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Black Heart

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It had been a week since the first official take off of the Starship Enterprise, under the leadership of an already well known Captain, James T. Kirk. The new Captain had earned his leadership, and his crew were proud to be working under his orders. The launch itself had gone off with a great start, the gigantic space shuttle shaped and shined until it looked brand new again, it’s roaring engines brought back to life after a battering against the Romulan ship.

Kirk was in the zone instantly. Giving direct orders to his loyal crew, changing course when needed, travelling through the most beautiful parts of space, and making his father proud while doing it was the greatest feeling in the entire universe. He felt at home, like his life finally had a meaning, like he was finally doing something that was worth the long wait.

It felt like years ago since he’d entered the academy, so called studying until early hours of the morning and taking tests that he whizzed through without a flinch, also known as wasting a pretty long time of his life. Three years to be exact, three memorable years he’d been there. Sure, the academy had its upside, bars, girls, boys, technology, more bars, even more girls, possibly even more boys, Jim found those points to be extra important in the curriculum.

It all went smoothly until the smartass; know it all, pointy eared Spock had to intervene with his test that he technically didn’t cheat in. Well, he technically did since he changed the system entirely, but he’d never admit that to the Vulcan. Then some annoying, angry guys from another planet had to be all extreme and take out revenge on the planet Vulcan and almost, but not quite, wipe out Earth.

Luckily Captain James T. Kirk was a smartass himself. Hell, he may have the looks of an arrogant human being and the urge to pick a fight on every damn man that drives him over the edge, and not to forget the constant need to get into someone’s pants, but James T. Kirk was just as intelligent as his new found friend Spock. Well, almost, he didn’t have the genetically engineered brain of a Vulcan.

Said captain was currently sitting in his high chair with a red apple in his hand, whistling away as he swung around with his legs in the air that made him look more like a child than a man giving out orders. “Time to warp!” he shouted, taking a bite of his apple.

“Ai captain.” Sulu smiled at his captain’s childish behaviour as he spun around on the chair, the Asian pilot worked his fingers on the many buttons in front of him and pushed the silver leaver forward.

The ship made an immense, thunderous rumble as the engines shook, and the numerous machines of the colossal transport grew in speed. Within seconds, as Sulu pushed down a red button, the ship let out a clamorous bang and sped off into the glittering darkness of space. The Enterprise flew through the darkness of space, leaving a trail of glittering dust as it grew in speed.

“Status, Chekov?” Kirk asked the young Russian engineer, as he finally sat still in his chair and leaned forward.

Pavel Chekov moved his fingers across the lit up keyboard, pushing and prodding buttons faster than anyone could even attempt. “Sixty seconds until approach, Captain.” Chekov answered in his thick Russian accent.

“Good stuff.” Kirk crunched down on his apple and hoisted himself up animatedly. “I want you to raise the ship above the clouds, make sure we’re not seen by any life form on that planet, and slow down the engines as we approach our destination. Starfleet informed me of the alien’s good sight.”

“Yes, sir.” Sulu answered, gliding his fingers across the computerized screen.

Kirk grinned, feeling a rush of pride towards his crew already, knowing they’d get the enterprise to their target safe and sound. He watched as Spock and Lieutenant Thomas flicked through switches and communicated well through the procedures of landing, as Uhura picked up the signals of life on their designated planet, as Sulu’s eyes traced the darkness of space through the screen waiting patiently yet intensely to hit the switch at the right time.

Then he came upon the youngest member of Starfleet to ever set foot upon the Enterprise. His eyes followed Pavel Chekov’s every move as his hands glided across the screen with ease, like he automatically knew which button to press, his bright knowledgeable eyes examining the ships every move as it flew through space. Kirk knew he could trust the kid with his life to guide them to safety; to him he was a pure genius, sure he’d thought differently when he’d first met the Russian whiz kid, but that soon changed as he got to know him.

When he was seventeen he got into trouble for stealing his neighbour’s ducks from the barn, and accidentally setting their stacks of hay on fire, which resulted in him having to clean out every room in the house and mowing the lawn for the next six months. But Chekov, he could somehow see the whiz kid sitting at a desk in University at the age of fifteen, scribbling confusing codes and equations of Physics into his notebook.

“Ten seconds until approach, Captain.” Chekov said, thrusting a lever forward slowly as a speck of blue dust came into view through the front screen.

Kirk’s attention was averted to the window as he took a few small steps forward, keeping his eyes on the large screen of glass that looked out into the star studded blanket of pure darkness. There, in front of them, was a glowing sphere in the middle of space, the colour of blue and white like a beautiful clear sky.

As the ship grew nearer to the azure planet it became larger in size, almost the exact same size as Earth, its sheet of blue covering the globe shining magnificently against the dark shade of space. The blue shine of the globe blended into bright colours of green and white, moving together, as if a painted canvas was brought to life.

“Five seconds…” Kirk heard Chekov state as they got closer. “…four, three, two…”

Quicker than lightning the ship hurtled through the galaxy, its engines roaring into life. Within seconds, as Chekov counted down to one they had arrived, coming to a sudden halt above the humungous planet as the engines died down descending into a quiet humming sound. The colour of blue came from the darkening sky, the green from the tip of fur trees, and the white from the greying clouds that rose toward them.

The gigantic vessel slowly soared down through the atmosphere of the planet; downward it fell through a sheet of cloud and fog until getting caught in a cascade of lightly falling snow, the wind gently tracing its icy fingers alongside the ship. Beautiful snowflakes danced in the sapphire sky, diving gracefully to the blanket of white below.

 “Wow.” Uhura stood from her chair, her eyes shining at the beautiful sight in front of them.

Kirk smirked at his crew as each member stared at the winter wonderland below; their expressions of complete awe and delight like they’d never seen snow before. It was like looking into a snow globe, a stunning view of pure, white snow, beautiful mountains covered to the tips and trees fluttering in the breeze.

The captain couldn’t help chuckle quietly, placing a hand on Sulu’s shoulder to get his attention he ordered, “Take us down quietly Sulu, three miles out from the village.”

“Yes Captain.” Sulu obliged, his hand covering the silver lever to his left. “Approaching the village in two minutes, four miles until landing.”

“Good.” Kirk squeezed his shoulder gently, and strolled to his seat sitting down not so elegantly. “Chekov, tell the crew we’ll be arriving at our destination in two minutes and remind them of important procedures, I also want you to alert the members of the landing crew to gather in the transportation room.”

“Yes, Sir.” Chekov nodded, spinning his chair around to face the front and clicking a few buttons here and there. “Enter authorization code 9, 5, victor, victor 2.” He said into the speaker on the board.

The computer made a short beep and spoke in a robotic voice. “Authorization declined.”

“Ah!” Chekov growled in annoyance, rubbing a hand down his face. “Not again.” He complained, getting pretty fed up at the computers lack of ability to understand a Russian accent when it hears one. “Enter authorization code 9, 5, victor, victor 2.”

The computer beeped once again. “Authorization accepted.” Chekov almost leaped in the air for joy, but decided it wouldn’t be a good idea.

“May I have your attention please,” Chekov spoke into the machine, his voice reverberating off the speakers around the enterprise. “In less than two minutes we will be approaching the village of our destination. The Captain would like to remind you that while we are on the planet Tiriâ no one is to leave the ship except for those that are members of the landing party, all missiles must be ready for attack and engines must not be switched off encase of emergency.”

 

Chekov took a breath and continued. “Members of the landing party must be ready and gather at the transportation room before arriving. Thank you for your time.”

 

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Leonard McCoy was never one for going on adventures. In fact, he despised them. Getting all dressed up in stupid clothes fit for the occurrence, taking as much precaution as possible just encase an ugly monster decides to attack, and making sure that you have every damned thing that you need for the trip or otherwise the whole thing would end up being pointless.

Yes, Leonard McCoy really did hate adventures. And this one was in the snow. On a snow covered planet, where there was no such thing as the sun, or t-shirts, or possibly even decent food because god knows where they get that from when all there is are mountains and trees and a few large lakes frozen over.

