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JP LtCol Greaves & LtJG Kessler - On The Track

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((Gator Deck - Deck 3 - USS ‘Oumuamua))

This past mission had affected Jack in ways he had not expected and he did not like it. The loss of the USS Caboto and his parents reported M.I.A. had stung him hard. He had let his emotions get the better of him on the bridge during the mission and as a result owed some apologies to Vomek and especially Promontory who he had snapped at during a more tense moment. Something a senior officer should never do to a junior officer and Jack deeply regretted that moment and lapse in his judgment. 

Jack needed to better himself, to strengthen his core mentally and to become better at handling crises on the bridge. He needed to expand his training and needed to become a better example and leader. So far, since he joined the USS Thor and now the ‘Oumuamua, the man that he needed to turn to for this help was the one man he knew had been through what Jack was going through and could lead him to being a successful officer. As such he was headed to Deck 3, the ‘Gator Deck’. This deck housed the ship's complement of Starfleet Marines and according to the ship's computer was where Lieutenant Colonel Greaves was currently at.

The turbolift doors hissed open and Jack stepped out into the corridor. The last time he had been on this deck it had been bustling with activity but today the main corridor was nearly empty and Jack only saw one Marine walking his way.

Kessler: Excuse me, can you point me to Colonel Greaves?

Marine: (pointing down the corridor) He’s in the Armory.

Kessler: (nodding) Thank you.

He started down the hallway and came to the entrance to the Marine Armory. The doors hissed open and he stepped inside where there were a number of Marines along with Greaves apparently doing some type of weapons audit. The room was impressive and defensive weapons the Marines boasted were equally as impressive. Jack smiled at the thought of all these ‘cool toys’ and then realized that virtually all work in the room had come to a halt and all eyes were on him. That was just a little unnerving.

Kessler: Colonel Greaves (trying to be more official) Do you have a moment sir?

Wes had been holding a type III rifle upside down with his finger tracing out the serial number when the doors had opened to reveal Lieutenant JG Kessler. Of the two lance corporals with him, one held another rifle in a similar fashion while the other held a padd. It was their monthly serialized inventory, an especially important function for the armory to make sure none of their weapons had suddenly disappeared or were unexpectedly damaged. While in only required a Staff Sergeant or above to conduct the inventory, Wes liked to do it himself. It was one of the few links he still had to working shoulder to shoulder with some of the Marine Detachment.

With the tactical officer standing unexpectedly in the doorway, the three Marines continued to watch the man, until he spoke. There was something in his voice, with a look on Jack’s face that said this was important. 

With a smooth motion Wes rotated the rifle back to it’s approriate angle and slid it back into the wall rack it came from. 

Greaves: Sure, (looking to the junior Marines) Go ahead and take a break. I’ll come grab you when we’re ready.

The pair of junior enlisted both immediately nodded, the hint of a smirk on their faces. One which Wes chalked up to being thankful for getting out of work.  With the two stepping out into the corridor Jack visibly waited until the doors to the armory whooshed closed and the two of them were alone with the weapons. 

Kessler: Colonel, I need your help.

The Lieutenant Colonel raised an eyebrow, not sure how to take the statement, but sure that whatever Jack meant had more to do with something personal than anything in Tactical. He strode just past Jack and hit the door lock to make sure they wouldn’t be interrupted. That done, he leaned against one of the closed wall racks and crossed his arms, studying the man’s face. 

Greaves: Of course. What can I do for you?

Kessler: To be honest sir, I have a couple of requests. The first, is I would like to know if you would sponsor me to enter the Command Training Program?

Jack knew Greaves had enough trust in him to make him his Acting Chief Tactical officer so hopefully the Colonel had seen or found value in Jack’s abilities.

Greaves: Huh. Color me surprised. I figured it’d take you a while longer before you asked about that.

Wes grinned now, though it didn’t seem like Jack was reciprocating the warm feeling. He was still deadly serious, and Wes’s grin slowly faded. His arms uncrossed and landed on his hips as his body pushed off from the wall locker so he was no longer leaning.

Greaves: I think you’ve got the potential to be a solid command officer, but why so sudden… and serious?

Kessler: The Caboto (beat), the UDP, the Gamma Quadrant. (double beat) I need to be more than I am.

Wes thought it might be something like that, and he wasn’t exactly sure how to interpret it. 

Greaves: You know Jack, the CTP isn’t a joke. It’s damn hard work. Lot’s of studying and a lot of exams. Even the written ones are hard, and that’s the easiest part of the program. The practicals are even harder. When it comes to command there are no right answers. Only wrong ones. Poor marks go on your permanent record. Enough failures and you can eventually be barred from the program forever. 

