The day of the Captain's party dawned foggy and cold, but McCoy reported that the fog would burn off by mid morning and it would warm up considerably. He had been up very early, contentedly puttering about in his bare feet and listening to the weather forecast.
Spock had set his internal clock to wake him up at 0600 and Jim had decided to sleep in until 0700, a seldom indulged luxury. As he awoke, he glanced over at Peter's cot and saw that he was still fast asleep. He silently slipped on his slippers and grabbed his clothes and went to take his shower. Uhura's door was still closed .
McCoy programmed the food synthesizer for fruit juice, but he had gone out early and bought eggs, milk, fruit, bread and jam so Peter could have fresh food for breakfast. He set the table and filled the glasses with the fruit juice and started the coffee. He hummed the old show tune, 'Oh What a Beautiful Morning" under his breath as he worked.
It was the smell of coffee that brought Jim to the table, his hair wet and tousled, his jaw still unshaven. Spock came in too, looking rested and relaxed. He sat down next to his captain and sipped his glass of juice. Jim gulped the hot coffee and his eyes opened wide in surprise. "This is good, Bones. I thought you said you couldn't cook."
McCoy hummed softly, "I'm inspired this morning. Say Jim, I've been meaning to ask you all week, just why are you having this party. You're not known around Fleet as much of a party animal."
Jim grinned ruefully in agreement. "I know Bones, but actually it was Admiral Nogura who suggested it. He wants me to meet some of the top brass this evening. Something about discussing a possible assignment for when our five-year mission is over. You know how much I hate that sort of thing, but when the big boss asks for a party, he gets a party."
Spock looked at his captain, his face troubled. "Jim, it seems logical to surmise that the Admiral has already made plans for your future. It would be well to consider very carefully any proposals he might suggest. You are best suited for Starship command, and any other assignment would be a waste of your talent and experience."
"For once I agree with Spock, Jim. Don't let that ole' fox Nogura talk you into anything. He can be mighty persuasive."
"Bones, you two are jumping the gun just a little aren't you? I have absolutely no intention of giving up my ship and two years is a long time. Anything can happen, and probably will."
Jim moved restlessly in his chair. He looked at the normally impassive, but now grave face of his first officer and decided to change the subject. He had absolutely no desire to discuss his future right now.
"Spock, were you able to contact Sarek and Amanda last night? How are they and what brings them Earth from Vulcan?" asked Jim?
McCoy blinked at the sudden switch in the conversation, but Spock looked at his captain knowingly, acknowledging Jim's wish for another topic of conversation.
"Yes, Jim. They are well and sent you and the doctor greetings. They will both be pleased to attend the gathering tonight. Possibly it will be the only time I will see my father." He paused, then went on. "My father is here to vote on the admission of Orion to the Federation Council. There is much controversy both in the Council and on Orion itself over admission." He hesitated slightly and then went on, "as you know, Orion is an immature society, still fierce and warlike. The two factions in power are diametrically opposed in their philosophies and admission is very much in question. The referendum to join the council passed by a very narrow margin on Orion and there is still much dissention among the people about the question of admission. There has been much debate in Council because of this."
"There's always debate in Council, Spock, that's nothing new, but in what ways do the two factions differ so radically?" interrupted McCoy. "I tend to agree that the Orions are fierce and warlike, but from the little I know of them they seem to have a strong code of honor and are highly developed technologically. "
"Yes, they are that, Doctor. But it seems that the conservative and larger faction thinks Orion is ready to give up its neutrality and some of its antiquated social and sexual mores to take its place in the Federation Council. They contend it would benefit Orion to have its interests heard by so large a group as the Council and they also want to enlarge their trade status with many other advanced worlds."
Spock leaned on the table and steeped his fingers as he explained. "Orion is a planet rich in natural resources and they have vast technological wealth to share with other worlds. However, their warrior culture makes it difficult for them to approach other cultures, to compromise in trade agreements, or share what they have. As a result, they badly need expertise that the Federation would be able to offer in medicine, agriculture, education and sexual equality. Many of their people die young due to war and disease and poor medical care, others are indentured or enslaved because of poverty. There is much illiteracy among the young and there are very few and very ill-equipped schools. The middle class and wealthy send their children off world to be educated. The Orions have vast areas of arable land that could be made productive, but all their wealth and technological growth thus far has come from space flight and weaponry."
Spock sighed for the vagaries of the Orion mentality and continued his lecture. "The other faction, and it is a smaller though more vocal and militant group, asserts that joining the Federation would destroy Orion. This group contends that Orion would lose its autonomy; the warrior culture would be diluted and destroyed, and that the Federation would take advantage of Orion's natural resources and give little or nothing in return. It is this faction that the Federation holds responsible for the acts of piracy and kidnapping that have been reported to us. Piracy, slavery, and kidnapping are the crimes most common to Orion warriors."
