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Security Officer Baillie
Did you ever see that old motto that people used to stick up in offices and such places way back?
"You don't HAVE to be crazy to work here - but it helps."
Well, there are times when I reckon that whoever wrote that must have known about the Enterprise. Think about it - weeks of nice, normal, peaceful routine, then suddenly everybody's rushing around in a frenzy of activity and sheer heartstopping terror. So why do I stick around? I guess because I'm crazy too.
Take our visit to Tessra, for instance. At the time, I swore blind that if I ever got off that planet, I'd quit Starfleet so fast even Scotty couldn't build an engine to catch me.
It all starts out as a routine planet survey - but then, doesn't it always? Spock's running the show because McCoy's hauled the Captain off to sickbay - he picked up a bad case of fever on our last call, and it's not responding to treatment. Our tame witch-doctor's just about running himself into the ground trying to come up with a cure.
Nobody gets too excited when orders come from Starfleet Command to survey Tessra, even though the Prime Directive is in operation; it's the sort of mission we've done a hundred times before with no problems.
It doesn't even matter too much when Scotty reports a transporter malfunction which he reckons will take quite a while to fix. Rather than hang around, Spock decides to use the shuttlecraft to take a landing party down to complete the survey. He goes himself, of course, taking Sulu, a geologist, and a couple of security guards, me and a bloke called Danvers.
I'm helping Sulu when it blows up on us; we're quite a distance away from the rest of the survey party when an alarm call comes from Danvers, who's working with Spock and the geologist. Sulu and I drop everything, and head back to where we left the others. Not being too sure what's happened, we approach quietly, and take a look from hiding. It's lucky we do, because what we see is pretty bad. Danvers and the geologist are dead, no question about that, and at first I think that Spock is too, until I see him move, and realise he's only been knocked out. Standing over the bodies are about a dozen Tessrans, and they don't look any too friendly. I don't see any firearms, but they're all armed with efficient-looking swords and spears. Sulu has his translator on, and we can make out what they're saying. The leader, who has been bending over Spock, turns to the others.
"Bind the demon securely, and watch him closely. We must return at once to the temple - the High Priest must be told of this."
A couple of the men lead up some animals that I suppose you'd call horses if you weren't too fussy, and Spock is tied on to one; he looks dazed, but he's trying to pull himself together. The others mount up, and they head off fast. As they move off Sulu leaps up, and I have to pull him down again.
"Just what do you think you're doing?" I ask him.
"They've got Mr. Spock - we can't let them take him."
"Listen, Sulu, remember the Prime Directive is in operation here. It's bad enough already, but if we go charging in, there'll really be trouble. Nobody's going to leave Mr. Spock, but we've got to think things out first."
Luckily, the Tessrans haven't spotted the Galileo concealed among the rocks, so Sulu and I take the bodies on board, and try to work out the best plan of action. The first thing is to find out where Spock is, so Sulu calibrates the sensors for Vulcan life readings, and we manage to track him. After a couple of hours we've got a fix on him - wherever the Tessrans were heading, they're there; presumably in the 'temple' the leader spoke of. In the meantime, I've called up Scotty, and filled him in on what's happening.
He wants us back on board, so we prepare to take off; I tell him that on the way back I'll fly over the co-ordinates we now have for Mr. Spock, and try to get some idea of the general layout. The sensors should give us a good picture of the terrain, and we can fly high enough not to be seen from the ground.
That done, we return to the Enterprise. The bodies are taken to sickbay, and Sulu and I are called to the briefing room.
It seems weird to be sitting there without either the Captain or Mr. Spock in charge. Apart from Sulu and me, there's only Scotty and Dr. McCoy.
"Right," says Scotty. "What happened - and how did it happen?"
I tell him, with as much detail as I know. "Don't ask me how it happened," I end up. "Danvers was security watch on Mr. Spock. He's paid for his mistake, poor devil."
"The trouble is," says Scotty, "that Mr. Spock may pay as well. Doctor, what's the Captain's condition? Is he in a fit state to be told what's happened?"
