USS VINDEX - NCC-2474-A
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Ready to leave

Posted on Sat Sep 9th, 2017 @ 12:10am by Captain Claudia Ainscow & Lieutenant Mark Whistler

Mission: S2E1 - Secrets
Location: Main Shuttlebay
Timeline: Mission Day 102; 11:00

Mark entered the shuttle bay, and made his way to the shuttle he had come aboard on. The job was done, and the cyborgs were dealt with. It hadn't been a difficult battle, and whilst the XO wanted to see him in the Brig, Mark had another assignment to take care of. After all, he did work better as a roving agent. Hell, the only reason he'd lasted so long on one ship before was because he went on missions often, which took him away from the ship. He had seen it more as a port than an assignment. As he reached the shuttle, he opened the hatch and threw his bag inside, not bothering to look back.

That wasn't something he really did.

Claudia entered the shuttlebay and looked around for Mark. She was aware he was due to leave now his assignment had been completed - but somehow she didn't want to let him go. Despite the issues with Kazyah and Akiva she felt that Mark was good at his job and wanted to offer him the job permanently.

Walking up to Mark's shuttle she climbed in behind him.

"Do you have a minute?" Claudia asked.

"Yeah, sure. Need to run a few checks before I leave anyway." Mark said, as he ran the automatic pre flight checks. "If this is about the issue with the XO, I'm afraid I'll have to disappoint him. I don't normally stick around long enough to be brigged."

Claudia sat down in the nearest chair to avoid standing any longer than she had do. Her back pain wasn't severe or constant at the moment but she knew that would become the case in the near future as her pregnancy progressed.

"Well...I spoke to an Admiral about all that and he made it clear that JAG doesn't have time to sort out petty squabbles - so nothing is going to come of that. However with that aside I think you do a good job and Lieutenant Delameilleure happens to agree. I'd like you to consider taking over the role permanently" Claudia responded.

Mark snorted. "I'm gonna guess you haven't spoke to your XO about that idea." He said. "I'm not exactly officer material now, am I? Why would you want me?" He asked, frowning as he looked at her.

Claudia sighed. "I just said why I wanted you on this ship Lieutenant. But...if you're going to snort at me...then good luck trying to find another ship that does. There aren't many left and it's not every day you get offered a permanent senior role on a Sovereign-class starship is it?"

"No, you said I'd do a good job. Didn't say why, although I know my record tends to speak for itself...if you ignore the various comments on it." He said. He sat down and looked at her. "Assuming a permanent senior role was something I'd consider, and you're the first in a while to offer it, why would you want to piss off your crew? Your XO isn't gonna be happy, and your Intel Chief...well, less said about that the better. But being a senior officer...why wouldn't you want someone more like an officer? I know I'm not exactly officer material." He said, looking at her curiously. "And is this genuine, or just your pregnancy hormones out of whack? I've seen that happen before."

"So now you're either scanning me or accessing my medical records without permission which is something I can throw you in the brig for because you don't have a right to do that. I am perfectly capable of commanding this ship so you saying I am hormonal is total crap because I am perfectly in control of them" Claudia began.

Pausing to gather her thoughts she continued.

Claudia concluded. "All you would have to do is stick your head down and keep your nose out of my business and do as I or the XO tells you. If you do that then there won't be any issues"

Mark raised an eyebrow, slightly impressed. She was still making the pitch...most people would have stopped. He had to admit, it was a tempting thought. "If I do this, I'd like my sister to join me aboard. Most of what I do is for her. And I don't do well with saluting or being at attention. I'm also...well, I do things a little differently from most Security Officers."

"Oh there's no like about it. She keeps you in line and I'm not having any more crap like that display of yours on the bridge - so she's going to stay here and make sure you toe the line. I might give people second chances but I will not tolerate poorly behaved officers - any more of that and you're off my ship" Claudia replied.

