DISCLAIMER: The Star Trek characters are the property of Paramount Studios, Inc. and Viacom. The story contents are the creation and property of Djinn and is copyright (c) 2000 by Djinn. This story is Rated PG-13.
"There must be a mistake." Christine Chapel looked around the classroom, set up with two-person tables, some already filled with partners quietly talking.
"No mistake, Doctor. You are partnered with Captain Spock. Is that a problem for you?" The facilitator looked at her with little compassion.
"Have I pissed you off in some way I'm not aware of or do you just hate doctors?" Christine saw she was getting nowhere with Virginia Leyden, Ph.D. "I thought these team building exercises worked best with complete strangers? I served with Captain Spock for five years."
Leyden just looked at her.
"Please?" Christine tried to fall on her sympathy. "Please, no one has to know."
Leyden scowled. "On the contrary, Dr. Chapel, I would know and so would Captain Spock. I've already notified him of his partner's identity."
"And he didn't object?"
"Oh he did, nearly as strenuously as you." Leyden gave her a sarcastic smile. "I'd say you two were prime candidates for this class."
Christine cursed her supervisor at Starfleet medical that had insisted she sign up for the mandatory team building class. She hoped it was pure coincidence that she was paired with Spock. It had been years since she had last seen him and she had forged a life without him. She thought back and remembered that the Whale Probe had been the last time that they had crossed paths. It had been a brief meeting. He had been courteous but distant. She had been professional but detached.
Leyden indicated a table in the back. Christine saw that Spock was already sitting at the table, studiously ignoring her as he read the class material.
Great, just friggin' great. She made her way to her seat, studying the nametag that said, "Hi, I'm __________." She was supposed to fill in her name but as she walked back to join Spock she thought of all the things she'd like to put there. Hi, I'm: pissed as hell; so not wanting to be here; a Scorpio; none of your business... She sat down next to the Vulcan. They didn't even look at each other as they exchanged greetings.
"I don't like this any better than you. Probably less frankly. But it looks like we're stuck with each other. I tried everything with Leyden. She didn't budge."
"No, she is unmoved by logic."
"She's a bitch."
He wisely did not comment. She looked at the nametag Spock was wearing. It was neatly handwritten with his rank and name. She scrawled her own on the tag and pinned it on.
"Your tag is illegible."
"So?" She gave him an irritated look. "You know who I am."
"It is not neat," he remarked evenly.
"Well get used to it," she sighed. "I'm not neat."
"Apparently," he agreed as he returned to the reading.
This is going to be a very long week, Christine thought, as she picked up the agenda to see what she was in for.
When everyone was checked in Leyden took her place at the podium. "Ladies and gentleman. Welcome to the Starfleet Teambuilding Course. I'm your facilitator, Virginia Leyden. I hold a Ph.D. in psychology with my specialty being in interpersonal relationships and organizational behavior." She proceeded to go on about her credentials for a few minutes. Then she went over the class agenda, rules, and logistical information. "You'll notice that we use a lot of synthetic paper in these classes. It may seem old fashioned but sometimes it is the best way to conduct an exercise and share information. But we'll also use some more modern technology." She gathered some pads and passed them to the front table. "Pass these down the rows please. Everybody take one. We're going to start with a short personality assessment. I'll explain more later when we go over the scores. For now just follow the instructions and answer the questions. The screen will go black when you finish. Just put it aside when you are done."
Christine picked up her pad. She read the instructions quickly. Seemed simple enough. She began to mark her preferences.
--If the comm unit chimes do you...
o rush to answer it
o hope someone else will get it
--Which is the greater crime
o being too compassionate
o being too dispassionate
--In your professional life you
o like your workspace neat and orderly
o can easily tolerate clutter
This could be fun. She set to the test and quickly finished. As Leyden had said the screen went black. She put it at the top of the table and looked around the room. About a third of the people were done, the rest still working. She snuck a look at Spock. He appeared to be almost done. Wonder if they have a tight-ass category, she mused.
"Ok, I think we're all done," Leyden's voice interrupted the list she was building of the Chapel Personality Type Indicator: tight-ass; party animal; no-good bastard; shrinking violet, Don Wannabe.
"We're going to start with an icebreaker." There were a few groans. Christine hid a smirk. God she hated these classes.
Leyden frowned. "It'll be fun. You'll see."
Yeah right. And so would a frontal lobotomy without anaesthetic.
"Ok, up here I have some tags with the names of famous people on them. I'm going to place the nametag on your back and this will become your identity for the duration of the exercise. You must use the time allotted to discover this identity. To do this you get to ask three and only three questions of another participant. The participant can respond with a yes or no only. An example would be 'am I a man?'. You must keep moving around the room until you solve the mystery. Any questions?" When there were none she smiled. "Ok then, come on up and let's get started."
This is so lame, Christine thought as she tromped up to get her new identity. Leyden put the tag on her back and then did Spock's. Christine sneaked a peek. ELVIS PRESLEY. Oh perfect.
She started to walk away and Spock hurried to catch her. "Dr. Chapel. I should like to ask you my first questions."
"Fine by me."
"Am I dead?"
"Some people would debate that."
"You are supposed to answer yes or no."
She gave him an annoyed look. "Yes."
"Am I terran?"
"Am I a scientist?"
I dunno, does amateur pharmacologist count? Gods, was he taking this seriously? "No."
"Hmmm. Fine. It is your turn." He moved around to look at her back.
A dead female. She pulled out the first name that came to her mind. "Am I Marie Antoinette?"
There was silence.
"Well am I?"
"How did you ascertain that from the information provided?"
"I had a hunch."
He looked at her in envious dismay. "That is not logical."
"Maybe not, but I'm not the one that has to go talk to a bunch of strangers to logically figure out which dead human non-scientist I am."
He nodded in distaste. "True."
Chapel hopped up on the table. Leyden looked over at her. "Dr. Chapel, is there a reason you are not participating?"
"I already got mine. But I'll be happy to answer anyone's questions."
"You already got yours?"
Spock's voice chimed in. "She did. It was most unexpected."
Leyden gave her an irritated look. Christine just grinned and kicked her legs back and forth as she waited. Pretty soon a middle-aged man came up. His nametag said in excruciatingly neat handwriting "Hi, I'm Lt. Thomas Hawley."
"You need some questions answered?" she smiled at him.
"Yes I do, Dr. ummm," he tried to make out her name.
"Chapel. So what are your questions?" She peeked at his identify. ZEPHRAM COCHRANE.
"Am I famous?"
No dipshit, you're Henry Calvert, unassuming Nebraska farm boy who never did a single notable thing in his life. "Yes."
He thought hard, grinning at her the whole time. "Ummm, am I famous for something I did?"
No, for something someone else did. Gods, how dense was this guy? "Yes."
He smiled even bigger. "Am I dead?"
She stopped at that one. Was Cochrane dead? She knew he probably wasn't. The Enterprise had left him on Gamma Canaris N with the merged Nancy Hedford/the Companion. But that was more or less eyes only info. Ok, for the purposes of this exercise he was dead. "Yes."
Hawley was already moving off to the next person as he said, "Thanks, Doc."
"Don't mention it." She looked around and located Spock, dutifully answering a young ensign's question. Then it was his turn. After ten minutes, during which time she answered questions for about seven more people, he returned to their table.
"You are scattering papers."
"So? They're my papers."
"I am Elvis Presley."
"Well done, Sherlock." She jumped off the table and began to straighten the wayward sheets of paper.
"Your method was totally illogical."
