It was just after alpha shift. Captain James T Kirk was on his way to find his friend Doctor McCoy in Sickbay (only in the office section, however-Kirk was "allergic" to the hospital part owing to too many visits there).
"Hey, Bones?" he called, striding through the sliding doors. "You in here?"
"Where else would I be?" the Doctor replied, appearing from around a bulkhead. "I bet you want coffee."
"How did you guess? And I wanted to go over shore leave rosters with you, see if you have anybody you think should go planetside with the first group, for medical reasons."
"Shore leave, huh? Can sure use some o' that. Crew's pretty frazzled after that run-in we had with those Fagocitating Hallux-hunters. "Bones put two cups of coffee on his desk and sat down. "There you go."
Kirk sat and took a grateful swallow of the hot beverage. He grimaced. "Is it a law that doctors make the worst coffee in the galaxy? Doctors' coffee always tastes like medicine."
"Ungrateful pup. Give it back."
"No way. You'll just pour it back in the pot and give it to some other unfortunate." Kirk grinned at McCoy.
"You've been watching Westerns again. What is it--Spock all night in the Science lab again? Anyway, you know it's from the replicator. Blame that." Bones swallowed a mouthful and made a face. "Think I'll pour mine back in. I'd like to keep my stomach for awhile longer."
Kirk chuckled. "You can make it up to your stomach at dinner; it's pizza night. I hope I can tempt Spock out of the lab...he loves veggie pizza and we haven't played chess in three days." He sighed.
"Hah! You hope you can tempt Spock, period. Why don't you speak up, already?" McCoy asked, exasperated (as usual) by the failure of one of the two, actually both, to be the first to confess to their mutual love.
Kirk avoided the question (as usual), taking up a padd he had brought with him. "The rosters should be on your computer. Take a look and give me your recommendations."
"Ah, yes, the shore leave lists. Me, I'd dump the whole crew off the ship-before the usual slew of let-down accidents can start happening. If it isn't because they're bored on star-tracking and milk runs, it's because they're coming down from an adrenaline high."
The Captain swirled the coffee in his cup. "Unfortunately, Doctor, the ship won't run itself. Nor will it do its own inventory and twice-yearly requisition forms."
McCoy made another face at being reminded of paperwork of which the medical department had its (un)fair share.
He was about to remark on why didn't they have inventory-‘droids, when his comm unit beeped shrilly. "Galley to Sickbay!"
"Oh for pity's-I hope I haven't gone and hexed it. McCoy here. What's going on? If somebody's cut off a finger put it on ice till I get there."
"Well, no Doctor-that hasn't happened. Not so far, anyway. It's the Chef's nephew sir-he seems to have gone off his head."
"Where is he now?" asked the Doctor, concerned.
"Hiding in the corner-he seems terrified. Keeps babbling and pointing, but we can't understand a thing."
"Which nephew is this?"
"The Italian one."
Kirk had heard the entire conversation and was on his communicator with Uhura, asking her to find an Italian-speaking crew-member to send to the Galley.
"On my way," McCoy broke the connection and he and the Captain hurried out the door.
"That's the pizza expert!" Kirk exclaimed as they waited impatiently for the turbolift (the Galley was half a Gravball stadium's distance away, not really feasible on foot).
The Enterprise's French chef had three sisters, each of which had married out of Earthfrance Province: one had married an Italian, one an Australian, and one an Andorian. All the husbands were in the restaurant or hotel business. Of the considerable progeny, quite a few decided to study cuisine, haute or other, and it had become a family tradition to send the students to study for a year with their Uncle Jules.
Some clever lawyers had landed a contract with StarFleet whereby the young people took an online course in basic starship living during their final cooking school year, were enlisted, studied for a year with Uncle, had lessons in Xenocuisine from beamed-aboard chefs of many species, were transferred to other starships for another year--often to specialize in various fields of cooking (Jim was still trying to get back temporarily the pastry chef off the Desirèe), and finished up with a six-month tour of duty at ‘Fleet Headquarters, Spaceports, or Outposts.
The lawyers were friends of Jules...and of certain Admirals.
The neo-cooks got invaluable experience, Jules got unpaid (at least by him) help he could terrorize (being family), and ‘Fleet got-hey presto! (or almost)-galaxy-class chefs. It worked out for everyone.
The current three nephews were, coincidentally, one from each sister-Kevin from Australia, Keval from Andoria, and Carlo from Italy-and were all 19 years old. During pregnancy, their mothers had discussed baby-naming at length.
There was bedlam in the Galley-which was not unusual, but just now it was not from Jules' bellowing and the banging of pots and pans in (relatively) organized chaos.
Jules, in fact, was bent over something or someone in a corner, wringing his hands and looking distraught and not a little fearful (his sister/s would kill him if anything happened to even one of his nieces and nephews). And the Galley crew, awed by the Chef's distress, forebore to clang kitchenware.
"Alright, what seems to be the matter?" queried McCoy, approaching the Chef in the corner, who proved to be bent over his (Italian) nephew. The boy was on his knees, hands clasped, and was, in fact, babbling. In Italian.
