Had a spare moment today so decided to dabble a little, looking into the life of the favourite Every Man of Trek. * * * * * Everywhere Crewman Miles O’Brien looked, he saw ghosts. Every corridor he turned down, every room he entered, he thought he saw the face of someone he knew to be dead, and every time he did, he clenched his jaw tighter and squeezed his fists into balls leaving distinct fingernail impressions on the palms of his hands. Bloody Cardies! The two words had become his mantra, looping through his mind constantly since the moment the U.S.S. Rutledge had left orbit of Setlik III. The frigate was limping back to Starbase 370 for repairs following the prolonged battle she’d been engaged in trying to hold the planet. The Setlik System was still under Federation control, for how long no one knew, but the price the ship had paid had been too high. Kayden, Boone, Saarus, T’Vei, Mijjol, Kaneda, Grier, Mendoza and thirty-eight others had either been killed or captured, all before Starfleet reinforcements had arrived with the firepower they needed to force the bloody Cardies out of the system. O’Brien knew he would remember each and every one of those faces for the rest of his days, them and one more. Squeezing his teeth tight until they ached was the only way to keep his eyes from welling up. Setlik could well become just another footnote in the Federation’s war against the Cardies, but for him it would stand as a reminded for the loss of who he’d been. Enlisting into Starfleet, he knew it wouldn’t be easy, he knew that he’d face tough situations and could well be called upon to do things he never had before, but a part of him had always hoped that he’d be able to see out his service without ever crossing the bridge he had on the planet’s surface. Why hadn’t he checked the power setting? He shook his head, trying to clear the thought as he stepped up to the turbolift, tapped the panel beside the door, and waited. He fidgeted with his uniform cuffs, shrugged his shoulders trying to loosen the tightness he felt across the back, tugged at his collar to try and make it a little more comfortable. He’d always thought of himself as a patient person, but the recent battle had made him uneasy whenever he found himself having to wait—even as long as it took a turbolift carriage to arrive. Of course, part of that could also have been due to his summons to the Captain’s ready room. The doors parted (in the blink of an eye he thought he saw Raymond Boone standing there, grinning under his bushy moustache) and he stepped inside. “Bridge.” He was alone in the lift as it hummed up to deck one. In his short time onboard he’d only been to the bridge three times, twice delivering reports to Chief Mendoza and the third time he actually covered the tactical console for an hour when the Chief was called into a staff meeting. He wasn’t sure just why he’d been called before the Captain, but when he received an order like that he didn’t question it, he followed it and would find out when he got there. The lift came to a stop. He had just enough time to stand at attention before the doors opened. Stepping out, he quickly looked around the circular bridge. The two turbolift alcoves at the rear were separated by the MSD, with the free standing tactical console just behind the Captain’s Chair in the middle of the deck, just below which were the helm and operations stations. Consoles encircled the outer bulkheads, except for the entrance to the ready room and deck one facilities, port and starboard respectively, and the viewscreen at the front. The central seat was unoccupied, Captain Maxwell most likely in his office, whilst Commander Greq manned tactical. The stocky Tellarite shot him a look as he stepped onto the bridge. “Crewman O’Brien to see the Captain, sir.” Greq eyed him up, her porcine-like nose wrinkling, though he didn’t know if that was a good or bad sign from the hard-to-please First Officer. She gestured to the portside entrance. “He’s waiting for you, Crewman.” “Thank you sir,” he replied and swiftly marched to the door. Tapping the enunciator he felt everyone on the bridge watching him, but he managed to keep himself from adjusting his uniform once more. “Enter.” The doors parted and he stepped inside, stiffening his posture even more than it had been a few seconds ago. “Crewman First Class Miles O’Brien, reporting as ordered, sir.” Maxwell, a broad-shouldered young Captain whose once jet-black hair was starting to grey at the temples making him look older than his years, looked up from his terminal. “Thank you for your promptness, Crewman. Please take a seat.” As O’Brien sat opposite his CO, he swallowed heavily, his mind racing. Maxwell deactivated his screen and picked up a PADD that had been resting beside it. “I was going over the after action reports of your conduct, Crewman. Every single one speaks highly of your multitude of skills and levelheadedness under fire, a rare combination in someone your age.” “Thank you, sir,” he blurted nervously. “No need to be on tenterhooks, Crewman, you’re not in any trouble.” Maxwell’s expression darkened. “I’m sure you’re aware that the loss of Juanita Mendoza leaves the Rutledge without its tactical chief, a serious blow to the ship at a time like this.” O’Brien’s jaw muscled ached. Bloody Cardies! “I am indeed, sir.” “Unfortunately, Mr Zillis’ injuries will see him receive a medical discharge. Which means that I need to find someone else from the department to man weapons on the bridge and, after reviewing the records and reports of your actions on Setlik, I’ve decided to make you that person. Effective immediately, I promote you to the rank of Petty Officer and Chief of Tactical.” “Me sir?” he spluttered. “You, Mr O’Brien. I know you’ll do a fine job.” He stood up and extended his hand. O’Brien mirrored the older man, still is a state of shock as he shook the Captain’s hand. “Thank you, Captain, I’ll do my best.” “I know you will. Dismissed.” O’Brien stood at attention once more, turned on his heel and stepped back out onto the bridge. He looked at the tactical console and saw it vacant; Commander Greq now sat in the command chair. She turned to him, her face as inscrutable as always. “Take your station, Petty Officer.” “Aye sir,” he replied automatically and moved over to the post directly behind her. As he glanced over the blue-green LCARS display, he felt eyes upon him and looked up to see some of the bridge officers offering him sad yet encouraging smiles. He nodded in return before setting about familiarising himself with the console that was now his, and wondering just what his new promotion would mean for him and his future.