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Sheila Clark

The survey was going to be lengthy; the solar system had not been previously explored, and normally would have been given only a quick check, reported, and left to Starfleet's Survey Section to explore further. However, pressure on Starfleet to find and/or release a planet for agricultural development was strong, and it had become a matter of political importance that one be found. The Captains of all Starfleet vessels, from the smallest Scoutship to the newest Starship, had received instructions to give top priority to planetary survey until further notice. So, when the Enterprise's sensors detected two planets within the ecosphere of Delta Aurigae, Kirk knew that both would have to be thoroughly checked, despite the delay to his schedule that would result. Fortunately, they were in standard cruising mode - there was no clash of priorities such as Kirk had occasionally had to resolve in the past.

Spock brought the sensor report to Kirk's cabin once he had amassed as much data on both as was possible from a long-distance scan.

"Both are M-class planets," he reported, and Kirk sighed resignedly. Well, it had been too much to hope for, that one or both would show up, on first scan, as uninhabitable. "Oxygen-nitrogen atmosphere; gravity and mass of the innermost planet, 0.95 of Earth normal, and of the outer one, 1.03 of Earth normal."

"Both within acceptable range for colonisation," Kirk commented.

"Yes, Captain. Sensors gathered more data on the outer planet; primitive life forms present, extensive plant cover, no sapient or pre-sapient life, oceans of low salinity. There are mineral deposits which could be used to provide a colony with sufficient metals for internal use, at least initially, and ease the financial strain on the early development of an agricultural colony.

"The inner planet has an extremely strong magnetic field which disrupts the readings but does indicate the presence of a considerable amount of iron ores. As far as I can ascertain, fully 50% of the surface is water and there are indications of life form readings, both plant and animal, but I cannot be more precise. I asked Mr. Kyle to check the transporter with regard to beaming a landing party to the surface, and he reports that the transporter beam is also affected by the magnetism; it is not advisable to beam anyone down. Survey of it must be by shuttlecraft."

"Yes, of course... There are no problems regarding the outer planet?"

"None that I can detect, Captain. The inner one also should be perfectly straightforward, apart from using the shuttle."

"Very well. It'll speed the whole thing up if we split the survey and do both halves at the same time. I'll take the Enterprise into orbit around the outer planet - leave Carstairs with me to take charge of the survey team, it'll be valuable experience for him; and you take a party by shuttle to the inner planet. We'll come over and pick you up in fourteen days - that should be long enough to satisfy the Powers that Be that we've done a thorough survey."

"We should accomplish a full survey in less, Captain."

"You know that; I know it. Starfleet Command knows it. But the Federation Colonising Authority doesn't, and they're the ones who have to be satisfied before they even consider assigning an experimental colony to a planet."

Spock nodded almost gloomily. "The bureaucratic mind..."

Kirk chuckled. "Don't let them worry you."

"Worry is an emotion, Captain - "

"With which you are perfectly familiar, Mr. Spock."

The Vulcan's attempt to look indignant while remaining impassive made Kirk grin - a grin in which his affection for his First Officer showed clearly. Spock held his expression for a moment before allowing an answering gleam of affectionate amusement to show.

"You've got the awkward assignment, Spock," Kirk went on, serious again. "We know almost nothing about 'your' planet. Be careful - "

"Naturally, Captain. Self-preservation is logical."

"I wish you'd remember that a bit oftener."

"You never seem to remember it at all."

Kirk grinned again. "Captains aren't allowed to," he said lightly.

Spock looked suspiciously at him. "Jim - promise me you'll be careful."

"Spock, what danger could there be on a planet like this one appears to be? But O.K. - I'll leave all the work to Carstairs and the Science Department," Kirk assured him. "I might go down for a quick look - but that'll be all. Satisfied?"

Spock still looked doubtful. "I have... a premonition - a feeling that there is danger in this mission," he replied.

"Spock, you worry too much," Kirk said. "This is going to be a perfectly standard survey."

