Disclaimer: not mine

Lieutenant Scott huffed, annoyed, as he hurried across the Starfleet Academy campus. This was not how he had planned on spending his years in service. He loved engines, and his dream had been to spend his days working on warp cores, amongst scaffolding and with a spanner in his hand. If he never came out of the Engineering deck, he'd be happy.

He'd been perfectly fine on the Yorktown, though of course, like everyone, he had his issues with his superiors. The Chief Engineer was a little too fond of the rules, if you asked him.

Still, he had been happy, and as long as he kept his experiments out of view, well, what one didn't know couldn't hurt them, right? And then Captain Pike had been offered the Flagship Enterprise. Now there was a ship he'd love to work on. Him and everyone else in Starfleet. Word had spread quickly that the Captain himself would be picking the crew, and competition was fierce. The ship wouldn't even be ready to fly for another few years! Scott stayed on the Yorktown, and was even promoted to Lieutenant by the new Captain, Captain One, after he managed to correct a problem made by their rule loving Chief Engineer, saving three lives in the process.

But when the Yorktown stopped at Earth again a couple years later, Scott had received an offer he felt he really couldn't refuse. Captain Pike remembered him from the Yorktown, thought he'd make a good addition to the Enterprise, and told him, if he stuck around for a couple of years, he'd have a spot on board when they shipped out.

Which led to him being offered a spot as an aide to Admiral Archer, who taught the Advanced Relativistic Mechanics class to senior level Cadets. That was something that surprised Scott, he had to admit, but he did admire a high-ranking official who still got his hands dirty.

What he didn't enjoy were Cadets who thought they were smarter than him. Cadets who didn't think they needed to study, or who couldn't be bothered to do the work. He huffed again as he shifted his bag up further on his shoulder as he stalked across the quad. He was a Lieutenant! He was higher ranking then them, shouldn't they show him respect?

He was so caught up in his thoughts, he failed to notice the group of Cadets until he walked into one of them. "Sorry," he muttered, before cursing as his bag dropped to the ground, several items falling out. "Damn it."

He heard someone chuckle lightly above him as he dropped down to pick everything up, and then that person knelt down to help him.

"It's all right. Clearly, you've got bigger things on your mind."

Scott looked up at the man who was helping him. He was a Cadet, obviously, by the bright red uniform, with dirty blond hair and bright blue eyes. He furrowed his brow. Why did this man look so familiar?

The Cadet also looked like he was trying to figure something out.

After a moment of silence, the Cadet handed him one of the PADDs that had fallen out of his bag. "Ensign Scott?" he sounded unsure.

The two of them stood up, and Scott saw three more Cadets behind the one who had helped him, all watching with confusion.

He looked at the man in front of him, and his eyes widened in recognition. "Jim? What the –?"

Jim chuckled. "Wow, I didn't think I'd ever see you outside an engine room."

Scott shrugged. "Career advancement," he said by way of explanation. "I'm an aide for Archer's Relativistic Mechanics class."

Jim grinned. "I'm taking that next semester, so I'm sure I'll see you then."

Scott nodded, smiling back. He had enjoyed slinging theories and equations back and forth with the man that afternoon on the Yorktown. He thought he could have fun with Jim in the class.

McCoy coughed behind them. "A senior level class, Jim? Last I checked you're still a second year."

Jim didn't turn around, he just shrugged, his eyes sparkling with mirth. "I've got it all worked out," he replied. "By the way, Ensign Scott, this is Hikaru, Pavel, and Bones. Guys, this is Ensign Scott."

The cadet on the far end grumbled "It's McCoy," but Jim just ignored him.

"It's Lieutenant, now," Scott corrected, looking over at the other Cadets, nodding a greeting.

Jim raised an eyebrow and tilted his head in congratulations. "Forgive me, Lieutenant." His tone was mocking, but his eyes were amused. He glanced back at the others, before turning back to Scott. "We've got to get to class, but I'll see you around, Scotty."

