Sweet Fire

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

(Standard Year 2247)

Return to Part Five

Go to Part Seven

Return to Valjiir Stories

Return to Valjiir Continum


Sulu woke still damning himself. He forced the lethargy from a protesting nervous system and climbed to his feet. A red light blinked above the door to the shuttle bay and he swore vehemently.

He moved to the com on the wall, calling the Bridge. “Sulu here, there’s a shuttle moving out, stop it!” he barked.

“Lad, what’re ya talkin’ about?” Scott’s voice replied.

“Mr. Scott, a shuttle just exited the hangar.”

“No indication of it, sir,” David Kelly’s voice said, sounding more distant than Scott’s.

“Are you sure, lad?” Scott asked.

“Yes, I’m sure, I’m standing outside of the shuttle bay! Are you telling me the sensors aren’t picking it up?”

“No sign at all,” came Daffy Gollub’s voice. “I’m running a full sensor sweep… and nothing.”

Damn it, that’s impossible!” Sulu shouted. His mind raced, and the obvious answer came to him. “Shit! They sabotaged the goddamn computers!”

“They who?” Scott demanded, his tone now wary as well as confused.

Sulu swallowed bitterly. “Majiir and Valley,” he said. There was a short silence.

“I’m comin’ down there, Mr. Sulu,” Scott said. “Inform the captain.”

“Aye, sir,” Sulu snapped savagely. He hit the com button to clear it.

And everything went dark as the hum of the engines whined down and stopped.


“Hey, Luk, look at this,” Manda Gen called from the sensor station. She switched whatever was so interesting to the main screen as she spoke.

Captain Luk Iriden, who had been lounging in the command chair, sat up straight. “What the…?”

“It’s a shuttle of some sort,” Manda returned, fiddling with her controls. “I’ve got it on full magnification.”

Iriden leaned forward, studying the screen. “Looks like those things are warp nacelles,” he said incredulously.

“Sensors say that’s just what they are,” Manda confirmed.

“I didn’t know the Feds had warp shuttles.”

“They don’t, last time I checked,” the Security officer, Jae Kantan chimed in. “And I checked yesterday.”

“Well, that’s a twist and a half,” Iriden mused. “What’s Kirk up to?” He turned his head slightly to glance at the weapons’ station. “You aiming at that thing, Jae?”

“Yes, Luk.”

“Don’t do anything rash.”

“Of course not.”

On the screen, the shuttle seemed to shiver momentarily, then it disappeared. Iriden blinked and called “Manda?” without taking his eyes from the screen.

“No more readings,” she replied. “Either that was an hallucination and we’d all better ease up on the Rigellian, or the Fed's got itself one hell of a cloak.”

“Or Kirk’s trying to make us curious,” Iriden countered. “Okay, Jim, I’ll bite.” He turned to communications. “Open a channel to the Enterprise.”

He waited for almost a minute for Anori Ril to report, “The Enterprise isn’t responding on any channel.”

“James, James, you’re being childish.” Iriden shook his head, both annoyed and puzzled. “Keep trying, Anori.”

“Something else,” Manda rejoined. She looked up, excitedly. “She’s just gone dead in space! I’m only getting impulse readings, just enough to sustain life support and basic functions. No engines, no weapons, no communications.”

Iriden closed his eyes and thought furiously. Just what was going on here? Kirk, I’ve read everything there is on your tactics. What are you trying to con me into? He opened his eyes again and smiled slowly. “How long does a heavy cruiser need to bring cold engines up?”

“Forty-eight hours, minimum,” Kol Yasunal reported from Engineering.

“Good for us.”

“Luk?” Manda asked.

“Look at her, just sitting there, waiting to be fired on, begging for it. He’s trying to provoke me into unnecessary violence.” Iriden shook his head sadly. “Do the Feds want a war that badly?" He sighed then relaxed back into the command chair, turning to the pilot. "Sel, get us out of here."

"Will do," Sel Liaz said from the helm.

“We can’t just leave them there!” Manda protested.

