Kirk resisted the urge to slam his head onto the desk. His crew were scheduled for shore leave.
Pike, his friend and mentor, nodded and gestured a finger at the PADD screen to load more information.
"They're a race of people who pick their alliances very prudently. They've never agreed to form a…'friendship', with the Federation. Until now."
Jim glanced at the 3D rotating image of the species' faces on the screen. They appeared mostly human, if not for their strangely coloured eyes. Almost like…contact lenses.
"Why now?" he asked, a niggling suspicious forming at the back of his mind, "If I'm not wrong, we've been trying to get them to join us for a millennium?"
Or perhaps he was just stupidly suspicious.
Pike didn't seem to disagree with him however, "We at the board are wondering the same thing. But it's too big of an opportunity to miss out on," he pulled the PADD away from Jim and leaned forwards on his elbows, "You'll have to be careful."
Jim snorted, procuring his shit-eating grin, "When am I never not?"
The admiral frowned at him, "I'm serious, Jim. This is suspicious as hell, we don't know what they want. They could be planning to take you hostage."
Kirk smirked and shook his head in dismissal, "C'mon man, you're starting to sound like Bones. I'll be fine."
Pike opened his mouth to retort, but an alarm from the table comm interrupted what would have probably been a lecture worse than what Bones could do.
Jim immediately reached for the button in the middle of the table and thumped a fist on it.
Uhura's face flashed up on the small screen, "Uhura, sir. We're in orbit of Bovis II and are receiving a transmission from the surface of the planet."
Jim gestured a quirky eyebrow to Pike, who rolled his eyes, before turning his attention back to Uhura.
"Patch it through down here."
The picture flickered white and was replaced by an image of the human-like Bovis people, their eyes looking like something you'd find in a fancy-dress shop back on Earth.
How does he address them? Does he call them gentlemen? Are there even genders on their planet? The information log didn't prepare him for this mandatory part of the mission…
He cleared his throat and addressed the creatures.
"I'm Captain James Tiberius Kirk of the Starship Enterprise, who am I talking to?"
There, now they'll have to tell me themselves, he thought proudly.
"Hello, James. I am Ruri of Bovis, and this is my husband Cadel."
He blinked in surprise.
They sound so human.
"Ruri. Cadel." He greeted with one of his winning smiles, "I'll beam my landing party down on your orders. Whenever you're ready."
Ruri tilted her head and nodded slowly, "Who is that human with you?"
Kirk raised an eyebrow and turned to Pike, assuming that was who she was referring to.
Pike looked as surprised as he did, quickly leaning towards the comm, "My name is Christopher Pike, I'm ranked Admiral at Starfleet." He replied with a hint of caution in his voice.
On the screen, Ruri turned to Cadel, both nodding once to each other.
"Christopher Pike," Cadel began, stepping slightly in front of Ruri, "I must speak to James Kirk alone, regarding the conditions of his arrival."
Jim frowned, "Do you require any help?"
Ruri shook her head and replied simply, "No."
Deciding they couldn't do anything to him while he was up in his ship of safety, Jim shrugged and gestured Pike off with a wave of his hand.
His friend looked sceptical, but Jim persisted,
"S'alright, I got this," he muttered harshly, turning back to the screen and offering a weak smile.
From behind him, Kirk heard the squeak of the chair beside him scraping back, then the footsteps of his mentor walking out the room, not looking away from the screen.
Finally, Ruri nodded her approval and continued, "Captain Kirk, we have several conditions you must agree to upon your arrival."
I heard as much.
"Of course. Hit me with it."
Cadel twitched and frowned, "Hit you with what? Captain, we have no desire to injure you."
Kirk snorted, "You sound like my first officer. Just…tell me the conditions."
Ruri nearly rolled her eyes judging by the way she averted her gaze but continued regardless.
"Are you aware of our need to collect data from the species we are considering to alliance with before accepting their proposal?"
He nodded, "Of course, I've read up on your culture. A sensible choice actually, not a bad idea to do the same thing ourselves."
Ruri smiled sweetly for a change, "Thank you, Captain. As you know, we will require much evidence on your human history as we have no way to access it. There are myths, of course, but we will carry out any means necessary to find the information we want."
