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Return to Valjiir Stories
Return to Valjiir Continum
Return to Valjiir Stories
Return to Valjiir Continum
Return to Valjiir Continum
“They took him,” Jilla said quietly as Ruth entered their quarters.
“I know,” Ruth growled.
Jilla stared at her “He will die.”
“I know that, too.”
“It is not his doing.”
“I cannot ignore what I feel. He was not mad. And the captain…”
“James T. Kirk! Bwana Jim!”
”Oh, sensitive, right. I didn’t know you saw auras.”
Jilla didn’t ask what seeing auras meant. She wasn’t going to be sidetracked. “I promised Spock I would try to…”
“Be as crazy as he is! Now, damn it, leave me…!”
“Use your empathy, keheil!”
“Go fuck Sulu, telmnor!”
The intake of breath was burningly painful and Jilla fought her tears as Ruth turned to her.
“Goddess, I’m sorry,” she said softly. “But you won’t let me forget…”
“No,” Jilla managed resolutely. “As long as he lives, no.”
All her nightmares began with “Goodbye.” She had given up sleeping in favor of more comfortable things. She worked, deliberately keeping her mind from Spock, away from memories, both good and bad. She avoided her quarters as much as possible when her roommate was there. Jilla’s eyes reflected too much of what she felt. She spent a lot of time in the rec room, her guitar giving her a shield from casual conversation. But she never played anything from the Valley Collection, and she never played with Jilla. Once she spent four hours reciting a Vegan epic poem just to keep her mind off the fact that the Captain sat and listened to almost all of it.
She resented him. No matter how often she reminded herself that it was the cordrazine that had caused Spock’s wild accusations, she couldn’t help her sudden dislike of Jim Kirk. Maybe it was because he hadn’t resorted to sackcloth and ashes at the destruction of the man who was supposedly his best friend. Why she had expected it, she didn’t know. Kirk was saddened, Kirk was quiet and subdued – but it simply wasn’t enough. For all that she told herself he was a starship captain who had to think first of his ship and the four hundred and twenty-eight other lives he was in charge of, she wanted to see him going through as much hell as Spock had. She wanted to see him going through as much guilt and shame and self-castigation as she was. It didn’t matter that he had nothing to feel guilty about – that she had nothing to feel guilty about. The Jim Kirk she knew accepted responsibility for everything that happened on his ship. There must have been something more he – she – could have done.
She had taken over the office of the Chief of Sciences. The library computer was about the only thing she held any conversations with anymore. She had tried to share her grief with Sulu, but he was consumed with his own bitter sorrow - not only for the First Officer, but for the loss of Jilla. If she’d been hiding in Engineering before this, she practically lived there now. That is, when she isn’t staring reproachfully at me, Ruth thought bitterly. No wonder I spend so much time here. It may be haunted, but at least I’m alone with it.
The haunting is in your head, she argued with herself. There’s nothing here of his, nothing personal, nothing that isn’t necessary for the functioning of the Sciences Department.
Then why can I feel him…
Sensing auras now?
She returned her attention to diligently preparing the final reports on Shas for Fleet. They were nearly complete. Carolyn Palamas’ report was, as usual, late. The problem wasn’t that the Lieutenant was incompetent; just the opposite. She was too good at her job, too thorough for the demands of Starfleet. She could spend more time over a scrap of broken pottery than all the rest of the departments put together spent on an entire planet. Ruth never understood specialists, and tended to be a bit impatient with them.
She called the Anthropology and Archeology department. It took a while for Palamas to answer. When she did, she asked, annoyed, “Who is it?”
“Lieutenant Valley,” Ruth told her. “I need your report on Shas.”
“I was working on it when you interrupted me.”
“Good. When will it be ready?” Ruth tried to sound polite. She and Palamas weren’t overly friendly to begin with, and the tension on the ship was putting a strain on the best of relationships. And I’m not going to think about that, Ruth thought firmly.
