First, I want to thank everyone for their kind replies to the first part of this story. It's a lot of fun writing in the TOS era and I encourage other writers to give it a whirl. Here's the second part, I hope you don't kill me for ending this part the way I did...
MEET THE LADY: PART 2
As the two pugilists carefully circled each other, Alexei smiled inwardly as he spotted the slight opening his opponent had left him. Dropped your guard, Tovarisch!
The burly Russian thought as he launched a powerful right cross at the chin of his sparring partner, only to come up empty as his opponent, easily dodging the blow, launched a right hook of his own. Staggering under the impact of the gloved fist on the side of his jaw, the Lexington’s
executive officer shook his head as his opponent retreated to the opposite corner. Taking off his gloves, Alexei worked his jaw with his left hand as the other man tossed him a towel. “Good feint.” Kuznetsov remarked, a big grin on his face as he wiped the sweat off. “I thought I had you there. I can see now why you won the Academy boxing tournament.”
“As I recall, you didn’t do so badly yourself,” His opponent, Commodore Robert Wesley, complimented as he removed his gloves and headgear. “Seeing as you finished in the final four in your class tournament.”
Shrugging his shoulders, the big Russian wiped some blood off his chin. “Da. But I lost in the semi-finals.”
“Nothing to be ashamed of, losing to Dodge.” Bob exclaimed, referring to the current captain of the USS Hood
, as he slapped his first officer on the back. “He still packs a mean punch,” the commodore quipped as the pair, after slipping out between the ropes of the tiny boxing ring, began to walk through the ship’s gymnasium. Noting approvingly the large number of crew availing themselves of the starship’s exercise facilities, Wesley remarked, “Busy place. I like it this way.”
“Commodore…excuse me, I meant Admiral…Nogura’s standing orders were that all members of the ship’s crew—senior command staff included—had to spend a minimum of ten hours per week in the gym.” Alexei explained and then added pointedly, “There were no exceptions.”
“I see no reason to alter those orders…” Bob replied, drawing an even wider grin from his executive officer. Then, noticing a petite auburn haired woman wearing gymnast’s togs on a balance beam carrying out a near perfect routine, the commodore nodded his head in appreciation as the youthful officer moved smoothly from a handstand and then executed a flawless back-flip.
“Not bad…” Wesley remarked, clapping his hands appreciatively as the gymnast executed a near flawless dismount. “Not bad at all…” As the young woman draped a towel around her shoulders before walking away, Bob inquired of his first officer, “Who is she?”
“Ensign Aliz Bathory.” The burly Russian replied with a grunt. “Helmsman. One of the new transferees from the Academy.”
“Must be pretty sharp…” The commodore noted as the two officers walked towards the exit, “…to get this ship as her first assignment.”
“Da.” Kuznetsov nodded his head. “Very high marks from her instructors. But…” The executive officer noted, “...she also possesses a very stubborn and willful streak that got her into trouble with more than one of her instructors.”
“Insubordination?” The commodore asked with a note of concern in his voice. “I don’t mind my officers expressing their opinions…” Bob declared, his eyes taking on a steely look, “…but once I’ve settled on a course and have issued orders—I expect them to be obeyed promptly and without static.”
“She was never insubordinate.” Alexei answered back, somewhat alleviating the commodore’s concerns. “It’s just that she was very…forward…in expressing her views in class and very…very stubborn as regards maintaining her position.” Laughing, the Russian executive officer recalled, “After she got my attention when she reported aboard, I checked with her instructors at the Academy. I don’t like loose cannons, they get people killed and ships destroyed needlessly.” The Bear explained before continuing his narrative. “Her instructors all say the same thing—that she’s bright, independent, and incredibly stubborn when she thinks she’s right or when she’s encountered with a difficult problem. Her tactics instructor, Commander Reynolds, told me that she insisted on repeating the Kobayashi Maru
test over and over again for three days straight. She kept on insisting that her solution was the right one.”
Chuckling wryly, Bob quipped, “Wasn’t she told that there was no correct solution that would save both the merchant ship and her vessel—that the whole point of the exercise was that it was a test of character?” Shaking his head, Wesley grinned, “Jim Kirk’s the only one who ever beat that test—and he cheated!”
Shaking his head as well, Alexei answered back. “Da…Elliot told her after she spent twenty four hours in the simulator that there was no solution—but she wouldn’t accept it. She argued and argued that there had to be a way to solve the situation.” Laughing, the Russian first officer recounted, “After three days, she finally accepted that there was no good solution, but not before trying every possible tactic—standard and crazy.”
