by Cheryl Petterson

(Standard Year 2248)

originally published as "You Always Hurt The One You Love"

Return to Valjiir Stories

Return to Valjiir Continum

She crept through the crowded marketplace, furtively stealing fruits and sweetstalks. She was hungry and wanted only to find a dark corner where she could rest and eat. She moved silently in and out of the market stalls and no one took notice of her passing. Even if someone had, all there was to see was a small, pale woman with matted, dirty hair, dressed in a short, ragged tunic of red; one sleeve torn, the other missing. Given her appearance, one would have undoubtedly concluded that she was just another filthy beggar, probably diseased or she’d at least be whoring to earn her bread. There was nothing unusual in that, nothing unusual about her; nothing except the strange wavy golden stripe on the cuff of the remaining sleeve, and the oddly-shaped patch of gold at her breast.


“My people are in your city somewhere, Governor, and I’m not leaving without them.” Jim Kirk’s voice was stiff and controlled.

From the viewscreen, Governor Rison of the city of Liswell smiled urbanely. “I have told you repeatedly, Captain; unless you transported them somewhere other than our specified coordinates, they are not.”

Captain James T. Kirk was furious. The Enterprise had been orbiting Canti for four days. Lieutenant Kevin Riley, Lieutenant Jilla Majiir and Ensign Monique DuBois had been missing for four days. He wasn’t especially fond of situations like this in the first place. Throwing Federation weight around was what billion-credit heavy cruisers were built for, but that didn’t mean he had to enjoy the threat and bluff game. Especially when the Federation neatly tied his hands. Canti’s government and technological development was little better than feudal, and the planet should have been under Prime Directive protection. But it was an important source of several rare and vital minerals. So, in accordance with carefully negotiated treaty, contact with anyone other than designated governmental officials was strictly forbidden. Any more than three Starfleet personnel beaming down to the capital palace was strictly forbidden, and they were required to remain in the palace and in uniform so that, if contamination occurred, it would be easily traceable. Modern weaponry was strictly forbidden. Modern communication devices were limited to one communicator and two transmissions per landing party; a report of safe arrival and a request for beam-up. What am I supposed to threaten the Cantians with? Jim fumed. The Federation will read you the Rights of Sentient Beings?

And to make it worse, Rison knew it all. The governor was an arrogant, supercilious man, profiting quite nicely from the Federation trading without doing a bit of real work himself. Cantian slaves did the mining. And he was not at all intimidated by a starship Captain who couldn’t legally touch him.

“We’ve verified our coordinates a dozen times,” Jim said evenly. “We’ve tested our equipment. My crew members beamed to the planet surface at the time and place specified by your office four days ago. Your people should have met them at those coordinates. They didn’t. You admit the guards were delayed. Something happened to my officers between the time they beamed down and the time your people arrived and I intend to find out what if I have to…”

“Your officers are not my responsibility, Captain,” Rison interrupted. “I was gracious enough to conduct a search for you, a very thorough search. I do not wish the contamination any more than you wish to lose your officers. The search was fruitless. Your people are not in my city. And I have much more pressing business.” Rison broke the contact.

Jim slammed his fist down.

“The Governor has done all that Canti’s treaty with the Federation requires, Captain,” Spock reminded.

“But that doesn’t get my crew back, does it, Mr. Spock?” Jim snapped. Both Ruth Valley at Sciences and Lieutenant Sulu at the Helm gave an enthusiastic if silent ‘amen!’

“Sir, if a search has been properly conducted and the missing personnel are not found, they must be presumed…”

“Don’t say it, Spock,” Jim warned.

“But we don’t know if it was a proper search!” Sulu exclaimed simultaneously. “That governor’s been anything but helpful despite what he claims!”

“Easy, Sulu,” Jim soothed. He understood the Helmsman’s agitation. Sulu and Lieutenant Majiir were The Great Romance of the Enterprise. “I’m not presuming anything unless someone shows me bodies.”

“What do you suggest, sir?” Ruth asked. She looked ready to barge down to the governor’s castle and carry out a search all by herself.

“Well, we can’t just beam down an army…” Jim mused.

“Why not?” Sulu muttered.

