Location: In orbit of Jutus
Speed: Standard Orbit
Shields: Nominal
Hull: Nominal
Systems: All Systems Nominal

Before we Begin
Episode 11 - Family Matters
Stardate 73834.3
MD004 1400 hrs

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Posted on Thu Oct 24th, 2019 @ 3:53pm by Staff Warrant Officer Jennifer Masters - Calhoun & Captain Cornelius Tremble
Edited on on Fri Oct 25th, 2019 @ 11:55am

Mission: Episode 8 - The Silence
Location: Marine CO's Office
Timeline: MD002 1300 hrs
2190 words - 4 OF Standard Post Measure

At least the coffee was hot.

That's the best thing Neil could really say about his work day so far. Well, that' wasn't exactly fair. The morning had been busy doing the day to day of the Cure; five hours of classroom training in the Mark IV's. At the mid-day break, the platoon leaders had broken off for individual training and duty while he trudged back to his office.

Lunch had been an unspectacular, working affair as he worked through his 'IN' box and wrote reports. Four hours into that, he queued up another message from Fleet and sighed.

Then he glowered at it and ran a hand over his face, absently deciding he needed to shave. Neil flagged the current message, made a few notes, then touched his comm badge.

"Tremble to Masters," he said. "If you're free Jenn, mind stopping round my office? I need to pick your brain on something."

Jenn was in her office reading through reports, when she heard Neil call her. She tapped her badge as she replied, "I am on my way, Neil. I will be there as soon as possible." She got up and cleared her desk, and locked her drawers and computer, before leaving the office, head ding over to the marine deck and the marine COs office.

When she got there, she looked around the marine deck a moment. She then pressed the chime and called out, "I am here, Neil."

The Corporal of the Guard had informed her she was coming, and Neil stepped out of the fresher pulling on a freshly replicated undershirt.

"Come in Jenn," he said as he pushed his sleeves up.

Jenn walked in and looked around a moment. She then looked to Neil. "You wanted to see me?" She asked as she grabbed the only other chair there and then sat down on it.

Neil rubbed the back of his neck and scrubbed fingers over his scalp and nodded. "Thanks for coming down. Unfortunately, this is not a social call. I've been tapped to run an investigation into the Wakefield matter. I'll be going through the transcripts and simply put, I want to hear your thoughts on the whole thing. It'll be on the record, but nothing verbatim. I have to write a report..."

The look on his face made it plain he wasn't overly happy about it things as he sat on the corner of his desk and let his legs dangle.

"Hmm, interesting," Jenn noted. "So how can I be of assistance?" She leaned back and waited for the questions to come.

Neil gathered his thoughts and then said, "You saw this whole thing play out from it's stages after the battle over Cardassia Prime until the courts martial was came to it's conclusion. From my review, I have some thoughts about various things, but from your view. Your seat as friend, counsel, and a responsible Fleet Warrant, where do you think the greatest failing occurred?"

The Marine let that sink in and watched his friend.

Jenn listened carefully and analyzed everything in her head before she spoke and said, "I failed as a friend. As her best friend I should have seen something was wrong. I had suspicions, I had her taken to sickbay when Private Pearce had her shot, I should have had sickbay take a better look at her. I should've warned the captain. But we all failed. The Captain failed because he didn't see something different to his crew after the mission. Even though there signs." She paused a moment before she continued.

"The Operations department did file complaints against her behavior, and it may be a big ship, but people talk. And I keep taps on everyone, even you, Neil. I wouldn't be a good intelligence officer if I didn't know the ins and outs of the goings on this ship. So when I invited her to talk to me as a friend I should have seen it. She never talked that way to me. And she was crying out for help and couldn't hear her because she didn't want to burden me. And yet as an intelligence officer with such deductive skills like I do, I should have seen it!"

Sh turned her eyes away. "I defended her as she requested, but I failed. I had all the cards, but I couldn't....I should've stopped her from having her escalated. But I let that bit slip." She balled her fists as she let the entire trial go through her head.

Neil listened until it was obvious that the intelligence officer was at the end of her verbalized thought, then asked. "There are could haves and should haves in all that. Personally, it sucks Jenn. I'm sorry your friend and a fellow Pioneer went through that. Professionally, I see a lot of balls being dropped by Command...or and this is worse, a blatant disregard by the CO and XO toward officers under there command."

Neil let his words float in the air for a moment, then asked "So, my question would be. From your seat, did the XO put Wakefield in an untenable position while the CO fiddled as Rome burned?"

Jenn thought a moment. "I have to say yes," she said, "After our return from that huge fiasco, we all were kind of were impacted by it. But command failed to see what was going on. I don't think it is just Dana here, it's the entire crew, it just happened that Dana lashed out. But it could have been anyone really. It could have been me, I mean, if anything what happened to me could have effected me so that I would have been.. well you know. War is an ugly thing, but as command you should know that as no other. And the aftermath is even uglier. I mean you are a marine, you've seen things. Would you leave the Cure on it's own upon your return from something like that?"

