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Who Mourns for Asgard?

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Captain’s log, Stardate 3170.

This quadrant, and the unknown quadrants which stretch after it, were thought to be empty. An exciting prospect, for the crew and myself. Exploration and discovery are a core part of our five year mission, after all. And yet - as we’ve seen time and time again - the information we had once known as truth has proven to be… lacking. The crew has anticipated many discoveries which will surely come from our time in this quadrant; in the rec room, scarcely a single conversation passes without at least one person daydreaming over the possibilities waiting ahead.

We had thought - flora and fauna, new species ready to be discovered on planets not yet visited. If we’re lucky, perhaps there would be signs of long ago civilisations hidden among the planets not yet catalogued; there are, after all, a multitude of those in this barely explored part of space.

Nothing but wishful thinking to imagine that there would be a planet already inhabited by sentient life, for though this quadrant has not been truly explored it has still been witness to Starfleet once or twice before. Maybe a pre-warp society, tucked away at the very furthest reaches, easily overlooked. If we’re unlucky, perhaps a hostile ship from the Klingon Empire lurks somewhere within. Over and over, I’ve heard just about every iteration of the things we could find over the next months. 

For all this speculation, not a single person ever expected to encounter a ship with a design so foreign as to be entirely unknown. It does not bear the hallmarks of a Klingon ship, nor Romulan, Andorian, Vulcan, Ferengi, Betazoid - all day, crew have been attempting to match what can be seen on our long range scanners to a known culture. There are points of similarity but nothing concrete, nothing that does not collapse under closer scrutiny. Though still distant from us, they should be in range to receive subsonic communication. We have hailed them at the top of every hour but, so far, they have not responded. Have not done anything, except for continue on their path. Their perceived heading, as we understand it? Directly towards the Enterprise.

The realisation that this could be first contact with a warp capable species from unexplored space grows stronger with each hours. We all feel the same excitement, of course, but after everything we’ve encountered on our mission so far, I cannot help but wonder…

Is their silence due to a technological incompatibility or… something more sinister.

More than twenty four hours passes and Captain Kirk can feel the tension level of his crew as it rises, slowly but steadily. It is early in Alpha shift once more and, still, Uhura attempts to contact the foreign ship every hour. There has been no change in the foreign craft during the day since the Enterprise discovered her on their radar. No acknowledgement, no shift in heading or speed, no raising of shields or powering of any type of weapon, so far as the Enterprise’s scanners can tell. 

More and more, the realisation that this ship - a ship so unknown that no one in their entire crew has been able to identify its origins, a chance for first contact with a warp capable culture that has come to them rather than the other way around, the excitement of the new, the unknown, the possibilities for educational and cultural exchanges...

Each hour that the other ship stays dark brings with it the creeping realisation that whoever had been on the ship, lives no longer. Whichever team ventures onto the vessel will not be encountering a new civilisation and species, venturing out in friendship and the name of discovery - they’ll be walking amongst the dead. Little more than scavengers, taking all the knowledge from this foreign ship as they can. 

Uhura sends the message once more and, like each time before, there is no response. They will continue to monitor the situation, of course, but the collective hopes of the Enterprise are low. It is still several hours until they’re slated to intercept the other ship, though the away team has already been chosen and are preparing for the solemn task of investigating a dead ship.

Then, without warning, the starscape stretched out before the bridge blinks out of view. It’s replaced with the view of a long hall with a vaulted ceiling, shadowed movement visible at its most distant reaches. A metallic chair sits pride of place, though no figure is there to greet them. There is silence on the bridge for a few moments, uncertain but hopeful at the sudden change, until Lieutenant Uhura says, 

“Connection established, Captain.” 

At the sound of her voice, what Kirk had previously thought to be a pillar of blue rock to the side of the screen moves. It shifts into view, surface as cracked and craggy as any true rock would be but unmistakably a being. Jim can recognise more or less humanoid facial features; eyes, nose, mouth, the ridges where eyebrows would otherwise be rising as they take in the scene before them. The being tilts their head, moving even further into frame. A second shoulder is revealed, this one bearing a spiked pauldron on one large shoulder. Primitive in appearance but unmistakable in design; Jim wonders if it is a futile hope, to want for a peaceful encounter.

