(Standard Year 2249)

Return to Valjiir Stories

Return to Valjiir Continum

They were perhaps cousins to the Talosians, though, if so, they did not know it. They knew nothing of any race or species – only minds to contact and influence. Their problem was the same as that of the inhabitants of Talos IV, yet they did not view it as a problem at all. Their energies went to mentally satisfying any and all desires, but when they grew too self-absorbed to continue evolution, they simply sought to expand their existence with the minds and desires of others.


“That’s a mighty peculiar-lookin’ ship,” Leonard McCoy observed conversationally. It wasn’t a professional opinion, of course; as he had once pointed out, he was a doctor, not an engineer. But even so, he knew enough to realize that something that looked like giant hunks of crystal held together by beams of blue, green and red light was a bit abnormal.

“Aye," Scotty agreed softly as he continued studying the mysterious bauble on his engineering screens.

McCoy had come to the Bridge in response to a yellow alert and now stood behind the captain’s chair, observing and waiting while the Bridge crew went about its business.

“Hailing on all frequencies, Captain,” Lieutenant M’ress reported. “No response.”

“Keep trying, Lieutenant,” Jim responded.

“Aye, sir.”

Jim swiveled the con to engineering. “Scotty?”

“The readings make no sense, Captain,” Scott replied. “It’s as though the material of the hull keeps shifting. It could be some kind of shield.”

Again Jim shifted the command chair. “Mr. Sulu?”

“She’s holding steady at five hundred kilometers, sir,” the helmsman reported. “No movement.”

McCoy had to step back quickly as Jim turned the con in the direction of the Science Station. “Spock?”

McCoy turned his head as well and knew that Jim was as surprised as he was when Spock didn’t immediately reply. In fact, the Vulcan wasn’t even looking at his sensor data. He was standing, facing the forward view screens, a look of intense concentration on his face.

Jim was out of his chair the same instant that McCoy moved toward the Science Station, both equally concerned. Before they reached Spock, the turbolift door slid open and a disheveled, obviously upset Ruth Valley burst onto the Bridge.

“Captain,” she announced loudly, “there’s someone inside my head."

McCoy turned and headed for her, but she pushed past both him and the captain toward Spock. “All my shielding isn’t doing me any good,” she told the First Officer.

He stirred slightly, his eyes taking on a flicker of life for just a second before turning inward again.

“Miss Valley, what – “ Jim began, taking her shoulders and turning her to face him. “ – is going on?”

She blinked several times and was racked by a strong shudder. It seemed to McCoy that she was fighting some inner battle.

It was Sulu who offered the answer. He hadn’t left his post or taken his eyes off his instruments for more than a few seconds to look at her and Spock, but when he suggested, “Telepathy?” McCoy knew he was right.

“Someone's inside my head,” McCoy repeated. “And Spock’s, too, I bet.”

Jim shot a comprehending look at the view screen. “Of course.” He handed Ruth over to McCoy, turning all his attention to his Vulcan First Officer. “Spock,” he said, his tone its most persuasive, “tell me.”

The Vulcan’s attention slowly and with great effort focused on Jim’s face. He blinked, shook his head and said, “Captain…”

“What’s happening, Spock?” Jim asked gently.

“The aliens. They contacted me.” Spock’s head turned so that he was looking at Ruth, who was staring back at him. “And Miss Valley as well.”

“Yes,” she whispered.

“What do they want?” Jim wanted to know.

“Telepathic – contact. Communication with other life forms.”

“Us, “ Ruth said, seeming back in control of herself. “Spock and me.”

“Yes,” Spock agreed. “I do not know the species’ name but they claim that they are not hostile. They are, however, interested only in other telepathic life forms. I have explained the concepts of the Federation and Starfleet. They do not seem interested, but they wish Miss Valley and I to come aboard their ship.”

McCoy frowned. Jim’s face took on a thoughtful, uncertain look. “For what purpose?” he finally asked.

