Captain's Log, Stardate 8418.3: The Enterprise-A's shake-down cruise is almost over, and if any part of her remains to be shaken down from where it belongs I don't know what it is. We'll be back to Earth in ten days, and Scott will have a few weeks to put her back together while I go camping with McCoy and then try to scare us up a full crew complement.
"Let's see what she's got, he said," said Kirk when he was certain the log recorder was off. "Even I've heard Scotty say it."
"It's been his litany since the second day," McCoy observed.
"I appreciate the Federation President's gesture as much as anyone," said Kirk, "but I wonder whether he checked into the ship's condition before ordering the registration- and name- change."
"My sources tell me," said Spock from the science station, "that the President was assured by this ship's originally-assigned captain that no Constitution class ship already in service was available for reregistration, and that this, originally to be the NCC-1786 Excellence, was in perfect condition for trial runs."
"Assured?" Kirk asked. "What captain was that?"
"Captain Alexander Styles."
Kirk and McCoy exchanged a look. "That explains it," McCoy said.
There was a beep from Spock's board. "Captain," Spock said, "there is a spaciotemporal disturbance on the ship."
"Security alert," Kirk called.
"Unnecessary, sir," said Spock. "Futher data show it is the TARDIS, materializing inside the detention area."
"In the detention area?" Kirk said. "Why would the Doctor land in the detention area?"
"Maybe he wants to save time?" McCoy suggested.
"Security to the detention area anyway," said Kirk. "They can show him to the bridge."
Spock suddenly sat slightly straighter at his station. "The Doctor is no longer in detention, sir. He seems to have broken out."
"Broken out? That isn't good. Have that security detail check out the detention area instead," said Kirk. He could still have had the Doctor escorted to the bridge, but he wanted to see whether the Time Lord was any better at finding his way around the new Enterprise than Kirk was.
The Klingon High Council is less called to order than beaten into submission. Chancellor Gorkon wiped the blood off his knuckles in what the rest of the Council considered a dainty manner (any of them would have left it there) and asked, "New business?"
"I have new business." Even the rowdiest of the Councillors quieted in respect as the D'Har master Koloth rose to speak. Gorkon cringed inside, however. New business from Admiral Kor's faction could only mean at least a minor setback to his own long term plans.
"Speak," said Gorkon in a commanding growl.
"Recently I have availed myself of the Chancellor's advice," Koloth started.
This generated stunned murmurs among the crowd. A D'Har master allowing himself to be schooled by someone from outside the warrior caste? But Gorkon was more sophisticated and knew Koloth's circumlocutions of old.
"Yes, yes, my Warriors," said Koloth, raising his hands to quiet them again, "I know, I know. But even a master may learn. Gorkon tells us to learn from history. I have been examining history, friends."
The room became silent enough that Gorkon could hear the assemblage trying to imagine Koloth with a book in his hand. History, he thought. What could he have found to serve Kor in - Oh no! Not that!
"Do you know what history tells me?" Koloth said, sweeping his silent audience with his eyes. "Do you know how many times the accursed Organians have acted to enforce their accursed treaty between us and the accursed Federation in the sixteen accursed years since they chained us with it?"
Gorkon maintained his composure while his hopes and his heart sank to the floor.
"NONE!" Koloth shouted.
Now the murmuring started up again, enthusiastic and hopeful as they began to see.
"For sixteen years we have crawled like Federation dogs, 'negotiating' and 'developing successfully'. After being beat down with a single whipping! Is this the Klingon way?" Koloth exhorted.
"NO!" The Councillors were all on their feet now, even those who had passed up the preliminary brawl for the bloodwine barrel.
"Kruge showed us the way!" Gorkon wondered whether Koloth would mention how Kruge met his end. "Kruge acted for the preservation of our race," Koloth declaimed, the phrase borrowed from the chronicles of Kahless, "and no thrice-damned lightbulbs appeared to snatch his victory away!"
