Disclaimer: Star Trek characters are copyright by Paramount Studios. The rest of the story is copyright (c) 1975 by Cheree Cargill and may not be reproduced in any form without express written consent of the author. A single copy may be downloaded for personal enjoyment of the reader.
(originally published in "Federation Chronicle" #4, 1975 as "A Run for the Roses")
Captain James Kirk looked up uneasily at the steadily darkening sky and took out his communicator. "Kirk to Enterprise."
"Scott here, sir."
"What's your reading, Mr. Scott?" the Captain inquired.
"Ionization is up four percent," said Chief Engineer Scott. "You hafta come aboard in fifteen minutes, sir."
"Give us ten minutes, Scotty," Kirk acknowledged, "then prepare to beam us up. Kirk out." With that he put the device away.
The landing party -- himself, his first officer Mr. Spock, Geologist Henshaw, and Biologists Piper and Grebowski -- was spread out over a large area and doing their respective jobs despite the menacing weather.
Kirk looked up at the dark clouds milling together in turmoil and reflected that they might not have ten minutes. There was a flash of lightning and the clouds grumbled together restlessly. The wind rose, swirling leaves and dust, bringing with it the unmistakable scent of rain. The Captain took out his communicator and flipped up the grid. "Kirk to Spock."
"Come on back, Mr. Spock. Looks like we're in for a thunderstorm."
"I was becoming concerned," replied the half-Vulcan first officer. "I shall meet you at the landing site. Spock out."
The Captain switched channels and called Grebowski, repeating his message. The sky rumbled warningly. Kirk looked around at the lovely blonde biologist taking readings with a tricorder nearby. "Wrap it up, Lieutenant. Let's go."
"Right, sir," she replied. Linda Piper took one last reading and folded the instrument back together. She gave Kirk an appraising look and followed him down the overgrown trail through the brush. The wind had risen to almost gale force intensity and the huge trees around them swayed and groaned. The ground trembled as a deafening peal of thunder exploded. At the same time, rain fell in tangible waves about them, almost knocking them to the ground with its force.
Kirk shoved Linda ahead. "Hurry!" he shouted above the wind and rain.
A tree limb snatched at the biologist's tricorder and broke the strap, whipping the device up into the branches.
"My tricorder!" she cried, colliding with Kirk as she turned back.
"I'll get it! Go on!" A little uncertainly, she left him them broke into a run. Kirk caught a low, heavy limb and swung up, nearly slipping on the rain-slick branch. He made a determined grab at the swaying tricorder.
Linda ran into the clearing where the other men were waiting, bent against the lashing rain.
Spock caught the girl and held her against the force of the wind. "Where is Captain Kirk?!"
"Back there! I -- I lost my tricorder--"
The storm lashed out with new fury. Jagged streaks of lightning cut the dark sky. The men were huddled together anxiously. Spock looked tortured, then took out his communicator. "Spock to Enterprise! Lock on and beam, Mr. Scott."
On the Enterprise, Scotty activated the transporter and beamed them up. The controls shot sparks as the images began to form and the lock slipped. Scotty cursed under his breath and tried again. "Come on, ye mechanical beastie!"
This time, he got them aboard. Spock leaped off the platform, ordering, "Lock onto the Captain! Beam him aboard!"
Scotty was working at the controls. "We've only got 70% power, Mr. Spock. Dunn, see if you can find Captain Kirk down there."
The transporter chief searched the scanner. "There's too much interference, sir. I can't pick up his readings."
Scotty tried to no avail. "This ion storm's blowin' in too fast," he said.
"Boost power," Spock said.
"I'm sorry, sir," Scotty answered, his brown eyes haunted. "We're doin' everything we can. I can just barely read the planet down there. There's no hope of pickin' up anything as small as man."
* * *
"Captain's Log, First Officer Spock recording. We are orbiting Alphard 3 on a routine exploration mission. However, an ion storm of immense proportion is blowing through this system, disabling our instrument. Adverse weather conditions on the planet's surface forced us to leave prematurely and Captain Kirk has been stranded there."
"Try to contact the Captain," Spock ordered as he stepped from the turbolift, dripping wet and on his way to his scanners. Uhura gave him a puzzled look then complied. The Vulcan crossed to Ensign Pavel Chekov who was bent over the hooded viewer at the science station. "Readings, Mr. Chekov?"
