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Adventures in Time and Space (Star Trek)by Mary P Taylor
From Chapter 1: The Captain's Captain — James Tiberius Kirk
James Tiberius Kirk was the first captain of the Enterprise NCC 1701 introduced to viewers in the original series, although he was the third Enterprise captain after April (introduced in the animated Star Trek series) and Pike (introduced in the original series episode "The Menagerie"). Kirk, played so unforgettably by William Shatner, set the standard by which all the other Star Trek captains are judged. Yet who was this man, this captain among captains who led so ably, capturing the imaginations of so many? James T. Kirk above all else was a natural leader. An adventurer and explorer, he was a strong captain willing to display that strength whenever necessary. He often acted first and asked questions later. He was a galactic cowboy, a lover of women, and a passionate fighter. Captain Kirk was brave, intelligent, resourceful, clever, and impulsive. He was a nice Iowa farmboy who worked in outer space.
Captain Kirk was a friend willing to risk everything, ultimately suffering the loss of his son for others dear to his heart. Kirk was a man wed to his ship but who, nevertheless, destroyed her in order to cheat death — yet again — for himself and his friends. He was a man willing to sacrifice the woman he loved to save the future of humanity. He was introspective but decisive. He cared about doing the right thing.
When I think of Kirk, I see a man in action, constantly moving, restless to make a difference in his world. Kirk has been likened to C.S. Forester's Horatio Hornblower, and the resemblance is tangible. James T. Kirk was a cowboy captain when the galactic community was still a frontier to Earth and when the United Federation of Planets needed starship captains who could operate independently of home and authority. Kirk and his crew were often required to provide justice and civilization to a sometimes outlaw and always dangerous frontier. In so doing, they encountered civilizations both advanced and primitive, malicious and benign. They sometimes interfered with developing civilizations in ways that arguably violated Starfleet's Prime Directive but invariably had their best interests at heart.
Ultimately, Captain James T. Kirk was human; he was fallible, and he knew it, but he was always willing to learn from his mistakes, to grow and to change. He was a hero in the truest and most classic sense. Kirk is the main character in most of the original series novels, although several stand out as providing special moments that capture Kirk's spirit and character at their best.
Star Trek: The Motion Picture, a novelization by Gene Roddenberry
Told as an historic and biographical tale, the TMP novelization is the first of Pocket's Star Trek adventures and includes a preface by then-Admiral James T. Kirk. In his preface, Admiral Kirk provided a brief commentary on his command of the Enterprise in the original five-year mission. I admire Kirk's willing self-assessment. It says much for the strength of his character that instead of crowing about his accomplishment in bringing so many of his crew home, he reminded the reader of those who lost their lives during the mission. Despite Kirk's self-criticism and soul-searching, bringing home his ship and most of his original crew was no mean accomplishment. His willingness to consider his flaws and possible mistakes and to put the needs of his crew before his own, though, speaks well of his character. It therefore seems appropriate that the first book excerpted in Star Trek: Adventures in Time and Space describes this captain's captain in his own words.
Admiral Kirk's Preface
My name is James Tiberius Kirk. Kirk because my father and his male forebears followed the old custom of passing along a family identity name. I received James because it was both the name of my father's beloved brother as well as that of my mother's first love instructor. Tiberius, as I am forever tired of explaining, was the Roman emperor whose life for some unfathomable reason fascinated my grandfather Samuel.
This is not trivial information. For example, the fact that I use an old-fashioned male surname says a lot about both me and the service to which I belong. Although the male-surname custom has become rare among humans elsewhere, it remains a fairly common thing among those of us in Starfleet. We are a highly conservative and strongly individualistic group. The old customs die hard with us. We submit ourselves to starship discipline because we know it is made necessary by the realities of deep-space exploration. We are proud that each of us has accepted this discipline voluntarily — and doubly proud when neither temptation nor jeopardy is able to shake our obedience to the oath we have taken.
Some critics have characterized us of Starfleet as "primitives," and with some justification. In some ways, we do resemble our forebears of a couple of centuries ago more than we do most people today. We are not part of those increasingly large numbers of humans who seem willing to submerge their own identities into the groups to which they belong. I am prepared to accept the possibility that these so-called new humans represent a more highly evolved breed, capable of finding rewards in group consciousness that we more primitive individuals will never know. For the present, however, this new breed of human makes a poor space traveler, and Starfleet must depend on us "primitives" for deep-space exploration.
