Captain's log, Stardate 2260.51
Exploratory mission to Gamma Tauri IV, away team comprising myself, Cmdr. Spock, Lt. Halladay and Ensign Weiss. Our first impression of the planet was that it was a pleasant Class M world but likely uninhabited by intelligent life, however further observations disproved this hypothesis.
“Fuck me, it's hot,” Jim said, tugging at the front of his uniform shirt. He was pretty sure he'd broken into a sweat as soon as they'd materialized. They were surrounded on three sides by jungle and the air was practically a liquid.
Spock ignored him, his attention on his tricorder as Halladay and Weiss turned to guard their flank. “Scans still show no signs of life in the area, Captain.”
“Awesome,” Jim said, wiping at his forehead with his sleeve before taking a step forward. “Let's go find us some pergium deposits, shall we?”
His foot had barely made contact with the moldy leafbed again when there was a flash of something in his peripheral vision and a choked-off grunt from behind him. Jim whipped around to see Halladay prone on the ground, clutching at his bloody throat. The shaft of some kind of projectile weapon protruded from his neck.
Jim barely had time to swear again before all hell broke loose.
The planet is home to a pre-warp civilization of humanoid beings. They appear to be very advanced hunters, employing camouflage and effective stealth manoeuvres in combination with the projectile weapons which they use to subdue their prey.
“I can't see them!” Jim shouted, hitting the ground and spitting out some dirt as he peered around, trying to spot movement. Two more arrows or bolts or whatever whizzed through the space he'd just been standing in and impacted the ground hard enough to send up puffs of dead leaves.
“I suggest we make for the trees, Captain,” said Spock from where he was sprawled a few metres away. His voice had an edge to it that suggested that if he were Jim, he'd be swearing every other word.
“Good idea. You first.”
Spock looked at him.
“Oh fine, we'll all go together. Ensign!”
Weiss had resorted to using Halladay as a shield and had his phaser braced on the man's chest, waiting for permission to fire. Of course, there were rules, even when they were being shot at, and Jim couldn't give him permission.
Contact with the natives was unavoidable and challenging, and our team sustained early casualties. However, their pre-warp status was kept in the forefront of our minds and we were careful to adhere to the Prime Directive in all of our interactions.
“I fucking hate the Prime Directive,” Jim muttered to himself as he shifted his weight onto his hands.
He didn't mutter quietly enough, because he saw Spock's glance toward him out of the corner of his eye.
“The trees to your nine, Ensign,” said Jim, “on three.”
They rolled to their feet as a unit and ran full-out for the jungle, a hail of arrows following them. Jim kept an eye on Weiss' brightly-coloured shirt ahead of him, willing it not to disappear, and they slowed down when they were fifty metres into the foliage.
“We're too visible like this. Coloured shirts off and move quietly,” Jim said in a low voice. “Stay close together but not too close; we want room to manoeuvre.” He paused as Weiss struggled out of his red shirt. “I don't suppose you grabbed Halladay's phaser?” he asked.
“I did.” Weiss produced it.
“Good. Take out the power packs from his and yours and ditch them.” Jim glanced over at Spock, who was already dismantling his own phaser.
“What? Why?” Weiss was looking at him like he was crazy.
“If we get captured and searched, they don't need to get their hands on functional weapons that are centuries more advanced than theirs,” Jim said. “I personally would still rather take an arrow than a phaser kill shot.”
“I would rather take neither, if that is alright with you gentlemen,” Spock said as he threw the tiny fuel cell from his phaser into a clump of broad-leaved plants and holstered the weapon again.
Jim got the hint and started walking while still disabling his own. “Yes, okay, let's move.”
The area of the planet where we found ourselves was largely covered by thick, temperate foliage and proved difficult to manoeuvre in without adequate preparation. The level to which the Gamma Taurians have adapted to this terrain became quickly apparent.
They advanced farther into the trees, Spock a stone's throw away to Jim's left and Weiss presumably still in Spock's line of sight. The oppressive humidity of the planet was worse in the closeness of the jungle; Jim's black undershirt was soaked with sweat and the wet air moved against his face like a hot breath. Although his hearing was nowhere near the level of Spock's, he paused every few metres to listen for any signs of pursuers, and heard nothing. He dared hope they'd lost their planetary welcoming committee.