Scott started at the nickname, but then he smiled, and nodded, waving as the group moved away. With a sigh, he turned back and continued along his path towards Archer's office, where he was planning on meeting the Admiral to go over some lesson plans before class.

XXX

The first time Jon saw Jim and Scott together, he completely, and one hundred percent agreed with Chris. Those two together just spelled trouble. Unfortunately, he didn't have the option of separating them, so he just had to let the friendship develop.

It wasn't that he thought it was necessarily a bad thing, he was just… frightened. Both were brilliant men, and when two geniuses got together, it didn't end well for the average person.

And then Chekov started hanging out with them, and Jon doubted the Academy would still be standing in a year. Those three were just… wow. Jon hadn't thought it was possible for three people to be so similarly interested in the same subject.

It wasn't until later in the year when he began to regret their friendship. He wasn't sure what they were developing, something about a theory of some sort, which really, he had no issues with. It was when they decided to test it that they crossed the line.

Jon glowered at the trio as they stood across the desk from him. Scott was trying and failing to hide his guilt, while Chekov looked like he was trying not to piss his pants, and Jim just looked like he was trying not to laugh.

Jon glared. "That was my favorite dog, Lieutenant. Give me one good reason why I shouldn't ship you off to Delta Vega."

Scott winced, knowing that the planet in question was not a pleasant place to be. He had had to process some requisition forms recently for the team that was manning the Starfleet base on the Class M planet.

Jim held in his sigh. When it came to Archer, a lot of his bluster was just that; his bark tended to be worse than his bite. Or maybe that was just with Jim. Jon really did love his dogs.

Jon turned his glare to Jim. "You have something to say for yourself, Cadet? Don't think I won't forget that you two are involved in this as well." He pointed between Jim and Pavel.

Jim knew smiling would not help his case. He kept his face straight as he replied. "Just give us a month, sir. I promise, we'll get your dog back."

Archer observed Jim for a moment longer, before he nodded. "I will hold you to that," he replied, before dismissing them.

Richard and Chris entered his office barely a minute after the Cadets and Lieutenant left, and unfortunately, they didn't have the same restraint as Jim. Richard was laughing with glee at the predicament Jon found himself in.

"What exactly was it they were trying to test?" Chris asked, once Richard stopped laughing long enough to take a breath.

Jon sighed, still glaring at his friend and fellow Admiral. "Something about a transwarp beaming theory."

Chris raised an eyebrow. "That's not possible," he commented.

Jon transferred the glare to the Captain. "Tell that to my dog," he shot back.

That set Richard off again, and now Chris joined in, losing the will to hold it back. Jon didn't see what was so funny. His poor dog.

Jon reached out and threw the first thing he could get his hands on at the pair of them. Unfortunately, the PADD did not survive its meeting with the wall as Richard moved out of the way, but it did make him feel slightly better. Until he realized that he needed that PADD for a meeting he had that afternoon.

Jon growled and chased the laughing Richard and Chris out of his office.

XXX

In the end, it took every one of those thirty days, and several sleepless nights, but the trio managed to get the dog back. Well, Jim was the one who figured it out, but if you asked him, he would give credit to all of them.

Jon was still upset, and more than once threatened to send Scotty off to some remote outpost for the remainder of his Starfleet career, but thankfully, failed to follow through on that threat. What Scotty didn't realize was that Jim privately appealed to the Admiral's softer side, and took full responsibility for the incident. Jon would never admit it out loud, but he really liked Jim, and he would never punish him. He was actually impressed with the work involved in the theory those three had been developing. He just wished they had tried it out on something else.

McCoy berated them on their recklessness, but they took it in stride. Chekov was the most scarred; for a while, he had been sure he would be tossed out of the Academy, despite Jim telling him they wouldn't. They had courted Pavel personally. They wouldn't throw him out, not for this.

