In The Line Of Duty

by Cheryl Petterson

some material based on earlier drafts with S Sizemore

(Standard Year 2247)

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Jim Kirk’s first thought was, Isn’t the Inspector General’s office supposed to take care of this sort of thing? His second was, How could something like this have happened? and he was embarrassed that it hadn’t been his first. From the viewscreen, Admiral Komack addressed them both before he had time to ask either.

“The Inspector General can’t act until we have some sort of proof, and as yet, we have no evidence directly implicating Admiral Gordon. Whoever’s responsible has been very careful in hiding his activities. In fact, if Brezhnova’s assistant hadn’t been combing records so thoroughly, we might never have caught the pattern.”

Jim was about to ask why Admiral Brezhnova’s assistant had been combing through grant records, but Komack went on speaking.

“So we’ve got to be just as careful and just as thorough. If it is Gordon, we don’t want to alarm him, but we don’t want to end up making false accusations either.”

Jim cleared his throat. “Sir, I don’t yet understand how I’m involved in all this, or what we could do to help.”

“You’re the youngest man ever to merit a captaincy,” Komack stated, “and the youngest ever given command of a heavy cruiser, the youngest to pull a five year run. Your reputation is one of ambition and capability, and that implies a certain ruthlessness.”

For a moment, Jim reflected wistfully on how nice it would be to be Ruth-less, and his mind snapped back at Komack’s continued words.

“You seem exactly the kind of man Gordon would suspect of being interested in his type of operation. He has to have a partner finding these worlds for him, though I’ll be damned if we can find one. Therefore, the Enterprise is being sent to Space Station Delta, near the Klingon border. This is Admiral Gordon’s base of operations. How you go about gaining evidence – or clearing Gordon’s name – is up to your discretion. Your cover mission is a routine patrol of the trading in the area. I’ll let it be known that we’ve received some complaints about unfair practices.”

“Have we?” Jim wanted to know.

Komack waved the question away. “Only if you consider the fact that Delta Station is frequented by Havens.” The Admiral paused. “You realize the importance of this, Captain?”

Jim swallowed distastefully. “Yes, sir.”

“One other thing. Starfleet Command cannot be held accountable for this mission. If you fail, you’ll be liable for any charges Admiral Gordon might care to bring. Is that clear?”

That’s just dandy, Jim thought sourly, but he nodded. “Yes, sir, Admiral. Quite clear.” I risk my career so if I fail, Headquarters can launch another investigation without showing its hand. Necessary, but…

On the viewscreen, the Admiral nodded in return. “Komack out.”


“Admiral Gordon is in an ideal position for such activities,” Spock agreed thoughtfully. He sat in front of the desk in Kirk’s office. Jim was seated behind it, and had just briefed him on Komack’s assignment. “Delta Station is a hub for independent traders servicing Klingon, Haven and Federation outposts. As the person in charge of granting charters for the development of newly discovered resource worlds, he would have both means and opportunity for the sale of those charters to the highest bidder.”

“Instead of granting them with a mind to the good of the Federation and any native population,” Jim added bitterly. “He’s lining his pockets with profits that should go to the people of the Federation. Isn’t a Fleet pension good enough for him?”

“You condemn him with no proof, Captain,” Spock reminded. “Means and opportunity do not constitute automatic guilt.”

Jim sighed. “I know, Spock. What I don't know is how to go about getting evidence – one way or the other.” He got up from his chair and started pacing.

“Consider the Admiral’s words, Captain,” Spock said as he steepled his fingers on the desk Kirk was moving from. “Your reputation, Gordon’s need for a partner in his enterprise. To approach him, casually, of course, and drop careful hints might give you your answer. If he reacts completely puzzled, you can begin to look elsewhere for your perpetrator. If he is sly in return…”

“I’ve got my man,” Kirk finished. “Then all I have to do is find a way to prove it.” He stopped pacing, thinking for a moment. “Spock, get me every scrap of information the computer can find on Ivan Gordon.”

“Already in process, Captain.”

Jim nodded respectfully at the efficiency of his First Officer, and smiled when Spock returned it.


