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Let the Games Begin

Posted on Tuesday 4 July 2017 @ 22:51 by Captain John "Apollo" Barstow, M.D.
Edited on on Tuesday 4 July 2017 @ 22:55

Mission: Deep Cover, Uncovering Corruption
Location: =/= Camp Falkirk =/=
Timeline: 239307.04

Captain John Barstow stepped off the shuttle dressed in his MCU (Marine Combat Uniform), with camouflage to match the snowy terrain and the insignia of a Colonel attached. He had been called away from the Merlin just as she had started her mission and ordered to stable first. Once he arrived he had found orders to dawn his MCU and board a shuttle to Falkirk as a visiting officer, passing through to meet with the General on the way to a new assignment. Barstow was curious, but, cloak and dagger was something he was used to and he knew a Marine Colonel stood out a lot less than a Starfleet Captain on a Marine base. As he walked into the welcoming area he returned the salutes to the guards crisply and walked up to the intake desk, "Colonel John Barstow, I'm here for a meeting with General MacTaryn," he said with a nod and smile as he set down the PADD containing his orders.

The Second Lieutenant manning the desk just beyond the shuttle bay looked up at the Colonel and blinked. “Right. The General…” he said, briefly consulting the orders. After review he handed them back to the Colonel and then pointed to his right. “Turbolift to Level One.” he explained, “If you have any weapons, turn them in here as the lift won’t open for any non-base personnel are armed.”

John nodded and set his bag down before pulling several bladed weapons and knives from his boots, belt, lapel, sleeves and an assortment of other places. After giving a nod to the Lieutenant, who now had a full basket of the bladed weapons, Barstow stepped into the lift and called for level one. After a a few minutes the doors opened and he was greeted by two guards. John smiled, it had been a while since he was on a Marine base and he was starting to realize how much he missed it, "Colonel John Barstow here to see the General," he said simply and handed over his orders. The Corporal nodded and both he and the Private motioned for Barstow to follow as they took up escort positions.

The two Corporal’s escorted him to the door to MacTaryn’s and pressed the chime. The door opened after an amplified voice grunted ‘Enter’ and the three of them entered the room to find a trio of officers gathered around the massive holotable that dominated the center of the room. The closest of the three, an elder man with a graying ring of hair surrounding a bald pate of tanned skin, turned to the man and drew the glasses off of his nose. He was in a Starfleet uniform, clashing magnificently with the tactical uniform their guest was wearing, not including the gold trim of his own uniform as was this case with all Flag Officers. Rear Admiral Zavareh Sepandiyar stepped to the side around the table so that the others could see. The second officer couldn’t have been more the opposite. Where the Admiral was elder and regal in appearance, she was tall, lithe and nearly radiantly effeminate, accentuated by the purple of her Diplomatic corps uniform. Commander Rea Jixx smiled brightly at the newcomer but herself glanced to the third officer who looked more like their guest than her or the Admiral.

Major General Iain MacTaryn was a presence all his own, as evidenced in appearance and by the aura he gave to the room. Here they were in the presence of two significant Flag Officers but one could tell immediately which of the two was holding court. MacTaryn looked at the newcomer warily as he entered under escort of the Corporal’s. With neither Sepandiyar or Jixx registering any recognition he stiffened up.

Barstow stepped into the room, his uniform clean and pressed as it should be, but it also had the air of not being new and having been worn and used, and immediately stiffened, going to attention and holding a crisp salute, well, shit, this can't be good he thought to himself, "Colonel John Barstow reporting for assignment as ordered," he said.

Rear Admiral Sepandiyar arched an eyebrow curiously as MacTaryn accepted the orders the Corporal held out. The curious expression on the Admiral’s face didn’t escape Iain and after reading through the brief orders he looked up to the old man with a quick shake of his head. “Something wrong?” he asked with a menacingly quiet voice.

“Colonel John Barstow is not someone I am aware of… however… one Captain John Barstow, of the USS Merlin is… I am wondering… if there is a connection, or if this is a coincidence.” he replied, looking first to MacTaryn and then to the Colonel. The Major General did the same.

John didn't let the salute drop, per marine SOP he could not until the flags returned it or put him at ease, “Sirs, I was Marine Captain Barstow before I was Starship Captain Barstow, technically my SFMC commission is still intact and I'm still under the recall clause. As for my current status, i'm just following the orders provided, which led me here.”

“Then you should be wearing Captain’s bars, not a Colonel’s eagle.” MacTaryn replied, “If you were so eager to wear our uniform, you should have stayed in it instead of defecting to Fleet.” He added, disdainfully releasing him from the salute. The Major General tossed the orders onto the holotable unceremoniously. “Falkirk is the home of an entire Task Force of Fleet Officers, the sight of one more won’t turn any heads. Best of luck on the walk out.” he pressed on, gesturing to the Rear Admiral and the Commander.

