Kirk looked around the too
bare office again. The terminal was gerry-rigged into the desk, the
coffee dispenser looked like it was built in the late 20th century, and
there wasn't a curved line in the room. Well, it was home until the Kongo
was space worthy again, and he was a spacedock worker, again. He turned
back to his visitor. "Peterson, Captain of Engineering."
"Yes Captain Peterson, what can you tell me?"
"Well Captain Kirk, you're
likely stuck in this rat-hole for about two weeks. At that point we
will have the space frame finished and the skin back on, the ship will
"The sooner the better, I have crew squirreled into every space I can find."
"Do you have any spacedock experience?"
"Yes I do, Mars Utopia, and I
ran the Starbase 159 spacedock for nine months. Unless you object, I
planned to oversee the repairs myself."
"I have the entire crew of the Kongo, ready and willing, just get me the materials I need."
"How long do you think it will take?"
"We should be out of your hair in a two weeks Captain Peterson."
"I have a crew with excellent
motivations, they want back into their comfortable quarters on the Kongo, as do I."
"Then I'll see you get what
you need. However, I don't have replacements for that fancy turret you
have on there."
"We can fabricate most of the
parts, if there is anything we can't. I'll be stopping at Felicity
shipyards for it."
"No Captain Peterson, I think
we can get started at once. The crew knows their ship. I however, have
to present myself to Admiral Ci'kekher for a full debriefing.
"Good luck, you'll need it."
Kirk met Stiles outside the
Admiral's office. He looked nervous. "Relax, he doesn't eat
"Yea, right. Relax. I've
never been called in to explain my actions when those actions got
"Neither have I." Kirk gave stiles a sympathetic grin.
"The Admiral will see you now."
"Once more friends..."
"Shakespeare, Henry the V, it seems to be required knowledge these days."
The two officers entered the
Admiral's office. The general impression was one of space. The office
was a three story highbay, with most of the back wall open to space. It
had little furniture, and few decorations. The most notable was a
feather banner nearly ten feet long." "Greetings Ca'tian Kirk, Commander Stiles. You have 're'ared your re'ort?"
"Yes Sir, all is in order."
"I will view it in a moment.
You are aware that the Drah have demanded your immediate extradition
for 'iracy and murder."
"No, but I expected as much."
"A sim'le question. Who fired first?"
"They did, I saw to it every time."
"Then you have followed the
rules of engagement in regards to the Drah." Admiral Ci'kekher looked
distracted for a moment. He examined one of the controls on his
terminal. "Commander, your commbadge is o'en."
"Excuse me Sir, I wasn't
aware." Stiles tapped the badge, it chirped. "Starbase 140 comm
center." Stiles looked confused. Kirk looked perplexed and
Ci'ekeher looked ready to bite someone. Stiles tapped it again,
it made the usual signal closed sound.
Ci'kekher looked at his terminal. "It is still o'en, and broadcasting."
Kirk was staring at it now. "Commander, how long have you had that commbadge?"
"Since we left Earth. I
forgot it when I dropped my laundry down the hatch at Starfleet
Command, just before I was assigned to the Kongo. I requested a new one. I have had it since."
Ci'kekher pressed his comm. "Security, to my office." In a moment an officer entered. "Take the Commander's comm badge and find out why it is o'en, and who it is sending to." The officer took the proffered comm-badge, and left. "Commander
Stiles, you are considered a security risk at this time. You will not
engage in any classified activities until this matter is cleared up."
Kirk said. "Does that include the debriefing Admiral?"
"I am afraid so. We will
reschedule the debriefing after the matter is cleared u'. Commander
Stiles is temporary assigned as su'ernumerary, with no duties."
"And what do I do for a first officer?"
"I believe Commander S'acik is qualified. Make him acting First Officer."
"Yes Sir. I was hoping to get this matter out of the way."
"I also Ca'tain Kirk. However, you do understand."
"Yes Sir, I do."
"Damn!" Kirk flung a couch
pillow down in the hotel room he and Tathilan were sharing while the Kongo was under repair. "Dick
had that damn thing since we picked him up at Earth Spacedock. This
could seriously compromise a lot of Starfleet battle procedure,
depending on who got it."
**I feel a little sheepish. I
should have caught the fact it was broadcasting myself.**
"If it's any help I am going
to ask Admiral Ci'kekher for a pattern for his little detector. We can
at least know from now on. However, that is no help for what has
**So what can be done?**
"Well, not much. Can you go
back through the logs and find every logged conversation that Commander
Stiles had, we can at least try and find out want damage has been done."
**Simple, I should have a report ready by morning.**
"In the mean time we have a
ship to fix, a Acting First Officer to inform, and Hell knows what
else. Maybe I'll suit up and give the crew a hand."
**And get in their way?**
"I do know my way around a spacedock job Tathilan."
**You be careful.**
Stiles tossed himself on his
bed, well, not his bed, his bed had a few problems, like a hole where
his cabin used to be. Life was great, not only had what few possessions
he had been vented to space, but now this Admiral thought he was a spy.
Stiles sat on the bed, his hands in his lap. For all he knew, he might
be a spy. The intercom broke his train of thought. "All Kongo personnel report to Station security. All Kongo personnel report to station security." Well, now everyone will know. He better go as well, no exceptions were indicated.
The hall outside of the Starbase 140 security station was crowded with crew from the Kongo.
The problem getting worse as more came in. Commander Vepporti called
for order. In a moment the room quieted. "Ladies and gentlemen, A
commbadge has been located on the Kongo that has a constant broadcast mode to persons or places unknown. Admiral Ci'kekher has ordered that all commbadges from the Kongo
be tested for this function. Please form a line, open you commbadge in
front of the desk, and close it. That is all that will be necessary to
test your badges."
Crew shuffled around as the
nearest ones started to form a line. As they passed the check station,
and the room began to empty, more crew were brought in and briefed.
senior officers wandered around the sitting area of Kirk's suite. Each
acquired their snack preference and found seats. Kirk called the staff
meeting to order. "So, what are we looking at?"
Felialan replied. **All the
hull across frame 12 has to come off. That rib has to be replaced, I
don't trust a simple weld.**
**Micro-fractures and some
not so micro fractures extend a good deal into the "good" part of the
rib. The Darhan disrupters are tuned to do as much structural damage as
possible. We are supplying a good deal of data as to just how effective
Dr. Handson waggled his eyebrows. "A dubious honor at best."
**From the looks of it the weapons
is very effective in making ships fall apart. Had our shields gotten
any worse, the fractures could have spread to the point of condemning
"Can you tune the shields for greater protection?"
**Based on the sensor data, yes.**
"Good get a report to Fleet
Command. Let's be the last ship the Darh damage this badly. How about
the rest of the ship?"
**Minor mostly. The starboard
turret is repairable. I am getting the part fabricated. Other system
repairs are fairly simple. The hull is the big worry.**
"So noted. Mr. Spacik, how is the crew managing?"
