After the Voyage

     Commander Tara Levyson looked around Admiral LaSaille's gracious home while the Admiral himself delved back into the private areas of the house. Aleilan, the little Ane that followed him everywhere lay to one side of the study and chewed without comment.
      She had joined the Admiral while he was on leave at his home in the El Nanth system. As his new Aide she was to accompany him back to Earth.
     One shelf of books attracted her. They looked a little on the careworn side, and were made of real paper. Levyson studied the titles on the spines.
     The Admiral returned as she was peering at the books.
     "See something you want to read Tara?"
     "No, well, maybe. I don't know that I would want to touch them."
     Jerry quirked a smile. "Books are for reading."
     "I've never seen paper books outside a museum Sir. How old are these?"
     "Late 20th century, some early 21st."
     "And you have them on an open shelf?"
     "I had the lot acid stabilized back in '29. The process was a revolution at the time and saved a hell of a lot of books."
     "Where did you get them?" Her fingers ran down the ancient spines, just short of touching them.
     "Bookstores. Walk in select your title from the copies on the shelf, pay at the counter. That bunch is very lucky."
      "How so sir?"
     "I had packed my favorites and moved them to Purple House before my apartment was bombed."
     "Bombed?! Who would do such a thing?"
     "Green, Tara. Colonel Green."
     "Green was the 21st century. Wait, when you said '29 did you mean 2029?"
     "Yes Tara. I meant 2029." The deer in the headlights look was evident on her face. Jerry indicated a chair. "Have a seat."
     She sat. A badger brought her a drink. "I have heard you where old, but that old?"
     "Don't be too shocked, the Galaxy is a strange place. We were discussing books."
     "I took a minor in literature in the Academy. Heinlein I know has a sizable body of work. E. E. Smith I have never seen. And I have never seen anything but the two books by Anne McCaffery?"
     "McCaffery is one of my favorite authors. She was a sparking woman with a great sense of humor."
     "You met her?"
     Jerry smiled. He got up and took The White Dragon down from the shelf. "Take a look."
     Levyson handled the antique gingerly. She opened the cover and read. "'To Jerry LaSaille, Anne McCaffery.' She signed it for you?"
     "Yes. These shelves hold my first editions, my signed books. The books I love. They are all that survives of a much larger collection."
     "Sir, half these books are not even in the catalog?"
     "The White Dragon, Renegades of Pern, and more. They are not listed."
     Aleilan by this point had stopped chewing and tuned in as well. Jerry looked at the book in his hand. "You mean that one of my all time favorites has never gotten into the database?"
     "No Sir. I don't know why. But I would say a good half of your collection here is lost books."
     Jerry looked at the bookshelf slightly stunned. "I never even considered it. They were so popular I thought all of them would surely survive. Do you have your tricoder."
     "Of course Admiral."
     "Then let's rectify that lack right now." Jerry handed down the books while Levyson scanned them. "Once we get this done I'll have the lot replicated so I can enjoy them wherever I am."
      "That's pretty expensive Admiral. Wouldn't a reader be enough?"
     "I like my books Tara. The weight of a goo...."
     The house comm beeped for attention. Aleilan moved into range of the pickup. **Jerry, trouble.**
     LaSaille put down the book. As he digested the meaning of the trouble. **Hook in we need to get back now.** "Mr. Levyson, the household staff will have to finish, we are needed at the Starbase, now."


     LaSaille gently massaged his temples. At long last he raised his head. Around the operations control room for Starbase 220 you could hear a pin drop. Admiral Ti'Kora twitched and puffed his feathers.
      " your ships, save yourselves. This is our final message...."
     "Turn it off." LaSaille lurched from his chair and headed for the door.
     "Sir?" Levyson's face was lined with anguish. "What are we to do?"
     LaSaille stopped and looked back. "What do you suggest Commander? We are 74 light years from Earth."
     "I... I don't know sir." She sank into her chair.
      LaSaille walked over to her and rested his hand on her shoulder. "Tara, I want to do something. But I'm as much at a loss as you are. We are too far out, and no better equipped. If Earth can't handle it, what can we do? We don't have a super ship hidden in the back of the station."
      "I feel so utterly helpless."
     "As do I. Don't count the old Lady down yet Tara. Earth has survived before. And as much as the thought is not a comfort now, Earth is not the Federation. We are still here. Humanity will survive."
     She looked up though tear stained eyes. "What are you going to do?"
     "I know the location of a very fine bottle of bourbon Tara. I'm going to get a stiff drink, and remember Earth as I knew her."

     It took Jerry three tries to get the Savannah's door open, and he hadn't even reached that bourbon yet. He finally got to the wardroom door. Clarke and Aleilan were waiting for him.
     "Sit down Dad."
     "How did you know I would come here?"
     "Where else would you go when you feel like Hell?"
     **And don't ask how we know you feel like Hell.**
     Jerry grabbed her neck and buried his face in it. He stayed there a long time. At last he came up for air and pulled himself together. "So, how's your Mother?"
     "Mother is fine, she heard the report and was worried about you. She was afraid you would do something stupid, like get drunk. You're a lousy drunk."
     "I don't get much practice." The shadow of a smile crossed his lips. "You didn't hide my bourbon did you?"
     "No, it's in the rack where it always is."
     "No, that's happy bourbon. I don't think I'll drink that now. Where is the Black Jack? Nasty stuff, perfect for a pity party."
     "It's in the rack too."
     Jerry searched the overhead for a moment and came down with the required bottle and glasses. "Want?"
     "One. You should have one too."
     "You're right." Jerry poured the glasses and put the bottle back.
     Clarke looked the whiskey over and took a thoughtful sip. "Earth is in it deep this time."
     "Yea, happens every couple of decades, and no Kirk to help this time."
     "Where is he?"
     "Vulcan, having his own pity party. It's all top secret, I shouldn't even think about it without a tinfoil hat on."
     "So, why did you come down here."
     Jerry smiled sadly. "It's my own little piece of Earth." He softly caressed the bulkhead. "Built of Earth, by Humans. There are bits of the past in this hull. Bits of Home."
     "I thought Savanna was home?"
     Jerry took a sip. "So did I. I guess Earth still means something to me. Why else do I keep that old farm?"
     Clarke leaned in. "You are not going to start singing My Old Kentucky Home."
     "No, half a drink is not nearly drunk enough for that."
     **For which all present are grateful.**
     **Et tu Aleilan?**
     **I get the headache too.**
     He kissed her nose. **I understand.**
     "Dad, let's go home."
Jerry drained his glass. "All right. Let's go home."


     Clarke joined his Father on the veranda. The distant storms back lit by the fading sun. "So Kirk pulled another rabbit from his hat."
     Jerry swirled the juice in his glass. "Yep. The gods favor that one. Earth is saved, and the hero triumphs."
     "No...Hell no. Better him than me. It's been a long time since I wanted to be a hero. The job is too dangerous and the side benefits are too fleeting."
     "What now?"
     "I head back to Earth. My leave is over at the end of the week in any case. I'll grab Commander Levyson in the morning and we can head back by Express."
     "Mom worries about you."
     Jerry shot Clarke a look, it was a curious change of subject. "She can always join me on Earth, I've said as much to her directly."
     "That's not what she wants."
     "She knew I was in Starfleet when she begged me to marry her."
     "Yea. I know. It sucks being caught in the middle."
     "Clarke, you are your own man. It's time you left the nest."
     "Who will take care of Mom?"
     "No one here goes without what they need. Your presence is a want."
     "It's hard to say no."
     "That is the nature of life Son. The good things are seldom easy."
     "I'll think about it."
     "Well, I'm turning in for the night. I need to be up bright and early to get back to Earth, and see what is left of things."
     "Good night dad."

