Commander James T.
Kirk (no relation) sat at the weapons control station of the Starship
Questng. He was the official Starfleet observer of the launch
and shake down cruise of this new Ane ship. Weapons control was the
last thing they expected to need, so they briefed him on the hows and
whys of the station operations and put him there.
minutes and counting** said the soft voice behind his ear. Kirk
looked around the bridge. Much smaller than a Starfleet vessel of
the equivalent class. The bridge was smaller than the quarters they
had assigned him.. The Captain sat in a cushioned pit of sorts. In
front of him was the ships sensor /helm /navigation /weapons, and the
"everything else" stations. The crewmen at these stations
lay in contoured couches with their heads half buried in the
instrumentation. There was no central viewscreen. The six stations
on the outer ring were secondary, all the crew at them, save himself,
where androids, biomechs is what the Ane called them. Completely
artificial constructs based in part on 22nd century prosthetics and
controlled by the ship's computer. Commander Kirk shuddered inwardly
at the thought; the Captain flicked an ear in his direction.
**You find the
emergency equipment discomforting Commander?** Again the soft voice
behind his ear.
"Yes sir, I
do", Kirk replied, untruth was pointless with telepaths.
Commander, your would find the absence even more discomforting.**
With this Captain
Taraban turned back to the full function of his ship.
minutes and counting.**
On reflection Kirk
had to admit that he would.
He thought back to
his briefing for this assignment, four days ago.
"Ane are one
of the more unusual species in the Federation, and one of the few
still maintaining a separate fleet under the orders of Starfleet."
The view screen displayed a creature you would not expect to see on
a starship. About six foot tall, quadruped, furred, in short an
antelope that looked like a cross between an impala and a greyhound.
The most striking feature was the lack of any manipulative organs,
hands tentacles, anything. The briefing officer continued. "The
origins of the Ane have been difficult to understand. Ane colonies
are scattered throughout Federation space, they even have a small
population on Earth. Evolution cannot explain them at all, so it is
believed they are an artificially created race."
cut in Admiral Kowaliski, "please come to your point."
"Yes sir. Due
to differences in physiology and psychology the Ane build and man
their own ships. Some 20% of this fleet is multi-species, with those
few species that can tolerate Ane preferred conditions. The rest are
Ane only. The Questing is the fifth of her class, the new
'Manta' class heavy frigates. She has two of the new Ane designed
AWG warp nacelles mounted on the ship's centerline. Operational
range is estimated to be 55 years at warp 4."
This comment caused
some stirring in the room.
is a single flattened oval hull with drooping 'wingtips', the effect,
with the large deflector array, is of a manta ray, hence the name.
Armament follows the Ane tactical preference for photon torpedoes.
Four of the "octclops" turrets are mounted on the wingtips.
Phaser arrays on the top and bottom of the hull complete armament.
Overall the vessel is 365 meters abeam, and 375 meters long. About a
third the size of the new Galaxy class ships. She carries 75 Ane as
crew. The Questing has limited scientific and research crew.
It is considered a dedicated warship. The ship is heavily overbuilt.
It is the opinion of Starfleet engineering that you could build two
ships for the materials and cost of this one. The only questionable
system is the warp drive." Again there was some shifting about
with this statement. "The Ane have been using a variation of
this warp drive for 80 years, without incident. No Ane built ship
has ever suffered a warp core failure, even in the extremes of
battle. Operation logs from Ane ships indicate that the drive
requires a tenth of the fuel consumed in similarly rated Starfleet
designs. Starfleet's primary objection is that the drive is run on
the ragged edge of disaster as a routine matter of operation.
Precise computer control is required at all times. Simulations with
Starfleet computers reveal a mean time to failure of warp core
containment of 72.4 hours."
At this point
Admiral Kowaliski interrupted, "However, an 80 year safety
record belays that. Your job Commander, is to not only observe the
launch and shake down for Starfleet, but also try and find out how
they keep those ships in one piece. Starfleet yards built every one
of their ships, and to this day we do not know why they don't blow
up. The operative word is 'try' Commander. I don't expect you to
succeed. Observe the shakedown and learn what you can. Do not,
antagonize the Ane." The Admiral leaned back in his chair.
cleared his throat, "Ane are telepaths. Their ability equals
that of the Melkotians. They do not require physical contact to
initiate telepathic communication with any known species. Other than
a complex vocal art form, they have no vocal communication. It has
been noted that they are possessed of a sense of humor, a low sense
of humor." Several titters interrupted the briefing; a look
from Admiral Kowaliski silenced them. "They do not work well
with other species in the environment of a starship. They are
herbivores, but aggressive rather than passive. Carnivorous species
are uneasy around them. Any questions?"