* * * * * * * *

The shuttle containing Spock's party left and Kirk took the Enterprise on to the outer planet. In view of Spock's report on the inner planet, Kirk ordered Kyle to check this one too before beaming anyone down, and soon discovered that this planet's magnetism also possessed the ability to disrupt the transporter. Kirk therefore ordered the landing party to go down by shuttle as well, and decided to accompany them as pilot. He would then return to the Enterprise with the shuttle; regulations demanded that only one shuttle at a time be assigned away from the ship for any length of time. It would be a nuisance for Carstairs' party, but it couldn't be helped.

* * * * * * * *

As the shuttle descended, atmospheric conditions quickly deteriorated. It soon became clear that a severe electrical storm was raging over a considerable part of the planet's surface. They could only hope that they would fly out of the affected area, since it didn't matter which parts of the planet they surveyed first.

The shuttle was tossed about wildly in the gusting wind. The pilot struggled to hold the little craft steady. For a while it seemed that he was winning; then lightning flashed, forking wildly, darting from a cloud towards the shuttle. The spark made contact; the shuttle was flung violently across the sky. The electricity that poured into it in that instant cut out the engines even as it struck. Without power, there was no way the little craft could be righted, and it hurtled downwards. Even had its occupants been conscious there was nothing they could have done to avoid the crash that shattered the shuttle, sending up fragments of metal and bodies in all directions. One body, limp in unconsciousness, landed on a thick bed of moss that partly cushioned the impact. The others were not so fortunate.

* * * * * * * *

When he regained consciousness, his only awareness was of pain. His head throbbed unmercifully. He blinked his eyes open, and the light sent darts of agony deep into his brain. Slowly, the stabbing torment eased; he turned his head slowly round.

All around him was...what? He whimpered in dread of the unknown, unable even to think of any words to describe his surroundings. His mind was that of a newborn infant; he could remember nothing.

After a while, something sparkling not far away caught his attention.

Curiosity - the curiosity of the very young - stirred. He had to find out what it was. It took some minutes of struggling before he managed to roll over and discover what his hands and knees were for; he began to crawl slowly towards the sparkle.

He reached out to it and his hand disappeared into it. It was... a new sensation. He pulled his hand out of the sparkle and his hand looked different. An inquisitive tongue licked. It had no taste, yet it was good. He wanted more. He leaned down and plunged his face into the sparkle - and choked. It was sheer chance that lifted his head again, and he found he could breathe once more.

He learned quickly. A few minutes of experimenting and he learned how to swallow the sparkle without choking. It eased the ache inside him that he had only been half aware of. Then he looked around again.

Close by, something moved. A large object ... large and frightening. Even as his mind shrank back in terror, his body remembered the skills the years had taught it; under the impetus of that awful fear, his body scrambled to its feet and ran. Behind him, the slow-moving carnivore, attracted by his single-minded concentration on the water, relaxed, again watching patiently until another unwary creature happened to pass near. It was used to seeing its prey running off.

The terrified flight ended when he tripped over a projecting root to fall heavily. He lay still, trembling, gasping for breath. So far, almost the whole experience of life that was in his memory was of unpleasantness.

He tried to think, but knew no words to formulate his thoughts. He sat up and looked around.

All about him were huge, but motionless, things. They sent out... something that had made him fall. He reached out experimentally and touched, muscles ready to jerk away at the first sign of pain. There was none. The surface was cool and hard, rough, unyielding, and his mind registered that this could not move to hurt him. His body remembered again how to stand and walk; he went to the nearest... thing... and touched it. Hard. His feeler did not sink into it. Although he lacked words he did not lack intelligence, and his mind supplied references. That these were references only he could understand was immaterial; there was no-one to communicate them to.

He explored cautiously. There were hard high solids on all sides, effectively hiding the sparkle where pain lived but which had eased the ache inside him. He needed sparkle again, too, his body told him. He moved on, watchful.