"Our man power requirements
are adequately met on all fronts. Replacement requests have been placed
with the Starbase personnel office. We are currently short 20
positions, 17 as a result of our recent hostilities, and 3 from crew
transfers at Earth."
"Have word spread among the
station personnel, see if we can scare up a few transfer requests."
"Captain, I have confidence
in the Fleet personnel office. Seeking informal staffing is illogical."
"There is a shortage of personnel on the station?"
"Yes Captain, the officer in
charge of posting said so. I have confidence that a logical
distribution will result."
Hanson was, as usual, leaning
back in his chair. "Mr. Spacik, are you familiar with the concept of a
'conflict of Interest'?"
"Yes, I am."
"Well, that is what Tim is
talking about. We have X positions to fill on both the station and the
ship, and X-Y personnel to do it with. Now, who do you think the
personnel officer is going to favor, the Starship Captain that is
leaving in a few weeks, or the Station Admiral he has to live with?"
"I would think he would not favor either, but post crew in a logical manner."
Kirk broke in. "That however
will not be the case as the personnel officer is a Human, not a Vulcan.
Try it my way."
"Doctor, since you have caught the attention of the Captain, what is your report?"
"Everyone is mending nicely.
I should have the crew fit by the time the ship is ready to sail."
"Good. Counselor, how is morale?"
"Below peak, and drooping
slightly. Word of the damage to the ship has gotten around. People know
we are in for a long haul at station. They were ready and eager to get
back to the real work of Starfleet."
"The solution for that is work. Keep them busy getting that ship fixed."
Felialan said. **Shall I start a spec plus contest?**
Hanson jumped in. "Spec plus?"
Kirk answered. "Sure, it's
always good for morale. Spec plus; Who can finish their section the
best, to specification and then some. The offered reward is minor, an
extra holodeck slot or some such. However, the bragging rights are
"Must be an engineer thing."
**Hard to fix a body to spec plus.**
"Anyone else?" Kirk looked agound.
Tathilan said. **Yes, Commander Stiles. Any word?**
"No, none. I am all but
pressuring the Admiral on that matter. Stiles might be young, and
inexperienced, but he does the job, and he is Starfleet. I can't see
him willingly spying for anyone. is that it?" Silence from around
the table. "OK, let's get back to it. If anything comes up you know
where to find me."
Stiles sat in the lounge. It
was small, and cramped. Part of the original station from 100 years
ago. The synthahol didn't sit well with him, the drunk was thin, and
superficial. He wanted to get really drunk. Dirty drunk, sick drunk, so
drunk he didn't remember his name.
**Why ever would you want to forget who you are?**
Stiles started, his hard won
fuzziness vanished. The female Ane was small, about the smallest he had
"I don't think I know you." Damn, even his voice didn't slur.
**No, you don't, but the
waves of misery coming form this corner are thick enough to cut.**
"So I got your attention."
"What can I do for you?"
**Unload your troubles.**
"That's part of it, I can't even talk to anyone. Secret you know."
**Caught between a rock and a hard place?**
**Yea, you could say that.
Hey, do you know of any place on the station that has real booze?"
**You don't impress me as the drinking kind.**
Stiles deflated. "No, I'm not."
**Can I speculate?**
"I can't tell you if you're right."
**Doesn't matter. I see a man
caught in a place he doesn't figure he belongs, and in a position he
didn't make, and can do nothing about, at least as he sees it.**
"With out mentioning any specifics."
"So, here I sit, can't talk, can't move, and I'm stuck."
**There is one person you can talk to.**
"Who is that?"
"And have him think less of me?"
**Is sitting still better?**
"No, not really."
**Do you really think Kirk would think less of you?**
"I don't know, I can't really
say. I hardly know him. He seems so, hard, one minute, and
incomprehensible the next."
**So, try it.**
"I don't know, I just don't."
**You will when your ready.**
With that she turned and left the room. Stiles stared after her.
Kirk was standing on the open hull of the Kongo,
well out of the way. Engineers, even in the zero gravity of the
spacedock work area had to move slowly. That rib might "weight"
nothing, but is multi-ton mass was not the least bit lessened. Problems
started almost at once, as the rib was stressed, it started to come
apart. It was being removed in sections. Kirk watched the work a while
longer and went inside. **Felialan, I want everything that rib
was attached to gone over with a fine toothed comb. And double check
everything else that disrupter hit.**
**Understood, I think we can kiss our two week turn over good-by.**
**I have to agree. I'll inform command after we finish the re-re-assessment**
Kirk came in after the rest, the engineering staff of the Kongo, the space dock engineers, and Mr. Spacik. "All right, how bad is it?"
Felialan took the question.
**Not as bad as we fear, but not as good as we hoped. The Kongo
is not totaled. However we are looking at reframing, and replacing the
hull in saucer frame sections 11, 12, and 13. A partial replacement in
section 17, as well as the previously mentioned repairs. Space framing
is the most time consuming of all repairs. We are currently looking at
a month, maybe six weeks. To get the Hull tight enough to finish the
repairs we estimated at two weeks.**
"So we are looking at six to eight weeks on the inside?"
"Mr. Spacik, anything to add?"
"The crew is in good spirits,
in spite of the set backs. It is possible to work on several aspect of
the repair at once, if we follow in a logical sequence. Captain, I
recommend we do not repair the damaged sections."
"What do you recommend?"
"Replacement. In examining the Kongo's
construction record, I noted that the complete build and installation
of the sections of hull we have damaged required two weeks each. We
have sufficient crew to work on all three sections at once, salving as
many usable parts from the current sections as we can. I estimate that
if we replace the damaged sections as new construction, we will have an
over all time savings of two to four weeks in the total repair."
"What about tear down?"
**That will be simple
Captain. I can have the damaged sections out in two shifts. That part
of the saucer is semi-modular.**
"Sounds feasible.. We will
have a spec plus reward for the crew that finishes their section the
best. Let's do it."
Kirk met Commander Stiles in
the Admiral's foyer. Stiles was atempting good humor.
"Moment of truth Sir?"
"End of the matter with little repercussion I would hope."
"Yes Sir, very much so."
"Gentlemen, the Admiral will see you."
Kirk and Stiles rose and
entered the office. Ci'kekher looked stormy, if Kirk was reading his
expression properly. It was hard to judge with a beak. Ci'kekher rose
to shake hands. "Sit down gentlemen. I have investigated the
matter and made certain inquiries as 'er that investigation. I have
received orders regarding the matter from Starfleet Command."
Stiles looked at Kirk, swallowed hard. Both looked at Admiral Ci'kekher.
Ci'kekher continued. "As of
this date, the matter is to be considered dro''ed. No re'ercussions
will come of the matter, and the matter will be stricken from the
Stiles said. "That's it?"
"Yes commander, that is it."
