erik lundegaard


Wednesday May 06, 2009

My "Star Trek" Novel Holodeck Baseball

Intro here. First section here.

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?"
   "Yes, Doctor."
   "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.
   "Report, Lieutenant."
   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. 

Posted at 08:40 AM on Wednesday May 06, 2009 in category General