Last Call

By Rabble Rouser

DATE: September 2, 2000

DISCLAIMER and ACKNOWLEDGMENTS: Paramount controls the known Star Trek Universe. I can't even control myself or this story would never have been written. This was written because after reading the short-story anthology Points of View, I wanted to try my hand at a dramatic monologue and poor Scotty seems very underrepresented in fanfic. My thanks to Kathy Dailey for proofing this and telling me this might be a good piece to mark the anniversary of Star Trek's television debut on September 8, 1966.

© Rabble Rouser 2000

v v v

Good evening.

Aye, I heard. Hard not to—it's on all the vids. A whisky, please, Quark. And put a round on my tab. Everyone, please listen up. Ye know I'm not one for making speeches, but a great man passed today, and what's more a good old friend, and there's not anyone else I can say that of now. To Captain James T. Kirk, for me the only true captain of the Enterprise, a man to whom the Federation owes its continued existence many times over, who had the bad luck to be done in by no less than two Enterprise captains.

I guess I do sound bitter. Picard's a good sort, mind you. The only one on the ship who seemed to understand how I'd feel about the Enterprise. Strange how the engineer didna understand that. That was the bond between Kirk and me, you see, and even Picard and me. A captain and an engineer are alike in that. To us she's not just a durasteel hull powered by deuterium and dilithium. She's our demanding mistress to whom we give all our devotion. 

But please tell me—where's the sense in two old men physically wrestling with a madman? Was the man daft? He didna seem to me to be the kind of person who'd come up with such a fool notion, and he has to drag in my captain into the bargain.

How do I know Kirk didn't come up with the scheme? He was smarter than that.

Why'd he go along with Picard, then? Because he was tired. Because he had lost confidence in his ability to command. He hadn't fought it when the powers that be made it clear his retirement would be welcome. Len told me how disgusted Kirk was with himself after Khitomer. Kirk felt he'd let hate blind him and worse than that, he'd allowed it to infect the crew. And he had te have heard the whispers about his ruthlessness in pushing aside Will Decker all those years ago. Those same whispers could be heard when he took command from Spock on that blasted training cruise. I'm guessin that affected him more than we knew. 

I could see that on the Enterprise B. He should have taken the center seat. It was plain Harriman didn't belong there, but he told the man a captain belongs on his bridge and went down himself to take care of the deflectors. I've heard some say that Harriman's offering to go down himself showed some courage. Bloody hell—the man just didn't want the responsibility of the center seat. You should have seen how fast he relinquished command to Pavel and me afterwards. We searched for hours …

Anyway, that's how I know. I've looked into the scientific theories behind the Nexus since then. I couldna believe Kirk was really dead ye see and I thought… Well, I spoke to a survivor of the Lakul who was there. It's a place where time doesn't exist. Picard would have stepped in there and found the man who was ready to retire. And Kirk would have deferred to the captain of the Enterprise.

Given time, Kirk would have realized he's not a man to sit Earthside with memories for company. Given time, Starfleet would have realized that the skills you learn in command don't become obsolete and that ya don't leave a man like that grounded. Given time.

It's different with an engineer. What good is a 75-year-old engineer 75 years out of date?

Aye—I know I've told that story several times. But even as I was telling it I knew I was only able to help because this was the one place I had an advantage over La Forge. The technology of the Jenolen was fresh in my mind while for him the ship was a museum piece. I never told you the other story, did I? How I accidentally disabled the shuttle they gave me and had to send a distress signal to be towed to this station? Nae, that story doesn't make for boasting. But then tonight boastful is not how I feel.

Aye—she's repaired. I could do as I told them and go off exploring. But what's the use of discovering the wonders of the universe without someone to share them with? You know—half the time on the Enterprise I'd bury me head in some tech journal when I was off-duty. Len would have to drag me out of my cabin for shore leave. I never thought I'd miss them this much. 

No—they're all truly gone now. Oh, I hear tell that Spock's off on Romulus somewhere, but how would I ever be able to find him? I wonder if he's heard. Len—he was the first I thought to get in touch with when Data told me he'd met him a few years before. Leonard McCoy an admiral! Who'd have thought he'd get along well enough with the brass to make flag rank! But he'd died just that year. At least he's not here for this. Picard's in luck.

Most of them died in the Battle of Tomed. Chekov over on his own ship, the Discovery; Sulu, Rand, Chapel, and Masters on the Excelsior. Even little Angie—Angela Martine. I knew her when she was in pigtails, and I gave her away at both her weddings. Yes, that one—Admiral Martine-Levi, victor of Tomed. God, if victory cost us that much, then what must have it cost the Romulans? Sometimes I wonder if things might have gone differently if Kirk had been around back then.

That's part of what makes it so hard. There's no one to mourn him with. No one who could understand the loss in a personal way. No, lads, I'm glad to be here. I was starting to drink at home when I stopped myself and came here. That's no way to honor James Kirk—to get stinking drunk alone.

Lord, I never used to blab so much. But I guess that's why old men are garrulous. What else do we have to do except chew on old memories? Make new ones?

Almost once. Mira Romaine. She had gotten herself transferred back to Earth during the Enterprise's refit and we tried to make a go of it. Once the glow of romance dulled, though, we found we didn't fit. Oh, she tried. But I had spent too much time alone and set in my ways. I wouldn't meet her halfway. I went on living the way I always had and thought it was enough being in a room with her while I pored over tech manuals and engineering drafts and specs. 

The last straw was when after V'Ger I went back to the Enterprise as chief engineer. Mira had wanted me to accept an offer from Grumman-Rolls with their spaceship division. I never even discussed my decision with her. Just joked that it wasn't a temptation. Starfleet had the best toys. Yes, I designed most of the modifications for the Enterprise refit.  The design of the Excelsior class was mine too before the higher-ups mucked it up. But I never wanted to stay Earthside.  I needed to have a ship under me—it wasn't enough for me to play with one on paper. I spoke with Mira's grandson after I returned. She'd never even mentioned me. Captain Kirk and Spock and McCoy and the Enterprise but not a word about me. She had a generous heart. I must have hurt her more than I knew.

Then there was Nyota Uhura. God, wasn't it a shock to visit the academy and find an entire building named after the lass. But then she spent far more time there as a professor than she ever had on the Enterprise. Sixty years. She's buried there. She once opened the door a bare inch and I slammed it fast. Oh, she was addled by Sybok, I told myself. But I never brought it up again. The lass wasna shy and she was never one to hold in her feelings. I told myself that if she meant it sober it would be for her to bring it up. It didn't occur to me to think how unfair that was. She had told me how she felt, but I kept my feelings to myself and expected her to take the risk. Damn proud fool!

You know, in the end I can't help but feel Kirk is lucky. A man can live too long. His is the kind of legacy that endures. He died on a mission without surviving to live without purpose.

Purpose.

Aye. That's what I'm missing. That's why it wasn't enough to design paper ships. The Enterprise was no toy ship. And I have nothing left with which to build anew. Starfleet would never take me back even though I'm back up to speed with the technology.  I never created a family of my own and I have none to go back to. My sister blamed me for Peter's death. Said it was me who filled the boy's head with romantic tales that made him crazy to get into space.  Said I should have taken better care of the lad.  We hadn't spoken since, and after 75 years, there's no one who knows me.

That's good to hear, and you're good lads, but you don't know the man who earned his pay by keeping the heart of a great ship alive.

Aye, you're right. There is the one alive. I have to try. I don't know what blasted good an old fart like me might do on Romulus—but I can't continue like this. One more round on me—then I have to get going. I have a lot to get done tomorrow.

The End

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