“Rihannsu Warbird decloaking at 118 mark 12,” the excited voice of Lieutenant Jenkins called out from the Science Station. “They’re powering up their disrupters!”
“That makes six,” Mark Adams at Navigation took note, “We’re surrounded!”
Demora Sulu, manning the helm of the Enterprise, took a brief second to glance up from the tactical display in front of her and shot a look of incredulity at the officer sitting to her right. In the days her father had sat in the same position she now held, most of that time had been spent with her “Uncle” Pavel at his side. She had the misfortune to be saddled with this idiot.
“Like we weren’t pretty much surrounded when the third Warbird had come out of hiding,” she thought scornfully, “or the two Birds of Prey before that.”
“Chief Engineer reports damage to the main energizer,” said Pierce at Communications, “another hit like the last one and we’re going to lose the warp core containment fields.”
“Then we either jettison the warp core or we go up like a nova,” Anthony Yeager completed Pierce’s thought from the Captain’s chair. “Not much of a choice,” he added, seeing that they weren’t going to last sixty seconds against that force out there without warp power. Even with it, the odds of them lasting much longer than that were growing greater by the moment.
The Enterprise had been patrolling the edge of the treaty zone and responded to a distress call from within. Too late they discovered that it was an ambush.
“The Romulans are making another run,” Adams reported using the old human term for their adversaries, a strong sense of fear in his voice.
“Sulu...” Yeager called out, a supplication mixed with prayer.
The second-generation helmsman’s face held a serious grin as her hands danced across her controls with an artistic flair. The awesome power of the dying starship replied to her command, sending triple spreads of photon torpedoes across the darkness, interlaced with deadly streams of phasers.
The structure of the ship groaned in protest as it spun into a series of near impossible maneuvers in response to her bidding. With all the speed the engine room could deliver, the Enterprise pressed forward into the empty gap that her weapons had just blasted open. If the luck of her heritage held, they might still have a chance.
But there are times when even luck isn’t enough as the closest Warbird and Bird of Prey exploded into fiery hulks, only to have two other Warbirds avenge their deaths as multiple salvo’s ripped through the Enterprise’s shields.
With the bridge exploding around her, Demora held her position, trying to coax just one more shot out of the phasers, hoping to will one last photon out of the torpedo tubes. A final effort that proved futile as screens and consoles went dark all over the bridge as the Enterprise died.
“Well, that wasn’t much fun,” Mark Adams said, as he broke the loud silence that had descended on the dimly lit bridge.
Demora desperately wanted to hit her classmate, preferably with something heavy enough to pierce his thick skull. Her fantasy was interrupted, however, as the even larger fantasy around her ended. The lights of the fictitious starship grew to their normal intensity and a section of the wall gave way, allowing the senior officer who was observing the exercise to step onto the bridge.
As uncomfortable as losing the battle had been, Demora had the impression that the debriefing and critique that followed was going to be more so. It was going to be a very long afternoon.
“You could’ve at least warned me,” Demora said to the tall Lieutenant walking along the shoreline with her. “Then I might’ve been better prepared.”
“It is not a test of preparedness, rather one of character,” her companion, a tall dark haired woman dressed in a Lieutenant’s uniform, replied. “As such, one must enter it without any advance knowledge of the scenario.”
“Well at least tell me one thing,” the newly commissioned Ensign asked, “did you do any better?”
Saavik paused for a moment, her thoughts drifting from their walk alongside San Francisco Bay back to her own encounter with the Kobayashi Maru. Even now, she still remembered making all the right logical decisions, yet still failing to rescue the trapped fuel carrier or to save her ship.
Standing amid the wreckage of her test command, she had protested to then Admiral Kirk that it had been an unfair test. After all, she had reasoned, there had been no way to win. He had responded that a no-win scenario was a possibility that every Commander might face and asked if that had ever occurred to her?
When, in her youthful arrogance, she had said that it certainly had not. The veteran Starship Commander had simply smiled that famous grin of his and said that now she had something new to think about. And think about it she had, about that and so many other things in her life.
As a young child, she had spent the first third of her life on Thieurrull, a failed Rihannsu colony. The daughter of unknown parents, Vulcan and Rihannsu, she had been abandoned along with the rest of the half-breed children to survive on their own or die.
Salvation had come in the form of a team of Vulcans sent to explore the world they knew as T’Vorus. The leader of that expedition, a Starfleet officer named Spock, saw something worth saving in the street urchin who introduced herself with an armed attack on his person.
She had spent the second third of her life as the adopted daughter of Ambassador Sarek of Vulcan and T’Sai Amanda, Commander Spock’s natural parents. Devoting herself to the discipline of d’Vel’nahr, Vulcan by choice, she became as the saying went, more Vulcan than Vulcans. Following the example of her savior now turned mentor, she had followed the path that led to Starfleet Academy.
In the most recent third of her life, the daughter of two worlds had finally come to terms with her dual heritage. No longer ashamed of the circumstances of her birth, she celebrated what was the best of each.
