This story takes place soon after Jim takes command of the Enterprise.
Just An Ordinary Mission
“And all I saw from where I stood
Was three long mountains and a wood.
Over these things I could not see;
These were the things that bounded me.”
Edna St. Vincent Millay
Jim crawled silently and quickly as possible through the tufts of dead grass that peeked out from under the thick blanket of snow. The snow felt icy cold under his hands and knees even through the thick pants and insulated gloves he was wearing. Also, the away mission field pack he carried on his back was cumbersome and made crawling even more difficult. He dared not leave it behind though, because in these freezing temperatures after freeing Bones and getting the hell out of here, it could mean the difference between life and death.
Star Fleet had learned the hard way that sometimes, on a First Contact mission, housing and hospitality were not offered to a First Contact team, and beaming back to the ship was not always a good diplomatic option. Officers sometimes had to manage without shelter or food because some alien species didn’t think to provide amenities for their Star Fleet visitors. After many such incidents, field packs with basic survival necessities like food rations, water, and personal hygiene items (because heaven forfend that Fleet officers not look good during a meet and greet) now went down with First Contact teams.
It hadn’t been difficult for Jim to get out of his rope bindings and overpower the lone guard on duty. The older man guarding him had been taken completely by surprise and had obviously not been trained in hand to hand combat. Jim had left him unconscious, bound and gagged, hoping that he would stay that way at least until dawn. He and Bones would be long gone by then. Along with his field pack, Jim had also found his phaser and communicator discarded in a dark corner of the prison hut. The guard who had tied him up had seemed completely uninterested in anything Jim had with him, which was great for Jim, but in hindsight damn strange.
Even stranger though, their captors apparently had no idea how dealing with captives worked...not that Jim was complaining, nope...definitely not complaining, but...the whole situation was seriously weird. Jim had grabbed his stuff, put his phaser on stun, palmed his communicator, loosened a couple of boards in the back wall of the wooden hut, quietly pushed them out, and began his cold crawl to Bones. Worry for Bones was like a vise squeezing his chest so tightly that he could hardly breathe. It was his fault that Bones was here on Athanar being held captive. Jim had asked him to come, and of course, Bones had said yes....and look at what happened. Please be all right, please be all right, was Jim’s silent mantra as he crawled.
The doctor was being held in a hut two away from Jim’s. In his younger wilder days as a repeat juvenile offender, Jim had gotten out of far worse prison cells guarded by much less benign jailers. In his considered opinion waiting around to find out what their captors wanted, was not a good idea. Jim was confident he could get to Bones, free him and while the going was good, get the hell out of Dodge.
Scooting along silently, elbows on the freezing ground, Jim peeked around the corner of Bones’ hut. All he saw was a one guard, his back to him, standing at the entrance. The guard was stomping his feet and blowing in his cupped hands trying to warm them. Jim carefully scanned the dark compound. Apparently there was no else awake or on guard. He stepped quietly out from behind the hut, stunned the guard, and quickly dragged the tall skinny body inside the hut.
Bones was sitting on the cold hard ground wrists and feet bound, with a colorful thick blanket thrown around his shoulders. His eyes widened when he saw Jim and he grinned. “Took you long enough,” he whispered, hazel eyes alight, then glancing at the guard’s body, “is he all right?”
“Bones!” Jim looked at him in relief, Bones’ grin reassuring him. “Yeah, I think he’s fine, I used the lightest stun setting, so I think he’ll wake up in an hour or so,” Jim answered softly, kneeling to untie the doctor with quick deft fingers. “We’ll have to tie him up, and gag him, so he doesn’t wake up everyone.” He knelt by Bones, assessing him carefully, his azure eyes anxious. “Are you all right? Did they hurt you? I was so worried they might hurt you.” He ran gentle hands up and down Bones’ arms, chest, and shoulders, feeling for possible injuries.
Leonard grasped the restless hands. “Jim. Jim, darlin’, I’m fine, they didn’t hurt me at all. Even covered me with a warm blanket.”
Jim looked into the face he loved most in the world and a wave of relief surged through him.
“They were real polite as far as captors go.” Leonard continued, shaking his head disbelievingly. “Jim, who the hell are these guys? And what is goin’ on ‘round here? Why were we taken prisoners? I thought this was gonna’ be a simple meet and greet.” Leonard kept his voice soft even as he ranted.
Jim pulled Bones up on his feet. “I have no idea what’s going on. When I spoke with the Athanar Governor it was a cordial conversation, a friendly hello, told him that we were here as ordered by Fleet to get acquainted, that the Federation was ready to sign the preliminary agreements, then the usual blah,blah, blah. And you know what’s even weirder? They’re the ones who reached out to the Federation wanting us to visit Athanar. I don’t understand any of this.” Jim shook his head, keeping his voice low, fearful of being overheard.
“Our Fleet Intel reported Athanar as a stable, peaceful, developed, world. There’s been occasional visits from other Federation worlds, but they haven’t ventured beyond their own solar system. Athanar is still a pre-warp planet. From what Spock and I saw during our two conversations with the Governor, he spoke from a well appointed office, sat behind an opulent looking desk, and had a state of the art comm unit. He introduced Spock and me to three of his aides who also sounded cordial and welcoming. He told us they were ready to join the Federation, looked forward to our visit, warned us to beam down dressed for their cold climate, and sent us the time and coordinates for our meet and greet. That was just a couple of days ago, and we haven’t spoken since. Spock and I didn’t think it was odd since the meet and greet arrangements had already been finalized.”
Jim handed Bones his phaser. “Keep an eye on the door,” he ordered quietly, as he tied the guard’s hands behind his back. “It seemed to Spock and me that it would be a routine walk in the park First Contact mission prior to official treaty signing. We did wonder why they only wanted the Captain and the ship’s Medical Doctor to sign the preliminary agreements, but when I asked the Governor, he said their society holds healers in high esteem, that they wanted to meet and speak with a Federation physician. He also said that after we signed the initial stuff, other members of the crew were welcome to visit the planet, they were anxious to meet everybody, so I agreed.” Jim sighed. “I’m sorry, Bones. I thought it’d be an easy first contact mission and a chance for us to get off the ship together for a while.”
“S’ alright, darlin’. I’d much rather be here with you than back on the ship worrying myself sick about you.” Bones assured him.
Jim gave him a brilliant smile, warmth flooding through him at Bones’ words. Truth be told, in spite of present circumstances, he’d rather Bones be here with him too. While he worked tying up the unconscious guard, he thought back to earlier today and how their current predicament had unfolded. As specified, the two men had beamed down to the coordinates provided by the Governor’s aide. However, instead of the Governor and other dignitaries waiting for them, they had quickly been surrounded by nine men who’d grabbed them at knife point, and taken their packs, phasers and comms. They were pushed and prodded a short distance to what looked like a primitive compound of several small wooden huts. They were separated and placed inside two huts with all their belongings thrown in after them. Jim’s hands and feet were bound, he was sat on the dirt floor, and without a word of explanation left there. For what purpose, Jim had no idea. He had protested vehemently and loudly to his captors, repeatedly asked what was going on, explained they had come at the invitation of the Governor, asked to speak with him, but his captors completely ignored him. No one spoke to him, no one even looked at him before they left him tied up in the hut.
While being escorted to the hut, Jim had carefully scrutinized their captors. They were tall and very thin. They wore similar clothing, fur vests over simple dark belted tunics, loose pants tucked into high boots, and tall fur hats. Jim thought it looked like some sort of semi military uniform. All nine men had mustaches and beards, and under the fur hats, their long dark hair was braided and hung down their backs. Each of them carried primitive weapons; long, curved, lethal looking knives tucked into their belts, and quarter staffs hanging holstered behind their backs. They looked nothing like the sophisticated, well dressed men Jim had seen on the comm while speaking with the Governor.
Which, Jim seethed angrily, as he tested the ropes around the guard’s hands, brought them to the here and now. He was having to play the ‘get out of jail card’ until he could figure out what the hell had gone wrong with this mission.
“Looks like since we beamed down, some sort of dampening field’s been put up. I tried to signal the ship while I was crawling over here, but nothing got through,” Jim told Bones, using the rest of his ropes to tie up the guard’s feet, then looking around for something to gag him with. He found nothing, so he tore off a piece from the bottom of the man’s black tunic and gagged him securely.
”I bet the hobgoblin and Scotty are having fits ‘cause we missed our first check in,” Leonard whispered, rubbing at his chafed wrists.
“Spock and Scotty will start scanning for us, but they won’t do anything until they know more about what’s going on. I don’t get any of this, Bones. The Governor made it clear Athanar was anxious to join the Federation. Something’s going on here that I don’t understand at all. Did the men say anything to you?”
“Nope, not a word, but I did overhear my guard tell someone outside, “Now we must wait.”
“Wait for who or what, I wonder? Okay, that’s it,” Jim said, tying the last knot. “Later for that, right now we’re getting out of here.”
Leonard handed Jim back his phaser, then quickly looked around the small dark hut until he spotted his own comm, phaser and field pack tossed carelessly in a corner. Even better though, he saw his Med bag. “Bingo,” he whispered thankfully. He never, ever, went anywhere without it, not since he’d first met allergic, risk taking, Jim Kirk.
“Let’s go,” Jim whispered, clutching his arm tightly. “We’ll go out the back of the hut like I did.”
“Jim, let’s take the blanket, it’s freezing cold out there, and we might need it.”
“Yeah, good idea. Wish I’d thought to bring mine too. Come on,” Jim said, keeping his death grip on Bones’ arm. He’d been scared shitless when the men had pulled Bones away from him. As his guard had pushed and prodded him along, Jim had dawdled and pretended to stumble, turning his head back to see which hut Bones was put in. Satisfied he knew where Bones was, he made no further effort to irritate his captor.
Since their Academy days when they’d first become best friends, Jim had made it a point to know where Bones was at all times. It had been easy back then when they were roommates. Even when Jim went out, he knew that Bones was either in class, in their dorm room, or on shift at the hospital. After he’d made Captain and they’d gotten together, Jim would still check on Bones’ location on the ship by asking the computer his whereabouts. On shore leave, if they weren’t together for some reason, he’d comm Bones to ask casual and mundane questions just so he could check in with him.
It was one of Jim’s most secret and irrational fears that one day Bones would somehow disappear from his life, or that he’d get tired of being with Jim, sick of being on the ship and in space, which, as he’d told Jim on the shuttle, was “nothing but disease and danger wrapped in darkness and silence.” Jim couldn’t let that happen. In his heart of hearts, he knew his life wouldn’t work without Bones at his side.
If Leonard was aware of Jim’s fear, he’d never said a word about it, nor had he ever complained or teased Jim about his need to check on him with those random comms. In his silent and supportive way, he seemed to sense that Jim needed the security of keeping Leonard close. And really, it worked both ways. As Leonard had voiced many times to Jim, he felt better and more at ease when he could keep a close eye on Jim, which is why he had agreed to come with him to Athanar.
“We’ll have to find shelter. It’s too damned cold! Somewhere we can hide and figure out how to contact the ship, and what to do about this mess,” Jim whispered, grabbing Bones tightly and pushing out the flimsy wooden boards with his boot.
“I’m all for that, let’s get the hell out of here!”
They went out into the cold still night through the hole and Jim looked up to get his bearings, the stars always his go to in any situation. He quickly scanned the area from side to side, then up close and far out to the dark wooded horizon in front of them. Satisfied that no one was stirring, that all was quiet and there was no patrol, he grabbed Bones’ gloved hand and they headed towards the looming, silent woods.
“Good,” Jim murmured softly. “It’s starting to snow again. It’ll cover our tracks.”
Through the heavily falling snow, they made their way slowly, stealthily, into the dark woods. The moon and starlight reflected off the white snow partially lighting their way, but it was still difficult to see and hard going in spots where the snow was knee deep. The forest looked foreboding and secretive as they entered the tree line. The snow deadened all sound except for the crunch of their booted feet as they walked. It felt slightly warmer in the forest, the density of the trees acting as a shelter from the falling snow and the bitterly cold wind.
From time to time Jim would stop and turn slowly in a complete circle scanning the entire perimeter. Leonard waited patiently knowing that Jim was an expert at this from his advanced survival training, and that they stood a better chance of seeing movement around them when he did that. Each time Jim nodded to himself, satisfied. Their tracks were being covered by the falling snow as they kept trudging slowly along, keeping their movements as quiet and imperceptible as possible.
It was getting more and more difficult to walk. To Jim it felt as if they were going up a hill, but in the dark it was hard to tell if they were really climbing. Jim could hear Bones’ breathing change to a more labored cadence; he was getting tired. Although they were both in great physical condition, Bones faithfully keeping up with his fitness training, Jim’s training was more intense, his endurance greater. He ran, sparred with Spock, swam laps in the pool, and fought regularly with Sulu using knives, swords, and other weapons.
“Let’s rest for a few minutes,” Jim kept his voice soft, although they were far from the compound now and the snow deadened all sound.
“Don’t stop on my account, Jim. I can keep up.”
“I know you can, but I want to get my bearings. We seem to be walking up hill, but how high up, I’m not sure.” He opened his comm and it lit up, but there was still no signal for communication, not even static. The dampening field was definitely preventing their signals from getting to or from the ship. Peering down, he changed the comm mode and fiddled with the settings trying to get a reading on their position. He whooped softly in triumph. Finally, he was able to see a map of where they were.
“Look here, Bones,” Jim said, pointing to the bright red outline on the screen. “We’re here and the tree line is up there, so we’re definitly climbing up a hill. See the outline of those boulders? It’s rocky up higher, so we’ll probably be able to find a sheltered spot to hide. Let’s sit and rest for 30 minutes and then we’ll climb up there. It’s much harder walking uphill in this deep snow.”
Leonard sighed. A few minutes of rest sounded good to him as long as they didn’t get too cold. “Okay, we’ll rest, but let’s sit on one of the thermal blankets, and we’ll cover ourselves with that thick blanket I grabbed. It’s too damn cold, and hypothermia can get us before we even realize it if we’re not careful.’”
Jim nodded. Bones was always vigilant, never ceasing in his care of Jim and all the crew. In Jim’s totally biased opinion, he was the epitome of loyalty and caring.
Bones spread the Fleet thermal blanket on the cold snow. The two men huddled tightly against each other, and Leonard draped the stolen blanket over them. It was made of some thick wool like substance and it’s instant warmth was welcomed.
Jim relaxed into Bones relishing the closeness and heat of the sturdy body by his side. Being this close to Bones was always a gift, and, in spite of the circumstances, he was going to enjoy it.
“Are you all right, Bones? Warm enough?” He pulled off one glove to feel under Bones’ sleeve. Jim breathed out thankfully. His skin felt warm and soft, perfect.
“I’m warm enough, darlin’. How ‘bout you? I know you’re an Iowa boy and you probably consider this balmy weather, but it’s damn well freezin’ out here.”
“I’m good. This blanket is super warm. Glad you thought to grab it.” They were still whispering, hyper vigilant in spite of the trees all around them.
“Yeah, glad I thought of it too. Are you thirsty or hungry? We have ration bars and water in our packs.”
“Naw, I’d rather wait until we reach some shelter, maybe light a fire. Then we can eat our delicious dinner.”
Leonard snorted. Fleet ration bars were notorious across the quadrant for tasting like dry cardboard, albeit they were nutritious. No one wanted to eat them unless it was absolutely necessary. No matter how much Fleet personnel complained about the tasteless bars, nothing had been done to make them more palatable.
“I’ve been thinking. Somehow I don’t think those men were part of the Governor’s original welcoming committee.”
“You think?” Leonard raised his arm and put it around Jim’s shoulder. “Scootch in closer, Jimmy, so I can wrap the blanket completely around us.” Jim did so, and Bones tucked it in all around so the blanket formed a cocoon of warmth and comfort around them.
Jim obediently wriggled even closer, commanding his traitorous body to calm down. This was not the time to indulge his libido, his constant desire for Bones, but his body heat felt so damn good. “So what went wrong? Where is the Governor’s welcoming committee, what’s happened to them? And who the hell are these guys? They didn’t seem to want to hurt us. They certainly could have, but they didn’t. So what do they want? Why did they grab us?”
“Beats me. I’m just damn happy you weren’t down here by yourself.”
“I wouldn’t have beamed down by myself. You know the regs. No one on an away mission or on shore leave is allowed to beam down alone, especially the Captain.”
“One of my favorite regs, that one,” Leonard grinned at him, dimples prominent.
Jim elbowed him. “You know I always follow that one.”
“I know...and I worry less because of it, ‘cause I don’t know what I’d do if anything happened to you.” Leonard’s voice was somber now, his hazel eyes, looking straight into Jim’s dead serious.
“Bones...,” Jim whispered, clutching his arm tightly. “Nothing is going to happen to me, sweetheart.” He watched as Bones’ face softened. “Anyway, I’ve always got you to fix me up, right?” He stroked Bones’ arm soothingly. Bones, who’d always been the center of Jim’s universe, the most important person in his life, who’d always taken care of him and always would.
“Damn straight,” Leonard answered. “Wouldn’t trust anyone else to fix you but me. I’m always gonna’ be right by your side. Always.”
Jim leaned in and whispered, “thanks, Bones,” brushing Bones’ plush mouth in a feather soft angel’s kiss. It was a kiss devoid of passion, but it held all the love that Jim was never able to properly articulate to his doctor.
He drew back reluctantly and sighed looking at his chronometer. “Guess its time for us to get going, dawn isn’t that far off and they’re gonna’ discover we’re gone and start looking for us.”
Leonard groaned, just when he was warm and comfortable. Reluctantly he got up. He folded the warm thick blanket tightly while Jim folded the thermal one. He stuffed them both in his pack, and they trudged on following the map on the comm screen, going up the tall hill, hopeful of finding shelter somewhere up there in the rocks.
Just An Ordinary Mission
“The snow was endless, a heavy blanket on the outdoors;
it had a way about it. A beauty.
But I knew that, like many things, beauty could be deceiving.”
Jim squinted up at the sky. It was definitely getting lighter and the moon was lowering on the horizon. It would be daylight in a couple of hours.
“We need to find shelter before sunrise, Bones. Find a place to hide until we can contact the ship, figure out what the hell’s happened here, somehow try to salvage this First Contact debacle.” Jim rubbed his hand over his stubbly face in frustration. “It’s my responsibility as Captain to try to fix this mess, but I also need to fix it because Chris made it clear some of the Admirals are just waiting for me to screw up.”
Leonard frowned fiercely. “Jackass, arm chair Admirals. God damnit, Jim! You’ve done everything by the book. Pike, Spock and me we’ll back you up.”
Jim smiled wearily. “Yeah, I know you will, but somehow this mission still turned into a fiasco, and the Admirals won’t like it. I’m going to try my best to fix it, Bones.”
Leonard stopped walking, and turned to face Jim. “We will figure this out, we always do. I have complete confidence in that giant brain of yours...you’ll get to the bottom of this.” He looked knowingly at Jim’s guilty face. “And amazingly enough, Captain, this is not your fault. We came here in good faith, did everything by the book, we were invited even, and there was no sign of any possible trouble...so stop blamin’ yourself!”
Jim shook his head, the moonlight reflecting off his blue eyes. “How do you do that?“
“Know what I’m thinking and feeling. How’d you know I feel like it’s my fault?” He poked at Bones’ ribs. “You’ve got powers.”
Leonard snorted. “Nope, no powers. I just know how you think and I know how you blame yourself for every damn thing that goes wrong on that ship, or on a mission. Not everythin’ is your fault, Jim’.” He cupped Jim’s face with both gloved hands. “You hearing me, kid? None of this is your fault.”
Jim nodded and tucked his head into the curve of Bones' neck. “Thanks, Bones.” He burrowed deeper into the broad shoulder. “I was so scared...scared they’d hurt you. Had to get to you out of there as fast as I could.” His voice was muffled, choked, and he clutched Bones’ jacket tightly.
“I knew you’d come for me, darlin’.” Leonard said soothingly, rubbing up and down his back. Jim’s nose was cold against his cheek, moving in to nuzzle under his jaw. “And I’m not sorry I’m here. I can take anything as long as we’re together. You got that?”
Jim raised his head and looked into Bones’ eyes. They were dark as night, but warm and shining, filled with deep love. This was Jim’s Bones, his rock, his anchor, the man who worked tirelessly and selflessly for him and for everyone on the ship.
“Got it, Doctor mine. Now we better get going. We need to get warm, get some rest, and eat those delicious ration bars, so let’s go find us some shelter.”
They kept going, following the bright red line on Jim’s comm. Walking was difficult in the deep snow, but panting and swearing, they finally came to the end of the tree line. Now there were rocks as well as snow under their booted feet. The heavy snow fall had lessened slightly and walking was easier. Darkness was lessening over the horizon, and they could make out jagged silhouettes, outcroppings of large rock formations and huge boulders. There was also loose rubble under the snow making walking slippery and balance precarious.
“Let’s slow down, Bones, we don’t want to slip and break something, or start a rock slide.” Jim stopped and turned his body 360 degree, listening carefully. The forest was a good distance behind them now. Everywhere there was absolute silence, the deep snow dampening all sounds. If there were animals around, they were sleeping or hibernating or whatever animals did here.
This was a class M planet and the Athanarians were humanoids, very human-like, just taller in stature and much thinner, almost frail in appearance. According to Spock’s Science minions, Athanar’s climate and seasons were similar to Earth’s, with the planet’s day and night cycle being 26 hours long. Therefore, the Science department extrapolated, most of the Athanarian species’ circadian rhythms would be diurnal and nocturnal and chances were that animal and avian species would be similar to Earth species
Jim bit at his lip worriedly. “Okay, let’s start looking for shelter, it’s going to be light soon, and up on this hill we’ll be visible if they’re looking for us.” They trudged carefully, slowly up the hill.
Eyes darting right, left, and up, they scanned the area. “Look up there, Jim.” Leonard peered up to an outcropping of huge boulders barely visible through the falling snow. “That area looks promising.”
“Let’s go see.” Jim led the way, climbing gingerly on the loose rubble, Leonard following close behind.
They reached the enormous rock formations and Jim stepped around the biggest one. He breathed an excited yes! Behind the huge rocks was a snowy rocky path leading to a small hollow in the rocks, a shallow cave! “This is it, Bones! Our shelter! We’ll stop here, rest, eat and try to get a comm signal out. Let’s unload our stuff and settle in.” He pulled the field pack off his back and set it down. “Cave’s kind of small, but it’ll do and at least there aren’t any animals making use of it. You get us settled, Bones. I’m going to look for some fire wood, and walk back to check how visible the cave is. We might have to move some rocks to hide us better.”
“Just don’t go too far, Jim, and walk real careful,” Leonard told him anxiously, seeing the dark smudges of tiredness under Jim’s eyes. “My Med bag is good, but I don’t want to treat either of us for a broken bone, so come back quick, cause I’ll be worryin’ til you‘re back. I’ll get us situated here.”
“I won’t be long.”
Jim carefully retraced their route and looked up. The cave was partly shielded by the big boulders, but a few more rocks in front of it wouldn’t be amiss. The tree line was pretty far down below, and he didn’t want to leave Bones longer than necessary, so a fire was out. It would be invisible in the dimness right now, but later on the smoke might be seen. Once it was daylight they could do a better reconnaissance, maybe climb higher, trying to get a comm signal out. He had no way of knowing if the dampening field was localized below them or around the entire planet. Scotty would have to do his magic to find them, with, he was sure, help from Chekov and Spock.
He hurried back to the cave. Bones had put their packs against the cave wall, spread both ground covers on the dirt floor, rolled one of the thermal blankets up tightly to use as a long pillow, and spread the other to cover them as a first layer. The stolen blanket was at the foot of the makeshift bed ready to put over the thermal one. He’d also pulled out two ration bars and water. He looked up, face relieved when Jim came in. “Come on, Jimmy, let’s gulp these down and get some rest.”
“In a minute, Bones. I want us to put a few more big rocks close to the entrance so it’ll be harder to spot once it’s daylight.”
“Yeah, okay, but let’s do it quick. Snow coming down hard again.” The two men went out and pushed and rolled three heavy boulders closer to the entrance. The snow was falling harder again and any visibility they’d had was gone. They were happy to get out of the heavy falling snow. They sat down on the thermal blanket, both men breathing heavily from their exertions. Jim tried to pull off his cold weather field jacket, he was hot after all their hard work, but Bones stopped him.
“No, Jim. Keep it on. It’s way too easy to get chilled in this type of weather.“ He handed Jim a ration bar. “Here eat this, drink some water and let’s get some rest. I’m real tired.”
Jim looked at his Bones...he did look worn out. “All right, Bonsey. I’ll eat this gourmet meal and we’ll get some sleep.” After eating, both men went outside of the cave to take care of bodily necessities. Bones took out two hygiene wipes from his pack and they cleaned their hands, necks and faces.
Feeling slightly cleaner, they took off their boots and gloves, careful to place them away from the cave opening, then arranged themselves on the ground, keeping their phasers and comms close by. They shifted around until they got comfortable, with Bones spooning Jim. Leonard pulled the two blankets over them and carefully tucked them in all around them. Jim sighed happily. No matter the circumstances, the seriousness of their present situation, he was here snug and warm with Bones’ arm tight around him.
“Warm enough, darlin’?”
“Yeah, toasty warm. You?”
“Love you, Bones,” Jim murmured sleepily.
“Love you more. Happy I’m here with you, and not alone, worried sick on that damned ship.” Leonard slurred, almost asleep.
Jim smiled dreamily, as he gave Bones’ fingers a squeeze before tucking their joined hands under the blankets. He was instantly asleep.
Bright sunlight shining on his face woke Jim from his sound sleep. He blinked against the light trying to get his brain to work. He felt warmly comfortable, the magic blanket Bones had stolen doing a fine job of keeping them toasty warm. In their sleep, one of them had pulled the blankets up higher, and both their heads were partially covered. Bones’ arm was still tight around his waist, and he was breathing deeply, regularly, still sound asleep. Jim carefully lifted his arm to check his chronometer, 1900 hours ship’s time. His stomach and his bladder both told him it was time to wake up Bones. He turned carefully so as not to dislodge Bones’ arm and his eyes caressed the beloved face so close to his. Jim ran a soft finger around plush lips. “Bones, Bones, sweetheart, it’s time to wake up.”
The hazel eyes flickered, opened, then closed again. Jim leaned over and kissed him softly. ”Time to wake up, we’ve things to do.”
Leonard slowly opened his eyes and squinted at the bright morning light. “Morning, darlin’,” he murmured, looking past Jim to the mouth of the cave. It had obviously snowed hard while they slept and it had piled up in a tall drifts. “Looks like we slept through the worst of the snow storm.” He sighed as he poked an arm out from under the blanket. “It’s too damned cold, but nature calls.”
“We’ll go together, then wash up and scout higher up. No time to build a fire, though, we have to get a move on. I hate to abandon this cave, but the higher we go the more likely I can get a comm signal out, and there might be another sheltered spot higher up.”
“We can always come back here if we need to,” Leonard said. “Don’t want us to stay outside overnight. Too dangerous.”
