Chapter 17


Chapter 17

Sulu's shuttle made its final stop at the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge. Here, all passengers had to disembark for other types of transportation. The commuters could catch their shuttles at the large public transport station or pick up their personal air cars stored in the enclosed private parking area. Here also, the tourists could catch their tour shuttles for Sausalito, Golden Gate Recreation Area, Angel Island Park, Treasure Island, Brooks Island or Alcatraz Children's Park. Golden Gate Transport Central was a huge place.

Sulu followed Tarz to the private parking area and saw Tarz pay his parking fee. Staying well back, Sulu saw him walk quickly to the designated aisle where a late model air car was waiting. Sulu took note of the cobalt blue color and the license number as Tarz unlocked it. This is where we part company, thought Sulu, unless I can rent a shuttle pretty damn fast. .

He quickly backtracked to the entrance and spotted the fleet of rentals. He chose the first one in the lot and inserted his credit chip, punched in his driver's license number, his Star Fleet I.D. information, and the voice of the rental computer told him that the car was his for the next two days. He saw that Tarz was already on the number 3 take off ramp. Thankfully at this time of the day, it was very crowded in the private ramps and the Orion had to wait in the take off line.

Sulu waited patiently for the Orion's car to ascend, and then he too, took off. He was careful to stay far back as he guided his car up to the maximum altitude limit. Tarz was definitely heading north-east toward Alcatraz. The cobalt blue car was easy to keep in sight, not the best color choice for being unobtrusive, thought Sulu. In a few minutes Sulu watched him descend slowly and coast down to land in the Alcatraz parking area. There were two cars parked there already. Sulu swooped once over the island, and then headed north as if going to Angel Island. In ten minutes he would turn around and come back toward Alcatraz. If the air cars were still parked there, then Sulu would be pretty certain that the kidnapper's headquarters was also there.

Chekov too, was having good luck following the Exalted. Dizchard walked to Stockton Street where he caught a public transport shuttle straight to the Bay Hotel. The Orion didn't linger in the lobby, but went directly up to room 917. Through the little receiver Chekov heard him order dinner from room service, then the sound of a shower. From the silence of the Ambassador, there was no one else in the room, Chekov heard the lift coming up and hurried around the hall corner to hide from the room service server.

Time for a report, he thought, and I'm wery hungry. He pulled out his communicator and talked to Uhura. A grateful Chekov heard her say she would send Ensign Bridges to relieve him, and he could come back to the apartment to eat and rest for a while.

At the apartment, it was dinner time. Sarek, McCoy and Uhura and the others sat down to a fried chicken, mashed potato and vegetable dinner. Sarek, of course, only had the potatoes and vegetables.

Jim was too restless to sit and eat and he roamed around the crowded room bothering everyone as they ate. He stood by the table bouncing up and down on his heels impatiently. "Uhura, are you sure you called everybody in? I need them all here for the strategy meeting."

She looked up at the handsome face hovering above her plate, took a deep breath and answered evenly, "Yes sir, everyone will be here at 2000 hours." She looked pointedly down at the hand that had appeared on her plate. "Sir, are you sure you wouldn't like some dinner?"

Jim looked down guiltily at the piece of chicken in his hand that he had absently taken from her plate. "Um…no thanks, Uhura. Sorry about that, I guess I was a little hungry after all," he smiled sheepishly at her. "But I can't sit down long enough to eat." He took one bite of the chicken, then set it back down again on her plate, oblivious of the aghast expression on her face, and walked around to McCoy, and stood at his elbow.

"Jim, will you light somewhere," said McCoy irritably, "and let people eat their dinner in peace. If you don't watch it, I'm gonna' give you a sedative and put you out," he grumbled. "It's the only way we'll get some peace around here."

A wry grin crossed Jim's face. "O.K. Bones, don't get violent; point taken. I'll go sit in the living room until everyone finishes." He gave Cedar an irrepressible wink as he went out.

The crew breathed a collective sigh of relief as he walked out, leaving peace, silence and hungry people behind him.

"Man thinks he's indestructible; wants to do everything himself and immediately; won't rest, won't eat, won't listen; always up to some dangerous fool stunt," McCoy growled under his breath until he caught Sarek's bemused gaze.

"He's an uncommon and dynamic personality," said Sarek eying the library door.

"Yeah, 'uncommon' all right, 'dynamic' for sure, but let me tell you, Ambassador, Sir, it's a full time job keeping that 'uncommon' man in one piece." McCoy was exasperated. "Between Spock and me, we've managed it so far, but sometimes I've practically had to pull rank as CMO and sit on him to do it, and he really really hates that."

"I would assume then, that Spock provides some logical balance for the forcefulness of Captain Kirk's personality," Sarek suggested. He admitted to himself some curiosity about the relationship between his son and the captain of the Enterprise.

