Star Trek TOS: Sins of the Apostates

Sloth

“Sloth is defined as spiritual or emotional apathy. [...] Religious views concerning the need for one to work to support society and further God’s plan and work also suggest that, through inactivity, one invites the desire to sin.” (Wikipedia)


Kirk couldn’t find him anywhere. He’d searched for him in sickbay, but it wasn’t his shift, which Kirk knew of course, but often enough Bones was in his sickbay when he actually didn’t have to be there. Only now he wasn’t. He hadn’t been in his quarters either. When no one had answered the door chime, Kirk had even used his override code, somewhat guiltily, but still, he was the captain and also worried about his CMO. But it had been empty. He hadn’t seen Bones in the last two days, ever since they had left Meriah Five.

He hadn’t seen him on the bridge, in the rec room, or the mess, and also Spock had had no idea about his whereabouts. “I believe the doctor wants to be left alone, Captain.” Yeah, Spock, you’re a genius, Kirk had thought. If he wanted to be alone every now and then, then of course he had a right to. But Kirk was worried that Bones would work himself into such a dark and moody depression that he would be brooding until the end of their 5-year-mission which was, of course, not too far in the future. But he missed him.

Bones was actually the only person on board with whom he could have a drink and talk about all the things that where on his mind. Spock didn’t drink, and what was worse, he always wanted to solve problems. Usually, that was something he valued much about Spock, however, sometimes, he just needed to tell someone how very overrated life was in general.

Complaining and whining was something he usually didn’t do, but when he did it, he didn’t need someone who pointed out to him, how he exaggerated, or what he could do to make it all better in a second. He wanted that person to agree.

Well, they’d talk, and have one or five glasses of whiskey, or Saurian brandy, or whatever, share some good stories, have a good laugh together and the next day, he’d wake up feeling all better - except for the headache, but Bones almost always made sure to leave some of his famous pills on his desk to take care of that too.

He was tired. And he was sure that Bones was too. After all, it had been Bones who had been assaulted by that Meriahn, and who had only just recovered. He’d said he was okay, but he almost always said that about himself, even if it was obivious to everyone else that he wasn’t.

Where are you, Bones? Maybe Scotty had an idea. He wandered off to the engine room. Of course he could call Bones over the intercom, or have him located by security, but that didn’t seem to be fair. If he wants to play hide and seek, then he’s got me hooked. It gave him something to do.

Surprisingly, he found him. They were in Scotty’s office looking at a plan of the Enterprise’s interior on a screen.

“Jim! Did you know the Enterprise had a sweet spot?” Bones seemed excited. It made Kirk smile.

“Only if the artificial gravity doesn’t work 100%!” Kirk answered and looked questioningly at Scotty. The old spaceships all used to have this spot, where there was no gravity and where you could float and relax and dream about a better future, when technology would have become so efficient that these sweet spots would be extinct.

“Oh, it does, Captain. Only, I have to do some maintenance work on the generator before we reach Starbase 3, and the artificial gravity could be affected to a small degree.”

McCoy snorted. “Scotty must overhaul the whole ship before we return to Earth, so that the people in the space dock don’t get the chance to mess with his bairns!“

“Aye, those people don’t know them as well as I do. You wouldn’t leave a patient of yours in foreign care that easily, now would you, doctor?“

“Oh, I would. If that care was given by the best trained professionels in the quadrant, working in the best equipped facility of our times ..., and if I were about to go on a long, well-deserved vacation …, yeah, I think I would be happy to desert all my patients.“

“Right.“ Scott smiled exchanging a knowing look with Kirk which slightly irritated McCoy, so Kirk quickly turned to Scotty again.

“So, where will artificial gravity be affected?”

“Right here.” Scotty pointed to an area on the plan.

“That’s cargobay 1.”

“Aye. It will not disturb anyone or anything. Cargobay 1 is empty at the moment.”

“How long will it take?”

“An hour or two. But it won’t be for another two or three days. I have to make preparations.”

“Right. Just warn me, before you do it,” Kirk said, watching Bones who seemed to look disappointed. Then, as an afterthought, he added: “And make sure to warn us, when gravity will be restored again, also.”

“Be glad to, Captain,” Scott chuckled, then nodded, and left to do something in the engine room.

“Here you are!” Kirk said to McCoy, who looked absolutely his normal self. If not, then he seemed to be in a better mood than normally.

“Yeah, Scotty told me about that maintenance work. And I came here to find out where that sweet spot is going to be.”

“Bones, I didn’t know you could get so excited about something like this!” Kirk was surprised, but pleased. He had prepared himself to work on lifting his CMO’s spirits, but roles had been reversed.

“Are you kidding? The prospect of zero gravity was actually what made me join Starfleet!”

“Only, we have artificial gravity on all our vessels.”

“Yes, but it is more likely to come across such a sweet spot when you’re a doctor on a spaceship than when you’re a country doctor in Georgia.”

“What’s so special about it?”

“Don’t tell me you don’t know! It’s like being drunk, only you won’t have a foul taste in your mouth and a headache the next day. You can float around, and you and all your burdens weigh nothing.”

“What burdens?” Jim asked, feeling concerned again.

“Jim, don’t give me that. It has been a long week ...”

“I’m just concerned. Can’t I be concerned for my friend?”

“You can. But it won’t change anything. Moreover, I’m usually the one who does the being concerned thing.”

“So? Now you know how it feels to be on the other side.”

