Origins, Chapter 15

 

 

 

Author: Apollo Racer
Title: Origins
Email: fltadmracer@hotmail.com
Characters: New Crew/Star Trek: TOS/Star Trek TOS: Animated Series.
Rating: PG-13
Summary: In a bizarre twist of fate, a young man from the 21st century is trapped
in a frozen coffin as he drifts along the tides of time to be awakened 200 years
later.

Chapter Fifteen

It was three in the morning, and Apollo couldn\’t sleep. It had been three months since the Oberth left Earth, yet he was still a little jumpy by the prospect that the ship was his; he still half expected the captain to come up behind him and say, \”Racer, what in blazes are you doing up at this ungodly hour!\” That, of course, would be impossible, since he was the captain. Captain Racer, he thought. It\’s been over two hundred years since I\’ve been called that. I guess things have pretty much come full circle.

Since he couldn\’t sleep, Apollo made it a habit of \”going on his rounds\” – walking through the ship and its various departments. One night during the first month of this habit, Apollo got a little mischievous, and opened his mind to see if he could detect any surface thoughts, and encountered those of a couple behaving very intimately. It took fifteen minutes before Apollo could get his face below even a normal shade of red, so he never did that again, and chastised himself about using his powers responsibly.

Another thing he found was that his crew liked to see him on his route. It showed them that he actively cared about his crew and that he was willing to leave the bridge and get involved in events happening on his ship. He realized that as their captain, he couldn\’t establish too deep a camaraderie among them, as the chain of command needed to be clear, but he did as much as he could to make them comfortable around him. He had only to think back to how Captains Powell and Thomas treated him for examples.

This night, he was just prowling the corridor, to wear himself out so he could sleep. Just when he felt he was ready to return to his quarters, he was shocked back into wakefulness. \”Captain, what in blazes are you doing up at this ungodly hour?\”

Apollo turned to see Thelem, his first officer coming up behind him. \”I\’m sorry, sir, did I startle you?\” he said in an innocent voice, one that thinly veiled the fact that he knew startling the captain was exactly what he intended.

\”You know damn well you did,\” Apollo replied with a smile. \”I thought I was the only one who made rounds on this ship.\”

Thelem returned Apollo\’s smile. His antenna perked up. \”No one else is either that foolish or crazy. I was merely coming from my meditations in the chapel. The fact that we met was merely coincidence.\”

\”Coincidence, my ass,\” the captain said. \”You just like to bug me.\”

Thelem thought about that one. \”Let\’s just say… I like to keep you on your toes.\” They chuckled. \”Tell me, sir, were you planning on retiring for the night?\”

\”I was until you woke me up. Why, what\’s on your mind?\”

\”Oh, I simply felt the need to talk. If it intrudes on your privacy, I can wait another time.\”

Apollo shook his head. \”No, no, you\’re not intruding. If I wanted privacy, I certainly wouldn\’t be walking the halls.\” He led Thelem to the recreation room. Several people were engaged in various forms of relaxing activities, from reading books to practicing martial arts. Apollo and his Andorian friend found a vacant table and sat down. \”Now, what\’s on your mind?\”

Thelem came right out. \”What is your opinion of this crew, this ship? Are you satisfied with their performance?\”

Apollo found the question odd, but he took his time answering it. \”I believe that for what we\’ve been given for assignments, we\’ve done rather well. Why do you ask?\”

Now it was Thelem\’s turn to take his time. \”Well, sir. It\’s just that I\’ve been… studying you. You may say that your situation is satisfactory, but your mood, your actions, state otherwise.\”

Apollo sat back and crossed his arms. \”Oh, really. And what, pray tell, would my actions suggest to you?\”

To compensate for Apollo moving back, Thelem moved forward. \”You seem to want more from this ship, and I think I know what it is.\” He paused. \”Throughout your career, you\’ve served on Constitution-class ships. They see much action. Suddenly, you\’re in command, but of a science vessel, and while I don\’t wish to state the obvious, interesting encounters have been rather scarce.\”