“I’m working on the interpretation of the documents we found. Although they’re religious in nature, they have some fascinating phraseology. I’m having Linguistics double-check the translations.”
Ruth winced at Palamas’ choice of the word ‘fascinating.’ “Why don’t you leave it for the experts at Alterra?” she suggested. “We don’t have the time.”
“Because,” Palamas explained, “the writings, which seem to be dealing with a form of demonic possession, and bear a close resemblance to half a dozen other cultures that I can think of off-hand, are expressing the concept in a way that’s closer to modern energy-matter transference than to anything anciently religious. And Starfleet is interested in anything that can be used to confirm or deny the idea of galactic seeding, so I want to include it in my report.”
“I’m certain it’s all wonderfully interesting,” Ruth snapped, a little more irritably than she had intended, “but those reports were due yesterday. Get a move on, Lieutenant.”
“Who died and left you – “ Palamas began hotly, then stopped abruptly. It was a traditional answer, used whenever officers of equal rank agued over assignments. There was a very short silence before Palamas said, “Ruth, I’m sorry.” Another pause. “I actually forgot for a minute.”
“Maybe it would be better if we all forgot,” Ruth replied, ordering the words not to catch in her throat. “Get that report in as soon as possible.”
Ruth closed the com, and laid her head down on her arms, refusing to let the tears fall.
She was studying that very report in her cabin late the next night. Jilla had come in a few hours before, but for once, Ruth wasn’t about to be chased out of her own quarters. Let her glare, she thought obstinately. I live here, too.
Live. ‘You won’t let me forget…’
‘As long as he lives, no.’
Damn it, shut up!
Jilla had stopped trying to convince her of the captain’s complicity in Spock’s addiction - so you’re doing it yourself, Ruth commented sourly - but she had also stopped talking altogether. The quiet was more than uncomfortable, so much so that Ruth actually welcomed the soft sound of Jilla’s lyrette. Until she recognized the song: it was the Vulcan duet Jilla had once played with Spock soon after coming on board.
She couldn’t take much more. Maybe she really could get Jilla to move in with Sulu. It would be good for both of them – for all of them. Or maybe she should just request new quarters for herself; the Chief of Sciences was entitled to a single-occupancy cabin…
No, you can’t do anything that obvious. The Captain would hear about it and suspect…
What had he suspected Spock of?
‘Be careful. I would not wish him to find a way to destroy you.’
Valley, you’re getting as paranoid as he was, and you haven’t touched a drop of cordrazine.
She rubbed her temples. The pressure was getting to her. And Jilla was no help. Worse, she was doing her best, Ruth knew, to remind her of Spock, of the sane, intelligent man now imprisoned in his nightmares, as she herself had been imprisoned in the life of Joan d’Arc, as he had been in the mind of Oedipus. That was different! she wanted to scream, but she wouldn’t give Jilla the satisfaction…
And how was it so different? her own thoughts countered.
Obviously, he didn’t implant Oedipus in his own brain, she answered.
And why is that obvious?
Because Spock has too much sense to… She stopped.
To addict himself to cordrazine?
And if I believe that…
She rubbed her temples again. Could Kirk actually be guilty? She’d considered her own possible role in Spock’s deterioration, had tried to make sense of his attacks on her, but why would Spock go after Jim Kirk – unless, he, too, had played some kind of role. And if he had, and Spock was already mad, why hadn’t he threatened the Captain? Why wait until after he’d been caught to accuse him?
‘He said the Captain did it to him,’ Jilla had said. ‘He asked me to ‘help Jim’. There was a strangeness about his tia, a wrongness. What is it Spock insists the Captain did to him? Which was first, the drug or the insanity? What if it was the drug?!’
And Jilla insists she can feel it.
But there’s no proof…
And since when has sensitivity needed proof?
For a moment, she could all too easily hear the faintly condescending, vaguely amused voice of all her nightmares: Really, Lieutenant? Explain the logic behind this statement. What is it, precisely, that Mrs. Majiir can ‘feel’?
