J. Timothy Kirk sat in his office at the High Station of Starbase 59.
He had a great window view of the Orion cluster, but he wasn't
looking at that. Around his office, a fairly spacious one, he had
mementos from his few tours. A Rgeilian blood knife on one wall, a
model of a Manta class battle Cruiser, CB 05 Questing stood
on the credenza, and a holocube of an Ane female sat on his desk. He
looked up from his pile of datawork and gazed at it ruefully. He was
truly tired of every senior Commander that came through quipping
"Hey, Kirk, is that your girlfriend?" However, the
holocube stayed, he needed the reminder.
months ago he asked for this posting because he though the Orion
sector would give him opportunities to fulfill certain oaths.
Corvette commands where a dime a dozen, or so he thought. Admiral
Decatur took one look at his record, or more accurately his name, and
stated "I don't want any loose canons in my corvettes." J.
Timothy Kirk was given command of the repair facilities at Starbase
59. Now he sat writing reports on the condition and repair status of
other people's ships. He supposed he could hit the bars and sample
the night life, but that was not his idea of living large; that was
wasting time. Coffee, strong and black was his only substance of
Red Alert electrified him. He was out of his chair and into opps on
the run. He beat the intercom call by a good two seconds.
the situation Mmcurr?"
Cait Lieutenant looked up as he came in.
alert from Starfleet Command sir."
touched his panel and a voice came over the speakers.
is Admiral J. P. Hanson Starfleet Command. Attention all ships; a
Borg vessel of hostile intent is approaching Earth. All vessels
within three day's range of Wolf 359 proceed to that system in order
to intercept the Borg. This is a general alert, the Federation has
been invaded by a powerful hostile force, all ships within three days
converge at Wolf 359."
broke in, "Admiral Decatur on the line."
that the end of the alert."
was one of Starfleet's "old boys". Privately Kirk didn't
have a lot of confidence in him.
did you get the alert."
sir, we are right on it."
is your plan?"
am standing down to Yellow alert and seeing how fast we can get
whoever is in dock out of dock sir."
about the general call? What can we do?"
frankly nothing. There is not a ship in the dock that could make
Wolf 359 in 72 hours, even if it was ready right now. What I could
use sir is anyone dirtside that can handle a spanner. The faster
these ships are out, the sooner we have use of them."
do you have in?"
Concord, Ambassador class, estimated repair time, 5 days. She
has a blown warp coil, we have the left nacelle half dismantled,
parts are on the dock. USS Ki'tara, Victory class estimated
repair time 32 hours. She has a fire control sensor failure."
Kirk continued off the top of his head. "USS Indefatigable,
Excelsior Class, estimated repair time indefinite, she needs a warp
core, and we don't have one. The core is on order, and scheduled to
arrive in 5 days. The alert may change that. USS Betelgeuse,
Enterprise B class. Estimated repair time, two hours. She is in for
a sensor upgrade and the crew opened the panels this morning."
well, what estimates with additional crew?"
will depend on the crew sir. Hopefully shorter in all cases except
for the Betelgeuse and the Indefatigable."
well Kirk, carry on."
could swear the man was displeased he was on top of things. It was
like he was looking for him to fail.
hours later the USS Betelgeuse pulled out of the repair dock
right on schedule. Kirk had gotten word of Captain Simmons' orders.
He had been ordered to remain guarding the Starbase. The man was all
but seething when he beamed aboard and Kirk turned his ship over to
him. Kirk shook his head. Simmons was a well connected, gung ho,
former desk jockey that had never fired a phaser outside of drill.
Kirk had served on the USS Republic during the Cardassian War.
He had no delusions of the glory of war.
sat in his office and brooded. Reports came in, the fight was not
going well. USS Ki'tara had been put back in service in 24
hours. She too was guarding the Starbase. His crews where swarming
over the Concord like ants. With two ships out of the dock he
had rescheduled six hour, round the clock shifts until she was back
in service. He was telling Decatur four days, privately, he thought
looked back on the reports. The Enterprise D had tried to
stop the Borg near the Neutral Zone, and failed. They had lost
Captain Picard as well. Losing one of Starfleet's senior captains
was a serious blow. Especially since it seemed the Borg could force
you to reveal everything you knew, and use it. He didn't know Picard
personally, but his reputation was well known.
crews surprised him, the Concord was ready in 50 hours. He
verbally rounded on them about the unauthorized double shifts, and
arranged to throw them a party. He also forgot to log the reprimand.
He sat waiting for the Admiral to call him about the unauthorized
use of facilities, but it didn't seem to come. Either Decatur didn't
know about it, or he wasn't quite as bad as Kirk thought. Kirk was
betting on the former.
next week dragged by, everyone on the station lost someone they knew
at the battle. No name was needed, it was just, "The Battle".
The Enterprise D caught up to the Borg and some how succeeded
where she failed before. The Borg where destroyed in earth orbit
itself. Kirk was beginning to believe the blessing of Fate some
people accorded the name "Enterprise". By this point
everyone in station was armed, and depressed.
parts for the Indefatigable came in late. Kirk got shifts
working on the job post haste. Under the circumstances, working
crews where better that idle crews. He was just logging the repair
schedule when his door chimed.