"A lucky guess."
She looked up at him. "You're irritated? That I got it right through no means that made sense." She grinned at him sardonically. "Get used to it."
"I sincerely hope not to." He almost shuddered.
Leyden called them to order. "See that wasn't so bad." Several people laughed. "Ok then. Why are we here."
Spock raised his hand quickly.
"I'm pretty sure that was a rhetorical question," Christine hissed.
His hand went down just as fast.
Leyden ignored them. "We're here to do some serious team building. And why? Because Starfleet values teamwork that's why! This class, and the exercises we do in it, will allow us to foster a strong team spirit, develop team cohesion through friendly competition, experience the exhilaration of winning, and create excitement and enthusiasm."
She doesn't know Spock and me, Christine mused.
Leyden continued. "Some of our exercises will provide methods for building self-confidence, encouraging risk-taking, increasing problem solving and decision making abilities, improving communication, establishing trust and cooperation, and resolving conflict."
Christine glanced at Spock. He looked unconvinced. The team from hell, she thought.
"Let's get started on the first exercise. I want you to turn your chairs so your backs are to each other." There was shuffling as the class did as she instructed. "I'm going to hand one of you some objects. To the other I will give the instructions for putting the objects together. The person with the objects may not look at the instructions but you can use the table if you wish. The person with the instructions may not turn to help. This is a race, folks. Whoever gets this done fastest in a way that actually resembles the instructions," laughter erupted, "wins." She walked around the room handing out the objects and the instructions.
Christine ended up with the objects. She peeked in the carrier. There were some screws, two different sizes of plastic blocks, a small pipe like object, and what looked like a flag. She heard Spock opening the instructions.
"Dr. Chapel. We will begin with removing the 11 cm plastic blocks and lining them up in a row."
She looked in the sack. "Which blocks are the 11 cm ones?"
"The question makes no sense."
"I mean are they the bigger or the smaller blocks?"
"They are the 11 cm blocks. Just pull them out and line them up."
"Fine I will, but are they the bigger ones or the smaller?"
"The other blocks are 13 cms."
"So they are the smaller one. Why didn't you just say so." She lined the blocks up. "Ok, now what?"
"Line the 13 cm blocks up perpendicular to the junction of the 11 cm blocks."
She studied the blocks on the table. "You mean stand the bigger ones on their end at the point where the smaller ones meet each other?"
He sighed. Loudly. "That is what I said."
"If it was I wouldn't have had to say it again," she argued as she put the blocks in place. "Now what?"
There was silence as Spock studied the drawing.
"Spock? Tick, tick, tick."
His voice was tight. "The 13 cm block has a hollow part with a hole in it. Do you see it."
You need to go through that to use the screws to hold the 13 cm in place against the junction of the other blocks."
"That makes no sense. If I put it at the junction then it will just come apart. There are some holes a cm or two down from the edge of the smaller blocks. The screw must go there."
"That is not what the drawing says."
"Then the drawing isn't right, Spock."
"These are supposed to be the instructions. What good are they if they are inaccurate."
Leyden's voice was perky as ever. "Ok time's up. Let's see how we did. Everyone turn back to the table and don't touch the material. This is the honor system."
Christine checked out the competition. "We did terrible, Spock."
He too was looking around the room. "Yes. If you had not been so difficult."
"Me?" She laughed under her breath. "Oh that's rich."
"Well, you two certainly didn't get very far." Leyden smiled gamely at them both. "What did we learn from this exercise?"
"Not to work with our backs to each other." Christine gave her a smart-ass grin. The class snickered.
"Yes there is that," Leyden agreed. "But what if you were on one ship or a planet perhaps and Captain Spock was on another ship trying to relay instructions. What did you learn about that?"
Spock spoke up. "Precise speech may not be the best method."
"Because not everyone responds to logic."
Christine glared at her partner, but Leyden beamed at him. "Exactly! And a perfect lead in for the next segment. After a 15 minute break we're going to learn all about personality types and how they can severely impact our interactions."
Kiss-ass, Christine thought as she watched Spock rise to stretch his legs.
"Ok everyone, let's get started." Leyden beamed as the class found their seats.
Christine wondered if there was a special perky gene that facilitators had implanted. Nobody could be that upbeat naturally.
"Now we're going to dive into a very, very old system of personality typing. It is called the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and we are going to use the popular Keirsey interpretation. Some of you may have read one of his many works all titled "Please Understand Me."
Gosh, no missed those. Christine glanced at Spock. He seemed to be paying close attention. But then he always did. She wondered what he was really thinking.
"If everyone would take their pad and hit enter, the results of your questionnaire will be posted."
Christine looked at her results. ENFP. Meant nothing to her. She peeked at Spock's display. He looked at her in irritation. INTJ. Whatever. Couldn't we have done as well casting a horoscope?
"There are many ways we can start but let's look first at the E versus I factor. Does anyone here know what the letters mean."
The young woman sitting with Lt. Hawley eagerly raised her hand. Leyden nodded at her. "Ensign Donner, ma'am. It means Extraversion versus Introversion."
"That's right. But it's not just the idea of a friendly person versus a reserved one. It is the question of how do you recharge your batteries, where do you get your energy? With people or alone. How many people are E's in this class." About half the class, Christine included, raised their hands. "Good. How do you feel when you're alone? Just yell out some words."
Christine found herself speaking out. "Empty."
Leyden nodded. "Yes. And those of you who are I's, how do you feel when you are with people."
Spock's voice sounded next to her, "Off balance."
The facilitator affirmed their answers with smiles. "Does everyone see the difference? Then lets move to the S versus N. These stand for sensation versus intuition. The crux of this is do we pay attention to outside factors or to internal. Many people are surprised to learn that some of the finest scientists fall into the N category. But that is because they are discovering the world of ideas and refuse to be bounded by the concrete concerns of the outside world. The bureaucrat or analyst on the other hand pays intense attention to the outside world. And frankly, where would we be without those who have their feet firmly on the ground. They have historically made up most of the population. Who here is an S?" The majority of the class raised their hands. Spock and Christine looked at their few compatriots who were N's.
"Let's move on for now to the next part, the T versus F. Who can guess what this might mean?"
Lt. Hawley raised his hand. "Thinking or Feeling?"
"Very good. Now obviously all of us have feelings and thoughts."
Christine glanced at Spock. "Well some of us have feelings," she whispered.
"And some of us have thoughts," he whispered back.
Leyden glared at them. "The real question is which do we pay more attention to, what do we allow to govern our actions--our heads or our hearts."
Maybe there really is something to this, Christine wondered.
Leyden looked around the class. "It is a mistake to think that thinkers have no emotions because they do, it is simply a matter of the degree to which these feelings will be displayed. And thinkers should not judge feelers as lacking intellect just because logic does not drive them the same way they do thinkers."
She could be talking just to us. Christine suddenly felt uncomfortable. Spock shifted slightly in his chair, clearly also taking in the message.
"Ok, let's move on to the final part. The J versus P. This is usually the factor that is most difficult to comprehend. It technically stands for judgment and perception but what is really meant is schedulers versus probers. Schedulers care about keeping to the deadline, the timetable, the list, the outline, and the calendar. Probers prefer to keep their options open, they look for chances to do other things. For example, how many of you have ever made a to-do list?" Most of the hands in the class went up. "Ok, and how many of routinely write things you have already completed on the list just so you can mark them done." Half the hands stayed up. Leyden laughed. "I'm willing to bet you are all J's? Anyone who isn't put their hand down." No hands moved. "Any J's that don't have their hands up?" Again nobody changed position. "I rest my case."
