McCoy walked into sickbay and was going to head straight into his office when he saw a familiar figure sitting on one of the medical examination tables.
“Sammy? What are you doing in sickbay?” McCoy asked, concerned.
“I feel ill,” the young boy said simply. McCoy picked up a medical tricorder and started scanning.
“What seems to be the problem?” McCoy asked, watching normal after normal reading pop up on the screen.
“I have a fever, stomach cramps, a mild headache, and infrequent chills,” Sammy reported clinically. “I am certain I am contagious and unfit to return to the general population.”
McCoy shook his head. “Everything looks normal here, kiddo,” he said.
“But I am certain,” Sammy insisted. “Is your tricorder is calibrated correctly?”
McCoy took a calming breath, reminding himself that the kid’s attitude was hereditary and possibly incurable. “Yes, I am certain that all the medical equipment in my sickbay is working at optimal capacity. You. Are. Not. Sick.”
Sammy only seemed to become more determined. “Could not one be ill with some sickness that does not register on your medical equipment?”
McCoy bent down a little to be eye-level with the seven year old. “Why don’t you want to go back out there? Really?”
“Because,” the boy said, blue eyes steady, “I have a fever, stomach cramps a mild headache--”
“And infrequent chills,” McCoy finished for him and sighed. “Okay, Sammy, here’s the deal. If you are sick, you have to lay down here and not get up until you are well. No PADDs, no games, nothing until you are better.” He was hoping the sheer boredom would possibly change the kid’s mind. Sammy merely nodded and settled down on the examination table, eyes to the ceiling. McCoy walked to his office and kept an eye on the surveillance screen incase anything changed. Something was up, and Sammy would just need time to work up to telling McCoy what it was.
Two hours later, Sammy was restlessly turning on the table, boredom getting the better of him, although he would never admit to it. McCoy peaked his head in the door.
“Feeling any better?” McCoy asked.
“No,” the little boy replied sullenly.
“Well, I have some free time,” McCoy said, “and I brought something with me.”
Sammy perked up a little at that, looking at the object in the doctor’s hands. “What is it?” the boy asked, a little dubious of the value of the object.
“It’s called a book, they were invented before the PADD,” he said, taking a seat next to the examination table. “It’s a book that my father read to me when I was sick, and I read it to my daughter when she was sick, and now I’m going to read it to you.”
Sammy’s eyebrows knitted together in confusion. “I am capable of reading independently.”
McCoy nodded, opening the cover and thumbing to the first page. “Yes, but listening to a story read aloud has wonderful curative powers for many species. This just might be just what you need for your mystery illness.”
Sammy raised one eyebrow in an eerie mirror of someone else McCoy knew, but did not comment. McCoy cleared his voice and began. "The Princess Bride, by S. Morgenstern, Chapter One. Buttercup was raised on a small farm in the country of Florin."
“Where is Florin?” Sammy asked immediately.
“It’s an imaginary place.”
“What is the purpose of oral or written traditions of fictional settings?”
“It’s called imagination,” McCoy replied. “Humans use it to tell stories with important messages.”
“It is illogical,” Sammy countered. McCoy sighed, but as a parent, he knew when to pick his battles.
“Fine. Buttercup was raised on a small farm in the state of Iowa. Which you know is real place, correct?” Sammy nodded.
“Her favorite pastimes were riding her horse and tormenting-”
“Buttercup is a girl?” Sammy asked, horrified.
McCoy looked up from the page. “Yes. Some stories are about girls. Since when do you have a problem with that?”
“I do not want to hear a story about girls. Girls are gross.” McCoy sighed again. This was an annoying stage that the kid may or may not mature out of quickly. Judging by his parentage, he had a 50/50 shot.
“Any other requests I can fulfill, so I can butcher this story beyond recognition?”
“I would prefer it to be set in space,” Sammy said, missing the doctor’s sarcasm.
McCoy rolled his eyes. “As you wish. Right. So, our character....”
“He should be the captain of a starship,” Sammy added.
“Let me guess,” McCoy said dryly. “His name should be James? And maybe we should add a First Officer in there, he should be Spock?”
Sammy nodded, leaning back on the examination table, folding his hands over his stomach, expectant.
