Monday, December 07, 2009
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I came to the Mission: Impossible series for the Nimoy but stayed for the Peter Graves. If you can get past the stilted delivery, you can see the cool that was Jim Phelps. What they shoulda done was never let Peter Graves open his mouth, just let him walk around and smoke cigarettes, drink Scotch, run his fingers through that bright, gorgeous hair and just be hot. He was all long legs and broad shoulders and 6'3"of athletic grace. The kind of man you like seeing coming through the door at the end of the day. I would be barefoot and pregnant for Peter Graves and I would like it, dammit.
Anyway. Just pretend that this is yet another unfinished Star Trek story and like it, dammit.
Disclaimer: Paramount owns the characters.
Archiving: Ask permission, please.
Summary: Jim Phelps and Dana Lambert are adrift in a drug runner’s boat.
Phelps slowly regained consciousness. His last memory was of Dana yelling his name then the sound of gunfire. He kept his eyes closed and his breath even.
He could smell the hot salt of the ocean and the scent that rose from his own body. The hollow boom of waves breaking against the hull sounded in his ears. He heard the irregular rhythm of metal against metal, clanking out of time with the rocking of the boat. He listened for his captors. He heard ticks and pings and knocks--the sounds of abandonment.
He squeezed his eyes shut then opened them wide, trying to think around the pounding in his head. He lay on a hard, narrow bunk. His mouth was sour and he reopened a cut in the corner of his mouth when he licked his lips. He winced and rolled his shoulders. His wrists were bound in metal cuffs above his head and the skin on the inside of his forearms itched and crackled with dried blood. He was desperately thirsty.
There was a warm weight pressed against his body. He craned his neck and looked down. Dana stretched out cruciform on top of him, her wrists tied to a rope looped beneath the bed. Her tangled hair obscured her face but he could see that she was also gagged with a dirty kerchief. He felt her heart beat against his ribs. He closed his eyes briefly in relief.
“You’re awake,” he said softly.
She nodded against his chest.
“Can you move?”
She lifted her head and looked up at him. Her eyes were wide but not frightened. She nodded again.
“Slide up. Let’s see if I can remove the gag.”
She scooted up his body but couldn’t reach his fingers.
“Ok,” he said. “Come down here.”
She bent her head to his and he gripped the gag with his teeth. He dragged the gag from her mouth. She rested her forehead against his, gasping for air.
“Oh, god,” she said. She pulled back and looked at him. “That kerchief was disgusting. I saw Segovia use it wipe the sweat from behind his ears.”
Jim grinned. “Then I won’t tell you what I saw him using it for,” he said.
“Jim—.” She swallowed convulsively.
“Just kidding,” he said quickly.
She blinked in surprise. “You’re making jokes?” she said.
“How long was I out?” he asked.
“You’ve been in and out for about fifteen hours,” she said.
“No. You didn't tell them anything and they had no intention of interrogating either of us. They executed Solinski, tied me to your bunk and locked us in. They were…” She paused. “They were coming back for me about an hour later, when something happened. There was a lot of yelling and gunfire and then nothing. There was someone moaning on the other side of the door, but that stopped after a couple of hours.”
“They shot each other up,” said Phelps. “Arguing about the money.”
“I think so,” she said. She didn’t have to tell him that they were also fighting about who would get the first turn with her.
He looked up at his hands. He was cuffed to a ring bolted into the wall. His right hand was bluish and puffy. He tugged on the cuffs, watching the bolts. They were securely welded to the bulkhead.
“Shit,” he muttered.
Dana raised both brows. Jim Phelps never cussed.
Jim looked at her face. “What?” he asked.
“It might be easier to try to loosen these ropes," she said. "I’ve been working on it for the last few hours.” She pointed at his right hand with her chin. “Besides, you’re going to lose that if you keep pulling on those cuffs.”
“Right. Maybe we could—.” He started shifting around beneath her.
“The best way to help me is for you to be still.”
“Oh. Ok,” he said. He glanced around the room. “When you get free, we can use the bolt cutters those geniuses left by the door.”
“They didn’t think we’d have an opportunity to use them,” Dana said quietly.
They gazed at each other for a long moment.
In their line of work, every job was essentially a suicide mission. When Jim and Dana missed the rendezvous point, their team would simply leave without them. There would be no rescue attempt, no official search. The Secretary would disavow any knowledge of their actions. Phelps occasionally went after his people, calling it a “back-up plan” when he debriefed the Secretary; but this time, they were on their own. Paris was gone. No one knew where. Barney and Willie were not in the need-to-know for this gig.
There was no back-up plan. No one was coming for them.
“Well, get started, Miss. Lambert,” said Jim.
She’d been tied across his body with her arms hugging the bunk. She twisted her wrists this way and that, trying to coax the rope into giving more. Jim watched her as she worked at the ropes. Grease smudged her forehead and her hair fell in sweaty strings around her face. There was a spray of freckles across her nose. She rested her chin on his chest.
Dana was a beautiful woman--one of the many reasons Phelps chose her for his team. A beautiful woman made for an excellent decoy, a trick he learned from the Russians. The KGB was not squeamish about using sex and drugs to get what they needed—techniques frowned upon at the time by the provincial United States government. The mincing J. Edgar Hoover found those techniques particularly distasteful and beneath his army of well-groomed, cookie-cutter pretty boys. When the Secretary asked Hoover to put his best man on a special assignment, Hoover selected Phelps, the prettiest of them all. Phelps executed his mission so well that the Secretary decided to keep him. Hoover was livid. He threatened all manner of dirty business in an effort to get Phelps back--until the Oval Office stepped in. The Attorney General had pushed back his thick hair with two fingers and grinned with his big white teeth as he personally delivered the transfer memo. “I’m sure you understand, Mr. Hoovah,” he said, in his New England drawl. “Phelps will be our man in Havana. The Secretary will be happy to answer any questions you might have about the new unit.” He paused, watching a girl from the typing pool pass by Hoover’s office door. “That is, if you care to ask him.”
Phelps never made it to Havana, but he spent a lot of time in Moscow pretending to be distracted by the beautiful women that the KGB threw at him, relieved to be away from Hoover’s avid stare. Napoleon Solo sent him a bottle of Dom with a note attached that read, “You owe me”.
Jim’s eyes lingered on Dana’s mouth then drifted down the strong column of her neck to the gap in her dirty coveralls. He could see the muscles that corded across her chest as she worked at the ropes. She’d been a ballerina and was still lean and strong.
“I don’t want to think about what might be under this bunk,” she said.
Jim’s eyes snapped back to her face. “I beg your pardon?” he said.
“My fingers keep brushing against something damp and…fuzzy. Judging from the smell in here, it could be any number of things.”
“I can’t smell anything but you,” said Jim.
“You aren’t exactly smelling like a rose either, sir,” she said.
“I didn’t say you smelled bad, Dana.”
“No. You smell terrible.”
She stared at him in disbelief. “I can’t believe you said that—wait. What just happened here?” She held up her left hand, freed from the rope. She laughed. “I was so busy trying to get my right hand free that I didn’t realize that they simply wound the rope around my left wrist.” She propped herself on his chest and examined the knotted rope on her right wrist. “See. Look at this. Chatalan was Peruvian. If I’m not mistaken this is a—.”
