“What is… this?”
The Klingon stared at the object in his hand, turning it over and studying it intently. “It looks like a bomb. A bright, shining bomb,” he added, before jogging his memory of Earth culture. He raised a thick dark eyebrow and asked, “Is it a grenade?”
Spock raised an eyebrow, clearly taken by surprise. “I had no idea that you were versed in archaic weapons of Earth’s past, Captain.”
“Klingons have learned that we must understand weaponry beyond those of our own people,” Captain Mek’tor said thoughtfully as he pondered the object in his hand. “Just as a blade will rust if uncared for, so too will a warrior’s mind become dull if the thinking is limited.”
“A willingness to learn is the mark of any progressive society,” Spock agreed diplomatically, although the Klingon outlook of applying it to military understanding was distasteful to him. “However,” he corrected the visiting captain, “the object you hold is not a weapon. It is purely ornamental.”
Mek’tor gazed at it, frowning. “Ornamental?” he asked with uncertainty.
Captain Kirk had been watching the scene from the top level of the cargo bay with some amusement, and cast his mind back to the events that had led to this point.
Due to the Organian Peace Treaty, tensions between the Klingons and the United Federation of Planets had been defused for a while – albeit under ominous circumstances. The peace that had been enforced on them by the non-corporeal Organians had bristled those in command of both sides, and the idea of a third force interfering had unnerved Kirk at the time too. Spock had pointed out to him that only a fool would find war preferable to peace, although Bones had put his homespun wisdom on it by saying that it was like a parent spanking two fighting children and sending them to their rooms without supper.
The analogy had sat better with Kirk than Spock’s words. He didn’t relish the prospect of war, but also didn’t appreciate the Organians stepping in and telling him what to do. It wasn’t just him either – the Klingon Empire and the United Federation of Planets suddenly seemed to have one less course of action open to them, something that took away their free will… even if it was self-destructive.
On the other hand, it had given the diplomatic corps a field day in trying to come up with new ways to implement the peace treaty and to try and foster better relations between the recent enemies. Some had been sensible, some had been laughable, but this one – in the mind of James Kirk – was preposterous. As a theory, a cultural exchange program had its merits. Yet due to the variety of alien races in the UFP, in practice it had become a logistical and diplomatic nightmare. The deadline had been set and the Klingons had surprisingly agreed – no doubt having been made aware of the troubles by some well-paid spies and keen to see Starfleet humiliate themselves, Kirk thought.
Unfortunately for him, the word had come down from the top brass that the duty of spearheading the cultural exchange fell to him. He had protested at having been given the assignment, especially without the benefit of a UFP ambassador, but Admiral Shaye had reminded him that the job of Starfleet was as much about statesmanship as it was about exploring and offering help to those in need.
The only positive news that he had been given from the admiral was that because it wasn’t a first contact mission there was no need for formality. “Have fun with it” Admiral Shaye had advised him. “If it’s true that the Klingons are going to be our friends one day, then we’d better start by learning to relax around them. They’re to be your guests, and that means being hospitable.”
The itinerary that Starfleet had sent him was vague, and loose enough to allow him some leeway in what he chose to share with the Klingons during their time on board, although he had routinely posted guards at all appropriate locations. Spock had duly sent the Klingons a small but comprehensive protocol guide as well as some files of various aspects of Earth culture to give them some background.
And so they had come into orbit around the neutral planet of Nimbus III. The Klingon Bird-of-Prey had decloaked nearby, and despite the advice he had been given by Admiral Shaye he had been nervous. The idea of relaxing was something that he thought he would only be able to achieve once this ludicrous meeting was over, and the tense silence on the bridge seemed to be echoing those sentiments from his whole crew.
“Shields up, Captain?” Chekov had asked hesitantly in his thick Russian accent.
Kirk had managed to avert his gaze from the image of the warship on the viewscreen and glanced at Spock. Spock shook his head almost imperceptibly, but Kirk had learned to read his small mannerisms by now.
