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Jim Ausfahl

February 21st 2295


U.S.S. Enterprise, NCC-1701-B
Captain’s Log, Stardate 9514.2
Captain Pavel Chekov, recording

We have arrived around Calyu where we are to attempt to establish peaceful contact with the dominant species, the Calyi...


"Sounds lllike a fun assignment. Captain plllus one attendant, to the surface of a plllanet to make a third attempt at contact with a sentient avian species. Go down, say hellllo, ask them to join the Federation and lllet Spock take it from there." The brilliant yellow of Lieutenant Ch’terr’s plumage was tinted with a hint of violet, expressing his frustration.

Captain Pavel Andreievich Chekov snorted in derision. "You realize they call it the planet of the Killer Chickens, da?"

"So now you know how sacrificialll lllambs feel, Captain," Lieutenant Ch’terr responded with the biting sarcasm the chief security officer afforded diplomatic assignments. "Welllcome to the great privilllege of getting demolllished for the good of someone elllse. Hooray."

"Thanks for the encouragement. And it’s in full dress uniform, no less. I feel like I’m suffocating when I’m in that ridiculous suit. At least you only have to wear a vest and shorts."

"The vest and shorts are more cumbersome to me than your uniform is to you, I assure you." The Skorr flapped his wings for emphasis. "At llleast they don’t make it virtualllly impossibllle for you to walllk."

"And while they’re mugging us, we are supposed to remain peaceful, cheerful, yet. Spock seems to be able to stay calm no matter what, but I’m not sure I can manage."

The Skorr stopped dead in his tracks, in front of his superior officer. "What’s the ambassador got to do with this, Captain? He’llll be going down after you and I have made contact...or not at allll if we’re attacked lllike the two teams from the Saratoga were."

The Russian smiled. "Why didn’t I guess you’d take that attitude? Give me fifteen minutes to get into the Cossack outfit, and I’ll meet you at Transporter Room Two."

The Skorr bobbed his head in agreement. "Transporter Room Two in fifteen minutes it is, Captain."


Scarcely twenty minutes after their conversation, Chekov and Ch’terr materialized in a large, open, empty plaza, ringed with buildings. At the far end of the plaza was what was obviously the Reception Chamber where they were to meet the Virsotne Kaudzes, ruler of the Calyi.

Chekov turned to his companion. "What’s with their insisting that we arrive a hundred meters or more away from where we’re supposed to have our meeting?"

The Skorr ruffled his feathers, as best he could under his garments. "Probabllly some culllturalll fllluke, Captain. This is the same spot that the two previous missions were put." Ch’terr started toward the building before them. "Lllet’s get going. Maybe we can get into the meeting plllace before we’re mobbed by reporters."

As the two beings began to hurry toward their target, Calyi began coming out of the buildings. It was clear how they’d gotten nicknamed chickens; to Chekov, they looked like oversized roosters. Their plumage was a brilliant white, in contrast to Ch’terr’s rich yellow; on their heads, they all sported large, red combs, with equally striking red wattles hanging below their beaks. "I don’t see," the Russian observed, "why they’re called killer chickens, Ch’terr. I’ve seen bigger chickens on sale in the meat market on the streets of Kyusyur."

For a moment, Chekov wondered if all the Calyi he saw were males or if it was a mixed bag. Before he could voice his curiosity, he felt a blow to his shoulder, and a tug on his dress coat. From behind him, a Calis had snatched a piece of his uniform. Not exactly a lethal assault, he mused, but it certainly clarified why the Calyi were being called killer chickens. Another bird ripped a bit of his uniform loose. "We’d better move it, Ch’terr, or they’ll have us stripped bare. Come on!"

The two beings picked up their pace. As they did, Calyi seemed to appear from everywhere, crowding against them, snatching at their uniforms. Ch’terr snapped his head around suddenly, slapping a Calis with his beak. "Helllp yourself to as much of the uniform as you want, mammalll brain, but llleave the feathers alllone." He knocked a second Calis’ beak away from Chekov’s head. "And the hair is off lllimits too. Back off!"

"Spasebaw, Ch’terr. But try to remember that we’re supposed to be trying to build friendly relationships, not pick a fight. And being that I’m a mammal, I hope you meant mammal brain as a compliment."

