Ms. Eve

24 10 2016

alice-eve-at-childrens-defense-fund-beat-the-odds-awards-4e0330659a6a2c46d7f11e69e88dc879-large-305152Actress  Alice Eve  (Star Trek  INTO DARKNESS,  Some Velvet Morning,  Dirty Weekend)





STAR TREK BEYOND FOREVER prologue part 7

22 10 2016

It was warmer than even the usual late summer night in New York City. Jim reached out and Carol took his hand letting him draw her close so that she could rest her body against his, the side of her…

Source: STAR TREK BEYOND FOREVER prologue part 7





STAR TREK BEYOND FOREVER prologue part 7

22 10 2016

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It was warmer than even the usual late summer night in New York City. Jim reached out and Carol took his hand letting him draw her close so that she could rest her body against his, the side of her face on his shoulder.

“Let’s live off room service in every grand hotel from here to Dubai to Oauhu for the rest of time,” he said and she recognized the sharp blend of earnestness and incipient excitement in his voice, his eyes.

But she chuckled happily at the thought. “Sounds like fun.”

“I’m serious,” he made clear for her. “We’ll travel every inch of the world and then one day maybe we can settle down, some place like an out of the way lobster cove in Maine or Juneau and I can write a book about my travels in space and what it takes — really takes — to captain a starship and you can start that research you’re holding back from really jumping in—”

“Jim—”

“Or we’ll take possession of an island, somewhere in the Keys or off Belize or in the Indian Ocean. I’ll open and manage a bar with gambling, dancing, great music, food. You can sing that twenty-second century jazz you love- – you know, for fun. It won’t interfere with your studies!”

“I’m a rotten singer. I’ll send the customers packing—“

“You’re better than you think. And if we can’t find a place on Earth, there’s all kinds of available and open life-water on Kalieogigus. You can use your magic and make us an island, you’re always going on about using your modified torpedoes for terraformng. We’ll get Spock to dot the tees and cross his eyes—“

“Jim!“ She broke in. He was over-thinking at a clip, faster and faster, so much so that if she didn’t know him so well he’d seem almost manic. It was like a dream where someone’s speaking your language but you can’t make sense of it. She stroked his hair lovingly, gently. “Jim— listen to yourself, darling. You’re so…. messed up tonight.
What’s wrong?””

“What are you talking about?”

“You’ve been all on edge the moment I saw you this evening down in the bar.”

“How long were you watching me?” he asked, his hint of anger a pretense he’d know she’d read through.

“Long enough, ” she answered firmly. “What did that bitch, Parker, say to you? Really Jim.” Then she finally expressed what she’d worried about the moment that damn Admiral had summoned him shortly after they made Earth orbit, her words coming crisp and sharp…. “This layover isn’t the initiation of some bullshit enforced penalty leave? My god, my dad, he— ”

Jim started to wave her off, knowing how difficult it was even now to mention him, but she gathered herself with a small, firm shake of her head.

“He may have been a— a hardass but, hell, even if it hadn’t been me you risked your life for, he’d have made sure you received a special citation if not Reed’s Medal of Bravery. You, or me— we certainly wouldn’t have to put up with all this…. nonsense— It’s damn irregular!“

Jim looked down and away and Carol tilted her head, saw his turmoil. He was fighting his war again. Inside. Trespassers will be shot. He glanced back up at her with some version of his charming smile — this one clearly manufactured.

She would have none of it. “I do have some insight on how the Fleet’s Admiralty operates – – you know that. Their politicking can be absolutely Ouroborosian—“

Jim had genius level intelligence scores, Carol knew that ; he never let her forget it and always with a cocky glint in his blue eyes. She scored even higher and used that intelligence as a matter of course. The crooked smile Jim aimed at her now became pained more than it was his usual display of charm.

“They’re a snake eating its tail,” she explained distractedly, quickly. “Did they offer you something? Ask something of you to quell the Orion Oligarchy and call off the Syndicate? Jim? We’ve both gone over the White file on the Orions’ culture. The details of their so-called “pleasure trade.” I’m marked now. Clan Klimt’s property, in their godawful tradition. Their slave. Parker knows that. And she knows you did what you did to keep it personal and spare Starfleet- -“ My, gods, she thought as Jim took a step back and grabbed hold of her upper arms; who’s sounding nearly manic now—?

“Eleanor’s just being Eleanor. You know her better than I do. Spanked me is all, like we knew she would.” Carol pulled away from him, turning to him and taking hold of his jutting chin between a thumb and forefinger. Jim smiled inside, didn’t show it – – she always made herself very clear when she wanted the hard truth – – her Brit was coming on strong – – and wouldn’t be thrown off by his humor or bullshit, recognizing only his well-earned sense of command. “I told her it was wrong, Donneghy calling off the Enterprise off when Klimt’s attack ships ran their parade. We agreed to disagree. She wanted to let me know she’s going to be transparent for the Ad Astra holojournal interview. I told her I’d do the same; she suggested that wouldn’t do you— or me —any good.” Kirk shrugged as if to ask whether she was satisfied. She just stared at him, nodding just a little. ”What time did you tell your mother we’d be in Dover tomorrow?

“I’ve got our shuttle tickets for two in the afternoon. I spoke to Mir; she’ll pick us up,” Carol mumbled, her thoughts regarding his bouts of moody, self-imposed loneliness elusive; she realized he’d hope to cause her to move off from the darkest mood she’d ever seen him sunk into…. sitting surrounded and alone at the bar earlier. “Jim, let me help,” it was more than a request; it verged on being a plea. Kirk pushed her chin up firmly, nuzzled her throat. Damn, she thought, he really wants to throw me off my game…. and knows just how to do it…..

It’s hot,” he said., a weak distraction that was hard to disagree with.

“Oh, god, yeah.”

“How about we have a cool…. refreshing…. shower?”

“Make it a warm-ish bath,” she said. “We’ll take our time.”

Kirk puled away a little and now there was nothing forced about his grin. “If I know you, Doctor, you’re going to fall asleep if the bath is just warm enough — and I’ll have to pick you up…”

“Dry me off…”

“Lay you in bed.”

