Authors: MCPO Gregory Paladin, PO2 Zirra Kajat, PO1 Ferguson, Crewman Angela MacKenzie (Played by Jason Beauvoir)
Angela MacKenzie walked into the Chief of Boat's Office to find a Gorn and a Tellarite already there.
"Morning, Las." The Tellarite said. "Take a seat, I'm sure the CoB will be here shortly."
Angela did as she was instructed.
"I'm Ferguson, this is Zirra Kajat. We've just been compering childhoods, she's winning, by the way." The Engineer said giving the human a wink.
"Good day, Crewman...?" The Gorn began.
"MacKenzie, Angela MacKenzie. Good day, it's a pleasure to meet you both." She said unsure about her new found company.
"You too. So MacKenzie, are you the product of a bad home life?" Ferguson asked.
"No." Angela said taken aback by such a personal question.
"Steady on, Las, it was just a question." Ferguson said.
Any response from Angela was forgotten when their trio was made a quartet by the addition of young civilian woman with red hair and Bajoran features.
"Hi, all, I'm Coln Jena." She said.
After finalizing his encounter with a past acquaintance, Gregory took his time to getting to his new office on Deck 5. Unlike the Nautilus, the Portland's deck plans were slight different. This wasn't unusual, as every Miranda-class was, in its own rights, unique. There had been and still were dozens of different configurations for several different combat, science, medical, and (in recent years) cargo transport missions. Being someone quite familiar with such differences and uniqueness, Gregory had little difficulty adjusting to the new layout.
As he rounded the corner, he passed the double-bunked quarters where most of the enlisted and "background" personnel were kept. It was a common theme for enlisted personnel to identify as the behind-the-scenes staff most of them time. Gregory had heard many nicknames used to identify groups, especially on the Nautilus; outcasts, stage staff, background characters, and his personal favorite, ants. Every ship, especially the Portland, would identify to their own unique culture. In some ways, Gregory couldn't wait to find out the culture that existed here.
Following the directions given to him, he entered left to a corridor, then proceeded past several offices titled for enlisted department heads, such as Petty Officers and, eventually, Chief of the Boat at the end. The doors would open for him automatically, and as he walked in, he stopped. It was a momentary pause, barely visible, his eyes resting on the Gorn. Gregory felt his heart stop, and felt his throat tighten. Something akin to...
...No. He was over that death. He hoped he was, had hoped. Apparently he'd still need treatment in some form. Thankfully his pause was quickly made up for by him scanning the room, seeing various individuals present, and quickly recovering from his lapse in emotional and self-control.
At present, he was in the "meeting" portion of his office. Being the "Chief of the Boat", he required an area where various enlisted personnel could sit, specifically those in charge of important areas of the lower decks. It was in many ways akin to an officers meeting room, except in no way, shape, or form was Gregory responsible for officer tasks. He had it easier. All he had to do was make the ship function, while the officers used the ship.
The meeting table was small and spartan, much like his office. The only exception being a thin temporary wall to the rear, separating Gregory's personal desk with the meeting area he was in at present. Sitting at the head of the table, he gave a sigh, smiling to each, briefly lingering on the Gorn before looking away.
"I'm the new Chief of the Boat, Gregory Paladin," he remarked with a genuine, welcoming smile. "Right now I believe we are all getting to know each other - if in fact you all know each other already. So don't let me interrupt you."
"Morning, Master Chief." Ferguson said. "I'm not sure about anybody else, but I was just about to ask Miss Coln what she was doing here?"
The daughter of the Chief Science Officer said. "Well, Petty Officer, technically I was Acting Diplomatic Crewman for a while and it was thought I would benefit from some tutelage from the CoB." She replied.
Zirra noticed the CoB's looks at her, it wasn't the first time she been looked at that way, many had treated her worse. "Do you have a problem with my presence, Master Chief?" She asked.
