Star Trek TOS: Sins of the Apostates

Envy (continued)

“Alright. Hold on to something, Doctor,” Sulu said, smiling to himself. He’d noticed McCoy’s use of his first name and then his switching to the formal “Lieutenant” again. He’d never call the doctor “Leonard”, but he didn’t mind if he called him Hikaru. He also realizd why McCoy had called him by his rank after that. If they’d ever get into trouble with Starfleet Command because of this little adventure, he knew McCoy would take all the blame and claim all responsibility.

He piloted their ship into the moon’s atmosphere, steering towards the signal coming from the surface.


“So far, he hasn’t done anything that could be considered threatening to us,” Spock reasoned with his captain.

“That’s right, he just abducted us, threatened to abandon us here on the planet and massacre us all,” Kirk said and tested how deep the muddy pools on the ground were. Not even six inches. They were filled with a brown, stinky, muddy brew. Nothing you would want to drink.

“He was only referring to the Romulan government in that context,” Spock answered.

“Spock. He killed innocent people on Starbase 3, abducted us, wanted to sell us to the Orions, betray us, even though we had an agreement.”

“Yes, Captain. He deceived you. And now, I believe your wounded pride gets in the way of your judgement.”

Kirk chewed his lip. “You’re starting to sound like Bones,” he said, smiling slightly.

Spock raised an eyebrow. “Yes, I believe this to be one of the rare occasions when we’d both agree on something. Captain, you usually value Dr. McCoy’s advice.”

“I do. And I value yours. However, Spock, just sometimes I have to listen to myself. And I just know, that we have to do everything to eliminate Tamulok while we still have a chance. He is very dangerous. Maybe not necessarily to us at this very moment, but I believe he is insane and about to gain a lot of power. That’s never a good combination.”

“Captain, you are sentencing a person to death, because of crimes he did not yet commit.”

“Spock. He killed many innocent people in that bar, did he not?”

“I believe he was responsible for their deaths, yes. But that does not give you the right to murder him.”

Kirk started at the harshness of the word. He hadn’t expected Spock to call him a murderer. Bones, yes. He could be absolutely fearless when it came to criticising his captain’s moral judgement, every now and again. But Spock was usually more diplomatic. Maybe he was trying to make up for Bones’ absence.

They suddenly heard a hissing sound, followed by something dark flashing across the sky. A ship. They had been found.

Kirk should have been relieved, however, a feeling of apprehension came over him.


McCoy felt as if all air had been sucked out of his lungs when he stepped out onto the moon’s surface. It was hot, although you couldn’t see the sun which was behind the thick layer of clouds.

“Just like Georgia,” Sulu said to McCoy, slightly teasing. The planet seemed like a barren and muddy desert, but the climate did remind him of a brief stay in Georgia during his teens.

“Before a hurricane,” McCoy added and walked a few metres to test the ground. It was muddy. There were pools of dirty water scattered all over. The only vegetation he could see were low scrubs with short, greyish leaves and thorns.

“I can detect the beacon clearly now,” Sulu pointed into one direction, “it’s about a kilometre away. Actually, if it weren’t so hazy, we would be able to see it.”

“What about lifesigns?” McCoy asked, dreading the answer.

Sulu brightened, then furrowed his brow. “Strange. I thought I had them. Now I’m not so sure. Something or someone is about a kilometre in that direction. Then, something is a little closer in the opposite direction, and something else is near the ship.”

“Okay, lets go after them, then.”

“Is that wise? We don’t know who they are, the captain and Mr. Spock, or the Romulans and Orions, or something completely different.”

“Mr. Sulu, there was an explosion on their ship which made them crash on this moon. It’s very likely that they, whoever they are, need medical attention. And fast. They don’t know we’re here, so we have to find them. Besides, we’ve both got phasers.” McCoy reached for his phaser again. It was set on “stun”. Then he checked his emergency medkit, all there, hopefully it was enough.

“They must have seen us landing, even in this light,” Sulu speculated, looking at the sky. Not only did the clouds block the sunlight, but he also believed that the sun was about to set again. “Well, why don’t you stay here, in case they find us? I’ll search for them at the site of the crash.” He tried to make it sound more like a suggestion than an order. After all, he wasn’t in command.

“Aye, sir,” McCoy joked. It was true, in order to find them fast, they needed to split up. And who knew? If Spock and Jim had seen them land, they’d probably be on their way to here right now.

Sulu nodded and moved away quickly, always an eye on the scanner readings.

McCoy trodded a few feet away from the ship and started to examine the ground. The water in the puddles was foul, not drinkable. Maybe if you boiled it, but then, who knew if Jim and Spock had anything they could use as a pot. And how could they make fire? What was there to burn? He gingerly touched one of the thorny plants with the tip of his boot to examine it further. The thorns caught on the robust material and ripped it when he pulled his foot away again. Better not fall into one of these, he thought.

“Doctor!”

He heard a woman yell, not far behind him. He drew his phaser instinctively, turning around. It was the former T’Plok, now Velal, and Tamulok who forcefully held her in front of him, one hand behind her back, capturing her hands, one hand around her throat.

“Velal. You okay?” he asked, for what else could he have said?

“Oh, Doctor. I see you found out about her secret identity,” Tamulok sneered.

