Log Entry 151115.158

We ambled into Starboard-7, our moods having lifted on the way. Rutter had explained it in more detail and it really was as simple as we had gleaned from the meeting.
Rutter's parents had been deeply disappointed by his assignment to the Earhart, but couldn't argue it at the time as it was a done-deal by the time they heard about it. That didn't mean that they liked it; they didn't, and had put a great deal of effort into getting him assigned to a ship with a more 'conventional' captain and crew. That ship was the USS Epiphany, which was not only a Galaxy class ship but has an outstanding reputation comparable to that of the flagship of the Fleet. But Rutter didn't want it. A year ago he might have done but not now.
After our little run-in (the one where the three of us ended up having a punch up in the cargo bay), Ensign Rutter was sent back to the Academy for three months to brush up on his skills. Al and I were also been sent to the Academy but as new cadets on the Cadet Development Programme, a programme that will take us over four years to complete. For us it was more of a promotion than a punishment seeing as we were just non-commissioned crew, but there was a catch—two in fact.
Firstly, Rutter was assigned as our mentor and second, we were told, in no uncertain terms, that if one of us failed, all three of us would fail ... and thus it is that we are bound together.
I can't say that there was any one particular event that had turned us into the best of friends. In fact, I can't say that I had thought of us as being best buddies until this very moment, but that is what we are. We have just sort of melded over the months into a team that works well together, and it's not just us.
The Earhart was a cursed ship with a very poor reputation. When she was brought back into service, established Starfleet officers didn't want to transfer to her as they felt it would set back their careers. It is also a very small ship—and Intrepid class. What that meant was that anyone who asked for a posting onto the Earhart might get the opportunity to do something other than be just another minion. It was a very attractive opportunity to young ensigns, who would only ever be a very small cog on a galaxy class ship, to show what they can do. With that in mind, a whole bunch of people, upon whom opportunity was unlikely to otherwise smile, transferred to the Earhart with us: Luke Brightman, Midas Yarrrow, Gideon Flavell and Icarus Blaney for a start—all very good friends of both me and Al; our group that Rutter nicknamed the Misfits ... until he became a misfit too.
As hoped, all of us had been able to shine. We had all had shifts on the bridge for a start—something that we'd never get to do on a Galaxy class ship, and even Rutter had found that he had 'grown'. For the first time in his life, things were expected of him, and mummy and daddy weren't there to bail him out. He was independent, his achievements were his own and he liked that, so there was no way on this Earth (or any other planet for that matter) that he was going to give it up and become a puppet again. That he had stood up to his father pleased him enormously. I don't think he'd ever done it before, not for a valid reason anyway.
We entered Starboard-7 and ambled up to the bar. We had expected to see Lieutenant Karl Vernai there. Karl was the TensO (Tensions Officer), an odd term that described his role as the person responsible for crew morale and entertainment, so could usually be found playing barkeep.
I think the Earhart is unique in having a TensO, though, as no one else I've spoken to has ever heard of such an appointment before.
Anyway, he was nowhere in sight. Instead, a jolly Denobulan was behind the counter, grinning broadly and chatting with his clients. We strolled up and he beamed us the most humongous smile ever. It was amazing the way the corners of his mouth rose and then kept on going into this huge arc. I couldn't help but smile back.
"Alexavia," he said jollily. "Most call me Alex, though."
I introduced the three of us and he laughed.
"Ah, yes! Your reputations precede you," he teased. "And what can I get you to drink?"
Despite our moods, we were on duty so ordered three soda and limes.
"So where's Karl?" I asked cheerily, but Alex's face fell.
"I am so sorry," he said. "Karl ... he's ... not here."
"I don't understand," I said. "Where's he gone?"
"Here," said Alex. He came around the bar, took me by the elbow and led us to a table where we all sat down. He picked up a paper coaster and began to play with its edges.
"Do you remember the diplohyozone?" he asked.
We did. It was the sedative the Dancers had used to control the crew. It caused severe fatigue and fuddled the mind.
"Well, it affected people in many different ways ... and different species too. As you will recall, Captain T'Roc was incredibly bad-tempered and under the Doctor's care for weeks afterwards. Karl, it seems, also suffered. He became despondent, but no one knew. In company, he was his usual, jolly self but at night, alone in his quarters, the depression set in."
The edges of the coaster were now shredded, grubby and curled. When he spoke again, his voice was low, soft and filled with sadness.
"And then one night, it became too much for him."
He stopped talking and the silence stretched before us. I felt sick.
"What happened?" I prompted.
"He was late for his shift. By lunchtime, when Starboard-7 wasn't open, Security was alerted. They went to his quarters but there was no answer. They used their security overrides to gain access and ..." he paused. "They found him. He had replicated a rope, tied it to a bulkhead beam and ... he hung himself."