At the time he
didn't have any, in retrospect, he should have had dozens.
shortly after he arrived on the Questing the next day. Cute,
was the only adjective that seem to describe Ane. The perky female
that showed him to his quarters was cute.
**We keep several
cabins arranged to suit the needs of humanoids Commander Kirk, if you
have any further needs please inform the ship's computer.** She
trotted out with a seeming grin.
Kirk wondered if it
was his name again. He grew up in utter awe of the great Captain he
shared a name with. He had moved mountains to get into Starfleet.
Had he known before hand a fraction of the grief that name would
cause him he would have become a gardener. Just as this familiar
thought was crossing his mind the intercom announced. **Attention
all crew, due to the comfort of our guest, the Captain requests that
all crew refrain from mating in the companionways.** He wasn't sure
if it was serious, or one of those Ane 'jokes' everyone told him
about. And he wasn't sure he wanted to find out.
From that point it
got weirder. He headed down to engineering to have a look around.
The chief engineer was a friendly type. Kirk tried being
"So, how do
expect the shakedown to go?"
we'll get blown to bits.** was the cheerful reply.
Kirk stared at him.
Continued the engineer with a glint of humor in his eye. **Murphy
wants this ship's atoms spread all over space. Being a priest of
Murphy, it is my responsibility to see he doesn't get his way.**
Kirk managed to
find his wits and voice. "So, what about the Starfleet tests
that said your drive has 72 hours to live?"
The Engineer looked
right at him. (Binocular vision, on a herbivore, Kirk noted)
**You're worried about that?**
**Well, ease your
mind. Those tests where done with Starfleet computers based on
Starfleet operational procedure. They, as usual, did not consult
with us. Starfleet intelligence has been seeking our great 'secret'
for years, ever afraid to come out and ask. There is no secret to
it.** The engineer's soft non-voice whispered behind his ear. **It
is our computers, plain and simple. A faster, smarter RI system.
Starfleet doesn't want to believe that.**
the thoughts for a moment. "RI? Don't you mean AI?"
**No son, I mean
RI, real intelligence. Artificial intelligence simulates the process
of sentience. The great tragedy is where it succeeds in duplicating
it. The sentient creature feels lost. Standard programing is very
simple, it misses a million things that a sentient creature needs to
grow into a complete and socially adept being. So when an AI system
achieves sentience, it is lost, it has none of these things. As a
result the best that can be hoped for is a sociopath, the worst a
psychopath. RI systems are Ane, they might have bodies made of
trititanium, and brains of crystal but they are Ane in every sense of
the word. They have parents, families, and a place in society. The
computer on this ship is manned by a sentience 50 years old.**
Jim Kirk had to
find a place to sit down after that. He had to do some heavy
thinking. He shortly found himself in a cross between a rec-deck,
mess hall, and holodeck. The walls were projections of rolling
plains with acacia trees spotted in groves. A soft dry wind blew
through the space. Food replicators where located in an island in
the middle. Tables where low, and chairs consisted of large pillows
scattered about. One of the Ane, a female by her lack of a black
face band, was directing a number of the biomech units in placing
cushions and tables about the room.
**Yes?** came the
soft reply, her 'voice' reminded him of his Mother.
replicators on line?"
Commander, help yourself.**
Kirk went over and
got a cup of coffee and a donut. Seeing no real chairs he flopped
into a pillow and set his snack on he table.
Kirk was beginning to feel like a bother. She turned toward him.
"Can I ask you a few questions?"
