Star Trek TOS: Sins of the Apostates

Envy (continued)

Chekov awoke again, only this time it wasn’t nearly as pleasant as before. He didn’t feel himself floating, he didn’t think he was on a boat on a lake, and he knew he wasn’t on vacation. His head hurt, badly, and not only his head, but also his arms and legs, and back, and belly. He couldn’t move a muscle without that screaming pain. He should call out to someone, maybe that woman again who would give him another hypo, one that would send him off into his dreams again.

He drew a breath, and was greeted by flames in his throat, just as before. I inhaled smoke, he recalled. Must have burnt the inside of my throat. He coughed, which didn’t help, it only caused the muscles in his belly to cramp. He felt panic rise up inside him and let out a whimper that only hurt him some more, and brought tears to his eyes. For a moment he concentrated on not letting those tears fall, but when another bout of coughing hit him, he didn’t care anymore, and just prayed to lose consciousness again.

He became aware of someone touching him. Turning him on his side, saying something.

“... able to breathe more easily,” he heard this someone say, gently. He tried to bring himself under control again. Someone had put a hand on his arm, gently drawing circles with his thumb.

“It does not look as if it were helping him,” he heard another man say. Sulu? The picture of his friend appeared in front of him, was he hallucinating again? Sulu was on extended leave.

“It did, believe me. Now, be a bit more patient with him,” Dr. McCoy said. Chekov recognised him now.

That woman, Velal, had she been a figment of his dreams? Or was this part of a dream?

“I’m not impatient with Pavel, I’m impatient with your treatments, Doctor,” Sulu said, and his tone was downright hostile, Chekov realised. He’d never heard Hikaru talk like that before. Certainly not towards McCoy, who could become really nasty, when addressed in the wrong way.

“Mr. Sulu ... I understand your concern, believe me, I share it. However, ...,” McCoy replied, only slightly annoyed.

“Doctor!” a female voice interrupted. And they finally took notice of him.

“Chekov!”

“Pavel?”

He tried to greet them in reply, but could only produce a hoarse cry, that hurt is throat badly again. However, he was able to surpress the coughing this time.

“Shh, don’t talk. Just blink. Can you hear me?” McCoy asked him.

He blinked. Actually he blinked every five seconds or so. How could they know that this was in response to the question, he asked himself.

“Good. You gave us quite a scare, Chekov. You’ve burnt your trachea when you inhaled the smoke. Also your hands were burnt, but they are mostly healed now, although they should be overly sensitive for a while. You’ve had several seizures, that’s why you probably have some sore muscles. I also imagine you’re experiencing quite a headache.”

Quite yes. Some sore muscles, well that was an understatement. He blinked again, twice this time. It was the equivalent of complaining about the pain, he thought, willing the doctor to understand.

“Yes. Now, we’ll get you something for the pain, and some ice chips for your throat,” the doctor smiled at him.

Wow, I’m a telepath, Chekov thought giddily. And blinked again.

McCoy gave him a pat on the shoulder then left his field of vision. He felt a tug on his arm and looked at his hands, which looked red and wrinkly. They didn’t hurt, though, only itched.

“Hey, Pavel. Can’t leave you alone, can I? Look, at you,” Sulu said.

He was actually here, well they must be back at starbase 3, Chekov concluded, and was finally overpowered by the urge to cough again.

It hurt, very much actually, but it wasn’t accompanied by the panic he’d felt earlier. He felt himself drifting again, his eyes were already closed.

“Ice-chips. Give him some when he wakes again. They’ll soothe his throat,” Dr. McCoy said to Sulu, and Chekov remembered something. He needed to ask them about Velal. He opened his eyes and tried to sit up, only to find his muscles were too sore for that kind of movement.

“You want to try some?” Sulu asked, surprised by the sudden movement.

“N-not now. Dr. McCoy?” he said, risking to raise his voice a bit. Nothing happened, no cough, but McCoy turned around and approached him again.

“What is it?” he asked him.

“I - h-heard. A Rom - ulan woman. Velal?”

“Heard her? When?” McCoy wanted to know. It was of course possible that Chekov had been imagining things, however, it was also possible, that he had overheard a conversation between Tamulok and his accomplice. He still couldn’t quite imagine that T’Plok had been his collaborator, however, if he remembered correctly, Spock had given such an indication in the bar.

“Earlier, when I woke,” Chekov said. Talking was becoming easier now. “I remember Tamulok and a woman. They were talking about the Romulan Empire and a rebellion. He called her Velal.”

McCoy stroked his chin, in thought. “We think your were given high dosages of a partiuclar sedative in combination with a muscle relaxant. They caused the seizures. The woman you heard was probably our Vulcan doctor, who came here to support our medical staff.”

“Not Vulcan. Sh-e was Romulan, Doctor.”