     Morning came, Jerry slept well enough. He spent a half hour giving Aleilan a good scritch. **Now, can you handle Cmd. Levyson and myself?**
     **How heavily does she pack?**
     **Like most Starfleet, a single duffel. Uniforms can be had anywhere. I don't think she has gold bars packed in it.**
     **Let's hit the scales at the station just to make sure. A mistake can be costly.**
     **I can also recruit another body.**
     **I can handle it, as long as she doesn't have a full set of luggage.**
     **Good, let's get some breakfast and hit the road. I am taking the shuttle back to the station. I don't want you making two long ranged jumps in a day.**
     **Okay. Then we need to get going.**

     Jerry piloted the shuttle with practiced ease. "Affirmative Builder's Station, shuttle 34 on the beam five by five."
     "Copy that." Replied station control.
     **You love that Astronaut talk.** Aleilan had her head stuck in the cockpit.
     Jerry ruffled her mane. **Yes I do. Oh, we left your badger.**
     **I have the one at Bellicolone.**
     **Then it won't be a problem. Good thing, with the badger we would need a second lifter.**
     **One of the reasons I spread them around.**
     **It will have been in the closet for three weeks. I'll give it a quick service check.**
     Station control broke back in. "Shuttle 34 you are on landing approach, enjoy your stay at Starbase 220."
     "Copy that, shuttle 34 out." Jerry quickly and efficiently ran the shutdown procedure after the the shuttle was down. He grabbed his duffel, turned the shuttle over to the hanger personnel, and cleared the hanger. Once out of the hanger working area he got his communicator out.
     "Station Communications."
     "Admiral LaSaille, patch me to Commander Levyson."
     "Affirmative Admiral."
     "Levyson here."
     "Levyson, LaSaille. Were are you now?"
     "I'm in my quarters Admiral, clearing out."
     "Good, remain there Aleilan and I will met you. LaSaille out."
     **Got a lifter.** Aleilan was in the back of the cargo car.
     **Good.** Jerry tossed his duffel in and took it into the accommodations section of the massive station..
     After leaving the lifter at the major cross way a short walk took them to Levyson's apartment. Jerry rang the call.
     They entered. "Good morning Tara."
     "Morning Sir. OK, I have everything ready. How are we doing this?"
     "We are teleporting. Athena?"
     "Give me a mass reading for Commander Levyson and her duffel."
     "86.182 550 3 kilograms."
     Levyson looked at LaSaille curiously. "What was that for?"
     "Safety. Aleilan can lift twice her mass. She weights in at 166 kilograms. I and my gear mass 113. I have to be sure you didn't have the crown jewels or something in you gear."
     "What happens if you are over the mass limit?"
     "Depending on how over the mass limit it can kill. It isn't a hard line."
     "Oh. Are we good
     "Yes, 113 and 86 are less than 336, we are good to go." **Ready Aleilan.**
     "Tara, get a good hard grip on your duffel. And grab Aleilan's horn like we did to get to Builder Station yesterday."
     Jerry stepped up and matched her actions.
     "Okay, open you eyes."
     "That stuffed ear feeling again." Levyson wracked her jaw around.
     "Pressure differential. I've never gotten use to it." LaSaille was matching her actions.
     She looked around at the plastered walls and elegant wood work. "Where are we?"
     Jerry spent another moment getting his ears to pop. "Bellicolone, my home in Kentucky. Aleilan has a badger to pick up, and I want to check on the farm. After what Earth just went through I am worried about my horses."
     A dark skinned man came out of a door into the foyer. "Mr Jerold, I thought I heard an arrival."
     "An arrival?" Levyson was looking around.
     Jerry explained. "The teleport displaces air, it is noisy in a confined space."
     "I didn't hear anything?"
     "Those in the teleport never do. Jacob, I need a report on the condition of the farm."
     "If you will come in the office Mr Jerrold I can do that for you."
     Jerry turned to Leveyson. "Tara." He indicated an open door behind them. "If you want to wait in the parlor I'll rejoin you shortly." With that he entered the office with Jacob Martin.
     Jerry took a seat in front of the desk. "Jacob, how bad is it?"
     Jacob resumed the seat he left when he heard them arrive. "Well, all considered we can't complain. We have some roof damage to the Big Barn. Nothing we can't fix. We didn't loose any horses. None of the housing was damaged and no one was injured."
     Jerry relaxed back into his chair. "Yea, the farm got off easy. Outside of the Big Barn what more needs repaired?"
     "We lost some fencing in the western pastures Mr Jerold. The low ground took some mighty flooding. Them old posts just bubbled up right out of the ground. Was all washed clean away."
     "Fix what needs fixing. I'll not tell you your job. I am grateful we lost no people or stock."
     "Grateful indeed Mr. Jerold. Claiborne lost half their barns to flood."
     Jerry winced at the news. He knew how that would hurt him. "See what assistance we can get Claiborne, or any farm that was hard hit."
     "Yes Mr. Jerold. Miss Lilly will be glad to have you back."
     Jerry wagged his eyebrows. "I hope I still pass muster. Miss Lilly is not an easy master."
     "No Mr. Jerold, you be the one that owns this farm."
     "You tell that to Miss Lilly."
     "I happen to like living Mr. Jerold, happens I do."
     Jerry clapped him on the shoulder as they rose. "Keep it up Jacob and you'll have me drawling like I never left the place."
     "Well Mr Jerold, the tourists, they do expect it, and they don't teach this on Deneva."
     Jerry laughed. "I better see to my bag, and Aleilan's badger. Call me if anything unusual comes up."
     "Will do."
     They both left the office. Jacob back out to the farm and Jerry into the main house. He crossed to the parlor he had indicated to Cmd. Levyson.
     The parlor was an eclectic mix of styles from the 19th century to the 21st. Levyson was looking at an ancient screen perched on a bookshelf.
     "It's not responding Sir. Who do we call for repair?"
     "For that? No one as far as I know. Tara, that's a 21st century plasma screen high definition television. It was on the fritz back in 2050. I don't think it works at all now."
     "Twenty-first century? Shouldn't it be in a museum?"
     "I'd call one if it worked. I was too busy to replace it then, and it has become a bit of a fixture. I suppose I could have the old guts pulled out and modern comm gear installed."
     "Sir, that's a priceless artifact."
     "Tara, the whole house is a 'priceless artifact'. That chair you're sitting on is from the 1860s." She jumped up, carefully. "Sit down. Everything in this house is an antique, including the house."
     "How can you live here?"
     "It's the family estate. You might as well ask the Windsors how they can live in Windsor castle. The house was first built in 1833."
     "First built?"
     "Yes, it was largely destroyed in 1971 by a tornado. I had it rebuilt. We recovered a good deal of the furniture. Haunting antique shops or modern work replaced the rest."
     "How do you replace such an old house?"
     "With improvements. Central heat and air conditioning, insulation and hidden double pane glass if I recall. We kept the look antebellum, but modernized throughout. I have it gone over every 50 years and improved as required. Why do you think this house is standing solid when younger buildings have not? The parlor is something of a family museum. That musket over the fireplace for example, it was used by Paul LaSaille as a member of the Union army in the American Civil War. Other kids in school were taught history. I had it on the wall. Farm records go back unbroken to the original deed in 1833."
     "I've always lived in city apartments. I thought this kind of thing was history."
     "It is history. The only reason the estate has lasted is some careful work by myself and people I trusted. It also involved a bit of shooting in Green's War."
     "What do you do with it?"
     "Raise horses. The farm started as a walking horse stud. Since the 20th century we have expanded into breed preservation. You will find the Bellicolone Stud on the list of biological preservation sites. You need a lot of open land to breed and raise horses. Bellicolone is one of less than a dozen farms that still operate. Let's take a walk."
Jerry suited actions to words and headed out the front of the house. Aleilan looked up from her grazing as he came out and wandered over to join them. Jerry noted a crew in the willow grove picking up fallen branches with a lifter. It looked like one of the trees hadn't survived. "Tara, I intend to live here as long as possible. Duty might take me away, but while stationed on Earth I live in my own home."
     What is expected of an Admiral's aide Sir?"
     "Mostly it's a nine to five job. I can't expect Starfleet Command to alter its operations for little old me, so it is late to bed and late to rise, by local time."
     "Am I expected to be on call?"
     "Not to the degree you need to sleep under the same roof I do if that is what you're thinking."
     "Yes sir, that had crossed my mind."
     "Keep your independence. We will see enough of each other during duty hours that we don't need to be bumping into each other on the way to the bathroom in the middle of the night."
     Levyson looked relieved. "I've heard some tales sir."
     "Of Admirals that wanted aides waiting hand and foot?"
     "I've heard them too, but I've never run into those Admirals. There are demanding men and women in the service, and I am one of them, but not that demanding."
     As they spoke a horse wandered over to the fence. Jerry gave it a fond pat. Levyson looked askance at the horse.
     "Do horses bother you?"
     "I can't really say. I've never been this close to one."
     "We'll save the horse lessons for another day."
     "This is all so different. The sights, the sounds and smells. I never dreamed that a world like this could even exist as a child in Jerusalem."
     "The rural life is a fragment of a bygone era. The world this farm represents was dying at the time that the Stud was at it most prosperous, the late 20th century. My investments in other endeavors support the Stud. It loses money every year, even with the endowment of the BPS. If it hadn't been for the Ansisi looking after my affairs I would have lost the farm between 2063 and 2210."
     "You were gone over a hundred and fifty years?"
     "Yes, it's one of the reasons I regard Landing City as much home as I do Bellicolone."
     "I can't wrap my head around that Admiral. I can't conceive of someone being that old."
     "Most people cannot. Don't worry about it. Live in the here and now. Speaking of which, we should get back to Frisco. No doubt the whole place is upside down."
     "I'll get my bag. Are we teleporting?"
     "No, I won't ask Aleilan to do that twice in a day. We'll use the transporters."
     They returned to the hall leaving Aleilan to graze.
     Levyson looked back. "What about Aleilan?"
     Jerry smiled. "She'll join me if she wants to. We are not joined at the hip. Let me get my duffel upstairs and see that her badger is good to go."
     "Shall I come?"
     "It will save me the trip back down."
     Tara grabbed her duffel and followed him upstairs. Jerry dumped his bag in his bedroom and went to the closet. The badger was patiently waiting were it was left.
     **Activate.** He thought at the machine.
     It jerked into motion, and looked up at him. **Working.**
     **Diagnose, level one.**
     **Command accepted.**
     Jerry left it to run the program and started putting things away. Tara watched the bot.
     "Is it doing anything?"
     "Yes, running a level one diagnosis. It has a telepathic interface so the Ane can deal with them. It will take voice commands, but the default is telepathic." He got the last of his socks packed and hauled his PADD out of the duffel.
     **Unit is functioning nominally.** Replied the Badger.
     **Take station in the foyer.**
     The little bot walked out, closed the closet door and left the room, again closing the door behind it.
     "What now?"
     "It will stand in the foyer and follow her around the house . If she needs something picked up or done, it does it."
     "How sophisticated are they?"
      "Sophisticated enough. They don't have feelings or much personality. Forget conversation. About the level of the average household agent, but in a self mobile body. That's everything. Let's get back to work."
     Levyson grimaced. "I'm not looking forward to this."

