Dealing With Demons
Location: Admiral's Office
Admiral Fisher sat in his office, having called Mason and Armstrong to come meet him there. They needed to discuss how things with SDS and the Stargate Rapid teams would work and integrate together. He hoped everything would go smoothly, and the hand offs would work with ease. He heard a knock on his door, and looked up. “Enter,” he said, and Colonel Armstrong walked in. “Ah, Colonel, please, have a seat. Mason should be here any moment,” Fisher said.
“Thank you Admiral,” Trevor said, taking a seat. He was curious how this whole SDS thing was going to work, but it should free up valuable personnel from the military to do the exploration. One of the few times he agreed with contracting. “I hope this works out,” he added, indicating the arrangements.
“Me too,” Fisher said with a slight smile.
Jordon left his office just as his watch beeped at him again, he checked it and found he’d been requested at the Admiral Office again for a Strategic Planning Meeting… or something… he was already starting wonder if his assistant colored things up a bit. He was about 10 feet from his door so the request must have just come in… or knowing her, she might have wanted a paper trail showing she did inform him. He kind of smiled, he was happy to at least have an assistant that would keep him on his toes.
He glanced around to reorient himself with the mental drawing of the base he’d studied, then headed to the meeting. It only took him about 5 minutes to reach the door. He could hear voices inside, but not what they were saying. He knocked firmly 3 times on the door, a habit he picked up in the cores, his last CO insisted… a firm 3 knocks no more, no less.
“Enter,” Fisher said, hearing the three knocks. He noticed Mason enter, and smiled. “Good to see you again, please,” have a seat,” the Admiral said, indicating the seat next to Armstrong.
Armstrong turned and smiled at the new person who entered. He had the look of a marine about him. Trevor had seen plenty of them in his time as a special forces pilot, landing them into hot zones with his Osprey, and extracting them as well. “Colonel, pleasure to meet you,” Trevor said, standing up and offering his hand. “Lieutenant Colonel Trevor Armstrong,” he said.
Jordon had always been lucky. While he had to deal with some PTSD from all the conflicts he’d been in, not to mention a few really bad missions. Aside from some insomnia, and the occasional problem with a fireworks show, he coped with what he went through well.
For not the first time, but nearly, he had a flashback. It lasted both a moment, and an eternity. His breathing became fast and somewhat shallow, the image of a good Marine falling to the ground a hole in his head, another who’s chest was making a sucking sound as he tried to breath. Jordon broke out in a cold sweat, and for a moment his legs felt weak. The image of a blurry Osprey, viewed through the gas mask he was wearing as it flew away, leaving him, his team, and a number of civilians to die.
Hundreds of images, maybe more continued to flash through his head in rapid succession. All the death, the injured, the fighting. The end of his Marine Corps career, the hard time he and his family went through after as he learned to live with what happened.
This felt like it’d taken years to him… but in reality, it’d been less than a second. The final image that burned into his head was a pilot glancing over his shoulder at the Marines as they boarded the craft in full chem suits.
The face was a nearly perfect match for the man standing before him. All his scattered feelings suddenly focused. Focused into rage. This was the man that’d cost the lives of most of his team. This was the man that had left him to die. This was the man that almost took him away from his family.
Armstrong had moved closer likely with the intent to shake hands. Jordon’s brain could no longer comprehend an action as cordial as that. Instinctively his left arm deflected the offered hand, his right balled into a fist and swung. A solid right hook flew towards Armstrong’s jaw. It was only at the last second that Jordon regained some measure of control. He tried to pull his punch, but at the speed his fist was moving, he could only do so much.
His fist connected with his target, his follow through was sloppy due to the attempt to pull the punch, but the damage was done. Not really sure what to expect, Jordon's body slipped into fight mode, he took a step back and was ready to counter the response, at the same time, his breathing started to return to normal, and his brain started to clear.
Fisher looked at the Colonel, seeing him pause in his tracks. “Everything okay Colonel?” the admiral asked while he raised an eyebrow, the reaction very curious. “You looked like you were about to kill someone.” Just as Fisher got the words out, he saw Mason connect a punch to Armstrong’s face. Immediately instincts kicked in, and he bellowed at the former Marine. “MASON, THAT IS ENOUGH.. STAND DOWN AND SIT YOUR ASS IN THAT CHAIR,” Fisher said, coming from around his desk.
