Fan Fiction: Heart of Glory, heart of nothing [Part 2]
Worf asked Data if it were possible for an Ensign on a starship to use some kind of drug or stimulant to enhance his reflexes or strategic thinking.
‘It is possible for a human to improve his or her reflexes by a percentage of 21% if the correct combination of stimulants is injected. Why do you ask?
‘Ensign Noriega is using drugs to fight.’
‘Do you not agree?’
‘It is impossible to state with any certainty as I have no access to the Ensign’s medical or psychological files.’
‘I can state it with perfect certainty. It’s the only possible explanation.’
‘That is incorrect. There are seven other plausible ways in which the Ensign could have overcome you in combat. Would you like me to list them?’
Worf didn’t answer.
‘One, the Ensign has superior combat skills. Two, the Ensign has a broader knowledge of other combat methods. Three, the Ensign…’
‘No,’ shouted Worf, drawing the attention of nearby crew members.
‘It is drugs, I’m sure of it,’ said Worf, lowering his tone.
‘That was number seven on my list,’ replied Data.
Worf went to sickbay and asked Dr. Crusher if Ensign Noriega had been prescribed any medication since he’d come on board.
Crusher said no.
‘Are you sure?’
Crusher said yes.
Crusher said he could’ve got them from Troi as she was also authorised to prescribe drugs and shit.
Worf cornered Troi in a turbolift and asked her the same thing he’d asked Crusher.
‘Worf, I can’t discuss my patients, you know that.’
‘But…I only want to know if he’s taking stimulants…’
Troi breathed out melodramatically. If Worf had been less riled up, he probably would’ve called her on it, but he wasn’t, he was extremely riled up, so he asked her the same question again.
‘Worf, can I ask you a question?’
‘Is this because Ensign Noriega beat you at combat?’
‘What? No. That is ridiculous.’
‘He didn’t beat me, he cheated. He…there was no honour in the way he fought. He fights using tricks and misdirection.’
‘But even after you knew this, he still won…isn’t that right?’
‘No. It’s…he had new tricks every time.’ Worf formed a fist and thought about hitting the turbolift wall, but reined himself in. ‘How can I fight a man who uses deception as a strategy?’
‘I think you know the answer to that.’
‘Perhaps you would be kind enough to spell it out for me?’
‘Okay, Worf. The way to beat this Ensign is clearly to use the same tactics against him.’
‘But that would be…’ Worf briefly remembered his attempt to feign injury and drag Noriega to the floor. ‘…dishonourable.’
‘Come on, Worf. Isn’t there some part of you that admires his methods?’
Worf did a face he knew well. Offended.
‘There is not.’
‘Really? Not even a little part…’
After returning to his quarters and staring at all the Klingon weapons on the wall for a few hours, Worf decided that the only way to deal with this whole thing was to re-assert his authority.
This Ensign may be adept at combat, he thought, but he’s still an Ensign. And he still has to take orders from his superiors.
For the next weeks, time passed very, very slowly for Ensign Noriega.
Worf banned him from attending combat training and from taking part in security drills. In fact, any duty that involved action of any kind was denied him.
Instead, he was told to check the ship’s database. There was nothing specific wrong with it, not that he could see anyway, but there might be. Those were Worf’s exact words. There might be security risks we have not detected.
But there weren’t. Clearly there weren’t. If there were…if there was even the slightest suspicion of a security risk, they wouldn’t have a simple Ensign checking it on his own.
Ah well, thought Noriega. As I’m here…
Noriega hadn’t put this on his Starfleet application, but he was actually pretty good with computers. Not technical stuff, or theoretical stuff, but he was a decent hacker. And as he was alone in one of the terminal rooms, with the ship’s database in front of him…
The performance reports came up on the screen. He scanned through, thinking of picking out the senior officers, but then talked himself down, figuring it’d take too long to hack into them. No, it would have to be the other Ensigns.
The problem was…they weren’t very interesting. All Ensigns were the same, too controlled, too methodical, none of them taking any kind of risk or showing any weakness.
He clicked through twenty…thirty reports before he came to something a little bit different.
‘Ah, the exception,’ he muttered to himself.
Ensign Dickie, Jane
Has performed adequately, but tends to hide behind others. According to most senior crew members, she is systematically shy – the problem is she won’t speak up whenever there’s more than one other crew member around.
Suggestions – the root of the problem, according to Counsellor Troi, is a self-erected division of public and private arenas. She will occasionally talk to other ensigns in Ten Forward, but once on duty, among senior officers, she reverts to her public, shy persona. Therefore, it is possible that socialising with higher ranking officers in Ten Forward will help to cure her.
