Ensign Pavel Chekov had just finished his duty shift and was headed to a food service area to grab a meal. He had been assigned to the Enterprise after graduating from Starfleet Academy, and as was typical of new Academy graduates, he was serving rotations in multiple departments in order to get a good overview of the ship's functions. Today, he had been helping out in one of the science labs. Starting tomorrow, he was scheduled for Communications for the next week. However, he was currently more preoccupied with his upcoming meal than any pending assignment.
As he retrieved his food from the processor slot, Chekov noticed Ensign Joshua Diener standing behind him. Diener was slightly taller than Chekov, with dark blond hair and moderately broad shoulders. Like Chekov, he was a recent Starfleet Academy graduate. He had primarily been trained as a security officer but had just finished serving a rotation in Engineering.
"Hello Josh," Chekov greeted his friend.
"Hi, Pavel," Diener greeted him in return, sounding less enthusiastic than usual. His facial expression revealed worry.
"Mind if I join you for supper?" Chekov asked as Diener specified the food he desired from the autochef.
"No problem," shrugged Diener.
The two young officers threaded their way to a small table and sat down. A concerned Chekov noticed Diener's somber expression and half hearted efforts to eat. "Something wrong, Josh?"
"I'm afraid so, Pavel. I got a message today from one of the guys from my old company who's still at the Academy. Casey got hurt in a training mission three months ago, and is still in the infirmary at Starbase Eleven. They were in deep space when an accident occurred, and apparently there were a lot of injuries and deaths."
"Oh, no!" An expression of horror showed on Chekov's face as the memories of Casimir "Casey" Benecki flooded his consciousness. "There have been some rumors of that, but no solid news."
Diener studied Chekov's facial reactions and tried to answer the obvious questions. "I don't have any details yet, except that he got burned. I have no idea how serious." In spite of being a class behind, Benecki had become the closest friend of Diener, being as they were on the Academy swim team together and were in the same brigade, of which Diener was the leader.
Chekov recalled his first meeting with Benecki which had occurred during his second year at the Academy. He had attended an early morning swim team practice and was greeted in Russian by a blond-haired plebe, who spoke it with an accent betraying Slavic but non-Russian origin. Benecki turned out to be from Warsaw, Poland, and was a very strong at distance freestyle events. "He must have been very badly burned to still be hospitalized. Let us hope for the best then."
"You know what's weird is that he's at Starbase Eleven's medical center. If I'd known, I'd've visited him during our stay there last week."
The following day, Chekov reported to the bridge and headed towards the communications station where he was to meet with the main communications officer, Lieutenant Uhura. He recalled that the gorgeous African woman was part of the group he spent time with at the ship's last port of call. At that time, Captain Kirk was being court-martialled for the supposed death of an officer but was found innocent of all charges. During that time, all personnel not involved in the court-martial were sent down to the starbase for shore leave and, best of all, were not being charged leave time.
It'll be a pleasure to work with her, Chekov thought to himself as he reported to her station about fifteen minutes before her shift on the bridge was to start.
Soon, the turbolift to the bridge opened, and all personnel stationed on the bridge turned their heads that way. Stepping out of the elevator was Lieutenant Uhura herself who exchanged greetings with Helmsman Sulu and Navigator Riley before reaching her post. She smiled at the waiting ensign. "Good morning, Mister Chekov."
"Good morning, Lieutenant. I understand I'm to work with you in Communications." Chekov turned to face her.
"Yes, that's true," she nodded. "For the first two hours, you'll serve at my station. But I'll stay around here to back you up and provide feedback. After that, you'll go down to Deck Three to monitor the CommNet relays for any important Federation news. This includes any news from Starfleet Command. One of your duties today will be to compile a digest of communiques for use by the ship's personnel, categorized by department, and deliver a report on all communications traffic."
Chekov assented, "Yes, sir."
"Ma'am," she asserted.
"I beg your pardon?" Chekov was clearly nonplused.
"Despite being a product of the twenty-third century, I prefer ma'am' and Miss Uhura,' Ensign." She winked at him. "I'm an old-fashioned girl."
"Yes, ma'am." He hesitated a little before speaking again. "Maybe I can learn some more news about a training cruise accident that happened a few months ago."
