• Published 8th Sep 2016
  • 14,358 Views, 1,194 Comments

Where No Pony Has Gone Before - RK_Striker_JK_5

Equestria makes contact with the Enterprise. Star Trek/MLP crossover.

  • ...

Chapter Thirteen

Author's Note:

1. First, some appropriate music:


2. Thanks to
Talon and Thorn, and sun tzu for general editing. Thanks to River Road for help with the scene with the Tabasco sauce, and Foals Half with Spock's retort to Bones, Celestia's line at the end, and Blueblood's line about pride being a poor reason to continue the fight.

3. Confession time. Lyrica Lilac's feelings are... basically mine concerning the general populace of Canterlot. The amount of demonization, villification, and whatnot genuinely angers me. The fact that Discord, Starlight Glimmer, and other genuine villains get passes while the vast majority of a city get their names dragged through the mud because of a tiny minority is horrid. The vast majority of people we've seen in Canterlot are really not that bad. To sum it up, so we don't get thirty pages of Striker's Ranty Rants of Ranting, I'd rather spend time with Blueblood at his canonical worst, than Discord at his canonical best.

4. Author's notes placed at top of chapter per request from Stainless Steel Fox.

5. After some consideration, I have removed the bit about Blueblood losing teeth and blood. You're right. It was a bit too much.

Captain's Log; Stardate 6013.23. This afternoon I find myself in the rather... unenviable position of being locked in a duel with one Prince Blueblood. Due to some miscommunication at our formal introductions, I shall now have to... face off against him. Although I still hope to find a nonviolent solution, that hope is fading fast.

Four golden columns of light appeared in Mane Street, fading away and leaving behind Kirk, Spock, Bones, and Uhura. Several residents of the town were out and about. Some glanced over at them transporting in, but otherwise paid them little mind. The most extreme was from three mares at a flower cart. They jabbed their hooves at the quartet, eyes wide as they gasped and shouted.

Kirk looked around. He quickly spotted Twilight, Rarity, and Applejack standing in front of a two-story building near the center of Ponyville proper. Twilight stood off from the other two, chatting with an unfamiliar pony by the main doors. She had a gray mane and tail, wore a pair of Prinz-necs at the end of her muzzle, a cravat around her neck, and had a rolled-up scroll for a cutie mark. He started towards them, the rest of his landing party following.

Bones glanced around the street as they walked. “Right out of a Norman Rockwell painting. Well, if Norman Rockwell was a pony.”

Spock looked to him. “Since Norman Rockwell was not a pony, I believe your analogy falls apart, Doctor.”

Bones rolled his eyes. “That wasn't the point, Mister Spock, and you know it!”

Spock arched an eyebrow. “Then perhaps you should have been clearer, Doctor.”

Uhura kneaded her forehead. “Must you two do this now?”

Bones held his hands up. “My apologies, Miss Uhura. You're right.”

As they walked over, Twilight's head shot to her right. She waved a wing at the group. “Hello, everyone!” She pulled the wing back and pointed it at the mare she was conversing with. “This is Mayor Ivory Scrolls, the duly-elected mayor of Ponyville.”

Ivory Scrolls adjusted her glasses before bowing her head. “Delighted to finally meet you, Captain. Although I wish the circumstances were different.”

Kirk nodded. “I too wish this hadn't... come to pass.” He looked around at the Ponyville residents in Mane Street and motioned to them. “It seems a bit... busy here, Mayor.”

Ivory Scrolls looked around. “Well, Captain. You will be doing your duel during the busiest time of the day. And with all the news and gossip that's been floating about, it would've be quite difficult to keep any crowds from gathering on such relative short notice.” She clopped her front hooves together and grinned. “And I'm quite interested in seeing the action!”

Kirk's jaw canted slightly. “Well, hopefully you won't need more... entertainment after the duel. I intend to keep it as short as possible.”

Four more columns of energy appeared near the group, quickly coalescing into Kang, Mara, Kinna, and Kellett. Kang looked around, spotted Kirk, and thumped his chest in a Klingon Salute. “qaleghqa'mo' jIQuch, Kirk!” He bared his teeth in a grin. “Are you ready?”

Kirk returned the salute. “As ready as I'll... ever be, Kang. Here to enjoy the show?”

Kang barked a laugh. “Of course! I look forward to seeing you battling that fop. I expect you to teach this Blueblood a lesson in combat he won't soon forget.”