“Well, it is possible. She has disappeared, together with Tamulok. But why didn’t she give you the sedative earlier? She could easily have given you a hypo before you had a chance to overhear their conversation. Or she could have simply talked to Tamulok some place else?”

“Or she could have killed me,” Chekov concluded. It was true, why did she only sedate him? And before she had done so, she even told him, that what he’d overheard, had not been a dream.

“Maybe she wanted Chekov to hear what they were talking about?” Sulu speculated.

“I think she did not particularly like Commander Ta-mulok. H-he talked about leading the Empire into a glo-rious future, and making her em-press.”

McCoy nodded, putting a hand on Chekov’s shoulder again. “Well you stay here Chekov, and rest. Sulu, make sure he drinks something, and sleeps a little more. I’ll go and tell ... the others.” McCoy exchanged a knowing look with Christine, and went to find Scotty.

“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.”

“What?”

“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.


Chekov awoke again, only this time it wasn’t nearly as pleasant as before. He didn’t feel himself floating, he didn’t think he was on a boat on a lake, and he knew he wasn’t on vacation. His head hurt, badly, and not only his head, but also his arms and legs, and back, and belly. He couldn’t move a muscle without that screaming pain. He should call out to someone, maybe that woman again who would give him another hypo, one that would send him off into his dreams again.

He drew a breath, and was greeted by flames in his throat, just as before. I inhaled smoke, he recalled. Must have burnt the inside of my throat. He coughed, which didn’t help, it only caused the muscles in his belly to cramp. He felt panic rise up inside him and let out a whimper that only hurt him some more, and brought tears to his eyes. For a moment he concentrated on not letting those tears fall, but when another bout of coughing hit him, he didn’t care anymore, and just prayed to lose consciousness again.

He became aware of someone touching him. Turning him on his side, saying something.

“... able to breathe more easily,” he heard this someone say, gently. He tried to bring himself under control again. Someone had put a hand on his arm, gently drawing circles with his thumb.

“It does not look as if it were helping him,” he heard another man say. Sulu? The picture of his friend appeared in front of him, was he hallucinating again? Sulu was on extended leave.

“It did, believe me. Now, be a bit more patient with him,” Dr. McCoy said. Chekov recognised him now.

That woman, Velal, had she been a figment of his dreams? Or was this part of a dream?

“I’m not impatient with Pavel, I’m impatient with your treatments, Doctor,” Sulu said, and his tone was downright hostile, Chekov realised. He’d never heard Hikaru talk like that before. Certainly not towards McCoy, who could become really nasty, when addressed in the wrong way.

“Mr. Sulu ... I understand your concern, believe me, I share it. However, ...,” McCoy replied, only slightly annoyed.

“Doctor!” a female voice interrupted. And they finally took notice of him.

“Chekov!”

“Pavel?”

He tried to greet them in reply, but could only produce a hoarse cry, that hurt is throat badly again. However, he was able to surpress the coughing this time.

“Shh, don’t talk. Just blink. Can you hear me?” McCoy asked him.

He blinked. Actually he blinked every five seconds or so. How could they know that this was in response to the question, he asked himself.

“Good. You gave us quite a scare, Chekov. You’ve burnt your trachea when you inhaled the smoke. Also your hands were burnt, but they are mostly healed now, although they should be overly sensitive for a while. You’ve had several seizures, that’s why you probably have some sore muscles. I also imagine you’re experiencing quite a headache.”

Quite yes. Some sore muscles, well that was an understatement. He blinked again, twice this time. It was the equivalent of complaining about the pain, he thought, willing the doctor to understand.

“Yes. Now, we’ll get you something for the pain, and some ice chips for your throat,” the doctor smiled at him.

Wow, I’m a telepath, Chekov thought giddily. And blinked again.

McCoy gave him a pat on the shoulder then left his field of vision. He felt a tug on his arm and looked at his hands, which looked red and wrinkly. They didn’t hurt, though, only itched.

“Hey, Pavel. Can’t leave you alone, can I? Look, at you,” Sulu said.

He was actually here, well they must be back at starbase 3, Chekov concluded, and was finally overpowered by the urge to cough again.

It hurt, very much actually, but it wasn’t accompanied by the panic he’d felt earlier. He felt himself drifting again, his eyes were already closed.

“Ice-chips. Give him some when he wakes again. They’ll soothe his throat,” Dr. McCoy said to Sulu, and Chekov remembered something. He needed to ask them about Velal. He opened his eyes and tried to sit up, only to find his muscles were too sore for that kind of movement.

“You want to try some?” Sulu asked, surprised by the sudden movement.

“N-not now. Dr. McCoy?” he said, risking to raise his voice a bit. Nothing happened, no cough, but McCoy turned around and approached him again.

“What is it?” he asked him.