     Jerry smiled. "You are getting tossed into the lion's den. Commander Baker is not scheduled to leave for another two weeks, so you will have someone to help you transition. If things are as bad as I think I may need both of you." He took his communicator out. "Starfleet Command."
     "Starfleet Command here."
     "This is Admiral LaSaille, I need transport for two to Starfleet Headquarters."
     "I am sorry Admiral, transporter repeaters are still out of commission."
     "Understood, LaSaille out. Well, that sucks."
     "What do we do?"
     "I'll see if someone can give us a 'port."
     "You didn't want Aleilan...."
     "She is never the only Ane on the farm. Let me call around. Here." LaSaille indicated a couple of wing back chairs. Have a seat, this could take a second."
     Levyson sat as did the Admiral. He got that blank look he had when communicating with telepathy. She sat back and waited.
     **Hello. Who is on the farm right now?**
     Several voices answered his.
     **I need a lift to Starfleet Command for two. Anyone up to that.**
     Calilan came to the front. **I can do it Jerry.**
     **Come up to my bedroom then?**
     **I'll hit inside the hall. I don't want to mess with the stairs.**
     **Suit yourself.**
     A dull WHUMPH! Thudded against the bedroom door. Jerry snapped to and got up to get the door. Levyson sat startled.
     Calilan came through the door. LaSaille tuned to Levyson. Well, grab you bag."
     "That whump sound?"
     "Yes that was the teleport. Same procedure. Close your eyes, and grab a horn." **Starfleet Headquarters, my office would be best. Do you need a sight picture?**
     Calilan answered. **Got it from Aleilan.**
     **When you're ready.**

     "Intruder Alert, Intruder Alert." Blared the computer.
     "Cancel alert, code instant." Grumbled LaSaille. "You think I could get that thing to figure it out." He looked around.
     Several people were staring at them. Most of them workmen replacing the big picture window. The office itself was a mess, it was clear the majority of the damage had been cleared out, but he could feel the carpet sodden under his boots and his desk didn't look functional. Among the people in the room and the only one not staring was Commander Baker trying to get the desk back up and running.
     "Good morning Sir." He didn't even look up from the work.
     "What is working around here Chris."
     "Precious little but the people." He turned to the staring workforce. "Carry on, you've never seen a teleport before?"
     They got busy with the window again.
     "Cmd Baker, meet Cmd Levyson. She will be taking your place in two weeks."
     Baker came around the desk to shake hands. "Welcome to Starfleet Headquarters. I wish I was handing the place over to you in better shape."

    "If I might ask, why are you leaving?"
     "I got a command, science ship the USS Karkamoss. Hopefully she is still in one piece."
     Jerry looked over the desk. "Truthfully losing Chris is a blow. But I'm not going to hold him up. Chris, is the intercom working?"
     "Not in here. The one on my desk functions."
     "How bad is it?"
     "Your desk? It got a good soaking. We had an centimeter of water in here last night. Crews have been cleaning since the clouds cleared out."
     "The core is working. A lot of the terminals are in this shape."
     "Okay, Carry on, I'll use your desk to get an Ensign. We do still have Ensigns, don't we?"
     "They are in short supply. With so much down everybody wants one."
     "I'll do my best. Tara, come with me and don't set that down in here."
     "Ah, right." She lifted the duffel she was about to set on the floor and squished after the Admiral.

     The outer office was not in quite the disarray of the inner one. Two engineers had a trunk open on the floor. LaSaille looked over their work.
     "Is the desk running."
     "Yessir. That much is working."
     Jerry touched the intercom. "Personnel."
     It took a long moment before the call was finally answered. "Personnel Office, Lt. Derveck."
     "Lieutenant, this is Admiral LaSaille. I need someone in my office to escort Commander Levyson to her new quarters."
     "One moment sir, let me make sure the BOQ is functioning." Said moment passed. "Yes Admiral. We have quarters available that are not flooded. I'll send someone right up to you."
     Tara looked at LaSaille quizzically. "You don't want me to get to work?"

     "Yes, once you get settled in. The way things look it will be late and you'll get to your quarters with nothing ready. At least learn were you are laying your head and set you toothbrush on the sink."
     "As you wish sir."
     The door swished open framing an Ensign wearing a harried look. "Ensign Marks reporting Sir."
     "Mr. Marks, see Commander Levyson to her quarters please."
     "Yes Sir. Sir, if you will follow me. The route is rather round ab...." The door closed on his last comment.
     Chris Baker came into the outer office. "I think it's dead. I can't get any response from it."
     "Then we need a new one up here quick. Pull rank. We have to get the office back up and running like it should. We have ships to find and a few to rescue."