"Ionization ees up sixteen percent, sir," answered the Russian, his face blue from the radiated light. "Approaching the danger zone."
Spock swung on the communications officer. "Anything, Lieutenant?"
"No, sir. I can't punch through this static. It's got my board--" She gestured helplessly at the panel before her.
Scotty appeared from the lift and reported, "We can't stay here in orbit too much longer, sir. This radiation is gettin' too intense."
Spock sighed and looked at the main screen, on which the cloud-streaked planet turned slowly. At last he said, "Very well, Mr. Scott. How long?"
"Twenty minutes, sir," the engineer decided.
Spock looked grim. "Thank you, Mr. Scott."
* * *
When Kirk came to, it was raining and the great tree was bending over him, dripping cold, fresh water on him. The back of his head felt as if someone had clubbed him and it throbbed incessantly.
Within the forest, it was dim and cold, the soft, trickling sound of rain, pleasant. Kirk had no idea how long he had been out or what had happened. The tricorder was lying in the mud beside him, its strap snapped cleanly in two. Evidently he had made a grab at it, slipped and fallen.
Then it dawned on him. McCoy should be standing over him in sick bay by now. How long since the storm? A few minutes? Hours? Days?
Slowly sitting up, he fished around and found his communicator. The grid was stuck with gummy black mud. After a minute, he managed to raise it. "Kirk to--" Abruptly, he shut up. It hurt too much to talk. It would have been no use anyway. The instrument had been penetrated by water.
As his mind cleared, he realized that he was sitting in the rain and that a chill was creeping inexorably into his bones. He had to find shelter of some kind. With an effort, he climbed to his feet -- and immediately white fire shot through his head. After he had steadied, he started carefully in the direction of the landing site.
* * *
Chekov looked regretfully at Spock. "We are een the danger zone, sir."
Dr. McCoy was standing beside the Vulcan, now in dry uniform, and glanced at the navigator when the First Officer did not stir. Scotty swung his chair around.
"We've got to get outa here, Mr. Spock," he said. "We canna take this storm." The ship had already started to buffet. "Sir..." pleaded Scotty as the ship bucked beneath them with particular violence.
Spock looked extremely uncertain then ordered, "Discontinue search. Prepare to leave orbit. Mr. Chekov, what is the estimation on how long it will take for this storm to pass?"
"Radiation levels should be tolerable in ten days, sir," Chekov replied promptly from the science station.
Spock nodded. "Take us out of orbit, Mr. Sulu. I want us out of the danger zone. Warp one."
"Warp one, sir."
* * *
The thunderstorm quickly dispersed into the south and the late afternoon sun shown down through the trees. Kirk stood alone in the muddy landing site, staring up into the sky, empty save for a few scattered clouds. The Enterprise must be gone. They'd left him. Good, thought Kirk. Get my ship out of here. Save her, Spock. Still ... it was a lonely feeling to know that it was gone.
The pounding in Kirk's head was beginning to let up and the requirements of survival began to creep into his thoughts. He needed water and shelter and food. It would be dark soon and he'd need a fire, too. He still had his phaser. That would do to touch off a small fire ... if he could find some dry kindling, that is. Picking a likely direction, he re-entered the woods.
Eventually, he came upon a small creek which gurgled past rapidly, fully a foot above its normal water level. Projecting out above the water was a large flat rock and a beam of sunlight shown down through the trees on it. Tired, Kirk sat down on it and basked in the warmth of the sun ray. His bones hurt clear through and he lay back, willing to let the sun warm out a few of his aches for just a few minutes. Just a few minutes ... then he would move on.
It was dark when he opened his eyes again. He was lying on his side, a bit stiff but not as sore as he had been. At least he could think clearly now. A fire. He'd been searching for kindling. He'd need it both for warmth and to ward off whatever animals prowled these woods at night.
As Kirk rolled over onto his back, he felt something knife into his leg. Instantly, he jerked away and grabbed at the burning place. Simultaneously, there was a slithering sound across the rock and a soft "plop" into the water below.
Probably some sort of snake, but he had no time to find out what kind. His hand had come away wet with blood and now his whole leg seemed about to burst into flame. A tourniquet -- he needed a tourniquet! He ripped at his shirt, but it only tore in small pieces, too small to be used to tie the leg off, preventing the poison from spreading.