Ivan Gordon had never been a ship’s captain. Not that he wasn’t qualified, he’d simply never wanted it. Power, the lasting kind, lay elsewhere. A starship captain commanded much respect – while on active duty – and a generous pension. He was sought by the Academy and Federation Universities for lectures and teaching positions after leaving ship duty. He was respected for his experience and his knowledge. But that wasn’t power. The power lasted only as long as the command. It was the desk jockeys who held it all, as Jim had found out in dealing with bureaucrats. So it was to the desks that Gordon went. And rose. He was Secretary of Resources for the whole sector governed by Starbase Sixteen, a position with the potential for almost unlimited influence in that sphere.

Jim reflected for one moment how easy it would have been for him to have taken the same course. Except for his romantic streak, his admitted vanity, he, too, would have passed up a command. Now, he couldn’t go back, and wouldn’t even if he could. He’d be lost without a ship. And bureaucracy frustrated him. He was a man of action.

And how does a man of action play a waiting game?

I hate this.

Jim sighed, again reading through the dossier Spock had provided.

It’s going to have to be a courtship, Jim realized with a fair amount of helpless anger. I’m going to have to seduce Ivan Gordon. After having read the personal data on the Admiral, Jim was more than uncomfortable with his own analogy. Ivan Gordon had quite a reputation for sexual conquest. He was a connoisseur of beauty, and he didn’t seem to have a preference for any one gender or species. It wasn’t a weakness – not exactly – but it was possible it could be used as a handle or leverage. And Jim needed any leverage he could find. Gordon had a perfect command record and no vices that anyone was aware of - unless one counted sexual conquest as a vice. And despite Komack’s insistence that there had to be one, there was no evidence that Gordon had ever used an accomplice in Fleet. How to convince a man who was as much a loner as Gordon that he needed one?

Greed. That has to be the flaw, Jim thought. If I can convince him, without seeming to, that immense profit lay in using the Enterprise… and, of course, that I’m every bit as greedy and unscrupulous as he is – if he is... If I can, as Spock suggested, drop some hints, maybe arrange for some rumor to be spread about my ambition…

Still, he hated it.


Lieutenant Lo was a quiet, studious man, good with numbers and details, with an amazing memory for names, faces, and figures. He minded his own business, but was painstakingly thorough in that business. It was what made him invaluable to Admiral Gordon. He was able to note with pinpoint accuracy everything the Admiral needed to know, but did not judge or examine any of that information, except as necessary to keep track of it. His psychological profile had always shown a borderline tendency towards sociopathy, but he was easily able to defeat any further testing through memorization and attention to subtle yet obvious clues in the behavior of those examining him. His greatest counter was the simple and candid acknowledgement of his potential ‘problem.’ He told the doctors that he was aware of the tendency, and kept as close an eye on it as he did on everything else that was required of him. Since he neither denied nor protested the condition, he was able to be completely convincing when he said it was under control. And, truth be told, it was.

Thus it was that he was surprised when the well-known Captain James T. Kirk strolled into the Admiral’s office on Delta Station. There had never been a whiff of scandal attached to Kirk, though his psychological profile had led Lieutenant Lo to keep tabs on him. He immediately stood from behind his deck in the small outer office, carefully but casually closing the file he had been working on. It was a gesture made natural through long years of repetition. “Yes, sir,” he said, responding only to the uniform and the captain’s stripes. There was no reason to give information away unnecessarily. “How can I help you?”

Kirk was a very attractive man, a fact Lo noted without response. He smiled easily and often – and there was an edge to his voice and a glint in his eyes that Lo was more than familiar with. Kirk offered his hand, always a manipulative tactic to put another at ease. Knowing this, of course, made Lo immune to it, but he shook it anyway.

“I’m James Kirk,” the Captain said, “Captain of the U.S.S. Enterprise. And you are…?”

“Lieutenant Wong Lo, attaché to Admiral Gordon.”

“Ah, good, then I am in the right place.” Again came the easy smile. “I’m only on Delta Station for four days, and I’d like to know if the Admiral would have any time to meet with me.”