     Aleilan popped in with a whoosh. "Intruder Alert int..."
     "Cancel alert, code instant." spoke LaSaille and Baker as one. Jerry shook his head. Once we get everything working I have got to teach the computer what a teleport means.
     "Good luck Sir. We haven't been able to as of yet."
     **Finish your grazing?**
     **Yep. I got the how bad. Anything I can do?**
     **Right now, I don't think so. If you two girls will stay out of the way for a while.**
     Aleilan and Calilan did a bit of rubbing and settled into the far corner to chew.
     The door opened again to reveal a crew with a vacuum and tank. LaSaille pointed over his shoulder. "Main office." They continued without a word.
     "Chris looked up from his searching. "I found a desk. It should be here within the hour."
     "Did you have to pull rank?"
     "Yes I did."
     "Note who for when it comes up again. Now, where are Kirk and company being kept?"
     "Security, but we have some complications."
     "We have plenty of those. Why are these special?"
     "Spock is with them."
     Jerry sat down. "Now my head hurts."
     "And they have a civilian with them."
     "Drop the other shoe."
     "From the 20th century."
     "Now my head really hurts. Spock, alive, and a civilian from the 20th century."
     "That would be the case sir."
     "Life is never dull. I don't suppose they are in Security as well?"
     "No sir, neither is charged with anything."
     "Find where Spock is, and the civilian as well." He levered himself from the chair. "I am heading down to Security." **Aleilan?**
     **I'll observe from here.**
     **Love you.**


     The Security block wasn't in the mess that his office was, but they did not go in for large picture windows either. The security officers came to attention as he entered, then checked is ID and clearance.
     "I'm here to see Admiral Kirk."
     "Cell 7 sir. I'll take you back."
     "Interview room. Bring him there."
     "Yes sir."
     LaSaille waited while Kirk was fetched. Kirk came in wearing a security jumper. His face was carefully neutral. Someone had seen he had a hair brush at least. LaSaille had expected a man haggard and worn, but Kirk looked surprisingly well for the ordeal that he and his crew had recently undergone.
     "Admiral Kirk. You have caused me a great deal of complication."
     "Admiral LaSaille, I'm sorry about the complication."
     "Have you been debriefed yet?"
     "No sir."
     Jerry rubbed the bridge of his nose. "Then I shouldn't ask you too much."
     "No sir, I wouldn't be able to answer."
     "I ought to slug you into next week."
     "If it would make you feel better."
     " wouldn't. I want to ask why."
     "But I can tell you yet. I can say I think the reason is obvious."
     "Pretty obvious. It seem it worked out better than you hoped."
     Kirk's wry grin flashed briefly across his face. "Much, much better."
     "I can't promise anything until I get the debriefing reports. I ought to throw the book at the lot of you."
     "Yes sir, you should. I did wrong and I admit it."
     Jerry came up short, it was a dangerous admission before the debriefings. "You plan to plead guilty?"
     "Yes, I do."
     Jerry nodded. "Kirk you have my respect, if not my approval."
     "Admiral LaSaille, you have always impressed me as a man whose respect was worth earning."
     The door opened and a Vulcan in a black robe entered. "I am Advocate Sorok. I have been asked to represent Admiral Kirk. It would be unfortunate if the debriefing had started already Admiral LaSaille."
     "No, this is a personal visit. Are you the only advocate?"
     "No Admiral LaSaille. My colleagues are seeing to the others as we speak."
     "Good, we can get this debriefing underway. I'll see to getting things moving. Oh and Jim, good luck, I mean it." LaSaille left Kirk with the advocate. He stopped at the security desk. "Why isn't Kirk in uniform?"
     "Sir, they came in off the bay soaked to the skin. We were not given orders about uniforms."
     "I'm giving them now. Every officer is to have a proper uniform. Is that clear?"
     "Aye aye Sir."
     "Carry on."


      Heihachiro Nogura entered the plush office of the Earth President. Even here in Geneva the ravages of the Whale Probe weather could be seen. Mohammad Saad rose from behind his desk to shake his hand. "Admiral, good of you to come. I realize my request comes at an awkward time, but it is something that cannot wait."
     "I believe sir I can guess what you desire."
     "Let me be explicit anyway. It was the vote of Earth Alliance Council to request that Admiral Kirk and his crew be pardoned of any charges they might face, be it Starfleet regulation or Federation law."
     "I can understand your desires in this matter Mr. President. I may not be in a position to act on them in all cases. It is also unusual to ask for a pardon for charges that have not been decided."
     "There is however precedent, if you go back far enough in history. If it wasn't for Kirk and his people we would not be speaking on these matters at all. We believe that a clear case can be made that greater good was done than any harm that might have been caused."
     "I will not question the good, sir. But the law is the law. There are unrelated issues at question. These questions must be dealt with."
     "Circumstance is a funny thing Admiral. If Kirk had not gone off on this mission of his, against orders, he would not have been in a position to do anything. He would have been stuck on Earth with the rest of us."
     "Circumstance is indeed amusing as you say Mr. President. I will promise that we will give this...circumstance...the positive actions of Admiral Kirk, and the requests of Earth Dome all the consideration they are due. I cannot speak for the Federation Council, or my staff however. I cannot promise the future."
     "I'll take what I can get Admiral. Do keep in mind that Earth Dome requests this in the strongest possible language."
     "You are presenting this to the Federation Council as well?"
     President Saad waved the papers on his desk. "Personally, as soon as we are done here."
     Nogura gave a short bow. "Then I will not impede your errand Mr President. I too have urgent business."


     Admiral LaSaille entered the Starfleet CIC. Here again the ravages were still being repaired. Several starships were in the screens being communicated with. The Probe was being tracked, at a distance. LaSaille went to the situation board.
     "Saratoga, what is her condition?"
     "They have power restored Sir. They are not yet underway, but are not in danger of losing life support."
     "Good, anyone else in danger at this moment?"
     "No sir. All units are reporting at least partially operational."
     "All units are resuming normal patrols as ordered."
     LaSaille tapped the console for a few minutes absorbing the situation reports. "Well done. Keep me informed of any changes. I'll be around."


     Kirk felt at least semi normal back in uniform. His fellow "conspirators" sat around a common table enjoying lunch. Not much was being said. Not much really needed to be said. Their Vulcan advocates ate at a different table.
     "So Admiral." Chekhov broke the silence. " Are ve going to get bail?"
     Kirk wagged his eyebrows. "You'll know as soon as I do Pavel. I'm not going to turn it down."
     Sulu stabbed his lunch again. "I would be nice to get out of this fishbowl."
     "Save the world and go to jail." Drawled McCoy. "No good deed goes unpunished, you should know that Hiraku."
     Scotty grunted. "At least, we did what we set to do lads. Did it and more. Aye, but the cost was high."
     Uhura fiddled with her fork. "Scotty, I think we did as well as could be expected."
     "Aye lass, but it hurts noon the less."
     The one advocate who was not at lunch entered the chamber. He spoke briefly with his fellows. The head of the team came over to the officer's table.
     "Gentle beings, your desires have been agreed with. Ta'kal has brought word that your parole request has been granted. It is however required that you continue to attend debriefings."
     "Well." Chirped Kirk. "You can't have everything."


     LaSaille shuffled the data around his screen again. Rearranging it wasn't getting the work done. There still was plenty to do in repairing Starfleet Headquarters, but that wasn't his department. His department had come off lightly. Little of the fleet strength was at or near Earth. For all the local devastation Starfleet was mostly unharmed. The main issues before him was the loss of Enterprise, and the same matters that plagued his department before he went on leave. Too many places for too few ships and people. Enterprise was being dealt with. The latter, would be slightly improved if he still had Enterprise.
     **Don't start stressing out on that again.**
     **Gotya girl. Do what you can and don't worry too much about what you can't do. Well at least Enterprise is an moot issue. I can't regret the lack of assignment for a ship that has been destroyed.**
     **But you do.**
     **I would be preaching to the choir. Heck, very close to arguing with myself to go over it with you again. Enterprise is gone, and we can't get her back.**
     **But you would love to open a can of whup ass on a few politicos.**
     **For all the good it would do, yes, I would. Finagle take them all. Meet me at Chisto's Cafe for lunch. I need out of this office.**
     **I'm on the front lawn, we can walk together.**


     It was late afternoon by the time Admiral James Kirk walked into his office at Star Fleet Academy. The place it didn't belong to him--or he to it. At least his office was in the lee of the storm and didn't suffer any damage.
     It was not that long ago that he left here to save a friend's soul. And he found that returning was uncomfortable. Not that it really mattered. Chances were he was done in Starfleet, cashiered from the service in disgrace. He might as well clean his office out now.
     It took a moment to get a box from the fabricator. He started taking down the objects his office was decorated with and to place them in the box. He stopped with a 19th century chronometer in his hands. When did he get so much stuff? Was it only a few years ago he could throw everything that mattered to him in a duffel bag and move? Now he had...stuff. And in the end, it had him. Bones was right. He had become part of the collection. He sat at his desk and placed the antique instrument down gently. He noted it had wound down in his absence. A metaphor for where he stood?
     Kirk felt a sudden clarity of moment. A clean wave of feeling that washed his soul of the heaviness. He was done here. No mater what happened at the trial, he would not be flying a desk again. And that thought was at this moment the happiest he had ever had. He would not be chained to that desk.
     Kirk touched the call button. "Carol?"
     "Yes Jim."
     "Carol, I need to find an antique dealer. Do you think you could help me with that?"
     "I'll see what I can find Jim."
     "Do that please. I need to finish packing."
     With a lighter heart Kirk packed the items, this time to be done with them. He was getting back down to a single duffel, even if it was to carry to prison.


