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The Stars Move Still

By GilbertKarr

Mystery / Scifi

Chapter 1

"The stars move still, time runs, the clock will strike,The devil will come, and Faustus must be damned."

–Christopher Marlowe

Captain Kirk stood quietly with his hands in his pockets, gazing out of the starboard viewports in the forward observation lounge. The restless energy that was so much a part of Kirk's makeup made it impossible to be still, and he began to pace restlessly back and forth, down the length of the viewports. The quality of his pacing took on a military precision, one that seeped into the very fabric of the Enterprise. The engines even seemed to take on a higher pitched whine in response to the Captain's mood.

All over the Starship Enterprise, normally efficient departments shuffled into a higher degree of efficiency. Loose ends were tied up, the normal cleaning and maintenance schedule was forgotten as everything aboard ship was cleaned and polished, and then re-cleaned. Crew members on post stood a bit straighter than normal, and were even more attendant to their duties than usual. Even those members of the crew who were off duty made a point of calling in for assignments, or status reports, or simply resorted to cleaning living spaces that had already been cleaned over again. Collectively, the crew of the Starship Enterprise held its breath. Kirk was worried, and that fact was enough to worry the crew as well.

Kirk realized that his worry wasn't good for the crew, and he tried to stop it, but it was beyond his power to do so. He knew he wouldn't be able to stop until McCoy called and gave him a report on Chekov's condition. It was Kirk who had sent him down there, against his better judgment, Kirk who had asked him to bring up the rear, and it was Kirk who should have taken the brunt of the blast from the Klingon's energy weapon, but that wasn't what happened. It was Kirk they wanted, but they didn't care who they hurt, if Kirk wasn't available. The Enterprise had sent them running with a barrage of its own weapons, and Kirk, with the help of security and Dr. McCoy, had cleaned up the mess, and then beamed back aboard the ship. Now, Chekov's life hung in the balance, and Kirk was mentally kicking himself, and going over each of his actions with a fine toothed comb, trying to determine where he went wrong.

The doors of the observation deck slid open with a whoosh, and Kirk felt, rather than saw, a presence move up behind him in the darkness. "Captain, may I infer from your actions that you are concerned about Mr. Chekov?"

"Mr. Spock, how can you ask that of me? That should have been me in there, but it isn't."

"Captain, you must not blame yourself. You had no way of knowing that Keth would take exception to the fact that Mr. Chekov holds the position of Security Chief aboard this ship, and wanted to keep his men safe. The Klingon's actions were illogical."

"Of course his actions were illogical. He's a Klingon. I should have known that, and I should have anticipated this. The Klingon Commander will answer for his man's actions." He glanced sidelong at Spock. "Have you been down to sickbay?"

"No, Jim. Doctor McCoy said that he would inform you of any change. Logic dictates we allow the good doctor to do his work, and wait to hear from him when he is finished. You should rest, Captain. You'll do no one any good in this state, and I need not remind you what it says to the crew."

"I know, Spock." The first officer tilted his head ever so slightly, perhaps hearing the unspoken 'but' at the end of his Captain's words. Arching an eyebrow in the Vulcan approximation of a shrug, he asked, "Was there something else you planned to say, Captain?"

Some of Kirk's good humour was restored at that, and he said, "Nothing, Mr. Spock. I thought perhaps there was something you wanted to say to me."

"Indeed? What would that be?"

"Come now, Mr. Spock. We've known one another longer than that. I would expect you to tell me that worry is illogical."

"That it is, sir. However, I have had cause to be grateful for your bouts of illogical behavior in the past."

"Thank you, Mr. Spock."

"Jim, may I be permitted to say I think you should visit sickbay? You will not achieve any adequate measure of rest until you go, and Dr. McCoy gained more than one patient tonight, as I am sure you recall."

"I'm fine, Spock."

"With respect, sir, this is not a manifestation of 'fine' I have seen you exhibit before. 'Fine' for you usually means concealing a physical injury from the crew while imbibing in various forms of ethanol, and generally in the company of the good doctor. Are you intending to disappoint Dr. McCoy, Captain?"

"I am not injured, Spock. He won't be expecting me to come."

"Your injury and his expectations are both open to debate, sir. My responsibility, however, is not, and neither is my report. I do not yet know what it will say; I only know what I prefer it to say."

"On my way, Mr. Spock."

"That is a wise decision, Captain."

The sickbay doors whooshed aside barely fast enough to prevent Jim Kirk from running into them. He strode into McCoy's inner sanctum looking grim.

"Report, Doctor," he said, tersely. McCoy froze, his back to Kirk.

"There's no real change," McCoy said, carefully. "How are you?"

"Don't worry about me. I want to know your medical opinion of Chekov." Kirk's smile was tight, his eyes were narrowed, and his voice was hard.

"That well, huh? Here's my prescription. You look like you could use it." McCoy handed Kirk a glass, now watching him closely as he did so. Instead of drinking from the glass, Kirk slammed it down on the counter. "I don't need your two bit psychiatry, Doctor, or your prescription. I need to know what your prognosis is for Chekov."

"Chekov is holding his own, for the moment, Captain. That's all I can tell you."

"Are you a doctor or aren't you?"

"I'm a doctor, not a damned fortune teller. As for the prescription, that's medical orders, Captain."

"If Chekov dies, I am holding you personally responsible, Doctor." Unable to trust himself to say more, he stormed out of his CMO's office, and down the hall to his own quarters, where he sat, glaring at nothing in general.

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