“No, Ensign,” Kirk had said with a sense of congeniality he hadn’t quite felt. “This is a mission of peace, and it’s hard to extend the hand of friendship with a wall between us.” He had smiled at the crew, his confidence returning. The mood on the bridge had seemed to lighten at this, and within moments Spock had confirmed that the Klingons had lowered their shields as well.
The exchange with the Klingon captain, Mek’tor, had gone smoother than he had expected and after they had traded the usual standard pleasantries he had ordered Uhura to transmit a standby message for the Klingons to prepare for transport to the Enterprise.
“Well, it’s time to get this show on the road,” Kirk had said loudly, rising from his captain’s chair. “Ladies and gentlemen, I don’t need to tell you how important this is to Starfleet, the Federation and the future. I know you’ll be at your best and will do the Enterprise proud, as always. Now then, it’s time to go and greet our visitors.”
He had moved in strong strides towards the turbolift, flanked by Spock, but whirled around briefly and looked at his crew as he reached the sliding doors. The general attitude amongst the crew was still cautious, even subdued. Needing to break the tension, he had raised his arms in a melodramatic gesture, commanding their attention.
“Oh, and one more thing,” he had said with a slight grin. “Please, try and lighten up. The last thing we need is for the Klingon Empire to think that we have no sense of humour…”
Beaming the five visitors aboard had proved no difficulty whatsoever. Their captain, Mek’tor, was of similar height and build to Kirk and had seemed enthusiastic to be on board the Federation vessel. His engineer, K’trok, seemed gruff and disinterested, but as soon as he had begun talking with his counterpart Scotty, the two had seemed on their way to becoming fast – but wary – friends. The same couldn’t be said for the three other Klingons who had accompanied them, Koral, Moklor and Toq. Their ranks or functions on their own vessel wasn’t mentioned, but Kirk guessed from their muscular, imposing figures that they weren’t the ship’s cooks.
The visit had been going well though, with Kirk and Spock alternating the duty of serving as tour guide for the Klingons. By the time they had reached cargo bay three the boredom of the visitors had become evident. That had changed rapidly when they saw the flurry of activity that was underway. Bones had bounded up to them, grinning, and had practically dragged an embarrassed Kirk to the upper level. His sudden absence had put Kirk on the spot, trying to explain what was going on.
His thoughts returning to the present, Kirk took a deep breath and restrained himself from doing anything more than allowing a slightly playful smile to appear. He took hold of one of the ladders on both sides and athletically slid back down to the lower level. “It’s a… ball. A bauble. It’s a… trinket made of polished, coloured glass,” he announced. “We use them for decoration.”
“Decoration?” Mek’tor asked, struggling to understand. “It is a medal of sorts, like the Star of Kahless? It looks far too unwieldy for any warrior to wear.” He lifted it up to his ceremonial sash and attached it with the hook at the tip of the ball. It dangled there loosely, glinting in the light.
Again Kirk tried to restrain himself from smiling too much. The Klingons were proud, and to laugh at them would have been a risk Starfleet wouldn’t have approved of. He enjoyed living dangerously and taking chances, but that would have been too much even for him. “It’s… not for wearing,” he began to explain. As if on cue, Mek’tor removed it from his sash as Kirk continued. “As I said, it’s just a decoration and it…”
The Klingon captain closed his powerful fist around the ball and it shattered instantly, thin shards of glass splintering onto the floor while several embedded themselves in his hand. Small droplets of blood appeared, and Kirk winced at the scene. There was an awkward pause, with Kirk and Spock exchanging glances. After a moment the Klingons all raised their heads, laughing at what had happened. It was a strange sight for the Starfleet personnel to witness, but as the Vulcan science officer had once pointed out during a briefing, the Klingons had a sense of humour that was quite unique.
