"Captain's Log, Supplemental. We are investigating the Hailee Nebula Five ships have gone missing in this sector in the last several months and Starfleet wants some answers. End Log.
"Course Mr. Sulu."
"133 mark 43, as before. We are two minutes from contact with the recorded nebula edge."
"Slow to one half impulse."
"Aye aye, one half impulse, now."
"Uhura keep a close watch on the distress bands. Scotty?"
"Purrin' like a kitten Captain."
"As expected, Spock?"
"This nebula is well charted along the edges. No anomalies have been reported in the past. Currently we are reading nominal on all sensors."
The doctor stepped to the inner part of the bridge. "Jim, I would think you suspect something beside pirates."
"Five ships in three months is heavy even for pirates Bones. That much activity is a sure way to attract notice."
"The Captain is correct Doctor. Such behavior is sure to attract the kind of attention pirates do not want. For these same reasons real pirates do not fake distress signals, or operate inside heavily patroled areas."
"That is assuming that the piratical mind is reasoning on a logical basis Spock. The fact they are pirates would tend to weigh against that."
"How so Doctor? That assumes that all pirates become pirates under unvarying illogical circumstances. It is possible that logical reasons can exist to become a pirate."
"Are you saying that if the logical circumstances existed, you would become a pirate?"
"It would not be my first choice under any circumstance Doctor, but I cannot reasonably discount it as a possible outcome."
"I had to hear you say it Spock..."
The proximity alarm began to beep. Spock returned at once to the sensors. McCoy stepped behind the Captain's chair.
Spock reported. "Spatial anomaly 240 mark 6, within close sensor range."
Kirk said. "Nature Mr. Spock?"
"It appears to be a gravitational flux, we may be witnessing the formation of a quantum black hole. Captain, a greater range would be desirable."
"Mr. Sulu, take us away, warp one."
"Warp one, aye aye sir."
The Enterprise turned away as she came to warp speed.
Spock said. "Captain, the anomaly is increasing in size at a rapid rate. It will over take us in 2.7 minutes.
"Warp 8 Mr. Sulu."
"The anomaly is gaining speed Captain, impact in 1.3 minutes."
"Ye can try for more Captain, but no guarantees."
"Spock, keep working on it, Sulu, give it all she has."
"Aye Sir, warp nine, warp ten, warp ten point one"
The ship was shaking as the pull from the gravity well increased. Spock worked his board intensely seeking a solution as the Enterprise was pulled back all the more she tried to pull away. The vibration was knocking crewmen from their seats.
Spock turned from his board and shouted against the noise. "CAPTAIN WE MUST SHUT DOWN THE WARP DRIVE."
Kirk ordered. "DO IT, DO IT."
The inky blackness blotted out the nebula's graceful swirls as Scotty and Sulu's hands flew over their boards as they struggled to keep their seats and shut down the Enterprise's power plant. The last contact closed and the warp drives went cold.
The shuddering stopped.
"Captain's Log, Supplemental. We are investigating the Hailee Nebula. The Leniov Array has detected five wormholes in this nebula in the last three months. This is an unusual amount of activity for an active wormhole nursery, and the Hailee Nebula has never been known as such. Concern exists due to the active shipping lane that passes close by this nebula.
Of additional notice are the derelict ships we have encountered. All four are 23rd century designs, and all four are mangled beyond casual recognition. We have found no survivors to date. End log."
Once more the Proximity alarm sounded on the Kongo. Kirk looked up from the report he was formatting.
Mr. Faiee turned to him. "Yes, it's another one. 30,000 tons and just as mangled as the last four."
Regiban said. **No, the life support shell is totally breached.**
"Did anyone freeze fast enough to resuscitate"
**We will have to move closer to find out.**
"Take us in, we might as well look."
Regiban said. **Captain, I have a wormhole forming.**
"Where and away?"
**240 mark 6. It looks to be a white wormhole.**
"Noted, shields up. Phasers on line."
**Classic formation. Ejecta is normal nebula matter. Wait, I have a solid.**
**I am reading a warp signature.**
"The poor devils. Tathilan, can we do anything?"
**Unadvised. And I wouldn't know what.**
Regiban continued. **Warp signature is gone.**
**We have an ejecta.**
"Another instant derelict..."
A ship tumbled form the failing mouth of the wormhole. It's classic lines unmistakable, and intact.
**Life support active, main power down, warp drive down, impulse down. I am reading life forms.**
**It is in collapse.**
"Move in the moment it is safe to do so."
Miritath spoke. "I am reading an IFF signal Captain."
"Who do we have?"
"Constitution class, Fleet Upgrade Program Three conformation. Identity USS Enterprise, NCC-1701"
The Kongo floated beside the slowly tumbling Enterprise. Within her Captain debated the possibilities.
"Nothing in the Enterprise logs about an encounter with a future ship?"
Tathilan said. **Nothing.**
"Not even in the 'most secret die before reading' logs?"
**No, not even there, I looked too.**
Spacik dropped into the XO seat. "It could be an Enterprise from a parallel universe Captain."