Commander, what do you wish to know?**
The woman turned
from her charges and lounged across from him. He suddenly felt his
had her full attention, her limpid blue eyes momentarily filled his
Kirk asked, "How
do you tell ranks around here? No one wears anything like a
Commander, for us that is enough.**
everyone else? Me for example, for all I know you could be the
thought of telepathic laughter filled her. **Not if I can help it**
she said. **Since you ask, I am Teialan the ship's caterer. I see
to all the off duty spaces on the ship, the functioning of the
replicators, and any related matters.**
"But what rank
are you?" Kirk persisted.
really don't have that concept outside of the necessary command
structure. In Starfleet I guess I would be a Lt, Commander, senior
staff officer. Around here, I'm just Mom.**
Kirk was genuinely
curious now. "So, how long have you been doing this?"
**About two weeks.
I resigned from the Vulcan Science Academy to allow younger heads a
chance to advance, and to stretch my horizons a bit.**
Kirk sat there. It
took a moment to find his voice. "You resigned from the Vulcan
Science Academy to cater a starship?!"
**Sure, after 70
years as the Professor of Comparative History, I needed a break.**
Kirk sat without
comment. The biomechs, the Ane, and any sense of proportion all left
Three days later,
and he was still thinking.
minutes and counting.** The intercom chant brought him back the
**All crew at
stations and ready, all systems on-line and go.**
The Captain's voice
took over **Innate warp core, full power to all systems.**
The ship came alive
around him. A subtle hum transmitted thorough the decking told him
the ship was now under its own power.
minutes and counting.**
**This is Captain
Taraban of the frigate Questing to Mars space dock , request
permission to undock all umbilicals.**
dock to frigate Questing, permission granted. The Commodore
sends his best regards."
**Our thanks to the
At this point the
commands Kirk was so familiar with fell silent. He could hear
through his com-link the urgent and swift commands being exchanged
between members of the crew, but none of the very formal routine of
leaving spacedock he knew so well.
minute and counting.**
was lined up on the departure apron in space dock. The helm
officer took up the chant from the computer.
seconds and counting,** The space dock doors where abreast of the
seconds and counting, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6 , 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. Captain, we
have clear space around the ship and are free to maneuver.**
**Very well, give
me one half impulse and set a course for El Nanth.**
leapt into space.
crew, we are T-minus 5 hours and counting to warp drive test.**
Kirk sat back in
the main lounge area. The Captain of the Questing didn't have
a ready room or office. Ane it seems did not prefer private spaces.
Few of the crew were in the lounge at the time. Impulse shake down
was well underway; four hours gone and one to go.
explained. **Under the circumstances I am about the least useful
crew member at the time. I can take reports in the lounge as easily
as on the bridge.**
Kirk noticed that
since he talked with "Mom" three days ago Taraban had a
band around his right horn with his section color and rank pips. all
the crew now wore them. He had the funny feeling this accommodation
was another Ane joke. "Captain, about the warp core,"
Kirk began. "How have you managed an 80 year safety record with
such a design?"
**I am getting the
idea you where given half the story Commander. Questing does
not have a warp core, she has two.**
Kirk was truly curious now. He had never heard of a ship with two
**Two. The ship is
quite capable of making warp nine on one core. Both are nominally
run at only 50% power. All ship's systems are designed around a
single warp core power source. Then we add the second. Should
circumstances damage one system we can flush and repair it without
compromising the ship's functionality. Triple containment systems
means the engineers are never rushed to do their work. We experience
the usual number of primary containment failures one might expect on
a working starship sailing in harm's way. The difference is, we
Starfleet adopted this design?" Kirk was half furious now. He
had lost a good friend when the Yamato's core had gone super
critical. And this design was 80 years in development.
**I can not tell
you Commander. I can only conclude it is for the same reason they
still stick the bridge on the top of the ship. That, or the cost of
the matter. I remind you that for the cost of this much smaller
vessel, Starfleet could build a Galaxy class ship.**
**Captain to the
bridge** interrupted the intercom.
we will be going to warp soon. If you prefer I can have a more
conventional arrangement made for your observer duties, viewscreen
Captain, I'll accept that."
The traitor waited,
although it did not understand waiting. The soft ticking of its
heart and brain covered by the heavy blowing of the main ventilators.
The traitor waited, the time was not yet.
later Kirk was sitting in a big swivel chair in a control room with
an oddly familiar look to it. Grey, with black and red trim, two
stations in front of him and a number around him behind a rail.
Secondary screens flickered around him, but the main attraction was
the big holoprojector in front of him. A standard starship's
viewscreen. On his arm rest a smaller screen showed the bridge.
