d. William Roberts
Nearly two meters tall, and well built, he used the weights in the training room just enough to keep, what nature had given him, toned. His genealogy was nearly perfect. There was nothing but good Irish blood all the way back to the dark days of the twentieth century. Except Ma. Da had fallen for the Scottish lass, and Shaun had inherited much of her looks, most noticeably, the black hair and steel blue eyes.
He felt good. He was an officer on board one of Starfleets premier starships, and almost a graduate of the command section qualification course. His appetite reflected his feelings.
"There he is," said a voice from across the room.
Kelsey recognized the voice, despite the noise of the crowded room. Standing in the door was Lieutenant Kevin Riley, a Human, just a tad older than himself, and the officer assigned to him as his sponsor. It was Rileys responsibility to ensure that Kelsey got on board quickly and comfortably.
"I heard that youre finished," said Riley as he strolled to the table.
Swallowing a mouthful of food, Kelsey responded. "Hi, Kevin. Yep, its all over but the shouting." Pointing at the chair across from him, he invited the fellow Irishman to join him. There was a peculiar smile on his sponsors face, and it intrigued him.
"Yep, Im Command section qualified." Kelsey shoved in more food.
"Does that mean youve pulled your watch?" The sparkle in Rileys eye belied that he already knew the answer.
Kelsey inwardly groaned, and stopped chewing. "No." Not wanting to make eye contact, he began picking at the food, appetite gone. "Im in no hurry."
Riley was already qualified for the command section. Hed also trained under Mister Spock, and knew what the training schedule was about to do to Kelsey. "Why, Shaun? Without it, youre only command section trained. Most importantly, you cant be added to the duty roster."
Kelsey chuckled, then returned his attention to Riley. "Its the final exam, Kevin. Ive always dreaded them."
Chuckling, Riley tried to bolster Kelseys ebbing confidence. "Its not that bad, believe me. Youll do just fine," Riley continued. "How did you do on the Kobayashi Maru?"
The question surprised Kelsey. Whats that got to do with this? he thought. "Why?" he asked.
"Oh, nothing," replied Riley, "its a common question asked of greenhorns. I was just curious."
Disturbed, but not knowing why, Kelsey responded, "I passed." There was a dark cloud forming in his emotions.
"You passed," Riley flourished his hands a bit, "i.e., your ship wasnt destroyed? Or, you passed, i.e. your psyche wasnt destroyed?"
Kelsey remembered that dark day nearly a year and half ago, just before leaving the Academy. "The ship was destroyed." He caught and held Rileys gaze. "Ireland teaches one to accept failure from situations you cant control. You know that," he chided.
Riley nodded his head. "You know I do." Then he changed the subject. "What was Spocks rating of you?"
From one difficult subject, straight into another. Whats Kevin up to now? Kelsey thought as he answered the question. "He said, and I quote, You are an innovative, but unorthodox officer, Mister Kelsey. You will perform adequately in the command section." Kelsey shook his head as he finished.
"Actually, Shaun," Riley responded, smiling ruefully, "thats a compliment coming from Mister Spock. If he didnt think you qualified, youd have been reassigned to security, or some other nether specialty like that."
That was true, and Kelsey allowed himself a slight smile. "I guess, but Im still in no hurry to find out if his assessment is correct." He jabbed a large piece of turkey with his fork, and shoved it into his mouth.
The intercom in the dining facility came to life. "Lieutenant Kelsey. Report to the bridge."
Kelsey froze in mid-chew, and looked at Riley with an Aw, shit look.
Riley chuckled, and returned the look with a slight tip of his head and a shrug. "Good luck, Shaun. Show em what an Irishman can do."
Kelsey stood up. "Thanks. Catch you later." The bridge suddenly seemed a long way off.
* * *
"Lieutenant Kelsey reporting as ordered, sir." Kelsey stood at attention just outside the turbo lifts doors.
Captain James T. Kirk, lord and master of the Enterprise, handed a status report to the yeoman waiting nearby. "Get that to Mister Scott." He turned the command chair around and focused on Kelsey, but spoke to his first officer. "Mister Spock. My relief has arrived. Would you join me for dinner?"