They took care of bodily needs and basic hygiene. All their bodily wastes had to be buried in the snow, there was nothing else they could do. Although it pained both men to mess up the pristine area, there was no way to dig a latrine. Back inside the cave, Bones insisted they wash with the medical sanitizing wipes and clean their teeth too. “If one of us gets a cut or scrape, the cleaner we are the less likely we are to get an infection,” he told Jim. “I have microbial cartridges for my hypo, but they’re general ones, so let’s be careful.”
Jim grinned and leaned in to kiss him. “Always so careful. Leonard Horatio McCoy, Doctor extraordinaire.”
“It’s my job to take care of you.” Bones returned the kiss tasting Jim’s minty mouth. It was a lingering sweet kiss that warmed Jim’s whole body.
“And to take care of yourself too, Bones,” Jim told him earnestly, knowing that if anything ever happened to Bones, he would not survive the loss.
They packed up the ground covers and blankets and Jim put in the coordinates of the cave into his comm. “Just in case we have to come back.”
Once outside they checked the perimeter carefully, above and below them. No footprints. It was still snowing which was both good and bad. It hid their bootprints, but it also hid the footprints of anyone who might be looking for them.
The two men climbed steadily, careful of hidden rocks, holes, and the slippery icy snow. After two hours, Jim called a halt for a rest period, both men were breathing hard. They found a boulder to sit on, and Bones got the water out of his field pack. Dehydration, even in the cold was still a danger. They looked down to see they had climbed quite a ways up.
Jim checked his comm, and shook his head. “Nothing yet.” He looked up. “There! There’s the top. If we don’t find a signal there, then we won’t.” Both men were silent, Jim thinking furiously. The dampening field had not been activated until after they’d beamed down, the ship had detected no sign of it. Whoever activated it must have done it sometime after they were captured. But who, and why? He bit his lip. They’d missed three check ins, one right after they were taken, one last night, and one this morning, so there would now be an all out effort to find them. Scotty would have discovered the dampening field and would already be working furiously to punch through it to find their comm or bio signals. Spock would have tried to speak to the Governor and, not succeeding, he’d have Nyota trying to find a way around that. The ship would be on Yellow Alert, standard protocol for finding a missing Captain or crew member. Jim was confident they’d be found eventually, but it might be a while yet. Enterprise never left a man behind,
They rested a few more minutes, but it was too cold to sit for long. They trudged on until they reached the peak, both men breathing heavily from fatigue and the high altitude. Leonard opened his pack and got out the thermal and wool blankets and spread them out on the snow.
“Let’s sit, Jim. We need to rest, eat and drink. We expanded a lot of calories and sweated a lot climbing up here.” Leonard spread out the thermal blanket, pulling Jim down to sit with him. He handed him a ration bar and water, then pulled the thick blanket over them.
“Thanks, Bones. It feels good to sit.” Jim munched at the horrid ration bar, took a swig of water, and opened his comm. “Kirk to Enterprise, come in Enterprise.” There was loud static on the comm and the two men stared wide eyed at each other. Jim fiddled with the settings. “Enterprise, this is the Captain, come in!”
“Captain!” Scotty’s joyful voice came in loud and clear. “‘Tis yourself, lad, and glad I am to hear yaer voice! We were that worried! Mr. Spock, Lt. Uhura and meself have been searching for you all night, trying to contact you. What happened, Captain, and are yae and McCoy all right?”
“Scotty,” Jim’s elated voice rang out as he grinned in triumph at Bones. “We’re okay! It’s a long story. Scotty, can you beam us out?”
“Captain, this Spock. I’m sorry, Sir, but It has taken all our combined efforts to even accomplish our present communication. I must admit to some surprise that this worked. I’m afraid a beam out is not possible...for now. Yours and Dr. McCoy’s body mass and weight makes it impossible to do so at this time. There is some sort of energy field blocking the whole area. We were unable to penetrate it until early this morning. It was Lt. Uhura’s idea to boost our comm signal through the main frame computer, Captain. Mr. Scott, Ensign Chekov and I, were then able to modify and send the comm signal down to the planet, not unlike a phaser shot, and thus penetrate the dampening field. I must also report that I have been unsuccessful in contacting the Althanar Governor. What has transpired, Captain?”
“Excellent work, everyone, and I’m not surprised you couldn’t reach the Governor, Spock,” Jim huffed a frustrated breath, what the hell was going on here? “It’s a long and strange story.” Jim proceeded to fill them in on their capture, their escape, their search for shelter, and their climb up the mountain. “We’ve hiked high up, Spock. I guess the dampening field is not as strong at this altitude as it is below us, your comm signal idea penetrated it.”
“We will continue our work until a beam out is possible, Captain. Excuse me for just one moment, Sir.” There was a murmur of voices in the background and Jim and Leonard looked at each other curiously until Spock came back.
“Captain, Mr. Scott would like to try an experiment.”
Jim grinned. Of course Scotty wanted to try an experiment. “Oh? What kind of experiment?”
“He would like to attempt a beam down of something small. He will attempt to reroute the transporter beam and attach it, so to speak, to the main frame computer’s current comm signal to see if you are able to receive it. He says if that works it will help us further our work to get you off the planet.”
More conversation could be heard, then Uhura’s voice. “What would you and Len like, Captain? It might as well be something you want or need, but it has to be small.”
Jim and Leonard looked at each other. ”Coffee!” They said at the same time. “Even if it’s a small amount, Lieutenant, some hot coffee would be great, it’s damn cold here.”
“Very well, Sir. It will take a few minutes to modify the computer amplified comm signal and attach it to the transporter before we make the attempt. Meanwhile, what are you and Dr. McCoy going to do until we can get you off the mountain?”
“We have to find shelter, Spock. Temps this high up are damn cold, dangerously cold, plus we’re in the middle of a heavy snow storm. We need to stay hidden to avoid getting captured again, although I doubt if anyone is out looking for us in this weather. We also need to find out what’s happened to the Governor, why were we taken prisoners, and who were the men who captured us? When we last spoke to the Governor there was no indication anything was wrong was there, Spock?”
“No, Sir. On the contrary, our conversations with the Governor and his staff seemed normal, they were most pleasant and anxious for us to meet. I do not understand this at all.”
“I don’t either, and I don’t like it. You’ll have to report this development to Admiral Pike, see if he has further orders. No one else, Spock, just the Admiral, and,” Jim paused, thinking of possible security leaks, “encrypt your communication to him.”
“Yes, Sir. I will see to it as soon as possible. The Admiral will not be pleased, Captain.”
“An understatement, Mr. Spock...the shit’s gonna hit the fan!”
There was a momentary silence on the comm. “Captain, Mr. Scott is now ready to attempt the beam down of an insulated cup of coffee. If this works we will be able to send down other small items as well as more coffee.”
“From your mouth to God’s ears, pointy,” muttered Leonard.
“Did the doctor say something, Captain?”
“No, nothing, Mr. Spock,” Jim grinned at Bones. “Go ahead.”
The two men watched as the transporter beam whined and flickered erratically while the cup shimmered in and out for a few seconds. Finally, the welcomed bell-like sound announced the arrival of the insulated cup which solidified on the snow.
“It worked, Spock! The cup is here.”
“Excellent, Sir. It appears Mr. Scott’s experiment has worked.”
“Of course it did,” Jim said stoutly. Scotty was amazing!
Leonard gingerly picked up the cup and peered at it suspiciously, its atoms seemed to be intact. He looked inside and yes, there it was, heavenly, hot, black coffee! He held it out to Jim who took a sip, a look of sheer bliss crossing his face. “It’s perfect, Spock, it sure hits the spot!” He handed the cup back to Bones who sipped it and nodded in approval.
Leonard leaned in to talk into Jim’s comm. “Scotty, you’re a genius! All of you we owe you big time! We sure needed something hot. It’s freezin’!.”
“Yeah, it is. Bones and I need to find a place to shelter. Even through our winter gear, it’s still damn cold. I know it’s asking a lot, Scotty, but do you think you could beam down some hats, snow goggles, maybe some hot soup, and more coffee?”
“Aye, Sir, it can be done, though it will have to be verrry slowly one at a time. The signal cannae’ take more. ‘Tis sorry I am it will be so slow and the two be standing in the cold, lad.”
“We understand, you’ve accomplished miracles already. Just do it as fast as you can, Scotty, because we need to find shelter or were going to freeze to death.”
Just An Ordinary Mission
“The distance of a voice, is only a short time away from touch.”
They waited huddled together under the heavy blanket as one by one, the items they requested were beamed down. They put on the wool knitted caps and snow goggles immediately, then drank the hot coffee. They saved the container of hot soup for later.
“I’ll comm you as soon as we find shelter, Spock. Uhura, keep your comm open, so even if we move to another location you’ll still be able to monitor us.”
“Yes, Sir. I’ll try to monitor your signal constantly.”
“Talk to you in a while then, everyone stay alert up there. Spock, keep the ship on yellow alert. Kirk out.”
Jim marked their coordinates in his comm just in case they needed to find it again. They packed up everything and began their search for shelter. It was snowing again, but at least the woolen caps kept their heads and ears warm and the goggles helped with visibility. They headed higher up toward some large rock formations that looked promising. The more boulders there were the more likely it was there would be another cave, a hollow, or a ledge where they could huddle together out of the snow and bitter cold.
The snow was coming down harder, swirling in the icy breeze. Jim, used to Iowa winters and blizzard conditions, thought worriedly that Bones was unfamiliar and inexperienced with this type of brutally cold weather. Georgia hardly ever saw snow, much less heavy snow, and it rarely snowed San Francisco. They had to find a place to shelter soon, or head back down to the cave. Jim, walking ahead, deep in thought, Suddenly heard a panicked yell!
He turned to see Bones sliding down the steep incline, his arms and legs flailing, waving helplessly in the air!
“Bones! Bones! Hold on! I’m coming! I’m coming!” A terrified Jim slid and slipped down the mountain side until he reached the doctor. Leonard was on his back, sputtering and coughing, snow covering his face, arms, and head. The force of his landing had half buried him in the snow.
“Bones! Bones! Are you hurt? Bones! Answer me! Are you alright?” Jim pushed aside the rising hysteria he’d felt at seeing Bones’ panicked slide down the mountain. He dug frantically at the snow trying to get Bones out, grabbing and pulling until he saw his hands: those blessed hands, always steady, always gentle, even when he poked and prodded the crew in the Med Bay.
“Ooomph!” Leonard grunted, sputtering, trying to catch his breath. He blindingly tried to pry Jim’s fingers off his wrist.
“What? What? Bones? Where does it hurt?”
Leonard sat up carefully. “It’s my wrist, must have fallen on it.” He coughed harshly and spit out snow. “Its not bad, Jim. I think it’s only a slight sprain, see?” He opened and closed his fingers, then rotated his wrist to show Jim. “I’m fine. I’ll put cold snow on it when we find shelter. Don’t know what happened. My boots just seemed to slip out from under me. Good thing the snow is so soft.”
Jim sat back on his heels, his heartbeat thundering in his ears. “You scared me to death!” He stood up and with a trembling hand pulled the doctor to his feet. “You sure you’re all right? Nothing else hurts?” He gently brushed the snow off Bones’ face, goggles, hat, and eyebrows, then placed his shaking hand on Bones’ chest feeling the reassuring steady beat of his heart.
“Sorry for scarin’ you, darlin’.” Leonard said, brushing the snow off himself too. “Nothin’ else hurts, I promise. Come on. Let’s keep goin’, it’s too damned cold for standing around.” He covered Jim’s hand with his own, patting it gently.
His mouth held in a tight line, Jim grasped Bones’ good hand in a grip like a vice trying to calm himself. He was not about to let go as they climbed back up to where they’d been. The snowfall was so heavy it was piling up in high drifts and there was poor visibility. Bones’ slide down the mountain had scared the hell out of him and he still felt shaky. What if Bones had been badly injured? How would Jim have gotten him to shelter in these conditions, taken care of him in this freezing weather? As if reading Jim’s mind, Leonard’s fingers closed reassuringly tighter around his fingers as they trudged on. Finally, the huge boulders loomed in front of them. Relieved and tired they leaned against one of them catching their breath.
“We’ll go back to the cave if we can’t find shelter here,” Jim wiped at his goggles, catching his breath. “Even though I really don’t want to hike all that way back ‘cause there’s no comm signal down there.” He looked around. “We can’t stay out here in the open like this, it’s too damned cold.”
“Too bad they couldn’t beam an all weather tent down to us,” Leonard said, voicing his fervent wish.
“Way too big,” Jim sighed. “Let’s see what’s behind these rocks, Bonsey.”
On the other side of the outcropping, Jim saw there was a fairly sheltered spot under two enormous boulders. The huge stones were at least 7 feet tall, standing side by side like sentinels. Directly behind the boulders was a smooth, sheer rock face. Looking at the position of the boulders, Jim had an idea. “Bones, what if we used one of our ground covers as a roof. I think it’s wide and long enough that we could spread it out across those two stones, sort of like those blanket forts we’ve built with Jojo, and it’d be right over us to block the falling snow. We could weigh it down on each of the boulders with rocks so it wouldn’t blow off. Then we’ll put down one of the ground covers as a barrier from the snow, and over that, one of the thermal blankets. We’ll lay down on those and use the other thermal blanket and the wool one to cover ourselves. It’s either that or we have to hike back down to the cave. What do you think? You wanna try it? We’ll do whatever you think is best.”
Leonard looked hard at the two tall sentinel stones, at the snow coming down even harder now. He thought about his frightening slide down the mountain side, thought about Jim’s idea, thought about how tired they were, and decided. “Let’s stay, darlin’. This cold and snow is takin’ it outta me. I’m a Georgia boy, we don’t much care for snow, but more important than that, we have a comm signal up here.”
“All right then, let’s get our shelter set up.”
Careful of his wrist, Bones joined his hands together and boosted Jim up to the top of one of the stones then handed him the ground cover. Jim stretched it out over the empty space between the two huge stones, letting both long sides hang down on the outside of both stones. “Find me a few good size rocks to weigh it down with, Bones.”
Leonard dug under the snow, and one by one, handed up the stones. Jim spaced them out evenly on the first stone, then jumping down to the soft snow, Bones hefted him up again to do the same on the second stone. With the weight of the rocks, the ground cover would not blow off from either stone.
“There what do you think?” Jim jumped down and looked at his handiwork.
Leonard looked up admiringly at their “roof”. It was definitely keeping the snow from falling into the space between the sentinel stones. “Have I told you there’s no one I’d rather be stranded with in a snow storm than you? You’re amazin’!”
A tinge of pink appeared on Jim’s cheeks. “Thank you, Dr. McCoy. We’ll have to tell Jojo about our blanket fort, she’ll love that. Now let’s spread out the other ground cover and thermal blanket.” Jim got down on his hands and knees to scrape at the soft snow, leveling the spot where they’d be sleeping. Leonard spread out the second ground cover, and over it, one of the thermal blankets. “Perfect,” Jim said. “That should keep the cold from coming through. Now we can sit down to eat. I’m damn hungry, let’s drink that hot soup and coffee.”
Sitting under their canopy which, Jim was happy to see, provided good protection from the heavily falling snow, they took off their goggles, hats and gloves, relishing the warmth of the good hot soup and coffee. The overhead ground cover was holding steady in spite of the gusts of strong wind buffeting it and with both the thermal and wool blankets draped over them, the two men felt tolerably warm.
Bones, Jim noted, looked much more relaxed and at ease. He leaned in to kiss the cold, ruddy cheek so close to him. “Were you worried, Bones? You know, I know a lot about this shit, lots of survival training and freezing cold Iowa winters.” Not to mention my experiences on Delta Vega, Jim thought, deciding it best not to voice that memory. “I’d never let anything happen to you, sweetheart, never!” Jim nuzzled his doctor, breath warm on his cheek as he pressed his mouth to cold skin.
Jim inhaled, feeling his tight muscles unwind. Just being next to Bones, feeling him breathe against him drained all the tension Jim had been holding since that slide down the mountain. Bones was here safe and sound and Jim would make sure he’d stay that way until they were rescued.
“I was worried,” Leonard confessed. “but about you, not me. I’m the one who’s supposed to be takin’ care of you, darlin’, it is my job you know,” he poked playfully at Jim’s ribs. “You don’t have much meat there, and we’re burning a lot more calories in this cold. It was a huge relief for me when that comm signal came through.”
“For me too,” Jim admitted. “So, we just have to take care of each other, right?”
“Damn straight!” Leonard agreed, hazel eyes alight.
“How’s your wrist?”
“It’s good... and no swelling, see? Won’t even need a cold pack.” He rotated his wrist. “It doesn’t hurt at all.”
“Good....But put your gloves back on to keep it warm.”
“Yes, Sir, Dr. Kirk, Sir,” Leonard snarked, pulling his gloves back on.
Jim just grinned at him. “Let’s try to comm the ship, see if our signal will go through from here. That way we don’t have to leave our cozy nest. I like sitting here next to you all warm and snug, Dr. McCoy. I do fancy you something awful, you know.”
Leonard snorted. “Jim Kirk, cuddlier extraordinaire. I like it too, darlin’, but I’d sure like it a lot better if we were sittin’ on the sofa in our quarters with my granny’s quilt around us.”
Jim, picturing it, smiled a bit forlornly. “Me too, baby, me too.” He opened his communicator. “Kirk to Enterprise, come in Enterprise.”
There were some crackles and hisses, a short tense wait, then they heard Uhura’s lovely voice. “Enterprise here, Captain. You’re coming in nice and clear, Sir.”
“Looks like our comms are working, Lieutenant. We finally found a sheltered spot so we’re a lot warmer and fine for now.”
“Fortuitous news, Captain.” Spock’s baritone voice broke in. “Sir, I’m afraid we have not yet found a way of getting you off the planet. Mr. Scott and I have the Engineering and Science departments working simultaneously on the mass and weight issues. We will continue to work around the clock until we find a way to penetrate the dampening field and form a big enough window to beam you back on board. As ordered, I reported to Admiral Pike. He was astonished to learn what happened to you, astonished and angry. He will try to ascertain from his end what has happened to the Governor. Also, Captain, Mr. Scott, Lt. Uhura, and I have put together what I believe is called a care package. We will commence beaming down the items one at a time. Mr. Scott has determined the maximum weight and mass that can be safely transported by his unorthodox method, and all items meet his criteria. Is your location an appropriate place for us to beam them down?”
“We’re too close to the rocks, Spock. Minerals may disrupt the signal....beam the items 10 meters south of us. Bones and I will retrieve them. Our thanks to all of you, Mr. Spock.”
“Of course, Captain, no thanks are necessary. We will speak again at our next check-in, 4 hours mark. Spock out.”
“What do you think they’re sending down, something hot maybe?” Leonard looked hopefully at Jim.
Jim stood up, tucking the blanket carefully around Leonard. “Don’t know, but I sure hope so. We’ll take turns retrieving the items. Be right back, Bones.”
It was a lot longer then ‘be right back’, by the time Jim returned, walking with difficulty through the deep snow, a big grin on his face, as he set everything down. “I have the best crew in the fleet,” he said. “And Scotty’s going to get himself a commendation.”
“Come get under this blanket right now, Jim Kirk! I was getting worried, was just goin’ out to look for you. You were out there a long time and I can feel it’s definitely getting colder,” Leonard scolded. He removed Jim’s goggles and cradled Jim’s cold face with gentle hands, his thumbs brushing soothingly over his rosy cheek bones.
Jim covered Bone’s hands with his own gloved ones. “Beam down is very slow. It’s one thing at a time.” He shivered. “It was damn cold just standing there waiting, but I’ll warm up in no time under the blankets.” He crept in next to Bones who threw an arm around him.
“Let’s warm you up, darlin’.” Leonard pulled the blankets over him to his chest and began to rub at his cold cheeks and nose. “Hands and feet feel all right?” He asked worriedly, peeling off his gloves and one of Jim’s to check his fingers. Jim’s hands were cool, but not too cold, and Leonard sighed in relief. No frostbite.
“Yeah, I’m good. Put your gloves back on, and I’ll show you what they beamed down. I told them to wait a while for the next beam down, this is turning into blizzard like conditions and I don’t want us out in it.” He huffed tiredly. “It’ll be food next time, Spock said. “They’re worried about us, Bones, worried and frustrated. First us being held captives for no apparent reason, then the weather conditions here being what they are.”
“Not too happy with those things myself,” Leonard agreed, looking out at the heavily falling snow. It was now whiteout conditions, but with their backs against the sheer rock face, the two tall massive sentinels shielding them on either side, the makeshift canopy overhead, the blankets and ground cover draped over them, they were tolerably protected and warm enough to avoid hypothermia.
“Look what they sent us.” He handed Bones a small bag. “Chocolate bars,” Jim said happily, and opened another small bag. “A change of socks, warm woolen ones. And best of all, get this, it’s a tiny portable heater. Scotty and Keenser worked their magic modifying two of the Engineering flashlights.” He showed Bones one of the flashlight that the Engineers always carried hanging on their belts. When he flicked the switch, instead of light, wonderful warmth came out. “One for you, one for me,” Jim told him, reverently. “I think Scotty will be receiving a bottle of Macallen whiskey from us next shore leave.”
“Hell, the man’s gonna get two bottles!” Leonard said, awed. “He really is a genius isn’t he.” He turned on the flashlight and blessed warmth came out to engulf him. He looked at Jim, smiling hugely, dimples flashing.
“Scotty said they have a charge that’ll last about three hours of continuous use.”
“We’ll save them ‘til later when whatever little bit of sun we have goes down. It’ll probably get much colder then,” Leonard said, turning his off.
Jim handed him a chocolate bar. “Uhura said to eat these right away, Geoff’s orders, he said we need the calories. They sent two each.” Jim unwrapped his, took a big bite and closed his eyes in bliss. “Shit, that’s good! Eat up, Bonsey.”
And Leonard did. The two bars disappeared quickly. “Bless Geoff for thinkin’ about sending down chocolate. Endorphins are a wonderful thing for the human body!”
Jim nodded, mouth full of chocolate goodness. He swallowed. “I wonder if I should be keeping a log about all this,” he mused tiredly.
“Sure, Jim. You go right ahead and dictate your log...hmm, let’s see. ‘Admiral Pike, it’s snowin’, no, it’s snowin’ harder. No wait, Admiral! It’s snowin’ even harder’!”
Jim laughed. “You’re right, a detailed report to Chris will do.” He yawned. “We didn’t get hardly any sleep last night, Bones, so I think a nap is in order. We can hunker down under the blankets and sleep for a while. I’m damned tired.”
“Yeah, okay. I’m real tired too, but set the alarm on your comm, Jim, and we’ll also turn on one of these baby heaters to put between us. I think we’ll be warm enough like that. We should ask Scotty for a couple more for tonight...I don’t wanna‘ us to wake up like popsicles. These extreme conditions are real dangerous.”
“I’ll ask for them. I told Spock we’d be in contact again at 1600 hours. Maybe Pike’s found out something more about the Governor and what happened. The crew is figuring out what else they can beam down besides soup for us to eat.” Jim yawned again, pulling his hat down over his ears. “Let’s sleep now. At least for a couple of hours.”
Leonard nodded. He made Jim lie down first and face him, then he placed the small heater between them. He arranged the thermal blanket over them first, tucking it in carefully all around Jim so none of his torso was exposed. Lying as close to Jim as possible, he draped the wool blanket over them, pulling it all the way up to their necks. Lastly he turned on the heater. Jim’s eyes warm with tenderness at the care Bones was taking, followed his every move. As the extra warmth hit them, both men sighed happily.
Jim’s spine relaxed and his hips loosened as tiredness overtook him. “Love you, Bones.” He murmured, his eyes closing immediately, but Leonard looking up saw the slight sag of the overhead ground cover. It was getting weighed down with snow buildup. Jim, monkey climber that he was, would have to get on top of the boulders again and brush all the snow off before it got much heavier.
They slept warm and snug under the two blankets, with Bones’ arm flung across Jim’s body. In exactly two hours the comm alarm buzzed and Jim opened his eyes. The heater had done an admirable job of keeping them warm and he’d slept deeply. Bones was still asleep, pressed even closer to him, chest to chest, practically sharing the same air. Jim feasted his eyes on the sleep relaxed face. Bones was beautiful, always beautiful, but never more so than in moments like this: asleep, cheeks ruddy, closed plush lips, eyelashes soft on his cheeks. Jim sighed. His body could have used at least another hour of sleep. He didn’t want to move from under the warmth of Bones’ heavy arm over his waist, but duty called. “Bones, Bones, sweetheart,” he whispered, “time to wake up.” Jim dropped light little kisses all over Bones’ face. “We have to get in touch with the ship. Wake up now.”
Leonard groaned in protest, but obediently opened hazel eyes blurry with sleep. “I’m awake...I’m awake...also I’m nice and warm. Jim...do we have to get up?”
“Yep, I’m afraid so. Almost time to comm the ship, and,” he looked up, “we have some housekeeping to do. Our roof is sagging. Looks like the snowfall has lessened, so I better get up there and clear it off while I can.”
Leonard sighed. “Yeah, I noticed that before I dropped off.” He pulled out the flashlight heater from between them. “Best turn this off and save what’s left of the charge for tonight. It’s real good we have the other one. It sure did the job, didn’t it? Scotty and Keener should pass on the know-how to Fleet. It’s right handy for away missions in cold places.” He grinned, dimples in full display. “They could name it the Sceenser Heater.”
Jim laughed. “Wait ‘til I tell Scotty and Keenser. They’ll be tickled pink with that name. And you’re right. It would be a great addition to our survival gear. You know most of the survival gear is made for temperate or warm conditions. For this type of weather, away teams need different kinds of gear.” He looked speculatively at Bones. “As CMO, and having had this experience, a suggestion from you about adequate cold weather gear would carry a lot more weight than from me.”
“You’re right. I’ll make a full report to Admiral Boyce along with my recommendations and let’s see what happens. Fleet is notoriously slow, but Admiral Boyce is not. If he thinks somethin’ will work to save lives, he’ll push it right on through all the bureaucratic bull shit.”
“I’ll do the same with Pike and so will Spock. Now help me get up on that boulder so I can brush all the snow off our ‘roof’.”
Just An Ordinary Away Mission
“...appearance in reality can be a hidden masquerade”
Leonard squinted up at the sky...the faint sunlight was mostly obscured by the falling snow, but it was still daylight. “Let me do it, Jim. Seems you’re doin’ most everything around here and that’s not right.”
“Bones...,” Jim protested. “No, baby, that’s not true! You’ve helped me a lot! Plus you take good care of us.”
“That’s as might be, but it’s not enough in my book, and I’m bound and determined to help you more. We’re in this together.” He looked at Jim, jaw tight, hazel eyes determined.
Jim leaned in and captured Leonard’s mouth in a kiss, soft at first, but it got heated quickly as tongues probed and slid one against the other. After a surprised second, Leonard leaned even closer to Jim’s warmth, fingers carding through the sandy hair at his nape, eyes closing as he kissed him back.
“Too bad it’s so damn cold we can’t do anything more,” Jim whispered into his mouth. “But I’m so glad you’re here with me.”