“I - h-heard. A Rom - ulan woman. Velal?”

“Heard her? When?” McCoy wanted to know. It was of course possible that Chekov had been imagining things, however, it was also possible, that he had overheard a conversation between Tamulok and his accomplice. He still couldn’t quite imagine that T’Plok had been his collaborator, however, if he remembered correctly, Spock had given such an indication in the bar.

“Earlier, when I woke,” Chekov said. Talking was becoming easier now. “I remember Tamulok and a woman. They were talking about the Romulan Empire and a rebellion. He called her Velal.”

McCoy stroked his chin, in thought. “We think your were given high dosages of a partiuclar sedative in combination with a muscle relaxant. They caused the seizures. The woman you heard was probably our Vulcan doctor, who came here to support our medical staff.”

“Not Vulcan. Sh-e was Romulan, Doctor.”

“Well, it is possible. She has disappeared, together with Tamulok. But why didn’t she give you the sedative earlier? She could easily have given you a hypo before you had a chance to overhear their conversation. Or she could have simply talked to Tamulok some place else?”

“Or she could have killed me,” Chekov concluded. It was true, why did she only sedate him? And before she had done so, she even told him, that what he’d overheard, had not been a dream.

“Maybe she wanted Chekov to hear what they were talking about?” Sulu speculated.

“I think she did not particularly like Commander Ta-mulok. H-he talked about leading the Empire into a glo-rious future, and making her em-press.”

Quite yes. Some sore muscles, well that was an understatement. He blinked again, twice this time. It was the equivalent of complaining about the pain, he thought, willing the doctor to understand.

“Yes. Now, we’ll get you something for the pain, and some ice chips for your throat,” the doctor smiled at him.

Wow, I’m a telepath, Chekov thought giddily. And blinked again.

McCoy gave him a pat on the shoulder then left his field of vision. He felt a tug on his arm and looked at his hands, which looked red and wrinkly. They didn’t hurt, though, only itched.

“Hey, Pavel. Can’t leave you alone, can I? Look, at you,” Sulu said.

He was actually here, well they must be back at starbase 3, Chekov concluded, and was finally overpowered by the urge to cough again.

It hurt, very much actually, but it wasn’t accompanied by the panic he’d felt earlier. He felt himself drifting again, his eyes were already closed.

“Ice-chips. Give him some when he wakes again. They’ll soothe his throat,” Dr. McCoy said to Sulu, and Chekov remembered something. He needed to ask them about Velal. He opened his eyes and tried to sit up, only to find his muscles were too sore for that kind of movement.

“You want to try some?” Sulu asked, surprised by the sudden movement.

“N-not now. Dr. McCoy?” he said, risking to raise his voice a bit. Nothing happened, no cough, but McCoy turned around and approached him again.

“What is it?” he asked him.

“I - h-heard. A Rom - ulan woman. Velal?”

“Heard her? When?” McCoy wanted to know. It was of course possible that Chekov had been imagining things, however, it was also possible, that he had overheard a conversation between Tamulok and his accomplice. He still couldn’t quite imagine that T’Plok had been his collaborator, however, if he remembered correctly, Spock had given such an indication in the bar.

“Earlier, when I woke,” Chekov said. Talking was becoming easier now. “I remember Tamulok and a woman. They were talking about the Romulan Empire and a rebellion. He called her Velal.”

McCoy stroked his chin, in thought. “We think your were given high dosages of a partiuclar sedative in combination with a muscle relaxant. They caused the seizures. The woman you heard was probably our Vulcan doctor, who came here to support our medical staff.”

“Not Vulcan. Sh-e was Romulan, Doctor.”

“Well, it is possible. She has disappeared, together with Tamulok. But why didn’t she give you the sedative earlier? She could easily have given you a hypo before you had a chance to overhear their conversation. Or she could have simply talked to Tamulok some place else?”

“Or she could have killed me,” Chekov concluded. It was true, why did she only sedate him? And before she had done so, she even told him, that what he’d overheard, had not been a dream.

“Maybe she wanted Chekov to hear what they were talking about?” Sulu speculated.

“I think she did not particularly like Commander Ta-mulok. H-he talked about leading the Empire into a glo-rious future, and making her em-press.”

McCoy nodded, putting a hand on Chekov’s shoulder again. “Well you stay here Chekov, and rest. Sulu, make sure he drinks something, and sleeps a little more. I’ll go and tell ... the others.” McCoy exchanged a knowing look with Christine, and went to find Scotty.

“Spock, what do you make of Tamulok?” Kirk asked his companion. He had been thinking for a while now, trying to figure out their captor’s plans.

“He cannot be trusted, Captain. He has not only betrayed us, but also his own people. Valdran, the commander of the rebel ships, seemed to think of him as an ally and in the next moment he destroyed her, along with five Romulan warbirds.”

