Counterstrike

Forward

Here Posted is the first TWO Chapters of a 25 Chapter Book. I wrote this 20 years ago, for fun, while trapped in the subway to and from work every day. Thought it might be intriguing to put it out there. I am just editing as I go along so the other chapters will come fast…..

CHAPTER 1

It had always been his practice to wake up at least an hour before his duty shift began. Besides the fact that it assured he was alert by the time he reported, he had always believed that a man should spend time in quiet meditation before he started his day. Of course now he had the power to spend as much time contemplating as he desired. After all, his duty shift may be twenty four hours a day, but being a commander in the Romulan Navy also afforded him the luxury of managing his time as he saw fit.

Still, Commander S’Tal prided himself in his dedication to duty; not in a conceited, arrogant way, but with a fulfilling satisfaction that he was an honourable man. He had seen many a ship’s commander abuse his position and shirk his duty. Honour and duty was the fibre that made a good man; that was the heritage from which the Romulan Empire had grown and what would always remain in those who served the Romulan Way. Today, like most other days, he awoke to the beckoning of the computer’s masculine voice efficiently repeating a clipped military style wake up call. It did not take many conscious moments for his mind to turn to the upcoming mission.

“Computer,” he spoke to an invisible speaker that he had always felt was in the ceiling even though he knew it was built into one of the walls. “Open the Starscape.” Open was not really the correct term since the wall did not actually open up into space. Instead, the computer adjusted the tint of the huge transplanium window that made up the wall curving into the ceiling of S’Tal’s quarters. It was not his style to use his position to get comforts that were not readily available to the rest of his crew. Nevertheless, he had indulged himself the luxury of the viewport he now looked through.

Looking through the enormous window he could not help but be struck by what he saw. For all the trillions upon trillions of light years that made up the universe, when he looked out into space he was amazed at how two dimensional it all seemed. Every speck of light he saw could be an inch in radius and a few meters from his ship, or they could be a thousand times the radius of Romulus’ sun and a million light years away. No man had the eyes or mind to truly perceive the notion of depth in the vastness of space.

S’Tal found the stars even more beautiful when he was actually viewing them with his own eyes, instead of the computer generated images he saw on the bridge. It was easy to get caught up in the aesthetic beauty of the stars, especially when they took on a surreal quality caused by the rippling effect the cloaking device created. Still, he had no time to spare daydreaming about the beauty of the stars when he needed to prepare for battle.

The Praetor himself had endorsed this mission for which S’Tal, his ship, and the Vatrium were preparing. The Praetor had been convinced by his advisors that the time was right to move against the Federation. They argued that for too long now the Romulan Empire had been denying their true destiny as masters of the galaxy because they feared themselves not strong enough to conquer the Federation.  Now those advisers had convinced the Praetor that the empire was strong enough to win   if they could gain an early advantage.  The purpose of this mission was to give them that advantage.

The years of peace had been good to the Empire; her people had grown as a society and had conquered or settled hundreds of new planets.  Honour lay with the military and duty was served by all.  S’Tal had gained his position through outstanding military service in wars with the Gorn and the IKS on the Triangle border.  He had seen war and understood the necessity to wage it.  However, this action against the Federation was different; it did not feel right for him, or for the Empire.  He did not fear for himself – in fact, he looked forward to dying in his Commander’s seat, as a real warrior should.  He feared for what the war would do to the Romulan society.  Regardless of what the Praetor’s advisors said, the war with the Federation would be long and costly.

S’Tal had never actually battled a Starfleet vessel, but was well studied in their design and abilities.  It was this expertise that led to his assignment on this particular mission.  For all of the Empire’s technical advancements, his ship, one of the most powerful in the Royal Navy, was barely a match for many of the Federation’s cruisers. Romulan commanders were superior when their positions had been earned – of that he was sure -, but too many command positions had been given to undeserving men who knew someone of importance.  So where was the advantage in a war with the Federation?  S’Tal knew he would be successful in completing his mission, but whether it would give the Empire the element of surprise and superior knowledge remained a question.

S’Tal got out of bed, went over to the food synthesizer, and returned to the small table that was set up against his wall viewport.  He was far too preoccupied with the mission that would begin today to worry about a proper breakfast.  This morning a cup of hot corum would suffice.  He sipped his root broth as he wondered how honourable it was to fight the Federation, who had shown no aggression to the Empire.  When he was a young man, S’Tal had thought that fighting was always a source of honour.  As he aged, the fighting seemed endless and killing his so called enemy often seemed like hurting innocent people.  More and more, S’Tal was coming to the realization that true honour lay in protecting peace and the strength of the Empire.  If it took war to do that, then so be it.  He did not feel this was the case with the Federation, which was, for the most part, an honourable entity.

