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Simulation

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It was early, a few hours before his shift was supposed to start and, as usual, Sulu was headed over to Chekov’s quarters. He had a cup of coffee in hand, because the little Russian was a ball of energy no matter what time of day, and he’d need the caffeine to keep up with his friend. For all that they’d been doing this pre-shift breakfast routine for over a year now, Hikaru still wasn’t used to it and hated mornings.

Hikaru walked into Chekov’s quarters, nodding at the navigator and plopping himself down at the desk whilst his friend finished getting ready for the day. Today promised to be a long one, that was for sure. The Enterprise was scheduled to meet with some alien race that had, until now, been more than keen on keeping to themselves. And they’d had the technology to do so.

Apparently, they were all for reaching out and contacting the Federation now, something about wanting to know how the universe had grown or something. In his pre-breakfast condition, Hikaru didn’t have the energy to really ponder over the nuances of an unknown alien race’s motives.

“Are you in the mood for a quickie?”

Sulu choked on his coffee, half spitting out the mouthful as he turned to stare at Chekov. That was a question he would have never, in a million years, have thought he’d hear from his friend’s lip. “Wh-what?!”

“A quickie. You know, one of those egg things.”

Hikaru stared at him for a long second, brain still trying to catch up with what this eighteen-year-old kid was saying to him. “IT’S PRONOUNCED QUICHE!!”

“Oh…” Chekov nodded slowly, taken aback by Hikaru’s outburst. He watched as Sulu slowly relaxed and turned back to his coffee before asking. “What’s a quickie then?”

Hikaru choked on his coffee again, then decided to abandon it completely. Served him right for ‘borrowing’ Uhura’s favorite mug. “Fuuuuu--- no way. No. You know what? It’s too early for this. Go ask Kirk. Or better yet, Scotty. Yeah.”

With that, Hikaru turned and headed out the door.

“Hey, Karu! Wait!” Chekov called after him, poking his head out his quarters and shouting after Sulu’s retreating back. “What about breakfast??”

~~~

Later on the Bridge

~~~

Fully awake and energized with the appropriate amount of caffeine and food, Sulu arrived on the bridge before Chekov. Which was quite perfect for his plans. Accident or not, misunderstanding or not, Sulu was positive there was still some coffee in his lungs over that whole ‘quickie’ incident. And since he had it on good authority that Chekov had taken his advice and went to Scotty for answers, Hikaru had the perfect prank of vengeance. So, when Chekov finally arrived on the bridge, Sulu was smugly pleased to see that there was a slight tint of pink on the navigator’s cheeks when he sat down.

Before Chekov could say a word to him, likely an apology or maybe a joke (Sulu wasn’t sure, it could go either way), Hikaru deftly slid a folded piece of paper across the console to the Russian. Chekov gave him a slightly worried, though more puzzled look. Hikaru gave him a smirk, so that the kid wouldn’t worry that he wasn’t talking to him, then nodded encouragingly at the note.

One eyebrow lifting slightly, Chekov took the paper and unfolded it.

Pavel wasn’t entirely sure what to expect out of the note. Given Karu’s smug look he didn’t think it would be some declaration that their friendship was over after that accidental proposition that morning. Chekov couldn’t believe just how badly he’d messed up that phrase. So he was a little nervous opening the note. Once he started reading it, the slight flush leftover from his chat with Scotty darkened and he was blushing furiously.

Karu did not….

Roses are Red
Violets are Blue
Sunflowers are Yellow
I bet you were expecting something romantic, but no. This is just gardening facts, sorry.

Chekov tried to smother a laugh, ended up snorting, and put his head down on the console, shoulders shaking with muffled giggles. He wadded up the note and lifted his head to throw it at Sulu. He had to immediately duck his head down again so he wouldn’t burst out laughing at the way Karu didn’t so much as twitch as the paper wad bounced off the side of his head and landed on the console between them.

“Do I even want to ask?” Kirk asked, tone amused as he watched their antics.

“Oh, you won’t believe what-“

Chekov’s head snapped up at that and he all but tackled Sulu in order to cover the pilot’s mouth. No way was he going to let Hikaru be the one to tell everyone what had happened. Nope, this was officially going into the ‘never happened’ file of life and would stay there until the day he died.

“What rude thing Sulu just wrote to me.” Chekov finished Sulu’s sentence for him and gave the pilot the sternest look he could muster. “It was so terrible, not worth sharing at all.” Pavel snatched the note up and stuffed it in his pocket.

