Phantom Academy Part I

“Why are we here?” Captain Johnathan Ruttidge asked with his arms crossed. He was thankful to be back on Earth after his crew went full mutiny and left him stranded in the Beta quadrant. But, he was abhorred at being forced to sit in the waiting room of the Dean’s office at Starfleet Academy. He would much rather have been surfing or lounging on the beach right now. He always thought it was a waste for the academy to be so close to the water. None of the students had time for frolicking in the ocean.

He was top of his class in his day and graduated a year early. It wasn’t that he loved exploration that much, he just wanted to get out of school as soon as possible. He didn’t take direction well. It was his belief that the only place worth being in life was at the top.

The only reason he ever worked hard was to make his way to a high position so no one could ever tell him what to do. That was why he worked to move up from ensign to captain in the fastest time possible. He was young, barely thirty, and most of his crew had been older than him.

One day, the crew decided they didn’t want his leadership and swiftly dropped him off on Veronous 7. Now, he sat with his fluffy blonde hair (longer than regulation allowed) flopping over his eyes as he talked. He looked over toward the other two beings in the room and waited for their reply.

“Obviously Admiral Binns has requested to meet with each of us.” Stated Ocktal. He said this to his human counterpart in a monotone voice. Even though he did not know for sure that the others were here to meet with Admiral Binns, he was, so of course it was a logical assumption.

Ruttidge was already annoyed with this Vulcan and his pointy ears. There had been a few Vulcans on his crew and all they ever cared about was being logical. It was annoying. He turned away from the Vulcan to face the woman on his other side.

Her dark skin and stark forehead ridges were distinctly Klingon. She wore her hair in a long braid down her back. Ruttidge followed the braid with his eyes down to where it stopped at her waist. There, he took a long look at her fine figure. She was obviously a fighter, and he wouldn’t mind rolling around with her on the sparring mat for a while.

“Stop staring at me!” She growled in an already angry voice. Ruttidge quickly looked away. Obviously he would not find interesting conversation with either of these two.

Ocktal looked over at the Klingon and noted how barbaric she was. Yelling in an Admiral’s office was as uncouth as it got. No doubt she was here to be reprimanded. He felt a twinge of dislike for her. Quickly, he squashed that emotion. It was a useless thing to feel, especially since he would never see her again after today.

“Captain Ruttige, Liutenant Ocktal, Commander Ma’ara; Admiral Binns will see you now.” Said the upbeat female secretary. All three stood simultaneously and headed through the door that had been opened for them.

Admiral Binns sat with her back them as they walked in. She was rocking slowly back and forth in her desk chair without speaking. The secretary quickly closed the door as soon as they were clear of it. With the door closed, Binns spun around in her chair and stared at them.

“The three of you are here because you’re all very ‘special’ cases.” Admiral Binns said in a professional tone. Ruttidge knew what the word ‘special’ meant in this context and he wasn’t pleased. Ocktal was standing as tall and straight as possible as if he had been complimented. Obviously he didn’t understand sarcasm. Ma’ara was standing with her fists clinched. Her expression was strained but she did not speak. This was one angry woman.

“Special how?” Ruttidge asked skeptically.

“The three of you have manage to plow through every position, station, and assignment that Starfleet has to offer. There’s not a single outpost you haven’t been banned from or fellow officer you haven’t rubbed the wrong way. Each of you is one wrong step away from being dishonorably discharged!” Binns was still smiling politely but her face started to turn red as if the oxygen was low.

The look on Ocktal’s face showed that he finally understood what ‘special’ meant. He wasn’t pleased, but then again Ruttidge wasn’t sure the Vulcan was feeling anything.

Ma’ara was definitely feeling something. Her fists were pumping open and closed and she was breathing heavily. Ruttidge took a small step away from her. He wasn’t afraid, but it seemed like she needed her space.

“So if there are no positions left for us to be assigned to and we’re not being discharged, what is happening?” Ruttidge asked. He was going to be thoroughly upset if he got called all the way in here just to be told he was fired.

“The three of you are horrible officers, but you weren’t horrible students. In fact, all of you were damn near at the top of your classes. The fact that such fine students could turn out to be officers of your caliber leads me to believe that some of the academy’s lesser students could one day become our finest officers. It is for this reason that I have decided to create the Starfleet Academy Remediation Program.

