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