After they got the dog back, Chris pulled Jim into his office and started in on a tirade that lasted about five minutes and twenty four seconds – not that Jim was counting – with the Captain not seeming to take a single breath.

Finally, Jim managed to insert himself into the conversation. "Are you upset at what we did, or the fact that it didn't work?" he asked curiously.

Chris finally took a breath, and glared, collapsing into his desk chair. Jim took that as a cue to also sit down, smirking lightly.

"You took Jon's dog and tested out a dangerous theory on it. A living, breathing creature, Jim!"

Jim shrugged. "You think we're that heartless? We tried it out on inanimate objects first. They all came back with no issues. It was only when we got to the dog that we had issues."

Chris took a deep breath, and then let it out. Honestly, he hadn't actually thought of the possibility that they had tried it out on anything before Porthos, Jon's dog.

Jim smiled tightly. "You didn't consider that, did you." It wasn't a question, despite the phrasing.

Chris shook his head ruefully. "I don't think any of us did," he admitted.

Jim didn't let it show how much that hurt, that they wouldn't consider that he would think things through. "Well, we did." It came out a little harsher than intended, and by Chris' wince, he knew that he wasn't successful at hiding his hurt. "And we got the dog back. We'll fix the theory, and we'll test it again. Next time, we won't use Porthos."

"Or any of Jon's other dogs," Chris added.

Jim nodded. "Or any of his other dogs."

Chris sighed. "Maybe you should continue this experiment under the purview of the Engineering department, so they can come up with test subjects, rather then doing it on your own."

Jim stood up, nodding. "We'll take that under advisement. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to get to class."

He left, and Chris let out another sigh, knowing he had screwed up a little. He hadn't meant to sound accusing, but they hadn't given any indication that they had done the experiment properly. Honestly, what was he supposed to think?

He shook his head, promising to make it right, and picked up a PADD, getting back to work.

XXX

Jim's second year at the Academy seemed to be passing almost as quickly as the first.

After their tense conversation, Jim was almost immediately back to normal with his advisor; he gave no indication that anything was off with Chris, back to his sunny and cheerful self within a day.

Jim and Gaila stepped their relationship up a notch sometime around the start of the new year, though no one was quite sure when it had happened, or how.

Nyota felt it was her duty as the roommate to threaten Jim with bodily harm if he ever hurt the Orion, but Jim, being Jim, didn't react the way she expected.

He just smiled softly down at her.

Nyota glared. "What?" she retorted. "You don't think I'm serious?"

Jim shook his head. "No, I absolutely think you're serious. It's just nice that you care so much about her. I'm glad she has you in her life."

With that comment, Nyota lost any of her ire. The passion behind those words suggested to her that Jim, himself, didn't think there were any people who worried about him on such a level. She wondered if he actually realized how many people he had who cared. She smiled back. "Well, just so we're clear."

Jim nodded. "And Nyota." Nyota paused in her act of turning away. She looked back at her friend. "That Vulcan Instructor." Nyota looked shocked, but tried to hide it. Jim smirked. "If he hurts you, I hurt him. Make sure he knows it."

Nyota spluttered out denials. "We're not…"

Jim shrugged. "I'm good at reading people. Don't worry. I won't say anything. Just pass along the warning. I take care of my friends."

Jim left Nyota there, watching him walk away with a strange expression on her face.

And that was how Instructor Spock found her, five minutes later. "Cadet Uhura, are you well?"

Nyota started, and turned around quickly. She shook herself off, and nodded forcefully. "Yes, I'm fine, thank you."

Spock furrowed his brow slightly, an indication of worry, a tell she could read, as someone who knew this particular half Vulcan rather well. He switched to Vulcan. "Your actions when I joined you indicate a fifty nine point three percent likelihood that something is concerning you." He glanced around, to make sure there was no one within hearing distance. "I believe the human phrase is, if I can 'lend an ear'?" He paused for a moment, and smiling, Nyota nodded to tell him he got it right. Spock inclined his head. "If you wish to talk, perhaps we can meet for supper tonight?"

