STAR TREK Beyond Forever – Part 1 chapter 5 A Long Right, a Left Slide and a Bold Section that’s Tube City

15 01 2017

In their second year at Starfleet Academy, Jim Kirk got Gary Mitchell busted by the San Fransisco branch of San Angeles Vice. The details weren’t important… largely because Jim told it differently every time. In one version, the three women involved were desperate dilithium miners’ wives, in another a trio of self-important, self-obsessed drop dead gorgeous Cadets from influential families and better equipped to be holo’fashion models. The version believed most likely true got to be that way because of its outright puerile popularity due to Jim’s vulgar imagination and his command over humor of the foulest taste….

The natives of the Barzini sector’s one habitable world, humanoids who looked and seemed made of a child’s-toy, stretchable rubber, and bearing lightless eyes in sagging faces, regularly brought a carnival of distinct acrobats, a pleasantly self-described “freak show,” to the moon cities of Earth’s outlying planets. Barzeens, generally, were extremely, impossibly dextrous by human standards; acrobats could assume positions still deemed deviant, even sexually criminal, in certain human circles. It amused Jim that since his legend had begun to take hold through the Federation, there echoed this “true story” of his appealing to the Court on Io to show mercy on an unknown depraved fellow Cadet and rescued said Cadet from the ignominy of permanent Academy expulsion and a year of hard labor at the Hanks’ Basin on Luna. Even Jim had had a laugh at the latest variation he’d heard in Frisco during the year spent mentally and physically recovering and readying his starship for her historic mission; it involved the unnamed Cadet, the seemingly long forgotten Gary Mitchell, and an elaborate set of harnesses and pulleys provided by the hermaphroditic Barzeens. Jim couldn’t resist Gary’s legacy of bawdy lore even after all these years and corrected the Academy T.A. telling the story as if she’d been there: it wasn’t the harnesses and pulleys that got his friend tossed in the civvie can, it was what he did with the bullwhip and the cheap plastic Devil’s mask.

 

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“We say again, unknown submersible, this is American Navy vessel USS La Fayette, a nuclear armed submarine,” a young man’s voice squawked over the futz of the Nautilus’ intercom. “We are a nuclear armed submarine. We order you to surface and prepare to be boarded.”

Kirk turned an ear toward the bridge’s speaker. There was just a moment of swish-swash then a heavy mechanical click and the same voice as before… “This the US Navy, nuclear armed submarine USS La Fayette.” The slight change in intonation, rhythm – this wasn’t a spacecraft with its auto-signals run on “repeat”; there was some kid on the other side of the line, from Tonawanda upstate New York or Huntigdon, Pennsylvania who was either bored out his mind or scared brainless. Kirk looked across the cramped bridge and found himself the only one aboard paying heed to the warning from the now-adversarial American Navy sub. A silent alarm sounded in his head; a low-ranking comm op could let slip his Commander’s real intentions through the thoughtless, simple stressing of the wrong word; that was one reason why Jim had long valued Uhura’s forthright skills – she’d known him long enough and so well, she could speak Klingoni or even enough of the inside lingo of Tellarite mobsters and translate her Captain’s aggravation bordering on hostility into professional charm.

Most of the bridge crew were either attending to menial work details while the officers and the Agents, Maria and Two-Oh-One whom she had called Robert, were gathered around a high table and the plastic map the Nautilus Captain had unrolled across it. Captain Gary Mitchell- – my God, Jim thought
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Jim hadn’t waited for his Agents after the La Fayette’s torpedo detonated intentionally off-target, a warning shot; he rushed from the wardroom, down the short metal stairs, through the tight, oppressive corridor to the only room producing noise and the voice he recognized ordering his crew to “cut the bullshit and knock off the chatter. Damage report! Martini, go below and see if we’re breached.”

Jim, stopped the young tough in the doorway as Robert and Maria crowded in from behind.

“Man your station, kid.,” Jim said.

Barely turning around, just twisting his head over his left shoulder, Gary Mitchell smiled at an old friend.

“Hello, Jim! You have something to say?”

Kirk ignored the loaded nature of the question, assuming – – correctly – – he was being asked for his reasoning in interfering with another man’s crew.

“That torpedo,” Jim said, as the young crewman turned away allowing Kirk to reach overhead, grab a cold water pipe and half-walk, half-swing through the pile-up of control panels and glass marker boards that comprised the twelve man attempt at a bridge set-up, “It detonated a hundred yards away, my guess.”

“The proverbial shot across the bow….”

“So unless this…. submersible of yours isn’t built as badly as it appears and it’s made out of Gorgonzola – -”

“Those clatters and bangs you likely heard?”

“The torpedo’s shrapnel?” Kirk glanced upwards, thinking of the bolted and patched together hull he’d seen as he was drawn to the vessel. “Tough little mother.”

“I was just sending Mister Martini down there to double-check. Better to play it safe.”

“You? Playing safe?”

Mitchell shrugged as Jim came up to him.

He is Gary, Jim stressed to himself. He was older than Jim by four months, born in October of twenty-two thirty-two; both of them weren’t even thirty yet. But Gary’s longish black hair was already showing gray and strongly at his temples. He was in need of a shave and a set of fresh clothes; he looked as if he’d been living in his period wear for a week or more – – baggy tennis shorts and sneakers, a tourist’s shirt from some place like Hawaii beneath a leather Navy flyer’s jacket. His breath smelled of hard liquor and dirty smoke; he was physically fit and sharp, as Jim could see, but slovenly when he once was kind of fierce about the impression he made. But the strangest thing, and Jim hoped he’d have a moment to ask about it flat out, were the glasses he was wearing. Jim assumed they were 1960s prescription lenses but even in the subdued lighting of the cramped bridge, those lenses were pitch black. Sunglasses? Maybe. But strongly rimmed with steel wire and with side pieces that kept his eyes completely sealed from any light.

Still, Jim knew Mitch was staring at him as he stopped in front of him.

“Well,” Gary said in reply to Jim’s observational, opinionated question, asked almost – – almost – – in friendly jest. “There’s something Thirty-One’s taught me, Jim…. Something I never thought really possible….”

Jim tried not to seem to be taking Gary seriously…. failed. A small shrug, a smaller shake of his head escaped him.

“If you’re smart… really smart, you learn it’s possible to change.”

The Gary Mitchell Jim knew had the kind of leadership qualities that got his hands dirty, that held the team together whether that involved sticking around for last call or kicking ass and taking names. But he didn’t have the right stuff, not the way Jim did – bred in the bone to be master and commander. Jim remembered Mitch telling him he’d happily graduate the Academy with Lieutenant’s stripes for life, shuttle piloting the Federation brass to Earth-orbiting Base One as long as he made it back to the beach while surf tide was up. Like Jim, he’d spent an interminable youth in middle America but Gary, then, was no trouble-maker for practical gambling reasons; he didn’t see the payout in drawing too much attention too early and always just did enough, in the sciences mainly, and some basic athletics – track and football, he was a decent cornerback – to receive scholarship offers from a couple of notable colleges geared for Earth-based research companies squabbling over starship computer core contracts. He enlisted in Starfleet largely to avoid making any sort of hardball decision and only partly out of respect for his paternal grandmother who’d become a grade officer without traveling any further than Epsilon One Comm at the edge of the system and had briefly served with Jonathan Archer himself, albeit as his bosun’s mate’s yeoman.

But when Gary arrived on the west coast, the landlubber was overwhelmed by the Pacific. Starfleet Cadet Mitchell made grades that caught a few supervisors’ eyes but by then he’d already slipped into what came easiest for him – doing just enough to succeed – as he embraced the life he felt meant for. A beach bum whose natural athleticism turned him into the hottest amateur surfer anyone at Fleet, Academy or Command, had ever seen. He’d remain a surfer for as long as Jim had known him, turning down sponsorship to turn pro as well as Olympian prospects on and off Earth, completing his freshman and sophomore Academy years out of both rivalry and loyalty to Cadet Kirk and the eerily iron will of the girlfriend he’d grabbed the moment he first saw her laying on the sand his first time on the beach.

