Dear Captain Kirk
by Bruce W. Thompson

Dear Captain Kirk,

Okay, so the ďcaptainĒ bit is jumping the gun a little, Jim, but take it from your favorite big brother-- youíll be earning those captainís stripes before you know it.

Congratulations on your acceptance letter! Starfleet Academy, here you come!

When Momís message reached me at school, I tried to get through on the subspace comm channel, but the tech-heads here said there was an ion storm or something-or-other causing interference. Iíll leave the interstellar phenomena to you ship-bound types. Give me a nice, normal mutagenic plant strain any day! At any rate, since I couldnít speak to you directly, I decided to shoot this note home on the next outgoing mail-data pack. Hope it gets to you before you finish packing.

Speaking of home, take a good, long look around before you leave, Jim. Spare a moment or two to drink in the sights, the sounds, the smells. Watch the sunset over those rolling Iowa hills just one more time. Listen to the cattle in old man Simmonsí field just once more. Ask Mom to whip up some off her famous corn pudding for old timeís sake. Remember where you come from. Remember what home is. Wherever you go, wherever this career youíre starting takes you, home is what keeps you grounded. Itís what makes it all worthwhile. It does for me anyway.

Nobody knows better than me that Starfleetís always been your dream. Iím the one who had to lie awake at night listening to you drone on and on about this planetary survey report or that distant space battle. I saw the look in your eyes when you used to peek out the bedroom window at the night sky. I know how much you want to get out there...how much you want to get into a starship, grab everything the galaxyís got to offer, and claim it for your own.

Iíve been out here for a couple of years now, Jim, and I can tell you from personal experience-- itís absolutely amazing! Youíre about to embark on the greatest adventure you ever known, while youíre headed into the best years of your life. Enjoy it, Jim. Savor it.

I bet it will be all you ever imagined. And perhaps, just a bit more.

Well, Iíve gone on long enough. Iíd wish you luck, but the Jim Kirk I know would never admit to having to resort to luck. Just make us proud, little brother.

It looks like Iím going to get that appointment to Deneva I was hoping for. I hear itís a gorgeous place. Iíll keep you posted.

All my best,
Sam

Cadet James T. Kirk
Starfleet Academy
Building 26, Dorm 147

Regarding your request for transfer to another dorm:

I am well aware of the personality conflict you have with Cadet Finnegan. Indeed, some of the pranks and hazings you have endured are already becoming legendary, no doubt through a fair amount of embellishment on Finneganís part. However, Starfleet has already invested a substantial amount of time and effort in the training of both you and Cadet Finnegan and I see no reason at this time to alter either of your living arrangements.

In other words-- request denied.

If I may make a personal observation, cadet, I believe that a great deal of Finneganís admittedly juvenile attitude toward you is a result of your own...shall we say, straight-laced disposition. Would he perhaps find another target if you were to respond a bit more in kind to his ribbing? If you were to take his antics with a bit more humor?

In other words, cadet-- loosen up.

You may find life a tad more enjoyable.

Admiral Nogura, dean,
Starfleet Academy
Stardate 1250.6

ďCaptainĒ James T. Kirk
Starfleet Academy
Building 26, Dorm 147

I address you in your capacity as commander of the simulated starship Yorktown, Kobayashi Maru training exercise, third attempt.

You pose a thorny problem for me, cadet. Your final solution to the Kobayashi Maru test bent every rule, procedure, and protocol Iíve ever heard of. And probably some even Iím not aware of. How you managed to reprogram the simulator is... Never mind, I am sure I donít want to know.

Obviously, I must frame a response to your actions. On one hand, you deliberately circumvented a test carefully designed to gauge your reaction to a no-win scenario. Do not think for one moment the Academy takes its simulated tactics program lightly. Every simulation we put cadets through has a specific purpose-- to produce the finest starship officers in the quadrant. Starfleet is the first line of defense out the among the hostile stars. We need the very best and brightest manning our ships. Believe me, there are those in the Admiralty who think you made a mockery of those ideals.

On the other hand, I have no doubt that, for many years to come, I will fondly remember the look on Cadet Supervisor Finneganís face when you calmly beamed the Maru survivors aboard and blasted those simulated Klingon ships to smithereens.

The Kobayashi Maru sequence has been a part of the Academy curriculum for decades. Hell, I took the damn thing myself! No one-- and I mean no one-- has ever beaten it before. Iím inclined to think such...innovation deserves some manner of recognition.

Therefore, I am noting the newly-created ďCommendation for Original ThinkingĒ in your record.

I am also assigning you to two weeksí duty in Waste Extraction. Under Cadet Supervisor Finnegan.

Use the time to think.