He made it another twenty metres before there was a loud snapping and crashing off to the left, followed by yelling. Jim made eye contact with Spock; it had to be Ensign Weiss. Biting back a heavy sigh, Jim slipped through the ground cover until he drew even with Spock, and they both made cautiously for the ensign's last known position.
Spock stopped him with a hand on his shoulder and pointed ahead of them. “Weiss has been caught in a trap,” he said into Jim's ear. “We should not get any closer; it is most likely a device meant to lure us out as well.”
That much was obvious; Jim frowned and peered through the foliage until he could see Weiss in the distance, hanging upside down, far above the ground, and wriggling like a fish caught on a line. He looked like he was trying to bend upwards to reach his ankle where it was caught in the rope, with little success.
“Well, what do you suggest we do, Spock? We can't leave him.” The instant it was out of his mouth, Jim realized that it was probably an illogical sentiment, given the situation and their odds of survival. So the answer Spock gave him (after a moment of pensive silence) was surprising.
“No, we cannot.” Spock shifted, settling lower in the leaves. “We must discover if he is being monitored before taking actions to free him.”
With impeccable timing, Jim felt a cold, metal edge press into his neck. As he raised his hands slowly in the air, he couldn't help but be impressed, because he hadn't heard a single sound to give away their captor's approach.
“Too late,” he said.
Possibly as a result of this species' unfamiliarity with alien races, as well as a language barrier due to the Universal Translator being unable to decipher their language, an unknown cultural misunderstanding occurred which led to their treating us as hostile intruders. The negotiation of our release proved difficult.
Jim looked up, craning his neck very carefully, and made eye contact with the being holding the blade to his neck. It had three large, entirely black eyes in the front of its head and a wide mouth, and had a mostly-humanoid frame: one head, two arms, hands with fingers, two legs, feet with toes. It wasn't wearing any kind of garments and its body was covered in small, dull scales that shone in places with beads of moisture from the air. He (and Jim was making assumptions with the 'he', but whatever) was entirely green-coloured, in an interrupting pattern of dark and light similar to camouflage Jim had seen on Earth. He couldn't tell if it was natural or painted on.
The Gamma Taurian blinked at Jim for a moment and then whistled loudly, at which another half-dozen of them melted out of the trees, armed mostly with compound bows that were camouflage-painted and might have been made out of something like tritanium. A few carried wicked-looking knives that gave Jim unwelcome images of what the blade at his neck must look like. There were clicking noises and whistles among the group and then Jim and Spock were yanked to their feet and their hands were bound behind them with plastic restraints like cable ties. Two of the hunters had gone to cut down Weiss, and they shortly brought him back, limping between them and looking dizzy. Jim had a moment to wonder if they were really going to be death-marched through the jungle before he was shoved in the back with a low whistle, and they were off.
Amazingly, they only walked for about ten minutes before emerging into a clearing where four large vehicles were parked. After much clicking and whistling, Jim, Spock and Weiss were left standing behind one vehicle while several animal carcasses, field-dressed and trussed up with cable ties (they'd actually stumbled upon a legitimate hunting trip; just their luck) were loaded into the backs of the others. Jim realized that more Gamma Taurians had emerged from the trees to join the group during their walk back; there were now fourteen in total, although except for the one left to guard them, everyone else was helping load up the spoils of the hunting trip.
Jim shot a look at Spock. They were in an open space; if they could get free quickly and quietly, they might be able to sneak away and beam back up to the ship before anyone could stop them. The odds weren't good, though, especially since they were already down a man.
Sometimes Jim swore Spock could read his mind without laying a hand on him, because with a discreet glance toward their guard (who was distracted by someone talking to him from another vehicle), the Vulcan shifted to lean against the back of the vehicle, ostensibly to take the weight off of his feet but really to hide from view the fact that his wrists were straining hard at the thick, durable plastic tie around them. It was good that Spock would never wince visibly at anything, because he was strong but so was the stupid cable tie, and Jim saw that the plastic cut into the skin of his wrists, drawing blood, before it broke with a quiet snap. Weiss heard it and began watching them with interest, which Jim appreciated because they were going to have to move quickly.
Jim was left to play the distraction, so he edged around the far side of the vehicle a bit, where they would be blocked from view, and prepared to use one of his best skills: talking.