Elizabeth Dehner was all arms and legs and breasts, with sharply cut high cheekbones and, when she allowed it, a wide Long Beach smile. She also had a mind and perceptive sense like a phaser set at its sharpest cutting beam. She even bore the nickname – “Hot Lips” – freshman Cadet Jim Kirk had laid on her his third night in Frisco with pride and irony though she’d offer no other explanation save that the new Cadet, a hyper-intelligent small-timer, was, in her appraisal, a looker, certainly, and one carrying too much to prove for a mortal being.

Despite a campus tomcat reputation next in line only to Jim that Liz actually allowed Gary to maintain as a social experiment – she was an Academy junior cadet about to graduate the medical sciences branch, psychiatry – the fact was, and whenever Liz pulled back his scalp and made the cool-tempered diagnosis he’d openly laugh at her, but Gary Mitchell was driven by devotion. An unusual devotion in that it was spread with his laid back sense of equality and equanimity across everything, and anyone he privately felt deeply about. Liz found it strangely intriguing that the vapors of salt water filling his lungs as the red sun was swallowed by clouds and horizon on his last tube of the day meant as much to “Mitch” as Gary’s genuine interest in her latest draft proposal for her Academy Medical Masters dissertation, a complex study, “slide rule” stuff Gary called it Jim remembered, a comparison of fresh-minted officer’s reactions to high stress, life or death situations in the rumored five year deep space agenda Starfleet was developing, as opposed to the same officers scores as cadets in psych based tests for command positions, like the Kobayashi Maru.
Jim never had any more time for Liz Dehner’s ideas of what made Gary Mitchell tick any more than Gary himself but that never prevented him from winding her up whenever the three of them would get together for drinks, sending her through a psycho-wormhole of her own making and emerging from the double talk aware that Kirk had played her again, leaving her to swear how deeply the farm boy had it coming.

Fact was, though Jim was popular at the the Academy, and equally disdained by those whom he couldn’t charm and felt he coasted on the name of a martyr’d hero-father as well as the patronage of the Fleet’s most storied active Captain, he had few close, genuine friends. There was Bones, of course, who, from the start, Jim recognized as his good conscience even if wrapped in the guise of a hard drinking grouse. There were a couple of others who, like Jim, would settle for no less than the Chair; affable Ben Finney, too affable, really, doomed Dave Moss, and the looker from Maine, Cat Dunbar, whose angry desperate confusion was the last familiar thing registering in Jim’s brain from just before leaving the twenty-third century, twenty-two-sixty-one, and being swallowed by the rolling fog… of Time.

And there was “Mitch,” with whom Jim agreed they could be posted on opposite ends of known space for years long, mind-twisting challenges and be able to, when bumping into each other back at Hammerhead’s beach-side bar floating off-shore at Bimini, pick up their argument mid-sentence about the over rated quarterback for the Patriots Proxima Achilles-based farm team. They’d gone drinking at Hammerhead’s hours after their final written Tac-section exams their junior year with quarterly limited field assignments waiting days away until break. Mitch had just wanted to bust Jim’s balls for his novice skills at riding rips, impressing the lovlies on the beach, but Jim, despite the icy booze, got serious. Captain Steve Garrovick of the front liner Constitution-class Farragut had suggested his Security Chief take Jim on as her aide-de-camp for his first duty call, a prodigious assignment that would likely see landing party command. Gary Mitchell had lobbied for and got the relief navigator of the Van Allen-class, USS Wright, plotting low warp milk runs transporting settlement gear to middle distance colonies.

Jim might have assumed this was Gary’s typical idea of a joke, his inside out sense of sarcasm, abetted by Liz who’d left a recorded comm pic the night before, warning Jim in her best low tones that Mitch had made decisions about his future he’d find as difficult as she had. But then and there, in Hammerhead’s, Gary’s eyes told Jim just how serious he was.

Gary’s eyes revealed everything if you watched him closely, knew him well. A rare burst of showy anger, a notable turn of the profane and you could see it in his high schooler’s stare, his nearly blank dark eyes letting you know exactly what he thought or felt. And Jim’s attempt to convince him that he could get him aboard the Farragut as a shuttle driver with, maybe, third tier relief duty at helm was met with that stare and Kirk could read the kind thankfulness there – and the dismissal, his certainty of choice.

Kirk was never that surprised that Gary was reported AWOL two weeks after the Wright had shipped out. It was stranger that Starfleet kept his record active when even Kirk’s limited inquiry made it obvious that he’d likely been killed by native ascetics on Tanis for his Earthly vices on R and R. Jim was equally taken aback by Liz Dehner’s cool reaction to her lover’s disappearance. Six months later she attended a memorial with Jim but barely spoke outside of everyday Starfleet affairs and took the first opportunity to complete her Doctorate observing the crew of the USS Saratoga.

Now that it was presumably clear Mitchell had been drawn in, during that second year at the Academy, to serve Section Thirty-One, or some connected branch, a Junior League of Security-talented cadets perhaps, Jim gathered up another regret about the current circumstances of his mission and its time constraints: he wouldn’t be able to ask the man for an explanation, much less tell him how he missed fulfilling his promise to have him aboard his first significant command– –

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“Mister Kirk, I understand you have some experience steering unusual ships in unfamiliar places,” Mitchell said for the benefit of the sub’s crew but Jim didn’t bother hiding the half-smile that came with a nod. He’d long had a Captain’s ability to judge another Commander’s ability to maintain self-control while, as they still called it, “putting’ on The Ritz” and he didn’t think Mitchell had a tactical leader’s thinking down. “You’ve got a better suggestion on how to pull our asses out of this and get you on your way?”

“Feinting to the surface– Okay, sure- -” Jim, though standing away from the Command Group at the Map Table, had made a silent count of every wrong choice their escape plan entailed. “But an elliptical course, even at top speed, will take too long and their Captain likely knows these waters.”

Mitchell nodded his consideration and even with eyes shaded by those odd dark prescription lenses, Jim recognized the look Gary leveled on him.
Kirk was already pushing past the supra-agents, Robert and Maria, who crowded back in around Jim as he pulled away and discarded one plastic map from the command table after another… “No– No– N–Yes! This here, take a look here, Mister Mitchell– What have you got there–?”

“A grease pencil.”

“Here gimme–” Jim started drawing across the slick sheet what was, in his thinking, a glide path. His gaze swept over the officers around him, peering in to see what Kirk was sketching out. He picked out the guy he hoped had the skill to pull off his plan – –

“You, you’re the navigator? Pay very close attention and do exactly what I tell you. We got one shot at this.”





The Martian

6 01 2017




review ROGUE ONE a Star Wars story

5 01 2017

ROGUE ONE a Star Wars story (2016) directed by Gareth Edwards written by Tony Gilroy and Chris Weitz story by John Knoll Gary Whitta produced by Kathleen Kennedy producer Allison Schnearer m…

Source: review ROGUE ONE a Star Wars story





review ROGUE ONE a Star Wars story

5 01 2017

 

ROGUE ONE a Star Wars story (2016) directed by Gareth Edwards written by Tony Gilroy and Chris Weitz story by John Knoll Gary Whitta produced by Kathleen Kennedy producer Allison Schnearer music by Michael Giacchino director of photography Greg Fraser production designers Doug Chiang and Neil Lamont edited by John Gilroy Colin Goudie Jabez Olssen

 

starring    Felicity Jones   Diego Luna   Alan Tudyk   Donnie Yen   Jian Wen   Riz Ahmed Ben Mendelsohn   Mads Mikkelson   Genevieve O’Reilley   Jimmy Smits   Forrest Whitaker

 

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ROGUE ONE a Star Wars story is brilliant, exciting and, out-and-out, both a fully engaging thrill ride and a somewhat serious depiction of the highs and lows that result from following one’s higher nature with no reasonable expectation of a return on investment. It’s really good for a lot of reasons. And here’s the first : its premise.

