TITLE: DOWNTIME

AUTHOR: SANDSOFVULCAN

EMAIL: mail@sandsofvulcan.com

SERIES: T O S

CHAR CODES: Saa, Sp, OCs

RATING: PG-13

SYNOPSIS: Surely not all missions are that exciting, but they all have their merit.

DISCLAIMER: Star Trek and its characters are the property of Paramount/Viacom. I make no money from this.

ARCHIVE: Ask first.



Saavik had learned a lot this shift.


From Lt. Bui at helm and Lt. Taylor at navigation she had learned never to place a bet with Lt. Symons of Engineering because he was “a dirty stinkin’ liar who never coughs up”. After watching crewman Anders’ legs protruding out from under the secondary science console for the majority of the shift, Saavik had learned that Anders obviously needed some additional training; that repair would only have taken her 2.3 hours. She learned the nuances of the knock knock joke from Gertner at Comm, and finally at the end of the shift, she learned from engineering that, no, the replicators were not repaired and continued to add gelatin to everything they produced despite a shift long effort to correct a programming error that was not amusing, and if she discovered it to be a “practical joke”, the perpetrator would be chained up as her personal targ, and scrubbing the decks around her command chair with a toothbrush.


Due to her vegetarian diet, and the stomach churning thought of gelatin-coated anything for breakfast, she had consumed the last of her Kreyla stash. Cook, who wasn’t actually a cook, but was in charge of the food replicators and hence bore the title anyway, was scrambling to feed those on board who could not eat gelatin because of dietary restriction. For lunch, Saavik had been subjected to a horrid concoction called “a peanut butter sandwich”, and had to excuse herself to go and rinse her mouth out in the ready room head.


Saavik swiveled at the sound of the turbo lift doors, and rose too quickly to relinquish her chair to Lt. Commander Bishop, her second officer.


“All quiet, sir?” asked Bishop.


“Extremely,” answered Saavik, letting Bishop know what kind of shift he was in for. “We are 3.2 parsecs out of Starbase 4. They report that all supplies are ready for immediate dispatch to the relief effort on Centauri Six. The USS Mercy will rendezvous with us there. I have a meeting scheduled with the XO at 2330.”


“You have the bridge, Commander”


“Aye, sir.”


Saavik sank back against the wall of the turbolift. She pushed her hunger away, the thought of peanut butter still in her mind. Instead she resolved to concentrate on the meeting with her new Executive Officer.


As the Commander of Saavik’s ship during the night duty shift, or Delta shift as it was referred to, Commander Walsh would be in charge during the transfer of supplies at Starbase 4. In the days, or rather nights, since Walsh had joined the crew of the Thorne absolutely nothing of import had happened. Walsh’ log entries had been the virtually the same night after night; simple maintenance, and an occasional battle drill. Now Saavik would meet with Walsh and hear her plans for how she would proceed with the upload of hundreds of tons of supplies, with only the skeleton crew of Delta shift. Before the lift doors opened Saavik pushed off the wall, straightening her black and gray uniform jacket so that, to those crewmen waiting for the lift, she appeared as fresh as when she had reported for Alpha shift eight hours ago.


At 2330, Walsh reported to Saavik in the ready room. Walsh sat without requesting permission, as her eyes were drawn to her captain’s desk.


“You gonna eat that, sir?”


Saavik eyed the sandwich in front of her and shook her head slowly.


Walsh snatched up the sandwich and bit into it unceremoniously, stopping after the first bite to mutter “Sorry, sir. I’m starved. I usually eat oatmeal in the morning, but this morning...” Walsh’ disgusted look told Saavik more than she wanted to know.


“Yes, the situation is trying even for those whose dietary habits permit gelatin.”


Walsh stopped chewing momentarily. “You know, sir, gelatin is made of something.”


The highly illogical non-sequitur caused Saavik to raise her brow. Walsh tried to explain.


“I mean, the replicators make the gelatin out of something. What if we just convince the replicators that the raw materials to create gelatin are depleted? It’s only a work around, but we could live on whatever else the replicators can make until we can figure this out.”


