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Calls In the Night - GM: Read At Your Own Risk: Trigger Warning: Suicide

Posted on Wed Aug 25th, 2021 @ 1:31pm by 2nd Lieutenant Christian Rogers & Petty Officer 2nd Class Corvus Hannah [Rogers]
Edited on on Thu Aug 26th, 2021 @ 1:56pm

Mission: Pre-Launch + Pre-Mission 1 Stories
Location: Rogers' Quarters
Timeline: 2nd Day Out

He didn’t know what time it was or even how long he’d been asleep. It was sometime into Gamma shift, that much he knew since he’d gone to bed and fell asleep shortly before the start of Gamma. Judging from how groggy he felt, maybe an hour and a half or two hours had passed since he’d fallen asleep.

The alert sounded again. “Rogers here,” he said, rolling onto his back and looking up toward the ceiling. He could check the chronometer but he was hoping this was just a momentary interruption and he’d be able to go back to sleep until his alarm went off to wake him up at the standard time.

“Incoming priority message,” the voice spoke quickly, calmly and quietly in deference to the hour. Rogers was sure that meant that it wasn’t an emergency that required him to leave his quarters and go on duty. For that, at least, he could be grateful. But who would be sending him a priority message at this time of night? And when he was this far into the Delta Quadrant?

“Thank you, on my station here,” he said, tossing aside the blankets and standing. He moved over to the desk in his quarters, not bothering to put on any additional clothing. Whoever felt the need to use a priority channel was either someone he knew well enough that he didn’t feel the need to put on a shirt or it was important enough that the sender would just have to deal with his bare chest.

“Lieutenant Rogers,” Sarkasian said as he adjusted himself in the chair before his own monitor. The room surrounding him was warmly appointed in honey wood tones with bookshelves, art and the comfortably stuffed leather chair in which he sat. “How’s my nephew holding up?”

Rogers sighed. “Well enough,” he answered. The newly minted Petty Officer 3rd was a last minute addition to the MACO team assigned only hours before Rogers and the rest were to report to the Pioneer for onboarding. “You didn’t call me in the middle of the night to ask about Warren though.”

Sarkasian gave a quick grin before leaning back in the chair. “No, Lieutenant I didn’t.” He looked away for a moment then turned back. The false cheerfulness he’d been displaying dropped. “It is with regret that I inform you that Sergeant Thomas Newton was found deceased in his room earlier this evening.”

On some level Rogers expected that news to be coming but it still struck him like a solid blow to the chest. He stared at the monitor, slowly shaking his head. He found his throat locked, any attempt to speak completely blocked.

“We’re conducting an investigation, of course,” Sarkasian continued, as if aware of the difficulty Rogers was having. “But, Christian,” the use of Roger’s given name alone told Rogers how difficult Sarkasian knew he would take this news, “it’s pretty clear what happened.”

Rogers rubbed his face and took a breath, “Yes, sir,” he said, his voice shaky despite his attempt to keep it under control. He held his hands together, just out of view of the camera. He swallowed hard and shook his head, not sure what else to say. “Did did he…” then he shook his head, squeezing his eyes shut just after his vision blurred. “Never mind, Captain, don’t...please don’t answer that.”

Sarkasian shook his head. “He left a message for you. I’m sending it along. Christian, you did all you could. No one can say otherwise. Nor should they. Not even you.”

“No, Captain,” Rogers said, staring off to the side of the screen. At some vague, bland Starfleet assigned décor on the wall of his quarters. He hadn’t been here long enough to have begun changing anything yet – other than hanging the bats and signed baseballs. That was something he wouldn’t have let wait past his first opportunity. “No, I didn’t. I should have forced him into help sooner. I shouldn’t have let him...I…” He broke off as he heard his voice breaking.

“Christian, I’m here if you need me, or someone, to talk to about this. But I’ll say it again, you did the best you could. I’ll say that everytime.”

“Yes, Captain,” Rogers said, waiting to clear the call. Sarkasian took just a few more moments to give a perfunctory goodbye and reminder that he was available if necessary. The screen went to the Starfleet logo. Rogers didn’t realize he sat still and motionless until the desk computer beeped signaling the message arrived.