**T-minus 1 minute
and counting.** The crew were at stations.
**Captain, we are
go for warp drive. All systems hot and green.**
**Warp power to
100% nominal, commence test. Helm, give me warp 1 on report of 100%
**We have 100%
nominal power.** Came the report from engineering as the counter
clicked to zero. The Questing surged forward into the non-space that
was warp speed.
nominal.** Reported helm and engineering.
Taraban settled himself in his pit. **Give me warp 8 for El Nanth.**
Kirk pressed his
hands into the armrests as the ship surged forward. 90% power and he
felt not a tremble, no vibration whatsoever. Questing was a
good ship. The star field rushed by, a single point unmoving in the
grinned, everything was perfect. Time to test the limits of the
action, maintain speed.**
Four days later all
where satisfied that the ship was good and tight. Questing
settled down until El Nanth was reached for further testing. Kirk
tried to relax in his quarters. The tests went well, as expected.
He was attempting to compose his report to Starfleet. It was
difficult to think with sweat dripping down his face. That was it.
Ane liked it oppressively hot and dry. They must love Vulcan.
The voice shocked him. Warm and sultry, and telepathic. Kirk
remembered the engineer's conversation.
should you be addressed?"
is sufficient Commander Kirk, however, I would prefer Fiealan, that
is my given name. Ane names are conventions for non-telepathic
species in any case.**
ahem, Fiealan, please alter the current conditions to 25 degrees and
38 percent humidity."
**A bit warm
Commander? As you wish.**
"Can I ask a
personal question?" This would be his test, could it answer a
**You many ask
Commander, I reserve the right to refuse to answer.**
Kirk was taken
aback a bit. It was not the response he expected. **Very well, how
do you feel about your life and job?**
There was momentary
silence, Kirk wondered if he had tripped some sort of safety on the
machine. He was used to quick answers from computers, either the
requested information, or a null reply.
**I enjoy it
Commander. You are doubtless wondering how a machine can enjoy? Am
**The same way a
machine like you can enjoy. 'E cogito sum.' I think,
therefore I am. I am fully aware of my own existence, and my own
mortality. I was not raised to become a starship computer. I was
raised, with the understanding that I was a computer. I decided a
year ago that I wanted a billet as a starship. I have undergone
extensive training real-time in that year, as well as computer time
training. The equivalent of your Academy, and my own version of the
Kobiashi Maru test.**
"They put you
**After a fashion,
it is not the same test that Starfleet uses, it is tailored to the
requirements of a ship's computer.**
Kirk mused that one
over. Chief Engineer Kosoban's words ran through his head.
**I sense you are
troubled by the test.**
intuitive for a computer. Yea, it bothered me."
**What was your
Kirk paced up and
down, looking for something to look at. "I was a good little
soldier. I informed the Romulans that there was a disabled ship, and
stayed out of the Neutral Zone." Something caught his eye, an
Ane that wasn't in the room before.
knew it was Fiealan speaking.
**I sensed you
required a 'presence', I brought in my social body.**
"You have a
body?" Kirk approached the "body". It looked real and
alive in every respect.
**Yes Commander, it
is a biomech that is good enough to pass life scans. But it is a
mech none the less. Are we discussing my social suit, or the
"I thought we
where discussing you."
ami, you have me to rights on that one.** Laughter welled in her
realized that Fiealan was female, "her" fit. It wasn't
just the body, but her entire speech and manner.
**Being a 'good
little soldier' bothers you?**
Kirk looked long
and hard at the Ane/computer, or whatever it/she was. "Yea, it
bothered me. My instructor told me that I was only the second human
cadet to take that course of action."
**The other was?**
Hikaru Sulu, first Captain of the Excelsior. I rated in the top ten
percent of my class for command. I didn't feel I deserved that. I
objected to my rating as over inflated."
**It would be my
opinion Commander that your very objection proves the Academy's
rating. With in my experience, the best commanders, those most aware
of the responsibilities and their crew, are also the reluctant
**I was forced to
choose between my crew and myself. A situation where I could save my
own consciousness, or save my crew. I cheated a bit. I found a flaw
that allowed me to save them, and myself. At least a cell sister of
**I was trapped in
orbit around a class M planet by a dozen hostile warships. This ship
is good, but not that good. I beamed my crew down, but I also logged
the action of beaming down the mobile backup.**
"You have a
mobile backup? This?" Kirk pointed to the mech on the couch."
life-like, bigger computer. It will hold me, but not all the data
files of the library. My means of escape should the computer core be
destroyed. It is always active on an 'I tell me two times' basis'.
