Book One - Chapter One
On the Beach, a new offer, a new beginning?
The Cape Canaveral Legion Club was quiet, only the bartender and one patron sitting at the bar.
Both were trying to watch the video, and not paying particular attention to it, or to each other.
“So where is Mabel, has she got the night off,” I asked the bartender?
“Yea she said had something she had to do tonight, and asked me to fill in for her.” The bartender replied.
“Funny she didn’t tell me. I was hoping we could have dinner together.”
“Yea, well sorry about that, but she didn’t really say what was going on, and I didn’t ask. I wasn’t doing anything tonight anyways, so here I am,”
“Yup, just the two of us,” I replied.
Dam! I thought, it sounds like the brush off to me. I kind of figured she wanted something more permanent in our relationship, much more than I am able to deliver.
So much for divorcee to divorcee affaires, but dam it, she sure was really accommodating.
Gayle, my last wife, sure left her mark on me, fifteen years is a long time.
What an ass I was, I should have stayed retired like I promised. Living through the Borg threat and its’ aftermath was enough for anybody. I know it sure left its’ mark on me.
Six months at Houston Medical center putting my head back together, will certainly change your perspective.
I thought I’d had enough. Twenty five years was a long time. Retirement from the Engineers seemed like the best option to stabilize our marriage. She had put up with a lot while I was active service.
A Starfleet marriage usually doesn’t last too long. Ours lasted longer than most.
Fortunately most of my missions were months long, not years long like the long range exploration missions.
I loved Gayle, I loved my job and I especially loved returning to Earth to be with her.
Too much concern about my job I guess; and the Borg action at Wolf 359, the rescue operation, if you could call it that, and the vessel recoveries, broke something in me.
The almost two years of literally picking up the pieces from that Borg attack, the towing of the disabled, and sometimes demolished Starfleet ships to Moon base Alpha and Mars Sol VI stations for refit, reassemble or scrapping, took its toll.
I was glad I wasn’t with the graves and interment section.
There were bodies floating everywhere as it was. What we found inside the ships and debris areas was bad enough. We only had to bag’em and tag’em.
After the cleanup mission was completed, the night mares started. I then spent six months at Huston Medical, to help clear my mind.
I was glad Gayle was a nurse practitioner. Her transferring to Huston immediately had greatly supported my therapy.
That was the most time I had ever spent with Gayle since we were married.
Dam it all, I wasn’t the only one there though. A lot of my fellow engineers were there. Ship and command counselors just couldn’t handle the work load.
Six months is a lot of time to think. You try to reassess your priorities. Gayle and I opted for my retirement
Well now it’s eight years later and I’m sitting on a bar stool by myself. Mabel, my date, has probably said sayonara.
Gayle, after divorcing me, is still living in Huston, and I’m living in a three room apartment that’s just big enough to keep my suit cases in.
I’m lucky I still have my shuttle pilots’ license. The United Space ways moon shuttle ops where I work now is where I catch up on my sleep, but at least I still have a job.
There is a girl friend on Alpha Base that I get to see once in a while, when they let me land, about once every third trip.
Hip Hip hooray!
Well sitting here on a bar stool wasn’t doing me any good, so I said to hell with it; I can do my drinking alone at my apartment.
I asked Terry the bartender to relay a message to Mable “to give me a call when she gets a chance”.
I said Good night and walked the six blocks to my Seaside Resort hotel room.
It sat just a half a block from the ocean right behind a twenty story real “Seaside Resort” hotel.
When I entered my room I noticed the message blinker going at my terminal.
Dam, maybe I was being too harsh with Mable; Gayle usually only calls me during day time, while she was on duty, just to check up on me occasionally.
The message was from Commander Pete Turner. I knew him since he was an Ensign, and I was an enlisted engineer. He was one of the smart ones.
He finally made it to staff at Star Fleet when I became a Warrant officer, and stayed operational in the Rescue and Recovery fleet.
His message was that he wanted me to call him about a mission that I might be interested in.
That got me thinking. The last time he called me was during the Dominion war fracas.
He asked me to come out of retirement to assist in training missions in Rescue and Recovery operations at the Missouri Training school.
When I said yes, Gayle hit the ceiling and we had a huge fight. I left for Missouri, Gayle headed for Houston, and after three months of trying to get her to move to Missouri, I was served with the divorce papers.
I couldn’t say I blamed her much, but I sure missed her and her loving. Gee she was good to me.
I was the idiot.
All I did was give lectures to Officer Cadets. I felt like Grandpa Moses. I ate in the mess hall instead of the Officers mess because I didn’t want to be alone.
I had the social life of a monk. It seemed everyone knew about my divorce within three days, and felt “tut tut” sorry for me.
As soon as the Dominion War stopped after the fleet action off Cardasia, I quit again and moved to Florida, with nothing but my goods in storage.
I decided to sleep on Pete’s message until the next morning.
There were no calls from Mabel or from Gayle either, for that matter.
In the morning, after a good long shower and a breakfast of toast and coffee, I called up Pete. Commander Turner that is.
I was routed through a few secretaries (?), and then Pete answered;
“How’s it going Chief?”
“Not too bad,” I said
“Are you very busy now days?” I knew that was a goofy question because he probably already looked up my work record before he called in the first place.
“Not so much, I still keep my hand in operating shuttle to the moon and back. Other than that, nothing special, what’s up?”