“Dana,” interrupted Phelps. “You don’t weigh very much, and I could actually be quite comfortable lying here for several more hours with you on top of me.”
“I can’t feel my hand,” he said.
“Oh! I’m so sorry. I’ll get the bolt cutters.” She got the bolt cutters and cut him free.
He stood, slowly lowered his shoulders and twisted the kinks from his lower back. Dana took his hand and messaged it.
“I think it’ll be ok,” she said. “It’s already warming up. We’ve got to clean those wounds on your wrists, though.”
“That can wait,” said Phelps, gently removing his hand from hers. “We need to make sure the boat’s abandoned and then figure out where we are.”
Phelps went to the door and was unsurprised to find it unlocked. Their captors had planned to kill them quickly. No reason to lock the door. He opened it and peered into the warm gloom of the corridor. There was a body sprawled over the raised threshold of the next hatch. His eyes on the body, Phelps silently counted off two minutes then stepped into the corridor. Dana followed, sidestepping behind him, guarding their back.
Phelps looked down at the man.
They could see the lividity pooling on the backs of his slightly bloated arms and flies crawled across his open eyes. A faint odor like rotten eggs and decaying fruit tainted the air.
“He’s dead,” Jim said.
“Yeah, I’d say so,” said Dana. She nudged the dead man with her toe. “Segovia. The last man standing. He gagged me after I spit in his face.”
Phelps stepped over Segovia and continued down the corridor. They searched the rooms on that deck and then made their way down to engineering. The engineer draped across a rail, his throat cut. Phelps quickly inspected the engine.
“A new engine on an old boat,” he said. “Good for drug runners.”
“Good for us,” said Dana. “And look. The diesel stores are a little more than half full. About twenty-five hundred miles in good weather. Assuming they were full when we left port, we can turn back and get reasonably close to the coast. We can’t have drifted too far in fifteen hours.”
“Let’s clear all the decks first,” said Phelps.
They searched the boat, checking crew quarters, closets, nooks and any other possible hiding place. They found only live rats and dead men. They used engine grease to record the fingerprints of the dead then rolled the bodies overboard.
Dana carefully sealed the print cards in a plastic pouch. “Solinski, Segovia, Chatalan, Paolo and Cartagena. May god have mercy on their souls,” she said.
Jim’s eyes were indifferent as he watched sharks quickly disembowel Segovia.
Phelps sent Dana down to check the engine while he took stock of their food and water stores. The galley was full of canned bacon and hams, rice, black beans, mixed vegetables, orange juice, beer and powdered milk. There was also a forty pound sack of coffee beans and a large, shiny espresso machine. He had to hand it to Solinski. He had his priorities straight. Jim found bleach and a bucket and set to cleaning up the blood. After only a little over twelve hours, the boat began to smell like an abattoir. Luckily, most of the shoot out occurred on the top deck. The blood came up in long, clotted sheets that Phelps shoveled over the side. He was scrubbing the head between the captain’s and first mate’s quarters when Dana came up from the engine room. She blinked in the chlorine fumes. She held a broken fuel pump in her hands.
“A shiny new Rolls Royce engine and a smashed fuel pump,” she said. “All dressed up and no place to go.”
“Can you fix it?”
“I’ll see what I can do. There is machinist’s equipment down there, but they also pulled the electrical systems in the generators. I’ll have to do it by hand. And the back-up batteries for the radio and radar are missing. Why didn’t they just sink the boat?”
“Segovia was paranoid and delusional. Who knows what he was thinking?” said Jim.
“We’re dead in the water.”
“Maybe not. The engine is new but the boat is old. If I find what I’m hoping to find in the life boat, there might be some life in us yet.”
“What are you talking about, Jim?”
“Stick with me, kid,” he said.
She trotted after him as he strode down the corridor. He’d peeled down his coveralls and tied the sleeves low around his waist. His torso shined with sweat and was streaked with greasy dirt. She watched the muscles of his lower back flex as he climbed the stairs to the top deck. She could see the farm boy in the breadth of his shoulders and in his hard triceps. The breeze tossed his hair across his forehead when he turned to wait for her to catch up, his long lashes shading his blue eyes as he looked down at her. Jim Phelps was a one-man coup d’état, an angel-faced assassin; but in spite of his old-world manners and his cold-eyed skill with a long-range rifle, Dana thought that there was an endearing boyishness about him. Even as she knew him for what he really was, she felt a tug in her heart when he ran a hand through his hair.
She understood Hoover’s obsession.
“You need a haircut,” she said.
He frowned then grinned and looked away. He turned and reached down into a life boat that hung off the gunwale. “These old life boats were sometimes equipped with hand-cranked radios from the war. They only had about a fifty mile range but maybe we--.”
“Could use it to power the ship’s radio,” she finished for him.
“Yeah,” he chuckled.
“Stick with me, kid,” she said and winked.
“As long as I can stay upwind.”
“Hey! What is it with you? At least I don’t smell like a dead cow.”
“Because I’m a girl, I’m supposed--? That engine room’s about a hundred and ten degrees.”
Jim struggled to keep a straight face.
“Oh, ha ha,” she said. “I don’t know, Jim. That knock on your head…”
“Let’s see if we can power up the radio,” he said.
In the small bridge copula, Jim lay on his back beneath the radio console while Dana dismantled the crank radio. A panel was removed from the casing, exposing the wiring. Jim held a small flashlight between his teeth as he examined the circuit boards.
“Get out,” said Jim.
Dan turned to him with a screwdriver in her hand. “What?”
“Move, Dana! Now,” he shouted. He rolled to his feet and launched himself at her, propelling them both out the door. They tumbled onto the deck. Jim hurled her into the life boat with one push to the small of her back then leapt in after, covering his head with his arms and curling his body around hers.
The blast wasn’t as big as he expected but glass from the copula rained down on his bare back. After several minutes, he pushed up and looked over the gunwale at the ruined bridge. The windows were blown out and the door hung off its hinges. Smoke rose from the radio console.
“Damn,” he said.
“Is it bad?” asked Dana.
He looked down at her. “Bad enough,” he said. He climbed out of the boat. He picked up a gaff from the deck and walked toward the copula.
“Oh my god, Jim,” Dana cried.
Phelps spun with the gaff raised, looking around wildly. “What? What is it?”
“Your back is bleeding.” She struggled out of the life boat and turned him with a hand on his shoulder. “Jesus,” she said, gently probing with her fingertips.
Jim shrugged. “Just a little glass. We’ll get it later.”
“We’ll get it now.”
“Mr. Phelps,” she said, frowning severely.
“Can I at least make sure nothing else is going to blow up in there?”
“If it was going to blow, it would have. I’ll go find some first aid. Don’t you do anything else.”
“Yes, doctor,” he said, but when she came up from below, he was sweeping up broken glass and debris, a bent cigarette clamped between his lips. Runnels of blood striped his back.
“Jim,” she sighed.
“It doesn’t hurt.”
“That’s not a good sign. Sit down and let me take a look.”
He sat on a crate and presented his back to her. His skin was stippled with pieces of glass.
“I can’t see a thing under all this dirt,” she said. “Come on. Let’s go shower.”
“Um, I think I can--,” he started.
“You’re not turning old lady on me?”
“No.” He cleared his throat. “No,” he said again.