“I can’t say I like it. Though, I feel touched. Do you know what Spock did this morning?”

“Bridge to Captain Kirk.”

“Hold that thought,” Kirk said and went to the comm to answer the call. “Kirk here.”

“Captain, we’re receiving a distress call from the P’Jem.”

“I’ll be right there. Kirk out.”


The P’Jem was escorting the Romulan ship back to Romulan territory, They had the Vulcan flu on board, which had killed about a third of the crew and incapacitated most of the remaining crew members. Commander Tamulok had not been the most grateful when the Federation had helped them fight the disease, but he had accepted to be escorted back, nonetheless.

Kirk had suspected them to try to self-destruct or at least die fighting. Maybe he had overestimated Romulan pride. However, when he heard about the P’Jem’s distress call he just knew she had to have been attacked by the Romulans.

“The distress call is automated, Captain. We don’t know any details,” Uhura reported when Kirk entered the bridge.

“When can we get to them?” Kirk asked.

“They’re in the Neutral Zone. We can arrive there in an estimated 5 hours and 58 minutes at maximum speed.”

“Do it. Any other signals from that area, Spock? Any Romulans?”

“No, Captain. The only other ship our sensors detect is the Romulan scout that the P’Jem was escorting. Both ships seem to be intact, they’re in orbit of a planet.”

“What planet?”

“Unknown, Captain. The planets in that area of the Neutral Zone have not been mapped, yet.”

“So, there hasn’t been a fight?” Kirk asked, surprised.

“It does not seem so. However, sensor readings at this distance are not fully reliable.”

Kirk nodded. Curious. The P’Jem was a Starfleet vessel with a mostly Vulcan crew. Her captain, Saluk, was a cold and arrogant son of a bitch, he’d thought. Of course, Bones had said that he was only being a typical Vulcan, but Bones hadn’t known all the facts.

Kirk had had to make a few calls to Starfleet Command to make Saluk back off and refrain from sending that iceberg T’Plok, one of the Vulcan medical officers, over to evaluate the mental state of Enterprise’s chief medical officer.

Bones didn’t need yet another person to mess with his mind. He was alright, Spock had said so. And although Kirk considered Spock a very good friend of Bones’, even if it wasn’t that obvious most of the time, he knew that Bones hadn’t particularly enjoyed his mind-meld with Spock. However, it had helped their doctor recover from the mind rape, and there was no need for further “evaluation”.

Of course, it could be dangerous for all of them if Bones wasn’t 100% his normal self and had a nervous breakdown or something like that at a critical moment. Sometimes the lives of an entire starship crew depended solely on its medical staff. Spock knew that, and Bones sure as hell knew that as well. They’d both claimed he was fit for duty, which was enough for Kirk. He trusted them both with his life, and what was more, with the lives of his crew, also.

When Starfleet had finally ordered the P’Jem to escort the Romulans back to their territory, he’d been relieved, they had got rid of the Romulans and the Vulcans that way. However, now it seemed as if they were about to meet again.

“Lieutenant Uhura, have you tried hailing the Romulans?” Kirk asked.

“They’re not answering to our hails, sir.”

“Are they sending a distress call?”

“No, they’re silent.”

Kirk pursed his lips. Well, we’ve still got a few hours, we’d better use them.

“Kirk to sickbay.”

“M’Benga here, sir.”

“Doctor, we’re answering a distress call from the P’Jem. We don’t know the nature of the emergency yet, but prepare for casualties, mostly Vulcans ... possibly also Romulans! We’ll be arriving at the given coordinates in about 6 hours.”

“Understood, sir.”

“Kirk out.”

They would start preparations and Bones was probably already on his way to sickbay again. Whatever awaited them, they needed to be fully alert.

“Gentlemen,” Kirk took a look around the bridge and his eyes settled on his communications officer, “and lady, ...” She smiled back. Being the only “girl” on the bridge, at least most of the time, had its advantages. Everyone tried to be charming, including, maybe even especially, her captain. “Keep your eyes and ears open, I don’t want to run into the Romulan fleet, an ion storm, or whatever else it was that attacked the P’Jem.”

“Maybe they weren’t attacked. Maybe it is a technical problem, or a medical emergency?” Chekov speculated.

“No.” Kirk answered and left his seat.

“Why are you so sure, Captain?” Spock asked him.

“A gut feeling,” Kirk answered. “Lieutenant, call me in five hours. I will take a short rest.”

“Yes, sir,” Uhura replied. But she was sure she wouldn’t have to. The captain would be on the bridge again in three hours, if not earlier. Although he’d had a full shift behind him, he probably wouldn’t be able to find a lot of sleep, until this mission was over.


Kirk felt uneasy when he approached sickbay. At times like these, he was only in their way most of the time. The medical staff would be in “emergency mode” functioning with efficiency and communicating with words and phrases that were a complete different language to him. Usually, he would just let them do their work. But once again, he was concerned. Bones would do great as always, of that he was sure, he just hoped it wouldn’t prove to be too much for him when the crisis was over.

He caught him in the corridor.

“Shouldn’t you be on the bridge?” McCoy asked, as they hurried to sickbay together.

“We still have a few hours. I thought I’d get some rest.”

McCoy stopped and turned to look at him. “Look, Jim, I really appreciate your concern. But: I ... am ... alright. Really. Now, I know you’re lying when you say that you want to go to sleep when there is an emergency coming up. What surprises me, is that you don’t know that I know.”

