Damn space pirates. I don’t think I said that loud enough. DAMN SPACE PIRATES! Here I am, with a nice little story, all properly planned and WHAM! THEY STOLE THE PLOT! Seriously. Captain Noreh had to instigate a whole mess of trouble and demand more story—which I didn’t think feasible until phaser-wielding pirates started running rampant all over my work.
So, in conclusion, make a cup of tea and settle in to possibly waste the next few minutes of your life on selfish characters. I’m sorry. Deeply sorry. *sigh*
One Ship of Surprise
Bones is bound, gagged, and not at all happy. He stumbles to his feet from where a Valissan dropped him, and glares at any who come near. Then there’s not much choice but to comply with the sharp forward tug—he’s leashed like a dog, and probably expected to grovel like one too.
Captain Noreh strides through the lofty chambers shouting at the top of his lungs. “I bring bounty for all! Behold, a Starfleet doctor!”
Leonard denies the instinctive eye-roll, and sticks to looking the part of a captive. (Damn, why do I always get the crappy roles?) He makes a terrible damsel in distress—with fierce blue eyes and a dark scowl.
The rag (it’s pretty dirty—for show, Jim said) in his mouth muffles his cursing as a group of Valissans surround him, curious. God, what a frightening sight—McCoy is thankful that he has a margin of trust in Noreh. Someone prods him in the chest; another in the leg with something cold. (Is that a sword?)
There is a truly ugly Valissan on a stone slab (like a throne)—complete with a ragged scar cutting across his face and a gaudy scepter in his left hand. The High Regent—it could be no other—uses it as a pointing stick, which is currently aimed directly at McCoy. The rumble comes from his mouth, says, “What is this mongrel! He’s filthy! A Starfleet doctor, you say? BAH!”
Captain Noreh stops in front of the throne, making a grand sweeping bow like a courtier (trailing leather straps from his hair—it’s absurd). “Ah, but he is genuine enough! I have proof! Behold…”
Charon steps forward from a dark corner.
“My son is HEALED!”
Leonard is shaking with laughter on the inside as several Valissans make grunts of denial and barks of surprise. One grabs Charon by the chin, as if to inspect for signs of illness, like boils or blotches, and Charon easily breaks the man’s hold and snaps at him.
The lesser Valissan backs away, but nods his affirmation to the High Regent.
“Hmm… So this—doc-tor, he is valuable. Will he cure my club foot?” The pirate lifts high the most awkwardly deformed appendage Bones has ever seen. (Hell no, impossible! At best, it could be sawed off.)
“Perhaps he could. But I have another proposition—a wiser, wealthier one.”
This High Regent seems to forget his initial outrage at Noreh’s presence and noisy orders to destroy the rogue Pirate of pirates. There had been a minute or two when Leonard was sure that they would be phaser-obliterated before they ever set foot in this cave. (And a cave it is, indeed—on the home planet of Valis, a dark, stagnate swamp of a planet. No wonder Valissans prefer space.) “Go on.”
“I will, on one condition—” Noreh pauses for effect. “Once I have explained the merits of such a hostage, and you accept my plan, you will return my ship—”
High Regent’s curious look turns into something meaner.
“—and my status in the Guild.”
“Never! You are a Bljorek slug in my dinner. I make no such deals!”
The Captain merely nods appreciatively, turns on his heel, proceeds to stuff the doctor under his arm and drag him in the direction of an exit. “Then this Starfleet doctor—and the loot of an entire starship—will be mine!”
There is a scrambling behind them. “Wait!” Someone grabs the back of McCoy’s tunic and he’s swung around to an up-close-and-personal encounter with the High Regent. “How does this little Human warrant a starship? Tell me!” He shakes McCoy like a rattle (who almost kicks his shins).
“You know of the Starfleet’s flagship Enterprise, yes?”
A litany of shouts and howls rise into a den of chaos. McCoy barely makes out the several Kirk‘s through the noise, but it’s enough to create nervous cramping in his gut. Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea after all, because they surely know about Jim; and by the sound of things—wish nothing more than to defeat the Great Kirk in a blaze of glory and wide-spread destruction. When he gets out of this mess, Noreh’s gonna be on the business-end of an unpleasant hypo.
