Life and Liberty
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Join Date: Dec 2007
03-10-2010, 04:58 PM
He heard the musical chime before Admiral Quinn barked a “Come!” and the door slid open. The foyer was spacious. Befitting Starfleet’s most senior. Immediately across it, the Admiral sat, his collar undone as he bent stern features over a small display in his hand. He looked up as the door closed behind Hart, and stood, pulling down on his coat to straighten it before gesturing to a couch on the other side of the small table in front of him.
“Captain, please take a seat.”
Hart saluted quickly, and then made his way over to it.
“My thanks for seeing me at this hour, Admiral.”
The official nodded. “Last appointment for the day, and something I didn’t want to leave till morning.” Hart was about to say something in response but was surprised to find the Admiral’s hand shooting out when he got close enough. The shake was firm.
“I just wanted to shake your hand first.”
“Admiral?” Danen tried not to look as confused as he felt at that moment.
Quinn didn’t take any notice of his questioning tone, fixing him steadily as he let Hart’s hand go. The crows feet around the veteran Trill’s eyes deepened he narrowed his gaze for a moment before turning away to sit down.
“I’ve been reading up on some of your contributions, Hart. You’ve done some outstanding work in your time as Captain.”
Hart shifted once in his chair as soon as he’d sat down, suddenly uncomfortable as soon as he’d made himself at home in it. “Thankyou, sir.”
Quinn’s white haired features studied Hart again before picking up the tablet screen he’d been studying when the Captain had walked in. Hart was finding it difficult to look his superior in the eye, instead focusing on the papers that had lain underneath it. From a brief glance they looked like the profiles of Starfleet personnel.
“In fact, I’d say that overall you’ve been an asset to us in the role.”
Hart gave a wane smile that faded quickly. He wondered if it was standard practice to package marching orders in between compliments. He still found his gaze directed to the table although he wasn’t really looking at anything in front of him. Quinn tapped the tablet in his hands on the table once, like a gavel-rap.
“And that’s why, to cut right to it at this hour, Starfleet will not be accepting your resignation at this time.”
Danen looked up now at the Admiral, but found himself unable to speak, his mouth opening a quarter-inch but delivering nothing.
The Admiral’s crow’s feet returned.
“We need you out there, Dan.”
With the informal use of his name, Hart suddenly felt something lift from him. The weight of a role he’d indicated he’d indicated a desire to be free of.
“With all due respect, Admiral, my resignation was something I’ve put a great deal of thought into. It’s not borne on the back of recent events.”
The Admiral nodded, and then rubbed at his mouth with his hand eliciting a scratching sound from the light stubble already forming around it. He then sat back against the back of his couch and considered something for a moment before he continued.
“Hart, as a Captain, your attention is focused on your crew. It comes from your background as a ship’s counsellor, no doubt. For many years you were privy to the personal side of life on a Starfleet vessel. I’d venture a guess that you came to an understanding of a ship’s operation that most Captain’s don’t ordinarily get a glimpse of.”
Hart breathed deeply. He was suddenly aware that he was starting to feel annoyed, but concentrated on letting it go, trying instead to focus on Quinn’s reasoning, since he was quickly gathering he’d want a solid grasp of it before leaving this meeting.
“Yes, that’s true, sir.”
Quinn sat forward again.
“The trouble is, Captain, that you seem to regard this as a burden rather than an asset.”
Hart looked down at his feet.
“Admiral, I’m resigning because I’m responsible for the deaths of 72 crewmembers under my command, because...”
Quinn interrupted him. “Because you take their deaths personally?”
Hart didn’t respond, so the Admiral continued.
“I’m currently overseeing hundreds of ship’s, Captain, where many of my finest officer’s feel the need to punish themselves for losses. They have trouble with the fact that they’re going to have to send men to their deaths. You all learn it at the Academy - to let go. But nothing can train you for how it feels to lose those that have come to trust you. Friends. People you've lived with every day for months. Years. It's hard to come to grips with. It's a Starfleet officers greatest challenge and it's important to overcome. It’s especially important now in a time of war since it’s almost certain that people are going to die.”
Hart looked up as the Admiral paused briefly.
“I’ve sent alot of officers to their deaths, Captain. Alot. We all question the meaningless of it at times. That must be especially true of someone who has helped people find meaning in their lives – watching it get taken away. Especially since, as a Betazoid, you're also keen to the emotions of your crew.”
Hart’s mouth went tight, constricting his words as much as the tightness developing in his throat.
“I don’t believe I’m fit for the role of Captain, sir.”
Quinn blinked once, slowly.