Admiral Nogura, dean
Starfleet Academy
Stardate 1254.7

Dear Jim,

Thatís right, this isnít a ďDear JohnĒ letter, itís a ďDear JimĒ letter.

After our big blowup the other night, I wanted to get a few things down in writing. Try to sort out some of my feelings before you ship out. Sometimes these things are easier done with a little distance-- either physical distance or chronological distance. Maybe your duty tour on the Republic couldnít be coming at a better time.

First of all, let me apologize for my part in all this. I shouldnít have lost my head that way, anymore than you should have. Yes, we have a serious problem. But itís a problem thatís not going to go away. We both need to buck up and face the facts. All the pissing and moaning we do about it isnít going to alter those facts.

I am going to have this baby, Jim. Itís funny, Iíve never thought of myself as having a strong maternal instinct-- I wouldíve sworn I was the model of a dedicated career woman. But I already feel a...connection to this small life growing inside me. Somehow, I know itís my-- hell, I canít believe Iím going to say this-- destiny to be the mother of this child.

But please donít tell me itís your destiny to be his father. We both know better than that. We both know where your heart lies. Thereís not a snowballís chance on Vulcan that youíd hang around long enough to raise this baby. Your precious Starfleet would never allow you the time or the opportunity to be a proper parent.

Or, frankly, a proper husband.

Look, I donít blame you, despite what I said in anger. I knew going in what your ultimate dreams were. And where they were going to take you. Just as you knew what my dreams are. Unfortunately, our dreams just donít match up very well.

Someday youíll see this was the only solution. I simply refuse to believe that any child can be adequately raised while spending half his life shuttling between parents across the length and breadth of the galaxy.

I will ask only one thing from you, Jim-- please stay away. Let me bring up this child without any pressure from you. I promise Iíll try to keep you informed of our whereabouts. Let you know when events like birthdays and first steps and school dances crop up. Maybe even send you a few pictures from time to time.

Iím so sorry it had to come to this, but please believe me when I say...

take care of yourself out there,
Carol

Jim,

Break out the cigars, my friend... Itís a girl!

How does ďJamieĒ sound for a name? I kind of thought youíd like it!

You better believe Iíll be bringing a transport full of pictures back to the Republic with me. Until then, my daughter and I will be enjoying my leave!

Ben ďDaddyĒ Finney

Dear Captain Kirk,

ďCaptain KirkĒ. Sounds good, doesnít it? Congrats on the promotion, Jim!

The Enterprise, huh? The fabled Kirk luck is running true to form. I was on layover at Starbase 10 a couple of years ago and I saw the old girl come in for a maintenance upgrade. Sheís a beauty! Starfleetís finest!

Jim, I would be pleased and honored to accept your offer to serve as your first officer. Thank you. I mean that from the bottom of my ever-loviní heart!

Wow, can you imagine the two of us out there, running amok across the universe, carving out our own little piece of Starfleet history? Think of the adventures weíre going to have, the places weíre going to see, the worlds weíll explore. Itíll be just like we always dreamed at the Academy-- you and me, together. Itís all before us, Jim-- years of discovery and excitement...star after star...planet after planet...system after system...

. . .

There will be women, right?

See you soon,
Gary

Dear Captain Kirk,

My official welcome to you is in the shipís log. Youíve taken over commands before so Iím sure youíve seen the like-- lots of promotion recommendations and maintenance schedules, engineering specs and computer entries, and blah and blah and blah. Believe me, youíre going to see plenty of that sort of thing over the next five years.

This welcome is off-the-record.

The Enterprise is yours now, Jim. The crewís worked overtime getting her shipshape for your arrival. This lady hasnít looked so good in years. Sheís been scrubbed from stem to stern and gone over with a fine tooth comb. You can thank your new hotshot engineer, Mr. Scott, for that. Although I doubt heíll neglect to remind you.

They say a captain and his ship have some sort of mystical bond between them. I donít know if thatís true, but I can tell you that thereís something...special about this particular Constitution class cruiser. Iíve felt it. On nights when I couldnít sleep, wrestling with some diplomatic problem or agonizing over some crew evaluation, Iíd walk the floor of the observation deck above the shuttle bay...and I could feel it. Or in the Briefing Room as my senior officers turned to me to decide a course of action... I could feel it then. Or when, more times than Iíd care to remember, a somber hush would fall over the ship as news of a landing party casualty spread. I could feel it then too.

Can a starship have a soul? Can she feel? Is she aware of the precious life she cradles within her womb as she hurtles past the stars?

Honestly, I donít know. But I do know the gentle reassurance Iíd get from the soft pulse of the warp engines underfoot. The way the butterflies in my stomach would quiet when the deck plates rattled as we passed Warp 6. The resolve that flooded my being as the stars streaked across the main viewer.