It seems an almost absurd claim that we "primitives" make better space travelers than the highly evolved, superbly intelligent and adaptable new humans. The reason for this paradox is best explained in a Vulcan study of Starfleet's early years during which vessel disappearances, crew defections, and mutinies had brought deep-space exploration to a near halt. This once controversial report diagnosed those mysterious losses as being caused directly by the fact that Starfleet's recruitment standards were dangerously high. That is, Starfleet Academy cadets were then being selected from applicants having the highest possible test scores on all categories of intelligence and adaptability. Understandably, it was believed that such qualities would be helpful in dealing with the unusually varied life patterns which starship crews encounter during deep-space exploration.
Something of the opposite turned out to be true. The problem was that sooner or later starship crew members must inevitably deal with life forms more evolved and advanced than their own. The result was that these superbly intelligent and flexible minds being sent out by Starfleet could not help but be seduced eventually by the higher philosophies, aspirations, and consciousness levels being encountered.
I have always found it amusing that my Academy class was the first group selected by Starfleet on the basis of somewhat more limited intellectual agility. It is made doubly amusing, of course, by the fact that our five-year mission was so well documented, due to an ill-conceived notion by Starfleet that the return of the U.S.S. Enterprise merited public notice. Unfortunately, Starfleet's enthusiasm affected even those who chronicled our adventures, and we were all painted somewhat larger than life, especially myself.
Eventually, I found that I had been fictionalized into some sort of "modern Ulysses" and it has been painful to see my command decisions of those years so widely applauded, whereas the plain facts are that ninety-four of our crew met violent deaths during those years — and many of them would still be alive if I had acted either more quickly or more wisely. Nor have I been as foolishly courageous as depicted. I have never happily invited injury; I have disliked in the extreme every duty circumstance which has required me to risk my life. But there appears to be something in the nature of depicters of popular events which leads them into the habit of exaggeration. As a result, I became determined that if I ever again found myself involved in an affair attracting public attention, I would insist that some way be found to tell the story more accurately.
As some of you will know, I did become involved in such an affair — in fact, an event which threatened the very existence of Earth. Unfortunately, this has again brought me to the attention of those who record such happenings. Accordingly, although there may be many other ways in which this story is told or depicted, I have insisted that it also be set down in a written manuscript which would be subject to my correction and my final approval. This is that manuscript, presented to you here as an old-style printed book. While I cannot control other depictions of these events that you may see, hear, and feel, I can promise that every description, idea, and word on these pages is the exact and true story of Vejur and Earth as it was seen, heard, and felt by...
James T. Kirk
Best Destiny, by Diane Carey
The television series provided only a few details about Kirk's early life: he was from Iowa, he had a brother named Sam, and he took Starfleet Academy very seriously, so seriously in fact that he was an annoyance to other students. We learned in "The Conscience of the King" that Kirk was witness to and scarred by tragic events at Tarsus Four, when Kodos the Executioner exterminated thousands in a test of his eugenics theories. Because these facts about Kirk are mere tidbits from his life before his command, fans and writers hungered for answers to other questions, particularly concerning what led Kirk to a life in Starfleet.
Best Destiny, by Diane Carey, answered the critical question of why Kirk was driven to Starfleet and how he learned that his first, best, and only viable destiny was as a starship captain. Ms. Carey clearly loves James T. Kirk. She has written some extraordinary stories for him, and she seems to understand this man's psyche with a depth that is unmatched. In Best Destiny, she captured his soul. Best Destiny is not quite a biography, but it is the story of the key events that changed Kirk's life. It is the story of an adolescent in pain, traumatized by his horrific experience on Tarsus Four and estranged from and resentful of his absentee father, Starfleet officer George Kirk. The biographical story is framed by a mission set shortly after the events of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. As the crew struggled with the emotional consequences of decommissioning, Kirk encountered an enemy from his past, and while the Enterprise raced to the rescue of a starship in danger, the captain's past unfolded before him.
Young Jimmy Kirk was a natural leader yet a rebel without a cause who led other youngsters into danger for no clear purpose. This natural but misdirected leader seemed likely to lead criminals rather than a starship crew, and his resentment of his father and traumatic experience at Tarsus Four colored every decision he made. There are times when the reader longs to slap Jimmy; in many ways, he was an obnoxious little thug. Gradually, though, the reader starts to see the glimmerings of the man he would become. In Best Destiny, Jimmy was tempered by the fire of life-threatening danger. He was greatly affected by the example of courage and self-sacrifice provided not only by Captain Robert April, but by his father as well. Ultimately, Jimmy became a hero who understood his father and Starfleet in ways he could not have imagined before. Jimmy Kirk learned that he had a destiny and chose to follow it. In the framing story, Captain James Kirk learned that even after his long career in Starfleet, he had more to give and a continuing destiny to follow.