“I shall fetch Doctor McCoy for you, Captain,” Spock said quickly, addressing Mek’tor.
“You shall do no such thing, Vulcan,” Mek’tor replied with an upbeat tone, stopping the science officer in his tracks. “These wounds are little more than scratches. Why, a child would have received worse from playing with a yIHmey!”
Kirk looked at Spock, hoping to gain some insight into the statement from his friend. Spock gave a slight shrug, a gesture that Kirk knew well as a sign that the science officer had little information to offer. He knew that Spock prided himself on his vast intellect, even if pride was an emotion that he wasn’t supposed to feel.
“I believe that they are some kind of creature, Captain,” Spock said stoically. “I have little knowledge of them personally, although references to them within the little Klingon culture we are aware of suggest that they are quite dangerous.”
“Well I hope I don’t run into some in a darkened corridor one evening,” Kirk said with a slight chuckle. Mek’tor stared at him intensely and an uneasy silence seemed to drift about the room. Just as the brief smile was starting to disappear from Kirk’s face, the Klingon roared with laughter and swatted the captain of the Enterprise with a playful – if forceful – hand.
After a moment Mek’tor collected himself and stared at the crushed glass on the floor and his hand. “If these… baubles… are not for personal use then what purpose do they serve?” he asked.
“As I said, they’re ornamental,” Kirk replied, trying to keep his mind on the diplomatic task he’d been given. “We’re setting up the cargo bay for Christmas. It’s one of our Earth holidays, and even though we’re far from home we still like to keep up with our traditions.”
“That is the burden of all in space, Kirk” the Klingon captain agreed, nodding. “Our duties take us in all directions, but no matter how powerful the engines at our disposal are, a piece of us always remains behind. Our hearts carry the best of our culture with us, while those who remain behind carry us with them.”
“That is a poetic – and strangely accurate – concept, Captain Mek’tor,” Spock said. “Environmental psychology has stated that place attachment is a fundamental part of each -”
“We believe something similar,” Kirk interjected quickly. “In fact, that’s why Doctor McCoy is in charge of the celebrations. There’s probably not a man on board with a bigger heart, and Christmas is a time that’s special to many of us.”
From the back of the cargo bay McCoy yelled out, “We’ve got this area clear, Jim. Just give the word and we can get this show on the road.”
Kirk saw the look of surprise on Mek’tor’s face, and Spock’s passive expression belied what appeared to be mild frustration at the doctor’s lack of formal protocol. He excused himself quickly and strode over to the intercom on the wall. Pressing the button on it and signalling down to the transporter room, Kirk said, “Scotty, we’re ready in cargo bay three. They say that Christmas is a time for miracles, and it’s time to see if you’re the miracle worker we’re hoping for.”
“Aye sir!” Scotty’s voice rang out. “I think I’ve got just the holiday cheer you’re looking for. Preparing to beam into the cargo bay…”
After several moments a familiar hum filled the room and the swirling golden energy of the transporter beam appeared near the large airlock doors at the back of the room. It shimmered briefly and then dissipated, leaving behind a large green pine tree. It was nearly ten feet tall and stood proudly, its long green branches seemingly begging to be decorated.
Kirk smiled at it and leaned towards the intercom. “Congratulations, Mister Scott. I’ll make sure that Starfleet doesn’t just put coal in your stocking this year.”
“I’d settle for some new dilithium crystals in the engine room, if it’s all the same to you sir,” Scotty replied.
“I’ll see what can be arranged the next time we’re in dock,” Kirk said and signed off. He turned and saw that their Klingon guest had taken an interest in the tree and was talking with his first officer and Bones. Spock had taken it upon himself to explain the complex history of it in Earth’s Christmas traditions, from religious and pagan beliefs to the symbolic aspects of evergreens by ancient cultures on various continents.
