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Post 23 - Fall Out

Posted on Fri Feb 19th, 2021 @ 6:49pm by Captain Jocelyn Blake & Fleet Admiral Sturnack & Commander Marlena Glenn

Mission: Episode 1: Acta Non Verba
Location: Press Briefing Room | Sturnack's Office
Timeline: Day 16 - 1430 Hours

[Press Briefing Room]
[Starfleet Command]
[Day 16 - 1430 Hours]

The walk from her office to the Press Briefing room had grown extremely familiar in the few days since Jocelyn Blake had taken up the roll of Press Secretary for Starfleet Command. As Jocelyn walked the route she wondered to herself that the steps she took and those of Press Secretaries before her had not worn a groove into the floor along the route. So many had walked this way.

As Jocelyn made her way to the 2:30 briefing she wondered if her predecessors had felt the weightiness of the updates they were bringing forth to the world--the import and influence that only those few words might have on far-flung worlds and the civilizations that called them home.

The pre-warp civilization of Chalvana I weighed mostly heavily on her mind today. The news from that morning's update to the division heads had been alarming at best and terrifying at worst. Although steps had already been taken to intervene on behalf of that people group they had decided that a press update wouldn't be made until Interstellar Aid determined if anyone could be saved from the dying civilization. They didn't expect an update on that front until at least that evening, so Jocelyn plastered on her most business-as-usual face, pushing her glasses up her nose and then stepped into the briefing room.

The press pool settled quickly as she stepped to the podium and began her update.

"Good afternoon," she began. "Final preparations are underway for the opening ceremony of the Romulan Embassy which has been moved forward a day to accommodate the inclusion of Praetrix Donatra. As a reminder all of the necessary steps have been taken to ensure the schedule change does not impact your access to the event. We anticipate a number of dignitaries will be in attendance including the Federation Vice President and representatives from Qo'Nos, Vulcan, and Andor among numerous others. A full list of dignitaries expected to attend the opening has been provided in this afternoon's press packet."

Jocelyn paused briefly to bring up her next set of notes on the PADD settled on the podium in front of her.

"The vessels deployed by Interstellar Aid to provide support to are expected to arrive in the Chalvana system within the next hour and will connect with local government on Chalvana III and the USS Martin Luther who is already in site to coordinate support efforts. For those amongst your readers who wish to know IA has deployed the USS Hope, the USS Mercy, and the USS Peace."

She paused again before continuing through the rest of her updates. Bringing them to a close she surveyed the room, steeling herself.

"We'll do 15 minutes of questions."

[CinC's Office]
[Several minutes later]

"Holy hell," Marlena swore under her breath. "She is not the story. What the hell is driving this?!" the woman growled, tempted to throw her water bottle at the viewscreen in frustration -- not knowing the CinC had just done the same some hours prior. She didn't know Blake very well yet but she liked the Captain and hated seeing her go through the torture the press pool was enacting on her.

"Unknown," Sturnack replied, eyes fixed on the broadcast playing out in front of them.

Blake looked as if she were beginning to unravel somewhat at the edges. Understandable given that the press' questions should have been around one civilization on the brink of being forever wiped out, another irrevocably affected by radiation, and the Romulan Embassy moving up its opening. Instead, members of the press like T'lon Tressa from the Bolus News Consortium and Ehven Khron of the Andorian News Service were raking her across the coals about -- once again -- the perception of preferential treatment and/or promotion-by-blackmail they'd been railing on for almost a week now. From the moment Blake's hiring had been announced, the sharks had begun to feed and nothing seemed to sate their hunger.

"There is something that needs my attention, Marlena. Please continue to monitor the press conference," the Commander-in-Chief ordered, rising to his feet. "As always, your...'post-game analysis'," he used the term she was so found of, "will be highly valuable. Hold any communications for me, please."

"Understood," the woman nodded back, not taking her eyes of the screen even as her fingers keyed notes into the PADD in front of her. She was aware, however, of the Vulcan and the two attending members of his security detail leaving the room. As Blake called on another reporter onscreen, Marlena's ire suddenly exploded over his question.

"Captain Blake, recent reports have you and Fleet Admiral Sturnack enjoying a coffee together very early yesterday morning at the Horseshoe Café. Is this more evidence that, for whatever reason, the CinC of Starfleet regards you on a higher personal level than Admiral Janney, thus prompting your hiring?"

