Origins, Chapter 9

 

 

 

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 Nine

Captain’s Log, Stardate 1468.5:

The USS Endeavor has been assigned to patrol along the Romulan Neutral Zone. For the moment, all is quiet, but where Romulans are concerned…

The ship’s commander trailed off, for dramatic pause before concluding his log. “…one can never expect it to remain quiet for long.”

Apollo punched off the log recorder. “Status report,” he stated.

The helmsman glanced up from her console. “Maintaining course and speed, sir.”

“No sign of any ships or objects within our course, captain,” came the reply from the navigator’s station, to the right of the helm.

Behind him, Apollo could hear the science officer and the communications officer give their respective reports. “Nothing from the Romulan side, sir.”

“All’s quiet on subspace channels, sir.”

Apollo rested his chin in his hand and brooded. “That’s the problem… it’s too damn quiet.”

The science officer spoke up. “Why expect trouble? Just be glad we have this little rest.”

The captain spun in his chair and grinned at the officer. “Count my blessings, eh, Skip?”

“Well, like I’ve always heard, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Apollo chuckled. “I hear you, mister. Engineering, how are things down there?”

“Couldn’t be better, sir,” answered a voice with a thick Middle Eastern accent. “The engines are purring like kittens.”

“I’m glad to hear it, Mr. Bendavi. Keep up the good work.” Apollo leaned back in his chair as he cut the intercom. Things were just too boring for his liking. But then, Starfleet life was not all action.

“Captain! I’m picking up a subspace signal. It’s on a distress frequency!” the comm officer said, excited.

Perhaps I thought too soon. Apollo practically jumped from his chair. “Let’s hear it, Mr. Jacobs.”

Noise flooded the bridge, but slowly a message could be made out among the noise as Jacobs filtered it out. “…point five… Tar… need… please…”

“Jacobs, get a fix on that, now.” Apollo was impatient. He wanted to hear what they were saying.

“Trying, sir.” He made a few more adjustments. “Here it comes again.”

The message was definitely clearer. “…need help please. We repeat, this is the transport freighter Kobayashi Maru. We have been rendered inoperative by a subspace anomaly. Our engines are dead and our life support is out. We urgently need help please.” The message repeated itself again.

“Hail the ship, Jacobs. Skip, I want information on them.” Apollo was excited that they were finally getting some action.

As Skip turned to the science station, Jacobs got Apollo’s attention. “I have them now. Putting you through.”

Kobayashi Maru, this is the USS Endeavor. We have picked up your distress signal. Give us your coordinates and we’ll assist you.” Apollo determined to put as much confidence in his voice as possible to assure the ship that they were heard.

“Thank goodness, a Federation starship. We feared the worst. We’re in the Tarod star system. I don’t think we can hold out much longer.”

“Stand by, Maru, we’ll get to you as fast as we can,” Apollo said.

Jacobs looked up at his commander. “Sir, I’m losing the signal.” His hands fluttered over his board. “No good, sir. I’ve lost them.”

The navigator spoke up. “Sir, I have the coordinates. They place them dangerously close to the Romulan Neutral Zone.”

Skip turned to face his friend. “Captain, the Maru is a medium range transport ship. At last reports, it carried a crew of 209 and a cargo of hytritium. If anyone even blinked wrong…”

“It’ll blow the ship to kingdom come,” Apollo finished for him. An odd look crossed his face. “What the hell is a passenger freighter doing with such an unstable substance?”

Skip shrugged. “Dunno. It’s not uncommon for freighters to pull double duties for a little extra in their coffers. At any rate, if their engines are dead, they could have drifted into the Neutral Zone already.”

Apollo nodded. “And we certainly don’t want the Romulans to get their hands on something so volatile. Mr. Phillips, set an intercept course, best possible speed. I want to be there yesterday!”

“Yes, sir. Engaging warp drive.”

