Envy - An emotion that “occurs when a person lacks another’s (perceived) superior qualitys, achievements, possessions, or aspirations and either desires it or wishes that the other person lacked it.” (Parrott, W. G., & Smith, R. H. (1993). “Distinguishing the experiences of envy and jealousy.” In: Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 64, 906-920.)
Captain’s Log, stardate 6021,7: The Enterprise is on her way to Starbase 3 with the Vulcan ship P’Jem in tow. We have sustained damage in a fight with five Romulan warbirds, during which many crewmembers were injured, including Ensign Chekov, who has still not regained consiousness. Also, the doctors M’Benga and McCoy have been injured previously and so were unable to perform their duties. For that reason I have requested Captain Saluk of the P’Jem to send over a doctor of his crew to help out our medical staff.
Dr. T’Plok has proved to be an asset, and has worked with Dr. McCoy who has resumed his duty this morning. We hope that Dr. T’Plok will be able return to her ship when we have reached the starbase, where we will have to undergo repairs on our warp drive. Also, we’re hoping to pick up our helsman Mr. Sulu and head nurse Chapel, who were on shore leave, on the starbase.
Our passenger, the Romulan Commander Tamulok, has been strangely communicative, socialising with the crew. I have cautioned my officers not to talk to him too freely about the ship, Federation technology or politics. I do not trust Tamulok. My first officer Spock agrees, although he has spent much time with the commander, discussing Vulcan and Romulan history and myths. Spock is still convinced that we have found Vor-Ka-Ri, a legendary place in both Romulan and Vulcan mythology, in the Neutral Zone. He and Commander Tamulok hope to work out a strategy for proposing a treaty to the Romulan Empire that will allow both, the Federation and the Romulans, to investigate that planet in the Neutral Zone. I personally think that this will be extremely difficult and dangerous, since we have found out that the Romulans are in the middle of a civil war and we do not know which side is in power right now. What we also don’t know is, on which side Tamulok is, the five warbirds that we destroyed with the help of Commander Tamulok were rebel forces, however, their commander, Valdran, seemed to think that Tamulok was on her side.
I am looking forward to handing over Tamulok to the Vulcan delegation that will meet us on the starbase, as well as some well deserved shore leave.
Kirk stopped recording the log, and took a mouthful of cold coffee. He grimaced. Looking around his quarters, he felt a sense of restlessness. He didn’t like having to crawl to the next starbase on impulse speed, although they were back in safe Federation territory. And they were better off than the P’Jem that unable to move by herself.
That explosion had been massive. It had destroyed six ships, the warbirds and Tamulok’s ship. Kirk still couldn’t understand why Tamulok had sacrificed his own ship in order to save the two Federation vessels. Well, he wouldn’t complain. However, he was concerned about that new weapon which had caused this explosion: a generator that modified the shield’s frequency until it destroyed all ships with shields in the vicinity. Was it a new weapon developed by the Romulans? Or was it something that Tamulok had found on the planet that Spock suspected to be Vor-Ka-Ri?
“Sickbay to Captain Kirk!” It was the voice of Dr. T’Plok. She was another surprise: definitely Vulcan, but then again, strangely interested in human behaviour, and what was even more strange: she tried to emulate it.
“Captain, you wanted an update on Ensign Chekov’s and Dr. M’Benga’s condition.”
“Yes?” Kirk asked hopefully.
“There’s been no change,” she reported.
There’s been no change for a disconcertingly long time, Kirk thought.
“I’ll be right there, Doctor,” he said and grabbed his uniform.
“Captain, you will not alter the situation by your presence in sickbay, there is no ...” T’Plok’s voice came over the intercom.
“I know, Doctor,” Kirk cut her off and left his quarters.
“Now, why did you do that?” McCoy asked the Vulcan doctor vexedly.
“The captain ordered to be informed on the condition of the patients,” T’Plok turned to look at McCoy, who had cornered her at the intercom, his arms folded in front of his chest.
“If there was a change. But what good does it do to tell him that nothing has happened?” he stepped forward, trying to intimidate her, as he realized in some corner of his brain, and he also realized that he didn’t succeed, because T’Plok either just wasn’t able to feel intimidated (it was an emotion, wasn’t it?), or because she wasn’t able to read human body language well enough.
“He said: “Keep me posted.” And this is what I did, doctor,” she said, raising an eyebrow questioningly at her colleague.
McCoy took a step backwards again.
“Well, you are not familiar with human behaviour, or with our captain, T’Plok, or you would know, that by giving him your report, you just succeeded in increasing his concerns and making him come down to sickbay, although he should be resting.”
“I see. Doctor McCoy, I apologise for my mistake. It is increasingly difficult for me to understand human psychology. I’ve studied it, as I’ve mentioned to you before, however, I find the theory to be quite different from the practical experience. I am grateful for your insight on that matter.”
“What? Forgive me, doctor, but I was expecting you to put off human behaviour as illogical.”
“Humans aren’t as logical as Vulcans. That is their nature. If I am to be a physician for humans, then I need to know all about their behaviour and psychology. And I also find it quite fascinating.”
“You surprise me. I know a Vulcan who has an absolute aversion to any kind of emotions. I always assumed all Vulcans feel that way.”
“You are not completely false in your assumption, Doctor. However, as I consider myself primarily a psychologist, I believe that by studying human behaviour I can learn a lot about the Vulcan psyche as well.”
Bones looked up at that. She was a psychologist? He wondered if she was the one who had been assigned to mind meld with him. He took another step backwards, suddenly feeling intimidated himself.
“Really? Vulcans aren’t like humans. We are more guided by our emotions.”
“Yes, however, we Vulcans have the same emotions that you have. Only, they are stronger than human emotions. That is why we found it necessary to control and surpress them. Unfortunately to a degree, we therefore have lost our ability to understand our emotions. For me, as a psychologist, it is of great importance to understand these emotions, in order to help my patients.”
McCoy had put an empty bio-bed between himself and Doctor T’Plok. A Vulcan psychologist, strange, that, he thought.