"Apparently," Spock added, "in their history they achieved their ends through those means." He paused and glanced at Jim's set face. The captain had been unusually silent throughout Spock's discourse and his eyes were hard and angry as he met Spock's glance.
"I have no sympathy for Orion ambitions, Spock. It was because of them that you almost died of Choriocytosis when they stole the Strobolin that you needed."1
Jim spoke coldly. He remembered all too well how close Spock had come to dying and shuddered when he thought of what they had all gone through to get the drug in the nick of time. The memory of McCoy's 'ten more minutes and it would have been too late,' still sent cold chills down his spine. He reached out and touched Spock's arm as if to reassure himself that his friend was here, alive and well.
"Jim," Spock chided him gently, "it is illogical in the extreme to hold a whole planet responsible for the acts of a few. And I am here, alive and well." As usual, Spock had read the thought without effort.
"No thanks to the Orions," muttered Jim.
"Spock, how do you think Sarek will vote?" asked McCoy, looking at the captain's grim face and trying to distract him.
"He will vote for the most logical and beneficial option, Doctor. Sarek has studied the question for some time now, and I am very sure he has reached a decision."
"But you don't know what it is, right?" needled McCoy.
"I believe that is what I just said, Dr. McCoy," Spock answered patiently.
"Well, Sarek's vote carries a lot of weight on the council floor. You know that old saying, 'As Vulcan goes, so goes the Council,' "Jim added thoughtfully, distracted at last from his recollection of Spock's near death.
"Essentially correct, Captain," said Spock, "if rather simple."
"Good morning, all," Uhura's quiet voice interrupted their reverie as she came in with Peter. "Peter and I are ready for a very, very large breakfast, aren't we Peter?"
"I am very hungry, Uncle Jim." Peter sidled up to stand close to his uncle and eyed his plate of scrambled eggs.
Jim put his arm around the child and hugged him tight. "It's playing chess with Mr. Spock that does it, Peter. I always feel I could eat a horse after I beat Spock in chess."
"Then it's fortunate for that life form, Captain, that you do not win very often." Spock spoke with that faint suggestion of a smile that was all he ever permitted himself to show to the world.
Jim grinned at Peter. "I do win sometimes, Peter." He chuckled and threw Spock a wicked look. "It's just that Mr. Spock hasn't gotten used to it yet."
"Sit down here Uhura, you too Peter. Everything's ready, chef McCoy is on the job." McCoy bustled about, setting down plates of food in front of both, and milk for Peter. "Here Uhura, see what you think of my coffee," he placed a large mug in front of her.
"Ahem, people," said Jim. "I have an announcement to make. The cleaning crew will be here at 0900 hours and the caterers will not be here until this evening. So between those hours we're free to do whatever we want. How about taking Peter to see the sights of San Francisco? We can come back around 1700 hours to shower, get dressed, and to do whatever." He looked at them expectantly. "Is everyone in agreement?"
Everybody was. They all hurried off to get dressed, except for Spock who was, or course, ready. As Jim dressed, he thought again of the Orion issue. He still felt strangely uneasy over the question of admission, but then he thought, I don't have to worry about it. That question, thank God, is in the hands of the politicians and not in mine.
The door chimes rang softly and Peter ran to answer the door. Scotty, Chekov, and Sulu stood there, all three beaming, looking clear-eyed and chipper. It was clear that shore leave agreed with them, and they were ready for more fun. Invitation was given and promptly accepted for the Kirk San Francisco guided tour, James T. Kirk, acting tour guide.
It was a large and merry group that made its way to the wharf to see the old sailing vessels kept there for the public to enjoy. Peter was amazed to see all the different types of ships perfectly preserved for so many years. His Uncle Jim knew all about them too, and he led Peter through several different types, small sloops, to large schooners, explaining the advantages and disadvantages of each and the intricacies of their rigging. At noon, tired and hungry, they voted and decided to stay at the wharf for lunch. It was a delicious, if messy affair of fresh buttered lobster which dribbled down Dr. McCoy's tunic, but which he said was worth it.
Afterward, they went to Golden Gate Park, and to the Natural History Museum. Peter was claimed in turn by a different group of two or three, who wanted him to see this or that. His delight in everything was contagious, and the adults saw old things new again through his eyes.
San Francisco had captivated visitors since the 1700's and these space voyagers were not immune to the beauty and charm of the old city.
It was altogether a wonderful day. Peter said tiredly, but blissfully, that he would remember it even when he was a very, very old man.
1 TAS episode "The Pirates of Orion"