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Questionable Quandary

Posted on Wed Sep 2nd, 2020 @ 7:08pm by Captain Cecilia Rau & Gunnery Sergeant Jasen Calin

Mission: Gods of War

“Ready .... fire!”

The sound of phaser fire hitting holodrones sounded off in the empty cargo bay as a dozen Marines attempted to select their targets with rifles.

Nine of twelve were accurate. One near perfect, one accurate every time as the levels progressed. The young Bajoran corporal to be precise. Of the Marines he was responsible for training, she was the best marksman, better than he was, at least in simulations.

“Time!” he barked. “Lower rifles.” The Marines did as they were told. Only the Bajoran looked at him briefly, noting the gunnery sergeant’s particularly foul mood.

Everyone knew about the incident between him and an Andorian lieutenant commander in the flight wing. The officer had been a recent transfer, five months aboard, but a bloody good combat pilot. Both men ended up in sickbay, severely injured, and the L-C with the worst of it.

Jasen was more upset by the fact that both the ranking nurse at the time and his counselor had reported the issue to the captain ... reportedly because it was a matter that had invoked her name. And likely because given his service record over the past two years had warranted a mention.

“You groundpounders need to work on your aim!” he barked. “If a Jem’Hedar warship attacks this fleet and boards this ship, you’ll likely blow out two bulkheads as much as hit a blasted boarder.”

He pointed toward the Bajoran corporal. “Corporal Zhael is the best shot on this ship, a better shot than most Starfleet Intelligence snipers, and it’s not because she grew up during the bloody Cardie occupation. Two years in Bajoran Militia, seven as a Marine. You grunts can learn a lot from her if you watch. Understood?”

There was a unified “hoo-rah” in the small unit, albeit stressed. The gunny was stressed and he was taking it out on his subordinates, albeit in a healthy manner.

All that stress was due to the L-C that had insulted the captain, or so the rumor went. And insulting the captain in the gunny’s presence ... did not sit well. Only this time the incident had resulted in severe injuries to an officer. Apparently, an officer who was embarrassed enough not to file an assault report.

As he was about to order another round of firing sequences, the cargo bay doors opened ...

“Captain on deck!” he announced. He and a dozen other grunts stood at attention. “Detail dismissed! Marines, return firearms to the armory!” He’d never seen grunts move so fast as to vacate the premise.

And he had never been so quick as to turn his back on a CO and begin calibrations on his own firearm. “What can I do for you, Captain?”

It was a stupid question. Chances were this meeting would end with him off-ship. Or worse. As far as Earthers went, Captain Rau was rumored to have a particularly bad temper. A well-deserved bad tamper, if the rumors he had heard about her struggle with Starfleet Command were true

Captain Cecilia Rau walked in and paused, waiting patiently (as predators could do) while the rest of the group quickly vacated the area as if a bomb was about to go off. Maybe it was... She waited until it was clear and then approached the Marine, looking down on him... Literally rather than figuratively so far, given she was a good four inches taller than the young man.

"So, you're the Marine who keeps beating up my crew, eh?" she deadpanned.

Jasen looked briefly over his shoulder at the captain as he removed his rifle's dummy power cell. Like most Marines, he could field strip a phaser rifle in his sleep. He set the weapon down and slowly turned toward the skipper, noting the serious topic.

"Apparently so, sir," he said, looking up, hazel eyes sharp as he tried to assess the captain's mood. "Well, just the L-C on the flight deck, sir, though he gave as good as he received." Granted, half the flight deck crew had probably seen the flight and two men nearly bash each other into Tartarus.

"The petty officer just had his uniform painted with some questionable tasting rations and a bruised ego."

From what he had heard and seen, all but a few of the crew had a healthy respect for Minerva's captain. And most recommended not to get in her way ... or on her radar in a bad sort. Unfortunately, he was likely on the latter.

"Has the lieutenant commander filed a complaint, sir?" he asked.

Rau just arched a dark brow and tilted her head, somewhat reminiscent of a hawk eyeing a field mouse. "Let's just say I've been hearing a lot about you, Sergeant. And I want to find out more."

The captain's comment was one Jasen would have easily spun into an attempt to diffuse an awkward or tense situation.

But that sharp gaze reminded him of a Klingon warrior set on cleaving his way to his goal, so be bit his tongue at first. Somewhat. He wasn't going to lie.

