The USS Tesla was bustling with activity as they docked back at the Federation base. Multiple repairs needed to be made to the ship after the fight in the Archanis Campaign, as well as the inventory needing to be restocked with fresh supplies for their next deployment. The crew was buzzing about like busy worker bees as they scrambled to get things in order in record time. The crew of the new ship was riding the high of their last victory and was eager to be back on their next mission. It was during the wrapping up of the repairs that Ryder called Savik into a meeting.
“Commander Savik, report to Holodeck 2 in thirty minutes for an evaluation.”
“Orders received, Captain,” Savik responded quickly, wondering what her new CO had in mind.
((Timeskip to Holodeck))
Michael didn’t do this on every occasion, but he felt a good way to test Savik’s skills even after her time at the Academy was to put her through a simulation he ran to test his officers. The best way to teach them was to put them in a situation they didn’t know. Michael had a way of evaluating his officers constantly and he held all of his crew to high standards, but his second in command he took special action to determine they could make the tough calls.
The simulation had placed them on a planet with the mission of collecting some samples for study, but Savik supposed it would not play out quite as expected. Savik wasn’t certain what planet they had been placed on for the simulation, realizing that it could be a dreamed up reality purely for the sake of training, but not being well traveled she supposed it could be a real planet. She figured it was irrelevant to the task at hand and instead closely studied the terrain to find any possible advantage in case of an attack.
Savik studied the instructions on her PADD and then began to disperse the orders among the waiting group of scientists.
“A group of two are assigned to collect samples around the riverbed located to the northeast of our location, three are assigned to gather foliage samples from the valley to the south, and the other two will collect specimens from the more arid region to the west. Keep us apprised of any issues on comms. We will meet back here at the shuttle in 3 hours,” Savik read out the orders.
Michael was of course the ever silent observer in this case, as he watched but did not talk. He took notes on his PADD of not just Savik, but the other members who had been asked to take part in this evaluation. His reasons were not questions and the crew knew there had to be a good reason for such an event to take place after the scars that were still fresh from the encounter at Praxis III. Michael knew Michelle would be coming back and he needed to evaluate his crew. He was going to be a part of the mission at this point.
With the group of scientists split up they would be hard pressed to provide adequate coverage for protection, but Savik supposed that was all part of the task for the simulation. They had two shuttles with them, and the PADD display informed her that those two shuttles were their only means of transport off the planet since the magnetic interference of this planet’s core would wreak havoc on a transporter, making any attempt at dematerialization impossible. It was only a short amount of time before a small group of the scientists who had traveled down into the valley to collect samples sent out a distress call.
Savik sat down at shuttle two’s display unit to assess the situation. “Captain, looks like the group in the valley has met with some hostiles,” Savik informed Ryder as she scanned the images coming in through the shuttle’s radar.
“We are taking fire!” The voice screamed over the airways to pound through the comms. “We ran into some locals! They didn’t want to talk! Attacked immediately!” By the short statements and deep breaths between each statement, it was apparent that the scientists were running.
Michael nodded at his First Officer “Where does it say the crew is at?”
“They’re headed northeast,” Savik already had the engines whirring as the shuttle lifted off the ground. “The hostiles are in pursuit.”
Michael noted the fact that Savik had indeed taken control of the situation and that was something he had been really wanting to evaluate. He watched as she piloted the shuttle towards the location where the crew reportedly was. “I think this expedition should be cut short. What about you?”
Savik nodded in agreement and quickly opened a comm channel to hail the other groups of scientists. “All groups return to shuttle one. Wait there for the captain’s and my return. Area has been deemed hostile and no further exploration will be permitted without a guarded escort.”
Affirmative messages came in over the airways as the remaining scientists began to head back towards the other shuttle.
Their shuttle could not get them to the scene of the skirmish quickly enough to satisfy Savik, but when she neared the fleeing group of scientists, the shuttle immediately began taking fire from the enemy on the ground. Savik struggled to evade the barrage of shots that rained down on the little shuttle, but a blast that seemed to come out of nowhere crippled the engines.
“Engine failure!” Savik reported. “All I can do is set her down as gently as possible.”
“Do your best XO.” Michael said as he remembered his first time in the same situation, but in a horrible storm.
Sirens blared, the whole display lit up in an array of flashing warnings as Savik prepared for a crash landing, trying to guide the shuttle to land between the fleeing scientists and their pursuers. The shuttle skidded across the ground as they made contact, the sound of the hull scraping over rocks causing Savik to cringe. This bird wasn’t going to fly again today. They would have to make it back to the second shuttle if they hoped to get off this planet.
“Shuttle one is 10 klicks northwest of our position,” Savik checked the info on her wrist comm before reaching out to pull the handle for the manual door release. “And we have some rough terrain to cover.”
