There's a bar called The Captain's Table, where those who have commanded mighty vessels of every shape and era can meet, relax, and share a friendly drink or two with others of their calling. Sometimes a brawl may break out but it's all in the family, more or less. Just remember, the first round of drinks is always paid for with a story... even in Thallonian space.
Six years ago, long before he took command of the Starship Excalibur, a young Starfleet officer named Mackenzie Calhoun served as first officer aboard the USS Grissom. Then disaster struck, and Calhoun took the blame. A court-martial led to his own angry resignation from Starfleet... or so it appeared. At long last Captain Calhoun reveals the true story behind the greatest tragedy of his life.
Captain Calhoun starts the story by telling the tale of the first man he killed when beginning the Xenexian Revolution. This occurs several years after M'k'n'zy witnesses his father's death at the hands of the Danteri oppressors. His target is Stener, a tax collector who is traveling on the back of a pok and is escorted by three guards. M'k'n'zy stalks him down the streets of Calhoun and eventually out of the village as they take the road to Moute. M'k'n'zy makes his way up into the high ground, about ten feet above the road to plan his ambush, picking up three rocks. As soon as the Danteri are in range, M'k'n'zy throws the stones, hitting each of the three guards square in the head. Stener isn't even sure what happens when his guards hit the ground. M'k'n'zy leaps down from the ledge, drawing his sword, and informing Stener that the Xenexians will sit idly by no longer. However, one of the guards comes to and begins to spar with him. M'k'n'zy hits the guard in the head and caves his skull in to win the battle, but Stener is able to escape. Looking down at the guard, M'k'n'zy is shocked to see that he doesn't seem to look evil at all. The guard, barely conscious, doesn't seem to recognize M'k'n'zy as an enemy. He asks for his hand, and then thanks M'k'n'zy, as he didn't want to die alone. M'k'n'zy realizes he is actually crying over the corpse of the guard, and picks him up and buries him in a nearby cave out of pity. He then returns to the village.
A few months later the revolution is underway, and M'k'n'zy has been given the rank of r'ksha or captain. He never again feels the same sense of loss after a kill as he did when standing over that guard. Unfortunately, he loses his entire regiment during an ambush by the Danteri. Though his brother D'ndai and the other Xenexians don't hold him responsible, he does, and is wandering the streets of Calhoun aimlessly. He comes across a bar labeled the "R'ksha Foldes", translating into The Captain's Table. Confused, since he never remembers this establishment existing, M'k'n'zy walks in. His confusion escalates more when he looks around to see species he can't even identify, including some humans. Xenex would not normally have this many visitors. The owner of the establishment greets M'k'n'zy, identifying himself as Cap. He then congratulates him for being the youngest person ever to visit the Captain's Table. Though M'k'nzy has a slight run-in with Captain Gloriosus, a Roman legion, Cap is able to convince him to stay, offering him a mug of beer, something M'k'n'zy has never heard of. M'k'n'zy inquires as to the state of a peculiar captain in the corner. Dressed in blue with a white beard, he keeps muttering incoherently about an iceberg. Cap clarifies that he lost his ship. M'k'n'zy and Cap talk for a brief while before M'k'n'zy heads on his way. As he leaves, Cap gives him some advice, and tells him this time his stay at the Captain's Table was free, next time he will have to pay with a story. M'k'n'zy leaves the mysterious establishment, and is never able to find it in the village of Calhoun again.
Years later, in his ready room, Calhoun is venting his frustration to Shelby that the Excalibur has not been called to the front lines of Dominion War, feeling his place is with the fleet. Shelby proposes that perhaps ships like Excalibur are being held from the front lines because if things go poorly for the Federation during the war, men like Calhoun will be needed to run the revolution. Later, still unable to sleep, Calhoun goes into the holodeck, a simulation of Tamaran City on Rigel IX to blow off some steam. He wanders the streets of the city, and to his surprise, comes across a bar called The Captain's Table. He walks in and finds it much as he left it. He begins talking to Cap, but is shocked to see a ghost from his past across the bar, Captain Norman Kenyon. Calhoun tries to approach him and warn him of the disaster that ended his career, but he can't physically seem to get over there. Cap tells Calhoun to sit down, warning him he can't do anything to change the timeline. Calhoun orders a beer, and after some convincing from Cap, begins to tell the story of his posting to the USS Grissom.