“Right.” Kirk shook his head, but let the subject drop. They were just about to arrive at the coordinates he’d been sent. He knew better than to try and solve all the dozen mysterious inside jokes those two had going on.

~~~

Sometime later. On the Alien planet, with the Aliens.

~~~

Diplomacy had to be one of the worst things about being a captain of a starship. You had to sit through boring meetings, be extra polite to the rulers of new races or worlds, and you had to settle stupid arguments when you’d much rather just punch them all and tell them to get over it.

Fortunately for Kirk, this diplomacy was looking to be a bit more interesting than most of the missions he was sent on.

For one, he had McCoy with him, which was fun because Bones hated going on missions. Especially if it meant dealing with completely new alien races.

Sulu and Chekov were always entertaining to watch when they were together, though they were being at least vaguely well behaved at the moment. Brand new aliens and their government and all. Spock he’d brought along more to balance out the other three.

The ambassadors were droning on about observation and secrecy and not wanting to interact with the outside universe. Jim did his best to pay attention, but this was the kind of thing he’d brought Spock for. This race seemed more the intellectual scientific type, happier to sit back and watch rather than experience.

They proved that theory to be both correct and not by their request.

“Hold on, you want to do what?” Kirk asked.

“The concept is quite simple. We wish to observe your species. See how you react to challenges. It is quite safe, I assure you. No harm shall befall you.” The ambassador promised, stopping infront of a large silver door. “We have a devise that will make it appear as if you have been transported to another world. You can interact with the environment, feel as if you are at a completely different place, all within the confines of this one sector. The technology bends the shape of light and matter to make the environment appear real.”

McCoy scoffed, skeptical to say the least. “A safe, risk free test, eh? As if anyone would be stupid enou-“

“We’re in.” Kirk interrupted, grinning widely. “C’mon Bones, it sounds like some kind of interactive story adventure! We should have one of these. Could call it the… uh, holographic story room!”

“Pfft. That’s a crap name. Why not adventuregram or something.” Sulu interjected.

“Should we not focus on completing the task first, then worry about negotiating to access the technology?” Spock stated, ever the voice of reason.

“Alright,” Kirk nodded, “what do we have to do for this test?”

“More of an experiment, but the task is simple. You will be on a strange planet and you simply must travel to the destination marked on the map. Of which you will find in the simulation.” The lead alien stated, pressing a few buttons on the panel on the wall, after which the silver doors slid open. “Best of luck.”

~~~

And so, James T. Kirk and away team found themselves walking through a lush green wilderness, McCoy grumbling the whole way.

Then the grumbling turned into full out curses when they came upon a rusty ship that looked like it belonged in a museum.

“And of course, the map’s in a death trap like that.” McCoy complained, following Kirk as the captain led the way inside. At least it’s not on the side of a cliff like the last time…”

“That was Scotty’s deal. Not mine.” Kirk reminded him, earning himself a scowl and likely a few extra hypos next time he found himself in meday.

Wisely, everyone else ignored McCoy’s complaints.

Finding the map wasn’t difficult, it was pinned to the main console on the bridge of the ship. The hard part was going to be getting to the location marked by a helpful red X. Not so helpful was the fact that it was, apparently, located on the near opposite side of this planet.

After sending Spock off to try and deal with the power for the ship, Jim began trying to set up some sort of safety harnesses for the few seats on the bridge. It wouldn’t pass any sort of safety inspection, but at least it would keep them from getting tossed around if worse came to worse.

He wondered how he gotten caught up in another situation of flying in a decrepit and ancient ship again, but just sighed and took his seat. At least this time they only needed to make it halfway around this planet. Which was good, because considering the groaning, grating sound as Hikaru fired up the engines, Jim was certain this thing would never have made it out of the atmosphere.

While Jim was thankful that Scotty was taking care of the Enterprise, he did miss the engineer’s presence here. Spock was competent, no doubt, and knowing the Vulcan was working to keep the power on in this thing was helpful. But nothing would reassure him more than that Scottish accent telling him that there as at least some possibility this rust bucket wouldn’t explode on them the second they took off. Anything to counteract McCoy…

“Bones, are you just gonna complain the whole time?” He interrupted the doctor’s little rant about the state of their current mode of transportation and the likelihood of them all dying in a giant fireball.

“Well, somebody has to.” McCoy huffed back, giving him a pointed look and glancing over at Chekov and Sulu, both of which seemed to be far too gleeful at the prospect of taking a trip halfway around a planet in this ancient ship.

Jim sighed again, rolled his eyes and turned to the pilot. “Mister Sulu, you can fly this thing, right?

Hikaru’s movements ground to a halt, then he turned slowly in his chair to glare back at the captain. “Are we really going over that again? Sir?”

Kirk resisted the urge to facepalm, just barely, as Chekov started snickering not so discretely and McCoy scrambled to find a seat to strap himself to. Exasperated, he waved a hand toward to blue sky displayed on the screen. “Let’s just get this thing moving.”