"Absolutely not," says McCoy firmly. "You know what he's like - if he gets wind of this, he'll try to take over, and it'll finish him. We've got to handle this ourselves."
"The transporter's still out," Scotty says distractedly, "so we can't snatch Spock that way; the Prime Directive forbids a rescue party. We can't leave him there, yet we can't go in and get him, so what the hell do we do?"
"We can't send a landing party," I say slowly, "but we could send a couple of men down in native clothes to take a look at the situation on the ground. I'd be glad to go myself - I might be able to contact Mr. Spock, and he may have some ideas himself."
"It does seem to be a possibility, Mr. Baillie," Scotty nods. "Let's see what information the shuttlecraft picked up."
The film projected onto the briefing room screen shows what appears to be a fairly large city; its most distinguishing feature is a large, flat-topped pyramid set in an open space in the shadow of a towering cliff.
"The life readings place Mr. Spock within the pyramid," says Scotty. "Presumably this is the 'temple' the Tessran leader spoke of; that, and the reference to a 'High Priest' seems to indicate some sort of religious authority. Taking that into account, I don't like the fact that they called Spock a 'demon'; he could be in really bad trouble."
"It's those ears of his!" snorts McCoy, but you can tell he's worried too. "Scotty, we should do something soon - the longer we leave it, the worse trouble he could be in."
We fix it up that Sulu and I will take the shuttlecraft and return to the surface. Disguised as Tessrans, we'll try to get into the temple and contact Spock. Scotty gives me a miniature communicator in case I get a chance to smuggle it to the Vulcan; it won't reach the Enterprise, but I'll be able to pick it up on my own communicator. It's not much, but it's the best we can do for the moment.
We land the shuttlecraft as close to the city as we dare, and conceal it as well as possible among the rocks, then we set out on the hike to the temple. Seems as if the entire population have the same idea, because we soon meet up with crowds of Tessrans all heading in the same direction. Our disguises pass muster, and it turns out to be a lucky break, because we're soon lost in the crowd.
On this level we get a better idea of the layout of the city. The pyramid temple stands alone, backed by the towering cliff that rises behind it, and an open space in front, bounded by a line of marker posts, and forming a triangle with a curved base; beyond this boundary the streets radiate out, so that the city forms a semi-circle with the cliffs as the diameter, and the temple at the centre.
At last we pass through the open gates of the temple, and come into a vast hall which takes up most of the ground floor of the pyramid. On the rear wall is an intricate mosaic picture, which I recognise as a stylised sun disc set in a triangle. In front of this is a raised platform, on which stands an altar and a carved throne. Just as Sulu and I come through the gate, the notes of a gong echo round the hall, and the Tessrans fall to their knees as if they'd been slugged; not wanting to be conspicuous, Sulu and I go along with the crowd. Out of the corner of my eye I can see some movement taking place on the dais, but I wait until everyone else stands up before I risk taking a look. There are now about half a dozen of the guards we'd already seen, and the throne is occupied by an elderly man I take to be the High Priest. At first I don't see Spock, then the woman in front of me moves aside, and he's there. At the edge of the platform is a post, and he's chained to it by a metal collar round his throat. His hands are bound behind him, but he doesn't seem to be hurt.
"Draw nearer, Children of the Sun," says the old priest, "and look upon the demon who has been sent to trouble us."
There's a general movement towards the platform, so Sulu and I take advantage of the confusion to work our way nearer to Spock; soon I could reach out and touch him.
"Find me a diversion," I tell Sulu. "Preferably something noisy." He nods, and slips off through the crowd, just as I manage to catch Spock's eye. Trust old stone-face - he doesn't bat an eyelid, but he knows I'm there, he's recognised me.
The High Priest has risen from the throne and moved forward.
"My children, we have questioned the demon, but he will not reveal his purpose here. Never in history has such a one appeared to us, though the teachings of our ancestors have prepared us to deal with the evil he brings. The passage into our world has weakened his power, and by the grace of Hedra, we have been able to chain him."