“Ok, then.” She turned and walked to the stairs that led below. When she noticed that he wasn’t following, she stopped. “Contrary to legend, Jim, you don’t have eyes in the back of your head. You can’t get that glass out by yourself. This is the easiest way to do it.”
“Yeah. Yes, I know. I’m coming.” He walked over to her.
“It’s not like I haven’t seen a naked man before.”
“I know. I mean, I know,” he said, looking away. “We’re on the job. Think of it that way.”
“Me, too. Let’s go.” He didn’t move.
“After you,” she said.
“Right,” he said.
When they got to the captain’s quarters, he stopped. “The head between the captain’s and first mate’s cabin was relatively clean,” he said. “I scrubbed it down. I hope you don’t mind sharing. Sharing the bathroom, not the quarters, I mean.”
“I don’t mind,” she said. “I’ll take the captain’s cabin.”
“Oh, I wanted—fine. I’ll take the mate’s.”
She brushed by him and peered into the bathroom. “Wow. You really did clean it.” She reached into the shower and turned on the spigot. Water sprayed forcefully from a fixture in the ceiling. She tested the water with her fingers. “It’s only a little salty and it’s pretty warm. Must be from that tank on the deck.” She turned to him with her hands on her hips.
“Right,” Jim said. “Distilled seawater. These old long-haul ships…”. He trailed off.
Dana rolled her eyes. “How about this. I’ll go first,” she said. She began unfastening her coverall. When she pushed it off her shoulders, Phelps turned his back.
She grinned and stepped into the shower. For some reason, there was only brown surgical wash for both soap and shampoo. She lathered up quickly and scrubbed her scalp and skin with her fingernails. “Jim, you’re going to have to get in here with me sooner or later.”
“No, ok, right. Let me know when you’re uh, ready.”
“I’m ready now,” she said.
“Right,” said Phelps with his back to her. He slowly untied the sleeves from around his waist. He turned his body to the side, hooked his thumbs in the waistband and pushed the coverall down his hips. He stepped out of them. “I didn’t realize those were so dirty.”
“Jim, get in the goddamn shower.”
He stepped in and faced her. He concentrated on keeping his eyes on her forehead. He pressed his lips together and nodded once.
“You get the front, I’ll get the back,” she said.
“Oh. Of course,” he stammered, turning quickly. Dirt and blood ran from his hair. He poured some soap into his palm and handed the bottle to her.
“Don’t move,” she said. “Most of the glass is just rinsing off and the pieces are small enough to wash down the drain, but I don’t want us to cut our feet.”
“This might sting a little.”
“It doesn’t hurt. I told you before.”
She squirted soap on his back.
“Ahh!” he yelled, squeezing his shoulder blades together.
“I told you not to move.”
“Son of a bitch.”
“I warned you,” she said. “It’ll stop stinging in a minute.”
“No it won’t,” he said.
“Tough guy,” she grinned. She pulled three fairly large pieces of glass out of his back but they hadn’t gone in deep and didn’t bleed much even with the water running on them. She massaged her fingers through his thick hair, loosening the dirt and smoothing out the tangles. Phelps sighed and his shoulders relaxed. He stood with his head down as she gently rubbed the brown foam into his cuts. She watched her hands circle his smooth skin and thought about how well his finely-tailored suits hid his powerful body. She had glanced down at his penis as he stepped into the shower. His pubic hair was thick and straight and dark blond.
“It’s not fair,” she murmured.
“Hmm?” breathed Jim. Her hands felt good on his body.
“Men are born with all the things that women covet.”
“Beautiful skin, long eyelashes. Have you noticed that?”
“I don’t spend a lot of time looking at men that way.”
She used her thumbnail to dislodge a clot of blood on his side. He gasped and jerked away.
“Did that hurt?” she asked.
She scratched at his skin again. He flinched.
“Did that—Jim, are you ticklish?”
“No,” he snapped.
“The great Jim Phelps is ticklish. Did Hoover know?”
Phelps shuddered. “That’s not funny.”
“He never got over losing you, you know.”
“Are we done here?”
“Um.” She inspected his back. “Yes. A couple of these need bandages.”
“Fine,” said Phelps. He turned and pushed her out of the shower stall.
When Jim emerged from his shower, he peeked into the captain’s cabin. Dana was cutting down the legs on a pair of denim pants. She wore a man’s white strap undershirt and nothing else. A soft breath of pubic hair peeked from beneath the hem of the shirt as she bent over the bed. Phelps felt a stirring in his genitals.
“There’s a crate full of these,” Dana said over her shoulder.
Phelps jerked back. He crossed into the mate’s cabin with his hands cupped over his sex, even though she couldn’t see him. There was a pair of denim pants and an undershirt on the bunk.
“I put a pair on your bunk,” Dana yelled from the captain’s cabin. “I’m pretty sure that I picked a pair that fits, now that I don’t have to guess at your size.”
Phelps pulled on the pants. The legs were a bit short and the waist a bit wide, but the inseam was right. He frowned and felt his face grow hot. His cock thickened again.
“Let me bandage those cuts before you put on a shirt.”
Phelps jumped. “You could give a guy a little warning,” he said, a little too loudly.
“Sorry,” she said, blinking up at him. She held a box of bandages in her hands. A curl of damp hair was stuck to her cheek.
Jim blew air out his pursed lips. “Look, I’m tired and I’m hungry and we still have a lot to do,” he said.
He noticed for the first time the dark circles under her eyes. She’d been through as much as he in the last two days. He reached out and tucked the curl of hair behind her ear.
“Are you hungry?” he asked.
“Yes,” she said.
“Let’s finish securing the boat then I’ll make dinner. Sound okay?”
“Let’s get to it,” he said.
“Wait,” she said. She motioned with the box of bandages. “Your back.”
He stood patiently while she taped gauze on the worst of the cuts on his back and around his wrists.
“There you go,” she said.
“Thanks, Dana,” he said. “That actually does feel better.”
They searched the boat again, this time looking for booby traps. They found no traps but they did find an automatic rifle with a full clip and three WWII-era hand grenades.
Jim pointed to the ruined copula. “Good thing the wheel is on the deck. At least we’ll be able to steer if we manage to get the boat going.”
Dana gazed out at the horizon. The sunset was sudden and bloody. The breeze cooled and she shivered even though she wasn’t chilled.
“Maybe someone was coming back,” she said. She turned to Jim. “That’s why the sabotage. They didn’t sink the boat but hobbled it.”
“I thought about that,” said Jim. “We already dropped the drugs. No one’s waiting for Solinski. Segovia and the rest of them? Not the kind of men with a lot of friends and family. Everyone was supposed to take their cut and run--. What is it?” he asked. She was watching him with a small smile.
“That “explaining things” thing,” she said.
“I’m sorry. Barney told me once that even my casual phone calls sound like debriefings.”
“It’s ok. It’s…you.”
“We’ll fix the engine, Dana. I’ll get us out of here.”
She nodded. “I know,” she said.
The end of the daylight was a shimmering red line on the black edge of the ocean when Jim came up from the galley with their dinner. He cooked rice and black beans seasoned with chunks of ham and chilies, with a side of canned peaches. They had both showered again—this time, separately. The breeze was light and cool and the boat rose and fell gently with the rolling waves. Jim was fairly sure that no one was returning to salvage the ship but he didn’t want to take any chances. They ate without light, at a small table he set on the deck. Jim’s hair was bright, even in the dark.
