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The Golden Opportunity

Posted on 29 Aug 2016 @ 10:31am by Lieutenant Joey Geisler & Lieutenant Camila Di Pasquale

Mission: History
Location: Starfleet Academy
Timeline: Stardate 55238.40

Five months.

That's how long Cadet Freshman Grade Joelle Corwin had been part of Starfleet Academy. It was nothing like she thought it was going to be. In fact, everything about her life now was dictated to her. When she needed to wake up, get to classes, study... none of her time was hers anymore. Everything about her belonged to Starfleet. Maybe some of it was her fault when she'd picked her classes. She'd noticed pretty early on that she'd taken on more than the average cadet, and now she was truly regretting that decision. It cut into her social life in ways she couldn't even fathom, not that she'd had much of one to begin with since leaving Hawaii and heading for the mainland.

As she stumbled toward the dorms, she stuffed her hands into the pockets of her jeans. What she wouldn't give to be back home right now. All of her friends... her family... everyone and everything she'd ever known in her life was back on the big island, yet, here she was. Trying to do something none of them ever did. But, why did it have to be so hard? And why did all the adults on campus think they could get away with telling her what she could and couldn't do? She had parents, and sadly, neither of them were there with her.

What time was it? Did she miss curfew... for the second time? In her inebriated state, she wasn't coming up with any kind of answers to those questions.

Sadly, it was all she could do to keep one foot in front of the other as she continued forward. During one of her outings, she'd met a few locals not much older than her that seemed friendly enough, and took to hanging out with them. They'd drink, hang out and do the things that kids her age should have been doing, and what she wouldn't give to grab her surfboard on charge the ocean, but when was there ever any time?

With a frown, the young woman kicked at a rock on the ground. Big mistake. She lost her footing entirely and landed in some bushes with an oomph. Oh, she'd definitely be feeling that in the morning, but now, she just needed to make her way out and continue on what she hoped was a stealthy path to the doors. What she didn't realize was that her idea of stealthy in her current state was about as silent as a cat on a hot tin roof.

A man's deep voice came from nearby and the sound of footsteps approached her location. "Need a hand?" it asked.

"No!" Joey snapped, fighting with the leaves and branches in an effort to get untangled, though it had the opposite effect. She muttered a curse and yanked one of the branches free from the bush, then tossed it away before giving herself a heave in the direction of the voice, only to dump herself unceremoniously onto the ground at his feet.

"Front and center, Cadet," the authoritative voice of one Admiral David G. Farragut called out in a Command tone. Not just an Admiral, but the Security instructor and a man whose family went back hundreds of years to another Admiral David G. Farragut who was the first rear admiral, vice admiral, and admiral in the United States Navy. A strong, but gentle hand took her arm to help her to her feet.

Shit... Joey thought when she heard the voice. Now she was really going to get it. Mentally, she prepared herself for what was to come as he helped her to her feet. The second she was sure she wasn't going to fall over, she came to attention... only wobbling once. That was something to be proud of. Now... if she could just keep herself from vomiting all over his shoes.

"You've been drinking," Admiral Farragut said and it was clear that he hadn't made it a question, but it wasn't hard to smell the alcohol coming from her. Add in the wobble and the unceremonious crash into the bushes and it was as easy to figure out as adding two and two together. He stepped back and looked at her. "Cadet Corwin, isn't it?" He asked as he took a closer look, then sighed. "One of my most promising Security cadets that I've had in some time. I guess I was wrong about you after all. What do you have to say in your defense, Cadet?"

"There's nothing to say in defense of myself, Sir." What did she had to say? She'd gone out, gotten drunk was passed curfew and gotten caught. Now was the time to face the consequences since it was her second strike. Thankfully, though, she hadn't been caught by him the first time, nor was she drinking that time.

"Nothing," Farragut mused as if it were truly an original statement that he had never heard before. "The cadet that I have had such high hopes and expectations for has absolutely nothing to say in her own defense. The cadet that has made herself stand out among a thousand other cadets. The cadet who has taken on many things to the exclusion of pretty much everything except Starfleet has nothing to say in her own defense. I. Am. Amazed."

Joey turned her attention to the man standing in front of her. It was difficult to stand straight, but there was a fire beginning to burn inside of her. One that, if she ignored it, would become a raging inferno. "What could I possibly say to defend myself, Admiral?" she asked. "I snuck out past curfew, went drinking and got caught. I own what I did. Now that we have that out of the way, what are you going to do to me? Suspend me? Boot me? Put me on restriction?" Tomorrow, there would be plenty of time for her to be mortified by her behavior. "Whatever you decide to do, can we make it quick? I think I'm going to be sick."

