The Kenel was waiting for her, T’Kar scrambled onto its back and wound her hands into the long mane, the sun was already a yellow disk above the horizon. She stretched and thought to herself, Going to be a hot one. To her surprise the animal seemed to take a more leisurely return journey leaving her wondering if the first ride had been to test her courage or her ability or both. The animal stopped some distance from ShiKahr and gratefully she slid down from its back.
Definitely a hot bath when I get in, she thought wincing. She turned and laid a hand on the animal’s neck and patted it absentmindedly. It snorted at her and then wheeled and cantered away. She stretched again and then began to walk back to her apartment. Luckily it was still early and she could slip into her apartment without anyone noticing, Unless the Shatry’a’s done something, but surely that’s not possible. Then she shrugged andslipped into the bathroom. A bath was a luxury she rarely indulged in, most Vulcans seeing it as a waste of resources but today she fancied a quick soak, the ride hadn’t done anything for her muscles. Filling the bath she climbed in and lay back feeling the warm water relax her aching body.
Reluctantly she washed the grime from her body and then slowly climbed out of the bath. Despite her tiredness her shift would be starting soon and she had to report to the hospital. Dressing quickly in her medical uniform and slipping her keys into her bag she ran downstairs.
The sister met her at the entrance to the Isolation Block, “Captain Kirk?” and when T’Kar nodded nervously she smiled kindly and opened the door, “Quietly now,” she admonished, “he’s still sleeping.”
“Parental fluids?” T’Kar queried.
“Soups and semi-solid food when he awakens and we’ll see what Doctor M’Benga says later today.”
T’Kar nodded, and then putting her hand on the door pushed it open and entered the room. To her surprise he was sitting on the edge of the bed.
Although Vulcans rarely touched others because of their latent telepathy, she gently laid her hand on his shoulder, “Captain, where are you going?”
He raised his head to look at her and a puzzled look crossed his face as he stood up, “Who are you? How did I get here? Where’s McCoy?”
She eased him back down onto the bed, “Easy, Captain, easy. If you get back into bed, I will call for Dr. McCoy.” He nodded wearily and she crossed the room to press a buzzer on the desk. Within ten minutes the door opened and McCoy entered.
“Bones,” the relief in Kirk’s voice was palpable, “Where is this place? What happened?”
“We’re on Vulcan, Jim,” McCoy replied softly, “Remember the incident with the Klingon Bird of Prey?”
Kirk nodded, “K’t’inga class wasn’t it?”
McCoy nodded, “You remember that. Good. What else do you remember?”
“Awful dreams,” he whispered.
“Just dreams,” Bones said, easing his friend back against the pillows. “I promise I’ll be nearby.”
Kirk nodded, leaning back and closing his eyes.
McCoy turned to T’Kar, “I’ll leave him in your capable hands, Nurse. You,” he said, turning to James Kirk, “Get some rest, we’ll talk later.”
T’Kar nodded, “I’ll get us something to eat,” she said quietly to the man lying on the bed.
When she returned she was carrying two mugs, both of which she set down on the table next to the bed, “Chicken soup for you, plomeek for me.”
He managed a weak, distorted smile and without thinking she took one of his hands in her own, “It’ll be all right, Captain. It’ll be all-” She never finished the sentence as the same blue-white light that had emanated from her palm the night before now seeped from between their clasped hands and spun gently upwards like cigarette smoke.
“It was you,” Kirk murmured, staring.
“Yes,” T’Kar replied shakily, and then swallowing, “I did not expect that.”
“No, nor did I,” Kirk replied, “What are you?”
“I suppose since I am not ascended, the correct term would be Shatry’u.” She smiled.
“I think I was dying,” Kirk said slowly, “you healed me.”
“Well not really,” she smiled, “I think that the universe healed you for its own reasons, but although I believe the universe has a kind of sentience, it isn’t very good about giving you reasons why.” She smiled shyly, “You have to figure out your own life path.”
“Well I think I know where I’m going,” he said firmly, “or at least I plan to when I can get out of this place.”
“Your inability to remember could impede that,” T’Kar replied gently, “I’m no psychologist but I think there may be a reason you have this blank spot in your memory. You will need to deal with that before you can return to command.”