Dana chuckled. Jim looked at her curiously, chewing his food.
“Your hair,” she said. “They could probably see it from space.”
He ducked his head. “How’s your dinner?” he asked.
“It’s good. Where’d you learn to cook?” she asked casually.
Jim didn’t answer immediately, chewing, swallowing and pushing his food around with his fork. Jim rarely talked about himself. Dana waited, holding her breath, hoping she hadn’t spooked him.
He shrugged with a tilt of his head. “There was some guy who was supposed to be a genius doing his post doc at MIT,” he said, finally.
“Barney,” she said.
“Yes, Barney. Hoover was very interested in his work. So were the Russians,” he said. “I was assigned to babysit Barney while he finished his project.” Jim laughed. “Barney was fascinated with “spies”, as he called us. He made every Russian tail on him and used to lose them—and us—all the time, just for kicks. How does the only black man on a city express bus to MIT fade two teams? I never figured it out and he never told me. Anyway. Thanksgiving rolled around and he went home to visit his family. He took pity on me sitting out in the cold in front of the house and invited me in. When I said no, his mother came out and threatened to have the entire family cram into the car and have Thanksgiving dinner there. There was nothing I could do. She even fed the KGB agents.”
“You’re kidding,” laughed Dana.
“I’m not kidding. I held a gun on them while she brought out a tray of turkey sandwiches and pie to their car. Anyway, it was easier to keep an eye on Barney by being his friend so I got to know his family, too. They had this huge kitchen and I could watch the front, side and back of the house from there. I was always under foot so his mother put me to work and taught me how to cook along the way. I went from peeling potatoes to cooking entire meals while she read a magazine with her feet up. “Good looks can only take you so far, James”, she would say. “Women love a man who is not useless in the kitchen”.”
“She’s right,” said Dana.
“It’s worked for me a little bit,” he said, looking away.
“That’s probably the understatement of the year.”
Jim cleared his throat and wiped his mouth with his napkin. “I’ll take the first watch,” he said.
“Dana, I don’t think--.”
She held up a hand. “I was just going to say, I’ll take the first watch. You’re exhausted and you’ve lost a lot of blood.”
He studied her face. “Ok,” he said.
“No argument?” she asked, surprised.
He stood and began to clear the table. “I’m tired,” he said. “Wake me in two hours.”
“Sure,” she said, fully intending to let him sleep for as long as she could get away with it. “Leave the dishes. I’ll get them.”
“Wash them, don’t leave them in the sink,” he said. “There are rats.”
He looked out at the ocean. The last of the light had drained from the West. There was no moon. “It’s dark,” he said.
“I’ll be ok, Jim. I’ll wake you at the first sign of anything.”
“Two hours,” he said.
“Sure thing.” She watched him walk to the hatch. He rolled his shoulders and yawned. She followed with their dinner dishes. She glanced in his cabin as she returned to the deck and he was stretched out on the bunk, ankles crossed and hands folded neatly on his chest.
End Chapter 1
Dana slowly patrolled the boat, staring out at the flat black water, the rifle slung over her shoulder. It was difficult to gage distance on the ocean without instruments and the stars gave little illumination, but she judged the visibility to be about a half mile—which was just about the margin of error for any civilian pinging them on radar. They would have some time to prepare to defend themselves should another boat approach. Dana checked the rifle’s load and the grenade clipped to her belt loop for the thousandth time. She felt sure that she would see or hear any craft that came upon them in the night. At any rate, it was dark and they were running silent. Plan A was to slip over the side into the lifeboat and paddle quietly away in the dark. If not, then her orders were throw the grenade first, ask questions later.
She picked up her pace as she rounded the stern. She peered into the dark. Dolphins fed on phosphorescent fish a hundred yards off the port side of the boat.
“At least I know there’s no submarine,” she whispered.
She climbed the sawed--off main mast to the tiny crow’s nest. A canvas sail still hung in a rotted furl beneath it. Her view—such as it was—was 360 degrees, six feet above the deck. The slight breeze alternated between cool and warm, damp and dry.
She thought about Paris and their brief but hotly sexual affair. He called her “Mouse” and teased her gently until she fell into bed with him. She would have loved him if he let her but she recalled him sitting naked in a chair, his lean body bathed in a spill of moonlight, lightly strumming his guitar, eyes gazing out the window. “Henri,” she’d called softly. “Shh,” he said, still staring out the window. Later that night he held her trembling body murmured in her ear a foreign language she didn’t understand. His cock was hard and hot inside her and she knew it was over. A year later, he refused a contract and that was the last anyone saw of him.
Dana heard a small sound below her. She quietly clicked off the rifle’s safety.
“I said two hours, Dana,” said Phelps. He looked up at her in the dark.
“He switched places with the bus driver,” said Dana.
“How does the only black man on a city express bus to MIT fade two teams?”
“I can’t believe I never thought of the driver.”
“Not the only black man on the bus.”
“Let that be a lesson to me.”
“Get some sleep, Dana,” said Phelps.
End Chapter 2
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Saturday, September 12, 2009
I attempted to have what I thought was a civil discussion. I tried to explain that the slightest whiff of plagiarism--even in fan fiction--could mean the death of professional credibility but the writer became extremely indignant, as if she were the victim. It definitely could be argued that the story was "protected" by common/fair use. It certainly wasn't very original. Everybody's got a shower scene story somewhere. I have a few.
I started to doubt whether I had any right to confront the other writer when my real concern was over her use of just one word. I put the question to one of my writing gurus, a published novelist and working journalist. Here's what he had to say:
"Everybody writes vampire stories. You could say that it is all derivative of Polidori's and Bram Stoker's original stories--so Anne Rice can't tell the woman who writes the "Twilight" series not to write about vampires. But if Anne Rice has one of her vampires using the word "Tweetybird", the woman who writes "Twilight" can't have one of her vampires using the word "Tweetybird". Just because they're both vampires doesn't mean that "Tweetybird" is a universal vampire endearment. If not outright plagiarism, it is certainly unauthorized use of creative content--not to mention, shady and unoriginal. It's for reasons like this that Anne Rice won't allow fan fiction of her work to be posted on public sites and hunts down anyone else who might post to a wide audience. It's that important. It'd be different if Bram Stoker had decided that "Tweetybird" was part of vampire lore, like garlic and wooden stakes. You're well within your rights to be outraged about someone using a quirk unique to your drawing of a common character."
As one of my readers put it: "...that one word screamed off the page like a red alert." And this: "..."d......." is your word. She can't have it!"
I love you guys.
Alas, after all that sound and fury, it seems that the offending story has been deleted--which is why those of you who were willing to comment, cannot do so now. Does that point to guilt? I don't know. I do know that if I thought I was right about something, you'd have to take me to court to get me to delete it.
Here is an excellent article regarding plagiarism and fan fiction that I think bears re-posting.
Sunday, September 06, 2009
Wednesday, September 02, 2009
This is for Sgt Tamar Bains, a US soldier. Thank you for your kind words and your brave heart.
Disclaimer: Paramount owns the characters. Creative content, plot and original characters belong to me.
I wrote this at 1am this morning! Please forgive the fubars.
“Ignoring me won’t make me go away, Jean Luc,” said Q.