Apollo could feel the Endeavor spin around on an axis. He next felt the thrumming of her mighty engines as the screen showed her bursting into warp speed. Pumped up with adrenaline, Apollo started pacing around the bridge. “We’ve reached warp 8, Captain,” said Phillips.

Skip spoke from his station, his face glowing blue as he looked into his viewer. “At that speed, we should get there in about fifteen minutes.”

Apollo nodded. “But is it enough. Will we get there in time.” The fact that he stated the questions more than asked them led the crew to believe that they were rhetorical statements. They remained silent.

A quarter of an hour later, Phillips spoke up. “Sir, entering the Tarod system. The furthest planet out is just within Federation space.”

“Understood. Slow to impulse speed. Skip, keep an eye out for the Maru, along with other surprises,” Apollo said through clenched teeth.

“Aye, sir.” Skip scanned the area. His brow wrinkled. “This is weird. There’s no sign of the Maru.”

Apollo was just as puzzled. “Any sign of debris? Could she have exploded?”

“Hang on.” Skip looked again, then shook his head. “No sir, no sign of anything.”

Apollo returned to his seat. “That’s odd.” Suddenly, he straightened up in his chair, his spine tingling.

Skip looked concerned. “Sir, are you all right?”

“Quiet!” Apollo snapped, waving him off. He simply stared at the screen. “Focus in on the planet.”

Phillips looked at her commanding officer, then to Skip, then to the navigator. She shrugged and concentrated
on the planet. “Aye, sir. Increasing magnification.” Soon, the planet filled the screen.

All Apollo did was concentrate on the screen. Skip was about to ask him what he was doing when he pointed to the planet. “There! See that?”

Skip shook his head. “I don’t know what you’re…”

“There! In the lower right hemisphere of the planet.” Skip squinted until he saw what Apollo saw. There was an odd distortion on the planet’s face; a distortion that was growing in size. Apollo jumped up. “Red alert! Shields up! All hands to battle stations!” he forced out of his mouth. The klaxon sounded immediately, and the bridge was bathed in red light. “Open a hailing frequency.”

Jacobs hesitated for a second, until Apollo glared at him. “Aye, sir,” he said, shivering, “hailing frequencies opened.”

Apollo turned his glare to the screen. “This is Captain Racer of the Federation starship Endeavor, calling the Romulan ship ahead of us.” At hearing those words, all heads turned toward their captain in surprise. “We are here on a rescue mission. Number one, I want to know what happened to the ship that sent the distress signal, and number two, I want to know why you’ve crossed over into Federation space.” While he waited, he turned to Phillips, “Lock phasers on target. If their response is anything but friendly, open fire.”

Phillips’ eyes widened slightly, but her voice was firm. “Aye, sir,” she said, inputting the appropriate commands.

Skip spoke out. “Sir! Energy surge coming from the ship! Romulan bird-of-prey decloaking; weapons coming on line, shields going up!”

“Let ’em have it.” Here we go, Apollo thought, not too disappointed.

Twin blue beams streaked out in front of them to strike dead center of the ship just becoming visible. They leaned hard to one side as damage was clearly being made. “Direct hit, sir,” Skip declared. “Heavy damage. We got them before their shields were completely up.” He looked wonderingly at Apollo. “How did you know?” he said quietly. At a beep from his console he brought his attention back to it. “Two more ships decloaking! Klingon-made D-7 battlecruisers! They’re firing!”

The ship rocked under the concentrated blast from two separate hits. “Shields to ninety-two percent and dropping fast under heavy fire!” cried Phillips.

“Evasive action Delta 5. Attack plan Zeta 2-22. Follow that with Attack Plan Alpha Romeo 6,” Apollo calmly said. “Send word to Starfleet about our situation.”

After a moment, Jacobs replied, “Sir, they’re jamming us on all signals.”