He stared at her and for a moment she thought she’d overstepped the mark and then he said, “I tried, when I woke up. I remember the Klingon ship but almost nothing before that, except that I think I made one of the hardest decisions of my life-”
She took his hand again and they were both relieved when the blue-white light didn’t appear again. She smiled, “Look, finish your soup and try to get some rest. I’m sure that Dr. M’Benga will talk through this with you when he makes his rounds.”
“What’s your name?” he asked softly.
“T’Kar,” She replied.
“James Kirk, my friends call me Jim.” Kirk sipped his soup, “so tell me what happened last night.”
“All right,” T’Kar said slowly, “but you may have to suspend your disbelief.”
“My dear T’Kar,” Kirk said softly, “by all rights I should be lying in a coma in this bed, I don’t think disbelief comes into the equation - I know what you did and I’m the living proof of it.”
She took a deep breath and began her story, once or twice Kirk interrupted her but mostly he listened his eyes dark and thoughtful. She finished and looked up at his face.
Kirk surveyed her silently for a moment and then he said, “That is amazing!”
T’Kar set her mug on the table and smiled at him, “If you say so, I was scared witless most of the time.”
Kirk took her hands, “You saved my life, nothing can compare to that, whatever you ask of me, if it is within my power I shall do my utmost to grant it.”
“That’s quite a promise,” T’Kar smiled, “But I cannot accept it yet.”
“Why not?” Kirk’s eyes became hard as stone.
“Because you’re not totally well,” T’Kar said gently, “and until you remember whatever you’ve forgotten, you won’t be totally well. But if, when you’re fully recovered you want to make the same promise, I shall gladly accept it.”
Kirk nodded, “All right. But I can’t marry you!”
“You’re married to your ship,” T’Kar replied, her lips curving in a smile, “so I wouldn’t ask it. What I might ask is that you give me a commission aboard the Enterprise when I finish my studies on Vulcan.”
“That would depend on your grades, but if they’re good enough then I’ll certainly recommend it.” Kirk grinned, and then suddenly yawned.
“I’ve tired you with all my talking,” T’Kar said, “Rest Captain. Dr. M’Benga won’t be doing his rounds for quite some time.”
Kirk made no protest as she fluffed up his pillows and pulled the shades down so that the room was in semi-darkness - she walked across to her desk and turned on the desk lamp. Then she sat down and began to write.
She wrote down the events of the previous evening in the diary that she carried. Talking to James Kirk had somehow made them seem more real. She regarded his still figure at least three or four times while she wrote.
Picking up her pen again she smoothed the page and started a new paragraph.
I am glad that whatever Power in me leapt out to heal this man. Perhaps I have something else, some ExtraSensory Perception that makes me feel that this man is important, or if not important then he matters. Of course every being matters, but somehow I felt and still feel that this man matters more - to me. Perhaps we have a link.
Kirk stirred and sat up, T’Kar laid her pen down and stood up, “Are you feeling better, Captain?”
He blinked and smiled, “Yes, thank you, Nurse.” He looked at the book “What are you writing?”
T’Kar smiled, “I keep a daily journal, an ancestor of mine kept such a journal. I think it was the only thing that helped her keep her sanity. My mother suggested that I ought to do the same.”
“Your mother was Terran?” Kirk stared at her, “and your father?”
“Vulcan. Mother came out here after she married Father, she died six years ago and then Father died three years ago, I am glad that I was here to return his spirit to those of our ancestors.”
“Do you miss Earth?”
“I don’t know,” T’Kar replied, “I was born there, but we came here when I was two, I have no memory of it. I’m just waiting for some of my mother’s things to come here and there are bound to be things that need sorting out. There invariably are.”
“So you’re all alone?” Kirk asked suddenly feeling dreadfully sorry for this youngster who had been much like his first officer.
“I’m afraid so, Captain.” T’Kar looked up, “but it could have been worse. Sarek and Amanda took care of me, I think after my Father died they decided that I needed looking after. I didn’t really know what to do, I didn’t know how to grieve because it felt as if no-one grieved on Vulcan. Amanda showed me how to grieve as a young human and how to cope as a Vulcan.”
Kirk settled himself against the pillows and T’Kar said, “I’m sorry, Captain, I must be boring you.”
“No.” He shook his head, “gods, no! Please carry on.”
“Unfortunately, Captain, that won’t be possible at the moment. I’ve decided to discharge you. Mr. Spock is here to take you to his home.” Dr. M’Benga had stepped into the room unnoticed by either of them.