Nyota loved the way Spock really seemed to try to come out of his Vulcan shell. He had made an effort to grow up suppressing his human side, but with her, he really tried not to be so stoic. She sighed, and glanced in the direction Jim had disappeared, before turning back to look at her boyfriend. She sighed slightly. "I'm fine, Spock," she assured him. "I just had a conversation with a friend, and he surprised me. I don't know how he figured out that we're dating, but did, and he told me to tell you that if you hurt me, he'll hurt you." She didn't know if it was the best idea to pass that along, but he had asked.

Spock tilted his head to the side. "Should I prepare for an attack?" He actually sounded serious.

Nyota chuckled. "I think, as long as you're not planning on hurting me, you shouldn't have any issues. Jim just wants to protect his friends. And I had just threatened him over hurting Gaila, so I guess he felt like he had to protect my virtue as well."

Spock nodded slightly. By being around humans constantly, he was getting better at understanding their colloquialisms and mannerisms, so he thought he understood. "This is the cadet who is currently courting your roommate," he clarified.

Nyota nodded, confirming. "Jim's a good guy," she assured him. "I don't think he'd ever actually hurt you. He's just… protective. Unless he thought you were a physical threat, he's more likely to destroy you with words than fists."

Spock raised an eyebrow, and Nyota chuckled. "He speaks Vulcan better than I do, he's probably better at Mathematics and Engineering than you are. He's a bit of an enigma. But," she changed the subject abruptly, straightening up slightly. "I think you mentioned something about supper earlier, and I'm much more interested in that than standing here talking about one of my classmates. Shall we?"

Spock inclined his head, and the two headed in the direction of the Academy gates. It would be easier for them to disappear into a crowd off campus, where fewer people would care that an Instructor and a Cadet were sharing a meal together. He would later think on this cadet she believed to be on par with a Vulcan when it came to the fields of Mathematics and Engineering. If it weren't for the fact that he knew Nyota was not one for exaggeration, he would simply dismiss her claims immediately.

XXX

Sometime between February and March, it became standard for Jim and Nyota to meet up once a week for lunch, to catch up on each other's lives, and to keep the friendship they had cultivated. Both were happy to have those little lunch dates, as they enjoyed the other's company.

It was a little surreal to Nyota, to imagine that this time next year, she would be thinking about graduating. Jim would too, she realized; though they had started a year apart, both would be leaving the Academy at the same time. Everyone knew of Jim's intention to graduate in three years, but no one had actually thought he'd do it. And now, here he was, quickly catching up with most of the third years.

She looked across the small table at him, observing the way he bit into his sandwich. Jim, sensing her gaze, looked up from his meal as well. He raised an eyebrow. "Everything all right?" he asked.

Nyota shrugged with one shoulder. "I was just thinking about this time next year. Have you thought about what happens after graduation yet?"

Jim grimaced lightly and put his sandwich down. "Honestly, I don't really have to worry about it." Nyota looked confused. Jim leaned forward and lowered his voice. "You can't repeat this to anyone, promise? I really don't want to have to deal with the jealousy or resentment." Nyota nodded. Jim sighed. "You remember how I told you that I consulted on the Enterprise?" Nyota nodded again. Jim smirked lightly. "That pretty much guarantees me a spot on board. Pike's actually holding the launch until I graduate. The ship will be ready to go sometime in January, but they're going to wait until June for the maiden voyage."

Nyota knew she was staring. "Wow," she finally said. "Congratulations. That's really… I mean, the Flagship, Jim. That's a great placement."

Jim shrugged. "Chris is handpicking the crew, and he's paying close attention to the third and fourth year Cadets. You know you're on the shortlist too, right?"

Nyota swallowed harshly. "What?"

Jim chuckled. "Nyota, you're the best Communications track Cadet at the Academy. Not to mention you're dating the Vulcan who's more than likely to make First Officer, but you didn't hear that from me."

