Title: The Photon Torpedo
Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Beta Reader(s): Caz and Sandsofvulcan
Codes: Saa (Saavik)
Rating: PG (Mild language)
Summary: Saavik's first experience playing baseball at Starfleet Academy
Side Notes: A couple of scenes from "The Pandora Principle" hinted that Saavik pitched her first perfect baseball game at the Academy and earned a nickname, "The Photon Torpedo", from her classmates. Parts of the two scenes are laid out differently as references to "The Pandora Principle".
Disclaimer: The characters, scenes and anything pertaining to the name of Star Trek and its series, used as references for this story, belong to Viacom and Paramount, not the Borg or Bill Gates. I do this for pure and illogical 'fun'.
Archive: Anywhere, but please let me know via email and/or message boards
Spring bloomed everywhere as a warm breeze swept gently across the campus of Starfleet Academy. Green leaves drooped on the trees that dotted the grounds and flowers opened into brilliant displays of color. The bright yellow sun shone in the blue dome of the sky as a few wisps of white cloud rolled slowly across the horizon. Young cadets lounged lazily in the shade of their favorite trees, talking and smiling with their friends. A few strollers ventured off the concrete paths toward the playing field nearby where a ball game evoked a lot of excited shouting and a flurry of activity.
Saavik emerged into the warm weather from the Registrar's Office, taking in the signs of spring blooming throughout the Academy grounds with interest. Her eyes panned the cadets scattered in groups beneath the trees and then toward the playing field in the distance. She had heard two phrases used by her fellow classmates, "I got spring fever." and "We're gonna grab our gloves and toss a few balls after class. Wanna come?" Those two phrases had been peppered around the campus since the first sign of flowers appeared along the network of concrete sidewalks. She made mental notes to research the phrases on her personal computer later.
Her sensitive hearing picked up on the excitement drifting toward her from the playing field. A bunch of people, their uniforms dusty and loosened, scattered the field thick, brown gloves covering their hands, watched on the sidelines by a scattering of human cadets.
Two female students scurried past Saavik, one exclaiming to the other in a breathless tone, ”Let’s grab a seat in the bleachers and watch the cute boys!”
The ‘cute boys’ turned out to be the male cadets dotting the playing field. She quickly figured out what ‘bleachers’ meant after following the two female cadets to the five tiers of wooden planks nailed to a large frame where they joined a larger group of observers who sat watching the game in progress.
Curious, Saavik took a seat in the first row, watching the cadets who wore the strange gloves. Her sensitive hearing picked up on the players’ friendly taunts as she studied the grassy playing area with intense interest.
Her sharp eyes noted the field was divided into two oddly shaped areas. The outer section of grass surrounded the inner diamond-shaped area of dirt. Four young men peppered the outer grassy field, watching the activity in the inner dirt diamond intensely. Four more players hovered near three white squares just inside the inner diamond. Someone made smacking sounds to Saavik’s left as a hefty man crouched behind a flat, white diamond-shaped object that seemed to be stuck to the ground. A skinny cadet barely stood a foot away from the crouching male, gripping a wooden stick about a meter long in his hands. He was watching a thin male student stand atop a small mound of dirt in the middle of the inner diamond. Saavik followed the skinny cadet’s gaze toward the figure atop a small mound of dirt in the middle of the inner dirt-filled diamond. He was winding through a series of strange moves, something white peeking out of his hand.
Something flew through the air. It was a small, white, ball Saavik observed. A loud crack erupted as the skinny cadet struck it with the wooden baton he carried. It looked remarkably similar to the one she had seen in the self-defense class she had attended a month before and she wondered curiously why he should want to do such a thing. The reaction from the spectators in the top row of the bleachers came as a further surprise as they started to cheer wildly. It was hardly logical, she thought, one winged brow shooting upward, as she twisted quickly in her seat to study them.
She turned back to the field as feet pounded the ground nearby. The same skinny cadet ran furiously down the white line to the first white base right in front of her.
She assumed ‘Safe’ was a signal to let everyone know the skinny cadet wasn’t harmed when he reached the first white base. The cadet looked up directly at the spectators with a broad grin, dusting off his trousers while Saavik observed the ongoing game with intense interest.
A few players in the inner diamond of dirt groaned. A slightly short kid, in loosened jacket and dusty pants, dejectedly looked down at something in the oddly-shaped glove he wore on one hand for a second before he finally tossed it to the thin figure on the mound of dirt centering the dusty brown area of dirt. It was the white ball she had seen earlier. The purpose of the game seemed to involve striking the ball with the baton and running to the base. Saavik’s curiosity grew. She wondered what else the players were going to do in their strange, but interesting game.