“Exchange of information,” was Spock’s response.

“Nothing more?”

“No, sir.”

“So we’re just gonna trust them?” McCoy put in.

“They don’t feel bad,” Ruth replied. McCoy scowled. He had learned to trust Ruth’s empathy, but that didn’t mean he had to like it – especially when it might put people he was very fond of at risk. Still, he knew what Jim’s decision would be before the captain spoke.

“Mr. Scott, prepare the transporter.”


It wasn’t like any nightmare she had ever experienced. She knew she was asleep and struggled to shake off the terrors, yet could not. Even the images were unlike those that usually plagued her dreams; no fire, no cold, no dying, screaming familiar voices. It wasn’t even a thing that would normally frighten her to nightmares. There were others in her mind and she couldn’t eject them. Typical telepath’s fear, but not one she’d ever been prey to – except for the memories of Del’s skinlessness. Still, it drove her to writhing, sweating, moaning terror. It mounted, growing, becoming more horrible, more real, until with a wrenching cry all her shields snapped into place and she was quite abruptly awake.

Zilama, are you alright?” Terry’s sleepy voice mumbled beside her. She sighed, breathing deeply.

“Yes, I just had a very strange dream,” she returned. She smiled, settling in his arms. She was in her cabin on board the Enterprise. Daffy Gollub slept in the bunk across the room. She had not seen the half-Indiian racer for seven years and she had no reason to think he would be allowed aboard a Starfleet heavy cruiser.

It never occurred to Ruth Valley to question what was obviously and hopelessly impossible.


He had met her on a Greek island during a scientific outing. Of all the people there, she alone seemed unwary of him. She was intelligent, gentle; friendly in a way that was neither forward or presumptuous. He enjoyed her voice; it was soft to his sensitive hearing. And she was beautiful. Even then he had thought so, though he had convinced himself it was an objective observation. Her beauty was winsome, yet not ethereal. Her loveliness was real, not a thing beyond dreams. It was such that he could have touched it, could have easily known it. It would not have eluded him.. And that was precisely why he had never dared reach for it.

Until Omicron Ceti III and the spores that released all his fears and taboos and self-inflicted inhibitions.

‘I love you’ he had said, and known it to be true. It had been true for years. He reached for her beauty and, true to its promise, it was there.

He had thrown it away then. He had filled his mind with logical reasons and fled from the only happiness he had known. And though he gave many excuses, he still did not know why.

But should I decide to forsake it this time, Spock thought firmly as Leila Kalomi slept peacefully – alone of course – in his bed, I will know.


When Ruth woke again, Terry was gazing at her. She smiled and snuggled closer. She felt his answering smile as he kissed her forehead.

“Morning, zilama,” he murmured.

“I thought you might have been a dream,” she replied softly. He laughed.

“Not me.”

“You’re too noisy to be a dream,” came Daffy’s voice from under a pile of blankets in the next bed.

“Jealous?” Ruth inquired.

“You bet your ass. Who is this dream anyway?”

Ruth sat up, pulling Terry up with her. “Terry, this is Daphne Gollub. Daffy, Terry.”

“Terry who?” Daffy insisted as she got out of bed. She was naked and Ruth frowned at Terry’s grin.

“Katana,” she answered. Daffy turned.

“Terry Katana?” she said doubtfully.

“He’s a racer,” Ruth explained.

“Oh, that Katana,” Daffy supplied knowingly.

“She’s a groupie,” Ruth told Terry.

Was,” Daffy returned. “We’re all adult and civilized now. Except for Spike here who brings strange men to spend the night in a cabin she shares with a poor temporarily celibate single girl.”

Terry laughed and Ruth hit his arm. “It’s not my fault you and Pavel decided to see other people for a while,” she told Daffy. “Nor that you haven’t been able to find anyone else willing to put up with you.” Daffy stuck her tongue out. Ruth returned the gesture.

