Table of Contents
Commander Reginald Dean Kyle sat at his desk, running through the admiral's appointment calendar for tomorrow. He already knew the day's routine and appointments, but reviewed them one more time, just to be sure. Tomorrow would be a very busy day as would the rest of the week. There were the Enterprise B launch preparations, dedication of the new Academy library, Betazed's official acceptance as a member of the Federation and so much more. And, those were just the public events; there were a few of the not so public ones as well. All of these demanded a lot of attention to detail and planning.
At any given moment during the day, the admiral could, and usually did, request a specific item from the day's itinerary. More than likely, it would involve a change that would require an intimate knowledge of the schedule. Kyle would then be required to rework the entire schedule immediately. It was at moments like that when Kyle could really dislike the admiral. Not him personally, of course, but his work habits and eccentric behavior.
Kyle often considered the admiral one of the classic absentminded types. But then he had moments of brilliant insight and some of the admiral's work had put Starfleet where it was today, on top. A close friend tried to explain the admiral to Kyle by saying that small things like appointments probably interfered with his thought processes which blurred the 'bigger picture'. Kyle had nearly laughed at the idea, but in retrospect perhaps it wasn't too far from the truth after all.
As he finished reviewing the schedule on the view screen, Kyle transferred the data to a stenocorder for safe keeping. The compact tricorder could be carried anywhere, so any last minute changes could be made a bit easier.
Finally finished, the weary commander slumped back in his chair and let out a sigh. He glanced over his right shoulder just enough to catch sight of the massive ship's clock that occupied the entire corner of the office. '1940 hours,' he told himself, 'another long day.'
He turned around to study the antique. What was the history of that clock again? He was definitely overtired and his thoughts were getting foggy. The clock came from an ancient battleship, broken up after World War I had ended. It was one of the few surviving pieces which were saved by the admiral's family. Since then, it had been passed along, generation after generation until it rested in the admiral's outer office, and in Kyle's way!
Other than the clock, there were paintings, a large brass inclinometer, a beautifully crafted sextant, and Kyle's personal favorite, a bust of Admiral Nelson. At least the man did have taste. If only the oversized clock was somewhere else.
It took a genuine effort, but Kyle finally got up. He called up the computer and shut down his work console, secured the desk and terminal, then reduced light levels to bare minimum. He walked slowly across the outer office to the doorway of the admiral's private office. His original intention was to secure the area and go home but as the door slid open he stood motionless in the opening and stared blankly, thinking.
In total contrast to the relative clutter of Kyle's outer office and receiving area was the admiral's office. Relatively free of ancient art and memorabilia, other than the oversized desk and a few chairs, only two items occupied the room. At one end of the office was a huge, two hundred gallon salt water aquarium. On the other end, directly over the admiral's desk, was an equally large oil painting of the H.M.S. Hood. The portrait showed the ship as she looked just prior to her sinking; cutting through the rough North Atlantic at nearly thirty knots. Not bad considering the period of time, the weight of the ship and other factors.
Kyle sat in the admiral's chair and pivoted in order to study the painting more closely. The ship's battle record was short, so he could not understand why the admiral displayed the painting so prominently.
Turning the chair slowly back to the original position, Kyle studied the large aquarium across the room. For a few minutes he watched the largest fish swim absently back and forth. Constantly bumping along the glass, it looked for a way around the invisible barrier without a chance of finding a way out. The scene reminded Kyle of himself. In fact, it was almost painful to watch the fish.
What were the words that Captain Terrell had used to describe him? 'Fussy and erring on the far side of caution.' It had been those very attributes which had worked so well within Starfleet. He had excelled as an aide and special assistant.
Kyle thought back. After the horrible mess that had resulted from Khan's rampage, including the loss of Captain Terrell and the Reliant itself, he had done some major soul searching. Stuck on Ceti Alpha V for what seemed like an eternity before being rescued, he had watched more than a dozen of his friends die. Prior to that, he had seen many more killed by Khan and his pirates during their takeover of the Reliant.
He shuddered at the memory of those days. Even he had been severely beaten for not providing the information the Khan had asked for. Chekov had saved him that day. Under Khan's influence, Pavel had provided the necessary data and placated the old cut-throat, temporarily anyway. Kyle was always grateful for that, otherwise he would have been the next to die.
When the Reliant's crew was finally rescued, the whole affair hit him hard. So many dead, even Spock and Captain Kirk's son. What a waste! The real shock though, wasn't felt until the survivors returned to Starfleet. They found out that Kirk, McCoy, Sulu, Chekov, Uhura and even Scotty had participated in the theft of the Enterprise. Scotty had even sabotaged the Excelsior.
Those events were the straw that broke the camel's back. Kyle's desire to return to space duty evaporated. It wasn't fear that turned him; he was simply disillusioned and very disappointed in his old crewmates. After only a ten-day leave, he put in a request for duty at Starfleet Headquarters. It turned out to be a timely request as the next day he was notified of cancelled orders for duty on the Excelsior.
Being an adjutant or aide was good duty, but it did slow down his chances for promotions. Only officers on shipboard duty in space could count on a steady rise through the ranks. It had even reached the point now, where he was certain his file was marked as 'unfit for promotion.' Besides all that, he also felt trapped. He had served under three different flag officers and received good reviews from each, but he was going nowhere. He had been tempted to reapply for space duty again, but he was more inclined to leave Starfleet altogether.
On that thought, he stood up and walked out slowly. As he called for the computers to turn off the lights and shut down systems, he made a promise to himself to discuss his dilemma with the admiral tomorrow. It would be a resignation.