From the USS Meridian... "Out with the Old, In with the New" by Rear Admiral Kyle Pierce and Commander Anthony Manson Too many. Too many Lt. Commanders. Too many Commanders. Hell, in this case, too many Captains who wanted to duty of being the executive officer on one of the most top of the line starships in the fleet. Kyle had gone through about three dozen transfer requests, Starfleet records to back them up, and he knew that his box was loaded with almost two dozen more. The paperwork and the searching, he felt, would never end. Kyle Pierce, recently promoted to Rear Admiral from Commodore, had the daunting task of sorting through the new applicants to serve in the capacity as his first officer. He had managed to filter out about six that seemed promising with enough experience in command - or an uncanny, albeit inexperienced, record that appealed to him. The second interview was due any moment and he hadn't prepared a line of questioning. He had winged it through the first. Commander Anthony Manson. That was the extent of his knowledge of the officer coming to meet with him. Anthony reached out to tap the chime, hesitant for a moment. You can do this, Anthony told himself. It was just new, no matter the extra command shifts he took on the Avalon. The possibility of being regularly the First Officer loomed over him like a pillar and no sight to where it ended. Shirking emotions and off-the-wall worries, Anthony tapped the chime and straightened out his tunic. Moving the last of the PADDs to the left of his command console, Kyle ran a hand through his hair. He was auditioning to be this man's commanding officer as much as the young commander was interviewing to be his second in command. "Enter," he said a little more harshly than he had wanted, but that's the way things were in the middle of a war. Times were hard and the patience had worn thin. Anthony entered, letting his hands fall to behind him. The doors slid behind and Anthony looked directly at the his superior officer. "Admiral Pierce," he greeted with a quiet but strong tone. The formal greeting wasn't to impress, boast, or convey a sense of arrogance, but Alder taught him a few things, and a strong tone usually worked well. No commanding officer like soft spoken from the get-go in interviews. The Admiral stood, offering his hand, and then motioning to the chair in front of his desk. "Please, Commander, have a seat. Before we begin, please make sure you thank Fleet Captain Ketchum for his compassion to letting one of his finest officers away for a chance to further their career. He has expressed, however, that losing such a fine officer would be to his detriment." Kyle smiled, retaking his own seat. "Oh, I'll be sure to let him know," Anthony replied with a smile of his own. Leaning back and placing his left leg onto his right, Anthony continued with a bigger smile, "But to be honest, there's someone there that'll take good care of his ship." "Perhaps another officer I could recruit? Our last firefight with the Dominion Forces were monumental in proportions. I lost my Chief Engineer and my Chief Medical Officer in addition to my first officer and my helmsmen." He wanted to say it with a smile, as was his way, but the horrors of war were still at the forefront of his mind. "I'm sure there are plenty of people to promote on the Avalon. Tell your Captain to spread the wealth." Anthony made a light laugh, "If he did that, he'll be lodging complaints that a certain Admiral's stealing his few good men." He shrugged lightly, "The last assault the Avalon made took a heavier toll. Our security officer had to go into decontamination, our engineering staff took a toll.." There was an absent nod, "We've had our messes too, to sum it all up." "Everyone has, and that's the unfortunate element of war. There are losses all the way across the board, I'm afraid." "True, but honestly I don't try to think too much about it. When there's a wing of Jem'Hadar ships coming at us, I can't for a second start thinking about the choas going on anywhere else but here. Sometimes you take the choatic mess here and deal with it, worry about the rest later, when you're safe and breathing." Nodding his complete agreement, Kyle picked up a PADD with all intention of getting to the nitty gritty of such a conversation. "Your record seems impeccable, Commander, high marks across the board. It would seem that your expertise lies in ship operations?" Anthony nodded, "When you get the hang of it, it's almost automatic. Trick is to not let that 'automatic' feeling set in, or else the whole ship suffers. I'll be honest, there are a few things that aren't exactly up to par, which is my security proficiency in arm to arm and weapons, but I've been working on those as quickly as I can due to shift schedules and such." "I admire your dedication to furthering your abilities. It would seem that you are quite comfortable in command as well. It would appear that Commander Skyler was incapable of performing her duties for some time and you filled in expertly." Kyle leveled his gaze at the Commander opposite of him. "Tell me, how did that experience feel to you?" "Weird, different, and..." Anthony frowned, eyes staring back but the look was for something inside himself, "Hard. Half the time I was wondering if the decisions I made then and there would be good in the future. My first day was stressful enough, but after awhile, I simply adapted. Stick to the decision and hope it was for the best, if not... always have a plan B." Kyle almost laughed, "Welcome to the only thing they ever teach you in Command Training that's worth a damn." "I learned the hard way," Anthony laughed along lightly, "but yes, I think I have a sense of how to command. I won't say I know how to effectively command, frankly, nothing is ever certain. But I'll sure as hell give it my best." Anthony shrugged at that a little. "Commander, do you think you're ready to be the first officer of the Meridian?" "I asked myself the same question when I was offered the position, Admiral. And yes, I do think I'm ready. I may fall into my doubts, but I don't let my emotions cloud what I have to do." "That's all I can ask for." Kyle stood up and offered his hand. "We'll be in touch, Commander. You'll know by the end of the week whether or not you've got the position. Until then, make sure you give Ketchum my best and continue doing exactly what you're doing. If it isn't the Meridian, son, it'll be some other ship. I promise you that." "Thank you, sir." Anthony gave a nod and walked out. Son? Anthony let it go, wondering just what the Admiral really thought about him. Quit worrying, go... go do something, Anthony thought he heard Alder say. Stepping into the turbolift and headed for the lounge. --------------------------------- Food fight? Enjoy some healthy debate in the Yahoo! Answers Food & Drink Q&A.