In this passage from Best Destiny, Jimmy Kirk, a young punk with no wisdom and even less judgment, led a group of children into danger, using some of the leadership qualities that would eventually serve him as a starship captain.
A rope footbridge over the swollen North Skunk River, Mahaska County, Iowa
"STICK WITH ME AND YOU'LL GET THE RIDE OF YOUR LIVES."
A surly clutch of teenagers clung to those words as tightly as they clung to the tatters of the ages-old jute footbridge. Beneath them, the swollen Skunk River lazily whispered dare you, dare you, dare you and suggested they fall on in.
"Don't look down! Nobody look down."
Immediately the grunts and complaints went silent. Nobody wanted to get chewed out by the stocky boy with the sawdust-colored curls and the stingers in his eyes.
"Keep moving," he added. "No looking down."
"It'll be our luck a tourist tram floats by and sees us," Zack Malkin said. He wanted to scratch his neck, but he didn't dare let go. "We're on the Tramway's historical trail, you know."
"What if they do?" Lucy Pogue spat. Her soggy, bloodshot eyes were wide and her hands twitched on the prickly ropes. "You didn't think of that did you, genius?"
"We'll wave at 'em, all right?" their leader snapped, scowling from under the brim of his grandfather's touring cap. With a shift of his shoulders he rearranged his high school jacket to free his arms a little. "Shut up and keep moving. One step at a time. And don't look down."
"I don't like this, Jimmy," said a brittle, fragile boy who had trouble breathing. He didn't look down, but he did glance back over the third of the walkway they'd already crossed. "Nobody told us we'd have to cross something like this."
"There's going to be a lot out there that nobody tells us about. We've got to find out for ourselves," their leader said, "before it's too late."
Tom Beauvais squinted into the sun and cracked, "You mean before we get caught."
"We could just sit at home," Jimmy shot back. "Be real safe that way."
The only person ahead of him was a girl whose powdery complexion barely picked up the light of the western sun. Her small eyes were like clear gelatin — hardly any color but lots of shine — and they were tightened with fear. Her cheeks were large, the shape and color of eggshells, and on a less swanlike creature might have been ghastly.
Shivering, she murmured, "Jimmy..."
"Keep moving," he told her softly. "Don't try to hurry. We're not going to move any faster than you can go. That's why I had you go first. I'm right here next to you, Emily. Nothing can possibly happen."
Their muscular leader curled his fingers around the jute and packtwine ropes and willed the sixty-foot-long footbridge to hold up.
It stretched from one cliff to another, east to west over the river. It had two sides for handholds and a walkway on the bottom that once had been tight and safe — a long time ago. Now it was rotting. An adventure, or a death wish.
Jimmy gritted his teeth at it. It'd been there for two decades, so it could just stay there another ten minutes. He'd argued them down about how this was the best way to cross the Skunk without getting caught, and how the authorities would be after them by now, and anything else he could tell them to keep them in line. He tried to make this look easy, to pretend the old ropes weren't scratching his palms and to act light on his feet.
Giving the others his voice to concentrate on, he kept talking.
"Always think four or five moves ahead. That's the trick."
"If it's such a good trick," Tom countered, "why didn't you think of one of us going across this wreck first to see if it would hold up?"
His brow in a permanent furrow, Jimmy tightened his eyes and tried to slip around the truth. "Better this way. Even distribution of weight."
He held his breath, hoping nobody would notice how little sense that made. He squinted into the west and ignored the sun's glow off his own peach-fuzzed cheeks.
Peach fuzz. That was his father's phrase. Peach fuzz, baby face, greenhorn. Damn his cheeks for fitting that description. Deliberately he looked away from the sunlight.
"We're pioneers," he said. "We're going straight up the Oregon Trail, just like the people who settled this country and put in the railroads and the towns like Riverside across this part of Iowa. Only instead of horses or steel, we're hopping the Stampede."
Though he had played for team spirit, his only reward was a nasty grunt from Tom. "Sure. We're going to hop onto the fastest train in North America while it's doing nine hundred kpm five centimeters above the ground, in a tube. That'll be a whole new definition of 'friction.'"
