do you remember what I said at her funeral?” asked Henry. “About how her light lived on in every soul she ever touched?”

“Yeah,” said Aeddan. “It was the truth.”

“Maybe for you,” said Henry, “but not for me. My light is gone, Aeddan, and it’s not coming back.”

“Uncle-”

“I will spend what little is left of me punishing Section 31, and when I can’t do it any more, I will be gone, whether by their hand or mine.”

Aeddan watched his uncle, overcome with a profound sadness. The man’s tone was final.

“I guess I’ll be in sickbay,” said Aeddan. “Will you be there tonight?”

“No.”

The scene melted away, and Q and Henry stood once more in the cave. The old man slumped against the wall with a distant look in his eyes, and Q regarded him in silence.

“I should never have taken Aeddan on with me,” he said after a while. “He deserved better than that.”

“That was… something,” said Q, leaning against the opposite wall. She seemed almost tired.

“Are you satisfied?” he asked. “Have I sated your hunger for my suffering?”

“Your suffering?” questioned Q. “Is that what you think I’m here to see? Your suffering?”

“It’s all we’ve seen,” he challenged.

“You poor mortal,” sighed Q. “Your suffering doesn’t interest me.”

“Then what the hell was the point of all this?”
Last edited by C. J. Short on Sat Oct 08, 2016 12:02 am, edited 1 time in total.
"As long as I have a want, I have a reason for living. Satisfaction is death." - George Bernard Shaw, Overruled

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Re: AUX Henry Sumner, SCE

Postby Aoibhe Ni » Fri Oct 07, 2016 12:31 am

Oh my god, then... What WAS the point, CJ?!?
Tell us!

This was magnificent, by the way. You write entire, believable worlds in just a few paragraphs. That's an enviable talent.

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Re: AUX Henry Sumner, SCE

Postby Einar S » Fri Oct 07, 2016 11:13 am

I'm so sad reading this. Also seeing the cycle of abuse.

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Re: AUX Henry Sumner, SCE

Postby C. J. Short » Mon Oct 10, 2016 7:51 am

The Seven Deaths of Henry Sumner - Part 11

“Well!?” prompted Henry. “Out with it, you insufferable shit; why have you done this to me!? Why have you insisted on making me revisit my most painful memories, if not for your fucking amusement?”

Q only smiled at first, though there was a hint of sadness in the expression.

“Because I needed to see it,” she explained.

“Stop fucking talking around the question!” Henry accused. “Why couldn’t you just let me die in peace, like I wanted? What could you possibly gain?”

“Understanding,” said Q.

“Oh, fuck you,” growled Henry, his voice thick with an impenetrable bitterness. “You’re full of shit. You have been enjoying seeing me at my worst, torturing me by making me relive my darkest memories. You’re sick, your people are sick, and I’m done indulging your sickness. Leave me to my fate.”

“No,” said Q.

“Fucking Christ,” huffed Henry, exhausted and exasperated by this creature’s game. “This is hell, isn’t it? The afterlife is real, and now I’m damned to suffer eternal torture by some teenage-looking sociopath.”

This amused Q, and she gave a hearty chuckle.

“Sorry,” she said after a moment. “It’s just… this is why.”

“What is why?”

“This. Even now, at the end of things, there is levity in you. There is some spark of life despite the mountain of shit you’ve had to crawl through to get here.”

Henry furrowed his brow, not sure what to make of that. It had managed to take the bite out of his irritation, however. He moved to sit on the ground after a heavy sigh, looking to his non-linear companion.

“I needed to see your pain, Henry,” said Q. “I needed to see these moments that broke you.”

“Why?” he asked, tears welling in his eyes. He had never been so tired; he could feel the drain in his very soul. Whatever spark Q was talking about didn’t have much left.

“To understand the painting,” she answered, folding her arms. If he didn’t know better, Henry might think it was a sign of vulnerability.

“Tell me about this painting,” choked Henry. The tears rolled warm down his cheeks as he closed his eyes. Had he the energy, he might have attempted to will himself to sleep.

“It’s a limited metaphor,” she qualified. “Really, it’s more like an impression, and the impression I get of you is… Well, it’s complicated.”

“No shit,” said Henry, who managed a lone huff of a chuckle.

“I see incredible strength in you, Henry. For a mortal, you’re practically indomitable, but I also see the pain. I see the fragility, and the anguish, and I could not reconcile this conflicting image.”

Something about the way Q spoke had changed, and it caused Henry to gaze at her questioningly.

“If you see strength, you are hallucinating,” he lamented.

“No, I’m not,” she countered. “In seeing the events of your life, the moments of darkness, where you felt like you might break, I have seen the truth of you. My impression, the painting, they’re starting to make more sense.”

“Enlighten me.”

“You, Henry Sumner, are strong precisely because you are fragile.”

