Location: Starbase One, on orbit of Earth
Timeline: Three weeks before Alex Diaz's death
Commander Joseph Masterson, former Captain, was starting to get used to being kept in the dark about his future position. In one point, he considered that Starfleet wanted to force him to resign by not giving him no ship or duty, just letting him accumulating dust in some corner of the planet. It was a good strategy, of course, but the Admiralty didn't know about Joseph's stubborness and determination. They also didn't know that he wouldn't give them the satisfaction to resign. Not to them and not his parents that kept insisting that he should quit before he embarrassed the family name further.
He waited for a year after the Court Martial that he knew his Granddad had clearly influenced so he would still be in Starfleet, which ashamed him even more. He didn't think he deserve a break. Until he got it. Then he decided he would the best he could to overcome his failure. So, he kept fit, exercizing, studying the most recent logs from ships and researches from Starfleet.
And waited for the call. And waited.
Until, as he was just exiting the shower, the Admiralty call came. He rushed to the comm, all wet, hair still dripping. It wasn't even a person to talk to him. It was a written message informing him to be meet Admiral Rushmore at Starbase one on the next day.
Which he was doing now, sitting outside the Admiral's office, being watched by a very serious Lieutenant, obviously, the Admiral aide. Joseph was sure Ronald Rushmore would step on him as other Admiral he had met after the Patna had stepped. They would look at him head to feet and shook their heads in disapproval. Others were even quite rude, something that Joseph was getting, sadly, used to it.
But Rushmore was worse. He was one of the judges in the Court Martial. He had been the only one that wanted Joseph out, but had been convinced by the other two admirals to change his mind for political reasons, especially because of Joseph's Grandfather, the great Maxwell Masterson. Rushmore wasn't a rude man; he was a visionary in many ways, but some people used to compare him to an old Earth General called Patton, which, Joseph had to agree, fit the bill to describe Ronald Rushmore's demeanor.
"Commander Masterson?", called the aid, taking Joseph from his thoughts, "The Admiral will see you now", he said, his voice cold and holding a slight touch of contempt, another thing that Joseph was getting used to receive even from junior officers. This one, at least, was discrete.
"Thank you", he replied with a nod as he went through the door.
Behind the curving wood desk sat an older man with withering hair and a steely gaze; the years had not been kind to him. A thin set of bifocals sat on the tip of his nose and when he heard the door slide open, he looked down his nose to see who it was. He didn't even try to hide his contempt, rolling his eyes as the man stopped a few meters short of his desk. It was clear the admiral wasn't doing anything terribly important, but it was still an inconvenience to him to have to deal with Masterson.
"Commander," he said, rudely emphasizing the rank.
Masterson stood in attention. "Commander Masterson reporting as ordered, Admiral", he said, his eyes never looking over Rushmore's head. He needed to be cool and controlled to finally find out where they would put him. He wouldn't give anything for the man that clearly despised him, but he need to know. "I assume, Admiral, this meeting is related to my next assign...", he started trying to see if Rushmore would go on.
"I'm not interested in wasting my time," he said, cutting Joseph off, "so I'll get right to the point. You're being reassigned, effective immediately, as XO to Captain Diaz onboard the USS Nimitz."
What a hell? Joseph's eyes finally fixed on Rushmore's. "The Nimitz, Admiral? I wasn't aware the Nimitz was in need... Ah I see, the current XO is getting his own command", he deducted. Alex Diaz is one of the youngest captains of the fleet. He wants me to feel humiliated to be under the command of someone that is years my junior commanding a ship. I will not give him the satisfaction.. "When Captain Diaz is expecting me to get aboard, sir?"
Rushmore couldn't suppress the corner of his lip curling up into a smirk. "The Nimitz just departed for an assignment and should be back at Starbase 414 in 2 or 3 weeks. Captain Diaz is expecting you to be there when they return so you can start your new assignment immediately. Is that clear, Commander?
"Crystal clear, Admiral. I'll go to Starbase 414 and wait for the Nimitz." Not only I'm to be under the command of a younger officer, I'm going to have to wait for weeks. Nice try, old man, I'm not giving up.. "I appreciate you taking the time to inform me of my assignment, sir. It was very thoughtful of you", Joseph said, his expression even. He was pushing Rushmore's buttons as the older man had tried to push his. Now he just had to wait the man get angry and explode, saying derisive and humiliating words as he wanted to say to begin with. Ah, here it comes. Look at the color of his face. Almost match his uniform, thought Masterson, with irony.
Rushmore took a deep breath and reminded himself it was a marathon, not a sprint. Eventually, Starfleet would be rid of Masterson, but not today. He took a few deep breaths before nodding. "You're dismissed, Commander," he said curtly, waving at the man limply. The sooner the coward was out of his office, the better; he had better things to do with his time. Soon, he thought. Soon.