“That’ll probably wake me up again…” She returned his grin. “And if you don’t get it right, I’ll be doing the spanking.” Her grin grew more mischievous. “Actually, whether you get it right or not…”

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Jim ran his hand under the water pouring into the deep tub, finding just the warmth that he knew, from experience, was hers. As he worked on his drink, he concentrated on just the whoosh of water and there was no Eleanor Parker or any other Admiral, or any JAG office or Orions or the headless body of their corpulent, criminally hedonistic gang boss – – there was just Carol Marcus. Only Carol. Carol who, knowingly or not, had helped make him a man who’d had – – even with the support and disagreeability of Spock and Bones and Nyota – – a hard enough time discovering he was truly an explorer and leader, someone also capable of simple honest desire, emotional truth and even, occasionally, outside of command, selflessness. He sprinkled the running water with the bath salts that provided a healthy, alive but sleepy feeling.

And as the granules fell and floated and were swirled into patterns reminding him of distant stars and nebulae in deepest space, there were a tumble of images he couldn’t pretend didn’t exist…. from an Admiral’s den on the Presido across the continent and only hours old…. the third and heaviest tumbler of McCutcheon’s in his hand….. Eleanor’s thin, drawn face darkening in his mind into something like a skull as she laid out just what killing Klimt had really done, the details tangling but the inevitable outcome…. ominous…. her promise to see that Carol would not fall into either enemy’s hands but that the Enterprise would likely fight its way into the thick of things without him, her Captain…. and a hasty decision to take on a mission essentially alone…. a mission he could barely understand now, only that it would accomplish…. what had she said? Salvation? He’d shaken her hand – – nothing would be written down or input – – and she poured yet another round….. and there were documents, plans, codes to memorize on a chip that would purge itself clean in twenty-four hours, and holographic blueprints – – the target was a monster, surely beyond the enemy’s current technology but perhaps that explained the Orions’ involvement – – she assured him would be updated before he left in a few weeks time as complicated pieces fell into place…. a few weeks, only with Carol… only a few weeks with her whom he’d sworn not to speak a word of what he had committed to ensuring she was kept safe…. Carol, whom he….

“How’s it going in there?,” he heard her call to him.

“You know me, lady. Gotta be just right when it comes to you.”

“Uh-huh….”

Carol had her long legs curled under her in a fat, heavy easy chair before the open doors of the balcony as she sipped the third martini he’d poured for her…. or was it the fourth — the only way she could, for now, allow the satisfying natural pleasures they found in each other to blot out the pain he would not share. For now. She took a long drag of the health-weed and blew into the warm night… that goddamn woman, Eleanor Parker; Ellie, her goddamn fool of a father called her from the start- -! Damn her, her hard done by sense of moral certitude . Carol had hated the bald ambition of the officer growing up and never understood her dad’s enthusiastic mentoring. She also hated the fact that experience now made her at least, to a degree, understand Parker’s decisions made in regard to her kidnapping and Jim’s fevered reaction; that despite her status in Star Fleet, Parker had to answer to the leadership in the Orion sector and, likewise, influential cliques within the Federation Council whose refusal to explain their political maneuvering to either her or Jim amounted to probably more than the old adage about bullshit rolling downhill. No, as her Captain likely suspected and she felt certain of, he was being temporarily busted for his exquisite soldiering in mounting her rescue — a ballsiness of individualism being currently frowned upon at Academy Command School. The old guard, she was sure, was unnerved by Admiral Parker’s commonplace joke that every young man wanted to be James T. Kirk and every woman… also wanted to be him as well. Carol had no doubt that he’d eat well and make the best of a desk in Annapolis but even if it took a week or two longer than his mates first feared, he’d soon be back in the Chair, Spock and Leonard on either side of him and Carol diligently at post. That is if what she was keeping from Jim – – her secret – – could be handled just as well…

Months earlier, on a lark, she had submitted to the Federation’s Science Council a bare bones project proposal from her private research. She was more than surprised, when it became known that Enterprise was returning to Earth for computer analysis, to be contacted by Deborah Daystrom, Dr. Richard Daystrom’s sister and Operations Executive. In all that time, Carol had shaded the truth from Jim, who knew, as a scientist, her mind was always busy and her research was just likely busy mindwork, nothing too serious. She hadn’t shopped and lunched with friends in Baltimore as she’d told her man but, rather, Daystrom had provided transportation to their facility at M.I.T. Duotronics. She was disappointed Dr. Daystrom himself was unavailable but Deborah made his wishes known; that her weapons systems could be applied to her nebulous theories about planetary development, population freedom and food production and that once her tour aboard the Enterprise ended, she was more than welcome to develop these ideas with the Institute. In fact, Dr. Daystrom was willing to silently have her transferred to his team based at the Aldebaran Colony as soon as she wanted and he’d make certain she kept her Star Fleet credentials and service record active. Carol told Deborah she was honored by the offer and looked forward to discussing the project with her brother in depth and face to face, though she needed more time to prepare something worth his interest; in point of fact, she had no immediate interests or plans about leaving the Enterprise – – not after what she’d just been through and felt the need to prove Jim instincts the right ones. Nevertheless, she was elated when she arrived at the Cochrane Arms’ fashionable, old-styled saloon— and then she saw him. And the utterly ghostly look of despair that now painted his normally handsome look of good cheer as he stared through the holo’cast of an NYC NFL game and knocked back the hard drink. She’d seen him drunk before, and angry, even almost self-loathing and full of hate but never bleak as he clearly seemed now, lost. Parker clearly had attacked what he cared about most, his command, his ship, maybe even her. Whatever they’d done to him, and the opportunity the Daystrom Group offered her, and her choice, would affect an already roller-coaster of a future.

They’d joked about that future — the everyday married things a couple of space heroes would have to deal with — but when they treated that future seriously and living together, sharing a cabin, they were stuck with having to get the permissions of various anonymous protocol officers. Getting married? Possible but, at present unlikely, and they’d each be transferred to different starships by old-fashioned tradition and practicality.. And both had problems with the idea of marriage, as well with having children as their own pasts, different in the details, were strangely similar in their dysfunction. Still she imagined the curly haired adventurer who’d pop up in her dreams, of a boy or girl Jim would find joy with in sport fishing for Red Gar on Denobula, a kid who would impress married Spock and Uhura and eternal bachelor Uncle Bones at Christmas parties with a four year old’s understanding of both symbiosis and the basic battle principles of a deceleration. A child who would make their love whole, give it shape and a laugh. Their love… had she ever said that to him, outright plain and simple, as he recently had taken to, though she felt she’d always been quicker in demonstrating it. Had she ever just said, “Jim Kirk, I’m in love with you and I think I always will be.”?

