Star Trek: Freedom's Price
(© Robert Denham)
Klingon shuttle adjusted course, and made heading for the farthest of the
outlying dry-dock facilities in orbit of Kronos. The craft, a long-range
shuttle, had been stolen three days before from a Federation Starbase, where a
Klingon delegation was meeting with Federation representatives.
passengers were taking an enormous risk in coming here, with the preponderance
of the loyalist Klingon Defense Fleet massed in the system, but if they were
successful--if the gamble paid off--it would be well worth the effort, and the
risk. If not, it wouldn’t much matter, anyway.
At length, the shuttle reached the orbital facility. The pilot maneuvered the
craft in closer.
There, docked as it had been for over two weeks, was the K’Tinga-class cruiser,
IKV VENGENCE OF KAHLESS; a quick scan told them that it was, at present,
completely empty. No crew at all. Perfect. The intelligence had been correct.
They tensely discussed how unbelievably easy this had been, so far; only a year
ago, or less, such a plan would have been near-inconceivable. With the great
turmoil presently afflicting the Empire, however, many things were being
overlooked. Their leader prudently warned them against getting too confident.
Many things could yet go wrong.
mission’s communication specialist sent a single command, attempting to
jumpstart the ship’s computers remotely, start life support systems, and open
the doors of the shuttle bay.
Their benefactors had anticipated this, however. The mission leader indicated for
the shuttle pilot to move in even closer, and hefted a smallish box onto the
control console. Opening the cover, he deftly manipulated the device’s lighted
touchpads, in a coded sequence. The device blinked benignly and issued a silent
pulse; instantly, many of the cruiser’s interior and running lights came to
"Security has been alerted," the Communications specialist calmly advised the
small group. "Automated signal."
Taking an involuntary, quick look at the space around them and seeing no other
ships yet approaching, they slipped quickly in between the opening shuttle bay
doors, just barely clearing the doors themselves. In less than ten minutes, and
well before a security team could arrive to investigate, the ship was in their
hands and on the move, security signal disabled; just another battle cruiser
among the thousands patrolling the home system, on its way to some errand out
in the presently-afflicted Greater Empire.
Nothing of note went wrong.
James T. Kirk sat stretched out on the sofa in his quarters, legs crossed, a
mug of coffee cooling on the end table and a large book, a moderately-thick
compilation of the "Complete Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Other Works", by
A.C. Doyle, opened on his lap. His glasses sat perched primly on the end of his
nose, and he tilted his head slightly upward, looking down as he read the page.
He’d just acquired the centuries-old hardcover tome, published in September,
1966, from an antiques dealer operating a small storefront at their last stop,
Starbase 43, and he was quite surprised at his good fortune.
Actual books were relatively rare after the mass destruction of the last world
war (also, many of them had been burnt in the aftermath by survivors, as fuel
for warming fires), and most especially in this good a shape, and this far out
in space; for the first few, heady decades of space travel and colonization,
books were usually only brought along as an afterthought, or as cherished
possessions. He considered himself lucky to have stumbled upon it. As he
reached back to snag up his coffee, the door chime rang.
"Come in;" he said, closing and lowering the book, his finger marking the page.
When the door hissed open, Leonard McCoy stepped through.
"Well, good evening, Doctor;" Kirk said with an overly-earnest joviality. "Tell
me; just what is it that brings you here?" he asked, removing his glasses and
placing them carefully on the coffee table.
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