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Post 7 - The Real Debrief

Posted on Tue Dec 29th, 2020 @ 4:45am by Captain Jocelyn Blake & Commander Marlena Glenn

Mission: Episode 1: Acta Non Verba
Location: Outside of Starfleet Headquarters
Timeline: Day 12 - 0500 Hours

[Outside of the main entrance to Starfleet Headquarters]
[San Fransico, CA]
[Day 12 - 0500 Hours]

0500 hours was early.

Early and dark. Sunrise was still two hours away and the newly minted Press Secretary stood outside of the main Starfleet Headquarters entrance. Her arms were wrapped around her torso as if she could hold her jumble of nerves, emotions, uncertainty, and excitement in by sheer will alone.

She didn't mind that it was dark. The early hour was still, giving her time to pause and breathe before what would certainly be an intensive day. Lamp light shone along the path to the main entrance lighting her steps as she made her way to the entrance. She had gotten up extra early to make sure her uniform was just right, boots polished yet again, and new pips fixed firmly to her collar. Her hair was up in a bun again, but only loosely--still within regulations, but not nearly so severe as the day prior. Her glasses were command crimson, matched perfectly to her new uniform. Absently she ran her hands over the red at the end of her sleeves, rubbing the seam where the crimson fabric met black.

The rest of the day following her interview had felt like a whirlwind. She, woefully, hadn't had time to head to the Horseshoe after her interview. Instead she had taken the brisk walk down the campus to the R&D building, pausing at a replicator to get a less than well prepared cup on her way in. She had wondered, as she headed to her desk, if anyone had told Admiral Green, yet. Had he known all along and said nothing? Or was he in the dark? Would he be upset if she began packing up her desk? How should she break the news? One day to hand over the reigns to her second in command at R&D suddenly seemed like an infintesimally small amount of time.

Everything had simply happened so quickly. Had it really only been two days ago that she was telling Jordan that such a thought was ridiculous? That she hadn't even seen a path out of R&D for the foreseeable future and was reconciling herself to settle in for an even longer run than she would have ever planned? And yet her she was walking into her last day at R&D, her new pips tucked safely in her pocket.

As it turned out Admiral Green had already been briefed--before she even set foot in her interview it seemed. He, and her team, were a wash of smiles and congratulations when she entered their wing of the building. On her desk was an extremely sweet note of recommendation and congratulations from the Admiral's own hand; written out on old fashioned card stock.

By lunch she had been summoned away from R&D. Her deputy promised her things would be moved on to Headquarters and her new desk, wherever that might be, before she arrived there in the morning as she was hurried to appointments that seemed to have appeared from nowhere on her calendar The afternoon was taken up by a human resources aide in Operations -- going over paperwork, consent forms, security clearances, and background checks deeper than she could have ever imagined they might go. When, after the blur of paperwork, she had finally returned home to her quiet apartment all she wanted was to fall into her bed and sleep. She stepped in the door, velvet boxed clutched in her palm, to find a clothing box containing two command red uniforms tailored exactly to her measurements. A note from Commander Glenn sat on top reading only "See you tomorrow!"

Reality had come crashing down then and the ups and downs of the day caught up with her. Unsure if she should laugh or cry she had sat down on her couch dissolved into emotional tears. Emotions finally spent she ate dinner, went about her usual routine, and set a very very early alarm.

”Glenn to Blake,” a tinny voice cut through the darkness, originating from Jocelyn’s combadge. ”I’m standing outside the coffee shop but I don’t see you. Any chance you’re sleeping in?” There was some mirth in the woman’s tone, as if she suspected Blake had misunderstood the plan but didn’t want to call her out directly. ”Seems like a nice place from the outside looking in. I think I just figured out where Admiral Roland’s aide has been getting his coffee: I recognize the cups people are walking out with. Hope I don’t have to explore this place alone...”

"Shit." Jocelyn swore, before tapping the badge on her chest.

"Blake here Commander. Got the wrong entrance. Sit tight. I'll see you in 10."

She tapped her badge again, closing the channel

"Shiiittt..." She cursed again and, not bothering to think about the glances she was about to get, broke into a jog.

[Horseshoe Cafe]
[Up the mountainside from SFC Headquarters]
[0510 Hours]

If there was one thing Jocelyn was sure of it was that the Horseshoe was a roughly 7 minute jog downhill to headquarters and another 5 to R&D. She had jogged the route from the cafe to work many times, an effort to sneak in a bit of exercise between stops.

The trip to the Horseshoe from Starfleet Headquarters, however, was all up hill. In true San Francisco style there were few breaks in the incline. So it was that Jocelyn found herself standing before a perfectly coifed Marlena Glenn out of breath, carefully arranged hair looking like she had been put through a spin cycle in the dryer. A few curls that had been tamed previously were coiling at the back of her neck and she couldn't resist the temptation to try to finger comb them back into order.

