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Hardcase on Deck

Posted on 08 Feb 2020 @ 11:25pm by Captain Harvey Geisler

Mission: Sentience
Location: Captain's Ready Room
Timeline: January 1, 2390

Kai finished his coffee, recycled his mug. The ship had just passed an important test in his mind. The Goat Locker, also known as the Chief's Mess, had really good coffee. Real coffee, to which he'd added some of his own supply for general use later. And he was pleased to see that the owner of the ship's lounge provided some fresh food for the Goat Locker when she could. Kai's chronometer beeped. Looking at the time, Kai realized he should probably go and check in with the captain.

Most of what Kai had heard about Geisler was good. On the other hand, Kai had read the reports of the Black Hawk's most recent mission. What the ship and crew had gone through nine months ago no one should have to experience. Kai briefly thought back to the Dominion War and the betrayal he'd experienced and thought over the long road he'd walked to move on from it as much as he had. He still thought about it. It still made him angry. Kai took a breath and touched the Great Bird of the Galaxy amulet he wore under his shirt, closed his eyes, and said a silent calming prayer before heading to the turbo lift. Along the way he observed the crew at work, putting the finishing touches on the Black Hawk, preparing her for launch. The crew he saw looked pretty sharp, but like everything, there was room for improvement. He stopped here and there to exchange words with a few random crewmen and petty officers. Never too early to start getting to know the crew.

Kai rode the turbolift to the Bridge and when he got there went straight to the Captain's Ready Room and hit the door chime.

The door opened automatically, but not because of the chime. Captain Geisler was set to exit the Ready Room in order to check on the bridge and the crew within. His chime often sounded on and off throughout each day, so he wasn't surprised to have a visitor. Rarely, and only rarely, did that chime happen to sound because he was leaving. The Captain quickly took note of the older, and much more rugged man before him, and then spotted the man's rank. 'Master Chief," he greeted. "To what do I owe the pleasure?"

Harvey took a few steps backward in order to allow the Master Chief to enter the Ready Room.

"Command Master Chief Kai Mazen, sir," Kai said, entering the room. "I'm reporting in as Chief of the Boat. My file should have been sent to you by Command for review."

The Captain recalled the name now. He had seen the file, but hadn't the chance to read it in full as of yet. "Ah, yes," the Captain replied. "Can I get you anything to drink? Coffee? Tea?"

"I'm fine, sir," Kai said. "I just had coffee a bit earlier. Figure I'll hold off on my next cup til later. I don't want to get jittery. But don't let me stop you from having some if you want it."

Harvey shook his head. "I'm the same way. Of course, with young children around, I can't risk being too awake to fall asleep when they go down." The Captain gestured to one of the two chairs in front of the desk. He then sat back down behind the desk, using the opportunity to quickly call up the Master Chief's personnel file on his non-holographic desktop terminal.

"That's right," Kai said. "I'd heard your wife had twins. Congratulations, sir."

"Thank you," Harvey said, taking a moment to glance at the personnel file displayed on the monitor. There he found several entries in the Master Chief's service record connected to Master-At-Arms, dating through the Dominion War, Cardassian War, and other dicey situations the Federation had been in. The Master Chief had seen combat, peacetime, and everything in between it seemed like. But this was not his first Chief of the Boat assignment. "Tell me about the Von Steuben," Harvey stated, referencing Kai's last assignment, which had lasted for six years.

"My first assignment wearing Command red," Kai said. "That took some getting used to. Still getting used to it, really. I'd held leadership positions before, but in those cases I had people either directly under me or I supervised those who supervised others. But I was in the thick of it. Now I'm the highest ranking, most senior NCO, a Command NCO, and I don't directly command very many people. Mostly just whatever administrative personnel are assigned to me. I had to learn to be an advisor and a mentor. To enlisted, to Junior and Senior NCOs, to officers, and to the Captain. And they had to learn to trust my advice. We sorted things out fairly quickly. They even let me stretch my legs a little, let me keep my hand in here and there in security matters. Nothing that would take away from the CSTO or anything like that. Usually in support of CSTO, when they needed someone who wasn't obviously Security. I accompanied Captain T'Sai on many First Contact and diplomatic assignments, under the guise of being an advisor, which wasn't that difficult because T'Sai... Captain T'Sai, she saw me as a trusted colleague, someone she could rely on. I felt, still feel, the same way about her."

Harvey nodded as the Master Chief dove into his history. Not only was the exposition informative, it also gave Harvey some insight into the man that sat before him. "If that's the case, then why the transfer? Or is it the same old story about going wherever command assigns you lest you take an early retirement."

"In my less cynical moments," Kai said. "I like to think I'm sent where Command feels I have the most to offer. If that's the case, perhaps they think I have a lot to offer the Black Hawk, its Captain, its officers, its crew." Kai met Harvey's eyes. "You guys were really run through it nine months ago. An enemy put on your friends' and loved ones' faces and attacked you from within. While not on such a grand scale, I had something similar happen to me, back during the Dominion War. A lot of my friends and comrades-in-arms were hurt and killed. The person responsible wore the face of someone I cared about, someone I trusted... someone I'd been intimate with, and I missed it. Completely. Never saw it coming, or, perhaps in retrospect, ignored the signs. The fact that I might have survived only because I didn't realize what was going on and therefore didn't confront her is cold comfort. I'll tell you about it sometime, if you'd like. Either way, maybe Command thinks you could use an experienced hand to help you look after the crew."

"I'm sorry for your loss," Harvey nearly droned. It was true, they had been to hell and back, and betrayal always hurt, no matter how little or how much it was. "At least you don't have to see the face of the person who betrayed you every day. Most of the... infected personnel are still serving on board this ship. Aside from those who died, we had very few transfers in the last few months. Most of this crew has served with each other for more than a year. The real question is going to be, how well they're going to treat the incoming crew who didn't experience what brought us all together."

After he was betrayed, Kai saw the face of his betrayer every night in his dreams. Even now, a decade and a half later, Kai still had nightmares with her face in them, just not as frequently. He didn't mention any of this to Harvey. Mentioning the incident to show that he had at least some understanding of what Harvey and his crew had gone through was one thing. Arguing about whose experience was more traumatic was quite another and certainly inappropriate.

Kai nodded. "I can help with that," he said. "I'll make it a priority. Of course, the service is often likened to secondary school on steroids groups are going to form and there'll be in-crowds and those the in-crowds consider inferior in someway. But there are ways of adjusting for that. If you can please ask your XO to manage the issue for the officers and warrant officers, I'll manage it for the crewmen and NCOs."

"As soon as Commander Teixeira returns from his stint at the Academy, I'll be sure to mention it to him." Harvey paused for a second. "Any questions for me?" he finally asked.

"No, sir," Kai said. "If there's nothing else, I'll get to work."

Harvey nodded. "Of course. I'm sure you're eager to check out the ship and start to get to know the crew. Welcome aboard, Master Chief. Dismissed."

 

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