This is the first in an intended series of anthological “stand-alone” movies set in a galaxy far, far away created by filmmaker George Lucas, a long time ago. One of the genius-things that Mr. Lucas did better than just about any fantasist (Tolkien also did it with mythic fairy tale literature, Gene Roddenberry with science fiction for 1960s network television) was create a time and place that suggested its own history. From passing lines of dialogue (LUKE (to Ben Kenobi): You fought in the Clone Wars? or HAN SOLO (re:the Millennium Falcon): It’s the ship that made the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs.) to the “used future” design of props and costumes and vehicles, the original movie teased and enlivened the imagination to start filling in the blanks that even the sequels and prequels only partly fulfilled. ROGUE ONE starts filling in the blanks on at least two basic questions STAR WARS left partly open: where the Imperial Death Star’s design schematics came from and how they ended up in Princess Leia’s possession with plans to deliver them to a mysterious hermetic Jedi Knight with whom her father, Bail Organa (Jimmy Smits, returning to the role he played in Episodes II and III) was friendly, and how could the pinnacle of destructive technology be brought down by the exploitation of a strange, tiny design flaw.

Producer Kathleen Kennedy played the familiarity card wisely and to great effect in ROGUE ONE; it smartly connects to Lucas’ original from 1977. In fact, the new film’s plot is synopsized in two lines from “Episode IV”‘s opening crawl…. “Rebel spaceships striking from a hidden base have won their first battle against the evil galactic Empire. During the battle, Rebel spies managed to steal secret plans to the Empire’s ultimate weapon, the Death Star an armored space station with enough power to destroy an entire planet….”

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And if one’s immediate reaction is “Who cares? – – we know how it turns out,” that’s the film’s next stroke of genius; ending and all, it keeps you white knuckled and on the edge of your seat. But not just from the knock-out staging, cutting and scoring, particularly over the last forty minutes,, but because we develop a real caring for a group of Rebel heroes, and a curious but sharp interest in a previously unknown ladder-climbing Imperial officer, all of whom (SPOILER ALERT!!!) we likely will never see again.

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It’s fast, fun – – really fun – – at times, grim, effectively, genuinely sad, and ultimately, in its final memorable moments, a statement of the transcendent possibility of hope…. “A New Hope.”

“Rebellion’s are built on hope,” declares Jyn Erso, a young outlaw and hardscrabble survivor with an important tie to the Empire’s newly rumored weapons tests. She’s drawn in to work with the Alliance, first out of necessity and later, as awareness of political realities and a fear of a hopeless future become clear to her, a devoted no-nonsense fighter for the Cause. Felicity Jones as Jyn, underplays the role very effectively, revealing her quirks and personal fiery self at nicely selected and just the right moments. That’s also true of the entire crew of disparate warriors and one enjoyably droll reprogrammed Imperial droid that Jyn finds herself a part and gathers ’round herself as the group’s unofficial commander; they’re each distinct and memorable (even the Rebel squad of commandos who join them at first without orders) but when it comes to brass tacks they’re all about the fight and what they discover along their way, from one unique planet to another, is their mission. It’s not a mission they’re hired for (as in the generally similar Seven Samurai or The Dirty Dozen); it’s one they discover for themselves and strategize as they proceed until, in Jyn’s heartfelt rallying of her troop, they run out of luck.

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“Rebellion’s are built on hope,” declares Jyn Erso, a young outlaw and hardscrabble survivor with an important tie to the Empire’s newly rumored weapons tests. She’s drawn in to work with the Alliance, first out of necessity and later, as awareness of political realities and a fear of a hopeless future become clear to her, a devoted no-nonsense fighter for the Cause. Felicity Jones as Jyn, underplays the role very effectively, revealing her quirks and personal fiery self at nicely selected and just the right moments. That’s also true of the entire crew of disparate warriors and one enjoyably droll reprogrammed Imperial droid that Jyn finds herself a part and gathers ’round herself as the group’s unofficial commander; they’re each distinct and memorable (even the Rebel squad of commandos who join them at first without orders) but when it comes to brass tacks they’re all about the fight and what they discover along their way, from one unique planet to another, is their mission. It’s not a mission they’re hired for (as in the generally similar Seven Samurai or The Dirty Dozen); it’s one they discover for themselves and strategize as they proceed until, in Jyn’s heartfelt rallying of her troop, they run out of luck.

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The movie thrills with some exceptional vivid effects (including the breath-taking CGI recreations of two characters from Lucas’ original, as they appeared in that film; it’s staggeringly good), and the movie provides an irrational thrill in seeing X-Wing and Y-Wing Rebel fighter space planes, from the original movie, strafing and barrel rolling in combat with the swooping, screaming Imperial TIE fighters. (Two Rebel “Wing Commanders” from the original are brought back to life in some effectively manipulated forty year old unused close-ups and it works very well.)

Though the Master, John Williams will continue scoring the “Episodes” that comprise the ongoing “Skywalker Saga,” the brilliant Michael Giacchino (JJ Abrams’ Star Trek movies, TV’s LOST, and an Oscar winner for PIXAR’s Up) composes the score for ROGUE ONE, with intense percussion, swirling strings and combative horns balanced by the appropriate incorporation of the motifs composed by Mr. Williams in regard to various characters, concepts, and places in the preceding six movies (including one moment that made me smile in appreciation of both John Williams’ and Michael Giacchino’s sheer artistry.)

The film is exceptional in design – – it’s STAR WARS to the Nth degree – – and in the style it’s shot (with a vaguely documentary realism that George Lucas preferred and subtly employed in the ’77 classic) that enhances relentless action and battle sequences, and ultimately achieves the gritty, grimy, yes, bloody, always on the edge sensibility that director Garth Edwards was after: that of the great war movies of recent memory; there are moments throughout that suggest APOCALYPSE NOW and SAVING PRIVATE RYAN.

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Yes, I am a well-known (in my circles) big-time STAR WARS fan and the movie gave me moments and images and plot twists I’ve imagined and pictured for a long time, only ROGUE ONE did it better than my imagination for the most part. But even as a filmmaker and writer and critic it left me “wowed” more than any mainstream wide screen big budget blockbuster since J.J. Abrams’ STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS. It succeeds as pastiche in the way Lucas’ film originally did (only in this case, ROGUE ONE, in addition to war combat movies, also draws from historical drama, heist pictures, and expands on ideas always on the edge of the original trilogy, about political infighting and how “black and white, good and evil” thinking allows for action when there are more complicated truths at work); but also like Mr. Lucas’ film did in 1977 (and ROGUE ONE’s ending will make you want to watch the original again and likely right away), Gareth Edwards’ movie also transcends pastiche and becomes it’s own entirely original thing.

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A.I. Artificial Intelligence

5 01 2017




Star Trek BEYOND FOREVER PART 1 Chapter 4 Two – Oh – One and Maria 12

3 01 2017

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Kirk sat deathly still, studying the details, an unusual array of technology, that comprised the tight-walled wardroom. An old, threadbare brown cotton blanket hanging from his shoulders, he’d also been given fresh, dry clothes, plain and simple sailor’s work clothes, and a large cup of black coffee. He sipped the stuff casually — it tasted like lukewarm syrup — making it seem like an apparent time traveling suicide mission was part of the job description. He assumed his make-believe indifference was convincing enough ; the mysterious middle-aged man, fit and slim, silver haired, in a sharp-lined period business suit at odds with his heavy weather-proof orange jacket, standing across the ward room showed him little interest. Kirk had met the fella once before though he couldn’t say when exactly, time losing its certainty— no, that afternoon conference in Eleanor’s streamliner. Near Corpus. That afternoon of the night he’d fought with Carol and she’d said aloud, meaningfully at last, that she was in love with him. The night he’d left her, left for her.
The mystery man, accompanied by an intriguing woman in her early fifties who insisted Jim call her by name — strangely, Maria Twelve — was referred to with some respect even by the Admiral and her team as Agent Two-Oh-One. The kindest thing he had said to Jim at that meeting was a flat, “We know just who you are.” “You have much to live up to,” added the woman in a soft not-quite French accent ; Maria Twelve, whom the silver haired Two-Oh-One referred to as Agent Three-Four-Seven, their “Agency” going unnamed, had said it with a clear trace of humor that had made Two-Oh-One frown. The eternal, ever-active gambler, he noted to himself, if it came to picking sides or soliciting an ally, he could work her to work for him. After all, he was Jim Kirk….