“This was one of our chief helmsman’s personal projects,” Kirk explained as he neared them. “He has a keen interest in botany, and this was originally one of the samples of Earth flora he brought with him when we first set out. Unfortunately it seemed like being on a ship in deep space disagreed with it. Thankfully Doctor McCoy here was on hand, and managed to assist him in saving it.”
“Green fingers are one thing,” Bones said with a wry smile, “but they’re no match for a doctor. Or in this case a tree surgeon.”
“Green… fingers?” Mek’tor asked with confusion.
“An Earth term, implying that an individual has an innate ability to cultivate plant life,” Spock explained, purposefully ignoring the doctor’s attempt at humour.
“Those baubles you saw earlier, they’re a part of the decorations that go on the tree. There are other things too, tinsel and small candy canes to start with. It’s quite the event. In fact, for some the act of decorating the tree is one of the most exciting parts of Christmas. Then there are the carols, the gifts…”
Kirk trailed off, noticing that Mek’tor had apparently lost interest in the subject. He looked at the Klingon and read his features easily. Disappointment and contempt seemed to be etched on the face of his guest, and he wondered if he’d taken the wrong approach. “I’m sorry if all of this seems… boring you,” he said, slightly defensively.
“Boring me?” Mek’tor replied with disdain. “You plan to dress up a tree, adorning it with honours and items that look like medals as if it were a warrior. Sacred trees… why, you’re as foolish as the Kreetassans!”
“Now wait just a damn minute!” Bones said angrily. Kirk shot him a look that stopped the doctor from continuing his emotional outburst, attempting to defuse the situation.
“It’s a part of our culture,” Kirk explained. “There’s more to Christmas than the tree, but it’s still symbolic. This was supposed to be a cultural exchange and that’s what we’re trying to do, share an important part of our culture with you. I’m sorry if you feel we’ve been wasting your time. Maybe we should call an end to this tour for now.”
“Agreed,” the Klingon captain said and gave a curt nod to his men as he turned to leave. “We shall return to our ship and… consider… what we have seen.”
They walked out of the cargo bay, joined by Kirk and Spock. Bones took a step forward to join them but Kirk cast him a glance and shook his head.
Kirk wondered where it had all gone wrong. Christmas and all of its aspects were a lot to take in and he allowed himself a moment of self doubt, thinking he had made a grave error. All of his knowledge of the Klingons, all of his experiences, had shown them as a race with little time for social pleasantries at best, and barbarians at worst. He bristled a bit at the thought that he’d done a poor job, and at the Klingon’s reaction too. Captain Mek’tor had started off seeming almost amiable by Klingon standards, but like all of his previous interactions with them, this one had started going sour.
“I’m sorry, Captain,” he apologised as they entered the transporter room. “I can understand that this probably isn’t the… cultural exchange of information that you were hoping for. I’m a poor statesman. However, I still hope that you can join us later for the celebration.”
The Klingon engineer, K’trok, had been standing alongside Scotty at the control panel. With a courteous nod to his counterpart, he rejoined Mek’tor and the others as they stepped on to the platform. They stood at attention in typical military fashion.
The Klingon captain looked at Kirk and stared him in the eyes. “You’re a gracious host, Kirk,” Mek’tor said. “Diplomacy is something we both must learn, but perhaps we shall in time. I shall return later, but until then I wish you success with your… tree. Qapla’.”
Kirk gave a nod to Scotty, and the Klingons were beamed back to their ship. Kirk chided himself on his poor form, and his head hung low with regret. He looked up at Spock and said sarcastically, “Well I’d say that was a resounding success. So much for bringing the spirit of Christmas to the Klingons.”
Spock raised an eyebrow and said, “Judging from their captain’s statements, I would say that they are struggling to grasp the significance of it.”
“Maybe it’s something that we’ve taken for granted, it all seems so normal for us.”
“While the regularity of it may have become routine, there is little about it that is normal even for humans, Captain.”
Kirk looked at him with curiosity. “Would you care to explain that, Spock?”
