DISCLAIMER: The Star Trek characters are the property of Paramount Studios, Inc. The story contents are the creation and property of Cheree Cargill and is copyright (c) 2000 by Cheree Cargill. This story is Rated PG-13.


Cheree Cargill

Stardate: 1318.9. Science Officer Spock recording.

Gary Mitchell is dead.

And suddenly I am the First Officer. It is not a position I wish to fill. I was content with my post as head of the science division. I do not seek a command position but it seems my only other choice is to resign. I have even less desire to do that. Where would I go? The Enterprise has been my home for the past thirteen years. It is a logical progression in my career in Starfleet and, thus, logical that I accept it.

We are in spacedock at Star Base 11 for a fast refit on sections of the ship as well as crew replacement. I am in charge of both. Mr. Mitchell would have handled this job but now it is mine. I did not like the man personally, but he was an efficient officer. He came aboard with Captain Kirk, his hand-picked choice for his executive officer. They had been friends for many years and obviously enjoyed the camaraderie of their long acquaintance.

I did not wish to see Captain Pike leave. Number One and Dr. Boyce went with him, as well as many other crewmates whom I had grown to know over the years. I feel as if half my limbs have been torn from me and I have gone mind-blind in the bargain. The familiar hum of minds and voices of my ship-board family is gone and I have only begun to grow acquainted with those who replaced them.

In a show of passive protest, I shut myself off from this new Captain and wrapped myself in complete Vulcan decorum. He is different from the Captain ... from Captain Pike, I mean. Younger, more open, with an obvious sense of humor that he doesn't mind displaying. I can feel him reaching out to me but I must be sure before I lower any of my barriers. He must earn my loyalty.

Slowly, I grow to like and trust him, however. I feel that he is honest and brave, the perfect man for this job. Except for Mitchell. Mitchell was like the half-molted skin of an old life, clinging perniciously to him and refusing to drop away. Worse, Kirk did not even realize it until this last mission in which Mitchell and eleven others died.

Twelve dead. It is a fearful count and I sense that Captain Kirk has taken it hard. It is the first time since he took command that any of the crew has been lost. Now, twelve ... and one of them his best friend and first officer. I grieve for him. I want to comfort him but I do not yet know how.

I was surprised when he wanted me to take Mitchell's place. He does not know me. Not in the way he knew Mitchell. But I overheard him arguing for me, stating his case to Starfleet Command. I was not supposed to hear it. No human would have. But he was in Briefing Room 3 and I was next door in Room 4, working on the crew replacement roster, and the bulkheads are not that thick.

"I want him," I heard Kirk say forcefully. "He's the best man for the job."

"Jim, we're not sure about this," said another man's voice, the filtered quality leading me to surmise that it was Admiral Komack, our regional commander. "We think another man would be better."

"I don't. He's familiar with the ship and the majority of the crew, he's unbelievably efficient, he's simply irreplaceable."

"We don't propose to replace him, Jim. We agree with you that he should stay on the ship, but not as First Officer."

"He's been here since he left the Academy, Mark," the Captain answered. "He could run this ship blindfolded. He knows every square inch of her."

"Granted, but..."

"It's time he had this position and you know it."

"Jim, it's just that..."

"What?" There was a steel edge to Kirk's voice and I stopped what I was doing, listening despite my best intentions not to eavesdrop.

"Well... Goddammit, Jim, you're going to force me to say it, aren't you? All right. We don't think a Vulcan is right for the job."

For a moment there was icy silence, then Kirk answered, "I see. I never had you pegged for a bigot, Mark, but I guess I was wrong."

"Now, Jim..."

"There used to be all sorts of words you could substitute for Vulcan, you know. We don't think a Jew is right for the job. We don't think a black is right for the job. We don't think a woman is right for the job." Kirk was furious. I could hear it in his voice. It surprised me that a human would feel that way about me.

"Jim, I don't want this to get ugly," Komack broke in, angry himself.

"It's gotten ugly!" Kirk shot back. "You hear me good, Mark, because I'm only going to say this once. Mr. Spock is the finest officer on this ship, maybe in the Fleet, and I want him as my second in command! I don't give a damn what planet he's from or how pointed his ears are! I want him promoted to Lieutenant Commander and assigned as First Officer of this ship. Before we leave spacedock! Or you can damn well have my resignation on your desk and find yourself a new boy to captain this crate!"

