A/N: This is the bastard offspring of a politics wonk and a StarTrek fan. I overheard my Mom, who's on my town's school board, talking about the latest drama with the site council board, and quickly scribbled it down.
Terra/Terran: Earth/Earthen; Andorian: species known for a corrupt government, a dislike of Vulcans, and being emotional; regs: regulations.
Warning: This is a political drama. Language. Pre KS or K&S.
This has been rewritten, so if you are reading this again, some parts of the story may be new or deleted.
James T. Kirk, Captain of the Starfleet flagship USS Enterprise, NCC 1701, was not feeling particularly captainly at the moment. Winona Kirk had only just discovered her maternal streak, and Jim had a hard time coping with the sudden change.
"Mom, why now of all times? You haven't worked in what, seventeen years? Eighteen? You'll be expected to-"
"To adapt, just like everyone else." One blond eyebrow rose dangerously, "Are you saying I can't do it?"
"NO!" Jim yelped, backtracking furiously, if anything motivated a Kirk, it was a challenge, "I'm saying that the seniority rule is being really pushed right now, you won't be able to get anything good-"
Winona interrupted with surprise, "Haven't you heard? Starbase XI's administration has gone to the dogs. I'll be fine."
There was a pause as Jim waited for more information. "… Annd?"
Winona rolled her eyes, as if he was being intentionally obtuse. "All of the highest positions were just opened. Those idiots can't agree on a replicator setting nowadays, what with the Admiralty in charge."
Jim blinked. "The Admiralty? Why're they in charge of a Starbase, that's not their job."
"No one else wants to do it, even with the 41 Beta thing making it High Priority. It's all paperwork. Last I heard Councilwoman Tishri was being commandeered to coerce some poor saps into taking the job."
"I thought we weren't accepting any more planet applications until the Recovery is done."
"Yeah, well." Winona shrugged. "41 Beta's different. They have some recourses that we want. And the application won't take long; it's more a formality."
"But still, to accept another planet into the Federation now, when there aren't even enough houses for the Vulcans yet –,"
"Hey, I'm not saying it's a good idea. Just that it's happening. And Tishri's in charge; things will move quickly."
Another blink. "Tishri? The Andorians just finished voting yesterday, couldn't they've waited 'til after the elections?"
Winona rolled her eyes. "You'd think so, wouldn't you? But whatever she's been saying, it must be working: Leighton's already signed on a Second chair."
Jim perked up, "Leighton? Thomas Leighton?"
"The very one."
"I know, right?" She leaned closer to her comm screen, as if someone was going to try and eavesdrop on the flagship captain's private frequencies, "But it's Tishri that's the real question. Why would the President approve her transfer?"
Jim waited for her to answer her hypothetical question.
"It's that she's too good a politician!" Winona crowed. She leaned back in her chair and looked pleased with her deductive skills.
He raised an eyebrow. Or, tried to. Spock was much better at it than Jim was. "She's so good that they're making her leave."
"President Thkahn's party is coming into power, and Tishri's in the opposition's camp. He can't afford to let her hang around and remind the population what they're abandoning."
"So he's making her leave."
"No, she asked to go and he acquiesced." Jim opened his mouth to respond, but Winona cut him off. "It means the same thing, though," she assured him.
"Wait." Jim stared hard at the blank wall above the screen. "If she's running for Council, how can she be on Base XI? Isn't that conflict of interest? She can't do what's best for the Council and the Base at the same time."
Winona shook her head sadly, "Those last polls they ran must've been brutal. She wouldn't have taken the position in she thought she could win."
"So she's using the Base as a fallback position? Damn. She's been in office, what, thirty years?"
"More than that. You were born in '33, she was elected in... '24? I think?"
"Thirty-five years, then."
"Long time, that's for sure." Winona was contemplative. "It's really a shame. She's not really… Well, it's not like she's nice, but –,"
Jim snorted at the unflatteringly accurate characterization. Before being sent off to Tarsus Jim had been forced to accompany his mother on a variety of diplomatic excursions: lots of travel from Iowa to San Francisco. One of the more disastrous events included the senior Andorian councilwoman, a punch bowl, and a remote-controlled plane smuggled into the high-end hotel by one incredibly determined Jim Kirk.
Winona shook herself out of her daze. "Listen, I've gotta go. Your brother's coming over for supper and I need to put the chicken in the oven."
"Tell him I said hi. And don't let him shut the door on his hand again; he always does that."
She snorted. "Will do. G'bye sweetheart."
