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Old March 9 2010, 09:36 PM   #1
TheLoneRedshirt
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March Challenge - "The Reluctant Lieutenant"

Tales of the USS Bluefin – “The Reluctant Lieutenant”

(Note: This story takes place during the first Cardassian War, when Joseph Akinola was a Master Chief Petty Officer on the USS Bluefin under Captain Darby Reninger.)

Stardate 33350.7 (May 8, 2356)
USS Bluefin
En route to Minos Korva, warp 6


Captain Darby Reninger hesitated briefly outside of the ship’s armory. He urgently needed to speak with Master Chief Akinola, yet he was loath to do so at the moment. Only two days earlier, Akinola received notification of his ex-wife’s death. Reninger’s sense of duty coupled with the urgency of their current mission prevailed, however. He entered the armory, made his way to Akinola’s office, and pressed the enunciator.

“Come!”

Captain Reninger absently tugged the burgundy uniform jacket over his portly frame and stepped through the door.

MCPO Akinola quickly rose from behind his small desk. Surprise flickered briefly on his face, for officers seldom ventured into NCO country. Reninger gestured for him to retake his seat.

“At ease, Master Chief. I hate to intrude, especially now, but we’re about six hours out from Minos Korva and the news is pretty grim.”

“How bad, sir?”

Reninger eased into the single chair opposite Akinola’s desk, his knees popping audibly. “I just spoke with Captain Jellico on the Cairo. The Cardassians have begun orbital bombardment of the main settlement. No doubt, they are preparing to send down troops.” The Captain wiped a hand across his brow, brushing back strands of wavy white hair. “Of course, the colonists have almost no defenses, save a small constabulary armed with hand phasers. It’s likely to be a slaughter.”

Akinola looked grim. “What do you need me to do, sir?”

Reninger offered a wry grin. “Always able to anticipate me, eh, Master Chief? Hell, I imagine you could run this boat better than me, given the chance.”

The Nigerian non-com snorted. “I seriously doubt that, sir.”

Reninger sighed, “Sorry to get off-subject. I need you to prep your SAR teams to go planet-side when we reach Minos Korva IV. The Cairo, Potempkin and Mayport will engage the Cardie ships while the Albacore hangs back with the hospital ships Solace and Serenity. We’ll make a fast orbital insertion, beam your teams down, then break orbit for three hours. We'll lay-low until time to extract the teams.”

Akinola nodded. “Aye, sir - I’ve got four teams on stand-by. I’ll lead team one myself.”

Captain Reninger grimaced. “Joseph . . .”

Akinola’s eyebrows rose in surprise at Reninger’s use of his first name.

“Look,” continued the Captain. “I haven’t had a chance to tell you how sorry I am for your loss. It might be better for you to sit this one out and . . .”

Akinola’s face was set in stone. “I appreciate that, Skipper, but Kalinda and I have been divorced for eight years. I’m no longer considered ‘next of kin.’” Akinola’s brittle tone belied his words.

Reninger sighed. “Master Chief, I know all about divorce. My own marriage went to hell twenty years ago. But if my ex-wife had been killed in action, I’d have been devastated! Cut yourself some slack, son, and take some time to get your head together. You’ve got capable team leaders – let them do their jobs. Just get them geared up and run them through the mission brief.”

Akinola looked down at the battered surface of his old desk. “I do have good team leaders, sir, but respectfully - I should be in on the action. Chief Krella is a good leader, but he hasn’t seen much combat. Cho hasn’t fully recovered from his wounds and Brin is still learning the ropes. This is too important for me to sit out, Skipper. I’ll take some time – later. But for now . . . I really want to lead my team.”

Reninger couldn’t miss the imploring note in Akinola’s voice. “What about your daughter? Don’t you want to go see her?” He left unsaid the poor odds that the Border Dogs faced against the Cardassian troops, who outnumbered them 10 to 1.

“Tanya is with my sister, Melody, on Earth. She’s fine there – they get along great.”

“Uh-huh,” replied Reninger, not truly convinced. Still, he had to admit the selfish part of him wanted Akinola leading this mission. And who the hell was he to give advice on family matters?

“Alright, Master Chief, we’ll do it your way. Be ready to go in six hours.”

“Aye, aye, sir. And thank you.”

