“Everyone just has
to meet Captain Kirk,” said DTI Agent Gariff Lucsly, casting a fatigued glance at his longtime partner, Agent Marion Dulmur. “If the man isn’t violating every temporal regulation we have – and a few we don’t – it seems half of Starfleet is violating those selfsame regulations to meet him
Dulmur gestured at the starship captain he and Lucsly had come to – well, interview is a good a word as any
, thought Dulmur – regarding the temporal incursion to which Lucsly was offhandedly referring. “Maybe, partner, we should give the offending officer the chance to explain what happened.”
Luscly muttered some Kirk-related invectives to himself, then gestured for the aforementioned ‘offending officer’ to continue his account.
“From the beginning, Captain, if you please.”
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
Admiral James T. Kirk, Chief of Starfleet Operations, was not a happy man. Oh, he was a busy man, with an enviable assignment for someone of his age, and his duties were fulfilling – the practical applications of his experiences had seen Starfleet grow and improve by quantum leaps – but he just wasn’t happy. Not to mention, he couldn’t recall an actual good night’s sleep since he accepted the promotion. He slept, of course, when he was able, but it wasn’t good sleep, not like he got on the Enterprise
. Last time they’d gotten together, he tried to explain to Dr. McCoy how he thought he’d gotten too used to the imperceptible vibrations and ubiquitous sounds of a starship’s operations, and that his new home or the small room in the Starfleet HQ’s Bachelor Officer’s Quarters that he used on occasion just didn’t feel right. Bones had taken another snort of whiskey and reminded Kirk that he’d advised against Jim taking the promotion, but since Bones’ advice had been ignored, Kirk needed to Deal. With. It.
That had been… Kirk found he couldn’t remember how long it had been since he’d seen his friend. Bones was busy with his civilian practice, and one thing after another required Kirk’s attention. Kirk resolved to at least leave Bones a message before he left his office. When Kirk would actually leave his office, however, was an uncertainty that not even Spock would have been able to calculate. Kirk wondered offhandedly how Spock was faring in his efforts to master the ancient Vulcan discipline of Kolinahr.
At least Kirk saw Scotty on a relatively regular basis, since Scotty’s task of refitting the Enterprise
required Kirk’s authorizations. Scotty would also ask Kirk’s opinion on some of the new systems that the Enterprise
would be fitted with, though Kirk suspected that, more often than not, Scotty did so in an attempt to make his former CO feel happy.
Kirk appreciated the gesture, but it didn’t help. Kirk was quite adept at torturing himself with thoughts of the Grey Lady. About six months after taking over as CSO, Kirk had several new monitors installed in his office wall; there were now nine of them, and three or four (depending on the day’s workload) showed different views of the Enterprise
in her orbital drydock. Kirk kept up with the refit as often as his duties allowed, watching as his noble ship was taken apart, stripped practically down to the bare spaceframe and rebuilt with cutting edge technologies from across the Federation. He’d studied the design plans, noting the Art Deco influences on the new hull geometry. Furnished with all the resources he could dream of having, Scotty was indeed working a miracle.
Someone else’s miracle.
So Kirk would work ridiculous hours, pretending that leaving the Enterprise
had been the right choice, and dreaming of nothing but her during the fitful few hours of sleep he managed to get here and there. And deep within his heart of hearts, James T. Kirk would wish that somehow, some way, he could get her back.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
“Incoming transmission, marked priority alpha-one,” said Ensign D’Agostini tiredly. It was 5 am at the Starfleet Communications center, located across the San Francisco bay from the main Starfleet Headquarters campus. Ensign D’Agostini was due to get off shift in one hour, and the transmission, due to its priority tag, had triggered an annoying alarm that had interrupted his nap.
“Transmission origin?” asked the other poor soul on the night shift, Ensign Holland. He’d just returned from the cafeteria with two steaming mugs of coffee. Handing one to Ensign D’Agostini, Holland sat down and prodded his console back from sleep mode. At least something around here gets sleep
, he groused to himself.
“Epsilon IX,” D’Agostini replied, rolling his eyes. The station’s commander, Branch, had been posted to Epsilon IX for some time and had lately developed a knack for over-dramatizing the importance of his transmissions. Many of the staff at Starfleet Comms figured Branch was just way overdue to get laid, though nobody said so out loud.
Holland rolled his eyes as well. “Shunt it to the buffer, and we’ll look at it when we get really bored.”
“You mean we can be more bored than this?” said D’Agostini, as he moved to key the sequence that would route the transmission to the ‘answering machine.’
