Commander Uhura is effecting repairs on our sabotaged comm system with all the speed her department can muster.
I am still puzzled by the behavior of Admiral Morrow during my last transmission, and thus I have not advised Starfleet of our situation with Lieutenants Saavik and Metcalfe. If our comm system is not repaired in time for me to reach Excelsior and head off my two missing officers, I may find myself with no other choice than to disobey the Admiral’s order that I avoid the Time Planet. Should this become necessary, I take full responsibility for the actions of this ship and its crew and for the consequences thereof.
“Is it ready?” Kirk asked as Uhura approached his chair.
She nodded. “Assuming there aren’t any more surprises waiting for us inside the system somewhere.”
Kirk smiled, even he was beginning to appreciate the humor of the situation.
“They’re tricky, aren’t they?”
“Look who they learned it from,” she said with a meaningful glance.
Kirk tried to look innocent. “Commander, are you suggesting that Starfleet Academy encourages mutiny and thievery among its cadets?”
“I wasn’t ‘suggesting’ anything, Admiral. I know damn well where they learned it.”
She laughed silently at him and added, “I have the Excelsior, sir. Hailing frequencies open.”
Kirk considered giving her a swat as she walked away, but thought the better of it. The majority of the bridge crew—now, especially, was new. And the senior officers shouldn’t display behavior that was too insubordinate just yet.
Without needing to be asked, Uhura transferred her channel to Excelsior onscreen. The spacious bridge of the other ship took shape, with Hikaru Sulu in the center of the picture—seated in the command chair. He looked quite comfortable there. As the image flashed completely into view, he smiled at Kirk. “Hello, Admiral. I’ve been meaning to call, but we couldn’t raise you.” He looked puzzled. “Has something been wrong?”
Kirk heard a quiet groan from behind him and looked to Uhura. She was shaking her head in disgust. “I didn’t check the reception circuits,” she said pitifully.
That probably meant there was another jamming device. Someone had done his job well. “We’ve been experiencing some difficulty,” Kirk explained. “Are Saavik and Terry still aboard?” he asked, not wanting to waste time.
“No, Admiral,” Hikaru responded, again puzzled. “We left them on the Time Planet as per your order.”
“Damn!” Kirk said under his breath.
Sulu heard it and asked, “What’s wrong?”
Kirk sighed. “I didn’t give that order, Hikaru. Terry… forged it.”
Shock and horror turned Hikaru’s face stark white. “Terry?” he asked numbly. He didn’t believe it, Kirk could tell. Terry Metcalfe had been his protege aboard his first command. He didn’t want to believe it. “Jim, are you… are you sure?”
“I’m sure Hikaru, and I’m sorry.”
“But he wouldn’t,” Sulu protested. “He’d never betray you—or the fleet. Why would he…?” he trailed off in confusion. “I don’t believe it.”
“I don’t quite believe it myself,” Kirk admitted. “There has to be an explanation, and I’ll find it. Do you know what they were doing on the Time Planet?”
Sulu shook his head. “Not a thing. Terry told me it was top secret.”
“And you had no reason to doubt him,” Kirk said sympathetically.
“No, Sir,” he agreed, ashamed. He sighed and straightened in his seat. “Should I return to the Time Planet? We could be there in—”
“That’s quite all right, Captain,” Kirk cut him off. “I’ll attend to it myself.”
“Yes, of course,” Hikaru agreed, disappointed. “Good luck.”
. “Thank you, Captain. Enterprise. out.” Kirk motioned for Uhura to cut the channel. She had already done so, and was now on her knees in front of the comm station, removing the maintenance plate as she cursed heavily in Swahili.
* * *
Two hours later, Uhura was standing by his side, displaying an object almost identical to the first jammer thay had found.
“That was on the receiving unit?” Jim asked.
“I can’t believe I overlooked the possibility,” she said, shaking her head. “If I had found this earlier, Hikaru might have gotten in touch with us in time.”