"I am so sorry Commander." She breathed when she came to a stop. "I thought you meant to meet at the entrance to the main building."

Marlena -- who'd been standing out front for the last 10 minutes -- looked amusingly perplexed. "Did you here?" Her eyes traced the stray curls and lingered on the faint hint of forehead perspiration. "Working for R&D, I'm surprised you haven't heard of a little thing we call 'The Transporter,'" she smirked. "But I suppose a little morning exercise gets the blood pumping on your first day, eh Captain?" Marlena looked then at the entrance of the Horseshoe Cafe, gesturing Jocelyn to head inside. While the new Press Secretary technically outranked her, Commander Glenn didn't seem to let that stop her from directing this little operation.

Jocelyn let out a laugh at that. "Believe it or not I jog this route fairly regularly. Not typically in this direction, but..." she shrugged. "By the time I got myself to the transporter and here it would have been the same amount of time. "Shall we?" Jocelyn asked, indicating the door.

Marlena's eyes narrowed. She'd gestured Jocelyn to the door first, yet the Captain seemed to now be directing her inside first instead. Was this meeting -- and perhaps, this whole new relationship -- going to be an ongoing battle of will vs. will? "By all means," the woman smiled sweetly, though the gesture failed to reach her eyes. She stepped forward, conceding the first move out of respect for Blake's rank but by no means giving up the entire battle.

The little bell over the door jingled as Marlena entered, the counter line backing up almost to the door. "Popular place," she mused, taking stock of the coffee shop properly. From outside, she'd been able to see inside pretty clearly given the early hour darkness. However, she hadn't realized that the expansive windows at the rear of the shop looked so directly out on the bay. A passing shuttle flew across in the distance, the lit-up Golden Gate Bridge visible beyond. "It's...a little off the beaten path though, no?" she asked, turning back to Blake.

Jocelyn hadn't missed the slight change in her companion's response and she was busily undertaking the gymnastics of mentally smacking herself on the forehead. This was not the foot she had wanted to get off on with with the CinCs aide-de-camp.

She glanced to Marlena as she asked her question. "That's part of its charm for me, truthfully. It's a bit further away, but because of that it's not regularly filled with Starfleet personnel. I've used the Horseshoe to meet press contacts and just generally get away from things since..." She paused, about to explain that she had been coming here to get away from everyone else since the Leyton expose. The CinC might have been ok with that bit of writing, but she had no idea how Glenn might perceive her. She changed tack quickly. "...well for a while anyway. It's like this until about 0800 and then things quiet down."

"Ah, I see," Marlena nodded, looking around once again, this time noticing the distinct lack of Starfleeters. There were only two others in the whole place at present, bringing the count to four total, including herself and Blake. "The Baristocracy is nothing but Starfleet folks. But that's kind of why I like it...always running into people I know that I don't get to see on a daily basis these days," she remarked, moving forward in line as someone upfront got their order and left. "I suppose it's nice to have a quiet getaway, though. I promise not to spread the word," Marlena said, turning to give Jocelyn a wink. "Assuming they'll fill these?" she asked, holding up the two empty coffee thermoses she'd been carrying -- both emblazoned with the seal of the United Federation of Planets. "If I don't walk in with Horseshoe-branded cups, the secret stays safe," she explained with a coy wink.

Jocelyn grinned, pulling her R&D thermos out of the messenger bag she had slung across her shoulder. "Absolutely," she replied then turned the cup to look at the Starfleet R&D branding on its side. A pang or nostalgia-tinged excitement shot through her at the reminder that this was no longer her posting. As she inspected the thermos she and Marlena found themselves at the front of the line.

"Blake!" A boisterous voice exclaimed from over by the espresso machine. The sound of steam being opened up into a pot of milk filled the air. "Be right with you!"

The red headed woman turned to look at the CinC's aide-de-camp and shrugged. "You could say I'm a regular here."

A moment later, after handing off a massive mug complete with a latte heart, the barista came over to where Marlena and Jocelyn stood.

"New friend?" the woman asked, raising an eyebrow. The barista was easily in her 50s, hair cut short and spiked giving the impression that she might have easily descended from a race of mythological pixies rather than a suburban human family. She wore an all black, close-fitting pair of leggings with a long black tunic over top. A black apron over her clothes displayed the white outline of a horseshoe crab and tiny matching earrings dangled from her ears.

"Marie, this is Commander Marlena Glenn, the CinC's aide-de-camp," Jocelyn said by way of introduction. "Commander Glenn, this is Marie, proprietor of the Horseshoe Cafe."

