My winning entry from July:
Author’s Note: This story takes place shortly after the events of the TOS episode, “The Ultimate Computer” and takes place within my Star Trek: Lexington continuity.
The space station’s gym was packed—standing room only as crews from four starships crammed into the tiny facility, surrounding a twenty-four foot roped in square ring. Standing in one corner of the ring, wearing gold and white boxing shorts was James T. Kirk, the captain of the USS Enterprise, receiving last minute instructions from his coach, Lieutenant Commander Montgomery Scott, as his corner-man, Dr. Leonard McCoy stood by. “Dinnae take Commodore Wesley lightly, Sir.” The engineer warned in his thick Scottish brogue, “He may be ten years older than you, but he’s got a longer reach an’ he was the Academy boxing champion.”
“Yeah, Jim.” Dr. McCoy interjected, “Take advantage of your speed. Get in quick, hammer him with flurries, then get back and do it again. Wear him down.”
In the opposite corner, wearing black shorts with gold trim, Commodore Robert Wesley, the captain of the USS Lexington
stood, jogging in place and loosening up, getting advice from his people: Commander Alexei Kuznetsov, the Lexington’s first officer, acting as his coach stood along with Captain Dodge of the Hood, who had volunteered to act as his second.
“Kirk’s an in-fighter.” Dodge warned, “He’s fast and agile too. But you’ve got him on reach and you’re a more powerful puncher. Try to keep him back until he begins to tire; then let him in and tag him.”
“Da.” Alexei agreed. “He will try to lure you in close so that he can pummel you with left hooks and uppercuts. Try to stay in a semi- or full crouch. Use your left jab to keep him away. If he gets through, cover and try to hit him with combinations.”
As the bell sounded, both fighters approached each other. Kirk, seeking to take advantage of his youth and mobility, darted in, trying to work his way past Wesley’s jabs, but with minimal success as the older boxer danced out of range, using his longer reach to keep the younger man at bay. Shrugging off a left jab to his jaw, Kirk retaliated with a right cross, landing a blow to the side of Wesley’s face, staggering the older man. Taking advantage of Wesley’s temporary loss of balance, the Enterprise captain launched a flurry of blows at his opponent’s face and stomach.
Reeling from the younger captain’s blow, a frightful image from just a few days ago forced itself into the commodore’s mind. Lexington’s bridge, consoles smoking and on fire, crew crying and screaming in pain as medical personnel rushed to treat them and damage control parties rushed with extinguishers to put out the fires. His navigator, Terrence Lawford, slumped over his console, motionless; Aliz Bathory, the lovely and pixie-like Hungarian helmsman, lying on the deck by her chair, crying out in pain, her head and face covered in blood from a horrible wound on her forehead, the jagged edge of her broken tibia poking out from her leg.
That horrible image firing his rage, Robert counterattacked. Jab…jab…jab…forcing the younger captain back. Right cross…left jab…staggering his opponent. Side stepping Kirk’s wild punch, Wesley connected with a left hook staggering the younger man just as the bell rang ending the round.
“You’re doing good, Sir.” Alexei announced encouragingly as he applied a wet sponge to Robert’s face and forehead, where a cut had appeared thanks to one of the punches that the younger man had landed. “Keep it up. You’re wearing him down.”
“Yeah…” Dodge added as he replaced the commodore’s mouthpiece with a fresh one. “But watch it. He almost had you there with that right cross. Don’t forget: crouch and cover.”
“You’ve gotta get inside him, Cap’n.” Scotty urged as McCoy applied a wet sponge to Kirk’s bleeding cheek. “Those left jabs of his are killin’ ye.” With one last pat on the back as the bell rang, both fighters once again circled each other, renewing their violent dance.
Working his way once again past Wesley’s jabs, Kirk drove back the more experienced boxer with a flurry of combinations: left hook…uppercut…another uppercut…right cross. Slipping some of the punches, Robert covered his face with his gloves, protecting his head at the expense of a painful uppercut delivered to his body. Ignoring the pain, the commodore bided his time, smiling inwardly as he noticed that the last flurry of blows were much less powerful than the previous ones. Driving his opponent back again with left jabs, Robert backpedaled, not permitting the younger man to clinch.
