(Standard Year 2251)

Return to Valjiir Stories

Return to Valjiir Continum

Go To Part Two

The diplomatic courier shuttle silently approached the Enterprise. There was something almost ominous about it, and about the way the great hangar doors opened to receive it. And when the doors had closed again, and the docking bay had been pressurized, the mood of the man who emerged confirmed the aura of impending doom.

Dave Calvin was nervous.

He smiled uneasily as Captain Spock greeted him. "You're a hero," he said, but his tone conveyed dismay rather than pride.

Spock's eyebrows rose. "Indeed?"

"The press — " the word had a definite sour taste, " — has gotten hold of the whole affair with Captain Kirk. Don't ask me how. They've got their sources, damned if I know who. I've been very careful to keep the lid on this. I was sure there were no leaks. Everyone who knew anything was top security clearance, and I can't imagine any of my staff... “

"Commodore," Spock interrupted, "surely you are not here to inform me of a breach of security in Public Relations."

"Oh, but I am, Captain," Calvin assured him. "The media, as I said, knows about the rescue." He frowned. "Headquarters thinks the only way to deal with it is to confront it head on. Which is why you're being diverted to Starbase 16 for a series of conferences with the press. I'm here to brief you and your crew."

"Sir, we are Fleet officers, not public speakers. I am sure nothing can be gained by subjecting..."

"You can take that up with Headquarters," Calvin broke in. "For now, we follow orders. I want a briefing with you and your senior officers." He started to leave the shuttle bay. "Oh, and Lieutenant Commander DelMonde."

"Mr. DelMonde has transferred to San Francisco Shipyards," Spock said.

"I'll bet he has," Calvin muttered, then said, "Just as well. He'll be safe from the blitz there."

"Blitz?" Spock questioned.

Calvin turned back. "This media assault will make the Eugenics Wars seem like a picnic, Captain Spock. An absolute picnic."


"Leave me alone!”"

Admiral Poul Bradigan jumped up from his desk at the ruckus from outside his office. Before he could reach the door, it hissed open and Lieutenant Commander Noel DelMonde burst through it.

"Poul, make the damn leeches stop!" he thundered hoarsely.

Bradigan stuck his head out the door with a firm, "That will be all, gentlemen," then closed and locked it. DelMonde stood ramrod straight, his hands at his ears. Bradigan returned to his desk, thumbing a switch, speaking quietly to his yeoman. Then he said gently, "Sit down, Mr. DelMonde."

"Why they not leave me alone?" Del rasped. "I say 'no comment' till I not t’ink straight."

"You're a celebrity. Whatever you do is news."

"It my life, my business!"

"I know. And I can't have this circus at the Yards. So I'm assigning special protection for you."

Del glanced up. "S.D. chamber?"


There was a buzz at the door and Bradigan got up to answer it. "Meet your protection, Lieutenant Commander."

A familiar arm was draped around Del's shoulder. "How you doin' N.C.?" said Jeremy Paget's deep, friendly voice.

"You protection?" Del asked.

Jeremy grinned. "Ever see anybody get past me?"

"Mais, was that giant at th' party at..."

"Besides him."

Del shook his head. "Poul, this a good idea?"

"He was your roommate," Bradigan replied.

"Yeah. I already know all your bad moods,” Jeremy said. “I won't let the press at you just to get even." He grinned again.

"Besides, he's also a trained psychologist. He'll protect you in more than a physical sense," Bradigan finished. Jeremy made a face.

"Poul, don't spread that around, huh?"

"I wouldn't think of it, Dr. Paget."

"Is it okay to say 'hush’ to an admiral?" Jeremy questioned.

"No, it's not,” Bradigan replied. “Now you two get out of my office and get to work. And use the other door."

"I not be takin’ much more o’ this," Del muttered.

Jeremy gave him a quick embrace. "I know, Cajun. I'll take care of it."

"I wish you could, Cobra. I surely wish you could."


"....and so you will respond positively to all — I repeat, all — questions. If any assistance is needed, this office will provide Starfleet policy decisions on the pertinent area. I am open to questions."