Kelsey was experiencing the same peculiar feeling he always had when dealing with the captain and his first officer. The deck began to tilt, and the air of the bridge grew dark. Kirk was the single reason for Kelsey joining Starfleet in the first place, and had become Kelseys hero during his teenage years. Hed followed the senior officers adventures on the evening news, and felt he could do no wrong.
Mister Spock likewise impressed Kelsey, though spending the last year studying under the Vulcan first officer had acclimated him to contact with him. The sound of Spocks calm, deep voice helped to steady his nerves. "That would be fine, Captain."
"Lieutenant Kelsey, you have the conn."
"Aye, sir." Kelsey remained frozen in place.
Hadley, the night watch science officer, took over the ships eyes and ears. Kirk had to step around Kelsey to reach the turbo lift. Tapping him on the shoulder, Kirk pointed at the empty command chair. "Your first step should be to sit." Kirk paused, then chuckled. "Over there."
"Aye, sir." Kelsey felt awkward, and apprehensive at the same time. He walked slowly toward his place of duty.
Kirk shook his head as he entered the lift. Mister Spock was already there, standing at strict attention, and seeming to see nothing around him.
As a parting gesture, the captain gave the night watch their final instructions. "Ill be in my quarters. Have a nice night." Then the hiss of the turbo lifts door cut off all but the first part of their destination. "Engi...."
Kelsey took a long time to take his place at the conn. This had been what hed trained for, and now that it was staring him in the face, it just didnt seem proper... like a prince sitting on the throne while his father, the king, still lived.
Once seated, he looked around the bridge. To his surprise and embarrassment, he found every eye watching him. Chagrined, he felt very small. It was Lieutenant Sulus smile of amusement that broke him from shocks immobility.
"Science Station. Whats our present status?" All the errant gazes returned to looking at status boards. The night watch prepared to respond to his questions.
Kelsey took inventory of his bridge personnel. Extraordinarily, Sulu was sitting this watch. The senior navigator of the Enterprise normally was assigned to the first watch under Kirk. Smiling despite the apprehension he felt in his gut, he stared a moment at Sulu, acquiescing to this fortunate circumstance.
Next to Sulu, Lieutenant DePaul manned the helm. All I need now, Kelsey thought, is Lieutenant Uhura at the comm station, and Id be commanding the first watch.
Lieutenant Hadley interrupted Kelseys thoughts with his status report. "Sir, we are in a standard orbit around Shertags world. The U.S.S. Brahe is in a synchronistic orbit above the site of the new colony."
Kelsey pictured the Brahe in his minds eye, and saw the large saucer-shaped primary hull that was common to all Starfleet ships. A transport/tug, it had a large, bulky cylinder where the secondary hull of a cruiser class ship would have been. In it were the quarters the colonists had lived in during the long trip. This class of starships was very versatile, since any number and types of these cylinders could be attached and detached, depending on the ships mission.
Shivering at just the thought of being assigned to a mule, as they were called by those not assigned to one, he listened as Hadley continued his report. "Long range sensors indicate nothing unusual from the direction of the Barrier Alliance neutral zone. Everythings quiet."
"Good, good." The colony on Shertag was uncomfortably close to territory contested by the Orions. Hed had family, a couple of generations past, killed by Orion raiders, and held a deep-seated hatred for them. "Keep a sharp eye out that way, anyway, Mister Hadley. You never know." This was beginning to be fun.
A new voice from further to his right, one filled with the purring sound of her species, drew his attention to the comm station. "Nothing but standard WeatherScan reports have been received from Starbase Five. There is no unusual storm activity reported in our area." Ensign Mress, a Caitian, paused for a second as she changed subjects. "A scan of normal Orion frequencies by the computer has turned up no evidence of unexplained activity."
The corners of Kelseys mouth drew down into a mock frown, and he cocked his head while nodding. "In other words, Alls quiet on the Western Front." Good, he thought, the watch is going to be quiet and uneventful. Ill get my final credit toward the command course and be on my way. A smile crept onto his face as he relaxed into the back of the command chair.
Suddenly, appearing from behind an asteroid, an Orion raider ship struck quickly, ripping open the unshielded transport/tug as efficiently as the grtwu would rip open a gwquii crawler of the plains of Xantharus IV. Leaving the tugs dying carcass to sputter and spark in its wake, the raider dove away at full impulse.