“As soon as that?” Kirk looked startled.
M’Benga smiled, “Captain, there’s nothing wrong with you.”
“But you said-”
“I must have been mistaken.” M’Benga smiled tautly, “we’ll leave you in peace to get dressed and then you can go.”
“T’Kar, can you come with me?” Kirk asked quickly.
“I’m still on duty, Captain,” T’Kar replied gently, “and as you’re not sick I’m not sure that you need the services of a nurse.”
Dr. M’Benga pursed his lips and then he said, “On the contrary, Jim, I think it’s a fine idea. T’Kar will stay with you until you’ve fully recovered. Then she can return to the hospital. T’Kar, you will come with me now and I shall give you a list of instructions. See that Captain Kirk follows them. When his memory returns you will inform me or Dr. McCoy in person. Understood?”
“Understood.” T’Kar replied. “Doctor-”
“Yes, Nurse?” M’Benga turned to face her.
“Don’t thank me,” M’Benga replied, he leant forward and said, “I think it would be useful if you could have access to the Captain’s and the First Officer’s log entries concerning the USS Enterprise’s last mission. I shall see about getting you clearance, it may mean that you have to be sworn into Starfleet as only Starfleet personnel are allowed such access.”
“But Doctor, I’ve only just qualified as a nurse.” T’Kar explained, “I’m trying to save enough credits to purchase my ticket to Earth and Starfleet Academy.”
“I am aware of that,” M’Benga said gently, “but you graduated magna cum laude from your school of nursing and cum laude from the Vulcan Science Institute, your application to Starfleet Academy has been accepted provided that you find yourself a sponsor.”
“And I may have a problem with that,” T’Kar said, “you are aware that none of my family are alive, Doctor, and I have not asked the Vulcan Science Institute for very obvious reasons.”
“And they are?”
“T’Pel,” T’Kar said slowly, “if it were a choice between me and her they would choose me because my academic qualifications are higher - but she should not be overlooked. She has a wealth of practical knowledge that many would envy. So I shall not ask.”
“You don’t know that. The Science Academy decide in secret who they should sponsor.”
“But it would always nag at me,” T’Kar explained, “anyway enough about me. You’d better give me your instructions for the Captain.”
M’Benga nodded, “He’s to take things easy for a couple of weeks, no getting up at the crack of dawn; no strenuous activity, that means no walks in the desert; he’s to sleep for at least a couple of hours every afternoon. Think you’ll remember all that?”
“I’ll try, sir,” T’Kar smiled.
Kirk took T’Kar’s hand in the groundcar, “Thanks for coming with me,” he said, “you didn’t have to.”
T’Kar smiled at him thinking how weary he looked and tired, there was a thinness about him that disturbed her. Kirk rested his head on the headrest and closed his eyes. Almost without knowing it he drifted into a doze...
He was back aboard the Enterprise, strange, he’d almost fallen asleep, still no time to consider that now. He looked up at the forward screen again , “Status, Mr. Sulu.”
“Deflector shields still holding, Sir.”
“Arm phasers; lock on target-”
“Locked on, aye sir.”
“Prepare to fi-” then something hit the bridge and then only blackness.
“Captain? Jim? Jim, can you hear me?”
He opened his eyes dazedly and stared up into T’Kar’s face, she gently touched the back of her hand to his temple and spoke softly, “Are you all right, Captain?”
“I-I was on my bridge, then something happened, a Klingon ship - I-I can’t remember-”
“Spock, stop for a moment and let the Captain gather his senses.” T’Kar said quietly. The groundcar stopped and Spock half-turned in his seat. Although he didn’t say anything, T’Kar could see the tense lines around his eyes and mouth. She nodded at Spock and then laid her hand over Kirk’s “Just relax for a moment or two, Captain, I’ll give you a minute to recover and then we’ll go on to Sarek’s house.”
Kirk smiled wearily and T’Kar tried to smile encouragingly back at him but it came out rather lopsided.
“Call me Jim,” Kirk said softly.
“All right,” T’Kar replied quietly, “if you will call me T’Kar.”
He grinned tiredly, “That would be a pleasure.”