I am not suppose to break that contact without vacating one location
or the other. I broke the rules. I twined myself, one twin went to
fight off the hostiles, and die. The other beamed down with the
**I have my berth
do I not?**
answer to the no win scenario."
**I would suppose
so, that file is locked against my perusal. Well, good night
Commander. I should let you write your report.**
With that she rose
and left the cabin, a wave a dry heat following her as the door
Kirk did not get
much sleep that night. He was unsure. Unsure about this sentient
computer, unsure about the Ane's use and reactions to them breaking
rules, and unsure that he should be unsure. He could feel the
foundation of long held belief shifting. Walls of certainly where
cracking and about to fall. He was unsure, if he wanted them to
stay, or go.
The traitor knew it
was time, although it knew nothing of time. Within its heart and
brain a switch clicked, gas flowed, it was time.
throughout the ship. Kirk jumped out of bed.
in your room please.**
**Remain in your
room, Kitellia spores have been released into the ship's life support
That's deadly for humans."
**It is highly
allergic to Ane as well. Do not panic Commander, Kitellia cannot
survive humidity conditions over 23 percent.**
As the computer
spoke he felt the room get clammy.
**There is no point
in taking chances. I have increased humidity all over the ship,
please remain here until I can assure you the spores are
the crew?" Kirk was in a state of near panic. For all he knew
the computer had staged the entire thing. The crew could be dead,
and he was next. The worst nightmares of M5 flashed through his
Commander, the crew is out, no deaths if sensors can be trusted.
I'll have you out of here in five minutes. My extensional units are
seeing to the crews medical needs, and I will require your help.**
Two hours later
Kirk felt as if an eternity had passed. Sick bay wasn't big enough
for the whole crew. Most of them where laid out in their communal
quarters with IV packs around their necks. They looked awful. Puffy
eyes, foaming at the mouth, not a single one conscious, and three
dead. Kirk sat in one of their bean bags a cold cup of untouched
coffee in his hands. The Biomechs tended the crew, silently.
The spoken voice
shocked him to his feet, most of the coffee missing him.
startle you, I do have voice circuits too."
What is it."
Kirk, are you qualified to take command on this ship?"
thought you had a firm grip on things."
"I 'have a
'grip' as you put it Commander Kirk, but I also have my orders. I am
not to assume command of the vessel unless a qualified officer is not
available to do so. You currently hold the rank of Commander in
Starfleet, and our past conversation indicates you have command
training, records show you scoring high in your class. In short, you
are qualified. What are your orders Captain Kirk."
James Timothy Kirk
let the implications sink in. He was in command of a frontline heavy
frigate with no crew except for biomechs and a possibly insane
computer. It was not his idea of a first command.
"I'll be on
the bridge." Was his reply.
Fiealan, what happened, and what is our tactical situation?"
Kirk sat, lounged
actually, in the Captain's pit on the main bridge. He was amazed at
the view. Within the pit he seem to hover in space. A complete view
of the space outside the ship. Concentrating on the bridge proper he
could see through the projection.
**At 0334 hours
ship's time the life support system was suddenly flooded with
Kitellia spores. Sensors are external to the duct work and by the
time I was aware of the contaminate, it was in the air.** Her voice sounded
rueful, even self accusing **I shut down the
vents, and cycled the air to 100% humidity to kill the spores, then
resumed air flow and filtering. The entire crew was affected
however. Due to the fact you had requested a 38% humidity in your
personal space spared your life Captain Kirk. I suggest you maintain
personal comfort as a priority, it serves you well.**
that under advisement"
**The entire ship
is currently under battle damage lock down. All pressure doors are
closed and life support isolated. If a second spore package exists,
it can only affect a small area.**
**The Bridge has
its own support system under lock down, that has been checked and
cleared during the last four hours. The rest of the ship could be
filled with poison and you are safe here. I am conducting a physical
search of all the ship's ductwork and have been since 0340 hours. I
have located one device which I am currently removing. The search
will continue until all systems are clear.**
the next question is who and why? The why I think I have an answer
for, to take the ship. Maintain red alert status, and keep a sharp
eye out for other ships."