Armstrong saw the punch coming, but he could not react fast enough to it. It connected, and it hurt, but he knew that the Colonel pulled his punch at the last moment. His immediate thought was to initiate a takedown, but knew that the Admiral would have it under control. “What the hell was THAT for?” Armstrong asked, rubbing his jaw.
Jordon heard the Admiral, but retained his defensive stance for a few moments longer, until he was sure that Armstrong wasn’t going to retaliate… as much as he hated the man, he had to give him credit, he seemed to understand that Mason had pulled the punch… either by the fact he was still on his feet, or just be reading his body language… he wasn’t sure… either way. It seemed like the threat of retaliation had passed… that being said… he also couldn’t obey the order to sit down… his blood was boiling, and sitting down wasn’t going to help… instead he started pacing… he needed to walk off the adrenaline spike.
With one final glance at Armstrong… he directed his attention towards the Admiral, and momentarily stopped pacing… “Sorry, Sir.” He said ignoring Armstrong’s question, “I can’t sit right now…” he paced a few more times back and forth, trying to organize his thoughts… the adrenalin still streaming through his system was making it difficult… he took a few deep breaths to try and calm himself down. “You’ve read my file, Sir.” He said thinking back to the day again… he was trying not to… every time he did, he could feel a fresh stream of adrenalin coursing through his veins. “Back in my Marine days… time I spent at Djibouti… we had a mission to the village of Diric” as he said the he couldn’t stop himself from throwing a look of disgust at Armstrong. “My team was left to die while we tried to save a few dozen villagers… mostly Women and Children… The pilot decided it wasn’t worth the lives of my men, or the villagers… and instead of giving us just the few more minutes we needed… left us behind…” he said summarizing the mission… at least part of it…
He knew the Admiral had read his file… but he couldn’t seem to stop from summarizing… He could almost see the comprehension on Armstrong’s features now though, “Armstrong here,” he said with undisguised disgust. “Was flying Evac.”
Fisher stood out in front of his desk, his stance and demeanor indicating he was the definite authority figure in the room. “I have read your file.. And I’m sure the Colonel was under orders, something you should know about,” he said, watching for any signs. “Things happen in war,” Fisher said. “As you’re aware, I was a SEAL in a former life, I have left many good people behind, not because I wanted to, but because I had to. I fully understand what you’re going through, but this is the here and now, and you WILL find a way to work with Colonel Armstrong, do I make myself clear? If you can’t, then this whole SDS operation will get shitcanned faster than you can blink, and you will have to explain to your superiors what happened, and I don’t think they will be very happy.”
Trevor was still smarting, feeling the small welt forming. His brain was going through the missions he had flown, there had been many many hundreds of them. But, the Djibouti one stuck out to him. Their positions had been compromised, and they had received word that if they did not leave immediately, there was high probability no one would return. The rest of the Osprey’s had their teams, it was only his that was left, and they had to make a decision. He had a few people already onboard, and should he sacrifice their lives to save the rest, or get them out on a sure thing of survival. “I had a decision to make, and I opted to save the lives of those I had, instead of letting them all die,” Armstrong said after a moment.
Mason took another look at Armstrong before turning his attention to the Admiral… “With any luck, my superiors will decide it’s not worth keeping me here, and I’ll be sent home…” he said still obviously angry… and ignoring Armstrong… he knew that any discussion right now was not going to end well… his emotions were too charged. “However, until that happens… you have my word, I will not Assault, him again… and in the field, I will cover his back to the same extent I would any of my own men…” he took a deep breath, “I’ll even follow his orders…” he left the rest of it unsaid, including the ~he better stay the hell out of my way, when we’re off duty~
He knew about orders… he’d had orders, he’d made the moral choice to ignore them, to risk his life to save those weaker than himself, to protect those who were unable to protect themselves. He’d even tried to send the rest of his team back, but they also believed it was worth the risk. Armstrong chose to be the ‘good little Airman’ and follow his orders. Jordon could accept this somewhere deep in his mind, but in the forefront of it… he still viewed the action as cowardly. In the interest of not pushing matters any further however, he kept that all to himself.
He needed some air, or at the very least, some air outside of this office. “Permission to take a break… Sir.” He said turning his attention to the Admiral.
Fisher gave a simple nod, wanting Mason out of his site for now. “Be back here in two hours,” he said curtly, and looked over to Armstrong.
Jordon’s body fell back on its training, he about faced and marched out of the office, leaving Armstrong and the Admiral alone.