Author’s note: Yada, yada, yada; on with the show.
Chapter 2 – The Assignment
Spock spared Nyota a quick glance and thought that her eyes looked red. He knew that folding his arms across his chest was the only way in a room full of people to communicate his dissatisfaction with her current physical state. Unfortunately, at that moment she wasn’t looking in his direction in order to recognize the gesture; she was far too busy drawing unintelligible markings on her data tablet’s screen.
She was tired, inattentive, and unfit for duty and he knew he ought to reprimand her for it. He would let the issue slide for now; the grief he would receive from her if he took the time to issue the report was not worth the trouble.
Spock swiveled his chair back towards the Captain’s direction. Kirk and McCoy had been exchanging the usual prickly and touchy barbs back and forth since entering the conference room. It was a fairly common occurrence of late and the subject varied rarely.
Old Miss had, apparently, accomplished a defeat of something called Tech by engaging in some ritualistic sporting event’s semi-final, invariably leaving something or someone called a Sooner “in the mix”. Apparently, from his vocal effusions, Kirk favored the Sooners, equating them as the natural representatives for farm boys everywhere.
Spock had no opinion of Sooners, Old Miss, or Tech, he just wished that someone else would win as it was the only way to ensure that peace once again reigned on the Enterprise for the next month or so.
His hearing, being what it was, caused him to glance at Nyota once again. This time she was attempting to suppress a yawn. She was obviously fatigued and given her evening activities he was hardly surprised. At the second yawn, a somewhat more violent reaction, Kirk noticed her, too.
Kirk had directed the question to his communication’s officer, but his eyes were gleaming brilliantly in the direction of his science officer.
“I’m sorry, Captain,” Uhura said, straightening up in her chair, her eyes now visibly brighter than they were a moment ago. “I got caught up in an old film last night.”
Kirk frowned, clearly unconcerned that his communications officer was tired, more disappointed in the fact that he no longer had a reason to tease Spock all day.
“I expect my officers to be in top form, Lieutenant; make sure it doesn’t happen again,” said Kirk, in one of his random barks of command, consisting mostly of bark and not very much bite.
“Yes Captain, of course.”
He dipped his head, and dropped his voice to a playful whisper. “What was it, spy, car chase, or alien attack? Please tell me it was an alien attack movie, I love it when they pop out of some guy’s chest.”
This time he was looking directly at Spock, smirking. Spock wasn’t going to dignify that reference with a reaction.
“No, Captain,” she said, rolling her eyes, “It was the film Pride and Prejudice. Want to borrow it sometime?”
Kirk winced. “Girl movie; no way!”
Spock paid absolutely no attention to their discussion; Nyota and Kirk had such an odd sort of relationship: at some times hostile and antagonistic and at other times deeply professional and courteous.
Sulu and Scotty sauntered in, deep in their own spirited conversation.
“Aye, laddie, but your fancy auto-saber is no match for a fine Scottish Claymore; properly sharpened, I can hack a man to bits without even building up a sweat.”
Sulu’s face reflected his aversion to the term “hack a man to bits” causing Scotty to laugh loudly and smack him on the back. As the last of the senior officers to enter, they all took their designated seats around the triangular table.
Kirk, sitting at the top of the blunted point, his hands clasped in front of him, glanced around the table fondly. To the untrained eye, Kirk may have merely appeared happy, but to those who knew him well, they knew that his face showed all the pride in having the best starship and the best crew in the entire fleet.
Spock and Doctor McCoy naturally flanked him on either side, almost as two disparate sides to his personally, both equal to aggravating or invigorating in their own unique ways. Next to McCoy and working around the table back towards Spock, came Engineer Scott, Communications Chief Uhura, Security Chief Dickerson, Helm Chief Sulu, and Operations Chief Carstairs. Kirk looked left then right to ensure he had everyone’s attention and began the briefing.
“A few hours ago Admiral Komack contacted me for a very special mission. We are to proceed to the planet, Vulcan II, now to be officially known hereafter as Rau-Tor Vuhlkhansu.”
Spock nodded while translating. “Vulcan People’s Haven. Appropriate.”
“Our task once there,” continued Kirk, “is to mark, what the Vulcan’s call, La’tasa Shahnan, the end of the Vulcan period of morning.”
Everyone, with the exception of Mr. Spock gaped back at him. Whether it was disbelief or shock or a combination of the two, Kirk didn’t know, but he chose to continue, nonplused.
“Given our role in the events of fourteen months ago, the Vulcan High Command have made a request for the Enterprise specifically. I have been asked to be Starfleet’s official representative at the memorial ceremony.”
Many had already planned to pass the observance quietly and in their own private way. And now, the reminder of those sad events affected everyone gathered around the table, with several of them doing their level best not to turn towards Spock, with the exception of one.
They all cared for him, she knew, but she cared for him that much more. It was no secret that they were lovers, but no one could know about the much deeper, near telepathic bond that had been forged. She could always sense his distress, even when he took care to hide it carefully away from the rest of the world. Only she could see the small flicker of grief that burned at the back of everything that he did each day.