Jim Kirk – – as early a a very young teen — would always insist, to the point of hostility, on an unrelenting certainty that He Was Right and anyone who disagreed was, at best, in need of schooling. When he was twelve he’d curse out cops for treating him like a child and it still bothered him, Christopher Pike’s single instance of real indignation, the older man certain that with his actions on Niburu, Jim was wasting unusually powerful command potential, squandering it because he was actually proud about taking self-importance for the stuff of Legend.

With age, however, came experience and experience, well measured, brought an easy, appealing and enduring authority. It was an authority that, at its strongest, generally shorn of obsessive self-regard in deference to his crew’s admiration, largely comprised Spock’s unparalleled professional loyalty and his unlikely emotional relationship with James Kirk, his friend. To Carol, the embrace of all of that blilowy heroism, no matter its misleading ease, allowed her alone to endlessly tease him, the one in a million amongst ordinary men who could orchestrate then order his crew on a skillful bluff to immolate a Klingonii combat fleet on a bloody Quel’mAcht, or “war path”, when their forces dared to target his limping, battle-torn ship and be just as at ease, hours later in private, his gamble won, crisis averted, making a light-hearted but sensual and deeply arousing game of, as Admiral Eleanor later joked, Carol “putting him in his place.” In fact, that aspect of him, that confidence in himself, made her ache; he remembered her telling him that plainly and proving it one of their first nights spent in his cabin.

Jim had once told a complement of his new officers, including Carol Marcus, getting to know them early into their five years over Quartermaster’s beer, the story of how then Captain Pike “conned” him into enlisting in Starfleet, playing up his “bet” that he’d graduate in just three years. He told only Carol, though, and almost a year later, about demotion and having his command of Enterprise taken after Niburu – – a “tarnish” the admiralty kept off the public record in light of subsequent events – – and the significant something Pike taught him then in harsh words. He’d normally share this recurring memory and his resulting concerns with Bones who was more than just his doctor; “you’re a hell of a bartender,” he often told McCoy who got his shorthand. He could even bend Spock’s ear, as it were, though discussing something of complex emotions would mean spending half his time explaining personal basics and winding up expunging his own grief. No doubt Spock considered it intentional on his part; “Socratic,” even. But for reasons Jim didn’t fully understand then, and he usually went out of his way never to appear “weak” before a woman to whom he was attracted, he had wanted to tell Carol…..

Enterprise had been drydocked for repairs at Starbase Twenty-Two, badly damaged, barely making it through a monstrous ion storm after the encounter with the Klingonii fleet and their war games and sunlight time trials.   He’d told her that he wanted her to stay with him planetside for the duration in the V.I.P. quarters he’d be given and she’d enthusiastically agreed even knowing they’d likely draw attention and even professional disapproval, outright disdain for their openness. He’d smiled at her worries, not broadly just a little, and the for the first time she joined him in his proclamation of his self-assuredness: “I’m Jim Kirk.” They spent the evening amused by old stories with Spock and Uhura, Bones and Scotty, laughs new to Carol, avoiding the officer’s dining hall in favor of a quiet private restaurant where McCoy maintained a friendly relationship with the Denobulan manager. But as the evening wore on, the wine flowing freely, Carol’s laughter subsided; she’d become aware of Jim’s silence, a moody silence she’d seen him fall to only once or twice before.

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Late that night, in bed, stroking his hard chest, she’d asked him what had bothered him since their meal. He knew she had quickly, in a way few did or that he allowed, come to read his small silences as uncertain admissions of guilt, envy, despair. So much at ease around this woman, he grew serious and confessed to her that much of what Christopher Pike and he had argued about regarding his first run at Captaincy, still left him feeling less the humility his mentor expected of him, despite the good humored, very deep and real respect their friends had for him, even informally over dinner, and more of a secret failure. Not always and barely often at all, but for a starship Captain, one of his repute, barely often at all was too much too often. He was still fighting for “the greatness” Pike claimed he saw in him; but he stressed the fact that Pike had been killed, had died essentially in Kirk’s arms, his chosen Number One and also the savagery of the beating he’d laid on the man he held most responsible for his commander’s assassination, an assault that would’ve killed, vengefully, thrillingly, an ordinary, normal unarmed man, and even his self-sacrifice, giving his life to save his ship, his crew, the people of Frisco, which he felt was borne, more from desperation than bravery, heroism…. greatness.
Carol listened closely, nodding as she idly soothed his unease with a forefinger along the side of his neck, his shoulder. And then she interrupted him.

“Jim,” she said quietly but in a way that demanded his attention, “three weeks ago, Enterprise time, you personally outsmarted a dangerously transformed early Earth space probe bent on the genocide of all life that didn’t match its limited idea of perfection.” Before Jim could utter a sound— “Shortly before that you defeated — defeated — an age old alien being that had convinced our ancient Greek ancestors it was a god and they created a mythology for him that still holds sway over imaginations. Jim, your strength of will brought down Apollo.”

“Carol,” he said, looking down and away, his tone low, serious, his voice almost a rumble just familiar enough to upset her coming from a man so certain of himself, at ease and kind. Then he looked up at her, smiling the Jim Kirk smile. “Sounds like you’re one lucky lady—” Her right hand came up, her fingers pressing down on his full lips, the other hand, stroking and playing with his hair, pulling his head back.

“No, Jim. Not the charm. Not now. It’s driving me crazy and not in the way you know I normally love. You’re taking us seriously, personally, so see it through. Now.” She tightened her fingers in his hair, trying to draw him out through some overcooked authority she knew he responded to in a funny way only from her.

“You assuming command?” She recognized his responsive playfulness as a slight intentional distraction and would only let him take it so far.

“You’ll find I’m quite the taskmistress,” she gave back at him. He drew her closer, moving his hand behind her head to draw her into a deep kiss. She turned away. “For starters, you do what I say. Sir.”

Jim understood he’d opened the door. And that he really did want her to lead him through. He stroked her hair.

“Next week it’ll be two years.”

“I know,” she said softly but with the barest touch of anger. Then she understood— “You’re still— You can’t let it go, what he said about you not respecting the Chair.”

“It took me a while to get it, or admit it, but he wasn’t just talking about the center seat.”

“Jim,” Carol sighed with some exasperation. “Chris practically thought of you as his son from what I understand.”

“Well, even surrogate sons can disappoint make believe fathers.”

“He fought for you — hard — to be assigned his Exec. You do understand what that meant? Where he wanted that to lead?”

“Of course I do,” Jim spat. “But…”

“But what? Tell me, Jim. No argument.”

“I’ll sound like a child if I say it aloud. Or a self-involved, desperate fool.”

Jim felt she had something about her, something special, whether she actually did or not. She knew that. He listened to her. That meant she was in a very small, select handful of people. He didn’t necessarily agree with her or do as she told him, not always, but it meant both of them were opening parts of themselves to the other they never had with anyone else. This included, for him, something as small as recognizing her determination in the cool flash in those eyes… made cooler still by the slightest hint of weak-at-the-knees amusement at a corner of her mouth that told him she was sure about him, his strengths and weaknesses.

“My dear,” she said, “if you never spoke when you sounded childish or foolish, our conversations would be rather one sided.”

Jim pulled a face of mock disbelief and Carol responded taking control by slipping her right leg over his hips, pulling herself up straddling him. Their light, airy blanket slipped down around her waist. She held him down, her hands pressing on his shoulders, fingers spread.
His eyes flickered almost imperceptibly and then he stared hard ahead. At her. She cocked her head expectantly, waiting, and he marvelled deep inside again at how keenly she could read him, his practiced controlled dance of expressions, and faster than he thought possible.

“You’re probably right about why Pike argued for me to be his First. He knew I’d earn the Enterprise again — likely on his terms,” he said.

She couldn’t help the warm suggestion of a smile, a new and fully caring and taken, lover’s smile. He continued, just a little rufeully, “I just wish I could have told him about out-thinking Nomad myself and asserting the human spirit over a would- be god.”

