Table of Contents
On the Enterprise, Uhura announced, "Final transport complete, Captain."
Kirk's voice boomed out, "Shields and screens up. Stand by on phasers, Sulu! Navigator, put some distance between us and the alien fleet!"
"Aye, sir," came the dual responses.
Before either man could act on Kirk's orders, Spock's voice rang out over the intercom, "Captain, Commander Weston is still on board the Kitty Hawk."
Kirk blanched, "Belay those orders!" After tabbing the intercom, he continued, "Spock, get her back!"
"Not possible, Captain, Commander Weston has re-established the Kitty Hawk's shields."
Kirk was about to respond when, Riley announced, "The Kitty Hawk underway, sir. Making point seven five, sub-light on a heading... towards for the alien fleet!"
"Uhura, see if you can contact Weston and find out what's going on."
"Nearest alien is firing at the Kitty Hawk, Captain." Ferrell's warning came a split second before the inevitable impact.
"We don't dare lower our shields now, sir, we'd be a sitting duck." Sulu had stated the obvious, but Kirk was reluctant to accept it as fact.
"Captain, I have Commander Weston," Uhura exclaimed excitedly.
Kirk slapped his intercom with a vengeance. "Weston, get off that ship! Lower your shields!"
"Can't do that, sir; I'm captain of this ship. If the Kitty Hawk won't survive, I'll go down with her, fighting. Thanks for the opportunity of having my own command. A bit of advice, sir, better take the Enterprise as far away as possible. I'm not sure how long I can hold off the aliens or the port engine's demise. Besides, I've got one more thing to do, Weston out!"
Static then filled the air and Kirk cut the communication. "Sulu, open fire on the nearest alien, distract them from the Kitty Hawk."
The bridge echoed with the sound of the ship's main phasers as Spock exited the turbolift. "Captain, the aliens are determined to take the Enterprise and the Kitty Hawk. Their mental impressions are very strong now and quite... overwhelming. We must leave this sector immediately; we are in grave danger."
Kirk was angry. He didn't want to leave Weston behind, but his options were very limited. Out of frustration he slammed the arm of the command chair once again.
"Kitty Hawk firing weapons, sir," Riley stated flatly.
Farrell then added, "Kitty Hawk altering course to meet the alien fleet head on, dead center, sir."
"Get us out of here, Sulu, best possible speed. Keep up continuous fire on aliens as we move." Kirk sounded defeated.
"Aye, sir." Even Sulu sounded dismayed.
Spock relieved Riley at the Science Station and in short order, Chekov and DeSalle appeared. Kirk turned to see the pair exiting the turbolift.
"I'm sorry, Captain. I didn't know what Weston was planning..." DeSalle's voice trailed off.
"It's okay, Commander. No one could have anticipated her actions."
DeSalle stepped forward and handed Kirk a group of data tapes. "Ship's logs and records, sir."
Kirk accepted the tapes and nodded. "Thanks; please assist Mr. Scott in engineering."
As DeSalle turned to leave, Chekov relieved Farrell quickly and efficiently.
"Sulu, main viewer aft, maximum magnification."
With a flick of his wrist, Sulu reset the viewer as directed. "Aye, sir; main viewer aft."
The screen shimmered for a moment and revealed a terrifying sight. The Kitty Hawk was being hammered by dozens of alien ships. The alien's threat of more ships on the way was far from idle. Some of the new arrivals were now pursuing the Enterprise.
Everyone on the bridge studied the image closely as the Kitty Hawk waded into the alien ships until the port nacelle finally burst into a brilliant bloom of light.
"Engine has exploded as planned, Captain." Spock sounded subdued as he continued. "The aliens were caught completely off guard, many ships destroyed or badly damaged. Either the idea of beings destroying their own ship was totally foreign to them or they were simply caught up in the idea of capturing the Kitty Hawk and ignored the possibility."
The bridge was now quiet, except for the omnipresent background chatter of circuits and equipment.
Finally, the silence was broken by Sulu's report, "Pursuing aliens have turned back. They are no longer following us, sir."
"They may be worried that we will self-destruct too," Chekov offered.
"Not an unreasonable assumption, Ensign." Spock approached Kirk quietly, "Orders, sir?"
"Continue on this course until we meet the rescue fleet. Have Uhura send an update on our situation and include an E.T.A."
"Yes, sir." Spock remained at the captain's side.
"Stand down from red alert and take the weapons off-line", Kirk said quietly. "Let's concentrate on repairs and tending to our casualties. Our priority needs to be the radiation decontamination procedures."
Kirk stood and took the steps to the turbolift. "Spock, I'll be in my quarters filing my report on recent events. I'll want your perspective on that as well." That said, he entered the turbolift and disappeared behind the doors, leaving the bridge quiet once again.
Hours later, as Kirk completed his report to Starfleet, Doctor McCoy let himself into the Captain's duty office. "Anybody home?"
"Come in, Doctor. Do you have your report ready?"
Smiling, the ship's surgeon held up a bright yellow data tape, "Just ask and it shall be done." With a flourish, he laid the tape on the desk, then pulled up a nearby chair. Sitting opposite of his friend, he studied the familiar face closely.
Without looking up, Kirk asked quietly, "How is the young Andorian doing?"
"It will take some time, but he will make a full recovery. However, that's just the physical side of the injuries. Mentally, he's much worse, Jim."
Kirk looked up, curious about McCoy's remarks, "How so?"
"Survivor's guilt; a double dose this time. Even though he was in sickbay at the time, he says he should have saved Weston." McCoy sighed, "I really missed the diagnosis on this one, Jim."
Kirk stopped working and leaned forward. "We all did, Bones. You, me, Spock, Uhura, and even Scotty was fooled by Weston's attitude, energy level and positive outlook. All she wanted was to do her job. Once she had that, we all believed she was fine."
Dissatisfied with his friend's explanation, McCoy continued. "It still feels like we... I should have done more." McCoy was staring at Kirk then added, "And how are you doing?"
Surprised by McCoy's question, he responded bluntly, with just a tinge of anger. "I feel like I should have done more, for Weston, her crew, the Kitty Hawk and the whole situation in general. I don't like a no-win situation and this one really... stinks."
With a slight grin, McCoy asked, "Is that what you said in the report to Starfleet? It stinks?"
Relaxing just a bit, Kirk returned the grin. "In so many words..." He left the sentence unfinished.
"If it makes you feel any better, I said the same thing in my report. I also filed my official medical report with the Surgeon General's Office and it says the same thing." He paused a moment, then continued, "Spock's report will read the same, too, except he will use bigger words and a lot more of them." McCoy finished with a weak smile.
"You know what's in his report?" Kirk was surprised.
"We talked about it. We both agreed you can't blame yourself for everything that happened. I doubt the 'old man' himself could have done any better. From what Spock learned from his mental impressions, Starfleet and the Diplomatic Corps will be hard pressed to deal with those aliens."
"I doubt the Admiral of the Fleet would approve of being referred to as the 'old man,' especially by a 'lowly doctor' who doesn't exactly know everything." Kirk sat smiling in smug silence.
McCoy countered, "I know one thing... you can't always win, Jim."
"Okay, Bones, you made your point. Join me for dinner later?"
"How about now?"
"I've got just one more thing... "
Soon after McCoy left, Kirk had his report finished, then tapped the console on his duty desk and leaned back and spoke. "To the parents of Commander Sarah Weston. It is with great regret and profound sorrow that I must inform you of the loss of your daughter. During a recent battle with hostile aliens..."