“Miss Valley, get me all the information you can about customs, styles of clothing, and the best way for – say – seven or eight people to have freedom of movement in Liswell.” Jim smiled at Sulu. “Will that do, Lieutenant?”

“Fine, sir,” Sulu replied, his face grimly happy.

“Captain, may I remind you of Federation policy concerning…” Spock began.

“No, you may not. Get on with it, Miss Valley.”

“Right away, Bwa- yes, sir!”


An hour later, seven Cantians stood in the transporter room, awaiting their Captain and First Officer. Pavel Chekov, David Kelly and Ramon Ordona were grumbling because they’d been costumed as thieves, but given strict orders not to take their professions literally. Dr. Leonard McCoy was, of course, in the garb of a healer.

Cantian women were either slaves, whores or somebody’s daughter. Lieutenant Uhura was dressed quite simply in a drab, rag-edged gown of a muted blue with a belt of rope; obviously a slave. Ruth wore a skirt of scarves low on her hips and a velvet vest that tied into a ‘V’ across her breasts, though just barely. There were chains around her bare waist, upper left arm, lower right, left ankle, and at her throat. Her thick, golden hair tumbled loosely over her shoulders and down her back. She was obviously not a slave, or somebody’s daughter.

Sulu was adjusting an impressive array of variously-sized daggers, a dashing, prosperous mercenary. “Hey, Roy, how do I look?” Ruth asked him. He glanced up.

“Expensive,” he replied in only slightly accented Cantian. The directly implanted knowledge would fade from all their memories in seven solar days, but for the time being, all of the landing party could speak Cantian dialect as naturally as their native tongues.

The door opened and another heavily armed mercenary entered the transporter room, accompanied by a tall, white-robed priest. Jim stared at Ruth, and not at her face. “Miss Valley, just what are you…” he began.

“Men talk,” she answered, “to a pretty girl.”

“Hardly apparel that will attract no attention, Lieutenant,” Spock said. “And we are attempting to remain anonymous.”

“I thought we were attempting to locate the landing party,” Ruth returned.

“And we can best do that by drawing as little attention to ourselves as possible.”

“Maybe you can…” McCoy broke in, coming to Ruth’s defense.

If Bones gets in on this, we’ll be here all day, Jim thought. He cleared his throat. “Ladies, gentlemen, your orders are to unobtrusively gather any information regarding Lieutenants Riley and Majiir and Ensign DuBois,” he said loudly. “You have communicators - ” he looked at Ruth, “ – although I don’t know where, and you are to report to the ship at regular intervals. Do not, I repeat, do not contact one another by communicator. When the missing crew members have all been found, Mr. Scott will automatically beam us all up. You’ve been supplied with local currency. Use it. We’ll stay a week.” He glanced at Sulu. “Only a week. I’m sorry, Mr. Sulu, but we can’t spare any more time.” Sulu nodded sullenly. “The thieves will travel together, as will the ladies. Dr. McCoy, you’ll accompany Mr. Spock, and Lieutenant Sulu, you’ll be with me. Any questions?”

There were none. They stepped onto the transporter platform.

“Bring the lass back safe, lad,” Scotty said to Sulu.

“I will,” Sulu responded determinedly.

I hope so, Jim added silently. “Energize, Mr. Scott.”


“You see how their law binds them. No honorable man would allow those insults to go unanswered.” The tall, strangely-dressed man spoke softly, yet his voice carried unmistakable menace.

Rison sat on his governor’s throne. He was actually more of a lord than a governor, but the title could not be changed. Not yet. If what these aliens proposed actually worked… “For all their claimed power, there is little they can do,” he agreed.

“If they wish to continue receiving your minerals,” the alien added. “And by the time that becomes unfeasible, it will be far too late for their starships to do you any harm.”

Rison smiled. “Thanks to you, Commander.”

The Romulan nodded.


“YOU! Come back here!’

She turned and ran, dropping none of the fruit she had just stolen from the merchant’s stand. He tried to give chase but she was too fast, flitting skillfully between the crowds and stalls. He finally lost sight of her and gave up. “Damned outlanders,” he muttered in disgust.