Saavik sat up in her chair and swiveled her comm screen.


“Computer, assuming the raw materials to replicate gelatin are eliminated from the database, what other foods are the replicators able to produce?” asked Saavik.


Obviously, the programming error was more pernicious than Walsh could anticipate. Swiveling the screen back towards Walsh, Saavik sank back in her seat.


“Peanut Butter,” muttered Walsh.


“And bread,” added Saavik.


Walsh smiled and shrugged in apology. She shifted her sandwich in her hands, and pulled her padd from her uniform pocket.


“Here, sir,” she said, offering the padd to the Captain.


Saavik took the proffered padd, and read it once slowly while Walsh devoured the last of the sandwich. Saavik scanned through the schedule again. Glancing up at Walsh, who appeared thoroughly unconcerned by Saavik’s examination of her work, Saavik grew as concerned with her XO’s ambivalent attitude, as she was with the overly confident schedule on the Commander’s plan.


“You propose to implement the bulk of this plan on Delta shift?”


“All of it, sir,” answered Walsh. “We can handle it, no sweat.”


Somehow Saavik doubted that, but she had learned to allow the officers under her to make their own mistakes. Walsh’ plan was too ambitious, but Saavik knew that Alpha shift could pick up the slack in the morning.


“Dismissed, Commander. Please send in Commander Bishop.”


Bishop’s almost immediate entry told Saavik all she needed to know. Beta Shift had been as uneventful as Alpha had been and Bishop was glad for the chance to stretch his legs.


“Sit please, Commander. Before I retire, I wanted to ask your opinion of crewman Anders.”


As she has in her previous commands, Saavik had put her second, Bishop, in charge of all crew assignments. Bishop appeared thoughtful for a moment.


“Too young; eager to please,” offered Bishop.


“Anders took an inordinate amount of time to fix a relatively simple hardware problem in the secondary science console. I recommend he undergo more training,” suggested Saavik.


Bishop seemed surprised at the suggestion. “He’s fine, sir. He’s just a decom.”


“He served his first duty on a ship scheduled for decommissioning,” restated Saavik pointedly. She had heard the term “decom” used derogatorily and did not approve of it.


“Yes, sir,” Bishop corrected. “It’s not like what people think; some people just need more time. When a non-com is a bit…slow to catch on for whatever reason, they end up filling a slot on the next ship to be decommissioned. It gives them time to get their space legs. By the time the ship is decommissioned, they’re ready.”


“Slow to catch on?”


Bishop was quick to jump to rescue the young man’s reputation before he ruined it. “Don’t get me wrong, sir. He’s well qualified. He won a Cochrane scholarship.”


Saavik nodded, and Bishop seemed relieved to see it. A Cochrane Scholarship spoke highly of the young man. The Cochrane program was designed to lure the best and brightest from the colony worlds and into Starfleet.


“How does that explain the amount of time it took him to affect the repair?” challenged Saavik.


“On a decom ship, time is not of the essence. There’s not much to do, so if you don’t want to be bored, you take your time,” explained Bishop.


“Commander, there is ‘plenty to do’ on this ship. You will see to it that crewman Anders understands.”


Bishop stood to attention. “Yes, sir.”


“Further, until he has proven that he understands, he will not be assigned bridge duty. You are dismissed.”


“Aye, sir.”


Saavik sank back into her chair, and steepled her fingers. She had been tough on Bishop, and she needed to explore the reasoning. Slowly she measured her breathing, relaxing each muscle beginning at her forehead and working down to her feet. At last, relaxed, her mind cleared and she realized that she didn’t really know Bishop at all. He had come to her highly recommended by his former Captain, and Saavik had needed a second. It was logical.


“Could it be,” she thought, “that this is one of the cases Captain Spock was referring to?”


Her thought drew her back to an early training cruise when she served under the man who was now her husband. In her memory, she stood immobile, her gaze fixed on the stars behind the observation port, so intent in her thoughts that she had not noticed his approach.


