((Temporary Officer's Quarters, USS Gorkon - Grace's quarters - Four days post mission, En route to Earth)) ::Grace had only seen Millis out a few minutes before when the door chime went off again.:: Freeman: Who is it? Bancroft: It's... me. ::Grace leapt to her feet from the comfy chair and the book she'd gone back to reading went flying from her lap. She quickly hid the bottle that Millis had left in her recently replicated go-bag, which now contained all of her armor, zipping it so it was covered, and then moved to the door.:: Freeman: Door open. ::The door swished open to reveal Colleen, hands twisted in front of her and looking like she was about to turn and run away. The two stared at each other for several seconds, Colleen's hands pausing, and then Grace sighed and stepped back.:: Freeman: Well come in. ::Colleen did, entering the room and letting the door whisk closed behind her. She stayed just outside of its sensor range as if she was still considering turning around and leaving, her nerves jangling. Grace walked back over to the chair and sat down in it, legs curled under her, retrieving the book and setting it on the table as she did. They watched each other, silently, for a solid thirty seconds, before Colleen walked over to one of the chairs at the table and flipped it around, sitting backwards on it and leaning against the backrest. Grace continued to watch silently for several more moments before speaking, her voice quiet and full of too many emotions.:: Freeman: So...? Bancroft: ::Suddenly:: I shouldn't have come. ::She jumped to her feet and headed for the door, definitely not sure of what she'd wanted now =E2=80=94= sure, she'd sort of known on her way here, but apparently it'd all been washed away when she walked through the door.:: Freeman: ::Quietly:: Don't go. ::She stopped, still turned away from her ex.:: Freeman: Please, stay, sit. ::Colleen stayed standing for several seconds, swaying slightly like she was about to bolt out the door, but with an effort, she turned around and headed back to the chair, resuming her position.:: Freeman: I... I'm sorry. Bancroft: For what? Freeman: For everything. Bancroft: ::With a brief, hollow bark of laughter and leaning back slightly:: Define everything. ::Grace half glared at Colleen, wishing the other woman would just give her a bit of a break, while Colleen's mood turned towards anger. She wasn't sure what she'd been expecting here, but it wasn't living up to her (admittedly irrational) expectations.:: Freeman: For breaking up with you so suddenly. For not telling you my plans. For how we met on that planet. For... for everything, dammit. It wasn't my intention to hurt you, but things happened so fast back then, and then the other day... ::She threw her hands out to the side in a helpless gesture.:: ::Colleen stared quietly at Grace for a few moments before responding.:: Bancroft: You left me, completely out of the blue, and then just dropped off the radar. Disappeared. I tried to contact you, Grace. Freeman: I know, I know! And I wish I could have responded. I'm sorry. I was under orders. I've been under a communications blackout with the rest of the universe for the past year something. ::Colleen made as if she was going to throw something at Grace, but there was nothing to throw.:: Bancroft: ::Voice gaining in volume:: You interrupted me. You were my partner and my best damn friend, and you up and disappeared. I understand that communications blackouts are a thing, but for an entire year? ::Almost yelling at this point:: That's absurd! Surely you could've messaged me, at least =E2=80=94 at least once! We were engaged, for fraks sake! ::Grace shook her head, short and sharp, and her next words came out like steel.:: Freeman: No. I couldn't have. ::Voice softening once more:: It's been a really... really long year. ::Colleen looked hard at Grace as she spoke the last sentence, and noticed just how deep the crease lines on her ex's face were, how much her eyes had changed =E2=80=94 almost as if storms had taken up residence in them =E2=80= =94 and then there was the matter of the scars. Four, easily countable from three meters away, and that was just on the face and right arm. Two more on the left arm with slightly more looking. Grace had changed in the time since they'd graduated the Academy.:: Bancroft: ::Much quieter:: What happened out there? Freeman: A... a lot. ::They sat in silence for several minutes, then Colleen slowly stood and walked to the couch, sitting down on it so she was facing its other end. Grace watched her sit down before moving to the couch herself, leaning against the opposite end so she was facing her old girlfriend. She moved one foot to touch Colleen's leg, hesitantly, but Colleen didn't push it away, to both of their surprises.:: Freeman: You know... how Starfleet is supposed to be peaceful? I mean, Dominion war and a few others excepted, but Starfleet is supposed to be for exploration, right? ::Colleen nodded, staying quiet. It seemed like Grace was finally starting to open up, and she didn't want to interrupt that.:: Freeman: Well... yeah. Part of Starfleet does that, anyway. Most of it. Then there's us... the Rangers. We're for when the peaceful solution doesn't work. For when the enemy thinks sideways, and most of Starfleet doesn't want to think that way. ::Opening her mouth to protest, Colleen stopped and thought