Summary: One relationship deepens while another comes to an end, and enemies become allies while the galaxy

teeters toward annihilation. As tensions skyrocket, Veronica O. Kirk of the Enterprise and L'ressa of the Reprisal are the last chance to uncover a conspiracy to plunge the Federation and the Klingon Empire into all-out war! This story takes place approximately six months after The Crossworlds Affair. AO3 rating: M+ (Mature) A panicked voice came over the comm link. “Five to beam directly to sickbay! Doctor McCoy, prep a burn unit!” A diplomatic contact had gone wrong. Shooting broke out. There were two readouts already reading injured, with one TERMINATED splashed across the screen. On the Enterprise‟s bridge, Captain Veronica O. Kirk was focused on one particular medical readout on the screen. Over the last few months, she‟d gotten very close to this woman. Fighting the urge to chew her thumbnail, she couldn‟t afford to be seen as focusing on her health above the other crew members on the surface. On the surface, Veronica looked like the picture of calm. She was putting forth the image of the utterly detached Captain, even though beneath that surface she fretted deeply for her friend. LT. MARTINEZ: SEVERE - HR 133 BP 118/70 BT 37° ENS. TONELLI: ACTIVE - HR 138 BP 138/90 BT 37° CPO MORRIS: ACTIVE - HR 132 BP 137/88 BT 36° CMN SEABORN: LIGHT - HR 136 BP 128/70 BT 38° FDC LEWIS: TERMINATED STATUS: TRANSPORTER SCANNING FOR BEAMOUT Martinez‟ blood pressure had dropped twenty points in the last minute. She couldn‟t wait any longer. Martinez‟ indicator flickered. “Transporter room, do you have the away team!?” In sickbay, McCoy felt immediately assaulted by the stench of burnt flesh coming from Lieutenant Martinez and leapt into action as he saw the spreading bloodstain on her uniform and the way her left arm was dangling below the elbow. Her face was tight, pulled back in a grimace - she was obviously in incredible pain. The fingers of her unwounded arm were a pale, clammy bluish-white; those of her wounded arm were already turning purple. This was going to be dicey. “Get her on a bed, stat! And fix that aneurysm before she starts bleeding out!” He hurriedly rubbed his hands with antibacterial - there wasn‟t time to wash if he wanted to save her arm.

Doctors and nurses worked feverishly to stabilize Mercedes. Wounds were closed, units of whole blood were being fed into her arm in an effort to keep her forearm and hand alive. Burnt tissue was being cut away to save what was left; cell-grown transplant tissue and a bionic kidney were being prepared. On the bridge, Veronica resisted the urge to page Sickbay and ask how Mercedes was. Doing so would only distract attention that McCoy didn‟t have to spare if he was to save the severely wounded lieutenant‟s life. More than an hour later, the pace of work around Mercedes slowed. Doctors started making light jokes as they stitched the arm back together with the protoplaser, while putting equipment away. The patient was breathing slowly and steadily on the bed, her vitals normal at rest. “Status, sickbay.” “She‟ll live, Ronnie. We got her in time.” Veronica heard the sound of rushing water behind McCoy‟s words, realized he was washing his hands. “So will her arm. Saved a critical energy blast patient and she didn‟t lose any major body parts - I do good work.” Anything less than a Constitution-class starship‟s sickbay would have meant the loss of her arm - the wound had been that serious, and there had already been significant necrosis below the blast point. Martinez would have a lot of physical therapy to come, but that would be easier than learning to command a prosthetic limb. “Thanks, Bones.” “Don‟t thank me yet. Wait until we see if her body‟s going to hold those implants.” Veronica nodded. Even when grown from a person's own stem cells, transplanted tissue could be unpredictable. The implanted ovaries and uterus nestled in her body had waited almost two weeks before her body had decided to accept them as her own. For an organ like a kidney or liver, a bionic replacement worked actually better than a stem-cell replacement - it was just in organs like the heart and the gonads that biological replacement was critical. “Keep me posted.” Veronica now gave in to the urge to nibble her thumbnail. Star Trek: The Veronica Kirk Chronicles Book 2: The Russian Gambit Sarah V. Hughes

At 0200 ship‟s time, Captain Kirk looked over the burnt corpse in the ship‟s morgue. Some instinct had told her to stay on the ship for this contact meeting; if she hadn‟t, she might be the one whose body was lying in that drawer now. She‟d actually been staying on the ship a lot more lately during away missions; while she‟d rebuilt her basic hand to hand proficiency well beyond Starfleet standards and was still a crack shot with a phaser, she had a harder time fighting and feared that she would be a liability rather than an asset on an away team. Fortunately, this time she just had to write the after-action report, not a letter to a grieving widow - the man had been a Federation Diplomatic Corps officer, his superior in the FDC could write the letter. “Tell me, John. Your guys have analyzed every second of the footage. What happened?” Lieutenant John Kane, the acting security chief, replied, “I don‟t know. One moment everything was peaceful, the next, they went berserk! Usually, Ma‟am, we get some kind of warning, but they just pulled out weapons and started shooting.” Veronica nodded slowly. “He probably didn‟t have time to feel pain before he died.” “I can certainly hope so, Captain.” Kane rolled the drawer closed. Veronica turned to Ensign Chekov and Lieutenant Commander Uhura, and walked out of the morgue. “I‟m guessing that with this, the Federation‟s chances of contracting with them for basing rights are pretty slim.” Chekov nodded. “Sadly so, Keptin.” Veronica had already started to think of Chekov as something of a little brother, something of a student. Veronica sighed. “And so the Klingons gain a foothold in this quadrant, after all the work we did with the Venari...” Venar IV was still in the process of joining the Federation, but things looked good for the planet. “On the plus side, the Venari have requested the Enterprise remain on-station in this quadrant, so we‟ll be basing out of Starbase 12 for the time being.” Veronica very carefully restrained herself from cheering - she hadn‟t seen Alicia in a couple months. “Speaking of Starbase 12, Captain, a communique from Captain Parnell came for you; it‟s on the terminal in your day cabin.” Uhura had not quite fully transitioned into her duties as Signals Intelligence/Defensive EW Officer yet, and was still performing some of her old functions as Communications Officer. “Lieutenant Martinez is starting physical therapy on her arm tomorrow. Doctor McCoy expects she‟ll be cleared for starship duty again, but it‟ll be a while.” Veronica nodded. Having been

through the process of space duty recertification after her surgery, she sympathized with the grueling battery of tests that Martinez was going to go through in the next few months. In the six months since returning to duty - Veronica had almost made it a full year now since completing her transition to living openly and happily female! - she had seen a lot of success and only a handful of missions going south. She had heard other officers enviously refer to her ship as the Salamander - always in the hottest spots. Yet the Enterprise also had the best casualty record in the Fleet, and was known as a safe ship to be assigned to, despite the amount of action she saw. “Sickbay to Kirk.” McCoy‟s voice was tense. “Kirk here, what‟s the news, Bones?” “Ronnie, we ran samples of the burnt tissue we cut out of Martinez, and the news is bad. Those burns weren‟t phasers - they were Klingon disruptors.” Veronica paused. If the Klingons had armed or precipitated an attack by the Kassina diplomatic party on the Federation, it could lead to war. “Thank you, Bones. This... just made things a lot more interesting.” “I know. Tensions are already high as it is.” “Conveniently high, Doctor. We get ambushed on a planet with a delicate political situation in nominal Federation space, by locals wielding weapons that we are supposed to believe were supplied by our enemies. I think that there are things here that are not as they seem. Kirk out.” Veronica left the bridge and headed to sickbay. She stopped by McCoy‟s office to trade a few words - Bones was still her friend even if he was annoying - and then she went over to Mercedes Martinez‟ room. “Glad you‟re recovering, you gave us a serious scare up on the bridge,” Veronica put her hand around her friend‟s undamaged right hand and squeezed it gently, “How‟s it going, „Cedes?” “Can‟t feel my left arm at all. McCoy says it‟s a nerve blocker to keep me from feeling the crosstalk as the graft tissue connects to the original stuff, but it feels weird to have a fifteen-kilo weight on my left shoulder that doesn‟t feel like part of me.” “You get better and get back into the security office, „Cedes.”

“Yes, Captain.”

That night, Commander Spock stopped at her quarters. The relationship between the two was cordial and professional, but not what Spock‟s older counterpart had seemed to believe it should be. They finished their work quickly and efficiently, powering through a report on the engagement. “Commander.” Veronica felt distinctly uncomfortable. “Captain.” Spock paused. “I must confess I see little point in continuing this exercise.” He looked stiff and uncomfortable with the confession. “Really? Me neither. We‟ve been doing this for „you‟ from the future. I haven‟t seen Old Spock in more than a year. Your older counterpart‟s last message to me indicated that he thought that my transition is disrupting the timeline. Why does he care anyway!? What he did really disrupted the timeline! Our friendship will define us both? We don‟t have a friendship. You‟re a capable First Officer, and we work well together in that capacity, but you don‟t like me all that much, and honestly, nor I you.” “I concur, Captain. On a personal note, the tactics that my older counterpart took to ensure a beneficial outcome for Earth have been severely detrimental to my career. In many circles, my judgment is viewed as permanently compromised because of my actions that day. There are many who believe that the demerits and reprimands I received should have been court-martial charges. I doubt that I would even have a career anymore without you and Admiral Pike, and for that I express my gratitude... and my apology. Knowing your personal history more closely, Captain, I am... deeply sorry... for what I did to you on the bridge.” “Spock, Admiral Pike and I have already said all we are going to say about the incident. As far as we‟re both concerned, you‟ve earned your place as the Enterprise‟s executive officer.” “Thank you, Captain. While I respect you, and I am grateful for what you did for me... it is clear that whatever we had in the other universe, we do not have in this one. We are different people, and I have severely wronged you.” The door hissed closed behind Spock. Veronica imagined the wrinkly old Vulcan and whispered, “Damn you for ruining a good officer. Damn ME for helping you.” And now it was only up to Veronica, she felt, to clear Commander Spock‟s good name. He‟d gotten himself on the very bottom of the Commander list for attacking her; he‟d barely avoided an outright demotion.

but she felt obligated to him. supervising one of the labs. NCC-1017. subconsciously making sure they were there. “ well as an older Jovia-class heavy cruiser. While Chief Engineer technically outranked Chief of Signals Intelligence in the priority chart. Excalibur was so new that the pearlescent finish of the outer hull armor hadn‟t been eroded to matte yet by the constant dust of space. In many ways. NCC-1705. We request that you enter the central dock cavity. the Enterprise had progressively blown out every single warp coil in the port nacelle after colliding with the Mayflower‟s wrecked saucer. was the Constellation. the Jovia was a direct predecessor to the Constitution. Uhura was Number Two in the order of succession. Damn this life. The ship tied up. while Enterprise was beginning to look a little less pearlescent and a little more grey. Commander Spock was probably down somewhere in the hull. Arriving at Starbase 12. occasionally she touched them.Signals Intelligence was a tactical billet. this is station control. As far as the bridge was concerned. She sure as hell didn‟t need him. Scott spent most of his time in the engine room.” The starship gracefully arced toward the conical “mushroom” head of the space station. It was literally less expensive to cut the burnt out nacelles off the Enterprise and replace them with nacelles from the delayed Lexington (several of Lady Lex‟s . “Enterprise. Uhura‟s strong detective work in nailing Coleman had earned her a promotion to Lieutenant Commander and made her effectively third in command of the ship. Soon she‟d be changing uniforms entirely . the third ship to be commissioned after Enterprise and Constitution -. thus wearing Command gold rather than Services red.the Excalibur.Sometimes in his presence she still flashed back to having his hands around her neck. there was another Constitution-class ship moored there -. which was to be expected. I want you to be in control for this docking. He needed her. which didn‟t improve the nervousness she felt being around him at all. with a similar hull structure but previous-generation technology and considerably smaller. that they were real. Uhura stood from the center seat. “Captain on the bridge. Enterprise‟s nacelles looked a bit newer than the rest of the ship. before Veronica waved her back to the position. and blew out the starboard trying to escape the black hole.” An additional ring of silver encircled the cuff of each of Uhura‟s red sleeves. During the battle with Nero.” There was another officer at the sciences console. Veronica noted as her nacelles came into view.