“Belay that, Ensign.” The voice had come from behind the two ensigns; it was unfamiliar and delivered in a soft-spoken tone that nevertheless carried a weight of command that froze D’Agostini’s hand. “If the two of you find your assignment here to be less than challenging, there are open billets on the Pluto Comms Relay station, and I understand Starfleet Janitorial is always looking for help.
“Bring up that transmission from Epsilon IX, if you please.” Both men snuck a quick look in the shadows behind them; the source of the voice had his face hidden by them, but the captain’s braids on his uniform cuffs were clearly visible.
“Aye, Captain.” A moment later, and Commander Branch appeared on the large monitor set between the two ensigns’ workstations.
“Go ahead, Commander,” said the unseen captain.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
The annunciator on Kirk’s desk chirped, startling him. He had been knee-deep in a report of recent Klingon activity that was about thirty pages longer than it needed to be, so the desk chime actually made him jump slightly.
“There is an officer from Starfleet Comms here, sir. He has an alpha-one priority transmission from Epsilon IX.”
“Send him in.” The door slid open and an unfamiliar officer stepped in, bearing a data cartridge.
“I apologize for the interruption, sir, but this transmission just came in from Epsilon IX. You are the ranking officer on duty.”
“Thank you, Captain..?”
“Frost, sir. Gabriel Frost.”
“You’re not posted to the Comms center.” It was not a question, but stated in a friendly manner.
“No sir. I’m just… passing through.” Gabriel proffered the data cartridge. “Sir, you really need to see this.” Kirk took the cartridge and snapped it into the reader on his desk. As it was playing, Gabriel’s attention was drawn to the wall of monitors, particularly to the four displaying the very nearly completed Enterprise
“She always was my favorite Enterprise
,” said Gabriel to himself.
“What’s that, Captain?” asked Kirk, pausing the recording.
Gabriel turned to face the Admiral. “I was just saying that you’ve got quite a ship there.”
“She’s not mine,” Kirk said with more than a hint of regret. “Not anymore.”
“Things change,” Gabriel answered, a knowing smile quickly crossing his face. “If there’s nothing else, sir?”
“Hmm? Oh, yes. Dismissed, captain.” Gabriel nodded and stepped out of Kirk’s office. As the door slid shut, Kirk finished viewing the transmission. He replayed it, sitting silently for a long moment after the second viewing to absorb the import of the message. His eyes found the wall monitors, and Kirk stared at the reborn Enterprise
as his fingers opened a comm channel to Admiral Nogura.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
“It was absolutely necessary to deliver the data personally?” said Lucsly.
“I believe so,” Gabriel stated. “The agent of the… what did you call them?”
“The Bodoni,” Dulmur filled in.
“The Bodoni, right,” said Gabriel. “Seriously though, a group of trans-temporal terrorists named themselves after an eighteenth-century typographer?”
“It’s a long story,” Lucsly stated flatly. “You were saying?”
“Ensign Holland had been co-opted by the Bodoni; I didn’t want to risk him interfering any further, so I felt the wisest course was to take the data directly to Admiral Kirk. He needed to be in command of the Enterprise
when she faced V’Ger. I saw the reality where the Bodoni were successful in keeping the V’Ger data buried until after the Enterprise
had launched with Decker in command. It was… disturbing.”
“Did you have any further interactions with Starfleet personnel, or any civilians?” asked Dulmur.
“After I left Kirk’s office, I beamed back to the Comms center. Ensign Holland was still there; my tricorder revealed that he’d been ‘possessed’, if you like, by one of the Bodoni’s noncorporeal operatives.”
Lucsly closed his eyes and massaged the bridge of his nose. “You confronted him?”
“In private, Agent Lucsly. I advised him that Starfleet would brook no further interference from his faction, and suggested the noncorporeal being remove himself forthwith to his place of origin or the next convenient parallel dimension.”
Dulmur groaned. “You and your movie quotes, Captain Frost…”
“The Bodoni operative left,” continued Gabriel, nonplussed, “with Ensign Holland none the worse for wear. I sent him home, then proceeded to rendezvous with Commander Taylor for beam-up to Challenger
. We made our way home, with the timeline none the worse for wear.”
“Fortunately for you, Captain,” said Lucsly. “Fortunately for you.” He and Dulmur stood up and headed for Gabriel's ready room door. Just before they reached the door, a thought occured to Lucsly, and he turned back towards Gabriel.
"Captain, where exactly was Challenger
during all this? She is significantly larger than the ships of the era, with a rather unique power signature."
Gabriel smiled sardonically. "You gentlemen should probably sit back down..."
* * * * * * * * * * * * *