* * *

Stardate 33350.9 (May 8, 2356)
USS Bluefin
Minos Korva System


“Now entering system outer boundary,” announced Lt. Helena Ortiz from the helm.

“Red alert,” ordered Reninger, adjusting his bulk in the command chair. “Notify the SAR Teams to stand-by for beam down. Maintain spiral course at full impulse, helm. Prepare for warp jump to orbit on my mark.”

Red battle lights swathed the bridge. Reninger knew it helped their vision but the red hue always reminded him of blood.

“Aye sir,” replied Ortiz. She took a calming breath to focus on the upcoming maneuver. A warp jump into a gravity well was extremely dangerous under the best of circumstances and borderline suicidal with a brace of Galor-class warships orbiting the same planet.”

“Tactical, stand-by on phasers and torpedoes. Be ready for a snap shot from forward and stern tubes is any vessels are in range. Don’t wait on a firing solution – I just want to distract them long enough for us to clear orbit once we’ve beamed down our SAR teams.”

The Trill petty officer at tactical acknowledged the order and brought the Bluefin’s weapons on-line. The cutter streaked in-system on a wildly gyrating course designed to confuse enemy sensors and targeting systems.

Reninger absently wiped a bead of perspiration from his upper lip as he concentrated on the tactical display that overlay the main viewscreen.

Where are they? He wondered, his anxiety level increasing exponentially. Without the heavy-hitters taking on the Cardassian ships . . .

As if in answer to his silent question, three icons suddenly appeared on the screen. The Cairo, Potempkin and Mayport had dropped out of warp close to Minos Korva IV – a move almost as dangerous as the one Reninger was about to order for his own ship. The three starships spread out as they moved to engage the Cardassian warships.

“Task Force Hammer has engaged the Cardassians,” announced Commander Stanek, the Vulcan XO. His voice was calm - as if he had just made a passing observation about the weather. “Three Galors have broken orbit to intercept our ships.”

Reninger grunted. The plan had been only partially successful. One Cardassian warship remained in geo-stationary orbit over the colony – its weapons more than a match for the defenses of Bluefin.

He swallowed to regain some moisture in his dry mouth. “Helm, bring us in astern of that remaining Galor. Tactical, fire at will once we enter orbit – unload everything we have at the bastards!”

Reninger brought his hand down on the intercom switch. “All hands, prepare for warp jump!”

* * *

Master Chief Akinola stood waiting on the dais in transporter room one. His team was armed with phaser rifles and photon grenades. Corpsman Kurtz cradled a wicked looking ARC as he shifted the weight of his medi-kit on his back. Akinola shifted his gaze around – making eye contact with his seven person squad. They were a diverse bunch, from the petite Human female, Crewman Tatalia Bonderenko to the burly Red Orion male, Petty Officer Solly Brin.

It was past time for pep-talks or revisiting the mission parameters. No battle plan survived the first encounter with the enemy. The time for talk was past.

It was time to engage the enemy.

Though this was technically a search-and-rescue mission to evacuate surviving colonists, Akinola was under no illusion that they could do so without fierce opposition by the Cardassians. He had faced them in battle before and knew they were both cunning and fierce in battle. Their only hope was to locate the survivors quickly and limit engagement with the Cardies.

“All hands, prepare for warp jump,” came the voice of Captain Reninger over the ship’s comm. system. Akinola pulled down the visor of his helmet.

“Lock and load,” he said, gruffly. Each team member activated his or her weapon, primer capacitors whining a deadly warning chorus.

The ship suddenly shook violently and the lights in the transporter room dimmed momentarily. Apparently the Cardie ship had opened up on Bluefin. Time was short.

“Energize,” ordered Akinola.

* * *

Team One materialized less than a kilometer from the largest Federation settlement. They coalesced into a defensive circle – weapons pointed outward for any possible threats. Akinola’s heart sank.

The strong smell of ozone mixed with the tang of smoke and dust. Black plumes of smoke billowed skyward as orange tendrils of flame danced about like demons in a frenzy. It was evident that the Cardassians orbital bombardment had been all too accurate. The size of the conflagration left no doubt that the settlement was little more than a blackened crater.

Akinola flipped open his communicator. “Team One to Bluefin.
His only response was a squeal of static. Frowning, he flipped the communicator closed. Evidently, the Cardassians were jamming their signals. Time to go with plan B.

