“I need to get through to Starfleet Command.”
“Your call is appreciated. All our lines are currently busy but an operator will be with you shortly....”
“Goddammit, somebody answer this piece of shit--”
“Good morning sir, and how may I help you?”
“I need an Admiral, now!”
“And who may you be, sir?”
“Oh fuck that, for heaven’s sake! It’s code myrtleberries.”
“I don’t have that under my list of codes. And your language is not appreciated, sir, courtesy in dealing with all beings is--”
“Look under your emergency codes, you idiot, before I shove that code list down your throat!"
“Sir, your tone is--. Oh my. Code myrtleberry. Top priority and super-secret. I’ve never had one of these before. I don’t suppose you can tell me what--”
“What does top-secret sound like to you? Just put me through!”
“Well, be like that then. Going through....”
McCoy lent a weary head against the console. It had taken him all morning to get this far, top priority code and all. No wonder Nero had been able to waltz into the middle of the Federation. The intelligence officers who had seen him coming were probably still on hold.
“Pike here. Whaddaya want? I’m busy.”
“Sir, it’s Lieutenant-Commander McCoy, CMO of the Enterprise. I’m calling in code myrtleberry.”
“Code what? What the hell does that mean?”
“Code myrtleberry, sir!”
“Oh just tell me what’s going on. You wouldn’t believe how many fucking secret codes the Admiralty has. You could waste a lifetime learning them all.”
“It’s the code for the CMO to call in his captain as crazy, sir. It’s Kirk. He’s gone... um... a bit off his rocker.”
“He’s gone space-crazy, has he? Damn, now I owe Phil Boyce 500 credits. He always said Kirk’s psychological profile was as riddled with holes as a Swiss cheese and we were mad to hand him our biggest ship.”
“Out of interest, sir, why did y’all give him the Enterprise?”
Pike sighed. “You know how it is, it seemed like a good idea at the time. It was just a PR job, put our prettiest crew in charge of our biggest ship, and send out lots of glossy photographs to try and calm down the gullible public after the whole Narada debacle. Kirk was meant to just drive the ship round the parking lot a few times, not actually leave the sector with it. But we’ve been having some odd problems getting communiques through to him lately.”
“That would be the switch under Lieutenant Uhura’s console, sir, the one that brings up the static override whenever there are orders Kirk doesn’t want to hear.”
“Oh, that old trick. Should have seen that coming. So, how crazy is he? Minor demi-god unstable, or full-on lord-of-the-universe insane?”
“Full on, sir. Starfleet Command can’t be trusted. Everything is a conspiracy. He and Spock are going to save the universe. Apparently some old Vulcan told them they have destiny which he thinks means he can do whatever he likes. And the rest of the crew are following him blindly. After the whole Narada thing, they think he can walk on water.”
“And how come you’re immune?”
“Natural cynicism, sir. A man tells me he’s Jesus Christ, the first thing I want to know is if he’s taking his meds. I know Uhura’s reporting to Kirk on all outbound comms so I jumped ship at V’hulla to call in the emergency code. So now what happens?”
“Why would I know? What do you suggest?”
“There’s a code for this. Doesn’t that mean that there’s a plan of action?”
“That’s a huge leap of faith, son. Creating codes is easy. A plan of action - now that sounds like work.”
“Well, don’t we need to get the Enterprise back, sir?”
“Get the Enterprise back,” mused Pike. “Now that does sound like a plan.” His voice became slightly muffled. “Richard. You’ll have to finish the 18 holes without me. Something’s come up.”
“Sir, this plan of yours, it is an official plan, right?”
“Of course, what makes you think otherwise?”
“Well, that fact that we are crawling through a hangar in the dead of night, apparently intending to steal a captured Romulan warbird.”
“Use your common sense, son. The entire raison d'être for Kirk and the Enterprise is the PR value. We can’t let word leak out that we’ve let a 23-year-old with virtually no field experience hijack our flagship and sail it off into the black. It would be a media disaster. This is a top-secret mission, McCoy, on a need-to-know basis only.”
