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Rob Morris

July 15th 2295
U.S.S. Enterprise, NCC-1701-B

Darting into his office, Captain Chekov sealed it against entry. His crew, from Uhura down to Andrews, would never forgive what he was about to do.

"Ahhh, Peter. We’ll have to get you that promotion, after all."

Inside the triple-sealed bag was a very valuable commodity aboard the Enterprise-B. It was the last stash of fresh kettle potato chips, made on July 4th by Saavik and Peter Kirk. They were plain, sadly. The sea salt and vinegar ones were done with, while the coveted russet/cheddar chips had not lasted an hour. But in his greed, Chekov just didn’t care. A hamburger and vanilla cream soda joined the dietary nightmare, and the captain felt complete.

"I am fed; I am happy. Nothing could ruin this moment. I defy the fates to try."

Captains, it is said, should know better than to tempt fate.

The intercom chirped to life. "Captain, this is Doctor Beals. It’s past time for us to go over the crews’ psychological reviews."

Chekov raised and rolled his eyes. "Come up to my office, Doctor."

Within three minutes, she had done just that. Chekov had carefully wiped away all signs of grease. There was no sense in the crew knowing of the captain’s crunchy little secret.

Beals came in, the model of professionalism, and took a seat on the captain’s couch. She looked pointedly at the empty lounger across from the sofa, and Chekov rose from behind his desk and walked around to sit where she obviously wanted him.

She leaned back, her graying blonde hair highlighting her face. She had a strong jaw line, accentuated by her high cheek bones and steel gray eyes. "Where should I begin, Captain? Descending rank?"

Chekov had been dreading this, had in fact been quietly trying to avoid this very moment. "Da. But break it up a bit after Mister Saavik. After her, go by need or noteworthiness."

Sydney Beals likely sensed her captain’s avoidance, and so sought to calm what was likely his greatest fear. "To start: Captain Chekov was forced to demote a member of his senior staff, the daughter of his dearest friend. This was an unpopular choice, made even more so by the subsequent revelation of Demora Sulu’s terminal illness. Despite the feelings of many that she should have been posthumously restored in rank, this decision shows the crew in a positive way that their captain is a consistent man, and firm in his choices. Yet I have heard many times that her illness should have unmade her punishment."

Chekov shook his head. "Obviously, I disagree. Demotion is a standard practice in these cases. We cannot know what was Demora’s own failings and what was the illness. Neither thing would erase her potentially catastrophic mistakes. Nor does it alter the love felt for her by so very many."

Moving on, Doctor Beals tackled the file on the ship’s executive officer. "A new and emerging phenomenon among today’s Federation starships is the professional first officer. As their duties grow and expand, the day is rapidly approaching when the executive officer would have no other task but this. I believe that in the case of Commander Uhura, it would be wise to accelerate this shift, and train a permanent replacement for her on Communications."

Chekov shrugged in near-disbelief. "No way. Penda is the best communications officer in the entire Fleet. She knows that board as few others could hope to. She wants to know that her department is handled properly. She does not want anyone else handling it."

Beals shrugged as well. "Captain, were you not Executive and Chief Security Officer aboard the Reliant?"

Chekov stiffened a bit, to be reminded of that. "Da. So my point is proven. Both jobs were done well, allowing for the intelligence failure about the Ceti Alpha system."

Beals shook her open palm in the air, while still reading her datapadd. "Sir, that rather proves my point. You did do your jobs well. Because a security chief and an executive officer often serve redundant functions. One could even argue that a security chief is a first officer with a very specific assignment."

"That falls a bit short, Doctor."

"Agreed. But the jobs are similar enough and respected enough that they are easily combined. On the other side, though, Comm Chiefs are often looked down upon as having an easy task that they never perform. ‘Hailing frequencies open’ is a joke to some. I’m just saying that my observations of Commander Uhura lead me to believe she needs to be away from that board on a more or less permanent basis."

