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Chekov felt as if it took forever to get back to his ship. Without his communicator or locater, the process of returning had been difficult. The loss of his Starfleet I.D. was particularly embarrassing and unless it was recovered he would have to report it as a security matter. To avoid going through civilian channels, he had to find a fellow crewperson on leave or an official of Starfleet. Unfortunately, it was the latter.
The local Starfleet Liaison Officer, Smyth, also head of the military police unit in town, was a very young lieutenant who took a lot of delight in Pavel's predicament. However, a few tall tales of Captain Kirk changed the tenor of the conversation. Eventually they both had a good laugh about the situation, mostly concerning the look on Chekov's face and general state of disrepair. However, it was better to explain it to the lieutenant than Starfleet Command itself. Now, with just a little luck he could put it all behind him and keep it out of the 'official' record.
He would soon be transported back to his own ship and just forget the whole affair.
U.S.S. Invincible was an older ship as far as starships were concerned. It was from the same class as the original Enterprise that Chekov had served aboard, but Invincible was from the last group of the class built. It had not had the total refit that was named for the Enterprise, still Chekov liked the ship. There was a sensation of coming home to an old friend, even with the look and feel of the old 1701.
When given command of the ship, Admiral Boettcher had apologized for not having something better to offer. Chekov wanted the ship and the command opportunity, regardless of the age or condition. During his tenure, the old ship had been scheduled for a major refit several times, but something always got in the way. That was okay as long as the ship performed well and the safety of the crew wasn't compromised.
Neither of these issues were a problem due to the Chief of Engineering, Boris Petrov. He was an old friend and a fellow Muscovite. Petrov's roots in engineering and space went back to an ancestor who had helped to put Sputnik into orbit. He was a great engineer and knew everything about everything; a true Russian!
Pavel's thoughts were interrupted by Lieutenant Smyth who had contacted the ship. Chekov was more than ready to go home. The 'old bucket of bolts,' as Invincible was affectionately called by her crew, was indeed home for many of its personnel. They, too, had developed a feeling similar to their captain's.
As the transporter effect began to take hold, Chekov took a last look at Alpha Centauri's Capitol City, wishing he hadn't seen it this time and hoping it would be a long time before he saw it again.
Materializing in transporter room number one, the chief greeted his captain with a look of genuine concern and surprise. "Glad to see you you're okay, sir. You really had us going for awhile. Do you wish to see Mister Gianelli about the prisoner?"
Chekov was just a bit confused, but recovered quickly. "Er, yes. Thet vill be chust fine."
"Very well, sir." Michaels leaned to one side and punched the intercom call, "Transporter one to security. Is Mister Gianelli available?"
Chekov stepped off the transporter platform and stood next to the chief.
A somewhat long pause was followed by a slightly winded security chief. "Gianelli here; what is it, Michaels?"
"Captain Chekov is here. He wants an update on your prisoner."
Again there was a brief pause then the head of security posed a tentative question. "Captain, would you mind coming down to the brig, the prisoner is being a bit... difficult."
"On my vay, Chekov out."
Pavel thanked Michaels, then hurried out to the corridor and made his way to the nearest turbolift. On his way, he tried to think of what was going on, but drew a blank. The turbolift stopped abruptly, interrupting his thought process. As the doors snapped open, he left the car and went directly to the security section at a dead run, forgetting all about his 'uncaptainly' appearance. When he entered, there was a commotion in progress and he decided to investigate. Rounding the corner to the main brig, he saw the giant Rigellian who had been in the club the previous night. Before the captain could speak, the oversized alien began yelling at the sight of his former adversary.
Gianelli turned around to follow the giant's gaze and found Chekov standing outside the main energy barrier. He gave a short nod to acknowledge his captain's presence and a nearby security man reached the control panel, dropping the barrier.
Chekov was very curious. "Vhat is going on here, Tony?"
"It's this fellow, sir." He pointed to the oversized prisoner. "After he stole your locater, I.D., chrono and communicator, he accidentally activated the emergency signal. Of course, we beamed him up immediately, thinking he was you. It surprised the hell out of Michaels."
The burly Italian security chief laughed out loud at the thought but when his captain didn't join in, he continued, "Any way, sir, we had to use a heavy stun force to get your communicator away from him and it took a long time to get him down to the brig. We started to search him to see if he had anything else, then he came to. He kept going on and on about a terrific fight and how he didn't stand a chance. Guess you really gave him a thrashing, right, sir?"
