chekovtitle.gif (4101 bytes)

Randall Landers

additional material written by Chris Dickenson, Nomad, Elizabeth Knauel, d. William Roberts
Third Place in the 1998 ASC Awards for Best TOS General Story

Heroism always feels and never reasons.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

December 1st 2294

"How does it feel to be back on the Enterprise bridge?! Captain Kirk! Can I ask you a few questions?!" shouted Linda Crosby of the Federation News Network. "We’d like to know how you feel about being on this bridge!"

And so it began as the three officers strolled out on to the bridge: Captain James Tiberius Kirk, Captain Pavel Andreievich Chekov, Captain Montgomery Scott. The bright lights of the holovid cameras were in their faces, as were the directional scanners of the reporters and even the faces of the reporters themselves.

Vultures, Chekov thought disdainfully. But useful vultures...

"Excuse me! Excuse me!" A mild voice floated across the bridge. "Excuse me!"

Chekov noticed the din lessened considerably and saw that Captain Kirk looked across the bridge to the man addressing them.

"Excuse me! There will be plenty of time for questions later. I’m Captain John Harriman. And I’d like to welcome you all aboard." The tall, lanky man stepped forward, smiling broadly.

"It’s our pleasure," Kirk mumbled in a manner that said it was anything but a pleasure.

Captain Harriman was like a little boy meeting his childhood hero. "I just want you to know how excited we all are about having a group of living legends aboard for our maiden voyage." Harriman strolled across the bridge. "I remember reading about your missions while I was in grade school."

"Oh, really?" responded Captain Kirk, carefully, guardedly.

There was a brief pause, and Chekov quickly deduced that Kirk had probably decided not to kill the new Enterprise captain and assume his place as commander of the new ship. "Well, may we have a look around?" At least, not yet.

"Please, please." Harriman stepped back, offering free rein to his distinguished guests with a sweep of his arm.

Kirk took a few tentative steps around the bridge, Linda Crosby on him like a remora on a shark. Shaking his head in sympathy for his former commanding officer, Chekov stepped toward the lower deck of the bridge when suddenly he recognized a familiar face: "Demora!"

A short Oriental woman beamed at Pavel Chekov, and the two exchanged a brief hug. "It’s so good to see you, Pavel...I mean Captain."

"You, too, Demora." She smiled, but her attention was sidetracked by Captain Kirk. Gazing at him with the raw admiration of a school girl in love, she seemed a little lost.

"Do you want to meet him?" asked Chekov gently.

"You know I do."

"Well, allow me..." Chekov stepped across the bridge. "Kyptin!"

Rescued from Linda Crosby by Harriman, Jim Kirk was now gazing longingly at the captain’s chair when his former navigator finally got his attention.

"Excuse me."

Kirk blinked, somewhat disoriented; then once again aware of where he was and that this ship was not his, he stepped toward Chekov.

"I’d like you to meet the helmsman of the Enterprise-B." Chekov turned to his flustered companion. "Demora?" The young woman stepped forward. "Ensign Demora Sulu."

She smiled. "It’s a pleasure to meet you, sir. My father has told me some interesting stories about you."

"Your father is Hikaru Sulu?" Kirk was openly beaming.

"Yes, sir," the young woman answered modestly.

"Oh, you’ve met her before when she was—"

"It wasn’t that long ago. It couldn’t have been more than—"

"Twelve years, sir."

"Twelve years?"


"In-credible." Jim Kirk offered his hand, and Demora Sulu took it. "It wouldn’t be the Enterprise without a Sulu at the helm."

"Thank you, sir."

"I’m sure Hikaru must be very proud of you," remarked Chekov.

"I hope so," she answered almost wistfully, then turned back and walked to her station.

Chekov sighed. "I was never that young."

Kirk clasped a hand on his shoulder. " were younger."

Smiling, Chekov made his way to the propulsion systems station, nodding at Montgomery Scott who was walking Kirk’s way. He smiled to himself, thinking, This is working out perfectly. Captain Kirk back on the bridge. The media in full coverage. Admiral Tlondis is a genius. What a public relations coup this is turning out to be!

Following the decommissioning of the Enterprise-A, Chekov found himself stationed at the public relations office of Starfleet. He hadn’t expected to enjoy coordinating media events such as this, but this one was turning out to be a gem. Everything was going perfectly! He had helped orchestrate what was turning out to be the best public relations maneuver in the past twenty years.

Chekov noted that Kirk and Scott were heading his way, and Harriman was now issuing orders. "Prepare to leave SpaceDock. Aft thrusters ahead one quarter. Port and starboard at station keeping." Chekov sat in the left chair, Scott in the right, and—

"Captain Kirk?" called Harriman.

"Yes?" Kirk answered as he was sitting down in the middle chair.

"I’d be honored if you’d give the order to get under way."

Under his breath, Chekov chuckled at the audible gasp of approval from the media assembled on the bridge. Rushing toward Kirk, their holovid scanners and cams almost blinded his former commanding officer.

"Thank you very much," Kirk mumbled diplomatically while shaking his head ‘No.’

But Harriman would not be dissuaded. "Please, sir," he pressed.

Kirk waved him off. "No, no."

"Please, sir. I insist." Harriman persisted.

Kirk glanced at Chekov and Scott. Both nodded an all-too-familiar go ahead. Outnumbered, Kirk stood.

Feeling like a fool, no doubt, Chekov thought. There’s no fool like an old fool...

"Take us out."

A brief surge of applause—led by Harriman himself—met the order.

Kirk retook his seat. Chekov leaned over to him. "Very good, sir."

"Brought a tear to me eye," Scott added.

"Oh be quiet," mumbled Captain James T. Kirk as the Enterprise-B left SpaceDock.

A few minutes later, Harriman turned to his guests. "I’ve arranged for a tour of the ship for you, gentlemen."

"Aye!" Scott uttered enthusiastically. Though both Kirk and Chekov rolled their eyes at the Scot’s glee, they stood as well.

"We’d appreciate that, Captain," Kirk allowed diplomatically.

The three of them made their way to a turbolift, a gaggle of intergalactic reporters in tow—among them: Linda Crosby of the Federation News Network, and Willis O’Brien of the Intergalactic News Service—along with a young, starstruck bridge officer to serve as a guide on a tour of the ship.

This is going perfectly, again thought Chekov as the door closed.


"Gentlemen, gentlemen, now that you’ve seen the rest of the ship, how does it feel to be back?" asked Willis O’Brien as they reentered the bridge.

"Well, uh..." Scott’s brain failed him miserably. How the hell is it supposed to feel? his expression demanded.

"Fine," Kirk supplied tentatively then gave his engineer a look that clearly said, Easy, Scotty.

"Fine," agreed Scott.

"Fine," Kirk stated again for the record.

"Fine," repeated Chekov. "Fine, fine." Perfectly fine.

"Well, ladies and gentlemen, we’ve just cleared the Asteroid Belt," Harriman announced. "Our course today will take us out beyond Pluto and then back to SpaceDock. Just a quick run around the block." He strutted around the bridge like a proud peacock.

"Captain, will there be any time to conduct tests on the warp drive system?" asked Willis O’Brien as the three visiting officers took their seats in front of the propulsion system station.

Actually, Chekov didn’t feel fine. He felt utterly nostalgic. He wanted to be here. At his old, scratch that...he wanted...he wanted... Suddenly, it dawned on him exactly what he wanted. He wanted to be in the center seat. The realization startled him. It was so...unlike him...

An alarm sounded off. Everyone turned with a startled glance to the communications station. "We’re picking up a distress call, Captain," the middle-aged man at communications looked apprehensive.

Uh-oh, thought Chekov as Captain James T. Kirk slowly stood.

Harriman was unsure of what to do. "On...on speakers." Willis O’Brien circled the young starship captain like a shark does before it strikes.

Chekov tugged Kirk’s jacket. The captain slowly sank into his seat.

A filtered voice came over the bridge comlink: "This is the transport ship Lakul. We’re caught in" *crackle* "of energy distortion. Two ships in our convoy are" *burble* "trapped. There is a severe gravimetric distortion. We can’t break free. We need immediate help. It’s tearing us apart. This is the transport—"

"The Lakul is one of two ships transporting El Aurian refugees to Earth," explained Lieutenant Roberta Vasquez, the Enterprise-B science officer.

"Ensign Sulu, can you locate them?" Harriman asked.

Demora Sulu looked at her board. "The ships are bearing 310 mark 215. Distance: three light years."

"Signal the closest starship," Harriman decided. "We’re in no condition to mount a rescue."

Chekov watched Kirk stand suddenly, clearly about to protest.

"We don’t even have a full crew on board," Harriman explained apologetically.

Kirk sat back down, unhappy.

"We’re the only one in range, sir," the navigator responded after a brief check of their positions.

"Well, then..." Harriman vacillated, then gave in with a defeated expression. "I guess it’s up to us. Helm, lay in an intercept course and engage at maximum warp."

"Aye, sir."

Harriman sat down in the center seat and looked to Kirk for approval but found none. The former starship commander was barely able to stay seated.

"Captain, is there something wrong with your chair?" asked Montgomery Scott coyly.


"We’re within visual range of the energy distortion, Captain," Demora Sulu announced.

Harriman stepped forward. "On screen." The energy ribbon had clearly engulfed two Orion transport ships.

Kirk again stood.

"What the hell is that?" Chekov demanded. His vision of a perfect media event was long gone, the rescue of a foundering starship far outweighing any mundane concerns a public relations officer might have. Pavel Chekov—despite serving the past year in the publicity division of Starfleet’s Public Relations office—was still a Starfleet officer at heart. A ship was in danger, and they were charged with keeping those aboard from harm.

"I’ve located the transport ships. Their hulls are starting to buckle under the stress. They won’t survive much longer."

Suddenly, a bolt of energy leaped from the ribbon and struck the Enterprise-B, shaking the ship violently.

"We’re encountering severe gravimetric distortions from the energy ribbon, Captain," reported the engineering officer.

"We’ll have to keep our distance. We don’t want to be pulled in, too." Harriman stepped to the communications bay to examine the subspace field readings.

Kirk stepped toward him. "Tractor beam," he muttered softly so that only Harriman could hear him.

"Hmm?" Harriman was startled by this unexpected source of advice.

"Tractor beam," Kirk repeated with some urgency.

"We don’t have a tractor beam."

Kirk was incredulous. "You left SpaceDock without a tractor beam?"

Harriman winced. "It won’t be installed until Tuesday." He made his way to the helm. "Ensign Sulu, try generating a subspace field around the ships. That might break them free."

Sulu shook her head. "There’s too much quantum interference, Captain."

"What about—What about...venting plasma from the warp nacelles? That might disrupt the ribbon’s hold on the ships."

"Aye, sir. Releasing drive plasma."

Harriman looked to Kirk for support. Kirk shook his head no. It would not work.

"It’s not having any effect, sir. I think the ribbon’s hold—"

"Sir!" Sulu shouted, "The starboard vessel’s hull is collapsing!"

The ship exploded in a spectacular display of energy.

"How many people were on that ship?" Chekov asked softly.

Harriman rubbed his right temple. Kirk began strolling around the bridge, surreptitiously observing sensor readings.

"Two hundred and sixty-five," answered Sulu.

"Sir, the Lakul’s hull integrity is down to twelve percent," announced the science officer.

Harriman looked as though he’d lost a battle. He looked as though he’d lost a war. Then, almost as if realizing the obvious, Harriman looked to his childhood idol. "Captain Kirk, I would appreciate any suggestions you might have."

Kirk strode to Harriman’s side. "First: Move us within transporter range. Beam those people aboard the Enterprise."

"What about the gravimetric distortions? They’ll tear us apart.".

"Risk is a part of the game if you want to sit in that chair," Kirk nodded to the center seat.

"Helm, move us within transporter range," ordered Harriman.

Standing close enough to record their private conversation with his holovid cam, Willis O’Brien was catching every word.

"Second," Kirk gently but firmly shoved the reporter from his face, "Turn that damned thing off." He stepped forward to stand next to the helm.

"We’re within range, sir," reported Sulu.

"Beam them directly to Sickbay," Kirk ordered.

"Aye, sir," answered the engineer.

"How big is your medical staff?" Chekov asked.

"The medical staff...doesn’t arrive until Tuesday."

"Would a detail do?" He pointed to the two nearest reporters. "You...and you, you’ve just become nurses. Let’s go." Chekov in the lead, they made their way to the nearest turbolift.


Forty-seven men, women and children materialized in Sickbay looking confused, disoriented and dazed. Chekov and the two reporters, Willis O’Brien and Thomas Harden, stepped forward. "Welcome aboard the Enterprise. We’re here to help you."

Almost before he finished speaking, a tremendous jolt rocked the ship. Victims and officers alike were slammed against the furniture, diagnostic beds and bulkheads as the energy ribbon struck at the Enterprise-B.

"It’s going to be all right; we are going to help you," Chekov assured the frightened crowd. It was hopeless. The ship’s continuous shuddering was unnerving even him. "We’re are going to help you."

"It’s okay. Everything is fine," parroted Willis O’Brien.

A man with shock-white hair and a terrible cut on his face demanded, "Why? Why?!"

"It’s all right. You’re safe. You’re on the Enterprise."

"No, no, I have to go—I have to go back!"

"You need to stay right here," countered O’Brien.

"No! You don’t understand!"

"It’s important that you stay right here."

The man lost control. "You don’t understand. I have to go back! I have to go back!"

"We need you to stay calm," O’Brien tried again as Harden was making his way over to help. The others were frightened, but this man was dangerously agitated.

"Let me go back!!! Let me go back!!! Let me go back. Let me go back!!! Please!!!"

Chekov rushed over and injected the man with a strong sedative while Harden and O’Brien held his arms. The man quickly lost consciousness.

"What was he talking about?" asked Harden.

"I have no idea," answered O’Brien.

Chekov saw a frightened woman in a large purple hat and robe trying to claw her way through the bulkhead and made his way to her. "Can I help you?" He put his hands on her shoulders. "It’s going to be okay." He turned her around and guided her away from the wall. "It will be all right. You just need to rest. Come over here."

The woman looked at him with beautiful dark eyes. "I know it will. But you’ll never know— you could never understand—" She blinked back tears.

Chekov guided her to a bench and managed to get her seated. The jostling crowd made things difficult, but the shaking of the ship was even worse. Suddenly, there was a feel of the engines pulling away. "All right, Scotty."

There was a tremendous SLAM, and everyone was thrown to the floor. And then it was over, and Chekov could tell they were under way.

The crowd was quietly sobbing, and the reporters were helping with the more tearful ones. Demora Sulu’s voice came over the comlink. "Captain Chekov, report to Deck Fifteen immediately."

Chekov felt a knot in his stomach. He handed the hypospray to Willis O’Brien and took the nearest turbolift down three decks and rushed into the corridor. Or rather, what was left of it. Obviously, the ship had taken a direct hit.

Scott and Harriman stood there, looking out the gaping wound in the ship’s hull.

"My God," Chekov whispered, "Was anyone in here?"


The pain in Scott’s voice obvious, Chekov didn’t need to hear anymore to know who it was.

They stood there a full five minutes in reverent silence.


Leonard McCoy would remember the day for the rest of his life.

It was a beautiful morning, the clear air pleasantly warm but lacking the sultriness it would possess later in the day. Serenidad’s sun was just climbing over the Sierra del Oro mountains, and skimmers glided from tree to tree, whistling their bird-like calls as they soared.

He was in the solarium of the bungalow, enjoying a breakfast of ham and eggs, fortified with juice and strong coffee, when he heard Teresa cry out in the kitchen. He raced inside, alarmed, not knowing what to expect.

She stood staring at the holovid, tears streaming from her huge eyes, her mouth covered with her fists.

McCoy stopped dead in his tracks when he saw the image on the screen. It was the interior of a starship deflector room, but something was terribly wrong. There was a huge rip in the outer bulkhead, and stars shone against a black canvas. It was open to space.

The words of the commentator began to register. "….still not sure exactly what happened. Apparently, the newly-christened U.S.S. Enterprise-B, out on a ceremonial shakedown run, encountered a strange space/time disturbance which nearly destroyed the vessel."

The picture shifted. The head and shoulders of the anchorwoman came into focus. She was young, beautiful, with blonde hair and blue eyes. McCoy was not surprised to see the Intergalactic News Service logo in the lower right hand corner of the screen. Another B.B.B., he thought wearily, applying the irreverent abbreviation the late Admiral Harry Morrow had coined for the INS’s seemingly endless supply of sleek blonde anchorwomen—Brad Bashaw’s Bimbos.

And he still had no idea what had caused Teresa to scream. He turned toward her quizzically. "’Sita, what’s—"

His wife pointed to the screen, sobbing. McCoy turned back, and his blood froze.

In the upper left corner of the screen was a black-framed portrait of Jim Kirk in uniform. The legend beneath it read:

Captain James T. Kirk, Retired
2233 - 2294

"Once again, in case you’ve just joined us, the new Enterprise-B was involved in a tragic accident which claimed the life of the man who was arguably the greatest starship commander of all time, Captain James T. Kirk. Born in Riverside, Iowa, in 2233, James Kirk rose quickly through the ranks to become the youngest admiral in Starfleet history. He was something of a maverick…"

I’ve always known I’ll die alone.