Log Entry 151107.157

T'Roc was waiting in her ready room along with an admiral, a rather large one.
He was very tall, about 6' 4" and rotund. His plump face sported a smattering of short grey hair, and his complexion was clean and fresh, glowing with good health. He stood at ease, his hands clasped firmly behind his back, rocking on his heels, his cool, grey eyes solidly fixed upon T'Roc. A second admiral was also present via the wall mounted monitor. The air between the three, you could cut with a knife.
"Excellent, you're here!" snapped T'Roc. She was peeved, I could tell. Her lips were pursed and her eyes were studious. She glanced defiantly at the admiral in the room and began.
"Attention, ladies," she ordered, thrusting her chin out in preparation for a speech. We came to attention, standing before her, waiting for the dressing down that was to come.
"Computer: please make the following entry into the captain's log. For outstanding performance in the best of Starfleet tradition, Cadets Alice Johnson and Jenny Terran are made Acting Ensigns, assigned with all the duties and privileges of that rank. End of entry."
An almost indiscernible smile of self satisfaction flashed across her lips.
"Dismissed!" she barked and turned her back on us signalling that it was time for us to leave.
Flummoxed by the events, Al and I hesitated but soon turned to make our exit. As the door opened, though, Rutter stormed in. His face was deep red with anger. I can honestly say I have never seen him quite that riled up before. He bowled in, pushing Al and I back into the room, so rudely that I tripped over my feet and stumbled.
"What the bloody hell do you think you're playing at?" bellowed Rutter to the rotund admiral.
My jaw dropped. Rutter was Starfleet born and bred. Screaming at an admiral like that was simply not in his makeup.
The admiral, meanwhile, didn't deign to turn his head. Coldly, he repeated our dismissal, so Al and I turned to leave for a second time, but Rutter wasn't having it. He grabbed us by the shoulders, pinching our uniforms in his grip, turned us around and shoved us down into the two chairs nearest him. Out of the corner of my eye, I caught Al casting me a confused look.
"No!" shouted Rutter. "The three of us are in this together. 'If one of us fails, we all fail!' That was the deal, right?" he demanded of T'Roc.
T'Roc gave a modest nod of confirmation before wandering casually over to the fenestration to gaze out at the stars. What was going on?
I wondered if Rutter had been kicked out of Starfleet, demoted or something, but if that was true, T'Roc would be part of the conversation. As it was, she was distancing herself from the proceedings, happy to let the scene unfold before her.
"No one has failed, Rutter," said the admiral impatiently. "Now, I have dismissed the cadets—"
"Ensigns," T'Roc quietly reminded the admiral.
"—and I would like them to leave."
"Tough!" shouted Rutter. "They have every right to be here under the circumstances."
Circumstances? What circumstances, I asked myself.
"This is s Starfleet matter, Rutter—"
"Like hell it is. This is you ... again!"
Oh! This was personal. Who was the admiral? Could it be ... ?
"Indeed it is, but it is in your best interests, Rutter—"
"Nuts, is it! And stop calling me Rutter for crying out loud. My name is Frederick! Why give me a name if you're not going to use it!"
My lips parted as my suspicions were confirmed. This admiral was, indeed, none other than one of the Admirals Rutter—Rutter's father, in fact.
"I have never called you Frederick, and I don't intend to start now."
"Then why give me the damned name then?"
The admiral remained stoic.
"Well bollocks to the name, but this—" and he threw a datapad across the table towards him. I hadn't even seen it in his hand when he grabbed us, but he must have had it.
The datapad skipped across the desk and slid over the edge onto the floor with a dull thud. The admiral's eyes followed it, and he heaved a long, strained sigh.
T'Roc, meanwhile, continued to distance herself from the drama, but positioned herself against the window so that she could view both the stars outside and the spectacle within the room. Her face was sober, but I knew her too well. She was enjoying this.
"You are behaving like a child," Admiral Rutter chastised coolly.
"Perhaps that is because you are treating me like one!"
"On the contrary, Rutter. I know what is best for you—"
"No, you don't! You know what is best for you! And me being on the Earhart, that isn't best for you apparently!"
"Or you."
"And that is where you are so wrong!"
"On the contrary, this is an advancement to your career. You will transfer to the Epiphany—"
"I'm NOT going!" Rutter screamed, repositioning himself, preparing for a long speech.
"I can't say I chose a career in Starfleet because I didn't. It's what you decided I would do, and I did it because it was easy, but I didn't earn it. I just sailed through the Academy and my commission was handed to me, all because I am a Rutter—your son! I didn't have to work for any of it so none of it has held any value to me. I didn't really care about it either ... until now, that is.
"T'Roc is the only captain that has treated me as something other than the Admirals Rutters' son. Here, I'm just like every other officer and she has expectations of me. She made it clear that she wouldn't tolerate me cruising through Starfleet. When I screwed up, she was the one that gave me the opportunity to do something about it—to accept responsibility and be the officer I should be; to stand up and be counted ... or to step away, so it's as simple as this ..." Rutter's voice quietened. "I either stay on the Earhart or I resign." But the admiral didn't have time to respond. "Think about it," jeered Rutter and stormed out.
Al and I sat there for a few moments longer, but nobody said anything. I was the first to stand up.
"If you'll excuse us, ladies and gentlemen, I think Al and I have things to attend to." We gave a small salute and exited quickly.
Outside, in the corridor, we found Rutter. He was leaning against the wall, crouched, his hands on his knees, taking deep breaths to recompose himself.
"You okay," I asked.
He looked up. The anger had gone from his eyes.
"I take it that was Pater?" I asked.
He laughed weakly. "I need a drink," he said.
"Come on then. Starboard-7 it is."