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An Old Face in a New Place

Posted on 29 May 2023 @ 8:18pm by Commander Terry Walsh & Admiral Zachary O'Connell

1,562 words; about a 8 minute read

Mission: Return to Razmena
Location: Gamma Command
Timeline: June 5, 2390 || 1000 hours

Rumors had always spread through a starbase like the Rigellian Flu. And that’s all they were, rumors. That is until the new transfers into the Wing slowed to a crawl. Then his inquiries into the rest of the starfighters to make up the Wing were met with negative responses. Terry had a feeling that his Fighter Wing wasn’t the only department that was facing this dilemma. He hoped he could get some real answers from Admiral O’Connell. And that’s why he was currently sitting in the waiting room outside the Admiral’s office, a face-to-face. Granted, he was early for his appointment, but maybe he could get in a little early, get some things cleared up and quell some rumors.

Terry was not in the anteroom alone for long. A minute after his arrival, the outer doors parted, allowing Admiral O’Connell and Warrant Officer Tanika to enter. “The sheer fucking hubris of Clancy…” he muttered, noticing only after that that his next appointment was there waiting. “Get Salire down here. I’ll need to brief him after I take care of Commander Walsh here.”

Tanika nodded and moved for her desk. Her normally neutral expression was absent, replaced with one of frustration.

“With me, Commander,” Zachary said, leading the way into his office.

This didn’t look at all like rumors. Damn, can’t be good. “Right behind you, Admiral,” said Terry.

Once inside his office, Zach made a beeline for the sitting area, a pair of semi-circle couches that orbited a glass table with a built in replicator. Behind one of the couches, however, stood a small wet bar. “Care for a drink, Commander?”

Terry followed the Admiral to the sitting area. He was glad for this rather than to be seated across the desk. Less formal calmed his slightly agitated nerves. “Kinda early for the strong stuff,” said Terry as he sat down. “Though if the rumors are true, a shot of the strong stuff might not be a bad idea.”

Zach poured himself a double of whiskey, then looked up at the Commander. He sized the bald one up a bit and poured a second double. “I suppose it depends on the rumors you’ve heard.” The Admiral picked up both glasses and extended one to Terry. “Enlighten me.”

Terry took the double whiskey in hand. “Whispers in the dark. People are saying that we’re not getting personnel like we were. And that supplies are hard to requisition. I brushed them off until I started getting negative responses from Starfleet Command regarding the rest of the fighters for the Wing. I knew it would be tough out here in the Gamma Quadrant for the base, but damn. It’s like trying to get a Vulcan to laugh.” He took a drink of whiskey. Good stuff.

Zachary gestured at the couch opposite his own stance. Before waiting for Terry to take a seat, the Admiral sat down and sipped his own drink. “I don’t normally drink during the day, but today… Commander, you and I haven’t served together, but we’ve been through a lot. The Consortium. Strange shit in the quadrant, and now this. Starfleet feels that with the rise of piracy, Dominion complacency, and the urgent need to reinforce the Alpha Quadrant… they’ve decided to slash material and personnel further. Why bother having a strong presence in Gamma when our reputation is tarnished, and even the Dominion won’t respect us. They’ll take care of New Bajor because of the Bajorans, but that’s it. And now, I’m to reallocate an entire task group to the Bajoran sector.”

Terry took another sip and shook his head. “Yeah, there’s been a lot happen over the years. But cutting back, I never expected to see that in my lifetime. Let alone moving an entire task group, you say. Does that mean we’ll take up residence at a new station and abandon this one? Or will they scrap it for parts as it’s not quite done yet?”

The Admiral shook his head. “No, they’ll keep it for now. Hell, if I’m not careful, they might just gift the damn thing to the Dominion. Not on my watch though.” He sipped the whiskey, then leaned forward. “I brought you out here on a wing and a prayer. I thought that setting up a nice camp here, roll out these humanitarian benefits… we’d start restoring Starfleet’s reputation. Which, I can’t believe that not even Starfleet cares about us out here. No… this battle has to be fought on the front lines. I need you back out there, Terry.”

He listened to the Admiral and took another sip. Restoring Starfleet’s reputation was a good plan, but he was right. They seemed to just not care about them anymore. If he hadn’t been paying attention, he’d almost have choked at that last bit. “Out there?” A thousand thoughts ran through his mind in that instant, two of which he voiced. “Exactly what do you mean ‘out there,’ Sir? A transfer? Representing the Wing?”

“I need experienced eyes and ears out there. We need to find out what’s happening and fix it. I’m redistributing the wing. Most of the squadrons will be placed throughout. But you…” Zachary paused. “I’ve got the perfect assignment for you. It’s an immediate need, and a CO you’re familiar with. How do you feel about working with Geisler again?”

Terry sat in stunned silence for a full minute. He never expected to be back on a ship so soon. And he never expected that ship to be commanded by Harvey Geisler. “I feel great about it, Admiral. But, I came from there as his Executive Officer. He already has one of those, doesn’t he?”

Zachary nodded, but only after a sip of whiskey. “John Reynolds. Former security, and smart. I got plenty of those in this quadrant though. No, what Geisler doesn’t have is a Squadron Commander.” The Admiral shook his head. “I know, after everything you’ve been through, it sounds like a demotion. I’ll make sure it won’t look like it on paper. The wing… never got activated. You were here as a Mission Advisor. Hell, if need be, we’ll call the tour on the ‘Hawk a TAD.”

Terry was nodding through the whole thing. “You’re right,” he said, “it does sound like a demotion. But I also know that we all have our jobs to do. And with Starfleet…being Starfleet lately, it’s hard sometimes to do them. Like you said, we haven’t served together, but we’ve been through a lot. You wouldn’t have those pips if you didn’t know what you were doing. So I trust you, Sir, to do your job. And I trust you to make it look good on paper. Mission Advisor sounds good,” he added with a congenial smile

He sipped the whiskey and continued. “Squadron Commander on the Black Hawk under Captain Geisler. It’ll be almost like going home. Almost because the Black Hawk is now an uprated Akira-class, right?”

“You’ve been keeping track.” Zach smiled. He set his drink on the table and looked Terry in the eye. “I’m glad you’re on board. You’ve got one week to help me spread these squadrons out, and then you ship out to the Black Hawk. You’ll find her out near Gavara and Starbase Unity. You better take a bird with you too.”

Terry grinned widely. “I still have some friends over there. Haven’t talked to them since I left, but I still wanted to keep up via mission reports and such. Anyway, yeah…uh, yes Sir…I’m on board. I’ll put together some recommendations for spreading out the Wing and have it to you in a couple of days. That should give plenty of time to sort out changes before you issue their orders.” He paused a second. “Gavara and Unity, huh. That brings back some memories. I do appreciate the use of a Valkyrie for getting there, too.”

“Best you keep that Valkyrie,” the Admiral cautioned. “There’s something else going on out there. I can’t quite put my finger on it… it’s not Dominion. And I don’t think it’s pirates. If I know Harvey, and I think you do too, he’s going to fly that little ship of his right into the middle of it.”

Terry laughed. “I can’t picture anything else, Admiral. Best he have a good pilot for his squadron when the proverbial shit hits the fan. So I will indeed keep the Valkyrie. And I’ll keep a watch for out of the ordinary things…pirates and Dominion and all. You never know what’s going to crop up since mom and dad have left the kids to play in the back forty. Er, since Starfleet has left us alone out here. Apologies, Admiral.”

The Admiral lifted his glass and sipped his whiskey. “Apologies be damned, Commander. Just know that we’re all counting on you and the Black Hawk. The fate of our presence in the Gamma Quadrant literally depends on it. Good luck.”


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