Kinna cracked his knuckles. “Assuming he survives it, of course.”

Kirk walked over to Kinna, right hand held up. “No one is killing... anyone, Kinna. I'm going to try one more time to... talk to Blueblood, to make him see reason.” He shook his head. “If he doesn't... then we fight.”

Rarity strode up to Kirk's side. She was wearing a white, frilly dress this day. “Captain Kirk will do what is necessary, my dear Commander Kinna. If that lout has an ounce of common sense, he'll drop to all fours and beg for forgiveness!”

Applejack rolled her eyes. “Shall we get your fainting couch ready, darling?”

Rarity turned to her, grinning. Her horn lit up and her fainting couch floated into view. “All ready, my dear. Always pays to be prepared.”

Twilight groaned. She trotted over to Kirk's other side. “My apologies, Captain. Rarity felt it her duty to be here, since she was part of the initial incident. And Applejack wasn't going to stay away.” She looked over her shoulder and motioned at her castle, rising up above the town. “Also, Sunset wrote back to me last night. She and Trixie will be over around five o'clock in the afternoon. Is that all right?”

Kirk nodded. “This whole affair should be... over and done with well before then.”

Bones spoke up. “And I'll guarantee Jim will be right as rain for that meeting, Princess.”

Kang's brow furrowed. “You are having a meeting?”

Twilight's cheeks turned a pale red. “Yes, and... Captain Kirk, I think Captain Kang should be there.”

Kang glanced from Twilight to Kirk. “I would appreciate not being kept in the dark, Kirk. What are you plotting? Who is this Sunset Shimmer?”

Kellett walked over to the group. “Wait, 'Trixie'? I met a Trixie Lulamoon at the Pie family rock farm. And that does not sound like a common name in Equestria!”At everyone’s stares, he smirked. “I have been studying and cataloging all known Equestrian names. And that does not fit known naming patterns.”

Spock arched an eyebrow. “An excellent observation, Mister Kellett. I recall that name from Mister Scott's report about the dilithium and other minerals found there. I felt asking about it yesterday would prove too much a distraction from more important matters.”

Twilight glanced from Kellett, to Spock, then back. “Well, Mister Kellett, the Trixie you met at the rock farm... wait, Trixie's at the Pie's rock farm?” She shook her head, mane whipping about. “No, no! I'll ask Pinkie later. For now, that Trixie and the one I just mentioned are counterparts to each other. Although the Trixie who Sunset knows is only a teenager.” She focused on Spock. “There are a large number of people who have counterparts in the other reality Sunset Shimmer lives in, Mister Spock. Although oddly enough, most of them are teenagers, like Trixie. It's rather fascinating, as you'd say. And I'd love to spend hours talking about it and testing it... when I don't have five-hundred other things going on at once.” She blew a lock of her mane out of her eyes and sighed. “And people wonder why I like checklists and being organized so much.”

Twilight walked around to Kang. “Captain, if I may suggest you and Captain Kirk meeting me at the cutie map room in my castle about... four-thirty PM today, a half-hour before Sunset arrives? I'll explain everything there. Well, everything that I know concerning Sunset's visit. Everything else would take about a week.”

Kang looked down to her. “I accept your offer, Princess.” His head shot up and he locked eyes with Kirk. “I have judged you to be honorable and honest, Kirk. So far, you have not given me any reason to doubt this. I hope you will continue that.”

Kirk met Kang's eyes. “I will, Kang. You'll know what I know.”

Twilight rubbed her forehead with a wing and sighed. She looked to Rarity and chuckled slightly. “Sad thing is, this is still less stressful than dealing with Rutherford and his delegation from Yakyakistan.”

Movement in the sky caught everyone's attention. Two air-chariots flew through the air. The lead one carried Princess Celestia, while the second carried Fancy Pants, Fleur Dis Lee, and Lyrica Lilac. The pegasi towing the chariots quickly descended down Mane Street, touching down and trotting to a halt.

Celestia exited her chariot, the other three following suit. She bowed her head to the guardsponies. “Thank you very much. Please unhitch yourselves and ready yourself for the duel.” She turned and trotted over to Kirk and Kang. “Greetings, Captains. How are you doing?”

The two captains bowed to Celestia. “As ready as I'll... be for this, your highness,” Kirk said. “I'm going to try and talk to Blueblood once more before this.” he held his hands out. “Hopefully he can... see that there's no reason for this duel. That we can put aside our differences and come to mutually beneficial terms.”