At this point everyone bows in the direction of the altar, and it's pretty clear even to me that the Tessrans are sun worshippers, and Hedra is the incarnation of the sun. The priest goes on.
"We know that the power of the demon will be weakened for three days, therefore at sunrise on the third day he must pass to judgement. We ourselves dare not deal with one so great in evil; he will pass through the cleansing fire to Hedra, who will judge him in his own realm. Do not fear, he can do no harm. Go now, people, and return at sunrise on the third day, when the fire will be lit, and this evil will pass from our midst."
As his words sink in, I realise just how much trouble we've bought this time; if I've picked up all this talk of fires correctly, the High Priest means to have Spock burned alive.
I'm just wondering where Sulu's got to when I hear a terrific crash from the temple entrance; somehow I manage not to look round, but take advantage of the confusion to move even closer to Spock, whose eyes are still on my face.
"Have you been searched?" I whisper, hoping he can hear me. He can, because he nods, then shakes his head when I ask, "Are you chained all the time?"
Thankfully I reach out and drop the communicator into his boot. "I'll be nearby," I tell him. "Contact me when you can."
I'm about to turn away, but his eyes hold me. "How is the Captain?"
His face and voice give nothing away, but I know him better than I did, and I can see how worried he is.
"The Captain's fine," I assure him. "Dr. McCoy is taking good care of him - he'll probably be up and about by the time we get back."
So okay, it's a lie, but I wasn't going to add to his troubles. I grin, then lose myself in the crowd. Now I've got to locate Sulu, and get out of there. As I get near the entrance, I spot him making his way towards me. At the same time, I see his 'diversion'; he's used his phaser to cut through the hinges of the gate, and the crash of its falling gave me the time I needed.
"Lucky nobody spotted your phaser beam," I mutter.
"No chance. I made my way to the back of the crowd, and they were all too interested in the 'demon' to notice me."
"Good. Come on, we've got to find somewhere to hole up until Mr. Spock makes contact."
It's no use going into the city, and we can't get too far away because of the limited range of the communicator, so we decide to try the cliffs behind the temple. There don't seem to be any guards rushing about, so it's obvious the Tessrans don't expect anyone to come screaming in demanding their demon back. Sulu's performance with the gate hasn't caused a panic either, so I reckon they've assumed it was some sort of accident.
As we pass behind the temple, Sulu spots a cave not too far up the cliff face which makes a good hiding place, so we settle down to wait. There's no word from Spock for a couple of hours, and I'm starting to get restless, when my communicator bleeps.
"Baillie here," I acknowledge.
"Good evening, Mr. Baillie. I trust that you are safely concealed?"
Just once, I'd like to see that man get really agitated about something. "Yes, thank you, Mr. Spock. Sulu and I are in a cave behind the temple."
"Ah, yes, Mr. Sulu. I take it he was responsible for the diversion?" Honestly, social chit-chat at a time like this!
"What's your position, Mr. Spock?"
"I am at present confined in a cell just under the roof of the temple. There are guards outside, but I am not under constant supervision."
"How about windows? Any way out there?"
"Negative, Mr. Baillie. The opening is too small."
"Could we get to you from inside the temple?"
"I think not. The upper part of the temple is restricted to the guards and priests; you would be questioned almost at once."
None of this sounds any too helpful, but I persevere. "Have you been told what they intend to do with you?"
"Yes, the High Priest was most explicit. The ... execution ... will take place on the temple roof. I will be chained to the pyre at sunset, and the fire will be lit at dawn."
His voice is as dispassionate as ever; you'd never believe he's talking about his own agonising death.
"Listen, Mr. Spock," I tell him. "To be honest, I haven't the faintest idea how to get you out. As soon as it's dark, I'll try and reach the temple roof - I may get some inspiration once I've seen the layout."
"Someone is coming," he says hurriedly. "Spock out."
I put away the communicator, and take a look at the temple; the sides of the pyramid are stepped, and I reckon I'll be able to climb it - I used to do a bit of rock climbing once.
