MD #217: Wescott All Over Again
MD #217: Wescott All Over Again
Summary: The CAG gets Melissa released from the brig and puts the pilot back to work. Consequences are discussed.
Date: 11/11/17 (OOC Date)
Related Logs: Cross Examination
Melissa Niko 
The Brig, then CAG's Office
The brig cell is roomier.
Tue May 29 2049 (MD #217)

Melissa has been down in the hole of the brig for a good bit now. Long past the 24 hours normal for people who are just waiting to be charged. But then again, most people weren't uniformed Captains who badly beat the hell out of civilians. Wescott has already turned over the Captain's pins to Petra, who has likely already handed them off to Niko. She's in green dungaree work clothes and sitting on her bunk. There's a bit of nervous energy about her, a distant stare at the cell next to her. Its clearly occupied and has a stack of books, but there's nobody in it. This seems to distress her a little. But considering she doesn't have anything to distract her like a tablet or books? All she has is her mind to drive her stircrazy.

Niko arrives in his blues, datapad in hand, and breezes past the MPs with only a token nod. Looks like they were expecting him. The CAG marches up to Melissa's cell and stands before the bars, looking at his squadron leader with a grim expression. He doesn't do anything immediately, giving Melissa the chance to react to his arrival before he says his piece.

Melissa glances up at hearing the approach. She can see who it is. Footsteps probably sound like the boots of an executioner. The officer in the brig stops bouncing her knee nervously and stands, hiding the bandaged knuckles of her right hand as best she can. Even without rank on, she stands at attention. There's some fear in her eyes that Niko can read very easily, but no sign that she's about to break down. This Wescott has the benefit of a first rate education and real OCS. It shows, even if its a lot like looking at her mother. It might even kick a few memories. A Wescott in trouble? Say it ain't so.

Niko's frown only deepens when Melissa stands at attention, and the CAG stares at her silently for a time before he exhales a long breath and shakes his head. There /are/ way too many memories involved in this situation. "Godsdamnit, Billboard." He sounds more put-out than angry, but the rest is clearly an order from her CO. "Grab your gear and follow me." Then he turns to address the MP on duty. "I'm taking charge of Captain Wescott, effective immediately."

Melissa desn't have to look right at Niko to feel that frown. She's had to be held accountable for her pilots before, but this is more or less a first for her personally. That is, at least, according to the file. There's no way to be sure this hasn't happened before since Recruiting Command would have ensured she had a spotless record. "Yessir," is spoken crisply. She wheels at the command and gathers up the few items she has into a small issue duffel and moves to stand by the hatch and wait. The MP doesn't seem to have a problem with any of it though, and heads over with the clipboard for him to sign and the keys.

The errant Captain is signed for like so much lost property, and then Niko waits while the cell is unlocked, literally tapping his foot. As soon as the door slides open the CAG turns and marches off, keeping up a brisk pace as he leads the way back up to Deck Two, and the Air Wing section. Apparently he assumed Melissa is going to follow him as he never looks back or says another word. He doesn't stop until he reaches the CAG's office and steps inside. "Shut the hatch," he instructs Melissa, assuming she's behind him still.

Melissa waits while the cell is opened. Once Niko starts off, she looks back to the empty cell with some concern. She wants to demand an answer from the MP, who would probably laugh at her, but the CAG is marching off. She doublesteps to catch up to him and walks in silence also. Most people pay them no more mind than normal, but a few of the aircrew they pass do stop conversations to stare. "Oh man, not good, she's not wearing pins," is probably whispered in some variation. Arriving in his office, she shuts the hatch behind them and puts the bag at her side, going back to attention with the duffel dropped by her side.

Those staring too long or muttering audible comments during the duos' march get a look from Niko that says, loud and clear, they have better things to do. And once they're in the office with the hatch closed, the CAG rounds his desk and slumps into his chair. Now he just looks tired, and he rubs at his face before waving Melissa forward. "At ease, Billboard. Sit the frak down. Let me hear what you've got to say for yourself."

Melissa takes a longbreath she'd been holding and moves to sit. Blissful chairs. Anything except the bunk in the brig. She takes a moment to live it up. But only a moment. It all crashes back in with relative ease since the reasoning for her incarceration hasn't been far from her mind the last few days. "I don't have an excuse, sir. When the one guy started talking like that? I just.. I've heard a lot of things over the years." She looks down at her knee. "Lewd comments about me and posters. Comments about my momma. Gettin made fun of for the speech impediment thing I dealt with most of my life, whenever she was brought up?" Melissa shakes her head and looks back to Niko. "I just saw him thrusting at me with his hips and I couldn't take it anymore. I've done everything I was supposed to, when I was supposed to, told to shut up and look pretty and give speeches and recruit people. And the guy who said all the awful things? I kicked him really hard. But his friend tried to stop me. It just- him trying to stop me just set me off. I just remember my hand gripping his shirt. He was trying to get away but I wouldn't let him. All I wanted to do was make him hurt." Melissa's quiet words aren't spoken with bravado or pride, or flat facts. This is personal. Its what she has to say for herself. "I don't even remember hitting Sawyer, sir. I don't have an excuse, just a lot of regret for the whole thing. I didn't just frak up myself with hitting them, I put Cross and Sawyer in the place of having to report it. That was just.. shit. I'd be so pissed if one of my pilots had done this. I'm really sorry, sir."