Henry frowned in thought. This seemed like a distinctly Q thing to say – it was absurd on the surface, but there was a hint of revelation behind it, buried in metaphor.

“How many people do you think suffer prolonged abuse as children and don’t just let it define them?” she asked.

“How many people, when faced with the notion that they might be an entitled little shit, actually reflect on themselves? How many people fight the battles you’ve fought, and taken the losses you have, and continually refuse to give in to despair? You get hurt, and you let yourself feel that hurt, and you let it make you strong. How many people do you think do that? Because it’s not many, Henry. In fact, it’s very few, relatively speaking."

Henry wanted to argue that. He wanted to tell her that every single person he fought those battles with had been just as strong as he had been. He wanted to tell her that she was wrong about mortals, that they were stronger than the Q gave them credit for.

But then he thought of his mother, and how she’d taken to drinking after all her children had left. She spent most of the last decade of her life almost catatonic. He thought of Tom Benson, who battled post-traumatic stress years after New Juarez and lost. He thought of Jes, who resigned her commission after Sigma Rho and went home to a quiet life on Trill.

In the end, he could only settle on one flaw in Q’s assessment.

“But I broke,” he mumbled, his voice hoarse and his throat dry. “They took my sister from me, and I broke.” A new batch of tears spilled from his eyes as he thought of Sara. Whatever strength he’d ever had was because of her, and nothing Q could say would change that.

“You were wounded,” she corrected. “Mortally so. But you didn’t just lay down and die. You pressed on, and you used what time you had left to do as much good as possible.”

“No I didn’t,” he argued, shaking his head. “I sought vengeance. I wanted blood.”

“Part of you did,” she conceded. “But you didn’t go out guns blazing. You didn’t risk the lives of your crew for vengeance, even if you thought otherwise. Do you know what you did?”

Henry looked to her, but didn’t answer. He was too tired to argue any more.

“You fought for your people instead of forsaking them. You fought for your ideals instead of abandoning them. You fought for your sister, and what she would have wanted.”

Henry gave a pained gasp, burying his face in his hands. He didn’t want to hear this. He didn’t want to think of himself as a good person, or a strong person, because he had never felt like one. All his life, he had felt like a weak man and an angry man. He didn’t know this person Q was describing.

“You turned the tide of the war, Henry,” said Q, who now sounded much closer. He lowered his hands to see her crouched directly in front of him. “With the last of your strength, you saved your people.”

“Stop,” he finally whispered. “Just stop, please. I don’t know this man you see. I only know the darkness, and the despair, and the fucking endless exhaustion of being. I just want it to be over. I don’t want to feel anything any more.”

“Soon,” she said, her voice oddly soothing. “You have given everything you’ve ever had, and you deserve to rest. But first, I have a gift for you, mortal.”

Henry looked at her through tear-blurred eyes. Fear and trepidation filled him at that moment. Would she make him see his sister again? Kesh? He didn’t think he’d be able to handle that. He didn’t want them to see the broken and empty man he believed he had become.

“Just let me go,” he said, and his voice sounded miles away. The spark was almost out. He felt a hand on his cheek, and he couldn’t stop himself from nuzzling against it. He didn’t want to open his eyes. He didn’t want to see Sara. His heart wouldn’t take it.

Q took his face in both hands and leaned forward, kissing him gently on the forehead. In an instant, his mind erupted in thought and sensation, a silent roar that tore through his very existence. At first he was simply overwhelmed, but soon he began to catch glimpses and fragments of thoughts and images. He saw himself, and his sister, and Kesh, and his mother and father, and people he did not know. He saw Earth and Vulcan and New Juarez and Risa. He felt himself flying through the Bajoran Wormhole, and the Betreka Nebula, and the Typhon Expanse. He felt love and hate and joy and despair and triumph and defeat.

It was as if all the multiverse were contained within his mind, and for one infinitesimal instant, he understood. He saw all possible versions of himself and the worlds he lived in. He saw the vicious and the saintly, the cowardly and the brave, the pain and the succor. All of existence sprawled before him, at once maddening and serene as all of life’s answers filled the pathways of his being.

And somewhere, tucked away in a tiny corner of existence, there was a Henry Sumner who fought the good fight and won, a Henry Sumner who, despite all odds, was happy and content.

For one brief moment, Henry Sumner knew all there was to know.

For one brief moment, he knew warmth, and joy, and satisfaction.

For one brief moment, he knew peace.

And then he knew nothing at all.
Last edited by C. J. Short on Mon Oct 10, 2016 6:23 pm, edited 2 times in total.
"As long as I have a want, I have a reason for living. Satisfaction is death." - George Bernard Shaw, Overruled

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Re: AUX Henry Sumner, SCE

Postby C. J. Short » Mon Oct 10, 2016 7:51 am

13,000 words later, it is finished.
"As long as I have a want, I have a reason for living. Satisfaction is death." - George Bernard Shaw, Overruled

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