STORY TITLE: A is for Attitude
SERIES: T O S
CHAR CODES: Saa, OCs
SYNOPSIS: Saavik is injured. Will her inexperienced First Officer be up to the test?
DISCLAIMER: Star Trek and its characters are the property of Paramount/Viacom. I make no money from this.
ARCHIVE: Ask first.
A hand grabbed her from behind, entangling itself in the front of her service jacket and yanking her back and upward. As the small of her back hit the lip of the hatch, a slight unrestrained moan escaped her lips. So much noise added to her confusion, that she could not orient herself, and was subjected to being dragged backward and dropped to the floor. Others stood over and around her, pulling more people in. Gratefully, the hatch slid shut, closing out the cracking noise. Her vision swam until all she could do was lie still and listen. Someone was shouting that they were too heavy. From behind her a moan could be heard. Pressure on her shoulder was accompanied by a voice, somehow familiar. Hang in there. Stay with us, it urged. Someone was pushing her hard in the stomach. She asked them to stop and pushed weakly at their hand, only to see another hand pull her arm away and hold it to the floor.
“She’s the worst,” she heard, as hands grasped the fabric of her jacket and pulled her across the floor to a space more open, away from the others lying nearby. She was suddenly chilled as she felt her boots pulled away, and a draft on her sides. Having no strength to lift her head, she was forced to accept what was done and watched as her uniform was lifted away. She heard, “Pain meds” and saw a hypo coming toward her. Unsure of who was with her, she struggled, trying to pull away.
“Let me over there. Let me in,” she heard loudly. And then again, she felt a pressure on her shoulder. This time skin to skin, and she was flooded with fear and concern at the same time as the knowledge that these people were known. “Lie still, Captain, you’re safe,” the voice said, and she wanted to believe it. The familiarity of the one who touched her shoulder convinced her, and the next time the hypo was pressed against her, she accepted its sweet release.
Walsh’ comfort was interrupted by Lt. Ardouin at helm. “Sir, we have a problem.” Walsh responded instantly, as discipline demanded, and began climbing over the others until she could reach the front of the shuttle.
“Report,” she commanded.
“Commander, the thrusters can’t handle the load. I can get us into a low orbit, but I can’t sustain it for long.”
“Coop?” she asked.
“Whatever you do, “said Doctor Cooper from the floor, “it’s got to be soon. The Captain’s lost a lot of blood.”
“Put us in orbit, Lieutenant. Try to raise the ship, and hope to hell that I’m right this time.”
As soon as she’d let the comment escape her lips, she regretted it. From the few seats and the floorspace, eyes peered at her, including a pair of deep dark ones from the back of the shuttle. The Captain’s eyes bored through Walsh and then motioned weakly to a spot beside her.
Walsh understood the summons instantly and she moved back and knelt beside Saavik, who reached for the front of Walsh’ jacket and pulled her close.
“You must cast out that guilt, Commander,” Saavik whispered. “There is no place for it here.” Walsh nodded. “They look to you, Kelly.”
“Commander, get my crew home,” said Saavik, even as her grip began to slip from Walsh jacket. Walsh reached for her Captain’s hand and gently placed it by her side. The hand was colder than Kelly thought a Vulcan’s hand should be, and Saavik began to shake with shock.
“Coop,” called Walsh.
“It’s alright,” Walsh reassured them as she stood. “The Thorne will be looking for us. We just missed the last check in. Just sit back and remain calm.”
Walsh took her own advice and slipped into the empty co-pilot’s seat. With the destruction of the other shuttle, this shuttle was beyond capacity, though evac procedures clearly stated that the helm seats remain clear. Walsh busied herself with trying to locate the Thorne on sensors, but gave up after only a few minutes.
“It’s like soup,” she grumbled. The Thorne hadn’t been able to penetrate the atmosphere with sensors or transporters either.
She swiveled in her seat and watched as the Doctor moved from one away team member to another. “Report, Doc.”
Cooper stepped gently around the people on the floor and worked his way to a kneeling position beside Walsh’ chair.
“Captain’s in a bad way.” Coop shook his head slowly and massaged his brow. “I sedated her so she wouldn’t slip into the Vulcan healing trance. She’s lost so much blood that going into the trance risks brain damage.” Coop looked over his shoulder. “The rest of the injuries are minor; bumps, bruises. Taylor has a bad burn, but it’s superficial. He was trying to reach the Captain. It’s gotta hurt like hell. I gave him something.”
“Listen,” Coop asked, “what was that comment earlier about anyway. You can’t blame yourself for this.”
“I told her it was safe, Coop.”
“And she insisted on coming on the Away Mission even though you or Lt. Commander Bishop could have handled it. It looked like a routine first contact. She doesn’t blame you.”
“I blame me.” In a lower tone Walsh added, “I just want to prove myself to her. I was never like this in any of my other assignments.”