As soon as dusk has fallen, I start the climb; no point in hanging about. I've got the beginnings of an idea, but I'll need to check out the roof before I go any further. It's a stiff climb, but not impossible, and at last I crawl over the low parapet onto the flat roof. Trying to get my breath back, I take a look round. The site of the execution is obvious enough; in the centre of the roof is a high platform which I judge can be clearly seen from ground level; on the platform the wood for the pyre is already in position, with the metal stake rising from the centre. There's a small altar on the platform, and I'm betting Spock's life and mine that the High Priest will light the fire from that spot. I can see that a man bound to the stake would be well above the head of anyone standing on the platform. All at once my idea seems possible. I make the return trip to the cave, where Sulu is waiting anxiously.
"I think I've got it, Sulu. Any word from Mr. Spock?"
"Nothing, Mr. Baillie. I hope he's all right."
I trigger the call signal on the communicator; Scotty's rigged it so that the note is too high-pitched for Human (and, we hope, Tessran) ears, but audible to Vulcans. There's no reply at first, then at last,
"Thank heaven! I think I've found the way out, Mr. Spock; Sulu and I are going back to the ship for some equipment - don't worry if you can't reach me for a bit. I'll contact you again before we make the snatch."
"Thank you, Mr. Baillie. Please do not take any unnecessary risks on my behalf. Spock out."
To tell the truth, I'm a bit worried by this exchange. Spock is never exactly bubbling over with enthusiasm, but his voice sounds strange - even more than usually flat, and stilted. Still, the only thing I can do for him is get back to the Enterprise and start things moving, so Sulu and I head off back to the Galileo.
Once more it's just the four of us gathered in the briefing room. McCoy looks distinctly edgy as he comes in, and says to Scotty,
"Jim's beginning to suspect that something's wrong - he's come round a couple of times and asked for Spock; I don't know how much longer I can stall him."
Scotty turns to me. "Any progress, Mr. Baillie?"
I explain the situation to him, then go on, "As I see it, the best solution would be to rescue Mr. Spock without the Tessrans realising he's gone. They get rid of their demon, we get Spock back, and we don't upset Starfleet Command by violating the Prime Directive."
"And how do we accomplish that little miracle?" snorts McCoy.
"That's up to Mr. Scott. At sunset tomorrow, Mr. Spock will be taken from his cell to the temple roof, and chained to the stake. He will remain there until dawn. That's when we make the snatch - during the night. Mr. Scott, do you have enough time to construct a robot duplicate of Mr. Spock? It won't need to be elaborate, as long as it looks like him and has the ability to move."
"I get the picture," Scotty says excitedly. "Yes, it can be done."
"Well, I don't get it," grumbles McCoy. "What's the idea?"
"The idea is that I climb the pyramid during the night, release Mr. Spock, replace him with the robot duplicate, and we head back to the shuttlecraft. It's full of holes, I know, and it's a terrific gamble, but I don't see any other way. From what I've seen of the arrangements, the Tessrans won't get close enough to detect the substitution; once the execution is over, it should be easy."
"Well, laddie, it's the best chance we're likely to get; I'll away to Engineering and see what I can do about the robot. Bones, you'd best get back to sickbay and keep an eye on Jim - we don't want him getting wind of this."
For the next few hours I feel pretty useless; I try to grab some sleep, but it's no good - I keep going over things in my mind, trying to plan ahead for any snags that might crop up. There are so many I nearly scrap the whole thing right away, but it's the best we've got to work with. At long last Scotty calls me back to the briefing room; he's beaming like a proud father, and with good reason - the robot is as near perfect as I ever saw.
"Chekov spoke to it in the corridor," he says smugly, "and didn't spot it until I told him. It won't be able to do much, but I've programmed it to react to the flames; it should fool the Tessrans. I think it would be better, though, if I beam it down to you once you're on the roof. The transporter's all right for equipment now, and it'll save you having to control it on the way in to the city."
"Thanks, Mr. Scott. I'll keep in contact."
