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Security Officer Baillie

There's an insidious attraction about the third shift that can be experienced at no other time; walking the corridors of the Enterprise, riding the turbo lifts that give the impression of moving more slowly at this hour, the quiet exchanges with the technicians on duty, those highly-trained specialists it's my job to guard. Someone once likened it to tiptoeing around a sleeping giant, but to my way of thinking, whoever said that got it wrong. She's more like a great, lazy cat, surveying the universe through sleepy eyes - but just as the cat will be all quivering life and attention at the merest suspicion of a mouse, so, within the first notes of the red alert being sounded, the corridors will be filled with hurrying, tense-faced crewmen ready to cope with whatever emergency has arisen.

Usually, though, everything is quiet, and my nightly wanderings through the ship give me my only opportunity to get to know some of the officers as their shift pattern rotates. It's surprising what you can learn from such a habit - where Kyle spends his off-duty time, for instance, and the curious use Kevin Riley once found for the gym locker room; even who isn't where they should be at any given hour of the night - but for the most part I keep my mouth shut as long as there's no neglect of duty, or the risk of danger to the ship. Well, we've got 430 healthy young adults on board - and besides, such knowledge can often come in useful when I need a favour that's not strictly according to the book - but I think I've mentioned that before.

So almost every night I make my rounds. It's a habit I got into early on, and I don't think I could break it if I tried - I need only a few hours sleep, and I'd sooner be up and doing than sitting in my quarters staring at a blank wall.

I'm not the only one with the habit, either. Often I've met the Captain engaged in much the same routine - in fact, many's the night we've made the rounds together, "putting the ship to bed", as he called it once. We don't often talk much, but when we do it's usually important to one or the other of us.

I remember the first night we met like that. I'd not long been transferred to the Enterprise, and I was still learning my way around the ship. The observation deck drew me like a magnet, and I was too far into the room to retreat when I saw that the Captain was already there.

This I will say for Kirk - he doesn't insist on strict formality in off-duty time; he greets me - remembering my name, a trick he's got - and we talk generalities for a few minutes.

He's obviously got something on his mind, though, and despite my recent transfer ship's gossip has already made me aware of the problem - our Security Chief, Renata Carmel.

Now don't get me wrong, I've nothing against women in Security. Hallam, my Second, is one of the best operators I've ever known, male or female, and I started my training with Chief Flynn, who had so much going for her it wasn't true. She could've walked into any bar on Rigel and had every man in the place clustered round her in two seconds flat; she was intelligent, a good officer - and in hand-to-hand combat I'd back her against any Klingon born.

Trouble with Chief Carmel is, she's got an eye for Kirk. It's common talk that he's interested too, and that's bad, even though he's fought against it so far - if he hadn't the crew would know, believe me.

See, it's a difficult situation. Kirk's a good enough Captain to know that he's got to get her off the ship before things become serious between them - on any ship there are always those looking for signs of favouritism. A Captain can't afford to become romantically attached to one of his crew - and if the officer involved is the Security Chief, that's really bad for morale, something it seems Carmel has forgotten. She should've asked for a transfer as soon as she saw how things were going; she hasn't, and I can understand that Kirk is reluctant to request a replacement without a good reason - Starfleet Command is bound to count it against her.

Now, Security Guards are not supposed to hand out unasked-for advice to Starship Captains; so I don't. Instead I start to tell Kirk, as it might be casually, of a tape I've just had from a friend in Security Central.

It seems that Starfleet intends to set up a base on Lauren, a planet that's recently been admitted to the Federation. Snag is, Lauren's a matriarchy of the strictest kind, and while they're prepared to negotiate with men off-world, on the mother planet they insist that no male can hold a position of authority. Starfleet wants that base, and they're busy assigning a female Starbase Commander, female C.M.O., female Chief Engineer... and they're on the lookout for a female Security Chief.