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They were in the tub for over an hour. Carol laid back against him, the hand holding her drink resting on his upraised knee. Jim moved his hands up and down her body, lingering wherever she made a soft sound. She didn’t quite remember him sweeping her up in his arms and drawing him against the cut of his strong body in the water then out of the tub. “I really do love you…” Her words, like her wakefulness, drifted in and out – – were barely words at all – – as she reached and curled a hand against the back of his neck and the last thing she saw was his profile as he stretched her out on the big bed, sat by her and stared hard and lonely into open space.





STAR TREK BEYOND FOREVER (prologue part 6)

18 10 2016

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Kirk  walked up the flagstone pathway leading to Admiral Eleanor Parker’s immaculately reproduced American Colonial on the handsome residential strip of the Presidio.  The terrain surrounding the house was ersatz-rugged with a beautiful still-valley and man-made river running behind it.  It were as if it was a perfect world, this little corner of it, anyway — making this, ideally, for Jim, a perfect day.  The Enterprise computer core was being given the once over at Daystrom Orbital; Richard Daystrom himself was rumored to be coming aboard to modify her systems for a series of war games.  Admiral Parker’s invitation was for “a friendly drink” and, hell, maybe he’d even get the apology that he deserved for Carol’s treatment by Eleanor’s damn fool of a JAG.  That would leave him a Sunday afternoon to find Trout’s, the sports bar from his Academy days, and have a cheese steak and an Old Earth beer and watch one of the five home San Angeles NFL games, as they were still pointlessly called, the season kicking just two weeks ago.  Then he could grab that thing he saw at the antiques place off Market and Sixth he knew Carol would love and exploit command privilege and blast across country in a high altitude one-seater solo  to New York for dinner with her at the legendary Cochrane Arms hotel where they were staying overnight planning their two weeks or so of leave-time travels on Earth.

But it wasn’t a perfect world, not even this corner of it.  Frisco was one of the last few major Earth cities without a full weather control system.  Gray storm clouds were already turning nearly black as they gathered over the Bay.  And Jim knew that while Admiral Parkjer’s drink might appear a friendly one, he was going to have to tap dance around the Pasha Klimt’s headless body to earn it.  In fact, in that perfect world, even if he needed to make some redemption to his Commanders, which he was certain he didn’t, it would have been him who battled and chased off or, better yet, rounded up that damn Orion armored combat fleet.  Instead, once he and Doctor Marcus were back aboard, he was chastised by Admiral Donneghy for leaving the evening early and was assigned to fall back and see their onboard dignitaries and locals safely back to the planet or their vessels while Dunbar on the Akula and Bart Mancuso of the heavy cruiser USS Houston, Old Reliable to those officers whose asses he’d pulled out of the fire and, Jim learned, Carol’s godfather, failed at parlay but scared them off at incredible speeds when Mancuso fired no-nonsense across their bows.

Jim rang the old door bell, deep chimes, which was quickly answered by Eleanor Parker’s lover, Lana Kind, a  grade school humanities teacher and community activist — hot button dinners with the carefully hawkish Starfleet Commander and her quietly eloquent  liberal partner were the stuff of local upper echelon legend.  Jim knew Lana would say the same thing to him she always said upon greeting:

“Captain!  You look dashing.  I’m sure you don’t remember me.”

“You’re instantly forgettable, Lana,” Jim smiled.”Come on in.  You’re your usual punctual self but—”

“But it doesn’t mean she’s not the Admiral.”

As Jim entered the vestibule, he small talked, “The house, the yard, hell, the whole Presidio looks finer than I remember.”

“It’s taking some hard work but then good things usually do,” she replied lightly. “You know, Captain, you’re quite the hero in the seventh grade. “

“They’re probably smarter than I am these days.”

“No joking. And the Admiral tells me enrollment at the Academy has rocketed since your heroism during the Harrison affair and your speech rechristening  the ship.  Of course, half the students think they deserve the Chair the day they graduate.”

“And the other half?”

“They just want to be Jim Kirk.  Ah, here she is now,” Lana said, looking off. “Eleanor, your guest.”

Jim stood a alert, removing his formal uniform hat, tucking it under an arm. ”Admiral.”

“At ease, Captain,” Parker said a little wearily, offering a hand which Jim took with a strong shake.

She was a tall, slim woman, almost skinny even, with salt and pepper sandy hair and a lightly lined face that made her seem older than her years; in fact, she wasn’t that much older than Jim, a compatriot of Chris Pike and, like Chris, a protege of Carol’s late father, the disgraced Fleet Admiral Alexander Marcus.  She had essentially taken Marcus’ leadership role in Starfleet, though “on paper” she was Commander of Operations and Tactics, succeeding in the troubling way Kirk recognized in his own career to date:; almost preternatural leadership gifts yet benefiting all the same from historical tragedies, treachery, madness: for him, Nero, Kor, Khan… for both of them, Admiral Alexander Marcus.

“I was hoping we could relax on the backyard patio but I don’t like the look of that sky,” the Admiral observed.  “Meet me in the den, Jim.  I’ll join you in a couple of minutes.  Pour us a couple of drinks My usual.”
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It’s common in any organization that the higher ups, the movers and shakers, bear particular eccentricities and Satrfleet was no exception.  For instance, Kirk had been confounded by Chris Pike’s private obsession with baseball — not the pure boyish act of playing the game itself but its stats.  He could list ERAs in his head going back nearly a hundred years and making it seem as important as a First Contact.

Admiral Marker didn’t just collect art and antiquities — nothing eccentric in that — and it wasn’t just the nature of her collection: originals only, no reproductions — that was so difficult to figure It was that there was only one criteria: the more rare the better.  Kirk, moved through the great den, studied his favorites… a hand drawn chart of the now forbidden Talos Star Group made by a refugee, a little girl aboard a passing deep space Tramp Explorer, a set of shot glasses and half a bottle of Gentleman Jack taken from the quarters of NX-01 Enterprise Engineer “Trip” Tucker, and, the prize, to Kirk’s thinking, astronaut Alan Shepard’s Mercury program flight suit from his orbital mission on Freedom 7.
“I’m leaving you that in my will,” said Eleanor as she walked into the den, heading for the well- stocked wet bar.  “I thought I told you to pour a couple of drinks.  Didn’t you learn Christopher’s most profound lesson?”