“Are you trained in mental techniques?” he asked her. Thinking about the mental evaluation, that Starfleet Command had tried to enforce on him, after that mind rape. A Vulcan psychologist would have melded with him if Jim hadn’t intervened.
“Yes. But you need not fear me, Doctor. I understand what you have gone through. And I am grateful that the mental evaluation has been put off. Believe me, it is not something I ... enjoy doing, for I know it will probably cause pain. As a matter of fact, I also think this is quite a needless procedure, since you seem ... normal.”
McCoy felt increasingly uneasy, he just wanted to forget the incident on Meriah, and he didn’t like talking about it, not with his friends, and definitely not with a stranger, least of all a Vulcan psychologist who was able to invade his mind the same way that Meriahn had. And although what she had said was meant to reassure him, he began to feel threatened. Pushing away that emotion, knowing he was being a little paranoid, he mumbled: “Thank you.”
Thankfully, Kirk entered at that very moment, searching sickbay for Doctor T’Plok who had called him to inform him about the condition of two of his officers. He found her and McCoy who was staring her down, while gripping hard at the edge of a bio-bed that was between them. Oh-oh, I knew there was going to be trouble, he thought.
“Doctors? What can you tell me about M’Benga and Chekov?” Kirk approached them and suddenly realized that rather than anger, it was fear that eminated from McCoy.
Although Kirk kind of liked T’Plok, he had anticipated some problems. Minor disturbences that are inevitable when humans become involved with Vulcans. But, if he was correct, these weren’t minor disturbences. Had the Vulcan threatened McCoy? Kirk remembered with unease that T’Plok was the very doctor whom Starfleet Command had ordered to evaluate the mental state of McCoy by melding with him.
“As I said, Captain, there has been no change,” T’Plok repeated and tried to sound reassuring, but succeeded only in sounding as if she was talking to child.
“Doctor T’Plok, I came all the way down here to get a full report on the conditon of my officers and not to hear you repeat what I already know!” he almost shouted at her, staring her down angrily. He knew he was a little bit overprotective these days, when it concerned his CMO, however, he also knew that McCoy was not easily intimidated. To get him to grip the edge of a bio-bed in order not to tremble with fear took quite a lot.
“Jim! If there’s been no change, we can’t tell you anything that you don’t already know! M’Benga’s condition is still serious. He’s in a coma, and although he should wake up eventually, he will require quite some rehab after that. We believe it is best to transfer him to the starbase’s sickbay, where he can receive more adequate care,” McCoy said, realizing why Kirk acted the way he did, and feeling guilty. T’Plok hadn’t done anything wrong, on the contrary, she had tried to be supportive.
Kirk was somewhat appeased. Maybe he hadn’t drawn the right conclusions, but he had to remember talking to Bones later on.
“What about Chekov?” he asked McCoy, who had walked over to the bio-beds on which Chekov and M’Benga lay.
“Well, he still hasn’t regained consiousness, although he should have. At this moment, however, I’m not overly concerned. This may be a protective mechanism of his body, for it would be quite painful if he woke now. His trachea has been badly damaged, and each breath would mean quite some discomfort. However, if he doesn’t wake up within the next 24 hours, we’ll start to become a little concerned, we don’t want him to slip into a coma also.”
“I have contacted Lieutenant Sulu on Starbase 3,” T’Plok piped up.
“Whatever for?” McCoy looked at her questioningly, but all the while kicking himself for not having done so himself.
“Was that wrong? I apologise. I just thought that it would be beneficial to Mr. Chekov’s recovery, to have someone who is close to him come and visit at a moment like this. I have read that even in a coma or unconscious, humans can sense the presence of a close friend or family member which usually has a positive effect on their condition.” T’Plok looked at McCoy with genuine interest.
“Yes, of course. That was very considerate,” he replied, looking down at Chekov.
“Mr. Sulu said he’d come aboard as soon as we arrive.”
“Good, and thank you, Dr. T’Plok. Anything else?” Kirk asked the Vulcan doctor. Bones felt more than a little uncomfortable around her, he observed. Maybe there was something about her that he hadn’t realized. To him she seemed surprisingly considerate.
“As a matter of fact, yes. I wanted to talk to Dr. McCoy about it first, but I believe you, as commanding officer, should also know.”
McCoy stiffened and Kirk glanced at his friend again.
“What is it now, doctor?” he asked impatiently, and again he realized he’d addressed her in an impolite way without knowing if she’d really deserved it.
“Doctor Pulliam’s sister was one of the four humans who were murdered on the P’Jem,” she said.
“I knew it! She seemed familiar. I think Kate mentioned having a sister on a Vulcan ship once. I should have realized it before,” McCoy said.
“Jennifer Pulliam mentioned to me once, that she was very close to her sister. I think her death affects Dr. Pulliam’s work negatively. She seems distracted and unfocussed. It could prove to be dangerous for her patients.”
“Of course, it does affect her,” Bones exclaimed with a touch of anger directed at her, “but she has done a great job in the treatment of M’Benga, Chekov, and myself, so far. So you can’t be suggesting to force her to take leave? This would not help her getting over her sister’s death at all, you green ... you hear?” McCoy caught himself.
Kirk gave McCoy’s shoulder another pat, then addressed the Vulcan: “Dr. T’Plok, thank you for bringing that to our attention. Now, if you don’t mind, I would like to talk to Dr. McCoy in private.” Kirk said to her, then pushed McCoy towards his office.
“Jim?” McCoy asked after Kirk had closed the door. He wasn’t feeling all too comfortable about this whole situation. He had acted as if he were emotionally on edge, which he wasn’t, well at least had not been until a few minutes ago. Hopefully Jim wasn’t going to question him about that.
“Bones?” Kirk asked in turn, and waited.
“What do you want?” he let himself fall into his chair.
Kirk sighed. Alright, if he wasn’t going to talk about what was bothering him by himself, he’d make him do it.
“How do you like your new Vulcan subordinate?”
“She’s erudite, skilled, dutiful, and friendly,” he said without missing a beat.
“Wow. Did you rehearse that?”
McCoy smiled guiltily. “She confuses me. She doesn’t behave like a Vulcan, and yet she does.”