“It’s an honor and a privilege, Captain Kirk,” Lo replied with just the right touch of deferential awe. “Of course, I’ve heard of you. I’m certain the Admiral has as well.” He retook his seat as he gestured to one of the chairs before the desk. “Please, sit down, Captain. I’ll check the Admiral’s schedule.”

That, of course was an unnecessary ruse. Lo knew the Admiral’s schedule down to the last minute. Still, it gave him time to study Kirk as he consulted his screen. “And the Enterprise is here to…?” he asked, making the required small-talk.

“Follow up on a few complaints some overly-nervous Federation traders have about Havens getting the best deals,” Kirk returned, “which is a tad ridiculous, since that’s what Havens are known for.” He shrugged, then added after a slight pause, “Which I’m sure you already knew, Lieutenant.”

Lo didn’t look up. “Well yes, sir, now that you mention it.”

“And I didn’t need to introduce myself, either.”

“No, sir, you didn’t.”

Kirk settled back in the chair. “Good. I wouldn’t want to have misjudged you.”

This time Lo did look up, returning Kirk’s smile, knowing already that he would find time in the Admiral’s schedule for him to meet with the Captain of the Enterprise.


It wasn’t fair to judge a man on sight. Nevertheless, there was something about Ivan Gordon that Jim thoroughly disliked. He tried to tell himself that it was only his suspicions regarding Gordon’s possible involvement in criminal fraud – or was the aura of power and confidence that surrounded the man really as cold and greedy as it seemed? Jim had always had good intuition, had always trusted it, but it was his job to be as objective as possible. If he was to garner any legal proof, he couldn’t go into this situation prejudging the man.

Gordon’s attaché had been more than helpful in arranging the meeting. Jim was nervous about both that fact and the meeting itself, no longer certain Gordon was their man – or at least more than certain that Gordon was not their only man. Lo was in on it. He was also uncertain if he could pull off the act required of him, and that added to his nervousness. But if he were to fulfill Komack’s assignment, he had to try.

Gordon rose from his chair in the outdoor café as Jim approached him. They exchanged a firm handshake, and Jim couldn’t help but be reminded of the origin of the convention; proof that neither man carried a weapon. Gordon’s smile did not reach his chilly blue eyes as he said, “Kirk without his Vulcan shadow? This is a surprise.”

Jim returned a carefully calculated grin. “I try to keep Mr. Spock busy,” he told the Admiral, “especially when our assignment is for something any starship captain would consider beneath him.”

Gordon raised an interested eyebrow. He was a tall man, even sitting, and strongly built; sixtyish with graying hair that was once as sandy as Jim’s own. “Really, Captain? What Federation concern is beneath a Starfleet officer?”

Jim snorted. “Traders’ complaints,” he said. “Havens are better at getting profitable markets, so they must be doing something illegal or immoral – or at the least unfair.” He shrugged, lifting his drink with an air of resigned disdain. “I think a Vulcan can adequately sort all that out.”

Gordon grunted, a grudging sound Jim knew was meant to be taken as agreement – whether the Admiral actually agreed or not. Something in the attitude made Jim shiver, though he couldn’t put his finger on what. “At any rate,” he went on in a tone only slightly more casual than sincere, “the assignment’s not a total loss. It’s an honor to meet you, sir. Your reputation precedes you.”

“Yours also precedes you,” Gordon returned. His voice matched his frame, deep and strong. He gestured for Jim to sit as he retook his seat. “Now what can I do for you, Captain?”

“Do?” Jim asked with a smile. “Nothing, Admiral. I’ve been wanting to meet you for some time. A starship captain’s schedule being what it is, this is the first opportunity I’ve had to look you up.” He paused, then added with a half-smile meant to be calculated and self-deprecating, “Without my Vulcan shadow.”

“Why is that?” Gordon asked, his light tone masking a sudden suspicion.

“Vulcans have a tendency to be almost annoyingly - ” Jim paused again. “ – scrupulous, wouldn’t you agree, Admiral? At times, too scrupulous.” If that wasn’t a hint, Jim thought, I don’t know what one is.

