All hell broke loose in the apartment. There had been very little time to react when the men appeared, but now some one screamed, a high hysterical sound, and there was pandemonium and the sudden babble of loud voices.
McCoy frantically pushed his way towards Jim. He saw that Kirk's eyes looked shocked and dazed.
"Bones, my God, they took Peter! Why, what do they want? Who are they? Bones, they have Peter!" Jim's face looked pale and stunned, his voice sounded bewildered. There was raw fear in his eyes too, fear for the child's safety.
"Jim, Jim, listen to me. Listen!" McCoy grabbed hold of his stunned captain and shook him hard. "I don't know what they want, but we'll get him back. Jim, I promise you, we'll get them all back. Jim, do you hear?"
Jim took a deep shuddering breath. He looked into McCoy's blazing blue eyes and after a long moment, slowly nodded his head.
McCoy's own hands were slippery with sweat, but he felt relief that the dazed, stunned look was gone from Kirk's eyes and awareness had returned.
Jim Kirk saw his own terrible anxiety reflected in the doctor's face, and he gripped McCoy's hands gratefully. Healer hands that communicated support and strength.
"I'm ok, Bones, I'm ok, Thanks." He shook his head as if to clear it, found it didn't help much and turned to the also stunned Nogura. "Admiral?" Jim questioned urgently, deferring to his commander.
He saw Nogura visibly pull himself together. "People!" Nogura's usually soft voice rang out with all the collective authority of Star Fleet behind it. "Quiet please! We need order, and we must stay calm and find answers to this outrage. Everyone please stay where you are until we can speak with each of you. We'll try to piece every scrap of information together until we have something, anything, to help figure this out."
He turned to Kirk. "Captain, can you organize your people to begin questioning everyone?"
Jim Kirk's years of command training reasserted itself as he thought furiously of ways and means. "Yes, sir, right away. Chapel, Scotty, Sulu, let's get these people organized into groups for questioning. Chekov, find a few tricorders and pads some where, ask Enterprise to beam some down if necessary. Uhura, set up a communications and command station link to the ship. Scramble it. Notify the Fleet Security Chief that any outgoing ships, barges, transports, anything that moves off this planet has to be searched bow to stern," he ordered rapidly. "And Uhura, 'need to know' only."
Admiral Nogura grimaced, he had not thought of that. It was very possible that the kidnappers might try to remove the hostages off the planet.
Kirk addressed the still stunned and waiting group. "No one is to leave this room until after you give your statement and you've received permission from either the Admiral or me. Is that understood?" Everyone nodded, relief in their faces. They all wanted to do something, anything to help.
Jim turned to Sarek, McCoy and the four Admirals. "Gentlemen," he said, "if we could find some place a little more private. I think we need some basic questions answered fast."
He led them into the library and closed the door on the noise and turmoil in the living room. The sudden silence was disconcerting.
Bones moved to pour a brandy from the flask Jim kept on his desk. "Here Jim, drink this. It's medicinal." Jim took it without protest and raised the glass to his lips. He noted dispassionately that his fingers were trembling and that he had to grasp the glass with both hands to drink it. The fiery liquid went down and gave a little warmth to his cold body.
He glanced at Sarek, who had remained silent and impassive throughout the incident. Sarek returned the look. "There is no shame, Captain, in your anxiety for your nephew. I, too, am concerned for the welfare of my wife and son."
Jim drew in a deep breath. "Sir, the only thing that's helping me right now is the knowledge that Peter is with Spock. No matter what, Spock won't let anything happen to Peter. I know that, I feel it!"
Sarek nodded. He had learned throughout his many years of association with humans, not to discount these 'hunches' that seem to appear out of no where. His own personal experience with Amanda had also taught him that these 'feelings' although illogical on the surface, were often rooted in the rational.