Kirk studied the floor. He really had intended to go back to the bridge after a little talk with Bones. You’re more of a mind reader than you care to know, Bones.

“Sorry. I ... you just scared the hell out of me on Meriah Five, Bones. I only want to be a good friend, that’s all. I know I haven’t been the best friend lately.”

“What are you talking about? If it hadn’t been for you, I’d probably be on that Vulcan ship going to some Starfleet mental asylum.”

“It was Spock who helped you, not me.”

“I was talking about that Vulcan doctor and the mental evaluation thing. If she’d melded with me, I swear I would have fought her and gone nuts again.”

Kirk blinked. How did he find out about that? “You weren’t nuts. You were confused, because someone had raped your mind. And I didn’t help you, but yelled at you to leave the bridge.”

“So? You were right, it would have been better for me if I’d left.”

“And I lied to you, when you woke up in sickbay.”

“Only because you didn’t want to hurt me. M’Benga even advised you to keep your mouth shut.”

“And I even thought about making you feel guilty, so that you’d consent to the mind meld with Spock.”

“And? I often think about giving Spock a hypo that knocks him unconscious in mid-sentence. But I haven’t done that - so far.” His mind wandered off to the botanical gardens on Meriah Five where Spock had found him and had actually pulled him up against his chest, promising him that he was safe. He exhaled.

“Jim, I’ll tell you what I remember about this whole, Meriah ordeal: You, desperately trying to convince me that it was not my fault that the Meriahn stole sensitive Starfleet information from my brain. You being there when I woke up in sickbay. You carrying me from the bridge to Spock’s quarters. You wiping the tears from my face and promising me to go with me on holiday wherever I wanted. Your heartbeat in my ear, keeping me calm and focussed while Spock performed the mind meld. And you coming to my quarters with a tray of dinner and keeping me company until I fell asleep again.”

Kirk opened his mouth to say something. But decided against it. Instead, he closed it again, smiled and nodded. Bones didn’t like talking about that “Meriah ordeal” or any other ordeal which hadn’t gone well for him, he just wanted to forget. What he’d said was the most he’d ever talked about it and probably ever would, and only for his sake. He’d come here to be a good friend, and now Bones had only convinced him that he was a good friend, forgiving, and knowing him better than he knew himself.

“What did Spock do this morning?” Kirk decided to change the subject. He was curious to know what Spock had done. He knew that Spock was concerned for Bones as well. But Spock just observed and let him alone. Patience, it was a Vulcan virtue, or maybe just Spock’s.

“He asked me if I had any disturbing dreams.”

Kirk just shrugged his shoulders. For Spock it was an unusual question to ask, but not completely out of the ordinary, it just showed that Spock cared for Bones’ well-being.

“Yes, not too unusual, I know. But when I said I hadn’t any dreams at all, he started to tell me about his dreams.”

Kirk frowned. “I thought, Vulcans didn’t dream.”

“I don’t know, Jim. I’m suspicious that he just invented something to get me to talk to him. It was most strange. I try to avoid him. It’s weird to be around him when he’s all caring and nice.”

“Don’t be too hard on him.”

“Well, I’m sure he will start arguing with me again, soon.”

“You mean, he always starts?”

“Of course. I’m all for peace and harmony, Jim. You know me.”

“Hm, this side of you seems to be a bit hidden, when you’re with Spock.“ Kirk smiled. He gave Bones a pat on the shoulder when he turned with huff to go to sickbay.

For a while he stood there in the corridor, thinking. Spock did not dream, at least he didn’t think so. But what was more, Spock did not invent stuff to make people talk. It was like lying, wasn’t it?


“I can detect no life signs, Captain. Neither on the P’Jem nor on the Romulan scout,” Spock said. Both ships stood peacefully in orbit of the equally peaceful looking class M planet, there were no signs of a fight, and no signs of a civilization on the planet.

“Life support is functioning?”

“Yes, Captain.”

“Alright. Uhura, call Doctor McCoy to the transporter room. We’re beaming over to the P’Jem. Mr. Spock, you’re with me.”

Kirk was on his way to the turbolift when he gave the order. He was concerned, but also somewhat excited. Once more the three of them would make up a landing party. Some of the things he enjoyed the most about his job as captain of the Enterprise were the adventures he had with the two men who had become his best friends. They were good at what they did, although sometimes it was dangerous and missions didn’t always go as planned. However, so far it had all ended well. He only feared the day when it wouldn’t, when one of them would lose his life, but on the other hand, he was an optimist. It will always end well.

“Captain, ...,” Spock’s voice held a warning tone.

Kirk turned, already in the turbolift to face Spock. “Yes?”

“I advise to leave Dr. McCoy on board the Enterprise.”

Kirk looked at him in surprise. Spock entered the lift and continued talking after the doors had closed. “The doctor has not yet fully recovered from the attack on Meriah Five. He seems to be - stressed out. Him being with the landing party would risk his health as well as the successful outcome of our mission.”

Kirk chewed his lower lip. He had only just convinced himself that Bones was alright, and now Spock was voicing his concerns? Spock isn’t a psychologist, he is merely being overprotective, he decided, thinking about the story McCoy told him a few hours ago, about Spock wanting to discuss his dreams this morning. “Really, Spock, I think a little diversion is just the right therapy for our good doctor.”

Spock bowed his head and didn’t say anything further.


They materialised in the transporter room of the P’Jem. She was smaller than the Enterprise, so it did not take them long to arrive at the bridge. On their way there, they encountered nothing unusual.