Mark allowed a small smirk. "Done your reading, I see. I do tend to keep things a little calmer with Carrie around...she grew up on Turalek with me, but she's never had to do anything I did. I made sure of it." Mark said. "My kill count is high because I protected her. Believe me when I say there isn't anything I won't do for her. I'll square off with you on one thing; every man has to live by a code. Mine is family. I'll kill to protect mine, and I don't care who it is. People say I'm cold; believe me, I am. But I protect those within my family." He said, allowing something of himself to be revealed.

Claudia nodded slowly. "I always read up on prospective crewmembers Lieutenant and I know exactly what makes you tick and what keeps you in line. Your sister can be transported to Starbase Unity and we can wait for her to arrive - it shouldn't be too long from your homeworld. If you want to accept the role then let me know sooner rather than later so we do all the necessary paperwork - you know how it is"

Mark immediately looked at her. "Our homeworld? As far as I'm concerned, we don't have a homeworld. We escaped from hell eight years ago - and there's no way she'd be there." He said.

"Well that's where she was picked up from according to Starfleet records. I know nothing about it so you will have to ask her when you meet her. We get to Starbase Unity tomorrow afternoon or evening - so she will be there before us" Claudia replied.

If she had thought she had seen him angry before, it was like a fire had lit in his eyes, a rage and anger that he rarely showed, also a coldness that chilled most people. "How fast are we going?" Mark asked.

Claudia responded. "We're currently at Warp 6 give or take a couple of decimal places. Our engines took a bit of damage so that's as fast as we can go - but Lieutenant Atkinson believes we can have it repaired by the time we get there"

Mark nodded, before letting out a roar of anger, punching his fist through one of the chairs angrily. He stood and turned away from the Captain; he didn't think it would be a good idea for her to see his face, not when he was ready to kill someone.

The Vindex's Captain was not impressed by what she saw. Claudia knew Mark's history but she felt his reaction - punching the chair of a shuttle - was a bit extreme.

"I know your history - but I suggest you calm down before I take my offer off the table and send you away" Claudia snapped.

"With all due respect, Captain, you don't know my history. You know what's in the records. You don't know the true history." Mark replied, a low growl in his voice.

"What's in my file barely scratches the surface. I was born in hell, Captain, and so was my sister. I was five years old when I first took a life. I had to protect my sister, that was the only thing I had in my mind." He said.

"Imagine, Captain, being afraid to go to sleep, not sure if you would wake up. Imagine waking up, afraid of what might happen that day. On any day, you could be fighting another tribe, or worse. There were wild beasts on Turalek, the likes of which you have never seen. Cannibal cyborgs, who eat you alive. You want help there? You don't get it. No one cares for another. Most tribes last for a week, maybe two at the most. Mine was one of the rare ones that survived. My adoptive father had a code, and he taught me that code. But it didn't spare him. He was killed when I was a child, and I had to lead children out to live, or to die." He explained.

"I don't remember a day when I didn't have to kill someone. I wish I was exaggerating, but I'm not. We were children, trying to survive in a world where people were killed for just being alive. I sacrificed everything to keep her safe and to get her off that world. I sacrificed my own soul to keep her safe, and she's gone back there?"

"Starfleet thinks things can be nice and civilised. But most officers know nothing of the real universe. I do." He said, finally opening up and letting someone know what he felt.

Claudia sat and listened quietly. It brought back memories of when she was held hostage on that damned planet. It took her a week from when she was captured to getting back to the safety of the Endurance. A week of hell that she would never forget - a week she thought she would never live long enough to see out.

"You and your sister will be safe here and I can assure there is a very slim chance of us ever going there considering what area of space we are assigned to. Contrary to what you might think right now given past events...nobody can or wants to hurt either of you here. Prove all the doubters wrong and show them just how good you are at your job - and do it here. I want a Chief of Security who will defend this ship without hesitation. I know you can and will do that" Claudia replied.

"You just said it yourself, she was picked up from there. After everything I did for her, why the hell did she go back?" He asked, shaking his head. He looked at Claudia. "You want me here? Fine, you got me here. You want a Security Chief who will defend this ship without hesitation? Believe me, I'd die before letting anyone take this ship. I will fight for this ship and crew. But I want your word, here and now, that if anything happens to me, you keep her safe and away from Turalek. You keep her safe from everything, because she is one of the few in the universe who is a true innocent. I've protected her, and if I die, I need her protected. That's my price for service." He said. "That's always been my price, wherever I've been."