Calhoun starts by talking about Captain Kenyon for a little while, noting that he originally commanded the USS Harriman until he lost his wife and science officer, Marsha Kenyon. He was offered a leave of absence but refused to take it and was given command of the USS Grissom. Now his current first officer, Paullina Simons has been given her own command, so Commander Mackenzie Calhoun, coming highly recommended from Admiral Edward Jellico is interviewing for the position. Calhoun beams aboard the Grissom and meets Katerina Mueller, the ship's Executive Officer. The two compare scars for a minute before going to the bridge, where Calhoun is introduced to Lieutenant Romeo Takahashi, "Hash" for short, the science and ops officer. Calhoun is then called into the ready room by Kenyon.
Kenyon admits he is impressed by Calhoun's recommendation from Jellico, but asks Calhoun to explain why his other commanding officers have provided him with some that are only lukewarm at best. He reads Jellico's statement where Calhoun as tactical and security officer was able to fight fifteen men to rescue Jellico and his son from a first contact mission gone sour. Kenyon then notes that all Calhoun's commanding officers have viewed him as headstrong and insubordinate, not paying as much attention to the regulations as they would like him to. This is the kind of officer Kenyon is looking for. He feels too "loved" by his crew and is afraid they won't question his actions if he is making a mistake. Calhoun agrees to this and signs aboard the Grissom
Though Calhoun does not really strike up any friendships with the crew, soon after his posting he begins a relationship with Katerina Mueller. This starts when Calhoun hears the sounds of swordfighting coming from the Holodeck. He enters, and finds Mueller fighting a horde of enemies. He joins her in fighting them off, and once the battle is complete, the two make love in the holodeck without speaking a word. They then start a shipboard romance that never really advances past this level.
A few days later, Kenyon calls a staff meeting for Calhoun, Takahashi, Dr. Villers, the CMO and Cray, the Andorian chief of security. The Grissom has been assigned to oversee peace talks in the Anzibar system between the Carvargna, the original inhabitants of Anzibar II, and the Dufaux, who settled on the planet via an ark ship. The Carvargna, though typically a peace-loving people, were able to drive the Dufaux off their own planet after they began to try to capture more land, and the Dufaux were forced to settle on Anzibar IV. The Carvargna have asked the Federation to help mediate peace, since raids between the two planets have been occurring sporadically for years. Kenyon is thrilled as the diplomatic team will consist of his brother, Byron Kenyon, and his daughter, Stephanie Kenyon.
Soon thereafter, Byron and Stephanie are beamed aboard the Grissom. Calhoun is impressed when Stephanie identifies him as a Xenexian and correctly pronounces his given name of M'k'n'zy. Calhoun watches Norman and Byron Kenyon joke around a little and becomes wistful upon noticing that his own relationship with his brother did not progress that way. Kenyon orders a course set for Anzibar and also has Calhoun show his daughter around the vessel. At this point, Calhoun chooses to assure the reader that nothing happened between them. Calhoun and Stephanie discuss her father a little, Stephanie admitting that she fears sometimes he may be disappointed in her for not joining Starfleet, though she doesn't regret her decision. Stephanie kisses Calhoun after they finish talking while Calhoun escorts her back to her quarters explaining that he wouldn't be comfortable being in a relationship with the Captain's daughter. By the time he returns to his own quarters, he find Mueller waiting for him there and she teases him saying him and Stephanie make a cute couple and that he is trying to sleep his way to the top.
Another Senior Staff meeting is called when they are a few hours away from Anzibar. Some complications have arisen, a coup has occurred among the Dufaux, and the group who has come to power is extremely opposed to Federation intervention. Hash suggests they meet with the Carvagna only, but the others say that is pointless. Byron walks into the conference room and says he was successful in finding a member of the Dufaux willing to meet with him, a man named Kradius. He has agreed to meet on Anzibar IV with only Byron and Stephanie, and refuses to allow a security escort or to beam aboard the Grissom. Calhoun and Cray both warn against this, but Byron assures them he will be fine. Kenyon doesn't want to allow him to go down, but Byron reminds him that he actually has the authority in this situation. Kenyon retorts that the Dufaux have often been classified as savages at best. This argument escalates quickly, and Kenyon eventually allows them to go, but has subcutaneous transporters implanted within the two of them and forces them to check in every hour with a simple hidden comm device. If they fail to check in, he will immediately beam them up. Calhoun warns Kenyon he may have made a mistake in allowing them to beam down, but admits to Kenyon that he likely would have done the same thing in his position.
