Weekly Spotlight – USS Athena Part 2

Written ByEhestri
Published On
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Picking just one post to highlight this quarter was a challenge! However, I wanted to flag this one. “One Step Forward” is just one of a short series of posts by Chief Engineer Finnley Keating. Having endured a horrible hostage experience at the closing of the previous story arc, this hasn’t gone away – she has struggled with survivors guilt and her own actions during that crisis.

Taking a step away from Starfleet, she has returned home to reconnect with family, understand herself, and gain a renewed perspective. This is just one of 3 or 4 posts I could have picked, but I think this really helps to show how good of a writer Dot can be.

One Step Forward

By Lieutenant Commander Finnley Keating VII

Mission: Character Development
Location: California
1748 words – 3.5 OF Standard Post Measure

Finn spent the next week drifting. Mainly from her room to the couch to the beach and back. She spent the least amount of time in her room, for fear that the space alone would give her too much time to think, and every time her mind wandered she thought of that planet. Of Silnan. Of everything she had done to him. What a disgrace she’d been to the family. She hadn’t even gotten up the courage to tell her parents that she was leaving Starfleet yet.

Most of her time she spent on the couch, silently watching football or movies. Once, her mother Kacey dragged her into the ancient jeep they had fixed up as a family and together they went offroading. Other than that, the only time she left the house was when her father, Quinn, nudged her out for some surfing. Truthfully, that was where she had felt most at home. The waves of the ocean seemed to slowly erode the agony that was inside. There were a few moments on the water when she actually felt happy. In those moments she thought about blurting everything out or at least telling her parents about her plan to leave Starfleet, but then something pulled at her heartstrings, and each time she chose not to ruin the moment.

Quinn and Kacey had started to look more for the rare moments when Finn lit up and pieces of her real self shone through. There were a few times when Kacey lightly probed, only to be tugged back by her husband and Finn’s lack of response. As the week drifted by, however, even Quinn became increasingly impatient. Marines were never the most patient of sorts, but continuing to watch Finn slowly ate at his sanity. He needed to fix the problem.

Two options, the marine thought. We can do this the easy way, or the hard way. The former being his preference and the latter being how his own father had handled a similar situation when Quinn had had his first life crisis so to speak. He remembered that guilt that he had once felt.
Like he had let the whole family down. And he was fairly sure that she was feeling the same, though the details as to why still eluded him. Finn had always taken after her grandfather, but in this instance, Quinn chose to tread more lightly.

“Hey,” he nudged the sleeping engineer awake. “Get up.”

Finn rubbed her eyes and looked around. “What the hell? It’s not even light outside yet.”

“Surfs looking amazing this morning. Your mom is loading the boards now. Get your ass up and let’s go!” Quinn always had such a cheery disposition and a childish light in his eyes when it came to good surf.

“Alright alright, give me a minute,” Finn reluctantly rolled out of bed and threw on a suit before meeting her parents by the transporter. Moments later her toes were sinking into the sand.

“Come on lil’ Finn, let’s get it!” I was really hoping he’d finally forgotten that nickname, Finn thought. It was endearing when she was eight, no so much in her thirties, but Finn just rolled her eyes and politely took her board from her mom.

“Mind some extra company?” A very familiar voice called out from the shore. Finn turned as her heart skipped a beat. It couldn’t be.

“Tavin! How in the world did you get here? You look like shit by the way,” Finn laughed.

“Oh, that’s the kind of greeting I get when I took three transports just to get to this God awful location you call a beach at the crack of dawn?” He returned the laughter and the two embraced. It had been years since she had seen her best friend. Except he was more than that, he was more like a brother than a friend at this point.

“Did dad put you up to this?” She asked.

“Yea, he gave me a call and said you were coming up. Specifically, he said lil Finn was coming home,” the man chuckled knowing that she hated that nickname now. “I figured what better time to make my way over. So are we doing this or what?”

“Definitely,” Finn tucked the board under the arm and made a dash for the water.

“You take the first one!” Kacey’s voice rang over the sound of waves and seagulls towards the engineer now sitting perched on a board in the middle of the water. To which Finn nodded and paddled out.

The downside Finn had found to early morning surfing, was that her mind was more liable to wander. Particularly when she hadn’t yet had her morning coffee. So, as she lined up for the first ten footer and paddled to catch the cascading water, she found herself thinking of Silnan. The next thing she knew, water was crashing into her. Pounding her deep into the blue abyss. 43, 44, 45…Seconds rushed by as Finn struggled against the tide. 46, 47, before finally a gasp for breath as she surfaced and grabbed onto her board.