Kelsey was stunned. The remains of the Brahe slowly broke up in front of him. The raider disappeared off the right side of the screen in a maneuver that would eventually bring it onto the Enterprises flanks. Kelsey realized the ships danger. "Shields! Get the shields up!" Then, acknowledging that he was in way over his head, he activated the ships intercom. "Captain Kirk. Report to the bridge!"
While waiting for an answer, Kelsey saw the shields raise and heard the ships engines pick up the load. The view screen still held the scattered remains of the tug/transport. "Sulu, get that raider back onto the screen."
"Aye, sir." Sulu reoriented the screen and found the Orion vessel. It had completed its maneuver, bringing all its weapons to bear on the Enterprise.
Hadley peered into the sensor hood, and looked back at Kelsey. "Sir, he has a weapons lock." Just as he said this, the forward area of the raider glowed brilliant red. A shimmering orb of energy detached itself from the ships angular forward hull, growing in size as it crossed the shrinking space between the two ships.
The intercom came alive. "Kirk to bridge. Im in transit with Mister Spock. Whats your status?"
Kelsey was just about to answer when the orb disappeared from the screen followed immediately by the sound of an immense explosion. The entire ship tilted to one side, shuddering as its shields absorbed the punishing energy of the photon torpedo. The shields began to radiate a dull red. The intercom went dead, but Kelsey had little time to notice it.
Ensign Mress hissed a report. "Sir, damage control reports all power-r-r has been lost to circuits Delta two, and Upsilon ten."
Another series of smaller explosions shook the ships frame as the raiders disruptors began working on the Enterprises defenses.
"Shields still holding, but theyre down fifty percent." Hadley turned impatiently from his computer readouts to see what Kelsey was doing. "What now, sir?
Kelseys mind had locked onto the damage report. Something about one of those damaged circuits was significant. The Upsilon circuit powered the turbo lifts. Kirk and Spock were trapped in transit, unable to do anything until power was restored. Looking at the diving raider, Kelsey realized that his ship was a sitting duck, and overcame his paralysis.
"Sulu, bring the ship to red alert. DePaul, evasive course, full impulse."
The Enterprise began to move. The raider fired. For a split second, Kelsey wasnt sure it would be fast enough. Missing by only a scant hundred meters, the photon torpedo detonated, savagely shaking the starship.
Kelsey, remembering that his ship had teeth as well, thought to use the photon torpedoes. After all, this weapon had the biggest punch, and the longest reach. But there was a problem, the raider was now directly in line with the colony. If the torpedo missed, it would surely kill everyone in the colony.
"The Orion has broken off pursuit," Hadley broke into Kelseys thoughts.
Confused, Kelsey queried further, "Wheres he going?"
"Hes changed course to enter an orbit around the colony," Hadley responded.
Kelsey blanched at the significance of this. "In a bombardment posture?"
"Aye, sir. His weapons have changed their locks. Theyre aimed at the colony."
They think were running, Kelsey thought. Balling his hands into fists, Kelsey struck the arms of the chair. "Sulu, turn us around. Get us between the colony and the Orion." The situation had taken him, and he no longer worried about where Kirk was. "Lock all weapons. Fire as we pass him."
"Aye, sir." Sulus hands flew across his board. Soon there were only green lights across its surface. "Phasers and torpedoes have a lock." Sulus gaze remained glued to the screen, and the target.
"Fire as your weapons bear, Sulu." Kelseys attention returned to the screen as well.
DePaul nudged Sulu with an elbow. In a voice just above a whisper, he made an observation. "What do you think about this?"
"Decisive, and tactically correct. He might just pull it off," Sulu responded, fine tuning the phaser lock.
At full impulse, the Enterprise eliminated the distance between it and the Orion quickly. Four streams of scarlet energy lanced out from the starships phaser batteries, striking the raiders shields. They began to glow. Collapse was imminent. Three sections of the Orions shields buckled, and he broke from orbit, heading toward deep space.
Sensing a kill, Kelsey ignored the tiny voice in his head that said to let the Orion escape. "DePaul, get on his tail. Sulu, lock photons; he cant go to warp if his shields remain buckled."
Twin "Ayes" sounded out, and the Enterprise jumped hard onto the raiders trail.