Kirk said. "I don't like it."
"Nor I Ca'tain, but those are the orders."
Stiles added. "All that fuss, then nothing?"
"That is the way Starfleet Command wants it."
Kirk's head snapped up. "Who in Starfleet Command?"
Ci'kekher examined the orders. "It is marked out as secret."
Kirk looked thoughtful for a
moment. He slowly came to his feet. "Admiral Ci'kekher, I will have
those orders in writing."
"That is a dangerous move Ca'tain. One does not lightly demand orders in writing."
"No Sir, one does not. There
has been a security breach on my ship, and I am being ordered to ignore
what I see as a serious matter. I will have the orders in writing, and
signed by the issuing officer."
Ci'kekher said. "That is your
right Ca'tain Kirk, however, it is a serious matter. You do understand
"Very much so. I find these
orders to be highly irregular in nature. Further more I find they
conflict with Starfleet Command's policy of openness. I will have them
confirmed in writing and signed by the issuing officer before I will
proceed on them."
Admiral Ci'kekher handed Kirk a PADD. "Do you find the wording here acce'table?"
Kirk read the contents. "Yes
Sir." He signed off on the PADD and handed it back to Admiral Ci'kekher.
"That will be all gentleman.
We will continue as we have until these orders are confirmed."
Kirk and Stiles left the
office and walked back toward the transportation area. Stiles looked at
his Captain like the man had gone mad. "Sir?"
"If I might speak freely?"
"What in the Hell was that about?"
Kirk stopped. "It's about
principle Dick. Those orders are wrong. Wrong headed, wrong thinking
,and I have a gut feeling, legally wrong."
"I know the book says you can
demand orders in writing, but you don't, you just don't."
Traffic flowed around the two men. "Dick, you are under my command, right?"
"If I ordered you to pull your phaser and shoot that woman over there, would you?"
"No Sir. That would be murder."
"And murder, even if ordered by your commanding officer is wrong, so you don't do it."
"So if I give you orders you
know to be illegal, or wrong, you are not going to obey them right?"
"Well, yes, no..."
"I get your meaning."
Kirk started to walk again, Stiles followed. Kirk
continued. "Dick, those orders are wrong. I know this as surly as I
know the carpet is green. They are so wrong that who ever ordered them
will not place their name on the orders. Someone in the right never has
to hide in the shadows within their own house."
"Is that why you demanded the orders in writing?"
"Exactly, to bring the order
giver into the light. I have a feeling the orders will not be reissued."
"And if they are?"
"I will know who I am saying
'no' to. I would much rather have the entire matter out in the open,
not under the rug."
"You plan to refuse the orders even with a name?"
"Why? That could destroy your career."
"Because once I refuse the
orders, there will have to be a hearing. Whoever will have to explain
their orders and the reason for them. Something no commanding officer
has to do in the field. And they will have to make this explanation to
"But if they have good reason, your career is toast."
"A chance I have to take Dick, a chance I have to take."
Commodore Henkil watched as the tug William Otis brought the ravaged John Gill
into the Spacedock. He was aware of the subtle presence of the
Starfleet security forces. He watched his ship tethered to a Federation
spacedock, a prize of war. He tuned to the man beside him. "What becomes of my ship Captain Kirk?"
"That will be for the
Federation Council to decide. They have rejected Ekos' 30 light year
claim. Under the circumstances I don't see the them being generous."
"I would not call the civilians murdered a misunderstanding."
"No, but I and my forces followed the orders we were given."
"Commodore Henkil, I think
you will find a deaf ear to that argument. We are expected to disobey
wrong orders, to object in the strongest of terms."
"But do you ever, really?"
"Funny you should ask that, I am in such a circumstance right now."
"You have order you have refused to honor?"
"Orders I have challenged."
"I was under the impression
that your Starfleet did not give 'bad' orders Captain Kirk."
"If would be nice if that was
the case Commodore, but Starfleet, and the beings that populate it, are
only mortal, and therefore subject to error."
"Your Fleet Command does not claim to be infallible?"
"No, they don't. I can think
of many a time that Starfleet has bowed to the judgement of the
commander in the field."
"And the consequences of your action?"
"Remains to be seen. However I have confidence in my judgment."
"Your actions destroyed life pods."
"Regrettable. And I do regret it."
"Why did you do it?"
"It was that or my ship. I was right. Examination proves the Kongo could not have taken much more of that pounding. Yet I regret the lives."
"Have you ever been wrong Captain?"
"Yes, as is every man
Commodore. However, I endeavor to not be wrong, the cost of being
wrong, as you have learned, is way too high."
"Will their be war."
"I doubt it. The Federation
Council may see the loss of your fleet as censure enough. Then again, I
am a poor judge of the politicians. The may force Ekos back into a
protectorate. I think that would be a mistake."
"You do? Why?"
"You didn't learn better
under the first Protectorate. Why would you learn better under a
second? I don't believe in repeating mistakes, to correct mistakes."
"So, what would you suggest?"
"Letting you sink or swim, that is after all the path you have chosen, is it not?"
"Yes, I suppose you are right."
"However, the Federation
being the Federation, that will not be entirely the case, even if it is
the case. We have never refused a plea for help."
"This is assuming we plea for help."
"I don't assume, I do point out the historical pattern."
"To what point Captain Kirk?"
"To what ever point you make
of it Commodore. If you will excuse me, I have a ship to fix."
The chime sounded on the office door, an unpleasant sound at best. "Come." Kirk called.
Lt. Cmd Spacik entered the
cramped little office. "Captain, I have made a discovery that
might speed our repair efforts."
"Please, tell me more, the quicker he better."
"There is a decommissioned
Ambassador class ship in the space dock. She is marked for salvage."
Kirk came around to his desk. "Tathilan, pull up the records please."
**Sure thing Tim, on the monitor.**
Kirk looked at the record. He sat down. "It's the Republic."
"Is there a problem Captain?"
"My last space tour before the Kongo was on the Republic Mr. Spacik. Her last action, in the late Cardassian war."
"Forgive me sir, if this is a
matter of a painful emotional memory we do not need the resources."
"It is, and yes we do. If the
vultures haven't gotten to her yet, she will have just what we need."
"Your orders Sir."
"Tathilan, claim the entire
hulk. Mr. Spacik, you and I will need suits and a engineer's inspection
pod. I'll see you at the service dock in an hour."
"Yes Sir." Spacik left to tend the matter.
**Tathilan, what is the hull correlation between the Republic and the Kongo.**
**Correlation in hull and
framing members of 98%. All differences are accountable due to changes
in the Kongo. Tim?**
**No hiding form you girl.**
**Do you want me to come?**
**No, no. It's a ship, it's hull plates and framing members. She, is not there,**
**But how do you feel about it?**
**Someone is laughing at me I think. The utter irony of the matter.**
**That he ship on which you experienced death...**
**May be exactly what I need to bring my ship back to life.**
Stiles pressed the call
button on the door to Kirk's office. The door slid open. He gathered
his courage and walked in. The office was empty. **Commander Stiles, can I help you?**
"Oh, hi Tathilan. I needed to talk to Captain Kirk.*
**He is off to look over possible salvage material. Can I be of assistance?**
"No, thank you, but, not this time. I have to do this with Captain Kirk."