The CAG just folds his arms and listens, letting Melissa have her say without interrupting. It's clear that he is, at some level, pissed at her. But it's been almost 48 hours and that anger is no longer his primary focus. "Let me give you some advice," Niko says, "from someone who's been around the block a few times. Next time you're off duty and you run into some frak looking for a fight? Make sure they throw the first punch." That was not a joke. "I mean, frak. /I/ probably would have taken a swing at them if they'd started talking shit about any of The Sixty." There is an implied 'let alone Kelsey' in there, but Niko doesn't come right out and say that. "You lost your cool. I get it. But now Command has their briefs in a bunch over relations with the Mother station people. I am not going to let them shitcan one of my pilots for punching somebody who deserved it, but there's gonna be serious shit over this. You understand what I'm saying?"

Melissa looks back at him and listens. There's no look of pain or guilt. Mels is a grown-ass adult now not the little energetic girl running around Piraeus. She's got some of her own anger and fear, but that's probably par considering what has probably happened and been said to her already. "Yessir, they throw the first punch next time." That's a big affirmative. The rest of what he imparts is a heavy reminder of what Petra said. Rather than give a simple answer, there is a slow nod and, "Sir, I told Commander Petra that I've instructed Lieutenant Mendelsohn to take temporary command of the squadron until you or command has the opportunity to make a decision about me. I've spent a lot of time with him. The crews in the squadron respect him. His test scores were passable but I would suggest him to take the.." Okay, she was doing well until she had to actually get to this part. Mels had been hoping to hurry through it. This hurts. Melissa knows its gone. " take the squadron commander position. He's been my unofficial deputy." Unable to look at the CAG anymore, she clears her throat and looks at her knee. A slow breath is taken to steady herself. "I know that's likely not the only thing I'm losing. So yes, I think I understand."

"Yeah," Niko confirms curtly, "I've heard from Mendlesohn and confirmed him as acting squadron commander. We'll see if he can cut it." He isn't happy about potentially losing a good squadron leader either. The command decision may not be completely cut and dry, but it is the relatively easy one in this situation. "I will keep you flying," he promises with certainty, "but you're probably looking at a demotion and a formal reprimand." Something that would deep-six a career in peace time. But they're at war with no end in sight, so. "For now you're restricted to the Air Wing section of the ship. I want you on training detail — we have two nuggets in the pipe, and one of them is Diaz." Another problem child. "Get her head on straight and get Rowan Heron ready for combat. Understood?"

There is actually some pleased relief at hearing about her suggestion. Even a touch of a smile. As a Captain, she had probably put a lot of hard work into him. "I'll keep myself available to him if he needs advice, sir. I don't think he'll be needing it." There's a greater relief at the idea of being kept flying. "Thank you, sir." There's a lot of things he doesn't have to do and as a Captain she's very well aware of the tools and threats that can be brought to bear. His finally instructions get a nod from her. That will be done. "Sir, Commander Petra told me that I'd likely be demoted back to Ensign due to how severe it is with Mother. And that this is the first test everyone is watching." There's unavoidable sadness and regret there, and the words suck to even breath, but she does posit it. "Should I draw Ensign pins, sir?"

"Give him whatever help he needs," Niko agrees. "But he's going to have to solo sooner or later." Then he grimaces for her thanks and shakes his head. He's silent and tight-lipped for a few seconds, keeping himself from saying more as he listens to what Melissa has to say about her expect rank. If he's less happy about it then she is, it's not by much. He exhales a long breath, trying to let it go. "I'll push back on that," he says at last. "See what I can do about your rank. Right now you're technically still a Captain."

Melissa holds her position and expression. "Sir, if I may…" she keeps her quiet voice. "If its the difference between JG and Ensign, just give me Ensign, sir. At a fall that far, my future in the fleet is pretty much toast either way. We could wax hopeful about wartime and potential openings due to combat losses, but I'd rather not put myself in the position of hoping for bad things to happen to good people just so I might climb back out. I wanted to be CAG. Admiral was my lofty goal. Make mom proud. Do what she couldn't." There's the very edge of a ghosted smile. "If the last five years of rank advancement are gone, might as well take the rest and save the battle for someone who can gain more out of the save." It would appear she's given a lot of thought to this. "That's my professional opinion from one commander to another, sir. Even if the Captain thing is just temporary at this point."

She may offer her thoughts, but Niko isn't buying. In fact he's starting to sound angry again, if for different cause. "Bullshit. This war is barely getting started. The Wing isn't going to get smaller, Billboard. It's going to get bigger. The Fleet is going to get bigger." Optimism is something the CAG has always had in spades. "I don't know when, but that day is coming. You're a good officer and a good leader. I'm not leaving someone like that stuck at Ensign when we're going to be forming new squadrons someday. So no. You don't get off that easy." He takes a deep breath, reigning it in, and clears his throat. "Recommendation noted. You have your orders. Unless you have anything else to say, that will be all."

Melissa has very little reaction to that, even if he does sound a bit angry. She stated her opinion and she's going to leave it there. Sort of. She slowly rises from the chair and takes the duffel. A salute is given and she moves towards the door at his dismissal. There's a stop, there, though, and she looks back to him with her hand on the hatch. "Thank you for saying as much, sir. But a good officer doesn't need rank to be a good leader." Far and away a different officer from her mother, but so very much the same. It isn't the first time Niko has heard those words. The last time, he was just an Ensign in training and the voice was identical to Melissa's. The Captain turns to go and leaves the office, heading to find a new bunk.

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