Monday morning arrived with the same routine. Carl woke us with coffee and gave us our schedules for the day. Travis, Shane and David had to spend the day with Cyclone, preparing her for the mission. Carl had set me up a meeting with Mark from HR and Dan from PR at 11 a.m.
As usual, we arrived at the office right before 9 a.m. and got to work. Clara was already in, jumped up, and gave me a big hug. "I almost drove over to your house last night to make sure all you boys were okay."
"Clara, that is very sweet. It was a crazy night but we’re all okay. Thank you so much for caring."
"It's what I do best. Today should be a pretty relaxing day for you. Training called and asked to reschedule. They are swamped with Cyclone's officers and crew and, since they leave on Saturday, they get priority."
"No problem, that reminds me, Carl can you make reservations for Travis and me for somewhere nice Friday Night."
"Sure thing, Boss."
"Okay. I am meeting with HR and PR to discuss a community project I am thinking about. If I get Carl and Mike to agree on it, I would like it handled from my office and Clara, I would like you in on the meeting. Once we decide if this is something we want to pursue, we will need to sell it to Cal and Mike. I was kind of hoping once you hear what It's all about you would be willing to be the go to person on this."
"Okay, I will listen in then give you my thoughts." She went back to her desk just as Travis came in.
Carl looked up and started humming something and smiled. "Trying to decide what ‘Captain Gorgeous' theme song should be."
Travis just laughed and walked into my office. "Hey Babe, I’m headed down to Cyclone and wanted to say hi first." He kissed me and walked back out. "See you in a bit."
I couldn't help but grin from ear to ear. A few minutes later Clara poked her head in. "There is a Dr. Lowell on the phone; he says you want to meet with him?"
"Oh yeah, it's about this project. Can you set it up for me?"
"He is free this afternoon. Will you be ready for him that quickly?"
"Sure, as long as my schedule has room."
She turned around and got back on the phone. Carl came in, headed to his office. He stopped and turned around. "Instead of me mailing them the checks, do you want to present them to Dr. Lowell today when he gets here?"
"Yeah, that will be a nice touch."
"Okay, Travis gave me his already."
"Sweet. This thing is taking off faster than I thought it would."
"It's a great program. I will contribute too, once the money starts rolling in from my INS shares. Right now I still have to pay student loans."
I chuckled. "You are going to be a wealthy man, even before you marry into the Vitrela Pizza Empire."
"Very funny," he walked into his office.
Around 10:45, Clara knocked on the door. "Mr. Ryan, Mark from HR and Dan from PR are here to see you."
"Oh good, show them in Clara."
The two men came and we moved to the couches. I explained about the Injured Heroes Initiative and explained that I wanted INS involved. As of yet, INS hadn't done much charity work. I talked about the Casual Friday idea and both agreed it would be a good thing. I then launched my pitch about the day care center. Mark was a little reluctant at first, only because of the cost. Dan was drooling over it. It took few minutes of convincing Mark, but he quickly came around and started to give me personnel cost estimates. We were estimating about $250,000 a year to run it. We could offset that with fundraisers and use some volunteers. If we did that, we could get the cost down to about $190,000 to $200,000. By the time we were finished, they both were on board 100%. Clara contacted Cal and Mike and asked them to join us. They came in a few minutes later. All four of us pitched the idea to them and they didn't take a whole lot of convincing. The PR aspect alone was worth a fortune. We were paying for the maintenance and upkeep of the daycare facility anyway. Apparently, when it was built, a study group told them that they would need a larger facility. They initially had planned on running and staffing it, so why not now and get some PR out of it.
They agreed to meet with Dr. Lowell and I when he arrived. This was going to be INS's official charity.
The meeting with Dr Lowell went very well and afterwards we toured the Daycare Center. It would be a month or two before we could be up and running, but everything looked good. After we met with Dr. Lowell, Cal, Mike and I discussed the home security division expansion. We thought the expansion would more that cover the cost of this community outreach program.
Tuesday and Wednesday, I spent most of the day in training with the actual bridge crew from Cyclone. Ensigns Miller and Barker were the flag bridge officers and where very helpful. On Wednesday afternoon, we did a simulation on Cyclone with Monsoon and Hurricane on radio. As soon as the simulation started, I realized it was the same one I did last week. Everything worked perfectly and we were able to finish the simulation, after destroying both pirate ships and no loss of life or property to the Task Force. Kyle, the trainer, just winked at me as all the crew and officers were astounded by the way I reacted during the simulation.
Thursday, the pace of preparations for Cyclone to get underway increased. I kept out of the way and went back to training in the building. I watched as Travis took command of his ship and with total enjoyment and enthusiasm, you could tell he was turned on by it. Friday night soon arrived and Rick and I were getting ready for our night out with our guys. I was just getting dressed when my cell phone rang. It was Travis.
"Hey Sexy, what's up?
"Admiral Ryan, this Is Captain King." He had that official voice and I got very concerned.
"What can I do for you tonight, Captain?" I took his lead and played my part.
"I have a little personnel problem aboard Cyclone, and would like your advice. It involves Lieutenant Mathis and Lieutenant JG Walker."