Jim couldn’t stop the genuine grin at the memory as he joined the Admiral at the bar.  “Never turn down a free drink when the boss is buying. Two stiff Mugato fingers, easy on the soda.”

“That’s the spirits,” she smirked, not looking at Jim as she poured, saying, “I also thought I told you to keep it informal, Jim.  Or uniform casual at most.”  She was wearing work yard denims and a fresh black tee, her only indication of rank, the Delta of her belt buckle and starred pip.-bar pinned to a shoulder.

Jim smoothed out his starchy stiff dress gray jacket.  “No worries, Admiral.  I’m good. Ship’s laundry says all that blood came out easy.”

The Admiral handed him his MacCutcheon’s, stone-faced.  “Not funny at all, Jim.”

“It wasn’t meant to be, Admiral Parker.”

He looked at the Admiral unflinchingly and she held the look seemingly, without any feeling.  She just rose her tumbler and said, “Welcome home, Enterprise.”  Kirk paused with a frown, went to say something, then simply met her glass.

“Thank-you, Admiral,” sipping the smooth hard stuff that went down much too easily as he followed her to the siting lounge.  Jim took up a big leather Eames armchair across from the Admiral and said what he meant to a moment ago. “Admiral, it’s not that my crew didn’t appreciate the effort but that homecoming— It was—“

“A little much?”
“Chase craft to drydock?  Parades here at the Academy and in Annapolis, Paris, even Riverside? Fireworks for three hours over Luna Hanks?”

“Well, Jim, I don’t personally plan these things.  I’m just a grunt they gave a good commission”

Kirk let the false modesty pass without comment and simply said, “It just— it all seemed more suitable for when we return after our five year assignment not less than half way through for a routine check of the mainframe and subroutines.”

“Five years. That’s a long time.You may not know this but I was part of the group that decided on the mission length.” Jim refused to allow her barest show of a smile unnerve him as he felt she intended;  he maintained an even strain. “Tell me, Jim, do  you miss it?  San Francisco?  Mother Earth?”

Jim pretended to give it some thought, all comic seriousness. “I miss the fried crabs at Sam Wo’s, the big ones, the jumbos.  And their tea-smoked duck.”

She nodded deeply,”Those are some good crabs.”  She leveled her dark eyes straight on Jim.  “What do you really miss about  your home world?”

“You know, Admiral, between my two commands, I’ve been traveling space for just three years but I’ve either explored or outright discovered thirty two planetary bodies, all of them so different.  So strange.  On Earth, all I’ve seen are Riverside and Des Moines and then the Academy facilities here in San Francisco and Annapolis, Georgetown…  Everywhere that might still pass as exotic on Earth I’ve ever gone has been as a Cadet.  My first psycho-simulator test in Osaka , orbital jump and S-SEAL training in Iceland and Tunisia stationed off Wight.  Life takes each of us in different directions — our own.”

“Well, then, Carol should show you a good time globetrotting.  I hear you two are making plans?”

Jim replied with careful uncertainty; Eleanor was the type of commander who assembled organizational rumors into larger more meaningful pictures. “Well, Lieutenant Commander Marcus is a Starfleet brat.  She lived everywhere from La Jolla to New Berlin to  Ho Chi Minh all before she was thirteen.  And that’s just Earth as she likes to remind me.”

“Ahhh, but it’s that Sceptered Isle, Mother England, and M.I.T. Duotronic and, our secret — yours and mine — Sak’s Fifth on Itixi she considers home.”  Off Jim’s look of mild surprise, she gave a vaguely knowing smug nod.  It wasn’t just the Admiral knew about him and Carol, she was suggesting having her own notable personal opinion of his Weaps. Eleanor Parker smiled indulgently.  “June Wallace and I are friendly even if her daughter wrongly blames me for her parents’ divorce and has hated me since she was seventeen.”

“The Enterprise,” Jim said, as much to himself as Eleanor, apropos of nothing immediately, it no doubt seemed to the Admiral. “Carol’s home. It’s the Enterprise. My ship.”

Eleanor, Kirk noticed, quietly held herself in perfect resolve — just a nod, a narrowing of eyes, a twitch of her lips sufficing a smile. “Actually,”  Jim said, intentionally moving past whatever thoughts she had about the woman who he felt so strongly about.  “I haven’t had the pleasure yet, meeting her notorious mother And I’m introducing Carol to Winona if I can find her.  Hear she’s on-Earth.  Somewhere”

“Professor Kirk is promoting her new holobook on unknown life she communicated with in the Hay Drift while serving aboard the Nimitz.  Good luck catching up to that lady.”  Jim fought the grin that twisted his mouth and memories. “But you’ve been trying that most of your life.”

“Ain’t that the truth,” he agreed.

“Just you mind your Ps and Qs around Carol’s mom and catch her cues when to genuflect, and you’ll do all right.  Actually, you’re June’s type.” The Admiral pulled herself up and took Jim’s glass from his hand, gesturing for him to remain seated as she went and poured another round.

“Actually, Jim, I’m happy you found Carol.  She’s the kind of smart woman you ought to be with, not the… ladies you were famed for in your Academy days or even during your first Command.  I have no doubt Carol can even put you in your place when you deserve it.”
She returned with their refills.

As he took the drink and knocked back a strong shot, he mumbled for her entertainment, “And sometimes when I don’t and have to ask for it.  But we’re consenting adults.”  He finally elicited a knowing laugh from his superior  “Well, we won’t be Earthbound long enough for me to see much anyway, Admiral.  There usually is always a next time.  Carol and I are both eager to get to back to space.”

“That’s not going to happen, Jim.”

In spite of himself — the bile, the bite — he couldn’t help but smile.  It was a cruel, self-amused smile he normally reserved for overconfident Klingon warship Commanders at stand-off and the technocratic nabobs who failed to understand the essential nobility of the Federation and whom Pike had warned him about with derision.  “If I were to take you seriously, if I’m gonna get spanked for actually saving one of Starfleet’s most irreplaceable officers from a life of sexual domination, slavery, even if it meant me killing one of their most honored and also reprehensible leaders…. I might tell you some of the stories I’ve heard from the survivors of the Kelvin. My father would have been proudly clapped on his back every room he walked into for life if he’d done what I did for Carol—“

“Jim, it’s not easy for me to say this. You’ve accomplished so much good in such a short and difficult career- -“

“Admiral Parker, the music’s over. Time we stopped dancing.”

“Captain Kirk, you’re finished. Relieved of Command. Disavowed by Starfleet.”

