The group stared aghast at Sarek. His collapse had been totally unexpected and they looked on helplessly as McCoy and Kirk supported Sarek to the sofa. The Vulcan's face was grey, his eyes unfocused looking at some distant sight only he could see.
"Sarek!" Jim shook him, not gently. "Sarek, what's happened?" he asked anxiously. "What's going on?"
"Jim, wait, leave him alone. He'll tell us when we can." McCoy ran his scanner over Sarek's body, concerned for his heart. The readings were within Vulcan normal range, except for the blood pressure reading which was slightly higher than normal. The doctor observed that Sarek's face was slowly regaining its normal color, and the distant look was fading from his eyes. Sarek, aware now, drew away from them, took a deep breath, and his dark gaze took in McCoy's med-scanner.
"I am recovered, Doctor McCoy. The distress from Amanda seems to have passed."
"The hell you say! I'll decide when you're recovered, Ambassador," said McCoy keeping a close eye on the readings. But he nodded to Jim that it was all right to question Sarek now.
"What the hell, happened?" Jim asked him.
"I do not know, Captain Kirk, but Amanda's distress seems to have passed and therefore mine as well; whatever it was, it seems to be over. The bond is undisturbed once more." Sarek's voice was still strained, deep and harsh with restrained emotion, but that was the only sign that he was disturbed. His Vulcan mask was firmly back in place.
Sarek looked up at Jim's anxious face. "I think, Captain, that all is well with the three of them once again. Amanda could not hide it from me if it were not so."
Jim felt a surge of profound relief. Fear and helplessness had torn at him when Sarek collapsed, for he'd realized immediately that the Vulcan's collapse was tied somehow with the hostages' welfare. Now, as well as relief, he felt a raging sense of frustration rising in him. Always and primarily, a man of decision and action, this enforced waiting was tearing him apart. These last two days at odd moments, the faces of Spock, Peter, and Amanda would rise before him like specters in his mind's eye. Spock, the ever loyal, the beloved friend who had accompanied him through a hundred hazards; Peter, child of his heart now, a trust that Sam and Aurelan had left him; and Amanda, gentle and compassionate, a friend to cherish. It was beyond bearing if anything happened to any one of them.
Uhura hurried to answer her flashing comm board; she had turned off the signal in consideration of everyone's nerves.
"What?" she screamed! Her military reserve cast to the four winds. Her beautiful face was alight with joy. "Chekov, you're wonderful, I'm going to give you a big, no a huge kiss as soon as you get here!" They could all hear Chekov's excited voice though the comm. "Yes, yes, don't worry, Captain Kirk is right here. I'll tell him immediately."
She turned her excited, joyful face to Jim. "Sir, sir..." her usually calm voice was shaky with excitement and joy, "Chekov has found out where they are! Captain, he's found them!"
Jim looked at her in disbelief, closed his eyes briefly in thanksgiving, and opened them. He looked at her, his eyes full of unshed tears and his face alight with happiness. He forced himself to walk calmly to the communication board. "Mr. Chekov, Pavel, report," he said shakily, and clasped his hands together to stop their trembling.
"Thank God," breathed McCoy.
Sarek stood raggedly, and walked over to Jim. To the doctor he appeared totally unmoved by the news, until McCoy saw his eyes.
"Yes, yes, Mr. Chekov, I understand perfectly. You and Lieutenant Sulu deserve and will get a commendation for this, I assure you. You both have my profound thanks. Follow Dizchard to where ever he's going, I'll send Ensign Bridges to relieve you as soon as you report the location. Kirk out."
Jim turned to the eager eyes watching him and let out a breath it seemed he had held for almost three days.
"It's true; we know now where they are. They're being held in Alcatraz Children's Park, right under our noses," he told them.
"Oh, sir, I'm so happy. What a relief." Uhura gave him a gentle hug of thankfulness which Jim returned gratefully.
McCoy clapped Jim on the back, muttering thankful litanies to all the deities he knew about.
Sarek's intense gaze never left Jim's face. "Will you explain the situation to us now, Captain?"
"Yes, of course, sit down everybody. This will take a little time. But first, Uhura, tell the Enterprise team and let Scotty know I want the scanners beamed at Alcatraz Park. Tell him that I want to know if even a cricket goes in and out of there, and please tell Admiral Nogura I'll have a briefing at 2100 hours." "Uhura," he added, "talk to the Admiral on scramble. We still don't know how Retz gets his information and we can't take any chances, especially now."
"Yes, sir. Captain, everyone will be so happy, sir!"
His gaze rested on Cedar Adams face. "Cedar, it seems that your faith in Tarz was justified to some extent. According to Chekov, he's working undercover as an agent for Ambassador Dizchard and the Orion delegation. He infiltrated Retz' group and his assignment is to protect the hostages. However, practically speaking, there is very little he can do for them now, and Chekov says that the Ambassador and Tarz are both very worried. The closer it gets to the vote, the more dangerous their predicament becomes."
