Commander Thyriss stood outside the holosuite door. She had an urgent message from Starfleet; otherwise she would not wish to disturb the Admiral during his private time.
The Endeavour was still in the process of repairs after encountering a massive ionic storm. Adrift for days, the crew worked frantically to repair the vessel. The admiral worked 20 hours a day, crawling through Jeffries tubes and leading work teams personally. Commander Thyriss was often amazed how much knowledge regarding starship operations the admiral had accumulated in his many years in Starfleet.
However, he was the longest serving officer in the fleet. After his encounter with the Narvox alien, while he was an Ensign serving under Captain Kirk, something had changed within the young man. Along with some other subtle changes, his aging had slowed down considerably. He had remained younger in appearance then his years. The admiral said that that Narvox’s “soul” resided within him. Commander Thyriss was not certain if that were true, but sometimes the Admiral seemed to wax poetic and see with ancient eyes.
When the time had come up for retirement many years ago, the admiral had used every contact, every favor he could call in to remain in service. Finally, when all seemed to fail, he had threatened to permanently offer his services to the Klingons, who had no such age restrictions. The thought of losing all of that experience and knowledge had been a quandary for Starfleet. The admiral had told her that there had been some talk of murdering him, but the assassins failed. The Klingons were outraged that such action had been taken against the then new leader of the House of Gorkon, and a war was narrowly averted by the Babel Compromise, initiated by Ambassador Sarek. The ambassador was able to satisfy all parties; the admiral was allowed to remain in Starfleet; he could still rise in rank, but was required to obey the orders of those higher in the chain of command, even when he outranked them. Also, he could not become the commander of Starfleet without the unanimous support of the Federation Council. He would remain in personal command of a vessel, but would take command of larger groups when so ordered. To appease the Klingons, the admiral was allowed to take sabbaticals into Klingon space as needed. As an added gesture, the admiral had sent the d’k tahg he had used to kill the assassins to the High Council as a sign of Klingon honor. They were pleased.
Commander Thyriss knew that there were still those within Starfleet who hated the admiral for his “special” status, but the Federation was adaptable, and many unique individuals served under special circumstances. And, no one could argue with his successes.
Normally, a captain would command the vessel on which a fleet admiral had his flag, and Thyriss would be that captain. However, she enjoyed serving as Admiral Frennier’s Executive Officer, and he had given her ample opportunities to command the ship. She had turned down numerous chances to gain her own ship. Life was just too interesting on the Endeavor.
As the repairs to the vessel had passed the urgent stage, the ship’s medical officer had ordered the admiral to rest. After 8 hours in his quarters, he had come down here. She looked at which program was on. He was running “that” program again, with the safety protocols off as usual. She had hoped that he was running the Narvox cave program, which he did whenever he wanted to be alone with his thoughts. This one was nothing like that.
The doors opened, and all of Thyriss’ Andorian instincts bristled as she smelled blood. Lots of fresh blood. Her people were a warrior race, and dueling was in her nature. Her heart raced for a moment, before Starfleet training took over.
The landscape was dark and foreboding, with a hazy smoke filled sky. Klingon and Romulan corpses littered the ground as far as she could see. In the distance, Thyriss could make out a lone figure seated on a rock. As she approached, she saw that it was the admiral. His Klingon uniform was in tatters, and he had a deep gash in his left cheek. He cradled a broken bat’leth in his arms. His eyes had a distant appearance.
He seemed to see her out of the corner of his eye and acknowledged her presence.
“I was here, you know. During one of the many wars between the Klingons and the Romulans. In this unimportant, backwater system, two fleets met in mortal combat. The bloodlust was so great, both sides beamed down hundreds of troops to fight while the ships continued the struggle in space. So great was the emotion, both sides discarded their disruptors and fought hand to hand. For hours and hours we fought, while the bodies piled up. What a terrible struggle.”
“Sir, the Klingons won a great victory that day.”
“Yes, it was a great victory. They still sing songs of that day over the bloodwine. Both sides were singing their war songs as we fought, while joy and hatred ran together. I felt it too on that field. Kempo died with a smile on his face. My friend Kor fought beside me. He died in the simulation today. He would not like that. I did not break my bat’leth in the original battle either. So many friends lost that day.” His eyes stared into nothingness.
The blood was making Commander Thyriss giddy, and she thought that it was time to bring him back to the present.
“Sir, we have an urgent message from Starfleet. A Borg cube is headed towards Earth. Admiral Hanson is massing a fleet at Wolf 359 to stop it. We are too far away to join, so Starfleet has ordered us to stay here and watch the Cardassian border. There are indications that the Cardassians might try to take advantage of the Borg incursion to make some gains in the war.” The Federation and Cardassian Union had been fighting on and off for years.
He continued to look at the corpses.
“Commander, do you know why Starfleet keeps me on?”
“You are a very skilled officer with a great deal of experience.”
He shook his head. “Because I fight their wars for them. And I am good at it. I came out here to explore the galaxy, meeting new worlds and cultures. Instead, I have spent most of my life fighting one group of aliens or another. Now, it is the Cardassians turn. The war has been a stalemate for years, and Starfleet is hoping that I can tip the balance.”
“Sir, they want you to call back as soon as possible.” She touched his bloody cheek in a familiar way and smiled. “Might I suggest you go to Sickbay and get your injuries seen to? The Narvox alien might have slowed down your aging, but he slowed down your healing as well. You don’t want Command to see you this way.”
He smiled and touched her hand. “You are right. Have them contact Command and patch the call to Sickbay. And have someone bring me a fresh uniform.”
He looked around one more time. “The lust for conquest and glory caused all of this. Now, it is happening again. Nothing ever changes. Computer, switch off program.”
They walked into the corridor together.