Jim Kirk looked at the Orion Ambassador with fury and loathing in his eyes. "Do you mean to tell me that you knew this could happen and you didn't think to warn Star Fleet or the Federation Council? What kind of self-serving, unethical bastards are you? You knew innocent lives might be at risk! "
He looked at the Sarek. "I hope you take this into consideration on the Council floor when you vote! There is no excuse for this. None!"
"Jim," McCoy protested. "Calm down, this won't get us anywhere."
Sarek said nothing. He had decided to let the captain handle this interview in his own way. Perhaps the dynamics between these two would be different and they would learn more from the Orion."
"Captain Kirk, if we had warned the Council, the vote would have been postponed yet again. We felt it was worth the slight risk to let the vote go ahead on the appointed day," explained Dizchard in a measured tone. "It seemed reasonable to us to await developments when we acquired the intelligence. We were not sure, you see, that the threat would be carried out. There have been other threats that have come to nothing."
Jim heard the Orion's explanation through the black fury that rose up in him. "Risk! How dare you talk risk to us here! It wasn't you that was at risk. It was innocent people!" In his fury, he lunged at the Orion and threw a solid punch that landed squarely on the Exalted's jaw. He felt the blow all the way to his shoulder; it felt good! It felt damned good!
Dizchard fell heavily, but was up almost instantly with a snarl. He bent his head and rammed Jim in the stomach and they both went down in a heap to the floor. Jim rolled over, fighting for breath and sprang to his feet ignoring McCoy's frantic protests. He crouched down, breathing heavily, ready to defend himself. The Orion sprang for Kirk's neck but came up against a solid Vulcan wall…Sarek.
"Enough, gentlemen." Sarek was apparently unmoved, but an appreciative gleam shone in the dark eyes. Earlier he, too, had felt a most illogical wish to ram his fist down the Ambassador's throat, but of course, he had restrained himself.
He felt compelled to explain Kirk's actions to the Orion in the expectation that the dynamics of the confrontation would loosen the Exalted's tongue.
"You must forgive Captain Kirk, Dizchard. He is a man of strong passions, and the abduction of his nephew and of my son and wife has caused him much distress. Consider, if you will, if it had been you and your family in such a situation, and how you would have reacted to a statement such as you made." His stern gaze rested on the Orion, inviting him to respond truthfully.
Dizchard looked at Sarek and answered. "I would have killed such a one," he growled. He eyed Jim who still looked furious and abruptly his stance relaxed."
"Captain, it may be that in our zeal for acceptance to the Federation Council, we neglected our responsibilities to others." He paused, and then added with evident difficulty. "On Orion, we have not had the opportunities to evolve the higher affects and moral principles. We have developed a warrior mentality and this because of dire necessity. You need to understand that only the strongest and fit survive on our planet." His beautiful eyes looked bleak. "Perhaps it's time we begin to change our thinking and consider another way. We want better for our children. I offer this not as an apology, but as an explanation of our decision."
Jim looked steadily at Dizchard and slowly he too relaxed his stance. It was a relief to Dr. McCoy who was hovering near ready to restrain Jim if it became necessary. He grabbed Jim's hand and checked his fingers. "Lucky for you that you didn't break anything," he muttered. "That was quite a punch you threw." He directed his ire and his scanner at Jim's hand and shoulder. "Fool stunt."
"Don't mother hen me, Bones." Jim shook him off impatiently.
"It's my job, Captain, in case you've forgotten," replied McCoy.
"Gentlemen, let us be seated and proceed. I assume hostilities have ceased?" Sarek raised an eyebrow in question at the two men. "Time grows short," he reminded them.
Jim nodded, as did Dizchard and they sat down. Jim's gaze rested on the Orion. He was still seething, but his voice was calm as he asked, "Dizchard, what information do you have on this man called Retz, who appears to be the leader of the group. There were five other men, all masked and indistinguishable, except for one who limped badly and whose right arm appeared injured. Do you have Intel on them?"
Dizchard nodded. "Yes, Captain Kirk. I will tell you what we know. Retz is the leader. He is young, highly intelligent, and commands a small group of anti-Federation dissidents. He has the reputation of a fierce warrior. To understand his fanaticism, you should know that he is the sole survivor of a warrior clan family that perished in a battle with a Federation ship. This happened when Retz was fourteen years old, and although he was very young, as is our custom, he swore vengeance upon the Federation in the name of his father and brothers. He tried, through political means, to sway our people to vote against the referendum for Council Admission. He did not succeed." Dizchard looked at Kirk with no expression on his face. "Before we came to Earth, he sent a message to the delegation that he would force the Council's decision by putting pressure on influential members. He did not specify how."
Dizchard turned to Sarek. "He also told us that nothing would stop him. We took what measures we could to stop him, but it's clear that we did not succeed." He paused. "I can tell you the names of the five other men,"he added. "I can also tell you about their backgrounds and their warrior status on Orion." He started to say something else, and then stopped.
Jim tensed. His instinct, his sixth sense told him that Dizchard was holding something back, some important information. He glanced at Sarek who gave him an infinitesimal nod, confirming Jim's assessment.
