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One Step Closer

Posted on Sun Apr 16th, 2017 @ 7:19am by 1st Lieutenant Skryt Mrazak & Sergeant Bella Zaltin
Edited on on Thu Apr 20th, 2017 @ 11:41pm

Mission: S1E5 - Unknown Territory
Location: Marine Barracks (Deck 25)
Timeline: MD 75; 09:00

Mrazak had been up all night. That was per usual for him, though, since he hated daylight, and preferred the dimmer lighting apportioned for third shift on the Vindex. What seemed a normal way of life to him as a Reman had made it difficult to fit in with most of Starfleet however.

Major Garlake was congenial enough, but Mrazak had seen him off this morning. His human mating ritual would see the major absent for approximately 3 weeks, which technically left Mrazak in charge. The chain of command was useful in the field, but when it came to day to day training and administration, Mrazak knew who held the real value.

That was why he waited patiently outside Bella's door until she presented herself for duty. As Garlake's first-shirt and right hand, she was much better briefed and therefore equipped to keep the detachment in top form while the major was away. It was possible she would see his uniform rather than the face of an enemy she'd been trained to mistrust. Mrazak expected an uphill battle to overcome prejudice, so he didn't hold his breath.

Bella wasn't having an easy go, hoping that the Turisian brandy in her now second cup of coffee was the key to the morning's lock. As her door opened, she immediately came to a halt in her threshold, an unfamiliar form darkening her door. And...quite a form it was. Standing a full head taller than the First Sergeant and carrying twice her weight, the Reman cut a severe and imposing figure while his face was one (she figured) only a mother could love; at least, the Marine thought as she curtly nodded to the Lieutenant, if Remans even had mothers.

"Marine." It was a pregnant word that held far more meaning than the simple two syllables, spoken with both command and reverence. "Walk with me." Bella slipped between the newly arrived officer and the bulkhead, beginning her walk down the corridor to the barracks, managing not to spill a drop in the process.

"I assume that you're the new MXO, yes?" she asked before taking a sip, the warm spiked coffee soothing her throat and soul.

"Correct," Mrazak replied in his gravelly voice. "First Lieutenant Skryt Mrazak. I already know who you are, and that is why I'm here."

His long strides easily kept pace with Bella, though he suspected she was attempting to make it difficult. That meant he shouldn't waste her time.

"Without the Major here, I find myself in the precarious position of leading a unit that is foreign to me in more ways than one." Mrazak hesitated before he continued, as he was loathe to forfeit the respect of command.

"I need your help." The words came out throaty in their reluctance. "Tell me how to earn the men's respect."

Bella stopped mid-stride, turned to the Marine First Lieutenant and met his gaze before taking a sip of her coffee, her eyes never leaving his.

"Lieutenant, your people ruled and were ruled by fear, yes? What do you know of respect? This is a legitimate question."

"My people never ruled anything," Mrazak shot back. "We were slaves and cannon fodder. I learned respect when I saw Starfleet soldiers lay down their lives of their own choice. Nobody forced them. That was when I left the Empire. The paperwork just didn't get filed until much later."

The First Shirt nodded slowly, another sip warming her throat as she had to remind herself that while the foreign MXO was a Marine officer, he did not have the same professional and education experience she expected of a standard Starfleet Marine. Regardless, his words were...familiar, admirable. Dare she say Marine-like?

"Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they made a difference in the world. But, the Marines don't have that problem...they have the cleanest bodies, the filthiest minds, the highest morale, and the lowest morals of any group of animals I have ever had the pleasure of leading and being led by. Respect from us is earned, Mrazak," she said, the standard decorum of last names dropped momentarily for effect. She paused, finishing her cup with a slurp before continuing. "I can help you, I personally know that the Major will move the galaxy for the 2/5, and the men will die for each other and for you, but you have to want it. Do you want it? Are you willing to become that thing that you fought, LT?"

Mrazak drilled his first shirt with a look of offense, but he held back as much of the acerbic backlash as he could.

"We fought the same power, Sergeant, just from different sides. If nothing else, my presence here should prove that."

"That it does, sir, that it does," she replied, full honorifics in place. "No time like the present then, right?" Nodding towards the door to her left, Bella led the way. "Shift change brief starts in three minutes. I'll make the introduction, though I'd wager nearly everyone knows about you already. Show your dedication to these men, this ship, and the Corp like you've shown me, and it will go farther than any words you can speak. Try to shoehorn yourself in and...well, I'm sure that the good Major would debrief you."