McCoy grunted as he zipped up the thick jacket he shoved on over his uniform, tugging at the sleeves before pulling on some gloves. Sighing deeply, and wishing he didn’t have to step off the nice, warm ship that had a bed and food, the Doctor picked up his bag of medical appliances and left his room. The ship had landed already, but he was sure Kirk wouldn’t mind him being a few minutes late.

As usual the enterprise was bustling with people walking up and down the corridor, some even running maybe in a hurry to catch an early dinner, not even bothered about the fact that they were on a dangerous planet. McCoy’s stomach decided to growl at the thought, he hadn’t eaten since early this morning being dragged and pushed towards patients who were so clumsy that they were either tripping over loose leads in the engineering room or getting their fingers jammed in the door.

McCoy entered the elevator down the hall, pushing the button for the transportation room the doors wisped shut and he was on the move. It only took merely two seconds before he’d reached the third floor, the doors opening just as fast as they’d closed, revealing a long, white hall that curved to the left.

The doctor stepped out of the lift and strolled down the corridor, his mood not getting any happier at the thought of going out into the damn snow and freezing cold weather. Passing a few doors to his right McCoy came to the end of the hall, a glass door was located around the bend to which he went through into the transportation room.

Inside Scotty was yapping away in his strong Scottish accent to three other crew members who were also wearing the thick enterprise jackets, they must be the rest of the landing party, judging by their huge grins and loud laughter Scotty was impressing them with his so called funny jokes. He’d never seen the men before, but they were all clad in jackets with a red stripe on each shoulder, which meant they were there for security.

McCoy rolled his eyes as Scotty let out a booming yell to give a bit of emphasis on the sound of a ship blowing up, seemed to do the trick for all the officers were laughing like a bunch of madmen. Scotty seemed to have that effect on people, his accent along with his enthusiasm just made people want to laugh until they were crying; McCoy couldn’t see the fun side of course.

“Bones!”

McCoy growled in annoyance as he felt a hand slap him hard on the shoulder, Jim’s new found way of greeting the older man, instead of being an old fashioned guy like most and just simply saying hello. Even Spock had found it quite bothersome.

The Captain strutted through the transportation room like he owned the place; technically he did, but McCoy rolled his eyes none the less. As Jim helped Scotty and the others set things up and check the bags for essentials, Sulu came strolling in through the glass doors, wrapped up in one of the bulky jackets. It meant that he was joining the landing party, and it didn’t surprise McCoy one bit that he was chosen, Kirk had developed a slight soft spot for the helmsman since the incident with the Romulans.

“Morning Doctor.” Sulu greeted way too cheerfully to be normal at that time in the morning.

“Morning.” McCoy answered gruffly. “You’re coming down this time?”

McCoy raised a questioning brow as Sulu suddenly began fiddling with the hem of his sleeve, a slight blush creeping its way onto his cheeks. “Uh… Yeah.”

McCoy decided to leave it at that. So he didn’t question, and Sulu didn’t say another word, instead he walked over to the three crew members who were checking off lists and being paranoid about things they’d forgotten or might need after all. The Japanese man helped them out, making sure he too hadn’t forgotten the essentials.

McCoy sure as hell didn’t need to do that, and he sure as hell couldn’t be bothered to waste time with a long list of to dos. All the doctor needed was his emergency medical kit, a library pad that could tell him information about things he’d find on the planet, and a small flask of hot southern comfort. He watched as the entire crew members, including Jim for Pete’s sake, double checked their bags and made sure their phasers were working and their weapons were easy to access in case of emergency.

McCoy grunted impatiently, the man just wanted to get out into the snow and get to the God damn village, have a nice chat, and get their asses back onto the ship before they get kidnapped, attacked or maybe even slaughtered.

“Good Morning, Doctor.”

McCoy was brought back to reality by a voice to his right, a young voice, with a thick Russian accent. He couldn’t believe he was hearing it, but that accent could only belong to one person on the ship. Which had better not mean what he thinks it means?

“What are you doing here kid?” McCoy asked the youngest member of Starfleet, who was also dressed snugly in a thick uniform coat, which sort of gave the answer away.

“I’m joining the landing party, Sir.” Chekov answered with an excited smile. “I’d really like to help.”

McCoy stared, the excitement evident in the boy’s eyes and wide grin. “That’s nice kid, but you do realise why we’re going to this village?”

Chekov’s smile disappeared instantly like he’d been hit in the face. “Yes Sir! Of course I do.”

“And,” McCoy continued. “You do realise how dangerous it could get down there?”

Chekov nodded slowly. “I do Sir.”

McCoy really wanted to push the kid through those glass doors and tell him to go sit his pretty backside back on the bridge, and let the grownups do all the hard work, but instead he ignored the Russian beside him and trudged towards the Captain. Jim was happily discussing protocol with the Scottish engineer, until the Doctor interrupted, the eyebrows raised and lips pursed.

 “Why the hell is the Russian kid coming?” McCoy asked his friend in a lowered but irritated tone.

Jim looked over to where Chekov was now chatting with his friend Sulu, his smile bright and beaming like they weren’t just about to go on a dangerous mission. The Captain grinned, and shrugged his shoulders, not knowing exactly what the problem was but maybe it was just McCoy being a grumpy old fart. Scotty seemed to be amused too.

“He wanted to help,” Was the Captain’s answer, as he slung his rucksack over his shoulder. “Why not? Spock’s got to stay aboard the Enterprise, so we got another spot which Chekov was happy to fill in.”

McCoy wanted to slap some sense into the stupid Captain’s head. “He’s seventeen, Jim!”

Jim stared at McCoy with his wide blue eyes. The man looked pissed, really pissed, like Jim was committing a huge crime that would put him behind bars for centuries let alone years, and it made Jim laugh uncontrollably, which in turn made Scotty giggle to himself.

McCoy sighed heavily; trust Jim to take something so serious like a God damn joke. Everyone in the room looked at them curiously; their eyes watching their Captain double over in laughter, holding onto McCoy for support before he falls flat on his face.

“He’s seventeen?” Jim got out between laughs. “You serious? Do you know who that kid is?”

“I hope he does.” Scotty grinned. “He’s known him for long enough.”

“Pavel Chekov,” McCoy answered, glaring at the engineer, wanting so bad to zip Jim’s mouth shut with super, super glue. “The youngest member of Starfleet!”

“So?” Jim quirked an eyebrow, a smirk sneakily spreading across his face. “Are you worried Leonard McCoy?”

“No!” McCoy growled between gritted teeth. “I’m just telling you, that it’s a God damn dangerous place to be taking such a young member of your crew. If anything happens to him…”

“But it won’t.” Jim grinned, patting the Doctor on the shoulder roughly. “Chill out man, if you’re so worried then I assign you as his babysitter.”

Captain Kirk ignored any other protest and angry outburst from the other man as he turned on the spot and hopped onto the beaming pad. “Come on people, let’s get a move on.”

The three members of the landing team followed their captain to the back of the transporting surface, Chekov joining and Sulu stepping up beside Kirk. Scotty took his usual place behind the glass, ready to beam the crew down to the surface. McCoy took up the last pad and stood still on top of it, waiting to get beamed down onto the cold planet where he really didn’t want to be.

“Energize.”

McCoy heard Kirk say those words clearly and he rapidly felt a tug on his whole body, dragging him down and out into open air. The transportation room vanished in front of his eyes, and in its place there was a blanket of snow under their feet, covering a mountain behind them where they stood and fifteen foot trees blowing in the wind in places.

The snowflakes fell gently to the ground and landing softly by their boots, disappearing into the cover of snow, it was like the planet itself was alive, where the weather woke up the trees and made the mountains beautiful and the wind made them dance.

McCoy listened, and he heard. The slight rustling of the leaves as the wind curled around the branches, the small sound of droplets of snow slipping off of tree trunks onto the ground and the chilling air whispering in his ears as it slithered past him. Snowflakes flew around the air, being pushed by the wind, swirling and twirling in spirals and circles.

This place, this land, this planet was absolutely beautiful. Everything about the view around the crew was so clear and natural, a natural beauty of Mother Nature in all her wonder. Maybe, just maybe stepping foot on this planet wasn’t going to be such a bad thing after all.