Terry laughed again. “Please to meet you, Daphne,” he said.

“Daffy,” she corrected, then smiled alluringly, her gaze sweeping over his partially uncovered form.

Ruth threw a pillow at her. Daffy ducked.

“You two getting out of bed anytime soon?” she asked.

“I am hungry, zilama.” Terry admitted.

“I take it that means I’m not going to have a long, leisurely morning in bed?” Ruth observed. Terry grinned at her.

“Not this morning,” he said. “Sorry.”

“No you’re not.”

He threw off the covers, much to Daffy’s enjoyment, which Ruth immediately snarled at.

“So who's the jealous one, Miss hot-shit keheil?” Daffy smirked.

Him I don’t share,” Ruth announced.

Daffy’s eyes went wide. “You mean all this time you’ve been willing to…”

Ruth threw another pillow at her. “Let’s get you something to eat, Terry,” she said.

The Indiian shrugged amiably and they dressed and quickly left for the mess hall.


First watch had already started, so the mess hall was nearly empty. Ruth held Terry’s hand, chatting about nothing and everything as they ordered trays from the replicator. When hers appeared with a large cup of steaming, brown liquid, Terry raised an eyebrow. Ruth smiled.

“Yes, I now drink coffee,” she told him. “Yuck isn’t even in the vocabulary.”

He chuckled and leaned over to kiss her before retrieving his own tray.

They headed to a table, and Ruth noticed that off in one corner, Spock was holding a quiet conversation with a woman she’d never seen before.

“Come on,” she said abruptly, “I want you to meet my boss.”

“Former boss,” Terry corrected.

“Yeah, former,” she agreed, though it was uneasy.

They set their trays down, then approached the table at which Spock was sitting. “My replacement arrive already?” she said brightly.

The woman looked up first and Ruth noted with a little annoyance that Spock’s eyes stayed on her a fraction longer than was necessary or logical.

“Spock?” the blonde said softly, and Ruth did her best to keep the frown from her face.

“Leila, this is Miss Valley,” Spock said. “I do not know her companion.”

“Not talking to me, Boss?” Ruth rejoined with just a touch of sarcasm.

He looked definitely distracted before answering. “Of course. Miss Valley, Leila Kalomi.” His eyes again turned to the aforementioned Miss Kalomi. “She will be my associate in the new assignment I have requested.”

Miss Kalomi smiled shyly.

“In more than that, I bet,” Ruth muttered to herself.

Terry cleared his throat. “Zilama, I thought you wanted…”

She flushed. “Sorry Terry. Mr. Spock?” She had to repeat his name before he took his gaze from Miss Kalomi. “My companion’s name is Terry. We’re going into business together.”

“Indeed. I am pleased to meet you, young man.”

Terry shrugged. “You think he sees me, zilama?”

“I don’t think he sees anything."

“Except Miss Kalomi.”

Ruth made a sour face. “Yeah.”

“That bothers you, doesn’t it, Ruth?” Terry’s voice was very soft and Ruth closed her eyes, then reached up to kiss him.

“No. Nothing bothers me when you’re here.”

He smiled. “Thanks.”

“For what?”

“The lie.”

“Damn Indiians.”

He slid his arm around her and they returned to their breakfasts.


Spock was distracted from Leila as Ruth kissed her young man. They held a short, quiet conversation which he found disturbing in its intensity. Then the young man – he is Indiian, at least in part, Spock noted suddenly – slipped his arm around her waist in an obvious caress as they left the table. Indiian. Is there a special attraction there for a telepath? Indeed, think of Jilla. But should not another telepath be more attractive? Going into business together. It is irresponsible to throw away such a promising career. I at least will remain in scientific endeavors. Leila and I will form the perfect scientific team.

“Miss Valley was my assistant,” he told Leila. She had not asked, but he felt some explanation of his relationship to the lieutenant was in order.

“She’s very beautiful,” Leila replied.

