It was late in the afternoon on the Enterprise and the members of the night watch were getting ready to take their posts on the bridge. The rest of the ship's personal were coming off duty and going about their afternoon activities. It had been a long day for most of them and people were preparing for bed or enjoying their time off.
Lieutenant Commander Data was sitting at the desk in his quarters. Data usually ran the night watch, however there was a limit to the amount of time an officer could work and Data was well over that limit.
It was a Tuesday night and every Tuesday night the senior officers would have a poker night. Every time Data was off on a Tuesday night he would attended, however despite the fact that he has had almost every Tuesday off for the past few weeks he had not been to a poker night in months.
For the past few months Data had been studying for the command exam. Unlike other promotions to be promoted from Lieutenant Commander to Commander, an officer needed to pass a command exam. To take this exam an officer needed to speak with the ship's first officer, who would give the exam, and the first officer needed to have the captain approve the officer to take the exam.
Data was approved almost immedately.
Everyone believed that Data was more than ready to take this exam. The only person who was not sure that Data would pass was Data himself. He had taken the exam many times before when he was stationed on the USS Trieste, but he had never been able to pass it.
This time was different. Commander Riker the current first officer was just promoted to Captain and would be taken command of the USS Titan in a few weeks. If Data past the exam before Riker left he would be eligible to take the postion of first officer.
Data was going over Starfleet's Red Alert protocol when his doorbell rang.
"Enter, please," Data said looking up from his datapad to see who was at the door. Counselor Tori walked in and headed over to the desk were Data was sitting.
"Good evening, Counselor," Data said when he saw who it was and put his datapad down.
"Hello Data," Tori said as she sat down on the chair next to Data's desk.
"I came to see why you weren't at the poker game tonight," Tori said getting strait to the point, concern showing on her face, "you haven't came these last few weeks and it isn't like you."
"I am sorry that I have not been able to participate in any recreational activities these past few weeks, but I must prepare for my command exam," Data answered already picking his datapad back up.
"Data you only just asked Will to take that exam two days ago," Tori stated a look of disbelief on her face.
"That is correct, but I did not want to ask Commander Riker to take the exam until I had prepared myself a little for it," Data explained once again reading the information on his datapad again while talking with Tori.
Tori reached over Data's desk and put her hand over the screen on Data's datapad, getting his full attention.
"Data, you don't need to be worry about that exam. You are more than ready. You have had more experence than I had when I took the exam and I was able to pass."
A small smile made its way onto Tori's face.
"In fact many officers are wondering why you haven't tried to become a Commander before now," Tori added taking her hand off of the datapad.
"I have taken the command exam. I have taken it a total of six times while I was on the USS Trieste and I have failed all six times," Data said going back to his reading.
The smile slipped off of Tori's face and a look of surprise took its place. Data had shown during his 15 years on the Enterprise that he was more than able to handle command. He had even taken command a number of times. Will had even told her that in his opinion Data taking the exam was more of a formity. With Data's skills it did not add up that he took the exam and failed six times.
Tori quickly recovered.
"Why haven't you tried to take the command exam again? You have been on the Enterprise for the past 15 years; there was plenty of time to try again."
"In my last station before coming to the Enterprise I did not feel that I was reaching my full potential. I had hoped that if I was able to gain the rank of Commander I would be able to do more. Yet, each time I took the exam I had failed to meet the requirements to pass. After the sixth time I came to the realization that I was not yet prepared for the charge of rank so I applied to other starships in hopes of gaining a new assignment. Captain Picard accepted my application for Ops officer here on the Enterprise. I have been satisfied with my position here, so I have not had a reason to try for the rank of Commander again." Data answered shifting around nervously.
Tori may never have been able to sense Data's emotions, but she could see how nervous he was about this exam.
"So, now that Will is leaving you are hoping to get the position of First Officer," Tori stated leaning forward in her set.
"That is correct," Data answered.
Tori got up and walked over to Data's replicator.
"Hot chocolate, please."
When the cup appeared Tori picked it up, walked back over to Data and handed to him. Data gave her a questioning look.
"Here, whenever I'm nervous about something I find that this helps," Tori explained handing the steaming cup over to Data.
"Thank you, Counselor," Data replied taking the steaming cup from Tori.
While Data was taking a sip of his hot chocolate Tori reached over and took his datapad which he had placed down when he took his coffee and went over and put it in the drawer of his desk.
