By Lorraine J. Anderson
Yeah, I knew Kirk. He was an underclassman when I was at the Academy. I used to try to get him to loosen up – I couldn't get him out of his books; knew he wasn't a bookworm, he had this glint in his eye that suggested he was a troublemaker. I couldn't resist hazing him. Then I lost track of him for years – hell, I was busy with my own work, until fifteen years later and he was on the Enterprise.
You got a few minutes? Want to hear the story?
I was Starfleet liaison for a research team at Supmac Prime; fairly close to the Romulan Neutral Zone, but not nearly close enough to make anyone nervous. I wasn't really the commander - although I could take command in emergency situations, I was really more of a glorified security guard. Most brilliant scientists need keepers – the more education, the less sense. Mostly I attempted to keep the scientists from killing themselves while watching them do studies and assisting them when needed.
There was an interesting species of sub-sapient on this little mud ball; we were studying their culture, such as it was. I didn't expect any trouble from either the sub-sapients (who were remarkably uncurious) or the Romulans. There was nothing on the planet to take. No dilithium, some precious metals, nothing of value unless you were desperate for water. I hate tropical zones.
At least I thought there was nothing valuable until the pirates came. It never occurred to me that the most valuable thing on the planet was us.
I suspect they weren't actually pirates. I think maybe the Romulans had some sort of game plan going. I never was quite sure; they were a scruffy lot.
The day started out innocently enough. The night shift had just reported in to the main hut, shedding their camouflage clothing. I had just gotten up, and asked whether there were any "incidents." They claimed none, but it's amazing what research scientists will think. We were attempting a non-interference policy. Even our waste products were carefully kept away from the local ecosystem.
I had just gotten my morning coffee, when I heard the whine of multiple transporters. A Vulcanoid had transported in front of me, weapon drawn. I grabbed for my phaser, but I had become complacent; my phaser was in my transport chest. We didn't really need phasers in camp, the wall force fields kept out all of the major predators.
"Invasion," is what I thought at first, then I got a good look at their clothing. Scruffy, as I had said. Romulans, yes, military I wasn't so sure. They herded us to the center of camp. I did a quick head check. We were all here, fortunately or unfortunately, depending on your point of view. I wished someone had escaped and would make a daring rescue. On the other hand, when I looked around me, I'm not sure I would have wanted any one of them to try a rescue. They were, to a person, sputtering about how they hadn't done anything, how this was interrupting their research, how they didn't have anything the pirates wanted
"Quiet!" I bellowed.
A Romulan woman looked at me, amused. "I believe you are the commander?"
I stepped forward. "I am military commander of this research team, yes. We are researching "
"We are not interested in your research." She motioned me forward, then looked at the rest of the group. "If you do what we wish, no-one will get hurt."
"I thought the Romulans don't take hostages."
She smiled at me. "The Romulan military doesn't take hostages."
"If you're not interested in our research " one of the younger ones yelped.
"Shoot him, Maruk," she said to her main goon.
"NO!" I had visions of a wholesale slaughter in my head. Surprisingly enough, he hesitated, then aimed again.
"Aw, stop, don't shoot him," the woman drawled. She looked at me. "I take it that we may have your cooperation?"
I glanced at my crew, such as it was, wishing I had a couple of dozen Star Fleet Marines. I'd be willing to die rather than cooperate, but I would rather be quartered alive than have my crew slaughtered.
We'll do what you wish," I said slowly.
"Good! First thing I want you to send a distress signal."
I raised my eyebrows.
"And no questions."
"Yes, Ma'am," I said, as crisply as possible. One of the scientists snorted, then looked wide-eyed at the phaser jammed into his side.
"If I may make a suggestion, Miss " I started.
"H'anorah," she said, off-handedly.
I didn't like that she was throwing names around so freely, then shrugged. "Put them in the main hut, under guard." I raised my voice. "I will guarantee that none of them will make trouble, right?"
I heard some mutters. I put all of my Irish stubbornness in the next word. "RIGHT?"
I got a lot of nods on that word. One of the interns raised his hand. "Yes, Toby."
"I have to use the bathroom."
The pirates snickered, and I lowered my head into my hand. "Use a jar, Toby." I looked at H'anorah. "Can you take them away, please?"
She made a languorous gesture.
"Maruk and I will go with you. Maruk is an expert in communications equipment."
"The transmitter is this way." I led the way to my hut, very conscious of the phaser at my back.
"No tricks, or one of your babies will get it."
I flinched. "No tricks." I opened the door to my hut and led them in. "The transmitter is over there."
"Put out the distress call."
Well, if I were to put out the distress call, that gave me an idea. I knew H'anorah didn't speak English, the Universal translator is good, but still can't put words to mouth motions. And I've been told by a reliable source that accents don't translate, at least not yet. I hoped neither of them knew English.
