On Vanguard, station commander Commodore Diego Reyes drops in on a staff meeting and then has an argument with JAG officer Rana Desai over dilithium mining rights on a nearby colony. Journalist Tim Pennington interviews Federation Ambassador Jetanien. Dr. Ezekiel Fisher watches a rugby match with younger colleague Dr. M'Benga, whom he hopes will be his successor when he retires. Diplomatic attache Anna Sandesjo meets with her boss, Jetanien, discussing, among other things, how weird the Tholians have been acting, before reporting to her other boss, Imperial Intelligence officer Turag; Sandesjo is a Klingon spy.
This chapter is all about introducing us to the characters living on Vanguard, as well as the station itself. Not to sound like a broken record, but this is done very well.
I'm not sure what I think of Reyes yet. He seemed likable enough, but I was firmly on the JAG captain's side during their argument.
Tim Pennington. Well, he must do something pretty spectacular somehow, since he gets a writing school named in his honor, but for all his ambition, he may not be the best reporter? I mean, he just abandoned his interview when the Bombay came in because...well, that's for the next chapter
Dr. Fisher. Eh. Not much of an impression, to be honest. Does M'benga know he's being groomed to take over? Come on.
Sandesjo/LurQal was, naturally enough, the most interesting here. A spy! And she seems to hate both Jetanien and Turag, so who knows what's going to happen there. Something I wondered about, Turag is with the Klingon delagation to Vanguard, right. He's on the station. Given Sandesjo's concern over her communicator being tracked, wouldn't it make sense for them to meet in person? Or is it a bigger risk for them to be seen together? I wonder. I mean, someone's going to track those messages, right?
Tim Pennington's tryst with Bombay helm officer Oriana D'Amato is interrupted when the Enterprise docks - with D'Amato's husband aboard. Oriana leaves her overnight bag with Pennington, so her friend can collect it later and put it in her storage locker, so as not to arouse Robert D'Amato's suspicions. Jealous Pennington spies on the couple, then gets a terse message from his editor and decides to go searching for a story among the ship's enlisted personnel. Reyes tells Bombay captain Hallie Gannon that her ship needs to make a run out to Ravanar IV (among its many other duties) as soon as possible. Gannon agrees to cancel her crew's shore leave and push the schedule enough to leave in 16 hours. The two friends muse on how they can't imagine anyone but Pike in command of the Enterprise, especially some "young hotshot." The young hotshot, meanwhile, has become even more suspicious of the whole Vanguard set up and meets with Reyes, a meeting that has the commodore slapping down the captain a bit, though Kirk gets the last word. Just prior, Reyes also meets with Jetanien, Lt. Cmdr. T'Prynn, and Lt. Xiong about the latter's findings on Ravanar (which an annoyed Reyes declares to be "inclusive" but Xiong considers "preliminary"). The four also discuss the security breach, which T'Prynn (correctly) considers a botched robbery and not espionage, though Jetanien doesn't seem convinced.
Well, that was a lot. Interesting that the big reveal of chapter five - the Klingon spy - isn't even mentioned here, though it does provide a little dollop of irony that Ambassador Jetanien sees espionage where it doesn't exist and is oblivious to the spy on his staff. And T'Prynn - I assume is the lesbian Vulcan I've heard about? Not that that's revealed or relevant here, though I'm not sure what her job is - Security?
There was a lot of amusing talk about uniforms here, especially the minidresses for women. Oriana is not a fan. Kirk, to the surprise of exactly no one, is. I'm glad to see some gentle poking-of-fun, because those things are RIDICULOUS. And I know the arguments; 60's sensibilities, sexual revolution, Nichelle Nichols and Majel Barret loved them, blah, blah, blah. They're cute and look good provided you have the figure for them (which I don't, damn it all), but as uniforms? Yeah, ridiculous.
Speaking of Oriana, I'm not sure what I think of the affair with Pennington. I'm certainly not clutching my pearls, but something seems, I don't know, weird. I do feel bad for Pennington, he's an emotional person and it seems he's invested more into this relationship. He's in love and I'm not sure Oriana is. We only ever see her through his eyes, and he might be projecting...whatever onto her. You know, that might be what's off to me. We don't get inside Oriana's head at any point. I wonder if that will change. I also wonder what trouble that overnight bag will cause.
The verdict's in: I like Reyes. (Watch him turn out to be evil now.) The line, "you think I'm a paper-pusher, don't you, Kirk" got me there. Not because I dislike Kirk, because I don't, but because I like Reye for not just deferring to his Kirkness. Which of course would make no sense in-story, he's not "Captain James T. Kirk" yet, he's the young hotshot (hee!) recently put in command of Pike's ship. Reyes had the upper hand in that meeting and Kirk, no dummy, knew it and kept his temper. I thought they both came off well.