Kevin Riley paced up and down the corridor outside the transporter room. He was not a happy man; hed been kept waiting for hours while Chekov and his landing party dealt with the space pirates on the world below.
Suddenly, the doors slid open, and Fleet Captain Pavel Chekov of the Sixth Fleet stepped out into the corridor, Executive Officer Saavik and Chief Security Officer Chterr right behind him. A number of security guards kept pouring out of the room, as Chekov came to stand beside Riley.
"A successful negotiation, Captain Riley," the Enterprise commander said with a satisfied grin as they began walking down the corridor together. "The matter has been resolved completely and peacefully."
Glancing around and seeing they were alone, Riley smirked. "And without the help of Starfleet Intelligence."
"Totally vwithout," Chekov agreed.
"So why was I brought here? Its clear you had a plan of action that couldve been accomplished without my presence. Anyone from Starbase 211 couldve been put aboard the robot freighter Gerry."
Chekov held up three fingers. "One: As the highest-ranking Starfleet Intelligence officer in this sector, I vwanted you to see firsthand the short-comings Intelligence has in providing substantial, vwerifiable information on alien activities in this sector."
Riley nodded in admission. "The depletion of Starfleet Intelligences ranks has had repercussions of this nature throughout all the frontiers of Federation space, not just this sector and the others leading into the Beta Quadrant."
"And rumor has it that you had a hand in that reduction in personnel, as it vwere."
"I simply engaged in some selective downsizing."
"Kevin, there are people who have disappeared and permanently, I suspect."
"Pavel, the people who have been downsized were more dangerous to Federation peace, hell, to galactic peace, than I could possibly explain."
"Vwithout having to kill me, I bet."
Riley nodded. "Without having to kill you."
The two walked in silence a moment as a couple of crewmembers walked by. Once the pair had entered a mess hall, Riley asked, "So whats the second reason you asked for me?"
"This." Chekov held up the datachit Riley had left with Peter Kirk a few weeks earlier.
"So you got around to reading my treatise on Yves Gervais." He was referencing the former head of Starfleet Intelligence.
"He appears to have been a vwery bad man."
"Thats being overly generous, Pavel. He was evil."
"And you think he deliberately sent out the Enterprise-B unprepared for its encounter with the Nexus, vwith its ill-prepared rookie captain, vwith the hopes of killing Captain Kirk and everyone else aboard."
"I do. Ive seen the reports. Starfleet Intelligence knew about the Nexus. Someone made sure that vital equipment was not installed aboard the Enterprise before the media event. Someone made damn sure that there were no other ships in the sector, and someone made sure that the Orion ships transporting the El Aurian refugees took that route to Earth instead of dropping them off at Vulcan, Andor or Tellar, all of which were closer."
"Ill agree to some of your...interpretations of the incident, Kevin. But the media event vwas scheduled by Public Relations vwithout regard to the ships status. I know because I vwas there."
"Admiral Tlondis of Public Relations was a co-conspirator."
There was something about Rileys certainty that chilled Chekov to the bone. "All right, lets say your series of events is true. Vwas Jim Kirk their target?"
"Captain Kirk made a lot of enemies at Starfleet Command over the decades. He even made enemies of several high-ranking admirals during the Kelvan War when he was assigned as the Task Force commander and won that war. Throw in Admiral Gervais own antipathy toward Captain Kirks pro-alien outlook on the Federations race relations, and youve got a large number of people with motive to kill Jim Kirk."
"And now vwhat, Kevin? Gervais vwas found dead last year, and youve been cleaning house. Whos even in charge of Starfleet Intelligence these days?"
Riley stopped him with a hand on his shoulder. "Pavel, Im in charge of Starfleet Intelligence."
Chekov turned with a start. "You?"
"Commanding Admiral Davis herself signed the order." He shrugged. "Im not Captain Kevin Riley. Ive been an admiral for nearly four months." He offered a data chit. "Heres proof if you want it."
"I cannot believe Admiral Davis is letting you go gallivwanting across the galaxy, terminating Intelligence officers as youve been doing."