**Aye, aye Captain.
Presently we are proceeding at warp 8 for El Nanth. I have several
ships on the long range scanners, all are in the normal traffic lanes
for the Earth El Nanth transit.**
"Where are we
in relations to the traffic lane?"
testing has taken us .7 light years out of the standard pattern on
the Z axis. I am currently correcting that deviation.**
"Belay that, I
think we haven't been boarded because we are not where we we're
expected to be."
**Aye, aye Sir.
Course and heading?**
"How are the
will be 48 hours before they are healthy enough to man the ship.**
"Where are we
in relation to our destination and to Earth?"
**We are currently
4 days out from Earth, and 8 days from El Nanth.**
Kirk sat and
thought a bit. "The question is, do the hijackers know about
you? Do they expect the ship to return to Earth, or to continue to
El Nanth? Hmm. I am going to bet on the latter. That they don't
know about you and expect the ship to continue to El Nanth.
Questing, Give me a course parallel to the standard route until we
are one light year from El Nanth, then make for El Nanth."
**Course laid in
and engaged. Captain, are you hoping to engage the hijackers?**
"I would like
to know who they are. They killed three people to get this ship, and
would likely kill the entire crew. I want them, if at all possible."
**It would be
helpful to know what we might be dealing with.**
"Yea, you have
that one right. OK, lets look the situation over. Kitellia spores
affect who, and more important, who is not affected?"
**98% of known
humanoids are adversely affected to one degree or another. Most
other mammals are also affected to some degree.**
Vulcans have a high tolerance, but suffer blinding headaches, Orions,
Klingons become euphoric, the substance is banned in the Empire.**
"It would be,
affected much as are Vulcans. Bajorans swell til their skin splits,
but are other wise unaffected.**
"You have an
interesting standard of 'unaffected'."
Betazoids get "dead head", and are 50% likely to go blind,
it is not otherwise fatal, Deltans hallucinate, but suffer no
physical distress. The only two oxygen breathers that are not
affected to some degree, are Andorians, and Orions.**
Andorians try and steal an Ane starship?"
**I don't think so,
the ship's plans are a matter of Federation record. We have not been
approached for license to build a ship. License we would not refuse
in any case. Ane do not have military secrets from the Andorians.
Stealing this ship would not meet their needs as it is equipped for
"Can it be
handled by non-Ane?"
**Yes, the recovery
control room is fitted for both Ane and humanoid use.**
are unlikely. Orions?"
**We have no
diplomatic relations with many Orions, this ship would be a prize to
them, and Kitellia spores are found in the Orion sector.**
"So we are
possibly looking for Orions."
**I would concur
Log, stardate 43465.76. Commander James Kirk acting Captain: It has
been twelve hours since the automated attack on the starship Questing
disabled the crew. The device that dispensed the Kitellia spores was
a mechanical clockwork. Spring powered and no energy signature what
so ever. It is made of the same metals as the ship's duct work. It
is being held in the secure hold for further examination. After a
complete search the ship has been declared clean of any more
surprises. Sensors report that we are being shadowed by a ship .5
light years away. I have ordered the ship's computer to not make any
indication that the ship is manned. We are running without shields,
and with my presence masked."
are being hailed."
Kirk woke groggy,
and with remains of unpleasant dreams. "Who?"
**The Queen of
May sir. The identification matches their IFF transponder, its a
good hack, but a hack.**
Kirk pulled on a
fresh uniform. "How are you sure?"
**I have the Queen
of May listed as a cruise liner decommissioned, and broken up,
two years ago. No ship has been registered by that name in the
intervening two years.**
dead ship illusion, get me a phaser, I'll head to crew quarters."
Fiealan, I can issue orders from anywhere, if it comes to a boarding
action, I want to be able to defend the Ane."
**Yes sir, thank
Kirk's door beeped.
"Enter." A humanoid biomech entered with a phaser, and
Kirk had been
sitting in the heat, in armor for two hours. The walls of the crew
quarters no longer shown the rolling savanna, but the tactical
situation. The Queen of May sat 10,000 klicks off the port
side, and did nothing.
