“Lieutenant Bowens, report to Rear Admiral Seagraves on the double.”
The announcement floated in over the noise of the officers’ lounge, causing a few eyes to turn towards where the eponymous lieutenant was sitting at the bar. Bowens reveled in the moment of attention, even though internally he was wondering what he’d done to be the subject to the notice of the Fourth Fleet’s operations officer. He tossed back the rest of his synth-whiskey and smirked at the junior lieutenant he had been chatting up, an Andorian in a blue uniform that complemented his lovely cerulean skin.
“Duty calls. I’m sure I’ll see you around,” Bowens said, winking before he slipped off of the barstool and headed to the nearest turbolift. Hopefully being summoned by an important flag officer would mean that the twenty minutes he’d spent talking to Lieutenant Soran wouldn’t go to waste. The lift deposited him in the loftiest heights of Starbase Bravo, where there was an unusual amount of activity going on: ensigns and yeomen rushing back and forth across the long lobby of the Fleet Operations Center, which was lined with workstations facing inward on either side. A scramble in that office was never a good sign.
“Lieutenant Bowens for the admiral,” Bowens said, once he got to the end of the room and came to the Admiral’s yeoman.
“Right this way, Lieutenant,” the yeoman replied; Bowens noted the older Grazerite woman’s choice of his rank rather than ‘sir,’ probably as a subtle reminder of the distinct difference in their relative importance, despite his higher rank.
Bowens passed into Seagraves’ office to find her and a young captain both standing behind her desk and pointing to various displays being projected above it. From his position, the displays were backward but clearly starship assignment charts.
“Lieutenant Harper Bowens reporting as ordered, sirs,” Bowens said, coming to attention.
The captain didn’t look up, gesturing for Bowens to come closer. “The Mare Imbrium is available. I’ll have a scouting package fitted,” he said, looking at the admiral, who nodded. “Lieutenant, your team is going to deploy to the Archanis sector immediately.”
“Sir, my team and I are already assigned to the Arcturus,” Bowens said.
Seagraves looked up and fixed Bowens in an icy stare. “I don’t believe that Captain Bancroft asked you what your current assignment was, Lieutenant. Does it look like we would be unaware of that? You’re detailed to me until further notice, and if you perform this mission well, you will be given back to the Arcturus. Is that understood?”
Bowens swallowed. “Of course, Admiral.”
“Good. I don’t like having to change my deployment plans, but we have an emergent situation with the Klingons—rogue Klingons. You and your team will take a runabout to join our deployments along the Klingon border in the Archanis sector,” Seagraves said, putting her palms flat on the desk and looking over at Captain Bancroft.
“Your orders are to scout these systems for any footholds being made by the Hunters of D’Ghor. You will report them back to Starbase 27 and not under any circumstances engage them on your own,” Bancroft said.
“You’re going to find every little hidey-hole they have, so we can send our heavier hitters in to deal with them,” Seagraves added. “A hazard team on a runabout is perfect for this job., and you’ll be supplied with additional technicians.”
“Understood, sir. When do I deploy?”
“Was there something about the word ‘immediately’ that was confusing? Dismissed, Lieutenant!” Seagraves barked.
“Runabout Bay 23, Lieutenant. Briefing details are being sent to your craft,” Captain Bancroft said, as Bowens retreated from the room.
“Get me Beckett. Let’s see if there are any other ways he’d like to manhandle my carefully-planned deployment schedules,” Bowens overheard Seagraves order before the doors close behind him. The space in front of him remained a hub of activity, as the staff presumably were working on pulling dozens of other teams and starships onto this new front.
Bowens tapped his badge, walking as quickly as was dignified out of the Fleet Operations lobby. “Bowens to Arcturus Alpha Team. We’re deploying early. Meet in Runabout Bay 23 on the double,” he ordered.