“Did I ask them to turn off their engines? It’s an old trick of Kirk’s, pretend to be dead in space and wait for the sucker to come in and take the bait. He got rid of some very good Orion businessmen that way, and, rumor has it, some worthy Romulans.”

Jae laughed. “But no Havens, right, Boss?” he said.

“Indeed, as his favorite officer would say,” Iriden answered. “Let’s go make some profit.”


Kirk had expected McCoy to barge onto the Bridge and demand, “Jim, what’s wrong with this ship!” When he didn’t, Kirk put out a call for the doctor. He needed someone to shout at. When McCoy didn’t acknowledge the summons or report to the Bridge, Kirk called Sickbay, only to have Nurse Chapel report that no one seemed to know where the doctor was. Kirk ordered a search, but he already knew. McCoy was on his way to Elba. Voluntarily? No, McCoy hadn’t suspected a thing. Who would have thought anyone else would? How had he underestimated Valley and Majiir?

Once Sulu had made his report, it was obvious to him what had happened. He couldn’t’ve said why it was obvious, but he was certain of it nonetheless. Ruth Valley and Jilla Majiir were going to try and rescue Spock from Elba. A part of him insisted that he leave it alone. There was no cure, and the Vulcan would be in far worse condition after three more weeks’ addiction. Even if they managed to get him off Elba, they’d all die before…

“Captain,” Uhura interrupted his thoughts.

”Yes,” he snapped, spinning his chair to face her.

She looked reluctant to report, but said, “Communications are irreparable, sir. We’ll need Base facilities to straighten this mess out.”

“Damn!” he swore, then growled at Uhura, “I know it’s not your fault, Lieutenant.” He turned to Scott. “Engineering?” was his one-word demand.

“Forty-eight hours at least, Captain,” Scott said heavily. “I canna do anymore.”

“A shuttle can’t get very far in…” Kirk became aware of Scott clearing his throat.

“Captain, I’m pretty sure this shuttle’s got warp drive.”

Damn!´ Kirk said again. “I authorized it! What do those two – three – think they’re…”

“Elba, sir,” Sulu’s voice said from the Helm, thick with controlled fury. “They’re going after Spock, god knows why.”

Kirk let a grin cross his mind, but not his features. Much better to let someone else bring it up. “After Spock?” he said incredulously, then mused in silence for a moment. His expression became heavy and bitter. “And why becomes obvious, doesn’t it, Mr. Sulu?”


Sulu closed his eyes, biting his tongue. It wasn’t a kind reference, but then why should the captain be kind to deserters? Why was obvious, he just hadn’t wanted to think of it. Reporting to the Captain had been the hardest thing he’d ever done. To rat on Spike, on Jilla… Would you have if she’d confided in you? Would you have helped her, would you be in that shuttle with them right now - or would you have tried to convince her that it was a lost cause. And what difference would any of it have made? Jilla is bound to Spock. Jilla will always be bound to Spock. Jilla is in love with Selar. Jilla will always be in love with Selar. And I'm not even close to being third best. Damn her, damn her!

Behind him, he heard Kirk sigh, then straighten in the con. “All right,” the Captain said. “We can’t track them, but we know where they’ll go. And even with warp, we’ve got a chance of overtaking them. Mr. Scott, warp drive is top priority. Mr. Sulu, conduct a search of their quarters, see if you can find any clue to whatever is keeping our sensors from seeing them. Let’s get moving.”

Sulu snapped a crisp, “Aye, sir,” and rose from the Helm, turning it back to Kelly. He put aside, friend, lover – ha! Fool, you mean! – and fixed his mind on security and duty – and emptiness.


You have no engines, no weapons, no communications, no Executive Officer, no Chief of Sciences, no Chief Medical Officer, and two junior officers have just totally outsmarted you. It’s nice to see you have the situation well in hand – Captain.

Kirk ignored Jim’s sarcasm as well as his jubilance as he paced in his cabin. They’re going to Elba, they believed him! A cordrazine addict, and they believed him! They have to be stopped!

I don’t think you can do it.

