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Return of the Curmudgeon

Posted on Thu Oct 7th, 2021 @ 3:31pm by Vice Admiral Nathan Cowell, MD

Mission: Episode 2: 18th and Constitution
Location: Various
Timeline: Mission Day 9 at 1030

[RADM Cowell’s Ready Room, USS Arizona]
[Sometime following the bombing on Earth]

Rear Admiral Nathan Cowell reached over his desk to grab his tea cup that was resting off to his right on the surface of the furnishing the old man was perched behind. For all appearances, the cup was extremely ornate and expensive looking to be the vessel for nearly ice cold sweet tea. The irony was solely known to the holder of the cup, as not a single person residing on the Sovereign-class vessel would have ever dared to even question the old man’s beverage and drinking vessel choices in the first place. If it weren’t for his intercom suddenly filtering in the voice of the ship’s Executive Officer, Cowell might have actually gotten to enjoy his delightfully ironic beverage.

“Admiral, a priority one message is being sent to you from Starfleet Command,” the voice of the young Commander currently manning the bridge announced.

“Fucking hell…” Nathan growled under his breath before demanding that the call be patched through.

A floating holographic display began to form in the old man’s field of vision, solidifying in just enough time for Cowell to see the Federation Seal pop up before a wall of text drifted into his view.

From: Starfleet Personnel Headquarters
To: Rear Admiral Nathan Cowell, MD

RE: Promotion and Transfer Orders

You are hereby ordered and directed to report to Starfleet Command to assume the duties and responsibilities as Director, Starfleet Medical. Pursuant to this positional promotion, you are also being promoted to the rank of Vice Admiral, effective immediately upon receipt of these orders. Given the nature of the events, a separated encrypted message will follow these orders, flagged at above Top Secret.

The old man leaned back in his chair for a moment, absorbing the information and the allusions that came with it.

“Someone must have died if I’m who they had to pick for that shit post…” Nathan couldn’t help but grumble. He also wasn’t overly thrilled about having stepped up the ladder another rung. He wasn’t too far away from jobs he really had no desire to do. Commanding an entire task force had been bad enough already.

Cowell took a moment to correct his now outdated uniform before walking out onto his bridge, which was a buzz with the normal activity one might expect from a flagship vessel coordinating mission operations. His first office was the first to notice the change in his uniform, causing him to bolt out of his own chair.

“Should I congratulate you, Admiral, or offer condolences?” the man was rather quick to take notice of the dower mood his commander was in.

“A little bit of both, I suppose…” Nathan said, crossing the short distance between his Ready Room and the center seat on the bridge. Once seated, the old man reclined a bit and made his announcement.

“Admiral Cowell to all task force commanders. I have been reassigned and will be departing the area with the Arizona. Captain Holiday will take over command of the task force until such time as a replacement is named,” the old man said before turning to his helmsman.

“Akron, plot a course for Earth, maximum warp. In fact, if we can push this vessel past that, all the better,” Cowell demanded.

The young Lieutenant sitting at the CONN nodded wordlessly and made preparations to depart, not even bothering to point out just how unreasonable the request actually was. No one else on the bridge made any moves to challenge the order either, given that the Admiral wasn’t the sort to entertain something like an objection to his requests anyway.

Cmdr. Morris, however, seemed a bit mystified by the atmosphere surrounding his orders. Even in the most urgent of situations during his time on the Arizona, the Admiral had never once made such an outlandish request.

“Admiral…” the man started to asked before finding himself at the wrong end of a withering glare from his superior.

“There’s been an attack on Starfleet Command. A lot of good people are dead, and a lot more are going to die if we don’t hurry the hell up. How’s that for justification?” the Admiral explained in a low growl.

Realization struck the younger man like a bolt of lightning. The number of times Earth had been made a target of any sort of attack could be counted on two hands, and even then it was generally monumental in nature. Armed with that information, Cmdr. Morris closed his mouth and sank back into his chair, redirecting his energy toward doing what he could to help speed along their departure.

“I’ll bet today is Tuesday, too…” the old man grumbled.

[Starfleet Medical Headquarters]
[MD 8, 1500 hrs.]

