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Posted on Tue Jun 8th, 2021 @ 10:16pm by Captain Jocelyn Blake
Edited on on Tue Jun 8th, 2021 @ 10:17pm

Mission: Episode 2: 18th and Constitution
Location: Starfleet Command Press Briefing Room
Timeline: Mission Day 1 at 1800

There was blood everywhere. Green mingling with red in a livid nightmare of viscous fluids that seemed unstoppable as they crept around debris and pooled beside limbs. Jocleyn was on her knees--warm green blood seeping into her uniform where it ran from the body next to her so that she was as much a part of the growing pool as she was separate.

His lips were moving. She leaned closer, trying and failing to hear the words--possibly the last ones--that Sturnack was speaking. Her ears still rung from the blast. She lifted her hands to them, smearing blood in her ear as she did, as if somehow clearing them would make it possible for her to hear what was being said.

She was suddenly painfully aware of her hands as she dropped them back to her lap. They were both covered in grime and dust, one made useless by whatever she had been holding when the blast hit. She tried, for a moment, to remember how she had hurt it, but the memory was completely washed out by the pool of blood before her.

She knew, in some far corner of her brain, that she was screaming. Yelling for help, while a different part of her felt as though she was watching from a distance. Held back by some invisible force from doing anything helpful beyond witnessing the horror that played out beside her.

Her hands flew up again of their own accord; hovering uselessly over the CinC as if she could somehow stem the tide of his bleeding. Her fingers trembled and fluttered above him and a wave of anger overtook her followed quickly by panic. She was useless. There was nothing she could do. She couldn’t even make out what he was saying.

From very far away she heard someone calling her name, but she ignored it. This was more important. The medics flying into action as they arrived next to her, pulled her back to her feet directing her a few steps away where she now stood, still completely useless, to the side.

There it was, her name again. She frowned deeply. Couldn’t they see where she was? Who she was standing next to?

A hand settled heavily on her shoulder.

“Captain Blake,” a female voice, calm but insistent repeated her name again and this time it broke through.

Blinking, she looked to her side where the owner of the hand stood -- an aide she didn’t recognize in a clean uniform.

“Captain Blake, are you ok?” the woman asked.

She blinked again, the hallway outside of the press briefing room coming into focus around her -- two security guards stood to either side of the door, a testament that her conversation with the Fleet Admiral that morning had, in fact, taken place no matter how bizarrely unreal it felt in her mind.

Her own uniform was newly replicated. She smoothed her hands down her thighs, dermal bandages on one feeling cool and foreign--the slight pressure causing her to wince.

“I’m fine,” she finally replied to the aide though her tone was unconvincing. “Just distracted.”

The woman nodded. “They’re ready for you,” she stated simply.

Jocelyn drew in a shaky breath, pushing it out in the way Sturnack had taught her only that morning. She tried to picture her parents’ screen door, but hesitated to close her eyes for fear that the blood and screaming would rush back in. And so she settled for merely breathing.

“Ok. Let’s go,” she finally said, not waiting for anyone to move before entering through the door. The two security guards followed behind, one splitting off to stand to the back of the room while one stood to the side of the dias.

The noise of the room hushed at an almost unnatural rate when she entered, the press--what few were able to make it from the disaster itself and, in many cases, their stand ins--were all seated, faces grim. She surveyed the room as she entered, her own face mirroring the seriousness reflected in the individuals in front of her.

Taking a breath again she stepped up to the podium.

“Good afternoon,” she began, reaching up to adjust her glasses. A frown crossed her features as bandaged fingers met her nose. Muscle memory. There hadn’t been time to find a new pair. Awkwardly she let her hand fall back to her side.

“As you already know, at 1413 hours several explosions were detonated at the opening ceremony for the Romulan Embassy. High ranking officials from the Romulan Star Empire, the Federation Council, and Starfleet Command were present at the event.”

She paused, surveying the room again--the gazes of each person centered squarely on her. “While information is slow I can now report that President Patel and Fleet Admiral Sturnack have both been transported to Starfleet Medical for emergency surgery. In the absence of the Commander in Chief the emergency chain of command has been activated and Rear Admiral Joshua Whitford is now Acting Commander in Chief.”

The words left a bad taste in her mouth. Somehow, despite his high rank, Whitford had suffered only minor abrasions. She was sure he had been present and yet was miraculously spared much of the harm. Darkly she found herself wishing it was him undergoing a procedure at Starfleet Medical in which his fate was entirely uncertain and not Fleet Admiral Sturnack.

