Knight Templar wrote:
Kirk could also have known there was "no life" aboard the Excalibur because he knew full well all the surviving crew would've already abandoned ship by the time he asks M-5 the question.
How would Kirk have known this? And why would the crew immediately abandon ship, unless the ship were about to blow up. Which it didn't. If a portion of the crew survived the phaser assault, the first action on their part would be damage control, returning to the fight and assist the other Starship combating the Enterprise.
Running to get into thin skinned life boats and risking being "machine gunned in the water" in the middle of a battle, bad idea.
And given the magnitude of the supposed damage to the Excalibur, why would Kirk assume that any of the life pods/life boats still existed? Given the locations we seen them on other ships, they would seem to be pretty vulnerable.
And with the ongoing battle, another starship pulling alongside, dropping it's shield and beaming off personnel, is unlikely.