Jim nodded. “He said he’d tried. That means he was suspicious too. Unfortunately, he wasn’t suspicious enough to risk disobeying what he thought were my orders.”
“I’m surprised,” Uhura said, thinking out loud, “that they didn’t sabotage our Fleet channels as well.”
“No,” he replied bitterly, “no, they needed those. It was part of their plan.”
Uhura did not miss the bitterness in his voice. “Their plan, sir?”
He looked at her for a long moment. She could be the one. But she seemed genuinely concerned; and he couldn’t see Uhura, after their long years of friendship and service together, betraying him. Of course, he couldn’t see Scotty or Chekov doing it either, and he’d ruled out Angela. Could he discuss this with any of them? Might as well, he concluded. I can’t keep quiet forever.
“I hadn’t told anyone,” he said quietly, “But when I asked for permission to go to the Guardian, Morrow refused.”
Uhura was shocked, whether at the refusal or Kirk’s deliberate violation of it, he didn’t know. “Refused? Why?”
Kirk shook his head. “I didn’t understand at first, but later it became apparent that someone had fed Harry a story about my… erratic behavior, I suppose. He refused because he thought I was planning to use the Guardian for.. improper purposes.”
It was hardly a thorough explanation, but she accepted it.
“And you decided to go anyway?” Uhura asked, raising her eyebrows. “You’re taking a big chance.”
He nodded soberly. “If we don’t stop Saavik and Metcalfe, we could be taking a bigger one. Morrow didn’t even believe they had gone to the Guardian.”
“But who fed him this story?”
He shrugged. “Probably the same person who jammed the comm system. I just can’t figure out—”
Uhura drew in a sharp breath. A silent, “Oh my God,” escaped her lips.
“I… ” she stammered.
“Uhura,” Jim pressed. “What is it?”
She shut her eyes tightly and tried to avoid his gaze. Whatever she had suddenly thought of, she didn’t want to say it.
“Commander, if you know something relevant to our mission—”
She nodded quickly. “I know, sir,” she said, and Kirk could hear a sob in her voice. When she looked up, however, her face was composed, as a first officer’s should be. “Ensign M’saar asked me the other day why—I didn’t think anything of it at the time, but—” she stopped and collected herself again. “She was curious as to why someone would be making a private call to Admiral Morrow.”
“A private—?” Kirk sputtered. “Who?”
Uhura looked at the floor and barely whispered, “Leonard… Dr. McCoy.”
Jim’s jaw dropped in shock. He simply didn’t believe it. Why? “Bones?” he demanded, but Uhura couldn’t bring herself to answer. She ran to the turbo lift and off the bridge.
Bones! How could you? Why? Kirk could not see beyond the rage and pain that burned in his mind. In his entire life, he had never felt so betrayed. Uhura, Chekov, Scotty… all his other friends he had expected, but Bones? He wouldn’t have the technical skill…
Jim banished the false hope. He could have found someone who did.
Furious, he stepped toward the turbo lift. A voice interrupted his angry thoughts—Chekov’s voice. “Edmiral?”
He turned, trying to keep his temper in check. “Yes?”
“Vhere will you be, sair?”
Tightening his jaw, he prctically spat the word, “Sickbay.” As he turned again to the turbo lift, he added without looking back, “You have the con, Mr. Chekov.”
* * *
Before Bones could ask any questions, Kirk stalked in his office door and demanded, “All right, Bones, I want answers. What the hell do you think you’re doing?”
Without even trying to evade the question or make an excuse, McCoy asked calmly, “So you found out?”
Startled, Jim lowered his voice and said icily, “Yes. I found out.”
McCoy nodded. “Well, I half expected it,” he said, turning slowly in his chair. “Who told you?”
Jim suppressed a very strong impulse to take a swing at the doctor. How could he be so calm? “Does it really matter how I found out?” he asked bitterly. “I want to know why you did it! Why did you feed Morrow that pack of lies about me? Why did you go to the Guardian with Saavik? Who did you get to install the jammers in the comm system?” He stopped, blind with rage and confusion, fighting off the tears that threatened to come to his eyes. “Bones,” he asked pleadingly, “why did you betray me?”
