uhura: fierce

Fic: Command Decisions (Uhura, gen)

Title: Command Decisions
Author: igrockspock
Characters: Uhura, McCoy, Kirk
Summary: Uhura didn't sign on to be a soldier or a killer. That's not going to stop her from getting her captain back.
Rating: PG-13 for violence
Notes: This is a sort of remix of Invictus, a Number One fic I wrote with the same scenario. I was curious what it would have been like with Uhura as the main character.

Uhura braces the phaser rifle awkwardly against her shoulder. Her left hand aches where it's been gripping the trigger; her right arm shakes beneath the unfamiliar weight of the barrel.

Six men lie dead in front of her, each with a neat black hole on the left side of their chests. Six men, six shots. Even in battle, she is precise. She stares at each of the dead in turn. Her sense of self-preservation is strong enough that she doesn't study their faces or imagine their stories, but she still doesn't know how to look at a dead body and congratulate herself on a job well done. Suddenly, she misses the captain. She needs him here now to make her heart believe what her mind already knows: if she's alive, she did the right thing. No matter how she did it.

Instead, she slumps a little against the cool rock wall behind her and concentrates on the sounds inside the cave: the steady, reassuring beep of heart monitors, the hiss of a hypospray, McCoy's muffled words of encouragement to the three lieutenants lying on the floor. Mentally, she inventories what she knows about them: Hannity, 26, raised on a research station on Titan. Melendez, 32, talked the galley staff into letting her cook mole for the crew on special occasions. Smith...she fumbles for a fact, but there are lots of Smiths on the ship, and she can't think of anything she knows about him for sure. Still, it's enough. They're just as human as the men she killed, just as deserving of a chance at life.

"You okay up there?"

McCoy's voice is soft, and she can only see him in her peripheral vision. He is following her orders, keeping his voice low and staying away from the entrance of the cave. She finds that almost more comforting than his words of concern.

She props the barrel of the rifle more securely against the rock to give her arms a rest and lets out a long, slow breath.

"I'm okay enough to get the job done."

"I don't doubt it."

"I know." Her voice is soft too. It will have to stand in for the look of understanding that would have passed between them if she weren't too afraid to take her eyes off the jungle ahead.

She expects him to retreat back to his patients then, but instead he says, "Life signs 2 kilometers west and headed toward us. Thought you should know."

She pulls herself straighter and wraps her hand more securely around the trigger.

"Thanks." She's been with Spock long enough to know how to keep the tiredness out of her voice. He's known her long enough to hear it anyway. In a flash, he leans across the space between them to squeeze her shoulder, and she looks up at his lopsided grin with gratitude in her eyes.

"Back to the cave now," she orders, voice mock-stern.

"Aye-aye, sir."

Her eyes are already back on the jungle by the time he's gone.

In the dim light, she makes out two shadowy shapes slouching through the underbrush. For a second, she's grateful there are only two of them, but her stomach plunges a second later. The mercenaries they've been fighting all day are trained soldiers; they would know better than to approach directly unless they expected to win the fight easily. Her best shot is to take them out now, even though they're at the very edge of her range.

Moving slowly, she braces her back against the wall for stability before she rises to one knee to get a better position. Reluctantly, she pulls the scope to her eye; using the laser is a risk, but she can't target accurately from this distance without it. Her mind goes blank, the target lock clicks from red to green, her trigger finger twitches...

"Don't shoot!" a ragged voice calls from between the trees.

Shit. They'd seen the laser. She crouches low to the ground, then slithers onto her belly, all without taking her finger off the trigger. Battlefield survival 101: limit your exposure. The captain would be proud. If they ever figure out where the mercenaries are hiding him.

The thick vegetation parts and two figures emerge. Both are dressed in black. One is so battered and bloody she can barely tell he's human. The other, behind him, wears the same jacket as the mercenaries she's just killed. He holds a phaser to his captive's head.

"I've got your captain," the mercenary calls, and only when Jim's blue eyes meet hers does she believe it's really him.

"Give yourselves up quietly, and I'll spare his life."

"Don't do it, Uhur--"

The mercenary cuts him off with a sharp punch to his already-swollen mouth, and Uhura clenches her fingers around the trigger, waiting to take advantage of any opening during the fight she's sure will come. But it doesn't. Jim just stands there, looking faintly dazed, leaking blood from between his lips. She can see now that he wouldn't even be standing if the mercenary hadn't wrapped an arm around his neck, and that terrifies her more than anything else she's seen that day.

"What do you say?" The mercenary's voice is low and gravelly. He thumbs the safety on his phaser as he speaks.

Uhura watches the captain sway on his feet. She is in this alone.

"Kill him!" she shouts and hopes to god he doesn't take her up on the offer. But he won't, he can't. It doesn't make sense; Kirk is far more valuable alive than dead, and she doubts there's a mercenary in the galaxy who doesn't know that. Of course, she has to convince the mercenary that she knows that too. That means she keeps her face cool and still even when he jams the phaser harder into Kirk's head.