**I think I understand. I'll let you know when he is available.**
"Thank you. I guess I better go." Stiles left the office.
Inspection pod #140/137
undocked form the maintenance area an hour after Kirk and Spacik spoke.
The two officers wore light EVA suits. Little was said on the ride out.
The Republic was in the back of the spacedock. Several smaller vessels partly obscured it, as it obscured several others.
"Mr. Spacik, can you make out the ship it is over?
"Partly sir, it's the 1689."
"Now that is old."
"Move us in closer."
"The majority of the damage seems to be confined to the secondary hull."
"I was on her when it happened Mr. Spacik."
"If you are aware of the damage, may I ask why the inspection tour?"
"You may, it's to see what is
left after a decade plus of salvage. Take us to the starboard docking
A few moments later a hard thump announced their arrival.
"Sensors show no atmosphere on the other side."
"OK. Pump the air down." Kirk felt his suit stiffen as the atmosphere in the pod was salvaged.
"Open the locks."
The pod's hatch rolled back, but the Republic's didn't respond.
"No power indication to the Republic sir."
"Right" Kirk fished a line
out of the pod's lock and plugged it into a receptacle on the Republic. "Try it now." Spacik hit the cycle control again, and the hatch parted hesitantly.
"Grab the power converter,
I'll get the spare lights. Don't forget to activate your boots." Spacik looked a little uncomfortable. "Problems Mr. Spacik?"
"I have not been overly diligent in zero G work Captain."
"Isn't there a wise Vulcan saying for that circumstance Mr. Spacik?"
"Always Captain. 'So as you do, so shall you be.' I will endeavor to improve my skills."
"Meanwhile we must do with want we have."
Kirk moved on to the dead
ship, Spacik clumped after him. Conduit hung down in the old
ship, corridor sections had been removed and the pluming was bared in
many places. Odd bits floated undisturbed by their passage Scorch marks
on walls the ceilings marked the passage of fires. "How do the
tricorder readings look?" Kirk hooked the converter to yet another door
and got it open.
"The Cardassian weapons are
not nearly as hard on the ship's structure. Everything we have checked
"Can we use what we have checked?"
"Baring any problems we might find with a closer examination, yes, we can."
"Good, she is worth dragging out of the heap then."
"Absolutely sir. The
prefabricated parts contained here could save us as much as a month in
repairs. While the ship's systems seem to be well picked over, the
hull, which is what we want, has not been."
"One more thing then, I need to go to engineering."
"I don't recall anything we
need in that area, and the secondary hull is badly damaged."
"Personal business Mr. Spacik."
"Do you wish me to remain here?"
"A bad idea, I would like you to come with me."
"As you wish sir."
A sweaty half hour later the
two men stood in the wreckage of the main engineering section. A gaping
hole in the ship marked where the intermix core had been. Kirk worked
his way back through the wreckage to the secondary intermix control
station. Utter devastation was all that was left of it. Kirk stood,
silent. Spacik matched him, and waited. "My
fiancée died at this station in that last battle, I never got
down here after that. I just needed to see it to know it was real. To
say good-by, one more time." Kirk removed a glass tube from the pocket
of his EVA suit and wedged it into the broken panel. It contained a
single rose. He stood for several minutes."OK, let's go." Spacik followed him without a word.
The door chimed pleasantly.
Felialan had gotten into the guts of the door and reprogrammed it.
The door opened to admit Commander Stiles. "Sir, I need to talk to you."
"Mr. Stiles, I would be glad to talk with you, but why the formal tone?"
"I, that is I would like, no, I wouldn't...."
"Have a seat Dick, the
accommodations are not grand, but they serve." Kirk got up and went
over to the coffee dispenser. " One black. One, double cream." He
handed Stiles his cup and sat back at the desk. "Why don't you just say
what's on your mind, and forget the formal wording."
"Ahem, Yes Sir. Captain Kirk,
no matter the outcome of the investigation, or lack thereof, I don't
fit the job. I am requesting a transfer to a sciences post, preferably
on the Hadrien if it is available."
"What brought this on, if I may ask?"
"Yes. I have done some soul searching..."
"Tim, call me Tim."
"Tim, sir. And I don't deserve the Kongo posting."
"That's a fairly harsh
judgement to make of yourself Dick. It does concern me that you would
make it. Those transfer papers are half filled out, just from your
admission, but I want to know why."
"I am lieutenant material,
Lt. Commander at best, at least right now. I am a scientist, not a line
officer. I'm not comfortable in the job, and Tathilan was pretty much
dragging me around the entire time I was serving as First Officer. I
didn't ask for Command School. I didn't ask for command track either.
The truth be told, I don't really want it."
"Such a move could stick you
in grade forever, totally dash your chances should you change your
mind, you do realize that?"
"A chance I am willing to
take to be in the place I belong. There is something else I need to
say, in light of certain issues, but I would like to say it in front of
the Admiral as well."
"Yes Sir, that serious, and a breach of orders as well."
"I'll set up an appointment. Tathilan?"
**I have contacted his office, he can see you at your earliest convenience.**
"That's Admiral talk for 'Yesterday'. Let's go."
Kirk and Stiles arrived at
Admiral Ci'kekher's office shortly thereafter. His receptionist let
them right in. "Good afternoon sir. Good of you to see us."
"And to you also Ca'tain
Kirk, Mr. Stiles. First, the good news I can give you. You are cleared
to use what ever material from the Re'ublic that you wish."
"Good, has that clearance been forwarded to my crew?"
"Yes, the dockyard crews will
move her to clear dock as soon as 'ossible. Now, the matter to which
you called me."
"Yes Sir. Mr. Stiles, your show."
"Sirs. First understand that
what I am about to say is in direct violation of orders given."
Ci'keker give him a curious
look, a Skoor frown. "There may be consequences for this action
"Understood Sir, however,
like Captain Kirk, I believe, now, that these orders where wrong ,and
will stand on that if I must."
"This understood, continue."
"Before the Kongo
sailed from Earth I was called into Admiral Necheyev's office. She
asked, ordered me to 'keep an eye' on my Captain, she made vague
references to Captain Kirk being lend by 'other interests not friendly
to the Federation', specifically, the Ane."
Ci'kekher looked at Kirk, Kirk at Ci'kekher. The admiral turned to Stiles. "Continue 'lease."
"After being assured that I
was 'doing my duty' I was ordered not to speak of the conversation
outside of that office. Orders which I have just broken."
"Dick, how did you feel about it?"