James enjoyed captaining the USS Enterprise and tormenting his First Officer. His name was Spock, he was a Commander and a Science Officer, but James always called him Spock. Nothing gave James as much pleasure as ignoring ‘Fleet regulations and Spock’s logical suggestions.
“Spock, I am going to beam down to the hostile planet. Don’t bother sending security down with me.”
“Captain, I must remind you that Starfleet regulations--”
“Lighten up, Spock, it’ll be fine!”
“Then I must insist on coming with you, Captain.”
And Spock only ever called James “Captain.”
“Spock, you have to get out of here and return to the ship. That’s an order, damn it.”
“I cannot do that, Captain. I will remain here until the rescue party arrives.”
And that day, James was amazed to discover that when Spock was saying “Captain,” what he was really saying was t’hy’la: a friend, brother, and lover. And even more amazing was the day James realized returned the full feelings of every aspect of that relationship. When he confronted Spock with his feelings, the Vulcan was overwhelmed with loving emotion.
“Captain, it would be most illogical to pursue a relationship that is romantic in nature, when we are serving on the same ship in the same chain of command,” Spock said, looking at a flushed James and trying to ignore the burning sensation that lingered on his own lips from the kiss the Human had given him.
“But I love you,” James said, gripping Spock’s arms. “And life is too short to not take our chance now, Spock. Do you love me?”
The Vulcan did not answer for a moment, torn. “Yes,” Spock finally whispered, and reached for Jim, cupping his head in his hands and bringing Jim forward to--
“Is this a kissing book?” Sammy asked gravely.
McCoy’ eyebrows shot up. “Excuse me?”
“Will this story include material that is unsuitable for my young ears?” the boy clarified.
“No, this is not going to have any explicit content. Now be quiet, you are resting.” Bones continued....
“Spock needed the permission of his great house to bond with James, so he obtained a shuttlecraft and set a course for Vulcan. It was a very emotional time for James.”
“Hurry back,” James whispered, locked in an embrace with his lover in the shuttlebay.
“We will rendezvous at Starbase Sigma at the appointed time,” Spock murmured, linking his fingers with his captain’s.
“It feels like I will never see you again,” James admitted.
“Illogical,” Spock said. “Hear this now: I will always come for you.”
“But how can you be sure?” James asked.
“You are my t’hyla,” Spock said firmly. “You think this happens every day?”
That got a grin out of James, and he leaned in to kiss Spock one last time before he walked into the shuttlecraft.
Spock reached Vulcan, but the planet was attacked by the war criminal Nero, obliterated by some unknown technology. After Nero’s ship disappeared, never to be seen again. When James learned of Vulcan’s destruction, he locked himself in the ready room and didn’t sleep or eat for days.
“I will never love again,” he said softly, staring at a holo of his t’hy’la, his one true love.
Five years later, Starfleet Headquarters was filled as never before to hear the announcement of the great Commander in Chief Marcus’s appointment of the next Admiral. All of the federation was excited to see James Tiberius Kirk, the youngest captain in the history of the ‘Fleet and GQ’s Sexiest Humanoid Bachelor five times running, appointed as the youngest Admiral. James was tempted to refuse the commission, as his heart wasn’t in his job like it had been, but couldn't find a good reason to.
James was traveling on the Enterprise to headquarters on Earth when Klingon ship appeared on their sensors and hailed them.
“Open a channel,” James ordered, and turned to the screen. “I am Captain Kirk of the Federation Starship Enterprise. To whom are we speaking?”
“Captain Kirk, you said?” a voice replied, but no visual appeared on the screen.
“Yes,” James said. “Klingon warship, you are in Federation space, I demand that you--”
“You are in no position for demands, Captain Kirk of the Enterprise,” the voice said, and the next thing he knew, his vision was fading and he experienced the dizzying sensation of being beamed fro his ship.
When James looked around, he was no longer on the bridge of his ship, but in a holding cell of a Klingon bird of prey. “We’ve got him,” a female voice said.
“Engage the cloaking device and get us the hell out of here,” another voice said. James could hear the hum of a cloaking device and a warp core going online, and then steps down a corridor heading his way. Jim took a defensive stance, ready to face his kidnappers.
