Sweet Fire

original story by C Petterson and S Sizemore
rewritten by Cheryl Petterson

(Standard Year 2247)

Return to Part One

Go to Part Three

Return to Valjiir Stories

Return to Valjiir Continum


It was McCoy himself who brought up the subject of Captain Kirk as soon as Spock entered the Sickbay. “Take off your tunic and lay down,” were actually his first words. His next were, “Quarterly physical,” in terse explanation to Spock’s look of inquiry.

“I do not have time right now, Doctor,” Spock began.

“That’s what Jim said,” McCoy complained.

“Indeed?” Spock returned, his eyebrow rising.

“And what he’s got to keep him so busy I can’t for the life of me figure out,” McCoy continued. “We’ve been in orbit for two solid weeks. I've got quarter reports to make to my superiors, too.”

“Doctor, does that not strike you as strange?” Spock asked.

“I suppose this is as good a way as any of stalling, but yes, it did, and I told him so.”

“What was his reaction?”

“He grinned and told me to tell it to the Havens.” McCoy took a breath. “Now why do you ask?”

“Have you noticed any other – peculiarities – in the Captain’s behavior?”

“No, none that I can think of, and given Jim’s answer, I wouldn’t consider that particularly peculiar. What are you gettin’ at, Spock?”

“That in the Captain’s case, a physical and mental examination is overdue and necessary,” Spock responded. “Although there is nothing specific that I can officially report as abnormal behavior, I know his behavior to be so.”

“A feeling, Spock?”

“Observation, Doctor.”

McCoy sighed. “All right, I’ll insist on having a look at him. As soon as I’m finished with you,” he added, pointing to the diagnostic table.

To avoid any further discussion and insure McCoy’s cooperation, Spock allowed the doctor a small victory and did as he’d been told.


The Captain responded to Dr. McCoy’s insistence, and the first thing he said upon entering Sickbay was, “This is under protest, Doctor.”

McCoy scowled good-naturedly to Kirk’s grin. “Complain to your First Officer, Jim. He thinks you’re actin’ peculiarly.”

“Does he?” Kirk’s tone was suddenly concerned. “Did he say why?”

“No, but you know Spock. He wouldn’t admit to a feeling if his life depended on it.” McCoy studied the sudden thoughtfulness on Kirk’s face. “Something I should know about?”

Kirk paced worriedly. “I don’t know. If you’d asked me, I would have commented on his acting peculiar. He’s under a lot of pressure, from Division and from Headquarters. As Exec, he’s got to opt for going with the Haven situation, but as a scientist – Shas is important, but how do you convince Fleet of that?” He faced McCoy. “I’m sure that’s all it is, pressure.”

“If you ask me, one of you’s paranoid,” McCoy commented.

Kirk laughed. “Well, it’s not me. And I’ve got enough on my mind to have to start worrying about a nervous Exec. Keep an eye on him for me, will you, Doc? Maybe if we don’t go to war with the Havens we can talk him into taking some real leave time.” He grinned. “More than just you following him around and making sure he doesn’t spend all his time at a computer terminal.” McCoy chuckled, and Kirk’s grin faded. “I think he really needs it.”

“And you need a quarterly physical, so come over here, take off your shirt and lay down,” McCoy rejoined.


“Medical order. Now that I’ve got you, I’m not wasting the opportunity.”


As was his custom, Spock ate breakfast in his quarters. He was on duty promptly, relieving a weary Ramon Ordona from the Bridge. Kirk came on a few minutes later, nodding an easy greeting. Spock returned it stiffly. He checked ship’s statistics and the functioning of his department, then turned to the reports from Shas. Linguistics had a detailed dissection of the ancient language, and as Spock swiftly absorbed the information, he began to see parallels to his own native tongue and to other conceptual, ideographic languages. He called upon the computer banks for additional information, fascinated by the corollaries he found. It led him to further insights, and that to the theory of galactic seeding. From there he branched into philosophy, comparative and analytical. The knowledge sparkled before him and he followed its call, exhilarated by the pleasure of pure reasoning, learning for learning’s sake. It was a joy that had long eluded him, that of only rationale, only logic. Had he succeeded in excising his Human devils of emotion at last? That thought, too, was exhilarating, and he pursued more fervently the path of knowledge.


At the change of watch, Kirk motioned to the officer who came to replace Spock.

“Leave him, he’s on to something,” he said quietly. “I’ll note your Bridge duty as logged.”

And Kirk smiled at the Vulcan who noticed no one and nothing but his screen.