Rogers went through the motions to transfer the message to his PaDD and then let the Padd remain on the desk as he got up and padded across the room and the windows. He folded his arms across his chest and stared out of the darkened room and into the vast darkness of space. He felt isolated and alone. Just the way he wanted to be. His focus shifted from the endless depths of the newly arrived Delta Quadrant to the faint, ghostly reflection on the window.

A barely there image. A ghost.

He bowed his head and squeezed his eyes tight. “Newton,” he said, covering his face with one large hand. He’d left a message. Through training and experience, Rogers knew that was unusual. Most people who…

It was unusual. Whatever he had to say, whatever his final thoughts for Rogers was, it had to be important. It was just...Rogers just couldn’t. Not right now. Trying to find solace in the cold, barren and emotionally devoid reaches of space, Rogers wasn’t sure he would ever be able to view that message. That final message.

Hours later…

Rogers worked to stifle the yawn. He’d been awake since the priority call from Sarkasian. There was never any real doubt that he’d be able to get back to sleep. He’d already told the MACO team to remain behind after the morning briefing. As the others filed out and his team remained behind, Rogers tapped the PaDD against his thigh, listening to their chatter. Most of it was discussing their assignments and the differences between what they were doing now as opposed to before. On a more typical voyage they would have been focused on mission specific training. This was new for most of them – having actual daily duties to perform in conjunction with security teams. So far they seemed to be adapting well.

The door to the room closed behind the last goldback and Rogers only then realized he’d been holding his breath. He let it out slow, telling himself he needed to relax as he glanced around the room at his team. Except for Warren, Sarkasian’s nephew and the only new member of the team, he’d served with these Marines for almost as long as he’d been an officer. There was also Hannah. Technically a Fleeter but he was one of them as much as if he’d enlisted in the Corps the same as the rest of them.

“Okay, listen up,” he said, setting the PaDD on the counter before him. “A few things as we go forward.” He glanced out across the team again. “Brownie, it’s official, the orders came in this morning. You’re officially squad leader and will also act in the capacity of unit XO.”

The choices were between him, Chakton and Weidlin but Brownell had more seniority and was, in Roger’s opinion, a better choice. He was much more outgoing and personable than Rogers. Since he had more day to day contact with the team it was important qualities for the XO to have. The darkside mirror to Rogers’s own abilities. He waited several long moments for the others to congratulate and give Brownie grief on the new position. Then, as he felt he’d given enough time, he held up a hand calling for silence.

“There is something more,” he said, picking up the PaDD and tapping it on the counter. “There is...I feel I should tell you in person.” He started. He wasn’t sure how to continue though as he glanced up at them. “I…” he shook his head and tried to keep his breathing even and calm. “Late last night,” he said, talking slowly, trying to draw it out as much as he could. Somehow, if he didn’t have to say the words then maybe it wouldn’t be real for them. Perhaps only he needed to bear the burden of the news.

“Everything okay, Lieutenant?” Brownie asked, sitting forward in his chair.

“No,” Rogers said, giving Brownie a half smile. “No, it’s not.” He tapped the PaDD against the counter a few more times. “I was notified last night that Sergeant Newton was found…” Rogers stopped for a moment as he turned his glance to the counter. “Newton died yesterday, Federation standard time.”

Silence spun about the room for a moment, only a moment before they began talking at once. Rogers shook his head as he held up a hand – wishing he thought to bring the football with him. He used it often enough to keep order to conversations like this. Those that spoke when not holding the ball were considered committing a ‘foul’ and faced a penalty.

Only Hannah remained quiet, Rogers noticed. Except for the discomfort of being in another’s head, he was tempted to ‘listen’ to Hannah’s thoughts. But, then realized he didn’t need to listen in to Hannah’s thoughts.

“Lock it up!” Brownie said, standing to his full height and facing the room. His voice boomed as he glared down at them. It almost brought a smile to Rogers’s face as he realized it was his first official act as squad leader. “Lieutenant can’t possibly answer any questions when we’re all throwing them about like a bunch of monkeys with their feces!”

“An apt analogy,” Rogers muttered as he rolled his eyes. Louder, however, he said. “To answer the most important question, yes,” Rogers said, finding his voice lowering as he spoke. “Newton lost his battles and took his own life yesterday afternoon. He left-”

Rogers stopped as the noise of Hannah, standing suddenly from his seated position and grabbing his pack. He glared at Rogers for half a second before turning suddenly and pushing his way to the door.

