Genre: Gen, humor, angst, h/c, with teeny smidgen of het
Characters: Kirk mostly, but quite a few appearances by McCoy, Spock, Uhura, and the rest of the crew
Spoilers/warnings: Movie spoilers up for grabs, some mention of violence, angst
Length: Approx. 5500 words
Notes: Written for yanyann's prompt over at trek_exchange . Ummm... surprise! I tried writing one of your other prompts, but this came out instead! Just couldn't resist the call of a "5 things" fic, I guess. Enjoy!
Notes the second: For any Magnificent Seven (television series) fans out there, there’s a quote from an ep in here. Kudos if you can find it. :D
Notes the third: There's lots of gratuitous universal communicator malfunctions in here. I've never seen an ep with the communicator in it, so... just roll with it, I guess. :D Thanks to stray for the cheerleading and eight for the beta.
Summary: Cultural miscommunications are annoying for everyone, but they’re almost always painful for Jim Kirk. AKA, Five times aliens mistook Kirk for someone (or something) else, and one time they didn’t.
It’s their third diplomatic mission and everything seems to be moving along smoothly. Spock says he’s quite impressed by the Yarkians’ recent advances in technology, and Kirk can’t help but agree. Within a relatively short period of time (about a century by Earth’s time standards) the Yarkians have gone from walking across their planet on foot to the early stages of interstellar flight.
Their technological experiments drew the Enterprise to the planet in the first place, but it was Uhura’s communication skills that gave them the chance to converse pleasantly with this new civilization--the Yarkians had their weapons drawn the moment Kirk’s away team landed, but no shots had been fired thanks to the lieutenant’s quick thinking.
(Kirk’s partially convinced that Uhura’s beauty and skin color, which is similar to the Yarkians’ dark tones, also had a hand in the peaceful exchange. He’s pretty sure Spock’s thinking the same thing, judging by the fact that he hasn’t moved farther than a meter from her side the entire time.)
They’re observing the test run of the latest Yarkian-designed spaceship when everything changes. Uhura and the Yarkian leader, Patiq, are quietly conversing. Kirk’s standing too far away for his universal translator to pick up the conversation, but something the leader says causes Uhura and Spock to exchange worried glances (not that Spock would ever look worried, but Uhura’s obviously worried enough for the both of them).
Uhura starts to say something, but is abruptly cut off as Patiq raises a hand, points at Kirk, and shouts, “Take the pryeta!” Before anyone can move, one of Patiq’s bodyguards has snapped some kind of thick collar around the captain’s neck.
“What the--” Kirk’s startled protest is suddenly cut off as a bolt of electricity shoots through his entire body, causing his muscles to lock up for a moment. They go limp just as quickly, but a pair of giant hands wraps around his chest before he can hit the ground.
Within seconds chaos completely consumes the group. Uhura and Patiq are debating heatedly with each other, but the electricity’s disabled Kirk’s universal translator, so the only thing he understands is that they’re arguing about him, since they keep saying “pryeta” over and over again. Not that he’d completely understand what they’re talking about anyway, as the translator hadn’t recognized what “pryeta” meant, but judging by the collar around his neck and the fact that his first officer and Ensign Watkins from engineering are currently engaged in a fistfight with two Yarkians, Kirk quickly deduces that “pryeta” is not a good thing for him to be.
The other members of the away team are so caught up in their own fights they don’t seem to realize that the guard with his arms wrapped in a death grip around Kirk is currently trying to drag him away. “A little he-ouch!” His shout turns into a yelp as the collar shocks him again.
At this point, Kirk has no control over his muscles, so his head is leaning back limply against the Yarkian’s chest and he’s completely unable to help himself. Fortunately, Spock has excellent hearing even in the heat of battle, and he glances over when he hears Kirk’s strangled cry. When he sees the bodyguard dragging Kirk towards the Yarkians’ new spaceship, he reaches out and nerve-pinches every Yarkian around him, including Patiq. Kirk would wince in sympathy--he knows first-hand how much those hurt--but he’s a little too busy trying to get his muscles to move again to really care.
