A/N: We were having a one-shot party over on TBB to get ourselves motivated to write something other than what we usually do. So in preparation for the OTHER movie I'm looking forward to in May (I bet you can't guess what the first one is, yuk yuk), here's a nice one-shot for you to snack on. Don't worry Avengers fans, I got stuff in the pipe there too. I hope you enjoy.
Their ability to abscond was severely hampered by the insistence of bringing along the goldfish.
Normally, Jim made it a point of avoiding aquatic life altogether. They had been visiting the planet K5L2, or Targon as it was known to the locals. The locals themselves were a somewhat insectoid race, about eight feet tall each. The all wore loose, draping robes that didn't do much to hide their extra set of arms that ended in organic blades. Despite their threatening appearance, the Targonians were more or less peaceful. They lived in a series of caves, the insides smoothed down to rooms and tunnels. The whole setup was surprisingly warm, and Jim and his away team were generally comfortable.
The team consisted of Jim, Dr. McCoy, Uhura for her xenolinguistic expertise, a xenobiologist and two members of security. Starfleet had been to Targon a few times already for initial contact with the Targonians, but now the Enterprise was there as a follow up to try and learn a little about the culture.
For the most part it had been going generally well, until the xenobiologist saw what Jim would only describe as goldfish swimming in ornate shallow pool where they were being hosted. Dr. Jenna McCartney was instantly attached, trying to get Uhura to ask their Targonian guide everything about the six-finned, two headed fish. They had determined it was sacred and nothing else was to be said.
Kirk should have known that the marine biologist wouldn't have been able to keep her hands off the magnificent specimen.
Kirk figured out what had happened when a Targonian had tried to spear him through the middle without preamble. One of the security officers had pushed him out of the way, taking the hit himself. Jim had just stood there, stunned for a moment, before Bones began cursing and pulling him along. Their remaining security officer firing his phaser towards the Targonian.
"Can't we just give the fish back?" Uhura growled.
They were crouched in an unlighted corridor, watching the occasional sentry run by. Dr. McCartney was hugging the opaque, plastic bag against her chest that held both the fish and water. She hitched back a sob now and again, but seemed to be in shock. Much to Uhura's obvious annoyance.
"I think that'll just make them want to kill us more," Kirk whispered back.
Bones gave him a look that Kirk could only describe as disgusted disbelief and he could feel the antagonism radiate off the doctor in waves. "More? Dammit, Jim, they tried to pull your insides out onto the floor. The did pull out Rodriguez' insides! Just leave the damn thing on the ground and let's run! I've had enough of their shiny death-scythes!"
There was another sniff, and they all looked towards Dr. McCartney. "I knew…knew they wouldn't let me have one," she whispered. "Other…the species we've found similar to this one…sometimes can cure…diseases." She shuddered. "It's why they might be sacred." Her eyes glistened wetly as she looked Kirk in the eye. "I was only trying to help," she whispered.
Kirk closed his eyes momentarily and sucked in a deep breath. "It's too late now," he grumbled.
"Captain," the security officer-Hicks, Kirk's mind supplied- spoke up. He inclined his head towards the other end of the passage. Kirk moved slowly, his eyes detecting the slightest bit of movement. He pulled his phaser out of his belt slowly, sensing Uhura do the same. Behind him, McCartney's hiccups fell into silence.
The Targonian at the end of the hall hadn't moved, and Kirk was raising his arm into position to aim, when to his right there was a sickening splurch and a choking noise. Kirk scrambled away from the Targonian that had appeared silently, its deadly arms through the middle of Hicks' torso.
"Holy shit!" McCoy shouted at the same time as McCartney let out a short, terrified scream. Uhura and Kirk brought their phasers up, firing away, and the Targonian hissed as laser fire erupted over its body. There was another squelching noise as the alien ripped its arms free, leaping away with powerful jointed hind legs, and disappearing around the bend.
Kirk chanced a glance back at the other end of the tunnel, looking for signs of movement, but there was none. McCoy had scrambled over to the silent and bloody Hicks. After a moment, he met Kirk's eyes and shook his head.
Kirk clenched his teeth in anger and frustration. "We need to move," he hissed. He stood up, grabbing McCartney by the front of her uniform. She let out a terrified squeak, but didn't drop the fish. "Two of my men are dead," he spat. "On account of you. This better be worth it."
