“Curious. We've just passed through some kind of coherent tetryon beam.”
“Unknown. Now there appears to be a massive displacement wave moving toward us.”
Xander studied a padd as he made his way to the torpedo bay. Cortana had prepared an after action report and he was eager to know how his ship stood up to Moloc’s.
“Hull scarring, obvious loss of two torpedos, hell, an explosion in Engineering,” he read off. “Could be worse, I guess. We’ve got to find a way to affect repairs, though. Even Kirk wasn’t an engineer, and if we keep on collecting battle damage eventually we’re going to be too hurt to fly. And I can’t be running around reloading our weapons in the heat of battle.”
“You know what you need,” Cortana accused as her upper body appeared with arms crossed on a nearby monitor.
“Yeah,” Xander admitted, letting the padd fall and thunk against his leg. “I need a crew. Easier said than done though. It’s not like I have my pick of the best Starfleet has to offer.”
“Doesn’t change the fact that I can’t do everything, and you need the manpower,” came Cortana’s voice over the intercom as Xander continued on his way.
“Look, I agree with the general idea, but we don’t need to be in too big of a rush if we’re heading straight home,” Xander reasoned as he entered the torpedo bay.
“Maybe we shouldn’t be,” Cortana said softly, appearing as a hologram projected above the bay’s controls.
Xander squared his jaw and turned away. “Hmm,” he grunted, struggling with a torpedo casing and pretending not to hear the AI’s last statement. “Damn it, this thing’s impossible to move.”
“No, you need to listen. What exactly do you expect when we get back? You’ve changed; you’re not the same person you were before Kirk. How do you think you’ll relate to them now?” There was no need for Cortana to specify who she was talking about. They both knew. “And that’s not to mention how they’ll react to the new you. I mean, what are they supposed to think? You show up again with a spaceship, aged 10 years? And on the off chance they ask you about Jenny, what will you say, that now she exists only as the soul of an artificial intelligence? I’m sure that will go over well,” Cortana snorted.
Xander sighed and stopped his scuffle with the torpedo. “It’s not that the thought hasn’t crossed my mind, but they’re my friends. They deserve to know what happened. We can work everything else out.”
“On the very slim chance that you’re right, fine. We’ll go back, have a long talk, and everything will end up puppies and sunshine. Ok, what next? What will you do? Stay? If you did stay, then what would you do? Would you abandon the Enterprise, just leave it rotting up in space, giving me nothing to do but think myself into rampancy?” Cortana continued with passion.
“That’s enough,” Xander quietly ordered.
Cortana had built up a full head of steam. “And what about Moloc? What if there’s more like him? You could lead them right to Earth. I don’t know about you, but I didn’t see any fleets of starships in orbit to protect the planet if-”
“I said enough!” Xander roared, heaving his padd against the wall. “What would you have me say, that if I go back I’ll get caught right back up in life on the hellmouth? That I’m afraid my friends won’t be able to reconcile goofy, teenage Xander Harris with older, Starfleet Captain Xander Kirk? That I want to keep the Enterprise, fly off into the Final Frontier, and protect the Earth from the scum of the universe? Well congratulations, you’re right on all counts! But what else can I do? I have faith in my friends, how can I live with myself if I just abandon them like that?” he revealed angrily.
Cortana looked down. “Xander Harris and Jenny Calendar may as well be dead,” she whispered, not without compassion. “Maybe it would be better if they became just another Sunnydale Statistic.”
Xander leaned against a wall next to the control console and slid down to a sitting position on the floor. “I can’t do that to mys- to them,” he said in the same tone. “I just…”
“Believe it or not, I understand where you’re coming from,” Cortana confessed as she copied his position but with the added motion of folding her knees up. “Listen, how about a compromise: We’ll take the long way home, and on the way we can see how things stand in the galaxy, see if there’s anymore Molocs to deal with before we run the risk of returning to Earth, and maybe think of a way to explain everything that makes sense. Sound good?”
“Heh,” Xander let out a sarcastic laugh. “Sure, why not? I can live with that.”
They spent a few moments in companionable silence before Cortana spoke up. “Hey.”
Xander turned his head over and up. “Yeah?”
“So I’ve been wondering, why doesn’t the Enterprise actually look like it did on the show? I mean sure, the general shape is the same, but it’s much bigger for one, and the interior is completely different,” Cortana wondered.
A ghost of a smile formed on Xander’s lips. “I thought you’d gone through the computers already.”
