All Our Yesterdays

Posted in Uncategorized on July 18, 2012 by James T. Kirk Bio

 

July 1, 2346

Welcome to the EtherBase portal for All Our Yesterdays, the newly published biography of Star Fleet Admiral James T. Kirk (2233-2293). Here you will find a wealth of supplemental material not included in the book, including chapter excerpts, interviews, rare photos, and unpublished writings available nowhere else. I hope you enjoy these posts, and encourage you to obtain your copy of All Our Yesterdays: The Biography of James T. Kirk through the I.S. EtherBase or via your home publishing hardware.

EARLY YEARS: As Morning Shows the Day

Posted in Early Years, Early Years: Part 1 on January 14, 2013 by James T. Kirk Bio

EXCERPT FROM CHAPTER TWO:

AS MORNING SHOWS THE DAY

The summer that James Kirk turned ten, his father took the boy and his brother Sam on a trip west to see what was even then among the last untamed, open spaces on Earth. Over a six-week period, George and his sons traveled on an odyssey through America’s National Parks; they saw the Joshua Trees in Southern California, watched Old Faithful erupt in YellowstonePark, took a grav-car to the top of Half Dome in Yosemite, and plumbed the depths of the great caverns of Carlsbad. It was the first serious return to public life for George and the boys since the death of Winona, and he knew it was an absolute necessity for the family if they were to make a healthy adjustment to a future without her.

 

The landscapes Jim Kirk encountered the summer he was 10 stoked his love of the beauty of nature.

Yellowstone Park was just one of the landscapes that inspired Jim Kirk during the summer of 2243.

There were other reasons for the trip. First was the worsening of James T’s asthma, which doctors had continued to insist was as much psychosomatic as it was environmental. Although George secretly agreed, his son would brook no such talk – the ten-year-old rejected the idea that he was complicit in his own illness, and steadfastly insisted that whatever bedeviled him, it came from outside, not within. To that end, George felt an experiment could be attempted; six weeks travelling in a variety of environments, and with the glory of nature and rugged outdoor life to keep Jim’s mind off of their recent troubles. One way or another they would discover something of what made the condition tick during their time on vacation. Second was his desire to show the boys what was left of nature on Earth. There was a time when, in the not too distant past, enormous areas of land in almost every state – Iowa, Montana, Wyoming, California – were untrammeled and mostly uninhabited. As late as just before the dawn of the 22nd Century one could still drive the old asphalt roads in certain areas of the American countryside for hours between towns and cities. Now, almost all that was gone, and the only remains of any virgin landscape was the National Parks – presciently put aside as untouchable by visionary men of the 19th Century who somehow understood what might become of those wide-open spaces if nothing was done to protect them.

 

It is not too much to say that this trip into what was made James T. Kirk the man he became. It was here that his interest in history was first manifest; where he discovered the second hero of his life (after his father), and where his great asset of leadership – a diamond hard internal fortitude – was forged.

 

Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919), was the 26th President of the United States (1901-1909) and the chief architect of the preservation of National Parks in North America.

Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919), was the 26th President of the United States (1901-1909) and a tireless champion of the preservation of National Parks in North America.

It all began with George’s dimly recalled shorthand introduction to the great naturalist and politician, Theodore Roosevelt. The former United States President, he explained, was the great champion of these National Parks – the very idea of the National Park system was, in fact, essentially created by Roosevelt in the years that began the 20th Century. It wasn’t a perfect biographical sketch, remembered as it was from his long-ago classes in history, but it was enough to pique the boy’s interest. After the first day in Yellowstone, JT and his brother were overwhelmed. They had seen these natural wonders occasionally on beam programs and in holograms, but it did not prepare them for the up-close sights, sounds and smells of those age-old treasures of nature. In the park gift shop at the end of that first day, James regarded the vast array of books, documentaries and h-vids devoted to Roosevelt. Typical of his desire to embrace his interests fully, he chose a book written in 1950 by Eliot Garner, not entirely foolish in reasoning that the closer the book was written to Roosevelt’s own time, the closer it might be to the spirit of the man. Between sorties deep into the wild countryside that summer, James absorbed the story of this larger-than-life figure of American history. The most startling fact he uncovered in his reading was that Theodore Roosevelt, the great outdoorsman, sporting figure and hunter had, like James, been stricken with asthma as a child. It was an amazing revelation for the boy who had almost begun to believe that he would be forever controlled and dominated by his condition. In Roosevelt he found a man – actually, then just a boy – who refused to accept the sentence supposedly laid out for him. “Mr. Roosevelt decided that he would not become the shut-in that people expected he would be,” young James wrote the following year in a school essay titled Roosevelt and Me. “He vowed to beat asthma and then did it.”[i]

 

The young boy then and there resolved to follow Roosevelt’s example of vigorous exercise, athletic endeavor, and fearless engagement with the life around him. He now worried less and thought more about his opportunity for a positive future instead of dwelling on a difficult past. It was almost certainly the origin of one of his great command strengths (although also rarely a dangerous weakness); that of being able to make difficult choices while putting serious recriminations or thoughts of consequences permanently behind him.

 

During the coming years Roosevelt’s presence in his life was consuming. For a short time his father expected that James might decide on a career as a historian and writer, but the influence of “TR” on him was too strong for that. Taped on the mirror in James’ room during those years was an excerpt from a famous speech that the former President had given in France during 1910:

 

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place  shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory or defeat.”[ii]

 

James T. Kirk did not want to write about history. From then on he meant to be part of it.

 

As for the other member of the trio, Sam Kirk was equally impressed by the natural wonders he saw, but his personality did not need the constant feeding and input of his older brother. His reaction to it was turned inward, such was his solitary, contemplative nature. While James was romping through the parks, brazenly prowling restricted areas and disappearing time and again, Sam made sketches, took holos and wrote copious notes on everything he saw. For his father’s birthday that winter, the boy presented him with a hand made book chronicling the trip.[iii] Sam’s future career as a research scientist – years of solitarily observing, cataloguing and collating data – was the ultimate expression of the difference in nature between the brothers. As the first in birth order James was typically outgoing, self-possessed and driven, while Sam, rather than compete with his brother, charted his own mostly anonymous success.    

 

When the trio returned to Iowa in August, George noticed a marked improvement in JT’s general health and stamina. Marie Severin, a close friend of the Kirk family, recalled that the change was remarkable. “I’d sometimes have coffee with George in the mornings, after the boys were at school, and he was astonished at what the trip had done for Jet. I think he’d begun to get over the loss of his mother, frankly. The fear of not having her there to take care of him was gone. He’d decided he could take care of himself.”[iv]

 

During the next few years, Jet Kirk was regularly testing the boundaries of his newfound freedom. He respected and loved his father, generally giving him no trouble at home, but around the neighborhood and school, a self-assured, sometimes cocky teenager had replaced any vestiges of the timid, frail boy. By the time he was a High School sophomore and had wrangled the starting berth at quarterback for his varsityHigh School football team – known as the Riverside Rapids – “Jet” Kirk was well and truly someone new, and entirely self-created.

 

During that first season behind center, the future admiral took command of a team of men and women for the first time. “He was a natural in leadership,” coach Susan Storm recalled. “He knew how to motivate his teammates to get the best out of them. Tough and harsh with some, thoughtful and encouraging with others. I don’t think he ever thought about it, or studied management – it just came through his desire to win.” That year, the young quarterback broke a series of long standing state records, and the Rapids went to the state finals against a powerhouse big city team, the Des Moines Static. The game became famous in Riverside lore, and made “Jet” Kirk a legend in the small Iowa town obsessed with sports.

Read Part 2 of this chapter coming later this week


[i] James T. Kirk, school essay, October, 2234 (age 11)

[ii] Theodore Roosevelt, speech delivered at The Sorbonne, April 4, 1910

[iii] The book was returned to Sam after George’s death, and was found among Jim Kirk’s personal effects following his disappearance.

[iv] Marie Severin, unpublished interview with Albert Feldstein, author of Kirk & Spock, Duty and Obsession, January, 2391

A PRIMER ON VULCAN SOCIETY – excerpt from Chapter Six

Posted in A SHIP OF THE LINE: Spock and the Vulcans on December 31, 2012 by James T. Kirk Bio

In chapter six, Jim Kirk takes command of the U.S.S. Enterprise from Christopher Pike. It is here that he is introduced to his new first officer, Spock of Vulcan, who will become his greatest friend and confidant. And it is his first encounter with the rites and rituals of Vulcan society…

EXCERPT FROM CHAPTER SIX: A SHIP OF THE LINE

 

The popular image of Vulcans as a cool, emotionless race is a myth. Beneath their carefully manicured facade of logic and intellect is a secret inner life consisting of all the things that compromise humans in myriad form: passion, rage, jealousy, prejudice, desire. Rather than an absence of these base emotions, there is a roiling wellspring of them, kept in check only by a deeply concealed inner struggle for control.