I'm carefully not looking at Kirk as I tell him that, and when I turn round his face is perfectly bland; but you can see the wheels turning. It's impossible to get Carmel off the ship without giving a good reason, and to give the true reason would be embarrassing for them both; but to recommend the Chief for a promotion...

We talk for a few minutes longer, then Kirk says goodnight and leaves. For myself, having planted the thought in his mind, I wait to see if it takes root.

It sure enough does. A few weeks later Chief Carmel is promoted to the Starbase on Lauren, and in her place we get Chief Derwent, a tough, no-nonsense Englishman. He's within a few years of retirement, and is about as romantic as... well, as a Vulcan. And on Chief Derwent's retirement, as you already know, I'm promoted Security Chief in his place.

Kirk's never referred to the incident except once, and obliquely. I'd just told him I thought Hallam would make a good Second. He looked at me sort of sideways, and said nothing for a moment.

"Are you... er... quite sure, Chief?" he asks at last.

"No problem, Captain," I assure him firmly. "I trained her myself."

"Oh. Oh well, in that case..."

* * * * * * * *

I'm remembering that night as I hurry along the corridor to the Observation deck. That's where Kirk'll be if I know my Captain, and sure enough there he is, gazing down at the slowly-turning globe of Winifer.

He turns at my entrance. "I've just been writing to Travers' and Yeo's families. Any word on Lefarge?"

"He'll pull through, Dr. McCoy says."

"Good. At least we've salvaged something from this mess." He sighs, and begins to pace the deck, as he does when he's troubled. "Lord knows why Starfleet gave the President such discretion, Baillie. I tried again, you know - he still refuses permission to beam down a rescue party."

"I know, sir."

Watching Kirk as he slumps into a chair I have the sudden urge to beam down and strangle President Brand, very slowly. We've been at Winifer less than 48 hours, and already there are two good men dead, one seriously injured. And one...

It's that one we're both thinking of now. Spock. Alive, and in enemy hands... and that's all we know.

How it came about, we're ordered to Winifer and instructed to place the Enterprise at the disposal of President Brand. His planet is currently negotiating Federation membership, and the Council badly wants its deposits of rare metals. So - no leeway. Whatever the President wants, he gets. No arguments, no discussion.

The problem, it seems, is a revolutionary group more interested in returning Winifer to "the old ways" - groups of tribesmen, nomadic, constantly at war. Any outworld influence is corruption, to be destroyed mercilessly; and as prospective allies of the Federation, that includes President Brand's government. The rebel leader, Mavan, has already rejected any attempt at negotiation by the simple expedient of killing all ambassadors sent to him; and though at first nothing more than a minor nuisance, his influence is spreading, so that Brand is delighted to be able to call on the powers of his new ally.

Kirk is speaking aloud, as much to himself as to me, going over and over the events of the day, searching for answers, wondering if something he'd done, or left undone, had caused the deaths of his men.

"I should have waited until the storm cleared and beamed down," he says softly. "But no - President Brand insisted he couldn't wait, and I went down by shuttlecraft. The talks... quite a humane proposal, really, to round up Mavan's followers and exile them to Winifer's sister-planet Enav. They could have survived there, flourished, with their own system of government - and free of corrupting influences, they'd have no desire to return. Spock approved the solution - and he had all the data - atmosphere, climate, food sources, all suitable, no impossible hazards for them. Exile, or a bloody civil war... Brand chose to round up the dissidents before they did too much damage - and he wants the Enterprise to transport them, their families and belongings, to Enav. He was pleased that we'd used the shuttlecraft - he said that Mavan has spies in his headquarters, and he didn't want word getting back that a starship was in orbit. He passed us off as just another negotiating team." Kirk rises, and begins to pace again. "Starfleet's agreement was a mere formality, but I had to contact them. The storm was over, so I beamed up, while Spock and the others returned by shuttlecraft. And then... "

The rest, I know only too well. An overdue shuttlecraft, a hasty sensor scan locating the wreckage - and President Brand's refusal to allow a rescue party to beam down.