“That was a wipeout for the books,” Tavin noted as Kacey paddled up. “Are you ok?” Her mother asked with a concerned tone.

“Yea,” Finn responded between heaves of air. “Just caught me off guard.”

“Looked more like you just weren’t paying attention,” Quinn said. “Are you sure you’re ok? You know it’s dangerous to be out here if you can’t keep your mind straight.” He said, knowing full well she wasn’t in the best of mental conditions. He had hoped a gentle kick might push her in the right direction, or that perhaps Tavin could help.

“I’m fine,” Finn shot back with a look of pure defiance. It was all Quinn could do to keep from chuckling. He knew that look a little too well.

The next wave was good, but the following two beat her into the sand. When the third did the same, she paddled in.

“Headed in already?” Tavin asked.

“I just need a break. Catch some good ones for me. I’ll come back out in a few,” she replied trying to maintain a calm demeanor though inside all she could feel was frustration. She’d done this a thousand times before. Why couldn’t she do it consistently now?

About twenty minutes passed before Finn got the guts to enter back into the water. Tavin motioned towards the empty ocean, signaling for her to take the next decent wave headed their way. Don’t screw it up this time, Finn internally reprimanded herself. Not that it did much good since the first and third waves practically annihilated her.

“What’s wrong with you?” Tavin very bluntly asked the frustrated engineer. Finn was one of the strongest and most focused people he knew and she knew how to own a wave better than anyone. Quinn had told him she had been captured, but he didn’t think it’d have affected her this much.

“Don’t pretend like you don’t see me getting beat up out there. It’s brutal.” Finn replied.

“I’m not pretending. You look like a drunken parakeet on that board,” he said. Their friendship had always been straightforward forward and he saw no reason to skirt around the obvious. Maybe recent events had affected her, but that didn’t mean he should change the way their friendship had always worked.

“Wow, what a compliment, thanks,” Finn responded with a roll of her eyes and a clear tone of annoyance.

“I’m just saying, you usually own me out here on the waves, but honestly you just looked kinda sad lil Finn,” Tavin only half-joked with a mischievous smirk.

“You’re an ass,” Finn huffed. Not wanting to endure any more of this conversation, she turned towards the transporter.

“Hey, where are you going?” Quinn made his way to the shore as his daughter started walking away.

“Home. I’m clearly no good at this anymore. It’s too hard.” She said, with an uncharacteristic choice of words.

“First of all, it doesn’t have to be. Secondly, since when did that ever stop you?” Quinn asked.

“I know, I just. I don’t know how to clear my head.” She threw her hands up, frustrated at no one but herself.

“You don’t need to. You know how to ride those waves. I’ve seen you do it plenty of times. You just have to figure out how to believe in yourself again. Remember what I used to tell you?” Quinn cautiously pushed forward.

“A mind troubled with doubt, cannot focus on the course to victory,” Finn repeated the words she’d heard before and though it had made sense in her earlier years, now it somehow clicked. Maybe he was right. If she could just remove the doubt in this moment, she could do it. The engineer’s demeanor then shifted and she marched back into the water.

She lined up for the next perfect wave and this time as her mind started to wander and doubt seeped in, she pulled back on the reins. You can do this, she reminded herself. She’d done this before, plenty of times. There was no reason she couldn’t now.

The water picked her up, and with ease, she pushed from the board and up to a standing position. Moving up and down the water feature and then eventually through the pipe. It was a picture perfect run and for all the steps she’d taken backward since that planet, she felt she had planted one foot forward in the light.

“Hey hey, lil Finn is back! That looked great!” Quinn yelled.

“Don’t you dare say I told you so,” Finn pointed a finger at her senior and Tavin before straddling the board.

Tavin held his hands up in feigned ignorance. “Like I would ever do that,” he said, chuckling.

Finn then looked thoughtfully at her father. “Also, dad, I’m in my thirties. Can we maybe drop the ‘lil’ Finn?”

“Never,” Quinn laughed, happy to see a piece of his daughter resurface. Hopefully, he thought, this was just one step in the right direction. With any luck, they’d bring all of Finn back and maybe even figure out why she had brought so much luggage home.