” “Very good. her nacelles had read the Lexington‟s hull number..saucer structural beams had been cut too thinly.” “Thank you. then brought up the proper flight path on the viewscreen. Commander. Sulu guided the Enterprise to a halt. Ensign Chekov repeated Starbase 12‟s request back to them. Uhura smiled.” Veronica and Uhura made sure that their bodies were hiding their hands from most of the bridge. Lieutenant. 1702. They were both looking forward to this reunion with Alicia Parnell. and bumped fists. Uhura had become close friends with Alicia during her previous detachment aboard the Enterprise a few months ago. Until just before Veronica had reassumed command of the Enterprise. Veronica did too. Using the laser guidance system to bring the docking ports into perfect alignment with the station‟s ports. instead of her own 1701. the commander of the JAG detachment at Starbase 12. and Veronica had fallen in love with her. “All stop. despite being her client. Lieutenant Sulu brought the Enterprise in to a perfect docking with the station. forcing them to scrap half the saucer and start over). the bridge is yours. Under Uhura‟s commands. the two had spent the night together and started a relationship. near a set of ten meter long heavy equipment crates that Captain Kirk knew contained the Enterprise’s new phaser mounts. Captain. . Commander.. After the trial.

some of her subordinates had suggested that she was weak for pulling back. The blade . the most recent after her withdrawal against Veronica Kirk. gave her a great sense of satisfaction. however.” Captain L'ressa growled. ever give up on them. while you molder in a grave. and she preferred it greatly for that reason. Stabbing. as a warning to the rest of the crew not to trifle with their Lady. and she promptly skewered him with her last-ditch weapon. of Kahless the Unforgettable. For a woman in the command echelons of the Imperial Klingon Navy.called a bastard sword by humans . nothing more. The corpse had decorated the bridge until it started to stink.. Her disruptor rifle spoke back to the attacking natives. symbols like that were important. a view she considered born of and nurtured by simple common sense. soldiers of Qo‟nos!” she growled.Chapter 2 “What in the. Many other Klingons did not seem to appreciate L'ressa‟s views on skill-at-arms. Some Klingons believed that a corpse was valueless after the spirit had fled . If one dies young in honorable battle. Her Marines were surrounding her. In the last standard year. pushing her back for the shuttle. The life of Kahless was pretty poetry to her.. The humans had named the sword of which this one was a replica. A legend she had no time for. she thought. Even though she felt her sense of . Even though it was utterly unnecessary to go down fighting against one of the Federation‟s brand-new Constitution-class cruisers. Excalibur. Two had already fallen. the more she could apply to its use. straight-bladed sword she had acquired during a recent vacation to an independent world on the Federation side of the border. a simple. The less skill she needed to simply wield the sword in the first place. It meant that she would never.the humans‟ equivalent.was much easier to wield to devastating effect than a Klingon bat‟leth. and were pulled back behind the firing line by their comrades. This had been a standard suppression mission! She‟d been told by Commander Chang that there was little if any significant risk of resistance by the natives! She ducked a dark red energy bolt were those Federation phasers!? “Push them back. and she would brook no rebellion from the men under her command in the belief that even bringing back a corpse had a symbolic meaning to those left to fight on. but she would never. L'ressa had fended off three assassination attempts. one’s less honorable rivals will have less honorable children. ever abandon the field of battle without one of her men. that it was necessary to purge her from command.L'ressa did not. which outpowered her Warbird by over twice. ducking for cover. and it was supposed to be a relic of a Human king from long ago . One of the aliens leaped for her. or one of the Federation‟s best young Captains. A knife in center-chest had put that rumour to rest.

The plausible deniability of these little acts of casus belli was part of the game of international politics between the Empire and the Federation in the twenty-third century. or better. brandishing a captive weapon. sly. Klingon shuttles couldn‟t launch without at least some runway. would be traded across the border . The Federation ships had fought like Klingons.” She sighed.and she recognized a piece that didn‟t fit when she saw one. she had been fortunate enough to be on the spot to deflect an attack from Federation destroyers operating deep with in Imperial space. cunning.honor differed from that of most Klingons.. Was an intelligence agent on the other side trying to draw the Empire into a foolish declaration of war? Or did the Empire believe that leading itself to war would lead to a rapid victory over the Federation? . Two weeks prior. trained as a scientist first. One of her marines walked over to her immediately.and the Empire would of course bury the incident. Despite many Klingons‟ stereotyping of the Federation as effete and weak. Calculating. I hardly believe that the Federation would be so foolish as to arm a race in Klingon space with weapons that can so easily be traced back to it ... many words described the crews of the Federation Starfleet.” L'ressa put calls to some of her most trusted agents in the of Starfleet‟s phaser pistols. “There seems to be something more serious going on here than a simple border skirmish. a warrior second . this is an act of war!” He seemed positively eager for combat..not when crates full of our disruptor rifles. The appropriate words.. because to do otherwise would risk that the Federation had caught similar Klingon raiders across their borders. she knew from frontline experience how strong the Federation really was.. she still enjoyed the feeling of sticking a pointy thing into a fleshy thing. “weak” was not among them. It looked fresh out of a starship‟s armory . She was. shockingly brave and self-sacrificing in the name of their nation. a Federation phaser! This. “My Lady. Moments later. however. L'ressa was back on the ship. dun. L'ressa took the weapon from him. can be easily purchased on the black market.or black-colored units used by the Federation Marines.” Unlike their Federation counterparts. she knew. This did not make sense. possibly forcing open war. supposed L'ressa. L'ressa thought it amazingly implausible that such an obvious act of war would be committed. rather than the darker. Romulan plasma weapons. It may also be a trick. The silver phaser pistol was entirely too obviously of Federation make. and self-destructed before capture to prevent positive identification. “Reprisal! Beam us up! We don’t have enough space to launch the shuttle from the surface. “An act of war it may be.

to the point. Barely a year commissioned at their last meeting. and forced a second one to cripple his own vessel. She had easily destroyed a Warbird commanded by a very experienced captain with the Enterprise‟s raw firepower and quite a bit of luck (the help of some suicidally brave fast attack boat captains didn‟t hurt Enterprise‟s cause. She especially didn‟t like the fact that she didn‟t have any answers for them. she might . Perhaps to solve the mystery.L'ressa did not like these directions of questioning. . would Starfleet likely do so). if the Enterprise went on patrol in Klingon space. But how could L‟ressa get in contact with her? It wasn‟t exactly as if the Empire had an Embassy on Earth to relay a message (nor. she had handled her vessel as a professional with many years under her belt... either). Her mind immediately strayed to Veronica Kirk.have a chance to find Captain Kirk and deliver her a message herself.just might . Perhaps. The captain of the Enterprise was an ideal person to start with. she needed someone from the other side.

even though in the O club.” She shook his hand. Another ten to twenty minutes and Alicia would be finally off-duty. I‟ve heard a lot about you. and somehow wore his uniform as casually as if it were a soccer jersey. not a teenager . the quickest point defense systems. please sit down. of the Enterprise?” His voice was deep and smooth. “What‟s it like. As it was. He was at least ten years older than she. I‟m Captain Veronica Kirk. and the crew men and women who serve on her. her arm in a regenerator sling. Veronica and Uhura had been happy to see her up and around. the most powerful phasers and shields. She smiled. and she‟s done it in style. “being the Captain of the first Constitution-class starship to put to space?” Veronica smiled.” not anymore. Uhura had just finished her cosmo before going back to the Enterprise to meet with her new SIGINT team.” he finally asked. But so did she. the best computers and sensors.” . I‟m Captain Lemuel Cartwright. She was a starship captain. For the first time in a long time. “She‟s the finest ship I‟ve ever set foot on. Tomorrow night. Veronica. She‟s a tribute to both her builders. Veronica thought that if she was the kind of girl who went for men. “With the fastest Warp drive. “Captain Cartwright. She‟s done everything I‟ve ever asked of her. the most modern torpedo launcher. but yes. Cartwright gazed into Veronica‟s blue eyes for several long moments. and it sank in how much smaller her body had become. she‟d give him that. dysphoric “genius-level repeat offender. A tall black man walked up to her. feeling both his hand and his Academy ring firm and broad against her own small hand. “And yes. had joined them for about an hour before suddenly tiring and begging off. He wore the thick-thinthick rings of a Captain at his wrists. It hardly took any prompting at all for her to begin declaiming the merits of the Enterprise. Captain. Veronica suddenly felt herself underdressed .Chapter 3 Veronica sat in one of the starbase‟s lounges. her daringly cut black dress was the most expensive thing in the room by a considerable margin. Tonight was a couples‟ night. with silvering temples and strands of grey starting to show on the crown of his head.” Veronica said without hesitation. Veronica Kirk felt positively dwarfed by someone else‟s presence.and not a depressed. she found herself suddenly longing for Alicia. even for the short time. and she gathered herself. yes? On the Excalibur?” “Well I‟m not on her right now. against the petite band of her smaller ring. Mercedes. Uhura and Alicia were planning to paint the station red. she might be rather smitten right now. And you must be Captain Kirk. They had spent a surprisingly relaxing afternoon together on Starbase 12‟s promenade. The man had presence. Veronica‟s eyes lit up. sipping at a drink.

cautious sip (Two drinks aren’t going to kill me. One of the best ships in the fleet. her sex.“That‟s also my impression of Excalibur. now that I don’t have to take anti-androgens anymore. He handed one to Veronica. come to my quarters? I’m a little late but I want to see you. “If these are the future of Starfleet cruisers.” Cartwright laughed. she thought. Hearing a soft beep. she thought. Veronica was now one of eight. sliding the dregs of her Old Fashioned to one side. “It should be. I heard you went through quite a lot during the Enterprise‟s refit after the Narada incident. who popped the top and took a slow.” “Captain. they run a brewery down in the bowels of the station. Besides. and took a long drink. however. “Captain‟s work is never done.know that she had personal business with another officer. while men passed them by into the center seat. Best not to let someone she hardly knew . “I‟ll drink to that. Lemuel. beginning with Erica Hernandez on the original Columbia. in the 2210s women had started to find starship commands harder and harder to come by. clinked her bottle neck against Cartwright‟s. Mister Klingon had better watch out!” Veronica had a brief flashback to her encounter with Captain L'ressa the previous winter. Veronica feigned a sigh and took a quick pull at her beer. one of the finest crews. Veronica laughed with him. and mentally noted that there were certainly Klingon officers that she respected. but I like it. „Beer is best brewed cold. where I belong.” Veronica‟s heroics and her leadership under pressure were unquestioned by many in Starfleet. “A little wordy. I’m off duty). “That‟s good stuff.even another Captain . though.” Cartwright smiled warmly and ordered two beers. Ali.” “I did.I‟m in command of my ship. Captain Cartwright! Cheers!” Veronica smiled. I‟d never have retained the Enterprise without Admiral Pike. but very little of it‟s all that relevant right now . Honey. After a half-century of strong women commanding starships. she flipped open her communicator to see a text message glowing on the screen. However. It‟s very cold in space‟. Slogan something like. Commandant Barnett and Captain Dominquez running a lot of interference against a lot of admirals who thought that they could use my transition as an excuse to take a very rare promotion directly to Captain away. was.” . she expected that Cartwright wasn‟t looking for a nuanced answer but giving a simple battle-boast. I can do that. At the same time.” The skin around his eyes crinkled with good humor.