“Alright people, we’ve got three hours until the ship returns. This will be our extraction point, so do not be late! And remember – avoid contact with the Cardies if at all possible. Our job is to locate survivors and to get them out of here – you got that, Solly?”

He cast his steely gaze on the Orion non-com who replied with a “Who? Me?” grin. Akinola had grown to like Solly but knew that when battle-fever overtook the Orion he could be hard to reign in. Brin noted the look on Akinola’s face and his smile faded.

“Understood, Master Chief,” he replied.

Akinola nodded. “Okay – move out in pairs. Watch out for booby traps. If you come across a Cardie patrol, try to take them out quietly.”

The Master Chief noted how Brin fingered the knife strapped to his thigh. At least the big guy knew how to kill silently.

* * *

Stardate 33350.9 (May 8, 2356)
USS Bluefin
Four light years from Minos Korva


“Helm, hold position,” rasped Captain Reninger. He winced as the corpsman held a bandage against the wound on his forehead.

“Aye sir,” replied Ensign Grayhawk. The junior helm officer tried not to look at the blood spattered across the controls, nor at the form of Lt. Ortiz who still lay on the deck, her eyes fixed on some distant point no one else could see.

“Stanek – status report.” Reninger coughed abruptly and spat a wad of clotted blood on the deck. His vision was blurry and the buzz in his head was incessant.

“Fourteen dead, eighteen wounded according to Dr. Whitney,” the Vulcan XO replied in a somber tone. “Lt. Commander Mukara did not survive,” he continued.

Captain Reninger moaned – partly over the news of the death of the second officer and the others, partly due to the wave of nausea that threatened to overwhelm him.

“Major damage to the bow – sections A-4 through A-6 are open to space,” continued Stanek. “Structural integrity fields are holding and damage control parties are at work. Impulse and warp drive are operational, though we will not be able to exceed warp factor 4. Shields are down to 14%, but Engineer Richelieu believes he can restore the grid enough to give us 75% efficiency.”

“Damage to the Cardassian ship?” whispered Reninger.

An eyebrow ticked upward on Stanek’s face. “We did not remain on station long enough to access the efficiency of our attack,” he said, dryly. “Considering the proximity of our engagement, it is likely we struck their shields multiple times. However, based on the yield of our torpedoes and phaser strength against the known regenerative capacity of their shields, I calculate no more than a 23.17% chance that their vessel suffered reduced combat capability.”

“Damn . . .” breathed the Captain as darkness overtook him.

* * *
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Old March 9 2010, 09:49 PM   #2
TheLoneRedshirt
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Re: March Challenge - "The Reluctant Lieutenant"

Stardate 33351.0 (May 8, 2356)
SAR Team One
Minos Korva III


Akinola and Solly Brin moved stealthily through the remains of a residential area. While many of the residences were now heaps of rubble, a few structures remained. Brin studied his scanner.

“I’m reading two life forms – Human – 30 meters ahead.” He gestured in the direction they were moving.

Akinola nodded. “Let’s check it out.”

They continued to move carefully – mindful of anti-personnel traps – and made their way toward the survivors. Although no Cardassians appeared on the scanner, Akinola knew their jamming technology surpassed their own. It was possible that Cardie troops were closer than they realized.

Both men froze upon hearing a cry of pain. Akinola gestured for Brin to provide cover while he trotted ahead to an apartment building that was listing dangerously. Sweat streamed down his face, though the temperature was somewhat cool. He eased into the entrance alcove and licked his lips before trying the door . . .

. . . which was jammed. The shifting structural members had wedged the door tightly closed.

A moan came from within – female from the sound of it.

“No guts, no glory,” mused Akinola. He braced himself and kicked at the door. It took him three attempts before the door finally moved inward enough for him to squeeze through.

He was greeted by darkness and thick dust. Taking a moment to signal Brin to approach, he activated the light on his phaser rifle and moved into the hallway.

“Hello? Is anyone there? Border Service – we’re here to help you.”

Silence. Akinola figured the victims were either unconscious or too afraid to reply. He couldn’t blame them. Many Cardassian soldiers spoke excellent Standard. There had been more than one occasion where Cardie troops had captured unsuspecting colonists simply by pretending to be Starfleet or Border Service personnel.

Solly Brin joined him in the foyer and checked the scanner. He pointed up the stairs.