“Sh-oot!” she croaked, having trouble speaking, because Tamulok was crushing her windpipe.

McCoy blinked. His thoughts were racing, while Tamulok forced Velal to take another step forward. If he shot at him now, he’d only hit Velal, there was no way he could aim accurately enough to spare her. But then, why should he? The phaser was set to stun. Maybe it would distract Tamulok enough to let her drop. And then he’d have a clear firing line to take him out also.

Tamulok was still coming closer, Velal was unable to breathe now, but McCoy heard the word she was screaming in her mind: “Shoot!” and so he did.

As expected, Velal was hit and stunned instantly, sagging like a dead body in Tamulok’s arms, but to McCoy’s horror, he did not let her drop, but kept her upright in front of himself, still moving towards McCoy.

You’ll only kill her if you shoot again, but you won’t be able to take him out. He’s a damn Romulan. He’ll break your neck and then he’ll take your phaser.

He heard shouting from a far away distance: “Bones, shoot him!”

Jim?

His world suddenly was set into slow motion while he tried to figure out a way out of this dilemma. Tamulok was almost close enough to touch him, but still shielded behind Velal. Suddenly his eyes caught the plant he had been examining before and he thought he’d found a way out.

With force and skill he threw the weapon into a patch of scrubs and realized with satisfaction that it got buried in it deep enough to make it almost impossible to get out with bare hands.

The action confused Tamulok for a moment but he didn’t take long to think of another plan. He shoved himself against McCoy, so that he fell backwards into the muddy puddle behind him. Tamulok then threw Velal forward, and she fell face down into the muddy water beside McCoy, who hurried to turn her unconscious form around to keep her from drowning.

Jim, who came running towards the little ship, alongside Spock, saw in utter disbelief and rage, as Tamulok overwhelmed his dumbfounded, initially armed CMO, clambered into the ship and after another agonisingly long moment closed its hatch just a slplit second before he arrived.

Jim, who came running towards the little ship, alongside Spock, saw in utter disbelief and rage, as Tamulok overwhelmed his dumbfounded, initially armed CMO, clambered into the ship and after another agonisingly long moment closed its hatch just a slplit second before he arrived.

Kirk drummed against the hull with his fists, but could not do anything to keep the ship on the ground. Its engines were powered up with a roar. Then a mist of stinking water and mud was stirred up as the ship left the ground.

“What the hell did you do?”

Kirk was furious. He could picture Tamulok stitting in the pilot’s chair, pointing a finger down at them, laughing: “Haw, haw!” Just as he had predicted it.

How could this have happened? First of all, why was Bones here? Secondly, why did he not SHOOT? The doctor had had a phaser, but when Jim and Spock had started running, they saw Bones throwing it away.

So the first thing he’d said to his friend was this reproachful question: “What the hell did you do?”

Strangely, Spock was the one who answered it.

“He may have saved all our lives, Captain. If Tamulok had gotten hold of the phaser, he could have killed us all, since we’re unarmed.”

Kirk let out a snort. “Bones wasn’t unarmed.”

“I didn’t have a clear shot, Jim. I stunned Velal, but he still was shielded behind her.”

“You should have vaporized them both,” Kirk said, scornfully.

“Do you mean that?”

“What? You have to ask? You know her real name, so you know she’s a Romulan spy. You came here on a rescue mission? Well, the only thing you accomplished was to become stranded here along with those you wanted to rescue.”

“Captain, his decision to throw away the phaser was the safest choice. Had he fired again, he may or may not have incapacitated Tamulok. If not, Tamulok would have had the chance to take the phaser from him and shoot us all. His actions were ...,” he hesitated, surprised, “based on a logical assessment of the situation.”

It was McCoy’s turn to snort. “Thank you.”

“I was merely stating a fact,” Spock said defensively.

“Of course, you were. Jim ... , Velal revealed her identity to Chekov, knowingly. I think she wanted us to know that Tamulok was dangerous and couldn’t be trusted.”

“All the more reason to not let him escape.”

“Or to keep her alive. The Enterprise is sure to pick us up in a day or two. We’ve got food, drink and medical supplies. And Sulu has got a phaser. So, what’s the fuss?”

“Because now that Romulan terrorist can do whatever he wants to.”

“We know where Tamulok is going,” they heard Velal say quietly. She had come to while the trio had been talking.

“You think he’s still going to Meriah?” Kirk asked her.

“Meriah Five?” McCoy asked, taken aback. He had some bad memories connected to that planet.

“I believe so,” Velal said.

“You know,” Kirk turned to her in anger, “I don’t understand your role in this whole mess. On which side are you?”

“I’m with the Romulan Star Empire, Captain. I was a spy within the Federation, so quite obviously, I’m not on your side. But Tamulok must be eliminated. He is dangerous. Not only for the Empire, but also for the Federation. For the peace in this whole quadrant, actually.”

“Great. Thanks, Bones,” Kirk spit at him sarcastically, and then turned away again. He was probably being unfair, taking all of his anger and frustration out on his friend, he knew that. However, he also knew that Bones could take it. And he probably was, at least partly, to blame for this mess anyway.

“Doctor, where is Lieutenant Sulu?” Spock asked, changing the subject and probably trying to defuse the situation a bit.