Jim stood up and the Admiral matched him. She held back any reaction to the aggressive step he took with cold confidence toward her, his sharp blue eyes the lasers that sometimes unnerved Carol.

“Even if you think I screwed the pooch with the Orions — and I didn’t — I’ve had the Enterprise taken from me once before, Madame.  I earned my ship back the hardest way there is.  And I’ve kept on earning it with more natural skill than almost any Captain in our history exploring deep space.”

There was anger there. But Parker remained hard and unaffected.

“No, Captain.  This is different.  You’re done, Jim.  Really and truly done.  And you won’t see a starship bridge ever again.”
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Carol pounded beneath Jim against the overstuffed mattress of the too-comfortable New York hotel bed, fast and hard and harder still.  Her hands meant to grab hold of  the bedding but she just threw out her arms and had all the control of a rag doll.  Finally, not holding back anymore, unable to hold back, she cried out loudly, gasping.  Jim climaxed — it seemed again and again — until he relaxed, practically collapsing down on top of her, rolling half-away as he buried his forehead between her neck and shoulder.

She finally let a long breath of air escape from her lungs.  “What’s gotten into you?’

Jim pulled himself away and laid back.

“What do you mean?”

“Jim, for all I know, you really are the most virile man  – – from Iowa to the Pleiades Straits but tonight – – my lord! — you’re a man possessed.”

He muttered, almost to himself as he slipped on a baggy pair of boxers and grabbed their water glasses from her night stand, “You’ve got a problem with that?”

She shook her head and ran a hand through her mussed hair as he crossed the suite to refill their shaken martinis, finding her humor flushed as she said, “It just means I’m going to be the best kind of sore tomorrow—.” She arched her back with a sharp hissing intake of air….. “All over.”

“And  that means I’ll have to explore new ways to relax you all over again.  Good thing I got a commendation in original thinking at the Academy.”

Jim set their drinks beside her and, remembering something, went to his jacket, still soaking wet from his desolate walk through San Francisco, and pulled out a small, long box.  “You still haven’t said much about your meeting with Parker,” she asked.

“Doctor, did you know your boyfriend is still the big man on campus?”

“I have no doubt.”

“No, really.  Our esteemed Admiral says half the kids who come through as Cadets want to be Captain James T. Kirk one day.”  He handed her the box from Meyer’s Antiques and Curios.

“You love to give me gifts. I know there are things you keep buried down deep, even from me, but you definitely don’t suffer insecurity.”

“You want me to return it?  It’s a helluva present,”  he said, reaching to take the box away.

She turned away protectively with make-believe girlish petulance, opening the container’s velvet lid.  Her playful humor melted.

“Mister Kirk… it’s lovely.  And most sexy. Like I’m your queen.”  She held up the filigree of almost string-like silver.

“More my Goddess,” and he didn’t  smile nor did he joke.  Not a bit.  Not at all.

“It looks fashioned from a Stone Elk’s antler.  That’s a real status symbol to the matriarchy on  Bell Prime,” she said, half intellectually, half filled with wonder.

“It’s an anklet,” Kirk added.

“I know what it is,” she nearly giggled, adding as she raised her left leg and pointed her foot, “Go on, put it on me.”

“My pleasure.” Jim lay beside her, his body turned opposite hers so that he could clasp the delicate ends of the chain together, running his fingers along the smoothness of her sweet, trim ankles. “Carol,” he said and she heard the shift n his vocal stress, something uncharacteristically tentative, almost lost and ready to expose something he only felt comfortable sharing with her.

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She smiled inwardly; no man but  Jim could turn her inner thoughts so purple.  Looking at him, though – – that tinge of darkness she’d come to recognize, once or twice, personally,  painfully.  Her lightness drained away a little but she maintained the warmth she shared with few, mainly with him.

“What is it,  Jim?”  Carol stroked the bicep of one of his strong bare arms.  He sighed in a way that bodily tormented her.  She usually found it easier dealing with advances in photon torpedo yields and complex countermeasure spreads than this complex leader of women and men in space.  Other times – – now – – his heart was more open to her than, she suspected, to anyone, even his dearest friend of the cosmos, Spock.  And together they made real her greatest physical and emotional pleasures, and, he managed like few she’d ever been close to, an intellectual excitement , both the big ideas and, personally, in her search through the secrets of the heart.  He hadn’t answered her, just stared at her but she wouldn’t show she was unsettled in any way. She smiled at him.

He grabbed his silken royal blue kimono that she’d taken as something special between them, with its wide cloth sash hand painted with Klingonii glyphs by an Imperial Brush Mistress and he tossed it to her.

“Let’s go out on the balcony.”





Star Trek Beyond Forever (prologue part 5)

8 10 2016

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Kirk was dark when he left Security Admin.  What he’d assumed would be a fair discussion, an exchange of decision-making ideas, even a plan, military, economic, to remind the Orions what Starfleet was and what its people were capable of, had turned into an interrogation, and a sometimes mean-spirited one, courtesy, primarily, of the ambitious JAG man, Detmuller.   Whom he’d briefly sent to Base Medical.  With a simple single tap to the jaw.  Jim knew he’d pay for that one but he did not understand such vitriolic judgement from his higher-ups, borne of their mysterious, ultimately meaningless, arcane politics, no doubt, but it lingered.

Meeting Carol — as they’d planned rolling out of her bunk aboard Enterprise that morning — for drinks at at the Captain’s Summit “Officer’s” Club, following their depositions later that day to compare notes,  he’d be there for her any way she needed him.  She’d naturally receive the Admirals’ and, hopefully,  the JAG’s sympathy for her trauma at fearsome Orion hands and their dizzying, sick plans for her, but laying out the details again would exhaust and humiliate her.  Also, because he knew, though he’d likely be rightfully blamed for ignoring regs, even to free her, she’d be there for him, too, in all things because it was her wont generally (such was part of his fascination with her, a genius in advanced weaponry with as strong a capacity for empathy as he’d ever known) … and because of how longingly, he was sure, she felt for him. And he for she. That was why he was annoyed by the impersonal simplicity of a message left for him on a private reader waiting for him at the Club: “Returned to ship for personal matter.  No need for your current attention.  Take care. C. Marcus.” Part of her goddamn father’s legacy, that’s what that was – – anger with herself for allowing anything to happen beyond her control.