Gregory did a quick study of the personnel present. He hadn't had a chance to properly read or skim over any data on those under him, so the best he could do was a association-by-rank. The first one that caught his attention was the Tellarite. He appeared to be a Petty Officer, and due to his uniform quite possibly specialized in the engineering department. He didn't appear to have full Tellarite features, however, and Gregory jumped to the assumption that a bit of human was mixed in there. The Petty Officer appeared to be situated to Gregory's right, nearest to him.
The next was the very attractive and very beautiful human female to his left, farthest in the seating line - though with the size and length of the meeting table, it wasn't that far. She clearly had the rank of Crewman, and appeared to specialize in much the same area as the Tellarite, but Gregory suspected it was more akin to his own specialization of logistics and stores rather than engineering. Seated just farther from her was the newest arrival, next to Gregory himself, the civilian teenager. Due to the Tellarite's inquiry, Gregory had successfully deduced she was here for tutelage rather than snooping around or "accidentally" stumbling here.
Lastly there was the female Gorn. She appeared to be the most senior Petty Officer present, being 2nd class, though if she outranked the Tellarite Gregory couldn't immediately deduce this as the Tellarite's uniform hid part of his pips. Her red uniform signaled her in the command/security departments, and Gregory assumed she had enlisted for security reasons rather than anything. He was very familiar with the Gorn makeup, and her complexion gave away her difference as an augmented. This, however, would clearly be a sensitive subject (as it was for many a Gorn he had previously met) and it would only be kept an observation.
Finally, after turning his head to gaze at everyone present, he began to reply in order. First to the Gorn, stating simply, "Your presence is a comfort, if anything, Petty Officer. I apologize if I may have offended you."
Turning towards the Tellarite, he replied, "And morning to you Petty Officer. An interesting question, one which-" he then turned his attention to Miss Coln "-I believe she has just answered. Welcome, Miss Coln, it's a pleasure to be able to share my wisdom with the younger generation. Please, feel free to make yourself comfortable."
"Now," he said as he leaned back, somehow never relinquishing his aura of authority, "If we are expecting no further arrivals, I'm very eager to begin this rather informal meeting. If anyone does come in, I'll make sure to catch them up before we proceed." He cleared his throat, "I'd like to begin our introductions in an orderly manner. I'll start with myself."
And, rather suddenly, he relaxed. The aura of authority seemed to have diminished, replaced with a more friendlier presence as he leaned back into his chair, and gave a healthy sigh. "As I've stated before, I'm the new Chief of the Boat. My rank is Master Chief Petty Officer, and my chosen profession is logistics and fleet logistics. Before Starfleet, I was hauling feed, food, and goods around the state of Iowa - where I was born. Being on a farm, I was very familiar with the ins and outs of how to management a business, and I took this experience with me when I enlisted. I've served on only one other starship, the USS Nautilus, and I've fought in the Dominion War. I've also taught for one year and ten months at Starfleet Academy under starship logistics and resource management. I'm an open book, so, if you have any questions about me or my past, feel free to ask."
He sat for a moment, giving off a smile. "And since we're doing introductions, let's finish those and save the questions for last. Now, I believe you're next Petty Officer," he concluded, motioning towards the Tellarite.
"Aye, the name's Ferguson, Petty Officer Third Class by rank, Structural Engineer by occupation. My story is one of great woe, but suffice to say I'm an orphan from a backwater planet, who was punished for not being human. My life was changed for the better when I met some 'fleeters and they taught me I could be useful and since I enlisted I've served on vessels as well as Starbases." Ferguson said. "Who's next?"
There was a tinge of guilt felt by Gregory. Humans being speciest was not unheard of - if Earths past was any indication of racist tendencies. However to hear of it in such a day and age, and especially upon personnel who would be serving under him, Gregory couldn't help but take the situation rather personally. As it appeared, Ferguson seemed to be at ease with it, or at least over whatever happened.
"Thank you Mr. Ferguson," Gregory said with a smile. He turned to the Gorn next, motioning towards her. "Would you like to share next, Petty Officer? You appear to be the most senior Petty Officer present, next to myself."