“You like her,” Kirk assessed, taken aback.
“Yes. Why does that surprise you?” he said defensively.
Kirk closely scrutinized his friend. “Well, for one, because when I came in, you looked as if you wanted to call security and have her taken away, immediately. Did she threaten you?”
McCoy looked at his captain in alarm. Was he so easy to read? “No! How could she threaten me?”
Kirk sat down on the edge of McCoy’s desk trying to look him in the eyes. “By trying to evaluate your mental state.”
McCoy let out a breath. “You like getting to the point quickly, eh?”
“And you like beating about the bush.”
“Yeah. You know me.”
Kirk waited. Had it been anyone else he would have either given up and left, or he would have shaken him until he spilled it. However, over time he’d learned how to weasel the truth out of McCoy, but it was still a challenge.
“Well?” Bones asked innocently.
“Bones. Did she want to evaluate your mental health by performing a mind meld?”
McCoy cringed. “No. She said, this was unnecessary and I was being “normal”,” he ground out.
Kirk blinked. “Why then were you holding on to the edge of that bio-bed to stop from shaking, when I came into sickbay?”
McCoy finally looked up at Kirk in exasperation. “Give me a break, Jim! I don’t like being around a person who is able to analyse me, and even invade my mind to prove her theories.”
“You just said you like her.”
“You said that.”
“Do you also feel uncomfortable being around Spock?” Kirk asked, feeling concerned.
“No. Spock is Spock. I think he believes a meld with me to be as unpleasant for himself as for me.”
Kirk exhaled noisily. “Well, I for one am glad when she leaves us.”
“Who will be the resplacement for Jabilo? It’ll take at least two or three months before he can return back to duty on the Enterprise, Jim.”
“I don’t know. But T’Plok is needed on her ship.”
“I wouldn’t mind if she stayed here. I mean, as along as she thinks I’m “normal”, she thinks better of me than most of my staff.”
Kirk remembered something. “Did you tell Pulliam to go back to the Academy until she has learned how to set a hypo?”
“I was right. She really couldn’t set the hypo properly. Took her ages!”
“She saved your life, Bones. And set that hypo single-handedly.”
“Great. So she finally sat down and practised. My reprimand worked then.”
“Should I talk to her about her sister?”
“Nah, I’ll do that. Need to thank her anyway. I’ll tell you about it.”
Kirk nodded. “Right. Oh, I know a great bar on Starbase 3. Care to join me for a drink?”
“Just one?” McCoy smiled at him.
“Great. See you then.” With that the captain left McCoy’s office, took one last look at Chekov, and was out of sickbay.
T’Plok was waiting, when McCoy left his office as well.
“I believe I didn’t behave correctly towards the captain - and you, doctor, ” she said.
“What? Why?” he looked at her, confused. If anything, they hadn’t treated her in a particularly polite manner. Jim had even yelled at her, only because she was being unable to give him any new information. Of course, that hadn’t been the real reason, but she probably hadn’t realized that.
“The captain thanked me twice. And you also did. I recall the correct reply to an expression of gratitude is “you’re welcome”. I did not obey the laws for a polite conversation. Vulcans do not use any of these linguistic formulas of politeness. We find them superfluous and distractive. However, I believe they are essential for conversations between humans.”
“Well, they’re not as important as you may think,” McCoy tried to explain.
“But isn’t it true, that with everything you say, you communicate more than just the information?”
She was beginning to get on his nerves with her strange questions about human behaviour. “If you’re interested in that sort of thing, talk to Uhura, she’ll have a field day explainig the different human languages to you,” McCoy said, remembering an incident when he’d simply asked her what “hello” in Swahili meant, trying to engage only in casual conversation, and then he had to listen to a lecture about the origin of human languages for over an hour, “be assured, the captain is not offended. And neither am I.”
“You and the captain know each other well?”
She nodded as if she had just made a discovery, then went back to her work. McCoy shook his head.
Maybe Vulcan women just are like that, he mused.
He didn’t see the pointy-eared doctor hastily scribble notes into a strange looking greenish pad that had the form of an eagle’s wing.
Chekov was floating. He was sure he was lying on a bench in a boat and the boat was floating on a lake. He was absolutely relaxed, warm and calm. Two people were talking to each other, his parents, probably, for they were the only other people on this boat. They must be on that picnic trip again. He was ten years old, it was a wonderful summer, lots of sunshine, school wouldn’t start for another 3 weeks. He had been swimming in the lake and he was still a bit out of breath - and tired. Life was good.
For some reason it didn’t seem quite right, this had already happened, years ago, if he remembered correctly, but it didn’t bother him too much. Don’t burst that bubble just yet, a voice at the back of his mind said. So he didn’t. Bubble, what bubble? He distracted himself by listening in on the conversation between his mum and dad.
„... why you’re so pleased with yourself,” his mum said in an unfriendly way. Oh no, they wouldn’t argue here, on the lake, while he was sleeping, would they?
“This discovery marks the beginning of a glorious career, and a new era for the Romulan Star Empire, Velal.”
“What glorious career? Your cover was blown, and you’ve lost valuable allies, your crew and you’re ship!”
“I’ve destroyed Valdran’s fleet. The Praetor will be grateful.”
“Valdran was just a nuisance to the Empire, nothing more. Her “Alliance” of criminal Remans and disloyal Romulan losers was never a real threat.”
“You’re talking like them, my love. Self-obsessed and filled to the brim with arrogance, what a good Romulan you still are, after all these years amongst the Federation!”
“But you must admit, it’s time the ancient Star Empire changes some of its principles. Or it will be just a matter of time until the rebellion will regain its power. That’s the inconvenience with rebels: Kill one of them and you’ll create a martyr. A dead rebel can do more damage than one who is alive.”
“You killed Valdran not because you wanted to end the rebellion.” It was a statement, not a question.
“I did what the Praetor would have wanted,” Chekov heard the man say, about whom he now definitely knew that he wasn’t his dad, but the Romulan commander Tamulok. He wasn’t sure about the woman. Tamulok knew her. Was she from his ship? But they’d all been killed, had they not?