“Well yes, but I relegated anything not directly relevant to running the ship into a different file that I haven’t looked at yet,” the AI admitted.
“It’s a whole alternate universe thing. Some bad guys and Spock from the mainstream universe you see on TV came back in time and butterflied things enough that you get my girl here,” Xander said fondly, patting the console.
“Right,” Cortana said, eyeing the big red button that Xander’s hand only just missed. “I’ll look into those files later, I’m sure they’ll actually clarify what you just said. Now Captain,” she continued in a teasing tone, “Are you going to go back to your wrestling match with the big, bad torpedo?”
“Laugh it up,” Xander said, his quirky grin still in place. He stood up and walked over to pick up the padd he’d thrown earlier, noting the lack of damage to the padd and the wall. “They built these things to last,” he commented.
A second image of Cortana appeared on a screen close to him. “Xander, I’m picking up something near the remains of the pyramid ship.”
Xander raised an eyebrow and directed a questioning look to the hologram he’d been talking with.
She shrugged. “Multitasking.”
“Right,” he rolled his eyes. “What have you got?”
The hologram vanished as the image on the monitor responded, “It appears to be a small vessel de-cloaking.”
Xander exhaled. “It never ends. Can you beam me to the bridge? It’ll take too long to get there by foot,” he requested.
“Energizing,” Cortana stated, and he was gone in a swirl of lights.
“It's not a plasma phenomenon. At current speeds, it will intercept us in less than thirty seconds.”
“Anything left in those impulse generators?”
“We'll find out.”
“Alright,” Xander said as he retook his spot in the captain’s chair. “What have we got?”
A small triangular ship was on display on the viewscreen. It was sitting perfectly still, making no threatening moves.
A picture-in-picture of Cortana appeared in the top right of the screen. “It’s roughly the size of a shuttlecraft, definitely the same make as Moloc’s ship.”
“Armaments?” Xander asked.
“Scans bring up no weaponry to speak of; shields are present but lowered. Reading one life sign,” the AI recited.
“Whoever it is they must want to talk, otherwise they never would have shown themselves,” Xander rationalized. “Open a channel.” At Cortana’s signal he spoke up, “Unknown ship, this is Xander…” he hesitated, “Kirk, captain of the Federation Starship Enterprise. Seeing as you’ve chosen to reveal yourself, I assume you’re interested in communicating.”
The screen flickered and Xander’s mouth quirked as an image of the woman from Moloc’s ship appeared. He idly noted upon further study that she was quite attractive, with long blond hair and some sort of tribal symbol tattooed on her forehead that enhanced her sharp looks, rather than detracting from them. The leathers and cloak she wore, along with her bearing, presented the image of an Amazon princess.
“Greetings, Captain,” she inclined her head. “I am Ishta, high priestess of Moloc.”
Xander’s face tensed. “That’s probably not the best way to open communications,” he said without emotion.
“Understandable,” Ishta acknowledged. “It would be more accurate to say I am using my position as high priestess to work against him. However, you will appreciate that I would rather not talk about this on an open channel.”
“Give me a second. I’ll get right back to you,” Xander replied before quickly swishing his thumb across his throat.
At his motion Cortana cut the signal.
“Thoughts?” Xander asked.
“We do need the information,” Cortana responded. “My scans of the ship didn’t reveal any hidden bombs or anything, and I’m not the best judge but she seemed to be serious.”
Xander nodded. “Yeah, that’s the impression I got too.” He hmmed and haahed for a few seconds. “I’m going to invite her onboard. This is too good an opportunity to pass up.”
“Very well. Re-establishing contact,” Cortana asserted. Ishta’s face popped back up a second later.
“You have come to a decision, Captain Kirk?” the priestess questioned.
“I have. I’d like to extend an offer to continue our conversation onboard the Enterprise,” Xander said.
A small smile crossed Ishta’s face. “I would like that. Your ship was very impressive in the battle against Moloc’s Ha’tak. Do you have a docking bay I can use?”
“Sure. It’s at the rear of the ship; you can’t miss it. Just pull up in front of it and cut your engines and the tractor beam will take care of the rest,” Xander told her.
A confused look crossed Ishta’s face. “Tractor beam? I am not familiar with this technology.”
“Ah, think of it like using a cable to drag something somewhere, but without the cable. No wait, that doesn’t really make sense,” Xander shook his head. “How about this: I’m going to tell my ship to emit a beam of energy that will automatically guide yours into a landing spot on the flight deck.”
“I… believe I understand, yes,” Ishta said.
