Wednesday, May 18, 2011

ME1 - One's Own Crew, Part 1

Meriel has taken on a large number of companions but knows next to nothing about them.  With conflict looming on the horizon, that needs to change very quickly.

There are spoilers after the break.  Continue reading at your own risk.

Meriel's Journal, Entry Nine

Location: The Normandy - Captain's Office
Active Companions: None

Taking over command of a ship with an already well established crew is a daunting task at best.  Add an all-new, hitherto unknown crew and a daunting Council appointed mission into the mix and I'm beginning to feel like I have a bit of a mess on my hands.  My new Spectre status makes things a great deal easier on one front because I now have licence to do things my way, willfully ignoring political red-tape along the way, and there isn't a great deal that Ambassador Udina or anyone else can do about it.  On the other hand, it means that the rest of the Normandy's crew, who already tiptoes around me, now has to deal with the fact that Spectre status makes me a bit of wild card.  It sure doesn't help me reputation any.  I remember writing not too long ago that I disliked Nihlus'  presence on board because he was an unknown quantity.  With only the Council to reign in his actions, something I have learned that they are loathe to do, there was nothing else to check his actions or keep him in line.  You had no way of knowing what he would do, and if he did something you disliked there was no real way to address that issue.  His was personally an enviable position, but it placed everyone else in an awkward situation.  Keeping this in mind it seems to me that the first order of business, before  I pursue any aspect of the Council's mission at all, is to interact with my crew.  Not only does this establish a relationship of sorts with those I do not know, but it also gives them a feel for me.  If they can see where I am coming from then maybe they will trust my command more, and we will work together better as an actual team.  This is a bit awkward because it means I have to express compassion for their individual situations without looking weak, all the while conveying some level of confidence in them without subverting my position as Spectre-in-charge.  Unfortunately for them, Personnel Relations has never really been my thing.  Here is to hoping that I don't screw things up too badly. 

 Meriel's Journal, Entry Ten

Location: The Normandy
Active Companions: None

Well let's just say that things could have been worse.  For some unknown reason both Alenko and Williams are giving me the cold shoulder.  Alenko wouldn't even give me the time of day and completely brushed me off when I tried to get feedback on last mission.  Maybe he is still upset about the way I dealt with Jenkins' death?  I can't help it if he expected me to suddenly drop everything to mourn after Jenkins stupidly rushed into action and got himself killed, but I did at least express regret for his death after I woke up post-beacon in the infirmary.  I'm not quite sure what is going on here, but I can't let Alenko keep shutting me out.  He doesn't have to like me, but if he expects to find himself in the field he had better start communicating.

Williams also proved to be a woman of few words, but she at least has a very good reason.  Namely ... her entire team was just slaughtered before her very eyes back on Eden Prime.  I for one am glad to have Williams on board, she seems to be the dependable type, and am happy to give her room to grieve within reason.  She told me that she wished I had arrived sooner on Eden Prime, and in her shoes I'm sure that I would feel the same way.  Sensing that Williams was not in a good frame of mind I decided to leave her to work through things on her own.  At least she, unlike Alenko, expressed a desire to speak with me later.  I'll probably keep her off the next mission so that she has time to collect herself, but after that Williams needs to start focusing on the matter at hand.

They say that things happen in threes, and Wrex's initial lack of desire to speak with me at first seemed like it would mirror my previous conversations.  What is with people (and non-humans) today?  Once I actually got him talking (beyond badmouthing "the Turian" across the room), however, it was a completely different story.  Most of the information he shared dealt with the genophage bioweapon which has infected his homeworld  and his people.  The genophage has made it all but impossible for Krogans to breed and his race is dying out.  Wrex is understandably a bit touchy about the entire issue, and our conversation got a bit tense at times when we didn't see eye to eye, but overall I'm happy with the way our talk went.  I can't say I trust him, he does after all generally operate as a paid mercenery and I'm not certain that you can ever trust anyone whose loyalty can be bought.  That said, Wrex appears to opperate within a strict set of personal ethics and he has already proven himself to be a dedicated fighter.  For the moment I'm glad that he is on board, but I'll still be keeping an eye on him until I better understand his reason for being here.

If my conversation with Wrex was rocky, then the one I had with Garrus was smooth-sailing.  Of all the people (and non-humans ... do I really need to keep entering this qualifier?) I have personally brought on board, he is quite possibly the one I relate to the most.  Garrus is unapologetically forward and his motivations are very clear.  I told him that I hoped he would not regret giving up his position on the Citadel in order to follow me and Saren.  Garrus said that he enjoyed his job with C-Sec on Citadel Station, but only until he rose through its ranks and red tape began to tie him down.  The debacle that was the Council's investigation into Saren was the last straw, and he is now more than happy to be going after Saren personally.  He hopes that without C-Sec headquarters looking over his shoulder all the time that he can finally get things done his way for once.  Since we have similar goals and similar methods, I told him that he could act as he saw fit as long as it did not interfere with my orders or my mission.  His vendetta cannot get in the way of our ultimate goal.  He agreed, and as we closed out the conversation my heart felt a bit lighter.  I appreciate Garrus' candor and look forward to working with him in the field. 

A quick trip to the engine room, and a consultation with Engineer Adams later, I discovered that Tali will undoubtedly be useful on ship.  She has been spending a great deal of time contemplating and studying the Normandy's core, and was delighted to discuss her observations with me.  To be honest I'm not used to people being so eager to converse with me; and her openness about Quarian social structure, technology, social practices, and responsibility for the geth leaves me rather flummoxed.  Don't get me wrong, she seems very genuine and I'm glad that she is so willing to discuss these matters (especially her people's history with the geth) so readily.  I just have no clue what to do with all of it.  With her.  With everything.  And am completely out of my depth here.  It will be difficult to maintain some kind of professional distance if Tali is always like this.  That of course begs the question as to whether professional distance is important, but I have always maintained that it is.  That distance makes it easier when difficult decisions arise, as they undoubtedly will on this mission, because you do not have emotional attachments tying you down.  My beliefs on the matter could, of course, change but for the moment I do not see a reason why they should.  I need to sit down and figure out how Tali's presence on the Normandy should be handled.  For now, since Engineer Adams is pleased by her presence, she can stay in the engine room with him.  Her knowledge of the geth makes her a valuable addition to our team, but I need to figure out a strategy for conversing with her before we talk one-on-one again.

While he isn't exactly new to the crew, I finished up my tour of the ship with Joker.  I've already stated multiple times that he clearly knows more than he lets on and it is always good to have a keen eye like that on board.  I have a great deal of respect for him, and of all the people on board I am certainly the most fond of him ... in a purely platonic way of course.  Something I did not know before this afternoon though was how incredibly touchy he can be about his job.  I had been unaware that he has a disease which renders his bone structure exceedingly fragile, and he seems to feel set upon should anyone mention anything even remotely related to this issue.  I understand that Joker feels threatened by inquiry into his condition and is afraid that someone will use it as an excuse to replace him with someone else.  Unfortunately his sensitivity about this issue led to a rather tense exchange of words between us.  Now that the air is cleared though, and he is aware that I only care about how well he does his job (he is the best), things should run much more smoothly from here on out.  Some things need discussing even if the process is not the prettiest, and I think that this was one of those situations.  Alenko should get that chip off of his shoulder and take a page out of Joker's book.  Things will be difficult enough without his personal issues complicating team dynamics.

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