'Hurling a ball-- Swinging a baton-- Illogical game-- Indeed', Saavik continued to watch the irrationally fascinating game in play. Before she left for Starfleet Academy, Spock had told her to choose a subject involving idioms and emotions. He said humans were perfect examples for her to observe their interactions. The humans seemed to display plenty of emotion and strange language on the playing field.
"Baaatttt baaaatttta baaaaatttttaaa-", four of the players taunted from what appeared to be defensive positions in the outer field of freshly mowed grass. Saavik watched as the remaining four figures shifted into better positions near the white squares inside the dusty area when a new cadet stepped forward to the white, diamond-shaped plate with his wooden baton.
"C'mon!! Use that bat to slam that ball outta here", somebody shouted from somewhere above Saavik as she turned halfway in her seat to look up at a group of spectators perched at the top of the bleachers. Again an upswept eyebrow shot up curiously. She made a further mental note to consult her personal computer and look up the meaning of 'slam' later. Saavik had no trouble relating the term ’ball’ to the white, rounded object peeking out of the lanky figure’s hand as he winded through a series of bizarre moves atop the mound of dirt in the inner diamond. She also had a vague idea the term ’bat’ referred to the strange baton the new cadet wielded in his hands.
‘Bat¼ Is that what the baton is called? Indeed’, Saavik glanced at the next cadet gripping the baton called ‘bat’ by the hefty man crouching behind the diamond-shaped base.
Saavik turned in time to see a young and fairly built man rise from his crouching position behind the white, diamond-shaped base, taking the ball out of his mitt. He flicked the ball back to the thin boy in the middle of the brown diamond who seemed to be the center of attention. "Don't be a sissy! You can do it!"
A loud commotion erupted. The skinny cadet, who made it to the first white base straight down the white line from the current cadet holding his bat at the diamond-shaped base, was already making a mad dash for the second white base after the crouching human dropped the ball behind his feet. The thin kid ran down from the mound of dirt in the middle of the brown diamond to block the skinny cadet from reaching the second base. Several people started screaming behind Saavik and across the playing field as she watched the hefty cadet frantically search for the ball in the back of the diamond-shaped base.
“Get that ball to second base!! C’mon, he’s sliding into second base!”
“The catcher’s blind!! The ball is right there!!”
“No! Oh man!!”
A cloud of dust erupted as the skinny cadet swiftly slid into the ground, his feet touching the second white object wedged into the ground. A variety of reactions from the recent event involved disappointed glares at the hefty kid called the ‘catcher‘, disgusted groans and explicit gestures at no one in general.
"Yeah!! Minsky stole second base", somebody cheered excitedly again from somewhere behind Saavik.
'Stole second base? But he is not running away with that thing', she studied the skinny cadet dusting off his black pants with a big grin on his face. She continued to watch him carefully to see if he would pick up the second white base in the dusty ground and take off with it somewhere. But the cadet didn't 'steal second base' and run off the playing field, much to Saavik's disappointment. The game was too fascinating, and Saavik already had a lot of questions forming in her mind. She definitely wanted to try hurling that ball, remembering the old feeling of pleasure she got from throwing her knife as a child on Hellguard.
"Excuse me. If I may", Saavik murmured quietly to the student sitting behind her, a hint of puzzlement in her voice, nodding toward the skinny cadet inching away from the second white object just past and to the right of the mound of dirt in the inner diamond. He was intent on watching the ball fly toward the crouching human called the ‘catcher‘. . "Why is it called 'stealing second base'? The one called ‘Minsky’ has not stolen it at all.”
"Uh... I guess 'stealing second base' is sort of like a challenge to see... if he can get to second base without anyone noticing him. You just saw Minsky do that just now. In baseball, no one physically picks up those bases and runs away somewhere with them ", a spectator replied hesitantly, glancing at his friends for confirmation. They nodded approvingly in return.
Saavik, satisfied with the answer, nodded once in gratitude before she turned her attention to the game called ‘base-ball‘. She was briefly disappointed that the term ‘stealing second base’ was not about picking up the second white object from the ground and running off the playing field with it. Saavik wondered if ‘base-ball’ would’ve been more interesting if participants were actually allowed to, but she dropped that thought with a slight shake of her head.
'Baseball... Indeed. ‘Minsky’ seemed to be a term used to describe a person running from one white base to the next white base. I counted four white bases in that dirt area. He came to this base and then went to that base called ‘second base’ in a numerical order. That must be ‘third base’ over there-- Ah, the strange diamond thing must be¼ No, that is illogical. The numerical order of the white things are out of place--’ Saavik studied the four white objects, one shaped like a diamond and three shaped like squares, stuck into the dirt of the inner diamond in confusion.