Regiban added. **That is a more likely possibility than a ship from our past.**
Spacik rasied an eyebrow. "Why Regiban?"
**The theory of multispacial extra-universal relationships states that with the relative inelasticity of the time stream, and the permeable nature of time-space, 'out of time' objects are more likely to come from a parallel universe than from the future or past of your own time stream by a ratio of 1,352,000 to 1.**
Kirk said. "Our duty remains plain however, we have to treat this as a temporal rift. That means minimal contact. Felialan, can they repair their own vessel?"
**Doubtful. They took considerable stress to the warp system. They need a yard preferably, a dockship at the least.**
"We don't have either, and we might not be able to get either. Can the repairs be made with what we have."
**I would put that in the very edge of the realm of the possible.**
"Then we will make it possible."
Hanson asked. "What is the state of the crew?"
Tathilan said. **I accessed the Enterprise's recorded command access codes. It took three tries, they kept changing them. I got a look via the log cameras. In the areas with cameras the visible crew is not moving. I have counted and located 417 heartbeats."
"Then medical attention is required, the sooner the better."
Kirk said. "Agreed Doctor, but again the temporal pollution still has to be kept to the minimum."
"How am I suppose to treat people that can't be allowed to see me. That's impossible!"
"Can you keep them under?"
"I can try, I won't do it if their safety is an issue."
"Safety first, temporal purity second. Start as soon as we get the Enterprise under tow. I will need to see, the Captain. If you will be kind enough to get him first."
Kirk woke in a medical bed, it was wider than he remembered but the soft sounds of the sensors where those of a diagnostic bed. A spot light came up around him, it illuminated him, and the area to either side of the bed. He couldn't see beyond the light however. As he tried to pierce the darkness a figure stepped into the circle of light. Tall, slim, with a curly mop of red hair and a friendly face. He wore a black two piece with gray shoulders and a pin with the Cochran delta. The man pulled a chair into the light and sat.
"Good morning Captain Kirk."
Kirk sat, slowly. "Where am I?"
"You are in the sickbay of the USS Kongo."
"We have her under tow."
"In various conditions of injury. I'll get you a full report in a few minutes."
"What's with the weird lights. Who are you?"
"We have a matter of some delicacy Captain. You traveled into the future. We are attempting to keep contamination to a minimum."
"So you are trying to keep me from seeing things. And you are?"
"Fleet Captain James T. Kirk."
Captain James T. Kirk simply sat a moment. "If this is a joke, it's a poor one."
"The joke if any is on both of us Captain Kirk. I have dragged your carcass, in the form of your name and reputation, around Starfleet for over 20 years. Now fate dumps you in my lap."
A rakish grin slipped in Kirk's face. "So you're James T. Kirk? What's the 'T' stand for?"
"Your parents had some sense. Are you Peter's boy?"
"That I can safely tell you, no. We are not related at least as far back as the Eugenics War. Believe me, I desperately wanted to be related to you when I was twelve, I did a most exhaustive search."
Kirk grinned slyly. "So I am at least hero material. Nice to be remembered."
Tim Kirk cleared his throat. "However, the matter at hand. The Enterprise is in bad shape. We need to get you, your ship, and your crew home."
"How soon before the crew is back in shape?"
Doc Hanson stepped into the light. "Three days."
Tim Kirk continued. "But we will start work at once. Captain Kirk, we have your crew sedated. The maximum we can keep them that way is three days. If we don't have the Enterprise running by then, the jig is up and well, everyone knows. However, if my engineers cannot get the Enterprise back into some form of running condition, I'll know why."
Jim Kirk said. "Because they don't have Scotty."
"I have heard tales, does Scotty make that much difference?"
"He does. The Enterprise is anything but standard, and Scotty is the reason. The man knows his ship."
"We will discuss Scotty."
"And you will want Spock."
"Spock wouldn't tell his Grandmother if he said he wouldn't, and he is the best science officer in the fleet, my time or any."
"Mr. Spock's reputation does precede him."
"You need him and I do. Lastly Bones."
"Why Dr. McCoy?"
The grin slipped in place again. "Because he'll kill me if I don't try, and you will not find a better Surgeon."
"We will consider all of these."
"When can I get out of this bed?"
Hanson said. "As soon as you feel like it."
James Kirk eased himself to his feet. "When do we start?"
"Right now. Tathilan, two to beam to the Enterprise."
The Captains two materialized on the Enterprise bridge. Technicians were crawling over the panels with sensors and tools.
Jim Kirk said. "Point to point transport, I am impressed." He looked around. "Were is the crew?"
"Sick bay wasn't big enough, yours or mine. We took them to their quarters."
"I want to see."
"Your ship Captain, see all you want."
Kirk stepped up to the engineering station and sat. He checked the ships functions. "Not much working. Sensors, phasers, torpedoes, life support."
"Warp power is still down, your impulse engines are damaged and the list goes on."
Kirk looked at the viewscreen. The loom of the Kongo's saucer filled the upper part of the screen. "The Kongo?"
"I like her."
