General postsThursday May 07, 2009
My "Star Trek" Novel — Mj'cra souft
Captain Harrison moved briskly from the turbo-lift to his captain's chair, ousting Lt. Langley; he was followed in by Lt. Mann, Ensigns Ciam and Siler, Jennifer--who sat to the Captain's left--while Mr. B brought up the rear and sat in the recently-installed commander's chair.
"Position," Harrison demanded.
"Coordinates R-714 at A-755," Ensign Siler said.
"All stop! Damage?"
"Minor buckling of the ship's outer hull," Lt. Mann said. "Not life-threatening."
"What caused it?"
"There are metallic scrapings at the point of impact. The mixture of tartanium, lisolyte, and benzorm would seem to indicate..."
Captain Harrison nodded. "Romulans!"
"Shields up!" Mr. B declared.
"Maintain yellow alert status," Captain Harrison ordered. "We don't know what's out there yet. Counselor?"
Jennifer leaned forward. "I sense...a kind of muted fear. But whether this is coming from out there or from inside the ship I can't tell."
"Captain," Lt. Mann said. "Given our speed, and the minor buckle at the point of impact, what we ran into--or what ran into us--couldn't have been very large."
"A conjecture," Mr. B stated. "Could the Romulans be sending cloaked space debris towards our side of the neutral zone?"
"For what purpose? I doubt the Romulans would go to so much trouble--and risk breaking the Treaty of Algeron--in order to seem...pesky."
"At warp speed, cloaked space debris could destroy a ship rather effectively," Lt. Mann reminded the Captain.
"True. But how would they monitor it? How could they make sure that the debris didn't drift back towards Romulus and Remus?" The Captain shook his head. "No, that doesn't smell right. The Romulans never nickel-and-dime anything." He cupped his hand over his mouth and lifted his face in thought. After weighing the alternatives, he executed a smart half-turn and settled back into his chair.
"Ensign. Turn the Brock around and retrace our steps. Lieutenant?" He turned towards Don Mann. "I want you to send out tachyon emissions. Let's see if we can uncloak whatever might be cloaked out there. On my mark."
Just as his pointed finger was raised in the air, the ship's inter-communication system beeped, and the voice of Doctor Failor filled the bridge. "Captain?"
"What is it, Doctor?"
"I just thought you'd like to know that G. Nickulls is doing fine. He's fully cognizant--or at least as cognizant as a Nausicaan can be." A light laugh floated through the intercom system. "Hey! My, how rude! I should add that Mr. Nickulls is also restrained and guarded, so further shenanigans from him will be unlikely. By the way, I think that was a wonderful idea of yours to--"
"Doctor," Captain Harrison interrupted. "We're in a bit of a situation right now."
"You are? Oh, I'm sorry. I didn't realize. I just thought that since your ball game was over, now would be the best time to fill you in on Mr. Nickulls' condition. But if you're busy..."
The Captain inhaled with consternation; his forehead vein became pronounced again.
"Ensign? Don?" Harrison's arm came down like he was pitching lackadaisically. "Engage." The Captain then turned toward his first officer. "Isn't the doctor aware of inter-ship protocol during a yellow alert?"
"I'll remind him, Captain," Mr. B stated, and seemed to be furiously chewing on his moustache at the thought of the future encounter.
Ten minutes elapsed before the double tactic of backtracking and emitting tachyon rays struck paydirt.
"Romulan scout ship revealed on the port bow, Captain!" Lt. Mann cried urgently. Confused, he added, "It appears to be drifting."
"Flood the area, Lieutenant. I want to know as much as possible about this ship before we board her."
An away-team was assembled of Mr. B and Security Ensign Rodgers. Together they marched into Transporter Room Two and climbed onto the platform, while Transporter Chief Kim stood ready at the controls.
"Ensign," Mr. B said. "Activate your emergency transporter armband. Mr. Kim. I don't need to tell you what a tricky business it is transporting aboard a cloaked vessel. If there are any fluctuations in our signals, bring us back with all due haste."
Mr. B nodded. "Energize."
The bright lights, cool temperatures, and hospital odor of Transporter Room Two slowly shimmered away, replaced by the bitter red warmth and claustrophobic tightness of the Romulan scout ship. A haze of old smoke filled the bridge. Rodgers' face grimaced.
