Where the hell is Star Force 2?

I don’t post on this blog often enough and I should. I apologize. It seems I only post when I have news about my books and never to chat. I will do my best to remedy that… in the future. Right now I’m here to post news about my books.

Yeah, I really deserve a kick in the nuts for that.

The subject for the day is in the title: “Where the hell is Star Force 2?”

In rewrites is where it’s at. I’ve got a good book here but it isn’t there yet. I’m aiming for a tentative release date of December 1rst, 2012. Please note that date is very tentative. I know those of you who’ve read Star Force want that book now.

That’s been made clear to me in no uncertain terms. However you aren’t getting it until I get the book right.

There’s one other thing…

Star Force is a trilogy. It’s been thirteen months since the first book in the trilogy was published and it will be a minimum of five months before I get the next chapter out. I don’t want the gap between books two and three to be as wide as the gaps between books one and two. So I’m hoping to have Star Force 3 halfway done or better by the time Star Force 2 comes out.

So by way of apology for all the delays on the second book and to build your anticipation for the third, here is a teaser for Star Force 3: Return of the Light due in 2013.

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Free Fiction Friday – Star Trek: The Sad Life of Mr. Adventure

Long time, no read. I know, I know I haven’t posted a thing since March. What’s my excuse? I have absolutely no excuse! None! Zip! Zed! Zilch! I haven’t had any news since then. I’ve been hard at work overseeing the latest draft of Star Force 2: The Fire of Hades. I was hoping to have it out by now. Not quite there. The work is coming along but I refuse to see this sucker published before I’m 100% happy with it. So far I’m about 95% there. But you’re not getting that book until I get it right!

No crappy sequels from this writer!

During the downtime I was cleaning up some files and found a short story that I wrote about six years or so back. It was a submission for the anthology Star Trek: Strange New Worlds X. Suffice it to say that my submission was rejected but not unkindly. Dean Wesley Smith the kind and sage editor quite wisely noted that there was no room for that particular story in that particular volume. It just didn’t fit the motif he was creating when he was putting stories together.

Fair enough of course. I had my own original stuff to write anyway. So humbly, I filed this story away.

Until the other day when i read it and realized it was pretty goddamn good. Unfortunately there was no way to get this story published. Pocket is no longer doing Star Trek anthologies and the story itself was so tied in to the Star Trek universe that I couldn’t salvage the story for anything else. I was getting pretty bummed out until I realized that I could just put this sucker out there myself for free download. I don’t own Star Trek so I won’t make a cent from this story but that’s okay.

The most important thing is to be read in the first place. The story is a lot of fun and I want other people to enjoy it took. So out the story is for all of you to enjoy.

I have made the story available in PDF, Kindle format, ePub or plain old text on this blog. I know the book itself won’t be all that pretty but the story is what counts and the story is pretty damn good. Let me know what you think of it. I like it and I hope you will too.

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STAR TREK: THE SAD LIFE OF MR. ADVENTURE

 KENNETH E. CARPER

What makes a hero? Is it the courage to stand up and do what’s right no matter what? Is it the ability to risk life and limb for the good of others? Is it a set of pure moral impulses and ethical beliefs that allows one to rise up and win the day?

This is a question that philosophers have debated for uncounted centuries and will debate for centuries more. It is a question that I now kindly ask you to forget, for this is not the tale of a hero. Quite the contrary in fact. This is the story of what was known in the savage days before the rise of our glorious Federation as a “born loser”.

Cast your minds backwards my friends, back to the glory days of the 23rd Century and the ill-fated tale of a man that history knows only as, Adventure.

The mists of time part for us and we find ourselves in the maternity ward of Starfleet Medical in the summer of 2260. The birthing chamber is calm, cool and soothing. Music is piped into the room to calm the mother as she prepared to welcome new life into the world.

We join the new mother and the new father in the throes of childbirth. The new mother has been in labor for fourteen hours but her agony will soon end. The new father has borne the brunt of her labor for the last fourteen hours. The hand gripping his is strong. Almost too strong. Klingon strong. Luckily his agony will end soon as well.

Or will it?

Look at the new father. A Starfleet captain, so grand in his mustard uniform and earning every gray hair on his head.

His name is Adventure.

Look at the new mother. Her belly swollen with baby and her teeth grinding together so hard that her husband can feel it. Yet despite the agony on her face and the viselike grip on her husband’s hand, her skin glows beautiful in her moment of glory.

Her name is Adventure.

Look at them, husband and wife, bringing a life into this world. The wife’s face strained as she pushes the baby from her loins. The husband’s face strained as she crushes his hand in hers but still finding it in himself to whisper words of encouragement. The doctor tells her to push. Her husband begs her to push.

Look at the baby appearing from her nether regions like a rabbit pulled from a hat. Look at his lobster red face, hear his little screams much like those of his father, they’re the first he’ll make in this great big universe of ours.

They won’t be his last.

Look at the beautiful little baby boy scrubbed, cleaned, placed in his mother’s arms. Watch the slippery little sucker slip free of her grip and fall right on his head.

His name is Adventure. Johnnie Adventure and this is his story.

We cast our minds forward in the time stream but not too far forward, just eighteen months. We’re in a quiet little apartment in San Francisco not far from the bay. The cozy dwelling is at all the type of place you’d expect a family named Adventure to inhabit. But inhabit it they do and it is within that apartment that little Johnnie Adventure is now getting his first taste of… well, adventure.

