AOH :: ST-WOK.TXT|
An alternative Star Trek - The wrath of Khan
"They're on a build-up to detonation."
"We encoded four minutes."
"Well, beam over and stop it."
"We can't," said David.
Kirk stared at him in horror. "The warp engines are out, that
cry-baby excuse for an engineer refuses to fix them, Khan has set
off the Armageddon wave--and here you are saying you can't stop
it!!! We're all going to die and it's all your fault!!"
Spock straightened. For several minutes he sat perfectly still
with a thoughtful look on his face, then quietly rose and slipped
from the bridge.
"Why does everything have to happen to me? All I ever wanted was
a nice quiet desk to hide, er, sit behind. Is that too much to
ask for? But will that bastard Nogura leave me alone? Nooooo.
'Test the cadets, Kirk. Give them some experience, Kirk. What
can happen on a little training cruise, Kirk?' HAH!" He paused
for a fresh breath to continue but his tirade was sidetracked
when he noticed Spock's empty chair. "Oh, nevermind! Good old
Spock will fix it." Kirk strutted over to his command chair, sat
down and carefully smoothed his tunic down over his belly. "Yep,
good old dependable Spock." He swiveled to face Uhura,
"Lieutenant, inform Starfleet of what's happened and assure them
everything is under control--"
"But sir--the radiation! It'll kill him!"
"--and ask them to send me out a new first officer right away."
Kirk mused to himself, "Hmmm. I guess I'd better get to work on
his eulogy. Greater love hath no man? Naw, too emotional. One
for all and all for one? Doesn't fit, somehow. Better him than
us? Closer, but the tone's wrong. The needs of the many
outweigh? Yeah, that'll do." A stray thought whipped his head
around to Dr. McCoy. "He _will_ be able to complete the
repairs, won't he?"
"Sure. Those pointy-earred freaks are tough --he'll have plenty
of time to finish before the radiation finishes him." Bones added
as he left, "I'll go get ready for his autopsy."
"Captain?" Sulu said. "My board reports the shuttle bay doors
"Must be a malfunction, Helmsman. We took quite a battering."
"Yessir." Sulu flipped a few switches. "No, sir. The scanners
show that a shuttlecraft definitely has been launched."
"Hailing frequencies open, Sir," she smoothly interrupted.
"Put it on the screen!" Kirk snapped and added a sotto voce
'smart-ass'. When the screen filled with a moire' swirl he
declaimed, "Captain Kirk to shuttle craft. Identify yourself!"
"Shuttlecraft Aristarchus, Spock in command."
The entire bridge crew stared up at the now cleared screen with
slack jaws. Spock gazed down at them coolly, then lifted a
disdainful eyebrow at their continuing silent dumbfoundment.
"S-S-Spock!" Kirk spluttered. "What are you doing out there?"
"Following the path of logic. The life-support system of a
shuttlecraft is limited but sufficient to maintain one person for
the duration of an interstellar voyage."
"You're supposed to be down in Engineering!"
"If I remained on the bridge I would die. If I went to
Engineering I would die. If I left in a shuttlecraft I would
live. Captain, surely even a human could select the proper
course of behavior in a situation that clear-cut."
"But, but, but--what about the good of the many? What about
laying down your life for the lives of the crew? What about
"Vulcans have always preferred quality over quantity. As Surak
put it, devatAk t'hIn d-mOst."
"The best, not the rest."
"The best--but that's _me_! I'm the captain! That means I'm
better than you!"
"If you're so superior, why didn't you think of it first?" Spock
said smugly as he broke the contact.
Kirk was speechless with rage--but unfortunately that lasted only
for a moment. "I'll tell you why I didn't think of it first!
Because I'm a human! And humans are brave! Humans never say
die! There are other shuttlecrafts but do you see us sneaking
away to save our skins? No! Humans don't care about living!
Humans live only to strive against over-mounting odds!"
Under Kirk's inattentive eye Sulu nudged Chekov, then looked at
the turbolift. Chekov nodded and, as everyone but Kirk watched,
the two snuck away.
"And when we've won through we seek out new disasters to die in!
That's our first, best destiny! What we all live for!"
Unnoticed by Kirk, Scotty raced Uhura for the next car. He beat
her out, but then gallantly held the door for her.
"The moment of death is the greatest point of life! For only by
dying do we truly live! We seek immortality by dying well!"
Unheeded by a Kirk enraptured by the sound of his own voice,
David just managed to squeeze into a car already crammed with the
remainder of the bridge crew.