“Robert…” Lieutenant Aliz Bathory whispered inaudibly as she heard the cheers coming from the gym. Leaning on her crutches and fingering the medallion hanging around her neck, she and her two companions paused before the entrance to the gym. Speaking aloud, the Hungarian helmsman turned towards the man standing next to her and asked, “How’s he doing, Doc?”
“Pretty damned good.” Dr. Charles Vincent, Chief Medical Officer on board the USS Lexington replied with a grin, “Especially when you take into account the fact that Captain Kirk is ten years younger than him.”
“That’s not what I asked…” Aliz responded, “I asked you, How. Was. He. Doing?”
Sighing, the doctor answered back, shaking his head. “The Commodore’s had a hard few days, Aliz. He’s had to deal with the loss of over five hundred people—almost everyone on the Excalibur alone…and thirty on The Lady, not to mention the other ships…or the injured such as yourself. I think he needed to do this.” His visage now taking on a stern countenance, the doctor reminded, “And don’t forget our agreement, young lady. I said I would permit you to leave sickbay and come here only if you promised you would go back to your quarters after the fight. That broken bone of yours might be healed, but it needs time to strengthen and for it to do that you’re going to have to stay off it for a few days.”
Wiping her tears away as memories of the horrible battle, and of friends whom she had lost in it, flooded her mind, Aliz adjusted the crutches under her arms as she raised her head, turning first towards the doctor, and then her old roommate, Lieutenant Jennifer Watley, who had just requested reassignment back to the Lexington and was still wearing the Enterprise assignment patch on her dress. Cracking a slight smile, Aliz said as Jennifer pushed the button to open the door, “Let’s go. I want to see Kirk get his ass kicked.” Entering the gym, she hobbled towards the ring until she drew near Robert’s corner. Drawing closer, she was warmly welcomed by both Alexei and Captain Dodge.
“Kirk’s dropping his right, Lieutenant!” The big Russian remarked in a good humored tone, pleased that Aliz had been able to make it. “But it’s a feint.”
“The big Russkie’s right.” Dodge agreed, flashing a sly grin at the young lieutenant. “He’s setting Bob up—trying to get him to commit.” Calling out to the ring, the Hood’s captain warned, “Keep your right up!”
“Stay in your crouch!” Alexei shouted adding his caution.
Wesley’s eyes stinging from blood dripping from a cut just above his eyebrows, Robert saw her as she came in through the door, with Doctor Vincent and Jennifer Watley on either side of her. Smiling as she hobbled over to his corner, the tiring Wesley, immediately feeling reinvigorated, picked up on the slight movement of Kirk’s left shoulder as he ever so slightly dropped his right. Uh huh, Jim. Bob smiled, I’m not buying it. Slipping the Enterprise captain’s left hook just in time, Wesley countered with a quick jab, forcing Kirk back on the defensive. Jab…jab again…right cross…Kirk’s staggering against the ropes…left hook…backpedal as Jim tries to clinch…jab…backpedal again. His lips turning up into a grin as he saw a proudly smiling Aliz deliver an uppercut into the air with her fist, Robert put everything he had into his next punch: a vicious uppercut smacking right into the Enterprise captain’s chin.
Staggering from the blow, Kirk couldn’t stop the follow up left jab, nor the right cross that sent the younger man down to the canvas. The crowd cheering, Wesley moved quickly to a neutral corner as the commanding officer of the space station, acting as referee for the bout, counted: One. Two. Three. Four. The cheering grew louder for all except the Enterprise crewmen standing in stunned silence as the referee continued his count. Five. Six. Seven. Eight. Nine. Ten!” Signaling with his arms the end of the bout, Scotty and McCoy rushed to the side of their captain staggering to his feet as the referee held Bob Wesley’s arm up, declaring him the winner to the wildly applauding crowd.
Walking over to the losing boxer’s corner, Bob Wesley and Jim Kirk touched gloves, “Good bout, Jim.” The older man declared as he held the ropes open for his fellow starship commander, “First round’s on me.”
“You’re on, Bob.” Kirk replied with a grin. “I’ll see you in a few.”