Kenyon is clearly nervous after letting Stephanie and Byron beam down. Mueller comes in to relieve him of duty for the gamma shift, but Kenyon decides to stay on. Stephanie and Byron check in as requested the first two times, but are late on the third. After a few minutes pass, Kenyon orders them beamed back up. Calhoun tries to warn him against going to the transporter room, but Kenyon pulls him aside and chastises him for making it seem that there's something he can't handle in front of the crew. Calhoun clarifies that he meant there are some things he shouldn't have to handle. As Calhoun feared, Stephanie and Byron have been killed, beaten to death. They are sent to sickbay, but Villers can't do anything for them. Kenyon and Calhoun go to see the bodies, and Kenyon appears to be in shock, displaying no emotion. Kradius then hails the Grissom with the message "Let that be a warning to you." Kenyon returns to duty, appearing calm and collected. Calhoun notes to the reader that this is when Kenyon cracked, but displayed no signs of it, and that is what made him so dangerous.
Calhoun goes to Kenyon to ask to be relieved of duty, since he failed to effectively warn the Captain he felt he was making a mistake when allowing Stephanie and Byron to beam down. Kenyon says not to worry about it, as it was his decision to make, and reminds him that they didn't kill Stephanie and Byron, Kradius did. He then announces that he will be continuing negotiations, and will soon be meeting with the Carvargna himself. Calhoun starts to worry about him, saying that this might not be the best time for him to pursue this, but Kenyon insists. Calhoun later expresses his concern to Mueller, but she tells him not to worry about it.
Calhoun is still worried about Kenyon after he returns from his meeting with the Carvargna and tries to get Dr. Villers to relieve him of duty. Villers feels there isn't enough grounds for this, assures Calhoun she knows Kenyon better than he does, and then accuses him of attempting to use this opportunity to get ahead. Calhoun retorts that she's too blinded by loyalty to see Kenyon is clearly sick, and then storms out of sickbay.
Soon thereafter, Kenyon calls a senior staff meeting. He announces that the Carvargna wish to cooperate with them in any way that they can. They fight the Dufaux only because they have to, and therefore Kenyon has agreed to upgrade the Carvargna's weaponry so they have an edge over the Dufaux. Calhoun interjects, asking if they can even do that, but Kenyon insists he has the Federation's permission as they wish to send a strong message back to the Dufaux, and though they cannot intervene directly, they can use to Carvargna. The senior staff all volunteers their help, even Calhoun despite his not being completely comfortable with the idea. Kenyon informs Calhoun he will be helping the Carvargna plan their attacks, as he is the only one with notable experience in this field.
Though it is a difficult task, the Grissom crew all assist the Carvargna in preparing for battle with the Dufaux. At one point, Lieutenant Mick Gold, the Conn Officer approaches Calhoun, asking whether he has actually seen the orders from Starfleet to aid the Carvargna since he still thinks they feel a bit strange. Calhoun admits that he hasn't, and takes Gold's concern under advisement. Later, Calhoun and Mueller express their doubts over this mission to each other as well.
Nearly two weeks after the Grissom began assisting the Carvargna, a transmission comes in from Starfleet. Kenyon takes it in his ready room. When he comes out, he has Cray hail Barhba, the Carvargna leader, and alerts him that the Grissom must depart for other missions, expressing his regret that he couldn't help them further. The Grissom then leaves for the Romulan Neutral Zone to investigate a buildup there. The buildup is actually due to an Orion Pirate ring that the Grissom is able to break up before they can form close ties with the Romulans. Soon thereafter, they transfer the corpses of Byron and Stephanie Kenyon to a transport vessel where a memorial service is held. Calhoun notes to the reader that he began to see Captain Kenyon become more bitter and angry during this period, similar to how his father acted when he became increasingly weary of Danteri rule. Despite that Dr. Villers and Counselor Nugent both assure Calhoun that Kenyon is grieving, but coping, Calhoun still fears problems. He tries to meet with Kenyon, who he begins to see as a father figure, on a social basis, but Kenyon keeps turning him down.