That last thought brought an audible chuckle from his throat.  As a Centurion aboard the Cl’Torin he had been furious at the espionage of a Federation captain and his first officer who conspired to steal a cloaking device.  S’Tal had been severely reprimanded for his inability to destroy the Federation vessel when it was fleeing with a stolen Romulan cloaking device.  S’Tal had been slow to react to the Enterprise cloaking and it escaped.

It was his anger at being duped that drove him to be so great a warrior.  He also vowed to become the foremost expert on Federation military organization.  He found that his anger ran out of steam after a couple of years. His Commander later showed him that Federation officers were capable of great honour when that same command crew of the Enterprise worked together with her against Omne. She had been right to trust them even though her career was lost.  He actually developed an admiration for Starfleet and its most powerful ships and decorated officers.

Still, of course his heart lay with his Romulan Empire.  He had fought for the prosperity of its people.  He had sworn his life to the Praetor and regardless of the consequences or possible futility of war with the Federation, he was going to honour his oath.  Duty was the utmost priority to Romulans   and S’Tal was, above all else, a Romulan.  With renewed determination, he rose from his seat and began to dress in his Romulan commander’s uniform.

“Close viewport.”  The viewport darkened on cue as S’Tal added the honour sash to his uniform.  He reached up to the Romulan Bird cluster that held his sash in place and touched it with his forefinger.  It beeped to life.  “S’Tal to bridge,” he clipped in an efficient military tone.  “I’m heading to PTB room three.  Inform Commander Tark that I will be transporting over as scheduled.”

“Immediately, Commander,” S’Tal heard as he left his quarters.

Tark revelled in the command seat.  He often spent many off duty hours on the bridge.  He had spent years of his life in the security sections of various ships, dreaming of getting to where he was now   in the command seat.

It was from the command seat that one could be part of the strategy of battle.  He was addicted to combat, he could admit that.  This was not a vice to a Romulan, provided he had self control and could make the right choices about when to battle, always ensuring the Empire came before personal needs.

Many years of his life had been spent studying every great strategist in the known galaxy.  It did not matter to Tark whether the object of his study was an enemy or an ally, his admiration transcended political and ideological boundaries.  In fact, some of his favourite strategists were from the Klingon and Federation starfleets.  Captain Garth was his chosen commander when it came to fighting against numerous opponents.  General Kord from the Klingon Empire was outstanding at directing and participating in multi vessel encounters.  Yet his favourite was Captain James T. Kirk, commander of the Federation cruiser Enterprise.  It was Kirk who was able to turn any situation to his advantage.  Kirk, who never accepted defeat even if he had to sacrifice his own ship to win.

Tark had spent several years as captain on smaller ships, most of them old and lacking any real power.  It was his knowledge of Kirk and his expertise on combat strategy that got him command of the Vatrium.  His ship was the first of its kind, the first special missions cruiser in the Imperial Fleet.  It had the power to beat the best from the Federation.  Still, he could only hope that it would come to battle with Federation ships, hope to meet Kirk in combat someday.  Nevertheless, it was his duty to ensure the success of this mission regardless of the cost; even if he had to give up the chance to battle Kirk.

Success ensured power.  He would command as long as he was successful.  Command was what he wanted most in life.  As he looked around the bridge at his crew, it occurred to him that they were his to command.  As long as they were on his ship, their lives were his to control, they were extensions of himself on the bridge.  The communications officer was his ears and voice to communicate with others.  His helm and Nav officers were his legs to take him where he wanted to go.  Fists to pound the enemy were provided by his weapons officer, and his engineer was a doctor to care for the body.  The bridge was the brain of the ship and he was the brain of the bridge.

He could not resist smiling to himself.  Here he was a Romulan commander, and he was comparing his ship to his body and himself to a brain; such were not the musings of a Romulan.  He moved his attention from his inward thoughts to the main viewscreen.  The now split screen showed the forward starfield on one half and a navigational projection on the other.  The navigational projection showed his ship’s location alongside the frigate K’Lester, the two starship’s course projection, and the border markings that represented the Triangle and Federation neutral zone boundaries.

Tark turned to his science officer’s station, “Any ships on long range sensors yet?”

