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Fic: Observations, Ch 71
Star Trek
anon_j_anon

“Ready, Lt. Uhura?”

“Yes, captain.”

“Okay, remember, if anything, anything at all goes south, I want you to get the hell out of there or give command of the team over to Spock. This is supposed to be routine. No one dies.”

“I’ve got it, Jim.”

“And if you can, try to play it close to the Starfleet rule book.”

I raised my eyebrows at Jim. He rolled his eyes.

“Don’t say it,” he ordered. “I’m on the fence about this as it is. My gut’s telling me something’s gonna go wrong because it always fucking goes wrong.”

“Jim, we’ll be fine. I’ll bring everyone back in one piece—you don’t need to worry,” Nyota said soothingly.

“Call in every hour.”

“Yes, dad,” she laughed. Nyota moved off the transporter pad towards the captain. “I know what I’m doing. Between you and Spock, you’ve trained me really well.” She placed her hand on the captain’s arm and squeezed, then made direct eye contact. “So don’t worry. Besides, kupoteya njia ndiyo kujua njia. If I get lost, I’ll just learn the way.”

Jim’s face softened and his body relaxed. “Spock?”

“Jim.”

“You already know what I’m gonna say.”

“Affirmative, captain.”

“Good. Don’t be late for dinner,” he smiled. “Scotty—energize.”

--

Since the captain’s decision to broaden Nyota’s responsibilities and begin to train her as a commanding officer, she has accompanied either Jim, myself, or the two of us on a total of four away missions. She has piloted the ship under our supervision on several occasions, though she has not yet taken the conn. While it is too early to make any conclusive statements concerning her future competence as a commander, our sessions together strongly indicate that she will be a steady, solid commanding officer. She does not have the sheer nova-like brilliance of Jim, but compared to those officers that Starfleet graduates, she would be ranked in the top 90th percentile.

This will be the first time that she leads an away team. Jim has decided to remain on the ship while I observe Nyota’s actions in the field, and in case any dire situation arise. We are investigating the planet Formata, an uninhabited Class M planet. Scans and Starfleet records have noted an especially wide range of life forms and a unique biodiversity. We have been ordered to collect various samples and simply explore the planet to see if we might learn of the source of the planet’s unusual fertility. Starfleet is also looking to export certain plants to Vulcan II, as investigations in their lab reveal startling similarities between the plants native to Vulcan and those found on Formata. This fact is particularly strange as Formata’s climate does not resemble that of Vulcan, yet the evolutionary paths of Formic plants must have followed similar trajectories.

The Away Team includes Lt. Sulu, who was overflowing with enthusiasm to sample the flora of the planet. Jim originally did not include Lt. Sulu in the team roster, but apparently the lieutenant promised Lt. Griffin several bottles of alcohol and recreation room credits to take his place on the team. When Jim learned of this, he simply added Lt. Sulu to the roster in addition to Lt. Griffin, joking that he should, “auction off Away Team slots, and probably make a shitload of money.” I pointed out that some missions would likely be extremely unpopular, and he would have to provide compensation to obtain volunteers.

“Nah. I’d just order people. Benefits of bein’ a captain.”

Training Nyota has become a source of great satisfaction for the captain and he is surprisingly apt at the task, in his own way. Jim does not teach as I had at the Academy. Like everything he does, he takes a hands-on approach. The relationship between Jim and Nyota may not be categorized as a traditional interaction between student and teacher. I would liken it to the old pre-Warp Terran system of guilds, where Jim is the master of his craft and Nyota is the apprentice. In all honesty, I know of no better person from which to learn the art of leading a Starfleet vessel than James Tiberius Kirk. He does not demand that Nyota emulate his own inimitable style, nor does he teach strictly by the Starfleet manual. Jim encourages Nyota to find her own strengths and weaknesses, to be aware of them, and to effectively use them.