Yes, I guess the Enterprise and I do share a bond. We probably always will.

I know she will serve you with the same honor sheís always shown me.

Take care of her for me, Jim.

God speed,
Chris Pike

Captain James T. Kirk, commanding
USS Enterprise, NCC-1701

Note death of Lieutenant Commander Gary Mitchell, first officer, USS Enterprise, NCC-1701. Service record terminated.

Note promotion of Lieutenant Commander Spock to position of first officer, USS Enterprise, NCC-1701. Service record amended.

Starfleet automated record database
Stardate 1315.6

Dear Uncle Jim,

Just a quick note to check in.

Thanks for arranging my transport to Earth. The trip was really, really long and really, really boring. Thank goodness for that. Iíve had enough excitement to last me for a while.

Leaving Mom and Dad back on Deneva was hard. But I know thatís where they wouldíve wanted to be buried. I know how much they loved the place. Thatís where they were the happiest. Iíll always think of them there.

Grandma says to tell you she misses you. Sheís been great. I havenít always been the best company, Iím sure, but sheís never failed to be there when I needed her.

Thanks again,
Peter

PS-- You were right about the corn pudding! Thanks for the tip!

Dear Captain Kirk,

When I first saw your picture on the Federation news server, I never dreamed I would be writing a letter like this. I promise Iíve never done anything thing of this sort before.

I suppose I had this mental image of what the typical starship captain ought to look like-- a grizzled, well-worn veteran of a thousand space battles. Maybe someone whoíd been out patrolling some faraway sector for just a little too long. You know, somebody who had the look of having breathed just a little bit too much reprocessed air.

Then I saw you.

I donít even remember what the news story was about. Some diplomatic conference somewhere had run into trouble. I recall seeing scenes of a crowd, a milling mass of alien types. Then there was a series of interviews with the participants-- a Vulcan, a Tellarite, a few others.

And then you appeared on the viewer.

Like a bolt of lightning, there was an electric quality to you. You commanded the screen. The reporters, the diplomats, the crowd all faded before you. The reporters were asking you questions but, trust me, I didnít hear a word. All I knew was your face-- that fabulous, warm, chiseled face.

And then you smiled.

Oh my.

Just thinking of it now, I have trouble catching my breath.

Look, I know youíll probably just ignore this letter. I guess you get dozens of these a year. But if you ever get out around the Aldebaran system, and maybe you treat yourself to a little shore leave, why donít you look me up? Iím in the city directory database.

I promise to make it worth your while.

hopefully,

AuíLammae Altortop
Mardoz City
Aldebaran IV

Dear Captain Kirk,

When I grow up I want to be the captain of the Enterprise just like you!

your biggest fan,
Johnny Harriman

Dear Jim,

I thought youíd like to know that Daddy is doing much better. Doctor Van Gelder and the staff here on Tantalus have been great with him and I can see some real progress. Heís finally acting like my daddy again. Itís really been a long, long time.

Thank you so much for helping to arrange his stay here. After Mister Cogley and Miss Shaw agreed on the terms of Daddyís sentence, I didnít know which way to turn. You canít imagine how relieved I was to see you after his final hearing. I know how hard it must have been for you to bring your ship all the way back to Starbase 11. Youíve been great all through this whole thing.

I know I can never really repay you for all your help, but I just want you to know how much I appreciate your friendship to me and your loyalty to Daddy.

Thank you again,
Jamie Finney

My wife died today.

And there was nothing I could do.

I watched, helpless, as she lay upon our marriage bed, writhing in agony. The torment she experienced was a palpable thing. The delicate features that once flushed with passion at my merest touch were a twisted mask of pain. The graceful arms which would reach up and pull me to her bosom wrenched against restraining straps. Even now, her screams echo in my very soul.

All I could do was imagine the beast growing inside her head, twisting and turning its way through her skull. Imagine the pressure building behind her brain stem, driving her deeper and deeper into pain and despair. Imagine her fear as the madness overtook her, as it had so many others before her.

And then, with one last anguished cry and a final spasm of pain, she was gone.

She was my wife, my love, no longer. She was a lifeless gray thing, small and limp and pitiful. I pulled her body off of our... my bed and harvested the eel creature from her brain.

Goodbye, Marla. My beloved. My wife.

This is your fault, James Kirk. My ďdearĒ Captain Kirk. Yours and yours alone.

And with every fiber of my being I swear I will make you pay.

Khan Noonien Singh
journal entry, 2/11/2269

Captain James T. Kirk, commanding
USS Enterprise, NCC-1701

Welcome home, my friend. What a journey it has been!