Jim turned to the Vulcan, his anger clear in his face. "Sarek, we were right about Dizchard, he was keeping this from us, and I can't understand why he couldn't have trusted us with the information about Tarz. We could have found a way to help right away. Chekov says Retz would not hesitate to kill Tarz and the hostages if he becomes suspicious of betrayal, and that Dizchard's primary concern seems to be to protect Tarz. I just don't get it. I know that if we had known, we could have come up with a plan, a joint effort. Now I just don't feel inclined to trust our illustrious Exalted."
"There is a certain ruthless logic to his behavior, Captain. The fewer people who know about Tarz, the less danger for all concerned. And we have seen that Retz' intelligence organization is formidable, and we still do not know how he is getting his information."
"Excuse me, sir," Uhura interrupted quietly. "Mr. Scott asked me to tell you that all scanners are now aimed at Alcatraz Park and he is awaiting further orders. He said a flea won't be able to get in or out without his knowing. Also, sir, Admiral Nogura will be here shortly."
"Good. Uhura see if you can get a trace going now that we have a location. We still don't know if the terrorist headquarters is also at Alcatraz," Jim added. "Mr. Sulu should be able to get us that information soon; he's following Tarz now. See what you can do anyway, Uhura. Oh, and Uhura, I need to see Lieutenant Kyle right away, please."
Uhura looked at her captain and saw his hazel eyes alight and clear once again, the drawn look gone from his face and sighed with thankfulness. "Yes, sir."
Jim looked around at the waiting patient faces and grinned. His mood had lightened considerably with the good news and the prospect of action and rescue.
"As soon as the Admiral gets here, we can have a strategy meeting. Meanwhile, let me bring you up to date with Chekov's report."
"Finally," muttered the impatient McCoy.
Lieutenant Kyle came in and Jim motioned for him to sit down. Kyle sat and listened carefully to the captain's report about Sulu and Chekov had found out.
Though carefully hidden from the public and unknown to all but his closest friends on the Enterprise, beneath the impeccable and easy going exterior, Winston Matthew Kyle had a shrewd and prodigious intelligence. As transporter chief on the Enterprise, his responsibilities were awesome. One little mistake and a person's component atoms could be scattered all over neighboring space. Star Fleet screened all personnel assigned to transporter detail very, very, carefully. McCoy was also scrupulous about making sure that everyone in transporter detail had a quarterly psychological eval without fail.
A transporter chief must have a psyche rooted firmly in the ground as well as an ego that was totally integrated. There was no room for neurosis or incipient personality disorders in transporter detail. Kyle, as Sulu put it, 'had it all together,' and took his job very seriously indeed.
Once assigned to the Enterprise, a posting that had made all his colleagues green with envy, he made it a point to be on the cutting edge of any new transporter technology. Now, as he listened to his captain, he assessed the possibility of trying to rescue three people from a shielded room, without coördinates, or without life sign readings or a communicator signal to guide him. As things stood, he concluded, it was impossible. That fact, however, didn't discourage him in the least. James Kirk and the Enterprise were famous throughout the galaxy for getting impossible results against impossible odds. He settled back more comfortably in his chair and listened to his captain.
Sulu followed Tarz through the backstreet of Chinatown. He had no difficulty in keeping the Orion insight; his decided limp made it impossible for Tarz to walk very quickly.
I wonder why he hasn't had that bone and muscle regenerated, thought Sulu. Maybe Orions don't believe in that sort of thing. Maybe to them it's a badge of honor to flaunt a wound. He felt a twinge of compassion for the young warrior whose great physical beauty was marred by the wounded arm and leg. He made a note to find out more about the Orion Warrior Code. Sulu had a vast amount of knowledge of that sort at his fingertips. He had acquired it bit by bit, laboriously, since his days as a cadet at the Academy. It had come in handy many times in his contacts with alien cultures. Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock made it a point to encourage that sort of curiosity in the crew. As Mr. Spock put it, "Experience, curiosity, and self-knowledge are what distinguishes sentient from non-sentient creatures.' Sulu had made that an axiom by which to live his life.
Tarz stepped out of the maze that was historical Chinatown into Grant Avenue, one of San Francisco's oldest main streets. The Orion stopped, looked around, and walked slowly to a shuttle stop.
Sulu, too, walked over and stood behind several waiting pedestrians. He would have to take the same shuttle; there was no help for it. He decided there was no danger of recognition from Tarz. The Orion was very preoccupied and Sulu doubted if the warrior had even caught a glimpse of him at the party. It was, as Mr. Spock would say, an acceptable risk.
A shuttle stopped and the waiting group got on, Sulu carefully staying behind a stout elderly gentleman. He walked down the aisle to the rear of the shuttle keeping an eye on the Orion's blue black hair. He sat, glanced out the view window, and noted that they were definitely heading toward the Great Highway and up to the Bridge.
Sulu led the voices of the other passengers drift over him as the shuttle took them toward their destination. His mind dwelled on possible rescue attempts and his fingers itched at the thought of a fight with some of Retz' men. Anyone who kidnapped innocent people to carry out their own ends deserved all they got at the hands of martial arts expert Hikaru Walter Sulu.