Spock watched as his officers exchanged puzzled looks. It was Montgomery Scott who spoke for their collective consternation.

"Beggin’ your pardon, Commodore," he said slowly, "but I do na ken how any of this affects us. We were only doin' our duty."

"That's not what the Federation at large thinks, Commander Scott." Calvin cleared his throat. "Perhaps I haven't made myself clear. This ship and her crew, particularly her captain and senior officers, are heroes. Of the highest magnitude. You were all celebrities, and now you're heroic celebrities."

"Celebrities?" Uhura repeated. "Us?"

"Yes, Lieutenant Commander. You."


"And as such, everything you do, say, eat, or wear is in the news. Your orders, ladies and gentlemen, are to cooperate fully with the media. And mine are to see that you do. Is that clear?"

"What do we tell them?" Tara Ryan wanted to know.

"The truth, within the bounds of security, taste and reason set by this office and Headquarters."

"Which is where Starfleet policy comes in," Leonard McCoy muttered.

"Exactly, Doctor." Calvin stood. "Now if there are no further questions..."

"But," Ruth Valley asked, "when did all this happen? Nobody ever told me I was famous before."

"Miss Valley," Calvin said patiently, "one of the reasons my office exists is to keep you from knowing you're famous. Starfleet has always done its best to protect its officers from this sort of thing. Unfortunately, this time we can't shield the people involved." He looked around the room. "Ladies and gentlemen, I am sorry about this."

This statement, too, elicited exactly the reaction Spock expected: dread. For if Dave Calvin, cheerful in the face of the most inconvenient of public relations spectacles, was sorry, there must indeed be something to worry about.

With a heartfelt sigh, Calvin dismissed the meeting. Spock rose and followed his First and Science Officers, intent on a private briefing of his own.


"How can I be famous?" Ruth wondered in mild annoyance.

"You're the only Antari in Fleet," Sulu supplied. "Plus you're a keheil, half of Valjiir and Spock's wife. That's how."

"But that's nothing to be famous about."

"Oh yeah? Remember when we were sixteen? I knew all about Jim Kirk, didn't I? And just because he was the youngest captain. You've got more going for you than that."

"Well, I've got better legs than Bwana, but I don't see how that..."

Sulu's chuckle was interrupted by Spock's voice.

"May I speak with you both — privately."

Ruth nodded, still smiling, warmly attentive. Sulu sobered immediately and followed Spock into an empty lab. The Captain looked decidedly uncomfortable.

"From my conversation with the Commodore," he began, "it is apparent that the media has far more information than he finds palatable."

"There are always rumors, Captain," Sulu broke in. "People write home, gossip spreads all through the Fleet..."

"True enough, Mr. Sulu. That is reality. Commodore Calvin, as head of Public Relations, is far removed from such things. Since, however, we must deal with it, we can proceed under the assumption that there is little the rumor-mongers have not heard. The questions they raise to us will, in all likelihood, be more disquieting than those they will ask the rest of the crew. This affair may be easier to deal with if we have some cohesive strategy as to what will be discussed and in what detail." His gaze focused on Sulu. "Particularly with regard to Jilla, who can be disturbingly honest and sees no reason for evasion."

"Just what do you want her to evade, as if I didn't know, Captain?" Sulu asked.

Spock's eyebrow rose but he held up his hand to forestall Ruth's protest. "Her damnation should remain as private a thing as possible, do you not agree?"

Sulu frowned. "Yes, of course. The last thing she needs is a bunch of reporters hounding her."

"Precisely. There must be some way she can be protected." Spock turned to Ruth. "And some way to protect our privacy as well."

"Can't we just say 'no comment’?" Ruth asked.

"Not according to Commodore Calvin. We are here to discuss our heroic efforts."

"Heroic efforts," Sulu snorted. "As far as Fleet knows, all I did for a year was warm the con."

"I would hardly call your rescue of the captain and landing party from an impossible situation 'warming the con', Mr. Sulu," Spock rejoined.

"I was reprimanded for that," Sulu returned, the tightness in his voice revealing how much that indignity still stung.