Chekov bit his lower lip and tried to maintain his composure. "It vas quite a fight all right. Vhat else did he haf on him?"
Gianelli turned towards the duty desk and pointed to an armload of items, enough to open a small pawn shop. "We're still searching him, sir, but that is what we've found so far."
Pavel was amazed, such a large being yet capable of picking pockets. How could he have such a delicate touch? Then he turned his attention back to the disheveled Chief of Security and asked the obvious, "Vhy not chust stun him?"
Shaking his head back and forth slowly the chief responded, "Tried it, sir. He went down like a ton bricks and he's a lot harder to move when he's stunned. Besides, last time he went down, he hit his head. It made him real mad."
Again, Chekov had to fight to maintain decorum and turned slightly to hide his reaction. Picking up his personal items out of the pile of liberated possessions, he addressed the chief one more time. "Vhen you are done, make arrangements to transport him to the Fourth District authorities. The local police vill know vhat to do vith him. Also, send the articles you've retrieved."
The chief looked surprised. "Why that district, sir?"
Without pausing, Chekov responded, "Thet is vhere I encountered the gentleman."
The response seemed to satisfy Gianelli and he acknowledged with a crisp, "Aye, sir!"
Chekov turned and headed out of the main brig, pausing only to allow the barrier to drop. Once through safely, he heard the familiar hum as the barrier was reinstated. Now he hurried to his quarters to get cleaned up and put on a clean duty uniform. The journey was quick, uneventful and he encountered no one. However, before he could get into his quarters, the young Communications Officer, Jacobson, yelled out a greeting and asked for the captain to wait.
Stopping just short of his cabin door, Pavel waited for the young Dane as he huffed and puffed up the corridor. "Glad to see you're okay, sir. We were really worried about you after seeing that Rigellian. He must have been quite a challenge. Anyway, sir, what I wanted to see you about was a priority communication from Starfleet. I heard you were back on board and just wanted to be sure that you knew about it and --"
The Captain's voice was calm and controlled as he realized that the long-winded ensign was merely excited, enthusiastic and genuinely concerned. "Thet is fine, Jacobson. Thank you, I'll check into it right avay."
"Sir, you should see Doc. Maybe he could do something about that eye."
Now Chekov's voice became a bit more firm. "I vill see to it, Ensign. That vill be all!"
"Yes, sir." The young man now realized he had been taxing his Captain's patience. The youth's blond hair was nearly transparent and his already red skin had now flushed to an even brighter hue. Embarrassed, he ran back down the corridor from where he originally appeared.
Shaking his head, more from frustration than anger, he cursed out loud. "Damn, vhat else can go wrong?"
He took the single step needed to activate the door sensor and entered his quarters. Forgetting his uniform and appearance for the moment he went to the duty desk and entered his personal security code. As he took a seat, the viewing screen blinked an acknowledgement. He called up his messages, located the priority signal then activated the decoding circuit.
The preface included the sender's name, point of origin and stardate. He studied the screen closely.
Chief of Special Operations
"Now vhy vould he be contacting me?" He asked out loud. Tapping the continue command, he sat back and the message played, audio only.
"Captain Chekov, by order of this office and Starfleet Command, you are to cease current operations and transfer your cargo to the U.S.S. Pathfinder. Recall all crewmembers on shore leave and proceed immediately to Starfleet Headquarters. Endit."
Endorsements as follows:
Admiral of the Fleet, Eli Walking Bear
Chekov let a low, soft whistle escape from his lips and sat back in his chair. He had really done it this time. The Inspector General's Office had probably been notified of his 'night in the can' and now he was going to catch it. Kensington was known for doing odd jobs, this time he was probably acting as Walking Bear's hatchet man.
He leaned forward again, reviewing a few personal messages and shut down the console. Then he activated the intercom circuit, "Captain to bridge."
"Yes, sir. DeKalb reporting, are you all right?
"Chust fine, Commander. Vhat is our status?
"All systems are one hundred percent, sir. By the way, we received an interrogative from the Pathfinder just a moment ago. They had a question regarding our cargo."
Chekov sighed audibly, "Yes, Commander. Begin a recall of all personnel on leave, on the double. Then have communications established with the Pathfinder's Captain. I vill be on the bridge in --" he thought about the comments on his appearance, then continued "-- about fifteen minutes. I'll take Pathfinder's call in sickbay."