"And being immortal means we can die over and over again! The
reward of immortality is eternal mortality! Only when we
"Kirk." Bones' voice came from the intercom.
"--death can we savor life fully! And once we've tasted death we
"--rest until we've drunk--"
"that sweet cup to the last bitter dreg! And then we dip it into
the well of death for--"
"_KIRK_!!! Shut up and get your ass down to the hangar deck!"
"--another draught! For nothing else can satisfy our thirst for
life! Only . . ." Kirk's voice trailed away. He shook his
head like a man awakening from a trance. "_What_ did you say?"
"If you don't hurry down all the shuttles will be gone!"
Kirk stared blankly around the deserted bridge, then did a double
take as he realized where the others had gone. Shouting "Wait
for me!" he dashed to the lift--and slammed into the closed
"Computer--get me a car!"
"Working. Unable to comply. All cars occupied and waiting to
unload at the hangar deck."
Kirk paused, nonplussed for a moment, then declared "Ha! Time
for an action scene!" Rushing to the Jeffries Tube he slid down
the ladder. "No one knows the short-cuts through this ship
better than me!"
As he ran along a corridor he puffed, "Too old, am I?"
As he ducked into an access port he panted, "I'll show them I'm
no out-of-shape paper-shuffler!"
As he slipped into an ventilation duct he gasped, "I've never
been fitter in my--ooof!" He came to an abrupt halt as his shirt
snagged on a protrusion. "They must have made these ducts
smaller," he wheezed. A couple of minutes squirming failed to
get him free. Saying "No problem--let's give the yeomen a
thrill," he ripped out of his tunic and managed to squeeze out a
vent into the mob milling before the doors of the hangar deck.
"Captain!" Sulu said. "We only have, um," he paused to consult
the cuckoo clock cradled in his arms, "two minutes left!"
Kirk spotted Bones and pushed through to him. "Are all the
Bones laughed bitterly. "Nope. Just the one Spock took."
"Well then," Kirk said, and shoved himself through the doors and
into the shuttle Ptolemy.
Bones had followed him in, but instead of strapping in he leaned
against a wall wearily. "It's no use, Jim. There's no fuel left
in any of them."
Kirk gaped blankly for an instant before comprehension hit. "You
mean Spock drained the fuel out of . . ."
Sulu thrust his head into the shuttle. "One minute to go!"
Furiously Kirk smashed his fist into the controls of the radio
and bellowed "Kirk to Spock!"
At first only the strident squawks and squeals typical of a
lytherette being mistreated by a self-declared expert could be
heard, but then Spock sang (out of time and tune) "Yes, Captain?"
"Spock, how could you take all the fuel?!?" Kirk sucked at his
sore hand. Speaking in an exaggeratedly reasonable tone he said,
"Each shuttle had enough to get most of the way to Star Base 8.
They'd send a ship out to pick you up before life-support ran
"Quite true, Captain. But I am not going to Starbase 8."
"That's the nearest Federation location!"
"Also quite true. However, as I did not have sufficient time to
resign my commission and requisition use of transport through
proper channels the reactions of Starfleet Headquarters would be
most unfelicitous. I did not preserve my life in order to spend
the next few centuries dealing with obstreperous authorities."
"They'll lock you up for the rest of your life!"
"I believe I just said that."
Sulu popped his head in and chirped excitedly, "Thirty seconds!"
After a couple of exceptionally spine-curdling chords Spock went
on, "No matter. I am heading directly to Vulcan. We have no
extradition treaty with the Federation. By the time one could be
drawn up and signed I shall be able to claim diplomatic immunity.
Father will be pleased: he always wanted me to follow in his
"He meant as a scientist!"
Kirk and McCoy stared at each other in despair, then left the
shuttle craft. By now the entire complement of the crew (minus
one) was assembled in the shuttle bay. Naturally this sight
inspired Kirk to clamber atop the platform offered by the shuttle
and launch into a speech. "I want to take this opportunity to
thank all of you for your loyal service and--"
"Fifteen seconds!" Sulu was virtually dancing in his excitement.
"Do you mind, Lieutenant?" Kirk said coldly.
"No, sir. Sorry, sir." Sulu was shuffling from foot to foot.
"Your faithful service--"
"Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four," the scrutable
Oriental was tap-dancing in time to his countdown.
Kirk threw up his hands in disgust. "Oh, forget it!"