The High Regent’s eyes are lit with an unnerving fire. “You can get me the Enterprise?”
Noreh bares both rows of upper-teeth in a grin. “This is Doctor McCoy, the Captain’s—” It sounds how he means it. Noreh has just called him the Valissan-equivalent of Kirk’s bitch. “And Kirk will come for him, I give you my word.”
The Valissan drops McCoy like he’s just discovered how diseased the Human must be. “Are you sure? How will we defeat the Enterprise?”
It’s then that Noreh scoffs at the High Regent, turns to address their attentive audience. “We are VALISSANS! Defeat is not our word, it is the coward’s word!” There are multiple growls (Valissan cheers?) and phaser-waving around the room. Noreh takes to his role like a duck to water. “Man your raiders, my brothers-in-arms! We go to WAR! We will take our new starship and sail straight to Heaven itself!”
Leonard doubts any of the Valissans are even following this nonsensical speech of Noreh’s; they seem to like the loudness of his voice and the proud bearing of his stance.
Damn. McCoy swivels his head to watch Noreh slapping random shoulders and punching the air with his fist. Jim, Spock, I hope to Hell you’re prepared…
Because the Enterprise is about to meet a horde of blood-thirsty space pirates.
“Uhura, any communication from Noreh yet?”
“No, Sir. All’s silent.”
Jim frowns and turns slowly in his chair to face the bridge screen. It is, in fact, very blank except for the rolling pace of stars. He faces the science station. “Spock—”
The words are almost too sharp for the Vulcan, and Jim’s frown deepens. “Spock, we’ll get McCoy back. You know that, don’t you?”
Spock faces him then, and says, “It was illogical to let him go.”
“But we couldn’t implement the plan any other way!”
“Illogical, dangerous, and foolish, Captain.” Wow, those are the most accusations Spock has ever made of Jim in one sentence. (It’s unsettling.) The other crew members are looking down at their consoles, because all feel a tad bit awkward at the admonishment (and anger?) in Spock’s voice.
“Sulu, take the conn.” Kirk is out of his chair and nodding at Spock. “Spock, with me.” When Spock does not automatically obey, the Captain half-snaps, “We will continue this discussion in private, Mr. Spock.”
They both move stiff-legged into the turbolift. Once the doors slide shut, Jim turns on his lover. “I thought that we all agreed on this plan!”
Spock stares, not at Jim, but at the wall. “I voiced my opinion on the matter of the Doctor’s participation.”
“And I explained then, as I just said, it’s the only way to get this to work successfully. Spock.” Kirk forces Spock to look at him. “I wouldn’t have let Bones go if I didn’t think he would be okay.”
The Vulcan sigh is a grievous matter. “There is no method to predict circumstances, Jim.”
“I know that. But we can manipulate those that we are aware of—and this is how we’ll keep him safe.” Jim holds up a device for Spock to take. “I attached a beaming locator inside the collar of his shirt. Scotty can track him and have him back on the Enterprise in a matter of seconds.”
“Fascinating… and the proper precaution.” If Jim reads his Vulcan correctly, and he usually does, Spock is less angry and more apologetic.
It brings a smile to Jim’s face. He lightly skims the Vulcan’s cheek with the back of his knuckles. “I love our doctor as much as you do, Spock. As much as I love you. I hope you never forget that.”
Spock’s eyes are dark with promise. “I will not.”
They are not quite pacing in the ready-room when Uhura comms with “It’s Noreh, Captain!”
“Tell him to hold. I’m on the way!” Jim is out the door with Spock on his heels. They arrive on the bridge in record time. Kirk is barely seated as he orders Uhura to put the Valissan on-screen. “Game faces, people,” he says firmly and quietly.
And the show is on.
“This is Captain Kirk of the starship Enterprise.”
“Well-met, Captain. I am Captain Noreh of the Scavenger, the finest Valissan raider this side of the galaxy. I believe that we have business to discuss.”
Kirk fills his voice with anger. “Where is Doctor McCoy?”
“Hmm…” Captain Noreh is intrigued, if his tone is any indication. “A doc-tor, you say? Where?”