I don’t know, Mr. Spock. There’s logic in it somewhere. Maybe it’s demonic possession…
And what was it Carolyn Palamas said about those scrolls?
“Jilla!” Ruth shouted.
Jilla dropped her lyrette. “What?!” was gasped out as Ruth’s emotions momentarily overwhelmed her.
“I beg your…?”
Ruth was up out of her seat, pacing. “Not this time. It’s something like…” she paused, then went on quickly, using an image she knew an Indiian would relate to, “a marauder.”
Jilla gasped again, this time in horror.
“Only not quite,” Ruth went on, “a sauvrn maybe…”
“Sauvrn?” Jilla repeated.
“Telepathic parasite. But this thing’s intelligent…”
“What thing?” Jilla nearly shrieked.
“The captain!” Ruth shrieked back. Jilla stared at her, hope growing in her grey eyes. Then a rare, full smile broke over the dark lips.
“You believe me!” she cried delightedly.
“I believe you,” Ruth nodded. “Now all we have to do is figure out what we’re going to do.”
“We need Spock,” Jilla said firmly. “He understands what has happened or he would not be on Elba.”
Ruth fought sudden tears that were equal parts grief and joy. “I really didn’t push him, did I?”
“If you had, he would be safe now,” Jilla returned, and Ruth knew she was talking about a different kind of ‘push’ altogether. “But be that as it may, we have to save him first. We need him, and his life is in immediate danger.”
“Okay, granted,” Ruth said. “But he is on Elba. How are we going to…?”
“There is the shuttle,” Jilla proposed excitedly.
Ruth’s eyes lit with the possibility. “So there is. Mobility without anyone suspecting what we’re really doing.” She stopped abruptly. “But it’s only slated to reach warp two, and we’ll have to get away from the Enterprise.”
“We will need a cloak, then,” was Jilla’s response.
Ruth shook her head. “No good. It can be traced.”
“The Romulan cloak can, yes,” Jilla countered, “but verillium-obstitrate cannot.”
“What, we build a shuttle out of…?”
“If we can find a way to project a verilium-obstitrate field…”
"How can you project…"
“A sufficiently dematerialized quantity suspended within a transporter beam…”
“Majiir, you’re a genius! No wonder you’re Scotty’s favorite ensign!” Jilla blushed. “We are going to be in such big trouble,” Ruth continued nervously.
“Yes,” Jilla agreed sagely.
“How long have you been – “ Ruth began, then shook her head. “Never mind.”
“I never do,” Jilla returned on cue.
“I’m beginning to believe it,” Ruth said off-handedly, then pursed her lips. “Let’s see. Log tapes. I figure to get onto Elba we’ll need authorizations from Fleet, requests from Vulcan and Antares – that’s easy. Do you know Ambassador Sarek?”
“No,” Jilla replied softly. “I have never met him.”
“What good is living on Vulcan?”
“It is a big planet, Ruth.”
“Well, we’ll need Council tapes, then.” Jilla nodded. “What else?” Ruth went on and she began pacing again. “Rations, lots of protein, medical supplies….” She sighed, rubbing her temples.
“We will need a medical officer as well, Ruth,” Jilla pointed out.
“Why, I’m chopped…?” Ruth began indignantly.
“How are Spock and I to cure you if you absorb the addiction?” Jilla asked pointedly.
Ruth mumbled something that could have been, “I don’t know what I can’t do till I can’t do it.”
“Precisely,” Jilla replied.
Ruth scowled, then sighed again. “Okay.” She thought for a moment. “Chapel would do it,” she said.
“Elba would wonder why a doctor was not…”
“Yeah, but Bones belongs to Bwana.”
Jilla took a deep breath. “At phaser point?”
“You really are from an empire, aren’t you?” Ruth closed her eyes. “Why not? What’s another fifteen or twenty years when you’re already doing life?”