The bridge was deserted. The automated distress call was still active. Kirk turned it off and then he went over to the captain’s chair, looking for any sign of a fight, violence, damage, whatever, but he could find nothing.

“Jim!” McCoy stood at the helm console holding up a plate. There was a half-eaten donut on it. With pink glazing.

“Is that what I think it is?”

“Didn’t you say the crew of the P’Jem was mostly Vulcan?”

Kirk nodded walking over to McCoy and took a look at the plate. He would have laughed, if it hadn’t been so strange.

“Well, I think their protocol is a bit lax, don’t you? At least, I’ve never seen anyone eat pastry on the Enterprise’s bridge before.”

“The captain often drinks coffee, doctor. And maybe one of them was a diabetic and needed something to keep up his blood sugar.” Spock didn’t seem to be too surprised.

“Diabetic?” McCoy raised his eyebrow and looked at Spock as if he’d gone mad.

“Mr. Spock, let’s listen to the last entries of their computer log!” Kirk needed to know what had happened here. Where was the crew?

“Yes, Captain.” Spock was standing at one of the consoles, pushing buttons, trying to activate the computer log.

“The computer log contains no entries,” the voice of the computer provided.

“What?” Kirk was confused. This was impossible, unless someone had deliberately deleted the log entries.

“The computer log is empty,” Spock said.

“We understood, Spock. What Jim meant was: How is that possible?” McCoy was eyeing Spock now with a mixture of curiosity and suspicion. Something wasn’t right.

“Somebody must have deleted all entries,” Spock concluded staring back at McCoy.

“But who? Or better, but why?”

“Is there a way to retrieve the lost entries, Mr. Spock?” Kirk was becoming impatient.

“I can try.”

“You do that. Bones, let’s take a look at their sickbay. Maybe there was some kind of medical emergency that their doctor recorded.”
“If that wasn’t deleted as well,” McCoy mumbled, following Kirk off the bridge.

“Well?” Kirk asked the doctor on their way to the P’Jem’s sickbay.

“Well, what?”

“There’s something on your mind.”

“Other than the mystery at hand? No.”

“What do you make of it, then?”

“I don’t know. I think he’s maybe stressed out.”

“What? You mean Spock?”

“Don’t you think he’s acting a bit, I don’t know, off?”

“Funny that you say that. I was talking about the mystery of the P’Jem’s missing crew.”

“Right. I don’t know enough facts, yet.”

Kirk looked at his CMO in surprise. “You just sounded like Spock, there.”

“I did not.”

“You now, on the Enterprise, he voiced his concern that you were a little stressed out.” Kirk didn’t tell him that Spock wanted Bones to stay on the Enterprise, he’d just take offense.

“There you see that something isn’t quite right.”

They arrived at sickbay’s doors. Kirk nodded to McCoy to stand behind. He had a strange feeling suddenly and wanted to be cautious. The doors opened with the normal “swoosh”. Kirk saw the empty bio-beds, and relaxed just a bit. Then he heard Bones let out a gasp behind him, and out of the corner of his eye he saw him move past him into sickbay, already kneeling down. That’s when he looked at the floor. There were people lying there, obviously dead, but Bones was nonetheless going from one body to the next scanning them with his medical tricoder.

Bones could be an amazing optimist at times, Kirk thought. It was hopeless. Not only had the sensors of the Enterprise told them that there were no living beings on board, but from just one look at the bodies and the amount of blood - red blood - on the floor, he could tell, they were as dead as a person could be. They had been stabbed. Two, no, three of them. Two men and a woman. Humans, probably all humans that had been part of the otherwise Vulcan crew.

“What did you find, Bones?” Kirk saw the doctor frown at some readings on his medical tricorder.

Bones looked at him, with pain in his eyes. It made Kirk’s breath hitch. He’s seen so many people die, and these he didn’t even know. How can it still get to him that hard?

“They’re dead. And they died in the obvious way. But I have some readings that I need to analyse.”

Kirk nodded, then stepped around the puddles of blood to sickbay’s computer and pushed a button.

“The computer log contains no entries.”

Kirk looked at McCoy, who looked up at that. “They must have deleted everything, before they left.”

“Left to where?”

“The planet. Where else?”

Kirk took out his communicator. “Kirk to Spock.”

“Spock here.”

“Any luck with the computer log?”

“Negative, Captain.”

“Well, we’re getting back to the Enterprise. Meet us in the transporter room.”

“Yes, Captain.”

Bones had picked up the dead body of the nurse, and stood at sickbay’s doors waiting for Kirk.

“You don’t have to do that. We’ll send a team over to retrieve the bodies,” Kirk said. He felt a lump in his throat at the sight.

“I know, Jim. I want to do an autopsy, right away.”

Kirk nodded. “You didn’t know her, did you?”

McCoy snapped at him: “Why? Do you have to know people in order to feel sorry that they have been brutishly murdered?”

“Of course not.” He lead the way back to the transporter room.

Spock awaited them. When he saw the doctor and the captain arrive, the doctor carrying a dead woman, he did not move a muscle.

When Kirk took out his communicator and ordered Scotty to beam them back, Spock spoke to McCoy under his breath:

“Leave the body here.”

“Why?”

Before Spock could answer they already started to dematerialise.


