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The Retirement Fund, Part Three

Outpost Phoenix: Personal Com-Net


by Commander Noah Masterson
[Stardate ]

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The next morning, the two teams assembled on Pad 6 Epsilon, one of the Academy's numerous shuttle pads, as per their orders. T'pala did a head check and then split the group into two teams, Alpha and Bravo.
Before she could do anything else, however, one of the proctors arrived and ushered the waiting cadets to a waiting shuttle. The flight to Spacedock One was brief and smooth. Once the shuttle landed, the cadets were taken to a briefing room and the cadre laid out their expectations for the training as well as all the pertinent information for the mission. The crews sat through another safety briefing and then they were shepherded to another shuttlebay. As the cadets walked onto the bay's deck, a collective breath caught in their mouths. Before them sat two Danube class runabouts, the Zambezi and Neretva, but the spectacle that had caught their breaths: a freshly commissioned Sovereign-class ship was moored behind the runabouts.
After a heartbeat, the cadre turned the cadets over to T'pala for crew assignments.
"We will split into two teams: Sigma and Epsilon. Sigma will be my team with Cadet Stephax as pilot, Cadet Verela as Operations, Cadet Masterson as Engineering, Cadet Yamazaki as Science and myself as Tactical/ Command."
"Epsilon will be Cadet sh'Vrina as Pilot, Cadet Chami as Operations, Cadet Klaag as Engineering, Cadet Nerex as Science and Cadet Rress as Tactical and Second in Command. Epsilon will fly the Zambezi and Sigma will fly the Neretva," T'Pala finished succinctly.    
She pulled out a miniPADD and tapped a string of commands on the screen before addressing the group again.
"Mission plans and SOP have been uploaded to your PADDs and to the runabouts' on-board computers. Are there any questions," T'pala asked.
No one in the group had any questions; they were too well briefed on what was supposed to be an easy but exciting field problem.

Noah sat at the front edge of the pre-fab chair, staring at the deck and his boots. He had no idea how long they had been back on Spacedock One. Once arriving, the cadets had been pushed into this room by a pair of security officers, who know stood guard outside. All attempts to gain their attention had been unsuccessful and had quickly dissipated.
The door opened and two people walked in: Admiral Cohen, commandant of the Academy, and a distinguished appearing female Vulcan. Seeing who was entering the room, T'pala called the room to attention. Verela, seated next to Noah, reached over and hauled Masterson to his feet.
"Stand easy, cadets," the Commandant barked. One of the security officers secured the door and the Commandant addressed the crew.
"My junior year at the Academy, I watched a shuttle full of my classmates disintegrate during re-entry. We had toured the latest Ambassador class cruiser and were returning to Earth. Their shields failed and they slowly burned up. I say that to say this: I've been where you are. My best advice is this," he paused looking around the room, making eye contact.
"Talk. Talk with each other, talk with councilors or your spiritual advisors or even just faculty at the Academy. Hell, talk to your bartender if you can't find anyone else. Who ever it is…talk to them about this. Don't bottle it up because it will eat at your souls," he concluded.
"This is T'pret, Special Council to the Academy. She will be taking your depositions shortly so collect your thoughts regarding this matter. We owe our comrades nothing less," he said. He made to leave the room but paused, catching sight of Masterson. The Commandant motioned to T'pala to have her follow him. He opened the door and stepped outside. After a perceptible pause, T'pala followed the Commandant into the corridor.
"You were the overall commander, cadet" he asked with no preamble.
"I was, sir," T'pala answered.
"What's his story," he asked, motioning through the open door toward Masterson.
"He had a…romantic involvement…with the pilot of the other Runabout, sir," T'pala answered.
The Commandant didn’t say anything for a moment, waiting for T'pala to go on.
"The other runabout's Engineer was one of the first casualties. I had Masterson use the remote access option to take over duties for the other vessel," T'pala finished.
He made several general queries about Masterson and his character, which T'pala answered in the affirmative.
"Watch him, cadet. Watch him closely because this could go badly for him," the Commandant told T'pala.
"Understood, sir," T'pala said looking over her shoulder at Masterson.

To Be Continued
   
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