The USS Hermes, an Akira class vessel, flew by the port side window as it was making its way to jump to its next destination. A science mission to catalog a new fungus? A medical mission to help with a planetary disaster, or even a simple patrol mission along the borders. The sun’s reflection hit the ship windows, which reflected again back to Starbase Bravo. Sazra’s eyes were focused on the ship with a gaze of amazement,
She blinked and looked at her side, seeing a smiling Silina standing in her teal-colored cadet uniform. “Heh, yes, Cadet?”
“It is time for your command exam, Captain” Silina nods to the side. “Come on”
Sazra looked one more time as the Hermes jumped into warp and then nodded to herself, following Silina to the academy premise. “I honestly not sure why I am required to do this,” she muttered.
“Because you want to command your scientific mission if I remember your bold words on the introduction day of the second year,” Silina pointed out in an embarrassing moment. “Plus, this exam is the last one until you are recognized for command.”
“Please don’t remind me of that moment” Sazra wanted to facepalm herself. “I know I said that, and I know that the other teachers set their phasers on me since that day”
Silina smiled at that. “To stun, you mean…”
“I think it was more to kill,” Sazra shrugs, thinking about the amount of extra homework she got after that speech. “Plus, why would someone need to follow the command course when I am most likely not even the Captain of the ship itself”
Lifting her shoulders, Silina shrugs. “I honestly don’t know. I think the teacher said that commanding a ship is not the only thing you shall lead-in. More challenges will cross your path” She pointed out a finger and laughed, trying to imitate a teacher.
“Is that so, Cadet Ruslanovna?” A Caitian voice came behind as they both jumped aside, looking at the Caitian. “Now, now, I don’t bite ladies.”
“We didn’t notice you, sir. Are you going to the exam as well?” Silina asked formally.
“Well, yes, of course, it is a pleasure to see every cadet that throws their towel in the ring for command go through this specific exam” The man responded and then looked at Sazra. “Good luck on your ending result, Cadet Praugol” He patted her on the shoulder and moved along into the exam area.
Sazra halted seeing the next bridge cadet crew enter the holodeck. “I …am no longer sure about this Sil” She said, looking at her good friend.
“Now…are you chickening out? Come on. You nailed most exams in both practical and theoretical” Silina pointed out and gave a clap on her shoulder that made Sazra move a bit forward. “So chin up, Captain, I am right there with you as your medical officer” She winks at her.
Sazra hugged her friend. “Thank you so much” There was this brief moment of true friendship that nothing around them mattered.
“MISS PRAUGOL” A voice finally echoed.
Sazra let go of Silina, who was dozing off herself at that moment and looked at the teacher standing there with her arms crossed.
“Get in” The teacher points with her thumb behind her into the holodeck. Both Silina and Sazra shuffle quickly into the holodeck.
Inside the holodeck, Silina quickly took her spot on the Second Officer seat and let Sazra pass her by to the Captain’s chair. Everyone was at their station as Sazra looked around and bowed. “Apology that you guys were waiting on me,” She said, raising her head, seeing some of them smile in approval and turn back to their console.
“Start simulation Command Exam for Cadet Praugol” A voice came over the intercom.
The ship started to make a sound as if Sazra was standing on a real bridge.
“Captain, we are receiving a distress signal” The Operation Officer spoke.
Sazra blinked a looked at him. “Let me hear it” The cadet nodded and put it on.
“This is the Kobayashi Maru out of Altair VI. We have struck a gravitic mine and have lost all power. Our hull is penetrated, and we have sustained many casualties” Static became worse throughout the message.
“This is the starship, Mercury. Your message seems to be breaking up. Can you give us your coordinates? Repeat, this is the USS Mercury…”
“Mercury, thank the gods, our position is Gamma Hydra. Section 10”
“That is…” Sazra tried to calculate and triangle the location in her head. “Wait, is that not the neutral zone?!”
“Hull penetrated, life support systems failing. Can you assist us, Mercury?”
“Sir, your orders?” Helm spoke up, looking over her shoulder to Sazra, who was rubbing her face for a moment.
Sazra took a deep breath staying calm “Time for diplomatic matters will take too long and time is not what they have…Ruslanovna ship info on Kobayashi Maru?” She looked at her side, seeing the doctor snapping to her console to get the information.
