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Returning to Duty

Posted on Tue Mar 7th, 2023 @ 5:46am by Commander William McCormick V

1,875 words; about a 9 minute read

Mission: Genesis
Location: Earth, Space Dock

For the fifth time, Will flexed the muscles in his arm. The doctors told him it was all in his mind, but sometimes he could feel that it wasn’t an OEM part. Sometimes, when he was exhausted, Will swore he felt tingling throughout the length of his arm. He shook his hand, casting away any remaining jitters and nervous energy. He wasn’t going to let the hard work and progress he made over the past year be in vain.

“Head my ass,” Will said, flexing again.

It didn’t matter how many damned shrinks they threw at him, Will proved he was of sound mind and having every centimeter of his body scanned, probed, and analyzed, he proved he was of sound body as well. He climbed out of the simulator for what seemed like the thousandth time and twisted off his helmet. Will glanced at the mirror-reflection of helmet’s visor and traced a finger over the only remnant of having his brains scrambled, half of his face scraped off, and the bones of his right arm crushed into oblivion. The scar that raced across the side of his head from his temples to behind his ear could barely been seen, but it was a bright as neon to him. Medics said it was barely noticeable.

“Commander McCormick?” a red adorned Lieutenant that was the embodiment of an admiral’s flunky if Will ever saw one.

Will pretended to inspect his helmet for blemishes before turning around to acknowledge the person behind him. Will stood at parade rest with his helmet and hands behind him, giving the gofer his best stare.

“What can I do for you, Lieutenant?” Will said.

“The Admiral will see you now.”

The sternness on Will’s face nearly cracked at the corner of his mouth. The day he so much looked forward to being was finally here.

“Will she now,” Will said, “then we best be about it, Lieutenant. Lead the way.”

“Aye, sir,” the junior officer said as he turned around and briskly walked towards the hanger exit.

Will followed in pursuit, hitching his helmet to the side of his jumpsuit. He gave scant thought of his less than pristine appearance before he was about go before the one person that had his whole career in the palm of her hands. If the Admiral didn’t know how he spent every waking minute, then damn her and the Starfleet she rode in on.

When they turned right instead of left, after a short walk, Will began to question the competency of the man ahead of him.

“Shouldn’t we have gone that way,” Will said, pointing in the direction of the turbolift that should have led them to the office complex.

“No, sir,” the officer said, “the Admiral is over here.”

Their destination was the first hanger and flight deck in close proximity to area that held the fighter simulators. While he thought he would eventually arrive at this location, he thought he would have orders and a destination in mind. Will licked and bit his lip before motioning the lieutenant to continue.

However, Will was brought to a stop as he moved passed the swished opening of the hanger doors. If beauty was indeed in the eyes of the beholder, then the first thing Will saw was a pure work of art. Twelve Gryphon-class warp fighters lined before him in two rows of six. For the first time in a year a smile broke out on his face. These were the live-action type and not the pretend type he’d been fooling with in the simulators.

“Mmmm, mother,” Will whispered to himself with a deep exhale and walked towards them in a trance.


The deep alto of a familiar voice broke the trance. Will turned to see his own mother standing in a familiar pose, at parade rest and an aura of smugness, with the young lieutenant in orbit.

“Admiral,” Will said clearing his throat and standing erect, hands at his side. “You wished to see me?”

Admiral Esther Jameson, currently of Starfleet Bureau of Personnel, eyed her youngest son. This was a dual-purpose inspection. To see for herself, of the physical and mental well-being of her offspring, and to see if he was actually fit for duty. The reports from his early career had washed the motherly concern of fear for his safety from her heart years ago and had accepted with resignation to render his fate to the stars. However, after experiencing the death of her husband, seeing him in the condition he first arrived at Starfleet Medical tried every fiber of her body. He was, after all, her baby boy.

“Like what you see, Commander?” Will’s mother asked, turning to the fighters.

A smile flashed on his lips before he responded. “Yes, ma’am. A fine sight for sore eyes.”
Esther grunted and raised an inquiring eyebrow at her son, “Haven’t you had enough?”

“No ma’am.”

Will refrained from speaking more, lest he give away his eagerness. Over the years, he’d learned what to say and what not to say to his mother, and given the professional relationship between the two, Will thought it was prudent to say as little as possible. The glint of concern he’d detected from his mother made that an imperative.

With a harrumph and a wave of her hand, the young lieutenant in orbit stepped forward to hand Esther a data chip.

“The doctors responsible for your care and pronounced you healthy and physically fit,” Esther began, then paused to read from a datapadd the lieutenant hastily gave her, “The results of your psychological assessment prove troubling however.”

