Table of Contents
Her trip back to inform the survivors of the meeting seemed to take forever. When she found them, they were surrounded again. Fearing a compounding or deepening of problems, Uhura politely broke the meeting up and steered the group to the ship's gardens to relax. On the way there, she was upbeat and optimistic, speaking of the subjects unrelated to the Kitty Hawk and its tragedy. There she apologized to them regarding the behavior of her fellow crewpersons and all the fuss and bother.
Just when she was beginning to run out of topics, the ship's intercom sounded, "Lieutenant Uhura to the main conference room." Partially relieved, she directed the Kitty Hawk personnel to the meeting. As the doors opened, she saw Kirk, Spock, McCoy and Scotty. As the group filed in, she began to turn away but the captain motioned her in.
All the survivors sat on one side of the large table, opposite the Enterprise officers. Kirk waited until all were seated then nodding to the survivors, he began. "I think we have some good news for a change. First, the Kitty Hawk is close to being ready to get under way. Impulse engines are now at one hundred percent, thanks mostly to the efforts of you, Ensign Weston. Warp drive is nearly ready as are many other systems. Because I am still concerned about the hostile aliens returning, I have decided to get things going by taking the Kitty Hawk in tow. While we're returning to Starbase 25, work on the Kitty Hawk will continue. With any luck, we can complete the work on the warp drive and the Kitty Hawk will be on its own."
Spock steepled his fingers and spoke calmly, "Our chief obstacle to returning the ship to full potential is dependent on the computers. The main core was damaged by some form of energy surge. I am attempting to reprogram it, but it is a rather slow process."
Kirk explained, "Which is why the Kitty Hawk can't operate independently, at least for now." Then he turned to Scotty, "Engineer, care to add anything?"
Montgomery Scott looked tired and spoke atypically in a subdued monotone. "Right now it's mostly subsystems that are not complete. Many of those problems will go away once the computers are working. In the meantime, we've taken to restoring damaged sections of the ship and some minor mechanical systems. I'm still puzzled by the excess radiation we found since the engines didn't show any signs of leaks. Also, we'll have to hold off on exterior repairs while under tow."
Kirk was beaming as he addressed the survivors, "The repairs are well under way, so all you have to do is take it easy."
There was a long uncomfortable silence until Weston spoke. "Excuse me, Captain, but can't we return to the Kitty Hawk? After all, we know it better than anyone and we could help with the repairs. If it is 'my ship,' shouldn't I have a say in how it's done?"
"Logical," Spock said to no one in particular.
Kirk shot Spock an icy stare.
It was then McCoy finally spoke, "Well, first of all I need to give you all physicals and certify you fit for duty."
Axn was puzzled, "Is that necessary? We were just in sickbay yesterday."
"Yes, but that was to render first aid, check for radiation poisoning, broken bones and other items." McCoy tried to be sympathetic, "Also, you needed rest so my readings would not have been accurate."
"Again, logical," Spock added.
Ignoring Spock, McCoy continued, "I'll need to check each of you before I can give you a clean bill of health."
"There's also a bit of 'paperwork' associated with recent events," Kirk explained. "Besides the doctor's certification, you'll need to complete an After Action Report, detailing what happened and what you know about the attacks."
"Can't we do that later, once we've arrived at Starbase 25?" Weston looked devastated.
Speaking more like a father than a captain, Kirk explained, "As a commanding officer yourself, you'll learn that it comes with many responsibilities. Reports are just one of those responsibilities."
A subdued Weston sat quietly, visibly discouraged with what had been said.
Not happy with what he saw, McCoy remained silent for the time being.
"That's all for now," Kirk concluded. "We'll meet again as soon as we have progress reports to relay. Dismissed."
The survivors filed out quietly while the others remained, also subdued.
Once they were gone, Uhura was the first to speak. "Captain, I think they're all confused and even a bit disheartened... maybe depressed. They want to go home, not Earth, I mean the Kitty Hawk."
"She's right, Jim." McCoy was barely contained and shared his thoughts. "We can't deny their return. Any guilt they feel by surviving is only compounded by their inability to 'make it right' by helping with repairs."
Scotty moved closer to Kirk, "The lass may be able to help me, sir. After all, she's more familiar with the ship's newer systems and she did some of the early repairs. They were all works of art, really well done."
"It may be good therapy for all of them. At least they can take their minds off the losses and work on something more constructive." Uhura was almost pleading.
McCoy eyed Uhura admirably, "Not bad, Lieutenant. Did you major in human behavior as well as communications?"
"Actually, I majored in engineering, Doctor. Starfleet thought I'd do better on the communications board than in engineering." She turned to Kirk added, "must be my pleasant and soothing voice, right?"
An embarrassed Kirk shifted his gaze to Spock. "You're being exceptionally quiet, Commander."
"Chiefly due to my lack of rest, but also because I had nothing to add, Captain. I agree with all that has been said. Ensign Weston and the others could be a great help."
Studying his friends carefully, Kirk offered an insight to his thinking. "My last communication with Starfleet included a demand from Command. Keep the survivors out of harm's way. They want answers to the attack and they also want the heroes returned. The Federation needs its heroes and I've been ordered to ensure their safe return."
"How well will they be received if they are depressed, upset, heartbroken or even angry?" Uhura stood her ground.
After a few moments of deep thought, Kirk conceded. "Okay, I'm overruled, at least for now, but I want our people to keep a watchful eye on them at all times, clear?"
The group nodded in agreement and Kirk smiled. "Uhura, your last task will be to inform them they can return to the Kitty Hawk as soon as Dr. McCoy certifies them fit for duty; in about an hour, Doctor?"
"Count on it, Jim!" McCoy smiled warmly, "Send them down right away, Nyota."
"Thank you!" She rushed to the doors.
As she left, Kirk yelled out. "We'll do the reports later."
Towing operations began shortly thereafter and having both ships in motion made everyone happier. On board the Kitty Hawk, Weston was a different person. Energized and confident, the young engineer was in her element. Following his captain's directive, Scotty kept an eye on her, but it wasn't an unpleasant assignment. He admired her skills and she was good with people. She also had an ability to improvise and 'think on her feet' that was unparalleled.
After just a few hours, Weston, her team and the crewmembers from Enterprise, were able to remedy a host of problems. Scotty was sure the Kitty Hawk was in good hands and reported that to Kirk. The survivors were much better and showed no signs of trouble.
For now, Kirk could stop worrying about the survivors and concentrate on matters at hand. However, just as Kirk began to relax, his train of thought was broken.
"Captain, I'm picking up a sensor ghost at extreme range. I can't get an exact fix and identification is impossible," Kyle said.