Claudia shrugged. "I don't know why she was there but I can assure you we won't be going there - and nobody from Turalek will be coming here to try and hurt either you. But if anything happens to you I assure you I will do anything I can to keep your sister safe - that is a promise"

Claudia turned in her chair to get comfortable and continued.

"I have a half sister myself but I don't really see much of her. I wish I had a better relationship with her but that probably won't happen. I don't know who my real father is so theoretically I could have more siblings but I don't know...and I'm not sure I want to. However if I can offer you and your sister a safe place to be on this ship...then at least I've helped someone else's sister. I want everyone on this ship to feel safe and that will never change as long as I am in command of it" Claudia concluded.

Mark nodded. "There's nothing more important than family." Mark said, looking at her. "You should find out if you do. If not, you'll be spending the rest of your life living with regret. Never give up on family, even if they give up on you." Mark told her. "That's something I've always believed. My family...my parents had two sons before I was born, and they thought we were all dead. When they met me, one of them hated me because I wasn't the perfect paragon of Starfleet, like they expected, and Carrie turned down his offer to join Starfleet and serve with him. But he's still my brother, and I try and watch out for him when I can, because that's what family is." He said softly.

"My family is above anything else in my life. I found out not so long ago that the man I called my father for 36 years of my life...isn't. How did I find out? A doctor asked me something about being part El-Aurian - yet no other doctor has asked me before. I'm not sure whether every doctor who has examined me just assumed I already knew or chose not to comment on it - but at least I know the truth now" Claudia said.

She paused for a moment and continued. Perhaps Claudia and Mark had more things in common than she first anticipated.

Claudia sighed. "I've been putting off asking Dr Sjet if I can take a look in the medical database to see if there are any answers in there. I might not live as long as full El-Aurians do - but I guess the longer I wait then the less time I have to spend with my father's family. That's if there he has a family of his own...and if they want to know me"

"They're your family. You won't have peace until you know." Mark said. He looked at the small bag which held the few items he held dear; his daggers, a picture of him and Carrie after they escaped from Turalek, and a few items of clothing. "Only you can do this, but you won't find peace until you do. And trust me when I say you should never question the value of inner peace. It's something I'll never have. I fight so people have a better world to live in, but it's not one I'll ever live in. I'm a monster, and I have no illusion about that. But my sister...she's the best part of me, the one thing in this universe I can be proud of. Give your family that chance." He said.

Claudia nodded. It was something she had been struggling to work out for a long time but now after her conversation with Mark she decided that she would go up to sickbay and get some answers once and for all. She was already thinking about who her father could be and what he did for a job. She wondered if she was his only child.

"I've tried to find reasons to not try and find out - but I guess what you've said has given me a lot to think about. I didn't want to find out because I was scared of being rejected by my real father - but I guess if I make the effort then I can't say I didn't try. I'm sure your sister is very proud of you though and I'm looking forward to meeting her. I'm sure we can find something for her to do once she gets here" Claudia responded.

"Oh, there's going to be a conversation when she arrives, that's for sure." Mark said. "I want to know why she went back to that hellhole. Last I heard, Starfleet had stopped the Breen from using the people, but they still won't interfere with the people, because of the bloody prime directive."

Claudia smiled. "Well if you want someone to be there when you have that conversation with your sister I am happy to do so. I'm sure you'll get the answers you're looking for - but you have to promise me you won't go and do anything you can't take back. I need you here and so does your sister"

"Trust me, that's not a conversation you want to be around for." Mark said. There was something about this woman that gave him...a reason to stay. She was young, in terms of Captains, but she was different. She knew his past, and she didn't judge him. Hell, she wanted him because of it. That was something he knew wouldn't happen again, and part of him wanted to hear the shitstorm that would happen at Starfleet Command when his brother found out.

