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"Were you able to identify the attacking ships?" Kirk was more than just a bit anxious and it showed. Looking at McCoy, he noticed his friend indicating to restrain the questioning a bit. Kirk nodded in acknowledgement as Weston spoke.
"Unknown, sir. I was in engineering during the entire attack. There was a running battle for several hours and I think there were two or three ships attacking. We had an idea of what was going on by the type of orders from the bridge. Our shields held out for a long time but eventually they began to fail. Then we began taking multiple hits and losing systems and people. Chief Engineer O'Rourke sent repair parties all over the ship. I was in charge of getting auxiliary power back on line, which I did. The ship took more hits and when I returned to engineering, it was in shambles. Half the staff was dead or dying. The captain called for help. The port engine was down, limiting maneuvering."
She paused to take a breath and Kirk was about to press when McCoy waved him off again.
A young Andorran picked up the story. "Ensign Weston volunteered to take care of repairs. We went along to help. I'm Engineering Specialist Axn," Pointing, he indicated the others with a nod: "Engineering Specialist Harrison, Yeoman Hsu, acting engineering crew, and Technician Matuschek, also acting engineer."
Surprised by the last identifications, Kirk asked, "You're not all engineering specialists?"
Speaking quietly, Hsu explained, "We volunteered, sir. As Weston said, most of the engineering staff was dead or injured and she needed assistance, so we decided to help her out."
Kirk was now more curious than anything else, "For what exactly?"
Weston, now composed, continued, "We were assigned to work in the Jeffries Tube on the port engine. The starboard engine was also out, but needed extensive repairs and the ship needed power, fast. So we concentrated our efforts on the port engine. Ship's reserves were running low and shields were failing again. The engine was leaking radiation but we went in anyway as our assistant chief engineer set up a force field to protect us. The Captain promised to hold the field as long as possible, but no guarantees."
"Remarkable", McCoy commented.
In a gentle manner, Spock asked, "What happened, Ensign?"
"Another attack occurred," Weston explained. "We finished our work but when we emerged, we found the ship devastated. Evidently we had restored power after the attack, but the entire crew was dead or dying. The captain kept his word and saved us, even knowing he couldn't save the ship or the rest of the crew. Later, we found the bridge was gone, as were all the senior officers. We went to the emergency bridge to take control of the ship. With the power restored, we were able to re-establish defenses and repulsed two more attacks. Evidently, they weren't expecting us to be ready and we caught them off guard. Though we didn't have phasers, we had photon torpedoes. We baited them and then hit them with a full spread. Our sensors were limited but I suspect we gave them a real bloody nose."
Axn continued, "Unfortunately, the repairs we made to the port warp engine failed again. Since then, we've been trying to repair a number of systems. We just got impulse engines back and we were meeting in the emergency bridge to figure out what was next, when Commander Spock showed up."
Weston then added with a weak smile, "There always seems to be one more thing to do in engineering, right?"
The three Enterprise officers were suitably impressed, but Kirk was still searching for answers. "Do you know anything about your attackers?"
"Nothing, sir; we never saw any visual or sensor readings in the emergency bridge." Matuschek sounded apologetic.
Spock's curiosity got the best of him. "How were you able to target the alien ship?"
A confident looking Axn continued, "We used sensors tuned to motion and energy readings and tied it in directly to fire control. Evidently it worked, they left."
"Either that or they detected Enterprise's approach," McCoy offered quietly.
"It bought us some time." Kirk offered. "Well done, all of you."
Hsu hesitated a bit but spoke. "Uh, Captain... permission to speak freely?"
Curious, Kirk agreed, "Of course, what is it?"
"Most of what we did was due to Sarah, I mean, Ensign Weston. She suggested the repair mission in the Jeffries Tube and came up with the quick fix on the impulse engines."
Joining in the discussion, Matuschek added, "She also came up with the scheme to bait the aliens."
"And modifying the sensors to target the alien," Harrison volunteered.
Kirk eyed Weston with admiration. "Outstanding work, Ensign; a promotion and a commendation are in line. You might just return to the Kitty Hawk as the commanding officer."
"Excuse me, sir." Weston interrupted, "But I was only as good as my team. They volunteered, too, and I could not have done it without them."
"Another sign of a good officer, giving credit where credit is due," Kirk smiled warmly. "I wasn't going to forget them. The entire team will be recommended for Star Fleet's Silver Palm and Ensign Weston is recommended for the Federation Medal of Honor."
Weston tried to protest but Kirk held up a hand. "No need to argue. Even if I didn't recommend it, Command would. Recommendation stands. Right now though, you're all going to take a much deserved and needed rest."
"Thank you, Captain, but we'd like to return to our ship..."
The eager young lady was cut off by Kirk. "Those are orders, Ensign, and not mine." He then pointed to McCoy.
The doctor now exercised his best bedside manner. "He's right. And not even the 'old man', I mean, the Admiral of the Fleet himself can countermand a doctor's orders, so no more discussion. I'd like you all to get ten hours of rest, but I'll settle for eight."
"Mr. Spock, please see our guests to their quarters." Kirk then turned to the survivors, "We'll talk more, later." Then he tried to finish on a positive note. "Who knows, by then Mr. Scott may be able to hand over a fully functional ship to you, Ensign."
A surprised Weston responded, "Is that even possible?"
McCoy smiled broadly and kept up the positive outlook. "Scotty is a certified miracle worker, right, Jim?"
"Absolutely, Doctor," Kirk encouraged the optimistic tone.
The Ensign was confused, "No, sir. What I meant... you would let me return as... captain of the Kitty Hawk?"
"With the rank of Lt. Commander," Kirk explained.
Now Weston was in mild shock, "Really, sir?"
"Goes with the recommendation for the Federation Medal of Honor... but only if you get some sleep." He finished the statement with a warm smile.
Everyone stood up and began to file out with Spock leading. Kirk signaled McCoy to remain. Once the door closed, Kirk approached his friend. "What do you think?"
"Incredible story, Jim; I understand your recommendations on the medals and promotion, but go easy. They're all a bit stressed, especially Weston. She's got the weight of the world on her shoulders right now."
"Are you saying she can't handle it?"
McCoy was serious and stood firm. "Time will tell, but you need to keep an eye on her."
An exasperated Kirk admonished his friend gently. "Bones, I can't follow her all over this ship. For one thing, it would be too obvious. Also, I do have a few other things to do, right?"
"I understand, Jim, but she needs to be watched. I'm no psychologist, but emotionally, she could be a... problem." He let his words take hold then continued, "I need to get back to sickbay; there are autopsies to perform. Keep me posted... on all of them."
Without waiting for a response, McCoy hurried out, leaving a bewildered Kirk behind.