McCoy shut his eyes. "I’m sorry, Jim," the doctor whispered. "I’m sorry I wasn’t there for you at the end."

Grief settled in his throat like a lump of lead. He hugged his wife, comforting her, then he steered her to a chair at the kitchen table. He took her hands in his own, and they stared numbly at the screen.

"…understand we have a live report from Willis O’Brien at SpaceDock where the crippled Enterprise has just arrived. Willis?"

The scene shifted. A mob of reporters clustered around a group of people clad in the burgundy uniforms of Starfleet officers who were attempting to reach the haven of SpaceDock Control’s office. McCoy singled out two familiar faces in the crowd.

Willis O’Brien’s disembodied voice shouted to be heard above the melee. "Sienna, I see Captain Pavel Chekov and Captain Montgomery Scott coming this way! I’m going to try to….Captain Chekov! Captain Chekov! Can you tell us what happened out there?"

Chekov appeared to be in shock. His tear-streaked face was pasty pale, and his eyes were glassy, unfocused. "Please," he mumbled. "Please, just let me through. I have nothing to say. Kyptin Kirk was a great man…"

Chekov was unable to continue. An armored, helmeted security guard forced his way through the crowd, roughly pushing people aside, knocking hovering holocams out of the air with his baton. He cleared a path for Chekov and escorted him through the throng.

Willis O’Brien was not to be denied. He maneuvered his holocam until it was right up in Scott’s face. "Captain Scott, tell us what went wrong! How did Captain Kirk die?"

Scott glanced up sharply. His lower lip quavered in anger under his gray mustache. "Ye should nae be talkin’ like that, laddie! We dinna ken for sure he’s dead. We did nae find a body; scanners did nae even pick up carbon residue. If I know Jim Kirk, he found a way to survive!"

"All right, you bloodsuckers, clear out!" a booming voice commanded. A squadron of security guards waded into the mass of reporters, herding them away. The image on the screen whirled and darted crazily as Willis O’Brien’s camera futilely attempted to lock onto the chaos around it.

"You can’t do this!" O’Brien protested. "We’re the press! We—get your hands off me, you asshole! I’ll—"

The holocam zoomed in on the close-up image of a fully-equipped security guard. A huge, distorted hand reached toward the lens. Static replaced the picture.

The anchorwoman reappeared, somewhat flustered. "Well…uh, we seem to be experiencing technical difficulties at SpaceDock. We’ll return you to our regular headline news reports, and we’ll break in as soon as we have any new information on the death of James T. Kirk. This is Sienna Gillette reporting."  

December 2nd 2294

"How the hell did this happen?"

Captain Pavel A. Chekov sat on the witness stand, his palm on the verifier pad. It was a dark room, and a tribunal of officers sat before him: Admiral Lystra Davis, Starbase Operations; Admiral Heihachiro Nogura, retired, former Commanding Admiral of Starfleet; Admiral Yves Gervais, Starfleet Intelligence.

It’s a board of inquiry, Chekov reminded himself. Not a witch hunt, not a communist hunt, not a drumhead.

Chekov looked sheepishly at Admiral Davis, unsure of how to answer her question. "As I said, Admiral, I was in Sickbay at the time. I am completely unaware of what actually went on on the bridge or in deflector control on Deck Fifteen."

"No, Captain. That’s not what I’m asking. Why was circus..." The words crawled across her lips like an angry centipede and were obviously just as unpalatable. "...allowed to go on in the first place?"

"Admiral Tlondis saw this as a tremendous opportunity," Chekov explained. "The event was scheduled six weeks in advance. He failed only in that he did not foresee the delays in completing the Enterprise-B."

"His shortsightedness could’ve been forgiven," Gervais snapped, "but whose bright idea was it to take the Enterprise out without even its tractor beam emitters installed or its medical staff in place?"

"I don’t know, sir," Chekov replied.

"I...don’t...know...sir," she repeated slowly. Chekov was instantly reminded of Jim Kirk, of space station K-7, of tribbles and of a certain fistfight with Klingons.

"Computer: verify!" Gervais demanded.

"Statement is verified," responded the computer.

"Captain Harriman knows, I presume?" pressed Nogura. As a former head of Starfleet, he had been pressed into taking part in the investigation by the President of the Federation.

"One would think that," agreed Chekov.

"One would think that anyone with half a brain wouldn’t have taken a ship out of SpaceDock as unready as the Enterprise obviously was," muttered Davis.

"Sir, there was..." Chekov’s voice trailed off.

"There was what?" prompted Gervais.

"There was a lot of pressure on Harriman to do it, no doubt," suggested Chekov. "I can’t believe any captain as bright as he seemed to be would willingly take his unprepared ship out."

"Did you exert any pressure on Harriman?" asked Nogura.

"No, sir!"

"Computer: verify!" Again, Gervais, apparently looking for a lie.

"Statement is verified."

"Are you aware of anyone who exerted any pressure on Harriman?" Nogura pressed the point.

"No, sir. I honestly don’t know."

"Captain Chekov," called Admiral Davis, "why did this mission fail?"

"I don’t know, sir."

"Incorrect!" called the computer, and the board’s collective eyebrow went up.

"The computer seems to disagree with you, Captain. Why is that?" asked Gervais, his eyes narrow slits through which Chekov doubted he could see clearly.

"Perhaps because the captain has suspicions he cannot prove," Nogura suggested.

"You might say that," conceded Chekov.

"Tell me why you suspect this mission failed then, Captain Chekov."

"This mission failed because Captain John Harriman was as ill-prepared for the center seat as his ship was for spaceflight. This mission failed because Captain Harriman’s cowardice led to inaction, inaction which led to the loss of the first ship of refugees and the loss of most of the lives of those aboard the second ship. How he ever was given command—"

"Belay that, Captain," ordered Gervais.

The computer offered its analysis: "The subject has relayed subjective statements which he believes to be true."

Davis leaned forward sympathetically. "Captain, I appreciate your loss...our loss. However, aside from yourself, only one witness has indicated any perceived cowardice in Captain Harriman."

"Scotty," Chekov said.

"Yes," Davis nodded. "You two are obviously too close to the subject to be objective."

"Speaking frankly, Admiral, that’s a load of bullshit. We’re Starfleet officers. Harriman’s cowardice—"

"I said belay that, Captain," snapped Gervais, staring at Chekov intently. "I don’t like repeating myself. Ever. Don’t make that mistake with me again." The admiral wagged a finger at the captain on the witness stand. "We’re not going to have it get out that any Starfleet officer might be guilty of cowardice." Gervais leaned back in his chair. "It seems clear to us that Captain Harriman was following orders to take out the Enterprise-B, even though she was not yet spaceworthy."

"Yes, Admiral."

"Captain Chekov, we’re trying to find whoever gave Harriman his orders to take an unworthy vessel out of spacedock. I want to know if you gave such an order to Captain Harriman."

"No, sir."

"Do you know anyone who did?" asked Gervais.

"No, sir."

"Computer: Verify!"

"Statement is verified."

"Yves," Nogura began with a chuckle, "you can stop asking it to verify every time the captain gives you an answer you don’t like. It will tell you if it detects a false statement." The venerable man looked at Chekov. "Do you have anything further to add?"

"No, sir."

"Computer: Cease recording," ordered Davis.

"Confirmed. Recording terminated."

Davis spoke. "Off the record, Captain Chekov, you’ve lost your mentor—"

"I’ve lost a close friend," he interjected forcefully.

"—and a close friend. At least you’re honest enough with yourself that Jim Kirk is dead." She looked at him straight in the eye. "Have you spoken with Captain Scott since the tragedy?"

"No, sir," Chekov emphatically replied. "That would be a violation of standing orders involving inquiries such as this."

She rolled her eyes and nodded, "Nevertheless, please take the opportunity to speak with him as soon as possible."

Her request struck him by surprise. "Is there something wrong?"

"I don’t know, Captain. He wasn’t making much sense this morning when we had him on the stand."

Gervais snorted. "That’s an understatement, Lystra. He practically demanded we mount a rescue mission for a dead man."

Nogura added his opinion. "It seems clear that the incident has rattled Captain Scott."

"I’ll speak with him as soon as I can," answered Chekov.

The door slid open, and a young Starfleet security officer strode in with a message padd. He handed the padd to Davis, who almost exploded. "Unavailable? Unavailable!" She turned to her fellow board members. "Captain Harriman is ‘unavailable’!"

"Says who?" Gervais snatched the board from her hand. "Hardass himself, eh? That figures."

"Vice Admiral Harriman has no authority to circumvent the will of this board of inquiry." Nogura’s countenance darkened. "I’ve known Burgess since his days aboard the Republic. This is disappointing, but not surprising."

"Probably doesn’t want to admit how bad his boy fucked up," concluded Gervais.

"Probably doesn’t want Captain Harriman to implicate him or his friends," suggested Davis. "Captain Chekov, do not discuss your testimony today with anyone. Dismissed."

"Farewell, Captain Chekov," said Nogura. "It was good seeing you again, son. I just wished it hadn’t been under such tragic circumstances."

"Me, too, Admiral. Me, too."

Chekov stood and walked out the door into the Great Hall at Starfleet Command. Adorning the walls were portraits, busts and holograms of the galaxy’s greatest explorers: Captain Soo Chi of the U.S.S. Valiant, Garth of Izar, Commodore Robert April, Trader Scorpan of Vulcan, Doctor Zefrem Cochrane, General Grundt of Tellar, Captain Christopher Pike, Ship Master Raynd of Andor, and now, not unexpectedly, Captain James T. Kirk. Chekov’s face flushed as he looked at the painting of his captain, his mentor and his friend. There was black bunting all around the frame, a reminder of the tragedy.

He walked on, his steps a little slower, a little smaller, until the doors slid apart, and he stepped out into the early morning light. The sun was hidden behind the low-level clouds that would burn off by noon, and the air was typically cool for December. Calls of seabirds and the crashing of waves breaking in the distance followed him to the nearest monorail station.

He boarded the rail and headed toward his condominium across the bay. Around him, other Starfleet officers and civilians were on their way to work or home, each absorbed in their own thoughts. Every now and then, he would catch a glimpse of a concerned face regarding him. No doubt, all of the Federation knew of the tragedy, but among Starfleet officers there was the Code. Each man and woman had a right to their grief, and no one had a right to intercede without an invitation. And it was clear that Chekov was not issuing invitations today.

The railcar stopped, and Pavel Chekov walked out of the car and through the doors of the condominium building on the bay. Silently, he made his way home. He placed the palm of his hand on the door pad and walked in.

Glancing out the bay window, he noted the sun was just visible. A little after noon, he decided as he sat down at the BellComm terminal. He tried to call Scotty, but the engineer wasn’t home. There was a page from Starfleet, so he answered it. "Pavel Chekov here."

"One moment please, Captain. I’ll connect you with the admiral now," came the response from a receptionist.

"Thank you for returning my call this morning, Captain Chekov," said Commander-Starfleet Bill Smillie. "I’m sure you’ve got...well, a lot of things on your mind." The admiral stood in full view on the screen.

"Yes, Admiral. What can I do for you?" Chekov hoped the annoyance in his voice wasn’t that obvious on Smillie’s end.

"Well, Captain," Smillie looked at the toes of his boots. "I’ve decided I want you to make the arrangements for Captain Kirk’s funeral service."

"Thank you, sir, but no. I’d rather not."

Smillie looked up at the camera, and seemingly met Chekov’s eyes. "I’m sure, Captain. However, you misunderstand. It’s not a request. You will make the arrangements for the service."

"I see," Chekov answered neutrally.

"I don’t think you do, but you will. This is an opportunity for you, Captain. Spare no expense. Just have the service set for tomorrow at eleven hundred hours. I think it’s appropriate that one of Captain Kirk’s command crew should make the arrangements."

"I’m not sure that I am worthy of such a task. Captain Kirk was such a great man. I’m not sure I can do justice to his memory."

Smillie looked at him strangely. "Really? You know, Pavel, I’ve looked at your record. If there’s one problem you have over the years, it’s your lack of self-esteem. There are a few hiccups here and there, but you have an exemplary record. Maybe if you’d stop trying to live up to Captain Kirk and relax and be Captain Chekov, you’d find yourself in the center seat."

That struck a chord in Chekov. Still, there wasn’t enough time. "What about Doctor McCoy? He’s on Serenidad, and—"

"Oh, the guests have already been invited. You just have to come up with some sort of..."

"Media event?" suggested Chekov, none too innocently twisting the knife that was now apparent in Smillie’s back.

There was a long pause. "I see you do understand, Captain. Now, see to it. Report back to me by fifteen hundred this afternoon."

"Yes, Admiral."

Chekov reached forward to turn off the BellComm terminal.

"Uh, Captain Chekov?"

He paused. "Sir?"

"My, uh...condolences."

Chekov clicked off the BellComm unit with a savage jerk of his thumb.


Dinner in the captain’s quarters of the U.S.S. Excelsior was usually a festive occasion; complete with good food, good conversation, a good time. It was an honor and a privilege.

Tonight, it was more like a wake.

Not that they hadn’t tried. Captain Hikaru Sulu had commissioned a lavish feast comprised of delicacies from all over the galaxy. The cooks had done an excellent job of preparing the meal, and the food was top-notch.

But none of the dinner guests had much of an appetite.

The death of Jim Kirk cast a pall over the proceedings. It was never far from their thoughts, and it seemed to lurk in every corner of the spacious cabin. Sulu sat on one side of the table with his lover, Commander Ariel Cord who was also his chief medical officer. Across from them sat Doctor Leonard McCoy and his wife, Princess Teresa Morales de la Vega of Serenidad. McCoy’s commission had been temporarily reinstated for the upcoming funeral service. He wore a wine-red Starfleet uniform, as did Sulu and Cord. Teresa was stunning in a formal sea-green gown. Ariel Cord kept stealing furtive glances at the Princess, in a manner of one beautiful woman sizing up another—sizing up the competition.

Sulu finally pushed his plate away. "Damn," he swore softly. "It’s such a…such a waste. The Enterprise-B wasn’t ready to be towed out of SpaceDock, much less go for a shakedown run. I talked to Demora. She said Captain Kirk had to all but take command away from Harriman, or they’d have been destroyed."

"Harriman did ask Captain Kirk for recommendations, honey," Ariel Cord pointed out gently.

"I know," Sulu answered. "But it doesn’t change the fact that Harriman was no more ready to command the Enterprise than the Enterprise was ready to leave the dock."

"I still can’t believe Jim Kirk’s dead," Teresa sighed. "He was almost like some mythical figure."

"He was," McCoy murmured. "But he was also a mortal Human being, just like the rest of us, subject to the same physical laws. The biggest law of all—the law of averages—finally caught up to him. He had more close calls and narrow escapes than any man had a right to expect. I guess we can take some small consolation in that."

No one spoke for a long time. Sulu finally broke the silence: "The memorial service will be the day after tomorrow at eleven hundred hours, San Francisco time. Pavel has put together the arrangements for the service. They’ll have a photon torpedo casing and the Federation flag. They’re re-commissioning the Enterprise-A for the service, and they’ll launch the tube from her toward open space. Of course, it’ll be symbolic, since they don’t have a body…"

"No body," Teresa murmured. "I hate that! You can’t say goodbye. Papa’s funeral was like that...and Carlos’."

"And Janet’s…" Sulu finished, his voice breaking on her name. Ariel Cord squeezed his arm, and Sulu covered his eyes with his hand. McCoy looked away, uncomfortable.

"I’m sorry," Sulu said, regaining his composure. "It’s just…what you said, Teresa, about not being able to say goodbye—that’s exactly what happened when Janet was killed in the Kelvan War. I didn’t get to say goodbye, and it hurt so bad—it still hurts."

"It always will," Teresa whispered.

The gloomy silence returned and began to stretch on interminably.

McCoy decided that perhaps idle conversation was a possible solution. He favored Cord with his most charming, crooked smile. "I’ve read a lot of good things about you, my dear, and heard a lot of good comments from Captain Sulu. You’re as excellent a physician as you are beautiful. Why so quiet?"

Cord cleared her throat nervously. "I’m a doctor, and I’m a woman," she said. "I’m sitting across the table from two people who outclass me in both departments—the most famous doctor in the history of Starfleet and possibly the most beautiful woman in the galaxy. I’m…a little intimidated."

Teresa blushed, then chuckled. "I’m honored, Ariel," she said. "But, with all due respect, Leonard and I put on our undies just like everybody else!"

"And take ’em off the same way, too," McCoy added, twisting his face into a mock lecherous leer as he draped an arm over his wife’s shoulders.

Cord burst out laughing, but she was soon drowned out by Sulu’s staccato, machine-gun fire guffaw.

That broke the ice, McCoy thought. Life goes on. There’ll be more than enough sorrow and grief at the funeral service. We don’t need to pound it into the ground now.


As he and Teresa entered their stateroom, a red light on the small comm panel caught McCoy’s attention.

"Wonder what this is?" A frown etched itself on his face as he tapped the ‘play’ button.

"Message received 20:12, ship’s time," came the filtered, recorded voice of communications officer Janice Rand. "Point of origin, city of San Francisco, Planet Terra."