McCoy stood and came around the desk to face Jim. “It wasn’t betrayal, Jim,” he said gently. “What I did had to be done. I’m sorry you’re the one who’s suffering, but believe me—”
“I’m not the only one who’s going to be suffering, Doctor, believe me.,” he said savagely. “When I do get my hands on Saavik and Metcalfe—and I will—they’re finished, they’ll be tried for mutiny. Along,” he said with as much sheer anger as he could, trying to mask his pain that his oldest and dearest friend—living friend, that is—had betrayed him. “Along with whoever is found to have assisted them.
“Morale has already gone straight to hell. I’ve lost two of the finest officers aboard, and now I’m going to be forced to eliminate others. Whatever the hell this plan of yours is, it’s cost us the best damn ship in the fleet.” He put his face next to McCoy’s and said, “I won’t leave this room until I know what it was you found so important!”
McCoy stared at the floor, shaking his head. “I can’t tell you that, Jim,” he said quietly.
“What the hell do you mean you can’t tell me? You’ll have to tell the trial board, anyway!” He immediately regretted saying that. He hadn’t come here to make threats… or had he? He’d been too angry to know why he’d come. Now he was forcing himself to think straight. McCoy was his friend, and he wouldn’t do something like this without a damn good reason. All right, he would take another approach. He would stop acting like a Fleet Admiral and try to act like an old friend.
“Bones,” he said stiffly, forcing gentleness into his voice. He reached slowly out and took his friend’s shoulder, gripping it tightly. Allowing sentiment to control him, he felt the tears coming again. He blinked them back. “Bones, why? I know you must have a reason. You can’t convince me you’d do something like this out of spite. What is it? Why can’t you tell me?”
McCoy looked up. “I just can’t, Jim. If I could—”
“Bones, if there’s a problem, let me help! I’ll do anything I can to—”
“There’s nothing you can do, Jim,” Bones replied miserably. “This whole campaign has been deliberately engineered to keep you from finding out. You can’t know.” He shut his eyes and added, “I’m sorry.”
“Bones, I have to know!”
McCoy turned away, his fists clenched. When he spoke at last, his voice was rough. “Jim, please. Just stop asking questions. It’s for the best. Just… just leave me alone… please.”
Jim Kirk could tell the something was very wrong with his friend, but he couldn’t get Bones to tell, and he was growing tired of trying. If McCoy didn’t want to tell his best friend, then the hell with him. Kirk didn’t have any idea what could make him do a thing like this, and he didn’t really care anymore. Anger returned to take him over.
“As soon as we’ve found Saavik and Metcalfe, we’ll be returning to Earth. As of that moment, you will no longer be this ship’s surgeon. Until then, Dr. McCoy, stay the hell out of my sight!” McCoy made no attempt at response. Kirk, too upset to do anything else, returned to his quarters.
* * *
Leonard McCoy stood by his desk, trying to compose himself. He had known that, if Kirk found out, a confrontation would not be easy for either of them; but he hadn’t expected to feel so drained. He hadn’t known how tempted he would be to tell Kirk everything.
He knew that Jim considered it a hostile rejection of his friendship when he asked to be left alone. In truth, he had been on the verge of answering all his friend’s questions; and that was the one thing he could not do. As a doctor, he knew damn well that the times you felt this bad were the worst times to have a drink, but whenever he felt like this, he went straight to the cabinet for bourbon.
As he turned to go to it, he was startled to see Christine standing behind him. How long had she been there? Her expression was half angry, half confused. She had been there long enough to hear…
“Hello, Christine,” he said, clearing his throat as he discovered that his voice was too rough to be heard.
For a moment, Chris did not respond, looking at him as if to find answers in his face. Then she said softly, “You didn’t tell me.”
McCoy didn’t know if it was a question or an accusation. Probably both, he decided.