Some time later, the Grissom receives another transmission from Starfleet, and though Kenyon chooses to take it in his ready room as usual, Calhoun has a bad feeling about it. Kenyon soon calls a staff meeting, informing the crew that they will be returning to the Anzibar system to check up on the Carvargna. The crew is confused by this, but proceeds to Anzibar nonetheless. Calhoun now informs the reader that this would be the last mission of the USS Grissom under the command of Captain Norman Kenyon.
When the Grissom crew returns to Anzibar, they are shocked to see the large Carvargna fleet in orbit of their planet. Calhoun is still uncomfortable and tries to speak with Kenyon, but Kenyon brushes him aside and leaves with Cray to speak to Barhba aboard his flagship. Kenyon returns and holds a staff meeting to inform the crew that the Carvargna are planning to launch an assault on the Dufaux at Anzibar IV. The Grissom will be escorting the fleet there, and though they will not participate in the battle, they will fly next to them as a symbol of the power the Dufaux crossed. Kenyon asks if anyone objects, and Mueller speaks up, saying that this is sick and the Federation is supposed to stand for something greater. Gold and Hash agree with her. Kenyon turns to Calhoun for his thoughts, and Calhoun says he's with the Captain, since he has difficulty feeling any sympathy for the Dufaux and since Starfleet ordered them here in the first place. Mueller warns all of them that by doing this, they're going to be pulled into a dark situation they can't get out of. Still, with Calhoun's approval, they decide to go ahead with Kenyon's plan.
After a discussion in the turbolift with Mueller, Calhoun feels that something about this situation doesn't add up. It's too convenient that the Grissom was ordered back just as the Carvagna fleet was mobilizing. He attempts to access all Starfleet transmissions received in the past 48 hours to verify their orders, but the computer states that none have been received. He then realizes that Cray was the one who told the bridge crew a transmission had come in, and thus had lied. Calhoun goes to Kenyon to inform him of this, urging Kenyon to put Cray under arrest for misleading him and to leave the system before whatever else Cray was planning is set into motion. While doing this however, Calhoun realizes that Kenyon and Cray have been working together. Their true orders, according to Kenyon, were to try to reopen peace talks, not arm the Carvagna. Kenyon did this of his own free will and worked out a time table with Barhba as to when he would return. Calhoun berates Kenyon for betraying the crew's trust. Kenyon then goes into a fit of rage, screaming about how they must kill all of the Dufaux. Calhoun wistfully looks at Kenyon, realizing he has now fully gone insane. The ship is rocked by weapons fire, and Gold informs them that the Dufaux fleet is attacking. Kenyon orders to begin targeting Dufaux vessels, but Calhoun interrupts in order to relieve him of command. Kenyon refuses, and Cray fires the phasers on two Dufaux vessels, destroying them. Calhoun objects, but Cray fires again. Calhoun jumps at Cray to try to push him away from the station, but Cray knocks him out of the air and overpowers him until a security team arrives to places Calhoun in the brig for attempted mutiny. Calhoun then materializes on a transporter pad, having been beamed off the bridge by Mueller. During the fight on the bridge, Hash alerted Mueller that Calhoun was in trouble through the Ops board and she rushed to the transporter room to help him. Mueller crushes Calhoun's comm badge, and then hears people coming so Calhoun is forced to hide in a storage bin. Once the danger passes, Mueller and Calhoun discuss the situation with Lieutenant Melissa Shemin, the transporter chief who has witnessed this. Kenyon's voice comes over the intercom, alerting the crew that Commander Calhoun has attempted mutiny against the Captain, is likely under Dufaux influence, and has supporters. Mueller and Shemin realize that security is going to search every inch of the ship until they find Calhoun, leaving them with only one option. Soon thereafter, an environmental suit-clad Calhoun is beamed on to the ship's hull.