"I haven't heard any official news on it yet." The communications officer's face betrayed the fact that she might not have heard anything "official" but she had clearly heard something.
Chekov's tone of voice became graver. "I just got the news yesterday that one of the guys I knew from the Academy swim team was injured in that accident: Midshipman Casimir Benecki, the best friend of Ensign Diener. He's still hospitalized."
Uhura gave him a sympathetic look. "That's too bad. It must be a severe injury for him to still be hospitalized. Maybe the Starfleet channels will have some more details about it today. They're probably holding off any announcements until the accident investigation has been concluded."
"That should give me more incentive to monitor communications," Chekov smiled, determination obvious on his face.
"One of the more important responsibilities of a communications officer, Ensign, is being aware of the details behind the news, but privacy must be maintained. Don't be tempted to use the communications network to find news on your friend; otherwise you'll be in trouble for violating protocols, especially since this accident appears to be a security issue. Starfleet takes a dim view on trying to access confidential information about its on-going investigations."
"I understand, Lieutenant, and I would never utilize any Starfleet equipment for my personal needs."
"Good. Now, let's get you started."
Immediately after sitting down at the communications station, the young Russian began to familiarize himself with the instrumentation. He quickly learned which command macros Uhura had programmed into her station, and was amazed that those macros weren't already standard features. "Shouldn't this search-passage-query macro be a regular function of the station?"
"You'd think that, but I'm afraid that no one at Starfleet Communications has figured that out yet. I did, however, send a memo to them about it nine months ago. No reply to my suggestion, of course. Trust me; it'll be a couple of years, and then we'll receive a memo requiring us to make that modification to the board."
They chuckled together.
As Communications was not his primary area of study, he was somewhat nervous about handling priority calls, and when one came in for Commander Spock, he wasn't quite sure how to handle it. He did manage to transfer the signal to Spock's station without Uhura's assistance, but it probably took longer than the Vulcan would've liked. Still, nothing like a baptism by fire, the ensign thought to himself.
Luckily for Chekov, the rest of his period of duty was uneventful. The principal communications to the ship were routine messages addressed to members of the crew and general Starfleet directives which were forwarded to the appropriate departments; operations orders which were forwarded to Captain Kirk and Mister Spock; and even a few Federation news digests that he routed to the officers and crew.
"You did fine," the attractive Bantu officer said, as he got up from the chair some five hours later, and she took his place.
"Thanks," he blushed.
"Now head on down to the auxiliary communications monitoring station, and be ready to start sorting starmails."
Chekov took a lift down to Auxiliary Communications. He sat there processing incoming transmissions. About an hour later, Uhura notified him of a message for Diener from Benecki originating from the Starbase 11 infirmary. "I hope it's good news, Ensign."
"Thank you, Ma'am. I'll notify Mister Diener immediately."
He punched the intercom to contact the security station on Deck 5. "Chekov to Diener."
"Security. Diener here." The image of the young security officer filled the priviewer.
"You just got a message from Benecki," Chekov reported. "Shall I forward it to you there?"
"Yes, please. Thanks, Pavel."
"Keep me posted on how he's doing."
"Will do. Diener out."
As Chekov continued to monitor communications, numerous Federation news bulletins arrived, none with news on training cruise accidents. He was interrupted by the sound of pneumatic doors opening to reveal the sight of Diener.
"What's up, Josh?" Chekov swivelled his chair to face his friend.
Diener walked up to the work station where Chekov was stationed and inserted a data chit. "Here's the news from Casey."
After a whirring noise, the image of the blond-haired, blue-eyed midshipman showed on the monitor screen. A Polish-accented voice spoke.
"Josh, I may have told you that I was going on a training cruise over the summer aboard the Wilson. Well halfway to Starbase Eleven, one of the baffle plates on our J-class starship ruptured. I was on duty down in Engineering when it happened. Luckily, Fleet Captain Pike pulled me into an escape pod before I got burned too badly. I guess I'm one of the lucky ones. A number of people in our group died and several were badly injured.