The connection cut, and Jim was left facing the black screen. Before her husband had died, Winona Kirk had been a political juggernaut. After the destruction of the Kelvin, the family had officially retired to Iowa, with the exception of Mrs. Kirk. She'd spent months out in space, leaving her sons alone with Frank. And when she wasn't in space, she was doing odd jobs for Starfleet that usually involved her, San Francisco, and a really nice dress. After the euphemistically titled 'Corvette Thing', she had retired from Starfleet. It seemed like she'd finally tired of that life.
Jim sighed and ran his fingers through his hair. A Kirk on a mission. Now that was a scary thought.
In Commander Spock's quarters across the hall, the hybrid was demonstrating that Vulcans could, contrary to popular belief, get snippy.
"I fail to recognize the benefits of having the head of the Admiralty stationed on Starbase XI."
Pike sighed. "Honestly? I don't get it either."
"Then introduce a motion to have him ordered back to Terra. It is a simple procedure, do you require instruction on how to proceed?"
If anyone other than Spock had said that, that person would've been reported immediately. "No, I know how to do it just fine." Pike mock-glared at Spock. "I have been in the 'Fleet longer than you have."
"However, you have a human memory."
"Oh, and that counts for an extra few decades of field experience?"
"No. But it does 'count' for an extra few decades of tactical paperwork."
Pike snorted, then sighed. "Barnett will be pissed."
"Commodore Barnett would eventually see reason. He has not shown a predisposition towards holding grudges."
"Yeah, I know."
The Vulcan's tone softened almost imperceptibly. "The hardest part of any endeavor is the decision to undertake it."
The Admiral smiled. "I know. Thank you for the advice."
"Of course, sir. How has Starfleet's recruitment attempts been proceeding? Successfully, I have been assuming."
Pike smirked, "Beyond our wildest dreams. So much so that we're running out of lower-level positions to fill: all of the ones left are those that require passing a grade 3 physical."
Spock recalled the latest employment rosters. "All those except the positions on Starbase XI, correct?"
The human nodded. "They're the only openings left; if it weren't for the recommendations system we'd be swamped with applications." He gave a cold smile. "Nothing like a crisis to boost patriotism."
The commander nodded once. "Indeed. It is a phenomenon common in most species. Who has been charged with recommending the positions?"
The Vulcan looked almost concerned. "The Andorian election cycle is not yet complete. With no one on the Administrative Board to veto her decisions, she has almost total control over the composition of the Board. Can she be trusted to make unbiased recommendations under those circumstances?"
"Yes." Pike had turned stern, "Just because she's Andorian doesn't mean she's that easily corrupted."
Spock bowed his head in deference, "I apologize for any perceived slight against the councilwoman."
Pike sighed. "Former councilwoman."
Black eyebrows flew up, "I did not know the votes had been processed so quickly."
"The polls were pretty clear. It was a 60-40 split against her, at least, there's no way she could've won."
The eyebrows furrowed now, "Has she proven herself to be deficient in some way? The former Councilwoman had enjoyed a great popularity on her home planet."
Pike shook his head, "It's all the Fed's fault. No one from a high position came to her convention except for Thomas Leighton."
An eyebrow rose. "Former governor Leighton? I was not aware that he constituted one of the 'higher ups'."
"Well, he doesn't, technically. But he's been really good to the Vulcan colonists, he got a lot of publicity for that."
Spock looked almost-insulted on the behalf of his now endangered species. "Is it not a Terran principle that charity is its own reward?"
Pike shrugged. "Yes, well. Humans rarely live up to their own standards."
"Few species do."
"True." Pike glanced down at something on his desk to his left. "Oh, shit. The Zedakitian diplomats are having a meeting in five minutes, I've gotta go play mediator."
Spock blinked. "Who are the Zedakitians?"
Pike glanced up distractedly from his desk, "Natives of the planet 41 Beta, in the Lorentian system. They're being reviewed for membership."
"Who is reviewing them? The Admiralty is far too busy for overseeing planetary applications."
The Admiral was now furiously scrolling through a PADD, "We are. That's why Base XI's doing it."
The Vulcan seemed almost-scandalized, "The only Starbase without a full staff in the one chosen for the oversight of a membership application?"
"Hey, it wasn't my idea."
"How can the Federation Council expect an efficient review process with an incomplete oversight staff?"
"Every other Base had former councilpeople at high position in the administration. The Council was afraid they'd be lobbied by their friends to vote one way or another."
"That would be extremely illegal."
"Happens all the time. At least they recognized that and tried to prepare for it. 'S more than what they usually do."
"But the former Councilperson Tishri –,"
"Is going to be recommending the chairs. It's an issue. But at least that's not an official position, and the President recommended her for it, so it's not like they could refuse."