“Who’re you lot, then?” The being says, voice much softer than their hard appearance would suggest.

“I am Captain James T. Kirk of the U.S.S. Enterprise, representative of the Intergalactic Federation of Planets.”

“Oh, a captain. Yeah, we don’t really do titles here. Trying to establish a little egalitarian commune, you know?”

“A worthy pursuit. Might you have a name?” Jim’s padd pings with a message, high enough priority to override the mute feature but not the right tone for urgent or emergency. He ignores it.

“I’m Korg, this is Miek,” the being shifts even further in frame and holds up… something that looks akin to a giant insect larvae. Off to the side, Spock leans forward ever so slightly. Jim can admit, the difference between the two beings is quite large. If this Miek is the same species, only at a different point in their life cycle, that would certainly be of great interest to their science department. 

“Nice to meet youse, crew of the Enterprise. Have the rest of you-”

“Korg, who is that?” A voice booms from somewhere. From the voice, Jim imagines an even larger rock creature, though he has also braced himself for another larval type being.

“I figured out what that little blinking light did. Some sort of communication device; I think it’s that other ship we can see.”

“I believe you’re right, Korg my friend.”

The being that steps into view, opposite to Korg, is… human. Humanoid. Shorter than Korg though no less powerful looking for the lack of height, or rock. Broad at the shoulder, short beard and short hair and an eyepatch over their right eye. Clad in something that looks like dark leather, the humanoid could’ve stepped right out of one of the swashbuckling stories Jim’s father read to him as a child. 

They settle easily into the chair, unconcerned by Korg looming to one side. Their movements are not overly graceful, they do not move with weightless ease. Quite the opposite, in fact. Every shift of the as of yet unnamed being’s body seems solid; the being has enough presence that the distance between them seems to disappear. There is something almost regal in their bearing - what Jim perceives as regal, that is. For all he knows, the alien is doing the equivalent of a slouch. Everything on the screen appears to reinforce the idea that this is not a ship unknown to war and conflict, that this sentient has a warrior’s body and knows how to use it.

“Greetings, Ship. I am Thor, of Asgard. He/him.”

Jim blinks at the screen, nodding absently as Korg says, ‘oh, yeah, I’m cool with whatever pronouns you use but I quite like he/him. Miek’s she/her.’

He cannot help but think, as he knows his crew is thinking, of the supposed ‘Greek god’ that they have already encountered. If you placed Apollo and Thor side by side, Jim knows with certainty which one he would be inclined to think of as a god. Apollo, for all his tricks and abilities, pales in comparison with the man before them. Of course, Jim believes this man to be a god about as much as he believes that Apollo was; that is to say, he doesn’t.

“Captain James T. Kirk, he/him, of the U.S.S. Enterprise. Thor of Asgard, you say?”

“King of Asgard,” Korg says, leaning one of his hands on the back of the chair.

“I thought you were an egalitarian commune?” Kirk asks, watching as Thor’s previously stern face creases into a smile. Jim is wary of this man, who claims the name and origin of yet another Earth god. Despite this, Thor’s smile is almost contagious. There’s such joy in his singular eye, in his broad smile, as he tilts his head up to regard his friend. Jim is well aware of the multitudes any sentient life is capable of but… it is not often that he is witness to such easy joy, from a man so clearly accustomed to some type of warfare.

“Oh, Miek and I are, as well as Roscoe. Everyone else kind of… died in battle. But we’re keeping the spirit alive! Some of the Asgardians have been asking some pretty gratifying questions, if I do say so myself.”

“Your council on governance remains appreciated, Korg.” Thor says, with all apparent sincerity. He truly is a handsome man; Jim can feel Bones giving him the side eye. He wants to wave the other man away, ensure him that he’s not so foolish to make eyes at a man claiming to be a god - though, Thor has not yet made that assertion. In Jim’s experience, people claiming godhood do not wait to announce it. It is usually a part of their opening, eyes fixed on whoever they talk to, waiting for the awe, the accolades, the worship.