“Nothing yet, sir,” the man answered quickly.  “We should be within scanner range of any enemy vessel patrolling the Federation side of the Neutral Zone and the Triangle boarder in…1 hour, 22 minutes.”

“Excellent, inform me as soon as you detect anything.”

“Yes sir.” The officer firmly punched the left side of his chest and then extended his arm so that his hand was just above the level of his shoulder.

“Commander,” came the call of his communications officer from his post beside the science station.

“What is it Centurion?”

“The K’Lester informs us that Commander S’Tal will be transporting over on schedule.”

“Confirm,” Tark answered, and then added as he headed for the speedlift, “I will be in PTB room one to meet him.”

Tark enjoyed S’Tal’s company, they shared many of the same interests.  There were so few men in the Empire with whom he could talk to about some of the Federation’s greatest strategists.  Since being assigned to this mission, he and S’Tal had spent many hours in simulated starship battle with the simusence helmets and he looked forward to one more before the mission operations began.  Tark had a special recreated simulation that had just been programmed based on a recent event in the Federation. He wanted to run the new simulation with S’Tal.

 

CHAPTER 2

Captain’s Log, Stardate 2/2305.28:

The Enterprise’s‚ first four weeks of patrol duty on the Triangle boarder have concluded without any serious incidents. As is often the case on long and uneventful patrol duty, the crew is losing concentration and becoming bored. I am sending a recommendation to Starfleet, that following the six weeks of our patrol duty, the crew of the Enterprise be given shoreleave on the planet of Lakeland. The two Federation patrol vessels immediately adjacent to us have also reported no note worthy incidents. The Sputnik‚ in the sector to the galactic north of the Enterprise‚   has monitored no activity in its sector and has completed resupply of Outpost 1 along the Romulan Neutral Zone. The Appollo‚ to the galactic south has reported a tediously sparse amount of activity in its sector bordering the Triangle.

Captain James T. Kirk wearily pushed the button on the arm of his command chair that switched off the log recording device.  The thought of continuing patrol duty for another six weeks was devitalizing to say the least. Yet he felt at ease now; now that he was no longer behind a desk. There was a time when he had thought setting fleet procedure behind a desk would be preferable to patrol duty. After experiencing the life of a staff officer, he was resolute that his calling in life was to command a starship   to command the Enterprise. He looked around at his bridge and the efficient crew, who by merely pushing buttons and flicking switches, made the 170,000 megaton Enterprise fly through space at speeds many times faster than the speed of light. He could think of no words to express his feelings at that time. He felt a mix of awe at the thought of travelling at such an incredible speed, and genuine feelings of loyalty for and from his crew – his friends, no, his family.

He knew that it was, in many ways, egotistical to think of the Enterprise and her crew as his, but he often found himself doing just that when he sat in the command chair. There could be no doubt that this chair was his. Looking back now, he found it hard to believe that he had ever given up his ship and taken the appointment as Chief of Starfleet Operations. Even more incredible that he had given her up a second time after the V’GER incident. Those years spent in a desk chair he had constantly dreamed and hoped of again sitting in the command chair of the Enterprise. Now he was and he would not easily give her up again.

The previous five years had seen three serious threats on Terra and the Federation of Planets. He had lived through all of them. His ship, his crew were heroes, but there were heavy casualties. The Enterprise and her crew had paid for their heroes’ welcome with their dearest blood. James Kirk had lost the son he had only briefly known but had loved as much as any father could. It had taken Kirk several long introspective hours and several long talks with Dr. McCoy to realize that it was his friends on the Enterprise that were his family. Still, there could be little reconciliation for the losses he felt.

Nevertheless, all was how it should be once again. The first watch surrounded him, everything felt right. Uhura was at her communication console, her fingers moving across its dimensions as they had for so many years. She seemed to have aged the most gracefully, he decided. She was perhaps even more handsome a woman now than in her younger years.

To her left was the familiar back of Mr. Spock. Kirk was very pleased when Spock had told him that he would stay on the Enterprise as First Officer and Science Department Head. Spock had been satisfied with his role as a Starfleet instructor, but had felt the strongest emotion that Vulcans will admit to having – curiosity. He had a desire to discover things that had never before been discovered, to understand things as yet not understood, to go where no one has gone before. It was this last phrase, to “go where no man has gone before “, that had made Spock decide to request starship duty aboard the Enterprise.  Spock had told Kirk when he filed his request to stay on board the Enterprise, that he had been reminded of his own personal charter by reading the Enterprise’s. Spock had always known the charter of the Enterprise, but it was during that time when the Captain, McCoy and himself were locked in the forward observation deck by Spock’s brother that he had the opportunity to really contemplate the importance of the Enterprise and her crew to what he was; to what he had become. He had come to the realization that it was the duty aboard the starship with his friends that truly fulfilled his one true destiny – and made him content. It was a statement to which Kirk had no argument, so even though it meant Spock giving up his command, Jim Kirk had processed and endorsed the request.