A noise attracted him. Sparkle? It looked like it, but this sparkle was moving, not still, trickling between stones in a narrow stream. Were there pains about? He couldn't see any... Perhaps pains only lived beside still sparkle, not moving. Watch... Watch... He went forward slowly, ready to run, but nothing moved and at last he caught some of the moving sparkle in his feeler and raised it to his taster. Yes. It tasted the same, but it did not ease the ache as effectively as before.

Something brightly coloured caught his attention and he turned towards it. Some bright things hung from a hard high solid. It was less high than some of the others and he could reach the brights. They attracted him and he pulled at one. It came away in his feeler and he looked at it. Instinct raised it to his taster and he bit into it, chewed it and swallowed. It was good. He finished it. He pulled another bright, but even as he bit into it he looked round to make sure no pains had come near. He had learned the first lesson in survival thoroughly.

He could no longer see clearly. Without any memory of day and night, it took him some time to realise that it was the light that was fading, not his seeing. He shivered, aware that his feelers and movers were hurting. Instinct made him rub his feelers together. It eased the hurt. He had to find a warm to shelter in ... to protect him from the pains, too, while he could not see if any were approaching.

There didn't seem to be anywhere. Hard high solids stood all around; there was no shelter there. Or was there? One had fallen; it lay, the green on which it had stood pulled up with it and curled over, forming a small roofed corner, partly walled in on another side by its stem. He crawled in and curled up. Slowly he began to feel more comfortable, if only the ache in his body would ease. Finally he slept.

* * * * * * * *

He woke to find it light again. Memory had still not returned; he did not think to wonder about who he was or where he had come from, but instead set to work to make his warm more comfortable. He studied it carefully and then piled earth up to block some of the holes. He found dead browns nearby and carried a couple of holders full to his warm. He was handicapped by the torn skin that covered his upper body, and after some experimenting he worked out how to take it off. Once it was off, he realised he could use it to carry things, and promptly did so, thus speeding up the 'furnishing' of his warm. That also helped him when, shortly after, a further physical discomfort made itself felt; he was able to unfasten his lower skin with a minimum of difficulty. He debated removing this skin too, but realised that he would probably be more comfortable wearing it.

That accomplished, he realised that he was again wanting brights and sparkle.

As he ate, he remembered the pains. It had not been pleasant, seeing the big creature approaching. Could he find a way to frighten the pains? Something sharp, perhaps...

* * * * * * * *

The days passed. The general ache in his body eased, and became a memory. He roamed further afield with each day, learning the geography of his territory, discovering new foods. He learned where the pains lived - always near sparkle, for they were not fast movers, and fast, small movers were sometimes unwary when they approached sparkle.

One day in his wandering he reached an area where hard high solids did not grow, and he stared out across the open space wondering at the distance he could see.. Not far from the edge of where the solids grew something glittered, and he moved cautiously towards it. As he neared it, it stopped glittering. A lot of sharp-edged stones were lying scattered; flat, oddly shaped. Among these stones were strangely-shaped white sticks, that finally he realised resembled what was left once the pains had caught a small mover. These, then, had been unwary movers who had been caught by pains. He looked round quickly in case one, even then, was creeping up on him, but the area around him was comfortingly empty. To one side, he saw sparkle, and a memory connected. He had come from here ... that sparkle was the first thing he could remember. But a pain lived there. He turned back in among the hard high solids again, the ache within him telling him it was time to find a meal.

Something in his mind told him that small movers might be edible, if he could catch them. He rejected the thought. Memory of his first positive action was too strong; he would not, if he could avoid it, subject any small mover to the flee-urge he had known or the hurt he could remember. The thrower he now always carried was purely for defence against the pains.

He had quickly fallen into a routine. Exploration of his surroundings filled his days, but left him vaguely dissatisfied. He had no word for the concept, but boredom was becoming a problem. Yet he could think of nothing more to fill his days.

* * * * * * * *

He was returning from a lengthy expedition, tired but not contented, when he saw a pain, in front and a little to one side of him. From its movements, he realised it was stalking prey. His lips tightened; he was aware of sympathy for the small mover that was its intended victim. The pains were cruel. But he knew already that to interfere - to save this mover - was misplaced kindness. The pain would find and kill another one ... and this one would not learn from its narrow escape, as he had done, but would run into danger again, perhaps even before the day was out. He moved on, doubly watchful. The pain might change its mind and go for him.

