Title: Shots Fired

Series: Insontis II

Characters: bb!Spock, McCoy, various

Rating: K+

Warnings/Spoilers: Lack of real plot, ghastly amounts of fluff, etc. If you're in search of story with depth and substance, this is not the universe you're looking for. *Jedi hand wave*

Summary: In which McCoy threatens to kill Captain Kirk, and is told there is a waiting list for that

A/N: I promise I am working on this! Thank you for reading, lovely people.

He exits the turbolift onto the Bridge, finding it in less chaos than he'd anticipated; obviously, whatever has happened on the planet below, the altercation's physical impact has not yet made it back to the ship.

It's the observation of one instant to see something is still very wrong, however. Thankfully this shift is primarily their alpha crew and, bless their hearts, is crisis-trained enough to use their best judgment in taking orders without questioning them from a kid who is way too young to be assuming that kind of responsibility, former experience or no.

He shakes his head and starts toward the command dais, only to be brought up in consternation as Spock swivels the chair almost instinctively and halts him with one hand, the index finger of the other still holding down the intra-comm on the chair's arm.

"Doctor, a moment. That was not a request, Mr. Scott, that was an order. Report to Science Laboratory Seven and begin work on the recalibrations immediately. I want a location on each member of the landing party pinpointed within the hour."

"Y'blasted little –" An awkward cough. "I mean – Mister Spock, that may not be possible. Not at this altitude, and with the natives havin' the same type of humanoid physiology as the landing party!"

"Engineer Scott. You possess the fourth highest intelligence quotient of any human on this ship. I am confident you will find a method of adapting the scanners accordingly. Report to me when you have."

"Oh, aye." An unmistakably disgruntled mutter crackles over the comm, cut short when the channel is shut off. Spock finally looks back up at him, and McCoy can see on the instant he's obviously jumped at least two years in age. It's eerily like looking at what the kid might have been like in Starfleet Academy, and McCoy not for the first time feels pity for the poor fools who were his instructors.

"Spock, what in the name of sanity is going on."

"Doctor, I am in command of this ship now, and you will refer to me by my title while on the Bridge."

Now that should really irritate him, but it doesn't. Because…the words are weirdly hesitant. Oddly quiet, almost a question instead of a command.

The kid's scared.

He can see it, plain as day. Something happened down there, and this is Spock running scared. Barely holding on to the thread of command he's been catapulted into.

There was a time, long ago, that McCoy made the mistake of snapping that precious thread in front of subordinates. To teach a lesson about commanding humans, to someone who was still learning to do so. It wasn't his proudest moment, as CMO or as one of said humans.

It's not one he plans to repeat.

And so he nods, and takes a step back onto the upper level of the Bridge – obeying a regulation which Jim never enforces except during the most dangerous of Red Alerts, but one which Spock will recognize for the gesture it is.

Clear relief shines briefly in the dark eyes, as the command chair swivels back toward the viewscreen. "Mr. Sulu, you have the conn. Accept no transmission from the planet without notifying me."

"Yes, sir."

"Lieutenant Uhura, do not indicate to any planetary officials that I have returned to the Enterprise, nor of my official capacity aboard should I accept any transmissions from the planet while in brief with Doctor McCoy. I was not introduced by name to the planet's current governing powers; to them, Captain Kirk is still in command of this vessel, and I am but a student accompanying the Vulcan ambassadorial delegation for educational purposes."

"Aye, sir." Uhura glances between them, but is too good an officer to question any of the weirdness that's going on. "I'll be monitoring the channels below for any useful information, Mr. Spock."

"Thank you, Lieutenant. Doctor, with me."

He waits until the turbolift doors close behind them, but that's all the kid gets.

"All right, you got some major explainin' to do, so start."

"Computer, Deck Five." Spock looks pained. "Doctor, I assure you if I fully knew what was occurring on Alba II, I would not at present be aboard the Enterprise."

"That much I can figure myself. What I want to know is how you came to be in command, because that's a far cry from where we were yesterday. Where is Jim, and what happened to him that he'd willingly reinstate your command functions at, what…eighteen?" he hazards, with a quick visual inspection.

"Affirmative. Based upon my somewhat fluid memory stream, I believe somewhere in the first half of my eighteenth year, Doctor."

"Computer, voice override: McCoy, Leonard H., Chief Medical Officer. Deck Six, Sickbay." He holds up a hand to shut off the protest forthcoming. "You need a vitamin and nutrient booster or you're going to crash in an hour after a jump that long. Now answer my question. Why are you in command."

"Why I am in command is a different matter than why I am capable of taking command, Doctor. The captain reinstated my command functions in the transporter room prior to our beaming down to Alba II, apparently."

He blinks, only now remembering Jim messing with the console in the transporter room before their beam-down. "He what."

"Apparently he did not trust the Alban people and their declaration that the uprising had been successfully dealt with, and so he reinstated my command functions prior to leaving the ship. In the event something were to happen…"

"He could use himself as a distraction, letting you escape in the confusion. No one would suspect a child to be a real threat, and you could beam up and take over, leaving the Enterprise with an officially recognized commanding officer capable of making decisions in a Federation capacity, should there be a worst-case scenario," he finishes with a groan, dragging a hand over his face. "I'm guessing that's basically what happened?"

"In a manner of speaking."

Spock looks ticked about the fact, which would be hilarious under other circumstances. It's not often that he is out-strategized by Jim Kirk, but when it happens it's always a sight to behold. Jim is always two steps ahead of most people they meet, one reason why even as a human he is such a successful diplomat. There's a reason why no one ever asks the captain to join a poker tournament twice, and why he's the only human aboard who has ever been able to beat Spock at chess. That may not happen often, but it does happen; and it's hilariously annoying to their logical First when it does.