“Something disturbs thee, Saavik-am?” he asked, his smooth baritone voice controlled so as not to startle her.


She turned her head slightly to glance at him and then turned back to the viewport.


“I do not understand,” she said and immediately regretted all the times she had to admit that to him.


He waited in his patient way as he always did for her to continue after such a statement.


Saavik sought to control the frustration so that it did show in her voice.


“I should have been the one to discover the answer to the reduction in engine efficiency. I followed a logical course of investigation.”


“I have read your progress report. Your investigation was well reasoned.”


She turned to watch him in profile as he moved to her side. “Ensign Bell guessed.”


Spock nodded knowingly. “Humans call it intuition, Saavik-am. I have learned in my long association with them, never to underestimate it. Perhaps one of the most important things I have learned in my life is that logic is not always enough.”


Saavik recalled how she had stared at him. Had she been human, she believed her mouth would have gaped in astonishment. It had been a private admission between them, but one which seemed to contradict all he represented. He was her model of all it meant to be Vulcan. He pursued the path of logic as singularly as none other she knew, but then she had not known him as she did now. She had not known all that the human half of his hybrid makeup offered them both.


At the time she had just accepted that she could never understand his statement, but now as she considered the situation with Bishop, she gained insight. She had chosen Bishop logically, but perhaps that wasn’t enough when it came to commanding a predominantly human crew. Perhaps the completely logical Captain/second relationship wasn’t enough to build an efficient crew.


Saavik considered for a moment her previous command. Her command crew had been female; both her first officer and her XO. Was that the problem? She breathed deeply and relaxed her brow again. She had been very close to them, even inviting them to her home on Vulcan. Would she ever consider the same with Bishop?


Sensing the need to sleep, she put aside her unanswered questions, ended her meditation, and set her mental clock for 0600, two hours before her own shift was to begin.



A starship at ship’s night is a silent place. During the Alpha shift there were as many as two thousand crewmembers going about their business, but at night the ship’s demands are met by a minimum crew. Walking the empty corridors, Saavik thought that even the ship seemed to be sleeping. She knew that she would find a fully manned bridge, functioning just as efficiently as it did during her own shift, but that was not her destination. As she neared the turbolifts at the end of the corridor, Saavik sidestepped, grasping a ladder inset in the wall and heading down the tube to J4 section 5. Coming to a stop before the next deck, she eased herself into the horizontal tube. Soft light shot up the sides of the tube and she crawled on hands and knees.


As a cadet, Saavik had considered the crew rotations on the training cruises to be illogical. The night consisted of eight hours that were hardly used. It was not logical to maintain only two fully manned shifts. Having expressed her doubts to her mentor Spock, she received a more robust response than he had ever sent her before.


Saavik-am, I have long anticipated this question. I asked it myself as a cadet after making my first cruise. As an instructional exercise, I was assigned a research project, the results of which are attached.


Saavik had read the document entitled, The Physiological and Psychological Benefits of Ship’s Night. The conclusion had been most disturbing. Spock had admitted that while it was illogical to waste almost a full shift, the benefits derived, especially with regards to the crew’s efficiency, more than justified the decision. Saavik had been unable to argue with the data presented, and had only been able to explain the conclusion as largely a result of the highly illogical predominantly human crews. The fact that over the years since Spock’s study, Starfleet’s crews had increased in diversity, and repeated studies had not come to a different conclusion had confounded her, but she could not deny the evidence. In all of her commands, she had stayed with protocol and designated a shift as ship’s night.


“Curious,” she thought as she reached her destination, “that I should find myself appreciative of it.” Saavik pulled the ODN panel cover off the junction and examined the repair. Pulling her tricorder from her hip pocket, she scanned for the expected data loss and found none. Looking more closely, she found an unconventional, but highly effective amplification scheme had been employed to boost the gain over the affected junction. Impressed, she replaced the cover, and continued on hands and knees to the next Jefferies tube.