“Right, but there is a line of command here? In Starfleet intelligence, maybe?”
“Starfleet intelligence? Now there’s an oxymoron. Why in heaven’s name would we tell them? Trust me, son, it’ll all turn out just fine.”
McCoy leopard-crawled resignedly along an oily floor, peering through the gloom, wondering why his life seemed to consist of being bossed around by over-confident command types.
“Any particular reason we’re taking a Romulan warbird, sir?”
“Well, you told me Kirk won’t accept orders from the Federation. But I bet he’s only too happy to engage with the enemy. We’ll catch him up with the warbird and then I can order him to stand down in person.”
“And that’s the entire plan, sir?”
McCoy sighed. He’d known Starfleet was going to be a mistake from the moment he first set foot on that goddamned shuttle. He should have stayed in Georgia.
“And here we are, free as a bird! I love it when a plan comes together.”
McCoy retched weakly in a corner of the bridge. He had understood that the fact that they’d taken off from the planet without authorization was likely to mean a chase. And therefore Pike’s evasive maneuvers at the helm were required to effect their escape. But he could have done without the damned victory rolls once they’d dropped their pursuers. Pike the Admiral apparently hid within him a frustrated pilot.
“This is boring.”
McCoy sighed, again. Now that they’d evaded pursuit, found the location of the Enterprise and set off after her at warp 7, there was nothing to be done for at least the next three days. He’d hoped to spend the time catching up on sleep. Pike didn’t seem to need much sleep.
“It seems to me, sir, that - leaving aside Kirk-generated crises and inexplicably ill-omened away missions - deep space is pretty boring.”
“Too true. That’s why you need a big ship. So you can boss the minions when there’s nothing else to do. Still, it beats being an Admiral. Take this as the essence of my lifetime of wisdom, son. Never, ever let them promote you. I have never seen so many achieve so little, other than on the golf course.”
McCoy dozed while Pike fiddled with the controls and investigated the ship. Romulan warbirds were tiny compared to Federation ships. He couldn’t imagine how the crew coped when the ship was fully manned. With just two of them it was hard enough getting away from Pike.
“Did I mention that I’m bored?” McCoy woke to find Pike staring at him with peculiar intensity. “I need something to do. Or someone. You’re divorced from some woman. Does that mean you’re irredeemably straight?”
McCoy backed away slowly. “I think so, sir. I’ve never tried anything else.”
“Pity. I’ll just have to find something else to do. If I could just get this engine up to warp 8 we’d be there that much quicker.” He turned away and began to flick through a thick manual that he’d found under the captain’s chair. “Now that’s interesting. If I just crossed those wires and then rerouted the energy source from here to there....”
Pike disappeared under the console, pulling out various panels to reveal a mess of wiring. McCoy took a look at the manual, which was incomprehensible to him. “You read Romulan, sir?”
“Just a bit. Started teaching myself when I was holed up in hospital after my visit with Nero.”
“You know enough to read an engineering manual?”
“Oh, more or less. An engine is an engine. How different can it be?” Pike pushed and poked and pulled and prodded. “It would help if they didn’t make all their damned wires shades of green though. I haven’t got to all the names for shades of green yet. Still, if I just try crossing these two...”
Pike the Admiral apparently hid a frustrated engineer too. McCoy pinched the bridge of his nose. The things he did in the name of the Federation. At a minimum, he deserved the Legion of Honor when all this was over. “Sir, when I said I was straight, I just meant that I hadn’t had the chance to... you know. Not that I wasn’t interested.”
Pike popped up from under the console. “Why didn’t you say so? I’m sure warp 7 will do for the moment.”
Pike appeared to approach sex in much the same way he approached an engine. If he put one hand here and another there, while doing this with his tongue, what affect did that have? And if he then repeated it, but did that with his tongue instead, would that result in a heightened response? And once he had catalogued all the possible variables, could the same results be achieved with repetition, and could they be further enhanced?
