"Sir, unidentified cruiser approaching."
"Within visual range?"
"On screen." Starfleet regulation 14/A-5: When being approached by an unidentified ship of cruiser class....we're pretty close to the Neutral Zone....Romulans? "Spock, report."
"Ship is of a configuration unlisted, closest in design to the K't'inga Klingon cruisers, with substantial differences in weaponry and shielding."
We're nowhere near the Klingon border, but since V'ger they've been seen almost everywhere, just fleeting glimpses, like 'I dare you, I dare you'.... "Uhura?"
"Not answering, sir. Transmission is going through, though."
Not answering, do they understand Federation English or are they just ignoring us, or what? Starfleet regulation 22/5-C: When any vessel approaches without acknowledging communications, shields are to be reinforced, yellow alert is to be declared, and... "Mister Sulu, yellow alert." ...and ship's weaponry is to be armed... "Mister Chekov, ready phasers, prime photon torpedoes."
"Aye, aye, sir."
She's going steady, no trouble from the engines yet, thank God...just wish I knew what the hell was going on here...wouldn't really be surprised if it was a trick from Starfleet H.Q. itself...just a little something to keep you on your toes, Jimmy...damn you, Finnegan, not now!
"Captain, buoy apparently being launched from the ship. It appears to be a final communications package."
"Uhura?" ...please let them understand us, please let us understand them, I don't want another stupid Gorn incident, no more misunderstandings, please...I may be getting too old for this...Starfleet regulation 55/2-H: When retrieving communications buoys from any vessel, security will check for... "Uhura, have the transporter room beam the buoy aboard; have Security check it for booby traps." ...booby traps.
"None, sir. It's a straightforward communications buoy."
...then why the hell don't they answer our hails...someone launched that buoy...is it a... "Mister Spock, check for life form readings." ...dead ship?
"Minimal life readings, sir. Faint and getting fainter."
Starfleet regulation 36/6-H: When discovering minimal life readings and attempting to transport, full precautions for communicable disease... "Bones, complete quarantine team to the transporter room, on the double. Also, emergency revival equipment." ...containment will be observed...who/what could it be?... will we be too late? "Mister Scott, activate transporter. Beam that lifeform aboard." ...what is it, what?
"Captain, power fluctuations aboard the alien vessel indicates that an explosion is imminent; we are in grave danger."
"Time, Spock?" ...can we get him/her/it in time?...I've got to know...what is it...to go...to seek out...
"Sir, explosion will occur within five minute's time."
"Scotty, what's going on with that transporter?" ...Bones is right; damn thing never works right...
"Cap'n, the radiation from that ship is messing up the energizer. I've got to wait for the levels to drop!"
"Captain, the buoy has been transferred to Security Holding Pen Two. The code team is beginning translation."
Starfleet regulation 107/6-M: When attempting to transport personnel in an irradiated area, the minimum safe distance... "Spock, how far can we get in the amount of time remaining with the impulse drive?" ...less than five minutes...got to rescue...could be a Klingon--what a find--could be a whole new species...
"Not far enough."
...Damn it, Spock, don't get fussy on me now, less than five minutes, five minutes, you could get married in five minutes...married to the ship...can't let anything happen... "Scotty, where's that drop you promised me?"
"One coming in thirty seconds, sir!"
"Spock, count down and wait for my signal." ...Let's get this guy and go!
"Energizing, sir...Got 'im!"
"Captain, chain reaction building to critical ."
...hope whatever it is it's snagged good and tight... "Sulu, get us the hell out of here! Bones?"
"Captain, we've got us a mighty sick...something here, but it's alive!"
"Well done, Bones!" ...we did it again, by God, beat the odds one more time...we'll always do it, can't lose...
The mainviewer erupted into a blinding, eye-squinting flare of light as the mystery ship exploded into a billion particles. The Enterprise, with one new passenger, sped on to Starbase Twelve.
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