Captain’s Personal Log, Stardate 47111.5
Captain Matsumoto Sulu
I’ve always had a fascination with the USS Excelsior. I suppose that is no surprise, given my family’s history with this ship and my previous service on the USS Bridgetown, herself a fine example of the Excelsior class. But I think I’m influenced by two things, when it comes to my first command: the original Excelsior in the time of my grandfather, and the intriguing Klingon styles introduced to me by my old friend Pok.
Back when Grandfather Hikaru assumed command of this starship she was still a brand-new and sophisticated innovation. This sophistication, which of course led to the debacle of her inaugural flight when Excelsior was called upon to pursue the USS Enterprise, has always fascinated me, and in preparing for this command I took it upon myself to call up the design schematics from the 2290s, nearly 80 years ago in the life of this grand old Federation legend.
Back in the day she was expected to make Warp 12 and still have room to spare (the projections in the old schematics say Warp 14 was achievable in short bursts). That was when there was still faith in the new Trans-Warp technology. My Excelsior is still a sleek and graceful starfarer, but she won’t be making those speeds and risk my helmsman “flying her apart!” I’ve promised myself I’ll avoid making use of this frequently quoted line of Grandfather’s, especially now it has become a bit of a joke across the fleet (as an aside, my first experience of the Kobayashi Maru test involved my commander ordering me to “fly her apart, Ensign Sulu!” to loud guffaws all round… the fact that ten minutes later the exercise killed us all didn’t dampen the humour of the moment!).
She always was well-armed, but now we have the new Quantum Torpedoes instead of the low-energy phaser banks: a damn good trade as far as I’m concerned.
I also noted with a smile that in 2292 Captain Sulu commanded 810 crew aboard this ship. With the upgrades and the skill of the last refit Excelsior doesn’t need so many men and women to keep her ship-shape and afloat, but the Captain Sulu of 2371 still has hundreds under his command – an honour and responsibility in equal measure.
The other influence on me, and on Excelsior, is that of my old Klingon friend, Pok. I served with him before his death in the Battle of Wolf 359, and we became the most unusual of fast friends. Over the three years of our friendship he told me almost nothing about his service in the Imperial fleet before he joined Starfleet: he was clearly a little wistful about this time in his life (if a Klingon could ever be described as “wistful” that is…) but would say nothing of where he’d served, and what he had done and seen. But one thing came through clearly: he missed serving on his beloved old D7M Cruiser, IKS Battlecry.
To Pok this was a true Klingon ship, a ship with attitude, a ship to strike terror in the hearts of its enemies as it imperiously approached, boom raised to give the fore Disruptor Bay a clear shot. Pok said that most battles were won just by this approach, and the deep red glow of the disruptors arming. But, he loudly decried Klingons that relied upon cloaking devices and had no time for the iconic Klingon Bird Of Prey:
“Pah! The Bird of Prey is nothing more than a hiding place for weaklings and children who fear to face the enemy with their honour in one hand and their batleth in the other!”
Once he drew a rough schematic of Battlecry’s bridge for me, saying that the D7’s designers were making fun of every D7 Captain in the Klingon Empire. When I asked what he meant he laughed and pointed out that on the D7 bridge three of the crew consoles were placed behind the Captain, making it impossible for him to always see all his command crew… Obviously, this left him hopelessly vulnerable to assassination…
But I loved the design. And despite the risk to my health from my command crew I tried to incorporate it into the refit of Excelsior’s bridge. I haven’t managed to replicate the D7 bridge exactly – that probably wouldn’t be entirely appropriate anyway – but I have achieved the look and feel of which I think Pok would approve.
I also had a Klingon command chair installed – now I know Pok would approve of that!