I’ve just barely tumbled out of my bed and can’t believe the latest challenge that Jon has laid before us…captaining a starship along the Neutral Zone and oh wait, there just happens to be a freighter named the Kobayashi Maru. I did this once already! In the Academy…I didn’t do all that great…everybody died. Including the Klingons!
Of course, that was just a ship prop and computer animation…and I’m pretty sure there were some smoke and mirrors too.
And once the Admiral gave the order, all the dead people hopped back up to life.
Somehow I think that this is going to be little more real. I can already smell Klingons.
I look to Kirk, who’s adorable with his still rumpled hair. “Slip on your space duds… we’re beaming outa here.”
“Oh yeah? What’s this weeks challenge?” he asks.
I tell him, “I have to captain a starship along the Neutral Zone and rescue the Kobayashi Maru. And pray that the Klingons are in a good mood.”
“I thought we were at peace with the Klingons.”
“It depends on which time frame we’re in,” I explain.
“Didn’t you fail that in the Academy?”
I scowl. Loudly. “It is not a pass/fail test.”
“Right. Sore subject.” Kirk kisses my cheek in a blatant attempt to distract me. “So, what do you want to do?”
“Well, I guess the starship is supplied. I just have to beam up, get us out of Spacedock without taking out any doors and patrol the Neutral Zone until the Kobayashi Maru hollers for help.”
“Sounds simple enough.”
“It’s never simple.”
“What do you want me to do?”
I pause. It would be great to have him along as my first officer. But if things go sour, I wouldn’t want to lose him. Of course, if things go sour, I probably won’t survive either. Unless I have him follow me in my ship and have him beam me out in the nick of time. But that feels like cheating. “What do you want to do?”
He looks at me like I ought to know. “Like I’d let you go off and get yourself killed? I’m coming with you.”
I smile. “Let’s get dressed then, we have an hour to report for duty.”
Kirk and I beam aboard a standard Constitution-class Starship. The most rigid and starched starship ever made. The captain’s chairs were always so stiff. The young transporter technician greets me.
“Welcome aboard Captain!” Traditionally, the commander of the vessel is addressed as ‘captain’ regardless of their actual rank.
I’m willing to bet that everyone on this ship are young, probably inexperienced as well. “Thank you Ensign. I’m Ciera, and this is my first officer Kirk.”
“Any relation to James Kirk?” she asks me, her eyes glazing over.
“No!” Kirk replies sharply. Anyone who was at Captain Picard's last Christmas party knows that this is his sore subject!
I try not to giggle. “Ensign…?”
“Ensign McGivers, please lead us to the bridge.”
She led us to the bridge, chattering on about how this was her first post on a starship and how glad she was.
Once on the bridge, I head for the captain’s chair and survey my crew. Yep…all young. I take a quick poll to find out names and then give the order to leave Spacedock…at impulse speed. There were quite a few twitters about this…and a couple of warning klaxons went off…but just like I’d always heard, the doors really did open in time!
“Set course for the Neutral Zone,” I command. “Routine patrol route.”
That ma’am thing is going to get old really fast. I’m not that much older than them!
We patrol the Zone; all the while I keep expecting that call from the Kobayashi Maru. Part of me knows that this is probably just a simulation…but that part has a hard time convincing the rest of me to relax.
“Captain, we’re receiving a distress call. Audio only,” says the young man at the communications station. I think he had said his name was Fred.
“Play it,” I reply.
Over the speakers comes the thin voice from my memory. “This is the Kobayashi Maru…we have struck a gravitational mine and are in need of assistance…” There was a muffled explosion. “We are losing life support and hull integrity…please help…”
“Location?” I inquire. My hands flipped open the control pad on the captain’s chair. I accessed computer memory. The Kobayashi Maru registered as a fuel freighter.
“It is deep within the Neutral Zone,” said the woman at my right, Patricia.
“Captain, preliminary scans show that the Maru is carrying 300 persons.”
“Captain,” came Fred at communications. “Their signal is growing weaker.”
“I bet it is.” I stand and walk to the two seated in front of me. “Scan for neutrino surges.”
“I’m about ready to order us into the Zone, but first I’d like to know if there are any Klingon’s about.”
“Captain, might I remind you that to enter the Neutral Zone would be considered an act of war?” inquired the Vulcan at the science station. Were all science officers Vulcan?
“Noted.” I waited for the red-shirts in front of me to scan the surrounding space.
“Ciera,” Kirk said. “According to the computer, the Maru has been lost in space for three years.”