The familiar face of Captain Montgomery Scott sharpened into focus on the screen. "Leonard, lad, I’m sorry I have to contact ye this way, but my ship leaves in forty-five minutes. I’m headed for the retirement colony on Norpin Five aboard the Jenolen. This came up kinda sudden, an’ I dinna want to miss out." He paused, his dark eyes growing distant for a moment. "It’s time. I’ve had enough o’ blastin’ around the galaxy. Time t’ rest now. I’m sure I’ll hear about it on the newsfax, but call me when they…rescue Jim. My BellComm code is 13-MS-405-365C. Hope t’ hear from ye soon. Good luck!" The screen darkened.

McCoy shook his head, sighing. "He’s in denial," he finally said. "He can’t face the fact that Jim died out there. Who knows, though—maybe he’s got the right idea. I know I’m not looking forward to the memorial service." He yawned, stretching. "I’m bushed. You ’bout ready to turn in?"

"Not quite," Teresa answered softly from behind him.

Unclasping the shoulder strap of her dress, she let it slide from her body to swirl around her ankles like sea foam. As usual, she had nothing on under it. Her slender, naked form seemed to glow in the soft cabin lighting. Reaching up, she undid the clasp in her hair, and the intricately woven braids tumbled to her shoulders in thick, midnight waves.

McCoy’s breath caught in his throat. "Y’know, I was wondering what you were talking about when you told Ariel you put your undies on like everybody else. I happen to know you don’t own a single undergarment."


It had been a strange day for Pavel Andreievich Chekov.

After receiving his orders from Commander-Starfleet Smillie, he had returned to Starfleet Headquarters and spent the day at his office in Public Relations, seeing to the details of Kirk’s funeral. All the while, he couldn’t help but wonder what his fate would be. So many times in the past, junior officers had paid for the mistakes of their commanding officers. As the actual public relations officer on board the Enterprise-B during the tragedy, he had no doubt he would be asked to fall on his sword for Admiral Tlondis. After nearly eight and a half hours of intensive scheduling and holoconferencing, he had returned home.

So, Chekov sat in his favorite lounger in front of the fireplace. The BellComm terminal chirped. "Chekov here."

"Is it really?" came a wry, old voice. "Oh, I am so impressed."


"So when are you coming to see your poor ol’ grandmother?"

Chekov almost sighed but stopped himself. Looking warmly at the monitor, he answered, "Next week, Nana. I promise."

"You okay, Pavel?"

Chekov favored her wizened visage with a faint smile. "No, Nana. But I will be."

"He was a good man, Pavel. Remember all the good he did. Even good came out of his death. Remember that."

"Yes, Nana. Now, I need to—"

"I know, I know. I’m being a pest. I just wanted to check on you, okay? Now, get back to work..."

"Yes, ma’am." The screen faded to black.

The BellComm flashed with a pending message light. "Computer, play messages."

"Message received at 18:14 local time. Point of origin: San Francisco."

The familiar face of Captain Montgomery Scott sharpened into focus on the screen. "Chekov, me lad, I’m sorry I have to contact ye this way, but my ship leaves in forty-five minutes. I’m headed for the retirement colony on Norpin Five aboard the Jenolen."

Scotty sounds like he’s rehearsed this several times, Chekov decided.

"This came up kinda sudden, an’ I dinna want to miss out. I’m sure I’ll hear about it on the newsfax, but call me when they rescue Jim. My BellComm code is 13-MS-405-365C. Hope t’ hear from ye soon. Good luck!" The screen darkened.

"First message complete. Now queuing second message."

"Damn," he muttered. He hadn’t gotten around to calling Scott like he’d planned, and now the engineer was off on some crazy...

The computer announced, "Message received at 18:18 local time. Point of origin: Broughton."

That’ll be Spock from his Mountain View residence in Washington territory, Chekov deduced, heading for the liquor cabinet.

"Greetings, Mister Chekov. I have just received a rather...unusual message from Captain Scott. I would appreciate the opportunity to discuss its contents as well as other matters pertaining to the death of Captain Kirk at your earliest convenience. I will await your call." The screen darkened.

The computer announced, "Message received at 20:00 local time. Point of origin: Broughton."

Pouring himself an ice-cold Vodka on the rocks, he called out, "Computer: how many messages are from Broughton?"

"There are three additional messages from Broughton."

"Are there any messages not from Broughton?"

"There is one message from Nairobi, one message from U.S.S. Excelsior."

He took a swig from the glass. "Play the Nairobi message."

Uhura’s face filled the screen. Her eyes were puffy and red. "Pavel, I just... well... damn. I can’ now." The screen darkened.

He took a bigger swig. "Play the Excelsior message."

Sulu’s face now appeared on the screen. "Pavel, I just got this weird message from Scotty. Call me when you can. Sulu out."

Chekov looked at the now empty glass. "Computer, return the call to Broughton."

A few minutes later, the computer announced, "There is no response. Shall I record a message?"

"No. Cancel call."

"Transmission canceled."

Chekov shook his head, sat down in front of the bar, and poured himself another vodka.

December 3rd 2294

The door screamed like a phaser on overload.

"Oy vey," he whispered for fear of adding to his misery. He looked at the clock. 0530. And he knew who it was at the door. The door chime screamed again, demanding attention. "Oh, fuck it. Come in!"

The door slid open, and Spock strode in, taking in the situation with his piercing gaze.

"Captain, I, uh..." He forced his eyes wide and blinked repeatedly, trying to force himself awake.

The Vulcan strode quickly to the kitchenette, placing a series of commands into the food supply unit. A few seconds later, Spock brought Chekov a tray with steaming coffee, a bagel with cream cheese and lox, and a vitamin B-laden Stim-Tab.

Chekov weakly looked up in gratitude only to slowly move his gaze to the floor once he saw the extreme disapproval registering on the Vulcan’s countenance. With fingers shaking, he took the tablet and put it in his mouth. Taking the cup of coffee, he washed down the vitamin. It slowly dawned on him that Spock had had the computer put in the extra sugar, heavy cream and amaretto flavoring Chekov favored.

"Mister Chekov," the Vulcan intoned, "I am dismayed to find you in this state of...disrepair."

Chekov closed his eyes and slowly turned his head to and fro. "Not as sorry as I am, Spock."

"Are you able to answer a few questions regarding...a matter of most recent concern?"

Chekov’s face flushed momentarily as he contemplated whether he should throw up. He decided to face his former superior officer. Clearing his throat a few times, he answered: "Possibly. However, I have been enjoined by the board of inquiry to speak to no one regarding the events which occurred on the Enterprise-B."

"Be that as it may, I have come for answers."

"I’m sorry, Spock; I cannot break my oath to Starfleet."

"I have sworn that same oath, and I am not asking you to break yours."

"Then what are you asking?"

"What has happened with Mister Scott?"

"Who knows? I mean, he was there. He has to know that Captain Kirk is dead."

"His recorded message of yesterday evening implies he believes the opposite to be true. Is there any way Captain Kirk could have survived?" Spock’s dark eyes pierced Chekov’s soul.

"I don’t see how, sir. The compartment..." Chekov stopped himself. He was limited in what he could say. "No one could have survived."

Spock’s gaze grew stronger, more intent, more focused, drilling deeply into Chekov. Then, the look softened. "So I see."

Chekov’s brow rose. "Captain, did you just mind—"

"I beg forgiveness, Mister Chekov," Spock looked crestfallen. "I...can only make apologies for what I have done. I...felt my actions were necessary." The Vulcan truly looked doleful. "I will, of course, understand if you press charges for my illegal mind-touch."

"Don’t be ridiculous, Captain Spock. Just tell me why you did it."

"In my many years in service with Captain Kirk, we have often been forced to mindmeld. During all those melds, a mental...thread, if you will, is formed. Captain Kirk’s thread is a dynamic one. Although you are reasonably certain Captain Kirk is indeed dead, I am somewhat doubtful." The Vulcan looked at the starship captain without blinking. "The thread remains intact, although I know not where."

Chekov understood. "This is the same sort of thing that brought Captain Kirk back to the Genesis Planet."

"Yes," admitted Spock. "The sensations reported to me by the captain are similar to those I am experiencing. The thread is there. It is faint, almost non-existent, and is certainly irretrievable at present. But I, too, am convinced that Captain James T. Kirk is not dead."

"You said he was ‘irretrievable.’ What do you mean by that?"

"Simply that he is lost to us. Jim Kirk, for all practical purposes, is gone forever."

And with that, Spock spun around as if to leave.

"Wait!" called Chekov. "Spock, will you speak at the memorial service?"

Spock paused, but did not turn. "I will. I go now to meditate. Good day, Mister Chekov, and my apologies for my...brevity."

Chekov stared at the door as it closed, then rushed to the bathroom as a wave of nausea struck with gale force.

December 4th 2294

The room was already filled with a number of Starfleet officers of various ranks and official delegates from the Federation. Jim Kirk had cut a wide path through the universe, touching many lives. Chekov noted that his old crew mates were crowded around together, filling most of the area. Of course, Kirk had commanded the Enterprise and Enterprise-A for a long time, mused Chekov. There were literally thousands of Starfleet officers and crew who had the fortune of serving under the Federation’s most heralded starship commander. Now many of them stood here, wiping tears from their eyes, hugging each other, comforting each other, trying to put on a strong front, and failing.

Chekov watched as Sulu entered, accompanied by Miguel Morales de la Vega, the son of Princess Teresa. Commander Christine Chapel of Starfleet Medical entered behind him, and they immediately were encircled by old friends. Commander Bailey and Captain Garrovick were already there, their ships flying escort to the older vessel in silent homage to their former commander. To the side, weeping softly, was Uhura.

There were others, lesser notables who had wanted to come to the memorial service, but since the mothballed starship could only hold so many safely, a number of mourners had been refused aboard. Instead, the service was transmitted to the gallery at the Federation Headquarters, where a black-draped viewscreen showed all the proceedings.

A Federation flag, draped with black bunting hung down from a railing. A large black photon tube lay in the center of the room, a flag draped over it.

Garrovick, Sulu, Bailey, Chekov and Uhura grouped themselves for privacy.

"Where’s Scotty?" Garrovick asked softly.

"We got a message en route here," answered Sulu as Chekov moved closer to hear the response. "Scotty’s off to Norpin Five, a retirement colony."

"A retirement colony? What about the memorial service?" Garrovick was surprised.

"According to Scotty, we’re to call him when we find the captain. Doctor McCoy says it’s a classic case of denial."

"Damn," said Garrovick softly.

Chekov was stunned. If only I’d called...

Uhura wept a little louder.

Ambassador Sarek of Vulcan made his way through the crowd to stand in front of Leonard McCoy and the others. He nodded briefly, taking in the entire entourage with his dark eyes, then stated, "We grieve with thee."

"Thank you," the doctor nodded back at the elder statesman.

The quiet buzz of many small conversations suddenly quieted to dead silence as the door swished open and closed. Chekov looked over to the doorway, and his jaw dropped.

Captain John Harriman, commanding officer of the U.S.S. Enterprise, NCC-1701-B, walked over to where his Enterprise’s bridge crew had been huddled, pausing only once to look at the ensemble, then drop his gaze, unable to meet the accusing looks directed at him from Kirk’s comrades and friends.

Chekov watched as Sulu marched over to Harriman, the deadly expression becoming nearly vicious. "You dare show your face here?"

"This is a memorial for Captain Kirk," Harriman began, "open to all Starfleet officers and delegates. I think I qualify."

"You’re not a diplomat," snarled Sulu. "And you’re a poor excuse for a Starfleet officer."

"Now wait just one minute!" Harriman objected, feeling a flush of red climb up his neck.

"Since when does the murderer go to the memorial service of his victim?"

"I did not murder Captain Kirk! I did everything I could…"

"And we see how much that was!" Sulu interrupted him. "You’re not man enough to sit in the center chair of any starship, let alone the center seat of a ship such as the Enterprise! Why, if we weren’t here to honor a great officer, I’d take you out back and show you exactly the kind of man you are."

"Now see here," blustered Harriman as Admiral Bill Smillie entered the bay.

Smillie stopped as the door closed behind him. His gaze rested on the two captains who looked more like two fighters ready to begin another round. Striding over to them in less than a second, he placed his body between them, effectively stopping any physical altercation.

"Gentlemen," he stared at both of them with a no-nonsense look, "we are here to commemorate a fallen comrade. Try to remember that." A flush of red touched Sulu’s ears as Harriman’s gaze dropped back to the floor. "I’m glad that’s settled. Take your places."

Sulu spun on his heel and returned to his old comrades. Chekov watched as Demora’s hand touched her father’s arm. It was clear that she enjoyed being at his side. He glanced over to where the other officers from the Enterprise-B had been standing together, only to find no one there. They had all disappeared into the crowd, leaving Harriman to stand alone, a pariah.

The toll of an ancient ship’s bell quieted the ensemble. The bosun’s mate whistle brought the group to attention. A disembodied voice gave the assembly permission to stand at ease as Captain Spock stood by the casing.

The Vulcan stared over the sea of faces, the familiar ones with whom he had served with for so many years and others who were paying respect to the legend. "Vulcans," he began in his calm, unemotional voice, "do not show grief. But Vulcans do understand loss, and mourn the passing of a fellow being. James T. Kirk was a great man, a leader of men, and," he paused briefly, "my friend. His like," his gaze shifted over to where Harriman was still standing, alone; and for a moment, Chekov could have sworn that a glint of something akin to anger flashed, but only for a moment, "will not be seen again. It is a loss to the universe."

The Vulcan bowed his head briefly, then stepped back into the crowd. McCoy stiffened his back and took Spock’s place by the photon case.

Looking at the crowd, the doctor took a deep breath, wondering how Spock had convinced him to deliver a eulogy for their old friend. Then his eyes met Teresa’s warm brown eyes, and the fear that had begun to twist his insides melted away. "I know many of you from our long years of service together, and I know that most of you are hurting at the loss of Jim Kirk. But," he let his eyes cover the entire assembly, "don’t grieve very long over Jim Kirk. He wouldn’t want you to. He enjoyed living, and living to the fullest, taking any and every chance," he momentarily remembered the El Capitan episode, "that was thrust in his path. He wanted to keep on living, but, if he had to choose a way to die, it would have been this way—saving a gallant ship and crew." He paused. "So remember—no, celebrate—his life. Don’t mourn his death."

He closed his eyes, bowing his head. Then he rejoined his wife.

Commanding Admiral Bill Smillie strode over to the tube, letting the gentle hum fade away before he gave his portion of the homage to Kirk. "James T. Kirk was a man among men," he began. "He sought to live the mission of Starfleet—to seek out new life, new civilizations, to go where none had gone before. He often put his career on the line to do what he believed was proper and right. Sometimes he was wrong. Many times, however, he was right. There is no way to replace a man such as he. We will not even try."

The bosun’s whistle sounded sharply again, and the ship’s bell tolled as the torpedo casing was slowly moved down the ramp on its way to the sun. The assemblage came to attention as an honor guard barked, "Attention!"

"Fire," Smillie ordered softly.

The casing shot out of the torpedo tube, arched then and soared through the vacuum until it disappeared into the corona of the yellow star, a small bright flare showing where it had entered the fiery ring to be consumed by the heat.

"Dismissed," Smillie’s voice ordered after a few moments.

Slowly, quietly, the crowd dispersed, still clinging to each other.

Smillie tilted his head at Chekov, who was still with his old crew mates, then marched over to the lone Captain Harriman. Chekov excused himself and joined the admiral, a gritty expression on his face. They looked upon Harriman’s almost unkempt visage.

"John," the commander of Starfleet began, "you’ve been relieved of command until the court of inquiry has been satisfied that you are not to blame."

Harriman’s gaze snapped up to stare into Smillie’s hazel eyes. "And after that?" the captain demanded.

"That will depend on the findings of the court," the admiral said neutrally. "You know how it goes, John. An incident like this needs to be looked into. We can’t just sweep it under the rug. The reporters won’t let us, for one thing. Officially, you’re on leave until further notice. Frankly, John, not showing up for the inquiry was a bad move. Captain Chekov, you are hereby temporarily given command of the Enterprise-B pending the outcome of the investigation. The court will reconvene tomorrow morning at ten hundred hours. I’ll expect you both in my office at nine." He nodded at the two men, then left the room to return to Starfleet Headquarters.

Chekov glared at the shrunken man, his fists clenching and unclenching repeatedly. "You are a cowardly murderer," he uttered softly. "If it weren’t for you and your craven behavior at the Nexus, Kyptin Kirk would be alive today."

Chekov spun on his heel to join the admiral and the others, paused, and turned back to glare once again the defrocked captain. He shook his head as if in silent argument with himself, then shrugged and let his fist soar to connect solidly with Harriman’s jaw. The officer found himself on the floor, holding his broken jaw as Chekov left the room, a spring in his step.


Dinner at the Ichiban was always one of Chekov’s favorite things when in Atlanta, and tonight had been no exception. God only knew how they always managed to end up here, but he supposed that this time it had something to do with McCoy visiting his daughter in nearby Marietta. But here they were, conducting an informal wake for the greatest starship commander in Starfleet’s history.

But it just didn’t feel right.

Scott wasn’t there for one thing, and neither was Uhura. And Sulu was obviously preoccupied with his chief medical officer. Doctor McCoy and his wife, Teresa, were primarily conversing with Miguel, her half-Klingon son. Their conversation seemed to be spirited, if not cantankerous, and Chekov was glad not be included in it. Chapel, Bailey and Garrovick were present in body, but not in spirit, looking as distracted as everyone else at the table.