Chapter Text

“Ok, let’s get a move on guys.” Captain Kirk called to his crew, pulling out a small device from his pocket and pointing it in front of him. “There’s a mile walk from here to the village, so eyes open and weapons close.”

With that said the three ship members, who were introduced to the others as Lieutenants Thomas, Garrison and Henson, drew out their pistols holding them firm to their chest and grasping them tightly. Sulu put a hand in his pocket to wrap his fingers around the soft handle to his long, silver blade, ready for anything that would dare attack.

McCoy, instead of reaching for a weapon to protect him from unwanted visitors, brought out a square device that flashed silver writing across the translucent slab. An information block that could tell you everything you need to know about a place, something or someone, just by giving the device a name to work off.

As the team trudged through the four foot deep snow of the icy planet they’d beamed down upon, lead by the Captain and Sulu followed closely by the rest of the crew, McCoy read through his information box, eyes scanning curiously, wanting to know more about the planet that some people call ‘the Devil’s ground.’

A long list of information spread across the clear pad in his hands, some things he read made him cringe in disgust at how people on the planet were living, or how animals liked to feed in the winter, or even how they hunted other animals and sometimes humans in the most revolting ways possible.

McCoy’s hatred and fear of the strange planet grew to a hundred percent at that second, not like he was far off from despising the place anyway. He’d never been on a planet like this one. No, this one was special. In a bad way, in a way that made him feel unwelcome and a prime target for all the cruel creatures and things living there. Especially the aliens that had hatred to all species but themselves.

Since becoming a member of Starfleet he’d never really been to many other planets. Maybe two or three, ones with calm atmospheres and hospitable neighbourhoods that held families of kind hearted species, homes that were made for living peaceful lives. He’d had the experience of healing creatures big and small, blue and purple, some with two eyes some with ten.

And by the sounds of it, Tiriâ was nothing like any of them. The views were beautiful; McCoy could see that for himself just shuffling through the sparkling, white snow, tall trees on every side towering over them and waving in the wind, it was like being in a real life snow globe. But this planet had its secrets. And McCoy knew he wasn’t going to like what was behind all the snowfall and colossal trees.

Letting out a heavy sigh the Doctor put his devise away carelessly, not wanting to find out anymore things about the already treacherous territory they were currently walking across. He’d soon get to know the place better. They all would.

McCoy instead focused on the group ahead, their phasers still on standby like they were just waiting for an attack; Jim talking like there was no tomorrow to Sulu who was in charge of finding the way with their electrified map. That’s when McCoy noticed that there was one crew member missing.

A rush of panic fell over him like a gust of wind striking him down, he double checked the group scuffling through the thick snow encase he missed the small, curly haired boy, but he definitely wasn’t there. The snowfall wasn’t making it any easier for the doctor to seek him out, and the he could barely hear anything against the loud howling of the wind. He was so close to shouting to the Captain when he heard a barely audible sniff coming from behind him.

McCoy whirled around on the spot, his wave of panic washing away at the sight of the Russian ensign. Chekov was a few feet behind; dragging his boots through the layer of snow with his head held high as his eyes scanned the beauty around him, petite snowflakes softly landing on his nose.   

McCoy felt a smile tug at the edge of his lips at the sight of the young navigator; his soft green eyes gleaming in wonder and delight at the dancing snowfall around him, his lips pulled up in a contented smile. The boy looked at home here, like he was strolling through his own land not caring of the dangers that lurked far off in the woods, his attention only on that of the familiar weather.

The doctor had a modest amount of admiration for the kid for what he was doing, putting himself on the line to help others in a planet he’d never even heard of until four days ago when it all set off, not even McCoy himself wanted to set foot on the damned icy ground and to see the young Russian take a risk made him feel like a complete jerk. Of course he would never admit that to anyone.

He’d been complaining about the trip for the last few days since it was all planned, telling Jim that the people don’t need their help, it is the people of Tiriâ’s war, not theirs. Starfleet just threw the mission at them, knowing that Kirk would gladly accept such a dangerous task. Jim had ignored him when he’d began his rambling, Sulu thought he was being selfish, Uhura didn’t talk to him, and Spock, he was just being logical as usual.

McCoy didn’t blame them, his words weren’t exactly kind. But all he wanted was to keep the other crew members safe and keep them from walking into a trap, and possibly to their death. The doctor had researched this place, enough to know just how dangerous and diseased the environment was, and reading the new pieces of information he just found wasn’t helping either.

McCoy just prayed that they would all return in one piece, and the planet of Tiriâ will be off their list of planets to save.

“Doctor?”

McCoy blinked out of his reverie, not realising that the navigator had caught up to him and was standing beside him, a curious gaze on his fair face. The doctor smiled crookedly, heaving a rather fed up sigh as he put a hand to the Ensign’s shoulder and shoved him gently to walk on.

 “You’d best not walk by yourself Ensign,” McCoy began, removing his hand from the small boy’s shoulder and plunging both hands in his coat pocket. “It’s not safe for us all to be walking alone, or even in twos, better keep together as a group.”

“Yes Sir.” Chekov nodded slightly, understanding well what the consequences could bring on this earth.

“Hey, you two!” Kirk’s annoyingly loud voice practically echoing through the trees called to them. “Get a move on! We’re almost there.”

McCoy rolled his eyes and made a face which only meant one thing, Jim was being his irritating self, sometimes his bossy Captain voice made McCoy want to stun his sorry ass. Chekov’s lips upturned showing off his bright smile, followed by diminutive chuckle that caught the doctor’s attention.

 “What’s so funny kid?” McCoy asked, his left brow rising into his hairline.

“You!” Chekov smiled brightly, slipping his cold hands into his jacket’s pockets. “You’re very funny sometimes sir.”

McCoy’s eyebrows disappeared behind his fringe. “Never heard that one before.”

Chekov’s grin grew bigger if possible, his eyes virtually glowing in merriment. “That’s probably because people don’t want to admit it.”

McCoy didn’t want to admit that that statement was even true, because he wasn’t exactly the most cheerful person in the entire universe; instead the doctor let a smile tug at the corner of his lips.

“Come on kid.” He said gladly, picking up the pace.

Chekov smiled with a skip in his step as he joined the older man to keep up with the rest of the team.

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It had taken the landing party precisely two minutes more to get to the edge of the white forest. The snow storm had grown stronger and thicker within those short two minutes as the wind raced through the air with its icy cold hands pushing past the crew, their feet digging into inches thick deep of snow as their bodies were barely standing through the impressive force.

Captain Kirk had to bellow across the sound of the snow bustling together with the wind as it soared from the sky, barking orders like they were in the military service, not being able to see a thing as they were thumped square in the face by the powerful blizzard. The snow felt more like stones, stinging their cold skin.

The captain stopped suddenly, stretching his hand up which held a mechanism above a tall, snow covered plank of rotted wood, reaching high up above his head. “Sulu, could you check for any signs of life nearby?”

Sulu nodded, shuffling with great effort through the snow, passing Kirk he stood a few feet away near a cliff edge with his tracking device held in front of him. Kirk bagged the tool as it beeped quietly, and signalling with his hands to the three lieutenants he lead them to the other side of the wide pathway.

“Chekov,” Kirk turned to the young navigator as he passed him and McCoy. “Report back to Scotty and let him know our position.” Then Kirk joined the lieutenants.

“Yes Captain.” Chekov hastily scrambled through his bag to retrieve a square shaped piece of equipment, and dialled in the code.

McCoy stood beside Chekov, his fingers getting so numb sitting inside his pockets that he almost couldn’t feel them, his face felt like rock hard needles of snow were stabbing at his skin. It wasn’t the best feeling in the world, standing there in the freezing cold trying to see ahead and keep an eye on the surroundings. God only knew how’d they’d be able to spot an alien in these conditions.

What made things worse was that Chekov was having no luck with the communication mechanism he was holding, the snow was coming down so fast and heavy that it was getting between the electrics, hazing up the sound and messing with the wires inside. Chekov growled in annoyance as the device made a piercing crackling sound, the mini screen flashing on and off.