Amanda was preparing a salad when they entered, she smiled when she saw her adopted daughter, “T’Kar, how lovely to see you! Captain, Spock mentioned that you and Dr. McCoy would be staying with us-” her voice died away as she saw Captain Kirk’s face.
“I’ll take you to your room, Captain,” T’Kar said softly.
Kirk let her lead him to the room prepared for him and made no protest as T’Kar eased him onto the bed. She turned away and Kirk caught her elbow, “Stay-” he begged.
“All right,” T’Kar replied. She sat on the bed, “You need sleep,” she said softly, “let me.” She reached out and gently took his face in her hands, “Sleep, James.”
Once again the strength of her will was no match for his in his weakened state and he started to fade off into sleep, just before darkness descended he caught himself thinking, She’s just like me. Her strength of purpose is like mine before darkness descended and sleep closedover him like a cloud.
He woke slowly, he could tell from the brightness of the curtains that it was mid-morning. “Good morning,” T’Kar smiled.
“Good morning,” he yawned, “Have you been there all night?”
“No,” she smiled, “I just came in to see how you were. How are you feeling?”
“Tired.” He rolled over and closing his eyes dropped back into slumber. T’Kar smiled, pulling the covers up around Kirk’s shoulders she quietly slipped from the room. Amanda was in the kitchen when she entered, “Morning sweetie, how’s Captain Kirk this morning?”
T’Kar helped herself to the Vulcan equivalent of cereal and replied, “He’s still asleep, he awoke, said ‘Good Morning’ and fell asleep again.”
“He probably needs it.” Amanda walked across the kitchen to her adopted daughter. “How are you with this, T’Kar?”
“All right, I think.”
“We’re dealing with a different class of man than those you normally see here. This is a Starship Captain. They’re a breed apart. Whatever injured his body is not the issue, it’s what injured his mind before that.”
“He seems to be suffering from some sort of amnesia,” T’Kar said slowly, “he says he remembers being attacked by a Klingon Bird of Prey, but nothing before that.”
Amanda looked thoughtful, “I do not know what happened during their last mission, neither Spock nor McCoy will speak of it, and my Son looks emotionally drained which is unusual for him. But you do understand that even if he should use you as his crutch, it will only be for a short while. He is not a man who can stay long in one place, the Wanderlust is strong in him.”
“Stronger than most men’s?”
“Indeed. I believe his passion for the Enterprise may be his undoing.”
“Perhaps,” T’Kar replied her eyes far away, “but when in future times, men speak of the Enterprise, they will speak of him in the same breath.”
Amanda turned and laughed, “I hope so, T’Kar. Go and get dressed, Dr McCoy will want to know the status of his patient.”
T’Kar nodding slipped into the spare room to change. She was reading quietly in the lounge when McCoy arrived,
He saw T’Kar and asked quickly, “How is the Captain, Nurse?”
“I’d prefer it if you checked him, Doctor,” T’Kar replied, she smiled and led the way into the bedroom where Kirk still slept.
McCoy gently checked Jim’s vital signs and then nodded to the Nurse, “All right, T’Kar. I think we’ll leave him to sleep now.”
She poured a drink for him and handed it to McCoy before sitting down again, “Did you sleep at all last night?”
“Some,” McCoy responded, “I came to ask your opinion of Captain Kirk, you mentioned before that he was suffering some kind of amnesia.”
“So you read my report,” T’Kar’s eyes grinned back at him, then her smile faded and she continued, “the last thing he remembers is a Klingon attack cruiser, but there’s something else that’s disturbing him, something he wants to remember but his conscious mind won’t let him. Can you tell me anything of what happened on your last mission?”
“No,” McCoy responded so abruptly that T’Kar stared at him shocked, she folded her report and was about to hand it to McCoy when a familiar voice said, “I think that if we are to heal Jim’s mind then we must tell Nurse T’Kar some of what occurred without infringing our oath of loyalty to Starfleet.”
McCoy saw the delight blossom in T’Kar’s face before she composed it and turned to Spock, “Live long and prosper, Spock son of Sarek.” She said solemnly as she gave him the Vulcan salute.
“Peace and long life, T’Kar daughter of Sorak,” Spock replied, “it is good to see you again. How are your studies progressing?”
“I am pleased to report that I graduated cum laude from the Vulcan Academy of Sciences,” T’Kar responded, “forgive me Spock, I should have thanked thee more fully, for it was thy tutelage that enabled me to pass the astrophysics exam.”
