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Boy From the Bayou

Posted on Mon Sep 19th, 2016 @ 6:28am by Commander Jesse Temple

Mission: 863
Location: Crew Quarters

Feeling content, Chief Officer Jesse Temple made his way back to the crew quarters. It had been a busy first day onboard the Star Of India. He was glad to have completed a tour of the ship, met most of the other crew, dined with the Captain and Second Officer, as well as getting used to his new surroundings. He could tell this old bird he now called home was unlike anything he'd travelled on before.

As the Commander strolled into his room and the automatic lighting illuminated his sparsely furnished quarters, Jesse noticed the ground crew had delivered his crate of personal belongings. Marines live a Spartan life and a career dedicated to marine service meant Temple had very little in way of possessions. This medium-sized, beaten-up metal box followed him around the galaxy, and contained all the trinkets and memorables he owned.

He kicked the crate across the carpeted floor to land just in front of his couch, swaggered over and dropped down to look through this box that contained his life. After entering his security code the lid popped open, and immediately objects began to shift and fall about. Jesse could pack his uniforms and clothes into perfectly neat squares into his rucksack, but his personal belongings were often just swept into the crate and closed up as quickly as possible.

Reaching in, his long fingers inmediately came into contact with a familiar soft piece of cloth. A smile formed across his hairy lips, his face broken into a jaunty grin as he pulled out his well-worn New Orleans flag.

"There she is." Jesse smirked.

The old municipal flag; three gold Fleur-de-lis bordered with red, blue, and gold stripes, on a white field. The flag he'd carried throughout his late teenage years, through the Academy, and every posting since. Jesse was not a Louisiana native, it was his adoptive home, but he'd swear on every Red Fish he'd caught that he was just a boy from the bayou. So the flag adorned wherever he bunked; be it a field camp or comfy officer's quarters.

Holding the cherised canvas in his hands, Jesse couldn't help but remember the last time he'd held it so dearly...

==Three Months Prior - San Francisco, Earth===

It was a cloudy, grey day in San Francisco as Jesse leaned against the cold glass window and stared out across the city. Transport shuttles flew silently in the sky around the Federation building where he'd been staying during the last week, and he watched them pass with a sombre glare. The Marine had just returned from the funeral of his beloved grandfather, Rear Admiral William Temple. He had stayed stoically calm through the day, but once back in his private room, his heart sunk. There was a subsequent memorial service at Star Fleet Academy but Jesse didn't feel like attending, he'd been to the funeral and that was enough pomp and circumstance for him. Instead he returned to his room, slung off the monkey suit, poured himself a drink and started staring out the window.

The passing of his grandpa was a significantly depressing ordeal for Jesse. In a single person, the older Temple was his family, father figure, best friend, and mentor; his heart and soul was darkened by the loss. And lost was exactly what Jesse was now; a sad young man who just missed his grandfather. In his passing, Jesse had lost a giant from his life, there was an emptiness that would never be filled again. Never again a conversation, a joke, a lecture, a fishing trip, a warm shoulder. Grandpa would never see Jesse command his own ship, marry the person he loved, meet any future great-grandchildren, or become the man he had always guided Jesse to becoming.

'A life without him will always be that much dimmer', He thought.

Jesse lifted a small glass tumbler to his lips and just lightly sipped the soothing dark whiskey; ice cubes clinking together as he did. He couldn't wait to get back on a ship and blast off this planet. He had originally returned to Earth for his Commanding Officer Interview; a promotion he felt he was ready to receive and would have made his Grandfather so happy. Yet, Star Fleet felt differently about his readiness and abilities. The pain of losing grip of his ambitious dream was quickly surpassed at the gaping wound his Grandfather's sudden death now caused. What had been a happy trip to progress his career, quickly turned into a nightmare.

The door chimed cheerily behind him and Temple lazily called out to open it, without bothering to look around. He didn't need to turn, he knew it would be Admiral Thurston. The older officer walked in and sighed at the forlorn Marine.

"Your transport will be here soon." Thurston spoke first. "I'm sure you'll be happy to go."

"Aye, sir," Jesse replied flatly.

"I know this is a dark time for you, son, but you'll come through once more." Thurston commented, "You always do."

Jesse wanted to keep his stoic obedience in the company of Admiralty, but the drink and the week from hell pushed him to snap back. "So frelling sure about that, sir?" He hissed, turning around suddenly.

Thurston sighed again, patiently taking the younger man's anger, "Yes, Marine."

Temple sneered a little and took a deep drink of his whiskey. "I didn't tell him I was coming back to Earth for my CO interview with you. I was going to surprise him," He laughed a dry, resentful laugh. "With the good news."

Admiral Thurston took a seat in a nearby arm chair, relaxing back and clearly thinking over his words. "Major, I thought you understood the reason we couldn't promote you yet."

"The only thing I understand, Admiral," Jesse snarked, "Is that the last conversation I had with my grandfather was a lie. A white lie, sure, but a lie. And I promised him I'd never lie to him or fail him again. Guess I was wrong about both those things."

"You wanted to make him proud," Thurston nodded, still trying, "He would have understood. I spoke with Rear Admiral Temple on a few occasions and I can assure you, there was nothing he was more proud of than you."

Jesse's eyes burned as he looked at the man; first in a rush of anger that he'd spoke to his Grandfather, but then the yawning sadness washed over him again. He leaned against the window as a single tear rolled down his cheek.

"He said that?" Jesse whispered.

"Every damn time I saw him." The Admiral replied with a smirk. "You will find a way to put this sadness behind you and continue on. Everything you have done in your career has been to impress him, now you will honor him."

Jesse nodded, wiping his cheek. "You think the Merchant Marines will do that?"

"Yes." Thurston replied firmly. "The ship I had in mind is still in refurbishment and could take a few months, so you can either choose some shore leave or a black ops mission."

Jesse looked over to him without hesitation, "Ops."

Thurston laughed as he stood. "I expected as much. The transport coming was already to take you to the mission zone."

The Marine stood up straight and put down the drink. "I will be ready, sir."

The older man nodded and walked towards the door, stopping as he noticed the Louisiana flag neatly folded and ready to be packed. "Once the mission is done, spend some time back home. Raise this flag over it's native land. That's an order, Marine."

Jesse smiled and thanked the Admiral, the warmth returning to his gaze. "I appreciate your visit, sir. And everything you've done for me."

Thurston gave a chuckle, "He raised you there, didn't he, son? In New Orleans? He told me you'd both go fishing on the Bayous some weekends."

"Yes sir," Jesse replied with a smile. The Admiral tossed him the flag and the Marine caught it in his hands, holding it tightly.

"Before you start on the Star of India, when you head back home, I might find myself in the vicinity. If that's okay with you?" The Admiral asked tenderly.

"I'd like that, sir," Jesse nodded enthusiastically, holding the flag close to his chest. "Very much so."

=== Crew Quarters - Present Day ===

Jesse finished attaching the flag to the wall above his bed, took a step back and smiled in reflection. He had completed the Black Ops mission and let his trigger finger do the talking. He'd made the trip back home to the Bayou and fished with the Admiral. He'd made it to the Merchant Marines and onboard this new ship, with a future still ahead of himself. Life had gone on since that horrible week, even if the loss was still evident behind his smile. All Jesse could do now was work as hard as possible to honour his grandfather and that New Orleans flag.

He stripped off his clothes and neatly folded them into squares inside his cupboard, before hopping into bed. Tomorrow would be a new beginning and a brand new mission and for the first time since that day, Jesse was excited to get started.



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