Green As Grass
Captain James T. Kirk sipped the last of his coffee, pushed his chair back from the table in the officer's mess, and smiled. Much to his surprise he was actually having a good time. It was a longstanding Starfleet tradition for the ship's captain to host a dinner for his officers to mark the first anniversary of command, and Captain Kirk found that his officers and friends were not about to let him ignore this particular custom. The charm of Lieutenant Uhura and the formidable persistence of Dr. McCoy had finally persuaded him to bow to tradition.
Kirk had been reluctant because he had not wanted to preside over an evening of introspection. The captain was a man who preferred to look forward, not back. In his most private moments, Kirk often reflected on the mistakes that he had made, the missions that had gone wrong. He did not need to be reminded of the people who had been lost under his command; Kelso, Mitchell, and all the others. They never left him. He carried them in a private place in his heart
To his surprise and delight, the evening had been more a celebration of all the good times they had shared than a recollection of the sad ones. Scotty had entertained them with some slightly scurrilous tales from the engineering department. McCoy had reminisced about a shore leave that had been anything but restful, and even Mr. Spock had contributed to the evening with a story about the Enterprise under Captain Pike. Not a bad custom after all, reflected the captain.
What a long way they had all come in just a year. When he assumed command of the Enterprise, he had been very young and very green. And, the youngest captain of a Starship in Starfleet history did not achieve that position without making enemies. More than a few at Starfleet Command would have enjoyed watching him fall flat on his face. James T. Kirk, new captain of the Enterprise had been all too aware of them watching, and waiting for him to fail.
Frankly, though he would sooner have been eaten by a Denebian slime worm than admit it, he had been scared out of his wits. Scared that the naysayers were right. Scared that he didn't have the experience or the wisdom to command a Starship. Scared that his officers would not respond to his command. Scared that he would make a mistake and send them all to their deaths. And mostly, scared that everyone would guess just how scared he was.
His musings were interrupted as the officers around the table rose to their feet. They all lifted their glasses towards him, even, he noted with some surprise, Mr. Spock. They were silent for a moment as they stood in tribute and then Mr. Scott proposed a toast.
"To Captain Kirk. The moment I laid eyes on you, lad, I knew you would be a fine captain for the finest ship in the fleet. It's been a rare year for us all. May you and the Enterprise continue to keep us safe and guide us home, when our time comes."
The rest of the officers drained their glasses, set them down on the table, and began to applaud. Kirk could feel a blush start and pushed to his feet to head it off. He lifted his glass and looked around the table.
"To the greatest officers and crew in the fleet. With you and the Enterprise supporting me, how could I help but succeed?" The captain paused and took a long look at his chief engineer. With a smile beginning to form, he continued, "Though, Scotty, in fairness, I didn't think you were all that impressed when you first laid eyes on me."
Scott sputtered as he swallowed his drink.
"Now Captain, you know that was just a wee bit of a misunderstanding."
Dr. McCoy, never one to miss out on a good story, jumped in.
"Do tell, Scotty. You know I wasn't on the Enterprise when our fearless leader assumed command. What happened?" Mr. Scott, who was in the process of turning a rather breathtaking shade of scarlet, did not reply. The doctor persisted. "Does anyone know?"
No one answered the doctor.
"Bones," said the captain, his voice dangerously soft, "let it go."
"Oh, come on Jim. What could possibly be so bad that you don't want the rest of us to know? Out with it, Scotty. That's a medical order." The twinkle in McCoy's eyes hinted at mischief and perhaps a drink or two too many. "It would do us all good to hear about your first encounter with the captain. Sounds like a great story."
Mr. Scott looked at his captain, torn between wanting to tell a good tale and not wanting to embarrass himself or his commanding officer. Kirk glared at him for a moment and then relented. After all, he was in the company of his friends and it hadn't turned out too badly in the end. Besides, he knew McCoy would worm the story out of him eventually. He might as well be sure that the doctor heard the real story.
"Go ahead, Mr. Scott. You have my permission. After all, I'm the one who brought it up. I just want to retain the right to correct any, shall we say, historical inaccuracies."
"Thank you, Captain. I'll try to be as accurate as I can be."
Mr. Scott closed his eyes for a moment and remembered....
Scotty was in a terrible mood. He'd been absolutely furious ever since he found out that Starfleet had given his beloved Enterprise to some wet-behind-the ears, barely-out-of-the-Academy pup. Losing a fine commanding officer like Captain Pike was going to be hard enough, but to add insult to injury, this newly commissioned captain was barely thirty years old. What could Starfleet have been thinking of? The Enterprise wasn't just any ship. She was a Starship. As far as Scott was concerned she was the finest ship in the fleet. You didn't give such a Starship to a child. How could this untried captain possibly understand the relationship between a craft like the Enterprise and her engineer? Well, he couldn't. Scott knew that for certain.
What would happen the first time that the new-sprung captain needed something extra from the ship? Would this infant understand the delicate balance required between the command officers and the technical crew? Only an experienced officer could possibly know what that meant. How much to push and when to ease up. This Kirk was as green as grass. He would probably fold the first time there was a crisis. Or, worse still, he'd be afraid to ask for help from his more experienced officers and probably send them all to their doom. Oh, this was a disaster.