~~~

The flight itself wasn’t too bad.

If you liked thousand-year-old wooden rollercoasters.

It felt like it lasted forever, at some point Bones had gone completely silent and Jim wasn’t sure if he had died or was simply plotting his own revenge. He didn’t feel like looking back to check right now, half afraid that Bones would puke on him for real this time.

They were getting close to their target when the ship gave one exceptionally violent jolt and went suddenly and suspiciously still. No shaking, vibrating, rattling or anything.

“Uh. Captain, I have some bad news,” Sulu spoke into the sudden silence on the bridge, “but before I tell you, keep in mind that the Wright brothers could only stay airborne for 12 minutes.”

“Okay, so what’s the bad news?” Kirk asked, knowing exactly what it was already.

“I started to prepare the landing sequence and the controls have become unresponsive, the power is out, and we are losing altitude.”

“I thought you said you could fly this thing!?” Kirk exclaimed.

“Fly, yes. Land? No, apparently.” Sulu responded.

“Crashing it is then.” Chekov supplied (un)helpfully.

“What the fuck?!”

Ah, so McCoy was alive then. Delightful. This time Kirk did facepalm, groaning quietly. “Is there any good news?”

“We’ll land about 12 Klicks from out destination and the ship will most likely remain intact after the crash.” Chekov offered, already double checking the restrains on his chair.

“This is all your fault, Jim!” McCoy snapped, having apparently abandoned all thoughts of being calm. “Of all the bone headed, idiotic, foolhardy-“

“I did not come here to be insulted!” Kirk snapped back.

“That’s what you think!” Bones growled, fully set to continue were it not for the door to the bridge screeching open and the one person he wanted less to see walking onto the bridge.

“Captain. I was unable to maintain the power flow to the ship. I have ascertained that the bridge is the most durable section of this craft and has an 86.75% chance of surviving impact with the surface of the planet.” Spock reported, finding his own seat and strapping himself in.

Jim was almost welcoming the upcoming crash as McCoy took in a breath, deep scowl on his face as he prepared what Kirk thought was probably going to be an impressive amount of insults and swear words. Jim (and Spock too probably) were saved from the tirade by Sulu’s counting down the seconds to impact.

The last think Kirk heard before impact was McCoy’s growly voice saying, “Jim, if I die, I’m going to kill you.”