Ruth drummed her fingers on the hood of the viewer. She’d been waiting five minutes for Spock to acknowledge her presence since her polite, “Relief, sir,” “End of watch, Mr. Spock,” and “Hey, Boss!” had gotten her nowhere. Finally, she tapped his shoulder, knowing he didn’t like to be touched but wearying of playing shadow. He glanced up, obviously distracted.

“My turn,” she said.

He blinked. “I beg your pardon?”

“You’ve been here for two full watches,” she clarified. “Sixteen straight hours. My turn.”

He blinked again. “Have I?”

Ruth took a deep breath. What’s the matter, Boss, she thought, space happy? “Yes. I really do need the Bridge hours logged, so if you don’t mind…”

Spock stared at her for what seemed like too long a time to be a refusal. “You have,” he said at last, in a voice close to awe, “the most fascinating eyes, Miss Valley.”

It was her turn to blink, and she tried very hard not to blush. “Mr. Spock, I think you should go home, have some food, get some rest. You haven’t moved from this station all day.”

“I am not weary, nor am I hungry,” Spock insisted.

“It is my watch,” Ruth insisted. He looked momentarily confused, then got up.

“Of course, Miss Valley. My apologies.” Ruth shook her head as he left the Bridge. Everyone’s entitled to go a little twitchy every once in a while, she reminded herself, even Vulcans. She cleared the screen and spoke soothingly to the undoubtedly overworked computer. “There, there, mommy’s here. Daddy just went a little overboard.”


Spock entered his quarters, still amazed at the amount of time he had spent on the Bridge. Or had been told he’d spent. It had seemed only a few hours at most, four or five, perhaps, if he were to stretch it. What had happened to his usually excellent time sense? Be'hra'nah? Had he achieved that state of oneness with pure logic, pure reason? It was the only explanation – or was it? If he had pride in the attainment, surely not. It would be best not to think of it.

He paced his rooms. He was not tired. Or hungry. Yet if it had been sixteen hours, and he could not doubt his assistant’s word, he should have some nourishment. He called up some fresh fruit and ate it while activating the computer annex in his quarters. There was no reason to drop his studying simply because he was no longer on duty. On duty. His thoughts turned to Ruth and her incredible eyes. He had known their color, their size, their beauty, their intelligence, but he had not before seenviolet sparks of life coming from depths of velvet beauty, shimmering before him, pieces of light caught as in an amethyst laser, reflected and refracted into sparkling purple wonder…exquisite. Jewels indeed. I should like to catalogue those eyes. Catalogue. Yes.

He returned to the reports from Shas and was soon caught in the glorious feel of knowledge as it flashed its light into his mind.


“You know,” Ruth commented as she and Jilla worked in the engineering lab, “if this works, the dylithium market is going to go through the roof.”

“Through the roof?” Jilla asked without looking up from the schematic she was studying.

“It means the demand for dylithium, and therefore the price, will skyrocket,” Ruth explained cheerfully.

“Skyrocket?” Jilla returned.

“It’s a Terran euphemism for something that goes up very fast, like a rocket does in the sky.” When Jilla glanced up at her, eyebrow rising, Ruth sighed. “Never mind.”

“I never do,” Jilla replied, her grey eyes sparkling.

Ruth stuck out her tongue. A Vulcanized Indiian could be very exasperating.

“And,” Jilla continued, “you said if . There is no question that warp shuttlecraft will work.”

“Sorry, I meant ‘when,’” Ruth returned contritely. “I wish we had more time to work on it, though.”

“If that is so, why have you decided to use valuable free time for relaxation with Dr. M’Benga?” Jilla asked.

“You mean tonight?” Ruth said. “Well, everyone needs a night off occasionally. I’ve been working awfully hard what with Spock being a workaholic – “

“Still?” Jilla interrupted.

Ruth nodded. “Going on ninety-six hours now. And he seems to think I should be available any hour of the day or night to discuss these oh-so-fascinating tangents he’s been going off on and get all my regular work done. Anyway, I can use the rest even if he can’t and – “

“I fail to see why you complain of lack of free time, then excuse the very action that causes that lack,” Jilla broke in.

“So I’m illogical.”


Ruth made another face, then grinned at Jilla’s faint, tolerant answering smile. “Why don’t you go relax too?” she suggested, remembering her conversations with Sulu regarding Jilla's lack of attention to his attentions.

“I am logical,” Jilla replied. “This design needs perfecting.”

“So does your relationship with a certain helmsman,” Ruth offered, knowing she wasn’t being at all subtle. But then, what are friends for? As expected, Jilla stiffened.

“I saw him for lunch today,” she defended. “He knows how busy I am.”

