STAR TREK Beyond Forever – a novel

29 07 2016

p r o l o g u e    p a r t II   85da4411218663d937f73e64e4ecccd9

Ensign Chekov had been as good as his word. With a quick turn of thought he had made the dicey calculations allowing a single transport through a rudimentary scrambling shield and had dropped the Captain in a shadowy corner of the Orion Pasha’s, Klimt’s, ostentatious bivouac headquarters in their camp just outside the Capital. At least the Enterprise Captain figured it was the Pasha’s tent, the decadent old statuary and expensive, thick throw rugs suggesting the traveling arrangements of a wealthy, self-aggrandizing monster. McCoy’s bio scans had pinpointed her but Mister Spock’s infrared sensor mapping of the target area had only told him so much, however, and Jim Kirk found himself feeling lost amidst the light silks and heavy canvas of the labyrinthine tent. More than lost — frustrated, angry.

Of course he was angry with the depraved, duplicitous Orion cheiftan Klimt and his coterie of broad backed body guards who looked carved from jade and had executed the abduction — green bastards had handled her so rough, so goddamn— he’d seen that much and could do nothing. And of course he was angry with Governor Breck and the lax security he’d arranged with the Ith at their embassy, considering the event’s notable guest list, enough so that he’d made a dumb joke about how a drink spiked with explosive Nitrex would leave Keenser the only thing qualified to run the UFP to which she’d qupped the little thing couldn’t do much worse than what was already in charge. That made him laugh. She could do that to him. And he was angry with his old Academy classmate, Merrick, now a Federation liason with the Academy Governor’s protocol office due largely to Kirk’s influence, for not insisting hard enough for a proper Starfleet lock down at what was, after all, a Starfleet Officers’ Summit.tumblr_o1sfreKmNS1r4nvv3o1_r2_500

But who Jim Kirk was angriest at most was Jim Kirk. For not being there for her. For allowing anything even remotely like this to happen… to her… Carol Marcus was as strong-willed as any woman— as any one — he had ever known. And she possessed a keen physical strength, as well; that magnificent lean, taut body still reflecting her teenage athleticism that had made her a silver medal Olympian — she had thrown Jim himself around more than once kickboxing in the ship’s gymnasium. And, despite the growing distance she felt from her judgmental mother and the deathly betrayal of a father she had once adored, he knew she still felt a strength of the soul; she had told him over drinks that long, hot and lazy evening at the Officer’s Club on Thetis that if she couldn’t believe in the essential decency of others she might as well just run for office. And she got him to laugh. But none of that mattered when it came to her present circumstances as he imagined them and couldn’t help but kick himself for.

These were Orions — slavers who took women as commodities, sexual pets and servants, and were brutal and cruel and had carved this into their hedonistic, criminal culture over two thousand years. Klimt had worked an invitation to the Governor’s Ball only because he of all his homeworld’s ruling class had co-operated with the Federation, facilitating joint mining contracts and even securing the release of human settlers on Dinari where Klingon jihadis had held them hostage. Jim knew that Carol hadn’t actually been charmed by the gluttonous exotic with his stretched lobes displaying heavy ruby studs. She was just following her mother’s tutelage by demonstrating easy politeness proper to the social circumstances. God, she could be too goddamn proper! So when she’d pleasantly agreed to let Klimt take her on a quick tour of the embassy’s rare Ithian art, he’d just given her a look, that look she called “the Captain’s look” — somehow judgmental and trusting at once and entirely full of himself.

She’d angled away from Klimt and told Jim in a low, clear voice — her Brit always sharper when she laid things out for him — that she’d only be a few minutes and that she then wanted the mysterious surprise he’d promised her once they cut the Ball early and she’d said it with that big smile that always lit him up and he kicked himself all the harder as he slid past another canvas flap in the tent, down another tunnel of off-white cloth.

The wind had picked up across the surrounding desert and the tent swayed, its upright braces creaking. Klimt’s private army was gathered somewhere chanting and singing to swirling, passionate, driving music, firing weapons off as they laughed and there were unnerving screams — the screams of women. Jim’s pulse was racing, his mind was racing in ways he had thought he knew how to tamper and control to be the leader he was in difficult situations but with every gust of wind, every furious snap of canvas stirred by that wind, every Orion ululation of victory and celebratory volley of meaningless gunfire, the panic of losing Carol, of literally losing her, was nearly overwhelming and he hated himself harder because he was becoming angry at her. Not for being taken; she’d clearly been targeted by Klimt as an Orion prize. By their standard, she was the exotic — they were inured by their voluptuous, black-haired “animal women.” Carol, so fair and blond, hard-bodied with long dancer’s legs and slightly mismatched wide bright eyes… God, he was angry with her…. for making him care so much about getting all the details right of his silly surprise for her once they escaped the Ball… for that aching stare he’d caught her giving him, settling back in the Chair, after he’d taken Chekov’s shoulder in hand and explained what had happened to his brother Piotr at Klingon hands on Archanis IV.

She’d given him a different look at he sat at the bar in the ballroom, nursing a brandy, mentally running details of the surprise, watching her as Klimt walked her along a row of strange, moving oils… she’d rolled her eyes — just enough to draw a smile from him and she’d broken out laughing to the Orion’s confusion.

The next time Kirk glanced over, they were gone.

Kirk felt the brandy burn off as he pushed past guests, knowing she’d understand his finding her, that joining them was a pretext and that once she understood what he had arranged for them the next few days, she’d be— and then he’d found it. On the floor, by a toppled chair. Her initials stenciled small in silver in one corner, the clasp carved with the Enterprise Delta seal, Carol’s slim black leather clutch that was de rigeur for her formal dress uniform that looked damn near perfect on her — but it was all scuffed up… and that lovely but overpowering aroma? Jim popped the clutch open and found a small bottle of Elasian perfume, her favorite — and his — crushed open. Jim felt sick, a lump in his gut and time smeared…

The tall french doors leading to the embassy portico ajar — a flagrant disregard of basic security protocols — drifting open and shut in a light breeze… dashing outside, past carved liquid busts of past ambassadors… hearing one fall and burst ahead and slipping through the detritus, rounding a corner… and then, “JIM!” He saw her struggle as green swirls curled around her, as she fought the man-beast a good foot and some taller than her who pushed his hand over her sweet mouth, another of the brutes yanking her head back with a pawful of her bobbed hair. In that instant, he knew she had seen him, hoped she had and feared it as well, with eyes, one blue, one subtly not, that implored him as they faded with her outline in a wash of green and an echoing hum. Then there was just the desert wind and distant music from the ball. Kirk needed no time to think— he had no time. he pulled his communicator from the inner breast pocket of his dress grays…

“Kirk to Enterprise! Beam me up! Kirk to Spock! Come in, Enterprise.”

“Spock here, Captain.”

“Beam me up now! I’ve got a goddamn job to do.”

“Yes, sir. And Lieutenant Commander Marcus?”

“Now, Spock, dammit! Now!”jim__________by_colonelflagg-d87ins3

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