"Well, Commodore, you do look fit indeed! Leave must be agreeing with you! Come in, Jim, come in! What can I do for you?"
Nogura fairly pulled Jim Kirk into his office and gestured expansively to the expensive-looking chair in front of his huge, ornate desk. The former ENTERPRISE captain accepted with a slight nod, sinking gratefully into the plush Denebian cushions. They felt marvelously good - was there just a suggestion of twinkling chimes as he settled himself? He half-closed his eyes, lost in the luxury, and might have fallen asleep had Nogura not spoken once again. "And how is Vice-Admiral Ciana, Jim?"
Kirk smiled broadly, recalling vividly the warmth of the bed he'd shared with Lori Ciana for almost a half-year, and was once again grateful to Nogura for introducing them. "Wonderful, Heihachiro, couldn't be better!"
"I take it your relationship is still on an even keel?"
"Without a doubt, Admiral, she's the best thing to happen to me in a long time."***
"Then what could I possibly do for you that she can't?"
Kirk's eyes snapped open and his smile vanished. "Put me to work, sir. Six months of leave time is more than enough! You said it yourself when I walked in here - I'm fit. The doctors agree. I'm sure you had something in mind when you promoted me but you said at the time that you wanted me to take my leave first. Well, as far as I'm concerned, my leave is over and I'm ready to report for active duty."
Nogura could not have been more ecstatic. Any doubts that he had had concerning Kirk's ability to handle a permanent ground assignment had just been quashed by Kirk's straightforward manner and forceful tone. "Fine, Jim, just fine! Did you talk this over with Lori?"
"Yes, and she encouraged me without reservation."
"Splendid! Now, I suppose you've heard the scuttlebutt that the ENTERPRISE has been decommissioned?"
"Yes, I have." Kirk replied wistfully. "May I ask why?"
"I was hoping you would. I'm putting you in charge of her redesign."
"Her redesign?" Kirk felt a firebolt shoot through him.
"You heard me, Jim. We're going to redesign and rebuild her. If what I have in mind succeeds, we'll have a ship that will be able to meet the new Klingon cruisers on more than equal terms. A preliminary investigation has already revealed the following-" Nogura took two holo-discs from a wall rack and handed them to Kirk. Their labels read: "Interior Redesign Recommendations, USS ENTERPRISE, NCC 1701. Preliminary Report." and "Warp-Drive Engine Upgrade Plot for Constitution-Class Starships - StarFleet Engineering." Kirk whistled in surprise. "Then the dreadnoughts are definitely out?"
"Not only are they out, Jim, even these preliminary reports promise a better-all-around vessel. I want you to study them thoroughly, then report back to me when you are ready to meet the men you'll be finalizing plans with." He stood up. "Bring me a good ship, Commodore."
Kirk rose too. "I'll do my best, sir." But halfway to the door, he paused. "Heihachiro, will I have any say in who I'll be working with on this?"
"Absolutely, Jim! If you have any thoughts now, then by all means let's have them!"
"Montgomery Scott." Kirk said immediately. "He's the best damned engineer in StarFleet. He deserves to be in at the bottom of this."
A soft chuckle floated down on Kirk's ears. "We both know Scotty's connections in the Engineering Division, Jim. Once he heard about it, I couldn't stop him from volunteering!"
Kirk's eyes lit up. That was Scotty all over. He was going to love this. But already Kirk's mind was considering another name. "Admiral, you remember Matt Decker, don't you?"
"Of course. One of the best, Jim."
"Then you know his son, Will. I'd like to have him, too.
"I thought you might. He's on his way from StarBase Two right now."
Kirk was flabbergasted. Had Nogura read his mind? "In that case, I'd appreciate being notified the moment he arrives. I'd like him as my right-hand man."
"I'll send him right over to your new office. Oh, here, let me show it to you now..."
As the two men exited the commanding admiral's office, Kirk felt that a tremendous burden had been lifted from his shoulders. But had McCoy been present, Kirk would have scoffed at the physician's notion that Nogura had him just where he wanted him...
(Compiler's note: Another six months passed before the following occurred).
Kirk luxuriated in his new office, just down the hall from Nogura's in StarFleet's Admiralty Wing. Upon completion of the redesign committee's work, he had been promoted to full admiral and transferred to Nogura's personal staff. He now looked forward with relish to his next assignment. The new class of starships would greatly increase both the range and flexibility of StarFleet's forward line and it would be his responsibility to propose new fleet deployments to put the new ships' capabilities to greatest advantage.
He switched on his viewer and began going through the final design prints again. The new ENTERPRISE was beautiful. The exterior of the saucer had remained substantially the same, albeit with a gentler sweep to its lines, and although the engineering hull looked outwardly untouched, Kirk knew that its interior had been radically altered. In fact, the only major exterior change was in the warp engine nacelles themselves, but this change was both startling and striking. Instead of resembling simple cylinders, the new nacelles boasted sleeker, more elegant lines, with a graceful sweepback to the support pylons. Damn! But she looked like she was moving at warp speed, even on the print! Kirk marveled.
