Table of Contents
Within ten minutes, Spock was back on the Enterprise with the surviving crew members. Standing silently in sickbay, he watched with interest as McCoy attended to each one in rapid succession.
Entering the room in a hurry, Kirk stopped short as he looked at the scene before him. The survivors looked weak, tired and mentally exhausted. His attention was diverted by Spock's subtle motioning.
Moving to Spock's side, Kirk spoke quietly, "How bad are they?"
"Dr. McCoy is reviewing their status now. I would say they are in reasonable condition, considering what they have been through."
Kirk kept his eyes on the young survivors as he spoke, "Status of the ship, Mr. Spock?"
Spock sighed audibly, "Not very encouraging, Captain. At present, the ship is not much more than a wreck, barely capable of movement or supporting life. Currently, there are six engineering teams at work and an equal number of security teams are conducting sweeps for survivors or... bodies. However, I am not encouraged that any more living crewmembers will be found. Mr. Scott will have a full report shortly. At that point, we will have a better idea of what we are facing."
Kirk pressed further, nodding towards the survivors, he asked, "Have you debriefed them yet?"
"No, sir. I thought their condition required medical attention first and I wanted you to be present for the briefing."
"Logical," Kirk stated flatly.
Spock turned to face his friend, somewhat surprised by the response and raised an eyebrow.
McCoy finished with his exams and spotted Kirk. As Nurse Chapel and the medical team tended to the survivor's cuts and scrapes, the ship's surgeon approached Kirk and Spock. Looking very disheartened and tired, the Doctor spoke, "You wanted to see me, Jim?"
"What's their condition, Bones?"
"Not too bad, a few days' rest and they should be okay. Most of their injuries are superficial. Right now their greatest problem is exhaustion, coupled with a large dose of survivor's guilt. However, I'd say they've given a pretty good accounting of themselves."
Kirk eyed the survivors with interest, "Can they stand up to a debriefing?"
The surgeon turned back and looked at the group. "I know you need to find out what happened, Jim, but you'll need to keep it short, okay? From what I can gather, none of them have had any sleep in over two days."
Shifting uncomfortably, the ship's captain nodded in understanding. "Okay, have them report to the main briefing room as soon as you're finished here."
"Give them a bit more time, Jim." McCoy motioned towards the medical staff, entering with dining trays. "They haven't eaten in quite a spell. It seems the food processors weren't working either."
Shaking his head in amazement, Kirk was appropriately humbled. "No problem, Bones, and you come with them. I want you to observe them under questioning."
"Not a bad idea, Jim." McCoy was impressed with his friend's suggestion. Then he added, "You do have your moments."
Kirk exited sickbay quickly with Spock at his side. The two entered the corridor and made a beeline to the nearest turbolift. Kirk was thinking out loud as he walked. "We need to get out of this area, Spock. I don't like waiting for things to happen but we can't leave the Kitty Hawk behind. Even in its present state, it still holds a lot of Federation secrets. We can't tow her; she'd probably shake apart. That means if Scotty can't patch her up, we'll have to destroy her to prevent capture."
As the doors opened, the two then stepped into the turbolift and continued their conversation.
"Understood." Spock then noted, "The Kitty Hawk represents the latest in every technology Star Fleet has. It would be unfortunate if we had to destroy her."
Kirk set a firm jaw, "We won't, not unless it's absolutely necessary. Meanwhile, we do all we can. Has Command responded to our communication?
"Yes, sir. They are sending deep space tugs and a repair ship to assist us as well as another starship, the U.S.S. Vikrant."
"That's good news, of course, but I wonder if they will arrive in time?" Kirk's voice revealed his doubt.
The turbolift doors snapped open to reveal the bridge. Sulu sat in the Captain's chair and turned to see Kirk. He began to rise when Kirk held up his hand. "As you were, Lieutenant; status report."
Sulu relayed his information in a rapid fire, business-like manner. "No contact with alien ships, yellow alert still in place, all weapons on stand-by, shields and screens up. Two more teams from security have transported over to the Kitty Hawk, by Mr. Goodwin's request. Oh, and Mr. Kyle reports all speeds available up to warp eight."