"The incident was recorded in my log with recommendation for a citation for actions above and beyond the call of duty."

Sulu's gaze came sharply up. "What?"

"Recommendation for special commendation was also made concerning your handling of the ship in diverting the stellar flare from Starbase 16. And the part you played in the apprehension of the man responsible for the sabotage that accompanied it... with no blame attached for his subsequent death."

"But..." Sulu began.

"Also, there was never any mention of the unfortunate actions on Rundella made in my official logs. Credit was given you for the method of disarming the Klingon vessel commanded by Kel and I took full blame for every action taken on Betara. Your record under my command is most impressive." To prove his point, Spock turned to a computer terminal and called up Sulu's service file.

Sulu stared at the screen for several minutes. "This is all official?" he questioned.

"All official, Mr. Sulu, I assure you."

A hesitant smile pulled at the corners of Sulu's mouth. "I'm flattered, Captain. And honored. Thank you."

"It is no more than you deserve, Commander. You have been an excellent First Officer."

The smile became full and Ruth cleared her throat. "I thought we were talking about how to avoid the Press," she said, but her eyes were twinkling.

"So we were," Spock replied. "Have either of you any suggestions?"

"Well, we could easily get away with explaining — uh — Del..." Ruth paused for a moment, then took a deep breath and went on. "It was necessary for the mission on Betara that everyone on the ship believe we were having an affair. All we have to say is that."

"Which is where a problem with Jilla crimes in," Spock said.

"Yeah, she'll never go along with that," Sulu said.

"Maybe no one will ask her?" Ruth suggested.

"Not ask -jiir about Val- ?" Sulu put in.

"It was just a thought," Ruth returned lamely.

"In fact, with Indiians’ reputation for verity, it is likely that Jilla will be a star attraction among the media," Spock reminded.

"Shit!" Sulu exclaimed. "She needs a bodyguard."

"Have you anyone in mind, Mr. Sulu?"

"What's wrong with me?"

"You do tend to get a little aggressive where Jilla’s concerned," Ruth added.

“What’s that got to do with… “

“Such – aggression – will only serve to make the media more interested in her,” Spock pointed out.

Sulu grumbled under his breath, then turned to Ruth. "You could do it," he told her. "You could even protect her from emotional overload."

"Her recovery from the sauvrn is not yet complete," Spock replied automatically.

"A little shielding wouldn't be beyond me, Spock," Ruth said, her voice a little testy. Sulu got the definite impression that they'd been through this before.

"You mustn’t overtax yourself, my wife."

"Later, my husband."

"As you wish."

Sulu cleared his throat. "Well, what do we do?"

"I do not know," Spock said. "And we have little time to arrive at a solution."

"At least we know the problem," Ruth said.

"For a change," Sulu put in.

"It will become standard procedure, Mr. Sulu, I can promise you that," Spock responded. Sulu met the Vulcan's eyes.

"Yes, sir," he said in a voice full of cautious respect. "And we'd better get back to duty before Calvin comes looking for us."

Spock nodded. "Dismissed, then, until such time as one of us finds a solution."

He headed out of the room and Sulu turned to Ruth.

"Hey, Spike, I still got a chance to be promoted the hell out from under him."

She laughed and Spock smiled.


Sulu went to Engineering intending to discuss the problem with the media with Jilla, but when he saw her the words that burst out of his mouth were, "Hon, I just got a look at my service record. Spock doesn't think I'm the world's worst First Officer!"

She looked up from the board she was monitoring and smiled warmly. "You have always been an excellent second in command,” she said. “It is only proper that Spock acknowledges it."

"But since when has he?” Sulu returned. “Turns out he isn't the bastard – “ He stopped, then went on. “Well, isn't as much of a bastard —“ He paused again, scowling. “Hell, I don't know what I think. I just know he doesn't think I'm a fuck-up."

"It will take some time to become used to the changes," Jilla soothed.

"At least this time they'll be pleasant changes," Sulu agreed. There was silence for several seconds, then Jilla said,

"Was there something else?"

"Oh, yeah, I almost forgot. Did Scotty brief the section on our orders from Calvin?"