Fancy Pants walked up to Celestia's side, monocle swiveling about. “A noble sentiment, Captain, but I doubt he'll back down from this. You know how stallions can be when their pride is on the line.”

Kang barked a laugh. “All too well, Fancy Pants. All too well.”

Uhura walked over to Fleur and Lyrica. She stopped in front of the pair, knelt down, and held out a hand. “Well, what brings you two out here from Canterlot?”

Fleur placed her foreleg in Uhura's hand, letting her squeeze it for a moment. As soon as she pulled it out, she pointed a hoof at Fancy Pants. “I'm accompanying my husband. We're witnesses to the duel. Or something. I'm not entirely sure. It's been ages since the last proper duel.”

Lyrica's expression darkened. “Well, I'll be the one to say it. I'm here to see that jerk get what's coming to him!” She punched the air. “Right in the muzzle!”

Fleur groaned and rolled her eyes. “Could you please take it down several notches, Lyrica? I know you're not exactly friends, but that's a little vicious.”

Lyrica glanced at Fleur out of the corner of her eye. “Oh please, Fleur. I'm well within my right to want to see him taken down several dozen pegs.”

Uhura stared at Lyrica. “Personal matter?”

Lyrica hesitated a couple of moments before responding. “Well, somewhat. It's personal for me... and practically the entire population of Canterlot.” She let out a sigh. “Blueblood is... one of the more well-known residents of Canterlot. When people think of residents of Canterlot beyond the Princesses, more often than not they think of him. And he is a pompous, arrogant fool.”

Uhura slowly nodded. “And then they think that of you and others living there.”

Lyrica glanced at the grass and dragged a hoof through the blades. “I will fully admit we can be a bit... stuffy, and insular perhaps. But if you listen to how some talk about us, you'd think we were Tirek himself!”

Fleur shrugged. “I can't say she's wrong to feel that way. We are stereotyped and lumped together. It can get rather irritating when people base their opinion of an entire city off how a tiny fraction act.”

Uhura shook her head. “I understand what you mean. Well, Lyrica, Fleur, it may not mean much, but just about everyone I've met in Canterlot has been friendly and nice.”

Lyrica smiled. “Thank you, Nyota. That means the world to me.”

Uhura straightened up and glanced over her shoulder at Kang. “You know, if the people of Equestria think Blueblood is bad, they're going to be in for quite a shock if they ever travel off Equus. Blueblood's pretty damned tame compared to some beings I've met.”

Fleur looked up at the sky. “Really?”

Uhura's gaze drifted slightly. “One day I'll tell you about a man named Khan Noonien Singh.”

Kirk, still standing with his group, looked up at the clock tower in City Hall. “Well, five minutes to noon. Tell me, Princess, how punctual is... Blueblood?”

Celestia opened her mouth, but a rapidly-expanding dot on the horizon caught her attention. She waved a wing at it. “Looks like you can ask him yourself, Captain.”

The dot grew into a third chariot, Blueblood and an older stallion standing in it. It swooped down and landed, some distance from the others. The back opened and the two stallions marched out. Blueblood wore a red shirt, while the other stallion had a full suit on. “I am here for satisfaction!” Blueblood shouted, trotting forward.

Kirk sighed and cracked his knuckles. He looked up at the clear sky. “Almost hoping this would've been called on... account of rain.”

Ivory Scrolls shook her head. “Oh no, Captain! I made sure Rainbow Dash and her weather team had every single stray cloud cleared for this.”

Kirk rolled his eyes. “Thank you... so much, Mayor.” He walked forward. “Prince Blueblood, I ask you one more time to call this off.” He held out his right hand. “This entire incident was a... misunderstanding. There's no reason for us to fight like children or foals!”

Blueblood snorted. “Oh, now you're comparing me to a foal, Captain? Well, we'll see about that!” He looked to his left. “Auntie, the spell, please?”

Celestia walked over and stood in front of Blueblood. She lowered her head and a translucent bubble grew from the tip, rapidly expanding. It detached, floated over to Blueblood and enveloped him. It shrank down over his body before disappearing. Celestia's horn glowed and she looked Blueblood over. “It is done, my nephew. For one hour, you will not be able to use unicorn magic.” Her expression softened. “Are you... sure about this?”

Blueblood swallowed. “I'm... sure about this, Auntie. Please stop trying to talk me out of it.”

Celestia let out a breath. “All right.” She stepped back and cantered away from Blueblood.