Gordon was silent for a moment, speculatively, Jim guessed. Then he settled back in his chair, his steel-blue eyes fixed on Jim’s. “Then I reiterate my first question, Captain. What can I do for you?”

Jim grinned. “I consider just talking with you an advantage, sir.” He sat forward, his voice lowering. “A distinct advantage for a starship commander on an exploratory mission of five years’ duration, and no real tally kept or quota expected on new discoveries.”

Gordon smiled, a wintry show of teeth. “Really? Why should that be of interest to me?”

“Ah, well,” Jim shrugged, sitting back. “You know your own situation best, sir. Of course,” he went on blithely, “having a Vulcan for a First Officer has both advantages and disadvantages, the latter being obvious. The former - ” Jim paused a third time. “Let’s just say it presents a face as scrupulous as that First Officer to those concerned about such things.”

The communicator at Gordon’s hip signaled, and he lifted it from his belt, glanced at it, then straightened. “If you’ll excuse me, Captain, I have some pressing business. But I would like to continue our talk.” Again came the show of teeth. “That is, if you’d like more of the advantage of speaking with me.” He stood. “Would you care to dine with me this evening? Say twenty hundred, at the Officer’s Lounge?”

Jim rose, again offering his hand. “A pleasure, Admiral. Twenty hundred it is.”


Lieutenant Sulu walked briskly into the outer office of Admiral Gordon’s headquarters. The Enterprise was investigating allegations of unfair trading practices in the region, and as part of his Command training, he’d been assigned to collect the reports, not only from Starfleet’s post, but from the civilian agencies on Delta Station. It was meant to be an exercise in diplomacy, efficiency, and persuasion; all necessary skills for a Starfleet commander. Sulu was pleased with the confidence Captain Kirk was showing in him, and was determined to excel in all three areas.

“Lieutenant Lo?” he greeted the Admiral’s aide as he stepped up to the desk. “I’m Lieutenant Sulu from the Enterprise. Starfleet has authorized me to obtain copies of the trading records for the past quarter. We’re investigating some allegations made regarding certain practices.”

Lo glanced up slowly, though Sulu was certain his body language belied a sudden unease. Despite the name, Sulu was equally certain Lo wasn’t Asian – or at least, not solely Asian. The skin was a little too dark, the eyes didn’t have quite the epicanthic fold that denoted Terran Asian heritage. I’ll bet one of his parents is Ter-African, he mused, then had the illogical thought that this might be what a child of his and Jeremy’s would look like.

“Lieutenant – Sulu, is it?” Lo said, and Sulu nodded. “May I see your authorization, please?”

Sulu handed over the data chip, carefully observing Lo’s manner and behavior. The man was certainly efficient, and knew his way around Starfleet security protocols. In a very few minutes, the data chip had been subjected to nearly every security procedure Sulu knew of. Lo grunted, apparently satisfied that the authorization was genuine, though clearly not very happy about it, and Sulu suddenly knew what was bothering the aide.

“There’s no suspicion of wrongdoing on the part of this office,” Sulu assured him. “Some traders have made complaints against the Havens. We’re going to cross-check both the complainants’ and the Havens’ records against yours.” He smiled. “Forgive me. I should have made that clear at the outset.”

Lo relaxed, returning the chip and the smile. “Forgive me, Lieutenant,” he replied. “Since no one’s brought any complaints to me…”

“Naturally, it came as a bit of a shock,” Sulu finished. He shook his head companionably. “The biggest problem with bureaucracies,” he said, lowering his voice confidentially, “is their tendency to compartmentalize to the point of absurdity.”

Lo chuckled. “Agreed,” he said. “But then, where would my job be without it?”

Sulu laughed and straightened. “And where would mine be if there were straightforward good guys and bad guys? We have to sort out these complaints and determine if there’s any merit to them.”

Lo shook his head. “I don’t envy you, Lieutenant.” He spoke to the computer, requesting the relevant records be transferred to a data disc. “This will take a few minutes,” he rejoined, turning back to Sulu. “Can I offer you some coffee?”

