Acting Captain Upenda Nyota Uhura was about to begin her well-earned leave from duty, a leave that could in this case lead to her resigning from active duty, but she had yet to decide on that in any final way. Everything that could be nailed down or remotely required her presence prior to true shutdown of the once-lost ship was done. Knowing this, some part of her urged against doing what she was about to do.
Uhura easily gave in to the side of herself that saw these people as more than just fellow officers. She could never see it in the flat way Rand didSulus uber-arrogance aside, Uhura could not see Janice Rands sudden departure from Excelsior as a real loss to anyone. Sometimes, when she wished Sulu or even Chekov would change, she stopped and thought of Rand, and of Kevin Riley, and those wishes fell away. Better to slowly change, like Chekov, or to become more like yourself, like Sulu, than to become largely unrecognizable to once-dear friends. Contact with the youngest of her oldest friends was quickly established.
Chekovs voice was filled with surprise as he answered her call. "Penda? Did you cancel your leave?"
"Just about to begin it, actually, Pavel. Listen, not for interventions sake"
"Bozhe Moi. You spoke to Sulu."
She shrugged. "Im sorry. But until I did, I was inclined to think this whole thing with you and Hikaru"
"You mean this whole thing vwith me and Kyptin Sulu."
She paused. Ouch. Hikaru, what else did you say to him? Because this didnt just come from you citing greater experience. She took a breath and continued. "with you two sounded at first to me like just another boys spat like youve had before. But given the faltering way that HiCaptain Sulu spoke of the whole matter, I realized how deeply he must have offended you."
Chekov stood down on-screen. "Penda, I can no longer bring myself to care how far ahead of his brain his mouth can get. Even knowing the mans flaws almost as well as my own, he crossed lines I cannot forgive and still call myself a Starfleet officeror for that matter, a man."
"Such is the life of Fleet Captains, I suppose. So how are things closer to home? And by that, I mean the Enterprise."
"Oh, the home front? You vwant to know about the home front, Penda?" Chekov held up three fingers, peeling one at a time down into his palm as he went. "I have a chief science officer who doesnt know when to shut down. I have a first officer who doesnt know when to shut up. And I have a chief tactical officer who doesnt know the difference between a mistake and a power grab. As a result, what should have been settled with firm reminders over hot coffee and latkes has escalated into a command crisis." Chekov threw his arms high in the air. "First Sulu, and now this nonsense?"
"So our Mister Kirk started this?"
Chekov nodded. "He decided it might be a good idea to cook up situation simulation scenarios for his staff to keep them sharp during this long voyage. To this end, he cooked up over four hundred of them."
"He just decided this on his own, and proceeded without authorization?"
"Nyet. He sought the aid and approval of his superior officer."
"Scenarios like that would fall under the chief tactical officers domain."
"But instead of asking Mister Vasquez, he turned to my executive officer."
Uhura gulped silently. "Saavik?" she asked. "He was dumb enough to seek his girlfriends permission?" This thing had just gone from informal raking-over to formal reprimand.
"Da. And she vwas dumb enough to grant it to her boyfriend."
"Did you approve the assignment?" Uhura asked.
"It was not presented to me for approval prior to the assignment being issued. Had they followed proper protocols and solicited approval from the chief tactical officer, then none of this would have been brought to my attention except as a command-staff briefing following our departure from Earth."
"And Saavik had no problem with giving Mister Kirk permission to proceed with his scenarios because...?"
"She honestly did not see any problem vwith this reassignment of duties, mostly because it vwas only for the sciences department. She asserts that the science staff was more than qualified to complete the scenarios without the assistance or overview of the chief tactical officer and her staff. Im inclined to both believe her, and to then strangle her slowly."
Uhura shook her head. "Pavel "
"Oh, I am not finished. I just vwish I vwere. Her one mistake, I could easily live vwith, after making sure my voice rings in her ears for the next two centuries."
"Only two centuries?"
"Da. She should have a peaceful retirement. Maybe. Now, we come to the crux of the matter. Mister Kirk turns his ridiculous amount of scenarios over to his assistant chief science officer to get her opinion. Ensign Buchanan then has dinner with her friend, Lieutenant Vasquez, who sees said scenarios on-screen, and vwants to know their origin."
Uhura found herself pining for her past summer encounter with Harry Mudd, and that was saying something. "Oh, boy. Then what?"
Chekov put his hands to his head. "Vasquez confronts Lieutenant Kirk. Peter says he didnt realize his error, and agrees to review command protocol. Once he does this, to hear him tell it, he not only fully realizes what he did wrong, but is now certain of Saaviks complicity. He is unsure as how to proceed since his apology to Robbie was rejected."
