Star Trek Fearless
Starfleet Academy graduation, though a momentous affair for students, had become more a matter of habit for instructors and the academy commandant Menendez. Cadence could feel his boredom, hear the excitement in his voice was forced, and she was grateful when he pinned her bars to her uniform, saluted and let her return to her seat. It was all but over when Commander Scott stepped to the podium with a Padd in his hands. He looked happy and composed when he tapped the microphone and looked straight at Cadence.
“Once per class, the Academy presents a commendation for original thinking. The tradition began with Captain James T. Kirk, who had a rather unique solution to the No Win Scenario all command cadets must face,” he said. His chest puffed and his smile widened. “This year, I’m proud to present this award to Lieutenant Cadence Song. Lieutenant?”
Cadence frowned in surprise, but stood amid the congratulations of her class and passed down the steps to the stage. Admiral Menendez helped her onto the platform and Scott turned to her with a medal in his hands. It was small, with the Enterprise command insignia and a gold ribbon.
“Proud of ya, lass,” Scott said as he pinned it to her uniform.
“Thank you, Scotty… er… Commander,” Cadence replied.
Captain Kirk approached from stage left and shook her hand. “It was a difficult choice, Lieutenant. You clinched it with your performance in the simulator last week. Well done.”
“Thank you, sir,” Cadence said.
There was something else in Kirk’s face, and in his mind. There was an emergency, the Enterprise was shipping out to the Neutral Zone. There was worry and excitement just below his iron control.
“You’re welcome, Lieutenant. I need you and Commander Scott to report to Enterprise immediately, we depart within the hour,” Kirk said.
Cadence blinked in surprise. “I’m sorry sir?”
Her voice sounded too loud in the now silent hall. Admiral Menendez stood. “Your orders have changed, Lieutenant. You’ll be reporting to Enterprise as helmsman, relieving Commander Sulu, who is on special assignment.”
“Close yer mouth, lass,” Scotty whispered.
Kirk smiled again. “Welcome to the crew, lieutenant. I’ll see you aboard.”
Menendez addressed the rest of the waiting cadets. “Congratulations for Lieutenant Song will have to wait, many of you will be shipping out on your own assignments, there is a situation building in the Neutral Zone.”
Cadence didn’t hear the rest. Scotty gently but firmly took her elbow and guided her to the silent corridor outside the academy grand hall.
“Shake it off, lass,” he said. “There’s work to be done.”
“Why me, Scotty?” Cadence asked.
Scott led the way to the exit, his pace faster than his usual casual stride. “Yer at the top o’ your class, Cadence, and that little stunt of yours in the simulator was brilliant. Captain Kirk knows promise when he sees it, don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.”
Cadence stopped him with a hand on his shoulder. “I got my crew killed, Scotty.”
“That ye’ did,” Scott said, turning. “But that’s the point of the test. You held your ground, you didn’t panic, you stayed cool and you maintained command of your crew in the face of defeat and death. The captain thinks you have the makings of a good leader, and I happen to agree with him.”
He opened the door and held it. “Your belongings are being packed as we speak, you’ll find new uniforms in your quarters aboard Enterprise. Lieutenant Ilyia is waiting for you in the quad. Say your goodbyes and take the next shuttle to spacedock.”
“I don’t know what to say.”
Cadence felt overwhelmed. She’d been expecting to ship out as second shift tactical officer on Thunderchild, not be piloting the fleet flagship.
“You’ve said it already, lass. I couldn’t be more proud if you were my own child. Your father’d be proud of you,” Scott said. Cadence knew he meant it, she could see it in his mind. He’d been a father to her for as long as she could remember, and she was grateful he was proud of her.
She kissed his cheek and hurried to meet Ilyia.
The Starfleet Academy ‘quad’ was a large park between the main building, cafeteria and simulator room. Most days it was full of students throwing Frisbees or enjoying a snack in the San Francisco sunlight. Ilyia was waiting on one of the wide stone benches. Her face was pale and her eyes were red where she’d been crying, but she smiled when she saw Cadence, and put on a brave face.
“Hey you,” Ilyia said.
Cadence returned the smile and wiped a tear from Ilyia’s cheek. “Hey. I’m sorry−”
“No! Don’t be sorry, Cade. Its Enterprise, most of our class would kill to be assigned to her,” Ilyia said.
“I thought I’d be going with you,” Cadence said.
She and Ilyia had become fast friends in their first year at the academy, the only telepathic cadets in a class of five hundred gave them a common bond. That bond had grown over the years into a quiet but public relationship. If this had been an 80’s high school they would have been voted ‘class couple.’
“I know,” Ilyia said. “I thought I would be going with you, too. But orders change, mine already have. I’m shipping out on Farragut, myself.”
“That’s great! Farragut and Captain Riley have a great reputation. What’s your assignment?”
“I’ll be in astrometrics, we’re mapping a series of anomalies near the Romulan border,” Ilyia said.
She took Cadence’s hand and sat. “I don’t want to talk about that, though. I want to talk about us.”
Cadence sat beside her, already certain what Ilyia was going to say. The thought made her feel cold.
“We can make it work,” she said softly.
Ilyia shook her head. “Statistics say cross-galaxy relationships are worse than ship-board ones. You’ll be hopping galaxies, I’ll be mapping them. Two different worlds, too far apart.”