All of these women . and there was little question that said waves would reverberate until they‟d gone places where few wanted them to go. additionally.she was starting to make waves.. Captain Cartwright finished his beer. Some had been imprisoned! Cartwright believed that Kirk was weakening the fleet. but martyrs would work just as well for the cause as living witnesses. the more I look at Brand‟s old files. thank you. “Veronica. Kirk likely to be useful.” “See you later. not seeing Captain Cartwright note into his PADD.” Cartwright‟s smile remained wide. Veronica. Because of their work. and there were plenty who were waking up. Off of her. There were those in the fleet.. He could see the winds of change. Captain Alicia Parnell. I can‟t carry it out into the station with me and it‟s too good to waste. the more I think he did die just to leave me holding the check.” She turned toward the exit to the lounge. of course . he was still God. leaving her with what was turning out to be more and more an amazingly heavy caseload.” she lied smoothly. winds being blown by Enterprise and her Captain. Vee! And some of them are years old. If you don‟t mind potentially drinking another Captain‟s backwash (and lipstick). Will continue to evaluate. Kirk and the Enterprise would be excellent witnesses to Klingon aggression. If all went well.” The deceased admiral had recommended before his death that Alicia be promoted to take his place as head of the Starbase 12 JAG office. a number of good officers including some Captains and even a few Admirals . “Don‟t I know that. What is it this time unauthorized fights on deck?” “Nothing so exotic . Veronica took one last longing pull on her bottle. you can have the rest of mine. “This really is good stuff. “There are dozens of these cases. “I‟ll take my chances. complaints brought by officers and enlisted women who have long since left Starfleet. LC. Captain.but the rapidity with which change was happening was threatening to overwhelm the system‟s ability to adapt to it.. and some against men who are now dead! I don‟t even know what to do some days.Cartwright took another slug of his. Cartwright wanted justice for the women who had been hurt too. On the bridge of the Excalibur.. looked up from her desk in despair. and Starfleet had approved the transfer of position but without a promotion in rank. who wanted Kirk gone .were facing charges now. The former Lieutenant Coleman‟s imprisonment and execution. JAG. the balance of power in Starfleet was shifting rapidly. LLTF. even though he was certain that she thought the opposite. and Jason Brand‟s suicide had sent a very rude noise up and down in Starfleet.just some leftover paperwork from my last time on Starbase 12. it would be regrettable. If it didn‟t. a few had been dishonorably discharged.

“This is so frustrating!” Alicia dug her fingertips into her dark hair and squeezed her bright green eyes closed. Delegation is a good skill to have. Veronica gently loosened her lover‟s fingers from her hair and kissed them. It‟s designed to be frustrating. Alicia.” Even though Alicia had been a Captain over a year before Veronica... Unfortunately. How many Attorneys do you have working under you?” Veronica dropped herself into the desk chair on the opposite side of the desk from her girlfriend.deserve justice. rubbed her way along Veronica‟s ankle. One of the distinct privileges of being a stationside officer instead of a shipboard officer was the ability to keep pets. that load means I‟m going to go grey years before my time. Let me tell you a little story.” . Admiral Brand was looking at enough consecutive terms of obstruction of justice to keep him in prison until he died anyway.” “Then do what you can. “I know. other than over her small staff of clerks.” “Trust me. Some people just can‟t handle taking responsibility for their actions. Alicia. Zoe. We‟re getting eight more next month. for me. Judging by the sheer load of deferred or fraudulently closed cases on my desk. The stress was giving her premature crow‟s feet. is that refusing to delegate authority is a quick way to a heart attack. “About twelve. Alicia‟s cat. the first lesson you learn as a leader. she had never been placed in a position of leadership. and reached to take Alicia‟s hand. but there are not enough hours in the day for me to pursue even a tenth of these cases.

tried to affect her old voice. “What would you recommend. I‟m not sure.63 Veronica Kirk was very. And she couldn‟t say for certain that having to keep her transition secret until she was ready to switch sexes professionally and be publicly known as her real self wasn‟t adding to the stress. Admiral. unfortunately this isn‟t a social call. “Jim.” “It‟s good to see you too. “Worrying trends. But every night it seemed like her paperwork was piling higher and deeper. Jim.” Again a suppressed wince. You‟re down to five-point-two hours from seven. very frustrated.Chapter 4 2258. and his doctors still couldn't say for sure if he would. and he wanted me to give you a little pep talk to help you through them. and she was getting to bed later and later. Admiral? I think the problem is I‟m just not getting it done in time.” Pike‟s eyes shone with good humor.” came Uhura‟s voice over the comm. Your paperwork isn‟t just cutting into your off-duty time. “Captain. but into your sleep time. It wasn‟t like he knew. “Admiral Pike wishes to speak with you. but his body looked sick and wasted sitting in his wheelchair. you‟ve logged on average five minutes less sleep. But Admiral Barnett has informed me of some worrying trends on the Enterprise.” Kirk didn‟t want to show Pike how much the use of her old name hurt.” “Put him through. Admiral? Like what?” “The one he‟s the most immediately worried about has to do with you. it might be several months more before he could even try to walk. and my doctors want me to work on my recovery as much as possible.” Veronica swallowed. My energy isn‟t what it should be. even. How I‟m supposed to do that when I‟m going stir-crazy from boredom sitting here when I‟d rather be out there.” Veronica cleared her throat.” . “According to your logs. night over night. it‟s good to see you. “Captain. I think it‟s starting to affect your voice. The damage that the damn Romulans had inflicted upon him had been profound. She‟d been Captain of the Enterprise for less than twenty days and she was already stressed to the breaking point. for the last twenty nights.

I learned.” “Yes sir. Even work that specifically required my signature. She was. just to read it and sign off on the finished work. You‟re basically telling me that Rear Admiral Pike giving you a pep talk helped you not overload yourself with work?” Her voice sounded a bit skeptical. that she‟d entrusted with her „secret identity. she‟d been entirely sympathetic.Yeoman Elisa Rand was one of the only people on the ship.‟ and then we need you JAG folks.“Prioritize. She was trying to keep as much work “in-house” as possible . Admiral.” Veronica nodded glumly. didn‟t need me to do it. He sent me printed orders to get at least seven hours of sleep a night. that‟s not actually it. so far. I must just be really tired. . “No. barring Red Alerts. “So. I got to the point before he intervened that I was cheating my sleep logs they showed 5 ½ hours of sleep a night. Sometimes something jumps right past „administrative discipline‟ into „criminal offense. but we can‟t handle everything ourselves.” “And I‟m going from a situation where I was only doing about six cases a month to at least thirty-five a week. I order you to go to bed. It‟s what every Captain learns to do . discipline-wise.or he goes nuts trying to keep up with every task. There‟s no shame in offloading some of your paperwork to your yeomen .that‟s what they‟re there for. “No.‟ Fortunately.” Veronica could see Alicia gazing at her and knew there was definitely something more important than paperwork on her mind.” Alicia blinked a few times. I was getting about 3. Pike looked more carefully at the screen. easily intercepted channel. Veronica wanted to tell him. That required me to start delegating paperwork to Yeomen. having a little brother who went „the other way‟ as she put it. But not on an uncoded. so I could make sure all of it got done. “Jim.” “Captain. Vee. It probably saved my Starfleet career. are you wearing eyeshadow?” he asked. Captain.” “Captains get a lot of leeway. badly.

Veronica and Alicia went out. far too long. being this open and vulnerable without hurt. welcome voice sounded. and many worlds‟ cuisines. loose silk sleeveless top. cute little giggles as they worked their way back up. she slid the straps of her dress off over her shoulder. did you think you were getting away from me that easy?” A familiar. wearing a pair of black slacks and matching loafers.” . the two women had gotten from the desktop to the bed. and smiled. “I can‟t drink with these pain meds in me. She had never thought sex could be like this. Veronica felt Alicia‟s hot. ran her fingers down the wet curls between Veronica‟s legs as her lover lay. Mercedes Martinez was standing there in a grey. Veronica‟s body quivered in delight. “Hey.there were restaurants there for all tastes. on the bridge of her ship. delicious post-orgasmic shivers running up and down through her body. insistent tongue and sighed. She slid a wet fingertip inside.soft blissed sighs as her fingers brushed the curls. Sex had never felt like this. A few moments later.. the bold starship captain perfectly comfortable and balanced in her element. but Dr.. and she‟d only been out in space for a relatively paltry three months. she‟d completely forgotten about the drinks. Then Veronica slid Alicia‟s paperwork to one side on her desk. a recent survivor of assault. Meeting up with Lieutenant Commander Uhura on the leisure promenade was a great idea . Alicia.. skin glistening in the dim light as they cuddled. and felt her lover melt. Sometime during the evening. and her body ever so hungry. for her part. There they lay next to each other. and the woman who had captured her heart.. She gloried in the little sounds she could elicit from Veronica . and Alicia‟s questing fingers slid across the skin of her back. soft and glowing-warm on the bed.Alicia. Veronica‟s lips and tongue were fantastically talented. saw both the woman who had walked into her office. The next night. but she was ecstatic that it was. McCoy seems to think a night out will be good for my soul. quickly unhooked her bra. her left arm in a sling. It had already been far. and sat on the desktop. and Alicia could see a tiny flash of blonde hair between her legs and all thought extinguished except losing herself between her lover‟s thighs.