"Glad you're paying attention, Beauvais."
"Glad you can fly, Kirk."
Jimmy shot a glare at him. Warning.
"Even the Stampede stops once in a while," he said. "All we have to do is make Omaha at loading time and we're aboard. Next stop, Oregon, and next after that...South America."
"What're we gonna do when we get to South America?" Quentin Monroe asked.
"Anything we damned well please." Jimmy glanced past Lucy and Zack again to see how Quentin was doing, and hoped Beauvais would look after the little guy.
Quentin's brown face was ink-spotted with big black freckles, enhanced by his spongy black hair and perpetually worried eyes, which in this light looked like two more inkspots. Jimmy hadn't wanted to bring him along. Quentin was only fourteen and everybody else in the gang was sixteen, he'd never held his own in a fight, and he hadn't even been to the city, but there was something about the frail black boy that said I'm okay, I'll grow, I'll learn.
So here he was, on the great adventure with the big kids, and Jimmy had to live with the decision. There was no turning back now.
"Maybe we'll become archaeologists," he said. He tightened his brow and nodded in agreement with himself. Inch by inch he urged them toward the middle of the rope walk. "Hack through rain forests looking for the ancient Mayan city-states. Find out why they went extinct after a thousand years of — "
"They found those."
Jimmy stopped. So did everybody else. The bridge shuddered.
"What?" he snapped. "What'd you say?"
Quentin clung to the ropes and blinked. "They found them. The Mayan palaces. A long time ago. You know...how the twentieth-century archaeologists found lance heads in the walls, and later they proved that the city was under siege, and how the siege forced them to do all their farming behind the walls, and how the crop yields fell off, and how — "
"Where'd you hear all this?"
"It was...in our history of science book."
"Books!" Jimmy spat out. "You're going to believe what you read in some book? Why waste your time with a book when you can get out and live!"
Quentin fell silent, ashamed that he had wasted his time.
Jimmy shook his head and barked, "Keep moving."
Suddenly an arm of wind swept downriver, pushing the bridge with its enormous hand. The ropes started whining and the whole footbridge began to sway.
"Damn, I almost dropped my pack!" Zack complained, and tried to rearrange his load.
"Don't do that," Jimmy said. "You've got the fake IDs."
"How'd you get those, Zack?" Quentin asked.
"Tapped into the voting records for people who hadn't voted in five years. Figured they were long gone, so we took the IDs of any children they had who were the right age five years ago to be eighteen now. Took their numbers, and bing — we're legal."
"Damn. Good idea."
"It was Jimmy's idea. I just did the hardware."
"Told you," Jimmy said. "You don't have to worry about anything. I've got it all stitched up."
Lucy grimaced. "These ropes stink! What if they're rotten? What if they break? We'll die here like some goddamned trout in that rolling throw-up down there."
"We're only thirty feet over the water."
"Water can break your neck if you hit it at the wrong angle," Zack provided.
Lucy let her lips peel back and broke the looking-down rule. "My astrologer told me not to do anything dangerous this week. I knew I should've paid attention to the signs — now look where I am."
With a stern scowl Jimmy said, "Don't believe in it."
Zack nudged Lucy another sidestep west and called to Jimmy over the wind as it howled between them. "You don't believe in destiny?"
"Didn't say that," Jimmy called. "Said I don't believe in predestiny."
"Because somebody else has to tell me what mine is. That means somebody else is in charge. Means somebody else knows more about me than I do. Malkin, see this main line?" He put his hand on the only braided line on the side of the rope bridge. "That's the one you hang on to. No, the other one. Look at me. This one."
Lucy's voice sounded a little steadier when she spoke again. "I know there's something about the stars and when you're born and all. I've seen enough. I've had crazy things happen that can't be coincidence. Like when they advised me to start packing a knife, and the next week I had to use it."
Glad he had managed to distract her, Jimmy said, "The stars care whether Lucy Pogue carries a knife? We know what stars are. We know that's one." He spared a hand and poked a forefinger at the bright golden sky. "Am I supposed to believe some arrangement of things in the sky makes life just a package deal? A frame-up all set before we're born? What if your mother trips on a pig like mine did and you're born a month early? Which date sets destiny — my birthday, or a month later? Which stars should I look at? A batch of hot atoms a billion light-years away has some influence on my future?" He snorted.