“Should be the first door on the left,” he said, quietly. “One of the life signs is fading fast,” he added.

“Stay here,” ordered Akinola. Brin frowned but obeyed. The tall Nigerian made his way gingerly up the steps. At one point the stairs creaked ominously and sagged but continued to hold his weight. Once on the landing, he tried the door Brin had indicated. It opened easily.

Sweeping the dark apartment with the phaser rifle’s light, he caught the outline of two forms on the form. A human woman was caught underneath a support beam and a significant pile of debris.

“Solly! Get up here!” called Akinola as he quickly moved to the woman’s side. He placed his fingers alongside her neck, checking for a pulse. The rapid, thready pulse did not give him hope.

Brin appeared almost instantly. A part of Akinola’s mind marveled at how fast the big Orion could move when necessary. He gestured at the beam.

“Help me move it!”

The two Border Dogs took hold of the heavy Endurium beam. Brin’s muscles rippled, threatening the seams of his uniform shirt. But despite their efforts, they could not move the deadfall enough to extricate the woman.

“M . . . Marcie . . .” the woman whispered, her voice thin as a night breeze.

Akinola removed his helmet and knelt close to better hear. “Marcie? Is that your name?”

From the depths of her being she mustered enough strength to gesture to the pile of debirs. “My baby . . . Marcie . . .”

Brin reacted instantly, moving aside fallen light panels and ceiling material. In the near darkness he appeared to be some demon ripping through the fallen material. He stopped suddenly and reached down carefully. Brin turned holding a small child – a young girl, perhaps a year old. Though streaked with dirt and its clothing torn, the child was wide-eyed with curiosity and apparently unhurt.

The woman managed a meager smile. “My baby . . .” she sighed and was still.

Akinola felt again for a pulse. There was none. He began to attempt CPR when a sudden beeping from Brin’s scanner caused them both to pause.

The Red Orion cradled the tiny girl in one arm and regarded the scanner with glowing yellow eyes. Those eyes fixed on Akinola.

“Cardies. I make it 15 . . . 400 meters, bearing 118 degrees.”

Akinola placed the helmet back on his head. No more time. He cast a regretful glance at the dead woman.

“If we can read them, they’ve probably picked us up as well.”
Akinola adjusted the setting on his phaser rifle to wide dispersal.

“Come on, Solly – we need to keep ahead of them and find some decent cover.”

“Yeah,” agreed Brin. He glanced down at the baby who was staring up at Solly with wide eyes. She didn’t seem the least bit afraid – just curious. “What about the pup?”

Akinola moved toward the door of the ruined apartment. “Why? Is she too heavy for you?”

Brin removed his back pack and discarded several containers of rations before gently placing the little girl inside. He padded her best he could and strapped her firmly in place. Replacing the pack on his back, he followed Akinola outside. The two men moved off at a trot.

* * *

Stardate 33351.1 (May 9, 2356)
USS Bluefin
Four light years from Minos Korva


Commander Stanek was the epitome of calm as he sat in the command chair on Bluefin’s battered bridge. In truth, he was more like the eye at the center of a hurricane – a deceptively calm place surrounded by a raging tempest.

Damage control parties moved frantically to repair damaged systems while corpsmen tended to injuries major and minor. There was now less than one hour until their scheduled pick-up time to retrieve the SAR teams and any surviving colonists.

SickBay to Bridge” The voice of Dr. Kelly Whitney sounded tired and harried. Stanek’s sensitive ears also picked up a slight tremor to her voice. Obviously, she was not calling with good news.

Stanek tapped the reply stud on the arm of the chair. “Bridge, Commander Stanek here.”

“Stanek – I need to see you in SickBay. Now.”

A dark eyebrow lifted on the Vulcan’s face. “I take it this is urgent?”

“Please . . .” now the emotional pain in her voice was evident. “Just get down here.”

Stanek was already on his feet. “Lieutenant Idus, you have the bridge. I will be in Sick Bay.”

* * *

Moments later, Stanek stood beside Dr. Whitney in a curtained cubicle in Sick Bay. Whitney wiped at her eyes with the sleeve of her lab coat while Stanek gazed somberly at the still form of Captain Darby Reninger. Reninger’s face was pale, almost gray in appearance. The silent bio-scanner over the Captain’s bed gave mute testimony to the passing of Bluefin’s commanding officer.