“You won’t mind then if I keep trying,” said Picard. He dumped his unfinished meal into the recycler and brushed past Q on the way to his sleeping alcove. He was too exhausted to eat but too emotionally wired to sleep.
Unfortunately, he also continued to feel the effects of the sonic stimulation on his genitals, despite being blasted by the jet of water. The head of his cock was still tender and buzzed warmly with a feeling much like the after effects of a long, vigorous round of fucking.
Picard clenched his fists then splayed his fingers, inhaling and exhaling deeply through his mouth. He stretched his arms above his head. He dropped his arms and rolled his shoulders. He tried to force the thoughts of sex from his mind. He rarely masturbated, and he found holodeck liaisons even less satisfying. He usually expended his sexual energy on a good round of parisses squares.
But tonight, his arousal was particularly persistent.
He glanced behind him. Q had disappeared—but that didn’t mean that he was gone.
Jean Luc removed his pants, folded them neatly and placed them on a chair. Suddenly, he felt a little silly.
Get over yourself, Picard, he thought. It’s only a wank.
He took a tube of lubricant from the bedside table drawer, stretched out on the bed and finally let his body have its way. His scrotum tightened and his cock swelled. He squirted the lubricant unto his fingers and gripped his shaft. He began to pump slowly, watching his cock slide through his fist. He wanted to draw this out but realized with hot annoyance that it’d been too long and that perhaps the sonic stimulation had more effect on him than he thought and suddenly he could feel and taste and smell—Lily! He came with a long low moan and strong spasm that doubled him over.
He lay back on his bed and waited for his heart to stop pounding.
“Shit,” he said.
“Not a personal best, eh, Jean Luc?” said Q.
“No thanks to you,” sighed Picard, laying a forearm across his eyes.
“Just say the word and you can have the real thing.”
“Leave me alone,” said Picard. He stood and walked to his bathroom. He ran hot water over a flannel, staring for a long time at the cloudy water as it soaked into the cloth and ran over his fingers. Warm hands began to knead the muscles in his shoulders. Jean Luc closed his eyes.
“Don’t, Q,” he said.
“Not Q. Me,” whispered in his ear.
Soft breasts pressed against his back and Jean Luc almost gave into it. He opened his eyes and looked in the mirror. Lily gazed back at him from over his shoulder. He pushed her away gently with his elbow. He squeezed the water from the flannel and cleaned the semen from his belly and pubic hair.
“Well,” said Q in Lily’s voice. “That should’ve earned me a punch in the mouth.”
Picard tossed the flannel into the cycler. He walked over to the portal and gazed down at Earth. It was 0230 in France and they were passing over the twinkling lights of Paris.
“Space has a smell. Did you know that?” he said. “You can smell it in the airlock.”
“Your Klingon watchdog destroyed my sense of smell. You should order him to bathe more often.”
“Earth’s space has an odor like eggs. Hard fried in browned butter.”
“I wouldn’t know,” sniffed Q.
“Vulcan’s space smells like fresh rain.” Jean Luc turned from the portal. “Ironic, isn’t it?”
Q shrugged a small shoulder. He was still Lily, now dressed in the satin and sequined dress from the holodeck.
Picard glanced a last time down at Earth then ran a hand over his face. “Computer, sleep program, Picard 1,” he said. The sound of the ocean rose in the room—not the gentle rush of waves lapping the beach, but the boom and crash of the surf rhythmically pounding boulders at the base of a seaside cliff. The lights in the cabin dimmed and the temperature gradually lowered to 17c. Picard climbed into bed and lay on top of the coverlet. His truncated masturbation session had done little to relax him.
Q stood over him with his hands clamped to his ears. “How can you sleep with this din, Jean Luc,” he shouted. “What is that?”
“That’s Earth? I’ve never been to Earth. No one’s invited me,” said Q, petulantly.
Picard rolled away from him. “You’ve got the wrong color,” he said.
“What?” shouted Q.
“The dress is the wrong color.”
The sound of the waves stopped.
“You remember the color of her dress?” asked Q.
Picard sat up. “Computer, sleep program, Picard 1.” The program did not resume. He glared at Q. “I’m tired. Please go.”
“You’re not only tired,” Q said. He gestured at Picard’s semi-erect penis.
Picard snatched the coverlet over his mid-section and dropped back onto the pillows.
“What do you want, Q?”
“I want what you want, Mon Capitan.”
“I should hate you, you know.”
“I can’t imagine why,” said Q, genuinely confused.
“You brought the Borg to Federation space.”
“You mean to you, Jean Luc.”
“Not just me, countless others. Wolf 359--.”
“The Borg would have discovered your precious Federation sooner or later.”
“We’d have been prepared.”
“They would’ve assimilated you, quietly, quickly, one world at a time. I did you a favor.”
Picard opened his mouth to argue but he knew Q was right. The Borg relied heavily on the element of surprise, appearing suddenly in orbit from one of their singularities, having surreptitiously studied a world long enough to ascertain both strengths and weakness and laying down a plan of assimilation. When Q flung the Enterprise at that first Borg ship, it leveled the playing field--allowing the Federation to do almost as much damage to the Borg Collective as the Collective did to the Federation.
“And.” Q, himself again, held up a finger. “Were it not for me—or the Borg, rather--you never would’ve met Lily.” He stretched out a hand and admired his sparkling fingernails. He yawned hugely. “You’re boring me tonight, Jean Luc.” He wandered to the portal. “If there’s nothing else?”
“I didn’t ask you to come here,” snapped Picard.
“Whatever you say,” said Q. He looked down at Earth with glittering eyes.
“Don’t even think about it,” said Picard.
“I couldn’t care less about your miserable little ball of mud,” said Q, appearing beside the bed as a Deltan female. “There’s billions of infinitely more interesting balls with which to play,” he said, tweaking the head of Jean Luc’s penis with two long fingers. He leaned close and breathed pheromones into Picard’s face.
“God damn it, Q,” yelled Picard, but Q winked out with a chuckle and a tiny burst of light.
Jean Luc held his breath and fanned the air in front of his face but it was no use. He could feel the pheromones working on his nervous system. He was flooded with a sense of well-being even as he fought to hold on to his foul mood. Every muscle in his body warmed. Deltan pheromones affected every humanoid species differently and to a greater or lesser degree. For whatever reason, Jean Luc’s reaction was quite strong and long-lasting. His penis throbbed. The thought to trek to sickbay for an antidote faded into a faintly ridiculous idea.
“Oh,” he sighed. There was nothing to do but let the pheromones run their course. He laced his fingers behind his head in an effort to keep his hands away from his genitals.
Later that night, Jean Luc lay back against his damp pillows, cursing Q and marveling at himself, having nearly broken a particular record set when he was twenty-six. He awakened the next morning feeling slightly dehydrated and deeply embarrassed. There were dark circles under his eyes and he scrubbed down his body with soap and water in a cold shower. He ordered sausages and black Turkish coffee instead of his regular croissant and Earl Grey for breakfast.
On the bridge, he stalked to the center chair yawning and holding a fresh cup of coffee, but he felt both tired and invigorated.
Data cocked his head curiously but remained focused on his console. “Captain on the bridge,” he said.
“Thank you, Mr. Data,” said Picard. He plopped down in the center chair with a quiet grunt. He sipped his coffee, leaned back and tugged on the front of his tunic. He refused to look at Riker who gazed at him with a cocked brow.