Johnnie has gone from being a squirmy pink little infant to being a squirmy chubby cheeked little mischief maker. It hadn’t been so bad when he had been a few months old (barring that breast feeding incident that had led to Mrs. Adventure putting her son on formula) but once the little monster had discovered his feet there’d been no stopping him.

How many times had she found him, his hands in the toilet splashing in the strange blue water that he found so compelling? How many times had she begged her husband to put the seat down or at least to flush? How many times did she have to nag before Captain Adventure shipped out on another tour of duty? Scratch that last, it’s not even incidental to our tale.

Anyway Mrs. Adventure realized that the only way to curb her son’s fascination with the toilet was to introduce him to another water source, namely the bath tub. She filled the tub with ice cold water and gave little Johnnie a toy schooner with the legend Enterprise emblazoned on its hull.

Johnnie was delighted with the little ship but even more delighted with the small body of water offered up to him. He brought two fat little fists together exulting in the large splash of water they created. He exulted even more when his mother placed the boat in the water and watched it bob up and down.

Johnnie gave the little boat a push watching it float calmly against the gentle waves of the small tub. He laughed as it floated farther and farther away from him and he waved calling out, “Bye-Bye, boat! Bye-bye!”

He smacked his fist into the water yet again causing a large wave to capsize the boat and he howled as the little ship met her shallow but still-watery grave.

Time moves as slowly as a Denebian Blood Devil when we’re children but it moves as swiftly as the warp engines of a Constitution-Class Starship when we reach adulthood. Well time again moves forward just far enough for us to see how far Johnnie Adventure has come along in the following five years of his life.

Unfortunately the boy hasn’t come too far at all. He still has a fascination with water but thankfully not with the toilet, his mother had been successful in that regard but she’d imbued him with a love of the water that would never be broken.

Johnnie all of six and a half years and a skinny little weasel at that stands proudly at the mast of his pride and joy a small boat with a blood red sail and the name (a name too large for such a small boat) Enterprise.

The Enterprise floated in a large artificial pond in Golden Gate Park. Johnnie exulted as the winds filled the sails of his ship and fueled his journey into the great unknown waters of the Golden Gate.

Johnnie set one foot up on the bow of his tiny vessel proudly,  every bit the figure of a conquering hero, complete with the wind in his hair.

“Where no man —”

Johnnie started at a sudden thud and then jumped as the cool water pooled around his feet. It was that moment that he realized —

He had hit a rock.

“No, no, no —” Johnnie screamed flailing his arms and legs about as his pride and joy sunk into the depths of the great pond.

Flash forward four years, our setting the Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama. The first stop on the educational path to Starfleet Academy. Within the hallowed halls of the camp children had learned about space exploration for three centuries and might learn for three centuries more barring natural disaster, alien invasion or the end of the space/time continuum as we know it. Hey, it’s a big universe and anything can happen.

On this particular day we witness a twinkle of light and the gentle hum of a transporter beam. A family of three materializes in the reception hall of the Space Camp.

Young Johnnie Adventure is now ten years old. He’s tall and gangly with chestnut hair and a gleam of excitement in his eyes. Johnnie after years of capsized vessels and pruned skin decided that perhaps the sea was too harsh a mistress for him so he turned his eyes towards the stars as had his father before him.

Captain Adventure felt a swell of pride that his son had decided to follow in his footsteps and sponsored his application to the Space Camp summer programs.

Like father, like son.

Mrs. Adventure felt a swell as well though it was a swell of relief rather than pride. If her only son had washed up waterlogged on some distant shore she would have had only herself to blame. What sort of mother would that make her? What would her friends think? Of course she now feared that he would die of explosive decompression but that was a fear for another day.

Johnnie’s eyes widened with awe at the variety of life forms present at today’s open house. Vulcans, Andorians, Tellarites and hundreds of children from worlds he’d never even heard of were attending the program. Johnnie was overwhelmed by it all.

What was even more overwhelming was the number of Starfleet personnel present. He saw Captain Matthew Decker and his son a young lieutenant named Willard hobnobbing with admirals Nogura and Turner who both had children attending the program. Johnnie couldn’t believe it! These were people he’d read about or seen on the holovid and now they were there in the flesh.

As amazing as the variety of aliens and celebrities the Space Camp attracted it was the hardware that fascinated Johnnie the most and there was hardware aplenty on display for the students to experiment with.

While Captain and Mrs. Adventure chatted with the Camp Director Johnnie walked over to a computer console. It was completely unlike the domestic computers in their apartment. This was a Starfleet model navicomputer. This was the sort of computer that helm officers used to send the gargantuan ships of the line to amazing and unknown destinations.

Johnnie flashed back to his first trek into the unknown and for a moment he felt a pang of longing for his old sailboat. This was followed by a sudden pang of panic when he recalled her watery fate. Luckily for Johnnie there was little water to be found in the depths of space.

Johnnie sat at the computer trying to remember the navigational coordinates to Vulcan when another boy his age sidled up alongside him.

“Watcha doin’?”

Johnnie (more than a little annoyed at the interruption) glanced briefly at the boy. The boy was tall and not a little goofy looking. He had a vacant expression on his face and a finger lodged in his nose. Johnnie felt a surge of disgust and wondered how in the hell he ever got accepted into the Space Camp.

“What’s it look like I’m doing?” Johnnie figured it would take the nose miner a month to figure it out.

The boy shrugged before answering, “Playing on the computer?”

Johnnie felt anger shoot through him like a thousand daggers. How dare this nose-picking slacker trivialize his pursuits!