“Earth to Saavik,” Demora laughed as she waived her hand to get her friend’s attention, “come in Saavik.”
Snapping out of the brief journey through her memories, Saavik recalled the question that prompted that trip.
“No, I didn’t do any better,” she said. the faintest of smiles forming at the corner of her mouth.
“Well, if no one ever wins,” Demora replied, her own smile much more evident. “I don’t feel as bad.”
Saavik was about to correct her error, then thought better of it. Knowing that one Cadet had actually beaten the no-win scenario would immediately send her back to the simulators to try and duplicate his performance. Instead she moved the conversation in a more pleasant direction.
“Now that you have taken the Kobayashi Maru scenario, you are officially done with the Academy, are you not?” she said.
“That’s right,” Demora exclaimed, her broad grin growing even brighter as she realized what that might mean for the two of them.
After an extended absence from Starfleet, Saavik had returned to the Academy as an instructor earlier in the year. A former shipmate of her Father’s, Saavik had made it a point to meet Demora and offer her best wishes. They found themselves spending more and more time together and soon became friends. To at least one of them, it was a friendship that was more than just friendship.
Still, technically, Saavik was one of Demora’s teachers and Demora felt that as long as that continued, there had to be some limits to their relationship. Now that Demora’s commission was official, those barriers no longer existed. A fact that had been forgotten by the young Asian woman in all of her concern over the final training simulation.
“We have to celebrate,” the shorter woman continued.
“I had assumed that you would be attending the Cadet Party tonight to celebrate with your classmates,” Saavik replied. “You have much to be proud of.”
“I’d rather celebrate with you,” Demora replied.
“I think you would be better served if you went to the party,” Saavik said. “It would not be proper to ignore your classmates.”
When Demora considered the idea for a few moments, she realized that Saavik was right. Years from now, when she encountered her friends, she didn’t want to be remembered as the one who was too stuck up to show up for the traditional graduation bash.
It had been a long path to the Academy for Demora as well. Like Saavik, her own childhood was far from ordinary. The daughter of Susan Ling, she didn’t learn until the death of her mother that she was also the daughter of Hikaru Sulu, a rising star in Starfleet. The appearance of a seven-year-old child came as a surprise to the helmsman of the Enterprise as well, seeing as he had only known Susan for a brief time years before.
Still Demora, named after the city where Hikaru and Susan had been lovers, was loved no less by her father than she had been by her mother. Turning down his chance to be First Officer of the Bozeman, he had instead requested an Earth bound assignment for a few years in order to be a proper parent to his child.
A task of love in which he was assisted by Pavel Chekov, a friend who became Demora’s godfather in fact if not in name, and Janice Rand, another old friend who provided a woman’s influence when needed. By the time the elder Sulu did return to space, this time as the Captain of the Excelsior, his daughter had grown into a young woman and begun her own path to the stars.
A few hours later, the graduation party was in full swing. The Starfleet Class of 2293 were now officially members of the Fleet. Only one out of every ten who started at the Academy made it all the way through, so the young men and women that filled the banquet hall did indeed have reason to celebrate.
“Demora,” the tall redhead called out across the crowded floor, trying to catch the attention of her roommate.
Pushing her way through the crowd, she finally caught up to the black haired Asian woman she had been searching for. Throwing her arms around Demora, Kathy Stanton gave her friend a congratulatory hug.
“I just saw the ship assignment’s on the Net,” Kathy said excitedly, “You got the Enterprise!”
Demora smiled, the same infectious grin she had inherited from her father. She had known about her assignment for the past few days. Starfleet Command was very specific that each Cadet received and acknowledged their orders before they were posted for public consumption.
“And you are going to Starbase Nine,” Demora replied.
“Well we all can’t be lucky enough to be posted to the newest ship in the Fleet,” Kathy replied, “but I know you got there on your own. So I’m only a little jealous.”
When she first received her orders to report aboard the new Enterprise as helmsman, Demora worried that some of her classmates would consider it nepotism. After all, hadn’t her father had held that position for many years on both previous versions of the Enterprise under James T. Kirk? She was glad that at least her best friend of these past few years didn’t take it as that.
“When do you ship out?” Kathy asked.
“I report aboard next week, but they’re not going to launch her until the end of the month,” Demora answered. “I hear that Starfleet is going to make a big show of it all.”
“Well Harriman has some pretty big shoes to fill,” Kathy commented. “April, Pike, Kirk, Spock. I wouldn’t want to be in his place.”
“I’d like to remind you that’s my Captain you’re talking about,” Demora said, already defending her new superior officer.
“I just meant that it’s hard enough to be the Captain of a new ship, without the weight of history on your shoulders as well,” the redhead offered in way of apology. “Especially after today’s announcement.”
A quizzical look appeared on Demora’s face. It was obvious that she hadn’t heard what Kathy was referring to.
“They’ve invited Captain Kirk and a few other members of his Command Crew to the launch of the Enterprise B,” she explained. “Talk about adding even more pressure on Harriman.”