"Logical balance? Well now, I suppose you could call it that," answered McCoy dubiously. "Heaven help me for admitting it, but to Jim, Spock is a lot more than 'logical balance." He's Jim's sounding board, his strong right arm, the lubricant that keeps that dynamic machine going when nothing else will. He and Jim keep each other on track; steady each other when the going gets really rough. And besides that, they're friends too, best friends. One big reason that Jim is so edgy and restless right now is Spock's not here to bounce things off of, to give him some answers to real tough questions, and to…quote the odds for him," he added. "I sure as hell can't do that for him."

"I see," said Sarek, thoughtfully. And strangely enough, for the first time he really did see. He finally understood the niche Spock had hewn for himself among these humans, and with the one he called Jim most especially. To his certain knowledge, extrapolated from Amanda's always meticulous reports to him garnered from Spock's weekly letters to her, Spock had never had a friend on the Enterprise in the eleven years he served under Captain Pike. Now, after three years under James T. Kirk, he seemed to have acquired several of them, and apparently, all devoted to him. Sarek had to admit to himself that he found this fascinating.

Uhura's gentle dark hand came to rest over McCoy's. "You do a lot of other things for Captain Kirk, Leonard. He couldn't get along without you, and you know it." She smiled into the blue eyes and squeezed his hand, "None of us could."

McCoy retuned the pressure and gave her a tired smile. "Yep, I know that. The whole damn ship would fall apart without this good ole' country doctor to patch you all up."

Jim's sandy head peeked out from the living room. "Everybody finished? Is it safe to come out now?" he asked mischievously of McCoy. The smile that could light up a dark room like a photon torpedo was aimed at the doctor.

"For Pete's sake, get in here," said the doctor scowling at him. "Let's get this strategy meeting started before you drive us all crazy."

"Preliminary strategy meeting, Bones," corrected Kirk, poking the doctor playfully in the ribs. "Shall we all go into the living room? There's more room in there."

Sarek, McCoy, Scotty and Uhura sat on the couch. Chekov, Kyle, Riley, Chapel and Cedar found places on the floor. Admiral Nogura came in quietly, waved a hand for everyone to stay at ease, and pulled up a chair and sat down. All eyes turned expectantly to Jim as he stood before them.

"Ladies and gentlemen, this is a preliminary strategy meeting. Tomorrow morning at 0800, we'll meet again along with the addition of the Director of Parks and Recreation, Ambassador Dizchard, Lieutenant Sulu, and possibly others. By now I'm sure you're all aware that the hostages are being held at Alcatraz Park. To go in there to free them safely without loss of life will be a formidable and very dangerous task. For this reason, and because officially all of you are on shore leave and not on duty, anyone wanting to decline this mission may do so without prejudice to your record."

No one said a word.

Jim looked at his people and let the gratitude show. "Thank you, it's no more than I expected from the best crew in the Fleet. Ambassador Sarek will talk to you now. Sir?" Jim moved away and gave the floor to Sarek.

Sarek stood, his face impassive before the group. "Precisely at 1000 hours, three days from today, the Federation Council will convene to vote on the Orion question of admission. I anticipate the session will last 5 hours excluding the designated break for lunch. The time frame is inclusive of speeches, resolutions, arguments for and against admission, and then the roll call vote. The hostages must be freed before I am called to the floor for my speech and roll call vote. The members will speak in alphabetical order, so I will be last. Since this issue is so important, the Council session and the roll call vote will be telecast throughout this sector. Retz and his warriors will most assuredly be watching the proceedings from their headquarters. It is my belief that they will congregate together in one of the rooms to watch the voting proceedings, therefore it is at this time that we must rescue the hostages. There is no margin for error within this time frame." His dark eyes rested on each of the crew members; each of them met his look steadily.

Sarek continued; his voice so calm he might have been discussion the weather. "Two hours before the Council session, at 0800 hours, I will receive a transmission from Retz. I will have an opportunity to speak with Spock and Amanda and determine their physical and psychological condition, and also the child's," he added glancing at Jim. "It may be possible to obtain additional useful information during that time; however, great care must be taken as Retz has made the usual threats of killing the hostages if his security is compromised in any way."

"Admiral?" Sarek nodded to Nogura and sat down.

The Old Man stood at attention, ramrod straight. "We must maintain secrecy at all costs. Admiral Castillo is personally conducting a very discreet internal affairs investigation to determine where, when and by whom the intelligence breach occurred. If and until his investigation is finished, we will not use any additional personnel other then the Enterprise crew; it would be far too risky. Captain Kirk has been given full authority and discretionary powers to do whatever is necessary to rescue the hostages. Captain?"

"Thank you, Admiral." Kirk consulted his pad. "We have some additional information on the Orions from medical and science. Nurse Chapel, if you please?"