Lieutenant Commander Carol Marcus, in tight black, a sports bra and calf length shorts, worked the heavy bag in the the lonely gym of the ship.  She’d always kept her body as tight as her thinking since her teens when, already studying at Oxford, she prepared for both Olympian swimming and equestrian events, in the water for the Yanks, riding for the Brits in the ancient, still sports-lively slang.  Right now, each punch and kick came from a different tightness — every skillful slug of the bag and she was left thinking of her comm conversation with her mother following her deposition.  June Wallace was attractive, in her mid fifties, thin and small, bird-like and bone polished with a clear-voiced, genteel, Upper West Side mid-Atlantic accent.  “Carol, my dear, what you’ve been through, no human woman’s been through that.” June had several recommendations for her independently-minded daughter, to help her through;  esteemed psychiatrists — all experienced in severe psychosis and stress.  “Mum, I have Jim,” Carol laid down defensively,  the last word, knowing her mother’s feelings, the Grand Dame of UFP charities herself, of the boy-commander’s “insufferable self-importance”. “The Captain?  I see.” Her opinion of Jim Kirk was in the ice.  “Well, darling, I’ll brook no objection to one of my legal team’s expertise in making sure you’re done right by.  That, I insist upon.”  “What do I need a legal team for, Mum?  Who told you—?”  A man in his early sixties smoking health weed replaced Carol’s mother on the secured comm line. “Doctor Marcus, hello.  My name is Aaron Satie.”  Carol was familiar with the influential civil liberties attorney. “Now, we have much to discuss but first and foremost, short of ship’s technical business, you are to stop speaking to Captain Kirk immediately, on every personal level, even to say, ‘hello’.”  Carol’s controlled fury, her skilled combination of furious jabs and roundhouse kicks on the heavy bag, a whirling flurry, would have laid a Klingon d’k tahg Dancer flat.

Bones met Kirk in the transporter room and McCoy convinced the Captain to a martini mixer of his legendary Finagle’s Folly.  Kirk caught on that Bones pointedly ignored his exhortation they round up Carol for drinks— and approached McCoy’s cabin.  “It was unbelievable, Bones, the attitudes of the fine members of our graduating Academy class,” Kirk said with straightforward displeasure. “Their… opinions.  Let’s just say, it was some cocktail hour at the “Officer’s” Club….”………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

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“I thought by now ah’d-ah find you hangin’ from the highest yahdahm.“  Stewing over Carol’s impersonal note, Jim Kirk had immediately recognized that old-fashioned, New England State o’ Maine.  “Aye-uh,” the youngish, pretty-ish woman, nodded with a shadow of a smile, just barely tall enough, five-two, five-three, for her fit, carefully muscled tri-athlete’s body or her Captain’s bars.

Jim had turned, smiling a gentleman’s smile.  “Still haven’t developed a sense of humour there, Cat? I thought last time I saw you, you’d got the knack.”  Captain Cat Dunbar, USS Akula, was a few years older than Jim but had shared her notes for their final essay exam at Academy Command School with “the kid from the Ioway fahm.”  She’d found him damn handsome, classically so, but felt no desire and, instead, held an older sister’s care for both his natural leadership and his capacity for self-destruction.”Circumstances as bad as ah’ve heard?”

“Why I joined the Service. Even our gossip shoots for the stars.” He glanced at her heavy tumbler of whiskey. “What’s an unappreciated hero gotta do to get drunk?”

“Or laid?” chimed in another voice Jim recognized, as Cat signalled for a round. Another female voice, throaty and sensual but light and dancing; turned away, at the bar, behind Cat, she glanced back at Jim over her shoulder with a raise of those sharp dark eyebrows, that carnal smile more appropriate to a teenage girl, than the intimidatingly over-qualified psychiatrist assigned to turn him inside out that first year commanding the Enterprise before Nibiru. Way before Carol, he reminded himself.

“Helen,” Jim said, greeting the shapely brunette. She turned in a tight, blue Starfleet R and R sweater with a deeply cut Vee neck, black Capris and non-regulation heels. “I’d heard you’d transferred from Tantalus back to active space duty.” Helen had the Starfleet arrowhead Delta stitched in the sweater’s hip, an attention grabber, and above her Commander’s stripes the patch worn by the small crew of Cat’s Akula: a Great White’s sleek body and dorsal fin, and for its pec fins, warp nacelles as chopped and channelled as those of his ship, and the saucer section hull that suggested a spearhead in place of the shark’s head. “Well, you make a good fit for the Akula, Doctor Noel. For one thing, it’s a flying death trap—“

“Kirk,” Captain Dunbar groaned, warning him from a subject she had no time for, not from “the kid from the fahm” and his unrelenting sense of what he found funny. “So help me—“

“And then there’s your new Captain,” he nodded in mock-conspiracy at Cat, “She has what they call in your game, issues. Yeah. The Akula needs a good headshrinker. Yes, she does.”

Jim winced, looking away, recognizing Helen’s wide grin as a response to his past flirtations and kicking himself. Helen sipped her gin cocktail, shaking her head.

“I always hated you calling me that, Jim. And what do you mean, death trap? Didn’t your current sweetie pie, your flavor of the month, have something to do with its design?”

Jim glanced at Cat who saw the “help me” light flash in his eyes. The Akula had been the final prototype okayed by Admiral Alexander Marcus, that is before the Vengeance, and he’d assigned his daughter to implement her state of the art weapons systems tied directly into the ship’s warp drive engines. The Akula’s line were intended to be exploratory vessels, high speed-sustained maximum warp collecting and analyzing data in potentially dangerous unexplored space and, per a secret Section Thirty-One directive, a very fast, heavily armed scout in large scale space combat operations.
“She’s the one that has got you in all this trouble. The remarkable Carol Marcus. You’re so many things but I’d never have characterized you as predictable.”

He started to reply- –

“Doc, cut it out. Jim, listen to me—” Captain Dunbar settled as the ‘tender delivered their round in the overcrowded bar. “I’m being serious, honey,” Dunbar said in that “older sister” tone she knew, Kirk long remembered, could grab hold of his attention and not let go. “None of us know much of what really happened the other night with the Orions but that doesn’t mean a lot of people at this event aren’t going to use that against you anyway.”

Jim stopped half way to taking a drink, looked at her askance. He had asked her, failing to keep his tone light, “What are you trying to say, Catherine?”

“We’ve got your back.”

“Yes sir, Sir,” Helen added with a hint of meaningful bravado.