Spock replied, “I accept thy apologies now.”
McCoy looked from one to the other and said, “You two know each other?”
“Of course, Doctor,” Spock replied, “T’Kar and I were to be joined some years ago our fathers arranged it.”
“But we decided that we were not compatible,” T’Kar replied, “I could not be the wife Spock desired because I wanted to serve in Starfleet and he could not be the husband I desired because he already served in Starfleet, so we met and decided that it would be better if we did not marry. We had not undergone bonding so there was no need for any ceremony to divorce us.”
Spock ushered T’Kar to her chair, and then seated himself between Dr. McCoy and T’Kar.
“I don’t agree with this, Spock,” McCoy said harshly, “Nurse T’Kar doesn’t need to know what happened in order to help Captain Kirk!”
“Wait,” T’Kar said softly, “Doctor M’Benga wants me to be sworn into Starfleet sometime next week in order to view the Enterprise’s logs, I can find whatever information I need from them. The last thing Captain Kirk needs at the moment is his closest friends at each others throats. He will recover, given time, there is no point in forcing him to try and remember what he doesn’t want to.”
“But supposing he never remembers?” McCoy asked harshly.
“I can only try to get his conscious mind to want to remember, it doesn’t at the moment, so there is no use me trying to get him to remember while he doesn’t want to,” T’Kar replied.
McCoy nodded and rubbed a hand across his face, “I’m sorry. What do you suggest?”
“I was rather hoping you might have some suggestions about that,” T’Kar smiled, “I can only do what Dr. M’Benga has told me. Perhaps the atmosphere of Vulcan will help to dispel whatever demons haunt his dreams.”
“Does he tell you anything of these dreams?” McCoy asked quickly.
“No.” T’Kar replied, “although I suspect that the dreams are of what occurred just after your last mission. I think he dreams that he’s on the bridge and then the Enterprise is attacked by a Klingon Ship, after thatnothing.” She paused and then dropped her bombshell, “You encountered a Klingon Vessel inside the Neutral Zone which fired on you, you destroyed it but Captain Kirk was injured. Now you tell me the extent of his injuries.”
Spock regarded her, T’Kar could tell that she’d hit a nerve because something flashed in his dark eyes and his face was set harder than stone, finally he opened his mouth and T’Kar was suddenly afraid, then another voice said thickly, “Yes.”
The tension vanished as Spock turned to McCoy, “I beg your pardon, Doctor?”
McCoy looked up at them both and to T’Kar he suddenly seemed old, “Yes we encountered a Klingon vessel which refused to respond to our hailing signals. There were a few minor injuries, even Jim’s weren’t that serious, but it was as if – as if-” he broke off unable to continue.
“His mind had already given up and started down the spiral of death,” T’Kar and Spock said simultaneously and then T’Kar laughed, “this telepathy will have to stop,” she said softly her face creasing in a smile.
“I am glad that we still have a connection,” Spock said gently, the dark eyes placid again, “for you are dearer than a sister to me.”
T’Kar blushed furiously. She forced a smile through her burning emerald cheeks and said, “So, we are agreed that it was whatever happened before you intercepted the Klingon vessel that almost killed Captain Kirk and has left him with this amnesia. So, as I said before, any suggestions gentlemen?”
McCoy sighed, “If it hadn’t been for that person in the hospital, what did Spock call them - Kahinar - we would be making arrangements to say farewell to Captain Kirk. Spock, you said you knew about these Kahinaru, would they be able to help?”
Spock regarded McCoy impassively, “Unfortunately they no longer exist,” he said quietly, “to a great extent a Kahinaru initiate, a potential Shatry’a must maintain Vulcan control while allowing emotions to flow through them, I could not do it, nor could any of the followers of T’Vet, I do not know who could.”
T’Kar leant forward and said quietly, “Doctor, they might tell us that the task of restoring his mind is something best left to his friends anyway. After all, if it were Spock or you, wouldn’t they rather be with friends and family than with strangers?”
“We’ve been down that road once,” McCoy remarked quietly, giving Spock a strange look, “I just need to be able to do something. This could be my friend’s career!”
T’Kar laid a hand on McCoy’s in silent sympathy. “Then you can start by giving me some suggestions about treating Captain Kirk.”