Kirk slams his fist down on his armrest (in an eerie imitation of Noreh) and demands, “No games! Return Doctor McCoy to this ship and I won’t reduce your vessel to ash.”
There is excited chattering behind Noreh, who turns away for a moment and laughs something (quite smugly). When his attention is once again on Captain Kirk, he says simply, “We have McCoy. We will return him unharmed if you agree to vacate your ship—”
Kirk barks with laughter. “Vacate! You expect me to vacate an entire starship? And where?” He gestures his disgust. “On your home-world—Valis, that stinking cesspool of a planet? You must take me for a fool.” He leans forward, menacing. “I promise, Captain, that I am no fool. You have ten minutes to beam my Doctor aboard. Kirk, out.”
Uhura cuts the line at his signal.
For a moment, there is only silence on the bridge. And then someone’s deep sigh of relief breaks the atmosphere. Kirk slumps back, rubbing a hand over his face. “Next phase, Mr. Spock?”
“Next phase, Captain,” the First Officer agrees.
“I say we attack now!” There is a chorus of agreement from the communications console, which is linked in conference mode to ten other armed Valissan pirate vessels. (They loom at a distance, around the far-side of Valis. McCoy shudders to think about them, waiting like predators.)
Noreh commands “Hold your positions!” as if he is the High Regent himself. The Valissan High Regent (his name is grotesquely unpronounceable) sits silently to their right, whether in contemplation or indecision, they cannot know until he speaks.
Leonard doesn’t meet anyone’s eyes. He looks cowed and miserable; on the inside, he is pissed beyond compare. He had a moment where he thought Noreh wasn’t going to step in and stop the other Valissans from taking a metal-tipped whip to his back (reminiscent of that year ago) and had real fear (and hate) in his heart; then Captain Noreh caught the drawn-back arm, breaking it—which surprised McCoy—and tossing the whip aside. He lit into the rest of the crew in a vicious vitriol that mostly had them slinking away. What Leonard would have given to have understood those words (they might come in handy some day). He had to be satisfied with the skin on his back and the Valissans’ new respect for personal space.
Finally, the High Regent speaks. What he says, though, is so idiotic that Leonard wants to repeatedly brain the Valissan against a bulkhead.
“We fight to the death!”
Noreh obviously thinks he is a quite the fool too, because he snorts out, “And how shall we accomplish our deaths? Quickly or slowly? Imbecile!”
The High Regent looks taken back. “By the code, Noreh, as our ancestors fought—one-on-one combat!”
The Captain swings angrily in his chair at the sheer affront to Valissan intellect. “Such a starship as the Enterprise has a hundred times the warfare capacity! I know this; I have studied this.”
McCoy’s eyes go wide. Hell, that’s what he’d been doing with Scotty. He thought that they were sharing Romulan ale and tall-tales. Oh shit.
“You might as well present Kirk your throat and be done! No, no the old ways will not do at all. We must be innovative, we must be cunning…”
“NO!” The High Regent lurches out of his chair and hollers for all to hear (and probably the Enterprise too—McCoy sourly rubs at his ear). “I am High Regent! I am ruler of each—one—of—you—miserable—curs! I say TO THE DEATH!”
Noreh looks calm now. He holds up a hand to still the shouting. “Then, High Regent, may I suggest that you be the first to engage in battle?”
The Valissan snarls at that, wrenches at the phaser strapped to his side. McCoy is about to duck for cover when Noreh stands tall and meets his enemy with his one good eye.
“Are you a coward, then?” he asks politely.
“I am no coward, you traitor! You are the fool, for all to see—you whore the old ways—”
“I improve our chance of survival in the modern age.”
“—and scrounge for scraps left by the Federation—”
“Supplies to sustain our people, our way of life.”
“—and lose valuable weapons of war!”
“Ah,” Noreh says somewhat satisfactorily. “Now, we come to the heart of the matter. I had wondered if you knew…”
“You bring shame to our Guild, Noreh, by mucking up such a chance—when we could have the entire galaxy at our feet, begging for mercy!”
McCoy is feeling pretty damned lost at this moment, as he barely follows the whiplash of conversation.