“Wrong, genius,” he spouted off. “I’m preparing myself.”

“For what?” the goofus asked.

Johnnie’s irritation grew into full blow mania. He hated stupid people.

“For any and every eventuality,” Johnnie said. “I’m going to go to Starfleet Academy and save the galaxy. I’m going to be a captain!”

The goofy boy took his finger out of his nose looking at it for a moment before placing it back in.

“My dad’s a captain,” the goofy boy said.

Johnnie went cold with shock. How could this misfit be the son of a captain?

“So’s mine,” Johnnie responded pointing to his dad. “Captain Charles J. Adventure of the Grissom.”

The Grissom was one of the smaller science vessels, frequently dispatched on short term research expeditions. It might not be one of the large Constitution-Class ships but no doubt it was bigger and better than anything this simpleton’s father was captain of which was probably a freighter if anything.

“That’s my dad,” the oddball said taking his finger out of his nose long enough to point at a burly man shaking hands with Captain Adventure. “George O. Harriman.”

Johnnie’s feet grew weak. Harriman was captain of the Constitution-Class Farragut. One of the big ships that was rumored to be next in rotation for one of the great five year missions of exploration. Johnnie took a good look at the young man and decided if he’d come from a great man like Captain Harriman he must not be all bad.

Young Harriman smiled taking his finger out of his nose once more and wiping it on his shirt. He extended his hand to Johnnie.

“I’m Johnny,” the nose digger said. “Johnny Harriman.”

Johnnie Adventure couldn’t believe his luck. Not only wasn’t he the only Starfleet brat at the camp. Not only wasn’t he the only tall, gangly kid at the camp. But he also wasn’t the only kid named John. This had to mean something. Stuff like that didn’t happen every day.

“My name is John too,” Johnnie responded shaking his hand. “Johnnie Adventure.”

“I know,” Johnny Harriman responded. “My dad knows your dad.”

Johnnie looked back at Adventure and Harriman who were laughing, no doubt remembering some madcap adventure the two had shared in the past. Johnnie wondered if Captain Harriman picked his nose.

“Did he get you into Space Camp?” Johnnie asked, figuring that it would explain everything, purposely forgetting that was how he got into Space Camp.

“Yep,” Johnny responded proudly. “Isn’t nepotism great?”

The weeks at camp passed like mere hours for Johnnie Adventure. He learned so many great things like the basic principles of warp drive, the history of the universal translator, the operational components of a photon torpedo but most importantly he learned: Never ever leap into someone else’s transporter beam or you were likely to end up with your head where your best friends butt used to be.

Johnnie had to admit that it would be really cool having two heads but it could get to be a little stinky being the butt. I mean which end gets to eat? Top or bottom? And what about making number two? Johnnie didn’t even want to think about that.

Luckily Johnnie didn’t have to think about that. Not today. Today was a fun day because it was the day that Johnnie got to show everyone exactly what he could do.

His favorite subject was engineering and helm control. He loved engines. They were the heart of the great starships. They were what made the ships go. Go where? Anywhere! That was what was so great about them.

Johnnie supposed that the reason he loved the helm was due to his love of sailing ships. Despite the fact that his sailboats could never stay aloft and Johnnie was swimming home more often than not they still represented freedom to him. He could just take off and sail for… wherever!

Well today was the Space Camp’s great Science Fair and Johnnie held in his hands the one project guaranteed to bring home the gold. It was the greatest invention since Zephram Cochrane created a warp capable vessel constructed from spit, bailing wire and the remains of an early 21st Century thermonuclear missile.

The best part of the fair was that the grand prize winner would win a one week trip to the Starfleet Academy in San Francisco and then take a tour of one of the starships in the great space dock above.

The fair was being held in the middle of a wide open field. The humidity was awful but Johnnie didn’t care, he was going to drink his air if he had to. Anything to win. He and Johnny Harriman strode through the fairground looking at exhibit after exhibit mocking one after the other.

Some of them were pretty neat, one of the kids had constructed a hot air balloon out of an old porcelain tub and a large piece of canvas. But compared to Johnnie’s invention that balloon was just full of hot air.

Johnnie’s invention was a twelve inch long model of the starship Enterprise. Though the exterior looked like nothing more than a well constructed replica of the great starship the interior was a rather sophisticated series of repulsors, force fields and sensors that would allow him to not only fly the ship around the field but send it into orbit if need be.

Now in all truth the circuits and sensors needed to accomplish such a feat were not available at the Space Camp but Johnnie figured that was his most ingenious feat. He had asked Johnny Harriman to ask his father for the components needed to accomplish his objective and Harriman had enthusiastically obliged him. Oh yes it was great to have powerful friends and nepotism was indeed great!

The Science Fair began precisely at noon. Ensign Decker (who was a young camp counselor right out of Starfleet Academy) stood at a podium announcing each of the students and their invention, then giving time to the student to demonstrate. It took what seemed to be forever but eventually it his turn.

“Next up is Johnnie Adventure demonstrating his model starship!”

There was some laughter from the bleachers. All Adventure could come up with was a model kit? Johnnie nodded knowingly at the crowd.

“Prepare to be dazzled,” he proclaimed holding the starship above his head with one hand. With the other he pulled a remote unit out of his pocket and hit the activator stud which enabled the repulsor. Johnnie lowered his hand but the model stayed in place.

There was some small applause from the audience but nothing astounding. The hot air balloon was still more impressive at this juncture.