Chekov, who had probably had only two or more words with anyone there, finally decided he’d had enough. Although they hadn’t ordered it, Chekov asked the waitress to bring hot sake for the entire dinner party. As she began to pour, the members of the wake began to loosen up.

"This isn’t fair," Teresa complained. "We just never seem to be able to say goodbye to the ones we love most."

"Jim Kirk would’ve reminded us all that life itself isn’t fair," Bailey chimed in.

"Damn straight," added Garrovick. "What was it that crazy old goat of a Starfleet Surgeon General used to say?"

McCoy sat up at that point: "Phil Boyce always said, ‘A man either lives life as it happens to him, meets it head on and licks it, or he turns his back on it and starts to wither away.’" He took a sip of the sake, and rolled his eyes in distaste. "Or something like that."

"But here’s a man whose life has been spent making a difference for the good in everything he did. What good came from his death?" snapped Chapel, her anger just barely controlled.

"I was there, Christine. There are forty-seven El Aurian refugees—men, women and children, the last of their race—alive because of Captain Kirk’s heroism," answered Chekov. "His death has meaning for them, I assure you." He raised his cup. "To Jim Kirk."

"To Jim Kirk," they all echoed and drank their toast.

"Anyone know anything about these refugees?" asked Teresa.

"The El Aurian homeworld was destroyed by some invading force," answered Garrovick.

"Is the Federation in danger?" asked Bailey.

"Unlikely," answered Miguel, a little brusquely, but typical for anyone even half Klingon. "The El Aurians were attacked by what we’re labeling as ‘forces unknown.’ They haven’t been very forthcoming about it. But the El Aurian homeworld is reputed to be beyond Lyrian space."

"There’s a name we haven’t heard in a while," remarked McCoy.

"Not surprising considering Lyrian territory is on the far side of the Romulan Star Empire. Although I understand that the Tholians have been causing them trouble in recent months," Miguel remarked.

"Trouble?" asked Chekov.

"Swarming again, aren’t they?" deduced Sulu.

Miguel nodded. As a member in the Federation Diplomatic Corps, Miguel Morales de la Vega had access to gigabytes of data that most Starfleet officers would give their eye teeth for. Of course, the matter was not secret, but with so many planets and so many ships, it was rare that any given officer would know or even need to know the events outside his or her or its patrol routes.

"Seems to be cyclical," remarked Garrovick.

"If it is, Starfleet hasn’t made any sense of it," said Sulu as he sipped more sake. He leaned over the table, "So, Pavel, have you given any thought of pursuing a captaincy? I’m not talking about being temporarily placed in command during these proceedings. I’m talking about an honest-to-God assignment in the center seat of a starship on an actual mission."

"You ask me that every time we get together, Sulu."

"Well, Pavel, I think you’d make a great starship captain. I’ve always have. You’ve always sold yourself short."

"Here, here," agreed Bailey. "Here you were, the first of all of us to make it to the rank of full commander, but you follow all us to actually taking the center seat."

Chekov got a far away look in his eyes. "Well, if one is offered to me again, I’m going to give it some serious thought."

"Really? Why’s that?"

"Let’s just say I’ve been doing some thinking."

Bailey, Garrovick, Sulu and Chekov noted a blonde vision strolling toward them. It was Sienna Gillette, of Intergalactic News Service, wearing a skin-tight translucent evening gown. At the sushi bar across the restaurant was Brad Bashaw. It was obvious she was there with him considering the way he kept checking her whereabouts.

Chekov and Sulu stood as she came to their table. Sulu’s gaze kept drifting down from her face. So did Chekov’s. "Mind if I join you?"

"This is a private party," responded Bailey, looking up from his seat, apparently immune to her feminine charms.

Even Chekov, though responding to her assets, knew she was there to pump them for information. "There will be an official statement from Starfleet after the debriefing and investigation."

"Oh, so Captain Harriman screwed up, huh?" she asked casually.

Chekov reiterated himself. "We have nothing to say. There will be an official statement from Starfleet after the debriefing and investigation."

"Well, if you change your mind," she offered him her card and strolled back to the bar.

"Now, she has some wonderful muscles." Chekov remarked, "Too bad she has even less personality than that Klingon, Lieutenant Vixis."

Sulu laughed. "Ah-ah-ah-ah."

Bailey and Garrovick rolled their eyes, as if asking heaven to help Sulu’s bizarre form of chortling, but divine intervention would not occur this day.

"Ah-ah-ah-ah," Sulu was still laughing.

Chekov looked at his empty cup, but he knew he had a meeting with Commander-Starfleet in the morning. It would not be good to be suffering from a hangover during such an important meeting, even if it was likely to be his dismissal or at least notification of a court-martial from Starfleet.

He yawned openly. "Well, ladies and gentlemen. This ended up better than it started. Good evening," he excused himself. Retrieving his boots from the foyer, he stepped out onto International Boulevard and walked past the adult night club to the Drop Tube station. There was a train to San Francisco in ten minutes.

Perfect timing, he thought. Perfect evening. He then shuddered as he remembered how the last time something so perfect had gone so wrong.

Self-chastened, he sat down on the bench and waited for the train.


Harriman materialized on the transporter pad, still holding his injured jaw. He wondered idly if there was anyone in Sickbay who could repair the bone, then decided against it. He didn’t want to have to explain how he’d wound up with a broken jaw at a memorial service.

He hadn’t wanted to go to the Enterprise-A. He knew what everyone else thought of him, of his actions at the Nexus. Hell, if he’d had his way, he’d have stayed in his cabin and gotten drunk. But no, his father, the great Vice Admiral Burgess Harriman had insisted that he go, made sure he was one of the few that could get on board the ship, letting him know it wouldn’t look right if he didn’t pay his respects.

He paused outside the transporter room for a moment, still contemplating which direction to take, then let his feet take him to his cabin. He had all the time in the world now.

The door to his quarters slid open at his approach, as though welcoming him, even if it was for the last time. The lights were dimmed to quarter power, the way he liked them. A warm, soft welcome when he finished his watch. A warm welcome no longer. After tonight, it would belong to another, just as the ship would be under another’s command.

He ran a hand through his brown hair as he got his carry-all. Angrily, he stuffed his clothes into the bag, then began to throw in other items in as well.

He stopped as he picked up his medals, the few that he had. Running his fingers over them, he recalled the ceremonies that had bestowed them on him. Mostly, they had been given as a favor to his father. His career was nothing like Kirk’s, but then, no one’s career was like Kirk’s. His father’s dream had been that his son captain a starship, especially since he himself had not been able to get one, a case of too few ships for too many officers. John’s academy instructors had tried to discourage his father from pushing him into so lofty a position, suggesting instead that he pursue science, but no one argued for long with Vice Admiral Burgess Harriman, not if he wished to have a career in Starfleet.

When the Enterprise-B was commissioned, Burgess Harriman campaigned long and hard to get John its center seat, arguing that in a peace-time universe, the captain needed to be a peaceful person, not a war-monger such as Kirk had been. He’d managed to convince a few top officers that his son would think before firing a weapon, thus maintaining peace in the Federation. He forgot that sometimes one had to act first, using instinct instead of intellect, even in peace.

And so it was that John Harriman had been given the coveted center chair of the prized Enterprise-B over other candidates who most likely were better suited to Command. And he had been encouraged—ordered might be a more accurate word—by his father, to take the ship out on that cursed shake-down cruise when even he felt that it was too soon, just because the press wanted to see the new Enterprise in action, with the legendary Kirk as its passenger. Kirk, he knew, would never have been coerced into moving the ship out of dry-dock until it was ready for deep space just to whet the media appetite or appease a number of admirals aching for such a public relations coup.

Harriman threw the medals into the bag, sighed deeply, and returned to cleaning out his desk and bureau. His career, once on the fast track to the top, was now on a fast track to nowhere. A man could lose a crewman, the entire crew, his ship, a battle, even the entire war and probably salvage his career.

Kirk had done all that and had still had his ship, his command, his career.

But lose a legend…

Lose a legend and lose your professional life.

His hand brushed against a small metal item. Pulling it out, he gazed down at his personal phaser cradled in his hand. He walked back to the bed, continuing to stare at the phaser, at the carry-all, at the stars outside his cabin window.


Yeoman Carla Bell was returning to her quarters after standing her watch. She shook her head sadly. The scuttlebutt had it that there would be a big shake-up after that debacle at the Nexus. She shook her head. Such a waste.

Not that she didn’t understand the need for the shakeup. Her family had been Starfleet for as long as there had been a Starfleet, and Navy before that. A man didn’t have his ship damaged and lose a celebrated hero on a shake-down cruise and not answer for it. She was just sorry that it had happened to John Harriman. He wasn’t the greatest captain in the universe—that spot belonged to Jim Kirk—but he had potential, if only he had the chance to develop it, without his father interfering.

A whine caught her attention. The whine of a phaser on destruct.

She slammed her hand against the nearest comm panel. "Security! I have phaser fire on Deck Seven, near the captain’s quarters."

Without waiting for a response, she rushed to the captain’s door and pressed the chime to gain admittance. "Captain! Captain Harriman!" she yelled, not caring that she might be waking a few sleeping souls.

She continued to beat on the door, hit the chime and shout for the captain until a large security officer in full defensive armor lifted her out of the way. A smaller security officer slid into the spot she had been forced to vacate, his fingers playing over the keypad next to the door.

"You said there was phaser fire?" a guard demanded.

"Y-yes," Bell answered, tears streaming down her face. "One burst. One long burst. From the captain’s quarters. I know there were a lot of people who blamed him for what happened, but—"

"Anyone leave?" the guard continued his interrogation.

"No. No one."

The door slid open, and the security contingent piled in, leaving Carla Bell alone, frightened, in the corridor. She moved closer to the door, peering inside. The guards stopped short, their weapons no longer at the ready but, instead, pointed to the deck. Bell cautiously crept in behind them, maneuvering around the large armored bodies to peer at what had stopped them so abruptly.

The scream escaped her throat as she crumpled against a guard, then rushed to the bathroom, retching loudly.

"Better get a medical officer up here," the chief security officer finally said, turning away from the ghoulish scene on the floor in front of him. "I want a guard posted outside this door. No one but the doc gets in. One of you take the yeoman to Sickbay. Keep her under guard. She doesn’t talk to anyone without my okay."

"Sir?" a sick-looking ensign asked him.

"We don’t want word of this to get out," the security chief answered as he stared back down at the headless form of John Harriman, the still-warm phaser inches from his limp fingers. "Not yet, anyway." He shuddered as the squad left the room, one security guard supporting the weak Carla Bell out the corridor to a turbolift.

"I pity the poor sod who has to tell his old man what happened. I’m just glad that person won’t be me..."

December 5th 2294

Captain Pavel Chekov had been waiting for nearly three hours. Whatever was going on behind the closed doors of Admiral Smillie’s office was apparently something big. He had arrived exactly five minutes early and immediately was told by Smillie’s yeoman that it would be quite a while. Of course, he noted with satisfaction, Captain Harriman had apparently decided not even to show up, just like at the board of inquiry. He wondered just how well that was sitting behind the closed doors.

Finally, the doors swung open, and out strode an angry vice admiral. He was followed by two security guards, one severely shaken young woman with a yeoman’s pin, and a medical officer. A voice called to him. "Come on in, Captain."

Chekov stood, tucked his uniform jacket, and cautiously stepped into the inner office. The office was ornately decorated, with dark oaken paneling and matching furniture. Behind an old oak desk was a bay window overlooking the grounds of Starfleet Headquarters, the bay, Golden Gate bridge and even the Starfleet Academy quad. On one side of the room was a fireplace, while the other side of the room held a bank of monitors and displays.

Bill Smillie was seated behind the desk. Also seated in various chairs were several of Starfleet’s brass. Some like Admiral Lystra Davis, formerly captain of the Yorktown, were known to him, but he had no idea who most of them were.

"Captain Chekov." Smillie gestured to an empty chair. "As you may have guessed, this entire incident has been a complete embarrassment to Starfleet Command. To top it all off, Captain Harriman committed suicide late last night after returning to the Enterprise-B. The media are going to have a field day with this."

Chekov was stunned at the news about Harriman but noted with a bitter irony, My, aren’t we all concerned with the value of Human life? However, he displayed no reaction to the news, not even batting an eye.

The admiral sighed. "Vice Admiral Harriman is also threatening to go to the media with how ill-prepared the Enterprise was and how we’re blaming his son for our poor judgment." He paused a beat. "Frankly, he’s right, and I’m going to let him do it."

Smillie stood and turned his back to Chekov, looking out the window across the bay. "Effective at noon today, I will be resigning from my post as Commander-Starfleet. I have named Admiral Davis as my replacement. Also resigning will be Admiral Gragrar of Operations and Admiral Tlondis of Public Relations—"

"Sir, I don’t mean any disrespect, but you cannot be serious!" Chekov interrupted. "There is no need for any of you to fall on your swords just because Harriman was a cowardly incompetent—"

Smillie spun around, brows furled in anger. "Don’t you understand, Captain? Harriman was not to blame. I personally signed the order sending the Enterprise out on this publicity stunt, and that stunt got Jim Kirk and John Harriman killed." He shook his head sadly. "Harriman blamed himself, and I can understand why. Perhaps he should’ve argued against my order a little more loudly than he did." He snorted. "Of course, his dad, Ol’ Hardass Harriman, would’ve skinned him alive."

The admiral packed up a few papers and diskettes into his briefcase. "No, there’s plenty of blame to go around for this entire debacle." A tiny gold clock on the mantelpiece over the fireplace struck twelve. He looked to Admiral Davis. "Well, Lystra. The shop’s all yours. I hope to hell you do a better job than I did at it."

With a snap, he closed the briefcase and strode from the office into a swarm of holocams and media personalities, the Tellarite Gragrar and the Andorian Tlondis right behind them. Davis nodded to two Starfleet marine guards, and the doors were closed.

Davis moved behind the desk, and stood with her arms resting on the back of the heavily padded chair, but she did not sit down. She looked at the assembled admiralty in the room. "Effective immediately, Admiral Soyen is posted to Starfleet Operations. Admiral Innys is posted to Public Relations." She smiled sadly. "The rest of you ol’ windbags can stay where you’re at for now, but there are going to be some changes. Yves?"

Admiral Yves Gervais of Starfleet Security raised his head slightly.

"I want reports from all sectors compiled and on my desk by seventeen hundred. I want to know what our friends the Klingons, the Romulans, the Tholians, the Pakari and the Kzinti are up to these days. I also want to know the political status of our allies as well: Vulcans, Tellarites, Andorians, Gorn, Orions, Rigelians, the Skorr, Coridians, Caitians, Edoans, Dramians, Pandronians, the Merakan—boy, I bet the Tellarites and Andorians are going to be livid about the resignations. And, Yves, even the Human star systems: Alpha Centauri, Elaas and Troyius, Serenidad, Axanar, Capella. Leave nothing out. I want to know how stable the Federation is right now. We’ve got nearly a hundred member worlds, and I want to know what’s going on on each of them."

"You’ll have it by fifteen hundred, Lystra," Gervais answered.

"I knew I could count on you as my right-hand man," she countered, favoring him with a smile.

Chekov sat there, listening as the new Commander-Starfleet continued issuing orders.

"Soyen?" Davis began. "I want a complete up-to-date status report of every ship in the fleet."

The Vulcan admiral raised an eyebrow. "Are you planning a more ‘hands-on’ approach to the command structure?"

"Indeed I am, my friend. I want to know what every ship of every class is doing right now. I want locations, mission assignments, current log entries, command officer profiles." She nodded at Gervais. "Since Security will have my reports at fifteen hundred, can I count on you for seventeen hundred?"

"There are presently sixteen Excelsior-class deep space cruisers, twelve Constitution-class heavy cruisers, eleven Miranda-class heavy frigates, sixteen Soyuz-class frigates, twenty-seven Constellation-class cruisers, one Federation-class dreadnought, fifty-nine Oberth-class scout-destroyers, eighteen Ptolemy-class transport tugs, seventeen Saladin-class destroyers—" He noted the amused look on his Human commanding admiral’s face. "Excuse me, Admiral. I will have my report at seventeen hundred. Please bear in mind that there were extensive losses during the Kelvan War, especially to older ships of the line."

"I was there, Soyen. I won’t forget."

The Vulcan raised an eyebrow. "Yes, Admiral."

"Well, now that that’s all taken care of, Captain Chekov, I can spend a few minutes with you."

"Yes, sir." He stood and assumed an "at-ease" stance.

"As of now, your temporary command of the Enterprise is no longer temporary. She’s all yours, Captain. You’re to oversee the repairs to the Enterprise, which will take—" She paused, waiting for an answer.

"Four to five days, Admiral," reported Rear Admiral M’lenn of Maintenance and Repair.

"—four days. After which time, you will be dispatched on a deep space exploration mission."

"Yes, Admiral," Chekov answered, snapping to attention.

"At ease, Captain. No need to break an ankle bone." Lystra Davis smiled at him warmly. "Are you ready to select your crew?"

"No, sir. I assume the crew of the Enterprise—"

"Negative, Captain. With few exceptions, they’re all going to be reassigned. No matter his weaknesses, Captain Harriman commanded the respect of his crew. Admiral Po?"