Fancy Pants walked a bit before stopping approximately halfway between Blueblood and Kirk. “This is a duel of honor between Prince Blueblood of Canterlot,” he motioned to the prince, ”and Captain James Tiberius Kirk of Earth,” and he swept his foreleg to the captain. “This will be hand-to-hoof, no magic or weapons allowed. It shall continue until one of you surrenders, or is rendered unable to continue.” His eyes narrowed. “This is not to the death. Let me make that perfectly clear.”

Kinna rolled his eyes. “Well, where's the fun in that, then?”

Fancy Pants paid him no mind as the guardsponies who had pulled the chariots surrounded him. They extended their wings out, the primaries almost touching. “Once you enter, you shall not leave until the duel is over.”

While the duel was being set up, the residents of Ponyville all gathered, crowding together as close as they dared. Murmurs and conversations drifted among them. Several held up signs with the words “Kirk!” or various fight slogans on them. Food vendors moved about, selling their wares.

Kirk looked around as Spock, Uhura, and Bones gathered around him. “Any... advice?” he asked.

Bones scowled. “Dammit, Jim. I'm a doctor, not a fight coach!”

Spock arched an eyebrow. “Yet, Doctor, you seem to have mastered the art of the jab.”

Twilight's horn glowed. She vanished, then reappeared by Kirk's side. “Captain, remember what Mister Spock and I told you!” She pointed to her forehead. “Aim for the horn.”

Spock nodded. “She is correct, Captain. A proper blow will disrupt Blueblood's equilibrium, and debilitate him greatly.”

Twilight grinned. “Thank you, Mister Spock!” Her expression turned serious. “But watch out for his kicks. Even a unicorn can pack a wallop if they connect properly.”

Kirk's gaze went distant for a moment. He rubbed a spot on his forehead. “I have some... experience with that, Princess. Still, thank you for the reminder.” He looked to his left, and Uhura standing there. “Commander, please make sure to record this for... the inevitable grilling Starfleet Command is going to give me over this.”

Uhura nodded. She reached for her tricorder, hanging from her left shoulder by a strap. She slid it off and away from her body, popping the top flap open and activating it. With practiced ease, she set it to 'record' mode. “Tricorder ready and recording, Captain,” she said as she pointed it towards the guardsponies.

Kirk smiled at her. “Thank you. Efficient as always, Commander.” With that, he started walking towards the dueling area, Blueblood matching his gait. The two pegasi closest to him retracted their wings, letting him enter. The two pegasi closest to Blueblood followed suit.

Meanwhile, a large crowd began to gather around the duel. Pinkie Pie bounced over, somehow sliding between everyone there to arrive by Twilight's side. “Has it started? Have I missed anything?”

Twilight shook her head. “They're just getting started.”

Pinkie Pie hopped up and down. She tilted her head back and part of her mane coiled in on itself. She threw her head forward and the coil burst out, towing a box of popcorn behind it. She sat back on her haunches and was about to stuff her muzzle in, but she paused, looked up, and spotted Mara staring at her. She held the box of popcorn up. “Oh, sorry about that! Would you like some?”

Mara's jaw worked for a bit. She knelt down and looked Pinkie's head over. “There is no way that box of popcorn could fit inside your mane like that, not with the rest of your skull there!” She held up her tricorder and turned it on. “How did you do that?”

Twilight's ears twitched. She teleported between the two and thrust her forelegs out. “No, no, no! Mara, you really don't want to go down this hole. Pinkie has some... odd abilities. We just trot with it.”

Pinkie Pie scrunched down, then popped up between Mara and Twilight. She held the box up close to Mara. “So, popcorn? It's really good!”

Mara's eyes went from Pinkie, to Twilight, then back to Pinkie. She slowly took a few kernels of popcorn and bit into them. She chewed a bit, then swallowed. “It does not taste bad... but not exactly 'good' either.”

Pinkie Pie's brow furrowed for a moment. “Oh, I know!” Her mane retracted inward once more, this time pulling out a bottle of Tabasco sauce. She shook the bottle over the popcorn, dousing it with the red liquid.

Mara stared at Pinkie. She slowly took some of the sauce-covered popcorn and put it in her mouth. She chewed, swallowed, and grabbed for more. “We will discuss where this came from, pink one.” She straightened up as the crowd noise grew. “In the meantime, it's time for entertainment!”