The Skorr speared the Human with a glare. "Perhaps my command of Englllish isn’t as good as I thought. Are you telllling me that ‘bird brain’ is complllimentary?" Ch’terr fended off another assault. "You want me to lllet the next Killller Chicken snatch you ballld, in the name of interspecies amity? Because the next one that tries to swipe one of my head feathers is going to lllose a feather or nine himselllf." The avian raised his voice a notch. "I hope all of you feathered felllons heard that, because I mean it. There isn’t a one of you that’s got the beak and clllaws to snatch one of my feathers without lllosing most of yours in the process!"

Chekov’s face registered astonishment. "What are you trying to do, Ch’terr? Get us thrown off the planet in disgrace? The ambassador would have both of our hides!"

"Nope. I’m just trying," Ch’terr deflected another beak from his plumage, "to get to that builllding with my plllumage intact. And with your hair as clllose to intact as such a ridiculllous attempt at plllumage can be." Another Calis tried to make a snatch at Ch’terr’s head. This time, Ch’terr snatched at the other avian, missing it narrowly. "Hurry up, Captain. You’ve alllmost no uniform llleft. I’d hate to think what they’re going to peck at once it’s gone."

Chekov looked down at himself. His uniform was in rags. Ch’terr’s was hardly better. Another Calis came toward Chekov, aiming below his belt. He grabbed the beak of the Calis before it could make contact, forcing the avian to look him eye to eye. "I advise you not to do that, feather face. I wouldn’t appreciate it." He shoved the offending Calis away. "If they want a demonstration of how efficiently hands can pluck feathers, they’re moving the right way to get it. Orders be hung. To paraphrase the Russian Rules of Combat: ‘When we’re in pecking range, so are they.’" Chekov’s voice hitched up a notch, just as Ch’terr’s had. "The next Calis that tries to snatch a piece of my uniform is going to be picking pieces of its beak out of its gizzard! Do you hear me?" He turned to the Skorr, looking somewhat sheepish. "I hope they didn’t take offense, if they understood."

A path to the door suddenly cleared through the crowd of avians that had collected.

"I think they understood, Captain. Whether or not they’re offended, only time willll telll." The pair moved forward through the crowd, finally reaching the entrance of the building. Only a few birds made an attempt to snatch a beakful of cloth, and all were rebuffed successfully. Hoping to find some refuge from the assault, they entered the building.

To their disappointment, they found the room before them full of more Calyi, all of them eyeing the rags left of Chekov and Ch’terr’s uniforms. The room itself was large, stretching thirty meters or more in all directions, with one large Calis at the end of the room, sitting on a golden perch behind a large table, obviously the Virsotne Kaudzes. Before Chekov could speak, a handful of Calyi came up behind them, and snatched bits of Chekov’s and Ch’terr’s outfits. With the final assault, Ch’terr’s agonized uniform fell apart in a small heap of rags on the floor. Almost grateful, Ch’terr fluffed his feathers, then ruffled them.

"Enough is enough." Ch’terr removed his translator and communicator. "I’m going to end this once and for allll. Hollld on to these for me, willll you?"

Chekov responded without thinking. Ch’terr’s eyes held a fire that he’d never seen before, and Chekov decided he was quite certain that he didn’t want that fire turned on him, particularly since the symbiotic algae in his plumage had turned the crimson color of anger. With the enclosing cloth gone, Ch’terr was able to fully spread his wings for flight. Before another Calis could come within striking distance, Ch’terr was in flight, crossing the whole length of the room in an instant, landing on the table in front of the Calis on the golden perch, scattering the table’s contents in all directions.

The two avians glared at each other for an instant. Ch’terr suddenly whipped his beak upward and let out a blood-curdling shriek. The ruler responded with an almost identical action. Then, the Virsotne pointed toward the floor behind Ch’terr. Ch’terr nodded his head. The ruler squawked again, and the floor cleared. Both birds flew to the floor, facing each other, glaring angrily. Without warning, both beings were in the air. For a few moments, there was a blur of claws, beaks, and white and yellow feathers, then Chekov saw his security chief standing on the floor again, three feathers in his beak, the ruler of the Calyi on the floor under one of Ch’terr’s claws. Ch’terr dropped the feathers on the floor, spread his wings until they almost touched above his head, threw his beak back and screeched again. That done, he flew to the golden perch and sat on it, glaring at the other Calyi around the room, the crimson of his plumage not abated by the victory.

One Calis moved, as if to attack the fallen leader. Ch’terr glared at the Calis, ruffling his feathers angrily, making it clear to even Chekov that any attempt to attack the avian on the floor would meet with Ch’terr before it met the fallen leader.