Spock’s eyes strayed back to the Antari and her Indiian lover. “It is the nature of her species,” he said in answer to Leila’s statement. Leila placed her hand on his, reclaiming his complete attention.

“I’ll be glad when we reach Starbase 3,” she said.

He nodded thoughtfully in reply. They resumed their conversation, which mostly concerned future plans for a quiet life together. Spock was distracted twice more; first by the sound of laughter from across the room. He had been annoyed with himself, but could not keep from turning his head to look at the young couple who were the originators of the sound. They had their arms around each others’ waists. Ruth’s head was resting comfortably on Terry’s shoulder. Spock found such open display of affection quite distasteful.

The second distraction was far more intrusive; a familiar female voice in his mind:

You’re so beautiful – so good for me – I love you.

Miss Valley!

What? Oh, Boss, I’m sorry.

I had thought your shielding problem taken care of.

So did I. It won’t happen again, promise.

See that it does not. I fail to find your overly emotional ramblings of any interest.

You’re in a mood this morning.


Very sweetly. Of course, Mr. Spock.

He sighed.

Leila asked, “what’s wrong?”

“Nothing,” he evaded. “Would you like to see the ship?”

Leila smiled. “Yes, Spock.”


“Do I get a tour of the ship?” Terry asked as he and Ruth finished breakfast.


“Then we’d better hurry. We’ve only got the rest of the day.”

Ruth couldn’t restrain the somewhat wistful sigh. Well, why not? I’m bound to feel a little reluctance to leave a place that’s been home for three years. “Only one day,” she agreed as they stood, took each others’ hands and strolled out of the mess hall.

As they got off the turbolift at Deck B, they ran into Sulu and Jilla who were waiting to get on. When Jilla saw them, she didn’t wait for an introduction or even a greeting. Uncharacteristically, she grabbed Ruth by the arm and pulled her aside.

“Are you really resigning from Starfleet?” she demanded.

“I – uh – already have,” Ruth told her, a little sheepishly.

“Why?” the Indiian snapped.

“Because Terry and I…”

“Terry? I am sure your Terry is very interesting, but you are in love with Spock!”

“I am not!” Ruth burst out angrily.

“You are!” not only Jilla, but Terry countered.

“Oh god, not you too!” Ruth moaned. “Indiians! I am plagued with Indiians forever forcing me to tell the what am I saying?”

“The truth,” Terry stated. “It’s all right. I know you love me, too.”

Terry and Jilla exchanged one long, understanding look and Ruth was momentarily struck by their resemblance to each other. Then Sulu came up, tapping her on the shoulder and she turned her attention to him. He kissed her. Lightly, and on the cheek, but the action surprised her. “What…?”

“Good luck, Spike,” he murmured. “I’ll miss you.”

Sudden tears welled in her eyes. “I’ll miss you, too, Roy,” she said, then hugged him. She turned to give a warm embrace to Jilla, but the Indiian was already in the turbolift, the door closing behind her.

“She said she was going to talk to Spock,” Terry informed them, then nodded to Sulu. “You’re Kam, I’m Katana, we were just leaving.” He took Ruth’s arm and pulled her along the corridor. “At least I don’t say ‘attend’,” he pointed out as Sulu disappeared from view.

“Terry…” she began.

He shook himself, like some great silver cat. “No, I know, I’m just being petty. I’m sorry,zilama. Forgive me.”

“I love you,” she whispered.

“And I, you,” he returned, and enfolded her in his arms, giving her a deep, lengthy kiss. When it broke, she smiled at him.

“You wanna see the gardens?” she asked, her eyes twinkling.

“THE gardens?” he replied.

“The very ones.”

“Hot damn!"

She took the lead, showing him her favorite plants, and Sulu’s and Ramon’s and Judy’s and Monique’s and Uhura’s and M’ress’. “And the captain’s rose bush.”

“His very own?”

“Uh huh. Used to impress selected females with how sensitive he is. I’m told it works almost every time.”