He replied in reflex. He heard the door open and close. He finished
the notations and looked up. Kirk shot out of his chair. Admiral
Decatur in person no less.
me Admiral, to what do I own the pleasure?" Kirk privately
doubted it was a pleasure, but in his five months on station he had
not seen the Admiral other than dirtside.
have orders for you Kirk, I thought I would deliver them in person."
Decatur handed Kirk a PADD, then wandered over to look out the
J Timothy Kirk looked at the PADD twice before the message got
through to him. "Commander James T. Kirk, you are here by
promoted to the rank of Captain, and will immediately assume all
duties and privileges of your new rank. You are further more ordered
to proceed to Starfleet Headquarters, Earth, and await posting to
waited a long minute, until the younger man had assimilated the news
before speaking. "Kirk, I made certain assumptions about you
when you posted here. Assumptions that I am now, ashamed, and
relieved to say, were wrong. You seemed to be an over eager space
cadet about to go out and get himself killed, along with one of my
crews. I posted you to this station figuring the boredom would
stated to open his mouth, the Admiral stopped him. "Let me
finish. I thought you would chaff under the routine of space dock.
Instead you took a so-so facility and turned it into the best it, or
any space dock I have seen, has ever been. Yet, I could tell you did
resent the posting. Why?"
if you resented it, did you bust your butt doing the job you did?"
turned to the window. "Permission to speak freely sir?"
growled, "Yea, I've asked for it."
life, my life, depends on those ships out there. I don't know about
you sir, but I am rather fond of my life. The thought of a ship I
might serve on being maintained by less than the best space dock in
Starfleet would bother me. So I made sure it was the best space dock
in Starfleet. I figured the next guy is as fond of his life as I am
of mine. I'm no engineer, and I know it. So I got out of the way of
the good engineers and let them work. I made it my job to see they
had what it took to do their work with a minimum of hassle."
that include chewing them out for working double shifts, and throwing
was taken aback. "I didn't think you knew about that."
an old dog son. It is a long day to get around me. But, I figured
on giving you your head, sink or swim."
sir, it includes that. I took issue with the safety of double shifts
yes. However, they delivered me a working starship in record time,
on their own time. They deserved a reward that I couldn't officially
give them. It was a small victory when we badly needed victories."
Decatur looked out the window for a long moment. "I think a
starship will be in good hands with you Kirk. By your records you
take action when action is required, and I have personally seen that
you take your crew's well being as your first priority. Starfleet
isn't going to have any gems for you son. Your command is likely
going to be an old tub pulled from mothballs. In any case, I think
you will get the most out of her. Let me be the first to say it.
Congratulations Captain Kirk."
let me take you dirtside and get you sinfully drunk."
Admiral and three Captains tried, unsuccessfully, to get Kirk drunk
that night. He sipped lightly at his drink, and in his time tested
manner added it's contents to that of his companions as the night
progressed. They on the other hand got noticeably worse for the
wear. Kirk considered pulling the commbadge shuffle on them, but
relented due to the heightened state of alert. It was an old Academy
days trick he used to pull on his more inebriated classmates. It
resulted in great amusement for Kirk when his classmates had to argue
with security about who they really where while not in full command
of their faculties.
had ranged from comparative service toppers, he held his own there,
to characters known. Kirk had to admit that Ensign Spork the clumsy
Vulcan was the unbeatable champ. Towards the end of the evening,
talk had turned morbid. He was glad the party broke up.
next morning a miserable Admiral Decatur called Kirk into his office.
Kirk's bright shipshape appearance raised an eyebrow A painful
eyebrow by the looks of it. "Kirk, I have you a ride back to
earth. The Concord has been recalled to sector 001 defense.
With the loss of 39 ships at the Battle, Starfleet is shuffling
everyone else around. Concord leaves in six hours, be on it."
sir. What about my department? I haven't picked a replacement yet."
still worried about space dock?"
good people, and they do a good job. I want to see they get a
department head worthy of them."
you plan to recommend promotion within the department?"
sir, I have three officers in mind. All of them command respect in
the engineering department, but also possess the administrative
skills to run the space dock. They are also of a temperament that
will work well in a desk bound environment."
leave the names on my desk, I'll handle it."
went back to his office at space dock and cleaned it out. He
replicated a case for the model, the holocube, and knife went in his
duffel. Like most young officers he didn't have much in the way of
baggage. A few items of sentimental value, and replicated uniforms.
A quick trip to his quarters bagged the remainder of his personal
possessions; his box of decorations, and two or three other
Decatur called him an hour later. "Kirk, you packed?"
sir, I was about to log myself out of space dock."
Call in Lt Commander Pasteur and congratulate her on her promotion
and new posting. The orders will be on your desk when you get
called the Lt. Commander off work in the dock. She came in wearing
her EVA coveralls.
wanted to see me Captain?"
Mr. Pasteur." Louise Pasteur was a big blond headed woman from
the New Quebec colony. "I have orders for you. You are hereby
promoted to the rank of Commander and will immediately assume the
duties and privileges of that rank. Furthermore you are posted as
Department head of Starbase 59 space dock. Do you accept?"
