- Text Size +


"Okay! That's it! I'm going to sue!" Captain James T. Kirk shouted at the top of his lungs, waving a printout in a dramatic flourish.

"Jim, would it not be the more prudent course to simply ignore these misrepresentations?" Spock attempted to soothe his outraged Captain.

"Ignore them?" Kirk's face was beet red with anger. He shoved the printout under Spock's nose. "How can I ignore this?"

Kirk Debates Federation's Right to Wage War

Is the hero of the Axanar peace mission a closet war monger? So it would appear from his impassioned denunciation of the enforced truce with the Klingons imposed by the powerful Organians.

"Do you know what that makes me sound like?" Kirk demanded impatiently.

"The implications are..."

"It makes me sound like a tin soldier with delusions of godhood," Kirk ranted, not giving Spock time to answer.

"The reporter's claims are obviously false," Spock said, still trying to pour oil on troubled waters, but only succeeding in feeding the flames.

"And how are millions of readers across the galaxy supposed to know that?" Kirk demanded.

"Still, the opinions of others have not disturbed you in the past. Why should they affect you so strongly now?" Spock wondered.

"Because," Kirk said, "they are distorting our professional handling of our missions, and making us sound like inept fools. If they don't like me, fine. I'll survive. But I don't want them to think we're incompetent asses, using a starship for fun and games or our own personal agendas." He paused long enough to grab a breath and a stack of printouts off the desk, tossing one down after another. "I mean, look at these."

Kirk gambles with ship and lives of crew

In a standoff with a First Federation vessel, the poker-playing captain of the USS Enterprise wagered all or nothing on an empty bluff.

"It worked, didn't it?" Kirk defended. "The Fesarius had us by the short and curlies. What do they think I should have done, blown up the ship? This reporter doesn't know his ass from a hole in the wall. Listen to this one."

Hallucinating Captain almost runs ship into planet

Rumors of the extensive drug abuse problem within Starfleet appear to be substantiated by the recent events aboard the USS Enterprise while in orbit over PSI 2000.

"McCoy had a fit when he read that," Kirk reported. "I was afraid he was going to have a stroke."

"A most understandable reaction, considering his efforts to find a cure in time to counteract the effects of the virus," Spock agreed thoughtfully. That was not, however, a mission he would want reported to the public with any more accuracy.

"Then there's this little bit of jaundiced reporting," Kirk said, flinging down the last flimsy.

Kirk and Crew Sexploit Innocent Androids

Rumors of a three day orgy between man and machine involving the Captain and crew of the USS Enterprise have filtered back to Earth. Is Tomcat Kirk in violation of the Artificial Intelligence Protection Act?

"I should have strangled Harry Mudd while I had the chance. Damn it, Spock, I've never screwed anything illegal in my life, and I've certainly never been so hard up I had to resort to a robot!"

Not about to comment on Kirk's sex life, Spock focussed on the broader picture. "I am sure the official record of these events is sufficient to counteract the erroneous conclusions these disreputable stories have drawn."

"No it isn't. I've got a concerned memo from Nogura, two nasty ones from Komack, implying that I'd better shape up or else, and even a communique from my mother, asking what the hell I'm trying to prove. MY OWN MOTHER! Because of these tabloids, my credibility is in shreds and my command is on the line." Kirk slumped down into his chair, running his hands through his hair.

"You are exaggerating," Spock accused mildly. "Starfleet is in possession of the true facts. Had they been dissatisfied with your conduct, they would have said so at the time."

"You can't talk me out of it this time, Spock. I'm going to make the assholes publish a retraction if it's the last thing I do!"

* * * * *

"Request denied."

Kirk could feel the flush heating up his face. He glared at the tiny image of the Commander-in-Chief of all of Starfleet on his desk screen, full of righteous indignation and in no mood to back down.

"I'm within my rights, Admiral. These stories are personal attacks and I have the right to defend my reputation," he insisted.

"I agree with you completely, Captain," Nogura assured. "However, it will not be necessary for you to bring legal action. Because of the inordinate amount of attention you and the Enterprise have been receiving from the Galactic Inquirer, I have ordered an investigation and will deal with the matter myself. There will be no such further stories."