“He knows how busy you keep ,” Ruth corrected. “It’s been – what? – nearly three weeks since you spent any real time with him.”

“Real time meaning what?” Jilla snapped.

Back off, Ruth told herself. “I mean recreation; swimming, chess, something other than you working and him reading.” She shrugged. “But you know best, I guess.”

As she hoped, Jilla softened. “Not always,” she murmured, and Ruth nodded. Her roommate would think about what she’d said now.

“Well, I’m off,” she said. “See you later.”

“Good evening, Ruth.”

Shalom, Jilla.”


Spock started as the hiss of the turbolift door distracted him. Yeoman Rand was stepping onto the Bridge with coffee. So early? He glanced at the chronometer. No, not early. It was almost second watch. He had again lost track of the time. He turned his attention back to the viewer, but he couldn’t seem to refocus his attention. His concentration was slipping most annoyingly. He reflected that it had begun occurring with increasing frequency and wondered if perhaps there were some medical reason. Perhaps some vitamin or mineral deficiency in his diet, for he regained his clarity after meals. But he had made no change in his diet card. An illness then, a need for additional nourishment. And in such a case, food will help now. The thought that he should inform Dr. McCoy was superceded as he motioned for Janice Rand’s attention. She came towards him with brisk efficiency.

“Yes, Mr. Spock?”

“Yeoman, if you would be so kind as to perform a small service – “ Spock began, then abruptly forgot what he was saying.

“Yes, sir?” Rand prompted. He stared at her, then shook his head.

“Never mind, Yeoman.”

Rand raised her eyebrows. “Yes, sir,” she said, and turned and Spock remembered.

“Food,” he said, and felt color rising to his cheeks as she turned back in surprise. “I would like something to eat, Miss Rand, if you would.”

She smiled a little uneasily. “Certainly. Mr. Spock. Right away.”

He closed his eyes as she left, the Bridge noise he had not previously noticed beginning to jar him. Brusquely he cleared his mind and returned to the computer screen, concentrating all his thoughts on continuing his research.


“Yeoman, is Spock all right?”

At the Captain’s voice, Janice turned from handing Spock a small tray of fruits and vegetables. Kirk’s face was concerned and she stepped close to the con before answering.

“I think so, sir. He was just hungry, I guess.”

Kirk glanced over her shoulder at the Science Station. “He hasn’t taken a break all day. Why didn’t he just go to the mess?”

Janice was startled by the question, then realized that the Captain was talking mostly to himself. “He’s been absorbed in this research, whatever it is, for five days,” she offered.

“Yes,” Kirk said thoughtfully. “That must be it.” He straightened. “Thank you, Yeoman.”

Janice smiled. “You’re welcome, sir.”


Five days, Kirk mused. It’s certainly enough time. He glanced again at Spock. That food won’t help you, my friend. Go home, eat there. It was very fortunate for me that you usually take your meals alone. One more meal, dinner this evening – maybe breakfast tomorrow as well. Then… Yes. I think it’s time.

How can you do this to him!

Kirk was startled at the agonized voice. Jim had been so docile, so quiet that he had been certain final synthesis was only a matter of a few more days. To find identity so strong, resistance still so powerful… How is this possible?

I want to live, Jim replied tightly.

Kirk frowned. It is much too late for that. Too late for you, too late for your dear friend. I will win.


Jilla punched in the last instructions on the engineering computer terminal. They would program the design modifications into the schematics already in memory and give her a read-out on the viability of those modifications. She gently rubbed her fingers. She had cramps in her hand from spending all day with her drafting board, but if the new specs worked, it would all be worth it.

She felt someone standing behind her and, absorbed as she was in her work, assumed it was Scott. “I will be out of your way in a moment,” she said. “The computer is putting the results out now, and I did promise dinner to Mr. Sulu.”

“I was beginning to think you’d forgotten,” Sulu’s voice said softly in her ear. The sound sent emotion-charged tingles through her and she whirled, feeling her skin growing warm. He was standing very close to her and she unconsciously shrunk back against the terminal, hitting a button, jamming the computer’s read-out. She pivoted back to the annex, her emotion altering to anger.

Cata tu Roshian!” she snapped as her fist came down on the board. Sulu backed away.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you,” he said. Jilla spun around a third time.

“No, it is not you, I meant – “ she began, then caught her breath and softened her voice. “The computer, my own clumsiness.” Her voice faded as she lowered her eyes. She could feel the angry regret that formed in Sulu’s tia. Indiians did not lie, but she had evaded the truth by mislabeling it. Her profanity had not been for her ‘clumsiness’, but for the strong reactions he provoked, the overwhelming desire he incited within her – and her inevitable, hopeless reaction to and rejection of those feelings. She glanced at him, saw his eyes were lowered – no, not lowered, simply fixed on her left hand that was still clenched in a fist. Clenched to hide – or to protect? – the dark scar on her palm, the scar that was the physical symbol of her marriage vows. Pain replaced the anger in him, and she whispered, “I am sorry.”