 

It is not widely acknowledged, but on Vulcan crime and sin are not unknown. Periodically – not so regularly as on Earth, but regularly enough – there occur thefts, domestic violence, infidelity, rape and even murder. Through a carefully managed system of institutionalized cover-up and personal pressure, these incidents are rarely spoken of, and never revealed to the outside world. It is among the main reasons for the insular nature of Vulcan society, with outworlders rarely allowed unfettered access, and few natives free to travel or conduct business without the influence of government. There is a saying on Vulcan: “He who keeps counsel only with himself can never be betrayed.” [i]

 

When Jim Kirk first came to know Mr. Spock, he had only a vague idea of what to expect from his Vulcan First Officer. He would be distant, Kirk was told; dispassionate and sometimes maddeningly uninvolved, offering a wealth of facts, but never opinion. Still the common view of Vulcans today, Kirk had no reason to believe otherwise. But as he lived and worked with Spock over the first weeks and months of their service, Kirk began to perceive that the portrait he’d been blithely offered was the product of long standing generalizations, not direct observation. Up to that point (and also subsequently), very few humans had been afforded the opportunity to have direct, long-term personal contact and form a true picture of the Vulcans, not merely a stereotype.  Jim Kirk and his crew were among the first to see through the haze of social distortion both outside and inside Vulcan society.

 

Surak, the visionary philosopher of modern Vulcan society.

Surak, the visionary philosopher of modern Vulcan society.

In their earliest days, the Vulcans had been a savage, brutal race, obsessed with rage, anger and fear. Over a period of centuries, they quite nearly destroyed themselves in a genocidal frenzy of mass murder. It wasn’t until the visionary pacifist Surak surrendered emotion for logic that the Vulcans saw a way to break the cycle that was harvesting wholesale the lives of one of the great races of the Milky Way galaxy.[ii]

 

Surak’s philosophy did not banish emotion. As a thinker and scientist, he recognized that it was impossible to eliminate the involuntary intrusion of feelings that were the core of survival and development of all humanoids. What he did believe in was the ability of the brain to control these impulses. Using complex mental disciplines, he was able to teach his Vulcan psyche to harness the energy of the emotive side of the brain for intellectual pursuits. With a lifetime of practice and resolve taught to Vulcan children from birth, most of Surak’s techniques were eventually relegated to a sub-conscious level, making the Vulcans among the galaxy’s most efficient beings, largely undirected by doubt, fear, jealousy or lust.

 

As he settled into command of the Enterprise, Jim Kirk was constantly fascinated by the mind of his new First Officer. When Christopher Pike left the Enterprise to become Fleet Captain, Spock dwelt on his own basic assumptions about humans. He expected to find a new superior officer who would not understand him as well, and who might compromise his job efficiency through second-guessing or emotionalism. Moreover, he was concerned that his private life might be grist for rumor and scuttlebutt from the top. Instead he found that, like Captain Pike, Kirk trusted him implicitly in his capacity as science officer, and maintained a sense of confidentiality when it came to intimate details of his personal affairs. Perhaps without being fully aware of it, Kirk felt a kindred spirit in Spock’s hyper-attenuated version of his own inner struggle: emotionalism subdued by intellect. Additionally, in Spock he had found the perfect friend: one who would never betray his trust, never judge him harshly in love or war, and who would always – but only when asked – tell him the unadorned, unambiguous truth.

 

The human and Vulcan pieces of Spock’s heritage made his emotional subduction all the more obvious and interesting, but it was not truly a more taxing state than that which most Vulcan’s endure. It was a tale told to Spock – and many others – to manage the image of Vulcan on and off-world. 

 

Ambassador Sarek of Vulcan, father of Jim Kirk's shipmate and friend Spock.

Ambassador Sarek of Vulcan, father of Jim Kirk’s shipmate and friend Spock.

As a charter member of the United Federation of Planets, Vulcan had staffed many Star Fleet ships, but invariably with all-Vulcan crews usually dedicated to science and diplomatic missions. Allowing a Vulcan to serve on a ship whose primary function is in a military capacity was anathema to their race. More dangerous, however, was the potentially revealing opportunity for humans (and other races then trickling into the UFP) to see Vulcans up close, on a daily basis, during the pressure of service, where they might not appear in such a scrupulously manicured light. Thus, when the young Spock made the decision to apply to Star Fleet as an independent agent and was assigned to a military vessel, it created a sensation among his family – particularly his father, Sarek – and various elements among the Vulcan high council. The council exerted intense pressure on Sarek to dissuade his son from the course he had chosen, and the ensuing disagreement created a rift between the two that lasted almost 15 years.

 

After 12 years onboard the Enterprise, Spock knew well the dangers and rewards of a life of deep space exploration. With Captain Pike he had charted innumerable new galactic bodies, was among the first to lay eyes on half a dozen heretofore-unknown alien races and participated in deadly and awe-inspiring battles between armadas in space. He counted himself to be fortunate for such an opportunity. Leaving Vulcan for his position in Star Fleet had been a way to facilitate the fullest expression of his curiosity and talent. His logic told him that to accept anything less – including the life of a diplomat that his father would have inevitably preferred for him – would be a waste of material. His early years on the Enterprisetaxed his abilities to their outer limits, and forged in him a diamond hard resolve to never be caught unprepared, and to take advantage of every opportunity to serve by learning. He couldn’t know it then, but his partnership with Pike on their legendary voyages was simply a prelude to what was to come under his new captain.

 

The secret of Vulcans ability to process and retain information is not one of brain capacity or size. It has been demonstrated that the Vulcanian brain structure is not significantly different than that of humans.[iii] There are two primary factors that account for their incredible facility with information processing; first is the mental disciplines they learn from childhood. For humans, the ability to study complex tasks is limited by the level of mental concentration required to complete such a task. The human psyche can only work at this high level of concentration for so long before being taxed beyond working limits; the sub-conscious mind will continue to seek answers and collate data, but only while the conscious mind rests. As a benefit of their rigorous disciplines however, the Vulcan conscious and sub-conscious are fully engaged at all times, and can thus work indefinitely at an intense peak of focus without the necessity of rest. This, and their need to sleep only two out of every 24 hours, allows them an incredible platform for study and thought. The second factor in the Vulcan mental arsenal is their dedication to logic and science. When Surak charted the course of his brethren toward logic, he eventually banished almost entirely from Vulcan the desire for art and literature. Science became the dominant form of Vulcan thought and endeavor. Artists and writers nearly disappeared from Vulcan society, meaning that there is very little diversion of effort away from the primarily practical and utilitarian. Every generation is expected to engage in a profession or vocation that will result in concrete benefits to the greatest number of people. While the arts are not entirely unknown on Vulcan, they are not as highly prized as in other races, and primarily take the form of beautiful, but utile pieces of furniture, architecture and folk objects. Everything is devoted to logic.


[i] Richard J. Breifer, The Amok Time, draft manuscript of a proposed book chronicling the inside of Vulcan society. Breifer was a mid-level ambassador who lived on Vulcan for five years, taking a native consort and becoming embroiled in the spectacle of Pon-Far, a Vulcan mating ritual. During editing the Vulcan government heard of the project, and local emissaries were able to suppress Breifer’s manuscript. All copies were presumed destroyed until one was discovered among Breifer’s effects after his death in 2324.

[ii] Vulcan’s warlike period occurred roughly between the 1st and 10th Centuries A.D. on Earth. Surak’s philosophical influence took hold in approximately the year 950.

[iii] This fact has led many to infer that humans and Vulcans are closely related genetically, but DNA and RGB data indicate that earthmen descended from an entirely different humanoid ancestor.

A SEA OF TROUBLES: KODOS THE EXECUTIONER, Part 2

Posted in KODOS THE EXECUTIONER, Kodos the Executioner Part 2 on December 19, 2012 by James T. Kirk Bio

EXCERPT OF CHAPTER THREE:A SEA OF TROUBLES

PART 2 (Read part one HERE)

 

The Star Fleet scout ship U.S.S. Titus arrived only four days after the massacre on Tarus IV.

The Star Fleet scout ship U.S.S. Titus arrived only four days after the massacre on Tarus IV.

 

For two weeks, Jim worked almost daily with the crew of the Titus, giving depositions about what he had seen and who he had seen doing it. He was one of just nine surviving eyewitnesses to the actual murders, and his testimony was invaluable in bringing to justice the men who had participated in the killings. One man who escaped punishment was Kodos himself, now merely a charred husk of flesh that offered no answers, simply more questions. There were many theories about what drove the governor to such extremes. Some thought it may have been a form of space madness brought on by a weak ozone layer near the equator of Tarsus IV. Others theorized that a rare disease, contracted in his youth may have been responsible. Most simply decided that he was a dangerous, power hungry despot-in-waiting. Recent investigations however, indicate that there may have been an outside component at work on Kodos and the others in his administration.