Nyota shook her head. "Not so loud," she hissed, looking around for anyone who might be within earshot.

Jim just laughed. "I'm just saying."

Nyota shifted in her seat. "Does Captain Pike talk to you a lot about this stuff?" she asked curiously. "You seem awfully… familiar with him." She wasn't quite sure how to put it, and for all she called him a good friend, she still didn't know how he and the Captain had met. And she wasn't sure if she should ask.

Jim shrugged. "He's asked about a few Cadets. I've given him my inputs, but I haven't actively sought him out to tell him my thoughts." He sighed, picking up his fork and playing with it idly. "We've known each other for a while, and he trusts my opinions."

Nyota smiled. "Well, the Enterprise would be an amazing placement. I hope you put in a good word for me."

Jim smirked. "I didn't need to do anything. Your boyfriend is already singing your praises."

Nyota blushed, and turned her head back to her meal.

Jim picked up his sandwich again, still smiling.

XXX

Chris didn't even give Jim a chance to try and get away with attending classes in the week of the recognized end to the Tarsus tragedy this year. He enlisted Pavel's help, and in the process, got the kid out of class as well. It was a little better this year, since neither of them was in the Morals and Ethics class any more, but it still wasn't a time either of them really wanted to be around people.

By getting Pavel to request time off for a family situation, he was able to clear the week for the kid. And as Pavel was a minor, Chris was able to get him to ask for Jim to escort him 'back to Russia'. No one had any issues with it, since Jim was at the top of his class.

Even if he didn't say it, Jim was grateful. He didn't want to have to deal with keeping up the mask in front of his friends, and he didn't want to have to deal with being around people.

McCoy didn't say anything as Jim packed a bag and told him he'd be gone for a week, though he definitely noted the time of year. He remembered quite clearly that it had been right around this same time the year before when Jim had been acting strange. It also didn't escape his attention that Pavel would also be gone for the same week.

But he didn't say anything, recognizing that his friend didn't want to share.

Chris' plan involved Jim and Pavel spending the week at his house, which worked perfectly fine for them. They spent a good deal of time outside, on the beach mostly. Jim felt calmer there, seeing the ocean. It reminded him that no matter how oppressive the memories, the emotions, or the guilt got, there was so much more to life than just him. He was just one small part of a larger universe.

Chris spent what little time he could with them, and he was grateful that the Yorktown returned for a weeklong shore leave halfway through the week, so Shay was there as well. She took the information that it had been Pavel's sister who had died of illness shortly before their arrival in stride, and didn't ask any questions.

It was getting easier for Jim, and most of the time, he really didn't have to work so hard to keep the monsters at bay. It was just a hard time of the year for him, and it probably always would be. The same way he would never really be able to enjoy his birthday.

XXX

Thankfully, none of their friends commented on their absence, beyond asking if everything was all right with Pavel's family, and when he said yes, they immediately dropped the topic. Jim knew they hadn't fooled anyone who really knew them, but he was glad that they weren't pushing the issue. He was grateful that he had good friends.

The year wrapped up quietly, and before he knew it, summer had come around yet again, and with it, another full round of courses and training exercises. There were times when he didn't know why he had decided to complete the requirements to graduate in three years. Sure, he made it look easy, but what his classmates didn't see was the amount of time he put into completing assignments in order to stay at the top of the class. He might be a genius, but it still took time to complete all those essays, projects, and homework assignments.

In addition to the four training exercises Jim had to complete, he also was taking two classes, and had begun to study for the bane of every Command track Cadet's existence: the Kobayashi Maru test. It was something every Command track Cadet took in their senior year, and as of yet, no one had ever passed it. Jim intended to be the first.

McCoy rolled his eyes at that, but left him to his studies, not trying to deter him at all.

Jim signed up to take the test a few months into the year, something that raised a few eyebrows, as most would want to study more, and take the test in the spring semester.