I winkle Sulu out of the rec room where he's busy chatting up one of the new nurses, and we're back into action. On the way down to the surface, we fix it up that this time he'll stay with the Galileo while I go and get Spock; it's taking too much of a chance leaving the shuttlecraft unguarded so near the city.
By this time, I could find my way back to the cave blindfolded. The Tessrans are not a nosy bunch, luckily, and nobody seems to have noticed my comings and goings. I tuck myself away in the cave, and try to call Mr. Spock to let him know I'm back on the job, but there's no answer. I tell myself not to worry, there are probably guards around and he can't use the communicator. I'm sure he'll find a way to let me know if there has been any change in the plans for him. Sure enough, just about sunset I make out some activity on the temple roof. I don't want to blow the whole deal by being spotted now, so I keep a discreet eye on things from cover. It seems somebody up there likes me, because when they've finished I can see that Spock is alone on the roof - the Tessrans haven't posted any guards.
As soon as it's dark enough, I make with the mountaineering bit again. There's enough light for me to see where I'm going, but not enough to make me easily seen from the ground. I'm just congratulating myself on how well things are going when I reach the pyre and get a good look at Spock. That's when I start reciting a list of the unpleasant things that should happen to idiots like me who join Starfleet Security. They've given him a real working over; the state he's in, I wonder that he's still conscious, but he lifts his head as he hears me.
"Good evening, Mr. Baillie. I am pleased to see you."
His usual unflappable greeting; but his voice is a mere whisper. He's been horribly flogged; some of the lashes have landed on his face, which is badly cut and swollen, and his lips are bleeding. When I release the collar from his throat I have to catch him as his dead weight falls against me. He's never going to manage the climb down from the roof, so I lay him down, move out of earshot, and call up Scotty.
"There's been a change of plan," I tell him. "I'm going to need some extra equipment."
"What's the problem, Mr. Baillie?"
"Mr. Spock has been hurt. We're not going to make it back to the Galileo tonight, we'll have to hide out in the cave."
"What do you need?"
"Ask Dr. McCoy to send me a medical kit - I'd better give Spock a sedative before I try to get him away; in fact I'd be happier if he was totally out - he's in pretty bad shape. I'll need some rope as well, and when we get back to the cave we could use some food and water."
"Right. That's a medical kit and rope now, food and water when you give me the co-ordinates for the cave. Stand by, I'm sending the robot down."
A couple of minutes later the shimmer of the transporter effect signals the arrival of the robot. First thing is to do something for Spock, so I fetch the medical kit. Bones has labelled the hypo, so I give him a shot, and he passes out. Then I reckon I'd better get the robot in position just in case anybody gets nosy, so I ease off Spock's torn shirt, and put it on the robot. It still doesn't look right, so to complete the picture I smear some of his blood on its face. When I get it looked into position on the pyre it looks convincing enough to me; I can only hope it does to the Tessrans.
Now I've got the job of getting Spock back to the cave. There's no other way, I'll have to carry him, so I get him over my shoulder in a fireman's lift and tie him to me as securely as I can manage. I take a last look round; everything looks much the way I found it, so I reckon I'd better get out of there.
The climb down is hellishly difficult - Spock's no featherweight, and I don't have much freedom of movement; at the same time I'm trying not to move too abruptly as I can't tell how badly he's hurt, and I don't want to make things worse. A couple of times I think we've had it, but we get down in one piece. The climb up to the cave is no picnic either, but eventually I stagger inside and lay Spock down. I make him as comfortable as I can, and do my best to clean up his injuries; he looks pretty bad to me, but what do I know? It's one time I could really do with McCoy here.
When I've done the best I can for him, I get back on to Scotty.
"Enterprise - Scott here. What's happening, Mr. Baillie?"
"I've made it back to the cave, and done what I can for Spock. Any chance of the transporter working soon?" "
"Negative. It's going to take some time yet."
"Oh, damn! Well, I suppose there's no help for it, we'll have to stay here today and hope Mr. Spock is fit enough to make the Galileo after dark. Will you let Sulu know - he'll be wondering where we are."