 

The exotic fungus that destroyed the grain and other stockpiled food on Tarsus IV killed dozens of colonists before the cause was discovered. What nobody knew at the time, was that although Quadro-dartilin causes death when eaten in sufficient quantity, the human body can tolerate lower doses indefinitely. However, in those lower quantities, the toxicity of Q-D builds up in the brain, and over a period of weeks can cause mental impairment, irrationality and loss of judgement. It is now thought that the supposedly untainted foods that Kodos and his men callously hoarded for their personal use may have also been contaminated. As they rationed these stores among themselves, they would have unknowingly poisoned their reasoning centers, leading to the murderously irrational behavior of October 12th, 2247. But for the knowledge to stop it from happening again, it matters little. History has made its judgement, and Kodos’ name is permanently enshrined in the pantheon of the 23rd century’s most reviled figures.

 

The Titus scientific team collected samples and analyzed the corpses left behind in the governor’s mansion. With DNA and RGR severely degraded from the phaser-induced fires that had consumed the bodies, a positive identification was nearly impossible. The female body was determined to be that of Auneea Kodos to a certainty of 78%. The male remains could only be identified as Governor Nikos Kodos to the probability of 31%. Over the following weeks, as the search for Kodos and his men continued, colonists who embarked for Starbase VII each received both a brainwave and retina scan. No one would be let off-world without their identity being checked. Kodos never appeared. The official Star Fleet report on the Tarsus IV incident determined that the governor had taken his own life upon the realization that the deaths of 4000 people were unnecessary. In spite of uncertain scientific facts and circumstantial evidence, investigators knew that for the surviving families and friends of victims, closure was important for the process of healing. With this report, and the trials of Kodos’ guardsmen, people slowly moved on from the horrors of that deadly day in October.

 

During the weeks after help arrived, Jim Kirk absorbed the routines and protocols of the officers and crew of the Titus. He impressed many as an intelligent, reliable young man, and he was offered duties on and around the ship. It began with simple tasks: acting as a guide for the shore patrols, or finding the other colonists who had witnessed the murders with him. Before other ships arrived there was a shortage of ready manpower, so Kirk was also pressed into service to keep logs and reports of the rations handed out to residents at the local food depot. His liaison officer on the Titus was Lt. Sean Mallory, a 28-year-old Irishman who came from a family line steeped in the star service. The lieutenant took a liking to Jim Kirk, and began telling him tales of the worlds he had visited and the sights he’d seen throughout the galaxy. In particular, young Jim Kirk was fascinated by the fact that Mallory had previously served on the U.S.S. Dauntless with the famous Izarian star ship captain Darius Garth.

 

In 2247, Garth was the shining light of Star Fleet. Only a decade earlier, the primary focus of a Star Fleet commander was either scientific research or military protection, with these functions rigidly compartmentalized between separate branches of the service. Garth was the man who set the mold for the starship captain of the 23rd century as warrior, explorer and diplomat combined in one multi-faceted package. In his career to that time (there were other successes yet to come), Garth had many significant military victories to his name, as well as a series of diplomatic coups not typically associated with star ship commanders. By his own count he had charted more new worlds than anyone in the history of Star Fleet and was a brilliant theoretical tactician who won many battles for other commanders on his planning alone. When Garth defeated the Zantis with his Immelman light-speed turn in 2246, the interstellar media turned him from a brilliant but obscure military captain into a folk hero like unto Ulysses S. Grant or General Hounshu Qui’ong. He instantly became the model for a generation of grounded dreamers, closet warriors and adventurous youth. Among those who fell under the spell of his dynamic story was James T. Kirk, just then unconsciously drawing in the disparate influences that would mold his future.

 

Lt. Sean Mallory of the U.S.S. Titus was an important secondary male influence in Jim Kirk's early years.

Lt. Sean Mallory of the U.S.S. Titus was an important secondary male influence in Jim Kirk’s early years.

By the time that the U.S.S. Titus was ready to leave Tarsus IV, Sean Mallory had taken a deep paternal interest in Jim Kirk. He’d been away from his four-year-old son Kyle for almost eighteen months, and saw something that he wanted for his own boy reflected in this smart, diligent youth.[iii] During the journey back to Earth, Jim Kirk queried Mallory about every aspect of Star Fleet service life. “He was such an impressionable kid at the time. If he was intrigued by something, he took a rabid interest in it. Star Fleet was the thing of the moment.”[iv] The Titus was Jim Kirk’s embryonic training ground – the place where he learned the fundamentals of the star service; the structures, protocols and rhythms of his future.

 

When the ship at last expelled its passengers and crew in New York City, Jim Kirk was alone. His parents and uncle were gone; his older brother halfway across the galaxy on a research planet, and the home he grew up in sold and left behind. As a result, the young boy was made a ward of the United State of New York and billeted in a rooming house near 40th Street and 7th Avenue, across the street from the latest iteration of Madison Square Garden.[v] Sean Mallory arranged to have Jim enrolled in the military prep school, First Fleet Academy, and promised to help him navigate the difficult task of entering Star Fleet when the time came.

 

The first night he stayed alone in New York, Jim Kirk thought hard about what had happened to him over the last few years. “I felt completely detached from everything – those 20 million people surrounding me in the city. For the first time in my life I was alone, and I resolved to accept it. I knew that I was the only one I could count on. If I were going to succeed or fail, it would only be me that could do it.”[vi]

 

During his two years in New York, Jim Kirk devoted himself to getting the grades that would gain him entrance to Star Fleet. The boy had plenty of opportunity to be distracted; swirling around him during those days were events and people that made indelible marks on history. Future Federation president Star-Ahn began his political career in 2248 as the first alien-born president of New York’s then-recently-acquired seventh borough of Long Island. That September, the sensational onstage murder of Broadway actress Trinian Belle captured the deep and long-lasting curiosity of beings throughout the Federation Belt, spawning an incredible array of books, films, and holo-docs about the event.[vii] And on August 11th, 2249 – just as young Jim was starting his second year at First Fleet – Americans watched in horror as Hurricane Yasujiro wiped out New York harbor and destroyed the Statue of Liberty before moving north to wreak havoc on the United State of Nova Scotia. 600 New Yorkers died, and Jim Kirk couldn’t help but relive the awful feelings of what he had witnessed on Tarsus IV. 

The destruction of the original Statue of Liberty captured by news cameras, August 11th, 2249.

The destruction of the original Statue of Liberty captured by news cameras, August 11th, 2249.

In school Jim renewed the nascent interest in engineering that his father had so carefully nurtured before his death. His natural affinity for history, inculcated through his research into Theodore Roosevelt, gave him an important tool in understanding sociology and political science. He also returned to football, winning a berth as the back-up quarterback for the First Fleet squad, whose offense was known locally as “The Big Bang,” for their explosive ability to quickly rack up points. Jim’s old nickname “Jet” was revived when he took over the team following an injury to the first-string QB, John Craig. He engineered a fourth quarter come from behind victory, and two subsequent wins to give First Fleet a playoff berth. Jim stepped aside when Craig returned for the post season, and the team promptly lost to inter-city rivals EarthAirAcademy, 24-7. 

 

Here was the first time that Jim Kirk had the opportunity to see and understand the function of military discipline in a comprehensive way. After a period of “adjustment” he found comfort in the strict rules of the academy; they allowed him to focus his energies on competition, where he could feed his need for validation from an outside source.[viii] It was also the perfect environment for his continuing interest in science, as he devoured classes in physics, calculus, parsonics and astronomy.

 

During those two years at First Fleet, Jim stayed in touch with Sean Mallory. Seeing Jim’s grades and conduct record, the newly promoted Commander kept his promise and pulled on the few strings he had access to in Star Fleet. When the time came for placement, a personal interview would be waiting for him in San Francisco.

 

Following his father’s death, young Jim Kirk was lucky to have a series of exemplary surrogate father figures parade through his life. It began with his Uncle Warren and had now passed to Sean Mallory to momentarily continue the molding and shaping that would set him on the path of success. “I can’t say enough about Mr. Mallory,” the entrant offered at his StarFleetAcademy placement interview. “He’s been such a help to me, and I’m not exactly sure why. He’s just a very good, honest man. Believe me, I’ll never forget it, and I’ll never let him down.”[ix] As with his own father, Jim Kirk did not want to disappoint someone whose respect meant so much to him. The shame he felt from the perceived inadequacies that were observed by his father – however improperly Jim amplified them in his own mind – was a continual source of motivation to keep him working hard at perfection. It is a pattern that is repeated many times in his formative years; that of trying to live up to the high standards that the men he admired saw in him, and often punishing himself for not being able to. It was not that these men thought him inadequate or operating beneath his capacities; on the contrary, they often praised and lauded him. But, like the incident with his father on the football field, when any behavior – however slight – was deemed unacceptable, Jim Kirk took it deeply to heart and it would never be willfully repeated, or seen by anyone who it could embarrass.


