Posted June 12, 2023, 1:09 p.m. by Lieutenant Commander Gravel Mardusk (Chief of Security) (James Sinclair)
Posted by Chief Petty Officer Jacen “Flex” Flexwood (Security Officer/Special Forces Division) in Alt Timeline - Checking In (Gravel Mardusk)
Posted by Lieutenant Commander Gravel Mardusk (Chief of Security) in Alt Timeline - Checking In (Gravel Mardusk)
Posted by Chief Petty Officer Jacen “Flex” Flexwood (Security Officer/Special Forces Division) in Alt Timeline - Checking In (Gravel Mardusk)
Posted by… suppressed (8) by the Post Ghost! 👻
“The Chief’ll be back in a few minutes. Just went to check something. New guy, huh?” She eyes him in a blatant appraisal and then said “So where you coming from?” A voice like rolling thunder came from the door to the passageway and said “You can get to know him after his check-in, C’treb.” Walking into the Security Center was a massive Orion. Over seven feet tall and built like a wall of muscle, the gigantic green-skinned figure looked down at Flexwood and said “Lieutenant Commader Gravel Mardusk. You must be the new CPO they sent.” and he stuck out a truly massive hand towards the enlisted man.
Jacen was about to respond to the NLt when a powerful voice cut him off. He turned to see the large green skinned Chief of Security walking towards him. The man was large even for Orion standards. A smile crossed Flex’s face as a thought occurred to him, he was usually the largest person in the room and he would look average by comparison to the COS.
He shook the offered hand. “Yes sir. Jacen Flexwood, pleased to meet you Commander.” The COS’s grip was as strong as you’d expect from a man of his size. To someone younger and less experienced it might be intimidating, but Flex had learned a long time ago that there was always a bigger fish in the ocean.
Mardusk nodded and said “C’mon. Follow me.” and he led the CPO through the door marked ‘Chief Of Security’.
Flex fell in a couple steps behind the COS and followed him into the office.
On first glance, the office was both similar and different to any other office. The floor wasn’t carpeted; instead being a texured , non-slip surface like that found in Engineering but lit from underneath giving the room a somewhat softer lightning than most. Some shelves around the room had their own brighter lighting with various things set across them… a Jem’Hadar helmet with a massive crack running the length of it… a well used and cared for bat’leth… and piece of warped and blackend metal. Mementos of the Chief’s past probably. Then there was the standard small meeting area nearest the door with a table and five chairs, one substantially larger than the others. But as one’s view moved further into the room and reached the desk at the back, things changed. The desk was at least half again as big as a normal one.
As he entered the room, his eyes did an unconscious sweep… left to right… high to low… He took note of the various pieces of memorabilia chronicling the large Orion’s past. He was sure that each of them must come with an intriguing story for another time.
Mardusk moved to the back of the office where sat a large desk against the back wall with two chairs in front of it. “Have a seat.” he said as he sat down and jabbed a thick green finger at the desk interface.
Jacen took a seat in the chair on the right.
“So… Marines and now Fleet, huh?” he said as he reviewed the file. He looked up and said “Gotta say, Chief… that doesn’t work out too well in my experience. So tell me… what’s the difference between the missions of Fleet Security and the Marines?”
“To be concise sir, Fleet missions are much more diplomatic… where as many times by the time the Marines get sent in it’s shoot first and ask questions later. In my experience, Marines being sent in means that for one reason or another the Fleet mission was unsuccessful.”
Mardusk leaned back and his eyes narrowed slightly. “Really? Ok… so why would you want to trade the one for the other? And how do you see your skills you learned as a Marine transferring to the Security section?” he asked.
Flex watched the COS’s reaction and couldn’t tell if he didn’t like the answer or if he was just trying to assess the Petty Officer sitting before him. “I was a Special Forces Operator… and a good one.. but our last mission went south and I suffered a significant injury. The way things are, I was never going to be able to lead men without a commission. While I’m physically capable of performing my duties, the lingering effects of my injury made it unlikely that I would be able to achieve the elite physical standards necessary to qualify for Marine SpecOps Officer training.” He said bluntly.
“My choices became, getting put out to pasture with an early medical retirement… not an option. Continuing on as a NCO Operator… no possibility of upward mobility. Or pursuing my commission in the Fleet. So here I am.” Jacen said.
He mulled over the last part. “I believe my skill set will make me a valuable addition to any security division. I’m a trained marksman who has specialized in small unit combat tactics. I’m used to operating in chaotic situations that require the mental agility to adapt on the fly. My units were often sent into areas with challenging objectives and tasked with getting the job done which we did more than 93% of the time.” Jacen’s tone was matter-of-fact, he wasn’t intending to boast.