Jilla frowned. "Yes. I cannot understand why such a commotion is being made over this."

"We're heroes," Sulu replied. "The whole galaxy wants to know about heroes."

"We did our duty... each of us as we saw fit."

"Yeah," Sulu said uneasily. "That's what I wanted to talk to you about." He paused. "I spoke to the Captain and Ruth and we think that there are some things that really aren't any of the media's business. Since we aren't allowed to say 'no comment', there might be a problem when the reporters ask you..."

"I intend to become overwrought," Jilla broke in calmly.

"You what?"

"It is well known that Indiians are emotionally sensitive. I fear I shall be unable to handle any extensive questioning. The emotional atmosphere will be too traumatic... at appropriate times."

Sulu was grinning widely. "You're magnificent, you know that?"

"It is the only practical solution. And as the type of media coverage we will likely be subjected to will most certainly be emotional enough to cause me real incapacitation, I can see little falseness in simply refraining from exercising the full extent of my Vulcan control."

Glancing around the engine room, Sulu bent to give her a quick kiss — which was interrupted by Scotty's good-natured, "Ahem." Jilla brightened, and Sulu said, "I'm going, Scotty," and left the engine room, still smiling.


"It's a beautiful sight here from Starbase 16. We're privileged to be watching the orbital insertion on the navigational scanners. The Enterprise is a magnificent ship despite her age. Her grace of movement can no doubt be attributed to the sure touch of her helmsman and the excellent and difficult course corrections fed to her computers by her navigator. And all these intricately balanced maneuvers are under the direction of her captain. A lovely sight, indeed."

"Captain," Uhura said as she turned from her communications board. "You won't believe what I'm picking up on the standard frequencies."

Spock raised one eyebrow. "Indeed, Miss Uhura? Something of importance?"

"That I'm not sure of, but I'd say something of interest."

"On audio, then, Lieutenant Commander."

Uhura did as ordered, and the Bridge crew listened to the news broadcast for at least thirty seconds before spontaneous laughter broke out.

Sulu grinned over at Chekov. "I didn't know I was graceful at this," he said.

"But I am always excellent," the Russian replied in mock-seriousness.

"And difficult," Sulu added.

"I dinna see what the lot of you find so amusing," Scotty muttered from the Engineering Station.

"We have been informed that beam-down will commence within one hour. At that time, we'll be given a chance to see and speak with the legendary Captain Spock and his superlative crew: First Officer Commander Sulu, Science Officer Lieutenant Commander Ruth Maxwell Valley who is incidentally an Antari Moon Priestess and Captain Spock’s wife, Chief of Engineering Commander Montgomery Scott, Chief Medical Officer Lieutenant Commander Doctor Leonard McCoy, Chief of Communications Lieutenant Commander Uhura..."

"Why must they say 'Moon Priestess'?" Ruth complained.

"That woman makes the titles sound a tad ridiculous," McCoy drawled. "I mean, Lieutenant Commander Doctor..."

"Oh god, do you know who that is?" Calvin groaned.

"I assume you do," Spock replied.

"That's Rachel Kamens. She's a barracuda." A snicker came from the Science Station. Calvin ignored it. "She's just setting us up for the kill with all this flattery."

"Missing from the ship's complement is Lieutenant Commander Noel DelMonde, whose poetry has added to the fame of both Starfleet and a certain Moon Priestess."

"I don't think I'm going to like this woman," Ruth muttered.

“His recent transfer to the San Francisco Shipyards has sparked rumors of personal difficulties aboard this famous ship. Rumors Captain Spock and his crew should be able to clear up. It is to be hoped that there is nothing petty involved in the activities of the Fleet personnel that could tarnish the deeds so recently accomplished."

"See what I mean," Calvin stated. He looked around the Bridge. "We have to be extremely careful with these people. They're all sharks and they smell blood with this ship. Remember that this is Starfleet and you all are officers... and gentlemen. Headquarters expects you to behave with proper decorum."

"My officers know their duty, Commodore," Spock assured.

"Just be on your guard. These people don't let up for a minute."


