Title: When the Hour Strikes (2/?)
Fandom: Star Trek TOS
Characters: Kirk, Spock, McCoy (pre-K/S/M)
Disclaimer: Star Trek is not my property, only my plaything.
Summary: The First Officer becomes a target for an unidentified assailant.
Previous Parts: 1
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Spock has brief, strange dreams of the desert, and while he does not dream often—as a half-Vulcan—he concludes that his mind must be affected by the remnants of the poison filtering out of his system. He does not mention the dreams to Doctor McCoy, though there are few other symptoms with which to placate the man.
McCoy informs Spock that he has been unconscious for the better part of a week with waning vitals in the last four days. At the beginning, as Sickbay personnel struggled to diagnose the cause of Spock’s sudden illness, they had hoped the Vulcan was in a normal healing trance, but M’Benga had his doubts after careful scrutiny (as did McCoy), said Spock’s brainwave activity was not characteristic of their (meager) past records. Once they discovered traces of an unknown agent in his blood, it had become a matter of determining its effect on Vulcan physiology. McCoy is still worried about those effects, as he cannot fully identify what the poison is, only that it’s water-soluble and tapering off in concentration the longer Spock survives.
He wants to keep Spock under surveillance in Sickbay for at least another half-week, but Spock convinces the Captain, who convinces McCoy, for an early release date with the promise that he will remain close to his quarters, wear a sensor band that alerts Medical if needed, and NOT to participate in strenuous activity for the next two weeks.
So it is that Spock leaves Sickbay, not with a clean bill of health, but with two worried Humans in close attendance. He longs for a moment of meditation, to organize his thoughts, but Spock must first rid himself of the Captain and CMO. He does so with another plethora of promises—which they demand, after the Captain suspiciously scouts Spock’s quarters, and after they both swear at Spock to keep those promises. Finally, at the very end of his patience, Spock herds them both to the door and bids them good evening.
It’s refreshing to be alone.
He immediately redresses into his mediation robes, settles on the floor in position and closes his eyes. The transformation does not come quickly, as if Spock is out of practice. He has to monitor his breaths and pulse until they are sufficiently conducive to his desire for calm, and slowly he filters out the noise of the starship until there is only quiet.
Spock sinks down into the core of himself, deeper, slowly coming to rest at a thin barrier. He floats gently outside of it, for three seconds, before pushing into it. It gives away to his entrance and Spock meets that state in which he is most familiar.
It’s not familiar this time, not quite.
There is something… different about this place. The serenity is present, yes, but glaring white is substituted for the cool deep black of Nowhere and Everywhere.
Then the white engulfs Spock’s mind and he disappears.
Leonard follows Jim into the ready room, waits for Jim to finish ensuring that their conversation will remain private.
Jim turns on the doctor. “We shouldn’t have let him leave Sickbay.”
McCoy gapes for a moment before he fights past his incredulity. “You—YOU decided that he could leave, Captain!“
Kirk’s hands go up automatically with woah there, calm down, and we’re on the same side! “Bones, Spock made a solid argument for his release, but I admit I’m having my doubts now. I mean, I could always order him back to Sickbay…”
“Ha! You’d have better luck getting Chekov on my examination table—and let me tell you, Jim, that little Russian braggart knows how to wheedle out of any test remotely involving a hypospray.”
Jim looks a little too interested in Chekov’s tactics, so Leonard changes course quickly. “Spock, now, I’d be pleased to have him where I can keep an eye on him. We probably did make a mistake, letting him be alone. Especially if a would-be murderer is running loose.”
This sets the Captain to pacing. “Why would anyone want to kill Spock?”
“Why does anyone want to kill anybody, Jim? That’s an age-old question—one I doubt we’ll know the answer to any time soon.”
“Spock thinks he can bait them into attacking him again.”
Leonard plops down in a chair. “Spock thinks he’s the Almighty Invincible Vulcan. Which, given the events of these past two weeks, I’d say knocks that argument right outta the water!” When Jim narrows his eyes at McCoy to indicate that he does not appreciate Len’s humor, the doctor says, “Look, Jim, I don’t like what we’ve got to do any more than you, but how else are we going to catch this bastard? Spock could have been poisoned days before he collapsed and we’d be none-the-wiser!” McCoy hates to admit how little he knows about what’s running through that green blood of Spock’s.
