She’d never had to do this before. A PADD sat on the table in front of her, and a list of ten applicants filled the screen. Each department head who didn’t have an assigned assistant chief had been ordered to fill the position. Presley chewed on her bottom lip. She had come a long way since being assigned to the Mackenzie in October of last year. Through counseling and working on her own, she’d gotten to know her communications department by name and position. She’d treasured the small victories in being invited to the crew mess hall for drinks on leave but was still nervously turning them down. Now she had to choose someone to be her second. “First time for everything, I suppose.”
Harris had told her earlier that day, “I’ve learned how important it is to have someone ready to step in your position, even temporarily.”
Sitting at the conference room table in the corridors of Task Force 72, she felt as if she’d been tossed onto a leaky raft in the middle of a vast ocean planet. How was she supposed to choose from the five people who had applied? Two were internal applicants, and three were external. There was a rubric, of course, and an allotment for letters of recommendation along with extra certifications, exams, and job performance evaluations. Harris had told her she would need to get it to two applicants in order for her to move to the interview process.
She dug into their applications, her eyes searching each detail that might clue her into a key piece of evidence that would either succeed in convincing her to accept or push her to eliminate the applicant. It took an hour of researching, reading, and repeating the process. One of the external officers had already accepted a position on another ship, and two of her officers had been granted transfer orders that morning. She had two external applicants with sterling applications. One was an Ensign who had served on a Raven for the last year and was looking to expand her future career, and the other was a recent graduate of Starfleet Academy. Atega sent messages to both for interviews.
“You never forget them.” Harris looked up and found Captain Fontana, cup in hand, walking his way. He gestured to the New Orleans class ship that was docked in the bay. Harris had moved to another observation lounge, and it had been partially intentional. He’d seen the dock reports about a New Orleans class coming in for repairs. She wasn’t the Edinburgh, but she was close enough.
“The Eddie was something special.” He changed subjects, “Heard Vax got the Akira and the Wolf for squadron operations. That will be interesting.”
Fontana arched an eyebrow. What was Harris playing at? Or was he just making small talk? “Interesting…how?”
Harris offered up his PADD, “Her service jacket is one helluva read, at least the stuff that’s publicly available.” He felt his Task Force XO’s eyes asking for more, “I like to know who I’m sharing the operating theater with.”
Geronimo sat down and asked, “Did you do this kind of research over in 47?”
“I do my research. Learned on my first assignment the trouble you invite when you don’t know what you’re getting into – be prepared became my motto.”
Fontana leaned back and took a sip of his tea. He had read the reports from the captain’s time on the Garrison. And the recent visit he had engineered. “You went back to her with…who was it?”
Harris smiled quietly, “Don’t try and gladhand me, Geronimo. You know it was McKee, and you know why we were there.”
The TFXO leaned over, “Direct and to the point – you are consistent, Ambrose. We do keep track of our officers. I am glad it seemed helpful…for you both.” He looked around the dock windows. He appreciated the view of the various class ships, “I didn’t just come to verbally spar. We got a request from Rachel Elizabeth McKee to return to Starfleet service as an officer.”
Ambrose turned to face him, “When?” He felt his heart move a little faster, and his eyes go a little wider.
“Late last night. She identified a few ships as her preferred assignments. Yes, Mackenzie is on there. Don’t panic; she’s been out for ten years. We will run her through a modified academy to catch her up on the Starfleet of 2401.” Fontana asked, “If we determine she’s good enough for Mackenzie, are you open to her assignment?”
He felt the question echo through his mind several times. “She still wants to be an engineer?”
“Not this time. She’s identified Operations as her preferred area of assignment.” He held his gaze on Harris, “Are you open to her assignment?”
Harris considered it for a moment. He’d known his answer since she’d fled Starfleet ten years ago. “Yes, I’m open. I’m all about second chances.”
Fontana stood, “I’ll start the paperwork. Depending on how her academy work goes, she could be on your roster by the middle of March. Enjoy the view, Captain Harris.” With that, he was gone into the crowds. Ambrose returned his attention to the New Orleans class ship, memories of the Edinburgh and the Garrison filtering through his mind.