Uhura moves to help the ensign, who has been knocked to the ground by a vicious punch, as Spock swiftly moves to help Kirk, who has control over his eyelids and little else. Before the Yarkian can move, Spock’s squeezed the side of his neck. He manages to grab Kirk’s arms and yank him away from the bodyguard before he falls. Kirk’s surprised that Spock doesn’t stagger when his entire dead weight crashes against the Vulcan. He’d comment on it, but he’s figured out by now that the collar only shocks him when he speaks, so needless to say he stays silent.
Spock flips his communicator open and tersely snaps, “Spock to Enterprise. Beam us up now.”
McCoy’s there with Scott when they rematerialize in the transporter room. “What the hell happened this time?” he demands as he helps Spock ease Kirk onto the gurney he’s got waiting. (Kirk makes a mental note to suggest they keep a few of the gurneys in the transporter room at all times. Just in case.)
Uhura looks faintly embarrassed as she steps off the lift. “Somehow Patiq got the impression that we were going to let the captain be his pryeta.”
By now Kirk’s regained enough muscle control to weakly smack at McCoy when he starts scanning him with the medical tricorder. “I’ll be fine, just get this thing off me!" he whispers fiercely, grateful when the collar doesn’t shock him again. McCoy shoots him an odd look and asks him why he’s whispering, but Kirk ignores him as he looks at his first officer. “What’s a pryeta, anyway?”
“As far as we could discern, a pryeta is the Yarkian equivalent of a pet,” Spock replies.
Uhura nods as Kirk stares at them with wide eyes and McCoy and Scott pause in mid-motion to gape in astonishment. She smirks a little as she says, “He wanted you to be his dog.” Eyeing the collar, she adds, “He obviously knew you would be one of those annoying little yippy ones.”
Kirk thinks it’s far from funny, but it takes ten minutes for Scott to stop laughing, and another twenty before McCoy stops chuckling long enough for Kirk to let him come near his neck with a laser scalpel.
They’re just finishing up their eighth diplomatic mission and Kirk’s inwardly optimistic that they might be able to finish this trip up without having to send anyone to sickbay, which would be a career first for him. The Federation’s relationship with Arcek has always been tentative at best, but the recent civil war that devastated both the planet’s population and resources has put the government in a negotiable mood, which means things have been going well.
The away team’s preparing to head back to the plaza where they first beamed down when things get out of hand. Kirk’s at the front, still quietly talking to Arcek’s equivalent of a prime minister, when out of nowhere he’s tackled to the ground, rolling and bouncing across the marble floor from the force of the blow.
He ends up pinned beneath a severely scarred Arcekian with wild green eyes. “You will take no more of us, Thyrel!” he shouts before bringing both fists down to connect with Kirk’s forehead.
Kirk wakes up four and a half hours later in sickbay with an excruciating headache and tears streaming down his face from the pain. McCoy’s hovering nearby, worry lines etched deep into his forehead. Before he can even attempt to ask what happened, the CMO’s giving him a sedative and everything goes black again.
The next time he wakes up, it’s nearing the end of Delta shift, and through barely-opened eyes he can see both Spock and McCoy sitting nearby, staring at something on a PADD.
“Hey, Jim. Welcome back,” McCoy wearily declares, getting up to grab his tricorder. The pair move into Kirk’s direct line of sight, which he is eternally grateful for--moving anything besides his eyelids more than a millimeter causes the pounding in his head to pick up rhythm almost exponentially.
“Wh’appen’d?” he groans as McCoy scans him.
“While we were journeying back to the center plaza, you were attacked by an Arcekian,” Spock tells him, voice soft.
“Damn bastard nearly bashed your head in,” McCoy grumbles tersely, his voice also quiet. “Cracked your skull in two places, busted your nose, and gave you a helluva set of shiners, Kid.”
Kirk blinks a few times as he processes the information, trying to recall anything from the attack. A word flitters across his mind. “Why’d’e call me ‘Thyrel?’”
McCoy’s shoulders notably stiffen, and even with a pounding headache, swollen eye sockets, and dim light, Kirk can see Spock’s face harden subtly. “He apparently mistook you for an infamous slave trader,” Spock says after a moment. “During their worldwide civil war, a stranger came and abducted several hundred Arcekians--the majority of whom were sold into slavery across the nearby solar systems.”
McCoy snorts without humor as he preps another hypo. “Not that you look anything like him,” he mutters.
Kirk blinks once in confusion. “Then why?”