"I've got several burns on my hands, back and face. They've been treated so I'm not in too much pain at the moment, but they say the burns on my back are never going to heal properly, even with skin grafts, since I was exposed to Delta radiation. They want to keep me in the infirmary a couple more weeks for observation. I am so bored here, and they basically have kept me in communications blackout while the investigation was underway. But yesterday, they released the blackout, and have scheduled some sort of news conference tomorrow.
"I've heard that Fleet Captain Pike is seriously hurt, but I don't know for sure. Apparently, after rescuing me and a couple of fellows on duty with me, he kept going back to the accident scene to rescue more cadets and got severely injured. Delta radiation is fiercely destructive to living tissues, and there are some rumors that he may even be dead.
"By the way, give my regards to Pavel Chekov. I recall you once told me that he's serving on the same ship as you. That crazy Russian will be running that ship soon enough, I'm sure. Talk with you again and soon."
Diener turned to Chekov after they listened to the message. "At least Casey's going to be okay."
"True. But what about Captain Pike? If Casey's heard right, Pike is hurt really bad. I remember being introduced to him when I was on a training cruise last year. If I remember correctly, Pike was the last person who commanded this ship."
The security officer shrugged. "Pavel, I got to admit, you know the history of this ship and its captains better than me."
Chekov's face betrayed an "of course" expression. "I know it's unfortunate. Well, I need to get started on the summary report for Lieutenant Uhura. Let's have dinner later if we can."
"Can do," Diener said. "I've got to check all the phasers in the armory on Deck Five to make sure they're at proper charge, and then file a complete report on any and all discrepancies."
Towards the end of the day, Chekov compiled a report on the Starfleet news bulletins, the starmail usage of both officers and crew, and interdepartmental communications. Assuring himself that it was both thorough and accurate, he sent it to Lieutenant Uhura as he was relieved by M'ress.
After getting off duty, Chekov returned to his quarters. Soon, Uhura contacted him, "Let's talk about your report. Are you free in the next few minutes?"
As promised, she arrived at the door to his quarters. When the annunciator sounded, Chekov invited her inside and led her to the nearest guest chair. As she sat down, she smiled. "Chekov, that was a very thorough report. I intend to use it as a model when training other communications officers. We'll upload it to the comm training file; I'll show you how to do that."
"Thanks," the ensign nodded.
"What was the word about your injured friend?"
"Josh got a message from him, saying he's going to be okay. They want to keep him in the infirmary for a few more weeks, but then they'll let him go."
"I'm glad for him at least," Uhura's facial expression showed relief. "Anyway, Ensign, you did a fine job at Communications today. You've made a very good impression on your first duty assignment on the bridge."
"You think so?"
She favored him with a huge grin. "Da, Comrade." She winked at him as she headed out the door. "And Mister Spock thought so, too."
As the door slid closed, she caught a glimpse of the look of astonishment on Chekov's face.
The following day, Chekov served another half day on the bridge where he monitored long range communications. He spent the other half of his shift monitoring the auxiliary communications station and, once again, forwarded Federation news bulletins, general orders and starmails to the appropriate officers, crew and departments.
Reading through the news reports, there was no real news on Captain Pike's injuries other than the fact that he had been hospitalized at Starbase 11. Why there still were no concrete details concerning Captain Pike's injuries, save for more speculation on how seriously he was injured, was a mystery to Chekov. The details of the accident were to be released in the next few days, but specifics of the situation were beginning to leak out.
Chekov and Diener again ate supper together and discussed the situation. Diener's voice displayed his excitement. "I've got some news on Casey. They're letting him out tomorrow, and shipping him back to the Academy infirmary for the length of his hospital stay, but he doesn't even mention Captain Pike."
"That's great to hear about Benecki!"
"And, you know Casey. He's worried about how out of shape he'll be for swimming since he hasn't gone to practice in three months."
"Leave it to Casey to think about swimming," Chekov cracked a smile. "But why no news on Fleet Captain Pike or the Wilson?"
The following day, Chekov was monitoring communications at the Auxiliary communication monitoring station again when the Enterprise changed course. Within an hour, word was going throughout the ship that the Enterprise was journeying back to Starbase 11. First Officer Spock reported that he had received an urgent message from Fleet Captain Pike to divert the ship there.