“Bless you,” Sulu said with heartfelt acceptance. He noted but diplomatically didn’t comment on the lingering, obviously interested once-over the aide gave him. He wasn’t on leave, and even if he had been, there was something about the older lieutenant that wasn’t at all conducive to any kind of more personal interest.


“Someone’s accusing the Havens of unfair trading practices?” Ruth Valley said incredulously. “Havens!?

“Yeah,” Sulu agreed. “Somebody’s a twitch.”

The two lieutenants sat in the mess, having dinner. Ruth, the Assistant Science Officer, had been given the assignment of correlating all the trading records from Delta Station which Sulu had just collected.

“It would be nice if we could just go and hit some of these kvetchers over the head with something,” Ruth commented

Sulu grinned. “Or explain to them just how we know Havens don’t engage in unfair practices. Literal, maybe, and if their vict- uh – clients don’t read fine print, it’s hardly their fault…”

Ruth giggled. “And they certainly can’t be blamed for being a little testy if some poor schlub thinks that protesting after the fact isn’t welshing…”

“…But that’s hardly unfair,” Sulu finished.

“Especially considering every Haven I’ve ever known is careful to spell all that out prior to making any done deals anyway.”

“And you’d think traders would understand that much without having to be told.”

“We must always remember, Roy,” Ruth stated smugly “we starship officers are the top one percent of Starfleet graduates, who are the top ten percent of Starfleet applicants…”

“Who are the top ten percent of the general populace,” Sulu completed the statistic.

“So we’re hot shit.”

The helmsman shrugged. “Maybe. But if the general populace is as dumb as these traders, the Federation is in a lot of trouble.”


The Officer’s Lounge of Delta Station was unlike any Jim had ever seen. He had expected, this close to Klingon territory, that it would be less luxurious than a standard Starbase’s lounge. This place was appointed like some Napoleonic palace. The dining tables and chairs were ornate, white and gilded, and the walls were decorated with huge tapestries that, while of an obviously ancient style, depicted modern imagery. The bar was long, curving and made of marble, and a small army of identically clothed servitors waited by a set of double doors. A rather more elaborately appointed man stepped up to Jim as he entered the lounge.

“May I help you, Captain?” the man asked.

“I’m meeting Admiral Gordon,” Jim replied, trying not to stare at the opulent surroundings.

“Very good, Captain. If you will follow me?”

Jim was led to a table set in a small alcove next to one of the tall station windows. The view was a particularly magnificent one of the planet around which Delta Station orbited; a lovely if unusual purple and green terrestrial globe. He ordered a glass of good sipping bourbon and had just received it when Gordon arrived. He watched with interest the Admiral’s easy superiority and the careful fawning of the maitre’d. It was neither too familiar nor too obsequious and Gordon seemed to regard it as either his due or the servitor’s usual deportment.

“Ah, Captain, you’re early,” the Admiral said as he took his seat. Jim smiled coolly. He wasn’t; the Admiral was almost fifteen minutes late. Jim had planned to arrive a few minutes past twenty hundred so as not to appear too eager. I should’ve known, he said to himself. A man in Gordon’s position would consider it gauche to arrive to a meeting on time.

“The usual, sir?” the maitre’d asked, and Gordon nodded, then waved the man away. He took his seat, then leaned in close.

“I appreciate the enthusiasm, Jim, but let me give you a word of advice. Never appear too eager.”

Jim hid his grimace behind his drink and nodded. “I’ll keep that in mind, Admiral. My thanks.”

Gordon waved that away too. “I had my aide do some checking on you,” he said, settling back in his chair. “I hope you don’t mind.”

Jim gestured expansively. “My life is an open book, Admiral,” he returned.

Gordon smiled his wintry smile. “Yes, so I found. But I must confess, in my experience, an open book often disguises just how many pages there are.”