"Lousy, the entire scene left a hollow in the pit of my stomach."
again. "Where you required to leave your commbadge on the desk
outside the Admiral's office?"
"Yes, I was. I was told it was standard procedure."
"Was this before or after you lost your commbadge?"
"After... Oh God, you don't think?..."
"I do. Ca'tain Kirk, I think
I can tell you now where the commbadge came from, and to whom it
"Yes Admiral, I have it
figured out as well. The only question remains is what do we do about
"I will consider the matter
Gentlemen. We will let it as it is for the moment. Good day."
Kirk turned to Stiles as they left the office. "So Dick, how do you it feel now?"
"Cleansed, my Starfleet career could be in the can, but I feel good."
Admiral Necheyev sat at her
desk. The words on the terminal blurred by rage. Signed orders. Signed orders, how dare
he. Didn't Kirk know who he was dealing with? She stopped, took a deep
breath. No, Kirk didn't know, that is why he wanted signed orders. Kirk
was, at least at last report a good officer. She would deliver the
orders in person. Once he understood the gravity of the matter, yes,
she would have a measure of the man. No good officer would request the
orders signed once they understood the gravity of the matter. She hit
the intercom. "Weasel."
Commander Weasel came in as ordered and walked to the Admiral's desk. "Yes Sir."
"Weasel, is the Avenger ready?"
"Yes Sir, it has been for weeks."
"Good, inform Captain
Martenette we have a little trip to undertake. I'll inform him of the
destination once we are underway."
"Yes, Sir, at once."
"And inform him in person, no comm traffic."
Admiral Necheyev leaned back
in her chair. The Defiant class escort was the perfect courier. Fast,
well armed, and stealthy. Kirk would understand, or Kirk wouldn't last
was towed beside her sister ship. Both battered, battle scared. One
would rise renewed from the fusion. Crew swarmed over the old ship,
victim of the Cardassian War. Plasma touches lit the bay as the needed
hull sections were cut from the Republic, and place cleared for them in the Kongo. The Republic
would be broken up after this, her hull too cut up to possibly fly
again. The crew worked in haste, but they worked with reverence. The Republic had served well. Their comrades had worked, fought, and died on this ship too.
As the work progressed an
inspection pod drifted into the saucer hanger bay. Five figures
emerged, one in the strange construction that served the Skoor as
vacuum suits. All proceeded to the bridge. Lights were set up, log
recordings started. The figures set themselves up. Admiral Ci'kekher
began. "Attention all hands." The Boson sounded the signal,
all work stopped, the crew outside turned toward the giant monitor by
the dock side. "Gentlebeings we are here today to formally
condemn the USS Republic NCC-10530, and strike her from the lists of ships. The USS Republic
was launched Stardate 14575, and served until the Cardassian war on
Stardate 36760, when severally damaged in fleet action against major
Cardassian forces. She and her comrades were none the less able to win
the day. We will have a moment of reverence for those that have served,
and died on this great ship, and for the spirit of the ship imparted
her by her crew. May they fly free." Admiral Ci'kekher waited a
long moment, then he continued. "I hereby condemn the Hull of the USS Republic, and strike her form the lists of ships. Quartermaster, remove the plaque.
Two hefty dock yard workers
cut the commissioning plaque free from the wall. Ci'kekher motioned
them to Kirk. They handed him the plaque. He fumbled with it slightly,
his visor fogging briefly. "Captain
James Timothy Kirk, who served as an officer on this ship for many
years, and in her final battle. Will you accept this plaque in memory
of those that served, and died with this ship."
"Y, yes Sir, I will."
"These ceremonies are over."
The crews turned from the
screens and back to work. Kirk numbly followed the others back to the
pod. Back at the maintenance center he numbly striped the suit,
muttered something to the others, picked up the massive slab of his
life and beamed back to his hotel. For a long time he stared at
it lying on the rug. Tathilan came over and gently nudged her head
under his hand. He grabbed her fiercely. The damn burst and wracking
sobs over took him. Tathilan rode out the storm. She thought
softly to herself as he slept exhausted. **And now, this can also
The next morning Kirk woke
groggy. He finished breakfast and got dressed. "It" lay of the floor
where he left it the night before. **What will you do with it?**
**Send it back to the
Academy, they have a Hall of Honor for commissioning plaques. Silver
for those that never came home, replicas. Gold for the real ones, like
that. That damn bird, he could have told me he was going to do that.**
**And ruin his surprise.
Really, if you were more up on Skoor warrior customs you would have
expected it. The item of Honor is always presented to the ranking
**All right, I wasn't up on
my social customs for the day. But, it was like a punch in the soul.**
Kirk stroked her mane. **Yes,
I know. Do me a favor, have it packed with letter of explanation. Oh,
and scan it first.**
**You want copies?**
**Yes, half sized for the
main mess hall in section 12. I want people to remember how the Kongo was saved. I have to get to work, you are doubtless already there.**
"Attention please." Kirk
called the meeting to order. "We have a definite plan and progress at
this point. We will take it around the room. Mr. Spacik?"
"Sir. The work is proceeding
well. We expect to have the necessary hull sections airtight within
10.2 days. This however is not the end of the matter. Much work is
still to be done on the replaced hull to integrate it into the Kongo's system. The old conduits in the Republic do match most of the Kongo's
system, but the hull is not wired for Crystalmind, and that has to be
done. One crew is dedicated to salvaging all the equipment that can be
from the damaged hull section. The good news is we will be flight
capable, if not fight ready in 10.2 days."
"Good, an improvement. How is man power?"
"We have received five
additional personnel from the Fleet office, this does not address our
losses. However, we have also received six transfer requests for
personnel on base, or from other ships."
"We are still undermanned
however. We also have one transfer request off the ship. I am
considering it at this time, and will speak of it later. Doctor?"
Handson was in good humor.
"Just about everyone is back on their feet and eager to work. Ensign
Mallory is still in the regeneration tank, and will be for at least
another week. The good news is she will recover fully, and we will be
able to take her on board when we leave. Ane are good for at least one
more thing. They have allowed the patients in the regeneration tanks to
communicate. It is not necessary to "keep them under". Mallory is eager
to get back to duty."
"Counselor, how is morale?"
"Morale is high since the Republic was brought into the picture. The crew in general is feeling that an end to the damage is at hand. The Kongo
herself will once again be whole and they can also be whole. The
condemning ceremony was a good reminder that we are not the first to
suffer loss, but the Kongo will rise from it."
"A note Counselor. You can tell the crew that the Republic's commissioning plaque is on it's way to the San Francisco Academy for inclusion in the Hall of Honor."
"I'll do that."
"Felialan, anything to add?"
**Not really. Commander
Spacik has the repair situation well in hand. All engines are cold, but
operational, weapons systems with the exception of the phaser arrays
across the damaged hull section, and the hull itself of course. The big
job will be wiring the new hull sections.**
"Then we have it. First
priority, getting as much crew back into the hull as we can once the
hull is air tight."