The sprite-like woman's face lit up with a grin. "It's a pleasure to meet you Commander," she said, extending her hands to relieve Marlena of the thermoses. Jocelyn set hers on the counter next to them automatically--the step towards caffeine muscle memory at this point.

"Tell me, how do you take your caffeine?" she asked, nodding at the thermoses. To Jocelyn she said, "The usual for you?"

"The pleasure is mine, Marie," Marlena nodded. "And no need to use my rank, though I appreciate the thought. Just 'Marlena' is fine. Or I suppose," she smirked, "you could call me 'The Tallest Gingerbread Nog Latte You Have, Extra Espresso Shot, Whole Milk, Triple Foam.' Though I suspect the former is easier than the latter," her laughter tinkled like windchimes. "What's your usual?" she asked, turning to Jocelyn with a curious expression.

"I'll stick with Marlena," Marie laughed as she headed for the espresso machine before adding "Her's is a large peppermint mocha, extra shot, whole milk, extra whip this time of year."

Jocelyn's met Marlena's look with an amused, apologetic look. "It may be true that I have been a regular here for a long time."

"I get why. The one person who knew my order at the Baristocracy left Earth to join a baseball team on Cestus III," Marlena sighed in lament, staring out the windows back the way they'd come. Her piercing gaze was almost sharp enough to see across the blocks to her former coffee shop of choice... "I apologize for my...crispness," Marlena softened, turning back to Jocelyn with a raised eyebrow that subconsciously resembled Sturnack's, "yesterday. I can easily juggle 50 Admirals and their childish whims but when it comes to my personal life," she blew out a puff of air, "well...change and I aren't exactly best friends. But there's something to be said for new experiences," Marlena gestured to the shop around them.

"I'm the last one to judge a woman based on her coffee comforts of choice," Jocelyn replied, following Marlena's gaze out the sweeping floor to ceiling window that made up the back wall of the cafe. "Besides, there is as much to be said for those places that make us feel at home as there is to new experiences. Perhaps a bit of both are warranted? Seems to me we're going to get the new experiences right now either way."

Marie had returned bearing the two drinks they had ordered in two of the three carafes. "And what's the 3rd?" she asked, grinning. "Or should I make a second Marlena Special?"

Jocelyn turned back to Marlena at that. "I confess I am curious after the Admiral's comment yesterday. How does he like his latte?"

Marlena cleared her throat and assumed a very Vulcan-like tone. "One triple strong dark chocolate latte, heated to exactly 73 degrees Celsius. You may forgo the whipped cream but, instead," she clasped her hands behind her back and lifted her chin haughtily, "infuse two pumps of caramel suspension. Please take care to contain the caramel within the liquid rather than the sides of the vessel." She held the Vulcanic impression as long as she could and then busted up, rolling her eyes. "I love Sturn but boy oh boy," Marlena chuckled, looking towards Marie. "Is that doable? Too much?"

"Oh my goodness," Jocelyn exclaimed, giggling. "That is a very specific request."

Marie had paused behind the counter as the two women giggled, her eyes sparkling with mirth and not a small amount of mischief. "What I wouldn't give to know the logic behind that kind of drink ordering precision," she quipped. "It's no trouble at all. I'll have it out in just a sec."

Jocelyn had picked up her own tumbler, lid removed, and taken a sip, creamy chocolate and sharp mint warming her throat. For a moment she closed her eyes and savored the drink before opening them to take in Marlena's amused expression and bursting into another fit of giggles.

"Care to take in the view for a few before we head in?" she asked the other woman, indicating a table next to the windows. It was still well before dawn and the lights of Starfleet Headquarters dazzled below them. If she had come to this moment feeling like a teenager still figuring out how to fit into her own skin she now found herself slipping into the comfort of shared humor. "I'd welcome any tips before I dive into my first day."

"Sure," Marlena nodded, smiling at Marie as she accepted the CinC's drink. With a deft thumb, she activated the tumbler's thermal controls, setting the vessel to keep Sturnack's drink at precisely the correct temperature. "Can't dally too long, though. I'm afraid that as the CinC's aide-de-camp, my day starts even earlier than his. But a few minutes won't hurt," she demurred, moving to sit at the indicated table. "It really is a lovely view, Captain," Marlena admitted, taking a sip of her own drink, her eyes lost in the twinkling lights.

The scraping of another chair as Jocelyn took her seat drew Marlena back. " Hmm," she mused, considering the request over another sip of her gingerbread latte. She was about to remark how good it, too, was but the sparkle in her eyes would have to communicate that for her mouth had already moved on. "I suppose you're going to need a crash course in Sturnack," the Commander nodded to herself, confirming her own thinking. "Sturnack is not your typical Vulcan. Oh, he professes such," she held up a staying hand to ward off Jocelyn's potential observation to the contrary, "but he has a...certain sentimentality about things. Probably comes from working with humans for over 100 years now."