“Chris would have been proud of you, not just for your accomplishments but for being true to yourself. And probably secretly proud of himself that he was so right about you.” She paused and then just said it flatly, simply, in a way that told him she had actually begun to fall deeply for him; “Your dad, the Captain, he’d have been proud, too.” And she knew fathers, Kirk thought darkly, and this second bleak anniversary was likely even harder on her though she didn’t show it. He kissed her and this time she didn’t resist but something had occurred to her and she pulled her head back, angling his mouth to her throat so she could speak… “Though, I think you’d have had a harder time winning Chris over when you report the outcome of our recent jaunty negotiations with the—” she decided upon a word “—leaders of Sigma Iotia.”

Kirk’s mouth twisted as he worked a comeback. “I think what I came up with was entirely reasonable.”

“Well, let’s think that through,” she said, sliding off him and rolling onto her stomach, her posture part hint, part summons. He began rubbing her shoulders, lightly digging the flats of his palms down her back. “You’re a helluva Captain, Mister Kirk, but you have a real future ahead of you as a lady’s masseur,” she’d said on what they still teen-fully called their “first date.” She told him point blank, knowing Admirals as she did, they’d be “affronted,” on the record, by the deal he’d struck with the Earth-poisoned culture of Iotia II’s nineteen twenties, kill-or-be-killed gangland Chicago. “But they’ll find a use for the Federation’s so-called “cut” of the Iotians’ GNP. So, we go back in a year and see if they’ve evolved from “putting the bag” on their sworn enemies, you, your hired merciless killer, Spock-o, your hatchet man, “Saw Bones.” your money in the bank card sharp whiz kid with the funny accent, what’d you call Pavel, “Fizzbin?” And,“ she concluded with an ugh, rolling her eyes, then fixing him with a dirty look, “let’s not forget Hailey Comet, your favorite brainless but leggy gun moll and exotic, erotic dancer extrordinaire.”

“At least you were convincing.”

Carol slapped him harmlessly. “Maybe Chris had a point after all, taking away that ship of yours.”

“The thing about “greatness” where Pike and I differed had less to do with feats of bravery or standing by a tough decision. See, Iotia proved— uh, Carol?

She looked over at him, hoping he wouldn’t stop with his hands. He’d cut himself off and she heard something quizzical in his voice.

“You referring to the late Admiral as “Chris”? You’ve done it half a dozen times. I didn’t think you knew him. Not that well.“

“Sure you did. I told you.” When she looked away, really just a flick of her eyes, it was almost imperceptible. But Jim Kirk was an even better poker player than he was at strip three-dee chess, and that barest of flickers was as much a “tell” as Spock scratching his temple or now the warmth of embarrassment seeping red to her cheeks. “My dad, remember, mentored him from deckhand ofn the Alpha Centauri passenger line through to his first command?”

“But still, Carol, “Chris”? Really?“

She knew he was playing with her but he still was groping. That gave her some advantage… “He became friends with my family. He had none of his own. Not really. Jim, come on — I met him when I wasn’t even fifteen. Chris— uh, Admiral Pike had already been made Captain of the, uh, the—”

“The Oza Butte,” he provided with confidence. He’d brushed aside her advantage with a swash of his buckle.

“All right, Jim. I had a crush on Christopher Pike.” He didn’t reply, just rubbed her muscles still sore from the rigors of snapping and pulling armament shunts during the storm. She looked back at him and said clearly and coolly, all Brit sharpness, “He was young and good-looking, a brave space explorer and soldier who carried dutifully the courage of his convictions. Reminds me now a little of another Starfleet warrior burdened by his “greatness.”“ The last moment had a familiar taste of her brand of facetiousness. “But the current one pleases the womanly me, not the silly girl.” She buried her head back in the thick pillow and stretched her prostrate body for his continued ministrations. “Satisfied?”

Kirk worked his fingers harder against her flesh as he asked with leery innocence, “A crush, huh? So, you and Chris, you never…”

“Jim!” she exclaimed, twisting to face him. “The man was a respected officer in the field, my father’s student, and he was, what, easily twenty years older than me!” Then she left that hanging and Jim wasn’t surprised when she added quietly and awkwardly, “But— This one time, ugh…” He shifted around but didn’t stop, sensually stroking her back, her curves. He didn’t need to say anything; he knew she wanted to tell him the moment he raised his curiosity. “I made a pass at him at one of my parents’ cocktail parties for commanders of note from the field.”

“Always the secret tigress,” he noted with a feral grin. “ Well, what happened? Spare no detail.”

“I was seventeen by then. And between the prestigious science scholarships offered me, my silver at the Olympics leading to the brief but notorious arty holo’ modelling for Cassini I gained some celebrity for to annoy my parents, I was pretty full of myself. You understand? I was one in a million Carol. And a seventeen year old’s crush, well…” She shook her head and pulling herself up and resting against him, ran a hand through her thick blonde bob. “Boy oh boy, was it a pass.”

He passed over her drink. “Feeling that bad, even after ten years?”

“Oh yeah. But he was quite the gentleman, how he turned me down… the lousy son of a bitch.”

Carol turned to him, her face lit with that sweet smile with the perfect teeth, and she was lit with something more… literally alight, the blonde hair halo-aglow.

“Wake up sleepy head,” she said playfully.

Jim’s face, brow creased with confusion, was warm with the same strange light. Sunlight, from Earth’s sun.

He was laid out in the deeply sunk hammock, wearing a ratty black tee stencilled across the front with a logo — Riverside High, Class of ‘49 — in the backyard of what he saw now — a ranch-styled, old fashioned house, a house that belonged, in Jim’s imagination, on Earth in the mid or late twentieth century, except a battered BSC Earth-Luna shuttle had lifted off and buzzed past low overhead. Paving stones were laid around a kidney shaped pure blue swimming pool. A dog he’d never owned, a large bull of a mastiff, was charging madly around the yard. An alabaster hand with long fingers, nails painted immaculate cerulean — and a silver wedding ring reflecting the light — picked the nearly empty beer can, to him an antique, not much different than Egyptian pottery — from his chest where he held it in a loose, precarious grasp.

Carol knocked back what was left in the can and, shifting in front of the bright sun, became a silhouette. “You want to get drunk and fool around?”

A grin grew across his face when he heard a noise that didn’t belong in that idyllic backyard. Clearly Carol didn’t hear it; she was just watching him. But it was so out of place, a hard rhythmic clicking — footfalls — clacking on metal. And then an older man’s vaguely familiar gravelly voice, to his right. The voice said, “It doesn’t matter what century you’re from—” and something somewhere groaned and creaked deep and long, a machine awaking, struggling against unseen, powerful forces.

He spun around with shapeless fear and stared at Carol, the sun’s shadow thinning to light as she leaned toward him and whispered with concern, “Jimmy?”

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“… we human beings have a generally ridiculous belief our best intentions can determine our reality,” Agent Two-Oh-One said in his gravel-voice, completing the thought. The click-clatter came from Agent Three-Four-Seven, Maria Twelve, ascending the short catwalk of metal stairs to join them with a steaming pot of coffee. She was dressed handsomely, like her partner, in period clothes, though Jim questioned her choice of knee-hemmed skirt and heels aboard an experimental submersible built for the possibility of combat.

Jim was back in the Nautilus wardroom, not that he’d ever actually left. That is, he’d just traveled from Starbase Twenty-Two on Canaris to some peaceful suburb that was neither here nor there to the depths of a battlefield deep in an Earth ocean, from memory to fantasy to back where he began by way of some self-reflection but as a damn good starship Captain he could work any number of ideas through his head while parsing several conversations. He’d gotten Two-Oh-One talking, careful to limit himself to basic procedural details of the mission but with practiced smarts that allowed him to try and find deeper meanings between the lines.

Kirk’s educated guess regarding the two Agents’ bribes and salvage work to refit their Nautilus from leftovers at a Navy wrecking yard was largely correct. He was more curious about her crew; a nuclear submarine of the era was manned by one hundred and fifty but even the smaller chopped and channeled explorer craft would require at least fifty men and Kirk doubted Admiral Eleanor Parker nor her Federation Council support would authorize fifty even well-trained Thirty-One adventurers to all go back three hundred years.