Demora spent a few brief moments thinking about the announcement. Despite her father’s half lifetime of service under Kirk, she had actually only met him once when she was a child. Still, she knew the legends that followed Kirk well enough through the media as well as countless letters from her father over the years. It was a legend that Harriman would indeed be hard pressed to live up to.
“I’m sure Captain Harriman will be up to the challenge,” she finally replied. “I hope,” she silently added to herself, remembering her father once making reference to John Harriman as owing his advancement more to Starfleet politics than ability. Since Hikaru Sulu rarely uttered a negative opinion about any of his fellow officers, that casual comment said a lot.
“Anyway,” Kathy said, snapping Demora’s attention back to the present. “A bunch of us are planning to take a shuttle down to San Pablo after the party, interested?”
“Maybe another time,” Demora said, a faraway look on her face for a second. “I’ve got plans.”
“Oh no,” Kathy said with exasperation. “You’re not going down that road again are you? Haven’t you figured it out by now that it’s a dead end?”
The newly commissioned Ensign just shrugged her shoulders in response. They’d had this conversation more than a few times in the last few months.
“Five thousand people at this school and you have to fall in love with a Vulcan!” Kathy said, hard pressed to keep her voice low. “When are you going to realize that she’s never going to reciprocate your feelings.”
“I can always hope,” Demora admitted.
“Well,” Kathy said as she glanced at her chronometer. “I have to meet the others. If you wind up needing a shoulder to cry on again, I’m only a communicator call away.”
Demora watched her friend disappear into the now dwindling crowd and then caught a glimpse of her and some classmates heading out the door. An hour from now, they’d be continuing the party down in San Pablo, far from the watchful eyes of the Academy facility.
The party here was definitely winding down as small groups like Kathy’s left for other locales. Not wanting to be the last to leave, the daughter of one of Starfleet’s finest quietly made her own way out one of the side doors.
Despite the lateness of the hour, Demora knew where the object of her thoughts would be. It had become Saavik’s practice to meditate late at night on the observation lounge overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge. It was normally deserted this time of night.
As the double glass doors to the lounge opened at her approach, Demora was surprised to find the lounge empty. She had been so sure that Saavik would’ve been there. Stepping into the large room, she stood for a moment and looked up into the clear star filled sky.
“Kathy might be right after all,” Demora considered as automatically looked to the spot she knew Enterprise now orbited. “Maybe I am wasting my time.”
In the four months since she had become infatuated with her career advisor, the twenty-four year old had made no attempt to keep that interest from the older woman. Older being a relative term, Demora reminded herself. By human measures, her advisor was a decade older, yet by Vulcan standards was considered barely out of her formative years.
Yet despite her interest, the relationship the two of them shared never varied a millimeter out of proper bounds. Oh they’d shared hours in discussions on topics they both enjoyed, as well as field trips to points of interest in the area. Yet in all that time, Demora had never heard a single word that might speak of love.
“Maybe this is her way of letting me down easy,” Demora thought as she walked out of the semi-dark room. “I never wanted to consider that I was the only one who wanted to take this to another level.”
Since she had already moved out of the Academy Dormitory, Demora headed into the city to the apartment she shared with her father. With him off world these past few years, it had pretty much become just hers.
The apartment door slid open in response to her voice print. The walk in the night air hadn’t done anything to improve her mood. She blamed only herself. After all, who told her to fall in love with a Vulcan. Hadn’t her father told her often enough about the futile torch Christine Chapel had carried for Mr. Spock for so many years on their first five-year mission.
“Computer, lights,” Demora said as she suddenly realized that they hadn’t automatically come on when she had first entered.
The room remained dark, illuminated only by the outside lights filtering through the large bay windows. Reaching for the manual wall control, the young woman found that inoperable as well.
“It doesn’t matter,” she said silently to herself, “I’ll call building maintenance in the morning. All I want to do right now is sleep.”
Having spent over a decade living in an apartment that never changed, Demora effortlessly navigated across it in the dark. Turning the handle to her bedroom, she was surprised to find that room at least was well lit.
It was a light, however, that didn’t come from the overhead panels. Instead it came from literally a hundred small, scented candles scattered across the room. The room smelled of cinnamon, her favorite aroma. It only took her a brief heartbeat to take it all in. A span of time she knew to be just a heartbeat because she was certain her heart stopped after that.
“Blessed Mother!” Demora exclaimed as she looked to the center of the room and saw the most wonderful sight she could’ve ever imagined.
“I was beginning to wonder if you would ever come home,” the tall dark haired woman in the green, translucent gown said.
“Saavik!?” Demora said, the name both statement and question.
“I would hope that you weren’t expecting someone else,” the now out of uniform Starfleet instructor said as she slid off the bed and moved to Demora.
“Of course not,” Demora quickly said, her eyes taking in the beauty that had so long been hidden by a Starfleet uniform.
“That is good,” Saavik smiled. “I would be most distressed to think that I had misread your desire for a closer relationship these past months. A desire that I have also shared I must confess.”
“Oh, Saavik,” Demora replied breathlessly, as she realized that her hopes hadn’t been in vain. “I do love you.”