“We can make it work, Li. Three years side by side with only four−”
“Five,” Ilyia corrected.
“Five arguments. How hard can it be to keep it together by subspace?” Cadence continued.
She reached out and touched Ilyia’s cheek. “I love you.”
Ilyia nuzzled her hand and smiled, then pulled away. “I love you too, its why this is so damn hard.”
She stood and began walking away. “I have to, Cade. You’ve got Enterprise, I’ve got Farragut. If its meant to be, the Gods will bring us back together one day.”
Cade stood and started to follow. “Please, Li, don’t.”
“Don’t follow me, Cade. Goodbye,” Ilyia said.
Cadence stopped and watched Ilyia vanish into the crowd. A moment later, it began to rain. Cadence stood in the downpour and let the tears run down her cheeks.
The evening shuttle to Spacedock was crammed with both cadets fresh from graduation and seasoned veterans making their way to their assigned vessels. Cadence sat in the back, a towel wrapped around her white-blond hair, and dabbed makeup under her eyes to hide that she’d been crying, and crying hard. The lurch of the shuttle leaving atmosphere made her look out the window, and she saw almost a dozen ships in orbit outside the station. Her eyes fell first on Farragut, an Excelsior class starship with only a year on her hull, before turning to the Enterprise. Enterprise A, to be exact, second Constitution class to carry the name. She had to admit, Enterprise was a striking ship, with her white-patterned hull, polished nacelles and running lights in full glow. She looked fast just sitting still, a swan ready for flight against a blanket of stars.
The shuttle banked and approached Enterprise from the rear, where the shuttlebay was already open.
“Lieutenant Song, prepare for dustoff,” the intercom chirped.
Cadence closed her makeup kit and gathered her gear, her heart pounding in her chest. She’d commanded ships like Enterprise dozens of times in the simulator, piloted them, stalked the bridge and engine room, but the biggest real ship she’d ever been aboard was a Miranda class frigate. Enterprise was a different machine entirely.
The shuttle passed through the doors and settled on the turntable with a gentle thump. Cadence stood by the door and waited for the deck to pressurize. A moment later she stepped off the shuttle, where she was greeted by Commander Chekov. He was standing just beyond the turntable with his hands folded behind his back.
“Velcome aboard, Lieutenant Song. It’s a pleasure to see you again,” he said. His voice echoed in the empty shuttlebay.
“Thank you, commander. I thought I was going to spacedock first,” Cadence said.
Chekov turned for the not too distant exit. “The Keptin pushed our departure up. He is waiting for us on the bridge.”
The door opened with a quiet hiss and Cadence followed him through into a wide corridor of white bulkheads, gold-carpet floors and muted safety lights.
“Do I have time to change?” Cadence asked.
They stopped outside the turbolift, where a yeoman was waiting with a fresh uniform tunic and jacket.
“Sort of,” Chekov said. “Yeoman Knight will help you change in the turbolift.”
Cadence arched an eyebrow at him and he blushed.
“I’ll turn my back, lieutenant.”
The turbolift stopped and they stepped aboard. It was larger than Cadence expected, big enough for eight people to stand comfortably without touching the gold and white walls.
“Bridge,” Chekov said. He glanced at Cadence. “You have forty-seven seconds.”
Cadence handed her wet jacket to the waiting yeoman, then began pulling off her tunic. She handed it over as well and accepted the fresh one. When she raised her eyes she saw Chekov’s reflection in the black trim around the doors. His eyes met hers then looked away hurriedly.
“Sorry, lieutenant. Magnificent muscle tone,” he said.
Cadence pulled the tunic over her head. “Thank you.”
She was fastening her jacket when the doors hissed open on the bridge.
The bridge. She’d seen it a thousand times, but this time, it was more real than ever before. The viewscreen wasn’t just a vid terminal, it was a window overlooking the deck, with data overlaid. The hum and click of instruments was louder, not just a recording of ambient noise. Captain Spock, an imposing and stoic figure, stood in the center of the bridge, his hands behind his back, while Uhura spoke softly with spacedock and earth control from the communications station just aft of the rarely used tactical controls.
In the center seat, Captain Kirk turned. “Welcome aboard, Lieutenant. Station, please.”
“Aye, sir,” Cadence replied.
She stepped off the turbolift and crossed the bridge to the Ops station, where she took her seat, a seat previously held by another legend, Hikaru Sulu.
Chekov sat beside her and gave another comforting smile before turning to his own duties. Cadence nodded and turned to the console in front of her. The controls were familiar, she’d let her fingers dance over them more than three hundred times during her time at the academy, but different. Everything on Enterprise was taught, clean. There was a reason she was considered the best ship in the fleet.
“Course to Klingon Neutral zone locked in,” Chekov said.
“Take us out, Lieutenant, warp five,” Kirk said.
Cadence cocked her head. Regulations specifically prohibited using warp while still in-system. The potential for worm-holes and other hazards was severe as a result of the gravity wells generated by planets. Still, this was Captain Kirk, how did you tell Captain James T. Kirk he was breaking regs, and would he even care?
“Aye, sir,” she said. “Regulations require me to remind you warp speed is prohibited in system.”
Kirk nodded. “I’m aware.”
“Very well, sir. Warp five engaged.”