McCoy watches Jim pace for two minutes before he adds, “Jim, we cannot exclude that it could have been someone—close—to Spock.”
This gives Jim pause, and he pivots towards McCoy. Leonard tries not to tense as Kirk approaches him without breaking stride until he reaches the very edge of McCoy’s chair. “Like us, Bones? Or the Bridge crew? Who… Uhura?“
The doctor leans forward, meets his Captain’s sharp gaze. “Remember Lieutenant Stiles, Jim? Didn’t take much for him to call Spock a traitor, all ’cause of his pointed ears.”
“Stiles is long-gone, McCoy.”
“But other men like him? Who’s to say? This could be personal—not just because Spock is First Officer of the Enterprise. Think about it.”
Kirk and McCoy stare at another, measuring the other’s regard. Finally, Jim breaks the tension between them. “I won’t accept hate crimes on this ship.”
“You damn well shouldn’t, Jim-boy. We humans have come too far to have a few fools set us back because of nonsense like racism or xenophobia.” Leonard leans back again, with a casual slump of his shoulders. “Maybe you oughta remind people aboard this ship just how little you’ll tolerate it.”
Jim is already nodding. “Yes, Bones, you can be certain that I will.”
Spock wakes up, not on red sand, but at the base of the L’langon Mountains. This is very strange to Spock, as he recalls his last visit here, for his kahs-wan—and the attack of the le-matya which almost took his young life. There is no need to return to this place; Spock accepts himself for that which he is—represents, and he knows his value to the universe.
Why I am here?
Vaguely, in the far corner of his mind, a small instinct cries that this is wrong, that this is not Vulcan. However, there is a larger presence which persuades him otherwise—the raptor.
A long-beaked black bird—fairly immense in size—perches five-hundred feet up the tall cliff on an overhang. It eyes him with a dangerous tilt of its head. Spock, who has only seen the Vulcan raptor at the reserves, knows that this is a rare occurrence indeed. So few of these creatures are left on Vulcan.
It opens its wings and calls out in a high shriek, before folding them back into its body. Spock runs his eyes along the talons clenched onto rock. He is calculating the weight of the raptor when a voice pulls him from his thoughts.
Greetings. I am your Trensu.
It seems natural that Spock’s mouth opens and responds, “Yes, Trensu.”
You seek my wisdom.
Does he? The raptor cranes his neck down, leans over as if to speak, and a spray of dislodged pebbles tumble down at Spock’s feet.
You must climb to me.
Spock is clutching at the first hand-hold his fingers find before the voice finishes speaking.
He ascends with only the thought of reaching that ledge. When his foot catches on a jutting rock, Spock pauses and looks down. Starfleet-issued standard boots. This halts Spock’s progress with a jerk, and he slowly raises his eyes to the blue, uniform-clad sleeve by his face. He’s dressed as a Starfleet officer.
He is a Starfleet officer.
The realization comes sharply to him, breaks his mind of the droning voice that caws come here! And he wonders, fierce and inexplicably free, why and how. Why is he here? How did he get to the L’langon Mountains… This is not right, doesn’t fit; Spock cannot remember any detail before standing at the bottom of the—
The raptor launches off the rock with a force that shakes the mountain beneath the Vulcan body. Its great wings spread wide in flight and Spock can see it circle back to him.
At him, straight at him, talons extended, sharp beak gleaming, open in a scream. Spock does the only logical thing he can when weaponless and vulnerable on a cliff-face. He lets go.
The sensor on Spock’s wrist band is going wild with alarm. Spock comes to with the deafening pitch in his ears and McCoy crouched over him, patting his face. The Vulcan’s cheek stings as if it’s been slapped.
“Doctor, thank you, I am aware,” he manages.
“God, Spock! What the Hell just happened! Your blood pressure is through the roof—”
Spock is already sitting up from the floor, does not protest when Doctor runs professional hands along his sides, through his hair.
“Well, you haven’t sustained any damage.”