"Do you think I'm a fool?" She raises a single eyebrow. "If I surrender, you'll take us all, captain included."

"He fought for you. We tortured him for hours, but he never gave you away. And you're going to let him die?"

"Better him than me."

She thinks she sees the captain smirk through his swollen lips.

The mercenary hesitates. She congratulates herself for catching him off guard and presses her advantage.

"If you kill him, you'll lose your hostage, and I'll still have my rifle. I'll shoot you before his body even hits the ground."

The words feel strange in her mouth. She has fought and killed before, but she doesn't bluster, doesn't make threats. The deaths to her name have been quick ones, people shot in the heat of battle before she had time to think. Not like this, looking a man in the eye and telling him that she'll kill him. But she would, for the captain...if she could only figure out how. There's a tunnel that leads to the roof of the cave, and if she could get there, she's certain she could shoot the mercenary even with the captain in front of him. But to do that, she'd have to stand up, and even assuming she doesn't get shot then, her best case scenario means leaving the entrance unprotected.

McCoy's soft footfalls echo in the passage behind her, and a small ray of hope pierces her heart. She finds her spare phaser with her foot and kicks it toward him.

"All right, have it your way!" The mercenary wraps his fingers around one of the captain's and bends it back until it snaps. Jim doesn't cry out; that much she had expected. What she can barely stomach is the way he curls into the pain, his shoulders and back hunching forward as if he would slump to the ground in a ball if he could.

Uhura risks turning her head toward McCoy, who holds the phaser in his hand uncomprehendingly.

"It's Jim," she whispers. "You have to."

"Dammit, Uhura, I haven't shot one of these things since the academy. I'm a doctor, not a -- "

"You know what? I'm not a marksman, a killer, or a soldier either, but right now I have to be all three. And I'm also the captain, and that makes you whoever or whatever I need you to be."

She looks away from him then, unwilling to turn her eyes away from the mercenary for too long. His fingers have curled around another one of Jim's, but he hasn't broken it yet. He is testing her, waiting for her resolve to crumble. It won't.

Another sickening crack breaks through the air. Uhura wants to look away but doesn't. With her eyes, she promises, I will let you suffer anything to keep your crew safe.

She prods McCoy's gently leg with her toe. With her eyes, she promises, we will do whatever we have to to get Jim back alive.

"You can do this, Doctor," she whispers. Both of them look at Jim together. The doubt doesn't leave his face, but he shoves the gun in the holster where his tricorder belongs and goes.

Uhura counts the seconds. 60 for McCoy to reach the tunnel, 120 for him to slither through it. How long to crawl across the roof of the cave and fire? 120? 360? More? Another one of Jim's fingers breaks.

When she reaches 700, a red dot appears at the top of the mercenary's forehead. It wavers unsteadily, weaving for a second across the top of Jim's blond hair. Please, she whispers. The dot steadies. Uhura bites her lip and tastes blood. A phaser whines above her, and Jim's eyes lock on hers. Please, please, please, she whispers. A red bolt streaks through the air. The mercenary falls to the ground.

Uhura rises on unsteady legs to retrieve her captain.
Oof, I think that was graphic enough for me. *winces*

Uhura is very awesome in this, and so is Bones.
Oh, interesting to see the differences! I liked that her helper was McCoy in this scenario and how her thoughts compared to Number One's.
Thank you! I imagined that she would be just as cool and collected on the outside, but a bit more rattled on the interior.
Oh, oh *shivers*. That was just awesome. I love the way Uhura comes through.
"You know what? I'm not a marksman, a killer, or a soldier either, but right now I have to be all three. And I'm also the captain, and that makes you whoever or whatever I need you to be." I love this Badass Uhura!
In lieu of sensible commentary, I give you my first reaction:

This is a cracking story, love that you'bve given enough details to make it something I can visualise but not too much to distract from the story.

This is in character and you've maintained the tention throughout.

Your Uhura is amazing (so is Bones and Kirk) but I love your Uhura

Thank you!
Thank you! I'm glad you felt like there was tension -- it's such a hard thing to gauge when you're writing since you obviously know how the story will end.
It is interesting to see the differences between this and your original piece. I like both very much. I am very intrigued by the idea that Number One and Uhura are similar enough to react with the same precision and grace (literally) under fire. This is obviously true to me ... now. I hadn't really made the connection before.

Very thought-provoking, fabulously well-written work!

I guess that it does make sense for them to be similar. After the changes from the original TOS pilot, Spock was supposed to take on Number One's emotionless characteristics. Then, when they cast Uhura, they told Nichelle Nichols to imagine herself as Spock, except female and a bit more human. It's a whole big chain!
I will let you suffer anything to keep your crew safe.

I feel that this understanding is essentially true of Jim and his crew, and any story, any charaterization, that fails to recognize that, is lacking something.

Evidently this story is not in any way lacking. :)
Phew! I was so worried about that line that I almost cut it out. To me, that's an essential part of Jim's character. He's not standing there thinking "please save me;" he's thinking "please let me do this for my crew." I'm so glad that makes sense to at least one other person!