"Now wait a minute, wasn't Pike supposed to be injured?" Chekov was confused as he and Diener were conversing. "And I don't recall any incoming message this morning from Starbase Eleven."
Diener turned to him. "Sounds like we're about to learn the real story."
Ensign Diener was at the Deck 5 security station when he heard the beep of the intercom. "Diener here."
"This is Security Chief Pitcairn. Report to the bridge at once! You and I are to arrest Mister Spock and escort him to his quarters. He will remain there until his preliminary hearing is to be conducted."
"Aye sir." The young guard clicked off the intercom, armed himself with a phaser and raced towards the nearest turbolift. "Bridge," he ordered as the door closed.
The lift made one stop, letting in Security Chief Pitcairn who was also armed with a phaser. "Chief?" began Diener.
"Belay it, Ensign. I'm not sure what's going on either."
It let them out on the bridge where they arrested Spock and escorted him to his quarters, as it was felt he would make no trouble, in spite of being charged with mutiny. Even as they led Spock away from the bridge, Pitcairn and Diener could hear the frustration of the bridge officers as they futilely tried to override any of the helm and navigation controls that Spock had turned over to the ship's computer.
As the door to Spock's quarters closed, Diener turned to his superior. "Where in the galaxy is Spock trying to take us?"
"I'm not at liberty to tell you." Pitcairn answered pointedly.
The next day, Chekov and Diener were having breakfast in one of the food service areas before reporting for duty. After taking a sip of tea, the Russian turned to his friend, his tone of voice betraying his puzzlement. "This is so strange! Mister Spock always seems to be a stickler for rules."
"That was my impression as well."
"Why would he hijack the ship and kidnap his former captain?"
Diener shook his head. "I don't know. I tried to find out from Pitcairn, but he wouldn't tell me."
"I have really admired Spock since I came on board. I don't know what prompted the sudden change in his behavior."
"From what I could see, he always got along with Captain Kirk." Diener paused, eating a forkful of eggs. His face then lit up. "Pavel, you were on the bridge recently. Did you notice anything unusual?"
Chekov's tone of voice was deadpan. "I didn't notice any arguments between the captain and the first officer, if that's what you mean." The Russian started to sound more animated. "But Commander Spock did receive a Priority One message while I was manning the communications station. I'm wondering if it could be related."
"A definite maybe. In any case, I'll find out more today. They're having a hearing for Spock to see there's enough evidence for a court-martial. I'll be one of the guards on duty there. All the ship's brass will be there, along with Commodore Mendez."
Chief Engineer Scott, who had just finished his morning meal, got up from his seat. The sound of his footsteps temporarily interrupted the conversion between the two young officers who turned around in his direction. The Scot approached the table where Diener and Chekov sat. Being as Diener had recently served a rotation in Engineering, Scott lingered near their table.
"Good morning, lads. How are ye?"
"Doing just fine, sir." Diener smiled.
"I'm doing well also, sir." Chekov greeted the engineer. Then his tone of voice changed, as he sounded slightly scared. "I hope you don't mind me asking you a question."
"Not at all, lad."
"I understand that you served on the Enterprise under Captain Pike."
"Aye, seven years! He was a friend of mine from the Academy, but we'd lost touch until I was assigned here."
"Oh, really?" Chekov's eyes grew saucer wide.
Scott's tone of voice was sad. "It's a real shame about Chris' injuries. He's alive, but being stuck in that wheelchair and unable to communicate, except for yes and no, that's no life. There's nothing more Starfleet Medical can do for him. But it was just like him to risk his life to save all the kids he was teaching. He really loved teaching cadets."
Diener interjected, "One of the injured cadets is a friend of mine who's still at the Academy, Casimir Benecki. He's still in the infirmary, but it looks like he'll be all right."
Scott looked concerned. "I'm sure he's grateful to Captain Pike for saving his life."
Diener nodded. "He certainly is."
Chekov changed the subject. "Forgive me for asking but what was the relationship between Captain Pike and Spock like?"
The Scottish engineer eyed the two younger officers, winking. "While our Mister Spock is a Vulcan who would never admit to emotion, he is also very loyal. If he ever forms a close bond with anyone, he will move galaxies for them, regardless of the cost, even if the cost is his life or his career. Aye, he formed a really close bond with Captain Pike in the time they served together. I would not be at all surprised if he hijacked the Enterprise in search of a possible cure for Pike's injuries."
