I've just been called to my Ready Room for a personal video chat with Admiral Jensen, Chief of Starfleet Human Resources.
I don't know why they still call it that; a lot of Starfleet personnel aren't even human!
Never mind; I always get bad feelings when a one-to-one meeting is called for. It usually involves something unpleasant, for the Enterprise, for me or for both.
I put my code in, which the computer acknowledges; Jensen's face appears. he doesn't look happy and beaming.
Definately trouble ahead!
"Captain Picard" he says, "It looks like the Federation President has approved of a number of changes within Starfleet. He wants the system restructured."
"What does that mean, Admiral?" I ask, although I know enough executive double-speak to make a guess."
"Well, err..." he starts, not keen on saying much more, "The President would like to reassess the positions of the current Captains within Starfleet and see if they are suitable for their position."
"You mean us Captains have to apply for their own jobs, and if we don't measure up, we are fired?" I shout.
"I w-wouldn't p-put it as strongly as t-that." Jensen replies, sounding like Reg Barclay, "A Captain who wasn't quite suitable might find himself commanding a different vessel, or enjoying a well-earmed retirement."
"What sort of vessel were you intimating at, Admiral?" I ask him.
"A deep-space cargo ship would be one idea." Jensen tells me, although looking like he didn't have to.
I'm not keen on commanding a leaky old refuge ship on the edge of the Delta Quadrant; there's no other Federation ships around there.
"What would happen then to the ships who didn't have the Captains?" I ask.
"Well, err....Captain Picard." the Admiral goes on, "The likeliest scenario is that the senior officer, like the Commander would take over; then someone would take his position. Eventually the loss will be absorbed by the senior staff, hence the restructuring in the organisation."
It all becomes very clear; Starfleet is trying to cut down on it's staff.
"What do I do?" I ask him, although I would really like to hit Jensen on the nose.
"Report to Starfleet Headquarters for your job interview in two days, Captain." says the Admiral, "Jeansen out."
The screen goes blank, and I think about it all. Another job interview? I hate those. The one I had for the Enterprise Captaincy was torture enough. I thought most of the interviewers disliked me and would have preferred Boothby the gardener to have it rather than me.
I march out of the Ready Room; Riker is sitting in my Chair directing events on the Bridge.
"Off my Chair, Number One!" I call out, "You're not the Captain yet!"
To be continued....