lightspeed.gif (4487 bytes)

D.G. Littleford


The restored Z12 hovercraft sped along at better than 100 miles per hour, the golden blur of wheat fields streaking by in the driver’s peripheral vision. With top down, the wind whipped maniacally through his hair, sun-bleached almost the color of the passing grain.

From the music console, guitars and fiddles harmonized with Andorian dulcimers in the latest incarnation of the old country style, whose ballads otherwise continued to celebrate and mourn the Human condition. The lament of a love sick farm boy whose darling was too many light years away was a current favorite, but today called for a different mood. With the punch of a button, sound waves morphed into an energized high volume version of Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries, more in keeping with the listener’s current emotional state and velocity. "Star music" was the latest in musical trends. The product of imaginative musicians with way too much time on their hands, it spliced together rhythmic radio emissions of everything from pulsars to the galactic core, into recognizable old and new classics.

The music, speed, and elation merged into an energy unto itself and crescendoed in a vocalized whoop into the wind.

As the yell and the music died away, the exultant driver noticed the red light on the sensor console flashing, accompanied by a buzzer. It warned of an obstacle in the roadway ahead. The driver killed the next musical selection and reduced speed, coming to a full stop no more than a few meters before the patrol vehicle parked sideways across his path. The rural police officer was leaning comfortably against his own craft, already writing out a citation on his computerized pad.

Wade Campbell was just over two meters. In addition to his receding hairline, he was losing the battle to stay trim. But lest anyone mistake his laid-back, country manner for lenience, Wade’s ticket writing and "let’s just let you spend a night behind a force field to think this over" philosophy were legendary among the residents of Washington County. A country sheriff with little serious infraction of the law to police, Campbell devoted himself in particular to shepherding the testosterone-challenged youth of his county through countless hours of fatherly counseling.

Looking up at last at the familiar bright red Z12, Campbell’s expression was characteristic of his encounters with its young driver. Head slightly inclined, the officer appeared dubious that the young man would survive to maturity—and doubtful the world would survive him if he did.

The long-legged officer walked over to the hovercraft, leaned over, and rested his arms on the door sill to talk to its occupant. "I clocked you doing light speed in an eighty-five miles per hour zone, Jimmy."

"Very funny," the young driver replied, nettled as much by the use of his boyhood name as by getting the ticket.

Campbell extended the pad to the sandy-haired youth through the window, "You know the drill."

The seventeen-year-old James Tiberius Kirk reluctantly accepted the ticket pad and signed in the all-too-familiar space.

"Have you heard yet?" the officer inquired.

The irrepressibly brilliant smile returned to the young man’s face as he handed the pad back to the officer. "It came this morning. I wanted to tell Sam in person."

"Congratulations," Campbell said while punching in his required confirmation codes. "I, for one, will sleep better at night knowing you’re in Starfleet."

Kirk accepted the compliment with distrust, "Thanks."

"Hell, yes. As long as you’re in outer space, you won’t be putting at risk the dogs, sheep, and small children of this county anymore. Not to mention the young ladies." Campbell’s hazel eyes rolled meaningfully to the young man from beneath bushy eyebrows.

Kirk met the glare of the older man side-long, wondering if he was still mad at him about that little incident with his daughter. The officer’s wry expression was hard to read. "I appreciate the vote of confidence," he replied sardonically.

"Come on, Jimmy. You know I only give you a hard time because you’ve got potential and I’d hate to see you throw it away. I just hope you know that you won’t get through Starfleet Academy on your good looks and charm."

A drop of apprehension leaked out as the usually cocky young man looked off toward the wheat, "I know that."

Campbell laid his big paw of a hand on Kirk’s shoulder, "You’ll do fine. You’ve got your daddy’s smile and, thank God, your mother’s brains. Smartest thing George ever did was marry your mama."

The young Jim Kirk smiled inwardly at the oft repeated comment. Wade Campbell and George Samuel Kirk had been the best of buddies in high school. Campbell always thought it was the height of stupidity for the senior Kirk to marry the gorgeous and intelligent Marjorie and then spend the majority of his life away from her in outer space. But that was in his never-so-humble opinion. His old friend had asked him to keep an eye on his boys for him while he was gone. After George Senior died suddenly on a mission a few years back, Campbell had taken the charge to heart. A little too much to heart for George Junior and Jimmy.

"Well..." Campbell drawled. "In honor of the occasion, I guess I can let this one pass."

Kirk watched in shock as the big law enforcer canceled out the new entry on the ticket pad.

"But you take it easy out there," the officer added pointedly.

"I will, sir. And...thanks."

Campbell backed off a bit from the Z12. "Give ‘em hell, James. Make us proud."

Kirk was genuinely touched. He knew in spite of all their run ins that the sheriff really did care about him. Even so, it wasn’t in his nature to leave things on such a serious note.

"Hey, Officer Campbell. Miss me, huh?" Kirk said with a devilish grin while firing up the Z12.

"Miss you, Jimmy? I sure as hell will. The department bought a state of the art hovercraft on the credits from your speeding tickets over the years."

The newly accepted Starfleet cadet smiled even wider as he swung his Z12 around the patrolcraft, barely missing the stalks of tall wheat to the side of the roadway. He deliberately accelerated to 100 mph as he sped away.

Suspicious, Campbell checked the sensor readout. Grimacing after the rapidly receding Z12, the officer just shook his head.

main.gif (14802 bytes)

Free counters provided by Andale.
banner.gif (2815 bytes)

This story can be found in printed form in ORION ARCHIVES 2229-2265  THE BEGINNINGS1.
Return to the index of ORION ARCHIVES -- 2234-2265 The Beginnings.
Return to the index of ORION ARCHIVES On-Line Fiction.
Click Here to Return to the Orion Press Website