Note and Disclaimer: Like everyone else, I don't own anything from Star Trek. However, whatever characters I've made up (like Alyssa Elma) are mine and I am asking you use them with permission. This is story two of my series One Headlight. It will jump between the years 2270-2271 (in italics) and 2282 (regular print), placed between The Motion Picture and The Wrath of Khan. I have changed a little Star Trek canon and followed some of the books, which I hope you all will forgive. Enjoy!
In a way, I need a change
From this burnout scene.
Another time, another town,
But it's always back to you.
Stumble out, in the night,
From the pouring rain
Made the block, sat and thought.
There's more I need.
It's always back to you.
But I'm good without you.
Yeah, I'm good without you.
Yeah, yeah, yeah…
How many times can
I break till I shatter?
Over the line can't
Define what I'm after.
I always turn the car around.
Give me a break,
Let me make my own pattern.
All that it takes is some time,
But I'm shattered
I always turn the car around…
Out of all of the able security officers available in the Fleet, it had to be her. After all of those years, when they decided that their relationship was going to endanger them both and the children and that they would be best apart, she had been selected as head of security to the peace conference they were having at the Federation's main headquarters in San Francisco. Now head of all Starfleet security, she was assigned the delicate task of delegates' safety in their quest to make peace with the planet of Thyria, an unknown planet seeking Federation protection.
Conflicting memories and emotions rolled over Admiral James T. Kirk in that room, but now was not the time to confront them when so much was at stake and he had to be on show. Even with his recent (albeit short) retirement just a distant memory and Antonia and the mountain cabin a bittersweet dream, he still remained stoic as the unusual alien race slid into sight and the welcoming ceremony began. Finally at attention, he stood tall amongst a long line of Starfleet officers as the humanoid shield encircled all of them. He soon was shaking the hands of their wary visitors and listening to their greetings.
Kirk had enough of the Thyrians in a short time. He was diplomatic enough to hide a yawn when the last in line had stated how lovely it was to see him and a great honor for him to be at the table. By then, security had moved to the rear when the room was declared menace free, guarding them fiercely as the door clicked closed like a tomb and they marched forward to their seats. Kirk had lost track of Alyssa and tuned out her nearby voice, thinking it prudent to keep his distance for now. Besides, Kevin Riley had caught up to him by then.
An assistant to the end (and still his Chief of Staff after his stint with Antonia), Riley was devoted to the admiral and forever ensured the finer details had been organized. If not, he was on top of them until everything went smoothly, using his own authority to throw some weight around. Ever since Lori had been killed in that transporter accident some years ago, the aide felt obligated to take her place in everything except inside his home. He checked in from time to time, using every excuse he could just to justify his coming to Kirk's apartment. He dared to even bombard his communications if there wasn't an answer too.
The admiral decided to play stupid with Riley to get some information. He had not checked on Alyssa in a few years. "Who's the woman in charge?" he asked in a hushed whisper. "She looks familiar."
"Oh, Captain Alyssa Elma?" Riley wrinkled his forehead, thinking hard. "I would have thought you'd known her, Admiral."
"Vaguely, I suppose. What's she doing here?"
"As the head of Starfleet's security now, she is entitled to be assigned to big places like this. It's said that she volunteered, thinking it dangerous to bring prestigious people in one spot and wanting to handle it herself. Other rumors place her being ordered to come here. I doubt the former theory. Besides, Starfleet Command would have wanted her expertise anyway."
"How so?" Kirk was quite amused by this gossip.
Riley warmed up to the theme. "There is some controversy over this peace treaty, Admiral, and when it came to wellbeing, they needed someone high up the chain to handle this matter. Starfleet wanted an officer who has proven their worth in salt."
"I see," Kirk replied. He retained his interest.
"After…well, after Admiral Uriah's crimes and the courageous way she conducted herself subsequently, she had remained at her position and ensured peace on Synprilox until the planet was destroyed. She narrowly escaped death and had been assigned to Earth last year, I believe."
"Ahh, I remember her now. I was on Synprilox and Keplar III for six months observing the hostile political situation. She had housed me. However, I don't recall seeing her fighting evil."
"She has the medals to prove it, Sir. Her actions speak louder than her words."
"Indeed. But a decoration does not prove anything."