With a glint of pride, Two-Oh-One explained personally overseeing a small group of Thirty-Ones, anthropologists with starbase security backgrounds, who traveled back to a time earlier that year in the same manner as Jim would, and, dropping the right names and the right money in the right bars in the American south mainly, had tapped into a percolating Right Wing anger. They were disgraced military for the most part, dishonorable discharges who went on to careers as cops or criminals or both, and who believed with fierce conviction that their country and leaders had grown soft in every way that mattered. The clandestine Thirty-Ones expertly whipped up support for a coup d’etat of Two-Oh-One’s devising with a renowned air force general waiting to take control of military and international affairs. The signal for the coup would be an “incident” in the waters off Vietnam where a new America would begin to quickly crush the Communist Menace. They’d need fifty men for an experimental sub bound for some unknown nowhere called “the Gulf of Tonkin”—

“James, would you like some more coffee?” asked Maria Twelve.

He nodded appreciatively and as she poured, he mumbled, “Oh, so that’s what this is.”

She bobbed her head with a curious little smile, sympathetic. Jim had, in the past two years of exploration, encountered one or two strange new life forms that could assume mock-human shape and behavior but they inevitably failed to get it quite right. Two-Oh-One, with his indifference to Kirk, nevertheless forced a small cough before he told Jim something he deemed important, aggravated he couldn’t clear the natural gravel in his voice. Maria Twelve had shown a mild interest in him and his exploits since meeting in Eleanor’s streamliner outside Corpus, demonstrating a well-educated formal kindness that seemed comfortable to her when she addressed him by his proper name; she must also have had a cold, turning her head away with tiny, girlish high-pitched sneezes. They quarreled. Not often, just enough for Kirk to notice, and it was usually over the small stuff like the godawful coffee. But they didn’t resolve those arguments by one causing intense psychic distress to the other; no crackling tendrils of cold blue energy leaped from fingers, eyes or mouths.

Yeah, they were human beings. He just found the story of their origins and goals privately imparted to him by one of Eleanor’s people, which they seemed to believe in full — no small feat with the famously suspicious and cynical Admiral — to be a little too hard get a hold of, fairy dust. Then again, if he’d told the submarine’s bosun’s mate that either a couple of months ago or three hundred years in the future – – depending on one’s point of view – – Jim would find almost otherworldly pleasure performing a strictly prohibited low atmospheric orbital “pipe jump” while the most wonderful woman he’d known lay waiting for him, sunning herself on a private stretch of Moroccan beach figuring out inverse phase particle ratios while sipping a vodka from the planet Andor… well, at least he’d had the benefit of dealing with unknowns more bizarre than these two unusual travelers.

They were certainly part of the suspicions he was working through, about the mission, but he suspected they simply played their own role in a larger gambit. Those suspicions led most obviously to Eleanor Parker whom he now thought of since their last few encounters and veiled ultimatums as something akin alternately to a spurned lover and the cheerleaders from his high school and college football days. Ultimately, she had, even before Khan and Jim’s crossing and return, his manly act of sacrifice, used from her position of power his unique, atypical story as a touchstone for Starfleet, including enlistment, as if he were the stuff of modern myth. Her remarks back in her den about turning himself into a demi-god of human fate having once already risen from the dead was more than her playing him; Eleanor saw him presented as her Apollo. That was one reason why he knew as difficult as the mission might be, it was no no-win scenario. It wasn’t suicide.

When he was experiencing the reverie of the deep and swimming with the ponderous yet seemingly wise giant whales, he hadn’t been thinking of anything except for perhaps survival should the Nautilus arrive late or not at all. He’d almost emptied his thoughts, clearing his mind in a way that he suspected he owed to watching the Vulcan Spock became in their most dangerous circumstances. Now that he was within the comfort of a leaking old wholesale submarine with a hinkey nuclear testbed and drinking coffee that even a horta couldn’t, and wouldn’t, ingest in the company of two allegedly superior human beings from a planet that didn’t seem to exist who had earlier argued over a taxi cab bill one of them had been stuck with paying back in L.A., that clear mind of Jim’s was filling and alive with questions, guesses for answers and a swirl of mysteries that were leading him back to the most obvious explanations.

The foremost and most frustrating mystery of his personal mission was the nature of the mission itself, that what he had taken on meant the end of his life and that no amount of a eugenic Ubermensch’s potent blood could revert it this time. But Jim was certain this wasn’t true, this suicide business, and not just because it was believed by all of command he had no way out. There were plenty. Between what poor, old Toad told him up front, maybe hoping to make friends with a possible legend, to reading between Maria Twelve’s words to, most basically, his continual study of intell regarding the target, continually updated schematics, the accomplished, natural strategist in him saw about a dozen ways of succeeding in this mission and emerging skin intact. Granted, more than half of those ideas were over-complicated as to be worse than unworkable and more farfetched fantasy. But three or four were so basic, obvious, the designers of the target would have never bothered with safe guards.

Jim was beginning to think that if Eleanor genuinely did believe this assignment was an honest no-win, beyond an opportunity to use him as an exploitable myth, she was combat-experienced enough to reach the same conclusions he had, which meant that the “suicide” element may come after he’d destroyed the target. That meant something he hadn’t accounted for or understood — he was, after all, smack dab in the middle of a war zone three hundred years in the past — there was the matter of traveling home through time which was a dicey proposition no matter what method one used and which were all out of reach in nineteen sixty-four. Getting home meant returning the way he got there and the best minds in the Federation had yet to figure that out.

His clear thinking had got him righted on something more basic, though, and it was the thing that wouldn’t allow this mission to be his last. He’d hoped that the perceived peace of the deep water would relieve him of the violence, chaos, terror of his final desperate moments on the Ticonderoga, and the ugly, awful death — murder, really — of that poor, dedicated kid from Thirty-One. He realized, instead, that the terrible violence would never leave him, that it’d be part of who he was. And that made him think of Carol. And Spock. And McCoy, the Enterprise and his five year voyage and just what kind of starship Captain he could now be. But mostly he thought of Carol and that she meant it when she said she was in love with him and how memories of her, and what he assumed were harmless fantasies about them together in that pristine, timeless summertime backyard were so wrapped now with who he had become. The very idea he’d harbored to proceed at all with what seemed like a death sentence in hero’s drag by pretending she didn’t exist, that there was no Doctor Carol Marcus in his life did her a rotten disservice. He was doing this for her. And he’d return and find her, time itself be damned.

Kirk made to stand up, to assert himself over the mysterious, strange “Agents,” and take control of the mission but his damn fate—

And he dropped back in the chair. Intending to show no weakness in front of the others, he shifted, trying to seem as though he was getting comfortable. He knew that wouldn’t fly but casually flicked a glance between Two-Oh-One and Maria Twelve. They shared looks of concern and Two-Oh-One frowned, cold, suspicious.

“Mister Kirk, do you feel unwell?”

Jim was pressing his temples between thumb and forefinger but looked back up. He’d recovered from whatever it was, not feeling dizzy but unsteady half-way to standing and a wave of severe nausea that lasted all of three seconds. He started to respond with a half-truth when Maria Twelve interjected, “When was the last time you properly ate something, James?”

He started to answer, realizing he was falling into her motherly interest, when she added, “Despite the awful coffee, there’s a serviceable galley aboard.” She had already picked up the old intercom speaker which looked like what they called back then, Jim recalled, a telephone.

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“Galley? Wardroom,” she said into the mouthpiece, not needing to identify herself; she was the the only woman aboard. She intuitively ordered him steak and fried eggs and Two-Oh-One put her concern, and his own, in perspective.

“You eat something, Mister Kirk, and you’ll keep your strength up. We need you at your best.”

Kirk frowned at the son of a bitch’s sense of superiority but knew what he was saying was essentially correct. Jim sensed that passing, sickly moment had little to do with subsisting on terrible vodka and worse coffee the past twenty-four hours. it wasn’t from the abrupt deep dive and oxygen deprivation. It was a worrying after effect of ingesting the experimental senceiver.