Chekov sighed. "Again, I disagree. Besides, do you know what Starfleet Personnel would say to me if I asked for a decent communications officer? Liann Po would say, ‘Look next to you, tovarich!’ But I will say that I’ll agree to it if and when Penda comes to me and tells me that she wants it that way. Until she decides otherwise, that matter is closed."

"Yes, of course, Captain."

Chekov breathed in. "Give me your report on Saavik," he chose next a name that was most familiar to him, "and Peter Kirk."

Beals nodded. "Just friends, sir."

Chekov looked up with a startled raised eyebrow. Realizing her faux pas, Sydney Beals grinned rather sheepishly. "Oh, you meant separately, of course!"

"Your report, Doctor?"

She read the file about the ship’s chief tactical officer. "Well, the downward arc her career was on seems to have been entirely arrested. In fact, the only incident I have listed here regards a structural note on another set of reviews. ‘Amended for grammar and other linguistics.’ Odd that she would list her shortcomings in so open a manner."

Chekov fought down laughter. "She is half Vulcan after all."

Perhaps sensing a joke she was not to be made a party to, the doctor continued. "Well, given her past record, she’s one of a handful of people I want to see at least once a month. Will you authorize that?"

"Only grudgingly, Doctor. Ask Mister Ch’terr about the perils of mandatory attendance."

She nodded. "I have. At...some length. He’ll be a while getting over that whole thing."

Chekov said nothing, clearly in complete agreement with her assessment.

Beals reported, "About the only odd thing regarding Lieutenant Kirk, other than the tendency to overwork himself, is the propensity of people on this ship to not use his last name. Almost everyone, from yourself on down, tends to call him ‘Peter’ or ‘Lieutenant.’ This doesn’t so much concern as confuse me."

Chekov smiled, and looked at a picture on his desk. He, Jim Kirk, and Peter were being given medals by Princess Teresa after the Praxis/Gorkon affair.

"On any ship that calls itself Enterprise, Doctor Beals, Kirk is not merely a surname; it is a proper title. I’ve spoken to Peter about this. He understands and accepts that this is a unique situation, perhaps better than anyone else. Tell me, what of his past problems?"

"They are, apropos, in the past. Were I in private practice, I’d never get rich off of him, nowadays. You made the right choice in withholding information about his conviction from the crew. It gives people a chance to know the man before his record."

He nodded. "It’s a chance he did not have at the Academy."

"True. But Captain Chekov, please do not seek to use him again as a surrogate grief counselor. He helped Willis O’Brien a great deal, perhaps even more than I first thought. But to ask a one-time emotional cripple to aid directly in the recovery of others is a very iffy proposition."

Chekov found that even he was surprised by his pattern of dismissal in this meeting. "Nyet. This crew has encountered sizable casualties in the past. It will again, despite our best efforts. I will not restrict myself in the use of a resource like Peter. He knows more of grief than is contained in all your files, Doctor."

Beals seemed to bristle a bit, but kept on with her next subject. "Katya Sorenson seems to have learned her lesson about copping an attitude with superior officers. However, she now seems to specialize in verbally abusing her subordinates. The only friend she has among the crew seems to be Lisa Gatchmeinz, who Mister Sorenson has called an ‘honest slut.’ Two of her subordinates needed to be calmed down before they were brought to see me."

Chekov was smiling. "Who calmed them down, Doctor?"

Beals was not. "A, uh...a young lieutenant in Sciences. I-I can’t think of the name."

Sure you can’t, thought Pavel. "Well, I knew Mister Sorenson bore watching. Still, no intervention is called for at present. We have an old saying in Russia. When the tax collector is not about his job, he is your comrade. When he is about his job, he is a filthy Cossack. Let the complaints about Katya Sorenson filter out from those who just aren’t used to her, and those with a legitimate gripe."

Beals muttered something as she accessed the next file. "As to Ensign Gatchmeinz herself, she is tired of being labeled as loose or easy. However, she seems unwilling to alter the behavior patterns that lead some to label her a slut."