She raced through the short narrow streets, dodging and weaving, until she was certain her pursuer had lost sight of her. Then she slowed to an unobtrusive pace, heading back to the well-hidden grotto she had claimed as home. She tried to focus only on the present; thinking hurt, and what memories she had were troubling. She didn’t know who she was or how she had come to wake in the dark man’s bed three days previously. She only knew that he had been filthy and brutal. There had been food there, but she’d run away as soon as she could. She shuddered. She could still feel his hands on her flesh, the acrid heat of his breath against her throat. Starving was preferable.

The tenor of authoritative voices caught her attention, and she dropped into a crouch, wedging her body into a dark alcove.

“Well, where should we start?” The speaker was young and his inflection suggested a lower class.

“I would suggest we find the local equivalent of a thieves’ quarter.” A second voice, one oddly accented. “Once there, we ask about any women or men in strange clothing, our lost kindred from a hill tribe.”

Cautiously, she peeked out as three men walked past the alcove. She had a most unusual sensation, as if they had been talking about her. But while she could not recall if she was from a ‘hill tribe,’ the men wore the clothing of professional bandits. She glanced down at her own clothing. No, if she were of their kind, she would not be garbed in this strange fabric. She waited for a count of ten, then quickly made her way to the grotto. She hid several pieces of the fruit she had taken near her straw bed, stuffed the rest into a large clay jar near the small fire pit, then lay down. She had thought about herself and her origins, and the sharp pain had again started in her temples.

There was the sound of stone against stone and her hand reached for the dagger hidden in a shallow, scraped-out depression in the dirt beneath her. A woman and two men crept through the hole in the grotto wall and she relaxed. It was only Leaan and her brothers. She watched as the yellow-haired woman - it had been the color of her hair that had evoked trust, though the other could not have said why - placed some bread rolls in the clay jar, then carefully moved one of the grotto bricks. Three pouches appeared from the folds of her skirt and she transferred their contents – copper coins – to a small box within the brick. Her brothers likewise emptied their pockets and vests; food to the jar and valuables to the box.

“We’ve got nearly five gold’s worth,” Leaan said. She turned to the girl lying on the mat. "How did you do, Silver?"

“Fruit and some cheeses,” the younger woman returned, then added as Tomlan, the older of the two men opened his mouth to speak, “and a rasher of smoked bacon.” The young man smiled. “Although I do not see how you can eat animal flesh.” She winced as renewed pain stabbed through her temple.

“I don’t see how you can’t!” the younger brother, Crona, retorted as he grabbed the lid off the clay food pot.

She laid her head back down, and as expected, Tomlan came to kneel beside her. “Silver,” he said softly. It was what they called her, and although she didn’t think it was her name, it was somehow soothing. An echo of a voice somewhere in her whispered, well, hon, because you are, and it made her head hurt even more. She pushed it away, breathing deeply, willing her thoughts to nothing. Tomlan’s hand stroked the side of her face. “It will be another cold night,” he whispered. “I will bring you warmth again, yes?”

She knew what he was proposing, and her heart began pounding. His eager desire beat steadily at her, and though it filled her with shame, she could think of no reason to refuse him. “Yes,” she responded, then winced again.

“Your head hurts,” he said, and while there was sympathy in him, there was also dissatisfaction. “Rest now.” He rose and moved away from her and she closed her eyes until dull oblivion conquered the throbbing of her temples.


A priest and a healer walked slowly through the marketplace, deep in theological conversation. The crowds parted respectfully for them, and received the gracious nods of blessing from the servant of the gods.

“It is necessary for spiritual development to abstain from life’s physical pleasures in the form of the fast, the giving to the poor all wealth and worldly goods, celibacy, and so forth.” The white, hooded robe hid the priest’s features.

“But to the point of debilitation, Holy One?” the healer replied, “and I never thought I’d see the day when I’d call you holy.”

“The body does not matter. It is the spirit that is important. And kindly keep your voice down, Doctor.”

“Yet without the body, how can the Holy Words be spread? How can the works of the gods be accomplished among the souls of this plane? I don’t see any sign of Starfleet uniforms.”

“One need only sustain the spirit within the body. The gods will provide life enough. Lieutenants Majiir and Riley and Ensign DuBois are intelligent officers. I doubt they would remain so obvious.”