Mark drew his dagger and made a cut on his hand. "I shed my blood as my oath to protect this vessel, and this crew." Mark said. He held his hand out of the hatch, allowing several drops of his blood to hit the deck. "I share my blood with this vessel, with this crew, as proof of my oath, that I will do everything within my power, including laying down my life, to protect this ship and her people." He swore. It was an oath from Turalek, something his surrogate father had drilled him in, showing his loyalty and his dedication.

Claudia didn't really know what to say although she assumed that Mark knew what he was doing.

"Your commitment is noted Lieutenant. Shall we go and sort all the paperwork out and assign you some more permanent quarters? I don't think guest quarters are anywhere near suitable now that you're a permanent member of this crew" Claudia responded.

"Long as it has a desk and a bed, doesn't matter about the size. I've never understood the whole wanting luxury, but then, I wasn't raised in comfort. Hell, the quarters on this ship are bigger than that entire home on Turalek." He said. He sighed, and looked at the CO. "Lieutenant Emilie, I'd like her to remain as my assistant and...I think you use the term liason. I'm not the best at adhering to rules, so it'll help having someone to guide me."

Claudia stood up from her seat in preparation to depart the shuttle and go up to her ready room. It was one of the more interesting encounters she'd had on the Vindex but it had a positive outcome all round. Mark had agreed to stay and Claudia had decided to get some answers about her father and if he had any family of his own.

"It'll be on Deck 5 but you'll have a decent amount of space to work with. As for Miss Delameilleure she is currently on loan from Starfleet Tactical so keeping her here might be a bit more difficult - but I will ask her and see what she says" Claudia said.

"If you have problems, speak to Admiral Ken Graham. He was the one who pushed for me to join Starfleet, tell him I asked for her." Mark said. "I'll speak to her if you prefer."

Claudia nodded. "I've heard of Admiral Graham - in fact he was aboard my last ship after we took him to and from a conference a few years ago. A nice man by all accounts so hopefully he can put in a good word for us - providing Emilie wishes to stay of course"

Mark nodded. "He seems to care about Carrie and me - one of the few. I'll speak to Emilie. In the meantime, I've got some changes to make, including making the security section secure from everyone except security, yourself and the XO, unless they have my authorisation." Mark said. "With your permission, of course." He added. Claudia had definitely earned some respect today, more than most others had.

"That helps. I don't really have that many people up at that level I could say I can rely on except for Commodore Hutchinson. I haven't met Vice Admiral Archer yet but I'm sure I'll get on well enough with her. As for making changes the department is now yours - just let me know what you want to do and I'll get back to you" Claudia replied.

"Checkpoints at the entrance to the security deck area, armed guards, internal defences. It won't do to have anyone just pop up in a secured area. I'd also like to have an interrogation room modified, I have ways of interrogating people. It's a little...unusual, but it works, and doesn't actually break any laws." Mark said. He then explained how he had used a holodeck to get a criminal to confess by making him think Mark had killed his friends. "You should have seen his face." Mark said, smirking.

Claudia chuckled. "If you can get that all down in writing with some details I'll review it. If you can speak to Emilie in the mean time I'm sure she'll be flattered with your confidence in her abilities. In fact her current superior used to be our Chief Tactical Officer"

"Which part, the modifications or the interrogation? I have a recording of the interrogation." Mark replied. "If you want the modifications in writing, I'll have them to you in a couple of hours. I need to let people know they're not rid of me."

"All of it please Lieutenant. Do what you need to do but the sooner you get it to me then the sooner the XO and I can read over it. If you can't find me you can either pass it to my Yeoman or leave it in my ready room" Claudia replied.

"Yes ma'am." Mark replied. He grabbed his bag, and looked at Claudia once more. "For what it's worth, I appreciate the offer, and what you've done." He said.

Claudia nodded and offered her hand out to the man.

Claudia smiled. "You're welcome. And I'd like to thank you for opening my eyes this morning too. If you hadn't have told me I need to at least try to find answers then I would be thinking about it the next ten years. I'm glad we've managed to do each other a favour"

"I just told you what's what, you're the one who decided what to do with it. And before you say anything, I don't think I'd make a good counselor." Mark replied, as he exited the shuttle with her.

 

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