I’ll have to find an excuse to shoot them down before they reach Elba. They’re traitors, I can say they were deserting to the Havens…

No weapons, remember?


And, of course, you’ll have to catch them first.

And Scott can fix the phasers by then. Don’t be so proud of your pretty girls just yet.

It’s a good thing Havens have a reputation for never shooting first.

Shut up! Why won’t you die!? It’s never been this hard before…!

It must have been once or I wouldn’t’ve found you in your little box.

Kirk didn’t answer. White noise, he told himself sternly. So much white noise.


Spock was beginning to calm down. He had been given a sedative, and was restrained, and Dr. Cory was speaking reassuringly to him. It was disheartening. The Vulcan had been progressing so well. He was quiet most of the time, peaceably resigned. Cory had been quite pleased when the Enterprise had come, bearing a keheil and a hope for a cure. He had thought it would give Spock some comfort. But the Vulcan had only to hear the name Enterprise and all the control fell away in a storm of panic and paranoia. The same fears as those that had brought him to Elba, the same wild, irrational accusations: Kirk had come to finish the deed, Kirk would kill him. She – whoever ‘she’ was – would be made to destroy herself, Kirk had seen to it. His hope, his ‘little one’ had failed him… and he screamed bitter Vulcan epithets at his imaginary mate. He begged Cory not to let them near him, even to the point of threatening the doctor’s life. Cory had restrained him and was now attempting to allay his fears by showing him the transmission he had received.

“Spock,” he said gently, “you’re only going back to the Enterprise for the trip home. They’ll take you home, Spock, to Vulcan. The Zehara of Antares herself has sent a keheil to care for you, at your father’s request. It is all fully authorized, Spock, by the Zehara, by the Vulcan Council, even by the Supreme Secretariat of the Federation himself.”

Cory touched a button on a small panel. The screen in front of Spock lit up with the face of Anthony Elamas:

“Message to Dr. Donald Cory, Elba II. Dr. Cory; Permission is hereby granted for the removal of patient Spock Sareklrn of Vulcan from your care. The starship U.S.S. Enterprise will transport Spock to his homeworld under the medical supervision of Dr. Leonard McCoy and Antari Keheil ani Ramy. On this stardate, for the United Federation of Planets, Elamas out.”

The image was quickly replaced by another, a wise, patient, beautiful Antari face.

“Dr. Cory, it is my belief that there is some hope for curing cordrazine addiction. With this hope, I am authorizing the assistance of Keheil ani Ramy in the treatment of Commander Spock. Antares takes full responsibility for the health and well-being of our keheil in this attempt. We understand the risks. I, the Zehara, speak for The Matriarchy of Antares."

A third face appeared, the grave, solemn image of Ambassador Sarek.

"Dr. Cory. I am speaking on behalf of the Vulcan Council as well as myself and she who is my wife. We request, with the Federation’s support and approval, the return of Spock Sareklrn of Vulcan to his native planet, where we understand he will be attended by Dr. Leonard McCoy and Keheil ani Ramy in the attempts to free him from an addiction to the stimulant, cordrazine. Vulcan accepts full responsibility for his welfare once released from Elba II and your care. Peace and long life to you. Sarek Sepaklrn of Vulcan, Ambassador to the Federation."

Cory watched as a look of great pain and sadness came over Spock’s features. The Vulcan whispered “why must you do this to me?” and Cory thought he was talking to him.

“To help you, Spock. To give you a chance to live.”

“I am content to remain on Elba, Doctor,” Spock said, without looking at him. “I do not wish to return, to Vulcan especially. It is my right to die where I choose…” Hollow eyes turned to him. “..or have I forfeited even that?”


“You don’t think for a minute that I’m gonna let you go through with this, do you?” McCoy thundered.

Ruth turned to Jilla. “How do I look?”

Jilla took her eyes from the helm, glanced at the white halter, the flowing, floor-length skirt, and the tumbled mass of golden hair.

“Like a keheil,” she answered. “Please hurry.”