Kirk brought his arms up as he entered the dueling circle. The pegasi extended their wings as soon as he passed, metaphorically sealing him and Blueblood in. He shifted into a defensive stance.

Blueblood, meanwhile, cantered back and forth, occasionally rearing back and kicking at the air. “If you surrender, Kirk, I'll spare you the thrashing that's sure to come!”

Off to the side, Rarity held up a foreleg and shook her hoof. “You're not getting out of this so easily, you cur! Kick his flank into orbit, Captain!”

Blueblood dropped back onto all four hooves, lowered his head and charged straight at Kirk, murder in his eyes. Kirk stood his ground, waiting until Blueblood was nearly on top of him before dodging to the side. He rolled along the ground, stopping on one knee to Blueblood's immediate right. He raised both hands, clasped them together, and brought them crashing down onto Blueblood's loin.

Blueblood let out a grunt. He cantered around, reared back once more, and brought up both forelegs, kicking out at Kirk. All he hit was air, though, as Kirk had already risen to his feet and was backpedaling as fast as he could. “Stand still!” Blueblood shouted, his entire face turning beet-red.

Kirk half-smiled as he dodged and weaved around Blueblood. “Come on, your highness! Stop horsing around! I've been on worlds where this would be considered... playtime for children!”

Various spectators laughed. Blueblood let out an inarticulate shout and charged at Kirk once more. Kirk once again sidestepped the stallion, but he was a second too slow. This time, Blueblood swung his head in Kirk's direction, striking Kirk, sending him sprawling to the ground, and ripping his shirt.

Rarity let out a gasp. “Oh, my!” Her horn glowed and her fainting couch slid close. “Be strong, Captain!” she shouted, holding a foreleg to her forehead and fanning herself with a levitating fan.

Kang barked a laugh. “Now you shall see Kirk at his most dangerous, ponies. Now you shall see why he is feared and respected by the Empire.”

Kirk rolled with the blow, managing to avoid most of the impact. He rose to one knee as Blueblood approached. His body tensed as he waited for Blueblood to make his move. As soon as the prince spun about and lashed out with both hind legs, he was tucking and rolling, dodging the deadly blows. He came up on Blueblood's left flank and swung a knife-edge chop right at Blueblood's head, striking him with full force at the base of his horn.

Every unicorn and alicorn in the crowd winced as Blueblood let out a high-pitched scream. His eyes crossed as Kirk landed another chop to his horn. He staggered back, allowing Kirk room enough to rise, ball his fists together and strike him with several blows to his face, sending his head whipping around. Finally, Kirk reared back and struck Blueblood right in the muzzle with the palm of his hand. Blueblood's head snapped back. The unicorn teetered on his hooves for a moment before crashing to the ground.

A hush descended upon the crowd as Blueblood fell. Fancy Pants walked over to Blueblood and knelt down next to him. Blueblood slowly lifted his head, but it quickly dropped back to the dirt. Fancy Pants rose and pointed to Kirk. “Prince Blueblood is unable to continue! The winner of the duel is Captain James Kirk!”

Kang struck his chest, then thrust a clenched fist out in salute. “Qap'la, James T. Kirk! Glory and honor to you in this!”

Mara, Kinna, and Kellett followed with their own salutes and cheers. Slowly, the other spectators started stomping their hooves and letting out their own cheers.

Kirk staggered a bit. He held up his right hand even as the circle of guardsponies let Bones, Spock, and Uhura through. “Blueblood... Blueblood! The duel is over. This... fight has been concluded. The matter has been settled. Let us... move past it! This has cost us blood and pain, but we can... build upon this! We can... move past this!” The fingers of his hands curled. “We... must move past this!” He slowly lowered himself to one knee in front of the slowly-stirring Blueblood. “Let this not be the end, but the... beginning of something greater!”

Blueblood raised his head. “After this... you still extend a hoof to me?”

Kirk nodded. “I choose... not to kill today, metaphorically speaking. I choose peace, Blueblood. What do... you choose?”

Blueblood rolled himself onto his belly. He panted a few times before speaking. “Pride... would seem to be a poor reason to continue a lost fight... Captain.” He extended his right foreleg, rested it in Kirk's open hand, and allowed himself to be pulled to his shaky hooves.

Rarity trotted over to Kirk's side. She floated a hoofkerchief up and wiped his forehead. “Captain, are you all right? Did he injure you too badly?”