Jilla nodded again, then looked directly into Ruth’s eyes. Her voice was quiet. “After we take Spock from Elba, we may not be able to cure him,” she said. “His paranoia may drive him to kill us both – and McCoy. And if we are able to cure him, there is no guarantee we will be able to return to the Enterprise – or to save James Kirk.”
Ruth looked away, feeling her heart thundering. “I know. But as long as he lives…”
Jilla nodded one final time, her eyes filled with both hope and tears. “As long as he lives,” she returned.
Spock held the pen carefully. Keeping his hands steady had become a major triumph. He practiced the calligraphy for hours at a time, an exercise in self-control. Dr. Cory thought it was good therapy.
Cory was with him now, standing behind his shoulder, watching, as always. “Most attractive,” the doctor said approvingly. “May I ask what it is?”
Spock wanted to retort, ‘you may ask,’ but knew Cory would mark such hostility on his chart. Cory marked everything on his chart. Instead, he snapped “Vulcan,” then forced himself to be calm. He had no right to expect privacy after all. But he didn’t apologize. “A name,” he continued tersely. “A translation and transliteration of a name.”
Cory asked for no further explanation. Spock was not certain he would have complied even if the doctor had asked. The starkly beautiful ink strokes were the Vulcan word ‘dei’larr’ei’. It meant, ‘where one travels, another follows.’ Somehow, he found peace within its connotations, though he could not have said why – would not have admitted why, a sneering voice in his head corrected. He had said to – someone, sometime, recently he could have sworn – that he was familiar with Terran literature. He knew well the Hebrew story of Naomi and her daughter by marriage… Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the Lord do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me... The connection was scattered by the tearing of his own thoughts, and he closed his eyes, again forcing calm into his mind, his hands.
Cory was pleased with his Vulcan patient. They had managed to reduce the cordrazine dosage by keeping Spock sedated a good deal of the time. Spock had fought it at first, determined to continue researching ways to reverse the possession that had overtaken Jim, but now he welcomed the oblivion. When awake, it was a constant battle to remain calm, and the struggle to keep track of his increasingly chaotic thoughts wearied him beyond anything he had ever known. The knowledge that he must live with the drug, with the encroaching madness, the inevitable death was a constant torment, and it, too, tore at his control. The dreamless insentience was dull relief.
“Doctor?” he asked.
He still had difficulty with that. He found himself waiting for more; ‘mister,’ or ‘sir’, or ‘commander’ or even ‘boss.’ That it was so hard for him to adjust to being only a name was perplexing to him. And then, he had to reorient himself and try to remember what he had been thinking, what he had been about to say. But Cory was used to the momentary consternation. The doctor waited.
“Doctor, if I might have books, or a musical …”
“The lyrette,” Cory broke in, smiling, and Spock was annoyed at the interruption, despite the fact that Cory had accurately anticipated his words. “Captain Kirk sent yours with your other belongings when you came here. I was waiting for you to remember it.”
“It was most thoughtful of the captain,” Spock said flatly. He had stopped mentioning Jim’s imprisonment and Kirk’s betrayal. It did him no good, and if he was agreeable, they thought him better. Here, on Elba, it was easy to believe that he was, indeed, wrong. Perhaps it was his own madness which had planted the guilt for all that had happened on an imaginary ‘thing’ possessing the body of Jim Kirk.