“I… I couldn’t.”
“Why is she doing it, Leonard?” Chris asked desperately. “What’s driving Saavik to do these things?”
Christine was really upset. What had been on that tape? Vulcans had a horrible tendency to tell the truth. “She has to do them,” he said gently. “If she had a choice—”
“You’re not going to tell me either, are you?”
McCoy had no choice but to tell the truth. “No, I’m not. I can’t.”
“I should have known,” she said sadly. “I guess I did.” She stopped, adjusting a sloppy stack of reports on his desk nervously. “Did you leave the tape on my desk?”
He nodded. “Saavik asked me to.” Her expression didn’t change any. She looked miserable. “Are you all right, Chris?”
She didn’t seem to notice his question. She spoke distantly, as if he weren’t really there. “Saavik said she hoped I could forgive her.”
“She meant it,” he assured her.
Again, she took no notice. “She said, ‘if we don’t see each other again… ‘ Dammit, Leonard! What does that mean? Where is she going?”
“Even I don’t know the answer to that, Chris,” he said apologetically, silently cursing that Vulcan honesty as he spoke.
She shook her head. “No, of course you don’t.” Her voice, too, was unsteady, and McCoy saw that she was beginning to cry. He moved forward to put his arms around her. She immediately returned the embrace. “Leonard,” she said quietly against his shoulder, “could you please just tell me that I haven’t lost her?”
McCoy felt his own eyes tearing. He couldn’t tell her that, either.
* * *
Uhura cursed herself for running from the bridge that way, without saying where she would be. Jim must surely have thought she has lost complete control of herself. In a way, perhaps, she had failed to control herself as an officer should. However, it was not anger or inability to face the captain that had brought her here, it was sudden realization—the sudden realization that only one person could be responsible for those jammers.
McCoy, of course, did not have the capability to build or install them. He would have had to find someone to do it for him. Add to that Scotty’s behavior when she had tried to talk to him about it earlier… and who else would the Doctor go to? He and Scotty were close friends. He could have hoped to explain to no one else a scheme as wild as this one must be.
But what, she wondered, as she approached the engineering section, was she going to do next? Would she just go in and place Scotty under arrest? Would she demand an explanation—surely, he had one?
No, whatever she did, she had to remember what Pavel had said. She had to remember that Scotty was her friend and deserved, if nothing else, a sympathetic ear to listen to his reasons. She would ask him calmly why he had done this, and, after she had considered all he had told her, she would make her report to the captain.
As she entered the main engineering section, the ensign on duty at the door stood, snapping to attention. He was a trifle surprised to see her, the first officer wasn’t down here often. “Where’s Mr. Scott?” she asked the young man.
“In his office, Commander,” was his reply. The ensign seemed… in awe of her? Was that the response she evoked from young men these days? She had always been treated with due respect, of course, but she wasn’t used to anybody seeing her as just an officer.
She didn’t like the feeling.
Swallowing hard, she pressed the door buzzer to Scotty’s office. On his invitation, she walked casually in, trying to control the tightening muscles in her stomach.
Scotty looked up with one eye from his computer display. “What can I do for you, lass?” he asked.
“Jim found out who’s responsible,” she said with no inflection to her voice.
His face sank. He made no deliberate attempt to pretend innocence, but he said nothing.
“Scotty,” she said gently, “I know Leonard is partially responsible—Jim’s gone to his office already—but he couldn’t have planted those jammers.”
“No,” he agreed quietly.
“Scotty—” she began.
He interrupted, “I did it, Uhura.”
Of course, she knew that already, but hearing it from his lips still shook her.
She went around the desk and sat on its edge, facing him. “Why?” she asked. “Please, Scotty, I don’t understand. Why are you doing this—any of you?”
“Because o’ Jim, lass.”
“What did he do?”
“It’s nae wha’ he did. It’s what we’ve got t’do f’r him.”
Had his statement not been so solemn, it would have been laughable, but solemn it was. “Do for him? Do you know what this will do to him when he finds out? He already knows—”
“Too much,” Scotty finished softly. “Don’t tell him anymore.”