The exertion only caused the fire to spread more quickly and Kirk forced himself to lie still. Blood must flow slower. His mind was growing fuzzy when suddenly there was someone there, bending over him, tying something tight around his thigh. A smile slowly crept across the Captain's lips. Good old McCoy; always there in time. "Bones..." he whispered, then the whole world went dark.
* * *
At first, Kirk thought that he was in bed in his cabin, but, as his mind cleared, he realized that his cabin had never looked like this. The room was very golden, the light flickering. Above him, a rough hewn roof and thatched roof receded into darkness. Weakly, Kirk turned towards the source of the light, a large fireplace, alive with a merrily snapping fire, and made out a figure silhouetted against the glow. The light hurt his eyes and he looked away, unable to stifle a groan.
Immediately the figure arose and came to the bed, asking in a soft, feminine voice, "Awake at last? I was afraid I'd lost you."
Kirk turned back to look at the speaker. A young woman perhaps in her 20's was bending over him, her auburn hair gathered into a long braid. "What happened to me?" he asked in a whisper.
"You were bitten by a water viper," the girl answered, going to the fireplace and dishing out something from the pot hanging over the flames. "Very poisonous ... usually fatal. But I got to you in time." She brought the bowl back and helped him up a bit. "Here, drink this. It will strengthen you."
He hesitated. "What is it?"
"An herb mixture. Drink it." Too weak to protest, he took a sip and almost gagged on the bitter, greenish broth. The girl looked sympathetic. "I know it's awful but try to force it down. You'll feel better."
Kirk complied then lay back with a sigh. He was dizzy but fought it off. The girl sat down to watch him. "How long ago did you find me?" Kirk asked.
"Three days. You've been awake some, but delirious." She smiled. "I am Daava. You are a stranger here, I think."
"Yes. I come from ... a far place. I am Jim Kirk."
"Are you a knight or wanderer or someone in search of a lost lover?" The girl's blue eyes sparkled with curiosity.
"A ... wanderer," Kirk answered. He wanted to say more, but his eyes would not stay open.
"Rest," said Daava softly. "You will feel better tomorrow." Kirk struggled to stay awake. "Rest now," she repeated. "It is just the drug." He protested feebly then fell into a deep, untroubled sleep.
* * *
Morning had come when Kirk woke up. The little cabin was filled with a warm, delicious smell. Outside one of the two windows, multi-colored birds sang. Daava came in the door carrying a small basket and set it on the table. Noticing he was awake, she smiled. "Good morning. Did you sleep well?"
"Yes, very well," Kirk answered, only half-remembering the previous evening's activities.
"Do you feel like eating anything?" she asked.
It suddenly dawned on Kirk that he was starving. He couldn't remember eating in days and his empty stomach complained bitterly. Daava flashed a wide smile at him and turned to the fireplace.
Soon she had set before him a wooden plate heaped with three eggs cooked in a style Kirk had never seen (certainly not from chickens, but close enough), a slab of roasted meat, a chunk of coarse bread, a bowl of boiled grain and a mug of milk from an equally obscure animal. Kirk tore into it ravenously and was nearly through before he noticed that Daava was smiling approvingly at him, pleased that he was devouring the meal with such enthusiasm.
Realizing his bad manners, Kirk slowed down and complimented her on the meal. She smiled again. "Your obvious enjoyment went beyond words." She began to talk conversationally and Kirk learned that she was 22 years old and had lived in the cottage all her life. She'd lost her mother when she was twelve; she'd never seen her father. Although she questioned Kirk, he deftly avoided answering her inquiries. All he told her was that his home was far away, that he'd been separated from his friends during the storm and must wait for their return in several days.
Two days passed, along with a fierce thunderstorm in the middle of the second night. Kirk had awakened to find Daava shivering beside him in bed. She had insisted that he take the bed while she slept on a straw pallet across the room. But tonight she sought him out and he smiled to himself as he drew the girl to him and sank back into sleep.
The morning dawned clear and the sun rose grandly over the hills to the east of the cabin. Daava rose early and puttered busily about the single room. Kirk lay dozing in bed until the lawn light penetrated into the room. Daava came back in, carrying a pail of thick, creamy milk and poured it into a small wooden churn sitting in the corner. Sitting down at a stool beside it, she began to pump it methodically. Kirk rose and went over to her.
