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We're All Starfleet

Posted on Wednesday October 4th, 2017 @ 5:15pm by 2nd Lieutenant Gabrielle Sorenson & Lieutenant Commander Damien Blackford

Mission: Mission 0: Crew Arrival
Location: Deck 9, Holodeck 1

The Argo-class runabout rocked hard as another phaser blast struck off its shield. Gabrielle steadied herself in her seat as she looked to the NCO beside her. His face was tight and his lips were pursed, clearly he was a man in distress. She half smiled as another blast hit, sending sparks showering from a nearby panel.

"Shields are gone. AA fire is tearing us apart!" came the report from her left. She looked back at the NCO.

"Sgt Stevens, you had best get us down on that planet now," she barked with a smile. The NCO nodded sharply.

"Hold on to something; this could get rough!" he cautioned. He pushed the runabout into a full nose dive, heading directly towards the surface at dizzying speeds. At the last possible moment, he slammed the controls to level out, coming to a stop just above the ground. He sighed in relief while finishing the landing procedures.

"Alright, thank you Sgt Stevens. Let's get the perimeter set up, prepare to receive visitors," she ordered. The runabout disgorged 16 marines in a flurry of activity. Barricades were transported into place, and the phaser cannon from the buggy was brought to bear. Moments after they finished setting up, a massive crack of light opened off to the left. Six phaser rifles and the cannon whirled to face the new threat.

"Don't shoot, I surrender," Damien had his hands up as he walked towards the heavily armed party, humor in his tone, and a smile on his face. Behind him, the strange cut out of what seemed like reality healed itself as the holodeck doors closed behind him.

"Sorry, sir," Gabrielle called out with a smile. She hopped over her barricade and made her way up to the new arrival. "Training exercise. Hostile landing and all. Computer, pause program. Marines, stand down."

"Not a problem," the command officer said as he stepped further into the now-frozen simulation, a bit of a comfortable swagger to his movements. "In fact I'm glad to see you're already hard at work." When he stood in front of the young woman, he extended a hand in greeting, "I'm the Ark Royal's first officer, Damien Blackford. It's a pleasure to meet you, Lieutenant Sorenson."

Gabrielle happily shook his hand, then offered a proper salute. "It's a pleasure to meet you, sir. Obviously, I'm the Marine CO here. Hard work is what I do. I want to make sure these men and women are in fighting shape to protect the ship and its personnel," she replied, flashing another smile. "What can the marines do for you, sir?"

"Actually," he said, speaking to the group of marines as a whole for a moment, "I was hoping to speak with Lieutenant Sorenson privately, for the time being, if you all wouldn't mind." Blackford would seek out every crew member on board eventually, as handling the ship's personnel was a part of his responsibilities, but for the time being he was making his rounds with the heads of the various departments. Though he might have, Blackford didn't dismiss the woman's team himself; he'd been a young department head once himself and knew what it was like when a superior meddled too directly.

"You heard the man, dismissed," she ordered. The marines snapped to attention and filed out of the holodeck. "Computer, reset simulation." The scene shifted back to the cockpit of the runabout. Gabrielle sat in one of the chairs and kicked up her feet on the panel. "Make yourself at home. What did you need?"

The young woman's relaxed manner - putting her feet up on the console! - brought a frown to Blackford's face. He had never been so casual when addressing one of his superiors in the past. For the moment, he let it slide but he was making those first-impressions, and his laxity would only extend so far. Blackford remained standing, hands clasped together behind his back, looking down at the marine.

"I wanted to meet you personally, before the ship gets underway," he began. "Get to know you some, let you know what the expectations for you and your department will be, and to find out what you need to be ready to go once the Captain gives the order. So, Lieutenant, which do you want to start with?"

Gabrielle held back a sigh upon noticing that the XO didn't share her demeanor and placed her feet back on the ground. She stood up, placing herself at parade rest as she talked to the him. "Well, sir, there isn't much to know about me that isn't in my file, which I'm sure that you've read, and I suspect this isn't a social "get to know me some" but more a "get to know if I'm capable of doing my job". So, what do you expect from my marines and me?" she asked, attempting to adopt a more appropriate attitude.

As first impressions went, Sorenson was quickly making a better one by picking up on Blackford's disapproval and making the effort to comport herself well. He even nodded slightly in approval for her standing up. "Actually, Lieutenant, I have full faith in the Academy's training and instructors. If you weren't capable of doing this job I don't think you'd be here now."

