Well that was real mature...

Well that was real mature...

Friday, September 30, 2016

The Road to Breaking into Comics: The Women (and Men) of Darby Pop

Back in November of 2014, I wrote a blog discussing the virtues of comic book writers grabbing any opportunity to get their work in front of editors/publishers. One of the few ways are the all too rare writing contest. I discussed my experiences with those contests and you can read about them here. Since writing that, the two scripts I had just finished: One for Top Cow ("Friends Help You Move, Real Friends Help You Move Bodies" - which may have been one of my favorite things I have ever written) and another one for Darby Pop ("Random Stanzas in the Poetry of Lies and Self Deception"). Both were rejected.

So, I did what writers do. I moved on.

Despite the rejections, there were also some successes that kept me going.  Alex Thomas of Pipedreamcomics gave the webcomic I was writing ("Adventures in Pulp") a great review and even did a brief interview with me (you can read the interview here and the review here). Two great guys (Keith Callbeck and Chris Beck) over at We Talk Comics even invited me and the artist to do an episode of their podcast (you can hear it here). It was a lot of fun. People were reading my stories and actually liking them.

I didn't give up on the contests though. I entered Mark Millar's MillarWorld Annual contest with a story based on his series "Starlight" which ended in another rejection. It was both pulpy and had a lot of heart and I was really proud of it. This time the story was so special to me I posted my entry here. I entered the next Top Cow contest based on "IX Generation" and "Aphrodite IX" with "The Devil is in the Details." Unlike previous years, they gave feedback and an opportunity to revise the submission. It was rewritten and resubmitted as "A Serpent in the Garden." I've not heard back on that, so either a decision has not been made or it was rejected. Either way, you can't look back.  Just keep on going forward. If I win, that's great. If not, I have another issue of experience under my belt. In the middle of getting the first draft of my Top Cow submission ready, I was stunned to find my "Adventures in Pulp" work was again the focus of some great press. Pipedreamcomics put us several of their best of 2015 lists and we were up for Digital Comic of the Year. Pipedream readers would pick the best out of the staff's top ten pick, which included DC's "Batman 66" and Marvel's "X-Men Infinite '92."

And we won.

If you had told me a year earlier characters I created like Dick Ruby, El Supremo and The Good Witch of the Dead Lands would beat out Batman and Wolverine, I would have laughed. You can see the winning announcement here. But just when you think everything is going great, the universe throws you a curve ball. The artist (and website owner) of "Adventures in Pulp" decided to quit. We were almost thirty pages into our second story, "Jigsaw World," which was going to be an eighty-eight page epic instead of a collection of short stories. I retreated into screenwriting without looking back. Three pilots I wrote are currently attached to GloverZone Pictures, but even that has fallen into a holding pattern. I was talking with Conquest Art Design's Ivan Castillo about collaborating on a sci-fi comic called "The Outer Worlds," but it was taking forever to get a contract together (we have since gotten that ironed out, and have finally gotten started).

Most importantly, I entered another contest.
 Darby Pop had a second contest. This time a collection of short stories focusing on the Women of Darby Pop.  Confession time. I was in the midst of several deadlines and found out about the contest fairly late and, well, I cheated. 

Whoa, whoa, whoa. Don't get too excited. The stories were mine. I wrote them. 

I just took, kind of, a short cut.
My previous submission for Darby Pop ("Random Stanzas in the Poetry of Lies and Self Deception" featuring Stingray) was structured oddly. I was trying to do something different in hopes of getting noticed. Instead of a single narrative I crafted a series of vignettes focusing on the character. The mini-stories would hopefully run the gamut and coalesce together as a nice character driven piece with loads of pathos and hopefully some humor. They had rejected it, but I needed something quick. I decided on a shot-gun method. I pulled the stories apart, re-wrote the individual tales, and submitted SIX separate stories and hoped that the parts were greater than their sum.

Apparently, one was.

On June 12, I was contacted by Jeff Marsick. My sixth story squeaked through. "Looking for Redemption with Blind Eyes."

But I'm getting ahead of myself. There was some hand wringing on my part. I love Stingray. She is a beautifully broken character. She first appeared in Indestructible. When we first see her, she is getting out of prison. She was a superhero who went bad. As the series progresses, we see her spiral downward and she eventually becomes the main villain of the story. During the climax, she commits a horrible act and... and... well...

I felt bad for her. 