“Alright then! I’ll meet you down there. See you in a few minutes. Kirk out,” Xander said as Cortana cancelled the hail.
“That went well,” he said brightly.
“Agreed. So far things have gone smoothly,” Cortana concurred. “Though still, I recommend bringing a phaser with you to the shuttlebay in case we’re both wrong and this is an elaborate ploy.”
Xander waved a hand. “I don’t think that will be necessary. Besides, if it looks like she’s up to something you can always beam her to the brig.”
“If that’s how you want it. On that train of thought though, why didn’t you offer to beam her over here in the first place?” Cortana wondered.
“You notice how she immediately asked about a shuttlebay? I’m thinking maybe they either don’t have transporters, or theirs are a lot more restrictive than ours. If it turns out I’m right and we’re on the same side I’ll most likely tell her about them, but until then I’d rather keep at least something close to the chest,” Xander confided. “Anyway, I’m off to greet our guest. Make sure you’ve got the tractor beam ready,” he said as he headed to the turbolift.
“Of course, Captain,” he heard as the lift’s doors swooshed shut.
***“Still exceeding our speed.”
“Wave is continuing to accelerate. It will intercept us in eight seconds. Five.”
Xander entered the shuttlebay at the same time as Ishta’s ship. He tracked it with his eyes and started towards the landing spot it was aiming for. He walked up as the rear hatch opened, allowing the high priestess to exit the vehicle.
“Ishta, welcome to the Enterprise,” Xander greeted, nodding his head in a slight bow.
“Thank you, Captain Kirk,” she replied, returning the nod. She stepped out into the bay and looked around. “This is quite different than a Ha’tak’s landing bay.”
Xander smiled. “Call me Xander. This is just the tip of the iceberg. The Enterprise is a Constitution
-class heavy cruiser, the first of her kind. Come on, I’ll show you around while we talk,” he said as they left the deck. “So, Ha’tak. Was that the pyramid ship from earlier?”
“That was a Ha’tak, yes. They are the main attack vessel of the Goa’uld. You truly do not know of them?” Ishta asked with a frown.
“Well I’m not really from around here. Though that does unfortunately answer another question I had,” Xander said as they entered a turbolift. “So these Goa’uld. Moloc’s race, I’m assuming. How many more are there? Are they all like him?”
Ishta turned to face him as the turbolift’s doors closed. “The Goa’uld rule the galaxy,” she said solemnly. “Most are to a varying degree similar in manner to Moloc. They are fond of portraying themselves as gods to so-called ‘lesser races.’”
“Damn it,” Xander swore. “That’s really not what I wanted to hear. Is there anything else you can tell me about them?”
“Quite a bit, actually. As high priestess I possess more knowledge than a Goa’uld would normally allow. What is it you wish to know?” Ishta inquired.“Everything.”
“Engines are all but dead. Weapons too. Basically we’re targ food.”
“I am unable to determine where the wave sent us. Scans are inconclusive. I am however reading two unfamiliar ships on an intercept course. They are powering weapons.”
“We’re in no position to deal with this. Send out a distress call. Give everything we have left to impulse.”
“…and so you say you’ve started a resistance with some of Moloc’s like-minded Jaffa?” Xander asked as he and Ishta entered the bridge.
“Yes, though we are small at the moment there are whispers of others that feel the same,” she said.
“At least it’s not all bleak. Now the last stop on out little tour, the bridge. You probably saw most of this earlier, but it’s different when you’re actually here,” Xander said with an arm gesture.
“Xander, one thing I’m curious about. How is it you can work all of this by yourself?” the Jaffa wondered.
“Luckily I have Cortana here,” he replied, prompting the AI to appear on the viewscreen.
“About time you got around to introducing me. Hello,” she added with a small wave. Ishta raised both eyebrows in response.
“She’s, well, she’s basically the mind of the ship, if you will,” Xander explained. “She can do a lot by herself, but I am in the market for a crew. It would make things easier on both of us.”
A sudden beeping and flashing light from the communications station drew the attention of both Xander and Ishta.
“Picking up a distress signal. Its signature is very similar to what the Federation uses,” Cortana said in surprise. “It’s so similar in fact I’d almost be willing to say it was
from the Federation, or at least a
Xander led Ishta over to Uhura’s former position and motioned for her to sit, which she accepted with a nod.
“Put it through,” he ordered.
“Receiving audio only,” Cortana stated.
A cool voice came from the communications console, one that Xander immediately classified as Vulcan.