[i] Audio pac of psychologist session with Jim Kirk, U.S.S. Titus, October 21, 2247

[ii] Star Fleet entrance interview of Jim Kirk, May 12, 2250

[iii] Kyle Mallory entered Star Fleet in 2260, and was eventually assigned to the U.S.S. Enterprise under Captain James T. Kirk. While serving on the Enterprise the boy died in the line of duty on Gamma Trianguli VI, June 8th, 2267. Jim Kirk sent this note to the boy’s father after the incident that killed his son:

“Dear Sean, I’m sending my deepest regrets for what happened to Kyle. I feel like it could have been avoided, but our business is a dangerous one – nobody knows that better than you. He was a very fine officer, and more importantly, a fine man. I spoke to him more than a few times, and he never failed to give praise to his father for any positive personal qualities he might possess. He did you such great credit.

 Please accept my poor apology. I’ll be in touch when I return next year. Yours…” 

[iv] Interview with Sean Mallory, October 17, 2290

[v] This was the newly constructed 7th version of the venerable New York concert hall and sports arena, built in 2246.

[vi] Notes from aborted autobiography, circa 2285

[vii] Belle’s murderer, Alastair Launder, was eventually deported to the Elba II colony for incorrigible criminals. Among the prisoners he was incarcerated alongside was the famed star ship captain Darius Garth. 

[viii] “Adjustment” is the word used by First Fleet dean Jacob Kamen to describe Jim Kirk’s early troubles at the Academy. In his first month he found himself in two fights, reprimanded as a “FratCat” (academy-speak for cadets who fraternize with other students) and called before Kamen for being awol. After settling down, Kirk’s discipline record is spotless.

[ix] Kirk, 5-12-2250

A SEA OF TROUBLES: KODOS THE EXECUTIONER Part 1

Posted in KODOS THE EXECUTIONER, Kodos the Executioner, Part 1 on December 10, 2012 by James T. Kirk Bio

During 2246, 13-year-old Jim Kirk spent 8 months on the Tarsus IV colony. He was there when Governor Nikos Kodos arbitrarily murdered 4000 residents, in the process becoming known as Kodos the Executioner, one of the most reviled villains of all time. This excerpt recounts Jim Kirk’s eyewitness look at one of the 23rd centuries most notorious crimes.

EXCERPT OF CHAPTER THREE: A SEA OF TROUBLES

PART ONE

On the morning of October 12th, 2246 Jim Kirk woke to the sound of loudspeakers outside his window. The voice that blared from the public address system directed all colonists to assemble in Voltemand Square, just a quarter mile from the hostel where the young boy was sleeping. A few minutes later, Kirk joined the thousands of weak and emaciated colonists skittering towards the city center. On the street there was a corpse, dead of starvation, crooked awkwardly against a street sign; even so, hope was on everyone’s lips, as rumors passed between them that a new storehouse of food had been discovered, or that a supply ship had arrived during the night. Visions of new rations and packages of fruits, vegetables and meats ran through their starved minds.

Jim Kirk was not so certain that this would be the end to their troubles. In the crowd he found his friend Tom Leighton, who was convinced that Governor Kodos would announce some imminent salvation on the horizon. “We thought it was good news – the assembly. That we were at the end of our ordeal.”(1) In the square many older people sat on the street and cried. “Most of the colonists were broken,” Jim said, “and everyone desperately wanted good news.”(2)

 
Governor of Tarsus IV Nikos Kodos, known to history as Kodos, The Executioner.

Governor of Tarsus IV Nikos Kodos, known to history as Kodos, The Executioner.

Appearing on the visi-screen, Kodos addressed the assembled mass of 8000 people. It was not the good news anyone was hoping for. “As of today, star date 2794.7, I am declaring martial law within the colony of Tarsus IV. It is necessary for the safety and security of our colony as we implement measures to resolve the problem we find ourselves in,” he began. “Our first order of business is to divide into work teams. There is much left to be accomplished.” Kodos then asked each colonist to consult their personal data device, which would tell them the location where they should report. Almost half the population – roughly 4000 people – was directed to stay in Voltemand Square, while the rest were dispersed to three other locations. Most were weak and more disheartened than ever, but they followed the order, clearing the area within a few minutes. Tom Leighton and his parents were among the people assigned to stay behind, and Jim told his friend that he’d see him later.

Walking to his destination, Jim Kirk’s natural inclination against authority pulled at the back of his neck. “I had a feeling something was wrong. I couldn’t follow that order just because the governor said so.”(3) Directed to go immediately to a hospital building a mile away, he instead lingered just outside the square with a small knot of other colonists. “We were talking about what might happen next, and if Kodos was right to impose martial law. Then we heard his voice over the loudspeaker again.” Directly in front of the 4000 assembled residents of Tarsus IV, the governor took the microphone. Later that night Jim Kirk wrote down the words that were indelibly etched in his memory from that day forward:

“The revolution is successful, but survival depends on drastic measures. Your continued existence represents a threat to the well being of the society. Your lives mean slow death to the more valued members of the colony. Therefore I have no alternative but to sentence you to death. Your execution is so ordered.”(4)

At this moment a dumbfounded silence fell over the crowd. Most thought they hadn’t heard Kodos correctly, or simply couldn’t believe the order. Almost instantly, however, the whine of phaser fire rang out and the acrid smell of disintegrating bodies dispersed through the air. Across the square people were disappearing wholesale as the beams of Kodos’ security force swept through the crowd. Most tried to run, but the soldiers vaporized them as they bunched together, or as they fell over the remaining limbs and torsos of their fellow colonists. A few of the men who were still near the square tried to intervene and were destroyed for their effort. The 14-year-old future captain scrambled to get out of the pack and go to the aid of his friend Tom Leighton, but just as he broke free a hand grabbed him by the collar and pulled him back. “I don’t know who that man was,” he later mused. “I’m not sure if I hate him or want to thank him, but he saved my life that day.”(5) As the mass execution continued, Kirk and seven others watched silently together as Governor Kodos himself also stepped forward to personally kill men, women and children as they tried to flee the horror around them.

Within four minutes it was done. Over 4000 people had vanished from existence, with nothing more than a few body parts left behind, and the pervasive odor of the cellular disruption of human flesh stagnant in Jim Kirk’s nostrils. The young boy threw up, then sat on the street and cried.(6) Of the 4000 remaining colonists, only a handful of eyewitnesses lived to tell the story of Kodos’ direct participation in the mass murders on Tarsus IV; in that moment they joined a club that eventually became the galaxy’s most dangerous survivors group.

Kodos now broadcast a message to the remaining residents, locked away in their designated holding areas. He attempted to offer comfort, and to construct the story that his actions had been the only possible solution to their troubles. “What has been done is terrible, but it is for the greater good. We are now strong and viable as a community to endure the coming winter. Tonight, food will be distributed and we can begin the process of our continued survival.” Weak and malnourished, the remaining colonists were in no position to turn on their ruthless leaders. When Kotos’ men came along to offer rations, hundreds refused to eat at the expense of their dead friends and family members. In the next days scores died exactly where they sat after hearing of the murders. Jim Kirk likewise refused to eat, relenting only when he discovered that his friend Tom Leighton had survived the onslaught. “I don’t know how he got out, but I found Tom the following day. I think someone just carried him out of there,” he said in an interview years later. “Half of his face was gone – family dead; absolutely awful. But it gave me the strength to go on. I wound up taking most of my rations to him.” Then his voice flattened into a monotone: “I guess they didn’t need to kill him after the deed was already done.”(7)

Anger overwhelmed Jim in the days after the murders. The deep wellspring of temper that he had successfully controlled since his father’s death now came forth with frightening force. After years of exercising an embargo on his violent emotions because of George’s disapproval, he now saw no reason to hide them. The boy’s hatred was so pervasive that he thought hard about killing Kodos, if he could get close enough. At that moment, his own fate didn’t matter to him – if he lived, died, was imprisoned or became a hero, he would take what came with the satisfaction of the knowledge that justice – at least in his mind – would be served. Over the next two days he was consumed with rage against the man who had destroyed so many friends. “Before the murders, Jim and I were just boys,” Tom Leighton said. “After that our youth was gone. It always happens when you first see life the way it really is.”(8)

Jim Kirk’s hatred did not entirely cloud his thinking mind. It was here that he began to consider the very idea of the possession and exercise of power. As a result of this scarring event in his youth, the mature Jim Kirk harbored a deep dislike and suspicion of autocratic, tyrannical men. He had seen the deadly corruption of power, and projected this experience on the hearts of those he saw making rules designed to suit themselves and not others. As a Star Fleet captain he was often indignant of world leaders and societies he considered dangerously arbitrary or dogmatic. More than once his actions against this type of authority nearly resulted in his ouster from Star Fleet, but Jim Kirk made no apologies for his effort to allow beings of other worlds the opportunity for self-determination. He was never able to recognize that others could interpret his own occasional subjective imposition of will as the selfsame problem.