"Sir, we have a nominal photon lock." Sulu turned to face Kelsey as he reported.
I should let us get closer, Kelsey thought, at this range the chances of a hit are nominal at best. But if they go to warp, they might outrun us back to the Barrier... The rest went unthought. "Fire photons!"
The lights dimmed on the bridge, and the starships frame shuddered as the weapons launched. Twin orbs of bright blue light streaked away. For a moment, Kelsey believed that his luck would hold. The torpedoes closed the distance.
Just as he thought they would both make direct hits, the aft tube of the Raider lit up, and a corresponding red ball sped back toward them. It intercepted one of the torpedoes, and the raider neatly rolled ninety degrees along its axis dodging the other.
"Missed. Load two more Mister Sulu." Kelsey knew he had the momentum, and wanted to exploit it.
The Orion pulled ahead, suddenly outrunning the Enterprise.
"Torpedo and phaser lock has been lost," Sulu reported.
"Damn!" Hed been so close to victory. "Fire anyway, maybe theyll hit him." They would be wasted, the Raider would simply change course, but he was angry, and needed a way to vent the emotion. The lights dimmed on the bridge, and two more weapons sped away.
The torpedoes disappeared in the flash of detonation. They had found a target. As the flash cleared, Kelsey hoped to see a dying raider. Instead, he saw two streaks of light darting out from behind the same asteroid as before.
"Sorry, sir. The asteroid may be composed of a material which jams our sensors."
Now there are three, Kelseys elation died a painful death. Two Raiders were joined a moment later by the one the Enterprise had been chasing. They formed the standard Orion raider attack formation, an equilateral triangle.
"Now what, sir?" Sulu turned to find Kelsey staring at the screen. If hes going to buckle, the veteran helmsman thought, its going to be now. Shaking his head, and returning his attention to the view screen, Sulu watched the Orions begin their advance.
"Hadley, full power to the shields." The orders came fast and unflinching. "Sulu, lock weapons, full cycle firing pattern. DePaul, put us on a course directly through the center of their formation."
Hes not breaking. Good, thought Sulu. Then he remembered what hed read about Kelsey in Spocks report. Hes unorthodox, and, pausing in his thoughts to finish locking all the weapons on the Orions, hes got guts.
DePaul reported, "Sir, helm answers to the new course. Speed, full impulse. Recommend we rotate one hundred and eighty degrees along the horizontal, that will bring our torpedo tubes to bear on the two ships on top."
"So ordered." Excellent idea, thought Kelsey as he watched the Orion triangle flip over on the screen.
"All phaser batteries report fully powered, safe and ready. Photons have a lock," Sulu reported.
"Shields at full power," Hadley piped in.
"Good. Prepare to engage." Kelsey felt an unnatural calm replace the dismay of having been lured into a trap. He had done everything he could. Now his hope was that the audacity of their attack would save the Enterprise from certain destruction.
The forward tubes of the three Orion raiders glowed, then discharged their deadly contents. The shots were poorly aimed, and would miss. They hadnt expected me to attack, Kelsey thought. Now Im too close and moving too fast for them to get another shot.
"Fire, Mister Sulu." He dealt out the destruction, like a poker player deals cards.
Like a heavy weight fighter, the starship struck out at the three antagonists. Two torpedoes flashed for an instant, crossing the short distance to their targets, scoring direct hits. Too close herself to be using these powerful weapons, the Enterprise rocked under their shock wave.
All three of the starships phaser batteries fired. Four beams of brilliant red energy stabbed out, adding their energies to that of the torpedoes.
It was the single battery on the bottom that scored the first victory. Firing at the raider theyd followed into the trap, they cut through its weakened shields, striking it where the neck connected with the forward command section. Guillotined, the Raider's head fell away with a satisfying explosion of shorting super circuits.
"Good shooting. One down, and two to go," Kelsey said excitedly. If we can just hurt one more, he thought as he watched the raiders slide off the bottom of the screen, the odds will improve.
Kelsey changed the ships course. "Helm, bring us around." Uncomfortable with their upside down attitude, he changed it. "Rotate us back to our original attitude."
Shaking his head at an apparent weakness, DePaul complied, flipping the Enterprise over.
Sheering away at right angles to each other, the Raiders turned and went to warp.