Wes watched Jack’s face as he spoke, looking for any sign of reluctance or hesitation. Any break in his grim seriousness. 

Kessler: You, the Commodore, (beat) Starfleet are going to need strong command officers in this quadrant. I want to be one of those officers and I have no doubt I can do it. You won’t talk me out of it.

Jack knew what the Colonel was saying was the truth. The CTP was not a joke or something to be taken lightly but the decision to join Starfleet and to get into the Academy and then graduate was equally challenging. The CTP was to Jack just the next step in the evolution of his career and this event with the UDP and the Zet had just set his mind to it all the more relentlessly. 

Greaves: I’m not trying to talk you out of it. I’m just making sure you know what you’re asking for. It’s not something to dive into rashly. It's not an emotional decision. 

Kessler: Isn’t the request to better yourself always emotional versus institutional?

The Marine sighed heavily, his hands releasing from his hips. For a moment he didn’t acknowledge Jack’s comment and instead looked about the room for something. When his eyes finally fell on the padd the junior Marine had been holding, Wes moved past Jack and picked it up. The inventory was still displayed, well over 100 serial numbers in a long list with a few dozen highlighted already as accounted for.

With a flick of his wrist Wes tossed the padd to Jack and didn’t wait to see if he caught it. Instead he took several steps back to the open wall locker and withdrew a phaser rifle. With another smooth motion he spun the weapon end over end until it was upside down where he could see the serial number. 

The PADD sailed at Jack and thankfully with as much luck in the catch, the PADD did not hit the floor. Jack spun the PADD until it was oriented so he could see what he was looking at but by the time the Colonel was rattling off a serial number.

Greaves: Beta-Mike-Kilo-Three-Three-Eight-Niner-Four-Seven-Zero.

There was a moment of silence and Wes’s eyes moved away from the serial number to see Jack’s reaction. 

Jack traced his finger down the inventory list trying to orient himself to the data layout and find the serial number. As he found it he read the number aloud back to the Colonel.

Kessler: Beta-Mike-Kilo-Three-Three-Eight-Niner-Four-Seven-Zero, confirmed.

Content, Wes spun the weapon back and slotted it into the wall locker, withdrawing the next one and repeating the movements.

Jack tapped the confirmed button indicating the weapon had been visually accounted for and as he did Greaves rattled off another number.

Greaves: Beta-Mike-Kilo-Three-Five-Eight-Six-One-Seven-Two. (Pause) What’s this really about Jack? Why do you want this so badly, and right now?

Kessler: (locating the weapon on the data line) Beta-Mike-Kilo-Three-Five-Eight-Six-One-Seven-Two, confirmed.

The two prong question was expected and Jack turned the PADD on it’s side and stepped closer to Greaves.

Kessler: I’ve always known I would want to command (beat). I thought I had prepared myself to start that process but this last mission showed me how unprepared I am. 

Jack stepped around the room for a moment looking away from Greaves to the other weapons lockers and then turned back to the Colonel. 

Kessler: The loss of the Caboto and her crew affected me in a way that it affected how I reacted with two junior officers on the bridge. I snapped at Ensign Promontory, I almost snapped at V’Airu and I showed them that I was not in control.

The Marine nodded, withdrawing another weapon after a moment of silence. 

Greaves: As for as screw ups go, that’s pretty minor. 

Kessler: I understand that but I was the second senior officer on the bridge and I failed to give the proper presentation for those junior officers. The CTP can give me that training to be the command influence that you and the Commodore need me to really be (beat) to be the officer I want to be.

Jack paused and watched the Colonel. He hoped Greaves could understand where he was coming from and if he did not want to sponsor him, he at least hoped the Colonel would give him the guidance that he needed to better himself in front of the junior officers in a crisis moment.

The older man sighed once again and slid the phaser rifle back into the rack, turning to face Jack once again. 

Greaves: I don’t know if you knew this or not, but I was enlisted before I became an officer, still a Marine though. 

Kessler: (shaking his head slightly) I was not aware of that.

Greaves: My first real time leading folks during an actual mission was back then. I was younger than you are now, just a new Corporal. We were raiding a pirate hideout and I was a team leader. The details aren’t really important. What’s important was a decision I had to make. As a leader. As a Marine. 

Wes crossed his arms again and leaned against the wall locker door, studying Jack’s face. The memory of the raid wasn’t a pleasant one. Even a year or two ago he probably wouldn’t have been comfortable talking about it at all. Moving on from it was a part of his own command training, although not formally or even as he understood it at the time.