Spock paused, arranging his thoughts. “While the concept of Christmas is alien to me due to my Vulcan heritage, my mother is human. As such I was exposed to certain aspects of Earth culture through her, much as she assimilated the Vulcan beliefs of my father.”
“I can imagine that must have created some difficulties for you,” Kirk said.
“Perhaps, in some ways, it did,” Spock conceded. “However, I always found that being exposed to the cultural aspects of two different societies expanded my knowledge in ways that other Vulcan children could not grasp. Cultural exchanges are beneficial, if not always perceived by others.”
“But you said that there was nothing normal about Christmas. Is it that hard to grasp?”
“Jim,” Spock said quietly. “What is the true meaning of Christmas?”
Kirk considered the question for a moment. “Well, Spock, you know… it’s about…” he began. He thought again, remembering the countless experiences of his youth. Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, Christmas songs being played, family dinners. There was the religious aspect to consider too. Then there was Santa Claus, tales of sleigh rides and reindeer. And, of course, the tree. “I suppose,” he conceded, “that it’s hard to put into a simple answer. The traditions may seem normal to us, but on the whole Christmas doesn’t seem too normal as a concept.”
“It is… illogical, Captain,” Spock said.
“It is at that, Spock,” Kirk agreed and then grinned. “I guess that’s what makes it the most wonderful time of the year. But the Klingons don’t function from a logical standpoint, they’re emotional.”
“That is true. But like most emotional beings, their feelings are logical to them. As my parents learned, cultural divides can only be overcome through finding common ground on which to build a bridge.”
“If you don’t mind me saying,” Scotty said, interrupting their discussion, “the Klingons weren’t looking forward to being here.”
Kirk and Spock turned to face him as he checked the readouts on the control panel. “What do you mean, Mister Scott?” Kirk asked.
“I don’t mean to cause trouble,” Scotty said nervously.
“I think there’s enough of that to go around,” Kirk responded. “What’s the problem?”
“Well…” Scotty said hesitantly. “I think that they were as unenthusiastic about meeting us as we were about meeting them. That engineer of theirs, he was nice enough, but he told me that their captain barely looked at that protocol guide Mister Spock sent over. They were expecting us to fail, and were treating the whole thing like a joke.”
Kirk moved closer to the console and leaned on it. “That explains their attitude. This whole assignment has been a disaster and right now I’m probably the laughing stock of the Klingon Empire. I’m the Starfleet captain who wants to dress up a tree. Well we need to solve this problem, for diplomacy’s sake if nothing else. Spock, what are the options?”
“In Klingon culture, nothing is more dishonourable than retreat. To limit your involvement in the Christmas celebration or denounce it in any way would weaken your position further,” the Vulcan offered. “If anything, you must defend it with absolute conviction.”
“I’m not about to denounce Christmas,” Kirk said testily. “I wouldn’t do that anyway. You know that, and it’s got nothing to do with saving face. What about that common ground? The Klingons are war-like, and Christmas is a time for peace. There can’t be two things further apart.”
“Captain,” Spock said, “as it stands the Klingons are struggling to accept peace between themselves and the Federation. Perhaps Christmas can play a part in that…”
Kirk had spent hours studying the historical database, going through screens of information, searching for something that could be of help. There was something that had been gnawing at him about the stories of Christmas past, stories that he had heard in his childhood. He’d finally found it and had made arrangements for the return of their guests.
To his surprise, Mek’tor was the only one who returned. Kirk didn’t know if he should have been insulted, but shrugged it off. Besides, he thought, the stunned look on the face of the Klingon was already something he could cherish afterwards. If the Klingon military way of thinking was at play, he had taken his opponent off guard.
Mek’tor stepped off the transporter platform and appraised Kirk. He was still in his uniform but the long red hat with a white fluffy ball at the end of it that he wore was far from standard issue. “Nice… hat,” the Klingon captain said hesitantly.