McCoy began the experiment lying on his back thinking of the Federation. After some time he was lying on his back thinking how he could get Pike to do that thing with his tongue again. Sometime later he was lying on his back thinking that if he didn’t get to come sometime soon he was going to implode. And shortly thereafter he was lying on his back, Pike now sprawled across his chest, wondering how long it would take the Admiral to get it up again and whether there were any drugs in his medical kit that he could use to speed the process along a bit.
The result was that three days later the men were still profoundly distracted when a voice suddenly came booming over the ship’s intercom. “There you are, you cock-sucking sons of whores, may your mothers die in the winds of a thousand storms. Where have you been?”
Pike and McCoy hastily scrambled back into their uniforms to find the face of a Romulan female commander peering at them with interest over the viewscreen. “Federation pig-dogs! Pretty ones too. What are you doing in our ship? Seize them!”
In short order the two men found themselves beamed aboard what appeared to be the mother ship of the small fleet of warbirds to which their stolen ship apparently belonged.
“I am Aem i-Lhiennas t'Rllaillieu, commander general,” she declared. “And the two of you will die terrible deaths like the vile cockroaches that--” She stopped suddenly and peered at McCoy. “Wait! Are you the doctor from the Enterprise? Can you autograph my poster?”
She whipped out the most popular of the set of posters that Starfleet had produced of the brave, noble (and all remarkably pretty) command crew of the Federation’s flagship. “I told you it was a damn good PR campaign,” whispered Pike. As a bewildered McCoy signed other members of the crew shyly came forward with similar offerings. One even had the full set of bridge crew action dolls (with bonus CMO included!).
“Enough of this nonsense,” declared Pike - who seemed rather put out that no one showed any interest whatsoever in him. “We must get our ship back!”
“You lost your ship? That was careless,” commented Aem i-Lhiennas t'Rllaillieu. “What happened?”
“It’s Captain Kirk,” said McCoy. “He’s gone a bit....” He hesitated.
“Oh, he’s gone space-crazy, has he? So it happens to your lot too? We lose one captain in five to space-madness. In the old days it was good! We could hunt them down and blow them to the everlasting furnaces of the fundament. It is not like that anymore.” She sounded sulky. “Now Romulan Command - may their ancestors burn to small crisps of ash and blow away to eternity on the solar winds - lecture us about limited resources and sustainable development and tell us to talk the captains down and recapture the ships. There is no honor in such things!”
She glared to the two humans. “I will destroy your ship in a inferno of glory that will blaze across the sector. And while the hunt is on, I will amuse myself with the pretty one from the bridge crew. Throw the other one in the brig.”
As an insulted Pike was being dragged from the bridge and McCoy pushed to his knees in front of the commander, the ship’s first officer - Subcommander tr'Kheann of the action doll collection - began to protest volubly. “You said there would be no more others! You promised!”
“Out of my way underling, bastard son of a mangy street cur. This one is too pretty to ignore.”
“Enterprise coming in range, ma’am!” called out a crew member.
With the commander-general conveniently distracted tr'Kheann grabbed Pike and McCoy and dragged them towards the beaming pad. “I can send you across to your ship,” he muttered. “I have enough trouble fending off the competition from the rest of this crew without adding you two into the mix. Oh fickle is the heart of inconstant woman!”
“Give it up son,” advised Pike. “You’re never going to pin that one down to just one man. Some things really are a no-win scenario.”
As Pike and McCoy flickered into existence on the Enterprise transporter pad, they were surprised to see tr'Kheann at their side. He shrugged. “I have come to see if your women are any more amenable than ours. This one is particularly pretty.” He was clutching the action doll of Lieutenant Uhura.
Pike strode onto the bridge where Kirk was lounged across the command chair, one leg hooked up over the armrest.
“Captain James T. Kirk! At attention!” Kirk jumped up out of his seat like a naughty schoolboy caught in the headmaster’s chair. “You are relieved from duty for rank insubordination and delusions of deity.”
Pike rounded on Spock. “You! What the hell have you been playing at? You were sent on this mission to provide adult supervision of the kid.”
“Sir, it is foretold in the stars. I have heard the voice of the future. You must understand.... To meet your future self, to hear the wisdom of the century to come, it does things to your mind...”