“Now let’s show them what this baby can do,” Johnnie said with a grin. He manipulated the remote unit sending the model half a mile into the air. This drew astonished gasps from the audience but he soon drew even more astonished gasps and even screams when he sent the model hurtling back towards the bleachers.

Now it’s true that the model was only twelve inches long and made out of a light plastic-like substance but it was traveling at such velocities that it was a deadly object or it would have been had Johnny not handled the controls with such ease that it leveled out just inches above the heads of the terrified audience. The small vessel whipped past them with such startling speed that it caused the hairs on the tops of their heads to smolder.

“You buzzed ‘em,”Young Harriman said bowled over by Adventure’s bravado. “I didn’t know you could do that. Did you know that you can do that? Did you know that I didn’t know you could do that? Did they know that you knew that you could do that?”

Adventure was proud of Harriman’s awe and even more proud of the fact that the audience that had laughed at him so mockingly moments before was now dead silent and staring at him.

“Maybe we should run,” Johnny Harriman whispered into Adventure’s ear. “I think they’re going to kill you.”

The audience rose, Johnnie tensed and then as one they began to applaud him. Johnnie Adventure knew at that moment that there was no need to show the other exhibits because he’d already won. They could pin the ribbon to his chest and send him to Starfleet Academy right now. The Science Fair was over, of that Johnnie Adventure was certain.

Johnnie was wrong. As he took his second and third bow for the audience he’d neglected to use his remote unit to call the model back. The model spun out of control colliding with the hot air balloon above them. The model sliced through the balloon like a hot knife through butter. The balloon expelled it’s helium into the atmosphere sending its deflated remains down onto the field covering the student body, the judges and Johnnie Adventure in a great shroud of canvas.

Suffice it to say that despite his ingenuity Johnny Adventure did not win the Science Fair that or any other year.

They say that part of growing up is dealing with life’s little humiliations and learning from them. If this is true then one would assume that when Johnnie Adventure reached manhood he’d be the most grown up of us all.

Well you know what they say about making assumptions. Johnnie Adventure spent every summer for the next decade attending Space Camp and generally getting himself in more trouble than you can give expulsions for. Luckily over that decade his relationship with John Harriman and the newly minted Admiral Harriman had grown closer and Adventure had found himself better able to weasel out of even the most dire of circumstances.

Some would say that Johnnie Adventure had the luck of the devil. Others would say that the devil wasn’t stupid enough to get himself in that much trouble in the first place. I leave it to you to pass judgment on Johnnie Adventure but I beg of you, be kind, history has been a harsh enough judge indeed.

Thanks to the recommendations of both Captain Adventure and Admiral Harriman, Johnnie Adventure found himself accepted into Starfleet Academy at the age of seventeen. He was a cadet accepted into their elite new advanced engineering program.

The day Johnnie bid farewell to his parents his father whispered a word of advice in his ear:

“Don’t make an ass of yourself, Son. For the love of God, don’t.”

If only he had listened. Alas . . .

It is May 12th in the year 2281 and Johnnie Adventure’s twenty-first birthday. He is in his senior year at the academy and graduation is just days away. He’d aced every test and kissed every rear he could put lips on. He not only passed but he obliterated his engineering finals and it looked likely that he would be posted to one of the big ships as assistant chief engineer. Johnnie Adventure’s future looked bright. But first he had his history final to pass.

Of all the subjects he’d had to learn in his four years at the academy without a doubt his least favorite was history. Paradoxically his history instructor was also his favorite instructor, his idol, everyone’s idol. The best. His history instructor was one Admiral James Kirk.

Adventure had grown up faithfully watching Kirk’s adventures via excerpts of his ships logs. He’d had the eye of the Federation and earned its citizens admiration and gratitude.

Oh yes, Kirk was a man whose respect Johnnie Adventure lusted for. Alas this was not to be as Kirk’s first love was history and history was Johnnie’s bane. Too bad, as I’m sure Kirk could have told him those who fail to learn from history are damned to repeat it.

That was the story of Johnnie Adventure’s life.

Johnnie fought to keep his eyes open during Admiral Kirk’s lecture but it was a losing battle. He’d put in a double shift at the Academy shuttle pool. He got extra credit on his astronavigation course simply for shuttling the bigwigs up to space dock. It had seemed worth it at the time but it was finally taking its physical toll. His eyelids were too heavy and he was too weak to keep them open. He stopped resisting and fell asleep and dreamed of himself lying naked in a pasture of nicely sheared sheep. How long he lay in that pasture he didn’t know, he might never know, the next thing he did know is that he heard the sound of a man clearing his throat. And clearing it most dramatically.

The field of sheep faded from Johnnie Adventure’s vision and he found himself staring into the rather bemused face of Admiral James T. Kirk.

“I’m not boring you am I, Cadet? Kirk asked with a hint of humor in his voice.

Johnnie not only felt his heart skip a beat but he felt it rip out of his chest, run for the nearest spaceport and book a flight to Rigel VII.

“N-No, Sir,” Johnnie’s voice quavered. “I was just r-resting my eyes.”

“Funny thing about resting your eyes,” Kirk said with a smile, “when your eyes rest they give your tonsils one hell of a workout.”

“I-It won’t happen again, Sir,” Johnnie vowed. And it wouldn’t. Kirk seemed to take Johnnie at his word and placed his hand on his shoulder as if to let him know that the matter was forgotten.

Johnnie felt his face burn with embarrassment but he didn’t care. He simply placed his face in his hands before thumping his head gently against the desk sixty or seventy times.

His good friend Cadet John Harriman slapped him on the back chuckling not at all unkindly.