“I have to!” she insisted.
“No, ye don’t.” Scotty reached out and took her by the shoulders. “Trust me, Uhura. Just f’r a day or two. After thot, if ye think ye’ve got to tell Jim, go ahead.”
Uhura turned it over in her mind. Not tell Jim? Make herself a part of the plan? What was the plan? It must have some merit for Scotty and McCoy to be involved. As a first officer, it was her duty to find out… her job…
‘I’m not sure I like your job or what it’s doing to you.’
“Scotty, I don’t know… “
“We’ve been friends for a long time, lass,” he reminded her. She felt herself weakening. “Can’t ye trust me f’r just a wee bit longer? I wouldna’ do enathin’ t’hurt Jim. “
“I believe you,” she said slowly, “but—”
He squeezed her shoulders and smiled. “Then dinna say enathin’. Please?”
This, of course, was the kind of problem a first officer—or anyone in authority—was confronted with all the time: Follow your duty or you heart. Her duty, of course, told her to report Scotty to Kirk immediately. And her heart? Scotty was her friend, but so was Jim. Which one did she betray? Scotty said this was for Jim’s good. Was he lying?
No, of course he wasn’t. But was he right? Would this help Jim?
Spock would have used logic, and Spock would have needed more information to make a decision. But she obviously wasn’t going to get any more information, and logic obviously wasn’t going to work. Was she a fool to believe Scotty? Or would she be a hard-hearted bitch to report him?
Well, it was only two days. What could happen in two days? “All right, Scotty. I’ll wait.”
* * *
It was less than a day later that the Enterprise arrived at the Time Planet for its second visit in as many months. Kirk had hardly left his quarters in that time, leaving Chekov and Uhura to tend to the bridge. He, in the meantime, had slept, praying that, when he woke, all of what had happened would be nothing but a dream. .
But it hadn’t been. He had been brought rudely back to unpleasant reality by the buzzing of the intercom. They had arrived. Now he was in the transporter room with Chekov and Uhura, preparing to beam down. Really, he should be sending down a security force; but he wanted to handle this himself. And he wanted to take along the two officers he could still trust. That was assuming, of course, that he could still trust anyone.
Securing his phaser to his belt, he mounted the platform. “Are we ready?” he asked his two companions. They both nodded quietly. Kirk hadn’t discussed the situation with McCoy with anyone, but Uhura had obviously told Pavel. Neither one of them felt any more like talking than he did.
As Kirk turned to the console to give Chief Rand the order to energize, the transporter room doors snapped open. Behind them was McCoy. He was fully outfitted for a landing party in his burgundy uniform coat, carrying his tricorder and medi-kit. Chekov and Uhura traded shocked glances as Kirk met McCoy’s eyes silently.
“Doctor,” he said coldly, “you were not ordered to report here.”
McCoy came forward and stepped onto the platform without a word. Once beside Kirk, he spoke. “Ship’s Surgeon is standard landing party complement, sir. Surely you hadn’t forgotten that?”
The words bit into Kirk. Of course he knew that, but he hadn’t thought McCoy would have the nerve to show up here! Why had he come? Was this part of his plan too? “This is not an exploratory mission,” he replied simply.
“In point of fact, Sir,” McCoy said acidically, “this isn’t a mission at all. The Enterprise wasn’t given orders to come here.”
Kirk winced. Of course, they all knew this was a direct violation of orders, but he hadn’t wanted to think about it.
His lack of verbal response was enough answer for McCoy. “Then why don’t we call it exploratory and take standard complement? That’s assuming, of course, that I’m still Ship’s Surgeon, Admiral?”
“You know the answer to that question, Doctor. All right, come along. We might as well have all the conspirators together.” He waved an angry hand at the console, and the landing party beamed out.