“Hmm, Kobayashi Maru is a third-class neutronic fuel carrier with a crew of 81 people and about 300 passengers” Silina shrugs at that. It was quite a large hull of people.
“Ops, are there other vessels in our area that can assist?” Sazra asked.
The Operation Officer looked at the data, “USS New York is the closes, but it still takes more than an hour to get there. We can reach the Kobayashi Maru within 10 minutes ma’am” Giving the indication that it would take the USS New York a delay of 50 minutes on high warp.
“Damn it…” Sazra mutters and takes a deep breath, “All hands to yellow alert, helm plot an intercept course to the Kobayashi Maru. Doctor, please get the sickbay ready for receiving people” Sazra looked at the screen as the ship altered its course.
“Sir, we will enter the neutral zone in a minute. Is that wise?” The Tactical Officer said.
By all accounts, it was not the most brilliant move, but lives were at stake, and most likely, the teachers would punish her for abandoning her duties as a Captain. “I am well aware of the situation. I take full responsibility as your Captain” She spoke formally as the bridge light changed to yellow, indicating that the ship shields were also active.
“Entering the neutral zone in five, four, three, two, one” The helm brings the ship out of warp as the Kobayashi Maru comes into view. “Vessel in sight, we are approaching them”
“Sir, we have three bird-of-prey decloaking!” The Tactical Officer responded in haste.
“What” Sazra was amazed at how fast they had responded. “Send a message out that we are here on a rescue mission. We are not here to pick a fight!” Sazra raised her voice, looking at her Operation Officer.
“They are jamming all communication efforts!” He responded from his operations console.
This was going quicker than she expected. “They are loading their weapons, sir!” She heard, and Sazra shrugged. “Full power to front shielding! Heat the weapons! Send a broadcast for help to the Federation on repeat! I know they won’t get through, but if we can get one ship down, we might get that broadcast up!”
The Mercury gets hit by the torpedoes, but the frontal shield is held with the quick thinking of Sazra. The bride shook violently. “Fire back on the lead ship!” Mercury fires back as it hits the frontal ship, but getting shield power to the other side took a long time, causing the side to get heavy hits.
“We got breaches on decks 12 to 15!” Engineer Officer replied.
Sazra felt that the situation was going out of her favor quickly. “Damn unfair ….three against one. Evacuate the outer decks and seal them off! Tactical, send the next volley at them!” But it was too late, as one of the birds got at her weak side and sent the next volley of torpedoes, shaking up the bridge and ending the simulation.
“Command Exam over, USS Mercury is destroyed by a direct impact from the Klingon Bird-of-Prey. Two hundred forty-three people died, and the Klingon Empire captured 45 people. The Kobayashi Maru got destroyed due to a lack of time they had left” A teacher spoke over the intercom.
The frustration was high with Sazra. She did most of it by the book. “I am sorry I failed you all in this simulation, but thank you for being part of it,” Sazra spoke to the crew as they looked at each other and clapped their hands. Sazra smiled kindly at them, but she instead wanted to crash onto her bed and cry.
Walking out of the holodeck, the Caitian teacher stood there looking at Sazra, that walked to him, “Well done, Cadet Praugol, but what have you learned from this exam?” He asked as Silina kept quiet, putting an arm on Sazra’s shoulder for support.
“That it was an impossible situation. The urge to save the people in the neutral zone was impossible. Within seconds, I was surrounded by the Klingons, and I had to see and witness death right there around me” Sazra spoke bluntly.
The Caitian hums a bit. “Yes, this exam was set for you to fail. You made some incredible choices. But death was the only outcome, which is what every Captain faces daily. Their choices have impact and weight as lives are attached to them. But you held your ground and accepted the outcome of your choices. Even though it was very frustrating for you.”
Of course, it was a test to see where her limits were. Taking a deep exhale, “Yes, I suspected something like that in the end. I hope I didn’t fail you in this result.”
The Caitian smiled with his wickers going up. “You passed your exam, congratulations” The Caitian saw a stunned young girl hearing the results as her friend cheered for her. With that, he nodded to them and left the conversation.