“This really bothers you, doesn’t it, zilama?” Terry broke in abruptly.

“What, that Jim uses it to impress selected…”

“You know what I mean.”

Ruth flushed. “How did you know he was Kamikaze?” she sidestepped.

Terry sighed. “Haven’t we come beyond that, Ruth?”

“Beyond what?"

“Your flippant habit of answering a question with a question.”

Ruth stared at her toes. “Was I?”

Zilama, please.”

“I’m sorry.” She took a deep breath. “Of course it bothers me. Fleet has been my life for seven years. I’m close to a lot of people here. I’m going to miss them, I’m going to miss it.” She slid her arms around him. “But you mean more to me than any of them.”


“It hardly matters now. He’s got the mousy blonde.”

Terry grinned. “Is that what you were thinking?”

Ruth shrugged, blushing again. “Yeah, a little.”

He moved close to her, his soft, dark eyes staring down into hers. “I’m here, zilama,” he whispered.

She smiled. “Yes, you are,” she said, and kissed him lovingly.


“The survey mission will take five years,” Spock told Leila. “In that respect it will not be unlike a Starfleet mission.”

“Except that it will be completely scientific,” Leila added.

“Yes,” Spock agreed. “After that, I believe it would be logical to return to Vulcan, where I shall accept a post at the Science Academy.”

Leila smiled. “I think I’d like that.”

Spock’s face softened as he gazed down at her. “You will be an excellent partner, Leila.”

“I love you, Spock.” He hand briefly caressed her face. She caught it, nuzzling her cheek to his palm. “I know you don’t like such displays,” she said softly, “but we are alone here.”

“Yet on Vulcan, even alone, they must be curbed.”

Her eyes were adoring. “If you wish it.”

They continued their quiet stroll through the botanical gardens, enjoying the peace that was a foretaste of the rest of their lives.

It was disturbed moments later by a most unpeaceful moan. Spock automatically assumed that someone, somehow was injured. Then he noticed Leila’s blush as a second moan pierced the air.

“I think we’re disturbing a tryst,” Leila whispered.

Spock frowned and consciously cleared his throat. From behind a large rose bush a dark-haired head came up, black eyes twinkling from sparkling features.

“I wouldn’t come any closer if I were you, Mr. Spock,” Ruth’s young man said.

“He’s seen me like this,” Ruth’s voice chimed in from somewhere beneath his.

“Like this?” the Indiian teased. Ruth giggled.

“Well, in the altogether…”

“Miss Valley!” Spock blurted out sternly. She sat up and her paramour toppled into the rose bush.

“Ouch!” Terry cried out.

“I’m off duty, Boss,” Ruth pointed out. “Forever.”

“Spock, can we leave?” Leila asked in obvious embarrassment.

“Certainly,” Spock replied and turned stiffly, almost pulling Leila after him. His ears burned green and after several minutes of angry brooding he became aware of Leila speaking to him.

“Forgive me,” he said to her. “I have been inattentive…”

“Does she mean so much to you?” Leila asked, and her eyes were soft and moist. He could sense her fear and sorrow and deliberately put aside his turbulent emotions.

“I was concerned for you, Leila,” he told her. “Such crude behavior… I do not wish you distressed. Ever.”

She smiled, and he believed it.



Spock straightened abruptly, pivoting, all the blood draining from his face at the sound of Jilla’s voice. It was a word she had every right to use, but had never said until now. Farrern – mate, bonded.

She stood before him, a tiny, dignified presence, anger and reproach radiating from her glowing skin. He took a deep breath and made himself respond.

“Yes, Jilla.”

It is my duty to point out to you that you are making a mistake,” she said – in rapid Vulcan.

He realized that she, of all people, deserved an explanation. He ordered his thoughts, and addressed her in the language she had used. “I have considered this carefully, and believe that I have made the correct and logical choice for my future.

Logical perhaps,” Jilla replied. “Not correct.