“That’s why I like you, Johnnie,” Harriman said. “You make me look good.”

Johnnie wondered if Harriman would stick his finger up his nose. Harriman abstained.

“Just look at you,” Harriman said raising a mug full of a pale ale in Johnnie’s honor. “When we first met, you were just a little kid with big brains and an ego the size of a nebula. Now you’re a man, a Starfleet Cadet, with big brains and an ego the size of a nebula. How do you do it?”

Johnnie rolled his eyes at his old friend and took yet another shot of whiskey. His fifth shot of whiskey. The bar was bright and neon colored. The drinks were watered down. The patrons were all Starfleet cadets. Not only were they Starfleet cadets but they were all friends of Johnnie’s come to celebrate not only their upcoming graduation but the birthday of their buddy and their pal. And now each and every one of them were laughing at him. That was an affront his nebula-sized ego would not allow.

“It isn’t easy maintaining a static personality,” Johnnie said. “But I credit my success to my good friends and most notably you, John.”

Harriman looked touched and even blushed.

“Me, Johnnie?” Harriman looked like he was about to cry. “How?”

“You helped me with the mundane aspects of day to day life. I never had to blow my nose with you around. You’d just stick your finger up there and clean it for me.”

Johnnie grabbed the now thoroughly deflated Harriman in a bear hug.

“Thank you, John. I never could have turned out this mediocre without you.”

Johnnie kissed Harriman on the cheek accompanied by the guffaws of all of their friends.

“I mean seriously man,” Johnnie said with a wink and flexing of the nostril. “Were you mining for dilithium or what?”

Harriman rubbed his finger along the bridge of his nose almost sheepishly.

“I-I d-didn’t pick my nose,” Harriman stammered. “It was just itchy.”

There was another round of laughter and Johnnie was happy for a change that it wasn’t directed at him. The laughter was short-lived however as he heard the chirp of his communicator. Johnnie stepped out of the bar and flipped it open.

“Adventure,” he said.

“Adventure, this is Shuttle Control,” the monotone voice responded. “Stand by for transport. Priority personnel has requested your services.”

Johnnie felt his feet wobble. He was off-duty. He was drunk. Worst of all it was his birthday.

“Negative, Shuttle Control,” Johnnie slurred. “I c-can’t. I’m —”

“You can’t what, Cadet?” the controller growled. “I repeat, Priority personnel has requested your services. That means an admiral. That makes it an order. That means you, Cadet, will stand by for transport. Is that understood?”

“Aye, Shuttle Control.” Why the hell not? They were going to beam him over one way or the other.

As it turned out the “Priority personnel” was Admiral James T. Kirk himself. After their encounter in class Kirk had checked Adventure’s record and discovered that he was a rather accomplished young pilot. As fate would have it Kirk had need of a pilot that evening. He wanted to take a lady friend of his on a romantic voyage along the coastline. At the conclusion of the trip he was going to take the most important step in his life and ask her to marry him.

Johnnie Adventure sat behind the controls of Kirk’s private yacht, the Mayweather. He felt the world spin around him and he closed his eyes to make it stop. This made the vertigo that much worse. He regretted having five shots of whiskey that night. Oh, how he regretted it. He knew that alcohol killed brain cells it was only now with the Admiral’s arrival being most imminent that he realized he hadn’t enough to spare.

That did it. He was going to contact shuttle control and let them know the truth. He wasn’t going to be able to fly Admiral Kirk anywhere. He was too drunk damn it. You were never supposed to drink and fly. Johnnie wobbled to his feet.

“No need to rise on my behalf, Cadet,” Kirk said stepping aboard the yacht. He had a lovely woman on his arm. She had a face like a porcelain doll and wore civilian garb. “This isn’t business this is pleasure.”

“Antonia,” Kirk whispered into the lovely woman’s ear. “Make yourself comfortable. I‘ll be back.”

Antonia smiled at Kirk kissing him on the cheek briefly before stepping into the cabin. Kirk watched her go obviously lost in some deep reverie.

“Burning the midnight oil, eh, Cadet?” Kirk asked.

“Admiral?” Johnnie had no idea what the flag officer was talking about.

“Let’s just say I put in a few extra shifts in the shuttle pool when I was your age,” Kirk said. “Commendable, Cadet. Keep up the good work and you’ll find yourself going places.”

Johnnie was so astonished to receive a compliment from his hero and his head was so full of cotton from the whiskey that he simply watched Kirk join his lady-love in the main cabin all the while forgetting that he was going to pull out of the trip.

The Mayweather lifted off from the Academy shuttle pool as smoothly as poop through a goose. Though Johnnie’s reflexes were dulled he knew where everything was. All he had to do was keep his eyes on his flying and everything would be all right.

The yacht flew past the Golden Gate bridge which was bathed in a nimbus of orange light. The sun was setting and soon it would be night. Pitch black eternal night. Night time. Sleepy time. Bed time.

Johnnie Adventure lay naked on a soft silver cloud that felt like the most comfortable pillow he’d ever lay on in his life. He was hundreds of miles above the Earth. He was so close to the moon and the stars he could almost touch them. Johnnie reached out to grab a star but it burned him. He yowled in pain stumbling backwards falling off of the cloud.

The ocean lay beneath him and he fall into its calm cool waters. Johnnie flailed and splashed about and looked up into the angry face of Admiral James Kirk.

“What the hell happened, Cadet?” Kirk demanded sloshing his way through water up to ankles. Johnnie sat up his head bleeding and realized that the yacht sat in the middle of San Francisco Bay.