"Three, two, one, NOW!!" Sulu settled into a time-step as the
cuckoo popped out of his clock and began to chirp. Everyone held
and the chirping went on. And on. And on. Someone exhaled
explosively. Then some others. Soon the insane twittering of
the demented cuckoo bird was drowned out entirely by the sound of
people gasping for a new lung-full of oxygen.
Then someone hollered "We're safe!" The rest picked up that cry
of thanks-giving and soon the crew was madly conga dancing to
David came up to Kirk. "I don't understand it! It _should_ have
worked! I checked out all the arithmetic on my genuine Mattel
Kirk chuckled gaily, and punched him in the shoulder. "You take
after your old man--why, if I hadn't broken into the 'Fleet
academy computer and changed my grades I'd probably be taking
bone-head math for the eightieth time right now!"
Even though Sulu had barely whispered all the revelry died at
once as they glared in his direction.
"Uh. I guess I made a mistake. I should have subtracted last
month's Federation LeapMinute instead of adding it."
The silence stretched out until Bones reluctantly asked the
question in everybody's minds, "Which means?"
"The Armageddon wave isn't due to hit us until exactly ..." Sulu
counted quickly on his fingers, "now." That syllable was still
in his mouth when the whole ship seemed to shimmer.
* - * - * - * - * - * - * - * - * - * - * - * - *
When the ship stopped shimmying a remarkable change had taken
place: the Enterprise had been transformed into a space-going
hothouse. Every inch of the deck, every inch of the bulkheads
was covered with a thick growth of lush tropical vegetation. Oh
yes, and every stitch of clothing had vanished.
Kirk snatched a leaf from the nearest plant and employed it in
the traditional manner. His position as a leader-of-men was
quickly confirmed when everyone else followed suit. He took a
deep breath and said, "David. I expect an explanation for this."
But David looked just as confused as everyone else. "I don't
understand .... It _half_ worked ..It made the plants, but it
should have replaced the old animal life-forms with new ones ...
new ones...NEW ones? NUDE ones! March and his damned puns!!!"
and David reeled away giggling uncontrollably.
Kirk looked at Bones, who shrugged and then winced. Both of them
gazed at a large purplish bruise on Bones' shoulder. "How'd you
get that?" asked Kirk.
"Funny... I can't seem to remember..." McCoy wandered off in
Uhura bounced jauntily up to Kirk. "Shall I notify Starfleet?"
Kirk forced his eyes onto Uhura face, "Ah, sorry. Lieutenant, I
wasn't listening . . ." He turned to watch as Saavik slipped
by clutching a vine about her. With a blush he swapped his leaf
for a branch snapped from a nearby brush. "Excuse me,
Lieutenant. I must . . . notify Starfleet." Emboldened by
his larger shield he resumed his normally authoritative tone.
"_Some_ of us keep our minds on our duties!" With that he sidled
away through the hangar bay doors, keeping the branch
The lift-car he entered was already occupied by Scotty whose arms
were filled with bunches of grapes. "How can you be hungry at a
time like this?"
"Not hunger, Sir, thirst." Scott said. "A nice little Burgundy,
now, wouldn't that just hit the spot?"
A voice that seemed to come from everywhere and nowhere boomed
majestically, "Keep thy hands off my apples!"
Kirk hesitated "Do you suppose? Naah." Just then the lift-doors
opened and he stepped onto the bridge. Here, too, the vegetation
had taken over --in fact, one particularly large tree was growing
directly from his chair. Kirk walked over and touched it as if
he couldn't quite make himself trust the evidence of his eyes
"Hey, Cappy. Want to be the smartest man in the whole galaxy?"
Startled, Kirk looked up and spotted a snake entwined through the
branches of the tree. "Go ahead, eat one," it hissed. Kirk
hesitated. "It'll give you all the wisdom of the universe."
Kirk still wavered. "You'll be able to beat any Vulcan at
chess." Kirk snatched an apple and sank his teeth into it.
The warning chime of an incoming sub-space message sounded and he
rushed over to the communication station to answer it. Grabbing
an earphone he casually sank into the chair--then rose rapidly
and much less casually from the thorn-bush that had grown over
Kirk turned to glare at the snake, which returned a disgusted
stare of its own. "Well, it has to have something to start
from--it's not magic you know!" The snake slid down the tree and
Kirk raised one fist, and solemnly addressed the ceiling. "I
swear I'll never be naked again. I don't care what Starfleet
says. I don't care what obstacles they try to throw in my path.
I won't rest until I have completed the next mission of the
Coming sooner or later to an apa near you.
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