I find myself recalling the callow youth who first began showing up in my daily reports at the Academy. Initially, there were several rather typical first year incidents involving upperclassmen, then a succession of glowing evaluations as a fine young officer began to be forged. Finally, as more and more responsibility fell on your shoulders, a true starship captain emerged. One of the proudest days of my career was presiding over your command ceremony, then watching your crew pilot Enterprise out of spacedock and on her way.

Now, I have the enviable task of welcoming that crew and that ship home. And deciding upon a proper reward for your years of honorable service.

You may not be aware of this, Jim, but youíve become something of a celebrity in your absence. There must be some esoteric chemistry inherent in the names ďJames T. KirkĒ and "starship EnterpriseĒ. More and more, I see news reports of your missions flashed across my home viewer. Hardly a day goes by when I donít read some item about the famous Captain Kirk and his courageous crew and his gallant ship.

Youíve become a symbol, really. A symbol of Starfleet and the Federation, to be sure, but also a symbol of something more. Greater. Higher. Itís as if you have become the personification of humanityís quest to the stars-- almost like youíve come to represent the sum total of mankindís hopes and dreams.

Perhaps thatís a bit overstated. I donít mean to foist that kind of burden on you. But I believe youíre going to find there will be a demand for you. A demand for your time, for your very presence. For months, in anticipation of your return, Starfleet has been receiving letters of inquiry regarding you. Proposals to fund charitable foundations in your name. Invitations to speak at symposiums. Requests to attend school graduations. To grand marshall parades. To chair conferences on starship battle tactics. I swear, I think some of these people just want to get your autograph!

But more than anything, the public seems just to want you close at hand. Perhaps itís that symbolism I spoke of earlier. Everyone wants the chance to touch the proverbial hem, I suppose. To see a legend up close. And really, thatís what youíve become, whether you wanted to or not-- a legend. And Federation citizens across the planet seem to want that legend here. At home. On Earth. ďBring back Kirk! Bring back Kirk!Ē If I hear that phrase one more time, I may blow a plasma manifold!

What does all this mean for your future? Iím sure you fully expect to be given a extension on your five year mission and sent back out amongst the stars, seeking out that new life, exploring all those strange new worlds. And that is certainly a possibility. But, if you will permit me, I would like to suggest another course:

Chief of Starfleet Operations.

I can hear you now. ďA desk job?Ē, youíre saying. ďYouíre offering me a desk job?Ē Please see this as more than that. More than a promotion to admiral and reassignment to HQ. See it as an opportunity for you to serve Starfleet and the Federation in ways you never dreamed possible. Think of the recruiting tool an Admiral James T. Kirk could be. This could be your chance to influence the direction of the fleet for decades to come. Starfleet still needs the very best and brightest, Jim. Letís forge the next generation together.

I look forward to discussing this in person.

Admiral Nogura,
Starfleet Headquarters
Stardate 6092.7

Captain Kirk:

I have become aware of the appointment offered by Admiral Nogura. If I may be so bold, I would like to offer my assessment of its feasibility.

Realizing that your decision to accept promotion to Chief of Starfleet Operations may well be influenced by my choosing to return to Vulcan and undertake the kolinahr discipline, I must beseech you not to let my circumstances sway your judgment.

I do not leave Starfleet lightly. Indeed, it is the very pain I am experiencing at that thought which leads me to conclude that I have strayed too far from Vulcan enlightenment. Please understand, I do not blame Starfleet or you or even Doctor McCoy. The fault is within me. I must find a way to attain the peace I seek and I believe the kolinahr to be the best path to that peace.

But my path need not be your path. In point of fact, I submit my path should not be your path. I am looking for a certain degree of fulfillment that has eluded me for a long time but you face no such dilemma. You belong on the bridge of the Enterprise. To deny that fact would be illogical. And this is simply a matter of fact.

I know you will weigh your options carefully, but I ask you to consider this-- where does your human intuition tell you that you will be of the most use? Where does your human heart believe you would best honor your training and experience? It has always been your nature to use your human instinct to your advantage. What does that instinct tell you now?

I do not believe I need to invoke logic to answer those questions. I urge you to proceed with caution.

It has been an honor to serve with you and I remain hopeful we will someday meet again.

Spock

Dammit Jim!

Are you out of your gold-braided mind? You should know better than this!

If you think for one damn minute that Iím going to allow Nogura or any other brass-for-brains type talk you into actually giving up your ship, youíve got another think coming! If you donít come to your senses, Iím going to raise such a stink itíll make a wet mugato smell like a rose in comparison!