Spock was uncomfortably aware of Leila’s questioning stare. “It is my choice, little one,” he answered.

And my duty,” she countered stubbornly.

Discharged,” he pointed out as gently as he could. Jilla’s skin took on a slightly more pronounced glow.

It is not this one you love, my bonded,” she said sternly.

I have called your duty discharged,” Spock returned, less gently.

It is wrong,” Jilla insisted.

I have made my decision.”

I could cause you to…


The word came out angry and commanding and Jilla dropped her gaze.

I hear and obey,” she said, but her eyes flashed up at him as she turned to walk away.

“Spock?” Leila questioned as she stared in puzzlement at the retreating Indiian.

How to explain? Perhaps I should refer Leila to Miss Valley for the details of how I became bonded to Mrs. Majiir. No, that would be unfair to both Jilla and Leila. He decided to hedge for the time being. Leila could be told the entire truth at a later date.

“Lady Jilla is the widow of a kinsman,” he told her. “She wished to be certain my decision was proper.”

“Oh, I see,” Leila murmured, then smiled up at him. “I hope you assured her it is.”

Spock nearly smiled back, and took her hand by way of an answer.


“Spock, tell me again this is what you want.”

Spock glanced up at Leila’s soft voice, then lowered his gaze back to his steepled fingers. She wore only a white satin nightgown and he had no wish to compromise her modesty. Not that he had no desire for or appreciation of her silhouetted figure. On the contrary, he recalled her winsome beauty quite clearly. There was simply that about her that encouraged propriety. Not like…

And why had he thought of Ruth?

Only because they are very different. Miss Valley’s boldness almost demands blatancy. While she is slender, there is little modest about her. She makes it as easy to stare at her beauty as Leila makes it impossible.

An image came unbidden to him mind, a vision of gold in a laced halter barely concealing rich, ripe breasts; a skirt of scarves moving sensually around long, graceful legs; hair whipping around a teasing, seductive face, a melodic voice taunting, ‘Men talk to a pretty girl.’ He had been appalled by her brashness then. Appalled? Such conduct was unseemly for an officer of her caliber. That is all.

I will miss her.

Which brought him back to Leila’s question. Is this what I want? I have given more than half my life to Starfleet, I have learned of my Human heritage. I have come to terms with it. I am Vulcan, yet there are emotions within me. I have been lonely, I have sacrificed all for over twenty years. Is that not long enough to be alone? Leila loves me. I will be happy with her, with pure scientific research.

Are you then only a scientist? Has your father been correct all along? Will you not miss your duties as second in command? Will you not miss Jim? And Scott? And little Jilla? And even Leonard?

Yes. Of course. Yet I can no longer deny my needs. Forgive me, Father. I need communion and Leila offers it freely. Or perhaps not freely, but surely it is worth the price.

He rose from his chair ad took Leila’s small hand. “Yes, Leila,” he said, “this is what I want.”


It was her last night on the ship. They’d be at Starbase 3 by morning. There would have been a farewell party if she’d wanted one. Oddly enough, she hadn’t. All she wanted was right next to her.

Terry leaned back, his hands behind his head. Ruth knelt on the bed beside him, her fingers slowly tracing the outline of his features. He is so beautiful, she thought, I could spend a lifetime just looking at him. He smiled without opening his eyes, no doubt appreciating her adoration. Ruth laughed. Besotted, she supposed, was the proper word. Then she lunged forward, kissing him passionately. His arms came around her, pulling her into a tight embrace. She felt the warmth of his skin and it was safety and home. She had never known a feeling like this with anyone but him. “My darling glow-in-the-dark Terry,” she whispered.

He chuckled and they lay together, just holding each other. No hurry. Plenty of time.

This peace is worth it.