I know that sounds odd, but the regret was on her face the moment after she committed the act and, in that moment, I realized she is redeemable and I am a sucker for redemption stories. We all are seeking some kind of redemption for something. It may be big or it may be small. We may get it and we may not, but it's there. Stingray's redemption tale is begging to be told. However, it has to be earned. I can only guess what the folks of Darby Pop thought of my submissions because for that eventual redemption tale to feel really earned the character has to be beaten down. These submissions were prequels, so I beat her down. 


Story. After. Story. 

The fine folks at Darby Pop probably thought I was some sort of woman hating misogynist. Just the opposite. I believe in Stingray but, until that perfect redemption story comes along, the harder and more frequently she can be beaten down the better.  Then when her redemption comes, she will stand taller than ever before. It will be earned. See, even now I get carried away. I really love the character.

Where was I?

Oh yea, Jeff Marsick, contacted me. Jeff was the winner of the previous Darby Pop contest for the Stingray oneshot and writer of "Dead Man's Party." He explained he was going to be my personal editor and made some revisions and notes to my script. He was very friendly and generous. 

Then I opened the file and my heart sank. 

My script was littered with red revisions. My first thought was "Oh, no, they didn't have enough submissions and mine sucks so bad they ripped it apart. My best digital comic award was a fraud. I'm a hack. It's a pity acceptance." Then I calmed down and read though the sea of red, and realized it was not as it appeared. The theme is there. All the elements I wanted and considered important were untouched. The foundation was intact. All the changes were cosmetic. A page that was eight panels was now six. A panel with two balloons now had one. Everything was still there, but streamlined. Redundancy eliminated. He was more like a surgeon with a scalpel. An idea I had taken three lines to get across were re-arranged and trimmed down but the idea remained untouched and now read in a single line.

It was concise. It was streamlined. It was BETTER.

In the span of a few minutes, I went from despair to unbridled enthusiasm. I didn't have an editor with "Adventures in Pulp," so Jeff was my first. I could not have gotten one better for my first time out of the gate. He was spectacular. He didn't just say, "Change it!" He explained why it worked better. He was right every single time and did it without altering the intent of any of the scenes or the point of my story. He was in a word: Amazing.

After several back and forth exchanges (which included a ground up re-write of page 4), we got it nailed down and he sent it "up the chain." I got another round of changes from Darby Pop President Jeff Kline. It was the second most unnerved I was during the process. This Jeff was the creator of Indestructible and Stingray. I was playing with HIS toys. What if he hated it? With great trepidation I opened the file to see only a few minor changes. Very minor. I didn't break his toy. For the record, I consider that a second win.

Next enter Kristine Chester. She was the Associate Editor and managed all the rest of the communication with me and the artist of the piece, Pedro Moreo. Like Jeff Marsick, Kristine was just spectacular. She was friendly and kind all the way through the art process. She frequently asked my opinion and kept me in the loop as to Pedro's work (which is absolutely fantastic.  Mark my words... he is a future star and I hope I get to work with him again). I got to see my story come together in a way that I didn't even get to see with "Adventures in Pulp" in the latter months. There was a genuine feeling of respect toward me and the story. Again, suggestions were always made with a single goal: Make it better. Never was there ego or a feeling of a power trip. Every comment and every suggestion was geared toward serving the story or character. It was a fantastic change of pace from what I was used to in the past.

Just to back up for a minute, my actual first experience with Ms. Chester was when I e-mailed my submissions. I was having tech issues and even then she was so kind and helpful. She even made a comment about how everyone in the office had read my blog about the contest -- the one I have a link to at the beginning. Remember when I said Mr. Kline reading my script was the second most unnerved I was during the process? Well, that unnerved me more than anything, even though it was said with nothing but sincere kindness. I'm still not sure why. Anyone want to psychoanalyze me, feel free.

Bottom line. Working for the great men and women of Darby Pop has been a fantastic experience from top to bottom. I hope it's not my last.

The book "Women of Darby Pop" is a double size issue for $3.99 and was released this past Wednesday. If you can't find a copy in your local comic shop, you can get it digitally at ComiXology here or order physical copies through Darby Pop' Square Store here.

Like with my previous work, I do plan on doing a writer's commentary on the story after it has been out awhile. In it, I hope to talk about my goals with the story and character and even discuss some of the specific editorial improvements. It should be fun. Until then, I have another contest to get ready for...