“I’m just trying to spread a little holiday cheer,” Kirk explained. “It’s not exactly regulation but it’s one of those cultural things we do. Sometimes rules have to be bent in favour of cultural honour, don’t you agree?”
“I suppose so,” Mek’tor replied. “It is an unusual tradition, but…”
“Here,” Kirk said quickly, and produced another hat identical to the one he wore. He handed it to the Klingon. “I think that since you’re here to experience a part of our culture it’s only right that you should join in.”
The Klingon grumbled a little as he turned it over in his hands. “This isn’t dignified or appropriate for a warrior,” he said.
“I’m a Starfleet captain,” Kirk said seriously. “But for the sake of honour I can put dignity to one side for the evening. I’m… surprised that you can’t do the same.”
There was an uncomfortable silence for a moment until Mek’tor finally conceded and put the hat on. “For honour,” he said simply.
Kirk gave him a slight grin and said, “Now then, shall we get started?”
They made their way through the ship exchanging glances but mostly in silence. The crew that passed them in the long corridors smiled at seeing them before continuing about their duties. As they walked past sickbay, Christine Chapel emerged in a festive spirit and carrying a small cup. Even from this distance Kirk could smell that she had been indulging in some of Bones’ specially prepared eggnog. Mek’tor sniffed at the air and sensed the alcoholic content of it too. He smiled broadly, his sharp teeth showing.
“Ah, now this is a celebration,” he said cheerfully.
“It’s all a part of the tradition,” Kirk explained.
Nurse Chapel took several steps towards them, held a small sprig of mistletoe over the head of Mek’tor and planted a quick kiss on his cheek. Giggling, she dashed back into sickbay leaving the Klingon confused but upbeat.
“That’s… another tradition,” Kirk said with slight embarrassment.
“I see nothing wrong with a crew celebrating,” Mek’tor commented. “Klingon celebrations are legendary.”
“I’m sure they are,” Kirk said with a nod. “I think that things should be ready in cargo bay three now. It may not be as legendary as some of your own celebrations, but we do what we can.”
By the time they reached the cargo bay the noise was noticeable, and when the doors opened the two captains entered a Christmas party that was in full swing. At the back of the room the tree stood majestically, now decorated and almost glowing with light. The room was nearly full, some crew-members holding their cups carefully as they talked amongst themselves or sang. The sweetest voice came from Uhura, who seemed to be leading many of them in carol singing.
“I hope you don’t mind,” Kirk said over the noise. “Things can get a bit boisterous at times.”
“Wine, women and song,” Mek’tor said with appreciation as someone handed a cup of eggnog. He tasted it and grimaced at the sweetness. “I see no warrior who could object to these things. It seems our cultures do share some traits.”
Kirk grinned more broadly at this. “I just need to say a few words to the crew. I’ll be right back…” He quickly drifted away from the Klingon and made his way to the ladder that led to the upper level.
As the carol came to an end, all eyes started to turn in his direction and a hush descended upon the crowd. Kirk looked down at them all and felt a swell of pride. He saw them all, some of them huddled into clusters. Bones was discussing something with Spock near the tree that had now been decorated. Chekov was dancing with a young woman from engineering, clearly trying to impress her. They were his crew, his friends… and more importantly they had become his family. As silence filled the room he spoke up, addressing them all.
“Ladies and gentlemen, I don’t need to tell you that back home it’s Christmas. It’s a time for celebration, and it’s a tradition that we still honour. Earlier today I was asked a question that’s been asked many times over the years: What’s the true meaning of Christmas?
“Well… the truth is that there’s no easy answer to that. It’s a time of the year, but it’s also a feeling that we get inside us. It’s cultural, although it’s an alien concept to some. It’s a tradition, but over thousands of years traditions have changed. For some it’s about gifts, for others it’s a time for reflection.