“Hey! Hey, you. Yes, you,” he said, when the guard looked at him. “Come here for a minute!” Since, of course, the Gamma Taurians couldn't understand him, it took slightly more calling and gesturing (without the use of his hands, no less) to get his point across. He was just about to resort to interpretative dance when the guard finally approached, walking right past Spock with hardly a glance to stop an arm's length away from Jim, who smiled brightly. “How are you doing?” he asked conversationally. “Are you okay? One click for yes, two for no.”
Spock slipped up behind the guy so quietly he probably would have impressed even their hosts, and deftly administered a nerve pinch to his neck before his presence was even noticed.
“I am relieved that worked,” Spock said as he caught the guard's limp body and lowered it to the ground.
“So relieved that you're even admitting you are,” agreed Jim, turning around to wait impatiently for Spock to cut his bonds. When he was free and rubbing at his wrists, Spock handed him the pilfered knife with a raised eyebrow.
“I trust that you will keep the knowledge a secret,” he said.
“That's so sweet. I'm touched.”
Jim grabbed Weiss' elbow to haul him around the side of the vehicle and cut him loose as well. Weiss nearly stepped on the unconscious guard and jumped back with wide eyes. “What the fuck did you do to him?” he squeaked.
“Shut up and run,” was all Jim had time to say, because he heard approaching footsteps and clicking. “And try to stay low.”
They took off down the bumpy road intended for the vehicles, trying to cover as much distance as possible before their captors figured out they'd gotten away. Jim looked up and saw with intense relief that there was a sharp bend coming up in the road; if they got around it they probably wouldn't have to worry about the archers before they could be beamed back up to the ship. Jim started digging his communicator out of his pocket without breaking his stride, ready to call Scotty as soon as possible.
He heard a single, piercing whistle and without any further warning, the arrows started flying at them again. One shot high over his head and into the trees, scaring up some birds; another thumped into the ground loudly, the sound far too close behind him.
“Almost there!” he panted. “Stay low until we get behind cover!”
Another volley of arrows came at them and Weiss screamed from behind him. Jim spun around, nearly falling over, just in time to see the second arrow go right through the ensign's back and protrude through the front of his shirt, a hand's breadth above where the first one had hit him. Weiss toppled over into the dirt and didn't move again.
“Jim, we must move!” Spock snapped, grabbing him by the arm and yanking.
Jim's brain was stuck on the image of the ensign's glassy eyes as he'd fallen; he was pulled off-balance and watched with detached interest as another arrow flew through the space where he'd just been standing. Dragged by Spock's forward momentum (his hand was still around Jim's bicep, his fingers digging in so hard there were going to be bruises), Jim stumbled into a jog and picked up speed again, but not fast enough to avoid another arrow. Spock's body blocked Jim from the archers—and he could see that they were starting to get into the vehicles to pursue, but it would be a few moments yet—and so the next arrow that may have been meant for Jim buried itself between his first officer's ribs instead. Jim felt a painful squeeze against his arm as Spock's body jerked from the impact, before his grip went slack and he choked quietly.
Spock looked like he wanted to run again, but staggered instead. Jim did the dragging this time.
“Come on. You are not going to die on me, too. We didn't come down here to all die from arrows,” said Jim fiercely. He pulled a long, skinny arm over his shoulders and slung his own arm around Spock's waist, careful not to touch the shaft of the arrow that stuck out through his already-soaking shirt. “Move your ass. That's an order.”
Spock coughed and his lips were wet and green. Jim determinedly did not look at him as he awkwardly hurried the last fifty metres around the bend in the road and into the trees along its edge, hauling dead Vulcan weight the whole way.
He fought his way about five metres into the foliage before giving up and dumping Spock on a fallen log; Spock groaned at the movement, curling forward over his knees.
“Let me look,” Jim said, kneeling in the mud and pressing his hands carefully against Spock's blood-soaked undershirt, leaning forward to look at the entry point. The arrow shaft was smooth and black and likely made out of something like carbon, which meant he wouldn't be able to break off the end. The entry point, at least, was a fairly clean puncture; probably the arrowhead was metal and razor-tipped.
Spock's side hitched under Jim's hands, and he wheezed. Jim looked up in alarm.
“You can't breathe?”