“Jim,” Antonia said stepping into the cockpit in tears and terrified. “You lead too dangerous a life. I can’t marry you.”

Kirk actually looked as if he’d been slapped across the face and Johnnie flinched. He felt almost as though this was all his fault. Antonia started to cry and Johnnie joined her. Not only had he sunk yet another ship but he just knew this would affect his history score.

As it was this incident did have an effect on his history score and every other score he’d earned in the last four years of studying at the Academy.

The one thing that saved Johnnie Adventure from expulsion was his friendship with the Harriman family and his own familial relationship with the newly minted Admiral Adventure.

A compromise had been reached. Rather than expel Johnnie they would simply force him to repeat the semester at Starfleet Academy. Which semester? Every semester. Johnny Adventure at the age of twenty-one was now a first year cadet at Starfleet Academy once again.

Isn’t nepotism great?

The funny thing about Johnnie’s punishment was that despite the embarrassment (and the fact that it set his career back four years) it allowed him to relive his glory days again.

He was back in the advanced engineering program and was a favorite of his professor, Montgomery Scott. Scotty who had gotten himself into trouble a time or two, “After a few wee nips o’ Scotch,” had taken pity on Adventure and made him a teacher’s aide. By the time he’d reached his senior year he’d been promoted to the rank of lieutenant. It was during that time he had become good friends with Scott’s nephew Peter Preston which brings us to 2285 and the wrath of a genetics superman from the past known only as Khan.

Johnnie Adventure grinned at Peter as they worked to reroute the coolant flow to the Enterprise’s engines. It had been a smooth little training cruise and had really allowed him to strut his stuff.

He was certain that he was going to be assigned to the new starship Excelsior as assistant chief engineer on Scott’s recommendation. He just had to prove that he was competent enough to handle the position. He’d worked hard to erase that blot on his record and he knew that it was just a matter of time before Starfleet took notice.

“Hey, Pete,” Johnnie said handing a hydro spanner over to Preston. “What do you say we —”

There was a massive explosion and Johnnie found himself lying flat on his back. He heard the red alert klaxon go off and he knew the ship was in trouble. When faced with a life or death situation Starfleet officers are trained to respond accordingly. They were trained to weigh all possible alternatives and then select the one that would allow them to survive. The one thing they are not trained to do was panic. It was moments like this that Starfleet officers find out what they were made of.

“We’re all going to die,” Johnnie screamed running as the coolant tank he had been tending burst open. Peter Preston looked back at his fleeing friend scornfully.

          “Get back here, we’ve got work to do!”

Johnnie turned around screaming hysterically when Peter grabbed him and slapped him hard.

“Get it together man, we’ve got to save the ship!“Johnnie felt himself sobbing in shame at his friend’s scornful gaze for what seemed an eternity when another explosion hurled him off his feet and put him into a coma that lasted a week.

When Khan attacked the Enterprise we found that the measure of Johnnie Adventure’s manhood was only as big as his mouth. When it came time to stand up and prove himself a man he failed utterly. But there was a hero in that engine room that day. There was a man who stood up and dragged Adventure to safety and then went right back to his post and sacrificed himself so that others might live. That young man’s name was Peter Preston.

Unfortunately only the good die young.

When Johnnie Adventure woke from his coma the Enterprise had already returned to Earth and his less than heroic actions had left another blemish on his record.

The good news was that after eight long years he’d finally graduated from Starfleet Academy. The bad news was he wasn’t going to be assigned to duty on Excelsior.

He wasn’t going to be assigned to duty on any Starship. No, he was going to spend the remainder of his career as a transporter operator at Old City Station in San Francisco. And he was going to be working the night shift.

The job was very low on responsibility and very high on tedium. Nobody ever transported from Old City Station. Nobody. He’d never have a chance to strut his stuff for the brass. Never.

The high point of his career at Old City Station was when Commander Uhura of the Enterprise had volunteered for duty. He had hoped she’d have many tales of high adventure from her days with Kirk. Alas she was short on anecdotes and high on keeping to herself. One night Johnnie took it upon himself to start a conversation. It was to put it mildly the start of an interesting night.

“You amaze me, Commander,” Johnnie said leaning back in his seat clasping his hands behind his head.

“How is that?” Uhura responded.

“A twenty year space veteran, yet you ask for the worst duty station in town. I mean, look at this place: this is the hind end of space.”

“Peace and quiet appeals to me, Lieutenant,” Uhura hinted with a gentle smile.

Johnnie couldn’t believe what he was hearing. This was a woman who’d encountered Greek Gods in space and faced down gargantuan planet killers. Did she get soft with age?

“Well, maybe that’s okay for someone like you whose career is winding down,” Johnnie said tactlessly. “But me: I need some challenge in my life. Some adventure… Maybe even just a surprise or two.”

Uhura smiled in an almost sly manner at Adventure.

“You know what they say, Lieutenant. Be careful what you wish for, you may get it.”

Johnnie Adventure did indeed “get it.” Moments later Admiral Kirk and a few of his colleagues showed up with no destination orders and no encoded identification. He just arrived and expected to be beamed directly to the Enterprise.

When Johnnie tried to put a stop to it Uhura pulled a phaser on him and he ended up spending the night in the closet.

A few days later Johnnie found out that Kirk had stolen the Enterprise and then detonated her above the newly formed Genesis Planet which also detonated.

Johnnie couldn’t prove it but he suspected this was Kirk’s revenge for the Mayweather incident.