A flash of movement caught his eye. The pain's proposed prey was... quite like himself, standing on two walkers instead of four. He had become so used to the idea that there was no other mover like him that it took a moment for the realisation to pass from disbelief to acceptance. But where had it come from?

During that moment, the other upright mover became aware of the pain. He raised his hand, pointing at the pain ... and nothing happened. Had the mover expected its action to frighten the pain? As the pain leaped, its victim grabbed up an unprepared thrower, but only succeeded in distracting the pain slightly. It misjudged its leap and overshot, its claws tearing open both its victim's cover skin and own skin. Blood that the watcher realised was a different colour to his own ran from the gouges. The pain turned; its victim lay, perhaps dead, perhaps just too frightened to move - the watcher could not be sure. But this victim was a mover like himself. He could not leave this one to its fate. He sprang forward, thrower raised, thrusting it again and again at the pain. The creature backed away, uttering the harsh snarl he knew often frightened small movers.

He was aware of a new feeling. He had frightened a pain! But he did not allow his triumph to lull him into a false sense of security. He continued to watch the pain until he was sure it had forgotten him, then he bent to the mover lying at his walkers.

The mover was stirring slightly, uttering very soft sounds. He frowned. If he left the mover here, it would surely die; he must take it back to his warm. The place was not large, but there was room enough for two. But how could he take the mover back? Instinct, that had served him well in the past, took over again. Almost of their own volition, his feelers slipped under the mover, and he lifted it carefully in his holders.

The mover was still asleep when he reached the warm. The entrance was small; he could not carry the mover in. He took its upper body carefully in his feelers and pulled it in, carefully covering it with dead browns. Then he went out and gathered some brights. If the hurt mover wanted sparkle it would have to walk to it or let him carry it; he had no way of carrying sparkle despite trying to find one. He took the brights back to the warm.

The hurt mover was tossing restlessly and he crouched beside it wanting to help but not knowing how to. He touched the dried blood cautiously, wondering again at the colour. The mover seemed to be suffering from the same hurt that had afflicted him on the first night that he could remember, before he found his warm; it too was shaking slightly. He remembered how he had curled up and slowly felt better. Perhaps there was some way...

Again instinct took over. He slid his holders round the sleeping mover and held it close. There was a strange... satisfaction in the contact. The mover stirred again; once more instinct helped him. He had not vocalised anything since his awakening - what need, with no-one to hear? But now his lips formed the words, "Rest. Safe here."

The mover seemed to understand; it sighed, and began to repeat, "S..." But the effort of uttering the sound seemed to exhaust it. It leaned its head against him and slept again. The complete trust shown touched him, and he lay awake for a long time considering the warmth of the thought before his seeing closed and he also slept.

He woke, puzzled at first by the body lying warm in his holders, then memory returned. The mover was lying peacefully this morning. He studied its face in the dim light of the warm, liking what he saw.

The mover's seeing opened; it looked up at him, and smiled. It said, quietly and very contentedly, "Spock..."

* * * * * * * *

The survey of the outer planet had progressed satisfactorily, but it soon became obvious that they would in fact require much more than the fortnight to complete it. The planet was very fertile, with wide flora and only very primitive fauna, mostly in the sea. The plant life, however, varied, ranging from several that could be developed and used by colonists through a lot that were useless to some that were, for various reasons, positively dangerous. It would need a very full survey to distinguish fully between many of these, and also to determine whether there would be any lasting harm done to the planet's ecology if any dangerous species should be eradicated. Carstairs estimated that a full, complete survey would take several years to complete because of that. Kirk sent off a preliminary report recommending that Starfleet send out a fully equipped botanical research vessel and crossed his fingers that Spock's planet produced no problems. It was an undemanding fortnight and with the ship on orbit standby Kirk quickly became bored. He would gladly have joined the landing party, but botany was not a subject in which he had much interest and he guessed that he would become as bored down there very quickly - nor could he be of much positive help for he had only the most passing superficial knowledge of the subject. He missed Spock, too; McCoy was good company, but lacked the almost instinctive understanding of Kirk's moods that the Vulcan possessed. Come to that, there were times when Kirk felt he understood Spock's alien philosophy better than he did McCoy's medical one. In addition, he could relax in Spock's company in a way that, for some reason he had never been able to determine, was impossible with anyone else. All in all, Kirk was extremely relieved when the fortnight was up and they could go back for Spock's party.