“Doesn’t like to give up, eh?” Bob remarked nodding his head sagely.
“No.” The Bear replied. “As I said, she’s very…very…stubborn and willful.”
Laughing as the door to the gym slid open, Bob remarked, “Some of the best officers I’ve known could be described as stubborn and willful. One of them at least…” he quipped, “…commands a starship of his own. I like an officer with fire in the belly.”
“Fire in the belly is good.” The Russian responded, adding sagely, “But so is a clear head.”
“Agreed.” The commodore conceded, “We should know soon enough whether she has that or not.” As the pair reached the turbolift, Wesley pointed at the cut on his first officer’s chin, advising, “You might want to let the doc have a look at that, Alexei, before you report to the bridge.”
“Aye, sir.” Kuznetsov acknowledged as the turbolift door whooshed open, “I’ll see to it after I shower. Speaking of which, sir…” The Bear ribbed, flashing a toothy grin, “…you might want to see about a shower yourself before you report to the bridge.”
Laughing as he gripped the elevator control, ordering it to take the pair to deck five where the senior officer’s quarters were located, Wesley riposted, “I’ll take that under advisement, Commander. After all, we can’t have a biohazard alert go off on the bridge now, can we?”
“Hey, roomie!” Ensign Jennifer Whatley called out to her roommate, Ensign Aliz Bathory, as the door to their quarters whooshed open, revealing the petite Hungarian helmsman, still wearing her gymnast’s togs. “Have a good workout?”
“Not bad.” Aliz replied in her rich Magyar accent as she stepped out of her sweaty leotard. “Had the commodore and the Bear as an audience while I did my balance beam routine.”
“Oh?” Jennifer teased as, sitting down before the vanity mirror, the olive skinned ensign beginning the process of brushing and rolling in order to fix her lovely brown hair into a bouffant style. “So…what was their reaction?”
“They applauded, of course.” Aliz chuckled as she stepped into the tiny sonic shower. “They know a good thing when they see it.” Calling out from the shower, the Hungarian pilot, changing the subject, asked, “So…how was your day?”
“Eh…so-so…” Jennifer responded as she took out a set of large rollers from the vanity drawer. “Talana…my section chief…she’s a blast! She’s funny and loves to joke around. But…” the naturally bubbly science specialist qualified, “…it’s not all laughs. She had me and another new ensign—Frank Carstairs—working on a nasty xeno-microbiology problem.” Sighing, Jennifer continued, “I didn’t think we’d ever solve it.”
“But you did solve it—right?” Aliz inquired as she stepped out of the shower.
“Yeah.” Jennifer chuckled, “The answer was so obvious too—it was literally staring us in the face the whole while.”
“Well…” Aliz laughed as she slipped on her gold minidress and then fixed her shorter hair, “…sometimes that’s what happens. Other times…it’s hidden so deep that it feels like it’ll take forever to pry it out.”
“Tell me about it!” Jennifer exclaimed with another sigh and then added with a sly wink. “At least one good thing came out of the experience. I got a date with Frank for movie night tomorrow.”
Shaking her head, Aliz quipped as she made her way towards the door. “You and your men! Sometimes I wonder how you finished as high in our class standings as you did the way you got around!”
“You know what they say…” Jennifer riposted, returning her roommate’s good natured banter, “If you’ve got it…strumpet with a trumpet!”
Laughing as the door whooshed open, Aliz called back over her shoulder as she left, “Just don’t play that trumpet too loud! Our neighbors might not appreciate it!”
“Hold the lift!” Junior Lieutenant Terrence Lawford called out to the sole occupant of the elevator, Cilla Oudekirk.
“Hurry up, then!” The Dutch communications officer shouted back as Lawford dashed towards the turbolift moments. “I’m not going to be late for my shift…” Cilla groused, “…because you can’t tear yourself away from that yeoman.”
“Jealous, Cilla?” Terrence jibed as he darted into the elevator moments before the door slid shut.
“About what?” Cilla fired back before twisting the lift control and giving the verbal command to go to the bridge.
Laughing, Terrence teased, “About the fact that I’ve got stuff going and you…don’t.”
“Yeah. Right.” Cilla snorted derisively as the turbolift transitioned from a vertical motion to a horizontal one. “As if I’d ever have anything to do with a hormonal Neanderthal like you.”