“What?” The same spectator glanced down at her again, taking his attention from the game.
“What are those white squares called? The ‘Minsky’ ran to this one and then ‘stole second base’ there. Theoretically, the game should begin at that white thing with the ‘Minsky’ wielding the bat. Why is that white ‘second base’ called ‘second base’ if the diamond base is theoretically the first base to strike the ball from?”
Some of the human spectators rolled their eyes and appeared to groan silently as if to say, Vulcan’s and their questions…
“Minsky is that cadet’s last name. You saw him hit the ball there earlier. He‘s the batter at the diamond plate called home plate. He hit the ball and ran to first base. It‘s that one there, right in front of that group of players. He then ran to second base. That‘s where Minsky stole second base. You see him edging toward that white base there? That‘s third base. Home plate is the final base to touch for a run¼ to score for the team using the bat at the moment”, the spectator pointed to where the crouching human hovered behind the diamond base called ‘home plate’, then the ‘first base’ Saavik first saw Minsky run to after striking the ball, the ‘second base’ where she had seen Minsky slide across the dirt with his feet sticking out, then at ‘third base’ where the same skinny cadet was poised to run toward to and finally ‘home plate’.
‘Ah, strange names for those white things on the ground and humans¼ Illogical but fascinating’, Saavik thought silently. She made a note to herself to study the game on her personal computer when she returned to her dorm later in the evening. Despite the information from the other cadet, she had not really understood the dynamics of the illogically fascinating game called ‘base-ball’, but she saw how much the participants were having fun in the playing field.
“Thank you”, she nodded once more toward the spectator sitting above her in the bleachers. She turned her attention to the game of ball and bat her human peers called ‘base-ball’.
Saavik could not sit still and watch the humans have fun with ‘base-ball‘ after several minutes. She felt an urge to hurl the ball which continued to fascinate her as her sharp eyes picked up the slight variations in pitch and speed in each attempt the skinny kid made from the mound of dirt in the inner diamond. The ball seemed to evoke a variety of reactions from a succession of cadets wielding the same bat at the ‘home plate‘. The ‘catcher‘ hovered in a crouching position, punching the thick glove that covered only of his hands.
The ball flew too high, forcing the ‘catcher’ to jump up into the air and snap the object out of the air with his glove.
“Oh God, the pitcher is terrible at throwing!!!”
“He can’t find that home plate even with the long-range sensor on a freaking starship”, somebody commented sarcastically behind Saavik. She glanced at the disappointed group of spectators sitting high above her in the bleachers. Her mind quickly made a mental note to look up ‘freaking’ once she returned to her dorm room.
‘So that cadet in the middle of that dirt area is called ‘pitcher’. It was an Interesting term to describe the bizarre act of hurling the ball to the one called ‘catcher’. It did not seem logical to call that ‘home plate’. Why should it be called ‘home’? Or ‘plate’? Indeed’, Saavik observed the ‘catcher’ throwing the ball back to the ‘pitcher’ standing on the mound in the middle of the brown diamond of dirt.
“Get that blind pitcher off the mound!”
Saavik’s eyebrow shot up out of curiosity. The ‘pitcher’ was obviously having no trouble with his eyes as he glanced at the spectators sitting behind her in the bleachers. He had a scowl on his face.
“Throw him out”, someone shouted down at the group of cadets standing near the dirt diamond.
Her glance ventured to one of the two humans who seemed to be running a group of players from the sidelines in front of her. He didn't look too happy when the ‘pitcher’ threw terribly from the dirt mound in the brown diamond. She slid silently off her seat to approach the human who cursed at no one in general. She desperately wanted to throw that ball. In fact she was frantic….
"Excuse me", said Saavik, pointing toward the terrible ‘pitcher‘, " May I throw the … ball?"
"You goin' for the team?" The young cadet with pink blotchy skin looked back at Saavik warily. The other human, who seemed to be the assistant, groaned as he buried his face in his hands. Saavik wasn't sure what 'The Team' meant, but if he was inquiring about throwing the ball across the ‘home plate‘, she nodded," Yes."
The brown-skinned cadet looked up sharply and exclaimed," What?? You crazy or somethin'?"
"Joe", the pink human swiftly kicked his friend and then turned back to Saavik," Sure, you'll get a chance. Name?"
"Saavik, with two a-letters. May I request your names?"
"Uh, I'm Tommy", the pink-skinned cadet replied, then he nodded toward his friend," This is Joe. Joe, you want me to catch this one?"