“It won’t work!” Chekov said, rubbing at the screen frantically with the sleeve of his jacket. “It’s damaged by the snow, and the signal is unclear this far from the ship.”

“Forget about it.” McCoy took the communicator from Chekov, as he took a look the screen gave off a bright flash of white and shut down. “The weather in this place is messing with everything! We can try later when we get to-”

McCoy’s next words were instantly cut off. The doctor’s eyes grew wide as he stared at one speck of something in front of him, he could be imagining things all he knows because what he saw was so quick in its steps that it looked like a large blur.

McCoy’s voice came back to him suddenly, as the thing raced towards Sulu who had his back to it. “LOOK OUT!”

Before any of the crew members could react, a tall figure of a man had flung itself at the pilot, its long arms reaching out to grab at him from behind, pulling Sulu up against it. The unknown alien’s arm wound tight around Sulu’s upper body, holding him in place so that he couldn’t even move the slightest. 

Captain Kirk yelled, “Hey!” before running through the heavy snowfall towards his shipmate, the other three officers right behind him.

But before Kirk was barely five feet away from Sulu, clinched in the creature’s physically powerful arm, the thing moved his free arm up and revealed a metal weapon that was the shape of a handgun, pointing it directly at Sulu’s forehead.

 “No!” Kirk chocked out, coming to a dead stop and staring at the threatening weapon pointed at the pilot’s head.

The rest of the crew froze, their hands slipping under their jackets to rest on top of their phasers, ready to draw, not wanting to scare the creature into using his weapon. McCoy, his thoughts instantly on the young Ensign beside him, stuffed the broken machine into his pocket and extending an arm to hold out in front of Chekov, he lightly pushed him back.

“Stay behind me.” The doctor ordered, his voice dropping to a whisper as Chekov slipped behind him. “Don’t move.”

Chekov wanted to protest to the doctor that he would be fine, he had his own phaser tucked away in his jacket, and he definitely knew how to use it. But the young ensign knew McCoy would argue back, ever since day one he’d seen Chekov as being only seventeen a big deal, thinking that he needed someone to look out for him because he was so young. Chekov hoped that one day he could prove to McCoy that he was a Starfleet officer for a reason.

“Let him go.”

Kirk’s low threatening tone of voice broke the shifty silence, his gazing sapphire eyes daring the monstrous alien to make the next move. His fingers twitched by his sides as he stood firm, itching to grab a hold of his phaser and aim it straight at the creatures own head, ready to blow it to smithereens if he dared to merely make a scratch on Sulu.

The Captain eyed him up, reading every expression the alien made like a book, taking in its tiny movements and the shifting of his eyes. Kirk noticed the tightening grip around Sulu like it was afraid of the cadet, its breathing uneven as it breathed its foul breath against the back of Sulu’s neck.

The manlike figure tightened its grip on the gun like something had made it anxious. It’s round, brawny face held a gruesome sneer, its yellow teeth showing plainly against the dark green, scarred skin, they were as sharp as that of a metal blade. The creature’s crimson eyes were looking right back at the Captain.

“State your purpose.” The dark skinned alien’s voice was low and drawn as it spoke in the group’s mother tongue, a rumble at the back of its thick, stumpy throat. “Your purpose.” It repeated.

Lieutenant Henson by now had his gun at the ready, cleverly hidden behind the palm of his hand along his sleeve, the two remaining lieutenants standing behind their captain prepared to take a leap in order to save their fellow crewmate.

McCoy knew there was nothing he could do but observe, waiting patiently for someone to do something clever, hopefully someone from their side and not the other. Kirk hadn’t said a word back to the creature, his eyes steady as he starred back and his posture unmoving like a soldier in form.

“Your purpose!” The alien growled out, it’s chunky fingers gripping the gun pointed at Sulu’s head shaking slightly.

“What the hell is he doing?” McCoy protested too quietly to be heard.

“He is not a threat.”

The doctor didn’t turn to the soft voice of the Russian behind him. Instead he listened, knowing that Chekov was intensely watching every move the alien was making, just like the Captain. He was studying it, discovering its secrets.

“You see the way the alien shakes, its hand is shaking just a little, which means it is nervous and is not accustomed to using a gun.” Chekov declared in his thick accent, careful to speak in a hushed tone. “And he is gripping Sulu tighter which indicates he is afraid Sulu might get away. He will not pull the trigger.”

McCoy nodded his understanding, squinting his eyes through the thick falling of the snow, he took in the hard to see tremble of the creature’s hand, its hold on the Japanese pilot’s frame becoming more secure as if Sulu would suddenly force his way out of the thing’s grip. It wouldn’t surprise him if Sulu did, he was stronger than anyone would expect.

Indeed the young whiz kid was completely right. The alien was the opposite of confident, he may have the terrifying looks of a monstrous, heartless life form but the thing would not dare attack a human being judging by its stance. There was something uncharacteristic about its behaviour, nothing like a seeker or an assassin.

“I said state your purpose!” The green goblin gritted his teeth irritated; its arm loosened its hold on Sulu as he fidgeted on his big feet in the snow. “Now!”

“You tell me your purpose, and I shall tell you mine.” Kirk had finally spoken up, his voice low and certain as it always is when negotiating with other species.

Those words made the creature’s eyes widen. It started growling at the back of its throat, he held the gun closer to the lieutenant’s head in an attempt to shake the other crew members, it was suddenly getting nervous.

“You are not a threat to us.” Kirk said, not breaking eye contact. “We are no threat to you.”

“Who are you?” The creature’s voice descended into a soft murmur, if the Captain didn’t know any better he’d say the thing sounded afraid. “Tell me or I’ll kill your friend!”

The lieutenants held their phasers in their grasp tightly and prepared to fire unexpectedly at the alien. Everyone was getting restless and irritated; the guards were ready to blow the alien to bits if it came to it, McCoy was getting so grumpy at the damn thing he was close to picking up a snowball and throwing it right at the ugly monster’s head, any attempt to get on with it.

Kirk shifted his eyes to look at Sulu. The pilot was composed in the monsters tight hold on him, he was not afraid; he too knew that the thing griping him wasn’t going to hurt him. Sulu met the Captain’s gaze, his dark eyes bore into Kirks, a secret message shared between them.

Then the Captain spoke boldly. “I am James T. Kirk.” He said, holding out a hand slightly to warn the lieutenants to stand down.

The three guards moved their guns back into their pockets slowly, eyes never leaving the creature. There was a sudden silence in the air once the phasers were put back in place; the only noise was the swishing of the wind making the trees dance, the heavy falling of the snowflakes from the dark clouds.

All eyes were upon the unknown alien species. At the Captain’s words the being had frozen in its position like something had worried it, still holding onto the helmsman it closed its darkened eyes and lowered its head. The gun never left its aim, pressed against Sulu’s head.

“Sir?” Lieutenant Thomas whispered next to the captain, curiosity evident in his accent.

“Nobody move.” Kirk said firmly, his gaze not moving from the pilots form.

By now the whole crew were confused, even Sulu who was stuck in the things embrace like a doll, its long fingers digging into his shoulder which wasn’t exactly painless. The creature stood there like a statue, its mind channelling something, spacing out into another world where the humans couldn’t reach.

“Captain James T. Kirk.”

The alien’s deep voice broke through the silence like a knife. The Starfleet officers looked around at each other in perplexity, all baffled at the fact that Kirk had said nothing about being a Captain to the creature, but the Captain himself just smiled.

Out of the blue the tense atmosphere was broken as the alien’s hand holding the silver gun fell to his side, and then he released Sulu without a word. The pilot fell forward slightly at the unexpected action, his feet losing their balance for just a second before he held himself together.

Without another thought Sulu jogged across the deep snow to the Captain and stood beside him, having no idea why Kirk was just standing there smiling like a complete idiot. The other crew members weren’t far off; all looking at the Captain like he’d lost his mind.

“That’s me.” Kirk suddenly said, putting an arm around Sulu. “For a second there I thought you were actually going to pull the trigger.”

“I apologise Captain,” The alien bowed a little, taking a few baby steps towards the officers. “We must be extra cautious in this area. I was nervous pointing a gun at a human’s head, it is not in our nature to harm humans.”