Clinging to the outside of the saucer section, Calhoun hears only the sound of his breath while watching the Carvargna and Grissom slaughter the Dufaux fleet. His horror only increases when he sees they are in range of Anzibar IV and the Carvargna commence an orbital bombardment. Mueller soon hails Calhoun through his suit, warning Calhoun that Cray has posted security guards around all transporter pads and it will be difficult for him to return to the ship. With only eighteen minutes of air left, Calhoun begins to slowly make his way to one of the photon torpedo tubes.
Calhoun removes his suit once he enters the torpedo tube, as there is air in there since it connects to the torpedo bay. His respite is interrupted though when he notices the tube lights up as a torpedo is coming through. Calhoun runs back out of the tube and is forced to re-enter the vacuum without the suit, clinging on to the edge of the tube for dear life as a torpedo gently grazes him before destroying a Dufaux fighter. Calhoun barely manages to pull himself back into the tube and now proceeds into the Torpedo Bay room where he knocks the two officers unconscious. Mueller enters the room to meet Calhoun and bring him up to speed. The Dufaux were forced to surrender unconditionally as Anzibar IV is in ruins. Kradius is alive and held by the Carvargna. Calhoun swears he must stop this before it gets any worse, and when Mueller asks him how exactly it could, Calhoun elaborates. He projects that the Carvargna rulers will be putting Kradius on trial, and Kenyon has been invited down to participate in it. Calhoun says they must stop Kenyon and Cray before Kenyon kills Kradius, as once Kenyon has killed a helpless man, it will change him forever, and Calhoun doesn't wish that on Kenyon. Mueller is able to get the coordinates to where Kenyon beamed down to from Hash, but as the two proceed to one of the transporter rooms they are beamed away, rematerializing in the transport room only to find Cray, phaser drawn, waiting for them.
Cray suspected Mueller and Calhoun were working together, so he locked on to Mueller's comm badge and beamed whoever was near her to the transporter room. He was lucky enough to get Calhoun. Calhoun tries to bait Cray into fighting him hand to hand, forcing him to lose his advantage. Cray fires at Mueller, clipping her in the shoulder and sending her down. Calhoun then spits at Cray, who puts the phaser down and prepares to fight him hand to hand. Calhoun picks up the phaser Cray put down and fires it at him. Cray goes down and Calhoun goes back to check on Mueller, but Cray comes to and charges at him, knocking the phaser out of his hand. Calhoun and Mueller are eventually able to overpower Cray, tearing one of his antennae off in the process. With Cray indisposed, Calhoun beams down to Anzibar IV.
Kenyon, Villers, Boyajian, and Meyer are witnessing Kradius' trial along with Barhba. Barhba seems bored with the whole business, as the Dufaux do not pose a threat anymore and he simply wants to return home. Kenyon on the other hand is drawn in and involved. Kenyon begins the accusations, but Kradius refuses to answer for his crimes, not seeing a point to it. He soon realizes that Byron and Stephanie were related to Captain Kenyon, and Kenyon confirms this, informing Kradius that he's now alone and without family. Kradius informs Kenyon that due to the barrage from the Carvagna, his three mates and nineteen children are dead as well. Kenyon tells Kradius he brought that upon himself, by killing representatives of the Federation he gave permission to come to his world, but Kradius denies this, saying that one of his lieutenants gave the permission, and once he found out about his schemes, he was executed, and Kradius sent Byron and Stephanie away. Barhba interrupts to tell Kenyon he leaves Kradius' life in his hands. Kenyon orders Boyajian and Meyer to line up and take aim, much to Dr. Viller's objection, but the two refuse to fire, reminding Kenyon that they're security guards, and the UFP doesn't have a death penalty. Kradius begins to taunt Kenyon, telling him about how Byron and Stephanie were tortured and how they begged for their lives. Kenyon, forgetting his own phaser, takes Meyer's and rushes Kradius. At this point, Commander Calhoun emerges from the crowd, aiming a phaser at Kenyon, warning him to stand down and that there is still a chance to save himself from this vengeance that consumes him. Calhoun soon realizes he will be unable to stop Kenyon, even if he shoots him he still might get a shot off at Kradius. Realizing Kenyon will never be able to truly heal while Kradius lives, Calhoun aims at Kradius, and blows his head off. However, at the last second, Calhoun notices that Kradius was drawing a weapon as well, the phaser he took from Kenyon when Kenyon rushed him. Villers congratulates Calhoun on his speed and for saving the Captain's life. Calhoun then walks over to Kenyon, telling him to put the phaser down so they can go home. Kenyon turns to Calhoun, telling him that killing Kradius balanced the scales, but only one thing could stop the voices, and with a haunted expression on his face, he turns the phaser on himself and fires.
