Peace and Quiet

The Great Starship Race

“Captain,” Uhura said, “Helen Fogelstein, starbase magistrate, and Mr. Orland from the Race Committee.”

“Visual.”

“On visual, sir.”

The screen changed so smoothly this time, moving between compatible systems instead of struggling with two separate technologies, that for an instant it looked as though John Orland had a Romulan ship growing out of his ear. Then it was just Orland and a very approachable-looking woman in her fifties with short black hair and a single worry line across her brow.

“Captain Kirk,” she said, “welcome to Starbase 16. I wish I could offer you peace and quiet.

“We’ll have peace and quiet, ma’am, if I have to get it at phaserpoint. What’s going on? Why did you let that ship past your border outposts?”

“They came in broadcasting interstellar truce, and since they complied with all weapons deactivation regulations on approach, I had to let them come in.

“No, you didn’t,” Kirk told her casually. “The Federation isn’t a candy store, Ms. Fogelstein. You have an entire starbase and three security outposts at your administration. You might consider reviewing the regulations manual regarding approach of non-treaty contacts. You shouldn’t have to feel intimidated by anybody.”

“But I didn’t have any reason to turn them down. Part of the purpose for being out here is – ”

“Part of the advantage of being out here,” Kirk interrupted, “is the ability to act at your personal impulse regarding friction in non-self-governing regions. You’ve got the power, Ms. Fogelstein, and you should use it.”

The woman blushed, swallowed a couple of times, sighed, and nodded. “I wish I’d told them that.”

Kirk took a step forward and asked, “Mr. Orland, what do they want to talk to you about?”

Orland wasn’t any more at ease than the magistrate. He shifted back and forth so nervously that the screen seemed to be swinging. “They seem to want to join the race, Captain Kirk.”

“Join the race? That was their story? A Romulan heavy cruiser moves across the neutral zone, and that was the best they could do?”

He studied John Orland’s face to see whether or not he bought that story. How offended would the Race Committee be if he laughed in their faces?

“Do you want them in the race?”

“No, not really.”

“Why didn’t you say so?” He let them squirm a few seconds, realizing his bridge crew was squirming too, with empathy. “Why didn’t anyone speak up before the situation reached this point? You people shouldn’t be waiting for a Starfleet presence before you drum up the resolve to act on the power you do possess.” Too often that only leaves Starfleet with a disaster to clean up, he added silently. Clean-up was not the purpose of a starship as far as he was concerned, and he didn’t like doing it.

Exchange in Star Trek: The Great Starship Race by Diane Carey

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