“Status report, Number One,” ordered Picard.
“Steady as she goes, sir,” he said. Riker was silent for a moment. “You sleep in this morning, sir?”
Jean Luc’s face warmed. He cleared his throat. “You could say that,” he said.
“Yes, Mr. Data.”
“At 2347, sensors detected Deltan--,” Data began.
“Yes, yes Data. I’m aware of that,” Picard said. His face colored even more.
Data turned in his chair and looked at the captain. “Sir?”
“I er, I’m aware of what the sensor logs contain.”
“Yes, sir,” said Data.
Picard felt Riker’s stare. He sighed. “Q,” he said quietly.
“Do I want to know?” asked Riker.
“Why me, Will? Why, of the trillions of life forms in the galaxy, he chooses to torment me?”
“Your charm and good looks.”
“He thinks I need a vacation,” frowned Picard.
“He has a point.”
“No. He does not.”
“You look like crap, Jean Luc.”
“I mean, you actually look better this morning, so whatever Q did—.”
“Stow that thought, Commander.”
Riker held up a hand. “I’m just making an observation—which is my job, by the way. You’re the only one who didn’t take shore leave during the repairs.”
“Yes I did.”
“You were onboard the whole time. Getting in everybody’s way, I might add.”
“I merely wanted to ensure that all of the Borg technology was removed from my ship.”
“Nice try,” said Riker.
“We’re headed back to the Neutral Zone. Twelve days of nothing to do. How about a compromise?”
Picard frowned. There was that word again. “I’m listening,” he said.
“A few days of riding and hiking in the holodeck,” said Riker.
“I’ll consider it.”
“I said, I’ll consider it, Number One.”
Data’s head cocked again.
“Yes, sir,” said Riker. He checked the padd on his chair. “Four hours twenty nine minutes until the NZ, Captain.”
Picard drummed his fingers on the arm of his chair. “I’ll be in my ready room.”
Riker glanced back at Worf as the captain walked across the bridge. Worf shrugged with a wrinkle of his nose ridges.
Picard entered his ready room and dumped the coffee in the cycler. He stretched his arms above his head and gazed at his reflection in the long viewport. His shoulders and biceps were still thick with muscle but he thought he might be getting a bit thin in the chest. He was eighty three this year--a decade over middle-aged. He placed a hand on his midriff and raised his chin. He pinched the skin over his Adam’s apple and pulled on it. It didn’t snap back like it used to.
“I’m old,” he said to his reflection.
End Chapter 3
Monday, August 31, 2009
Obama's been president for like, 5 minutes. The other guy got eight years to fuck up. Give a brutha a break. There's lots to do.
That said, he's not our savior. He's a politician. Remember that.
Monday, August 24, 2009
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Monday, July 27, 2009
Me: "How'd you get the BSM?"
Bro: "Some General kept hearing my name."
Me: "So, what did you do to get it?"
Bro: "My job."
Chuck Norris and Captain Robau need to get behind my brother in the Bad Ass Line.
Friday, July 24, 2009
My little brother(middle)receiving the Bronze Star Medal during his second tour in Iraq. Look at him all square-jawed and cool shades. I'm so proud of him.
We were toddlers at the same time and since I was slow to walk, he was pulling up and toddling when I was. He was loud and hyperactive and thought that I was God's gift to him. He would knock me over, smash me in the head with the toy phone, slobber all over my face and stomp on me with those hard baby shoes. I'd start screaming then he'd start yodeling in joyful sympathy. My mom finally had to get us separate playpens but he could climb out of his, squeeze his big head through the wooden bars of my playpen and sit on me with his poopie diaper.
Now look at him...fathead boogermunch.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Shatner rules. It was sooo great to see him back on TV when I was a kid. He made you believe in TJ Hooker, man--run top speed for sixty blocks and not a hair out of place. Nobody took down a perp like him. Walker, Texas Ranger was a pink panty pansy next to The Teege. TJ could take down Walker with fake kung fu and a finger puppet.
Yeah. That’s how bad ass Tom Jeff Hooker was.
Hooker and Captain Robau woulda been partners, but that would cause a rip in the space time continuum of bad asses. Better to keep them separated.
Monday, July 13, 2009
Saturday, July 04, 2009
Thursday, July 02, 2009
Monday, June 29, 2009
A break from TOS and a little about my other favorite captain of the Enterprise.
Disclaimer: Paramount owns the characters. Creative content, plot and original characters belong to me.
Archiving: Ask permission, please.
Lily Sloan NC-17
Summary: Picard needs the kind of vacation that perhaps only Q can give him.
Lily Sloan sighed, scrubbed a hand over her face and dragged her fingers through her hair. She’d been growing her hair out over the past year in an effort to look a little younger but its length only served to highlight the thick streak of silver that was coming in on the left side. She glanced at her reflection in the monitor. She sat so long without action, her screen went dark.
She sighed again and tapped the monitor with her stylus. Her screen winked on. A rusted iron butterfly bounced slowly from one edge to the other. She frowned, irritated that she’d let Cochrane load the program. The butterfly looked stiff and heavy and archaic—the way she felt.
It was a dozen years since First Contact, and the Vulcans were slowly insinuating their influence on Terran society. There was still some resistance to their presence but despite that she sometimes thought them pedantic, Lily found their calm soothing and their intense intellect refreshing. The Vulcans had taken as a temporary embassy the battered Palace of Fine Arts and Exploratorium. Lily would sometimes sit on a stone bench by the rotunda and watch them go about their quiet business. They were also quite beautiful. Of the hundred or so that lived at the embassy, she had yet to meet an unattractive Vulcan.
She admired the Vulcans. And she shared their reluctance to move Earth too quickly into warp technology and all that it implied. She and Cochrane had fought about it. As usual, he was the visionary and she the voice of reason. Their last argument was bitter. He accused her of turning the Vulcans against him and she fired back that his alcoholism and his growing xenophobia had done that job for her. She instantly regretted her words and tried to take them back but he refused to speak to her for weeks. It was a good thing in its way. It gave her the perspective she needed. She was weary of defending Cochrane and making excuses for him. He was a genius but he got nowhere without her dogged determination, discipline and practicality. Warp drive was chicken scratchings on a chalkboard when she became his student and would have remained there if Lily had not wrapped it in a warp core. She practically mined the titanium for the Phoenix’s nacelles herself.
She was convinced—admittedly irrationally—that her gray patch of hair was a result of her radiation poisoning from her defense of the Phoenix during the Borg attack. Where was Cochrane then? She didn’t know and he changed the subject when asked the one time.
For the last two nights, he had drunkenly serenaded her from the street in front of her flat. She was tired of him. Perhaps it was time to move on. That Archer kid was brilliant and level-headed. Let him deal with Zefram Cochrane.
She gazed at a dusty wine bottle that sat on a sideboard. It was a 2045 cabernet sauvignon that Soval found on one of his diplomatic missions to Europe. “Picard” was written in small plain calligraphy beneath a simple sketch of a French countryside. The simplicity of the label belied what was expensive before the war, and what was priceless now. Wealth was another thing that Vulcans did not discuss--and certainly not their own. She kept the bottle hidden here in her office at Stanford, away from Cochran.
