After four years in deep space, Jim Kirk really thought he had seen it all. He was sure after the silicon life forms, ancient gods, worlds that were controlled by supercomputers, and that one planet with the Nazis, there couldn't possibly be anything left that would surprise him. He was not that green captain that had been awarded the fleet's star ship due to one part luck, one part genius, and eight parts having the best crew in the fleet.
So with only three months left in their first legendary five year mission, Beta Micron V would be the Enterprise’s final stop in deep space before she would start her long return trip to Earth. They still had a few more star clusters to map and a formation of a new nebula to catch, but besides that this would be their last stop.
The Enterprise was already being scheduled for a long shake down and rebuild before the top brass would decide what to do with her next. Jim knew she was not the young lady she had been when he received her all those years ago just like how he was not the young man he had been when he was first given his commission.
Jim had already started the long process of filing commendations for members of his crew. He knew that most of his crew would not be returning for another five year jaunt into deep space. He also was not sure that the admiralty was in a hurry to send him out either. Through the Federation's long range frequencies and his few and far between conversations with the top brass, all indications showed that they wanted him to stay around and teach at the academy for a few years before sending him out again. They wanted him to train their newest and brightest cadets and endow them with his experiences and tactics. He was older now, and he hoped wiser. He was not the same reckless, angry young man he had been when he had been first recruited into Starfleet.
However, he wasn't sure the admiralty would appreciate his tactics. Anyone who saw him work knew he was not a by-the-book captain. He had a tendency to leap first and consider the consequences later. He relied more on his phaser and 'making the waters mucky' than sitting down for long negotiations. He was a doer not a planner.
He knew it gave his senior command staff many grey hairs especially Bones and Spock. He was called lucky more often than not. Jim saw it as intuition.
Beta Micron V was on the far edge of the Beta quadrant. Star charts and gravitational fields showed it was the last planet before a large expanse of deep space. It would be many, many light years to the next inhabitable planet.
Federation records showed that Beta Micron V had never been visited by the Federation or pre-Federation planets before. However, initial scans had shown that the planet was class M. The subspace chatter that Uhura had been able to pick up from the surface of the planet indicated that the planet's inhabitants had long discovered warp drive. They just did not seem to use it. That intrigued Jim. He could not manage a civilization that did not involve space travel once it was discovered. He could not imagine being grounded after living in space for so long. It was home. More home than Earth had ever been.
Once they sent in the reports; the admiralty immediately saw it as a strategic stronghold for the Federation’s growth and the impending war with the Klingons and Romulans that was long overdue. As a result, Jim's orders were clear: ‘obtain trading rights and persuade them to join the Federation’.
The 'any means possible’ was implied.
In nearly five years, Jim had almost a near perfect record for obtaining trade arrangements minus the Organian fiasco which he swore was not his fault. That fiasco, which had occurred very early on during the mission, had resulted in a cold war standoff between the Klingons and the Federation. Both sides scoffed at the idea of peace. Even Jim, who had seen the images during his mind meld with Old Spock from that other universe where Klingon and Federation peace had been achieved, was skeptical. In that time, the spontaneous and premature explosion of Praxis had caused the alliance to form; however, in this universe Admiral Marcus had already commanded Khan to destroy it.
War was inevitable. The Organian treaty had just prolonged the inevitable intergalactic war that Admiral Marcus had predicted more than six years prior.
But this would be Jim’s last major assignment for this mission, and Jim wanted it to end on a positive note. As a result, he was cautious. He handpicked his best away team when he first received the orders. He was not leaving anything to chance.
However as they reached hailing range, it was the denizens of Beta Micron V who contacted them first.
A female voice filtered through the Enterprise's com links. "Oh ship from the stars, your presence was prophesied from the heavens. Your arrival is heralded by the prophets to bring us all into the dawn of a new era."
Jim looked around at his bridge crew. Each of their faces, even Spock’s in his limited range of emotions, mirrored his own startled look. His fingers hovered over the red alert button.
Jim directed his gaze at his communication’s officer. “Lieutenant Uhura, did you open the hailing frequencies?”
“No, Captain,” Uhura responded curtly. Jim could see her hair bristling. Of course Uhura would not have prematurely opened hailing frequencies.
"Fascinating," Spock said. He lifted an eyebrow.
Jim slid his fingers to the yellow alert button and quickly depressed it. The silent yellow klaxon activated throughout the Enterprise.
"Open hailing frequencies, lieutenant.” He was not taking any chances with his ship or crew. The admiralty might want a trade agreement; however, Jim was not willing to risk his crew or ship on it especially since they were so close to going home.