“Now, we have sometime more than an hour before you have to reach the target. That’s as close as we can get to a shaky historical record of events. I advise you rest, look over the last of our research data we just gathered—”

“We drew as close as we dared to it on approach here for rendezvous,” Maria Twelve explained.

“She’s that close, the target? Jim asked, surprised. “What’s her condition?”

Maintaining cool resolve, Maria reported, “However badly you hurt them from you jet aircraft — scoring topside, the port nacelle was still giving them some trouble — target vessel read as essentially operational.”

Jim frowned as he considered this then looked up at her with a smile meant to be read as phoney-brave and he didn’t care who saw through him.

“Let’s light this candle.”

She hinted a smile in return and nodded her understanding.

“Very good, Mister Kirk,” Two-Oh-One said. There was something in his voice that grabbed Jim’s attention. Two-Oh-One was practically squeezing each word but he had little talent for drama and Kirk knew what he was about to say.

“Target status understood? You need to tell us what happened during your departure from the carrier. Why is the Ticonderoga in flames when that never happened and I’m under the impression that the young Section Thirty-One Agent who made sure you got aboard the Nautilus didn’t himself survive.”

“Toad was horrifically executed by a professional assassin’s jikara but, with his dying breath, he blew up our attackers and a section of the carrier’s deck three with a a photon grenade,” Jim said flatly. He saw a tincture of uncertainly in the chillingly arrogant man.
“A jikara? That’s an Orion dagger.”

“Well, coincidentally, Toad was killed by an Orion,” Kirk came back at Two-Oh-One with a deadly sharpness.

Maria Twelve stood and as she approached Two-Oh-One, he shook his head just slightly. Jim caught the gesture and his voice seemingly turned darkly light, sickly comic.

“So before I tell you exactly what happened up there, how about you tell me how a cadre of Orion Syndicate thugee turned up on a locked down twentieth century battleship disguised as US Navy military police with the very clear intention of beating me to death or taking me alive. You can tell Eleanor I only undertook this impossible mission under the assumption I’d be taking on only an elite squadron of Klingon soldiers trained for time travel and the crew of their experimental extremely powerful new war ship that brought ‘em here. Now, what’s the Orion involvement? Don’t tell me it’s more of that bullshit, their laying claim to Carol Marcus as their slave – -!”

Maria turned away from Jim to her partner and though she spoke in a low voice, it was clear and meant for Kirk to hear.

“We must tell him. Everything.”

“How about we start with everything and go from there?” Kirk stated in a way that stood no argument.

Two-Oh-One looked across at Kirk, the two men locking stares.

“Robert,” she said, the French-ish accent more pronounced, “He doesn’t just deserve to know. It’s a quid pro quo. With the Orions involved in an alliance with… them, he needs to know.”

“Alliance?  Hell,” Jim practically sneered. “What’s worse, it means we’ve got an old fashioned mole digging our dirt. How many of our people knew I’d be flying guns on the Ticonder…” Jim’s attention shifted away immediately. Perhaps as the commander of a ship in its own foreign waters, so to speak, he heard it before even the two physically evolved otherworldly human agents.

“We’ve had suspicions, James, about a security leak since we arrived.”

Jim’s stare narrowed and crawled across the far bulkhead. Whatever it was, whatever he heard — a high-pitched whir muffled by the sea — grew steadily louder.

“Captain—?” asked Two-Oh-One, or Robert. Then he heard it too, whatever it was growing louder; it was racing through the water toward them. “What is that?” Maria heard it as well, instinctively coming up near Jim.

Kirk threw them a warning glare. “Find something steady and hang on tight.” He spun behind the glass covered, steel plated Ops table and braced himself against it. Maria joined him in a rush.

“It’s the American Navy, the submarine U.S.S. Neville,” she asked as if seeking confirmation. He nodded just once, firmly.

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“Hang on,”Kirk told her and loud enough for Robert, the Agent crouching behind one of the ward room’s three heavy chairs. He looked up as a scratchy, mechanical pipe call whistled over the intercom. And then there followed an authoritative voice echoing through the sub’s corridors and work stations. Calm and cool if all business, it may have been the COB but Jim knew a Captain’s tone of voice.

The Captain of the Nautilus ordered smoothly, “All hands, all hands. Incoming explosive. Standard torpedoes. Damage control stand ready.” For a flash, the danger disappeared for Jim – – replaced by mind-spinning disbelief. That voice…. he was sure. He recognized the easy-going working of words, mid west Fairfield, Ohio transplanted to San Diego. But that was impossible. Last he’d heard, Gary Mitchell was hopelessly AWOL and likely dead—
Then the torpedoes exploded close to the bow, port side, a dull, warped cascade in reverse, and the world went sideways.





STAR TREK Beyond Forever part 1 chapter 3 Nautilus

29 12 2016

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Jim hadn’t gone swimming in the Indian Ocean in years— well, ten by his reckoning, nearing the end of his first year at Starfleet Academy. He hadn’t been given leave; an Academy Cadet didn’t get leave time even after a year like his freshman’s — they gave him, instead, an extended layover between his advanced medical and CAT scan in Kyoto, necessary for the new classes he’d been accepted for, and reporting for Corps Group on Djerba in Tunisia. Before the end of his first semester, he’d begun to make a name for himself separate from his dad’s legend; he was knocking Captain Pike’s expectations off the rails and even giving himself a laugh kicking his own bravado’s ass. He’d excelled in his least favorite work, computer research, several of the lab-based sciences, but it had been more than enough to get thrown into the Command school stream. “When they give me the center seat on an Akula or the refit Constitution class, just make sure my exec’s a Vulcan or a Betazed, someone good at pushing buttons,” he’d joke dismissively in the illegal makeshift officer’s club. “That’s all the use I’ll have for ’em.” For Kirk it was going to be a captaincy or nothing.

He asked for Starfleet S-SEALs for Command grades, not for the training traditions so much as the experiences in both planetary and space strategy and combat. Thinking and fighting. The brain and the phaser. Hell, by the time he was free styling low orbital jumps over Djerba to Olafsvik, he’d broken more than a few S-SEAL records completing the program in his Sophomore term, after less than a year and there was already talk amongst starship-assigned officers who served as teaching assistants in practical classroom training — Finney, Garrovick, Bob Wesley — that Kirk was a real “clap rail”, a rare bird who may well, like Alexander Marcus and Bob April, be promoted junior grade while still a cadet and have, on his graduation day, a deep space assignment already lined up, likely as the XO on one of the Big Twelve.

“We’ll all be taking orders from Admiral James T. Kirk,” Wesley joked as they drank in the actual officer’s bar, Bowman’s, in slow tumble geo sync on the way up to Clavius. Jim offered a profane response regarding Bob’s preferences among female cadets to laughs but didn’t say a word about all he wanted being the center seat and more than his father’s twelve minutes. He figured the Universe owed him at least for those twelve and what it didn’t give, he’d take. He could save everyone now as he swam the depths, doing what Admiral Parker convinced him only he could do. He could save Carol… he would save his love….

Was this rapture of the deep he was experiencing? Not in the medical sense — nitrogen narcosis; he’d made enough pressurized EVAs in space and deep sea dives, and that mind-numbing plunge into the thick sentient molasses that comprised U-Bas-Ni-Da, to recognize the shakes, the slurs, the purple-blue in the base of the fingernails… the angry confusion — this wasn’t that. It was the reverie, the disappearance of any dividing line between the stars and the sea, heavens and earth, time and space… Kirk reached out and pulled the steel pins from the weights on his lower arms, rolling up knees to chest and dropping them from his ankles. As the weights drifted away, Jim bobbed up in the water and rolled onto his back— and the rapture of the deep was gone. Above him, on the surface, was the harsh reality of the Ticonderoga, its silhouette stark against white emergency lights as it listed portside and small explosions continued rippling. The dark hulls of the destroyers Maddox and Turner Joy angled toward it. Kirk rolled back over, pulling himself forward with the strength of his arms and frog-kicks. He glanced at the plastic watch stitched into the rubber wrist cuff of the diving suit. It was synced to his air tank and showed he had just about five minutes of air, about half of his start, remaining — maybe more as his survival training made him capable of slowing his breath and making it shallow. That didn’t alter the fact that unless the Nautilus arrived, and soon, he’d likely drown to death in the middle of the vast Indian Ocean in August of nineteen sixty-four. He could try to smuggle himself back aboard one of the American destroyers— but the troubles up there were making that not only difficult, almost impossible; he also felt the need to stay away from it all as much as possible. He’d helped twist the universe and the fabric of reality enough for one day.