\”Give it time. We\’ve only been out here a few months. I\’m sure something will pop up.\” He was trying to bolster Thelem\’s confidence; after all, Andorians were a warrior race. But he had to admit to himself that some of what Thelem had said hit home, too. \”Besides, not everyone in Starfleet gets to participate in big conflicts, though I admit I\’ve seen my share. Don\’t get me wrong, I fully understand your need to experience adventure. But we\’ve got five years ahead of us, and it\’s a big galaxy.\”

As if to emphasize his remark, the intercom beeped. \”Bridge to Captain Racer.\”

\”Speak of the devil.\” Each table had a communication setup at one end, to convenience crewmembers from having to get up. Apollo used the one at his table now. \”Racer here, what is it.\”

His communications officer, Collins, replied immediately. \”Captain, I\’m picking up a distress signal. I think you need to hear this for yourself.\”

Apollo glanced at his first officer. \”I\’m on my way.\” He got up. \”Well, my friend, I believe we\’re about to get ourselves some adventure.\”

~ * ~

They stormed onto the bridge. \”All right, Collins. Let\’s hear it.\”

Collins brought the gain up on the signal and it spewed forth on the speakers. \”Attention any Federation vessel. This is the USS Hawthorne. We have been hit by a Klingon ambush. Main power is down, and auxiliary power will only hold out for 6 hours at best. We desperately need assistance. If any Federation vessel is in range, please respond.\”

Apollo looked concerned, and trained that look on his comm officer. \”Have you made contact with them?\”

He shrugged his shoulders in frustration. \”I\’ve tried, sir, but they\’re not receiving us. We have to be closer for me to find out why.\”

The captain nodded absently. \”Contact Starfleet, let them know what we\’ve got.\” He turned to Thelem. \”What ships are near them?\”

Thelem rushed over to the science console. After a moment\’s perusing, he straightened up. \”I\’m afraid we\’re the closest ship, sir.\” He honestly tried to look disappointed.

But Apollo could see right through it. \”All right.\” As he headed to his seat, he barked out his orders. \”Collins, send a message to any ship in range that their help would be appreciated. Stewart,\” he addressed his helm officer. \”Get the coordinates of that SOS from Collins. Lay in a course, maximum warp. And I want this ship on Yellow Alert.\”

\”Aye, sir,\” Stewart responded, \”changing course and speed as ordered.\”

As the Oberth spun around to its new heading, Apollo couldn\’t help but think, why have I got this annoying sense of deja vu? \”What\’s our ETA to the Hawthorne?\”

\”Only three hours at this speed, sir.\”

\”Good, good. Steady as she goes.\”

~ * ~

Captains Log, Stardate 7467.4:

The Oberth, upon arriving at the Hawthorne\’s position, has found it drifting toward a nearby planet. If she falls within the gas giant\’s atmosphere, she will almost certainly be crushed in its gravity well. The planet is slightly larger than Jupiter, and I have great doubts that the Miranda-class ship would last very long if they had to wait for another ship. In other words, it\’s up to us.

\”Collins, can you hail them?\” their captain asked.

\”Stand by, sir.\” A moment of silence passed. \”I have them.\”

\”Put me through.\” He waited, Collins nodded. Apollo stood up. \”This is Captain Apollo A. Racer of the Oberth calling the Hawthorne. Can you read us?\”

Static came over the bridge speakers; then it cleared. \”Oberth, this is Captain Simmons of the Hawthorne. We hear you, but just barely. My comm officer is having a coronary trying to keep the signal clear. Our viewscreen is dead and most of our external sensors are out. How do we look to you?\”

Apollo studied the ship on their screen. \”Well, Captain, to put simply, yeesh! I mean, you\’re a mess. Your situation\’s not too hot, either.\”

\”Please explain, Oberth. We\’re blind as a bat over here.\”

Apollo took a deep breath. \”Your ship is drifting toward a gas giant, but I\’m sure we can pull you free.\”