“If you think I’m just gonna idly stand by while you two traitors take Spock away from the care he needs to some godforsaken asteroid…”

“We’ll be back as soon as we can.” Ruth’s voice suddenly changed from harried nervousness to calm, assured richness. “Come, Doctor.”

“You bet I’ll come, and I’ll tell Cory what you’re up to and…”

“No, Doctor. You will remain silent except when asked specific questions.”

“Don’t you threaten me, Ruth Maxwell…

“Or you will die.”

McCoy turned at the suddenly cold, deadly voice that came from the mouth of Jilla Majiir. “I am, I assure you, quite serious.” Her eyes were grey ice, and McCoy found himself doubting that she was as incapable of killing as he knew Ruth was. She nodded at Ruth, and he was following Keheil ani Ramy out of the shuttlecraft.


So far, there hadn’t been any trouble. All the tapes had been perfect, and Elba’s sensors showed a starship in orbit over the planet. McCoy hadn’t said a word, and Cory was being helpful and cooperative. He was such a gentle, caring man that Ruth felt terribly guilty in deceiving him. At this point, she told herself harshly, guilt is the last thing you need. Jilla’s keeping the engines running and you have another abduction to get on with.

She glided elegantly, serenely behind Cory, beside McCoy into a small room. She felt McCoy bristling in anger and grieving pain and prepared herself. She would have to stop any unwanted opposition from him, be ready to silence Spock’s inevitable outburst of recognition, and prevent herself from reacting to the shock she knew she’d feel.

He was laying on his back, in restraints, trembling. Fear was a tangible cocoon around him. His features were drawn, nearly skeletal, his slender body gaunt, the muscles twitching visibly beneath his skin. Cory said, “Spock.” The head turned, the sunken eyes flashed with terror – and something else. Quickly Ruth reached out, mentally suppressing his cry, though it echoed in her mind:


Still, the first glance had been noted.

“He’s terribly afraid,” Cory said softly. “His paranoia makes him certain you’ve come to harm him.” Ruth nodded and turned to McCoy.

“Perhaps you should speak to him, Doctor,” she said. “He knows you.”

McCoy glared inside, but his face showed only concern as he stepped close to the bed. The words came out naturally, and it wasn’t until much later that Ruth realized how much Bones had meant them.

“Spock, it’s McCoy.” The blue eyes stared unwaveringly into the fear and hatred that gleamed from Spock’s. “I’ve – we’ve come to help you. I’m a doctor, I won’t let a patient of mine be harmed. You know that, Spock. Let me help. Let us help. I never figured on outlivin’ that Vulcan constitution of yours, and I don’t plan to start now.” Spock’s ebony eyes were held by the calm intensity. “Spock, we’re here to help, believe that. If you’ve never believed a word I’ve ever said, believe me now.”

McCoy would’ve said more, but the words suddenly refused to be spoken. He turned his head to look accusingly at Ruth. Her eyes held a warning, but her face was a compassionate mask. She heard his faint, uneasy surprise: I scarcely recognize her. There’s not a trace of Ruthie anywhere. Is she only projecting an image, power tempered by wisdom? I have to let Cory know it’s just an illusion, like the taped authorizations, like the sensor image of the ship…

She gave his mind a jolting push, and he stepped aside to make room beside the bed for her.

“There is a herb we use on Antares,” Ruth lied to Cory. “It’s an hallucinogen used in the training of keheils. Experiments are proving that its distillation can be useful in counteracting the violent symptoms caused by overdoses of cortazone and related hormonal agents. I would like to see if it is effective on Commander Spock.”

Cory nodded, and Ruth struggled briefly with McCoy’s mind, trying to reserve enough energy for what she was about to do. She held the hypospray in front of her, showing it to Spock. “There is nothing to fear,” she assured him. “If it does not help, it will not hurt.”

Spock began to struggle, trying to break the restraints. “Keep away from me!” he shouted hoarsely. “Don’t touch me!”