Greaves: A couple of pirates surprised my team. Pinned us down and tossed a photon grenade into the middle of our group. We’ve all seen the holovids where the hero jumps on the grenade, right? That’s not just in the vids. Back at The Basic School, walls are lined with pictures of the heroes who did just that.

Jack’s breathing unknowingly started to slow as he thought about the implications of giving your life to protect those of your teams.

Kessler: (softly) You didn’t jump on it?


Greaves: Nope. Arguably should have. I was in charge. They were my troops I was leading. I was responsible for their lives. It was the right thing to do… but I didn’t. I chose another option. I kicked the grenade down the hallway back at the bastards.


Ok, split second decision. Jack could see the tactical advantage of sending the enemy's weapon hurtling back down the hallway at them.


Kessler: So you used their weapon against them?


Greaves: Tried to. Remember when I just said in command, there’s no right answers, just wrong ones? 


Kessler: (puzzled) That was a wrong decision?


Jack didn’t understand how that played into the wrong decision category. Greaves had protected his men and used the enemy’s weapon against them. Shouldn’t that have been the right decision?


Greaves: I’m still not sure if that was a wrong decision or not. See, this was an asteroid hideout we were on. On the surface. I could see the stars through the windows in the corridor. Turns out those windows don’t react too well to explosions. Especially from the inside. I kicked that grenade right next to the window.


The visual of what that meant slammed into Jack’s head and resulting chaos that must have ensued after the explosion would have been bad, very bad. But the Colonel was here so somehow he managed to survive the ordeal. Jack paused and looked at Greaves trying to read the emotions carried in the Marine’s eyes.


Kessler: You made it out but not all of your men did?


Greaves: Pretty much. One of my Marines got sucked out during the decompression. 


Jack thought about the decision and the results. In his mind the decision was a two-edged sword. One way someone died instantly, the second option had a variable to it that was unseen. Did that make it a wrong decision? Jack personally did not think so but he could see how the families of the fallen might and thus the mental question Greaves carried about the choice he made.


Kessler: You are here, you brought the rest of your men home and how many Marines have come home because you are here? Because you made a decision in a split second that would have resulted in death one way or another? I don’t see that as a wrong decision, just a bad kick.


Jack smiled lightly trying to relieve the tension of the thought of death that hung in the room.


Greaves: True, and I’ve come to terms with that. My point is it took me a long time to move past that decision. What I realized through that process is we do the best with what we have at the time. When a crisis confronts us, we react with who we are, not who we want to be. As long as we aren’t negligent or immoral, we learn from our wrong decisions and move on.


Jack watched Greaves as he spoke. Although younger, Greaves spoke much like Jack’s father with regards to command, actions and consequences. There were subtle differences of course but the experience of time and command gave Greaves the same strong foundation that Jack saw his father stand on and give advice from.


Kessler: Then I need to better who I am at handling my responses when someone touches a nerve. I need to better my understanding of how to handle those instances so I do not have that emotional mistake again.


Greaves: You say that on this mission you made emotional mistakes. I say you reacted well in line with what I’d expect of someone with your grade and level of experience. Arguably better in fact given how personal the stakes were.


Listening to Greaves Jack did not feel the Marine would say something like this just to help lift his spirits. Greaves struck Jack as a no hold back Marine who offered praise or compliment only when it was earned so having Greaves voice this made Jack feel better about his performance and a little less like he had made the wrong moves on the bridge.


Kessler: Thank you Colonel. That means a great deal coming from you.


Greaves:  Take it from someone who spent too long focused on the past. If you’re looking to enter the CTP because you’re focused on past mistakes, you’re doing it for the wrong reasons.


Command of his own ship had been a dream of Jack’s since he first sat foot on a Starship. He remembered the first ship his father was assigned to; well not the class of ship or what it looked like from the outside. From the inside it had a draw to it that for a kid was a magical feeling. The ship had a hum, a very soft hum in the walls. Windows as tall as young Jack was allowed his larger than life imagination to stare out into the universe where his own childhood missions were carried out. 


Jack was not focused on past mistakes as much as he was focused on not making the same ones again. He could better himself without the CTP but his road to the command chair had been laid out in front of him years before.


Kessler: My father told me once he wanted me to be whatever I wanted to be. I told him that I wanted to command my own ship. (beat) I was little at the time and he smiled and said, well, you have a long time to make up your mind. (double beat) I’ve never wanted to be anything other than a starship Captain and now seeing what we face here in the Gamma Quadrant, I know this is the right choice. One day you and I, we won’t be defending Starfleet side-by-side on the same bridge. We will be standing on our own ship's bridge defending the Federation's ideals and policies. My decision just became more clear on this mission.