He left a shuttle with Carstairs; the survey oŁ the outer planet would have to continue until he received further orders from Starfleet concerning it. Then he headed back to the inner planet, not really surprised to achieve orbit before Spock. But when twenty-four hours had passed and the shuttle still had not appeared, Kirk really began to worry.

"Mr. Chekov," he ordered abruptly after Uhura assured him for the twentieth time that she was getting no response from Spock's party, "scan the surface. See if you can find anything, anything at all, that might help us detect the landing party." Even as he spoke, his mind slid back several years to another missing shuttle. Spock had been aboard it, too... and had miraculously survived. They had had so many narrow escapes over the years. One day, he supposed gloomily, their luck would run out and one of them would be left alone. He could only hope that it was not yet.

It took Chekov five interminable days to detect signs of what might be a power source. He could not be certain; the planet's magnetism disrupted all the readings. But it was the first sign of anything that even looked as if it might not belong to the planet. Kirk took down a search party in a third shuttle, reflecting as he did so that regulations regarding shuttles were being rather noticeably broken. He shrugged the thought off as irrelevant.

* * * * * * * *

As he landed, his first thought was that Chekov had been wrong. Then he looked again.

"Oh, my god!"

The crashed shuttlecraft's engine had somehow remained more or less intact, although it was half buried in the ground. Soil was flung up in a circle round it like a small meteor crater. Rayed round the crater were bits and pieces of metal ... and six shattered, twisted skeletons. The ground around showed traces of destroyed vegetation. A thick bed of moss-like growth had survived best, though even it showed damage where metal had torn through its two-foot-thick depth. The moss was filling the gaps with new growth, but they were still clearly visible.

Kirk walked round hesitantly, to look at each skeleton in turn. Some of the bones showed toothmarks; insects rose buzzing from the eye-sockets of a skull. There was nothing to indicate which body was which, although Kirk knew that McCoy would be able to identify each.

One body was missing. Dragged away by some carnivore? It didn't seem likely that one man out of the seven in the shuttle had survived - not a crash such as this one had been. Their luck had finally run out. Kirk fought back the tears.

Behind him he could hear the two men of his shuttle crew muttering together. He took a deep breath, straightened his back and turned.

"We'll need to get the remains back to the Enterprise for identification," he said, the evenness of his voice surprising himself. "Go back to the ship, tell Dr. McCoy what's happened, and bring him down to see to it. I'll stay here - have a look round and see if I can find the other body."

"Aye, sir." Kirk stood back as the shuttle took off.

Alone, he sank down on one knee, allowing his grief release.

* * * * * * * *

After a while he stood, pulling himself together. There was one body missing. He should look round, see if he could find any clues to indicate where it had gone. There were marks on the ground as if something had moved very clumsily from the bed of moss towards some water that he could see some distance away, glistening in the sunlight. Could it have been one of the seven man crew of the shuttle, somehow miraculously escaped death? Even if it had been, the marks showed that whatever it was had not walked. Seriously hurt, desperate for water, crawling towards it... and probably dying there of his injuries. Kirk followed the marks.

These reached the water. He could see where someone had stopped to drink; the mark of a hand was clearly imprinted in the soft ground. Then ... the marks changed. Only a running biped could have left those tracks! Suddenly a little more hopeful that someone had, against all the odds, survived, Kirk followed the tracks away from the water and into a wood.