She met his gaze, tears continuing to fall down her face. Kirk let out a frustrated breath, pushing her towards Bones. "Cover her," he told his friend. "No one else is dying today." He took one last look at Hicks, before moving quickly down the corridor, trusting his crew to follow.
For the next twenty minutes, they didn't see any sentries. It was actually starting to worry Kirk.
"Maybe it means we're near the exit. Are we near the exit?" Uhura asked, seemingly reading his thoughts.
Kirk slowed a little. The walls of these corridors had a yellowish tinge to them, whereas the walls from the main part of the complex they had been staying in had been decidedly reddish brown.
"Uh," he said stupidly.
"You don't know?" interjected McCoy.
"Hey, do you know?" Kirk snapped back.
"You're the Captain! You're supposed to be able to tell direction!"
"I have an entire crew for that!"
"You're smart enough you can do it yourself, idiot!"
"You just called me a smart idiot, Bones. That's not helpful."
"Captain," McCartney's voice interrupted softly.
"What?" Both Bones and Kirk turned towards the xenobiologist. She nodded her head towards the bag with the fish. One side of the bag was popping in and out in just one spot. Kirk looked up hesitantly, noting that there was a small tunnel in the direction the bag was expanding.
"It uh…there's a possibility it could be sentient," McCartney ventured meekly.
They all just stared at the bag for a moment, before Uhura stepped between the bag and Kirk who was looking thoughtful. Her dark eyes were filled with impatience and anger. "Are you really about to trust what you think may be a sentient goldfish?!" she hissed.
Kirk shrugged, moving towards the hallway the fish had indicated. "Hey now, it could also cure cancer." As the group followed, the motions of the fish died down. Right track then, Kirk supposed. As far as sentient goldfish were concerned.
"We did cure cancer, Jim." Bones grumbled.
"Common flu, then. Wouldn't that be nice?" Kirk froze as they heard a somewhat distant call from a Targonian somewhere behind them. He looked towards Uhura.
"They…may have found our trail," she said hesitantly.
"Better hurry, then," Kirk said, picking up his pace. "Bones, as soon as we're outside, radio to the ship."
"What makes you think we're even headed in the right direction?"
"Damn it, Bones, will you just have a little faith once in a while?"
They got to another split in the tunnel, Kirk coming up short. He looked towards the bag in Dr. McCartney's hands, but it didn't move. He stilled, listening and inhaling deeply. He heard the faint sounds of the Targonians behind them.
"I wish they had signs in this place," grumbled McCoy. Uhura gave a noncommittal grunt. Kirk thought he felt the slight stirring of a breeze coming from the left tunnel on his skin. But it could have just as well been his imagination.
Still, they needed to move. He dashed to his left, the crew following behind.
The tunnels were lit artificially by the occasional transparent, blue, glowing rock. Real space stuff, Kirk thought to himself. But now, he thought the tunnels might be beginning to light with regular sunlight as well. "I think we're-"
There was a flash of heat followed closely by a force that knocked Kirk clear off his feet and into a stone wall. He lay on the floor, stunned, his ears ringing. He blinked blearily, his eyes tearing up as dust settled on and around him. Rolling his head sluggishly, he noticed a brand new hole in the tunnel's side.
A cough sounded from his right, and he rolled his head again, noting Uhura trying to pull her feet under her. He only saw a cut on her cheek. Luckily, she had been wearing the normal pants and shirt of the men's uniform, so the rest of her seemed generally unharmed.
Suddenly, Bones was in his face, tapping his cheek lightly. McCartney, that frickin' fish still her her hands, was helping Uhura up.
Kirk frowned, slapping McCoy's hands away. "Whappend?" he slurred. Bones pulled him to his feet and the world lurched sickeningly for a moment. He took a few breaths through his nose.
"You got blasted into a wall, and I'm sure we got incoming, that's what happened." Uhura moaned loudly, and Kirk turned to see her leaning heavily on Dr. McCartney. Maybe she wasn't as alright as she seemed.
"'s get outta 'ere," Kirk mumbled, stepping forwards. Kirk could swear he saw daylight reflected off the walls now. Or it could have been the head injury.
Bones looped Kirk's arm over his shoulder, the women following closely. They had only lumbered about 20 yards, when there was a hissing sound from behind them. Kirk spun, phaser in hand as Uhura pulled McCartney to the ground. Kirk only got one shot off at the Targonian before the phaser was knocked out of his hand. He dodged a scythe, getting ready to punch the alien in the face, but McCoy had his own phaser out and was firing. The Targonian spun, then lunged at the doctor who fell backwards, avoiding the deadly blades. He didn't avoid the follow up punch from the other set of arms, however. Kirk saw blood fly as McCoy's head snapped one way, then the other. The doctor fell to his hands and knees, moaning, as one of the scythe arms drew back.
