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Fic: Observations, Ch 105
Star Trek

“Kirk, we’ve just got word of a diplomatic situation. The Emperor on the planet Ecir is requesting a negotiator immediately, and the other party has agreed to sit on the meetings. We need you to resolve this. Our analysts say that if this situation isn’t diffused soon, the planet will be plunged into a civil war, or even a world war that could last for decades. The last thing we need is a solar system in that sector to destabilize.”

“Sir, can’t you give this to another ship? Me and my crew really need a break after the handling of Cestus-3, we only just picked up the team there and warped out of orbit like seven hours ago. I’ve got two of my command officers in the Sickbay—“

“Every other ship in the fleet is engaged right now, captain. I know we’ve been putting the Enterprise through a grueling schedule, and we won’t be expecting reports anytime soon. Just get the job done.”

“Extensions on my reports. That’s very generous of you.”

“Look, I wish I had better news, but we’re all still dealing with the ripple effects of that bastard Nero. Do you know how many ships we lost in that engagement? We’ve got mountains of stuff piled up, a huge backlog of missions. We were hesitant to give you the top priority ones in your first year, but the board just finished going through your performance evals and they found out that your track record is better than some of our top officers. You’ve made the grade. Keep doing what you’ve been doing, captain.”

“I intend to, sir.”

“Your communications people ready to receive the data?”

“They’ve been on the line, admiral.”

“All right, I’ve just sent the word to initiate file transfer. Any more questions?”

Jim looked as though he had a great many things to say. He remained silent.

“File transfer complete sir.”

“We’ve received everything on my end, admiral.”

“Then good luck, and godspeed. Nogura out.”

Jim turned to me and said one word.


“I have already sent the file to our historians on board. I also took the liberty of sending it to our economist and our political analysts as well. I will of course read the file and prepare a distillation for you, so that you might be familiar with the salient facts.”

“I’ve got a migraine.”

“You need sleep, Jim. That, and nutritional supplements.”

“I can’t sleep. I don’t know why, but I can’t sleep. Don’t tell Bones, he’d just give me a hypo of drugs. They give me the freakiest dreams. I’m gonna go work out, and hope that tires me out or something. When’s ETA for Ecir?”

“33 hours. You do not need to be on duty during that time.”

“What about you? Don’t think I haven’t noticed—you haven’t had a break since we got back from the city.”

“I am better able to manage the stresses. Vulcans do not require sleep.”

“Lucky bastard.”

I hesitated. “I may be able to help you. It is only a temporary solution, but you would be able to sleep for a full eight hours.”

“Nah, I’ve got it under control. Just, you know the drill.”

“I will inform you of any pressing developments.”

“Great,” Jim moved towards the exit. He turned back to me. “When all of this is over, I want a chess game. I want to sleep, actually sit down and eat a meal with you, then go play chess, just the two of us. Promise me we’ll have some time alone.”

“I will arrange it in my schedule, after our mission is complete.”


As is typical in diplomatic missions, Nyota and I have been poring over the Starfleet file and browsing the nets for supplementary information. As she is still recovering from the events of Cestus-3, we have our files spread on two biobeds in the Sickbay, much to Dr. McCoy’s annoyance. He does not disturb our work, however.

She looked up at me.

“You’re different.”

I looked up from my datapad. “In what ways, ndugu?”

“You and the captain. Both of you, ever since you went into that time portal, something about you has changed. It’s so strange—one minute you were leaping through the gateway, the next minute you’re back. The same, yet everything about you has changed.”

I straightened. “Your own experience with regards to Cestus-3 has changed you.”

“We haven’t had time to talk, not with this craziness, but will you tell me what happened in between?”

I looked down at my datapad again. “I am not certain that I can find the words, in any language, to describe our experience.”

Nyota looked at me thoughtfully. “You rely on each other, more than anyone else on the ship.”

“Jim has always depended on me, as his First Officer.”

“True. But it’s different now. And you depend on him too. It used to be a one way street, and now it’s not.”