"Mind if I look around?"
Kirk spent several minutes checking the view from as many angles as he could.
"She is an experimental refit."
"Refit, how old?"
"I would rather not tell you that."
"What if I want to fire the weapons."
"Please tell me first, and not at the Kongo if you don't mind."
"Why tell you first?"
"You're inside our shields. It could get messy if we didn't lower them first."
"You can't fire through your shields?"
"I would rather not tell you that."
"I want to go on the hull."
"Lead the way Captain."
"Your not going to stop me?"
"The Mark of Gideon."
"What the historians chose to call the incident at the Gideon admission. Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me."
"You think that's the reason I want so much, I think your trying a fast one?"
"Yes, it makes sense. Someone did it to you before."
"So what can't I do?"
"Tour the Kongo."
"Is that it."
"I would prefer if you did not insist. If you insist, I will allow it, under protest."
"You're going out of your way to bend over backwards for me."
"Captain Kirk, we are both Starfleet officers. The purpose, and basic regulations, of Starfleet have not changed significantly from your time to mine. In short, you are not my prisoner, you are my comrade. We are working to get you back into operational shape and back home. My only concern is to minimize temporal contamination."
"Where are my people?'
"On their way from sickbay. Shall we join them?"
Scotty sat and held his head. It was failing to cooperate with his basic requirements of not hurting. Dr. Hanson was dealing with the pain with McCoy more or less looking on.
"Oh, ach, I hope the dent looks as rich as the dentee."
"I am, quite sure you left a, noble dent in what ever unfortunate part of the ship you impacted Mr. Scott. Now, if you will hold still a moment, we will have that concussion taken care of."
The Kirk's entered as he was finishing the work.
Jim Kirk said. "Bones, Scotty, where is Spock?"
McCoy answered. "He is down checking his precious computers."
"Have you seen the crew yet?"
"No, but I plan to do rounds as soon and Doctor Hanson is finished with Scotty. Jim, do you approve of keeping everyone under for three days?"
"I don't like it, but that is what we are doing."
"Three days is a long time to keep anyone under. It's too long."
Hanson spoke. "Dr. McCoy, the state of long term coma care has improved. Three days is well inside the safety margin. I would not allow a harmful period of extended unconsciousness, nor would Captain Kirk."
"Well, Captain Kirk just said three days was fine."
Tim stepped in. "So did this Captain Kirk."
"McCoy looked from one to the other. "You're Captain Kirk?"
"Fleet Captain James Timothy Kirk."
"This it too much. An entire universe and we land right next to another Captain Kirk."
Tim said. "I have a firm belief in the general perversity of fate."
McCoy said. "You don't look related."
Kirk said. "According to him, we're not."
"My research on the subject was most exhaustive, and at the time, disappointing. Back to business. Mr. Scott, if my doctor is through mauling you. Your ship is in dire need and Captain Kirk informs me that without your help it is futile to change a lamp."
"Then I best be startin' on what needs to be done." Scott nodded to the Kirk's and departed.
McCoy had not changed his position leaning back against the desk. "Jim, what is going on here?"
"According to Captain Kirk here, we are in the middle of a temporal anomaly."
"You are an unspecified number of years into the future."
"So, look it up in the records and find out how to get us back."
Tim Kirk grimaced. "I wish it was that easy. That was the first thing we thought of. No such record is in the Enterprise logs."
"So that is it? We vanish into space unknown like many before us?"
"Well, no, you didn't. Again Dr. McCoy I don't want to color your future."
**On the other hand it is perfectly possible that is exactly what happened.** Tathilan's humanoid came into the sick bay.
Jim Kirk perked up and McCoy stopped leaning against the desk. Tim smiled.
"Gentlemen, my wife Tathilan. She is also my computer operations officer."
McCoy pulled out the Southern charm. "A pleasure to meet you madam."
**And to you Doctor.**
Tim said. "How is the work going."
**The Enterprise computers are one thing that is not damaged. We have the sensor logs from both ships. Mr. Spock and I are correlating them to see if we can reconstruct the incident."
McCoy said. "Is that going to get us home?"
**That is the goal. I have no certainty of the outcome.**
"You were saying something about out fate."
**The idea of parallel universes is not foreign to you gentlemen. It is more possible that you are from, what to us, would be a parallel universe than that you are from our past.**
Jim Kirk said "So our being here won't change the past."
**Exactly. I have noted no changes in history as we know it.**
"What about the incident at the Guardian of Forever?"
**That artifact is dangerous precisely because it can alter the past, and affect the future.**
Tim Kirk added. "Frankly, if we could destroy it, we would."
Jim Kirk said. "You can't?"
"It is more a case of we dare not try, even if we dare. There is no guarantee we could."
**There has been further research. The Guardian might be tied into the very existence of the time-space continuum.**
McCoy said "So if you destroy the Guardian, poof, we all vanish."
**That is the worst possible scenario yes. No one wants proof of the theory.**
Jim Kirk said. "So where does that leave us?"
Tim Kirk said. "Right now? Right here."