Climbing out, and into the hallway, Saavik straightened her jacket. Her mind was on the quality of the work she had just examined, and Anders, the crewman who had performed it. She entered the nearest lift. It waited in silence for her to state her destination, after a few seconds she said, “Deck 38 Cargo Bay 3.”


The turbolift did not register the hesitation in her command. As she understood it, most starship captains prowled the ship at night at some time or another at least that was what she had been told. She recalled also being told that her Vulcan propensity for meticulousness could easily construed by others, particularly Humans, to be micromanaging. For a moment she considered ordering the turbolift back up to Deck 15 and returning to her quarters to await Walsh’ end-of-shift status report, but before she had finished deliberating how those in Delta shift might interpret her prowling, the lift door opened and heads turned.


She straightened her jacket, stepped out of the lift, and cocking her head slightly, she nodded to a passing crewman, who mouthed, “Sir”, in acknowledgement as he continued on his way, a full anti-grav pallet in tow.


Largely unnoticed except by those on the upper level, she took advantage of the opportunity to observe the activity below. Saavik stepped forward and placed both hands on the railing. She stood on the exit level of deck 38, the largest of the Thorne’s internal cargo bays. This level was little more than a large hallway, one side of which was a railing that opened to the bay below. If she chose, she could continue along this deck, and turn right into the control booth where she could monitor activity from any of the four transporter stations below. Resisting the temptation to check the volume of supplies which had already been transferred, she decided that it would be better for morale for her to venture among the crew, offering positive reinforcement. She left the railing and took a ladder to her left rather than exit through the turbolift and go down another level.


Again heads turned as they noted her presence, but just as quickly bent to the task at hand. Saavik stood a t the base of the ladder and soon observed the very efficient pattern that developed. In assembly line fashion, each crewman had just one task which they repeated over and over again. Far from a beehive of activity, the movements of the entire deck were robotic. One crewman verified the manifest on an enormous crate, then motioned crewmen with him to affix antigrav units along its perimeter. Another crewman supervised the movement of the crate, as the first crewman awaited the next pallet to be beamed aboard. Crates moved in orderly fashion into a queue until they were methodically stacked, and the antigrav units were removed. The crates, full of medical supplies, and even a few fully self-sustained hospital clinics, would be unloaded when the Thorne reached Centauri VI.


In the entire time that she stood there, the pattern did not change. Occasionally, a bell chimed and some of the crewmen switched jobs, presumably to keep the crew from getting bored. Saavik noticed that the crewman at one of the transport console shook his head during several offered chances to switch positions. She was aware that there were only two certified transported technicians on this shift and two platforms were in continuous use. Curious, she wondered where Walsh had acquired another technician.


Walsh had assured Saavik that Delta shift could handle this job without help. If Walsh had imposed on another shift to borrow a technician, it hadn’t been in her report. In fact, Saavik reasoned, it was almost a deception, and an unacceptable one. Impacting the efficiency of another shift without letting the CO know was not something to be taken lightly. Saavik watched the technician a moment longer, then moved forward, resolved to find out who it was.


Aware that she was attracting attention, she stood behind the man at the transporter console, as he efficiently went through the motions of transport. In the brief pause as another crate was offloaded from the platform, Saavik stepped to his side.


“Anders?”


Fully absorbed in his work, Anders safed the controls before turning to address her.


“Yes, sir,” he snapped.


“Your file did not contain a transporter certification.”


“No, sir. I was a three hours shy. I completed them before the shift began. Commander Bishop said Commander Walsh might need me.”


“Have you slept since you served Alpha shift?” questioned Saavik.


“Yes Sir, a few hours anyway.” Before Saavik could protest, Anders continued. “I know I should have slept more sir, but I couldn’t resist this chance. I now have enough transporter operations under my belt for second level certification. This is what I joined Starfleet for, sir.”


“To become a transport engineer?” Anders shook his head slowly, and then motioned for her to wait while he beamed up another crate.


Saavik noted that he carefully safed the system before talking again. “No, sir. This…” Anders motioned to the wider bay. Saavik’s lack of reaction forced him to continue, as the last of the crates was maneuvered off his pad.