“Commander Spock?” Dr. Nari-Oothes stood at the foot of the biobed. “I have the report you requested.”

“Were you able to discover the reason behind the increase in civilian violence against the government?”

“Yes. There are several factors, of course, but given the recent developments of the region, the patterns are very similar, almost a textbook case of rising nationalist protest.”

Nyota frowned. “But nationalism is hardly a universal concept. For a civilization at this advanced stage of development, for people to suddenly differentiate themselves is a break from everything in their past. The Empire has a tradition of assimilation and cultural absorption.”

“That’s the view put forward by their Sentemferists historians, who for the most part come from the ruling class. I actually think that the Empire has always has this tension between imposing its homogeneous standard on its subjects and recognizing the legitimacy of the cultures they conquer. Their own culture is a co-optation of their traditions from the past and the minorities that make up the rest of that body.”


Nyota looked at me. “Do you think this’ll help Jim?”

“I believe we may be able to use that to our advantage. As far as I can gather, both parties involved view this meeting as a formality. They do not expect any compromise, and they will come unwilling to bend on any issue. However, Starfleet expects Jim to broker a peace treaty between them, which is a near impossibility if neither party actually desires peace. He will need every advantage at his disposal. In this case, the only advantage we can give him is information and analysis.

“Dr. Nari-Oothes, will you provide a brief history of the idea of nationalism, to be read by the captain, maximum 5000 words.”

He paled. “A history of nationalism? Mr. Spock, you’re asking me to summarize the history of nationalism in 5000 words or less? That’s impossible, sir.”

“Then follow this outline. Provide the basic theories of nationalism and give three case studies. Choose cases that particularly illustrate what are agreed to be the key features of nationalism, but also choose your cases such that exist important contrasts between them. Have it ready by 0450.”

“Aye sir.”

I turned back to Nyota. “We will return to our previous discussion at a later date, I give you my word, ndugu. Right now, our duties prevent us.”

“We don’t have to talk about it. It’s just something I observed. There’s not much more to say.”


Jim was already in the transporter room, in his dress uniform. The once tailored fit was slightly loose. He did not have his captain’s mask firmly in place yet. He looked at me with a smile and a soft look in his eyes.

“You look good,” he came over and removed a piece of lint from my uniform, then stepped back and scrutinized me. “You’ve lost weight. You haven’t been taking care of yourself, have you,” Jim accused.

We did not have time to discuss the matter further.

“Captain, we’re ready to energize. We’ve locked onto their signals.”

Jim’s captain’s mask slid into place.

“All right. We’ll have the Emperor come on board first, do the whole greeting and gift giving, then we’ll have Slladdek on board. Team A escort the Emperor, Team B escort Slladdek.”

I took my place beside Jim.

“Right. Energize.”

The Emperor appeared in his regalia. Jim stepped forward and offered the tradiational bow used among the Sentemferist elite, bending at the waist and then snapping his heels. The Emperor looked moderately surprised, then greeted him in turn. They proceeded to weclome each other according to Sentemferist high form. After a long and arduous ceremony of polite words, the Emperor finally was escorted out of the transporter room to the conference location.

With Slladdek, it was quite different. Someone taught the captain the Bulacian greeting used among familiars. Slladdek was not offended by this gesture, but delighted. He and Jim fell into easy introductions with no formality between them. Jim even shared a small joke with the revolutionary, who responded in kind with his own brand of humor. After a short period of time, Slladdek was also escorted to the conference room.

Jim turned to me. There was no trace of the rigid deference or the good humor he had just used. Worry creased his brow.

“Did I handle that okay?”

“You handled it flawlessly, captain.”

He exhaled, then straightened and looked at me. “Ready?”

I nodded.

“As long as you’ve got my back.”


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It must be very strange for those crew members close to Jim and Spock to see the differences in them after what, for the ship's crew, seemed only a very short time away. I liked Nyota's mention of it to Spock--but I suspect she's voicing what several other crew members are sensing.

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