“I see,” the woman said. He risked a peek, but could only see her legs. He was more aware of his surroundings now, and also of himself. What had started off as a minor throat irritation that caused him some breathing difficulty, had developed into a massive burning pain. With each breath he felt as if his throat was on fire. He wanted to cry out, to get something against that pain, or a at least a sip of water, but he knew he needed to constrain himself, for now. If they found out he was conscious, he’d be in trouble ...
“Velal, don’t tell me you don’t envy the Federation! We hide, we play it safe, we avoid contact, and act behind the scenes, while they conquer the galaxy with their smiling diplomacy. Their territory is growing, their influence amongst neutral planets is increasing, they spread their culture, language and beliefs, and one day they will start invading the Romulan Star Empire. Not with weapons, Velal. No, not them. They will send diplomats, smile, promise peace and wealth to everyone, and they will poison the hearts of our people. Our people who are prone to such lures at the moment, because they are disappointed in the Senate, disappointed in a weak Praetor, and they support traitors like Valdran, as a means of protest!”
“We are Romulans. We are strong, and our Empire will prevail,” the woman said, and Chekov could hear that she was stepping closer to his bio-bed.
Tamulok let out a breath and Chekov could hear him chuckle under it. “Yes, Velal, my love. Do you remember the night when we were walking in the Senate’s garden? It was a warm night, laden with the heavy perfume of the d’laggas. I told you that I would make you Empress of the Romulan Star Empire. You laughed. But know, I will be able to keep my promise.”
“With what you found on Vor-Ka-Ri?” Chekov strained to hear her, although he knew she was standing just beside him right now. He bit the inside of his lip. The pain was unbearable. Why didn’t they go away? What were they doing here anyway? He couldn’t bear this much longer, he knew. It was a miracle that they hadn’t discovered he was awake, anyway. He was being monitored, after all.
“Yes. You have no idea, Velal. What I’ll find there, will give me more power than any Romulan ever had. But I won’t use this power against our people, because I will win the people’s hearts! It’s not as if I hadn’t learned anything from the Federation. All Romulans will want me as their leader, they’ll adore me as if I were their god! And I’ll make you my empress, my goddess, if you wish. I’ll bring the empire to ...”
The man was still talking. My god, this guy is a megalomaniac, Chekov thought and heard more than felt his own breath hitch. Immediately he felt the woman’s hand on his shoulder. His heart stopped beating and he could feel himself go cold.
“You’re not dreaming. But you will sleep now,” she whispered to him. Then he felt a warmth creeping up inside of him, making him heavy and sleepy. What happened? Why did she do this, he thought, and then remembered that he was lying on a wooden bench on a boat. Floating on a lake. He could hear his father talking and felt the sun’s warmth.
Kirk had made his promise true and had invited Bones for a drink (or more than one) after they had reached Starbase 3. He had also invited Spock, out of courtesy, not really expecting him to join them. Only he’d accepted the invitation, asking if it would be acceptable if Commander Tamulok joined them. The Romulan was waiting for the Vulcan delegation that was due to arrive in another day with the Farragut. Kirk had nothing against that, although he was surprised that Spock so intensively sought Tamulok’s company.
When he’d informed Bones about their additional companions, his friend reacted in an unexpected way and had said he was also bringing along another guest, namely his Vulcan subordinate, Doctor T’Plok, who was eager to study human behaviour.
Bones had supervised the transfer of Doctor M’Benga from the Enterprise to the medical facilities of the starbase, while T’Plok had welcomed Mr. Sulu and taken him to sickbay to meet Chekov, who had still not regained consciousness, which made McCoy a little concerned. As far as he could tell, there was no reason why Chekov should still be unconcious. However, at this point they could afford waiting just a little longer.
When they finally had met up with the rest of the group, Kirk led them all to the bar he had come to know and appreciate over his years in Starfleet.
The party of five sitting in the little bar of a more or less secluded part of Starbase 3 caught most of the other guests’ attention. They weren’t exotic enough for the wild looking humans, Andorians, Denobulans, Trills, and members of other species that McCoy couldn’t immediately lable right now, who were the guests in the bar that Kirk had picked for them. Also, McCoy knew they all screamed “Starfleet”, even though they were wearing civilian clothes, even Spock and T’Plok. But these space pirates, smugglers and drug dealers or whoever the clientele of this bar were, were trained in spotting Starfleet personnel.
It didn’t need an expert to make them a suspicious lot though, since three of them were Vulcan, and Vulcans weren’t particularly known for frequenting bars like these, or any bars for that matter. Well, Tamulok of course was Romulan, but McCoy doubted that these people could tell the difference. He sure as hell couldn’t. From the looks alone, Spock could pass as a Romulan. Only he didn’t order Andorian ale as Tamulok and T’Plok had, but a glass of water, ambient temperature.
“Try to blend in, would you, Spock?” he said, annoyed at the Vulcan for making them stick out even more than they already did.
“Why, Doctor? Do you feel uncomfortable in my company?” Spock said, raising an eyebrow in his usual, but immensely annoying manner.
“Yes! And don’t tell me you really have to ask a question like that, you green blooded party pooper.” The exchange would have made anyone with a decent upbringing uncomfortable, McCoy realised. However, Kirk was used to this kind of banter, and T’Plok and Tamulok, their Vulcan respective Romulan companions - well McCoy didn’t want to even imagine their upbringing.
“It is illogical to deliberately poison your body,” T’Plok said.
“Why then did you order Andorian ale?” Kirk asked her, interested.
“I thought it would be appropriate, in this situation,” she answered, glancing at Tamulok who bowed his head, “there are certain social conventions that need to be respected. They are more important than complete physical integrity.”
McCoy felt guilty. This Vulcan had a talent for making him feel that way, he realized. She was so different from Spock. “Please, don’t. To press gang someone into doing something he or she doesn’t want is not only very impolite, but it is also considered a crime amongst our people. You can drink whatever you want.”
“But you just suggested that Spock ...”
