Chapter 1: Invisible
Counselor Vallicent W. Shin sat silently in his stateroom. What had he gotten himself into? The young man tried to compose himself before having his meeting with the captain.
"Counselor, please meet me in the briefing room," came the captain's voice from the young man's combadge.
He tapped his combadge. "Acknowledged."
Val walked out of the room, thinking about the events that had led to his situation. Three weeks ago, he was sitting at his desk, dutifully filling out paperwork. His superior walked into the office and informed him that it was Val's turn on the rotation to take a field assignment. Val didn't mind. In fact, he looked forward to doing some field work and getting out of his office.
Val's temporary assignment was to oversee fugitive retrieval operations onboard the U.S.S. Voyager, which was assigned to track down a particular maquis ship and capture a former Starfleet officer turned traitor named Chakotay. Val's job was to make sure that the captured traitors were properly treated before being handed over to Starfleet authorities for trial. He would also oversee the interrogations that took place on Voyager, if any occurred before prisoner transfer.
Unfortunately, what was originally supposed to be a temporary assignment was greatly extended. To a whopping 75 years, even at maximum warp. While chasing Chakotay's maquis raider, Voyager had been taken far from home, into the Delta Quadrant.
Val finally reached the door to the conference room. He took a deep breath, and walked into the room. There, seated at the table were Captain Kathryn Janeway and Vice Captain Chakotay, the ship's new second-in-command.
"Please, take a seat," said the Captain.
"Thank you, captain," said Val as he took his seat.
"Counselor, how long have you been a JAG prosecutor?" asked the Captain.
"About a year. Before my current posting, I was assigned to Starfleet's environmental research division as junior compliance counsel."
"Well, counselor," said Janeway. "I don't really have a need for a lawyer on this ship."
Val looked down. "Yes, sir. Um... I mean, yes, ma'am."
"Counselor, Captain is fine."
"Where do you think you'd fit in on this ship?" asked Chakotay.
"I'm not quite sure." Val knew that the captain would have to assign him some type of duty. He didn't really have any knowledge of the engineering systems onboard, and that was the specialty that was most lacking. Val also knew that Voyager needed a medic, and was short on flight control officers. But Val had no medical background, and Tom Paris was recently re-instated as a Lieutenant and assigned as flight control officer.
"We'll get to that later," said Janeway. "What I want to discuss is this." She waved her padd, and then slid it across the desk to Val.
Val picked it up, and read it. Incident report SBA-2236.
"What happened?" asked the Captain.
"It's in the report," responded Val.
"You sent three crewmembers to sickbay. One with serious internal injuries," said Chakotay.
"Why shouldn't I put you in the brig for that?" asked Janeway.
"It is the three crewmembers in sickbay who should be put in the brig."
"Why? Because they were maquis?" asked Chakotay.
"Permission to speak freely?" asked Val, turning to face the Captain.
"Granted," said Janeway, curious to hear what the young lieutenant had to say.
"First, I strongly believe the maquis traitors all belong in prison, including the man sitting next to you right now."
Chakotay was about to interject, but Janeway put up her hand to signal that she wanted to hear more.
"Go on," she said.
"That being said, I do not roam about picking fights with random people, even if they are scum-sucking traitors. Those three men are in sickbay because they attacked me first. They thought they'd have some fun. I took the action necessary and even called for medical attention once the altercation was over."
Janeway slid another padd in front of Val. They contained the Doctor's medical reports.
"Overkill, don't you think?" asked the Captain.
"No ma'am. It was the appropriate amount of 'kill.' I took the necessary action to ensure they no longer represented a danger to me."
"These injuries. They are not consistent with injuries suffered by attackers. If anything, I'd think you were the attacker," said Chakotay. He hard a hard time believing that three of his men would lose a fair fight to one man, unless the one was the initial aggressor and had the element of surprise.
"Ask your men when they wake up in sickbay. I doubt the little traitors will tell the truth, but listen to their concocted story, and then evaluate it against their injuries. See whose story is more consistent," said Val defiantly.
"No need," said Janeway. "One of them awoke several minutes before you arrived." Chakotay was surprised. He had not been informed.
"The crewman admitted that one of his friends started the physical altercation. However, I must ask, do you not think you used excessive force?" asked the captain.
"No ma'am, I do not. I'm a lawyer. A prosecutor, no less. I know where the line is between proper force and excessive force. I did not cross that line."