Riley digested the point and nodded, changing the topic. "Her children will be together shortly. Her oldest, Ryder Elma, is currently in Starfleet Academy and graduating this week. He has top marks in all courses, has displayed intelligence and skill in the Kobayaski Maru through the failure and is on his way to a ship. He's graduating years before the expected time and will be slated for a junior officer. He would be the youngest that Starfleet has ever had."
Kirk scratched his chin. "You said that the captain has more children?"
"Just another, her youngest, a daughter named Alice." Riley smiled. "I think the kid's ten or eleven years old. Bright girl. I talked with her before the head of the daycare shut its doors."
"Since when do you have the time?"
"You do allow me free breaks…Sir."
Kirk chuckled lightly. "So I do. Is Miss Alice still in the building or has she been sent to another Federation daycare or school?"
"Still a few floors down, with the other children of those present. Apparently, Admiral, the captain isn't the only person who have kids that might get in the way. The Thyrians were liberal in bringing every family member they could, most of them younger than eighteen Earth years."
"You mentioned that her oldest was graduating from the Academy?"
"Yes, Sir. Cadet Elma is off for the summer and might join his mother and sister later this week and would take care of any babysitting. That would give the daycare matron a scare."
"What's his reason for coming other than family and to cause chaos?"
Riley shrugged his shoulders and would have responded had he not been called elsewhere. He rushed ahead to the request of another high-ranking officer, frantically giving the admiral a prompt farewell. Kirk, deprived of his Chief of Staff for the moment, brooded in silence as he found his seat and digested the information. The arrival of an old flame meant a lot to him, more than the others he had and that included Antonia and Carol.
He did not know how much he meant to her though. Scratching that immature thought, he sought the more rational. He reasoned that Alyssa had a list of attendees to this cocktail party. Perhaps she did and decided to come along anyway? To put the personal aside to make room for the professional? Did it even matter to her?
Those questions always came back. Maybe it does matter. Maybe she's trying to pick up where she left off.
It would not be like Alyssa though. After her husband's tragic death in the hands of Admiral Uriah and his conspirators, she had put a lot of her past aside and move on. She settled herself and Ryder (and eventually Alice) where Starfleet ordered her and continued working as she always did, as far as Kirk was aware. Even he was not unaware of how Synprilox crumbled under an unknown enemy attack and eventually was destroyed. Millions who did not escape to the refugee planet, Keplar III, were killed, the chancellor included.
Alyssa was a survivor. Her coming back from her Synprilox exile meant a few things, most of them complicated and annoying though. However, now did not seem the best time to explore those avenues. As everyone settled in their respective seats (indicated via digitalized screens at each place) and the chamber president in attendance called for order, Kirk found himself next to persons of importance (Admirals Cartwright and Nogura included) and thought that utterly convenient…and boring.
After the introductions, the session began in earnest. The admiral stated his name and purpose for the record and continued to listen to the others repeat the activity. In the background, as Alyssa quietly instructed her men to surround the outside of the room, its hallways and in and out of the rest of the building, she sent out a sense of calm Kirk had not felt in years. When her insecurities were to one side, Alyssa conveyed an aura of strength and peace. This also kept all parties from each other's throats.
Aside from the both factions, Alyssa didn't seem to notice Kirk sitting there, glancing at her here and there to study her in an attempt to remain subtle. Her job was much more imperative to her, especially when a race so remote such as the Thyrians were in attendance. If nobody had any information about a species, it is always the cautious person that takes as many reasonable security measures as they could.
Beside her suspicious manner, Kirk supposed that Alyssa had grown older, but she had been like that since her husband died. Her black hair was tied in a bun, streaked with larger stripes of white than that shocking night years in Maine before. Her hazel eyes were red-rimmed, tired from the sleepless nights and the worry, but they remained as alert as ever. Even her willowy figure was slow and elderly, her hands shaking once in a while. The joints visible with riddled with arthritis, rendering them swollen and almost unusable.
Kirk was hurt by the depth of these changes, although he should have expected it. He kept tabs on her if he dared to pull the bandage from the wound, but feigned indifference when someone inquired about his sudden attentiveness. There wasn't too much he knew in the years they kept apart anyway. Alyssa had been stationed on Synprilox and sometimes Keplar III and only arrived back at Earth the year before and had braved much worse than illness.
