A Star Trek/Dark Shadows Crossover
by Sandy Adams

The view outside the transparent-aluminum window was breathtaking, even for an old hand like Dr. Leonard McCoy. Tauntaus III was a glowing gas giant with a ring system to rival Saturn, and enough habitable moons to support a thriving colony of gas miners. The rare elements that made Tauntaus a profitable venture banded the planet in swirls of color, like a sandpainting set in motion.

McCoy settled back on his stool, elbows on the bar, and contemplated the show with the aid of some Romulan Ale -- just to lubricate his brain cells. The cerulean liquor swirled in his glass like a miniature version of Tauntaus' Great Blue Spot. The gigantic storm had raged for centuries, with no sign of slowing down. It churned the multicolored clouds into a frenzy, even as he watched.

The ale was having a similar effect on his stomach.

He was in one of the docking rings orbiting the system, waiting not-so-patiently for the courier vessel scheduled to take him back to the Enterprise. He was due to rendezvous with his ship near Beta Iradini, now that the outbreak of Jerix Fever which had claimed his services had been brought under control.

He was eager to get back to his ship.

Fortunately, the well-equipped station bar made the wait a tad easier. Most of the regular clientele were home recuperating, or still in quarantine on board their respective ships. He pretty much had the place to himself.

Ordinarily, that would have been just fine by McCoy. But too many long hours tending the sick and dying had left him in no mood to be alone. He was damn poor company for himself right now. He'd only sit around and brood.

At that moment, he noticed another presence in the bar. The young man was seated by the viewport, a champagne flute in one hand as he gazed raptly at Tauntaus. He had been sitting so still and quiet that McCoy hadn't seen him until he sighed, and raised his free hand to brush back his light brown hair.

McCoy wandered over. "Somethin', ain't it?"

Startled, the young man looked up. "Incredible. I've never seen anything like it." There was an odd note of...relief?...in his pleasant voice.

Taking the friendly response for an invitation, the Doctor joined him at his table. After he'd introduced himself, McCoy added, "I don't believe I've seen you around. That means you're not med-staff, and you sure don't look like a miner..."

With an open grin, the younger man answered the implied question. "I've been a lot of things, but miner isn't one of them. Or doctor." Just for an instant, something infinitely sad haunted his eyes. "Of course, who knows what the future may hold? I certainly never imagined anything like that when I was growing up."

McCoy automatically followed the gesture back to the swirling maelstrom orbiting below them. "Serving on a starship, I've seen a lot myself. But it still takes my breath away. I hope I never become so jaded by all I've seen and done to stop appreciating beauty."

That haunted expression flickered across the man's handsome features again. "I know what you mean."

"So...you're not a miner," McCoy mused in a lighter tone. "You're not a doctor. And you sure as hell don't look like a spacer. What's that leave? Mine Corp Exec?"

The younger man flashed that grin again. "Not guilty!" He suddenly looked thoughtful. "Although...my family did have something to do with the original expedition to this system. Financed it, in fact."

He shrugged and gestured expansively with the delicate crystal flute. "At any rate, that's not why I'm here. I'm just a tourist, here to enjoy the view. There's nothing like this back home in Maine."

"A damn Yankee!" A grin took any possible rancor out of the words. "I'm from Earth myself...Georgia."

The two men talked for hours, oblivious to the passage of time, until the synthetic voice of the station computer announced the arrival of McCoy's courier.

As he rose to leave, a thought struck him. "I just realized, son...I didn't get your name."

The young man grinned warmly as they shook hands.

"It's Quentin," he said. "Quentin Collins."

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