\”By all means, be my guest. Just try not to scratch the paint.\”

Apollo couldn\’t help but smirk. \”Trust me… right now, scratched paint is the least of your worries.\”

He heard a laugh on the other end. \”Boy, I\’m glad you\’re not a doctor. Your bedside manners are atrocious. Hawthorne out.\”

Apollo turned to face his bridge crew. \”Well, you heard the man. Let\’s get his butt out of the fire. Thelem, how low are we to standard orbit around the gas giant.\”

Thelem turned to his scanners. \”Uh, I\’m afraid we\’ve dropped below standard orbit, sir. In fact, we\’re almost within the planet\’s atmosphere.\”

Apollo got up and paced the bridge. \”Alllllllll righty then. Mr. Stewart, power up the tractor beam. Let\’s get them out of there.\”

\”Yes, sir. Lining up for tow.\” Stewart manipulated his controls. \”Activating now.\”

The ship rocked as the tractor beam took hold. The strain could clearly be heard. Thelem kept his eye on the scanners through the whole time. \”Captain, the Hawthorne is too far in the planet\’s gravity. All we\’ve done is slow their descent.\”

As Apollo silently cursed the news, his chair beeped. \”Bridge, this is Engineering. What the hell is going on up there? My engines are sounding like whipped dogs!\”

He was silently taken aback by this saucy female\’s voice. \”Ah, excuse me, Commander, but we\’re currently on a rescue mission. I\’m sorry if \’your\’ engines are complaining, but right now, I\’m going to need everything they\’ve got. In fact, we need more power to the tractor beam, if you could manage it.\”

\”Boy, you sure don\’t ask for much, do you?\” Her voice overflowed with sarcasm. \”All right, I\’ll see what I can do.\” The connection closed.

Apollo couldn\’t help but shrug. Stewart then announced, \”Tractor beam power has just increased to 115 percent.\”

He then heard Thelem behind him. \”The Hawthorne is slowly being extricated; but we\’re approaching shearing force on the tractor beam.\”

As if to emphasize his point, the ship rocked violently, sending people to the floor. Apollo picked himself up. \”What in blazes was that?\”

Thelem looked up. \”That, sir, was our tractor beam. We lost the emitter. Hawthorne is once again floating toward the planet.\”

Apollo rapped his chair. \”Damn. Well, does anybody have any suggestions?\”

Thelem thought for a moment. \”Well, since we couldn\’t pull them out, is there a way we could push them out?\”

Stewart shook his head. \”No can do. They\’re too close to the atmosphere. Besides, since we lost our tractor beam we don\’t have anything to push with.\”

The Andorian worked at his station. \”True. But I figured that if we detonate a photon torpedo close to their hull, the shock wave might be enough to push them away.\”

Apollo disagreed. \”Too risky. After the beating they took from the Klingons, a torpedo might well finish the job, and damage us besides.\” He continued pacing, but after a few minutes, he stopped and snapped his fingers. \”Can we take this ship into the atmosphere?\”

His crew was shocked. His navigator, Speller, spoke up. \”Sir, wouldn\’t we get caught in the atmosphere? How would we get out?\”

Apollo glared at his navigator, but kept it civil. \”First of all, we could use a parabolic course and use the planet\’s gravity to our advantage. They can\’t get out in their current condition… our ship is fully functional. I would hope there\’s a significant difference between the two.\”

As his crew thought about that, he threw them another curve. \”As we come upon their ship, we\’ll use our navigational deflector to bounce them out of the planet\’s gravity.\”

Thelem took a step toward his captain. \”But Captain, that\’s never been tried before. How are you sure it will work?\”

Apollo was close to losing his temper, but his Vulcan techniques kept him in control, barely. \”You wanted precedent setting, you\’ve got it.\” His eyes practically blazed in Thelem\’s direction, and the Andorian found himself taking a step back. Apollo then proceeded for the benefit of the rest of his crew. \”When we\’re at warp, our navigational deflector works to brush aside any objects that would threaten our hull integrity. What I\’m planning is this… and before you say anything, I have taken into account that the Hawthorne is a little larger than any flotsam the deflector is used to.\” He got up and started pacing again.

