That's a good question. Maybe the 'transfixed' hostages would have been pawns in some kind of sham prisoner-exchange type setup that sees the Enterprise drop her shields long enough for Sybok or his goons to beam up covertly? Regarding the 1701-A, you are correct that she is mostly operational. But if we take the hypothesis about it being a renamed former ship as fact, then perhaps the upgrade/refit process (she looks substantively different internally in STV than she did in STIV) has created incompatabilities within the systems? Whatever case, I'm still not convinced at all that she was "flight ready". The exact exchange between Kirk and Bennett is: A clear implication from Kirk there that the ship isn't ready. It might be functional, barely. But service-ready? To be honest, I still don't buy Bennett's reasoning. If other ships are available, then parachute Kirk into one them if his experience is so essential to this mission.