"Like I told you, Ive been downsizing the staff. Once its under control, once Ive eliminated the rogue agents, the double agents, the triple agents and the others which think they dont have to answer for their illegal, illicit and terroristic activities; then, I intend to tender my resignation and step down."
"And then there vwas one..."
"And then there was none, Pavel." Riley smiled cockily. "Ive got a terminal disease. Ive got about six months to live. Its my hope that I get Starfleet Intelligences affairs in order before I die. If not, Ive been giving away data chits to various officers such as yourself, to Hikaru Sulu, to David Garrovick. Im divulging every plot that Intelligence has been up to for the past twenty years."
"This is...overvwhelming, Kevin."
"Theres more, Pavel."
The fleet captains eyes narrowed. "More?"
"I have finally collected information from an incident that happened fifty some odd years ago." Riley held up another data chit. "On this disk, theres the complete information about the death of George Samuel Kirk."
"He vwas Kyptin Kirks brother. He died on Deneva, killed by the blastoneurons just before vwe vwere able to rescue his family," Chekov recalled.
"Pavel, Im talking about Captain Kirks father, not his brother. He was on a mission for Starfleet Intelligence when he was killed."
Chekov looked at the chit. "I...I cannot accept this information."
"Im not asking you to read it. Im asking you to save it for Peter. I want you to give it to him upon my death." Riley met Chekovs angry eyes. "Itll be my parting gift for him. But he cant see it until Im gone. I dont want to face his recrimination."
"Kevin, you cant be held responsible for the actions of Starfleet Intelligence."
"Pavel, while I wasnt responsible for George Kirks death, there are things that Ive done that are as unforgivable. I may have been an unwilling participant, but I was still a participant."
Their conversation paused again as an engineering team swept through the corridor with radiation monitors. "Sorry, Captain," one of them said, "weve got a bit of a leak on this deck somewhere. Were just trying to track it down."
"Its me," Riley whispered. "Told you I was dying. Theyre picking up on the Pertacks radiation that Ive been contaminated with. Its not lethal to anyone, but my internal organs are just absolutely cooking in their own juices these days."
Chekov addressed his engineers. "Tell Commander Sorensen that Im aware of the situation, and that Ive sent you back."
As the team made their way back to Engineering, Riley came face to face with Chekov. "You said there were three reasons. Whats the third?"
"I vwanted you to get the crap beaten out of you," Chekov said sheepishly.
"They couldve killed me!"
"I doubt that, Kevin, not a trained Intelligence officer such as you. But I did figure theyd kick your ass." Chekov shrugged. "Hey, vwhat can I say? Im only Human."
Riley leaned back and laughed heartily. "My old friend, Im glad weve had this discussion."
"I am, too, Admiral."
"Shhh! Its Captain Riley for now."
"Vwould you like a shuttle to take back to Starbase 211?"
"Actually, I think Im going to drop by Outpost 8944. I need to check on something there."
Chekovs face darkened. "Another...retirement?"
They began walking to the shuttlebay. "Naw, nothing so sinister. Just an agent that needs to be reminded shes supposed to be providing Starfleet with intelligence on this sector. I suspect shes gotten complacent since Gervais death. But let me assure you that youll find an increase in available intelligence in the coming weeks."
"Nothing vwould please me more, Kevin."
The doors to the hangar deck opened. There were two shuttles on the deck, pre-flighted and ready to launch. "Your choice, Captain Riley." Chekov extended his hand.
Riley stepped toward the Earhart. "I think I may keep this one a while, Pavel."
"Im expecting another from the Al Rashid in a few vweeks. Theyll be stopping off at 8944 vwith some supplies that Commander Matthews has been expecting for over a month now." Chekov grinned. "Christmas and Hanukkah vwere just a little late this year."
"And better late than never." Riley climbed into the shuttle. "Good luck, Fleet Captain Chekov. Dont hesitate to call me again if you have any problems. Just next time, dont plan on having my ass kicked, okay?"
"I cant make any promises," Chekov laughed as the door to the shuttle slid close.
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