"Hadley. Are they still on the sensors?" Kelsey asked apprehensively.
"No sensor contact, sir." Hadley reported as he ran the sensors through their full capabilities. "Ive indications they went to warp, but Im not detecting them at all."
Kelsey could face the Orions confidently when they were within range, but now that they were in warp, he knew they would begin a hound versus lion tactic: warp in, take a shot and warp out, and the Enterprise was the lion. The trick would be to pin the hounds down. But how? Kelsey thought.
Then he remembered Captain Kirk. "Engineering, when will repairs be finished on the lift?"
Choleandra, a golden skinned female humanoid from the Gamma Centauri worlds, turned from talking excitedly with someone on the intercom. She was upset or excited. "Not long now, sir. Thats assuming the Orions dont continue the attack."
Thats highly doubtful, Kelsey thought, relegating himself to being the one to get the ship out of this mess. "Keep me posted."
A raider dropped out of warp dead ahead, fired its photon torpedo, then returned to the safety of subspace. The energy weapon struck the starships forward shields. They held firm, though the entire frame of the ship inside was wrenched, throwing crewmen from their stations.
Hadley reported, "Sir, movement on both flanks!"
"DePaul, turn to course zero nine five point zero, full impulse. Sulu, ensure all weapons are ready to fire." Kelsey returned his attention to the screen. A star to the left was growing."Sulu! Do you see him?"
"Aye, sir. Lock impossible; hes moving too fast. Aiming visually."
Two torpedoes launched. Every forward phaser battery reached out with its crimson destruction, striking the fast approaching raider at the same time as the torpedoes.
The raiders shields dropped. The phasers blasted through its armored skin, penetrating deep. Eight long, glowing gashes appeared behind the path of the beams. A second spread of torpedoes ended the agony of the Orion in a brilliant anti-matter fireball.
"Two down, and one to go!" Kelseys confidence strengthened. "Now, for the other one."
The last raider attacked. A ball of red energy struck the Enterprises stern.
The whole ship tumbled forward, out of control. Navigational computers corrected the roll, but the starship was left upside down, facing backwards. But her antagonist was not there anymore.
"Damn it, Hadley!"
"Sorry, sir, he came in at high warp, and hit us just before I could warn you!"
"Where he is now?"
"Coming around us now."
The raider maneuvered around the stricken Enterprise, maintaining a lock. The red tracers of torpedoes sped away. They struck the Enterprise, buckling her aft shields. Like a Terran pit bull, the raider locked onto the starship with its tractor beams, his disruptors ripping her apart.
"Evade, DePaul, evade. Get us out of here." Kelsey was desperate. "Sulu, weve got to shoot back. Break their hold somehow."
Shudders in the starships structure told Kelsey that all hell was breaking loose down below. Screams for help jammed the communication board as the raiders disruptors searched for the starships heart.
DePaul turned, sweat rolling down his face. "I cant, sir. We havent the power to break his tractor beam."
The entire bridge changed its tilt again, thrown wildly around by a massive explosion below decks. Then the artificial gravity failed. Everyone on the bridge held onto their consoles, attempting to stay at their stations.
"Engineering has been destroyed," Hadley reported. "Life support is being powered by batteries."
This was quite evident by the dim lighting of the bridge. Somehow, the view screen was still getting power, and it was still oriented forward. Why? Kelsey thought, but didnt explore the question. The Orion raider took up a station in the middle of it, fully visible in all its red glory.
Kelseys thoughts turned briefly to what was going to happen to the colonists, now that they were gone. A ball of energy emerged from the muzzle of the raiders photon torpedo tubes.
"Damn!" Kelsey threw his arm over his face in a useless attempt at protection.
The torpedo struck and there was a massive explosion that deafened them all. The bridge bucked and shifted, and all the lights went out.
The sound of the turbo lifts doors opening and the beam of light it threw into the darkened bridge was the first clue to Kelsey that he hadnt died. Realization of what had just occurred slammed hard through his thoughts. A Kobayashi Maru scenario?
Squinting into the brilliant white light, he saw two figures, with evidence of two more right behind them. He heard a communicator activate and a familiar voice. "Auxiliary control. End program, return gravity and power to the bridge." It was Captain Kirk, and the other figure next to him was Lieutenant Commander Spock. The lights came back on, and Kelsey saw the night shifts normal navigator and helm--Ensigns Arex and Walking Bear--behind the ships master.