McCoy glances at Spock for a moment before answering, “Your eyes. He claims they’re the same intense shade of blue. And apparently, the only thing people remember after seeing him is the color of his eyes.” Kirk wants to find out more, but McCoy’s hypo sends him into oblivion once again.
When he wakes up for a third time, he orders Spock to return to Arcek and make sure the government knows there won’t be any repercussions from the incident. He doesn’t want one random act of violence to prevent the Arcekians from finally joining the Federation.
(Three years later, after they encounter the real Thyrel, Jim spends an hour in the bathroom in his quarters, throwing up and avoiding looking in the mirror. He’s not sure if he’ll ever be able to look in a mirror again without seeing his eyes and thinking of a mass murderer.)
Gari IV is a paradise, covered in crystal clear water and white sandy beaches. The people are friendly, the females are beautiful (even if he’d resolved before beaming down to not have sex), the natural food is actually good, and--best of all--it’s warm, a vast improvement over the last two icy planets they visited.
The only problem they’ve run into is the communication barrier. Starfleet has never come across any language even remotely similar to the Garis’, which renders the so-called universal translator useless. Fortunately, Uhura had come through once again and through the use of both hand signals and words, they’ve been able to communicate relatively smoothly with the Garis.
It’s their last night on the planet, and all of the senior officers, as well as a few other crew members, have beamed down to participate in the feast the Garis are hosting. There’s enough food to feed an army, and Kirk’s stomach is pleasantly full. He hasn’t felt this relaxed in months--he'd almost forgotten what completely relaxing felt like. As much as he lives for it, two years as captain of a starship has worn him down, and he’s grateful for the opportunity to have a laid-back mission for once.
The setting sun is warm upon his face, and the Garis had been kind enough to offer him the most comfortable chair they had--one that lets him stretch out so that he’s half-laying down. Between the warm air and the rich food, he finds himself dozing off despite his best efforts to stay awake.
“Man, Jim, you’ve really lost your touch,” McCoy teases, nudging Kirk’s shoulder and jerking him from a doze. “The sun’s not even set and you’re already falling asleep. What happened to partying ’til the sun comes up?”
Kirk waves a hand half-heartedly in his friend’s direction, turning over and curling up on his side. “G’way, B’ns,” he mumbles sleepily.
He feels a cool hand on his face a moment later. “Jeez, Kid, you’re burning up!” The fingers on his forehead move to pry an eye open.
His vision’s severely blurred from the exhaustion that suddenly seems to have him firmly in its grip, but Kirk can still see the worry lines beginning to reemerge on McCoy’s forehead as the CMO curses softly. “S’a p’rty, B’ns,” he slurs, reaching up to pat McCoy’s head. He misses and swipes his friend’s nose before his hand drops into the sand. “S’poss’d t’r’lax,” Kirk finishes, burying his head further into the cushioned chair.
The hand’s on his forehead again, and he hears McCoy calling for Spock. “Somethin’s wrong,” the doctor murmurs softly. “His pupils aren’t dilating. He’s been drugged.”
By now Kirk’s almost asleep, but he’s yanked back from the brink of blissful unconsciousness when another hand--much warmer this time--pries his eye open again. This time it’s not McCoy staring at him, but Spock, a definite crease between his eyebrows. “St’p it,” Kirk complains, jerking his head out of the Vulcan’s grip.
He hears Spock declare “I concur, Doctor,” before everything fades away.
It takes almost three days for the massive amount of sedatives to clear his system so he can wake up, and another twelve hours for Kirk to be alert enough to finally comprehend McCoy’s explanation.
When they’d first landed on Gari IV, they’d assumed that when the Garis called Kirk “ditus,” they were using their closest equivalent for “captain,” so Uhura had referred to Kirk as “ditus” several times during their conversations.
Turns out “ditus” actually means “sacrifice,” as the others quickly figured out when the Garis had tried to take Kirk’s unconscious body and toss it in the ocean.
Kirk’s the only person onboard the Enterprise who finds the situation even remotely amusing. The first time Kirk jokingly accuses Uhura of trying to subtly overthrow him by allowing the Garis to use him as their annual sacrifice, she punches him in the face.
But two months later, when she slyly advises him to watch his back or she just might “accidentally” volunteer him as some new civilization’s sacrifice, Kirk laughs and claps her on the shoulder, relieved that she’s finally forgiven herself.