“I understand.” Kirk said seriously.

“Wait a minute!” It was McCoy who spoke first out of the rest of the crew, stomping over to the group closely followed by the youngest member. “What the hell is going on here? One minute this damn alien is threatening to kill one of our officers and the next he’s apologising for it?”

The Doctor’s face was twisted in a scowl, his deadly glare directed right at the creature that seemed to have snuck his way into the group of Starfleet members. McCoy knew he had the right to be angry at the damn thing; it was not to be trusted unless it had a good reason, he may have been nervous and too cowardly to pull the trigger, but it didn’t mean he wouldn’t try.

“He’s one of the good guys.” Kirk said as he turned to his friend, that cheesy grin plastered across his face.

“Explain.” McCoy demanded, folding his arms across his chest.

“He is a Tirian villager.” The group turned to look at the Russian navigator who’d cleverly worked out what the Captain had figured out for himself.

Every crew member, excluding the Captain, was looking at Chekov like he’d just grown another head. He smiled, wiping tiny snowflakes from his nose, and with confidence in his own assumption the Russian began his explanation.

“The Tirian villagers are the population of Tiriâ that like peace and quiet.” Chekov clarified in his thick Russian accent. “Ever since the Tirian outsiders started causing trouble on the planet the Tirian villagers became cautious, they guard their small village very well, one way is to stay in their natural forms to scare off any intruders and be ready to attack the outsiders. Didn’t any of you do any research?”

Kirk grinned at the navigator with pride, and added in a small chuckle. “And there’s your explanation.” He directed at the doctor.

“Wait,” McCoy stared at the young man in awe. “You got that just by looking at the alien’s body language?”

“Yes sir,” Chekov stated with a bright smile. “And also the library on the Enterprise.”

The crew grinned as McCoy rolled his eyes. “And what exactly do you mean by natural forms?” the doctor asked.

This time it was the alien who spoke. “I believe I can answer that.” He said, putting away his gun. “The way you see me now is our natural form, but we do not live this way. We are able to alter our appearance into that of a human, any form of our choice.”

“You mean,” Sulu began, a little bewildered at the information. “You can turn yourself into a human, even one of us?”

“Yes.” The alien nodded.

“Impressive.” Kirk announced, quite bewildered at the powers of the race of Tirians already, hoping they had more to give to help them along on the mission.

“Thank you.” The green creature bowed once again, part of its traditions to show politeness to visitors. “I shall show you, I think you would all be more comfortable if I were to take human form.”

“We would.” Lieutenant Garrison murmured to his comrades who nodded in agreement, he was secretly quaking in his boots at the sight of the ugly looking thing, its big red eyes and hideous smile not appealing to him whatsoever.

Kirk nodded, he too was a little freaked out by the alien’s appearance, but of course he won’t tell that to his officers. “Go ahead.”

With that said the alien wasted no time in transforming itself. First its body started to change, from the feet up to the shoulders the black, dilapidated clothes fell apart and disappeared into thin air soon replaced by threads of a sky blue material, wrapping around the body.

Its long fingers clicked gruesomely as they shrunk, the fingernails altering its colour and getting shorter. The skin around his neck faded from green, patches of pale skin spreading up his face, cheeks dislodging, nose clicking and eyebrows being pulled apart.

The creature’s facial features changed drastically. His whole face dislocating itself and moving around until its shape was like a human head, skin fusing to stretch across the newly formed skull. Lastly, his jaws started to shrivel together until it smoothed over revealing a toothy smile behind red lips, and his red, darkened eyes blended with a mist of blue like the colour of a sun setting sky.

Now, there stood a human being instead of an alien. He was tall and slender, dark hair waving down to his ears, blue eyed and stubbly around the chin. He wore a light blue uniform in two parts, nothing but a woolly jumper and trousers, the cold not affecting him in any way.

The man seemed to be around the age of thirty, posture straight and confident. And in a low and masculine voice he said, “My name is Bleddyn, leader of the Tirian villagers.”

The Starfleet crew gazed at the alien in wonder, amazed at the ability this one alien held. Chekov suddenly felt lucky to be in such a place and learning about these creatures, he’d never been so close to such an extraordinary life form, such an incredible planet to be walking on.

“Captain Kirk,” Kirk held out his hand and Bleddyn took it, a sign of peace and friendship between the two species. “You must be the one who sent out the distress call.”

“I am.” Bleddyn answered. “I thought you wouldn’t have got it, it was hard for us to get the signal from our base to Starfleet. We’re grateful that you answered our call.”

“You’re welcome.” Kirk said, shifting the bag around his shoulders. “Now where’s this village of yours? We should get a move on before we come across some unwanted guests.”

“Yes, you’re right.” Bleddyn agreed, taking out his gun once again and holding it tight against his chest. “I suggest you all keep your weapons close. Follow me.”

Kirk was the first to draw his phaser from his pouch, signalling with a nod to the officers to follow suit. Soon the whole group were ready with their phasers grasped in their gloved hands, the alien warning them to keep their eyes open for any sign of movement around the woods.

“The outsiders are sly,” he told them. “Don’t hesitate to shoot, they will attack you.”

“Got it.” Kirk answered for them, sharing a look of disbelief with the crew. “Let’s go.”

Bleddyn was the first to make a move; he started walking through the snow like he was strolling across a smooth, gravel surface. Kirk followed behind, not to graceful in his steps as the local alien, his feet sinking into the knee deep snow that seemed to be never-ending holes in the ground.

Somehow the Captain doubted him and his men would be able to keep their eyes on the surroundings, when their legs were being pulled down into the covert of a blizzard like some ragdolls being thrown about. Judging by the heavy sigh coming from Sulu who was shuffling behind him, he had other things to worry about than the attack of six feet aliens.

 The three lieutenants grumbling like a bunch of old men came behind the Captain, phasers at the ready, arms waving about as they tried to keep their balance in the snow. McCoy walked slowly, his temper almost hitting boiling point as the snow beat him in the face nastily, pushing him one side to the other. He was ready to call Scotty, he’d been ready to call the engineer about half an hour ago.

Chekov, he was doing as he was told. Eyes scanning their surroundings like a hunter waiting on its prey, fingers pressed against the phaser’s switch, he was alert and geared up for anything. And he wasn’t having such a hard time trekking through the snow, in fact, he was rather enjoying it, he is Russian after all.

Chapter Text

It was a short trek through the abandoned mountain towards the small village of Tiriâ. Although it wasn’t an uplifting one. The members of the enterprise had never felt so tired, frustrated or cold all at the same time, especially not from an away mission.

Their eyes were peeled open to their surroundings for any sign of movement between the trees or behind the heavy snowfall, but it was hard to concentrate when their feet got stuck in sinking holes, and their eyes almost blinded by the harsh whisk of snow being thrown towards them by the winds violent rage.

The agonizing weather didn’t even seem to bother their leader, who strolled through the thickening snow like he was walking on bare gravel in the middle of summer. His dark eyes scanned the landscape around the team like a hunter, listening for even the slightest sound of a whisper or a distant trudge in the crunching snow that only sounded like a whisper to the human’s ears.

He had no fear of the land that surrounded him, for he had grown up on the planet where war and power played a huge part. There was no such thing as peace or love, except in those that believed in it, and those who lived among the mountains and the trees where it was safe. Away from the creatures that had no emotion, heart or soul.

The gun that was grasped tightly in the alien’s hands was there for mere protection, not something his kind would choose to use on anyone, or anything around them unless they were made to by sheer force. Even the thought of killing made the peaceful creatures feel saddened, but living on the same planet as the Calonddu they had no choice but to kill, or be killed.

For almost twenty years now the Tirian villagers and the Calonddu had been at war, one side fighting for their freedom and to bring peace to the planet of Tiriâ once more, and the other, they fought for violence, power and destruction. Wanting nothing more than to rid Tiriâ of the serene villagers and take it for their own, to build their own empire where only their rules and their kind would exist.