"Let me do that," he said. She looked surprised, but got up from the seat and relinquished it to him. After ten minutes of vigorous churning, he decided that this would make a profitable admission to the gym on board the ship. His muscles were stiff from non-use and hurt as he bobbed the long stick up and down. It almost seemed that this stuff was getting thicker.
Daava took over a few minutes later and not too long after that lifted the lid off. She seemed pleased and retrieved a large spoon from the mantle. With that, she began to dip out large scoops of soft, white butter into a little crockery pot.
Noticing Kirk's curiosity, she smiled. "It's market day in the village. I'm going to sell this butter, some eggs and some stitchery. Would you like to come?"
Kirk nodded. The girl turned back to her work. "I found some of my father's clothes in with my mother's things. Maybe you can wear them." She pointed to a musty chest lying in a dark corner.
Kirk moved to it and slowly opened it. The contents inside were dusty and a bit smelly with age, but still quite good. With care, he pulled out a worn leather jerkin and pants. Underneath them was a small package of animal skin. Kirk became aware that Daava was beside him. She reached down and lovingly took out the package, holding it in her hands for a long moment. Looking up at Kirk, she said softly, "This was my mother's."
Quietly, she opened it and Kirk saw inside a plain gold band, a locket on a chain with a pearl in the center, and a golden book encrusted with gems. "I once asked Mama how she came by this and she said that Papa had been a wandering knight. He had been wounded and she nursed him back to health. He stayed for a year and, when he died, he left her these and a daughter."
Daava's gaze faded off into space for a second, then she lovingly placed the jewelry back in the chest and quickly turned back to her tasks. Silently, Kirk changed into the clothes. There were just a little big, but fit fairly well. Daava's father must have been about his size.
Within the hour, they were ready and started down the little dirt path that led through the forest and down the hillside into the village. It turned out to be a small cluster of houses and shops grouped around an open square, now bustling with life. There were stalls set up around the square and people both sold and bought things there. Daava cheerfully walked down among them, greeting those she met, while Kirk walked self-consciously behind her. He received quite a few curious stares but no one seemed overtly hostile so he smiled back.
Daava spread out a blanket under a tree in what little space she could find and proceeded to display her wares. Almost immediately people began to gather to bargain with her. Kirk excused himself and wandered about the village. After an hour or so, he came back to the town square. He found Daava strangely quiet. However, she smiled at him as he bent down to her.
"What's wrong?" he asked, his hazel eyes filled with concern.
"Nothing, Jim," Daava answered, but there was a fear deep in her azure gaze that betrayed her gentle smile. Abruptly she changed the subject. "I am ready to finish my shopping. I have sold all my goods and must buy a bolt of cloth." Without saying anything more, she got up and gathered her things.
They remained in the village until late afternoon, Daava delighting in visiting the little shops and stalls. They bought a sausage and a little bottle of wine and started on the journey home, Kirk packing the bolt of blue cloth they had purchased.
The sun was starting to sink down into the west when they reached the cabin. Daava threw her scarf back from her hair and sighed, seeming with relief. They put their things on the table and the girl turned to Kirk. "Would you get some water? I'll stoke the fire back up and start supper."
"Fine," Kirk answered. He hesitated, though, for Daava had acted strangely all the way home. She kept looking over her shoulder, as if she thought they were being followed, but she denied any apprehension when he questioned her.
Daava was busily poking at the embers in the fireplace and throwing in small sticks. Deciding he'd better get the water before the sun went down, Kirk picked up the wooden bucket standing by the door and started outside. Then, abruptly, he set it down and retrieved his phaser from the little bundle of clothes beside the bed. Daava glanced curiously at him but remained silent. Kirk quickly strode out.
He went down to the place in the creek where the water frothed over an outcropping of rocks and pushed the bucket down into the water. It would be cleaner here than in a quiet pool.
He was almost back to the cabin when a scream from that direction froze him in his tracks. The next instant, he was running up the slope, his phaser ready. A burly man was holding Daava tight while another seized her face in his hands. He laughed roughly then pressed his lips hard against the struggling girl's mouth. A third man stood nearby, watching.