"This place smells of Romulans."
Mr. B tapped once on his communicator.
"Captain? The ship apparently holds only two Romulans. Both are slumped over their chairs. One appears to be pressing against something on the control panel. I can't make out what it is..."
Rodgers leaned over. "It's the cloaking device."
"You read Romulan?"
"There's an old Klingon saying: Know your friends well but your enemies better. Romulan--unlike English--is a required language in Klingon schools."
"Captain," Mr. B continued, "it would appear that one of the Romulans is maintaining the ship's cloak even though..." Mr. B felt for a pulse. "...even though he is dead. We will now attempt to decloak the vessel."
"Careful, Number One," the Captain cautioned. "They may have protocols to prevent such an undertaking."
Carefully Mr. B lifted the Romulan's hand from the panel, noting its lightness and shriveled quality, and then lifted the Romulan himself out of the way. Ensign Rodgers sat in the Romulan's place and surveyed the navigational equipment before punching in what he assumed were the appropriate commands.
From the viewscreen aboard the Brock, the Romulan scout ship wavered into visibility.
"My God!" Ensign Ciam cried.
Half of the ship was gone; what remained was pockmarked with burns and laser blasts.
"Mr. B!" shouted Harrison, rising from the Captain's chair. "Do not instigate a search of the Romulan vessel. Repeat: do not search the Romulan vessel. You might just walk through a door into space."
"Affirmative, Captain." To Ensign Rodgers, he ordered, "Look for the ship's logs. Let's see if we can't find out what happened here." He put his hands under the second Romulans arms. "I'll get this--"
At that instant, the Romulan he was holding reared up, gasping for breath.
"Yaaah!" Mr. B fell back against the other Romulan and slapped at his communicator. "Captain! One of the Romulans is still alive!"
"Place your communicator on him, Number One!" Captain Harrison shouted. He stood up and tugged on his tunic. "Captain Harrison to Doctor Failor! You're about to receive a visitor. We'll beam him directly to Bed Two."
"G. Nickulls is in Bed Two, Captain. Of course, I could--"
"Bed Three then! Chief Kim! Lock onto Mr. B's signal and beam it directly to sickbay. Bed Three! Energize!"
The Romulan was transported away from the Romulan scout ship. Alone, Ensign Rodgers suddenly smiled.
"So how are you getting back?" he asked the now communicator-less first officer.
Mr. B looked confused. "I figured I'd hitch a ride on your signal."
"Uh uh," the Ensign teased, still working the control panel to release the computer log. "I figure this is my way toward promotion. You know: eliminate those above me."
"Great." Mr. B tossed his hands in the air. "I somehow wound up in the mirror universe."
"Got it!" Rodgers examined a small, shiny disc in his right hand. "It appears to be--"
At that moment there was a sensation of intense heat and a feeling of breaking apart, before, startlingly, the two were back on the platform of Transporter Room Two; Rodgers, whose chair had not transported with him, fell onto his back. Their hair was singed and smoke wafted from their bodies but otherwise they appeared unharmed.
Chief Kim breathed a sigh of relief. "Got them, sir."
Captain Harrison's voice resounded around the room's bare walls. "Good work, Chief."
"What happened?" Mr. B asked.
"The Romulan ship just blew up," Chief Kim responded.
Five minutes later, Mr. B, Ensign Rodgers, and the Captain rendezvoused in sickbay; they were met by a dour Doctor Failor and a worried-looking Simon Tarses.
"There was just...too much internal bleeding," the doctor said. "I know so little about Romulan physiology. Mr. Tarses here tried to help, but..."
"Did he say anything before he died?" the Captain wondered.
Doctor Failor looked over at his assistant. "He did say one thing..."
"What was it, Mr. Tarses?" the Captain asked.
Tarses, seemingly frightened, swallowed once. "He said Mj'cra souft."
"Molok!" Ensign Rodgers cried.
The Captain looked from crewmember to crewmember. "What does it mean?"
"It means..." Simon Tarses began, before his voice caught as if on an exposed nail, and he shook his head wearily.
Ensign Rodgers finished for him. "It means 'The Borg'!"