Wes nodded along as Jack spoke. He could see the resolution in the man’s eyes. There was passion and history behind the story. 


Greaves: Okay, that’s a start then. Good.


Kessler: So then let me prove my determination and drive to you. (beat) The ‘Oumuamua is currently without a Security Chief. Give me the Asst. Chief of Security role on top of my Asst. Chief of Tactical responsibilities. I will head up both departments until we get a Chief of Security. Until then, that will help me in leadership of multiple departments.


The Marine broke into a wide grin at the audacious request. It was a bold move and he respected the play, in more ways than one. Still, that wasn’t his decision to make. It was the Commodore’s. 


Greaves: (Lightheartedly) Whoa, slow it down. I’ll bring it up to the commodore at the next personnel meeting, but it’s not something you need to prove. You're already leading Tactical. Let’s start with the first module of the CTP instead and we can touch base again after you complete that. Maybe you’ll decide it's still too early for you, or maybe you won’t. As long as you finish the module there’s no harm in it.


Kessler: (Allowing a slight smile to crease his lips) Fair enough. I can do that.


He nodded, the Marine’s voice growing more serious for a moment. 


Greaves: Expect me to be a tough tutor. Don’t gaff off your studies. You’ll need it. 


Jack allowed his slight smile to grow into a larger grin and nodded to the Colonel.


Kessler: I wouldn’t have it any other way sir.


Jack was still not happy with the way he had performed on the bridge in front of the junior officers but that was in the past and he was looking forward, looking to what he really wanted and what would benefit him the most. His goal was clearer now than it had been and with Greaves at the helm of his training he knew that he would succeed, there was no question in his mind.


Kessler: On a personal note. I will be switching quarters to a set of family quarters on Deck 4 to help accommodate Krystal until my parents can be found. I do not see any reason to send her back to Earth where she has no family. I want you to be assured though that having her aboard will not interfere with my duties or training.


Wes turned his back once again to the young officer and drew a rifle from the rack once again and resumed the inventory as he listened. As Jack’s comment turned toward reassurance rather than simply a statement, the Colonel looked over his shoulder with a slightly amused look. 


Greaves: We’ll see about that. I’m sure you’ll do your best though. How’re you handling the revelation? It’s not everyday you find out you have a teenage sibling.  


Jack took a slightly deeper breath than he had been. This entire ordeal had been so unexpected that he had not really given himself time to process all of it. He had immediately gone into being in ‘family mode’ and everything had been moving since then pretty fast. 


Kessler: It’s a little weird finding out your parents adopted a child without telling you, but at the same time; knowing what I do now. It does not surprise me. (beat) My mother loves big surprises.


He nodded once again. Wes had dedicated his life to the Marine Corps. Sure there had been flings along the way, but he’d never even really considered settling down. Children had been the furthest thing from his mind. He didn’t know how he’d feel if suddenly he were faced with the prospects of taking care of a teenager. Phaser rifle still in hand Wes turned back to face Jack again. 


Greaves: I’d like to say I can imagine… but I don’t know if I can. Adjusting is probably tough for her too.


Kessler: (smiling with a slight chuckle) You’ll have to meet her. She’s a bright kid.


This time Wes openly chuckled at the comment. His mind went back to the station and the slave market that Krystal had been sprung from. Then he thought to the arboretum when he’d questioned the kids for more information on the station’s security in preparation for the raid. He was well aware of what Krystal was capable of.


Greaves: She’s a tough kid too. Bright like you said, but resourceful and tough. I busted her out of that slave market… or rather it’d be more accurate to say I helped V’Len do it.


Kessler: (grinning broadly) I’m sure he gave you a choice.


Jack knew full well that if V’Len decided to do something his mind was set and there was probably very little the Colonel could have done to stop him.


Wes motioned toward the rifles with his chin, the conversation now winding down to small talk.


Greaves: You’re welcome to stay and help me finish the inventory, but I’d wager a bet you’ve got more interesting things to do on your shore leave. Let’s meet tomorrow morning at 0900 and I’ll get you set up with studies for the first block of the CTP.


Kessler: (handing the PADD back to Greaves) I actually have a personal project in the mission pod I need to keep playing with. Thank you for your time and help Colonel. (beat, turning towards the door) I’ll send you Marines back in.


Jack nodded to the Colonel and then exited the room. The doors hissing closed behind him. He paused and took a deep breath. The first step in his journey was made and now he needed to commit to the tasks at hand. 


Lieutenant Colonel Wes Greaves

Executive Officer

Marine Detachment Commander

USS Oumuamua NCC-81226




Lieutenant jg Jack Kessler

Asst. Chief Tactical Officer

USS Oumuamua



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