Damien moved on quickly, however; compliments from him were earned, but brief, "As for expectations, I prefer to run a tight crew. While your team is your team, and I won't be interfering in your day to day operations, I do want to stay involved overall. Duty rosters for at least a month out should be submitted ahead of time. Any updates on training or disciplinary actions I'd like to hear about too, but for anything significant on the latter I ask that you do bring me in to supervise. Once you've gotten to know your team well, I'd like to meet with you again, and each of them too, so I will better know how to use you."

"I will have duty rosters, sir, but I request that any needs for my marines be submitted to me, not expected of me. Any disciplinary actions involving my marines will be dealt with as necessary according to the SFMC Code of Conduct, I assure you. I know not many fleeties like us ground pounders, and I know that this is a major reason why, but we are our own element here. I will assist this ship and protect it with my life, as will every member of my squad, but we are marines first and foremost," she stated. She hoped that she didn't alienate her new XO too much, but she couldn't have him or anyone else dealing with her troops in a way that was contrary to her own. It would cause the marines to lose respect for her, and she needed to be seen as their leader in every way for them to follow her without question.

Instead of getting mad, Damien took a seat in the holographic co-pilot's chair, and gestured for the MCO to do so as well. It was a small gesture, but it was the start of letting go of the regulations for a moment so he could talk to her more easily. Damien remembered what it was like, being fresh out of the Academy with something to prove and thinking he had so many answers already, so he saw this as a learning opportunity rather than a disciplinary one.

"Gabrielle, have a seat," using her first name, dropping the ranks, was another way to signal the conversation had changed. He smiled on occasion as he spoke, kept his tone calm and even friendly, to let her know that she wasn't in trouble and he wasn't lecturing her, "I'm going to make a couple things clear here that are going to help us work well together. First off, you gotta let me do my job. Part of that means I'm responsible for each and every member of the crew. That means the marines too."

He raised a hand to mean he had more to say, still in the same reasonable tone of voice, "That doesn't mean I'm going to step all over your toes, look over your shoulder constantly. And I am familiar with the SFMC Code of Conduct. Crew discipline, reviews, transfers...all that administrative work is my duty, but I promise you if and when the time comes, we'll work together as a team. It's not a negotiation here, I don't get to decide to give up part of my responsibilities, this is how Starfleet operates. And I hope I can convince you that you and all your fellow shipmates, regardless if they wear a red collar, a blue, or a green one, are Starfleet first."

"I understand what you are saying, sir. I truly do. They and I will protect this vessel and her crew with our last. As for fleeties vs marines, sir, that will take some time. One day, maybe I'll tell you the story, but for now know that I will do my job and give you what you need," she responded, her face hard and her eyes distant. "Was the anything else you needed, sir?" she asked, not dropping the formality.

"I wouldn't expect anything less than your best, Lieutenant," Damien replied, though his smiles had faded with the young woman being so closed off. Nor would he tolerate less, of course, but he meant that he believed she was the right person for this job. He was curious to know more about Sorenson was hinting at, but would be content to let her come to him when she was ready. "Besides putting together those reports I mentioned, I'd like to schedule weekly meetings with you for us to go over whatever updates or concerns might come along. I'd encourage you to meet the others of the senior staff on board as well; you'll be working closely with all of them so best to start building those relationships before we leave dock."

"Aye sir. I'll make sure to carve some time every week then. I will reach out to some of the other department heads to begin building the necessary rapport," she replied flatly. "If there's nothing else, sir, I think I should get back to my troops. While that cat's away and all."

Standing up from the simulated shuttle seat, Blackford shook his head, "Duty roster and training plan on my desk by 0800 tomorrow. Carry on, Lieutenant." Long strides took him out of the holodeck, and though quiet, he wondered, not for the first time, the merits of a purely military presence on board a ship of exploration.

Gabrielle left shortly after, turning off the program as she did. She took a deep breath to quiet her nerves. Of course that had gone poorly, but it wouldn't matter. Her job would be done, and her marines would have her protection at all times. That was the truest part of her job, after all.

Lieutenant Commander Damien Blackford
Executive Officer
USS Ark Royal

2nd Lieutenant Gabrielle Sorenson
Marine Commanding Officer
USS Ark Royal


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