"Is there any way to prove the parallel universe theory?"
**Yes, further correlation between the Enterprise's historical databanks and the Kongo's historical databanks. They should match as far as the Enterprise's data banks go.**
"And if they don't?"
"What happens then?"
Tim said. "We work no less hard at getting you home."
"Well, when do we get started?"
**I already have.**
The four men sparkled into existence in the Kongo's conference room. Tim Kirk and his senior officers were already seated at the briefing table. The Enterprise officers took a brief look around and sat.
Tim Kirk started. "We have finished the historical databank colorations."
Jim Kirk said. "And the results?"
Tathilan continued. **We have 852 possible variations. 137 positive variations, 42 of those can be considered of major influence. This is well over the threshold for a parallel universe incident.**
Jim Kirk said. "So in essence, we're not from around here."
Tim Kirk said. "That says it."
"So what are you going to do now?"
"Try to get you home, as before."
Spock said. "What do you calculate the chances are of dropping us back in the same location?"
Regiban said **Difficult to calculate. In our favor, we have a total of six ships that have come through the wormhole nursery. Incidentally that is one of the major factors. At no time in the 23rd century did the Hailee Nebula produce wormholes, and no ships were ever lost in the area.**
Kirk asked. "What are the conditions of the other ships."
The center of the table dropped away and holos of the five wrecks came up in the viewspace. Tathilan continued. **They are totally mangled, no survivors. We were investigating the last when the wormhole that ejected you formed.**
"So shutting down the warp drive saved us."
McCoy said. "The question is, will any of this help us get home?"
**No. However, it makes alteratives easier.**
"I don't like the sound of that."
Tim said. "Regiban?"
**If anything Gentlemen, you being from a parallel universe makes it more difficult to get you back. Short of being ready when and if another wormhole forms and see if you can shove through it, I have no plan or even a suggestion of a plan on how to get you back to the 'right' universe.**
Spock continued. "Captain, this is a brief statement of the difficulties. I have spoken at length to both Regiban and Tathilan and concur with their findings."
McCoy jumped in. "So Spock, are your saying we should give it up now, and live with it?"
"On the contrary Doctor. We should and logically must try. However, we must also look at the logical outcome as less that hopeful, and be prepared to fail."
Kirk leaned into the table. "I don't intend to fail."
"I don't intent to prepare to fail either. We are going to make this work."
Regiban said. **The problem Captain Kirk is that we lack a plan to not fail at.**
"Our warp drives pulled us in right?"
**Better to say they attracted the wormhole.**
"Would it work again?"
Tim Kirk said. "I'll point out you where not in very good shape when you came through."
"We'll be ready for a rough ride this time. Can we do it again?"
**Two things. First, you need a wormhole. I can't create one to order. Second, we don't know if the warp drives will attract the wormhole on this side.**
"That can vary?"
Tathilan said. **We have one recorded case of a chronic wormhole that is attracted by warp drives on one side, and repelled by them on the other. The ship in question was lucky to survive.**
Jim Kirk looked at the other three. "Gentleman, we must try."
Spock said. "I concur Captain."
"Aye, that we must."
"That's the four of us."
Tim Kirk said. "Then our duty lies in seeing that you succeed. However, we still need a wormhole."
Felialan entered with the heavy labor bio behind her carrying the antimatter injector. Scotty got up when he heard the heavy tread of the bio.
"Well lass, ye got another one."
**Third time's the charm I hope. Analysis proved the flaw was in using the design used currently on the remaining Miranda class ships. I scanned the damaged injector, and had this one fabricated to the assumed undamaged specifications.**
"With a wee bit off the parallax inverter?"
**With your wee bit off Scotty.**
"It makes all the difference lass."
**Shall we get it in?**
"Yer beasty can be gentle about this?"
**Best in the business.**
Felialan closed her eyes to better direct the bio. She gently inserted the injector and clamped it into position. Scotty checked the alignment.
"To the nanometer lass. I wondered how an engineer withoot hands did any engineering."
**It isn't easy.**
"If I might be askin' lass, how did ye get the job?"
**The warp drives. They are an Ane design. It was easier to adapt engineering to me than train someone else to run them.**
"That doesn't sound like a good situation."
**It isn't. I'm not really needed anymore. The engineering crew is as good as I can make them. But they are herd now. I don't see myself leaving any time soon.**
"Close it up and we'll run a dry test."
Scotty caressed the controls as soon as the intermix chamber was buttoned up. He noted the stream of figures coming from the test module and nodded.
"It looks good lass. We are ready to go hot."
**As you will Scotty.**
Scotty punched the intercom. "Engineering to Captain."
"We are ready to do a live test on the intermix Captain."
"Proceed as you see fit Scotty."
Scotty toggled the intercom again. "Attention all hands. We are testing the intermix system. Standby. Mr. Slills?"
"Matter feed control on-line."
"Antimatter feed control on-line."
"Five seconds to intermix. Four... Three... Two... One... Intermix."