Coop patted Walsh’ knee and smiled knowingly. “You’ve never served under the great Captain Saavik of Vulcan before either. I think all of the senior staff suffered from it at first; Captain Saavik, one of the oldest and most experienced in the fleet, wife of the legendary Spock, served under the equally legendary Captain James T. Kirk, Captain Saavik legend of the Border Patrol. You’ve got to admit to yourself that it is a little overwhelming.”
“Yeah, well, I can’t afford to be overwhelmed at the moment.”
“I’ve got to check the Captain.” Coop patted Walsh shoulder as he stood. “You’re doing fine,” he reassured her.
Walsh sank back into her seat and closed her eyes. “Report, Lieutenant,” she asked.
His eyes firmly affixed to the instrument panels in front of him, Ardoin replied, “I think I can maintain this altitude for an hour at most, Sir. This atmosphere is taxing the shields and draining our power rapidly. Frankly, sir, I think we’re lucky we didn’t get blasted out of the sky during that last storm. If I have to set her down, sir, we won’t be able to get her off the ground again.”
Walsh had to agree. When she had landed and contacted the planet’s inhabitants, they had reassured her that they could predict with extreme accuracy the behavior of the highly charged stratosphere and that the next discharge would not be for days. The ability to predict the raging firestorms had been the last ingredient necessary for this world’s first endeavors into space. Long confined to the planet surface by its own erratic atmosphere, this people’s science, including breakthroughs in warp theory, had remained largely untested. With the advent of reliable sensors and mathematical models of atmospheric science, they had eagerly reached out into the stars, jumping instantly into warp technology.
Walsh recalled the Captain’s fascination with the idea that this culture had not gone through the usual stumbling steps of flight, not to mention spaceflight, but instead launched a warp capable ship from the ground virtually the moment they could predict that anything could rise above what had for as long as they remembered seemed an impenetrable barrier. Early reports from the planet’s science ministry on their interpretation of warp theory had made the Captain push for inclusion into the away team. Lt. Commander Bishop, the Thorne’s Second Officer, had wanted Walsh to shuttle to the planet surface without the Captain and obtain the algorithims necessary to predict the atmospheric outbursts, so that the Thorne could find a way to more effectively communicate and possibly use the ship’s transporters, but the Captain had insisted on joining Walsh’ team on the surface after Walsh expressed confidence in the safety of the atmospheric predictions.
“I never saw anything like that in my life, sir.”
Ardoin’s comment roused Walsh’ mind away from the past.
“That lightening crashing down on the shuttle like that…” Ardoin sighed. “I liked that shuttle, too. It handled real well.”
“Great, Ardoin,” responded Walsh touchily. “I’ll be sure to ask the Captain to give you the piece of it out of her stomach to remember it by.”
Ardoin winced. “Sorry, sir,” he stammered. “I didn’t mean…”
Again Walsh wished she could recall her comment. “No, no. I’m sorry, Lieutenant. I’m just worried about the Captain that’s all. If we have to set down, there’s no guarantee that the Thorne can get to us in time to help her.”
“Sir?” came a voice from the floor. It was Ensign Racene Voss, who was just about as fresh faced as the Academy could send them. “Isn’t there anyway to contact the ship?”
Freeman Jeffers from security answered before Walsh could. “The Thorne’s sensors couldn’t even penetrate this atmosphere. That’s why we’re all crammed into this underpowered, overloaded shuttle, Ensign.”
“That’s enough,” commanded Walsh sternly. Something about the youthful hopefulness of the ensign’s voice had struck a chord in Walsh mind. She was reminded of the confidence Captain Saavik had afforded her when she was confronted with her first major contribution as a member of the Thorne. She wasn’t about to let Voss be belittled. Then a thought played across her mind, and she smiled at Voss.
“Ensign, you’re just out of the Academy.” Walsh could tell that Voss expected to be degraded. “What is the first thing they teach you to do if stranded?”
“Take inventory, sir,” snapped Voss.
“That’s right. Take inventory so that you know what resources you have that might help you survive.” Walsh could see the eyes of the away team begin to look toward the hope in her voice. Walsh looked slyly at Jeffers. “We have an underpowered, overcrowded shuttle, a transporter, ourselves,” she said with a hint of playful sarcasm that made Jeffers smile and duck his head, “and a damn soup of charged particles.”
“Anders?” Crewman Anders looked up from the back of the shuttle where he waited stoically, his knees pulled to his chest. “Any hope for the transporter?”
“No, sir. Not given our altitude and not without knowing the current charge in the atmosphere.”