Of all the hare-brained schemes Iíve ever heard Starfleet cook up, this has got to be the topper. Jim Kirk, anywhere else than the bridge of his ship? If I didnít see the bureaucratic mentality behind this ridiculous idea, itíd be laughable.

Look, I know youíre tired, Jim. I am too. Hell, we all are. So take some leave. Get away for a while. Gamble to your last credit on Wrigleyís Pleasure Planet if you want. But donít let them take your ship away. I know youíre going to miss Spock. If that fool Vulcan wants to skip around the desert in a bathrobe, let him. Trust me, heíll be back. Even heís going to figure out what a mistake leaving Starfleet is. Donít let his mistakes become yours. Donít let them take your ship away. The Enterprise is not Starfleetís anymore. Itís not Noguraís ship. Itís yours. Your heart and soul is in that ship, Jim. You know and I know it. Donít let them take her away.

One more thing-- if you leave the Enterprise, Iím gone too. Not just from the ship. From Starfleet. Iím deadly serious. Thatís how much of a mistake I know this is.

The choice is yours. Make it a good one.

Bones

My love,

Writing these words is the hardest thing Iíve ever had to do. Not because Iíve never ended a relationship before. Iíd be lying if I said that. Not because Iíve never lost someone to another before. Thatís happened too. But I have to admit, this is the first time Iíve lost someone to three hundred and five meters of polyduranium and plasticine alloy.

How can I complete with that?

Please donít bother to tell me thereís a place in your life for both me and Starfleet. You never do anything less than full-bore, from mountain climbing to orbital parachuting. And even as ďjustĒ a teacher and even with the Enterprise ďjustĒ a training vessel, youíre going to give your career your complete attention. Youíll be off to this planet or that system, and Iíll be home. Alone.

Call me selfish if you want, but I need more than that. I need you. I need you to be here. If I canít have that, I see no point in wasting your time or my time in some hollow mockery of a relationship. And youíve made it perfectly clear that I canít have that.

So go on back to Starfleet and your beloved ship. Go back and train those cadets and grade those reports and make those evaluations. Go back and wait for your chance to leap into action again. Whatever need there is inside of you that I canít fill, maybe youíll find it on the Enterprise. Maybe itís been there all along.

Iím sorry to be so blunt, but youíve always said you admire my directness. I sincerely hope you find the answers youíre seeking, Jim. But please understand that Iím not going to stand still and wait for you to find them.

Iíve had your things from the cabin sent to your apartment in San Francisco. Iíve also transferred one-half of its current market value from my personal account to yours. If Iíve left any of my possessions at your place, please forward them to me. You can keep the horseshoe.

I wish you well with all my heart. Take care of yourself out there.

Antonia

Admiral James T. Kirk, staff
Starfleet Academy
Earth

Admiral,

You asked me to let you know how my tour was going on Reliant. While she is certainly no Enterprise, she is a capable vessel, sturdy and solidly built. Captain Terrell is a good man and a fine officer, although he doesnít seem to stir up nearly as much trouble as certain other starship captains I have served under.

You were, of course, correct. It is good to get out from behind a navigation console or a photon torpedo launcher and stretch my space legs. I know that Sulu, Uhura, and I have discussed many times whether we were truly doing our respective careers any good by limiting ourselves to serving aboard the Enterprise. IĎm sure none of us would trade our experiences for all the tea in Russia, but I definitely feel that I will be much more well-rounded officer for having undertaken this mission. Thank you again for your endorsement.

Speaking of our mission, we are about to make course for the Mutara Sector. It has been frustrating at times to meet the exacting criteria of the mission parameters, but Captain Terrell says he has a ďfeelingĒ about the cluster of planets on our survey schedule. Somehow, as first officer, I felt I should have reminded him not to be swayed by his ďillogical emotionsĒ, but I managed to restrain myself.

In any event, the crew is anxious to get under way. As am I.

With any luck, Iíll have the opportunity to buy you a vodka very soon.

Pavel Chekov, first officer
USS Reliant, NCC-1864
Stardate 8128.7

Admiral James T. Kirk, commanding
USS Enterprise, NCC-1701

Jim:

First of all, my sincere condolences on the death of Captain Spock. As a fine officer and a remarkable scientist, he was a credit to both Starfleet and Vulcan. I have reviewed your report and am heartened to know Spock gave his life in the performance of his duty. There is no higher purpose for a Starfleet officer. I know what a personal loss this is for you, Jim. I truly am sorry.

However, Iím afraid we must put that aside for now. Based on Mister Scottís report, I must assume the battle scars sustained by Enterprise are extensive. Even Scotty sounded overwhelmed by the magnitude of the damage. You are hereby authorized to return to Earth spacedock for repairs.