Janeway was a little frustrated by the response. She slid yet another padd to Val.
"Now, let's talk about this." It was Incident Report SBA-2227, from a week before.
"This incident report interests me," said Janeway.
"I'm glad I entertain you," said Val sarcastically.
"You, lieutenant, will watch your tone. Understood?"
"Yes, captain. Sorry captain."
"In this particular incident, one week prior, you exhibit sympathy towards a maquis member."
"I showed sympathy to a human being," retorted Val. "Regardless of whether she was a maquis traitor, all human beings are entitled to a level of dignity."
"You seemed more protective of this one though," said Janeway, with slight curiosity in her voice. "Many other maquis have been roughed up, some in your presence. Yet this is the only time you've intervened."
"Maybe I'm a sexist and I think all girls are fragile and unable to take care of themselves," said Val, by now getting annoyed at the Captain's questions.
"No, that's not quite it," said Janeway, still curious. She smiled. For some reason, the young lieutenant was trying his best to annoy her. The best way to counter that was to not act annoyed. "Regardless, that's not what I wanted to discuss. Do you remember what action you took?"
"It's in the report," said Val.
"It says here that you dressed down the three MARCOs who were bullying maquis crewman DuPont."
Karen Kelly DuPont. KKD. Val's object of affection for over three months before he had the guts to tell her. The two of them went to law school together. After he had confessed his feelings, she had told him that she saw him as just a friend, and would never see him as anything else. He had been crushed, but told her he was perfectly fine.
"Nobody challenges a MARCO," said Chakotay. "And yet you did." MARCOs were Starfleet's landing soldiers. An abbreviation for Marine Commandos, MARCOs tended to be some of the toughest Starfleet personnel. Their uniforms were slightly different. Similar to Fleet uniforms, they were mostly black. However, instead of the red/beige/blue scheme on the shoulders, the MARCOs had gray. Their collars were black. On Captain Janeway's mission to capture Chakotay, Starfleet Command had decided to post a platoon of MARCOs on Voyager in case the maquis were chased to a planetary base of operations. In general, Fleet crewmen kept their distance from the MARCOs.
"I felt it was the right thing to do," said Val.
"You're lucky they didn't rip you in half," said Chakotay. "One of them was about twice your size!"
Val had always been very aware that he was relatively short. Standing at 5'6" he was about 4 inches shorter than the average male. And physically, Val was not as built as the average male MARCO.
"That," said Janeway, "is what I want to discuss. Why did the MARCOs not harm you?"
"The MARCOs have been a real problem for me, Counselor. They roam about this ship as if they are above the law. They have no respect for authority. They've engaged in multiple melees, mostly against maquis members. And when my security officers intervene to break up the fights, the MARCOs have turned on my officers. I can't count the number of sickbay visits the MARCOs have caused."
"That doesn't surprise me," responded Val.
"Explain," said Janeway.
"Do you really need me to spell it out?"
"First of all, MARCOs respect authority, just not yours. That's always been the way things are."
"I've served with MARCOs before," said Janeway. "I never had any problems."
"MARCOs and Fleet don't mix, even though both organizations are run by Starfleet Command. MARCOs are soldiers. Every time they need to get to a battle, Fleet always gives them a ride. But that's it. And after the battle, a ship comes to pick them up. MARCOs have no respect for Fleet officers because Fleet officers don't fight in combat."
"Okay," said Janeway. She had heard about such attitudes carried by the MARCOs, but never thought it was that strong.
"Moreover, the MARCOs' mission, and your mission, Captain, was to capture the traitors. And here the traitors are, running around free. That's enough to get them steamed. Even if it wasn't the MARCOs' mission, they would still have problems getting along with traitors."
"Counselor," said Janeway, trying to mask her annoyance. "Please refrain from using the word traitor. You will use the word maquis from now on."
"No ma'am, I certainly will not," said a defiant Lieutenant Shin. "I will call them what they are."
Janeway was frustrated. She would deal with the young counselor later, perhaps in a one-on-one setting without Chakotay present.
"Back to my initial question, lieutenant," Janeway was going to refer to the young officer as a lieutenant from now on, hoping to repeatedly remind him that she outranked him. "Why were you unharmed? If any of my security officers had challenged a MARCO, the MARCOs would not have complied. Yet, not only did you leave unscathed, but it seems that the three MARCOs immediately complied and left DuPont alone. I'm curious, why is that?"
