Jim Kirk had always been quick to move on to the next thing. There were several exceptions, as he grew older; however they had all dealt with death. Not his own, of course, but his best friends and his sons. He never accepted his own eventual death; rather Jim Kirk focused his energies on saving others from their end. He always felt a sense of accomplishment in that.
But now he was faced with something far greater than deaththe loss of his entire way of life. The Federation and the Klingons completely at peace? Allies, maybe? Retirement was coming as well and only two months earlier he had convinced himself it was time to hang up his careers and move to the Kirk family farm in Iowa.
Iowa. It seemed so far away now. This is all Spocks fault, he told himself. "Status?" he asked.
Commander Chekov was at the control of the shuttlepod, as he had been for each of Kirks trips to the Enterprise since Sulu had been promoted to captain of the Excelsior. "Captain, were on approach. Three minutes to dock," the Russian replied, turning his attention to the panel in front of himself. "Enterprise, this is Captain Kirks shuttle on approach."
The reply was long in coming. "Shuttle, this is Enterprise. Please stand by." Another half minute passed. "Shuttle, we currently have a logjam of shuttle pods waiting to dock. Fall into line for arrival at the starboard Torpedo Bay docking port."
Chekov turned to the captain, a bit shocked. He shrugged, a bit confused.
Sitting quietly for the whole trip thus far, McCoy laughed out, "Were stuck in traffic, Jim!" He howled like he hadnt in years.
Kirk moved up and re-opened the channel. "Enterprise, this is Captain Kirk here. What precisely is the problem?"
"Captain, we apologize for the delay; however, all docking ports are currently in use. Weve lined you up as next for the starboard docking port. It shouldnt be more than an extra two to three minutes, sir."
"Jim, have a little patience," McCoy suggested, still smiling.
Patience. There it wasthe thing that had been nagging at him for hours. He had no patience. Galloping around the cosmos is a game for the young, he had told Bones a decade ago. So now, in these later years, he was suddenly supposed to take his own moronic advice and slow down?
"Fine, Bones, fine," he said, taking a seat across from the good doctor at the back of the tiny shuttlepod.
His mind returned to reflect on his earlier conversation with Spock. Let them die, he had said to his friend of close to forty years. Let them die. It felt so right in his gut. It felt so damned good coming from his lips. His conscience was a different story though. His brother Sam had told him when they were boys that he had no conscience. Really Sam had told him, "Jimmy, you never feel guilty because you dont sit still long enough to let it hit you."
Sam had been the brighter of the two as kids, and Jim was fine with that. But Sam had been right, he rarely sat still long enough to reflect on the choices he had made. His whole life had been lived on impulse at warp speed.
Let them die. He could feel the guilt grow after he had said the words. Spocks reactionhis disapprovalwas enough to do it. But now, now he had time to think about it, and it wasnt settling well with him.
McCoy, seeing the lack of life behind Kirks eyes leaned forward, closer to his friend. "Everything all right, Jim?"
The galaxy seemed to be changing all around him and he was feeling more and more like a relic of far-off times. As much an antique as the late Admiral Morrow had believed the Enterprise had been before she met her end at the Genesis planet
because of the Klingons. The Klingons. He had spent half his career defending the Federation and innocent people from their conquest. And now he was to befriend them seemingly overnight?
"Jim?" McCoy asked, nudging him in the leg with his boot.
"Yeah, Bones, Im fine," he answered. Turning, he looked out the forward viewscreen for a moment. There she sat, the Enterprise, hovering so close.
"You dont seem fine," the doctor observed.
"Bones, do you think they hate me as much as they say they do?" Kirk asked.
"The Klingons, you mean?"
"Yeah, the Klingons."
"You need to ask?" McCoy asked, grinning.
"I suppose not," Kirk answered, smiling back. He took a deep breath, trying to shrug off his melancholy mood.
"Heard from Kate?" McCoy asked, hoping to get his friends mind off whatever was really bothering him.
"Shes fine," he replied. "Ready to come visit the farm when I get back from this mission."
McCoy smiled. "Lucky man."
"Yeah, lucky," Kirk said. He was silent for a second. "Bones I told Spock we should let them"
"Captain, weve docked," Chekov reported, accidentally cutting his captain off. The airlock hissed as the shuttlepod equalized pressure with the starship.
"Good job, Pavel," he said to the smiling commander.
"You said what, Jim?" the doctor asked as he stood.
Tugging on the bottom of his tunic just as the airlock doors eased open, Kirk sighed, "Nothing, Bones. It was nothing. Forget about it."
Free counters provided by Andale.
Return to the index of ORION ARCHIVES --
2285-2293 The Third Mission.
Return to the index of ORION ARCHIVES On-Line Fiction.
Click Here to Return to the Orion Press Website