The head of Starfleet Personnel looked up from her padd. "I’ve already compiled a list of available officers for Captain Chekov to select his command-level crew from." The rear admiral gave him a disk.

"Excellent. Then, you are dismissed, Captain Chekov, and congratulations on your command."

Again, he snapped to attention. He pivoted, and briskly walked through the doors opened by the marine guards. Right into a crowd of...

"Reporters," he mumbled.

"Captain Chekov! Captain Chekov! Is it true you’ve just been promoted to captain of the Enterprise?" demanded Linda Crosby of Federation News Network.

"Yes, that is correct. I have been assigned as captain of the Enterprise," he agreed.

"What are your thoughts about all the top brass of Starfleet stepping down today?" asked Gunder Granrutto of TellarNet.

"All of the...‘brass’...did not step down today. Three of Starfleet’s finest felt that they—"

"Who ordered their dismissal? Did President O’run’tha—"

"I am unaware of any orders of the kind to those fine officers," he asserted. "President O’run’tha has not been present in any meeting I have attended. Now, if you’ll excuse me?"

As he made his way to the turbolift, their voices came to him.

"A non-denial denial when pressed on the issue of—"

"An outright insult to TellarNet and the good people of Tellar—"

"Oy vey," he mumbled as the doors closed.


"Congratulations, Pavel, my boy. You’ve finally made it to the big show."

"I beg your pardon, Doctor McCoy...‘the big show’?"

"Just an old expression for making the grade, son. I’m so...shit, proud of you, boy. I can barely contain myself."

Chekov laughed at the inappropriate nature of the doctor’s congratulatory statement.

"Congratulations on your captaincy, son." McCoy wagged a finger dramatically as if issuing a dire warning. "Just make sure of one thing. You’re not Jim Kirk. Let yourself be Pavel Chekov, and I know you’ll do fine."

"My congratulations as well, Captain Chekov," added Teresa Morales de la Vega.

"Thank you both." He looked around at their modest surroundings. They were seated at a table inside a small bistro in San Francisco. Once the news had come through, the McCoys had called him up and invited him to dinner. Teresa had picked the place and even had ordered for them.

The waitress brought them their dinner: calzones for three.

McCoy looked at Chekov and clucked in disapproval. "Now, boy, you’re gonna get as big as a house if you keep eatin’ like that," the doctor teased.

"I have a treadmill in my apartment, Doctor," answered Chekov as he started on his calzone.

"Just make sure you see to it that the Enterprise-B has one, too," the doctor warned. "Just what the hell is that?"

Chekov poked it with his fork. "I’ve got no idea what it is."

"Silly, it’s like a pizza stuffed into a shell of bread," answered Teresa. "They’re very good, and very fattening."

"Now don’t you go startin’ with the boy, ’Sita. Jus’ hush up, and eat yours."

She carved a slice of hers, allowing the melted cheeses to cover the piece. She glanced at her husband who was glowering at his meal as though he had no intention of even starting on his. "What’s the matter with you? Aren’t you hungry?"

"I am, but not for this. This is the last time I let you order for me."

Chekov sampled his dinner and, to his surprise, really liked it. "It’s an overgrown pirogi, but it’s pretty good."

"Waitress!" called McCoy, loudly, and a waitress hustled to their table. "Darlin’, can you just bring me a scrambled egg sandwich?"

"I beg your pardon, sir, is their something wrong with what you’ve ordered?"

"There’s nothing wrong with it," answered Teresa. "Just bring him what he wants, and we’ll take this one with us."

"Sure, no problem, but what’s a scrambled egg sandwich?"

McCoy stared at her intently as though pondering if she was serious, then quipped, "This is the last time we eat anywhere outside of Georgia." He smiled weakly. "Scramble two eggs for me, add some shredded cheddar. Top it off with two pieces of bacon, and serve it hot on buttered toast."

"Oh, that’s easy enough. Now, what kind of eggs do you want?"

"What do you mean?"

"We’ve got ostrich, emu, alligator—"

"Honey, just plain ol’ chicken eggs. Gallus domesticus sol, you know?"

"No problem. And the bacon? American, Canadian—"

"American, please. And on plain ol’ buttered white bread toast, okay?"

The waitress smirked. "Yes, sir. It’ll be up shortly." And she sauntered off, clearly the opposite way of the order station.

"You’re not going to get that sandwich before we get the bill," observed Teresa amusedly.

"Then it damned well better be perfect," the doctor answered, "or she’ll be takin’ it back."

Chekov was half-way through his calzone but had slowed down. "So, when are you two leaving, Princess?"

"Please, Pavel, call me Teresa."

"All right then, Teresa. When is your scheduled departure?"

She leaned over and gave McCoy’s shoulders a hug. "I’m leaving at five o’clock in the morning on the Jefferson."

Chekov’s eyes narrowed slightly. "You are staying then, Doctor McCoy?"

"Just for a little while, son. I’m a little worried about Spock. And now I’ve got to worry about Scotty. We’ve been unable to raise the Jenolen, but Starfleet says there’s an ion storm between here and Norpin Five. The Jenolen’s communications array may be unable to punch a reply through all the interference."

"I’m sure that’s all there is to it," answered Chekov neutrally, unable to convince himself of that statement.

"I’m sure." McCoy raised his glass of iced tea in a toast. "Here’s to the newest chick to leave the nest," he drawled out.

"Here here!" agreed Teresa, raising her glass of tea as well.

The couple both took long sips from their glasses. McCoy suddenly spat his out. "What the hell is this?"

"It’s tea, dear. You ordered it, remember?"

McCoy’s eyes narrowed at her teasing. "I ordered sweet tea, not this...this...polluted water. Waitress!"

Chekov rolled his eyes and mentally noted a reminder to himself not to dine with the McCoys again.


Lying in bed, McCoy regarded his wife. They’d spent the night together in urgent passion. He’d been surprised by her; it was as though she was making love with him as often as she could. She twitched in her sleep, then suddenly bolted upright. "Teresita!"

"Oh, Leonard! It was twenty years ago on Kazh. They were slashing me to pieces, taunting me the entire time. They kept telling me how no one would rescue me, how you and Kirk had been killed."

"Teresita..." he cautioned as he remembered the incident. She’d literally died in his arms as he and Kirk rescued her from the old gnarled tree. He had frantically injected cordrazine to revive her, and it was a near thing. From the neck down, the bloody HoH taJ ritual had skinned her alive. Literally, every square centimeter of her body had been flayed open. They’d beamed up immediately, and McCoy had placed her in stasis. The doctor had taken eighteen weeks of leave to repair the damage.

"But this time, in this dream, there was no one there to stop them." She buried her face in his chest. "Since Captain Kirk’s death, I’ve been haunted by these dreams. Please, Leonard, please. Call the Palace for me."

"Sita, I’m sure—"

"Call them, call them now!"

McCoy walked into the living room of the hotel unit, and placed the call. A few minutes later, he returned. "They’re fine, darlin’. Just fine. Now, let’s get some sleep...okay?"

"Hold me, Leonard," she beseeched, and he snuggled up against her. "Hold me forever."

"I’ll hold you as long as I possibly can, darlin’. Now, sleep."

"I love you."

"I love you, too."

December 6th 2294

The bosun’s whistle chirped loudly as Captain Pavel Andreievich Chekov, commanding officer of the United Star Ship Enterprise, strode onto the flight deck of the U.S.S. Enterprise, NCC-1701-B, from the shuttle tug Clydesdale which had just landed in the shuttle bay.

"Captain on the deck," called Science Officer Roberta Vasquez, and the remaining crew of the Enterprise-B snapped to attention. Although she originally had been assigned to the Enterprise, Vasquez would be transferred, along with the other command crew, to other ships. Still, with Harriman’s death and the subsequent transfer of the majority of the command crew, she was now the ranking officer, and it was her duty to oversee the change of command.

Chekov stepped up to a small stand that had been placed on the deck. Picking up the padd, he read, "To Chekov, Pavel Andreievich, Captain, SC 656-5827 CEC. You are hereby ordered to assume command of the U.S.S. Enterprise, NCC-1701-B on Stardate 9493.3. So ordered by Admiral Lystra Davis, Commander-Starfleet."

Vasquez called out to the open computer microphone. "Computer, transfer all command codes and command registry to Captain Chekov. Authorization Vasquez Three-Six Delta-Delta."

"Acknowledged. Command of the U.S.S. Enterprise is hereby transferred to Captain Pavel Andreievich Chekov."

The assembled officers and crew (and there were many) snapped to attention.

"Thank you, Lieutenant," Chekov said to Vasquez. To the assembly, he nodded, "Since the early days of spaceflight, the commanders of spacecraft have taken the opportunity to perform a pre-flight inspection of their vessels. I intend to afford myself this opportunity."

"Yes, sir," responded Vasquez, who stepped forward and directed him into the turbolift.

Chekov and Vasquez inside, the doors slid close. "Engineering," he ordered as turned to her. "So what’s next for you, Lieutenant?" The lift began to drop, and Chekov’s stomach lurched a bit.

"I had hoped to remain aboard the Enterprise, Captain," Vasquez answered.

Chekov’s expression, which had been rock hard with a jaw clenched, softened considerably. "I’m sorry, Lieutenant. As I’ve been told, no matter his weaknesses, Captain Harriman commanded the respect of this crew...yourself included, I’m sure."

Roberta Vasquez nodded. "Yes, sir. I...I just had hoped to serve aboard the Enterprise. It’’s been a lifelong dream of mine."

Chekov couldn’t turn to face her. "I’m sorry, Lieutenant. I, too, had thought that Starfleet would choose to keep this crew intact, but that’s not going to be the case. You’re to be scattered among the crews of other ships."

"Where we will be treated as pariahs, I have no doubt."

Chekov acceded her contention with a nod of his head. "No doubt."

"It’s not fair, Captain. We did nothing wrong," she implored.

"Granted, Lieutenant. Granted. However, all of you the old Russian expression goes, ‘at the wrong place and at the wrong time.’"

She looked crestfallen. "A lifelong dream lost forever."

He was truly sympathetic. "Perhaps...perhaps not. Forever is a long time. Perhaps your lifelong dream is just...on hold."

She looked up and met his eyes. "Really?"

He favored her with a smile. "Why not?"

The turbolift doors opened, and he walked out onto the engineering deck and into complete and utter chaos.

The alarm was shrieking. "Warning: Warp coil has been compromised. Warning: Starboard intermix chamber has been compromised. Warning: Plasma coolant leaks detected. Warning: Magnetic containment fields are failing."

The red alert klaxon blared loudly. There were frantic calls over the loudspeaker. "Captain to the bridge! Emergency! Captain to the bridge!"

"Somebody shut that fucking thing off!" shouted a tall, Nordic woman. "Now, damn it! I can’t hear myself think!"

"Warning: Warp coil has been compromised. Warning: Starboard intermix chamber has been compromised. Warning: Plasma cool—" Someone silenced the computer.

"Status report!" Chekov demanded.

The Nordic woman ignored him completely. "Feinstein, get me a magnaspanner. Sinclair, get a rad suit on."

Into his wrist communicator, Chekov issued orders. "Bridge, this is the captain. Standby. Evacuate all non-essential personnel. Use maneuvering thrusters and get us out of SpaceDock now. Captain out." Then Chekov shouted, "I said, ‘Status report,’ damn it!"

An ensign stepped forward quickly. "We were replacing the magnetic bottle assembly in the starboard intermix chamber when something happened."

Chekov looked at the intermix chamber. It was filled with plasma. "You’re replacing the magnetic bottle while the engines are on-line?! Good God, who’s the idiot that ordered that?"

The Nordic woman swung around. "I am, Captain. Now could you please be quiet while we get things fixed—"

"Get things fixed?" he was incredulous. "We need to launch the Enterprise away from the solar system and abandon ship. Computer, time until explosion?"

"One minute fourteen seconds," answered the computer.

"Damn. Chekov to Bridge."

"Bridge here," came Demora Sulu’s worried voice.

"Demora, disengage docking clamps. Take the ship out of SpaceDock at once."

"We’re unable to comply, Captain. Helm controls have been rerouted to Engineering."

"Who the hell authorized that?"

"I did, Captain, now shut the fuck up!" shouted the Nordic woman from underneath the dilithium chamber outside the intermix chamber. "Sinclair, open up the dilithium chamber and change the polarity of the warp nodes."

"Sir, this suit isn’t rated for that much radia—"

"I gave you an order, Mister."

A pause. "Yes, sir."

The young man in the radiation suit stepped forward, opened the chamber door and reached it with the magnaspanner Feinstein had thrust into his gloved hands. "Okay, Captain. I’m changing"

"Computer, status report!" ordered Chekov. "Time until explosion."

"Explosion now unlikely. Warp coil has been realigned. Starboard intermix chamber has been sealed. Plasma coolant leaks subsiding. Magnetic containment fields are gaining in strength. Engines now back on line. Power rating approaching 110 percent."

"All right, get him to Sickbay. Now!" barked the Nordic woman again.

Two ensigns helped Sinclair out of the rad suit. The young man looked a little tired and a little pinker than he had, and Chekov knew it was a mild case radiation poisoning. "Get him to SpaceDock’s Sickbay."

The Nordic woman slid out from beneath the chamber housing, covered with milky white tetralubisol, Chekov offered her a hand up, and she took it. As she stood, he demanded, "Who the hell are you?"

"Captain of Engineering Katya Sorenson," she said, grimacing. "Will someone get me a towel?" One was tossed to her by an ensign, and she wiped some of the tetralubisol off her face.

"Well, Captain, as the captain of the Enterprise, I want to know what the hell you think you were doing?" he didn’t shout. Well, not quite.

Sorenson rolled her eyes. "I’ve been assigned by Starfleet to oversee repair operations aboard the Enterprise."

"I see," Chekov nodded his head with his lips almost pursed in a pout. "And these ‘repair operations’ include nearly blowing up the Enterprise and the adjacent SpaceDock facility... Interesting. I must say I’ve never heard of such a unique approach to ‘repair operations.’"

"It was not my intention—"

"Oh, of that I am certain. You had no intention to destroy the Enterprise and the SpaceDock. It was just one of those things. An unavoidable accident."

"Sir, if you will shut up—"

"Captain to Security."

"Security Officer Barnes here, sir."

"Send two guards to engineering. I have a ‘captain of engineering’ to arrest for insubordination."

"Three minutes, sir. Security out."

"Sir, I’m sorry about...I meant no disrespect. I just...I..."

"Well, I seem to have your attention, now, Captain of Engineering Katya Sorenson. So, if you will be so kind to explain to me why you nearly destroyed my starship?"

"Sir, the warp coil and starboard intermix chamber suffered damage during the ship’s encounter with the energy ribbon. I was assigned to oversee repair operations for the Enterprise. I determined that the most expedient method of repair would be to replace the magnetic bottle, adjust the coil and apply sealant to the chamber simultaneously without discharging the plasma."

"I see. You would rather risk destroying this ship, the six hundred men and women aboard her, the adjacent SpaceDock and another thousand engineers stationed there...all in the name of expediency."

"No, sir. The computer models I ran through the simulation came back with a success projection of ninety-eight point four percent."

"And did any of these computer models take into consideration that the polarity of the warp nodes might have been reversed by the ship’s encounter with the energy ribbon?"

"No, sir. They did not," she admitted. "However, the entire procedure was approved by Starfleet Chief Engineer Robert Brown himself."

"Oh, did he?" Chekov noted—with a great deal of satisfaction—the arrival of the two security guards. "Escort Captain of Engineering Katya Sorenson to the brig."

"But, sir! As I explained—"

"The charges are gross negligence in the performance of her duties, and insubordination to a superior officer."

The two guards stepped forward.

"Damn it, you are not my superior officer!"

They took her arms and restrained her as Chekov stepped forward. She was six inches taller than he, but that didn’t stop him from getting into her face. "When you are on my ship, I am." To the guards, he said, "Detain her until further notice."

"Yes, sir!"

Without another word, Sorenson left the engineering section.

Filled with nonchalance, Chekov turned to Lieutenant Vasquez. "Well, shall we continue our tour?"

"Uh, yes, sir. By all means..."

"Sir?" asked one of the engineers. "What do we do in the meantime?"

"You are engineers assigned to this repair detail, no? Then make repairs. I’m sure the senior officer present can go over the pre-flight repair list..."

A young Andorian lieutenant stepped forward. "Yes, sir."

"Then carry on." Chekov turned to Vasquez. "Let’s go to Sickbay next. I’d like to see if they’ve installed any diagnostic equipment yet."

"Aye, sir."


Sickbay was another chaotic mess, but at least the engineer in charge of overseeing the repairs and installation of medical equipment had no means of destroying the ship and crew. There were light-cables everywhere, as well as Duotronic II components stacked against the walls.

"Status report, if you please?" asked Chekov, rather loudly.

"Captain, repairs and installation are proceeding as scheduled. We should be out of your hair in four hours," answered an engineer with a commander’s pin on her shoulder. The other engineers and technicians continued their work.

Chekov stepped to her. "And you are?"

"Commander Karen Gould, Starfleet Operations," she extended a lubricant-covered hand.

Without flinching, he took her hand, "Good to meet you, Commander. I presume you’ve heard about our... difficulties in Engineering."