The Doctor turned to the Chef. "Jules, do you know what he's saying?"
"Non, I cannot onderstand heem! And he seems not to hair me! And yet! He speaks ze pairfect Standard, all ze familie does!" and he wrung his hands some more, shook his head, and muttered.
Kevin the Australian did, however, speak perfect Standard. To the Doctor's question if he understood his cousin, he replied succinctly, "Notta word."
Keval the Andorian volunteered: "He looksss ass if he iss praying," peering interestedly at his relative.
"Then I guess I better be glad he isn't speaking Latin", grumped McCoy, squatting beside the kid, who continued to babble away and point at intervals towards the center of the Galley.. He ran a medscanner over him and remarked, "Agitated as Hell."
Kirk, standing Captainlike in the middle of the Galley, growled, "Is that your medical opinion?" receiving a dirty look from Bones as answer.
"I can hardly make a diagnosis until I have an idea of what's gotten him in this state, Captain, Sir."
"Sorry, Bones." The Captain was contrite-and pissed as hell that no interpreter had arrived.
He was also concerned for the evening's pizza. "He looks mystical. Do you think he's having a religious moment? Is origano psychotropic?"
"I'm a doctor, not a gardener!"
Just then Commander Giotto walked in. "Sir!" He just stopped himself from snapping off a salute.
The Captain just stopped himself from rolling his eyes, and ordered, "Commander, see if you can find out what has upset young Carlo here."
Giotto turned to the boy and spoke a few words. Carlo babbled at him for a bit. He also pointed at the Galley's center section. Giotto turned back to the Captain, scratching his head.
"Ah, Sir, I didn't quite get all of that."
"Don't tell me it is Latin!"
"No, Sir, worse. It's Calabrese."
Kirk and Mc Coy, dumbstruck, looked at each other. "What kind of breeze?"
"Jim, it's a Southern Italian Dialect."
"Oh. Of course, you would knew Southern. Giotto, did you understand anything? Anything at all?" In his worry over dinner's pizza, Jim was approaching piteous.
"Well, Sir, he seems to think the Chinese are invading."
"He what? Who?"
"The Chinese, Sir. Maybe he thinks they'll take over the Galley."
"He said that?"
"I'm not sure, Sir. My family's from Tuscany and we speak Standard at home."
McCoy was muttering about paranoid hallucinations and looking over hypo's.
"Did you get anything else?" The Captain was slightly desperate.
"Ah, yessir, I think he mentioned stolen...something. He almost seems to blame himself...but not this time."
"Not this time?"
"That's what I understood, Sir."
Now it was Kirk's turn to bellow. "Get Uhura! Get Spock! Get a priest!"
"Jim," McCoy murmured, "It's still Calabrese, not Latin."
"Then get a Calabrese priest!"
McCoy retorted, "The Uhura idea was good. I think. Somebody get Uhura." He finally hypo'ed the babbling young man.
The Captain said, "Giotto, get Uhura."
Kirk began to pace...back...forth. He heard the kid babble. He saw the kid pointing. What was he pointing at?
Jim Kirk's eagle eye calculated the trajectory of the pointing finger, coming to rest on one of the Galley's many workspaces, a large flat counter strewn with many colourful and good-smelling items. He glanced casually back at Carlo, who seemed to be babbling less, and whose pointing finger was drooping somewhat.
Just then Uhura came through the door. Seeing the Captain gimlet-eyed, absorbed in detectival musings, she chose to direct her enquiries to the Doctor.
"But Doctor, I studied Xenolinguistics. The only Terran I speak is Swahili, Amerenglish, and Standard."
"Try Swahili-Africa was pretty close to Italy until the waters rose," suggested Giotto hopefully. (Giotto, logically, was fond of pizza.)
Uhura gave it her best shot, but to no use. The kid had nearly ceased babbling, and only flapped an indifferent hand in the general direction of the counters every now and then. He did smile a lot, however, a good deal in her direction.
"Oh, great," thought McCoy. "Now he thinks he sees the Madonna."
Uhura, disappointed to not have been of use, sat down disconsolately by Carlo on the floor. (Since Africa had once been close to Italy-until the waters rose-she also, logically, was fond of pizza.)
Even McCoy, the Emergency moment over, kept an eye on his patient and thought of pizza-for McCoy, when he wasn't medicating the galaxy, did love the good things in life (logically).
Meanwhile Kirk had investigated the Hell out of the workspace. He had observed the pizza dough, the ripe tomatoes (brought by shuttlecraft from the planet below), the pungent origano (idem), fresh veggies (also) and mushrooms (no-Sulu grew the mushrooms for pizza...and other mushrooms), prosciutto, ham, and salami (beamed over from a luxury starcruiser whose cook owed Jules), olive oil. Soft, small, snow-white mozzarella balls....And, of course, Kirk thought longingly of pizza. Logically.
And ta-da! Just then, as if channelled away from the Science lab by all this logic, who should whoosh through the Galley door but Spock.