Some of the gang nodded. Others didn't. So he continued talking as long as they were moving.
"Destiny and predestiny are two different things. Predestiny is pointless. If it's true, we might as well turn around right now, go back to Riverside, and sit on our bulkheads, because whatever's going to happen's gonna happen anyway."
"How's destiny any different?" Tom Beauvais challenged.
A crooked grin danced on Jimmy's face as he leered back at them.
"That's the one I'm in charge of."
From the west, the sun buttered his apricot curls and sweat glittered on his brow. To the others, he looked like a demon with a license to smile. If anyone in the group wondered how he had talked them into running away, a moment like this snuffed the thought. Something in the ballistics of Jimmy Kirk was tough enough and vivid enough to keep them going across the shabby old rope bridge, stepping one by one over their better judgments.
Zack coughed as the wind filled his lungs, and he forced himself to move along the ropes, to stay distracted, and not to look down. "Sounds like plain luck to me."
"It sounds like that, but it's not," Jimmy said. He held out one hand, fingers spread, as though gripping the imaginary brick with which he would lay his foundation. "Luck is blind chance. Destiny...that you build."
He eyed them, one by one, even Beauvais, until the belief returned to each face.
Then he said, "Move along. Twenty more feet and we're there."
The river whispered below. They moved slowly toward the west bank, a few inches at a time, each burdened with a backpack of survival supplies and foodstuffs.
Lucy's voice showed she was trying to keep control as she asked, "How are we going to find our way to Omaha?"
Jimmy helped Emily find a handhold. "Dead reckoning."
"Basic sail training."
"Who's gonna sail?" Tom cracked. "We're going on a cargo carrier!"
"It's basic seamanship, Beauvais. Get used to it. The captain's going to expect us to know this stuff. The STD formula. Speed, time, distance. If you know your constant speed and distance, like how far you'll go and how fast, you can figure how long it'll take. If you know your time and speed, you can figure how far — "
"Maybe we should go to space instead," Zack suggested.
"Space? Cold and empty. We got it all right here."
He dismissed the subject with his tone and twisted forward, watching Emily's tiny feet custodially. He moved his own feet carefully after hers, along the miserable knots and fraying lines that once had been sturdy enough to carry teams of Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts across the Skunk River. Long abandoned, the sixty-foot ropewalk had been left up for sentimental value as part of the Tramview of the Oregon Trail. He and Zack had worked for almost an hour breaking through the protective grating that kept hikers off the old footbridge. Zack could break into anything. That's how they'd gotten the food in the backpacks — it was how they'd gotten the backpacks. That's how they'd finagled tickets for the Stampede Tubetrain.
All they had to do was get to Omaha without being spotted for runaways, and they'd never be seen again.
Jimmy shook his head and forced himself to stop thinking about what they'd stolen. What choice did they have? They hadn't been given anything, so they just had to take somebody else's. That was fair.
"Ah — ah — Jimmyyyyy!"
The shriek cracked across the ravine at the same moment as the rope bridge waggled hideously to the snap of parting jute — and Quentin went over backward. His hand clawed uselessly at a broken line, then at open air.
Lucy screamed, driving the needle of terror under all their skin.
Jimmy cranked around in time to see Quentin bounce against the ropes on the other side of the bridge and bend them almost all the way down to the level of the walkway. Part of the braided walkway caught the small of Quentin's back and bounced him stiffly, but finally held. And there he was, hanging.
The boy was arched backward over the outermost strands, his upper body in midair, hanging halfway out over the greedy water. His loaded pack yanked at his shoulders and held his arms straight out sideways. The whole bridge wobbled back and forth, back and forth, in a sickening bounce.
None of them did any more than freeze in place, clinging to their own ropes.
"Nobody move!" Jimmy bellowed. "I'll do it!"
"Goddammit!" Beauvais shouted. His face twisted. "This was your stupid idea! We could've just taken the long way, over ground, but no! We had to do it Kirk's way! Why does anybody listen to a blowfish like you!"
"Cram it, bulkhead. I'm busy." Jimmy unkinked his fingers from the scratchy ropes and forced himself to move back toward Lucy.
"Please, Jimmy," Emily murmured, "don't let him fall..."
Jimmy pressed her hand just before she was out of reach. "I'm not going to let him fall. Nobody else move. Quentin, hold still."
They were only a couple of stories up, but Jimmy knew it was enough to kill. Below, the muddy water chewed and gurgled.