"Will do, Mr. Baillie. I've got your co-ordinates now, and I'll have some supplies beamed down to you. Oh, Dr. McCoy's here - he wants a word."
"Baillie? How's Mr. Spock now?"
"Asleep, Doctor. He looks bad to me."
"Well, listen. I'm sending you some more medical supplies. Give him something to eat, then keep him asleep for the rest of the day. Just before you set out for the Galileo, inject him with the second hypo - it's labelled. It's a stimulant to keep him on his feet, but don't use it until you're ready to leave. Call me at once if there's any change in his condition. Good luck."
"Thanks, Doctor. Baillie out."
As I put away the communicator the supplies are beamed down, so I investigate, as I'm getting somewhat hungry by this time. It's fairly standard stuff, but then comes a well-wrapped parcel, and I get the shock of my life. Scotty has actually parted with a bottle of his illicit alcohol; real, honest-to-goodness Scotch, no less, which he usually guards like he does his engines. Making a mental note not to say anything nasty about him for at least three weeks, I pour myself a drink. Just as I down it Spock comes to, so I take him over some food and water - no use offering him any Scotch. "Vulcans do not..." - you know how he goes on. Give him his due, he makes a damn good job of hiding his pain as I help him sit up and give him the water.
"I owe you my life, Mr. Baillie. Thank you."
"My pleasure, sir," I grin. "Hey, it's nearly dawn - I'd better take a look and see if we've got away with it."
Stubborn as a mule, that man; he climbs to his feet and moves to the cave entrance with me. We've timed it just right, the Tessrans are already arriving on the roof. My heart's really in my mouth as they gather round the pyre, but nobody seems to notice anything different about the chained figure. There's a fair bit of chanting and moving around, then the High Priest takes a torch and sets light to the pyre. As the flames rise, the robot reacts according to Scotty's programming, and it's so realistic I break out in a cold sweat, realising how easily it could have been Spock up there.
"Well, Mr. Spock," I tell him, "it's not everyone who gets a grandstand seat at his own execution."
"Believe me, it is an experience I do not wish to repeat," he says. "Now, I believe I would like to sit down."
I help him back inside, and give him some more water.
"How did it happen?" I ask as I rebandage the still bleeding scars on his chest and arms.
"The High Priest believed that I could be persuaded to reveal my purpose here. He persisted in the belief that I am some sort of demon, and that pain would so weaken my thinking that I would tell him what he wanted to know. That is why I was unable to reply to your last signal - I could not reach the communicator."
He's very white when I finish bandaging him, and ease him back against the cave wall. I'm still wishing McCoy was here, but in the absence of our pet witchdoctor, I give him another shot with the hypo. As soon as he's safely out I pour myself another drink from Scotty's bottle, and settle down to pass the day.. From time to time I take a look outside, but everything stays peaceful.
As darkness falls I waken Spock, and take him his share of the remaining food and water. He eats carefully, in total control of his actions, yet I know he must still be in great pain; and somehow we've to cover several miles of rough country before morning. When we've finished eating, I give him the Tessran clothes I've had sent down for him, and the hooded cloak which completes the disguise, because if anyone spots those ears, it's all up with us. He gets edgy when I take out the stimulant from the medical kit.
"I am perfectly all right, Mr. Baillie," he says stiffly. "I have no need of any of Dr. McCoy's drugs."
"Sorry, sir, orders," I tell him, and move over to give him the shot; in his normal state he could stop me easily, and it's a sign of how bad he is when he submits without further protest.
"Come on, sir, time we were going."
I take a last look round to make sure we haven't left any evidence of our stay, then we begin the climb down. He's very slow and unsteady, unlike his usual swift and precise movements, but we make it safely to the ground and set off through the city. There are plenty of Tessrans about; looks like they've been celebrating the destruction of the 'demon', because most of them are drunk. It's a lucky break for us, as Spock's hesitant step could be put down to intoxication if anybody is watching. We're just passing a particularly merry group when he stumbles, and only my arm round him saves him from falling. Normally I'd never dare touch him, knowing how he hates it, but this is an emergency. As I expect, he stiffens at my touch, but I guess he realises he needs help, because he leans on my arm for a moment before he pulls away and we go on.
