“The Doomsday Machine” Redux Part 5

LATER IN THE EPISODE


“Mr. Spock,” Palmer said, “We’ve managed to pierce the interference locally.”

“Can you raise Star Fleet?” Spock asked.

“No, sir,” she replied. “But I’ve got ship to ship back. Picking up Captain Kirk.”

“On audio, Lt.”

Kirk’s worried, frustrated voice came over the speaker.

“Kirk to Enterprise….Enterprise, come in…”

Spock moved to the comm station but Decker interjected. “Mr. Spock, I am still in command and I will speak for this ship.” He hit the chair’s comm switch. ” Enterprise to Kirk. Commodore Decker speaking.”

“Matt?” Kirk replied, “What’s going on? Give me Mr. Spock.”

“I’m in command here, Jim.” Decker said confidently.

“What happened to Spock?”

“Nothing. I assumed command according to regulations since your first officer was reluctant to take aggressive action against…”

Kirk cut him off.

“YOU MEAN YOU’RE THE LUNATIC THAT PUT MY SHIP THROUGH THAT BEATING!?!?”

“You are speaking to a senior officer, Kirk.”

“Give me Spock…”

“I told you I am in command here, according to every rule in the book Captain.” Decker declared. “If you have anything to say at all, you will say it to me.”

“There’s only one thing I want to say to you, Commodore. YOU GET MY SHIP OUT OF THERE!!”

Kirk took a deep breath and continued. “Commander Spock, if you can hear my voice, I order you to answer me!”

Palmer quickly nodded to Spock, indicating that the comm station’s response mike was open.

“Spock here, Captain.”

“Good……. ship status?”

Before Spock could reply, Decker again interjected. “Down here, Commander…” He motioned for Spock to move down beside the command chair. Spock complied.

“No casualties, Captain. Warp drive out. Deflectors down. We’ve taken one minor hull breach but the emergency force field is in place. Transporter under repair. We are on emergency impulse power.”

“How long to repair warp drive?” Kirk asked.

“At least one solar day. At our present rate of consumption, we’ll exhaust our impulse power long before then.”

Sulu spoke abruptly. “It’s gaining on us, sir!”

“Take evasive action, Mr. Sulu…” Kirk ordered.

“I told you I am in command here, Captain.” Decker snapped. “We are going to turn and attack…”

“Not with MY ship you don’t!” Kirk replied. “Mr. Spock, relieve Commodore Decker immediately. That’s a direct order.”

“You can’t relieve me and you know it!” Decker began. “According to regulations….”

“BLAST REGULATIONS!” Kirk shouted. “Mr. Spock, I order you to assume command on my personal authority as Captain of the Enterprise“.

Spock moved closer to the command chair. “Commodore Decker, you are relieved of command.”

Decker met Spock’s eyes then looked away, speaking with pure arrogance. “I don’t recognize your authority to relieve me.”

Spock continued. “You may file a formal protest with Star Fleet Command assuming we survive to reach a starbase. But you are relieved.”

Decker ignored him

“Commodore, I do not wish to place you under arrest.”

Decker abruptly stopped fiddling with the computer tapes in his hand and again met Spock’s gaze. “You wouldn’t dare…”

Standing beside the turbolift doors, security guards Russ and Montgomery had been watching Spock’s every move from the instant this mad man had usurped command. Rank be damned. If so ordered, they were quite prepared to haul Decker out of the command chair and off the bridge; especially since contact had been re-established with the Captain. When Spock finally gave the gesture they were waiting for, they practically leaped to the Vulcan’s aid. They moved to stand on either side of the command chair, giving Decker a menacing look.

Decker looked from Montgomery to Russ, then at Spock. “You’re bluffing.”

But even as he said the words, Decker knew they weren’t true. The iron clad loyalty of this particular starship’s crew was known only too well throughout Star Fleet; as was the unswerving manner of her Executive Officer. Decker almost knew what Spock was going to say before he spoke.

“Vulcans never bluff.”

Decker sighed in resignation. “No…..no, I don’t suppose that they do.” He set the microtapes on the chair arm and stood up. “Very well, Mr. Spock. The bridge is yours.” He moved to the upper level as Spock sat in the command chair. “Captain, I’ve assumed command.” Spock said.

“Good, ” Kirk said, “Now, Mr. Spock…”

“One moment, sir.” Spock interrupted. He then spoke over his shoulder. “Commodore, I believe you are scheduled for medical examination. Mr. Montgomery…?”

Montgomery stepped forward. “Sir?”

“You will accompany the Commodore to sickbay, please.”

“Aye, sir..” Montgomery said as he gestured toward the turbolift. “Commodore….?”

Spock spoke into the chair’s comm panel as the two entered the turbo lift. “Captain, we are taking an evasive course back to you. We will try to stay ahead of the machine until we can beam you aboard.”