"You'd have to ask them, ma'am. I cannot speak for the internal motivations of other people."
"Venture a guess, lieutenant," said the Captain, in a tone that suggested it was an order.
"During officer training, I was paired with Brevet Major Douglas in boarding tactics."
"Major Douglas?" asked Chakotay.
"Douglas was the former MARCO platoon commander. He was one of the recent casualties," explained Janeway.
"Yes," said Val silently. "Douglas and I trained for three months. I was the Fleet cavalry pilot trainee assigned to fly the landing craft for the MARCO landing training missions and SEAL vessel boarding missions. Douglas served as cadet squad leader."
"So, the MARCOs get along with at least one "squid," it would seem," said Janeway approvingly. MARCOs often called Fleet officers squids. It was a tradition dating back from when Earth's ocean-going navies carried marines on ships.
"I'm not sure I would say that," said Val. "Although, the platoon sergeant seems to have a positive opinion of me. Maybe one or two others. I don't know about the rest."
"Here's the thing, lieutenant. I want the MARCOs out of my way," said Janeway.
"Captain?" said Val, wondering what Janeway meant by that.
"Oh yes. They are enough of a thorn in my side for me to have actually thought about marooning them on some random planet. However... I will not do that. But I do need for them to stay out of the way. At the very least, I need them confined so that they do not start fights with either the maquis or even my own people."
Val was about to say something, but stopped short. He remained silent, but was visibly disturbed.
"What is it, Lieutenant?"
"Permission to speak freely?"
"Yes, for the rest of this conversation, you may presume that you have permission to speak freely."
"It would be a grave mistake to antagonize the MARCOs. You NEED them."
"The MARCOs were assigned to help me capture the maquis. Since that is no longer an objective of mine, I no longer need them."
"Ma'am," said Val as he gave a quick glance towards Chakotay and then looked away. "I hate to be the bringer of bad news, but it's been spread amongst the crew that the maquis crewmembers are going to mutiny fairly soon. You will need the MARCOs to protect you."
"You doubt the effectiveness of Lieutenant Tuvok and his security force?"
Val was about to ask for permission to speak again, but he remembered he didn't have to.
"With all due respect, captain, a unified maquis could easily overrun your security forces. And Voyager's science and engineering staff? A squad of three MARCOs could probably take them all down. Your ship is in danger every second you let the maquis roam about."
Chakotay glanced at Janeway. She nodded, as if giving him permission to speak.
"Counselor, I was well aware of the rumors floating about. I have assured the captain that if any maquis members attempt to mutiny, I would put them in the brig myself."
"Sir," said Val. "With all due respect, even if it were true that you yourself do not wish to lead a mutiny, do you truly think you have enough influence over the rest of the maquis? Can you even name one of them who is not displeased with the current situation? I'm telling you right now, they are going to rebel. In significant numbers, if not entirely."
"Lieutenant," said the Captain. "I realize your concern, but I think we have this under control. I will not lock the maquis in the brig. I am leaving the situation in Vice Captain Chakotay's capable hands."
Val was somewhat disappointed, but he had a strong feeling the captain wouldn't see reason.
Janeway added, "Nor will I confine the MARCOs. In any event, I have a task for you."
Val was listening intently, although he had a feeling he was not going to like what he was about to hear.
"I need you to keep the MARCOs in line. I know that they will probably never accept Tuvok as their superior officer. But you're right, I may need the MARCOs to supplement my security force one day. While I have faith the maquis are not going to mutiny, I don't know what situations might come up here in the Delta Quadrant. I'd rather have the MARCOs on my side just in case."
"How do you suggest I keep them line, ma'am?" asked Val.
"The MARCOs lost their platoon commander. Since they need a new one, I'm making you it."
"Captain! That's insane. I'm not a MARCO."
"Yes, but you're not a legal counselor. At least, not anymore. I have no use for one. I need you to pick up a different role, and platoon commander is it."
"But captain, I'm a Fleet officer. Surely I'd be more suited for something else."
"Lieutenant, tell me what you're suited for besides legal. Can you be an engineer? A scientist? It seems to me that you can best serve this ship by assuming leadership of the MARCOs. And most importantly, keeping the MARCOs out of my hair."
"Captain, I recommend against this. Instead, you should have the platoon sergeant retain command. Staff Sergeant Nathan Driver is a capable leader."