"Data, as ship counselor and your friend I'm ordering you to take the rest of the day off," Tori declared giving him a look that told him she was serious.
When Data opened his mouth to complain, Deanna just cut him off.
"Data, there is such a thing as over studying. And we both know that if you did not have your emotion chip on making you nervous, you would know that you are prepared."
"I believe it is important to point out that I did not have emotions the other times I have taken this exam and have always failed it," Data retaliated.
"And you have had 15 years of experience since then," Tori shot back, "and it is not helping you to continue studying at this point."
The look Tori was giving Data softened.
"I have to go, but Data you need to do something other than study," Tori said and with that she turned around and left.
The next afternoon Tori was trying to finish her counseling schedule. She couldn’t get her conversation with Data out of her mind.
“I know that a lot of officers take the command exam many times before the pass, but it doesn’t make sense that Data would have to,” Tori thought, “And six times is a little much for anyone. Something is up here and I attend to bring it to Will’s attention as soon as I can.”
She didn’t have to wait long to talk with Riker. Since they had gotten engaged a few months ago, she and Riker had been sharing quarters.
Tori was half way though her schedule when Riker walked in.
Riker smiled when he saw Tori. He walked over to her and gave her a kiss on the cheek.
"Will, I didn't expect you to get back for a while. Your shift on the bridge doesn't end till at least two more hours," Tori said turning away from her schedule.
"Yeah, well the Captain wanted to spend some time training Data to take over as First Officer," Riker said wrapping his arms around Tori.
"Besides it gives us a little more time to spend together," Riker continued leaning in and giving Tori a kiss on the lips. "We haven't had that much time together since we've gotten engaged."
Tori sighed and leaned into Riker's embrace.
"Will, I have to finish my schedule for next week," Tori replied as she forced herself to go back to what she had been doing.
Riker than noticed of Tori's mood, it was one that he had long ago learned to recognize. The smile slowly slipped of Riker's face. He than sat down in the chair directly across from Tori.
"What's bothering you Deanna," Riker asked looking her directly in the eyes. Tori gave him a questioning look.
"Deanna, I know you and I can tell when something is bothering you," He explained.
Tori gave a small smile; Riker always did have a way of noticing when something was on her mind.
"The captain must be pretty sure that Data will pass his upcoming exam if he is already training him to be First Officer,” she said.
"Of course Captain Picard is expecting Data to pass his exam," Riker said with a confused look on his face wondering why this would be bothering Tori, "I have given that exam to many officers in the past and none of them had been more ready for it than Data is. Yeah, I'm going to be just as hard on Data as any other officer, but I have no doubt that he will pass the exam with flying colors."
"So, the Captain has already made up his mind that Data is going to take over as First Officer?" Tori asked.
"The choice was pretty clear. Out of all the candidates for First Officer, none of them are more qualified for the position than Data," he answered and then he gave a small smile. "Though Data had pointed out to Picard that he hasn't yet pass his command exam and it was a little premature to begin training him to be First Officer."
"That because Data's not sure he's going to pass the exam; he's been studying for the past few weeks. He told me that he had taken it before he came to the Enterprise and had failed it." Tori explained.
Riker smiled believing that he had figured out what was bothering Tori.
"Deanna many officers take that exam two or three times before they pass it. Data may have taken it in the past, but that just means that he was not ready at that time. He is more than ready now and has nothing to worry about. Also if my memory serves me right you failed that exam the first time you took it."
Tori gave Riker a look that made his smile drop.
"Yes, but not six times. Data has taken the command exam a total of six times and he took them right before he came to the Enterprise. He even told me that part of the reason he had applied for the position here was because he couldn't pass the exam. You meet him a few days after he was stationed here; now tell me do you believe that Data could have passed the exam then." Tori explained and she continued without giving Riker any time to answer.
"I believe that he could have and it doesn't make any sense to me that Data failed that many times."
After hearing this a look of determination appeared on Riker’s face. Without saying another word Riker got up and walked over to his desk.
"Computer, show me all the information you have on Lieutenant Commander Data's past command exams, as well as the video footage from these pass exams," Riker said his voice clearly showing his feelings about what he had just heard.
He knew that every time any officer took this exam it was recorded in case there was ever any question about whether or not any officer deserved their rank and these recordings would give him the answers he wanted.
"Will," Tori said worriedly while she got up slowly out of her set and walked over to Riker's desk.