"Oh damn. What happened?"
"There was a verbal disagreement in their quarters and it ended up in a fist fight. Based on what was said and overheard by a crewmember walking by, I would like to beach Lieutenant Mathis. Commander Stavi is in agreement, however; as Cyclone is departing tomorrow for her first mission I wanted to bring you up to speed."
"Okay, I will come down to the office. Can you have everyone involved in my office in thirty minutes? Bring the crewman that overheard it too."
"Of course, Sir. I am sorry to bother you with this, Sir."
"It's not a problem, Captain. Let's just get it resolved before you weigh anchor tomorrow."
"Thank you, Sir, see you in thirty minutes."
We hung up and I went to find Rick. He had recovered from his concussion really well but I knew he would be disappointed about Shane being late for his date.
As I passed by the kitchen, I saw Carl and Nick chatting.
"Hey Carl, do you know where Rick and Shane where planning on having dinner tonight?"
"I think One Fish Two Fish. Why, what's up?"
"There is a little problem at the ship and I need to go down and help get it resolved. Shane is going to be late. Can you tell Rick and then postpone their reservation by about an hour and half. My reservation at Steinhilber's needs to be pushed back as well."
"Sure, it’s no problem for yours. Rick’s and Shane's might be tough because One Fish Two Fish is tough on a Friday night. I will throw your name around and see what I can do."
"Right, like my name means anything. If you can't, then ask Steinhilber's to make it a reservation for four."
"Got it, Dale, good luck with whatever is going on."
"Thanks Carl. I will fill you in later, once I know more."
I called Cal on the way to the office and he suggested we send in Mark, the HR guy, just to cover our asses. I called him and he told me he would meet me at the office in fifteen minutes.
I got to the office, and it was weird walking into a mostly dark building. Travis, Shane and Doug Mathis where waiting in the outer office with a very nervous-looking crewman. I just walked past them.
"Captain King, my office, please." He followed me in. "Close the door please."
As soon as the door closed, he came over and kissed me. "Sorry Babe, but its ugly and I didn't want to just fire someone without higher approval."
"It's what I am here for, Babe. Mark from HR should be here any minute and then we can get started. He will just listen and advise us on procedure."
"Okay, good." He kissed me again as someone knocked. Travis walked over and sat in one of the chairs that faced my desk.
"Come in." The door opened and Mark walked in.
"Sorry, Mr. Ryan, I didn't realize the Captain was in here with you."
"No problem, Mark, we were just waiting on you. Come on in and close the door."
He closed the door and sat down. "So what is going on?"
"Travis, can you explain to Mark and me what you know?"
“Crewman Wendell was on his way to the galley when he overheard loud voices. He stopped to make sure someone wasn't hurt. He overheard Lieutenant's Walker and Mathis arguing. He said he was about to continue on because it was none of his business. When he heard Lieutenant Mathis tell Lieutenant Walker that he was going to kick his ass for being a fag and just wait until we were out to sea. He also overheard Lieutenant Mathis say he would eventually take out the faggot Captain and Admiral and then they would have no choice but to let a real man take command. That is when he heard scuffling, called security and told them that he overheard Lieutenant Mathis threatening the Captain and Admiral. Security arrested both officers and brought them to my ready room. That's when Wendell told me his story."
I was furious. "Mark, I don't really care about HR's opinion. I want him gone."
"Of course, Dale. I completely agree with you. However, we should do our due diligence and hear all three sides of this before we take action."
I shook my head then agreed. " You’re right. Let's start with Crewman Wendell."
Travis got up and went to the door. "Crewman Wendell, would you come in here please. If you two so much as look at each other, I'll string both of you up by the yardarm."
Crewman Wendell entered and stood at attention. I nodded to Mark and he got him a chair.
"Crewman Wendell, please sit down and relax. Let me begin by saying you are not in any trouble here. Actually, I want to thank you for taking action. This is not the kind of behavior I expect from any of my employees. This is Mark, he is from HR. I would like you to retell what you heard so Mark and I get it right, OK?"
"Yes. No problem, Admiral. And may I say, Admiral, I was in charge of the helicopter pad during our simulation on Wednesday and I have never seen the order to use air support come so quickly. You almost caught us off guard but we have a good crew and we can perform under any circumstances."
"Thank you, Wendell. Now, if you would, please tell us what happened tonight?"
He relayed the story almost exactly the way Travis had explained it. After he was done, we dismissed him and called in Shane. Shane's side had a little more back-story to it. It seems that Shane went to their shared quarters to get his gear and get ready for his date. Lieutenant Mathis immediately started harassing him about going on a date with his "Boy Toy". According to Shane, Doug kept pushing him and pushing him, making comments about which one takes it up the ass. "I bet you like to be plowed in the ass little fag-boy." Finally, Shane had enough and told him that he needed to shut the fuck up. The argument escalated and Shane told Doug. "I know what your problem is, you’re just jealous because you’re too much of a pussy to come out of the closet. Secretly, you are wishing it was you that was going to get fucked in the ass tonight." That’s when Doug threatened to kick his ass for being a fag and threatened the Captain and Admiral as well. Shane could not take anymore and pushed Doug. Doug took a swing at Shane. Then they grappled and Shane wrestled him to the floor and pinned him down. Security showed up, pulled them apart, and handcuffed them both.