Del was trying to get some work done. He'd found a quiet, empty briefing room and had settled down with the read-outs of the design specs that had just arrived from the Enterprise. Which he didn't want to think about. The changes were minor but important and he'd have to correlate them with the specs already in the computer. He sighed and rubbed his forehead, then began to try to concentrate. He was aware of Jeremy hovering near the door but determined not to notice him.

Until he heard the rising voices coming down the corridor.

"A moment of your time, Lieutenant Commander," one voice called out.

"Leave me alone," Del whispered, his head beginning to pound.

"The Lieutenant Commander's busy right now," Jeremy said blandly.

"This will only take a moment."

"The man's got work to do."

"I only want to ask him one or two little questions. I won't take up any time at all."

"As Starfleet officers, we've got to attend to our duties, sir. I suggest you leave us to them."

"Surely just a moment or two..."

"Do you hear all right? I said the man's busy."

"There's no need for anyone to..."

"Maybe you just don't understand Standard Anglo-Terran." Del had to stifle a chuckle as Jeremy repeated the phrase in French, Japanese, Russian, Swahili, Andorian, Vulcan, Indiian and Tellaran.

"Could I have your name, Lieutenant Commander?" That was an old trick. If it was supposed to intimidate Jeremy Paget, it failed miserably. Del could hear the baring of teeth.

"Certainly; Jeremy Paget, special guard to Lieutenant Commander DelMonde. Can I have yours? I'm certain Admiral Bradigan will want to know who to deny press passes to."

There was a disgruntled sound and footsteps walking away. "Aces, N.C.," Jeremy called quietly and Del grinned, his headache easing. He went almost peacefully back to his work.


Despite Calvin's warnings, the crew of the Enterprise was not prepared for the swarm of reporters that descended on the transporter station at Starbase 16. From the look on Commodore Starn's face, neither was he. The fact that the consternation showed so plainly on his Vulcan features was sufficiently unnerving to make everyone very conscious of the words that came out of their mouths.

The questions were thrown at them with barely enough time given for answering. Ruth stayed close to Spock. Sulu kept Jilla close to him... then caught sight of the sudden alarm on Calvin's face. It was obvious that the Commodore hadn't considered the problem of Indiian honesty before.

"Hon," he whispered, "I think we'd better put Commodore Calvin's mind at ease before he has apoplexy."

Jilla merely nodded and waded unconcernedly into a knot of reporters. Sulu could hear the cries and calls of, "Lieutenant! Over here!" and "Just a few questions, Lieutenant!" The ruckus continued for several minutes and he was about to see to her 'rescue’ when Ruth came up beside him, still holding on to Spock's arm.

"Where's Jilla?" she asked worriedly.

"She's helping the Commodore," Sulu replied.

At that moment, there was a sharp cry from the knot of reporters and Dave Calvin was pushing through them. Jilla stood, obviously upset; shaking, her hands covering her face, to all intents and purposes sobbing uncontrollably. Ruth rushed forward, enfolding Jilla in a protective embrace.

"The Lieutenant is Indiian!" Calvin was shouting. "Sensitives simply cannot handle this kind of pressure! You can see the results for yourselves! Now I'll have to ask you to give her the emotional space she needs. Any questioning of Lieutenant Majiir will have to be cleared by my office. We can arrange for private interviews, dependant on her condition. Please, ladies and gentlemen, let her through!"

Ruth put on her best professional face. "I can calm her," she announced, "but I'll need time... and privacy." She carefully led Jilla from the crowds, speaking softly and soothingly to her. The reporters parted obediently for the Moon Priestess.

"You did that very well," she said when they were out of earshot. Jilla took a deep breath and smiled through the very real tears.

"Thank you," she replied calmly.


"I regret having brought such disruption to your command, Commodore," Spock greeted Starn.

"We were informed beforehand, Captain," Starn returned. "However, we were not prepared for the magnitude of this situation."

"Nor were we, Commodore. I trust we can complete this assignment quickly."

"To that end, Captain, I have arranged a conference with the media for you and Mr. Sulu." A hint of a smile played around the corners of his mouth. "It kept the le-matyas from my family."