"Quite impossible, Captain." The determined face peers out implacably from the screen. "Your craft was sabotaged by one of Mavan's agents. His message was intercepted - Mavan believes, as I planned, that it was a small delegation only. He must not suspect the presence of a starship until my plans are complete - the arrival of one of your search teams would alert him instantly. My troops will investigate the crash, Captain, and report to you. I forbid any member of your crew to beam down without my express permission."

It's a long, tense wait until the report comes in that the bodies of my two Security men have been found in the wrecked shuttle. Lefarge, the pilot, is barely alive; but there's no sign of Spock.

As a concession to Lefarge's serious condition we're allowed to beam him up from inside the shuttle, but the bodies are taken back to the city to await collection at a later date.

The troops report tracks leading from the wreck, and Kirk orders a sensor scan for Vulcan readings. We're all trying to convince ourselves that Mavan's men must have searched the wreck, found Spock alive, and thought it worthwhile to take him in an attempt to force Brand into surrender - a Starfleet officer would be a valuable hostage, but the rebels would have no use for a dead body.

Kirk's already on call to the President's office when Chekov turns from the sensors.

"Captain, Vulcan readings located. But sir - he's with a large group of rebels, several hundred strong."

"I understand your feelings, Captain." Brand is attempting to explain, but Kirk isn't doing too good a job of listening, "We expected this - Mavan is concentrating his forces at his main encampment, I too have my spies - unknown to him, government troops are in readiness to round up the entire group. Have no fear - I am sure Mavan would not dare harm a senior Starfleet officer, even though he rejects alliance, and I will personally give orders that one of my most capable officers has the assignment of locating and protecting Commander Spock when we attack."

"Sir, Mavan could - "

"Enough, Captain! I respect and admire your loyalty, but I cannot risk the safety of my people for one man. Mavan is a mad wolf - if he is allowed to remain free many innocent citizens will die. There will be no interference from you; but," his voice softens, "you will be notified as soon as your officer is safe. This discussion is now ended."

As the image fades from the screen Kirk slams his hand down on the arm of the command chair.

"Mr. Chekov." His voice is tight, controlled. "Stay locked onto Mr. Spock's readings. I want to know of any change in his position or circumstances at once."

"Yes, sir."

* * * * * * * *

That was five hours ago, and now I'm face to face with Kirk - a Kirk whose carefully-controlled expression is one I've seen a hundred times before, an expression that tells me he's made up his mind, and won't be turned from his decision.

"I'm going down, Mr. Baillie."

"Sir, you were ordered not to interfere..."

"Oh, I won't interfere - but that man down there just happens to be my friend as well as my First Officer. We can't beam him up in case we alert the rebels to the presence of the Enterprise... but it might be possible for me to create a diversion, give him the chance to escape from the camp. Then, when he's alone, we could beam him up, and they'd think he was hiding somewhere. At least I can go down and size up the situation for myself... but I can't just sit here and do nothing."

Being Kirk, I know that he can't. I nod my head. "Let's go, Captain."

"I can't ask you..."

"You're not asking - I'm volunteering," I correct him. "Two can create a better diversion than one, and as Security Chief, your safety is my responsibility."

"If anything goes wrong we'll both be in trouble."

"If anything goes wrong two of us stand a better chance of putting it right."

Kirk wastes no time, but calls Scotty to meet us in the transporter room. While we wait, he removes his phaser and orders me to leave mine.

"I'm going down in strict defiance of orders, Scotty," he tells the horrified engineer. "Mr. Baillie is coming on his own responsibility, If we go down armed, I'll be tempted to snatch Spock by force. Like this, we'll be forced to take him quietly - and with luck no-one will know until it's all over that we've been there."

"But the rebels are bound to have guards with him," Scotty protests.

"There might be a chance, if I'm on the spot to take it. If not.... I'll call you, and beam back up again; but at least I'll have tried."