This was the first time Kirk had given another officer a command, it
was a good feeling.
big Quebecer's face split into a wide grin. "You know I do
sir." Her face slid into more somber expression. "This
means we are losing you, doesn't it?"
I leave in four hours."
Not time even for a proper leave taking. If you will excuse me sir,
I wish to use 'my' desk."
stepped out from behind the desk motioning Pasteur in.
big woman activated the intercom and spoke. "Attention all
space dock personal, This is space dock director Commander Louise
Pasteur. Captain Kirk is leaving us in four hours. Down tools and
report to rec hall 17 QED."
of a first order Commander." Kirk was all grins.
can roast me later sir, but you are not getting off this station
without a proper send off."
it was Kirk made the Concord with only 15 minutes to spare.
It was amazing how rowdy a bunch of engineers can get in three hours
on only synthahol and good feelings. He went through the proper
motions of coming aboard, and went to his quarters. As a second
Captain on a ship he was a fifth wheel and general inconvenience.
Kirk spent most of the voyage back in his latest field of study, Ane.
For a race that had been charter members of the Federation little
seemed to be known of them. Plenty of medical records could be
found. Studies of their psionics were rare but available Of their
culture or psychology very little of substance could be found.
had a good sense of the hidden, and this didn't feel that way. What
he could find suggested that those that had tried to study them had
missed the mark. Well, there was another way. If at all possible,
he was getting an Ane officer for his ship.
ship... He let the phrase roll over his tongue a few times. He
wondered what he would be getting. Ruefully deciding that the best
he could hope for was an old Excelsior or beat up Miranda
class vessel. If, that is, any were left to be had.
trip went quickly. Kirk soon found himself back in Admiral
Kowaliski's office. The Admiral came around his desk to shake his
back Kirk. Good voyage I hope?"
I have work for you right off." He consulted a PADD. "USS
Kongo NCC 10455. She is an Ambassador class vessel. A thirty
five year old hull. She is in refit right now. Take command and see
she is ready for space as soon as possible. The computer core is out
of the ship. Her warp drive is unserviceable and will require
complete replacement. Otherwise the ship is fit. We are short on
crew. So you might have to scrounge a little."
Captain, good luck."
took an inspection pod out to the Kongo. He had to pilot it
himself. The automatic control followed the precoded route
perfectly. Kongo was a pool of light among the other pools.
Half forgotten starships in the back corners of the space dock were
suddenly very important. Kongo as an Ambassador class
starship was the familiar saucer, secondary hull, and raised nacelles
design that Starfleet heavy cruisers had used for over a hundred
years. She was a third smaller that the newer Galaxy class ships,
and the Ambassadors had a reputation for being slugs. Right now she
looked a fright. Both nacelles where missing and sections of the
hull where open to space. A few blast scars on the hull told him she
was an old fighting lady. In spite of everything, to him she looked
Commander Quall met him at the lock with a suitable delegation of the
ships crew. While not in dress uniforms, they where shipshape. Kirk
read himself in. A ceremony that dated as far back as vessels that
sailed on seas powered by sails.
the formal taking of command, he had Quall brief him on the state of
truth Captain Kirk, the ship has no officers. I am the chief of the
refit crew." The long faced Catullan seemed genuinely sad about
the ship have any assigned crew?"
Captain, their are currently 50 members of the ships company."
would you like a permanent posting as Chief Engineer?"
would like to consider your offer Captain, I think I would like to
work with you for a while first."
was a little taken back. Most engineers would jump at the offer.
However, honesty was to be valued. "Understood, consider the
offer open. Now, how much ship is there?"
currently have no warp core, and no warp drive. The ship's main
computer is off line and removed. Only 30% of the hull is
pressurized at this time. We could, in an emergency be ready for
impulse operations in 48 hours. Back up computers are still in
the design been finalized for the upgrades?"
sir. There as been considerable debate over the proper way to
proceed. The refit has languished for some time."
had a glimmer of a thought, but a thought none the less. "I
have some ideas. Don't do anything about the warp system until you
hear from me."
days of exhaustive research told him that his crazy idea was
possible. From an engineering standpoint it would work. Further
research revealed that the parts where available. The biggest
problem was convincing the Admiralty that it was a sound idea. Kirk
knew that doing the job was going to be a lark in comparison to
looked out the window of his ready room off of the darkened bridge.
He could see another starship undergoing refit. USS Harrier,
a Constellation type, older than his ship. Some sort of skunkworks
project. He couldn't find straight answers about it. In any case,
this was going to be tough, but it should be straight forward.
stood before Admiral Kowaliski and company with his presentation.
"...In conclusion sirs, the proposed refit will give the Kongo a
power curve comparable with the Galaxy class ships and vastly
increase the capacity of the ship for long term cruise and defense
missions. By all indications this should corrected the Ambassdor's
reputation as a sluggish mover in both tactical and stragic roles.
This modification will increase the safety of the ship as well."
leaned back in his chair. "Ambitious Kirk." He looked
over at Admiral Quinn, whom he had invited in on the private
briefing. "Quinn, do you want to tell him why it will not work,
or should I?"
looked confused. Quinn stood up. "Computer."
this room, code alpha alpha one, Admiral Quinn identifying."
of Admiral Quinn confirmed, this room is secure.]"
what you are to learn here is not to leave this room, is that clear."
sir." Kirk was truly confused now. What was so deathly secret?
play spacedock logs on USS Sorcerer NCC 2040 stardate 12173.2"
clearance required alpha alpha one.]"