“Not all of us, big man,” a lanky Captain with a West African Coastal accent had said coming up to the bar, signalling for a beer.  “Some of us can see through your typical self-aggrandizement.”

“Can it, Ogechi,” Cat warned the Captain of the comm relay ship, USN Catallus. USS Kitty Hawk’s Special Ops and Ex-Oh, Millie Krakowsi and her tough guy Yeoman agreeably joined Ogechi.

“I have no idea how Fleet allowed your relationship with your own field weaps to continue once it became commonly known to officers throughout Starfleet,” Krakowski sneered.  “It’s as simple as the great Jim Kirk throws a tantrum and—“
“A man has a grown up relationship that’s both personal and professional and, y’uh, you make him into a child—,” Dunbar mock-marvelled.

“I didn’t say a child, just the horndog still thinkin with’ what’s happening between his legs at the expense of his command.  You’re good, Kirk; I just guess you’re too good for a ballroom full of Starfleet’s legends,” the Kitty Hawk Ops Chief continued relentlessly. “Y’know? To ask for help?”

Dunbar had flicked looks at her young friend from Iowa — who. she knew, really was as good as his reputation.  “Jim Kirk is the commander you wish y’uh’ll be. And won’t.”

“Yes. One of a kind,” Ogechi had responded sharply, in all seriousness.  “Pirate.  Playboy — Psychotic.”

“Getting easier to blame you for what happened to the traitor’s daughter than it is the green bastards.  At least the Oligarchy is a genuine ethos,” Krakowski’s yeoman piped in, despite basic protocol.

“The rest of us us don’t mistake crazy selfishness for genuine bold leadership,” Krakowski piled on as Cat Dunbar led Jim and their heavy tumblers of Glengarry away. Helen lingered at the bar observing the other officers’ hostility with cool interest and clear dislike.

“What, aren’t you going to take a poke at one of us?”  Krakowski smirked.  “Or just cut off one of our heads for the road?”

Jim had put a hand on Dunbar’s arm as she turned aggressively to their Fellows and he maintained an even strain……………………………………………. …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….
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Jim was pretty much as surprised by finding Spock in MCoy’s quarters, studying on the computer, as he was by the fact the Vulcan was having a Saurian brandy.  Clearly, his first officer’s and his doctor’s need was to speak privately — and they had to be discussing his circumstances.  Bones had urged Spock to take things as public as possible and the Vulcan hadn’t need much wheedling in contacting their mutual FOC rep.

Spock and Jim’s mutual Services Corps Rights advisor sounded what he’d later learn was a familiar refrain:  Kirk would do himself and career good to simply follow orders;  most importantly, for reasons of possibly conflicting legal self-interest, he shouldn’t speak directly at all with Carol Marcus — who, the FOC said, off-handed, was likely to be transferred anyway — except in the matter of ship’s technical business and her work, and he’d probably hold onto command after decisions made by the Admiralty, given a brief leave of absence.

Kirk threw up his hands, despair almost edging indignation… ultimately becoming pure anger.  “I’m going to talk to Carol.  I owe her a drink—”

Bones got in his path saying, “Jim, there’s more.”  Kirk looked over at Spock…

“We’ve been called to Earth,” Spock explained, attempting neutrality.  “Starfleet has acceded to the Daystrom Institute’s request to study our systems after essentially two years.”

“Something that could easily be accomplished at, say, Starbase One-Two-One or Mech-center Diablo,  Come on, Spock!” Kirk objected.

“Jim,” McCoy added as positively as he could, “Some time on Earth would help the crew.  Not Carol, least of all.”

“Captain,” Spock said, standing. “As ours is the most sophisticated computer system ever successfully employed for our extended mission time, for deep space operations. Daystom has always intended such an examination. But, Doctor, really—”

“Really,” Kirk said, finishing his first mate’s sentence in simpatico, “I think all three of us better stop walking on eggshells. You think I screwed up, rescuing Carol the way I did? Killing that Orion pig- – Pasha Klimt?”  The anger still bubbled, but Kirk fell in a chair, accepting Bones’ drink.

“Y’all thinking I’d be pouring you my finest kind if we did?,” Bones asked. Kirk worked up a half-smile, a nod, but he could read in McCoy’s sharp look, and even in Mr. Spock’s impassivity,  they all had to prepare themselves for futures that defied them.

Carol had fallen asleep with one of his books — after half a bottle of wine,  alone — and she could feel him on every page of the antique hardcover he insisted she read when she’d come by it on his nightstand.  She saw him in all the stoic hot-doggin’ hot rod tests pilots climbin’ to “the top a that ole pyramid,” daring to be Mercury Program astronauts at the beginning of “the space race” some three hundred years earlier.  Jim Kirk, more than any man she’d known, truly had the right stuff. In more ways than one.

The next day, the final one for the Summit and still to be hosted aboard the Fleet flagship despite circumstances,  Carol pounded out the vino running the corridors then worked her team for a last minute inspection in case their guests wished a simple tour.  As her Weaps deck fell under Engineering, Scotty ran the check but the Captain hovered grimly behind him.  They each caught one another stealing glances; she was almost grateful her expertise with torpedo auto-armaments and counter-measures was called upon amidship and she had to dash off without him. And the hurt she felt she was the cause of.

By nineteen hundred, civilians from the Gesthemeni government,  the Federation Governor, Neville Breck, and his team, and the dozen ship’s Captains and their selected officers were milling aboard the crew lounge, heavily guarded, of the Enterprise.  And Carol had already had two strong vodka tonics in her cabin before arriving and was feeling them as she nursed a third in the lounge.  Jim, she finally was staring at openly and it looked like he felt nothing as he gave a cursory welcome aboard his (he emphasized, his) ship before turning pleasantries to Breck.

Carol watched Jim like he was a dangerous animal, one of the few surviving Le Matya, as he stalked to the bar and drank a strong Glengarry.  As the Governor finished pontificating, a decent jazz trumpet player from Captain Dunbar’s crew, played “Round Midnight” and Carol summoned herself, who she truly was, back to her mental and emotional forefront.   She knew that Jim thought she had her own version of the right stuff, a steadfastness.  She crossed the lounge toward him.…

They stood beside one another, not bearing the looks they had for each other and what they might miss or mean.  Finally, Carol ran her fingers down Jim’s arm, aware they’d already received some disapproval from several unfamiliar officers, and he pulled her fingers tightly into his.  Carol leaned up against him, whispering through the drink, “I want you.”