Jim stomach started doing flips. Now it made sense why these creatures wanted to catch him alone.
"Not by means of torture, I hope?"
Simultaneously, Ruri snorted while Cadel began laughing, which brought Jim some much needed comfort.
God. Come on, Jim, not every alien race out there is out to kill you.
"Yeah, of course, sorry," he chuckled off nervously, the other two people on screen still sniggering to themselves, "Shouldn't have made assumptions."
Ruri let out a final giggle and shook her head, "It's alright. I assure you, we are quite harmless," she reassured him, "We will just require your co-operation in answering our questions we have of your species, before we can make a final decision in us joining your Federation. It is of course quite a big event for us."
Kirk nodded enthusiastically, "Yeah, I'll answer anything you want. My landing party will be down with me, just gotta say the word."
Cadel took over from Ruri and discreetly added, "You must come to us alone, James. We are only two and would prefer to deal with you one-on-one."
The distrusting feeling resumed gnawing at the back of his mind again. Why did they want him to come down alone? They must know it was mandatory to come down with an away team for protection.
Did they want him unprotected?
Although, they did mention there was only two of them, and usually captives come with large amounts of people.
Then again…showing distrust was not a good look on the Federation.
He'd have to do this for everyone's sake. There was no choice.
Pike said this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Starfleet and he wasn't about to let him down.
"Alright," he relented, slumping his shoulders in submission, "I'll come on my own. But no funny business, alright? I can call down my security escort at the first sign of trouble."
Cadel and Ruri exchanged looks to one another for a second before nodding gently to Kirk.
"Very well. We are ready for you to beam down, now."
Jim couldn't push aside the people of Bovis tormenting his mind.
He always said he had a good nose for danger, but this was something different.
Kirk jumped and spun behind him, to see none other than his friend and chief medical officer McCoy jogging up to him, latching onto his medkit.
"Heard you were plannin' on goin' down there on your own."
Oh boy. Here he goes...
"The hell were you thinkin'? You don't know these people; these people don't know you! You gotta let me come with you!"
Jim sighed, "Bones, they said they only way we're doing this is if I come down alone. Don't want to take on more than one person or something."
Bones glared at him, "And that doesn't seem suspicious to you? Dammit, Jim, these people are lackin' in planetary ties for a reason, they've probably killed 'em all!"
God damn it.
"I can't refuse, or they'll retract their offer and Pike'll kill me," he shut his eyes and took a breath to steady himself, "Look, I'll ask to beam up at the first sign of trouble."
Bones gritted his teeth, staring Jim down for a second before whipping out his medkit and cracking open the case.
"If you're planning on giving me any hypos, don't bother." He'd snap the damn thing in half.
"Nah, your last physical was only last week, you're good," Bones took out a white bracelet and snapped it over Jim's wrist. "Now I can see if you're in trouble."
A med-bracelet. You've gotta be kidding me.
"I—Bones, I don't need this," he stuttered, staring at it as if it were about to break his wrist any second.
Bones snorted, "Don't be stupid. I don't trust you to go down there and ask for beam up when you need it. You'll probably wait 'til you've had all your ribs cracked and stomped on by a stampede of Gorn before you call us to get you."
"And besides, if things start looking bad we can beam you straight back, regardless of whether you told us to," he stated matter-of-factly, "Like if you were taken hostage."
Smart move, Bones. Perhaps this contraption of invasive privacy wasn't too bad after all.
He gave one last look at the clunky piece of plastic on his wrist before shrugging Bones off, "Yeah, okay, but don't bring me up for something as mundane as panicking. I might just get tense."
Bones scowled and loudly snapped his medkit shut.
"Of course, Captain, show me your medical degree and I'll go by your recommendations,"
Jim smirked, "Show me yours and I'll—"
"Captain Kirk to the transporter room. Captain Kirk to the transporter room."
He smiled feebly. "That's me, Bones. I'll see ya for a drink later," he jested, patting Bones on the shoulder as the doctor scowled while he walked on.
Kirk marched on for ten more seconds before shouting back to him, "Better not trip over on my way down, I might break a leg!"