Shortly, the anger and loathing of Jim and the other survivors had nowhere to go. On October 14th, came grimly ironic news in the form of a sub-space message from the Star Fleet vessel U.S.S. Titus. They were en route to Tarsus IV, and would arrive in two days with relief packages and medical care. No one had needed to die. 4000 souls were vaporized for no reason at all.

The meager remains of 4000 victims of the Tarsus IV massacre being prepared for removal.

The meager remains of 4000 victims of the Tarsus IV massacre being prepared for removal.

With the revelation of the imminent arrival of Star Fleet, order began to break down almost immediately. The security crews involved in the slaughter at the square dispersed into hiding, taking with them the untainted supplies they had hoarded inside the governor’s mansion. Two committed suicide on the very spot where they had murdered their fellow colonists. Kodos himself was nowhere to be found, until a group of survivors – including Jim Kirk – broke into the mansion looking for stores of food. There they found two badly burned bodies, assumed to be Kodos and his wife Auneea. “I didn’t feel any satisfaction in it,” he said. “I wanted to see him pay. I wanted everyone to see it. It just made me angrier.”(9)

By the time the Titus arrived on October 16th, only 3868 people were left of the 8042 recorded in a census only four months earlier. The Star Fleet ship quickly stabilized the situation, feeding the colonists and providing medical care for the elderly and very young. It is fortunate that the impressionable 14-year-old Jim Kirk, who saw the corruption of power in such brutal extreme, was also able to observe the positive aspects of that same power. The Titus crew made an immediate impression on the future diplomat. “Captain Chiron took charge with such clear moral authority – he gave everyone confidence. I knew right then, that this was the kind of career I wanted. To be out in the world, helping people in distress, working for something good.”(10)

It would not be unwarranted to say that the awful events on Tarsus IV and their aftermath pointed Jim Kirk towards his future path as a great adventurer and explorer. Since his father died he was a rudderless young boy without the individual tools or proper outside influence to find his way. Here was a confluence of events – tragedy and rescue – that unlocked his heretofore-unobserved wellspring of compassion, and gave him a glimpse into a world where his desire for personal control could be a positive characteristic of his life. The direct, unambiguous need for rules and regulations – and the ability to rely on them – was enormously comforting to Jim Kirk. His road to Star Fleet had begun.

Read part 2 of this chapter HERE.

1) Interview with Tom Leighton, Tarsus IV colony, October 18th, 2247

2) Interview with Jim Kirk [Age 14], Tarsus IV colony, October 16th, 2247

3) ibid

4) Jim Kirk’s handwritten transcript of Governor Nikos Kotos’ proclamation, file of the Tarsus IV massacre, Star Fleet library

5) Psyche profile interview, Star Fleet records, 2255

6) Kirk, 10/16/2247

7) B. Trivers, The Play’s the Thing: The Last Act of Kotos, the Executioner, etherbase, 2288

8) ibid

9) Audio pac of psychologist session with Jim Kirk, U.S.S. Titus, October 21, 2247

10) Star Fleet entrance interview of Jim Kirk, May 12, 2250

PROMISES AND HOPES: RETIREMENT PART TWO

Posted in Promises - Part Two, Promises and Hopes: Retirement on December 2, 2012 by James T. Kirk Bio

EXCERPT FROM CHAPTER TEN: PROMISES AND HOPES

PART TWO (Read part one HERE)

Antonia Demarco, Jim Kirk's romantic partner during 2282 and 83

Antonia Demarco, Jim Kirk’s romantic partner during 2282 and 83

Behind the counter in Toni’s Antiques was a petite, attractive, middle aged woman engaged in a friendly argument with a customer about the authenticity of a local Bannock Indian burial shawl. The Bannocks long inhabited the southern area of Idaho, and Jim’s Uncle Warren collected many pieces from the tribe. Jim recognized the unique weaving pattern common in Bannock garments made before 1900, and joined in the conversation on the side of the owner, Antonia DeMarco.(1) The customer, apparently aware of the identity of the celebrated star ship Captain, accepted his endorsement and immediately purchased the item based on his word. “I assumed he was some sort of professor, or archaeologist from the University,” Antonia remembered. “I had no idea who he was! I was completely mocked for my ignorance, but what did I know about the star service? I’m a girl. I don’t pay attention to that stuff.”(2)

Kirk was thrilled to be momentarily unknown. After twenty years a captain in Star Fleet, he’d gotten used to the basic protocols and rhythms of fame. As important and far-reaching as his life was, it was still an insular life; after a time, there were no places he went where he was not known, no people he met who were unaware of his station. It meant that by sheer repetition he became inured to the taxing mental challenge of always being James T. Kirk. Here, he was grateful to be reminded that he was just a man, and that there were shores he could still find – physical and emotional – where he needn’t be the hero, or the diplomat, or the persona. Only a few months later, when he put down his thoughts about that first meeting with Antonia for yet another aborted memoir he described his feeling with a single resonant word: “Liberating”.(3)

A few days later Jim Kirk returned to Toni’s Antiques and asked the owner to have a drink with him. Intrigued by his good looks and confidence, she accepted the invitation from her new customer. Later that evening they stepped across the street to a local watering hole with the dubious name of Nightmare Town, and it was there that Antonia discovered the identity of the man with whom she was drinking. “When we walked in, my friend Husis – the bartender – says ‘Hi, Jim,’ and starts asking about where he’d been hiding, and had he seen any Klingons lately? Well, that certainly set a few alarm bells off!” she recalled. “Suddenly I realized that he must at least be a space mariner – I mean, how many people at that time had ever seen a Klingon face-to-face? After a little while, I got the message. He was important. Galaxy-class important. I felt like an idiot, but Jim couldn’t have been less concerned about it.” The rest of the town was another matter. That evening, Antonia endured the pitiless ridicule of everyone who walked through the door. “Husis had to tell all of them,” she smiled, thinking back. “It was like not knowing who Star-Ahn was, or maybe Jesus.”

Jim and Antonia hiked these Idaho vistas together for almost three years.

Jim and Antonia hiked these Idaho vistas together for more than  two years.

Within a few weeks, the captain and the shop owner were seen together regularly around Hammett, canoeing the Snake River or hiking the nearby hills. Her budding relationship with a decorated Admiral eventually invited some backlash from Antonia’s liberal, anti-military friends. As a lifelong left-leaning intellectual, she had an image of the character of the military “type” as rigid, uncompromising, aggressive, and rarely thoughtful. Jim Kirk challenged this idea, forcing her to recognize the complexities of diplomacy, science, exploration and protection that were combined in Star Fleet. “It was the first time I had to take into account the character of the person who made the decisions. I knew quickly that Jim Kirk was a good man – and I understood that there were other good people in the service, not just war mongers.” Her circle of friends had similar thoughts about Star Fleet, but it wasn’t long before they too, were questioning some long held ideas. “Jim just charmed the pants off them,” Antonia said. “He never bragged about war, or battles – he followed the conversation as others directed it. He knew history and local lore very well, politics, some poetry and literature, a whiz at science, physics and engineering. And when it came to questions about his service, he talked mainly about the exchange of ideas between races – about learning new things that man wouldn’t know otherwise. That was a revelation to most of my friends. He genuinely thought of himself as an explorer and a diplomat first, and a warrior only when it was necessary.”(4)

As Jim and Antonia grew closer she discovered a deeply entrenched schism in his character: Jim Kirk was a liberal in a conservative’s body. “He’s the world’s greatest humanist – even if the beings are not human. He wants everyone to be self determining and self-regulating,” she observed. “Although sometimes he’s willing to force it on them, whether they like it or not!” For most of his life, Jim Kirk assumed that he knew what was best for everyone, except perhaps for himself. It translated into a paternalistic approach to his command, both shipboard and in many instances of policy and negotiations. Besides the notorious mission on Eminiar 7 that nearly resulted in his court martial, there were many examples of Kirk’s willingness to impose his will on civilizations and societies that he felt were not developing properly. He upended the centuries-old peaceful lifestyle of the indigenous peoples of planet Beta-3 simply because he personally deemed the culture stagnant.(5) At Gamma Trianguli-6 he destroyed the mechanized provider for a group of natives who had known no war or violence in countless generations.(6) They apparently had the temerity to be content with food, play and love, when Jim Kirk felt they should be steeped with ambition and curiosity. On both planets violence returned to the social order almost immediately. It was apparently seen as a necessary evil by the captain of the Enterprise.

