Randall LandersJuly 17th 2295
I hate shuttlecrafts, Chekov decided. They were too confining to be comfortable to ride in, and far too rickety to relax in. Hed hated them since his time at the Academy, and he hated anything to do with them. He hated this planet since its ambient magnetic field made using the transporters impossible, but when theyd seen the artifact from orbit, he knew that he had to have a look at it.
He glanced around the small vehicle and noted with some satisfaction that the rest of his landing party was catching up on their sleep. The sole exception, of course, was Saavik, who was seated next to him in the navigators chair, and she seemed to be lost in thought as she performed her required duties.
The toroid-shaped artifact itself evoked memories of the Guardian of Forever, hence the urgent need to investigate the planet. The shuttle had sat down six hundred meters from the object, and the landing party had approached it with all due caution. But whatever it was intended to be, they had no answer. It had been holovided, probed, scanned, prodded and touched by just about everyone in the landing party, but no clue as to its purpose could be established.
The ships archaeologist, Lieutenant Natalie Campbell, had spent hours with the artifact. Then, at her request, she and Saavik had taken the shuttle up for an aerial survey of the surrounding terrain. There were broken columns, a few shattered archways, even an occasional remnant of a building. But the ruins were virtually unidentifiable, even though they apparently stretched across the entire continent.
Once the aerial survey was completed, Chekov had given the order to return to the Enterprise. And so they were.
"Another mystery never to be solved, eh, Saavik?"
"I beg your pardon, Captain?"
"The planet. The ruins. Well never know who or what they were."
"I disagree, sir. The age of the ruins is approximately ten thousand years. That and our present location relatively deep in the Beta Quadrant and the fact that the artifact itself was composed of a diburnium-osmium alloy suggests that this was a Kalandan planet."
Chekov blinked in surprise. "Really? I had no idea that you were such a student of archaeology, Saavik."
The half-Vulcan, half-Romulan woman raised her eyebrow. "I am not, Captain. However, Ms. Campbell is an expert, and I spent two point six hours with her, listening to her espouse her initial observations and deductions, slowly refining them into a cohesive theory about the nature of the ruins."
"Oh," Chekov answered, unable to respond to that statement.
"It was quite fascinating. I have never before heard a Human make such a logical progression in deductive reasoning. From what I have observed, you ad lib everything."
The captain blinked in surprise. "Excuse me?"
Saavik turned to face her commanding officer. "I believe I am using the phrase correctly, Captain. I have been observing Human behavior for twenty-two point three years. My deduction that your species ad libs everything is well grounded in my observation. Captain Kirk himself was a perfect example of Humanitys greatest skill: the ability to improvise. You yourself are"
Chekov burst out into laughter, interrupting her explanation and even disturbing the dozing landing party members. The captain realized that hed almost awakened them, and clamped his mouth shut immediately. When he finally stopped chuckling, he leaned toward his tactical officer. "You are full of shit, Saavik," he whispered, trying in vain to keep from chuckling under his breath.
"I beg your pardon, sir?"
"Its well known to everyone in the Federation that Vulcans are the greatest bullshit artists in the galaxy, Commander."
She blinked in outright surprise. "I-I..." She took a breath to compose herself. "Would you...care to explain your unfounded assertion, Captain?"
"Certainly, Saavik. Were en route to NGC 2548. What is the likelihood we will not suffer any casualties during this mission?"
"Eight thousand, six hundred twenty-three to one against."
"In other words, were going to have casualties?"
"In all probability, yes, Captain."
"And how did you compute that figure?"
"The figure takes into account the number of stars in the cluster, the age of the stars, the likelihood that stars of that age would have populated planets, the likelihood that of those populated planets there would be a number with the technological capability of inflicting harm to this ship, the number of planets likely to have a hostile population, the number of first contacts made with hostile populations which resulted in hostile action, and the likelihood that hostile action would result in a casualty, as well as other factors, including your own capabilities as a commanding officer."
"What a load of bullshit, Saavik!" he chuckled again. "You just made that up on the spot, didnt you?"
He raised a finger in warning. "You made it up. And youre making up your justification for that figure now. And youre already trying to figure out a way to weasel out of this conversation, which will no doubt end with a slightly barbed insult." He laughed softly. "Ive seen this far too many times from Vulcans, Saavik, and to be honest, none of you are very convincing."
"II..." She was obviously flummoxed. "Damn."
The rest of the journey was made in complete silence.
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