“Representatives from Homeworld Security and the Romulan Star Empire are already collaborating to determine who is responsible for such wanton and horrific destruction,” she continued. “At present there have been 26 fatalities and 72 others who remain in serious condition under the care of Starfleet Medical. We will continue to keep you apprised as the investigation goes forward.”

She paused again, preparing herself for the next part. “I will take questions for the next 15 minutes.”

[Press Secretary’s Office]
[Starfleet Command]
[1930 Hours]

“Admiral Ul-tan is on the line for you, sir.”

The head of a woman she had only just began to recognized poked through her door, making her aware of the incoming call, but venturing no further into the room.

Lieutenant… Landingham. That was it. Landingham.

“Put her through to my viewscreen in here, Lieutenant,” Jocelyn said, acknowledging the woman as she did. Just before Landingham could pull her shock of dark hair from view she added. “Thank you.”

Landingham’s head bobbed in acknowledgement before receding from view. She had been doing that ever since she had first introduced herself, only entering Jocelyn’s office with a freshly replicated uniform after she had insisted the other woman do so. It was almost as though she was afraid to come too close. Jocelyn supposed that could be because of the security detail posted to the other side of her door, but chose to shut that line of thinking off. She needed to focus.

The viewscreen on the far wall lit up first with Starfleet’s emblem then with the face of Admiral Ul-tan. The neutral toned walls of Starfleet Medical outlined the Admiral's visage. She was clearly sitting up, perhaps at a desk, but there was no mistaking her location.

Ul-tan had also been at the embassy that afternoon and had been much closer to the destruction than Jocelyn. By a stroke of luck she had been shielded by the bodies of two other representatives--individuals whose names had been added to the ever growing death toll. SAfter being unearthed, Ul-tan had been transported to Starfleet Medical with many others, and it was clearly from there that she was calling.

“Admiral Ul-tan,” Jocelyn began by way of acknowledgment, “I wasn’t expecting to hear from you.”

Ul-tan’s normally neutral features were tired, dermal bandages were clearly affixed to the left side of her face and an old school butterfly suture held closed a nasty gash across her right eyebrow.

“Captain,” the Admiral began, "I hope you will understand when I skip the niceties and jump straight to the point. You’re aware that we were short a few key positions in our department before today’s events.”

The comment was half statement of certainty and half question. Jocelyn nodded, a pit of curiosity forming in her chest.

“This may seem neither the time nor place, but considering the state of things I’ll just be out with it,” Ul-tan continued. “You were lucky. We both were. And being lucky once does not mean we will be so again. Get yourself a Deputy Press Secretary. You can skip the interviews if you have someone you can trust, but make sure they have the right background clearance.”

The Admiral paused, seeming to hesitate as she chose her next words. She shifted where she was sitting a line of pain running across her features before she settled. “We both know Whitford has it out for you."

The understatement of the year. Whitford would already have had her removed from her position if he could have had his way.

Ul-tan continued. "Many of us who believe you’re fit for the job have been relegated to the sidelines right now. So it’s up to you to find yourself some allies. I don’t want to have to help the CinC vet another list for Press Secretary when I’m back. Understood?”

Jocelyn nodded solemnly then, deciding that wasn’t sufficient acknowledgement, added, “Yes sir.”

“Ok.” Ul-tan replied, seemingly uncomfortable with her own words mere days after telling Jocelyn that there was nothing she could do about Whitford. Giving the Press Secretary a long look she pursed her lips and then added, simply, “Ul-tan out.”

The screen went blank leaving Jocelyn to mull over the exchange and try to decide what had shifted enough to cause Admiral Ul-tan to even so much as nominally throw her a line.

She leaned back in her chair, muscles protesting the movement as she did so. Most of the staff had left by now, taking respite outside of these walls--away from things that could remind them of how significant the situation was. Jocelyn, however, had been hesitant to leave; not only because she wasn’t sure of the safety of her own home, but also because it had been hours and there was still no word on Fleet Admiral Sturnack. Somehow it just didn’t feel right to rest until there was at least some update.

“No time like the present,” she muttered to herself, straightening in her chair before tapping her commbadge. “Lieutenant Landingham, would you come in here for a moment? Bring a PADD.”

The doors to her office swished apart revealing the dark-haired woman.

“Lieutenant,” she said, waving the woman into a chair in front of her desk and then steepling her hands in front of herself. “Get Lieutenant Jordan Hoover on the line. We’ve got some things to discuss.”


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