Johnnie was relieved from duty pending the findings of the Genesis Committee. It was during that point in time that a gargantuan probe appeared from out of nowhere and tried to change the eco-system of the entire Earth. The results were high humidity and an unprecedented rise in the growth of fauna planet-wide.

Johnny was able to sit it out and say in all honesty: “At least they can’t blame this one on me!”

 

Following the incident with the Probe Starfleet discovered they had a shortage of engineers on hand. Most tenured engineers had been assigned either repairing ships damaged by the Probe or repairing the damage to Earth’s cities. It was during this time that Johnnie Adventure managed to nab a temporary reassignment to the Yorktown which was taking up space in Space Dock.

It was his job to head the maintenance crews that would get the Yorktown back into operational shape so she could take her new crew and her new name and designation: U.S.S Enterprise, NCC 1701-A.

The moment Johnnie stepped on to the ship he knew that he would not only get her running as good as new, he’d get her running better than ever.

“Come on,” Johnnie said to his crew. “Let’s see what she’s got.”

 

USS Enterprise, shakedown crew’s report; Montgomery Scott recording. I think this new ship was put together by monkeys. Oh, she’s got a fine engine, but half the doors won’t open, and guess whose job it is to make it right…

 

 

After the less than flattering performance reports that came back from Commander Scott, Johnnie Adventure was lucky to find a job servicing toilets at Starfleet Command. But service them he did and he did a bang up job until the year 2293 when his old friend John Harriman received his first command. The ship’s name: U.S.S Enterprise, NCC 1701-B.

          Adventure realized he’d finally get the chance to prove himself on her shakedown cruise as the ships Deflector Control Chief. Johnnie appreciated the faith his old friend had shown him. Harriman had only a few words to say to his friend: “Don’t make an ass of yourself, Johnnie. For the love of God, don’t.”

Those that don’t learn from the mistakes of the past are damned to repeat them. Truer words have never been spoken.

Red Alert klaxons blared ship wide and Johnnie found himself again locked in a closet.

“Tuesday,” Johnnie groaned. “If they’d only waited until Tuesday to send us on this shakedown we wouldn‘t even be in this mess.”

The shakedown had started idyllically with Captain Harriman giving the press a spin around the system just to show them what his ship could do.

Adventure even got a chance to shake hands with Captain Kirk who didn’t seem to remember him and Scott who did and none too fondly. Adventure decided to give those two a wide berth for the duration of the voyage.

Then they had responded to the distress call of a group of El-Aurian refugee ships that had been caught in some sort of energy ribbon. Harriman’s brilliant plan to get the El-Aurians out of the ribbon was to go into the ribbon and beam them up. Now the Enterprise and the El-Aurians were going to die.

And they said I screwed up, Adventure thought. Suddenly inspiration hit him and he realized that if he could reconfigure the deflector relay to emit a burst of energy it could actually help them break free of the ribbon.

At last! My big chance!

Johnnie stepped into the supply closet to grab some tools when the power suddenly went out and the door locked behind him.

No! Not in my moment in glory!

Johnnie stood there brooding for several minutes. Suddenly the power came back on and the closet door slid open revealing the remains of the deflector relay room.

Johnnie was surprised to find that there was a jagged hole in the bulkhead. For a moment he feared he’d be sucked into space and then calmed when he realized the force field failsafe had kicked in. Harriman, Scott and a former Enterprise officer named Chekov were gazing out the hole into space.

“My God,“ Chekov gasped. “Vas anyone in dere?”

“Aye,” Mr. Scott responded his voice choked with grief. Adventure wondered what had happened during his absence so he approached them.

“Did I miss anything?”

Harriman gave him a dirty look as if to ask him where he had been. Adventure felt his face flush and he turned to Scott and Chekov.

“Wow, big hole, huh?” He reeled from the men who gave him a look that seemed to say that perhaps it was he who was the big hole.

There’s a saying that goes: “Oh how the mighty have fallen.” Johnnie Adventure didn’t have far to fall. The maiden voyage of the Enterprise-B signaled the end of Adventure’s space faring career.

The Harriman family had proven to be no help to Johnnie after this latest misadventure. Admiral Harriman had used up every last bit of influence he still retained just to allow John Harriman to retain his command. There was nothing left for Johnnie. He’d even begged the now retired Admiral Adventure for help and had received a one word response.

“Retire.”

Captain Kirk had died saving the Enterprise-B but it had been Johnnie Adventure’s career that had died in a blaze of glory.

Johnnie Adventure never gave up on his dreams of… well, adventure. He spent the next 79 years of his life as head of maintenance at Starfleet Academy servicing toilets and trying to prove himself as an officer.

Finally in the year 2364 a kindly captain who remembered the elderly officer from his time at the academy took pity on Old Johnnie and offered him a post on his ship. The captain was Jean-Luc Picard and his ship the USS Enterprise, NCC 1701-D.

The adventures of the Enterprise-D and indeed those of Johnnie Adventure came to an end in 2371 during a journey to the world of Veridian III.

Old Johnnie was servicing the potty on the engineering deck when Enterprise engaged a Klingon Bird-Of-Prey that was almost as old as he was. In the end the Enterprise was victorious but mortally wounded. Power went out in the engineers latrine and Adventure was stuck in it.

He sat there for hours knowing it would all be over soon. For the first time in his life Johnnie Adventure was right. He peeked out the window of the latrine and saw the saucer section of the Enterprise hurtling away at breakneck speed. He finally realized that he was the only man left on the star drive section when he heard the computer announce: “Warp Core breach in 5, 4, 3, 2 —”

“Why me? Johnnie asked.