Things are tense on this mission. The Chopquis’ chancellor has only ever addressed Kirk. He looks down his beak-like nose with absolute disdain at the other members of the away team, and the rest of the Chopqui High Council has been only a few degrees warmer than hostile to everyone except Kirk.
Which is a mystery in and of itself, really. During their conversations via interstellar communications, the Chopquis had been more than friendly. Spock had even described them as jovial, especially when Kirk had said there were over nine-hundred crew members onboard the Enterprise after the chancellor had asked. They’d let out a series of clicks and whistles that nearly damaged Spock’s hearing, but Uhura said that was the Chopqui equivalent of a laugh.
From the moment they landed, the Chopquis gave Kirk everything he asked for, but barely acknowledged the existence of the four other crew members that had come along with him. Spock seems unruffled, but Uhura and the ensign from medical are livid. The Chopqui haven’t noticed (or if they have, they don’t seem to care), but Kirk can tell simply from the way Uhura’s fists clench and unclench, and from the sighs of exasperation Ensign Harris lets slip through his nose.
They’ve just finished a tour of the High Council’s administrative building when Kirk finally asks Chancellor Wiqot, “May I speak to you alone for a moment, sir?”
Wiqot tilts his head a little as he eyes the other three members of the High Council, who nod their approval. They move to a room just off the hallway they had been standing in, out of earshot of the others but within eyesight, which keeps them both relaxed. “What is on your mind, Captain Kirk?”
Kirk keeps his voice calm and neutral as he inquires, “Have I or my crew members offended you in some way?”
The chancellor looks at Kirk for a moment, and Kirk figures he’d probably be blinking in astonishment if he had eyelids. “What has led you to think this?” he asks.
“You haven’t once acknowledged any of my officers that I brought along with me on this trip, and I’m sure they have many more questions regarding your culture that they would like to learn about--questions I wouldn’t even consider asking,” the captain explains.
Wiqot gives him the same confused look. “When we first spoke, you said you commanded many crew, correct?”
Kirk nods in response to Wiqot’s query. “Yes, there are over nine-hundred people on my ship.”
“And it is your ship, correct?”
“Well, in a manner of speaking, yes.” When Wiqot looks even more bewildered, he explains, “I don’t personally own the Enterprise, but Starfleet has given me the authorization to command the ship.”
The confused look fades as Wiqot’s tiny mouth twists into a small smile. “But you are an y’hilla, yes?”
“An y’hilla? I’m afraid I don’t know what that is,” Kirk replies slowly.
Wiqot frowns in concentration for a moment before saying, “Your crew members, they are your y’hitto, which makes you their… master, I believe is your word. You are their y’hilla.”
Kirk frowns in thought as he processes the strange words. He knows they talked about y’hitto once on the tour. It takes a moment before he remembers--Wiqot had mentioned there were a few dozen y’hitto ready to serve the High Council’s physical needs at a moment’s notice. They stayed at the administrative building’s brothel…
“No, no! It’s not--I'm not like that,” Kirk says hurriedly. Wiqot’s staring at him in confusion again, so the captain hastily explains, “They work on the ship. They don’t serve me like that. I give them orders and they obey them. I’m more like a boss, not a master.”
Wiqot’s still confused. “But you said they were your crew.”
“Well, yes, but--"
“You laid claim to them--several times, in fact. Your choice of words repeatedly claimed them. They are your y’hitto, and you are the y’hilla of your ship. We do not interact with y’hitto, which is why we have not directly addressed them. One does not interact with another y’hilla’s y’hitto.”
“All due respect, sir, they’re not my y’hitto,” Kirk says firmly. “They’re my… coworkers. My family.”
Wiqot gazes at Kirk for a long moment, one clawed finger coming up to tap the side of his beak-nose thoughtfully. “So you are not the y’hilla of your ship?”
“No,” Kirk replies with a shake of his head.
“And you do not have nine-hundred y’hitto?”
Kirk stares at him, mouth gaping open in shock at the prospect. “No,” he says emphatically. “God, no!”
Wiqot’s hand drops to his side as he frowns. “Then, Captain Kirk, I am grieved to say you are no longer welcome in this building. It is reserved only for y’hilla and their y’hitto.”
