Captain's Log: Stardate 41030.5. The Enterprise is currently orbiting the planet Serenity, hoping to make First Contact with the Serpendi, an alien race, humanoid in appearance, which just came into its own regarding space travel within the last six months. All of what we know of the Serpendi points to them being a very unique race, steeped in tradition, and with some specific customs, which we must be sure to respect. The Federation wants to be the first to extend the hand of friendship to our newest neighbors. If all goes well, I will approve shore leave for the crew of my ship. After six months of patrolling the Neutral Zone, and a number of minor skirmishes between the Romulans or the Klingons and the Federation, my crew, which has performed admirably, is tired. My Chief Medical Officer's prescription is at least three weeks of shore leave. To be completely honest, I will welcome leave.
All around the bridge, ears pricked up at the mention of the words 'shore leave'. The crew of the Enterprise was very professional, but they were as tired as the Captain had said they were, and to a man, would welcome the opportunity to get away from work for a while, to feel sunshine on their faces and grass underfoot, even if it happened to be alien sunlight and grass. Men and women sat up a little straighter, uniforms were surreptitiously tidied, and efficiency grew as morale grew, just as Captain Kirk knew it would, which was why he had made it a point to record his log on the bridge, where they could all hear it, instead of in his office or his quarters. Kirk shifted in his seat, and when that didn't help, he rose to stretch the muscles in his back. He smiled slightly at the happy murmur that traveled around the bridge.
"Captain," Lieutenant Uhura spoke from her communication's chair, "I have the Serpendi High Priestess waiting on Line 1."
"Put her on screen, Lieutenant."
"Channel open and clear, sir. Priestess Jovia standing by to receive, sir." Before Kirk had a chance to speak, the Priestess did.
"From the vast worlds and the many peoples of the Serpendi, to the peoples of Enterprise, Welcome. I am called Jovia."
"Priestess Jovia, I am called James Kirk. From the peoples of the Enterprise, we thank you."
"Is 'Captain' the same sort of usage as 'Priestess'?" she asked, tilting her head in curiosity.
"Good. I do not want to call you in the wrong way. Captain James Kirk, my people await the arrival of your ship and crew with great excitement."
"Give us the word and we will beam down to meet you."
"What is 'word'? My translator makes no meaning of this?"
"This. Each of these. What we say." Spock cleared his throat and said, "Captain, allow me?"
"All right, Mr. Spock."
"A word is a unit of speech which is capable of standing alone," Spock said, with the tightening around his eyes that was the only outward sign of his slight frustration.
"I understand. What word would you like me to give you?" Priestess Jovia asked, still not comprehending.
"In our language, "give the word" is an idiomatic expression meaning tell us when," Captain Kirk explained.
"Why did you not just say so?" Princess Jovia was beginning to become exasperated.
Spock said, "You will find that humans are very illogical creatures, Priestess. They often use idiomatic language which is difficult for other races to learn."
"Unknown, Priestess, but I have a suggestion."
"If you will allow us to turn on our own version of translation technology, we can begin to learn your language as well, and it is possible that we can eliminate this linguistic confusion."
"Yes, Spock. Please do so." Spock glanced at Uhura, who turned on the Universal Translator. After that, the usual pleasantries were exchanged, and the landing party was officially invited to beam across to the planet to meet and talk to a delegation of the Serpendi.
Kirk looked at Spock. "Call McCoy and tell him to meet us in the transporter room. Add to the landing party a team that can evaluate the rocks, plants and animals on the surface, as well as a security contingent. Meet us in the transporter room in ten minutes. Miss Uhura, you are with me."
Spock would not tell the Captain; it was a game he liked to play, to compare his analysis of mission needs to that of the Captain, and was therefore somewhat illogical. Still, he had already extrapolated which of the officers aboard ship would serve those needs best. Though Vulcan's do not smile, he allowed himself a moment of gratification to be proven once again correct in his assessment of those positions for which the Captain would ask. Later on, he would move to determining the exact crewmen, but for now he was content to know that he knew his Captain very well indeed. Spock wondered, during a time of meditation, much later, if this game was the reason he did not anticipate that which came next.