* * *
As he materialized in the corridor on deck five, Terry realized this would probably be the last time he would ever see the Enterprise. This, after all, was the last of the three missions. He was still uncertain as to how Spock and Saavik had known what to do, but Spock had explained to him that they would now return to the ship before its departure from Genesis. Once there, they would have to find McCoy and restore Spock’s katra to him. Somehow, it had been removed.
Once they had completed this last mission, time would be able to take its normal course: Morrow would decommission the Enterprise and declare Genesis off limits; David Marcus would accompany Saavik to Genesis where he would meet his death; and, lastly, McCoy would be driven to go to Vulcan and implant Spock’s katra in his waiting body.
It was all quite beyond belief, but it was impossible to refute. Once Spock and Saavik had explained it to him—slowly—Terry had discovered that it all made incredible sense. Still, one thing troubled him; who or what had caused the changes in history to come about in the first place?
He spotted a crewman coming his way and realized that he had no time left to ponder unanswered questions. At this moment, the funeral for Spock would be underway in the torpedo bay. All of the crew not involved in vital assignments would be attending. If one was wandering the halls, it probably meant the funeral was over.
If many others came this way, he would have to find some place to hide himself.
He couldn’t afford to take the chance of being seen by anyone on board who knew him. Only McCoy would see him. Down the corridor was the emergency ladder which ran between decks. He went to it and climbed down until he was invisible to passersby on this deck or the one below—he almost laughed as he imagined some unsuspecting cadet leaving a solemn funeral to discover a pair of disjointed legs hanging in midair.
He watched an endless parade of officers and cadets pass his lookout point. Finally, there came faces he recognized. Hikaru, accompanied by Uhura and Chekov, came by as the number of mourners began to thin out. The three of them moved slowly, one occasionally saying something to the others in quiet tones; but, for the most part, they were silent.
Fortunately McCoy was not with them. He would have to get McCoy alone—even if it meant breaking into his quarters. Briefly, as the corridor emptied out, he wondered where Kirk was. Perhaps he had remained after the others or gone to his quarters earlier. As he considered this, a tall, blonde young man in civilian clothes came by. Terry shrank even farther down into the alcove as he realized that this was David Marcus.
He moved by quickly, apparently determined to get somewhere soon.
As David disappeared around the bend of the corridor, Terry caught his breath. McCoy was coming now. He scanned in both directions to make sure he wouldn’t be seen, and quietly pulled himself back up onto the deck. As the Doctor, shoulders slouched and head hung, approached the ladder alcove, Terry stepped out in front of him, blocking his path.
McCoy looked up, startled by this object in his way. “Excuse me, son,” he said quietly. “I’m in a hurry.”
“I’m sorry to disturb you, Doctor, but there’s an emergency which requires your immediate attention.”
McCoy shook his head. “Dr. Chapel’s on call right now, Lieutenant. Call her in sickbay.” As he started to go, he halted, looking Terry over. “Don’t I know you?” he asked.
Terry tried not to look alarmed. “I’m sure you’ve seen me around, Doctor. Now please. It can’t wait for Dr. Chapel—”
McCoy snapped his fingers. “You’re Terry Metcalfe! I was on your cadet cruise.”
His satisfaction with placing Terry’s face quickly disappeared, however, to be replaced with a frown. “But you’re not supposed to be here!”
“That’s not important, Doctor,” Terry said urgently. “You must come with me immediately.”
“All right,” McCoy agreed wearily. “Is someone injured?”
“You might put it that way, sir,” he said mysteriously and motioned for the Doctor to follow him. He walked the several meters to Spock’s quarters, McCoy silently in tow.
When he stopped there, McCoy stared at him in disbelief. “Here?” he demanded. “Lt. Metcalfe, if this is some kind of joke—”
“It’s no joke,” Terry assured him. “Please go inside.”
“But this is Spock’s cabin! It’s empty!” McCoy protested.
“No,” Terry said gently, “there’s someone in there who needs to see you very badly. Please, Doctor, can it hurt to look?”