An idea struck him. \”What if we add warp power to our forward shields? We could then use them to act as a type of cow catcher, and help it out of the planet\’s influence. At the same time, our velocity would be enough to keep us from getting caught ourselves.\”

Thelem\’s eyes widened at the suggestion. He returned to his science console and worked over the board. \”It might be possible, sir. It would involve the integration of certain systems in ways that they\’ve never been used before, and we\’d have to closely monitor and adjust those systems, but it just might work.\”

Apollo rushed to his seat. \”Good. Let\’s get to it.\” As he sat down, he punched the comm button. \”Bridge to Engineering. Rawlings, I\’ll need you up here to confer with Mr. Thelem on our next plan of action.\”

\”I\’m on my way,\” came the reply.

~ * ~

\”Captain, we\’re all set,\” Rawlings said. She was standing at the engineering substation, behind and to the left of the captain\’s chair and next to the turbolift. Thelem was walking around to the left side of the bridge, where his science station was.

Apollo turned toward his chief engineer. \”Good work, Rawlings, Thelem. Collins, patch me through to the Hawthorne.\”

\”Aye, sir,\” Collins said as he worked the controls.

\”Hawthorne, this is the Oberth, come in.\”

Collins was shaking his head. \”Sir, I show that they\’re reading us, but they can\’t respond anymore. Damage previously taken to their communications system.\” He looked up. \”From what I\’m getting on my sensors, Captain, it\’s amazing that they were able to talk to us in the first place.\”

Apollo nodded absently. \”Understood. But they can hear me.\”

\”Yes, sir.\”

\”Good,\” he signaled to continue. \”Captain Simmons, we\’re aware of your situation, so sit back and listen. We\’re ready for attempt number two. Normally, I would say \’third time\’s the charm\’, but I don\’t think we can afford a third try. I intend this to be successful; if it\’s not, I\’ll personally get out and push your ship myself. Now, you\’re going to feel a mild bump… hell, you\’re going to think that you\’ve been hit by a moon. I\’ve been reassured that it won\’t cause any more damage to your ship than you\’ve already received. Unless, of course, your inertial dampening field has malfunctioned, in which case the whole subject is moot, and I\’ll see you on the other side. So inform your crew to grab on to anything that\’s bolted down and hold on tight, because it\’s going to be a hell of a ride.\”

He signaled the channel closed. \”All right, let\’s do it. Helm, take up our starting position.\”

\”Aye, sir. Swinging around.\”

The Oberth made a graceful arc and moved away from the Hawthorne. It shot around the gas giant and took position just outside its influence.

Apollo punched his intercom. \”All hands, this is the captain speaking. We\’re about to ram another ship, so if you have anything to hold on to, now\’s the time to grab it. Oh, and uh… now wouldn\’t be a bad time to say a prayer, either.\” He switched it off, and swiveled to face his first officer. At Thelem\’s skeptical look, he simply shrugged. \”How fast do you think we need to go?\”

\”We need to be traveling at one-half impulse for this to work.\”

Apollo grimaced as he made the calculations in his head. \”Well, for all intents and purposes, you had better be right that we won\’t damage them. Mr. Stewart, ahead full impulse.\”

Stewart entered the command, and the Oberth launched itself toward the planet. They swung into a low orbit and accelerated toward the Hawthorne.

Apollo clenched his teeth. \”Hang on. Here comes jolt number one.\” On that note, everyone lurched forward as the gravity clutched at the ship.

Stewart called out. \”Sir, we\’re decelerating. Approaching three-quarters impulse.\”

Jolt number two came unexpectedly, as they suddenly slammed into the Hawthorne. Rawlings lost her grip and was flung over the command chair. Apollo saw her flying over him and brought his arm up and out, catching her in the midriff and swinging her into his lap. He heard an audible outtake of air as he knocked the breath out of her, and as such, he clung to her as she was too dazed to hold on herself. Consoles sparked as systems were overloaded.