Jimmy maneuvered around Lucy, then around Zack, careful not to dislodge either of them from their hold. The ropes shivered, but no more parted or frayed.
"It'll be all right," he said steadily. "Everybody stay calm. He just put his foot on the wrong braid. Nothing else is breaking."
"Tell the ropes," Beauvais snarled.
Jimmy's face flamed, and he stopped moving toward Quentin. "I'm telling the damn ropes!" he bellowed. "Leave me alone and let me do this."
Beauvais rearranged his grip and muttered, "Okay, okay...just get him."
Below them Quentin dangled backward, his hips tangled in the old ropes, and gasped as though he couldn't remember how to breathe. "J-J-Jimmy — "
"I'm almost there. Don't whine."
Jimmy reached Quentin and lowered himself to the braided cordage, his own breath coming in rags. Old tendons wobbled and grated against the cross-braids, threatening to open beneath him. By the time he got above the dangling boy, his palms were bleeding.
Quentin's left foot was caught between two braids that had twisted as he went backward. If he turned his foot now, it would slip through and he would be tossed out like a circus performer on a springboard. No one wanted to point that out; they all saw it.
A finger, a limb, a joint at a time, Jimmy lowered himself to his hands and knees onto the walkway of the bridge. The old jute cut into the flesh of his kneecaps right through his clothing. He bit his lip, ignored the pain, and searched for a secure position over Quentin's entangled legs.
There wasn't one.
The ropes quivered defiantly under him, refusing to cooperate. Ultimately he arranged himself on his stomach across the braids, right beside Quentin's leg. He shoved an arm through the side ropes of the bridge.
"Monroe, give me your hand."
Nothing happened. Spread halfway out in open air, the younger boy was muttering unintelligible sounds.
"Monroe, what are you doing?"
"Well, do that later, will you? Give me your hand."
"I can't — move — "
Jimmy lowered his voice, literally made it darker, grittier, meaner. "This is one of those times when you've got two possible destinies, right?"
"Pick the best one."
No one else breathed, no matter how the rising wind pushed air between their clenched teeth.
"Now!" Jimmy ordered.
A brown hand arched upward toward the sky. Jimmy caught it, and hauled.
"My arm! My arm!" Quentin bellowed as his body cranked sideways, upward.
Jimmy twisted his fingers into the boy's shirt collar. "Beauvais, take his backpack. The rest of you, keep moving. Zack, you're in charge."
"What? I don't want to be in charge."
"You don't have any choice, do you?"
"This was your idea."
"Fine. Lucy can be in charge."
The bridge waggled.
"I don't want it either!" Lucy protested.
"We're more than halfway across!" Jimmy shouted. "All you have to do is go twenty more feet! How many decisions do you have to make?"
"I'll be in charge," Tom said as he slung the extra backpack over his shoulder.
Jimmy cranked upward the other way. "I didn't pick you!"
"We didn't 'pick' you either."
"Yes, you did. This was all my plan."
"Some plan! We're not even out of Iowa and we're already in trouble. You're all gas, Kirk."
"Look, any time you're ready to turn back — "
The soft beck from above drifted down and silenced the disharmony.
Jimmy twisted back toward the others. "What is it, Emily?"
The girl stood with each narrow white hand on a side of the bridge, unable to push back her hair as the wind blew it forward over her cheeks and into her eyes. "Quentin," she murmured.
"I know, I've got him," he grumbled, and returned his attention to where it should have been.
Quentin's brown face had gone to clay by the time Jimmy hauled him up and pulled his legs out of the ropes he'd gotten tangled in. He had both eyes knotted shut and refused to open them until Jimmy threatened to leave him in the middle of the bridge.
Then Jimmy took him by the shoulders and almost broke his shoulder blades. "Quentin, this is how it is," he said. "We're going on. It's just rope. We're not going to be beaten by rope. Are you with me?"
He didn't wait for an answer. He straightened, placed Quentin's hands on the side support lines, nodded toward the bank, and started picking his way westward again. He didn't look back. Quentin would follow, or be left out there.
But through his boots he felt the pressure on the braided rope behind him, and knew he would win that bet.
On the bank Tom Beauvais was the last to jump onto solid ground. They turned to watch Jimmy bring Quentin all the way in.
Jimmy jumped onto the hard, rocky ground, pulled Quentin up behind him, then stepped aside as Zack and Lucy came forward to help Quentin stumble onto the grass.
When he turned and looked up at Tom Beauva
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