The feeling on the ship wasn’t quite normal, but it was back to acceptable. Being busy helped. The Borderline was being obnoxiously pleasant – which kept everyone on alert. With Spock gone, everyone had more to do until a new First Officer could be assigned and briefed. Especially the new Chief of Sciences. Which meant, Sulu thought grimly, I’ve got no where to go when the pressure of leaving Jilla alone builds up. Not that that’s been much of a problem with her keeping herself so damned busy…
The memory of her rejection on the Bridge seared its anguish into his heart. She had risked her life to help Spock – her mate, her Vulcan kindred…
No, that’s true enough, but it was for the good of the ship, because she was the only one…
And if that’s so, why did she push you away? Why hasn’t she come to you for comfort, for reassurance, even to grieve with you? She knows how highly you thought of him, how much his deterioration affected you…
And how would she know that? When has she talked to you about it? When has she even acknowledged it to you? She just holes up with her damned engines and her projects and her tech manuals…
He shook off the angry resentment and set his cup of coffee down on an empty table. There was a small twinge of guilt inside him that he should have the same old worries when so much had changed. But life goes on, doesn’t it? A Vulcan goes twitchy and becomes a cordrazine junkie and gets locked up in rehab and the Havens merrily incite a war and we’re supposed to function at normal efficiently without a First Officer, but life goes on. He sighed. Jilla’s certainly letting it, burying herself in work, avoiding me, like always. And Ruth’s letting it, despite the fact - well, Jilla’s insistence – that she loved the man. Even the captain, supposedly Spock’s greatest friend, just goes on. I know what I’d be doing if it were my friend…
He thought of Jeremy, and sighed again, then looked up as Kevin Riley’s voice said, “Yeah, me too,” and the navigator dropped into the chair across from him.
“What’s your problem?” Sulu asked.
“Ruth,” Kevin muttered.
“Jilla,” Sulu agreed.
Kevin nodded. “Too busy for you, is she?”
Sulu grinned sardonically. Let him think whatever the fuck he wants.
“D’you think I’ll ever be gettin’ a break?” Kevin mused, then answered himself irritably. “Not with her running around doing god knows what all the damned time.” This time, Sulu kept his agreement silent. “I knew she’d have it rough for a while,” Kevin went on, “but you’d think after three weeks…” His voice trailed off. Sulu recognized the uneasy guilt and briefly clasped Kevin’s arm.
“Life goes on, Kev.” He stood. “Let’s go down to the gym, get in a good workout.”
“Can’t, Sulu, me boy,” Kevin replied. “I’m due for a simulation.” He grinned sourly. “Now there’s one way to keep my mind off Ruth. See how many Fleet protocols I can fail at one sitting.”
“You won’t fail, Kev,” Sulu told him, then tried to grin himself. “Unless it's on purpose.”
Kevin’s answering smile was actually genuine. “Thanks for the vote of confidence,” he said.
“Any time,” Sulu said. “Maybe I’ll go down to the shuttle bay and see if Jilla recognizes me.”
Kevin’s blue eyes twinkled knowingly. “All us Humans look alike in the dark, ‘ey? Oh, wait, it’s never dark with an Indiian, now is it?”
Sulu scowled. “Go away.”
McCoy looked up from the report as Kirk walked into his office. He noted that the Captain hadn’t yet begun to lose the air of haunted grief.
“The latest from Elba, Doctor?” Kirk asked.
“Right here, Jim,” McCoy returned. “He’s still alive, and they’ve managed to reduce his dosage, but Cory says it’s really only a matter of time. Even a Vulcan constitution is only so strong.”
Kirk turned, his fists clenching. “Damn it!” he whispered. “Why isn’t there something…”
McCoy got up, placing a hand on Kirk’s shoulder. “Let go of the grief, Jim.”
“I can’t, Doctor. I have a ship to command. Let me know when –“ Kirk’s voice caught, but he recovered. “He deserves all honors.”
McCoy nodded, understanding. “What’s the Haven situation like?” he asked, deliberately changing the subject.
“The same,” Kirk said dully. “We can’t move, they keep baiting us.” His voice became stern. “But I can play their game as long as they can.”
“The tension’s no good for you, Jim,” McCoy observed.
“No,” Kirk agreed grimly, “but I can’t very well call Iriden and ask him to ease off, can I?” He shook his head. “Thanks for the report, Doc. I’m due in the Bridge.” He headed out the door.
“Dinner later?” McCoy called.
“If I’ve got time.”
Still alive. Strong constitution indeed. I won’t be completely free until he’s dead. It can’t be helped. Wait it out.