At last we're out into the darkness of the countryside, but if the danger from the city lights has passed, we now have to contend with the rough going. I think he's too far gone to notice as he accepts my help again; I can feel how the strain is telling on him - it's sheer will-power that keeps him on his feet now, and I've no medication left to give him. Somehow we struggle on, making the best time we can. If dawn catches us in the open, I guess we've had it.
When I'm sure we're near the Galileo, I give Sulu a call, and he's the most welcome sight I've seen in a long time when he appears out of the darkness, and gives me a hand to get the by now only half-conscious Spock aboard. As soon as we've cleared with Scotty, we head off back to the Enterprise.
The short rest on the return flight seems to have perked Spock up a bit, because he manages to leave the Galileo on his own two feet. McCoy's waiting, diagnostic scanner in hand, looking as if someone's just done him a personal injury. He takes readings from Spock, and his expression is one of deep concern.
"I'm sorry, Spock," he says slowly, and considering the way he normally talks to the Vulcan, the gentleness of his voice really surprises me. "Do you think you can hold out a bit longer? Jim's been asking for you, and if he sees you in this state, it'd worry him; he's not fit to take over yet, but he'll insist on it if he thinks you're out of action. I hate to ask you, but..."
"I shall be all right, Doctor," interrupts Spock. "I think, however, that we should not delay - I cannot maintain control much longer."
We all troop after him to sickbay, McCoy fluttering round him like an anxious hen; poor old blue-eyes really has his hands full this time with both of them out of action.
The Captain's eyes are fixed on the door as we go in, and the relief on his face is plain to see. "Spock! Are you all right?"
"Of course, Captain. It was a normal, routine planet survey, successfully completed. Dr. McCoy tells me that you have been unnecessarily concerned because we were unfortunately out of contact for some time."
"But your face?"
"This?" The hand he raises to touch his cheek is as steady as a rock. "An unfortunate accident - I carelessly stepped on some loose stones, and suffered a minor fall. As you can see, the damage is not severe. Now I suggest that you follow Dr. McCoy's advice, and get some sleep."
While he's talking I can see from where I'm standing that only McCoy's grip on his arm is keeping Spock on his feet. As soon as Nurse Chapel has given the Captain a shot, he folds to the floor like a rag doll. I help McCoy lift him on to the next bed.
"Out!" he orders me. "I've got a sickbay to run, and Mr. Scott wants to see you."
Sulu and I head off to the briefing room, where Scotty is waiting impatiently. We bring him up to date, and he relaxes visibly when he realises we're all back safely. By the time we're through, I'm about asleep on my feet, so I head off to my quarters, pausing at the door to say,
"By the way, thanks for the Scotch."
"I thought you could be doing with it, laddie - but don't look for any more."
In a few days things are back to what passes for normal on the Enterprise. Kirk's over his fever and back in command; Spock, with his Vulcan powers of healing, is back on duty quicker than I'd have expected. The Captain is madder than fire when he finds out how we tricked him, but with his usual incontestable logic Spock points out that killing himself trying to help wouldn't've done anybody any good.
As soon as they're sitting up and taking notice, the Captain and Mr. Spock call me in to thank me for what I've done. I carefully refrain from pointing out that as senior security officer of the landing party, I'd've been up to my neck if there'd been an inquiry into the loss of our first officer; and accept their thanks with becoming modesty. As it happens, I've done myself a bit of good, because Kirk tells me he's decided to make me up to security chief - a nice little bonus. I make myself a promise, though; if that blasted Vulcan does another planet survey where the Prime Directive is in operation, I'm going along as his personal bodyguard. I might get my head blown off, but even that would be preferable to going through another situation like Tessra.
Like I said at the start -
"You don't have to be crazy to work here - but it sure helps!"