Reminder that Star Trek and associated characters belong to Paramount. No infringement intended, this is fan fiction starring my own character Cadence Song.
Cadence woke to a cacophony of voices in her head and the angry cry of Enterprise at red alert. She sampled the voices, picking out those she recognized and pushing others away. What had happened? They’d been on patrol for over a week with nothing to report but a few million particles of space dust and an interesting rock formation on a rogue asteroid.
Through the noise she could feel Kirk issuing commands, accompanied by Spock’s smooth compliance. The ship was answering a distress call from a ship in the next sector. Their coms were down, the message had come through as old-style Morse code.
She was out of bed before Uhura’s calm voice summoned her to the bridge. She ran a brush through her white hair, pulled on her uniform tunic and pants, and hurried for the turbolift just three doors away. She finished dressing before the doors opened and stepped out onto the bridge. Part of her had expected the hustle and bustle of the training simulator, with raised voices and sirens blaring. Instead, the sirens had been silenced and the crew was simply going about its business. Spock inclined his head at her from the science station, Uhura smiled in greeting and the security officer inside the door gave her the once over before stepping back, all in a smooth ballet of experience and discipline.
The crewman at ops stood aside and Cadence took his place, glancing over the console. They were at warp eight and climbing, with a heading that passed through the edge of the Neutral Zone to the next sector. It was a risky maneuver but she agreed with the course. Lives were at stake.
“Good morning, Lieutenant,” Kirk said.
Cadence half turned. “Morning sir, thank you sir.”
Spock stepped down beside her. “We are proceeding through the Neutral Zone to assist a vessel of unknown origin.”
“Yes, sir,” Cadence replied.
Spock arched an eyebrow. “Lieutenant, I sense you have a comment.”
Cadence shook her head and adjusted her controls. “No, sir, I reviewed the course and agree with the reasoning. I’m extending sensors to keep an eye on the Neutral Zone as we pass through.”
“Well done, Lieutenant,” Spock said.
He glanced at Kirk and proceeded around the bridge as Chekov entered through the port turbolift. His hair was messy and his jacket was undone as if he’d just woken up.
“Sorry, Keptin,” he said, relieving the night shift crewman. “There was a malfunction in the sonic shower.”
“I’m sure it had nothing to do with the Saurian brandy you were sharing with Lieutenant Torres last night,” Kirk said drily.
Chekov swiveled in his chair. “No, sir, just the headache.”
He grinned and swiveled forward, instantly reviewing his side of the console. Cadence acknowledged him with a smile and went back to her own instruments. The neutral zone was quiet, with no hint of any ships moving along their projected path. Still, she was on edge. This was the Neutral Zone, hotly contested for more than twenty years. It wasn’t unheard of for vessels to vanish without a trace along its border.
Soon, the unidentified ship appeared on her screens. She adjusted the scanners with her left hand while fine-tuning the intercept course with her right, a trick she’d learned in the simulator. The ship swam into focus and Cadence felt a moment of surprise.
“I have the ship on sensors, sir,” she said. “I’m not sure I believe what I see, though.”
“On screen, Lieutenant Song,” was Kirk’s quick reply.
She pressed another control and the main viewer changed to a long distance view of a twin-nacelle starship. One nacelle hung twisted away from the main hull and the bow of the ship was broken and shattered down to the superstructure. Still, the ship’s registry was visible on the pale grey skin NCC-415.
“Registry is SS Republic, United Earth Starfleet,” Spock said.
“That’s impossible,” Chekov said. “Republic vanished during the Earth-Romulan war over a hundred years ago!”
“It’s not the first relic we’ve encountered, Mr. Chekov. Life signs, Spock?” Kirk said.
Spock was already bent over his console. “Three are aboard, two on what I believe to be the secondary bridge, one on the engineering deck.”
Kirk rubbed his chin and leaned forward. “Song, bring us alongside her, full sensor sweep.”
“Aye, sir,” Cadence said. She could hear the questions in Kirk’s head, how had Republic survived this long, how had she gotten here, where had she been, was this a Klingon trap.
The latter was foremost in his mind as she brought Enterprise out of warp and guided it alongside the smaller vessel. To the naked eye, it looked even worse. She could see disruptor burns along the hull, as well as torpedo impacts, one of which had destroyed most of the bow structure.