Mr. Spacik said. "I would
estimate 10.27 days until the completion of pressure tests on the hull."
"I can hold you to that?"
"Yes sir, or I would not have stated it."
"Counselor, you can broadcast that to the crew."
"Yes Captain. I don't think anyone will object."
"OK, lets do it."
The meeting broke up as most
of the assembled headed back to work. Counselor Deateli remained
behind. Kirk came back into the living room after everyone else had
left. "You have something private Counselor?"
"Two somethings Captain."
Kirk sat down, coffee in hand. "Yes, that would be Commander Stiles."
"Did he give you a reason? He hasn't spoken to me at all."
"He has given a number of
reasons, I can't find fault with any of them. The crux of the matter is
he is not comfortable in the command position, he wants to return to
"I dislike doing my work remotely."
"I know Deateli, but unless
your are willing to approach him, I doubt he will come to you."
"Do you know why?"
Tathilan said. **I do.**
"Has the Commander been speaking to you?"
**Yes Deateli, he has. Since before the Skylark incident.**
"If I might inquire as to what?"
**Commander Stiles feels very
much out of his depth. He is also intimidated by a Deltan Counselor.**
"This is not uncommon among
the male population to start with. Can you suggest anything to over
Kirk griuned. "Yes, stop being a female Deltan."
"That would be difficult Captain."
"I understand, but that is
part of the problem. Your first impression on most men, and not a few
women is overwhelming."
"You read more than vocal tone and body language?"
"Yes, I do. I knew about the
problem with men, I had my adjustment period. But it wasn't until
Tathilan pointed it out did I realize it was women as well."
"I don't recall you displaying any discomfort Captain."
"I'm a Captain, blood of ice water and nerves of duralloy."
"Doesn't fool me a bit."
"The truth be told, I had too
much on my mind at the time to have room for being lusty. Would it help
if I admitted to lusting since?"
"Captain would that I could get such honesty from every man."
"Your average human male is
still insecure in the matter of a forward woman, and Deltans are as
forward as women get. Look on the bright side, you don't live in the
bad old days of required celibacy oaths to serve in Starfleet."
Cmd. Deateli sighed. "For that I can be thankful."
"But to the matter of
Commander Stiles. As he explained, he didn't choose command, and wanted
back into the science track. He requested transfer to the Hadrian if possible."
"You seem to have a good grip
on the man Captain, do you think his is being honest with himself?"
"Yes, I do, he has been very
honest in matters which I cannot reveal. I believe Dick knows his mind.
The transfer is half approved. I am only waiting on certain events
before I give final approval. What was the other matter?"
"The Captain of the Kongo."
"What about him?"
"Well, I never see much of him."
"That is simply because I
have my own confidant, and gained her early in the relationship."
"I feel like I have fallen
down on the job with you Captain, it wasn't until I noticed that you
and Tathilan were in the same hotel room that I realized you were a
couple. I didn't even consider it."
"Did I never consider it?"
"Are you counseling the Counselor Captain?"
"If necessary, yes. So, why didn't you consider it?"
"Frankly, she's an artificial life form."
"When you cannot tell the difference, what is the difference?"
"Can you tell the difference?"
"No, I can't, and I get
considerably further than skin deep. May I ask a personal question?"
"You may ask Captain."
"Have you had sex with the Ane?"
"I would be less a Deltan if I passed that up, now wouldn't I."
"I'm not a Deltan to say."
"What are you Captain Kirk?"
"Ansisi; a human Telepath
that is part of the All. Tathilan, interested in an experiment?"
"Are you Deateli?"
"Depends on the experiment."
"Why don't we find out if you
can tell the difference between an RI, and a born Ane. You can judge
"How many are in this experiment?"
"I do believe you are propositioning me Captain Kirk."
"Well, you question the
validity of my relationships Counselor. I am offering you some
"I'm a Deltan Captain, and everything that means."
"And I am Ansisi, and everything that means."
"Very well, I accept."
Hours later Deateli, Kirk, Tathilan ,and Haifaban relaxed around Kirk's hotel room.
"So Counselor, does my relationship pass?"
Dealeil looked up from the
mane she was braiding. "Tim, I honesty cannot feel any difference
between the nature of Tathilan and Haifaban."
"And that was the point."
"Yes, that was. Sometime again?"
"All rise." The courtroom
stood as the Judge Advocate entered. He spoke. "The court is now
in session. You may be seated. Boson, first case please."
"Captain Heinbein of Ekos and
his crew vs. The United Federation of Planets The defendants are
changed with piracy and murder. It is recorded that Captain Heinbein
stood mute before the court and a plea of Not Guilty was entered in his
"I will not participate in this farce!"
Judge Advocate Marteel banged his gavel. "Counselor. Will you calm your client."
"Yes your honor I..."
"I will not be tired before some inhuman beast!"
The entire court was silent,
all eyes where on the disheveled Ekosian. Most eyes held open
disbelief, even disgust, one pair held shame. Judge Marteel looked down
his long brown muzzle.
"One more outburst from you, and you will be removed from the chamber."
"You cannot make me participate in this animalistic exercise. I am..."
"SERGEANT, remove this person."
Security officers moved to Heinbein. One cuffed him as the other
covered him with his phaser. Heinbein continued to shout insults as he
was dragged from the courtroom. Judge Marteel rapped his gavel. "Court is adjourned for one hour."
Captain Kirk and the others
stood and departed for the given hour. Commodore Heinkil moved over to
where Kirk stood in the small knot of his officers. "Captain. I thought it was a right that the accused face his accusers. Yet the trial will go on?"
"Commodore Heinkil, a right
can be abused. However long set precedent states that a disruptive
defendant can 'face' his accusers from his cell, via camera. He will
have constant access to his attorney. He will not prevent justice from
being done. He speaks poorly for Ekosians at large. Rest assured, this
trial is being watched in the Chambers of the Federation Council"
"He is beyond my orders. The Fuher has repudiated him."
"Rendering your sacrifice meaningless."
"One cannot know the future."
"I would at least hope to know I was supported."
"Your government would support you under such circumstances?"
"No, and wouldn't send a
rescue fleet to fight and die for me either. In fact I am quite sure
that if I gave such orders my officers would see they did not get
Heinkil looked at the men and
women gathered around Kirk, he saw the conformation in their faces. "We
are back to disobeying orders again."
"Yes Commodore, we are.
Gentlebeings, I believe they are places we can wait out the
Heinkil watched the back of
the Starfleet officers for a moment. He turned back the lobby of the
court at large. Any that caught his eye, turned way. He stood, alone in
the crowd. The shined gold ,and bright leather of his uniform a beacon
to shun. A uniform he had worn proudly, even arrogantly. Of the
hundreds of beings in the room, none would meet his eye, except
Starfleet, and those eyes held menace and warning. A Caitian grinned at
him, he shivered. He had serious doubts that a show of teeth was
friendly for that race. Heinkil left the court antechamber. He
realized as he walked away that he wasn't coming back. He could not sit
in that court room to be reviled. He could not be the scapegoat.