“Believe me Doctor, that is a completely different matter,” Kirk came to his help, “it is a natural law that Spock and McCoy argue with each other whenever they open their mouths to address one another.”
“It is not,” Spock simply said, but refrained from clarifying that statement. McCoy grumbled something, and looked away. Kirk smiled. In fact, he had enjoyed the banter between his two friends, it was a sure sign that everything was okay, and he’d started to miss it.
When the waitress brought their drinks, Tamulok raised his glass against the light and examined the light blue colour of the liquor, then he took a sip, revelling in the taste.
“It’s like Romulan ale, only not as strong,” he said then raised his glass for a toast, “Wine gives courage and makes men more apt for passion.”
“Ovid,” Spock provided, raising an eyebrow again.
“A passionate man. Could have been a Romulan.”
Kirk exchanged a surprised glance with McCoy. This Romulan knows Ovid?
“Master your passions or your passions will master you,” T’Plok said, downing her ale and looking challengingly at Tamulok, or maybe McCoy just imagined it.
“Dr. T’Plok,” Tamulok started. There had been something in T’Plok’s eyes, that had provoked Tamulok, McCoy concluded, “would you tell us the Vulcan legend of Vor-Ka-Ri?”
“According to a Vulcan legend, Vor-Ka-Ri was a planet on which those, who ... disagreed with Surak’s teachings and left Vulcan, settled to build their own colony. Ironically, soon this colony became exactly what Surak had envisioned. The people built an absolutely harmonic and peaceful society. They also were said to have made great progress in science and technology, however they only used it for peaceful purposes and without doing damage to the environment. The society lived in an absolute balance: no overpopulation, no hunger, no illnesses. The people spent their time with ... idleness ... with creating art. The legend orignates around the time of the Great Awakening, when our people longed for a more stable society,” T’Plok said.
“Would you like to live in a place like that, Doctor?” Tamulok asked McCoy, who had listened with a skeptical expression on his face.
“To tell you the truth, no. It would be a nice place to live in when you’re retiring, though. When you’ve lived your life, made your experiences, and more or less are only awaiting death. We must face challenges, explore and master our passions, and fight out conflicts. It’s what makes us evolve. It’s called living.”
“Well spoken, Doctor,” the Romulan said, and then turned to Spock, “What happened to that colony, Mr. Spock?”
“According to the Vulcan legend, at one point some people started to accumulate goods without having a need for them. With that they destroyed the balance. Some became greedy, others were consumed by envy. A war errupted that affected and finally destroyed the environment. At last the colony had to be abandoned.”
“So much about mastering your passions,” Kirk said, looking at his new Vulcan doctor. She could pass for a Romulan, he thought. There seemed to be a kind of passion, a challenge in her eyes that she had difficulty in controlling, as far as Kirk could tell. Vulcans have emotions, they only know how to control them. Well, this Vulcan had some difficulty, only for the practised observer, but she had. The question was, why now? They were just talking about legends, weren’t they?
Tamulok grabbed the edge of the table and leaned over to Spock now. “The Romulan legend is a little different, Mr. Spock. My ancestors left Vulcan because they didn’t want to surpress their passions. They felt they were a valuable part of themselves. Passion is a source of power and energy within us. It needed to be canalised, to be used to create a great empire of strength and glory. To surpress our emotions means to cripple our souls. So when our ancestors left Vulcan, they found a planet to build their own civilisation. They were very few, great minds, great scientists, with a vision. It went remarkably well, they made advances in science and technology that were unheard of before. But one day their leader, a great philospher, found that their civilisation had failed. There was no passion among the people. They were idle, like ...”
“Sloths,” Kirk provided helpfully, realizing that Tamulok had deliberately cricumvented that word.
“They were not the kind of inhabitants of the empire that they had envisioned and seeked. So he tried everything to spark their emotions again. He ignited greed in one group and envy in the other. He was the cause of the war, which destroyed the colony, and nearly destroyed the colonists as well. But it was a necessary purgatory. The strongest survived and found they needed a different approach to start a colony. They left Vor-Ka-Ri, leaving everything they had accomplished in technology there, to start a new colony, with a new philosophy. When they reached Romulus, they had a more sophisticated vision, they had evolved. While Vor-Ka-Ri was founded by Vulcans who had abandoned their homeworld, Romulus was founded by Romulans.”
Spock raised an eyebrow and studied Tamulok with an otherwise impassionate expression, then his gaze shifted to Doctor T’Plok.
“What kind of technology did they develop on Vor-Ka-Ri?” Kirk asked.
“Legends, Captain. For example, there was said to be a brooch that made the one who wore it be liked and loved by all men and women around him,” T’Plok answered.
“Not much is known about the actual technology they had, only that it was highly advanced, Captain,” Tamulok added.
“That shield generator that destroyed the warbirds, didn’t happen to be a piece of that technology, did it?” Kirk ventured.
“Now, Captain! If it were, well, then I’d take all the glory for having discovered Vor-Ka-Ri away from your Doctor McCoy here,” Tamulok said, smiling at the doctor.
“Oh please. The last thing I want is to get an award from the Vulcan Science Academy for having discovered their lost colony! It would probably mean I have to wear dress uniform and give a speech in front of hundreds of Vulcans. I can really do without that,” McCoy grumbled and looked at Kirk with pleading eyes that said: Rescue me!
“It would be a great honour, Doctor!” Spock said, diverting his attention from T’Plok to the other doctor at their table.
“Well, then you take it. You drew the right conclusions. It is as much your discovery, as it is mine.”
“That is not true.”
“Who cares? They don’t know that.”
“But I do. I couldn’t take an award for something that I didn’t do.”
“You have my permission.”
“It does not matter if I have your permission or not. I simply don’t deserve ...”
“Oh, you green blooded devil! You can’t do me a favour even if it means great honour for you, can you?”
“There is no honour in taking something one doesn’t deserve.”
“Right. Forget it. Now, Commander, are you telling us that you weren’t on that planet before?” McCoy said, wanting desperately to change the subject.
He didn’t really have to, for another diversion was created when two Orion females appeared on the small stage in the back of the bar. The guests cheered and the barman announced a show of great erotic tension, and that all women, if they didn’t want to get a headache, should leave the bar.