The warp core slowly started to glow until it lit the entire engineering room. The light flickered and tenor throb sounded, then slowly a second. Quickly the core came up to power. Scotty scanned the board and made rapid adjustments. Again he hit the intercom, this time beaming."
"Captain, we have 94% power. Warp drive at your discretion."
"Scotty, I'm shocked, only 94% power?"
"Aye Sir, she'll need the tender attention of a space dock to get any better."
Kirk turned to the Vulcan beside him. "All the power we want, and no place to go."
"That would seem to be the case Captain."
McCoy said. "Jim, have you considered that this ship is not going to run on automatic. The crew of the Kongo while helpful, is not going to want to come with us."
Spock cocked his eyebrow. "The Doctor has a valid point."
"You've made me a happy man Spock."
How so Doctor?"
"By admitting that I'm right."
"It would be illogical to do otherwise on the rare occasions you are right. Why would pleasure be derived from this?"
"Point made both of you. I had better have a talk with the Fleet Captain.
"...As you see, we need the crew awake, and we need them now."
"My apologies Captain, I didn't consider the needs of your ship. We work with a great deal of automation. The Kongo will literally run herself if told to do so."
"But not repair herself."
"A certain amount of maintenance is automatic. However that does not include battle damage or unusual circumstances."
"Which explains why you have a crew less than twice that of the Enterprise. If you have automatic systems to that degree, why as many people as you have?"
"The luxury is carrying more specialists. We don't have two astrophysics generalists, we have a 20 person astrophysics department, most of them field specialists.
"Flexibility in mission, with depth of knowledge."
"And the added brain power. More people thinking is never a bad idea."
"That too, we are technically capable of a ten year deep space mission. In practice we have never been out of contact for longer than a year and a half."
"That's still a long time out."
"It earned us a Bonaventure Ribbon."
"About my people?"
"It's being handled even as we speak."
"I didn't see you do anything."
"Confession time. I am one of those rare human telepaths. I gave the orders as we were talking."
Kirk looked at Tim oddly for a moment. "If Starfleet trusts you, I should too."
"One of the reasons I don't wear it on my sleeve. There is still some prejudice against the human telepath."
"Did you flinch at the Ane contact?"
"Exactly. They rate far higher on the Kraith scale than I do, but you take it as natural."
"When were they contacted?"
"That is one of the 42 major points of difference Captain."
"Call me Jim."
"Jim. Ane have been around since the Federation signing."
Kirk looked around the office. "Nice place, what deck is it on?"
"Deck one. This is the Captain's Ready Room. We are right off the bridge."
"I don't suppose..."
Tim smiled "Jim, I couldn't deny you that, even if I should."
Tim Kirk came around the couch and headed out the door. All heads turned when they saw who was behind him.
Tim cleared his throat. "Gentlemen, as you where."
Heads reluctantly turned back to ship's business. Jim Kirk looked around the bridge, he walked past the stations, noted the well anchored chairs, seat belts.
"Does it get that rough?"
"Does it? You tell me. I insisted on this after being dumped from my seat as a junior officer more times than I can count."
Kirk smiled. "It is a good idea." He ran his hands over one of the black panels. "What is this station?"
"Tactical. Bridges got a bit of rearrangement a while back. Tactical behind the Captain, XO and utility station beside him, operations where you have helm, helm where you have navigation. Sciences behind us here, engineering to either side. Any station can be configured to do any task."
"Simple, clean. It certainly has more space. I take it again the computer has more tasks and more power."
"There have been a number of advances."
"That's what I call a cagey answer."
"I am trying to maintain some discretion."
"I'm jealous, your ready room has more room than my office, and I still don't have a ready room. Do you have another office?"
"Yes I do, off my cabin. I seldom use it. Tathilan likely has it full of the mugs and T-shirts used in the Federation promotional gift pack."
Kirk grinned. "You still have that. Two offices, how big is this 'closet'?"
"I'll make you a deal, dinner in my cabin tonight, you can see it."
"Deal. I'll get a tour piecemeal if I have to. Meanwhile, I would like to reassure my crew."
"Agreed. Transporter, beam the Captain to the Enterprise."
Kirk found himself before the Fleet Captain's door at the appointed hour. He took a moment to ogle the corridor, and the cute Ensign it held, then buzzed.
"Come." It was Tathilan's voice. Expected.
Kirk entered and presented her with the corsage he had liberated from the Enterprise's arboretum.
She smiled. **Thank you. Tim, Jim is here.**
"Coming," drifted from the other room.
Kirk took a quick look around. "Charming, and huge. I suppose I should stop being shocked by the size of everything."
Tim came out of the office. "Good evening Jim. Sorry to keep you waiting. I have been struggling over the logs for this incident. A captain's work is never done, as you well know."
"Indeed. I was commenting to you wife over the size of everything."
**It is a matter of comfort. Fewer people, more space.**
"Do you do anything small any more?"
"We have a scout class about the size of the Enterprise. Starfleet is building them in droves these days. But we only put 200 people in them."
Kirk said. "More space, less people."
"Humans are a social creature, as are most Federation members, but we do like a little elbow room as well. Nothing of which is a surprise to you."