The first away team searched the Romulan scout. Maybe they hadn’t deleted their logs. Uhura spoke Romulan, hopefully she could retrieve some useful information. Kirk had sent Scotty with her, who’d been on the Romulan scout to help with some repairs only a few days ago. Of course, he’d been under surveillance by the Romulans then. He’d been eager to go on board again, with now being able to snoop around everywhere he wanted. The sensors showed no life-forms on board. However, just to be sure, he had sent three security guards along with them.

The second away team needed to find the rest of the P’Jem’s crew - and the missing Romulans. They’d scanned the planet’s surface. 132 lifeforms had been detected, possibly the lost crew, very likely even, for there was no intelligent life on the planet elsewhere. The mystery was, why had they left their fully functional ships?

Since it was likely that some of them were injured, he’d requested McCoy to join the landing party, as well as Spock. Being Vulcan, no, half-Vulcan, he could connect with these people, at least he so suspected. Of course, Kirk would also go himself, he was just too curious to stay on board. Besides, it would boost Chekov’s self-confidence, being in charge of the bridge. He’d make a fine officer out of him yet.

Kirk was waiting in the transporter room for his CMO and first officer to arrive. Bones had carried the dead body of that nurse to his lab and Spock had followed him on his heels. Strange. Spock was behaving somewhat like a mother hen around Bones.

Kirk shook his head. And Bones had complained to him that he was being overly concerned.

He wasn’t surprised when they both arrived at the same time. McCoy was a little ahead of Spock.

“Jim, I’d rather stay here,” he said straight on when he saw Kirk waiting for them.

“What? Why?” McCoy never wanted to stay behind. Most of the time he had to invent something for the computer log to make him being a part of the landing party seem justified and logical. He didn’t mind. And except for that half-assed M5 computer no one had ever questioned his decisions about the composition of the landing parties. At least no one had ever voiced it openly.

“Well, for one, M’Benga is the expert on Vulcan physiology, not me.”

True, however, it had been McCoy and not M’Benga who had performed open-heart surgery on Spock’s father, which proved that McCoy at least knew where the Vulcan heart was. Maybe Bones didn’t feel quite himself yet?

“And?” Kirk searched McCoy’s face.

“I think I have found something important in that body.”

“What did you find?”

“A virus. Vulcan flu, if I’m correct, but not quite. It has mutated.”

“Well, the Romulans had the Vulcan flu on board and the P’Jem helped them contain it. Maybe the nurse got infected when she was aboard that Romulan scout?”

“That is possible. However, as I said, it is not quite the Vulcan flu.”

“Is it dangerous for us?”

“No, it is dead. And I believe it is not compatible to human physiology. It is highly unlikely that a human contracts Vulcan flu. However, humans can be carriers.”

“So it may be dangerous for Vulcans?”

“Yes. Look, I want to complete my analysis here. Let M’Benga join you, if he finds the Vulcans to be sick, it’s good to already know something about the pathogen.”

That sounded - logical. Kirk smiled to himself.

“Alright,” he said hesitatingly as he watched Spock who looked - what? Alarmed?

“Captain, maybe I should stay here as well. I could assist the doctor,” Spock said quickly, schooling his features back to looking only mildly concerned.

“Actually, Spock, that would be a good idea. If you go down there, you might contract whatever it is they have,” McCoy said, “and Jim, you be careful as well! We don’t know about the mutation of this virus. For a human, contracting Vulcan flu is unlikely - but not completely unheard of. So, be careful - no kissing!”

“Why, Bones, you make it sound like I’m some sort of hormone driven letch,” Kirk played being offended.

“Those are your words. Not mine.”

“That’s right. You said zero gravitiy is better.”

“I’m an old man, Jim. Bear with me. And more important: Listen to me!”

“Always, Bones. So, I’ll see you two when I come back.”

McCoy nodded, then left the transporter room, hearing Jim requesting M’Benga to meet him there. Spock was following him closely.

This case had become quite - interesting. He refused to use the word “fascinating”, not even in his thoughts. He had a feeling that this virus he’d isolated had something to do with the disappearance of the crews of the two deserted ships - and the murder of the four humans.

“Spock, there’s one thing I don’t understand,” he said when they’d arrived in the laboratory again.

“Only one?” Spock sounded too arrogant, even for himself, McCoy noticed, but decided to ignore it, for once. Other things were on his mind.

“The Romulan Commander said the Vulcan flu had killed a third of his crew.”

“Not Commander Tamulok, but Delihan said that,” Spock provided impatiently.

“Whoever.” McCoy felt a shudder go through him when Spock spoke the name of the man who had forced a mind meld on him, less than a week ago. “I just wonder where they contracted it. The Meriahn didn’t know the disease, so they must have had it from somewhere or someone else. Probably even Vulcans.”

“Probably,” Spock said indifferently, looking at the doctor with a coldness that made McCoy shudder again. What’s wrong with me? It’s not that Spock ever looks at me particularly affectionately, McCoy thought.

He stepped further away from Spock, to take a look at the computer screen, which showed the alien pathogen, and he found himself feeling more comfortable the more distance he put between Spock and himself. Don’t be a fool. Spock would never do anything hurt you. He tried to distract himself.

The virus on the screen was very similar to the virus that caused the Vulcan flu. Could be its brother, actually. Well, there’s a thought that could make Spock give me a speech about the inappropriateness of the metaphor, or comparison, or whatever it was.

He decided to start a conversation, in order to feel more at ease. “Spock, did you know, that a virus is generally not considered to be a life-form?”

“I do not agree with you.”

