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Rob Morris


Personal Journal, Stardate 9380.5
Senior Cadet Demora Sulu
Starfleet Academy

The footage that’s playing on the viewer in the commons has them all entranced. A Human is fighting a very large Kh’myr Klingon, and God knows how, but he’s winning. The young Human male’s martial arts have him seeming just this side of invincible. Thing is, I know the tape’s been edited and sped up by the media sources that illegally obtained it. So while all my friends and fellow cadets applaud and whistle, I get a little sick to my stomach. Not because the smaller man on-screen is a phony. But because he is my dear friend, and I love him too much to ignore the fact that this fight nearly killed him. It was the Kh’myr who was next to invincible. But he’s dead and whoever hired him isn’t going to lodge a protest.

I’ve seen the raw footage, and raw is the word. My friend, Lieutenant Peter Kirk (yes, his nephew) nearly avoided a lot of really serious injury, but he couldn’t dodge all of it, nor could he dodge exhaustion. Outside of official circles, only I and other people in the Enterprise ‘family’ were ever supposed to see this footage. But despite precautions, someone on the security staff of Princess Teresa of Serenidad—a.k.a. Mrs. Leonard McCoy—managed to smuggle it out. I’ve heard that it cost them their freedom and their treasure, but when you renege on an oath or a contract, them’s the breaks. Peter knows that better than anyone.

He’s to teach my exobiology class today, so the played-to-death footage has gotten trotted out once again. That damned holovid shows nothing of the man I know. It robs him by reducing the life of a phoenix to a cartoon Klingon-killer. It says nothing of why he really risked his life like that. He loves that fragile royal family as much as the one he lost at seven years of age. As much as he loves me. I know he does. See, I go on like a parsec a minute if you let me, and he lets me.

As the class begins to gather, I see the usual patterns emerge. Lisa Gatchmeinz, who hates exobiology, loves to ogle cute guest instructors. Well, she loves to do more than ogle.


"C’mon, Demora! He’s a young Captain Kirk. How can you not want to go boldly with him?"

Sulu fought off the urge to roll her eyes. "Lisa, he is anything but. He hates when people call him that. Just like I hate being the next Captain Sulu? As to going boldly, we’re more like family to each other than not. Not happening."

Gatchmeinz shook her head. "My first rule is: no blood relation, no problem. My second rule is: anything past second cousin is allowable."

Demora shook her head. "Lisa, I’m amazed."

"That I’m so much freer than most people?"

"No, that you actually have rules."


At least Lisa’s attitude is comprehensible. He has the looks, although I’m not among the ones who stands there with tongue and eyes out. No, the ones that are really hard to figure are those who only want to know about the Klingon body count on Serenidad this past summer. I mean, one of the first things Peter mentioned to me after he awoke from his coma was the poor people the Kh’myr must have killed to get the transport they used to infiltrate, not to mention the five Serenidad security posts they wiped out when they were spotted. Those are the things you have to think about when you’re in Starfleet.


"Well, I heard they call that big one a Bull Kh’myr. Like a Bull Elephant, or Bull Shark."

"Are there even any bulls on Qo’noS?"

"Who cares? I want him to show me that touch of death. Real Shaolin stuff. Hey, Sulu? He ever teach you that technique?"


‘Touch of death,’ my skinny butt. Stuff of nonsense. What Peter did was all science. Applied force used in exactly the right spot in exactly the right way took half that giant Klingon’s heart apart in the space of a minute. The only magic involved was maintaining focus and concentration while a three-meter creche-bred murder-programmed armored demon was breathing steam in your face. His privates. His hands. They keep reducing my friend to these mystic body parts.

Even if I didn’t know about his stay in Tantalus, it would be impossible for me to see him as anything less than a whole person. My Dad the captain finally broke down and told me about his perspective on Peter Kirk’s time at the Academy. How it was so very not pleasant. It led him to try and talk me out of going years later.

All of a sudden, so much garbage fell away. I almost forgot about that drunken fiasco. I felt normal, and almost worthy of my name and heritage. My Dad had said he was only trying to protect me when he made his argument, and that’s all he had been doing. Of course, had he mentioned that the nephew of the captain of the Enterprise had just gone to prison, I might have actually listened and not yelled. I still would have gone, though.

They all keep talking about this perfect person, and I let them, because its pointless to try and dissuade these people. But Peter isn’t perfect. He has one large blind spot I have no clue as to how to address. She’s his fiancée.