"I'm going to get spoiled."
"One reason to keep you away."
Tim motioned to the table. "Shall we dine?"
"Wine? I broke out the real stuff."
"Always. You have more reasons to ask me to dinner I think than your office."
"Perceptive as rumored Jim."
"Tim. Why does everyone call you 'Tim' if your given name is James?"
"I suppose you should know, it's your fault."
"I mentioned dragging you around?"
"Sometimes it is very difficult to be 'James T. Kirk'. You left a big footprint and a long shadow. This goes doubly if one is in Starfleet. Tathilan started it, and it stuck. When on an informal basis, everyone calls me 'Tim'."
"So what kind of shadow did I leave?"
"You tell me."
"Reputation for being a loose canon to the point of insubordination, free with the interpretation of orders, finding my own way, and using it. Am I on track?"
"Close enough. This is the unearned reputation I carry."
"So, earn your own."
"I'm working on that. James Timothy Kirk of the USS Kongo is gradually coming out of James Tibeius Kirk's shadow."
"How long have you had her?"
"And they haven't tried to promote you?"
"Well, yes. The half pip was a recent addition."
"I can say too much right here Jim. Leave it at the lessons learned, more than slightly from your example, lead to ending the practice of promotion for the sake of promotion, and leaving good people where they can do good."
Jim Kirk raised his glass. "To a wiser policy."
Tim and Tathilan answered. "Here here."
"We still are not to what you want."
"Be careful what you wish for."
"I have always wanted to meet and speak with you."
"In spite of the trouble I've caused you?"
"Hero worship if you will. My parents claim I was named for a late great-uncle. But you have been my shining example since I could read."
"That's a heavy burden you place on my shoulders Tim. I am no one's saint."
"You were, or your legend was. Then I got the job I was after, and I realized now how the reality differed from the legend."
"So what do you seek?"
"Tell me how it was, the reality of how it was."
Kirk smiled. "What's to tell? You're living it. I doubt it has changed that much. Days of nothing, hours of tedium, and moments of terror and wonder."
"The Federation is older, more staid in may ways. There are less places for a Tibeius Kirk in Starfleet."
"I think that has been said of every generation looking at it's own past, and longing for a forgotten 'golden age'. I hear people say that it will never be like the 22nd century again. Every voyage a grand discovery. Every voyage still is. Your era or mine. What where your plans on this trip?"
"Find out why wormholes suddenly started popping out of this nebula."
"Any closer to that?"
"I'm sitting here doing the impossible, talking to you."
"Exactly. A voyage of discovery and adventure, checking out an errant nebula. It is the same for us."
"Yet the inner Federation is bigger, quieter. Starfleet reflects this."
"Is there no initiative?"
Tim swallowed a guffaw. "It's taught. Your style of off the cuff decision making is taught."
"How do you teach spontaneousness?"
"It is less a method than a way of thought. When you are handed blue or red as two bad choices, take purple. Never allow your options to be defined by the box you are handed."
"What about right now?"
"Believe me, I am tap-dancing like crazy."
"So you have no more of an idea of what to do than I do?"
**If I might?**
"Go ahead dear."
**The down side of this is we need another disaster. Will the nebula grant us one? From the data gleaned we have yet to find a way to generate a wormhole that will be of any use.**
"You can't make one?"
**We can, but we can't decree it's other end, and worse, we don't even know where to try to put what we can't control.**
"So where is the purple?"
"I am still looking for a hint of color. I suggest we sleep on it and get our staffs together tomorrow and brain storm."
"That sounds like a plan."
"At least the start of one."
Bright and early alpha shift the senior officers of the two ships settled down around the Kongo's conference table.
Tim Kirk said. "Mr Spacik, give us a brief on the current situation."
"The USS Enterprise is as functional as she will get outside of a spacedock. All crew are awake and functional. By the theories currently available to us we are in a reaction mode. We need a wormhole to come to us."
Spock said. "What odds do you place on this happening?"
"I have insufficient data to predict another wormhole. We may have seen all of them, or only the start."
Lt. Cmd Faiee said. "Captain Kirk, what will Starfleet's reaction to the loss of the Enterprise be? That is when will they assume you are missing?"
Spock answered. "We were never out of contact on this mission. Our absence will be noted almost at once."
Kirk added. "What is the point Mr. Faiee?"
"I assume a second ship will be more cautious, but there will be force available should the cause be hostile and not simply phenomena. They might set off a wormhole. Six wormholes, six ships. One for one correlation. The presence of a energy source or warp drive, on your side, could be the cause of the wormholes."
Kirk continued. "So you believe that a rescue party might cause the wormhole we need."
Tim Kirk said. "Regiban, any comments?"
**The reasoning is sound based in the limited facts we have.**
Mr. Spock. "Agreed, it relates the facts, as we know them."
"How can we act on this?"
Tim Kirk said. "We can be ready when it happens."
Jim Kirk said. "Then let us get and be ready."
All stood to leave.