“Me too, darlin’. Wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.” Reluctantly, Leonard disengaged from Jim and stood. “Now give me a boost up that rock and I’ll take care of business.”
Once up and sitting on the sentinel stone, Leonard brushed off all the piled up snow, making sure the rocks holding down the ground cover were still secure on both stones. Carefully, he stood up and looked around. The snow fall had lessened slightly during their nap, and this high up he could see quite a distance down below. A flash of color...or something caught his eye. He blinked and peered intently trying to focus through the softly falling snow. There was something moving on the horizon. He watched steadily, his eyes fixed on its slow movement across the white landscape. Animal, person, bird?
“Jim,” he called down. “Can you get up here if I pull you up? There’s room and something’s down there, not sure what it might be. Wanna’ see if you see it too.”
“I’m coming up. I’ll stretch up my arms, you pull me up.”
Leonard sat down to get some leverage, leaned over, hands ready, and Jim jumped. Jim was six feet of solid muscle, but Leonard was no slouch himself. His shoulder muscles bunched and he grunted with effort as he grabbed Jim’s wrists and hauled him up. Jim twisted around to sit, then stood sure footed as a mountain goat. “Where, Bones? What did you see?”
Leonard stood, cautiously turned Jim by the shoulders and pointed down below. “Down there. I thought I saw something move, twice actually, a flash of something.”
Jim didn’t answer, his eyes riveted where Bones was pointing. There! He saw it too. Just a spot of movement. Sometimes Jim needed reading glasses especially when his eyes were tired, but his long distance vision was excellent. He fixed his eyes on the spot and saw it was moving...moving slowly, but definitely moving, heading up towards their mountain away from the tree line. The glare off the snow made his eyes water, but he didn’t take his eyes off the moving object. “Shit Bones!I think it’s a person not an animal. Get down, I think he’s coming this way!”
Both men crouched down on the boulder as low as they could get, careful not to fall off or dislodge their ‘roof’. “Look!” Leonard pointed to another figure coming out of the woods. “Now there are two.”
“I see him. I bet our captors are out searching for us.” He watched the two figures intently. The second figure was gesturing wildly pointing up at the falling snow and back towards the wood. “He doesn’t want them to come this way to the mountain.” They watched the wild silent gestures of both men. “They won’t want to stay out much longer, it’ll be dark soon, and the snow is coming down hard again.” They watched as the two moving spots turned around and disappeared back into the woods.
They both sighed in relief. The two men obviously hadn’t seen them, but things could go south damn fast if it stopped snowing. “We have to notify the ship that they’ve started searching for us.” Jim looked at his chronometer. “Thank God for these hard snow flurries, it’ll keep them from trying to come up here, at least for a while. Come on let’s get under our shelter, it’s almost time for our checkin.” They both jumped down to the soft snow below.
“Scotty and Spock need to hurry the hell up and get us off this planet, Jim. We have no way of knowing how long this heavy snow fall is gonna’ last and once it stops we’re gonna’ be in trouble.”
“I know, and I’m sure the teams are doing the best they can, but yeah, we need to get back up to the ship, lots more resources available up there to figure out what’s going on.” He sat on the thermal blanket thinking. “I think I’ll request they send down a couple of more phasers. If those guys do head up here, I want to be sure we can defend ourselves. Their weapons were primitive, and they certainly weren’t warrior types by any stretch of the imagination, but still, I want us to be prepared. There were at least eight of them, maybe more that we didn’t see and...” he grimaced, “there’s only two of us.”
”Not just their weapons, their whole set up was primitive,” Leonard added, thinking back.
“You know,” Jim continued brow furrowed in thought. “If the Governor himself hadn’t made contact overtures to the Federation, just from looking at our captors, I would’ve said General Order One should’ve been invoked for this planet. But....he did reach out, so the Prime Directive didn’t apply to Athanar, and now here we are in this mess, hunted after being taken prisoners. No matter how primitive their weapons are, we’re outnumbered, and they could overpower us just by their sheer number. I want to avoid hand to hand combat if we can, someone could get killed by some primitive weapon, stupid ineptitude or a careless move. Much better if we can stun them from a distance. Will you be okay with doing that, Bones?” Jim knew Leonard’s deep seated reluctance to harm any living thing. ‘Do no harm’ was the religion he lived by.
“Of course I’ll be okay with it! A light stun’s not gonna’ do any permanent damage, and I agree with you. Those were the most inept captors I’ve ever had the misfortune to run across so yes, better not to engage with them. Seemed like they didn’t know what they were doin’, and that guy I overheard sayin’ they had to wait? Wait for what, for who? Makes no sense.”
“I know.” Jim gritted his teeth in frustration. He longed to be back on his ship working with his awesome team, trying to get some answers about this mission debacle. Bones looked at him knowingly.
“Yeah, okay, time for our check in,” he said, shaking aside his frustration and pulling out his comm. “Kirk to Enterprise, come in Enterprise.”
“This is Enterprise. Uhura here, Captain. How are you and Len doing?”
Leonard leaned in. “Cold, Ny sweetheart, very, very cold! Can y’all beam down a couple more of those heaters?”
“Mr. Scott anticipated your request, Doctor, and he has modified several more for you,” came Spock’s voice.
“Good, because we need them. Spock, our captors have started looking for us. Bones spotted them. They were still far away, and since it’s snowing hard again, I think they’ve quit looking for today, but the sooner we get off this planet and back to the ship the better. Bones and I have our phasers, but you better send down a couple of more, and a pair of field binoculars.”
There was a pregnant silence on the other end of the comm. “I’ll see to it, Sir. I regret that it is not yet possible to beam you up, but we have progressed in our endeavors. The mass and size of objects that can be piggy backed (I believe that is the term Mr. Scott uses), through the comm signal has increased. We have done several tests and we can now transport larger objects to you. However, from down planet to here is another matter. Our analysis of the dampening field, indicates it is a modified reverse gravitational field. Our transporter signals are repelled by the field, then bounced back to us so to speak, through a technology we have never encountered before. Mr. Scott is quite intrigued and impressed. We have begun working on a way to push through it, Captain. Mr. Scott will soon be ready to attempt transporting a small item from your location up to the ship. Also, Captain, there is as yet no word from Admiral Pike.”
“I see...well just keep working on it, Spock. All of you have done a great job trying to get us home. Let’s hope it keeps snowing hard, which will hamper their search for us.”
“Indeed. We will try our utmost to speed up our efforts. I will notify you when we will make the attempt. Now then, are you ready to receive your ‘care parcel?” Spock asked.
“Care package, Spock,” Uhura said, sotto voice, “care package.”
Jim and Leonard grinned at each other. “We’re ready.
“What are you sending us?”
“Chef Muriel has prepared hot nourishing stew for you, Sir. Also more coffee, bread, three more flashlight heaters, fresh thermal underclothing, one additional blanket, and more chocolate bars. We will begin transporting the items one by one immediately.”
“I’ll go get them this time, Jim.”
“Wait, Bones. I think it’ll take the two of us to bring everything back. Spock, would it be possible to change the beam down point to 4 meters south of us instead of six meters? It’s snowing harder now, and the snow drifts are getting higher, the less we have to walk through them the better.”
There was murmuring in the background. “Affirmative, Captain. Items will transport 4 meters south of your present location, beginning now.”
With difficulty they made their way to the beam down point and waited as each item appeared. Jim noticed the items were beaming in faster with no signal flickering. Progress for sure. They picked everything up, and with difficulty made their way back to their shelter, unpacked the items, laying them all on the blanket.
“First thing first,” Jim grinned. “Putting on clean thermal underwear. I’ll change while you hold the blanket and a heater around me. Then it’ll be your turn. It’ll be nice to have clean long johns.”
“Just a sec, Jim.” Bones ordered, handing him a sanitizing wipe. “Give yourself a good wipe down while you’re stripped. You’ll be cold, but we’ve sweated a lot, and skin irritation and a subsequent infection is still possible even in this cold.” Leonard wrapped the wool blanket loosely around Jim, holding the heater inside the blanket by his teeth, while Jim quickly wiped himself down, put on the clean thermals, and redressed. “Feels great to be clean, but phew, these sure are stinky,” Jim said, holding out his dirty undergarments.
Leonard chuckled. “Mine will be too. We’ll bury these suckers. They’ll decompose, and I’d hate to take them back to the ship.” He sighed. “Guess we’ll have to do the same with our toilet waste in the mornin’, no latrine.”
“Good idea, and, yeah, there’s nothing else we can do.” Jim agreed, holding up the blanket and heater for Bones and at the same time standing on tiptoes trying to ogle his naked Doctor, always a favorite pastime of his.
Leonard caught him at it. “I believe it’s a mite chilly for what you have in mind, darlin’,” Leonard told him, adding extra emphasis to his Southern drawl.
Jim groaned. “No fair, Bones, you know what your accent does to me.”
“Well, we could get under this here blanket and have us an amazin’ necking session, don’t even have to take off our clothes for that. Us doing anythin’ else might freeze some important manly parts,” Leonard snickered, now fully dressed again.
“Dr. McCoy, I sure like the way you think,” Jim drawled in a horrible imitation of Bones’ accent. “Get your fine ass over here.” He pulled Bones down, pulling the heavy woolen blanket over them. and wrapped an arm around McCoy, tugging him into the warmth of Jim’s body. Leonard sighed softly then relaxed into Jim’s body, tilting his head to rest on his shoulder.
Jim was soon distracted by the feel of Leonard’s mouth against his, and the loving caress of the doctor’s hands. Leonard’s lips trailed hot kisses against Jim’s jaw and onto his neck where he sucked gently against the skin. There were strong arms around his torso, a mouth pressing soft kisses on him, and Jim melted into the sensation.
“JimJimJimJim.” Leonard’s voice was husky with passion.
Jim’s breath quickened, and his hands clutched against Leonard’s back. “Bones,” he whispered, claiming the other man’s lips in a gentle kiss. He murmured soft loving endearments, his whispered words sounding loud in the silence of their shelter. Leonard slid one hand down between Jim’s legs, moaning softly at the feel of Jim’s hard length. He stroked Jim through his several layers of clothing, but not in earnest, knowing that in these freezing temperatures spilled semen was not a good thing. Jim shivered against him, and turned more into Leonard’s embrace, grasping him tighter, and peppering kisses against his cheeks and mouth, nipping at the soft skin of his neck, playing with the strands of his hair. They were both breathing heavily now.
“Dammit, Jim,” Leonard groaned, lifting his head. “You know I don’t have any will power where your concerned. You’ve got me wrapped ‘round your goddamned pinky and you know it.”
Jim said nothing. Instead, he continued caressing Leonard’s body, until the doctor pulled away. “That’s enough, darlin’. No more. Too cold for more. Not safe.”
“Bones...Bones....Love you, love you.” Jim chanted, but he backed away obediently knowing Bones was right. This deep bone freezing weather was too dangerous to expose delicate body parts.
They sat back away from each other, trying to regulate their breathing. Jim chuckled. “It’s all your fault for being so sexy, Bones McCoy!” ” Jim’s mouth curved up in a smile.
“Me! I’m not the one who always has lines of people trying to get into your pants, and well you know it, Jim Kirk!”
“Rumors, exaggerated rumors.” Jim retorted, smirking. “You have your own admirers, Dr. McCoy.”
Leonard looked at him skeptically, eyebrow raised. “If you say so....”
“Change of subject, lets eat. Muriel was kind enough to fix us stew and I’m starving for real food. Shall we?”
“Let’s shall.” Leonard licked his lips in anticipation. “Some hot stew, good bread, and hot coffee, sounds like heaven to me.”
They sat in front of each other, knees to knees while they ate. Jim, watching the snow flurries outside their shelter, shared his thoughts with Bones about what Spock and Scotty had discovered so far about the dampening field.
“Bones, does it seem as weird to you as it does to me that this dampening field technology is sophisticated enough to impress Scotty, yet our captors only have primitive weapons and those makeshift wooden huts where they kept us prisoners?”
“It sure does,” mumbled Leonard, his mouth full. “Is there more stew and bread? ‘Cause I’m real hungry and this is delicious.”
“There’s plenty, here.” Jim handed him the insulated container. “It is good. We’ll have to thank Muriel when we get back to the ship. Bet she made it just for us.”
“So what are you thinkin’ is goin’ on, then, ‘cause I think this whole thing stinks like a dead possum. Thought so ever since we beamed down to find no Governor and no welcoming committee.”
“Yeah, that sure was a surprise. According to Pike, the Federation doesn’t have much information on Athanar or its inhabitants. Preliminary talks were conducted by the Admiralty only with the Athanar Governor and his aides. Pike was one of the Admirals who spoke with them. As far as I know, there has never been any previous contact with Athanar by any ruling or governing body of any Federation world. We were the first to be invited and the first to come here. Like I mentioned, they’re a pre-warp society, and the Governor told Pike they’ve only ventured out into their own solar system which is not inhabited, just like our own solar system was during our pre warp days.
In his briefing to me and Spock, Pike told us Athanar has a central world government, peaceful, the Governor said, with local governing bodies who are elected by the populace. He said they’re interested in joining the Federation so they can buy and sell goods with other worlds, grow their economy, for protection, and they want to further their knowledge especially in medicine and technology. Pike said they showed a lot of interest in our warp technology, wanted schematics, and formulas....”
“I bet they did,” Leonard said darkly.
“Don’t worry. They didn’t get anything. Fleet is extremely careful about how much information they share and who they share it with.”
“Good thing too. And just what is the Federation supposed to get out of this deal? So far it sounds one sided to me.”
“I thought so myself, but Pike said that Admiral Archer thinks the planet may be tactically significant because they’re so close to the Cardassian border. Apparently there have been rumblings of friction and even a few skirmishes between the Cardassians and the Romulans. Pike said the C in C is uneasy about the escalating aggression between them. A war between the Cardassians and the Romulans would be bad for the entire Alpha quadrant. Athanar would be a good outpost for Fleet to monitor Cardassia Prime and Romulus. Get closer to the actual goings on on both planets. Maybe Athanar also has become aware of the escalation and felt the need for protection.”
“You think that’s what’s goin’ on here? That what happened to us has somethin’ to do with the Cardassia/Romulan aggression?” Leonard looked alarmed at the idea.
Jim sighed, his blue eyes troubled. “I don’t know for sure, I’ve been turning it over and over in my head, and I’m just thinking out loud here. There could be a lot more at stake here then just us being incarcerated for some local issue. I think this sophisticated dampening technology is not Athanar’s. My guts tell me it’s either Cardassian or Romulan. The people here, if they are a pre-warp society like they told the Admiralty, they wouldn’t be capable of this kind of technology. They’re a technologically unsophisticated society, barely able to travel their own solar system. That’s why we have to get off this planet, we need to find out exactly what’s going on, why we were captured....”
”Yeah, for some totally unknown reason. So in your next comm are you gonna’ share your theories with Spock and Scotty?”
Jim hesitated. “Bones, they’re only suspicions on my part. Spock would certainly find them illogical. You know he doesn’t believe in hunches, or gut feelings. Secretly he scoffs at them.”
Leonard snorted. “Your guts have never played you false, Jim, and Spock can’t argue with that fact after Nero. I think you should tell him what you think might be goin’ on, so maybe it’ll push them harder to get us out of here. I’d put my money on your hunches over the hobgoblin’s computer logic any day, and when you lay it out for Spock, I think he’s gonna’ agree with you. It all makes sense, and it doesn’t take a logical computer brain to see it. There we were, and there they were, all of us set for a productive meet and greet and it all went to hell in a hand basket and damn fast too. Spock cain’t argue with either the evidence or your hunch!”
”I think you’re a mite prejudiced on my behalf,” Jim smiled, “but yeah, I’ll tell him.”
Leonard poked him in the ribs. “Good!”
Just An Ordinary Mission
“The snow doesn't give a soft white damn whom it touches.”
Jim reached for the chocolate bars. “You might be prejudiced about my theories being right, Bones. Here,” he handed Leonard one. “Our dessert,” he added, shivering.
“Are you still cold, Jim?” Leonard asked, concerned. Jim had been outside the shelter out from under the blankets more times than Leonard and it was starting to tell. That was going to change. “Come sit right up next to me and we can turn on one of the heaters for a while.”
“I am cold,” Jim admitted, scooting closer. “I think the temperature has fallen more, it’s a lot colder out there.” He peered through the heavily falling snow, but could see absolutely nothing.
“Some hot coffee and an hour or so with the heater will warm you right up, darlin’.”
Leonard placed the modified flashlight between them, drew the two blankets further up and tucked them snugly around Jim. He turned on the small heater and poured out some hot coffee. “Drink it all, Jim, it’ll warm you up. Where the hell did we put that other thermal blanket they sent down? Ah, here it is.” Leonard opened it up and draped it over their shoulders like a shawl. Now leaning back against the freezing rock wall wouldn’t be as cold on their backs. He looked at Jim anxiously. “Better, Jimmy?” Hypothermia was a constant worry in these temperatures, and it was an insidious condition complicated by the fact that sometimes it was better to feel cold rather than warm. Leonard checked Jim carefully for any further shivering, the first symptom of mild hypothermia.
“Much better, thanks, Bones.” He snuggled up tightly against Bones. “Hell of a lot better,” he murmured, smiling against his mouth, breathing in the same warm shared space.
“What time is our next check in?” Leonard asked, giving Jim a soft kiss on his beautiful mouth. He felt Jim’s pulse under the blanket, it was slow, but strong and steady.
“2000 hours, ship’s time.”
Leonard drew back a little, letting Jim go, ignoring the murmured protest. “Well, you can report everything you told me to Spock, but if they’re beaming down anything more, I’m the one who’s gonna’ get it. No arguments, Jim. I don’t want you out gettin’ that cold again.”
Jim looked worriedly out from their shelter. The snow was coming down even harder, and night had fallen. There was no moon or stars visible in these white out conditions. It was pitch dark, easy to stumble and fall in the high drifts, and it would be very difficult to get back up.
“No, Bones, because depending on how much Scotty is beaming down, it might be too much for you to carry so we’ll both go. I’m not letting you go without me. The snow drifts are really high now and you might fall. It’s pitch dark so we’ll use the field flashlight. It’s not very bright, battery’s going, but it’s better than nothing.”
“Jim...,” Leonard protested.
“Check in isn’t for a couple of hours, Bones. We’ll both be toasty warm by then. I’m much warmer already.” He looked sternly at Leonard. “You’re not going out there alone.”
Leonard sighed, he knew there would be no changing Jim’s mind, Under cover of the two blankets, Leonard pulled up Jim’s long sleeve field jacket and thermal undershirt to feel his skin temperature. Growing up in Iowa Jim was well used to extremely cold temperatures and his shivering had alarmed Leonard.
“Are you feeling me up, Dr. McCoy?” Jim turned laughing blue eyes on him. “‘Cause it makes me warm just thinking about it.”
“You’re incorrigible, you know that?” Leonard grumbled, relieved to feel that Jim’s skin was warm to the touch. “Drink your hot coffee, infant.”
Jim drank, putting his head on Bones’ shoulder to think through his suspicions before voicing them to Spock. His comm beeped, startling them. “Kirk here.”
“Captain, Scott here.”
“What’s up, Scotty?”
“We’re ready to beam up a small object from your location tae’ the ship. If this works it’ll go a long way toward getting the two of yae’ off the planet. Now then, laddie, yourself or McCoy place something small exactly four meters south of yaer location. Measure it exactly, Captain. When that’s done, open yaer comm as if tae’ talk to me, hovering it as close over the object as possible, set the coordinates, and send them to me. ‘Tis then we’ll try transporting it.”
“We’re on it, Scotty,” Jim said excitedly. “Come on, Bones, grab a mug and the flashlight.”
Bones held the flashlight as they walked out to the heavily falling snow and marked the four meters off on Jim’s comm. He set the mug down on the snow and Jim crouched down as low as he could get. With his gloved hand hovering right over the mug, he sent the coordinates to Scotty. “Go, Scotty, it’s ready.”
“Aye, Sir. Stand back, attempting transport now.” The familiar silvery chime of the transporter beam along with its misty swirl alerted them that transport was in progress. The two men held their breath as they watched the mug flicker erratically, solidify again, flicker again, and finally disappear.
“We got it, Captain!” Jim and Leonard could hear whooping and cheering in the background, and Spock’s baritone, “Well done, Mr. Scott!”
Jim and Leonard high fived each other. “Great job all of you. Scotty, you’ve outdone yourselves!”
“Thank yae’ Captain. Signal ‘‘twas a bit erratic, but now we can move this along. We’ll have yae’ off that ice ball of a planet before yae’ know it!”
“I know you will, Scotty. Thank you. Now let me talk to Spock.”
“Hold on a minute, Spock. Bones and I are heading back to the shelter.” The two man fought their way through the knee high drifts and thick swirling snow, Jim clutching Bones’ hand tightly in one hand, and the comm in the other. Bones’ flashlight dimly lit their way back to the shelter. Winded, they sat and pulled the blankets around them while Bones turned on one of the heaters. “All right, Spock, we’re back,” Jim said, teeth chattering. Bones too, was shivering.
Through the comm Spock could hear Jim’s teeth chattering. “Captain, I am quite concerned about you and the doctor in those freezing temperatures.”
“We’ll be okay, Spock. Bones just turned on a heater, we’ll warm up quickly. Now listen closely, and talk to Admiral Pike immediately after we’ve finished our conversation.”
They huddled up as close as he could get to the small heater and Jim brought Spock up to speed on his discussion with Bones, what he thought was going on Athanar. After he finished, there was silence on the other end of the comm.
“I find that I am in agreement with your theory, Captain. Events on the planet are highly suspicious. The dampening field is not something the Athanarians could have accomplished on their own. The field appears to be more in the realm of advanced Romulan technology, or possibly Cardassian. However there is little factual information about Cardassia in our data bases, therefore we cannot make a definitive determination regarding their technological prowess.”
Hazel eyes met blue and Leonard raised an eyebrow. See, I told you.
“That’s what we think too. That’s why it’s imperative we get off this planet. Report to Admiral Pike and fill him in...only him, no one else. Make sure to use the highest encryption when you comm him...no use taking chances. Ask his opinion and find out if he has any further orders for us.”
“I will, Captain. I will report to you at our next communication. At that time we will beam down your meal, a hot beverage, two more phasers, and the field binoculars. Also, Captain, Mr. Scott says feel free to use more than one heater. Mr. Keenser can keep you supplied as long as we have flashlights, and Stores has many more. It is imperative that you and the doctor stay warm. We will endeavor to beam in your meals closer to your shelter at 2000 hours. From the conditions you have described, the less time you are out of your shelter the better. Mr. Scott is sanguine about his ability to bring you back to the ship soon. Until then, Captain. I hope to have a report for you from Admiral Pike. Spock out.”
Jim closed his comm and nestled against Bones’ already warm body. The man was a walking heater, he thought happily, as the extra warmth seeped into him. “Yea, Scotty!” he said softly. “Best thing I ever did was getting him off Delta Vega.”
“It sure was....crazy bastard engineer though he is, the man is brilliant.” He cuddled Jim closer. “See? Spock agreed with you. Sometimes I think there’s hope for that pointy eared computer, although most of the time he just acts too damn big for those tight black britches of his.”
Jim’s shoulders shook.
“What? What? Jim! Are you alright?” Leonard asked alarmed, then realized Jim was laughing.
“What the hell are you laughin’ at, Jim Kirk?”
“I love it when your Southern colloquialisms comes out,” Jim grinned, giving him a sweet, lingering kiss on his cold cheek.
“Learned them all from my granddaddy...and my mama.” Leonard grinned too. “Sometimes they’re the only things that’ll express exactly what I wanna’ say.” He returned Jim’s kiss, but kept it chaste. He didn’t want them to get overheated and then chilled. “You heard Spock, they’ll beam more down if we need them so let’s turn on another heater.”
Jim rummaged around. “Are there more of those candy bars left?” He asked hopefully. “I’m already hungry, and supper’s a ways off. I sure as hell don’t want to eat a nutrient bar!”
“God no! Here, there are several left.”
“You have one too, Bones.”
”Yeah, think I will. We are burning lots of calories in this cold and this chocolate tastes amazin’. Listen, the wind’s picking up again.” Leonard looked anxiously up at their cover. They could hear the slap, slap, slap of the ground cover as the wind buffeted the hanging ends on the sides of the stones. “You think it’ll hold?”
“I think so...but I’ll climb up and check, brush more snow off of it.”
“No, Jim. I’ll do it, and right now, before the wind gets stronger. You boost me up, then get right back under these covers, you hear me? You’ve been out and up there more than me. So you stay put.” He looked out at the swirling snow. “I wish there was some way to block this front part.”
Jim thought for a minute. “We have the other ground cover under us, Bones. What if we anchor it like the one up top, except this time instead of side to side, we let it hang down the front. We could weigh it with more rocks then anchor it down here. It’s wide enough to lay across the stones, and for sure it’s long enough. If it works it would give us some protection from this icy wind.”
“Okay, let’s try it. First, we need to find more rocks. I’ll do that, Jim. You grab the ground cover. We’ll ask for another one from the ship, they’ll be able to fold it pretty small to beam it down.”
Leonard went just outside their shelter and dug under the snow, feeling around until he found several good sized rocks. Jim brought the second ground cover to hand up to him.
“Okay, boost me up. I’ll clean off our roof first, then you hand me the ground cover and the rocks. Shine the flashlight so I can see better.”
Once up on the sentinel stone, Leonard brushed off all the snow that had piled up again in drifts and saw that the rocks were doing a good job of keeping the ground cover securely held down. Jim handed up the second ground cover and with some difficulty because of the gusts of icy wind, he spread it out over the first one letting all its length hang down the front to the ground. Jim holding the flashlight, gave him a thumbs up, it would do. He looked worriedly up at Bones, the wind was getting stronger.
“Alright, Jim,” Leonard called down. “Start handing me the rocks one at a time.”
Jim saw Bones sway, almost falling as a gust of freezing wind buffeted him.
“Bones!” Jim yelled. “Sit down!”
Leonard heard, nodded, and carefully crouched down. Jim was relieved to see him sit down on the stone. The wind gusts were strong enough now to blow him off the sentinel.
The snow was coming down so hard Jim could barely see Bones above him even with the flashlight. One by one Jim handed him several good size stones and Bones arranged them evenly, anchoring both ground covers more securely until he was satisfied. “That’s enough, Jim, it’ll hold up here, now let’s see about the bottom.” He jumped down into the deep soft snow, and sank to his knees. Jim helped him out and pulled them quickly into the shelter.
The hanging ground cover flapped violently in the strong wind, but they soon had it weighed down by placing three large stones along its edge. Finished, the two men sat back to catch their breath and look at their handiwork. The front of their shelter was almost completely covered and the howling, icy wind blocked. It was also darker inside their shelter since they could no longer see the brilliantly white snow. Still, it was better than feeling the bitterly cold freezing wind.
“Come on, Bones, lets warm up.” Jim said. They were both shivering, their teeth chattering. He turned on two of the heaters as they got under the blankets. They huddled together until the warmth of the heaters and the blankets seeped into their cold bodies.