The new world government was building a space academy at the Presidio and at at Soval’s insistence, was naming a building for her. Everything else was named after Cochrane. Lily didn’t mind. She detested publicity and was content to work behind the scenes as head engineer, building the space fleet.
Lily walked to her sideboard and stroked her fingers across the label of the wine bottle. The dedication of her building was this evening.
“I need to get out of here,” she muttered.
Picard raised his arms and pressed his palms against the warm wall of the shower stall.
He was tired.
More and more he found himself like this after missions, exhausted from the top of his head to the soles of his feet, every muscle, tendon and joint sore, tender, hot. Just a few days of sitting around a conference table during diplomatic negotiations and he sometimes ached this way.
He leaned forward and rested his forehead against the wall. The low hum of the sonic wave generator lulled him. The hair on his body rose and his skin tingled; he fancied that he could see it ripple with tiny waves in time with the cleansing sonic pulse as each hair was stripped of its mites, dirt and oil. His testicles grew warm and heavy and his penis thickened from the ghostly stimulation. He could come this way—intense, shuddering orgasms that left his knees weak.
But he thought that he was too tired for even that.
“Computer. End sonic, begin hydro, 25 degrees, massage pressure, level four,” he said quietly.
Hot streams burst from three holes in the wall in front of him and one from the ceiling. He lowered his head to let the water pound his shoulders. He bent one knee and shifted his hips to avoid the direct contact of a stream to his genitals. The water beat against his flank.
"Computer. 30 degrees," he said.
The water cascaded down his body and he relaxed into the luxury of the heat on his aching bones.
“Old bones”, he muttered, regretting his rejection of an analgesic hypospray.
A hot shower, a bowl of soup and then to bed, he thought. He rolled his shoulders and turned to face away from the wall. The jet at his hip shot a bull’s-eye of steaming, pressurized water right to his anus. Picard let out a yelp and reflexively turned back toward the stream, only to have it unerringly blast the head of his penis.
“Aahh! Computer, hydro off!”
He stood for a moment, eyes closed and jaws clenched, with one hand pressed flat against the center of his buttocks and the other cupping his sex.
“Fuck!” he said through his teeth.
This was not going well. He would have laughed, were it not so painful.
He carefully inspected his foreskin for tears but other than a tender redness, the head of his penis seemed undamaged. He stepped from the shower, dried himself and walked naked into his sleeping area. He removed a pair of gray, loose-fitting pajama pants from a drawer and pulled them on, gingerly maneuvering the elastic waistband over his penis. He strode to the replicator.
“Riker’s Mulligatawny soup, hot, medium-spicy. Tea, earl grey, hot—decaffeinated,” he added with some regret. “Computer, lights 40 percent. Play any Mozart and Berlioz, shuffle. 20% volume.”
Picard took the tray from the replicator and went to his desk to eat. He caught sight of his reflection in the glass of the viewport and stopped. He was scowling; his jaw was clenched, the muscles in his arms bulging. He made a detour and sat at his small dining table instead.
Q taunted him about his inability to just enjoy life’s simplest pleasures, telling him that he lived a life of planned deprivation, almost obsessively isolated and monastic. Picard had to admit that the life was getting to him. This ship and the ones before were his life. That was not good.
“I’m getting too old for this,” he murmured into his bowl of soup.
He’d just returned from a debriefing and ceremony at Starfleet Headquarters. There were speeches and medals and more speeches--and a quiet sidebar from Janeway with a futile plea for him to join the Admiralty. He’d slipped out of the auditorium and took a long walk around the Presidio. He stood in the dark of a tree with his head down for nearly half an hour before breaking regulation and beaming up to the ship from where he stood in front of the Sloan building.
In their brief, intense interaction, they forged a connection that he thought wasn’t just his wishful thinking. They seemed to share a kind telepathic link from almost the first moment they met. He had looked into her huge, frightened eyes and said, “Jean-Luc. My name is Jean-Luc Picard.”
And even before that, she stood, terrified and swaying with radiation sickness, still defiant, protecting the Phoenix with her body and an empty machine gun. Cochrane did the math but Lily built the ship, loved it and risked her life to protect it. She had the brave heart of a true explorer; her intense curiosity even transcended her fear of the Borg. She and Picard were kindred spirits and she flayed him to the bone with her dead-on assessment of his motives. He had others in his history who claimed to give him their honest opinion when he asked, but he often wondered if they held back because he was the Captain. Guinan was probably the most honest with him but she was often too enigmatic in her analysis. And he had to admit that he wasn’t always completely forthcoming with counselor Troi.
Picard was tired of talking. He was tired of this life, this ship and he was tired of being alone.
“Oh, Lily,” he sighed.
“Your wish is my command, Mon Capitan.”
Jean-Luc didn’t blink. He sipped from his tea and swallowed.
“Q,” he said.
“You rang, Baba Sadhu?” said Q. “Finally tired of the self-flagellation, the barren, ascetic--.”
“How rude. You called me!”
“I did no such thing.”
“Didn’t you, Jean Luc? You finally make a wish and it is for the impossible? A wish that only I can grant?” Q fell onto the chaise with the back of his wrist pressed against his forehead. “Some foolish, hopeless romance?” He propped himself up on his elbows. “I can bring her to you, you know.”
“Get out, Q.”
Q gazed at him with narrowed eyes. “Or, I can take you to her.”
Picard glanced at him sharply.
“Aha!” said Q, pointing a finger at Picard. “That’s it, isn’t it? You want to go there.”
Q clapped his hands and rubbed them together. “Nothing like a little time travel to take your mind off things. Better than taking your only pleasure from a sonic shower, eh?”
“I don’t need you for that,” snapped Picard.
“Perhaps not. To be or not to be? That is the question.”
“What the hell are you talking about, Q?”
Q swung his legs over the side of the chaise and stood. “Going back in time would be breaking the rules. And you do need me for that,” he said.
End Chapter 2
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Tuesday, June 09, 2009
Sunday, June 07, 2009
The Obsidian Mirror
I entered what I hoped was the relative safety of my quarters to wait for word from Scotty and Bones. McCoy was frightened and angry but I wasn’t worried about him. Scotty, however was a deeply honest man and the mere thought of deception blared from his body like a red alert klaxon. Alone, Scotty was caught the moment he turned down the corridor towards engineering. Bones, on the other hand, would make the best secret agent in the universe. Barring getting shot in the back, McCoy could con their way out of any encounter.
Unfortunately, I had no choice but to leave Uhura on the bridge. I could feel her absence like a knot in my chest.
Bones asked me, what kind of people are we in this Universe. Humans, unfortunately, are essentially the same–vicious and debauched, but recognizable. The Halkans are exponentially more passive. Vulcans in this universe are…logical. But how does a Vulcan reconcile such brutality with logic?
I feel warm attachment from “my” Spock—and he even has a bit of a temper. I see humor in Golan’s eyes. Sarek’s logic is balanced by empathy.
This Spock’s logic is implacable. Terror must be maintained or the Empire is doomed, he said. Terror within and without--a coldly logical justification for the agony booth. It is a most effective means of discipline. But logic and history also dictate that despotism and tyranny is not sustainable. Surely, Spock knew this.
And good men must exist, even here. The real question is, is Spock a good man or not? I believe him when he says he does not want to command the Enterprise. In this universe, this ship is a fool’s gold. It is not logical to desire the instrument of one’s own--
There was a woman stretched out on my bunk. She rolled her head toward me.