“Not to mention his own ship and crew,” Kirk agreed, eyeing the two Orions who were listening with interest. Kirk did not know how Tamulok had been able to contact the Orions, but he was fairly sure that it must have been rather spontaneously. They did not seem to have known each other for long. Maybe they could convince these Orions to break their contract with their Romulan clients.

“He destroyed his own ship?” the Orion, who had informed Kirk that they were traders, not abductors, asked.

Kirk put on a solemn face and looked the Orion in the eyes. “Yes. His ship, together with his crew who had been with him for at least five years. Well, after all that, wouldn’t you have believed him, when he said, that he wanted to negotiate with the Federation? I mean after all, he’d had the opportunity to destroy us instead of his fellow Romulans,” Kirk said, and although he said it to unsettle the Orions, it was the truth.

“I think, Captain, that he is mentally unstable, narcissitic, egocentric, to the degree of being insane,” Spock said, and Kirk tried to assess if this was an exaggeration provided by Spock who must have guessed Kirk’s plan, or Spock’s true opinion. It did not really matter, however, Kirk realized.

“Shut up!” the other Orion then shouted at Spock. Doctor T’Plok, which probably wasn’t her real name as Kirk guessed, had appeared in the back during Spock’s speech.

“But he is right,” she said, addressing the Orion.

“You!” the Orion answered surprised and angry, “You contacted us. Are you insane too?”

The woman smiled slightly. It was an expression that Kirk found strangely unsettling on a Vulcan’s face. She isn’t Vulcan, she’s a Romulan, Kirk reminded himself, at least, that’s what he thought she was.

“For you, it makes no difference,” she said, and with it she pulled a phaser from behind her back, and shot at the two Orions who didn’t have time to take another breath before they hit the floor, dead.

Kirk and Spock exchanged a look of surprise. Their situation had changed. But for the better or the worse?

“Dr. T’Plok, since you are a psychologist I trust your diagnosis on Tamulok’s mental state. Now, are you planning on curing him, or what?” Kirk asked the pointy-eared woman after a moment.

She strode over to them and cut the ropes on their wrists, then stood back and aimed her phaser at them.

“I’m neither T’Plok nor a studied psychologist. My name is Velal. Tamulok is my superior.”

“Really? Did he order you to kill the Orions and cut us loose?” Kirk rubbed his wrists.

“Tamulok is a very high member of the Tal Shiar. The Senate found him to be too ambitious and too powerful and they wanted to eliminate him. An assassination would have risked an open uprising, since Tamulok has a talent in raising people’s sympathy and he is well-liked among our citizens. So they assigned him to the mission on Meriah Five, which they thought to be far enough away from Romulus.”

“Obviously a false assumption. Has Tamulok lead the rebellion with Valdran?” Spock asked.

Velal did not falter in aiming her phaser. “There is no such thing as a “rebellion”, Mr. Spock. Valdran was Tamulok’s playmate. He probably told her to make her empress of the new Romulan / Reman empire they would found, or such poppycock. She believed him and started a mutiny. She and her few followers were a nuisance to the Empire, one that Tamulok has kindly eliminated, but nothing more.”

“If you say so,” Kirk said, smiling slightly in reaction to Velal’s use of the colloquialism that she may have picked up from Bones in the short time she’d been on board the Enterprise.

“Tamulok has a weakness for women. Not unlike yourself, Captain Kirk.”

“If you say so,” Kirk repeated. He suddenly felt a bit intimidated by her, a feeling that he didn’t like - at all, and so he pushed it away.

They seemed to have gotten between the lines of a power struggle within the Romulan government, how they had gotten into this mess, Kirk couldn’t really say at this moment, only that it had started on Meriah Five.

“We’re going back to Meriah, where Tamulok still has friends,” Kirk said. It was a guess of course, but she didn’t need to know that.

Velal bowed her head politely, seeming like a Vulcan again. “Very good, Captain. Those are Tamulok’s plans. Ultimately he wants to return to Vor-Ka-Ri. He says he found artifacts there that will enable him to overthrow the Senate and make him Praetor and me Empress.”

“And you don’t desire to become an empress,” Spock concluded.

“Commander, I was sent here to keep an eye on the enemies of the Romulan Star Empire. I’ve spent long enough amidst yourselves to know that the Federation is no threat. Tamulok on the other hand is a bit ... unpredictable. We Romulans like to play it safe, so I’ve decided to foil his plans, whatever they are, by helping you escape.”

Velal was choosing her words with caution, Kirk realized. There was no way of telling how weak the Romulan government really was at this point. It could well be that there had never been a rebellion, or that a civil war was momentarily waging within the boundaries of the Romulan territory. Tamulok could be nothing more than an inconvenient people’s favourite, or the public enemy number 1 of Romulus.

