DISCLAIMER: The Star Trek characters are the property of Paramount Studios, Inc. The story contents are the creation and property of Caroline Nixon and is copyright (c) 1978 by Caroline Nixon. This story is Rated G.


Caroline Nixon

Two rather morose figures were standing in the transporter room. Just lately, life had lost all its sparkle, unless one counted the purely electronic brand of tinsel and glitter.

The man in the gold shirt heaved a sigh eloquent with patient martyrdom.

"Wonder where Bones has got to, Spock."

"I do not care to speculate, Captain. Recently..."

But the First Officer's words were interrupted by the precipitate arrival of the missing medical officer, young tech in tow, muttering apologetic excuses about late laundry deliveries.

"No security guards, Jim?" McCoy asked, as they took their positions on the disks. "This is an unexplored planet, after all."

"What's the point, Bones?"

"Yeah, what's the point?"

* * *

They materialized on flat terrain, the ground beneath their boots resembling an emerald green oriental carpet, intricately patterned with wild flowers in jewel colors. A light, warm, breeze rippled the grass and wafted delicious scents to four sets of unappreciative nostrils.

The Enterprise team exchanged uneasy glances.

"So far, so good." Kirk was first to break the wary silence.

"Sure, but the suspense is killing me," said McCoy, carefully pessimistic.

"I too am somewhat apprehensive as to what the script-writers have in store for us today," said Spock, siding for once with his friendly adversary.

"One bright spot," Kirk insisted. "We didn't disintegrate in the transporter beam."

"Illogical, Captain. We are needed for next week's episode."

On overhearing Spock's words, the young tech, who had been standing quietly at a respectful distance from his superiors, suddenly found the courage to speak.

"It's all right for you regulars -- sir," he croaked. "But survival rate for small part characters is practically nil."

"Calm yourself, Ensign," Spock rebuked mildly. "At least you are not obliged to repeat the same dialogue week after week. If I find myself required to say that word once more," and his voice was thick with distaste, "I shall go into Klee-fiah."

"What word, Spock?" said McCoy, blue eyes wide with innocence.

Black Vulcan eyes glittered dangerously.

But Kirk's optimism refused to be defeated. "At least there's no female for either of us to be involved with, Spock," he grinned, and his First Officer conceded the point solemnly but appreciatively.

McCoy, however, was still not satisfied.

"Yes, Jim," he said complainingly, "but this week it might have been my turn. It's been a long time, you know, since 'The World Is Hollow'."

Spock had become bored with the conversation and was moving cautiously about, scanning with his tricorder.

"No intelligent life forms," he announced, "but a few animals and birds are indicated."

"Man-eating-owl-tigers and pterodactyls, I expect," McCoy commented gloomily.

"Hardly, Doctor. They appear more on the order of Terran mice and finches."

"I don't get it," said Kirk, musingly. "No ion storms, no Klingons or irate subhuman tribesmen -- fauna harmless, flora nonpernicious -- there's got to be a catch somewhere." A sssudden suspicion made him take out his communicator to test-call the ship, but Uhura was still opening hailing frequencies beautifully, as usual.

They finally decided to make a cautious survey of the immediate area, sticking together, of course. They had been caught that way too many times before. They passed through a copse of fresh-smelling trees and breasted a rise.

Beneath them was silver sand and a sea of liquid jade.

"I don't believe it!" Kirk's voice was husky with emotion. "Look -- a beach for me to walk on!"

"Well, what are we waiting for?" grinned Bones delightedly. "Let's get walking," and he started off down the gentle slope.

The sea was lapping gently, spreading its lace over the soft sand, which was scattered with tiny shells, rosy as a baby's fingernails. Kirk bent over to dabble a finger in the water.

"One moment, Captain. The 'water' may in fact be some deadly acid," Spock cautioned. But it was only friendly old H20.

Kirk sat down on a rock. "Bones, you and the young ensign here go and check those rock pools for unusual fauna," he directed lazily, finally letting the gentle sun relax his body. "But don't go out of hailing distance."

"Aye, sir."

McCoy and the ensign moved off, disappearing behind the nearby rocks. Spock stared in amazement as his Captain began to remove his boots and socks and roll his trousers up to his knees.

"What are you proposing to do, Captain?" he asked curiously, suppressing an urge to raise an eyebrow. Cliche it might be, but it was after all an almost involuntary thing with him.

"I'm going to paddle, Spock," Kirk answered, and then, seeing the Vulcan did not understand the term, "you would call it 'immersion of the pedal extremities in an aqueous medium for recreational purposes'." Two steps from the brink, he paused and looked round, widening his eyes questioningly.

"No, sir. No crustaceans are indicated."

Kirk splashed up and down for a minute or two, a look of quite fatuous bliss on his face.

"Come on in, Spock," he urged. "The water's lovely. Go on, the ebb and flow of the water between your toes boosts the circulation and is conducive to a receptive mental state."

The Vulcan complied, carefully placing boots toes together, socks neatly rolled and tucked inside. He joined his Captain, parading solemnly up and down. Though if he were in a state of fatuous bliss, it wasn't observable on his impassive countenance.

"Feels good, eh, Spock?" Kirk was expanding his chest to maximum capacity, taking in great lungfuls of sea air.

"It is pleasant, Ca--" Kirk shot out an arm to steady his friend, who had slipped on a sly tongue of rubbery seaweed.

"Hey, perhaps that's it, Spock," laughed Kirk. "You fall in the water and get pneumonia, and Nurse Chapel gets to nurse you and give you plenty of blanket baths!"

Spock's face didn't slip as he answered, "Please, Captain, we are a family show."

They left the water and strolled up and down the beach for a while, feeling the crunch of powdery sand between their toes, basking in the peace. Two friends in perfect empathy, minds communing without the need for speech. Almost before they remembered to worry about McCoy and the ensign, they were joined by the other two, tricorders full of interesting biological data.

McCoy smirked when he saw the bare feet and rolled up trousers of his superiors. "Going to play sand-pies, Spock?" he taunted.

The Vulcan shook his head, seriously. "Unfortunately, Doctor, I lack the requisite receptacle. You wouldn't happen to have one with you, by any chance?"

Kirk's communicator bleeped.

"Captain, you're five minutes late for progress report. All goin' well doon there?"

"Couldn't be better, Mr. Scott. We can log this place as well worthy of further investigation. But you had better beam us up now. I have a stack of reports waiting for me," said Kirk, with a singular lack of enthusiasm.

"And I have data to correlate from the nova we observed last week." Spock too sounded strangely reluctant.

"Ah, well, it was nice while it lasted," sighed McCoy, taking a last look round at the tranquil scene before him.

As they transporter whine began, they heard an evil laugh grow, and fill the sky, and a leering voice jeered,

"There's always next week!"