The short-haired woman, winced slightly at the Major General’s words but offered a shrug, “He makes a good point.” she nodded. “In truth, I didn’t recognize you. But the mission you’ve been asked here to discuss is something I’m working on with the Major General and Rear Admiral per Vice Admiral Isfahani’s orders.” She smiled, “It involves you more specifically than it does the Merlin…. and to be honest we need a Starfleet officer for this, not a Marine.” she smirked darkly, “If I needed a Marine, I’d have found more than enough capable candidates right here.” she added. With a slender arm, she gestured to the holotable and walked towards it, moving the PaDD with the orders that the General had tossed onto it. She moved it to the side and then looked past the ‘Colonel’ to the Corporal’s who’d been his honor guard. “If you two wouldn’t mind?” She asked, looking to the door. The two Marines nodded and left them the room.

Commander Jixx engaged the holoterminal and then adjusted the feed before the large glowing orb of a foreign planet popped onto the screen. “This is the planet Yaephura, on the edge of Federation space just outside the ‘blast zone’ from the Hobus Supernova.” she explained. “Before the Supernova, this planet was nothing more than your basic M-class planet, though one that did not have a native life form. Just another world. However, after Hobus and the resulting adjustment of planetary rotations has made Yaephura a…well let’s call it a popular destination for those looking to… turn a profit on Hobus’ destruction.”

“It has become a modern-day Tortuga.” Rear Admiral Sepandiyar chimed in, “The planet itself is technically in what is considered to be Romulan space, but with the power vacuum that has followed Hobus and their own scattered Fleet and issues, they have not been dealt with. Nor do the Roumlans truly have the means to. The Federation cannot be seen to intervene and trudge upon Romulan sovereignty and the Romulan’s have not truly accepted that what we are telling them about Yaephura is true.”

“Notwithstanding the Klingon’s issues. Simply said, this is a powder keg and the only way we’re going to get anywhere with it, Captain, is to get the one thing we don’t have much of.” Jixx smiled sweetly, “Detailed information… which is where you come in. Major General MacTaryn has authorized you for this mission - to make your way to Yaephura and place yourself under the command of whomever you need to in order to start gathering intel for the Fleet.” she explained, “There are three specific ships we have in mind for you to try and join the crew of, but if you need to work another angle before you can make that jump, I’ll leave that up to you.” Jixx shrugged.

Barstow nodded, “First, with all due respect to you desk jockey's, my orders specifically told me what I was to wear and what I was to say, maybe before criticizing you both should get past whatever issues have your heads up your assets that kept you from fully reading the orders. Second, *General*, I don't care how many stars you have, I earned my right to wear this uniform over my career with SFMC, and in it or out of it I am a Marine. If you feel I betrayed it, to darn bad, get over yourself," Apollo replied to both men, "Commander, what exactly am I looking for here?" he asked and stepped forward, leaning on the table.

“Can’t commit to a uniform. Calls Captain a ‘career’ - good luck with that argument of course on your way out. I’m sure the rest of my Marines will readily accept that as so. Commander, this isn’t your man. Too long on a padded leather Captain’s chair, and not enough in the field with the rest of us desk jockey’s.” MacTaryn harrumphed. “There’s plenty of Marine’s here better qualified, and more than one Fleet. Commander Zayne comes to mind immediately.” the Major General continued. “Can’t see fit to look past the ignorance of Starfleet orders, walks into a base full of Marines he should know better than most, and still can’t understand why my foot’s in his ass. You expect he can think well enough on his feet to pull this off?” MacTaryn shook his head.

“We all agreed Captain Barstow was the best choice for this.” Jixx countered with an exhausted sigh. She did not want to go back to square one with all of this and while Commander Zayne was the overwhelmingly best choice for this kind of mission, the elements expected on Yaephura would have a strong residual from the Dark Moon Syndicate which Zayne had made his career busting open. It would be throwing him into the Lion’s den without so much as a stick to defend himself. No, it had to be Barstow. If they delayed on this much longer they might lose their window to act.

“We don’t have the luxury of time to reconsider another officer.” Sepandiyar added, looking between MacTaryn and Barstow. He’d known MacTaryn half a lifetime and he knew how loyal he was to the Corps, far beyond that of most Marines. He also knew his disdain for the Starfleet half of his world; earned over a lifetime being burned by the organization that claimed to be on the same side. Zavareh had seen it himself. Sepandiyar was a Fleet Officer though, so he understood Barstow’s side as well, yet he couldn’t help but lean MacTaryn’s way. “Though I agree with you far more than you think I do.” He added to MacTaryn, now looking to Barstow. “Orders they may have been, Captain. But the difference between a good officer and a great officer is being able to read the orders that aren’t there. Someone at command missed a step, but you should have seen through that and came accordingly.”

“Then I can continue?” Jixx asked, looking to the two flag officers.

“With extreme reservation.” MacTaryn answered through gritted teeth.