“Interesting.” I lean over Patricia’s shoulder. There really was a ship out there, ready to fall apart…it wasn’t a hologram. But it might be a trap. And there were no neutrino surges. Yet. “Ok kids, we’re probably walking into a trap, but we can’t overlook the possibility that the Klingons are using the crew of the Maru so we’re going to go in there, get as close as we can and beam them out.”
“If they’re real?” inquired Kirk.
“We can hope.” I resume my seat. “Set course for the Maru, warp one, shields on full.”
My orders were carried out in silence.
From my seat, I opened a channel in the ship. “Transporter room. Stand by to beam aboard survivors from a damaged ship.” I rattle of the coordinates. I switch lines to sickbay. “Medical, prepare for casualties. Transporter room one.”
We had barely entered into the Neutral Zone when Patricia cried out, “Ma’am! I can’t find the Maru anymore! It disappeared off our sensors!”
“Stay our course,” I order. I saw those sensors read outs myself…I knew there was a ship out there. “Any chance it exploded, or tore itself apart?”
“No ma’am. It just…ma’am! Three Klingon battleships just decloaked!”
“Surprise, surprise. Onscreen.”
“Open a channel to them, maintain course and speed.” I open an intraship channel myself. “Transporter room, as soon as you have a lock on anything human, beam them aboard and notify me.” I tense in my seat. We’re outgunned and on the wrong side of the Zone, but I can’t leave until I know whether the crew of the Maru is still alive. I get the nod from Fred at communications that I have an open channel. “Klingon vessels, this is the U.S.S. Vengeance…we are on a mercy mission to rescue…”
They open fire one us.
“I don’t think they like us,” remarked Kirk.
“No kidding. Fire phasers.” My hands grip the armrests of my chair. It does little good. The Klingons continue to fire at us, causing the ship to rock. “Drop to impulse. Keep firing those phasers. Klingon vessels, I insist that you give way and allow us to help the crew of the damaged vessel you are blocking from us! We are on a mission of mercy!”
“Captain, shields are down fifty percent.”
“Engineering, we need more power.”
“I’m giving you all I’ve got.” came the reply. Were all engineers Scotsmen?
“Give me more! Patricia, how close are we to the last coordinates of the Maru?”
“We ought to be on top of them ma’am.”
“Transporter room, any life signs?” I ask. We’re taking a pounding, we won’t last much longer.
“Very faint, ma’am,” comes the reply.
“Are you able to beam them away?”
“Working on it ma’am.”
I’ve had enough. “What I wouldn’t give for a Galaxy-class vessel,” I say to Kirk. “I’d be able to separate the saucer section and have go at them with the battle section.”
“Maybe next time,” Kirk replies.
There is an explosion on the bridge that takes out Patricia and fella at Helm. I forgot his name; I think it was unpronounceable anyway. I motion to Kirk and he and I fill the positions. “Klingon vessels, I repeat…we’re on a mission of mercy. Have you no honor? Would you truly destroy a vessel for glory tainted by the blood of innocents? Your Klingon bards will sing of me instead…they will tell the tale of the valiant captain who fought against all odds to rescue the crew of a dying ship that has been lost in space. They will tell my tale and they will revile you as worthless pataQ’s.”
The firing ceases, just as another explosion rocks the ship.
“Captain, this is the transporter room. We have five survivors from the Kobayashi Maru…the ship broke up before we could get the rest.”
“Kirk, turn this ship around. Fred, are they talking to us yet?”
“Negative Captain, but there is a lot of chatter in-between their ships,” answered Fred.
“They’re probably wondering how you know about their Klingon bards,” chuckled Kirk as he turned the ship back across the Neutral Zone.
I shrugged. “I read a book once.”
Suddenly Klingon laughter filled the room.
“Uh, yeah…they’re talking to us now.”
“Thanks for the warning.”
“Well fought, Vengeance…our Bards will indeed sing of you. Brave captain! Until next time!” More Klingon laughter.
“Good,” I call after them, hoping they’re still receiving. “Just get my name right. It’s Ciera, of the U.S.S. Vengeance and her first officer Kirk!”
The three ships head off in the other direction, their Klingon laughter echoing over the speakers again.
“Was it something I said?”
Kirk laughed at me.
Well, that went well.
The lights go dim for a moment, and then clear, revealing the yellow grid of a holodeck. Kirk and I are the only ones left. The doors open and Jon walks in.
“Not bad,” he says, tapping his pen on his clipboard. “Rescued some of the miners, lost your shields, blew your life support, tore up the bridge a little, a couple of fired, one ruptured hull, half your crew injured or dead…Better than your Academy days I imagine.”
“Come on, Captain…” Kirk says, wrapping his arm around me. “You look like you need a shower and a hot chocolate.”
I let him lead me away, satisfied that the mission went well…or at least better than last time.