He’s Dead Gym...
Episode 4 - Truth, Justice, and the Federation Way
Timeline: MD 2
Lieutenant Commander Adlerstein roamed the halls of the Arcadia, trying to process everything he had heard since coming aboard. It was a lot to swallow; not only had he lost his ship and his current skipper, but his old one, the Arcadia's current master and commander, was kidnapped, missing. Oliver and Hans had served well together for some time on the Bunker Hill, first as a Marine CO then as an XO. His patronage certainly helped Hans' career, the three pips on his collar attesting to the fact, but it was more than that. It was a bond forged through trials of both administrative as well as combat, the kind that is forged not only through the horrors of battle, but the pains of paperwork, combat through the pen and the PADD, of long nights pounding coffee to get reports in on time to SHQ.
If there was one complaint Hans had about Lee, it was that the man usually stuck closely to the script of protocol. Hans was usually a man of protocol himself; he was of the Reserve type, the straight-laced, disciplined Marine who stood tall, saluted crisply, and did not let his tactical skills excuse for poor drill and marching. However, Lee rarely allowed Hans to wear his golden oak leaf, befitting a Major of Marines. Throughout their working relationship, Hans had been all but forced to wear the three pips of a Lieutenant Commander, his "fleet rank". If one wanted to be VERY technical, the wearing of an oak leaf wasn't UNAUTHORIZED, as he held a concurrent rank of Major in the Starfleet Reserves so long as he held the position of XO. If he were to return to Marine duties, he'd put the oak leaf back on his collar as if no time had passed at all.
But that was a small complaint at best. Oliver and Hans worked well as a team, and Adlerstein was happy to say he had a enjoyable time as his number one. And so it was some stress upon his weary soul that he learned his old skipper was missing. He did not feel like the Holodeck, so that left him with but one option to distress: the gym.
He changed into Marine PT gear (rather drab and unimaginative olive colored shorts and t-shirt) and entered the gym and choose some free weights stacked into neat rows according to size against the far wall. Several other persons were in there already, some with weights, some sparring on the mats, some running on treadmills. He began to curl the weights upwards, allowing his mind to wander as he did so.
A few minutes later, he heard a familiar voice. "Well now, will you look at that? A fleeter trying to be a Marine."
Hans turned to find out the source of the voice. When he saw the origin, his lip curled into a scowl. "I remain every bit as much a Marine as you Captain..." he put heavy emphasis on their rank difference. "So I suggest you watch your tone. Plus you've got a lot of guts showing your face here, after the horseshit you pulled back at the Academy." His voice turned angry, as if spoiling for a fight. A handful of passing Marines had stopped to stare at the altercation, a few had even stopped working out.
Jack stepped closer to Hans, stopping mere centimeters from the German. His expression displayed annoyance and muld confusion. "I have got a lot of guts? In case you missed it, Colonel, this unit is my command. Not some pansy weight pencil pusher like yourself."
There were several sounds of shock and awe coming from the gathering Marines, that had started to form a circle around the two senior officers.
Hans advanced menacingly on the other Marine, slowly, as if he'd waited for years to pay him back and wanted to savor the moment. He lunged towards Jackson's right, who blocked it, before Hans unexpectedly pulled him to him for an embrace.
His chortle was genuine and full of mirth. "How you doing you scumbag? I didn't think I'd run into you here!"
Jack took a beat to get on the same page as Hans. Then, chuckling as well, returned the embrace of one of his closest friends. "I'm doing okay, ya old kraut. I was reassigned to lead the unit here shortly befor the Arcadia left port."
The laughter seemed to satisfy the small crowd, who went about their business once again.
After seeing the crowd disperse, Jack released his embrace and tilted his head towards the exit. "Wanna get something to eat? We can talk easier in the officer's mess."
Hans waved his head as a hint to lead on. "Sure sure. Tell me all about your adventures so far, including your Marines. How you comin along with them?"
Jackson fell into step with the Major, staying on his left, and half a pace behind, as was required by regulations. "Well, before I was reassigned here, I was in the middle of getting my old unit ready for a mission." He discretely glanced around them as the pair entered the corridor, making their way to the senior officer's mess. "Are you familiar with Operation Firestone?"
Hans looked to his side, noticed that the Captain was not there, and rolled his eyes while grabbing Jack by the arm to pull him even to him.
"Firstly, I'm well aware of what the regulation states as to juniors and seniors, and acknowledge your awareness of said protocol. However, it makes it damned hard to hold a decent conversation with you if you do so, so consider it waived for the remainder of my time aboard ship. Second: No, should I be?"
Werner chuckled. Hans clearly had not changed over the years. "Fair enough, Sir. As for the operation, I guess it didn't filter down to the regular part of the Corps yet." They entered the senior officer mess and Werner instructed everyone else present to get out. Once just the two of them were left, he had the door locked and the internal sensors put in a sleeping pattern. "Coffee?" He asked as he moved over to the replicator.