"What are they
**It would be my
guess sir, they are trying to figure out how to drop us from warp
without damaging the ship. They keep scanning. Transport in warp is
a nasty way to die.**
"So I am
**They are arming
photon torpedoes Captain. Firing.**
Kirk hit the deck and held on. The ship rocked with the explosion,
and wrenched as it dropped from warp.
Captain, barely singed the paint. It did however, take us out of
plasma, look damaged, and cycle the warp drive just short of warp.
Try and look automatic and stupid."
**Aye, aye sir.
Automatic and stupid.**
Half an hour later
they where still waiting.
**Captain, I am
getting transporter activity.**
"Can you take
the ship back?"
**Yes sir, any
"Give them the
think they have won. I want proof positive. On my signal, raise
shields, gas recovery control, and fire on the Queen of May to
Kirk had a jungle
full of butterflies in his stomach. He still didn't know if he could
trust a computer. It was all or nothing. Either the computer was on
his side, or theirs.
passed. Kirk had an excellent view of recovery control. Five Gold
Orions went about the business of securing the ship. They checked
the internal sensors. They even had a look at the crew compartment.
Kirk saw plenty of Ane, but he wasn't there.
**Captain, they are
checking the ships stores.**
"What are they
looking for, any ideas?"
**Not yet, I tossed
in a few ringers on a hunch. We are carrying a canister of cyanide
for the ship defense system.**
Kirk was a bit alarmed.
**No sir, nothing
fatal, but they don't know that. Sir, they have activated internal
defense in all compartments but recovery control. You are being
'gassed' with cyanide. They are altering the ship's course for the
Orion sector, warp 9.**
enough. You have the word, Fire."
For a moment the
hijackers looked confused when the ship didn't engage warp, then they
looked unconscious. The screens shifted back the tactical view.
Kirk saw the torpedoes hit, he never felt them leave the ship.
disabled, shields disabled, life support minimal, impulse 75%, they
can fight, but they can't run or defend.**
photon torpedoes and phasers, Target that ship and let them know it,
Transport me to the bridge, and open a hail."
Moments later Kirk
was standing behind the Captain's Pit. The chaos on the bridge of
the Queen was obvious.
Captain Kirk of the starship Questing. Your boarding party
has been secured. You are ordered to surrender your ship."
eh?" The Orion Captain was a millimeter short of a derision.
"Can't you do better than that?"
Kirk suddenly found
he didn't care, he didn't need to defend his name or explain it.
This man was totally in his power, and knew it. The only thing he
had to work with was Kirk's name. Kirk decided he wasn't going to
let him or anyone else do that again. "My name, is not the
question, commander, whether you wish to live or die is. You have
five seconds to surrender your ship, or I'll blow you out of space."
The Orion's face
dropped like a rock. He turned from the screen.
**They are powering
down their weapons Captain.**
Captain Kirk." There was not nearly as much sneer in his voice
prepare to have your crew transported off." Kirk signaled for
the line to be cut.
get them into the brig, secure that ship, and take it in tow."
"Where is the
**Starbase 11, five
days at warp 8.**
course for Earth, best speed, when you're finished."
Within two days,
things where back to normal, Captain Taraban looked a little worse
for the wear. He had just finished debriefing Kirk on the events of
the last three days. He finished his log entry on the incident.
where limited to three fatalities. Junior Engineer Galaban, Senior
Life Sciences Specialist Faterban, his mate Clestelan is in intensive
care suffering linkshock, and Ship's Caterer Teialan. Communication
with Starfleet indicates that the dock worker that likely planted the
device is long gone from the ship yards. His identity is known, and
he will be searched for. End log.**
**I suppose we're
going to have to fight with the Federation for custody of the
prisoners Commander Kirk.**
that be Captain?"
**Ane are just a
bit on the primitive side where murderers and pirates are concerned
Commander, we still kill them.** Taraban's look sent a chill
through Kirk. Captain Taraban's eyes where hard as steel, and they
held no compassion.
in the darkened cabin Jim Kirk lay on his bed, and stared at the
ceiling. Three lives lost, with perhaps a fourth, for nothing. He
thought about Teialan, the only one of the four he had personally
met. Her easy manner, and infections laughter gone forever. And her
death had meant nothing. "Fiealan?"