Nainin was the vicious leader of the Calonddu. His ferocious snarls, sharp claws and blood red eyes made him stand out against the rest of the creatures, years of violent fighting and a cold heart making him stronger than ever. All the alien wanted was authority, to be the king of the white land, of the entire planet. He wanted to rule what was not his.

For an entire three years now he’d worked up a plan of war, gathering his most powerful army of Calonddu from around the planet. They’d kill villagers when out of their safe towns, waiting patiently on the high rocks to dive at their targets, hid in trees, dark eyes watching the villagers every move before striking.

That time had come. The villagers knew it would be soon that Nainin would declare war on them, attack their homes and everything around them, spilling the blood of the innocent only to bring down the peace of their alien race, and replace it with the bloody, cruel side to their kind. Nainin would even go as far as torturing those who were weakest amongst the peaceful race, turning them into his own slaves and working them into terrifying murderers.

The villagers had no chance of winning the battle against them, no way of defending their land and people. It came down to a cry for help, an union between alien and human to stop the Calonddu, Bleddyn knew that Starfleet was their only way out.

“How far is your village?” Kirk bellowed over to the alien who’d walked some paces ahead, obviously not affected by the stormy weather.

Bleddyn stopped and turned to face the crew. “It’s around the corner, not too far now.”

Kirk nodded in reply, although he was certain Bleddyn couldn’t see him through the thick haze of wind and snow combined, whacking him hard in the face. It was like walking through a shower of needles, and sludge below their feet, not making the journey any easier for them.

Sulu was struggling beside the Captain, having to hold onto his tracing device and his heavy bag while trying to stay upright. Kirk slung an arm around the pilot’s waist without a second thought, trying to carry some of the weight Sulu held on his back, the two of them walking at a careful pace.

The lieutenants weren’t taking the journey so lightly either, every step Henson made a rather poetic word left his mouth, and Garrison had taken to kicking the snow off his pathway which wasn’t really working anyway. No matter what they tried nothing seemed to work, and the walk just kept getting harder as they got closer.

McCoy was so close to screaming bloody murder down his transmitter, seconds away from not giving a damn about the war stricken planet, although he thought it was none of Starfleet’s god damn business in the first place. He gritted his teeth, clutching at the edges of his coat to stop himself from diving for the communication device and demand Scotty beam him back onto the damn ship.

Chekov was having a field day. Sure he was cold, wet and fed up of slipping and sliding into two feet deep snow holes, but it was fun none the less. It reminded him of the time he had snow days back in Leningrad, running around in the deep snow and having crazy snowball fights, and later walking in the heavy snow to build snowmen at his grandmothers before tucking into her homemade cake beside the fireplace. The ensign enjoyed walking in the snow, the fresh air hitting his lungs, the crunch of the freshly fallen flakes under his feet, and he was practically giggling to himself every time McCoy cursed loudly when his foot gave way.

“God damn it!” McCoy growled.

Chekov bit his lip to stop himself from laughing, having caught up with the doctor and walking right beside him. “Would you like a hand doctor?”

“What?” McCoy snapped, barely even functioning anymore. “Oh, no, I’m fine. Bloody great.”

Chekov grinned behind his scarf, watching as McCoy kicked angrily at the snow, huffing and puffing like a grumpy old man. Chekov had to admit, it was the funniest thing he’d seen in a very long time.

“Were here!” Bleddyn’s gruff voice shouted from ahead. “Just in front.”

True to his words, it only took them a couple of minutes more to reach the entrance to the village, and what an entrance it was. Instead of a village, they looked up through the haze of snow to find a fifteen foot stone wall stretching itself for metres from left to right. The rock was old, black and grimy; whilst a solid wooden door linked the wall in the middle, its metal lock and bolts rusting under the cold hands of the wind.

“This for protection?” Kirk asked, pointing at the humongous barricade.

“Yes,” Bleddyn answered, reaching inside his pocket to retrieve a rather large, strangely shaped key. “We built it thirty years ago when the Calonddu’s tribes began. It’s the only thing keeping us separated. While we live in a cage, they wonder the landscapes.”

“Can’t they get in?” Lieutenant Garrison questioned, sounding not so convinced of the defensive blockade.

“No,” Bleddyn stuck the key in the lock and turned, earning a slight screech from the metal. “They’ve tried a couple of times, but failed. We have electric wires around the top, traps planted in certain areas, and it’s heavily guarded.”

“Sounds like a prison.” McCoy mumbled.

It didn’t go unheard by the alien man, and he said sadly. “It feels like one.”

With that said Bleddyn turned his whole attention to the gate, having turned the key in its old lock, a loud click echoed in their ears and the doors creaked in answer. He barely nudged the door with his hand and it began to budge, but barely opening enough for two people to get passed.

“One at a time!” Bleddyn told the crew, slipping through the gap and onto the other side of the doorway.

Kirk lead the way, stepping through carefully until he too disappeared, closely followed by Sulu. The lieutenants went in after them, phasers being locked back in place on their belts, no weapons necessary in the presence of the alien race inside.

“After you, kid.” McCoy said to Chekov, following him through the small space.

As soon as McCoy had stepped through, Bleddyn was quick to close the heavy door, using the same key to click the locks back into place. It definitely felt like a prison to the crew of the Enterprise at that moment, being trapped behind a tall wall, where the only escape was one locked door.

The group took a good look around as they stood facing the village, a smaller village than any of them had expected. Through the fast falling snow they could see tall, white trees leaning close to the guarding wall, spread right around as if they were the lookouts themselves. Small, grey stone houses sat near the trees, around ten on each side, smoke rising into the air from all the chimneys. They seemed old with their chipped walls, dirty glass windows, and doors that looked ready to fall off their hinges. Behind the houses on the right were four large wooden sheds, each holding a sign above the door reading food, drink, appliances and weapons. They too looked like they’d seen years of violent weather.

The same went for a rather larger house at the far end of the long pathway, the snow growing thinner as if someone had shovelled it away, making a safer path. Bleddyn lead them to the bigger house ahead, its roof plastered in thick snowflakes, windows blanketed in ice, and a speck of light glimmering through the glass, lighting a room on the top left.

“Where is everyone?” McCoy broke the eerie silence, the only sound as they strode towards the house was of the crunching of snow beneath their feet.

“They are wary.” Bleddyn answered the doctor. “We never have visitors; they have never seen real human life forms before. I’m sure they are watching us through their windows this minute.”

At that report the Enterprise crew suddenly felt like eyes were all over the place, watching their every move, like wild animals stalking their prey. None of them bothered to look up at the stone houses, knowing they’d be stared at, curious yellow eyes peering through the frosty glass. Even thinking about it sent shivers down their spines.

As they shuffled their way through the deep snow, boots inches underneath the surface, Bleddyn reached the door to the cottage and waited for the arrival of the crew. By now they were shivering from head to toe, the cold air slithering into their warm coats, freezing the tips of their fingers to the top of their toes.

Bleddyn shoved the front door open; it creaked against the hinges almost cringingly, as if it wanted to purposely wake up the occupants of the house. The alien man was quiet in his steps, placing each foot lightly on the ground as he went inside, opening the door wide enough for the others to gather inside.

Kirk shuffled his men inside, grinning at McCoy who had a not so pleasant look on his face, and stepping into the stone house Kirk shut the door behind him, letting a pool of darkness surround them. The crew immediately tensed, their Starfleet training kicking in as the room went silent for a few seconds before the alien spoke.

“I’m sorry,” Bleddyn apologised, his footsteps echoing on the floor. “The curtains are closed, and there aren’t many windows, we are creatures that like the darkness.”

“No kidding.” Kirk mumbled, not sure who heard him since he had no clue who’s shoulder he bumped, or who’s elbow just knocked him on the arm.

“Here,” Bleddyn’s voice came from somewhere in the short distance, and suddenly there was a flicker of light as he lit a lantern, placing it in the middle of a long, wooden table. “Hopefully that will help.”

The crew could finally see where they stood, in the middle of a small, musky room, wooden walls and fireplace, a couple of chairs near the mantelpiece while a long bench lay beneath the window pane. It wasn’t the most luxurious place they’d been to on another planet, but it was better than being outside.