Noreh does not face Leonard, but he almost assuredly says over his shoulder, “My deal with the two-faced fiend, a killer of thousands!”
The blood is draining from Leonard’s head as he realizes… Weston. This is about Weston and the deal gone sour for the biological warfare Weston was concocting. (Which devastated a colony of simple farmers—and lead to the deaths of Len’s colleagues—a horrible nightmare he still has at night, when he sleeps alone.) Somehow, the High Regent has discovered their (failed) attempt. He’s livid that the Valissans do not have a weapon of mass destruction. He blames Noreh; he makes Noreh suffer the consequences.
If Leonard had a phaser in his hand, he’d shoot this Valissan dead. (At least, he likes to imagine that he would.) What the creature wants is so far beyond acceptable—so malicious and wrong—that Leonard can hardly think.
The two proud Valissan pirates are still arguing sides. They toss around words like honor and weakness, disease and battle. Which is the lesser evil? To slowly suck the life out of a man or cook his innards by phaser blast? Which is the work of a pirate, and which is the work of a killer? Are they one and the same?
Leonard can take no more of this. He explodes. “You both have NO GOD-DAMNED SOULS—” A Valissan slams his fist into McCoy’s jaw. He pitches into a console, head spinning. There are hands on his crooked arms bound behind his back, righting his balance and voices coming and going that are just too garbled to understand.
Then Noreh is in his line of sight, pats his face. “McCoy, you are not necessarily wrong.”
“Cut out his tongue—” The Captain shoves a boot into the High Regent’s middle, throwing him and his unsheathed knife to the floor. The Valissan lands with a curse (a cry) and goes still.
McCoy is already wrenching out of Noreh’s hands because, as a doctor, his sixth sense kicks in. When he rolls the Valissan over, it’s to the sight of the knife buried in his chest.
Leonard can almost hear Captain Noreh’s eyebrows rise—though he can’t particularly recall that Valissans have eyebrows.
There’s little to say except “He’s dead.”
Kirk actually curses (like McCoy would) and barely suppresses the urge to kick at the communications board. It’s been over an hour and a half with no signal, comm, or blast to indicate the state of affairs. His instinct says that their plan has just been ditched by a certain untrustworthy pirate Captain. Which matters little to him except for…
He’s sent Doctor McCoy into a precarious situation with a man who has shown no great love for the doctor in the past. He has possibly sent Leonard to his death.
Jim is on the verge of comm-ing to Scotty to beam Bones back right now when Uhura’s fingers fly over her console and the bridge screen crackles to life.
It’s McCoy on the screen, in a Captain’s chair.
(Is that a bruise?)
“B—Doctor McCoy!” Jim catches himself in time. He cautiously lowers himself into his chair. “Are you alright?”
Leonard must pick up on the concern in Jim’s voice, understand that it isn’t feigned in the least. Jim feels Spock at his back—is glad, relieved. Together, they can rescue Bones—if he’ll only give the word.
“Jim.” Bones drawls the name and smiles. “You wouldn’t believe the situation over here.”
“I—I’m sure. Just—Captain Noreh?”
“Captain Kirk, you will now address me as High Regent.”
There are a few gasps around Jim, but he pays no mind. Only narrows his eyes. “Will you be returning my doctor?”
Noreh grins, places first one hand on McCoy’s left shoulder and then lowers his other hand to the right shoulder. “I may consider… a trade.”
Okay, this is definitely not part of the plan.
Jim is no longer curious, only impatient. “You will return him to the Enterprise, Noreh. I won’t warn you again.”
The Valissan laughs heartily. “No.”
And that’s it. Jim is not Jim any longer. He is Jimmy, Jim-boy—McCoy’s Jim—and mad as Hell. “Chekov!” he snaps. “Arm the weapons systems. ALL OF THEM!”
“On it, Keptin!”
He smacks a button on the left armrest, and the Red Alert is blaring. Uhura opens up the inter-ship comm and Kirk says in an almost icy voice, “Man battle stations. This is not a drill. Kirk, out.”
He faces off with Noreh, one warrior to another. “You had your chance.” He cuts communication.
A quick comm to Scotty, who is standing by in the transporter room. “Transport McCoy.”