We also need to discuss the Genesis matter at your earliest convenience. Sabers are already rattling over this one, Jim, and theyíre getting louder by the minute.

Admiral Morrow
Starfleet Command
Stardate 8214.6

Dear...

Well, this is embarrassing. I donít even know how to open a letter to you.

Dear Captain Kirk? Seems a little formal at this point.

Dear Father? Thatís really uncomfortable.

Dear Jim? Too familiar.

Sir? I guess thatíll do for now.

Sir,

Before she left for Regula, Mother said I should write you. I think she hopes weíll make up for lost time, although Iíve never really been much of a letter writer. Somehow I canít quite picture you sitting down with a quill and a bottle of ink either. But every journey starts with a single step, as they say, so here goes--

Things have been busy since the Enterprise left Genesis. Captain Esteban and the crew of the Grissom have begun conducting planetary surveys, with some intriguing results. There are geological and meteorological anomalies in the Genesis matrix that I didnít anticipate. Some of the data weíve been compiling has me a little stumped, frankly. I have to admit that I donít like mysteries. They give me a bellyache. Saavik has already started to review Motherís project notes. I promised the lieutenant Iíd give my own records a thorough going over.

Itís my theory that Khan may have somehow altered the Genesis wave before detonation, but Saavik finds that unlikely. She seems more than a little concerned. For a Vulcan anyway.

I hope everything is going well for you. Mister Spock seemed like a fine man, even if I did know him only briefly. His scientific reputation was certainly without peer. In fact, several of his papers were required reading in my course studies at school. Saavik speaks of him in the highest of terms as well. I know how close you two were. Any words I might offer probably seem woefully inadequate, but I would like to suggest that healing will occur. Someday the hurting will stop. After all, if you and I can finally start to share our lives, maybe anything can happen.

hope to see you soon,
David

Dear Jim,

Thanks for contacting me. Let me assure you Mister Kyle has been discreet. Is there an officer who served under you who isnít willing to break the rules for you?

I guess I should let you know about the memorial ceremony I arranged for David. It was a lovely service, if a bit on the small side. My sister and her family managed to make the trip from Rigel. A few of Davidís old schoolmates were there. Several colleagues from over the years. Unfortunately, most of our closest friends were with us on Regula. And we both know what happened there. Of course, the fact that David and I have become persona non grata lately didnít help the turnout, Iím sure. The illegal use of protomatter will do that to you. I think there were more Starfleet security personnel in attendance than anything else, on the off chance that you might show up.

I came very close to blaming you for Davidís death. But, of course, thatís the kind of thinking that kept us apart for years. That kept you from watching your son grow into a man. Please donít torture yourself over him. I know it wasnít your fault. I know now that the galaxy can be a dangerous place, whether youíre on a starship or in a research lab. The Genesis project was as much mine as Davidís, even if I didnít know about the protomatter. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I always knew there were going to be unscrupulous people or hostile governments that would want to get their hands on such powerful technology. Genesis was supposed to be for the betterment of all beings. And even after all that has happened, I still believe the project has potential. All we wanted to do was help alleviate the problems of overcrowding and inadequate food supplies that have plagued beings across the galaxy for centuries. That was always my hope, at any rate. I know it was Davidís hope as well. If he is to have a legacy of any kind, if his death can come have some meaning, I fervently wish it will be that someone will come forward to carry on his work.

Iíve been questioned by Starfleet, of course. Never fear, your location is safe with me. I know Spock needs time to recover from his ordeal. His return really is the most amazing thing Iíve ever heard of. Maybe David and Genesis have a legacy there too.

I know you and your crew are struggling with what your next move will be. Iím sure youíll do the right thing. You always do.

Be careful,
Carol

Captain James T. Kirk, commanding
USS Enterprise, NCC-1701-A

Captain Kirk:

So.

Once again, Temporal Investigations finds itself mired in paperwork as a result of your actions. This is getting to be a habit. A bad habit.

I am not going to waste your time or mine detailing the cascade of timeline hemorrhages that may have resulted from your blatant disregard for temporal procedure. We have been down that road before, you and I. Apparently, you have no intention of letting the petty concerns of the space-time continuum get in the way of your good time.

I donít doubt that youíre enjoying your ďpunishmentĒ from the Federation. How nice that center seat must feel after so many years behind a desk. How pleasant it must be for you to once again be plying the spaceways, blissfully unconcerned with such matters as the sudden absence from the timeline of two fully grown cetaceans. Or a fully grown cetacean biologist. To say nothing of the fact that two of your officers cheerfully handed the formula for transparent aluminum over to what-- for all intents and purposes-- amounted to a stranger on the street!

The mind boggles.