"Does everyone understand the basic definitions? Good. If you scroll down on your pad there is additional info. I want you to take the next 20 minutes to read through your own profile and the basic descriptions of the factors. Then you will discuss with your partner how you differ based on your personality type. Everyone with me?" Nodding heads reassured her. "Ok, get started then."
Despite her own bad attitude, Christine found herself interested in discovering more about her profile. Everything Leyden had said had been right on so far. So what was an ENFP? The Keirsey material said, *For ENFP's nothing occurs that does not have some deep ethical significance, and this, coupled with their uncanny sense of the motivations of others, gives them a talent for seeing life as an exciting drama, pregnant with possibilities for good and evil. This type has great influence because of their extraordinary impact on others.*
Hmmm. Seemed to fit. The older she got the more she noticed how she was trying to find meaning in life while also seeking to live it to the fullest. What else did the material say? *ENFP's consider intense emotional experiences as being vital to a full life, although they can never quite shake the feeling that a part of themselves is split off, uninvolved in the experience." Well that was certainly true. She often thought that she had chosen to fall in love with the man sitting next to her because it allowed her to feel great emotion without ever being forced to live it.
*ENFP's strive toward a kind of spontaneous personal authenticity, and this intention always to 'be themselves' is usually communicated nonverbally to others, who find it quite attractive.* That was true. Christine has spent much of her younger years 'fitting in' but now she just wanted to be herself. To say or do only those things that were really true. And it was only now that she really felt like she was connecting with others.
She turned to see if Spock was close to being done. He looked up at her.
"Do you wish to begin? Or shall we read each others to make this easier?"
"That sounds like a good idea." She looked at Spock's profile. INTJ. First off he was rational where she was an idealist. He was skilled in contingency planning and directing others in this. He was a great organizer. She read on. *Extremely self-confident with a very strong will. Judicious, decisions come naturally to INTJ's, and they can hardly rest until they have things settled, decided, and set. Though natural leaders they prefer to stay in the background until others demonstrate their inability to lead. Supreme pragmatists. Always searching for efficient action, the INTJ's are the most open minded of all types, no idea is too far-fetched to be entertained if it is useful. They could be quite ruthless in implementing effective ideas, seldom counting personal cost in terms of time and energy.*
I've seen that, she remembered times on the Enterprise when he worked himself into the ground in the name of efficiency. "This is really interesting."
"Indeed it does appear to fit us both. It also may explain why we do not work very well together."
"Nearly. We do share the N factor."
"Thank god or we'd never graduate from this class." She grinned at him. He raised his eyebrow in response. For the next half-hour they discussed their types and some of the differences. Then Leyden called a halt to their activities and they broke for lunch. Spock chose to take a walk in lieu of eating but Christine sat with her classmates getting an idea of their backgrounds and why they were at this particular session of the training. What she found out didn't please her.
As she filed in with the other students, Christine wasn't surprised to see Spock already back in the classroom, looking over some of the Myers-Briggs information. She sat down and said, "You're not going to like this, Spock."
He kept on reading his material.
"This isn't mandatory training. It's targeted training."
Skeptical brown eyes met hers. "Targeted?"
"For us. Somebody thinks that we need this training."
His eyes narrowed. "Who? And why?"
"Don't know yet. But I called a source, who is by the way very well placed, and she is trying to find that out."
He picked up his reading material again. "I will be interested in that information."
"Oh but there's more."
"And that is?"
"I've done a little informal polling of our classmates. With the exception of Donner and Hawley, who seem to adore this kind of training for its own sake, all the pairs are either working together now or slated to work together in the future. We're the only team that doesn't fit the mold. Don't you find that odd?"
He nodded slowly. "I do."
"So do I. Damned odd. We *are* going to get to the bottom of this."
Leyden wasted no time in starting the class up again. In back of her was a table filled with a variety of scrap items. "Welcome back, folks. I hope you enjoyed your lunch. We're going to start with the preparation for tomorrow's first exercise." She gestured to the table. "Behind me is some junk. Or perhaps not. Perhaps it is exactly what you need to make a flying machine capable of carrying one of these," she held up some antique coins, "the greatest distance." She walked around to the various tables distributing the coins. "Take a moment to get a feel for the weight of this coin, the size. You will be given the opportunity to take seven items from the table to construct your delivery vehicle. The drawing order will be critical if you want to get the good stuff."
She walked back to the front of the room. "So if the drawing order is critical, how do we decide who goes first? Simple, we will see just how much each team has gotten to know each other in the last few hours. Each person will stand up and give a maximum five minute introduction of their teammate. Every team member and myself will enter a score between one and five, five being the best, into the pad. You cannot vote for your own team. My pad will tally the figures and give us a score. We have ways to handle a tie if one occurs. Does everyone understand? You must introduce your partner as if he or she were a guest of honor and you were the host."
Piece of cake, Christine thought. I mean we served together for five years.
Leyden turned to Donner and Hawley. "Why don't you two go first."
Hawley bounced out of his chair. "This is Ensign Lisa Donner. She is in her second year serving on the science vessel Gallidoit. She is an engineer with specializations in warp drives. Her hobbies are exobiology and woodworking. She is from Germany originally, went to school at Munich Technical Academy, and has five brothers and one sister. Three of the brothers are at Starfleet..." Hawley continued in this fashion for the whole five minutes, barely taking a breath.
When it was Donner's turn she provided a similar gush of information. They must be really interested in each other, Christine rationalized.
But the next team, and the team after that did equally well. Then it was Christine and Spock's turn. She got up first.
"This is Captain Spock. He is currently serving as Ambassador to...several worlds. He was born on Vulcan his father is Sarek the Vulcan ambassador to Earth and his Mother is Amanda, um, Grayson. Spock spent much of his career on the USS Enterprise. He served under Captains Pike and Kirk. He was an instructor at Starfleet. He has no siblings, uhm, no that's not right, he has a brother, or a half brother, Shybock," she saw Spock shake his head, "no Sybok. Spock has mentored several students and is a science officer his specialty being, um, well science." Gods she was tanking at this. "He enjoys playing three dimensional chess and playing his harp." Three minutes left. Crap. "Spock has many awards for distinguished service on...planets, all over the galaxy. He's been back in time at least twice. Umm, his blood is green." Defeated she sat down.
Spock rose slowly. "Doctor Chapel is a medical doctor. She served on the USS Enterprise as a nurse and a doctor under Captain Kirk. She has a Ph.D. in biochemistry. She was head of Starfleet emergency operations." There was a long pause. "She is from Earth. She is an excellent cook." He looked at her apologetically as he sank back down to the chair."
We are so screwed, Christine thought.
Spock was in her room. They were trying to finish the last coats of adhesive on their flying machine. It had been no great surprise that they had come in last and had been left with the dregs of the scraps. If their machine flew at all, let alone carried the little coin any distance, it would be a miracle. They worked in silence; neither of them seemed to want to discuss their dismal performance. The comm unit rang just as they were applying the last coat of adhesive. "Get that Spock? If I let go now the whole thing will collapse."
She saw Uhura's face light up the screen. "Well Captain Spock, I didn't expect to see you."
He nodded pleasantly, "Commander Uhura. It is good to see you again." He looked at Christine. "Did you want privacy?"
Christine shook her head. "Nope. This is that source I was telling you about, Spock. And hopefully she is going to tell us why we are paired here."