"Yes, sir." Christine Chapel stood and read from her report. "This is preliminary only; we'll have more information for you tomorrow. First: Retz' splinter group has about ten to twelve warriors, age 19 to 30, all fanatically devoted to him and to their cause. Second: all warriors receive extensive training in armed and unarmed hand to hand combat; they are strong and very well conditioned. Third: standard warrior weaponry, always carried on their person by the way, consists of a small machete type knife, a suicide capsule in the event of capture, and a phaser or more properly a disrupter similar to a Klingon weapon. The phaser has two settings, Disrupt or Kill. It's usually set on Kill. Fourth: the Orions are humanoids, strength and power commensurate with earth humans of equal training and fitness levels. Last: all warriors are male."

Nurse Chapel looked up from her pad. "That's all I have for you right now. I have our staff working full time trying to find out anything more that might be of value and give us an edge."

"Thank you, Christine." Kirk looked at his crew. "Ladies and gentlemen, we have our jobs cut out for us. Are there any questions?" He looked around at the intense faces. "No? Then we'll meet again tomorrow for a more detailed briefing and assignments." He smiled ruefully, "I would advice all of you to try and get a good nights sleep. It won't be so easy to do that after tomorrow. I thank you; you are all dismissed and good night."

As the crew left to their respective quarters, Jim turned to Cedar Adams. "Cedar, may I speak with you for a moment?"

She nodded, eyes questioning.

"Cedar, I don't want to impose on you more then we've already done, but I must ask you to stay here with us until this is over; it would be safer for you, for us, and for the hostages. Are you willing?" Jim asked her, intent hazel eyes fixed on her face.

Cedar looked around at the faces waiting for her answer. In her heart she knew she could not leave without finding out about Tarz; she cared too much for him. Nor could she find it in her kind heart to add to Captain Kirk's worry by saying no. "Yes, Captain Kirk, I'll stay. But what about my job? I'll probably be fired for not showing up at work," she said worriedly. "I can't just walk out of my job, it's totally irresponsible and besides I really need my job."

Admiral Nogura, listening, said, "Don't worry, child, I'll take care of that myself." Then embarrassed by her sweet smile and slightly flustered by her fervent, "oh thank you, sir," he harrumphed and hurriedly took his leave.

Jim saw him to the door.

"Nice child, that, don't want to disrupt her whole life just for doing us a service," he told Kirk.

"Yes, sir," said Jim, keeping his face very still and his eyes on the door. "Good night, Admiral." He kept the grin off his face until the door closed. So, even the Ice Man melts when a pretty girl needs our help.

He went back to the living room where Sarek was taking his leave of McCoy and the others. Jim collapsed wearily on the couch. His adrenaline high had finally run down; he felt totally exhausted.

"I will take my leave of you also, Captain Kirk," said Sarek. "Please do not get up; I will see myself out," he looked down at Jim's exhausted face.

But Jim roused himself and got unsteadily to his feet. "Good night, Ambassador, I'll see you in the morning, and thank you." It was at times like these that Jim wished Vulcans shook hands.

"No thanks are necessary, Kirk. Good night, rest well." He walked to the front door and closed it softly behind him.

McCoy bustling around in the kitchen came in with a glass in hand. "Drink this, Jim."

"What is it, Bones?" Jim stared suspiciously at the glass. "I don't want it, whatever it is."

"Just some warm milk with some vitamins and a dash of rum in it. It will relax you a little and help you sleep. Come now, drink it up."

"I don't need it, Bones." Jim cast a desperate glance at Uhura, who studiously ignored it. "I'm so tired that I'll sleep like a baby, I promise."

"In a pig's eye, you will. You've had four hours sleep in thirty-six hours, but I know you. Your head will touch the pillow and you'll start thinkin' and tossin' and turnin' all night. You either drink this or I'll give you a sedative. It's your choice. What's it gonna' be?"

Jim eyed McCoy's determined face, saw he meant business and drank the horrible concoction. It tasted just as vile as he had imagined.

He yawned widely and he hoped convincingly. "Good night, Bones, Uhura, Cedar," he said heading for the library. "See you in the morning." He cast one more glowering glance in the doctor's direction and firmly closed the door.

Uhura looked dubiously at McCoy. "Do you think he'll really sleep, Leonard? He looks absolutely exhausted."

"I'll check on him in a little while. If he's not asleep I really will give him a hypo, or we'll try one of those famous lullabies of yours, Uhura."

"Well, call me if you need me. Good night, I'm off to bed. Cedar, let's find you something to sleep in. These San Francisco nights are cold."

"Good night, Uhura, Cedar. Both of you sleep well."

Leonard McCoy pulled off his boots, pulled up a medical journal on his pad and lay down on the couch. He would keep watch until he was sure Jim was asleep. He thought about the many times he and Spock had shared this kind of watch over Jim and decided he missed that computerized logic board of a Vulcan more then he thought possible.

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