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Author: Alan Decker
Copyright: 1995

Star Traks

Commanding Presence

by Alan Decker

“Gentlemen, I assume that you see the gravity of our problem,” Captain Alexander Rydell began as he paced his ready room. Commander Travis Dillon and Lieutenant Commander Jaroch watched him intently.

“Of course, sir,” Dillon said.

“Then what is it?” Rydell said.

“Gravity? 9.8 meters per second squared on Earth.”

“No, Dillon!” Rydell shouted, pounding his fists on his desk so hard that his bust of Prince jumped three inches. “Our problem! Do you understand our problem?”

“Uh…well we…are three weeks behind on our paperwork to Starfleet Command,” Dillon said. Jaroch shook his head in disdain and covered his face.

“Actually, that’s part of it,” Rydell said. Jaroch looked at the captain in disbelief.

“You are joking, sir,” Jaroch said.

“I’m afraid not. The command crew of this vessel, namely you, Dillon and myself, have been unable to complete our reports for Starfleet Command because one of us has to be on the bridge at all times. Commander Beck’s departure has left us short-handed in command trained personnel. We are all being forced to spend more time on the bridge to make up for her absence. We need to get someone else certified.”

“Who?” Dillon asked. “Commander Baird has been banned from command by Starfleet. Lieutenant Hawkins has enough to deal with as it is with ship’s security. Counselor Webber has already proved that she’s unfit to command. Who’s left?”

“That’s what we have to find out,” Rydell said.

“According to Starfleet regulations, outside of bridge personnel, a crewmember must hold the rank of lieutenant commander or higher to be able to assume temporary command,” Dillon said.

“That would only leave Doctor Aldridge, Lieutenant Commander Kexler, and Lieutenant Commander Williams,” Jaroch said.

“Well then, we will set up times for each of them to assume command, and we’ll run a set of simulated encounters. The three of us can monitor the simulation from in here,” Rydell said.

“You’re going to actually give them command of the Secondprize,” Dillon said. “Why not just use the command test program on the holodeck?”

“It’ll be better to let them try their hands at the real thing,” Rydell replied. “Trust me.”

“We’re detecting a ship on the long range sensors,” Lieutenant Patricia Hawkins reported from the tactical console.

“On screen,” Dr. Elizabeth Aldridge ordered from the command chair.

“They aren’t within visual range yet,” Hawkins said.

“Oh. Never mind. Well…uh…who are they?”

“Impossible to say at this time. Their transponder signal is garbled.”

“Try to hail them, Lieutenant,” Aldridge ordered.

“They aren’t responding on any channel.”

“Shields up. Power up main phaser banks.”

“Aye. Wait…I have an identification. It’s a Jynarian transport. It appears to have been attacked and has sustained some minor damage.”

Aldridge jumped up out of the command chair and headed toward the turbolift.

“Where are you going?” Hawkins asked.

“I’ve got to get over there. There could be people injured. Or at least corpses to autopsy.”

“But what about the Secondprize?”

“Oh, well you take over. I’m going to the transporter room.” The turbolift doors opened, and Aldridge rushed off the bridge. A second later, Rydell, Dillon, and Jaroch entered from the ready room.

“The word flighty comes to mind,” Dillon commented.

“Something like that,” Rydell said. “I guess we should stop her before she tries to beam to a ship that doesn’t exist.”

“It would be more interesting to let her go,” Jaroch said.

“You know, you have this really evil streak in you,” Rydell said.

“I do not know what you are talking about,” Jaroch replied.

“We’re detecting a ship on the long range sensors,” Lieutenant Hawkins reported. Lieutenant Commander Peter Kexler leapt out of the command chair, ready for action. He’d spent most of his career sequestered in the cultural anthropology department. This was his first big chance for excitement.

“Shields up. Get phasers and photon torpedoes ready,” he ordered.

“But we don’t even know…”

“Do it, Lieutenant.”

“Aye, sir.” Hawkins set down to work.

“How long until they are in weapons range?”

“About thirty seconds,” Hawkins said. “But…”

“You’re starting to border on insubordination,” Kexler snapped. He walked forward to Lieutenant Emily Sullivan at the conn console. “O.K. I want you to start to pull us back. After about two thousand meters, go at them at full impulse.” He turned back to Hawkins. “When we charge them, open fire with all weapons.”

The starship reversed, then shot forward throwing everyone momentarily off balance. The Secondprize sent a devastating volley of weapons at the approaching ship, which immediately exploded into a giant fireball. Kexler cheered and started running laps around the bridge chanting “Captain Kexler! Captain Kexler! Captain Kexler!”

“Woah woah woah!” Rydell said as he charged onto the bridge with Dillon and Jaroch right behind him. “What was that?!”