Bones unclipped a sensor wand from his tricorder and waved it over Kirk's upper body. “Well, Miss Rarity, a few bruised ribs, but none of them cracked.” He snapped the wand back into the tricorder and placed his hands on his hips. “You were quite lucky there, Jim.” He growled. “What in God's name were you thinking, going through with this? You could've been killed!”

Spock crossed his arms. “I was not aware you had become an expert in interstellar diplomacy, Doctor.”

Bones snorted. “No, just an expert in how dangerous it is to fight a pony with one's bare hands, Mister Spock.”

Blueblood slowly turned and faced Rarity. He bowed his head, but stopped as his eyes crossed. “Ooh, my head...” He cleared his throat. “Miss Belle... I apologize for my actions, both at the party, and at the Gala itself. I was a snobbish boor, and jerk.”

Rarity looked him over. “Well... I suppose you've been beat up enough today, Blueblood. I will... accept your apology.” She bowed her head to him, then turned and trotted off to Applejack, still standing outside the dueling circle.

The crowd began breaking up, most of the spectators going back to their previous activities. The guardsponies all took one step back, lowered their wings, spun about, and marched off. Kang walked up to Kirk. He placed his hands on his hips and nodded. “An impressive fight, Captain. You handled yourself well.” He looked down at Blueblood. “Count yourself lucky this was non-lethal, else you’d leave Ponyville in a box.”

Blueblood shrank back, his ears folding against the top of his skull.

Kirk held up a hand. “Kang, that's enough. The duel is over. Honor has been... satisfied. We'll leave it at that.”

The older stallion that had accompanied Blueblood walked up to his side. “Master, I think we should get you to a hospital. There's Ponyville General. It's close, and has a top staff and equipment.”

Blueblood looked to him. “Yes, Perfect Place, yes. Good idea. Thank you!” He looked to Kirk, then to Rarity, before turning and walking off, Perfect Place by his side.

Bones placed a hand on Kirk's shoulder. “I think that stallion's got the right idea, Jim. Let's get you up to the Enterprise and get you taken care of.”

Kirk glanced at him. “I think you're right, Bones.” He looked to Kang. “I'll see you at Twilight's castle, later this evening?”

Kang nodded. He glanced down as Twilight approached. “You shall, Kirk. I am... curious as to what will transpire there.”

Twilight spoke up as she reached the two captains. “I'll tell you everything there, Captain. You won't have anything to worry about.” She stopped talking, and her eyes shifted slightly. “Well, I don't... think you'll have anything to worry about.”

Kang growled. “Your assurances are not helping, Princess.” He looked back up at Kirk. “I shall see you then. Mara will be with me.”

Kirk nodded. “Of course, Kang. Spock will be accompanying me... there.”

Kang opened his mouth, but his head shot around. “Mara, leave the pink pony alone!” He quickly thumped his chest in salute before turning and running off.

Twilight's head turned as she watched him leave. “She's gonna regret that.”

Uhura held up her tricorder. “Captain, I have the entirety of the duel recorded, as ordered.”

Bones grinned. “Well, that should be good for movie night!”

Kirk waved him off as Celestia approached. “Your highness,” he said, bowing.

Celestia returned the gesture. “You were very magnanimous towards my nephew, Captain. I thank you for that.” She looked to her side, in the general direction of Kang. “You offered him the hand of friendship, even after a bloody battle. If this can be so with Blueblood, then do your own words not apply to Kang?”

Kirk leaned back slightly. “Your highness, I have offered the 'hand of friendship', as you call it, to Kang several times over this mission. It is on... him to accept it.”

Celestia tilted her head from side to side. “I have often found, Captain, that those who turn it down, are those most in need of the offer.” She smiled and, before Kirk could respond, backed off. “In any event, I have matters to attend to. By your leave, Captain. I look forward to our next meeting.” With that, she turned and walked off.

Bones shook his head. “Well, gee. That wasn't mysterious or anything.”

Spock arched an eyebrow. “It was quite an... interesting response, Doctor. One borne from experience, I would presume.”

Twilight stayed silent, but her eyes shifted back and forth while her muzzle scrunched slightly.

Kirk unclipped his communicator from his belt and flipped it open. “Kirk to Enterprise, stand by to beam up the landing party.” He turned to Twilight. “I'll contact you when Mister Spock and I are... ready to beam down.”

Twilight smiled. “I look forward to it, Captain. Not quite as much explaining this to Kang and Mara, but I look forward to that, too.”

Kirk exchanged a glance with Spock before raising his communicator once more. “Energize.”