He looked down at her, uncertain, , “Carol — are you—”

“Jim.  I want you. Hard- – Deep inside- – I want- -”

“You want out of here?”

She barely nodded. Her stare was enough. It was that look he caught when he glanced back after welcoming her aboard his ship as one of his officers. He turned, pressing against her…

“Remember that surprise I had for you?”

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Kirk’s surprise for Carol, set and ready since before the ill-fated Governor’s Ball at the Summit, was a private summer seaside bungalow on the warm equatorial coast of Gethesmeni.  They walked barefoot in the low, slow relax of surf and Carol tucked her shoulders under one of Jim’s arms.  They talked what they weren’t supposed to be talking about but soon fell silent.  Soon after, they fell onto, into a broad, deep hammock near their isolated lodging.

Jim kissed her, her face and neck, pressing down on her throat and open mouth until she managed, “Take my clothes off.”  He looked at her, eyes alive with all the pleasures they’d shared but she couldn’t help playing, saying, “Now!,” inverting one of their earliest encounters that she still teased him about.  Still, he took his time with the clingy off-duty formal wear, a tiny black cocktail dress, making her moan and laugh lightly as he wanted, running his hands over her naked body.  She was stretched back on the hammock as he, down on his knees now, held and rubbed and kissed her right foot. She ran her left foot, with its little blue-green painted nails, on his shoulder and moved him up and Jim massaged and licked every inch of her.  He buried his head down between her thighs, gently biting, working his tongue.  Carol took hold of his hair and guided him and he let her guide him, let her have complete control over the both of them, until she was bucking up against him a little and, finally, making hard, high almost girlish stutters –cries cut short — until there were no more sounds to make…

No, no — there was something else… a similar sound when Jim woke, realizing by the shifted star pattern over the ocean it was a good hour later, and, finding himself alone in the hammock, looked around desperately, panicking for Carol. Then he relaxed, catching sight of her, and pulled a long, heavy towel they’d rolled and used as a pillow, around his waist.

Carol was huddled by the small bonfire he’d set soon after they’d arrived, as the water crashed and hushed.  She was wearing his overlarge Starfleet pullover she found so comfortable.  Aware of him behind her, she fought against the small sobs that choked her.

“Carol?” he asked.

“You’re such a good man, Jim— They shouldn’t have treated you like— they did.”

“What is it? What’s wrong?”

He came around and sat beside her just as those chokes broke open into messy tears — “Oh god, Jim!  The way those Orion monsters treated me— Not like I was someone with thoughts and… ideas and feelings of my own— they didn’t c-care— they were— they were going to turn me into an animal!”  He grabbed her and held her close.

“Carol, Carol— its done.  You’re safe.  I’ll never make any kind of mistake like that again.  Never when it’s you”

She pulled away but not by much.  “You’re blaming yourself for this?  No, Jim!”

“I let you down, beautiful.  I’m not— I don’t screw up.  Not like that  I can’t.  Now our own are going to take you away from me…. stick you in a lab some place while I count myself lucky to get assigned a first officer’s post on a space tug in Earth orbit calling Starbase One home.”

She hit him softly with balled fists.  “Stop it, Jim.”  She wiped away tears from her face with the back of her hand as her strength came back in waves.  Jim, of course, she knew he wouldn’t cry or anything so silly as she’d allowed herself, not since his sacrifice of self to save his ship, his crew, his friends from the genetic mutant Khan and his miraculous return from the dead; he’d just stare out the water, making jokes to coax a laugh ’til the Gethsi sun started its creep over the oceanic horizon.  “You hear me?  kiddo? We’re in this together.”

“You love me, Carol?”

“I want the future, my future, with you,” she answered, brushing back a stray curl of locks from his broad, thoughtful brow.  “You’re a brave man to feel about me the way you do.”

“No more crying?”

“Depends,” she answered with a smile. “Are you going to out do yourself in that hammock? I’ll cry Hallelujah!” and Jim kissed her, their teeth clicking, their lips sealing like they’d never say good-bye.

In the small squat, cool living space, Kirk’s communicator chirped.  Uhura.  She gave him frequencies to tune the bungalow’s comm-pic and her voice was tightly by the numbers.  As Carol poured them ice cold Altair water, Jim asked for the viewer to engage and saw what the Enterprise sensor’s were reading, a wavering image: five pinpoints of incoming light.  They heard Sulu, Chekov, and the new junior science man, Ashe, discuss the particulars of the lights — certainly not naturally occurring, then facts and figures and, coming to sit close by Jim, it took Advanced Weaponry Specialist Carol Marcus all of ten seconds, tops.  “You sure?”  Jim asked.

Carol nodded, adding, “That most distant light’s reflection pattern gives them away. It’s a rear guard giving the one at point a pinwheel effect, an older class S-Vee two-twenty, the array— oh, shit! Look!  Attack positions,” she analyzed.  “Maximum short warp!”

The image flared- – Kirk shifted frequencies on the viewer— found the Enterprise bridge off a security recorder—as Sulu slipped from the Chair to helm as Spock entered.

“Spock—!”

“Captain, my guess is it’s—”

“It’s an old armored Orion fleet.”

Spock nodded, studying the numbers on the reader handed to him by Mister Ashe.  “Agreed—”

“Lieutenant Uhura,”  Kirk commanded, Carol detecting the tonal shifts in his voice as well as his body, an Olympic boxer ready and eager to dance. ”Hail them.”

The image of the bridge, his crew, abruptly shook and rocked, inertials screeching, as colored steam blasted through light cracks, spiderwebbing the bulkheads.

“They’ve just started the conversation, Captain. Loudly.”

“Mister Spock!,” Pavel Chekov barked, his voice steady but carried by his young energy. “They’re coming around at five-five-five.”

“All hands, all hands!”  Spock’s voice echoed over comm systems.  “Stand by for second attack.  Barrage of old style nuclear torpedoes incoming!”

Kirk looked at Carol who nodded firmly.  “Mister Spock,” Jim said, “Launch countermeasures. Full spread. Make ‘em crazy. Phasers and torpedoes. Light ’em up–” He leaned forward studying the viewer as Carol’s eyes flicked between the screen and Jim.

“There’s a message coming through,” Uhura announced quickly, snapping switches to narrow the call signal and continuing with her distinct tone of annoyance when she knew she was temporarily off-line. “Spock, you’re not going to believe this…”