“The biggest area I’m going to have to adapt to is all of the shipboard operations. I’m used to operating in the more individual and physical elements of the job. Technological and system elements will be relatively new, but I’m a diligent worker and a quick study so I won’t allow myself to be a liability.”
Mardusk listened to Flexwood speak, and he was clearly unimpressed. “So you didn’t want to be here, you just didn’t want to go home. Great. Fantastic. Awesome, even. I just love being someone’s last choice.” and he shook his head. “And you are just proving my point, Chief. I told you when we walked in- Marines coming to Fleet Security rarely works out well. And this is exactly why. I just asked you how you think you would do moving from Marines to Security and you proceeded to tell me how bad-ass you are in a fight. Which I do not doubt in the slightest. I’ve known a lot of Marines. Better fighters one would be hard-pressed to find. But your abilities as a marksman? Your ‘expertise in small unit combat tactics’? Yeah… those mean exactly jack AND s#!t here. If you have to fight to do this job? You suck at it. If you have to put hands on someone to get your goal achieved? Somewhere along the way you failed. If you have to shoot somebody? Hell, if you even have to draw your damn phaser?! Then you have done something absolutely screwed up to get to that point.” He stood up and came around the desk and stood in front of Flexwood and looked down at him while he leaned against the desk. He spoke in measured words, with a tone that drove home the importance of his words.
Flex watched as he large man moved around the desk in a move that might intimidate others, and cocked his head to the side at the man’s response. Was he serious right now? Was he joking? Was he trying provoke a reaction in order to get Jacen sent home before he ever started his job. If he was going to get shipped out, he was going to say his piece though…
“With all due respect sir, I am not proving your point… but you’re damned sure trying hard to. I’ve already stated that for Fleet officers to engage in a fire fight means that the mission has in some sense failed when you asked me how serving in the Fleet would be different than with the Marines. You didn’t ask how I would do… you asked about skills… I never claimed to be a badass, I provided an assessment of my relative strengths and weaknesses and you dismissed them as “Jack” and “Shit”. Which is disingenuous at best given that Star-Fleet history is riddled away missions gone awry and military conflicts. Yes the Fleet is meant for exploration, but even explorers need protection… that’s why the ships are so heavily fortified. I obviously will have plenty to learn about Fleet operations, that’s why I’m here. Subordinates learn from those they serve under.”
“As for being a last choice… that’s a bombastic oversimplification if I’ve ever heard one. Life is full of nuance, which you gladly disregarded because it did not fit your narrative of Marines not being fit to serve in the Fleet.” He paused a moment to catch his breath and was cut off by the COS.
“Now, I am not saying that fighting is never the answer.” he said to begin. “Sometimes, VERY RARELY, we have to resort to force to keep the peace. I have even gone so far as to utilize deadly force while on duty. But it is always a last resort. I don’t give a damn how strong you are. I don’t care if you know every martial art under every sun. I don’t care if you can shoot a moving flea off a targ’s back without singeing a single hair at a hundred paces. My best officers? They don’t fight. They don’t yell, they don’t threaten, they don’t throw down and they don’t intimidate. They talk. They investigate. They negotiate. And they help people find consensus before they come to blows. My best officers have never drawn their weapon outside of practice. And they still command the respect of those they serve with. So when they are called into a situation? They are already in control. Because everyone on the ship knows that they are there to help… not drop their proverbial d!<ks on the table and demand people behave themselves.” He took a breath and then said “So again I ask you… how do you see those skills you learned as a Marine transferring to my Security section here on the Atlantis?”
Flex took a measured breath. He wasn’t sure how he’d come across as a chest beating individual, but he’d clearly made a poor first impression and needed to start over. “The greatest skill I learned in the Marines that will serve me aboard the Atlantis was the ability to work with any and everyone to accomplish the mission.” He wasn’t sure how much detail he could go into because he wasn’t sure how much of his record had been redacted. “We would be planetside for months at a time, often in unfriendly confines and would have to build relationships and work with the locals for everything from intel to simply having the resources to eat and drink clean water.”
“I’m not a battering ram that tries to knock in every door.” He let his words end there, his impression was that the COS had already made up his mind and Flex doubted his words would change that drastically. He just needed the opportunity to prove his value.
Mardusk looked at him and then just shook his head before standing up and moving back to his chair. “Ok, lets try a different tact, shall we? Tell me, Chief… what is the primary purpose of the Marines? And after that… tell me what the primary purpose of Star Fleet Security is. What is our main purpose for existing?”
Jacen found this exercise exhausting, as an enlisted service member he’d fully expected a meet and greet and then to be shipped off to follow orders from one of the COS’s numerous subordinates who still outranked Flex, but instead he found himself in the midst of a full on philosophy exam that he didn’t know to study for. He wondered if Mardusk grilled each of the hundreds of security personnel this same way or if he has a special taste for grilling former Marines since they ‘rarely work out well’.
