Both suns had long since set on the tropical forest planet of Kothar. Stars glittered across the sky and Kothar's three purple moons shined brightly among them. A warm breeze whispered through the jungle carrying the scent of various flowering plants along with it. Luminescent rocks glowed softly from the beneath the surface of a small creek. Perched on a branch above that creek was a man hidden in shadow.
His piercing eyes surveyed the site before him. Beside the creek was a camp of men not native to Kothar. Aliens from another world here to poach rare animals from Kothar. The man grabbed the branch and dropped down into the underbrush of the forest. He was dressed in traditional Kotharian wear. A black cloth was tied at his waist and draped to his knees, fur leggings covered him from the knees down, another black cloth draped over his head and braided down his chest was tied into his broad black leather belt that had the canines of various animals tied around it, and he was barefoot. His pale skin also bore tribal tattoos that covered his back, arms, and chest. His face was hidden behind a mask of black cloth.
He drew closer to the camp and upon one man that had wandered to the perimeter. He snuck up behind the man, grabbed him, covered his mouth, and dragged him into the darkness. He placed a hand on the man's face, his fingers spread across the cheek bone, his thumb at the hinge of the jaw. He only left his hand there a moment before strategically gripping the crook of the man's neck causing him to fall to the ground unconscious. And in that moment Spock became privy to every detail he needed.
Spock charged into the camp and made very quick work of subduing the entire party of poachers. Once Spock neutralized the last one with his Vulcan nerve pinch he retrieved his communicator from his belt.
"Spock to Captain Kirk, it seems we were misinformed on the poachers numbers. I have already incapacitated them, therefore when you get here we are ready to return to the ship," Spock spoke into the device as he began to drag each of the men to a singular location.
"Uhura to Spock,"
"We haven't made contact with the captain, we assumed he was with you," Uhura explained. Spock froze.
"Complete a sensor sweep and find him," Spock said.
"Meanwhile, Mr. Scott there are eight individuals in my vicinity that are ready to be beamed up and placed in the brig." Spock ordered.
"Aye Mr. Spock, Have ye' let the wee animals out yet?" Scotty asked back. Spock glanced over at the cage next to him. Inside was an enormous cat like creature that was at least twelve feet tall.
"In a moment Mr. Scott though I believe you need to reconsider your definition of 'wee'," Spock replied.
"Aye sir, beaming up the poachers now," Scotty said with laughter in his voice. Once the poachers faded from sight, Spock went around and opened every cage he could find. Each animal darted into the wilderness.
"Spock we've located the Captains communicator back in the village, stand by for a lock on the captains location" Uhura said over the channel. Spock started making his way back to the closest village.
"He's in the village center and you better hurry Spock," Uhura told him.
"Is he in danger?" Spock asked.
"Then beam him up this instant!" Spock demanded.
"We can't, he's tied to something we can't bring him up without bringing up the whole blasted thing!" Scotty countered. Spock set a fast pace to his destination.
It was only a few moments later that he arrived at the village and ran between the huts to the center. The locals took him for one of their own warriors and showed no interest in him. Spock stopped at the town center and raised his eyebrows at what he saw.
"Spock to Dr. McCoy, please stand by in the transporter room. Transporter room, be ready to beam the Captain and myself up as soon as I clear him of the structure," Spock spoke into the communicator and tucked it back away before anyone could answer.
In the middle of town most of the villagers were gathered round with the Chief in the middle. He was standing before a pile of burning wood. At the center of this pile was James T. Kirk, captain of the Star Ship Enterprise, tied to a post. The chief was shouting to his people and waving things in the air. He had Kirk's communicator in one hand and the phaser gun in the other.
Spock surveyed the situation and there was no easy way out of it and he had to think fast. Kirk would most likely die of smoke inhalation before the flames ever even got to him. Spock saw a jug of water sitting outside a hut. He grabbed it and pushed his way through the people. He threw it on the pile. The jug shattered and the water dowsed a portion of the fire to steaming embers.