“I suppose not, McCoy admitted. He called his name to the computer and it obediently opened the door for him. With one last threatening look in Terry’s direction, he went into the darkened room. Terry waited for a moment and allowed the door to close. Now it was in Spock’s hands.
He had accomplished his purpose here, since no one would enter Spock’s quarters this soon after his death. He was now free to complete his own personal part of this mission. He felt the tricorder pocket at his hip. The book was still there. He headed down the corridor toward the junior officers’ quarters.
He stopped at Saavik’s door, uncertain. He wasn’t sure where she would be right now. She had said she had been on the bridge following the funeral, but mightn’t she have stopped off at her quarters for a few minutes first? He pressed the door buzzer, hoping not to hear an answer from within.
There was none.
Giving the computer his name and rank as a newly assigned officer, he prayed that it had been fed the information on its new assignments before leaving on this cadet cruise. He sighed in relief as the door opened in response to his command.
Saavik’s quarters were quite barren. Of course, she had really had little chance to use them on this mission. He knew that, had she lived in them for a full week, they would be an ungodly mess right now. But she had been quite busy of late in this time period.
Going to her bedside shelf, he pulled out the book. It was nearly three-hundred years old, paperback, yet still intact. It had been a present from his grandfather when he left for the Academy. Of all the possessions he had carried with him to Phoenix and Enterprise, it was his most prized.
From Saavik’s desk, he picked up a pen and wrote quickly on the inside front cover. He ran his fingers over the cracked spine for a few moments, admiring the cover with its fading artwork and stamped lettering. He hoped it would mean as much to Saavik as it always had to him.
With a sigh, he tossed the book on her shelf and left the room.
* * *
McCoy did not bother yet to turn the lights on. Spock wondered if the Doctor somehow sensed his presence in the darkness. He rose quietly from his meditation block, where he had been preparing himself for this contact. Ordinarily, the katra was implanted only when the death of the body was imminent. It took considerable will for a Vulcan healthy in both mind and body, and under no immediate threat of death, to place the essence of his mind in another.
He was fully prepared now. There was no need for further delay. “Doctor?” he called.
The dark figure by the door froze but did not answer. “Doctor?” he repeated. “Leonard, it is illogical not to answer.”
The figure turned to where it perceived the voice to be coming from. “And it’s goddamn crazy to talk to ghosts!”
Yes, of course, the classical McCoy bravado: gruff, over-emotional, human. Spock attempted to reason with him using fact and logic. “I am not a ghost. I am substantial.”
“Would you mind telling me how that’s possible?” demanded McCoy, waving his arms.
“I cannot, Doctor,” he said apologetically. “But you must cooperate with me. It is essential.”
McCoy’s head cocked. “Cooperate?”
“Yes. You see,” he explained, “I am not dead. That is, I will not be if you consent to help me.”
“Help you how?”
Good. The Doctor’s natural human curiosity was replacing his fear and distrust. Spock could deal with him now. “In the engine room, before I entered the compartment—”
“You knocked me out, you pointed-eared bastard!”
Spock allowed himself the slightest of smiles. He derived an illogical enjoyment from provoking McCoy’s erratic temper. “I am pleased that you remember. I also placed something in your mind, something that has been removed. I must replace it.”
‘”Something?”’ McCoy asked emphasizing the word. “That’s not a very technical term coming from you.”
“The technical term—if you wish to call it that—is ‘katra.'”
As Spock expected, that knowledge was of little benefit to McCoy. “And what is it?” he asked.
“My consciousness,” Spock replied, “my memories—my soul, if you will.”
“You put that in me?”
“I had little choice at the time.”
He saw McCoy’s silhouetted head shake in exasperation. “I don’t believe this.”
“You are free not to,” Spock told him, “but will you trust me?”
“I never have before!”
As usual, Spock found himself growing a bit tired of McCoy’s bickering. He had decided long ago that the Doctor took the same illogical pleasure in trying to provoke him as he did in trying to provoke the doctor. Sometimes he came very close to succeeding. “Please, Doctor. There is little time.”