"I understand, Commodore. A pity I cannot keep them from mine.”

"You are welcome to avail yourselves of the privacy of my home, Spock."

"I thank you for your generosity, Starn. My actions during our last meeting hardly warrant it."

"Honorable actions are often difficult ones. If your lady-wife understands, I can do no less."

Spock bowed his head in silent acknowledgement.


"D'you suppose they've heard of my wee difficulty?" Scotty asked McCoy as they stole a few moments away from the hoard.

"I wouldn't know, Scotty," McCoy replied, "but I wouldn't be surprised. They seem to know about everything else."

Scotty shook his head. "And how do I explain it, Leonard?"

"The same way you explained it to the Captain." To McCoy's astonishment, the engineer flushed.

"I'm afraid I haven't done that, as yet."

"Not...? Scotty...."

"Aye, I know. But he hasn't asked and it's not the sort of thing I could easily bring up, is it?"

"I think you'd better. Before some reporter does."

"First opportunity, Leonard. I promise."

"That better be in the next five minutes."

Scotty dourly surveyed the shifting mass of people. "Aye," he replied glumly, then sighed and went to look for Spock.


Scott was able to waylay the captain just before he and Sulu went into the press conference. "May I have a word with you, sir?" Scotty requested quietly.

Spock lifted an eyebrow in curiosity but nodded his agreement. "There is an empty office the Commodore has made available for me," he answered. He spoke to Sulu. "Inform the – barracudas — of this necessary delay, Mr. Sulu."

Sulu mastered the frown that was his first reaction and nodded. "Of course, sir."

"I realize that you would brave the jaws of death for me, Commander, and this is perhaps asking too much… however, it is in the line of duty."

Sulu smiled in spite of himself. "Yes, sir." He squared his shoulders and entered the briefing room alone.

Spock led Scott to the nearby office, then turned to inquire, "Yes, Engineer?"

"It's a wee problem I've been havin’ for the last year, sir," Scott began uneasily. He took a deep breath and plunged on, "I've never been drunk on duty, Captain, I want you to know that. Of course, there was a time or two when Jilla and Noel wouldn't let me go on duty. It was a fool way to act, especially from a career senior officer, and the problem's been taken of. My personal bad habits will cause you no trouble, Captain Spock, but I didna want the reporters to surprise you with facts you didn't already know, sir."

Spock spoke quietly and did not meet Scott's eyes. "I have been aware of the difficulty from the beginning, Mr. Scott."

"But... you never mentioned... I thought you.. . "

"I know." Spock paused, then took a deep breath himself. "We have known one another for many years, Montgomery. You have remained steadfast in your support during times that tried the patience of every other Human under my command. I could do no less than extend to you the same support — particularly in the face of adversity that was, in large part, my doing." Spock looked up. "No mention of this need be made in any official report, Montgomery. And I think there is no need to mention it between us. As for the media, I will handle it if the subject should arise. As you have stated, you were never drunk on duty."

Scott smiled at him. "I thank you, Spock. You're a good friend."

"I am honored you should think so, Mr. Scott. If there is nothing else, I should perhaps see to Mr. Sulu's rescue."

"Aye, sir. Jilla'd be most upset if you did not."

"So she would, Mr. Scott." With a private smile of his own Spock left the small room and headed for the auditorium reserved for the press conference.


"....my Captain," Sulu finished saying as he saw the door open out of the corner of his eye. Everyone else had seen it as well and every voice was raised at Spock as he came toward the dais where Sulu was seated behind a table. Spock, Vulcan dignity completely intact, totally ignored the questions until after he was seated next to his First Officer. Then he nodded to the waiting group and said, "Proceed."

"Captain Spock, how did you know that Jim Kirk was alive?" came the first question. Sulu glanced at Spock. This was a tricky one, since Spock didn't know himself.

"I received a telepathic impression. There was never any doubt for me, nor would there have been for any other telepath. Unfortunately, such a thing is only understandable to those so gifted. Unlike the Antari, Vulcan telepathy is not accepted within the Federation as an absolute." He nodded at another reporter while Sulu marveled at the neat evasion, as well as the small deception; he knew full well that if Spock himself had not ‘doubted’ there would have been no devil’s bargain.

