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Randall Landers

January 15, 2296
2223 hours

Kevin Riley paced up and down the corridor outside the transporter room. He was not a happy man; he’d 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 Ch’terr 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? It’s clear you had a plan of action that could’ve been accomplished without my presence. Anyone from Starbase 211 could’ve 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 Intelligence’s 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 what’s 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."

"That’s 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. I’ve 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."

"I’ll agree to some of your...interpretations of the incident, Kevin. But the media event vwas scheduled by Public Relations vwithout regard to the ship’s status. I know because I vwas there."

"Admiral Tlondis of Public Relations was a co-conspirator."

There was something about Riley’s certainty that chilled Chekov to the bone. "All right, let’s 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 Kirk’s pro-alien outlook on the Federation’s race relations, and you’ve got a large number of people with motive to kill Jim Kirk."

"And now vwhat, Kevin? Gervais vwas found dead last year, and you’ve been cleaning house. Who’s even in charge of Starfleet Intelligence these days?"

Riley stopped him with a hand on his shoulder. "Pavel, I’m in charge of Starfleet Intelligence."

Chekov turned with a start. "You?"

"Commanding Admiral Davis herself signed the order." He shrugged. "I’m not Captain Kevin Riley. I’ve been an admiral for nearly four months." He offered a data chit. "Here’s proof if you want it."

"I cannot believe Admiral Davis is letting you go gallivwanting across the galaxy, terminating Intelligence officers as you’ve been doing."

"Like I told you, I’ve been downsizing the staff. Once it’s under control, once I’ve eliminated the rogue agents, the double agents, the triple agents and the others which think they don’t 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. "I’ve got a terminal disease. I’ve got about six months to live. It’s my hope that I get Starfleet Intelligence’s affairs in order before I die. If not, I’ve been giving away data chits to various officers such as yourself, to Hikaru Sulu, to David Garrovick. I’m divulging every plot that Intelligence has been up to for the past twenty years."

"This is...overvwhelming, Kevin."

"There’s more, Pavel."

The fleet captain’s 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, there’s the complete information about the death of George Samuel Kirk."

"He vwas Kyptin Kirk’s brother. He died on Deneva, killed by the blastoneurons just before vwe vwere able to rescue his family," Chekov recalled.

"Pavel, I’m talking about Captain Kirk’s 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."

"I’m not asking you to read it. I’m asking you to save it for Peter. I want you to give it to him upon my death." Riley met Chekov’s angry eyes. "It’ll be my parting gift for him. But he can’t see it until I’m gone. I don’t want to face his recrimination."

"Kevin, you can’t be held responsible for the actions of Starfleet Intelligence."

"Pavel, while I wasn’t responsible for George Kirk’s death, there are things that I’ve 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, "we’ve got a bit of a leak on this deck somewhere. We’re just trying to track it down."

"It’s me," Riley whispered. "Told you I was dying. They’re picking up on the Pertack’s radiation that I’ve been contaminated with. It’s 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 I’m aware of the situation, and that I’ve sent you back."

"Yes, sir!"

As the team made their way back to Engineering, Riley came face to face with Chekov. "You said there were three reasons. What’s the third?"

"I vwanted you to get the crap beaten out of you," Chekov said sheepishly.

"They could’ve killed me!"

"I doubt that, Kevin, not a trained Intelligence officer such as you. But I did figure they’d kick your ass." Chekov shrugged. "Hey, vwhat can I say? I’m only Human."

Riley leaned back and laughed heartily. "My old friend, I’m glad we’ve had this discussion."

"I am, too, Admiral."

"Shhh! It’s Captain Riley for now."

"Vwould you like a shuttle to take back to Starbase 211?"

"Actually, I think I’m going to drop by Outpost 8944. I need to check on something there."

Chekov’s face darkened. "Another...retirement?"

They began walking to the shuttlebay. "Naw, nothing so sinister. Just an agent that needs to be reminded she’s supposed to be providing Starfleet with intelligence on this sector. I suspect she’s gotten complacent since Gervais’ death. But let me assure you that you’ll 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."

"I’m expecting another from the Al Rashid in a few vweeks. They’ll 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. Don’t hesitate to call me again if you have any problems. Just next time, don’t plan on having my ass kicked, okay?"

"I can’t make any promises," Chekov laughed as the door to the shuttle slid close.

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