Velal was probably counting on the fact that the Federation would hunt down Tamulok and do away with him. The Romulan people then could be told that Tamulok had been murdered by the Federation, not by their own government.

“I’m glad that Doctor McCoy isn’t really dead,” Velal said.

Kirk tried not to let his surprise show. How did she know about that?

“Why does that interest you?” he asked her.

“A sentimental penchant. I found his company very refreshing after spending so much time together with Vulcans. And your true question was: How do you know? Well, I’m not a Vulcan psychologist but a Romulan Tal Shiar agent. Reading people’s minds is part of my job. When I used one of your doctor’s flowery language expressions you didn’t look as if you were mourning his death.”

“You’re a bit of a narcissist yourself, aren’t you?” Kirk said. He didn’t like her arrogant behaviour towards them.

“A Romulan vice, I admit. However, if he is alive, it makes your rescue a bit easier. Crawl into the emergency escape capsules! There’s a moon around the gas giant in the star system we’re currently passing. Its climate and vegetation may not be very pleasant, but you will be able to survive long enough, until one of your vessels will pick up their emergency beacons and rescue you.”

“The Enterprise and the P’Jem have been damaged,” Spock said, “it may take days until Starfleet finds us.”

“Maybe. Doctor McCoy will see to it that it takes only days and not weeks. I’d prefer if you didn’t die there, but even if you do, the Federation will eventually find Tamulok.”

“If you think he is so dangerous, why don’t you kill him yourself, here and now?”

“We value loyalty, Captain.”

Kirk blinked. Did she really have moral reservations? He found that hard to believe.

“So you let someone else do the dirty work for you?”

Velal opened her mouth to answer, when a massive jolt sent them all to the floor. A shot was fired from Velal’s phaser by accident, hitting a conduit, which started to fume immediately, spitting sparks and gaseous clouds.

“You false tongue of a worm!” Kirk heard Tamulok say, before the ship was jolted once again, this time by an explosion in one of her engines, that send her spinning and pressed all her passengers to the walls.

For the second time in only a few hours, Kirk inhaled smoke. When the ship crashed on the little moon orbiting around the gas giant, Kirk and Spock were unconscious.


Kirk awoke to the sound of thumping. His head was propped up against the wall, no the floor, he realised. The small Orion ship lay on its side. There was a green haze everywhere and he smelled smoke and something else. Something familiar, yet something dangerous. Plasma?

Suddenly he was fully awake and up on his feet. On the opposite side of him, Tamulok, Velal and Spock were frantically beating at the smoldered airlock which was jammed. He knew that they needed to get out fast. When he closed the gap to his companions the airlock suddenly gave away and they all stumbled out into the moon’s night.

They could not see much, there were no stars. The air seemed thick and hot and it was hard to breathe. He heard a hiss behind him, coming from the damaged ship, and instinctively threw himself on the ground just a second before the leaking plasma finally caught fire and blazes of green flames sliced through the atmosphere.

He could feel the others had also evaded the burning flames by pressing themselves flat on the ground. It was their space training that had saved their lives. Plasma fire was hot, it could vaporize you completely within the split part of a second.

Kirk felt sharp thorns penetrate his trousers and prick his knee. The ground was laced with short, hard grass, and dry and thorny scrubs. Luckily they had missed the larger patches of it or they would have been shredded.

They all crawled a few metres further away from the burning ship until they got up again.

“There go the Graces of Orion,” Tamulok said, “the lips red as human blood, the hair black as ebony, and the skin green as plasma fire.”

Kirk checked his belt and pockets. His communicator had been taken away from him. He also didn’t have a phaser or anything that could function as a weapon and he didn’t think Spock had one. They were both still in the civilian clothes which they had worn in the bar. Tamulok and Velal also had not changed their clothes, but their’s weren’t as sooty and dusty. They had probably been beamed out just before the explosion. They, and the two Orion dancers, whom Tamulok had just now described as some obscure Orion versions of Snowhite. There was no way that they had survived the crash and the plasma fire, so much was sure by one look at the front of the small Orion ship.

They were stranded on a moon around a gas giant, with no one knowing where they were. Of course people knew they were missing, but the Enterprise was not able to travel, nor had there been any other of starfleet’s ships available. They probably knew which direction the Orion ship had been going, but from the time they had needed to get to here, Kirk estimated that they had disappeared from Enterprise’s sensors a while ago. Unless they’d found another ship to go after them, nobody would know they had crashed, let alone where they were. And going after Orion criminals and Romulan spies with a small, probably unarmed merchant ship, or a freighter, was not really something he’d recommend.

If it had been Bones and Spock who’d been beamed out of that bar, I of course, would have gone after them in some reckless mission, Kirk thought, but then again, it is my nature to do stupid things like that.