“I fell asleep,” she said.
My eyes searched the room for assassins. I folded my arms loosely about my waist, resting the fingertips of one hand lightly on my phaser. I took a casual but quick step towards her when she swung her legs off the bunk, and I watched carefully as she removed two glasses from the dispenser by the bed. I wanted to be close enough to strike her if I had to but not within her reach should she decide to gut me with her dagger.
“We had quite a time in the chem lab, picking up after the storm,” she said.
I glanced at her as I finished surveying the quarters. She was small and beautiful and from the softness of the muscles in her arms, this woman hadn’t worked a day in quite some time. Whatever her assignment was in the lab, I doubted that she lifted a finger.
I caught scent of her as she stood and offered me a glass. Her perfume was faint but still cloying, under lit with the odor of a woman’s body—a smell I usually enjoy. But hers was the musk of a body gone too long between washings. I’ve noticed that about this crew. They smelled bad. It was understandable, given that the act of bathing, even a sonic shower, left you more vulnerable to attack. But it wasn’t just body odor--in itself, not necessarily offensive. Klingons had a deep, heavy odor but as much as I disliked and distrusted them, theirs was the smell of bodies primed for battle.
Greed and malice had a scent too; and despite her carefully constructed façade, this woman was also rank with desperation.
“Nothing compared to your day, I gather,” she continued.
After a moment’s hesitation, I took the glass she held out to me. She took a sip from her drink. Her throat trembled as she swallowed and her lashes dropped seductively. That’s not a show for me, I thought. She’s an alcoholic.
I felt the first stirrings of pity but kept my face empty.
“I heard about Chekov,” she said.
“He gambled, I won,” I said.
“No.” She shook her head. “You got lucky. I’m surprised that you could be caught off guard that way.”
My mind raced. I already gathered that our relationship was intimate. She was the captain’s woman, unafraid to offend me—Kirk—the other Kirk, free to access to his quarters, trusted enough to serve his drinks. One misstep and she’d call Sulu or likely slit my throat herself.
I decided to use what always served me well with women—the truth.
“I was…preoccupied,” I murmured, dropping my gaze to her mouth. Adding a bit of charm to the truth was usually helpful.
She either did not recognize my overture or was unaffected by it.
“Ah,” she said. “You’re still in trouble with Starfleet Command.”
I covered my gaffe by pretending to drink from my glass. She regarded me with narrowed eyes.
“What you’ve got in mind this time is beyond me. You’re scheming, of course,” she said sweetly. “The Halkans have something you want. Or is it all some clever means to advance you to the Admiralty?”
I turned my back to hide my expression. She was finally giving me information I could use. I waited for her to go on.
“Kirk? The Cabinet, itself?”
I glanced arrogantly over my shoulder. “Further than that, if I’m successful,” I said. I was beginning to appreciate the irony of telling a lie by using the truth.
“Really?” she said, finally impressed. “Well.”
I turned to her. Her eyes sparkled with greed and lust and I understood why she was unaffected by my charm.
“You must know what you’re doing. You always do.” She draped her arms around my neck. “If I’m to be the woman,” she paused and planted a kiss on my lips. “Of a Caesar, can’t I know what you’re up to?”
This was the show of seduction, I thought. Her pander to Kirk’s power. She was smart enough to know that her Kirk would rapidly discard a woman only interested in him sexually, as his lust was fired by his gain of power. She fanned those flames alternately with flattery and ridicule; at each step up, praising and goading and belittling him, feeding him information about his enemies, fucking him until she bled and then procuring ever more tender yeomen when she was too raw to satisfy him, pushing him to the top, covering for excesses that were shocking even in this brutal Empire, happily suffering his abuse, waiting for that moment when she could watch his body slump from his throne then roll limply down the Senate steps, her blade in his back.
I saw all of this in her eyes as she stretched up to kiss me again.
Her lips were cold and I could smell on her breath the metabolized alcohol consumed earlier in the day--the real cause of her nap in my cabin. I forced myself not to recoil as she deepened the kiss. Fortunately, I was saved by the trill of the com.
It was Spock.
“I received a private communication from Starfleet Command…”
I had four hours until my execution.
The woman seemed unconcerned by this news. I propped my feet on the desk. There was a holostill of Kirk, Uhura and Spock in a small frame next to the com. It was an interesting keepsake for a man like Kirk. I had a nearly identical one—a gift from Uhura after our shore leave on Aeon V--except I kept mine in a drawer by my bunk. I had to remember to move it to my desk when we got …home.
The woman chuckled and raised her glass.
“A toast to Spock”, she said. “The only man aboard with the decency to warn you—and he’ll die for it. You’ll never find another man like him.”
I nodded. Of course. Kill the messenger. I thought about Spock’s rather elegant warning at the end of our conversation in the corridor.
“I don’t intend to kill him,” I said. “I’ll get out of his way.”
She frowned. She was suspicious for the first time.
“Should I activate the Tantalus field?” she asked.
I tried to keep my expression neutral.
“You’ll at least want to monitor him, won’t you?”
“Yes,” I said.
I followed slowly behind and watched as she unlocked a safe in the bulkhead. In my universe, Tantalus was a state of the art rehabilitation facility. Either the Tantalu used their highly advanced technological knowledge for killing or Kirk took a device meant to heal and used it his way. And Marlena—who finally revealed her name--was too eager to use it. I barely restrained myself from reaching out and snapping her neck. I realized, however that I needed her on my side.
There were three hours left until Spock’s deadline to kill me.
I didn’t have time for this.
“How does Marlena want to fit in,” I asked.
She barely restrained a flinch when I raised my hand and stroked it down her hair. She laughed softly and turned away, downing her drink and she walked into the next room.
I checked in with Scotty and discovered that I had even less time than I thought. I could hear Marlena moving and I thought I could slip away but as I headed for the door, she emerged from the next room. She swayed a bit but caught herself with a hand on the door jamb. Her pupils were fully dilated with more than alcohol. Her perfume was so thick that it stung my eyes. I breathed shallowly through my mouth to keep from sneezing.
Marlena mistook it for something else.
“Oiling my traps, darling,” she said.
It was another act and I really, really didn’t have time for it. I had to get to the transporter room. And Uhura was on the bridge, alone.
“I’ve got to go,” I said.
Marlena glared at the photo. As much as she hated Kirk, she was still jealous of Uhura.
“Ship’s business? An important task on the crew deck?” she snapped.
I could almost feel the seconds ticking by.
I was tempted to stun her with my phaser but Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned—especially a woman who knew how to use the Tantalus device.
“I simply meant that you could be anything that you want to be,” I said.
I had to be convincing. I dug deep. The exercises to control breathing and blood flow that Spock was teaching me back home paid off. I summoned an erection. I rolled my hips against her body. When she felt my hardness against her belly, a tremor went through her and her tongue stilled for an instant in my mouth.
She was disgusted. She had to be drunk for this. Drugged .
The pity I felt earlier returned. I pulled my hips back and broke the kiss. For the first time, there was a genuine emotion in her eyes.
“You’re the captain’s woman,” I said. “Until he says you’re not.”
Out in the corridor, I paused and drew in deep breaths. Her perfume clung to my clothes. I peered behind me and then up ahead. I headed for the transporter room.
End Chapter 3