Spock says, “I was sitting down. Meditating.”
McCoy looks grim. “What else?”
“There is little else, Doctor. I was meditating and then—” He breaks off, his face blank. “I do not know.” When Spock looks at the CMO, whose eyes are sharp with worry and speculation, he adds, “I believe that I was… not present in this room.”
“You mean—” McCoy gestures at his head.
“Damn.” The doctor unbends and rises. “Damn it!”
The human ignores him for approximately one point six minutes before turning his attention back to Spock. “Spock, you weren’t alone.”
The Vulcan’s eyebrow goes up, and he is about to speak when a silhouette moves, says, “Everything alright, Doctor McCoy?” It’s then that Spock realizes that Security officers are posted just inside his entryway.
“Fine, boys. Just keep a look-out for Jim. Spock, I want you to come back to Sickbay. No—close that mouth of yours! No arguing, ya hear? I’m ordering you as CMO of this damn ship. C’mon.” McCoy’s grip is firm and gentle as he steadies Spock on his feet. “Let’s go.”
“Took off after the fellow.” Spock stops in the middle of the corridor, refuses to budge despite McCoy’s insistent tugging. “What now, for Christ’s sake!”
“You will explain your statement.”
“‘Christ’s sake?’ Geez, Spock—”
“Doctor.” Spock lets the sharp word hang between them, knows that McCoy can hear his implied warning.
“Alright. But not here, okay?”
They proceed to Sickbay in a steady march. McCoy leads Spock into the CMO’s office, shuts the door and engages the lock.
“Who?” Spock wants to know.
“Didn’t get a good look at him. The lights were out, when we got there—Jim and I—and we honestly didn’t think someone else was around. But he had to have heard us coming, or realized it when—” McCoy gestures at the sensor bracelet.
“I need to get Jim in here, Spock. He took a hard hit when the man fled. Blasted fool went after him anyway!”
If Spock tightens the clasped hands behind his back, McCoy cannot see him do so. “You entered my quarters and the perpetrator was within,” he clarifies.
“Yes. Spock,” McCoy approaches the Vulcan cautiously (as if at a wild animal). “I’ll need to check you out, completely, for the record. Do you understand?”
Spock is silent; he comprehends that he must assure the doctor. “You may. However, you will find no evidence of foul play, Doctor.” He says, in a marginally softer tone, “I am physically unharmed.”
McCoy is grave, despite Spock’s assurances. “Maybe in a physical sense, Spock, but I think it’s safe to bet that you’ve been…”
“Compromised,” Spock supplies.
“Yes. Compromised in some other way.” The doctor turns his back for a moment, perhaps making a judgment that he does not wish others to witness. He paces over to the closed door, touches it briefly, and then addresses the Vulcan. “You’ll have to stay with either Jim or myself, Spock, until we are certain of what’s going on and who is after you. We’re the only two, really, that can be safely ruled out.” (You can trust us, Spock.) McCoy’s back muscles are tight with an unnamed emotion.
“As you wish.” Spock will not disagree. He acknowledges the danger of his situation. The crucial question, however, is whether that danger will be the unidentified person, or if it is the assailant’s capacity to ensnare his mind. (As a Vulcan, Spock knows which he fears more.)
McCoy—Leonard—turns around, then, at Spock’s simple acquiescence. He sighs (with gratitude?) and says, “We’ll do what we can, Spock, to protect you.” The Vulcan does not reply. “Now, c’mon. Let’s get started on those tests while I have time. When Jim gets here—”
Indeed, when the Captain arrives, there will be much distraction.
*Lt. Stiles: Navigator during TOS S1 episode “Balance of Terror” in which the Enterprise meets a Romulan for the first time and the crew notes how much Romulans look like Vulcans. Stiles accuses Spock of being a Romulan spy.
*kahs-wan: Traditional Vulcan adulthood rite in which a young Vulcan makes a journey through the L’langon Mountains.
*le-matya: Vulcan’s version of a wild mountain cat. Spock encountered one on his kahs-wan; suffice to say, he survived, due to his cousin Selek and Spock’s sehlat, I’Chaya.
*Trensu: means Master.