The landing was rough, but it could have been way worse; it was now time for the real test to occur and this would be where the real evaluation began. Michael had never done such an evaluation, but he had learned the best way to test his officers and this would really test Saviks resolve.
As the enemy forces closed in around them, the crew slowly drew back to a narrow pass slithering through the stretching mountains. The rocky crags loomed above them, casting harsh shadows on the terrain below. Harsh reality set in and Savik knew this was the best place to make a stand. The team of scientists they were protecting would never make it back to the shuttle alive with this throng of riotous natives on their heels. Turning back to face the advancing hordes, she pulled up her phaser and unsheathed her katana with her free hand.
“I’ll hold them back. You need time to reach the ship and this group of scientists won’t make it with an enemy horde on their tail. This pass is a good place to hold them since they can only attack a few at a time.”
“No Commander, I want you to go and get the crew back to the shuttle and the ship as quickly as possible. I will hold back the enemy to give you the time to get the crew to the shuttle. I wish you the best.” He concluded.
“Captain, you’re far more capable of getting them back to the ship and commanding the ship than I am. It would be to the advantage of the entire crew if you were to return rather than me.”
“Do not try and countermand my orders, Commander. You have your orders Commander Savik carry them out.” He stated sternly, peeking from the cover to see if the enemy had arrived yet.
Savik bit the corner of her lower lip but nodded in compliance. “As you command,” she submitted to his decision. She quickly whirled back to gather the group of huddled scientists. “We make for the shuttle. No stopping for anything. We have a lot of ground to cover. I’ll take up the rear. Everyone move,” she commanded sharply.
She threw back a glance and a final nod of recognition over her shoulder as she looked back at their fearless captain, ready at his position blocking the pass from any who would attempt to follow them. She did not see the captain fall to the enemy, but as the simulation faded out, she supposed the training exercise was over.
Savik bit her lower lip as the holodeck faded back into view. She hoped she hadn’t failed in any way due to the simulation resulting in her captain’s death. However, being familiar with the parameters of a kobayashi maru, Savik accepted that there may be moments when the crew could be placed in a no win situation. Yet as she glanced over at her new Captain, she hoped such a situation in real life would play out far differently.
((Timeskip to Captain’s Ready Room))
Savik was still nervous when entering the Captain’s room. Although she had only been under his command for a short time, it seemed like ages with all they had been through. Yet she did not relish the words she now felt compelled to speak.
“Captain Ryder,” she addressed him formally, announcing her presence.
“Come in and have a seat XO.” He said motioning to the seat in front of him.
Savik’s eyes fell to the ground as she prepared herself to speak her mind. “One question, sir,” she began. “Is that how the scenario would play out in real life were such a situation to occur?” She now rose her eyes to meet his gaze as she placed the question.
“Commander, as the Captain sometimes you have to be willing to protect your crew even at the sacrifice of your own life. I never want to say that such a scenario would occur, but it could be possible.” he said looking at his XO.
“I would never presume to question your dedication to the Tesla or your bravery, and in a simulated situation I believe it is vital for morale that a person of your station prove their willingness to lay down their life for their crew, however,” Savik bit her lower lip as she was accustomed to doing when placed in uncomfortable situations, “Where such a occurrence to take place in the field, I do believe a different course of action should be taken.”
“Please Commander explain your words.” He said curious to see what she was going to say.
“Captain,” Savik’s eyes met with Ryder’s and she did not look away as she addressed him, “Were the Tesla to lose you as their Captain, there is no telling what could occur. With your credentials and experience you are clearly a far more capable commander than I would be in any situation. Should circumstances occur where one of us must lay down their life for the survival of the crew, I would hope you would select me as the obvious choice. In such a scenario, it is not a matter of pride but a matter of what is best for the Tesla as a whole, and with you at the helm the Tesla is a far more formidable fighting force than it would be without you. I say this will all due respect, sir. Acknowledging that I will always obey your orders no matter what you decide, however I simply felt compelled to express to you my opinion on the matter.”
Michael rose from his seat and walked over placing an arm on his XO’s shoulder “Tia it’s not the fact that I am the more capable commander it is the fact that as the Captain I will decide what would be best. I may be more experienced, but you have a longer career ahead of you and I want you to succeed. If that meant you taking the Tesla, so be it. My job is to help you learn what it is to be a good leader and you did without hesitation by offering to stay behind so that I may live. I urge you to remember that life is precious and each moment should be cherished. That being said this conversation is between us and I hope it shows you the decisions I have to contend with in hard times. You did good today and I could not be prouder to have you as my XO.”
He went back to his seat and handed her a PADD” Here is a three day pass go and enjoy yourself and know that you are the XO of the Tesla and that title will be yours as long as you want it.”
Savik’s chest swelled with pride, but she attempted to conceal her emotions. “Thank you, Sir,” she responded in the most professional tone she could muster.