“It’s great,” Kirk smiled cheerfully at the alien, plonking himself down on a chair nearest to the other end of the room. “Take a seat gentleman; we’ll be here for a few hours.”

As the men sat down without any fuss, McCoy, Chekov and Lieutenant Thomson on the bench, and the others taking seats on the wooden chairs, Bleddyn made himself comfy near the fireplace. He stood facing the crew, a sudden look of anxiety crossing his face.

All of the officers sat quietly, Chekov with his gadget sat in his lap ready to take notes, while Sulu held onto the recorder, Kirk was leaning forward slightly waiting to hear what information his team were about to take on. Whatever it was, he hoped they were ready.

“I...” Bleddyn stuttered, looking up at the Captain in his chair. “I know you’ve had some information from me already, although the signal was cut off short. But I have not told you Nainin’s plans of what he means to do.”

Kirk nodded; there had been very little contact between them, only a handful of information about the planet and its species. “We know enough about their tribe, and of yours, and of the few attacks on your village. You told me he’s planning another war?”

“Yes.” Bleddyn all but whispered. “He’s planning to start a war far greater than the battles of the past, a war that he says will bring down our peaceful villages. Nainin has already killed travellers, attacked villages not far from here; he is waiting for the right moment to attack this one. He is waiting for the right moment to kill me, the leader of the peaceful Tiriâns.”

“Do you know exactly when he means to start this war of his?” Kirk asked calmly.

Bleddyn shook his head. “No, we try to hide spies along the mountains where his soldiers sleep, but no one has succeeded on gathering that information, we do not know when.”

“What if he attacks soon?” Sulu added. “It could be any time.”

Bleddyn seemed to think about what the pilot had said, leaning his frame against the mantelpiece, twiddling his thumbs as if in deep thought. For weeks now he had been afraid of a surprise attack, waiting for the sound of the warning trumpet, or the screams of the villagers. But he soon remembered the tactics of the creature.

“You are right to think so,” he answered. “But I do not think he would, not this time.”

“Why not?” McCoy grumbled, not understanding why the villagers don’t just grab their torches and pitchforks and charge at them. “Could happen as we speak.”

“No,” Bleddyn sighed, “If he was to attack he would have done so by now. From what we know from travellers he is planning an attack from all angles, he is gathering his armies, making as many weapons as possible, and he’s been slaughtering the neira to collect their poison.”

Kirk shared a look of curiosity with his crew, noting how Chekov perked up at the mention of the foreign word. “What’s a neira?” he directed at the ensign.

“It is like a snake, Captain.” Chekov answered, checking his PADD for confirmation. “I read about them on here, they are grey in colour and survive off small animals in the woods. Their blood is of poisonous substance, and their skin is covered in sharp bumps.”

“Well, they… sound like a lot of fun.” Kirk said, coughing behind his hand. “So, why the hell would Nainin want those things?”

Bleddyn shrugged, sighing in clear frustration. “I do not know, he could mean to use them against us somehow, make them attack my people, I just don’t know.”

“Clearly he’s got it all planned out.” McCoy snorted, folding his arms across his chest.

“Clearly.” Kirk repeated, standing from his chair to take a look at Chekov’s PADD. “So, he’s already gathering Calonddu from around the place, weapons are being made, he’s attacking travellers outside of the walls, bringing down other villages, and he’s kidnapping freaky snake things for some very odd reason which I hope is not for use against us.”

“Sounds like he’s ready to strike anytime within the next few months.” Sulu stated, looking as anxious as the rest of the crew.

“It does.” Kirk agreed, passing Chekov his device. “He’s almost ready that’s for sure. Looks like we’re going to have to get back to Starfleet about what we’ve learnt, get things on track straight away.”

“How long will that take?” Bleddyn asked, worry clear in his voice. “What if Starfleet isn’t ready by the time they attack?”

“We’ll be ready.” Kirk said confidently, looking the alien straight in the eye. “I can assure you Bleddyn that Starfleet will do everything we can once my crew and I get back to our ship, we’re working with Starfleet back at base who already have vital information about the situation.”

“I am sorry.” Bleddyn barely whispered, pushing himself off the fireplace to stand directly in front of the Captain. “I’m sorry for bringing Starfleet into this, for bringing your crew into this. But I just don’t know what to do anymore, if anyone could stop them, I’m sure it would be Starfleet.”

Kirk sent the alien a reassuring smile, patting him on the shoulder. “There’s no need to be sorry, it’s what Starfleet are there for. We want peace on this planet as much as you, and I can promise you, my crew are the best and we will do everything in our power to stop this war.”

“Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, Mr Kirk.” Bleddyn slightly bowed in gratitude.

“No problem.” Kirk smiled toothily. “Now then, where’s that special ale you guys promised us?”

The entire crew rolled their eyes. They were positive Bleddyn hadn’t promised such a thing.

_____

McCoy didn’t see what was so special about the alien’s ale. He’d taken one sip out of the cup that Bleddyn had handed him, and hadn’t touched it since. He’d tasted better stuff on earth, although it might have had something to do with it tasting a lot like gone off medicine. The rest of the crew seemed to take pleasure in it; the red shirts were drinking it in their own corner of the room, acting like they were at some party. Sulu was taking his time with his, sipping at it while looking through the data on his device, while Kirk seemed to have downed his before beginning a conversation with Bleddyn.

Chekov didn’t get a chance to try any of course, as Bleddyn had walked on over to the young Russian, McCoy had stopped him in his tracks and told him if he dared give an underage young man a drink he’d have something to say. Chekov had only looked on in shock at McCoy’s strict orders, before chuckling quietly to himself as he went back to surveying his device that got ruined in the snow. Well, someone had to tell Bleddyn the kid was only seventeen, although it wasn’t hard to tell. Maybe on their planet kids were allowed that kind of stuff.

For a couple of hours the Captain and his crew went through Starfleet plans, gaining some more information on the Calonddu and learning a bit more about the planet whilst they sipped at their drinks. Chekov had plenty of data written down by the time the skies grew dark, and the Captain was pleased with what they had accomplished through the day. Bleddyn was more than grateful when they’d finished up, shaking all their hands and grinning from head to toe.

On their way out of his home, the crew noticed the village had gained some life compared to how silent it had been hours ago. Flamed torches were lit alongside the house, making a pathway for them to follow towards the gigantic door, flickering against the strong breeze of the wind. Lights flickered through the gaps in the windows of each house, shadows passing past the glows, whilst a few windows flapped against the wind after being opened. Even a couple of children sat on a porch, watching the Starfleet crew keenly as they walked on by.

The weather was calmer, a whole lot quieter than before. It was eerie, only the sound of the clattering windows, light footsteps in the snow and the whistling of the wind against the rustling trees could be heard. None of the team said a word, not even Bleddyn who seemed to tense up as they got closer to the guarded door.

The alien leader nodded to two men with long beards in thick, black jackets, who stepped aside to allow Bleddyn to unlock the door. With a slight screech the alien pulled it ajar, the same small gap left for the crew to pass through. Bleddyn turned to the officers, holding out a hand for the captain to shake.

“Can you find your way back from here?” Bleddyn asked.

“I’m sure we can.” Kirk answered, vaguely remembering the way. “Is it safe out there?”

Bleddyn sighed, reaching into his pocket to retrieve his own phaser. “Take this, it’s programmed to not miss any Calonddu it shoots at, no matter how bad of a shot you are.”

“I’ll take that as it’s not safe out there at all.” Kirk said, taking the weapon and passing it to Sulu to use.

“It will be safer now than in a few hours.” Bleddyn tried to reassure them. “They come out to hunt around midnight, when it’s darker, and quieter.”

“Good to know.” McCoy mumbled, dreading the walk back already.

The enterprise crew trudged slowly through the thick snow, the door to their safe haven left behind feet away. As they walked back towards the spot they’d started off at, none of them said a word, too cautious to their surroundings. There wasn’t a sound to be heard except for the wind and trees, sometimes a loud sigh from one of the team as their feet sunk into the snow, or a lonesome howl from the distance. Snow had started to fall heavily once again, making it harder for them to see.