“Well, you rarely do, don’t you? However, I didn’t say, that I don’t consider a virus to be a life-form. A virus reproduces, doesn’t it? Not by itself of course, it needs living cells to do that for it, but I think that is just a smart trick. Now, often enough, even we let other people take care of our reproduction. Think of in-vitro insemination and incubators! Actually, you could say that, like a virus, we give our DNA to someone else who then fabricates our offspring. It is much more clever, since it bears less risk for the mother, don’t you think?”

“Do you have a point?”

“No. I’m just thinking aloud. It often proves to be useful,” McCoy said, studying the image of the virus, already having forgotten the hostility that he’d thought he’d sensed from Spock before.

“If the Vulcan flu virus mutated, then something went wrong in the fabrication of its baby.”

“This is not a deficient product,” Spock said, closing the distance to McCoy again.

“No, it isn’t, is it? I mean, if anything, it looks as if the Vulcan flu virus was its deficient offspring. This one looks, I don’t know, more complex, almost esthetically pleasing.”

“Yes.”

“Well, ...” McCoy started, and turned, only to find Spock standing behind him at such a close distance that their noses were almost touching, “we, uh, got to find a way to kill it, don’t we?”

“That will prove to be difficult for you.”

“You may be right. Of course, I could think of many ways to kill it, but they would probably kill its host, too.”

McCoy had stepped back just a bit, but Spock was still very near to him. He saw him swaying a little, his pupils were slightly dilated. McCoy reached out to steady him.

“You alright?”

“I need nutrition, I think my blood sugar is too low.”

Spock’s words spurred a chain of associations in McCoy’s brain. Sugar - sweet - sweet spot - zero gravity. He looked at the image again. This could work! Could it be so easy?

“Spock! That delicate structure! I think if we subjected it to a zero gravity environment, the viral envelope would possibly burst. Then, it ...”

He didn’t finish his sentence. Spock had gone a few steps back, but now he was holding a scalpel in his right hand, which was pointed at him. He was breathing hard, sweating a bit and, to McCoy’s relief, he seemed to be confused, not determined to kill ... yet.

“Is this what you dreamed about, Spock?” he asked. He remembered what Spock had told him this morning about that dream he’d had. It had involved a knife, and stabbing, and lots of blood. McCoy hadn’t given it much thought then, hell, he’d thought that Spock had invented it to get him to talk about his nightmares, which he didn’t have, actually. Unless of course this was one.

“You will not kill me. I will prevent it,” Spock said in a detached manner.

No, no nightmare. He wouldn’t wake up in his quarters ... maybe never again. “Did you kill the four people on the P’Jem?” he asked, not really sure who he was talking to. This is Spock, he won’t hurt you, he thought but he slowly took a step backwards. If Spock, or whoever was in Spock’s body, decided to attack, he was dead. He was no match for the Vulcan, even if Spock didn’t have that scalpel but only his bare hands.

“They deserved no better, just as you don’t,” Spock - no, it said, then started to approach him.

“Spock! Listen, you must fight it!” McCoy implored, looking his Vulcan friend into the eyes. God, he’s going to kill me! When he wakes up and realizes what he’s done, it will kill him. And then Jim will be all alone and get himself killed in some reckless away mission.

For a moment, everything stopped. Time seemed to stand still. He could briefly see recognition in Spock’s dark eyes.

Then he felt his back hit the wall.

Spock blinked. “Run!” he whispered, then: “Please, Leonard.”

He wanted to say so much. Like: I know, it’s not you. Don’t blame yourself. Or: Tell Jim, I would have enjoyed our trip to Yosemite. Or: Promise me, you’ll visit Joanna one day and tell her about our days on the Enterprise. Or only just: Goodbye, my friend!

But he couldn’t. All air seemed to have been sucked out of him. He felt no pain at first, just the absence of air. Then there was a thundering sound in his ears and his vision turned red. Blood red. He saw the scalpel, also blood red and silvery. Kind of nice, actually, so shiny. Pain exploded in his side and he felt the taste of blood in his mouth. Then, blessedly, his world slowly faded to gray.


Kirk couldn’t believe his eyes. They found all 132 people, Vulcans and Romulans, on the surface. They weren’t exactly sick, although that’s what M’Benga claimed they were.

“Their metabolism is way off, Captain. And they all have a slight fever.”

“And why are they just sitting there? They do nothing, except eating these pink fruit!”

“I don’t know. But they all have the Vulcan flu. Although they do not show any symptoms.”

M’Benga checked the readings on his medical tricorder for the hundredth time. It showed there was a virus in their system. A virus that looked like the Vulcan flu.

Kirk bowed down to Captain Saluk, who was sitting on a stone, now noisily slurping up the juice that the pink fruit in his hands was oozing.

“Captain Saluk! Do you understand me?”

The Vulcan looked up at him. Then slowly nodded.

“What happened? We found your ship, the P’Jem, deserted in orbit.”

Saluk just shrugged and started peeling small bits off the fruit.

It was an unusual sight. He remembered Spock once saying that Vulcans were careful not to eat with their bare hands. “Finger Food” was unknown in their cuisine, and even seemed vulgar from their perspective.

“What kind of fruit is that? Maybe it contains some kind of poison?” Kirk hypothesised pointing at the egg shaped pink fruit that grew everwhere on the ground and that every Vulcan or Romulan had picked and was nibbling at, being almost oblivious to their presence.

“Nothing that I can detect,” M’Benga said, running a scanner over one of the half-eaten fruit that had rolled from another Vulcan’s hands, “though I can’t say it is healthy. Too much sugar.”