“You’ve got to be in control of yourself first, before you can order around a giant ship and all the people in it. I learned that the hard way,” his glanced at me sideways. “But I had the best crew to catch me when I fell, and call me out when I was being stupid.”

That is not to say that the relationship between Jim and Nyota is without its problems. My role in this endeavor is twofold. First, I act as a mediator between their two strong and diametrically opposed personalities. Jim’s orders and teachings can be vague and sometimes completely garbled. He functions at his optimum when there is little or no structure, that is to say rules and limits, restricting his operation. Nyota, however, is not so. Her dislike of unstructured and chaotic languages translates into her command environment. Nyota needs a specific objective or organizing principle to manage the space, missions, and people around her. She would prefer to learn all of Starfleet’s protocols and then modify them as she gains more experience, while Jim disregarded Starfleet’s guidelines and later added them to his repertoire as he began to appreciate their value. In my individual time with Nyota, she vents her frustration at the captain to me and I attempt to explain to her his anarchic rationale. Likewise with Jim.

My secondary role, a corollary to my role as an intermediary, is to observe both the captain and Nyota. As Nyota once said, I have the ability to “extract ten thousand things about a person simply by observing them and analyzing,” and I put this to use to make the lessons more effective for both Jim and Nyota. For example, I suggested that as Nyota is a kinesthetic learner and needs to feel the results of her orders, rather than immediately sitting her in the captain’s chair as Jim originally desired to do, we train her first in commanding small teams, then increase the magnitude of the circumstances. She already has extensive experience with diplomatic missions, so this lesson would not be difficult to master.

This mission is something of an evaluation of the material she has learned thus far. Jim is anxious that she should pass for several reasons. In some respects, he is taking this to be an evaluation of his success as a teacher, and is worried that he has not taught her properly. He is wants to move on to “bigger and more exciting shit. This stuff’s getting kinda boring—she could recite the stuff backwards if she wanted to.” I suspect, however, that Jim is chiefly concerned because Nyota has become something of a protégé, a representation of all the things Jim has learned. He himself is still learning to hone and finesse his command skills.

“I’ve never wanted immortality, but I can kind of understand now why people do. It’s like the stuff I’m teaching her is my legacy. I’ll admit that Starfleet has some things right and some good ideas, but there’s tons of gaps in their training. I’m not saying that I’m filling all those gaps—not by a long shot—but I’ve learned a lot, and I want to pass it on. It’s useful shit.

“Let’s tackle Sulu next. I bet he’ll make a kickass captain someday.”

--

“Uhura to Kirk.”

“Yup. Everyone down safe?”

“Aye, captain. We’ll check back in with you in an hour. Try not to worry too much.”

“Who me, worry? What worry? I’m monitoring your frequencies.”

Nyota rolled her eyes and laughed. “Right. Uhura out.”

The mission proceeded as planned for the first four hours. Nyota had planned to take a break for lunch, but the scientists and Away Team members were so enthralled by the mission, they chose to forego the meal and proceed. I am not certain that Lt. Sulu was cognizant of the conversation at all, as he was completely engrossed in taking measurements of the photosynthesis and light reactions of the leaves around him.

In the sixth hour, thirty minutes before we were to beam back aboard the Enterprise, we found ourselves surrounded by a swarm of insects.



Annotations

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I love Jim and Spock trying to help Uhura. She'd be kickass captain!

I don't know if I've mentioned it yet, but I adore Uhura's characterization in this. I felt that they could have done so much with her in the film, but she was shafted to just being the Romantic Subplot. I'm glad that she's featured more prominently in here, because she's a great character.

Also, I love the way Spock describes Jim in these scenes. You can hear the admiration and reverence in his voice, even while he believes his teaching methods to be illogical.

Orson Scott Card is my favorite author and Ender's Game, my favorite book. I adore your allusions to the series.

“Let’s tackle Sulu next. I bet he’ll make a kickass captain someday.”
~ I love this little allusion to the final movie in the TOS series--hooray, Captain Sulu!

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