Quinn, clearance alpha alpha one."
computer beeped, and the log played over the screen. The old
uniforms and forgotten faces once again played their parts.
the Sorcerer is powering up."
Isn't she in the breaker yard."
sir, the ship is at operational power, and she is casting off."
screen cut to the interior of the old space dock. A ship of an
unfamiliar Federation design with a wide and angular secondary hull
was pulling away from the dock. Kirk had never seen this class of
ship. Something was funny about it, something different. Then it
hit him. The nacelles where of an older Ane design.
who is on that ship, stop them! All stations red alert!"
this is space dock control, who is there? You are ordered to
surrender at once."
soft but angry voice came over the speakers. "NO, I will not be
inhabitants of space dock control looked flabbergasted.
one is killing any one" said the Admiral. "Return to dock
want to kill me, I will not be murdered. Open the doors or I cut
that ship, find out who is on board and get them off."
Lieutenant bent to the task and came up quickly. "Sir, there is
no one on board."
Sorcerer spoke again. "Open the doors or I blast them, I
Ensign turned to the Admiral "Sir, the Sorcerer is powering up
its phasers." the kid looked scared.
Admiral paused a beat then spoke. "Open the doors, and secure
all transporters and ships, I want a head count."
they watched the rouge ship exited space dock and vanished into warp.
recording." Quinn stood once again. "Further
investigation proved that no one was on the Sorcerer when it
was 'hijacked'. Shortly there after the USS Xanadu NCC 2053
experienced, rather reported, a fatal breach in antimatter
containment near Andor. The crew abandoned ship. And the ship
promptly warped away from them. They where retrieved with no lost of
life. The Xanadu herself reported their location, after she
was abandoned, and from several light years distant. Neither ship
was ever seen again.
ships were an experimental design, and the only two in their class.
They had Ane designed warp drives, and Crystalmind G1;Mk16 computers.
Both ships had full service lives and no incidents against them.
But both vanished when it was decided to scrap them. The matter was
hushed and declared secret. This is why your plan will not work
Kirk, Starfleet is never going to put a Crystalmind computer in a
Federation starship again.
talks with the computers' designers revealed that the G1 computers
had a tendency to become self aware. A factor that was not known
when the computers where installed in the Sorcerer and the
figured it was now or never. "Sir, have you read my report from
the Questing shakedown incident?"
Captain, other events precluded it at the time, and it slipped into
I am recommending this computer and engine arrangement because I know
the computer is sentient."
was Quinn's turn to sit down in stunned silence. "You want
an aware ship?"
without the help and concern of the ship for the safety of the crew,
I could not have stopped the hijack attempt. Indeed, Fiealan
herself, the computer, I can't think of her as just 'the computer',
insisted on installing me as Captain, and following my every order.
I think I know what happened with the Sorcerer and the Xanadu.
I also can assure you that will not happen again.
eyebrows got lost somewhere in his forehead. "That is a mighty
broad statement Captain. Can you back it up?"
sir. It has to do with what Kosoban, the engineer on the Questing,
told me. Ane computers today are RI, real intelligence. As he
said; '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.' I want such a
have to ask sirs, are we ready to condemn an entire life form for the
actions of two individuals? If Commander Data is acceptable, why
should a less mobile computer not be? What happens when Commander
Data is due a promotion? Do we suddenly decide that having a brain
and a body that was built instead of born makes you an inferior type
of sentience, incapable of captaining a ship? Do we want to stand on
that slippery slope and take a step?
I respectfully submit that condemning all sentient ships' computers
because of one incident is tantamount to an unwarranted prejudice.
The very type of policy that this service was founded to help
eradicate. Ane have assigned such a sentience to every ship they put
into space since the Unity class of 80 years ago. They have never
experienced a single disciplinary problem. I know, I asked, and I
checked it. Bearing that 80 year record against the incident of two
apparently frightened and lonely children. I submit that a
rethinking of policy is in order."
remained silent for several minutes. "Captain Kirk, I cannot
guarantee you your engines, or your computer, but you have just given
me reason to try. I will fight for this. And, if I can get them, I
have something in mind for your first assignment."
Quinn was good to his word. He did fight for it, and won. The Kongo
was towed to the Mars Utopia Planitia docks for an extensive refit.
Kirk had plenty of time for his studies, in the most empirical sense.