Scotty wasn’t as stupid. Or was he? Velal had been pretty sure that Bones would find a way to go after them.

Kirk imagined Bones talking, yelling, and insulting some high official at Starfleet Command right now. Yes, he’d do that, regardless of what it would mean to his career, but he wouldn’t chase an Orion ship all around the galaxy. He’d be worried to death, though. Sorry, Bones, Kirk thought, I know these past couple of weeks haven’t been the most pleasant ones for you.

“I was able to activate the emergency beacon before we crashed,” Velal said, “it was built to survive crashes like these, maybe it’s still functioning.”

“Unlikely,” Tamulok said, “however, there’s nothing we can do. It’ll be hours before we can enter the ship again to find out.”

“Captain, if we want to survive, we need to find water and shelter from the sun. I believe it is going to be very hot, once the sun has risen,” Spock told Kirk, ignoring the two Romulans.

Kirk nodded. Actually, they had a better chance of survival if they buried their differences for the time being, however, he wasn’t so sure about what Tamulok would do. Just before the crash, Tamulok had looked as if he had wanted to kill first Velal, and then them, now he seemed to be calm and cool-headed.

“Velal, Captain, Commander,” Tamulok started after having noticed the look his companions were giving him, “I suggest we concentrate on getting out of here. Trying to kill each other will only result in a considerable waste of energy.”

In the green shine of the plasma fire Kirk could see Velal nodding slowly.

“I agree, Commander,” Kirk finally said, already regretting it.


“Leonard, you don’t know what kind of weapons they have. That thing is fast, but it only takes two or three phaser blasts, and it’ll light up like a Christmas tree,” Scotty tried to reason with Dr. McCoy. They were standing at the dock, looking at a small ship that McCoy had been able to hire from a Trill merchant.

“I still don’t know how a Romulan could serve on a Vulcan ship without being detected. I mean, where did she come from? Did they invent a complete identity for her, or was she surgically altered to resemble a particular real-life Vulcan? And if so, didn’t anyone notice, she changed? And if not, didn’t anyone notice she appeared out of the blue? But I’m glad she wasn’t detected before. I think she’s on our side, or she wouldn’t have let Chekov overhear her conversation.”

“Didn’t ya hear what I said?” Scotty asked him.

Of course, he shouldn’t complain. In fact he had been the one who had pointed out to the doctor that just because there weren’t any other starfleet vessels docked on the base didn’t mean that there weren’t any ships that could pursue the Orions and Romulans who had abducted Jim Kirk and Spock. And he had been the one who brought to McCoy’s attention that not only the doctor himself, but also Lieutenant Sulu, who was an excellent pilot, were on leave and could do whatever they wanted in their freetime. But now that they were about to do just that, he regretted it. Because it had also meant, that Scotty, who was chief engineer of the Enterprise and as such responsible for supervising the repairs, was not on leave and could not join the two in finding their captain and first officer.

“Maybe we should wait for the Farragut to arrive,” he tried, already knowing what the doctor would say.

“The Farragut will arrive in over a day. Until then the Orion ship could be anywhere. We must go after it as long as it is on our sensors.”

Scotty chewed his lip. The Enterprise and her crew were his responsibility now, and here he was, about to lose two other crewmembers, temporarily, of course ... hopefully.

“Just don’t do anything stupid. Just follow them, to see where they’re going. It’s good that you’re not going in a starfleet vessel. It doesn’t raise suspicions immediately.”

“Scotty, I never do anything stupid. It is Jim who does the stupid things. And since he’s not with us, we’ll be fine,” McCoy smiled. He wasn’t too sure though. In a way it was stupid what they were about to do. But they simply couldn’t do nothing. He began to understand Jim a little bit better now. Jim and his habit of taking adventurous risks. The thing was only, that Jim seldomly had to pay for his stupid decisions. Somehow, he always won.

“Right. Good luck then,” Scotty pressed the button for the turbo lift that would bring McCoy to the little ship, in which Sulu was already getting familiar with the controls.

When he arrived, McCoy looked around. The ship was hardly any bigger than a shuttle. But it was a lot faster.

“Sulu, you think you can fly this thing?” McCoy greeted the lieutenant.

“Doctor McCoy. Do you know what I did while I was on shore leave on earth?” Sulu smiled at the doctor who had settled in the seat beside him.

“What did you do?”

“I visited my mother, and then I refreshed my helicopter pilot licence.”

“Heli- what?”

“See?”

McCoy didn’t understand. Sulu pressed a button and the ship’s engines were powered up, at least that’s what McCoy hoped was happening. The ship started to vibrate and made a lot of noise.

“I haven’t come across any flying machine that I could not bring into the air and land safely. Not a single one, in the whole galaxy. I’m a pilot, it’s in my blood,” Sulu shouted over the noise, which had quieted just a little.