     Night settled gently around the house. Jerry sat on the porch with a cold glass of tea in one hand and his favorite Ane under the other. The night sounds drifted around them.
     **It's been a while.**
     Jerry ruffled her mane. **Yes, but it feels comfortable now. I think I've gotten the old ghosts to rest.**
     **What about Kirk and company?**
     **I'll know more tomorrow.**
     **You didn't see Scotty.**
     Jerry signed. **I couldn't. After Kirk said they hadn't been debriefed yet. I didn't think I could trust myself to say the safe things.**
     **Vulcan advocates?**
     **They have friends in Vulcan places.**

     **Yes, Sarek would see to that. Spock on the other hand, this is unexpected.**
     **To say the least. I suspect things have not begun to get interesting.** Jerry tapped the arm of his chair.
     **You don't feel enthused about it.**
     **Exciting is seldom as wonderful as advertised. Well time to turn in. I'll hopefully know more tomorrow.**


     LaSaille had a surprise, well an expected surprise waiting for him when he came into the office. Capitan Spock and a young woman he didn't know were waiting. He was surprised to see Spock in uniform. The two stood as he entered the office.
     "Captain, good to see you, and..."
     Spock stepped forward. "Miss Gillian Taylor Sir, Cetacean specialist. Miss Taylor, Vice Admiral Jerold LaSaille, Chief of Fleet Operations."
     "How do you do." Jerry put on his best smile and gave her his hand.
     "And you sir." She didn't seem quite as enthusiastic. but shook his hand none the less.
     LaSaille indicated the inner office. "Come in please, we'll see how well the crews have repaired things. Ah Chris, Tara, how are the debriefings going?"
     "Second round starts to day sir. The reports are on your desk." Answered Chris.
     "Keep me informed."
     "Will do Admiral."
     LaSaille ushered Spock and Miss Taylor into his office. He was relieved to find that almost everything was in place. Some of the more fragile decorations had not been replaced as of yet, but the carpet didn't squish under foot and his desk was functional.
     "Mr. Spock, I am surprised to find you in uniform."
     "My duties have not abated Admiral. I do not wish them to do so. I will resume where I left off."
     "If that is your choice I see no reason it should not be so." LaSaille pulled the relevant report up on his desk. "I see the Vulcan doctors have passed you as fit physically and mentally. Your commission has not been reactived yet. I'll do so now. Done. Welcome back."

     Miss Taylor looked confused. "I thought he was like...dead?"
     Jerry smiled. "Miss Taylor, people have been mistakenly declared 'dead' before. Mechanisms exist to rectify those mistakes. They can be used even if the death was not mistaken, but the individual got better. Captain Spock's case will doubtless have the medical and physics people tittering for years. Not my problem. Spock is fit, he wishes to continue, I make is so. Your case on the other hand...People from out of time are less common."
     "I was placed with the refugee office."
     "An appropriate place I think. Are you well, are you getting what you need?"
     "Yes, I think, everything is so confusing. I'm worried about the whales."
     LaSaille again turned to his computer. "They are hanging around off San Francisco bay. I see my friends have been requested to speak to them."
     "Your friends?"
     "Ane, Miss Taylor. A telepathic species. They will be able to communicate quite lucidly. The whales are in good hands. And have oceans full of fish. I see by the preliminary report you jumped the transporter. Do not ever do that again."
     "Admiral Kirk explained, it's very dangerous."
     "Yes, you're lucky Scotty is one of the best transporter operators there is. I won't re-lecture you."
     Spock broke in. "Admiral. Miss Taylor and myself should be debriefed as well. While no charges stand against us, we are witnesses and participants in the events which unfolded."
     Miss Taylor jumped in. "Yea, about that. Why are Admiral Kirk and the others being held? Didn't they just save the world?"
     "I believe...yes...Kirk and company have been given bail. There are other issues of which you are not aware Miss Taylor. I trust that all issues will work out in the end. However all actions must be weighed, the negative as well as the positive. As the inquiry progresses you will learn more. Mr. Spock, have you taken it upon yourself to shepherd Miss Taylor?"
     "I am the one person she knows, if only slightly Admiral. I understand that Humans are comforted by a familiar face. There is the matter as well of no one truly familiar with her age."
     "The latter would be myself Mr. Spock. I'm a sort of creature out of time as well."
     "I was unaware Admiral that you are displaced in time."
     "I'm not, I have endured. I was born in the mid twentieth century."
     "Indeed, as Mr. Flint?"
     "I don't know the reference, but you have me curious."
     "Enterprise log entries starting Stardate 5843.7. I will allow you to draw your own conclusions."
     "I'll look it up. Meanwhile we have to deal with the here and now. I am equipped to handle aspects of your adaption Miss Taylor. Do not hesitate to call me."
     "Where do I find a phone?"
     Ah yes, telephone technology is in the past. We do however have replacements." LaSaille pressed the call.
     "Levyson here."
     "Mr. Levyson, I need a communicator in my office, civilian model."
     "Aye aye Admiral."
     "Communicators have replace telephones as you understand them. Both in fixed and mobile units it is a wireless technology working at super luminal speed. Necessary for real time conversation around the solar system and even to interstellar distances."
     Cmd. Levyson entered with the required communicator. "Tara, place Miss Taylor on my cleared list. Any call from her is to be sent to me at once."
     "Aye aye sir."
     Jerry placed the communicator open on his desk and did a few things. He then handed the communicator to Gillian. "You will by default get the local office, San Fransisco in this case. Ask for who you want by name. You will be routed through. As you accumulate contacts you don't need to go through the local office. You open your communicator, speak the name of your contact and you will be put through. Ask for Jerold Ryan LaSaille and you will be put through to me at once. Mr. Spock?"
     "My communicator is open to her as well."
     Gillian frowned. "Why Mr. Spock, but people call you Spock without the Mister?"
     "Spock is my given name Miss Taylor. Vulcan family names are notoriously difficult to pronounce to anyone not raised in the language. It is an accommodation I have become agreeable with."
     "Oh. About the whales. Humpbacks are a social species. They don't have anyone else. That won't be good for them or the calf. What can be done?"
     "One minute Miss Taylor. I'll inquire." **Aleilan? Do we have any whale tales?**
     Aleilan answered at once. **Yes we do. We did get to the Humpbacks before the species was wiped out. A continuation will be possible. There are analogs as well that would thrive here. The preservers moved more than Humans, as we are evidence.**
     Jerry tuned back to Gillian. "The good news is the Ane did get their tales. The tales and legends of the humpback survive them. I have also been informed that humpbacks do exist on other worlds. We can seek colonists for a pristine ocean."
     "What did you just do?"
     "Telepathy Miss Taylor. I 'talked' to my bond mate. She told me what is known and what is being done. Due to your efforts and with the aid of others the humpback culture and population will be restored."
     "Is everyone in Starfleet?"
     Jerry laughed. "No, but I can see where that impression comes from. Most people are not in Starfleet. However San Fransisco, for better or for worse has become a Fleet town. Starfleet headquarters is here, so we kind of take the place over."
     "I hardly recognize anything. The bridge is about all that is left."
     "And that by dint of a great effort."
     "Where are you from? If I can ask."
     "Lexington, Kentucky. I grew up on a horse farm just to the Northeast of town."
     She looked skeptical. "You don't sound southern."
     "Hony chil' Get me a glass o' sweet tea and the riaght company anh y'all could never tell Ah left. Seriously, I've spent more time away then I have there, but the drawl does sneak back in when I least expect it. A need to sound professional has taken the honey out of my regional accent."
     "What about Scotty?"
     "Oh yes, I know Scotty well. We went to school together. I think he works on it in front of the mirror at night. His accent has lessened over the years. When I first met him it was so thick you could barely understand him. Frankly it gave him hell in the Academy."
     Spock raised an eyebrow. "Admiral, I was unaware that you and Mr. Scott were in the same class."
     "Same class, Same cadet team. Circumstance has prevented us from serving together." LaSaille's call lit up. "LaSaille here,"
     "I have advocates here to interview Captain Spock and Miss Taylor."
     Taylor was starting to look worried. "Are they going to be, aggressive?"