Kirk suppresses the urge to sigh and instead respectfully says, “Then we shall return to our ship and resume our discussions there. I don’t want to dishonor your traditions.” Wiqot doesn’t look as friendly as he had before this particular discussion, but the frown does fade some as he agrees.
Within minutes, the captain is leading his landing crew back to the roof of the building so Scott can beam them back to the ship. “Sir, what just happened?” Harris asks after a moment.
“Yes, Captain, I, too, am curious as to why our talks with the Chopquis have suddenly been terminated,” Spock adds.
“They’re not terminated, Mr. Spock. Just… relocated,” Kirk replies.
“Apparently we are not suitable to roam these halls after all, Lieutenant,” Kirk says to Uhura as they reach the roof. He flips open his communicator. “Kirk to Enterprise. Four to beam up, Scotty.”
"Aye, Cap’n. Give me a minute to compensate for the magnetic field.”
“Alright. Kirk out.”
As Kirk pockets his communicator again, Uhura asks, “Permission to speak freely, sir?”
Kirk quirks an eyebrow at her, curious. “Permission granted, Lieutenant.”
“Why the hell aren’t we ‘suitable’?” she demands immediately.
Kirk feels his cheeks flush a little as he struggles to come up with an answer. “There was… a cultural misunderstanding,” he says finally.
Spock’s eyebrow rises, which Kirk has long recognized as a sign of astonishment and/or skepticism. “How so, Captain?”
Kirk rubs at the back of his neck sheepishly, an action that he knows has stirred their curiosity. (After all, it’s a pretty well-known fact that James T. Kirk is never embarrassed.) “They thought I was the Enterprise’s y’hilla. Since I’m not, we’re not supposed to be in this building, as it’s reserved for y’hilla.”
“What?” Harris asks, face contorting in confusion. “What does that mean?”
“Well, when I said ‘my crew,’ I guess they literally thought I meant the crew was mine. Like… you know… mine,” Kirk replies uneasily, glancing up towards the sky and wondering what’s taking Scott so long to get him out of this mess.
“I’m afraid I still don’t understand,” Uhura says.
Kirk lowers his gaze from the sky. “They thought I meant that you… that everyone… that I was the crew’s master,” he finally says.
The other three stare at him for a moment. “They thought we were your y’hitto,” Spock suddenly deduces.
When Kirk nods once, Uhura snorts. “They seriously thought… you couldn’t possibly… nine-hundred people?” She stares at him incredulously before chuckling and declaring, “Even someone with your reputation couldn’t handle that many people at one time, Kirk.”
Kirk rolls his eyes and sees Spock noting something down on his PADD. “What are you doing, Spock?”
“Merely making a note for future reference, Captain,” Spock says calmly, not looking up from his PADD. There’s the faintest hint of amusement in his voice when he says, “It appears we need to reassess our use of possessive adjectives and pronouns when making contact with new worlds. I am sure I speak for the entire crew when I say we do not want to be mistaken as your y’hitto again.”
They’re on shore leave on a small planet near the edge of the Alpha Quadrant, and the small bar Kirk’s currently camped out in is mostly filled with his crew. He’s sitting at a small table with McCoy, Sulu, and Chekov, playing poker and getting cleaned out spectacularly by his young Russian navigator.
“Geez, kid!” McCoy groans when Chekov lays down a royal flush and proceeds to rake in the pot.
“Where have you been hiding your poker face?” Kirk asks, sipping at his Budweiser Classic.
Chekov grins but remains silent, so Sulu answers, “He’s been playing games with Uhura and Spock.”
Both McCoy and Kirk’s eyebrows shoot up as Chekov punches the helmsman in the arm, glaring at him. Sulu merely smirks and deals out the next hand. “Maybe I should get a few lessons from them,” McCoy mutters, frowning as he stares at his hand. “Damn it, Sulu, this hand’s got about as much chance as a one-legged man in a butt-kicking contest!” he exclaims, tossing the cards on the table in frustration.
“And he wonders why he never wins a hand--he bluffs so well, after all,” Kirk mutters with a grin, tossing a card on the table as McCoy scowls fiercely at him. Chekov chuckles and Sulu shakes his head, a smile tugging his lips as he draws another card.
Kirk blinks in surprise and looks up as an older man hobbles over to their table, dark eyes locked with Kirk’s. “Can… can I help you?” the captain asks, pushing his chair back and standing.