"If only another telepath can understand, how did you convince Fleet to let you search for him?"

"I am a valued officer in Starfleet, and as such, my opinions are given the weight they deserve." Jesus, he sounds arrogant, Sulu thought. Then Spock's tone softened. "It was not an easy task. The chance that I might be correct, with the attendant hope to regain the services of one of Starfleet's finest captains, made the venture worthwhile."

There was a small ripple of laughter from the floor. Like Sulu, most of the reporters were uncertain whether or not Captain Spock had actually intended to be self-deprecating.

"And was it worth the risk, Captain?"

Sulu bristled. The question seemed to imply that Kirk wasn't important and that rankled, especially after all they'd been through.

"I believe so. It is my understanding that Starfleet agrees with me." He turned to Sulu. "Do you have an opinion to add, Commander?"

Sulu started, then cleared his throat. "Yes, thank you, Captain. James T. Kirk was and is one of if not the finest captains Starfleet has ever produced. He belongs to a rare breed of men, and any effort expended to insure that that kind of man is in command of our starships is more than justifiable." Sulu fell silent, somewhat surprised at the vehemence in his own voice. He was more surprised at Spock's slight but definitely approving nod.

"How exactly did you manage to find Captain Kirk?" came the next question.

"That information is classified," Spock responded. "The next question, if you please."

"Do you have any reports on Captain Kirk's progress?"

"His doctor of record, Jade Han, reports satisfactory progress, considering his condition and the length of his illness. More detailed information can be obtained from my Chief Medical Officer."

"What are the chances of his recovery?"

"Based on Dr. Han's reports, I would say very optimistic. There, of course, remains much work to be done. Next question."

"How much did this rescue cost the Federation?"

Spock frowned. "I am certain Starfleet 's budget will..."

"I speak in terms of safety for the Enterprise's patrol sector, Starfleet's prestige within the Federation, and the cost in concern to every Federation citizen, Captain Spock. The monetary aspect is secondary."

Spock's frown deepened. "The rescue operation endangered no one within the Federation, madam. The Enterprise continued her patrol while engaged in the preliminary research necessary for discovering Captain Kirk's whereabouts. If you care to examine the record for this time period, you will see that we were not idle. As to Starfleet's prestige, I cannot see how this action can do other than enhance it. Captain Kirk is, indeed, legendary within the Federation. That Starfleet should consider him worthy of this effort should show a definite humanity in the upper echelons of Starfleet — if the non-Humans here will pardon the expression."

Sulu grinned at that. But the answer did not satisfy the questioner — the infamous Rachel Kamens.

"But still, Captain Spock, all that effort was for one man. And on your word alone, if we are to correctly interpret your non-answer to that question. Do not these sorts of actions carry the danger that Starfleet will become a means for private endeavor?"

"You speak in the plural, madam. This is a singular event," Spock replied stiffly.

"But not an unprecedented one, was it, Captain? There was the incident involving Captain Pike several years ago."

"That is a security matter, madam, and as such, cannot be discussed in an open forum such as..."

"Tell us, Captain, would you have hijacked the Enterprise again if Fleet hadn't agreed to your plans for rescue operations?"

Sulu spoke up. "Ma'am, Captain Spock has already stated that this is a security matter. As I was the Chief of Security for the Enterprise at that time, the matter comes under my jurisdiction. I have to ask you to drop this line of questioning.” Again Spock nodded approval.

"Commander Sulu," came a new voice from the floor, "what's it like serving under a Vulcan?"

"Ask Ruth," Sulu muttered under his breath, and was rewarded with a snort of amusement from Spock. It emboldened him. "I'd say very satisfying. Captain Spock is demanding, but it's invigorating... not to mention extremely gratifying when one succeeds in performing up to his standards."

"And have you always succeeded, Commander?"

Sulu gave his most charming smile. "Well, you'd have to ask my Captain that."

"Yes, he always has," Spock said automatically.

"Thank you, sir."

Spock nodded.