Uhura knew there was more to be said, but interjected a question. "Did he tell Saavik she was in trouble?"
"Nyet. Another bad call on his part, but completely understandable, given that regulations on such things can be confusing. However, there was no attempt to conceal what he did or coerce Robbie into silence. If anyone knows better than to lie to me, its a young man I personally slapped manacles on less than a decade ago. I just vwish everyone knew that."
"So let me guess: Robbie confronts Saavik about her complicity, and then what?"
"Saavik is defensive about the matter, of course, and more so because Vasquez is quite upset. Saavik then makes a blathering, nearly incoherent and very, very stupid statement about how she and Peter are superior to other officers...Vasquez, included."
Uhura put her hands to her head. "For a woman whose heritage comes from two species noted for their clear thinking, she comes up with some really stupid statements. Did she admit this to you?"
"Da, she came to me with the matter, looking as crestfallen as Ive seen her in a very long while. She says she finally understands the Human phrase about words that cannot be taken back. So with Peters apology rejected and Saaviks egotistical choice of phrase, Robbie now feels that Peters mistake was not innocent, but part of a deliberate effort by Peter and Saavik to undermine her position as Chief Tactical Officer. She subsequently amended her charge to reflect this belief."
Uhura rolled her eyes. "Hell of a way to start a long tour of duty in the Beta Quadrant."
"Tell me about it. Anyway, on the face of the matter, Robbies perceptions can be understood even though she is misunderstanding the situation. She submitted her resignation and a request to be transferred to another vessel. Peter submitted his resignation and a request to be transferred to another vessel. And Saavik submitted her resignation and a request to be transferred to another vessel."
Despite herself, Uhura had to laugh. "So Peter being an eager beaver and Saavik being a social clod has led to a command crisis."
"My second, in fact, since being promoted to Fleet Captain."
Uhura drew in a deep breath. "Pavel, may I offer a few opinions you may not like?"
"So long as you dont call me a kyptin by happenstance, I think I can handle it."
She stared at the image on her screen and realized just how far Sulu had crossed the line and just how little he had told her of the argument hed had with Chekov. "Okay, here it is: Peter is being Peter, Saavik is being Saavik, and Robbie is being Robbie. Each of their errors in this case proceed from flaws weve known about for months and in some cases, years and decades. Peter Kirk overreached because he has to constantly prove himself to his superiors, his fellow officers and crew and to himself. Saavik grew up on Hellguard and has never had the socialization skills most of us learn when we were children. She didnt learn to share; she learned to pick pockets. As a result, she puts her foot in her mouth, repeating some of Vulcan superiority claptrap drilled into her by her Vulcan tutors. And Roberta Vasquez overreacted because her removal from the Enterprise-B following the death of Captain Harriman has wounded her psyche, something that returning her to her post aboard the Enterprise- B did not heal."
"Penda, I am running a whole fleet of ships now, and rather than my playing nursemaid, I need these people to step up."
Uhura flashed an old, very familiar smile. It almost broke through the minor zephyr that had been fanned into a hurricane before Chekovs eyes. "Then treat this as an opportunity to get them there. Make sure Peter learns the general lesson of this, rather than just the specific. Make sure Saavik learns restraint in these matters. Make sure Robbie knows that reckless charges can be as self-destructive as reckless actions. Pavel, we just went through nearly a year without major or even any real problems resulting from these three officers. For a young officer with the histories they have, thats just about a miracle, and a bona fide one in Saavik and Peters cases."
Chekov seemed calmer, if not actually calm. "So you are saying I should have expected this, and feel lucky that it occurred how and when it did?"
"Sort of. But one last word of advice: Theyve all behaved like idiots, so read them the riot act, unredacted and with full notations. Let them have it with all phaser banks. Ruthlessly cut them off when they mutter explanations, and for that moment in time, let them know the terror. But convey it more in your voice than your face."
She shook her head. "Your glare doesnt work so well, Pavel. Peters is more unnerving, and you dont want to give him an opening."
"But its not really his glare. He inherited it from Kyptin Kirk!"
They laughed for a moment, then Chekov nodded. Vwhat is it they say? It not easy to be the clown vwhen youre the one running the circus? I think I liked it better vwhen Pavel Chekov vwas one to be dismissed."
Uhura grinned. "Pavel Andreievich?"
"Dis-MISSED!!" With that, Uhura raised her fingers in a forehead-salute, abruptly ended the transmission and got on her way.
Staring at the blank screen, Chekov nodded. "Lady, you are sooooooo promoted."
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