“He went to investigate the lifesigns coming from near the site of your crash,” McCoy said, groping for his communicator, then handing it to Spock. He then turned to the bag with the medical supplies. He’d noticed Jim slightly favouring his right leg.

Spock contacted Sulu, who answered cheerily, reporting the lifesigns he had followed to the wreck had disappeared.

“Must be some kind of animal life,” Kirk said distractedly, sitting down on a rock, stretching out his leg. McCoy approached him, his medical tricorder in hand.

“Here Jim, let me see your leg. If you like, you can chew me out some more while I’m doctoring you.”

His words didn’t quite have the effect he’d wanted to evoke, Jim did not smile. But at least he didn’t protest when he started to roll up his trouser leg.

“Are you able to access the Orion ship?” Spock asked into the communicator.

“Yes, sir. The metal is still warm from the fire, but there is no danger.”

“What about the engine? Is it possible to repair it?”

“I don’t think so, sir, it’s completely burnt out. But maybe we could use parts and plasma of the Trill ship the doctor and I came in, to get it going again.”

McCoy ignored the accusing look Jim gave him. “Quite some swelling,” he commented after having examined the hot, red and swollen knee, “you should put some of this ointment on it, to cool it and get the swelling down.” He rummaged around in his bag and handed him a container.

Kirk had opened the container and started to apply some of the cooling gel on his knee. It did bother him more than he had admitted to himself.

“Captain,” Spock said, turning to Kirk, after having talked to Sulu, “I would like to meet Lieutenant Sulu at the site of the Orion ship. It is unlikely that we get it to functioning again, nonetheless, we should investigate that possibilty.”

“Okay, Spock. Make sure that emergency beacon is still functioning.”

Spock bowed his head, leaving the two humans and the Romulan behind.


McCoy was poking at the phaser in the thorns with a water container he’d stolen from the Enterprise and brought on their “mission”. Jim hadn’t asked him any questions concerning his being here, but given the fact that he was wearing civilian clothes, he guessed that Jim had already gotten the picture.

Right now, Jim was sulking, sitting on a rock about 30 metres away, tending to his knee. Velal was also sitting on the ground, cross-legged, her eyes closed. She was probably meditating, or whatever it was that Romulans did. She hadn’t said much after having regained consciousness. And McCoy wasn’t eager to talk to her, although he was curious about how she’d managed to infiltrate the Federation and live on a Vulcan ship without being detected. Or without growing crazy.

He’d managed to create a little hole in the ravel of thorns, and tried to get his hand through without hurting himself.

“Dammit!” he hissed, when he scratched his hand.

Velal opened her eyes at the curse.

“Doctor,” she said, startling McCoy, “I’m sorry.”

“Oh, yeah? For what exactly?”

She didn’t answer, probably because she didn’t know what to say. McCoy sat down, facing her. Then took a swig from the bottle, and offered it to Velal.

She shook her head.

“Oh, yes. I forgot. Vulcans require water only every million years or so. I guess the same goes for Romulans,” he said irritatedly, but still offered her the bottle.

She blinked, then finally took it and took a sip.

“I envy you, doctor,” she said, handing back the bottle.

Of all the things she could have said, this was the least expected, but McCoy didn’t want to let his surprise show. “Right.”

“I would have shot myself and Tamulok without hesitation, on sight.”

“Well, luckily, I’ve got such lame reflexes.”

“No,” she said after a short pause. “your reflexes are fine. Of course, they’re inferior to Vulcan or Romulan reflexes,” she said. Was she teasing him?

“But, you have got something that I have wanted to investigate ever since I started to live among humans.”

“I thought you lived among Vulcans?”

“You forget that there were also humans on the P’Jem. Their life wasn’t easy and they mostly stayed among themselves. However, I sought their company. At first, it was just a part of my mission. But then, it became a general interest in your race.”

“Fascinating,” McCoy said flatly, wondering to where this conversation was going.

Velal smiled slightly, something that McCoy couldn’t get used to. It just didn’t go well with her pointy ears.

“The word is humanity,” she said.

McCoy blinked, but didn’t say anything.

“I find it an admirable concept. It is desirable for all kinds of societies. Human, Vulcan, and Romulan.”

McCoy still didn’t know if she was teasing him, but didn’t care. “It is,” he said simply.

“But although it is called humanity, it is not a fundamental trait of all humans,” she continued.

“Maybe not. But I’ve found most people see it as an ideal, something they are striving after.”

“You see Romulans have different ideals. We aspire towards conformity and discipline. Loyality is not only a virtue, it is the right to exist. Not following an order is a reason to be executed.”

“In our society it is too,” McCoy said.

“But only if these orders do not violate certain moral standards.”

McCoy shrugged. “In an ideal world that may be true. However, human history is full of people justifying unspeakable crimes by saying: “I was just following orders”.”

“Yes. That’s why I said it isn’t a fundamental trait of all humans. But, I believe, it is yours.”

“Thank you.”

“It wasn’t meant as a compliment. As I said, I am envious. I wish my race was more like you.”

“Why?”

“I truly believe my world would be a better place, then.”

McCoy raised an eyebrow and took a breath to say something, when he suddenly heard a hoarse croak and a yell.