“Hannah!” Brownie said, calling after the young medic. “Return to your seat until you’re-”

“It’s okay, Sergeant,” Rogers said, watching Hannah struggle to get his arms through the straps of his pack as he rushed to the door and then through it. “Let him go. In fact, anyone that feels the need to go, you’re dismissed.” He braced himself. “Anyone that has any questions, I’ll try to answer what I can.” He noticed Warren looked confused. He didn’t know Newton and wasn’t sure if he needed to stay or not. Rogers motioned that he should leave. Warren also got up, albeit not as quickly or rushed as Hannah, and walked out of the room.

“Tonight,” Rogers heard himself saying, forestalling any questions that he didn’t want to have to try to answer, “at 2000 hours, I’m hosting a memorial service for Sergeant Newton. Attendance is…” he wanted to make it compulsory but as he looked around he stunned, pained faces of his team he knew that was wrong. How often did he resent CO’s making it mandatory that he attend memorial functions when it was the last thing he wanted to do? “Attendance is voluntary. Anybody have any questions at the moment?” He hoped the shock of the announcement would throw them off balance enough that he would have some time to help process everything for himself.

Chakton raised a hand, his face showing the deep grief the news created in him. Rogers scowled but nodded to him.

“How could he do it?” Chakton asked. Though it sounded like a question of mechanics, Rogers knew it for what it was. A very simple, very monosyllabic and very painful question that was summed up as “Why?”

It was definitely the one question Rogers was dreading the most. The one question he knew he could never answer. There were lots of reasons for it – the mission Newton never got over, the gruesome death of Corporal Edwards in front of him. His own helplessness in preventing what happened to Edwards. Guilt – shame – recriminations. All of it. There were logical, rational reasons for why Newton got to the point he got to...but, as far as Rogers understood, as far as he felt, he would never, ever be able to answer that simple question of “why”. Which led him to say the one phrase he hated to utter – the one thing to which he hated admitting as it was an admission of weakness. And weakness was something he hated showing. But, he looked directly at Chakton, knowing he deserved the most straight forward, honest answer he could give.

“I don’t know,” he answered. “He left a message but,” he realized he couldn’t say more than that because he’d still not played the message. Still hadn’t let Newton tell him whatever he felt was necessary to tell him. “I haven’t played it yet because…” He looked around those left in the room. Because it hurt too much, was the real reason but he wasn’t going to be that open and vulnerable about himself.

“I’ve alerted the ship’s counselors that there may be an issue that some of you may want to discuss privately,” he said instead. “They assured me they’ll make themselves available for any of you that may want to talk with them.”

This time, Rogers promised himself, anybody that showed they might have any issues at all would be forced to see a counselor. He wasn’t going to make the same mistakes with anyone else that he made with Newton. Not ever again with those he cared about.

The room remained quiet for several long moments. Finally Brownie stood again. “Okay, you got your assignments for the day. Lieutenant Rogers will get me more details for the memorial service and I’ll disseminate them to each of you in turn.”

“One last thing,” Rogers said, “even more so right now, my door is always open to any of you for anything you may need.”

Brownie nodded at that. “Dismissed,” he said to the others before walking over to Rogers. “Lieutenant, what about you?”

“Sorry, Sergeant?” Rogers asked.

Brownie sighed. “I know how you feel about breach of protocols, Lieutenant,” he said, “but you don’t have to handle this by yourself if you don’t want. You can come to me if you need.”

“Understood,” Rogers said, pocketing his PaDD. He appreciated the offer and sentiment but knew he wouldn’t avail himself of it. Not with a subordinate. Which was just an excuse. If he were being completely honest with himself, he wouldn’t take anyone up on that offer because that would be leaving himself vulnerable and at the mercy of others. Something he strove to protect himself from since he was a child. “Stop by my office later and I’ll brief you on anything you need to know for your new duties.”

“Understood, Lieutenant,” Brownie said, frowning as he turned to leave the room. Rogers watched the tall man’s broad, muscular back until the door closed on it.

“Thank you, I appreciate the offer,” Rogers said only after the doors closed.


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