The man grins, revealing a mouth filled with rotten teeth, as he holds out his hand. “Patrick Wells. We were stationed together at this base for a bit, remember?”
Kirk eyes the wrinkled hand for a moment before gently grasping it with his own. “Oh… uh… yeah--how’ve you been?”
Wells barks out a laugh, hand firmly clenching Kirk’s as he yanks him forward into a hug. A few of Kirk’s crew, including Sulu, McCoy, and Spock--who’s lingering in the back--shoot to their feet at the move, but Kirk, who’s doing his best to suppress his confusion, shakes his head once. After a moment, the others sit as Wells pulls back.
“Ya don’t remember me,” he declares. When Kirk looks sheepish, he laughs again and adds, “Not that I’m surprised. The only time we spent together was the night of that poker tourney years ago. Ya knocked me out in the semi-final. I ain’t never had so much fun getting cleaned out in my life!”
Kirk laughs a little as Wells continues to shake his hand. “Oh… oh yeah. That was a great night. For me, anyway.”
Wells raises an eyebrow at that. “I seem ta remember you getting your own clock cleaned during the final round.”
Kirk swallows. “Well… you win some, you lose a lot.”
“Ain’t that the truth!” Wells replies with a guffaw. He eyes Kirk up and down for a long moment. “Damn, Kirk, the years sure have been good to ya.”
The bar’s practically silent at this point, save for a teenage girl who’s trying to force her way through the crowd. “I’m sorry,” she says softly to Kirk as she comes up behind the older man, shooting the captain an apologetic look. “C’mon, Grandad, your beer’s gonna go flat if we don’t sit down now,” she says loudly into Wells’ ear.
Wells drops Kirk’s hand and places an arm around the girl’s shoulders. “Kirk, this here’s my granddaughter, Emma. Emma, this here’s Tiberius Kirk.”
Emma flushes a little but loudly declares, “Nice to meet you!” In a soft whisper, she asks, “What’s your real name?”
“James Tiberius Kirk,” Kirk replies just as quietly. When Emma’s eyes widen, he shrugs and says, “I think he’s talking about my grandfather.”
“Emma’s mama and daddy are out gallivanting on some starship,” Wells tells Kirk, ignorant of the whispered conversation he’s just missed.
“That’s… nice,” Kirk replies uneasily.
“How ‘bout that boy of yours? George, isn’t it? How’s he doin’?” Wells asks. “Still floatin’ around out there?”
The bar is absolutely silent now, and Kirk can feel a hundred pairs of eyes looking at him. His throat closes up for a moment as Emma, who looks horrified, hisses in her grandfather’s ear, “No, Grandad, you remember hearing those reports about the Kelvin--"
“Hush, now, Emma, I’m tryin’ to have a proper conversation here!” Wells scolds before looking back to Kirk expectantly.
Kirk clears his throat a little before replying, “Yeah. He’s… he’s still floatin’ around.” He pastes a small smile on his face and keeps the bitterness in his tone to a bare minimum as he adds, “To be honest, we can’t ever get him to come down.”
He hears McCoy suck in a breath. “Jim…”
Wells chuckles a little and shakes his head. “Well, ya know how kids get. Get those dreams of being big-shot space travelers and never want to set foot on solid ground again.”
“Yeah,” Kirk says, voice hollow. He jerks a thumb over his shoulder. “I’ve gotta run, Wells. It was… good to see you again.”
“Well alright,” Wells drawls, holding his hand out again. Kirk shakes it once before letting go. “Feel free to stop by for a rematch if you’re ever in the neighborhood again, Kirk. Bring that boy of yours by sometime, too.”
Kirk swallows again. “Yeah. Sure will.” He turns away and glances down at his friends. Chekov and Sulu glance away quickly, but McCoy’s staring at him with an indiscernible look on his face.
Kirk lets his eyes drop to the surface of the table. “I’ll meet you back at the ship,” he mutters quietly.
Before anyone can stop him, Kirk’s jogging out the door. When his feet hit the dirt road outside, he starts running as fast as he can, heading anywhere but here.
It’s always been his first instinct to beat the crap out of something when he’s upset and has the room for it. Since his years at the Academy, however, he’s channeled that frustrated energy into running as hard and as fast as possible, as though part of him hopes that maybe someday he’ll finally outrun the turmoil of his father’s legacy.