“Blood, yes,” McCoy said, and noticed for the first time that there were seatbelts on the two seats in the front of this little ship. Good invention, actually. However, they did not do much to calm his nerves. “Well, let’s go then,” he said, and in his mind he added, before I’ll change my mind.


Lost in thought, McCoy sat in the co-pilot’s chair of the Trill ship, and tried to figure out how he’d gotten to be here. At one time, he’d been a doctor at a hospital in Atlanta, married, with one child.

Now, he was chasing Orions and Romulans, who had abducted his two best friends (a cunning, courageous and confident starship captain, and his smart-ass, half-Vulcan sidekick) across the infinite vastness of space. It sounded as if he’d become a character of some kind of superhero comic.

Beside him, Lieutenant Sulu was piloting their Batmobile. Surreal, was the word that he couldn’t get out of his head. He wouldn’t have been too surprised if he’d suddenly found out that he was wearing tights, a mask and a cape.

Their ship still made a lot of noise, and everything was vibrating. McCoy had fastened his seatbelt just after they had entered warp speed, but he had not really thought about their safety much, at least not until Sulu had also fastened his seatbelt, right after they had overcome some minor turbulences. Of course, Mr. Sulu was being his usual cheery self, and had only commented that they probably shouldn’t go any faster than warp 5.8, “although I think she could go as fast as warp 7.9!”

“That’s also what that Trill said,” McCoy mumbled, “but you don’t have to test it. The Orion ship is well within our sensor range. There’s no need to break any speed records.”

Sulu also took a look at the sensor readings. “I agree. They’re going at warp ...” Sulu stopped, watching the readings in astonishment. The ship had just disappeared.

“What happened?” McCoy asked, feeling fear forming in his gut. Not fear for himself, but for Jim and Spock.

Sulu tapped the little monitor, maybe it was just a malfunction? This ship was not the Enterprise, but a ship Dr. McCoy had wheedled out of a dubious looking Trill merchant. It was possible that the sensors had just gone. But they were showing everything else, the system that the Orion ship had just been passing: the star, its 5 planets and their moons. But it didn’t show the Orion ship anymore.

“Maybe they landed somewhere,” Sulu said, and pressed some buttons to access the sensor log and replay the moment that the ship had disappeared.

“There was an explosion, wasn’t there?” McCoy asked, worriedly. He had learned to read these sensors at the academy, but hadn’t particularly paid attention to sensor readings after having passed the necessary test. And that had been more than a decade ago.

“Uh, yes,” Sulu said, avoiding to look at the doctor. Come on, you’re the pilot here, give him a more qualified answer, Sulu thought. He once more replayed the scene, then brightened a little. “There was an explosion, but it wasn’t big enough to assume the whole ship has gone. They could probably bring her down on one of the planets or moons.”

“You make it sound like it’s good news,” McCoy said accusingly, “what caused the explosion?”

“I don’t know,” Sulu admitted, then smiled at the doctor to cheer him up, “The good news is, that the whole ship didn’t explode. It should be fairly easy to find them when we’re there.”

“What, with their signal gone? And they could have been seriously injured in that explosion even if it didn’t blow their ship to little pieces.” There are so many possibilities to die in space: lack of oxygen, decompression, cold, fire, ... Maybe there had been a fight, maybe Tamulok had shot them with a phaser, maybe they had been sucked out into space through a hole in the ship. Maybe there had been a plasma leak and they’d been consumed by green flames, maybe ...

“Doctor,” Sulu interrupted McCoy’s dark thoughts, “as I know the captain, they’ve found a way to overwhelm their abductors and land somewhere safely. Mr. Spock is probably working on their ship’s engines right now. It wouldn’t surprise me if they found us before we find them.”


“Why did we crash?” Velal asked Tamulok, quietly, but not quietly enough for Kirk to not overhear.

“Well, I wasn’t at the helm when we crashed, as you may recall,” Tamulok said smugly, “the Orion slave girls were. Women pilots! Should have known that that wouldn’t end well,” he added mockingly.

They had found shelter in the shade of a rock formation about a kilometer away from their crashed ship. The sun had risen an hour ago and it was already unbearbly hot and humid. The air was soaked with water, one had the impression to be able to cut it, if one only had a knife. Moving was like swimming in a mass of jelly.

The ground here was muddy, but at least there weren’t any of those thorny scrubs on the ground. Kirk’s knee throbbed a bit from where the thorn had pricked him. He rubbed it unconsciously, thinking about their situation, and trying to figure out Tamulok. He’d killed and injured many innocent people on Starbase 3, and he’d sacrificed his own crew for his plans of a Romulan coup d’etat. It was possible that he not only had the means to take control over the Romulan senate, but also declare war on the Federation after that. The Romulans had avoided to do just that, because they were cautious, to the end of paranoid. Tamulok, however, was ruthless, and nobody knew what kind of weapons and technology he really had. He was obsessed with that legendary Romulan colony, maybe he’d really found something there. His own subordinate, that obscure Romulan spy, Velal, wanted him dead, but wasn’t able, or willing, to kill him herself. But Kirk really hated Tamulok because he’d liked him once, even if he’d never really trusted him. And Kirk didn’t like to be taken for a fool.