 THE END

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My First “Thank you” For the Anthology

I just wanted to thank “Monty” for his nice review of The Tales of the Star Force Anthology. It was the first ever review of the anthology and I was proud that it was a positive one. My favorite part of the review was that although he read all of the Tales separately, Monty felt they flowed and read much better as a single book. The standalone Tales were separated narratively by several months or years but I still tried to inject a sense of progression into each standalone so that one could see the growth of Jack Pierce from teenager to the hero of his son, Captain Jonathan Pierce. Glad to know I succeeded. I thought I had but you never really know until someone tells you. Thank you, Monty. I truly appreciate all you kind words and I am honored that you liked my stories so much you had to read them twice.

4.0 out of 5 stars The Tales of the Star Force Anthology,March 3, 2012
Amazon Verified Purchase(What’s this?)
This review is from: The Tales of the Star Force Anthology (Kindle Edition)

I enjoy the writing anf the flow of the story. The funny part is I read the series first before the complete book. Even through I read the series first;I found reading the story (Tales of the Star Force Antholgy)allowed the un-interrupted flow of the story line which I enjoyed very much. I really hope there are more books of this calibre coming soon.

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A Fond International “Thank You”.

I always appreciate it when my readers take the time out of their day to leave a review for my books. It means the experience of reading my words and discovering my characters and their world meant enough to them to take a moment and say a few words about it. I confess my heart pounds like a jack hammer whenever a new review appears.

Well this next review is particularly exciting for me because it’s my first review from across the pond. Over on the Amazon.Co.UK product information page for Star Force I had the pleasure of reading Woody‘s fine review which I’ll share with all of you:

5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable,5 Feb 2012
This review is from: Star Force (Kindle Edition)

To sum up the book it was a mixture of the original star trek with the heroic captain battling unbelievable odds, marinated through with wit.

The Bezerkians have a large bounty on Captain Jonathan Pierce’s head, so when he needs parts for his ship after narrowingly escaping from a larger menace what does he do…… go straight to the Bezerkians’ planet! Accompanied by a strange assortment of colleges, a giant rock man, a monkey type pilot,a doctor, a hard nosed marine named Cleopatra and a prototype robot who is as full of himself as the Captain…. I won’t give anymore away.

Good range of characters and situations makes this a good read which makes you smile.

“Frank laughed knowingly as Pierce struck a mock-heroic pose”

Thank you for all your kind words Woody. They mean everything to me. What’s the point of writing if you don’t know how your readers are reacting to your work. Yes, I am an attention whore. Thanks for noticing and thanks even more for reading.

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Ho! Ho! HO! How ’bout a FREE eBook Under the Tree?

That’s right another free eBook this month! Hey, Santa ain’t the only fat guy feeling generous this month! This time out the free eBook is appropriate for the Christmas season! That’s right! For three days only I’m offering FREE OF CHARGE the one, the only, the classic…

From December 24th ’til December 26th 2011 you can download Tales of the Star Force: Dark Night of the Snowman for free at Amazon.com! The only thing I ask in return is that if you like the book a little then leave a review! If you like the book a lot then maybe you’ll also enjoy The Tales of the Star Force Anthology or the full length novel Star Force! Hey, buy copies for your friends and family members as well! They make great gifts!

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How would you like to read a FREE eBook?

That’s what I thought. As a wise man once said, “Free is a very good price!”

"Hey, I think they're talking about me!"

Tales of the Star Force: Stay of Execution is free at Amazon.com from Monday December 12th 2011—Hey, that’s today!—until Friday December 16th.

Friday's coming fast so you better come an' get me!

If you enjoy Stay please show your appreciation for the free read by leaving a review or even better buy a copy of The Tales of the Star Force Anthology or the Star Force novel. Hey, we starving writers gotta make a living too!

Season’s readings!

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Thanks Again

I just wanted to offer my thanks to Sixiron who posted a review of Star Force over at Amazon.com. At first I was apprehensive when I read the title to the review (Buck Rogers meets Space Ballsreally?) but I relaxed as soon as I read the review.

It wasn’t a rave by any means but it wasn’t a pan either. I would say that it was a middle of the road review where some aspects of the book (such as story and characters) worked for the reviewer but as a whole it didn’t click for him 100%. It seems the humor was a sticking point for him. I found this observation fascinating. The other reviewers singled out the humor as a strength of the novel whereas Sixiron felt it a distraction from the action. It was a lovely contrast and quite important I think.

When you read a review of my work at Amazon I want you to get a good idea of what you’re getting. The three reviews be they three, four or five stars accurately represented my book. Star Force is a quirky, funny, emotionally-charged roller coaster ride of a novel. If you want a popcorn movie for the mind then Star Force is it.

But don’t believe me. Read the reviews

3.0 out of 5 stars Buck Rogers meets Space Balls,November 30, 2011
By
Amazon Verified Purchase(What’s this?)
This review is from: Star Force (Kindle Edition)

No, thats not right either. More like Galaxy Quest with sex and gore. The underlying story is new and fresh, and the characters are quite interesting and some what unique, but the constant comedy became distracting. The writing is good and it reads quickly, but a few times the comedy got in the way of the action where you lost track of what was happening, but you knew everyone was seconds from death but they could still crack a joke about it.. It would have been a better book had the constant quipy comedy been cut in half. I have hopes for the next in the series, I’ll buy it.

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