“Oh for fuck’s sake. You’re relieved of duty too. Is no one sane here? You!” He turned on Uhura. “Why didn’t you turn them in?”
“Kirk has designs on Spock, sir,” protested Uhura. “I can see it every time he looks at him. He is thinking deeply inappropriate thoughts. He wants to do all manner of unspeakable things to him. I can’t leave the two of them alone. I need to stand by my man!”
“Sulu! What’s your excuse?” Sulu looked up guiltily from where he was busy signing tr'Kheann’s bridge crew poster.
“Kirk threw himself into the void to save my life, sir. I will follow him into the jaws of death and beyond!”
“Hopeless! The lot of you. I’m assuming command. Kirk and Spock, lock yourselves in the brig!”
“No sir, please!” protested Uhura. “Not alone together in the brig. Who knows what will happen?”
Chekov sniggered. “Ve know exactly vhat vill happen.” He wilted under Uhura’s deadly glare.
“What a woman,” sighed tr'Kheann admiringly. “He does not deserve her!”
“You like her?” demanded McCoy incredulously. “She’s scary as hell!”
“Exactly. She is everything that a great lady should be, a veritable paragon of womanhood!”
Kirk dragged Spock towards the turbolift. “It is our destiny, Mr Spock. It has been foretold by your other self. We will be imprisoned many times in our search for the truth. We will be denied at every turn. The Admiralty will betray us time and again.” He glared accusingly at Pike. “Together we will overcome! To the brig, Mr Spock, where we will console each other in our time of need.”
“No!” protested Uhura. tr'Kheann threw himself at her feet.
“Fair lady of the stars, he is not worth an iota of your time. Let me worship you as you deserve. Let me teach you the inner secrets of the sacred fourth Romulan dialect that only initiates know of. Let me share with you the phallic edifice of our declined subjunctive!”
Uhura gazed down at the Romulan. “A fourth dialect you say? Irresistible! Admiral, Kirk can have him.”
Pike waved in acknowledgement from where he was very comfortably seated in the captain’s chair, patting the Enterprise control panels fondly. “She’s just perfect,” he sighed. “Snatched from under my nose by that brat of a boy. I should never have scraped him off that bar floor. Well, I have her back and she’s mine! My precious. All I need is a first officer--”
“Volunteering for duty, sir!” tr'Kheann leapt up from his place at Uhura’s feet and snapped to attention. “I like this ship. It’s exciting. And the crew is much prettier than in our fleet.”
“Very well, Mr tr'Kheann. Crew, to your places. Sulu, set course for that-a-way!”
McCoy sidled up to the captain’s chair. “Admiral, you are taking this ship straight back to Starfleet Command, right?”
Pike shifted uncomfortably in his seat. “Just a quick spin round the quadrant first? Discover one or two planets utterly undiscovered except by the natives who’ve been living there all along? Come on McCoy, give a man a break. I’ve only just got her back.”
“Sir, this is entirely inappropriate and the kind of behavior that got Kirk into trouble in the first place.”
Pike pouted. “I’ll get you one of those new electron resonance scanners for the medbay.”
“I can’t be bribed, sir.”
“A new scanner and a full set of now incredibly rare Vulcan exoscalpels.”
“This conversation is inappropriate, sir.”
“An electron resonance scanner, Vulcan exoscalpels and a pallet of those Orion triglycerminde drugs that haven’t yet been approved by the Federation Drugs Administration.”
“Really.” Pike dropped his voice to a confidential whisper. “And I’ll let you fuck me in the captain’s chair during a quiet beta shift.”
McCoy’s eyes narrowed. “An electron resonance scanner, Vulcan exoscalpels, unlimited supplies of triglycerminde, exclusive access to your bed and I get to fuck you when and where I want.”
“Done! I like a man who drives a hard bargain. So doctor, what’s your verdict on my mental health?”
“As sane as our renowned Commander in Chief, Admiral Jonathan Archer himself sir,” declared McCoy, fingers crossed behind his back.
“Excellent! Mr Sulu. Maximum warp. Punch it!”
- THE END -