After a short distance, he paused, looking round. A movement caught his eye; a huge creature like a sabre-toothed wolf was approaching, albeit slowly. He whipped out his phaser and fired.

Nothing happened.

There wasn't time to analyse why. (Later he realised that the malfunction was caused by the magnetism of the planet.) As the creature finally stopped its stalk and leaped at him, Kirk snatched up a nearby branch to use as a weapon.

His wild swipe distracted the beast only slightly; however, it overshot him, but its extended claws tore open his shirt and gouged great scratches in his shoulder and upper arm, the impact sending him flying, stunned as his head hit a root.

He partially regained consciousness to an awareness of pain and cold. The creature... where was it? He struggled to move.

Something was holding him... The animal? A soft, familiar voice murmured, "Rest. Safe, here."

Kirk sighed. The miracle had happened after all. He began to say "S..." but it was too much effort. He let his head rest against the Vulcan's shoulder, and allowed sleep to claim him.

* * * * * * * *

When Kirk woke, he already felt much better. Memory returned; he opened his eyes, and smiled at the dimly-seen face looking down at him.

"Spock," he said. "Thank god."

His joy quickly faded at the unexpected response. Spock frowned, as if puzzled, as if trying to remember something.

"Spock? What is it?"

The Vulcan's lips moved silently, as if he was trying to say something but couldn't.

"What's wrong? Can't you speak? But you spoke to me last night..."

"Speak... Can't..." Spock shook his head helplessly. The movement showed Kirk a mark on the Vulcan's head; he reached up and pushed the hair falling over the forehead gently aside. The scar showed clear, even in the faint light.

A head injury. Quite severe, too; it was well healed but would certainly leave a bad scar unless McCoy operated to remove it. Head injuries were nasty things, too.

"Can you remember what happened?" Kirk asked gently.

"Can ...can't... can't remember!" It was said almost triumphantly, and Kirk understood why. The Vulcan had managed to communicate something, and knew it.

"Can you understand me?" Kirk asked.


Kirk drew a deep breath. Knowledge was not gone, then, just the memory of it. That being so, the Vulcan could be helped to remember.

"Can you remember who I am?"

"Can't... but... but you... I..." Spock shook his head again, lacking the words to express what he meant. He let instinct guide him yet again and reached out to touch Kirk's face gently. Kirk guessed what he meant. He couldn't remember - but he was drawn to the Human. Kirk smiled encouragingly.

"Yes, Spock. I like you, too. We're friends."


"Yes. Oh, yes. I never had a better friend than you, Spock. Not even Bones... I'm Jim, Spock. Don't you remember Jim?"

"Jim..." Something connected vaguely. "Captain?"

"Yes, Spock. Captain." Association of ideas. Good. "You came here in a shuttle. It crashed. Do you know where it crashed?"

Spock considered. The place with the sharp stones that he remembered coming from? It could be. "Yes," he said.

"They'll be looking for us there - for me. We thought you were dead too. I'm... very glad you're alive."

Together they scrambled out of the shelter Spock had made out of the fallen tree and some turf and heaped up soil. Kirk looked at it in the growing daylight, then at the Vulcan, respect in his eyes. With no memory to help him, Spock had managed to construct a most efficient little 'home', using only his bare intellect.

"That's a well-made shelter," Kirk said approvingly.

Spock picked up one of his home-made spears and handed it to Kirk, then took one himself.

"Danger?" Kirk asked. "Like that creature that attacked me yesterday? They're common?"

"Yes." It was not a complete answer, but it was the only one Spock's growing vocabulary could give. There were more kinds of pain than the one that had attacked his... friend.

* * * * * * * *

The trip was uneventful, however, though Kirk became aware, as they went, that the sooner McCoy had a look at the scratches he had received, the better it would probably be. It might just be that the wounds had stiffened, but they had definitely begun to nip in a way that spoke of possible infection.

Spock led the way unerringly. A few tiny creatures scattered in front of them, and Kirk noted consciously what he had noted subconsciously the previous day. Birds did not figure in the fauna here.