Jim looked at his chronometer. It had taken much longer than he’d anticipated for them to get the shelter fixed up. Every thing was harder and took longer in these conditions. “Ship will be checking in soon. Wonder what we’re getting for dinner,” Jim mused. “Bet Muriel fixed us something special. She’s an amazing chef...we’re lucky she wanted to serve on the Enterprise”
“Jim, there were lines of people wantin’ to serve under you on the Enterprise. Muriel was only one of several chefs who applied. She was just lucky enough to get the job. I’m not the only one willin’ to follow you all over the quadrant. Word gets around Fleet pretty damn fast who the best Captain in the Fleet is.”
“Bones...,” Jim protested, his cheeks getting warm.
“It’s nothin’ but the truth, darlin’, ask Spock if you don’t believe me.”
Jim cleared his throat, uncomfortable with Bones’ praise for what he perceived was just doing his job. “Hey, did you hear that Chekov finally asked Ensign Ebonee Dubois to movie night?” He asked, desperate to change the subject.
Leonard wiggled around. His butt was getting cold without the ground cover under them. He looked at Jim, raising a knowing eyebrow at his abrupt change of topic. “You mean our baby Ensign finally got the nerve to ask her out?” His dimples flashed. “And she’s an older woman too, 22 if she’s a day!”
Jim chuckled. “Well, she said yes. You gotta admit, our Pasha is cute as can be. Big blue eyes, those reddish brown curls bouncing when he walks, that innocent baby face. There are lots of females, males, and beings of indeterminate gender who find him adorable.”
“Well... he is sort of cute,” Bones admitted. “And he worships the ground you walk on, and, incomprehensible as it may be, he worships Spock too.” He shook his head in feigned despair.
“It’s because Spock has sort of taken him under his wing,” Jim agreed, “which just goes to prove just how adorable our Pasha is if our resident Vulcan is willing to do that. Buuut...,” He wiggled his eyebrows.
“Spock and me? We are but dust under Pavel’s feet next to Scotty. Now that, Bones? That right there is pure rampant hero worship.”
“No!” Bones’ eyes went wide with surprise.
“Absolutely! Pavel told me that Scotty is everything he aspires to be. Brilliant, kind, generous, always willing to help someone, and funny as hell!”
“Well I’ll be damned! That’s kinda sweet ain’t it, and I gotta’ agree with the kid, Scotty is all those things. He’s a damn fine man.”
Jim looked at him, blue eyes twinkling. “Should I be jealous, Bones McCoy?”
Whatever Leonard was going to say, was interrupted by the comm beeping. “Hold that thought, Bonsey.” Jim held up a hand. “Kirk here.”
“Captain, are you ready for your dinner? If so we’re ready to transport it down.”
“More than ready, Spock. We’re hungry, and we’ve worked hard to make our shelter warmer. It’s turned into a roaring blizzard here and it’s much colder. Your heaters have saved us, Scotty.”
“Thank yae’, Captain,” came Scotty’s voice. “‘Tis verrry glad we are they’ve helped you. Now then, first we’re going tae’ beam down your food, and that extra ground cover you asked for. Then ‘twill be the two phasers, the binoculars, and three more heaters. Items are a wee bit larger, both in weight and mass. ‘Tis a good test, that. We placed the heaters, binoculars and phasers in an insulated pouch for protection against the freezing conditions. Beam in point is only three meter south from yae’, just outside yaer shelter area, an improvement there too.”
“Scotty, that’s amazing progress and precision! You’re a wonder.!”
“Well now, Captain, it’s been a team effort, all hands on deck, so tae’ speak. Mr. Chekov has helped meself out tremendously with the equations and sims for mass, weight and accuracy, and Keenser has been the one to modify the flashlights tae’ make yaer heaters, and yae’ already know about Uhura and Mr. Spock.”
“You’re all going to get commendations, Scotty. Everyone single one of you!”
“Thank yae’, Sir. Ready now? And Mr. Spock has a report for yae’.”
“Just a minute, Scotty.”
“Jim, I’ll get our things, it’ll be fine. Coordinates are right outside. You go on and talk to Spock.”
“Okay, but don’t go farther than three meters, Bones, and take the flashlight with you. I want you to keep my comm light in your line of sight at all times. Walk straight there, and straight back. It’s too easy to get disoriented in a blizzard.” Jim picked up the rocks holding down the ground cover to pull it back. “I’ll sit right here to talk to Spock so you can see my comm light and hear my voice. Okay, Scotty, we’re ready for beam down.”
Leonard nodded, going out, flashlight in hand. Jim’s anxious eyes followed his every move. He turned his body so the comm light would be visible to Bones. “Go ahead, Spock.”
“Captain, I spoke with Admiral Pike. Despite numerous attempts he has been unable to contact the Governor...ominous that. He said he concurs with your preliminary analysis of the situation on Athanar. His orders were to get you back on the ship as quickly as possible. Once we can break through the dampening field, he ordered us to beam down again with a large security force and assess the status of the Governor and his aides, rescue them if the situation warrants it, and determine who is behind all this. The Admiral also shared his own speculations, Captain. He thinks that after the Governor issued his invitation, the situation on Athanar changed suddenly and it was too late for him to rescind it. Enterprise was already within their solar system. Admiral Pike also speculated that you were held until the Athanarians could determine what to do about your presence and their situation. He does not believe you would have been harmed, that perhaps you were being sequestered for your own protection if Cardassians or Romulans are on Athanar. However, the Admiral stressed that this is only speculation on his part.” Spock paused. “I also told the Admiral that we did not detect any other ships on our way to Athanar, however if there was a Romulan ship they could have been cloaked.”
“That all makes sense, Spock. Bones and I realized right away they didn’t want to hurt us, and the men seemed to be waiting for someone to tell them what to do next.” Jim said, keeping a close eye on Bones’ dim flash light. “I wonder if the Cardassians have somehow acquired the cloaking technology.”
”Unknown at this time, Sir.”
Scotty’s voice came over the comm. “Transport is complete, Sir. Yae’ and the doctor enjoy yaer dinner.”
“Thanks, Scotty.” Jim sighed in relief, Bones was walking back now. He stood to relieve Bones of some of the things in his arms, then lowered the ground cover curtain shutting out the howling wind, and putting the stone back.
“Captain, Mr. Scott, Mr. Chekov and I feel we have sufficiently solved the mass and weight problem enough that tomorrow morning we’ll try to beam something larger to you, then attempt to transport it back to the ship. We did not want to attempt it in the dark or in your present blizzard conditions. If that works I think we’ll be ready to get you back to the ship soon after.”
“Excellent news, Mr. Spock! And at least the blizzard keeps us well hidden. No one will be searching for us in these conditions.”
“It is indeed something to be grateful for. Good night to you and the doctor, Captain.”
“Good night, Spock. Kirk out.”
By the time Jim finished talking with Spock, Leonard had already spread out the ground cover and replaced the thermal and wool blankets over it. He turned on two of the heaters and unpacked their meal. It smelled delicious.
He and Jim sat under the blankets to eat. Their eyes met. “Meatloaf,” they said in unison. Muriel made an amazing meatloaf. She had sent two large pieces each, covered in a creamy red sauce. Buttery whipped mashed potatoes came with the meatloaf, along with hot rolls and butter, and for dessert, two big wedges of apple pie. Instead of coffee there was hot sweet tea.
Jim’s smile to Bones was wide with delight as they dug into the delicious hot food.
Just An Ordinary Mission
“The wolves knew when it was time to stop looking for what they'd lost,
to focus instead on what was yet to come.”
“Woman’s a saint,” Leonard said fervently. The wind howled, the snow fall fierce, but inside their snug little shelter, the two men happily ate their hot, delicious dinner.
Afterward they settled in to sleep. Leonard turned on a heater to put between them, Jim set his comm alarm for three hours to turn on another heater, and they slept.
Leonard woke up first, blinking blearily. It wasn’t quite as dark as it had been, so that must mean it was morning. Last night they had taken turns waking up every three hours to change the heaters. It had worked. Under the blankets, the heater between them, Leonard spooning Jim, they’d stayed warm, but they were about out of heaters. They had used three of them, so if they were going to stay another day, they’d need more.
Leonard saw that Jim was still sound asleep. No reason to wake him. Check in with the ship wasn’t until 0800 this morning. His full bladder required relief. He would have to move Jim off him to step out of the shelter and he did so as carefully and quietly as possible. He grabbed a couple of antiseptic wipes for his face and hands, and moved the ground cover flap to slip through.
The snow storm had apparently stopped during the night. It was still snowing, but lightly now, and there was no wind. Leonard moved to the side of the sentinel stone and relieved himself, carefully covered the evidence with loose snow, then wiped his face and hands thoroughly. It was still bitterly cold. Using the sanitizing wipes made him feel even colder and he shivered.
They’d have to eat ration bars this morning, because sadly there was no more meatloaf. He felt sure, however that the crew would send down more coffee at check in. He was going to suggest that he and Jim put all the mugs and containers in one of the bags and return them to the ship. The shelter was far too small for any extra stuff, and if they were beamed back soon, Leonard hated to leave their stuff strewn about here messing up this pristine ecology. He wondered where all the animals on this planet were? So far he and Jim hadn’t seen any. Were there even any animals up here in this barren frozen land, or were they hibernating?
“Bones...,” Jim sleep roughened voice startled him. When he’d woken to find Bones gone, Jim’s heart had stuttered in his chest. He’d dashed out of the shelter, and to his relief there he was. “Why are you standing out here? It’s too damned cold!”
“Had to take care of bodily necessities, didn’t wanna’ wake you. Jim, I’ve been thinkin’ and wonderin’, where are the animals? We haven’t seen any on this planet yet, not even birds or insects.”
Jim came to stand by him. “I’ve kind of wondered about that too, but we have no way of knowing the wildlife patterns here, maybe they’ve all hibernated. If so, I’m happy about that, I don’t want to run into any wild animals up here. Damn it’s cold...move over, Bones, I have to use these state of the art facilities too.”
“Let me get you some antiseptic wipes.”
“You go on, get in the shelter. I’ll come in as soon as I’m finished and we’ll eat one of our delicious ration bars.”
Leonard went back into the shelter, gathered up the mugs and food containers and put them in one of the transport bags. He also got out two nutrient bars, a couple of sanitizing wipes for Jim, then looked carefully around to make sure all their unused stuff was packed up to send back to the ship.
“Snow fall is a lot lighter this morning,” Jim said, wiping his face and hands. “I wonder if those men will resume their search for us. If we’re staying a while longer, I’m better go up on the stones to check the perimeter for searchers.” He glanced up at their ‘roof’ ground covers. “Snow’s piled up again. I’ll clear it while I’m up there.”
Leonard nodded and handed him a ration bar. “I’m sure we’ll get more coffee this morning, and...I guess we’re gonna’ need more heaters.”
Jim sat, huffing a frustrated breath. “Maybe not, maybe we’ll be back on board before tonight.”
“Hope so, Jimmy, this is gettin’ old real fast.”
The ate their despised ration bars, swallowing them with water since there was no coffee. They sat with the blankets pulled up around them trying not to grimace at the taste of the nutrient bars.
Leonard explained about packing up the mugs and dishes to beam back on the ship and Jim hid a fond smile. Bones was a doctor through and through. He liked cleanliness and order, and his Med Bay reflected that. It was kept meticulously pristine and everything had a designated place. Leonard had once explained to Jim that in an emergency, all the Med Bay staff knew exactly where everything was and they never wasted precious minutes looking for equipment or meds.
Bones’ CMO’s quarters were also a model of order and neatness, although Bones spent very little time there. He was mostly with Jim in the Captain’s quarters and slept there unless there was a critical patient in the Med Bay. In their shared quarters everything had a place, their clothes hung or folded in drawers, books, holos, and tech placed neatly on shelves. Their food and dishes were stored away in the cabinets, or put in the recycler. Bones did not tolerate dirty dishes left overnight on the counter
Jim’s Captain’s quarters were large and comfortable, but the bedroom was not meant for two big men who took up a lot of space. The bed was only a double bed, but they preferred it that way, sleeping cuddled close together. The last person to leave their quarters tided up and made the bed if they were on different shifts. The only mess they made was sometimes when they came in exhausted after a difficult shift on the bridge or in the Med Bay, they dropped their clothes on the floor, too tired to hang them up or put them in the laundry.
So now, Jim, who had once been messy at the Academy, had, thanks to Bones, made a complete turnaround, and was messy no longer.
“I’m glad you picked everything up, Bones. Thank you. We’ll try to leave this place like we found it.”
His comm beeped. “Kirk here.”
“Captain, good morning.”
“Good morning, Spock. How’s it going up there?”
“We worked through the night, and have made great progress. We are hopeful that by late afternoon today we’ll be able to transport you and Dr. McCoy back to the ship. The teams have done exemplary work.”
“That’s fantastic, Spock! Have to admit, this weather is getting to both of us, and now that the snow has diminished I’m concerned that the search for us will resume today.”
“Yes, Sir. This news concerns me as well. We will endeavor to speed up our efforts. Now then, this morning we are sending you coffee, cinnamon rolls, brownies, fresh underclothes, and more heaters.”
“That sounds great!” Jim’s love for cinnamon rolls was common knowledge on the ship. “Please thank Muriel for keeping us well fed. It’s helped us a lot. Spock, Bones and I want to send some things back to the ship. We’d like to leave this area as clean and pristine as we found it. We’re burying all our bodily wastes, because considering what’s happened, I don’t know how this First Contact Mission is going to end up...what the Admiralty will decide, or even if we’re ever coming back to complete the mission,” he added somberly.
“We will transport down our items to you first, then you can send what you wish to return to us, Sir. It will be another good test of the transporter system.”
“We’re ready, Spock,” Jim said, moving outside the shelter.
Their items were beamed down, then Jim placed the two utility bags filled with their mugs, plates and utensils on the snow. He sent Scotty the exact coordinates and waited impatiently until Scotty jubilantly reported they’d received both bags in good shape.
“We’ll speak again at lunch time, Captain. We hope it will be with more good news.”
“We’ll be waiting, Scotty. Kirk out.”
“Looks like we wait some more,” Jim said. “But before we eat, I’d like to check the perimeter now that we have the field binoculars. Boost me up, Bones.”
Once up on the sentinel stone, Jim brushed off most of the piled up snow, but not all of it just in case anyone below would look up and spot the ground covers. He considered removing the front drop down ground cover, but it was still too cold to do without it. He stood carefully and brought the field glasses up to his eyes. They were state of the art, the latest in Fleet technology. They gave him long and short distance measurements, night vision properties, and even the smallest objects from a great distance were easily visible. Jim did a 360 degree turn and then looked up to the peak. He gasped.
There on the peak of the mountain was a large animal. It looked much like a Terran wolf, but with a massively large head and much longer legs. His thick fur was as white as the snow where he stood, and if Jim hadn’t been using the binoculars he would never have seen the animal. Through the binoculars, the wolf like creature seemed to be looking straight at him with piercing, predatory intensity in his yellow eyes. Jim stood still as a statue, holding his breath as he watched. The creature stood staring for a few more minutes, shook himself and loped off, his powerful haunch muscles rippling as he ran. Jim drew in a sharp breath of the icy air, patted his phaser at his belt, and jumped down.
He entered the shelter and saw that Bones was unpacking their food and coffee. He noticed Jim’s agitation immediately. “Jim what’s wrong? You look spooked. Did you see the searchers again?”
“No...no searchers, Bones. But remember we wondered where all the animals were on this planet?”
“Well, I just saw one. A huge wolflike creature up on the peak, white as this snow, predatory yellow eyes. He was enormous, looked as tall as my chest, Bones.”
“Jesus...did he see you? Will he come down do you think?”
“Through the binoculars it seemed he was looking right at me, but he was far away, so who knows. All I know is a light phaser stun wouldn’t stop that animal, and I think he was hunting. We’re going to have to be hyper vigilant, Bones. Those kind of predators hunt silently, and he’s as white as the snow, he’ll be hard to see. Wolves sneak up on their prey. If the prey runs, they give chase, catch them, and break their neck with one snap of their jaws. We have wolves in Iowa, they come from Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota to hunt. They don’t usually attack humans; cattle, deer, sheep, chickens, yes, but it’s been known to happen if they’re hungry enough.” He looked worriedly at Bones. “Another thing, wolves hunt in packs, and the leader, the Alpha Wolf, directs the hunt. The pack follows his lead to get their prey.”
Bones looked at him, eyes wide. “Jim.... you think there’s more of them and they’ll do the same thing?”
Jim drew his phaser and set it to heavy stun. “Yes, and I think he saw me and where’s there’s one wolf there’s more. And in these conditions they’re hungry, looking for food. So no more going out alone to do anything,” he ordered. “Get your phaser out and the extra one too, put both of them on heavy stun. One of us stands guard, while the other does whatever. Hopefully we buried our bodily wastes deep enough, we don’t want to attract any other type of animal.”
“Not sure we did, Jim,” Leonard said worriedly. “Maybe we should go pile more snow over it all.”
Jim thought for a minute. “Let’s eat first, clean up and change our underwear....guess we better not bury them after all, too smelly. We’ll put everything in one of the bags, send it back up to the ship.”
Leonard nodded, but he still looked worried. That’s all they needed, wild predatory animals attacking them.
They sat down to eat and drink their coffee in worried silence. Jim looked at the ground cover flap. It was held down by a few large stones. As it was, it wouldn’t afford any protection at all from a big animal like that wolf, much less a pack, but anchoring it down, pulling it taut with a line of heavier stones might delay things momentarily if they were taken unaware. More heavy rocks at top would also help. They’d do that right away. He thought of how he and Bones had napped and slept all night oblivious to any danger and he shivered. Well, no more of that. If they were stuck here another day and night, they’d have to take turns being on guard. Hyper vigilant in fact.
They ate their cinnamon rolls and drank the hot coffee and again they took turns holding the blanket and heater to change underclothes. They bundled all their dirty underwear up tightly and stuffed it into one of the transport bags.
“All right, Bones, let’s see if we can re-enforce this flap some. We’ll put more stones on top and here along the edge....” he saw Bones’ dubious face. “I know it won’t stop any large predators, but I’m thinking it might delay or confuse them enough for us to get off some shots. On Earth wolves don’t hunt at night, but who knows about these animals.”
They went out and started digging for larger rocks. Bones hefted Jim up on the sentinel and then handed up the larger stones. Jim piled those stones on top of the others making it more difficult to move the ground covers. He jumped down, and they made a pile of the larger stones to use tonight on the flap...if they were still here. Far away, they heard a howl, and then an answering one. The two men looked wide eyed at each other.
“They’re signaling to each other, Bones.” He flipped open his comm. “Kirk to Enterprise, come in Enterprise.”
“This is Enterprise. Is something wrong, Captain? You’re early for check in.”
“Lieutenant, I need to speak with Mr. Scott.”
“He’s right here, Sir.”
“Scotty...there’s a new threat.” Jim went on to tell him about the enormous wolves. “There’s no place for us to hide or hole up if they decide to attack and they attack in packs. Bones and I have two phasers each, but there’s no place to hold them off. It’s so damn cold here, and I know they’re hungry.”
“Aye, Sir. We’re almost ready. Mr. Spock, and Chekov have figured out the mass and weight issue through the computer/communicator/transporter window. We hope tae have everything ready by early afternoon, Captain.”
“You’ll need to speed things up, Scotty. The wolves are calling to each other. I think the Alpha is rounding up his pack. I hope I’m wrong, but I don’t think I am.”
There was silence on the other side of the comm. “Aye, laddie. We’ll have yae home as soon as possible. Yae and McCoy stay vigilant, and we’ll hurry things up here. Would yae be wanting more phasers?”
“You know, Scotty, instead of phasers I’m thinking two phaser rifles might be better. We could pick them off one by one from a long distance away,” Jim said watching Bones’ face becoming more and more alarmed. “Yes, the more I think about it the better I like that idea.”
There was a loud howl in the distance. “Did you hear that, Scotty?”
“Aye, lad, sounds fierce it does. Dinnae’ worry, we’ll get yae both home.”
There was muttering in the background. “Captain, Mr. Hendorff has procured the two phaser rifles...we’re sending them down now. Same beam in point, Sir.”
The swirling transporter signal produced the two phaser rifles and Jim leapt on them. “Yes!” He handed one of the rifles to Bones. “You up to date on all your weapons certifications right, Bones?”
Leonard snorted. “‘Course I am! Do you think Spock would let me get away with not being up to date on all my weapons? And don’t forget I’m from Georgia, Jim. I learned how to shoot at my granddaddy’s knee. The man was a dead shot, taught me all he knew, so don’t you worry ‘bout me, Captain.”
“Good man!” Jim brought his binoculars up and trained them at the peak.
“What do you see?” Leonard asked in a hushed voice.
“There another one, Bones. It might be his mate, or the Alpha is calling his pack together and they’re starting to mass. Damn, they’re all huge!” Jim looked around desperately, but there was no place that might offer them any defensive edge. The two sentinel backed up to the rock face that was absolutely sheer, with no way to climb it.
Jim looked at the sentinel rock and assessed their chances. It was that or nothing. “Alright, Bones. Let’s get the other phasers, and the blankets. We’re going to climb up on top of the sentinels. Even with the size of those wolves I don’t think they can reach that high, and wolves can’t climb. It’ll make it easier for us to shoot them from up there. Hurry, Bones! Let’s get our stuff. I don’t think we have much time.”
They ran into the shelter. Leonard’s strapped on his Med Bag, grabbed the chocolate bars, and the blankets and stuffed them in their packs. They clipped on their phasers and communicators and ran out of the shelter.
“Go on, you go up first, Bones, I’ll hand you our stuff.” Jim boosted him up, and Leonard bent down to grab all their stuff, first the phaser rifles and phasers, then the field packs. Leonard hurriedly threw off some of the rocks to make more room and set everything down. He sat on the edge of the sentinel to haul Jim up.
“Hurry, Jim!” He leaned over and grabbed Jim’s wrists, grunting with the effort of lifting the 175 pounds of solid muscles. Panting, Jim twisted to sit beside Bones. He raised the binoculars and saw that there were more wolves. He counted at least 6.
“Shit, Bones. The Alpha is calling them together for sure! Forget the stun setting on the phaser rifle, put it on kill. We’re not going to fool around. Those animals are enormous and from the sound of things, they’re in hunting mode and I have no plans for us to become dinner for them.”
There was another piercing howl from the Alpha and immediately came the answering chorus from all the pack under his command. Under other circumstances, the howling cacophony would have struck awe in them, but right now it scared the shit out of both men.
Jim stood, pulled Bones up to stand with him, and opened his comm. “Uhura! They’re coming! Tell Scotty to hurry! These are our coordinates! Bones is standing back to back with me! I’ll leave my comm open and so will Bones.” Leonard flipped opened the comm clipped it to his belt. They quickly strapped on their field packs and raised their phaser rifles to their shoulders. They were ready!
Just An Ordinary Mission
“Home again, home again, jiggety jig.”
Jim looked through his binoculars, there were eight in the pack now and the wolves were now on the run, the Alpha leading them. They were running incredibly fast, sliding and slipping down from the mountain peak, the entire pack following their Alpha. The eight wolves were flashes of white fur against white snow, teeth bared, tails and hackles plumed high in rage!
“Here they come!” Jim yelled.” Take the shot as soon as you can, Bones!” They both brought the phaser rifles up to their shoulders.
The two men pressed themselves tightly against each other back to back on the too small surface of the sentinel stone. The ground covers were slippery with snow and ice, but pressed tightly against each other provided them with stability and balance. They started shooting! The phaser rifles were capable of rapid fire, self charging, and when in kill mode they fired lethal red phaser bolts. The wolf pack was coming at them incredibly fast! Jim and Leonard began picking off the huge animals one by one. One went down, then the second and third! The fourth wolf was hit and flipped over from the force of the bolt! The Alpha wolf began to zig zag as he ran, already aware of the lethal phaser fire.
“Four more, Bones!” Jim yelled. “Try for the Alpha, maybe it’ll stop them!” Closer, closer, they came, huge beasts, terrifyingly beautiful in their own wild, feral way. Now they were close enough that Jim could see the color of their eyes. Fierce eyes, bright yellow, rimmed in red! As they yipped, slobbered, and howled in fury, he could see their huge canines. He got another one! Five! Three more! The wolves seemed to learn as they ran towards them, now they were weaving back and forth, eluding the phaser bolts.
“Scotty,” Jim yelled, “any time now!”
“Come on, you sons of bitches!” Leonard cursed, getting off another shot. “Hooya!” He yelled. “Right between the eyes!”
“Great shot, Bones!” Jim yelled. “Two more to go!”
The wolves were very close now, so close Jim could see the individual hairs of their thick plush fur, the red rings around their yellow eyes! Jim pulled out his phaser, a better weapon now for close range shooting. The huge animals were near enough that the two men could hear their panting breaths, see their enormous teeth, their open salivating mouths, foaming and drooling with rage as they reached the sentinel stones, going up on their hind legs, scrabbling, scratching frantically at the top of the stone, trying to climb up to reach their prey. The enraged wolves were jumping high enough that they could almost reach the men’s boots.
“Bones! Use your Phaser now!” Jim yelled.
“Captain!” Jim could hear Scotty’s frantic voice over the howls of the last two wolves raging at the bottom of the sentinel stones. “Energizing now! Hold on to each other!”
Jim turned, grabbed Bones around the waist and held him in a death grip. The Alpha Wolf and his mate were jumping up against the stone trying to find purchase on the slick, slippery stone face, claws screeching against the stone, howling in fury at the sudden disappearance of their prey!
Jim had never been so happy to hear the silvery chime of the transporter. The two men materialized in the transporter pad a foot off the floor, Jim’s arms still tight around Bones. They fell with a loud thump on the metal floor amidst cheers from the crew in the transporter room.
“Oof! That hurt! Damnit Jim! Get off me! You weigh a ton,” Leonard huffed, trying to push the 175 pounds of Jim off him. Both men scrambled to their feet, Jim still keeping his death grip on Bones and Leonard checking to make sure all his vital parts were where they were supposed to be, muttering all the time about the unreliability of transporters.
Jim looked around! They were home! “Scotty my man!” Jim finally let go of Bones and threw himself at Scotty to give him a tight hug! “You are a miracle worker! It was close, man, those last two wolves weren’t giving up!”
Scotty patted him affectionately. “Tis glad I am to see yae’ both, Captain! Must admit, we were right worried, so we were.”
“Scotty, the next ten drinks are on me,” Leonard shook his hand gratefully. “Keenser too.”
“The wee man and I will hold yae’ tae’ that, McCoy, don’t think we won’t,” Scotty grinned.
“Captain, we are all gratified to have you and the doctor back on board.” Spock’s face was as impassive as usual, but his dark eyes gleamed with relief and contentment.
“Thanks, Spock.” Jim patted him on the shoulder and looked at the assembled crew. “Our thanks to all of you. I have an amazing crew, you’re the best in the Fleet. Because of you, Bones and I are home, and we’re fine.” Pride and affection shone in his blue eyes. “And we both need a shower bad!”
