Scales and Ridges, Part 15 by: Thomas Oakes

ScottySparks flew from consoles all over the Enterprise as the great ship began and maintained a slow tumble in space that resembled, more than anything else, a great white shark doing somersaults in space. Kirk was thankful that at least the inertial dampeners, artificial gravity, and life support tertiary redundancy systems were still online. He was about to contact Engineering for an update when the chief engineer beat him to the punch.

“Scott to Captain!”

Kirk and KadRiQ exchanged amused glances before Kirk thumbed the intercom. “Kirk here. Go ahead, Scotty.”

The Scotsman’s voice carried a noticeable level of angst. “Cap’n, we’ve go’ massive systems failures all o’er the ship. I canna do a single thing with ‘er right now; it’s like her insides have been ripped out. Ach, m’ poor darlin’”

“Couldn’t be helped, Scotty. We couldn’t let her fall into enemy hands.”

“I s’pose not, Cap’n. Still, it pains me to see her in such a bad way.”

“What’s left working, Engineer Scott?”

“Not much, sir. Just life support, the warp drive, and the shields, but they willna do us any good in this nebula. The main computer performed an auto shutdown when systems overloaded, so it should be good t’ go with a reboot. I’ve go’ damage control teams workin’ on the thrusters and impulse drive; I figured ye’d want to have maneuverin’ power fast to get us out o’ here and to a safer spot where the enemy canna find us. Our weapons aren’t much good while we canna control our trajectory, so when I’ve go’ engine pow’r restored, I’ll see to ’em.”

“How long, Mr. Scott?”

Scott’s voice was unenthusiastic. “I figgerd ye’d be askin’ me that, Cap’n. We’re goan ta be here hangin’ in space for a while, sir; longer if we have ta do EVA repairs.” Kirk was about to ask for specifics when Scott beat him to it. “I’m goan ta need 12 hours to get ‘er in battle-ready form, but we canna sit here for so long, so I’ll ‘ave ‘er ready in six.”

KadRiQ raised his eyebrows at Kirk, who just grinned. “Multiplying your repair estimates by a factor of two now instead of four, Scotty?” Kirk found he was still discovering bits of knowledge he had acquired while melding with Spock from the future on Delta Vega.

“Aye, sair. If ye’ll pardon me, ah need ta get on with m’ repairs.”

“Get going, Mr. Scott. I’ll want an update in two hours. Kirk out.”

KadRiQ and Koloth exchanged knowing glances. “Kirk,” KadRiQ offered, “my chief engineer would overestimate repair times once, and then he would find himself doing hot-footing it on a bed of Klingon meQ matrimonial coals while wearing a bejoy!”

“Of course,” Koloth added, “you could always have him face Lieutenant Uhura, Captain. With that gaze of hers, she could burn the paint right off a starship hull without even breaking a sweat.”

Uhura swiveled to face Koloth. “That’s right, Commander. Just imagine what it could do to your–” Uhura stopped in mid-sentence to respond to an incoming hail. “Sir, Captain Decker is hailing us.”

Kirk was glad for the change of subject. “On screen, Lieutenant.”

Decker, his hair unkempt and with bags under his eyes, appeared on the viewscreen. “Jim, what’s going on over there? Enterprise is tumbling, dead in space.”

“Shipwide systems failures caused by the high-energy maneuvering, Matt,” Kirk replied. “We burned out most ship’s systems in the last battle, but we managed to destroy the two Cardassian cruisers and those half-hidden weapons platforms, with your help, of course.”

“It was the damnedest thing I’ve ever seen,” Decker commented. “I had no idea a heavy cruiser could pull off maneuvers of that scale.”

“Apparently, it can’t, at least not without serious consequences. We owe our thanks to Captain KadRiQ here, who demonstrated the most elegant bit of starship piloting I’ve ever witnessed.”

Decker nodded. “Agreed, Jim. Captain KadRiQ, how would you like to teach extreme combat maneuvering to my helm staff, and hell, even to cadets at Starfleet Command!”