He nodded. “I’ll see you in the messhall, okay, hon?”

She forced a smile. “All right.”

He turned and, after a pause, said, “We can work it out, Jilla.”

Can we? she wondered after he had gone. How?


Miss Valley, excuses are not what I asked for!

Ruth blinked and took a step away from the Science Station, startled by the emotion in Spock’s voice. She hadn’t offered an excuse. She had merely given him the facts. Off duty, or off the Bridge, she might have answered him angrily. Instead she said, “Every science lab is working at maximum efficiency, sir.”

“Hardly,” was his cold answer. He seemed to forget her presence as he turned back to this board.

Ruth glared at his back, then returned to the auxiliary computer station. Her life was being made progressively more difficult by the Chief of Sciences. She felt overworked, picked-on and generally annoyed.

For the previous seven days, Spock had been working feverishly; he never seemed to tire or stop. He had taken to working the watch around, which, for a Vulcan, was sometimes to be expected. And when it happened, it gave breathing space to his mostly Human staff. But since yesterday afternoon, he seemed to tire all too easily, becoming irritable and demanding, and tending to ignore what was said to him, which was creating some difficulty for her as his assistant and go-between for the Science Department. And it had been getting worse all day. He must have done something Human, she told herself, and now he’s being more Vulcan than usual to make up for it.

More Vulcan? Do Vulcans show annoyance? Impatience? Not that I can recall. If anything, he’s acting more Human than normal, and a bad-tempered Human at that. I wish he’d make up his mind to be one or the other – or give in and be both. It would make him easier to get along with.

Perhaps it was the near-war situation. It had them all tense. Maybe all this hyperactivity was his way of coping with the stress. Well, calm down, Boss, before you drive us all twitchy.

During a normal watch, Ruth could’ve expected help with her own work. There would’ve been an occasional comment or suggestion, or a “you will note, Miss Valley…” accompanied by explanation of or instruction in something which she found unfamiliar. But for five of the the past seven days, the Chief of Sciences had been caught up in his own work, ignoring his assistant's duty schedule and need for rest or food, calling her at any hour of the day or night. For the last two, however, there had been no words between them but curt orders and increasingly curt replies. And how, he’d actually yelled at her.

She spent the next hour preparing an assortment of section and daily reports that needed the Captain’s signature. They were finished by the time Kirk took his place in the con. She picked up the statboard and approached the Captain, handing the board to him. He looked at her briefly, then glanced up at the Science Station where Spock worked, oblivious to anything but his screen. Kirk gave a slight, almost imperceptible nod, then signed the reports. He then began to make his daily log entry.

Since both Kirk and Spock were occupied, Ruth felt she was safe in attempting a bit of casual conversation with her latest ardent admirer. Lieutenant Kevin Riley was occupying the Navigation Station, and Ruth stopped there on her way back to her own post. She had offered Riley little encouragement, but right now, she felt in need of some appreciation.

“Good morning,” she said, smiling at Riley, who looked very pleased at the attention. Sulu looked over and she included him in the greeting. “You too, Roy.” Sulu grinned and turned back to his board.

“Mornin’ darlin’,” Riley replied, turning on as much Irish charm as he possessed – which, Ruth had to admit, was considerable. “Are you lonely up there?”

Ruth leaned slightly on the console. “I’m hungry for company, but I can’t think of the words,” she sang softly, the words from one of the Valley Collection’s songs. ( To hear the song, click here)

Riley began to laugh, but an icy voice said, “Lieutenant Valley.”

Spock was suddenly looming behind her. She turned, blushing, as if she’d been caught doing something wrong. “You are away from your post,” he reminded her coldly.

Her embarrassment made her tone of voice angry. “Yes, sir. With reason, sir.” She held up her statboard.

“I was unaware Lieutenant Riley’s signature was necessary to the science reports,” the First Officer snapped. Ruth blinked. “And your feigned innocence has no effect on me,” he continued. “You will return to your post immediately, and this incident will be logged in…”

“Spock, she was just…” Kirk broke in gently.

“Is the functioning of the Science Department still under my control, Captain?” Spock said without looking at the con. Again, Ruth blinked, and saw Kevin and Sulu exchanging startled glances. She had never heard Spock speak to the Captain that way. Apparently, neither had they.

