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Randall Landers


January 7th 2295
U.S.S. Enterprise, NCC-1701-B

Pavel Andreievich Chekov hated reports. He hated reading them, he hated filing them, he hated ordering them, but above all, he hated writing them. He was trying to write a report critical of the new warp drive chart instituted, but he was having a difficult time with this one. He wasn’t sure if his criticisms stemmed from practicality or from obstinacy. It was hard enough using a warp scale that had a variable base. Now, it had a built in logarithmic function as well. He shook his head. He remembered the ‘good old days’ when a ship’s warp factor was based on a cubic progression of the speed of light.

The bosun’s whistle sounded in his ear. "Captain Chekov, incoming CommPic message from Earth."

Chekov thumbed the switch. "This is the captain. Transfer the message to my ready room." He turned his chair to face the wall-mounted screen.

The graphic display of the Enterprise’s current patrol route along the Romulan Neutral Zone was replaced with a haggard visage. "Pavel Andreievich," the old Human male spoke.

"Piotr Ivanovich," Chekov replied with a broad smile. "How are you, Uncle?"

"I am well, but I must get straight to the point."

Chekov’s face fell. "Oh, bozhe moi. It’s Nana, isn’t it?" He knew it had to be bad news about his grandmother. She was 134 years old, in frail condition, and Russian winters were hardest on the elderly.

"No, Nephew, it isn’t. It’s your father. He’s dead."

The captain’s jaw dropped. He’d been prepared for Nana’s death since the Enterprise had left Earth orbit. She had told him them she probably would never see him again, and he had actually come to grips with the thought. But his father? The thought had never occurred to him.

"Pavel Andreievich?"

Chekov blinked, startled back to reality. "I’m...I’m sorry, Uncle."

"It is I who is sorry, Nephew. I knew it would be a shock, but..."

"How is my mother, Piotr?"

Piotr Chekov’s eyes narrowed in disapproval. "Always your mother..." He sighed. "But Lenka is a strong woman, Pavel. She will be fine."

"When is my father to be buried?"

"Three days from hence. Your mother has set the day in the expectation that you will be here."

"I cannot. We’re presently engaged in Romulan Neutral Zone patrol duty. I’m three weeks from Earth, not three days." He swallowed. "But I will not be home for seven years, Uncle. My mother—"

"Your mother will be disappointed in you, Pavel Andreievich. But she will forgive you. I, on the other hand, shall not." The connection went blank.

"Bozhe moi." Chekov put his head down in his hands and prayed silently.

The whistle sounded, and he knew who it was. As chief communications officer, she had to have been monitoring the CommPic frequencies. "Come in, Number One."

Commander Nyota Penda Uhura cautiously walked in to the captain’s ready room, stepped to his side, wrapped her arm around him and knelt beside him. "You okay, Pavel?"

Tears brimming at his eyes. "My father did not understand, my uncle does not understand, my family does not understand."

"Your mother will understand, Pavel. So will your grandmother."

Chekov chuckled, his typically Russian sense of humor coming forward. "Nana will be dancing on his grave, no doubt," he said wryly.

"I would like to meet your grandmother, Pavel. She sounds like my kind of gal."

The captain smiled. "Yes, she has more chutzpah than any other person I’ve known. And she always says her mind, regardless of the sensibilities of those around her."

She hugged him tightly. "So, will you be taking a warp shuttle for Earth?"

He shook his head. "I have duties and responsibilities here. We’re not scheduled to return to Earth for seven years, Penda. My family will not understand, regardless if I’m three weeks late or seven years." He gently took her hand and looked into her face. "My duty is clear, Penda. I’ve never wavered from it, and I’m not about to start because of the death of a hateful..." He choked a sob. "...a hateful, old..." Another sob.

She held his hand tightly as he placed his head on her shoulder to cry.

As his body rattled with his almost silent sobs, tears formed in her own eyes. "Shhh, Pavel. It’s all right."

And they sat there together, his face on her shoulder for a long, long time.

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