Uhura smiled. "Oh I found out all right. And it'll mean my hide if either of you breathe a word of it to anyone."
"Was it McCoy?" Christine asked.
"Nobody from the Enterprise. It was Admiral Nogura."
In one voice, both Christine and Spock repeated, "Nogura?"
Spock continued, "What possible interest could the admiral have in us?"
"He means in me," Christine explained.
"I mean in us. In our relationship." At Uhura's raised eyebrow he frowned, "Our *professional* relationship."
"Yeah, why would he care, Ny?"
"He wants to make sure you two will work together well on an upcoming project."
Christine erupted in anger. "And why does he think we wouldn't? Does he think I am going to do something unprofessional like throw myself at poor innocent Spock? Gods that was how many years ago?"
Uhura was laughing. "Settle down, Chris. I snuck a look at your file. Nowhere does it say anything about that. It may be huge to you, but as far as Starfleet is concerned, it never happened." She gave them a very smug look. "This is much bigger than that."
Spock frowned at her again. "I do not see the logic of your keeping us waiting."
"For once I agree with him, Ny. Spill."
"The admiral wants to make sure you two can be an effective team because he plans to have you working together in the very near future."
Spock even seemed irritated at this point. "You said that already."
"On a ship."
Christine's felt her own eyebrow lifting. "What ship?"
"The USS Carter."
Spock interjected, "There is no such ship."
"Well no, not now. But there will be. In five months a brand new vessel will be commissioned. The USS Carter, named for the 20th century president who in later life became renowned for his peacekeeping, diplomatic, and medical outreach work. This is a totally new kind of ship. A floating hospital, emergency ops platform, and diplomatic mission all rolled into one rather large and fast package. I've seen the holo's. She's a beauty."
Christine looked at Spock; his expression was as bemused as she felt. "I haven't put in for duty on a ship."
"No. And this isn't just duty. For either of you. Christine, may I present to you, Ambassador Spock, first Captain of the USS Carter."
"You're kidding." She looked at Spock. He was clearly stunned.
"And Dr. Chapel's role?"
"Meet your new CMO *and* first officer, Doctor and soon to be Commander...happy promotion, Chris...Christine Chapel."
"No way." Christine replied.
Uhura just nodded.
Christine looked over at Spock, who seemed to be taking this much better than she was. "Why the team training then?"
Spock spoke up, "Because, as our Personality Indictors showed, we are nearly polar opposites. We complement each other's shortcomings, but we have never demonstrated that we can work together effectively as a pair."
Uhura smiled. "Bingo."
Christine sat down heavily on the chair, still holding tightly to the little flying apparatus. "And our performance to date in that regards has been less than stellar."
"Well you two better change that fast if you want to get on the bridge of that exquisite new ship." Uhura looked around suddenly. "I'm being paged. I'll talk to you later." The screen went dead.
They both sat quietly for a moment. Then she looked up at him. "I can see being your CMO, Spock. But your first officer? Would you even want that?"
He looked up at her. His look was serious. "It is not something I have ever considered." Then his eyes began to sparkle. "But we know one thing from this class."
"And that is?"
"You are not afraid to tell me when you think I am wrong."
She chuckled. "No, I pretty much speak my mind to you."
"And you are an excellent mixer and very attuned to people's feelings. You are intuitive where I am cautious. You look for the good while I expect the worst. In nearly every important way we do complement each other."
"I never thought of it that way, Spock."
Again they sat quietly.
"Spock, if this class were graded we'd be in the bottom five percentile. How are we going to pull ourselves out of this?"
"I was just wondering that very thing. Do you think a colorful metaphor would be appropriate here?"
"*Shit* probably covers the situation."
"Admirably." He took a moment to savor the word. "Shit."
The next day's class would start with the flight tests so Christine and Spock stayed up all night reengineering their flyer. To Christine's surprise it had been a very pleasant evening. Now, amazingly, in their early morning test flights the plane was sailing quite a long distance. Of course they had nothing to judge it against, for all they knew the other planes were halfway to the moon compared to theirs.
They were sitting on the ground outside their temporary quarters. Christine was plucking pieces of grass and stripping them apart.
"Where are you from?" Spock asked quietly.
"I was chastened yesterday to realize how little I truly know of you. You actually did far better than I did in the introduction exercise."
"We both sucked, Spock. But to answer your question, I'm from Seattle."
"Ah. I have never been there. Did you live there all your life?"
"Most of it. My parents moved to D.C. for a while when I was in elementary school. I guess we stayed there about two years."
"What did you parents do?"
"My father was an engineer. He worked on all sorts of Starfleet contracts. To tell you the truth I was never completely sure what he did. I think much of his work was sensitive." She leaned back on the grass, looked up at the sky. "My mother was an artist. She worked in metals. Large things. My first memory of her is in the garage, on a ladder, with an acetylene torch." She suddenly stretched, long limbs reaching for all angles. "But it was a happy childhood. They loved me very much. They wanted children for a long time before they were able to have me. And it was just the three of us for so long."
"They are no longer alive?"
She closed her eyes. "My dad passed away when I was on our mission. My mom died last year."
"I am sorry."
She sat up. "Don't be. They were both old. They lived full lives. Nothing to be sorry about. I hope I am as lucky as they were."
They were silent for a while. Then Christine turned to him. "Do you think we would ever have been friends on the enterprise. I mean if it weren't for that stupid Psi 2000 virus?"
He sighed. "I do not think so. Back then we had little in common. I doubt that we would have had any interaction at all, other than some brief encounters in Sickbay."
"Yeah, that's what I think too. Sad." She rose.
He got up as well. "Christine." When she turned he continued, "I do not see a reason we cannot be friends now."
She smiled at him. "Me either, Captain. Now how about some breakfast? I'm buying?"
"Meals are included in the class fee."
"It's a figure of speech, Spock."
"Very well. You may *buy* me breakfast." They started walking to the mess hall. "Are you going to insist on eating animal flesh?"
"Darn tootin'," she gave him a wicked grin. "Eggs over easy with bacon, or maybe sausage." She licked her lips in an exaggerated manner.
"And plomeek soup isn't?" She laughed. "I am what I am, Spock. And what I am is a carnivore. You want to be a herbivore, I promise not to get on your case."
"Logical. But still distasteful."
She gave him a smug look. "Pretty good for a *feeler* eh?"
Leyden had not lost any of her enthusiasm overnight. "Ok, class. I'm very excited to see what you all came up with for your flyer. Who wants to go first?"
They were standing outside, near the place Christine and Spock had been practicing earlier. The class had helped mark off the ground in 5 meter spaces.
Leyden laughed as Hawley and Donner fought each other for the class geek award. "Ok, Lieutenant, Ensign. You can go first." She held out her hand. "First I have to inspect to see that nothing was used but what you were authorized." She ran a scanner over the compact flyer. "You'd be surprised what people will do to win." She handed it back to them. "Ok, you pass. You get three flights. The coin has to stay in the flyer; it cannot separate on landing. If it does that flight is null. In the case of a tie, we'll have a fly off." She stepped back and let Donner take her place at the start line. The ensign launched her plane gently and it sailed to 7 meters. The next two flights reached 15 meters.
"Not bad," Leyden said to an obviously disappointed team. "Who's next."
"Getting this over with would be a good thing, would it not?" Spock asked Christine.
"Sure would with me. Do it like you did this morning." She turned to Leyden and gave her the same smart-ass grin as yesterday. "We'd like to try it."