Caught in his daydreaming, Kirk's mind drifted back to the task at hand. Stifling yet another yawn, he pushed himself to finish the session before silencing his screams about unfairly being promoted. He reminded himself that there was cadet training after this diplomatic nightmare. The Enterprise was slated for another refitting and will serve well for the newest generation.
It was some hours later before a break was called out. Nothing much had been accomplished other than overviews, planetary policies and rules and maybe an interjection here and there about personal gains and prisoners. It bored Kirk to no end. He sighed softly at its end, stretching his limbs in his chair as the others filed out and asked about lunch. Food was not on the admiral's mind. It focused on the woman who remained behind and presently eyed him with quiet inquisitiveness and surprise.
Riley was soon back with Kirk, lending him a hand to stand. "I believe that a meeting is in order, Sir," he said, directing him towards the frozen figure of the security officer. They met with Alyssa. "As you probably know, this is Captain Alyssa Elma, head of security for Starfleet."
"Captain." Kirk held out his hand for her to shake. She took it, her grip weak and weary, but still full of the same electric shock. He felt the deep scars too, full of years of deep experience and pain. "I have heard much about you supposedly."
"I hope it's all good, Admiral," Alyssa replied shyly. Her body language indicated that she wanted to be anywhere but her current position. "Rumors are a horrible thing. You find out more about yourself that way."
Kirk smiled despite himself. He hoped the familiarity wasn't too conspicuous. "Even so, I am glad you're here for this conference. Keep us safe, Captain."
"I would do everything in my power to. I will die if it meant saving someone."
"Says many an officer. Again, thank you for being here, Captain. We'll talk more later. I would love to see your children as well, especially your daughter."
Kirk released his hand from hers and departed with Riley. He didn't look back to see her reaction, pretending not to care, and followed his companion down a corridor into his private office, a place of many memories and all of them as fleeting as a living mirage. It seemed a fair trade for a man who spent his life in the service and had efficaciously navigated through galaxies and all sorts of alien races. Even with the images of the past rushing past him, it was the sort of quiet he craved.
Riley considered himself dismissed once the admiral waved him away. When the doors swished shut, Kirk sat back in his comfortable desk chair and thought. Suddenly, all of the reminiscences overwhelmed him without control. He tried chasing them away with some alcohol provided for him on a table behind him.
Two tall glasses of ale were not helping. Instead, it only allowed him to dream of that day over seventeen years ago, when he was assigned to survey the planet as a lowly captain attempting to make a difference in that center chair. Five years later, he was back, on Lori Ciana's command, and slowly realizing how corrupt the system was and how the Federation treated Synprilox so differently.
After those successful missions on Synprilox, he had been praised as an ambassador of sorts and the most sought-after officer in Starfleet. Dogged as an admiral, he had been named a savior of sorts, deemed to be a messiah efficaciously to the people of Synprilox, and a peacekeeper to the refugees of Keplar III. However, he could not share this glory with the woman who made him see the light. She was kept in the darkness, humbled by her position and the poverty she sought to reverse.
Oh, Alyssa, what have we done?
Kirk only wished she knew. Alyssa could offer him nothing. He had none too.
Admiral Lori Ciana had insisted that he go. Originally, Kirk did not want to. When she told him in the conference room that Synprilox was his first solo mission as an admiral, Kirk balked. He waited until Admiral Nogura was out of earshot before he left with Lori.
Then, he argued with her all the way from the conference room to their mutual office at the Federation Headquarters, Riley behind them snickering (for what reason, Kirk could not fathom). He explained to her why he did not feel comfortable being transported back to Synprilox for a five-month inspection tour after his promotion since he wasn't qualified for this big of a position. It wasn't even a year since his five-year mission ended. Losing the Enterprise was still a sore spot.
In addition, Lori had not held up her end of their bargain yet. He had not regained command of the ship he loved so much and had to watch as it was refitted. Captain William Decker held the reins currently, a man ready for his own command and envied, namely Kirk himself (and he admitted to Decker freely). It was not quite fair, he mused as he continued his argument to Lori. He missed being on the bridge, directing the people beneath him and exploring places nobody had ever imagined. Going back to Synprilox was hardly a balm and holding destiny in his hands.