"Okay, I am Petty Officer Second Class Zirra Kajat and I am a Security Specialist. As far as I've been able to find out, I was part of a Klingon plan to make 'super soldiers'. It didn't go to plan and I was the only survivor of my 'batch'. Since enlisting I've worked on the USS Foxglove, and Starbase 12 where I worked cargo inspection, something I quite enjoyed." She said with what passed for a smile in Gorn.
Gregory noted the smile - it probably being more recognizable to him than most. He gave a genuine smile back, nodding to her. "I think we'll be working closely together, Specialist Kajat," Gregory said. "I, too, enjoy cataloging and scanning the cargo - comes with my specialization in logistics, I suppose - and I think if you wanted to I wouldn't see an issue with you helping me in the cargo holds. That is, if you want to."
It was a proposition of sorts. As funny as it sounded, he felt more comfortable around Zirra than anyone present - save the Tellarite, whom he felt for due to his past. It was this familiarity, and perhaps a recognition from a previous life that Gregory lived, that prompted him to make the offer. He gave her a final nod before looking forward and up, eyes resting on Angela.
"What about you, Crewman? Care to share?"
“Why not.” Angela said flashing a fake smile. "I'm Crewman Angelique MacKenzie of Operations, I'm current working in Stores, but I've been an Engineer too. My parents are both Starfleet officers, so there was no argument that I'd follow in their foot steps. Unfortunately for them, I failed the Starfleet Entrance Exam, so they had me enlist instead. I trained in Engineering and Operations and eventually reached the rank of Petty Officer Second Class. I enjoyed my work, that was until an officer I worked with tried to force himself on me. I fought back and found myself on the wrong end of a court martial. He'd reported the incident before I had time to do so and claimed that I attacked him because I was jealous of the woman he was dating. They believed him and I was found guilty and to add insult to injury I got busted down to Crewman, because the Captain wished to make an example of me."
A momentary silence lingered in the room as Gregory digested what he had heard. His hand, in mid gesture, lowered slowly. He blinked, stating, "That's a horrible state of affairs, Crewman."
Bringing both of his hands together and clasping them on the table, he leaned forward. His features changed from one of friendly demeanor to a serious, business-like stare. He slowly looked from Ferguson to Zirra, from Jena to Angela, where his gaze remained. He took in a slow breath, letting out a sigh as he released some pent-up anger that he wrongfully allowed to linger.
"I want to assure you of something," he said, first to Angela, then to the remainder by adding, "all of you." Clearing his throat, he looked down, features contorted in a slightly angry feature, suddenly disappearing as it returned to a more professional tone, eyes looking up. "If at any point you feel that any of your superior officers, that any officer on board this ship, has abandoned you or, worse, manipulated you, I can promise you now that I will fight them. I understand what it is like being the bast-" he halted the curse word, quickly glancing at Jena before replacing it with something more appropriate "-er...back-end of things. We're enlisted, for one reason or another, and we're considered expendable most of the time to those above us who don't understand, or refuse to understand, our value."
His tone hinted at some hidden anger as he continued. "But that does not give any one the right, regardless of rank or privilege, to use or abuse you - any of you or anyone - because they think they can sweep you under a rug after they're done with you. I'm not sure how things are run on the Portland, and I'm very willing to open my mind to new methods of management and logistical understanding, but I will not accept that you lose your right to individuality, to your own self, simply because of the profession you end up in, or choose. I'm not implying this is how I see it being run here on this wonderful vessel, with officers whom I have yet to fully meet, but already am coming to like. I'm not saying that this is how I see the Portland at present.