"Perhaps Exalted, you would be good enough to feed all your information into the ship's computer and then return here to us for some further conversation," Sarek suggested.
"I will do anything to help," Dizchard responded, not looking at Jim.
"I'll show him where, Jim," McCoy volunteered and steered the Ambassador out the door to the living room and to Uhura at the comm station.
Jim and Sarek looked at each other in silence for a long minute.
"He's not telling us something," Jim said. "And I don't much like it, and further more I don't trust him."
"Perhaps, Captain Kirk, when he returns we can continue the conversation and can elicit more information from him,"
For a minute Sarek's voice sounded so much like Spock's that Jim closed his eyes in pain. He rose abruptly and went to the door. "Mr. Sulu," he called.
"Yes, sir," Sulu responded immediately.
"Come in, Mr. Sulu." Jim said. "Sulu, do you think the Orion saw you and Chekov when he came in?"
"I don't think so, sir. We were not really in his line of sight, and he wasn't much interested in anything but talking to you anyway," he added.
"Good. Sulu, I want you and Chekov and one other reliable person to keep an eye on the Ambassador. You are to follow him everywhere he goes. Report to Uhura hourly. I want to know everywhere he goes, every single thing he does, including how may times he sneezes. Rotate your watches so he doesn't get suspicious if he accidentally spots one of you. Be sure you are in civilian clothes, we don't want anyone to ask any questions by flashing Star Fleet uniforms around."
"Aye, sir. Don't worry; we won't let him out of our sight."
"Mr. Sulu…" Jim hesitated. "I want to hear any conversation the Exalted engages in. I don't want to know how you do it; just do it. It's highly unethical not to mention illegal to eavesdrop on private conversations, but what I don't know about, I can't reprimand you for."
"Yes, sir. I didn't hear a thing." Sulu acknowledged absently, his mind already on the task ahead and how it could best be accomplished. He would recruit Marie Bridges. She was not only beautiful, she was brainy too. Her engineering ability was just what he needed while Scotty was busy with the scan. It was a good thing, Sulu thought, that the Orion left his cloak in the living room. They would plant the listening device on his cloak, and pray to all the weather gods that the San Francisco weather stayed cool and foggy.
"Dismissed, Mr. Sulu." The captains' voice brought him out of his trance with a start.
"Yes, sir." He saluted hastily and left to find Chekov and Marie.
Sarek and Jim sat silently each preoccupied with their own thoughts until McCoy brought Dizchard back into the library.
"Computer report will be ready shortly," the doctor reported. "One interestin' thing showed up already, Jim. The Orion who limped, name's Tarz, by the way, did receive treatment in a Federation medical facility and then he was released. He remained on Earth though, for six months, and lived for a time with a girl who worked at the hospital." He consulted his pad, "Her name is Cedar Adams."
"Track her down, Bones, see if Uhura can get her on the comm and talk with her."
"Sure thing, Jim. I'll get right on it."
"Sit down, Dizchard. Perhaps we can continue our conversation." Jim smiled at the Orion, a tight, tired expression. The hypo Bones had given him was wearing off and his head felt as if it were a drum stretched tight and someone was pounding on it. He nerves were also at the breaking point, and the Orion Ambassador didn't look as if he were going to help matters any.
"Is there anything else you would like to add to what you've told us?" Jim asked him shortly.
Again, that tiny pause that sent a warning tingle up and down Jim's spine.
"No. I'm sure that I have told you everything relevant. Perhaps I will remember something more at a later time. If so, I will tell you immediately."
Clearly the conversation was over as far as the Orion was concerned. Dizchard stood, bowed formally to Sarek and perfunctorily to Jim. "If you will excuse me, I must return to my colleagues. They will be anxious to know what has transpired here."
Jim stood, but Sarek waved him down. "I will see the Exalted out, Captain." Deliberately, he took Dizchard's arm and let him out the door.
Jim was very thoughtful as he waited for Sarek to come back. What is it that the man's not telling us? I feel it in my guts that it's important. I just hope that Sulu and Chekov are on the ball. He stretched his neck and back. God, he was so tired.
Sarek came in noiselessly. Jim had almost drifted off to sleep, but he bolted upright. "Well?" he demanded harshly. "What did you find out?"
"Captain, I was reluctant to invade his privacy, but sometimes necessities must over-come personal qualms or even scruples." Sarek's voice was dry. "When I touched his arm, I could sense there was great conflict in him. His thoughts were chaotic and not clear and there is much doubt in him. But you must understand, Kirk, that as a touch telepath, I must be in physical contact in the proper manner for me to enter his mind. A casual touch was not enough for me to read what it is he is holding back from us."
McCoy walked in just then, and taking a close look at Jim's exhausted face and slumped body, he brought out his hypo. Ignoring the look of protest that came over Kirk's face, he shook his head at his friend. "No arguments, Jim. You're going to get at least four hours sleep."
The hypo hissed against his arm and Jim felt the sedative begin to take effect almost immediately.
"O.k. Bones, but four hours, no more. Sarek will you wake me please?" His voice was already drowsy.
Sarek nodded. "Sleep now, Captain. I will awaken you after four hours."
Sarek watched the human sleep and thought; he has the will and tenacity of a Vulcan. It will serve us well.