So I tried a tiny trick. My Irish brogue has faded quite a bit over the years, but I could still bring it back at will. "Mayday, Mayday," I said into the transmitter. "Commander Finnegan here, calling from Supmac Prime." I tried to roll my Rs. "Aye, and Begorrah," I almost winced at the old hoary Irish clichés, "my lads and I need help here. Please respond." I glanced up at the pair. Not a hint of suspicion on their faces. I set the message to cycle, but the response came almost immediately. I raised my eyebrows.
"Enterprise here. What is your problem?"
Ah, hell. I didn't know anybody on the Enterprise. Under Pike's command yet, I thought. Not much news comes to the boonies. Yet the voice did sound familiar. "A wee bit of a natural disaster. Our shields have failed against a landslide." I said, almost glibly, emphasizing the parts that I thought needed them. "My rogues" I emphasized, "and I need a wee bit of a ride home."
Kirk! I swore to myself. My past had come to bite me right in the butt. Would he believe a word I said? Surely he would, right? I suppressed a sigh. "Finnegan out," I said, some of my fear creeping into my voice.
H'anorah smiled. "Very nice."
Well. That was it, then. I sat back from the communicator and looked up at H'anorah and Maruk. They didn't seem to see anything amiss. But would Kirk? I had hoped to contact somebody I knew, but him? This was rather awkward. He was Starfleet, the Enterprise would come, but what was his role on the Enterprise?
Would he even catch the big hints I was trying to cast out to him?
Well, worrying would gain me nothing. I could only hope that Kirk had - well - relaxed a bit since the Academy.
We went back to the main hut, and I rejoined the scientists. One of them was whispering, "... and then we throw a rock and come up from behind and knock them over their heads..."
I glared at the whisperer, and he subsided. "We're not taking fiction here. Never works in real life. Didn't you ever learn that at the Academy?"
He shook his head. "I didn't go to the Academy."
The rest of the day was occupied with throwing cold water on even more and more far-fetched schemes. After a while, even the scientists realized the schemes were far-fetched, and the laughs were getting louder and louder, earning us glares from our guards.
Meantime, I was getting more and more nervous. Would the cavalry come over the hill? When H'anorah appeared at the door, I jumped. "Finnegan, Kirk wants to talk to you." She did not look happy.
And Kirk didn't sound happy. "Finnegan, we find no evidence of a landslide."
I let me Irish accent go broad again. "Are you sure, Jimmy, boy? Maybe you should be looking further up."
He was never going to get it! I started to yell. "Kirk, it's a..." and Maruk phasered the communications set to slag. H'anorah slapped him back hand, phasered him out of existence, then motioned me out of the hut. "Idiot," she muttered. I wondered if she were talking about Maruk or me.
I hesitated, then got up, stumbling a bit. She pointed the phaser into my back. I whirled, knocked the phaser out of her hand, then we both scrambled for it.
The old man came up triumphant.
I trained the phaser onto the pirate, then heard shots outside. Ours, or hers? My heart sank. To hell with this. I flipped the phaser to stun, and shot her, then tore out of the hut into a crowd of red-shirts, who pointed their phasers at me. I'll be damned, Kirk had gotten it, he was just buying for time. I dropped my gun, and raised my hands. "I'm Commander Finnegan," I explained, and pointed into the hut. "The one you want is in there." I turned around to see another gun. I focused on the phaser, then, as it lowered, I looked up.
"Kirk," I said, then raised my eyebrows. "Captain Kirk," I said slowly, as I saw his stripes. I stuck my hand out. "Thank you," I smiled, hoping that bygones were bygones.
The hand hung there a minute, than I saw Kirk blush. An older man came up beside him and grinned. "Jim," he elbowed. Kirk took my hand and shook it, all the time with an odd expression on his face. I looked at him, thought I knew what was going on in his head, and looked down. "If this has to do what happened at the Academy... well... I'm sorry. I was being an idiot."
Kirk jerked his head toward the other man.
"When I heard you on the communicator, I was afraid we were screwed."
Kirk looked like he finally recovered. "You had sent out a Mayday. We weren't going to leave you here just because you and I have a history," he said, dropping my hand. "But if my first officer hadn't vouched for you, then discovered the cloaked ship, and if we hadn't just been to the Pleasure Planet..."
"Cloaked ship?" Oh, yeah, it didn't occur to me why my proximity alarm hadn't gone off. "Pleasure Planet?"
The other man grinned. "And if you hadn't just beat the tar out of him..."
My expression must have matched his. I pulled back. "Beat the tar out of me?"
The older man took me by the shoulders. "The name's McCoy. Let me tell you a story over dinner tonight..."
I could hardly wait.
So, yeah, I knew Kirk. We're still not exactly friends, but I owe him my life. And a damned good story about how he finally beat the tar out of me.