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

RobCon IV: The Voyage Home

I am going to be at RobCon this year. I'll confess.  Initially, I was going to pass. Having done three tours promoting the website I used to write for, I really didn't feel I had much to offer this year. I was busy but didn't have anything tangable to bring to the table. But, I'm getting ahead of myself. 

Let's rewind.

About a year ago, I was approached by a production company who was interested in my writing and Adventures in Pulp was coming to an end so I spent most of the last half of last year focusing on screen writing rather than comics. 

Then things got weird. 

I was invited to appear on the We Talk Comics and talk about my writing on Adventures in Pulp. The experience spurred me on to continue with Adventures in Pulp (against my better judgement) when the artist asked to continue a story we had started together. My lawyer recommended saying no to the deal the production company offered but the idea had set in and I went about shopping my screenplays around. Around the first of the year, Adventures in Pulp won Digital Comic of the Year 2015. I was trying to get contracts done to do some comics with some artists (one being Ivan Castillo of Conquest Art Design) and entered some contests (Darby Pop's Women of Darby Pop and Top Cow's Annual Talent Hunt). There was a lot of business and creating but nothing I could put on a table to promote.  To add insult to injury, the artist/owner of the Adventures in Pulp site decided to pack it in and the story there was unfinished. It was, to be blunt, a shit storm of bad luck, good luck and new opportunities. I felt pulled in multiple directions while running in place. It was an odd feeling and RobCon was around the corner.
"You are coming this year, right?" Robert Pilk (the Rob in RobCon) asked casually one day.
"I don't have anything new.  It would seem kind of sad," I said, trying to hide behind a comic rack.
"You can promote your Digital Comic of the Year award."
"But Adventures in dead, the second series is unfinished. I've got nothing."
"Eh, something will come up."

I wiffled. I waffled. Xander was playing summer ball. That could be an excuse. Except The USSSA AA World Series had wrapped two weeks before the con. I hemmed. I hawed.

Then some news broke. 

Several things at once. First, as described in yesterday's blog, GloverzoneDL Pictures picked up my pilots for production. Contracts have not been signed yet, but they have listed the pilots listed on their website, so what the heck, right? I was contacted about a story I wrote getting published in September. I still can't talk about it on social media since it has not been officially announced but I did get permission to discuss it at the convention. Contracts I had been waiting on for over six months were completed. It even appeared the long discussed Outer Worlds comic book mini-series with Ivan would finally get moving. While I didn't have any new books to sell (I will have the award winners), I did have stuff to discuss.

I broke down and decided to attend the convention. At this point I have to give a big thanks to Diana Simpson (Rob's right hand woman), who got me on the docket in the eleventh hour. Diana is fantastic and is busting her butt to help Rob make ROBCON the biggest and best yet. If you see her, please make sure to tell her what a great job they have done. She deserved the props.

I'll be on the writers panel from 11-12 Saturday and I'll be joining Matt Shafer of the Mountain Empire Superhero Film Club to discuss upcoming comic book films for the film panel from 1-2.

Rob was right. Something did come up. But don't tell him I said so. He'll be insufferable for at least a week. Perhaps even two.

UPDATE: Since Darby Pop has mentioned it on Facebook and twitter, I can confirm I am one of the writers who will be published in the "The Women of Darby Pop" anthology. My story is called, "Looking for Redemption with Blind Eyes." The double sized issue will be available for purchase nationwide on September 28 for only $3.99. This Previews World "certified cool" oneshot is likely to fly off shelves so to ensure you get a copy, preorder copies at your local comic shops with item code JUL161751. I will be writing a blog about the wonderful experience working on the story once the official announcement has been made.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Pilot Playhouse (With a Little Help from My Friends)

I don't like to discuss stuff until contracts are signed since, lets face it, in the entertainment industry anything can can happen. Projects fall through all the time even after pages have been inked with one's John Hancock. However, I am making an exception. My three television pilots Jigsaw World, Exodus 7 and Atlantis Rising appear to have found a home at GloverzoneDL Pictures. Normally I would keep mum, but since they are sure enough to post them as in development on their website (see the bottom of their list here: http://gloverzonedlpictures.com/t-v-series/) I figured, what the hell? Worst case scenario, it falls through and I go back to shopping them around. 