Ruth remained calm, trying to touch the fevered, panic-stricken mind. Ani Ramy, she told him. You do not know me, you will not fear me. All that came back at her was terror, uncontrollable and overwhelming. She steeled herself. She had no time for subtlety or gentleness. “Spock evan Amanda, you will allow this,” she said aloud, stern yet full of caring. She felt McCoy slipping, locked the control down and approached Spock.

He tried to avoid the hypospray, his skin flinching away from the brief contact of Ruth’s fingers. He glared hatred at her, betrayal and desperate fear and she couldn’t afford to feel the anguish it seared into her. If we make it through this, Spock, she thought, it will all be worth it. She knew her face was smiling comfortingly at him, she was capable of a perfect performance…

And why do you think its an act? You’re a keheil, aren’t you?

Yes, she answered firmly, and added yet another task.

The diagnostic scanner above the bed began to move, the readings changing; heart rate slowing, temperature down, blood pressure closer to its normal non-existence.

Cory was suitably impressed. “It’s wonderful, Keheil,” he breathed in awe.

She smiled. “I think we can take him now, Doctor.”

“I’ll call some orderlies..” Cory began.

“That’s not necessary,” she broke in smoothly. “Dr. McCoy and I can handle him quite easily. He should be calm for several hours.”

McCoy nodded an agreement, and Cory smiled, releasing the restraints. Ruth felt Spock beginning to bolt, and she exerted her will, forcing him to rise slowly, as though only a little dazed. McCoy took one arm and she stepped up to Spock, taking the other. She said thank you and goodbye to Dr. Cory, then she and Spock and McCoy were hurrying steadily down the corridor to the landing area of the shuttlecraft, her mind nearly bursting from the exertion of keeping them all calm, controlled and peaceful.


There was no way of knowing how far behind them the Enterprise was. Jilla tried not to think of it as she worked the makeshift computer console that was controlling the false sensor readings. The time ticked by in her head as she kept herself busy with the technical aspects of the shuttle’s engines and cloak. She refused to consider the possibility that they would not be successful. While it was true that McCoy would do everything in his power to warn Cory, that Spock would hardly cooperate with his own abduction, she trusted in Ruth’s abilities to handle any emergency situation that might arise. It was her job to insure that they would be able to lift off from Elba and once again disappear before their deceptions were discovered.

There was a whining beginning in the engines, and Jilla trusted Ruth’s expertise with even make-shift computers and quickly went to the back of the shuttle. The anti-gravity units she had installed to keep the new, delicate warp nacelles from actually touching the casings that were never meant to hold matter and anti-matter were beginning to fail, overloading the impulse engines. Once they could again activate warp drive, the additional pull on the impulse engines would cease, but it had to last until they were out of Elba’s orbit. She grabbed a toolkit and improvised a new power connection. The whining stopped.

She returned to the helm just as three figures began racing across the deserted bay area, one obviously being supported by the other two. She slid open the hatch. The craft was already beginning to move as a breathless Ruth pulled Spock into the shuttle, then grabbed a turning McCoy.

GO!” she shouted.

"Going!" Jilla replied, ignoring McCoy’s shouts and Spock’s protests, letting Ruth handle that as she engaged the engines, lifting the shuttle from the surface of Elba II.


Dr. Jade Han had hurriedly cleared her calendar of all her patients and had put aside her monograph on Cygnian psychology. She contacted Starfleet and informed them of her availability to aid in the treatment of Commander Spock on Elba II. When she was told that there would be no treatment, she was appalled and took her indignation straight to the Chief Surgeon. He informed her that while it was a tragedy, there was nothing that could be done. She knew as well as he did that cordrazine addiction was incurable. She had pointed out that there had never before been a case of addiction in a Vulcan, and to assume Terran models would be adequate was more than absurd, it bordered on the criminal. He accepted her logic, and granted her permission to serve as Commander Spock’s therapist and physician on Elba, providing that Dr. Cory approved. So Jade contacted Elba and spoke to Cory, who, as she expected, welcomed her assistance with his usual open caring.

Thus it was with the deepest disappointment that she arrived on Elba, only to be informed that Commander Spock had been given over to the care of a keheil less than twenty-four hours previously.

