Continuing my unpublished Star Trek prose short story. Part 1 can be found here parts 2 & 3 here, part 4 here and part 5 here.
STAR TREK: COURSE CORRECTIONS, PART 6
Noyota Uhura stretched back in her seat in the Rec Room trying to work out a kink that manifested itself during her shift on the bridge.
She blinked and smiled back and Hikaru Sulu, who was nursing his coffee across from her. He was patiently waiting for his way too hot soup to cool. He had only picked at his meal earlier when the crew ate and now the empty spot in his belly was starting to protest.
"Nothing a workout in the gym and a good night's sleep won't cure," she replied.
"I'm always in the market for a good fencing partner if you're up for it," Sulu said.
"Oh, I don't know, I'm more of an Akido gal," she said.
"Well at least we know you will sleep well. Who's your favorite sparring partner? Sam?"
"Sam if I want to learn. Painter or Hanson if I want to win," she said with a smile.
Sulu chuckled out loud and she could not help but join in. His deep resonant laugh was always from the belly, always genuine and always contagious.
"No kidding, last time I sparred with Sam, he threw me around like rag doll," Sulu said. "I still get a twinge when I have to reach across the helm with my left arm."
Uhura noticed Sulu's attention wane as something behind her obviously caught his eye. She turned to see a haggard McCoy slowly walk into the Rec Room. He was still wearing his scrub uniform with the short sleeves. She knew he had performed surgery on Ensign Perez, just a few hours ago. His lazy gait looked to be two parts fatigue and one part alcohol.
"That's not a good sign," she heard Sulu whisper.
"I don't know, if Carlos was in any danger he would still be in sickbay," Uhura said, only half believing it her self.
They watched as McCoy got some food from the synthesizer and turned to seek a place to sit. Uhura made eye contact with the doctor from across the room and he made a bee line for their table. He slid into a seat next to Sulu.
"I'm glad to see you two here," McCoy said before taking a bite of what looked to be a chicken sandwich.
"I figured things were going bad when I didn't see you at dinner," Sulu said.
They both knew McCoy preferred to eat with the crew. Uhura always thought it was a subtle way the doctor kept tabs on the crew's mental health. Casual conversation over a meal frequently lead to someone venting their frustrations.
"How is Ensign Perez?" Uhura asked.
McCoy, in true southern gentlemanly fashion, kept them waiting for a moment as he chewed his bite of sandwich before answering. It would be rude to speak with a mouthful of synthesized chicken.
"Stable for the moment. Chris and M'Benga are keeping tabs on him. We're playing the waiting game right now," McCoy said.
The answer seemed route to Uhura. He's probably already been asked several times on his way here, she thought.
"I'm glad to catch you here," McCoy began, "I hear there is chatter that Nogura is our new fleet commander."
"News travels at light speed but gossip travels at warp speed," Uhura said.
"And gets distorted along the way," Sulu added.
"Any distortion on that front?" McCoy asked between bites.
"Nope, it's official as of this afternoon," Uhura confirmed.
McCoy paused in the meager repast, throwing the napkin down on the remainder.
"What's wrong, Doc?" Sulu asked.
"Nogura," McCoy paused and made a face before continuing, "is known for getting what he wants and he appears to want all the commanding officers who are finishing up large scale deep space missions, like this one, to work at command back home."
"That's great! Captain Kirk would make a great Admiral," Sulu said tasting his formerly thermonuclear soup.
McCoy made an "oh really" face and turned toward the helmsman.
"I'll give him six months," McCoy said.
"Six months before what?" Uhura asked.
"Six months before he's climbing the walls with boredom," McCoy said.
"He'll crack up behind a desk. A man like the captain was meant to be out there," McCoy said with a wave of his hand, "Not rotting in some planet side office."
"Surely, they would give him another deep space mission if he turned down the promotion, wouldn't they?" Sulu asked.
"That depends on what's news and what's gossip when it comes to Nogura," McCoy said giving a pointed look toward the communications officer.
I should tell them, Uhura thought before taking a deep breath.
"Do you remember Commodore Wesley?" Uhura asked.
Both men nodded.
