The Master of the Deal

Ronald J. Grump of the Starship Greatness (Monte Dutton sketch)
Ronald J. Grump of the Starship Greatness (Monte Dutton sketch)

              In the first place, I’m no Trekkie, but, if you’re going to quibble about technical discrepancies between my short story and the wealth of data available on the Star Trek franchise, it won’t bother me. The point I’m trying to make is unrelated to outer space. Besides, frontiers are common.

 

              Captain’s Log, Star Date 4408.7, Starship Greatness, Ronald J. Grump, Acting Galactic Commander. I feel exiled, dispatched to a remote quadrant of the Milky Way, my crew and I relegated to the status of roving bureaucrats. Meanwhile, the worst Secretary of State in the history of the Republic has frittered away our hegemony in the galaxy with his policies of appeasement while nauseating all with his overly dramatic pronouncements.

              James T. Kirk! What was it that MacArthur said of Eisenhower? “The best clerk ever had.” That was Kirk. Now he has risen above me, reaching, at last, his level of incompetence. It’s lonely out here on the Prilosec Frontier. I yearn for combat. I know my destiny requires it. A glorious triumph will give me the strength to take on Kirk and rid the Republic of his ineptitude. He will have to call on me. He will have no choice. I will save the Republic.

              Kirk sent his closest associates to spy on me, and I have turned his machinations against him. Mr. Scott, Dr. McCoy, Sulu, Chekov … I have earned their respect and loyalty. They likely hate Kirk as much as I now.

              Spock? Such considerations are not applicable to the Vulcan.

 

By Monte Dutton
By Monte Dutton

“Oh, spare us,” Scott said. “Why is Grump summoning us to yet another meeting? If we’d work during all this time we spend in meetings …”

“… There wouldn’t be any need for them,” Dr. McCoy added. It was a familiar topic.

“It is not unusual for humans to feel a need for excessive communication, particularly during troubled times,” Spock reasoned, it being all he ever did.

“One would think it would bother you more than the rest of us,” McCoy said.

“Nothing bothers me.”

“Oh, yes, Mr. Spock,” McCoy responded. “I forgot.”

“What’s the over-under on how much time he’ll take attacking Jim?” Scott asked.

“It depends on the length of the meeting,” McCoy said.

“Past experience indicates that Captain Grump will allot between .67 and .75 of the time to remarks that might be deemed critical in regard to Secretary of State Kirk,” Spock said. “About eight-five percent of his criticism will be either false or dubious.”

“I believe his goal is to indoctrinate us,” Scott said. “His self-confidence is startling. Most men would hesitate to speak so critically of a man each of us respected. He seems to believe he can turn us against Kirk.”

“The term is megalomania,” McCoy said.

 

This was not the usual meeting, however. When they entered his study, Grump was in full military dress. Rows of commendations. Epaulets. Brass buttons.

“Gentlemen, prepare for rapid transport across the Galaxy,” he said. “We are going home.”

McCoy thought Grump looked like Mussolini, the ruler of ancient Italy. It was just the first image that came to mind.

“Mr. Sulu, read the directive from Command,” Grump said.

“You are hereby ordered to return to defend Earth. An armada of gunships from the Absorica Empire is closing in on Earth from all sides, demanding that we either surrender our planet unconditionally or face destruction. All starships are being recalled. We are unable to fight our way out. You will have to fight your way in. Signed, Acanya Faslodex, Commander, Galactic Operations.”

“Gentlemen,” Grump said, “we are going to get there first. We are going to defeat the Absoricans. It will not require so much as a shot. I know the Absoricans, believe me. They fear me. I’ve enjoyed a warm relationship with the Emperor, Xarelto, over the years. I think we have a very similar style of rule. He’s a lightweight, though. And he’s very low energy.”

“Mr. Grump …”

“Spock, there’s no time for discussion. I don’t see as how your logic has anything to do with my plans. …”

McCoy whispered under his breath, “I’ll say.”

“God, help us,” Scott said. “I humbly beseech thee. … I need a drink.”