"Aye, Sir." Scotty sets the controls. "You'll materialise overlooking the camp, in the shelter of some bushes. There are no sentries anywhere near, and you'll get a good view. I'll set Chekov to monitoring the sensors - if anyone looks like coming near you I'll beam you up before you're seen."

"Fine, Scotty." Kirk takes his place, I join him, and the transporter effect enfolds us in its golden glow.

* * * * * * * *

We materialise, as Scotty promised, in the shelter of a thick clump of bushes on the hillside overlooking the rebel camp. Though it's full night the camp is brightly lit by a circle of fires surrounding a raised platform in the centre. The rebels - including women and children - are drifting towards this focal point, their talk and laughter carrying to us on the night breeze.

Kirk touches my shoulder. "Let's get closer, Mr. Baillie. See those tents beyond the fire? That's probably where they're holding Spock. Looks like the rebels are gathering for a meeting - now if only the guards join in, we might be able to circle the camp, and reach Spock from the far side."

I nod agreement, and we make our way slowly downhill, taking advantage of the cover; the last few yards are open ground, though, and we halt to consider our next move.

In the camp a roar of greeting from the crowd heralds the appearance of a tall, commanding figure in front of the dais. Mavan - I know him from the Security file President Brand transmitted to the Enterprise.

"Bring the alien!" As the command rings out I feel Kirk stiffen at my side. The crowd stirs, opening a passage for the small group emerging from the darkness, armed men surrounding the bound captive in their midst.

There are three poles set on the platform; Spock is pushed up the steps and bound to the centre post, his outstretched arms fastened to those on either side. When he's securely fastened Mavan turns to the crowd, his upflung hand commanding silence.

"My people, tomorrow our uprising begins in earnest. The traitor Brand, thinking to oppose the will of the people, dared to enlist the help of outworlders. Does he think us children, to be so easily cowed? I know of this Federation - they are weak, betrayed by their own foolish concept of honour. It is their law not to interfere with the customs of another race unless invited. We will send this captive back to Brand as a token of our determination - and when we rule on Winifer, Starfleet will not move to avenge his death. Let the blood of this alien be the first shed in our war of conquest, an example to all who would oppose us of what their fate will be. The traitors must be destroyed, the land cleansed with blood and flame, that the old ways may return."

Odd. I've never met a reformer yet who strove to achieve his aims peacefully - unless you count Surak, but that was before my time. Always there must be death, bloodshed, destruction. However great the tyranny they think to overthrow, the liberators are so often tyrants themselves, only to a different faction. As many crimes are committed in the name of justice, liberty or religion as are committed in the open pursuit of power....

"Corrupting influences, to bolster the enemies of the people!" Mavan is continuing, "Let us give our answer to those who would sell our heritage. My people, the alien is yours - take your vengeance!"

Mavan steps back and there's a surge of movement in the crowd. A line of women has formed at the foot of the platform; as the first mounts the steps firelight gleams from the knife in her hand. She draws near to Spock, and with slow, deliberate movements cuts his shirt from him. The second woman is young, and in other circumstances I'd have fancied her; she holds her knife to the base of Spock's throat, and Kirk makes an involuntary movement beside me. I place my hand on his shoulder, certain for a moment that events have moved too quickly for us, that she's going to kill Spock before our eyes. But no; she merely draws the knife down his chest, smiling as the bright green blood wells up in the track of the sharp point. Dipping her fingers in the blood she smears it on her cheeks, and on the face of the first woman, who is standing a little to the side.

The next rebel makes a second cut, parallelling the first at a distance of about an inch; her successor joins the two vertical lines at top and bottom. As before they smear their faces with blood before moving to the other side of Spock.

There's a slight pause; both Kirk and I are staring as though hypnotised at the bleeding rectangle outlined on the Vulcan's chest. Somewhere a distant memory stirs, and a feeling of sick horror comes over me as a long-ago lecture fills my mind.