Exodus 7 is a pilot/series proposal I wrote several years ago when the digital comic I was writing was stalled so the artist could do a pitch for a publisher. I had ants in my pants to do something different in the down time and so I started bouncing ideas off my dear and old friend Bud Shinall who partnered with me in this endeavor. Over the years the two of us would hit the local bar and grills and talk about the scifi shows of the time over potato skins and blooming onions. We really believed we could carve out a space sci-fi concept that would be budget conscious and dramatic. Not only was Bud the best man at my wedding, he is my best sounding board. If I come up with an idea, he improves on it. If he comes up with an idea, I can add texture and depth to it. We laugh, we create, and we make what we want to see as fans. So, together, we fleshed out the plot and first season arc, developed the characters and finally I scripted our plot. The show focuses on the Exodus missions to colonize far off worlds. The crew wakes to find their ship off course and damaged and hilarity ensues. 

Atlantis Rising dates all the way back to a comic book script I wrote back in 2007. It revolves around the U.S. reverse engineering the alien technology with an eye toward taking over the world but, Atlantis rises from the ocean introducing magic to the world at large creating a cold war between the two nations. I always believed in the story and thought it would make a great television series.

Jigsaw World is another comic book concept from back in 2007.  It the two (of four) issues sat idle for years until an artist agreed to work with me on a pitch. We shopped the first issue along with the second issue script and outline around to no avail.  Later the artist asked me to write his webcomic and, again, during idle time when he was not producing, we put up the first issue on the website. We parted ways so I adapted the first two comic scripts and rest of the outline to a pilot script. After getting some press from our other digital comic work, we decided to resume working on it with the intention of self publishing via Comixology Submit and I adapted the pilot script back into issues three and four of comic book, but the collaboration was short lived and the comic was never finished or published. Again, I always believed in it and thought it would make exciting tv (or comic). (UPDATE: Some one pointed out I didn't mention what this series would be about. The idea is kind of Flash Gordon meets Sliders. On a version of Earth from a parallel universe, scientists try to save their doomed world by pulling pieces of Earths from alternate realities to create a new patchwork planet. Our hero is on of of those pieces and gets to explore his new world in search of technology that will stop an alien infestation that was on one of the pieces and is now infecting the whole new world.)

I hope everything works out and one day you can see these stories on television. 

I would be remiss if I didn't mention fellow writer Tommy Bryant. Tommy has been a big cheerleader and help in my transition from comics to television. Once, I worked with an artist who refused to give me the name of an editor he worked with when I wanted to send out some inquiry letters (to be honest he actually claimed he could not remember, which was not true, who forgets the name of their first editor). It wasn't like we would be competing for the same jobs, so it was kind of strange. Conversely, anytime Tommy comes across a production company he forwards them on to me. Sure he COULD think "if they like his stuff they may pass on mine." But he doesn't play that game. He realizes that there are a million reasons why a project may get selected and a million why they may not and that his success is in no way related to mine (and vise versa). He loves the job. No, strike that, he loves the CALLING of being a story teller and not only needs to feed it within himself, but in the others around him. That kind of love of the craft is hard to find in the struggling circles. We would be a better community if more thought like him. I know if my shows go to series, one of the first calls I'm going to make will be to Tommy. Writing a season of television is a lot of work. I know I'll need a solid stable of storytellers to get the job done.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Living and Dying in Starlight

While I wait for announcements on the status of my entries for this year's Top Cow Talent Hunt and Darby Pop's Women of Darby Pop contest, I thought I would post my losing entry to Mark Millar's MillarWorld Annual Contest. I wrote this back in October and received the sad news that my entry, a five page tale based on Mark Millar's Starlight (the cover off issue 1 with art by Goran Parlov is pictured at right), didn't make the cut in December. As I have said before, it's very difficult to break in as a writer so you must take every possible opportunity to get your work in front of editors. While the 4 short stories I wrote for Adventures in Pulp were named Best Digital Comic of 2015 by pipedreamcomics.co.uk it was still technically an amateur publication put out via a (now defunct) website and Comixology Submit (still available, and all proceeds go to the artist). I was a huge fan of Starlight with it's pulpy Flash Gordon flavor and since my piece didn't make the book, I wanted to share it because I am proud of it and want it to be read. Here it is:

Page One

1/ Young DUKE MCQUEEN is urgently swimming underwater. He has a clear domed helmet on for oxygen (like the one he wears in issue 5), one hand is stretched out in front of him and the other hand is pulling QUEEN NEPTUNIA with the other. The page should play like it could be part of the untold story, "The Under Sea Peril" referenced on page 16 of issue 4.