Before Terrence could utter another, this time much more biting, retort, the lift door opened. Stepping on to the bridge, the two officers immediately felt the gaze of the Lexington’s
executive officer sitting in the center seat. “I’m glad the two of you decided to join us. Take your stations—Now.” The Bear growled as the two junior lieutenants sheepishly took their positions.
“You cut it awful close.” Talana, sporting the new minidress, quipped, her antennae twitching in amusement as she whispered into Cilla’s ear from her position over the Dutch woman’s shoulder.
“The idiot held me up at the elevator.” Cilla whispered back.
“You didn’t have to wait for him.” Talana teased as a rumbling sound that she recognized as Commander Kuznetsov clearing his throat gained her attention. “Yes, sir?” She inquired with a mischievous twinkle in her eyes.
“Lieutenant Commander…” The Bear grumbled, “Don’t you have more important things to do than gossiping with the crew?”
Mock pouting, the Andorian science officer walked over to the command chair and held out a data slate, “Already done. Here’s the report the commodore wanted.” As Kuznetsov reached out to grasp the slate, Talana bent down to whisper in his ear, “You know you can’t scare me like you can the junior officers with that bear routine, Alexei…” she purred, “I know you’re really just a big old…”
Unfortunately—or fortunately, depending on the point of view of the individual involved in the current conversation, Talana was unable to complete her jab as the door slid open, revealing Commodore Wesley. Reacting immediately on seeing the Lexington’s
new commanding officer, the lieutenant commander snapped to attention, “Commodore on the bridge!” She called out, all traces of humor gone from her voice.
Nodding his head with approval as the bridge staff snapped to attention, Robert responded in a crisp voice, “As you were.” Striding towards the high backed center chair, Wesley relieved his executive officer. “Status, Commander?”
“We are on course towards the last known location of the Voltaire
following the same course that it had sent to Starbase 31 before communications ceased.” Kuznetsov promptly replied.
Taking the data slate that his first officer had given him, the commodore perused it for several moments before turning his attention to the Lexington’s
science officer, “Ms. Zha’Thara?” Wesley called out, immediately gaining the attention of the Andorian officer, her antennae pointing towards him as he spoke, “What’s your take on that nebula that the Voltaire
reported seeing just before communications were lost?”
“Hmmm…” Talana vocalized as she carefully considered her answer. “The Voltaire
reported an unusually high number of tachyon emissions coming from its core. Its captain went in to investigate and shortly after their last transmission, communications were lost.”
“I see…” Turning his attention back to his first officer, Wesley inquired, “This sector is pretty close to Klingon space—isn’t it?”
“Aye, sir.” Kuznetsov rumbled, “The Klingons actually claim a fair portion of it—including the region where the Voltaire
“So…” Bob prompted, “…you think it was the Klingons?”
“Da.” The Russian replied simply. “Who else could it be?”
“It’s a possibility,” Talana reluctantly agreed, “The nebula emissions could very well have screened the presence of a Klingon ship waiting in ambush from the Voltaire’s
scanners. It doesn’t take a Vulcan to see the logic in that.” She concluded, her lips turning up into a crooked grin as she delivered a barb at the recent Starfleet trend of relying on Vulcan science officers.
Exhaling, Commodore Wesley passed the data slate to the yeoman standing next to his chair. “Very well, then. Helm…” He ordered, addressing the two young officers sitting at their stations in front of the viewscreen, “Make for the last known location of the Voltaire
, warp factor five.”
“Course laid in, sir.” Terrence Lawford responded, punching in a series of buttons on his panel.
“Engaging, sir. Warp factor five.” Aliz Bathory chimed in as the majestic Constitution
class cruiser’s warp engines began to hum, the rounded fronts of the twin nacelles turning and glowing as the Lexington
launched into warp space in a blur of lights and colors.
“What you doing in here G’arv?” Charles Vincent, the Lexington’s
Chief Medical Officer called out, a note of amusement in his usual New England twang. “Finally bust an artery from yellin’ at your people?”
“Hah! If they were any good, I wouldn’t have to yell at them!” The Tellarite Chief Engineer bit back, the toothy grin on his face revealing his enjoyment as the two officers renewed their traditional bickering. “Commodore Wesley’s had us going at a steady warp five for several days now…”
“Don’t tell me your engines aren’t up to the job.” Vincent smirked, knowing that the touchy Tellarite was especially sensitive concerning his engines.
“My engines are just fine!” G’arv fired back, “They’re doing better than your patients I’ll bet!”
“So…what’s the problem, G’arv?” Charles asked, finally getting down to business.