Entering the locker room, Mr. Spock watched with interest as Scotty unlaced their captain’s boxing gloves while McCoy administered a dermal regenerator to Kirk’s cuts. “I fail to understand…” The half-Vulcan science officer primly observed, “…the point behind this primitive display.”
“You would.” McCoy retorted sourly as he pressed a hypospray to Kirk’s neck, “It’s a mild analgesic.” The doctor declared.
Looking up at his first officer, the youthful captain of the Enterprise smiled, “You can’t kick a computer’s ass.” Seeing the blank look on his first officer’s face, Kirk chuckled, “Since Bob couldn’t kick the M-5’s ass; he had to settle for kicking mine instead.”
“Revenge…” Spock shook his head disapprovingly, “One would think that humans would have outgrown such atavistic…”
“Not revenge, Spock.” Kirk corrected, “It was never about revenge. It’s about…”
“Closure.” Dr. McCoy supplied as both his captain and Mr. Scott nodded their heads in agreement.
“You see, Spock.” Jim explained, his voice growing more somber, “Bob Wesley needed this. The crews of the other ships needed this. After what happened…there’s a lot of hurt…a lot of people lost friends…loved ones. Wesley…and the others…needed a resolution. His beating me just now gave them that resolution.”
“Jim’s right.” McCoy interjected. “Now, they can all begin to heal and move forward.”
“So…” Spock inquired in an effort to understand, “You allowed Commodore Wesley to win the bout…”
“No!” Kirk retorted forcefully, his face momentarily reflecting offense at his first officer’s unintended insult, “I went in there intending to win and I gave it everything I had.” Calming down, the young starship captain explained, “It’s just that today…this bout…I don’t think anyone could have beaten Bob Wesley—not even someone with a Vulcan’s enhanced strength and agility. This day belonged to Bob Wesley and the crews of the other starships. I was…I was…”
“A scapegoat?” Spock suggested.
“No.” Kirk replied, shaking his head. “A substitute. A substitute for M-5. In defeating me, Bob released all his hurt and anger at the M-5 system by redirecting it toward me and through him, the crews from the other ships got a chance to let go of their anger and pain as well.” Shaking his head sadly, James sighed, “I imagine I’d feel the same if I were in his shoes.” Looking up at Mr. Spock, the Enterprise captain flashed a sad smile, “Perhaps you’ll feel the same one day, Spock…when you get your own command.”
“Please…” Aliz begged as she stood, leaning on her crutches, along with Doctor Vincent and Jennifer Watley in front of the closed locker room door. “Let me see him first. Then I promise, I’ll go straight back to my room.”
“All right.” Charles Vincent conceded with a resigned sigh, “You’ve got five minutes and then it’s straight back to your room.” Turning towards the olive skinned Jennifer, the doctor further ordered, “And you’re going to make sure she gets there.”
Smiling, Aliz hobbled into the locker room. As the door closed behind her, she saw Alexei unlacing the commodore’s boxing gloves. Drawing closer, the Hungarian lieutenant asked, “Sir? May I please…”
Seeing his commanding officer’s slight nod of the head, Commander Kuznetsov, putting on a stern front, nodded his head, “Very well, Lieutenant. But don’t take too long. As I recall, Doctor Vincent has ordered you confined to quarters until you’re healed.”
“Aye, Sir.” Aliz acknowledged with a smile as the burly Russian exited the locker room. Sitting down next to her commanding officer, the petite helmsman smiled proudly, “You were great.”
“I was lucky.” Wesley replied modestly. “Jim almost had me there a few times.”
“But he didn’t.” Aliz countered, “You found a way to beat him, just as I know you would have found a way to have beaten the M-5.”
“No.” Robert responded in a dejected tone as he shook his head, “If Jim hadn’t talked that thing down; I would have had to have…”
“You would have found some other way to have stopped it without killing the Enterprise, your friend, and its crew.” Seeing the doubt on the older man’s face, Aliz pressed on, “I’ve served with you for over three years, Sir. I know you…and I trust you and I…” Leaving her sentence unfinished, the youthful pixie smiled a sweet, gentle smile as she stood up on her crutches. Bending over, she kissed the ruggedly handsome commodore on his cheek. “That was from all of us.” Her lips now gently brushing his, she uttered in an even softer and lower voice before turning around and leaving, “And that was from me.”