Spock was then grabbed by two warriors and the chief approached him. Spock knew he was being scolded by their body language, they hadn't had time to input the local language into their translators yet. A third warrior stepped up and pulled down Spock's hood and ripped away his mask. An audible gasp could be heard from everyone around them. The warriors released Spock and back away from him. They looked to their chief for instruction. The chief seemed rather speechless.
"Fascinating," Spock remarked as he looked around at the faces staring at him. One warrior pulled a dagger from his belt and Spock felt that situation was going to fall apart quickly if he didn't do something.
"Spock! *cough* Get out of here! There's too many!" Kirk called out upon seeing him. Kirk began to cough uncontrollably. Spock stepped up to the Chief, forcibly took Kirks communicator and phaser. He then walked up to the fire. Spock took just a second to collect his mind before stepped up onto the burning wood. He climbed the pile.
"Spo-," Kirk couldn't get the air to breathe let alone speak and he began to wheeze. Spock got to the post and used the phaser to cut the ropes. Spock caught Kirk as he passed out. Spock got to his communicator.
"Beam us aboard now!" Spock ordered. A second later they were gone.
Spock and Kirk appeared on the transporter pad in a cloud of black smoke, embers under their feet, and Spock's clothes were on fire. Spock's feet gave way beneath him and he managed to drop Kirk to the ground without harming him or laying him on any embers.
Dr. McCoy darted forward to Spock as the smoke detectors began to evacuate the smoke from the platform. He took off his top blue shirt and began patting down the flames with the fire retardant material. The nurse went to Jim and started to check him over.
"Coming through like the Devil from Hell itself, Spock you're insane!" McCoy replied as he got the flames extinguished. Spock's entire body was shaking. He put his hands together and pressed his fingers to his forehead to try and distance his mind from the pain in his feet and legs.
"If…that is what…you truly think, Doctor…then by all means…relieve me of duty," Spock spoke with shaky breathes and his eyes clenched. He was losing the fight. McCoy quickly readied a hypo and injected the Vulcan. Spock noticeably calmed and was able to take steady breaths. The transporter attendants extinguished the embers that had transported with the officers.
"How'd you do it Spock?" McCoy asked as he began to run a sensor over Spock's legs.
"I violated the Prime Directive, the locals will now whole heartedly believe in pointed eared demons that disappear in fire." Spock answered the doctor. McCoy smiled.
"Why, Mr. Spock, I believe we're beginning to rub off on you," McCoy smirked.
"Unfortunately," Spock muttered. McCoy looked up at him, his smirked turned into a glare as he was insulted.
"That was supposed to be a compliment!" McCoy snapped.
"I am well aware of that doctor," Spock replied. McCoy looked down at his legs and then back up to Spock before shaking his head.
"We've got to get you to sick bay and try and get these things off before I can do anything for you. How's the captain?" McCoy asked his nurse.
"Some lung damage, the smoke was excessively irritating. It must have been the kind of wood that's on Kothar," The nurse answered him. McCoy looked back to Spock.
"Take a deep breath Spock," McCoy told him and began to scan Spock's chest. The Science officer did so but couldn't get very deep before his lungs burned and he coughed.
"Very irritating, Let's get these two to sick bay," McCoy replied.
Uhura stood up from her post and looked to Scotty.
"Permission to go to sick bay," She asked. Scotty looked back to her and nodded.
"Aye, granted. And tell the Captain we're en route to Star Base 4 to drop off our poachers," Scotty told her. Uhura nodded.
"Aye, sir," She acknowledged as she got on the turbo lift.
"Sick Bay," She said once the door closed. A second later they opened again and she walked into sick bay.
There she found Spock lying across a bed and McCoy was carefully removing the leggings from Spock's charred skin. His skin was several shades of blistered green flesh and much of the fur leggings had melted onto it. He also held a mask to his face that sprayed a mist into his lungs each time he breathed in.
"Oh my-" Uhura had to cover her mouth. Spock lifted his head to look at her.
"Perhaps it would be better if you didn't look Lieutenant," Spock offered, removing the mask to speak, as he laid his head back down.
"True," Uhura said and stepped around the bed so she could face him and not see what McCoy was doing.
"It doesn't hurt?" She questioned.
"The Doctor has been giving me generous amount of pain killers, I feel nothing," Spock told her.