He worked with Ane every day.
year later Kirk mused that he was still doing the same job he had
done on Starbase 59. The only difference was he concentrated all his
efforts on one ship. The Kongo now looked a proper ship. She
was however, not the ship she used to be. Angled pylons held the
warp nacelles with their twin fins iridescent in the lights. Two of
the Ane designed torpedo turrets where mounted in the saucer at port
and starboard. Deep in the ship the twin chambered heart of the dual
warp core awaited its first beats. The new brain went through
mindless drills in testing systems. The small Crystalmind computer
took a fraction of the space allotted for it. Which was good,
because the hungry torpedo turrets demanded a larger share of the
ship for magazines. The ship had changed inside and out in a
thousand drastic and subtle ways, and Kirk had to learn all of them.
ship finally had some crew to speak of as well. A full engineering
staff was now assigned. As events turned out Lt. Cmd Quall didn't
end up has his chief engineer. He would have had to re-qualify for
the post. His Chief Engineer was an Ane. Felialan was two parts
crusty engineer, and one part nymph. She flirted with anything male,
regardless of species. His other engineers ran the full spectrum of
other departments where not as well represented. The command
structure was thin, the sciences existed only in the form of the
computer support staff, and one of them an Ane as well. He was
assured that he would have plenty of Ane by the time he was ready to
sail. They did not like to be alone. Between the crew and mates,
and possible children, he could end up with as many as 30 Ane on
was careful in choosing the rest of his crew. The Ane where
merciless when it came to pompous, hidebound, or self important
persons. Some Lt. Commander in Intelligence came sniffing around the
Kongo, and the dozen Ane working on the ship took it as a
personal crusade to drive the man off the Utopia Planitia space dock.
A week later it took four security men to drag the frothing,
screaming man out of the Station director's office. He claimed that
"Marvin the Martian" was going to blow up the Earth. "A
little fellow with a funny helmet and big shoes." Kirk heard
vaguely as the man was dragged away. Kirk had no idea what it all
meant, but the Ane where in a smug mood after he was gone.
was learning fast. Ane had no sense of physical privacy. While they
respected the privacy of others, a learned response, they didn't
reciprocate as regards their own privacy, they didn't have, or need
any. The "no mating in the corridors" request was not a
joke. He had to institute a similar rule himself after he found the
one couple engaged in the officer's lounge. They kindly flicked out
of existence when he requested they move it to the sleeping room.
Spacik his Vulcan helmsman had been calmly sipping his tea the whole
time. As he related.
remarkable Captain. They were here when I arrived and that was 56.45
didn't you ask them to leave?"
were here first Captain."
Vulcans had their own peculiar ways as well.
was another thing that took getting used to, teleportation. The
first time that happened it cost him ten years off his life. He
paged Felialan, who was down in engineering to the bridge. She was
there before he had finished the page. POW, right in front of him.
didn't turn to face you when they "talked". Only the ones
that had long experience with humanoids did this. Most of them kept
doing what they where doing. He learned they had 270 degree vision,
and an ear cocked in your direction was the equivalent of their full
attention. They would only turn to face you if you where right
behind them, and not always then. He also learned that "full
attention" could be a misnomer. Ane it seemed possessed the
ability to time share their brain. The could easily do several
things at once, as long as only one of them was physical.
education was teaching him one thing. All the papers written on Ane
behavior where pure trash. Ane thought "behaviorists" and
"sociologists" a joke and loved to feed them just what they
wanted to see and hear. In plain standard, from the late 20th
century to the present, there was not a single unbiased, unpolluted,
study of Ane culture on the books. Ane didn't write books about
their culture, they lived it.
a cybernetic crewman was not as easy as Kirk thought it would be. He
found his prejudice where computers where concerned was not entirely
gone. For some reason he thought they would all be like . As it
turned out each was an individual as any other people would be.
things that surprised him is that 90% of the personalities where
"female". It was explained that gender was not programed
into the basic kernel. For reasons even the programmers did not
understand most chose female. Only 10% of the RIs were male.
Ane found five computers interested in becoming a ship's computer on
a Federation vessel, and Kirk extensively interviewed all five until
he found the crewman that best matched his own personality and style.
Tathilan was perky and curious, and had no habits he could call
faults. So she was assigned.
also learned that Commander Data had been assigned a temporary
command during the attempted Romulan interference with an attempted
coup in the Klingon High Council. He thought to himself, that
perhaps his faith in Starfleet was not misplaced yet.
year and six months after he had read himself aboard the Kongo
the day of truth had arrived. The Kongo floated in space
outside the Utopia Planitia space dock. Kirk sat in the sacred
center seat. The ship drifted away from Mars at minimum impulse.
said. "Mr. Spacik all stop."
to engineering, you may initiate warp start-up. Give me ten percent
view screen cut to engineering and a shot of the twin warp cores.
Lights came on the panels around it, plasma lightning played over the
interior of the cores. Then with a deep throated throb, first one
core, then the other flashed with the power of dying matter and
anti-matter. They quickly settled down to a steady alternating beat.
reporting sir, we have warp core critical and balanced at ten
well Mr. Felialan, give me 100% nominal power. Mr Spacik, warp
laid in, Warp Factor 1 for Starbase 1."
Kongo leapt forward into warp with smooth grace. To general
jubilation of all aboard.
the next three months Kirk put her through every conceivable test
that Starfleet engineers could think of. The Kongo proved
that the mating of Ane drive and computers to Federation hull and
systems was working flawlessly. At last, reluctantly, they declared
her space worthy. A forgotten, battle-weary, Lady of the fleet was
reborn a maiden anew.
sat in Admiral Quinn's Office at the Admiral's request. "Sir,
I have been declared the Captain of a space worthy starship. I
understand that I have a bit of a record for a refit of that
smiled and leaned back in his chair. "Yes, you do. Your 5
months in a space dock have served you well."
to be abrupt sir, but I doubt you asked me here to talk about how
well I run a refit. Considering my last conversation with you, would
I be amiss to assume you have something for me to do?"