They both turned and saw a huge reptile on two legs, with a mouth full of sharp teeth starting towards Kirk who had stood up from his rock, making a lot of noise to drive it away. He threw the container of ointment at it, hitting it square on the nose, but all this only made it more furious. It hacked with its clawed arms at Jim who was able to duck and kick it in the belly. But another hit with its tail brought him to the ground.

“On my planet you died out a long time ago,” Kirk yelled and kicked it in its face once again. It shortly backed away with its head, but stepped on Kirk’s legs with its foot, holding him in place for the final bite into his throat.

Who would have thought that I would be killed by a Velociraptor? Kirk heard a voice in his head when suddenly a phaser beam cut through the air and the reptile collapsed on top of him. With some effort he rolled the thing off of him, taking a deep breath, as far as it was possible in this thick air, and got to his knees.

His hands were muddy and he could feel the brown slime on his clothes already starting to crust over. Spock? Sulu? He looked into the direction from where the shot had come. But instead of the Vulcan and his helmsman he found McCoy running towards him, with a phaser in his hand, Velal who was carrying the emergency medkit in pursuit.

“Jim, you alright?” Bones was shouting.

“Captain?” It was Spock’s voice and he now saw him coming from another direction, Sulu was a few metres behind him, also wearing civilian clothes. It was as if they were at summer camp or something, Kirk thought, laughing a little.

“I’m alright. This is just like that Jurassic Park adventure camp I went to when I was a kid,” he joked clapping McCoy on the shoulder, then turned to Spock and Sulu who were closing up to them.

“Jim, you may have some bruised ribs, let Velal check you out,” McCoy said and Kirk became aware of the Romulan moving a medical tricorder over him.

“Don’t worry, Captain. I really am a doctor,” she said in answer to Kirk’s questioning look.

“Can we repair the ship’s engine, Spock?” Kirk addressed the Vulcan, deciding to ignore the Romulan for now.

“No,” the Vulcan said curtly and went past Kirk without further acknowledgement. “Doctor, let me see your hands!” he said in a low voice, grabbing McCoy’s forearms and turning them, to get a look at at the doctor’s hands.

His right was still calmped around the phaser, which Spock gently pried away and handed to Kirk wordlessly. It suddenly hit Kirk that the last time he’d looked, that phaser had been lying securely in one of those thorny bushes that could be found everywhere on the surface of this moon. Kirk had injured his knee when one of these thorns had lightly pricked his skin through his trousers.

“Bones, you didn’t take the phaser out of that scrub with you bare hands, did you?” he asked, shrugging off Velal now, and craning his neck to take a look over Spock’s shoulder at Bones’ hands.

When he saw the raw flesh and blood on his friend’s hands, he knew the answer, drew in a sharp breath, and felt himself grow dizzy.

“I did not have much time. I thought that thing was going to bite your head off any minute, Jim,” McCoy said defensively, only reluctantly letting Spock inspect his torn hands.

“You better sit down, Doctor,” Spock said quietly. Both the doctor’s hands were severly abraded, his left even worse than his right, scraped raw. At one place Spock caught a glimpse of white bone.

He pushed McCoy towards the stone that Kirk had been sitting on a few minutes before, sitting him down. He then turned to look for the medical supplies they fortunately had with them.

“My god, Bones,” Kirk fell to his knees before him, carefully grabbed his left wrist, and looked at the hand that had been literally torn to pieces. It made McCoy laugh.

“What?” Jim’s other hand fell on his right shoulder, to give him a little shake.

“It’s alright, Jim. I’m not going mad,” McCoy said, sobering, “It does hurt, you know, but I’m not gonna die. It’s just ..., you kneeling in front of me, that look on your face, I thought you were going to propose.”

Kirk searched the blue eyes of his friend. He didn’t look as if he were in pain at all, must be the adrenalin rush. Kirk opened his mouth, but didn’t trust his voice to say anything. Instead, he looked at the hand again which his friend held out awkwardly, as if it didn’t really belong to him.

He suddenly noticed something. “Where’s your ring?”

McCoy’s face fell. “Uh, I left it with the Trill. He took it as a deposit for his ship.” He looked away, then added quietly, “Guess it’ll be difficult to get back, now.”

Kirk swallowed. He knew the ring meant a great deal to him. He never took it off, actually. Spock had returned, exchanging a look with Kirk, before addressing McCoy again.

“Doctor, please give me your hands so I can regenerate your skin,” he said, matter-of-factly. Then added: “It may cause some discomfort, I’m afraid.”

Kirk knew from personal experience that that had been an understatement. Skin generation just hurt like a son of bitch.

“Spock! I thought Vulcans couldn’t lie. It will hurt. A lot. So get on with it, already,” McCoy said, annoyed.

Kirk moved to the side, giving Spock room. He placed a hand on McCoy’s shoulder, giving it a squeeze. Bones needed something else to focus on, while Spock was treating him. “What was the story behind that ring, again?” he asked, although that was one of the few personal things he knew about his CMO.

“I-it was a present f-from a bygone girlfriend,” Bones said turning away. Spock had started to move the medical instrument over his skin, and it did hurt. He hadn’t imagined that it would hurt that much. He even felt tears spring to his eyes.

“She was a Trill also, wasn’t she?” Kirk said in a low voice now. He knew Bones didn’t like talking about this, or anything of personal nature for that matter, and he was aware of Velal standing close by.