DUKE: Come on, Highness. They're gaining.

NEPTUNIA: I can't believe the Charybdis turned on me.

2/ New angle we see four Charybdis in hot pursuit, but Duke and the Queen have stopped swimming and Duke has pulled his sword out.

DUKE: They are too fast. Time to make a stand.

NEPTUNIA: I can't believe you are willing to protect me after I took your prisoner.

3/ Duke launches himself at the foursome of Charybdis.

DUKE: What can I say? I'm a swell guy.

4/ Close up of Neptunia.  She has a look of awe on her face.


5/ Duke swimming back toward Neptunia. Random severed body parts of the Charybdis are floating by.

DUKE: We are safe for now but more are coming.

NEPTUNIA: If we make it out of here alive, perhaps you and I --

6/ Close up of Duke with an aw shucks look on his face.

DUKE: Sorry Queen Neptunia, I'm a landlubber. The sea ain't for me.

Page Two

1/ DUKE is riding a red dragon like the one on page 13 of issue 1. Also riding the dragon is an eagle-woman. She looks human save her yellow eyes with vertical slit pupils and a pair of wings growing out from her shoulder blades. One of her wings is singed and broken. Her name is TALEN and she is clinging to Duke who is firing his blaster pistol into the distance. The page plays like it could come from an tale that might be called "The Scourge of the Sky Pirates."

TALEN: You're going to get us killed.

DUKE: They're gonna kill us, I'm trying to save us.

2/ Cut to a new angle we see two Sky Pirates using jet packs.  The lead pirate is shooting the dragon's head.

TALEN: What do we do now?!

DUKE: Wait here, Talen.

3/ Duke leaps off the dead, falling dragon at one of the sky pirates tackling him in mid air.

TALEN: Wait here?!

4/ Close up of TALEN, she has a look of shock on her face.


5/ Duke flying back toward Talen wearing the first sky pirate's jet pack. He is holding the other's in his hand.

DUKE: Here, get this on.  The ground is coming up quick.

TALEN: If we survive this, perhaps we could --

6/ Close up of Duke with a polite look on his face.

DUKE: Sorry ma'am, I like the ground under my feet. The sky is too high for me.

Page Three

1/ DUKE and ATTALA are surrounded by Ice Apes in a snow covered pass near the foot of a mountain. He is stabbing one ape with a sword while she is shooting one with a blaster pistol. The page should play like it could be part of the untold story, "The Ice-Apes" referenced on page 16 of issue 4.

DUKE: I see Princess Neve over there.

ATTALA: You'll never make it. There are too many.

2/ New angle.  We see the white haired, blue skinned Princess Neve in the clutches of an Ice-Ape.

DUKE (from off panel or in a caption): I have to try.

3/ Duke jumps onto the Ice Ape holding Neve.


4/ Close up of Attala.  She has a look of fear on her face.


5/ Duke walking Neve back toward Attala. Dead Ice-Apes littering the snowscape.

DUKE: We are safe for now but I'm sure more are coming, Princess.

NEVE: If we make it back to the ice castle alive, perhaps you could stay with --

6/ Close up of Duke with a sad look on his face.

DUKE: Sorry, Highness, I only like my beer cold. Your kingdom is lovely, but too frosty for me.

Page Four

1/ DUKE is in a jungle and has is sword out hacking at the plant monsters. He is being aided Attala and Princess Typhona, daughter of the evil Typhon. The page should play like it could be part of the untold story, "The Plant Monsters" also referenced on page 16 of issue 4.

DUKE: Keep swinging, ladies. We just have to hold out until --

2/ Cut to new angle revealing Duke's spaceship hovering above them.  The door is open and a rope ladder is hanging from it. In the door is Prince Bauhm.

BAUHM: Hold them off, McQueen. Ladies, start climbing.

3/ Attala and Typhona climbing the ladder. With Duke fighting off the Plant Monsters while Bauhm shoots at some of the plant monsters from the hatch of the ship.

DUKE: What took you so long, Bauhm?

BAUHM: Couldn't find the keys to your ship, McQueen.

4/ Close up of Typhona she looks down and has a look of admiration on her face.

ATTALA (from off panel): Forget it Typhona --

5/ Pull back to show both, Typhona is looking up at Attala.