Somewhat mollified, Kirk sat back in his chair, the heightened color fading from his face at the welcome news. "But why me?" he asked with lingering exasperation.

Nogura shrugged slightly. "Your missions are often high profile, and your solutions...unique, shall we say."

Kirk decided not to pursue that particular subject. There were, after all, more than one or two solutions in his past that would not bear up under a strict application of the regulations. "And you're sure there won't be any more stories?"

"Quite sure. Nogura out."

* * * * *

The very next day, G.P. Murdoch, editor-in-chief of the Galactic Inquirer, was ushered into Nogura's office at Starfleet headquarters. The discussion was short and to the point, and within minutes, Murdoch had been given the injunction to muzzle his reporter or else and then ushered out again.

By the time Murdoch managed to get through to Brian Clancy, the Inquirer's man on Starbase 12 was just returning from his favorite table at the Starlight Lounge.

"I just got my ass chewed by the C&C of Starfleet," Murdoch announced without preamble.

"So we're backing off?" Clancy asked.

"Hell no. Nogura was too hot to shut us up. But we're going to change the focus a little. No more Starfleet. If they want to pretend they're off limits, let 'em. Not many people want to read about the politics of a planet light years away anyway. Kirk's another matter altogether. The details of most of his professional exploits you can read in the Terran Times, but the details of his sex life? That's our kind of news."

"You must be kidding," Clancy protested. "He's got a string of women from Earth to the Rim and everybody and their dog knows it. He's never made a secret of being a ladies' man. Why give the conceited bastard free advertising?"

"Because any man who fucks around as much as he does gets jaded," Murdoch reasoned. "They steal their best friend's wives, they screw their cousins, they get kinky. Those are the juicy stories our readers want to see."

"My source has never given me a whiff of that sort of thing," Clancy protested.

"Maybe he wasn't looking for it, or maybe you need a new source. Just get the dirt," Murdoch ordered, "and as soon as you do, flash squirt it back to me and I'll make sure it sees print before the sheets cool. Murdoch out."

* * * * *

Kirk sat hunched over his vidcom, listening intently as Nogura filled him in.

"The editor refused to reveal his reporter or sources, and they're protected by the Intergalactic Freedom of the Press Act, Jim. However, I have had a meeting with Mr. Murdoch, the editor of this...publication, and there will be no such further stories published by them. Since the matter has been dealt with, there is no need for you to initiate punitive proceedings against them."

"I hope you're right, but in my experience, those weasels are not to be trusted," Kirk cautioned.

"I agree. However, there is no point in anticipating trouble when you have other concerns - like your next mission."

"And that is?"

"We want you to see if you can find out what happened to the USS Beagle."

"We'll do our best to find out what happened."

"Excellent. Nogura out."

* * * * *

Spock stepped through the opening doors to Kirk's cabin to find the Captain in a fine old Irish rage.

"That's it! I don't care what Nogura says, this time I'm going to sue. Nothing, not Nogura, not Starfleet, not even a direct order from the President of the Federation Council will stop me!" Kirk ranted at the top of his lungs.

Spock hastily palmed the door shut. There was no sense in letting every passing crewmember listen in on the Captain's temper tantrum.

"Have you see this?" Kirk demanded, tossing a printout flimsy toward Spock.

Kirk and Proconsul in Sex Triangle with Helpless Slave Girl

The latest rumors from deep space indicate that the oversexed Captain of the Enterprise has once again let the little head do the thinking for him. On a recent mission to an interdicted planet, Captain James T. Kirk was playing fast and loose with more than the Prime Directive, engaging in what is reported to be an all-night orgy with the Proconsul of the off-limits planet and an unwilling slave girl.

Spock dropped the flimsy on the desk and seated himself, preparing to sit through a lengthy tantrum. He knew it was his duty to calm and advise his superior officer. Unfortunately, his own memory of sitting in that cell all night imagining every unspeakable form of torture being inflicted on Kirk was all too fresh in his mind. He had been much less than amused when he'd discovered the truth.