“This is the Val Jean. We have sustained heavy damage and are about to come under attack by an unknown aggressor. Any ships in the vicinity please respond. Repeat-” The sound of an explosion came through and the transmission was cut.
Xander reached out and pressed a button on the console. “Val Jean, this is the Enterprise. We’re on our way; try to hold out a bit longer.” He depressed the button and turned to Ishta. “Sorry about this, but-”
“No need, Xander,” Ishta interrupted. “If this is in fact someone from your Federation I understand.”
“Thanks,” he said in relief. Striding to the command chair he sat down and said, “Right Cortana, plot a course. Let’s help our new friend out, maybe we can get his story in return.”
“At warp six we will reach the signal’s origin in roughly ten minutes,” Cortana said.
“We can’t go any faster?” Xander asked.
“The earlier battle knocked out one of the power couplings in Engineering. Warp six is our max at the moment,” the AI explained.
“Damn. Well, it’ll have to do. Punch it,” he said, pointing forwards in emphasis.
Onboard the Val Jean, Tuvok, the Vulcan who had sent out the distress call, staggered from a small explosion on his console.
“Captain, we have lost outgoing communications,” he reported as he regained his seating.
Chakotay, the captain, scowled as he fought the helm controls. “We’ll have to hope someone heard it then. B’Elanna,” he turned to his engineer, “Where’s my impulse?”
The half-Klingon growled. “You’ve got what we have! There’s nothing else left!”
“Better start praying then,” Chakotay said as he turned the ship sharply to avoid a volley of plasma blasts. “I’m going to head into that nebula,” he indicated a bluish-red cloud outside the viewscreen, “Maybe we can hide from them in there.”
A chime rang out from a back-up console. Ayala, the closest bridge officer, ran over and checked it. “Tuvok’s SOS went through! Receiving a response!” he switched the audio to shipwide.
A male voice came through. “Val Jean, this is the Enterprise. We’re on our way; try to hold out a bit longer.”
The bridge quieted for a moment. “That didn’t sound like Jean-Luc Picard,” Chakotay eventually said.
“Indeed,” Tuvok agreed, “The voice was similar in cadence to James Kirk, but I do not believe it was him either.”
“Well whoever it was, we can’t really pick and choose our allies at the moment. Let’s try and make it until they get here, then I guess we’ll play it by ear,” the captain decided.
A large detonation in front of him brought Chakotay’s attention back and abruptly forced him to change his course. “What the hell was that?”
Tuvok checked the readings at his station. “A high-powered proximity charge. It appears these vessels are some sort of bomber class. Considering the state of the Val Jean I recommend you avoid a direct hit.”
“No kidding,” Chakotay said with slight sarcasm.
“We’ll reach the target in approximately 30 seconds,” a hologram of Cortana said.
Xander nodded from his chair. “The minute we drop out of warp I want red alert and sensors on full.”
“Aye sir,” the AI replied. “Cutting warp in 3… 2… 1…”
The stars snapped back to normal. The Enterprise appeared mid-battle just in time to see two obviously Goa’uld ships release a group of bombs as they flew over what Xander assumed was the Val Jean. She was obviously on her last legs, seeming to move only on thrusters now. There was no way she could avoid the Goa’uld’s strike – unless she had help.
“Target those bombs!” Xander ordered as he gripped an armrest. “Don’t let them hit the Val Jean.”
The Enterprise’s point defense phasers fired rapidly, surgically striking each plasma charge before it could hit the Val Jean. The Goa’uld, noticing the new combatant, pulled away.
“They are Alkesh. Mid-range bombers,” Ishta informed Xander. “It’s likely they were fleeing the destruction of Moloc’s Ha’tak. This was probably an attack of opportunity.”
“If they make another move towards the Val Jean, take them out,” Xander directed Cortana, who nodded. “Now. Open a hailing channel, all frequencies. Audio and visual.”
Cortana flicked her eyes away for a second. “Ok, you’re up,” she said before vanishing her avatar.
“Attention Goa’uld ships. This is Captain Xander Kirk of the USS Enterprise. I’ll give you one chance: abandon your attack on the Val Jean and I’ll let you leave the area. If you resume your attack however, I’ll be forced to deal with you like I did your Mothership earlier,” Xander announced in a hard voice.
The ships hovered in place for a moment before turning and opening a hyperspace window through which they fled.
Chakotay awoke to the sensation of someone shaking him. “I’m ok, I’m ok,” he said to Ayala as he struggled to retake his position. “Report.”