T’Plok stood up, and addressed her companions: “I desire to leave. As you’ve pointed out, there is no need to put up with physical discomfort, only to fulfill some conventional social laws.”
“T’Plok, Vulcans are immune to the pheromones Orion women spread, and it will be quite an experience, and a great opportunity to study human behaviour,” McCoy said chuckling excitedly, had she been human, he would have felt uncomfortable. However, she was a Vulcan, and in her eyes their reputation probably couldn’t be damaged any worse.
“I hope Romulans are not immune,” Kirk said, watching Tamulok who was shifting on his seat a bit nervously, “you’d miss all the fun.”
“Captain, I will accompany T’Plok back to the Enterprise. I have tasks to fulfill,” Spock said, watching his companions with a sense of uneasiness. He had experienced the human reaction towards the women from Orion, and although he understood the biology behind it, he always associated this behaviour with some loss of dignity. He did not need to witness it again.
“Please, Spock, stay. Pheromones or not, Orion women have a great talent for dancing. It is aesthetically pleasing, be assured. And it is interesting to watch the reactions of the other species to them. Have you noticed that many Denobulans left as well?” Tamulok had put a hand on the Vulcan’s arm to keep him in his seat.
“Yes. The pheromones stimulate the hibernation cycle within Denobulan males.”
“You mean, they’d fall asleep during the performance?” McCoy said, astonished.
“Not immediately. But if I recall correctly, there was an incident on the old Enterprise, where three Orion slave girls attempted to capture the ship, by lulling the captain and the male crew. The females responded with headaches, the Denobulan doctor with increased fatigue, and the Vulcan subcommander did not show any reactions.”
“That is all very interesting, Mr. Spock. However I choose to leave. Goodbye, Captain, Doctor, Commander.” T’Plok bowed to them, then left somewhat hurriedly. It was also left unclear whom she had meant with “Commander” - Spock, or the Romulan - Spock observed. She had left someone out. That was strange, a Vulcan would normally not make such a mistake. Especially not one who was so eager on perfecting her social skills among humans.
There was the sound of a gong and then an exotic, rhythmical and somewhat savage music came over the speakers.
The two green skinned dancers slipped out of their robes gracefully. They were dressed in what seemed like animal skin, that covered their hips and chest, but left enough of that dark green skin uncovered to excite. They threw their heads to the side simultaneousley, so that their dark hair flew into the air, only to land on their thin shoulders again - like liquid velvet.
McCoy was captured. He knew all about the biochemical processes that were being ignited in his brain right now, and he was thankful for them. Hallelujah! How great it was to be human! Whoever it was that had invented the hypothalamus, he needed an award from the Vulcan Science Academy, McCoy chuckled to himself, or she.
The air seemed to grow denser and more humid. It was becoming warm. Kirk took another sip of his Saurian brandy without diverting his eyes from the two Orions. Their movements were not particularly erotic, not like striptease dancers or anything, yet they were more exciting than anything he’d seen in a long time. Rhythmically and smoothly, they moved their bodies in perfect sync. It seemed as if they had two pairs of arms, like Kali, only it was their elaborate and exciting movements that fooled him.
He was vaguely aware of movement beside him. Spock. He had left. Kirk wasn’t surprised, not to be attracted by the Orions and confronted with the behaviour of his staring and lusting companions was probably embarrassing. Kirk turned his head just a little more. The Romulan was also rising, but unlike Spock, his gaze was fixed on the front of the bar.
Kirk followed his gaze, expecting to see the Orion dancers again, but he was mistaken. A harsh light blinded him, he felt himself grow dizzy, and then he heard an explosion.
Light travels faster than sound, was his last conscious thought.
“Captain. Captain Kirk? Jim?” Spock’s voice was the first thing he registered when he came to. That, and the sound of coughing. He opened his eyes, to find them blurry with tears and dragged his arm over his face, only to realise that the coughing was actually coming from himself.
He fought to keep his breathing under control. His throat itched, but he surpressed his cough reflex, looking at his left hand that had been bandaged. He then consciously took notice of Spock, who seemed to be alright, but there was dust and soot all over his clothes. He was kneeling in front of him, steadying him against an overturned table.
“Spock!” The word produced a cough again and Spock handed him a bottle of water, still steadying him.
“You’ve inhaled some dust and smoke. You’ve also cut your hand on the glass shards that came flying in the explosion wave, but Doctor McCoy has already tended to the cuts.”
He took a sip of the water which did a lot to soothe his throat. Taking a look around, he saw the whole chaos that once had been this bar.
There was only emergency lighting. But he could see enough to know that not one chair or table in front of them was still standing at the place it was supposed to. Underneath the debris of wood, glass, and melted synthetic material the bar guests lay, you could hear them more than you could see them. No one screamed though, they were faintly moaning, or crying, but no one screamed.
“Where’s Bones?” he asked, searching the room. McCoy had been sitting right next to him.
“Tending to the injured. He is unharmed,” Spock reassured, then as an afterthought he added, “as far as I could tell.”
Yeah, as far as you can tell. I got the message, Kirk thought. He looked to his other side, where Commander Tamulok had been sitting, and could only stare in disbelief at the massive metal beam that had fallen onto the table and seats just beside him, and had mercilessly crushed everything underneath it.
“Tamulok?” Kirk asked Spock.
“He must have been buried underneath that beam, Captain. My tricorder shows no lifesigns.”
Kirk nodded, still a bit dazed. Romulan or not, he had liked him in a strange way. His death definetely was a loss for the Federation, since Tamulok had been willing to negotiate and mediate between the Federation and the Romulan Empire. Even if the talks had failed in the end, the experience would have been invaluable. Although the Romulans had been their enemies for a long time, Romulan culture and customs were still a mystery to the Federation. They had concealed themselves well.
Kirk could see Bones now. He was kneeling beside an injured man on the floor, who was moaning something, grabbing the front of his shirt. Bones looked up and around, finding Nurse Chapel kneeling at the side of an Andorian.