Not to mention, teaching diplomacy to someone who had no tact and saw everything in black and white was frustrating, especially since they lived together and saw each other daily (and that did not consider Riley next door). That alone was Kirk's downfall. He was fascinated in many ways with his newest lady friend, but somehow could not make the chemistry work right. Lori had the ability to learn, except that she absolutely wanted everyone to see things her way without compromising to the advantage of both sides.
This instance was one of them. Love was another story and not on his end anyway. Lori was pretty pushy and Kirk played along.
Serves me right for accepting the position.
"But it's not some desk assignment, Jim," Lori insisted after hearing his dispute. She ordered the office shut, leaving Riley outside in the corridor. "It's also a chance for you to use your power of persuasion. Jim, please. The chancellor knows you personally and has requested your presence. She wouldn't accept any other person to examine Synprilox and how the treaty is standing. You stand between her and disaster."
"I am indisposed," Kirk announced, taking Lori's seat and twirling it in an immature manner. "You have me up to my damned neck in paperwork. This would push it back some weeks, maybe months."
"So you say." Lori pushed her black hair to one side. "I can catch you up."
"How would you know where my things are?"
"We share an office. I also have Riley. He has your desk memorized inside and out."
And the housework?"
"I can employ someone else. You don't need to worry about it."
Kirk snorted. That was a ridiculous notion, but he kept that opinion to himself. Lori was more than capable of handling their mutual home and not allowing the cares of Starfleet into their personal lives. She chose not to when her work took her to exciting places, sweet promotions and strange people. She wasn't a slob really, but she was ambitious. The little things in life did not take priority, cleaning being one of them.
"Regardless, Admiral, you've made my days pretty booked." Kirk smiled mischievously, crossing his arms as he ceased fidgeting. "Taking a ship out to the Gamma XVII quadrant is a little tricky, especially crossing past the Zulu. It took some effort to get there the initial round."
"This is why I have someone who is tagging along and making sure you don't get into trouble." Lori decided that two could play at this game. "I am pretty sure your old friend Doctor McCoy would love the trip, especially being beamed down."
"Why him? He's in retirement." Kirk was also sure the good doctor would stay that way if given the choice.
"Civilian or in Starfleet, he's still a valuable player. The chancellor liked him enough."
"Not him, Lori. Nobody is going to be able to find him and I don't want him grouching all the way there and back. I couldn't stand it."
"Ok, what about Commander Scott?"
"I can take him. He's a good friend, the perfect engineer and can get anyone out of trouble, even on shore leave."
"Fine. Commander Scott it is. Now, back to McCoy…"
"Leave him alone, Lori." Kirk rubbed his tired eyes, sighing. He was exasperated about the sore topic of McCoy and did not want to think about their last meeting and the loss of Dr. Keridwen Llewellyn. "He's been waiting for a life free of regulations and rules. He only joined to get away from his ex-wife, Jocelyn. He didn't have custody of his daughter."
"We are not here to escape personal issues."
"Tell that to a judge then. McCoy had to prove to Starfleet that he was not the abusive lush Jocelyn claimed he was. That alone was difficult."
"I'm sure he had enough of seeing officials at court when his separation went through."
Kirk felt he was at an impasse, stung by Lori's obvious professional callousness. He was sparring with her, going around and around until they were both tired of the dead horse they kicked. There was no true winner, only headaches that increased in intensity, and this was one of them. Lori was resentful of the people he used to serve with. She alone wanted his time and his life to be with her and McCoy was the one person she disliked. After calling her a witch and declaring her insane for helping to promote Kirk, Lori immediately put him in her doghouse.
"When am I leaving?" Kirk accepted his fate, anxious to get a hold on his engineering friend and have a good drink. No doubt that Scotty would be excited about departing from Earth life, but never away from the Enterprise. He would be lamenting about the beloved ship. "I need time to pack."
"How does the day after tomorrow sound?" Lori wrapped her arms from behind Kirk and leaned in for the final kill. "I mean, it's a long way to Synprilox and they'll be dinners on starbases on the way. You'll be the celebrated admiral. Furthermore, you'll have someone who will meet up with you upon arrival and she'll keep you pretty distracted. She'll also be housing you for the duration of your inspection."
"She? Who is it?"
"Lieutenant Commander Alyssa Elma, your former security officer."
The lyrics above are from the OAR song "Shattered".