Tuvok’s calm voice cut through Chakotay’s lingering haze like a knife. “Most of the crew is dead. We have lost impulse, weapons, and shields. Warp core breach is imminent.”
“What?!” Chakotay surged to his feet. He looked around the bridge and saw several bodies lying motionless. “The crew is… who’s still alive?”
“Myself, miss Torres, mister Ayala, and miss Seska,” Tuvok stated.
“Damn it all,” Chakotay swore sadly. “No one else? They were good people.”
“The enemy craft are preparing another attack run,” Tuvok said, interrupting Chakotay’s increasingly dark thoughts.
A hand reached up and grasped the console before B’Elanna hauled herself up. She wiped blood from her forehead as she pushed a few buttons. “You’ve got thrusters, but that’s it. Nothing else is responding,” she said as she slumped back into her chair.
“So we’re sitting ducks,” Chakotay summarized. “Well, it’s been an honor working with you all.” He flipped on the inter-ship comm. “Seska, if you can hear me-”
“Picking up a warp signature on the sensors!” Ayala cried.
“On screen!” Chakotay ordered.
The Val Jean’s remaining bridge crew breathed a collective sigh of relief as their enemies’ attack was disrupted by a ship that closely resembled the original Enterprise, only much larger. Larger in fact than even the current Enterprise commanded by Captain Picard.
“Look at the size of that thing,” Torres breathed.
“It is impressive,” Tuvok inclined his head, “But where did it come from? It is incredibly unlikely that a ship like that could remain unknown.”
“Unknown like those other two out there? We’ll probably get the answers when we find out where we are,” Chakotay said.
“They’re broadcasting on an open channel,” Ayala reported from the operations station. “Putting it up.”
Chakotay was surprised to see an attractive, streamlined, mostly empty bridge. Only two people were visible; a woman dressed in leathers similar to what the Maquis wore, and a man who was obviously the captain. He was fairly young for the position, but Chakotay noted he sat the chair well; he was clearly comfortable in his role. As the ship itself was similar yet different to the original Enterprise, so was the captain’s uniform similar but more sophisticated than the old command-gold outfit.
“Attention Goa’uld ships,” the captain began, “This is Captain Xander Kirk of the USS Enterprise. I’ll give you one chance: abandon your attack on the Val Jean and I’ll let you leave the area. If you resume your attack however, I’ll be forced to deal with you like I did your Mothership earlier.”
“At least he can talk the talk,” B’Elanna marveled at the ultimatum.
“And walk the walk, if he’s telling the truth about the Mothership,” Ayala added. He turned to the read out. “Sensors show the two ‘Goa’uld’ ships leaving through some sort of hole in subspace,” he reported.
“Captain, may I remind you that we are about to experience a warp core breach,” Tuvok said.
“Damn! B’Elanna, can you get down there-” Chakotay started.
“A hull breach has exposed Engineering to vacuum.” Tuvok was once again the bearer of bad news.
“Can we get a message to the Enterprise?” Chakotay asked with angry resignation.
Torres’ eyes and hands flew across her console. “If I redirect power from everything except life support I can give you audio for… 7 seconds. Starting now.”
“Enterprise, this is Chakotay of the Val Jean. All but five of my crew are dead, and we’re about to have a warp core breach. I’d like to request asylum on your ship until we can return to our home,” Chakotay spoke grimly.
“Are you sure about this?” B’Elanna asked incredulously. “That’s got to be a Starfleet ship. Who’s to say this other Kirk won’t just toss us in the brig?”
“Better that than dead,” the captain responded. “Did it get through?”
“In a few moments it will not matter,” Tuvok uttered.
Kirk’s voice came over the comm. “I don’t plan on letting the rest of you die if I can help it. Prepare for transportation. I’ll see you in a few. Enterprise out.”
Chakotay looked around the bridge of his ship for one last time as the telltale hum and swirl of lights engulfed his bridge crew. He idly noted it looked slightly different than it should, before he too was beamed away. Less than a minute later the Val Jean’s warp core finally gave out, causing an explosion that ripped the Maquis ship to pieces.
As a preemptive so I won’t get called out in reviews, in the BTVS universe Voyager never aired. There was talk of a new series but nothing ever came from it.
Speaking of reviews, I had a couple about the summary, so I thought I’d let you know that I did mean to spell “nu” like that. I thought I was being somewhat clever, but apparently not! I guess not everyone knows the shorthand “nuTrek.”