'Catch? Why would he want to ‘catch’ me', Saavik's eyebrow shot up in alarm. She didn't want him to 'catch' her. She wanted him to stay where he was and watch her throw the ball. The latter seemed like a logical thing for the human called Tommy to do, Saavik thought.
"Nah. I'll catch her", the brown-skinned human called Joe shook his head. Saavik tensed. She was prepared to run if the other one attempted to 'catch' her. But he was walking away from her, heading across the white line drawn from the ‘home plate’ to the ‘first base‘. Saavik glanced at Tommy who motioned her to follow Joe out to the mound in the middle of the brown, dusty diamond. She didn't feel comfortable with the slang 'catch', but Saavik already crossed the dirt area to join Joe and the cadet on the mound. The ‘pitcher’ didn't look too happy about something Joe said to him, his brown hands gestured toward Saavik as she joined them atop the mound.
Saavik stood atop the mound, feeling the smooth ball in her hand. The spectators watched pensively from behind ‘The Teams‘, leaning forward on their seats in the bleachers. She flicked her glance at ‘The Other Team‘, their faces studious and silent. Everything seemed to be at a standstill while she hefted the ball in her hand, a familiar feeling returning from an old memory as she judged the distance to Joe's borrowed glove covering one of his hands.
"You ready? C'mon, we haven't got all day", Joe called from behind the ‘home plate‘, crouching as he tapped the inside of his glove so that Saavik could target the ball.
"I am ready", she replied and threw the ball.
Joe was on his back before anyone even saw the ball coming, groaning as Saavik looked on in alarm. The ball hit its target perfectly. Cheers erupted as a few cadets quickly converged on Joe, asking him if he was all right.
"Are you injured", Saavik inquired cautiously from the mound. Joe looked back at her with a huge smile spreading across his brown face. Her inquiry evoked an eruption of laughter.
"Hot damn", Joe exclaimed appreciatively, rubbing his hand gingerly from the powerful impact of Saavik's pitch slamming into his thick glove. Saavik wondered why he was grinning after she flattened him on his back with her first pitch. Her eyebrow shot up curiously. She shook her head, thinking the human called Joe was probably delirious after she threw the ball at his glove.
'Humans are so illogical...', she thought to herself when a hefty cadet called Koji lumbered out to take Joe's place behind the ’home plate‘. She already received the ball before, and now she watched the ’batter’, she later learned what the person wielding the bat was called, nervously come up to the ‘home plate’ with a bat in his hands. Saavik felt warm with exhilaration from hurling the ball across the ‘home plate’ earlier. Positive reactions from the humans gave her a small understanding of what ‘base-ball’ was about to a degree. She still needed to research ‘base-ball’ on her personal computer later to fully understand the tactics the humans used in the playing field.
While Tommy and Joe watched Saavik wind through her pitch on the mound, they cast knowing glances at each other. This year, they would wipe up the ground with the yeomen.
"The Photon Torpedo", Tommy whispered to his friend. Joe nodded in silent agreement, still feeling the sting in his hand from Saavik's unbelievably perfect pitch. They returned their attention to the Vulcan winding through her third pitch. The ball was not flying through the air. It was already in Koji's glove long before the ‘batter’ even saw the ball leave Saavik's hand.
"Oh man!!! I didn't even see the damn ball", the ‘batter’ exclaimed, returning to ‘The Other Team’ dejectedly after he struck out, or rather, after he stood still at the ‘home plate’ while the ball was thrown across the ‘home plate’ three times. He glanced toward the new ‘pitcher’ with well-earned respect. The Vulcan was already striking out the new ‘batter‘.
"Yeah!!! Toss the ol' beaner", someone shouted in the background.
Saavik returned to her dorm room in her disheveled uniform, her jacket open and pants covered in a fine mist of brown dust. She never felt so satisfied before in her life. Plunking down her jacket on the maddeningly neat bed, she made her way to the desk and sat down to contemplate her new role with ‘The Team’ as their ‘pitcher‘. Someone nicknamed her ‘The Photon Torpedo’ at one point in the illogical but fascinating game after she kept striking out a succession of what they called 'batters'. Saavik was mildly amused at the nickname she earned from her fellow 'Teammates' as they were called. She even told Tommy and Joe she can pitch slowly so the ‘batters’ could have a chance, but they shook their heads and said," No, don't you dare. Keep throwing that ball over the plate like you did."
She found a perfect subject to study idioms and emotions in her human peers and even participate in their old Earth game - ‘base-ball‘.
'Spock will find ‘base-ball’ fascinating when I go see him in a few days', Saavik thought, looking out the window at the scene of flowers and trees blooming everywhere. 'Fascinating.... Indeed.'