Kirk smiled to himself. Emotions were good, but so was patience. It was only a minor annoyance, to have this one last piece out of place. He could console himself with the perfection of everything else. His ship was running smoothly, he knew how to handle the Havens. Even Jim was now no more than a whisper, almost a memory of a past life. It was good, so good to live again. He could even begin to feel regret at the loss of his dear, valued friend.
Ruth waited until the captain was out of sight before she walked down the corridor to Sickbay. Everything was ready. Jilla was doing the last checks on the shuttle, the hanger sensors were inoperative and would remain that way. Communications would go out in ten minutes and they’d have a day’s lead before the engines would come back up from the cold stop they’d rigged to go the same time as Communications. She shook her head. It was risky to do so much damage to the Enterprise – temporary though it would be – with the Haven situation the way it was, but they had no choice if they wanted any hope of saving Spock and Jim. Mutiny, sabotage, desertion, even treason… No, don’t think about it. Think about Spock, about Jim. This is for them, for Fleet. We’ll be court-martialed, sent to a rehab colony for the rest of our lives, but it has to be done.
Oh, and don’t forget. Abduction.
“Bones?” she said in her most serious tone as she stepped into his office.
He looked up. “What is it, Ruthie?”
“Could you come with me to the shuttle bay? And bring a full medical kit?”
He rose. “Is there a problem? Why wasn’t I notified?”
“I tried to take care of it myself, but…” She let the sentence trail off into a fearful shiver. His fatherly, protective feelings surfaced, just as she’d known they would, and he took her arm.
“It’s all right, Ruthie,” he said. “Let’s go.”
I’m sorry, Bones.
Jilla went over the final checklist once again. They had pilfered food and a storage unit, torn out all the seats but two and put in a cot with several sets of restraining straps. The expanded controls were in place, as well as the computerized facility for the cloak and the falsified data and sensory projections. The warp engines and cloak hadn’t, of course, been tested, but she was certain they would perform as designed. Their toolkits were aboard, and a store of protein and sedative hyposprays that wouldn’t show up as missing until someone in medical did a manual inventory. She felt some guilt that it had all been accomplished so easily. She was Mr. Scott’s favorite ensign, and he had been happy to allow her to ‘tinker’ – as he put it – by herself. He trusted her too much to come checking up on her.
She bowed her head, then remembered that she had wanted to get her lyrette and Ruth’s guitar. Ruth wasn’t due with McCoy for another ten minutes. She hurried from the shuttle bay to their quarters. Once there, she hesitated. They had only discussed it once, yet both were aware there were but two fates before them, failure and death, or life imprisonment. She shuddered. Death. The fear of that had almost stopped her, more than once. But duty was stronger. She could not, would not betray Spock again.
But was duty stronger than her love for Sulu? She had been consumed with her duty since Spock’s collapse on the Bridge. The last interaction she had had with Sulu had been one of cold rejection. Their relationship had been strained since the leave on Naois, since the morning she had left him, running, hiding in her technical journals. He had returned from that leave with a bitterness that seared her – and she had not tried to ease it or him. She had been too fearful, too close to the surrender they both wanted – and needed. To leave him now, forever, without a word of explanation, never knowing... I would not have known your joy, but neither would I have known your sorrow. I do not know which is worse.
Selar’s words, yet so appropriate, almost mockingly so. She thought of Sulu’s need, so long thwarted, the passion she could never give him. Would he return to the carefree, gentle, outgoing man he had been before she had come into his life? Would he allow another to fill the void she had burned within him? And would she become but a memory, both bitter and cherished, of love forsaken for empty, lonely duty… She swallowed a sob.
I release you, my love, she thought. I give you back your freedom. Do not know my joy, for my sorrow is too great for even you to bear.
She picked up the instruments and left the cabin.
She had shaken off the sorrowing despair by the time she reached the shuttle bay, replacing it with grim determination. But it returned full force with the sight that met her eyes.
Sulu stood staring at the shuttlecraft. He turned abruptly at the sound of her footsteps, his eyes taking in her appearance and what she carried. Shocked, incredulous disbelief flowed from him, swiftly colored with fury and fierce anguish and fearful betrayal, and she knew he had been inside the craft. He strode across the deck, grabbing her shoulders.