Gould’s face flinched with contempt. "Ah, yes, Captain of Engineering Sorenson." She sighed. "You realize, of course, she had permission from the Starfleet Chief Engineer’s office for her..." She paused and searched for the right phrase. "...scheme."

"I don’t think Starfleet’s Chief of Engineering would give her permission for insubordination," Chekov countered.

Gould chuckled. "Probably not." She lowered her voice considerably. "But this won’t be her first time, and I assure you it won’t be her last. She’s a shrew, Captain. But a damned awfully talented one. Could I give you a word of advice?"

Chekov’s eyes narrowed. "All right, Commander. You have my permission to speak freely."

"Let her cool her warp pods for ten minutes, chew her out for her insubordination, then put her back to work. She’s the best person to get the job done...and to get it done right."

"Most talented, you mean."

Gould smiled brightly. "Yes, sir."

Chekov considered her suggestion.


"And this is our detention area, Captain," explained the science officer, as though giving a tour. "There are six holding cells, capable of holding six individuals each. The forcefields are rated at Class One. Designed with the assistance of several notable engineers...including your longtime associate Captain Spock, I might add...they are virtually inescapable."

"Really?" asked Chekov, feigning interest. He paused before the cell wherein Captain Sorenson had been placed. "Would you agree with that, Captain of Engineering?"

"Having spent the past fifteen minutes in here, Captain Chekov, I would," agreed Sorenson, somewhat petulantly. "In fact, I suspect that the only means I have of escaping here is apologizing to you here and now."

"Indeed, Captain?"

"Indeed, Captain. I...apologize for my lack of foresight in failing to anticipate a virtually unforeseeable act of nature in the transposition of the polarity of the warp nodes." She issued a big, fraudulent grin.

"I guess you need to rot some more," Chekov concluded. To the security guard, he ordered, "No communications with the prisoner. I don’t care if it’s Admiral Brown himself calling."

"Aye, sir."

"You can’t do that to me. I have rights!"

"Actually, Captain of Engineering, you are being held for—"

Her eyes widened in anger. "You are out of your ever-living mind!"

Chekov chuckled. "And you are out of your job." He started down the corridor.

"Captain!" Sorenson called.

"Shall we tour the bridge next, Commander?" The doors closed behind Chekov and Vasquez.

"Get him back here right now!" Sorenson shouted to the guard. "Tell him I apologize!"

The guard regarded her with a look of complete disdain. "Tell him time you see him...if you see him again."

"Why you son-of-a-bitch!"

He hit the mute button, and let her rant and rave for another hour.


The bridge was being remodeled, a given considering the damage it took in its encounter with the energy ribbon. Chekov noted with satisfaction that it was major improvement over the design he’d seen a few days earlier. The tactical and engineering stations, which had been mounted on a railing behind the captain’s seat, had been relocated against the outer wall of the upper deck. The turbolifts had been relocated as well, now positioned at the starboard and port sides of the bridge rather than the rear. Now opened up in the rear was access to the captain’s ready room, the briefing room and both heads for the bridge crew. It was convenient that his ready room was aft of the bridge on the port side and the conference room was aft on the starboard. It would make for easier discussions...and decisions. He had never understood why Captain Kirk’s office was on Deck Twelve or why the briefing room was on Deck Seven on the original Enterprise, NCC-1701.

Right now, the hustle and bustle of remodeling the bridge was almost overwhelming. Chekov had seen only one worse example: the remodeling of the bridge of the U.S.S. Enterprise, NCC-1701, prior to its fateful departure and encounter with V’ger. As then, it took almost two minutes before anyone noticed their captain’s presence amidst the controlled chaos. Suddenly, an engineering technician called out, "Captain on the bridge."

The bridge techs snapped to attention, and Chekov ordered, "Carry on." He searched among the work crew and found a familiar face. "Commander Elliot!"

Rufus D. Elliot, who had been aboard the Enterprise during its first five year mission, beamed broadly at his old shipmate. "Captain Chekov...congratulations." He extended his hand.

Chekov took it. "It is good to see you, Rufus." He glanced around the bridge. "So, work is progressing nicely."

"Yes, sir. We should have you ready for departure on the eleventh."

"Excellent. Your team is doing a fine job here."

"Thank you, sir."

"Captain!" called the senior communications officer. "Incoming message from Starfleet Command."

Chekov cocked his head and muttered sidelong to Vasquez, "Even money this is the Chief of Engineering." To the comm officer, he said, "On screen."

The grizzled visage of Admiral Robert Brown, Chief of Engineering, faded in quickly. "Captain Chekov, good to meet you, sir."

"And you, Admiral. What can I do for you?"

"I...uh, have lost touch with the Captain of Engineering assigned to the Enterprise project. Have you seen her?" the admiral beamed innocently.

"Hmm... I’m not sure, Admiral. Can you describe her?"

"Well, she’s tall... she’s blonde... she’s a real jackass. And she’s the most talented engineer I’ve seen since Montgomery Scott. Would you happen to know where she is?"

Chekov matched the innocent grin with one of his own. "I believe I do, Admiral. I think she’s...taking some time off from her duties right now."

"Indeed? Well, do you know how much longer she’ll be...indisposed."

"Fairies dancing on the head of a pin," muttered Vasquez under her breath. "You both know damned well—"

Chekov silenced her with a stern look. "Well, Admiral, I’m just not sure. That’s entirely up to her, I’m afraid."

Admiral Brown chuckled. "Might be until Hell freezes over, Captain. I’m afraid that Captain Sorenson’s got a real disposition to...taking time off."

"Perhaps it’s time she take an extended leave then," suggested Chekov obliquely.

"That bad, huh?"

"That bad," confirmed the captain.

Admiral Brown leaned back in his chair, placed his boots on his table, and templed his fingers across his chest. He looked pensive. Finally, he spoke again. "File the charges, Captain. Let’s make this one official. Maybe a formal hearing and a rank review board will educate her about how one should address one’s superior officer."

"I regret that it’s come to this, Admiral."

"Not as much as I, Captain Chekov. But I’ve given her every chance." He sighed. "It’s a shame we’d have our first meeting as a result of such unpleasantness."

"Indeed, Admiral, it is. Perhaps our next meeting will be under better circumstances. Chekov out."

The screen faded to black, and the entire bridge was dead silent.

"I don’t believe it," said Elliot. "The ol’ man has finally had enough of her shit."

"Someone check the sensors," requested a senior tech. "See if Hell has frozen over."

"Belay it, everyone," ordered Chekov. To Vasquez, he made it official. "Have security transfer our prisoner to SpaceDock. I’ll be pressing charges presently."

Chekov strode into the aft section of the bridge and made a beeline to his new office.

He pretended not to hear the cheers through the doors as they closed.


There was a knock at the door.

Chekov sighed. He’d just finished putting a major dent in the career of Katya Sorenson. He regretted the incident and had no doubt from her service record that she was a fine officer. A native of Xartheb. Typical of that colony, she was highly motivated, highly skilled, highly intelligent. Brown had not been exaggerating; she was probably the most promising engineer since Montgomery Scott, eclipsing even Deneice Maliszewski of the Excelsior, whose uprated warp drive engines—loosely but inaccurately described as ‘transwarp’—had resulted in a restructuring of the warp speed chart.

The knock on the door was repeated.

The captain sighed deeply, sadly. "Enter," he called, and in stepped Ensign Sulu.

"Demora!" Chekov smiled brightly. "Good to see you!"

She was formal. "Thank you, Captain. I have come to make a request."

He snapped into "Captain" mode. "Make it."

"I hereby request permission to serve with the captain aboard this starship."

"Really?" Chekov was surprised. What is with everybody? They all want to serve aboard the Enterprise?

"Yes, sir."

"Don’t you want to be with your father?" He knew that Captain Sulu had already filed a request with Starfleet Personnel to transfer Demora to the Excelsior.

She evaded the issue. "Don’t you want me aboard your ship?"

"Well, of course, of course." He was troubled—really troubled—by her hedging, but she was a twenty-two-year-old ensign, fresh out of the Academy. Why wouldn’t she want to serve with her father?

Why should she?

Why won’t she?

"I’ll take your request under advisement, Demora."

"Thank you, Captain."


As he watched her leave, he couldn’t help but think of the precocious seven-year-old who used to entertain him with outlandish tales of her father’s adventures in space.

And he wondered where she had gone.


"I’d like to propose a toast!"

Chekov smiled and rolled his eyes. "Not another one," he mumbled.

Around the forward observation deck of the Enterprise-B, friends and fellow captains were gathered here and there in celebration of Chekov’s captaincy: Dave Bailey, David Garrovick, Shaun Kelsey, Johnny Farrell, Dawson Walking Bear, Arex, Leonard McCoy, Spock.

Sulu stood up; he’d obviously had two much sake. Bailey and Garrovick tried to pull him away, but he shook them off. "Here’s to the new kid on the block." And, of course, the ubiquitous odd laughter: "Ah-ah-ah-ah. Are you sure you can handle living up to the standard I’ve set?"

The room was suddenly silent. Everyone uncomfortably shifted from foot to foot (or in Arex’s case, foot to foot to foot), tending their drinks, ignoring the Excelsior captain’s failed attempt at levity. Bailey and Garrovick managed to get Sulu taken aside, but the damage had already been done.

Chekov had to live up to the standard set by Captain Kirk, Captain Pike, Captain April, and yes, even by Captain Sulu. He needed no reminder of that. But who in hell does Sulu think he is? James T. Kirk himself? He gritted his teeth and flushed a deep shade of crimson.

The tenable quiet was finally broken up by Doctor McCoy. "Will someone pour me another drink, damn it?"

There were a few chuckles, and the conversations around the observation deck resumed, but Chekov still seethed with barely controlled fury.

McCoy walked up behind the new captain and placed a supportive hand on his shoulder. "Just be yourself, Pavel. You’ll do fine."

One time bomb defused, the doctor made his way to Hikaru Sulu. Taking the Excelsior’s captain aside, he softly snapped, "Kinda full of yourself, ain’t ya, boy?"

"Whatever do you mean, Doctor?" Sulu was honestly puzzled.

Spock cleared his throat, and all eyes turned on the Vulcan. "I, too, wish Captain Chekov success as a starship commander. However, I would also like to announce my retirement from Starfleet, effective immediately. I will be assuming a role as an ambassador for the Federation tomorrow morning. Good evening." And the Vulcan left a room full of stunned starship captains and a retired medical officer.

"Leave it to a Vulcan to kill a party every time," mumbled McCoy as he poured himself another drink.

December 7th 2294

Chekov sat in his ready room, a large office adjacent to the bridge of the Excelsior-class starship. He had been going through crew and officer lists the past two days, and had picked several good candidates for various positions.

For his chief security officer, he had selected Lieutenant Ch’terr. The Skorr had served with distinction aboard the scoutship U.S.S. Hercules as a security squad commander. The Herc had seen quite a bit of action with the Kzinti, and Ch’terr had proven himself excellent at keeping himself and his squad alive.

His new chief navigator was an Illyran named Escri. Illyrans were a quiet people, literally. They had subsonic speech which required the use of a voder to augment their voices for Human ears. Their own ears were quite large for a humanoid species, and curled backwards along their bulbous, bald heads. Lieutenant j.g. Escri had served aboard the Hathaway, one of the new Constellation-class ships, but had few notations on his record. Illyrans were a rather gullible race—Harcourt Fenton Mudd had once sold their government Starfleet Academy—but they were also intellectual giants. Multi-dimensional space-time coordinate systems were taught in elementary schools on their planet. Chekov hoped Escri would quickly prove himself as an outstanding navigator.

For his chief helm officer, he had retained Ensign Demora Sulu. While he had expected a fight with Admiral Po, he had already cleared the posting with Commander-Starfleet Davis. He was Demora’s godfather, and while that might cause some strain, what little he’d seen of her in action against the energy ribbon had convinced him she would make a fine officer.

The position of chief medical officer was an easy one to fill. He’d made one vidcall to Doctor Christine Chapel, and the physician had leaped at the chance, even though this was her first time in space in over a decade. Her last starhours had been logged when she’d considered a position aboard the escort ship Anwar Sadat. Apparently, Chapel had made herself invaluable to Starfleet Medical as the director of operations, and getting Surgeon General M’Benga to let go of her had been difficult. However, Chekov and Starfleet’s chief physician had both served together aboard the Enterprise during Captain Kirk’s first and second five-year missions, and so the decision was made to re-certify her for space duty and post her to the new Enterprise. She had brought along as her assistant chief medical officer Doctor Justin Weller, who, coincidentally, had treated Chekov for burns when his weapons station had overloaded during the V’ger Crisis.

His chief engineering officer was a difficult decision; he had wanted Commander Terrence Gabler, once assistant chief engineer of the Enterprise, but Admiral Po had rejected his request. Gabler was to be promoted to Captain of Engineering for the U.S.S. Shiloh, a new Excelsior-class starship in search of a captain and crew. He had thought of Commander Jonathan Berkeley, who had served aboard the Enterprise as a transporter chief during the first five year mission, but had rejected him. The man simply was a know-it-all who often times knew-it-not. He never kept up to date on new designs or new specs, and frankly, that was too troubling for Chekov.

Chekov finally decided on Lieutenant Commander Sar 7, a tall, blond-haired man from Eminiar VII. Since the treaty between the Vendikans and Eminians had been so successful, Starfleet had had a number of them serving throughout Starfleet. Sar’s father had been the assistant of Anan 7, leader of the High Council of Eminiar VII. Chekov had been aboard the Enterprise as a engineer-in-training during the peace mission to that troubled world, but he had never met any of the planet’s inhabitants. Sar 7 had been in Starfleet for over eight years, and had several commendations for new design implementation. He would, no doubt, make an excellent addition to the crew.

For science officer, Lieutenant Rathan, a Vulcan male, had been one of James Kirk’s students. The young Vulcan was all-Vulcan, and had a satisfactory record. The only blot on his record stemmed from his failure to offer alternatives, opinions or hypotheses in a crucial situation during a battle between the corvette Mugato and a Tholian attack cruiser. When asked by his captain for input, the young Vulcan had been unable to suggest any course of action. The captain of the Mugato, Lieutenant Commander Lesotho, suggested it was as though the Vulcan had been paralyzed by his fears. A ridiculous notion, snorted Chekov. Vulcans are literally incapable of fear.

Finally, came two positions: his executive officer and his chief communications officer. For that, there was one choice available, and convincing her would take quite a bit of effort. He posted his requests to Admiral Po’s office and left the captain’s ready room.

He entered the bridge from the rear, and someone called out, "Captain on the bridge."

"Commander Elliot?"

Now overseeing the repairs and installations aboard the Enterprise, the engineer grunted from underneath the library-computer station. "Sir?"

"I’m be off-ship for the next few hours, Rufus. Can you handle things here?"

"Well, the duotronic voice interface is acting hinky, so I won’t be going anywhere any time soon." He chuckled. "Going down Earthside?"

"I have to go visit an old friend."

The short, black man smiled, suddenly wiser than both their years combined. "Say hello for me, will you?"

"Maybe you can tell her in person."


It was a beautiful winter day in Atlanta. Although the slight breeze was chilly, the sun was shining brightly. School children came and went about the monument and its accompanying museum.

Commander Upenda Nyota Uhura stood before the monument and reflected upon it. Martin Luther King Jr. was a man who devoted his life to the fight for full citizenship rights of the poor, disadvantaged, and racially oppressed in the old United States. One of Earth’s greatest civil rights leaders—if not the greatest of them—his life was snuffed out by an assassin's bullet. She sighed. So many of the galaxy’s greatest civil rights leaders throughout history had been felled by assassins: King, Gandhi, Surak. The list was longer than she cared to remember.

But King’s dream was now reality. Instead of a state, the whole world had been transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice. Instead of a nation, it was the whole Federation where no one was judged by the color of their skin, the shapes of their ears, the number of their limbs; instead each person was judged by the content of their character.

Tears flowed freely from her eyes.

"Have I picked a bad time?"

The strongly-accented voice was familiar, and she turned with a start, dabbing a tissue at her eyes. "No, Pavel, not a bad time. A wonderful time."

"Then why the tears of sadness?"

"They’re tears of joy," she murmured as she turned back to the monument. "Of a dream fulfilled."

"And to think it only took a hundred years after his death..."

She smiled, shaking her head slowly. "Russian fatalism."

Chekov cocked his head. "How about a different dream today?"

"Depends. Whose?"

"Oh, Robert Goddard’s, Werner von Braun’s, James T. Kirk’s...mine...yours..."

Her eyes narrowed. "I told Bill Smillie that I’d kick the teeth out of the next starship commander in search of an ‘experienced’ communications officer."

"Then it is a good thing I am not looking for a communications officer."

Her eyes got even narrower. "Then what are you looking for, Pav?"

"Well, I’ve been looking for a good woman ever since Gretchen left," he joked lamely.

Uhura chuckled softly. "Are you telling me that in the three years since Jaeger divorced you, you haven’t gotten—"

"Uhura, please!" Chekov rolled his eyes.

"Please what?" She batted her eyelashes innocently.

"Will you please be my executive officer aboard the new Enterprise?"

She choked. Coughed a bit. Gasped for a second, then tilted her head askew. "Are you serious? You’re asking me to be your exec?"

"Yes," Chekov agreed with a big grin, obviously pleased with himself. "Oh...and maybe my communications officer, if I can ask that without fear for my teeth."