"Here's the thing, Val," said Janeway. It was the first time she referred to him by his first name, instead of by his rank. "None of the MARCOs, including Sergeant Driver, respects my authority as much as you do. Even considering the way you've spoken to me in this very conversation, at the very least you've asked for my permission to speak freely. I also have no doubt that you will ultimately obey any direct order I give you. I cannot say the same for any of the MARCOs. On the flip side of the coin, the MARCOs appear to respect you more than any other Fleet officer. I need you as my middle man, Val. I need you to keep them in line."
"But captain, you can't just make me a MARCO. They know I'm not one of them."
"Why not? You're a Starfleet lieutenant. That's the equivalent of a MARCO brevet major. I can transfer your rank and we'll be set."
"No, captain. The MARCOs won't accept that. I'm not one of them. It'll appear to them as a slap in the face."
"Fine, then you'll keep your Starfleet commission and rank, and I'll place you as their platoon commander regardless."
"I don't think they'll go for that. You'll basically take whatever respect they have for me now and shoot it out an airlock. There has to be another way."
"I'm open to suggestions. How do you think I should handle this?"
Val thought for about half a minute.
"How 'bout you keep Sergeant Driver in charge?"
"We've already been through this, Lieutenant," said a semi-frustrated Janeway.
"No, hear me out. If you really want some modicum of control over the MARCOs, they have to be led by a MARCO. You can't inject someone else into their leadership. But... how about you just give me a randomly created title. Like "Fleet-MARCO liaison." It can be my job to oversee their actions. Does that work?"
Janeway was a little surprised. In fact, after thinking about it for a minute, she was surprised she hadn't come up with the idea previously. It was Val's original assignment to oversee the Starfleet security personnel as they captured the maquis. Although Val was a prosecutor, his role on Voyager was oversight. The young lieutenant's suggestion appealed to the captain.
"Yes. Val, that works well. It's decided then."
"Thank you, captain. So all you want me to do is keep them from fighting the maquis?"
"And Fleet security, of course. I do not want to see any more incident reports with the acronym MARCO. In fact, I want to be able to not even know they're onboard. I want them to be invisible."
"Yes, lieutenant. Make that happen."
Val stood up and turned to exit the room.
The next day, Val went to the mess hall to speak with Staff Sergeant Driver. With Driver were his two squad leaders, Sergeants Julie Hall and Michael Raines.
"Sergeant Driver, do you mind if I sit?" asked Val.
"Sir, please do." Driver was one of the few people who liked Val. Prior to being stranded in the Delta Quadrant, Major Douglas had introduced Driver to Val. The two got along despite the Fleet-MARCO animosity. Both were from regions of an ancient state called New York. Val was from Long Island and Driver was from upstate. Both were also interested in joining the sea-going navy and serving on submarines before eventually joining Starfleet.
"Nathan, I'm sorry about Aaron," said Val. Although the Val and Driver had passed each other in the hallways, this was the first time they've spoken since Aaron Douglas' death.
"Yes, sir. We all are," said Driver somberly.
"Look, I know that Aaron - I mean, Major Douglas - wasn't a big fan of Fleet. But, I also know that he would want you guys to get along. He wouldn't want the MARCOs brawling with ship's security."
"Sir, we've never engaged the Vulcan's men," said Sergeant Hall, referring to Tuvok as the Vulcan.
"Be that as it may, you've had fights with the maquis on numerous occasions, and most of the time security had to come in to break up the fight. I can't have that anymore."
"Sir?" asked Driver, curious as to what Val meant.
"The Captain wanted to abandon the MARCOs on some desolate planet. She said you guys are completely out of control."
"It's the Captain that's out of control!" interjected Sergeant Raines.
"While I may or may not agree with the Captain's decisions, in the end, she's the captain. I had to plead with her to keep you guys on board. She said she'd do it under one condition, that you guys behave yourselves. To that end, she has appointed me as the officer overseeing the MARCOs. If you have any problems or requests, run them through me. All that I ask is that you guys refrain from the confrontations with the maquis."
"The traitors?" asked Driver.
"Yes, the traitors," said Val. "She needs them more than she needs MARCOs, or so she believes. If the fights keep going on and she needs to pick a side, the MARCOs are going to wind up on the losing end."