“Jilla, what the hell are you doing?!” he rasped at her.
No! she wailed silently. We cannot be stopped now! Aema, help me, what do I do?! The words came out of her mouth as the guitar and lyrette clanged on the deck.
“I love you!”
Sulu hadn’t believed what his eyes told him. A shuttle, equipped for some sort of long voyage, with warp engines. How, why had she done this? Desertion? Because Spock was gone? Was she planning on following him to Elba? Was she crazy, too? She was going to leave him, without a thought, without so much as a word… Why, god WHY?!
He spun around at the sound of footsteps. Jilla was crossing the bay, carrying her lyrette, and Ruth’s guitar. His heart sank. Spike’s in on it too, he thought with sudden, crushing bitterness.
Agony thundered through him and still, he didn’t want to believe it. There had to be some other explanation! He rushed to her, grasping her slender shoulders, croaking a question at her, desperate to hear a logical – or even an illogical answer. Anything but… Please, Jilla, I’m wrong, god, let me be wrong!
She dropped the instruments, her voice a whispered cry of helpless despair. “I love you!”
Everything within him froze. He had waited for so long , feeling it, knowing it, but waiting, patiently – or not so patiently – allowing her to deny it, to back off, to push him away. Now it clouded his mind, pulsing within him, all the desire he had tried to burn away, all the need, the hope… The joy rose, filling his being… no coercion, no manipulation, she said it, confessed, admitted it freely, openly…
He pulled her into a passionate embrace, forgetting the shuttle and all of its implications. He forgot his duty, Starfleet, the Enterprise, the Havens, Spock, Ruth… The kiss was sweet release, a taste of all his desires and the promise of so much more. Her arms came around his shoulders, her delicate fingers moving though his hair as his tangled into hers. Her lush body was pressing against him in delicious surrender. He could feel her heart, fluttering like a frightened bird held to his chest. He returned her words to her a hundred, a thousand-fold, I love you, Jilla, baby, my beloved, I love you, I love you…
He felt the sharp pain racing through his nervous system as her fingers clamped on his shoulder. With his last conscious breath he damned her and himself to all the hells of the galaxy.
Ruth had been prepared to move fast once she got McCoy to the shuttle bay and it became obvious there was no medical emergency. She was more than a little surprised to see Jilla kneeling beside an unconscious Sulu, her guitar and Jilla’s lyrette on the deck next to them. She caught the question that formed immediately in her mind and stopped it from reaching her mouth. McCoy hurriedly crossed the bay to kneel down next to Jilla.
“What happened?” McCoy was asking as he opened his medical kit. Ruth saw that Jilla’s eyes were full of unshed tears.
“I… he… collapsed,” she stammered. McCoy was running a scanner over Sulu’s body.
“Nerve paralysis – “ McCoy’s head jerked up as he stared at Jilla. Suddenly Ruth understood.
“In the shuttle, Bones,” she said sternly. “Move. Now.”
“I don’t like doing this.” Ruth took a deep breath and made it a telepathic order. “Move!”
Jilla was already beginning to drag Sulu from the shuttle bay. Ruth made sure McCoy was in the shuttle before helping her. “What happened?” she asked.
“He found the shuttle,” Jilla whispered dully. “I had to… I could not…”
“Okay, I understand,” Ruth said tersely. “Let’s go.” She didn’t look as Jilla softly kissed Sulu’s cheek with a murmured, “my love, forgive me,” before stumbling back into the bay. They retrieved their instruments on the run and raced to the shuttle.
Five minutes later they watched as the hangar doors of the Enterprise closed behind them. “Cloak on?” Ruth asked. Jilla nodded. “Let’s move.”
Jilla’s fingers danced over the helm controls. All around them space shifted, as, for the first time in Federation history, a shuttlecraft went into warp.
Go to Part Six
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