"Where is this son of a bitch getting his information anyway? The fucking bulkheads must have ears around here," Kirk continued to rant. "I'm not meekly bending over any more while this bastard screws me over. I'm going to sue, and I'm going to make that Clancy asshole reveal his source. And if it turns out to be someone on board this ship, I'm going to bust him so low he'll need two promotions just to clean the toilets on Outpost 25."

Spock left his own bitter memories and tuned back in to Kirk's tirade.

"You don't have much to say," Kirk accused.

Spock just stared at him silently.

"What? Don't you think I should sue?"

Calmly, Spock rose from his chair. "Not over this story, Captain. You might well lose," he cautioned and quietly left Kirk to finish his tirade without benefit of an audience.

* * * * *

Spock paused outside the Captain's door and steeled himself before pressing the buzzer. The door opened and he stepped in to find Kirk seated calmly at his desk. Spock winced internally and his spine straightened a little further. It seemed Kirk had not yet see the latest issue of the Galactic Inquirer which, unfortunately, meant Spock had to show it to him.

"Come on in, Spock. Have a seat," Kirk invited. "I'm just waiting for Uhura to put a call through for me."

"I assume you have not see this," Spock said as he folded himself into the visitor's chair and slid the flimsy across the desk. He might as well get it over with.

Kirk Swaps Phasers for Friend's Wife!

Kirk pushed the paper back toward Spock. "Yes. I've seen it."

Spock stared at him in puzzlement for a moment before he understood. "You intend to bring action."

"Damn right I do," Kirk confirmed with the deadly low-key calm too many foolish enemies had ignored. "I'm not going to sit still for them making me look like an incompetent, amoral, galactic bunny any longer."

The intercom buzzer sounded in the silence that followed the quiet declaration.

"I have Mr. Cogley for you, sir," Uhura reported.

"Thank you, Uhura. Put him through," Kirk ordered and the lawyer appeared on his screen.

"Jim! What can I do for you? Not another court martial, I hope," Samuel T. Cogley joked.

"No, no court martial this time, Sam," Kirk assured. "I was just wondering if you could recommend a good civil attorney."

* * * * *

"I never thought he'd actually sue," Clancy said to the image of his editor on the screen of his desk comm.

Murdoch scowled. "He's suing all right, and not just for defamation and a retraction. He's asking for a million credits punitive damage award."

Clancy whistled. A million credits would buy Kirk an awful lot of leaves on Wrigley's Pleasure Planet. Like Kirk ever had to pay for it.

"And the source. Our lawyers think they could get him to settle for a retraction and the source," Murdoch reported without much hope.

"No way. Uh uh," Clancy bristled. "If word gets around I don't protect my sources, I might as well..."

"I know, I know," Murdoch soothed. He wouldn't have revealed a source when he was a reporter either. Still... "It isn't someone on the Enterprise, is it?"

"No comment," Clancy insisted.

"All right then," Murdoch conceded. "But you better find a hidey hole for a while and pull it in after you. Kirk hired Robert J. Cameron, and if that bastard gets you on the stand, you'll reveal every source you ever had since you left your mother's breast."

"Gotcha. I'm already fading fast. Clancy out."

* * * * *

"How do you think it's going?" Kirk asked Cameron as they waited at the plaintiff's table for the Judge to arrive. He didn't like his lawyer. Sam had warned him he wouldn't. Sam had also assured him that Cameron was the very best attorney for the type of case Kirk wanted to bring. If Murdoch and his ilk were weasels, then Robert J. Cameron was a fox. He even looked like one with his long pointy nose, recessive chin and bushy red hair. But, as Sam said, Kirk didn't have to like him, just retain him.

"Exceptionally well," Cameron assured. "Even without being able to subpoena the reporter, the Judge is getting the picture. All your evidence are irrefutable Starfleet documents and your witnesses have been fantastic. I've never seen so many people so loyal to one man."

Considering what Cameron did for a living, Kirk didn't doubt that last statement for one minute.

"All the Judge has heard for the past two days is what an exceptional, outstanding, upright individual you are. Don't worry, old Judge Parker is getting the idea. Once McCoy and Spock have testified..."