By the spring of 2283, Antonia was essentially living with Jim in the cabin beside the Snake River. Little by little they had been growing closer, learning about each others strengths and weaknesses, drawing inspiration from each other and the native landscape around them. Antonia was a near-perfect fit for Jim at this moment in his life. She was uninterested in his station or fame, happily content to roam the few untouched acres they had access to, and indulge his desire for solitude and calm. She also understood that Jim Kirk could not be directed or corralled, and it was this insight that gave him the emotional security to slowly allow her further into his life than almost anybody before. If Antonia saw her mate pulling back, or showing fear, she momentarily retreated to her own home, concentrating on business or friends until he called her for a glass of wine, or a nighttime campfire. When Leonard McCoy came to visit for a weekend in June, 2283, he found a picture of domesticity that he’d never seen his friend in before. “Damned near fell over when I saw it,” the doctor said. “It was like watching Spock laugh. Kinda creepy.”

For two years, James T. Kirk played the role of retired gentleman he had so long romanticized. During the years of his space service, he frequently lamented the lost loves, the simple life unlived, and longed-for the opportunity to make decisions with “no braid on his shoulder.” (“That was his pet phrase, whenever he was tired of the job,” Leonard McCoy laughed.)(7) Having no responsibilities was both his most fervent desire and his greatest fear; on one hand a relief from the constant pressure of lives resting on his decisions, and on the other the sobering reality that his life without Star Fleet made no difference at all. Considering his temperament, it is remarkable that he stayed in Idaho with Antonia for those two years. On the surface, maturity would seemed to have calmed his fears of commitment, but at some point late in 2283, he began to feel trapped and hemmed in, suddenly aware of how deeply connected he felt to Antonia. His first idea was to run as he had so often before; to place distance between he and his partner – a physical manifestation of his metaphorical need to retreat from emotional vulnerability. Instead, for the first time, he chose to try psychological counseling to examine the root of his fears. He did not tell Antonia what he was doing, and the sessions only lasted a few months.(8) Then, in the summer of 2284, the idea of duty once again provided an escape from commitment for James T. Kirk.

It is very likely that Jim Kirk loved Antonia DeMarco, perhaps unlike anyone he had been with before. It is also very likely that this frightened him in a way that he could scarcely comprehend. Learning to confront his fears was a necessity for the captain who encountered the new and strange on a regular basis, but no amount of physical danger ever prepared him for the emotional struggle of giving up control. During his formative years, and those important years of exploration and service, Jim Kirk’s ad hoc framework of emotional protection served him well. With rare exceptions, it allowed him to perform as a complete, highly functioning unit in service of his lifelong objective – creating the person he wished to become. When a powerful obstacle threatened to pull his trajectory off path – most often a woman – he retreated to the lure of duty to avoid missing his target. It meant that he would always keep on the path birthed in the mind of a ten-year-old boy. As a result, one area of his life was richly appointed with experiences and connections; another, deeper one, however, remained undervalued, unappreciated and malformed. In Antonia, however, duty came very close to losing out to love. “She understands me,” Kirk once told Leonard McCoy.(9) It was the highest praise possible for a man who defined the word “love” on his Star Fleet psyche evaluation as “to be understood.”(10)

It would be curious indeed to know what was discussed during those few psychology sessions Jim Kirk indulged in that winter. If Kirk was honest in them, it is likely that his therapist would have seen the classic symptoms of control issues stemming from the loss of a mother at an early age. But if such was the case, it did not help Antonia. Either Jim Kirk did not want to do the difficult work of confronting his fear of loss, or he simply felt too much anxiety at being trapped and obligated by this new life. Looking for a way out, he retreated to the familiar pattern he’d followed so often: he would return to Star Fleet, where Antonia could not follow him.

Jim Kirk probably rationalized his decision to leave Idaho as a response to feeling irrelevant. He was wanted and needed by Antonia, but that was not enough, he reasoned. He read his fears as a simple mid-life crisis, when it fact it was the same crisis he had been dealing with since he was a mere boy. Once he decided to return to Star Fleet, he wasted no time thinking or equivocating. He told Antonia that it was time for him to move on, and that he was moving to San Francisco to return to service. His mate of two years later claimed to be hurt and sad, but unsurprised. “During those two years, I knew that I never had a real hold on him. He was there, and he was a wonderful man, but he wasn’t mine,” she said. “He never was mine.”(11)

When Kirk left the cabin in Iowa, he wrote Antonia a final goodbye:

Tonia –

 

I’m afraid I don’t have anything else to say about my decision. Sadly, it’s final. I’m sorry for both of us, but this is something I have to do for my own sanity – I wouldn’t be much good to you if I stayed anyway. Maybe there’ll still be days for us ahead.

 

I’ll be in San Francisco tomorrow and let you know how I’m getting along.

I still love you – always.

- Jim”

There were no “days ahead.” Jim Kirk and Antonia DeMarco never saw each other again. Their relationship simply became another in a long line of unrecognized failures in Jim Kirk’s life.

 

1) Accounts of this meeting differ – Antonia insisted that argument was over a Nez Perce artifact.

2) Unpublished interview with Antonia DeMarco, circa 2307

3) James T. Kirk, handwritten notes for proposed autobiography, circa 2283

4) Antonia DeMarco, Shore Leave: My Years With Jim Kirk in Idaho, article for Time-Galaxy mediawave, May 11, 2314

5) U.S.S. Enterprise mission report concerning disappearance of the U.S.S. Archon, Star Date 3156.2.

6) U.S.S. Enterprise mission report on survey run and contact with indigenous population, Star Date 3715.3.

7) Interview with Leonard McCoy by Alfonse Fago, unpublished, 2301

8) Psychiatrist’s schedules and bills were found at Kirk’s cabin in Idaho following his death. He had seventeen sessions between March and June 2284. No information is available on the substance of those sessions.

9) Interview with Leonard McCoy, June, 2301

10) Star Fleet psychological questionnaire, August, 2268, declassified

11) Unpublished interview with Antonio DeMarco, August 21, 2295, special collections, University of the United State of Idaho

12) Note from Jim Kirk to Antonia DeMarco, August 2284, special collections, University of the United State of Idaho.

PROMISES AND HOPES: RETIREMENT PART 1

Posted in Promises - Part One, Promises and Hopes: Retirement on November 28, 2012 by James T. Kirk Bio

(This chapter excerpt takes place following Jim Kirk’s second tour of duty aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise, 2271-2276).

EXCERPT OF CHAPTER 10: PROMISES AND HOPES

PART ONE

After another five-year tour in space, Jim Kirk found that his return home to the Admiralty was not what he expected or wanted. Rather than an opportunity to relax, set policy and steer the course of interstellar exploration, he instead found a massive skein of red tape, useless bureaucracy and petty, internecine clique’s bent on salvaging power and influence for themselves. Few of them appreciated the suggestions and direction of the “immortal” James T. Kirk. His own myth now constituted a river running against him.

Star Fleet Headquarters, circa 2276, just as Jim Kirk was returning from his second tour as captain of the Enterprise.

Kirk should have been well aware of the structure of Star Fleet and Federation bureaucracy; he had now spent ten years dealing with it as a commander in the field, and a further two years as chief of Star Fleet operations. However, he never considered himself part of the old-guard hierarchy, no matter how deeply ingrained he was in the power structure. (“Sometimes I think that Star Fleet Command is the greatest conglomeration of dunsels ever assembled anywhere in the universe,” he once wrote to a friend after a particularly contentious policy meeting.)(1) More than once Kirk himself was nearly a casualty of the gridlock between the leadership of the Federation Council and Star Fleet Command. During a diplomatic mission to the planet Gideon in 2268, he was secretly kidnapped and used in a biological experiment that was designed to kill millions of the indigenous population. When the Enterprise requested latitude to search for their captain on Gideon, Federation diplomats and Star Fleet command each forbade such a mission, referring them to the other agency for approval. They appeared highly motivated to protect the mission and their reputations, but not the life of their very valuable captain in the field. A uniquely frustrated Mr. Spock was left to manufacture an unsanctioned course of action that would simultaneously save Kirk’s life and maintain diplomatic ties with Gideon. “We must acknowledge once and for all,” he later opined, “that the purpose of diplomacy is to prolong a crisis.” This, the captain of the Enterprise should have known quite well.

It was perhaps Jim Kirk’s own self-confidence and ego that fooled him into believing that he would not be subject to the stifling restrictions of policy, or the personal politics of the system. Unfortunately, his growing inability to conceal his disdain for certain members of Star Fleet and the Federation council created more troubles for the legendary captain. During the years following his return from his second tour in 2276, he was blocked, guarded and sequestered by elements that had consolidated power while he was light years away. Many of them had never even met the legendary captain, but had their judgement of him molded by others who had axes that they wanted sharpened.

