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On board the Kitty Hawk, Kirk held a quick morning meeting. The emergency bridge was filled to capacity. Kirk spoke in a rapid fire manner. "We're leaving within the hour. The Kitty Hawk will operate on its own and leave first. The Enterprise will follow to cover our withdrawal. If we are attacked, we will engage the aliens, but we will not initiate combat. If the Kitty Hawk becomes disabled again, we will abandon and destroy her to prevent capture." Taking a quick breath, he resumed his briefing. "This ship will be crewed as follows: Mr. DeSalle will be acting Captain, Lt. Commander Weston will be First Officer and Chief Engineer, Mr. Chekov will be Science Officer, Helm and Navigation will be crewed by Lt. Leslie and Lt. Farrell, respectively. Other positions will to be filled at the discretion of Mr. Spock, and Lt. Commander Weston. We will begin operating as separate commands in thirty minutes; adjust your work parties, schedules and duty rosters accordingly. I am not anticipating an easy return home, but we may get lucky. My experience has proved that luck sometimes has a way of controlling circumstances more than any other factor. However, good planning can offset bad luck more than talismans or 'sacrifices to the gods.' We have a good plan, let's see it through."
Soon the Enterprise and the Kitty Hawk were underway, on a direct heading for Starbase 25. They saw no signs of any other ships and the crews were beginning to believe they had seen the last of their alien attackers when the sensor ghost reappeared. Starfleet's assistance and reinforcements were still at least a day away and the Kitty Hawk remained restricted to the relatively modest speed of warp four point five. This time the ghost was gaining, fast. There was some good news though; most of the Kitty Hawk's vital systems were now operational. Other than the reduced speed, the battle-scarred starship was now a reasonable match for just about anything.
As the alien ship moved closer, Kirk formed up with the Kitty Hawk. Together, the starships might discourage an attack. The plan seemed to work until two more alien ships appeared, blocking the way to Federation space.
The aliens had drawn the proverbial line in the sand. This may have marked the limits of what they may have perceived as their own territory. Or, it may have simply taken this long to assemble reinforcements. In any event, it was obvious that the Federation ships would have to fight to survive, much less return home. Now the ships and crews would work together, hopefully to win the day. As planned previously, they would keep a tight formation and punch through the alien's defenses.
Now set for a confrontation Kirk tensed a bit, "Ready, Sulu?"
"Ready, sir," Sulu was poised for action as he watched the main viewer and the two alien ships grew larger and larger.
"Uhura, signal the Kitty Hawk, fire on my signal."
"Aye, sir. Mr. DeSalle reports ready," Uhura said.
"Now!" Kirk leaned forward in anticipation as the main viewer flared bright white. Then he barked, "Navigator, two-four-five mark five!"
The two Federation ships peeled off in different directions around the aliens and the maneuver was successfully masked by the weapon's detonations. For a moment, the alien craft remained motionless, then they began a pursuit in earnest. It was now a battle of training, wits, skill, courage and experience. Regardless, if pressed, Kirk would have admitted that luck would still have played a part as well.
If the Kitty Hawk had been 100%, the starships would have had an unbeatable edge. As it was, Kirk and DeSalle still had a slight advantage. Instead of meeting the aliens on their terms, they would dictate the battle strategy.
"Aliens gaining quickly, sir, making warp six," Spock's eyes stayed glued to the science station viewer.
Sulu then announced, "Aliens coming into range, sir."
"Ready for the TW maneuver, sir," Riley announced.
Watching the ship's chronometer count down, Kirk paused for a moment then, "Now, Mr. Riley, engage computer control."
The starship obediently followed the preplanned program, executing a sweeping curve in the direction of the Kitty Hawk, while the Kitty Hawk did the same towards the Enterprise. Viewed from space, it was awe inspiring, a ballet on a grand scale. It also confused the aliens and divided their attack, just as Kirk predicted.
"It worked, sir," Riley announced smiling.
Sulu then added, "Automatic program continuing, synchronized with the Kitty Hawk, weapons charging."
The ships now performed an amazing move, based on a twentieth century tactic called the Thatch Weave. The two ships would literally weave back and forth. As they crossed paths, the starships could concentrate fire on the stern of the aliens and offer close support for each other as they drew nearer.
Focused on the pursuit of their prey, the aliens failed to appreciate what was going on and almost obligingly reacted as predicted. As the starships drew closer, the aliens must have thought their prey were either insane of foolish. By the time these thoughts occupied their minds, they came into range of the converging Federation ships. To ensure that no weapons fire would hit a sister ship, phasers and torpedoes were targeted and fired by computers. All the crew could do was watch and hope that Spock's computer repairs and programming were as good as promised.
The ensuing display of phasers and torpedoes was impressive. More impressive were the results. All were direct hits and the alien defenses were substantially damaged. By the time the Thatch Weave began its third cycle, their success diminished as the aliens were now aware of what was happening. They broke off their intended attack and adopted a new tactic of their own, concentrating on the Kitty Hawk. Whether this was due to the perception of a weakness or because it was the newer of the ships and a greater prize, the Kitty Hawk suffered.
On the bridge of the Enterprise, Kirk immediately recognized what was happening. "Sulu, cancel the program and retarget the aliens. Mr. Riley, new heading, oh-eight-five mark ten.
Dual 'aye, sirs' confirmed the orders and a state of readiness.
As the Enterprise swung around, the main viewer revealed a heart-stopping scene. The alien ships were hammering the Kitty Hawk with every weapon they had. Impacts on the shields were plentiful and alarming.
Aboard the Kitty Hawk, everyone fought to keep the ship in one piece. A number of repairs were coming undone and engineers were scrambling to put them back in order. Repair teams almost cried watching all their work negated by multiple weapons impact followed by power fluctuations. Weston didn't hesitate and moved quickly from one crisis to another. Of primary concern were the shields. To compensate, power was robbed from every system except computers. In their delicate state, any power drops or surges would have dire consequences. Since half the ship was vacant or uninhabitable, life support was at minimal. Food processors were off and Weston smiled at the memory of eating well before leaving the Enterprise. It would have to last a long time. Also taken off line were various labs, crew quarters, the hanger deck and more.
The intercom whistled loudly, followed by DeSalle's voice, "Engineering, more power to port shields."