The doors open, depositing them on the Sickbay deck, and McCoy shakes his head as he follows the young man out. "I'm gonna kill him."

"If we do not act quickly, I believe you will need to queue behind several dozen Alban citizens in order to do so, Doctor."

"You know, your sense of humor disappears a little more with every age jump."

"I simply state facts, Doctor. The Alban citizens which spoke to the Federation saying the uprising had been quelled were, in fact, those very revolutionaries of which they pretended to speak. In a unique reversal of the usual societal roles, it is the elder generation in this case which has apparently decided to overthrow the recently elected officials who welcome the Federation's assistance, in favor of re-establishing what apparently is an extremely intolerant religious governing system. They had already dispatched the primary branch of government and taken control of the governing house with whom we were slated to negotiate, unbeknownst to the Federation and therefore to us."

"What a mess. We did not come to mediate a civil war."

"Obviously. This society is barely out of their nuclear age, and it is primarily due to the fact that their planet's ecosystem is headed for extinction that the Federation was willing to step in for negotiations as they were. The new reigning government was comprised of two smaller houses which supposedly welcomed Federation assistance."

"Houses which now no longer exist?"

"From what I was able to discover before being forced to leave the citadel to avoid discovery, the houses were both under political arrest, on a variety of charges which ranged from corruption to treason."

"Obviously trumped-up charges, I'm betting."

"I have no idea, Doctor. It does seem unlikely every charge is accurate, given the elders' actions toward the landing party."

"Go on. What did they want with the landing party, then?"

"According to their High Priest, to be left in peace, Doctor. Unfortunately, that was not our mission; as the planet's ecosystem is dying and the majority rule of the planet's governing body had reached out to the Federation for assistance, we are duty-bound to negotiate the salvation of the planet's system despite a faction of the population not wishing the interference of 'outworlders.' It is a most delicate situation, as there now is a religious element involved and far-ranging political consequences beyond what we were initially given to understand."

They enter Sickbay, and McCoy motions at a nurse to fetch the usual immunization and nutrient boosters they've taken to keeping on hand for these situations.

"So, let me guess, they've taken the negotiating party hostage until the Federation agrees to back off?"

"That is essentially what happened, Doctor. Thankfully, the violence was minimal, as they do seem to be a relatively peaceful populace. I was able to slip away amid a distraction caused by Captain Kirk, at his direction, but it did not appear that they intended any physical harm to the landing party."

"Well thank the stars for that."

"There is, however, the added complication of their telepathic abilities." Spock patiently endures the hyposprays, thoughts obviously elsewhere.

"I don't like the sound of that."

"With good reason, Doctor. The Alban people are highly telepathic in nature, and their abilities are formidable; that is one reason why Doctor T'Lar was suggested for this mission, despite her doctorate being in astrophysics rather than actual medicine. Her mental shielding ability is remarkably higher than the average Vulcan, and her ability to sense telepathic intrusion against those shields is also quite strong. The Alban society, contrary to Vulcan, is a quite open one, with little of the cultural boundaries many societies possess around these abilities. Indeed, it would seem that this Old Religion of which the elders speak seems to have at its core some sort of open telepathic communication as a form of worship."

A growing knot of dread begins to form in his stomach. "What are you getting at, Spock."

"The Vulcan delegation was selected for this Alban mission specifically for their abilities in mental shielding; they are in no danger even for extended periods from anyone on the planet."

He sits heavily in a nearby chair, rubbing at his temples. "But they have a human stuck in the negotiating party."

Spock's lips tighten slightly. "They do."

"Who has no concept of mental shielding whatsoever."


"And was already in bad shape from being stuck in a slipstream when he beamed down."

"Affirmative. Doctor, we did not plan to be on the planet for longer than two hours."

"Playing the blame game isn't going to help Jim or anyone else right now." He runs a hand over his face, trying to rein in the panic starting to rear its head in the back of his mind.
"Talk plain to me. What could happen, worst-case scenarios."

"Doctor, I do not know. His mind is relatively unshielded, and I have not the technique at this time to assist, as the bond is so incomplete."

"Completely unshielded, twenty-four hours on the planet, what could happen."

"I believe you are acquainted with an unwanted mental intrusion, Doctor." The words are not unkind, but they still are a dart right through a chink in the armor, and they both know it. "This? Could be far worse, and on a far grander scale."

The knot of dread in his stomach curdles at the thought, hot and nauseating.

"Despite their distaste for physical violence, the Alban people do not appear to have any reservations about interrogation, Doctor. And…we do not know what methods those may take. While Command training does prepare its candidates for such interrogations, there is of course a physical and mental limit to what one is able to endure, and that is without the addition of telepathic coercion." The young man looks down for a moment. "Starfleet does not negotiate with the governments of planets which are not yet a part of the Federation. It is not inconceivable, therefore, that the members of this Old Religion would seek to learn more about the organization by any means at their disposal. A telepathic interrogation would never affect a Vulcan, but a human would have no defense against them. And if the Alban natives discover that physiological difference…"

He holds up a hand, because they both know where that train of thought leads.

"Enough, Spock. Just…stop." Rubbing his forehead, he finally sits back and folds his arms resignedly. "He didn't just reinstate your command functions, did he."

Spock's eyes flick away for just an instant, but it's a tell.

"He actually reinstated your command. Regulation 67, Captain's Override of Medical Leave due to impending shipwide emergency."

"He did, Doctor."

"I'm going to kill him."