His wandering shortly found him in his room. A bare small
chamber, not the VIP quarters his rank would normally rate. His status
was between guest and prisoner. Even he was not sure which it was. He
took off his hat, turned it in his hands to see the swastika. The
images of the hanger of the Skylark
swam before his eyes. He squeezed them shut to block the sight of the
murdered children. The images would not leave. Heinkil threw the hat
across the small room, in a fit of tempter he ripped his jacket off,
then his ceremonial dagger, one after another he divested himself of
all the symbols of his rank and place. When done, he stood an old man
in baggy gray pants and a white shirt. Heinkil sat at the table. "Computer."
"Take a letter, To; Ekosian High Command"
"I Castor Heinkil resign my
commission in the Ekosian Star Forces as of this day. I cannot continue
to serve in light of the decisions and orders made, by the Star
Command, and the subsequent actions taken to repudiate the consequences
of those decisions and orders. Signed, Castor Heinkil."
"Recorded for transmission."
"Computer, will there be in a difficulty in sending this message?"
"No difficulty anticipated."
Castor Heinkil went about his
small room. He gathered the cast off emblems of rank and stuffed them
in the disposal slot. "Lights down."
The lights lowered in the
small room. Castor Heinkil sat on the bed in his small room and wept
for his dead."
Kirk stood on the bridge of the Kongo for the first time in weeks. He looked at the others standing about him. "Air pressure?"
**Air pressure is nominal and holding on all decks.**
Helmets came off around the bridge.
Tatilan said. **How does it smell?**
Miratath took a deep breath. "It smells like us."
Kirk punched the call. "All
hands, you are free to unseal suits." Cheers sounded around the
ship as the crew of the Kongo
took a breath of ship air for the first time in weeks. Kirk let the
backslapping go on for a while. "Attention all hands.
Congratulations. We have the Kongo air tight. We still have a
lot to do before we are space worthy. Crew with usable cabins may move
back aboard as soon as possible. We will do some doubling up until we
have the new sections livable. See Lt. Cmd. Deateli for assignments if
your old cabin assignment is not yet livable. That is all." Kirk looked
at the beaming bridge officers. "Well, get to work people, we have a
lot to do yet."
The group broke up grinning.
Kirk entered his ready room, and started stripping his pressure suit.
The intercom spoke again, this time Tathilan.
"Attention, section leaders
please gather all pressure suits not required by personal for return to
Starbase 140 material reclamation."
There was a call at his door. "Come."
A Rating poked his nose in. "Sir, your suit?"
"On the couch O'Hailey, thank you."
"You're welcome sir. Sir, the boots?"
"Oh, right." Kirk pulled the boots off and handed them over.
O'Hailey left, suit and boots
in hand. Kirk made a careful check of the room, everything seem to be
in working order, the couch didn't look to have taken too much damage
from the extended vacuum. Time would tell on that. Well, if necessary
he would recover it again. He stopped, remembering what it looked like
when he first found it. He shook his head. Well, once done can be done
again. He went to the replicator. "Coffee, black." "Beep" No coffee made an appearance. Kirk frowned.
**Sorry Tim, the replicators are not on line yet.**
**Are we taking meals on the station?**
**No, they should be up in a few hours.**
"And what is the Captian to do for coffee may I ask?** The battered coffee machine form his station office sparkled into existence. Kirk sighed, better than then nothing. **We have transporters, but no replicator?**
**No, I borrowed the station transporters.**
**Right. OK, I have my coffee. How does our quarters look?**
**About the same, anything
fragile to vacuum was stored, I have things about back in order. We
will however need grass.**
**Yes, grass, we were not
able to salvage the grass in the Ane quarters before vacuum got to it.**
**I am grateful we salvaged all the Ane, grass we can replace.**
**OK, grass, anything else on the list?**
**Lots, but we'll take care of it in order.**
**It feels almost strange to
be back. Something you've waited for, but didn't expect any time soon.**
**Like getting back on my new old body.**
**I can see that. Well, what's first on the endless list....**
Admiral Necheyev looked over
the tactical display. Starbase 140 grew larger as the ship closed.
"Have they detected us yet?"
Captain Martenette said. "No Admiral."
"Close enough, move back out
and come in without the cloak. No use shocking everyone."
"Estimated time of arrival?"
"At your discretion sir."
"Take us an hour out, then back."
"Two hours 15 minutes then Admiral."
"Good. We can get this matter closed at once."
Kirk was getting well into his work when comm called. "Admiral Ci'kekher on the line Sir, priority one."
"Got it. Kirk here Admiral."
"Ca'tain Kirk, we can have a
resolution at this time. Could you come to my office at once."
"Yes Sir, shall I call Commander Stiles as well?"
"Yes Ca.... Yes, bring him also. Ci'kekher out."
Kirk frowned at the hesitant
tone. He hit the intercom. "Commander Stiles to the gangway at once."
"Stiles here, acknowledged Captain."
He met Stiles at the gangway. He looked nervous. "Well, Dick, we see the end of this."
"Or the start?"
"Or the start, but at least we will know what we are dealing with."
A few minutes walk took then
to the now familiar door, and into the Admiral's office. Also within
was Admiral Necheyev, and a Commander he didn't know. The whole thing
was starting to smell. Necheyev spoke first. "Captain Kirk, you are perhaps unaware of the serious Intelligence nature of the orders you were given."
"I am unaware of anything about them Admiral, except that they are given."
"Let me make it plain then my
orders. As of this date, the matter is to be considered dropped. No
repercussions will come of the matter, and the matter will be stricken
from the records."
Kirk looked Admiral Necheyev in the eye. "I will have those orders in writing sir."
Necheyev stepped back as if
he had slapped her. "Mr. Kirk, I don't believe I heard you clearly."
"I said sir. I will have
those orders in writing and signed by the issuing officer. Are you are
the issuing officer Sir?"
"Kirk I don't think you
understand the security implications of this matter. I am going to ask
you one more time to reconsider that request."
"I understand perfectly
Admiral. My First Officer was ordered to spy on his commanding officer,
he was secretly given a communicator designed to broadcast everything
in his hearing. A communicator incidentally, he received in your
"You have nothing Kirk, and you're a fool if you think you do."
"The orders in writing Admiral Necheyev. In writing and signed."
"You arrogant asshole. I'll
have you broken to midshipman, you will never sit a center seat again."
Admiral Ci'kekher said
"Admiral Necheyev, you are out of line. Ca'tain Kirk is well within his
rights to request written orders. Do you issue those written orders, or
do you stand down?"
"You're backing him?"