The ship lurched as defensive measures were brought into play. They would loop around, fire, then loop in a different direction, spinning around on all axes. As much of a swath as they were cutting through space, the Romulans managed to stay with them. Suddenly, there was a loud explosion behind Apollo. Jacobs was flung over the command chair, coming to rest between Apollo and the helm. Apollo looked back at the smoking ruin of the communications station, then to the downed officer. “That did it,” he raged. “Phillips, hard about! Ram a couple of photon torpedoes down his throat and we’ll see if he likes them!”

His response was plain as the view whirled around again. The Romulan bird-of-prey loomed on the screen. A plasma beam burst forth from it, heading toward the ship. At the same instant, Phillips launched two torpedoes at their enemy. The two energy projectiles passed each other, heading toward their respective targets. Once again, the bridge rocked from the hit. But Apollo was satisfied as the pounding was too much for the Romulan’s shields. It erupted in a ball of flame, blacking out the screen. “We’re blind!” shouted Phillips as they lost their view. The ship rocked again. “Shields down to twenty percent. We can’t take much more.”

The intercom squawked. “Captain, environmental systems are out.” Bendavi’s voice said, anguish clear in his tone. “Warp drive has been damaged.”

Apollo got another tingle down his spine. “Phillips, 180 degree turn, fire everything!”

Phillips shouted, “But we can’t see where we’re going!”

Apollo jumped up. “Just do as I say, Lieutenant!!”

She immediately whipped around to comply. Her hesitancy was enough for the ship to get blasted again. Another explosion erupted on the bridge. Phillips was flung out of her chair to land next to Jacobs.

“Dammit!” Apollo said. He jumped over the two bodies and completed the maneuver. Compensating for the loss of time, he shot where he felt the ship would be, hearing acknowledgments that both phasers and photons were fired.

Silence, aside from the fires on the bridge, cut through the air. Apollo managed to coax the ship to stop its wild careening. “Skip?” he simply said. He looked up to see his friend struggle to his feet, injured in the last hit. He looked into his scanner. His head whipped around to look at Apollo, his face clearly showing shock. He looked back into the scanner. “I can’t believe it,” he whispered.

“What was that, Skip?” Apollo said.

“Sir, I’m not getting anything from the Romulan ship.” He looked up and stared at Apollo. “You got it. The bird-of-prey is the only one left. It’s trying to limp away.”

“Not for long,” Apollo said. Glancing at the instruments, he swung the ship toward an intercept course. “I’m going to find out why those bastards wanted to…”

“Captain!” Skip interrupted. “Receiving an energy surge from them! They’re going to…”

He never finished his sentence as more eruptions swept across the Bridge. The floor lurched out from under him, sending Skip sailing across the room. He landed against the wall near the viewscreen. Apollo was flung backward from his chair, winding up on the floor on top of the navigator.

He opened his eyes. All was quiet. He tried to get up, but he was too dazed to move. “Ugh…” he grunted. “Skip, are you okay?”

He heard a dull moan in response. “Oooh. Stop the ship… I wanna get off. Ohhh, this is worse than any hangover I’ve ever had….” Skip managed to get to his feet, holding his head. The bridge was tilted at an outrageous angle. “Hang on, sir. I’ll try to see what happened. He staggered to his station and clung to his viewer as he tried to look into it. “It’s no use. I’m not getting anything. The controls are dead.”

“You couldn’t have phrased that just a little bit better?”

Suddenly, Apollo heard a voice from outside the Bridge. “What the hell happened in there?! Open the damn thing up!” He winced as bright light poured into his eyes. The viewscreen split down the middle and parted. A man was silhouetted in the light. People were running like mad behind him. “What the hell!?” They looked around incredulously. “What in God’s name happened in here? Can we get some lights in here, for Christ’s sake?”

The bright light disappeared, or rather, it seemed dimmed as normal lighting came up on the “bridge”. The floor slowly righted itself and ventilators began clearing the smoke from the room. Apollo heard a muffled moan. “Geh uva meh…”

He blinked in confusion. “Huh?” was all he could say.