The rest of him knows he never will.
They’ve been at the Shtila colony for a week now. A vicious cycle of solar flares interfered with the colony’s atmospheric regulators, creating a series of storms that caused havoc for the residents and resulted in massive amounts of structural damage to the buildings. The entire crew has beamed down at one time or another in order to help repair and rebuild the colony, and the work is practically finished.
“Alright, this is the last of it,” McCoy declares as he and Chekov gently ease a crate down to the ground at Pison’s feet. “That should be enough to at least get your med center operational again.”
“Thank you,” the colony’s leader says emphatically, easing off the top of the crate to take a look at the vials of assorted vaccines inside.
“Use it sparingly,” McCoy orders as Pison re-covers the crate. “There’s not enough in there for everyone, and it’s going to be a couple weeks before Starfleet Medical can get more shipped out here.”
Pison nods, a determined look prominent on his scaly face as he waves over two of his own workers to properly store the crate. “We will use this medicine only when it is needed, Doctor.”
“Good,” the CMO replies with a small grin. He looks up and glances at the newly repaired medical center. “I’m impressed at how fast y’all were able to rebuild.”
“It would not have been possible without Starfleet’s help,” Pison says.
Chekov rubs at the back of his neck wearily as he gazes around the small town. “It is a good zing ze keptin had everyone onboard assist ze process.”
Pison nods in firm agreement. “It has definitely sped things up. Where is your captain, anyway?”
“He should be resting,” McCoy grumbles as Chekov shrugs. “He’s been down here the entire week. Damn fool’s gonna run himself into the ground one of these days.”
Suddenly Kirk comes sprinting out between two buildings, a young Shtila child clinging fiercely to his shoulders. “Faster, faster!” the child shrieks, glancing over his shoulder. “They’re gonna catch us!”
Pison frowns as McCoy and Chekov tense. “Who’s gonna catch you? Damn it, Jim, what’s going on?” the CMO barks, reaching out and grabbing Kirk’s arm as Chekov draws his phaser. “Who’s chasing you?”
The young captain pauses for a moment, gasping for air as he looks back at the direction he’s just come from. His face is flushed and his eyes are sparkling as he grins at the trio and points at the alley between two buildings. “They’re after us, Bones! They’re vicious and they won’t stop until they’ve captured us!” he declares, flailing his arms dramatically before wiping the sweat from his forehead.
They turn to see a small group of Shtila children racing toward them, each one laughing and shrieking as they spot Kirk. “There! We’re catching up!” the leader of the group shouts.
The Shtila on Kirk’s back spurs his heels into the captain’s sides. “Run, run! They’re gonna get us!”
Kirk grins as he playfully shoves McCoy out of his way. “Every man for himself!” he cries and runs off again.
“Well, we know what ze keptin has been doing,” Chekov declares, holstering his phaser with a grin as the children sprint past them.
There’s a sharp increase in the amount of squeals and shrieks as Kirk slows down just enough to let the kids catch him. With a dramatic yell, he falls to his knees and disappears underneath a pile of small Shtilas. A few of the Enterprise’s crew--who had stepped away from their various tasks to see what the commotion was about--smile and laugh as they head back to work.
“Hey, stop, that tickles!” Kirk suddenly cries through a burst of laughter. Instead of stopping, the children just shriek louder as they all attempt to make the captain laugh even more.
McCoy crosses his arms and shakes his head. “Behold the mighty captain of the USS Enterprise,” he declares wryly. “Maybe we should just leave him here. He fits in so well.”
“I zink ze children would like zat,” Chekov agrees.
Pison chuckles as Kirk suddenly roars loudly and gets to his feet. Two of the kids are hanging from his neck, one’s wrapped around his waist, and there’s one dangling from each arm. “Your captain is a quxata,” Pison says when Kirk growls and marches around with the children still hanging all over him, sending them into another fit of giggles and squeals.
McCoy and Chekov glance at the leader in confusion. “What does zat mean?” the young navigator queries.
Pison smiles warmly, watching as Kirk gently sets the children down on the ground before jogging away. With a war cry, the young Shtilas start giving chase once more. “I believe it translates as ‘a good man.’”
McCoy snorts, but his eyes are fond as he gruffly says, “Yeah. He’s definitely a quxata.”