“There’s no one right answer for what it is, because it’s so varied. As my first officer reminded me earlier, it’s… illogical. It’s many different things to many different people, all over the Earth and beyond. But as for what it means, that’s a whole other matter. It means a time for unity, for peace and goodwill to all men, women, Vulcans, Klingons… everyone. It’s a spirit of joy and kindness that we should probably feel more often than we allow ourselves to.”
Gazing down into the crowd he spotted Mek’tor, who was studying him intently. “Peace isn’t something that comes easily, although it probably should,” he continued. “Many years ago on Earth there was a terrible war, one that cost many people there lives. But one Christmas, in a no-man’s land like the one we’re in now, people put aside their weapons and their differences. They sang together and talked, they even exchanged gifts. For a very short time they had peace, not because they had been forced into it but because they chose to. It was… more honourable than war.
“One of the signals that was initially sent in this brief truce was the lighting of candles. Some of them were placed on Christmas trees. The lighting of candles and the trees weren’t new, but what they signified was something special. It showed that Christmas did have a meaning.
“Times have changed, but not that much. Christmas had meaning then and it has meaning now. We celebrate it, and with good reason. We exchange gifts but the biggest, the best, is goodwill because it’s shared. It’s something we have in common, that spirit that exists inside all of us. Differences get put aside, as they should be, and we share good cheer. Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, it’s something good and noble and that’s what really counts.”
Kirk was pleased to see that below him the Klingon captain was nodding with understanding. “Well, I should probably wrap this up. This is a party, after all,” he said with a smile. With his usual energy returning he boomed out, “Merry Christmas, everyone.”
The crew cheered as Kirk raised his arms, and then he quickly slid down the ladder again. As music began to fill the cargo bay and Uhura began to sing, the captain of the Enterprise made his way back to his guest.
“That was an interesting speech, Kirk,” Mek’tor said. “I had no idea that it meant so much to you. The honour that you attach to this celebration, I can see why it would be so important to you. It overcame warring factions, that alone makes it worthy of song.”
“That isn’t the only reason,” Kirk replied, “but it’s still a good one.”
Mek’tor smiled. “It is. There seems to be a great deal of pageantry going on, but I can understand the respect this celebration commands.”
“Well that’s good, because there’s something that I need your help with.”
“What is it?” Mek’tor asked suspiciously.
“It involves the tree,” Kirk explained. “It isn’t quite finished, there’s one last touch that needs to be added. It’s the most important part, really. As our guest of honour I thought I’d leave it to you.”
The two captains moved towards the tree, the baubles shimmering and glowing, illuminating it beautifully. A small ladder had been erected next to it, and Kirk gestured to it. “You’ll need to climb that,” Kirk said. He handed the Klingon the last decoration and added, “This fits at the top of the tree.”
Without a word Mek’tor took the ornament and raced up the ladder. With no-nonsense efficiency he placed the star at the top of the tree and leapt off the ladder, landing next to Kirk with a solid thud. “Is that sufficient?” he asked as some of the crew cheered and whistled.
“It’s perfect,” Kirk said as he stared up at it with satisfaction. “That star has been in my family for years. I used to look at it at every Christmas and think about how bright it was. Now I live amongst the stars, but I swear I’ve never seen one as beautiful.”
“I hope you do, Captain,” Mek’tor said. “And thank you for entrusting me with it, however briefly. We both salute the stars. While I may not understand your culture, I am proud to have been allowed to share in some of it. Merry… Christmas, Captain Kirk.”
“Merry Christmas, Captain Mek’tor,” Kirk replied, genuinely touched. “It’s been an honour to share this with you.”
The Klingon captain took in the scene, the smiling and laughing amongst the crew, the singing, even the decorated tree. He looked down at the cup in his hand and said, “Answer me this though: Why is this bloodwine so sickeningly sweet, and so pale?”
Editor’s note: If you enjoyed this, you might also like A Very Klingon Khristmas!
Image credit: cafepress.com