Lieutenant Riley sat at the helm of the Enterprise, enjoying the feel of the controls under his fingers, and the knowledge that he was navigating hundreds of tonnes of star ship almost single handedly. Before him an endless vista of stars spread out as far as the view screen could see. The stars didn't appear to be moving as quickly as usual, owing to the fact that the Enterprise had dropped down to impulse power for the routine mapping mission they had been assigned to following their disastrous encounter with the Psi 2000 virus.
Next to him, Sulu stifled a yawn, which Riley caught out of the corner of his eye.
"Still awake?" He asked jokingly.
"Just barely." Sulu replied.
Riley glanced from the controls to the screen as he talked. "This goes on too much longer, the Klingons won;t have to kill us. We'll be dead from boredom".
"Klingons huh?" Sulu said. "I almost hope they show up soon. Or the Romulans".
"Anything would be better than this". Riley agreed.
Almost as if in answer to his wishes, Lieutenant Uhura spun around in her seat. "Captain, I'm picking up a Romulan transmission".
"Put it on speaker Lieutenant". Kirk said standing up.
Sulu and Riley immediately snapped to attention, their friendly banter forgotten as the alien language filtered through the ship's speakers, instantly translating to standard.
"...boarded. This is the Romulan vessel Titan. Surrender and prepare to be boarded. This is the Romulan vessel-"
"There's a Romulan bird of prey approaching on the starboard side". Mr Spock Confirmed from his station.
"How'd they get all the way out here". Kirk asked. Their mission had taken them nowhere near the neutral zone.
"Unknown". Mr Spock replied.
"Capt'n." Mr Scott called from his station. "I've detected four transported beams fixed on the bridge".
Impossible. "Aren't the shields up?" Kirk asked, alarmed.
"Aye. But they're beamin' in anyway Capt'n". Was the reply. "I cannae explain it."
Even as his words died away, three figures appeared on the bridge clad in Romulan military garb. At their feet was a device, alien in design but still unmistakably a bomb.
Kirk addressed Lieutenant Uhura. "Send out a red alert". He ordered.
She turned to her communications panel but before she could carry out her orders, the panel exploded in a shower of sparks.
The Romulan who had fired kept his weapon trained on the bridge crew. One crew member made a brave dash to the turbo lift, hoping to get a warning out, but again there was another shot and the controls fused under the power of the Romulan phaser.
"You're completely cut off from your ship Captain". The head Romulan sneered. "In exactly thirty seconds we'll be beamed back to our ship and this explosive will detonate, destroying your entire ship".
He kept his phaser pointed at the Captain. One of his companions herded the rest of the bridge crew together while the other knelt down and activated the countdown on the bomb.
I t had all happened so fast. Almost before they'd realized it, the Romulans had them at their mercy. In mere seconds they would be vaporized. Time was now their enemy, simply for the fact that they didn't have any.
So Riley acted without thinking.
He launched himself at the nearest Romulan, relying on the element of surprise to give him the advantage. He knocked the phaser out of his hands and wrestled him to the floor. Momentarily, frozen at the unexpected retaliation it took the two remaining Romulans a fraction of a second too long to react. By the time they had their phasers on Riley he'd scrambled to his feet and armed himself with the fallen weapon.
A well aimed kick was enough to disarm the Romulan closest to him. Calling on all of his star fleet combat training he swiftly disabled the first Romulan while simultaneously keeping the second one from reaching his dropped phaser. The other officers watched in amazement at his mastery of hand-to-hand combat.
Seeing he was distracted the third intruder turned to fire, in his preoccupation forgetting to keep his eyes on Captain Kirk. The Captain jumped on him from behind, causing the phaser shot to go wild, missing Riley completely.
But the victory was only a minor one. In a move worthy of any old style terran kung-fu holovid, the Romulan twisted in the Kirk's grip and locked his arm about his neck in a vise like grip sneering triumphantly at Riley over the Captains shoulder.
"Will you shoot your own Captain?" He gloated, using Kirk like a human shield.
Any other officer might have hesitated, when faced with the possibility of shooting their Captain, but with only seconds to spare, Riley knew he didn't have the luxury of indecision.
A single shot from his phaser impacted the Romulan's shoulder inches from Kirk's head, causing the Romulan to lose his grip on Kirk and stagger backwards.
For a second it seemed that the crew of the Enterprise now had the advantage but just then, the sound of the alien transporter cut through the silence. Their thirty-seconds were up.
With only a split-second to act, Riley thought faster than he ever had in his life.
The Romulan who'd been holding Kirk, stood up clutching his injured shoulder. Just as he began to dematerialize, Riley delivered a flying kick to the centre of his chest, sending him flying backwards, straight into the bomb, bringing them into physical contact.
The transporter beam took them both.
The entire crew watched the view screen breathlessly where the Romulan ship was still visible. They didn't have long to wait. A bright orange fireball blossomed in the screen sending out shock waves in every direction which rocked the Enterprise.
Gradually the waves subsided and when the view cleared, nothing remained of the Romulan Vessel but floating debris. There followed a moment of stunned silence.
Finally Captain Kirk spoke. "You saved the ship Lieutenant." The pride was evident in his voice.
"Any officer in my place would have done the same". Riley replied modestly.
"Maybe." Uhura said. "But we were all here too. And we froze, while you acted".
Scotty came up beside him to clap him on the shoulder. "Aye." He agreed. "That's the difference between an officer and a hero".
Kirk began to clap. Within moments everyone had joined in. Even Spock.
Then Christine seemed to magically appear at his side, gazing at him with those beautiful blue eyes of hers.
"That was the bravest thing I've ever seen". She said breathlessly, her voice full of wonder.
"All in a days work". He assured her snaking his arm around her waist to pull her against him.
She twined her long slender arms about his neck, leaning in towards him.
He was vaguely aware of his name being chanted in the background as their lips met.
"Riley". Sulu said a little more firmly, tapping his friends shoulder. Riley came alert with a start, looking around as though he'd forgotten the bridge existed.
"Look". Sulu said, turning back to the controls. "I know things are a little slow right now, but I can;t have you falling asleep on me.
"I wasn't sleeping," Riley protested. "Just ...thinking". He certainly wasn't going to say daydreaming.
"Uh huh. And what is it you were thinking so hard about?" Sulu asked, grinning.
"Nothing important." Riley sighed, and went back to thinking up excuses to drop by sickbay.