My "Star Trek" Novel — Holodeck Baseball
In order to become better acquainted with his crew — and in order for the reader to be introduced to them — Capt. Harrison institutes a baseball game on the holodeck, and the following results. Ensign Siler, a Vulcan, and Ensign Ciam, a Ridlian — a species I believe I made up — are the captains of the two squads. As a side-note: The HOLODECK? No wonder the "Star Trek" universe required a reboot.
The venue chosen was Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, New York, circa 1990. It had taken the two ensigns a week to sign up the necessary amount of teammates, but there was enough enthusiasm that the grandstands were filled not only with holographic images but real-life crewmembers who, while declining to play, still wished to watch. The two teams, dressed as the 1939 Kansas City Monarchs (Siler's) and the 2024 London Kings (Ciam's), shaped up like this:
|The Kansas City Monarchs||The London Kings|
| Jennifer (2B)|| Allman Karen (CF)|
| Simon Tarses (LF)|| Young Kim (RF)|
|Jason Lamb (CF)|| Jeff Rodgers (3B)|
| Don Mann (SS)|| G. Nickulls (1B)|
| Will Abelsaan (1B)|| Dave Saunders (LF)|
| Jim Bourg (3B)||Rich Svetlik (SS)|
| Gaiai (C)|| Mary Singer (C)|
| Mr. Siler (RF)||Ciam (2B)|
| Brenda Biernat (P)|| Mr. B (P)|
Although the majority of the participants were humans from earth, it was still one of the most diverse group of ballplayers ever assembled. Jennifer, for example, was Betazoid, and a protest was lodged when she led off the first with a single; Ensign Ciam claimed she was using her telepathic powers to figure out the pitch before it was thrown. She claimed innocence, yelling from first that Mr. B “threw shit.” Simon Tarses, a doctor's assistant with Romulan blood in him, sacrificed Jennifer over to second and into scoring position.
"Logical move!" Ensign Ciam yelled good-naturedly from second base.
"I am not...Vulcan," Simon Tarses answered confusedly, trotting toward the dugout.
"Yeah, yeah," Jeff Rodgers shouted from third. "We know all about you, ya Romulan bastard!" Rodgers, while human, had grown up on Qo'noS and had adopted many of the more confrontational Klingon ways. Simon Tarses' head visibly shrank into his shoulders at the insult.
"Ignore him," Mr. Siler comforted the young Romulan in the dugout. "His insults show no cool."
The Monarch dugout had the last laugh when a sharp grounder from Jason Lamb bounced off Rodger's glove and into left field. Sensing the error, the Betazoid Jennifer scored from second. Don Mann was then called out on strikes (Umpire Harrison, in keeping with the Japanese tradition, widened the strike zone for the stocky slugger), but the Bolian Bill Abelsaan kept the rally going with a sharply-turned double that scored Lamb. Unfortunately, the unfortunately-named Jim Bourg, a human from earth, quickly went to an 0-2 count ("Resistance is futile!" Rodgers shouted down from third) before popping out to second base, ending the half-inning.
The first batter for the Kings was Allman Karen, a Bajoran lesbian, who promptly grounded out to short.
"Don't hit it there!" Rodgers cried from the dugout. "Mann's got the area covered like stink on a Romulan!"
Young Kim, a human of Korean extraction, strode to the plate; he strode back three pitches later.
"She's got a wicked low fastball," he said, shaking his head in the dugout and eyeing Biernat on the mound.
The inning was kept alive by the foul-mouthed Rodgers, who looped a single to center; but G. Nickulls, the first Nausicaan to serve aboard a Star Fleet vessel, struck out looking, and lived up to the short-fused reputation of his species by trying to brain the umpire with his bat.
"Captain!" Jennifer cried from second base.
Everyone froze as the tall, bearded creature raised the bat high in the air; everyone, that is, except Captain Harrison, who covered the distance to the Nausicaan with one quick step, spun to his left, and swiped the bat from the big man's hand.
"Clubbing your commanding officer is a mutinous offense, Ensign," Captain Harrison mentioned matter-of-factly, tossing the bat towards the on-deck circle, "even during a pick-up baseball game."
"Hurgh?" Nickulls' eyes narrowed, and his rage grew.