Then he turns to look at Spock and sees something reflected back at him, something he is sure is on his own face. It might be anger; it might be ruthlessness. It is most certainly determination.
Bones isn’t on the bridge. Jim comms Scotty again, who assures him that Doctor McCoy did indeed “beam-out from right under those Valissan noses, Captain.” Apparently, Bones had run off yelling that he’d be damned if everyone in the galaxy lost their heads.
And still did not come to the bridge.
“Spock! Locate McCoy!”
“Captain, I have already done so. He is in the Security sector, Level 20.” There is a pause. “At the brig.”
Jim only has a moment to look surprised before an ensign is calling. “Captain! Captain!”
“Sir, the Orions! Security reports that the Orions have escaped… and beamed aboard their raider?” Crew mouths are dropping, because it is very apparent now what Doctor McCoy is up to—he’s releasing a decoy.
Then there is no more time to contemplate this phenomenon because the communications console is buzzing to life. Noreh is furious—if his color is anything to go by—and he demands to have his prisoner back.
Kirk says quite honestly, “He’s eluding us too.”
This momentarily stumps the Valissan. Then he finally notices that McCoy is not on the bridge. Noreh’s expression possibly lightens a notch or not. “A man like McCoy is hard to catch, no?”
Jim does not quite smirk. “You could say that.”
“Well, Captain Kirk, I suppose we must settle this as only two men of war can. I chall—” His next words are interrupted by the boom of “High Regent!” from the left. “Yes, yes. What is—Orions… ORIONS!” He faces Kirk again with a gleam in his (non-patch-hidden) eye. “Clever. Oh so very clever.”
He instantly shouts out random commands to his crew, who can be seen busily scurrying in the background. Then with a final swivel to the lesser-priority—this Kirk of the Enterprise—he grins, big and toothy. “Kirk—my friend, my foe. Until we meet again.”
“Frankly, I hope we don’t. But if we do—” Kirk’s got his shark-smile in place.
“Yes,” the Valissan pirate agrees. “We shall battle.”
Leonard is surprised that the Captain doesn’t immediately dress him down for his, quite admittedly, foolish deed. But, damn it, what else can a man do to prevent casualties? Distraction always works well for Leonard; he is a master of distraction.
But it shocks him that Jim simply pulls him into a tight embrace and runs a heavy hand over his hair. “Jim?” He wants to be sure that this is really James T. Kirk—man of action, man of passions.
“It’s alright, Bones. I’m just glad that you are okay.”
“You aren’t angry?”
“Should I be?” Jim looks at him hard.
“Well now, I would say—no. Definitely no. ‘Cause I’d do the same thing again, if I had to.”
Jim just smiles, nods.
Leonard leans in to his touch. No other words are necessary between them.
Three days. Three whole days of pirate-free bliss. McCoy lounges haphazardly in a chair, a swinging leg over the armrest, mulling over a PADD. Spock is in his meditation robes and far off in Vulcan-land. Jim, well, is due to arrive any minute. Beta shift is ending and the Captain can come home.
Later they will meet with Chekov, Sulu, and Scotty to plan Uhura’s surprise birthday party. If Scotty mentions a lately arrived case of Romulan ale as party refreshments, McCoy will marvel over their good fortune. And the Chief Engineer might reply, “Aye, strange isn’t? She was packed up nicely in the corner of a cargo unit.”
“Interesting,” Spock will mutter.
“M’buddy at the dock was a wee bit wild-eyed—if ya ken my meaning—when we picked up our supplies. Said it was a special package, come by freighter.” If McCoy, Kirk, and Spock stare at Scotty too intently, he won’t notice. “Now who’d leave a fine case o’ ale like that for the likes of us?”
Oh, and did I mention that they almost stole McCoy too? I barely managed to stop them in time. This old gal has got to rest her fingers now. They’ve been formerly possessed and only recently returned by the Captain Noreh. :)
Yes, there are purposefully open-ended conjectures… like will Noreh keep his side of the deal and follow McCoy’s Pirate Reformation Act? That’s for you to decide.
BTW, it’s celebration time. I finally hit 50,000 words after one month and a half of writing! YAY!