Noriega shook his head. Shy people…he just didn’t get them. Why shit yourself, it’s just other people. It’s not like they’re any better than you.
Then he counter-thought. That’s my view, but what about this…Jane Dickie? What’s going on in her head clearly isn’t the same thing going on in mine. Is it?
It was hard for Noriega to reason it out. The only person he knew was himself. And the only thing he knew about other people were their weaknesses.
He kept thinking it over. And he had plenty of time to do it. No-one was coming in to check on him and there was the whole database still to do.
And when that was done, there was more. The cargo bays. For some reason, Worf the merciless wanted him to check them for beta radiation or something. He wasn’t sure why he was the one who had to do it. Surely if beta radiation was involved they’d want it done immediately, not…whenever it was he’d finish this damn database.
Damn that Klingon, thought Noriega. He’s only doing it because I beat him. How petty is that?
He clicked onto the next performance report, skimmed through it and yawned.
Well, just wait till I shed this rank, Klingon…then we’ll see.
Worf still wasn’t happy. Or focused.
Worf blinked and realised the rest of the Bridge crew was staring at him. Well, the four in front of him anyway.
‘Can you launch the probe, Mr. Worf?’
‘Yes, the probe we’re sending into the nebula.’
Worf looked at the console below him and saw his finger hovering over the button that launched probes. Ah, the probe…
‘Yes, Sir.’ Worf pressed the button. On the view-screen, the probe flew away from the ship towards the huge green cloud about 100,000 kilometres ahead of them. ‘Sorry, Sir. I don’t know what happened.’
Picard looked at Riker then back at Worf. ‘Perhaps you should go to sickbay?’
‘No, Sir. I’m fine.’
‘Then you were daydreaming, Lieutenant?’
‘No, I was…’ Worf stopped. The Captain was right, he had been daydreaming. ‘It won’t happen again, Captain.’
‘I hope not.’
The Captain returned to his seat and continued staring aimlessly at the nebula. Riker and the others did the same.
That damn Ensign, thought Worf. What is he doing to me?
‘Worf, are you okay?’
It was another voice, a softer one. Tasha.
‘What were you dreaming about?’ she asked, smirking. She was pretty casual for a superior officer.
‘Combat,’ replied Worf, not really thinking about his answer.
Tasha laughed. ‘How to beat that new Ensign?’
‘What? No.’ Worf studied her, looking for the words written on her face that would show him who had told her. Empty. No words there. ‘Who told you about that?’
‘Worf, I read the reports…it’s no disgrace, he’s beaten everyone. I even called the academy and they confirmed it. He’s the best they’ve ever seen. Almost like a machine.’ She paused, looking forward. ‘You know, maybe he could even take Data…what do you think?’
Worf frowned, thought about growling too, but didn’t. It wasn’t professional to growl on the bridge. That kind of thing had to be saved for the holodeck.
‘He is arrogant…and he fights without honour.’
‘Yeah, I heard that too. But still…’
Tasha drifted back to one of the consoles at the back of the bridge and Worf looked at the view-screen. The nebula was still there, floating like space smoke with no job.
A machine, thought Worf, his eyes lost in the nebula. Almost like a machine…
Worf cornered Counsellor Troi again, this time in a Jeffries tube. He didn’t stop to wonder what she was doing there, he just wanted her to do one thing for him.
‘No, Worf. That’s unethical.’ Troi crawled away from him, heading towards the nearest exit. ‘I won’t do it.’
Worf crawled after her, following her out of the exit and down one of the long ladders that no-one ever climbed down.
‘Counsellor, you don’t understand. It’s the only way to prove it.’
‘Prove what? That he’s a machine?’
‘Worf…I think it might be a good idea if you came to see me this week. It’s been a while since your last review.’
‘Me? Counsellor, I am not the one who needs to be seen.’
‘Aren’t you?’ Troi stared at Worf. She’d never really noticed before, but Worf’s eyebrows were super-pointy at the tips. ‘You’re the one who seems to think Ensign Noriega is a machine…simply because he’s adept at combat.’
‘But…he’s not adept, he’s cheating!’ Worf shouted. They were off the ladder and in the corridor near holodeck three, and one or two of the crew were watching. Worf shrugged. Had they never heard a raised voice before?
‘Listen, Worf. I’m not going to do the test on Ensign Noriega. And I really think you should come and see me as soon as possible.’
Worf turned to walk away, but Troi called him back.
‘If you don’t want to see me, there is another way.’
‘Talk to him, Worf. Ask him about his background, his past…get to know him and then maybe…’
Worf nodded before she could finish, and walked off. It was probably a little rude, but it didn’t matter, he’d understood what she was saying.
Talk to him, Worf.
Yes, talk to him. Question him. Expose him.
To be continued…