Blake adjusted her glasses on screen, fire blossoming behind her eyes. But just as she was about to answer, Marlena noticed that the Press Briefing Room had gone suddenly silent. Her jaw fell as Sturnack entered the room and ascended the steps to the podium, his detail members taking either side of the stage.

[Press Briefing Room]
[Moments Later]

"Captain, if you would, please?" Sturnack asked, gesturing to the podium. Clearly, he intended to speak from behind it. The sound and sights of rapid firing flash photography -- courtesy of digital imagers -- punctuated the silence that had fallen over the room.

Jocelyn gaped as Sturnack entered the press briefing room. She had heard Frank's urgently whispered warnings that an active briefing was underway and the low response from Sturnack that had silenced him. None of that registered before the Vulcan CinC had stepped up to the podium indicating his intention to speak. Working rapidly to force the surprise from her face she turned to the silent room.

"We will pause our question period for comments from Fleet Admiral Sturnack," she stated calmly as though the highest ranking officer in Starfleet breaking into an active press briefing was standard practice.

"Admiral..." She said quietly indicating that the podium was his. Quietly she stepped to the side of the platform falling into the at-ease position with hands clasped behind her back and feet shoulder width apart.

With a nod, the Commander-in-Chief took the place Blake had vacated. "There have been repeated allegations," he intoned with an arched eyebrow, "that Captain Blake's hiring for the Press Secretary position stem from a deep, personal relationship or, alternatively," the Vulcan surveyed the room with impassive eyes, "that she somehow forced her rise due to possessing damaging information of some kind. I will now make a statement to clarify the situation and resolve such questions in hopes that, afterward, your priorities might shift to the more vital matters at hand."

"As is known, Admiral Leyton attempted to wrest control of Earth from President Jaresh Enyo some years back. During the height of the Dominion War, he was concerned," Sturnack explained, "that paradise would be lost if Starfleet and Federation leadership did not flood the streets with armed officers keeping constant watch. While there was an understandable component to his point of view, his actions violated several Federation laws. And for most Starfleet officers -- regardless of rank," he clarified, "would have been court-martialed for the actions Admiral Leyton took, the matter was swept under the rug by Fleet Admiral McGarry's predecessor, Fleet Admiral Volkath. Instead of facing criminal charges, Admiral Leyton was allowed to quietly retire and, as I understand, is now living out his years in the paradise he so desperately fought to protect. Which, incidentally," Sturnack commented, "did not fall despite the lack of armed officers on every street corner."

"At the time, I spoke up against the decision not to charge Admiral Leyton with treason and sedition. Like Captain Blake, who also suffered for speaking up," the Fleet Admiral continued impassively, "I was quietly reassigned into obscurity until Fleet Admiral McGarry became the Commander-in-Chief following Fleet Admiral Volkath's retirement. Just as I was returned to grace after the Dominion War ended, I decided that Captain Blake was deserving of such an opportunity to prove herself as well. And she has," he nodded, "over and over again throughout her first week of employ as Press Secretary. You have harangued and brow-beaten her many times for something completely beyond her control and knowledge-level. Such actions have, regrettably, steered focus away from the millions of people deserving of your attention and consideration in the Chalvana system. As such," his posture became completely rigid, "you may now direct all further inquiries about the Captain's employ to my office for comment. Commander Glenn -- my aide-de-camp -- will ensure that all such questions receive considered response."

"This concludes my statement," the Fleet Admiral nodded with finality. "Captain, the podium is yours once again. Thank you for your time everyone," he inclined his head towards the press pool before stepping down from the dais and exiting the room, security detail once again trailing in his wake.

The press briefing room was so quiet you could hear a pin drop. Even the flash blubs had stilled as no one seemed eager to take a photograph of the retreating CinC after being so sternly put in their place.

Jocelyn could hear her footsteps on the lightly carpeted platform as she returned to the podium, head swimming as she worked to process what she had just learned. Like the press much of Sturnack's explanation had been news to her. She desperately wished that she was not in front of a room full of people whom she needed to address so she could take a few moments to privately consider the Vulcan's words. Unfortunately that was not a luxury she had.

"We'll resume our question period with 5 minutes remaining," she stated simply, looking out on the room expectantly.

No one raised their hand.

=/\= A mission post by =/\=

FAdm Sturnack
Starfleet Command

Captain Jocelyn Blake
Press Secretary
Starfleet Command

Commander Marlena Gleen (Brad's NPC)
Aid-de-Camp to the CinC
Starfleet Command


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