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Star Trek: Freedom's Price
(© Robert Denham)

Page 2

McCoy dropped himself into the easy chair and folded his arms. "I’m hungry; thought you might want to go down and grab a bite to eat with me."

Kirk pursed his lips at the thought and gazed at McCoy, one of his oldest friends and former shipmate. He grinned. "You just don’t want to go down and get stared at by the crew, all by yourself." He lifted his cup in McCoy’s direction. "Would you like a cup of coffee? It’s good; I can vouch for that much."

"Sure, thanks; cream, no sugar." McCoy noted that Kirk’s hair, while still for the most part its natural brown, was at last beginning to show deep flecks of gray and white, peppering the darker locks. About damn time, he thought, with mild humor.

Kirk rose and went to the replicator slot. "Coffee, cream;" he said. In seconds, he’d returned with the steaming cup. "It’s incredible, really; all you do is say what you want, and the replicator takes over from there. No more data disks. McCoy nodded approvingly, expressed his thanks and took a tentative sip. "Not bad."

"You said you were hungry; how about some cookies to go with the coffee?" Kirk returned to the replicator slot. "Computer;" he said.

"Working," came the natural-sounding reply, a relaxed, youngish male voice.

"What kinds of baked goods—specifically, cookies—are available?"

The computer voice reeled off a list of the types of cookies it had available for consumption. Kirk paused it at oatmeal raisin.

"Oatmeal raisin cookies," he said, a tad mockingly, "…for the healthy choice…doctor…?"

McCoy made a comically disgusted face; "Hell, no; oatmeal’s something you eat for breakfast, not in a cookie. And I hate raisins."

Kirk grinned; "What, Bones…you don’t want to live to be 110?"

The doctor shook his head; "Why the hell would anybody wanna live to be that goddamned old? Make it chocolate chip…dark, not milk or white…with nuts. Good old Georgia pecans, not walnuts or those damned macadamias."

Kirk chuckled and placed the order, which was affirmed; in seconds, a plate of six large, warm cookies appeared which he presented, with a flourish, to the skeptical doctor. McCoy took one, broke it in half, made a show of fastidiously dunking it into his coffee, and bit into it. His face registered impressed pleasure. "Pretty good, for a hunk of circuits. But then, compared to the food on our old ship, it could only get better."

A comfortable silence descended between the old friends; no awkward searching for a topic to address. They sipped their coffee and munched their cookies, and simply let the quiet spin out around them.

At length, and with a heavy sigh, McCoy spoke; "This is boring…I don’t think I’ve ever been on a starship where the trip was so boring."

"That’s because you’re used to being on duty on those starships;" Kirk replied, his tone lightly matter-of-fact. "You’re used to holding a post; having a job to do. Here, you’re just a passenger."

McCoy shrugged and nodded sluggishly. "I guess," he said, his voice muffled behind the rim of his cup, raised to his lips.

Kirk bit his cookie and smiled again. Silence, once more.

After a few minutes, McCoy sat forward and gazed at Kirk; "So, why’re you holed-up in here? There’s a whole ship, chock-full of adoring Starfleet personnel awaiting the opportunity to catch a glimpse of the legendary James T. Kirk." He grinned sarcastically, and with a slight flourish of his own, took a short, exaggerated tug at his coffee, then raised his cup, slightly, as if in salute. "My old buddy Jim, muse to a generation of Starfleet cadets."

"That’s why I’m holed-up in here," Kirk said mildly and without hesitation and rose, turning to the viewport and the beautifully, colorfully warp-dopplered stars sliding past beyond. He stared out, and sipped from his own cup.

"I can remember my father telling Sam and me about the year he spent as First Officer of the USS KELVIN, under Captain Richard Robau; how boring it was. ‘Nothing exciting ever happened on the KELVIN’, he said. Told us it was the longest year he’d ever spent at a posting. As soon as an Executive Officer position came open on the REPUBLIC, he put in, and was transferred."

[ Continue to page 3 ]

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Genre:Science Fiction
Type:Long story
Rating:9.14 / 10
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