"Wouldn't surprise me either, even given what little I know about Mister Spock," Chekov agreed.
"You know, that makes sense!" Diener exclaimed. "Mister Spock's looking for a cure for his former captain."
Scott interrupted the conversation. "Lads, it's best I be going now. Mister Diener, I'll be seeing you soon since I understand you'll be on duty there."
After he and Diener finished eating, Chekov once again reported to the auxiliary communications station. His main thoughts were about the potential fate of Commander Spock. Would the decision of the hearing be to court-martial the first officer and, if so, what would be his sentence. There was a further thoughtif this incident ended Spock's Starfleet career, who would take his place as First Officer and, for that matter, as Chief Science Officer?
No doubt that the current chief navigator, Lieutenant Commander Riddle would be promoted to First Officer, and Lieutenant Rodriguez would probably get the science posting.
There was more fuel for speculation as message traffic to the ship had completely disappeared. At first, Chekov had thought that the communications equipment had malfunctioned and placed a call with Lieutenant Uhura. She informed him that she suspected the Enterprise was in a communications blackout, probably at Starfleet Command's order, and for him not to worry about it. So he spent the rest of the shift dealing with making sure the crew's private messaging system didn't overload from all the messages flying across the ship. "Every one must be talking about Spock and his possible fate." Chekov thought to himself as he continued to monitor messages. He was sorely tempted to impart what he knew into the chatter, but knew that his position as an officer would be imperiled if he violated the privacy protocols.
He noticed an incoming transmission from an indeterminate source, logged it, and allowed it through. It was being directed into the briefing room where the trial was taking place, and Chekov deduced it had something to do with the matter.
What exactly, he had no idea, but that wasn't his business anyway.
A short time later, he relieved Uhura on the bridge for lunch. During his time on the bridge at the communications station, he learned that the Enterprise was headed towards planet Talos IV and the computer controls could not be disengaged until the ship reached that destination. Chekov knew nothing about the significance of that world, except that Starfleet forbad contact with it, under pain of death. The forbidden planet, the young Russian thought to himself.
Due to protocols of confidentiality, he could not ask Diener or any other witnesses about the court-martial proceedings for Spock until the verdict was rendered, and as a communications officer, he couldn't offer what he had learned into their conversations.
He sighed deeply, hoping that soon, all would be resolved.
Indicators came to life without warning, and Chekov noted an incoming transmission from Starfleet Command that Uhura handled and relayed to the briefing room. More evidence, or a directive to the captain?
Suddenly, Uhura interrupted his thoughts. "Ensign, this ship is receiving a communication from an outside source that I cannot identify. Are you reading it?"
"Affirmative, Lieutenant," Chekov answered. "There's a signal coming in."
"Can you identify its source?"
"Triangulating on the signal...yes, ma'am. It's coming in from the Talos star system." Uh-oh, he thought. I should have done this earlier.
"Can you jam it?"
He flicked a few switches. "Jamming, ma'am."
"Stand-by," came Uhura's voice. A moment later, she was back. "It's still coming through, Ensign. I'm sending Lieutenants M'ress and Palmer to assist you."
"Sorry, ma'am," he said, feeling woefully inadequate since he was unable to comply with Uhura's instructions.
"Don't worry about it, Ensign. I'm not sure they'll be able to do anything about it either. I haven't been able to block it from up here. It's like it's not even really there, but it must be!"
Meanwhile, Diener was a first-hand witness to the hearing on Commander Spock. The proceedings were unlike most any court-martial he'd heard of. The only testimony' was being received broadcast on the briefing room monitor. A short time into the transmission, it was learned that the signal had come from an interdicted planet, and Captain Kirk was summarily relieved of command!
Shocked, Diener was only vaguely aware of the orders being issued by Commodore Mendez to take Spock to the brig. Pitcairn and Diener escorted the Vulcan down the corridor. "Chief, those images! They're from"
Security Chief Pitcairn snapped at the ensign. "Son, I've got to remind you that you are not to discuss what we've seen in the courtroom to anybody outside. I know you have a lot of friends both in and out of security, and it might be tempting to talk about the case. But if I find you've blabbed any details, you'll find yourself in a cell next to Mister Spock here."