“When I woke up this morning…” The Tellarite grumbled, pointing at his abdomen, “I felt—bloated.” I ignored it, thinking it would go away, but the pain got worse and worse until I finally decided enough was enough.”
“I see…” Vincent vocalized as he ran a medical tricorder over the engineer’s body. “Hmmm…Ok, G’arv…have you been eating enough roughage like I told you?” Seeing the guilty look on his friend’s face, Charles shook his head. “What have I told you, G’arv? Due to the nature of the Tellarite digestive tract, it’s even more important than for most other races that you have enough cellulose in your diet.” Taking a hypospray, the doctor injected his patient’s arm. “That was a laxative. I’d suggest that you locate the nearest head as soon as possible.” Laughing, he called out as the engineer rushed out of sickbay, “Remember this next time you decide to pass on those greens!”
Unfortunately, Charles could not make out his friend’s caustic rejoinder as the hall lighting changed from its normal white light to an amber color as Cilla Oudekirk’s voice rang out on the intercom, “Yellow Alert…Yellow Alert…all decks go to Yellow Alert.” Almost immediately, the crewmembers first sauntering down the corridor, laughing and talking grew silent. Now, the corridor in front of sickbay was filled with crewmen and women moving with disciplined alacrity and purpose to their assigned stations. Muttering a soft, “Dammit,” Charles turned his attention back to sickbay and his staff. “All right, people. You know what to do.”
“All decks at Yellow Alert.” Cilla crisply reported from her communications station. “Damage control parties are ready. Phaser fire control reports ready…photon torpedo room checks in ready as well. Engineering reports all systems working nominally. Sickbay reports it is prepared as well.”
“Raise shields, Sir?” Kuznetsov prompted turning towards Commodore Wesley.
“Not quite yet.” The Commodore replied, shaking his head. “Let’s see what we’ve got first. But…” Wesley qualified, “Have emergency power routed to the shields. I want to be able to raise and reinforce them immediately if we have to.”
“Aye, Sir.” Alexei acknowledged, nodding his head approvingly as Cilla passed the commodore’s instruction on to G’arv in engineering.
His digestive problem suddenly forgotten, the Tellarite engineer immediately responded, his guttural voice coming through clear on the intercom. “Shields are ready when you need them.”
His lips turning up into a slight smile of approval at the professionalism of his crew, Commodore Wesley stared at the viewscreen, taking in the vista of the nebula ahead, blue and pink tendrils snaking out from a white core. Addressing his science officer who, at that moment, was hunched down over her scanning visor, the commodore inquired, “What are your scanners picking up, Ms. Zha’Thara?”
“Heavy tachyon emissions emanating from the core, sir,” the Andorian science officer replied, “Just as the Voltaire
had reported. Hmmm…that’s interesting…” Talana vocalized as her antennae twitched.
“What, Lieutenant Commander?” Wesley asked, his ears pricking up at the change in his science officer’s tone.
“The tachyon readings picked up drastically shortly after I began my scans.” Talana replied.
“Any idea as to why?” The commodore asked, not really expecting a positive response.
“No, sir.” Talana answered back, “Not at this time.”
“Well…keep at it…” Robert drawled before addressing not just his science officer, but also his entire bridge crew, “And keep sharp, everyone. I don’t want any sudden surprises.”
Her head jerking momentarily jerking up from the scanning visor, Talana announced with just a note of tension in her voice, “Unknown ship approaching on intercept vector.” Bending her head down once again, the science officer spoke, now with a grim tone, “It’s Klingon.”
“I have it on the screen.” Ensign Bathory declared as a faint speck appeared moving amongst the stars.
“Magnify.” Wesley ordered as he inched towards the edge of his seat.
Following the commodore’s instructions, Aliz manipulated the viewscreen’s magnification controls, bringing the speck into sharper and sharper focus until the dot finally became an identifiable form. A shark cruising amongst the stars, the bulbous front connected by a long boom with a winged stern which housed the craft’s engines and many of its weapons immediately identified the intruder for what it was.
“A D-7 battlecruiser.” Alexei observed in a quiet monotone voice. “And it appears to be making an attack run.”
“Red Alert.” Commodore Wesley immediately ordered, “Raise shields and sound General Quarters.” As the ship’s internal lights turned red, the alarm klaxons blared, and the phaser targeting scanner next to Ensign Bathory slowly rose up to near eye level of the petite Hungarian helmsman, the commodore gritted his teeth as the Klingon warship grew larger and larger in the viewscreen, “It looks like we’re about to earn our pay.”