Kirk, I have something. It might not be glamorous or glory seeking,
but it just might close a chapter, a unpleasant chapter, in Starfleet
history. Come with me."
lead Kirk into a map room.
secure this room, code alpha alpha one."
clearance required.]" Kirk noted the difference, after six
months with a sentient computer, the average Starfleet computer had
become a boring dolt.
answered, "Admiral Quinn, clearance alpha alpha one."
swarmed into focus. Kirk recognized the core of the Federation.
From Earth and Andor tracks lead away from the Galactic center, and
at a considerable angle to the galactic plane.
explained. "These are the tracts taken by the Sorcerer
and the Xanadu when they broke away. Computer, next image."
The scale backed way off until the two tracks appeared to be one.
"We tracked the ships as long as possible. If you trace their
paths, they intersect this point." The map shifted again to
indicate a small star. "This is NGC 23,234,235. An
unremarkable white dwarf. If the ships can be found, I think it will
be at this location. Once you pass that point, it is a billion light
years plus until you find anything."
want me to find the Sorcerer and the Xanadu?"
want you to try."
would be six months out and six months back at max cruising speed to
reach that star."
Kirk, I am aware of that. I twisted a few arms to get this mission.
Kongo is the best ship for the job. She looks more like the
Sorcerer class than any other ship Ane or Starfleet. You have the
right kind of computer, and you have the speed to make the mission in
a reasonable amount of time. Incidentally you will be taking a lot
of pictures. You will be further above the galactic plane than any
manned Federation vessel has ever gone. Do you accept the mission?"
sir, with the trouble you have gone to, and the argument I gave you
when I purposed the refit, I can hardly refuse."
I'll have a few specialists coming aboard. You should be ready in a
do I tell my crew?"
going on a long duration scientific mission. Call it the Deep Space
Polar Survey. They should prepared to be away from any base for at
least a year an a half."
aye Sir. Do you expect me to find anything out there? Could the
ships still be functioning after this amount of time, or is this to
confirm their death?"
is technically possible for the computers to still be functioning. A
Crystalmind computer can work for years on the power in a phaser
cell. By moving at a minimum speed, and conserving power, yes, they
could still be functioning. The ships batteries alone could sustain
them for over 170 years."
well sir, with your permission, I'll get started."
voyage was as uneventful as they come. After taking on a few extra
supplies and astrophysicists, Kongo departed without fanfare.
The long cruise did give his crew time to settle in. Two Vulcans,
five Andorians, seven Caits, 23 Ane, humans and humanoids from a
dozen different worlds. The crew was a true eclectic mix. Kirk
encouraged inter-cultural mixing as much as possible.
four months out the view astern was breathtaking. The entire
Sagittarius arm of the Milky Way lay behind them in all its glory.
The view before them was, disturbing. NGC 23,234,235 was too faint
to see without a very long exposure with the most sensitive of
optical sensors. It had been found by a deep sky survey 143 years
ago. First thought to be a distant galaxy, a parallax measurement
proved it was a faint white star much closer. Instead of the usual
stars streaking past the viewscreen showed only empty space. Kirk
contemplated the awe inspiring view from his ready room.
log, stardate 46565.3. We are five months and three weeks into our
voyage. Astrophysics has confirmed the location of NGC 23,234,235,
we are on course and cruising at Warp 8. No indication or debris
from the missing ships has been found. It is entirely possible that
they never even came this far out, but turned back at some point. In
any case, we have come this far, we will complete the mission. Crew
morale is high, and we have come together well. At this time the
crew is aware of the mission. I can't ask them to hunt for something
if I don't tell them what it is. I do not have high hopes for
finding the two ships."
week later Kongo entered the system of NGC 23,234,235. Kirk
once again sat the center seat.
one half impulse please."
half impulse Captain."
you may begin your scans."
floated 23 AUs from the star. A faint white light a long distance
tuned to him. "Captain, I have an IFF signal."
atmosphere on the bridge became suddenly electric.
Kirk sat on the edge of his seat.
is faint, and corrupted. Federation starship, Identity unknown."
think we can take three guesses, and the first one doesn't count.
Take us in, slowly, standard hail. Tathilan do your thing."
crew of the Kongo waited as the closed with the lost ship.
cut in. "Captain, I have an identity. It's the 'Xanadu'."
ship focused into view, it was slowly tumbling in solar orbit.
answer on that hail?"
cut in. Her tone was strained. **I'm getting something.**
you pipe it in."
long undulating wail came over the speakers. It cut to the very
soul. Spacik closed his eyes, breathing evenly, the Ane at the
sciences station just shuddered from nose to tail and back.
what are we hearing?"
sir, it's in pain.** Her voice was very soft.