“I tried to contact you, Dr. Han,” Cory said apologetically, “but everything happened so fast…”

“Yes, it did,” Jade returned. “Still, what better hope for a cure than with a keheil?”

And she accepted that it was only her particular affection for and relationship with Spock, coupled with her naturally suspicious nature, that gave her pause.


“Lieutenant, do you know what you are doing? I am a madman. I will kill you.” Spock’s voice was calm enough, though his eyes darted around the interior of the shuttlecraft, frightened and close to panic. He was seated on the cot in the back of the shuttle, his hands clenching and unclenching nervously.

“You are not mad,” Ruth stated flatly, her set face denying argument. “You never have been. You never will be.”

“Lieutenant Valley declares it, it must be so.”

“You’re Vulcan. That makes it so.”

His head turned, his eyes moving away from her. “Sometimes,” he whispered, “even being Vulcan is not enough.”

This is a hell of a time to discover what you should’ve always known, Ruth growled to herself. It was tragic to force Vulcan on him, to push him to be logical, emotionless and strong when there was no strength in him. She knew how vulnerable he was. For any other sickness she could have used it to help him. Now she had to force the cold steel of his nature to the surface, for it was the only way he was going to break the addiction. Though she felt she was betraying him and herself, her duty was to heal, whatever the means, whatever her personal feelings.

Her hand reached out to touch his shoulder. He jumped under her fingers, but she pushed him gently back down to the cot. She spoke softly, calmly, but not reassuringly. “The withdrawal symptoms will begin soon. We have no cordrazine with us. You’ll either live or die. I’ll help you as much as I can, and so will Bones. He can sedate you some of the time, but you’re going to have to fight this. I can take some of the pain, but I don’t know about the hallucinations or the paranoia. We know you’re going to be violent, and we’ll restrain you when we have to. But you are strong, you are Vulcan, and you can do this. Try to remember it.”

Spock’s eyes were closed in his hollow, averted face. She reached out again to stroke his temple, to try again to give the reassurance with a touch, but caught herself and pulled her hand back. She had to keep reminding him that he was Vulcan, and no Vulcan wanted to be touched. Jilla, perhaps, would be allowed that kind of small intimacy, but it was not for one who was not his mate. She rested her hands in her lap, wanting to clasp them nervously together, but forcing the tension back. She was, must be the calm, serene, wise, patient healer for as long as possible.

If he doesn’t live, if he can’t make it…

Don’t ever think that. The future must be measured in seconds now. Live through one, and hope to live through the next.

And if he does die, you, keheil, will die with him.


Another scream came from the back of the shuttle and Jilla jumped, causing the ship to lurch forward as her fingers jarred the controls. They had plotted their course for an asteroid belt twenty-four hours out from Elba at warp two, intending to use the clutter to help hide them while they attempted to cure Spock. The ship had already dropped out of warp and she begrudged every second of impulse power they had to use in maneuvering.

The blips started to appear on the sensor grid, and Jilla set the scanner to find an asteroid large enough to have a stable rotation. Then she had to maneuver to it, land, check the life support systems and…

Spock again cried out, and the craft shuddered. Jilla closed her eyes, ordering her hands to stop shaking. “Hey, Majiir,” Ruth’s voice called, already tired and edgy, “you want to cut it out? We’ve got enough to cope with without the ship falling apart.”

And I suppose I have nothing whatever to cope with? The retort formed in Jilla’s mind, reacting to Ruth’s emotions, but she said nothing. The shuttlecraft dove into the asteroid belt and Jilla put the deflector screens up. The scanner showed a suitable landing place, a stable, slowly rotating asteroid about five thousand kilometers in diameter. Jilla did her best to block out the noise and emotions from the back of the craft and began the descent. Dr. McCoy flopped in the seat next to her.

“Can you hurry it up, Ensign,” he asked. “We can’t keep him immobilized for much longer.” He rubbed at his face and eyes. “Ruth’s exhausted and I’m not feeling particularly energetic myself.”