The three sergeants were visibly mad. To think that the captain was more worried about annoying a bunch of traitors than respecting the MARCOs.
"Understood," said Driver reluctantly. "So I guess I report to you now?" he asked.
"Not exactly," said Val. "You report to nobody. I've asked that you retain command of the MARCOs and the Captain has agreed. I'm not your commanding officer, I'm just a liaison officer. However, if and when the MARCOs have any interaction with Fleet, then yes, you report to me."
"So us MARCOs will remain an independent entity?" asked Raines.
"And the Vulcan, he's okay with this?" asked Hall.
"I don't know about Tuvok, but Janeway is."
That was the first good bit of news the MARCO sergeants had heard in a while. They heard Janeway had wanted to bring the MARCOs within the security chief's command.
As Val and the three Sergeants continued to talk, a group of about 8 maquis crewmembers strolled into the mess hall. One of them was Karen DuPont. The group sat down at a table by the viewports. About half a minute later, three MARCOs approached the newly arrived group of maquis. They seemed to have been led by Corporal Lorenzo Rodriguez. It was the same MARCO that hassled Karen DuPont over a week ago. It appeared he was going to do so again. Val didn't know the corporal's name during that first incident, but he made it a point to learn all the names after Janeway tasked him to oversee the MARCOs.
The eight maquis got up to leave, but three other MARCOs took position between the group and the exit.
"We don't want any trouble," said one of the maquis.
The maquis tried to make their way to the door, but were pushed back. As KKD passed the corporal, he reached out and grabbed her arm. Two of her colleagues attempted to free her, but the other MARCOs forcefully pushed them aside.
Val had seen enough. He got up and approached the young corporal.
"Corporal Rodriguez, unhand her this instant," said Val sternly but calmly.
"But, sir," the corporal protested.
Val cut him off. "Do it. Now."
Rodriguez let go of Karen. But with that very same hand, he formed a fist and punched Val right in the face. Val reeled back, tripped on a chair, and fell backwards onto the floor. Rodriguez simply stood there, not knowing what to do. Sergeant Driver had knelt down to check on Val.
Multiple Starfleet personnel rushed into the mess hall. At the same time, the maquis quickly removed themselves from the situation.
"MARCOs, stand at attention!" ordered Raines. He wanted to avoid further chaos.
The 6 MARCO troopers in the mess hall stood straight, eyes forward.
"Vince, are you okay?" asked Tom Paris, one of the Starfleet officers that just arrived. Paris was now scanning Val with a medical tricorder.
"Yea, I'll be fine," Val answered. For some reason, Tom called Val "Vince." Val was going to ask him about that someday.
"I'll get Tuvok to throw Rodriguez in the brig right now," said Paris. One of the bystanders in the mess hall had told Tom that Val called his assailant Corporal Rodriguez prior to the punch.
Driver was dismayed. Not that it was ever okay to fight with a Fleet crewman, but thus far, the MARCOs only had altercations with lower ranking enlisted men. This was the first time a MARCO had physically assaulted an officer, which was a much more serious offense.
"No, that won't be necessary," said Val to Tom.
"Are you sure?" asked Tom as he helped Val get up on his feet.
"Yes. Thanks Tom."
Val turned to Driver, who was now getting in the face of Corporal Rodriguez.
"Sergeant Driver," said Val. "I want you to gather each and every one of your MARCOs and wait for me in your barracks."
"Aye, sir," responded the sergeant.
The platoon sergeant addressed his men.
"You heard the lieutenant. To the barracks. Now!" he yelled.
The platoon milled about restlessly in their barracks.
Voyager's Cargo Bay 3 had been partially converted into barracks for most of the MARCOs. Major Douglas had his own quarters. The two squad leaders shared a cabin on Deck 9. The rest of the MARCOs slept in bunk beds at the barracks.
"I can't believe that every time I try to get at DuPont, that annoying squid lieutenant always gets in the way," a frustrated Rodriguez said to one of his teammates.
Corporal Rodriguez was the team leader for fire team Charlie, of the platoon's 1st Squad. Each team consisted of one corporal and three privates.
"You're lucky they didn't throw you in the brig," said one of the privates. "I can't believe you struck an officer."
Rodriguez knew better than that. During his first encounter with Val, one of the other corporals had gently pulled him away. But even if that didn't happen, he wouldn't have hit Val.