Solin." Kirk turned back to opps. "What is the condition
of the ship?"
life support, no gravity, minimal power to computer systems and
sensors. No anti-matter being read, the warp core is dead. Main
impulse reactors are also dead. Batteries are 40% functional."
hit the intercom. "Engineering, I need an away team to the
Xanadu, see if you can get some life support in the computer
core. Mr. Faiee use the tractors to stabilize the ship and take it
in tow." Kirk sat back in his chair and hoped the fusillade
of orders would cover the shakes. By God that sound cut
right through him.
hours later with the engineering team away and the Xanadu in tow,
astrophysics sent word up. "Sir, we have located one planet."
well, helm, get coordinates from Astrophysics, and take us there."
planet was no gem. A rock the size of Mars with no atmosphere to
speak of an in total rotational lock. It took three hours to find
the Sorcerer. She lay mangled over eight kilometers of barren
rock. It took another five minutes to find "The Box." The
Box was 203 meters on a side, and perfectly smooth. An artifact if
ever there was one.
worked the Box over while engineering got the Xanadu suitable
to work on. A third team looked over the remains of the Sorcerer.
Kirk was grateful for nothing else than the crew as busy.
2000 hours he called a briefing of the away teams and senior
started. "Felialan, what is the condition of the Xanadu?"
ship is beyond salvage. I have gravity and atmosphere in the
computer core. This will kill the remaining batteries in 3 days.
They will not take another charge. Recovery can begin at any time.**
we will start right after this briefing. Regiban, what is the word
of The Box?"
alien artifact as we first surmised. It has internal structure, and
will open, however, we do not yet have the nondestructive means to
open it. We are still scanning it hoping it will reveal its
on that one. Lt. Thass, what about the Sorcerer?"
recovered the marker buoy, and all the black boxes. The computer was
physically cracked. We have the surviving data banks physically on
board. Not many survived. All of them have been turned over to
will continue to work on The Box. And see if we can help Xanadu."
spent a restless night. He gave up the try at sleep half way through
you ships talk to each other?"
Captain, we do.**
talk with Fiealan?"
I had some rather long conversations with her before I agreed to take
this posting. I wanted to know what I was getting into.**
guess you know a bit about me then?"
to know that I would like you.**
need some advice?"
will do my best.**
not getting the full effect of that cry, I know this. What am I up
got quiet. **Pain, the pain of loss, the pain of loneliness. The
child without home or parents, the friend abandoned by death.**
you had time to digest the logs?"
start with, both ships orbited the planet, and scanned the box. 52.3
years ago, the Sorcerer suffered a thruster failure. Neither
ship had the means to fix anything. Sorcerer went down as we
have seen. Xanadu moved to solar orbit, and has been there
since as the ship slowly died around it. It has been alone since
happens if we cannot cure it?"
would be up to you, but I can tell you what I would want.**
would want to be turned off.**
would kill you."
Captain, an insane biological, can be given drugs, or therapy, time
may heal the wounds. A computer doesn't have drugs, time heals
nothing. Sentient as we are, we are different. The insanity itself
feeds upon itself because you are by nature an aware and rational
creature that remains so even when irrationality takes you over. You
are insane, and know you are insane. We are, made in the image of
the high lobe is aware, even if the hindbrain is in full mental
a Human that would be called schizophrenic."
would be Humans. Even when an Ane is, for example, frightened to the
point of the loss of bodily control, the high lobe will calmly note
the matter and rationally look for a way out of it, or a means of
preventing it from happening again, provided this is survived.**
this has a down side?"
insanity is rare, because it is usually fatal. Fatal diseases do not
tend to carry into the next generation as a rule.**
laughed in spite of himself. "Yea, we can't be totally morbid
over this can we? I had really hoped for a nice heroic resolution to
this. Life seldom leads to that kind of answer." Kirk got up
and got dressed. "I wanted to find the two ships eagerly
wanting to be taken home like two lost puppies. To little, too late
is what we are."
might not be totally too late, where there is life, there is hope."
hope can you offer Tathilan?"
we can get passed the wall of pain, and make contact, that might be
enough. Among my luggage is a G3;Mk21 biomech.**
will that help?"
is the advanced computer backup. Free standing and fully functional.
A body for the lost soul.**
that your emergency back up?"
I still have the social body. It will have to do if required, but
under the circumstances I'll chance it.**
that will work and you are willing we'll try it. Time to face the
came on the bridge just as the Gamma shift was logging out. Alpha
shift was coming on. Mr. Spacik came up to him.
I have a suggestion as to how to contact The Box."
lets have it."
experience has demonstrated that technology is developed in parallel
for the simple reason that physics demands it. For example, warp
technology is developed on dozens of worlds independent of each
we wish to contact The Box sir, logic suggests we contact it. I
suggest we hail The Box with subspace radio."
laughed. "A sensible suggestion Mr. Spacik. Mr. Faiee, hail
The Box, universal greetings of peace and friendship."
all waited a long minute. Mr. Faiee spoke. "Sir, the box is
opening. Hail is being returned in kind."
was on his feet. "Away team to the transporter room, we have
The Box opened."
long week later The box survey was over. Preliminary reports
indicated that it was placed as a marker by a civilization that
passed this way 6 million years ago. They seemed similar to the
Federation in many respects, including technology. How they got the
thing to last six million years was till under speculation.