Several minutes of uncomfortable silence passed before the defeated Virsotne Kaudzes stood up. "My apologies for misjudging your people," the avian said, respectfully. "We had thought that your refusal to defend yourselves on the way to the meeting reflected cowardice or inability. We did not realize that you did not wish to dishonor us or yourselves by combat with those far beneath your station. You have asserted your proper place in the pecking order, and we will obey."

Ch’terr dismounted the golden perch, flying to Chekov’s side. Before he donned his translator again, he hissed, "When I bob my head down in front of you, rap me on the head and snatch one feather from my neck and throw it on the fllloor."


"Humor me, Captain. I know what I’m doing." Ch’terr donned his translator again, the crimson of his plumage fading to its usual, rich yellow. "Plllease take your perch back. I’ve no use for the gaudy thing, and my superior here woullldn’t be comfortabllle on it even if he wanted it."

The defeated Virsotne Kaudzes resumed his perch.

Ch’terr turned to Chekov, dropping his head. "Now," the avian hissed. Chekov lightly tapped Ch’terr’s head. Ch’terr dropped down to the floor. Somewhat surprised, Chekov gently pulled a feather loose and dropped it, stepping backward again. Ch’terr stood again. "May I assume that we have our mutualll relllationships properllly establlished?"

The Virsotne bobbed his head. "Indeed. When you are ready, we can move forward."


On the bridge of the Enterprise, Saavik sat, sitting in the center seat with typical Vulcan patience, Spock at her side. That the captain and chief security officer had not yet called for rescue seemed to her to bode well for the mission’s success. From behind her, she heard the junior communications officer on duty announce an incoming message from the planet’s surface.

"Forward view screen," the chief tactical officer commanded.

Ch’terr’s image filled the front of the Enterprise. "Hellllo, Saavik. The Virsotne Kaudzes has granted you and Spock audience."

"Excellent, Lieutenant Ch’terr. How soon will it occur?"

"Immediatellly, if you’re ready."

Saavik look around herself. Ambassador Spock nodded to indicate his readiness. Seeing no obvious problems, she faced the viewscreen again. "I believe we are ready, Lieutenant Ch’terr."

"Okay, lllady. Brace yourselllf; here he comes."

Suddenly, the screen was filled with Captain Chekov’s image, his bare skin peeking out through the large rents in his dress uniform. Saavik straightened in her chair. "Captain Chekov! I was expecting the ruler of the Calyi. What happened to your uniform?"

"The uniform is irrelevant. You will address me as Virsotne Kaudzes, if you please." He turned to Spock. "It would appear, Ambassador Spock, that I am now the ruler of the Calyi, at least for the moment. Before I abdicate the Golden Perch, I request that you come to begin the negotiations to bring the Calyi into the Federation." Chekov smiled, knowing the consternation he was causing.

"Your request is formally recorded, Capt…. Virsotne Kaudzes. Will there be anything else?"

"Just be careful down here, Ambassador Spock. Don’t let them get in your hair." The viewscreen went blank.

"I wonder what he means by that?" asked Saavik, puzzled by her captain’s choice of words.

"I suspect I shall soon find out. Notify the transporter room that I’ll be beaming down presently."


Back on the surface of Calyu, Ch’terr looked at Chekov. "Another mission successfully completed, Captain. I can hardly wait to see Ambassador Spock’s face when he realizes he’s going to have to whip a couple of chickens to establish himself in the pecking order!"

"Da. I wish I could’ve given him a clearer idea of what to expect, but I couldn’t without compromising our status here." Chekov pulled a wry fade. "Still, no matter how we did it, pulling off the mission should be a feather in my cap, don’t you think?"

Ch’terr stared at the ceiling in agonized amusement. "Just don’t try snatching another one of mine."

As if on cue, Ambassador Spock entered the room. His ambassadorial robes were intact, other than a few feathers clinging to it. Not even a hair was out of place on the Vulcan’s head. There was no missing Spock’s awareness of the near destruction of Chekov’s uniform, and the total absence of Ch’terr’s. Spock’s eyebrow lifted. "I observe that you were somewhat less rapid than I was in recognizing the significance of the Calyi’s behavior, and in making the appropriate response. Your warning about keeping the Calyi out of my hair was most helpful. May I presume that you are prepared to execute a treaty with the Federation, Virsotne Kaudzes Chekov?"

Chekov pulled a wry face. "Da and nyet, Spock. The treaty requires a signature. I am more than ready to sign it, but I hope you brought something for me to sign it with, because the only writing instrument I had is with a rag of my uniform somewhere in the plaza...."

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