With a chuckle, Jim took another sip of his bourbon. If Gordon was waiting for some other response, he was disappointed. The waiter brought the Admiral his ‘usual’ – a very tall, slender glass that, from the aroma, contained a number of different alcohols. The server walked away without asking for their dinner orders, and Jim carefully didn’t sigh. This was far later than his usual dinner hour and he was hungry. His attention returned to the Admiral as the older man spoke again.

“Long Island Ice Tea,” he said, indicating the drink, then shrugged. “I have a weakness for varied tastes.”

“Give me good Kentucky bourbon any day,” Jim replied companionably, raising his own glass, then added, “To prosperity, Admiral.”

“And to the future,” Gordon replied. The glasses clinked together.


It was nearly 0200 when Jim returned to the Enterprise. He was tired, and a little drunk. He hadn’t tried to keep up with Gordon, but the Admiral was obviously used to cocktails before dinner, wine with it, and brandy afterwards every night, and a starship captain seldom had that kind of time. He only hoped the Admiral understood that, and didn’t take Jim’s relative temperance as a lack of stamina, or worse, of timidity. All he wanted was a quick, sobering shower and bed, but he knew that, despite the lateness of the hour, Spock would be waiting for him.

He stepped into his office and requested the First Officer’s presence, then sat down, loosening the collar of his dress tunic. He considered calling McCoy for a detox shot, but didn’t want to have to take the time to explain why he needed it. And he had to think of a way to present his insights – and the beginnings of what would undoubtedly be considered an unsavory suggestion – to the Vulcan.

He sat at his desk and closed his eyes, then abruptly opened them. Sleep was just too tempting. He scrubbed his hands over his face, then sat up straighter as Spock entered the office. Jim gestured to a chair and the Vulcan obediently sat.

“I trust your meeting with the Admiral was a productive one,” Spock began.

Jim scowled. “Yes and no,” he replied, then went on at Spock’s rising eyebrow. “I didn’t get anything close to proof of any criminal activity, but I think I know how to continue this little dance we’re doing.”

“Indeed, Captain?”

‘I mean, I think I have a good psychological handle on him,” Jim clarified.

“I understood the idiom, sir.”

Jim grimaced. “Of course you did. Forgive me, Spock, Admiral Gordon likes his alcohol.”

Spock nodded.

“Not that that’s any indication of wrongdoing,” Jim added. “I know both Bones and Scotty have been known to…”

“Yes, Captain,” Spock broke in patiently. “But returning to the Admiral and your insights?”

“Yes.” Jim had to clear his throat. “Again, pardon me, I had more to drink than I’m used to.”

“I noted the condition, sir.” Jim started to speak again, and Spock held up a hand. “No need, Jim. I understand the necessities of this kind of ruse.”

Jim flushed, suddenly aware of how much his First Officer’s regard meant to him. And how bad a beating it’s going to take once I suggest what I’m about to suggest, he thought ruefully.

“Yes,” he said carefully. “Thank you for that, Mr. Spock.” He took a moment to collect himself, then cleared his throat again, squaring his shoulders. “Gordon’s definitely interested,” he stated. “He asked too many questions about our patrol routes and schedules to be taken as polite small-talk, though there was nothing even remotely incriminating about them. And I dropped more than enough hints about my availability and willingness to make minor alterations in those routes ‘when necessary’ – which I’m sure he picked up on.” Jim sighed. “The problem is he didn’t come out and say anything that couldn’t be taken as boast and bluster from a somewhat smarmy superior.”

“Unfortunate,” Spock commented.

“However…” Jim went on, then paused again. “I sent Lieutenant Sulu to collect trading reports to keep up our cover,” he said. “Gordon mentioned that his aide was ‘most impressed’ with my ‘handsome young officer.’” He paused a third time. “I think there might be a way in there.”

“Indeed?” The First Officer’s eyebrows were lowering and Jim flushed again. If they’d been rising, it would have meant the Vulcan was curious, but lowering… He knows what I’m going to say, Jim scowled to himself, and he doesn’t like it.

“Lieutenant Sulu is bisexual, Spock,” Jim intoned seriously. “And who would know more about any irregularities in Gordon’s operation than his aide?”

