Kirk stared backwards in shock. What the heck-

He struck Bones on the shoulder. "Bones – wait- stop!"

Bones yelled backwards, "Not now Jim! Kinda dodging imminent death here!" His feet struck the ground with violence, tearing up clods of red earth in his wake.

"Seriously, stop for a second!" He yanked on McCoy's arm, pulling him back with a sharp jerk. "You gotta see this."

Bones pulled out of his grip and dashed behind the tall foliage. Panting, he bent over, hands on his knees "Okay, fine, but if you get a spear through your chest –"

"-don't come crying to you. Yeah, yeah, yeah," Kirk parted the tall stalks and pointed towards the volcano. "Look." he hissed.

"Yeah, I see. Flaming death pit, shuttle, Spock, bottle…bottle?" Bones gaped. Suspended upside down from a thick cable was a giant cotton candy-pink bottle.

And astride it, also upside down, was Spock.

Bones turned to Kirk, wide-eyed. "Where in the name of all that is Starfleet did he get that thing?"

"How should I know?" Kirk flipped open his communicator. "Kirk to Spock, come in! Do you hear me?"

The communicator crackled. "Captain, what has changed?"

"I could ask you the same question, Commander." Kirk's voice betrayed his confusion. "What happened to your frostbite-o-matic?" Bones gave Jim a really? look.

"I believe this will be much more effective, sir." Sliding down the waist of the bottle, Spock straddled its neck and hung upside down over the volcano's maw. With several vigorous twists, he opened the cap and let it fall into the flames below.

Instantly, thick pink liquid poured out of the bottle. Spock hung on for dear life as it swung back and forth slowly. The Nibirans forgotten, Kirk and McCoy watched the scene play out. After several long minutes, the bottle emptied itself completely.

Bones stepped back from the reeds and let his hands fall to his sides. Then he gripped the sides of his head, shaking it back and forth. "Of all the cockamamie, foolhardy, idiotic….what in blazes does he think is gonna-"

Jim was about to interrupt him with barely-restrained laughter when the ground began to shake violently. "Ugh!" They both toppled backwards onto their backsides. Kirk frantically reached for his communicator and gripped it hard. "Kirk to Enterprise or shuttle, seismic activity's picking up! We-"

The rumbling moved away from their location. Straight towards the volcano.

"Spock! Come in! Things are about to get really bad!"

"Yeah, your little trick didn't work. It's a volcano, not a stomach! You can't just-"

A loud, mighty roar echoed across the sky. It shook everything. Kirk and Bones covered their ears and curled up in the fetal position, preparing for disaster.

Nothing happened.


"Have mercy, what is that stench?" They both pulled up their hoods quickly, covering the lower halves of their faces. The air smelled of chalk and sulfur.

"I – dunno, but it's - ugh!" Kirk and Bones were both coughing, and Bones was doubled over with his eyes squinted shut. Kirk waved one arm in the air, trying to clear it, his other hand still firmly gripping his robe. The cloud of gas passed over them and headed towards their pursuers.

"Spock –" hack, hack- "Spock! Report!" There was silence. Kirk could see the natives in the distance, protecting their faces from the fumes with their hands. He gave Bones a panicked look.

"Is he –" McCoy was interrupted by the sound of static. Then…..

"Captain, this is Commander Spock reporting. I am well."

"'Bout time!" Kirk hissed into the communicator, coughing slightly.

"Yeah, supergenius. I was this close to killing you myself. That is, if the volcano didn't." Bones crossed his arms over his chest, but it was clear there was more relief than anger in his demeanor.

Kirk shook his head from side to side. A thought struck him. "Hey, Spock….did you have any idea it was going to do that? Belch, I mean?"

Bones moved closer to Kirk's side, slightly curious. There was a pause….a chuckle?..."I…..may have anticipated that result, sir."

The communication ended. Bones looked sideways at Kirk. "You know, if didn't know any better, I'd say that imp sounded almost amused…..if I didn't know any better."

Kirk clapped him on the back, laughing. "You're not the only one."