The Past Undying: Gunney's First Week

Posted on Thu Feb 11th, 2021 @ 8:28am by Gunnery Sergeant Jasen Calin

One year, 12 days before the exodus ...

Jasen heard a loud thump, swearing and the screech of a console. The gunnery sergeant turned around to see a corporal obviously having problems with a small arms calibration station. The young human corporal was already raising his fist ...

"Corporal!" the gunnery sergeant snapped sharply. The other Marine spun about and immediately stood at attention.

"Yes, gunnery sergeant!" The younger man was obviously annoyed ... and resisting the urge to snap at a superior, someone new to the USS Minerva's marine detachment.

Jasen frowned. A week aboard this blasted ship and he'd seen at least half a dozen privates and corporates lose their tempers. And the brass considered him unhinged.

"Explain your desire to damage my calibration station?" he demanded. His calibration station was correct in one manner — he was the most experienced marksman aboard the ship and he was assigned to the armory.

"Sir, it's been on the fritz for seven weeks and every engineering egghead assigned here hasn't been able to fix it ..." The young man, square-jawed, short and ... likely fresh on his first shipborne combat assignment in this prolonged war, likely hadn't ever encountered malfunctions before this ship.

"Do I look like an officer, corporal?" Jasen said sternly. "I work for a living just like every groundpounder on this ship, and you will address me accordingly." The corporal gave a begrudging acknowledgment as the gunnery sergeant approached the calibration console.

He looked at it and frowned. "Did your training not teach you to reroute certain key functions, corporal?" He tapped a few keys on the panel, shifting power non-essential and unused systems in the armory to the console. It lit up and the computer automatically began its calibration of a phaser compression rifle.

"Next time, consider simply re-routing from ... "

Jasen didn't have time to finish when a simple but sharp command came from a nearby office. "Calin, office now." It was not a request and both Marines turned toward it. An order from the Minerva's first sergeant carried great weight.

"As you were, Corporal," Jasen said simply and entered the office. Entering the simple space, Jasen saw an older, dark-haired human male standing, looking at a large screen studying sector data.

"First Sergeant," Jasen said simply, standing at attention.

"At ease, Calin," the other NCO said, never turning. "You were particularly harsh on the young corporal, don't you think, Gunney?"

"First Sergeant, with respect, the corporal needs a refresher in basic technical training and an attitude adjustment," Jasen said.

The First Sergeant chuckled. "I've read your file, Gunney, so from you, attitude adjustments are indeed ironic." The older NCO raised a hand. "And you should really familiarize yourself with the Marines under your command. This is not the USS Forge, three years out of Utopia Planita, where the best Marines were assigned. You're aboard a ship of the line ..."

"It is not lost on me, First Sergeant," Jasen said. "But damaging a calibration console because it wasn't entirely functioning properly reeks of a lack of discipline."

"And he's not a veteran like you or me, Gunney," the First Sergeant said. "You come from a long line of Marines spreading back to United Earth MACOs. That boy out there grew up in a small farming dome on one of Jupiter's moons and until two year agos never held a rifle in his life. You've had what? Thirteen years of practical experience fighting Cardassians, Klingons and Dominion troops, earned enough commendations that even your own father could ever claim?"

"Your point, First Sergeant?" Jasen asked simply.

"Know your fucking place, Marine," the First Sergeant said. "You might be aboard because you pissed off a lot of people ... but you are here, and you need to remember some of these enlisted Marines are fresh out of boot. If you come off as knowing everything and dressing them down after the fact, they will resent you."

"First Sergeant, with respect, I don't know everything ..." He was cut off with a raised hand. "Targs shit better stuff than your comments, Gunney. I've read your file. One of the best rifleman in the Marine Corps, high marks for in-field technical ingenuity, leadership potential so off the scale that you were considered for officer candidate training. On Clystel V during the war with the Klingons, you salvaged three broken transporter enhancers, hooked up a nearly depleted phaser power pack and managed to cut through Klingon scramblers, saving two dozen Marines after your unit's leader was killed."

"First Sergeant, half a dozen other Marines in my platoon could have ..."

"Gunney, you did it in less than two minutes with disruptor fire and photon charges sounding off around you," the First Sergeant said, never turning. "The other qualified Marines, dead or severely wounded. You pulled off a minor miracle, saved Marines ... so yes, you know everything. But you need to channel that experience into something that will benefit the young men and women in this detachment."

"First Sergeant, I'm not exactly the best person to instruct ..."

"It's an order, Gunney," the First Sergeant said. "If all else fails, do what you do best: improvise. Dismissed."

Jasen stiffened slightly but inclined his head. "Yes, First Sergeant." Before he could leave the office, the First Sergeant commented, "And Gunney, I'd hold off on offering unsolicited advice to the brass. Especially if you run into Captain Rau. She barely tolerates such things even from Starfleet admirals, so rumor goes."

Jasen stopped briefly but didn't hesitate to respond. "You've no worry, First Sergeant, regarding any such thing regarding Captain Rau," he said quietly. "I already had one great captain in my life. I doubt there will ever be room for another."