"The Flight of the Buccaneer"
  Issue Number 12

Writer: Len Wein
Artist: Alberto Giolitti
Stardate: 32:46.3
Issue Date: November 1971
Cover Price: 15 cents

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Cover Blurb:
   Kirk betrays Spock and Scotty to divert the suspicions of a space pirate!


Synopsis
   [INTRODUCTORY TEXT: Captain's Log, supplemental. In this, the 23rd century, where man has learned to sail the sea of deep space, the almost-lost art of piracy has risen from the ashes. The universe is vast and the twelve Federation starships cannot guard all of the infinite spaceways. Despite our efforts, the merciless marauders continue to strike. Swiftly, violently, the fierce freebooters strip their victims of any and all valuables and then vanish back into the shadows, leaving only burned-out shells that once harboured men...]

   The Enterprise pursues a small pirate cruiser in the direction of the planet Tortuga VI. The pirate ship reaches Tortuga, and the Enterprise is forced to stop, lest she violate inter-stellar law. On the surface of the planet, four men emerge from the small ship - Kirk, Scotty, McCoy, and Spock! They are wearing classic pirate outfits, complete with earrings and bandanas. A local man questions their business on the planet. "We've brought Jovian fire jewels to trade" Kirk says, "but I think the original owner wants them back!". "Then enter, friend" the man replies. "All pirates are welcome here!".

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   As the four men wander unnoticed through the crowds on Tortuga VI, McCoy's mind drifts back to their briefing on the bridge of the Enterprise, 48 hours ago. Starfleet command had informed them that a shipment of dilithium crystals bound for the Federation had been looted by star pirates. The Federation had come into possession of one half of a map that showed the location of the stolen dilithium, and the other half was thought to be owned by "Black Jack Nova", a pirate captain hiding on the planet Tortuga. The dilithium shortage threatened the Federation, and so the Enterprise had been ordered to find the stolen dilithium using whatever means necessary, even if it meant violating the jurisdiction of Tortuga. Thus, Kirk and the others had infiltrated the planet by pretending to be pirates, while the Enterprise chased their ship to add authenticity to their story.

   As the men walk by a pub, they hear a man shouting in praise of Black Jack Nova. They enter and find Black Jack inside, surrounded by a group of his henchmen. Spock tries to figure out a way to get an introduction to the pirate. "If that's all that's troublin' ye, Mr. Spock" Scotty says, "watch me, ye'll se how it's done!". The Engineer walks up to Black Jack's head henchman and says "Quit yer hammerin ye drunken fool! Black Jack Nova couldn't hold a candle to my cap'n in the middle of an Altarian fog!". The Enterprise men are quickly caught up in a raging fist fight! Soon, they are the only ones left standing, along with Black Jack Nova , who stayed out of the fight. Nova is impressed with Kirk and his group, and asks them how they came to be on Tortuga.

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   Kirk shows Nova his half of the map to the dilithium crystals, telling him that he took it from the body of a man he had found on Pollux IV. He asks Nova if he will be willing to share his half of the map, so that they can split the treasure they find. Black Jack agrees, and he and the Enterprise men board his private shuttle craft. (complete with skull and crossbones painted on the wings!)

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He takes them to his pirate ship, which is waiting nearby. "The good ship Windjammer" Nova says as they approach, "Floatin' feather-light on the soft, sweet stellar winds!". Once on board the ship, crewman Kreel shows them to their quarters while Black Jack leaves to get the ship underway. "It ain't the Venusian Waldorf" Kreel tells them, "but it's a clean place to sleep. Not that ye'll be doin' much sleepin' on this ship!". "Speak for yourself, matey" Scotty retorts. "We're not under your cap'n's orders!".

   Later, Kirk discovers crewman Kreel eavesdropping on Spock and Scotty, as they discuss their real purpose for being on the pirate ship. To try and save the mission, he goes to Black Jack Nova before Kreel can, and accuses Spock and Scotty of being Federation spies. Nova orders them to "walk the plank" out of his pirate ship, wearing space suits. "My way you'll float helplessly through space" he says, "counting every second until your oxygen runs out and you die gasping , beggin for one last breath of air!".

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"You can't let them go through with this!" McCoy whispers to Kirk. "You've got to stop them!". "Bones, we can't sacrifice the entire Federation for the lives of two men" Kirk replies, "even if those men are our friends! There's nothing we can do!". Spock and Scotty are pushed helplessly out into space!

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   Nova orders his pirate ship to leave the area in order to pick up the stolen dilithium crystals. As soon as it has gone, the Enterprise arrives and beams Spock and Scotty aboard. Knowing there might be a danger, Captain Kirk had ordered the ship to stay close behind the pirates, using a captured Romulan cloaking device to avoid detection. Back on the bridge, Spock orders the ship to set course for Taos IV, where they had learned from the pirate map that the dilithium was hidden.

   When the Enterprise arrives at Taos IV, Spock and Scotty beam down to the surface with a security team. Before they leave, Spock orders Mr. Sulu to take the ship far away from the area, so that Captain Nova and his crew will not be scared away. "We shall allow them to find the dilithium" Spock tells Scotty on the planet, "and then we shall confiscate it, by force if necessary!". At that moment, an old man steps out from behind a rock, surprising the landing party. "If there's any force gonna be used around here" the man says, "I'll the usin'!". "Fascinating" Spock says. "This planet is not supposed to be inhabited!". "Ain't nothing fascinatin' about it, fella" the old man replies. "This planet ain't inhabited, lessen you count me, an' I don't want to be here! My name's Ben Cannon. I've been space wrecked on this rotten ball of mud for nigh onto a year now! I was beginin' to think that nobody'd ever pass this way!". Just then, Scotty sees vapor trails in the atmosphere from a pirate shuttle craft, and the party quickly sets out to follow the pirates to the hidden dilithium.

   After the pirate shuttle lands, Kirk gives Nova his half of the map to the dilithium. They quickly locate the spot indicated by the map, and Nova's men begin digging. They find nothing! Nova is enraged, and prepares to kill Kirk and McCoy. Spock and the others arrive in the nick of time, and knock the weapon from Nova's hand with phasers set on stun. Nova manages to flee, and Kirk quickly follows, shouting back for Spock to have the Enterprise take over the Windjammer before it can find out what has happened.

   As Kirk searches in the forest for Nova, the pirate leaps on him from the branches of a tree. The two duel with "electron cutlasses". "I'm no novice with the blade, Nova" Kirk tells him. "I was on the academy fencing team!". Nova begins losing the sword battle, but is able to head-butt Kirk and get away to his shuttle. As he lifts off, Kirk throws his electron cutlass at the pirate as a desperate last measure. The sword hits one of the ship's generator tubes, and the shuttle crashes to the ground - killing Black Jack Nova.

   Spock leads Kirk to the missing dilithium in a cave nearby, and tells him that the castaway Ben Cannon was the former captain of the Windjammer! "Ahh, Matey" Cannon says, "I guess the jig is up, hey? Well, ye can't blame a mate fer tryin'! After me old crew took the map and left me here to die, I dug up the crystals and brought 'em here!".

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The Enterprise calls down and informs them that the pirate ship Windjammer has been captured. "Then that ends it" says Kirk. "We've done all we set out to do. The Federation is saved! Lets go home". Later, on board the Enterprise, Spock and McCoy discuss the incident. "Imagine" McCoy says, "pirates in the 23rd century! Who ever would have believed it?". "Any student of your Earth history, Doctor" Spock replies. "Your race is famous for its violent tendencies!".

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(Summary by Mark Lookabaugh)

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