“Ah, but then why do the Holy Ones train healers? And how can Mrs. Majiir be unobvious? That girl’s skin shines like a beacon.”

“There are those in whom the spirit is not yet strong. Only when she is greatly distressed in some way and I am gratified to have taught you something, Doctor.”

“Spock, you…”

McCoy’s words were interrupted by a growing disturbance. A crowd of people were following what was quite obviously a prostitute and her slave.

“Doctor,” Spock interrupted. He raised a hand, pointing.

McCoy squinted. “Looks like…”

“It is."

“What’s that girl gotten herself into now?”


Ruth sauntered down the narrow street, allowing her hips to sway in a much-more-than-usually-alluring fashion. She smiled flirtatiously at passing men, tossing her hair with an occasional shake of her shoulders thrown in for good measure. Uhura followed, a respectful slave’s two paces behind her.

“See anything?” Ruth asked casually.

“Not yet," Uhura replied.

A few men called out appreciatively and Ruth did a 360 degree turn, showing off the goods. A copper coin was tossed to her and she blew the man a kiss as Uhura bent down to pick it up.

“You should be careful about that,” Uhura murmured. “Some of these men might actually expect something for their generosity.”

“Out in public without a negotiated arrangement?” Ruth returned. “I doubt it.”

“And just how well do you know the rules of the profession?” Uhura asked with a wicked gleam in her eye.

“I’ll get you for that.”

Uhura chuckled. They continued down the street, and after a short while, Uhura cleared her throat conspicuously. Ruth glanced behind her. A crowd was gathering behind them, following, their facial expressions not at all appreciative nor generous.

“What’s that all about?” Ruth asked.

“I don’t know,” Uhura replied. “Maybe we’d better end this little parade early.”

Ruth frowned. In her experience, the best defense was a good offense. She turned, placing her hands on her hips.

“What do you want?” she demanded imperially. Uhura stepped behind her.

“You serve the governor?” a voice from the crowd asked.

“What of it?” she replied.

“You do?” Uhura whispered.

“How the hell do I know?” Ruth whispered back.

“He is a parasite, living off the hard labor of the outlanders!” another voice exclaimed.

“What do I care?” Ruth shouted. “His gold is as good as any other.” She turned and snapped her fingers at Uhura. “Come!”

“Ruth, I don’t think that was a smart thing to do,” Uhura said.

“We’ll find out,” Ruth rejoined. She had only taken a few steps when a voice shouted “Harlot!” and something hit her in the back. “Ow! Guess not.” Another something struck her, hard. She turned again, a rock barely missing her shoulder. “Goddamn!” she burst out, and picked up a stone and threw it back at her attacker. She heard Uhura’s involuntary cry and another stone hit her thigh, then another caught her upper arm. She crouched, trying to present as small a target as possible. “Uhura, get out of here!” she hissed and saw the lieutenant scrambling away. Another voice screamed “Slut!” as a stone struck her forehead. She bent her head, shielding it with her arms. Showers of stones fell on her and all around her as the voices shrieked at her. “Parasite!” “Whore!” She could feel bruises rising on her skin and her healing abilities took them down nearly as quickly. At this rate, she’d wear herself out. She only hoped the civilians ran out of rocks first.


“Craven creature!”





A shadow fell over her and the stoning ceased. She felt hands on her arms and McCoy’s voice whispered, “Ruthie, you all right?”

“Why do you persecute this woman?” thundered the voice that had stopped her attackers, and Ruth grinned.

“Holy One, she is the governor’s whore!”

“A parasite!”

“She deserves to die!”

“Many that live deserve death,” Spock responded. “And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them?” He glanced coldly at the crowd. “Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgment.” He paused. “Go!” The crowd began to shuffle off. “I said go!

The street became nearly deserted with amazing alacrity.

He stepped up to Ruth as she got to her feet.

“Thank you, Gandalf,” she grinned at him.

“You are welcome, Peregrin,” Spock replied.

Ruth grimaced. “Sorry, Boss.”

“I believe I mentioned the advantages of remaining inconspicuous.”

“That’s enough, Spock,” McCoy interrupted. “Let her heal.”