There was silence and I sat rigid, scarcely breathing, lest I miss the Admiral's reply. After a very long time, Komack's voice spoke, defeated. "Very well, Jim. Have it your way. But remember that it's under protest that I send through this recommendation. I don't think he can hack it. Vulcans just don't have the balls to command a military ship. They're pacifists and will cave in at the first sign of trouble."

"No offense intended, Admiral," Kirk replied coldly, "but you're a damned idiot. I suggest you talk with Chris Pike and find out how many times Spock has 'caved in' during the past thirteen years. I can't think of a finer man to have at my back."

"I just hope you don't turn around one day and find him gone," Komack said ominously.

"Don't lose any sleep over it, Admiral. Kirk out."

I found myself sitting with both eyebrows raised in total befuddlement. Never in my wildest dreams would I have expected such a move from this new captain. Humans simply did not act that way, in my experience. I was about to return to my work on the personnel roster when the shipwide intercraft whistled.

"Captain to Mr. Spock." It wasn't a direct link. He didn't know I was next door to him.

I tapped the intercom switch. "Spock here."

"Can you see me in Briefing Room 3, Mr. Spock?"

"On my way, sir." I waited a moment longer before I rose and went next door. I did not want him to know that I had overheard his conversation. And I did my best to act surprised when he put the question to me. I did not have to stretch myself much to do so.

So now I stand in the transporter room, greeting the new crewmembers that are coming on board. There are three humans who have materialized on the pad, a man and two women. First to step down is the new communications officer, a petite, lovely African woman who smiles and hands me her transfer orders. "Lt. Nyota Uhura, reporting for duty, sir."

"Welcome aboard, Lieutenant. I am Lt. Commander Spock, the first officer," I say in reply and in turn hand her the wafer containing her quarters assignment and other pertinent information. "This will give you all the immediate information you will need."

The man steps forward next. He is of middle years, with a pleasant lined face and blue eyes that are forthright and honest. "Leonard McCoy," he says. "New CMO."

"Dr. McCoy," I acknowledge. "I believe you will find all in order. Dr. Piper kept a tidy sick bay."

"No doubt, but I'll see for myself," McCoy answers, pinning me with his direct gaze. He pauses for a moment then asked, "Do you mind if I ask you a question?"

I look up at him, meeting his eyes, assent evident in my silence.

"You are a Vulcanian, aren't you?" the doctor asks.

"Affirmative. I prefer Vulcan, by the way. And I am half-human," I reply.

"Really? Mother or father?"

"My mother is human," I answer but then cut him off. "You may access my file in the medical library, Doctor. This is not the place to discuss my personal background."

McCoy draws back, clearly offended. His face hardens and his eyes grow cold. "Thank you, Mr. Spock. I shall review your file along with the rest of the crew once I have settled in."

I do not answer but hand him his assignment chip. I turn my attention to the other woman. She is a tall blonde with dark blue eyes, not classically beautiful but something about her attracts me. I cannot say what it might be. "Lieutenant?" I prompt.

"Oh, I'm sorry, sir. Lt. Christine Chapel, R.N., reporting for duty." She hands over her orders.

I glance at them. "You are Dr. McCoy's assistant?"

"Yes, Mr. Spock. I've been assigned as head nurse." Her voice is husky and a hesitant smile plays nervously at the corners of her mouth. I look back up and my eyes meet hers. She seems to be drinking in my appearance. For a split second, it unnerves me, then I recover myself.

"Welcome aboard, Lieutenant. Here is your cabin assignment. It is a pleasure to have the three of you aboard. If you will come with me, I will guide you to your quarters. Your shift assignments are on the wafers. We will be in spacedock for another 47 hours, which should give you ample time to familiarize yourself with the ship and your duties. Come with me, please."

I lead them from the transporter room and toward the turbolift. As we walk I realize that I have already begun to settle into my own new post. I cannot explain it, but I feel comfortable and relaxed, as if this were a position I have waited all my life to achieve. And something about the crew that is taking shape feels right, too. I hope my instincts are correct about that. We have five years ahead of us during which we must work as a team and live as a family.

I feel confident as we enter the turbolift and I instruct the computer, "Deck 5. Senior Officers' quarters."