Kirk lept, latching onto the arm and pulling it to the ground. The entire maneuver knocked the Targonian off balance, and it it let out a high-pitched shriek as it fell forwards. The Targonian was wickedly strong though, and Kirk struggled to hold on as it flailed from side to side. Bones, mouth and nose bleeding, jumped onto its chest to try and keep it pinned down. He cried out as a scythe raked across his back, but he held on.
It suddenly occurred to Kirk he hadn't really thought this through. The two of them weren't going to win a wrestling match against an eight-foot tall bug, but Kirk's emotions had taken over when he saw his friend about to be killed in front of him.
The Targonian rolled so it was on top of Kirk, compressing his rib cage. He gasped loudly as he saw a red-sleeved arm snake into his vision.
Uhura maneuvered her hand under the jaw of the Targonian, and Kirk her the sound of phaser fire. It squealed before it fell still, body weight falling on top of Kirk.
Uhura and McCoy rolled the carcass off of him as Uhura mumbled "Honestly, you tried to wrestle it? What is wrong with you two?
"The phasers didn't have any effect on it!" Bones growled. But he sounded more breathless than usual, and his complaints lacked the normal conviction. Kirk winced when he saw the blue of his uniform slowly turning a dark red where it was sliced across his back.
"Worked well enough for me," Uhura said, rolling her eyes. "Come on. I can see the end."
Kirk looked, and sure enough, pure and unfiltered daylight was seeping into the tunnel.
He also heard the earsplitting screeches of dozens of Targonians behind them. "Run, RUN!"
Later, he wouldn't admit he didn't run as fast as he could have, and almost tumbled into a wall twice. Bones and Uhura weren't much better, and McCartney still clung gamely to her goldfish like a large child at the fair with a foot-long, two-headed prize.
As soon as the first foot hit the rays of sunshine, Kirk had his communicator to his lips. "Kirk to Enterprise, four to beam up, right now!"
"Eh, Captain, you've got multiple life forms behind ye, are there-"
"DO IT THE HELL NOW, SCOTT!" All four of them pulled up to a short stop as they felt the tingling that marked the beginning of the beaming process. The Targonians were only yards behind them, and Kirk caught the fleeting glimpse of an organic blade where his stomach had been a two seconds earlier.
Bones was lying on his stomach, shirt off, as Nurse Chapel treated his back wound. He kept shooting glaring looks at Kirk, which the Captain thought were wholly undeserved.
"Don't look so down, Bones, you got a chance to take your shirt off in front of a beautiful woman. 'Bout time, too."
"Shut up, wise-ass," the Doctor growled.
"Ah-ah, shut up Captain."
Across the medical bay, Uhura shot them both a glare. She, like Kirk, had obtained a moderate concussion and had to stay overnight. Spock was at her side, looking blankly at Bones and Kirk.
"I do not understand why the Captain lets Doctor McCoy get away with such insubordination," he said to Uhura.
"I can hear you, Spock!" Kirk shouted. Nurse Chapel came over and slapped his arm. "Ow!" he pulled back sharply.
"Don't yell in the Medical Bay, Captain, there are patients here," she said sounding like she was on her last leg of patience. Across the room, Spock only raised an eyebrow before he said something more quietly to Uhura. She gave him a soft smile, before her features changed in one second flat as her death glare focused back on her Captain. Spock calmly approached Kirk's bed.
"It would seem that Dr. McCartney's original hypothesis was correct, and the creature you brought with you is indeed sentient."
Kirk felt a confused look cross his face. "Huh. No shit."
Spock nodded. "Indeed. Congratulations, Captain. It seems you have successfully freed a being held against its will."
"I'm sure it will have much wisdom to share with us about living in a puddle," McCoy drawled sarcastically.
Spock tilted his head but said nothing. He nodded slightly towards Uhura again as he approached the medical bay door. "Only time will tell, Doctor." He left.
Kirk shot a satisfied smirk towards his friend. "See that, Bones? We're making a real difference in the galaxy, saving goldfish-"
"Shut up, moron."
McCoy threw a pillow at his head.