Spock entered the science lab with Saavik and Jasai, causing no small surprise to the officers already at work there. Saavik quickly retrieved a sample of the trausium and they gathered together around an unused work station.
“We should begin with substances readily available on Derilia,” Jasai said. “The prisoners would not have had access to the moons or beyond.”
“Unless the Wramuth assisted them,” Spock pointed out.
“Perhaps,” Jasai agreed. “However, the people in question have spent a lifetime studying Derilia, and were imprisoned long before Taini or Artemis were explored or settled. It is safe to assume they would use what they know.”
Spock acknowledged the logic with an incline of his head and pulled up a list on the computer that cataloged plants and minerals common to Derilia. Saavik instructed the computer to analyze the components of each item while Jasai studied the research they had completed on trausium. They worked quietly, occasionally interrupted by the beeps of the computer as it rejected some items and saved others for further analysis.
“Master Jasai,” Spock spoke suddenly in the silence, “the prison compound is in the northern sea, is it not?”
“Yes,” the man answered, looking up from his research. “It is housed on a small remote island.”
Spock directed his attention to the screen in front of him. “According to computer records, there is a plant indigenous to that area that is highly acidic in nature. If it was combined with the volcanic sands accessible in the nature preserve just south of the capital city, would not intense heat be produced?”
Jasai studied the readout. “Yes,” he said. “Depending on the nature of the acid, it might be quite corrosive.”
“The sands we can acquire easily,” Saavik said, “but we cannot access the area to study this plant.”
“As soon as the facility is secure, we can acquire some,” Spock said. “In the meantime, the computer can calculate the likely outcome of combining these elements. When we are able we can run the experiment ourselves.”
While Spock programmed the parameters of the experiment into the computer, Jasai and Saavik continued to study the analysis of other possible destructive elements on Derilia. They were keenly aware that solving the mystery of the disaster might prevent future destruction. Insanity did not typically impart patience to its victims, and much time had passed already. Saavik paused in her research long enough to send an urgent request to the bridge for access to the prison island as soon as it was feasible. Then she began to gather what she would need for such a journey and for the field experiments to be conducted there. She glanced at Spock and wondered if his logic was strong enough to not protest the mission she planned. She felt the caress of the mind-touch but secreted her plans for now behind a mental shield. He sensed the deception immediately and glanced up with a raised eyebrow, but she went back to her research without meeting his gaze, her mind returning the caress but nothing more. Spock watched her a moment, his eyes registering his confusion, but soon returned to the important work they shared. When Derilia was safe there would be time enough to discuss the illogic of secrets between bondsmates and the unnatural fear such secrets created. He tried to put the thought out of his mind to concentrate on the critical task at hand, but somewhere a touch of panic teased at his consciousness and split his attention between the two. He glanced at Saavik again, his mind touching hers more insistently than before, but she made no response in word or thought. Resolutely he turned back to his work, raising mental shields of his own to protect her from his fear.
Khevet put his hands over his ears to block out the loud mutterings of his companions. The hostages they had been guarding had suddenly disappeared before their eyes, and he wasn’t sure if it was reality or some trick of his imagination. So when strange beings appeared in their place bearing some type of weapons, he wasn’t sure whether to laugh or flee. These beings didn’t look like Derilians or even Wramuth and the language they spoke was indecipherable, though strangely it was translated a split second behind the moving of their lips. Khevet sank to the floor and tried to curl himself into the smallest possible shape as he waited for the apparitions to melt away again.
The Enterprise security detail lifted him up and pushed him forcibly toward his gathered companions, their weapons ready. Khevet went where they directed, knowing there was no danger in dream-beings, and laughed at their serious expressions of carefully controlled anger. Even when they put him back in the locked quarters, he didn’t resist or protest the confinement. Dream-reality was not something to fear and when he awakened the Wramuth would tell him what to do. He sat down on his cot and began to laugh even as he continued to cover his ears to the psychotic sound.
Captain Kirk stepped forward to greet the confused Derilians who had been beamed en masse into the cargo bay. Some touched their bodies to be sure they were still there while others looked around the huge space in clear surprise. He spotted Regent Aiden’s daughter among the rescued hostages and stepped forward at her smile of recognition.
“Captain Kirk,” she said, “this is your ship?”
“Yes,” he said, taking her hand to steady her. “Our transportation device takes some getting used to. But it was the quickest way to rescue you.”
She nodded, taking in the experience and the sudden freedom. The other men, women and children talked excitedly amongst themselves as other crewmen went forward to assist them.
“Our captors were quite mad,” she told the captain, “But they had strict orders not to injure us. I never saw who gave the orders, but I heard him called Commander Taln.”
“The Wramuth,” Kirk answered, noting her lack of recognition. “A race of beings that has held your world hostage for too long,” he explained. He turned to the others and raised his voice to be heard above the many conversations. “Please follow my officers to the observation lounge where food and drink will be provided for you,” he said. “Soon we will take you home.”
The noise level rose in volume and excitement, but they orderly followed the officers as directed. With a final smile, the regent’s daughter went with the group and Kirk was left alone in the cavernous room. He watched them go then purposely strode toward the door and the bridge beyond. The time had come to engage these Wramuth and to put an end to all the accumulated mysteries. He paused long enough to call Regent Aiden and relay the successful rescue of the hostages and to check in with his people at the prison facility. The report that all was secure prompted his next call to Saavik to proceed with her research mission. He knew that this was only the beginning of the end, but at last he had a clear direction for action and a resolution in sight. He got up and headed toward the bridge again, his mind and body ready for any contingency and all the waiting forgotten. Starship captains lived for these moments of purpose and decisions, and even with the continued danger, Kirk was anticipating whatever would happen next. He followed the route to the bridge by rote while considering all possible outcomes of the current situation. His decisions and the actions of many others would determine the final outcome, and he could only hope that it would be the best one for everyone. But until then he had a job to do, and as he entered the bridge he felt the weight, and yet the peace, of his command settle on him again. Spock had been right when he had said this was his best destiny, but Kirk knew that he and his crew would soon be replaced by the unstoppable march of time. But not today, at least, he thought as he sat in his chair. Today we might save a world one more time.