Saavik rearranged Spock’s leg on the bed and leaned in for a kiss while her hand wandered. Spock moaned softly against her lips.
“Saavik, that is not my leg,” he said.
The delight of her laughter made the effort it took to resist her touch worthwhile. She continued to kiss him tenderly and left her hand where it was.
“Saavik...” he said again, more urgently.
McCoy loudly cleared his throat as he entered the room with the captain.
“That is not the therapy I had in mind,” he scolded.
Saavik leapt away in embarrassment, averting her eyes from his stern gaze. He turned to Spock.
“If it’s any consolation,” he said, “her pheromones should settle down in a month or so.”
“I shall look forward to that development,” Spock smiled wearily.
Kirk shook his head. “Most humans would be envious of your situation,” he said with a wink.
“Most humans do not understand the intensity of Vulcan emotions,” Spock answered, though he looked at McCoy when he spoke.
“Yeah, well...” McCoy said as he rubbed at his face self consciously, “I guess it’s time to get you out of that bed if you think you’re ready.”
“Most ready,” Spock said as he allowed Kirk and McCoy to help swing his legs over the side of the bed and position themselves on either side of him for support. Slowly he eased weight on to his feet and pulled himself up.
He stood for only a moment before his legs sunk from under him. Kirk and McCoy caught and held him before he fell.
“You seem to have gained some weight, Spock,” Kirk grimaced under the strain of supporting the larger man.
“Vulcans do have denser bones, Captain,” Spock replied haughtily as he tried to regain his balance.
“Sure, it’s your bones,” Kirk choked as he helped Spock to stand again. The Vulcan swayed a little but remained upright with their hands on his arms.
“Well, now,” McCoy said brightly, “that wasn’t so bad.”
Kirk opened his eyes wide and Spock raised both eyebrows.
“Well we didn’t drop him!” the doctor said defensively.
“I am gratified that you did not,” Spock said. “However, if you could help me back to the bed...”
“That’s enough for now anyway,” McCoy said as they helped him to sit on the bed. “Tomorrow we can move you to rehab and get you started on the equipment there. I’m sure it’s more stable than either of us!”
He turned to Saavik. “And you, young lady,” he fussed. “The quicker he walks, the quicker you can have him back. So keep to the program, ok?”
“Yes, Doctor,” she replied meekly, but her eyes sparkled.
“And Spock?” he continued. “Please shave that beard. It’s giving me nightmares!”
Sarek stared at the man whose confused and rambling explanation attempted to justify no communication with the moon colonies. The being was some type of bureaucrat assistant whose sole purpose was to keep visitors away from the person he served. Sarek could not fault the man for doing the job assigned to him, but he could not also deny his own assignment. Negotiations required all the negotiators after all.
“The individuals I seek were only recently here on Derilia at your government’s behest,” he said evenly. “I spoke with them freely here. Why then is long distance communication prohibited?”
The man made a sudden excuse to be elsewhere, but didn’t disguise the haste of his departure. Sarek closed his eyes briefly and sighed. The capacity for illogic in the galaxy sometimes appeared limitless. He decided to leave the issue of communication for another time and turned to walk toward the office building designated as the command post after the disaster.
Derilians and colonists both hurried everywhere to their tasks. Every bit of rubble was being sorted and studied nearby, and information needed to be relayed and prioritized. Sarek proceeded to the third floor where local authorities directed the mammoth operation.
He entered without notice and took stock of the room. The chaos was more subdued than the last time he had been here, but the din of many voices speaking at once had not changed. He scanned the room for the local magistrate and proceeded in his direction.
“Your honor,” he addressed him, “what is the status of the investigation?”
The man turned weary eyes in his direction and indicated the activity around him with a wave of his long fingers. “It proceeds, slowly,” he said. “I believe your own people have also had the same lack of results?”
“That is correct,” Sarek confirmed. “However, all occurrences have a cause. A precursor to the collapse must exist and therefore can be discovered with sufficient effort.”
The man nodded slowly. “You are right of course,” he said. “Come, let us compare what we have discovered and see if we can find that answer.”
Sarek followed him to a makeshift office space in a less-traveled corner. Data cards and bits of evidence appeared to be strewn about in no discernible order, but the magistrate seemed to make sense of the arrangement. He cleared a chair for Sarek to sit on and took a seat behind the low table that was serving as his desk.
“Lieutenant Saavik has been most helpful in the investigation,” Magistrate Carliyel said. “I understand her mate was severely injured in the collapse.”
Sarek nodded. “That is true,” he said. “But he is recovering well.”
“That is well,” Carliyel continued. “Your people have been friends to us in these dark days. Were any lost in the disaster?”
Sarek shook his head. “No, we were fortunate.”
Carliyel looked relieved at that as he turned to search among the piles of data cards. When he found the one he was looking for, he put in into the computer in front of him.
“This is everything we have learned at this time,” he said, turning the monitor so Sarek could see it. “ I have included information from Lieutenant Saavik and others of your people.” He wagged his head slowly. “I’m afraid what we do not know far exceeds what we do.”
Sarek studied the screen long enough to commit it to memory. “Magistrate,” he asked, “has any other structure ever collapsed in this fashion before?”
“Never,” the man answered. “At least not without seismic activity. Lieutenant Saavik’s research indicates that there was no such activity on the day of the collapse.”
Sarek folded his hands together and considered that. “And the trausium used in construction is stable?” he asked.
“Yes,” Carliyel answered. “It is one of the strongest substances on the planet and capable of carrying enormous loads. It is nearly impossible to even bend, let alone break anything made from this ore.”
Sarek nodded. He had studied the research Spock and Saavik had done on the mineral and had come to the same conclusion. “If the collapse was not caused by a natural calamity or structural failure,” he said, “then an outside force must be responsible for the destruction.”
“The conclusion is reasonable,” Carliyel agreed, “except for the complete lack of evidence to support it.”
“Nevertheless,” Sarek continued, “we must concentrate our efforts on finding that evidence. Beings willing to cause such destruction rarely stop at just one disaster.”
Carliyel nodded wearily as they began to discuss any possible suspects or motives, and how they might defend against the unknown.