Chekov looked at the file. "Every ship has a free spirit. In time, those who crow against her will come to appreciate that aspect. I can remember a few folks on every ship I’ve had the honor of serving aboard who engage in recreational sex, Doctor. I’ve never had a problem with it, and think that those who do are the ones with the problem."

Beals shut off her datapadd. "Captain, may I go?"

"Are your reports done with, Doctor?"

She almost glared. "No. But they all contain like recommendations. I don’t seem to be impressing you with any of my opinions, Captain. Sir, please read the rest at your leisure. I need to take all this in."

In fact, she was mostly correct, so Chekov nodded. "I’m sorry, Doctor. But I find many of your conclusions...unworkable. You have done a very able job in making me aware of potential problems, though. Perhaps our next session will go better?"

She nodded, only a little less tense. "I hope so, Captain. I really do."

"Dismissed, Doctor."

She left without a backward glance, but not in a visible huff. After a moment, Chekov departed for the bridge.

On his shift at Science One, Peter Kirk acknowledged his captain. "Is there anything I can do for you, sir?"

Already thinking about Beals’ suggestions, Chekov thought out loud. "Nyet, Peter, unless you can help me defeat Starfleet bureaucracy and find us a decent communications officer to better relieve Commander Uhura. Bozhe moi."

While allowing a scanner to recalibrate, Kirk looked at Chekov. "Yikes. That’s a tall order. Instead of doing that, why not try to bring up one of the junior communications officers up to snuff, as it were? Commander Uhura is one of the best trainers around, and she can easily bring them up to speed."

"I just don’t know if that’s something the exec vwould appreciate."

"I dunno, Captain. This last week’s been pretty tough on her. Without breaking any confidences, she’s had her hands full. Oh, speak of the devil..."

Uhura stormed onto the bridge, half an hour before her shift was to begin, her face a roiling storm of emotions.

Chekov stepped to the communications console where she’d plopped herself down, and leaned forward, speaking sotto voce. "Penda? You look upset."

"Pavel, Lisa Gatchmeinz is crying her eyes out. Katya Sorenson went on another tear, and Gatchmeinz tried to calm her. The words were...brutal. Something needs to be done. I’m having a hard time handling personnel matters and communications."

"Why don’t you get one of the junior comm officers up here and train them for the post?"

Her eyes brightened. "You wouldn’t mind? I mean, I could always handle emergency communications operations, but that would really help out my workload, Pavel."

Chekov nodded with look of reassurance. "Consider it an order, Number One."

"Aye, sir."

"I’m heading down for breakfast. I’ll be back in a few."


Sitting in the Forward Observation Deck, at a small table, sat Saavik, uncharacteristically having a muffin with jam and butter...and lots of both. Usually Vulcans preferred fruits for breakfast, Chekov knew.

"Captain, may I speak with you?" she called from her table.

It never rains on the Enterprise-B. But when it does, comrade, it really pours.  "Of course, Saavik. What about?"

She looked perturbed. "Sir, it is Peter. Our talks and workout sessions are being interrupted more and more often by crewmembers seeking some manner of life-pattern advice. He is polite, and does not have the heart to turn them away. Also, they seem to be under the impression that it is your wish he should do so. Only in private, he has indicated that this is wearing upon him."

"His work?"

Saavik gave a rather telling response. "He would never allow it to interfere with the performance of his duties."

"Rest assured, I vwill handle that leetle problem, Commander." Chekov worked his way over to the automat food dispenser, selected a tuna wrap and headed out the door on a mission.

Passing the gym, he saw a very lonely Ch’terr standing in an empty training area.

Finally, the captain reached his goal: the ship’s psychologist’s office.

Doctor Beals looked surprised. "Captain?"

Chekov sat down, put his food aside, and looked at the ship’s psychiatrist. "As a child, I thought surely that I must have been adopted or something. My father and mother..."

Sydney Beals smiled, listened, and later gave her full report to a much more receptive Captain Chekov.

She did, however, claim his sandwich as payment. The captain regarded this as a necessary sacrifice for the good of his ship and his crew.

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