“The primary purposes of the Marines are to keep the peace when and where necessary, to provide humanitarian aid to those in need, to do as the President of the Federation directs, and remain prepared and organized to fight effectively on land, sea, air, or space.” He said.
“The primary purposes of Star-Fleet Security are to develop a sense of security, confidence, and trust in the community or in this case the ship while maintaining the peace, providing public services where needed, enforcing Federation law. We protect crew from aggressors, each other, and themselves in the most civil manner possible so that they can best do their jobs.”
“Wrong. On both * counts.” and he sighed heavily. “Marines are not peacekeepers, they are force amplifiers. Marines fight. They attack the enemy. That’s what they do and few do it better. But here?” and he spread his massive arms wide and gestured at the ship. “Here your primary purpose is to enforce the rules and policies of the Fkeet and the Command staff. Here you are a peacekeeper. You are the ship’s police, not their military. You are part of the community that is the crew and* Star Fleet as a whole. You are a guide and a diplomat… a negotiator and a friend to those in need. And what you do here will follow you your entire career. Security is unique among other divisions, Chief. Our individual reputations are looked at far more than almost anyone else. And you may think that all of this doesn’t matter because you are ‘just an enlisted man’ in Security… but you are a Senior Non-commisssioned Officer, and the teams below you will look to you for guidance. Direction. Advice. And if you yourself don’t grasp what it is we do… how do you expect to be able to do that for them”
The COS’s response didn’t come as a surprise by this point in this conversation. The man clearly was listening to respond instead of to hear or understand what Jacen was trying to say, it was all Flex could do to not laugh at how ridiculous this situation was turning out to be. He was being lectured on what it meant to be a Marine by someone who clearly didn’t understand that Marines do more than win wars, but as the saying goes… when you’re a hammer… everything looks like a nail. And the depiction of Star-Fleet Security as enforcement first was bleak indeed. It was exactly that perception that kept the general population from trusting or helping when it was needed. Jacen took a measured breath.
“Permission to speak freely sir.” He requested.
Mardusk just shrugged and said “Absolutely. Speak your mind.”
Jacen took a breath as he thought about how best to say what he was thinking before just deciding to be blunt. “I get that the hard ass schtick is probably great for humbling some newly minted Ensign or Lieutenant J.G., but we don’t have a personal relationship yet so all it’s doing right now it undermining your credibility and making it harder for me to trust you. If you want to disqualify me from service and ship me home as a washout because of my prior service, that’s your prerogative. I completely understand that I have a million things to learn, so please… teach me… But lecturing me like an insubordinate toddler with tropes from some poorly written holodrama won’t get me there.” He paused to catch his breath before continuing.
“Yes, Marines fight and are damn good at it, but to say that’s all they are dismisses ninety percent of the job. Especially in a peace minded society like the Federation. When colonists at a backwater outpost near the edges of Federation space are rioting because they don’t have enough to eat… the Marines aren’t sent in to fight… we’re not the Cardassians putting down a rebellion.” There was a edge to his voice when talking about the Cardassians that alluded to his distaste for them. “When natural disasters happen, the Marines aren’t sent in to fight… they’re often sent in to situations that require their manpower and logistical wherewithal, especially when the Federation can’t afford to send in a capital ship.”
“As far as security goes, I think we see things differently… which is ok, I’m professional enough to follow orders. I just feel that if we approach our job from an enforcement first standpoint that in the long run we make our jobs harder. I believe we have to place the serve and protect pieces first so that people will trust us and help us when the time comes.”
Mardusk listened and didn’t say a word; just kept his metallic emerald-green eyes locked on the speaker. When Flexwood finished, Marsusk took a breath…
And then laughed.
“Well… you really aren’t very good at this, Chief… but you have some decent potential.” the Security Chief said with a grin. “I like how yiu hold to your position, but you have to learn that- even when someone is pissing you off and being stubborn and not listening- you can’t appear inflexible. Can’t let that frustration show, okay? You have to get them the point where they belive that agreeing with what you want them to do is their idea… not that they were forced into it.” He looked down at the desk and tapped a few commands into the desk interface.
“Ok, let’s see here… so they have you listed as a ‘Special Forces’ something or other.” he said after a moment. “I dunno what that means. We don’t have Special Forces in Security. What we do have are FAST…Fleet Anti-terrorism Security Team. Now, your prior service can count towards that certification, but there would still be some legal and ship systems training you’d have to put in before you could join the group on board the Atlantis. And, of course, I’d expect you to put the time in to get to know the Security team and get a real feel for what it means to be a Fleet Security member. You good with that?”
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