     "No", LaSaille made a dismissive motion. "You will have one advocate there that will look out for your interests. If you need a break, food, anything say so. It's an interview, not an interrogation. They will seek to tease the facts out of the matter. You can have a fair witness as well if you choose."
     "What is that?"
     "Someone trained in eidetic recall and observation. I'll ask Aleilan to attend if you wish. She is a truthteller and they serve the same function."
     "How does that help?"
     "Fair witness or truthteller, if they are in the position of advocate they will stop leading questions. We are after facts, not a certain set of constructed 'facts'. They are a brake on an interview going bad."
     "I would like to meet Aleilan."
     "Okay." Jerry waited for it. Aleilan popped in.

      "Intru... " "Cancel Alert, code instant." He turned to Spock. "Mr. Spock, your skill with computers is legendary. Is there any way to stop the system from taking an Ane teleport as a reason for an alert?"
     "I can investigate the matter if you wish Admiral."
     Meanwhile, Miss Taylor was trying to find her jaw. She only had eyes for Aleilan. "You're, beautiful."
     **Why thank you Gillan.**
     "That was, wow. Are you an Ane?"
     **Yes Gillan. I am an Ane.**
     "The touch of your voice is, I don't know how to describe it but it's wow."
     **That will do for now. Why don't we talk.**
     "Sure, anything."
     Jerry watched Aleilan lead Miss Taylor off. "Mr Spock, I take it you do not need special help."
     "No sir, I am quite capable of declaring what I am aware of."
     "I'll leave you to that then. I need to dig into the records so far."


     LaSaille consulted the chrono. He had been working on these debriefing reports far too long. His neck ached and he was hungry. The door to his office swished open. It was Chris with Aleilan and a tray. He didn't even look at the contents, he knew it would be what he wanted. Aleilan saw to that.
     "Chris." He said around a bite. "Send in what Fleet business needs my attention. I'll take care of that then I'm heading home."
     "Aye, aye sir. Any more debriefings?"
     "No, I'll be dreaming about the bloody things. I don't want you and Cmd. Levyson working yourselves stupid either. We'll all be fresher for a night's sleep."
     "Aye aye sir."
     Jerry polished off the small sandwich in a few quick bites. **That wasn't nearly enough. Did Miss Lily make something wonderful?**
     **In the keeper when you get home.**
     **Then let me dig into this quickly.** He stopped and looked at the list on the desk. **Did you read it?**
     **Chris always lets me read it.**
     **Anything that will cost lives if I don't deal with it now?**
     **Let's go home. My eyes are crossing.** He got up from the desk and snaked an arm around Aleilan. They were back in their bedroom. With efficient motions he stripped his uniform and walked straight into the shower. He turned it on hot and hard, letting the beads of water beat the stress out of his body. The dry field striped the water off him as he got out of the shower. He grabbed his robe off the back of the door and took the back stairs down to the kitchen.
     The lights came up at half power when he walked in. It suited so he left it. Aleilan pushed the door open. She preferred the broader front stairs, even if it was the long way around. Jerry took the food out of the keeper. Yea, it was smoked pork chops and green beans, pork gravy, mashed potatoes and finished with the best biscuits in the world. He sat down and dug in.
     **You good girl?**
     **I've had plenty. I've taken time to eat.**
     **Do I sense a bit of chiding there?**
     **You tell me. You're working like the whole thing was your fault.**
     **I wonder, not if it was my fault, but why am I doing this? Starfleet used to be fun. Going places and exploring. Now I fly a desk and talk all day. I read endless reports and tell people to do the obvious things. I don't need to fly a desk. I could walk away tomorrow. Why am I doing it?**
     **You feel a need, or you wouldn't be here.**
     **I'd like to take a more hands on role in the farm.**
     **Would you? You haven't since you got back to Earth.**
     **I've been busy, with Starfleet. It's over with Mya.**
     **It has been over for nearly twenty years Jerry, even if Mya doesn't want to admit it.**
     **Yea, that first leave we had on the Kongo. She didn't even spend any time with me, never mind sleeping with me. Elizabeth did that. It's been over for a long time.**
     **Why now?**
     **Unfinished business is on my mind.**
     **Are you going to divorce her?**
     **I don't see any reason to. I have what I want. If she wants to parade me around like an absent trophy, it doesn't take a genius to see who lives with me. If she wants a formal separation, she can do it. I'm standing on Ane law.**
     **What is, is?**
     **Exactly. She has the same rights to the money as anyone else does. If it amuses her to call it 'mine', let her.**
     **Clarke is an adult and must make his own calls. I'll not make him choose between his Mother and myself. I'm here. I still have the trial. Not that there will be much of one.**
     **You think Kirk will follow through?**
     **I'm sure of it.**
     **What will happen?**
     **Earth Dome asked for clemency in the strongest terms. I will be very surprised if they don't get it. World saving hero and all.**
     **Do you approve?**
     **Hell, the whole situation is politics. Politics shelved the Enterprise into a school ship, politics got her decommissioned. Politics prevented them from picking up Spock's body. Wrong-headed politics at that. People that fail to realize that Vulcan mysticism is not voodoo. It all adds up to a failure in the political offices. Those people however are not on trial.**
     **So, yes.**
     **Pretty much. It's the good thing to do I think. Cartwright and Wesley will not see it that way however.**
     **Admiral Wesley is known for his by the book stance.**
     **And Cartwright...I don't know, something about that man bothers me. He holds grudges.**
     **He is senior to you.**
     **That never made a man right.** Jerry placed his dishes into the cleaner, and got a glass of tea from the fridge. **Let's get back to our room. I want to relax a little and hit the sack. It's been a long day. Meet you upstairs.**
     Jerry headed back up the way he had come and saw Aleilan's hindquarters vanish into their room as he rounded into the hall. She climbed stairs quicker than she descended. He entered and closed the door behind him. The robe went back over its hook and he sank into his favorite chair to drink his tea and watch out the window. Aleilan was making herself a nest on the bed.
     **When you're done.**
     Jerry drained the tea and joined her in his quarter of the bed. He quickly fell asleep with his hand wrapped into her mane.


     The fog lay thick across the bay. The inside of the Captain's club was warm and cozy. A few of his colleagues ate quietly at their own tables. In its own discrete corner Howard Nelson's hat rested on Richard Barnard's hat rack. Jerry raised his tea in silent toast. Good men both.
     Joe the club Steward came around to check the condition of the Admiral's teacup. Jerry nodded in greeting.      "Morning Joe. What is the good word?"
     Joe nodded in return. "The Coast Guard salvage ship arrived last night. Word is they are going to pull the Klingon Scout off the bottom today."
     "That will be worth looking into."
     "The Enterprise trial is tomorrow."
     "That I knew about. I have to be there. Kirk did blow one of my ships up."
     "Do you have an opinion sir?"
     "If I did Joe, I couldn't tell you."
     "Understood sir."
     "Well I need to be off. Admiral Nogura wants everyone there at 0900. That is one man you don't keep waiting."