Doctor Calita Iberez was on Earth, following her royal charge and friend, Princess Teresa, as well as to be near her fiancé of a few months, Lieutenant Peter Kirk. She was a nice enough person, but insecurity seemed to define her. At least that’s how it seemed to Cadet Sulu.

"But surely, Demora, you had to have some reason for sending roses to his hospital bed beyond mere friendship."

"Sorry, Calita. But that is all it was. I told you, I only met Peter about a week before you did. I was just excited to have somebody I could relate to about growing up in the shadow of a famous Starfleet captain, and the thought of losing him so soon made me want to send something."

The physician still eyed her as though sizing up past or potential competition. "Si, you did say all that. Perhaps I’m merely too protective man. But then you and he share a bond he and I never will. Tell me, would you have remained behind to stop the Klingons, as Peter did?"

Demora shook her head. "He didn’t do that to stop the Kh’myr. He did that to ensure Princess Teresa’s safe passage. After that, he had no choice but to fight. A Kh’myr Klingon loves to hunt down a running target."

Calita seemed to tense. "I’m Serenidadian, Chiquita. You don’t ever stand there, raised safe on Blessed Terra, and tell me about how Kh’myr act."


God Bless little Davie McCoy, who ran up just then on behalf of his Mom to fetch Doctor Iberez. I was doubly glad when he did not mention the CommPic call Peter made when it looked like war was about to break out—otherwise it just might have. Between us.

Peter and me would be something of a joke. Plus, I’d hate to lose his eternally sympathetic ear. But with Calita planting her own seeds of doubt, I don’t see this marriage happening. Peter needs someone as much like him as possible. I wonder. Doesn’t Captain Spock have a niece or cousin or stepdaughter or something, from the Khan/Genesis affair? That’d be a natural.

Speaking of naturals, when he arrived, the natural reactions followed. When asking a Kirk a question, expect an answer. Just don’t expect which answer.


"Lieutenant, what best sums up how you survived against the Klingons?"

Kirk shrugged. "I guess I’m alive because they didn’t use their disruptors. If they had, I’d be dead."

The cadet almost seemed to wince at those words. Perhaps he was expecting talk of martial arts technique, not dumb luck.

A female cadet, not Gatchmeinz, for which Sulu was thankful, asked a more personal question. "Are you really close friends with the Princess?" If one speculated on the answer this young woman might have desired, it likely would be thought that she wished to hear poetic innuendo of some sort. That is not what she got.

"Well, I am taking her sons to Anaheim this weekend."

One answer likely hit closest to the mark. "What’s it like growing up with him as an uncle?"

Regrets and pain aside, Kirk gave the best answer he could. "Like knowing for certain that the universe is in good hands."

The last question Peter Kirk would take in before entering class proved to be the most unfortunate. Some things leave the realm of fact a little too quickly. "Lieutenant, it’s getting near Halloween, and a bunch of us are chasing down how urban legends have evolved here at the Academy. Could you help us out?"

Peter actually smiled. "The escaped killer with the prostheses. Le-matyas living in the solar sheds. The helpful tutor who turns out to be Zefram Cochrane, that sort of thing?"

The cadet smiled back. "Yeah, but we pretty much got those nailed down, along with the one where pre-Contact Vulcans used to scan evidence of a warp-capable ship within Earth’s atmosphere every Christmas Eve. We need help on one that seemed to start within the last twenty years."

"That’s just about my era. Shoot."

To his absolute horror, the cadet would find out that people’s desire to forget ugly events was a rapidly moving phenomenon. "Okay. In this one, the cadet is either April’s grandson or Pike’s son, and he catches grief for it, so they send him to relax on a field trip to Chrysalis. When he gets back, he finds out a Kzinti mercenary got through Earth’s perimeter, came looking for him because of his family connection, and that the vengeful mercenary had eaten his roommates."

Kirk looked down, and then up. "Cestus Three. I was sent on a field trip to Cestus Three, not Chrysalis. And it was Orions, not Kzinti. And they had beheaded my roommates, not eaten them."


Poor Hank. He means well, but he is forever doing things like that. He expected Peter to talk about his friend’s cousin’s roommate’s girlfriend’s girlfriend’s brother who all this really happened to. But the story was Peter’s, and it was quite real.

I had warned Peter about Hank Plenn. But now I wonder if I really had to. He’s being razzed mercilessly for his error, as always, but now he seems calm, not the nervous wreck he usually is. When I ask him why, he just pats his leather case and tells me he’s taking a page from Peter’s book, from his time at the Academy. I hope that means acceptance. The last thing we need is him spraying the class with seltzered grape juice.