Swirling her drink around in her own tumbler, Marlena more thoroughly mixed the contents inside to her liking as she pressed on. "Sturnack is a stickler for logic, as most Vulcans are. But there are times when his sentimentality can preclude that to some degree. For instance," she looked pointedly at Blake, "no offense but, no matter how forthright and stalwart your takedown of Leyton was, anyone else would not have brought you in. In actuality, doing so is causing a lot of problems for the Admiral. Logic dictates he should have gone with RAdm Claudia Janney. She was the safe bet -- the most palatable where the press and Starfleet at large are concerned. But something about your...pluck? Dedication? Naivety," the word was left hanging for a moment, "must have swayed his mind."

Jocelyn swirled her tumbler absently taking in what Marlena had just said. "I see."

And she did see. How her name had even made it to the short list remained a mystery, one she hoped she could figure out eventually. At best she was years younger than most coming to the position, and at worst she black listed. She knew the reality was somewhere in the middle, but that didn't stop the twin bursts of anger and uncertainty that caused her to grip her tumbler just a bit tighter. Jocelyn took a sip of her drink, letting the mint cool her throat and giving the caffeine a moment to kick any of her sleepier brain cells into gear.

"I suppose that's my problem to figure out now." she said thoughtfully starting up a mental tally of people who might be the source of the problems the Commander alluded to.

She took another long draught of her drink before closing the lid to better hold in the temperature. Cupping the thermos with both hands now she faced the CinC's aide-de-camp. "Anything else I should keep in mind?"

"I apologize," Marlena visibly softened. "Just as humans have rubbed off on Sturnack, I'm pretty sure he's rubbed off on me, too. I can be pretty direct," she offered the beginnings of a smile, reaching forward to place a hand on Blake's forearm. "I should probably work on that. But," she withdrew her hand and sipped her latte once again, "I feel like it's a disservice to dance around the truth with you. Especially since you're the one who will most directly bear the brunt of his decision. The press aren't happy, Captain. I'm afraid the Admiral has put you in a rather tough spot, though he believes the hardship will be worth it in the end. For both of you," she noted.

As if sensing the new Press Secretary's unvoiced question, Marlena continued. "Sturnack's other advisers have all been telling him he's crazy to bring you on. Every meeting on his first day yesterday started as one thing and invariably became 'Can we talk about the Blake thing?' Frankly," she sighed, her bangs uplifting in the puff of air, "it's getting in the way of getting shit done. Language, I know," she waved off the potential complaint. "But that isn't your fault. None of this is. But you need to be ready, Captain. To defend yourself and honestly, more importantly? To defend him. You're going to face a lot of opposition on a lot of fronts. Don't let anyone intimidate you into thinking you aren't exactly where you should be. And that includes me, dear," the woman broke into a slight smile.

"You really don't need to apologize for being direct with me." Jocelyn found herself staring at her hands to buy herself a moment for the emotions stirred up by the other woman's explanation to settle. "I appreciate it."

She took a deep breath, turning to take in the lights and the bay beyond. "You know, I've always dreamed I'd get a chance at this position someday. And I'll be damned if anyone is going to try to take this moment away." Her eyes flashed as she spoke. Turning back to Marlena she continued, "I promise you, you will find no greater defender of the Admiral, than me."

She sighed, a bit of the fire going out of her as quickly as it arrived. "We should probably head in if we're going to be there before 6. A few extra minutes to look over the press notes on my first day won't hurt either."

The aide-de-camp studied Blake's face for several long moments, as if trying to make a decision and finally doing so. "You know, I don't always see what Sturn does but..." she rose slowly, both tumblers in hand, "your reaction just now says a lot. Maybe he's keyed into something everyone else should be, too. Something everyone else will be soon. If we're going to work together, though," she took point, leading the charge out of the coffee shop with a parting cup-salute to Marie, "you're going to need to start calling me 'Marlena.' Who knows...I might even give you access to the biscotti jar on my desk," she turned back, winking at Blake. "We'll see," she chuckled, striding confidently out onto the sidewalk beyond.

Despite the weight of their exchange Jocelyn couldn't supress the grin that spread across her face. "I'll call you Marlena if you call me Jocelyn" she responded falling into step with the other woman. "What kind of biscotti, exactly?"

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

Captain Jocelyn Blake
Press Secretary
Starfleet Command

Commander Marlena Glenn
Aide-de-Camp to the CinC
Starfleet Command


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