better of it.:: I was recruited to join the Rangers in our third year at the Academy. I spent a lot of time thinking about it, weighing my options. There was a lot of... stuff there, a lot of... ::She circled her hands through the air, as if trying to spin the words out:: Stuff. They told me I was a perfect fit for the Rangers, aptitude tests, etc. Didn't even know I'd been through any of those. So they told me what it'd be like, and it sounded like fun? Like a challenge? A bigger challenge than I was going to face elsewhere, aboard some random starship. And they needed intelligence officers. There were only like three of us who made the cut in the end, and I was one of them. ::Grace paused here, voice quieting further as she thought about the past and tried to relay it to her old friend. A lot had happened in a short amount of time of their life, especially for her, and she was only allowed to talk about parts of it.:: Freeman: One of the first things that was... strongly suggested... to us as candidates was to make minimal personal ties. To cut those we could. Being a Ranger is a dangerous job, and you never know what's going to happen out there. I guess the reasoning is that the less ties you have, the more effective you have. The less distracted you are. So... so I threw myself into it. You weren't the only one I left in the cold, and gods, I'm so sorry... ::she trailed off for a moment before refocusing and continuing at Colleen's half-heartedly annoyed look.:: I threw myself into the training and worked at it, so hard. They didn't give us any time off. From the time I said yes to the time we hit the field, there were no more breaks. Each semester, we trained while we weren't in class. Between semesters, we trained from the time we woke up to the time we went to bed. Barely stopped to eat. And oh, was it hard training. I spent a lot of time burying all the old memories, including... well... us. ::Here, she had to pause again. She could say even less about what happened after training, and she had to keep her head straight.:: Freeman: It was mission after mission. No real downtime. Always on our feet. I barely sleep anymore, and if I do, it's only a few hours a night. Still manage to stay solid though. ::A touch of pride showed through at that.:: Bancroft: Probably not something to be proud of, Grace... Freeman: Hush. ::She smiled, ever so slightly, for the first time since Colleen had entered her room.:: And it continued to be mission after mission. I think in that year, we took one shore leave? And it was cut short. Our team was run ragged. This was supposed to be our last mission for a while, so I'm hoping this shore leave actually lasts a while. ::She sighed:: What I'm about to tell you is entirely classified, and I would probably get in trouble for telling you this =E2=80=94 but since I'm the on= ly Intelligence officer on the ship that's active Intelligence, we're probably good =E2=80=94 I hope. ::Colleen raised her eyebrows at her former fiancee, but didn't try to stop her from saying it. She knew she probably should, but wasn't sure she cared right then.:: Freeman: My unclassified kill count continues to sit at zero. ::She paused, taking a breath.:: In reality, it's over thirty. ::At that, Colleen's mouth dropped open. Her brain skittered over the information, trying to absorb it. This was Starfleet, and they weren't in the middle of an active war. Nobody was supposed to have an active kill count! No one! And, kill counts only counted for direct combat - most security and tactical personnel didn't even have a kill count, and that was a reluctant part of the job description.:: Bancroft: ::Flatly:: What. Freeman: Some of them were self defense. Most of them... weren't. And I had the second lowest kill count on the team. ::Well, that had definitely been too much information, but that cat was out of that bag.:: oO Bad Intel officer! Bad! Oo Bancroft: How... Freeman: Classified. Every single mission... they were all classified, so only certain people are even allowed to know that. You, ah, probably shouldn't tell anybody that you know that either. ::Grace twisted her mouth in a lopsided half-smile that only counted as a smile in pure mechanics. There was no joy behind it. The two were both quiet for a moment, and Colleen's mind continued to run in overdrive.:: Bancroft: I don't... I don't know what to say to that. Freeman: Yeah, sorry. There isn't exactly much to be said. It's just... a thing. Terrible, mind you, but a thing. Bancroft: Right... Um. ::Colleen curled into herself slightly, unconsciously pulling away from Grace, but only a bit.:: Freeman: Sorry. For that. ::She waved her hand in the air, as if trying to wipe away what she'd just revealed.:: Bancroft: I... I mean, it's part of it, but... ::There was another uncomfortable silence, like too much of the time in this conversation had been already. They both cast about as if trying to find a nicer subject to talk about. Unfortunately, between them, there wasn't much light or nice to discuss.:: -- (PNPC) Ensign Grace Freeman Weapons and Intelligence Specialist 451st Rangers Platoon USS Gorkon (Simmed by) And >\/< Ensign Colleen Bancroft Security and Tactical Officer USS Gorkon G239404CB0 --=20 You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups "= UFOP: StarBase 118: USS Gorkon" group. 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