Kirk began his lecture with a pitch for why at least some of them were there. "Exobiology is a multidisciplinary field. It is defined, perhaps more than any other field I know of, by what other fields you have to look into. You’re not a computer technician, but you’d better know how to narrow search parameters as well as one. You’re not a specialist in Human, Vulcan, Andorian, or Tellarite physiology, but if you don’t know the whys and wherefores of those and other Federation members, what will you have to compare against when encountering a new species? Radiology, for its effects on the living. Cosmology, such as left only the native brain parasites after the Ceti Alpha disaster. Does this one system have more visible stars than others? The mating cycles could be determined by that factor, which means a look into historical astrology might be a notion."

One of the cadets who had teased the awkward Hank Plenn shrugged in a dismissive-looking way. "Sir? We have sensors. We have library computers. We have star maps. Why try to know all that is knowable?"

Kirk’s look gave off the air of one who had seen much better dismissive shrugs in his day. "Cadet," Peter looked at the class seating chart, "Mayburn, devices can and have failed. So can people, but we exobiologists are more than just info repositories. We are profilers, helping our commanding officers to know what life might reside in an unknown system before a single scan is made by your ship’s sensors. Based only on star maps, deep probes and an intimate knowledge of what species already exist in like systems, we tell our superiors the shape of things to come."

That drew a few less chuckles than the lecturer might have wanted.

Now Cadet Plenn asked a question. "Lieutenant, is it possible to extrapolate from exobiological speculation what kind of governments we might face on those worlds?"

Before Kirk could answer, another voice was heard. "No. It’s not. Now shut up, and speak when you have something useful to say, which is never."

Quickly checking the seating chart, Kirk countered the unwanted helper. "Stand down, Cadet Ibej. In fact, Cadet Plenn’s question is an excellent one, and to which the correct answer is yes. It can be helpful in reasoning out what we may face in terms of authority. A somewhat resource-poor culture usually tends toward authoritarianism. Although it can also lead to a barter-based structure with very tight, very complex rules on acquisition and deal-making. It’s not precise, but it allows you to present your crewmates with options."

Plenn smiled, and it was not the nervous smile Sulu was accustomed to. "Thank you, Lieutenant. If Cadet Ibej has cause to disagree with me, we’ll just consult after this is all done with."


Okay. Plenn had just challenged Ibej to a brawl. Everyone heard it. Euphemized, sure. But Hank Plenn has always been a mouse to these guys, and now he was dripping confidence. To use Peter’s example, this was a radical evolutionary change without explanation. I wasn’t sure at first, but Peter began to inch his way forward toward Plenn.


From the small lecture area at the bottom of the arched room, Kirk began to make his way up to Plenn’s relative perch. "Cadet Sulu, can you safely navigate around a Wave-Tunnel Anomaly?"

"Yes, sir. But extra distance should be factored in for species with above-average hearing, since those cause intense internal audio feedback."

Past her, he stopped at one who was giving him the eye. "Cadet Gatchmeinz, if a way could be found to shunt power away from damaged consoles in a crisis, should it be immediately implemented?"

The eye vanished, and the cybernetics expert was now the only thing in evidence. "No, sir. The entire reason we still allow that is to prevent those same power surges from building up in the floor panels and in essence burning all present from the inside out."

Demora noted the gratitude in Lisa’s eyes, to be taken seriously, but Kirk now tapped a potential troublemaker. "Cadet Mayburn, if they do not shatter or suffer a direct hit, are transparent aluminum bay windows a safe place from which to view a battle?"

"Sure. You just said they didn’t get hit."

"Wrong. Humans and like bipedal life forms are hyper-sensitive to leaks from nano-fractures too small to lose air, but enough for at least seven forms of hard radiation."

Almost up to Plenn, now, he bypassed Ibej. "Cadet Plenn, please hand me your leather case."

Almost stunned in appearance, Plenn did just that. Kirk held it up. "If the culture you are now scanning has tons of items like these, a finely made one like this may be a treasure. Or it may not have fine markings, making it an abomination. If you scan none, it may indicate a society that is vegetarian by choice or by necessity. If vegetarian, and yet if they need protein, where do they get it? All questions for the field exobiologist to help their crew answer."

"Sir? May I have that back, now?"

Kirk walked back down the steps. "Cadet Plenn, one of your friends admitted to me before class that they were going to play keep away with your case. So I’m putting this in lock-up until class is over. No need for trouble, right?"

The color drained from Plenn’s face. "No-no, sir!"

"Good. Cadets, I must now contact the head of Serenidad’s security force, regarding the young princes. While I’m gone, Cadet Sulu will continue the lecture."