"You're right Deanna," Riker said reading over the information the computer had pulled up, "not only does it not make sense, it's nearly impossible."
Riker looked away from his computer and looked Deanna directly in the eyes, "And I'm going to find out what happened during those exams.”
The next day found Riker standing outside the holodeck. After talking with Tori he had went over all of the records on Data’s past command exams, and after looking though them he no longer felt that something was not right. He was now certain that something was wrong. The First Officer of the USS Trieste had not given a reason for Data failing any of his command exam, which was against protocol for these exams. To add from the exam result Riker could not find any reason that Data would have failed the exams.
Riker had an idea about what happened, he just needed to take a look at the recordings of the exams to be sure.
“Program is set, enter when ready,” the computer said only seconds after Riker had but in the information and the door to the holodeck slide open.
When Riker stepped into the holodeck he was standing on the bridge of the USS Trieste.
The Trieste’s bridge was only half the size of the Enterprise Bridge, but with a view screen the same size as the one on the Enterprise. The helm and Ops stations where both in the center of the bridge facing the view screen and they were connected two each other, similar to how they had been on Captain Kirk’s Enterprise. The other stations were around the wall of the bridge, just like on the current Enterprise. The odd thing about the bridge of the USS Trieste was that unlike most starships the Captain’s and First Officer’s chairs where on the left hand side on the bridge, perpendicular to the helm and Ops stations. It was there in the Captain’s chair that Data was sitting. Data looked just the same as he did now; the only difference was that he was wearing the old Starfleet uniform from a few years ago. There were also holographic images of a few officers at the stations around the bridge and at both the helm and Ops station.
The bridge was on Red Alert, which told Riker that this was the battle portion of the exam. This part of the exam was centered on seeing an officer’s ability to make clear and quickly decisions in difficult situations.
Riker watched Data take the battle portion of the exam, then the engineering portion and the rest of the Command Exam.
When the last portion of the exam was over, Riker was furious with what he saw. He could not find any reason whatsoever that the First Officer of the USS Trieste had failed Data. Not only had Data passed but he had done better than most officers that Riker had seen.
Data should already have the rank of Commander.
Riker did not need to watch the other five exams. He also had no attention of giving Data the Command Exam now. Data should not have to pass the exam seven times to get his rank. However, Riker did not have the power to give an officer the rank of Commander without giving them the exam his self. He would have to bring this to Picard’s attention. This did not worry Riker, because he know that when he saw this Picard would give Data the rank he had earned fifteen years ago.
When Riker thought of reason’s that the First Officer of the Trieste would fail Data when he had clearly passed only one reason came to mind. He had seen people treat Data differently solely because of the fact that he was an android, and the possibility that Data had been denied the rank of Commander because of this prejuiced made Riker’s blood boil.
Riker transferred the information from the holodeck onto a disc, so that the Captain could view it from his Ready Room. When the information had finished transferring; he took the disc and left the holodeck and headed to his quarters.
When Riker got to his quarters he sat down at his desk.
“Computer, look up who was the First Officer of the USS Trieste fifteen years ago,” Riker said turning the computer scene on his desk to face him.
“The First Officer of the USS Trieste fifteen years was Commander Benjamin Olsen,” was the computer response.
“Pull up his service reports, particular anything that has to do with the time he served with Commander Data,” Riker told it. A few seconds later the computer scene on Will’s desk was showing Captain Olsen’s serves records, with incidents that involve Data highlighted.
Over the next few minutes Riker read over the few incidents that were highlighted on his scene, and he was not surprised by what he found. It turned out that from the time he was an ensign up to the time he had served on the Enterprise, Data had served on the USS Trieste. During that time, every time that Data’s name was put up for promotion Olsen had disapproved of it; one time even going as far as saying that an android should not be considered an officer.
Riker put this information onto the disc that had Data’s exam results on it, and he was ready to go to show this to Picard. If he had his way Data would have the rank of Commander before the day was over.
When Riker got to the bridge Picard was sitting in his Captain’s chair talking with Tori. Riker walked up to him and as he did so he couldn’t help glancing over at Data, who was sitting at his post at Ops.
“Captain, can I see you in your Ready Room?” Riker asked.
“Of course, Number One,” Picard said standing up from his set.
“Data you have the bridge,” Picard added as he walked past Data and into his Ready Room.
When he got into his Ready Room he sat down behind his desk.
“Captain I needed to speak with you about Data’s Command Exam,” Riker stated.