“Captain, Leonard, welcome home.” Geoffrey’s genial face peeked into the transporter room, Christine right behind him, a big grin on her face. “One minute before your shower.” He had a medical scanner in his hand. “Just a quick check to be sure neither of you have picked up anything down planet, especially a respiratory infection in that freezing weather, then you may go. We’ll do a thorough check, including your blood tests later after your briefing.”
Leonard nodded, SOP, for anyone coming back to the ship from an away mission. “Of course, Geoff, go right ahead.”
Jim stood still while Christine scanned him head to toe and Geoffrey did the same for Leonard. He looked at the results of both scanners. “All good, somewhat dehydrated, but that’s all. To be expected under the circumstances. We don’t get as thirsty in cold weather.” He nodded at both men. “Drink some water or juice and I’ll see you after the briefing.”
“Thanks, Geoff, we’ll be there,” Leonard assured him.
“Mr. Spock, please see that everyone not in the command crew gets a rest period. I’ll have a briefing with the command crew in one hour...we’ll all get a rest period after that. Maybe we can get to the bottom of this fiasco of a First Contact Mission. But first, Bones and I need a shower, a change of clothes, and something to eat and drink. Spock, please notify Admiral Pike that we’re back on board and that I’ll have a report for him after my briefing here. Come on, Bones. Shower then food!”
Jim pulled Bones into the lift. “Deck 5,” he said. The doors closed and he grabbed Bones and pulled him hard into his arms, kissing him fiercely. He shifted restlessly against Leonard’s body pressing harder against him.
“Jim...muh.” The rest of Leonard’s words were lost, because that’s when Jim crushed his mouth over his again, tongue seeking his, probing over the ridge of his teeth, pushing inside desperately like a starving man. One hand fisted in McCoy’s hair, tangling, practically yanking it to bring his head closer. Jim moaned in relief.
“Bones, Bones, Bones,” Jim choked out wetly, “Bones.” Voice hoarse. He was shivering like a leaf, his eyes desperate, burning blue.
“Here. I’m here, sweetheart, we’re here, safe and sound.” Leonard hugged Jim hard, knowing how badly he needed to be held.
Jim shuddered in his arms, then pressed his forehead to Bones. He placed his hands on either side of Bones’ neck, stroking his thumb along Bones’ jaw. “You’re safe! No weird warrior Athanarians keeping you from me, no dangerous blizzards and freezing temperatures, no falling down frozen hills, no hungry wolves trying to eat you.” He drew in a deep breath, then laughed a touch hysterically. “And to think I took you with me so we could have some relaxed, fun times together on a peaceful planet, just you and me alone.”
“Deck 5,” the monotone lift computer announced as the doors opened.
Jim pulled himself together, yanking down his jacket. “Come on. A real water shower, hot as we can stand it, and clean clothes, maybe a quick sandwich.” He grabbed Bones’ hand and walked them rapidly to their quarters. He didn’t give a damn if anyone saw them holding hands. They had a strict rule about no PDAs, but Jim had had enough. They were going to shower, then they were going to have sex, make hot passionate love. It had been three days, no make that four, because there hadn’t been time before leaving the ship, and that was just unacceptable. They had never gone that long without sex, not ever.
If Jim were a romantic guy, which he most definitely wasn’t, no matter how much Bones laughingly teased and insisted he was, he would say that sex between them was always great because they were deeply, passionately in love. Jim knew this as an absolute truth. But their love wasn’t some sort of a written in the stars, pre-destined kind of love, a concept Jim found highly dubious and even ridiculous. Rather, it was the kind of love where they fit together perfectly. That, their fitting together thing, had been there from the beginning, from their first meeting, sharing that first drink on the shuttle. Jim soon found that having all of Bones’ focused affection and attention was addictive, and gradually he became aware that he couldn’t do without that attention, that affection. He also realized that being around Bones made him a better person, a better friend, and later on, a better Captain. So before he’d even realized it, Jim found himself deeply in love with Bones, and soon after, came the giddy realization that Bones reciprocated his love.
So, yep, after a hot shower, there would be sex...maybe even in the shower, a fine place to indulge in the always simmering passion between them. Jim was up for it and he knew Bones would be too, he always was. Shit, Jim thought as they approached the Captain’s quarters, the last three days had proven once more that they lived on the knife edge of danger and there might never be any more tomorrows for them.
The door closed behind them, and the two men stripped as they walked to their bedroom, happily divesting themselves of the thermal underwear, field uniform and boots. Leonard pulled out fresh uniforms and Jim grabbed clean briefs and t-shirts. He turned the shower on steam mode, and they both got in. There were moans of sheer bliss from both men as the hot water hit them.
“Sex in bed or sex in the shower?” Jim asked, putting strong arms around Bones, his lips lapping at the water droplets on Bones’ freckled shoulders.
“In bed...under the covers, nice and cozy. Turn around, sweetheart let me wash you. We only have an hour.”
“Yeah, go ahead, then I’ll wash you.” He stood head bowed as Bones spread shower gel on his hands and lovingly, quickly, thoroughly, ran them all over Jim’s body and hair. Then Jim did the same for Leonard, pulling his head back to rinse his hair, nibbling at his ear as he did so. Both men were already highly aroused, so they stepped out quickly, dried each other perfunctorily, heading quickly toward the bed.
They lay together, perfectly aligned, gloriously naked, flesh on flesh, their breaths already coming fast. Hunger filled Jim, and relief at finally being able to touch every inch of Bones’ beautiful body. He moved his hands feeling the silky clean skin, slowly running warm hands up and down Bones’ back, loving the way his muscles shifted beneath his touch. Bones felt so good and it had been such a long four days without the release of being in each other’s arms. Jim treasured this moment, holding Bones tightly, showing him how much he was needed, how much he was loved. He felt heat under his skin as he and Leonard moved together, all his nerve endings tingling at the feel of his doctor underneath him. Jim grabbed his hair, tugging gently to get a deep, hungry kiss that left both of them breathless when they drew apart.
Jim wasted no time. He snaked his arm under Bones’ back as he thrust down. They were already sweating, and their pre-cum and sweat kept the friction between them delicious and slightly rough.
Mirroring Jim, Leonard gripped Jim’s back painfully tight, matching him thrust for thrust. “God...it’s been too long, darlin’,” he rasped. He laved the spot just under Jim’s ear, light kisses, soft nips, and gentle suction resulting in a moan from Jim.
“Mmm,” Jim nuzzled against Bones’ throat, his turn for laving that spot, latching on. He timed his sucking to the roll of his hips and for a short while there was only their two bodies rocking and undulating, with quiet words of love and moans filling the air, lips coming together, hungry and passionate.
Jim broke first, his thrusts becoming more erratic. He gave a strangled cry as he came, and with the sudden sensation of hot cum against him, Leonard careened over the edge right after him.
Slowly they came back to themselves, and Jim loosened his grip enough for Bones to roll to the side. Jim found his hand and laced their fingers together. With the other he grabbed the wipes they always kept on the side table, using the cool soft cloth to clean them both. He pulled Bones towards him, feeling sated and deeply relaxed. Jim made a small, contented sound as they faced each other, arms and legs wrapped and tangled together, desperate kisses changing to soft, tender ones. Jim smiled with satisfaction as he looked at his Bones. His lips were flushed from kissing, his cheeks pink with blood, and his chest rose and fell faster than usual.
Leonard brushed the fluffy clean hair off Jim’s forehead. “Jim...darlin’. Missed this...missed it so much! Never so happy as when we’re like this, when you’re safe here with me, when I can hold you close,” he murmured drowsily.
Jim could feel Bones’ steady heart beat against his chest and the stress of the last few days begin to slip away. Bones’ words made Jim hug the man in his arms tighter. “Want you," he whispered, words kissed into Bones' mouth. "Love you so much, baby. I can never get enough of you, never. It’s you and me forever, Bones. I wouldn’t be here without you and I can’t do any of this without you.” Jim knew this as an inviolable truth. By some miracle, Bones had come into his life, became his best friend, his lover, his partner, his everything, and with that, the emptiness and void Jim thought he’d have to live with forever disappeared.
They were both warm and sleepy, their movements languid, until Jim turned his head and glanced at the time. “Oh shit! It’s almost time for the briefing. Let’s take a quick sonic, we smell like sex,” he said, bending his head to smell himself.
“Hmm, absolutely the best smell in the world,” Leonard said, dimpling mischievously, sniffing loudly at him like a hound dog, making Jim laugh.
They arrived in Jim’s briefing room with two minutes to spare, hair brushed, squeaky clean, and looking pristine in fresh uniforms. Jim’s Alpha crew was already seated around the large table.
Uhura gave them a knowing smirk, but her eyes were soft as she looked at them. Relief at having their Captain and CMO back was palpable around the table.
Jim looked at his best and brightest and smiled his sunshine smile at them. “I have the best crew in all of Fleet. Thank you all for all the brainstorming, inventing, implementing, and communicating that you had to do to get us off the planet. Commendations will be placed in your files. Now then, let’s get this briefing started. First, Bones and I will summarize everything that happened to us after we beamed down, then Mr. Spock will update us on his conversations with Admiral Pike. I understand the Admiral has given us new orders. Finally, I’ll open this briefing up for suggestions, ideas, theories, questions, whatever.”
Jim looked thoughtfully at his officers sitting around the table. “Mr. Spock, please have Mr. Hendorff report to this briefing. We’ll wait for him. Security is going to play a big part in what’s to come.”
Spock spoke softly into his comm. “Mr. Hendorff will be here shortly, Captain.” The group waited in silence until the briefing room door opened and big, burly Matthew Hendorff appeared.
“Captain, good to see you back, Sir. You wanted to see me?”
“Thank you, Lieutenant, good to be back. Please sit down. I want you to take part in this briefing.”
Spock squeezed in an extra chair. Jim stood and cleared his throat. “Let’s begin. Bones, why don’t you start.”
Quickly, Leonard recounted everything that had happened from the moment they beamed down, their capture, their trek through the woods, their search for shelter, the freezing cold weather, their battle with the huge wolves, and their return to the ship. The crew listened, riveted by his narrative. When Leonard finished there was complete silence from the group.
Chekov spoke up voicing all their feelings. “Keptin, Doctor, ve are all happy you are with us once again. This ship vould not be the same without you.”
Jim smiled at the earnest Chekov. “Thanks to you, Ensign and the team, we made it home. Now then, let me share my analysis of the Athanarian situation with you. I’ve already shared this with Mr. Spock, who in turn shared it with Admiral Pike. I’m sure his new orders reflect his thoughts about the cause of the mission failure.”
Jim proceeded to tell them about the possibility of Cardassian or Romulan interference and Admiral Pike’s response to his suspicions. “Mr. Spock reported that Admiral Pike found merit in my theory. His experiences with the Governor and his aides were completely positive. He said their desire to join the Federation was enthusiastic, open and vocal. He doubts they would have changed their minds in just a couple of days.”
He looked at his staff who had been listening avidly. “So, people, any thoughts, questions, speculations about what’s going on down there?”
“‘Twas fortuitous but yet too much of a coincidence that yae were transported directly to that waiting party, Captain. ‘Tis my opinion, that you and McCoy were taken into some sort of protective custody. The Governor must have wanted to make sure you were not captured by whoever was there, maybe those, pardon my French, Sir, bloody Cardassians or Romulans....and if that be so, Captain, we need to help those poor folks.” Scotty looked around and saw agreement on the faces around the table.
“If that’s what happened, the Athanarian’s complete lack of experience with other worlds was not in their favor, especially if their visitors were hostile, Sir,” Sulu continued. “I bet they were taken completely by surprise. Imagine having both Cardassia and Romulus as your nearest neighbors. No wonder they reached out to the Federation.“
They command crew went on to discuss the situation at length, Jim jotting down salient points to pass on to Chris Pike.
Finally, Jim closed his note padd. “I think we’re in agreement that there will have to be a rescue mission for the Athanarians,” Jim said. “I don’t see this going down any other way. The sooner it happens the better...so a rescue party will beam down at dawn tomorrow. Call in your reliefs. I want all of you to get some rest before then,” he ordered, dismissing them.
“Jim, I’ll be in the Med Bay with Geoff. Come get checked out when you’re finished with Pike.”
Jim modded absently. “I will, Bones. Lt. Hendorff, after I speak with Admiral Pike, I’ll want to meet with you again to discuss and finalize plans for our mission to the planet. Meanwhile, make sure your men are well prepared, check all weapons carefully and get out the body armor. We’re going to be well armed. I want no casualties, Lieutenant. From the little intel Fleet has been able to gather about Romulan and Cardassian weapons, their disrupters are usually not set on stun, so I want our people well protected when we’re down there.”
“Aye, Sir. I’ll see to it right away.”
Jim settled himself in his chair and opened his padd to jot down a few more notes for his debrief with Chris Pike. He wondered if the Admiral had gathered any new information about the Athanarian situation.
Jim wholeheartedly agreed with Pike’s orders to take a full security force down planet. Tomorrow at dawn would definitely be the best time. From a tactical standpoint, dawn was the optimum time for a surprise sortie into an enemy camp. Jim firmly believed in the ancient Chinese military strategy espoused by Sun Tuz in his famous book, “The Art of War,” which was required reading in his Advanced Tactics seminar, “Attack him when he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected.”
Whoever the “they” were on Athanar, either Cardassians or Romulans, both were humanoid species, most likely following humanoid sleep patterns, so they would either be asleep at that hour, or tired from their night watch. Jim wanted to avoid bloodshed at all costs, so surprise was definitely the best tactic. Sulu, a good tactician in his own right, thought that whoever had interfered with the First Contact Mission, their number would be small. Why send inn a large number of troops, when, as Sulu surmised, the peaceful Athanarians had not expected hostilities, had no experience in defending themselves, were taken by surprise, and had been completely unprepared to fight back. Although Jim and Spock both agreed with Sulu’s analysis, the Captain was going to err on the side of being over prepared.
He toggled his comm. “Lt. M’Ress, please route a comm to Admiral Pike, Starfleet Command. Patch it through to my large comm station here in the briefing room.”
“It’ll be a few minutesss, Captain.”
Jim waited patiently knowing that at the distance they were from Earth, a comm, even a priority comm, had to be routed through several relay stations and that took time. Finally he heard M’Ress’ voice. “Admiral Pike for you, Captain.”
“Jim!” Chris Pike’s pleasant face had a wide smile on it. “Good to have you safe and sound back on the ship.”
“Admiral,” Jim grinned his pleasure at seeing him. “It’s good to be home. We had quite an adventure on Athanar, Sir. Let me brief you on all that happened to Bones and me, and then we’ll discuss your orders.”
Just An Ordinary Mission
“...he who wishes to fight must first count the cost”
The Art of War
After his long debrief with Pike where he told Jim he still hadn’t been able to contact the Governor, (extremely suspicious that) he reiterated his earlier orders. “Take a full platoon of security officers down planet and find out what the hell is going on, Jim. If necessary rescue the Athanarians. It’s unconscionable that these innocent people who have lived in peace for generations, and who have reached out to the Federation, have somehow been compromised.”
Jim assured Pike that he and his team would get to the bottom of things. After the comm, Jim reported to the Med Bay, knowing he’d get hell from Bones if he didn’t. He knew Bones was right. He needed to man up and follow protocol to assuage everyone’s concerns. After his check up, he’d meet with Lt. Hendorff and go over every aspect of their new mission.
He walked into the Med Bay, noting that it was especially quiet, and took himself to Bones’ office.
“Bones, Bones...are you here? I’m here for my checkup.”
“Captain,” Geoffrey’s head peeked out of Bones’ office. “I’ve already checked Dr. McCoy and sent him to your quarters to rest. He asked me to check you out, and to use his office computer to update your files. Please step this way, Sir.”
He led Jim to one of the bio beds, read the results, got out his medical scanner, then smiled when he finished. “Just like Dr. McCoy, a bit dehydrated. Just drink some extra water today and this evening, and you’ll be fine. You’re in perfect health, Sir. You also need to rest, Captain. Dr. McCoy asked me to make sure to tell you to report to your quarters and no arguments. CMO’s orders.”
Jim laughed. “That sounds like Bones. Thanks, Geoff, I do need at least a short nap. Hendorff and I have a mission to plan for this afternoon.”
Jim entered his quarters to find the lights dimmed and a Bones lump asleep on the bed. He stripped quickly down to his briefs and undershirt, set the alarm for two hours and crept under the comforter. Bones turned to him in his sleep and put his arm around his waist. Jim sighed softly in contentment, breathing in the scent of the sandalwood citrus soap that Bones favored. He turned on his side so Bones was spooning him, closed his eyes feeling the warmth of the sturdy body pressed tight against him, drew in a deep breath and was instantly asleep.
The vibration of Jim’s comm woke him. He’d put it on silent so Bones wouldn’t wake up, he needed the rest. Jim knew his Bones very well indeed. Their situation on Athanar had been hard on him, and Bones had been a lot more stressed and worried about things than he’d let on. He’d worried about Jim, about being unable to contact the ship, about the Athanarians, about the weather and hypothermia, about the possibility of Romulans or Cardassians being on the planet hurting innocents. The fact that he’d shared none of these worries also told Jim how well he was handling being out in the black. He was managing his aviophobia too and Jim was proud as hell of him. He wouldn’t bring it up though, knowing it would embarrass Bones if he praised him in any way. He looked down at the sleeping man. God, Bones was gorgeous! He looked younger when he slept, less tension in his face, the lines of stress and fatigue on his forehead and on the sides of his mouth smoothed out, his thick eyebrows always so mobile and expressive at rest.
Jim dressed quietly, then went over to his desk, and in his loopy, curvy handwriting, wrote Bones a short love note on a sheet of real paper. Back on Earth, Jim had ordered the expensive paper just for this purpose. He often left Bones these jottings, random thoughts, ideas, sayings, bits of poems and songs, and heartfelt expressions of his love and need for Bones. He wrote when he was going to stay late on his shift, when he was going on an away mission, or just because he felt like it. Jim loved to write, to put his deepest thoughts, which sometimes he was unable to voice, down on real paper. Writing on paper had a permanence about it that writing on a padd just didn’t, and he knew for a fact that Bones treasured and saved every single one of Jim’s notes. Back on Earth, Bones had bought a beautiful carved wooden box for just that purpose. Sappy? Yep, very sappy on both their parts, but sometimes being sappy felt right.
After giving Bones a feather light kiss, Jim slipped out of his quarters to meet Hendorff in the Security Department office. The Lieutenant was waiting for him and stood when Jim walked in.
“At ease, Lieutenant.” Jim sat in the one other chair in the room. “I got confirmation from Admiral Pike. It’s a go for tomorrow at dawn. We’ll take a full Security force down...we don’t know what will be waiting for us. How are our armory supplies?”
It was part of Hendorff’s duty as head of the Security Department to oversee all armory supplies. The ship's Security personnel meticulously checked all body armor, phasers, phaser rifles, binoculars, night goggles and all weapons on a monthly schedule to be certain everything was in excellent condition. Weapons were fired in a safe room to check their aim, charging time, and settings. Hendorff, ordered replacements as soon as wear and tear was noticed. Crew lives were dependent on every single item in the armory being in perfect working condition at all times.
“Just finished rechecking everything, Captain. We’re good to go.”
“I’d like to add stasis cuffs to the list, Walter. It will be easier to corral the Athanarian men and prevent injuries. Make sure everyone on the team has them.”
“Will do, Sir.”
Jim and Hendorff had gotten off to a rocky start at the Academy, but when they both ended up on the Enterprise during the battle with Nero, afterward they had forged an understanding. Hendorff was now proving to be an excellent Chief of Security. His men respected him, and he was a stickler for preparedness, always making sure his department personnel were at the top of their game.
Jim opened his padd with the map information he’d gathered on Athanar and sent it to Hendorff. “I want us to beam down here, it’s close to where we were held captive, but still well hidden.” Jim pointed just inside the tree line where he and Bones had gone into the woods. “We’ll have to beam down two at a time, because of that dampening field. When the team is complete, we’ll split ourselves into two groups and surround the compound. Hopefully they’ll be asleep when we grab them. Last Bones and I knew there were only eight of them, but there might be more now, since they’ve been searching for us. We’ll interrogate the warriors separately. I’m sure at least one of them will have answers, know what’s going on. They held us there, but they were waiting for some one for further orders. They, themselves, didn’t seem to know what to do with us. We’ll know more after we question them, know better what we’re up against. We’re going to need cold weather gear, Walter, it’s freezing down there. Night goggles too, it will be pitch dark at that hour and we can be absolutely sure it’ll be snowing.”
Hendorff nodded, jotting notes in his padd. “In addition to the Security detail, who else do you want, Sir.”
“Mr. Sulu. He’s tops with all weapons. Lt. De Salle is too and he needs away Mission time,” and with resignation because he knew Bones would insist on going with them, if only to make sure someone from Medical would be available in case of injuries, “Dr. McCoy. Mr. Spock will have the con and we’ll have Lt. Uhura monitoring us on the earbud comms. Mr. Scott will have to use his magic again, since I’m sure the damping field is still up.”
Hendorff looked up. “Phasers on stun, Sir?”
Jim thought for a minute. “To begin with, yes. We’ll play it by ear until we get there, and if it’s only the Athanarians that’s fine. But if there are Romulans or Cardassians we may have to rethink that, they’ll require something else.”
“I agree, Captain. My latest intel report from Fleet on those two species call their phasers disrupters...doesn’t sound like a stun setting to me.”
“To me either. We’ll just have to see once we get down there. Anyway, I think that’s all for now, Walter. We’ll have our final full briefing with everyone at 2000 tonight in my briefing room. You’re dismissed for now.”
Jim made his way back to his quarters stopping to grab a cup of fresh coffee from the mess. He saw the bedroom lights were dim, but they were on. Bones was awake, on his back, his eyes open staring sleepily up at the ceiling with Jim’s note in his hand. When he saw Jim, he sat up slowly and smiled at him. Grinning, Jim surged down, caught his lips in a quick kiss before handing him the cup of hot coffee.
“You are a god among men, Jim Kirk,” Bones said, sipping the piping hot coffee gratefully, his eyes closed in bliss. “How long was I asleep for God’s sake? And thank you for this.” He waved the note in Jim’s face, grinning. “One of your best ones.” Leonard’s eyes glowed in the dim light.
Jim sat on the edge of the bed. “You’re welcome, and you know I mean every word of it.” He brushed a tender hand down Leonard’s stubbled cheek. “About three hours,” he added, answering Bones’ question.
“Three hours! Jim, you should have woken me up!” Hazel eyes wide with dismay met blue ones.
“You needed the sleep, Bones. You were worn out.” Jim got up and handed him his padd and his clothes. While Bones sat on the side of the bed to dress, he caught him up on Pike’s orders and their plans for their dawn mission tomorrow. “I’ve put you on the list to go down with us. Unless you’d rather stay behind. If so I’ll put M’Benga on the team instead.”
“Hell no! Where you go I go!”
“That’s what I thought you’d say. We’ll have a final briefing at 2000 hours tonight. The team will transport down tomorrow at dawn, 0300 hours.” He nudged Bones with his elbow. “So see it’s a good thing I didn’t wake you up and you took a long nap.”
“Jim, do you think there are Romulans or Cardassians down there? Because the Athanarians wouldn’t have stood a chance against the likes of them. I just hope that none of them have been killed or injured.”
“Yeah, I do, Bones. This world was ripe for the picking; peaceful, no other inhabited worlds close by, no warp technology. I have a feeling either the Romulans or Cardassians thought so too. If that’s what happened, we have a duty to put things right, bring Athanar under Federation protection...and, if I have anything to do with it, we’re going to do it!”
Leonard nodded his agreement. “I think that’s the right thing to do. How’r we gonna’ do it?”
Jim filled him in on the plans he and Hendorff had come up with. “The whole team will be in full body armor and well armed. I don’t want any injuries or casualties, and if we’re discovered down there neither Romulans or Cardassians have the reputation of playing nice with others.”
“I’ll take a full field med kit with me,” Leonard frowned in thought. “I need to look if there’s anything in the Federation medical data base on Athanarians. Don’t think so, but best to check. Romulans are much like Vulcans, I can deal with that. As for Cardassians I know there is some stuff in the data base about them...glanced through it once. I’ll review it tonight.”
“I know you’ll be as well prepared as you always are, Bones.” Jim looked at him sternly. “You’ll be fully armed, but I want to be sure that you’ll use that phaser if you have to. Promise me, Bones, or you don’t go.” Jim had that mulish stubborn look and defiant set to his shoulders that meant not even Spock, using ruthless logic, or Bones, using passionate rhetoric, could change his mind. Leonard didn’t even try.”
“Yeah, okay. I promise. Don’t you worry about me...you’ll have enough on your hands.”
“Don’t worry?” Jim looked at him unbelievingly. “Not possible, Bones, but I trust you to be well prepared, to keep your promise, and we need you with us.”
“Well, there’s no way you could keep me up here. I told you, Jim. Where you go, I go.”
“Well, all right then. I’m hungry, so lets go...to dinner. You going there with me too?” He batted his eyes and laughed at the look on Bones’ face.
“Infant!” Bones groused, but his dimple flashed.
The mess was full. It was the end of Alpha shift and time for supper for that shift so they were slowly trailing in. Beta shift was rushing out the door so they wouldn’t be late. There were a lot of hurried salutes, rushed and muttered “Captain”, “Doctor,” as Jim and Leonard entered through the big mess doors. Jim waved the crew along, knowing what it felt like to feel that you might be late for duty. They grabbed their food choices and made their way to their usual table. Uhura was already there, but no Spock. She looked up as they sat down and smiled. “It’s good to see both of you back on board. We were worried when we couldn’t contact you,” she confided softly. “Just once, I’d like an away mission to go perfectly. Is that too much to ask?” She asked mournfully.
Jim chuckled. “That’s not why they pay us the big credits, Ny.”
Leonard snorted. “Big credits! Ha! I could make 4 times more money at some mid level hospital back on Earth, and even more at a tier one hospital. Starfleet gets more bang for their buck than any big corporation in the Alpha Quadrant. We haven’t had a raise in many years.”
“Well it’s true that we don’t do this for the money,” Jim agreed. “We do for the fun!” His blue eyes were warm, brimming with suppressed mirth.
“Fun!” Leonard swatted at him. “Fun! The only one who has fun on these missions is you, Jim. The rest of us just try to hang on ‘til we can get through whatever shit happens, and the mission completed.”
“Not true, Bones! Other people find away missions fun too, exciting even, right Ny?”
Uhura just looked at him, brown eyes disbelieving, sadly shaking her head at his obvious ignorance. “Afraid not, Captain. You’re the only one who thinks away missions are in any way fun.”
“Well damn! I had no idea...you guys are really harshing my mellow here.”
“Hey! You’ve harshened ours enough times...I’d count those times on the fingers of my hands, but I’d run out of fingers. Right, Len?” She waved a small manicured hand at him.
“Yep. Just think of all those times I had you in the Med Bay, Jim? Poisoned, shot, limbs broken, concussions, cuts, abrasions, etc...I can assure you my mellow has been completely harshed many times!”
“All right, all right, you two....” Jim’s comeback was interrupted by Spock who set his tray down beside Nyota and sat down.
“Captain, Doctor, Nyota.”