Directly in front of him, Kirk rested his eyes on the team that had guided the Enterprise through more kilometres of space than any other ship in Starfleet history. Chekov had turned down a promotion to command a vessel of his own to stay aboard the Enterprise as Department Head for Security and Weapons System, as well as third in the chain of command. Kirk remembered his misgivings about Chekov turning down the promotion. Chekov was adamant however, he would continue to learn from the best until it was time for him to move up to command the Enterprise.

Sulu was a mainstay in Jim Kirk’s crew, Kirk knew that Sulu would stay on the Enterprise for as long as they would allow him.  Sulu had piloted the ship in every battle manoeuvre in Starfleet’s combat textbooks as well as some that would be added to them. He flew the Enterprise like it was an extension of himself. Sulu also could have had a command position on a ship of his own but had made it clear to Kirk that he was going to wait for a chance to command the Excelsior. He had told Kirk that there was no reason to leave the best ship in the fleet unless he had the chance to command a ship he could make the best.

To the Captain’s far left, sitting with his back to the command chair watching his instruments as though the ship were in a battle was the one man who loved the Enterprise as much as Jim Kirk did – of that he was sure. Montgomery Scott would also stay with the Enterprise until he was forced to retire. Scotty had revelled at the prospect of spending his days in this new Enterprise. Kirk remembered what Scotty had said when he learned of the new Enterprise’s equipment, “Ach, me baby’s finally got the best equipment thot Starfleet has ta offer. And ’tis about time too, a shame it took her destruction for those inept fools ta realize it.” It was Scotty who had complained the loudest about the new Enterprise not being as good as the old . It had not deterred him however; he continued to work her into shape and when the time had come, she performed beautifully and saved the lives of all aboard her. It was not long after the trip to the centre of the galaxy that Scotty was again claiming that the new Enterprise was befitting the name and was his baby. “After all,” Scotty had told Kirk, “it was those inept fools at Starfleet w’at ha’ put her tagether wrong.” The memory brought a broad grin to Jim Kirk’s face.

“Now what’s that grin for? You look like the cat that swallowed the bird, “came the voice of the Enterprise’s Chief Medical Officer and Kirk’s long-time friend and companion. McCoy had grumbled about signing for the five year mission. He had claimed that he would be old and grey by the time he got back, and that space exploration was no way for a man to be spending his twilight years. Someone had to take care of Kirk, though, and he had decided that he was the only man alive capable of having any effect on what Jim Kirk did.

“Hello Bones, I was just thinking back to Scotty’s comments about his baby finally getting the best from the inept fools at Starfleet,” Kirk answered instigatively. The remark had its desired affect for Spock’s head popped up from his watch over the science console. Kirk felt the weariness of patrol duty lift off his shoulders as he straightened for the exchanges that were sure to ensue.

“Captain, I was unaware that Mr. Scott was involved in the conception of the Enterprise, and in fact, that conception of an inanimate object was possible,” Spock offered without even a trace of sarcasm. He had learned long ago that while working with humans it was important to their morale – and therefore their efficiency – for them to have a nearly constant environment of humour. It was for this reason that he allowed himself to partake in their bantering back and forth as the “straight man “. It was logical.

“Spock,” answered Dr. McCoy, “surely you must have realized that it was only a joke and that Scotty was not suggesting that he had a biological part in the Enterprise’s creation.”

“Ah yes,” offered the Vulcan, again without even a hint of humour in his voice or face. “Humour is an abstract human concept.  I have not yet mastered recognizing or understanding it, Doctor.” Every head on the bridge was now turned to listen to the conversation. The bridge crew of the first watch were frequently treated to dialogues between Spock and McCoy. These dialogues were quite often humorous and always interesting. Since he was one of the subjects of this particular conversation, Scotty had turned from his console and was listening intently. “Ach, but ya donna understand,” Scotty jumped in, speaking not to just Spock but to McCoy and Kirk as well. “The Enterprise is me baby just as surely as if I ha’ given birth ta the lass meself.”