Leyden's smile faded a bit but she nodded approval and held her hand out for the flyer. Her eyes opened in surprise as she took in the design of the model. "You spent quite some time on this, Captain Spock."
"The doctor and I both did," he corrected. "All night in fact. We had very little to work with except our minds."
Clearly impressed, Leyden handed it back to him. "Well let's see if it flies." She included Christine in her smile of encouragement.
Spock stepped up to the starting line. He stood for a moment, assessing something, then launched the flyer smoothly. The little plane flew straight to 20 meters. A classmate brought it back to him. The second one went only to 13 meters. Spock turned to Christine. "Doctor Chapel, could I confer with you for a moment."
Surprised, she joined him at the starting line.
He frowned slightly, "I believe I am over-thinking this. What should I do?"
"You just need to catch some good air. Wait till it feels right, then go for it. Don't think about it, just do it."
"I shall endeavor to do so."
She backed away and watched as he stood for a moment, flyer poised. Then he let it go with a smooth thrust. The plane sailed normally then suddenly lifted and soared forward.
"Yes!" Christine surprised herself at her outburst. The plane touched down at 35 meters. Beat that suckers!
Spock walked back, for a Vulcan he was practically beaming. "Your advice was excellent."
"Your execution of my advice was exquisite."
For a moment they basked in their success. Then the next team came up and tried to beat them. The best they could do was 25 meters.
"This is nerve-wracking," Christine complained. "I liked this class better when I didn't care about our results."
"I concur on that assessment."
The last team was up and they had an excellent flyer. Their first flight was 29 meters. On the second run they made it to 32 meters.
"We may not win this, Christine."
When did he start calling me by my first name? "We've already won, Spock." She corrected him gently. "We just may not come in first."
The last flight was in the air. 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, finally the flyer landed on 37 meters.
"Well done, all of you!" Leyden walked to the winning team and handed them some vouchers for meals on the town. Several other class members groaned in envy. As she passed Spock and Christine she whispered, "Very nicely done, you two." Christine found herself responding to the praise even though she didn't want to.
Everyone helped pick up the markers and tramped back to class en masse. Once they put their flyers on display near the windows, Leyden spoke loudly. "Don't bother taking your seats. The next part of our class is going to be discussion of some team behaviors. But before we do that there is some reading for you to do. I'd like you to take some private time now to read chapters four and five. Pay attention to the questions at the end of both segments. We'll resume in the classroom in two hours."
Christine followed Spock out. "Well I'll see you back here in a bit." She turned to leave. His voice caused her to stop and turn.
"Where are you going to study?"
"I thought I'd go down to the lake. It's such a beautiful day."
He looked slightly uncomfortable. "Would you mind company?"
"No. Come on." She grinned at him. "We really did well considering what crap we had to work with for that flyer."
He nodded. "Yes. I am pleased at our success."
A few minutes later they arrived at the lake and took their places at either end of a bench. The time passed pleasantly as they read in silence.
When the class reconvened, Leyden led them in several discussions of behaviors that stop teams from functioning. Christine found herself paying much more attention now that she was looking at the information from the perspective of a potential first officer.
They practiced upward feedback, a means for subordinates to evaluate supervisors. The role playing seemed a bit forced, and many of the class members did not seem convinced that this could be successfully implemented in the military environment of Starfleet.
"I agree, it would be difficult. But it is something to think about." Leyden seemed a bit discouraged by their lack of enthusiasm.
Before they broke for lunch, Leyden gave them instructions for the next exercise, a scavenger hunt in town. "Everyone be back here promptly. We send people out on a staggered basis. The idea is simple. You are racing against the clock. I will give you the first clue and you need to figure out where to go. When you get there, if it is the right place, there will be someone there to give you another clue. Then you continue on. We do this on foot people, so be prepared for some walking. Or running. Alright, enjoy your lunch and I'll see you back here in an hour."
Christine turned to Spock, "Are you eating or walking?"
"I believe I will meditate for a while. I am still full from breakfast. I take it you are not?"
She laughed. "Are you kidding? I'm starving."
He raised an eyebrow but otherwise did not comment.
Christine decided to stick with something light for lunch. She sat with several other class members and enjoyed the time getting to know them a little better.
Everyone arrived back to the classroom on time and Leyden had them draw numbers to see the order of start. Christine and Spock drew one of the first slots.
Spock spoke softly, almost conspiratorially, "It is important to get a good start and get far ahead of the other teams so that they cannot just follow our lead."
Christine smiled at his instruction. "Was this one of your meditation topics?"
He nodded. "I had not intended it to be, but it kept intruding so I finally gave it the attention it demanded."
She nodded sagely, "Very logical, Spock. Why fight what is?"
They were called up and handed their first clue. It was relatively easy. "Go north as the crow flies and trust to your luck. You'll find me when you see the man feeding ducks."
"I hope they are all no brainers like this one," Christine said as they raced off to the lake. There was a young man tearing off bits of bread to throw to a variety of waterfowl. As they approached him he looked up and handed them another clue.
"The bell tolls for thee and thee and thee. But which bell is that, from me the rest you'll see."
Spock thought for a moment. "There are five possible locations. One is not tall enough or in a position to see the others. The other four all meet the criteria."
"Why are there three *thee's* when there are only two of us? Is one of these on third street or something?"
"No." He thought for a moment. "The closest location is the headquarters building on this area, it has a loudspeaker bell. Therefore it does not really meet the criteria after all. That leaves three churches with steeples. They are all in separate directions."
"How do you know that?"
"When my meditation was fruitless I spent the rest of the hour becoming familiar with the layout of this town and what is here."
She gave him an appreciative grin, "You sneaky devil."
"Your tone is positive, so I will take it that is a compliment."
"Damn right. Ok, tell me the names of the churches."
"St. Marks, St. Catherine's, and the First Church of the Trinity."
They looked at each other and took off running for the last one. As they approached the building a woman stepped out from behind a hedge and handed them the next clue.
"If you come to my place, you'll try something stout. Just make sure it's green before you check it out."
Spock shook his head. "This means nothing to me."
Christine grinned at him. "Oh this one's easy, Spock. Are there any Irish pubs in town."
"I don't know."
"Well it's not going to be across town or anything or the game would run all night. Let's do a quick check in this general area."
They decided to do a block in each direction. And on their second turn found Murphy's Irish Room. They entered and the bartender laughed. "Well now, you're the first group to have made it." He handed over a clue.
"Did you hear that, Spock. We're ahead."
"Yes. But we must not become complacent."
They both looked at the clue. "See the stars both night or day, in my dome they're never too far away."
"Ok so where's a planetarium?"
"I do not recall seeing one listed. Perhaps that info kiosk up ahead will tell us?"
They set off down the street but suddenly Christine said, "Spock, wait." She pointed to a display window where a mass of souvenirs were displayed. In the front was a group of snow globes, only with silver stars instead of white snowflakes. "It's worth a try," she said as she hurried into the shop. The shopkeeper looked up from her newspad and smiled. "Oh so the game's started has it?" Christine took the next clue from her and went back out to Spock.
"You've done well so far, that much is true. But now we will see just what makes up you."
Christine looked at him incredulous. "That's it? That's the clue?"
"I am afraid so. On the surface it makes no sense."
"Ok we can figure this out. I know we can. What about the last part?"
"See what makes up you." His look focused off in the distance as he mentally reviewed the schematic of the town he had studied. "Nothing much that I saw on the map would fit this. But there were several industry sites I did not know. Howland, First Engineering, and Criterion."