Kirk got his feet under him and dragged himself towards the nurse and her patient. He could see the man was trying to breathe around the dark blue blood dripping from his mouth. Christine turned him to his side, and the gurgling sound stopped.
“Get over here, nurse!” Bones shouted at her.
“Yes, doctor,” she said, waiting another second, then with a slow movement, closed the eyes of the Andorian. That sickening sound had stopped, because the man had stopped breathing, Kirk realized, not because his breathing had gotten any easier for him.
“Miss Chapel, welcome back,” he said tiredly, putting a hand on her shoulder.
“Captain. Thank you!” she looked up at him, surprised, seeing him for the first time, since her arrival.
“Nurse! I need you here, now stop tending to the dead and start helping those with a chance to live,” McCoy barked, then unclenched the man’s hand from his shirt, pressed a piece of gauze in his hand and secured it on the man’s shoulder wound.
“Bones! You okay?” Kirk asked, trying to assess his friend’s injuries. The front of his shirt was soaked in blood he realized, though most of it wasn’t human.
“I am. You landed on top of me. I may have a bruised rib, but you took all the glass shards for me. You alright?” McCoy shortly glanced up at Kirk before turning his attention back to his patient.
Kirk nodded, watching Bones and Nurse Chapel work hand in hand, sealing the numerous wounds and cuts.
“What are you doing here, Christine?” he asked her, wondering. She had just arrived on the Enterprise, what could she have wanted in this bar?
“I came to look for Dr. McCoy, I wanted to inform him of Chekov’s condition.”
McCoy looked up at her with a hopeful smile. “Has he regained consiousness?”
Christine hestitated, “No, he ...”
“Why didn’t you use your communicator?” It was Spock standing over her, cutting off her reply which was uncharacteristic for him and made Kirk’s alarm go off.
“I couldn’t reach him. He didn’t answer his communicator,” Christine said, somewhat defensively, she hadn’t expected being interrogated by Spock.
Kirk took out his own communicator. “Kirk to Enterprise.”
Nothing. He tried again, with the same result.
“Captain, I tried to call the Enterprise just after the explosion and once again a few moments ago, without success. It could be a malfunction in my communicator, possibly caused by the explosion. This would also explain why your communicator doesn’t seem to be functioning now. However, it does not explain why Dr. McCoy’s communicator did not work even before the explosion.”
“Spock. I may have been ... distracted before,” McCoy said, groping for his communicator, handing it to Spock.
“Are you saying, somebody sabotaged our communicators?” Kirk looked questioningly at his first officer.
“Miss Chapel, did you meet Dr. T’Plok on your way here?” Spock asked the nurse, examining McCoy’s communicator.
“No. I haven’t met her at all, yet,” she said, remembering her surprise when Dr. Taylor had told her that they now had a Vulcan colleague. A Vulcan colleague that seemed to get along well with their boss.
“Spock? What are you suggesting?” McCoy asked.
“Tamulok. We need to find him,” Kirk said, walking over to the metal beam lying on the floor.
“Find him? Jim, he was right beside you. There can’t be much of him left,” McCoy said, leaving his patient in Chapel’s capable hands, following Jim.
“You may be right. But I suspect that there isn’t anything of him left here,” Kirk said walking around the heavy piece trying to move it.
“You mean he escaped?”
Kirk turned around. “The Orions. Where are the Orion slave girls?” he asked McCoy, who was again sweeping the grounds for more injured people.
McCoy shrugged. “Didn’t see them. But how could he have escaped?” he asked, not comprehending the whole situation. What about T’Plok, and ... what was that with Chekov? He searched for Chapel again, finding her and walking to her side.
“A transporter, of course,” Spock answered McCoy’s question, standing beside his Captain, showing him his and McCoy’s communicator. “They were sabotaged, Captain. We cannot raise the Enterprise, and I assume they cannot reach us.”
“If our signal was lost, the Enterprise should have detected that, and the alarm should have gone off,” Kirk said, balling his fist. He had fooled him. That Romulan had fooled him, although he’d always had an uneasy feeling ...
“Our signals are intact. Only communication is not possible,” Spock said.
Kirk walked over to Chapel and McCoy, Spock following.
“So what about Chekov?” he heard McCoy say.
“He’s had a seizure,” the nurse answered, “Dr. Taylor had it under control, but since this was an unusual reaction, we tried to reach you,” she said.
“A seizure? That is unusual. Unless, ...” McCoy looked up at Spock, “Dr. T’Plok. You asked about her. Why?”
“Nurse, give me your communicator,” Kirk said.
Christine looked up, embarrassed. “I don’t have one, sir. I’d just come aboard, and went to see Chekov straight away. I simply forgot to ...”
She stopped and, she and McCoy watched in disbelief as Spock and Kirk dissolved in a transporter beam.
“Now, Christine, you should know that it is your duty to carry a communicator whenever you leave the ship!” McCoy shouted at her, not because he was particularly angry with her, but because this whole situation was becoming more frustrating by the minute. When he’d regained consiousness he’d found himself under Kirk’s body and for a second there, he had believed he was the only survivor of this attack. He soon had heard Spock’s voice, calling for him and Jim, and had answered, relieved. Spock had been carrying an emergency medical kit, and after having given him a short once over, he had wordlessly handed it to him, so that he could examine and treat Jim, who fortunately had not been injured too severely.
Jim had been damn lucky, as usual, McCoy had realized, after having glanced to their left where the Romulan commander had been seated. Had Kirk been flung on top of Commander Tamulok instead of on top of himself, he would have died, too.
“I wasn’t even on duty, yet.” McCoy heard Christine say, and he looked at her. It was just like her to go to sickbay first, after having returned to the Enterprise after her leave. She had probably been concerned about Chekov, and then had volunteered to return to the starbase in order to find him. Him, who hadn’t answered his communicator, because he had been drooling over some Orion slave girls. Talk about duty.
“Sorry,” he quickly said, “Enterprise probably picked up their signals and beamed them out of here. Spock still had my communicator,” he said looking around, “I wonder where the rescue team is. I mean, they must have noticed the explosion by now,” he said looking around him, suddenly feeling very tired.