“Hey, Spock.” Jim looked at him, blue, blue eyes sparkling with mischief. “Let me ask you a question. Taking into consideration the Vulcan equivalent of what constitutes as fun, do you have a good time when we go on away missions?”
Spock steepled his fingers and considered the question. “Vulcans do not have “fun” Captain.”
“You can say that again,” muttered Leonard.
Spock ignored him. “However, let me answer the intent rather than the literal interpretation of your question by saying that occasionally I have felt some small sense of gratification when we have successfully completed the parameters of an away mission. However, I would not, in any way, classify those times as “fun”, Captain.”
Uhura rolled her eyes. “What Spock is trying to say, Jim, is no, he doesn’t have fun on away missions.”
“I believe that is what I just said, Nyota.”
“Now that’s just plain sad,” Jim responded. “It’s criminal that the only one who gets excited and has fun during an away mission is me. I’m going to have to try to think of ways to remedy that situation....”
A faint look of alarm came over Spock’s face and horror crossed Leonard’s and Nyota’s faces.
“Now Jim, you just put that kind of thinkin’ right out of your head. Didn’t we just finish havin’ enough “fun” down there in Athanar?”
“Hmm....” He eyed the three faces that were staring at him with various degrees of dismay and burst out laughing. “I’m kidding, okay? I agree with you...some of our away missions have been anything but fun.” He looked at the time. “And as much fun as this conversation has been, I gotta’ go prepare for the briefing.”
“You go on, Jim, I’ll take care of our trays,”
“Thanks, Bones. I’ll see you at 2000 hours in the briefing room. You guys enjoy the rest of your dinner.” He waved a cheerful goodbye and headed for his briefing room, three sets of eyes following his jaunty walk out of the mess.
“Perhaps I should speak with the Captain regarding his skewed perception about away missions,” Spock said thoughtfully.
Leonard sighed. “Don’t bother, Spock. It won’t do any good, and it might make things worse. You know how Jim can be damned contrary sometimes.”
“I do indeed, Doctor. Perhaps you are correct.”
“Trust me, Spock. It’s best to let sleeping dogs lie.” He picked up both trays and stood. “See you later, I’ll be in the Med Bay packing up a full med kit for tomorrow mornin’. Don’t know what waitin’ for us down there. As I understand it, you and Uhura are gonna’ mind the store while we’re down there. Just glad it’s you two, and Scotty of course. We’ll be in the best of hands.”
Leonard made his way to the Med Bay. Since it was Beta shift, it was quiet. There was only one patient, a young Engineering Ensign who had inhaled some noxious fumes and was under observation. Geoff’s office light was on, so Leonard peeked in.
Geoffrey looked up and smiled at his boss. “Good to see you back here, Len. We missed you. It’s been quiet since you left, and still is this evening.”
“Let us give thanks, then, cause it won’t last long.”
Geoffrey laughed. “Never does. What are you doing here, Boss, you’re off duty.”
“Came to get my med bag ready for tomorrow. It has to be a more complete one this time. We may be dealing with several different species, possibly Romulans or Cardassians, and of course, Athanarians.”
“Hmm,” Geoff said, turning to his large comm. “Computer, list basic field medication needs for Romulan and Cardassian species.” He looked up at Leonard. “We don’t have much on them, and we have nothing in the medical data base for Athanarians.”
“I figured,” Leonard sighed. “They’re humanoid, and from what I could see much like us, only taller and skinnier. For them, I’ll have to make do with what I usually carry.” He peered at the list. “Send it to my comm, please Geoff, and I’ll see what we’ve got on hand. I know we don’t have some of these meds, but we’ll do the best we can.” He walked off muttering irately under his breath how Starfleet’s Medical’s Data base made it seem like they didn’t know shit about alien biology.
Leonard decided his personal med bag would not do, so he pulled a bigger bag out from storage. He went to the Med Bay medical supplies room and inputted his code. Only Geoff, Christine, and Leonard we’re authorized to access this room. It was SOP that all medication on board ship was meticulously accounted for at all times, especially meds for the Captain, which Leonard admitted he was paranoid about. Jim was allergic to so many things that he had a special section all his own, and even then, Leonard, Geoff and Christine frequently checked and rechecked all his known allergies and updated his med supplies.
A Constitution size starship with such a large crew had to have medical supplies frequently replenished. Fleet supply ships, star bases, and stops at Federation worlds kept Enterprise and all Starfleet ships supplied with necessary medication, medical instruments, supplies, and any additional medical staff that the ships needed.
Leonard was not shy about raising hell with SFM when they were slow to replenish what they needed. Once, one of the base Commodores had complained to Jim about Bones. His complaint was that Dr. McCoy kept hounding him about the length of time it took to get their much needed medical supplies to the ship. The Commodore told Jim in no uncertain terms to rein in his CMO, that Enterprise would get their medical supplies when he saw fit to send them. Jim hit the roof, furiously told him off loud enough for the Commodore to threaten him with insubordination, which the angry Jim dared him to do. As soon as he was off the comm with the Commodore, Jim sent in his formal complaint to Admiral Boyce, the SFM Chief. Jim angrily described how the Commodore kept ignoring Bones’ requests for badly needed medical supplies, how he had stonewalled Bones, and how Enterprise still had not gotten their badly needed meds. It was not long after, that the Commodore found himself summarily transferred to BFE. Little did he know that Dr. Leonard McCoy was a particular favorite of the Admiral’s. The SFM Chief had been Bones’ mentor at the Academy, and Dr. Boyce knew how brilliant he was. The Admiral was first and foremost a brilliant doctor in his own right, and nothing if not protective of all his CMOs, medical staff and SFM patients.
Carefully consulting his list, Leonard finished packing his medical supplies and instruments. He logged out his list of supplies, locked the room, then peeked back into Geoff’s office. “You’re in charge until we get back, Geoff. Hopefully this’ll all go without a hitch.”
“Good luck, Leonard. See you when you get back. Be careful, all of you. We’ll be ready up here just in case.”
Leonard nodded. Geoff and Christine would be ready...they were the best of all his stellar staff. He checked his chronometer and hurried to the lift. It was almost 2000 hours and time for Jim’s final briefing.
Just An Ordinary Mission
“Attack him where he is unprepared,
appear where you are not expected."
The Art of War
Jim looked around the large Ready Room table counting heads, everyone on the team was present. It was going to be a long briefing with many details to discuss, along with Spock’s report from Admiral Pike. Bones had requested that Geoffrey and Christine Chapel be included in the briefing. If there were injuries or casualties from the mission, it would behoove the Med Bay to be prepared.
Jim cleared his throat. “Let’s begin. Please take detailed notes as I proceed with the briefing. Also I want everyone to review your notes this evening. Don’t hesitate to ask me or Mr. Hendorff if you have any questions or concerns.”
“Mr. Spock will have the con for this mission. Mr. Scott, Mr. Chekov and Lieutenant Uhura will resume the same duties they had when Dr. McCoy and I were stranded on the planet. Only Mr. Scott and Mr. Chekov will man the transporter, and only Lt. Uhura will be on communications. Lieutenants Sulu and De Salle will be added to Lt. Hendorff’s security detail.” He nodded to the two additions who looked pleased.
Jim checked his bulleted notes. “Lieutenant Hendorff, we’ll use ear buds for communication. We don’t want Mr. Scott’s and Lt. Uhura's voices to be overheard. It will also lessen the sound of our voices in the woods. With all the snow, it’s completely silent and noises are magnified. As we get closer to the compound we’ll go comm silent except for my orders through the ear buds. Lt. Uhura, I want you to monitor all our comms constantly.”
“All right. Next up is Mr. Scott who will explain the modified beam down process.”
“Aye, Captain.” Scotty stood. “Because of the dampening field, we cannae’ beam down more than two people at a time. ‘Tis sorry I am that we have not been able to increase the mass and weight parameters for our cobbled system. The Captain and I discussed this at length and we decided we will beam everyone deep into the woods one klick away from the compound.” He fiddled with his comm. “I’ve sent all of yae’ the map with the location where the team will rendezvous.” He glanced at Hendorff. “How big is your detail, Mr. Hendorff?”
“The Captain and I decided on a 12 men detail, that’s including the Captain and Dr. McCoy. The Captain reported that the nine men who took them captive only had primitive weapons, so we hope to avoid any injuries or casualties. Our orders are to surprise and subdue the men, then bring them here to the ship to interrogate them.”
Jim nodded. “Admiral Pike has ordered us to find out what happened to Governor Zadra and his staff. That’s our first priority. After that, our orders are to discover if there are outside forces on Athanar interfering with the government. Are they being coerced in some way...and if so, to find out who is doing the coercing.” Jim brow furrowed as he thought of what might have happened to the Governor and his aides, innocent people who had appealed to the Federation for inclusion and protection. “The Admiral agrees with Mr. Spock, Mr. Scott and me that the dampening field is far beyond the technological abilities of the Athanarians.”
“Aye, Sir,” Scotty agreed. “Took the combined efforts of Mr. Spock, Ensign Chekov, Lt. Uhura and meself to break through it and get yourself and McCoy home. ’Tis very advanced technology. Speaks to outside interference for sure. So yes, ‘twill be a slow process to beam all of yae’ down to the planet.” Scotty looked thoroughly disgruntled at the thought of it. He prided himself on always being able to pull rabbits out of hats for his Captain.
“It’ll be fine, Scotty,” Jim consoled him. “You four have accomplished miracles already just by getting Bones and me back on board.” He smiled at the despondent Scotty. “It’ll be no problem for us to wait until we’re all together. It’s far enough into the woods, plus it’ll be very late and dark enough to hide us. I doubt anyone will be the wiser. Mr. Hendorff and I have gone over all the mission parameters thoroughly looking for weaknesses.” His blue eyes looked sternly at them. “If, when you review those parameters, you think something looks iffy or might not work, don’t hesitate to voice your concerns, that’s why we’re all here, to make sure this mission is successful. Innocent people are depending on us.”
Jim stood and toggled the big comm on the wall to show the large wooded area he’d mapped out with the trail he and Bones had been through. He had highlighted those areas on the map. “So this is the plan. After we’ve all assembled in this area here,” he pointed, “we’ll proceed to the compound which is here.” All eyes followed his pointer. “We’ll spread ourselves out to surround the compound. It’s a small area, the huts are grouped close together. Mr. Hendorff will double check that all phasers are set on stun. I’m hoping the late hour and our element of surprise will be enough so we don’t have to use phasers at all. Although the Athanarians are humanoid, we don’t know how a stun setting will affect them. I stunned the guard outside Bones’ hut, but we didn’t stick around to see how long it took him to wake up or how the stun affected him. Dr. McCoy will go with us, but hopefully we won’t need his medical expertise.”
“Yeah, all you adrenalin junkies try not to get shot, stabbed, punched, or anythin’ else. I’ll have a full med kit with me, but y’all try your best to stay safe so I won’t have to use it,” Leonard growled at them.
“I second that,” Jim said. “Let’s be careful and watch each other’s backs. Dr. M’Benga, be sure you and Nurse Chapel are prepared for casualties, whether human, Anatharian, Cardassian or Romulan. Dr. McCoy informed me that medical information about those three species is scarce, so let’s hope medical intervention won’t be necessary.”
“We’ll be ready in the Med Bay, Captain.”
“I know you will. All right everyone, the entire mission plans are detailed in your comm. Mr. Hendorff will meet with his Security detail in his office after this briefing to go over each step. We’ll assemble in the transporter room at 0330 hours tomorrow to begin beam down. One more thing, Mr. Hendorff. All of us will need night goggles since we can’t chance using flashlights. Also be sure your security detail is in adequate cold weather gear. It’s freezing down there.”
“Any questions or comments?” Jim asked. The team all eyed each other, no one spoke.
“No? Very well. Mr. Spock will now give us an overview of his briefing from Admiral Pike. It’s important that we understand the possible consequences to the Federation if Athanar is being coerced or compromised by outside forces. Mr. Spock?”
“Thank you, Captain.” Spock steepled his fingers on the table and leaned slightly forward to address the group. “First and foremost, Admiral Pike voiced his deep concern for the people of Athanar, as well as for Governor Zadra and his aides. All attempts to contact the Governor stopped just prior to when the Captain and Dr. McCoy were captured. He stressed the importance of discovering whether the Athanar governing body has been compromised in some way,...namely by either Romulans or Cardassians. Determining that is our first priority. He also stressed that we must proceed with all due caution. Overt hostilities, especially with the Romulans, must be avoided at all costs. Some of us may know that there is an uneasy truce between the Federation and the Romulan Star Empire, but it is just that, uneasy. It would not take much for hostilities to escalate and for a war between us to break out. In his considered opinion, and the rest of the Admiralty shares his opinion, Romulus is just waiting for an opportune moment to escalate hostilities.”
He looked grave. “The Admiral stressed that an all out war is to be avoided at all costs. As we can all attest, it took many years for us to recover from the Klingon/Federation war of 2256/57, brief though it was due to the intervention of the Organians and the subsequent Organian treaty forced upon us, and which to our certain knowledge is still in effect.”
Everyone nodded.There was deep resentment against, the Oganians, those mysterious beings who had forced the Federation and the Klingons into an uneasy peace using their frightening, unknown vast powers. The Federation didn’t want war, but they also didn’t want to be forced into a peace they were helpless to change if the need arose. The warlike, rapacious Klingons detested the Oregonians, but they too, were helpless against them.
“As for Cardassia,” Spock continued into the silence, “the intel we have on their society is minimal. We know there has been some sporadic hostility between Cardassia Prime and Ko’nos, the Klingon home world. The Organian peace accords apprently do not apply to these small skirmishes, but there has been none that we are aware of with the Romulan Empire. It is, however, highly unlikely that Romulans and Cardassians are on Athanar at the same time working together. Their policies of conquering and subjugating are similar and they would most certainly not be amenable to cooperating with each other. Needless to say those policies are at complete variance with the policies and tenets of the United Federation of Planets.“
“If it is Cardassia and not Romulus who has interfered with our First Contact Mission, Admiral Pike speculates it might be members of the The Obsidian Order, the Cardassian intelligence organization. It is one of the most brutally efficient organizations in the galaxy, being even more ruthless than the Romulan Tal Shiar or our own Section 31. Everything they do is clandestine, and they answer only to Gul Ademar, their leader. It is said the Order keeps a close eye on all Cardassian citizens to ensure loyalty, and is greatly feared by all.”
“Admiral Pike stressed that it is imperative we discover who is behind the dampening field, why the continued silence from Governor Zadra, and who the men are who captured the Captain and Dr. McCoy. Our orders are to find the Governor and his aides, rescue them if they are still alive, subdue, apprehend and interrogate the beings who are behind the dampening field and the Governor’s silence, and finally do everything in our power to bring Athanar under the protection of the Federation.”
“Oh, is that all,” muttered Bones, sarcastically.
Jim suppressed a smile. “I think the men who took Bones and I might be able to answer some of these questions.”
Spock studiously ignored the interruptions. “If it is the Obsidian Order or the Romulan Tal Shiar, we are to apprehend them, put them in the ship’s brig and transport them to the nearest Starbase. If we are successful in capturing these operatives, they will be completely disavowed by the Obsidian Order or the Romulan Empire. There will be no diplomatic intervention, no questions asked about what happened to them. The Romulan Empire or the Obsidian Order will claim they had no knowledge of their activities. It will be as if these operatives never existed. That will be fortuitous for us, because in effect, it will avoid the possibility of further contact or conflict with either Romulus or Cardassia.”
Spock sat back in his chair. “The concludes my part of the briefing, Captain.”
“Thank you, Mr. Spock, very comprehensive. As all of you heard, this mission is fraught with diplomatic difficulties, but I’m determined that we will help the Athanarians.” Jim consulted his notes again. “I think that’s all. Try to have an early night, eat a snack before you go to bed, because 0300 will come fast and there won’t be time for breakfast. Thank you, everyone is dismissed until dawn tomorrow. Mr. Hendorff’s team, please follow him to his office for the rest of your briefing.”
Everyone trailed out except for Spock, Bones and Jim. “I think that went pretty well, didn’t you, Spock?”
“I do,” Spock replied. “The away team will be adequately prepared. Mr. Hendorff and his men are well trained.”
“Yeah, they are. I think we’re ready as we’ll ever be. Let’s get some rest. We’ll need to be at our best come dawn, see you at 0300, Spock.”
Back in their quarters, the two men stripped and got into their sleep clothes. Leonard went to the kitchen to prepare snacks for them. An apple, cheese, and a glass of milk for Jim, while Leonard opted for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
“Let’s hit the hay, darlin’ and try to get a full night’s sleep.” They settled in the bed, and Leonard drew Jim tight up against him sighing contently.
“Feels good to be warm, doesn’t it?” Jim smiled dreamily. “Feels even better to be able to cuddle.”
“Damn straight,” Leonard murmured, kissing the top of Jim’s head. “‘Night, Jimmy.”
“‘Night, Bonesy. Love you.”
”Love you more,” slurred the sleepy Leonard.
Both men were immediately asleep.
Their alarm rang promptly at 0300. “Bones,” Jim murmured sleepily, “We need to get up.” He poked gently at Bones’ ribs.
Leonard swatted his hand away. “Nooo, Jim, stop it....it’s too damn early. Let me sleep some more.”
“Can’t, Bonesy, Bones of my heart, Bonsey poo,” Jim chuckled in his ear. “We’re going down to Athanar this morning, remember?” This time he poked Bones in the cheek where his dimple resided.
Leonard groaned, opening one eye. “Stop it, Jim! Please, please stop! I’m warm, I’m comfortable, just leave me the hell alone.”
Jim poked him again and Leonard finally opened both eyes sighing in defeat. “Okay, okay. I’m awake. “He sat up slowly, yawned widely, and ran his fingers through his ferocious bed head. “A man cain’t ever get enough rest around here, there’s always somethin’,” he grumbled morosely.
Jim grinned. “Come on, Mr. Grumpy Pants, we’ll take a fast sonic. The crew awaits.”
After scrambling into their thermal underwear, cold weather uniforms, and grabbing their hats and gloves, Jim put out a hand stopping Leonard from heading out the door. He interlocked their fingers, gripping tightly. “Bones...,” Jim trailed off.
“Jim. Stop worrying about me. I’ll be careful, and I won’t hesitate to use my phaser if need be, I promise.”
Jim nodded, mollified for the time being. Leonard grabbed his Med Bag and they hurried out to the transporter room.
Uhura was already there accompanied by a yeoman from the mess. There was a rolling cart with mugs, creamer, sugar, and several carafes filled with coffee. She and the yeoman were serving the crew members as they came in.
“Uhura, you’re a wonder!” Leonard said thankfully, as he and Jim were each handed a mug of coffee. They gulped it down gratefully.
“The most awesome idea ever,” Jim grinned at her.
“Why thank you, Captain, but it was Chef Muriel’s idea. Once she heard Leonard was going with you, she decided on the coffee idea. I think she has a soft spot for you, Leonard.”
Len just smiled smugly. “We Southerners have to stick together...mighty nice of her though.”
Uhura snorted. “Yeoman Rogers and I are merely her minions in this endeavor, right, Rogers?”
“Yes, ma’am,” Rogers nodded, ducking his head to hide his smile. “We, who are assigned to mess duty, always strive to do what Chef Muriel wants.” He gave up and grinned at Jim and Leonard. “Chef Muriel rewards our efforts by asking us to taste test her pies, cookies, and cakes, Sirs.”
Leonard laughed. “Can’t beat that for motivatin’ your staff. How’d you get roped into this, Ny?”
“I was in the mess when Chef brought it up to the staff, and I volunteered,” she said. “I wanted to be here to wish you luck and help with this mission in some way besides just manning the comms.”
“Mighty nice of you, sweetheart. We surely appreciate it, you too, Rogers.”
“Yes, thanks to both of you, and please thank Chef for me. I’ll thank her personally when we get back,” Jim told them. He looked around at the milling security force. They were already in their cold weather gear. “Where’s Spock, Lieutenant? I expected him to be here.”
“He was here, he’ll be back in a minute,” Nyota said. “He’s sending a quick update to Admiral Pike. The Admiral asked to be kept in the loop while you were down planet. Excuse me, Captain, if I may, I’ll get back to my board and get ready for your comm check.”
Jim nodded. “You’re dismissed, both of you.”
“Mr.Scott, Mr. Chekov. Ready to man the transporters?”
“We’re ready, Keptin.”
“Captain, we will still transport two of yae’ at a time. No change in the safety parameter.”
“That’s fine, Scotty. All you have to do is get us there in one piece. Also, I want to remind you that we might have additional people to transport back to the ship at the end of this mission.”
“As long as yae’ send them up two at a time, t’will be no problem, Captain.”
Jim went up to the transporter padd to address the team. “Alright everyone, let’s finish suiting up. Mr. Hendorff has placed everything we need on the tables by the wall. We’ll check each other before beaming down. Mr.Scott and Mr.Chekov will begin to transport us down in 15 minutes.”
The twelve of them suited up in silence. They helped each other with the body armor which had complicated straps and fasteners, then everyone grabbed their hats and goggles, clipped their phasers and communicators to their belts, and milled around waiting for transport.
Leonard hefted his large field med bag, draping it carefully across his body; he patted it happily. He never felt completely dressed on an away mission unless he had his med bag on him. He had outfitted it himself in the Med Bay and checked it over carefully before taking it to their quarters. He opened it to check again. “Paranoia thy name is Leonard,” he muttered to himself. Besides the medical tricorder, he had preloaded hyposprays with cordrazine, hydration ampules, the neural paralyzer Melenex that Jim had requested, the all purpose Triox compound, and a general heavy duty microbial. He'd also included his medical scanner, a dermal regenerator, and a small osteo regenerator. Leonard felt as ready as was possible on a mission with Jim Kirk.
Jim went up to Hendorff. “All right, I think we’re ready. Put your ear buds in and we’ll do a comm check.” Lt. Hendorff nodded to him that his men were ready.
“Kirk to Uhura.”
"Lt. Uhura here, Captain. I read you loud and clear."
"Good. Go ahead and do your comm check, Lieutenant. Everyone has their ear pieces in place."
"Aye, Sir." Uhura said, and began her comm check. "Lt. Hendorff, check; Dr.McCoy, check.” Uhura worked quickly through her check list. "All comms are loud and clear, Captain."
Jim noticed Spock was not back yet, but it was time. "Mr. Scott, Mr.Chekov, Bones and I are ready to beam down,” Jim ordered as he and Leonard stepped up on the transporter padd.
“Aye, Sir, ready.”
The two men materialized on the spot Jim had designated. Bones patted himself down...all his body parts seemed to be in the right places. They moved aside to wait for the next beam down duo looking around the area. The night goggles showed every detail of the wooded area. During their escape, they hadn’t taken the time to see any of this as they hiked quickly through these woods . The trees were very tall with thick wide trunks. It was obvious they were old growth trees, their leafy canopies covered with heavy snow and meeting high above them. This pristine forest had been here undisturbed for many generations. The quarter moon above them cast almost no light as two by two the rest of the team materialized until all the team was present.
“Comm check. Raise your hand if you can hear me,” Jim spoke very softly. All hands were raised. “Uhura, did you hear me?”
“Yes, Captain. All comms are live.”
“Bones and I will take point. Hendorff you’re at the rear. Let’s head out.”
The team, trailing behind Jim and Leonard, trudged silently through the thick trees. The number of trees began to thin out as they walked carefully through the deep snow toward the edge of the woods. It wasn’t long before they came upon the grouping of huts. The dark, mysterious woods made even more so by the shadows seen through the reddish glow of the night goggles, was now behind them. Jim raised his hand to halt. There, seen through the few trees right in front of them was the compound. They were here. Jim raised his hand high, his index and middle fingers up and spread open. It was the signal for them to split up and surround the huts.
Just an Ordinary Mission
“The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.”
“The Art of War”
On the signal to split up, Jim, Bones, and 4 of the security officers, circled around the outer perimeter of the clearing making their way around to the back of the huts. They walked stealthily and silently on the snowy ground. Hendorff and the rest of the security officers went the opposite way. The men separated evenly, spacing themselves close against a hut. They stood silently waiting for Jim’s order. Jim counted them off in his head making sure that Bones was close by him, and that the security detail, and Sulu and Hendorff could see him.
Once he was satisfied, Jim moved a good distance away from the huts, closer to the trees to speak to the two teams through their earpieces. The compound was completely silent except for the occasional sound of loud snoring coming from the huts.
The team could hear Jim’s voice clearly through their earpieces although he spoke very softly. “There doesn’t seem to be anyone patrolling and from the sound of it everyone’s asleep."
It was that time of night when the humanoid body was the most deeply asleep. Everyone who served on the Enterprise knew all too well the effort it took to stay awake during Gamma shift when most of the crew was asleep and the ship’s corridors were eerily empty. Unless there was something unusual happening on the bridge, those on Gamma shift had to occupy themselves doing additional tasks besides the routine monitoring of the ship's systems in order to stay alert and awake. It was obvious from the snores coming from the huts that the Athanarians abided by the same sleep cycle as humans.
Jim spoke again. “I want us to take them completely by surprise. Cuff them immediately and bring all the prisoners out to the middle of the compound. We’ll rendezvous there then go back to our beam down coordinates. There’s no point in us freezing our butts down here or taking a chance on being discovered. We’ll interrogate the men once we’re back on the ship. Wait for my signal.” Jim stepped back to the hut by Bones, raised his hand, and pointed two fingers to his eyes. He got on his hands and knees and crawled to peer around the hut. He could hear the calm soft breaths of his team members through his ear piece, but that was all.
He pulled out his phaser. “There are no sentries anywhere that I can see,” he whispered. “Lt. Hendorff, on my signal we're going in. Remember we’re trying to avoid bloodshed so everyone check your phasers one last time, make sure they’re on light stun. Use them only if absolutely necessary. We want to question these guys as soon as possible to find out what the hell is going on here.” He breathed deeply, focusing all his command training. "On the count of three, mark….one, two, three, go!" Jim ordered softly. The men came out from their locations, and entered the huts silently.
“Bones, guard the entrance.” Jim whispered.
Leonard, phaser in hand, nodded.
Jim stepped into the hut. It was pitch dark inside, but through his night goggles he could clearly see the Athanarian male fast asleep. He was lying on his stomach stretched out, long legs and arms barely fitting on the narrow cot, He was covered with a colorful blanket much like the one Bones had stolen. His quarter staff was on the floor by the cot, but there was no sign of the lethal looking knife Jim had seen on the men who’d captured them. The knife must still be on the sleeping man.
The hut, like the one where he and Bones had been held, was devoid of any furniture except for the bed. It was freezing cold and there was no signs of a heater or even that a fire had been lit for warmth.
Jim stood utterly still, breathing silently, debating with himself how best to subdue the warrior. He had, like his men, put his phaser on the lightest stun setting, but still the stun energy would completely paralyze the man. It would render him unconscious, which for interrogation purposes, was a not good thing. Still uncertain, Jim held back. He didn’t really want to stun the Athanarian, but he didn’t want to fight him either, possibly severely injuring the man not knowing about the physical vulnerabilities of Athanarians.