"About that," Kirk cut in, glancing back to where his solemn friend waited patiently in the row of seats directly behind the plaintiff's table. He lowered his voice. "Are you sure Spock has to testify? He's a very private person and if you question him, that means their lawyer can."

Cameron also glanced back at the quiet Vulcan, a speculative gleam appearing in his eye for a moment. Then he reminded himself that it was Kirk he worked for, not the other side. "We'll see how Parker reacts to what McCoy has to say," he hedged.

Seeing the glances aimed his way, Spock leaned forward over the rail separating him from Kirk. "Jim, is there something wrong?"

"No, Spock. Of course not," Kirk reassured, laying his hand over Spock's where it rested on the rail and offering a soft smile. He knew Spock was uncomfortable with this entire messy business. Vulcans, after all, didn't even gossip among themselves, let alone print outrageous lies about each other. Cameron was going to have to do some fast talking before Kirk was going to let his very private friend take the stand.

Cameron caught the smile and surreptitiously peeked toward the defendant's table. Uh oh, Murdoch had caught it too. He'd better warn Kirk about...on second thought, Cameron decided, this could be a good thing. If Murdoch saw what he saw, and Cameron was willing to bet his errors and omissions insurance that he did, it might just goad the editor into tipping his hand. In fact, it might be good strategy to make sure Murdoch did notice.

"You know, Captain," Cameron whispered when the hand holding was over and Spock had settled back into his seat. "On second thought, we may not need Spock to testify, but it might be a good idea if he moved up here with us. I'm having a little trouble with the militareese in some of these reports and maybe he could help me out," he suggested innocently.

* * * * *

Murdoch tapped a stylus against his teeth as he stared at the blank screen on his desk. If there wasn't something going on between Kirk and his pet Vulcan, then he'd eat the next edition of the Galactic Inquirer, personal notices and all. But his lawyer was right, the Inquirer didn't dare run a story on Kirk right now, even if it were the gospel truth. Besides, it wouldn't do him any good - the Inquirer published weekly. If he wanted to rattle Kirk's cage, he needed to put his suspicions in print now. An evil smile creased his face as the solution to his dilemma occurred to him.

Murdoch activated his intercom. "Sally, be a good girl and get me Chris Ames over at the Mirror."

He clicked off before his secretary could even acknowledge. Yes, the Universal Daily Mirror was just the ticket. And, thanks to the anonymity of the numbered corporate veil, nobody even knew that the Inquirer and the Mirror were actually owned by the same people.

* * * * *

Maybe the Inquirer had it all Wrong

Captain James T. Kirk, renowned commander of Starfleet's finest ship, the Enterprise, is in town this week to pursue his case for defamation of character against the Galactic Inquirer.

Could it be that the Inquirer, which Kirk is suing over their unauthorized peeks into his love life with the ladies, have it all wrong after all? That's the way it looks to Court House sources who say the Captain can't seem to get his mind off his First Officer, renowned scientist, Spock of Vulcan, and on his case. Or his hands either. To be fair, maybe the good Captain just needs a refresher course in Vulcan etiquette.

* * * * *

"I'm going to sue them, too!"

Spock nearly rolled his eyes as Kirk's bellow assaulted his ears from the joint livingroom of their suite. He finished straightening his dress tunic and left the quiet of his bedroom for the storm preparing to break in the other room.

"Perhaps you should wait until you see if you win this action," he suggested, watching Kirk pace up and down like a caged tiger, clutching the Mirror's crumpled hard copy in his hand.

"Have you see this? Of all the despicable..."

"Yes, I have seen it," Spock cut in uncharacteristically, "and I have been considering whether it might be prudent for me to no longer attend the trial."

Kirk spun on his heels to face his friend, wearing what Spock could only describe as the most wounded expression he had ever seen.

"I thought only to spare you further upset," Spock assured softly.

"And it doesn't bother you one little bit, does it?" Kirk accused.

"I am no more pleased by the misinterpretation of our relationship than you are, Jim. I have, however, learned to enure myself somewhat to the prurient nature of human curiosity."