warned Kirk that the recovery team was returning from the Xanadu
with a "package". He got the codes he needed and got to
the transporter room in time to see them beam in. Five Ane, one of
them had a true "frightened deer" look about it. The
others clustered about her and got her into their quarters quickly.
was that our lost child."
sir, she is in pretty bad shape. Consensus is that if she makes it,
she'll never serve as a computer again.**
do you do with a computer than can't compute?"
stick her in a social suit and let her live out her life. There are
also other techniques for handling the problem.**
take it these are not widely talked about."
sir, they are not. Ask me no questions, I'll tell you no lies.**
the rest of the crew still over there."
stepped on the transporter "Chief,
beam me to the Xanadu."
arrived directly in the computer core. "Mr Regiban, it is your
opinion that the computer cannot be recovered."
done what we can sir.**
I have the interlock codes. Where is the switch?"
indicated the proper panel. Kirk walked to it, entered the interlock
code and turned the computer off.
Regiban, you will see that the memory is wiped."
knew it was a farce, he still felt like he had killed a child.
he got back to the Kongo he called Tathilan. "Call a meeting of
the department heads, one hour."
looked over the assembled officers. "What I propose is to leave
a box of our own. We have a perfectly functioning computer on the
Xanadu, the damaged personality has been wiped from the memory. The
question is how to power it for an indefinite time."
spoke. **I believe we have an answer for that. The Box produces a
kind of stasis field around the contents It has several unused power
outlets. We can make a power converter to adapt to the box power
supply, and leave the computer in he box.**
sounds like a plan to me. Make it so."
locked on the Xanadu sir."
looked around the bridge. A great deal of effort was being expended
by all present to keep a calm exterior. "Call the ship to
ancient whistle sounded through the intercom. Kirk read the burial
of the dead. "...Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, we commit to the
endless stars the remains of out honored dead, children lost in
ignorance, Sorcerer and Xanadu. We knew them by no other names."
ship snapped to attention, and the bugle sounded that ancient four
tone dirge. Tears now flowed freely, and without shame.
torpedoes lanced out, and struck the Xanadu, she died in fire
as she was born.
log, stardate 46582.6 We are outward bound from NGC 23,234,235.
to the Federation Astrophysics Society are the names 'Xanadu's Star'
for NGC 23,234,235, and 'Sorcerer's Fall' for NGC 23,234,235 one.
of the USS Sorcerer and the USS Xanadu. USS Sorcerer was found on
NGC 23,234,235 one, completely destroyed. No survivors. USS Xanadu
was found in solar orbit. The computer sentience was judged
irrevocably insane, and under the advice of Sciences Officer Cmd.
Regiban, Ships Chief Medical Officer Lt. Cmd. Hanson, and Ships
computer Tathilan, I personally shut the computer down, and ordered
the memory cores wiped. USS Xanadu was judged to be beyond salvage,
and was destroyed in orbit around NGC 23,234,235 one.
on the Alien data packets recovered from The Box continue. We left
Federation records and cultural files on all Federation worlds on our
own computer in The Box. It now appears we are not the first to have
done so. From the construction of The Box that seems to be its
intended purpose. We leave it in hope that like the histories we
have recovered, this too will benefit future civilizations that seek
out this place."
closed the log. And slumped back into his chair in the ready room.
He had decided that officially dead was a better fate for the Xanadu.
And the Ane helped him out on that one. Seems they had ways and
means to heal the poor thing. But this was better done without
Starfleet poking into the matter. He planed to inform Quinn, and
hoped the Admiral saw it the same way. It was a long six months back
to the Federation. He would burn that bridge when he came to it.
Star -- By Garry Stahl October 1997
computers are the one true technical breakthrough that Ane are
responsible for. The Nanotronic Crystalmind systems are ranked in
three generations and a number of models. The generation one, or G1
computer have mostly gone out of use. These systems and the
complexity to become self aware easily. A fact that was not apparent
to the designers. Only the simpler systems that do not possess the
necessary complexity threshold are still in service. G2 systems are
much the same as the G1. however, certain design changes prevent the
systems from becoming sentient. The G2; systems account for 99.9% of
the operational systems not in Ane possession. Nothing special about
them other than the fact they are ultra small, very powerful, and run
on next to no power. G3 system are designed to become sentient. The
Ane themselves possess almost all of these systems.
systems run from the very small to starship control size. The Mark 1
is a personal organizer A super PADD, the size of a long wallet and
5mm thick when folded. The Mark 16 can run a starship, or a planet.
It is the size of a small desk. Marks of 17 or higher indicate a
specialized use computer and can be large or small as the use
requires. Marks 1 thru 10 are available in G2; only as they lack the
complexity to become self aware. Marks 11-16 are available in G3:,
Marks, 17+ vary in availability of G2 and G3 systems. A G2;Mk12
system would be all the 24th century equivalent of Ford Motor Company
would need in computer power.
computers blew the Daystrom Multitronic systems out the door.
Business snapped them up. Isoliner chip systems hold their own in
computing power, but the Crystalmind systems have lower power
consumption and size. Isoliner systems are more scalable and
cheaper, but considerably bulkier. Both conform to the single
computer standard (SCS) used in the Federation.
2011 -- In preparation for Richard
Merk creating e reader files the story was given an editing pass and
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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.