The headquarters building that Vice Admiral Cowell stood in was nothing short of hellish. Not a single person within view was moving at anything less than a run. Oddly, rather than be upset at how unprofessional it looked to have doctors and nurses running everywhere they had to go, the old man thought it was rather appropriate for them to have such a sense of urgency about their job. Even better, not a single person stopped to even question his arrival or his entry into the deepest parts of the building, something he would normally have had a slight problem with if they didn’t need all hands on deck to attend to the crisis on hand.

“Report,” the old man demanded when he walked into a ward attending to the worst of the victims.

One of the nursing staff shot up from her place at a nearby station and rushed over, “Did you need something, Admiral.”

“Re… port…” Nathan repeated, slowly enough to highlight just how thrilled he was to have to say something more than once.

“Ah… yes sir,” the man straightened up, “We currently have fifty-seven patients on the floor, all of them in critical or near critical condition. We’re currently running a port and starboard shift rotation to try and meet the demand for care. Seventeen people are in dire need of surgeries but we don’t have anyone experienced enough to perform them on patients as badly wounded as they are.”

“Fine… prep an OR and get me some bodies to assist. Give me the worst ones first and keep them coming until we’ve gotten them all out of the way.”

The man stood with his mouth hanging open as the Admiral started to remove his coat. It was only when the garment was flung into his face that he came back to himself, “Are you a physician, Admiral?”

“No, I’m a fucking plumber…” Nathan grumbled, “Now get your ass in gear and get me the work ups on those patients.”

“Uh… right… I’m on it,” the man stammered before deciding that thinking wasn’t going to yield results. A few moments after the man dashed off, still clutching Nathan’s overcoat, one of the doctors who’d been at the far side of the room came walking up to the old man.

“Is that old Doc Cowell?” the woman said with a smirk on her face.

“Watch that ‘old’ shit, Margret,” Nathan said with a frown that could almost be confused with a grin.

“Well I’ll be damned…” the woman said, grabbing ahold of the man’s outstretched hand, “Whoever had the foresight to call you in deserves a year’s supply of Romulan Ale. It’s been a warzone down here.”

“I can see that. What’s this I hear about a surgeon shortage?”

The woman couldn’t help but frown, “Unfortunately, some of our own physicians… the Director included, were killed in the blast. We’ve put out calls to every world within the sector to send anyone they could spare, but we’re still just barely managing…”

“We can talk about that later. Rustle me up some bodies and some scrubs and lets me and you save some lives, how ‘bout it?”

“Right behind you, Doctor.”

[Lounge, Starfleet Medical]
[MD 9, 1045 hrs.]

Admiral Cowell was lounging in a chair, a rather large whiskey glass in his hand. The woman sitting across from him looked no less worn out as she practically congealed in the chair opposite him.

“I don’t miss this shit…” Nathan said, sipping on some of the non-synthetic, very real alcohol that was in his glass.

His companion laughed, “Bullshit… the Doc Cowell I know lived for this kind of thing. Swoop in, save lives, then saunter off like you’d just single-handedly saved the universe. I’ll admit, I’m jealous how you can make such complicated surgery look as easy as closing a scratch on a kid’s elbow.”

The old man took a moment to savor his drink before retorting, “Just have a few extra centuries of practice. Nothing magical about it.”

“Speaking of old folks…” the woman Nathan had called Margret smirked, “I hear that Admiral Sturnack decided to leave the other day without physician’s clearance. Since our deputy is only a Captain, no one around here had the balls to stop him from leaving.”

The comment made Nathan’s eyebrow quirk up, “The hell you say…”

The woman nodded with a devious smile, “Yep, just stormed out of here like he owned the place. I wasn’t there when it happened so I can’t say for sure, but from the rumors I heard, it was a rather tense exchange.”

“Sounds to me like you’re expecting me to do something about it…” the old man glared at his drinking companion.

“All I’m saying is… if you were in charge around here, that shit wouldn’t have happened.”

“Well, now that you mention it… I am in charge around here now,” Cowell’s lips curved slightly upward.

“Huh…” the woman tried to play it off, but she couldn’t help but smirk herself, “Wonder what’s gonna happen now that you know someone ditched the ward without your say so…”

“Yeah… I wonder,” Cowell said before knocking back his drink, “Might just have to pay my respects to the new boss…”

“Respects…” the woman snorted, “Sure, let’s go with that.”

[A mission post by]

Vice Admiral Nathan Cowell, MD
Director, Starfleet Medical
Starfleet Command


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