Mr. Scott could no sooner leave the Enterprise than he could give up his Scotch, but this was going to be a terrible test for him. Well, he'd give this new captain a wee chance, but Scott'd be damned if he'd let him do anything to harm the Enterprise. He'd try to get the measure of the man at his swearing-in ceremony and then he'd see.
With these thoughts swirling around in his head, Scott stormed into the engineering section and ran headlong into a young, fair-haired man in civilian clothing standing over one of his power consoles.
"Hey you. What're you doing here? Get away from my console. This is a classified area and you've no business being in here. I've a good mind to call security."
The young man started to answer, but Scott was in no mood for explanations.
"In fact," snapped the engineer, "I'm calling security right now. How did a civilian get on this ship? Things are falling apart already. I knew it. A baby captain, not even on board yet..."
"Not a word from you. It'd probably be a lie anyway." Mr. Scott turned away from his bemused visitor to use the comm terminal to call security.
The intruder took a step towards the fuming engineer.
"Sir, I wanted to..." the young man tried to answer.
"That's enough from you, and don't come any closer. There's no good reason for you to be here and I'm calling security to have you arrested. If you keep talking it'll only be the worse for you."
The young man grew quiet. He stood looking at the engineer with a puzzled expression on his face. He took another step towards Mr. Scott.
"This is ridiculous. I'm...."
"You will keep quiet!" shouted Scott "If I have to shut you up, I will."
Again, the intruder moved forward, as if he wanted to put his hand on the engineer. This was too much for Mr. Scott. His beloved engines might be in danger. Scott's already frayed nerves snapped and he landed a ferocious punch on the jaw of the unsuspecting young civilian. The man collapsed like a pile of bricks.
"That'll teach you to speak when I tell you to be quiet, whoever you are."
Mr. Scott, trembling with indignation at the threat to his ship, signaled for assistance.
"Engineering to security. Scott here. I've got a bit of a problem. There's an unauthorized civilian in Engineering and I've had to knock him out. I want you to lock him in the brig until we find out who he is and how he got onto the ship."
Two lieutenants arrived in Engineering on the double. An unauthorized civilian on the Enterprise was a serious breach of security procedures. They each took one arm of the unconscious man and dragging him not too gently, took him to the brig. He was still unconscious when they put him in a cell, so following procedures, they called Dr. Piper to examine their prisoner. When Dr. Piper got a look at the prisoner, he wasn't sure whether to laugh or cry. Locked in the brig was James T. Kirk, new captain of the Enterprise, whom he had met earlier. And, it looked like his young captain was going to have an awful bruise on his jaw when he assumed command.
" Captain, Captain Kirk, wake up." He shook the dazed captain gently.
"What happened? Where am I?"
Kirk focused his eyes and saw Mark Piper, his chief medical officer bending over him, trying to stifle a chuckle.
"Captain, you're in the brig of the Enterprise. Apparently under arrest for unauthorized entry to a secure area, near as I can tell."
"Doctor, was that lunatic in engineering who I think it was?"
Rubbing his jaw, Captain Kirk rose to his feet. Doctor Piper moved closer to examine the bruise that was beginning to swell and turn a most noticeable shade of purple. He was still having a difficult time controlling his laughter. He hoped that his new captain could be made to see the humor in this situation. "That was Montgomery Scott, your chief engineer. Not just a lunatic, but some say, the finest engineer in Starfleet. If you promise not to ever tell him I said this, I think he's in love with this ship. He was just protecting his ladylove from some unknown enemy."
"He threw a punch at his commanding officer."
"Now Captain, technically you're not his commanding officer yet. And, you are in civvies. He probably thought you were a spy. How did you get on the ship without anyone knowing you were here?"
Kirk turned a distinct shade of pink. "Well... I just couldn't wait 'till tomorrow to get started so I beamed aboard with a supply pallet. It never occurred to me that I'd run into an engineer with a lethal right hook." He lowered his head into his hands. "What a way to start my command. In the brig of my own ship, knocked out by my chief engineer. The funny thing is, I'd heard so much about this "miracle worker" that I went to engineering to meet him before my swearing-in. Maybe Starfleet was crazy to give me this command, just like everyone thinks."
Piper heard what Kirk said and listened to what he meant.
"Now Captain, no one thinks Starfleet is crazy. You've earned this command. I suggest you change out of your civilian clothes and go have a little talk with Mr. Scott. Something tells me he'll be just as anxious as you are to forget about this whole thing."
And Piper was exactly right. The doctor swore the security officers to silence and Captain Kirk's premature boarding of the Enterprise remained a well-kept secret. The young captain of the Enterprise and its engineer had a long and serious talk. The captain learned something of the engineer's passion for his ship and the engineer learned something about the quality of his new captain's character. And, they never spoke of this incident again until today.
"You decked Jim, Scotty! I didn't know you had it in you. Glass jaw, Captain?" asked McCoy.
Captain Kirk glared at his chief medical officer, but a smile lurked beneath the surface, as he replied. "Let's just say, Bones, that my first day on the Enterprise was an experience I'll never forget and would just as soon be reminded of." Kirk rubbed his jaw in remembered pain and smiled at the blushing Mr. Scott.
Captain Kirk thought about how much they had all been through since that day. Maybe Starfleet had been crazy to give this ship to him. He certainly had been green as grass. But, what a year they'd had together. The captain looked around the table at his officers and friends and thought of all the times yet to come. He got to his feet again, lifted his glass in silent salute, and drank to the future, to the Enterprise and all who served on her.