Shoot, Move, and Communicate - Part IV
Episode 4: Whispers In the Dark
Location: Security Office
“Some of the races we may encounter do not place the same value on life as we do. For this reason, stiff resistance can many times be expected, but our tactics generally remain the same and we push on to neutralize the threat. What else?”
Finally, the Vulcan crewmember spoke up. “I believe that I speak for everyone when I say that we communicated well.” Jamie nearly cringed at the sound of the Vulcan’s monotone voice. He did not dislike Vulcans by any means, he just could never grasp the concept of intentionally suppressing one’s emotions.
“I would agree” Jamie replied to the team. “If we are too focused on what is going on in front of us, then we lose track of what is going on around us. We have to be able to communicate both verbally and non-verbally, more so non-verbally when under fire.” By now, Jamie was satisfied that his message was getting through to the team. Though Mallory continued to stand, arms folded across his chest and looking like a stone statue, his men were nodding in agreement. “So, that being said, what can we improve upon?” He surveyed the team, especially the team’s leader, expecting him to speak up first. Finally, the Vulcan spoke up again.
“Sir, the team’s tactical approach was not tactically sound” he explained, feeling a sharp glance from Mallory. “Our initial advance was not as a team and we allowed ourselves to be flanked from the rear…”
“Franklin programmed the simulation that way. That’s why it happened” Mallory said sharply staring back at Jamie.
“No, Ensign” Jamie began firmly. “It happened because you forgot the important step of locking down the deck. Not doing so opened each of your unprotected flanks. Unfortunately, that is what got the entire team killed.” He could see Mallory beginning to steam and new it was only a matter of time before he exploded. This was not something he wanted to happen in front of the team. He took a deep breath and sighed. Collecting his baring, he spoke the rest of the team, “With the exception of Ensign Mallory, you are dismissed. Report back to your posts.”
“Aye, Sir” the subordinate team members responded in unison. They must have each had an inkling of what is to come and did not hesitate in stepping off towards the exit to the holodeck. Jamie could see that Mallory’s mouth was bursting at the seams and new that as soon as his men have cleared the holodeck, the seams would burst. Jamie stared forward, making eye contact with Mallory as he heard the “hiss” of the holodeck doors opening then closing behind him. Mallory began to make a sound and Jamie quickly cut him off by raising his hand. Surprisingly, this worked and Mallory closed his mouth. Jamie slowly lowered his hand then turned to his side motioning Mallory passed him.
“Walk with me” Jamie said politely. Mallory hesitated then stepped forward and passed Jamie. Jamie smiled slightly as he followed behind. He did not intend to say a word until he made it to his desk at which time there would be plenty of witnesses in case of an outburst. On the other hand, hopefully such an atmosphere would encourage Mallory to act civilly and participate in a civil conversation. As he followed slightly behind and to the right, it appeared to Jamie that Mallory had taken a hint. The pair left the holodeck and both turned right, heading towards the main security office. As the pair passed pairs of other security officers and crewman along the way, Jamie smiled and nodded in greeting while Mallory simply stared forward and remained rigid. As the pair entered the security and tactical operations office, Jamie moved slightly ahead of Mallory, ensuring that they made it to his desk. Nearing the chief tactical officer’s office, he noticed that Thawn was not at her desk. No matter. He would not need her help with Mallory.
As the pair approached Jamie’s desk, he motioned towards the empty chair inviting Mallory to have a seat. Jamie pulled his chair from the desk and sat. Shifting his chair closer to the desk and leaning forward to ensure some degree of privacy, he looked at Mallory. He had half expected Mallory to open his mouth in defiance first.
“Look, Mallory” Jamie began. “I know this cannot be easy. You expected to be the next assistant…” he stopped as Mallory shifted into a defensive posture with his arms crossed over his chest. “Do you think this was my choice? Do you think that I wanted to come to the Nogura?” he asked, sitting back in his own chair. He noticed that he had raised his voice just enough to attract attention from nearby personnel. Ignoring the looks from fellow officers, he leaned forward again. “This is not a bitch session, Mallory. I just want to clear up whatever is going on between us so that we can better do our jobs.”
Mallory sighed and relaxed, lowering his arms to his side. Looking down at his feet he said, “I know you didn’t choose to be here. It’s really not you that angers me. It’s everything that we have been through over the past year.” He paused to look up at Jamie. “I lost a lot of friends during the conflict with the Consortium and I still have not dealt with it.” He looked back to the floor before continuing. “So, I thought that with everything that I had been through, I would have been named the next assistant.”
It all made sense to Jamie at this point. None of this was about him and his assignment aboard the Nogura against his will. Mallory was dealing with guilt, anger, rejection, and trauma; all things Jamie has little experience with personally. If anything, Mallory’s anger was directed at Thawn more so than anyone else, which Jamie did understand. He no longer felt any anger or content against the younger man. Instead, he felt sadness, compassion, and empathy.
“Have you talked to anyone about this? Like the counselor?” Jamie asked.
Mallory looked up at Jamie. “Not outside of standard psych evaluations. I’ve always told the counselor that I’m fine and would consider talking to her, but I never have,” he explained as his voice grew shaky. “You have no idea what it was like here before you showed up. I still have nightmares and wake up sweating almost nightly.”
“You’re right. I have no idea what it was like or what you are going through. The only thing I can say is that I don’t want to fight with you. We are both here by the choices of someone with more power than us. I simply want to work with you and make this department better than before. If that means talking to the counselor to help you resolve these issues, then it is something you will have to do.”
Mallory looked at Jamie wide eyed and surprised. “I can’t talk to her about this. People like me don’t talk about those things…”
“You mean people that have seen things most others do not? People that have taken lives and yet are responsible for saving lives?” Jamie asked rhetorically. “They certainly do, Mallory. Did you know that after the end of the war with the Dominion, Starfleet and the Federation had to reach out to other organizations to provide psychological services?”
“No,” Mallory simply replied.
“The need for mental health services skyrocketed after the dust settled because hundreds of thousands of Humans, Betazoids, Cardassians, and others were having nightmares and waking up sweating. They reached out, overloading Starfleet’s abilities to provide services, because they knew they needed help to remain functional.”
“You make a good point,” Mallory said. “Maybe I should reach out to the counselor.”
Jamie leaned back, preparing to carry on other work when Mallory left. “I’m not going to go as far as ordering you at this time, but I believe you would benefit greatly if you at least reached out to her.”
“I will,” Mallory replied. “And, I am sorry about my attitude back there.”
“Just take care of yourself and your team. That is all I ask. As for you and I, I suspect we will continue to work on this as time progresses. We will reevaluate your team at a later time.”
“Thank you,” Mallory said, all of his aggression, contention, and anger having melted away. Knowing that it was time for him to get back to work, he stood up from his chair and nodded at Jamie. Jamie returned the nod with his own and looked down at a PADD on his desk as Mallory made his way towards his own desk on the other side of the office.