“Yeah. ... Emony Dax. Sh-she wasn’t really a girlfriend. J-just an a ... affair,” he bit his lip. He would have closed his eyes tightly, but he was afraid that some of the tears might fall, and he didn’t want to embarrass himself in front of the whole party, who were staring only at him at this very moment.

“Doctor, should we pause?” Spock asked, suddenly unsure if he was doing this correctly. He had briefly considered letting Velal do the regeneration of the skin on the doctor’s hands, however, he’d decided against it. Although he wasn’t a doctor, he knew enough about medicine and first aid to know how to work a dermal regenerator. Anyone could do it, really. But he’d thought that it wouldn’t be appropriate to let anyone else do this.

“No. You’re doing this like an expert, Spock,” he said, smiling at him.

So Spock continued.

McCoy took a deep breath that made him feel lightheaded, and let him sag to the side.

“The ship’s owner recognised it?” Jim asked, suddenly taking a lot more of Bones’ weight than before. Kirk slightly slapped his face, “Stay with us, Bones,” and to Spock he said: “Stop it for a moment, there.”

Spock complied, and the pain eased a fraction. McCoy suddenly felt a sense of deja-vu. He was back on the Enterprise, lying on the bed in Spock’s quarters. Jim was beside him shaking him, slapping his face, telling him to stay with them. He shuddered.

Then the pain in his hands started to bring him back to the present, anchoring him in the here and now. It was just pain, nothing serious, he would live. They all would. Jim’s head was still there where it should be, and now that he’d saved Jim’s life, Jim would probably regret his sulking and anger towards him, and start talking to him again. Actually he already had, he’d asked him about his ring. McCoy searched for Spock’s face. He didn’t have to search for long, he was right there, only inches away.

When Spock resumed his ministrations, Bones had braced himself enough to relate his story again in a steady voice:

“She was a gymnast. Limber like a cat.” He smiled meaningfully at Kirk. “We met before I entered medschool and had a very ... intense week. She was also the one who got me to try out zero gravity. It was magical. Anyway, when she left earth, she gave me her ring, saying that she’d love knowing that it graced my hand which she always claimed was a surgeon’s hand. I know it sounds stupid, but she was a big part of the reason why I finally got enrolled into medschool, and later joined Starfleet.”

“Did you ever meet her again?” Sulu asked, blushing slightly, because he had been eavesdropping. But it really did interest him. There was not much known about the personal life of their chief medical officer.

McCoy didn’t seem to mind, or he was just too exhausted to let it show.

“No, un-fortunately not.”

Spock had taken his other hand and swiftly moved the instrument over it also.

“Maybe the Trill recognised the ring somehow. He may know Emony Dax,” Sulu said excitedly.

“Oh come on, Hikaru. The universe is big. It was a typical Trill ring though. He did recognise its style. I don’t know, I think he was just curious, but then, it may have been valuable for him. We’re not going to be able to give him back his ship, so he’s going to keep the ring. ... And the 500 credits.”

Spock had finished. McCoy looked at his hands. They weren’t bleeding anymore, the skin had been repaired. But they were still swollen, and burning and itching.

“Well done, Spock,” he said, not wanting to thank him, for he didn’t want to be told that a ‘thank you’ was illogical.

“Yes,” Spock said.

Kirk smirked, knowing the meaning which really lay behind McCoy’s and Spock’s words. He was reassured though, when Spock did not let his affection for McCoy show too openly. It meant that everything was alright.

“You should apply some of that cooling gel, it will ease the swelling,” Spock said casually holding out the container to McCoy.

The doctor looked up at Spock in annoyance, still holding out his hands in front of him. He wouldn’t be able to do much with them for another day or so.

Kirk took the container. “We know, Spock,” he said quickly. Then: “We should go back to the Orion ship. Even if we can’t get it to fly again, at least it could provide us some shelter, in case this raptor had a friend.”

“Agreed,” Spock said, waiting.

“Well, you go on!” Kirk motioned for Spock to go ahead. “Give me that phaser. We’ll follow you in a few moments.”

Spock raised an eyebrow at them, then nodded. Sulu and Velal grabbed their belongings in response and started walking. A few metres behind, Spock followed.


When they were out of earshot, Kirk opened the container with the gel and started to apply it onto McCoy’s hands. He knew he was hurting Bones again, although his fingers were moving as lightly as possible over the tender skin.

“Well, I’m listening,” Bones said, after having observed Kirk’s fingertips for a long moment.

“Am I hurting you?” Jim asked, looking up, stopping. His fingers were hovering just a millimetre above his skin.

“No, it helps ease the burn, actually,” he said, “I didn’t know your hands were capable of such a tender touch,” he added jokingly.

Kirk smiled slightly, but said nothing, resuming his actions.

“I’m not going to say it, Bones. I still think you shouldn’t have come after us. And you definitely should have shot that madman. And if you had killed Velal in the process, I wouldn’t have regretted it.”

McCoy held his breath when he looked into Kirk’s eyes. He was so tired that he thought he just couldn’t deal with Jim’s wrath right now.