Neil sat quietly listening to Jenn speak and then they sat in silence for a few beats before he responded. "The consideration is what if I didn't return. Then it's up to the First Sgt. If they don't return, it falls to the next Marine. We put our commands under stress constantly and evaluate. Those that can't hack it either get transferred to the rear with the gear or quit."

Neil rubbed the back of his neck and shook his head. "From a Pioneer Command viewpoint, I can't blame the Captain as, even though they're ultimately responsible for everything, after a battle and the politics going on they're looking out. It's the exec's job to look in and make sure the ship, and crew, is ready."

The marine held up a hand as if to stay commentary and said, "I haven't gotten far into this and my next stop is the CO. But after a quick review, I'm going to have to take a hard look at the Exec, and Medical. Was Dana physically injured during the battle and or did she go see them? And yes, you played a part. She confided in you and then popped off. I'm guessing others in her department saw some sort of odd behavior or a change and if that wasn't reported, then it's hard for Command to do anything with as many sticks in the fire."

At that he dropped his hand and leaned back in his chair. "So, now we have this," Neil said, indicating the flimsy pile on his desk. "Someone want's to shake the tree hard and have me do it."

Jenn shrugged and said, "I did say I failed her. But I wouldn't exactly say that at the time I was in the right mind myself. I mean, Christ, you almost poked my eyes out. And the only ones coming to visit me were Dana and the Commanders wife. You didn't come to visit me and my boyfriend Billy left me hanging as well. I was blind. I didn't think Dana would bail and go berserk in the Operations department. Reports of me, the Chief Intelligence officer going blind mus have reached the captain. How hard is it to tap your combadge and wish someone well. And if the commander was so concerned with my well being why didn't he come to visit instead of his wife. Not that I complain, Améri is a nice person. Yes we got our asses handed to us, but we come home and the first thing those thrown up academy graduate officers think off is 'where the blazers did we go wrong' while the crew is literally falling apart." She took a deep breath and continued, "Because, yes, the first thing I was asked to do when I got back on duty after 3 days was find what is going on."

He sat there for a time, then shifted awkwardly and got up, walking around to put a hand on her shoulder. "It took me a while to nut up and come see you Jenn, I can't excuse any part I had in what happened to you. And all that does suck, so I'm glad you got some comfort from someone. Everyone was going through drahk." Neil sighed, the hate he felt for himself at the time of the Cardassian missions coming back and an uncomfortable silence filled the office for a few minutes.

Finally, he patted her shoulder awkwardly again and walked back to the opposite side of the desk, opened a bottom drawer and pulled out a couple of glasses and a bottle. He poured a measure of bourbon into the glasses and slid one across.

After taking a drink, he cleared his throat, "With Fleet, it's going to come down to the good of the ship. Not so much the crew or what was going on with them as individuals. If the crew wasn't up to snuff, then senior officers are responsible. We all have a responsibility to each other and can't trust to Fleet. Maybe this is what this will all be about. Reminding us to watch out for one another closer."

Jenn could feel the awkwardness in his touch and she realized what the things she said to him were doing to him. She took her glass and then got up to reach for his hand and took it. "Neil, I know that what I said must still sting, so I am sorry for that. And I know that you could never forgive yourself for what you have done. But I forgive you, because you are like a brother to me, and please know that I am not holding you responsible for anything. Cause you're not. You had no control over what you did. Please remember that. If anything, I hold that Cardassian responsible. He did that to you, and he did that to me. And he used you. And for that I will hate him and if I ever see that bastard again, I am going to kill him."

Neil nodded in silent agreement, tossing back the bourbon, his lips compressing against his teeth at the sudden burn. "You might have to get into line for that one," he said finally. "But, to the matter at hand, I have no idea how my report is going to be received. And I have no doubt Malbrooke won't be happy about all this."

Jenn finally took in the drink she was given. And then said looking at her empty glass saying a bit disturbed, "I could use something very very sweet right about now." She winced is it away and then went on saying, "War is an ugly thing, no one got happy with war, no one other than the Ferengi. But still, what is Malbrooke going to do, he is in the end responsible for this ship."

Wordlessly, Neil opened the drawer again and withdrew a five inch cylinder. He took her glass back, wiped it out with a towel, then slapped the cylinder butt against the desktop, then screwed the top off and filled the glass with a red, slightly fizzy liquid and slid it over to her. "Bug Juice, watermelon tropical," he recited, reading the cylinder before setting it down.

"It all boils down to that," he agreed. Then he said, "I know it's late, but how are you doing?

"I am doing good," She said, "Just a bit tired, life returns to normal. Or as normal as they can be."

Neil smirked at that, then raised his glass. "Well, here's to normal. As long as it lasts." The marine took another sip at his glass and silence hung in the air for a few minutes before he finally said.

"We're really not in the normal sort of business though, are we?"

Jenn grinned as she shook her head.

A Joint Post By

Captain Cornelius Tremble
Marine Commanding Officer/Second Officer, USS Pioneer

Staff Warrant Officer Jennifer Masters
Chief Intelligence Officer, USS Pioneer


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