The second shift duty officer sounded surprised, "Aye, sir, I'll get on it right away."
Before showering and changing into his uniform, he had one more duty to perform. "Chekov to Cargo Master."
A brief pause was followed by the sound of a winded voice. "Ensign An-Uratril here, sir. Just about got that cargo secured. I should be finished in less than an hour."
Chekov almost hated to be the bearer of bad tidings. "Sorry, Ensign, but Starfleet has changed our orders, again. Grab all the help you need and begin preparations for transfer of cargo to the U.S.S. Pathfinder."
There was an audible curse on the other end of the intercom. The captain chose to ignore it for a multitude of reasons and continued. "I vill haf exact details relayed to you later. Keptain out."
"Aye, sir." The disappointment of the eager Elfrosian was audible and understandable.
After cleaning up and changing attire, Chekov headed off to sickbay in a hurry. On the way he thought about An-Uratril. He really felt sorry the man, being the Cargo Master was such a thankless job. No one seemed to care about the work being done, that is unless something was lost or damaged, and then everybody cared.
Almost every junior officer served as Cargo Master at one time or another and Pavel could remember when he had served as well. Even with transporters and anti-gravs, it could still be a very tiring, and seemingly endless, job.
As he picked up his pace, Chekov nodded an occasional greeting to various crewmembers along the way to sickbay and tried very hard to ignore their inquisitive stares. He entered an empty turbolift and arrived just outside sickbay in a very brief moment.
He emerged from turbolift three and entered sickbay before anyone else could see him. Doctor Sanchez was sitting at his duty desk with his arms folded across his chest and an 'I know why you're here look' on his face.
Sanchez had been the 'B' shift surgeon on the old Enterprise and Pavel really liked the man. He never visited the bridge unless he was invited. For the most part, he remained low key and easy going. In fact, there were times when Chekov actually had to coax an opinion from the man. In any case, his temperament was infinitely better than McCoy's. There were very few rants, lectures and almost no 'I told you so's.'
Right now though, Sanchez was relishing the moment. "So, Captain, decide to have a go at Rigellian kick boxing?"
Pavel held back a snappy comeback and took his dose like a man. "Someting like thet, Doc. You got anyting for vhat ails me?"
The doctor pointed toward the exam table, "A piece of advice. Act your age and rank and you won't need my services quite so often, Captain."
Sitting on the edge of the edge of the exam table with a red face and a sheepish grin, Chekov remained quiet and let the M.D. give him the once-over, unopposed.
The doctor checked his captain and began tending to the various injuries, making an obvious diagnosis. "Kevin Riley again?"
"It shows," the doctor said flatly. He pointed to the damaged eye.
Chekov slumped, "I didn't mean it that way, Doc."
The doctor adapted a very stern pose, his face set with a less than friendly look. Wagging an accusing finger he continued, "I know what you mean, Captain. What I am saying is that every time you two get together, it's obvious!" The elderly surgeon put his scanner down and then softened his tone a bit. "Even if Kevin won't grow up, you should. After all, you're a starship captain now. At the very least, you should be setting an example for the rest of the crew." Sanchez finished with a warm smile then continued with the 'repairs.'
Chekov winced a bit as the doctor continued to work his magic. "I seem to remember Kaptain Kirk getting into a few... rough spots now and then."
"True enough, but he was better at hiding his 'rough spots'." Sanchez gave his captain a pat on the back, "Good as new, or at least as good as yesterday."
The Doctor was spared any further comments by the whistle of the ship's intercom. "Bridge to sickbay. Captain, are you still there?"
Jumping off the exam table, Pavel took a few quick steps to the intercom and activated the circuit. "Go ahead, bridge."
"Got your call from the Pathfinder, sir. Ready to receive?"
"Pipe it through."
There was a brief hint of static followed by a deep resonating voice. "Captain Chekov, what is this Fleet request for a cargo transfer about?"
The person behind the voice was anything but happy so Chekov put on kid gloves. "Yes, Keptain." What was his name? "I chust received orders from Starfleet Command to thet effect. It seems they vant the Invincible back as soon as possible. I'll give you all the assistance you need." Chekov cursed himself for not remembering the man's name. He was going to check on that but he did not have the time.
The 'nameless' captain replied with an air of a man who had been insulted. "My people can handle the work. When do we start? I'm behind schedule already."