When Kirk suddenly saw the uneasiness in his friend’s blue eyes, something twisted inside him. Hell, Bones was really looking at him as if he expected Jim to break off their friendship here an now. The opposite was the case. Jim had wanted to reassure Bones, that their friendship was sill intact, it always would be, although he’d made a mistake. Bones was Bones, had he shot Velal and Tamulok on sight, he would have acted out of character. He knew that he’d taken a liking to T’Plok. Given the fact he’d believed she was a Vulcan that meant something, for his relationship with the whole Vulcan species was, to say the least, a difficult one.

And even though they’d found out she was Romulan, he himself couldn’t deny that she was strangely likeable. Not shooting Tamulok was no breach of their friendship, it wasn’t even a very serious mistake, just hesitation.

“I promise you, I’ll get you back your ring,” he said, meaning it, he was a man to keep his promises.

McCoy let out a relieved breath, not quite understanding why he’d doubted their friendship.

Kirk grabbed the container of ointment, closed it, pocketed it, and hooked his arm under Bones’ crook of the arm to pull him up.

“Come on, let’s join the others.”

McCoy was poking at the phaser in the thorns with a water container he’d stolen from the Enterprise and brought on their “mission”. Jim hadn’t asked him any questions concerning his being here, but given the fact that he was wearing civilian clothes, he guessed that Jim had already gotten the picture.

Right now, Jim was sulking, sitting on a rock about 30 metres away, tending to his knee. Velal was also sitting on the ground, cross-legged, her eyes closed. She was probably meditating, or whatever it was that Romulans did. She hadn’t said much after having regained consciousness. And McCoy wasn’t eager to talk to her, although he was curious about how she’d managed to infiltrate the Federation and live on a Vulcan ship without being detected. Or without growing crazy.

He’d managed to create a little hole in the ravel of thorns, and tried to get his hand through without hurting himself.

“Dammit!” he hissed, when he scratched his hand.

Velal opened her eyes at the curse.

“Doctor,” she said, startling McCoy, “I’m sorry.”

“Oh, yeah? For what exactly?”

She didn’t answer, probably because she didn’t know what to say. McCoy sat down, facing her. Then took a swig from the bottle, and offered it to Velal.

She shook her head.

“Oh, yes. I forgot. Vulcans require water only every million years or so. I guess the same goes for Romulans,” he said irritatedly, but still offered her the bottle.

She blinked, then finally took it and took a sip.

“I envy you, doctor,” she said, handing back the bottle.

Of all the things she could have said, this was the least expected, but McCoy didn’t want to let his surprise show. “Right.”

“I would have shot myself and Tamulok without hesitation, on sight.”

“Well, luckily, I’ve got such lame reflexes.”

“No,” she said after a short pause. “your reflexes are fine. Of course, they’re inferior to Vulcan or Romulan reflexes,” she said. Was she teasing him?

“But, you have got something that I have wanted to investigate ever since I started to live among humans.”

“I thought you lived among Vulcans?”

“You forget that there were also humans on the P’Jem. Their life wasn’t easy and they mostly stayed among themselves. However, I sought their company. At first, it was just a part of my mission. But then, it became a general interest in your race.”

“Fascinating,” McCoy said flatly, wondering to where this conversation was going.

Velal smiled slightly, something that McCoy couldn’t get used to. It just didn’t go well with her pointy ears.

“The word is humanity,” she said.

McCoy blinked, but didn’t say anything.

“I find it an admirable concept. It is desirable for all kinds of societies. Human, Vulcan, and Romulan.”

McCoy still didn’t know if she was teasing him, but didn’t care. “It is,” he said simply.

“But although it is called humanity, it is not a fundamental trait of all humans,” she continued.

“Maybe not. But I’ve found most people see it as an ideal, something they are striving after.”

“You see Romulans have different ideals. We aspire towards conformity and discipline. Loyality is not only a virtue, it is the right to exist. Not following an order is a reason to be executed.”

“In our society it is too,” McCoy said.

“But only if these orders do not violate certain moral standards.”

McCoy shrugged. “In an ideal world that may be true. However, human history is full of people justifying unspeakable crimes by saying: “I was just following orders”.”

“Yes. That’s why I said it isn’t a fundamental trait of all humans. But, I believe, it is yours.”

“Thank you.”

“It wasn’t meant as a compliment. As I said, I am envious. I wish my race was more like you.”

“Why?”

“I truly believe my world would be a better place, then.”

McCoy raised an eyebrow and took a breath to say something, when he suddenly heard a hoarse croak and a yell.


They both turned and saw a huge reptile on two legs, with a mouth full of sharp teeth starting towards Kirk who had stood up from his rock, making a lot of noise to drive it away. He threw the container of ointment at it, hitting it square on the nose, but all this only made it more furious. It hacked with its clawed arms at Jim who was able to duck and kick it in the belly. But another hit with its tail brought him to the ground.

“On my planet you died out a long time ago,” Kirk yelled and kicked it in its face once again. It shortly backed away with its head, but stepped on Kirk’s legs with its foot, holding him in place for the final bite into his throat.

Who would have thought that I would be killed by a Velociraptor? Kirk heard a voice in his head when suddenly a phaser beam cut through the air and the reptile collapsed on top of him. With some effort he rolled the thing off of him, taking a deep breath, as far as it was possible in this thick air, and got to his knees.

His hands were muddy and he could feel the brown slime on his clothes already starting to crust over. Spock? Sulu? He looked into the direction from where the shot had come. But instead of the Vulcan and his helmsman he found McCoy running towards him, with a phaser in his hand, Velal who was carrying the emergency medkit in pursuit.