Ahead, Kirk saw a shuttle through the trees, and movement. Spock stopped.

Kirk glanced it him. "It's all right, Spock. They're some of our men."


"Yes - it least, we all work together in harmony. They do what you tell them, Spock. I'm the only person senior to you on the Enterprise. You're my First Officer."

Spock looked a little doubtful, but he followed obediently as Kirk moved on. They were not seen it first; the men were clearly preparing to begin a search for their Captain, and Kirk mentally noted a commendation for Security Chief Baillie's organisation is he gave the security teams their orders. There was no sign of the bodies, but McCoy was there, checking his medical kit.

The doctor closed the bag containing the kit and fastened it to his belt, looking up is he did so. A look of blank incredulity was immediately followed by a beaming grin. "Jim! Spock!"

The security guards looked round. There was a concerted rush for them. Spock uttered a startled, wordless sound, but before he could move, Kirk said "It's all right, Spock. They're glad to see us, that's all."

"Where were you, Jim? Spock, how did you - "

"Later, Bones. Spock can't remember anything. He'd even forgotten how to speak - but he understands us and can identify associations, so I think we'll be able to help him remember all right."

* * * * * * * *

Once on board the Enterprise, McCoy subjected Spock to a very thorough examination. He finally satisfied himself that the Vulcan had somehow escaped the crash relatively undamaged, although just how, he couldn't think. There were traces of almost healed muscular strain and deep-seated bruising undoubtedly caused by the impact, but only the head injury was serious. McCoy spent a long time fussing around Spock's head, more disturbed than he cared to admit by the quiet way the Vulcan accepted the attention, before deciding that even this injury was almost healed.

He straightened and looked over to where Kirk sat at the desk, clearly and with a considerable effort controlling the urge to fidget while M'Benga finished cleaning the deep gouges on his arms. "The physical damage is negligible," he reported. "As for the mental damage, who can say? The brain's a tricky thing. The wonder is that he's alive it all if he forgot everything - a Vulcan body is very dependent on his brain to carry out a lot of the functions that are wholly autonomous in Humans. He could have been operating at infant level, of course..."

"He's relearning quickly - tell him something just once and he remembers it," Kirk reminded him. "He probably picked up a lot - ouch! - in the early stages by experimenting, like a child does."

"If you sit still, Captain, I could finish without hurting you further," M'Benga pointed out.

"Yes - well, hurry up!" Kirk said impatiently.

McCoy ignored the short exchange. "You said he can grasp associations," he said, almost to himself.

"Yes." Kirk, too, was more intent on Spock's condition than his own.

"Then I'd suggest physical rest, either here or preferably in his cabin as long as someone stays with him - "

"I will. I'd be more use there than twiddling my thumbs on the bridge."

McCoy smiled to himself. Jim's picking up some of Spock's habits, he thought. A logical excuse for an emotional motivation. "What makes you think you'd be getting back to the bridge right now, Captain?" he asked. "You're off duty until I'm sure that there's no infection in that arm and that it's healing properly. As for Spock - with the computer going all the time giving him assorted data, he should soon remember learned knowledge; what I can't do much about are the personal experiences, memories... the things that make a man what he is."

"There'll be his personal log," Kirk suggested.

"Yes - that'll help. And as the bruising in his brain heals, he may remember spontaneously, too. Go on, then - get him down to his quarters...and don't get too bored listening to the computer spouting science!"

Kirk grinned a little ruefully, knowing that he would get bored by all the science, but knowing it was necessary - and that it would be well worth it. "Spock - come on, Spock."

He led the Vulcan out. McCoy watched them go, and turned back to re-check his findings. If he was wrong, Spock would probably have to be assigned to a shore position; a man with a faulty memory would never be left on a Starship. But at heart, McCoy was sure that he was right. As the bruising healed, Spock's memory would return in full; all they were doing was speeding up the process.

The surgeon tidied away his scanners and the tapes, and then turned to the less pleasant task of identifying the six skeletons lying in the ship's morgue.


Copyright Sheila Clark