Uhura was already shaking her head. "I’m flattered, Pavel, but I can’t. Other than that brief stint as a commanding officer of an escort ship, I’ve had no other experience. Besides, Starfleet would never approve it; I haven’t even been a second or third officer."

"As Mister Spock always says..." he began.

"...there is a first time for everything," they finished together.

She crossed her arms and strode back to face the monument. "Pavel, you know I’ve been in the classroom at Starfleet Academy since the Enterprise was decommissioned. I haven’t logged a single starhour in over a year." She shook her head. "I’m fifty-four years old. I’ve put in thirty-two years of my life into the service. Starfleet feels I am more than qualified to serve as a communications instructor at Starfleet Academy."

"Uhura, you are more than qualified to serve as my executive...or anyone else’s for that matter. Hell, you’re more than qualified to serve as a starship commander." He beseeched her: "I need someone who can step in when I’m not there, who won’t be afraid of offering her opinions whether asked or not, whom I can trust. I need you, Penda."

"I don’t know, Pavel. I doubt I’d be your best choice for the job."

"I’m the captain, and you’re my choice." He smiled. "And as Kyptin Kirk told us many times, the kyptin is always right."

She laughed but was unconvinced.

"Walk with me," Chekov said. They left the monument and museum behind, not talking, just contemplating what had been said. Stepping up to a transporter kiosk, Chekov showed the operator his ID, handed him a disk, and stepped up on the platform. Uhura followed behind him. "Where are we going, Chekov?"

"Home." He nodded to the technician.

"Home?" she repeated as they dematerialized.

"Home," he answered as they rematerialized. "Welcome aboard the United Star Ship Enterprise, NCC–1701–B. It’s seven-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no one has gone before."

She raised an eyebrow and looked around the room. "Show me, Pavel."

"Right this way, Number One."

"I haven’t agreed to that."



"So, Penda?" Chekov offered her a glass of pineapple juice, her favorite. "What do you think?

Sitting on the fabric-covered sofa, she turned from the three-portal view of Earth to study the tactical starmap behind his desk. Earth’s position was clearly marked in the center. Left of the starmap was a door, presumably to the head, and right of the starmap was a food and beverage dispenser. On the left side of the spacious room was a painting of a Soyuz space capsule in orbit. She smiled. Chekov and his clearly unmatched sense of Russian patriotism. Opposite her was a door which led to the main bridge of the Enterprise-B. Surrounding the door on both sides and extending to the walls were shelves filled with books. That was something of which she was very proud. Captain Kirk had instilled a love of books in all his senior officers. "It’s a beautiful office, Chekov. It’s a beautiful ship." She took the pineapple juice.

"I know that, Uhura. What about my offer?"

She knew what her answer would be, but she wanted him to sweat it. Just a little. "What offer?"

"Will you be my exec?"


"Uhura!" he groaned in exasperation. "You know I don’t like this kind of game!"

She answered him with a big grin. "Yes, Captain."

"Yes, what? Yes, you know I don’t like this kind of game, or yes, I will be your exec?!"

She laughed. "Yes to both, and may God have mercy on us all."

There was a knock at the door.

"Enter," called Chekov, and Leonard McCoy walked in.

"Leonard!" Uhura leaped up to give him a hug.

"Well, well, well. What are you two conspiring about?" asked the doctor.

Chekov was grinning broadly. "Doctor McCoy, allow me to introduce you to my first officer, Commander Uhura."

"Well I’ll be damned!" The physician beamed ear to ear and extended a hand. "Congratulations, darlin’. I think this is a terrific idea. Hell, I’d do it myself...if I weren’t a young man with a younger wife and lots of kids."

"Retirement agrees with you, Leonard," remarked the Bantu woman. "I’ve never seen you this happy."

A brief shadow passed across McCoy’s face, and grief threatened to overwhelm him. "I just wish Jim had been here..." He swallowed deeply. "I’m sorry. It’s...this is just going to have to take some getting used to." He forced a weak grin. "Let’s go to dinner. I called Joanna, and she’s got supper on the table waiting for us."

Chekov declined. "I’m going to have to pass on dinner, Doctor. I’ve got a meeting with Admiral Po in Personnel at oh-five thirty hours, and another meeting with Admiral Innys of Public Relations at oh-eight hundred. I’m going to have to work until late getting my reports in order."

"That’s understandable, son. Just don’t overdo it, okay? So, what about you, Uhura? Care for some barbecued chicken?"

"I’d be delighted. I haven’t seen your daughter and her family since your wedding."

"Then let’s go and leave the new captain to his paperwork."

Chekov shooed them out the door. "Go have a good time, you two. Uhura, let me see you back here at thirteen hundred tomorrow."

"Yes, sir," she made her way to the door.

"Good night, son."

"Good night, Doctor."

As his two friends left, he glanced at the padd and the stack of reports on his deck and groaned.

December 8th 2294

Admiral Liann Po sat at her desk, reading her notes and studiously ignoring Captain Chekov who stood at ease before her. Chekov was used to this sort of treatment from some former fellow officers. Po had served as the Enterprise’s personnel officer during the first five year mission. The last time he saw her was prior to the Kelvan War of 2287; she’d been a captain then, and somewhat more approachable, but that was while Admiral Kiem had been in charge. Now, Liann Po was in charge, and she obviously relished wielding her power to make people wait. Especially starship captains...

After ten minutes, she looked up from her paperwork. "Well, now, Pavel Andreievich Chekov, captain of the U.S.S. Enterprise, all of your senior officer requests have been approved. Your officers have already been sent their orders; they should be reporting to the Enterprise by day’s end."

"Excellent, Admiral. But you could have sent word to me aboard the Enterprise. Why call me down here?"

"Because there’s going to be one additional officer assigned to your staff. This officer has served Starfleet as a lieutenant since graduating from the Academy in ’83, but she’s been a rather...difficult person to place. In fact, she became available this morning when her ship commander ordered her off his ship. Permanently, I’m afraid."

Liann Po met Chekov’s eyes. "Pavel, you and I go all the way back to the Enterprise. I will give you my utmost word that this officer has as much talent as James T. Kirk had. But she’s so head-strong that no captain has been able to tolerate her."

"Admiral...Liann, you need to tell me what’s going on. You’re making it sound like I’m getting some sort of...well, albatross."

She chuckled at the thought. "Not hardly. Just one head-strong half-Vulcan half-Romulan officer who will make an excellent tactical officer."

"Saavik? She’s the one you’re talking about?"

Po nodded. "When did you last see her?"

"More than half a dozen years ago, on Vulcan. She remained behind as we made our voyage home in the Klingon Bird of Prey Kr’anya."

"She was a liaison officer for our Starfleet representative there until serving during the Kelvan War as a corvette commander, like so many officers such as yourself and Captain Sulu. After the War, she was assigned to the U.S.S. Hathaway as its exec under Captain Paul Freeman. She lasted six months, then was assigned to a number of ships in various positions: tactical officer, navigator, helm officer, science officer, security chief. She even did a stint as assistant chief engineer. Unfortunately, she’s never lasted more than eighteen months with any commander."

"Who dropped her off this time?"

"Captain Opatashu of the Coral Sea. She told him he was incompetent."

"Is he?"

Po smiled. "Not so incompetent that he can’t recognize insubordination. I’ll give you the bottom line, Pavel: This is her last chance in Starfleet. You bounce her, and it’s over. Starfleet has simply invested enough time and money in our young lieutenant commander, and it’s high time we get some return on that investment. I want you to make her your second officer. You had the best groom you. Let’s see if you can do as good of a job with her."

"Yes, ma’am." Chekov nodded. "Take care, Liann. Good seeing you."

"Good seeing you, too, Pavel. And you’re the one who needs to take care. You’re the one going off into the interstellar wilderness. And Pavel, warp speed."


Admiral Innys folded his hands on the desk and studied the man across from his desk with a neutral expression. "As I am sure you are aware, Captain Chekov, Starfleet has been having a great deal of difficulty with the media over the entire mess with the Enterprise-B.".

Chekov realized that there were just the two of them in his office—no one else to witness, no recorders going, no yeoman taking notes.

"Indeed, Admiral," Chekov agreed. "I do view the newscasts on occasion."

"Good. Then you’ve no doubt seen them raking us over the coals about how ill-prepared the Enterprise was during its initial cruise around the solar system."

"And over the death of John Harriman," the captain added boldly. "And how, with his death, the investigation into the matter has...come to an abrupt conclusion."

"Be that as it may, in a move to pacify their criticisms—"

"Justifiable criticisms, Admiral," Chekov interjected.

Innys stopped speaking briefly, then continued, "Starfleet has agreed to place a reporter aboard the Enterprise for the first six months of its seven year mission. We’ve decided that the observer will be from Intergalactic News, namely Willis O’Brien. Brad Bashaw’s newsnet is probably the galaxy’s most objective when it comes to Starfleet."

"That is not saying much, Admiral."

"Considering what Linda Crosby and the rest of them are saying on FNN, it’s all a matter of perspective."

"Sir, I realize that Starfleet’s public image has taken a beating lately, but this might be reckless. To place a civilian aboard a starship on active duty—"

The side doors to Innys’ office swung open, and in strolled Commander-Starfleet Lystra Davis, with Intergalactic News Service chairman Brad Bashaw, three remote, antigrav holovid recorders and Willis O’Brien, whom Chekov had last seen during the Enterprise-B’s encounter with the energy ribbon.

"We now see Admiral Innys of Starfleet Public Relations issuing orders to Captain Chekov regarding the presence of this reporter aboard his starship," reported O’Brien. "Any comment, sir?"

Chekov smiled politely. "I look forward to having you aboard the Enterprise, Mister O’Brien."

"As do we all," added Lystra Davis.

"This is a tremendous opportunity for the public to see what actually goes on during a starship cruise," commented Bashaw, looking directly at the holovid floating near him.

"Your response, Captain Chekov?" asked O’Brien.

Chekov had served with Admiral Innys in Public Relations long enough to know how to play the game well. "I think the people of the Federation will gain greater insights into the reasons for the need for Starfleet and its starships. I look forward to our first mission." He gave a rather large smile at the holocam.

"Now," Davis looked approvingly at Chekov, "if you’ll come this way, Mister Bashaw, we’ll take you to Starfleet Operations and let you and your viewers get a first hand look at the nerve center for Starfleet." Like a mother duck, Davis guided her entourage back through the double doors on the side. On her way out, she gave a thumbs-up to Chekov and Innys.

Once the media and the commanding admiral were out of his office, Innys spoke softly. "I apologize for railroading you into this, Captain Chekov, but it’s really for the good of the service."

"It probably is, Admiral." Chekov made his way to the front door. He stopped short and turned. "I can’t but this the same line you used on Harriman to get him to take the Enterprise out before she was ready?"

The guilty look on Innys’ face was all the confirmation the captain needed.

Chekov exited in damning silence.


Uhura and Chekov sat next to the broad windows of the forward observation deck. They could see little more than the structural arms of the SpaceDock, but the captain always preferred the view of space. He had since he was a small boy in Leningrad when he’d spent hours on the warm summer nights staring into the depths of space. There was something tranquil, something assuring about it.

Unless, of course, Uhura was stealing your french fries while you were stargazing.

He slapped her hand playfully. "Hey, get your own."

She smiled. "I’m on a diet. I’ll just have a few of yours. Besides," her eyes twinkled, "you could stand to lose a few pounds yourself."

Chekov looked at his Rueben, fries and vanilla soda and knew that once his new chief medical officer was aboard, she’d be cutting back on this sort of meal. He looked at Uhura’s drink: some sort of fruit puree concoction and a small Caesar salad.

Uhura reached again for his fries, and he snatched them from her fingers. "Look, I’m going to enjoy this last meal before the doctor beams aboard and puts me on a diet. Why don’t you do the same?"

"Are you saying I need to diet?" She was incredulous. "I can’t believe it. Jeez, Pavel, that was uncalled for."

Chastised, the captain began formulating an apology when again she made a move, this time for the Rueben itself. "I think not, Number One," he chided, beating her to the sandwich.

"Excuse me, Captain," came a voice from over his shoulder, and they both jumped with a slight start. Uhura chuckled, and Chekov turned around to see a tall, stout Rigelian in a yeoman’s jumpsuit.

"Uh, yes, Yeoman?" the captain answered, keeping a wary eye on his executive officer.

"Sub-space message for you from the Alliance." Despite a similar body chemistry to the Vulcans, Rigelians were descended from a race of saber-toothed turtles that learned to walk upright about the same time Humans came down from the trees. Though their race was unisexual, Rigelians preferred to be thought of as females since all were egg-layers. She extended a padd to Chekov.

"Thank you, Yeoman," he accepted the padd, glanced at the sender’s ID, and promptly deleted it. "Here you go," the captain said, handing it back to the Rigelian.

The Rigelian brought its claws forward in supplication. "We serve," she said, backing away.

The captain shook his head in mild amusement. Rigelian society was ostensibly monarchical, but the real political power of the planet belonged to the attendants who served, fed, and cared for them. As a result, many Rigelians who joined Starfleet served as yeomen, attachés, adjutants or support personnel with no plans for advancement. As Spock often said, ‘Each to his own, as to his gifts.’

Chekov turned back to Uhura who was finishing his last two french fries in one gulp. He drew his face up tightly. "That was not fair," he mumbled.

"Neither is life, Pavel. So, who was the message from?"

"Gretchen," he answered.

Her face clouded with anger, and she kicked him under the table.

"Hey! What was that for?"

"I like her. Remember?"

"So you’ve said many times, but she left me, if you will recall?"

"What is this?" came another voice from over his shoulder.

Chekov knew it was over. That voice could only belong to one person: his new chief medical officer...

"Christine!" greeted Uhura ebulliently. "I’m so glad to see you!" She gestured to Chekov. "I tried to stop him; I told him that the Rueben and french fries would land him in all kinds of trouble with his—"

"You tried to tell me?" Chekov protested. "Who ate my fries?"

She looked at him very sternly. "I...I did it to save you from yourself."

"Save me from myself? Who’s going to save you?"

"Actually, the right question is who is going to save the both of you." Chapel pulled up a chair. "Physicals at oh-nine hundred tomorrow."

"" Chekov muttered as he took a bite of his Rueben.

Chapel frowned deeply. "I’ll be having your diet card changed then, Captain. I suggest you enjoy yourself."

"Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow you may die," chuckled the executive officer.

"I know this proverb; it is an ancient Russian one. However, the correct phrase is ‘tomorrow you will die.’"

"Or at least wish for death after thirty minutes on the treadmill," amended the new chief medical officer. "So, now that we’ve gotten the formalities out of the way, how have you two been doing?"

"I have been busy," answered Chekov.

"I have not," answered Uhura.

Chapel rolled her eyes. "I can’t believe I’ve agreed to do this," she put her head down on the table.

"Neither can I," admitted Uhura.

"I can’t believe I’ve ever done anything else," remarked the captain of the Enterprise. He stood and finished off the vanilla soda. "If you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to check on Commander Elliot’s work on the bridge. It’s supposed to be finished by this afternoon."

He placed his tray in the recycle bin and left the forward observation deck with a vigor that neither Chapel nor Uhura could recall seeing in him in years.

December 9th 2294

"Just a few moments more," ordered Chapel.

Uhura rolled her eyes. "You are enjoying this far too much, Christine."

"Make it five. You’re procrastinating."

Sighing, Uhura leaned back on the bio bed, her feet on the pedals, and started the exercise.

"Good, keep it up. Work does the body good."

Chekov tried to hide his amusement without much success. They’d been here for fifteen minutes. Chekov had already had his turn on the stationary bike and had actually surprised his chief medical officer by doing the entire ten minutes without complaint.

Now that it was Uhura’s turn, he could relax.

"Stop laughing, Captain. Wait until you see your diet card. A Vulcan will eat more meat than you for the next six months."

"But Vulcans are vegetarians," Chekov argued.

Chapel raised an eyebrow. "And your point is?"

"Bozhe moi," muttered the captain.

A gasping Uhura lay on the table, plainly exhausted from the workout. "Will someone please shoot me?"

Chapel turned her attention from the captain to his executive officer. "Well, well, well."

"Hey, at least my weight is within the guidelines for someone my height. Unlike someone else we know..."

"Come on, Captain. One more thing, and we can get you out of here by nine-thirty hours."

"Okay, what’s next?"

"Something painless. A body scan." She gestured to the scanning bed.

With a sigh, Chekov stood and lay down on the bed. "What’s this for?"

Chapel started the device. "It’s a complete diagnostic tool. Right now, we’re recording your present body scan and comparing it with your last scan. In three months, we’ll compare the two. Also, we’ll be able to detect foreign bodies, bacterial infections, even alien mind-control implants," she chuckled, "just by scanning you."

"I’d like a serious answer, Doctor," Chekov said curtly.

Chapel blinked in surprise, and then she realized that perhaps she had overstepped her bounds. Being overly familiar with one’s captain was not good for a chief medical officer’s business. She was supposed to serve as his confidante, a trusted advisor, not as someone who teased, even if in jest. "I’m sorry, sir. As I stated, the body scan is used as a diagnostic tool. By comparing your base scans, this device can warn me of bacterial and viral infections, foreign bodies, unprecedented tissue growth, such as a tumor or even cancer."

"Thank you, Doctor."