He grinned in anticipation for the grumpy man's reply.
"Shut up you over-zealous infant!"
If those were the last words Jim was ever going to hear, he would be happy with them.
As the golden haze finished circling around him, the outside world of the planet was revealed.
Except this wasn't on a planet, this was inside a building. For a second, Jim was beginning to think he was transported to the wrong co-ordinates.
Glowering with a muttered sigh, he flipped open his communicator.
"Scotty? I'm in the middle of what could possibly be mistaken as a drug alley," he retorted sardonically, "Did you beam me into the right place? This doesn't look right."
All around him was a dimly lit but wide corridor, like the one you would find in a school. There were at least six doors that led to god-knows where, but it smelt pretty musty.
"Aye Cap'n, I've just checked, you're in ta right place."
Jim frowned, "This place doesn't look populated. I think I'm on my own in here."
There was static from the other end of his communicator, before;
"Ah, there are two life forms—no, four life forms coming your way. I can bet they are the representatives you talked to earlier."
Oh, thank God for that then.
"Alright Scotty, I'll contact you if I need anything. Kirk out."
He flipped the communicator shut and observed the room, squinting from the dark lighting as he did so.
It was likely that Ruri and Cadel weren't expecting him to arrive so promptly. He wondered briefly which room he was going to be led into when they finally arrived.
In any case transporting into a dark, unlit empty room was never a good sign and definitely not a very accommodating entrance.
Jim glanced up as one of the doors on the left slid open easily, revealing both Ruri and Cadel storming out.
He sighed in relief.
"I apologise for the delay, we were not expecting you to arrive for another hour. But that is of no consequence to us. How are you feeling?"
Jim offered a nervous grin to Ruri and scratched absentmindedly at his neck, "I'm happy to finally be here, big day for us as and all as well."
Cadel nodded in his reply, "What is that enclosed on your wrist?"
Jim raised an eyebrow and glanced down at it—the med-bracelet. Of course, they didn't see him wearing it during the transmission.
Damn it, Bones.
"Ah, it's a med bracelet. Monitors my vitals, y'know, just in case."
Ruri exchanged concerned looks with Cadel and pushed him on, "Why?"
Crap, now they probably knew he was suspicious of them. Not a good way to hold a negotiation.
"It's…just in case the planet atmosphere affects me more than expected," he informed them slowly, trying to think up a response on the go, "And…in case I get injured, for some reason," he added quickly for good measure.
Both of the creatures seemed satisfied by his response, and began walking in the opposite direction
Not knowing what to do, Jim folded his arms against his chest and followed.
"Cold around here, huh?" he noted, feeling the goosebumps tickling his skin. He wasn't sure whether it was from anxiety or if it was because it was generally cold.
Probably best not to find out.
"I suspect our planet is distinctly colder than the climate you are used to," Ruri informed him, approaching a door and swiftly typing in a key code, "But don't worry, you won't be here for too long," her smile didn't reach her eyes.
Offering a worried smile back, Jim watched as Ruri gestured for Cadel to head inside first, and then Jim.
As he entered the room, lights suddenly flicked on out of nowhere, surprising his eyes and causing a blinding ache for a second.
Jim resisted the urge to swear and slapped a hand over his eyes.
"Christ, are your lights powered by the sun?"
"I apologise, are they causing you pain? Cadel, do tone down the lights for our guest. For now."
Jim groaned a weak thank you into the palm of his hands covering his eyes and visually saw when it became darker as the grey dots over his eyes turned black.
Sighing, he took his hands away from his eyes, muttered another thanks and took in inventory of the room.
Instantly, his anxiety was back full-force again.
The room was small, like an average-sized bathroom, outfitted with a large overhead light—probably the culprit of his headache—with equipment looking remarkably similar to a clinic.
A narrow white table was slap bang in the middle of the room, likely for the 'patient', with machines of vastly superior technology surrounding the outskirts of the room.
All in all, it looked like an experimental clinic used on animals back in the early twenty-first century. But for humans.
He swallowed hard.
"I…believe I misinterpreted when you said you were going to find information about humans using any means necessary."
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