DISCLAIMER: The Star Trek characters are the property of Paramount Studios, Inc. The story contents are the creation and property of Cheree Cargill and is copyright (c) 2000 by Cheree Cargill. This story is Rated PG.


Cheree Cargill

Stardate: 1512.9. First Officer Spock recording.

The Fesarius fades to a pinpoint of light and is gone, taking with it the ship's diminutive captain Balok and our just-resigned navigator Anthony Bailey. A total misfit among the crew of the Enterprise, Bailey found a soul-mate in the First Federation ship commander. It is one of those odd meetings that one could never predict or fathom. Nevertheless, Balok and Bailey took an instant liking to one another and, the more they talked, the more they found in common. In the end, Balok invited Lt. Bailey to his home on the planet Na'asreen, as his guest and as the erstwhile ambassador from the United Federation of Planets to the First Federation of Space Faring Worlds. Worlds, in this case, meaning entire planets and stellar groups.

Bailey keenly wanted to go and Captain Kirk accepted his resignation. As he, Bailey, Balok and I sat in the main conference room, the Captain said, "All I ask, Mr. Bailey, is that you keep in mind the Prime Directive and do not interfere in the culture of Commander Balok's world."

Balok threw back his head and erupted into his infectious laugh. "Do not fear that, Captain," he answered. "We will not permit it." Then, still grinning, he became more serious. "Just as we will not permit your United Federation to interfere. No, Captain, it is not that we fear your influence. Just the opposite. You are not ready for contact with us!"

I glanced sideways at Kirk, watching a number of barely suppressed emotions flicker over his face. "I am sure that our government will wish to invite you to join us," he said finally, diplomatically.

"But I don't think we will be willing to," Balok replied charmingly. "To use an analogy you will understand, Captain, the First Federation is like a grandparent being invited by children to join a tea party. No, Captain Kirk, it would not be healthy for those children to come from their tea party into the grandparents' world of technology and politics beyond their understanding. Later, when you are more grown up perhaps, but not now."

"Then why are you asking Mr. Bailey to come with you?" Kirk asked, genuinely puzzled.

Balok let his gaze roam up the tall frame of the Human beside him, coming to rest on the roughly chiseled face and shock of blonde hair. "Bailey has a pliability and sense of wonder that will allow him to see and accept what is around him. He does not fit well into your structured world, but what he will find with us will both delight and instruct him. Someday, Captain Kirk, he will be our liaison to your worlds."

Kirk looked bemused. "Very well, Commander. Mr. Bailey, you stand relieved and I accept your resignation from Starfleet."

"Thank you, sir," Bailey responded.

"Go turn in all your Starfleet gear and get your stuff together."

"Yes, sir. And, it's been a pleasure serving with you."

The two men shook hands and Bailey left the briefing room to gather his belongings for his departure from the ship. Kirk turned back to Balok, who was sitting across the conference table from him in a tall chair used for smaller races and peoples.

"Now, Captain," Balok continued. "Once Mr. Bailey has transferred to my ship, I must ask that you leave the area. As much as we Federates wish for friendly contact, you are encroaching into our space. The purpose of our warning buoy was to mark the boundaries of our territories and your destruction of it might be viewed as a less than cordial act."

"For that, I do apologize, Commander," Kirk answered. "If there's anything I can do..."

"It has already been replaced, Captain," Balok assured him. "And we have corrected the oversight that generated the misunderstanding. It will now transmit a message signal to any other explorers who might come upon it and fail to comprehend its meaning."

"I will so note in my report to the Starfleet. This is our first foray into this area and we did not know that the area was claimed. We were sent to map this area."

"I completely understand, Captain. Have no fear of reprisals," Balok nodded. "But we ask that you cease your mapping and return to your own space. Inform your government that we will contact you when we are ready."

"I will do so, sir."

"And now, gentlemen," Balok said, getting down from his chair. "It is time I returned to the Fesarius and prepared quarters for my guest." He bent down to retrieve a round package wrapped in what appeared to be midnight-blue velvet and set it on the table. "But before I go, may I present you with a memento of our meeting, Captain Kirk?"

Bemused, Kirk took the package and the velvet fell away, revealing a bubble of shimmering, golden pink liquid. It seemed as if only surface tension was holding it together and Kirk drew his hands away, afraid to touch it.

"Tronya," he said.

"Yes, Captain. A gift toward future friendships."

"I am deeply honored, Commander!" the Captain said, his eyes still riveted on the bubble. "But how do I ... er ..."

Balok laughed joyously again. "It will not break, Captain. Never fear. Place it is a bowl such as you saw me use on my ship and it will contour itself to that. The seal will dissolve. Afterwards, you may transfer it to any other containers you wish."

Kirk looked up, his eyes shining. "You must allow me to give you something in return," he said. "Although I regret that we do not carry onboard the finest wines that our culture has to offer."

That seemed to send Balok into unaccountable spasms of mirth. "Tronya is far from our finest wine, Captain Kirk. Indeed, it is a popular drink that is widely available anywhere throughout the First Federation. Tell me ... I have scanned your databanks and this has intrigued me ... do you perhaps have on board something called ... Coca-Cola?"

My eyebrows went up at that and Kirk's face spread into a wide grin of pure delight. "Yes, Commander," he chuckled. "Yes, we do. It is available through the ship's food dispensers. A very old and time-honored drink from Earth, my home planet."

Balok's eyes twinkled. "Then, might I arrange a trade with you, Captain?"

Kirk broke into delighted laughter. "Mr. Spock, would you arrange to have six cases of Coca-Cola transferred to Commander Balok's ship?"

"At once, Captain," I replied and swung my chair around to the computer console to make the necessary preparations.

Kirk stood and walked around the table to stand before his alter ego, the alien barely coming up to his waist. "Commander, I think this is going to be the beginning to a beautiful friendship. May I escort you to the transporter room?"

"Gladly, Captain," Balok chortled and the two captains exited. I shook my head in bemusement and sent the supply order to the ship's quartermaster, already anticipating the return call that he would immediately send back. It came, right on schedule.

"Mr. Spock," Lt. Commander Criswell said, his gray-blue eyes staring at me in helpless puzzlement from the computer screen. "You want six cases of Coke sent where??"