Ruth closed her eyes and the process was rapidly completed. Uhura raced up to them.

“Ruth, are you all right?” she asked.

“Yeah, fine,” Ruth said, then gazed concernedly at her. “You?”

“I only got hit once,” Uhura said. “I called the ship. If Mr. Spock and Dr. McCoy hadn’t come along, you would have ascended to the Cantian equivalent of heaven in golden shimmer.”

Ruth smiled. “Thanks.”

“Don’t mention it.”

“If you ladies will excuse us, we’ve all still got work to do,” McCoy said. “Come on, Holy One.”

Spock frowned, but followed McCoy.


“Did you hear?" Sosha whispered.

“Yes,” Palin replied. “I knew when he began to speak that he was no ordinary priest.”

“They come from the star people.”

“I think so, yes.”

“They are gentle and compassionate. I know they will help us.”

“Yes, Sosha, they will. They must! Our dream of revolution at last has a hope of succeeding. Come, we must speak to this priest.”

The two outlanders crept silently after Spock and McCoy.


“We come from the far north, seeking employment. The winter was hard and there are no wars in our homeland.” Kirk had brazened his way through the questioning he and Sulu had received upon approaching the soldiers in Liswell. His military training had allowed him, without too much trouble, to convince them that he and Sulu were, indeed, mercenaries who knew their business. Sulu had been quiet. Not that the young man couldn’t’ve held his own, Kirk knew. He was simply understandably preoccupied and wanted only to get the preliminaries out of the way. They were now relaxing at an outdoor cafe, drinking sparingly from tall mugs of strong ale.

“Any women to be found here?” Sulu asked. One of the soldiers laughed.

“What are your tastes, man? With the outlander bitches we’ve got anything your body might desire.”

“Small, pale, young,” Sulu replied. “I like my bedwarmers fresh.”

An adequate description of Jilla Majiir, Jim thought. At least for our purposes here.

“You’re in luck,” the soldier said, sitting forward. “There’s a new one over at the inn. Not a maiden, but fresh enough.”

“A pretty thing she is, too,” another soldier chimed in. Jim felt Sulu bristle. “And good at what she does,” he added with a creditable leer. Jim unobtrusively nudged the helmsman’s arm. It had been reaching for a dagger.

“Come, Sulu,” he said as he stood from his chair. “Let’s go see about this wench.” He winked at the soldiers. “The winter was a long one as well.” Appreciative, knowing laughter followed them as he and Sulu left the café.

“Captain, if anyone has hurt her…” Sulu began.

“Calm down, Lieutenant, we don’t even know it’s one of our officers, much less that it’s Mrs. Majiir,” Kirk returned.

Sulu scowled. “I can’t help it, sir.”

“I know. Do your best,” Kirk sympathized. They sauntered across the dusty street to the stone building that had been identified as the inn. A tall, nervous-looking man came quickly up to them, wiping his hands on his dirty apron.

“Your pleasure, m’lords?” he asked with a small bow.

“Women!” Kirk bellowed.

“Ah yes, of course,” the innkeeper fawned. “I’m sure one of my girls will be happy to…”

“I heard of a young girl you just acquired,” Sulu broke in. “Small, pale?”

“Yes, yes, of course, sir,” the innkeeper replied. “She has a strange way about her, but not so’s a man’d mind. She’s been in some demand. She’s with a customer now, I think…”

Sulu tore his money pouch from his belt. “I want her,” he snapped. “Now.”

The man stared at the gold pieces that Sulu spilled into his hand.

“Yes, sire, right away sire!” His fist closed around the coins and he rushed off.

“Aren’t you being a little hasty, Lieutenant?” Kirk asked.

“It’s my affair, Captain,” Sulu muttered tightly.

Jim sighed. He could, after all, understand Sulu’s reaction, and their mission was getting accomplished. They’d get some information whether or not the girl in question was Mrs. Majiir. He sat down at one of the tables.

The innkeeper returned quickly, dragging a young woman by one arm. She’d been obviously hastily wrapped in a coarse blanket, her eyes wide and frightened. Her light brown hair was in disarray, her bare feet stumbling on the stone floor. Jim closed his eyes. Not Jilla Majiir, but a stroke of luck just the same. Monique DuBois. Sulu turned abruptly away and Jim quickly rose, stepping forward. "I’ll take this one,” he stated.

