This is Chapter two of a story posted a few days ago. If you haven't done so, please read Ch. 1 before reading Ch. 2.
December 22, 2321
McAuliffe Station, Earth Orbit.
Commander Williamson entrusted the briefing of the cadets to his instructors. They parted company on Deck 12 of the McAuliffe Station.
“Brief the Cadets and put them to bed. I’m going to the Command Level to get more information. Meet me in my room when you are finished. By the way, it’s OK for the cadets to place calls home if they can get through. I expect most subspace frequencies will be restricted to military traffic.” Williamson said to his staff as they exited the lift. They turned right and walked briskly away nodding to say they heard and understood. The turbolift doors quietly closed leaving Williamson alone with his thoughts and the humming of the lift as it sped through the shafts of the Station. Williamson wondered how chaotic it was going to be on the Command Deck.
The turbo lift doors opened revealing a room in controlled chaos. The atmosphere was tense as staff scurried about. It was obvious everyone was caught off guard by the attack on Farpoint Station. You could tell from comments heard in passing that more attacks were expected - it was only a question of when and where. Out of the corner of his eye Williamson saw the Command Officers of the Starship Voyager. The tallest of the pair was First Officer Alex DeBirk, recently transferred to the Voyager from the USS Francis Scott Key. Next to him was Captain Brady Young. The Voyager was once a deep space exploration ship. Top of the line in her day. One month ago Command reassigned the ship to the McAuliffe Station to assist in the training of new midshipmen from the Academy.
Against another wall Williamson found a group of very familiar faces. They were the command officers of the Station's other training ships: Megan Warner of the Phoenix, Stacy Carroll of the Galileo, and Emily Perry of the Odyssey. It looked like everyone had the same idea. If you want news go to the source. Williamson suddenly realized he was blocking the entrance to the turbolift. An officer brushed roughly against him as she rushed to catch the lift before the doors closed.
"Excuse me," the yeoman said as she entered the cubical and turned around. She glanced up giving an embarrassed look for nearly knocking him over - then she looked down to her feet. She mumbled something to the computer. The doors slid shut. The sound of the moving car rapidly faded into the hum of the busy Command Deck. A moment later Williamson recognized who she was - Admiral Schuler’s Assistant. If she was here then so was the Admiral. Williamson wondered what Admiral Schuler was doing on the McAuliffe? He thought a more appropriate place in this situation would be Central Command planetside.
Williamson stepped back from the lift entrance and attached himself to the wall. Best to stay out of the way for a moment and listen. He chose to hold his questions until he found someone that could take a minute to answer them.
"Where can we find the Station Commander?" Williamson overheard DeBirk ask the station's science officer.
"We have orders from the Commander to report to a briefing,” Captain Young said, giving a purpose for their presence.
"He is in his ready room with the Admiral." the science officer replied. "You can wait here. By the way, tread carefully around Admiral Schuler . Many of the Inland Defense Ships are on maneuvers at Centari, and that's several hours away at max warp. Right now its Earth's planetside defense grid, a few foreign starships, this station and our training ships. That's all we've got for defenses should......well, you get the picture. You all command the training ship. I expect that's why you were summonsed. Careful, here they come."
The door to the Commander’s Ready Room parted and out came Admiral William Schuler followed by Admiral Meredith - Commander of the McAuliffe Station. Again, Williamson wondered what Admiral Schuler was doing on the station at this time of night. The only explanation was the Station Christmas Party.
The appearance of Admiral Schuler was enough to make the hair on a captain's neck stand to full attention. The Admirals walked toward the turbolift. Schuler stopped suddenly when he saw Capt. Young and redirected his eyes to look directly into his. The Captain stood at attention returning the Admiral's stare. Debirk was also at attention thinking how glad he was that Young was standing closest.
“Are those Captain’s Pips?” the Admiral asked with a sound of complete disbelief. “Who are you?" he continued in his loud booming voice hardly giving Capt. Young time to answer either question. Young was wondering what was louder, the beating of his heart or the Admiral’s agitated voice.
"Captain Brady Young just appointed captain of the USS Voyager Sir!" was the young captain's shaky reply.
"The Voyager, You?............You?! How old are you? I'm expected to provide some kind of Earth defense with training ships under the command of children? What is going on?" The Admiral raged. Young looked anxious to defend his record but was wise enough to understand the Admiral wasn't asking a question but making a statement.
"Sir," came a reply from behind Young. It was first officer Debirk's voice. Young thought he was either very stupid or very ........very.......no, just plain stupid.
"You have something to say to me?!" Admiral Schuler said as he moved toward Debirk like a cat about to bounce on its prey.
"Captain Young is a decorated war hero from the Borg war. Why he alone was responsible for saving the USS......."
Admiral Schuler didn't let him finish his sentence. Instead he let loose a stream of profanity that slowly turned the color of the bridge's atmosphere from clear to a faint green with a slightly acidic smell. Williamson noticed the turbo lift open during the "attitude readjustment". Two junior officers stepped out, saw what was happening, and immediately did what everyone else wished they could do - disappear. They turned and shuffled back into the lift praying the doors would slide together quickly.
Brady didn't know someone could swear as artfully as the Admiral. The words seemed so well chosen and fitted together like an 500 piece crossword puzzle. The Admiral was a master of communication. His reputation was well earned. Capt. Young waited for the right moment to tell Debirk to shut up and leave it alone. He couldn’t do it while the Admiral was spewing at full gale. He waiting for an opportunity. Suddenly the Admiral’s attention was diverted to a new piece of news coming in from Central Command. The Admiral turned his back to them. Young saw his chance. He didn't want to get caught breaking attention so he had to act quickly. He turned his head and gave Alex the look - eyebrows drawn together and down word with a slight left to right shaking of the head.
Debirk’s eyes returned Young's gaze acknowledging his error in judgement. He should have kept his mouth shut. He was learning a hard lesson. Young noticed moisture droplets covering Alex’s face. It was spittle from the Admiral's mouth. Not only did Debirk get to hear the Admiral's dressing down but he got to bathe in it as well.
The Admiral turned back to his wounded prey. He drew in enough air to arm both lungs and prepared to continue his description of Alex’s genealogy when the ship's intercom sounded. The Admiral was being ordered to report immediately to Starfleet Command. He stopped in mid sentence.
“Good luck,” he said to Admiral Meredith. He snorted at Young and half marched - half walked to the turbolift. Shuler nodded toward Williamson as he passed. Williamson stayed at attention, praying he blended artfully into the wall. No one on the Command Deck moved until the lift doors closed and the Admiral was gone.
Debirk leaned against the wall for support while wiping his face with the sleeve of his uniform. Admiral Meredith motioned for everyone to follow him into his Ready Room.
"We have problems," Williamson thought as he crossed the room. His cadets and the training ships may need to step up to the plate. The Command Training Academy's curriculum would be put to a real test. Goodbye simulations. The cadets would have to grow up quickly.
Chapter 3 follows in one week.