“Hi. The woman might have one bad arm. “Dr. but the good one feels as strong as a hydraulic press! She stood up at the microphone. selected one that she knew.” “Vegetarian it is then. Wright keeps telling me that meals heavy on the meat don‟t work well with a personal schedule that keeps me on the bridge a lot. . It was certainly late.” Alicia daintily cleared her throat and Veronica rolled her eyes a little.” Alicia nodded. She picked up the karaoke songbook. and Veronica had had maybe an extra cosmo or two more than she‟d intended. It’s been a long road Gettin’ from there to here It’s been a long time But my time is finally here I can feel the changing wind right now Nothing’s in my way And they’re not gonna hold me down no more No they’re not gonna hold me down. Mercedes saw her selection and laughed. but she also pushed Veronica up toward the stage. “I couldn‟t think of anyone I‟d rather have here. and I don‟t have two months‟ pay to spare. It‟s a month‟s pay but my baby‟s worth it. “Insert obvious girlfriend exception!” “There‟s a good place on station with seafood on the overnight run from Earth.. “Steak‟s easy to vat-grow and we‟ve got a supply on the starbase. first recorded in the 20th century for a bad movie. but what the hell. “A month‟s pay for a Captain . avoiding jostling her wounded arm. Which I could certainly do. there was a nice Indian place with excellent drinks and a positively fantastic mushroom mutter curry.” The guitar intro picked up and Veronica right with it. My name‟s Veronica.Veronica hugged Mercedes carefully.. It was a ballad. Otherwise we‟re looking at a lot of vegetarian joints.for a new-minted Lieutenant Commander it‟s more like two. thought Veronica.” Veronica smiled and looked down at her carefully maintained figure.” Uhura looked at her purse.” One deck down.

she almost turned the ballad into a torch song. “Thank you. Mercedes pounded on the table with her good hand. “Oh dear. chest heaving. As she giggled. Uhura gave her a high-five. Stewart.” As Veronica decamped from the stage. Veronica said. But now the winds I feel.. And no one’s gonna bend or break me. she felt amazingly... and Alicia came up to the stage to share a long. But I’ll be fine. She had taken a pop ballad from long ago and turned it into a statement of her own inner strength. her girlfriend said. It’s been a long road.. And seen the darkest days. I’ve got faith. a grin of victory across her face. her voice hit strength that Alicia hadn‟t known Veronica had. I’ve got faith of the heart I’m goin’ where my heart will take me! I’ve got faith to believe I can do anything I’ve got strength of the soul. Many applauded. sensual purr until launching into the second chorus... Are only winds of change! I’ve been through the fire. I’ve got faith. Into the microphone. Veronica stood on the stage. picking up an impromptu choir from the rest of the room. her voice becoming a low.. Faith of the heart! As Veronica rolled easily into the second verse. but Veronica‟s alto voice was strong and true. The final chorus. Veronica felt good. eyes down. that was corny. intensely proud of her love. At that moment.. but you made it work!” . Mr. Alicia tickled her. And I’ve been through the rain. I’ve known a wind so cold.Alicia thought she could see tears beginning to gather in her lover‟s eyes as she hit the chorus. hot kiss with her. I can reach any star.

Missie. Veronica replied. “Keep that up.Getting herself back under control. “Should I have sung Maggie May instead?” Alicia laughed. and you‟ll be sleeping on the floor!” .

Successful test.Chapter 5 It had been an entirely too-short four weeks at Starbase 12. and they were crampy and miserable together for a week. that had been highlighted in red for years and would never go green again. which was happily accepted. Overall. .in fact it made it worse. Fortunately. She had never removed a dead friend from her list. for a 30 percent longer intercept range. it wasn‟t quite over yet. Lying naked next to Alicia as she dozed. Meanwhile.weapons she had been built "for but not with. it worsened her gender dysphoria. After growing up with her thankfully late uncle. The saucer-rim point-defense banks sported new targeting sensors. Many she had known on the online message boards as a teenager were dead by their own hand. I remember you. Captain Cartwright had insisted on buying the two women a bottle of expensive wine. point defense shattered salvo after salvo of test missiles. Veronica hazily remembered a time when it would have made her flinch uncontrollably to be this vulnerable to someone. faster robotics and stronger beam-throwers. “Enterprise to Starbase 12. we‟re heading back home. She felt fortunate. never for death. Even becoming physically bigger and stronger than Frank hadn‟t been a help . The torpedo launcher‟s new handling hardware meant that she could lay down a heavier salvo of photons with less pause between them. The addition of the aft phasers gave Veronica a lot more confidence when drones started to slip around behind the Enterprise to set up firing solutions. Veronica and Alicia‟s periods came and went in unison. it had taken her a long time to be comfortable again with her body. She had removed friends for many other reasons. because with every centimetre she grew out. and another on the secondary hull below the shuttlebay to add much-needed firepower to the aft quadrants. The Enterprise had been at the starbase to have additional armament installed -. Two of the new saucer mounts were positioned on the centerline superfiring over (and under) the existing phasers. this is Kirk. even if no one else does.” Dinner that night with Alicia was a major celebration. Enterprise entered the Starbase 12 proving grounds and started to shatter some asteroids. Finally. Four more twin phaser banks studded the saucer now. The second week hadn‟t been quite so pleasant as the first. the tests ended and the starship flew clear of the debris. There were several names in her personal instant messenger list that were highlighted in red. while the other two were at the after end of the hardened docking points on the outer saucer. Enterprise was leaving the docking bay almost twice as strong as when she entered.

she rolled over in bed and accidentally clunked heads with Alicia. Both women recoiled. letting her get back to sleep. .Veronica ran her fingers up the small of Alicia‟s back. In the morning (well. even in sleep.‟ 0000). Academy) living. over long years of fleet (and previously. to being the only person in bed at the same time. their morning. it was 1100 with Veronica‟s duty shift beginning at „four balls. and it exorcised some of her demons.they were accustomed. then laughed . feeling her girlfriend‟s skin respond to her touch.

” Veronica looked down into her chair monitor and then called out. “I wouldnae miss our gettin‟ underway!” “Very well Mr. “Systems poll.” Adams. Lieutenant! That‟s your duty right now!” She watched her friend until the airlock doors closed. Veronica! It‟s what we‟re about to do.” Chekov. Scott! What have I done.” Lieutenant Hannity called out. “Sciences go.” Uhura from her new station. go. “Impulse power and maneuvering thrusters at your command. people!” The tradition of announcing the Captain‟s presence somewhat annoyed Veronica . “You get better.” McCoy.” .” Kane. take your place at the systems monitor.” Spock added. Scotty was standing next to her chair. “Captain on the bridge!” “As you were. “Mr. wasted people‟s time and energy to acknowledge her presence when they could be doing something to get the ship underway. “Doctors here say I‟ll be fit for duty by the time the Enterprise gets back. Ronnie.” Scotty.” Scott grinned at Veronica and she grinned back. “Sickbay is ready to go.” Veronica smiled. then turned to take control of her ship. Captain. I wish I could go with you . “Warp engines go. “Cryptology go. “Weapon systems and shields. “Life support go. “Damage control go. “Communication go. that you grace the bridge with your presence?” “It‟s not what ye‟ve done.” Sulu.but Lieutenant Kane will do a fine job filling in for me while I‟m recovering. in her new gold Command-division uniform. CDR go.Chapter 6 Mercedes Martinez smiled to Veronica as she was about to retract the Enterprise docking collar.

bringing the giant vessel to life. Enterprise is prepared for departure. which if you continue down this path I can see that you will not… . Veronica smiled as the ship began her progress.” “Aye-aye. we wish you fair skies and following winds. You are cleared to depart. “Mr. take us out. waiting. but they were there. Sulu. The email on her monitor now was just some. We are reading all systems go. and a safe return to harbor.. that you must do. rhythmic thump-thump-thump of crew members getting some off-shift exercise using the two-kilometer circular corridor as a running track. Warp factor seven. letting her see a massive slice of blackness beyond. what an arrogant old Vulcan had penned that crap? Dear Jim. Waiting for Veronica Kirk to probe their secrets and discover their mysteries.” “Course and speed laid in.“Starbase 12. Maneuvering thrusters until we clear the doors. The massive spacedoors began opening. Captain!” Scott began feeding plasma through to the warp nacelles.system three-two-three-dash-A. Epsilon One. I must implore you once again. beckoning. Captain.” Sulu looked eager to stretch Enterprise‟s legs once more. Outside she could hear the faint. on behalf of all of us standing here at Starbase Control.” Deep space Veronica was seeing red. then one-quarter impulse power.” Veronica smiled at the archaic traditional farewell. The lights inside the dock were still far too bright for her to see the points of individual stars. argh.” “Enterprise. There are things that only you can do. do not jeopardize the integrity of the space time continuum by continuing on the path you’ve started. “Punch it.. then closed the channel. “Set course for Klingon space . Veronica smirked. this is the Enterprise.

” The Romulan smiled. “I pay for good work to be done for me. Unnamed secret starbase Klingon Empire “The Federation ship is on its way here. and Kirk . half a lifetime ago. and the Enterprise had a reputation for being in the hottest of galactic hotspots. especially against the needed. even if she still wasn‟t totally sure she liked him. A galactic war would serve the glory of the Romulan Empire nicely. Blindly. His people were hopelessly honor-bound. well-intentioned or not. prized surgery that transformed her body and freed her soul from prison. The old Vulcan wanted his world back.” The Klingon commander looked forward to testing the mettle of his men against the Federation. She was a dangerous foe. it made them complacent and easy to manipulate. As for the Romulan himself.and not just any vessel. She remembered sobbing into the young Spock‟s shoulder.” “For a mercenary. The Klingon suspected nothing. To start with. so he meddled in hers. Kirk‟s subsequent gender transition had been the stuff of tabloids for months. you do good work. then turned to beating on a pillow. but Enterprise. When it became apparent that Veronica was most emphatically not Jim Kirk – not any sort of Jim Kirk – Old Spock had turned cold to her. then to get some sleep. only dying down when she shipped aboard Enterprise again and passed out of the easy domain of the paparazzi. the young Spock had become a stalwart supporter and a strength that she could rely on. When the pillow was properly beaten. . a single vessel would do . he was no mercenary. The email would be yet another variation on a theme started by the wrinkly old bastard a bit over a year ago. with a reputation for snatching victory from the jaws of certain defeat. trying to crush Old Spock‟s words out of her head. Well-intentioned maybe – but meddling that would kill her. Unlike his older counterpart.Veronica‟s tears blurred the rest of the text. she stabbed at the delete button to turn the email into etheric shreds. she threw it down on the bed and crashed down on it. I have received word that she left Starbase 12 this morning.the very public hero of the Narada incident.her new name into the domain of the public newspapers once more. then?” “That is. but an agent of the Tal‟Shiar. He fought against her transition. Her defeat of a Klingon battlegroup a year after the Narada had brought her name .

and thus had no warning and no escape. “Scanning ahead reveals clear space in the target star system.. She looked aside to Spock.. long range sensor scans reveal no Klingon presence in this system.older ships. unlike Veronica‟s.” Her missiles turned a fleet of seven Federation starships . While Veronica had earned an assignment to the Enterprise phaser room. She let out a breath she hadn‟t known she was holding. The alternative .” The Enterprise exited subspace and decelerated to ten percent of lightspeed in just a matter of seconds.. but very very concerned. not yet.there could be nothing there. “Captain. the cadet who made sure that she brought up her transness to her psychologist. yes.. or else by blown into space through a hull breach. there could be an enemy fleet. Veronica wasn‟t worried about that part. At least. one. Cadet Mitchell‟s grades. One had no idea what was about to happen at the moment of exiting warp . Mitchell had been on the Truman. we’re flying into a trap. There could be a graveyard of Federation starships and thousands of your classmates and dozens of your friends. not expecting enemy action but a natural disaster.was too horrible for her to seriously contemplate. The Narada had fired on shieldless starships as they exited hour of waiting followed by being crushed into oblivion . she nodded and returned her attention to the viewscreen. “Exiting warp in three. designated as a point-defense gunnery officer for the rescue mission. Uhura turned toward the center seat. One of the few people that she‟d told her gender identity to. “Lieutenant Kirk. two.... they don‟t know about.into so much debris. There may be a small base on the third planet.” . but looks like anything that‟s here. but powerful vessels nonetheless .. but Gary had not been among the paltry few survivors rescued. Spock looked back expectantly. had been good but not stellar.” Sulu called out.Chapter 7 Exiting warp speed in unknown space was always a hairy moment. it’s not a rescue mission. Veronica shook her head... She hoped he‟d either been killed outright by one of Nero‟s missiles. The Enterprise had sent out rescue parties to the wrecked hulks of the other ships while there had been time. He’d never known the Cadet to be flaky about anything in her entire Academy career. Cadet Gary Mitchell had been her closest friend at the Academy. “Captain. what are you doing away from your post?” Captain Pike hadn’t been furious.