He heard cursing next. Someone shook his leg off their head. It was Phillips. Now that her head was free, she hollered, “Get offa me!”

“Oh. Sorry.” He immediately got to his feet, then found the mistake in doing that as his head swam.

“Damn, Racer,” she said, glaring at him as she got off the floor. “Do you work out or something? You feel like you almost weigh a ton!” He grinned sheepishly as the officer – a real officer… she was assigned to a ship currently orbiting Earth, and had volunteered to take part in the simulation – walked out of the room.

Allowing his vision to return to normal, he saw the rest of his “crew” getting up off the floor in various stages of dizziness. Skip was leaning against his station, still holding his head. Apollo staggered over to him and placed a hand on his shoulder. “You okay, buddy?”

Skip nodded. He removed his hand, and noticed a slight trace of blood on it. “I think so. Must’ve rapped that bulkhead a little too hard.”

Apollo grinned. “Bull. You couldn’t rap anything hard enough to hurt that thick skull of yours. I’ll bet the bulkhead hurts worse than you.”

“Hah. Hah. Very funny, Captain sir.” Skip said, oozing with sarcasm. Then Apollo saw him snap up straight, at least as much as he could. Apollo looked in that direction and understood why, snapping to attention himself as Admiral Komack walked into the room.

The admiral looked around at the smoky haze that the vents still hadn’t cleared. “Unbelievable,” he muttered. He dismissed everyone but Apollo, making a special note to Skip to get his head looked at. When they left the room, he came up to the cadet. “Well, you got yourself into a fine fix, didn’t you.”

Apollo shrugged, then remembered that he was supposed to be at attention. “Permission to speak freely, sir.”

“Certainly.”

Apollo looked straight at him. “It was a trap, plain and simple. I allowed myself to be led into a trap.”

“Ah, but you didn’t know that at the time you got the distress call, did you?”

“No, sir, although I must admit that by putting the ship near the Neutral Zone, it kind of made sense that we would have met some type of opposition.”

Komack walked in a circle around the cadet. “Which brings me to something I found peculiarly puzzling. You went in there to perform a rescue, but if you ask me, you also half-expected to run into trouble.” He got right up into Apollo’s face. “How in blazes did you know you were going to be attacked!?”

“Well, sir, I found it highly suspicious that a ship assigned to carry passengers would be carrying a cargo of highly sensitive and volatile explosives. Surely even a freighter captain looking to make some extra currency wouldn’t be desperate enough to haul both at the same time.”

“Okay, I’ll admit you probably have a point there,” he replied, adding with a mutter, “I told those designers that might be a bit too hard to explain…” His attention immediately returned to the cadet with whom he was supposed to be chewing out. “At any rate, this simulation is kept Top Secret! Only myself and the engineers running it know what’s going to happen, as well as the veteran officers who assisted you in filling some stations! Only inside knowledge would explain you knowing how this scenario would play out.”

“Admiral, are you accusing me of violating the rules? With all due respect, sir, I find that implication highly offensive. My only impression of this simulation and my performance is that it was an utter fiasco.”

Komack left Apollo’s face and paced around the wrecked bridge. Apollo thought he had heard the admiral grunt, but it was followed by a few more. He then realized that Komack was laughing, most likely at him. “Sir, permission to request what the admiral thinks is so funny about my performance.”

At that outburst, Komack turned to him. He was smiling. “You don’t get it, do you. You honestly don’t know what this test was about?” He shook his head and chuckled some more. “Well, cadet, this was supposed to be a simulation to measure how well you handle defeat. It’s supposed to be a test of character.”

Apollo thought about what the admiral just said. “‘Supposed to be’? Am I to take it that’s not what this was? My whole crew died. The Bridge was smashed.”

“Did they?” Komack watched him as he walked in front of the viewscreen. “Was it? Tell me, Cadet, what was the last thing you did just before the lights came up?”