“Well, of course it is, Spock, but a little…”

“Then I would ask you to leave its discipline to me,” Spock stated brusquely. “Sir.”

“Certainly, Mr. Spock – when discipline is warranted,” Kirk returned, a little brusque himself.

“Thank you, Captain,” Ruth murmured. Kirk nodded to her, and as she turned to return to her station, she could have sworn she saw Spock glare at him.


Sulu had waited outside Engineering for thirty minutes after his duty shift was over. Finally he asked Scotty where Jilla was.

“She’s workin’ in her quarters, lad,” Scotty replied. “Did she not tell ya?”

“No, Scotty, she didn’t,” Sulu scowled. “Thanks.”

“Are ya havin’ troubles with the lass?” the Chief Engineer asked, his brown eyes full of concern.

Sulu bit his tongue. “Only in finding time,” he said as easily as he could.

“The warp shuttles are an important break-through,” Scott tried to explain, and Sulu cut him off.

“I know. It’s no more than an unfortunate concurrence. I’ve got too much spare time and she doesn’t have enough.” He shrugged.

“I’ll try to encourage her to take a little more personal time,” Scott offered, then grinned. “Will that help ya some?”

“Every little bit helps,” Sulu grinned back. "Thanks Scotty.”

The smile faded as soon as he was in the turbolift to Deck Four. She didn’t tell me, he thought angrily.

So what, you had duty all day.

I could’ve had lunch with her, I wouldn’t’ve wasted the last half hour…

Like she would’ve said more than two words to you anyway.

At least I would’ve been able to be near her, see her, smell…

Jesus fucking Christ you’ve got it bad! Smell her?

I soothes me, he told himself defensively.

Like the scent on your pillow soothed you, lunatic-who-raced-a-tapestry-on-venus?

Shut up.

He hit the door chime to her quarters, and waited for a response. Then he hit it again. At the third signal, the door finally opened with an irritated, “come!”

He had intended to be upbeat and casual, to ask if she wanted to have dinner with him. Instead, he growled, “Why didn’t you tell me you were working here today?”

Jilla did not look up from her drafting table. She was obviously annoyed at something, and his emotions didn’t help her mood. “I need not clear my schedule with you,” she nearly snapped.

“I didn’t ask you to.”

“Then why is it so important that I forgot to tell you where I would be today?” she blazed.

“Maybe because I’d like to spend a little time with you?” he blazed back. “Maybe because I happen to love you?”

“I was working all day, I would not have had any time to…”

“Even fucking look at me?” he broke in harshly.

She did, and though her eyes were dark and angry, there was fear shot all through them. “The warp project is of vital importance to the Federation and to Starfleet…” she began.

“I know that, I’ve only heard it a thousand times,” Sulu countered. He took a deep breath, rubbing his hands over his face. “Jilla, honey, I do know how important it is. I just want to know whether or not I’m important too.”

She stared at him for a long time. Finally, she lowered her head. “Sulu, why do you…”

“Because I love you!” he returned desperately. “I need you, I need to be with you! Do you think I want to hound you like this? I try not to, Jilla, I do, but you’re all I think about. And if I can’t have what I really want – what we really want - I’ll take whatever I can fucking get! Jesus, can’t you at least give me something? At least say it, admit it?”

“Do you not understand how hard it is for me?” she replied, her voice shaking. “Your ‘something’ can only lead inevitably to… and so I cannot, I dare not…”

“Don’t you trust me?” Sulu pleaded.

She glanced away. “I do not trust us.”

Sulu stared at her, knowing his anguish was beating at her resolve, and it only added to his pain. He took an awkward step forward, desperate to comfort her, to soothe her with promises of respect and understanding and restraint – and the door to the cabin burst open.


At the end of her watch, Ruth worked an extra hour on the Shas reports, noting with some irritation that Spock left promptly. She was fuming by the time she took the turbolift to Deck Four and stormed into her quarters.

“That man is driving me to - !” she began, then stopped as two pairs of eyes stared up at her, Jilla’s grey and dark, Asian – “ – oh hell, sorry,” she finished ruefully.

“Sorry?” Jilla asked.

Ruth felt her face coloring and she glanced at Sulu apologetically. “For interrupting.”

“Interrupting what?” Sulu said, with more than a hint of weary bitterness. “I was just leaving.”

“Don’t go on my account,” Ruth said quickly.

“No,” he replied, “not on your account. See you later, Jilla?”

“Perhaps,” Jilla said, her head lowered.

“Okay. Bye, Ruth.”

“Now what’s with…” Ruth began as the door closed behind him.