"That's it, Spock. Criterion makes medical diagnostic equipment. Do you know where it is?"
"On the other side of our training facility." They set off quickly. "Do you not find it odd that so many of these clues would be impossible if a team had not taken the time to study the playing field?"
"Maybe that is the point. Leyden deliberately gave us the instructions *before* lunch. Maybe a little prep was perfectly acceptable. And even if you didn't do it, you can get the info from the kiosks, it just wastes more time."
Finally they arrived at the Criterion building. Before they could go in a man called to them from a parked air car. He held out a clue.
"This test you will pass. Now get back to class."
"Just when I was starting to get into it." Christine sarcastically bemoaned. "So you think we are still in first?"
"I do not see how we could be in any other position."
When they returned to the classroom, Leyden looked up in surprise. "You two giving up?"
Christine handed her the clues they had collected. "Not on your life. We're just done a little sooner than most."
Leyden counted out the slips of synthpaper. "You certainly are. Well, good job you two!" She looked at her timing chrono. "You did this in 38 minutes. Nobody has ever done it in less than 45. Go ahead and take your seats or sit outside if you want some fresh air."
The classroom seemed stuffy so they sat out on the grass and waited. The next team in did not show for another 15 minutes. They looked very disappointed to see Spock and Christine already back. Five minutes later another team came back. Then there was a steady stream of teams returning with the last clue. After Leyden checked each team back in they would come out to join the group on the grass. Soon everyone was comparing stories of all the false starts they had made and the dead ends they had followed. When Leyden checked the last group in she came outside.
"We have a new class record, folks. In 38 minutes, Captain Spock and Doctor Chapel finished this course." She handed them some vouchers for dinner in town. "Congratulations!" Her look turned serious. "You beat the next team by 15 minutes. What do you think contributed to your good performance?"
"We worked well together. I think we played off one another's strengths. Of course it didn't hurt that he," Christine gestured at Spock, "Spent lunch studying the map and directory."
"That's not fair," one of their classmates complained.
"Why not?" Leyden's tone was serious. "Why do you think I told you the rules *before* lunch. Sure this is just a game, but you had the chance to prepare and most of you didn't take it. This team did and they won. I think that is a valuable object lesson." She smiled at the class to show there were no hard feelings. "Now I know you all ran into some roadblocks or had something funny happen. Let's take some time to share those events."
After about three-quarters of an hour, Leyden called a halt to the discussion. "Ok, then, that's it for today. We're ending a little early because I want you to do the readings from the last two chapters of the material for discussion in the morning. The final exercise after lunch is a fun one. We have an excellent prize for whichever team takes first. Ok, see you bright and early tomorrow." Leyden went back inside, leaving the class to break up on its own.
Christine looked down at the voucher. It was good at several restaurants in town, including Murphy's. A stout sounded good.
"Can I buy you dinner, Doctor?" Spock's eyes glimmered with humor.
She laughed. "Why yes you can, Captain. And how sweet of you to offer."
His eyebrow rose dramatically. "Sweet? I do not believe anyone has ever used that word to describe me."
She laughed again. "I won't spread it around."
"See that you don't," his almost smile belied the harshness of the words. "I should like to read the material before we go. Shall we meet in the lobby of our quarters in two hours?"
"That would be fine. But, I'm going to head down to the lake to read, do you want to come."
His next words shocked her. "Yes I do. But I believe I shall pass. I will get more reading done in my room than if I am there with you."
"Meaning what?" her tone was teasing but her words were serious.
"Meaning that I enjoy your company, Christine. And I find that reading a book sounds much less interesting than simply talking to you. So in the interest of graduating, I will find somewhere else to study." And with that he walked off, leaving her happy but a bit confused as she made her way down to the lake.
Christine read for ten minutes before she realized that she hadn't absorbed a single word. Damn the man. What the hell did that last comment mean? She hated that she was even thinking about it. I swore I would never go down this road again, and I meant it, she thought fiercely. Calling on most of her willpower she turned back to the book and managed to concentrate on the subject matter and not Spock.
Finally she finished and walked back to her quarters. In her room she freshened up and changed into non regulation clothes. She took her hair down and spent some time arranging it so that the marks from the clips that had kept it up all day wouldn't show. Once she had stopped damaging her hair with bleach it had slowly recovered the fineness and gloss it had had when she was young. She did not think that the now silky strands would hold one of her old elaborate updo's for even five minutes. It took a myriad of clips just to keep it up in a simple style. Finally satisfied with her hair, she slapped on some lip balm and went to meet Spock.
He was waiting for her. He too had changed into casual clothes. His robe was a dark rich red, with gold and copper thread embroidered throughout. She wondered wickedly what a Vulcan male wore under his robe. Stop it, she ordered.
"Spock. Do you mind if we go to Murphy's? I've been craving a stout ever since I read that clue."
"What is a stout, exactly?"
"You're kidding, right?" She looked at him incredulously. "You've never had one? Oh you are in for a treat. We'll have Guiness then, it's the most famous. And I like it the best."
"You have not answered my original question."
"Oh right." She paused, coughed dramatically, then started back up with a thick Irish brogue. "It's like this boyo. Way back in, well I don't know exactly, some brilliant brewer, Irish naturally, named Guiness got the idea to make a thicker, darker beer. And he got that by roasting the barley and sometimes malt and adding a lot more hops. And what he ended up with was a black glass of perfection. Heavy, acrid, sweet, everything." She dropped the accent. "Or so my Uncle Finn used to claim."
"So it is a beer."
"Well it's a beer the same way Romulan ale is."
"Ah, I see. It is highly intoxicating."
"No, I don't mean that. It is in a class by itself. You sort of have to develop a taste for it."
Spock looked unsure. "I must confess I do not care for cold beverages."
She grinned. "Then you're in luck. If Murphy's is an authentic Irish pub they'll be serving the Guiness at room temperature."
They reached the pub a few minutes later. The bartender greeted them like long lost cousins. "You're back. And would you be holding a pair of winning vouchers then? I said to myself, 'Charlie, those two look like winners, they do, they do.' Well come in then, sit down."
Christine smiled at his enthusiasm. "We would like to eat here, but my friend is a vegetarian. If you don't have anything on the menu for him then we'll just sit at the bar for a while."
The man looked slightly offended. "And how do you think Murphy's has stayed in continuous business since 1927? Hmmm. It wasn't by not changing with the times. We have some lovely meat-free dishes." He grabbed a couple of menus and led them to a secluded table in the back. "There and can I be bringing you something from the bar?"
"Two Guiness, room temp."
He winked at her. "Good for you girl. Cold stout is for wimps."
She and Spock studied their menus for a while. When the bartender came back with the dark pints she ordered steak and kidney pie and Spock ordered a mixed grains and vegetable dish. Once the man had gone, Spock reached for the stout and gingerly took a sip. Then he took a deeper drink and a look of startled satisfaction lit his face.
"This is like vr'ie'dith. It is a drink that is popular on Vulcan. We brew it at home and it is the same heavy, grainy taste."
She smiled at him as she took a drink from her glass. It was always a shock to her at first drinking this beverage warm, but by the second taste she was used to it. "I learned to drink stout when I was a teenager. My uncle Finn Crawford was, looking back, probably a little too fond of this particular libation. But he taught me to drink it and like it."
"He was your mother's brother?"
She shook her head. "No my dad's sister's husband. My mom was an only child. Her maiden name was Drake."
"How many siblings did your father have?"
"Just the one. Like you I come from a small immediate family."
