The Sagacitans were assholes.
They were a newly-discovered race of powerful telepaths who'd been doing space exploration for about eight hundred years now. That was all Spock had been able to tell them before the entire bridge crew had been zapped onto their planet.
Spock, Uhura, Sulu, Bones, Chekov, and Jim were all chained to the wall of some sort of ceremonial room, more of a coliseum, really, with an open ceiling. Only their ankles and their wrists were pinned down by the stone-and-metal chains, but that was enough. Not even Spock could break out of them, and he had tried. Uhura had already picked up bits and pieces of their language and was using it to talk to the three Sagacitans in the room, their blue skin and massive heads almost glowing in the starlight. Bones was grumbling about how he should visit the bridge less often if this shit kept happening. Jim half agreed, because he didn't want Bones in this situation, but at the same time Bones made these horrifying situations a lot less scary. Sulu and Spock were quietly talking, probably strategizing--they couldn't do that with Jim because they were chained all the way on the other side of the room. Chekov was...quiet.
He was completely still, looking up at the sky, and pressed as close to the wall as possible. Given that he was already the smallest member of the crew (and the youngest; he'd turned eighteen right after the Khan fiasco), he was already the smallest target. Yet one of the Sagacitans, the tallest male, had been staring at him since they arrived.
He was chained right next to Jim, so Jim leaned over as far as he could and asked quietly, "Are you okay?"
Chekov looked at him, startled. "I'm fine, Keptain. I'm trying to figure out vhere ve are."
"Sagacita," Jim offered with a sarcastic twitch of his lips. He couldn't offer anything else; they hadn't had time to study the maps, terrain, nations, anything.
Chekov shook his head and motioned to the sky. "Giwen the positions of the stars, vhich ones are wisible and vhich aren't, ve're on the northern hemisphere of the planet." His voice started to get fast the more he talked, given away his excitement about solving a scientific problem, despite the situation around it. "Enterprise vas over the twenty-sewenth parallel vhen ve left, mowing vith the rotation of the planet at 28,000 kilometers an hour, right ower the equator. Assuming that hasn't changed, she's now over the thirty-third parallel. Also vhen ve vere taken, parallels four through nineteen vere in night. It vas wery dark vhen ve arrived an hour ago, so that cancels sewenteen through nineteen. It's still dark, so that cancels four through six. So, ve are on the northern hemisphere of the planet between the sewenth and sewenteenth parallels, and Enterprise is almost directly on the other side of the planet from us and, considering the chill, a bit south."
Jim blinked at him. "Um..."
Chekov rolled his eyes, giving a bashful smile. There was even a slight blush to his cheeks. "I'm the nawigator, Keptain. This is my job."
"Sorry, I forgot you were a genius," Jim said honestly. "Not bad for your first away mission, kiddo."
"Does this count?" Chekov asked.
"Well, I was hoping to start you off with a milk run, something like collecting samples with Spock. But hey, I can improvise."
Chekov chuckled, then suddenly stopped, as if any loud noises were forbidden. He flicked his eyes to the hostiles. "The big one keeps staring at me."
Jim swallowed. He didn't want to think what powerful telepaths could do to any of them, and he definitely didn't want to think about what they could do to Chekov. Legal adult or not, he was still a kid, and all of Jim's protective instincts sharpened just looking at him. The last thing Jim wanted was shy, small, brilliant Chekov turned into a vegetable because some alien asshole decided to poke around his brain.
"Maybe he's picking his team for karaoke night," Jim suggested.
That brought back Chekov's blush. Jim bit his tongue to keep from smiling. Very few people had ever heard the kid sing, and they swore he had the voice of an angel. Jim had only ever heard him hum and very quietly sing under his breath while he worked, if it was a good day and a fun project. It became something of a mission for him, and therefore the rest of the crew, to get Chekov to actually sing, preferably in front of an audience. But the kid would always blush and swear he was terrible at it, and anyway didn't they have more important things to do than karaoke, like work...?
Okay. Priorities, Jim. Step One: get the crew out of this situation and back on the ship. Step Two: try to convince Chekov to lead them in a celebratory song, or something.
A door opened, and two more Sagacitans walked into the room, bringing it to a total of five. One of them was obviously in charge, wearing a violet robe instead of the others' green. It scanned each of the crewmember's faces, black eyes blinking at them.
"Care to explain why you've just kidnapped the senior officers of a Federation flagship?" Jim challenged.
"Strength," the leader replied simply, in perfect Standard. (Right. Telepath.) "We need strength."
"Well, there are better ways to do it than kidnapping. Say, by talking to us and coming up with some sort of alliance..."
"You misunderstand me, Captain Kirk," it said. "We don't need the strength of your bodies or your ships. We need the strength of your minds."
"Again, an alliance...?" Jim strayed off.
"You mean to harness our mental capacities," Spock said.
The head Sagacitan smiled.
"Oh, fantastic," Bones grumbled.
"Quiet," the head Sagacitan ordered. Its blue skin pulsed, and the restraints around the crew's wrists tightened. Jim hissed in pain. Great. Not only telepaths. Telekinetics.
"Intellectual integrity is the first thing we look for," the Sagacitan said, stepping forward. "You all caught our attention in that department. But there is another factor, something that can only be determined up close. The strength to endure, to thrive in adversity."
It was standing right in front of Chekov.
"Don't touch him," Sulu ordered. Jim wished the pilot had his sword with him. He would've loved to see some ninja badassery.
Chekov, to his credit, didn't look scared. Didn't look...anything, really. He stared right back at the Sagacitan.
The Sagacitan reached a three-fingered hand out to Chekov's face.
"Don't," Chekov warned.
Jim blinked. He had never heard that tone from the young navigator before. Chekov never sounded so...dark. Threatening. There was a part in Jim's mind--a small, primal part--that said that if the Sagacitan touched Chekov, it would die.
The Sagacitan just smiled, and moved forward.
One of the other Sagacitans shouted, "Priest, don't!"
Chekov's arm moved in a blur.
The Sagacitan touched his face.