Spock said nothing, of course, but for some reason, Diener felt sure that the Vulcan tacitly approved Pitcairn's reprimand.
When the recess was over, Diener returned with Mister Spock to the briefing room where the court-martial reconvened. Commodore Mendez read the charges, and asked the first officer to enter his plea on each count. "How do you plead to the charge of unlawfully taking command?"
"Guilty," Spock replied.
"Of sabotaging the computers of this vessel and locking it on a course for planet Talos Four?"
"Guilty," he answered again.
"And of forcibly attempting to transport Captain Pike to that planet?" asked Mendez.
The monitor on the briefing room wall came to life.
"Turn that damn thing off!" Mendez snapped at Diener. The hapless security guard tried to turn the screen off, but had no effect.
Mendez turned to Spock. "Starfleet has ordered no contact with Talos Four. They made no exceptions."
"You have no choice, sir," the Vulcan answered. "I'm sorry." To Pike, he explained, "The keeper has taken control of our screen. Do you understand, sir?"
The communications light on the wheelchair of the horribly scarred Pike blinked "Yes."
"As you saw before, Captain Pike had been knocked unconscious and captured by the Talosians..."
As the events unfolded on the monitor screen, Diener watched with interest of Pike's encounters with the Talosians, of the green animal woman, of Vina.
After a time, the screen went blank.
Mendez was bemused. "Seems the Talosians have deserted you."
Spock turned, beseeching them. "Gentlemen, a moment, please."
"Well, Mister Spock?" The question hung in the air.
"May I have your verdict?" asked Mendez to Pike.
"Signal you want them to wait. Captain, please," Spock urged his crippled, former captain. "It's your life now...at least a chance for life."
Kirk spoke softly. "You keep talking about life, a chance for life. How? As a prisoner, caged, a zoo specimen, living the illusions that amuse his keepers?"
"No, Captain," Spock objected. "There's more to it. Watch."
"Guilty, yes or no, Captain?" Mendez insisted.
Pike's wheel chair beeped once.
"Yes," the commodore interpreted unnecessarily. "I must also vote guilty as charged. And you, Captain?"
Kirk stared at Spock. "Guilty...as charged."
Diener felt a chill in his body. Oh my God! This means that Commander Spock will get the death penalty if we reach Talos Four!
"Bridge to commander," came Lieutenant Hanson's voice over the intercom. It was filled with concern.
"Mendez here," the commodore replied.
"Sir, we're entering orbit Talos Four."
Mendez pressed an acknowledged button, and grimly closed the connection.
Spock turned to the men who had just found him guilty. "Talos controls the vessel now, sir, as they did thirteen years ago," he said to Spock. "You've asked me why. You'll see the answer now," he said to Kirk and Mendez.
Diener and the other officers watched in amazement as the monitor again came to life, resuming the saga of Captain Pike's mission to Talos IV, reaching the conclusion of the mission when Pike was returned to his ship and Vina chose to remain behind.
At its conclusion, the monitor faded to black. Captain Kirk, studying the face of his first officer, turned to Mendez. "Commodore, don't you think that"
At this point, Commodore Mendez disappeared and the voice of the Talosian Keeper addressed Captain Kirk as his image appeared on the monitor.
What you now seem to hear, Captain Kirk, are my thought transmissions. The commodore was never aboard your vessel. His presence there and in the shuttlecraft was an illusion. Mister Spock had related to us your strength of will. It was thought the fiction of a court-martial would divert you from too soon regaining control of your vessel.
Captain Pike is welcome to spend the rest of his life with us, unfettered by his physical body. The decision is yours...and his.
The Keeper smiled, and the screen faded.
Captain Kirk stepped to his first officer. "Mister Spock, even if regulations are explicit, you could have come to me and explained."
The Vulcan was steadfast. "Ask you to face the death penalty, too? One of us was enough, Captain."
The bosun's whistle filled the briefing room, and Kirk snapped on the intercom. "Yes?"