“I was under the impression that Commander Data was not schedule to take his exam till this Saturday,” Picard responded.
“That’s correct, but I no longer believe that Data should take the exam,” Riker said.
“It was brought to my attention yesterday that Data had taken the Command Exam before,” Riker begin, “and because many officers had taken the exam before and had not passed I didn’t think anything of it. But then I heard that he had taken it a total of six times and that where I started to think that something was up.”
Riker put his hands on Picard’s desk and leaned forward, “Captain I reviewed one of his past Command Exams and he passed it, the officer who had tested him failed him out of prejudice.”
Picard leaned forwarded a little in his chair, “Are you sure about this?”
“Positive,” Riker said pulling out the disc he had made during his investigation, “here the information I was able to pull up on this matter.” He then pushed the disc to Picard. Picard picked the disc off of the table.
“Thank you, for bringing this to my attention. I will look into this,” Picard said.
Riker nodded and walked out of the Ready Room.
Picard looked at the disc in his hand. He wished he could say that this surprised him, but it didn’t. He knew how some people felt about Data being an android.
Picard slipped the disc into the computer sitting on his desk and pulled up the records. Picard examined Data’s first exam, and came to the same conclusion that Riker did. Data had passed the exam with flying colors. After that he looked at the records that shown Olsen trying to keep Data from being promoted. It didn’t take long for Picard to but two and two together. And like Riker he was mad that this had been allowed to happen.
He took a deep breath. He was going to make a report to Starfleet about this and show them the evidence that Riker had found. Starfleet was not an organization that supported discrimination, and what Commander Olsen had done needed to be brought to Starfleet Command’s attention. But at the moment he had something more important to do.
Picard reached into a drawer in his desk where the pips given to officers when they got a promotion where kept, he pulled one out. He set it beside the computer on his desk, where it was not in clear view of anyone else in the room. With that done, Picard clicked on his communicator.
“Data, would you please report to my Ready Room,” Picard said as soon as his communicator was on.
“On my way,” came Data response.
Seconds later Data walked into the Ready Room.
“You wished to see me Captain?” Data asked.
“Yes, I did,” Picard said leaning over the table a little. “I would like to ask you about the Command Exams you took while you served on the USS Trieste.”
Data looked confused for a moment. He could not see why Picard would want to go over those exams that had happened fifteen years ago. Perhaps Picard was rethinking about allowing him to take the exam again.
“I have taken the exam a total of six times abroad the USS Trieste. I had hoped that I might be able to do more for Starfleet with the rank of Commander. At the end of all six of those exams though, Commander Olsen stated that I did not show the ability to hold command of a starship,” Data replied trying to hide his nervousness.
“Commander Riker was just in here after he had looked over your past exams,” Picard said.
At this Data got a confused look on his face and tilted his head to the side.
“Did Commander Olsen tell you why exactly he did not find you capable of holding command?” Picard asked with a serious look on his eyes.
“No, sir,” Data replied.
“Data, Commander Riker looked over the records of your Command Exams, and found reason to believe that you were not given a fair evaluation. This being the case I have went over one of your exams personally. The results of my evaluation and your service on this ship means it is past time for you to receive this.” Picard said and then he stood up, picking up the pip and walking around the table. When he got to Data he held out his hand with the pip in it.
Data looked at it for a moment and then took it.
“Thank you, sir,” was all that Data could think to say.
“Well done Commander,” Picard answered.
One Week Later,
After Picard had promoted Data, he had immediately sent a report to Starfleet about the matter. An investigation into the actions of Benjamin Olsen provided that Riker had been right. They had pulled up letters he had written to Starfleet Command, stating the reasons an android should not be in Starfleet, as well as personal logs that had him talking about how if it was up to him Data would not be promoted. Most of the reasons he stated mirrored what Commander Maddox had said a few years ago, about Data not being a sentient being. Olsen was currently awaiting trial for the miss use of his command power.
On the Enterprise, Picard had made the official announcement that his new First Officer would be Commander Data.
At the current moment Data was sitting in Ten Forward having a drink with Geordi.
"I can't believe that for all this years you had been denied the rank you have earned," Geordi said putting his drink down on the table where he and Data were sitting at.
"I, myself, am finding it hard to believe," Data replied. "Though over the years I have learned that humans do not always make logical ."
At this Geordi just smile, "Well, that's one way for looking at it."