"Watch out, Captain!" Jennifer cried. "He's going to--"
The Nausicaan charged: all 340 pounds of him at the 110-pound Captain. At the last instant, the Captain executed a deft side-step to his left, and then, gently, swept his right arm over the back of the Nausicaan as it roared past. The Nausicaan's steps slowed, and, without looking around, it suddenly, heavily, crumpled to the ground.
"What did you do to him?" Rodgers wondered from first base.
Gaiai, a green-skinned Orion animal woman (and the catcher at the time), lifted her face mask and said admiringly, "He incapacitated him."
"Yeah," Mr. B echoed, looking around slyly, "and he knocked him out, too."
"Aren't they the same thing?" Mr. Siler wondered, looking down at Mr. B.
"It was a joke," Mr. B admitted. He held out his hands. "Incapacitated? Knocked him out? Hah? Hah?" Several nearby people dismissed the first officer with a wave of the hand. "Aw, come on!"
The Captain removed his umpire's mask, and, under his breath, muttered something about the idiocy of attacking a fully-protected adversary, and what kind of training were they giving these new recruits anyway, and maybe he should have conducted a martial arts seminar rather than a baseball game. With his shirtsleeve he wiped sweat from his brow, and then tilted his head up toward what appeared to be blue sky. "Harrison to Doctor Failor."
The only response came from the fans, who, although theoretically neutral, were in a rage over the sudden loss of the home-team clean-up slugger. In true New York tradition, they voiced their concern in an increasingly vituperative manner. Umpire Harrison's vision was questioned; his mother was insulted; his lineage was considered dubious.
"What exactly is...vaseline?" Harrison asked his first officer.
"A 20th century emulsifier made from water and chemicals. It was used to soften skin."
"The ump takes it up the ass? No vaseline?"
Mr. B turned to the holographic fans chanting this phrase. "I am confused, too. I think they are implying that you prefer same-sex activities."
"Which would be...?"
"Pejorative in this time period, yes."
"Barbarity," the Captain muttered, and then, louder, and again at the sky (as if he were Job pleading with an absent God), "Captain Harrison calling Doctor Failor."
The voice that answered was a mixture of the long, drawn-out vowels of the upper classes, and the skittishness of the frequently mistaken. "Failor here, Captain. Did you call earlier? I'm sorry if I didn't answer but I'm in the middle of a fascinating text on Lord Bumperfield and lost complete track of time. Is there a problem?"
"We have a fallen Nausicaan on our hands."
"Oh my. Is it G. Nickulls by any chance?"
"Then I would suggest beaming him to sickbay right away. Unless of course you want me to come there. Are you on Holodeck One? Yes, that's right, the day of the big game. I'm sorry I couldn't attend, but I did want to get to Lord Bumperfield. I'm at that moment during the British Class Wars of 2063 when he dressed as one of his servants in order to--"
"Doctor. The Nausicaan?"
"Oh," Dr. Failor replied, bothered. "Beam him to me in sickbay, I suppose. Can you do that?"
The Captain raised a sarcastic eyebrow towards Mr. B, who shook his head in commiseration. "I think I can manage, Doctor."
"Fine. That would be the best plan of action, I think. By the way, what's the matter with him?"
"He struck out."
The Captain smiled. "He was felled by a Grj'albuut."
"That's equally incomprehensible, I'm afraid."
"A Tellarite maneuver."
"Well. That doesn't sound very nice. I hope the rapscallion who did this to him has been locked up in the brig, as it were."
The Captain nodded. "He will be dealt with appropriately."
"That's good. Well then, over and out, I suppose."
"Over and out, Doctor."
Harrison called over his security chief. "Put a man on Nickulls. I don't trust him with the good doctor."
"Want me to go?" Lt. Mann asked.
"Are you kidding?" the Captain answered with mock-surprise. "Your team needs you."
"Not with the strike zone you're giving me," Mann muttered.
Meanwhile several players had gathered around the fallen Nickulls.
"So much for the great Nausicaan experiment," Jim Bourg lamented.
"One incident between two disparate personalities does not necessarily extinguish decades of diplomacy," Mr. Siler commented.
"Is he conscious?" Young Kim wondered, laying his hand close to the Nausicaan's back.
"I feel he's in stasis," Jennifer answered. "Neither conscious nor unconscious."