In Security, death is an ever-present reality. I don't go looking for it, but I'm not especially afraid of it - when my time comes, it comes. Some deaths, though...

As part of our training we're familiarised with every method of torture and execution known, the thinking being that if we know what to expect, the worst fate loses much of its horror. Odd, that so much of man's ingenuity - and that of other intelligent species as well - should go into the devising of painful and degrading ways to main or destroy his fellows...

I'd heard of this particular form of death, and I'm trying to keep the realisation from showing on my face as I wonder how to shield Kirk from the sight of what's going to happen to his friend. The ribbons of flesh will be stripped from his living body - and his Vulcan strength will keep him alive and conscious far longer than any Human could endure. It's a myth that Vulcans don't feel pain; they can control their reaction to it to a certain degree, but they suffer the same torment as any sentient being.

I'm dreading the thought of what Spock's suffering will do to Kirk, forced to watch it, to know what was happening, but unable to help. To tell the truth, I'm calculating the chances of a phaser beam going unnoticed in the confusion if I can get a clear shot at Spock - and then I remember that I'm unarmed, that Kirk left our weapons on the ship. It's in my mind to slip away for a few moments, call Scotty, and get him to beam my phaser down, when the sudden, unnatural stillness of the man at my shoulder sets all my instincts alert.

"No! Not like that! Not Spock!"

What passed through Kirk's mind in those moments of horrified understanding, when he realised what Spock's death would be, I'll never know. Did he think of Starfleet, of President Brand's strict orders, of his own future? You tell me. All I do know is that before I can raise a hand to stop him he's climbed to his feet and is walking calmly and confidently down the hill. I rise to follow, then sink back into hiding, knowing that if both of us are seen it'll destroy any small chance left.

Kirk's nearly at the camp now, quickening his step as the next woman in line begins to climb to the platform.

"Stop!" His voice rings out clearly as he walks into the circle of firelight; all eyes are turned to him, but sheer surprise, I think, holds the rebels motionless as he comes level with Mavan, passing the man without a glance as he turns and mounts the steps.

Spock inclines his head slightly in greeting. There are no protests, no explanations - each understands why Kirk has done this. Then Kirk smiles faintly and moves to unfasten the bonds that hold Spock's wrists, releasing the cruel tension; but the ropes holding the Vulcan to the centre post defeat him.

Having seen it before, I can picture the glance of reassurance that passes between them before Kirk turns away, facing the rebels who have crowded close around the platform. His gaze ranges over them, coming thoughtfully to rest on Mavan's face.

I've seen some good poker players in my time, but none to touch Kirk; he stands there, half-smiling, serenely confident in the middle of a crowd of fanatics who'd like nothing better than to tear him apart, and you'd think he's just dropped in for the regular gripe session in rec room four. His whole attitude is familiar, the tight concentration that tells me his devious mind has come up with one of his famous impossible solutions; and for a moment I dare to relax in relief.

"Mavan!" Kirk calls. "I propose a bargain."

"So, there are more of your kind in our lands. What do you seek here, offworlder?"

"The life of my First Officer."

"And what do you offer in exchange?"

"Information. The chance to escape capture, for yourself and your people."

I've wondered many times since that night what opportunity Kirk saw that I did not. There must have been something I missed, or did it, for him, come down to that impossible choice between friendship and duty? And if it did...

Sometimes I think, No, at the last he would have held to his oath, he would have seen the Vulcan's death and endured his own in silence. At other times, remembering all that he owed to Spock, I think, Yes, he would have spoken.

But who may read a man's heart, to know what prompts him to this choice or that? Not I, for sure.

Yet the choice was never asked of him; for at Kirk's words Mavan throws back his head, bellowing with mocking laughter, and I know that the Captain's gamble has failed.