"Yes, I am."
Necheyev turned on Stiles.
"You, you broke orders, it's the only way Kirk could know."
Stiles shook with nervousness. "Yes Sir, yes I did."
"Your career is in the trash, I suggest you quit now, it will be easier on you."
Stiles stiffened. "No Sir, I will not quit. You will have to charge me."
"I made you Stiles. I got you
your command school and your little dream posting. I can just as easily
make it go away."
"Thank you sir, you just
explained a lot to me. You asked me if I could sniff out anyone else
making an end run around the rules, today, that is you sir. No sir, I
will not obey your wrong orders. You want them enforced, you will have
to bring it out in the open, for all to see."
"No Mr. Stiles I don't. I can simply bury you in some backwater like Benson."
Kirk said. "In that case Sir, I will charge him as the immediate commanding officer."
"You are another matter."
Ci'kekher was frowning again. "Admiral Necheyev you are treading dangerous ground."
"I'll have all of you out of here."
Weasel, who had been hanging back, spoke. "Admiral, you will do nothing of the sort."
Necheyev whipped around and
looked at Weasel. "Where are you coming from all of a sudden Weasel?
You work for me."
"For starters Admiral, my
name is Wessel, not Weasel. Investigator Marcus Wessel. I don't work
for you, I work for the Federation Council, Department of Justice,
"I see, it is already too late. Even the Federation Council is overtaken."
"Alynna Necheyev your
delusions that you are the sole authority on what is safe and proper
for the Federation are one of the reasons you are in the position you
are now. You are under arrest, for violations of the Basic Guarantees
of Rights, and for violation of the Treaty of Algeron."
Necheyev stepped back and
reached into her uniform. Before she could withdrawn her hand Ci'kekher
had a battle phaser aimed at her chest. He
clucked at her. "Necheyev, have you never heard it is bad luck to face
the Skoor in a draw down. Bring the hand out em'ty, it was a foolish
move, and before you think brave thoughts, my 'haser is on kill."
Necheyev brought her hand out slowly. It was empty. She slumped.
Ci'kekher pressed the comm. "Security to my office." In a moment the security officers came in. "Admiral Necheyev is under arrest. Take her away."
The two guards searched her and took her weapons, then led her out.
Kirk turned to Ci'kekher.
"The orders have not been issued in written form. Admiral, are my
officers and myself bound by them?"
"No Ca'tain, your are not."
"As to the breach of orders by Commander Stiles?"
Wessel said. "The orders are
illegal. There will have to be a hearing of course, but I can have the
matter cleared in few days. I will also need your logs Admiral, and
dispositions from everyone."
Kirk said "I have an additional logs on my PADD, I will make it available to you."
"Thank you Captain. Excuse me
gentlebeings, but I have to make sure she stays for the trial."
The three remaining looked at each other. Finally Ci'kekher bobbed his head. "I believe we all have work to do."
Kirk said. "Of course. Mr. Stiles?"
The two left the office.
Admiral Ci'kekher placed the phaser back in its accustomed place, and
started to dictate a report of the incident.
Kirk and Stiles didn't say
much until they were back in Kirk's ready room. Kirk went right to the
replicator. "Coffee, black. Want?"
"Ah, in lieu of stronger."
"Brandy, real, override seven." The items appeared on the replicator. Kirk handed Stiles the snifter.
"I thought you didn't approve of drinking, especially on duty."
"Because I never drink myself?"
"I don't like the taste Dick, it's nothing against the practice."
"Oh. Well." He sipped for a moment. "How about the on duty part?"
"Normally yes, but Hell. I
don't know about you, but I have the jitters all the way down."
"And your drinking coffee?"
"Right." Kirk got up and
returned to the replicator. "Scotch, single malt, real, override
seven." The scotch made an appearance. Kirk raised the glass. "To close shaves."
Both men tossed back the
liquor. Kirk grimaced as the scotch burned it's way down. "Blagh. I have ever understood how my father drinks the stuff."
Stiles chuckled at Kirk's
discomfort. "I guess your will never make a drinking man sir."
"No, guess I won't. To business. Do you still want that transfer?"
"Yes, I do. My reasons are no less valid, and might be even more valid."
"I've already contacted Captain Ap Owen. She said she could use you. And the Hadrian
will be in space trials for at least a month more. You have plenty of
time to get back to Earth." Kirk came around his desk, and extended his
hand. "I'm sorry to see you go Dick. It has been good working with you."
Stiles took the proffered
hand and shook firmly. "And with you also Captain. You have taught me
much, thank you."
Stiles left. Kirk stared
after him for a long moment, and turned back to his desk. "Tathilan, get me Admiral Picard, priority three." Kirk sat down to the interrupted work of the morning.
**Picard on channel Tim.**
**That was fast.** "Admiral Picard, Kirk here."
"Yes Captain, what can I do for you. Things have suddenly gotten very hot."
"I know Admiral, I'm in the middle of it. Do you recall our last conversation?"
"Yes, I do."
"Consider me in."
"I will do that."
"One other thing. Commander
Richard Stiles. He has a backbone, and his head is in the right place,
and I believe, his heart. You will be getting reports. Consider him."
"Thank you Captain Kirk, we will. Picard out."
Captain Kirk turned back to the work of getting his ship repaired.
"All rise for the Court."
Judge Advocate Marteel
entered and took his seat. Grim determination marked his features. Once
again Heinbein was in the courtroom proper. This session was being
broadcast to the prison level, to the crew at large. "The Defendant will rise." Heinbein stood, trying to look defiant, and managing only to demonstrate how haggard he was. "Fredrick
Heinbein, you stand accused of an act of piracy in free space, 349
counts of murder in the first degree, one count of attempted murder.
148 counts of kidnapping in association with an act of piracy in free
space. The finding of this court are; Guilty on all counts. This court
sentences you to 488 life sentences, to be served consecutively and the
Coventry Colony Penitentiary. Case closed."
Fredrick Heinbein, late of the Fuher's service, fainted.
floated free of her umbilicals for the first time in over two months.
Her fresh paint proud in the spacedock lights. The great doors rolled
back in the silence, and the stars beyond them beckoned. "Make our regards to spacedock control, thank you for everything."
Miratath answered. "Control replays, you're most welcome, good sailing."
Commander Spacik checked the
XO's boards. "All departments report ready for space Captain."
Kirk looked around the bridge
once more, a few familiar faces missing, a few new faces to learn.
"Mr. Mordane, you may take her out."
The Wages of Sin---- Garry Stahl, October 1999
Subtext 2011 --
This story didn't get a subtext the first time around. I found
myself changing quite a bit of wording that did not please me.
Nothing that changes the outcome, but plenty of little things.
Yes, I arranged a far
different fate for Necheyev. She impressed me as someone far too
loose with the idea of rules, and someone that needed a just fate.
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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: May 1999. All rights reserved, re-print only with permission.