Fortunately for my blood pressure, I am not addressing those issues today. No, instead I have taken it upon myself to account for a particular temporal incursion of your making. Iím sure you consider it a minor matter and that no real harm was done. Again, I find it necessary to remind you that, when it comes to temporal integrity, there are no minor concerns.

And so we come to the crux of the matter--

The eyeglasses.

Just a pair of eyeglasses, you are no doubt saying. Small, nondescript, common. Thousands of similar pairs crafted all over Earth over the centuries. Doctor McCoy owned them once and he will own them again. No harm, no foul.

I would lay out, in detail, the ramifications of plucking this particular item from one century and depositing it in an earlier one. I would, that is, if I thought it would do any good. Or that you would learn anything from the lecture. Fortunately, our department has conducted a thorough investigation of the sequence of events following your merry little trip to that charming little antique shop in the twentieth century. Those glasses were bought and sold no less than twenty-seven times over the years. They traveled around the globe, crisscrossing the continents, touring the old nation-states. They even went out into space and came back to Earth twice! I will not bore you with the extensive research our team of agents had to engage in, nor the details of the mounds of receipts and ancient records they had to pour over. Iím sure you do not care. Instead, I will relieve your limited anxiety by informing you that those particular eyeglasses did, in fact, eventually end up in the hands of one Doctor Leonard McCoy, who for some unknown reason decided they would make an appropriate birthday present for you.

And so the loop was closed.

You were fortunate this time, Captain. Those glasses could very well have caused irreparable damage to the timeline.

Based upon the nearly unbelievable coincidences in this matter, Temporal Investigations has decided to create an entirely new category of temporal disturbance, just in your honor. Some of my colleagues even wanted to call it the ďKirkĒ, but I, frankly, did not wish to give you the satisfaction.

We are calling it ďpredestination paradoxĒ.

I hope you are pleased.

And I desperately hope your name will never cross my desk again.

Guiseppe de Frigga
Supervising Agent
Temporal Investigations
Earth

Captain James T. Kirk, commanding
USS Enterprise, NCC-1701-A

Dear Captain Kirk,

All of us here at Yosemite Park are excited and pleased to confirm your reservation for Stardate 8452.7. May I say how honored we are that you would choose to visit our humble park after seeing all the fantastic sights the galaxy has to offer.

With over two hundred points of interest, Yosemite has always been one of the most beautiful vacation spots on Earth. Our natural wonders and rustic charm are second to none.

We have made special arrangements for you to secure a prime camping area upon your arrival, right at the foot of El Capitan. Iím sure youíll find it to your liking. Your letter of inquiry mentioned an interest in free climbing. If you do not have your own equipment, Iím sure we can outfit you with whatever you need from our inventory.

Again, it will be an honor to serve you and your crew and we look forward to your arrival. We will do everything in our power to make your stay a memorable one.

with warmest regards,
John Muir IV, park director
Federation Park Yosemite
Earth

Captain James T. Kirk, commanding
USS Enterprise, NCC-1701-A

Captain Kirk,

It is not often that I am moved to put my thoughts into writing. I have always been a man of action. A doer. A warrior. But, on this occasion, I find it advantageous to have a written record.

I know that my people and yours have been at odds for decades. Just as I well know that you and I have been willing foot soldiers in that long conflict. In the spirit of cooperation which we achieved during our struggle with the Vulcan Sybok, I ask you to reconsider your Klingon ďenemyĒ.

We can be difficult people, I will grant you. We are often given to posturing and blustering and even a certain amount of skullduggery.

But we are also a proud people. There is a nobility in our steadfast determination to a cause and in our unwavering devotion to duty. I hope that you can look past the years of enmity and see that part of us. Do not let the actions of targ dung like the renegade Kruge, or that pup Klaa, sour your opinion of all Klingons. Perhaps, one day, our peoples can finally find some common ground.

And on that day, I will be honored to fight at your side.

Qaplaí, my friend.

General Korrd
Klingon High Command QoínoS

Captain James T. Kirk, commanding
USS Enterprise, NCC-1701-A

Captain Kirk:

What can one say at a time like this?

It has been my dream to command a starship since I was a child. While I do not regret my tenure aboard Enterprise for a second, I always knew my chance to sit in the center seat would come.

And now that day is here.

Excelsior has benefited from her refit. She is now a tried and true vessel, from stem to stern a product of the best engineering minds in Starfleet. Thank you for allowing Scotty to provide some of his expertise. This ship would not be what she is today without his help. Iím sure he would never admit it, but I think Iíve even caught him admiring Excelsiorís profile a time or two.