"Then you two should have caught it as well since you would have seen the orders before I did. The difference between a flag who wears stars and a flag who is a leader is one who knows what orders they're subordinats get. And orders that aren't there? When it comes to Intel missions orders that tell you to blend in are as important as telling a Marine to shoot the enemy, not following an order to blend in gets operatives killed as fast as flag officers who don't know how to review orders sent out," John shot back, "I'll tell any Marine you bring up everything I've said and I will pit myself against every Marine on this base if that's what it takes, name a time," he added before turning back to Jinxx, "aye, Commander.”

“Mind your tongue, Captain. We did not issue your orders.” Sepandiyar replied cooly. Jixx for her part knew better than to push on, though immediately glad that this was not Admiral Isfahani’s office as the man’s cane would have already been firmly lodge up the Captain’s backside to the point that even Doctor Fox wouldn’t have been able to remove it without significant surgery.

“You want these stars, Captain?” MacTaryn replied hotly, taking a step towards him and jabbing a finger. “You want to the wear the responsibility of the dead on your shoulders? You want to be the widow-maker? Go on, take my stars.” he growled angrily. “Step up and lead this Division and this Corps. It’ll last what… a year, two years before you have yet another change of heart? How many jumps have you made, Captain? First Starfleet, then the Corps, then back to Starfleet, then the Corps once more now here you are Starfleet again claiming that you’ve ‘always been a Marine’. That you’ve ‘earned’ it. You don’t even know what you are. Fleet, Marine, Fighter Pilot, Doctor. You’ve got more changes of focus than my wife has shoes. You don’t have the chops to wear these stars, or those pips.” MacTaryn barked, gesturing sharply to Sepandiyar. “You don’t have the commitment. You don’t have the drive. You don’t have the fecking balls, Captain.” he said with emphatic jabs of his finger. “You’ll do this assignment because we’ve no one else to do it on such short notice. If you survive it, you and I will have a discussion on commitment, command and just what your place is, if any, in this Task Force.”

Offering a pleasant though wholly pained smile, Jixx pressed on. “Shall we… continue then?” she said as a olive branch and gentle nudge to Barstow to let her continue.

John had stepped up to MacTaryn and locked his eyes to the elder Marine, jaw clinched. Barstow had dealt with officers like him more than once, ones that decided because he bettered himself through schooling beause he didn't want to just be able to point and shoot he was a traitor and didn't have any place in Starfleet, Navy or Marine. They had even done as the General had and used the officer exchange program which hadn't recognized Marine rank, even though her kept an active Marine commission, against him. He held the stance for another few moments, face reddening, before turning completely around, putting his back completely to the man, "go ahead Commander," he growled, knowing this wouldn't go anywhere if he kept fight, let the jackass think he won, he thought.

Rea smiled sweetly at the turn of the conversation and paced back towards the holotable as she spoke, drawing Barstow’s attention to follow her and face the General and Admiral again. “The orders sound simple, but they are far more complicated in application.” Jixx explained, “We need intel on Yaephura, the elements at play there and the players.”

“The Federation cannot make any informed decisions on Yaephura or those working there, until we know more about it. The presence of a Starfleet vessel is enough to scatter all of the unsavory elements back into the darkness like so many cockroaches.” Sepandiyar followed crisply.

“There are no specific mission parameters.” Jixx further explained, “You find a way in and dig in like a tick. Suck every bit of information you can, however you can.” she smiled.

"Copy that," Barstow replied with a nod before turning to leave. As he got to the door he paused and took a breath before reaching into his pocket and pulling out a picture of a red headed six year old girl. Apollo turned and set it the table then slid it towards the General with two fingers, "if you're going to judge I want to be judged on the facts. I took a navel commission for her. I had to choose which I loved more, corps or her. And if corps mother, corps is father then I would hope the corps and my brothers and sisters in it would be proud I left and took a billet that allows me to be a constant part of her life again and be a part of raising her. Sir," the officer finished and snapped off a last crisp salute before taking a step back, turning on his heal and exiting the room, leaving the photo on the table.

MacTaryn shook his head and watched him leave, “When this mission is over, Zavareh, I want that one the hell out of my Task Force.” he growled, “His insolence, and his justification for his indecision concern me greatly. He didn’t leave the Corps for this child.” he said, flicking the photo across the table. Jixx caught it before it fell off and picked it up gently. “He has no idea who he is or what he wants. My wife and I raised five children - he’s blaming this child for his own ineptitude. I won’t have it in my command. He finishes this task, and then he leaves - if he survives at all.”

Admiral Sepandiyar simply nodded in reply, not disagreeing with MacTaryn, but not wholly agreeing either. They all had their own reasons for doing what they did in their careers. Starfleet was more of a catch all for those finding their way, while the Corps was a more rigidly formed entity whose personnel followed the same path. “Once this is done, I will take care of that.”

Jixx just gave a pleasant smile, caught between two extremes of command, and shrugged. “If there’s nothing else, gentlemen, I should be on my way."

Iain MacTaryn
Commanding General
Camp Falkirk
Task Force 47


Captain John "Apollo" Barstow
Commanding Officer
USS Merlin
TAD Starfleet Intelligence


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