"We are a trial to you, aren't we, Spock?" Kirk asked with a soft smile. Amazingly, he was now feeling rather amused by the stupid article. If Spock could laugh at it - and that was Vulcan laughter he saw sparkling in those deep brown eyes - then so could he.

"On numerous occasions," Spock assured with his Vulcan mask beginning to crumble around the edges of his lips.

Sobering, Kirk wrapped his fingers around one satin clad arm. "You know, Spock. I hadn't realized how much I've come to depend on you. Not just professionally, but personally as well. Please, my friend, don't ever think I don't appreciate your support or what it takes for you to give it to me. Especially now, in the public eye. No matter what interpretation those assholes put on it."

Knowing he had embarrassed his friend, Kirk gave the arm under his hand one squeeze and released it. "Come, on, let's get over to the Court and get on with it. I'll try to keep my hands to myself and you can give me Vulcan etiquette lessons if I forget. Just one thing." He paused to try to get his grin under control but failed. "Don't slap me or they'll be labelling you a reluctant virgin next."

Obediently, Spock followed Kirk's lead, determined to spend some much needed time in meditation tonight. Contrary to Kirk's belief, it wasn't embarrassment that had kept him mute, but a warm, swollen feeling in his chest and throat that had held any reply from his lips. It was well past time he had a good look at why Kirk, and no other, could make him feel this way.

* * * * *

McCoy was wonderful on the stand that day, all wide-eyed southern boy innocence for Cameron and Judge Parker, defending his Captain and friend with, fortunately, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

When Cameron's esteemed colleague, acting for the defense, rose to begin his cross-examination, he found himself facing an entirely different breed of southern gentleman. The blue eyes that zeroed in on Raymond L. Morther, Esq., bore more resemblance to the icy calculating stare of a riverboat gambler than the gentle gaze of a renowned healer.

"Now, it's my understanding that Captain Kirk has quite a reputation, deservedly so, as a ladies' man," Morther observed as he sauntered his way toward the witness stand. "Is that correct, Doctor?"

"And it's mah understandin' that you, suh, have quite a reputation, deservedly so, ahm shuh, as a no-good, low-down polecat of a shyster," McCoy responded in his thickest drawl. "Is that correct, Counsellor?"

Snickers and smothered laughter erupted around the court and Morther's face turned red. His cross-examination went down hill from there.

* * * * *

Is Tomcat Kirk a leopard trying to change his spots, or just his luck?

This reporter has just discovered that Captain James T. Kirk, embroiled in a defamation of character action against the Galactic Inquirer, is not only staying at the same hotel as his Vulcan shadow, but in the same room. What this reporter wouldn't give to be a fly on the wall of room 469. What would we hear? Captain Kirk coaching his loyal First Officer for today's testimony, or something else entirely?

* * * * *

Fortunately, Kirk didn't see that day's edition of the Mirror until they returned to their suite after Court recessed for the day. Spock, taking a page from McCoy's book, had drawn on all his innate Vulcan dignity to knock Morther off his stride and generally make mince meat out of the over-matched counsellor with his superior intellect.

As a result, the eruption that resulted when Kirk did read the article more closely resembled an over flowing whirlpool than the reactivation of Mount Fuji.

"I wonder if this idiot knows room 469 is actually a suite?" he wondered.

"Undoubtedly. As we have reason to know, the reporters for this particular type of publication never allow the facts to deter them," Spock observed.

"I must be getting immune to all this," Kirk said, slipping out of his dress tunic and sprawling on the couch. "The only part of that story that really steams me is his insinuations that you would lie."

"A strategic error on his part. It is common knowledge that Vulcans cannot lie," Spock said prudishly.

Kirk laughed. "And we're certainly not going to tell them any different, are we, Mr. Spock?"

"Of course not," Spock agreed. "Shall we use the processor, or eat out?"

Kirk opted for the processor, which suited Spock just fine. He intended to retire very early. There were several corners of his own mind he needed to have a closer look at.