”Your companion has already…” the innkeeper began.

“Take her,” Sulu interrupted

Jim smiled, quite a menacing smile for all its boyish charm, and the innkeeper shoved Monique to him, backing quickly away.

“I have a room available, sire,” he managed, “for only another…”

“You’ve been paid, and handsomely,” Sulu snarled.

“Yes, sire, of course, sire, forgive me, sire,” the man stammered, and gestured to a small, curtained-off room beside the long bar. Jim put his arm around Monique’s shoulders, moving toward the curtain. He heard Sulu’s voice call hoarsely for ale.

Inside the small room, Monique dropped the blanket, waiting his pleasure. Jim stepped forward, snatching it up, throwing it hastily around her. “Ensign DuBois,” he said, quietly, yet fiercely. Her eyes widened, pain replacing the fear. He grabbed her shoulders. “Ensign!” She gasped and tried to pull away from his grip. His eyes searched her face. “Don’t you know who I am?”

Her gaze flickered uncertainly, her struggles momentarily ceasing.

“Ensign, I'm your captain, Captain James T. Kirk,” Jim murmured. She sobbed. Something was wrong, desperately wrong. “From the Enterprise,” he added, watching her closely. To his utter surprise, she slumped to her knees, crying out, her hands coming to the sides of her head. Jim knelt beside her, pulling her into a protective embrace. “It’s alright, I’ll get you back to the ship…” Her shriek was muffled against his chest. “Ensign, what is it?” he tried helplessly. “Miss DuBois? Monique!?”

She screamed and began struggling in his arms, her hands clawing feverishly at him. Swearing under his breath, he managed to pull out his communicator. “Kirk to Enterprise,” he said and her cries increased. “Scotty, two to beam up, fast.”


Silver woke with a start. Tomlan lay next to her, one arm thrown casually across her waist. She had dreamt again of the dark man, of pain and cold and hunger. She shivered and moved closer to the warmth of the body that lay next to hers on the straw pallet. She shouldn’t, she knew that much, though the why of it escaped her, but she was cold and frightened.

Tomlan stirred. “Silver?” he mumbled.

She feigned a sleeping sound and he sighed and drew his arms tightly around her. His breathing was soon deep and even, but Silver lay awake, staring at the stars.

She didn’t know who the dark man was, or how she had come to this place. Dimly she sensed – something. An urgency to return to… somewhere? No, someone? It wouldn’t come clear. She idly fingered the strange patch on what was left of the tunic; the far-too-short lower edge had been covered with one of Leaan’s old skirts. Leaan called the patch coiled lightning, but didn’t know what it meant any more than Silver did herself. It seemed like it must have meaning, a badge or identification of some sort. Leaan wanted her to discard it simply because it was so unusual. And if it isn’t an identification, it can certainly be used to identify you¸ Leaan had argued. But while Silver conceded the obvious, she couldn’t bring herself to remove it. Why? What is it? Who am I?

Her head began pounding, as it always did when she thought too much. Another why. Why did it hurt so much? Why wouldn’t he leave her alone…

“Who are you?”
Pain filled her mind, blocking out the answer.
“Who are you?”
More pain and an unbearable brightness behind her eyes.
“Who are you?”
She screamed, unable to bear the steel fingers that pierced her mind. The voice went on, shadowy and thin through the agony.
“No stimulus was applied, Commander.”
“Good, good. I believe the conditioning is complete.”

Her memory shied away from the second voice, that of the dark man, awful and terrifying. The hand, striking her face, grasping her body, the cruel smile, the laughter, the rough, harsh caresses… stop, please…. Stop! Help me… help me….


She opened her eyes, her heart beating furiously against her chest. The night was silent. No cry echoed from the stones of the grotto. Tomlan still slept peacefully. Neither Leaan nor Crona stirred on their beds of straw. Silver shivered, cradling her left hand against her breasts, trying to breathe deeply to calm herself. The word had only been in her mind, the strange, strong, warm word that took the face of the dark man away.


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