Captain. Full bg check. Something doesn’t look quite right to me here. and she wasn‟t sure that what he was looking for had Veronica‟s health and well-being first and foremost in his mind. The sooner she left. they‟ll certainly be here soon enough. I don‟t care who you are. Unfortunately. A few moments later she received a response back. short bursts of impulse and minimum-energy courses. she was also having some problems. and it was saving her a lot. Veronica seemed a lot more accustomed to the organizational parts of being in command. Ma‟am?” “Let‟s keep the Enterprise on maximum emcon for right now. the sooner Alicia could have Veronica back in her arms. Alicia sent an instant message from a private account that had no user info that could be traced back to her. to a security lieutenant commander she trusted. but at least he left her alone. inside their space. and the sooner the Enterprise was back. The Excalibur was scheduled to leave tomorrow.” Sulu set a minimum energy course to the third planet. Captain Cartwright was difficult to push off. “TOP.” “Yes. Despite having only been a captain for a year and a half to Alicia‟s three. the Enterprise‟s impulse engines gave a brief burst of power to start the ship falling inward toward the core of the system. Silverflash: Of course. or just a quickie? . Lieutenant Sulu?” “Yes. anyway. Starbase 12 Alicia stared at her monitor with a sigh. after Veronica‟s pep talk. the better. He was looking for something. “If they figure out a Federation starship is here. Secret. especially when he was asking her things about Veronica. you can‟t just ask me probing questions about Captain Kirk!” Cartwright looked unimpressed. Alicia was having more time to notice and participate in social life on the station again. Her girlfriend really was a lifesaver in many senses. Ma‟am.Veronica chewed her fingernail for a few moments. Her workload was getting a lot closer to normal again. so y ou and Commander Spock keep on top of the long-range scanning and SIGINT. VeritasCaput: Take a look into Cartwright’s background & connections. Captain Cartwright was starting to make Alicia suspicious.

Suddenly. could anyone truly blame her? USS Enterprise Klingon space The Enterprise sailed gracefully through space. Captain. and people forgot after a while how horrible an interstellar war truly was. This one looked less than five years old.” “On screen. draining off the immense pseudovelocity of subspace travel. if Veronica was seeing the details of the paint scheme correctly. and it seemed like Cartwright wanted one. “Can we get better resolution? I think I know that ship. Spock seemed slightly alarmed as he called from the aft bridge. long-range scanners are picking up another starship. Alicia sat back. Veronica was trying to avoid a war like this. who believed that a war would be beneficial to the Federation. or petty slights. but she certainly hoped not. Did he want a war like this badly enough to sacrifice the Enterprise to get it? Alicia didn‟t know. One Starfleet officer might not be able to avert a war. because the human mind wasn‟t equipped to deal with mass tragedy on that scale.VeritasCaput: As deep as you think you should. Another brilliant point of light now coasted through the system with purpose and speed.” “We‟ll try to compensate for the long distance. Silverflash: Will do. It wasn‟t any secret that there was a faction in Starfleet that wanted war with the Klingons. through another twisting of spacetime.” In one corner of the screen. and since it was her girlfriend who was going to be on the firing line if a war broke out. she was not alone. a picture from one of the Enterprise‟s long-range reconnaissance probes showed the classic profile of a Klingon warbird. “Captain. wars where tens or hundreds of millions suffered and died over nebulous political conflicts. maybe a little deeper. She thought she recognized the markings. But she could sure as hell try. Imaging?” . It had been a generation since the Federation‟s last major war.

Unless there‟s been a change of command in the last six months. Captain. overlaid on the live video feed. Chekov‟s course. The last thing we need right now is a battle. and wars end both Federations and Empires alike. deliberate. same star system.IKC Reprisal. “Return strike . at Venar IV.” “Yes. Mr. but surrendered the day when reinforcements arrived for Enterprise from Starbase 12.” IKC Reprisal. Battles start wars. Veronica saw the markings clearly and grinned. The young officer began working with her station controls to try to give Veronica a clearer picture of the ship on the screen.” “Plot a course. and a dangerous one. She and Veronica had also met once before in battle.and any navigator should be thrown off the bridge if he couldn‟t do that . Captain. just as her Enterprise was . he shunted the course information over to the helm console. to make sure that we don‟t intersect. “Lieutenant Sulu. Captain. Veronica appreciated details like how the Klingon‟s warp field reflectors folded into the nacelles. the Klingons didn‟t use space on such things as science laboratories or heavy long-range scanners that had nothing to do with the mission of a warship. same time.” replied Ensign Victoria Slater in the seat next to him. Our courses may intersect in the asteroid belt. This vessel was a predator.” “Aye-aye. Commander.” L‟ressa was a known quantity. She knew her vessel and her crew. Ensign Chekov turned to face the Captain. the shimmering colors as the subspace field radiators slid back into their protective housings for sublight flight. Chekov.perhaps even a bit more so.they are headed for the third planet as well.“On it. Completing the calculations. Captain L‟ressa watched on her bridge viewscreen as her crew went through the familiar rituals of the first moments after dropping out of warp. that‟s Captain L‟ressa‟s ship. precise . She had fought her ship bravely and qualities to have in an enemy starship captain. if I am plotting their course correctly . “Ma‟am. Some things that would happen on automatic on . She was thoughtful. carry out Mr. “Coming through with enhanced imagery now.” Slater moved the image she was getting back from the image analysis team far down in the hull to the main viewscreen.” Chekov nodded and turned to his plot.

It appears to be falling toward the asteroid keep up the polite fiction that their people were not constantly on the brink of war. While their governments were perpetually at odds. L‟ressa mused that were it up to starship crews and not politicians.finding out the Federation‟s intentions toward the Klingon Empire is one of our missions here. Make sure that it does not appear that we‟ve spotted them . there would be eternal peace between the two great powers. that is interesting. she thought. Interesting. Both Imperial Navy Command and Starfleet Command seemed to like these gestures . the crew members of their ships seemed to enjoy each other‟s company and make friends easily. one of the starbase sensor probes in this system detects a Federation vessel on longrange. Launch one of our sensor probes toward the belt. a rare friendly day between two starships of the great opposing Empires.” like organize port visits to the opposing state‟s planets where their starship commanders would pretend that they were not carrying enough weaponry to slaughter every single person on the planet‟s surface. they would do things to exaggerate galactic “friendship.” Nearly an hour later. USS Enterprise NCC-1701. Captain Veronica Kirk! . the fates intend us to meet again. She had discovered this much to her chagrin during a port visit in the Federation last year.” “Oh.a Federation starship bridge required considerable effort on a Klingon bridge. the sensor officer returned a clear shot of the Federation ship‟s forward hull. “Captain.

detectable in realspace.and very. heat. She was on maximum emcon. She‟d ordered this at least two hours ago from the galley. Half of the dilithium chambers shut down. made a face. it can‟t be worse than living in the engineering spaces right now. toward the third planet and its mysterious alien starbase.” . using small sensor probes to poke into the unknown and bring back information without relying on the starship‟s powerful . “Captain. and the engine room immediately began to cool. “Do what ye need to in order to reconfigure the warp drive. I cannae take the heat much longer m‟sel. we‟re roasting alive in there!” Scott nodded. “Who knows. very “bright” from a receiver‟s point of view main sensor array. the Klingons at the base could not know they were coming until the Enterprise parked in orbit.” He looked worried about his men and women. Mr.. but we‟ve got tae. After a few more hours. The Enterprise continued to fall inward. but she had little choice. Scott. he nodded.Chapter 8 Veronica sipped at a cup of coffee. No noticeable increase in the Enterprise‟s emission spectrum or amount of emissions. and rightly so. For this mission to succeed. into subspace. cooling and other systems as possible turned off. a base that Captain Kirk was no longer entirely sure belonged strictly to the Klingons. we‟re cookin‟ down here in th‟ engine room!” “Keep yourselves together. “Good work. While the ship was still reasonably habitable. tae give the Captain what she needs. evenly. After another half hour. Scott. In order to confuse her energy signature as much as possible. Scott threw the switch. forgotten it for a time. Mr. Spock‟s voice came over the intercom. Commander Spock had ordered as much lighting. the engineers hit on the idea of radiating heat through the warp nacelles. She worried about the men and women toiling in the engineering sections. toward the sun. right now it wasn‟t very comfortable. and think of your ancestors. The engine modifications seemed ready to work... Now it was cold..” replied Veronica. The Enterprise was strangely dark. Mr. and the engine room is still probably going to exceed 50 degrees before we hit orbit. It was now three hours into the Enterprise‟s fall into the central system.

somebody in a position to tell the Klingons that a Federation starship was in their space . “I would agree. but that mole had decided to compromise the Enterprise. with close to two dozen birds of prey. Veronica concluded. not while workin‟.“It had better be good work. a dozen warbirds. please tell me I‟m not seeing what my sensors and eyes are telling me I‟m seeing.” . and breathed a sigh of relief. black-hole creating red matter had detonated inside the planet‟s core. toward the top of the ship. toward the bridge. “Back tae work!” Veronica saw several warp flashes on her chair monitor.. Mr. and they can‟t take that heat for more than a few minutes at a time. but he was the closest thing Veronica had ever heard to it since he beamed down to Vulcan after the volatile.had done so. Sector fleet ships are normally spread as much as possible.. Veronica gritted her teeth slightly. Not only was there a mole in the system. Captain.. “I am reading a large fleet of Klingon Warbirds. “A whole sector fleet!" “Captain.” The conclusion was too obvious.lives were on the line down here. “Mr.” Scott looked upward. Reading. My men are nae machines.” Spock‟s voice was not alarmed.. the situation was looking bad for her. Klingon member worlds are not allowed militias. we‟ve picked up another ship. It meant that somebody . and yet too dangerous for words. Spock .” “I‟m flattered.” muttered the Captain. and would be suppressed if they attempted to begin one. to simultaneously suppress insurrection and display the might of the Klingon Empire to its tributary worlds.unlike the Federation. It is far too unlikely that an entire sector fleet would enter a single system on maneuvers . “To hunt for us.” Numbly. coming out of warp in this system. Spock. They‟re bringing a whole sector fleet into this system.