Kirk continued. “Given the Enterprise’s role in the rescue of the *Katric Ark, the Vulcan elders, and subsequent battle, the Vulcan High Command has asked for the Enterprise’s presence specifically. Thoughts, gentlemen.”
You could have heard a pin drop.
“Right!” said Kirk when no one said anything. “Mr. Sulu, have Mr. Chekov lay in a course for Haven and you will take us there at warp factor one.”
Hikaru Sulu’s forehead creased. “Warp one, sir? But at this distance that will take us nearly—,” he did a quick calculation in his head, “nearly a week, sir.”
Imprecise calculations always compelled Spock to speak. “It will take the Enterprise exactly 6.582 solar days at warp factor one to reach Haven.”
Kirk shrugged his shoulders, “Well, you heard the man, Mr. Sulu, 6.582 solar days.”
The helmsmen began to protest. “Sir, surely–.”
Kirk was already making placating gestures with his palms effectively cutting off Sulu’s entreaty.
“I know, Mr. Sulu,” Kirk said calmly, “I am well aware that we can be there tomorrow if we wished; however; given the contact that we had with the refugees of Vulcan and the delicacy of the feelings of everyone involved, I would like to take it nice and slow; give the crew a chance to think things over a bit; get used to the idea of what we are doing and why we are going there; understood?”
“Aye, sir; of course. Sorry, sir.”
Kirk turned his glance to his operation’s officer. “Mr. Carstairs, the Vulcan High Command would like the landing party that they will be initially interacting with them to be kept as small as possible to keep from overwhelming the main city’s infrastructure and limited resources. However, they are not without compassion and they have seen to it that shore leave facilities have been arranged on the northern continent of the planet, a far more hospitable climate to the majority of our crew. You will oversee all arrangements on that end, if you please.”
Carstairs nodded while writing a few notations on his computer tablet. Kirk turned to his Communication’s officer.
“I want you down on the planet with me. Although we know that most members of the High Command do speak English, you never know what other issues we may face and my Vulcan is rusty, at best. I’ll need a translator and I want it to be you. Plan to be away from the Enterprise for several days; appropriate dress uniforms, that sort of thing, etcetera. I will also need help with my speech.”
Her eyes widened with mischief, the small beginnings of a playful smile forming. “Do you want me to write your speech, Captain?”
“No, no. I’ll write it; I want you to work with me over the next few days to help me perfect my Vulcan.”
She blinked. “You’re giving your speech in Vulcan, sir?”
“Way to show confidence in your Captain, Uhura.”
“No, no, sir, I meant—” she sat up straighter, suddenly serious. “I only thought that you would prefer—” she glanced fleetingly at Spock then back to Kirk knowing that Spock was the most logical person to assist the captain with any Vulcan translations, especially with a speech that was more than likely to be given to Spock’s own father. Her Vulcan language skills were good, but his were obviously, much, much better.
“Bones,” Kirk said, loudly, cutting off the rest of her sentence, “I want you down there with me as well. I want you and your staff to be ready to assist the Vulcan’s with any and all medical issues. I’m sure they have things well in hand, but I believe it would be a nice gesture to offer; make certain they have everything they need in the way of medical supplies and equipment.”
McCoy nodded, his eyes showing that his brain was already working on what could possibly be required.
“Mr. Scott, several of the Vulcan Council members expressed an interest in touring the ship. We will host a small reception aboard while we are in orbit and I want the Enterprise in top form; anything that you’re currently behind with, any looses ends, needs to be completed during this time.”
Scotty scoffed, looking highly offended. “Of that you cannae have no worries, Captain. I’ll leave no stone unturned; if there’s a panel to be scrubbed, it will sparkle enough for your own granny can eat off of!”
Kirk lifted his hand and made a stopping gesture, indicating to Scotty that he could take it down a notch.
“Mr. Dickerson, that goes for those under you as well. In the next several days I want security drills, I want spit and polish, I want, I want—hell, you know the sort of thing I want; just make it so.”
“Alright, you all have your assignments.” He tapped the surface of the table smartly. “That will be all, gentlemen, and lady. Dismissed.” Kirk half rose out of his seat, until he noticed that Spock had swiveled around smartly in his chair to face him.
“Yes, Mr. Spock.” Kirk already knew what his first officer was going to ask, but he played along.
“And I shall be doing what, exactly?”
“I’m glad you asked.” But Kirk, ready for him, snapped his finger and headed for the door. “But we’ll have to talk about it later.”
*Author’s footnote: In the Star Trek novelization of the film, the Vulcan’s brought the Katric Ark with them on their retreat from the cave in the side of the mountain. I believe it held the remains of Surek. The elders, or a least one of them (probably T’Pau) held Surek’s Katra, so rescuing the elders and the Ark would be a big deal to the Vulcan’s, warranting a request for the Enterprise’s presence.