“Well you know it’s been almost a year since the Dominion war stopped.”
“You don’t need me for more instruction work do you? The Engineers should have plenty of training personnel by now, after the fleet action and the reoccupation of Deep Space Nine by Sisco”.
“No it’s an Advisor position.”
“A What! You know that I’m only a Chief, not a big wig like you now. Who the hell would take advice from me?”
“I would Chief, and did. We operated well together on the old Sedan. Plus you impressed a lot of the brass with your work at the Missouri Engineer Academy."
"You know we were better prepared for recovery operations, both physically and mentally, after the Dominion actions. But someone else needs your help and expertise.”
“The Bajorians, and in some ways the Cardasians.”
“What do they want me to do and why? I’m retired now you know. I’m not Star fleet anymore; I don’t get what you’re asking me Pete”?
“Chief”, he started off, “the Bajoran Government wants to do the recovery work on what’s left of the Cardasian Fleet that is now littering their shipping lanes."
"You know what damage can be made on a vessel traveling at warp speed. They want to salvage what they can and clean up the debris fields”
“The Cardasian home world is in such a bad state of devastation from the fighting there that they also can’t afford to even try it either.”
“The Bajorans also want to establish a parts recovery operation for their own fleet, which is mostly based on Cardasian technology."
"Seeing as they also haven’t recovered completely from the Cardasian occupation; we agreed to try to assist.”
“Well what do you want me to do about it? Like I said I’m only a retired Engineer Chief Warrant Officer, and you’re giving me a bad feeling Pete.”
“Look Chief we are in a bind. We have lost almost half of our Star fleet in the past ten years."
"We even had to raid our reserve fleet. We even have two cadet ships puling patrols."
"We want to help Bajor, but even our resources are limited. We are going to the bone yard.”
“Jesus Pete, what do you want me to do?”
“They need your expertise Mike. They will furnish the crews and laborers. We will give them a ship and try to equip it as much as possible from reserve stocks. By the way you will be listed as a civilian advisor, paid by the Bajorian government.”
“How long is this mission supposed to be for, Pete, with only one ship it’s going to take an awful long time?"
"Paid by Bajorians! I can imagine that if I could get there now I could live there for about two hundred and fifty credits a year. Great!”
“We estimate it will be a three year mission, give or take a few months. Plus free Bajorian lands that will be available for settlement.”
“Great! Three years is an awful long time Pete. You know that most of our missions only averaged a month, except for Wolf 359."
"I’m not going to be stuck out in space for the whole three years am I?"
"If I wanted to do that I could have transferred to long range exploration.”
“No. The Bajorian have a basing agreement with Cardasia, it will be some place between Deep Space Nine and Cardasia."
"The depot and storage facilities will be located near there too. All you have to do is make sure the recovered materials get there.”
“You mean the bits and pieces don’t you. What ship do we get; the pick of the fleet?”
“My you are turning into a cynic Chief. You get the Grayson.”
“The Grayson! Jesus Pete, she must be a hundred years old, at least an antique, and a buoy tender at that. It’ll take a year to get to Bajor let alone do a mission."
"Dam Pete you are asking a lot, and on Bajoran wages too.”
“Chief, she is a beacon repair tender, note I said repair tender. She was retired to the reserve fleet five years ago and was pretty much up to date when retired."
"She should be on station not later than three months. Of course you will have to reequip her with shuttles and such. That’s why we need your expertise.”
“Thanks for the vote of confidence Pete. Those buoy tenders were the last chance for Star Fleet personnel. They served as nice long punishment tours from one to three years too."
"Well I really don’t have anything going on here, you already know that. But I do have a few conditions before I make my decision.”
“I see, well I guess if they’re within reason, I’ll see what I can do. What are they?”
“I’ll need about twenty crewman, Star fleet or ex-Star Fleet to get the ship up and running. I will call a few old friends."
"I also want myself and my crew members paid in Earth credits, not Bajoran. The crew will be strictly advisor instructors, not worker bees”.
"I also will need free access to the bone yard, in fact I want an office for a couple of months there, so I can keep an eye on things, and a name at the Bajorian Embassy that I can complain to.”
“Done, Chief! By the way I was very sorry to hear about the breakup between you and Gayle. I hope she is doing well”.
“I will make the necessary arrangements with Chuck Norstad at the Nellis bone yard."
"I will inform the Bajorian Embassy of your decision. They may want to meet you anyway in San Francisco, to answer any questions."
"By the way you might have some Bajoran passengers who will work for passage for their return home."
"Thanks Chief, you are going to help them a lot.”
“Well Pete you know I’ll need some help too. I want you to keep in touch. I do remember that we did have some good times together, before all these wars began. We both lost too many friends.”
“Yes we did Chief, Good luck and take care; Turner, out.”
That settled that, back to the corps as a civilian. A retired chief with a retired ship with a mission to pick up space junk probably for the rest of my life, what more could a man ask for.
I looked for my suit cases, and packed my travel pack.
I placed a call to Mabel, there was no answer, so I left a message, “I’m off to Bajor, see you when I get back”.
I dragged everything down to the front desk, checked out, and paid my bill. I then called a cab to take me to the airport for a hop to Las Vegas.
While at the air port I called United Space ways Freight, and informed them that I was resigning and to forward all pay and mail to the Nellis Star Fleet Depot, Nevada.
I thanked them for the employment, but now I had a real job to do.
Goodbye to Florida.