A portly mustached man appeared, dressed in swags of cloth and jewelry. He was smiling in a genial manner, as if he did not just commit seventeen different crimes against the Federation and locked its darling celebrity captain in a brig. “My name is Harry Mudd,” the oily man said. “You will be our guest for a while, until we reach the neutral zone near Qo’noS.”
“Why did you abduct me?” James asked, hoping to keep Harry Mudd talking. He seemed like the type to monologue.
“As your crew will report, I did not abduct you. The Klingons did. And when the Federation discovers your body on the Klingon boarder, the Federation will have no choice but to start a war. Which is what I’ve been hired to do. Start a war, that is. It’s not my usual line of work, I am usually a tradesman, a procurer of fine things.”
“And killing me, you’ve been hired for that too?”
“Wait,” a thickly accented voice said from behind Mudd’s portly frame. “No one said anything about killing a Starfleet officer. I cannae do that.”
Mudd turned around, his face dark. “You were hired to start a war,” he bellowed. “You were not hired to think, you dimwitted Scottish baboon.”
“I have to agree with Scotty,” the woman’s voice said.
“Luckily, this is not a democracy,” Mudd snapped. “Do I have to remind you where I found you two, forgotten, stranded on Delta Vega? Now get back to the helm.” Mudd turned back to James. “Make yourself comfortable in there, and don’t cause any trouble.”
Mudd left, and James paced his cell, not finding much in the way to aid his rescue. He found that if he sat in just the right place, he could look down the corridor and see his three kidnappers working at the helm.
“Why are you doing that?” Mudd said suddenly.
“I’m trying to disguise our warp signature,” the Scottish man, Scotty, said. “Just making sure no one is following us.”
“That would be inconceivable,” Mudd said.
“Are you sure?” the woman said, long jett hair drawn up in a severe plait down her back.
“Despite what you think, you will be caught. And when you are, Starfleet will have you on a rehabilitation colony faster than you can say warp speed,” Jim called out, hoping to ruffle the two that seemed to be hesitant to end his life. “It’s not a pretty place, on those penal colonies in the backwaters of the galaxy. Harsh winters... food rations.”
“Shut up, or I’ll kill you now,” Mudd hollered. “Inconceivable. We are in a cloaked vessel, no Klingon knows what we’ve done, and no Starfleet ship can detect us. Why do you ask?”
“There is an unmarked ship bearing 1 3 4 mark 9, a few light years behind us.”
Mudd made a dismissive gesture. “Just a trading vessel.”
“Following our course into the neutral zone?”
“Then evade him,” Mudd barked. “Go to these coordinates, we will lose them in the asteroid belt.”
“You cannae be serious,” Scotty objected. “The shields won’t take it, we’ll be pummeled to dust before we make it out.
“Into the asteroid belt,” Mudd bellowed, smacking Scotty upside the head. James braced for impact, and sure enough the ship rocked once, then twice with the force of asteroid hitting the ship. The lights flickered and a plasma relay exploded outside the holding cell. “Shields are at 34 percent,” the woman called. “Aft thursters are out.”
“I’m getting out of this,” Scotty yelled, “your war be damned. Prepare for emergency landing.”
Just as he said that, another asteroid hit their port side, sending Jim crashing into the wall. He didn’t need to be told their shields were down to nothing and life support was about to go offline.
“They make it out alive,” McCoy said suddenly.
Sammy blinked. “What?”
“You looked nervous, I wanted you to know they made it out alive.”
“I would not worry about lives fictional characters,” Sammy said primly. “I am merely interested in the outcome of their ill advised kidnapping venture.”
“We can stop if you want, let you rest,” Bones suggested.
“Unnecessary,” the boy said. “Continue. Please.”
“Okay then,” McCoy said knowingly. “Where were we?”
“The Klingon vessel was about to make an emergency landing.”
They landed on the uninhabited class M planet of Fezzik III. While all aboard were relatively unharmed, their vessel was beyond repair. The three kidnappers grabbed supplies and phasers and let James out of his holding cell, phasers pointed at him.
“We are in luck,” Mudd said. “I am familiar with this planet, and I know there to be illegal transports hidden on the other side of that plateau. We will climb the cliffs and make our way there. And if you try to flee, Captain,” Mudd said, waving his phaser around, “well, I didn’t have any instructions about delivering you in one piece.”
