Chapter 16: Damage & Mourning

Admiral Thompson sat down quietly at his desk, his heart heavy with sorrow. All day long all he had heard was casualty reports, each one grimmer than the one before, he was tired of it, but he knew it wasn't over, not by a long shot.

He signed, rubbing his face with his hands as he turned to face the newly promoted Lieutenant General Hammond, a promotion he knew Hammond did not feel comfortable with, he knew he wouldn't either, being promoted over the bodies of some many loyal officers and crew.

"Its actually not the number of dead that will cause us problems, not meaning to sound callous Hammond, but rather the people who died. They were all our rising stars, our best brains, meant to gain experience on Dauntless and in the first squadrons before moving to high rank in ships and squadrons of their own. With the loss of Dauntless, we lost everyone we had who was experienced in spaceship operations, except the small handful on MTB01 and most of our experienced Lancer pilots too. It will take quite some time to rebuild; the ships will be ready before the crews are, to be honest."

"What do you intend to do?"

"Nothing else we can do, the schedule is going to have to be moved up, Canada already has a pretty good idea about the StarGate, so they will be informed first, and hopefully brought into the RSS, and then Australia."

"What about other commonwealth members?"

"Not yet, there are 53 commonwealth members, but not all are what I would call stable, or trustworthy, not with something of this magnitude, and not all will be able to provide a significant amount of help either."

"I'll warn the president."

A knock came on the door just as Hammond was about to leave, and Petty Officer Williams, which one Thompson couldn't tell, walked into the Admirals office.

"Signal from Alpha Centauri, sir, an Al-kesh patrol was engaged by the Lancers and MTB01 several hours ago, the Lancers are gone and MTB01 is crippled. They are requesting backup."

Thompson turned to Hammond, "It'll have to be a Prometheus, we have nothing to send"

"Agreed, I'll arrange it as soon as I get back to the SGC."

The mournful sound of buglers playing Last Post filled the air in this sheltered corner of St Athan as a new memorial was unveiled, proudly bearing the legend in solid bronze, "To the Fallen, who died to keep this World free."

It seemed almost obscene to Thompson that despite the solemn nature of this occasion, birds were singing, the sun was shining and the laughter of children could be heard in the distance. He listened quietly as Captain Peters, who was the only person sitting for this unveiling, sang softly along to the last post through the bandages wrapped around her forehead;

"Come home! Come home! The last post is sounding
for you to hear. All good soldiers know very well there
is nothing to fear while they do what is right, and forget
all the worries they have met in their duties through the
year. A soldier cannot always be great, but he can be a
gentleman and he can be a right good pal to his comrades in
his squad. So all you soldiers listen to this – Deal fair by all
and you'll never be amiss.

Be Brave! Be Just! Be Honest and True Men!"

Last post finished and the riflemen came forward, shattering the air with their ceremonial volleys.

Thompson stepped forward, he voice calm, proud and commanding;

"RSS Dauntless, Lost with all Hands,

598 Squadron, Lost with all Hands,

633 Squadron, 8 Casualties and 1 who will never walk again,

649 Squadron, 6 Casualties,

USS Iwo Jima, 49 Casualties,

USS Eisenhower, 32 Casualties,

1st SFW, 9 Casualties,

2nd SFW, 7 Casualties,

3rd SFW, 7 Casualties,

RSS Thundersdawn, 112 Casualties

MTB01, 3 Casualties"

He looked down for a moment, and then looked up at the assembled dignitaries, personnel and families.

"Most of us know why, and how they died, for those of us here who do not, there will come a time when their sacrifice is known by the entire world. Now is not that time, but that time will come. For now, we can only find comfort in the fact that they died for us all, they died to keep this world safe, and if you asked them if they would do it again, they would to a man step forward and say yes. For they believed in what they were doing, so mourn them, for a while, and remember them forever, but always remember what they died for. They died to keep us all free, so honour their memory by living free, Thank you."

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Just a reminder: I do not own, nor do I claim ownership of characters or concepts from StarGate SG-1, Chocky's Challenge, Down Periscope.

Part 4: Thundergate is En-route

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