Looking down at the peacefully sleeping man, Jim made the decision not to stun him. Bones had speculated that even using a light stun would take two or three hours for the effects to wear off. A lot depended on Athanarian metabolism and their central nervous system which they knew nothing about. Jim pulled out the stasis cuffs and walked silently to the cot. He grabbed the sleeping man’s wrists, pulled them behind him, and quickly slipped the stasis cuffs on.
The Athanarian woke in a panic, struggling, hyperventilating. He tried to sit up, but with his hands behind him, it was impossible for him to do so.
Jim walked to the front of the cot, squatting down so the man could see him. “Stop struggling, I’m not going to hurt you,” he said, helping the man to sit up.
The man’s eyes widened. “It is you, the Captain! From the ship.” He slumped against the hut wall, his eyes dazed. “Thank the gods you are not dead, frozen or devoured by the mountain wolves. We feared the worse, it is their time to hunt. We have been looking for you. Is the physician also well?”
As if on cue, Bones’ voice came from the doorway. “Jim,” he hissed. “Everything okay in there? The team is starting to assemble out here.”
“Be right there, Bones. Everything’s all right in here. Yes,” he answered the Athanarian. We’re both fine...we were attacked by the wolves, but we managed to make it back to the ship. “
Jim pulled out his comm. “Kirk to team. Let’s wrap this up and head back to the ship. We’ll assemble together at the original transport site for beam up. Lt.Hendorff, once on board please escort our Athanarian prisoners to the brig to await interrogation.”
“Kirk to Enterprise.”
“Enterprise here, Captain.”
“Scotty, begin beam up of the security team with our prisoners in ten minutes; mark.”
“Aye, Sir. T’will be two at a time again. Not able to do it any faster yet, Captain.”
“Copy that, Scotty. Team members, you copy?”
“Aye, Sir.” Came the chorus of voices.
“All right, everyone head for the rendezvous point. Lt. Sulu, you’re in charge of the beam up procedure. Bones and I will be there shortly along with our prisoner. Coordinate the beam up queue lineup with Mr. Scott. Mr. Hendorff, make sure all prisoners are transported safely.” He lowered his voice. “I’m quite sure they’ve never experienced transport before.”
“Bones,” Jim called. “We’re rendezvousing in the woods. Scotty is ready to beam us up.”
Leonard came in the hut and eyed the Athanarian. “Shit, Jim I was getting worried.” His eyes scanned the Athanarian. “Is he all right?”
“He’s fine, Bones, I didn’t stun him.” He helped the man to stand up. “We’ll need the blanket for him, he’s not dressed for outside.”
The Athanarian appeared dazed. “Where are you taking me...us?”
“Somewhere safe, back to our ship. Don’t worry, we’re not going to hurt you or your friends.”
Leonard draped the blanket around the tall lanky form and they left the cold dark hut. The rest of the team, with their prisoners, were already at the rendezvous spot. Standing at the head of the queue, Sulu was on the comm with Scotty waiting for each beam up ready signal. Slowly each pair disappeared in the silvery mist until just Sulu, Bones, Jim and the Athanarian were left.
“You and Sulu go, Bones.”
Before Leonard could protest, Sulu shook his head. “Sorry, Captain. You put me in charge. You and your prisoner are next.”
“Hoist with your own petard, “Leonard murmured, eyes shining with suppressed mirth.
Jim grimaced, but he nodded. He had put Sulu in charge and he would not countermand his own orders.
“The Captain and his prisoner are next, Mr. Scott,” Sulu said calmly, then watched as Jim and the Athanarian disappeared. “Ready, Doctor McCoy?”
“You bet, can’t get off this ice ball soon enough,” Leonard said, stepping to Sulu’s side.
They materialized into the familiar white-silvery colors of the transporter room. All the Athanarians were gone, including Jim’s prisoner. With Spock’s usual swift efficiency, they had promptly been placed in the brig by the Security officers. Jim’s brow unfurled from its worried expression when Bones materialized. His hazel eyes met Jim’s. Home safe!
Hendorff came back in to the transporter room. “All prisoners are secured, Captain. We have placed them in individual holding cells as you ordered.”
The brigs in all Constitution ships were large. The best Fleet Engineers, including some Vulcans, had designed them to be impossible to break out of, and so far no prisoner had been able to escape. Security Officers could house many prisoners, either singly, or in large or small groups by separating the brig with the use of security shields. The Security department could configure a brig as needed or as the Captain’s orders demanded. In the unlikely event of a catastrophic power failure on the ship, if the brig’s main security shields went down, there was still a redundant transparent tridirium wall to keep the prisoners inside the brig.
“Good work down there, Lieutenant Hendorff. Pass that on to your men. It went without a hitch, not a shot fired,” Jim said, looking pleased. “We’ll leave the prisoners to stew for a while. See if you can determine who the leader of the group is before we begin interrogations. I’d like to start with him...save us a lot of time. Tell your men to get some breakfast. You too, Walter.”
“Aye, Sir, thank you. I’ll report as soon as I can.”
“Come on, Bones. I need coffee and food before we begin our interrogations. I’d like for you to be there. I know we don’t know much about the Athanarians, but they are humanoid, so if they lie maybe their body language and facial responses will be similar to ours.”
“And truth, Jim. Maybe all we’ll hear from them is the truth.”
“Maybe,” Jim said pulling him into the lift. “Mess,” Jim ordered the computer, leaning tiredly against the bulkhead.
Leonard reached to pull him close. “Tired?” He pressed a soft kiss to the side of Jim’s head.
Jim nodded, leaning in for a moment until Leonard moved away as the lift door opened. In the mess, they each grabbed a tray and went through the line for their choices: Eggs, bacon, toast, butter, orange juice and more coffee. One of the servers smiled at Jim and handed him a covered plate. “Chef Muriel sent it out for you, Sir.”
“Thanks, O’Hara,” Jim said peeing under the cover. He grinned widely, blue eyes twinkling as he glanced at Bones. “Cinnamon roll.”
“Spoiled much?” Bones smiled.
“Absolutely! Captain’s privilege, right, O’Hara?”
“Yes, Sir!” O’Hara, long used to the Bones and Jim show, just grinned indulgently at his Captain. He, as did most of the Enterprise crew, thoroughly agreed with Chef about occasionally spoiling their hard working young Captain.
“Please thank Chef for me, O’Hara.”
“I will, Sir.”
They sat at their usual table and ate hungrily until Jim looked up. “I hate interrogations,” he admitted. “Spock’s much better at them than I am.”
“I beg to differ with your assessment, Captain.”
Jim looked up startled. Neither man had heard or seen Spock approach.
“Damn it, Spock! Don’t creep up on people like that! You’ll give us a heart attack!” Bones looked at him irately.
“Vulcans do not creep, Doctor. We walk quite normally, albeit much more quietly than humans.”
“Could’ve fooled me,” muttered Leonard. “You were definitely...”
“Did you need something, Mr. Spock?” Jim hastily interrupted any further back and forth between the two men.
“I merely wish to inform you that one of the Athanarian prisoners has identified himself as the head man and wishes to speak with you, Captain. His name is Sulanon. I do not think that any formal interrogation will be necessary. He stated that he is more than willing to answer all your questions.”
Jim exchanged a glance with Bones. “Very well Mr. Spock. Please have Security escort him to the brig interrogation room. I’ll be there shortly. Dr.McCoy will sit in during the interrogation.”
“Yes, Sir. Also as ordered, I have advised Admiral Pike that you, the doctor, and the Athanarians are now back on board and that you would report to him as soon as interrogation of the prisoners was concluded. I assured him you would not delay your report to him.”
“Thank you, Mr.Spock. We’ll meet you in the interrogation room.”
Spock nodded and left them to finish their breakfast. Leonard rolled his eyes at the departing figure.
“Stop it, Bones. Spock is tremendously efficient and completely dedicated to his job.”
“A nit picking micromanager is what he is,” muttered Leonard.
Jim ignored the grouse and they hurriedly finished eating. Jim took one last gulp of his coffee. “Come on. Let’s see what the leader has to say. Remember I want you to keep an eye on his facial and body reactions.”
“I will, Jim, but don’t know how much I’ll be able to tell you that’ll be helpful, they’re humanoid, but not human, and not a species we’re familiar with. As you already heard from Pike, there ain’t much information about Athanarians.”
“I know, Bones. Just do the best you can.”
The interrogation room off the brig was, in effect, a mini fortress. It was spartan and devoid of any amenities or comfort. It had a plain faux wood table and 8 sturdy chairs, four on one side, four on the other. Everything was bolted to the floor, and once the prisoners were seated, a stasis field automatically came up and immobilized the lower part of the prisoners body. There had been too many instances when prisoners had attempted to overpower interrogators.
Like the brig, the room was phaser proof and sound proof. All that transpired during interrogations was linked to the ship’s main frame computer. This was for the protection of both ships’ officers and their prisoners. Starfleet was very picky about prisoners’ treatment when interrogated, their civil rights were aggressively guarded and, should they request it, representation by an attorney was available. Every word spoken in the interrogation room was recorded and a vid camera ran continuously. There was only one way to override these safeguards. Like the self destruct protocols for all of Starfleet ships, authorization by three officers, the Captain, the First Officer, and the ship’s CMO was required to override.
Jim and Leonard met Spock at the door and the three men walked into the room to find the Athanarian prisoner, Sulanon, already seated at the interrogation table, his hands on the table still in stasis cuffs.
“Captain, Doctor.” He glanced at Spock a question in his eyes.
“Mr. Spock, my Executive Officer.”
The Athanarian acknowledged Spock with a brief nod. Under the mustache and beard, Sulanon face was alight with recognition and relief. His long lanky body was bent slightly forward, looking at them eagerly, his dark eyes riveted on Jim and Leonard. “It is a relief to see you well and speak with you at last,” he said. His command of Standard was excellent. “My men and I would like to express our sincere sorrow for our treatment of you. I offer no excuses, but perhaps if you are willing to hear, I may explain how this came about. It is quite urgent that you know all that has transpired.”
Now that Jim could see the Athanarian clearly in the bright lights of the briefing room, it was obvious that under his polite words, the man looked agitated, almost desperate. He glanced at Bones and Spock and saw the doctor give an infinitesimal nod. Spock looked patiently stoic.
“I’m very willing to hear what you have to say, Sulanon, your explanation for our capture and imprisonment. Please proceed.” Jim said as they sat down.
“Very well, Captain. I will tell you all.” He settled his long body in his chair as well as he could with the stasis field constricting his lower body. “We, my men and I, serve as both an informal escorts and protectors of the Governor and his aides. Most often it is for ceremonial occasions, ours is a peaceful world. It is a considered a great honor to serve in the Governor’s Militia and it is a hereditary position passed down from father to son. We come from near and far to assemble as needed. Governor Zadra sent word to us of your ship’s coming, of your meeting, of our joining your Federation. He asked us to be present at the designated place and time to await your arrival. We, as is our custom, assembled the evening before, staying in the huts you saw. We had just made camp, when one of the Governor’s aides appeared in our midst. He was very distressed, he had obviously been running and was out of breath, could not speak at first, so it was some little time before he could tell us what happened.”
“It seems that the Governor and his aides were in his office speaking about your visit and the coming treaty negotiations, when 6 men appeared. They were armed with strange weapons, threatened the Governor and his aides. There was much consternation and dismay at their appearance. These men demanded that Governor Zadra allow them to place some devices in the government building. Of course he refused....” Here Solanon paused, pride evident in his demeanor. “Our Governor is a very courageous man. He did not fear these strangers.” He sighed softly. “He is courageous, but only about his own well being and safety. However, they then threatened his advisors and their families. That the Governor could not stand against. Luckily one of his aides was in another room, at the rear of the building in the fresher, and when he heard the altercation, he knew something was wrong. Our government officials do not ever raise their voices,” Sulanon added.
The three men glanced at one another and Spock raised an eyebrow. It would certainly be adventagious to have these people on the Federation Council sitting next to the representatives from Andoria and Tellar, the two most contentious and cantankerous members on the Council. Sarek had once confided to Spock that the two argued and yelled just for the pleasure of agitating others on the Council.
The Athanarian continued. “The aide, Tabor, hid and listened. He heard the threats and realized these six men had no idea your Federation ship was coming. At first he did not know what to do. He knew you were to arrive the next morning and that your lives might be forfeit if you were taken by surprise, not forewarned about these intruders. He also feared that soon they would search the building and find him. So he decided to come to the camp to tell us what had transpired. He ordered us to meet you, hold you safe in the camp and wait until he returned. Under no circumstances were we to let you confront these men or for your ship to do something hasty. He feared for the lives of the Governor, his fellow advisors, their families, and you. He was going back to see if he could discover more, and return to report to us. I accompanied him, but we did not get too close to the house for fear of being seen. We caught glimpses of them as they were carrying equipment from their ship. I did not linger and left him there to discover more.”
Sulanon shuddered and slumped back in his chair. “I returned to the compound and followed orders. We met you, held you in the huts, and waited for Tabor to return to explain to you what had happened, but in the morning we found you gone. The Governor’s aide, Tabor, returned to us. He was quite distressed to find you had escaped. He felt you could assist the Governor, inform your Federation what had transpired, and your ship could somehow help in the rescue. We searched for you in the woods. When we did not find you, we feared the worse. The freezing temperatures, and the wolves who come down from the mountains to hunt....” his voice trailed off.
“And the Governor’s aide?” Jim asked.
“He too searched, but later he returned to the vicinity of the Governor’s house. Tabor had to move most carefully, so as to not chance being discovered. He learned a bit more. Governor Zadra and his aides have not been injured thus far. He discovered they are using one of the unoccupied back rooms to assemble something large in that room. Tabor reported that one man guards the Governor and his aides, the rest of the men work at their task.”
“Did you discover how these men arrived on your world, Sulanon?” Spock asked.
The Athanarian nodded. “They came in a small ship. It is hidden in the trees behind the Governor’s house. It has no marking except a symbol on its side. One of them guards the ship. They go back and forth to it and bring the equipment into the house.”
“A six man transport shuttle of some kind,” Jim mused.
“They are most probably setting up some kind of network, a listening station perhaps,” Spock murmured. “The must have enabled the dampening field from inside the ship in order to hide their arrival.”
“Can you tell us what these men looked like, Sulanon?” Leonard asked. “Did they look like Mr. Spock here? Greenish complexion, pointed ears?”
Sulanon looked carefully at Spock, but shook his head. “No,” he answered. “The ones I saw were ugly, disfigured in appearance. They were tall, dark haired, with boney protrusions along their foreheads, around their eyes and both sides of their necks.”
Jim bent to his padd and brought up an image to show to the Athanarian. “Did they look like this?”
“Yes!” He nodded, shuddering.
“Cardassians!” the three men exclaimed.
A little Chekov love in this chapter. 😢😍
Just An Ordinary Mission
“...many calculations lead to victory, and few calculations to defeat”
“The Art of War”
Sulanon looked at the three men in sudden alarm. “These men are known to you?” He asked, frowning. “They are a part of your Federation?”
“They are not!” Spock responded. “We know very little about Cardassia and its citizens. They have not petitioned for membership in the Federation. On the contrary, all overtures to them from the Federation Council have been ignored or soundly rebuffed.”
“But why did they come to our planet? We have very little of value on our planet, Captain, no minerals, only basic technology, no weapons.”
Jim and Spock eyed each other. “That’s a very good question Sulanon. Mr. Spock, please remove the stasis cuffs from our guest,” Jim ordered. “I think we can proceed with our questions without them.” He saw Bones give him a tiny affirmative nod. The man in front of them was most certainly not a threat.
Spock beckoned to the security guard standing discreetly by the door and she came forward to remove the stasis cuffs. Sulanon sighed softly flexing his calloused, long fingered hands. “Thank you, Captain,” he said, then lapsed into silence.
“Sulanon, do you think you can reproduce the symbol you saw on the shuttle?” Jim asked. “I can give you a padd with a stylus so you can draw it for us.”
“I think I can, Captain. Perhaps not exactly, but close enough.”
“I have mine, Jim,” Leonard said, handing it to him.
Jim cleared the padd, then brought up the drawing program. He unclipped the stylus. “Just touch it to the padd, Sulanon, you will be able to draw lines and add color if you want to.”
“I am familiar with the technology, Captain. I do not own one, they are expensive, but my son has one.” He took the padd and began to draw. After a few minutes he handed it back. Leonard and Spock leaned in to see the drawing.
“It is the symbol of the Obsidian Order,” Spock said.
“Who are these beings, this Obsidian Order, Captain?”
“Mr. Spock, please share with Sulanon what we know about The Cardassian Obsidian Order. “
“Yes, Sir.” Spock leaned forward in his chair. “As you saw, the Cardassians are a humanoid species. Starfleet does not possess extensive data on their society, but what we do know is they are ruthless and xenophobic. Starfleet and the Federation consider them an enemy as do the Klingons and Romulans.” He saw a question in the dark eyes. “Two other ruthless aggressive species, also considered an enemy of the Federation.”
Spock continued. “The Obsidian Order is the Cardassian intelligence organization. It has a reputation of being the most brutally efficient covert organization in the galaxy, even more ruthless than the Tal Shiar, which is the Romulan intelligence agency.”
“I have heard of Romulans” Sulanon said, “but have never seen one.”
“Romulans look like Mr. Spock here,” Leonard interjected. “Very hard to tell Romulans and Vulcans apart. They share a common genetic ancestry from millennia ago.”
Spock nodded albeit reluctantly, and continued speaking ignoring Bones’ interruption.
“The Obsidian Order is greatly feared on Cardassia, with good reason. It is supposed to be under the authority of the Detapa Council, the highest ruling body on Cardassia, but in practice, the Order considers itself above the law, autonomous and free to run its own affairs. The Klingons and Romulans fear their unbridled power, and both of those species would not hesitate to try to eradicate the Order.”
Spock shook his head, a faint frown on his face. It was obvious that his Vulcan sensibilities were offended by the rampant illogic on all sides. “However because of the Organian Peace treaty it is impossible for the Klingons and Cardassians to wage war against each other. The Organians would put a stop to hostilities immediately, therefore I believe The Obsidian Order’s purpose is to use the proximity of your planet to Romulus to spy on them and on the Romulan Star Empire’s Tal Shiar.”
Jim broke in. “Starfleet Intelligence thinks hostilities between Cardassia and the Romulans will escalate. The Obsidian Order wants war and thinks they can win a war with the Romulans. Some Romulan senators agree that war between them is inevitable and should be waged, and they have been vocal about it. The Romulan Imperial Senate disagrees, they don’t want a war with Cardassia, they feel it would severely deplete their military resources.” He grimaced. “What they really want is a war with the Federation. The Star Empire wants to expand their territory into the Alpha quadrant. The Federation feels a war with Romulus would be catastrophic, but if we have to fight, we will!” Jim added grimly.
Spock continued. “If the Obsidian Order operatives are on Athanar, we are prepared to intervene, in fact the Captain has received orders to do so. Your Governor, your planet is now under the protection of Starfleet. Our mission is to rescue Governor Zadra and his aides, apprehend the Obsidian agents and turn them over to Starfleet Intelligence on Terra. Once they have been captured, they will be disavowed by the Cardassian Detapa Council. That is their way. It will be as if they never existed. Things will then return to the present status quo between Cardassia and Romulus. It is an uneasy truce at best, but still far better than an all out war which is sure to impact Federation members.”
“Yes, I see” Sulanon agreed. “We, on Athanar, are a peaceful people. In all if our recorded history, there has never been a war among our people or with other beings.” He lowered his eyes, bowing his head sorrowfully. “We hoped that by joining your Federation peace would continue to be the norm for our planet.”
Leonard cleared his suddenly tight throat. God, he thought. These people wouldn’t stand a chance against Romulans, Cardassians or even a small Klingon raiding party. The Klingons followed a scorched earth policy whenever they encountered a peaceful world.
“We’ll do everything in our power to insure the continued peace on your planet, Sulanon. We’re going to come up with a plan to make sure of it,” Jim assured him. “Now then, Mr. Hendorff’s officers are releasing your men. You’ll be put in our guest quarters. I’m sure you’re hungry. Food and drink will be brought to you. Do you have any dietary restriction?”
Sulanon shook his head. “We are a poor people, Captain, we are not particular about food choices. We eat grains, fruit, and vegetables, and when we can afford it, a little animal protein.”
“Ensign Pak, please take Mr. Sulanon back to the brig area to wait for his men. I’ll notify Lt. Hendorff of the change in status for our guests. Have him provide escorts to the guest quarters, two to a room, and have the mess prepare food for them.”
“We’re a little short of space on Starships,” Jim explained. “Someone will deliver food to all of you and we’ll return your weapons later. No one is allowed to carry weapons on the ship, except for officers in the security department, and then only to escort Ambassadors, Royalty, or prisoners.”
Ensign Pak released Sulanon from the stasis field. She stood close as the Athanarian got to his feet in case he needed help. Jim and the other two men rose too.
“This afternoon we’ll meet again to formulate our mission parameters to rescue Governor Zadra and his aides. Meanwhile, you and your men try to get some rest and eat something.” He motioned for Pak to escort Sulanon out of the interrogation room.
Once the two were gone, he commed Hendorff to join him for further orders. “We’ll convene at 1400 hours this afternoon in my briefing room, Lieutenant. I want Sulanon to sit in, so please have one of your officers escort him to the briefing. He knows the Governor’s house and the area surrounding it intimately and we’ll need that information.”
“Aye, Sir. Don’t worry, I’ll take care of everything.”
“Thanks, Walter. I know you will. You and your team have done an excellent job on this mission. Please pass that on to your department,” Jim smiled at him, clasping him on the shoulder.
“Thank you, Sir, I will,” Hendorff said, a pleased look on his face as he left the room.
Jim looked over to see a slight crease on Spock’s usually smooth forehead. In the short time they’d served together, Jim had learned the art of reading the angle of Spock’s eyebrows at any given time. Right now they were telegraphing that he was not happy with Jim. “Is something wrong, Mr. Spock?”
“Not wrong, per se, Sir, but I do have a concern. I do not believe it is conducive to the efficient running of the ship for a Captain to speak and act so familiarly with his subordinates or offer them frequent praise for merely doing the job they were trained for. Maintaining distance between the Captain and his crew ensures that they see you as the person of ultimate authority of the ship.”
Jim stared at him for a minute, feeling a sudden sensation of surprise and disappointment run through him. Sometimes he forgot that he and Spock were not really friends, that they were not friends who had shared hard times, difficult missions, or shared adventures. The Spock sitting here looking at him with faint disapproval was not the Spock from Delta Vega with whom he’d shared a mind meld. This Spock was not the one who called him ‘old friend’, who looked at him with warmth, affection, and acceptance. This Spock was the one who had accused him of cheating on the Kobayashi Maru. This Spock was the one who’d marooned him on Delta Vega and who had choked him on the bridge. The truth was that this Spock and this Jim really didn’t know each other well at all, and unless it was on the bridge or in the line of duty, they’d hardly interacted at all since their mission began.
Jim sighed internally. Maybe it was the experience of the mind meld he’d shared with Old Spock that made him feel he knew this Spock better than he really did. Maybe the mind meld caused Jim to think this Spock was more accepting of him than he really was.
Jim saw Bones glower belligerently at the Vulcan. Bones made no secret of the fact that he didn’t like or trust Spock. He’d not forgiven him for throwing Jim off the ship, marooning him on icy, dangerous Delta Vega, and then almost choking him to death. Spock’s implied criticism of Jim’s Command style had obviously made him angry again, and Jim knew Bones wouldn’t hold back, berating Spock loud and angrily regardless of his rank or the chain of command.
“It’s alright, Bones,” Jim intervened hastily, putting a gentle hand on Bones’ shoulder before another contretemps between the two men would occur.
“Mr. Spock, every Captain has a different command style. I’m sure mine is very different from Captain Pike’s, but it is my command style. It’s one that I’m comfortable with and, from what I’ve seen of my crew, it’s one they’re comfortable with too. I’ve seen no lack of respect or even the faintest signs of any insubordination. I expect you, as my First Officer, to accept and respect my command choices and style. I hope I’m making myself clear, Mr. Spock.” Jim said, icy blue gaze fixed on him, his usual warm, calm voice taking on a hard edge.
Spock nodded unperturbed. “Perfectly clear, Sir.”
“Good.” Jim relaxed back into his chair. “Please prepare a detailed dossier with every scrap of information you can find on Cardassia, Cardassians, and the Obsidian Order. I want you to brief the away team this afternoon. We already know they use disrupters rather than phasers, so we’ll have to be prepared for that.” Jim drew in a breath prepared to say more, but decided against it. He could feel Bones’ rigid body next to him, best to let Spock go. “You’re dismissed until the briefing, Mr. Spock.”
“Yes, Captain,” Spock said. His shoulders held stiffly, he nodded to both men and left the room,
“Damn it, Jim!” Leonard spluttered angrily, as the door closed. “Where the hell does that bastard get off criticizing you like that, questioning your command style, the way you handle your staff! He’s got a lot of nerve!”
“It’s okay, Bones, calm down. I think Spock got the picture.” Truthfully, although he’d never admit it to Bones, Jim was disappointed by Spock’s outspoken criticism of him. When Spock had come on board at the start of their mission, Jim had been happy he’d chosen to serve with him instead of going to New Vulcan. During these last few weeks of this, their first mission, Jim had thought they were well on the way of finding their footing as Captain and trusted First Officer, on their way to becoming the great Command team that Old Spock had shown him in the mind meld. Obviously his perception had been wrong.
“One step forward, two steps back, I guess.” Jim muttered grimly, looking at the fire in Bones’ eyes. Jim knew his command style was unorthodox. He periodically served a few hours on all shifts to ensure that he knew how his ship ran at any given time. He had the habit of doing “walkabouts”, visiting various departments during his off shifts. He spent some of his off time reviewing Science experiments, new computer codes, or discussing Engineering developments whether with an ensign or with Scotty. It didn’t really matter to Jim who he talked with, he loved interacting with his crew and would continue to do so even if the “by the book” Spock disapproved.
“Yeah, well he’s gotten the picture now, darlin’, you handled it great, but he really pissed me off. Don’t see what the hell a nice, warm, lovely, woman like Nyota sees in that cold blooded Vulcan.”
“Guess it’s true that love is blind.”
“Guess so,” Leonard muttered angrily. “Still gonna’ give that jackass a piece of my mind next time I see him, don’t think I won’t! He’s so damn smug about correct command behavior and maintaining proper distance with subordinates! Ha, that’s a laugh! Ima gonna’ remind him of his own huge lapse of distance with Uhura. For damn sure we’ve all been witnesses to that! Damn pointy eared, self-righteous, close-minded, hypocrite!”
Jim drew in a shaky breath and suddenly wrapped Bones up in strong warm arms. “Thanks for always having my back, Bonesy, for always standing up for me,” he whispered in his ear.
Leonard ran a gentle hand through Jim’s sandy hair. “That’s what I’m here for, darlin’. You’re one of a kind! The most brilliant, beautiful, extraordinary person I’ve ever met, and nobody on this damn boat better ever forget it!”