ATTALA (continuing): -- If he makes it out of here alive, someone will offer.  They always do, but he will decline.

TYPHONA: Does he not like girls?

6/ Close up of Attala looking sad.

ATTALA: Sorry, Typhona. It breaks my heart but he's not of this world. He won't find love here. I've tried.

Page Five

1/ Single panel splash page with title and credits. The night sky as it appears in an over Duke's shoulder angle. One star burns brighter than the others. Duke is holding up a photo of Joanne. It's weathered and looking ragged but you can still make her out.

DUKE: Sorry, sweetheart. I've been gone too long. This world is amazing, but it's not home without you.

The story title "Soul Mate" is written in a soft loving font as we end.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Star Trek: Course Corrections Round-Up

Here are the links to my unpublished Star Trek prose short story:

Part 1Parts 2 & 3,  Part 4,  Part 5 Part 6, Parts 7 & 8, Part 9, and Part 10.

I think I nailed the voices of the characters, but I can see why they didn't pick it up.  My original story was pretty much as Chekov describes it in part four, but it seemed generic and familiar. It was probably more marketable but I decided to do a "hang out" piece that emphasized character and continuity. It's really a love letter to the characters (especially McCoy). If you are a fan of this crew, I hope you enjoy it, because it's for you.


Saturday, April 30, 2016

Star Trek: Course Corrections, Part 10 (Finale)

Continuing my unpublished Star Trek prose short story. If you are new follow the links to and  each part:  Part 1  Parts 2 & 3  Part 4  Part 5  Part 6 Parts 7 & 8 and Part 9