“Jim, you alright?” Bones was shouting.

“Captain?” It was Spock’s voice and he now saw him coming from another direction, Sulu was a few metres behind him, also wearing civilian clothes. It was as if they were at summer camp or something, Kirk thought, laughing a little.

“I’m alright. This is just like that Jurassic Park adventure camp I went to when I was a kid,” he joked clapping McCoy on the shoulder, then turned to Spock and Sulu who were closing up to them.

“Jim, you may have some bruised ribs, let Velal check you out,” McCoy said and Kirk became aware of the Romulan moving a medical tricorder over him.

“Don’t worry, Captain. I really am a doctor,” she said in answer to Kirk’s questioning look.

“Can we repair the ship’s engine, Spock?” Kirk addressed the Vulcan, deciding to ignore the Romulan for now.

“No,” the Vulcan said curtly and went past Kirk without further acknowledgement. “Doctor, let me see your hands!” he said in a low voice, grabbing McCoy’s forearms and turning them, to get a look at at the doctor’s hands.

His right was still calmped around the phaser, which Spock gently pried away and handed to Kirk wordlessly. It suddenly hit Kirk that the last time he’d looked, that phaser had been lying securely in one of those thorny bushes that could be found everywhere on the surface of this moon. Kirk had injured his knee when one of these thorns had lightly pricked his skin through his trousers.

“Bones, you didn’t take the phaser out of that scrub with you bare hands, did you?” he asked, shrugging off Velal now, and craning his neck to take a look over Spock’s shoulder at Bones’ hands.

When he saw the raw flesh and blood on his friend’s hands, he knew the answer, drew in a sharp breath, and felt himself grow dizzy.

“I did not have much time. I thought that thing was going to bite your head off any minute, Jim,” McCoy said defensively, only reluctantly letting Spock inspect his torn hands.

“You better sit down, Doctor,” Spock said quietly. Both the doctor’s hands were severly abraded, his left even worse than his right, scraped raw. At one place Spock caught a glimpse of white bone.

He pushed McCoy towards the stone that Kirk had been sitting on a few minutes before, sitting him down. He then turned to look for the medical supplies they fortunately had with them.

“My god, Bones,” Kirk fell to his knees before him, carefully grabbed his left wrist, and looked at the hand that had been literally torn to pieces. It made McCoy laugh.

“What?” Jim’s other hand fell on his right shoulder, to give him a little shake.

“It’s alright, Jim. I’m not going mad,” McCoy said, sobering, “It does hurt, you know, but I’m not gonna die. It’s just ..., you kneeling in front of me, that look on your face, I thought you were going to propose.”

Kirk searched the blue eyes of his friend. He didn’t look as if he were in pain at all, must be the adrenalin rush. Kirk opened his mouth, but didn’t trust his voice to say anything. Instead, he looked at the hand again which his friend held out awkwardly, as if it didn’t really belong to him.

He suddenly noticed something. “Where’s your ring?”

McCoy’s face fell. “Uh, I left it with the Trill. He took it as a deposit for his ship.” He looked away, then added quietly, “Guess it’ll be difficult to get back, now.”

Kirk swallowed. He knew the ring meant a great deal to him. He never took it off, actually. Spock had returned, exchanging a look with Kirk, before addressing McCoy again.

“Doctor, please give me your hands so I can regenerate your skin,” he said, matter-of-factly. Then added: “It may cause some discomfort, I’m afraid.”

Kirk knew from personal experience that that had been an understatement. Skin generation just hurt like a son of bitch.

“Spock! I thought Vulcans couldn’t lie. It will hurt. A lot. So get on with it, already,” McCoy said, annoyed.

Kirk moved to the side, giving Spock room. He placed a hand on McCoy’s shoulder, giving it a squeeze. Bones needed something else to focus on, while Spock was treating him. “What was the story behind that ring, again?” he asked, although that was one of the few personal things he knew about his CMO.

“I-it was a present f-from a bygone girlfriend,” Bones said turning away. Spock had started to move the medical instrument over his skin, and it did hurt. He hadn’t imagined that it would hurt that much. He even felt tears spring to his eyes.

“She was a Trill also, wasn’t she?” Kirk said in a low voice now. He knew Bones didn’t like talking about this, or anything of personal nature for that matter, and he was aware of Velal standing close by.

“Yeah. ... Emony Dax. Sh-she wasn’t really a girlfriend. J-just an a ... affair,” he bit his lip. He would have closed his eyes tightly, but he was afraid that some of the tears might fall, and he didn’t want to embarrass himself in front of the whole party, who were staring only at him at this very moment.

“Doctor, should we pause?” Spock asked, suddenly unsure if he was doing this correctly. He had briefly considered letting Velal do the regeneration of the skin on the doctor’s hands, however, he’d decided against it. Although he wasn’t a doctor, he knew enough about medicine and first aid to know how to work a dermal regenerator. Anyone could do it, really. But he’d thought that it wouldn’t be appropriate to let anyone else do this.

“No. You’re doing this like an expert, Spock,” he said, smiling at him.

So Spock continued.

McCoy took a deep breath that made him feel lightheaded, and let him sag to the side.