James followed his captors to the cliffs and was made to climb them. As they were a quarter of the way up, a ship appeared and landed near the vicinity of the damaged ship.
“It’s the ship that was following us,” the woman said. “I think he’ll spot us soon.”
“Inconceivable. Keep climbing,” the winded Mudd barked.
Minutes passed, and Scotty called out, “I think he’s found us. And he’s gaining on us.”
“Inconceivable. KEEP CLIMBING,” Mudd bellowed, sweat pouring down his face.
James peaked down the face of the cliff and saw a man dressed in black, a wide mask covering his eyes and face. The man in black had indeed started climbing the cliff wall and was certainly gaining on them. When James and his kidnappers had reached the top of the cliff and Mudd caught his breath, he turned to the woman.
“You,” he weezed. “You will stay behind and make sure he dies one way or another. If he doesn’t fall, then shoot him.”
The woman narrowed her eyes. “That would be unsporting,” she said.
Mudd gaped at her. “Then challenge him to an honorable duel for all I care,” he yelled, grabbing James’s arm. “The captain and the Scottish dumbo are coming with me. Catch up with us when you’ve killed him.”
“I said I didn’t want a story about girls,” Sammy stated, just on the edge of it being a whine.
“She’s not a girl,” McCoy said. “Nyota Uhura is a woman.”
This seemed to appease the seven year old’s grasp of the world, and he layed back, waiting for the rest of the story.
When Mudd, Scotty, and Jim left, Nyota Uhura leaned over the cliff to look down at the Figure in Black.
“Your disguise does nothing to hide your heritage,” she called down in perfect Vulcan.
The Vulcan stopped and looked up. “Perhaps it has another intended use,” he replied in Romulan.
“You speak Romulan,” she replied in Standard.
“How do you know that I am not Romulan, myself?” he replied, this time in Tellarite.
She shrugged, knowing the Figure in Black probably couldn’t see it. “Wasn’t sure, I think it was a good guess,” she said in Trxian, enjoying the linguistic exchange. There weren’t many intelligent people to converse with on Delta Vega. “Am I distracting you?”
“Negative,” he replied, achieving his next foothold. “I am able to ascend this cliff and converse with ease.”
“You must be Vulcan,” she said sagely. “It’s a shame Mudd wants me to kill you. There are so few Vulcans left.”
“A most regrettable circumstance,” the Vulcan in Black agreed. “You have studied xenolinguistics?”
Uhura nodded. “Until some asshole with a British accent stole my thesis, claimed I plagiarized it, and got me kicked out of Starfleet. I was sent to Delta Vega for the quadrant's worst project for the Universal Translator division. There isn’t even sentient life on Delta Vega! I spent five years listening to snow.”
“A horrible waste of your talents,” he said. Uhura nodded, relieved that someone in the universe finally understood.
“I have decided to give you a sporting chance,” Uhura said. “I promise not to kill you until you’ve reached the top.”
“It would be most illogical not to accept,” the Vulcan admitted, almost to the top. Uhura watched him reach the top and stand.
“Would you like to rest?” she asked, intrigued by the tall figure. The Vulcan in Black shook his head, reaching for his phaser. Uhura raised her hand.
“I suggest we do this civilly,” she said. “We count ten paces, turn and fire.”
The Vulcan considered a moment. “Crude, but acceptable.”
Uhura and the Vulcan stood face to face. “Now we turn, count off to ten, and then fire.” He nodded his understanding, and she looked into her opponents eyes, suddenly suspicious.
“You look familiar,” she said slowly. “Who are you?”
“No one of consequence,” he replied.
“No, really,” Uhura said, the voice was so familiar. “I must know.”
“Then I suggest you become accustomed to the emotions associated with disappointment.”
Uhura shrugged and then took her phaser in hand. The turned in unison, but before Uhura could count aloud to one, she felt a hand at her neck and her world went dark.
“It would be most illogical to destroy a mind as bright as yours,” the figure said softly, laying Nyota Uhura gently on the ground. “But it would also be illogical to allow you to follow me. Please understand I hold you in the highest respect.”