The view from outside was spectacular. The Oberth hit the Hawthorne dead on. Whatever was left of the Hawthorne\’s shields sparkled brightly as they came into contact with the other ship\’s deflector beam. Just as they were pushed out of the way, their shields failed. The port nacelle of the damaged ship bent sharply inward, but by that point they had veered away, causing no other damage. The Hawthorne floated safely away from the planet.

Aboard the Oberth they were just recovering. The lighting, which struggled against the demands of their stunt and finally just gave way to emergency lights, decided it was now safe enough to come back on. Collins groaned. \”Ohhhhhhhhh… what a ride. I want my money back.\”

Apollo looked up at him. \”Sorry, no refunds.\” He then turned his attention on the woman in his lap. \”Please, Rawlings, we\’re on duty.\” Rawling smiled and blushed a deep red. She tried to get up and failed on the first try. Apollo kept her from making a second attempt. \”Are you all right?\”

She held a hand to her head. \”I… I think so, sir. I just had the wind knocked out of me, that\’s all.\”

Apollo stood, helping her up in the process. \”Just the same, I think you\’d better go to Sickbay and make sure.\”

\”Understood, sir.\” She paused at the railing to make sure she could keep her balance, then made her way to the turbolift.

\”Damage report.\” Apollo called out.

\”Although our forward shields are down to five percent and we suffered some systems failures, we\’re still more or less functional. There are some minor injuries, however… some people didn\’t have enough time to lash themselves down,\” Thelem reported.

\”I see,\” Apollo said with a nod. \”Let\’s get back to the Hawthorne and see how they\’re doing.\”

~ * ~

A half hour later, Apollo was standing on the bridge of Simmons\’ ship. As he surveyed the damage around him, he couldn\’t help but wonder if this was all caused by the battle or if they were responsible for some of it. He watched as his medical team took the more seriously injured people off the bridge.

Simmons himself was sitting in his chair, though it was tilted rather grotesquely; as a result, he was more leaning against it than actually sitting in it. He was holding a bandage to his head as a medic taped it in place. Apollo approached him. \”Sorry if I gave you a rough ride, Captain.\”

\”It worked, though. Hell, you weren\’t kidding when you said it\’d be a rough ride. My head aches like hell.\” He shrugged, which caused his head to hurt more. \”But it worked, didn\’t it?\”

Apollo looked at him sheepishly. \”Yes. Technically.\”

Simmons looked up. \”What do you mean, technically?\”

\”Your shields failed before we completed the maneuver. I\’m afraid we knocked your warp drive out of alignment a tad.\”

Simmons bounced his head up and down. \”A tad. Right. Heh… I\’m surprised we still even have a warp drive.\” He sighed. \”Well, we have impulse.\”

The Oberth\’s captain shook his head. \”Captain, the nearest starbase is three days away at warp six. Don\’t worry, I\’ve already called for a couple of starships and a tow for you. I know, it\’s not the most graceful way to show up at a starbase, but it\’s better than the alternative.\”

\”This is true.\” Simmons stood up. \”Listen to me… you just risked your ship and crew saving us, and I\’m griping about it.\” He shook Apollo\’s hand. \”Thank you, Captain, for what you\’ve done. Because of your efforts, a lot more people will be able to go home. I appreciate it.\”

\”Just doing my duty. If you ever need anything, look me up.\”

Simmons chuckled. \”That should be my line, but thanks just the same.\”

Apollo stayed on the Hawthorne until help arrived, then he transported to his own ship. He was met by his first officer. \”On to our next mission, eh, Thelem?\”

The Andorian didn\’t move. He waited until Apollo stepped down from the pads before saying, \”You did a good job, sir.\”

\”No, Thelem… we did a good job.\” He clapped his friend on the back as they walked out of the transporter room.

 

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