That this Thor has not even attempted to… There have been more outrageous coincidences, than an alien species sharing names with ancient Earth gods. Regardless, Jim won’t be taken in by the kind, warm smile or the bulging muscles. He will be friendly, of course. Do his best to espouse the merits of the Federation to those aboard the other ship, lend them medical aid if they need it, if they accept - casual speech about battle, about multiple deaths, does not particularly reassure anyone on the bridge. Neither does it unsettle them; at this point, they have faced far worse than a simple mention of past woes.

“King Thor -”

“Just Thor, please, Captain. We are all equals.” 

Next to Thor, Korg gives a thumbs up. It is possible the Miek also gives some sign of approval, or perhaps she has only been jostled by Korg’s movement. Jim blinks, half a second later; is a thumbs up such a universal gesture of approval? Jim has certainly never experienced it to be so. Another coincidence, to go along with the species name Asgardian and the personal name Thor.

“Than you must call me James, Thor, as equals.”

“Tell me, James,” Thor starts and, oh. He’d offered his full name with little thought. Something about Thor’s bearing, his way of talking, lends itself more to formalities, despite how easily the man appears to eschew them. Jim hadn’t realised that - he’s used to Captain, used to Kirk, to Jim, to being called all number of things by Bones. He had not realised that he’d become so unused to being called James. Had not realised until Thor’s deep, resonant voice had called him James like that and Jim had felt a frisson of something tingle down his spine.

Jim looks down at his padd in an effort to avoid the eyes of everyone, knowing that though his reaction must have been subtle enough for Thor himself not to have noticed, his crew were a different matter. Indeed, he can hear Bones sigh - and see Spock’s side eye, and the quirk of Uhura’s lips, and Chekov’s shaking shoulders, and the way Sulu turns just enough in his chair so that everyone can see the man rolling his eyes. The message on his padd, from Uhura, reads,

They’re speaking English.

Jim’s head snap back upright, shocked. He hadn’t even noticed - for an unknown species, the universal translator should not have worked. If it worked, it should have been obvious and halting, the cautious translation of a program struggling to find accurate translations. Not this smooth, easy back and forth. If Uhura’s right - and Jim knows perfectly well that she is - the beings before them aren’t being translated at all. They’re… speaking English. This unknown ship of alien design, appearing from the depths of unexplored space, are speaking… English.

This is not a coincidence. 

Jim meets Thor’s singular eye once more and - ah. Jim had forgotten, for a moment, why he’d opened the message on his padd. He had assumed that his reaction had been subtle enough to go unnoticed by the alien - had assumed that, even if it had been noticed, the cause would be impossible for him to figure out. They are from two separate alien species, after all, from opposite ends of the galaxy; how could Thor understand the reaction Jim had had?

But the man is speaking English, and the banked heat in his blue eye as he stares at Jim says he understands perfectly. Ah. This situation has, in scant minutes, turned ridiculously complicated. Then again, that does always seem to be the way of it.

Jim wonders - absently, of course he would never actually - but he wonders about what would happen if he just… invited Thor aboard. He’s sure Uhura, and Spock, are bursting with a host of questions for the man before him. Jim has questions of his own. A very many serious questions, involving how the man knows English, how his ship came to be in this quadrant, are they heading into Federation space, what are their intentions? The things a Starfleet Captain needs to know to make informed decisions. 

Despite himself, Jim also wants to know: what would it be like, to sit in the same room as this man, when just a video call has Jim feeling like this?

Thor had been asking a question about their bearings - the stars, planets and systems he’d been asking about all as unknown to their crew as the ship itself. Even through his embarrassment, and then his shock, Jim had been paying keen attention. Now, before he can answer, Thor continues,

“This matter may take some time to conclude. Would you like to come aboard, James?”

Jim very much would.