Kirk’s Academy grad class, the one on paper anyway, the one he arrived with, matriculating ’58, was the first to study time travel as a practical going concern, akin to the Prime Directive, First Contact protocols and the limits of alien negotiations and the options of combat. Until then, temporals were the the stuff of numbers, equations and likelihoods, complexities that engaged the minds of a Mister Spock or a Carol Marcus but that simply gave Jim a sharp pain between his eyes and that stabbed his temples. Traveling through time in practice, as Captain Archer had discovered, revealed in papers Jim had once been shown, and Chis Pike, too, on his first command, aboard the USS Oza Butte, witnessing the birth of Sol, involved paradoxes wrapped in larger paradoxes and he’d made it another boast about his likely Captaincy: no time travel. What was done was done and he was a young man of the here and now, moving shark-like forward.

Only there was now an American aircraft carrier burning above him on the surface of an Asian sea three hundred years before he was born and he was partly to blame. Not that Jim blamed himself or anything he had done; it was simply his presence that had set a number crunching twenty-four year old special agent from his time, the far future, on his way to making a deadly bad decision that had turned the non-existent Gulf of Tonkin Incident into something tangible— unless this was one a those pre-determinations he remembered from the Academy; that he was meant to do this and had always done it— ? Aw, forget it; he’d only got a passing grade in”Time and Space One-oh-One because he’d guessed right more often than wrong…

And there it was. Emerging from the swirling murk kicked up by the damages to the Ticonderoga, it was the Nautilus. Jim checked the watch and saw he had about two minutes to spare, almost three. Poor, young Toad had cut her fine and short. The submersible was larger than he expected — as long as half a city block you’d find in D.C. or New Berlin. Heavy up at the rounded bow, tapering to its stern lost in the dense waters. Fins along the sides and scattered bumps were likely sensor pods, perhaps even of future origin and could gain attention, Kirk thought. She was running without power, no lights and a still engine but that’s what Jim would have done considering a nuclear sub, the American LaFayette, was on the prowl.

In fact, he had essentially done the same thing just weeks before the ill-fated Captain’s Summit, ordering Scotty to cut power and guiding Sulu on a glide path through an asteroid field studded with debris from a centuries old forgotten war. A pack of Orion automated stalker-killers were hunting them after they’d reconned a shipyard edging into Federation space. “You’ve got a set on you, kiddo,” she’d said after he’d asked her politely to turn her guns on them the moment Sulu glanced back at him with a grin and a nod once they were clear.
The question was, even with its sensitive fins and sensor pods, how was he to attract the Nautilus’ attention with the rain storm and the falling pieces of burning circuitry panels hitting the water off the carrier and turning the Gulf into a sea of strange steam. Jim worked up the nerve and gave the senceiver its due. He concentrated, said softly, “James Kirk to Nautilus. I’m forward of your bow awaiting pre-arranged pick up. Nautilus?” He repeated the message, his breath growing short as his air supply thinned. And he got nothing in reply.
Kirk gathered his strength and swam the distance to the boat that grew closer. He studied the surface for metallurgical indications of a possible entry; seams, rivets, a sealed hatch if he was lucky. He ran a hand up along its hull side, considering just plain knocking, when he jerked his hand from the surface and kicked, pulling himself back and away. Even through the thick rubber and metal mesh of his scuba suit’s gloves, he could tell the difference between man-made manufacture and something organic, something alive.

Kirk had never seen an earth-native whale, the last remaining of the only species left having gone extinct several years before his birth. Attempts to clone the sophisticated creatures were flawed, short-lived. The whale before him rolled open yellow-black eyes twice the size of billiard balls, nested in rows and wrinkles of blubber and it slowly yawned its wide maw, revealing not the sharp teeth of legend but rows of soft, lightly hairy tissue called baleen. It drew in massive amounts of microscopic fish and shrimp and swirling vegetation like kale and kelp that Jim had been barely aware he was swimming though.
The whale paid Kirk no attention as he made his way up its great curved side and, taking hold of one of those dorsal lumps, pulling himself up and over. Treading water, Kirk was surprised to find an identical leviathan hanging close by. The second whale was taking up an unusual position, lowering its massive head and stretching its heavy shape upwards. It held its position with slow, steady waves of its thick, long flippers. It was making sounds. They were repetitive high squeals, each followed by a rumbling basso expulsion. Almost immediately, Jim had reason to believe the sounds were a summoning.
They appeared through the drifting, sinking graveyard of mechanical chunks of Crusader fighters and once nimble helicopters, Hueys, two more whales… then a third…. no, a fourth. They were of the same species, it seemed to Jim, but different sizes, different ages he suspected. A pod, that’s what a group like this was called, possibly all of the family.

The whale farthest from him, on the edge of the pod, began to glow. The strangeness of it grabbed hold of Jim and for the barest of moments, he imagined it some magical creature from the depths — but he could tell almost immediately that the light actually originated just behind the marine animal, silhouetting it. The light produced a flare effect, alternating red to blue — and there was a pattern to it, a pattern Jim easily recognized. It was Federation Basic Visual, Code Three, that simply identified a spacecraft by name and occasionally registry, destination and purpose. This message was kept bare bones. Kirk quietly recited as he read, “Submersible Nautilus. Nautilus on rendezvous. Signal rendezvous.” It repeated.

Kirk didn’t think about it. He didn’t concentrate particularly more than he would in any other difficult, challenging circumstances. He just spoke in a calm and quiet voice. “Nautilus, this is Kirk. I’m bow, portside. I—”

That’s all he got out— “We see you, Mister Kirk.” The voice was in his ear, so clear, so close, it was like his conscience out of a fable. He’d heard the next generation standard comm at a Sato School presentation and it made the current technology sound like an ancient compact disc player. This senceiver that Carol had played a part in developing defied effective description. “You’ve got just enough oxygen in your body and your gear. We’re bringing you in by soft beam.”
Before Kirk could reply, he was tugged forward, drawn along beyond his control. Even a ship as large and powerful as his Enterprise left a crew, after experiencing a tractor beam, with slight shakes. The soft beam, however, was like a caress. It was used at disaster scenes and the evac of the most severe Starfleet combat wounded, not unlike these Hueys that had intrigued Kirk since arriving “in country.” It didn’t give you the shakes; at worst it provided bed spins, like knocking back a half dozen “instant drunks” such as Romulan ale and having a friend help you home with a warm arm around your shoulders.

Then the pod broke up and with surprising urgency, moving their bulk more quickly than Kirk would have expected and he knew they sensed something beyond him. This was their environment. A massive jagged piece of the retrieval crane from the Ticonderoga’s conning tower hit the water nearby hard, bubbling and steaming, the metal popping, as it twisted and sunk. It was used to pull aboard salvageable wreckage from fighters whose jocks had screwed the pooch and hit the water on a screwy landing, misjudging the slab of tar the dimensions of a football field heaving up, down and sideways. Even torn to shreds by an explosion aboard the Ticonderoga, it was so heavy it would have chopped even a whale in half.

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Jim intuitively balled into a fetal shape in useless defense, finally banging into the curved hull of the Nautilus. Less than a stretched arm away a hatched rolled open and Jim saw and felt hands in heavy rubber scuba gloves reach out. They took strong hold of him and drew him into the inky dark of the sub’s air space. Kirk looked back and saw past the carrier’s burnt up detritus one of the whales. They were all swimming onward through waters that had served as a staging area for centuries of passing, petty human conflict. The leviathan Kirk could see most clearly was propelled by great movements of thick tail fins, its flukes, that seemed to waving farewell to the stranger from outer space.