"That clears things up," Jason Lamb commented.
"What about the game?" Jeff Rodgers pounded his fist into his glove. "We're a man short. We lost our clean-up hitter! Kahless!"
By this time, the New York crowd, angered over the loss of Nickulls, and even moreso by the delay, began tossing items at the players: scorecards shaped like airplanes, popcorn, ice cubes, hot dogs, beer. When a small battery whizzed by Jennifer's head, the Captain shouted, "Computer: freeze program!" A vein, roughly in the shape of the coastline of California, throbbed in the middle of the Captain's forehead. It was a sure sign, Mr. B knew, that he was about to blow his top.
"Who constructed this program?"
Ensign Siler stepped forward. "I'm afraid that would be my fault, Captain. I didn't know much about baseball during this period. I simply assumed that one of the more famous ballparks would be an appropriate site for this grudge-match."
"That's fine, that's fine," the Captain said. "That's good. But couldn't you have programmed in, if not a more docile crowd, then at least one less inclined towards interference?"
"This is the most docile New York crowd the computer would allow," Mr. Siler admitted.
Lt. Mann, who grew up in New York City, gazed around the stands. "About right," he said.
The Monarchs lengthened their lead in the sixth on a 2-run homerun by Don Mann; but in the bottom of the ninth, leading 4-1, Brenda Biernat began to tire. Mary Singer led off with an opposite-field single, and when Ciam walked, the crowd, long since unfrozen, but tempered by an extra contingent of holographic police officers, went crazy.
"Uh...can't we re-program this?" Jason Lamb called futilely from center field, as hot dog wrappers and paper airplanes rained down on the field.
"Time!" Ensign Siler jogged in from right field; he was met at the mound by the catcher, Gaiai, and Will Abelsaan, the Bolian first baseman.
"How's your arm?" Siler asked.
"Fine." Biernat was big-eyed and tight-lipped.
"Is there any chance you have three more outs in it?"
She nodded; but in her tight-lipped worry one could sense the game slipping away.
"I have a plan," Gaiai mentioned cheerfully.
"Nothing illegal, I hope," Ensign Siler said.
She turned a flirtatious shoulder towards her manager. "It wouldn't be me if I didn't at least skirt the edges of illegality."
Ensign Siler put a hand on her shoulder. "Just don't hurt anybody."
The meeting was broken up and everyone made their way back to their respective positions. Gaiai, however, did not walk back to homeplate so much as sashay, her hips swinging like a bell in full motion. The public address system, to taunt Biernat for her recently-surrendered base-on-balls (her first of the game), was playing the 20th century rock 'n roll classic, "Wild Thing" by the Troggs, and the green-skinned catcher began to move her body to this beat. Ten feet from homeplate she tossed her glove at the next batter, Mr. B, who caught it, bobbled it, and then secured it tightly to his chest by dropping his bat. She smiled with a mixture of sympathy and lasciviousness as her hands slowly, languorously, traveled upward from the middle of her waist and disappeared behind her neck; her head kicked back, and, as her baseball cap flew off, a profusion of orangish-green hair spilled forth. She bent her body backward and then rolled forward again, eagerness flashing in her eyes. The crowd, suddenly quieted, followed these motions as if they were dazed ship-board passengers swaying to the motions of the sea. Her rhythm led her in an ever-shrinking, teasing circle around the batter, until she dropped to her knees, and, with her hands suggesting a whisper of a touch, slowly rose up the length of his body, past his moustache drenched in sweat, and placed her lips ticklingly close to the reddening, fleshy lobe of his ear. "You ready?" she whispered.
Mr. B struck out on three pitches.
Ensign Ciam, as if waking from a trance, objected from the dugout. "Hey! What's that? You can't do that!"
Gaiai tossed the ball back to Biernat and raised her hands innocently in the air. "Captain, I'm just doing what comes naturally to me. Do you deny the Vulcans their logic? The Ridlians their laughter? So how could you deny from me what I do best?"
The Captain exhaled slowly. "I'm sorry," he said, "but the rules of inter-gender baseball, circa 2021, specifically state that flirting in order to gain strategic advantage is strictly prohibited."
"But Captain," she pouted. "You're interfering with who I am. What about the Prime Directive?"