The whole thing had been a simulation. Theyd never left orbit. The Brahe hadnt been destroyed. Theyd never pursued an Orion warship, nor, thank goodness, had the Enterprise been destroyed. His thoughts churned, the Kobayashi Maru! Hes hit me with a no-win scenario. He kept the anger he felt from showing on his face. Assuming the position of attention, Kelsey silently waited to be relieved of his position, and probably his commission.
There was a mischievous smile on Kirks face as he turned to his Vulcan first officer. "I think, for the most part, he did quite well. Dont you, Mister Spock?"
Spock responded coldly, lifting his eyebrow. "The Enterprise was..." he paused for a long time focusing on Kelsey, then continued, "destroyed, sir."
"Ah, yes, there is that little detail. But he did take two of them with him. I think Admiral Komacks evaluation of him was correct."
"Agreed." Spock stood just outside the command well as Kirk stepped down to confront the obviously shaken young lieutenant. "Relax, Mister Kelsey, youve passed. You demonstrated the skills of quick, decisive leadership, and the best tactics Ive seen used in this scenario." He paused to let Kelsey recover a little. "Any questions?"
Shaken, but finally realizing that hed made it, his voice quivered as he answered. "But Ive already passed the Kobayashi Maru, sir. Why again?" Hed never heard that Kirk was mean in his treatment of junior officers.
"Yes, I know, Mister Kelsey, but I wasnt there, and the official report sent by the Academy always lacks detail. I wanted to see your reaction for myself before allowing you to take the conn."
Kirk continued. "Granted, you do need more experience. Im sure Mister Spock and his duty roster will get you that." Shifting his attention, Kirk addressed Sulu and DePaul. "Mister Sulu, DePaul, I want your reports in my computer by morning." The two senior bridge officers nodded, then entered the turbo lift, waiting for the captain.
"My congratulations Mister Kelsey. Youll make a fine addition to the command section of my ship." Reaching out, he offered his hand.
Kelsey shook it, still a bit baffled.
"Mister Kelsey, you have the conn, and this time," Kirk paused with a mock look of pain, "dont hurt my ship." The door to the lift shut with a whoosh, leaving Kelsey to stare at its blank face.
It took a full minute before the quiet sounds of station keeping reached his stunned ears. Shaken, he returned to the command chair. Despite the compliments, he was depressed. Hed lost the ship. His actions had gotten everyone on board killed. He was so engrossed in his thoughts that he didnt hear the turbo lift door open again. Nor did he hear the solitary figure approach him from behind.
"I was down in Auxiliary control during your final exam."
Kelsey recognized Rileys voice, and groaned. "I killed everyone."
Riley chuckled. "That you did, boy-o, but you had him sweating down there."
Kelsey sat up, paying closer attention to Riley. "What?"
"Yep. The captain was worried that youd win when you werent supposed to." Riley chuckled again. "Yep, you really had them going."
Kelsey turned to face his sponsor, trying to grasp what he was saying. "Youre kidding. Playing a joke on me, right?"
"Naw." He placed his hand over his heart. "Scouts honor. The scenario normally calls for only one Orion ship. Captain Kirk had to create two more to take care of you." Riley was suddenly serious.
Really, Kelsey thought, so Kirk wasnt as perfect as everyone thought he was back at the Academy. Then he made another realization. He took me out in short order once he put his mind to it. I guess that means hes just good at what he does. Kelsey smiled, then asked Riley a difficult question. "Is this the same scenario he used on you?" The look on Rileys face was answer enough. "Never mind. Thanks, Kev."
"No problem, Shaun. Just part of being your sponsor. Remember it when its your turn." Holding out his hand, he concluded. "Congratulations. Its always nice to have another Irishman on the duty roster."
"Thanks, Kevin. Thanks a lot." They shook hands.
"See ya later in the lounge. Well go over everything that happened down in Aux." Riley entered the lift, and the doors closed.
Relaxed, Kelsey turned to face the view screen, crossed his legs, and began his shift as the watch commander again. "Mister Hadley. Your report, please."
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