“That was the Kexler maneuver,” Kexler said proudly. “What did you think?”

Rydell balled his fists, gritted his teeth, and emitted a few unintelligible grunts.

“I believe what the captain is trying to say is do not call us, we will call you,” Jaroch said.

“Does that mean I’ll get my own command shift soon?” Kexler asked.

“Bye bye,” Dillon said.

“But, what about…”

“Go away.”


“Lieutenant Hawkins, would you do the honors?” Dillon asked, gesturing at Kexler.

“Gladly,” Hawkins said. She walked over, grabbed Kexler by the collar, and dragged him to a turbolift.

“I take it that we can scratch him off the list,” Jaroch said.

Rydell glared at Jaroch and grunted again.

“I will consider that a yes,” Jaroch said.

Rydell nodded vigorously.

“We’re detecting a ship on the long range sensors,” Lieutenant Hawkins reported.

“Oooh,” Lieutenant Commander Cheryl Williams exclaimed from the command chair. “That sounds exciting, doesn’t it?”

“Only if you’re on Prozac,” Sullivan remarked from the conn. Ensign Kristen Larkin looked at her confused.

“Don’t worry about it,” Sullivan said to the Operations officer. “Old reference.”

“Now now, Emily. If you have something to share, you should share it with all of us,” Williams scolded. Her elementary school teacher tone was starting to get to all of the bridge crew. They should have expected it though, since she WAS an elementary school teacher.

“I’d rather not,” Sullivan said.

“What about the ship?” Hawkins said.

“What ship?” Williams asked.

“The one that just popped up on the sensors.”

“Oh. Well, I think we should communicate with them. Can you say communicate?”

“Can you say deranged?” Sullivan said.

“They’re firing!” Hawkins shouted. The ship was suddenly rocked with the impact of phasers. The power flickered, and one of the science consoles at the rear of the bridge exploded in a shower of sparks.

“Is this in the simulation?” Dillon asked as he picked himself up off the floor of the ready room. “It’s surprisingly realistic.”

“I appreciate the compliment, but my programming skills aren’t that good,” Rydell said.

“Mine are, but you’re an idiot,” Jaroch said to Dillon.

“We’ve got to get out there,” Rydell said. He rushed to the ready room doors and smashed right into them when they didn’t open.

“They appear to have been damaged,” Jaroch said.

“Great. Rydell to bridge.” Silence. “Rydell to bridge!”

“Ship-wide communications appear to be out, too,” Jaroch said.

“So what do we do?” Dillon asked.

“Find another way out of here,” Rydell said. “And hope the ship doesn’t blow up in the mean time.”

“That was not very nice,” Lieutenant Commander Williams said, looking around the smoky bridge. “I want to talk to them right now!”

Hawkins’ fingers flew across her console. “On screen,” she said. The starfield was replaced with the image of a Pakled.

“We want your ship to make us strong,” the Pakled said.

“Now listen here, young man. It’s not very polite to go shooting at total strangers like that.”

“We sorry. We just want to be strong.”

“I wasn’t finished yet!” Williams said. “You need to learn some manners… and some grammar. Haven’t you heard of verbs? It’s ‘we are sorry’, not ‘we sorry’.”

“Oh. Well, we…”

“Did I say that I was done? No. Now then, I want all of you to stop what you’re doing and write ‘we are sorry’ one hundred times.” The communication suddenly ended, and the Pakled ship quickly turned around and headed back the way it came.

“Well!” Williams said in a huff. “That was rude. I hope that none of you ever behave like that.”

The bridge crew was too stunned to even reply.

“Captain’s Log. Stardate 50594.6. After careful consideration of the command candidates, I have decided that the best course of action would be to go to my quarters and cry. Unfortunately, I can’t do that. In the absence of other choices, I have decided that Doctor Aldridge is the only one with the skills necessary to really handle a starship. We’ll just have to teach her not to run off anytime somebody stubs their toe. However, since I’m that kind of guy, I’m giving Lieutenant Commander Kexler another shot at command.”

“We’re picking up a ship on the long range sensors,” Lieutenant Hawkins reported from the tactical console.

“Shields up. Arm all weapons,” Kexler ordered, jumping out of the command chair ready for battle.

“It’s a Borg cube,” Hawkins said. Kexler’s face contorted in fear as his eyes widened by at least an inch. He collapsed to the deck in a dead faint.

A second later, Captain Rydell walked out onto the bridge laughing.

“That wasn’t very nice, sir,” Hawkins said, suppressing a chuckle.

“No, but it was damn funny,” Rydell said. He pushed Kexler’s inert body aside with his boot and sat down in the command chair.

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