     Admiral Robert Wesley was holding forth. "Kirk has once again proved his ability to roll though the worst pile of crap and come up smelling like a rose. I don't like the idea of Geneva interfering in Starfleet business. I know he saved the Earth...again. But he broke just about every regulation in the book doing it, and likely some regulations we haven't even made yet."
     "What do you suggest Bob," asked LaSaille, "a return to keelhauling?"
     "Kirk has been a loose cannon since his days as an active Captain, and worse as an Admiral. What kind of example does this show the rest of the service?"
     "Perhaps that certain men should be left in the jobs they do best."
     Nogura broke in. "So Admiral LaSaille, what do you think of Geneva's request?"
     "We are the handmaiden of the civil government sir."
     Wesley leaned in. "So you think Kirk should get off scott free?"
     "No, I don't, but shall we weight the factors? Of all the ships that could have responded, all of them ships better equipped and manned. Kirk and his handful of renegades, in a seized rust bucket of a Klingon ship, acted, found the answer, and delivered. What did he destroy? A ship that you had planned to scrap...for political reasons. What did he gain? Only the lives of an entire planet. Why? He failed to do as he was told."
     Wesley rapped the table as he spoke. "We cannot allow the disobedience to orders to be condoned by a lack of action."
     "Fine, demote him. Put him back into line command."
     Cartwright frowned. "You call that a punishment?"
     "That is exactly what it is. Drop him to Captain with appropriate loss of seniority and position on the Captain's list. He'll never make Admiral again."
     Nogura looked thoughtful. "And if he resigns rather than take a reduction in rank?"
     "Punishment self inflicted. We don't have James T. Kirk to kick around any more."
     Nogura frowned. "I don't know. Kirk has done outrageous things before. But this is the most outrageous yet.  Never before has he disobeyed a direct order."
     LaSaille leaned his elbows on the table. He looked Nogura right in the eye. "Never in your haste to do the right thing, forget to do the good thing."
     Nogura locked eyes with LaSaille. After a brief moment he nodded briskly. "This meaning is adjourned. I will deliver my recommendations to the President this afternoon."

     The various admirals shuffled out of the staff room. Robert Wesley was still expounding his view to who ever would listen. Cartwright shot LaSaille a look and left quickly. Nogura leaned over to LaSaille as he was about to leave. "Stay, please." LaSaille lagged behind until they were the only two in the staff room.
     "You wanted something Admiral?"
     "Yes. I am retiring next month. I wanted you to know this."
     "I assume you will be making a general announcement, why tell me first?"

      "Because I need you to know. One way or the other James Kirk will not be among this number. You are the man I trust to carry the spirit of Starfleet forward."
     "Me? I'm not the most senior Admiral present."
     "I know this. I have seen that your heart wanders. You are on the edge of resigning yourself. No one can gainsay you this Jerold. You have served above and beyond expectations. However, Starfleet needs you."
     " man?"
     "Admiral Cartwright has friends in the council, and is senior. But I do not trust his heart. His baser emotions rule it."
     "Yes, he hides it poorly."
     "I need you to remain the soul of Starfleet. To be the voice of ethical action."
     "A voice crying in the wilderness I think. My sort seems out of fashion these days."
     "I can only ask this. You have remained this long. It must be for a reason."
     Jerry sat at the conference table. "Ive been asking myself that very question. I'm looking at the amount of politics that has recently guided decisions in this body, and I find my gut tightening. The desk is starting to look like a shackle. I have a starship at El Nanth. One that is mine to direct as I please. Why don't I do that? I wonder if my time would be better spent among my horses. Do you ride?"
     "No, I have not had the pleasure."
     "It's wonderful to have a good horse under you, to be in tight communication with the animal to the point the slightest clue is acted on at once. I don't do enough of it.
     "I can only ask Jerold."
     "I'll consider your request Heihachiro-Sama. We have served long together. Our paths have intertwined frequently. We have each been the teacher and student of the other." Jerry stood and bowed in the formal Japanese way. "It has been an honor to serve with you."


     Water still dribbled off the Bird or Prey as it lay impotent on the shore of Alameda. Jerry smiled at the crude name applied to the side of the vessel. "HMS Bounty" indeed. The rear cargo hatches were wide open. How the whales got out no doubt. Starfleet engineers were currently going over the exterior with tricorders. Jerry climbed the ladder placed against the stern. More people where working inside. One was scanning the large area enclosed with "glass".
     "What have you found?"

     "polymethyl methacrylate, Admiral. You don't see it much any more."
     "Plexiglas...No, it doesn't get much use."
     "Where did they get it?"
     "I would say locally. It was easily available in the 20th century."
     "They took local materials?"
     "Simply record Lieutenant. Conclusions come later."
     Jerry moved deeper into the ship. The odd tilt to the deck and Klingon design didn't help the off kilter feeling. Several people where working on the engineering area. The presumed cloaking device was getting a good scan. A senior Lieutenant approached him.
     "Admiral. There is a lot of Vulcan material here. Patched in and damage replacement from the look of it."

     LaSaille nodded. "It makes sense. Note everything." With that he turned back toward the rear hatch. He arrived to find a burly Klingon with escort looking up at him.
     "/What do you want!/" Scowled LaSaille. Might as well take the initiative here.
     The Klingon Ambassador took a step back. He wasn't use to Humans using Klingon manners, or Klingon language. "/I want my ship!/"
     LaSaille slid down the ladder and turned to face the Klingon. "/I was unaware it was your personal property Ambassador./"
     "/Your misconstruing my meaning will not alter the fact this ship is stolen!/"
     "/I never said it was not. The question is 'who did the stealing?'./" LaSaille held up his hand to forestall any argument. "/Yelling at me will not change anything. It is not mine to decide./"
     The Ambassador let his unstarted diatribe against Kirk die into a grunt. "/"I suppose the Federation Council is to decide./"
     "/That would be a reasonable assumption./"
     "They are do nothings! They will claim that it was other parties that stole the ship and not Kirk!/"
     "/I am not a politician. Arguing with me is like spitting into the wind./"
     "/I will inspect the vessel./"
     The Ambassador loaded a fresh salvo of indignation. "What do you mean 'no'?/"
     "/The vessel has been heavily modified, has fought a battle from which all damage was not repaired, and...and it has taken a complete soaking in Terran sea water. Not something for which it was designed I would wager. I would be derelict in my duty to allow you access until it was secured./"
     "/And what would water matter?/"
     On cue a loud bang came out of the open hatch followed by Human cursing, quite colorful LaSaille noted. "/Well, what ever that was for starters. Terran sea water is loaded with electrolytes. Shorts, corrosion, failures. Have patience Ambassador. Let Starfleet sort it out./"
     "/Harump. I am not fooled by your cozy concern for my welfare! But this is not a battle I choose for today./" With that he stalked off in a swirl of robes.
     LaSaille sighed. One more complication.


     Jerry LaSaille sat down at the bar next to the heavy set man. "Ginger ale" was his reply to the bartender's unspoken query.
     The fellow spun around in his seat. "Jerry! Are ye still drinkin' that pisswater?" He shoved a hand out to Jerry.
     He gladly took it and pulled him into a quick back slapping session. It had been several years since they had met. "Scotty, you tried to make a drinker out of me in the Academy. It didn't take then."
     Scotty gave him an eye. "I would have thought all the years as a Captain would cure ye of it."
     "Far too late for that old pal."
     "Well." he added, putting his elbows back on the bar and taking up his scotch. "Ye keena blame a man fer tryin'."
     Jerry copied his posture, wrapping a hand around the iced ginger ale. "Try you did, but the cast was long set before that. I'm more concerned about you than me."
     Jerry's voice dropped. "Scotty, you stuck your foot in it good this time."
     Scotty nodded. "Aye, I did, but eyes wide open."
     "Loyalty to a friend I can understand. But you stirred a real hornet's nest."
     "I knew that when I did it Jerry. Spock was worth it."
     "You will not get an argument from me."
     "Did ye know him then?"
     "Only by reputation. The few times he has been through my office. I understand friendship however, and how fleeting it can be, and how painful that can hurt."
     "Aye." Scotty's voice caught for a moment. "And what did ye do with that?"
     "What I in my position could do Scotty. I would have let you have the ship. The politicians however had their say."
     "Why did ye decommission her Jerry?"
     Anger burned in Jerry's voice. "I didn't. That too was a political football. I can't afford to throw away usable ships Scotty. Kongo is still plugging away and she never got the upgrade. It has nothing to do with my fondness for her. She is needed. Enterprise was needed. It was politics Scotty. I'm sorry, I had the repair facilities ready for when you came in. I was told no."
     "Aye. But done is done. Breaks my heart, but the breakers will not have her. What aboot us?"
     "That is in the hands of the Federation Council. We, the admirals, had our say. I do have a few questions if I might."
     "Excelsior. I want an honest opinion. Will that ship work as advertised?"
     "Nay. Tis a crock o' bull. All mist and glamor. I dina want to ta deal with it Jerry. The why is I hae read the papers. I dida think the math is soond. I've hae me hands on the hardware and now I know it. Tis nothin' but a worm hole generator. Mark me words, it will kill the first and last crew to sail on it."
     "Words marked. I'll promise you this Scotty. It will never sail in the condition it is in now. Give me a few clues for the auditors. I'll shut this thing down but good."
     "Aye, I kin do that for ye. If nae better come o' this, on that at least I ken rest easy. Are ye gonna be there tomorrow?"