            Jim Kirk pulled on a fresh duty uniform top and took a quick drink of his coffee. It had grown cold since he finished breakfast but that didn't matter. It was a good morning. There was nothing like getting a good night's sleep and waking up to good news. M'Benga had reported that Perez was doing well. Starfleet sent a message that the Vendresi had already contacted them opening up diplomatic relations, thanks to the Enterprise helping defend them from the Klingons. The Organians, per their imposed treaty, were even leveling sanctions against the Klingons. That was a surprise. Since their initial contact with the Organians, they had been oddly quiet and Kirk worried that perhaps they had grown disinterested in keeping the Federation/Klingon conflict at bay.
            The door chimed and Kirk allowed admittance. McCoy entered. Although he had changed uniforms, he clearly still had not slept.
            "Good morning, Bones."
            "Morning, Jim, I see a good night's sleep has done you some good."
            Kirk shrugged. It takes more than a good night's sleep to get over losing an officer, but he had to keep moving forward, he'd be crippled with hesitation and doubt if he kept looking back.
            "You look like you could use one," Kirk replied.
            McCoy waived him off and tried to make a joke of it.
            "Well, Jim, if you had my superior constitution, you could probably function as well as I do on no sleep."
            "Short changed by genetics, was I, Bones?" Kirk replied with a smile.
            McCoy smiled back but it quickly faded.
            "Jim, ah, I'd like to talk to you about the future."
            Kirk could see his friend was serious.
            "What's up, Bones?" Kirk asked as he sat on the corner of his desk.
            "I hear Nogura is the new fleet commander, and I hear he is offering promotions to commanders of deep space missions and I wanted to warn you not to consider one of those offers when you're in one of the moods you were in last night," McCoy said has he paced in a circle as large as the small quarters would allow.
            "You're right, Bones, on both counts," Kirk said, "Nogura had already contacted me long before it became official yesterday. When we get home he wants me to take over as Head of Starfleet Operations."
            "You told him to shove it, right?" McCoy asked hopefully. "I mean you are going to push for another deep space mission, right?"
            "Bones," Kirk began, "I'm tired. I'm tired of being responsible for four hundred and thirty souls. I'm tired of making decisions that alternate between the mundane and life-and-death with no in between. I'm tired of constantly moving on and never putting down roots."
            "Oh, give me a break, Jim," McCoy countered. "If you think you're tired of being responsible for four hundred and thirty souls, wait until it's twelve times that. Every time something happens to a ship, you'll blame yourself for sending them there."
            "That's," Kirk paused before continuing, "actually quite fair. I will do that."
            McCoy blinked. Clearly he didn't expect Kirk to give in so quickly.
            "But it's a change and I need that right now. I need..." Kirk trailed off. trying to find the right words.
            "A course correction?" McCoy asked.
            "Yea, Bones" said Kirk, his face brightening, "That's a great way to put it."
            "How committed to this 'course correction' are you?"
             "I have already recommended a commander for the Enterprise."
            "Yea, about that, Jim. Spock isn't interested. He's wanting a 'course correction' as well. He's going home to Vulcan."
            "I know, and because of that I recommended Captain Willard Decker to take command and oversee the refit under Scotty."
            Kirk could see McCoy working to recall the name. He knew when he got it because his eyes widened.
            "Matthew Decker's kid. Jim are you crazy? Decker lost his mind out there," McCoy said.
            To be fair, Kirk knew he hadn't seen Matt at his worst when he was aboard the Enterprise, but the events where quite out of the ordinary. Matt was a good man.
            "Will is not his father. He's fast track brilliant, and already captain of a small ship in the Delta system. I have already requested that you, Scotty, Sulu, and Uhura be assigned to the refit team. And Chekov will be his Chief of Security when he gets certified and hopefully Chapel will have finished Medical School by then."
            "Jim, the Delta system is like playing in the back yard. It's not a real test for a captain," McCoy said, "The worst thing that could happen in that solar system is that a crewman might pick up an STD on Delta IV."
            "That's why I want a core of solid, experienced officers I know and trust with him out there."
            McCoy took a seat and let it all sink in.
            "You knew about Spock, Chapel and Chekov?"
            "Bones, I'm the captain, when I don't know something about my ship and crew, then you should worry," Kirk said with a smile trying to lighten his friend's mood.
            "Jim, I've been thinking about this all night," McCoy said, "and for a long time I thought it was about you. Don't get me wrong. You're making a mistake and you'll regret it. Maybe before you get that nice big office in San Francisco or maybe a year or two after you get there, but you'll eventually realize it's a mistake. But somewhere along the way, last night I realized the reason I was so fired up was that it really is about me. This ship has become home to me and I don't want to lose it. All I have back on Earth is my father's house, but it's not home. It hasn't been for years."
            "Bones, I'll be honest. Men like us don't have families, we have this," Kirk said pointing casually and randomly above his head indicating the Enterprise. "However, don't think you're losing your home because you're not. I'm asking you to stay," Kirk said.
            "I can't, Jim. Because, while this is home, You're the one I trust to bring us back safely. It's what you do. Without you in the center seat, this ship it's just like dad's house, just a place and not a home," McCoy said.
            "Bones, when I tried to talk Spock into taking command, he pointed out that life is change," Kirk confessed.  "If we stayed, things would be stagnate. With Will in command, the change would be good for you and the others. The dynamic would be different. Not better or worse. Just different."
            "In a fit of anger last night, I told Scotty I would leave the fleet if you took that promotion. I was only half serious, because I never thought it would happen. You were meant to be out there," McCoy said.
            "Don't feel trapped into making a decision due to an idle threat, Bones," Kirk said.
            "I'm not. I think I just realized, that I need to build my own home. You see I was basing it on our relationships and this vessel. But now I realize that you can't do that in this line of work. I need to put down some of those roots you mentioned earlier. So I'm going to go to dad's house, hang out my shingle and build relationships in a community that doesn't travel at warp speed. I'm going to deliver babies instead of stitching up men hacked up by Klingon swords. I'm going to look at swollen tonsils instead of phaser burns. I'm going to get to know farmers, and storekeepers and their families instead of engineers and scientists. I'm going turn that house into a home and my roots will grow deep."
            A long silence seemed to hang heavily in the room, until Kirk finally and sincerely spoke.
            "I hope your new home is a happy one, Bones."
            "It's something I really should have done a long time ago, Jim," McCoy said, "I've been running when I should have been building."
            After another silence, McCoy mercifully tried to break the tension by clapping his friend on the shoulder and lightening his tone.
            "Well, Jim, we're acting like we're saying good bye now. We still have several months before we get home and, after that, Georgia is just a few seconds away from California by transporter. You can stop by any time."
            "You're not going to come to San Francisco?"
            "Hell no, Jim. Once this mission is over, I'm never stepping foot in one of those blasted atom scramblers ever again."
            Kirk laughed and so did McCoy.
            No one knew what the future held, Jim Kirk just hoped that all of his crew, especially Bones and Spock, would be happy in the next phase of their lives, with their...
How did Bones put it?
"Course corrections."