“Then you’re wrong, Dan. What you’re feeling right now is exactly the thing that makes you one.”
Hart nodded slowly and then looked to the door. There was a moment of silence between them. In the quiet, Danen once more became aware of the hum of the station. Those things usually ignored on the periphery. He shifted forward to the edge of his couch, getting ready to leave.
“Is that all, Admiral?”
Quinn was motionless at first, then rubbed his eye, feeling fatigue starting to set in.
Hart watched him reaching for a sheaf of papers.
“While I’m not accepting your resignation, I will be reassigning you. You’re to take up a new command.”
Hart’s eyes widened in response. To his surprise, the thought that he wouldn’t be captaining the Gnostic anymore suddenly made him feel put out. To his chagrin, he realized that on another level that served to reinforce what Quinn was saying. Some greater part of him was invested in the helm of the ship he’d thought he wanted to get away from.
“A new ship?”
“Not exactly.” Quinn drew out a sheet and turned it as he placed it in front of Hart, performing the gesture almost ceremoniously.
Hart was suddenly caught in a swell of emotion, so he put a hand over his mouth as he swallowed it, looking at the schematics in front of him.
“You’ll be captaining the Libertus. I believe you’re familiar with it.”
Danen just nodded, picking up the sheet.
“As the ship’s counsellor in the past, there may be a few on board that you saw in that capacity. I imagine that might present an issue for some, having you return as Captain.”
For the briefest second, Hart considered the professional complications that could present themselves, but they were instantly swept aside, even as the Admiral reassured him as to why.
“I doubt it though, since most of the testimonials I’ve received have actually called for you personally.”
The betazoid’s mind went back a few years, conjuring up some old names and faces from more innocent times. There was suddenly a twinge of guilt over newer acquaintances.
“What about my current crew? There’s some on board I’d need to talk to first, personally.”
Quinn smiled. “Of course. Though, we have already notified a few people.”
Danen frowned. “Before you spoke to me? Even though I’d just resigned?” He tried to sound annoyed, but it mustn’t have sounded very authentic.
“A little presumptuous of us, I guess.” Quin said, failing at an apologetic reply. “But we’d already started shuffling our cards as you were returning from Hromi.”
Hart wondered if that had been before or after what had happened near Xarantine, but he didn’t ask.
“Your chief Science Officer has agreed to fill the opening on the Libertus, as has most of your bridge crew. We had a bit of difficulty accommodating people actually. Most want to go with you. Another sign of a good Captain.” The Admiral’s crow’s feet smiled at Hart.
It took a second for it to register.
“Sounds like alot of senior staff. Can I ask...?”
Quinn’s eyes went dim for a moment. “Away team never came back. Another party including their Science Officer went down and tried to fight for the bodies. There was almost a third mission before they came home. Turns out it works both ways, Dan. Sometimes a crew take the loss of a Captain personally too.”
Hart sighed. He knew what they must be feeling. Bailey and Schwik had been good friends of his back when he’d served aboard the Libertus. He wondered who else had gone down. Garrik probably. She’d not have left without her Captain.
“Can I count on you, Hart? Or do you still want to leave?”
Hart snorted. Like he had a choice now.
“I can see why you’re in charge around here, Admiral.”
Quinn smiled briefly, then moved to stand, grabbing two more folios as he did so, passing them to Hart as soon as soon as he was also on his feet.
“What have we here?” the Captain asked, flicking the first open.
“You’ve got a new crew member for you. Field appointment who requested assignment.”
Hart received another surprise as he glanced over the statistics in front of him.
“I believe that’s what everyone’s calling her, yes. She’s been having a bit of trouble getting along in the academy, so we decided to put her out in the field. Too much of an asset to us at this stage of the game not too, though I’d not let her know we said that. Got something of a ticket on herself already, which is half her classmates trouble.”
Hart smiled to himself, remembering the Borg they’d tried liberating a year ago.
“She asked for you by name, Hart. You must have made an impression.”
“Seems that way, yes.” He closed the folder and slipped both of them under his arm. “What’s the other?”
“Details on the fleet we’re sending you to. Designation is The Consortium, under the command of a Tymme Hunt. Give it a look over and then contact her as soon as you can. I’ll leave it to you both to work out the specifics, but I’ll let you each individually know Starfleet’s plans for you when I have them.”
Hart nodded, then put out his hand. Quinn took it, this time feeling the firmness in Hart’s grip.
“My thanks, Admiral. Most sincerely. I...”
“You’re most welcome, Captain. Now get out there and show ‘em why you’re exactly what Starfleet wants in command.”
Hart saluted crisply before he exited.