Starbase Bravo – Personnel Offices – 0800
It had been two weeks. He had been to Earth and stood at each funeral. Some he had been asked to lead. Others he had simply stood there in dress uniform, in solemnity. Most of the parents spoke with him and were understanding. Three refused to look at him and made noise about going up the chain of command to address his failures as a commanding officer. He had stood there and taken it. He had accepted his role in the deaths of fifty of his crew. An astronomical loss. So much so that he had spent several days being debriefed by several levels of Starfleet Command. He had been back a day from burying each of them and he’d been summoned to the Personnel Office first thing the next morning. So he sat, PADD in hand. Waiting. He wasn’t sure what awaited him.
“Commander Harris? You may come with me.” He walked with her through a door, down a hallway, and into a medium-sized office.
An officer in command red stood at a desk, reading something. He glanced up, “Ah, yes. Please do have a seat. Thank you, Ensign.” The escorting officer gave a nod and was gone. Harris took the offered seat before the desk. The officer took his seat and returned to his PADD. He was a Captain, the rank pips showed. Before Ambrose could ask a question, he was handed a PADD from the captain, “My name is Captain Geronimo Fontana. My service record is there for your review. I’ve been assigned to assist you with the command of the USS Edinburgh.”
Harris snapped his head up, “I’m sorry, sir…assigned?”
Fontana nodded, “You’re actions during the final situation lead to the death of fifth souls. Starfleet feels you need further…mentoring as a commanding officer. It’s impossible for Command to ignore a situation like this and not do…something.”
Ambrose was stymied. He searched for the right words but nothing but four-letter words came to mind. He took a breath and replied, “I’m…trying to wrap my head around this…am I no longer the commanding officer of the Edinburgh?”
“You will be temporarily reduced in role to First Officer. You will report to me and work with me at all times going forward. As we work through the mentoring process of ensuring your understanding of the command role, I will be giving regular reports to Starfleet Command. Their hope is that within a few months they’ll be willing to return the Edinburgh to you and have you back in full command.” He gestured to the PADD, “The refit and repair work on the Edinburgh will take most of July, so you will still be off duty per Starfleet Command’s orders. Your expected return date is listed there as well.”
Harris read the contents of the PADD and looked up at Fontana, “Captain…I’m…at a real loss here. I readily accept the deaths of my officers as my responsibility. This doesn’t seem like it’s designed to help me…it feels like a punishment. Where did this order come from?”
Fontana shook his head, “That is not something that will be discussed, Commander. You have your orders. I have mine. I encourage you to use the time off to process what you’ve experienced. Dismissed.”
Harris stood and walked slowly to the door. As he got to the doorway he turned to face his new captain, “Sir, I…hope you understand how hard this is going to be.”
Geronimo looked up from his desk, “Commander, if it was easy, everyone would do it. Dismissed.” Harris stepped back from the door as it closed. He turned to face the teeming masses of Starbase Bravo.
Things had taken a turn.