“Well, Scotty, you’d better hold off. You’ll be giving her all she can stand rather quickly, I expect.”

Grump glared. “What did you say, Dr. McCoy? Do you have anything to add?”

“No, sir. I’m a doctor, not a tactician.”

“Mr. Chekov, map a course that will direct us toward home. I want us ready for warp drive within the hour. Get the word out. Man all stations. Report back to me on the bridge at fifteen hundred hours. Dismissed.”

“Aye, aye, Mr. Grump,” they all said.

Chekov and McCoy happened to be headed down the same corridor.

“Try not to run us through a dwarf star at warp speed, Pavel.”

“You joke,” he replied, “but it’s not as easy as it seems. Those are moving objects.”

“Oh, it seems hard enough to me,” McCoy said.

“I know,” Chekov said with a smile. “You’re a doctor.”

 

              Captain’s Log, Star Date 4408.8, Starship Greatness, Ronald J. Grump, Acting Galactic Commander. We have arrived home and are riding over Earth’s equator, one of many but alone. Mr. Sulu informs me that eight Absorican battleships are arrayed against Earth, poised to strike. Other starships are alleged to be en route. Obviously, we’d need eight to take them on one by one. I don’t think it will come to that. The Absoricans respect toughness, and they know me as the most militaristic of the Earth Republic’s commanders. Our leaders have betrayed us in trying to “reason” with the Absoricans. They don’t realize that, in rare instances, negotiating with Absorica involves certain side effects such as destruction of the home planet, enslavement at worst and subordination at best. They will take our free citizens and use them for cheap labor if they deign to spare them at all. Emperor Xarelto and I are old comrades in arms. Once we worked together to overthrow the Quadricel Alliance. Alas, times have changed. I know Xarelto’s weaknesses. I am a deal-maker nonpareil, and he has told me many times that he respects me and me alone among the Earthlings.

 

DSCF1755“Captain Grump, the Absoricans have acknowledged our presence.”

“Thank you, Mr. Sulu. Request contact.”

“Aye, aye, Captain Grump.”

Grump was pleased with himself. This would catapult him to power. This would make him the salvation of his home planet. This would cement his place in history, right along with the ancient leader of the British Empire, Churchill, and the revered American, Washington. Perhaps it would take a war. Then he could be Mr. Lincoln.

The familiar ocuflox of Emperor Xarelto appeared on the Viewscreen.

“Ronald, my old friend, I trust you are well.” The Emperor had a deep, rumbling voice. Grump always imagined the beating of timpanies in the background.

It annoyed Grump that Xarelto had only the one name. It wasn’t fair of Xarelto to call him Ronald. They should be equals. He considered calling the Emperor “Old Man” or “Big Boy,” but thought better of it, particularly since he wasn’t even sure of Absoricans had genders or sex between them. It wasn’t the time to ask.

“Ronald?”

“I’m sorry, Xarelto. I was reminiscing about those old times on Quadricel.”

“You left me for dead, Ronald.”

“You know me better than that, Xarelto. It was all a ruse.”

“Yes. Forgive me. I know you better than that.”

“What’s this about you taking over the Republic, Xarelto?” Trump asked, point blank, because he was frank that way.

“There’s nothing to that, Ronald.”

“Well, good, but, let me tell you, it was a pain in the ass to warp it all the way across the galaxy just to deal with this. Kirk. That sleazebag. You know, Xarelto, the Secretary of State is very low energy, and then, I’ve known him for years, he takes it personally when you try to shoot straight with him.”

“Kirk just left here.”

“So … you patched things up, huh?”

“I made a decision. It was never my intention to establish dominion over the Republic.”

“Oh.”

“It is my intention to destroy it.”

“You wouldn’t dare,” Grump said, temper rising.

“Watch me,” Xarelto said. “I will spare you and your crew. Later we will negotiate. I will sanction you as a mercenary willing to undertake Absorican missions throughout the galaxy. The Greatness is aptly named, Ronald. I’d like to have you on my side.”