* * * * *

What Spock found in the emotional nooks and crannies of his well ordered logical brain came as no real surprise to him. He was, after all, exhibiting all the symptoms he had noted in humans who declared themselves "in love". He was in love with Jim. Applying the same criteria to Kirk quickly led to the conclusion that the Captain harbored similar, if not identical, emotions toward his First Officer. Kirk might not yet be aware of it, but with the Mirror's daily insinuations, it wouldn't be long before he was.

* * * * *

The next day, Kirk took the stand in his own behalf. Following in the footsteps of his friends, he soon had Morther scrambling to somehow rattle the implacable command calm Kirk projected. After a whole afternoon, the lawyer finally conceded defeat. If the entire Klingon Armada hadn't managed to intimidate the intrepid Captain of the Enterprise, what hope did he have?

"No further questions," Morther admitted wearily.

"Court is now in recess," Judge Parker declared. "It will resume tomorrow morning at 10:00 a.m. when I will render my judgment."

* * * * *

Kirk and Spock went out after Court to a nice little restaurant close to the hotel for a pre-mature celebration. They were just beginning to peruse their menus when Kirk spotted a photographer with his holovid aimed their way.

"Damnit," he growled, throwing down his napkin and shoving out of the chair. "I'm going to punch his lights out."

Spock made a quick grab for Kirk's wrist and held the furious Captain in his chair. "Jim, no. It is not worth it."

Kirk counted to ten slowly. "It's all right. You can let go now."

Cautiously, Spock loosened his grip and eased his hand away.

"Let's get out of here, Spock. That son of a bitch has ruined my dinner," Kirk said.

His mood wasn't improved any when he stepped across the threshold of their room to find the Daily Mirror printout staring up at him from the carpet. He had specifically told the front desk he didn't want that rag delivered to his room. Obviously, someone had taken it upon themselves to make sure he saw it anyway.

Is it true Vulcans never lie?

If it is, then the Galactic Inquirer might as well pack up its marbles and go home. After the testimony of Commander Spock, renowned Vulcan scientist and First Officer of the Enterprise, Captain Kirk is sure to win his case against the Inquirer for defamation of character. From what this reporter has observed during the course of the trial, I'm sure Captain Kirk will think of some way to... reward his First Officer for his loyalty in the privacy of the room they share at the Regency.

"You should have let me beat that lying bastard to a pulp," Kirk growled.

"It would have done nothing except to bring you down to their level," Spock attempted to reason as he followed Kirk into the livingroom.

"I am sick and tired of their nasty insinuations. McCoy testified too, and they're not suggesting I'm humping him," Kirk complained to the universe at large. "Not that I'd consider it."

"Of course not," Spock continued to try to smooth ruffled feathers.

Kirk swung around on his heel and levelled his furious gaze on Spock. "And just what do you mean by that?"

"Only that you would never consider..."

"Now you're doing it," Kirk accused, advancing on the other man and stopping just short of poking a finger at the satin covered chest. "You're making assumptions. This has nothing to do with whether I would or would not consider having sex with you. It's the goddamned innuendos. Like I'm using you or paying you off. When I make love with you, it will be because..."

Kirk finally got control of his runaway mouth and clamped his lips over any further revelations.

"Jim?" Spock prompted.

For perhaps the first time in his life, James Kirk failed to stand his ground. "I'm going to bed," he announced and beat an ignominious retreat.

A small smile lit Spock's austere features as he glanced at the chronometer. It was only 1830 hours.

* * * * *

A Private Dinner for Two

Kirk didn't even bother to read the story. He didn't need to, the picture said it all. The photographer had certainly known his business, judging the angle just right to make it appear that Spock was holding his hand rather than his wrist.

He'd had a long talk with himself last night, listening to his heart above the rumbling of his empty stomach. "When I make love with you..." had come trippingly off his tongue as if it had been sitting there for years waiting to be spoken. And maybe it had. Just because it had taken some yellow journalism to make him aware of his feelings, didn't mean they weren't valid, or that they hadn't been there for a long time.

With a quiet sigh, Kirk reached out to crumple the offending rag. Once again Spock's hand stayed his impulsive action, but this time it slipped into his and he was turned to face his friend.

"I would much rather have been holding your hand as that picture implies," Spock confessed quietly.