BEEP! BEEP! Captain to the bridge! Tim Kirk tumbled out of bed and into his pants. He hit the door running. Tathilan came right after him shirt in hand. She gave it to him in the turbolift.
**Tathilan, you haven't a stitch on.**
**I'm not modest, you are.**
The car came to a stop, Kirk ran out. Tathilan waved at the Andorian lieutenant with the bugged out eyes as the door closed on her.
"Report? Red alert."
"We have a wormhole forming."
"Is the Enterprise aware?"
"Standby as planned."
"We have ejecta."
"The Enterprise is moving into the wormhole."
Kirk watched them maneuver and silently prayed.
The whoop of the siren galvanized everyone. Jim Kirk hit the seat giving orders.
"Full power to the engines, Sulu move us in."
"Aye aye sir, full power, commencing run."
Spock spoke without lifting is eyes from the viewer. We have a solid stream of matter emitted form the wormhole Captain."
"Full shields, keep her steady."
The pitch of the engines started to climb.
Tim Kirk watched, leaning forward as if he could grant the Enterprise movement by will alone.
"Heavy ejecta stream, the Enterprise is making slow progress.
"Keep the tractor beam ready for grab any wreck in her path."
The engines where howling the screens glowing from the ejected matter. Kirk was sweating as he willed his ship forward. He turned to Scotty.
"Aye, she is giving all she has Ca'tian."
Sulu reported. "Shields down 5% and holding. We are barely making headway sir."
Spock stayed glued to the viewer. "I do not detect a ship. A small mass in the wormhole proper. It appears to be a standard probe."
"Ignore it, keep pushing."
Uhura said. "Sir, I have a ship on hail."
"Put it through."
This is USS "Lexington, to Enterprise, Enterprise do you read?"
Jim Kirk said. "Lexington affirmative. This is Enterprise. Bob, can you read me?"
"Affirmative Jim, we can see you, read you."
"Bob we have engines at full power, can you get a tractor on us."
"We will try. Hold on Enterprise."
Regiban reported. "A probe is in the wormhole."
"Threat to the Enterprise?"
Miritath reported. "Unknown ship is hailing the Enterprise. It is the Lexington NCC-1703. That would be, Commodore Robert Wesley commanding."
Miritath said. "Enterprise is requesting a tractor from Lexington."
"Good idea. Mr. Simms, get behind her, Miritath, lock on tractors, full power to the engines."
Above the howl the Enterprise shuddered, and surged forward a ways. Kirk turned wide-eyed to Scotty.
"It nay be the Lexington Ca'tain, it is pushing."
Spock said. "It is the Kongo Captain. She has tractor lock and is pushing us towards the wormhole."
"Are we making progress?"
"Yes Captain, but..."
The speaker crackled. "Jim, Jim, we can't get a lock on you. Can you reach..." The remains of the probe popped out of the wormhole and it rapidly collapsed. The Enterprise and Kongo surged forward suddenly. With a dying howl of the engines wound down in pitch as the pressure was taken off her. They felt the tractor lock break and the Kongo rushed passed seemingly within arm's reach. Momentum carried both ships to the far side of the nebula. Jim Kirk stared at the screen as a gout of plasma vented from the underside of the Kongo.
Tim Kirk closed his eyes as the alarms silenced. He could still see the Enterprise barely miss the port pylon.
**We are stable on core B at the moment Captain. I will have a report on the condition of core A as soon as possible.**
"Thank you. Stand down Red Alert. Regiban?"
**It was a classic white hole, one way passage.**
"Two hundred and twenty percent power and we barely budged her."
**I would suggest a structural check of the Enterprise where the tractors held.**
"I'll pass the word to Captain Kirk. Miritath, hail the Enterprise."
Commodore Wesley looked at the remains of the wormhole. He turned to his science officer.
"Any readings? Can you locate where they are?"
"Vaguely sir, it will take some time with the computers."
"Another ship, a big one it looked almost like a larger shadow of the Enterprise. I think they were pushing the power curve was fantastic."
"A chance they were holding her back?"
"No Sir, I am sure of that."
"Very well, I'll make a report to Starfleet. We've lost the Enterprise."
Spacik stood before the combined senior officers. "In conclusion, the Kongo is reduced by half her potential power. The Enterprise is further reduced to 74% maximum power, and has hull warping at frames S84 thru S87. Another attempt, even if possible, is not advised."
Tim Kirk scrubbed his face. "Anyone have any thing else to add?"
Jim Kirk said. "I do."
"You sound like you're giving up. When do we try again?"
Spacik said. "I do not believe any further progress will be made on this method of endeavor."
"Then we need a further method of endeavor. You seem to have gathered additional information on this subject of parallel universes. Somewhere in it will be a solution."
Tim Kirk said. "When we have had a chance to repair the ships. The Enterprise will need extensive dock time."
Jim Kirk came back. "How are you so sure?"
"I have had direct experience with framing damage. It is never as simple as it looks."
"So that give us more time to study the possibilities."
"That much is true."
"So what are the possibilities?"
Spacik interjected. "Captain Kirk, the body of knowledge is vast. We will not cover it during the trip to Starbase and not likely even all of it during the repairs."