At the subsequent hearing, Calhoun is exonerated of all charges, along with Takahashi and Mueller, and the three of them are hailed as heroes. Calhoun can't accept this, as he feels he clearly failed Captain Kenyon but not stepping in to stop him while he had the chance, and resigns from Starfleet. Jellico tries to stop him, at one point taking him by the arm, but Calhoun turns and knocks him onto the floor, telling him to go to hell and storming out of the office.
Calhoun then gives a brief summary of how he began to work for Admiral Alynna Nechayev and how he took command of the USS Excalibur to his listener, none other than the bearded man in the blue naval uniform who keeps going on about the iceberg. Calhoun gets up to leave, and is chastised by Cap for "cheating", as the man couldn't hear a word he said, but Calhoun merely retorts that if anyone could appreciate a story about a disaster, he could, and walks out of the bar.
- Barhba • Boyajian • Mackenzie Calhoun • Cap • Cray • D'ndai • Gloriosus • Mick Gold • Byron Kenyon • Norman Kenyon • Stephanie Kenyon • Kradius • Meyer • Katerina Mueller • Nugent • Melissa Shemin • Stener • Romeo Takahashi • Villers
- Referenced only
- Edward Jellico • Franklin Jellico • Marsha Kenyon • Paullina Simons
Starships and vehiclesEdit
- Anzibar • Anzibar II • Anzibar IV • The Captain's Table • Moute • Rigel IX • Romulan Neutral Zone • Tamaran City • Xenex
Races and culturesEdit
States and organizationsEdit
Ranks and titlesEdit
- admiral • captain • chief medical officer • chief of security • commander • commanding officer • conn officer • counselor • doctor • executive officer • first officer • legion • lieutenant • pirate • r'ksha • science officer • security officer • tactical officer • tax collector • transporter chief
Science and technologyEdit
- environmental suit • holodeck • iceberg • phaser • photon torpedo • subcutaneous transporter • torpedo tube • turbolift
- beard • beer • bridge • city • Dominion War • first contact • kiss • Maraltian seev-ale • memorial service • month • planet • pok • sickbay • sword • torpedo bay • transporter room
- This novel is also part of the ongoing Star Trek: New Frontier series, and is best read in release order between Fire on High and Double or Nothing, though can also function as a stand alone story.
- Calhoun apparently narrates his story to Captain Edward John Smith of the RMS Titanic, who had found his way into the Captain's Table as his ship was going down.
- The Grissom Disaster, hinted at in various New Frontier novels, especially Fire on High, is finally described here.
- Author Peter David is depicted on the cover of this novel. He's in the back row on the far right.
- The plot of a diplomat being tortured for providing unwanted mediation was previously used by Peter David in the Star Trek comic Death Before Dishonor, though with less lethal results.
- In this novel, Mackenzie Calhoun admits to the reader he's still in love with Elizabeth Shelby.
- When Calhoun was given command of the Excalibur, Mueller, Gold, and Hash all transfer aboard and serve on the Gamma shift. They all appear in Double Time, Mueller appearing in Dark Allies as well.
|Star Trek: The Captain's Table stories|
|Novels||War Dragons • Dujonian's Hoard • The Mist • Fire Ship • Once Burned • Where Sea Meets Sky|
|Tales from the Captain's Table short stories||"Improvisations on the Opal Sea: A Tale of Dubious Credibility" • "Darkness" • "Pain Management" • "LoDnI'pu' vavpu' je" • "The Officers' Club" • "Have Beagle, Will Travel: The Legend of Porthos" • "Iron and Sacrifice" • "Seduced" • "An Easy Fast"|
Fire on High
|NF Stories||Next novel:|
|The Captain's Table |
Where Sea Meets Sky
|The above chronology placements are based on the primary placement in 2374.|
The Pocket Books Timeline places events from this story in two other timeframes:
Chain of Command