"Vulcans tend to have small families."
"Well yeah if you're only going to do it every seven..." she realized too late what she was saying and trailed off in embarrassment. "God, I'm sorry, Spock. That was a stupid thing to say."
"It was bluntly put, but not an unusual misunderstanding."
"That the ability is gone at any other time. Or the desire. Vulcans can and do engage in..." He suddenly looked very embarrassed as he realized exactly what subject he was warming to. His lips closed firmly then he picked up his drink and seemingly lost himself in studying the taste of stout.
They both busied themselves with drinking for a few minutes. Christine's mind went back to what he had said that afternoon. She really wanted to let it drop but it was still bothering her. Before she could talk herself out of it, she plunged right in, "Something you said today upset me, Spock."
Spock put down his now half-full glass. He appeared to be thinking back over the day.
She set her own glass down. "When you said you didn't want to come to the lake because I would distract you."
"It was only the truth, why would it bother you?" He looked genuinely confused.
"Spock, you can't say things like that. I know you probably didn't mean it the way it came out. But it does sound a certain way to a human, which I am, and so are you too, but less so." Oh yeah, this is going just great, Christine thought bitterly. "Look, I've put my old life behind me. There are certain things I don't want to experience again, certain ways I'd rather not feel."
"You know, just ways."
He leaned forward. "If you do not tell me exactly what you mean I will undoubtedly repeat whatever it is I did to make you feel bad."
She took a huge gulp of stout. "I don't want to feel...stupid again."
"I make you feel stupid?" He was perplexed now.
I had to open my big mouth, she cursed herself. "Look, Spock. Let me be straight with you. We both know that I had a thing, a big, big thing for you, when we served on the Enterprise. I've managed to put that behind me. And now with the idea of serving with you, of being your direct subordinate, your partner of sorts, it is even more important that I act in a professional manner."
His eyes were narrowed. "I understand that, Christine. But how did I make you feel stupid?"
"You didn't. I did. Every time I'd see you walk by and my heart would be in my throat and you barely acknowledged me I'd feel stupid. Every time I'd go to a crew function and hope you'd be there and you weren't, or worse you were but didn't talk to me, I'd feel stupid."
He nodded, finally understanding. "Those circumstances were different. We were different people. And we were not friends."
"Yes that's true, but that's precisely why you cannot say things like my being around you distracts you."
"But it does."
"But you can't say that."
"Why not?" His near frown had deepened.
She suddenly laughed. They sounded like six-year olds. Well why not say it with the forthrightness of a child that age. "Because you'll make me fall in love with you again."
The bartender chose that time to show up with two more stouts. A young man bearing their food followed closely on his heels.
After they were gone, Spock motioned to her plate. "Eat your food while it is hot. We will continue this discussion when we are finished."
They both dug in. Christine was not sure that she would be able to eat after what was just said but the lack of much lunch coupled with her normal hearty appetite and the delicious flavor of the entree allowed her to finish the meal quickly.
Spock was not far behind her. He put his utensils neatly on his plate, wiped his mouth, took another sip of beer and said, "So you do not wish to fall in love with me again?"
She nearly choked on her own swallow of stout. "Uh, yeah. Why, do you want me to? Are you going to tell me that you have developed an overwhelming love for me that will not be satisfied until you take me in your arms and make passionate love to me?"
"No, I am not going to tell you that."
She felt suddenly helpless; this conversation was going in circles. "So you aren't in love with me?"
"Okay then, I'm glad that we cleared that up because I can tell you that I was pretty worried there for a moment."
"You are angry."
She took a gulp of beer, nearly choked on it. "Am not."
"As you like. In any case. I had more to say. I am not now in love with you. But if we continue our interaction as we have here, and even expand it by the very nature of the Captain-First Officer bond, then I predict with 99 percent certainty that I will be."
She looked at him. Horror fought with happiness. "That is the least romantic thing I have ever heard."
"I am a Vulcan, and a thinker. What did you expect?"
"Well, I don't know, but this sure wasn't it. So you *think* that you will eventually *feel* love? For me?"
"With near perfect certainty." He raised his glass. "In the meantime, what I do *feel* is a great amount of gratitude for whoever thought we would be the perfect command pair for the Carter. Without their intervention I would never have had the opportunity to start getting to know such a vexing yet intoxicating woman."
Christine felt her tension leave her. "Vexing?"
"Well you haven't begun to see difficult yet. You just wait till I'm your first officer." She raised her own glass and rapped it against his. "Hold it a minute, Spock. If I'm your first officer you can't just go falling in love with me."
She looked at him in irritation. And he called her vexing? "Fraternization. Chain of command. Etc."
He dismissed those reasons. "I think you will find that a ship with a mission such as that which Uhura described for the Carter may have a bit more relaxed rules than some others. In addition I am Vulcan and nobody in the Starfleet chain of command truly understands us. If the famous Ambassador Spock says he must have his bondmate serving with him as his first officer, they will no doubt buy that."
"You would lie?"
He appeared to consider the question. "At this moment, no. But eventually, for you, yes, I probably will." His eyes were positively twinkling as he looked at her with his otherwise even expression.
She found herself smiling back at him. "Well, Captain Spock. You are certainly full of surprises." She raised her glass again to him. "To surprises."
"No," he said as he touched her glass with his own, "To us and the start of a fascinating future together."
Class the next morning was a long discussion with many exercises on what made effective teams and partnerships. In one of the exercises the class was asked to spend some time discussing the difference between a partner and a sidekick.
Spock seemed confused by the term. "I do not understand fully what is meant by sidekick."
Christine thought it over. "Ok, um, think Batman and Robin." He looked at her uncomprehendingly. "How about the Lone Ranger and Tonto? Green Hornet and Kato? Inspector Clousseau and Kato? Rocky and Bullwinkle?"
He just shook his head.
Christine tried for something less popular and more classical. "Ok, how about Achilles and Patroclus?. Herakles and Iolaus?"
"Ah," Spock said. "I am beginning to understand now."
They dutifully completed each exercise and took part in the group discussions but Christine was ready to finish up and move on to the final exercise.
Finally, Leyden stopped the discussion. "Ok, thank you very much for all the great thoughts and sharing," she beamed at the class. "Now I'm going to give you the instructions for the final exercise."
The large screen at the front of the class filled with a map of the campus. "Think of this next session as a rather large game of hide and seek, or tag." X's began to fill the map, forming a circle around the perimeter of the compound. "This is you, your team. You will start at a prescribed location with a specially modified tricorder and phaser. Try to neutralize as many of the other teams as possible."
The X's on the board began to move toward the center. "How do you do that? You'll be wearing special vests that will register the *phaser* hits. The weapons that you carry, they will register from 10 meters and closer. The first one to get a hit on either team member wins for their team. The computer will register that *kill* to you. You'll be able to track your opponents via the tricorder. Every two minutes it will show you a diagram similar to this," she pointed at the map, "with the updated locations of all teams still in the game."
X's began to wink off the screen. "The goal is to be the team left standing at the end of the game. We will also have another award for the most kills since it is conceivable you could win this and still be knocked out of the game."
She looked at the class. "Any questions?"
Hawley raised his hand. "Can you win the game simply by staying out of everyone's way?"
"Excellent question, and the answer is no. I'll be watching from here. And I'll have observers stationed at various points. If it is obvious you are not really trying to take out another team you will be disqualified. Ok, then, if there are no more questions go grab something to eat and meet back here in an hour."