"The Prime Directive is all well and fine," the Captain stated firmly, "but this is baseball." He fit his umpire's mask snugly over his face and pointed at his first officer. "Mr. B, you're out. Gaiai, no more sexual shenanigans. Everyone else: play ball!"
Allman Karen, perhaps equally distracted by Gaiai's dance routine, popped out to short; but with two outs Young Kim lifted a short fly ball that fell in-between Simon Tarses and Don Mann, and with Singer and Ciam running with the pitch, both managed to score. Kim stood proudly on second, representing the tying run. The fans stomped up and down in their seats, hooting and hollering, and clapping their hands in rhythm; Jason Lamb was almost lost in a blizzard of paper.
Another conference was held on the mound; Rodgers stared sternly from the on-deck circle, taking practice swings.
"That Orion animal woman shit ain't gonna work on me!" he shouted.
"Yes," Ensign Siler responded, "I hear you prefer targs."
With Barry Busick on-deck, Mr. Siler determined it would not make sense to pitch around Rodgers, and, after asking for advice, tossed the ball into Brenda Biernat's glove. "High heat," he said.
The first two pitches were indeed high and fast, and Rodgers grew increasingly frustrated trying to keep up. With a quick 0-2 count, Biernat wasted two pitches before coming back with another high, hard one that Rodgers managed to lay off of. Now the count was full. The crowd was on its feet. The infielders were on their toes. Rodgers rocked back and forth in the batter's box as Biernat nodded, wound up, and delivered. Another fastball. Right down the heart of the plate. Rodgers swung and there was a loud crack and the ball soared in a high arc toward dead-center field. Jason Lamb raced back. At the warning track he leaped...and the entire stadium suddenly rocked sideways, sending fans and players alike sprawling. For a moment the stadium flickered, revealing the exo-skeleton design of the holodeck. Several virtual fans in the first row of the upper-deck bleachers fell over the railing.
"What happened?" Ciam shouted.
"Get our crewmembers out of the stands!" Captain Harrison instructed Lt. Mann, who corralled Saunders and Abelsaan to help him. Captain Harrison then contacted the bridge.
Lt. Langley's voice filled the stadium like an old-time P.A. announcer. "We appear to have run into something, Captain. Or something has run into us."
"There is damage to the forward hull as if we just collided with a large object; yet sensors do not reveal anything in our immediate vicinity."
"I'll be right there. Go to yellow alert. Harrison out." The Captain waved his arms to gather his crew together. "It would appear that our game has been...postponed."
"That ball was gone!" Jeff Rodgers shouted. "So we win."
"I don't think this is the--" Captain Harrison began.
He was silenced by Jason Lamb, who raised his glove, revealing a small white ball tucked firmly in the webbing.
The Kansas City Monarchs cheered and patted their center fielder on the back, while, above this sound, louder even than the noise of the holographic fans fleeing for safety, Klingon curses rang through the stadium.
My "Star Trek" Novel - A Routine Science Expedition
Read the intro here, or, you know, below.
First Officer Michael Busick of the re-fit Excelsior-class U.S.S. Brock didn't believe in routine science expeditions, because, invariably, there wasn't anything routine about them. He could cite thousands of examples from Star Fleet records about disasters that resulted when starships were sent to study this or that space anomaly or map such and such a star cluster.
"It's a fact," he informed his newly-appointed captain. "38.9% of starships sent out on routine science expeditions never complete their designated assignments. It's like the red-shirt phenomenon a century back. Remember? When beaming down to an unknown planet, a red-shirted security guard was 99.4% more likely to be killed than his captain or first officer. It got to the point where, in at least one known incident, the security guards demanded the yellow shirts of command or the blue shirts of science before beaming down. Apparently they thought the problem might lie with the color of their attire: red attracting trouble, as it were; inviting blood and death. But even in blue and yellow, these men bought it. Similarly, in this century, starships seem to have a difficult time completing routine science expeditions. Heading out on one seems to invite disaster. Calling it 'routine' seems to anger the space gods, who decide to make the expedition as far from routine as possible."
Captain Tim Harrison raised an eyebrow as expertly as a Vulcan. "Space gods, Mr. B? Don't tell me that after all these years you still believe in space gods?"