It was 0200 hours when Scotty beamed the team down, slowly, two by two, right on target. During the briefing, Sulanon had showed them on Jim’s map exactly where the Cardassian shuttle was parked, and after a lively team discussion, Jim decided they’d beam down close by in the surrounding woods.
"Good work, Scotty," muttered Jim quietly into his comm, looking at the pin point accuracy of Scotty’s beam down coordinates. He scanned the perimeter. It looked exactly as he expected, the dense trees, the deep snow, the profound silence, and no sign of life or activity. Once the beam down was completed, he motioned for everyone to come forward. Sulanon, his warriors, Bones, Chekov, Sulu, Hendorff and his handpicked Security contingent all clustered tightly around him waiting for their orders
Jim, with Hendorff at his shoulder, peered through the binoculars at the Cardassian shuttle. Everything looked tranquil, the snowy expanse surrounding the ship broken only by the one lone Cardassian guard walking back and forth close to the shuttle occasionally stomping his feet to keep them warm.
According to Sulanon, there was only one armed sentry patrolling. At the briefing they had discussed how best to take down the Cardassian guard. Jim motioned to Sulu, the ship’s resident Ninja, who promptly went down on his hands and knees crawling silently to the edge of the tree line to check on the sentry. The Cardassian guard had stopped pacing and was now leaning against the shuttle. He looked sleepy and totally relaxed. Sulu raised his phaser, made sure it was on heavy stun, said a swift prayer that the setting would be strong enough, and fired! The sentry dropped to the snow covered ground instantly, silently.
Sulu waited a few seconds to be sure the guard was really unconscious, then stood, and whispered into his comm. “Captain, he’s down. Hendorff, you need to immobilize him fast in case he wakes up.” He looked around carefully for any further sign of life inside the shuttle with its distinctive Obsidian Order signage on it. It was completely dark, obviously empty, totally silent, everything turned off.
Lt. Hendorff knelt by the unconscious Cardassian, placed stasis cuffs around his hands and feet, gagging him securely. He then grabbed the body under the arms to drag over to the waiting doctor.
Leonard ran a tricorder over him, then nodded satisfied. “He’s humanoid enough that this sedative will keep him unconscious at least 4 to 6 hours.” He pressed a hypo to the Cardassian’s neck. “He’s gonna’ feel real awful afterwards...for a long while," Leonard added softly.
“Can’t feel too bad about that,” Jim whispered. “One less Cardassian to worry about. Okay, we’ll leave him here for the time being. Chekov,” he whispered into his comm.
“Right here, Keptin.” His curls bouncing, Chekov came forward.
“Can you get into the shuttle? I think the dampening field has its origin in there and I want you to disable it.”
“Of course, Keptin. It will take me a few moments though.”
“A few minutes?” Leonard whispered unbelievably.
Jim grinned. “Kid’s even smarter than Scotty...or Spock.”
“What?” Leonard looked unbelievably at Jim. “Smarter than Spock?”
Jim nodded, eyes riveted on Chekov. “I have access to everyone’s test scores, Captain’s privilege you know....” He pulled his night goggles up to his head to look side eyed at Leonard. “Including yours, Bones,” he grinned. “Chekov‘s scores are the highest on the ship, they’re off the charts, then Spock’s, then you, Scotty, and me, we’re sorta tied, then Ny.
Leonard opened his mouth to respond then closed it again.
Jim snorted. “How do you think Pasha graduated the Academy at barely 17. Kid’s a certified genius. We’re lucky to have him.” They watched as Pavel fiddled with his padd for a few moments, then as if by magic, the shuttle door opened. Chekov climbed in and they waited, holding their breaths.
In a few minutes Chekov came back out face shining. “It is done, Keptin. You vere correct, the dampening field did originate from the shuttle. I have disabled it. I stored the equations in my comm, Mr. Scott will be wery pleased to have them.”
See? Jim telegraphed silently to Bones, kid’s a genius. “Good man, Pavel, that’ll make Scotty happy. Let’s head on to the Governor’s house. Sulanon, you lead the way.”
Stepping back into the tree line, Sulanon led the way. The Governor’s house was not far, he whispered to Jim, and indeed it was not. He stopped and pointed through the trees. The house sat in a small clearing, with a circular stone walk around it. By Earth standards it was a simple edifice, modest in size, not palatial or ostentatious as many government buildings often were. It was made of timbered wood, with large windows, all of which were dark.
Jim raised his hand to get everyone’s attention, and spoke into his comm. “We’ll make our way to the building, I’m sure Mr. Chekov can by pass the entry code and get us inside with no problem.” Chekov nodded. “As soon we’re inside we'll split up as we discussed. Lt. Sulu will lead his team in search of the Governor and his aides. The rest of us will go straight to the equipment room which is located at the back of the building as the Governor’s aide reported to Sulanon. I don't know how many operatives are in that room, so let’s be careful. Mr. Sulu, I’m sure the Governor and his aides are being held in another room, so there will probably be a guard. Take him down immediately. If they’re even still alive, was his unspoken thought.
“Sulu when you find them, get them the hell out of there quick as you can. Make your way to the rendezvous point and if it’s possible come back, we may need your help.”
"On it, Sir.”
They made their way cautiously to the front door. Chekov looked at the code on the door lock, fiddled with it, and unlocked it. The door opened silently. The front room was pitch dark, everything eerily quiet. Jim tricorder in hand, night goggles showing the way to the hall, led them. He stopped and mouthed silently, "Cardassian life signs," he pointed down the hallway to the right.
"They’re in the back room," Jim whispered into their earpieces. "Shoot first, ask questions later. All phasers on heavy stun, people. Bones, behind me. Let's go!”
Jim and the team walked silently down the long hallway. The room door was only partially closed, and they burst in immediately, opening fire! The scream of phasers set on heavy stun echoed in the small room. Jim caught a brief glimpse of the semicircle of stupefied, shocked Cardassian faces seated in front of a large table with several big square communication devices. The disrupters at their waists shone weirdly blue-black in the glow of the screens. Then his awareness narrowed to the urgent need to stun and subdue the Cardassians.
Jim saw his people, some standing, and some kneeling as Cardassian bodies thudded to the floor unconscious. He crouched down and dove on top of a warrior who was still conscious and aiming his disruptor in the general direction of Bones. Jim grabbed hold of the disrupter, holding on desperately, but the Cardassian was tremendously strong and the disrupter was coming closer and closer to Jim’s head. Suddenly, he felt rather than saw Bones hold his phaser to the man’s arm and fire. THe Cardassian agent went limp. Grunting, Jim pushed him off and got to his feet. Breathing heavily he managed to find his voice. "Thanks, Bones.”
“Jim! Jim!” Leonard put an arm around him. “Are you alright? Are you hurt? What were you thinkin’ jumping at him like that!”
Jim leaned into Bones for just a minute. “I was thinking he was going to shoot you, Bones. Scared the shit out of me!” He looked around at the strewn unconscious bodies and grinned suddenly, teeth flashing white. “Guess they’re all out for the count. Sedate them, Doctor. I don’t want them waking up until they’re in the brig.”
“Yes, Captain. Got just the med for them.” Leonard went from body to body with his hypo. “We need to keep an eye on them Jim. I’m not sure how long the sedative will last, they’re humanoid, but not human.”
“They’ll be stasis cuffed, Bones. Hands and feet. That plus the sedative will keep them immobile. Chekov,” he called.
“Start taking this equipment apart, Ensign. Notify Mr. Scott that the dampening field is gone, and have him beam everything on board. It would be a shame to destroy this equipment. I’m sure we can learn a great deal from it.” He smiled at Chekov. “One more thing to make Scotty happy.”
“He vill be wery happy, Sir. I agree it vould be a shame to destroy it; ve vill learn a great deal from it.”
“Mr. Hendorff lets get these men in the brig. Send a couple of your men to pick up the other Cardassian. You and some of your team will beam back on board with the prisoners. Make sure they have no contact with each other, I want them completely separated in the brig.”
“Captain,” Sulu came rushing into the room. “We found them! We found the Governor and his aides! We need Dr. McCoy right away, Sir. They’re in very bad shape. Looks like the Cardassians haven’t fed them or given them water!” The usually placid, calm Sulu was red with anger. “Or any bathroom breaks!”
Just An Ordinary Mission
“Great results, can be achieved with small forces.”
The Art of War
Jim gave a sigh of relief as he entered his quarters. He was feeling the effects of a very long eventful day. He pulled off his boots, uniform and underwear on his way to the shower, and threw everything in the laundry Water rations be damned, it would be a water shower, as hot as he could stand it. Once the heat of the shower was to his liking, he got in, leaned his head against the shower wall and let the water run off his aching back and neck. He sighed. This mission, for all intents and purposes, was over. He had debriefed Chris Pike at length and had received orders to drop the Cardassian agents off at Starbase 6. Star Fleet Intelligence would meet the ship and take them to an unknown location on Earth for intensive interrogation. Pike also told him to inform the Athanariams and the away team that the death of the Athanarian Governor’s aide would not go unpunished. Until they reached Starbase 6, the Cardassians would be held in the Enterprise brig under heavy guard, separated from each other, incommunicado.
While they had been unconscious, Geoffrey and Christine had examined each Obsidian agents, scannng them thoroughly, making sure that all medical data about Cardassian tissue, blood, bones, and genome type was recorded for the Starfleet Medical data base. It would be a valuable addition of yet another alien species of which little was known. After Geoffrey pronounced them healthy, Lt. Hendorff and his men moved them to the brig, turned on the force fields and activated the one way windows.
No one, including Jim and Spock, would question or interact with the Obsidian agents. As Pike said, the less contact any of his crew had with them the better for everyone. It was best if the Obsidian Order didn’t know a thing about Jim, his ship, and his crew. Pike also reiterated that as far as the Cardassian Government was concerned, the agents had now ceased to exist. There would be no questions asked or diplomatic inquiries made about what happened to them.
Jim sighed tiredly as he dried off. He went to the living area sofa to stretch out, clad only in his oldest flannel sleep pants and softest t-shirt. There was no use going to bed, he wouldn’t be able to sleep until Bones got in. The doctor was still in the Med Bay battling to save the lives of the Athanarian Governor and his aides.
Jim thought back to Sulu’s shocked description of what he and Sulanon saw in that back room where the Governor and his aides were found. Sulu, phaser in hand, had immediately stunned the one shocked Cardassian guard, quickly putting the stasis cuffs on him. The Governor and his aides were all unconscious, tied in straight back chairs, their heads lolling on their chests. The foul odor in the room was disgusting. Sulu and Sulanon were horrified to see that the Athanarians had soiled themselves repeatedly during their captivity. It was also obvious from their appearance they had not been fed or given water; their skin and lips were bleeding, badly cracked from dehydration.
Sulu and Sulanon had untied the Governor and his aides, laying them gently on the floor. The shocked Sulu saw that one of them, an older man, was already dead. He had rushed out to find Bones who, after giving a horrified look at the Athanarian’s condition, had swiftly gotten to work. The doctor quickly enlisted the help of Sulu and Sulanon, rapidly giving orders handing them emergency hypos telling them what to do. Jim came in and stood at the door, watching helplessly, communicator in hand, ready for Bones’ orders.
Bones turned to Jim. “We need to beam them to the Med Bay immediately, tell Christine and M’Benga to prepare for triage. Notify them that one man is already dead, his body will need to be placed in the morgue. I’ll be there as soon as I can.”
After contacting Geoffrey, Jim ordered Scotty to beam all the unconscious Athanarians directly to the Med Bay. Bones went too, promising Jim an update as soon as possible.
Hendorff and his men had placed the Cardassian agents on the floor of the tech room. The rest of the team watched as the Obsidian agents, accompanied by Hendorff and his men, were beamed up to the ship and placed in the brig.
Jim, Sulu, Chekov, Sulanon and his men, then scoured the Governor’s house looking for more evidence and more tech, but they’d found nothing. Jim then ordered Sulu, accompanied by Chekov, to confiscate the Cardassian shuttle and fly it to the Enterprise shuttle bay. There, under the watchful eye of Scotty, all its on board electronics and tech would be carefully examined. Afterward, the shuttle would be taken apart to see what the engineers could learn from it.
Sulanon ordered his warriors to stay behind and look for Tabor, the Governor’s aide who had escaped capture. He informed his men that he was going back to the Enterprise with Jim so he would be there when the Governor and his aides regained consciousness. It would be reassuring for them to see a familiar face when they woke up. Jim, a product of too many disorienting wake ups in the Med Bay, agreed with him. Seeing the familiar faces of Bones, Geoffrey, and Christine, when he woke from an injury or surgery, was always comforting and reassuring.
With difficulty, Jim brought his mind back to the present. He would pass the time until Bones came in by working on his formal report to Chris Pike. The final part of his Mission report had to wait for Bones’ update on the Athanarian patients. Bones, along with Geoffrey would write their own detailed medical report to Dr. Boyce at Starfleet Medical. Between all the new medical information about the Cardassian species, and the additional medical information on the Athanarians, Jim knew it would be a lengthy report. At least, Jim thought thankfully, he wouldn’t have to debrief with Starfleet Intelligence. Chris Pike had assured him that he would take care of that at his end.
Jim worked steadily, stopping only once to get an apple and a glass of milk. He looked at the chronometer...it was almost midnight. Bones and the Med team had been working steadily since they’d beamed up the Athanarians. He must be exhausted, but Jim knew he wouldn’t quit until he was sure his patients were out of danger.
Jim got up and went to the kitchenette. He fixed Bones a peanut butter and marshmallow fluff sandwich, and poured a glass of milk. That sandwich was Bones’ guilty pleasure, a treat from his childhood that Ellie, his mama, would prepare for him when she felt he needed cosseting. She had passed that information on to Jim during one of their visits to Georgia insisting he would need it in the future. Jim only brought out the “big guns” sandwich when he deemed Bones would need it.
Jim looked up from his padd as the door opened. “Bones!” Jim exclaimed jumping to his feet. He felt his whole body suddenly relax. Bones was home now. He took one look at the exhausted face and pulled him gently to the sofa. “Sit down, Bonsey, you look so tired.”
“I am dead tired, darlin.’” Leonard laid his padd on the table. “Been on my feet goin’ on 14 hours. It was touch and go with some of ‘em. They were in real bad shape. Starved, dehydrated, covered in filth. Before we bathed them, we had to cut their clothing off, it was all stuck to them.” He sighed tiredly. “My staff was amazing, gentle, and professional in spite of how horrible it was. As you know, one of them was already dead. His heart couldn’t take the punishment. A couple of the others we almost lost, but we managed to pull them through. They’re all goin’ to make it, Jim, no thanks to those barbarians.” His eyebrows knit together in a fierce scowl. “Jim, you know me, I hold my medical oaths sacred, but I sure wish we could give those bastards a taste of their own medicine.”
“I know, Bones. I feel the same, but Chris assured me they will pay for what they did to the Governor and for the murder of his aide. I hope they end up on Rura Penthe. You know being incarcerated there, working in the dilithum mines, it’s as good as a death sentence.”
“It’s no more than they deserve, heartless barbarians,” muttered Leonard, closing his eyes tiredly.
Jim knelt. “Let me take off your boots, sweetheart,” he said, drawing one of Bones’ booted foot up to his knee.
“Jim, no!” Leonard protested, cheeks flushing. “You don’t have to do that. I can do it.”
“I want to.” Jim pulled off one of the boots. “Your feet are hot from standing so long.” He took the foot in his hand and gently massaged the ball, arch, and heel.
Leonard groaned in bliss at the feel of those strong talented fingers. Jim grinned. “Feels good?”
“Good? Hell, it feels fantastic! Thanks, darlin’” His hazel eyes looked lovingly down at Jim, giving him that tender, rare smile he saved just for Jim and his Joanna.
Jim did the same to the other foot. “Sit here for a minute, Bones. I fixed you a snack. I know you missed dinner.”
“I did. I sent Geoff and Christine to get something, but I never got ‘round to it.”
Jim brought him the plate with the sandwich and the glass of milk. “Here, eat up, then you can take a hot shower and get to bed.”
Leonard took a bite of the sandwich and grunted happily, his eyes closing in bliss. “PB and marshmallow fluff, my favorite! Thanks, darlin’,” he said wolfing it down, chasing it with the glass of milk.
Leonard swallowed. “I left Sulanon in the Med Bay. He wanted to stay with the Governor and his aides, so we fixed him up a cot. He’s a good man, Jim, loyal as they come. I also left a comm with him, his men will let him know if they find the missing aide. I sent Geoff and Christine to get some sleep earlier on. They didn’t wanna’ go, but I insisted. Christine just came back and took over right now at midnight. I’ll go relieve her at 0600, unless there’s an emergency. So far everyone’s still stable...sedated, but stable.” He stopped talking, his burst of energy completely gone.
“Then let’s get you to bed. Off to the shower with you. There’s plenty of hot water left on our rations.” He hauled the protesting Bones to his feet and pushed him gently to the bathroom. Jim stood at the door to be sure Bones was upright and awake enough to undress and get into the shower by himself.
Leonard stripped quickly and stood for a minute looking intently at himself in the mirror.
“Bones? Buddy?” Jim looked quizzically at him.
“Jim,” Leonard asked, peering closely at his reflection. Jim saw his face was serious, but his eyes were glazed, foggy with fatigue. “Do you think I should part my hair on the other side? D’ya think it’d look better, more professional that way and it wouldn’t stick up so bad?” He ran his hand through his thick dark hair, moving it to the other side, looking at his changed reflection dazedly, curiously.
Jim didn’t laugh hysterically, because damn it, he was a Starfleet Captain, and Starfleet Captains had iron self control. He couldn’t, however, control the twitch of his lips.
“No, baby. Don’t you touch a hair on your head, Bones McCoy. I love the way it looks when it’s a little unkempt. It’s a tremendously sexy look on you.”
Leonard peered at his reflection again nodding sagely in agreement. “I think you’re right, darlin’. Guess I’ll keep it the way it is.” He stood there looking serenely at himself in the mirror, ignoring the running water.
Jim gave him a gentle shove. “Come on, Bonsey. In you go.” He waited until he was sure Bones was washing himself, then left him. He grinned, shaking his head in amusement. His beloved, precious doctor was loopy with exhaustion and hilarious with it.
When Leonard came out of the shower, he looked more alert, his hazel eyes sharp and focused once again. Jim was already in bed. He patted Leonard’s side of the bed enticingly. “Sleep now. We’ll talk tomorrow. I’m going with you to the Med Bay in the morning, hopefully I’ll be able to speak with Governor Zadra. I’ve been given authority to invite Athanar to join the Federation without all the long formalities. Pike said that Fleet, the Federation Council, and Starfleet Intelligence are alarmed about what happened with the Cardassians. If Governor Zadra agrees to join us, support for Athanar will be coming fast. They’re still vulnerable out here in this part of the quadrant.”
“S’ good, darlin’,” Leonard murmured, getting under the covers moaning blissfully at the feel of the cool sheets and warm blanket.
Jim grinned at the sound. “Come here, you.” He pulled Leonard’s pliant body to him and wrapped him in warm arms. Leonard sighed cuddling closer, giving Jim a clumsy kiss on his stubbled cheek, and was instantly asleep. Jim kissed the dark head under his chin, pressed a kiss against the shower warm skin of Bones' throat and jaw. He kissed his grumpy, brilliant, doctor, kissed him with infinite tenderness, infinite love. His whole world, all long limbs and warm, silky, skin, was here in his arms and Jim was content. Sleep claimed him.
Jim and Leonard walked into the Med Bay promptly at 6 am. The lights were still dimmed and Christine was at her computer signing her shift report.
“Hi Boss,” she handed Leonard her padd. “They’re all stable, still asleep, and they rested comfortably all night. Sulanon slept for a while. He kept me company.” She smiled. “He’s a very nice person, has led an interesting life.”
“Thanks, Christine. You go on now, get breakfast and some sleep. You’re not to come back until noon, got it?
“Will do, Boss. Gamma shift nurses are here until 0800. Dr. M’Benga will come in then with the Beta shift. You’re not on after that until tomorrow Alpha, so get some rest, Doctor.”
Leonard mocked growled at her. “Who’s in charge here, Christine Marie...go on now, shoo, off with you!”
“I’m shooing, I’m shooing!” Leonard’s lips twitched, watching her fondly as she walked away. He shook his head. What would he do without Christine, her professionalism, her competency, her good sense?
The two men made their way to the bio beds. Sulanon was sitting on his cot looking with patient eyes at the Governor, obviously waiting for him to wake up.
As if on cue, the Governor slowly opened his eyes, looked around the Med Bay obviously bewildered. He turned his head and saw Sulanon sitting close beside him, then looked around again trying to make sense of his surroundings. Leonard moved in to his field of vision. “Governor Zadra,” Leonard spoke softly, soothingly. “I’m Dr. Leonard McCoy. Remember me? You invited me and Captain Kirk a few days ago to come to your planet to meet with you? You’re on a United Federation of Planets Starship, The USS Enterprise. You and your aides are quite safe here. The men who did this to you were caught and are being held prisoners in our brig, our prison. They will be turned over to the proper authorities in a few days.”
There was no response. Leonard looked at Jim. Talk to him.
“Governor Zadra,” Jim prodded gently. “I’m Captain Kirk. Do you remember we spoke on our comms about our coming here to honor your request to join the Federation? I’m here to tell you that your planet has been accepted into the United Federation of Planets. Your people are now under our protection. Do you understand, Sir?”
“Sulanon,” Governor Zadra whispered, reaching out a hand. Sulanon hurriedly leaned forward to grasp it.
“Yes, your Excellency?”
“Is this true? Those evil men are no more? My people are safe?”
“It is true, Excellency. The evil ones are in prison here on the ship. They will not hurt anyone ever again.”
“My aides, Sulanon? Are they well, alive?”
Sulanon sighed, his eyes sad. “All but one, Excellency. Your aide, Hovar, died. His heart could not withstand the suffering.”
Zadra closed his eyes, his face twisting in grief. “He was a good man, Sulanon, loyal, kind, honorable. I am sorely grieved.”
“I’m very sorry, Governor,” Leonard said gently. “We have cleaned his body and he lies in our morgue. We wanted to wait until you or his family could tell us what your wishes are for him.”
“Thank you, Doctor. It is our custom to have a mourning ceremony with family and friends presided by one of our holy men, or as you would say, a priest. Then the body is cremated and the ashes are given to the family. Each family on Athanar has a designated place, a piece of land close to their domicile where the ashes of family members are returned to the ground. A small marker is placed there to commemorate the life of the loved one.” He looked at Jim. “When may my aides and I return to Athanar, Captain?”
“As soon as you and your people feel well enough, Sir. We can take you back by shuttle or transport you. Also, we can formalize your entry into the Federation before you leave. There are just a couple of treaty signatures to take care of. Please be assured that from now on, Athanar is under the protection of the Federation and Starfleet. Your people will be safe.”
“It is what I hoped for, Captain. It is my duty and privilege to keep my people safe.”
Leonard looked closely at his patient. The Governor looked tired, sad, worn out. “I think that’s enough talk for now, Sir. You need to rest. You and the Captain can take care of additional business later.”
Zadra nodded wearily. “I will rest now. Sulanon, please stay close by, I will have need of you later. We must tell Hovar’s family of his death as soon as possible.”
“Yes, your Excellency.” His eyes asked Leonard the question: is it all right for me to stay?
Leonard nodded reassuringly and he and Jim withdrew. Leonard went back to his office to finish the long report that he was writing to Dr. Boyce and Jim reported to the bridge.
At mid-day, Sulanon found Jim in the mess grabbing a quick meal. He reported that Tabor had been found. The aide had been frantic at finding the Governor’s house totally empty and the Cardassian shuttle gone. Sulanon’s men calmed and reassured him, but also had to tell him the sad news about Hovar’s death.
“Captain. The Governor and his aides would like to leave later today. He is feeling stronger after his rest, and he insists his people need him.” He gave Jim a tight smile and stroked his beard. “It is best if he returns to his home, Captain. His heart yearns for the peace and tranquility of his planet and he needs to be with his people.”
Jim smiled in understanding. “I understand that feeling very well, Sulanon. I’ll draw up the paperwork immediately. It’s an official document, this treaty, so it’s printed on real paper. We’ll sign it, each party retaining a copy, and afterward the Governor and his aides can go home. The ship will stay here for a few days. Fleet wants Athanar to feel safe. Our presence here is an assurance that our ship will be the first of many Federation ships that will visit Athanar.”
“Captain.” Sulanon cleared his throat. “Before you leave, perhaps you and the doctor will honor my men and I by joining us at the compound for a Governor’s Guild mid-day meal?” He looked shyly at Jim.
“It will be our honor, Sulanon. We’ll be there.”
And so it was. The formal Federation treaty was signed by Jim, the Governor and his aides. After assuring the Governor the ship would be on patrol around the planet for a few more days, there was a short formal leave taking. The Governor and his group were ferried down planet in Copernicus by Lt. Sulu. The Governor issued an invitation to Jim and his crew to visit Athanar in the next couple of days. Jim, pleased that his crew could go off ship for a few hours of shore leave, accepted the invitation.
The day of the Guild meal, Jim left the con in Spock’s hands, and remembering the coldness of the compound, they dressed warmly. They thoroughly enjoyed the camaraderie and delicious food cooked over the open camp fire. Jim and Leonard told the Guild funny stories about their Academy days, and about their mission. Sulanon and his men talked about life on Athanar, about their families, their children, their jobs. Sulanon also told them about the mourning ceremony for the Governor’s aide that had taken place the day before, how all of them had attended and how it had brought peace and comfort to the Governor and to the aide’s family. The meal and conversation went on until finally it was time to leave. They parted with mutual good wishes and a genuine deep respect for each other.
Now with everything taken care of, Jim was back on the bridge to give the crew their new orders. “Plot a course to Starbase 6 to drop off our prisoners, Mr. Chekov. Warp factor 4, Mr. Sulu.” Since it was almost time for shift change, he relinquished the con to Spock a few minutes early and made his way to the haven of his quarters to find Bones already there.
“Hi darlin’,” Leonard turned soft hazel eyes to Jim. Leonard put his arms around him and leaned his forehead against Jim’s, his hands gently cradling his face. “Geoff kicked me out early since miracle of miracles we have no patients. I fixed us a nice dinner. Thought it’d be nice to eat in instead of going to the mess.”
“Perfect. Thanks, Bones,” Jim breathed in contently, as Leonard ran his thumbs over Jim’s cheekbones. Jim tilted his head up to savor the gentle touch. It felt soft and loving, perfect in all the best ways. It was exactly what Jim needed. His eyes caressed Bones’ beloved face and Bones gave him a tender smile, then gripped the back of his neck and captured Jim’s lips in a slow soft kiss. His doctor always knew what he needed, sometimes even better than Jim did himself. Tonight, as always, Bones knew Jim needed this time to decompress, to leave this mission behind, to deposit his heavy load of responsibilities outside their door for a few hours. He needed the coziness of their quarters, some delicious comfort food, and the loving attention of Bones. Jim linked their hands together and Leonard led him away from the pain, sorrow, and ugly cruelty they had witnessed on Athanar to the haven of their small intimate dining area and to the warmth and comfort of their shared meal.