“The chance to help people, sir. To make a difference.” The impact of his statement caused her to remain silent. Anders checked over his shoulder to see of that the crate was not yet stabilized before continuing. “I was born on Vega III, sir. I was just a little kid when Starfleet evac’ed the colony. I’ll never forget watching them. I’ve wanted to be in the Fleet ever since. When I won that Cochrane scholarship, I couldn’t believe that I was almost there.”


Saavik rebuffed herself silently. She considered that hours before she had only thought of how uneventful this mission was and her desire for something to eat besides peanut butter. She watched Anders turn away and watch the progress of the shifting cargo crate anxiously.


“Commander Bishop, told me what you said to him, sir. I told him that maybe I wasn’t cut out for it… but he said us decom’s had to stick together, and suggested that I try this.”


“Commander Bishop has more knowledge to impart than he knows,” said Saavik.


“Carry on, crewman.” Saavik backed away as the crewmen on the platform gave the all clear. She watched as Anders competently transfer the last crate.


Around the bay, cheers went up and shoulders were pounded, Anders’ included. Eyes went up over her head, and she turned in that direction to see Commander Walsh standing where she had stood only minutes before.


“End of Shift,” she bellowed. “Be sure to complete all your log entries before meeting me in Ten Forward! Well Done!”


Cheers went up again, echoing around the cavernous bay. Shift changeover began as Alpha shift counterparts met with Delta shift to exchange status reports.


Anders, who had no replacement, filed his log entry and moved past Saavik towards the exit.


Saavik realized that his actual shift had just begun. “Anders,” she called. He turned, his exhaustion showing now that his work was done. “I do not expect to see you until 0800 hours tomorrow. And do not report to my bridge.”


Anders face fell as she continued. “You will report to the Quartermaster, as one of my transporter officers.” Anders eyes met hers. “Well done, crewman.”


An enormous smile broke out on his face. “Yes, sir. Thank you, sir.”


Saavik watched Anders practically fly out of the bay. She walked slowly, taking in all the commotion around her. It was one of those few rare times when she could walk among the crew and no one even seemed to notice her. The turbolift was busy during the changeover, and she was in no hurry.


As she walked, her more sensitive Vulcan ears caught snatches of conversations. Overall, Delta shift was exuberant at their success as they filled in their Alpha shift counterparts. Somewhere to her left she heard a crewman demand, “You heard me. They did it. You owe me fifty credits.” Then a pause and “I’ve heard that one before.”


Saavik edged over to the crewman and asked quietly, “Symons?”


The crewman’s eyes grew wide as he realized who had spoken to him, and that she knew who he had been talking to on the comm.


“Sir?” he asked.


“I have heard he never coughs up,” said Saavik, turning back toward the lift and leaving the incredulous crewman staring in her wake.



“You’re late,” said Walsh as Saavik entered the bridge.


“Yes. And you have a party to attend to in Ten Forward. Dismissed,” answered Captain Saavik.


Walsh eyebrows shot up. “How did you… I didn’t see you there.”


“I have been told that there is a certain talent in that. I’ll teach you sometime, Commander. Give Delta shift my commendations. The cargo transfer went through flawlessly.”


Walsh smiled. “That’s not all, sir. Bishop’s shift was busy too.”


“Indeed?”


“There’s fresh Kreyla in your ready room, sir. And some damn good coffee.”


“Who solved the replicator problem?” Saavik asked.


“Bishop, himself, sir.” Saavik nodded thoughtfully. This shift would be much busier than the last. She would have to deal with the Mercy and assure that whatever other assistance the Thorne could offer was scheduled for their arrival at Centauri VI. It was well into the shift before she retreated to her ready room. Her yeoman had placed the Kreyla and coffee in a small stasis tray and as promised they were still fresh”.


Saavik turned and looked out her window as she slowly sipped the coffee. As the swirling lights of the stars sped by, she could not help but reflect on how much she had learned.