Nyota tried to talk to him about it, but unfortunately for her, she did it with Gaila in the room, and the Orion proved yet again her willingness to come to the defense of her friends if she thought they were being threatened. She and Jim had a very complicated relationship; they were together, but it was more friends with benefits, but friends first.

Gaila understood more about Jim's obsession with the test than anyone else. It wasn't about being the first to beat the thing. It was about someone – or something – telling him it wasn't possible. That it couldn't be done. A no-win scenario. She and Jim both agreed that if they for one second had given in, neither would have made it as far as they did. There was no such thing as a no-win scenario; she couldn't believe there was, or she never would have freed herself from the life she had had. And Jim... well, she didn't know what had happened to him, but she could tell that he had been fighting to win his whole life. She was thankful that she wasn't a Command track Cadet herself, so she wouldn't need to take the test, because she knew she couldn't deal with it. They were all studying in Gaila and Nyota's dorm room one evening, when the argument took place.

Gaila glared at Nyota as the Communications Cadet tried to get Jim to stop talking nonsense about beating the test. "Give it a rest, Nyota. You just don't like the idea of Jim possibly beating your boyfriend's test."

Nyota cut off midsentence and shot a withering look at her roommate.

Jim smirked at Nyota. "So that's what this is about," he commented idly.

Nyota huffed and gathered up her PADD. "I hope you do horribly," she ground out, before leaving the room in a hurry.

Jim chuckled, and turned to look at Gaila. She was smiling back.

"She's fun to rile up," the Orion said.

Jim nodded. "I don't know why she doesn't think I'm taking this seriously, though," he replied. "I've been studying for this all summer."

Gaila shrugged with one shoulder. "She just thinks you're blowing steam with all the talk about beating the test. She doesn't realize the way your brain works. And she doesn't realize what it is about the test that makes you need to win."

Jim noted the way she said 'need', not 'want'. He knew that he and Gaila shared a similar past, and that she understood his compulsion to beat the test because of that. He sighed. "Logically, I can understand what the test is supposed to accomplish. Remaining calm in the face of insurmountable odds, and all that. Accepting fear in the face of death, you know." Gaila nodded, shifting on her bed so that she was lying on her stomach. Jim shrugged with one shoulder. "The problem is, it doesn't really work like that. You can't just order someone to be afraid, right?" Gaila shook her head, remembering nights of fear curling in her stomach as she faced one unknown John after another.

Jim reached out and rested a hand lightly over hers. "You and I, we know that when the situation arises out there in the black, we'll remain calm, because we've already had that practice. We've been through it. We've survived. But the Kobayashi Maru… I know I can beat it, because I've already been there."

Gaila smiled lightly. "Well then, you don't need to study any more, do you? Come on," she tugged the PADD out of Jim's hands. "All work and no play makes Jim a dull boy."

Jim smirked and nodded. Needless to say, he got no more studying done that night.

XXX

Even with all that studying, Jim still failed. Everyone told him not to worry about it, that he did fine, and everyone failed, but he still signed up to take the test again in January, and went back to studying his ass off.

He buried himself so deep in studying for the test, McCoy was actually concerned he might slip to second in the class, but of course, being Jim, that would never happen.

Chris pulled him into his office briefly and tried to talk some sense into him, but Jim just shrugged it off and told him he was fine.

Chris sighed. "Jim, the Kobayashi Maru isn't something to obsess over. You've taken it, you did fine, now move on."

Jim clenched his hands into fists behind his back. "I'll take that under advisement. May I be dismissed?"

Chris held in another sigh, and nodded, as Jim immediately disappeared.

The second attempt went about as well as the first. Jim lasted slightly longer, but in the end, the result was the same.

His attitude afterwards however, was what surprised many of his friends. He spent several days after the second failed attempt secluded in his room, unseen by pretty much anyone other than McCoy, and that was only because they were roommates, and then when they all saw him again, he was, to put it politely, pissed. He hid it well, but when they talked to him, they could see the ire in his eyes.