"My term for...karma. Mojo. Kridloh in Klingon."
"Besides, don't you think you're being a bit pessimistic?"
"What do you mean?"
"If 38.9% of starships never complete their designated assignments then 61.1% do."
Mr. B smiled. He was of average height and build, with a tendency towards rotundity, but his most obvious physical attribute was his head, which was almost perfectly round, and bigger by a half than the standard. His thin, reddish hair was clipped long in back with bangs in front, and he was the only officer aboard ship to sport a moustache, also reddish, which hid all aspects of his mouth except for a puffy, wet underlip. Only two weeks aboard the Brock he was already famous for his slow, leisurely pace. This was especially noticeable next to the usual go-getters and career-crashers of Star Fleet, and it occasionally got him into trouble. During Academy days one of his gym instructors was so fed up with Busick's--quote--lackadaisical attitude--unquote--that he blew up at him. "Busick!" he shouted. "You move so slowly you make me feel like a goddamned Scalosian!" Mr. B, rarely at a loss for a quip of his own, replied good-naturedly, "I wondered what all that buzzing was around here" and then gestured as if shooing away flies. He failed the class, of course, but managed to graduate from the Academy anyway; his wit had seen him through. It was this wit that he now turned on his captain.
"By such optimistic accounting even my record with women would look good." He bounced on his toes, hands behind his back.
Captain Harrison folded his hands across his stomach and said matter-of-factly, "Your record with women does look good, Mr. B. How's that woman of yours. Miss her?"
"Oh, nothing that a few trips to the holodeck couldn't cure," Mr. B replied in the same jocular tone.
Captain Harrison smiled and stared out his window at the familiar stars of Sector 001. He liked his first officer, but at times it was difficult getting past the jokester. Yet it was this very jocularity that Harrison desired in his Number One. In ranking first officers, other captains tended to prize Vulcans for their unimpeachable logic, Klingons for their strength, Betazoids for their empathic abilities, and Trills for their wisdom; but nothing was ever said about the tactical advantage a sense of humor might bring. Captain Harrison felt it just might throw off and confuse combatants in the middle of negotiations, and he was willing to test his theories with Mr. B.
He slapped his hands on the desk of his ready room and stood up. "Anyway. I'll be sure to include your objections in my report, but I don't think it will mean much to the biguns at Star Fleet. The fact that we might run into something more interesting than a star cluster is why we're out here, after all." He smiled again and patted his first officer on the shoulder. "If you're not careful, my friend, pretty soon they'll be calling you Mr. C."
"Could be worse. Coward. Cardassian."
Captain Harrison smiled and moved from his ready room and, acquiring a stiffer gate, onto the bridge of the U.S.S. Brock.
"Ensign Ciam, we have our first assignment. Are all hands on deck?"
"Then take this ship to coordinates 3701 at Warp 5 on my mark."
Puzzled, the helmsman turned in his chair. "That would put us awfully close to the neutral zone, Captain."
"Thank you for the geography lesson, Ensign." Then, less harshly: "Even star clusters near the neutral zone need to be mapped. Are you ready?"
Ensign Ciam punched in the proper numbers. "Coordinates 3701 at Warp 5 on your mark, sir."
It was the moment that every youngster dreams of, every freshman at the Academy hopes for, every low-grade officer plays over and over in his mind: the moment when you take your first starship out on its first mission. The Brock, admittedly, was not every plebe's dream. Seventy-odd years ago it was the fastest ship in the fleet, but since then it had been surpassed by the many Ambassador-class and Galaxy-class starships that Star Fleet had seen fit to turn out. In fact when Mr. B had first seen the ship, two weeks earlier, he half-joked, "I just hope we don't run into any Pakleds." But Captain Harrison quieted him. The Brock had just been overhauled and re-fitted with a new, state-of-the-art warp drive engine which made it, in theory anyway, the fastest starship in the Federation. It just didn't have the power of Galaxy class starships. Besides, it was his ship. For the first time he was to command a starship with 572 crewmembers. Thus it was with a submerged but electric thrill that Captain Harrison walked with hands behind his back around the bridge, sat in his command chair, crossed his legs, and prepared to give the signal that would send over 12,000 tons of metal and machinery zipping through space at faster than light speed. He watched with raised pointed finger as, on the viewscreen, the Brock inched past Pluto, and then Pluto's moon, Charon. This was the moment. He brought his finger down.