“The ship’s owner recognised it?” Jim asked, suddenly taking a lot more of Bones’ weight than before. Kirk slightly slapped his face, “Stay with us, Bones,” and to Spock he said: “Stop it for a moment, there.”

Spock complied, and the pain eased a fraction. McCoy suddenly felt a sense of deja-vu. He was back on the Enterprise, lying on the bed in Spock’s quarters. Jim was beside him shaking him, slapping his face, telling him to stay with them. He shuddered.

Then the pain in his hands started to bring him back to the present, anchoring him in the here and now. It was just pain, nothing serious, he would live. They all would. Jim’s head was still there where it should be, and now that he’d saved Jim’s life, Jim would probably regret his sulking and anger towards him, and start talking to him again. Actually he already had, he’d asked him about his ring. McCoy searched for Spock’s face. He didn’t have to search for long, he was right there, only inches away.

When Spock resumed his ministrations, Bones had braced himself enough to relate his story again in a steady voice:

“She was a gymnast. Limber like a cat.” He smiled meaningfully at Kirk. “We met before I entered medschool and had a very ... intense week. She was also the one who got me to try out zero gravity. It was magical. Anyway, when she left earth, she gave me her ring, saying that she’d love knowing that it graced my hand which she always claimed was a surgeon’s hand. I know it sounds stupid, but she was a big part of the reason why I finally got enrolled into medschool, and later joined Starfleet.”

“Did you ever meet her again?” Sulu asked, blushing slightly, because he had been eavesdropping. But it really did interest him. There was not much known about the personal life of their chief medical officer.

McCoy didn’t seem to mind, or he was just too exhausted to let it show.

“No, un-fortunately not.”

Spock had taken his other hand and swiftly moved the instrument over it also.

“Maybe the Trill recognised the ring somehow. He may know Emony Dax,” Sulu said excitedly.

“Oh come on, Hikaru. The universe is big. It was a typical Trill ring though. He did recognise its style. I don’t know, I think he was just curious, but then, it may have been valuable for him. We’re not going to be able to give him back his ship, so he’s going to keep the ring. ... And the 500 credits.”

Spock had finished. McCoy looked at his hands. They weren’t bleeding anymore, the skin had been repaired. But they were still swollen, and burning and itching.

“Well done, Spock,” he said, not wanting to thank him, for he didn’t want to be told that a ‘thank you’ was illogical.

“Yes,” Spock said.

Kirk smirked, knowing the meaning which really lay behind McCoy’s and Spock’s words. He was reassured though, when Spock did not let his affection for McCoy show too openly. It meant that everything was alright.

“You should apply some of that cooling gel, it will ease the swelling,” Spock said casually holding out the container to McCoy.

The doctor looked up at Spock in annoyance, still holding out his hands in front of him. He wouldn’t be able to do much with them for another day or so.

Kirk took the container. “We know, Spock,” he said quickly. Then: “We should go back to the Orion ship. Even if we can’t get it to fly again, at least it could provide us some shelter, in case this raptor had a friend.”

“Agreed,” Spock said, waiting.

“Well, you go on!” Kirk motioned for Spock to go ahead. “Give me that phaser. We’ll follow you in a few moments.”

Spock raised an eyebrow at them, then nodded. Sulu and Velal grabbed their belongings in response and started walking. A few metres behind, Spock followed.


When they were out of earshot, Kirk opened the container with the gel and started to apply it onto McCoy’s hands. He knew he was hurting Bones again, although his fingers were moving as lightly as possible over the tender skin.

“Well, I’m listening,” Bones said, after having observed Kirk’s fingertips for a long moment.

“Am I hurting you?” Jim asked, looking up, stopping. His fingers were hovering just a millimetre above his skin.

“No, it helps ease the burn, actually,” he said, “I didn’t know your hands were capable of such a tender touch,” he added jokingly.

Kirk smiled slightly, but said nothing, resuming his actions.

“I’m not going to say it, Bones. I still think you shouldn’t have come after us. And you definitely should have shot that madman. And if you had killed Velal in the process, I wouldn’t have regretted it.”

McCoy held his breath when he looked into Kirk’s eyes. He was so tired that he thought he just couldn’t deal with Jim’s wrath right now.

When Kirk suddenly saw the uneasiness in his friend’s blue eyes, something twisted inside him. Hell, Bones was really looking at him as if he expected Jim to break off their friendship here an now. The opposite was the case. Jim had wanted to reassure Bones, that their friendship was sill intact, it always would be, although he’d made a mistake. Bones was Bones, had he shot Velal and Tamulok on sight, he would have acted out of character. He knew that he’d taken a liking to T’Plok. Given the fact he’d believed she was a Vulcan that meant something, for his relationship with the whole Vulcan species was, to say the least, a difficult one.

And even though they’d found out she was Romulan, he himself couldn’t deny that she was strangely likeable. Not shooting Tamulok was no breach of their friendship, it wasn’t even a very serious mistake, just hesitation.

“I promise you, I’ll get you back your ring,” he said, meaning it, he was a man to keep his promises.

McCoy let out a relieved breath, not quite understanding why he’d doubted their friendship.

Kirk grabbed the container of ointment, closed it, pocketed it, and hooked his arm under Bones’ crook of the arm to pull him up.

“Come on, let’s join the others.”

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