Chapter 1: Cultural Differences

The planet Venar was unknown, but had warp capability. It was supposed a first contact routine mission. Well, for about twenty minutes it was...

Captain Jamie T. Kirk had decided to take only a small away team with her. Two male Security Ensigns, Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu and Doctor Leonard McCoy.

With permission of the government, that was lead by an elected emperor, they beamed directly into a great hall of the planet's council building. Guards lines the way for them and the Emperor, accompanied by two council members, was awaiting them.

"Captain Kirk!" The ruler, wearing scarlett red clothes and a golden crown, called and spread his arms in a welcoming gesture. "It is an honor to meet you. We are intrigued by the Federation. We're looking forward getting to know you."

Jamie and her team walked towards him and bowed slightly to greet him. "Your Majesty. We thank you for your hospitality."

Emperor Phido smiled and gestured them to follow him.

They went into a large room with a table that looked like for a feast with fifty people. But apparently it was all for them.

Jamie was fascinated and irritated by that much opulence. It looked like in a royal palace of 19th century earth with the furniture and clothes, but the society was technologically almost as developed as Earth.

It was a pleasant get together - until the Emperor talked with Leonard McCoy.

"Doctor McCoy, forgive my tardiness, I should have congratulated you right when you arrived", the ruler said.

Leonard gave him a confused look and the away team also did. "I'm sorry, Your Majesty, I don't know what you mean. Perhaps a misunderstanding?" he replied.

The emperor shook his head and smiled. "Your impending nuptials. Please, tell us who your wife to be is."

"I'm afraid this really is a misunderstanding. I'm not engaged and I'm not getting married. Was there a mistranslation when we announced our arrival?"

Now the Emperor was confused. "I don't understand. You're wearing blue."

"Of course he is", Jamie joined in the conversation.

"So he is to be wed", the Emperor said.

"No, Your Majesty", Leonard replied. "This is just my uniform. We have different colors, according to or fields of expertise. Blue is for science and medical."

Phido just stared at him for a few moment.

Jamie noticed the council members were very irritated and the guards and servants tensed. She had suddenly a bad feeling. "Your Majesty", she began." We are sorry, if we made a mistake. We were not aware that blue clothing has a special meaning on Venar."

The emperor shook his head and Jamie knew this wasn't what he wanted to hear.

"I could go and change", Leonard suggested.

Phido rose. "Blue is sacred. Blue is the color of love and the union of two souls. It is a sacrilege to wear blue without the intend to marry. It can only be purged by a wedding."

Leonard paled and Jamie's gaze wandered between him and the Emperor.

"What?! No, I won't get married!" Leonard shook his head and got up.

"Your Majesty, this is a cultural misunderstanding", Jamie began, also standing up and stepping next to the doctor. "You can't expect my Chief Medical Officer to marry, because he wears the color blue. We are not from this planet and therefore not bound to this custom."

"Custom?!" Emperor Phido raised his voice. "This isn't a mere custom - this is our strongest believe and done since ancient times. The one who wears blue must declare who he intends to marry and do so within three days." He waved two guards over. "Doctor McCoy will be put under arrest in one of our guest rooms until he does so."

Leonard was about to protest, but didn't get the chance.

"I have three beautiful daughters and two handsome sons", Phido added. "Surely one of them will catch your eye, Doctor. But you also may chose someone else. You have two days to make your decision."

Jamie immediately put a hand on Leonard's right upper arm, trying to keep him calm and not bursting out in rage.

The guards stepped next to them, ready to take the doctor with them.

"Your Majesty, you can't be serious", Leonard said in a sharp tone.

The emperor gestured the guards to lead him away. One of them took his communicator and put it on the table.

"Jamie..." Leonard turned to her while they pulled him towards the door.

"We'll sort this out, Bones. I'll get you out of this. I promise", she called after him and tried to sound encouraging. But she knew this wouldn't be easy, but the thought of having to watch him get married or - worst case scenario - having to leave him behind, made her sick.

"The servants will show you to your rooms", the emperor said and left.

Jamie raised a hand to stop the Venarans and keep them at a distance. She took out her communicator and opened it. "Kirk to Enterprise, can you beam Doctor McCoy on board?" she asked, knowing the diplomatic risks very well.

"This is Emmerson. Sorry, Captain. We can't beam up any of you. They activated some kind of force field."

"Damn..." She closed her com. "Well, wouldn't have been a good idea anyway to anger them... But we can let them force Bones to marry one of the Phido's daughters."

"Or sons", Sulu added with a wink.

Jamie rolled her eyes. And sighed again. "This is unbelievable. They can't just do this", she started to rant and took a few steps. Her mind was racing and searching for a solution.

Finally she turned around and threw her hands in the air. "Any suggestions?" Jamie asked her away team.

Sulu just shrugged. "You could marry him."

All gazes wandered to him.

"I'm serious", he added, looking into the captain's eyes. "You... well, we all don't want him to be forced to marry one of the emperor's daughters and stay here or be forced to take the bride on the ship with him. So... you know... you could simply get hitched to him yourself. Wouldn't be legal in the Federation anyway..." He was tempted to say that it was obvious they were in love and just didn't admit it, but decided not to.

Jamie just stared at him, her mind was racing.

Sulu held her gaze and the red shirts looked at both of them curiously.

Finally, Jamie waved one of the servants over. "I need a blue dress. And I need to speak to the emperor."

The Security ensigns' jaws dropped and Sulu showed a smug grin.

The servant just nodded. "Please follow me, Captain Kirk."

Looking after the captain, Sulu opened his communicator. "Sulu to Scott. You won't believe this..."