When he was done, I folded my hands on my desk and just looked at him for a moment. "Lieutenant Walker, under no circumstance is it okay to get into a physical altercation with a fellow officer. I understand the situation and can empathize with you, but consider yourself reprimanded for fighting aboard the ship. I will leave any punishment up to your commanding officer." Just then, I got a text from Carl.
"Best I could do was to change your reservation to later and add two, Sorry."
"Wait in the outer office please, Lieutenant Walker."
He left and we called in Lieutenant Mathis. His story was completely different. He claimed Shane accosted him and told him he wanted to have sex with him. When he politely told him no, Shane pressed the issue and he lost his temper and told Shane he was going to kick his ass. Shane swung at him and then the wrestled."
"Lieutenant Mathis, did you at anytime threaten to take out the Captain and Admiral so they could let a real man command the ship?"
"No sir, is that what Walker said? He is lying, Sir."
"Actually, Crewman Wendell overheard you say that, and Lieutenant Walker confirms it."
"They are both lying, Sir. They must have gotten their stories collaborated at some point."
"Do you realize how ridiculous that sounds, Lt. Mathis? They were never alone together after the moment Wendell overheard you, until now."
"I don't know, Sir, but I never said any such thing."
"Okay, Lt. Mathis, please wait outside while we discuss this."
As soon as he closed the door, I sighed. "I can tell the asshole is lying."
Mark nodded. "I agree. The way I see it, you have two choices. Go with the Captain King’s initial response and beach him. Put him in fleet ops for a bit and see, what he does, or you can fire him. If you pull up his file you can see this is about the fourth time he has been reprimanded for fighting and bullying."
I looked at Travis. "Travis, you want him off your boat?"
"Absolutely. His conduct has been borderline insubordinate since the day you and I toured Cyclone. I made a promise that I would not tolerate discrimination or harassment of any kind, so I have to say he is off the ship; what happens after that is up to you."
"What will you do about an OPS officer?"
"The logical choice would be to move the next officer down into the position."
"Who would that be?"
"Lieutenant Walker." he laughed.
"That's irony for you. Okay, Mark, if you think we have enough to terminate him, let's do it."
"Okay, Dale, let me call security and have them come up and escort him to the ship to get all his personal effects." He pulled out his cell phone and made the call.
Travis looked up at me. "Dale, can I use your phone to call David and let him know what's going on so he can be standing by when security arrives with Mathis."
I pointed to the phone without saying anything. When they both finished their calls, I asked Travis to bring Mathis back in. He came in with a smug look on his face and sat down.
"I didn't give you permission to sit Mr. Mathis."
His face dropped and he stood up.
"According to your file you have been reprimanded for harassment and bullying three prior times. This is behavior that I will not tolerate in INS. Effective immediately your employment with INS is terminated.”
He lunged across the desk at me. Both Mark and Travis grabbed him as he was screaming. “You cock sucking little faggots; you can’t do this to me. I am best thing that ever happened to this company.”
Security came running into the office, grabbed him and pulled him back.
I stood up. “Escort him to Cyclone to gather his personal effects. He is not to talk to anyone at all. Once he is done, escort him off the premises. Mr. Mathis, if you ever attempt to set foot on INS property again I will have you arrested for trespassing. You are damn lucky I don’t contact the police now to have you arrested for assault. Get him out of my office.”
Security dragged him out and Shane poked his head in.
“Are you ok, Admiral?”
“Knock the Admiral shit off, Shane, and yes I am fine, thank you for asking. Come in here for a minute.”
He came in and stood in front of the desk.
“Sit down, for Christ’s sake. Mathis has been terminated. That leaves us in a precarious position; we have no OPS officer on board Cyclone.”
Shane sat up straight. “I will pick up all the extra slack that I can.”
Travis smiled. “You’re going to do more than that. You are the new OPS officer; during our run across the Atlantic I need you to train Ensign Graves as the weapons officer.”
“Thank you, Captain, I won’t let you down.”
“I know you won’t, Shane, but there is the little matter of punishment for fighting with a fellow officer. At our stop in Dubai, you will be assigned as OOD for the entire weekend and will not have liberty."
"Sir, yes Sir."
I laughed. "Okay, now that is finished. Mark, can you send a report to Cal, Mike, John and me about what happened tonight so we have it by the morning...”
"I will do it tonight from home so it's in everyone's in box in the morning."
"Thank you for all your help tonight, Mark. I really appreciate it."
"No problem, Dale. I am glad I was here to help. Good night."
Mark left and I just stared at Travis and Shane for a second. "That was the first time I have ever fired someone. Now we are all going out to dinner, like nothing happened."
Travis gave me that look. "It was a necessary evil. Try not to beat yourself up and, yes, let’s go on a date now." "Actually because of this evening’s excitement Rick and Shane lost their reservations so it will be a double date."