Chekov flinched visibly from the yelling. "My communications officer vill put you in direct contact vith our Cargo Master."
Retabbing the intercom, he continued, "Bridge, Pathfinder is vaiting for Cargo Master's instructions. Patch him through and warn An-Uratril about their keptain's 'unpleasant' disposition."
He could have tried to calm the Pathfinder's captain but it would have been futile. If the roles had been reversed, Chekov would have felt the same way. He turned to Sanchez, who was shaking his head and smiling at Chekov's growing list of problems. Pavel was only slightly annoyed at the doctor, but vocalized it anyway. "And I don't want to hear anymore from you either."
The good doctor just smiled even more as he watched his captain storm out of sickbay.
On his way to the bridge, Chekov prepared a brief speech to head off any more comments about his well being. Fortunately, he didn't encounter any other crewpersons on the way. He was still annoyed by everything which had happened over the last twenty-four hours or so and may have vented on some poor, hapless crewperson.
When the turbolift doors snapped open on the bridge, he stepped out lively and adopted a 'business as usual' manner. Looking around, he noted with satisfaction that his entire 'A' shift was now on duty and busy with departure preparations. He took the step down to the command chair and addressed the first officer seated there, "Status?"
The first officer rose to acknowledge his captain's presence and responded in his usual monotone voice. "Impulse and warp drive ready, Captain. Course laid in for Sol System. Starfleet advised of our E.T.A. Alpha Centauri docking and traffic control has given us priority clearance for departure whenever we are ready."
Taking the center seat Chekov continued, "How is the cargo transfer coming along?"
The first officer took up a standing position next to the command chair. "Progressing reasonably well, Captain. We should have everything completed within the hour."
Chekov turned and looked at the Vulcan and nodded his approval. "Vell done, Mister Sotak. Haf all crewmembers reported aboard?"
Without moving to check or even hesitating the Vulcan continued, "One hundred twenty-six on 'A' shift duty, two hundred twenty off duty, forty-four on special reassignment assisting with the cargo transfer, fifteen on docking departure duty, six reported back to the ship in the last fifteen minutes and the final three will be aboard within the next six point six minutes. No casualties, no one reporting to sickbay other than yourself, sir."
The Vulcan moved back to his regular duty station as Chekov stared speechless at his back. Now was the time. "I'm most appreciative of everyone's concern for my velfare. I trust thet ve can now continue vith our duties and concentrate on a swift and safe journey back home." With that said, the captain leaned back in his command chair and relaxed, smiling outwardly for the first time in many hours.
In exactly six point six minutes, Sotak interrupted the bridge routine. "Last crewpersons have reported aboard, sir."
Before Chekov could respond, the comm officer announced the cargo transfer would be concluded much earlier than originally estimated. Jacobson sounded apologetic, "Everyone wants to get away from Captain Harris, he's a real hard case, sir. Just another fifteen minutes to complete the transfer according to the Cargo Master."
"Very vell, Jake. Notify Alpha Centauri Docking Control ve vill be departing in tventy minutes." Chekov turned to await confirmation of the order.
Suddenly the captain remembered his promise to meet with Kevin again before leaving. "Jacobsen, when you've finished, see if you can contact Kevin Riley at Cochrane Industries. If he's not in, I'd like to leave a message."
From somewhere on the bridge came a quiet, "No doubt." The origin was probably Sotak.
While the communications officer busied himself, Chekov surveyed the bridge. Again it was fairly quiet except for Jacobson and the occasional sound of various checklists being ticked off by the department heads.
Finally the pale faced Jacobson announced the results of his efforts. "Mister Riley has not yet reported for work, sir."
"Understandable," Chekov commented dryly. "Let's post a message in his office mail, shall ve? I'll take care of it down here."
"Very well, sir. I have his comm channel; switching over to you now."
"Thank you, Jake." He used the man's nickname again on purpose maybe it would make the man a little more relaxed. A kid, fresh out of the Academy, Chekov thought, was I ever that young?
Looking down at his command chair comm panel, he noticed the 'ready to transmit' light blink once, and then glow steady, waiting for an input. Chekov studied the device for a moment then thought of a simple message to leave his friend.
As he entered the brief communication, he smiled outwardly at the thought of leaving Kevin behind. Maybe his luck would change now. At least it couldn't get any worse, or could it?