I am speaking to Admiral Hollister on my video viewer regarding the incident two days ago, when the Enterprise was caught speeding in Harvalen space. Three points were put on my licence and I was fined.
"I have good news, Captain Picard." Hollister informs me, "After some negotiation and a great deal of grovelling, the Harvalen authorities have decided to cancel the fine and remove the three point penalty."
"That is good news, sir." I reply, somewhat relieved.
"Err, yes, Captain." Hollister says, "But this only comes with an explicit condition. You must take a driving test in one of our shuttles with a Harvalen Instructor. If you fail, you will not be allowed to Captain a starship. You'd have to take a desk job."
"WHAT!" I exclaim, pouring my earl grey tea over my uniform and desk, "That's scandalous!"
"It may be so, Captain." Hollister tells me, "It is the best deal we could get. Besides, there is no way you can fail. You've been piloting shuttles for years."
"That's true, sir." I reply, "But when the consequences are the Captaincy of the Enterprise or a desk job in some out of the way place, it puts a lot of pressure on anyone."
"Ah well." Hollister says, with a shrug of the shoulders, as if he is getting the interviews ready for Captaincy applications.
I explain the situation to the rest of the staff. Riker starts feeling his collar as if it's time for an extra star to be added on to it.
"The Instructor is due to arrive in 30 minutes." I inform them.
At that time, we go to the Transporter Room to welcome the Harvalen Instructor.
"I am Manheim, the official Harvalen Driving Instructor." he announces, "Which of you is Picardo?"
I step forward.
"It's me, sir." I tell him, "The name is Picard, not Picardo."
"If you say so." Manheim brusquely says, "Listen carefully. I will not tolerate bribery of any manner, be they financial, sexual or any other manner. I will not be threatened with violence in any manner, be they financial, sexual or any forms of personal endandangerment. Should this happen, you will be instantly disqualified. Is that clear?"
"Yes it is", I reply.
"Good. Let's get to your shuttle."
The two of us settled in, and I conducted a check that that systems were working properly. Fortunately I had remembered this, as it was something that Instructors will fail a pilot on the spot if they don't do.
"Very good." he mumbles, and put a tick on his pad, "Now take the shuttle out of the bay."
Feeling like a young teenager out on his first test, I gradually fly the shuttle out of the Enterprise bay, thinking it was going to hit the sides of the bay at any moment.
We were out, and I am ready to fly, though the beads of sweat were already so evident, I would need a bucket to hold them all.
"I want you to travel at Warp Three." Manheim instructs, "Then suddenly come out, shut your systems down and do a three point turn reverse."
"We don't usually do anything like that!" I protest.
"That may be true." he tells me, "But you must be ready for the time you do. Of course, if you don't think you can execute such a manouvre, just say so, and I will fail you now."
"I'll do it." I grudgingly tell him.
The shuttle lurches forward to Warp Three, I then switch all the systems off, restart and do the three point turn, though the shuttle seems like it will pull itself apart.
"Good." Manheim informs me, "You may need to practice more on that, but you managed the manouvre. Now I want you to go to Warp Nine towards the planet Varla and approach it head on. Come out of Warp just as you approach and go into orbit."
"That's very dangerous." I tell him, "If I fail, the Varlans could have a catastrophe."
"Then you had better not fail, Captain." Manheim says with a smile.
I mutter, then start the shuttle off, powering it to Warp Nine and setting a course directly for Varla.
The sweat on me now is more than a Bzyanta sauna. The shuttle heads off, with the System stating to come into view. As we enter it, I switch the Warp Drive off and we all lurch forward. I open my eyes and Varla is right in front of us. I put the shuttle into orbit.
"Well done, Captain." Manheim tells me, "I don't think we need to do anymore. I have pleasure in informing you thast you have passed your driving test."
He hands me a Pass certificate.
"Would you mind taking us back to the Enterprise?" I ask Manheim, "I think I've piloted enough today."
With that, I collapse in a heap of sweat.