She sighed. It was wistful and it annoyed her that she was feeling so sad about leaving the Enterprise. So what’s the big deal? What big deal? There isn’t a big deal. Fleet people are transients anyway. Roy’ll get a command sometime soon, Jilla will go with him. Daffy will find me eventually, it’s fated. I don’t have to give up being a scientist. And I certainly don’t have to give up being a keheil.

What about Spock?

Zilama, are you sure about this?”

Ruth opened her eyes in surprise. “Sure I’m sure.” Terry sighed and Ruth recognized the sound – wistful. His fingers gently massaged her temples. She smiled, leaning her head against him.

“Think, okay?” he murmured.


“I want you to be sure.”

“I am.”


Ruth sighed again. “Okay. I wouldn’t do this for just anyone, you know.”

“I know. Think.”

Think. Goddess, this feels good. Someone to care, someone here. Terry, I love you. You understand and I don’t have to say a word. You even know when I need something other than you. No one else has ever…

No one? Come on! What about Sulu? What about Jilla? What about…

When did he ever…

‘Turn the water off.’

The memory flooded her; Joan d’Arc burning at the stake and a strong, warm voice bringing her out of the nightmare.

A burning palm and icy eyes; arms that held her, reassured her as she reassured him.

And what about Naois? And Alcon? And after Canti? Where was he then?

She who touches my dreams. She who fulfills…

Push. Push, push.

Stop it. Jilla just has it wrong. I’ve tried to explain the difference between lust and…

Lust? He’s scrawny, for god’s sake!

He’s lean and elegant.

His hands are too big.

Graceful and perfect for a stringed instrument. Or a computer.

His nose is hawkish.

It’s aristocratic.

Especially when he’s looking down it.

He can move like a cat when he wants to; a dark, passionate panther with a cock the size of…

Stop it! We aren’t going to think about pon farr, are we? He was only getting back at me anyway. He wouldn’t really have taken me. And I‘ve never made up my mind whether I’m glad about that or not. Hey, Kalomi, he’s not a virgin! No, wait a minute. Sulu said that the two of them made love once. So she probably was his first. Shit! I think I hate her.



“I wish you’d make up your mind what mood you’re in. You’re making me dizzy.”

“Sorry.” She paused. “Terry?”


“I thought. I’m sure.”

He smiled at her and she knew she was.


They were ready to beam down. Jilla stood by the transporter controls, silently disapproving. Sulu stood behind her, his eyes full of inexpressible sorrow. McCoy looked as depressed as Ruth had ever seen him. Jim was rueful, Scotty bravely efficient. Leila and Terry were already on the transporter disks, waiting patiently.

Ruth adjusted the pack and guitar on her back and glanced at Spock. She wasn’t surprised to find him staring at her. She flushed slightly and looked away. After a moment, she stole another glance. His eyes were lowered and she got the impression he wanted to say something but didn’t know what or how. She fixed a smile on her face and looked up at him.

Shalom, Mr. Spock,” she said as brightly as she could. “I hope Miss Kalomi makes you – “ She abruptly changed her mind. “ – a good assistant.”

His eyes met hers. “I wish you well, Miss Valley. As always.”

She swallowed a sudden lump in her throat. “I’ll miss you, Boss.”

“And I, you.” The phrasing tore at her and she tried to look away. His gaze held her.

I trust your young man can be all you desire.

Be happy, Spock.

“They’re waiting for you,” Jim’s voice cut in softly.

I must go.

No, don’t!

“Don’t?” Spock said aloud. Jilla’s sudden gasp was quickly cut off.

“Damn it!” Ruth blinked back tears. “This is all wrong!” She turned to the platform. “Terry – Terry, you have to understand, it’s not right, not like this!”

“I understand, zilama,” Terry said, and smiled sadly at her. “I always have.”

Ruth pivoted to face Jim. “Captain, can’t I take back my resignation?”

“I’ll see what I can do, Ruth,” Jim replied, a little startled.

“Spock?” she nearly pleaded.

Spock was staring at Leila. “She is right,” he murmured, “not like this. Leila, forgive me, I have to… Miss Valley…”

Leila turned, tears in her eyes, nodding.