Nearby was a Klingon warbird containing a captain that Kirk was finding herself grudgingly admiring.” Uhura wisely kept her mouth shut about how she‟d done that . Veronica sighed softly. Nothing like having to prove your reputation the hard way. as did Spock. their sensors. Veronica growled. Uhura looked at Spock.there aren‟t even this many full-class warbirds in an entire sector fleet. “The test that the Commander created is not only inherently unfair.Chapter 9 Veronica looked at the giant fleet of Klingon Warbirds gathering in the system with a sense of growing foreboding that she tried her best not to communicate to the rest of the bridge crew. One shoulder down.” Veronica grinned. “Kobayashi Maru?” All of the gold-shirted officers on the bridge nodded. “Somebody set us up! That‟s the only way that they could have this many warbirds searching for the Enterprise. because it does not model any tactical condition that a Starfleet cadet is ever likely to see in service. I argued this to the Commandant . but to undermine their trust in their crew. doubt themselves. and ultimately in themselves. If the crew can see how scared you are. doubt their ship. Veronica remembered arguing in Commandant Barnett‟s office. with the impassive Commander Spock standing next to her. then Kirk.some of the ensigns were looking a bit hopeful at Veronica‟s boast. and she did not want to terrify them again. “I‟ll see about doing just that. Now the other shoulder down. she thought. their vessel. There were over a dozen warbirds and more than twice that number of smaller birds-of-prey methodically searching this section of the asteroid belt. Uhura looked thoughtfully at Veronica. they’ll get scared too.” The massive fleet of Klingon starships hovering on the tactical display was no hallucination. If they were on the same side. and you can’t get out of this alive with a crew who doubt you. but this test is being treated as a test of command abilities. She reached into herself to borrow a little of Winona‟s steel. “I will take back every mean thing I‟ve ever said about you if you can cheat your way out of this one.” She mentally modified the argument that . then. Look relaxed. she could see herself becoming friends with Captain L'ressa. The point of this scenario seems not so much to prepare a captain to go down with their ship. I am the first cadet in Academy history to beat the Kobayashi Maru.

“On screen.” “Funny.she‟d made to the Commandant . We‟ve met before. fortunately.. Not for the purpose of ambushing a Federation Starship.someone had leaked their itinerary to the Klingons. But that is not important at the moment. In her year and a half as captain of the Enterprise. A starship‟s mission manifest. Evidence that there are factions within both of our governments that are trying to precipitate a needless war between our peoples. Veronica had last seen her months ago at Venar IV. why would . however. “Any war we can win is not a needless war. Veronica had never seen a Klingon warbird approach like this.Nothing short of a deep betrayal of Starfleet or a formal declaration of war could gather this many Warbirds in one place. was classified top secret . shadowing at least two of her heavy disruptors from the Enterprise‟s hull. Veronica had never known a Klingon to want to talk.” “Yes. What is important is that a war between the Empire and the Federation is a war that neither of us right now can win.” “I have some evidence that you undoubtedly want. A dangerous thing even for Enterprise‟s original configuration. “She‟s at maximum emissions concealment and her weapons are down. We have not. Sulu called out. met when your fleet was looking for me.” Even in a disadvantageous position. It was moving with purpose . It‟s the Reprisal.definitely a Warbird. we have. Veronica felt the need to assert herself somehow. Fortunately. we have a positive ident on one Klingon in visual range. Also. she‟s hailing us on a tight-beam line-of-sight comm signal. “Arm phasers and prepare to fire.” Captain L'ressa‟s vessel. “Captain. Which leads to the question. though. especially for an informationgathering mission behind enemy lines. “This is Captain L'ressa. but it sure seemed like this one did.” Veronica composed herself in the captain‟s chair. She was being careful to approach in a way that robbed her of the most advantageous firing lines. L'ressa.. didn‟t seemed offended. Veronica squinted at a tiny chip of light in the distance. I thought needless war was a Klingon stock in trade. just that she was here. the Warbirds didn‟t actually know where the Enterprise was. Captain Kirk.” Something didn‟t seem right. doubly so with the additional heavy phasers added to her hull.

they‟re asking for your recommendation before moving Kuznetsov in. I can lay low until my representatives argue my case to the High Council.” “There is a starbase hidden in this system. “You understand Klingons more than you let on. If you break it. L'ressa nodded. “My trust in your hands. One to which I need an answer. Remember that. “Additionally.‟ as have I. I happen to enjoy living. you won‟t live to see tomorrow. You and I are both inconvenient women to some in our respective fleets. I will give you a minimum-energy trajectory to the base. weapons disarmed.” Veronica nodded.” Veronica nodded. I just got it back from Commander Uhura.they would assume that I was the traitor they have been told I was. There are false accusations of treason that will take me some time to correct. Captain?” “Smart woman. Captain. they would kill me and everyone on board my ship before I entered communications range. USS Kuznetsov and USS Endeavour task forces are less than fifteen hours away. As I happen to enjoy living. Captain.” Hannity cut channel. I would wager that you have taken at least some difficulty in your career for failing to „know your place. “Captain. I agree to a temporary alliance between us. fifteen minutes ago. Veronica Kirk. I propose a truce between us.” L'ressa smirked. If I approached them shieldsdown. I would have asked the same question in your shoes. If I approached shields up and weapons hot I would never get a word in .” . too. it belongs to a rival to my clan.” On the main viewscreen. “I see your logic. until we can find out what‟s going on. and raiding it can be plausibly pawned off as part of an inter-clan war. Reprisal out. To answer it: The men on those warbirds are likely to shoot first and ask questions never.” “How do I know you‟re not going to offer them the Enterprise on a platter in exchange for a full abandonment of charges. time I do not actually have right now.” Veronica nodded. If I can get clear of this. until we are both able to warp out of this star system. in a submissive posture. and we can beam down together and find what we need. as do you. Captain. As ranking officer on scene. we received an encrypted message from Starfleet. however. “I suggest finding our way out together.someone in our own governments wish to commit to a war that will fatally weaken both of our people?” “A very good question. As luck would have it. comms traffic from the flag Captain indicates that I am being considered a target as well.

” “I was in the class right behind him. That scenario had been fallen upon by some senior officer and expanded far. and we‟re trying to prevent one. seemed skeptical. a blue-shirt. Captain.“easy” was not a way that Spock could comfortably classify any part of the Captain‟s life since the Narada incident.” As the ship glided down the planet‟s gravity well. .” Easy? thought Spock.” “Who?” Spock listened. You know that‟s really a dude. and if you ask me. When Spock had originally programmed the Kobayashi Maru scenario. What Veronica Kirk had gone through to retain command of the Enterprise had increased Spock‟s opinion of her by several notches . That is a fuckin‟ dude.” His neighbor. very carefully to make sure that the ship didn‟t give away her precise position to the Klingon fleet.” Hannity worked the communications console for a moment. “No fuckin‟ way.“Tell them to stand by on our side of the border. The systems he was managing at the moment were the Enterprise‟s emissions controls. A red-shirted ensign with dark hair was complaining to his neighbor. he had meant it as an exercise to teach cadets that sometimes a captain‟s fate is to go down with their vessel. He had never expected to see his own programmed parameters come to life like this. Commander Spock was diligently working the sciences console. but it was hardly easy. somewhere . One can say many things about a transitioning. and that meant a lot of difference.but they didn‟t know where. Bringing a major battlegroup across the Klingon border will precipitate a war. also an ensign. “Fuckin‟ Captain. and they were being managed very. They knew the Enterprise was out here. Except they hadn‟t been pinned down yet. “Message away. “He‟s gonna fuck it up anyway. Two ensigns were grumbling at the next station. far beyond its original purpose into a major exam for the senior-year command curriculum. he tried to get off easy. And being a woman in the men‟s club that is the Starfleet of the present day was not an easy thing either.

blue texted to red. “Why don‟t we talk about your attitude problems after we‟ve extricated ourselves from this mess. The Klingon fleet is out there and the Captain would be extremely disappointed in us if she returned to the Enterprise only to find us caught unawares by the Klingon fleet. which his ranting redshirted colleague was completely oblivious to.. no sir!” “Then I suggest that you keep bigotry in your quarters.” Red looked fit to burst. dude.” Spock and the Captain had him in a perfect pincer. There is no room for it on the bridge. The four years between her age and that of the new ensigns on the bridge meant a lot of maturity. and he‟s right behind you.was palpable. you have the conn. gentlemen and ladies. Commander Spock.” Chekov and Veronica headed for the turbolift as Commander Spock got up from his science station to assume the center seat... After she left. His terror at being called out by the First Officer . Plus I hear she‟s kinda tight with Commander Spock. “Perhaps you gentlemen would like to share your words with the entire bridge?” Redshirt‟s face suddenly matched the color of his jersey. While the Captain is not going to start hostilities.” Veronica had one arm on each of the young ensigns‟ shoulders. we did not survive the Narada incident by abandoning our tactical readiness..” “Yessir!” “Gentlemen. “Ma‟am!” squeaked the blueshirted ensign.. “Continue scanning. and he was clueless to the extreme. but wisely held his tongue. just sayin Veronica shook her head. They are . And keep an eye on the Reprisal. No fuckin‟ way. who had a reputation for being the most aggressive grader in the whole school . “Seriously. Blueshirt‟s eyes were widening in alarm. “Um. you‟re with me. or Commander Spock slowly turning. Spock cleared his throat.. And did they really think she couldn’t hear everything that happened on her bridge? “Ensign Chekov.and a former instructor at the Academy. dude if thats not a chick im blind an deaf.The redshirted ensign didn‟t seem to see the Captain casually walking up behind him.

While I am in astrometrics.” Uhura looked braced. I feel that I can do more in that venue than on the bridge to ensure the Enterprise‟s continued existence.” The bridge crew went to work.still a Klingon vessel. . and while not at war with the Klingon Empire. the bridge is yours. the Federation is hardly friends with them.” “Aye-aye. Sir. “I will be leaving the bridge shortly to work with my team in astrometrics to continue tracking the Klingon vessels. Commander. Spock turned to Commander Uhura.

Chapter 10 Veronica.” The security officers stuffed the Klingon into a footlocker. Chekov. If Starfleet doesn‟t hear back from me in five. they‟ll send the fleet in after me. then. moving so her weapon covered them. “If I‟m not terribly rusty in my tlhingan’hol. a man in his late thirties with some grey at his temples (whom Veronica thought looked a little fatherly. Captain?” L'ressa‟s voice was arch and rich. She was careful in her advances.” The two captains moved carefully deeper into the base. Instead of any of this. Captain Kirk. and Veronica fished a key out of his pocket. She seemed quite content with the situation.” Veronica said. L‟ressa watched Veronica‟s physical attitude. and L‟ressa suddenly found herself wondering how many other Starfleet captains took ground combat this seriously. and your key to escape lies in an enemy captain who has every reason to want to see you hang from a gibbet on their capital world. Put Sleeping Beauty here somewhere he‟s not going to wake up any time soon and alert the base that we‟re here. it was L'ressa and two of her marines. Captain. we‟re not just going to suffocate him. moving only when she had another crew member covering her back.” . Her eyes were constantly darting to potential ambush points ahead. Veronica said. There are about twenty ways this could go sour. “A wise caution. She was surprisingly impressive. L‟ressa looked skeptical at this. A quick phaser double-tap put a Klingon technician on the ground. this is an all-access key to every technical area in this base. The older security officer. constantly keeping her phaser pointed ahead of her to cut off anyone trying to cross their path or set up a crossfire. and two security men materialized inside an unused cargo bay in the base. Let‟s make time of the essence. “There‟s a Federation battle fleet fifteen hours from here. heavily stunned. a little like Admiral Pike) said. with a whole Klingon battlefleet looking for you. the harsh red of Klingon transporters flared and they instinctively protected themselves. as she moved. or overconfident? Your ship is deep inside enemy space. Are you naive. “Captain took the risk to make sure he‟d still be alive.” She was bluffing. Fortunately. but she‟d made bigger bluffs pay off before. “The thought had crossed my mind. A moment later. L‟ressa seemed to buy it. one of them very seriously used a utility punch to make sure he had some unobstructed airholes. “Did you think we weren‟t going to show up.