Kirk shook his head. “You mean they’re going to get caries?” He hadn’t been prepared for this. Violence, death, illness or even murder, yes. But here were 132 Romulans and Vulcans having a peaceful picknick together on the grass. All had some pink juice on their hands, around their mouths and on their clothes, it would have been funny, if not for the vacant look in all their eyes.

“Not right away, of course. But I guess the high amount of sugar will only benefit the spread of the virus in their systems.”

Kirk opened his communicator. “Kirk to Dr. McCoy.”

Nothing.

Bones was probably occupied in the biochemical lab right now.

“Captain, there’s one thing about that virus.”

“What?”

“Well, if it is the Vulcan flu, the Vulcans here shouldn’t be affected. They should all have been vaccinated.”

“They are not showing any symptoms,” Kirk said, but he was not so sure. They were showing symptoms, only not the symptoms of the flu.

“Yes. But the virus is spreading inside their bodies at an amazing rate!” M’Benga looked at his scanner again.

“Well, Bones said this was some kind of mutation.”

“I would like to discuss this further with him.”

“Yes,” Kirk said and took out his communicator again. He needed to call the security team back to them so that they could beam to the Enterprise.

While Kirk spoke, M’Benga turned to take a blood sample from the Vulcan captain, whom he believed to be sitting peacefully on that stone behind him. He wasn’t there.

“Kirk to Enterprise.” He heard the captain, who was standing with his back to him, order Chekov to beam them up on his signal. The three security guards who were walking towards him suddenly shouted something, drew their phasers and started running.

What the ... out of the corner of his eye he saw Captain Saluk with a stone in his raised hand. He wanted to warn the captain, but only succeeded in letting out a yelp, before everything went black.

Kirk heard shouting, then a cry and the noise of something falling. When he turned he saw M’Benga lying in the grass with Saluk standing over him looking at the fallen man in mild curiosity. A Romulan who had been dully nibbling on the fruit just a minute before came towards him, others were following him. Like zombies.

A phaser beam hit the Romulan, another one Captain Saluk. Two of the guards came to a halt with their backs to M’Benga, shielding him in their middle. The third arrived at his side.

What brought this on? Kirk asked himself, already having ascertained their chances. 130 against four. No chance, even with their phasers.

“Now!” he shouted to Chekov over his communicator and felt the tingling sensation almost immediately.


The very moment after they had materialised on the platform, Kirk barked an order at the transporter chief to alert medical. He bent over M’Benga who lay prone on the platform beside him. Blood had started to trickle from his nose. Not a good sign, he remembered.

His hands stopped in mid air. Better not move him, he thought, though he itched to smooth out the odd angle at which the doctor was lying on the floor. He was still breathing, Kirk observed with relief.

“What happened, Captain?” It was Dr. Pulliam. She’d answered the call together with a nurse and an orderly.

“He was attacked. Hit on the head, I believe.”

The young female doctor ran a scanner over the deputy CMO.

Haven’t seen much of her, Kirk thought. He recalled McCoy saying about her that she was so young he tended to overprotect and underestimate her. But he’d been of the opinion that she was a brilliant doctor, only a bit ... how had he called it? Overly emotional. Well, Kirk knew another doctor of that caliber.

“We’re losing him,” she said, and her scanner made a noise that Kirk knew didn’t mean anything good.

“Set the vascular stabilizer now, we need to move him!” she said, waiting for the nurse, who was at least twice her age, to put the medical device on the doctor’s forehead until she injected him with a hypo.

“Alert Dr. Taylor, we need to operate at once,” she said to the transporter chief who immediately relayed the message.

Kirk moved out of the way and surpressed the urge to take the other end of the stretcher to which M’Benga had been transferred to. He would just stand in their way, he knew that, but he couldn’t help feeling that he had to do something.

He followed them to sickbay which had been prepared for an emergency. Dr. Taylor was already waiting and led the way to the operating room while Dr. Pulliam briefed him on their colleague’s condition.

Kirk brushed a hand over his face. He hated this. Of course it always hurt when one of his crew got injured in action, but when it concerned one of the medical staff he always felt extra sensitive. Not only did he owe them his life on more occasions than he cared to remember, but when things got rough, the whole ship depended on them. They had four doctors in total, and now two of them were occupied operating on the third.

That made him think about the fourth doctor. Where was he anyway? He must have heard the emergency call. It disgruntled him that McCoy hadn’t even asked what kind of emergency it was. This had nothing to do with having or not having faith in your staff, it just meant you cared.

He strode over to the biochemical lab, marching in, an angry remark on his lips, when his foot got caught by something on the floor, and he stumbled.

It was Bones. He was lying there in a heap, on his stomach, one arm was under him, the other was stretched out towards the door.

Kirk was on his knees beside McCoy in a nanosecond. There was a wetness on the floor. Something must have spilled, Kirk thought, gripping Bones by the shoulders and turning him around.

Blood. He could only gasp. Nothing had been spilled, it was blood! He could see it everywhere now, on the floor, the wall, the edge of the door, and all over the lower front of Bones’ uniform. It was coming from a deep wound in his side.

It shouldn’t be on the floor, it should be in his body. Kirk pressed down hard on the wound in a desperate attempt to keep the life saving fluid inside his friend’s body. He heard a crack, but didn’t pay much attention. Who cared for cracked ribs if Bones was bleeding out?

