Admiral William Evans sat in a chair that seemed to be two sizes to small, waiting for Admiral George Healy to call him into his office. He held a data-pad in one hand, and a stylus in the other; the almost-pen was slashing across the small computer's screen.
We were attacked three days ago, he wrote, and were caught completely off-guard. Admiral Healy ordered no prisoners to be taken, which strikes me as unwise. The Korx can trumpet it as an atrocity, and can start reprisals on the prisoners they hold. Not to mention, we won't be able to find out how these training grounds were discovered, or if we have a mole. Everyone seems to be amazed that we were attacked in Federation territory. What everyone seems to have forgotten is that this only recently became Federation territory after an invasion, and that we're close to the Korxian border. Why we would have training grounds for an important operation here is beyond me. I plan to take this up with Healy.
As he turned off the data-pad, Evans's grin somehow managed to be smug and bitter at the same time. If anyone read this, they wouldn't notice the anger he had put into it. He recorded his thoughts far more pungently on his personal console on the Barbados, but he needed this to blow off some of his frustration. He probably would have punched someone square in the jaw if he didn't.
Of course, if Starfleet Command, in its infinite wisdom, hadn't put one of the Allies' training grounds for the upcoming invasion--he was sure that was what they had been training for--so close to Korxian space, he wouldn't have had much anger to vent.
"If this doesn't wake the blackshirts up, nothing will," Evans muttered, then chuckled, even though it wasn't funny. Blackshirts used to be how enlisted men referred to officers they didn't like when the latter party couldn't hear, and they usually strengthened the slur with a variety of profane adjectives. Nowadays, both officers and enlistees referred to Starfleet Command by that scornful word.
A door at a far wall opened, and a sullen-looking ensign walked out, mumbling things hot enough to set his uniform on fire.
A junior lieutenant leaned over his desk so Evans could see him. "Admiral Healy will see you now," he said.
Evans stood up and walked through the doorway, wondering what Healy had to tell him.
After a short walk down the hall, Evans came to a metal door with ADMIRAL GEORGE HEALY painted on it in black letters. Evans pressed a button on the door, and it opened with a soft hiss. The man whom the door advertised sat at his desk, a cigar hanging from his mouth.
Healy was a dour-looking man in his late sixties, with the coldest grey eyes Evans had ever seen, and crow's-feet and frown lines that seemed more severe behind cigar smoke. After taking a long drag, Healy said, "So, you're Evans?" in a grim rasp, then blew an absurdly perfect smoke ring.
Coughing as he entered Healy's office,--he hated cigars--Evans replied, "Yes, sir. Reporting as ordered," and saluted. After taking a seat in front of Healy's desk he asked, "What did you call me here for--to your office, I mean?"
Healy made a small production of taking another drag from the cigar before replying, "You have alien crew members on your ship.”
It wasn’t a question. "Yes, sir," Evans replied cautiously, and then, even more cautiously, he added, "Why are you asking? As far as I can tell, they're as good at their jobs as humans."
Healy grunted, then rasped, "I may disagree with you there, but that's not my point. My point is, one of them is a Greyskin."
Evans winced. "Sir, I know you don't trust him, but I don't think he would have gotten on my ship--let alone in Starfleet--if there was a chance in hell he would turn on us."
Healy blew a cloud of fragrant tobacco smoke out his nose, then growled, "I seem to remember a human turning Judas for the Greyskins....and that you discovered him."
"He was actually press-ganged, and the prisoners we took from that ship all told us he was just a medic," Evans answered evenly.
This time, it was Healy who winced. The older man went back to safe ground: "How do you know that Greyskin is trustworthy?"
With absolutely no expression in his voice, Evans said, "Because Kralax ordered him killed, and he got pretty damn close to getting his wish."
"I know that," Healy said impatiently as he smashed his cigar into an ashtray, "But he joined Starfleet to kill Kralax; I've read your logs. But now, Kralax is dead; that admiral assassinated him. And so, how do you know he won't go rogue?"
"Tendath wants to be in at the death," Evans said simply. "He wants to see what's left of Kralax's Dominion---or perhaps the Dominion itself--wiped off the map. And," he added hastily, "I've been monitering his computer entries (covertly, of course), and had some of the crew spy on him; I won't mince words." Evans paused to let that sink in, then, in a low and deadly voice, added, "And I'll shoot him out an airlock if he ever turns on me."
Healy leaned back in his chair, working his jaw as if he was literaly chewing on Evans's words. "You're a bit more...thorough than most captains I've met," he said after a long pause. "Most of them would just monitor a suspicious crew member's computer or use informants. You're one of the few who's done both...but then again, you're the first one who has a Greyskin on his ship, let alone one who's an officer. Keep watching him, too; we both know with Greyskins, there's always an ulterior motive."
"I'll keep watching him, sir; don't worry about that," Evans said with finality. "I'll know right away if he does anything out of the ordinary...and if we were right for bebing suspicious."
Helay was silent as he lighted another cigar. "Good," he growled.
"One last thing, sir," Evans said as he stood up. At Healy's raised eyebrow he asked, "Why were we ordered not to take prisoners after the attack three days ago?"
Healy muttered something, then growled, "Orders from Starfleet Command: 'No prisoners taken when training facilities are attacked, no acceptions.' He couldn't have sounded more disgusted if he tried for a week.
"Starfleet Command. Of course." Evans's voice came out as a growl not that different from Healy's. He slauted the older admiral and stomped out of his office, shaking his head. "'War never changes'", he quoted to himself, which was very true: the higher-ups still made stupid mistakes, even in 2233.