Moments later, a female form appeared on the video screen. Jim immediately noted that the inhabitants of Beta Micron V were humanoids. The female had pale skin. She looked so similar to him that Jim was willing to bet if she was on Earth, nobody would be able to tell that she was not human. The only difference was that she was heavily clothed in a robe that was embellished with highly elaborate decorations. She seemed to be sitting down on an equally elaborate chair. The embellishments were made of gold, diamonds and other gemstones.
“This is Captain James T. Kirk of the USS Enterprise.” Jim started. He decided against mentioning the message that he had received from the planet’s surfaces. “We come in peace. We would like to talk and share ideas between your people and the United Federation of Planets.”
It seemed his response pleased the female. A smile was a universal signal for non-hostility despite Spock’s beliefs that smiling was a very ‘human’ trait. “It is a pleasure to meet you, Captain and your crew.” She nodded at each member of his bridge crew. “I am S’ara, leader of N’irtha. I welcome you. I too desire to discuss peace; however, many of my people are currently consumed by a terrible illness.”
“We are equipped with highly advanced medical technology and my own medical team have discovered and learned many new remedies and cures throughout our travels. Might I offer our assistance? Then we can talk peace?” Jim smiled his million dollar smile.
S’ara nodded. “That would be most agreeable. I will send rendezvous coordinates to your ship. We look forward to meeting you and your chief medic.” The link disconnected at that moment.
“Transporter room to bridge,” Scotty’s voice echoed through the bridge.
Jim canceled the yellow alert before responding. “Kirk here.”
“We have just received the coordinates from the surface, Captain.”
“Stand by, Mr. Scott.”
“Captain,” Spock stated. Jim watched as Spock walked quickly and briskly from his science station to Jim’s chair. Jim had been waiting for this. He did not doubt that Spock would not have a thousand critiques for what had just transpired. After nearly seven years, Jim had long learned to handle Spock’s criticisms.
“I don’t advise sending only you and the doctor to a planet we know nothing of.”
"Duly noted Mr. Spock." Jim nodded warily. It seemed Spock also caught the nuisances of S’ara’s parting words. “Mr. Spock, do sensors show any abnormal readings?”
“Starfleet wants these trading agreements. I doubt they will be pleased if we blotch it due to over analysis. We’ve been in tighter binds than this before.” Jim smiled grimly. Some of their missions still gave him nightmares. He clapped his hands on Spock’s shoulders. “I highly doubt S’ara has malicious implications. Dr. McCoy and I will beam down first. However, if you do not hear from us within the half hour, beam down a security detail.”
Jim nodded before turning around. He pressed the com link button on his chair. “Kirk to Dr. McCoy.”
“McCoy here,” Bones’ voice echoed through the bridge. Jim bet that Bones had heard the transmission and would require no explanation.
“Meet me in transporter room 2.”
“Standard medical equipment.” It was not phrased as a question. In all the time Jim had known Bones, he rarely questioned the other man’s medical knowledge. However, despite their nearly decade long friendship, there were still certain protocols they still followed.
“Yes. Kirk out.”
Jim stepped out of his chair. “Mr. Spock, you have the conn.”
The last thing he saw as the turbo lift doors closed was Spock sinking into his chair. It was a scene he had long grown accustomed to over the years. He tried not to think too much about their initial jaunt through space when he and Spock had fought for the right to the captain’s chair.
Bones was waiting for him in the transporter room. Jim immediately noticed the small black satchel that hung loosely next to Bones’ hips. He was hovering over the console as he spoke with Scotty. Jim marched forward and lightly slapped Bones on the shoulders. Bones immediately turned on the balls of his feet.
“Ready Bones?” Jim grinned, one of his iconic shit eating grins. Despite Spock’s and his own apprehensions, Beta Micron V was still a new planet. New planets meant new things and places to see and study, and that made Jim excited. He bounced onto the transporter pad.
Bones followed, grousing about all the hazards of transporter travel. After nearly ten years, Jim had grown accustomed to Bones’ grumbling. Jim had longed learned Bones was not nearly as grumpy as he pretended to be. He did not hate the things he complained about nearly as much as he complained about them especially since he complained about Jim the most. Jim watched as Bones stepped onto the transporter pad next to him before nodding at Scotty through the transporter window. “Energize, Mr. Scott.”
“Aye, Captain,” Scotty said happily. Scotty was always happy to send people down to their fates… dooms? Jim was not sure anymore.
Jim felt the familiar sensation of the transporter beam. As his molecules degenerated, Jim mildly entertained the thought that Bones might be correct. However seconds later when both he and Bones regenerated on the surface of Beta Micron V, all those thoughts faded from his mind.
Transporters were so much easier than shuttle travel.