She reviewed the sensor readings and read them off quietly. Kirk listened and turned to Uhura.
Uhura shook her head. “No response to hails, just the same coded message.”
Kirk stood and stepped off the command floor to the turbolift. “Have Dr. McCoy and a security team meet us in the transporter room. Come on, Spock.”
The turbolift opened and Kirk stepped inside, followed by Spock. Their eyes fell on Cadence and, in unison, they said, “You have the conn, lieutenant.”
The doors closed and Cadence stared after them. Why did she have the conn? She was the junior officer present, surely Uhura or Chekov was more qualified? Was this another test?
Chekov cleared his throat meaningfully and Cadence blinked.
“Sir?” She asked.
Chekov nodded at the center seat. “You have the conn, lieutenant.”
“Right, sorry, sir,” she said.
Cadence took the center seat while a crewman took her place at ops. The chair felt odd, like she was an interloper who didn’t belong. She squirmed to get comfortable and caught Uhura’s chuckle behind her.
“It’s a big seat to fill, lieutenant,” Uhura said softly. “The Captain wouldn’t have given it to you if you didn’t belong there. Trust yourself.”
Cadence didn’t answer, she knew no one else had heard Uhura’s voice. She half turned to send a fleeting smile by way of thanks then turned back to glance at the readouts. A light flashed on the arm of her chair to indicate a successful transport, and she acknowledged it with her thumb. Kirk and his party were successfully aboard Republic. All they could do now was wait.
She leaned back, listening to the ship around her. She’d been in command before, both in the simulator and on training missions, but those were different. This was Enterprise with the most experienced command crew in the fleet. She’d had much to do on previous missions, issuing commands and answering questions. Here, everyone knew their job, probably better than she did, and they did it with quiet efficiency that was somewhat unnerving.
A sensation caught her attention, like a tugging at her brain. She sat up and extended her senses, tasting, for lack of a better word, this new mind. No… not mind, minds! She felt the anger and hostility in them and knew instantly who they were. She slammed her hand down on the red button on her chair, sounding the alert.
“Red alert, shields full!” She yelled.
Chekov and the crewman, she thought his name was Daniels, complied on autopilot. The shields rippled across the ship just as three Klingon vessels uncloaked less than a kilometer behind Enterprise. Their disruptors fired, sending green bolts of annihilation across the void, bolts that would have pulverized Enterprise had the shields not been up. As it was, Enterprise rocked under the impact and sparks erupted from the nearby consoles, overloaded by the sudden influx of energy.
“Daniels, bring us around, keep us between them and Republic,” Cadence said. “Uhura, warn those bastards off then call the captain and let him know what’s happening!”
Uhura was speaking before Cadence had even finished giving the orders. On screen, Enterprise began a fast turn, following the lead Klingon, which Cadence recognized as a K’t’inga class battlecruiser.
“Incoming!” Chekov yelled as three torpedoes erupted from the trailing ships. Cadence gripped the arms of her chair to keep from falling as Enterprise rocked again. The com beneath her hand sounded and she pressed the stud.
“How bad is it, Scotty?” She asked.
“Song? What in blazes is happening? Where’s the captain?”
“He’s on an away mission, three Klingon K’t’inga’s are trying to kill us and I need a report, Mr. Scott!” Cadence said, fighting to keep her voice calm.
“Shields are holding, transporter’s are out and we’ve got a hull breach on deck twenty-two, sealed with breach-fields,” Scott reported. “I can have transporters in a few minutes.”
“Do we have enough auxiliary for tractor beam?”
“Barely, another hit like that and we won’t,” Scott replied.
“Great, then let’s hope we don’t get hit,” Cadence said.
She stood and leaned over Daniels’ shoulder to see the screens. “Bring us around one-seventeen mark two, z-minus twenty degrees with a ninety-degree roll port.”
Daniels looked at her like she’d grown an extra head, and Cadence pushed him out of the way to lay in the course herself just as the Klingon’s opened fire again. Enterprise lurched beneath her and rolled out of the way, narrowly avoiding the attack. She pressed in another series of commands and looked at Chekov.