"Offer me that which I do not already know, offworlder! Brand's hounds snap at our heels, he thinks to take us at dawn's light - this my spies have already told me. You bargain with worthless coin, fool, and will pay the price." Mavan beckons, and two of his men join him. "It is in my mind, however, that perhaps we should not linger. Brand is cunning, and may attack earlier than expected. Are all our people ready to leave?"

"They are," one of the men answers. "We can move out as soon as the word is given - even the torches are prepared."

"That is well. Bind this fool with his friend."

Kirk is seized and bound to the same post as Spock, while Mavan issues further low-voiced orders, then raises his voice again.

"We shall not, after all, take time to witness your deaths. We leave now, firing the camp behind us. Your bones will be found in the ashes, a symbol of our contempt for your alien corruption."

This makes bad hearing, I realise. Not only death for Kirk and Spock, but the failure of our mission - and Brand will surely blame the rebels' escape on Kirk, even though Mavan knew his plans already. I'm the only one free to act, but what can I do? I suppose I could call Scotty, and have him beam Kirk and Spock up in defiance of orders, but while that'll save their lives it'll leave Kirk wide open to a court-martial when Brand finds his prisoners gone...

Hold on, back up a minute... Call Scotty, yes - but with a very different suggestion...

* * * * * * * *

The arrangements are quickly made - Scotty doesn't waste time arguing once the situation's been explained to him. I tuck my communicator away, and return my attention to the scene below.

In the few minutes I spent talking to Scotty, there's been a change - the rebels are moving away, heading for their tents, while the first to leave are re-emerging, carrying bundles, forming into small groups.

Mavan is still at the foot of the platform, but is now mounted on a great black horse, a flaming torch in his hand. His warriors are urging the people to hurry, but it's an orderly evacuation.

Mavan laughs mockingly at his prisoners. "Your pyre will be lit first," he calls, "and you may watch our departure through the flames - for a short time!"

"Come on, Scotty!" I mutter, having always had a dislike for last minute, cavalry-to-the-rescue endings - perhaps because I've been on the receiving end of too many in my time; but even as I speak there's a familiar high-pitched sound, and the entire camp is bathed in the rays of a starship's phasers, set on wide angle and heavy stun.

The reaction is immediate. The rebels drop in their tracks, Mavan and his horse go down without a sound, and within minutes the entire camp is still.

As soon as the firing stops I'm up and running, because I can see that the torch that fell from Mavan's hand is licking at the base of the platform. The wood is barely smouldering, easily stamped out, and I'm soon able to turn my attention to the prisoners.

They're both hanging limply in the ropes, unconscious but otherwise unhurt. I cut them free, swearing when I see how tightly they've been fastened, and aware of the low humming that fills the camp as red-shirted Security guards materialise around me, the back-up squad I summoned at the same time I called Scotty.

"How are they?" McCoy, down with the first party, reaches me as I lower Spock to the ground.

"You're the doctor - you tell me," I grin as I make room for him.

His scanner sounds, and he grunts resignedly. "Heavily stunned, but they should wake up soon. Mind you, phaser blast's no joke on any setting - I'll keep an eye on them until they come round."

"Mind if I leave you to it?" I climb to my feet, "Some of us have work to do around here, you know." With that I move off before he has time to come up with one of his clever answers.

* * * * * * * *

I'm kept pretty busy for the next couple of hours, but finally I'm able to hand over to Hallam and go back to make my report. Kirk still looks somewhat groggy, but Spock is back to normal, though slightly paler than usual to a discerning eye.

Kirk hears me out without asking too many awkward questions, but I sense he's just about to start when we're interrupted by the arrival of the cavalry - Brand's troops - just about two hours too late to be of any practical use. Their commander looks a little bit put out to find his job already done for him, but that's nothing to the explosion of fury when Brand arrives shortly afterwards.

"Captain Kirk, I demand an explanation! I expressly forbade any interference, and you defied me. Starfleet Command will hear of this! Had anything gone wrong - had the rebels learned of our intentions..."

