Our communications have broken down over the few past few days while we were in deep space. It was also Christmas, so we were too busy opening pressies and having drinks, rather than getting everything fixed.
Now that Christmas is over, and everybody is sober, we have been able to set up the systems again. I hope nothing important has happened. It's not likely to, as the United Federation of Planets and Starfleet tends to close down over the period.
I look at my video viewer backlog. There have been no calls except from Admiral Bullock with the Title "URGENT: PLEASE RESPOND!"
Oh dear, this sounds bad. I call back, although I know I'm going to regret it.
"Where the blazes have you been, Picard?" Admiral Bullock demands to know.
I explain to him what happened. He snorts back.
"More likely giving each other presents and getting drunk if I know the Enterprise." he says to himself, "Anyway, I need to tell you the information that came from Starfleet Headquarters on Christmas Eve."
"What's that, sir?" I ask.
"The President has decreed that a number of crew need to lose their jobs. We have too many on the starships, which are costing a lot to build." Bullock answers.
"I thought money didn't exist any more, sir?" I ask, puzzled.
"Get real, Picard!" Bullock sneers, "How do you think we build them? With cookies that girl scouts sell? All planets in the UFP have to contribute. Costs are increasing, and we need to lay off people...from the lowerst crewman right up to some of the Captains."
"What about the Admirals?" I ask Admiral Bullock.
"Oh, we have decreed that they are too important to lose, so they will keep their positions." he tells me rather smugly, "A visitor will come to talk to each of you to see if you are worthy of staying on."
"...or just dead wood." I add sarcastically.
"That attitude will get you nowhere, Picard." Bullock comments, "Besides, you could always leave voluntarily."
"I don't intend to!" I answerr sharply.
"So be it." Bullock answers, and switches off the video viewer. Riker comes in.
"What's going on, Captain?" he asks, seeing the ridged furrows of my brow that makes me look like a Klingon.
"We've got trouble, Number One." I tell him, "Big trouble."
To be continued.......