“You’re staying too?” McCoy asked incredulously.

Spock had returned his gaze to Ruth. “It appears so, Doctor.”


Abruptly the transporter room faded and Ruth and Spock found themselves in a small cell, seated, facing each other with a not-quite-female voice echoing in their heads.

This does not please? What else would you find more desirable?

“What?!” Ruth asked, thoroughly confused. “I thought we…” Her voice trailed slowly away.

Spock stood. “Explain,” he said to the voice.

But you seemed to be enjoying it. Whatever you found disturbing can be easily adjusted. Was the setting too mundane? It is usually best to begin with the fantasies that come closest to the subject’s real world, then to expand…

“Might I interrupt?” Spock interrupted. “Am I correct in assuming that you have been using us as a form of entertainment?”

Yes, of course.

OF COURSE?!?” Ruth shrieked. “What do you mean of course?!?” She was blushing furiously. “Listen, sister, my fantasies are my own and none of your business – or anyone else’s for that matter.”

“While Miss Valley states the case emotionally – “ Spock began.

“Minneapolis,” Ruth muttered under her breath.

“ – she is quite correct,” Spock finished with a glare at her. “Such intrusion is neither welcome nor appreciated.”

“But it is necessary when you get pompous,” she retorted.

“I was not referring to your intrusion, Miss Valley.

“Oh,” Ruth said, not at all sheepishly.

We do not understand, the voice said. You are telepaths, how can you not enjoy this?

“We like our privacy, that’s how,” Ruth stated adamantly.

“We came aboard this vessel to exchange information, not to take part in your voyeuristic experiments,” Spock added. “That is not what you claimed to want from us.”

You would not have come otherwise. And you were enjoying it.

Spock raised an eyebrow. “We will return to our ship,” he said.

But we do not wish you to leave.

Ruth’s smile and voice both had a dangerous edge. “So?”

Ruth and Spock’s minds were suddenly filled with a sharp static. Ruth grit her teeth. “This’ll take a minute, Boss,” she said, and closed her eyes. After a few increasingly uncomfortable moments, the static cleared.

“Let’s go,” she said. “I’m famished.”


They materialized on the transporter platform moments after contacting the Enterprise. Jim and McCoy were waiting for them.

“That didn’t take very long,” McCoy said.

“Report,” Jim interrupted brusquely. “That ship disappeared as soon as you left it.”

“They wanted us as a psycho-cin,” Ruth answered.

“I beg your pardon, Miss Valley?” Jim returned.

“There was no exchange of information, Captain,” Spock interjected. “Their offer was a ruse to lure us to them.”

“For what?” McCoy demanded.

“Miss Valley has already answered that,” Spock replied.

“A psycho-cin?” Jim asked.

“Voyeuristic, telepathic fantasizing,” Spock clarified.

“They had me about to leave the ship with…” Ruth began, on top of Spock’s added,

“Involving, in my case, a scenario in which I would leave the ship with…”

Both stopped talking and stared at each other. “Leila,” Ruth said quietly to herself.

“Terry,” Spock murmured, also privately.

Then both flushed – Spock only slightly at the ears – and fell silent, moving their stares to the deck.

“I take it the experience was – unpleasant?” Jim offered.

“More disturbing than actually unpleasant, Captain,” Spock returned without looking up.

“Yes, very disturbing,” Ruth agreed softly.

Again there was a short silence.

“Captain, if I may be excused,” Spock said.

“You’ll have a full report, promise,” Ruth put in.

“Of course I will,” Jim replied. He glanced warily at the two, then at McCoy who shook his head. “Alright, dismissed,” he said.

As they left the transporter room, still not looking at each other, Ruth nearly ran into Daffy Gollub.

“Hey, you, I need help with the Chanukah party,” Daffy said.

“Later, Daffy,” Ruth murmured. “Later.”

The End

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