Friday, April 29, 2016

Star Trek: Course Corrections, Part 9 (of 10)

Continuing my unpublished Star Trek prose short story. If you are new follow the links to and  each part:  Part 1  Parts 2 & 3  Part 4  Part 5  Part 6 and Parts 7 & 8

            McCoy lapped the saucer section several times before his ire cooled. Leave it to that green blooded son of bitch to screw everything up, he thought. You're not being fair, Leonard, came a voice in the back of his head. Spock has spent years of service in deep space. He deserves a chance to go home as much as anyone. McCoy paused. Just because he didn't have a real home, didn't mean that others weren't anxious to spend some time at theirs. That's what it came back to. He lost his first home when his dad died. Oh, the house was still there, but the memories made it difficult to call home. He made another home with his wife and their daughter, Joanna, and losing that one is what drove him out into deep space to start with. Now, it appeared he was losing this home as well.
            McCoy looked up and realized that, in his wandering of the halls, the morning shift had started to stir. The darkened halls were noticeably brighter and they were starting to get more busy. He made his way to sickbay. He entered to find the outer section empty. Nurse Christine Chapel rounded the corner. He expected to see her looking tired and ready to retire to her quarters after pulling an all-nighter with M'Benga, but she looked fresh. Happy even.
            "Good morning, Doctor McCoy. Did you sleep well?"
            "No, Christine, I haven't. Too much on my mind," McCoy said, "But you look as fresh as a daisy after such a long night."
            "Nothing peps you up like a little good news."
            "I'm intrigued. I could use a little good news."
            Chapel went over to the desk monitor and spun it around as she dropped a data disk into a slot. McCoy leaned in and blinked a few times to get the text to come into focus. I hope it's just tired eyes and not something that needs to be fixed with a Retinax prescription, he thought. The words clicked into focus and McCoy felt himself smile.
            "Christine, I had no idea. Congratulations! Why didn't you tell me?" McCoy asked.
            "I didn't want you to pull any strings at Starfleet Medical."
            "Chris, I'm just an old country doctor, I don't have any strings to pull," he said with a smile as he gave her a hug.
            "When did you decide to do this?" McCoy asked.
            "A few months ago. I knew we would be home soon and I felt my career needed a little, oh, I don't know..."
            "A course correction."
            Christine laughed at the description and nodded.
            "That sounds like an apt description, Doctor."
            "This is just great!" McCoy said.
            "So you've heard."
            McCoy turned his head to see Doctor M'Benga standing in the archway.
            "You knew that Christine was accepted into Starfleet Medical School?"
            "Not since she told me this morning. I just assumed you were discussing Perez."
            McCoy crossed the room and walked past M'Benga into the other section of sickbay. He was relieved to see the ensign awake and clearly doing well. As he walked toward his patient, he could hear M'Benga and Chapel still discussing her future.
            "With earned credits for your work out here, I estimate you should have your degree by the time Mister Scott finishes the refit," M'Benga said.
            "Oh, I'm sure Doctor McCoy would prefer to have a top nurse and not another doctor who will argue every little diagnosis with him," Chapel said.
            McCoy could hear M'Benga's soft chuckle as they left him to his work. It was an odd sound. M'Benga was almost as stoic as Spock. It must have been something he developed while doing his internship on Vulcan.  Dear God, it might be contagious. Maybe I'm better off not shipping out with Spock again, he thought. Besides I'd kill him before we got out of the solar system. He turned his attention back to Perez and could not help but smile. He tried, and failed, to put on his "stern" face.
            "How are we feeling Mister Perez?"
            "I'm a little sore doctor."
            "As well you should be. Didn't your parents ever tell you not to play with sharp objects, Ensign?"
            "I wasn't left much of a choice."
            "I've heard. You saved the life of another crewman," McCoy said, patting the young officer on the shoulder.
            "However, don't expect extra rack time just because you're a hero. We need to get you healed up and out of here so the beds are ready for regular folks when they need 'em. No special treatment  for heroes," McCoy said.
            "Aye, aye sir. Thanks, Doctor McCoy."
            "No son, thank you."
            McCoy started to turn but then stopped and asked, "Why do you do it, son? Why this job in the fleet"
            "It's just what I do, sir. I make sure my fellow crewmates get home safe and sound," said Perez.
            McCoy smiled and left his patient to rest. For the first time in twenty four hours, he felt like he won one.