“I’ve had just about enough of this, commander. Weapons free.”
Chekov nodded and stabbed at his controls with long fingers while Cadence helped Daniels back into his chair.
“I have Captain Kirk for you, sir,” Uhura said. “Voice only.”
“Status report, Lieutenant Song.” Kirk’s voice was calm and strong, a welcoming sound.
“One moment, Captain.”
She slapped the com by her hand. “Scotty, forget the tractor, I need transporters. Lock onto the captain’s party and be ready to bring them aboard.”
She closed the channel on his “aye” and glanced at the speakers overhead as if the captain could see her. “Three K’t’inga warships, sir. We’re holding our own, trying to keep them away from Republic.”
“Where did they come from, lieutenant?” Kirk asked.
“They were cloaked, sir,” Cadence replied.
“Damnedest thing I’ve ever seen, Keptin,” Chekov volunteered. “Lieutenant Song alerted us just before they fired.”
“We’ll talk about that later. Song, protect my ship, swing back around when you can, we’ve got casualties,” Kirk said.
“Aye sir, I’ll get her back to you in one piece,” Cadence replied. “Going to put a tractor beam on Republic and get you out of there.”
“Negative, lieutenant. You’re to get Enterprise out of here and come back for us when its clear, am I understood?” Kirk snapped.
Cadence paused. She could hear the thoughts of the crew around her, conflicting ideas and suggestions, all hidden just below the surface. She focused on Kirk and shook her head.
“Captain, the odds of you and the away party surviving an attack by a K’t’inga are approximately three thousand four hundred and twenty three to one. Leaving you behind is a death sentence.”
“I gave you an order, lieutenant. Protect that ship!”
The transmission cut out under another volley from the Klingons. Chekov returned fire and Enterprise’s new Mark IX phasers cut a swath through the trailing ship’s port nacelle, sending the ship spinning out of control.
“Nice shot, Mr. Chekov,” Cadence said. “Daniels, turn to heading two-twenty-three, increase speed to full impulse.”
“Aye, sir,” Daniels said.
Chekov turned. “I see vhat you’re doing, lieutenant. Captain Kirk gave us orders.”
“He left me in command, Mr. Chekov. Unless you plan to relieve me, do what I ask. I’m not leaving the captain or his party behind,” Cadence replied.
Chekov paused. “No, sir. I am not any happier with the orders.”
Cadence ignored him, instead calling the engine room once more. “Status, Scotty?”
“Transporters back and locked on Republic, I have the landing party and four lifeforms, hmanoid. We’ll have to drop shields to bring them aboard.”
“I know, Scotty, standby.”
On the main viewer Republic was growing closer and closer with every heartbeat. Cadence could feel the anxiety coming from her crewmates, the doubt and the… horror? At disobeying a direct order. But she also felt agreement.
“Okay Daniels, this is going to be tricky. Give me one quarter impulse and a thirty-degree swivel to port,” she said. “Slide her in.”
“Captain, I don’t know if I can…” Daniels began.
Cadence was already behind him. “Move!”
She danced her hands over the controls, bringing Enterprise in with their port shields exposed to the Klingons. Disruptor fire bounced and glittered against the screens, but they held.
“Drop the starboard shields, Mr. Chekov. Scotty, bring the landing party aboard!” Cadence roared.
“Shield dropped, Keptin,” Chekov said. “It will take three point two seconds to recharge.”
Cadence took the ops station. “I’m aware. Scotty, give me good news!”
“Landing party aboard, Lieutenant Song. The Captain is on his way to the bridge,” Scott replied.
Cadence could feel him, a distant spot of anger getting closer. She put it out of her mind, she still had a ship to protect.
“Shields up, getting us the hell out of here,” she said aloud.
She set a course that angled away from the Klingons, keeping them on the ship’s protected side. A moment later, warp drive engaged, carrying them safely back to Federation space.
“I gave you an order, lieutenant,” Kirk said from the turbolift.
Cadence stood to attention. “Aye, sir. The crew was just following mine, I take full responsibility.”
“Understood. You’re confined to quarters, I’ll deal with you later. Dismissed!”
Cadence saluted and returned to the turbolift, where a waiting security officer escorted her back to her quarters.