With the tip of his left foot he was able to kick at the door which then opened with its usual soft sound.

“Help!” he cried, already knowing that the two only people on board the Enterprise who could save Bones’ life were needed in the operating room.

“Oh my god!” It was a nurse’s voice coming from outside. She was holding her hands over her mouth in shock.

“Get a doctor!” Kirk shouted at her, “They’re in the OR!”

He looked into Bones’ face for the first time since he’d found him. It was ashen, he was sweating, frowning, and not at all peaceful.

“My god, Bones, please! Hang in there, you hear?”

Of course he didn’t, couldn’t. Maybe never again.

He heard commotion outside, Doctor Pulliam was coming through the door, stepping over Bones’ legs, kneeling down at the other side. She carried an emergency medical kit.

An orderly and the nurse who had alerted her were also there, carrying a stretcher. It had become very crowded suddenly.

Kirk critically eyed Dr. Pulliam. She was running the medical scanner over Bones’ body with one hand, while setting a hypo with the other. It didn’t look too professional, but it saved time he guessed.

She injected her patient with the hypo, then deposited her scanner on Bones’ chest, rummaging around in her emergency kit with her free hand and setting the hypo anew to give him yet another shot with the other. “I need more hands,” she mumbled, then put the hypo in her mouth to turn around and retrieve an instrument from the kit.

“Kee’ u’ the ’ressure on ’at ’ound, Ca’ain!” she said to Kirk, who only nodded looking at his friend’s face again.

Bones’ brow creased even more. No! He’s waking up! Jim thought. And although it should be a good sign, he felt horror at the thought of Bones waking up in this chaos with a hole in his body deep enough to swallow Mount Seleya.

Dr. Pulliam noticed too, but did not pay much attention. She only put a mask on his face, pressing down on it. In the other hand she was holding another instrument. Her knee was pressing down on McCoy’s shoulder. The hypo had gone to the nurse who was standing above her, waiting.

“Captain, when I say “now”, you will let go and move to his head to press the oxygen mask on his face.”

“I’m ready.”

“Good, keep him still, he must not move.”

“Understood.”

“Right.” She breathed to calm herself. “Now!”

Kirk let go and was awarded with a spurt of blood immediately coming from the wound. Dr. Pulliam said something, the nurse was moving and he couldn’t see the wound anymore. He forced himself to do as he was told, pressing down on the mask with one hand. He used the other hand and a knee to pin McCoy down, in case he should start moving.

He didn’t immediately, only his eyelids fluttered. Please Bones, don’t wake up just yet, he prayed.

Too late. Blue eyes opened, finding his almost instantly. They widened and he heard a small cough coming from under that mask.

“Don’t talk! - Don’t speak! Just take it easy!” he said, feeling a sense of deja-vu. Only on Minara there hadn’t been any blood.

A hand was tugging at his sleeve, weakly, but determined to make him remove that mask from his face.

“No, Bones. You need that!” He said, but for some reason he removed the mask anyway.

“J-Jim, that s-sweet s-pot ...,” he heard him whisper. Bones was hardly able to find enough strength to form the words, but his eyes spoke volumes. Kirk just couldn’t quite understand exactly what he meant, only that this was important.

Could these be the last words his friend was going to say?

“I know, Bones. All your burdens will float away.” He smiled at him, feeling his eyes sting.

“Y-You don’t under - stand!” There was a note of exasperation in that whisper. Then the pain must have hit him, because he was suddenly convulsing, scrunching up his face and weakly pushing against Jim’s hand.

“Shh, Bones, hey, hey! Just stay still. You’re okay,” Kirk knew he wasn’t much help from the look on Bones’ face.

He heard another hypo hiss and briefly turned to see one of the nurses nod at him. He nodded back gratefully. Bones led out a cry of pain which made something twist inside him.

“Shh, please. Just concentrate. What - what don’t I understand?” With the back of his hand, that was still holding the oxygen mask, he stroked over his friend’s cheek in order to distract him from the pain he was feeling.

Bones’ face was starting to swim before his eyes.

“Th - That virus. M - Must kill it.” Bones’ eyes were beginning to close again.

“Zero gravity! It will do the trick?” Kirk saw things fall into place.

“Y-You’re a gen - ius, Jim-boy.” Bones was looking at him with his eyes half closed, his face was almost white now, but he was actually smiling at him. “D - Don’t blame S - pock! - Tried, t-to warn me.”

“Please, Bones, you’re gonna be fine! Just stop talking!” Kirk begged, but he couldn’t bring himself to press the mask on his mouth again - just yet.

“G - Good - bye!” Bones breathed, and then his eyes turned up and closed at the same time.

He’s only lost consciousness again, Kirk was sure. It just had to be that way.

The mask had gone back to where it should be and he strained to hear another breath.

“Please, Bones, you’re gonna be fine! Just stop talking!” Kirk begged, but he couldn’t bring himself to press the mask on his mouth again - just yet.

“G - Good - bye!” Bones breathed, and then his eyes turned up and closed at the same time.

He’s only lost consciousness again, Kirk was sure. It just had to be that way.

The mask had gone back to where it should be and he strained to hear another breath.

“G - Good - bye!” Bones breathed, and then his eyes turned up and closed at the same time.

He’s only lost consciousness again, Kirk was sure. It just had to be that way.

The mask had gone back to where it should be and he strained to hear another breath.

He couldn’t. But he saw a small puff of the nebulized air coming from the mask.

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