"Me too," Kirk admitted after a moment of surprised silence. "And I wish we had figured it out before they did."

"Does it really matter?" Spock asked, releasing Kirk's hand and drawing the smaller man into his embrace.

"I guess not," Kirk agreed, delighted to find that they seemed to fit perfectly in each others arms. "I just never thought of us as such slow studies before."

"Then we have some catching up to do," Spock suggested, muffling Kirk's response by placing his mouth over the inviting pink lips turned up to him.

They fell into this first kiss that quickly sped through hesitation, beyond tenderness and into passion.

"I wish I hadn't cut and run last night," Kirk confessed when his captive lips were finally freed temporarily.

"Why?" Spock murmured, nibbling around the corners of the smiling mouth prepatory to reinstating his claim.

"Because, my friend," Kirk explained, planting a hand in Spock's chest and reluctantly pushing him away. "We have to be in Court in 30 minutes."

"Later?" Spock asked expectantly.

"Later," Kirk confirmed with a leer. He leaned over and picked up the copy of the Mirror. "You know, Spock, maybe we should thank them. Their rags have, after all, brought us to riches."

* * * * *

"Will the parties please rise."

Kirk came to his feet and stood at parade rest, his eyes on Judge Parker.

"Captain Kirk, it is my opinion that there are serious problems with the laws of the Federation when a man of your proven integrity must bring this type of action in order to protect his reputation. I can do nothing about those laws, but I am at liberty to rule in this particular case.

"It is, therefore, my judgment that the Galactic Inquirer shall publish a full retraction of any and all stories mentioning either Captain Kirk, the Enterprise or any of her current or past crew, together with an apology for all errors, omissions and misinterpretations contained in those stories. The retraction and apology shall run front page for at least three consecutive issues beginning no later than ten days from today's date."

The Judge paused for breath, and Kirk took the opportunity to send a victorious smile Spock's way.

"With regard to the claim for punitive damages, it is my inclination to grant the award as requested. However, such an order would in all probability simply prompt the Defendant to embark on a lengthy process of appeals. I am, therefore, dismissing the claim for one million credits punitive damages and, in its stead, ordering that the Defendant pay all costs of the Plaintiff associated with this action, including court costs, taxed legal fees and travel and living expenses for the Plaintiff and his witnesses for the duration of this trial, such costs not to exceed 100,000 credits."

Murdoch winced slightly at the size of the award, then shrugged philosophically. It was not, after all, his credits that would be paying Kirk's bill at the Regency.

"Lastly, the refusal of the reporter, Brian Clancy, to respond to the subpoena has made revelation of the source of the information impossible. Had he appeared as ordered, the probability is great that he would have cited The Intergalactic Freedom of the Press Act in any case. I do, however, order that the Bench Warrant issued against Brian Clancy for non-appearance remain in force until such time as he appears before this court.

"Captain Kirk, with the resources available to you, I am confident that a thorough investigation will reveal the source of the information. I will leave it in your capable hands to deal with the culprit as you see fit. Within the parameters of Starfleet military law, of course," Judge Parker suggested.

Kirk accepted the recommendation with a nod of his head and an expression that boded ill for the Enterprising culprit.

"Mr. Murdoch, I'm sure I will be seeing you again in the future. Court dismissed," Parker intoned with a final rap of his gavel.

* * * * *

Kirk's welcoming smile for his lover faded as Spock stalked across the office of their new, shared quarters and thrust a printout flimsy at him.

With a feeling of deja vu, Kirk accepted the sheet and read:

Beat me up, Spocky!

Sources report that Captain James T. Kirk and Commander Spock of the USS Enterprise were recently treated for injuries which appeared to be the result of a severe whipping. Is the rumored love affair turning sour, or is the Federation's most adventuresome duo getting kinky?

"At least they didn't mention the Nazi uniforms," Kirk quipped.

"I thought you put an end to this when you transferred Ensign Mayer to Outpost 25," Spock said.

Kirk laid the paper aside and shrugged his shoulders. "What can I say, Spock? It looks like we're back in the rags."

You must login (register) to review.