"Spock!" cried Kirk.
"Spock!" cried McCoy.
"Mr Spock!" cried Uhura, and all the galleyworkers chorused, "Mr Spock!"
"Good evening. Captain...can I do something for you, Captain?" Spock would never admit to having had an intuition but through the mental connection shared with his Captain, had felt that Jim was troubled and in need of...something.
"Hell, yes! Can you mindmeld with that kid over in the corner and find out what his problem is?-so everyone can get back to their duties...pizza...." Kirk was becoming testy from humger.
"Certainly, Sir." Spock approached the boy, bent minimally over him with his hands clasped behind his back, and spoke. "Buonasera, Carlo."
"Signor Spock!" and Carlo was off and running.
Kirk's jaw was nearing the floor. He snapped it up just in time and simply listened as his amazing First Officer posed a few well-put questions to the Chef's nephew, who actually got up off the floor, babbling and gesticulating and pointing at the counter, and getting generally overexcited.
McCoy shook his head in the most melancholy fashion. After the kid had finally calmed down! Kirk, to hide a grin, turned away, his eyes going back to the last items observed-and it was then he saw it. Something was odd among the beautiful small snow-white mozzarella balls....
Just to the side of the mozzarella container, partly filled with a milky liquid, in which floated many small white balls, there was another container, partly filled with a milky liquid, in which floated only two balls, the same size but of a slightly different color, kind of an off-white, tending almost...to green?
The Captain suddenly noticed the tomb-like silence behind him. Turning, he saw that Carlo had gone very pale, almost the same color as the greeny-pale balls, at which he was staring. Spock, on the other hand, was displaying that splendid emerald hue again, the shade he went when embarassed.
Jules sighed gallically and murmured, "Ah, I see you have sin ze mystery balls. Zey were daylivaired today vis the fresh foots and mozzarellas. No one sims to know anysing about zem."
Carlo howled and dropped his face into his hands. Spock turned forest-green and sighed (minimally).
McCoy, in the same moment, said, "Now what the hell...." He also spied the container which seemed to interest everyone. Going over to the counter for a look, amazed, he shouted, What the hell! My chenesi!!"
Spock's eyebrows both quite disappeared under his bangs. "Yours, Doctor? I hardly think-"
Kirk eyes went into laser-beam mode as he snapped, "Explain!"
At which everyone tried to speak at once. Except Spock.
"Silence!" the Captain's voice cracked like a whip. Silence. "Spock, it's your turn."
"Captain, a synthesis of Carlo's story is that he believes his sins to have found him out, said sins consisting of a sophomoric Halloween prank two weeks after he was transferred to the ship, to wit: the theft of a pair of experimentally-grown Vulcan chenesi in a Bell jar in Dr McCoy's pathology laboratory. He disposed of them via airlock and now believes they have come back to haunt him. He has a very well-developed sense of guilt, sir."
"I...see." The Captain looked slightly relieved.
"Well, with all this catharsis, I suppose he'll be alright now," said McCoy optimistically.
"Moi, ah don' know ‘bout zat..."from the irate Uncle Jules. "Maybe ve must replicate ze potatoes vis skin for a few monz-hein? Some vix off paling ze potatoes iss good for ze soul!"
Carlo looked glum, albeit somewhat grateful for the chastening.
"Yes," Kirk commented wearily, "but that doesn't explain how those got here." He jerked his chin at the offending mystery container. "I don't suppose you plan to use them on pizza?"
Spock made a minimal odd sound.
"Mais non!" Jules was horrified at the very thought. "Jamais! Please Docteur, take zem away"
"Jules," said Kirk patiently, "you obviously didn't order them. Who sent them? It's a question of Security."
At which Giotto, who was chatting up Uhura, shot to alert. "Sir!"
Kirk sighed. "Commander, ah-please escort Lieutenant Uhura back to the Bridge. Security, you know.
As they exited, Kirk rolled his eyes.
Carlo approached Kirk with a large piece of brown paper. "Sorry, Sir," he apologized in perfect Standard, "the smaller container was wrapped in this. I didn't read it, just thought it was for Uncle Jules, then when I opened it I freaked out and I don't remember too much after that." He hung his head.
Kirk held up the paper, squinted, and reading through wrinkles and stains, said, "It's addressed to me."
He straightened the paper, shook it, and somehow was not surprised when a small envelope fell out.
Spock retrieved the envelope as Kirk stood there. He handed the envelope to Kirk, who handed the wrapping paper to Spock as McCoy looked on fatalistically.
Kirk shook out the small sheet of paper, opened it, read it, closed his eyes and said, "These Vulcan staminal-cell miracles got left behind because of refrigeration issues. These are also for TLara (the Most Excellent). McCoy, take them to-hydroponics? and have Sulu contact GUSP."
"What about my stolen chenesi?" McCoy beefed. Spock made another odd sound.
"Have him clone you a pair. Come on Spock, let's go mind the store. Call us when pizza's ready!"