Uhura's filtered voice now came through. "Message from Starbase Eleven, sir: Received images from Talos Four. In view of historic importance of Captain Pike in space exploration, GeneraI Order Seven prohibiting contact with Talos Four is suspended this occasion. No action contemplated against Spock. Proceed as you think best. Signed, Mendez, J. I., Commodore, Starbase Eleven."
Everyone in the room breathed a sign of relief. Spock was not going to be executed after all. Diener could see from their facial expressions that Captain Kirk and Scotty were greatly relieved. Spock, as an unemotional Vulcan, looked as impassive as ever.
Kirk stepped to Pike's motorized chair. "Chris...do you want to go there?"
There was a single beep, and gratitude filled the eyes of the horribly burned man.
The captain turned to his first officer. "Mister Spock...would you care to take Captain Pike to the transporter room...see him off?"
"Thank you, sir. For both of us." Spock headed toward the door, pushing the chair with his former captain.
"Uh, Mister Spock, when you're finished, I want to talk to you. This regrettable tendency you've been showing lately towards flagrant emotionalism"
"I see no reason to insult me, sir. I believe I've been completely logical about the whole affair."
Diener looked toward Pitcairn who looked toward Kirk. The captain nodded for them to accompany Spock and Pike. As the doors closed behind them, Diener heard the Keeper's "voice."
Captain Kirk...Captain Pike has an illusion, and you have reality. May you find your way as pleasant.
As they made their way down the corridor to the nearest transporter room, Pitcairn and Diener cleared the way. Chekov walked into one of the corridor junctions, and before he could step out of the way, the first officer addressed him. "Ensign, if you will assist me with Fleet Captain Pike."
"Of course, sair." He favored Pike with a look of gratitude. His sacrifice had saved the life of Casey Benecki and those of many other cadets. Not knowing what to say, the ensign patted the fleet captain on the shoulder and whispered, "On behalf of a friend, sir, I want to thank you for the sacrifice you made. You have made a difference, and that is something that I will never forget."
"Nor I," added Diener.
When they arrived at the transporter room, it took all three of them to lift the chair onto the platform as Spock moved behind the console, bringing it to life.
"Standing by to energize, Captain Pike."
With the faintest of nods of his head, Spock thrust the levels forward. Chekov, Diener and even crusty old Pitcairn snapped to attention as the crippled man dematerialized.
With Spock's court-martial over and the U.S.S. Enterprise journeying away from Talos IV, routines slowly reverted back to normal. Pavel Chekov had just gone on duty at the Auxiliary Communications station and was scanning messages.
Josh Diener stood to one side of him. "Pavel, it looks like my next rotational assignment will be in communications so I thought I'd hang around here to get some pointers."
Chekov swiveled his chair closer to Diener. "You have heard of old Russians proverb: All's well that ends well.'"
Diener contradicted him. "No, that was William Shakespeare, from his play in 1602."
Chekov countered, a smile gracing his face, "Then again, Shakespeare borrowed that proverb from the Russians."
Diener gave Chekov a look of disbelief. He was about to point out that the premise of the play was probably Italian in origin, but let the matter drop. But not quite completely. "You know, from what I hear, the Klingons are claiming that Shakespeare was a Klingon."
They laughed at the notion.
Suddenly, Chekov's tone of voice became more serious. "Things have worked out well for Commander Spock. You know, I believe that executing Spock for going to Talos Four sounds a bit extreme. It's not like he was murdering anyone by going there."
"Starfleet believes that mastery of the Talosian power of illusion would be too dangerous, so they would like to remove the possibility of temptation and, thus, have forbidden anyone to go there."
"But Spock has certainly proved his loyalty. As Chief Engineer Scott pointed out earlier this week, he will do whatever it takes to help his friends and associates, including Captain Pike."
"He felt that bringing Captain Pike back to Talos Four would be a better life than living as a cripple elsewhere."
Diener favored him with a grin. "All yet seems well, and if it end so meet, The bitter past, more welcome is the sweet.'"
And before the young Russian could claim his country gave rise to those words of the Bard as well, Josh Diener darted out of Auxiliary Communications into the corridor beyond.
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This story can be found in printed form in Antares 17.
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