As his monitor moved on to the other prints, part of Kirk's mind wandered away to begin concentrating on his dinner engagement for the evening. He was going to tell Lori of his decision to move into his own private flat. Not that he had any complaints about their relationship. He simply felt that the reasons for which it had begun had run their course, and though he was still greatly attracted to her, he felt it best to be on his own. It was not yet time for him to settle down - what the hell, he was hardly into his forties! - and Lori, despite her beauty and intelligence, was not the right woman. Kirk knew this for a fact, without being at all certain how he knew. (1)
The intercom buzzed. "Commander Decker to see you, Admiral. "
"Thank you, Lieutenant. Have him step in, please."
A trim, tanned, boyishly-handsome officer entered. "Will!" Kirk exclaimed. "Come on in! Have a seat!"
"Thank you, Admiral," the young man rejoined, instantly noting the prints still up on Kirk's viewer. The fire that came into his eyes was impossible to miss. And Kirk didn't. "The commission did a fine job, don't you think, Will?"
Decker swung back to Kirk. "That we did, sir. I'm glad I was a part of it." His brow crinkled in thought. "You did want to see me, didn't you?"
"Yes, I do." Kirk pressed his hands together, not un-like Spock, and looked intently at the man seated across from him. "Now that our commission's job is over, work on the ENTERPRISE will begin immediately. Engineering and Drydock Services will bear responsibility for the actual construction, of course, but I think a general overseer, answerable to both Admiral Nogura and myself, would be in order. I'd like you to recommend someone."
Decker's eyes flashed again and his heart rate nearly doubled. He studied the viewer intently for a moment, then turned to an expectant Kirk. "I'd like a crack at it, sir!"
Kirk's adrenalin surged into his bloodstream. How like his father this young man was! A slight smile creased the corners of his mouth and his eyes shone his gratitude. He could not have hoped for a better answer. "Then she's yours, Mr. Decker! Report to Mr. Scott in Engineering. I'll tell him to expect you."
"Yes, Sir! " said Decker, practically flying out of his chair.
"Commander!" Kirk's voice cracked like a whip.
Decker stopped just inside the door and turned. "Sir?"
"At ease, Commander. Mr. Scott's not going anywhere, and neither is the ENTERPRISE." He walked over to Decker and laid a reassuring hand on his shoulder. "Relax, Will, you'll do just fine!"
Decker's face turned a soft crimson and he grinned sheepishly. Nothing like getting off on the wrong foot! he thought. Then the grin and the flush faded as he drew himself to attention. "Aye, sir." he replied in a firm, controlled voice.
"Your compliments to Mr. Scott?"
Kirk nodded. "That will be all, Commander."
"Yes, sir." Decker turned and exited, leaving Kirk wearing a silly grin of his own.
(Compiler's note: The following events occurred after another six months had passed.)
The travel pod bearing Kirk and Will Decker docked gently at the aperture directly aft of the ENTERPRISE's greatly enlarged bridge. Kirk had not been able to get in a word edgewise as Decker had monopolized the conversation since they had left the Centroplex station, so proud was he at how the vessel's reconstruction was coming. But Kirk had not minded. The younger man's zest and enthusiasm were obvious - and infectious - and Kirk was immensely proud of him.
They entered the dimly-lit staging area, then traversed a short corridor to the portside turbolift. Kirk smiled with grim satisfaction. Two bridge elevators, operating on separate systems, had been one of the design changes on which he had refused to compromise, despite budget limitations. Too many times had he and his bridge crew been trapped there with the single turbolift jammed, and at those times Kirk had felt his vulnerability all too acutely. He was determined that no starship captain in the future would ever know such a feeling.
The turbocar traveled only a short distance, on the same level, then the front door swished open and they stepped out onto the bridge. The place was a mess. Tarps were everywhere, protecting the fine Aldebaran carpet that had been anchored to the floor only the day before. But that was about all that seemed to have been completed. Everywhere technicians were working on the various interior components of the bridge's many substation monitors. Even the helm/navigation console hadn't been installed, its place in the floor marked by a gaping hole filled with duotronic relays and servo-mechanisms of every description. Decker surveyed the chaos with an air of satisfaction. "She's coming along just fine, sir. I think we'll finish ahead of schedule, and within budget."
Kirk nodded approvingly. "You've done a helluva job, Commander. My compliments." He extended his hand.
"Thank you, sir." Decker replied evenly before looking down at Kirk's hand. On the open palm rested two captain's bars framing a tritanium "E".
The "E" of ENTERPRISE.
"Starship command requires a captaincy rank, 'Commander'." Kirk smiled. "Congratulations, Will. You've earned it."
Decker stared, speechless, a moment before accepting the insignia from the admiral. Kirk stepped closer. "Admirals don't return to the line, Will. Damnation, I envy you! The finest ship in the fleet and the proudest tradition you could ask for! I wish to hell I could take her out when she's finished! She'll really be something. But that's your job now - Captain. Take good care of her."
The newly-promoted captain clasped the insignia in a strong fist. "I'll do that, sir." he said proudly.