"A year stationed on this ship and I've gone unnoticed until now?" he asked politely. "I must have done something right up until now. Guess I should have ducked when that L-C swung that hyperspanner at me."

That had left Jasen with more than a few bruised ribs. Of course, the flyboy had received a sharp uppercut. And that had been the start of the fight.

"The short of it, sir, is that he opened his trap in front of half the flight deck crew, yapped off insults and ... " he scratched the back of his ear, wondering if Captain Rau killed the messenger. 

"He called you cowardly for following orders to stand down instead of following through on shoving the Minervia down that Dominion ship's throat," he said simply. "He said some other not so polite things, including a bad idea of a 'shifter in the captain's chair. I politely asked the L-C to shut his mouth; he ordered me to do something involving an airlock; I suggested he stuff a photon grenade up his ass whilst being strapped to the bow of a launched shuttle. I may have also questioned his parentage by alluding a Targ had been his father."

He grimaced slightly at the moments that came after. "Let's just say, things got physical from there, sir." If there had been one upside to the particularly brutal battle, it had been that he had gotten in the last blow. At least he thought so. His ears had been rattling for a few days after the fight.

Rau was hardly shocked by anything he said. Some of this had already been in the reports, although the "L-C" involved had not filled out all of the section on what he himself had said. Naturally. She wouldn't have been surprised if all those things had been said. They'd been said before. They would be said again. "Shit happens, as they say," she finally drawled, folding well-developed arms across her chest.

This form was one she had chosen and kept because it most resembled her attitude. Not "pretty" but handsome enough, with the body of a fighter and knuckles that had known more of their share of fisticuffs.

"But this ship has order and discipline for a reason. My honor does not need to be defended--I assure you, I can defend it myself--and you're not assigned to be the ship's police force against our own. Some of the crew will say stupid shit. They're people and people do stupid shit all the time, but we are also Starfleet. We must cling to what that means. Disengage and inform someone whose job it is to handle these matters. You should have bigger things to worry about than someone's mouth and ill-considered decision to use it."

Jasen blinked in surprise, his hazel eyes staring intently at Captain Rau.

He'd half expected to be tossed out the airlock after another ship docked with the Minvera, or something just as harsh. Instead ... did this Earther captain with a reputation for sheer discipline and an occasional foul mood just give him an out?

That ... and probably would leave discipline to his superiors, what remained.

Another captain, Captain Solon of the USS Joshua Tree, would not have been as understanding. And Jasen had respected the man's unrelenting spirit and ... a very disciplined approach to Starfleet dogma. It was to be expected of a Xindi-Reptilian officer, one of the few apparently in Starfleet.

And he would have offered the same advice Rau just now delivered. The thought made him smile briefly, all too gone before he realized it. Some starship captains were odd ducks.

"Yes, sir," he said simply. "The next time someone shoots their mouth off about the ship's captain, I'll leave it to higher brass and let you tear that person a new one in whatever oddball Earther fashion you have."

He cocked his head slightly. "Speaking of important things, if the Captain is through, I have another group of Marines coming through who are in dire need of target practice."

There was a hint of pride in his voice. Most Marines on this ship were a fair shot. However, while other officers might have accepted marginal improvement over time, Jasen pushed the grunts to their limits. He demanded perfection, obviously an irony considering his own temperament.
"And I also have a boxing match to prepare for," he muttered. "A certain Bajoran corporal wants a rematch and another attempt to knock me out."

Before he turned back to his rifle, Jasen murmured, "With respect to what the flyboy L-C said regarding your decision to follow orders some time back ... I disagreed with the Federation's decision to surrender, but you obeyed Command's orders and I respect that. You're right in that we are still Starfleet. Some skippers I served under would have said 'screw orders' and crashed this ship into the nearest Jem'Hadar cruiser. You didn't and because of that, this convoy has an extra ship to protect civilians, including my sister."

Rau lifted one brow slightly, eyeing the man up and down. Clearly had a mouth on him, but she hadn't had to remove any of his limbs. So that was good. "Glad to be of service," she drawled. "I'll let you get back to work, Sergeant. Just remember what I said. Anyone else mouths off, step away and send them up the chain." At this point, as she spoke, her voice lowered to a sort of animalistic sound and her pupils shifted into something to match. "They'll reach me eventually and I'll give them something to worry about." Then, in a blink, both were back to normal. She smirked and turned to leave. "As you were," she tossed over her shoulder and was gone.

 

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