“We tried to staunch the blood flow,” sniffed Whitney, a slender brunette from Mars. “but everytime we would get one bleeder under control, two more broke loose. If we had been able to get him to a hospital ship . . .”

“Do not blame yourself, Doctor,” reproved Stanek gently. “There was no way we could have reached one of the hospital ships in time. Even if we could, we would have doomed our teams on the planet.”

She nodded morosely and turned to face him with red-rimmed eyes. She forced a small smile but her lips trembled.

“Yeah . . . I keep telling myself that.” She took a deep breath. “Time of death was 0217 hours. You’re now in command, Mr. Stanek.”

Stanek nodded gravely. His face was impassive but Whitney saw something in the Vulcan’s eyes . . . was it sorrow?

“Yes, I suppose so,” he said quietly. “Please log it, Doctor. I must return to the bridge.”

He turned to leave, hesitated, and turned to face the Doctor.

“I grieve with thee, Kelly of Mars.” Stanek turned again, leaving Kelly Whitney to tend to a man who had been like a father to her.

* * *

Stardate 33352.0 (May 8, 2356)
SAR Team One
Minos Korva III


“Joe – hold up!”

Akinola stopped abruptly and turned toward the big Orion, his chest heaving from the exertion of running in the thin atmosphere. “What?” he wheezed.

“Six life-signs just over the rise – four Human . . .,” he looked up, his eyes glittering, “and two Cardassian.”

“Separation?” queried Akinola.

“Target one is ahead about three meters. Target two is taking up the rear, about two meters aft. Humans are single-file.”

“Sloppy,” mused Akinola, evaluating the enemy soldiers, “but it makes our job easier. You take the one in back. I’ll take the point-man.”

Solly nodded and carefully placed his back pack in a sheltered spot under a pile of rubble. The baby was sound asleep.
Brin pulled his combat knife free of his sheath. Akinola did likewise. The two crept up over a berm of dirt and debris, making sure they did not present a silhouette against the sky which was illuminated by twin moons.

Akinola counted down silently with his fingers, then the two Border Dogs moved out.

* * *

The Cardassian bringing up the rear was a young soldier on his first deployment. The initial excitement of the attack and invasion had faded and fatigue was beginning to set in. He could not remember the last time he had slept. He longed for a cup of warm fish juice and a few hours sleep. At least this was the last group of prisoners to escort before he would go off-duty. A smile played on his lips as he thought of food and rest.

He never heard the approach of Solly Brin. A sudden hard pressure on his throat caused his eyes to widen. In a panic, he dropped his weapon and clawed at the vice-tight arm clamped across his neck. He could not cry out, nor could he breathe.

“You lost situational awareness,” a low voice admonished into his ear. “That’s why you’re dead.”

A sudden sharp impact struck him in the small of his back. Instantly, his arms and legs failed him and he felt all of his muscles grow slack. His assailant lowered him silently to the ground as the prisoners continued on – oblivious to the plight of their captor.

The last thing the young Cardassian saw were two glowing, yellow eyes. Then he saw nothing at all.

* * *

The Cardassian on point was a veteran trooper. A nagging injury to his right leg had relegated him to prisoner detail – a task that galled him, but neither did he complain. He was a proud professional in his fifth campaign of the war against the Federation. Yet, he too was feeling the effects of fatigue. He carried some herbs from his home province that provided a stimulant effect, but his supply was nearly exhausted so he had decided to save them for a combat mission.

It would prove to be a fatal mistake.

Even through his fatigue he heard the approach of his attacker. He turned quickly and brought up his weapon. He was almost quick enough.

Almost.

Akinola was on the Cardassian before the trooper could effectively defend himself. They fell to the ground in a violent struggle, the dark-skinned Human wielding a deadly blade and the gray-skinned Cardassian desperately seeking to wrench the knife from his attacker’s grip.

They rolled on the rocky ground, each seeking a hand-hold, some advantage to end the battle. Their breath was horse and guttural, their body odor equally alien and repugnant to the other. Akinola held the advantage in leverage while the Cardassian was better armored and slightly stronger.

The Human prisoners merely gaped at the spectacle of the two combatants rolling on the ground. None thought to assist Akinola. All were frozen in place by shock and fear.