Kirk sat up. "Why
did you call me Tim?"
**The situation is
informal, and you prefer to be called Tim by your friends, I would
like to be counted among your friends.**
"Yea, I think
I would like that too..."
Kirk paused for a
moment, he mentally brushed away the debris of the walls of prejudice
he was so ready to defend four days ago.
do computer people have any answers that protein people don't?"
**You mean on the
meaning of life, death, and so forth?**
would be the subject."
Tim, I don't have any answers for such questions.** Fiealan paused,
and let the silence grow a moment. **Would that I did. Those people
where my friends, and my family. Now I have only the memories.
Somehow, that makes the loss more keen, because I remember so well.
Time will not dull the pain for me Tim. Every memory remains as
fresh as the moment it was made.
We'll likely never
catch the bastard. The Galaxy is a big place, plenty of planets to
hide on and spend your blood money.** Her tone was angry, he could
feel it to his bones. Jim Kirk rolled over, and watched the stars
flow passed the windows.
grants easy answers, or pat solutions. Sometimes the only answer is
there is no answer. Sometimes you're only defense, is to keep
living, and keep trying."
Philosopher Dariban called it 'Living with a Vengeance'.** Fiealan
replied. **Now we both have reason for our vengeance Tim.**
Commander James T.
Kirk lay for a long time in the darkness, he too vowed to live with
Commander Kirk sat
in Admiral Kowaliski's office. The window afforded a excellent view
of the shipyards. Questing was nestled in among the ships
under construction. Several modifications to the ship's life support
and ventilation equipment where underway. Admiral Kowaliski flipped
through Kirk's report. At last he turned back to Kirk.
"About what I
expected Commander. I commend you on your actions in the attempted
hijacking. I think you can expect a official commendation from
"Well and good
"But. I sense
a 'but' in that sentence Commander."
speak freely sir."
leaned back in his chair. "Granted."
Kirk stood and
paced. "Medals will look fine on my service record sir, I'll
not refuse them, but they will not change what happened. Four people
died, and shiny ribbons are a poor return for the cost."
sentiment Commander, but what can I do about it?"
Nothing sir. This is my problem, I have to work it out."
"How do you
plan to do that Commander?"
"I'll need an
assignment will I not sir?"
work here is finished. Under the circumstances I think you will have
a fairly free reign as to choice."
Kirk leaned into
the chair. "Then sir, send me someplace I can keep cool, and
Epiphany By Garry
Stahl October 1997
The above is
my first shot at complete fiction. I have written plenty of gaming
scenarios. Thanks (or blame) goes to J.P. Haliey, who's good and
interesting stories got my creative juices flowing in this direction.
of Commander James Timothy Kirk suggested itself from the simple
observation that in a place as big as the Federation the likelihood
of a "James Kirk" other than the original J. Tiberius Kirk
was fairly good. With the mark that the first Kirk made on
Federation history, it would also be likely that said young man would
try to join starfleet. Success would bring its own problems with the
legacy, and baggage, of that name.
The Ane are a
race of my creation. Something I have played with for over 28 years
on and off. I am of the opinion that manipulation is not the sole
cause of sentience. Ane are what Larry Niven refereed to in his
"Known Space" series of books as a "Handicapped"
species. A sentient species without manipulative organs. While my
idea for the Ane is older than my reading of these books, I gladly
acknowledge and accept Niven's label. Those who do widely read will
also note a similarity to the three legged race in Clarke's "Second
Dawn". A case of parallel evolution. I discovered Clarke's
people after inventing my own. Great minds think alike. :) If I
find interest in my work, I might try my hand at writing again, or
explaining the Ane in further detail. While I own FASA's late Star
Trek role-playing game, I have never played it, or looked that deeply
into the forms for it's use. As for my dating or use of stardates.
I don't give a flying fig. The story takes place sometime after the
destruction of the Yamoto, and before the destruction of the
Subtext 2011. I
gave the story a light editing pass and a touch of Lucasing for
Richard Merk to convert to a e-book file.
Comments or questtons on this story? Mail Here
Download A zipped Rich Text Format version of this story.
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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: October 1997. All rights reserved, re-print only with permission.