"Sir, Mavan already knew of your plan." Kirk's been listening in uncharacteristic silence, and when he does speak something in the tone of his voice makes me look at him sharply - and I have the sudden horrible feeling that Kirk's going to put his foot in it.

As long as the President thinks that Kirk's actions were part of a carefully thought out plan he might - once he's calmed down - be persuaded that in view of the successful outcome there's no need to press charges; but if he once gets the idea that the phaser blast on the camp was my contribution to the gaiety of nations, he'll be out for blood - Kirk's,

Too damned honest, that's Kirk's problem. His scheme went wrong, and rather than claim credit for something I did, he'll hand himself over on a plate, gift-wrapped for court martial.

Dark eyes meet mine, and I know that Spock has reached the same conclusion. Quite what to do about it, though, is another problem, one that's taken out of our hands temporarily when Kirk turns white, sags, and pitches forward into Spock's arms.

"Damned phasers!" McCoy is on his knees at once, reaching for his hypo.

"President Brand, perhaps I might explain." Leaving Kirk to McCoy, Spock rises to face the irate man. "Captain Kirk's concern for his crew is well known. He realised that there was a way to rescue me without risking the escape of the rebels, but time was short, and he did not wish to waste time trying to persuade you - he knows the capabilities of a starship, you do not. He beamed down with Security Chief Baillie, placed himself in considerable danger to locate me, and then signalled Mr. Baillie to order phasers fired when he was certain that the rebels had gathered to concentrate on us.

"I might also point out, sir, that by his action he ensured that our purpose was accomplished without the loss of a single one of your men, and that none of the rebels escaped, as they might have done had you attempted to round them up as you originally intended.

"Moreover, as the Captain said, Mavan knew of your plans from spies in your headquarters. Without the Captain's intervention your men would have found a deserted camp at best, at worst they would have walked into a trap, and been slaughtered."

There was a Romulan commander once who believed Vulcans couldn't lie. If she'd witnessed that off-the-cuff performance, she'd have changed her mind fast.

Brand is looking thoughtful. "I had not considered that. Indeed, you are right, Commander - Captain Kirk's actions have saved us heavy losses. I was too hasty - I should have listened." He turns to Kirk, who's regained his feet and is looking a little bewildered at the speed with which he's been transformed from villain into hero.

"Captain, my apologies. I will inform Starfleet Command that your judgement was wiser than mine."

Spock decides to improve the shining hour. "Sir, might I suggest that your report to Starfleet simply states that the Captain acted with your knowledge and approval. It will simplify explanations."

"Do you agree, Captain?

"Uh... Yes, sir."

"So be it. May I ask where the rebels are now?"

"Mr. Baillie?"

"On the Enterprise, sir, under close confinement in the hanger deck. Mr. Scott reports that we can leave orbit as soon as the landing party beams up."

"Then complete your mission, Captain, and transfer the rebels to Enav. On your return we will together compile a report that will satisfy Starfleet Command."

* * * * * * * *

I leave about then to see that the camp has been cleared and the rebels' possessions have been transferred to the ship. The remaining Security guards beam up, and a short time later only Kirk, Spock, McCoy and I are left to watch as Brand leads his men away.

As soon as they're out of earshot, Kirk glances at the Vulcan. "You just saved my career, Spock."

"Not I, Captain. it was Mr. Baillie."

Kirk turns to me. "Thanks," he says softly, then adds in a tone of wonder, "but what sort of a Security Chief have I got? Don't act so innocent - I saw that look you gave Spock. You, Mr. Baillie, have managed to corrupt a totally logical Vulcan into telling the biggest pack of lies I've heard in years."

Well, I can't let that go, can I? It's not as if I put the words into Spock's mouth, it was all his own idea. There's something I read once that I've been saving up, waiting for the opportunity to use on Kirk. Taking a deep breath, I put on my best expression of righteous indignation and injured innocence.

"What, sir? Who, sir? Me, sir? With respect, sir - no, sir!"


Copyright Valerie Piacentini