I wanted to kill him. He’s my friend, and I wanted to kill him. Not once had we discussed doing this. But I knew he must have had a good reason for it, as I didn’t buy that lie about Davie and Jimmy McCoy for one second.

Also, he was back fast.


"Sorry for the interruption, Cadets. Now, the differences between Kh’myr and Segh vav Klingons are far more than ridges and muscle, and point to the unintended consequences of massive genetic engineering and why Earth rejected such a path."

In his fashion, Kirk led the remainder of the lecture to the path of the stars between Earth and Qo’noS and then back again.

"...the simple breeding of which was determined not to be a violation of the engineering treaty, but a survival-bred reaction to the Nile-like periodic floodings of that colony world’s coastal regions. And there we end today’s lecture, Cadets. I am advised by Professor Steen that you already know what next week’s criteria are, so get to studying sometime this weekend. The following cadets are asked to stay. Sulu, Plenn, Mayburn and Ibej."


Now, I was back to hating him. What had I done that required keeping me after? Well, I hadn’t done anything! That wasn’t why we four had to stay. It made me almost wish I had. Hank Plenn looked angrily at Peter as Academy Security entered. They had his case, which Peter had asked them to beam out.


"I thought that you, of all people, would understand," Plenn said.

At the security chief’s nod, Lieutenant Kirk put on a glove and withdrew from Plenn’s case an older, palm-style type one phaser. Mayburn and Ibej gulped openly.

Kirk put it back and shook his head. "That’s the problem, Cadet. I understood you only too well. And it breaks my heart."

The shaken cadet descended, and only seemed alert when two of his likely targets pulled away from him, and not in jest. He looked over. "Sucks to live that way, huh? Living in fear like I had to do all these past few months. I got tired of it. I got tired of being afraid."

Kirk couldn’t let him have that. "But it’s worse to die, Cadet, and even worse to kill. Take him away."

As Academy Security took Plenn away, the lieutenant looked at Plenn’s targets. "I needed Demora as a legal witness to what I’m saying to you. An incident like this one gets a fine tooth-comb. They’ll want to know what drove him to this. So any incidents that were once left to instructor, supervisor or squad leader discretion will now be looked at anew. You might want to consider packing your bags, gentlemen. Dismissed."

They left, no shrugs or sharp words, and with a new image to play out in their nightmares.


Peter just sat there, and if he had cried, I wouldn’t have been surprised. That poor stupid kid had been him, once upon a time. Could he have been me? Maybe not. But it cuts close enough. For all the right reasons, this Academy winnows out those who couldn’t make it out there. But there are times its just a meat grinder, an old world boarding school with spaceships.

We were a while before talking.


"You knew, didn’t you?"

Kirk looked up. "No. I haven’t developed X-ray vision, Cadet. I took a guess, and it turned out to be right. I could just as easily have embarrassed myself and him. Was Plenn your friend?"

Sulu shook her head. "He was nobody’s friend, that I knew of. I think I tried once or twice. He was good at pushing people away."


She smiled. "You saved lives, Lieutenant. Mine comes to mind. Plenn’s? Live or die, he would be ruined forever. Now, maybe he can be helped."

He shook his head. "It doesn’t always work that way. I knew what I did over Dianas was wrong as I did it, and regretted it instantly. I also drew the line at murder. Did you see him? He thought I’d understand. I ruined uniforms and broke noses. He wanted to erase people!" He rubbed his eyes. "It was all just too close. Too close to happening, too close to home. Thank you for staying, Demora."

She looked out the door. "You’re gonna need me even more. Your weekenders are here."

Standing with their father, Doctor Leonard McCoy, were a Disney-bound Davie and Jimmy. But the doctor stepped forward. "I caught wind of what happened. We just can’t leave you alone, can we, son? You want out? This old country doctor can take on the extra work, no problem."

Kirk stood, smiled, and grabbed up his little friends. "I wouldn’t miss this for the world. Mind if we take on extra hands, sir?"

McCoy mock-frowned. "So long as this young lady keeps off the Whirl World Ride, she’s as welcome as can be."

Demora’s sheepish grin made the elder of the two imps aware of Sulu’s childhood shame. "Demora got si-ick!"

They exited, but not before Kirk turned around and looked at the emptied classroom. "Hell of a first day. Welcome back, Mister Kirk."


So that was my weekend. The presence of a phaser is going to have Security nuts on Monday. But for then and there, I enjoyed the company of two warp-capable children, one old country doctor—and Peter Kirk, who is not the perfect warrior depicted on that lame vid.

He’s just my friend, and that’s challenge enough.

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