“Don’t worry, Captain,” Tamulok said in an arrogantly soothing way, “your people will come looking for you.” His expression changed into a grimace of false pity. “Oh, no! The Enterprise is damaged! But have no fear, the brave crew will do everything to save their captain! They’ll charter a small freighter, a coffin ship, a death-trap, a rust-bucket - only to get you back. Fearless and vailiant officers! Maybe Groundskeeper Willie, and your dear friend, Ole Sawbones himself. They’ll pick up our signal, and because the atmosphere of this moon doesn’t allow them to beam, they’ll have to bring her down. When that happens, I’ll be waiting. I’ll take their ship, and lift off, waving down at you, saying Haw-Haw!”

Kirk almost smiled at Tamulok’s eloquent use of quotations and references to earth’s classics. I’ll find out about your secret, don’t worry! Almost, for he didn’t like Tamulok’s tone, at all.

“On Romulus the Praetor and the Proconsul will be grateful, for I eliminated the rebels. My influence will rise again, and then, I’ll find a day to massacre them all, and raze their faction and their family.” He stopped, smiling at Velal, then turning back to face Kirk again, “that’s my favourite Shakespeare quote, by the way.”

“You don’t know my crew, Tamulok,” Kirk said, “they’re loyal, but no fools.” Tamulok was playing with them, and he didn’t like that.

Besides, no one was going to go after them in a shuttle. Starfleet Command would order Scotty to wait for back-up. Scotty would obey these orders. Of course, he wouldn’t like it. Bones would have fit, but wouldn’t be able to do anything. I’m a doctor, not a damn superhero, Kirk could hear him say.

“May I remind you, that we’ve agreed on burying our differences for the time being?” Velal asked wearily, “If we want to survive, we need water. I suggest we concentrate on finding some.”

“Our chances of finding water will increase when we split up,” Spock agreed, in part because it was the truth, in part because he wanted to confer with his captain alone.


“We’re detecting an automated signal coming from one of the moons in this system,” Sulu reported. They had gone under warp as soon as they had arrived in the star system where the Orion ship had disappeared.

“I see that,” McCoy replied impatiently, “What I don’t see are lifeforms.” He hoped he was reading the scanners incorrectly, but so far, he could only see that automated signal, that had to be an emergency position finding signal from the Orion ship. At least that meant, that something had landed on the moon intact. However, McCoy also knew that these beacons were constructed to survive even the most massive explosions, fires, extreme pressure, variations in temperature, and what not. The old smartass question came to him again: If these black boxes and beacons can survive the most hazardous shuttle crashes, why don’t they make the whole shuttle from this material?

“The moon’s atmosphere blocks our scanners. We’re not getting many readings at all,” Sulu said.

“Right. Can we land anywhere near that signal?”

“It will be kind of tricky, for we cannot rely much on our scanners. And since we first have to penetrate the thick layer of clouds, and won’t be able to see much until we’re through, it is a little bit like flying blindly into the great unkown,” Sulu said, looking at McCoy’s expression. He then added quickly: “I think I can do it, sir.”

“A “sir, yes, sir” would have done, Hikaru,” McCoy said, a bit irritated by the fact that Sulu had called him “sir”. Of course, he was the highest ranking officer here, and that made him the one in command. But, since they were both on leave (they weren’t even wearing their uniforms) this was not an official mission by any means. He wasn’t even entirely sure if their little jaunt was completely legal.

“On the other hand, I appreciate and have noted your insight. Now bring us down, Lieutenant,” he added, after having pictured themselves being court-martialed for whatever it was called they were doing. In-subordination, maybe. Or misappropriation of Starfleet equipment, since they were both carrying a phaser and a communicator. Plus, he had brought some medical supplies from sickbay and some food rations from the mess, among other things that weren’t part of his personal belongings, technically speaking.

Leave the technical and legal talk to Spock, McCoy thought. That pointy-eared nitpicker won’t get tired in pointing out which Starfleet laws, or which laws of plain and simple logic I have broken when I decided to go after them - if he’ll able to talk, that is. McCoy felt worried again. Worried for Spock, worried for Jim, worried for Sulu who might be risking his career by what they were doing. And he was worried about T’Plok, no Velal, Tamulok, and whoever else had been on that little ship. Crashes like these could be really gory events. He’d seen victims with third-degree burns, severed limbs, compound fractures, split skulls so that you could see the grey matter coming ...


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