"Why cant I get in?" Security Chief Pavel Chekov grumbled in disgust as he futilely tried to enter the main security squad room. He had left there earlier, gone to a nearby galley to get a cup of coffee, and now could not reenter the room. The door did not swoosh open, as it normally did, when he approached. He tried entering with security codes, also without success. He even pressed the buzzer that announced the presence of a visitor to the squad room, but nobody answered it. During that entire time, he thought he could hear the voices of some of his team members, along with some peals of laughter.
He brought his wristcom up and keyed in his second-in-command's code. "This is Lieutenant Ann Nored. I am currently unavailable. Please leave a message..."
Chekov clicked off his communicator in disgust. This is really bizarre! He walked to the next door over, his office. Sitting down at his BellComm terminal, he thought, Maybe one of my teams has scheduled a meeting. He spoke into the comlink. "Computer, show Squad Room schedule for today."
In response, a graph of the days schedule for the security squad room was shown. It appeared that the current hour was blocked off for a "Security Department Meeting. Organizer: Nored."
Now why would Ann call a section meeting without inviting me? Thats like a sports team calling a players-only meeting which doesnt usually happen...unless theres a problem with the coach.
As Chekov pondered his options, including using his command codes to override the door, he heard the chirp of an incoming message. Expecting it to be his second in command, he clicked to answer, "Lieutenant Chekov here."
His caller turned out to be his friend Nyota Uhura. "Greetings, Pavel. Mind if I come by your office?"
"Sure. I need to talk to someone."
Uhura soon arrived, bearing a box that included various flavors of tea, sugar, cream, honey and lemon. As soon as Chekov heated up the water, they each chose a tea, stirred in their desired condiments, and sat down at his desk with their cups.
After taking a sip, Chekov opened the conversation. "I was wondering. Youre a department head. How would you deal with your staff calling a meeting without you?"
She shook her head. "I havent ever had to deal with that issue."
"Apparently, my second-in-command has called a team meeting in the squad room without telling me."
Uhura gave Chekov an enigmatic look. "Maybe something happened after you left the room so she called an impromptu meeting."
Chekovs tone of voice was dubious. "Except that this particular meeting is on the schedule, but I wasn't told anything about it. Normally, departments dont call meetings without their department head unless theres a problem. But I havent noticed any problems with morale lately. If anything, my people have seemed happier than usual."
"Hmm," the communications officer responded, giving Chekov another enigmatic look.
Chekov pondered her expression and then laughed a little. "I know theyre not planning a surprise birthday party for me since its three months past my birthday."
"Yes, it is." Uhura smiled in return.
Soon, Chekovs communicator buzzed and he answered, "Chekov here."
"Its Ann Nored. Wed like you to meet us in the squad room. I apologize for you being locked out earlier. Ill explain later."
"Ill be there," Chekov said before terminating the call. He was still confused.
"She better have a damned good explanation..." he grumbled to Uhura.
"Im sure she does," the communications officer said with a hint of reassurance. "Ill come with you, if you don't mind."
"Is good idea. Better to have strength in numbers, but having a senior officer never hurts either."
Chekov and Uhura quickly stepped to the squad room. This time, the door opened. To his shock, the entire security team was present, along with a few other random friends of his, who looked as if they were ready for a party. The room itself was decorated in blue, white and silver. Several tables were pushed against the wall and contained food and other items. The smell of freshly cooked food wafted through the room.
He spotted a young security officer, Sidney Malkin, who had an apron and was dishing some food into a serving dish. He looked up at Chekov, a proud expression on his face. "Lieutenant, I just finished preparing some potato latkes--from scratch."
"Potato latkes!" murmured Chekov.
"From my grandmother's own recipe."
"Why, thank you, Ensign." The security chief was touched by the thought.
"Happy Hanukkah, Pavel Chekov!" the entire group shouted in unison.
Chekov was shocked that the security team and his friends were throwing him a surprise party. He took a closer look at the tables against the wall. Atop one was a menorah, complete with candles. Near it, were pieces of chocolate gelt and a dreidel.
As he shoved a blintz in his mouth, Lieutenant Belinsky added, "Well, Sid has to be one of the best cooks I've ever had the pleasure of knowing."
Malkin laughed. "Good thing, too. Er frest vi a ferd."
Belinsky stopped eating mid-mouthful. "I do not eat like a horse, Ensign."
Chekov chuckled as Anne Nored approached him. "I'm taken aback by all this, Lieutenant," he said.
Nored smiled warmly. "Malkin and Belinsky did most of the planning and coordination for this occasion."
Chekov reflected on her words. He had always considered Malkin a rather shy officer but helping to plan this party seemed to open him up.
The assistant security chief gushed, "Pavel, I apologize for locking you out, but we needed to set up. Happy Hanukkah!"
"Thank you, Anne. Now if you'll excuse me, I think I'll sample the kreplach." He paused and turned back to her. "And Merry Christmas to you, Lieutenant," Chekov offered as he headed for the food table.
"Merry Christmas, Lieutenant," she replied as she went to add a few latkes to her plate.
Uhura was standing there eating a bowl of soup filled with the kreplach. "I love wonton soup."
"I'm sure you do," the security chief looked at her ample bowl. "You knew, didn't you?"
"I did. And I also knew that you'd blow a fuse when you got Nored's away-message."
He stared at the communications officer for a good minute. "You know, you're the one who really runs this starship."
"Shhh! Of course, I am. Just don't tell the captain."
And that night, the first night of Hannukah was celebrated aboard the Enterprise...
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