“Nothing,” Jilla snapped. “Nothing I care to discuss,” she amended quickly as Ruth opened her mouth. Ruth closed it again. “You were complaining about Mr. Spock?”

“Do I ever complain about anyone else? No, don’t answer that.”

“Very well,” Jilla sighed. Ruth started pulling off her uniform. “What are you doing?”

She finished undressing before answering. “I’m going to take a nice, cold shower then fall into bed – to sleep, for once.”

“The specifica…”

“Jilla please! He’s driving me out of my mind! I’m exhausted!”

“I thought he was being a workaholic,” Jilla commented.

"He’s switched tactics.”

“I beg your – “

“I know, never mind, you never do.” Ruth ended the conversation by leaving the room. “And the first thing I’m going to do when I wake up," she called from the bathroom, “is ask Bwana to make him lay off!”


Spock had not expected there to be a briefing. The call woke him and he should not have been sleeping. He rose stiffly, shaking his head. He would have to see McCoy. Food no longer helped his condition. The doctor would, of course, make what he assumed would be humorous remarks about his needing a physician - and Spock frowned in disgust at the thought. It reminded him too sharply of Vulcan healers who never forgot a five-year-old’s practical joke.

He splashed cold water on his face, then realized his hands were unsteady. Ill, he told himself, and the thought sparked another. Illness. McCoy. He had asked McCoy to check on the Captain – how many days ago? McCoy hadn’t reported. Had he asked? He could not remember. Why had he – Kirk. The imposter. I have done nothing about my suspicions. Why? Preoccupied. But, my Fathers, how could I have been? If I am correct, how can I have neglected my duty, my loyalty to Jim Kirk? What have I been doing?

He went to the briefing determined to keep his mind alert and on the Captain who was not Kirk. And he would speak to McCoy immediately after.


Sulu entered the briefing room fairly certain what the meeting would be about. The Havens must have acted. Security had been drilling for a war alert for weeks. They were ready, he knew, but the rest of the ship wouldn’t be happy about it. Not that he was, but Security Chiefs had to accept these things better than other officers. Goodbye, Shas, he thought glumly. Goodbye what little time not earmarked for warp shuttles Jilla has. He grimaced at his choice of words: earmarked. Pointed, delicate, silver earmarked. He swore under his breath as sudden, very physical longing shot through him. The Havens, Sulu, the war. Think about that. Yeah, think about going to war with people who were your friends. Gage, Loki, Tomor… Why couldn’t it be the Klingons? And why over something as stupid as trading rights? Of course, it was the Havens’ fault. They were the ones insisting that trading drugs that were illegal by Federation law in the Federation didn’t make the trading itself illegal. It was a ridiculous point of semantics, but Havens could get rigid at the strangest times. They wouldn’t stop trading, the Federation wouldn’t stop prosecuting – so it had come to war.

All of it was brought out during the meeting. Kirk had received word that the Havens were loading a trader with weapons and sending it into Federation space. It was a direct dare to Fleet to try and stop them. Sulu sighed. No choice. They’re cutting their own throats. He made his report: The Enterprise was battle ready. Then he turned for Spock’s confirmation of that status.

He had expected calm logic, an efficient stream of statistics, then an equally persuasive denunciation of war as a solution to any problem. It shocked him to hear instead a snapped, “This ship is ready for an unnecessary war, but it is hardly the preferred course of action, whatever Starfleet Command may think.”

Kirk seemed as shocked as Sulu. “No one wants war, Spock. You were notified weeks ago that this might…”

“Notified, yes – “ Was there a pause? “- Captain. I did not then nor do I now approve. However, I am not in command.”

That’s for sure, Sulu thought. First the scene on the Bridge, and now this? Not that he couldn’t understand Spock’s adverse reaction – at least about this. The pulls of First and Science Officer were often at odds, and with the importance of the Shas excavation weighing against the potential for disaster with the Havens… and add to that Spock’s own abhorrence of violence, any man could feel torn apart. What was good for Federation Sciences wasn’t always what was good for Fleet. And maybe that explained his yelling at Ruth on the Bridge as well.

Sulu glanced sympathetically at Spock, and neither expected nor received any acknowledgement. Kirk gave orders to wrap up the excavation on Shas within six hours, and secure the ship for warp. Fleet would call the Havens’ bluff.


Kirk waited until the other officers had left the briefing room. “Mr. Spock,” he said, “I’d like to talk to you, if you have a moment.”

His voice hadn’t been loud, not to McCoy anyway, so the doctor was more than startled when Spock physically started and whirled from the closing door.

“Yes,” he said, and there was the same, unnerving pause McCoy had noticed before, “- Captain?”