What I am saying, what I'm stating as fact, is that if at any time, anyone under my command or above it dispatches with another under my command in an unsatisfactory manner, I expect to hear about it so I can do something about it. I will not tolerate speciesism-" Gregory motioned toward the Telllarite "-nor shall I tolerate abuse of authority-" he motioned towards Angela "-while I am present on this ship. So if at any time, in any manner, or in any way any of you feel or know someone that does feel threatened or cornered, let me know. I will sort it out, hell or high water. Because to me, anyone whose gone through what I've gone through as background personnel is family. Officers can come and go, and they can all die in a horrible - God forbid - disaster. But so long as we're here, the ship can still run. If we go, the ship goes, no matter what the officers plan on doing."
He sighed, nodding towards each in the room, then looking at Angela, "and as for you, Crewman, if you'll give me permission I'll work on your behalf to get your rank back, or at least something recognizing your suffering. I cannot and will not tolerate a manipulation of authority, and the act of using a fellow Starfleet crewman as a scape-goat. Even if I cannot find or pin-point the ones responsible, I want to at least do something to make sure that whatever they did, it isn't permanent."
Gregory then looked at Jena. "With that out of the way, I believe you're up next," he said with a smile, relaxing again. "And, as you explain your story to us, I want you to tell me how I can help you. I'm sure that regardless of whatever I know, those present today can equally help with their experience too."
Jena looked at the other present before beginning. "I was born on Bajor and I believed my father was an Starfleet Security Officer named Peter Vaughn and I mourned him as such when he died. It wasn't until my mother's recent death that I discovered my true father was Lieutenant Jason Beauvoir, a man I had never met. It seems my mother and Jason dated and when my mother became pregnant she broke it off transferred to another vessel, never telling Jason he was a father. Jason and I still getting to know each other. I admit I've been acting out a bit since coming aboard. Lt. Commander Zade is a bad influence on me. My father and the Captain agreed that it would be best for me to learn a little discipline and self-control, so that perhaps in the future I'd refrain from helping the Second Officer to fill guest scientists' offices with multicoloured balloons."
From serious to whatever this was. To his credit, Gregory held a smile that prevented anyone from seeing his dumbfounded mind. There was a pattern emerging from this ship, one which was drastically different than the Nautilus.
"I see," Gregory said, nodding. "Well I can agree that you will find some discipline where I reside. So, with your purpose being here in mind, what are you good at? Are you good with counting freight, or perhaps fixing things? What area of the ship are you most comfortable?"
"I've always had an interest in Science, especially the life sciences. Perhaps it's genetic, both my parents were Science officers after all." Jena replied.
"Unfortunately I know diddley-squat about life sciences - and science in general - beyond what I went over in my general studies. That's not to say I'm inept in it, but I think either someone present, or another of our fellow crewman over in the science department could help. Unless you wanted me to, that is."
He smiled, "So with introductions out of the way, does anyone else have anything further to add? Expectations? Any questions for me?"
"Will there be refreshments?" Ferguson asked. "I haven't eaten since breakfast."
Zirra made the Gorn equivalent of rolling her eyes and sighing. "I believe the CoB meant something more conducive to our training, Petty Officer."
"Well we can't train on an empty stomach, or stomachs, in my case." Ferguson said.
Jena laughed. "Mr. Ferguson, do you mind if I look at your medical scans? I'm sure they'll be quite interesting."
"Of course, me Bonnie Las, I'd be honoured." The man said.
"Master Chief I believe it would be advantageous of us all to learn from each other." Angela said.
"Learn from each other?" Gregory repeated, in a questionable format. He stood, placing both hands on his hips and appraising everyone present. His gaze was accusing. "Why of all the shady ideas..."
He then smiled, chuckling. His deep and thick Midwestern accent finally coming through. "That sounds fantastic, Ms. Mackenzie. I kinda like Mr. Ferguson's idea of some grub."
He relaxed, motioning toward the exit as he began to depart, "Ms. Kajat, if you would kindly round everyone up, I'll meet all of you in the mess hall. I believe breakfast is in order."
He smiled, exiting as the sliding doors opened and closed for him. He was hungry!
"Aye, Master Chief." Zirra said. Then to the others. "You heard the Master Chief, squad move out."