Sitting behind a desk watching other officers and bureaucrats dictate policy exacerbated a vaguely forming mid-life crisis in Jim Kirk – a gathering sense of unease, disaffection and ennui that he could neither understand, nor had the capacity to examine properly. It was left to his oldest friend – at least, the one who was capable of understanding the emotions behind it – to bring it into the open. “When they offered him the Admiral’s position, I told him frankly that it was a mistake to take it,” Leonard McCoy said. “I knew he couldn’t survive there – with someone standing over him every day, watching every move he made. He needs to be out there doing it by the seat of his pants; getting dirty and maybe making mistakes – but for God’s sake, making a difference.” Leonard McCoy – far more so than Mr. Spock, was in a unique position to understand what Kirk was going through. “After that second tour, he told me he’d never go out again. That he was through. I knew he was full of shit. That man never could sit still.”(2)

Jim Kirk made a heroic effort of sitting still and playing the dutiful soldier. For five years he endured a clear diminution of his effectiveness at Star Fleet, but not without retaining a loud voice in the organization. He chose his battles carefully, if not always wisely. The chief friction among policy makers at this time was Star Fleet’s role in controlling the Klingon Empire’s push out into neutral areas beyond UFP jurisdiction. Kirk was among a handful of former service rank officers who had direct, personal experience with the Klingons. These men agitated behind the scenes for stricter measures to contain them, even at the risk of war. Another group of Admirals with less combat experience but greater seniority were in accord with the policy of UFP President Star-Ahn, advocating a provisional approach to encounters with the Klingons, wherever they might take place.

At this time – unbeknownst to Kirk and many others at Star Fleet, the Klingon Empire was undergoing a steep downturn in their fortunes. As early as 2268 the administration of the UFP was aware of the weakness of resources and ready labor within the Klingon sphere. The constant refrain among Klingon diplomats – often discounted by human politicians – was that their conquests were conquests of survival. Considering their subjugation and slaughter of innocent races, it mattered little that this was at least partially true; but the Klingons were indeed primarily victims of their own martial success. As their Empire grew outward, encompassing more and more worlds at more distant points, their personnel and supply lines were stretched thin. As poorer planets entered their sphere (races easily conquered by small fleets, or even single ships), the logistics needed to harvest raw materials and keep the population in line became an enormous drain on their resources and finances.

One solution to this problem was seen first hand by Jim Kirk and his crew, and hardened his deeply held antipathy towards the Klingons for the rest of his life. Around 2270, the Klingons took control of Crandall Orb, a planet rich with botanic and mineral resources, as well as a benign population of over 170 million inhabitants. After decades of diminishing returns from satellite outposts, the Klingon High Command invoked a new policy for the disposition of the latest conquest in their system. As they had done on many other planets, the local commandants chose a few million inhabitants for use in slave labor, the mining and harvesting of those elements that the Empire deemed important. Then, in order to keep the use of existing resources from being wasted on the indigenous population, the Klingons proceeded to exterminate the remainder of the people – over 150 million living souls – in just two short months. Over the next two years they stripped the planet clean, but while taking heavy casualties from the remaining slave population who felt they had nothing to lose. In 2273 the Klingons left the barren husk of Crandall Orb behind. The Enterprise was the first ship to respond to a distress call from the remaining inhabitants. Kirk called what they found “the single most awful thing I encountered in all my travels through the galaxy.”(3)  Just one and a half million beings were left alive, with the rest killed by disease, starvation, exposure, and Klingon weapons.

Klingon mining and resource extraction reduced the surface of Crandall Orb to a swirling cauldron of sulphuric gasses and volcanic eruptions.

Some of Jim Kirk’s earlier idealism died with the people on Crandall Orb. As late as 2268 he was still optimistic about the possibility of working with the Klingons. His even-tempered actions during the manufactured standoff between Commander Kang and the Enterprise crew that year had given the Federation an entrée into secret, ongoing negotiations with the Empire. But his idealism was now gradually calcifying into rough-hewn bigotry. Additionally, the Federation council’s willingness to accept blatant Klingon misinformation about attempting to save the quadrant from a plague disease festering on Crandall Orb sickened him to the core. The political structure had been overrun by men and women who felt that the Klingon question would resolve itself without the need for active intervention. Their galactic Empire would collapse under the weight of its own overreaching ambition, the council reasoned, and the UFP would be rewarded with an insurmountable bargaining position. Meanwhile, as other worlds continued to endure the wholesale murder of the Klingon’s brutal dominion, all that the diplomats would advise – their policy of strength – was to stall negotiations and wait them out. The man who spent most of his adult life actively seeking safety and self-determination for beings of other worlds gradually began to lose his taste for a service that he believed was increasingly disinterested in his own deeply held principles.

In November 2280, Jim Kirk had a frank conversation with his immediate superior, Admiral David Cartwright about his future at Star Fleet. The two men had similar feelings about the bureaucracy of the Federation, but Kirk was never able to warm up to Cartwright’s deep, sometimes violent anger against the diplomatic corps. In particular, his frequent use of the term “political murderers” struck Kirk as somewhat hysterical, if not entirely unjustified.(4) They discussed the possibility of Kirk’s retirement, and Cartwright was sympathetic to his position. But he also implied that changes were coming in the UFP – positive changes that would mean a greater role for Star Fleet, and more latitude for them to dictate policy. Cartwright encouraged him to wait out the following year. Jim Kirk could not fathom what these changes might be, and resolved to follow through on his retirement from Star Fleet. When the enormous, jarring changes that Admiral Cartwright promised did eventually come to pass, Jim Kirk found himself unwittingly trapped in the dangerous heart of events far beyond his control.

The decision to leave the Star service was the most difficult choice that James T. Kirk ever made. Star Fleet served many functions in his life. From his youth it provided him a template for his individual character. It gave him a direction and a goal for his overarching ambition to make a difference in people’s lives. It was the motivating force that kept him striving to follow the model of his heroes Theodore Roosevelt, Christopher Pike or Garth of Izar. And, most important of all – consciously or sub-consciously – it gave him a practical safety valve to embrace or reject life responsibilities as necessary. Duty, the highest calling – when he saw fit – could release him from any personal obligation that he deemed too restrictive to endure. Leaving these defining pieces of his emotional makeup behind would test his ability to live in a world that no longer contained a structure that had been built to protect young Jim Kirk from hurt, pain or loss.

For months Kirk struggled with his choice. “I’ve never had difficulty making decisions,” he joked during an interview on Vulcan Mediawave shortly after he left the service. “But when I decided to retire I was like Hamlet. ‘To be or not to be.’ That was the question.”(5) After three months of vacillation and doubt, his resignation was tendered on June 8th, 2281.(6)

My dear Admiral Cartwright,

      It is profoundly disturbing to write this letter, but in my life I have found it is better to embrace one’s fears than avoid them.

      I have decided to end my 30-year association with Star Fleet. We have discussed some of the reasons behind this choice, and I hope you will accept those reasons as genuine and honest.

      The finest years of my life thus far have been in the service of an organization and people for whom I have nothing but admiration and thanks. If I can be of use to the Corps at any time, I am a ready servant of the cause we all believe in.

       May the next generation look to what we have done during these years with respect and approval.

       Faithfully yours,

       James T. Kirk

       SC937-0176CEC

On his last day at Star Fleet headquarters in San Francisco, Jim Kirk had his belongings packed into a trans-pod, threw a bag over his shoulder and walked towards his Aero for the final flight out. At the last moment before he took off, a friend caught him with some horrifying news. It was June 29th, 2281, the date of North America’s deadliest disaster in over 250 years: the Great Los Angeles Earthquake.

The Great Los Angeles earthquake destroyed at least a quarter of the city and killed over 80,000 people.

Skynet news service initially estimated a possible death toll as high as 100,000 (official tallies eventually came in at 88,000), with over 500 billion credits in property damage. After watching the first news broadcasts, Jim Kirk got into his AC and took off for LA. It was a gruesomely fortuitous event, sending the erstwhile Captain out on a life-saving mission instead of a silent, dour flight back to civilian life. His disaster training, and the organizational skills he learned while managing the holocaust on Crandall Orb were welcomed by the Planetary Disaster Team. For over a month, he worked – without charter – among the dead and the dying, sleeping here and there, filling in wherever needed, leading by example. He made an indelible impression on Dr. Jodin Sorex, a young MD, just beginning his career with the PDT. “It was amazing to see him in person, working directly with anyone who could help or needed a question answered. I saw first hand, the kind of leadership that made him so successful. In a way, it changed my life.”(7) Young Dr. Sorex took Jim Kirk’s passion for service to heart, first with the PDT, then as the President of the Federation Medical Council, where he led the famous think-tank that discovered cures for Vigan Correal Meningitis, Stifficoccus Novi, Xenopolysethemia and Securo’s disease. Many of their advances in life extension and disease control came out of the translation and study of the medical records of the long-dead Fabrini species, discovered and returned to Earth by the captain and crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise.

