Well that was real mature...

Well that was real mature...

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Star Trek: Course Corrections, Part 1 (of 10)

        So I worked up a short story submission recently for the Star Trek: Strange New Worlds anthology. It didn't get selected and, to tell the truth, I'm not surprised.  When I started, I had a story planned about post traumatic stress disorder and took a look at the original series crew in the aftermath of a horrifying battle, while flashing back to the action beats that involved first contact with an alien race and an attack by Klingons. I would gradually dish out the events but, as I got into it, I felt the action beats were too familiar and the PTSD was just a little too cloying and disingenuous. At that point, I realized the story I REALLY wanted to tell was not about "out there" but an internal one that was completely character driven.  I wanted to see a character make a life altering decision and how he comes to that decision over the course of an evening. It's not the action story you might get when you pick up their book (which I'm sure will be very good) but I think it's a great character piece. If you really love the classic characters (particularly McCoy) and would like to spend some time just hanging out with them, this little tale might be for you.  I made a few changes (to include continuity from the animated series which was not allowed in the original submission) and I will release it in ten parts/eight entries. For some reason the conversion keeps putting extra spaces in the published version that are not visible in the draft version I hope I can eventually figure out how to fix it. Until then, I hope you enjoy the story.


            Jim Kirk opened his mouth to speak, then paused. He slowly closed his mouth and worked his chin back and forth in frustration. Finally, he mercifully ended the recording by giving a button below the monitor an angry jab with his thumb. With a heavy sigh, he sank back into the chair contemplating his next avenue of attack. For a brief moment the smiling face on the monitor seemed to mock him. The door to his cabin chimed and, for a moment, a flash of irritation shot through his body. It quickly subsided when he realized he really didn't mind a distraction from his current duty.


            The door parted with a soft shush of air to reveal Leonard McCoy. The doctor looked tired and took long slow strides across the captain's quarters and dropped into the seat on the other side of the desk. As he sank back, he deposited a curved bottle of brandy and two small gasses on the work surface between them.

            "I know that look," Jim said. "Is he..."

            "Alive, for now," McCoy said. "I've done all I can. If he makes it though the night..."

            McCoy allowed his thought to trail off before snatching the bottle back up and pouring two fingers worth of liquid into each glass. Without pause, in what appeared to be a single motion, McCoy had returned the bottle to the desktop, hefted the small glass, drained it's contents and was already pouring a refill. Jim would have been impressed with the surgeon's dexterity, if he hadn't seen his Chief Medical Officer's "disappearing" act multiple times of the last four and three quarter years.

            Jim picked up his glass and contemplated it.

            "Damnit, Jim," the doctor said slowly, "I'm getting tired of having to remind you that everyone on this ship volunteered for duty knowing the risks."

            "I'm responsible..."

            "Yea, yea, yea, you're responsible for your crew, but this is a dangerous job. I've been on enough landing parties to know, if anyone dies or gets injured it's usually in spite of your efforts, never because of them."

            "You weren't there, Bones."

            "I wish I were, for your sake, but I don't have to be there to know you did all you could."

            Jim stood up and carefully poured his drink back into the bottle.

            "I have paper work." Jim said, "I need a clear head."

            McCoy's eyebrows knitted in confusion.

            "The computer said you uploaded your log and incident report to Starfleet command over an hour ago."

            "I have," Jim paused briefly searching for the right words before continuing, "a more important report to send."

            McCoy, clearly still not understanding, moved to the corner of the desk and gathered the bottle and glasses. Jim noticed him sneaking a glance at the monitor. A look of understanding then washed over the older man's face.

            "I, ah, guess, I'll leave you to it then, Jim," McCoy said in a softer tone as he walked toward the cabin exit.

            The door swished open and McCoy paused and looked at the captain.

            "If you want to talk later," McCoy hefted the bottle slightly and put on a half smile, "The bar is always open."

            Jim, for the first time in two days, felt the corner of his mouth quirk up briefly.

            "Doctor's orders?"

            "Friend's request. Doctor's orders would require I waste the good stuff on you," McCoy said has he exited to the corridor, "Can't have that, can we?"

            With that the door slid shut, leaving him trapped with the absolute worst duty suffered by a starship captain. Jim thumbed the recording back to life.

            "Mister Takahashi, it is my unfortunate duty to inform you that your daughter gave her life in service of the Starfleet..."

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