Kirk paused behind a tree and took careful aim at the one abusing Daava. The phaser was only set on stun but it knocked the man away from the girl. His accomplices looked up, startled, and Kirk picked off the second one. That was enough for the third man, for he made a dash for cover. Kirk dropped him before he had taken ten steps.
Then, jamming the phaser into his belt, the Captain ran to where the girl lay sobbing. Dropping to his knees beside her, he quietly gathered her up in his arms. She clung to him desperately.
"Oh, Jim!" she cried. "It was awful! They ... they came and found .. me alone and ... and they were going to..." Her words dissolved into wails.
"Shhhhh," he told her gently, stroking her hair. "It's all right. Hush now. You're safe now. Stop crying, honey."
She looked up at him, blinking tears from her reddened eyes. "Oh, Jim, don't ever leave me!"
Overcome with compassion for her, Kirk enfolded her in his arms again. No, it was more than that. He had grown to love Daava in the few days that he had been with her. He lifted her face up to him and brought his lips down on hers.
* * *
Although the ion storm was far from over, radiation had dropped enough to allow the Enterprise to circle back into orbit around Alphard 3.
As soon as orbit had been established, Spock told Uhura, "Try to contact Captain Kirk."
"Aye, sir," the communications officer replied, turning to her panel and going diligently to work. At last, she looked up with a sigh. "I can't reach him, Mr. Spock. I get no return signal at all."
"Keep trying, Lieutenant. Mr. Chekov, begin a scanner sweep of the planet's surface, specifically in the area around the original landing site. Try to locate him down there."
"Aye, sir." The little Russian moved immediately to the science station and began his work.
* * *
Kirk turned from the still slightly sobbing girl to the three men who were beginning to stir. "Better get these tied up," he said, "before they try anything again."
He moved toward the first one, taking off his belt. But, as he bent down to pull the man's hands together, the inert figure bolted up, smashing Kirk square in the chin. The blow knocked him backwards and he fell, dazed. At once, the big man was on him, pounding his fists into him. The pounding snapped Kirk out of his shock and he brought his knee up with all his force into the man's groin. The man's eyes bulged and he rolled away, clutching his injuries in pain.
Kirk scrambled to his feet and swung into a ready stance, but was hit from behind by a blow on his head. At the same time, he became aware that Daava was screaming. Then all went black.
When he came to once more, he found himself looking up into the concerned face of Dr. McCoy. The shock of recognition seized him. "Bones!" he whispered. "How-- Daava!"
Despite the pain in his head, he sat up, looking around for the lovely young girl. McCoy laid a restraining hand on his shoulder. "Easy, Jim. She's in the cabin there."
"Help me up, Bones. I must go to her. I must--"
McCoy pulled him to his feet but still held him back. "Jim, I must tell you... warn you..." The doctor wet his lips. "Jim, I don't know what went on here. We beamed down to find you lying out here in the grass and the girl ... well ... Jim, she's been raped and beaten very badly. The cabin has been ransacked. What could anyone--"
"Daava!" Kirk pushed past the surgeon and stumbled into the little cabin. Christine Chapel looked up from the bed where a still figure lay. Spock was standing beside the cold fireplace.
The Captain froze then moved to the bed. Christine moved back into the shadows and Kirk sat slowly down on the edge. Daava barely opened her eyes as he took her hand.
"Jim..." she whispered.
"Oh, my darling," he said in despair. "Why did they do this to you?"
"The jewels... My mother's jewels..." Daava could barely speak. Her face was bruised and swollen. Blood could be seen soaking through one of the patches above her left eye. "It makes men ... greedy..."
"I swear revenge on this," Kirk whispered.
"No... no..." The girl's voice had softened to a bare whisper. "It will not right this wrong. They are doomed al... already. The Lord's Guard has been ... seeking them... for many weeks now. Their greed ... will betray them."
"Daava, Daava," he begged. Then to McCoy, "Can't you do something?"
McCoy was silent. Kirk knew it was futile. Daava's sigh brought him back around to her. "I love you," she whispered.
"I love you, Daava. I love you." He brought her hand up to his lips and kissed it gently. Very peacefully, with a hint of a smile on her lips, Daava quietly closed her eyes.
Kirk bent forward and buried his face in her auburn hair.