"Please, one and one." He asked, indicating the cream and sugar content. "I appreciate the effort, but I'm not ready to take our relationship to the next level yet Jack." He said, his hand twirling above his head, towards the now dimmed lights.
Jackson noticed the lowered illumination levels. Then he laughed. "Don't be an ass, Hans, you know you couldn't handle all this." He moved his left hand down his body, indicating his chiseled physique.
"At least I don't seem to skip out on leg day." The German said, with a gentle kick to Jackson's calf.
Jackson laughed at his friend's humor. It was a very old joke between the two officers. After a few moments passed he sat down and asked the question. "How have you been, Hans? It's been what, seven, eight years since we were in the same command together?"
"I'm well, thank you. Although I dare say my career hasn't been as...sexy...as yours. I saw a lot of SpecOps type assignments in your personnel jacket." The German stated.
Jackson shrugged casually. I go where I'm needed. You know that. If the Commandant tells me to go deal with a bushfire, I do so. If she tells me to go get a kitten out of a tree for a little girl, I'll do that too." He grinned slightly at the last comment. "But what about you? I know you've been offered a few chances at trying out for Special Operation work. Why didn't you take em?"
"Not my bag. You know THAT, Jack. I'm no cloak and dagger type, just a standard issue Marine. No bells. No whistles. I enjoy my work. It's what I'm good at." The German put his hand on his friend's shoulder. "Besides, you grow a better bread than I."
Jackson simply shrugged and nodded slightly as he chuckled in reply. After a few beats, he asked, "How's things at home?"
"As well as usual. You?" Hans replied.
Jackson shrugged as he replied. "Not much different, Dad is as ornery as ever. He still grumbles about being retired." He chuckled as he continued. "Though he has started seeing someone, so, that's helping his mood."
"Please tell me she's at least CLOSE to his own age." Adlerstein joked.
Jackson chuckled as he replied. "Yeah, she's only about three years younger than he is. Though, you wouldn't know it, as active as she is!"
"Tell her if it doesn't work out, I'm free on Fridays." Hans quipped.
Jackson gave Hans an incredulous look as he responded. "Really?" He asked sarcastically. "We both know that you're free every day of the week, and twice on Sundays." He chuckled again as he got up and returned to the replicator. "You want anything else?"
"A less sarcastic friend?" The German retorted back.
Jackson smirked at Hans. "Sorry, you're outta luck there, pal." He ordered another pair of drinks and carried them back over to the table. As he sat down, he handed Hans his drink. "So," the Marine commander began. "What are your plans? You gonna stay here, or head back to HQ?"
“Don’t know. Right now, my main concern is getting back the skipper. After that, I’ll play it by ear.”
Jackson nodded. "I still can't believe that bitch kidnapped him," he growled, referring to Captain Ishikawa. "She better pray that he is uninjured when we retrieve him. Otherwise, she and I are going to have a little heart-to-heart, her rank be damned." Jackson looked at Hans with that same dangerous glean in his eye that the German was well familiar with.
“You’ll get in line and wait your turn like a good gentleman.” Hand added, his own voice transforming into a near growl.
Jack snorted as he retorted. "Whoever told you that I was a gentleman, lied to ya, Boss."
Hans rolled his eyes at the joke. “I miss the days when only the land owning aristocrats could be officers.”
"Hell," Jack responded as he lightly patted the back of Hans right hand. "I knew you were old, but, I never thought that you were that old." He then sat back and chuckled. "Seriously, though. What are Command's orders for when we do catch her?"
“Are you expecting frontier justice? We capture if we can, per usual.” Adlerstein replied.
Jackson merely shrugged. "Frontier justice does have its uses, at times. I'll admit that I wouldn't be displeased if she gave me a reason to shot her when we catch her. No-one messes with my family."
Adlerstein came to his full height, his face serious, his tone no longer containing humor. “Do not forget that I served with him before you; he’s my friend too. You will contain your need for revenge or I’ll be forced to have you cited for possible breach of Article 90. Clear?”
That was a serious charge; Article 90 of SCJ concerned treatment of Prisoners of War. The few who breached it and caught were subject to harsh punishment.
Jackson stood as well, staring eye-to-eye with the German, whom he considered one of his closest friends. At the moment, though, they were not friends, but instead were simply superior and subordinate. "Understood, Sir." All of the humor had left his voice. Instead, his voice was as hard as durasteel.
Hans realized he may have stepped too far. But he felt he could not back down. Hopefully Jack would see that Adlerstein was trying to keep him out of trouble. “Now, please tell me about this plan...”
It took Jackson a few beats to change gears. Finally, he reached into his left leg cargo pocket and pulled out a PADD. Activating it, he handed it over to Hans, having already memorized the information contained. "Depending on how we catch her, I will have Alpha Fire Team infiltrate the ship via..."
Lieutenant Commander Johannes Adlerstein
XO, USS Kyushu
Captain Jackson Werner
Marine Unit Commander