KadRiQ gut reaction was to take offense, but he knew, from the years he had spent living on Earth, that Decker’s comment was the highest form of praise for a Human. “It’s standard training at the Klingon Academy,” he replied, “but I don’t think it would be as useful for your Federation. Klingon ships have a much narrower longitudinal axis than Federation ships, with a secondary, well-defined axis running from side to side along the warp nacelles and pylons. Both axes on Federation ships are too wide, so they don’t allow for extreme maneuvers of that sort.”

“That explains why Federation ships have 360-degree coverage with their phasers, while Klingon vessels have limited arcs,” Chekov added.

“Very true, Mr. Chekov,” Koloth added. “Those extensive firing arcs are quite handy, as we Klingons learned at the Battle of Donatu Five.”

“There’s been too much conflict between our two peoples, gentlemen,” Kirk offered. With threats like the Cardassians and Romulans, we really can’t afford to be at each others’ throats all the time. We need to learn how to work together.”

“Kirk, our two crews have done an excellent job on this mission, but I do not think Klingons and Humans will ever be able to work together on an empire-wide scale,” KadRiQ responded.

“I don’t know, Captain,” Kirk said, “we’re doing pretty well in the here and now.”

“What we really need, sirs,” Uhura added, “is a crisis like this to unite us.” There was silence as everyone on the Bridge paused to consider just how on-point her comments truly were. The silence was broken by a hail from Decker.

“Jim, are your sensors working yet?”

Kirk looked to Koloth, who shook his head. “We’re as blind as a Tiberian bat,” Koloth reported.

“Jim, we can’t stay here. This is the first place the Cardassians will look for us. We can’t use our tractor beam in the nebula to tow you to safety, so why don’t you launch all your shuttlecraft and have them set up a patrol sphere, using their sensors to scout the area around us?”

“That’s a great idea, Matt, but it would mean using Pompeii crewmembers, since most of our helmsmen were shanghaied by the Orions. It would be a gamble; if the enemy detects one or more shuttlecraft, they would be defenseless.”

“I know that, Jim, but we’ve got to take the risk. The alternative means sitting here on our thumbs until they form up a fleet to come and finish us off. This way, at least we would have some warning.”

“Captains,” KadRiQ interjected, “I have half a dozen shuttle-qualified pilots on board the Enterprise. Feel free to use them. Besides, Klingons get restless when there is nothing to be done.”

Kirk liked the idea. “All right, KadRiQ. Matt, I would like the shuttles to have a secondary haven in the event things get dicey. How long until your hangar deck is able to receive shuttles?”

“With our reduced crew, repairs on it are proceeding slowly, though we have been able to remove and jettison all the debris from the earlier collision. I think we could resume limited flight operations in a couple of hours.”

“Good,” Kirk replied, just as DeSalle reappeared on the Bridge after his triage in Sick Bay. Kirk turned to his assistant chief helmsman. “Lieutenant, could you report to the hangar deck? Captain KadRiQ is going to be ordering six Klingon pilots to the area; I’d like you to brief them on takeoff and landing procedures, and do a once-over on shuttlecraft controls with them. Make sure they can find all the controls before we send them off on scouting missions.”

“Right away, sir,” DeSalle responded, turning about and heading back towards the turbolift. “Captain, if I may suggest, sir…”

“Go ahead, DeSalle,” Kirk replied.

“Two of our shuttles are warp-capable. Should we send one of them out of the nebula to ask for reinforcements?”

“Negative, Lieutenant. Pompeii and Enterprise are the only two ships in the sector. Every other ship is at least a week away.”

“No, Captain, not every other ship,” KadRiQ interrupted, smiling. “We have half a dozen battle cruisers near the Klingon border to the Neutral Zone. They could be here in a day, perhaps less, if they receive the proper signal.”

“Which only a Klingon could send,” Koloth added.

Kirk faced a dilemma. Klingon ships did not enter Federation ships unless they intended to do battle, and he was certain Starfleet Command would not give permission for an incursion, even under the present circumstances.

Author: Wayne Emery

Host of The Trek Mate Podcast & founder of The Trek Mate Family Network

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