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On Borrowed Time

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"This is ridiculous! The Enterprise is a starship, not a cruise liner for little girls who want to find out what being a Starfleet officer feels like! We don't have time to play games! We have a mission!"

Captain James T. Kirk was furious. What an outrageous idea of Starfleet Command to send a girl aboard his ship and ask him to find out whether she might - one day - become a good officer. His mission was to seek out and contact new life forms. Not to show little girls round the galaxy.

"I understand why you don't like it, Jim,” Admiral Dakunia’s placatory voice sounded from the screen, “but Dr. Hope is not just any girl. She was one of the finest students I've ever had. She has all the qualities a good officer could possibly have, ..."

"So, what's the problem?" Kirk cut him off rudely.

"The problem is," the admiral continued calmly, ignoring Kirk's irritation, "that, along with being a couple of pounds underweight for her height according to Starfleet regulations, she has some minor health issues. We need the recommendation of someone like you, Jim, if we are to allow her aboard a starship as an officer."

That took the wind out of Kirk's sails, and although he still didn't like the idea, especially after the mention of ‘minor health issues’, whatever that was supposed to mean, he muttered, "All right then, tell her to be ready to beam aboard at 0900 hours sharp tomorrow morning. I don't seem to have much of a choice, do I?"

"No, actually you don't, Jim. But I prefer convincing people to giving orders. And I appreciate you realising the importance of this,” Dakunia smiled sweetly. “So, I gladly accept your kind offer to take Dr. Hope aboard your ship. Like I said, she is specialised in linguistics, working on the intuitive enhancement of the universal translator specifically, but I leave it to your discretion to employ her wherever she might be needed. In fact, I'd very much appreciate you giving her a full all-round-training. The point is to find out how she’s performing under pressure. So don’t be too soft on her! Dakunia out."

As if, Kirk thought, but before he could start to protest again, Dakunia's image had faded from the screen.

"Damn!” he slammed his fist on the desk in frustration. “This man really knows how to impose his will on people!"



"Calm down, Jim!"

Dr. Leonard McCoy had been sitting right next to his friend in the captain’s quarters, listening quietly to the conversation. He tried to be soothing, even though he knew there was no point when the captain was infuriated by someone abusing his ship or their mission. And the Enterprise was certainly overqualified for training flights. But if Admiral Dakunia had selected the Enterprise in this particular case, he surely must have had his reasons.

At least now he knew why he’d been summoned to join the conversation.

Minor health issues! That didn’t bode well. He’d have to get hold of Dr. Hope’s file right away to find out what exactly was awaiting him. Just what he needed right now. As if a sickbay full of patients wasn’t enough to keep him busy. Best to make Jim see reason quickly, get this over with, and go back to work.

"You have every right to be angry, Jim. What Dakunia asks of you is highly unusual. But you have your orders. So, try to make the best of it. This girl must really have been an exceptionally promising student, if Dakunia is going to such lengths for her. He’s a decent, level-headed guy. I’ve never known him to pull rank for no reason. And who knows, maybe she won't be any trouble at all."

"Oh, don’t give me that, Bones,” Kirk snapped, rolling his eyes at McCoy. “You know perfectly well what 'exceptionally promising' students are like. We've met the kind before."

McCoy just tilted his head to one side, raised an eyebrow, and smiled wryly.

“But you’re right, of course. Let’s give Hope a chance,” the captain went on, chuckling mirthlessly, then added with a scowl, “but she’d better not expect me to make things easy for her. If she thinks that her connection to Dakunia gets her any favours, she has another think coming.”

McCoy almost felt sorry for the girl.

“Maybe try to be neutral when you meet her tomorrow?” he suggested. “Remember? You were just going to give her a chance. Make it a real one.”

“I think you’re needed in sickbay, Bones,” Kirk grumbled.

“I believe I am,” McCoy smirked as he got up and made to leave. “Gotta read up on those ‘minor health issues’. Good night, Jim!”



After McCoy had left, Kirk slipped into his workout gear and went to the gym to let off steam.

He was livid at the prospect of this Dr. Hope coming aboard. They were not on a training flight. They had a mission. And he had a feeling that this was going to be a lot of trouble. The girl was only 23 years old, for Christ’s sake! Granted, she had already obtained her PhD of linguistics. She’d been best of her year and was obviously brilliant. Maybe even less immature than he feared. But still, his ship was not a playground for little girls.

Anyway, no matter how much he disliked the idea, Starfleet Command had left him no choice. There was no way for him to get out of this one. Bones was right, he’d better make the best of it. His orders were to fully integrate her and appoint her to every duty in any field she could be of use to the ship. He was to give her a thorough all-round training and test her abilities very carefully in order to recommend her for further starship assignment, if he thought her so fit. But he was determined to make it anything but easy for her.