They were still talking together in low voices an hour later when Kirk walked, yawning into the room. He surveyed the little group and said, “Is there a reason you three look so miserable?”
T’Kar looked up at him and smiled, “We’re just discussing your case.”
Kirk frowned, and poured himself a glass of kasa juice, “Something along the lines of which mental asylum to commit me to?”
Spock looked affronted, “Certainly not, Captain, we were discussing treatment.”
“Spock,” T’Kar said gently, “he’s making a very bad joke.”
“How d’you feel, Jim?” McCoy asked.
“Better,” Kirk ran a hand through his hair and smiled, “you’ve a very gentle touch, T’Kar, I slept like a baby.”
“It’s not something to boast about, Captain.” T’Karta smiled tautly.
Spock surveyed T’Kar quietly, he had no remembrance of her being skilled as a healer, true, he had heard from his mother that she was academically the highest qualified in her set but that she wasn’t destined to be a Healer, that she hadn’t got the touch needed. He pushed the thought away and turned back to Kirk, “How do you feel now, Captain?”
Kirk sighed and eased himself into a chair, “I still can’t remember what happened, Spock, I keep thinking that I made the most important decision of my life in our last mission but I can’t remember what it was.” He looked at his two friends closely for a couple of moments and said, “and I don’t suppose you can tell me.”
“What happened on your last mission seems to have had profound effects on you, Captain,” T’Kar began softly. She gently touched his arm to try and comfort him.
He shook it off and snapped, “It’s obviously had profound effects on me, I can’t remember what happened on our last mission, I can’t get into my own ship’s logs and you all know what happened but won’t tell me about it.” He stormed out of the front door.
Spock rose to his feet, “I should go and explain.”
“Not this time,” T’Kar replied softly, “I don’t know what happened either, perhaps I can make him return.”
“And if you can’t?”
“I don’t know,” T’Kar replied, “we will have to make a decision within the next two weeks. If this state of amnesia persists then we will have no choice. He will have to go into rehabilitation and lose his Starship. You would in effect become Captain, Spock.”
McCoy stood up, “I will go and talk to the Captain,” he said slowly, “and leave you logical Vulcans dissecting my friend.”
Spock watched him go and then turned to gaze back at T’Kar, “T’Kar,” he said softly, “what do you think Jim’s chances are?”
T’Kar swallowed hard and then her stomach churning opened her mouth, “If his mind doesn’t return in the next two weeks, then it never will. I would venture to say that if it never returns that he may degenerate further into insanity.”
“Could he become psychopathic?”
“I don’t think so. He would probably lash out in frustration not realising what he’s doing. Somehow we have to find a way to unlock those doors in his mind.” She said a tongue twisting word that made one of Spock’s eyebrows arch up in surprise.
“I didn’t think you knew such a word,” he remarked.
T’Kar frowned, “I know a few more - worse than that. The followers of V’tosh ka’tur tend to use them, when they indulge in their mating rituals sometimes they get hurt. They usually scream at us while we’re trying to treat them.”
“But that will not help us treat the Captain.”
“Spock,” T’Kar said softly, she leant forward, “this may mean the Captain’s life. Can’t you tell me anything - anything at all that might help him.”
Spock regarded her thoughtfully, “I cannot tell you what happened on our last mission. I will tell you this, the Captain had to choose between himself and the universe.” T’Kar nodded, “I gathered that from his words in the hospital. Presumably it was something all three of you were involved in, McCoy almost as much as the Captain.
Is that why he feels so guilty?”
“You sensed that?” an eyebrow lifted and T’Kar nearly smiled, “I did not think your telepathic abilities that strong.”
“Empathic,” T’Kar corrected absent-mindedly.
Spock nodded, “You are correct T’Kar, but I did not think you possessed empathic abilities of that strength.”
“Truthfully, Spock, neither did I.” T’Kar lied, “but they seem to have developed while I was nursing.”
“Then I am pleased for you, dear one, for that will give you an advantage when you go before the Vulcan Council.”
“That may not be for some time,” T’Kar replied, “I have not requested a formal meeting to decide the canditature for the Vulcan Scholarship.”
“But surely they have asked for you to appear before them.” Spock stared at her, the first time she had seen the normally placid Vulcan nonplussed.
“No. But I have not requested an audience. I have submitted the forms and I await their decision. There are other candidates, doubtless they will look at their credentials first.”