“Captain’s star log, March twenty-first, twenty-one-fifty-seven. It’s been over a month and a half since our successful mission in removing the Romulan presence on Akaali. Since then the crew have continued to get used to the refit and our convoy duty has gone without a hitch, until two days ago. A communication from Starfleet has caused some upset among the senior staff. Commodore Paulsen has now arrived on the Poseidon to shed further light and I am hoping to persuade her to aid me in convincing Starfleet to change their minds.”
Endeavour had welcomed the arrival of the Poseidon and the two ships had docked side by side while continuing to move across the void of space, leading the convoy back to the core territory of the Commonwealth.
As Commodore Paulsen was his former captain and her ship his last assignment, Campbell had felt it would be bad form if he didn’t meet his superior at the airlock and escorted her through the ship to somewhere private.
Paulsen, as ever, did not lose her commanding and strong presence. Even with a war on, her excellent balanced leadership skills, which sat between encouragement and firmness, made her someone that was popular among her crew and those she worked with. Her witty charm complimented her intelligence, so she was without a doubt one of the few “all-rounders” that kept an optimistic approach when on and off duty. This aurora that she had made her one of the best role models to so many in the fleet. It wasn’t surprising when Starfleet made her a commodore that would be active in the field that none of her fellow captains had an issue in following her orders. To Campbell it felt like old times and that brought a sense of comfort in what he was doing, knowing she wasn’t far away and she would be someone who would either listen with care to his problem or give him some tough love to get on with his job.
Campbell had emulated a lot of her gestures, sayings and her approach during his first six months of being Endeavour’s captain. Since his return and the ship’s relaunch/refit, he was finding himself assimilating these traits borrowed from his mentor and now exhibiting more of his own approaches to what came his way as a commanding officer. Nevertheless he was pleased to see his former mentor and good friend.
Stepping through the airlock with a very warm friendly smile, the commodore broke protocol and gave Campbell a hug and a friendly welcome kiss on the cheek. “It’s good to see you Ollie.” She said after their embrace. Linking her arm into his, their familiarity with one another was no surprise to anyone on the crew that knew of their past. The commodore kept on smiling as they started to walk along the corridor. “Let’s go find somewhere to chat quietly.” She suggested.
Agreeing with her idea, Campbell said he knew the perfect place and led her towards the conference room on the other side of the deck. He had already had his yeoman setup the room just for the two of them. The trip from the docking port to the conference room wasn’t long so they soon arrived and when they entered Paulsen immediately smiled at the effort that Campbell had gone in preparing a steamy pot of black coffee for her, a teapot for him and a tray of her favourite pastries: cinnamon swirls with extra icing.
“Are you trying to bribe me Ollie?” She asked as she took a seat at the head of the large rectangular curved edge table.
“Sweetening you up is more like it.” Campbell answered as he began pouring her a mug of coffee. “And it’s not resequenced coffee either. My chef had several crates of coffee put into storage and set aside for when we had VIPs.”
“You certainly are trying to bribe me.” Paulsen said as she picked up the sweet pastry and placed it on a napkin. “So, let’s talk.”
“Yes, lets.” Campbell said as he passed her the mug and started to make his own mug of tea. “Where shall we start?”
With a slight mouthful of pastry, Paulsen picked up her mug and tried to finish what she was chewing before speaking up. “Come on Ollie, we’ve known each other long enough not to beat around the bush. You’re pissed at the transfer orders you’ve received.” Taking a swig of her coffee she looked at Campbell and could see from his reaction she was right.
Leaning back in his chair, after sitting down, Campbell picked up his tea. “Yeah, to put it so bluntly I am. This ship has gone through so many staff changes since I’ve taken command and I’m trying to break in a number of inexperienced enlisted crewmembers who have not served on a vessel while getting used to new systems.”
Pulling her pastry apart, Paulsen nodded to show she understood. “Yeah, I get it Ollie but I’m going to say five words to you that you will hear from every other bureaucrat back at Starfleet Command…”
“There’s a war going on.” Campbell said before sipping on his tea. He soon realised that Paulsen was going to give him some tough love today. “It’s just ridiculous Diane, surely there’s something you can do for me?”
“Like what?” Paulsen questioned him with her voice going up a notch or two. “I can’t stop the transfers from happening or slow them down.” She added.
“Diane, I’m losing my first officer and chief engineer along with my chief science officer, chief armoury officer and MACO commander. That also doesn’t count for several others who are leaving but I don’t appear to be getting any replacements for, especially in the science department.” Campbell complained. “And to top it all off, those who are going to be replaced I don’t get a say in their successors at all. The admiralty have decided for me and it feels like my first day back in command when I had limited choices on who I could have.”
Smirking a bit, Paulsen finished another part of her pastry and shook her head to herself.
“What?” Campbell questioned her on her gesture.
Picking up her mug again, Paulsen placed it in her lap before answering. “I’m remembering a former first officer of mine that was plucked away from me within an instant over a year ago and I had no choice in his successor either. Again, I had to deal with losing him and several others all within a space of twenty-four hours.”
“That was different.” Campbell countered back quickly with a smirk in regards to the reference of him being pulled from the Poseidon after receiving a battlefield promotion to captain of Endeavour. “The Battle of Sol had taken its toll on the fleet, everyone had to step up and into new roles as per Fleet Admiral Hathaway’s orders.”