"You're lucky I don't bust you down to Private and assign a new team leader," said Sergeant Hall, Rodriguez' Squad leader. She just joined in on the discussion. She was in charge of 1st Squad, which had three teams.
Just then, Val walked into the cargo bay.
"Platoon! Atten-shun!" barked Sergeant Driver.
The 26 members of the platoon stood at attention and intently waited for their next order.
"Fall in!" said Driver.
The platoon fell into formation. Facing the platoon, Sergeant Driver saw First Squad lined up on his right side, in three rows of four, representing the three fire teams. Second Squad did the same, lining up on the left side. Usually, a platoon would have three squads, but this platoon was down-sized for the Voyager mission. The two squad leaders, Sergeants Hall and Raines, stood in front of their respective squads, facing forward.
Driver did an about face. As Val approached him, Driver did a hand salute.
"Sir, all MARCOs present and accounted for."
"Outstanding, sergeant," said Val. He returned the salute. Val approached closer to Driver and whispered. "Sergeant, you do not need to salute me. Thank you for the gesture though."
Driver nodded in acknowledgment. He did another about face so that he was facing the platoon.
Val slowly paced for a few steps, examining the platoon of MARCOs standing there.
"At ease, MARCOs."
It seemed like several of the MARCOs were hesitant. They were not accustomed to taking orders from a Fleet officer. While the MARCOs always showed courtesy and respect to Fleet officers, obeying orders was different. But, once all the MARCOs saw their two squad leaders standing at ease, the rest of the platoon followed.
Val started to address the platoon. He was slightly nervous. The last time he addressed a large number of people was back in law school when he played a judge in a court simulation. But, during officer training, his professors had said he was a relatively good speaker.
"As I was discussing with your platoon sergeant right before I was rudely punched in the face, Captain Janeway is at her wits end hearing about all the fights and mayhem some of you MARCOs have caused."
Val held up a padd and read briefly through the incident reports compiled by Lt. Tuvok.
"A total of 17 altercations between the MARCOs and the maquis. Fifteen of those were initiated by a MARCO. Out of the 27 of you standing here, 21 of you have been involved in an incident. More than half of you have been involved in multiple incidents."
After pausing for about 10 seconds and pacing a bit, Val finally gave his first order.
"This nonsense has to stop."
After another 5 seconds, Val started to explain the situation.
"Captain Janeway has made an ultimatum. If any of the MARCOs show up on an incident report again, she will maroon all of you on a nearby planet and warp away."
Val saw many of the MARCO shifting uneasily.
"I've convinced her to have a little bit more patience with all of you. To that end, she has made all of you my responsibility. If you have any problems with any members of the crew, you bring it up your chain of command and they will bring it to me. This includes any members of the maquis who are now integrated into Voyager's crew. Do I make myself clear?"
"Five by five, sir!" responded Sergeant Driver, in military jargon which meant loud and clear.
Val had expected all of the MARCOs to respond, but it was enough for him that their leader did.
Corporal Rodriguez took a step forward.
"Sir!" he said.
Walking over to the corporal, Val stopped when he was a couple feet facing him.
"Permission to speak freely?" asked the corporal.
"De-nied," said Val, forcefully. Part of him was simply trying to gauge the level of obedience of the MARCOs. Another part of him wanted to piss off the corporal.
Rejected, the corporal stepped back in line.
In a low voice, Val told the corporal, "look, if you have a real problem, I'll deal with it. Tell your sergeant and she'll come to me if she thinks it deserves my attention. Understood?"
"Yes, sir," answered Rodriguez, in an equally low voice.
Val walked back up to the front of the room. Addressing the entire platoon, he told them what he expected.
"For now, only as a temporary thing, the entire platoon is confined to decks 9 through 15. Stay away from the mess hall unless otherwise authorized. The restrictions will be lifted in the near future, but for now, I need a cooling off period so that you and the maquis have time to let your tempers die down. I will personally insist that you guys get more freedoms later on. As for now, Janeway doesn't want any MARCO to pop up on her radar. Lie low and keep to yourselves. In her exact words, she wants you to be invisible. Is that understood?"
"Sir, yes, sir!" came the unified response of the entire platoon.
"Out-Standing," said Val, speaking with a quick pause after the first syllable, like a drill sergeant he once observed had done.
"Sergeant Driver, the platoon is yours."
As the sergeant called his platoon back to attention, Val left the cargo bay/barracks.