“I’ll never betray Earth, you cur! You won’t destroy Earth. A force field will stop you!”

“There is no such field,” Xarelto said. “You’re bluffing.”

“I’m not bluffing! I’m Ronald Jehoshaphat Grump, and Ronald Jehoshophat Grump never bluffs. In order to avoid my wrath, you, Xarelto, will build a force field. Absorica will pay for it. It is the only way your beings and mine will ever get along.”

“No, Ronald,” Xarelto said. “There is another.”

The Viewscreen went blank.

Grump was silent for a few seconds.

“He wouldn’t dare,” he said to no one in particular but seeking a nod or other kindred sign from Spock, Sulu, Chekov, Scott, McCoy, or Uhura.

“My God, Ron, have you lost your mind?” McCoy asked.

“I have not,” Grump said. “I’ve got Xarelto right where I want him.”

Sulu said with urgency, “Mr. Grump, multiple projectiles being fired from Absorican warships!”

“Are we under fire?”

“Of course.”

“I mean, we, as in the Greatness.”

Sulu reacted as if it were inconsequential.

“No,” he said. “Earth is under full attack.”

“Mr. Scott, prepare to embark for Varithena. Chekov, set the course.”

“But, Ron, for God’s sake, our planet is under attack,” McCoy said.

“The planet is done. In order to preserve our species, we must regroup. Uhura, send a dispatch to all the other Republic starships, as per, ‘Urgent. Abandon course to Earth. Proceed to Varithena Sector and await further instructions. Ronald J. Grump, Acting Commander in Chief.'”

“You have no authority!” McCoy exclaimed.

“Give it about five minutes, tops,” Grump said. “Our only mission now is to preserve whatever is left of humankind.

“Kirk brought it on himself. Him and President Hexabrix. We never should have elected an alien to the highest office in the land. … You know what? Now … they got no land. They should’ve listened when I wrote about it.”

Thus went the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave. With a whimper and a retreat from the Big Man.

 

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)
(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

              Science fiction is not my specialty, but I dreamed up this little tale recently and started chipping away at it.

              Fiction is, however, my specialty, and I hope any enjoyment you derive from this story will lead you to my KindleScout novel that isn’t about your everyday football coach, Crazy of Natural Causes. http://www.amazon.com/Crazy-Natural-Causes-Monte-Dutton-ebook/dp/B00YI8SWUU/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1436215069&sr=1-1&keywords=Crazy+of+Natural+Causes

(Melanie Ryon cover design)
(Melanie Ryon cover design)

              The Intangibles is set in a small Southern town during 1968, when times were changing and passions were high. http://www.amazon.com/The-Intangibles-Monte-Dutton-ebook/dp/B00ISJ18Z6/ref=pd_sim_351_2?ie=UTF8&dpID=51JrJlU8vKL&dpSrc=sims&preST=_UX300_PJku-sticker-v3%2CTopRight%2C0%2C-44_AC_UL160_SR107%2C160_&refRID=1JHXP8XNSB1VF293FEMY

(Joe Font cover design)
(Joe Font cover design)

              The Audacity of Dope is a yarn about a pot-smoking songwriter who gets on a plane one day and lands a national hero, which does not at all please him. http://www.amazon.com/The-Audacity-Dope-Monte-Dutton-ebook/dp/B006GT2PRA/ref=pd_sim_sbs_351_2?ie=UTF8&dpID=51zCT-MrcFL&dpSrc=sims&preST=_UX300_PJku-sticker-v3%2CTopRight%2C0%2C-44_AC_UL160_SR105%2C160_&refRID=1ZGJYRE4SJAJX1RBNZY3

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)
(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

              Soon. Very soon. A crime novel about a corrupt prosecutor pitted against a good cop in another small Southern town, only this one being right now. The title is Forgive Us Our Trespasses.

              This very morning I’ve been working on what will be my fifth novel, a modern western called Cowboys Come Home.

              Take a look at http://www.montedutton.com from time to time. You’ll find my non-fiction observations there. Thanks a heap for reading me.

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