He looked at the superior officer, perplexed. As he ran through his actions in his head, he said, “I… I was checking to see if Cadet Douglas was all right. Was that wrong?”

The admiral chuckled again. “Only in that he would have been able to answer you at all. Given the readings we received before the simulation ended, your ship suffered heavy damages, but it wasn’t destroyed.”

Apollo’s eyebrow rose. “Pardon me for saying so, but wouldn’t that be a good thing, Admiral?”

“Not in this test.” Komack was once again in front of Apollo. “You see, Cadet Racer, the Kobayashi Maru is designed to rate a command cadet on his response to a no-win scenario.” Seeing the cadet’s confusion, he began pacing. “At any time in a Starfleet officer’s life, there may come a time when there’s absolutely no chance of a victory, no chance of a rescue, no chance of coming out of the situation alive. This test was designed to see not how you commanded, but how you would best deal with the fact that there’s no way out.”

“And that wasn’t the case, sir?”

No, that wasn’t the case, Cadet! That wasn’t the case at all! Your ship suffered damage… your crew suffered casualties… but you survived! We sent the best Romulan crap our intelligence knew they had after you, and damned if you didn’t survive!” He put a hand behind his neck and shook his head. “Heh… you beat the damned no-win scenario… and Jim Kirk is going to be pissed.”

Apollo recalled that name; he was one of Starfleet’s finest starship captains. “Sir, I don’t understand.”

“Jim Kirk was the only other person to beat the scenario. But he cheated. He re-programmed the damn thing so he could rescue the ship.”

Apollo thought for a moment. “But there was no ship. It was a trap.”

Komack shook his head. “No… there wasn’t a ship. But that doesn’t matter now, does it.” He took one last look around the Bridge. “Ah, hell… go clean up, Cadet. You’ll receive the official results later today.”

“Yes, sir.” Apollo replied.

Komack grunted and turned to leave the simulator. He was almost out when he a realization struck him. He headed back towards Apollo and tapped the cadet on his temple. “You knew this way, didn’t you?”

“Huh?”

“You saw in your head what was going to happen, didn’t you? Just like when your friend was caught in that fire? Which means you did have foreknowledge of what was going to happen.”

“No, sir. I may have had flashes of insight to guide me when we could no longer use the viewscreen or sensors, but I never…” Apollo stopped himself. “Now that you mention it, I did have this weird dream last week…”

“Weird dream? What was it like?”

Apollo concentrated so he could recall the images he saw. “There… there was a bird… a phoenix. It wanted to kill me, but I somehow stood it down.” Enlightenment colored his features. “I didn’t understand what the dream meant until now.”

“So you saw the dream again here, in this room?”

“No, sir. I just did what I felt was right.”

He paused, thinking it over, and snorted. “Damn… quite a gut feeling you have there.”

“Sir, if my Foresight somehow allowed me advance knowledge of the test… although I’m not exactly sure how it could have worked for me since this was only a simulation…”

“The test measures more than your character. It also test your knowledge the skills you have and your ability to utilize equipment you have on hand,” Komack interrupted. “Your… ‘skill’ simply allowed you to react better. And the way you took over the helm…”

“Sir…” Apollo said, interrupting right back. “I had no choice there. Phillips was down, I had no time to assign someone else… and I was closer anyway.”

“Relax. Stop trying to disqualify yourself, damn it. I’m not criticizing your actions. It’s my feeling that a good captain has to know every function that takes place aboard his ship. You certainly proved that.” Komack turned to leave the room. “Know this, Racer,” he said, not turning around. “Keep this up, and you’ll have a fine career ahead of you. And may God have mercy on your soul.” He disappeared around a corner.

Apollo stood alone in the simulator. “Thank you, sir,” he said quietly, stunned as much by Komack’s appraisal as by the fact he found himself smiling.

 

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