Gaila was the only one who actually found out what the issue was. The two spent an evening alone in Jim and McCoy's room, as the doctor was working an overnight shift at the hospital.

Gaila wiggled a little, getting comfortable in her position using Jim's stomach as a pillow as they shared his bed. "So spill, Jim. Are you going to tell me what's got you so mad?"

Jim almost growled. "It's so stupid."

Gaila raised a perfectly manicured eyebrow. "What is?"

Jim sighed. "At first I thought, no one could actually be that dense, but then I looked at the coding, and I realized, they actually are."

Gaila shifted, tilting her head back to look at Jim. "You're going to have to help me out here. I have no idea what you're talking about."

Jim huffed. "The test. It's not just really difficult. After I took it the second time, I thought there was something off about it, so I took a look at the coding, and it was right there. There's actually no physical way to win. No way in it's given parameters to allow for a winning outcome. No matter what you do, you fail. How messed up is that?"

Gaila stared. "Seriously?"

Jim nodded. "It's just so wrong. It's like they're teaching potential Captains to just give up before they try."

Gaila shook her head at the audacity of the Starfleet brass. "So what are you going to do about it?" she asked, smirking.

Jim looked down at her for a moment, before he returned the smirk. "You gonna help me?"

Gaila didn't reply, but her wink said it all.

XXX

Gaila and Jim's plan required a bit of computer programming and some fine tuning, so Jim put his name down for a third go in April.

McCoy had given up trying to talk sense into his friend a long time ago, Hikaru had never even tried, Nyota thought failing was good for his ego, and Pavel looked up to him too much to want to do something like that.

In the meantime, Jim, Scotty, and Pavel were still working on their transwarp beaming theory, this time using the Engineering department's resources. They were now in the process of testing again, now with sanctioned testing animals, rather than Jon's dogs.

"Are we sure about this?" Pavel asked, as Scotty placed a cat on the platform.

Jim nodded reassuringly. "The animals are tagged," he reminded the teenager. He knew Pavel had participated in experiments previously, as he was a fourth year. He had worked on experiments that used testing animals before; it was just his nerves over what had happened the last time that was making him forget. "If anything goes wrong, they'll know where the animal ends up. You all set Scotty?" he called out.

"Aye," the Scotsman replied, stepping back and returning to them.

Jim nodded and entered the equation. "So, where should we send him?"

"Delta Vega?" Scotty suggested with a slight smirk.

Jim shot him a look, but entered the equation followed by the coordinates for the remote planet. Technically, they were supposed to use sanctioned sites approved by Starfleet, but where was the fun in that? "You want to contact the outpost there to let them know to expect a cat to show up in the next few minutes?"

Scotty nodded, realizing that perhaps they should let someone know where they were sending the animal. He had a quick conversation with the Lieutenant Commander at the outpost, and then gave Jim the go ahead. "He says they'll be ready. He actually sounds rather excited. Seems they don't get a lot of interesting things going on out there," Scotty informed them.

Jim nodded, and took a deep breath. "Well, here goes nothing," he muttered, before hitting the button.

The cat disappeared in a whirlwind of lights.

A few moments later they looked at the PADD they had that specially tracked the location of the transmitter on the cat. The coordinates matched up with the same ones Jim had entered for the planet of Delta Vega.

He shared a grin with Scotty and Pavel. "So far so good," he said. "You want to check with them and see if the cat's shown up there yet?"

Scotty nodded, and began to speak with the Lieutenant Commander. He frowned, and looked at Jim. "He says the cat's not there."

Jim looked at the computer, and then back at Scotty. "Really? Coordinates show he appeared on Delta Vega."

Scotty shook his head. "Not at the outpost."

Jim furrowed his brow. "Let me see if I can get him back. I guess we got the right planet, we just missed the exact location." Jim bent his head over the computer and began typing in commands.

They all received a surprise at what materialized on the pad.

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