Walsh nodded and opened her mouth to speak, but was interrupted by Anders. “I did notice something when we were down there. Before the Captain arrived, I was talking to some of their scientists and they explained how they were able to finally predict when these atmospheric discharges would occur. See, basically the atmosphere is like a big capacitor. Once the charge reaches a certain point, a discharge occurs. Now they aren’t sure what sets it off. For example, I’ve been thinking that something about the disturbance the Captain’s shuttle created tripped the last storm. Anyway, their scientists figured out how to measure the charge. They launched their warp ship when the charge was lowest; right after a storm.“
“So the transporters are no good?”
“No, sir, but we’ve still got…”
“The atmosphere! That’s good Anders. A few storms in quick succession ought to get the attention of anyone watching.”
Glances began to fly between the team as they caught on. “Let’s light it up!” someone yelled enthusiastically.
Ardoin, eyes still fixed on the instruments, interjected. “We could release some of the mix from the engines. That would make a nice show, sir. If the Thorne catches on, they may be able to tractor us out of here. But we’ve only got one shot. After that we won’t have enough power to maintain this orbit.” Ardoin finally looked Walsh in the eye.
“We may nose in, sir. Or get caught in the sideshow.”
“What about the people on the ground?” asked Voss. “We can’t do anything that endangers them.”
“Anders?” asked Walsh.
“I don’t think they’ll be in any danger as long as we build up the charge slowly. Their sensors will register it and they’ll take cover.”
“So,” decided Walsh , “we build up the atmospheric charge slowly and hope one pulse is enough, or we go back down to the surface.”
“We have to get Captain Saavik to the ship, Kelly. Soon,” added Coop.
“Let’s do it,” she ordered.
Walsh moved back to the co-pilot’s seat to orchestrate the release of the engine mix for Ardoin. “Ready?”
At Walsh command of “On my mark…” the crew grasped at the bulkhead sides, prepared to be buffeted by the impending firestorm.
“What’s that?!” exclaimed Bishop, his eyes focused on the display of the planet below.
The Thorne had been on alert after being contacted from below. The planet’s contingent had almost falling over themselves with apology. It had taken a while before Bishop had cut through the ambassadorial double talk and gotten a picture of what had happened.
Shortly after the second shuttle bareing Captain Saavik had arrived, the atmosphere had erupted in a major incident perhaps brought on by the disturbance from the shuttle. The away team together with the planet’s contingent had run for cover, when the Captain’s shuttle had been hit by lightening and exploded. The pilot, the only one still onboard, had been lost. The planet’s inhabitants had retreated underground in panic and left the away team where they stood, some of them dazed and injured. One report had them all scrambling back into the remaining shuttle, before a second bolt hit that left a fifty meter wide crater at the landing site. With no firm evidence that the remaining shuttle was destroyed, Bishop and the crew of the Thorne had worked feverishly to implement the prediction algorithms that had already been transmitted, in an effort to supply the Thorne’s sensors with opportunities to penetrate the atmosphere and search for the missing shuttle.
“Focus there!” he commanded.
At the science station, Rodriguez worked feverishly.
“I got something, sir. A metallic mass.”
“Can we lock transporters yet?”
“Helm, lock on with tractors and retract the beam. Let’s see if we’ve found them.”
Saavik sat in bed reviewing reports of the incident. Already, the Thorne’s scientists were helping refine the ability of the planet’s inhabitants to predict what would charge the atmosphere and in what amounts. The inhabitants were so thankful and impressed with the technology freely provided by the Thorne, that they had made tentative overtures in the direction of joining the Federation. Even now some of their warp theorists were on board giving a series of lectures.
“Sir?” called Walsh from the sickbay doorway.
“Come.” Walsh walked to her bedside.
“I just finished reading your report. The crew responded well to your command. You used the resources available and returned all hands safely, but…”
Walsh lifted her head as if she were ready to be disciplined.
“In the future, when the safety of others is at risk, my life is expendable. Is that understood?”
“You should have landed the ship and taken cover underground with the natives. Instead you risked the safety of the crewmen under your charge to seek medical attention for me.”
“Yes, sir,” Walsh smiled.
Saavik eyed Walsh suspiciously. At first Walsh easygoing attitude had concerned Saavik. She was never really sure that Walsh took her seriously. Lately, Saavik had thought that they were beginning to understand each other.
“You do understand Commander?” Saavik reiterated.
“I hear you, sir,” said Walsh.
“But do you understand….”
“I hear you, sir,” smiled Walsh. “I’m glad you’ll be up and around soon.”
Unsure whether to be harsher with her XO or simply give in, Saavik closed her eyes and took a deep breath, feeling the skin regenerated over her wounded stomach stretch reluctantly.
“Is that all, sir?”
“Just… Have you ever read about Spock’s first command?”
Saavik’s husband’s exploits were something of legend, including his first command, when he was forced to burn off the remaining fuel reserves in order to create a flare that got the attention of the Enterprise and resulted in his saving the shuttle’s crew.
“Nope, never have.”
“Then that is all Commander, except… Thank you, Kelly.”