1Disclaimer: I do not own Star Trek, Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Scotty, or any of the others on the Enterprise. But the planet's inhabitants are all mine.

Chapter One

"Captain, I am the logical choice to go down."

"Yes, I know. You have a better chance of blending in because of your ears. These people are extremely superstitious and will execute anyone who doesn't look like a native. But you said they only have three fingers."

"Yes. Doctor McCoy was able to make a pair of gloves that look almost exactly like their hands."

"Almost?"

"A few minor flaws, barely noticeable. And it would be illogical to believe all their people look exactly alike."

"There's something else . . . some reason you think you're the only one for this job."

"I'll tell you," Doctor McCoy said, coming up behind the two. "As much as I hate to admit it, he is the only one who can do this. Their air is low in oxygen, and thin beyond what humans can tolerate, even with anything I could give you to help you breathe. But a Vulcan . . . this should be a piece of cake."

"How long can you survive down there, Spock?"

"Approximately two days, ten hours, twenty-three minutes, and eighteen seconds."

"That's an approximate?" McCoy asked with a laugh.

"You shouldn't be down there much more than twenty-four hours," Kirk said. "You're sure you don't want your phaser."

"I won't need it. I wouldn't use it, anyway. The Prime Directive, Captain . . ."

"Does not apply if you are attacked by a bear or a giant rat or some other wild animal," McCoy pointed out.

"Scans indicated no large life forms except the most advanced species. There is no need to worry, Doctor."

"I'm not worrying; I'm just saying I can't beam down there with a medical team if you get yourself hurt."

"I am well aware of that."

"I think he means he'd like us to shut up and let him beam down already," Kirk suggested as they entered the transporter room. "Ready, Scotty?"

"Aye, sir. There's a settlement about a kilometer north when you get down there, Mr. Spock."

"Thank you, Mr. Scott. Energize."

"Jim, is this a good idea?" McCoy asked as Spock dematerialized.

"Bones, he can always signal to beam back up. What are you so worried about?"

"I don't know, Jim. Maybe it's just that he doesn't have to hide his ears for once. Something's wrong here. Very wrong."

Space, the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise, its five-year mission--to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.