"You will not get sick until you are given permission to get sick, Cadet," Admiral Farragut ordered her. "You are Security and Security does not get sick until the job is through and this job is most assuredly not through. Do you realize that you could have a permanent black mark on an otherwise perfect record, Cadet Corwin?"

Oh, he meant business, and the longer she stood in front of him, the more she sobered up. The urge to be sick was still there, though, but she fought it. "Yes, Admiral Farragut, and I will face whatever punishment you feel is necessary." Damn, but he was an intimidating man. What Joey needed right now were two holes. One to crawl into after she was able to be sick in the other. "I've been here five months, and needed a break from the rules... the regulations. I needed a chance to be... me. Might have overdone that a bit." With her admission, she closed her eyes and frowned.

"Five months..." he repeated. "Five whole months, you say? Did you or did you need read the rules that clearly state your first leave from Starfleet Academy was not due until you passed your first six months here? If you can't do six months without needing a break, what makes you think you can last four years, Cadet?"

"Maybe... I don't," Joey said softly, her shoulders sagging. Maybe she really didn't have it in her like everyone around her thought she did.

"Shoulders back, push out that chest, straighten that back and look at me, Cadet Corwin!" Farragut thundered.

Joey wanted to do as she was told, but the feeling in her stomach was beginning to be too much for her to handle. She doubled over, closed her eyes and vomited right at his feet. Yet another thing for her to add to the list of complete mortification. How in the hell was she going to face this man after all of this? Who was she kidding? The young woman was going to be packing her bags and heading home because she couldn't hack it.

"Oh for the love of first contact," he said in disgust as he looked down and then stopped himself. Once upon a time, he had been a young man who had done much the same thing as the young cadet in front of him. He moved to support the cadet and directed her towards the bushes she had crawled out of and used his free hand to move her hair out of her face so she didn't get sick in it. "Get it all out, Corwin," he said. "Because if you puke on me again, I just might be joining you and that just isn't dignified for an Admiral."

The second she was able to, the young woman couldn't help but laugh at the Admiral's admission. She did try to hold in it. "Sorry, Sir. I tried to hold it in," she said softly, wiping her mouth with the back of her hand. Joey was definitely on a roll when it came to moments that would cause her embarrassment in the upcoming months.

Admiral Farragut reached to his back pocket and pulled out a Command red handkerchief out to hand her. "I'm going to tell you a secret, Cadet Corwin and if you tell another living being, I will hunt you down and make certain that you know what regret is. When I was your age and in the Academy, I did the exact same thing...although I didn't puke on an Admirals boots. I did get caught though. This is your golden opportunity Joelle. You can take it and use it to make a golden future, or you can reject it and be just another person who gave up a dream. What's it going to be?"

Joey took the handkerchief when he handed it to her and used it to wipe her mouth, then her hands. She was sure he wasn't going to want it back after that, and unless he did ask for it back, she was going to keep it as a memento. A reminder that giving up was never an option. "I won't tell a soul," she said softly, turning her head to look over at him. "You're not... going to boot me?"

"Not with these boots on," he said as he looked down at the once polished and now soiled boots. "No, Corwin, I'm not going to mention this in a official report. You have no idea how many cadets that I have written up because they just didn't even try to defend themselves, or got belligerent with me. I hate PADDwork and I hate having some snot nosed cadet try to act like they have the experience of a lifetime. You have potential, Joelle. What you don't have, though, is shore leave next month."

"If that's the worst that happens to me for what I've done, I'll take it," the young woman said. She was being given another chance, and this time, she wasn't going to mess it up by being stupid. Without thinking, Joey wrapped her arms around the Admiral and hugged him with the handkerchief still in hand. "Thank you, Admiral Farragut, I promise I won't let you down. I'm not going to give up."

Farragut awkwardly returned the hug and took a step back. "Now then, Cadet Corwin, you are going to report back to your quarters and get cleaned up. Before first call tomorrow, I expect you in my office with a boot cleaning kit and the desire to make my boots so well polished that I will be able to send signals to Utopia Planitia without a comm signal. After that, you are going to make me proud. Do you understand me?"

"Yes, Sir," Joey said, eager to get to her room so she could take a shower. "I'll be there first thing. Thank you again." She came to attention, waiting to be dismissed.

"Dismissed, Cadet Corwin," Admiral Farragut said. "And don't let this happen again. I don't have that many pairs of boots."

With a laugh, the young woman raced toward the doors leading into the dorms. If she was going to be up earlier than normal, she needed to hustle. The fact she'd almost thrown her entire future away was sitting front and center in her mind, but a golden opportunity presented itself, and she'd been given another chance. It was now time for her to shape up and prove to Admiral Farragut that she could do it... that she could be everything he thought she could be and more. This was just the beginning of a promising career for Cadet Freshman Grade Joelle Corwin.


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