     "Yes, 'To the gallows-foot -- and after' Scotty. Side by side on graduation day. I'll stand beside you come what may."


     The trial was quick and results expected. What Geneva had asked for, and what they had discussed at the staff meeting. No doubt a ship would be...Jerry stopped in his tracks. The idea was that strong. He could get rid of three problems in one move, and strike a blow against the politicians that were the true authors of the whole damn mess. He pulled out is communicator.
     "LaSaille to Nogura."
     After a moment his answer came through. "Admiral Nogura."
     "Admiral, LaSaille. I just had an idea and it's going to take some arm twisting, but I think we can solve a number of problems in one move."
     "My office, at your convenience."

     Admiral Nogura looked at LaSaille like he was a wise madman. "Change the name?"
     "Yes, The Ti-Ho has been a hanger queen since she was commissioned. Two attempts at space trials and both failed. We know that spacers are a superstitious lot. No matter how much they claim that reason guides their every move. Ti-Ho has become a jinxed ship. No Captain wants her. A name means a lot. Enterprise is a name with more power than most. We put the perpetual hanger queen into the hands of the best engineering staff in Starfleet. We give Kirk a command worthy of his skills, and we spit in the face of the politicians that wanted Enterprise forgotten."
     "I think that for you, the last is as important as the first two. Nogura looked at LaSaille and butter wouldn't melt in his mouth.
      "Yes...yes it is. I have been chafing against this whole shelve the Enterprise and you shelve Kirk and all he stands for thought process. I resent it. I'm a Capitan of that generation. I am not a dinosaur thank you very much."
     "You do not think the time for people like James Kirk is past?"
     "No, I do not. Heihachiro, you know how old I am."
     "I do indeed."
     "The time for men of direct action has been declared over again and again. It has been said by generation after generation that they don't need people like James T. Kirk anymore they are an embarrassment to civilized people. And again and again, when they have their backs to the wall it is some 'cowboy' with a good head on his shoulders and a firm grounding in right and wrong that saves their civilized asses, just like this time. I cannot help but notice that these 'civilized' people are also the ones that deal in circumstantial ethics. It is less the direct action that bothers them, as the ethical example that applies the direct action. It is their own shame at the better example that drives them.
     "I can understand this. I agree as well. Your reasons, all of them, are sound. Pro Kirk sentiments are high. We must strike while the iron is hot and this will not be difficult to push through. Cut the necessary orders, now. I will sooth the necessary political egos."
     "I'm glad my job is my job. I don't like politicians."
     Nogura waggled his eyebrows sporting an uncharacteristic cat that ate the canary grin. "I know."


     The construction chief looked at the orders in his hands. A smile slowly spread across his face.
     "Alright you deck apes, we have an assignment. USS Ti-Ho."
     Groans broke out throughout the crew.
     "We are to change, each and every bit of signage on that ship. That's right change. From the commissioning plaque to the registry on the hull. New signage is to read thus. USS Enterprise NCC-1701-A."
     A stunned silence hit the crew, followed almost at once by a babble of approval.
     "Now, MOVE OUT!
     They all but broke the door down.


     Captain Kirk and Capitan Spock came into the Admiral's office. LaSaille was behind his desk.
     "Well Capitan good to see you again."
     Kirk smiled a bit ruefully. "It's good to be back."
     "I suppose you are here looking for an assignment?"
     "Yes I am."
     "Then I have some good news. There is a ship in need of a commander. She needs some tender loving care. The kind I think you and your crew can give." LaSaille handed Kirk a PADD with the docking assignment on it."
     Kirk looked at. "No name?"
    "That matter is one of the matters Captain. I'm sure you can deal with it."
     "Yes sir." He looked at LaSaille, the lack of a name was an unusual move.
     "And Captain. Good luck with your new command."

After the Voyage -- Garry Stahl, May 2009

     This started five years ago, but it was the most recent short short in the series that tied it together into one story. What was Jerry LaSaille doing during the events of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home? Well now you know.
     Five of the short shorts got woven into this over all tale of what was happening off screen. The object being to tell the tale and not steal the thunder of Kirk & Company.
     I have the afterwords of the five tales incorporated below. Rest assured those of you with an archivist bent I have not discarded the tales as originally written.

Common Knowledge -- he one point of truth. That hardback copy of The White Dragon exists. The only difference is it's signed to me. Jerry being a blatant self insertion character, he has my taste in books. November 2004

Helplessness -- As I was writing this little piece to explain what Jerry was doing during the principle events of Star Trek 4, Clarke LaSaille popped into my head. "Well, Aleilan will be waiting in the ship," followed by "and so will his son." I love it when that happens. Thus were born Clarke LaSaille and his unseen difficult Mother. Jerry is Human, and no monk. Wives and children do happen from time to time. November 2004

My Old Kentucky Home -- A bit of character fluff. After every disaster comes the clean-up. As we were so brutally reminded with the Tsunami of 2004. How many died in the Whale Probe caused weather? We are never told. But nature is mighty, and we are small.
This is also a chance to see some of Jerry's Earth home, Bellicolone. Take paradise as seen by a horse add one antebellum mansion as per Gone With the Wind, and you have the place. Kentucky horse country is pretty indeed. My thanks go to the Lexington Hosts of Breyerfest, which has been my main look at the area. I am impressed. November 2004

Deliberations -- Yes, LaSaille is an Admiral, and senior one at that time. It only makes sense he would have a say, or at least a word in the matter of Kirk.
There are a number of references to other stories in this one. What you get with a single author is continuity. November 2004

Over Drinks -- In a yet to be finished story I have Jerry LaSaille and Montgomery Scott in the same class at the Academy. While assignments and circumstances never let them serve together they remained friends. This would happen shortly after Deliberations. The Quote? Runyard Kipling's The Thousandth Man. The final stanza.

His wrong's your wrong, and his right's your right,
In season or out of season.
Stand up and back it in all men's sight --
With that for your only reason!
Nine hundred and ninety-nine can't bide
The shame or mocking or laughter,
But the Thousandth Man will stand by your side
To the gallows-foot -- and after!

May 2009

     The reference to the USS Ti-Ho was from Mr. Scott's Guide to the Enterprise. It suits me as there was not enough time to build a new ship from scratch.
     The Fair Witness is something from Robert Heinlein's
Stranger in a Strange Land. Since I use bits of Heinlein (and other authors) in filling out the non Starfleet corners of my universe I included this element, one I am fond of. The Fair Witness has also come up in the STB-600 game. Ane Truthtellers perform a similar function of observing and reporting exactly what is seen and heard. However, the function is mainly for outsiders, non Ane living on Ane worlds. I indicate that Vulcan Advocates do much the same and all three are interchangeable in law. Most Fair Witnesses are Humans by the way.


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The above is a work of fiction. All characters are fictional, any resemblance to persons living or dead is coincidental.

© Garry Stahl: May 2009. All rights reserved, re-print only with permission.

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