“Captain, I doubt Admiral Gordon would confide in…”

“I’m not so sure about that,” Jim broke in. “I think Lieutenant Lo knows all about the Admiral’s business. I’m certain he has information that might lead us to evidence, or Gordon’s accomplice.”

Spock pursed his lips. “Still, Captain, such a – relationship – is one that takes time to build.”

“Not where Mr. Sulu is concerned,” Jim returned. One of the Vulcan’s eyebrows quirked in disapproving acknowledgement of that fact. “And with me keeping at Gordon, and Sulu going after Lieutenant Lo, maybe we’ll find something we can actually use.”

“It does seem logical,” Spock conceded after a few moment of critical consideration. “Mr. Sulu will have to be appraised of our actual mission.”

“Yes. I’ll take care of that in the morning.” Jim sighed, rubbing his hand over the back of his neck. “Is there anything else, Mr. Spock?”

“No, sir. Good night, sir.”

“Good night, Spock.”

Jim closed his eyes, leaning back in his chair. He woke with a start several minutes later, then pushed himself up and headed for his cabin and bed. The sobering shower could obviously wait until morning.


“You want me to what, sir?” Sulu said, blinking incredulously.

Jim grimaced. He’d hoped it would be easier than this. Not that he thought Sulu literally didn’t understand his statement. And his hangover was making him a little brusque. Still…

“I want you to use your not inconsiderable personal charm to get close to Lieutenant Lo,” he repeated. “Admiral Gordon is under suspicion of unethical and possibly illegal sale of development charters in this sector. My orders are to find proof of his guilt.” Or innocence, he added privately but had decided not to point that out. Sulu would be more easily convinced with a less ambiguous approach. “I’m approaching the Admiral directly, but we want another in. Gordon mentioned to me that his aide had mentioned you.” He paused. “Favorably, Lieutenant. I want you to exploit that favorable impression.” Jim deliberately met the younger man’s gaze. “By any means necessary.”

Sulu frowned at him, clearly understanding. “I’m not usually that callous, Captain,” he said.

“I’m aware of that, Sulu. But I’ve only got three days to get this done, and the Admiral is being more than a little cautious.” Jim leaned forward over his desk. “If I had more time, or any other way to get into his inner circle more quickly…”

It was Sulu’s turn to grimace. “I’m not comfortable with this, sir,” the helmsman began, “but I can understand the importance.” He glanced down at his hands, folded in his lap. “I did notice the Lieutenant’s – interest.”

“Good. Then you know what to do.”

“Yes, sir. In the line of duty, sir.”

Jim nodded, recognizing that Sulu's use of that particular phrase meant the young man was aware of his option to decline the assignment. It assuaged his slightly guilty conscience. “It’s imperative that no one else knows your true mission,” he said. “If we can’t get the evidence Starfleet needs, they have to have a clear shot at trying again.”

“Understood, sir.”

“Fleet won’t forget this, Lieutenant,” Jim said. “And you have my personal thanks as well.” He grinned crookedly. “Dismissed.”

As the young man left his office, Jim sighed with heartfelt relief. He had another appointment with Gordon, but at least he could feel a little more confidence that something would get accomplished.


Spock had waited in the corridor outside Kirk’s office as the Captain gave Lieutenant Sulu his new assignment. The Vulcan was troubled by it. He knew Sulu was a dedicated officer despite his casual-for-Fleet lifestyle, and was concerned that Kirk was taking advantage of both. Spock was well aware that this was precisely the reason Jim presented a believable and attractive potential partner for Gordon; he could and would use whatever means were necessary to complete a mission, even to the point of manipulating his officers’ loyalty. Spock also knew, however, that there were checks on that kind of ambition. As the First Officer, whose primary concern was for the welfare of the crew, he had to make certain Sulu was aware of those checks.

He intercepted Sulu as the helmsman headed for the transporter room. “Mr. Sulu.”

The lieutenant turned to him, the usually readable face shuttered. “Yes, Commander?”

“I have a briefing disk with the relevant information regarding Admiral Gordon’s situation and the specifics of Admiral Komack’s suspicions,” Spock said, handing over the data tape.