Now my ship is ready for the adventure ahead. And I am ready as well. You have made me what I am today, and not just because you recommended me for the post. I am ready because of your training and guidance and advice and example. For these, and for so much more, I can never thank you enough.

I intend to spend every minute making you proud.

It has been an honor, sir.

Captain Hikaru Sulu, commanding
USS Excelsior, NCC-2000
Stardate 9244.7

Captain James T. Kirk, retired
San Francisco, Earth

Whereas your long years of service to the Federation, to Starfleet, to the galaxy at large, have always set the highest standards of duty, loyalty, and honor,

Whereas you have taken your honored place on the roll of the finest officers in galactic history,

Whereas you have now reached the end of your tenure in Starfleet and have retired,

It is hereby resolved that you, James Tiberius Kirk, be awarded the highest commendation possible, the Distinguished Order of the Delta Shield.

Therefore, it is so noted and so proclaimed this day, stardate 9525.3.

Office of the Federation President
Paris, Earth

Captain James T. Kirk, retired
San Francisco, Earth

Dear Captain Kirk:

Starfleet command has forwarded your regrets at not being able to attend the christening ceremony for Enterprise-B. I humbly ask you to reconsider.

For decades, the name James T. Kirk has represented the very finest ideals of Starfleet and the Federation. You have been an inspiration to generations of officers. And now, the true legacy of your career has begun. A new Enterprise is poised to take flight. A new captain has been commissioned. A new crew awaits his orders. This is the culmination of your years of service, of sacrifice, and of devotion.

I can not imagine Enterprise launching without you.

Please join us.

I remain hopefully,
Captain John Harriman, commanding
USS Enterprise, NCC-1701-B
Stardate 9560.8

Goodbye.

That is a difficult word.

I have been saying goodbye to too many people and things lately. A brother. A nephew. A starship.

And now, a kindred soul and companion of far too brief duration.

I have met legendary figures in my career. Emperor Kahless. Samuel Clemens. Sarek of Vulcan. Yet none so personally moving as the man I have just left behind.

James T. Kirk. A starship captain. The starship captain. In so many ways, he was the epitome what of a Starfleet officer sound aspire to be-- brave, loyal, adventurous, and curious.

And yet he was, despite all he accomplished in his extraordinary life, a man. And like all men, he was subject to the petty concerns of life and the limitations of his own humanity.

Yet he always strove to recognize those weaknesses and overcome them. To champion the ideals of the Federation and open up those final frontiers. To boldly go where no one...where no man had gone before.

He died as he lived, saving innocent people. He gave his life in the performance of his duty. He would have had it no other way.

And so we must bid you adieu, our dear Captain Kirk. We thank you for your bravery and your spirit and your example. From all of us who have followed in your footsteps, for all of those yet to come, our gratitude shall be eternal.

Goodbye.

Captain Jean-Luc Picard
Personal log, stardate 48654.7

Why this story failed the Strange New Worlds litmus test

ďDear Captain KirkĒ is, to me, one of those story ideas that sounded pretty good at the time but ultimately lacked something in the execution. A writer of actual talent probably could have crafted a halfway decent yarn out of it.

I suspect I may have been rejected here because there wasnít enough story. My intent was to illustrate highlights from Jim Kirkís career by virtue of his ďcorrespondence.Ē I wanted to show some less obvious viewpoints, hence the use of little seen characters like Gary Mitchell and Admiral Nogura, as well as outright constructs such as the alien babe and the Temporal Investigations agent. Also, I wanted to present of variety of looks at Kirk from varying emotions, ranging from the mentoring Nogura to ďold buddiesĒ Mitchell and Finney, from the wistful tone of the Carol Marcus and Antonia sections to the differing degrees of hostility in the Temporal Investigations and Khan passages. In addition, I made an effort to link one letter to another somewhere later in the ďtimeline.Ē In other words, thereís a payoff from Samís letter in Peterís, Ben Finneyís letter comes back to haunt Jamie Finney, the hope in Davidís note is crushed by Carolís talk of memorial services, and so on. Again, this thematic thread could have been stronger, I think.

I do like quite a lot of this yearís submission, especially the Temporal Investigations guy and the stuff from Carol and David. I think I did a pretty good job of getting each characterís ďvoiceĒ right, the letters from Spock and McCoy, for example. Itís easy to tell whoís ďspeakingĒ just from the tone of each. Those particular notes were a good example of how Kirk drew on both his friendsí viewpoints.

Again, my writing continues to strengthen and mature and I will press on. I intend to make it into that damn book on of these days. And, if I can just outlast everybody else, I will!

Feel free to send me any feedback youíd like: E2JORL@aol.com

Thanks for your time.

Bruce W. Thompson
1/7/02

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