"Gentlemen, let's sit down. We have a lot of questions and I hope we can arrive at some answers." Jim pushed his terrible anxiety to the back of his mind. He must try to think clearly. "First of all, who the hell are these people and what do they want? Sarek, apparently it has something to do with you, that much I gathered from what the leader said to you. He singled you out right away."
"Yes, Captain, you are correct. If I may," Sarek responded. "I believe that these men are Orions. Once I heard the leader speak, I recognized the language as an obscure variant of the current Orion warrior dialect. It is archaic and has not been used in many centuries, so the Universal Translator was unable to render it into Standard. I could only understand a word here and there, as it is quite different from the formal Orion language."
Sarek spoke very quietly and calmly, but Jim could see the tension in his body and in the hard set of his jaw.
"So we know they're Orions. No wonder they were covered from head to foot, no green skin showing." Nogura said. "What else."
"We can also surmise that they have very advanced and expensive equipment. They were able to by-pass building security and beam five men, all at the same time, directly into the living room with pin point accuracy," said McCoy. "That's a pretty amazin' degree of accuracy. However, we have no way of knowing the range of their transporter. They could have come from anywhere and taken Peter, Spock and Amanda anywhere."
"Also, it's clear that they knew about the captain's party and that the Ambassador and Lady Amanda would be here. It's also obvious they knew the floor plan of your apartment, Captain, since they knew exactly where to beam in, and they know who you are, your name and rank. That, I'm afraid implies an efficient intelligence network, and a possible spy or spies within Star Fleet. Fleet staff records and home address are encrypted and are not ever public information," Admiral Castillo said angrily. "Whoever put this plan together is no amateur, we're dealing with professionals, and it was a perfectly executed plan, so I bet a lot of credits exchanged hands to get that information."
Jim wiped the beads of sweat from his forehead. He felt the knot of anxiety tightening in his stomach again, but forced himself to concentrate, pacing back and forth in the library.
"Bones, remember what Spock said earlier? That the Orion fanatic fringe specializes in piracy and kidnapping. He told us that they traditionally use these tactics to achieve their ends. I feel pretty sure that's who these men are….which also means that we're dealing with ruthless fanatics."
"Captain," Sarek said, "we must also assume I will be contacted again shortly. Whatever demands they have in mind, I feel sure they will communicate them to me quickly. The Orion said I would be instructed about what I was to do. I am sure it has to do with the Council vote on Orion Admission. As you are all aware," he added, "Vulcans do not negotiate with terrorists. It is a matter of policy as well as principle with us. Therefore, gentlemen, it is urgent that we rescue them as quickly as possible, before the Council convenes and before the Orions become aware of this and kill the hostages."
Admiral Nogura interjected softly, "Damn it to hell, it's Spock who is in the greatest danger. In situations like this it's the military hostages who are more at risk….," he stopped abruptly as he saw that dawning realization in Kirk's face.
That realization had also come to Sarek. Despite the impassivity of the Vulcan face, his eyes had a haunted look and his skin had paled to a greenish grey.
McCoy burst out angrily, "This is monstrous, what in the hell are we going to do?" He cast a glowering glance at Nogura, as if the Admiral were personally to blame for the situation. "Innocent people not safe even in their own homes. What is Fleet coming to for God's sakes, when it can't even protect its citizens in their own homes?"
A soft knock at the door interrupted his tirade.
"Come," said Jim.
"Sir," Uhura's compassionate face peeked in. "The communication station is set up, the guests have all gone through preliminary debriefing, and we're ready with the reports. Also, sir, I contacted Star Fleet Security; they report that no ship has left earth. They will search any ship scheduled for departure from now until ordered otherwise."
"Well, that's one piece of good news. That means that they're still on earth somewhere. Come in Uhura, let me see those reports."
She handed him his pad, and touched his arm softly. With her usual efficiency, Uhura had summarized and prioritized all the interviews. most to least important. While the others looked over his shoulder, Jim scanned the report quickly looking for more clues, anything that stood out, something unusual that one of the guests might have seen or heard."