Kirk led the crew closer to their destination, Chekov navigating him whenever was needed, while the others held out their weapons at the ready. It seemed too quiet the nearer they got, far too silent, and far too dark. Kirk was about to turn to his tricorder to talk to Scotty, when out of the blue the crew heard a snap of a twig that echoed through the trees. They all stopped, weapons raised, eyes tracing the area carefully.

“Eyes open.” Kirk said noiselessly, setting his phaser to kill. “Keep walking, we need to get to the same spot so Scotty can track us.”

The company understood, keeping close they held their phasers high, treading steadily to where they needed to be. But as they took only a few steps, there came a gurgling, high-pitched howl from between the trees, followed by more and more wailing that sounded like an army of vicious wolves. The noise came closer, until out of the dark jumped the Calonddu. They were big and black skinned, with long claws and red eyes, their teeth snapping and clinching aggressively in anger. The creatures looked like Bleddyn’s kind, but much, much more chilling, they were like mutilated forms with dark intents.

“RUN!” Kirk bellowed at the top of his voice, the team didn’t have to be told twice as they sprinted ahead, shooting off their phasers.

It was hard to run through the thick blanket of snow, the wind strong enough to push them over, as they tried to keep their eyes on the invading creatures. The Calonddu sprang out of the trees, lining straight towards them, eyes wide in hunger. Kirk screamed his orders to keep the team going, taking down as many of the aliens as he could, doing his best to lead them towards where they needed to go.

Out of nowhere a Calonddu sprung towards Chekov, grabbing him by the ankle and bringing him down. Kirk and Garrison took it out, shooting it in the head, leaving McCoy to help him up. “Okay?” Kirk asked quickly, Chekov nodding.

The team carried on running, McCoy taking a hold of Chekov’s hand to pull him along, making sure he didn’t lose him again. Sulu took one down just inches away from himself, almost slipping as he lost concentration. Kirk yanked on Sulu’s arm, pushing him forward towards the clearing.

“RUN! GET A MOVE ON!” The Captain yelled, voice booming across the snowy mountain as he shot at the invaders.

Lieutenant Henson ran behind them, phaser sending off strays of red light at the gruesome aliens not far back, a few hit their targets killing the enemies dead while more clashed with trees and rocks, sending parts of the terrain flying through the air. McCoy came up behind him, his hand still gripped firmly in the young Ensigns. He didn’t give a damn what Chekov was thinking, if he was over reacting or just being slightly too fatherly towards him, but he was going to make sure the boy was going to get back to the ship, alive.

He trudged through the snow as fast as he could, bag weighing him down against the deep blanket of snow. Chekov ran beside him, without a weapon, all he could do was run for his life while the others aimed their lasers at the aliens.

“It’s here!” Kirk shouted from where he’d stopped in a small clearing, surrounded by trees on both sides. “Scotty?” he all but bellowed into the device he yanked out of his pocket. “Scotty! Get that ship going, we can’t make it back, we’re surrounded! Beam us up!”

Henson flung himself down onto his knees next to the Captain, panting heavily like he’d just ran a marathon, seconds later McCoy came to a halt along with Chekov by his side. The Ensign let go of the doctors hand, McCoy frantically going through his bag to yank out the extra phaser that sat inside there, handing it to Chekov who looked comforted at finally having a weapon.

“Scotty!” Kirk all but screamed frantically into the communicator, signal transferring clear to the ship.

“Aye Captain!” Scotty answered alarmed from the speaker. “Transportation is… well it’s having a glitch, we’re going to set the Enterprise above you… hang on.”

Kirk sighed heavily, cursing loudly, he immediately caught hold of the aliens making their way towards the Starfleet crew, his phaser was up and firing at anything that moved. The officers around him were shooting off their phasers towards the enemies as they grew closer, ugly, slobbering jaws growling out their angry words in their own tongue.

Sulu was to his right, his gun let off red lasers every second as he aimed towards the creatures emerging from the woods. His two remaining security officers had their phasers held high, aiming through the blizzard where it was impossible to see what was alien and what wasn’t, their targets being found less than they were hoping as they fired without direction.

Just a short while later a scream came from Lieutenant Henson, his body was flung to the ground as a bullet shot through his red shirt, silent as it hit its target. No one had time to move their gaze from the aliens that were inching closer second by second, the Starfleet officer’s body lying lifeless beside their feet.

McCoy stared at him through the hazy snowfall; he knew there was no hope for the man as scarlet liquid flowed from the wound in his chest, staining the white sheet of snow he lay dead in. the doctor kneeled beside him, putting two fingers under his chin. “He’s dead.” McCoy said out loud, silently cursing the life on the planet that held no soul.

“COME ON!” Kirk yelled at the top of his voice in anger at losing one of his men, as he let off another shot at the Calonddu, striking it squarely between the eyes, its unsightly body hitting the soft ground with an echoing thud. “Ugly bastards!”

“AH!”

Time seemed to freeze at the sound of a pained cry coming from behind McCoy, followed by a gasping breath and a fearful shout from Sulu, making McCoy spin around on the spot. His worst thought came true when he looked at Chekov, who slowly lifted his head and met his gaze with wide eyes. A single arrow stuck out from the ensign’s stomach just below his ribs, blood spilling out from the sickening wound it had made, staining the coat an unsettling crimson.

It took Chekov a whole three seconds before his body gave in, his legs buckled beneath him from the excruciating pain, as he fell towards the blanket of snow below him. McCoy threw his phaser without another thought, diving forward to catch the young man in his arms before he hit the freezing cold ground. McCoy tried to be gentle, wrapping one arm underneath Chekov’s back, and the other just above his hip, not wanting the poor boy to be in any more pain than he already was.

“Shit!” He heard Jim shout nearby, still trying to fend off the Calonddu that seemed to be coming at them with great purpose. “Scotty! What the hell is happening over there? Chekov’s been hit! I repeat, Chekov’s been hit!”

McCoy could see that the other officers were trying their best to shoot every damn moving thing that came their way; they all slowly stepped back, as if trying to barricade the doctor and Chekov who was gasping for breath against him with his hands clutching at the wound.

“It’s ok Ensign,” McCoy told him in a soft tone, inspecting the wound that the arrow made. “I’m going to try and pull this out, ok? It’s going to hurt like a bitch, so scream as loud as you like.”

Chekov tried to nod, only the pain was so bad his whole body felt weak. His breathing came out in short gasps, his hands began to shake at his sides, and his teeth began to chatter as it suddenly began getting very cold, colder than he was minutes ago. McCoy wrapped his hand around the arrow just above the wound, grasping it as tight as he could. The doctor shared a look with the captain who looked across in worry, before clutching onto Chekov a little bit more.

“Ready?” He asked the boy, who nodded quickly. “Three, two, one…”

Chekov let out an ear-splitting, shuddering scream, his body jerking from the sudden jolt of unbearable pain that sped through him. McCoy cursed loudly, placing Chekov onto the ground before unzipping and opening the boy’s jacket to cover the now flowing wound with his hands, the ensign crying out in pain as he clutched onto the doctor’s sleeve.

“It’s okay, Pavel, it’s okay.” McCoy tried to calm him, pressing down hard on the wound. “Jim! Where the hell is the damn ship?” he yelled to the captain.

“Scotty!” Kirk practically screeched down the transmitter, shooting another creature that tried to sneak towards them. “Where the fuck are you? Chekov’s bleeding down here!”

“Sorry Captain! The weather’s not making it easy for the ship.” Scotty’s voice sounded panicked through the device. “We’re here, we’re here! Beaming you up in five, four…”

“Keep shooting!” Kirk shouted to the team, who shot off as many lasers as they could. “Stay in the circle!”

“Three, two…”

McCoy kept his hands on the injury as firm as possible, not taking his eyes off of Chekov. The navigator’s breathing quickened, his hand that was gripping the doctor’s sleeve slackened, and a single tear ran down his cheek.

“It’ll be okay, kid.” McCoy told him, their eyes meeting. “I promise, I’ll take care of you.”

Chekov put on a small smile that was barely visible, before his eyes shut and his hands went completely limp. McCoy swore out loud, before the entire crew heard the sound of their way out and were transported to the enterprise.