He was getting too old for this. Why couldn’t he avoid getting into trouble, even on a simple shore leave? Well, it hadn’t been that simple, he realized, for if he had wanted to stay out of trouble, he had been in the wrong company. Jim was a trouble magnet, and a Romulan was never safe to be around. And that T’Plok certainly had been a little bit strange. And Spock, well, Spock couldn’t negate the negative kharma of the other three - actually he was the worst of them all.
Kirk was caught off guard, but also felt somewhat relieved when he felt the familiar tingling sensation that was a sure sign for being transported. He had wanted to contact the Enterprise, now they had contacted him, brought him back, actually. Good old Scotty. He must have become concerned when he heard about the explosion and couldn’t reach them over their communicators.
However, when Kirk rematerialised, he found himself not in Enterprise’s transporter room, but inside a small cargo vessel, with two Orions and a Romulan pointing their phasers at him and Spock, who had been transported with him.
“Where’s the doctor?” Tamulok asked coarsely.
“Dead,” Kirk said automatically. Now, the good news was they had found Tamulok. The bad news was - well, obvious.
Kirk took stock of their situation. The Orions were male, that meant the dancers were probably in the front of the ship together with T’Plok and maybe some more Orions. Tamulok was holding an Orion weapon, Kirk was fairly sure. So, the Orions must be his accomplices. That was strange. What interest did the Orions have in helping him?
“You promised us three officers, Tamulok,” one of the Orions said, raising his voice.
“You heard him. What good does a dead hostage do? You have the more valuable ones anyway,” Tamulok said impatiently. It was clear to Kirk that Tamulok did not particularly cherish this Orion who grunted and then went over to them, bound their hands, and led them off the small platform.
“You disappoint me, Tamulok. You collaborate with these green troglodytic terrorists?”
“We’re not terrorists, we’re traders,” the other Orion said, and was rewarded with a slap by the first. It’s like watching a slapstick comedy, Kirk thought, and smiled slightly.
“What do you trade?” he asked innocently, addressing the first, whom he thought of as the leader.
“You, Captain Kirk, are our passengers’ fare.”
“You’re ferrymen, then,” Kirk said schoolmasterly.
“The Federation does not negotiate with abductors. I believe we are useless for you,” Spock told the Orion.
“You won’t be sold to the Federation, there are others who are interested in you,” the Orion said smugly. He may not be as stupid as I thought, Kirk realized.
“I’m flattered. Where are we going?” Kirk asked nonchalantly, looking at Tamulok.
“Careful, Captain! Dead, you may be useless to the Orions. But I’ll soon have other things with which I can pay my debts to them. I’m not overly interested in your well-being, if you understand what I’m saying.”
“We’re going back to Vor-Ka-Ri? Face it, Tamulok, all the stories you’ve heard, are just that: Stories. Legends, myths! Surely you are old enough not to believe in fairy tales anymore?” Kirk was furious at this man. He wanted to provoke him, and also make him suspicious to the Orions, who surely would want to protect their precious cargo, namely Spock and himself. Maybe he could convince them that Tamulok was mad. Kirk did not know what to think of this Romulan himself.
“You’ll see, Captain Kirk,” was all Tamulok said, but Kirk thought he’d seen a flash of anger cross his face.
“Don’t you think Starfleet will search for us? They’ll find you in no time! They know you’re obsessed with that planet!”
Tamulok stopped, turned around and put his hand around Kirk’s throat, not pressing down, but Kirk could feel that it cost him a considerable amount of control. “That is exactly why we’re not headed there, Captain. Now, don’t think you can escape by provoking me or my allies. We have a plan. Safe as houses,” he whispered into his ear.
Kirk had to cross his eyes to see him properly, so close was he to his face. “You know, you never told me why you know so many idioms.”
Tamulok let go of him, took a step backwards and smiled: “It’s been a hobby of mine.” With that he left, leaving Spock and Kirk in the small transporter room, bound, and guarded by the two Orions.
Finally the rescue team had arrived, taking over. McCoy stood a bit indecisively to the side, counting the dead. It was a bad habit, he knew. But he couldn’t help it. A lot of them were shady characters, some of them may not be missed at all. So at least someone should remember them.
“Leonard?” It was Scotty, standing in front of him suddenly, looking concerned.
“Scotty? What are you doing here?” he asked him, blinking away the dust that was still flying around in the destroyed bar.
“We were worried about you all. We’ve detected the explosion, but couldn’t reach you, your communicators must have been damaged in the attack.”
“Or they were sabotaged.”
“Don’t ask me, Scotty. Didn’t Spock explain it to you?”
“Mr. Spock? Where is he? Where’s the captain, Tamulok, Dr. T’Plok, ...?” Scotty turned around, scanning the room, only finding Nurse Chapel, who was sitting on the floor, her back against a fallen beam.”
“What do you mean? You didn’t beam them on board? The captain and Spock?” McCoy looked at the engineer in alarm.
“What? No! We lost your signal just after the explosion.”
“But they both were beamed away, a few minutes ago. They suspected this whole thing to be the work of Tamulok. He escaped!”
“Wha- ...?” Scotty did not end his question, but took out his commuicator and contacted Enterprise. Of course, no one had seen the missing people.
“Doctor, Christine, you go back to the Enterprise, get yourselves checked out in sickbay. I’m going to contact the starbase’s commander.”
With that he left his two crewmates, and stumbled out of the destroyed bar. Of course, whenever he took command of the Enterprise, there had to be some kind of crisis. He never got to command the ship when everything was normal.
It should really be written down in Starfleet regulations that the two highest ranking commanding officers should not go on away missions together. Now, of course, they hadn’t been on an away mission, Scotty reminded himself. This was shore leave, they were safe and sound on Starbase 3. However, they had managed to get abducted. Together. And here he was, Chief Engineer Scott, having to solve the problem. He really had enough to do already, overlooking the repairs of the Enterprise. Right. The Enterprise was unable to move, as was the P’Jem, the only other Starfleet vessel currently on the base. He sighed, when it rains, it pours.