"He was in command of the Lexington when we tested that damn Multitronic unit created by Richard Daystrom," McCoy said. "He retired to Mantilles about a year after that and got into politics."
The mention of Daystrom's M-5 unit chilled the trio to the bone. Over five hundred starfleet officers were lost during the tactical test, including the entire crew of the Excalibur.
"He also looked just like Security Chief Giotto. I mean, seriously, they could have been separated at birth," Sulu said with a weak smile trying his best to lighten the mood.
Uhura gave him a glare causing the helmsman to shrug, then she continued.
"From what I understand he didn't retire voluntarily."
Sulu and McCoy exchanged glances.
"Nogura either wanted him promoted for not having to destroy the Enterprise or blamed him for the whole incident and wanted him assigned to a ground position," she said, "I don't know which. Way out here, we hear different accountings. But he pushed and pushed until finally the Commodore had enough and just opted out with early retirement."
McCoy looked ashen, like all his fears were confirmed. The trio sat in silence for a few minutes before McCoy finally spoke up again.
"Have either of you considered what you are going to do when we get back to Earth?"
Sulu broke into a smile, the future was clearly something he looked forward to.
"Well I, for one, am going to enjoy a nice long shore leave in San Francisco and hope for a good posting as either a helmsman or a first officer somewhere, hopefully another deep space assignment."
"You don't want to work on the Enterprise refit?" McCoy asked.
"I wouldn't turn it down. It would be great to be home for a while, but really I would rather get back out there," Sulu said. "Helming one of the other big ships like the Enterprise or perhaps as first officer on a small science vessel. I hear they have one that is going to be studying and comparing fauna on recently explored planets."
Uhura felt McCoy's eyes shift to her. When she made eye contact, all he did was arch his eyebrow as away of asking, What about you?
"If they ask me to help with the refit I would be glad to. This place is like home to me now," she said, prompting a smile from McCoy. "However, the idea of getting another deep space assignment is appealing or even getting to do some translation work for the Federation Diplomatic Corps would be a great challenge. It's hard to say doctor, the future just seems so wide open with opportunities."
McCoy seemed to contemplate their answers. He smiled weakly.
"I envy your youth and options," McCoy said with a wistfulness, "I hope Chekov keeps his options open."
"What do you mean, Doc?" Sulu asked, concern creeping onto his normally open face.
"Aw, because of what happened with Takahashi and Perez, the kid has it in his head that he needs to go into security," McCoy said.
Sulu leaned back in his seat looking almost relieved.
"I don't know, Doc. I think he has been thinking about that move for a while now," he said. "I know he's mentioned it to me several times."
"Humph! Maybe I didn't give the kid enough credit," McCoy said more to himself than to Uhura and Sulu.
"It wouldn't be the first time a person made a path change in Starfleet. Did you know I was originally assigned to the astrosciences division as the ship's physicist before becoming a helmsman?"
"So you made a career 'course correction' Lieutenant?" McCoy asked.
Sulu smiled at the phrase. "You could call it that, Doc."
McCoy smiled, excused himself and started to leave, but Uhura felt she had to ask.
"Doctor, what are you going to do when we get home?"
McCoy let the question hang in the air for a moment. Uhura wasn't sure if he didn't have an answer or if he just didn't want to share it. He looked at his feet and shifted uncomfortably before finally found his voice.
"I'll be honest, I've been wondering that myself," he said, "I always figured the captain would turn down a promotion and request another long term mission and I would just tag along, but now..."
McCoy shifted again uncomfortably.
"You know, Doc, scuttlebutt has it that Mister Spock will get his choice of missions when we get home," Sulu said. "I'll bet my collection of antique firearms that he picks either a science vessel or a deep space probe. He'll need a top doc."
"And a first officer who can fly a ship as well as head up both astrosciences and botany labs?" McCoy said, his smile growing.
"Only if he can find someone that brilliantly multi-talented," Sulu said smiling back.
McCoy turned to leave, then paused.
"Hikaru, do you ever regret leaving astrosciences?" McCoy asked.
Uhura didn't know it was possible, but Sulu's smile hot even bigger, so big that she couldn't help but smile as well.
"Not for a second, Doc," Sulu said. "Not for a second."