No, Gorkon thought, all that it took was James T. Kirk. But Koloth didn't seem to think that was salient to his point.
Someone else did, though, in a roundabout way. Karamag thrust his mug of bloodwine into the air. "Kruge was a renegade, a madman, with no official sanction for his actions, but who nevertheless deserved better than to be ruthlessly cut down in the prime of his life!" No one laughed harder than Karamag, whose very job it was to spout such Federationisms in their own halls.
Koloth waited until the din was over, and spoke softly again to cultivate their concentration. "They thought to cow us with a single show of power. They thought to reduce us to skulking in the shadows and talking, on the occasions that wouldn't work. They thought we would be satisfied with this forever. They thought! I say the time for thought is over!"
Gorkon saw the next ten minutes unfolding before him, the next ten days, the next ten years. His quiet, slow plan to bring peace between the Empire and the Federation, of which no other person knew but one, was now doomed, failing some unforeseeable event. "What," he asked Koloth inevitably, "do you propose?"
Koloth wordlessly surrendered the floor to someone who had just entered the council chamber. It was Admiral Kor, resplendent in full ceremonial regalia, all the more resplendent for the scars that showed he'd worn his full dress uniform into battle on occasion. He strode to the center of the council chamber as if he owned it - Gorkon knew, looking from Councillor to Councillor, that, for now, he did - stopped, and turned a full circuit of the room to meet the eyes of everyone there before he spoke.
"This is what we will do," Kor said.
"I see you're fully functional again," the Doctor said to Spock, by way of greeting to all.
This sixth personality of the Time Lord was the most abrasive to Kirk, and to everyone. He was a large man, in all five dimensions, with curly fair hair. He wore what might have been a fashionable ensemble in the nineteenth century but for the garish color scheme. The floppy blue polka dot bow tie was the least of its mismatched wonder; and it was topped off with a frock coat that was a patchwork of warm colors, largely bright shades of red or pink that clashed with each other, with a spot or two of plaid green just so that there was no ascetic that could possibly be left unoffended. He was as acerbic in manner as his outfit was visually - at least usually he was. Now for once he appeared to be in an unqualified good humor.
"He's not the only one," McCoy responded to the Doctor's comment, pointing to the command chair, or to Kirk, or both.
Kirk waved his hands at his surroundings, taking in the whole ship. "For saving the world," he explained to the Doctor, "I got demoted to captain."
"Congratulations!" cried the Doctor. Ordinarily he felt, or at least affected, the same disdain with the military mind toward Kirk as toward all Enterprise captains past (according to Spock) and future (Kirk was certain). But today his ebullience extended even to Kirk.
"Thank you," said Kirk.
"What've you been up to?" McCoy asked the Doctor.
"Well," explained the Doctor, "I've just learnt that I've been stripped of the rank of Lord President of the High Council of Time Lords."
"Congratulations!" said Kirk, deducing that this was the cause of his good mood as well as his unusual fellow feeling toward Kirk. From the look Spock and McCoy exchanged, they had made the same deduction.
"Usually," Kirk said, "you have a traveling companion with you."
The Doctor rolled his eyes. "You would notice the lack," he said. He was alluding to the fact that they were usually female and relatively young, which the Doctor insisted was for motivations not at all those he would ascribe to Kirk, as the first of them had been his granddaughter. "Well, Peri left me to marry someone louder than I am, and I haven't met Mel yet."
"You haven't ..." said McCoy. "How do you know who the next one's going to be if you haven't met him yet?"
"I am a time traveler, remember? Actually I suppose it would be more accurate to say that Mel hasn't yet met me." In lieu of an explanation of this statement the Doctor drew out of them and listened attentively to their list of complaints with the new Enterprise.
"Well, at least Starfleet gave us a quiet assignment for a shakedown," Kirk said in conclusion. "The Organia Sector is about the dullest starship duty there is."
END OF CHAPTER ONE
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