A Testament of Character

You’ve probably looked through his files wondering if there’s more to it. Well, Mike’s pretty low key. He’s someone that goes above and beyond on any job that’s assigned. Really not the type to be talking about his own accomplishments.

Due to the high expectation and the extraordinary degree of responsibility conferred onto the office, it is typical of these assessments to compare the officer in question to some great naval figure of old. This matter is a bit easier for us shipgirls, as many have very acute knowledge of said great figures. We have also been lucky in that this particular officer has contributed significantly to a tradition of very successful commanding officers within STEC’s own activities. He’s shrewd, innovative, and open-minded. In other words, a modern day Bull Reeves.

Not many are familiar with the Langley’s first commander. Still many are unaware that Joseph “Bull” Reeves’ first assignment was on the collier Jupiter. Still fewer know just why the premier battleship tactician of the time became the Navy’s first commander in naval aviation.

The answer? He was the man for the job. Reeves was advanced four times for being an excellent engineering officer during his service on the Oregon. He carried out his assignments happily and without complaint, and was known in the navy to be a strong-willed but nonetheless capable peacemaker, able to work out differences between any men under his command. He was energetic and always pushing the limits to what the then-aviation department could achieve.

If you are seeing parallels, then I think the rest of this essay will be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Mike’s meteoric rise within the ranks of STEC is no accident, and I will only spare a few words as to how that came to be.

When Mike was first appointed to take over STEC’s shipgirl operations, you’d expect him to immediately jump in. Compared to our efficiency today, it was clear that there were significant deficiencies within our own operations. The reason why we thought reforms might be necessary was that we had suspected that our current methodology is inefficient, and that we would love for him to work the “magic” that he did shaping STEC’s subgirl force into the entire service at large.

Yet, despite this, Mike said nothing. In fact, he kept silent for the first four weeks where he spent most of his time observing and going over records of our operations instead.

One day after, though, he called every girl into the room, and bluntly asked us a few very simple questions.

“Do any of you ladies know what you’re doing?”

A few laughed.

“No, really. I mean, we all know we have to kill the Abyssals, but what’s our game plan, exactly? Do we actually have anything beyond, we’ll deal with it as they show up?”

No one had an answer. As more and more shipgirls joined the fight, it was clear to all of us that coordination of our strategies and tactics have been difficult. MERLIN’s appearance have helped tracking the Abyssals greatly, but even so, those early days were chaotic.

“Does anyone here have any idea about we could do? Better question, since I know you’ve all written the same reports as I. Does anyone here know what we can’t do? What kind of an enemy can’t we beat?”

Again, the question was met with uncomfortable silence.

“How many Abyssals can we realistically be expected to beat, with the current resources we have?

Who do we send out first, and against what sort of a threat? What is the most efficient way for us to defend the oceans? The coastlines? What is the optimal way to respond to the increasingly frequent Abyssal incursions? How should we combine our forces? How do we prepare for contingencies on missions?”

Slowly and methodically, Mike fired off a few dozen questions. Again, nobody had answers. What he said after, though, surprised all of us.

“I’m going to be honest with you all right now. The questions I just asked? Just like you, I have no idea.Truth to be told, there’s many, many questions like it that I could ask and I still won’t have answers to any of them.

That’s why we’re here, and that’s what we’re going to figure out. Until we can start to answer some of these questions in earnest, we’re not going to win this war.

So. My first formal assignment to everyone here? I want each and every one of you to go and give me a list of questions that you want answered. You have until the end of the week to deliver them to my office.”

The report Mike prepared is certainly unorthodox, as you have no doubt seen. It is literally a list of thousands of questions and the proposed solution to each one. That list is ever-growing, but the first thousand or so are the questions and concepts we started with. Within those we refined basic shipgirl operational concepts – the result of which is what you see today. STEC in its modern day.

For someone who stresses the importance of leisure and rest, Mike works relentlessly. Many counter-Abyssal operations he observed personally, taking charge and offering recommendations when necessary. STEC’s various departments were reshuffled and reorganized into groups based on explicit specialties, and concrete goals were introduced in each. Tactics became more refined as shipgirls began exercises and operations in larger and larger groups. We even built “fleet-problem” sized exercises that involved the entirety of STEC assets and every shipgirl available.

The results were tangible. Fourteen incursions, two of which are larger than any we have seen, were stopped dead in the water with no losses on our parts and zero collateral damage. Even so, Mike was not content to rest on our combined laurels. Proposal after proposal have been submitted to increase our operational capabilities, to improve our response times, and even concepts for how we can take the fight to the Abyssals themselves.

As Mike would say, credit to where it’s due. I do think a lot of times what he does go unacknowledged – believe me when I say, in my opinion, he’s done more for STEC than any other person during this critical period.