"You'll have an all-new crew, of course, trained specifically for this design. With one major exception."
"I know, sir. Commander Scott." Decker chuckled. "I've never seen a man so ecstatic over a starship in pieces before!"
Kirk laughed openly. No one in the Federation was more enthusiastic about the ENTERPRISE redesign than Montgomery Scott. "Just remember that the ENTERPRISE is Scotty's ship, Will, and that you're just the driver. Do that, and you'll get along just fine!" He sobered. "Seriously, Will, outside of your Exec, your most important officer is your Chief Engineer. Scotty's even more than that. He's..."
"Indispensable, sir?" Decker offered.
"Exactly. Treat him well, too." Decker nodded his assent. "Then there's nothing more to be said, except-" Kirk offered his hand once more. "-good luck, Will."
Two well-muscled hands joined and remained clasped a long time. Then Kirk turned, entered the lift, and was gone. Only after the doors had closed behind the departing admiral did Decker find his voice. "Thanks, Jim." he whispered, and gazed again at the insignia he now carried.
Kirk held the pod a few meters to the portside of the drydock, not wishing to leave the ENTERPRISE just yet. He'd given her to Decker - with Nogura's approval - and now that part of his life was over. Finished. Done. How would that old poet have put it? Flag officers don't go down to the sea in ships again. He peered at the dock. The great vessel was hardly recognizable. They'd finished the outer surfaces of the primary and engineering hulls - installation of the improved deflector grid had gone smoothly - but neither the new engine mounts nor the warp-drive nacelles were in place yet. They floated outside the drydock, patiently waiting their turn. Spacesuited figures equipped with thruster packs attempted to attach the outer fairing for the photon torpedo tubes as Kirk looked on, and occasional gestures told him that they were experiencing some difficulty. So was he. Part of him still wanted ENTERPRISE, in a similar fashion to the way another part of him still wanted Lori. But his relationship with Admiral Ciana had ended six months earlier and though they still saw each other, it was not the same. ENTERPRISE was Decker's ship now; somehow, though, that had not hurt as much as he thought it might. He gazed stolidly at her, his deep pride majestically expressing itself in his sudden, stern bearing.
And Admiral James T. Kirk saluted his former vessel.
Salutes were no longer required in StarFleet but an old human like Kirk felt that his ship was more than a ship - ENTERPRISE was an old, dear comrade who deserved no less. It was a fitting farewell.
He headed back to the Centroplex station of the dockyards, fully confident that he could now give himself fully to his duties in fleet deployment without any fears that he might wish to go back into space again.
But for Kirk, though he dearly loved the smell of freshly-cut grass, the headiness of clean, crisp air, and the intoxication of a romantic tropical lagoon, a small, ever-shrinking part of him knew that his real home was on the bridge of a starship, deep in space, facing incredible, unconquerable odds. And beating those odds, then coming back for more. The spirit, the love, of high adventure was still strong within Kirk, and though that flame had been reduced to a smoldering ember, and thence to a tiny spark, miraculously that spark had not died. It was as if his soul, completely unsuspected by his conscious mind, had encircled that spark and was now protecting and defending it, holding it fast in limbo, watching, waiting for the day when it might once more burst into full, furious life...
Eighteen months after Will Decker became captain of the ENTERPRISE, a mysterious powerfield of immense size and strength appeared on Klingon sensors, and the battle section headed by the new heavy cruiser AMAR was immediately dispatched to investigate... (2)
Based on telemetry received from station Epsilon 9 before it was "patterned" by Vejur, it seems that Admiral Nogura was correct in his belief in a new, more powerful class of Klingon battle cruiser (note in video transmission the increased number and heavier calibre of sonic-disrupters, increased shielding capacity, and rearward-firing torpedo tubes) but signal has also given indication of a new species of Klingon being. These have spinal column rising along the back and top of the head, ending at the bridge of the nose. Arrangement of facial hair is different - it is lighter and wispier, growing along the sides of the head, covering the earlobes, leaving the spinal column untouched (except possibly at the back of the head). Also, this species is characterized by enlarged skeletal and muscular systems; specimens so far observed seem to exhibit greater physical responses and faster reflexes than those encountered in earlier Klingon types; mental capacity undetermined (and undeterminable at present).
Analysis : New species possible
result of rumored Klingon genetic experiments to produce bolder, more savage
warrior sub-species; however, present data limited.
Prognosis : Unknown.
Recommendation : Further study is indicated.
Commodore Argus Mikaeleos,
1Dr. McCoy comments: "As always, the ENTERPRISE was Jim's 'woman,' and in a very real sense. But whether this symbiosis will prevent him from joining permanently with a woman upon his eventual retirement from active duty remains to be seen. He may at that time have to undergo extensive psychological reconditioning to enable him to function normally; obviously, my report to Admiral Nogura, mentioned in these pages, still stands. At the present time, with Jim back on active duty aboard the ENTERPRISE, it is impossible to tell."
2The events of which, and their aftermath, were chronicled in “The Vejur Incident”, StarDate 7412.6.
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|Last modified: 10.04.12|