Then there was just a jolt and darkness.

~~~

Hikaru awoke to the smell of dirt, the sound of coughing, and complete darkness. He fumbled around for a moment, unhooking the straps from himself and getting out of the chair to dust himself off. Not that he could tell if it worked or not. Pitch black and all.

“Sure is dark in here.” Chekov’s voice came from in front of him. Sounded like the Russian was still in his seat, tone a little off. “I’m not scared or anything.”

Hikaru paused, biting his lip. It was pitch black, but he could all but see what was going on. There was a scrabbling sound near where the window of the ship had been. Considering the dirt, he guessed the Captain was burrowing a way out. He could hear McCoy behind them cursing lowly about seatbelts, so that’s where he was located. He guessed Spock was probably helping Kirk, but he couldn’t hear the Vulcan so he couldn’t be sure.

“I mean, who’s scared of the dark these days??? Not me. Not Pavel Chekov. No sir.”

Sulu huffed a little laugh, feeling his way over next to Chekov’s chair. “Do you want me to hold your hand?”

“Yes please.”

Before he could do so, or tease the navigator, there was the sound of a lot of dirt falling, then a beam of light lit up the bridge. Not that it made it any easier to see. There was so much dirt in the air it looked like a thick fog.

But it was enough light for Chekov, and McCoy it seemed, as both of them managed to free themselves from their seatbelts and book it towards the light and freedom. Kirk was already wriggling his way topside, and Sulu followed after the rest of them.

As soon as McCoy made it out of the wreckage that Jim had called a ship, he straightened up and took a breath of fresh air. Immediately coughing slightly because there was still a crap ton of dust floating around. He dusted himself off in disgust, then turned to survey the rest of the group.

McCoy looked over at Jim as the captain walked over once the dust had settled. “All in all, a 100% successful mission.”

“We lost Spock!” Kirk barked, waving an arm at the crewman gathered and the obvious fact that a certain Vulcan was nowhere to be seen.

“All in all, a 100% successful mission.” McCoy repeated, crossing his arms. As if the sole purpose of the universe was to prove him wrong, or just piss him off, there was another little patter of dirt moving, a short dust cloud, and out of it walked Spock. “Dammit…”

Kirk ignored McCoy and instead went to check on the final member of his away team.

“Come on. We better get moving.” Kirk ordered once he’d made sure that no one was injured. “It’s only a couple miles til we’re there and this whole thing will be done with.”

Predictably, McCoy had nothing polite to say about that and just started walking, marching angrily towards their destination. Kirk and Spock followed after him and left Chekov and Sulu to take up the rear.

The walk was quiet. For Kirk, McCoy, and Spock anyway. Jim could hear Sulu and Chekov talking about something behind them, but he wasn’t all too interested in really listening. No, what he’d rather do was get this over and done with so he could go back to his ship and forget about this whole stupid mission. It had sounded like fun in the beginning, but this really was anything but.

Unfortunately, it seemed like the universe was out to get him too, because not only did he have a pissed off McCoy in front of him, but now it sounded like the two best friends behind him were arguing now too.

“No! That’s insane, and not how it works!” Chekov was arguing heatedly, loud enough for Kirk to hear him clearly. Knowing exactly how little patience he had to deal with that right now, Jim turned to Spock. “Go resolve whatever it is they’re arguing about before it turns into an actual fight.”

Thank god for Vulcans, because Spock didn’t question or argue, though he did give him a very judgmental looking eyebrow raise, just stopped for a moment so the other two could catch up to him.
With the captain very happily moving on ahead, Spock turned his attention to the other two officers. “What is it that the two of you are arguing about?” He asked diplomatically.

Chekov gave him an appraising look, then glance over at Hikaru. Deciding Spock was the perfect person to weigh in and prove his point once and for all, he explained. “What happens if you put a werewolf on the moon. It’s a great question. Probably the best question ever.”

Sulu nodded in agreement. “I think he’d turn in the light of the earth, but Pav here insists he’d be a man on the dark side of the moon and would only turn when he was in the middle of the bright side.”

Chekov rolled his eyes at Sulu and shook his head. He looked at Spock for support, because it was complexly illogical to think that the earth would make a werewolf change. Spock would agree with him. “So, what would happen?”

“He will explode and die because there is no oxygen on the moon.”

Chekov gasped in shock, expression appalled. “We never said we’d send him up without a suit; you absolute monster!”

Sulu put a comforting arm around Chekov as the navigator buried his face in his hands with a dramatic sob. Hikaru gave Spock a disapproving look, shaking his head as the two of them walked ahead past Kirk.

Jim glanced between Spock and the two of them, patting Spock on the shoulder once they were side by side again. “Not how I would have done it, but good job on stopping the argument.”

~~~

Far too long and far too much of a hike later, and the away team finally reached their destination. Awaiting them was a line of six of the alien council, all dressed rather pompously in their robes. One of them stepped forward and addressed them solemnly. “How did you fare?”

Kirk gave him an exhaustedly sassy grin. “We did not die today, I call that an unqualified success!”

McCoy scowled at him, leaning over to stage whisper at him. “I know you’re not used to this, but maybe you should just try to keep it chill and see what happens.”

“Great advice.” Jim responded, giving him a sarcastic smile and two thumbs up. “Impossible to follow, but great advice.”

To which, of course, McCoy fumed, glaring furiously.

“You think that disapproving glare works on me after all the times I’ve seen it?” Kirk scoffed. Surely McCoy couldn’t have forgotten that they’d been roommates at the academy.

The little council of aliens watched with morbid fascination as the captain of this powerful starship proceeded to sass and irritated his chief medical officer. All the while, Sulu looked on wishing he had some popcorn for the show, and Spock pondered the wisdom of intervening

Chekov, oddly acting as the diplomat, shuffled over towards the aliens with his hands behind his back and sporting what was maybe a regretful expression on his face.

“I am so sorry you guys.” He began, shifting his weight from foot to foot. “We are actually a lot cooler than this.!”

“Are you actually?” One of the less stunned members of the gathered aliens asked skeptically.

“... No. No we are not.”