Although there was no humour meant in Scotty’s statement, Kirk’s and McCoy’s faces lit up with the widest grins. They themselves were unsure of the motives behind the grins. Perhaps it was simply an acknowledgement of how Scotty felt about the Enterprise, similar to the smile given any mother when she talked of her child. But perhaps the smiles that these grown men were flashing so brightly were because they knew that Spock could not let such an illogical statement go unchallenged. The fact that Spock gave his “interesting but very illogical ” eyebrow raise confirmed their assessment of Spock’s reaction.

“Mr. Scott,” Spock settled into his Vulcan mode readying himself for another attempt – however futile – at righting an illogical presumption. The fact that he was even pursuing a dialogue that would, at its conclusion, not change Mr. Scott’s paternal feelings concerning the Enterprise did not deter him from the attempt. “Might I remind you that the Enterprise is owned by Starfleet Command and that it is neither a “baby” nor a ” lass “.”

“Mr. Spock!… sir,” the Scotsman answered indignantly. “I may nota’ drawn up the plans ta the darlin’ or commissioned her assemblin’, but as sure as I’m standin’ here, I’m the one thot takes care a’ her and makes her whot she is. And Mr. Spock, she is a baby. She has to be coddled and caressed ta ge’ her ta perform as she does. As for bein’ a lass, could anythin’ so beautiful not be a true lady?” Scotty was speaking the truth about how he felt concerning the Enterprise. It was his baby.  Scotty also knew the problem Spock’s logical mind would have understanding the engineer’s feelings. He continued with the conversation for the sheer enjoyment of talking about the Enterprise and the dismay it would cause the Vulcan.

“Mr. Scott,” the Vulcan First Officer offered. “You may have made the other Enterprise what it was previous to its destruction, but I suggest that this Enterprise is as yet unchanged by your hand and is therefore not your “baby “.”  The smiles disappeared from the faces of the bridge crew. The fact that he could have just deeply hurt Montgomery Scott did not occur to Spock until Kirk answered to Spock’s comment.

“The thing you don’t understand Spock, is that the spirit of the Enterprise lives on in this vessel and in fact is carried by the crew that lives within her.” Kirk realized that he had been far too sentimental with his statement but he felt it was needed to raise the morale of his disenchanted Chief Engineer. He also knew that Spock would pick up on the fact that he had touched on a taboo subject and that it was time to end the conversation. “The metal may be new, some of the people may be new, but she is the Enterprise, there’s no doubt about that.” There were times during the mission with Sybok that Kirk had doubted just that. Not anymore, the Enterprise had proven herself.

“Yes, of course. Mr. Scott, please accept my apology if I have given offence.” Spock answered right on cue to the Captain’s  – Was it mental – communication. Spock had mind melded with his commanding officer and friend on several occasions and in fact had created a mental link on occasion to keep in contact with the captain when that was the only form of communication possible. He had also thought that he had severed the thread that had joined the two men. Now he felt unsure; unsure of the presence of the link or if his feelings of camaraderie had just taught him to read his captains hints and hunches. Then, what is the difference?

“Ach, Donna worry yourself Mr. Spock. You couldna’ known. Besides thot, I may be the mother o’ the Enterprise, but with all thot ye have added ta her you are atleast an uncle,..sir.” Scotty answered innocently. Again the faces of the bridge crew were lit up with giant Cheshire grins and Spock’s eyebrow rose underneath his hairline.

“Indeed,” was all that Spock could or would say. He knew that he had been the brunt of another harmless joke and chose to ignore it. Turning in his chair to again monitor his console he was aware of the subdued chuckles of the bridge crew. My theory correct, I have just greatly increased the morale of these humans.

“Jim, I came up here to see if you would like to join me for dinner when shift is over.” It often seemed as though Leonard McCoy’s southern drawl got more profound as end of shift grew nearer.

“I’d love to Bones, but unfortunately I have other, more strenuous, plans. ”

At this comment McCoy looked towards Uhura and leaned closer to Jim Kirk’s ear as if to avoid the possibility of being overheard. “You have a date then. I guess I can take rejection as long as she’s beautiful. Who is it this time? the girl from Life Sup…”

Kirk cut him off before McCoy had a chance to recite a list of every woman on the ship to whom Kirk had mentioned a slight attraction. “I have the playoffs of the energyclub tournament tonight. Thanks anyway Bones.”

“Jim, why do you continue to enter yourself in Security’s combat tournaments? You know you’re getting too old for that sort of thing.” McCoy purposely put the emphasis on old; after all, if they could not tease each other, who could they tease? There was a real, tangible bond between the two officers and friends. They had been through life and death – or close enough – together.  There had been nothing that had not been said between them, there was nothing that could not be said now –  no matter how bruising the subject may be.