Solly raced forward, ready to spring forward and assist his comrade – but the struggle ended suddenly with a wet, gurgling noise and a few thin words in an alien language.

Akinola stood shakily to his feet, standing over the dead Cardassian. His breath came in quick gasps and when Solly reached out to steady him, the Master Chief brought the knife to bear on the Orion. For a brief moment, Solly thought Akinola was about to attack him.

The Master Chief quickly came to himself and lowered the blade. He let out a shuddering breath and gestured to the wide-eyed Humans.

“See to them . . . Solly. Let me . . . catch my breath.”

“You okay, Joe?” Brin continued to stare at Akinola, gripping the senior non-com’s shoulder.

“What? Are you . . . my mother? Move . . . your ass.”

Satisfied that Akinola was okay he turned to the former prisoners – a male in his mid-thirties, a teen-aged boy and two younger children.

“Border Service,” he announced. “We’ve come to get you out of here. I need all of you to move quickly – there’s a squad of Cardassians not far behind us. We’ve still got about five kilometers to reach our extraction point. Is anyone injured?”

The man looked dully at the fallen Cardassian then back at Solly. “You . . . you killed them.” His voice was flat and without emotion.

“Yeah – look, you can send a sympathy card later. We’ve got to move.”

The quartet began to shuffle forward. The man paused by the body of the slain Cardassian non-com, and administered a vicious kick to the corpse. This set off a violent torrent of kicks as the man began to scream incoherently.

Akinola grabbed the man by the shirt and yanked him away from the dead Cardassian. He shook him and brought his face close to him. “Quiet!” he hissed. “Pull it together and move!”
Tears streamed down the man’s face. “They killed my wife . . . they killed Jennifer . . .” He began to sob.

Akinola suddenly pulled the man into a tight embrace. “They killed my wife, too, buddy,” he whispered into the man’s ear. “But I’m not going to let them kill you or these kids. Hold it together a little longer so we can do our jobs, okay?”

The man looked at Akinola. His eyes no longer quite as wild. He nodded his head. “Yeah,” he rasped. “I’ll try.” His breath hitched, but the hysteria had passed. Akinola clapped him on the shoulder and began walking toward the extraction point.

One of the children walked alongside Solly and tugged on his pants. He gazed up at the big Orion with open curiosity and awe.

“Are you Hell-Boy?” he asked.

Brin’s eyes narrowed in puzzlement. “Huh?”

The boy held out a small doll – some sort of action figure.
Even in the dark, Akinola could see it represented a burly red figure with a tail and shorn-off horns. He smiled – there was a definite resemblance.

“Come on, ‘Hell-Boy,’ let’s shag tail out of here,” called Akinola.

“Frak you, Joe,” muttered Solly as they began to guide the small band toward the beam-out point. Brin retrieved his back-pack and found the tot was still asleep.

“Where’s your tail?” asked the little boy?

“Got chewed off by the Master Chief,” groused Solly.

* * *

Akinola and Brin successfully evaded the Cardassian patrols and met up with the rest of SAR Team One. In all, their team located 22 survivors. The other three SAR teams found a total of 117. Out of nearly a million Federation colonists on Minos Korva III, only 139 were rescued. The rest were killed in the bombardment or taken prisoner by the Cardassians. After the war, only 12,000 were repatriated to Federation territory. The fate of the rest of the colonists is unknown to this day.

* * *

Stardate 33354.5 (May 10, 2356)
USS Bluefin
En route to Star Station Echo


Captain’s Ready Room

“You wanted to see me, Captain?”

Stanek was looking out the viewport, his hands clasped behind his back. He turned at the sound of Akinola’s voice.

“Yes, Master Chief. Please have a seat.”

Akinola settled into one of the guest chairs. He cast a surreptitious glance around the room. Captain Reninger’s personal effects were already packed and the room seemed austere – almost empty, save for the presence of Captain Stanek and Master Chief Akinola.

“I am recommending a unit citation for your SAR teams, Master Chief, and have recommended you for the Bronze Comet. You all conducted yourselves in exemplary fashion against overwhelming odds. I . . . appreciate what you did.”

High praise indeed from a Vulcan. Yet Akinola still felt empty. “Thank you, sir, but we got our butts kicked at Minos Korva. Those poor people – we weren’t worth a fart in a cyclone . . . sir.”