” Veronica hated the metallic finish of her phaser pistol.Veronica flipped her phaser back to the kill setting. “Keep that in mind. She put her phaser away and appropriated the sidearm of the Klingon guard. would have been a smart response. they would . which was sensibly leatherwrapped. She had complained vocally to Starfleet Command. So far. either. but before she could shoot him. Seeking cover. we don‟t have that luxury. not charging. no response. She stepped deftly aside. His partner turned and instinctively charged. . L‟ressa did instead.” She shot a guard in the back. “I detest stupidity. Captain Kirk. requisitioned Marine phasers for the Enterprise.and in combat. When her palms got sweaty . sweeping the Klingon‟s legs out from under him. “From here in.” She became slick and difficult to work with. The touch-sensitive firing point at the top of the grip wasn‟t as useful as a real trigger. bat‟leth extended to try to skewer Veronica.

making things very tense.and that anything was probably something dangerous. she unfastened the insignia badge from her uniform and tossed it a few meters away. The Enterprise had been in orbit for four hours now. for Lieutenant Commander Nyota Uhura. Red alert! Raise shields!” The Enterprise‟s shields were just coming up as a massive blast of gravel struck her. but they all had to work together. and an incredibly loud cacaphony of debris struck the upper hull. The sizzling thump of a phaser-charred body hitting the deck indicated that she‟d hit her mark. Veronica and L‟ressa simultaneously ducked for cover. and returned fire. Uhura saw something glittering in Enterprise‟s orbital path. There was no way the Klingons didn‟t know she was up here.” The sound of several hand weapons powering up underscored her words.. “Wait. died. The phasers . “What did we just shoot!?” she asked. They held.. Rocks bounced off the hull. and Uhura‟s tension level was growing rapidly. turned in her direction. Veronica saw the green light of a charging energy blast. shuddered. Creeping forward. Right now. she turned the corpse just enough to see a Vulcanoid‟s ears. The other figure. spooked. Standing watch in the bridge was many things. Romulans. strained.Chapter 11 Veronica and L‟ressa were covering each other‟s backs while simultaneously covered by their security teams. as quietly as possible. Just then. “Oh. Nobody trusted each other worth very much. L‟ressa crept up behind her. Romulan. Then the shooting began. but nothing had happened yet. Peeking out. chipping big gouges into the pearl-white thermaglaze. Veronica saw a silhouette a few frames ahead of her. it was that special combination of boring and tense that meant that anything could happen . Now this is where it gets complicated. It clattered on the floor. She ducked out of the way just in time to avoid having her head burnt off.

near Sickbay. The Klingons know we‟re in orbit – not hard. she saw the critically damaged viewscreen give way..the viewscreen in this room was a full projected representation of sensor data.the only weapon that had ever penetrated all the way to Sickbay of a Federation ship had been Nero‟s heavy penetrator missiles. Commander – we have two squadrons of MaWo-58 Firebat fighters launching into orbit. Undamaged it was stressed against fifty atmospheres in both directions.” “I am on the Flag Bridge already. The breaking sounds. Uhura last. I am. close and seal bridge doors. Air started softly hissing through the cracks. It duplicated some of the main bridge‟s stations but its primary purpose was control and coordination for an entire fleet. compared to the main bridge‟s fifteen. “Computer. it had only been intended for a crew of eight. All weapons are online and ready. “They are quite a bit worse. Horrified. the bridge is thoroughly compromised but undamaged. Commander. Stay calm. the bridge crew abandoned their stations as the viewscreen data readouts flickered and died.were hidden behind heavy hull shutters when not in use. venting the bridge to space. indicated that it had been damaged beyond its ability to successfully contain one. which widened and deepened rapidly.. Uhura to Spock. “Good. authorization Uhura. there was a full holotank between the command.” The flag bridge was deep in the saucer. reconvene on the flag least for several decades. however.” Uhura walked rapidly at the head of the bridge team toward the turbolift. and the shield grid is unharmed despite the hull being severely scoured. Hopefully. reading red lights in the gunport retraction mechanisms.” The flag bridge was close and cramped. “Everybody. One-Alpha-Two-FoxtrotThree!” As she spoke the last word. We do however have some shields back after the gravel attack. They were in theory impregnable . helm and navigation stations as well as a main viewscreen . . Tactical data was much improved. however. seeing cracks begin to develop in the window. both rooms were built into the center of a nexus of hull beams and protected by layers of splinter curtains and airtight protection. Things just got worse. a 700 metre long starship in orbit can be seen from a planet surface with the naked eye. they may be jammed or it may be a malfunction of the detection system. but nothing was protecting the bridge window.” “Damage control report?” “Considerably less than it could be. A brief but intense shriek of escaping air hissed through the bridge doors before the airlock seal went into effect. waiting for you to relieve me. “Everybody out! Clear the bridge!” she shouted. the Federation wouldn‟t be encountering those again .

but very very focused. . firing into the ship‟s shields.” Veronica flipped open her communicator. “Stand down.. The Klingons had hurt the Enterprise on her watch and she was going to make sure that didn‟t happen again. and Sulu‟s return fire crippled most of the squadron. Commander Uhura stood next to Commander Spock near the center seat. The retractable shutters tried to pull away from the weapons ports and stopped – so heavily had they been damaged by the gravel that they simply jammed.” Uhura quickly briefed Veronica on what had just happened. I leave the bridge in your highly capable hands. so. The ship shuddered as the shields took a hit from two fighters‟ torpedoes. Great. I should return to the astrometrics lab. an unlucky fighter hit one of the shutters and was cut in half. “Arm phasers and fire!” She wasn‟t angry. we can’t have them doing any more damage. There‟s a big base. Captain’s going to come back to a broken ship. It bloomed into a very brief fireball and guttered out in the blackness of space. and a lot of planet down there. but watch. with two dozen data points representing the approaching fighters. A few moments later it flared and collapsed into a shooting star as the heat from reentry overwhelmed first its shields and then its fuselage. The tactical plot showed Enterprise and Reprisal orbiting fairly close together. here they come…” The fighters swept over the Enterprise‟s hull. come in away team. but not before Sulu swatted them out of space. The remaining fighters fled.” Sulu nodded. “Away team.” “Enterprise to surface.rather than a wall-sized window and heads-up display. One cut its turn too close and bounced from the Enterprise‟s shields toward the planet. “Jettison gunport shutters!” Explosive bolts blew the shutters clear of the Enterprise.” Uhura nodded. “Commander. “We won‟t be caught unawares by another gravel launch.. “Commander. Well. Kirk here.

This base is far. If a war is going to begin.” Lieutenant Greene swallowed. and several now dead Romulans. rung his bell for a couple of minutes. far too quiet for a Klingon base less than two light years from the Federation border. Enterprise out. I don’t like this.” “Keep alert. “. Mr.” “Aye-aye. and let me know if anything changes. This may start a war.” Rear Admiral Bill Nelson looked sharply at his communications officer. Veronica hated the smell of burnt flesh. That was the first indication of life in a few hours. Lieutenant. Veronica mused. Commander. Aye aye. I must protest! Enterprise requested we stand by. no body temperature signatures. I think we just got hit by a drone attack using modified conventional fighters.” As she closed her communicator‟s lid. we should let it happen when the Federation chooses.“Life sign scanners didn‟t show anything in those craft. all told. Admiral. The security officers were patching up one of their Klingon counterparts‟ wounds. no nothing. “Sir. The other was now beyond healing. Captain.. Chekov shook his head that last Romulan had gotten a good punch in on him. having taken three plasma bolts in the chest. USS Kuznetsov (NCC-1695) Klingon space The USS Kuznetsov battlegroup sped through subspace toward the Enterprise. “The Klingons will start a war with or without us. before Veronica had put him down.. .” Klingon outpost Cargo bay There were six crates. and it was too violent and sudden to go without a followup attack. No traces of oxygen.

and that‟s just going to be the start of the story. Uhura had told her that the main bridge was out of operation. opening the back of the weapon and pulling out the embedded type 1 phaser. Captain. USS Enterprise (NCC-1701) “Captain on the bridge!” “As you were. “Enterprise. let alone fired.” Veronica nodded. These are brand-new disruptor rifles. well. we should be able to convince our fleets to stand down. between all the materiel evidence.” Veronica noted with dismay the cramped conditions of the flag bridge.“I‟m not that fond of it either.” . Kirk to Enterprise. We‟ve got a whole crate of phasers down here. plus cargo. She took a rag and picked up one of the pistols. “I don‟t think their presence here is in any way a coincidence. “Wow. this is the Captain. look at these.” Laressa nodded solemnly.” Boxed inside were dozens of Starfleet phasers. we‟re seeing ships on both sides charging weapons. They‟re so new they‟ve never even seen use. They were brand new. still faintly sheened with the oil that meant that they had never been touched.” She disappeared in a spiral of light and sound. Take two crates of disruptors and one of the phasers and I‟ll take the rest. but we‟ll deal with that when we have a few moments to.” L‟ressa nodded. “This is a dangerous game the Romulans are playing. I think they knew that there was a risk of this going badly for them before they started it. Which makes me worry what kind of contingency plans they have in effect. both pistols and rifles. tens of thousands are about to die. just like that crate of phasers. different. The Klingons are redeploying to respond to them. “Captain. four to beam up. “The USS Kuznetsov and nine other cruisers plus twenty frigates are in system.” “Agreed. but she hadn‟t expected the different topography of the flag bridge to be this. I‟m tagging it for beamout.” Veronica Kirk opened the crate. If we don‟t do something and do it now. Both were fully charged.

.” The two vessels jumped from where they were.” Sulu nodded from the helm console. one.. course laid in..“Don‟t worry.” She tapped a communications control on her chair... Warp Factor 6.. Commander. I am very ready. two. Captain. preparing to stop a war between our two peoples.” “Three. now. “Aye-aye. Captain L‟Ressa and I both found something that our fleets will be very. get us between the Federation and Klingon fleets. to the most dangerous place in the entire system: Directly under the guns of two antagonistic battlefleets! . “Captain.” “On my signal.” “Heard and understood. are we ready to do this?” “I never thought I would be standing side by side with a Starfleet Captain. very interested in seeing.

a senseless.” “Enterprise. “Enterprise. this is Admiral Bill Nelson in Kuznetsov. while Enterprise opposed the Starfleet ships.she prayed that this was accurate now. This is Captain Veronica Olivia Kirk. Start a shooting war that could bring both of our nations down. Captain Cartwright didn‟t believe that you were still here. a man‟s voice broke in onto the channel. or learn what‟s really behind this. “Enterprise? Destroying one of the flagships of the Federation fleet should be a true pleasure. “Enterprise to fleet flags.. Our best guess is that these Romulan agents want the Federation and Klingon Empire to exhaust themselves in a war with each other. Enterprise stood between the Kuznetsov fleet and the even larger fleet of Klingon warships. Our analysis confirms yours. “Evidence that was fabricated and planted . wondered Veronica. speak your mind. and confisacated six crates of phaser and disruptor weapons.” Cartwright!? What did he have to do with all this. I swear it on my honor as a Klingon officer. but then L‟ressa broke in on the conversation.. Reprisal was behind being set up by Romulan agents. this is Kuznetsov control. Kuznetsov fleet will back up the . Damned good to see you people alive. think for yourself!” After a long pause.. Veronica had always been taught that one Starfleet captain armed with the truth could stop a war ..” “As a Klingon traitor! We saw the evidence!” The Captain seemed less than convinced.” “A war . But make it quick. Kirk.and poorly fabricated at that! Captain.Chapter 12 Dedicated to the memory of Mike Ford.” “Don‟t you want to hear what I have to say first?” The Klingon commander paused for a few moments. “. but he seemed to be trying very hard to convince himself . We killed one such agent while we were on the surface of the third planet of this system.if the anger Veronica heard in his voice had anything to say about it (and it usually did). facing down the Klingons. “What Kirk says is true. stupid war . good job. So it‟s your choice.” The Klingon commander sneered. My gunners will not hold off forever.