Normally students who can not handle the rigorous academy curriculum are encourage to dropout, but not anymore. You three will be in charge of molding the minds of five of Starfleet Academy’s underachieving students.” Binns interlaced her fingers as if she were proud of herself.

“You want us to babysit five flunkies?” Ruttidge was annoyed at the thought.

“I do not do well with children…..or weaklings.” Ma’ara spoke. It was obvious that she was speaking through gritted teeth, holding back her rage.

“What if we don’t do it?” Ruttidge asked.

“Then you will be dishonorably discharged.” Binns said coolly.

“Go ahead! Discharge me! I’m not attached to this job at all!” Ruttidge exclaimed. He was a Starfleet captain, not a babysitter.

“Fine. But I must remind you, Captain Ruttidge, that being dishonorably discharged from Starfleet carries some heavy connotations. You will lose all of the power and respect that comes with the title of Captain. Also, the only jobs you will be able to get will be lackey starter positions. You’ll be at the bottom of the totem pole where everyone else can order you around.” Admiral Binns ended her statement with a small smirk on her lips.

She knew she had Ruttidge beat. She had known him since he was a student at the academy and had personally witnessed his disdain for authority figures.

“Ugggh I’ll do it.” Ruttidge said reluctantly. Anything was better than starting over. Ma’ara grunted in agreement as well. Ocktal said nothing.

“What about you Liutenant Ocktal? You’ve been quiet.” Binns asked.

“If these are your orders, I will follow them.” Ocktal said succinctly. Binns leaned back in her chair, pleased. She gave the three officers directions to the new building that would house the remediation program.

The building was on the far east end of the Californa campus. The building had old style architecture that hadn’t been used since the early 2100s. It was basically run down and unusable. Ruttidge didn’t want to go in.

“We’re going to be working and living together so we should at least be formally introduced. I am Captain Johnathan Ruttidge but you can call me Rutty.” Ruttidge said with a huge smile. No one else was smiling.

“Calling a superior officer by a nickname is inappropriate, Captain Ruttidge.” Ocktal put an emphasis on the word captain.

“Rutty sounds like a childish and demeaning name. It would please me greatly to call you that.” Ma’ara stated. She had a small smirk on her face. She had a hard time respecting weak men and ‘Rutty’ seemed to be all talk no action.

Ruttidge knew that he was being insulted but what could he do? He had asked that they call him Rutty.

“I am Liutenant Ocktal. Please call me as such.” Ocktal said.

“Commander Ma’ara.” Ma’ara stated. She stood straight and puffed out her chest with pride. Ruttidge definitely noticed this. Ocktal repeated Ma’ara’s name perfectly but Ruttidge couldn’t do it. He kept pronouncing it as Maaaaara or Ma-a-ra. Eventually Ma’ara just couldn’t take it.

“Calling me Commander will suffice.” She said as Ruttidge tried to pronounce it once more. He immediately stopped trying to pronounce her name and changed the subject.

“Well now that we have the name situation out of the way, how about we get to know each other. I personally was removed from my last post when my crew mutinied and left me stranded on Veronous 7. How about you two?”

“I punched my previous commanding officer in the throat. It was dishonorable but I do not regret it.” Ma’ara was staring off into the distance as if she were remembering something amusing. Both Ruttidge and Ocktal took a few steps back from her.

“You punched a superior officer and were not discharged from Starfleet? How is that possible?” Ocktal asked. His intellectial curiosity got the best of him.

“I have never lost in battle, my hand to hand combat skills are unrivaled, and I am an expert on every man made weapon from here to the delta quadrant. If Starfleet does not keep me, they run the risk of me fighting against them. They can’t afford to take that risk.” Ma’ara stated. She wanted to give him a quick leg sweep for questioning her place in Starfleet but instead simply glared at him.

“No one is questioning your usefulness to Starfleet, Commander. Lieutenant Ocktal, what happened in your last assignment to land you here?” Ruttidge asked to diffuse the situation.

“It does not matter what I have done previously. I am here now and I am more than qualified for this current assignment. Also, it is 7:55 and the students are due to arrive at 8. We should greet them.” Ocktal stated robotically. Ruttidge flipped over his wrist to look at his analog watch. It was an ancient relic that he had owned his entire life. He couldn’t do without it.

How had the time gone by so fast? The students would be here any moment and their ‘school’ looked like it should have been slated for demolition 100 years ago. Not to mention, none of the so called professors were getting along. Things were not off to a great start.

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