"How is he not passed out?" Uhura asked back to McCoy.
"It's that damn Vulcan physiology; he doesn't metabolize things the way humans do. I have to give him a cocktail to knock him out but he's sitting still so why waste the medicine?" McCoy explained. Uhura nodded and turned away from the bed.
"Where's the Captain?" Uhura asked. Spock looked over to Kirks bed. He was still unconscious and wearing the same mask Spock was.
"Suffering a little lung damage but he'll be fine. He should come out of it in an hour or so, Spock on the other hand is going to be here a while. Once I get these damn synthetic fur leggings off of him he is going to stay the night to heal up," McCoy informed. As he talked Uhura reached out and grabbed Spock's hand.
"As soon as Dr. McCoy is finished with me I would very much like to change," Spock said to Uhura. She smiled and nodded.
"I will go get you a change of clothes, how long will these tattoos last?" Uhura asked as she traced a pattern on Spock's arm.
"They should fade within a month's time," Spock answered her.
"A lot of trouble to catch some poachers," McCoy grumbled as he got a piece of material off.
"It was an attempt to not violate the prime directive, to let the inhabitants to believe on of their own took care of the intruders," Spock argued.
"That plan worked out well," McCoy replied. Spock looked over to the doctor but said nothing. Uhura looked back at McCoy to scold him but she saw what he was doing and turned away.
"Nyota I will not be offended if you return to your post and come back when the doctor has finished," Spock told her. Uhura nodded.
"I will check back in with you in about an hour and I'll have a set of clothes for you," Uhura said as she tried to control her breathing. She got up and left sick bay.
"There we go!" McCoy said as he made a cut and the rest of the legging slipped away from Spock's skin. Spock raised an eyebrow as McCoy set aside the fabric.
An hour came to pass and Jim stirred. He groaned and shook his head. He reached up to his head and pulled the mask off of his face. He looked around and licked his lips.
"My mouth tastes funny," He grumbled as he looked around.
"Aww Poor baby, beats the hell out of lung damage from breathing in all that smoke you decided to inhale! What the hell happened anyway?" McCoy asked as he walked over to his friend and patient, arms behind his back.
"I…was on my way to meet up with Spock and one of those enormous leopard things jumped out at me. I used my phaser on it and the next thing I knew I was surrounded by the village warriors. At first I thought they had taken me for a poacher because I didn't dress like a local like Spock insisted but then the next thing I know I'm tied to a post and being set on fire!" Kirk explained from his memory.
"And Spock- Where's Spock?" Jim asked. McCoy looked to Spock.
"Here Captain," Spock spoke up. Jim looked over to Spock. Spock propped himself up on his elbows to speak to his captain. Jim noticed his legs were wrapped and he was still in his tribal wares.
"What happened to your legs?" Jim asked him.
"Burned while retrieving you from the fire, Captain," Spock answered plainly. Jim paused and starred at the bandages wrapped around his first officers legs.
"Thank you Spock," Jim said.
"You're gratitude is not necessary, Captain, but you are welcome," Spock replied.
"Not necessary? You saved my life-," Jim started but McCoy put a hand on his shoulder.
"Don't waste your energy Jim, you need to rest," McCoy said.
"How long are we in here Bones?" Jim asked.
"Spock has to stay in here over night but you are free to go whenever you can stand up without passing out," McCoy replied with a knowing smirk on his face. Jim tried to sit up and didn't get very far.
"That's not happening any time soon is it?" Jim asked. McCoy laughed.
"Give it an hour or two," McCoy said.
"Thanks Bones," Jim smiled. McCoy nodded.
"Any time Jim, now rest. Both of you," McCoy ordered before leaving.
Jim got comfortable before looking over to Spock. Spock had his eyes closed but he could feel Jim looking at him.
"Captain, You thank people for doing things they didn't have to. I did not have an option in saving you. Not only are you my Captain but you are my friend and I cannot allow my friend to die," Spock spoke. He then opened his eyes and looked over to Jim.
Jim smiled and gave Spock the Vulcan salute. Spock returned it and relaxed again to wait for Uhura to bring him a change of clothes.