Regiban said. **The body of knowledge is regrettably small considering the subject matter.**
James Kirk looked from the Vulcan to the Ane and back. "So, which is it, vast, or tiny?"
Regiban continued. **When measured against the subject, the amount we know is slightly above ignorance. When measured against total ignorance, it seems like a lot.**
Spock said. "Captain, if I might interject."
"By all means Spock."
"While my understanding of the parallel universe phenomena is limited, I took the opportunity to study your 'counterparts' when the Doctor, Mr. Scott, Uhrua and yourself were trapped in the 'mirror universe'. I noticed some intriguing readings on the quantum level. Further study was, at the time, unenlightening. However, sensors have doubtless improved. This could be a fruitful course of pursuit."
"Then we need to get right on it Spock." he turned back to Regiban. "I take it sensors have improved?"
**Yes, they have. However it will probably take our sensors to see the differences in your matter.**
Spock asked. "Can you aid me in calibrating the Enterprise sensors to detect these variations in 'your' matter? This may prove useful."
**We can but try. I would think we have to do it with only matter from the Enterprise proper. 'The bowl cannot contain the bowl.'**
Tim Kirk stepped in. "Gentleman, get started gathering data as soon as possible. Meanwhile we will proceed to Starbase 460 as quickly as possible. Captain Kirk, you may inform your crew of the full extent of their circumstances at your discretion. And, we need to talk privately, at your earliest convenience."
The two Captains sat in Tim's quarters. Jim Kirk stared out the window in grim silence a cup of coffee growing cold in his hands.
"You doubtless have questions."
"We had them in contact. If the subspace waves could get across, why couldn't we?"
"That might be a question we can yet answer. Right now, the cards are stacked against us."
"What is the year?"
"A hundred years."
"There are complications I wished to speak of. Mr. Spock is still alive, our version, much older of course. Scotty is alive as well."
"He got a cheat, I don't know the full story."
"It just didn't work."
"It is always a possibility."
"Not one I like to plan for. I didn't."
"So what is your plan?"
"Both of our ships are damaged. Repair the damage, get help from people that know the subject." He paused. "You remember when I told you how difficult it was to be James T. Kirk?"
"I think you might find it even worse. You have 'his' reputation to live up to."
"Your James T. Kirk?"
"Died an old and well known man. At least I don't share a face and a voice with him."
"What do you suggest? Should I leave Starfleet?"
"You think you can do that?"
"Fleet is my life, my family."
"Then I would say you can't. Howard Nelson is making the adjustment. You have less of one to make."
"How about the Enterprise?"
"She is on the quaint side. She lacks power, speed, and firepower. Size is not an issue."
"Will Starfleet let her continue?"
"Certainly not as a front line unit.
However, she is not exactly 'local'. Admiral Colum is not known as a greatly imaginative man. He'll likely kick the matter upstairs. Personally I think you need her. We should, and you will get my full support behind this, upgrade her to the full extent we can, and continue to try and find your way back."
"Will that happen?"
"I can't honestly say."
"Is there a means of exploring other universes?"
"I don't know. Something else to find out."
"I keep going over it in my head, what different could we have done? There has to be a way."
"That 'purple thinking' thing you mentioned. Where is our purple?"
Tim looked out the window. Kongo was keeping station with the Enterprise. "Sometimes it's not the choice we prefer, or the choice that we want. Sometimes, it's the best we can get."
"Yes, sometimes it's the best we can get. I settled for a lot of 'best we can get' that the historians likely overlooked. But, I was never happy with it. I'm not happy with it now and I still plan to succeed."
"You're alive to find a way out of the box Jim. Time might find you an answer."
"Thanks for reminding me Tim." He grinned that sly grin again. "I have more time to make your life miserable, and home hasn't gone away."
"If there is a way, I am sure you're the man to find it. Meanwhile, why not tell me what really happened the time that Green Orion girl got loose on the Enterprise..."
Time and Again -- Garry Stahl, August 2001
This tale is a result of a wish by Jay P. Hailey to see my James Timothy Kirk really meet James Tibeius Kirk. Well how to do this and not violate my own rules? The above is the result. I avoided "real" time travel, transporters didn't play any part in the problem or the solution, I didn't get anywhere near the "Big Red Reset Button" I despise, and my universe will eat the consequences. This was not the next Kongo Story I had in mind, but it is the one I wrote.
Without a doubt this was the easiest story I have ever written. I began it at approximately 12:00 AM on July 31 and finished it 3:00 AM on August 1. For once I can honestly say it wrote itself.
The time-frame for the Enterprise crew is sometime after "The Motion Picture", but before "The Wrath of Kahn". The Kongo crew is presented in chronological order from "Lines in the Sand".
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The Above is a work of fiction. All characters are fictional, any resemblance to persons living or dead is coincidental.
Copyright © Garry Stahl: August 2001. All rights reserved, re-print only with permission.
Star Trek, as well as characters and ships from the original show are Copyright © Paramount Pictures.