"The President of what?"
"Andoria. President Thkahn."
"Did he specify and particular reason why Tishri should get the position?"
Pike was now stuffing PADDs into a small bag, "Look, I've really got to go, I'm gonna be late."
The Commander bowed his head again. "Of course Admiral, I apologize for delaying you."
"Anytime. Talk to you later."
The Commander sat quietly as the connection cut, digesting all of the pertinent information. A new planet had applied for membership, and, instead of utilizing the perfectly viable explanation that the Federation was undergoing a massive recovery effort, the Council had decided to give application oversight authority to the only Starbase without a full staff.
Sometime, the irrationality of foreign beings could be extremely exasperating.
Spock let out a little half-sigh and stood slowly. It was impossible to improve any situation by remaining in his quarters. He exited and was met with a clearly agitated Captain Kirk. Clearly to Spock, at least.
Kirk, who had been facing the lock pad on his door, whirled to face his first officer. Inexplicably, he brightened.
"Spock! How are you?"
The Vulcan blinked in confusion. What explanation was there for this sudden shift in mood?
The blond appeared concerned, "If you don't want to answer, it's ok."
The captain was the second human Spock had ever met who could differentiate between hesitation and arrogance. It would be unwise to forget this fact again. "I am physically and mentally sound."
The captain smiled slightly, "That's good. What're you doing here? It's not your shift."
"It is not your shift, either."
"True. But I've been known to wander. You always seem to have a destination in mind."
"I was on my way to the botanical labs to oversee the genetic experiments Lieutenant Sulu is to head on the recovered Vulcan cacti." It was not his predetermined destination, but no negative effects could be foreseen from his observation.
"Do you mind if I tag along? I don't have anything better to do." An odd request. The Captain had not shown any previous interest in xenobotany.
"I will not be negatively impacted by your presence."
The two men entered the nearest turbolift. "Deck H," Spock stated.
The captain seemed to sink backwards into the wall of the lift. An illogical observation, all turbolifts were built to code. Meditation was in order.
"Captain." The commander was looking contemplatively at the human, "You are distressed." It was not a question.
The human shifted, "It's Jim," he replied, "and no, not distressed. Just..." He trailed off.
Spock turned to fully face the Captain – Jim – fully. "Is there any assistance I could offer?"
"Nah. I'm good."
The commander cocked his head. He seemed almost-considering. "It is a common Terran practice to speak of negative events to those trusted. I have never tested its validity."
The capt – Jim smiled slightly. "Only to test the validity of the practice, of course."
"Of course. Anything else would be," Spock made sure to complete the ritual pause, "illogical."
The – Jim grinned widely, in accordance to custom. Why this particular phase amused him so was unknown, and clearly irrational, but was a comfortably predictable feature in an otherwise totally sporadic being.
"Well, in the interest of testing the hypothesis," the human started slowly, "my mother called me and told me she was looking for work."
The lift doors opened, and the two men exited. Spock made sure to turn away from the botanical labs: he wanted clarification. "So she's joining the Fleet after almost two decades of being unemployed, and can't see why this could possibly go wrong. She doesn't know any of the new regulations, but is going around asking for high-level diplomatic positions, things like base chairs."
The – Jim's voice was rising in agitation. Spock broke in, "Starbase chairs? Is she looking for a position inside Starbase XI?"
Jim blinked. "Well, yeah. Actually. How'd you know?" They turned the corner and entered an empty rec room. Jim shot Spock a look, "These don't look like the botany labs."
Spock bowed his head, "I took the liberty of directing us to a more quiet section of the ship. The probability of the continuation of our discussion inside of the labs was slim."
The human blinked again. "Oh. Alright then." He furrowed his eyebrows, "What was I saying? Oh, right," he turned back to the Vulcan. "How'd you know about Base XI?"
"I had just completed a discussion with Admiral Pike when I encountered you in the hallway. He informed me that the only positions left inside Starfleet that do not require the successful completion of a grade 3 physical were the Starbase chair positions. If your mother is seeking employment, then she may have no alternative to applying for the chairs."
Blue eyes widened. "The only ones?"
Spock nodded. "The only ones."
"Fuck, I'd hoped she was exaggerating." Jim flopped gracelessly upon a blue couch and sprawled possessively across it. It was oddly reminiscent of his pose in the captain's chair. The commander sat neatly on the opposite couch.
"With the recommendations system, your mother does not have a very good chance of getting a chair."
"Yeah, there is. She knows Tishri personally, they worked on the Europa Convention of Sentient Species on the Craft Possession Agreements."