Smiling slightly, Kirk noted, "You preparing for a quick get-away, Mr. Sulu?"
"Just like to be ready for all possibilities, sir, and Chekov has a report."
Chekov stood up from the science station and faced the captain. "I have located what's left of two alien ships, not too far away, captain. I suspect they were part of the attacking force. Perhaps there aren't any more alien ships left."
"Or the survivors left to get reinforcements", Spock noted.
A concerned Kirk turned back to Sulu. "Well done, Lieutenant; any word from Mr. Scott regarding the repairs?"
"No, sir, but the last time I heard, he was trying to stabilize the life support systems."
Spock approached Kirk, speaking frankly, "It would seem, Mr. Sulu has the situation well in hand, Captain."
A surprised Kirk looked at Spock, "Maybe just a bit too well, huh? I better keep an eye on him; he may want to keep the center seat." The captain finished with a smile as he turned back to see an embarrassed Sulu.
Kirk now became serious, "Do we have any information on this sector of space?"
Once again, the Vulcan sighed, "Not very much, Captain. The computer has only vague references to partial communications, brief glimpses of unidentified ships, sensor ghosts and other similar reports. The Federation's first survey mission of this sector found only a few inhabitable planets and little else of interest."
"Then why was the Kitty Hawk here?" Kirk was confused.
"Unknown, Captain, perhaps our debriefing will provide some answers." Spock returned to the science station, relieving Chekov.
The young navigator approached his captain quietly, "Can we save the Kitty Hawk, sir?"
"We'll give it our best effort, Ensign. Remember, Scotty's working on it and if anyone can do it, he can, right?"
Chekov seemed satisfied with his Captain's response. Riley stood as Chekov assumed his regular post, sitting hard.
While watching Spock work, Kirk's attention was diverted by Uhura, "Captain, it's Mr. Scott,"
Kirk took two quick steps to Uhura's station. "I'll take it here, if Mr. Sulu has no objections."
Sulu smiled broadly, "None, sir."
"Report, Mr. Scott." Secretly, he was almost afraid of what Scott might have to say.
"We're making progress, sir, but it's slow going. We have to clear a lot of wreckage just to access the damaged systems. I could use more help."
"Anybody in particular, Engineer?"
"All the ship's computer systems need attention. Mr. Spock would be useful. Also, it would be nice to have Riley working on a few engineering subsystems. It's a real mess over here." The Scotsman sounded tired.
Riley smiled at the mention of his name and headed to the turbolift.
"Very well, Mr. Scott, I'll start sending help right away. I need to keep Spock for a while but you'll get him soon enough." Kirk paused to collect his thoughts, then added, "Anything else?"
"Aye, sir, two more portable power units would be good."
"They're on the way. Just one more item, I want your realistic appraisal of the repair effort and the condition of the Kitty Hawk. If we can't fix her, then so be it, clear?"
A nearly defeated engineer muttered, "Absolutely, Captain; Scott out."
Kirk was about to walk away when Uhura's board sounded. Adjusting her earpiece, she nodded at the Captain. "It's Doctor McCoy. He's on his way to the conference room with the survivors. They wish to speak with you right away, sir,"
"Tell him I'll be there shortly. Mr. Spock, you're with me."
The two moved quickly into the turbolift; Kirk then turned to Sulu, "Keep me posted, 'Captain' Sulu."
The doors snapped shut leaving Sulu with another broad grin.
In the conference room, McCoy sat quietly with the young survivors. Now cleaned-up, wearing new uniforms and their injuries dressed, they were a bit more presentable. However, their faces still reflected the twin masks of exhaustion and loss.
As Kirk and Spock entered, each survivor began to rise out of respect and protocol. Kirk waved the effort off. "At ease, please. This is not a board of inquiry or an attempt to assess blame. I just want to know what happened." Quickly noting the rank insignia, he focused on the young lady seated closest to him. "Let's start with you."
She mustered all her strength and reported calmly, as if she were relating a personal anecdote. "Sarah Weston, sir. It started almost three days ago, sir. We moved into the sector at warp two to check out reports of an attempted communication in the area. Then we were attacked without reason."