“I have an obligation as this ship’s commander to keep up with all the latest personal combat techniques,” Captain Kirk answered as though he were reading from a Starfleet Captain’s Handbook. There was no way he was going to give his tormentor the pleasure of showing any discomfort. “Besides that Bones, how many times have I had to fight to secure the safety of the Enterprise and her crew?” The memories of those times flashed back to him. The Gorn incident, the Excalbia incident when Kirk had to watch his hero Abraham Lincoln die, the fight in the arena of the Gamesters of Triskelion, and others were all still fresh in his mind, as were the fears and desperation he had felt.

It was obvious from McCoy’s face that he was searching for a point from which he could argue. Not finding one, he decided to settle for a cynical remark. “You won’t be able to fight for the security of anything if you’re in sickbay on your back from a silly security tournament.”

Kirk seemed amused by the whole exchange. It was always enjoyable to argue with McCoy, especially when the Doctor lost and resorted to cynicism – a sure sign he was frustrated. All that was needed now was to smile, this would serve to annoy McCoy more than another remark.

McCoy knew when he was beaten. He turned his attention from the Captain to the Engineer.

“Scotty, how about you? care to join me for a bite to eat? I know you wouldn’t be fool enough to enter into a security combat tournament.”

“Aye, surely I wouldna’. But I canna’ join ya for dinner Doctor, for though I wouldna’ enter meself, I wouldna’ miss the cap’ain in the finals o’ such a tournament,” Scotty answered then added. “Why don’t ya join me Doc? ‘Tis gonna’ be a great final.”

“Has the whole ship gone crazy? Do we not partake in enough violence in our travels that we need to volunteer our spare time to beat up on each other.” McCoy bellowed at no one in particular but soon turned to Mr. Spock. “Well then Mr. Spock, I guess it’s just you and me. I may not have a lot of fun at dinner but at least I’ll have some company.”

Spock turned his chair so that he could face the Doctor.

“Thank you for the gracious invitation Doctor, but I am also attending the tournament as a spectator.”

“You Mr. Spock? Why would you want to watch such a barbaric display of violence?” McCoy brightened at the chance for another argument. He was anxious to redeem himself for the quick defeat at the Captain’s hands moments earlier. He saw Spock’s desire to watch the tournament as illogical and felt sure he could prove that watching violence was as bad as partaking. I’ve got him on this one.

“As a doctor yourself, surely you must recognize the benefit of physical activity to the healthy upkeep of any humanoid being,” Spock answered. He knew that he was entering into a discussion with Dr.McCoy that the doctor would treat as an argument and verbally fight with aggression far more ferocious than the physical sparring that would occur in a combat tournament aboard the Enterprise.

“Physical activity I have no problem with. Callisthenics and other forms of non-violent activities can produce the desired physiological benefits.” Yes! Good answer. Spock can’t get out of this one. No Way.

“I have noticed, during my stay with humans, that they often require the excitement of competition to push themselves to an activity level conducive to physical fitness improvement.”

“There are many forms of non-violent sports that can be participated in that are very competitive.” McCoy seemed to get more confident each time he answered one of Spock’s comments. I’m going to win this one.

“That is true Dr. McCoy, but none of those sports also offer the added benefit of improving the proficiency level of a necessary skill aboard a military vessel. Surely as Chief Medical Officer you can see the importance of military personnel being proficient in a skill that could someday save their lives and lower the need for spending time under your care.” There was an air of finality in Spock’s statement. Neither he, nor any one of the bridge crew, expected an answer from Dr. McCoy and doubted that the doctor could provide one.

McCoy again got a pained look on his face. His eyebrows slanted inward and downward into an expression that was alarmingly similar to a child’s when the cookie jar is taken away and placed out of reach. Still he had to say something. He couldn’t think of a good retort so he again searched for a cynical remark to bail him out.

“I …” McCoy was interrupted by the opening of the turbolift doors. The second watch crew came through the doors and made their way to their respective posts. The commotion caused by the crew exchange rescued McCoy from finishing his remark and allowed him to exit the bridge before anyone thought to look to the Doctor to hear the rest of his retort. Well they’re not the calvary, McCoy thought to himself. But they did come in the nick of time. At least I don’t have to make things worse by saying something that would only be conceding to Spock. I’ll concede to Jim, but never to Spock. I have my reputation to think of.

 

 

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