"Look here, Sarek. One of the science people agrees with you about the language variant. He understands a little of the warrior dialect. Perhaps you can speak with him and between the two of you get as complete a transcript as possible of what was said," Jim suggested, "we might get lucky and get some more information."
Sarek nodded in agreement and left.
"Bones, the report says one of the men was left-handed, and that he limped badly. Perhaps an injury of some sort to the leg, or the right side of his body, since witnesses say he didn't use the right arm at all. See if you can get to the Fleet Medical Central computer and check for reports of Orion injuries in any Federation conflict. Maybe he was treated at a medical facility by a Fleet doctor or nurse." Jim felt he was grasping at straws, but it was better than nothing.
"But Jim, it will be like looking for a needle in a haystack," protested McCoy. "There must be hundreds of conflicts between Orions and Federation members, and Orions are not usually treated at Fleet facilities."
"Leonard, just do it!" Jim told him fiercely. "I don't want to hear any arguments." He passed his hand over his eyes. "We have to start somewhere, Bones, and Spock said the medical care on Orion is terrible, so it's possible that if he was injured he would go for medical help somewhere else."
McCoy looked at him, "Ok, Im going, but I'm a doctor not a detective," he muttered.
Kirk turned to Nogura, "Admiral, I suggest we set up a command post here. Any extra help that we need can come from the Enterprise or Fleet, but I trust my people as I do no others."
Nogura nodded. This was as good a place as any and the less people involved the better. Secrecy was all important and could be maintained better here then at Fleet headquarters. He worried that the press would get hold of the story and complicate the situation even more. All hell would break loose if the press got hold of the story.
"Captain, we need to talk to the guests out there. I'm sure they're very anxious to hear what's going on and they'll want to go home. It's very late, "said Admiral Rankin.
Jim looked startled. For a moment he had forgotten the party guests still waiting in his living room. He and the Admirals went back to the living room to face the anxious guests.
"People," Nogura's stern voice rose above the murmur of the crowd and a silence descended in the room as all eyes turned toward the Admiral. "We are going to let everyone go home now. You will all consider this an order. No one, I repeat, no one, is to discuss what happened here tonight either with each other or with anyone else. We must maintain secrecy at all costs. It would be very dangerous for the hostages to do otherwise. Is that understood?"
The guests, looking tired, pale and bedraggled in their wilted party finery, all nodded. As Star Fleet personnel, they were well aware of the ramifications of an act of terrorism. They were also very aware of the consequences of disobeying a direct order from the head of Star Fleet.
Jim added, "if anyone gets an idea, or you remember any thing else, no matter how trivial it may seem to you, please contact us immediately. If my crew will please stay, the rest of you are dismissed with my thanks for your help."
The crowd dispersed quickly and quietly. Some came up to Jim to touch him, to express their wish to help, to lend their support, their soft murmurs of sympathy easing the knot in his stomach a little.
Jim Kirk closed the door on the last of his guests and the three Admirals and turned to face his crew. They, too, looked drained, dispirited and worried, but he knew they would do whatever it took to find the hostages. They were his best, his friends; he would trust this mission to no one else.
"Admiral Nogura has agreed that we form a command station here. Scotty, get started on a link between the ship, Fleet, and here, and Scotty….be careful, 'need to know' only, we don't know where the security breach at Fleet is. Chekov, you and Sulu recruit some more crew. Chapel, you help McCoy with the medical search for the injured Orion. Uhura, you man the comm station. Riley, get on the horn to Fleet Transporter Station to see if you can come up with anything on that transporter. Get Kyle to help you. Before anything else, though, let's get back into our uniforms, please."
The crew scattered to change and start with their respective tasks and Jim turned to Sarek and Nogura. "Now comes the hard part; we have to wait for them to contact you, Sarek." Waiting, Jim thought. I've never been much good with waiting.
Sarek, Nogura, and Jim, faced each other and prepared to do the most difficult thing of all…wait.