“Captain Kirk pretty much outlined his expectations, sir,” Sulu responded.

“Yes,” Spock said, and allowed his distaste to register in the lowered tone of his voice. “Admiral Komack seems to feel this is important enough for somewhat – unorthodox – methods of investigation.”

The helmsman grimaced. “So I gathered.”

“Despite the fact that this situation has apparently been ongoing for some time.”

Sulu glanced at the disk. “Uh – exactly how long?”

“If the evidence is to be accepted at face value, several years.”

The lieutenant’s eyes widened. “Then why the rush now, sir?”

“It is Komack’s opinion that, given the Captain’s reputation and alleged proclivities, James Kirk stands the best chance of infiltrating whatever conspiracy is responsible for the illegalities,” Spock replied.

“And the Captain’s that I stand the best chance of providing a Plan B,” Sulu mused.

“Yes,” Spock said again, and added privately, given your reputation and alleged proclivities.

“So Admiral Komack wants the Captain to use that potential…”

“And since he is not being asked to actually perform any illegal or unethical actions, other than allowing Admiral Gordon to believe something which is not strictly accurate regarding his personality, the Captain has no objections,” Spock stated, with careful emphasis on the words ‘the Captain.’

Sulu took his meaning. “And I am being so asked,” the helmsman said grimly.

“Potentially,” Spock said, then waited.

“I’m aware of regulations, Commander,” Sulu finally rejoined. "If in the line of duty an officer is assigned a task that s/he finds repellent due to strongly held personal or cultural beliefs, s/he may petition for re-assignment," he quoted. After another moment’s pause, the lieutenant looked up into the Vulcan’s eyes. “Thank you, Mr. Spock, but I think I can handle it. Admiral Komack must have a reason for his sense of urgency, even if I’m not privy to it. And given that – well, sir, it is a fairly solid way to proceed.” He smiled briefly. “I do appreciate the support, Commander.”

Spock held the gaze for only a fraction of a second longer. “So noted, Lieutenant,” he acknowledged. But as the young man turned to continue down the corridor, the First Officer was still worried.


Sulu reviewed the data disk Spock had given him before beaming back to Delta Station, and stopped in the Officer’s Lounge for a quick drink on his way to Admiral Komack’s office. He’d told Captain Kirk a little white lie. He wasn’t simply uncomfortable with this assignment; it downright spooked him. He’d tried to put a proper Starfleet Security face on it, but he still felt like a whore about to roll a client.

He shuddered and deliberately pushed that metaphor away. Just because you’re going to seduce this guy for information doesn’t make you a whore, he rationalized. After all, you won’t be asking for credits.

And it’s not like Lo is that bad-looking, Sulu continued to himself, then wondered if his initial reaction to the man hadn’t been his Security training picking up on some subtle signals of wrong-doing. With how familiar he was with security protocols, you can bet he knows something.

With a sigh, he downed his drink, then turned to leave the Officer’s Lounge, only to see a tall, graying Admiral approaching him. Gordon, he thought, and straightened.

“Admiral,” he said with the proper, military deference.

“I’m betting you’re Lieutenant Sulu,” the Admiral said, then added, “my attaché described you to a T.”

Sulu allowed his eyebrows to rise in surprise. Time to start the charade. “Lo – I mean, Lieutenant Lo, sir?”

Gordon chuckled. “I’m betting you could describe him as – clearly,” he returned.

Sulu let a brief smile twitch at his lips. “Probably, Admiral.”

“How nice for you both.” He leaned down, his own smile just a little cold. “He has some free time right now, Lieutenant.”

“Does he?” Sulu acted surprised, although Spock’s briefing disk had given him that information. The Admiral’s hand came to Sulu’s shoulder.

“Just have him back in my office in two hours,” he murmured, then winked.

“Yes, sir,” Sulu replied with what he hoped was the right amount of gratitude and eagerness. “Thank you, sir.”

Gordon chuckled again, and Sulu was certain the older man squeezed his shoulder just before he straightened and walked to the bar.


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