The Drunken Sailor Pub was one of those out-of-the-way locations on Starbase 75 that rarely attracted Starfleet unless you were part of the station. It was managed by an aging human of Irish descent and his younger, by a good three decades, and decidedly greener Orion wife. There were rumors that the couple was tied to the Orion Syndicate, but if they were, the evidence so far had slipped right under the noses of station security. Other than a few shady dealings by some of the clientele, the couple was upstanding citizens.
Captain Fitzpatrick had introduced Rebecca to the pub a year ago back when Starfleet had been at war with the Klingons because of their shared heritage to Ireland. She found an odd connection to the tiny little man behind the bar. The way his white hair poked out from the sides of his flat-topped cap and a twinkle in his eye reminded her of her grandfather. When Fitzpatrick and the bartender would get into some heated debate, it would bring her back to those rare Christmases when her mom was home from Starfleet, and they would spend a week in Ireland.
Now that Fitzpatrick was dead, Rebecca hoped her former captain would appreciate a memorial service being held for him in this Pub. She had rented out the whole location for the service, and it was packed with the crew of the Denver. At the foot of the expansive windows was a table with photos of all the crew that they had lost. Twenty-two, to be exact. A great many of them were from engineering. The still faces smiling back in their fray, black, and mustard-yellow uniforms. There was something macabre about those last photos of young officers with their whole careers ahead of them. Then in only a few short weeks, and in some cases days later, they would be dead. War wasn’t fair, and Rebecca hated it for that.
Cheon placed a hand on his wife’s shoulder. She turned and smiled up at him. He then looked at Rebecca, “This feels off,” he said to her as he looked at what was left of the crew. “The place is heavy with feelings of grief and sadness. I will not be ill with any that decide not to return to the Denver,” he said to her.
“We still have a ship that needs to be operational. We are at war Cheon,” Rebecca replied. “In a normal situation, I would be inclined to agree, but this goes to the heart of the matter. We need to replace the engineering team. There are no officers available. I was able to get two NCOs, and the rest are straight out of A.I.T. Mr. Lovecroft is going to have to promote within, and we just can’t afford to lose any more from the engineering team.”
“Speaking of which,” Cheon nodded with his head as a hulk of a man walked in.
Burkely ducked under the top of the door that led into the Drunken Sailor Pub. His massive frame blocked out the light from outside for a moment until he moved away from the door and walked over to where Cheon, his wife, and their new Captain stood. As he moved closer, he came to a sudden stop.
“C.c.c.captain?” he stammered as he realized who had replaced Fitzpatrick.
“Yes, Hulk, captain. We were just discussing you. Well, more specifically, we were discussing your department and how short-handed it is.”
He nodded to Rebecca, “Yes, indeed Engineering took a hard hit when the attack started. I am lucky to have had a very bright young crewman that survived to assist me in keeping the ship intact for the most part. I believe she deserves to be promoted, even if she herself doesn’t see it,” Burkely stated as he looked into his captain’s eyes.
Cheon looked at Burkely, “You are going to probably need to teach some fresh members from both Starfleet Academy and Starfleet Enlisted Training Command. And if we’re lucky, Starfleet Advanced Training Command to fill out the Engineering ranks. I will leave that up to you, Commander,” Cheon stated as he walked over to Burkely and removed the black pip that sat next to the other two silver pips and replaced it with a single silver pip. “You have proven that you can command your department with the leadership that it deserves, and I am certain that Captain Talon here will not object to my promoting you to full Commander,” he states as he looks back at Rebecca with eyes that stated that he was going to bring this up to her but thought it best to do this now in the light of all that was going on.
I would have preferred to have been consulted first, Rebecca thought, “No, not at all. Mr. Burkely has already demonstrated himself admirably as a second officer. To that end, there are no officers currently available to add to your engineering team. I spoke with Admiral Dailey and he has authorized a battlefield promotion to Ensign any of your enlisted NCOs to serve as your Assistant Chief Engineer.”
“Thank you, Captain,” Burkely said as he stood there receiving his promotion from Cheon.
Thomas walks into the pub a minute after the engineer. He looks around and sees the Captain and the other bridge crew talking and walks up right after the promotion goes through. “Congrats Commander. I know I am new around here, but it seems to me like you have earned the promotion.”
“Stick around Lieutenant, and I am sure that even you will find your place amongst us on the Denver,” Lovecroft stated as he placed a hand on Thomas’ shoulder. “In the meantime please,” he picks up a glass of bourbon and hands it to him. “Enjoy.”
After handing Thomas his glass he then hands one to Cheon, Seong, and the Captain. When everyone had a glass or a shot he picked up his own shot.
“To the Captain!” He yelled as slammed back the shot and then slammed the shot glass on the table with a resounding clang. “May he finally find that peace in the stars.” Burkely then turned to Rebecca. “The ship is your Captain Talon.”
Rebecca stepped forward. She hated speeches and liked memorial speeches even less. “The Captain brought me here to this pub shortly after joining the Denver. Like we are today we are in the middle of a war. There’s a lot to be sad about, and even more to worry about. Deep Space Nine is in the hands of the Dominion. Hell, we got our butts handed to us just recently, and that’s why we are here right now. I know the Captain and the rest of our late crewmates would appreciate us all coming together to remember them. Their families will be heartened to know that they will be remembered by friends and colleagues. So, I’ll leave you with the same words the Captain said to me right here in this bar, ‘Keep your chin up. Polish your boots. Do everything you can with things you can control, and don’t worry about surviving. That’s out of your control. Until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore, you will not know the terror of being forever lost at sea’.” She raised her glass, “To fallen heroes, and lost friends. Ad Astra Per Aspera!”
Burkely looked at his covered left forearm and a single tear escaped his eye. Under the long sleeve of his dress uniform was the tattoo, that he had gotten a short while after taking the Denver as his first and currently only assignment. After hearing Rebecca say “Ad Astra Per Aspera”, he remembered how he had gotten the tat in the first place.
After swallowing hard he looked up at Rebecca and the crew.
“Ad Astra Per Aspera!” he belted out as he raised a freshly refilled shot glass.