Uhura watched the exchange with worry and realized that she, too, might have overstepped her bounds with Chekov. She looked down at her feet, wondering if she’d also upset him yesterday.

Chapel continued her medical examination in a totally professional manner.


Uhura adjusted her jacket strap, and turned to her captain.

Chekov had been quiet all morning. Now, here they were, in the forward observation deck, watching the heavy, exterior doors of SpaceDock open. The port gates slid aside, and the Excelsior began creeping forward.

"Excelsior is cleared to depart," came the voice of SpaceDock Port Authority. Chekov had set the speakers to relay pre-flight transmissions; there was nothing like watching a starship leave SpaceDock.

"This is Excelsior. Acknowledged, Port Authority. Thrusters ahead on full." Sulu’s voice was strong and steady.

Chekov tilted his head slightly upward. "Communications, send to the Excelsior: ‘Warp speed, old friend.’"

"Aye, sir," came the filtered voice of a communications officer. "Message sent and acknowledged."

Chekov nodded in approval. Suddenly, he realized that he was the subject of his executive officer’s intense scrutiny. He turned to meet her gaze. "Something, Number One?"

"Captain...I hope I haven’t overstepped my bounds with you."

Chekov shook his head slightly. "No, Penda. You haven’t. I probably came across like a real ass in Sickbay. I owe Christine an apology."

"I don’t think you do, Captain. I think..." She struggled to find the right way to phrase her observation. "I think there’s a fine line that one has to draw when one is the commanding officer of one’s friends."

He turned back to watch the Excelsior clear the space doors which began to close after its exit. "I think that it’s a line that has to be constantly drawn and redrawn. Can I be honest with you?"

"Always, Captain."

He smiled. "When it’s just you and me, I prefer Pavel. When I first came aboard the Enterprise nearly thirty years ago, you took me under your wing. We’ve been friends ever since. It’s a friendship I appreciate." He met her eyes again. "But there are going to be some things I won’t, no, that I cannot tolerate as the commanding officer of the Enterprise-B."

"Agreed," said Uhura. "And there are going to be some places where our friendship is not to be an issue. That includes the bridge, of course. And landing party duty assignments. And anywhere else that the command structure is needed."

"Agreed, Number One." He chuckled. "This might not be easy for either of us at first, Uhura. But I think we’ve established a tentative working agreement."

She nodded. "So, have you decided to go visit your parents and say goodbye?"

"I’ve actually planned to do it tomorrow morning."

"Glad to hear it."

He glanced at his wrist chrono. "But now, we’ve got another duty to attend."


Chekov strode into the briefing room, with Uhura right behind him. Together, they faced their first staff meeting.

Seated at the large, oblong table were his new command staff: Doctors Chapel and Weller, Lieutenant Commanders Saavik and Sar 7, Lieutenants Ch’terr and Rathan, Lieutenant j.g. Escri, and Ensign Demora Sulu. All heads perked up a bit as Chekov sat down at the head of the table while Uhura seated herself at his immediate right.

Floating in the corner of the room was a small holovid cam that everyone studiously ignored.

"Welcome aboard the United Star Ship Enterprise. Our seven-year mission: deep space exploration. I suspect that we won’t be in this part of the galaxy very often, so anyone wishing reassignment better take it up with me before departure time in two days." He looked around the table and was pleased by the eagerness he saw in every face there except two: the Vulcanoids. "I want to tell you that each of you has been chosen based on your record. We’re a top-heavy command crew, with more than half of you ranked at lieutenant commander or higher. However, we’ve got a lot of greenhorns in the crew. This is the first mission for over seventy-percent of our crew of 610. Of the remaining thirty-percent, this is only the second ship assignment for almost all of them. In fact, only the transporter chief, an astronomer and one security guard have had three assignments, and only a few of us sitting here have more. Most of you have had less. In fact, this is Ensign Sulu’s first deep space assignment, Lieutenants Escri, Ch’terr and Rathan’s second, and Lieutenant Commanders Weller and Sar 7’s third.

"This lack of experience might be regarded by some as a weakness in our crew. I, however, see it as a strength." He smiled. "We’re going out where no one has gone before, and I’m glad that we won’t be bringing along any preconceptions about what we’ll find out there. I am looking forward to our next seven years together."

The doors opened, and in strode a Human male, accompanied by another floating holovid cam.

Chekov continued speaking, "Joining us on this epic mission will be a reporter from Intergalactic News Service, Willis O’Brien." He stood and turned to face the young man, extending his hand. "Welcome aboard the Enterprise, Mister O’Brien."

O’Brien accepted the hand and shook it. "I’m very grateful for the opportunity that this presents INS and our audience."

"Please, be seated." Chekov gestured to the final empty chair. As O’Brien made his way there, the Enterprise captain continued speaking. "Mister O’Brien is to be extended every hospitality aboard this vessel. In an unprecedented move, Commander-Starfleet Davis has ordered me to give him complete run of the ship. His security clearances have checked out completely, and I’ve been assured by Brad Bashaw himself that Mister O’Brien will comport himself as a proper journalist at all times. He will not be interfering with our mission, nor will he trespass into secure areas of this ship. Should Mister O’Brien violate the terms and conditions of his presence, he will be dropped off at the nearest starbase or Federation world. Anything you care to add, Mister O’Brien?"

The reporter spoke up. "Let me assure you that I look forward to our time together and that I will be more than willing to work under the terms and conditions agreed upon by our network and the public relations department of Starfleet. I am to be the public’s eye on this ship, a duty I am honor-bound to respect. I would like the opportunity to interview each of you at some point but will understand if you wish me to respect your privacy."

"Well, that concludes all our introductions, let’s get started."

Chekov nodded to Uhura, and a graphic appeared on the wall monitor. "This is the galaxy as we know it. Here is the Federation, right in the middle of the Orion Arm, divided along the axis from the center of the galaxy through the Sol system. To the left is the Alpha Quadrant, the most explored section. To the right, is the Beta Quadrant. We’ve made some significant inroads into that area, thanks to the crews of the Excelsior, the Repulse, the Endeavour and the Hood. Our mission is to continue their work. Whereas the Excelsior plotted gaseous anomalies—nebulas, stellar nurseries and such—we’re going to chart new star systems. Whereas the Repulse charted magnetic and gravitic field densities, we’re going to be charting new planets. Whereas the Endeavor and the Hood avoided contact with sentient lifeforms in that region, we’re going to actively seek out those space-faring races, those new civilizations. We truly are going to go where no one has gone before."

He nodded again, Uhura pressed a few keys, and the Tholian Assembly became highlighted. "This is our primary concern."

As expected, there were a few uneasy stirrings in some of those seated at the briefing room table. Chekov continued, "The Tholians have been a thorn in the Federation’s side since their first encounter a few decades ago. Lives have been lost, hundreds of lives, in skirmishes. The Tholians, with their incredibly territorial nature, respond to the slightest incursion into their domain with brute force. With their hive mentality, the Tholians engage in what our social scientists have determined is a swarm, wherein a queen will be forced from the main hive and create her own."

"Is this swarming cyclical?" asked Lieutenant Ch’terr.

"Unknown," admitted Chekov. "We may find out during our explorations there. However, we will not be seeking a confrontation with the Tholians. Mister Escri, we will be steering clear of Tholian Assembly territories, including those territories held in dispute. Like I said, we’re not looking for a confrontation."

"Yes, sir." The voder the Illyran wore sounded too mechanical for Chekov’s tastes.

"And if one comes to us?" asked Ch’terr, his talons flexing, and Uhura shuddered softly.

"We’ll deal with that if that situation should arise, but I’m hoping that Mister Escri will keep us out of trouble in so far as that goes." Chekov looked at his Eminian chief engineer. "Mister Sar, I’d like you to keep a close eye on the engines during this first month. We had a near disaster with them during a repair operation."

The Eminian nodded but said nothing.

"Well, if anyone has anything to add, now would be a good time," suggested the captain.

No one did.

"Then I expect you to meet with your respective department heads and personnel for the rest of the day. I want duty rosters on my padd by fifteen hundred. Dismissed."

The officers and O’Brien left the room quietly, without much discussion. Chekov and Uhura remained behind. "How’d I do?" he asked brightly.

"Pretty good," she grinned, "for a rookie."

The bosun’s whistle sounded. "Incoming message from starship Excelsior," reported one of the communications officers he hadn’t met yet. "Priority urgent and confidential."

Chekov glanced at Uhura. He swung around to look at the monitor. "Put it through."

Commander Janice Rand’s tear-stained visage replaced the graphic of the starmap. "Chekov! Oh, Uhura! You’re there, too. I’ve got bad news. The Klingons have gone and kidnapped Doctor McCoy’s wife and..." She choked back a sob. "...and they killed both his little boys." She cried openly.

Uhura clutched her chest, and Chekov sat down hard in his chair. "God, no..."

Sulu’s face replaced Rand’s on the screen. "Pavel, we’re still en route to Serenidad. We should be arriving early morning on the eleventh. I...I just thought you’d like to know. Sulu out."

Chekov looked at the blackened viewscreen for several minutes, and Uhura wept openly. So much tragedy so recently. The death of James T. Kirk. McCoy’s young children killed by the Klingons. Teresa captured... He sat down beside Uhura, comforting her, trying to hold back the tears, and finding they would come anyway.

They stayed in the briefing room for a long time.

December 10th 2294

Leningrad was frozen over this time of the year. There was snow on the ground, a freezing wind gusting through the streets.

Chekov was home.

The tragedy of Doctor McCoy’s family made it even more important for him to visit his parents...well, his grandmother, at least.

He walked from the transporter station down the nearly deserted streets. Russians were not fools; they knew staying inside was infinitely preferable to braving the weather. Many Russians had taken to having personal transporter sites within their homes, but Andrei Ivanovich Chekov would never do that.

Down another alley, and across an empty street, Pavel Chekov made his way. The cold cut through him like a knife, even though he was wearing a field jacket designed for such inclement climes. He shivered violently.

Was it the cold? Or was it the chill in his heart that was making him shake?

He opened the little gate and moved up the walkway to the small cottage. He knocked on the door and steeled himself for the mental and verbal assault he knew would be coming.

The door swung open, and Andrei Ivanovich Chekov smirked at his son. "Well, if it isn’t the mighty Starfleet bus driver come to visit his parents..."

Pavel Chekov said nothing. To say something, to say anything, would be to invite a verbal attack.

"Come inside, you dolt. You’re letting the heat out," grunted Andrei, and Pavel entered his family’s abode of strife.

"Pavel Andreievich!" called his mother, and she came running from the kitchen to greet him. "Oh, we are so glad you could come."

"Hello, Mother. It is good to see you." Pavel hugged his mother, Lenka. "I have missed you."

"And I, you."

"Come sit down by the fire and tell us all about driving that space bus," Andrei taunted.

"I would not liken a starship to a bus, Father, and I am no longer the navigator. I am captain of the Enterprise."

"Phah! A waste of good resources and funds. They should put the funding into the arts; that has more relevance on my life than what you do."

"What I do and what I have done is save this planet from destruction on more than one occasion," Pavel argued and then instantly wished he hadn’t.

"Phhtttt. And aren’t you full of yourself?" Andrei sat down in his lounger by the fire, his 85 years looking like 185 by the firelight. "So, no longer the driver of this space bus. Captain, you say. Huh. Now they don’t even let you drive the bus."

Lenka Chekov sat down on the sofa and said nothing.

"Leave the boy alone," came the raspy voice of Helena Bondarenko. "He’s a hero, and you treat him in this way?" Chekov’s 134-year-old grandmother shuffled into the great room from the hallway, leaning heavily on her cane for support.

"Nana," Pavel rushed to give her a hug. He squeezed her fondly.

"Oooh, careful, Pavel, you might break my hip."

"If he does, at least we will have you out of the house," Andrei grumbled.

Helena slammed her cane against the armrest of his lounger, barely missing his fingers. "This is my house, Andrei Ivanovich. Remember that. Pavel is my guest, and you will treat him with the respect he deserves, or I will ask you to leave."

"Mother," implored Lenka.

Helena shuffled around to face her daughter. "What, Lenka? Can’t an old woman say what she will in her own house?"

Andrei laughed. "And what could stop you? You old yenta. What could possibly stop you from interfering in my family’s business?" He snorted. "And what could stand between you and this good-for-nothing son of mine? Always chasing his dreams, never having his head here on Earth, his mind always elsewhere...amidst the stars, no doubt. And Starfleet...what a waste of time and money."

Helena turned to Pavel who stood there, taking the abuse wordlessly. "Ignore the old goat, Pavel." She tweaked her grandson’s cheek. "Let’s go for a walk," she suggested.

"Nana, it’s only eighteen degrees outside."

"That’s far warmer than it is in here. Wouldn’t you agree, Lenka?"

Chekov’s mother stared at the dishrag she held in her hand, kneading it with her fingers. "I’ve made your favorite, Pavel: kreplach."

"He’s coming for a walk with me, and we’ll be back in five minutes," Helena insisted. "Get me my coat," she ordered.

Both Pavel and Lenka helped dress Helena in a large parka. "Let’s go, Pavel. Take my hand."

Lenka opened the door and closed it behind them as they made their way outside.

Chekov and his grandmother could see quite clearly. With the moonlight reflecting off the ice and snow, the streets were eerily aglow. The almost glass-like faint tinkling of the trees and bushes as the wind blew made for an even more surreal setting. They came to a bench, and Chekov brushed the snow off it. "Well, that could’ve gone better," he remarked casually.

She snorted. "Not so long as your father is alive, Pavel. He is a bitter old fool with no love for Starfleet."

"And with no love for his son," added Chekov.

"With no love for anyone, Pavel," she corrected him. "Not even himself." She looked at her grandson with such warmth that Chekov no longer felt the slightest chill. "I am so, so very proud of you, Pavel. As a girl, I longed to do what you do: travel among the stars."

"You and I share the same dream, Nana."

"Pity you can’t share that starship with me..."

"Who says I can’t?" He reached into his vest and withdrew his communicator. "Chekov to Enterprise. Two to beam up from these coordinates."

"Aye, sir. Locking on."


They rematerialized on the transporter platform in an instant. Chekov helped his grandmother down the steps, and ushered her into the corridor, studiously ignoring the reaction of the transporter technician. They walked down the hall, her weight on his left arm until they came to the forward observation deck. The doors opened, and they entered.

It was early morning on the Enterprise, and the smell of bacon, eggs, cheese grits, waffles, doughnuts, pancakes and coffee bombarded their senses. Chekov directed her to the same table he had shared with Uhura, and they sat down. "Thank you, Pavel," she whispered as she gazed out the window at the blue globe of Earth rotating below.

"I love you, Nana."

"And I love you, too, Pavel. And so does your mother."

"Then why—"

"Why does she put up with your father? I have no idea. I never even understood why she married him. He never has treated her with respect or love." Helena looked around the ship, at the smiling faces of the young officers and crew as they breakfasted. "So young..."

Chekov nodded. "Almost as young as I was, I’m told."

Helena Bondarenko nodded. "I want you to take care of yourself, Pavel. I won’t be here in seven years when you come back. I’ll be dead and buried, probably in some unmarked grave, knowing your father."

He chuckled. "You say that every time I leave, Nana."

"But this time you and I know it’s true. I’m one hundred thirty-four years old. I’ve had a good life. It’s time for me to move on. But promise me one thing."

"Anything, Nana. Anything."

She chuckled. "It won’t be easy, but I want you to stay in touch with that old boor of a father of yours and that pathetic daughter of mine once I’m gone."

"Nana, now—"

"Hear me out, Pavel. They are your family. I’m not saying that you have to cherish what time you have left with them. But spend some time with them. For your mother’s sake."

"My father wants nothing to do with me, and my mother won’t stand up to him."

"Don’t argue with your grandmother. Even if your father doesn’t want you around, she does. Visit them for her... For me. Don’t engage in the ultimate Russian sin: pride, Pavel. Foolish, idiotic pride."

"Yes, Nana. Would you like to see the bridge now? Or the engine room?"

She suddenly looked very, very tired. She pretended to look at her watch. "Oh, damn, it’s getting near my bedtime. Take me home, Captain."

Chekov walked her down the corridor to the transporter room. "Yes, Nana."


"Lieutenant Commander Saavik, reporting as ordered, sir."

It was the first time she’d spoken to him since reporting aboard. In fact, she’d arrived with little fanfare, gone to her assigned quarters and stayed there until the briefing. She’d met extensively with the tactical and security staff, but to him there had been no greetings, no hellos, no how-are-yous. It had Chekov a little bothered, but, after all, he and she had never been close. Now, she stood here at attention in his ready room, and only because he had summoned her.

"Thank you, Mister Saavik. At ease."

She shifted smoothly into a parade rest, and he regarded her carefully. "Saavik, are you aware of why you are aboard this ship?"

"Yes, sir. I was insubordinate to Captain Opatashu."

"Well, at least you know from whence the axe fell..." He stood and walked around his desk to lean against it. "You have been stationed here because Admiral Po has decided to give you one last chance. Blow this one, and you’ll be mopping floors at Starfleet Academy. There will be no second chance aboard my ship."

"Understood, sir. Will there be anything else?"

Chekov had expected her to open up to him, at least a little. He was sadly disappointed. "No, Commander. Dismissed."

Wordlessly, she exited his ready room.

Click here to continue to Part 2