Kirk remained seated, his voice calm and friendly. “Don’t you think you’ve been working your section a little harder than is necessary?”

Spock tensed, again visibly, his tone obviously offended. “Considering the situation with the Havens and the importance of securing all information from Shas before war broke out, no.”

Testy, aren’t we, Spock? McCoy thought. Kirk leaned back in his chair, a half-apologetic smile on his face.

“Spock, it was Lieutenant Valley who brought this to my attention. She’s not exactly the type to complain about hard work unless she’s really being run ragged. The girl’s almost as compulsive a worker as you are. And if she's feeling overworked…”

McCoy’s mouth opened slightly in surprise as Spock openly frowned , the hooded eyes becoming dark, his answer an undisguised snarl. “Lieutenant Valley is getting lazy.”

“Bite his head off why don’t you, Spock,” McCoy grumbled. Spock slowly faced him.

“Your opinion was not called for, Doctor.”

McCoy bristled. “Now look here, you pointy-eared – “ His words stopped, frozen in his throat by the murderous glare Spock flashed at him. In is memory he heard, I don't like that, I don't think I ever did. Now I'm sure. Kirk stood.

“Gentlemen…” he began.

“Captain,” Spock interrupted, his voice an odd inflection on that word, “Doctor, as long as the Science Section of this ship is running efficiently, you should have no interest or influence in the specifics of its functions.”

McCoy almost grinned, expecting one hell of a retort from Jim. But Kirk backed down.

“Well, of course not, Spock,” he said. “Lieutenant Valley asked me to speak to you. As the Captain, I felt it was my duty to honor her request.”

McCoy watched as Spock bristled. “Will that be all?” he snapped.

Kirk sighed. “Yes, Spock, go on.”

As Spock left the room, McCoy turned to Kirk. “Jim, are you gonna let him get away with talkin’ to you like that?”

Kirk’s response was kind and full of understanding. “He’s on edge, Doctor. I’m sure that’s all it is.”


Ruth inserted another tape in the scanner, mumbling to herself. She’d been mumbling louder each hour for the last three. Her work was done. Spock’s hadn’t even been started yet and she was annoyed at having to do it for him. Well, at the fact that there’s this small, nagging voice in the back of my head that keeps telling me I have to, she growled at that small, nagging voice.

Normally, you wouldn’t mind, it reminded her.

Normally, I wouldn’t be doing it, she replied dismally. Where the hell is that pointy-eared son-of-a-bitch anyway?

You sound like McCoy, you know.

She ignored the comment. Another tape, another report…

Why are you doing this? He won’t appreciate it. He’ll only glare at you and ask why it wasn’t done yesterday. Leave it. It’s his neck…

“Miss Valley,” the wintry voice said behind her.

“I knew it,” she muttered, and slammed the data tape to the console, turning with no little ice of her own. “What the hell do you want!” she snarled. She regretted it as soon as she saw the cold fury in his eyes, but it was too late to take it back. She matched his stare with one of defiance.

“What I want is of very little importance to you,” he said, his tone quiet but deadly. “That much is perfectly clear. What you want is the subject on which you and I will speak.” Spock loomed over her, looking horribly dangerous.

She swallowed hard. Why was she so dizzy? Antaris didn’t faint. And Vulcans were pacifists.

“It would be best put succinctly,” Spock continued. “My position on this ship.”

It was such a ridiculous statement that Ruth found herself controlling a snort of amusement. “Me? Want your job? Listen, mister, I’ve been doing it the last couple of days. No way.”

“I have noticed your diligence, Lieutenant. I have been noticing it since the day you came on board and spent six months proving how invaluable you were.”

“You’re not planning on thanking me, are you?” she retorted, masking the ugly fear that was welling up inside her.

“Thank you?” Spock said, soft malevolence. “I suppose I should. I’m sure Mrs. Majiir has. Your ingenuity at least deserves commendation.”

“My ingenuity…?” Ruth managed.

“Your manipulations of us both when she first came on board,” he replied. “Proving at that time not only that you were essential to this ship, but that I was not.”

Something very frightening in his dark, icy eyes stifled the protest she was about to make.

“I have seen it, Miss Valley, the manner in which you ingratiated yourself with senior officers so they would not see your intentions; or if they did, abhor themselves for suspecting dear, innocent Ruth. And by the time your enchantments no longer held them, it would be too late. I myself was duped into aiding your entrapment of Dr. McCoy.”

