Meet the Crew: Col Olivia Shipp
Orphaned by a xenomorph outbreak as a teenager, Shipp joined the Colonial Marines. She's now fought xenos for three decades - few staff officers know humanity's foe better.
Rank: Colonel (O-6)
MOS: 8041 Colonel, Ground
Date of Birth: January 5, 2155
Olivia Shipp enlisted in the Colonial Marines on her 18th birthday, less than a year after a xenomorph outbreak on Zagreus killed the rest of her family.
Shipp had no diploma, having been educated through a mix of irregular homeschooling and colonial programs of uneven quality. However, her testing scores were exemplary, and combined with the service record of her mother - an honorably discharged Colonial Marine - this was sufficient for an exemption. She trained at MCRD Fort Matthewson, Hellas Planitia.
Shipp's long and distinguished career defies concise summary. She has fought xenomorphs on the Outer Rim and Frontier for almost 30 years, and is one of the Corps' most capable field commanders.
The Katanga Outbreak
In 2177, Shipp was a Corporal aboard USS Typhoon, a 20 year-old Nassau-class Attack Transport. Returning from a deep patrol, the ship intercepted a distress signal in the Mid Rim. Her unit found survivors of a Seegson colony huddled aboard the orbital refinery Katanga. The colonists had fled a Xenomorph outbreak on the surface, but after escaping to the refinery, some of them proved to be "impregnated."
The situation was exacerbated by a troubled employee with a grudge against his managers, who insisted he could solve the infestation. When rejected, he overrode Katanga's computers and blew up the Marine dropships.
Shipp and her Marines escorted the remaining survivors through the refinery, from their shelter at the top of Likasi Tower to the shuttle hangars at the base of Bashi Tower. Along the route she fended off xenomorph attacks and the young man's attempts to turn the refinery's machinery against them.
Upon successfully evacuating to the Typhoon using the refinery shuttles, Colonial Marine reinforcements arrived. Shipp's unit retired, and Katanga was reported scuttled. For her initiative, leadership, and dedication to preserving civilian lives, Shipp was awarded the Marine Commendation Medal.
OCS and Command Track
In 2179, Shipp applied for the USCM Enlisted to Officer Program. Though she lacked the formal educational requirements, she scored in the 98th percentile on the AFQT, and her unique expertise with Xenomorph XX121 was recognized by her superiors.
She attended OCS Happy Days on Helene and placed near the top of her cadre. During field exercises on the outer system mining settlement of Dažbog, her insights into the physiology and behavior of the native "sand lice" saved the lives of several comrades.
In 2198, while a Lieutenant Colonel in command of 1st Battalion, 44th Colonial Marine Regiment, Shipp responded to the xenomorph outbreak at Cabrakan (HR 810 b14). Arriving after the withdrawal of Weyland-Yutani security and the destruction of UAS Attu, she coordinated an orderly evacuation of survivors from 3rd Battalion, 42nd Colonial Marines.
When all possible civilians had been rescued, Shipp followed up with a nuclear bombardment of the southern continent to prevent any spread of xenomorphs. Unusually, she assumed the Gunnery Officer's post aboard the attack transport USS Arica during this operation. Shipp's XO noted in the regimental battle history that, "Having concluded the only solution to the infestation was extreme measures against civilian settlements, the Lieutenant Colonel determined that no Marine under her command should share the moral or legal burden of that decision. Accordingly, she personally executed the firing solution."
Given the unprecedented scope of loss, Shipp spent most of 2198 beached for lengthy closed-door hearings with military and civilian leaders. At the conclusion, the Colonial Marine Corps confirmed her decision was "appropriate given the resources at her disposal, and grave consequences of any failure to fully resolve the escalating situation."
In 2101, Shipp was promoted to full Colonel and assigned command of the 33rd Marine Regiment, 11th Marine Division. She transferred back to the Frontier with the 2nd Battalion, assigned to UAS Endeavor to form the 40th Marine Expeditionary Unit.
Throughout her career, Colonel Shipp has maintained a keen personal interest in xenobiology. She is likely the Colonial Marines' foremost expert on the physiology and behavior of Xenomorph XX121. It is no secret that is the result of her unique upbringing. As the child of two professional xenobiologists, by age 17 she had seen more worlds than most humans visit in a lifetime. Further, she had received professional credit for cataloguing a number of previously undocumented species.
Beyond that, my interactions with Colonel Shipp are largely of a personal nature, and not appropriate for entry in an official record. As commanding officer of our Marine Expeditionary Unit, she has few people she can interact with on a casual and informal level. As I am classified as "equipment," and technically outside the chain of command, she is free to discuss subjects with me that would not be appropriate between a commander and a subordinate. I have no desire to jeopardize our relationship.
However, I would like to note Colonel Shipp is one of few humans I have been able to interact with as a true equal. She has no suspicion of synthetic motivations and loyalty, nor any uncomfortable excess of admiration for our capabilities, nor any subtle prejudices against human-created intelligence. It is refreshing to speak with someone who understands how synthetic sapience differs from human sapience, but regards it as neither superior nor inferior.
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