"Captain, do you find your command team to be as effective as you were with Captain Kirk?" came another questioner's voice.

"I believe our record speaks for itself in that regard. Our year of service has met with several commendations."

"But the team of Kirk and Spock always had a special magic. Is that magic still present?"

"I would like to think so," Spock replied.

"Captain, if I may?" Sulu put in.

"By all means, Commander."

"I'm afraid I'd have to answer in the negative to that question. We don't have the same magic. What we do have is good, solid teamwork and the advantage of years of living and working together aboard the same ship. Captain Kirk and then-Commander Spock did have a special rapport, but that took years to build. Our team works efficiently already. Maybe that's our magic. "

Sulu became aware of Spock's regard and though it was positive, he stopped speaking. It was an irritant, just beneath the skin... the feeling of being scrutinized. And he'd had enough of constantly being watched in the past year. He bristled. If he tried hard enough, he just might be able to control the flush rising to his face. Fortunately, someone asked another question.

"And how does your marriage affect the Command team, Captain?"

Spock raised an eyebrow. "It does not. Miss Valley is first and foremost an excellent officer. That she is my wife has never and will never effect my command decisions. It is understood between us; indeed, between any married officers."

"Why was Noel DelMonde transferred to San Francisco?" Rachel Kamens again.

"He requested a transfer, Miss Kamens. I granted it."

"Isn't it true that he had good reason to request such a transfer?"

"I am certain that he did."

"Isn't it also true that you know very well what those reasons were?"

"They are Mr. DelMonde's private business. I will not discuss it here."

"Then the rumors of his affair with your wife are true." It was said as a statement and Sulu watched Spock's carefully controlled reaction. He fixed Miss Kamens with an icy stare, drawing his Vulcan sternness around him like a cloak. Sulu was only too familiar with the action and he almost pitied Kamens.

"Such rumors have been given credence, Miss Kamens," Spock began in a voice as cold as his stare. "I hardly think them important enough to require an answer. However, since one of your ilk has brought up this distasteful and private piece of gossip, I would assume it will be necessary for me to lower myself to respond. Although how this question has any bearing on the Enterprise, Captain Kirk, my command, Starfleet or the Federation at large is beyond me: Indeed, beyond the understanding of any decent sentient being." Spock paused, then went on, even colder than before. "A delicate mission to preserve the safety of a Federation colony necessitated that such be given as fact, not only to the crew but to the Klingon enclave on Betara. The details are as yet classified; if they were not, I would divulge them simply to prove how far from the truth such allegations are. I trust, Miss Kamens, that this satisfies your prurient interest in the matter."

Sulu could see the woman's flush from where he was sitting, and it was his turn to nod approval at Spock.

There was silence from the floor for several minutes. Finally, a trying-not-to-be-timid voice said, "Captain Spock, how does this whole affair with Captain Kirk affect the Federation's relationship with the Klingons?"

"I would assume that any effect would be to strengthen our position. We have proven that we can outwit their schemes. Klingons do respect intelligence in their opponents." Spock's voice had regained its neutral tone.

"As much as they respect anything," Sulu murmured, Spock turned to him.

“Indeed, Mr. Sulu, but we must not appear prejudiced," he said quietly. Sulu chuckled grimly.

"How much do they know about the Guardian of Forever? Do we have to worry about an alteration in our history?"

"Captain Kirk escaped his captors through the Guardian. If they knew of its functioning, they would have gone to retrieve him themselves. We would not be here to discuss it."

There were sounds of relief throughout the hall.

"Have the Organians expressed any opinion of this incident? Can we expect any reaction from them?"

"It is my understanding that the Organians consider this more or less a private matter. As it did not include any overt attack on Federation personnel, they will not interfere."

"Does this effect the Organian Treaty?"

"If they do not alter it, we cannot. The Treaty is as imposed on us as it is on the Klingons. We literally have no say in the matter."

After this answer, Commodore Calvin stepped forward and announced, "That's all for now. You'll have ample opportunity for lengthier, more detailed interviews with the Captain and his crew later on. Thank you." He gave his most winning smile, but nothing else, and firmly led Spock and Sulu away.


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