Spock's eyebrow rose, "The Europa Convention was one of the most successful conventions of contemporary Federation history."
"Mom was a great politician, but she was at home year-round by the time I was eleven."
"Even if your mother knows Tishri personally, her resume will have to be approved by others on the Board of Employee Affairs and by the Admiralty."
The members of the Board of Employee Affairs were unofficially known as Satan'. While Spock did not agree with the label, he could understand the reasoning behind it. The Board dissected all resumes submitted to high-level positons. Spock's application for a professorship in the Academy was analyzed for eight hours. The Board members took shifts. Spock was not allowed to do so.
"The Admirals are too busy to look too close at anyone's resume any more, especially anyone who worked on a Convention, no matter how long ago it was. And there's practically no one on the Board anymore, after the Narada. They all cried off to go serve on ships. Tom Leighton's the only one left on it, and I know that he hates that job. There was that press conference on Q."
That particular interview was infamous. Thomas Leighton was still the governor of Planet Q, and made several derogatory comments about the government of the planet and the larger Federation system. He was not reelected after the tape was aired on public holovision.
Spock was surprised by Jim's casual reference to Leighton, "Do you know former governor Leighton personally?"
"Yep. He did me a favor a while back, I owe him a boon."
The Commander blinked. "I am unfamiliar with that term."
"A boon? Umm..." the human looked to the ceiling, as if the answer to Spock's query were written on the metallic panels, "A boon is a debt, a big one, that you repay with a favor of equal magnitude."
The blond seemed oddly smug after this statement. One black eyebrow rose. Jim caught the expression and grinned. "I've never been able to use that word in a sentence."
"Which word are you speaking of?"
Jim looked back up at the ceiling. "Indeed." His brow furrowed, "What do you know about Tishri?"
"She is a the former senior Andorian member of the Federation Council. She enjoyed –"
"Wait, former? It's done; she's out?"
"Admiral Pike said that polling done before the votes were cast were 40/60 against her."
"A twenty point gap? But she's been great for Andoria!"
"Apparently the absence of all but one high-level Federation representative at her convention negatively impacted her poll numbers."
"Yeah, Mom told me. Wasn't it –?"
"And he's not even in office," Jim muttered. "Who'd the new Councilperson?"
"I do not know."
The captain seemed unsettled, "Will such a result negatively impact you personally?" Spock asked.
"No, not really," Jim sighed. "I just wasn't expecting it, I guess. Tishri's been in office longer than I've been alive."
There was a compatible silence. Spock broke it first.
"Do you have an opinion on Planet 41 Beta and the Zedakitians?"
Jim sent him a befuddled look, "The what?"
"There is a planet under membership review, Planet 41 Beta, that is populated by a group named the Zedakitians."
"Oh, that's their name."
Spock waited for additional information that was not forthcoming. "Did you hear of 41 Beta from your mother?"
"Yeah. I still don't know why they're bothering with the review, though. Its seems like such a waste. I hadn't even heard of it until about a week ago. I don't even know where the thing is!"
"It is located somewhere within the Lorentian system."
"Oh." Jim relaxed again, "That explains it."
Spock looked almost-confused, "How does the planet's location effect its membership status?"
"Well, it doesn't, technically, but the Lorentian system's become the Fed's parking lot, and it's not fully Federation. There are little planets scattered throughout that still belong to the Cardassian Empire. But the Cardassians aren't technically allowed to fly in our space, so those planets are totally cut off from their supply shipments. That pissed off the natives, who wanted food, and they've been taking potshots at passing ships. Usually the Empire stops it pretty quickly, but lately they've been quiet. And with so few Federation ships to begin with..."
"What is the Cardassian Empire's opinion in its members becoming members of the Federation?"
"No one really knows for sure, but it's been happening for years now and they haven't said a thing."
"What do you know of the actual composition of the Starbase XI's head administrative board?"
Jim seemed unphased by the sudden topic change, one of the few humans who did. "Not much. Tom Leighton's the second chair, and Mom's not on the board. Neither's Tishri: she can't recommend herself."
Spock cast about for another topic. "What is your opinion on the Federation Council as a whole?"
Jim easily adjusted to the switch. "Scared. Anxious. They're stressing the Admiralty with the planet thing, so they must be trying to throw their weight around. Why?"
"…I desired to change the subject of our discussion, as it seemed to be drawing to a close."
Blue eyes blinked, "Oh. Ok." Jim was clearly at a loss. His eyes flickered about the predominantly empty room until lighting on a 3-dimensional chess board. "Play you. I'll be black, give you a head start."