Another time. “Commander.Enterprise no matter what happens. and to end a battle to save an Empire is no defeat.” “Good work. showing teeth. Lieutenant Hannity‟s voice broke in. It‟s the Klingons‟ move. We work together surprisingly well. we will stand down for today. side by side. perhaps. she hadn‟t expected to hear it from a fleet commander on an open channel. Believe us both when we say we are true and loyal daughters of our own respective homeworlds . Hell. the Cardassians. Consider the opportunity you will be opening up for the Romulans. “I‟m sorry.” Uhura walked past her with mocking dignity. “Captain. Kirk. The klingonaase dialect was currently out of favor in the Empire. there will be a glorious battle between the Empire and the Federation . she grinned up at Uhura.” “Until next time. Captain.” The Enterprise turned back toward the waiting fleet. Veronica sank back into the Admiral‟s chair. “Captain .they certainly would see the opportunity to sell weapons to the highest bidder or just any party that wanted to settle a few scores with some old enemies. Kirk‟s eyebrows went up. Enterprise out. her eyes burning into the viewscreen ahead of her.” Veronica stood solidly on the flag bridge. to stop a war that will benefit neither of our nations. Captain Pag‟iH. Wearily. when I give you the bridge. “Today was not such a good day to die. Captain Kirk.” Behind her. Perhaps there is hope for peace between our people. L‟ressa.” As the channel went down.” Veronica nodded.but today is not the day for it. „Destroying an Empire to win a war is no victory. Admiral Nelson reports that the fleet is standing down from offensive to defensive posture. Until next time. Next time I‟ll ask the Klingons to give us a warning before they shoot a ton of gravel into our path. the Tzen‟kethi.” . even the Ferengi might get into the act . I expect to come back to the same bridge I left. Would the Klingons accept the offered end of hostilities today? Would there be a war today? “Kahless once said. L‟ressa smiled over the commlink.and neither of us wants to see them burn. Consider the consequences that a war between our governments will have. after a Federation officer and a Klingon commander stand together.

with Enterprise at the vanguard. Almost on the opposite side of the planet was Utopia Planitia. Half a billion people lived on the world below. and he seemed to have not lost any of his impressive small craft handling skills. he was flying again! His examiner noted everything from the back seat . . and a new shipyard set to open in a little under a decade. can you believe that? I was born on Earth. The Kuznetsov‟s battle fleet. “All right. Admiral Pike brought the shuttle to a halt in orbit around the Red Planet. “I‟ve been on starships my whole adult life. turned and headed for Starbase 12.” Christopher Pike grinned back to him. Starfleet‟s Advanced Propulsion Group was below as well. I‟m glad to have you back in the center seat so they don‟t blame me when the ship gets blown up. After the tense standoff. “Son. Expertly handled.” Veronica laughed.Uhura sat down at the bridge crypto station. and I‟ve never seen Mars through the window of a shuttlecraft.” He boosted the small craft toward Mars at a high percentage of c.this man had been off of all space duty for almost a year and a half. at Hellas Planitia. Its pilot effortlessly moved from snap-roll to cuban to hammerhead without showing any emotion on his face but pure joy. looking almost childlike in that moment. it felt good to laugh. the site of Starfleet‟s Advanced Starship Design Bureau. it was being put through demanding aerobatic routines without pause. I think we‟ve seen enough for one day. one of the fringe benefits of being an Admiral is that nobody gets to tell you when your joyride‟s finished. and so did the rest of the bridge crew.and I‟ve never seen Mars except through a telescope. I think it‟s time to head back to the barn. in the Mojave . but he seemed content to press his helmet‟s facebowl against the canopy glass.” Several minutes later.I grew up less than twenty miles from one of Earth‟s premier spaceports . He unbuckled his seat harness and for a moment. the observer thought he was going to pop the canopy and spacewalk. Earth space A small craft hurtled through the void. “Thanks. Admiral. or on a starship‟s bridge. His leg throbbed a little from time to time but that was okay. Well it‟s time to fix that.

“Mars is beautiful. from that aerobatics display you just put on. and a warning to alien galactic empires that the Federation would be ever vigilant and ever powerful in defense of its space. The planet rolling past below was still rust-red. the jump from Mars to Earth was mere moments. I don‟t see any reason. Mars is beautiful. USS Excalibur (NCC-1705) Deep Space Captain Lemuel Cartwright read the report by Captain Kirk on her mission into Klingon space and smiled a little. sir. It meant that Constitution-class ships were as tough as they were advertised to be. for indulging me. that we can‟t recertify you immediately for space duty. but that would have been unseemly.Starfleet officers shared an infectious joy at seeing the stars and planets of the universe for themselves. but patches of verdant forest were beginning to take up presence. but Kuznetsov battlegroup had been closer to the scene at the time.” He turned his shuttle Earthward and activated its Warp microcell.” Pike wanted to shout for pure joy. But this news called for calm acknowledgment. converting imported carbon dioxide into oxygen. Commander. . If emergency circumstances had permitted. It‟s been a rough eighteen months. though.” “Not a problem. “Thank you. Acting like a grown-up little kid looking at Mars was ok .” he mused. As for yourself. and that their captains and crews were as strong as they had been intended to be. Cartwright was glad that the Enterprise had survived. Admiral. Only a few moments more. At Warp 3. Commander. then the professional in Rear Admiral (lower half) Christopher Pike took over again. A sharp new tip of the Federation Starfleet‟s spear. Was it actually true that the Romulan Empire was influencing the faction of Starfleet officers who favored war as a permanent solution to the problem of the Klingon Empire? And that the Romulans had been falsifying Federation intelligence? He wasn‟t certain. Cartwright was concerned by some of Kirk‟s conclusions. Magnificent desolation. and he pressed himself back into the seat and buckled back up. “Thank you again. he‟d been prepared to jump the Excalibur in after her and help. and in a half-century or so she‟ll just be magnificent. which was being released into the atmosphere to thicken it.

Onboard. supposedly perfect . Only occasionally would starlight glint off of the black letters proclaiming the name of this vessel. Captain. Nearly forgotten by all but the most obsessive of students of the lost 1990s.” “Aye-aye... Its construction was a classic of Earth history.He put down the padd. set course for the frontier.genetically engineered. and his yeoman picked it up and carried it away to his day cabin.” Deep space It drifted. a group of modules clustered around a central core. the vessel drifted. dozens of men and women . untouched by the centuries.lay in cryogenic stasis. “Helm. Botany Bay . topped by a blunt cone.

” “Aye-aye” means “I hear the order. As the difference between “creativity” and “plagiarism” is acknowledging your sources.To commission 2259. Captain Prakash Bardhan USS Illustrious NCC-1707 . IA: 00. but since Fictionmania doesn‟t permit editing of already-uploaded files. 08. CA/Riverside. Captain Sarah Armstrong USS Yorktown NCC-1703 . “Aye” in nautical parlance means “I have heard you. Most notably.Captain Gerald Richter USS Ark Royal NCC-1704 . 05. and I intend to carry out the order.To commission 2260 Building yards are: San Francisco. in favor of a more multicultural approach. . 10. I understand the order. I will now acknowledge mine.” The list of Constitution class starships deliberately varies considerably from the traditional list of these vessels used in the “Prime” Star Trek universe. Captain Thalev II USS Richelieu NCC-1709 .Endnotes: A terminology note: Throughout this story.To commission 2259.To commission 2260 USS Defiant NCC-1711 . 12. Harland & Wolff. 13. for a total of 50 Constitution class starships. characters use “Aye-aye” rather than “Aye. are as follows USS Constitution NCC-1700 . 06. it omits Constellation and Republic entirely. Captain” to acknowledge an order before carrying it out . 11. 04.this is intentional.To commission 2260 USS Almirante Grau NCC-1712 .Captain Lemuel Cartwright USS Hood NCC-1706 . these ships‟ hull numbers are considerably out of sequence and should belong to other classes. The original run of 14 Constitution class starships. Captain Morita Sanjuro USS Kiev NCC-1708 . is contracted for 36 units. VA: 03.Captain Raven Silver USS Excalibur NCC-1705 . 01. It also omits some names traditionally included.To commission 2260 USS Bayern NCC-1710 .To commission 2259. 02. in this universe. These endnotes were attached to Story #1 on Archive Of Our Own. Belfast: 09.Captain Johannes Westergaard USS Enterprise NCC-1701 . Sir” or “Aye.To commission 2260 USS Vikrant NCC-1713 .To commission 2260. Lead yard is San Francisco Starfleet Shipbuilding Division. they‟re going on Story #2 as well. Flight II of the Constitution class begins with NCC-1714 Achernar. 07. Newport News.Captain Veronica Kirk USS Lexington NCC-1702 .

and indeed Captain Kirk herself. Ani DiFranco.J. Zoe. the love interest for Captain Kirk in this story. George. and to the highest morals that their world aspires. proofreading. Abrams for creating such an enticing universe to play in. Second. as well as Bill. Julie O. Chris. Nichelle. John. and tell a good story in the process. and so many others. Betsy. Audre Lorde. Jimmy and Simon. And fifth. beta reading. Karl. and do so within the rules. my beloved partner. Third. this story may not even exist without some other writing inspirations.. capable women who fight for justice. Penny SautereauFife and Lauren Mitchell (notalwaysweak on AO3) have contributed feedback. Walter. I should acknowledge the influence of various feminist writers upon my voice. including Rita Mae Brown.. . numerous writing partners and friends including Desiree Arceneaux. both Captain Alicia Parnell. an eternal debt of gratitude is owed to Gene Roddenberry and J. Anton.First. DeForest. In some ways. Zachary. who has been amazingly patient with her hard-writing wife. Fourth. are both spiritual descendents of Agent Burns and her team: Strong. Julia Serano.‟s Julieverse being chief among them. Leonard. I use Star Trek for the same purpose as did Gene Roddenberry for twenty-five years: To comment on the social injustices of the modern world. and occasionally a few good lines to this work. particularly the lower-magic end of her world‟s spectrum represented by Special Agent Ally Burns and the Protector series. and point to solutions. encouragement.

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