Table of Contents
The Kelvin woman entered quietly and hesitantly, stopping in front of Kirk's desk.
"What can I do for you?" Kirk asked.
Embarrassed, she smiled weakly, "I wish to apologize."
The Captain stiffened noticeably.
Kelinda's smile broadened as if his reaction was expected, "No, not that way."
Relaxing a bit, Kirk indicated the chair across from him. Kelinda sat and remained quiet for a moment, then she gathered herself mentally before speaking. "It's not easy for Kelvins to do this. In fact, I'm not sure it's ever been done before."
A curious Kirk waited patiently for her to continue.
"We were wrong, Captain. We had no idea that humans... that the Federation was capable of... understanding our situation and... helping us."
"It's one of the reasons the Federation was created and it continues to be one of the basic operating principles. Mutual assistance and cooperation makes for a... friendlier neighborhood."
Nodding in agreement, Kelinda explained, "We're beginning to understand. I've been reviewing the Federation historical records with Mr. Spock and Rojan."
"Rojan knows you're here." He stated flatly.
"Yes, of course, in fact, this was his idea." Kelinda responded politely.
Now Kirk relaxed even more. "The existence of the Federation seems difficult for you to understand."
"The Kelvin have only known war. It is the way of our people and one of the reasons we left our galaxy. All of the worlds are in constant war. It's difficult to..."
"...live." Kirk finished the statement with a hint of sympathy.
"Exactly, so now comes the apology." She locked eyes with Kirk. "The woman who died... the one we... killed. I... rather, we... apologize for her death. It was... unnecessary." Then she added quickly, "Did I do that correctly?"
"Absolutely." Kirk smiled slightly, "You're becoming more human all the time."
"And it was all for nothing", Kelinda added.
The brow on Kirk's face took on a deep furrow, "How's that?"
"Hanar and Tomar are working with your Mr. Scott to return your ship to its original specifications. It seems the conversions on your ship would not have worked after all. Long before we would have reached our home world, your ship would have deteriorated to the point of destruction."
"Can any of your technology be used by us?"
Kelinda sighed, "Perhaps. It's being looked into right now. Rojan has instructed all of our people to cooperate with your crew. If it is possible, it will be done, you have our promise."
"Thank you, Kelinda, and thank Rojan for me too."
"Of course, Captain. There is one more thing."
"The crewperson who died..."
Kelinda became uncomfortable. "What can you tell me about her? I'd like to know who she was."
A very surprised Kirk thought for a moment. "I just sent a message to her parents which would tell you who she was and what we thought of her. I'll see that it's forwarded to you."
Rising from her chair, Kelinda nodded. "Thank you, Captain." She turned and left without further conversation.
After shutting his computer down, Kirk followed her out and made a quick trip to the bridge. He found Spock waiting for him, anxious to speak.
"Rojan and his team completed the message to their home world for the robot messenger," Spock declared. "The messenger is operating perfectly and has begun transmitting. The Kelvins are extremely impressed by our willingness to help and share. Evidently it is not a Kelvin trait."
Suppressing a smile, Kirk explained, "I had a conversation with Kelinda about that as well. It seems their sector of Andromeda is in a constant state of war and there is little sharing or helping. Is that all, Spock?"
"Actually, Captain, Command wishes us to investigate a problem in the Morlan Sector. Star Fleet received an S.O.S. call and other ships in that area have failed to call in status reports. Since we are relatively close..."
"Say no more, Mr. Spock, we've been drafted, again." Kirk took the steps down to his chair and sat hard. "Uhura, inform our guests that there will be a slight delay in their arrival at Star Base 22. Then forward to Star Fleet Operations, we are en route to the Morlan sector."
"Aye, sir!" Uhura began working as Kirk and Spock continued their conversation.
"Situation report, Spock"
The Vulcan Science Officer had followed Kirk and was now standing beside him. "The Morlan sector has a vast asteroid belt orbiting a binary star system. The field is a result of the gravitational effect of the two stars which evidently caused the break-up of several planets or prevented them from forming in the first place. It is quite similar to your own asteroid belt between Jupiter and Mars. The Morlan asteroids are exceptionally rich with many types of ores and minerals. Most notable is..."
"...dilithium." Kirk finished with a knowing smile.
"If I may, sir?" Spock seemed impatient.
Sensing his friend's frustration, Kirk adapted a more serious manner, "Continue, Mr. Spock."
"Thank you, Captain. As you may already know, Star Fleet wishes the Morlan sector to be secure. That deep in Federation space, there has never been a problem other than an occasional pirate raid and similar situations."
Mulling over what he had heard, Kirk speculated, "We have three possibilities, Spock. First, Romulans want to weaken Star Fleet by interrupting dilithium shipments. Second, they want the dilithium for themselves. And third..."
"...both," Spock finished, then added, "Which leaves us with even more possibilities. If the cargo ships are missing, it could be evidence the Romulans want the dilithium and took the ships. However, why burden a raiding party with slower ships? It would be an open invitation to being caught."
"But if they brought their own ships Spock, they still create a risk of detection. Logically, the fewer ships involved, the lower the risk, right?"
A nominally surprised Spock nodded, "Yes, Captain, quite logical."
"Then I'm going with the simplest scenario: a Romulan ship, maybe two."
"Indeed, if it is the Romulans," Spock offered another possibility, "It could have been Orion pirates or other criminal types."
"As usual, you're right, Spock," Kirk admitted.
"Of course, sir," Spock added matter-of-factly.
Kirk turned to face his friend. "Let's get there first; then we can determine who is at fault, right?"
An eyebrow shot up on the Vulcan's face, "Most logical, Captain."
"Of course, Mr. Spock," Kirk smiled slyly as if he made a point, then turned to Ensign Chekov. "Helm, lay in a course for the Morlan sector."
The young Russian had anticipated the order and was waiting for this moment. "Course already laid in and waiting, Captain."
A surprised Kirk responded, teasing the helmsman just a bit. "Can you tell me what my next order is going to be?"
Momentarily caught off guard, Chekov took a guess, "Ahead warp six?"
The Captain hid his smile, "Sulu, you heard the Ensign; ahead warp six."
Sulu broke out in a grin and tapped his controls, "Aye, sir... uh, aye, Ensign."