“Mr. Spock, I…” Ruth stammered, “you can’t believe I…”

Be silent.” It was a quiet command, but the menace was worse than if he had shouted it. “I have tolerated this. I will do so no longer. I will not be replaced by you, nor used by you, nor made a fool of by you.” Spock’s eyes bored into her and she realized her back was pressed against the console and her throat was very, very dry. His hand lightly touched her throat, the long fingers curling ever so slightly about her neck. The color drained from her face. “You will alter your manner, your attitude, and your ambitions, Miss Valley,” he hissed, “or I will surely break your neck.”

Ruth’s mouth opened, but no sound escaped her. Her lungs felt as though she were screaming and the pounding of her heart filled her ears. Her mind kept repeating that Spock was Vulcan, but her body was certain he going to kill her. She heard a noise, very faint and parsecs away, the sound of a door opening. Spock’s head turned and without any conscious decision, Ruth ducked under his arm and raced from the lab, ignoring Ensign Carter’s exclamation of surprise.


Spock slumped against the door to his quarters as it slid shut behind him. A trembling hand came up to rub lightly at his temples. He stopped, staring at it. It seemed his hands had been unsteady for a very long time. He mind was racing, his thoughts jumbled, tumbling over one another in chaotic confusion. He forced himself to slow down, to think coherently, one thought at a time. The effort was enormous.

He sat heavily at his desk. What was wrong with him? Why had he spoken so harshly to Ruth Valley? Even now, a voice raged inside him, raving that the Antari was manipulating him and had been since beaming aboard. Strike first! it screamed. Do not be used for her ambitions!

Strike first? The realization horrified him. He silently repeated words of calm and meditation. His mind tore at them and scattered them, shrieking, mumbling. The fear of madness crept inexorably into his thoughts.

Kirk – or the thing that is not Kirk. Is that simply paranoid delusion?

No I knew of it before the madness began, even before the period of intensity and exhilaration that should have warned of the coming deterioration. For one moment, his clouded thoughts became crystal clear. Intensity, exhilaration, then paranoia and deterioration. Stimulant reaction, withdrawal reaction.

Impossible. I take no stimulants.


Paranoia again.

Is it? Did not the Kirk-thing enquire – how many days ago – after your health? Had it not asked if you were eating? If it knew you suspected, would it not try to silence you?

He knocked over his chair as he stood, striding quickly to the replicator. Buttons were pushed and the machine delivered a plate of vegetable stew. He brought it to the computer annex on his desk. “Computer,” he said.

“Working,” the female voice responded.

“Code and classify under my voice print.” He asked, in Vulcan, for a scan and complete analysis of the plate of food. The computer obliged.


Panic threatened to overwhelm him. No drugs, he was going mad! Wait, he ordered himself. Withdrawal. It would have removed the stimulant. But there will be a trace in my system. The medical laboratory. You will find your answer there. The thought started him shivering. But more terrible was the thought that he would not.

Ten minutes brought his answer. Cordrazine, one of the most powerful stimulants known to Federation science. It was highly useful in minute doses. Large doses could kill, and massive doses, as Dr. McCoy had personally discovered, caused paranoia and madness. The drug was both accumulative and highly addicting, and such addiction had no known cure, no agents to aid withdrawal, and death was certain if the drug was forsaken.

The strain of concentration was weakening him. Madness or death. Take the drug and lose more and more of your mind. Do not take it, and die. He had no choice. He had to function, to live long enough to free Jim Kirk from the thing which possessed him. Cordrazine meant life, even if only for a short while, and he could still think…

Rationalization. You cannot think. You can do nothing other than what the drug compels you to do. Can you deny it? Even the thought of it calls to you.

But if I continue to take it, only long enough to…

Long enough to find the next dose, he spat at himself. Use your logic, your reason. Wild, mocking laughter sounded in his mind. You will give in to it, now or when the nightmare of withdrawal begins in earnest. You understand the process. What you feel now is only the beginning.

He clenched his shaking hands together. He would find his strength… The panic that swirled around him grew stronger, destroying his reason. Half-breed, how can you hope to defeat cordrazine addiction?

I am Vulcan, he thought fiercely. Addiction can be controlled, like any other physical reaction. It is a thing of the body. The mind can always master the body. Rest. Meditate. It will be cast off.

Spock returned to his quarters. Sooner than he would have believed possible, he was vomiting, shivering and covered in cold sweat. The hours crawled by. He paced, threw himself onto his bed, only to get up and pace again. He clawed at his arms, holding so tightly as to leave bruises. The soundproofing hid his screams. Finally, helpless, exhausted and despairing, he crawled back to the medical synthesizer and called forth the demon that damned him.


Go to Part Three

A Nice boy Like Me by Barry Manilow

Return to Valjiir Stories

Return to Valjiir Continum