Esther turned to face Will with hard look in which he knew he was now speaking to “the Admiral”, instead of his mother. “You have been cleared of duty with reservations.”

The knowledge shook Will and it took him a moment to find his center again. Shockwaves of denial and anger assaulted him before he took a deep breath, thinking quickly how he could bargain and cajole his way to active duty.


Esther held up his hand to forestall any argument and continued reading from the datapadd.

“Throughout this assessment, the patient demonstrated a lack of insight into their condition, stating that they feel “fine” despite clear physical limitations…” Esther glared a glance at her son.

“And throughout his recovery, exhibited an unrealistic sense of optimism…” She paused at the and tried to hide a smile before the curtain of sternness descended one again, “regarding his recovery, which appears to be a form of denial...”

“Admiral, I…” Will interjected before being shut down once again.

“Based on the assessment, it appears that the patient is experiencing significant psychological distress…likely stemming from a combination of denial, anxiety, and depression.”

As his mother read the words, Will’s universe started to shrink. He knew who’d written those words. He could hear the prick’s voice as she read them.

“While Lieutenant Commander McCormick is cleared for return to duty, it is recommended that he receive ongoing mental health support to help him come to terms with reality and develop a more realistic expectations of his continued career,” Ester looked at her child and took a deep breath, hiding the mixture of anger, grief, and vindictiveness from her face.

“Without the proper support and care, the patient may be at risk for future psychological difficulties.”

Esther jabbed the padd back to her aide and placed her hands behind her back, wringing them out of Will’s sight.
“What does the “patient” have to say for himself?”

Will allow his hand to pass across his face before resuming his erect posture.

“Permission to speak freely, Admiral?”

His mother nodded.

“The man is an egotistical arrogant prick who never saw a shot in anger in his life,” Will said not hiding the anger in voice, much to the chagrin of the young lieutenant. “He wouldn’t listen…I tried to tell him…”

Will stopped, feeling like a little boy again, whining to his mother about somebody being mean to him. With an exhale, he tried again to plead his case. His mother serving as the jury, judge, and executioner.

“I feel fine. Yeah, I was in a bad scrape, but I’m still here---”

“Barely,” his mother said.

“Yeah, it was close. I grant you that,” Will turned and pointed to the rows of fighters, “But every person to climbs into one of those has to have short-term memory and become part Klingon.”
His mother tilted her head. “Part Klingon?”

Will grinned, “That’s what the old man always told to me…”

At the reference to his father, he broke from character and looked at Esther as mother than as

“Getting into one of those things, is far removed from the safety of a starship. There’s no time to worry about what-ifs and what-nots. It’s as close as you can come to becoming one with the universe without getting killed and if that day should come…then it is a good day to die.”

The silence that settled between wrapped around them like cloak, separating them even from the orbiting lieutenant.

For Esther, reminiscing about the man she loved the father of her children, and how much the man before him resembled his father. It filled her with pride. For Will, he barely remembered the crash and did not want to. He held onto the memory of his father as a talisman to get it right, and when he didn’t, to survive.

“Attention to orders,” Esther said, breaking the elongated silence. Will stood at attention.

“The President of the Federation, acting upon the recommendation of Starfleet Commander-in-Chief, has placed special trust and confidence in the dedication, integrity, and abilities of Lieutenant Commander William Astor (Jameson) McCormick, the fifth of that name. In view of these special qualities, and his demonstrated potential to serve in the higher grade, Lieutenant Commander McCormick is promoted to the grade of full Commander, effective immediately, by order of Commander-in Chief…”

Will rocked in his stance as waves of relief washed over him. Only the pure exhaustion of an adrenaline dump prevented a stupid smile to caress his face.

“…and is hereby assigned to USS Vindicator as the commanding officer of Fighter Wing 204, and the 204th Fighter Squadron, the Red Sirens.”

Her duty done, now Esther allowed herself to be a mother and grabbed Will into a tight embrace. She reveled in the closeness and ignored the stink of sweat to have this chance to feel that her son was indeed alive and well.

“No go, do your duty, and make us proud.” She held back the words “be careful,” for fear he would not listen.

Once disengaging, Will nodded. “Thank you, mother, Admiral.”

Esther smiled and gave Will his orders and shooed her aide away to his next quest for her sake.

“Keep in touch, eh, son?” she said, giving him a kiss on his cheek.

Will only shrugged and grasps his orders, eager to be his way, “I’ll try…”

End Log.

Cmdr. William A. McCormick V
Chief Flight Control “CAG”
USS Vindicator, NX-78213-F


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