Mrazak nodded. "Very good. And then I will hand off to you, as I am ready to rack out." After a moment, he thought to add, "I keep nocturnal hours."

Bella nodded again and turned, causing the door to open. Stepping inside, she immediately halted, turned 90-degrees to the door and bellowed. "Room, ten-SHUN!" Twenty Marines instantly sprang to their feet with straight backs, shoulders up-back-and-down, chins pulled in and hands clasped in fists tight against their thighs. Zaltin made a note to work on their overall timing but was mostly impressed.

"As you were," Mrazak barked. Gone was his understated demeanor with Bella, replaced by the no-nonsense grit of a battle-hardened commander.

SSgt subtly nodded and began the brief. "Charlie and Alpha squad, good morning. Before we start I want to introduce you to our new XO, First Lieutenant Mrazak. Sir." Stepping aside, all forty eyes focused on the Reman with varying emotions playing behind each one.

Mrazak dismissed Bella with a nod.

"Let's get this out of the way," Mrazak said. "I expatriated from the Romulan Star Empire. I don't look like you, sound like you, or fight like you. I do it better." He bared his fangs in what passed as a grin. "When I was first sent to war, the only training I had was an arrogant Romulan tactical officer shoving a pulse rifle into my hands shortly before shoving me off onto a desolate moon to die. As you can see, I survived."

Mrazak began to pace, personally inspecting each Marine face to face.

"When the Jem'Hadar laid siege to the Star Empire, my Reman brothers were thrown into their keen, ruthless sights while the illustrious overlords bombarded them from a safe distance. Again, I survived."

He did an about face, and stared straight while walking ahead rather than continue inspection.

"When Shinzon overthrew the Senate, I fought to keep him in power. The Reman revolution started strong, until the Praetor went mad with power and nearly started a war with the Federation."

Mrazak looked each and every man and woman in the eye before he continued.

"I do not condone Praetor Shinzon's war crimes against the Federation, but I am proud of the revolution he led. We fought for freedom. We fought for our future. We fought for our lives." The look he cast one and all dared him for a challenger. "And we brought the Empire to heel."

With that, he continued pacing.

"Clearly I was on the 'wrong' side of that uprising, but our devastated military was in need of seasoned veterans such as myself. Reunification of the Empire was a bloody task where I saw loyal citizens cut down because they were not deemed as valuable."

Mrazak hacked an emotional cough. "Again, I survived." This time, the words were sorrowful.

"Finally, the restored Star Empire entered a time of peace, and I was given over to the 'former enemy' in a diplomatic officer exchange program like a piece of equipment on loan. I was devastated... that is, until I saw Starfleet for what it was."

Once more, Mrazak drilled a piercing stare at the men.

"The champions of freedom."

Mrazak could not help but nod at his own statement, then turned his back at the next part.

"When I was recalled back to Empire after the destruction of my homeworld, I refused. I had nothing to draw me back there because I found right here everything that I have ever fought and bled for. Some may call me a traitor and defector, but the facts are that I have resisted the Romulan hegemony all my life. I will give what's left of it for the Federation on any battlefront or theater of war waged in its defense, for I have lived most of my life deprived of the liberties for which it stands." He paused for effect, then concluded. "But I tell you this: I will survive. And if you would do me the honor of leading you, then so will you."

Mrazak's arm struck out in harsh salute.

"If the 2/5 has a motto, I would hear it now."

"Retreat, Hell!" came the call from several of the Marines, some louder than others. Corporal th'Rhone stood, the Andorian standing in solidarity with the Reman and invigorated by the MXO's speech.

"Sit down!" came the call from a couple Marines, to which the Andorian simply scowled and gave his form of the universal gesture. *Frakking humans* he thought, turning back to Mrazak.

"I can't hear you!" Mrazak growled.

"Retreat, Hell!" came the nearly unanimous call.

"Dismissed." Mrazak turned on his heel to leave before anyone else.

Bella nodded as she followed the Reman out of the barracks, letting the door close before addressing him.

"Pretty good, sir. Now, if you can back up your words with actions, I think that you'll find the men here the most loyal bunch of misfits in the SFMC." Mrazak and Garlake had different styles when they addressed the marines but she had to admit (though not outwardly, at least not yet) that the MXO had exceeded her expectations in his introduction.

"I want to thank you, Sergeant." Mrazak stopped as soon as they were out of sight of the main rec area. "I don't know how long I will be on this ship, but thanks to your help it may be less cumbersome than previous assignments."

The two Marines shared a look of comradery before parting ways in respectful silence, Bella just starting her day and Mrazak heading to his quarters for much needed sleep.


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