By early August, the city was in hand. For a short time, Jim Kirk thought he might carve out a position among the leaders of the PDT, but it was not to be. Instead, over the next two years he consulted regularly with the command structure of the newly commissioned Interplanetary Disaster Team, an organization offhandedly suggested by Kirk during his month in the City of Angels. Their first call to action came only nine months after Los Angeles, when rare solar flares interrupted all energy sources on planet Shoemaker-Levy 404. The quick deployment of the IDT saved thousands of lives there, and in subsequent years many more around the galaxy. Since 2281 discoveries in earthquake science and static-pulse correction have made southern California among the safest areas on Earth.

When Jim Kirk finally left Los Angeles, he scarcely had the emotional energy remaining to contemplate his separation from Star Fleet. He was tired, disillusioned, and uncertain of what to do for the first time in his adult life. He retreated to the small farm in the southwest corner of Idaho once owned by his Uncle Warren. Just outside the town of Hammett, nestled on the rich land carved out and irrigated by the Snake River was a deeded property of 12 acres, then still among the largest surviving private preserves in Elmore County. From the cabin on the site, a line of volcanic rock can be seen scratched into the high hills, a remnant from eruptions that blanketed the area with pumice and ash before the civilizations of Vulcan or Scalos were formed. This was the place that James came to most often while on earth, when his tolerance for responsibility was lowest, and hiding from the people who saw him as indefatigable and unflappable was his only option for a few moments of peace.

Warren William Kirk was a lifelong resident of the American west, steeped in the lore of the cowboys and Indians who had roamed those endless hills and fields in ages gone. A student of genealogy and history, he had traced the Kirk line back to the westward expansion of the continent, with gold prospectors and railroad men in their lineage. Among his distant ancestors was Elias Samuel Kirk, an engineer with the Central Pacific Railroad of California who was present at the driving of the golden spike that obliterated the American frontier by connecting the eastern and western rail systems of the United States in 1869.

On vacation at the cabin in the summer of 2240, seven-year-old Jim Kirk got his first taste of this history, as Warren told he and his brother tall tales of the great tribes of the Blackfoot, Nez Perce and Shoshone Indians. He projected his favorite old style celluloid films for the boys, 20th and 21st century dramas of western conquests, and battles between white settlers and the Indians who had lived there for hundreds of years. Names like Roe Traxel, John Wayne and William S. Hart meant nothing to the boys, but the stories of wide-open frontier spaces and the men who tamed them entered into young Jim Kirk’s brain, where they resounded noisily, waiting for a final frontier in which to reenact them. Among his favorites was the 2040 release Doc Holliday, which told the story of the famous 19th century gunfighter and his part in the historic showdown at the OK Corral in Tombstone, Arizona. Jim watched it so many times he could repeat the dialogue line for line.(8)

Now retired and at loose ends, the former Star Fleet admiral first busied himself with cleaning up the cabin, disused since his last visit there almost three years earlier. The art and artifacts that Jim’s uncle had collected over the years infused the space with the flavor and rhythm of western life. Among them were frontier-themed birthday gifts given to Warren by his brother George, a tradition Jim kept up long after his father died. When Warren passed on he willed the cabin and its contents to his nephew, who continued to expand the collection over the years.

On his first morning in Idaho, Jim made his way to town, looking for supplies. With a population of just 2100 people, he could never shake the feeling that in Hammett he was as far away from the heart of civilization as when he was while in the Mutara Nebula or at the edge of the galaxy.(9) It was not an altogether unpleasant feeling to him however; the abject loneliness of deep space often intensified his connection to the people around him. Jim Kirk spent much of his life trying to get away from himself, but rarely so far that he felt alone.

When Jim Kirk arrived in the sleepy town of Hammett, Idaho, it had been essentially unchanged since the mid-21st century.

In Hammett, a new business of any kind was a noteworthy event, and on Main Street, Jim noticed a small storefront gallery called Toni’s Western Antiques. Deciding to look for something new for the cabin, he threw his supplies in the Aero, crossed River Road, passed the local Indian herbalist, and walked through the door at 123 Main Street. What Jim Kirk found there was not art or artifacts, but rather a singularly unique opportunity to let go.

(Read part two of this excerpt HERE)

 

1) Handwritten letter from James Kirk to attorney Samuel T. Cogley, March, 2280. Kirk kept some correspondence with Cogley after the lawyer defended him from court martial charges in 2267.

2) Interview with Leonard McCoy by Alfonse Fago, unpublished, 2299

3) Official report on Crandall Orb from log of the USS Enterprise, 2273. This top-secret classified report was leaked to Hearst’s Federation News Bureau, in June, 2297. The outcry of a public who never embraced the Klingons as our allies resulted in the ouster of a series of UFP politicians.

4) Cartwright used the term in correspondence with Kirk, December, 2280. In his response Kirk was clearly put off, and deemed it an “unfortunate choice of words.”

5) James T. Kirk, Vulcan Mediawave interview, October 12, 2281

6) Kirk claimed to have tried “at least a dozen times” to write his resignation letter.

7) Interview with Dr. Jordin Sorex, Within the Kuiper Belt, December, 2299

8) Kirk’s simple knowledge of the people and history behind the OK Corral incident once proved highly dangerous. While exploring quadrant XR-71, a race of superior beings known as the Melkotians forced the Enterprise crew to participate in a recreation of the gunfight that they fabricated from his memories. Kirk’s personal log entry observed that it was “like living inside the movie.”

9) James T. Kirk, personal recordings for proposed autobiography, circa 2283

EDGING FORWARD: JIM KIRK AT STAR FLEET ACADEMY

Posted in Edging Forward, Part 5, Edging Forward: Academy Years on November 22, 2012 by James T. Kirk Bio

EXCERPT FROM CHAPTER 4: EDGING FORWARD

PART 5 (Read part one HERE)

On February 28th, Ben Finney was assigned to engineering, overseeing the polymass of the atomic pile (matter/anti-matter power planets were only just then coming into common use). Jim Kirk was his relief that evening, and he arrived early to chat with his friend for a few moments. Finney was excited to be only a few days away from seeing his newborn daughter, and not thinking about much else but getting home. The two men talked a little about children, and Finney recalled that Kirk “professed ambivalence for them.”(1) It is only natural that a young man beginning a search for his place in the world – the galaxy, in fact – would be ambivalent, even wary of anything that might inhibit the freedom to choose his life’s path. At this point, a child would have been a life-changing burden for the developing officer. And – probably unexamined and unknown to Jim Kirk, a child would also have represented a challenge to his personal control; something that he knew would not conform to the timetable, the path, or the direction of his future life. For now, at least, children were not involved in Ensign Kirk’s universe.

The engineering bay on the U.S.S. Republic. It was here that Jim Kirk took the actions that cost him his best friend.

At shift-change Finney left and Kirk took over, beginning the routine duties of scheduled maintenance and safety checks. The old polymass generators had many quirks and eccentricities to their operation; circuits to dampen the field were run in relays, and each circuit was checked for signs of burnout on each shift. Partway through his shift, Kirk noticed the smell of something acrid in the air. Only a few weeks earlier, Finney had tutored Jim in the engine room, telling him of an easy way to determine if a circuit to the atomic pile needed replacement or cleaning: there would be a faint odor of burning metal near the switch. Kirk immediately inspected the panel, and found that one of the circuits was not simply damaged or faulty, but had not been closed after the previous inspection. The ship was in no immediate danger – although it might have been, if left unattended long enough – and Kirk closed the circuit and logged the incident in his nightly report.

The next morning, the shift commander called Ben Finney into his cabin and asked him about the error report from the previous night. Finney instantly realized his mistake. He made no excuses. As a result of Kirk’s log entry the man on a fast track to captaincy was instead reprimanded, put on report, and dropped to the bottom of the promotion list.(2)

Ben Finney’s anger at Jim Kirk did not manifest immediately. It took months of gestating to brim over into a brooding antipathy for the man who he believed had betrayed him. Although they maintained a cordial professional relationship, their personal friendship gradually dwindled away to nothing. And in the coming years, Ben Finney told anyone who would listen about the selfish, backstabbing ways of James T. Kirk. Here, another small stream started feeding the headwaters of rumor, innuendo and opposition.

By the book, Jim Kirk’s actions were clearly the appropriate and accepted protocol in dealing with the situation he encountered. And there has never been a hint from anyone but Ben Finney – and those close to him – that there was an ulterior motive behind Kirk’s log entry. On the contrary, as a simple ensign on his first training mission, he could hardly have been thinking about his place on the promotion roster, or the future he was unwittingly headed for. But there are those who maintain that making such a report about a good friend when one might just as easily left it unreported, transgressed the unwritten code of honor between servicemen.  According to Kirk, there was never any hesitation about whether he would log the incident or not. “I was taught the rules,” he said, “and I’m honor bound to follow them.”(3) Once the report was filed he thought long about the repercussions to Finney’s Star Fleet record, but his duty, in this case, was to the service, not the friend. There would be times in the future where he would choose the other path.

1) Error investigation of Ben Finney, U.S.S. Republic, March 1, 2252

2) ibid

3) ibid

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