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Might And Compassion at Odds

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Prologue

People harbour some serious misconceptions about what it means to be a soldier.

People tend to think in stereotypes - a fundamental element of the human condition allowing them to compartmentalise and make sense of their world - that a love of weapons, battle and kicking the living crap out of things are a soldier's prime motivators. Now, of course, Matthew Hayes can't speak on behalf of all soldiers and of course, such men and women are not uncommon. But the system within which he operates is designed to train, control and channel the drives of those particular people in a way that benefits the system. Otherwise the system wouldn't work. But Matthew Hayes knew himself well enough to know his prime motivator had always been to protect.

True, it can be difficult to see past the BDU, the camouflage gear designed to allow them to blend into their surroundings; the weapons strapped to their thighs; the pulse rifles cradled in their arms like a loved one; and then there's the eyes. Those betrayers of our deepest-seated fears and desires. Of course, when you're trained in the Art of War like Major John Matthew Hayes, the mask required to conceal those emotions from the enemy comes as easily as hitting a target cleanly at 100 paces.

He drew his attention in to study his features in the porthole's reflections. Those eyes weren't a steely mask of military reserve right now.

Hayes looked away from the porthole and the star-lined vacuum of space towards the sleeping form of Malcolm Reed. For the second time in his life, Matthew Hayes had been broadsided by destiny. Destiny. That pain in the balls unseen force of the Universe. The force that now and again reminds you that control over your own life is a self-inflicted illusion - another fundamental of the human condition - kidding ourselves... He sighed deeply. Yes, he had allowed himself the luxury of caring beyond what that meant within his rigid definition of soldier. Returning to the bed, he crawled back underneath the sheets. As a warm arm came up to wrap around his waist, Matthew wondered if he could still be a fit soldier, a worthy protector of the people on Enterprise. Yes, came the subconscious answer. All he had to do was remember how much the crew of this ship meant to the Head of Security. He closed his eyes. And dreamed of his family…


 

“SHIT!” 

Hayes looked to his left to see Money, lying on her back with a split lip, glaring up at Hoshi Sato, standing back, with her hand over her mouth and round, shocked eyes. Most of the rest of the room also took pause at this rather unusual turn of events.

“I mean, Oh God! I— I’m so sorry! I don’t know—“. Hayes strode over. “On your feet, Private.” 

Money scrambled up and stood to attention, still glaring slightly but looking ahead, over Hayes’ shoulder. “SIR!”

“Seems the Comm Officer got one over on you. Care to explain?” 

“SIR! Just a slip, Major, a momentary lapse—“.

Hayes took a step closer to her. She didn’t flinch. Hayes didn’t expect her to. He’d trained them to stand their ground and take what was coming.

“Momentary lapses cost lives, Private. Or in this case a visit to Sickbay,” he said calmly.

“SIR!”

“Dismissed, Private.” As Money nodded and was about to take her leave, Hayes continued, “Oh and on your way, Private? Forget using the turbolift.”

She paused, looking confused. “Climb the decks. On foot.” The look on his face left no doubt he meant it. 

“YES SIR!” She left the bay, fuming. She knew his style of command well enough to know that he’d check with Doctor Phlox to make sure she was panting and sweating when she got to Sickbay.

She strolled out the door, reminding herself not to lose her cool or take her temper out on Sato. She’d slipped up and Hayes had doled out a fair punishment. She sighed as she made her way to Sickbay. ‘Blast it to hell,’ she thought, ‘I miss you, Hawkins…’


“Nice land, Hoshi. Mind telling me how you laid out one of my teams top hand-to-hand combatants?,” Hayes enquired.

“I don’t know, Major…,” she began. Her left hook had obviously surprised even herself.

Hayes glanced up to see Lieutenant Reed making his way over. Great, he thought, here comes some witty banter British banter to suck up. 

“Ensign Sato,” he said with a wide smile, “nice to see our extra sessions are paying off.” Hayes noticed he was pointedly ignoring him. “We may well make you a defender of the realm yet.”

“I think I just got lucky, Sir,” Hoshi replied shyly, glancing down.

“Don’t be modest, Hoshi. I’ve seen Money lay the Major here to waste a couple of times.” He glanced at Hayes then with a slight smirk, who gave him a cool look back.

“Well, I think that’s enough excitement for one day, Ensign. Dismissed.” “Yes, Sir,” as she quickly left the room, blushing slightly. ‘I wish the Lieutenant wouldn’t take such an interest in my personal tactical development, she thought, making her way to the Mess for something to drink. ‘Why can’t I just stay on Comms?’ She sighed. She knew why. Malcolm Reed cared.


“Thought that was funny, did you?” Hayes asked, as they stood together watching the remainder of the session. “It had a certain poetic justice,” Reed replied. “Surely even you could see that, Major.”

“No actually, Lieutenant, I don’t see what poetic justice has got to do with anything in this situation.” 

He looked over at him, eyes clear and sparkling. “I recall Private Money’s rather exuberant display on Commander Tucker not so long ago.” 

Hayes remembered. Money seemed to have lost her cool momentarily. He frowned. Not just at Malcolm’s observation of the situation, but that it had slipped under his radar. He’d have to have a word with her. And himself, very soon, he pondered.

He was about to query Reed on since when he had become such an expert at reading his team, when Tactical Alert sounded.

“SESSION OVER!, Reed stated loud and clear over the sound. “MAN YOUR STATIONS!”

Malcolm turned to head for the Bridge. “Lieutenant!,” Hayes called after him. “Yes, Major?,” he replied. “Assuming whatever the alert is isn’t going to blow Enterprise into another portion of space, can you meet me for dinner in the Mess after our shifts? There are a few things with respect to the working relationships of our teams that I’d like to go over with you.” The expression on Matthew’s face told Malcolm this was a serious request and not code for anything else, no matter if his sometimes overactive and sometimes all-too-graphic imagination might try to suggest otherwise.

“Of course, Major. And if it - whatever it is - does blow us all to smithereens, at least we found out one thing….” Hayes knew exactly what he was talking about. This is the effect of the sound of Tactical Alert on the Head of Security. “Better get to the Bridge, Sir.” Reed gave a curt nod and beat a hasty retreat, leaving Major Hayes wondering, as he went to join his team, if he would get any sleep tonight.