Before Spock or Kirk had a chance to leave the bridge, or tie the Serpendi in to the transporter room, where Mister Scott was waiting to calibrate the machine to the coordinates that would allow them to arrive safely on-world, they disappeared from the bridge of the ship, to the startled cries of the rest of the bridge crew. In fact, all of the personnel the Captain had requested disappeared, and when those crewmen left behind tried to describe the manner of their disappearance later, all they could say was that a "big blob of light and energy" swallowed them. No one had any idea where they went or how they got there, but go they did…
…And landed hard on the cement floor of an alien building on an unknown world. They were stunned for a moment, and lay still, their minds blank and floating. Then awareness hit them like a ton of poisoned tribbles, and they all began to stir. McCoy groaned and turned over, and then sat up, evaluating himself for pain. He was pleasantly surprised to find none. Checking on the two science ensigns (the ones who would study the physical attributes of the world) he determined that they were not injured either, and he helped the two security guards up. 'At least they allowed us security', he thought to himself, knowing that they could have refused to allow the security guards or just not brought them. Kirk just had bumps and bruises, Uhura was fine (the Captain broke her fall) and knowing that the Captain was anxious about whether all of his party had made it through this all right, he looked for Spock. He was nowhere in sight. Finally, they found him under a pile of rubble on the other side of the room.
As they approached, they determined that the pile of rubble was actually a pile of no less than ten kitten-like creatures, who were currently half mewling and half purring, and running in circles around and over their dignified Vulcan First Officer, who was looking mildly disgusted and trying hard not to let his exasperation show in his voice. Reaching with both his hands, he gently removed the creature sitting on top of his head, looking down at him. He held the tiny creature, stroking it for a moment, as if mesmerized by it, and then seemed to remember himself, and hastily put it down on the floor. Another one promptly replaced the first there, and Captain Kirk stifled a laugh as an all-out battle ensued for the position of honor, atop Mister Spock's head, where first one sat and then another, until Spock, looking as close to a fit as Kirk had ever seen him, said, "Gentlemen, I shall require your assistance, if you please."
"What Spock? Having trouble minding the children?" Kirk was still fighting to contain his laughter, and the doctor had already given up on that particular goal, but both men rushed into the fray, quite content to help Spock extricate himself from a particularly trying situation. After a long moment, and quite a few scratches, they managed to place the kittens (for lack of a better term) into a nearby box and close it. Kirk finally lost the battle with himself, as he re-played the image of his ever proper First trapped underneath a huge pile of fluff, and he let out a snicker. Spock shot him an I-am-disgusted-but-I-am-not-admitting-it-because-that-would-not-be-Vulcan look.
A moment later, the heavy oak doors swung open and a high pitched voice screeched, "What have you done with the babies? Release them this instant!" Spock hastened to comply, opening the box where it sat on the ground. After a moment, one of the 'babies' pounced on the toe of his boot, and then ran squealing away, as another one pounced on the first.
In a calmer, yet still high pitched voice, the being turned to the Captain and asked, "I am Ashtan. Would your people care to explain why you woke the little ones, or disturbed their nursery?"
"Whatever you did to bring us here landed my First Officer, Mister Spock, in the middle of your nursery. My apologies."
"No need, Captain. I would guess Wicklan is allowing his assistant to operate the controls again. I must have a word with him. Mister Spock, are you well?"
"I am undamaged, sir."
"Good. I look forward to speaking with each of you, and redeeming Mister Spock's impressions of our world. You will find refreshments through that door, and each of you have been assigned quarters for the duration of your stay here. You will find your name on the door of the one secured for you." Seeing the Captain remove his communicator from his belt, he said, "Captain, I fear you will not be able to reach your ship. We underestimated the effect our energy device would have on your ship. When you came here, your ship was thrown clear across the galaxy. Your crew is distressed, and determined to find you. They are on their way back here now, but it will take them several days to reach us. Until that time, you are quite stranded. Would you like for us to send them a message, informing them of your whereabouts and condition?"
"Yes, please." Less than three seconds later, Ashtan smiled and said, "the message is sent. Priestess Jovia has been extremely excited about your visit. She wishes me to tell you that she regrets being unable to meet you in person, but the demands of her position require her attention today. She looks forward to talking to you all at dinner tonight. She wishes you to eat something, if you desire, and then retire to your quarters to rest until the tour this afternoon, which is at 16:00 hours for you. She will conduct you personally."
"Thank you, and please send my thanks to the Priestess as well."