Once again Ensign Ciam turned his puzzled face to the captain. "Sir?"
Harrison shook his head. "Sorry. Too many years leading away missions. I meant 'Engage'." He brought his finger down authoritatively. "Engage!"
The stars on the viewscreen, pinpoints of light, suddenly elongated into straight lines, and with no more than a mild lurch the Brock had left the earth far, far behind.
Coming up: holodeck baseball, Romulans, the Borg, and Planet Scott!
My "Star Trek" Novel - Intro
Mine isn’t about Kirk and Spock, or Picard and Data, or any of the other characters from the Gene Roddenbury universe that, as it expanded (into other shows), contracted (my interest). No, I wrote about a friend, Tim, a huge “Star Trek” fan (his interest never contracted), and it resulted from hubris. In the mid-1990s, at one of his birthday parties, someone gave him a homemade, five-page “Star Trek” short story as a present. My thought: “I can do better.”
Three years, over 100 pages, and a dog-eared “Star Trek” encyclopedia later, the present, expanded to include Mike, or Mr. B, who would play first officer to Tim’s Captain, was finally delivered.
I think I had the main plot in mind from the start. In fact—more hubris—I still think my plot should’ve been the plot of the first “Star Trek—Next Generation” movie: a Borg attack on the Romulus empire and the inevitable Federation response. Not only would it have been epic in scope but would’ve allowed an appearance by Leonard Nimoy’s Mr. Spock, last seen on Romulus, and thus incorporated, in a natural way, both “Next Gen” and “Original Series” characters. I doubt I had a resolution to this plot—a way to defeat the ever-adaptive Borg—but, reading over it now, I like the solution I came up with. It’s both humorous—particularly if you know Mr. B—and, to borrow a loaded word, logical.
The parallel, character-driven plot about the U.S.S. Brock being filled with the fuck-ups of the Federation is strictly autobiographical. At the time we were all working at University Book Store in Seattle, and the book became, in essence, less “'Wagon Train' to the stars” (Roddenbury’s original conception) than “bookstore to the stars.” It was us, fuck-ups all, trying to make do with what we had. It was my complaint at the time. Other employees became characters, some memorably (hello Brett, Jeff and Mark). Others are no longer with us. (See "My Address Book" here.)
This week, as a lead-in to the new J.J. Abrams-led “Star Trek” movie, or reboot, I’ll include excerpts from the novel. It’s me at my most “Star Trek”-y. Please be kind.
I'm pretty bad at this. I often think, "I should link that," but never get around to it. But here's a few articles/posts over the last few days from the usual suspects that are worth reading —or, in one instance, not:
- David Carr returns to form with his post-Oscar analysis, particularly this necessary reminder: "Despite all the planning and guile of production executives, directors, producers and marketing executives, movie magic is still something that occurs in the space between the audience and the screen at the front of the room."
- Andrew Sullivan stays in form while live-blogging Pres. Obama's speech.
- I missed some of the speech — I was in French class — but heard bits of it on the radio and TV afterwards and may watch the whole thing when I get the chance. In the meantime, I love the way he finds the greater truth between two intractable extremes: "Living our values doesn’t make us weaker, it makes us safer and it makes us stronger. And that is why I can stand here tonight and say without exception or equivocation that the United States of America does not torture."
- I read Oliver Willis a lot during the campaign, but he's floundered a bit since, and he's got some pretty ugly ads on his site now. Can't blame him much for that — we live in tough times. But he either needs to stay out of the movie business or dig deeper as to why he feels what he feels. Particularly if he feels, as he says he feels, that "Casablanca" is overrated. To me, he's just showing his youth.
- Researching an article at work, we came across this site about William Henry Harrison, our 9th president, and the etymology of the word "booze," which is a lot of fun.
- Leonard Cohen returns.
Last minute addition:
- Forgot Tim Arango's great piece on the killing of a newspaper editor in Oakland and how, in an age of cutbacks, a team of investigative journalists was formed to do what the police hadn't done. Someone call "The Wire" guys.
Twitter: @ErikLundegaardTweets by @ErikLundegaard