“Little time for what?” McCoy demanded.
“I cannot spend an excess amount of time in this period of history. The longer I stay, the greater the possibility that I will in some way interfere with the proper course of time.”
“You’re… from the future?”
“Yes, Doctor. I came through the Guardian.”
“The Guardian?” McCoy’s voice was edged with grudging respect. “Damn, Spock, how did you manage to work that? The Guardian’s off limits.”
“That is not important, Doctor. I am here. The katra has been taken from your mind in an attempt to change the future. I will put it back.”
“Who’s trying to change the future?”
“That is irrelevant. Their attempts will prevent my ability to return to functional existence. Is this not reason enough to help me?”
There was a pause, then McCoy said, “I’m thinking.”
“Really, Doctor,” Spock said in disgust. He was well aware of the fact that McCoy, as surgeon, was bound to save his life by oath. He knew also that McCoy’s human ties of friendship were every bit as strong as those of a Vulcan.
“All right,” McCoy said finally. “Put this kahhtrra—”
“Katra,” McCoy said with some difficulty, “back in my head, and then I can go back to my quarters and go to sleep and pretend that it was all a dream. It probably is anyway,” he grumbled as an afterthought.
“If you Wish,” Spock offered, “I will see to it that you remember it that way.”
“All right,” he agreed, taking a few steps forward, “what do you want me to do?”
“Sit down,” Spock told him.
The implanting was a brief process, and when Spock had finished, seeing to it that the events of tonight would be remembered only as a fragment of a dream, he helped McCoy to stand and led him to the door. He would walk back to his quarters now, go to sleep, and forget.
And soon, he would remember.
When McCoy had gone, Lt. Metcalfe entered the darkened room. “Are we ready?” he asked.
Spock began to answer his former student’s somewhat unnecessary question, but he had not yet produced the words when the tingling sensation of the Guardian came over his body. Soon, they were experiencing what seemed to be an upward movement through time at a high rate of speed.
It was, Spock thought, as though the body had acquired a great deal of kinetic energy quite suddenly and had made a great leap into the future. At the end of the leap was the gateway of the Guardian of Forever. This was an oddly poetic, non- technical way of thinking of the process, but Spock’s years among humans had taught him to think non-technically on occasion. Spock took the few steps forward that would bring him out of the Guardian’s time field and halted in his tracks.
A small collection of golden sparkles was just fading away in front of the arch of the Guardian. As the bright, intense light of the transporter beam died, Spock found himself face to face with Jim Kirk.
“Kirk considered giving her a swat.” From one perspective, I suppose one might say that this shows that this was a pre-“#MeToo” story. But I think it more shows that Kirk and Uhura are old friends, comrades. That Enterprise crew members swatted each other on the ass in a friendly manner was demonstrated. As was that 20th Century standards of chivalry dictated that such behavior not occur between the sexes. But time had passed, mores might have eased, and, again, these are two old friends.
That he felt the impulse when Uhura said “Hailing frequencies open” also is an in-joke in response to how much Nichelle Nichols hated saying that line. I was acknowledging that Uhura had grown beyond her role as a telephone operator in space. Too bad the films didn’t do more to prove this.
“insubordinate” was the wrong word here. “Fraternal” or “improper” would have been better. “Freewheeling?”
Sulu in command of the Excelsior well-pre-ST6 was something else fans had been led to expect, but casual viewers weren’t prepared for until it happened.
Return to Earth? They would have held a court-martial in space, probably with Scotty and Sulu as the other judges.
What did I intend Chris Chapel’s attachment to Saavik to be? Something akin, I’m sure, to what Storm felt for Kitty Pride in the X-Men. Not a sexual thing, but a mother-daughter attachment, with Chapel realizing that Saavik was the closest she was going to get to having a child by Spock.
Interesting that I had Janice Rand on the ship (even though she was seen in STIII as not being assigned to the Enterprise). but I gave her nothing to do. Too many characters, I guess.
“Acidically” is not a word!