“And those orders have not changed or been rescinded in any way and the war rages on.” Paulsen said as she drank more of her coffee. “That really is superb coffee.” She remarked as she placed the mug down on the table. “Ollie, all of us are having to give up good people for the war effort. I’ve not only lost my finest first officer but in the past year and a half the Poseidon has had half of its senior staff transferred and promoted to other positions. While trying to lead one of the fronts, I’ve had to break in a new senior staff by myself. It’s not easy, especially when they’re not quite what you expect but people’s experiences are needed elsewhere.”
“It’s ridiculous.” He complained as he picked up his pastry. “How the hell are we meant to win this war if people’s orders keep on changing. We’re getting pulled here, there and everywhere.”
“I agree, it’s not helpful but it’s the only solution to ensure we win this war and avoid losing so many good and experienced souls. From what I know three of them are heading off to train others which is exactly what we need. Rohan, I hear, is heading to the Proxima Shipyards to oversee the construction of six ships, two of them are upgrades and refurbishments of other NX-class ships to Columbia-class. His experience in overseeing Endeavour’s upgrades will assist greatly with those projects and he can share his knowledge with the chief engineers on those ships.”
“Yeah but that’s experience I may need here.” Campbell said with a slight mouthful.
Ignoring him, Paulsen carried on. “Wilcox is heading to Starfleet Training Command on Earth to teach those new eager officers we are putting through the advanced fast track courses. Her experience of being in space will make a difference with those who are going to follow in her footsteps by running other armoury departments.”
Campbell repeated almost the same argument. “Again, her experience is needed here for when we engage the enemy.”
“You can’t blame Jaylan and Bruce for wanting to return home to their daughter either. I know it’s not great they’re leaving so early on, but would both you and Flynn leave a child behind while going to war with no guarantees you’ll both survive and return?” Paulsen questioned. “Again, both of them are qualified instructors for STC and are returning to their faculties to ensure those coming through the ranks remember that Starfleet isn’t a military organisation first, we’re here to explore and when this war is over that’s what we need to be doing.”
“I just wished one of them could have stayed.” He remarked. “That’s saying a lot about them from me by the way, especially with Bruce.”
Rolling her eyes, as she knew of the history that Campbell had with both science officers, Paulsen moved on. “And finally Major al-Basir’s transfer is an urgent one. Surely even you can see that one.” Paulsen said with a serious tone as she took another sip of her coffee. “It’a decision that will make a big difference to the security arrangements the MACOs are trying to sort out. She’s taking on the responsibility of helping run an entire battalion of MACOs being assigned to the new Starfleet and MACO base on Vega. That’s over a thousand soldiers she will have the authority for while they create a state-of-the-art stronghold there.”
Every reason that Paulsen had listed didn’t make the idea of losing these fine officers any easier to digest. Campbell finished what he was eating and realised that his campaign of trying to keep them had come to an end. “Is there any good news you can share with me?”
“Well yes, actually.” Paulsen said. “One, at the moment I don’t think you’re getting a replacement for the major, so Flynn will need to fill in as acting detachment commander. But the other replacements are on the Poseidon now, ready to transfer over. And two, I’m here to relieve you of your convoy duty.” She pulled out a computer tablet from the small leather suitcase she had walked in with and passed it to Campbell.
“What?” Campbell said as he looked at it. “How come? We were meant to be taking this convoy all the way back to Earth.”
“Poseidon needs an overhaul of her plasma injectors and Starbase One couldn’t help, so we’re heading to the Copernicus Shipyards for a quick layover, so it makes sense that we finish off this leg of your journey plus I’ve not seen my husband for several months. He owes me a wedding anniversary dinner. In the meantime, I want you to head to Starbase One and assist Captain O’Brien with further patrols near the Romulan border.” Paulsen explained.
Somewhat pleased that convoy duty was coming to an end and he could see his friend, the commander of Starbase One, but on the other hand he knew he had failed in trying to stop these transfers. “Understood.” He remarked almost glumly. “Anything I need to know about my new members?”
“You’re first officer appears to be highly experienced and will without a doubt cover up for your losses in the science department. The other two will be promoted to lieutenant commander on their appointment to Endeavour. I suggest you find a way to get them acclimated with the Endeavour. Those patrols are going to need Endeavour and its crew working as a well-oiled machine.”
“Understood. We’ll throw a welcome and promotion party.” Campbell said, still in an annoyed tone at what was happening. “Anything else I should know about our patrols or the area?”
“Except that the Romulans are still giving us plenty of breathing space since your little removal of them at Akaali, there’s nothing else to report.” Paulsen said before finishing her coffee. “I know there’s been some increase in sightings of Orion raiders near to the Kreetassan border but they appear to be giving us and any other coalition vessel a wide berth for now.”
“So it should be relatively quiet for a bit longer.” Campbell commented.
“Let’s hope so.” Paulsen said and she stood up. “Seriously, Ollie take it from me that you’re doing a great job here on Endeavour. You’ll be fine with these new additions.”
“Thanks Diane, I appreciate you listening to my moaning.” Ollie said as he too stood up, taking her cue the meeting was over. “It’s good to see you again.”
“Likewise.” She said as she leant in to give him another hug. “Give that husband of yours a hug from me.”
As they let go of their embrace, he returned the sentiment. “Likewise.”
“Don’t worry about walking me to the docking port, I can make my own way back. You’ve got new crewmembers to prepare for.”
Appreciating her offer, Campbell said his goodbye to his friend and watched as she left the room. Turning to look out of the large oval-shaped windows, he could see the convoy of Earth cargo ships surrounding the Endeavour. He’d be glad to see the back of these. Sighing to himself, he then went over to the nearest intercom panel on the wall and called for Wishmore and Knight to join him in the conference room on the double.