All he got in response was a slow blink. Spock looked disoriented; he licked his lips and smeared more of his own blood over them. When he breathed out, he began to cough. Jim had to look away again, leaving one hand still supporting Spock's side to keep him upright while he reached for his communicator with the other.
“I need you to listen for their vehicles,” he said brusquely before hailing the ship.
“Kirk to Enterprise.”
“I've got you, Captain.”
“Two to beam up ASAP, Scotty. Have a medical team ready to meet us.”
There was a slight pause. “Two?”
Jim closed his eyes. “Just two. Energize when ready.”
“Are you in that jungle? I need you to get out in the open to get a proper lock on you.”
Of course. Spock patted at his shoulder, unable to speak, and Jim heard the whir and rumble of what was probably the Gamma Taurians coming after them in their vehicles. “I'll do my best; you do yours,” he said quickly. “Kirk out.”
“We have to run again,” he said, turning back to Spock. Spock's eyes were closed and he sagged against Jim when Jim stood. “Oh no no no, oh fuck, no. Wake up, wake up.” Jim distantly heard his own voice climbing in pitch as he grabbed at Spock, tilting his slack face upwards and slapping lightly at his cheeks.
Spock had said once or twice that he could read feelings and thoughts from almost any skin contact. Jim grabbed at his limp hand, lacing their fingers together and squeezing, and tried to project thoughts of how much he was going to kill Spock if he died right here, right now.
Spock stirred. “Illog....” he trailed off, wheezing, his chest shaking with feeble chokes; he couldn't get enough air to cough properly anymore. Jim reached out to wipe away fresh trickles of blood from his lips.
“Shit,” he said, making up his mind. “This is probably going to hurt like a motherfucker, just so you're aware.” Grabbing a pale wrist, he ducked under Spock's arm on the unwounded side, scooping him over his shoulder into a fireman's carry. Spock groaned softly but didn't have the wherewithal for much else.
Jim nearly tipped over under the extra, unbalanced weight, but took a deep breath and started picking his way back through the jungle to the road, hoping the Gamma Taurians weren't lying in wait with weapons drawn, or that better yet, Scotty would beam them up before he even made it out of cover.
When he was a step from breaking out of the trees to where the vehicles were fanned out on the road, searching for them, the back of his neck started to prickle in that familiar way and everything was suddenly bathed in a gold haze. Jim exhaled in relief.
In the end, it was the quick thinking and unique combat skills of Mr. Spock that allowed us to remove ourselves from the situation, although further heavy casualties were sustained in the attempt. Arrangements will be made for Lt. Michael Halladay and Ensign Lukas Weiss and their families notified. The science teams are currently working to discover how the lifesigns on the planet were not detected during initial scans, but the prevailing hypothesis is that the Gamma Taurians have a unique energy signature which the scanners were not calibrated to detect.
Existence of pergium deposits on Gamma Tauri IV remains unverified and further exploration is not recommended at this time, given the status of its inhabitants and the possibility of violation of the Prime Directive.
Jim's computer beeped and he stopped to save his log, rubbing at his eyes. “Yeah,” he said finally, hitting a key. Bones' tired face appeared on the screen.
“Jim,” he said.
Jim sat up quickly, his hands clenched tightly around the arms of his chair, ready to rocket to his feet. “Bones! Is he—”
“Serious but stable,” Bones said, cutting him off.
Jim sagged a little in relief.
“He had a punctured lung and two broken ribs, where the arrow went in. We've drained the fluids and re-inflated his lung, and right now he's getting a transfusion.” Bones pinched at the bridge of his nose. “At the rate you two go in and out of here, I'm going to have to start bringing him in once a week from now on to draw that green shit he calls blood, just to keep enough of it on hand.”
“Is he awake?” asked Jim. “Should I....”
“He's in one of those healing trances right now. But we were able to regenerate most of the tissue, so he shouldn't be out for much longer than it takes to finish the transfusion, I would think.” Bones looked at him through the comm link and sighed. “Oh, come on, then. You can have ten minutes.”
Jim barely remembered to terminate the connection before he was out the door of his cabin and heading for the nearest turbolift.
Written for 'diaries and journals' in cliché bingo and edited by the lovely and talented rhaegal. K/S if you're looking but not explicit.
Captain's log, Stardate 2260.51