Spock and Christine walked to the mess hall. Spock suggested that they get something and take it outside to discuss strategy privately. Lunch was over long before they were finished arguing over the best way to handle the game.
Leyden was already back at the classroom when they arrived. She waited till the whole class was assembled then reached into a bag and pulled out a handful of vests. Passing them down the rows, she said, "Everybody take one and put it on. The ties go in the front." Then she reached into another carryall and pulled out a set of tricorder and phaser. "Everyone gets one. Decide who's going to carry which tool. Each team member must carry one."
Spock handed Christine the phaser. He took the tricorder.
"Ok everyone, look at your tricorder. This shows you your starting position. As soon as you arrive your X will turn yellow and will stay that color till you are deactivated. Once everyone is in position I will start the game." She smiled at them, "Don't forget to stay together. Any team that separates by more than 30 meters for more than five minutes will be disqualified. If you are killed then make your way back to the classroom as quickly as you can. Ok, then let's get going."
Christine followed Spock as they walked to a spot near the top of the facility grounds. As soon as their X turned yellow they stopped.
"So we are going after the team to our left?" Christine peered over his arm to see the tricorder. Only their X showed up so far.
"Yes. It will be important to move quickly and quietly. We want to pick them off before the two minute mark arrives and a new schematic is posted."
Leyden's face appeared on the small screen. "Ladies and gentleman. The game is officially started."
Spock led Christine off at a fast run to the nearest stand of trees. They used them as cover as they covered ground quickly to find the next team. The sound of running feet alerted them before the duo came into sight. As they rounded the corner, Christine stepped out and shot the lead member. His vest let out a high pitched whine and then was silent.
His partner shook her tricorder. "Damn thing's dead."
"Just like you," Christine grinned. She watched them turn to begin the march back to the classroom.
"What next?" she asked Spock, who was studying the tricorder. She moved to see it too. Finally the picture updated. The team that had been to the left of the one that they had just neutralized had also moved into the area, as had the team that had originally been on Spock and Christine's right. "Which one?"
He pointed to the first set. "They should be approaching behind the one's we just shot." He melted back into the trees and Christine followed suit. No sooner were they safely under cover than the other team came pelting around the corner.
"They have to be here somewhere," one of them said.
"Right here, kiddo." Christine shot him in the back.
"Hardly sporting," the dead one's partner complained.
She grinned. "Doesn't matter. Rules don't say I have to be sporting, just that I have to take you out. See ya."
She waited till they had gone then joined Spock in the woods again. The tricorder changed again. The team that had been to their right was still in the same place. "What do you make of that?" she asked.
"I do not know. They appear to be in the woods as well. Perhaps lying in wait?"
She motioned him to walk forward. "Let's go find out?"
He nodded and they walked as quietly as they could through the woods. They needn't have bothered. Had Hawley and Donner been paying attention to anything other than each other Spock and Christine might have been neutralized. But the two were wrapped up in a tight embrace, their lips locked, eyes closed, oblivious to the danger they were in.
"Oh this is just too friggin' easy," Christine complained as she shot Donner in the back. The whine made the couple jump apart.
Donner looked at her wide-eyed.
"Go on," Christine smiled at her, "you can hold hands on the walk back. But get out of our territory."
"Christine," Spock's urgent whisper caused her to come quickly. He gestured to the screen. There were two teams approaching their position. And they were close.
"What do we do?"
Spock gave her an almost smile. "The screen is rather two dimensional. How well do you climb?"
She gave him a wicked smile. "Better than you I bet, come on!" She was up in a tree quickly. He followed and settled on a slightly lower branch.
"Don't shoot the lead team, or they will give away our location to the second," Spock hissed just as the first of their pursuers showed up. They searched the area thoroughly, but never looked up. Then another team came into sight and there was a shoot out. Christine took aim and quickly targeted the nearest member of the team left standing. The whine of his vest took her classmate by surprise. He looked up in time to see her climbing down from her perch, Spock close behind her.
"This area is clear," Spock announced. "We should make our way to this location," he pointed to a spot near the lake.
They took off and ran smoothly but then Christine tripped over a small bush and hit the ground hard. Eyes wide, she grabbed her ankle and looked up at her teammate. "Ohhhh. It hurts. Go on without me, Spock. I'm just holding you back. Go on, leave me. I'll be ok." Then she fell back dramatically, open hand on her forehead.
He hauled her up. "Quit fooling around, Doctor." He checked the tricorder; pointed in the direction of their next quarry who were also quickly approaching the lake.
As they took off running again, she complained. "You're no fun, Spock. Anyone ever tell you that?"
They stopped in another stand of trees. Spock checked the display. Fully half the teams had been knocked out in the first ten minutes. There were about nine left. Even as they watched, the display updated and there were only five left. "We must move or they will think we are not participating," Spock led her toward the lake. A high pitched whine from his vest made them both jump.
"You are out of here," the shooter of the other team called back as he and his partner took off running after their next victims.
"We're done?" Spock asked in disbelief.
"It's not the end of the world, Spock." She could tell by his face that he was truly disappointed.
"I cannot believe I did not hear him coming up behind us."
"So you're not perfect," she started walking back to the classroom. "But then we already knew that."
"I do not believe I heard you."
"Oh you heard me, you just don't believe me."
They bickered all the way back to the room. By the time they arrived the game was over. The team that had taken them out had won the game and had the highest number of kills also. Leyden made a great show of presenting them with a certificate for an extra day of shore leave to use the next time they were on duty. She spent a few minutes on wrap up then handed out the certificates for successfully finishing the class. When she got to Christine and Spock she laughed, "I was a little worried about you two for a while, but you really pulled it out. Congratulations. Oh and when we are done here, please call this number on the comm unit." She handed them a scrap of synthpaper.
When they arrived back at their quarters they went together to Spock's room to place the call. It was instantly answered by a young man in civilian clothing. "Oh, Captain Spock. Doctor Chapel. The admiral has been expecting your call." They were quickly transferred to Nogura.
"Spock, Chapel. Good of you to call. Guess this means you passed your team training with flying colors. I'm looking forward to seeing the review. But that's not why I wanted you to call." The screen suddenly split. On the top Nogura's face remained, on the bottom there was a shot of a graceful ship docked to the shipyards. "This is the USS Carter. She's going to be a diplomatic, peacekeeping, and relief ship. She needs a captain and first officer. And I think I am looking at them, aren't I, Captain Spock, *Commander* Chapel."
They both acted surprised. Christine was shocked to see what a fine liar Spock really was. In the end they convinced Nogura that they were stunned and pleased beyond all measure. They were instructed to beam up to spacedock as soon as possible and catch a shuttle that would take them to the shipyards where they would begin the process of becoming familiar with their new ship. There were schematics to be studied, computers to be programmed, crew members to be picked, and supplies to be ordered.
Christine found that she wasn't feigning excitement after all. She looked over at Spock. He was wearing a very satisfied expression as he signed off with the admiral.
"We did it."
He nodded. "Indeed we did. And now our future awaits. Shall we go meet it?"
"Now? I haven't even packed."
"Why not, you knew we would be leaving here."
"What, I suppose you are all packed?"
He raised an eyebrow, "I am."
"Well I'm not." She started to walk toward the door. Then took a good look around the spotless room. "Doesn't look like you ever did anything in here at all."
"I shudder to think of the state of your room, Christine."
"Yeah well if a cluttered room equals a cluttered mind, what does an empty room mean?" She grinned as he tried to think up a retort. Don't even bother, she thought as she closed the door and chuckled all the way up to her room.