A bare hint of amusement flickered on Stanek’s face before his expression returned to its usual serenity.

“I believe the survivors on board would take exception to your analysis, Master Chief. Your efforts, indeed – the efforts of the entire Task Force were both laudable and effective. Considering the odds, we did well.”

A bemused smile formed on Akinola’s face. “I didn’t think Vulcans played the odds, sir.”

“I find it an interesting mathematical exercise,” he replied. “There is another matter which I need to discuss with you.”

“Sir?”

“With the deaths of Captain Reninger, Lt. Commander Mukara and Lt. Ortiz, along with serious injuries to Lt. Pelochek and Lt. Kyle, we find ourselves short of experienced officers.”
He opened the desk drawer and pulled out a small velvet covered box and slid it across to Akinola.

The Nigerian looked at the box but did not take it. “Captain?”

“As of this Stardate, you are hereby promoted to the brevet rank of Lieutenant, subject to confirmation by Starfleet Command, for the duration of hostilities.”

Akinola shook his head. “Captain – I’m no officer. I’m just a hard-case NCO.”

“You are a leader, Lt. Akinola. You are also the most experienced person on this ship, next to me. It is the logical thing to do. Starfleet and the Border Service suffer from a loss of many experienced officers. I require your assistance as an officer to command this ship.”

Reluctantly, Akinola took the box and opened it. The flash of a senior lieutenant gleamed at him. “Mr. Sta . . . Captain, I really don’t want this.”

Stanek regarded Akinola thoughtfully. “There is an ancient Vulcan saying: ‘The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few . . . or the one’ You are needed as an officer, Mr. Akinola.”

Stanek stood and surprised Akinola a second time by extending his hand. “I believe the proper expression is, ‘Congratulations, Lieutenant.’”

Akinola stood numbly and returned the handshake. A crooked smile formed on his face.

“Hey, it’s probably just for the duration, right? After the war, I can go back to being a non-com again.”

Stanek cocked an eyebrow. “None of us know what the future holds, Mr. Akinola. Dismissed.”

END
__________________
"You are beginning to damage my calm." - Jayne Cobb

Last edited by TheLoneRedshirt; March 10 2010 at 02:48 AM.
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Old March 10 2010, 12:22 AM   #3
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Re: March Challenge - "The Reluctant Lieutenant"

Terrific tale of Akinola's reluctant rise to the officers corps. It makes perfect sense that being an officer would not have been something he had aspired to. And yet he eventually ends up being one of the best skippers in all the Border Service. Stanek was right about the future.

The events on Minos Corva were really well told but I gotta mention the kid and the Hellboy doll. That made me laugh because I was thinking Solly Brin the entire time I watched the last Hellboy movie ...

Again, a great story! Well done.
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Old March 10 2010, 01:11 AM   #4
Kaziarl
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Re: March Challenge - "The Reluctant Lieutenant"

Not bad. Although I'm not sure I've read a whole lot of your border service stories.

Don't forget to link this to the challenge thread.
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Old March 10 2010, 01:56 AM   #5
Nerys Ghemor
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Re: March Challenge - "The Reluctant Lieutenant"

I laughed too, when I hit the Hellboy line.

I LOVED your insight into the younger Akinola and Solly...and the other thing (as you might expect) that stood out to me was that for just instants before they died, we got a look into the minds of the Cardassian soldiers. The young one I found myself feeling sorry for...the other guy not as much so because I found myself suspecting him of torture.

Very solid entry!
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Old March 11 2010, 10:56 AM   #6
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Re: March Challenge - "The Reluctant Lieutenant"

A phenomenal look back on the circumstances surrounding Joseph Akinola going ‘Mustang’ to join the ranks of the officer corps.

There’s a lot going on here for a short story, including Bluefin getting in over her head (clearly a common occurrence, even prior to JA taking command), the death of a beloved commanding officer, and a first-hand look at the horrors of war carried out on an unsuspecting civilian populace.

I love how you use many of these challenges to fill in the gaps of your readers’ knowledge regarding your characters. Nicely done!
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Old April 2 2010, 09:38 PM   #7
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Re: March Challenge - "The Reluctant Lieutenant"

Another part of the Bluefin saga. My 2 favorite characters, too. And a clear-cut answer to the challenge. Well done.
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