“Fine,” Kirk replied, “Just make sure you stay ahead of it.”


Montgomery’s first mistake was lowering his guard a bit. As he and Decker stepped out of the turbo lift on deck seven en-route to Sickbay, The Commodore faked a cough and backhanded him, then made a grab for his phaser. His second mistake was pulling his punches. This man was a Flag Officer and not in his right mind due to grief. He would later regret that decision. The two exchanged blows for a few seconds, sending the phaser skittering across the floor. The last thing Montgomery remembered was Decker scooping it up and aiming it at him.


Columbus

On the bridge, Sulu was doing his routine scan of the status board when an indicator he didn’t expect to see began flashing. “Mr. Spock,” he said over his shoulder, “The hangar bay doors are opening..”

“Override and shut them, Mr. Sulu.” Spock replied.

“It’s too late, sir. Shuttlecraft away. It’s the Columbus.”

Columbus 2

Kirk glanced up from the Constellation‘s auxiliary helm console at the view screen. Like Sulu, this was the last thing he expected to see. He opened his communicator. “Kirk to Enterprise, why the hell are you launching a shuttlecraft?”

“Whoever it is, Captain, has no authorization.” Spock replied. He spoke to Palmer. “Lt., raise the shuttlecraft.”

Commodore Decker 2

Aboard the Columbus, Decker stared at the planet killer as it grew in size in the view ports; the terrified voices of his crew ringing in his ears. He’d tried to repair the cargo transporter to no avail and there was no power to the hangar bay doors. He couldn’t even be down there to die with them. The memory of Masada’s last words hit him like a torpedo.

“Commodore, it’s been an honor and a privilege serving with you, sir.”

Commodore Decker

Tears welled up in his eyes. Garth Masada had been a fine young officer who was well on his way to commanding a ship of his own.

And he had murdered him.

Just as surely as if he’d cut his throat. It was the same with the rest of the crew. He had the blood of over four hundred people on his hands. Lt. Palmer’s voice finally pierced the haze he was in.

Enterprise to shuttlecraft Columbus, come in, Columbus. Come in, Columbus.” He hit the reply button. “Columbus to Enterprise. Decker here.”

“Commodore,” came Spock’s voice, “I must insist that you reverse course and return to the ship.”

Decker’s voice sounded tired.

“You said it yourself, Spock. There is no way to blast through the hull of that Goddamned thing; so I’m going to shove a fusion explosion down its throat.”

“Matt, this is JIm” came Kirk’s voice, “You’ll be killed.”

“I’ve been prepared for death ever since I…”. Decker’s voice deepened with emotion. “Ever since I killed my crew.”

“No one expects you to die for an error in judgement.” Kirk said.

His ship’s surgeon, Dr. Warren Ostrow, had been a friend for decades. He’d delivered Decker’s son. Kirk’s words almost echoed his.

“Matt, you can’t blame yourself for this…We all agreed it was the only option.”

It was the very last thing he’d heard before the planet broke up.

“A starship commander is responsible for the lives of his crew….”. Decker said softly. “And for their deaths. Well…. I should have died with mine.”

“Commodore,” Spock said, “It’s doubtful the explosion will be powerful enough. You’ll die in vain. Your only logical alternative is to return to the ship.”

“Matt, listen to me…” Kirk pressed, “You can’t throw your life away like this..Think about Will. He’s already lost one parent…..What would you have me say to him?”

“He grew up with Star Fleet, Jim. He’ll understand. He got past Leigh Anne’s death. He’s a strong boy. He’ll be fine.”

Kirk’s memory quickly flashed back to Leigh Anne Decker. She’d been a stunningly beautiful woman and the very essence of a Star Fleet wife. An aircraft accident on Earth had taken her life six years ago.

“Matt, you’re a starship commander. That makes you a valuable commodity.” Kirk said, “We need you. Your experience, your judgement. DAMMIT, MATT, WE’RE STRONGER WITHYOU THAN WITHOUT YOU!

He then spoke to his first officer. “Spock! Get a tractor beam on that shuttlecraft!”

Spock looked over to the Engineering station where Lt. Leslie gave him a grim shake of his head. “Sorry, sir.”

“Tractor beam generators non-functional, Captain.” Spock reported.

As he stared down the planet killer’s throat, Decker’s eyes were full of loathing as he recalled a passage from a book he and Will had read together.

From Hell’s heart I stab at thee….For Hate’s sake, I spit my last breath at thee.

Kirk, Scott, the damage control team and the Enterprise bridge crew all watched in helpless frustration as the shuttle disappeared into the machine’s maw.

A few seconds later, Hadley spoke softly from Spock’s station. “Sir, the Columbus just detonated.”

Spock gave a slow nod.

“He’s gone,”

TO BE CONTINUED

Post a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.