“I’m landing now,” Jilla answered. She took her eyes off the controls for only a moment. “Doctor, I am glad you’re helping us.”

McCoy scowled, “I’m a doctor,” he said, “As long as I’m here, I’m not about to ignore a patient. If that makes me an accessory to everything you girls have done… I just hope it’s worth it.”

There was a roar from behind them and Ruth shouted, “Bones!” McCoy jumped up from his seat and Jilla concentrated on the control board.

The ship settled surprisingly easily, considering the helmsman was quaking and near to tears. Spock had begun shouting at Ruth and McCoy in Vulcan, and Jilla had the misfortune to be able to understand his words. He snarled tra’gentik, ‘death-skilled,’ a thing no doctor or keheil should be called, for it denoted a healer who used his arts to torture and destroy. M’lkta’fee was the ancient term he had hissed at her on the Bridge of the Enterprise. The fact that he was obviously applying it to Ruth, and what that said about his feelings toward her would only have made it more difficult for Ruth if the Antari knew what it meant. M’lkta’fee was mate-betrayer, a woman who killed her mate while he was helpless in the madness of the Time. She was well aware of how applicable the insult was when aimed at her, but it was a pain she was not yet prepared to deal with.

She left the helm, stepping quickly past the raving Vulcan and checked the batteries. They had enough power for two weeks before they would have to activate the dylithium crystals and warp engines for life support. That meant moving, and it would be impossible to cure Spock while trying to fly the make-shift craft.

Two weeks and a matter of hours, she thought. She glanced at McCoy, stretched out across Spock’s arms, and Ruth, her hands clutching firmly at Spock’s head. How can we hope to cure him in that amount of time? No, we cannot. But we can keep him alive long enough to break the addiction. That is as much as we can do, all we can hope to do.


Spock was again shouting, his voice again harsh Vulcan fury. They had been on the asteroid for a little less than a day, most of that time spent in dealing with the beginnings of Spock's withdrawal symptoms.

“Jilla, for god’s sake, get over here!” McCoy shouted. Jilla closed off her own pain and despair and knelt beside Spock.

“Talk to him in Vulcan,” Ruth gasped out. “Maybe it will get through to him!”

“What’s he sayin’, anyway?” McCoy added. Jilla’s glance made Ruth shake her head.

“We don’t want to know, Bones.”

Jilla took a deep breath. “Spock, con hwri r’ln-et kah eu’na, Jenshahni krsc et.”

Spock turned fevered, fear-filled eyes to her. “Jenshahni klee kroyan!

Jenshahni kali’en kroyan!” Jilla said sternly. “Terra en klee-fah!

Spock closed his eyes, his muscles relaxing. He was still shaking, but he was no longer fighting. McCoy sighed and sat up. Ruth let herself sag into a heap beside the bed.

“What did you say to him?” McCoy asked.

“I told him he was Vulcan,” Jilla replied softly. “He denied it. I insisted. I told him to deny his Human half.” She turned her gaze to Ruth. “It is what I am supposed to do, is it not?”

Ruth nodded wearily. “We have to get him fighting with us, using his Vulcan strength for rather than against us.”

Jilla helped Ruth to her feet. “His control won’t last long, but I think, Ruth, that you should rest when you can. When the doctor and I can deal adequately with him, it will save your strength for the times we cannot.” Ruth made no reply. She simply went to one of the chairs at the front of the craft. McCoy’s eyes were closed, his head drooping forward.

Even a few moments will do him some good, Jilla thought, and surely, I can care for Spock for that long. She shook the doctor gently, guiding the half-awake man to the remaining chair, then turned and went back to Spock. His head jerked violently to one side every few seconds, and Jilla found herself wishing she could have mastered the techniques of mind touch as quickly as she had mastered Vulcan’s language. But I am no telepath, and sensitivity only reaches emotions…

She felt Spock’s hand grasping her arm.

Rilain,” he whispered, his voice hoarse and weak, “it is hopeless. It cannot be done.”

She kept her face calm. “We intend to try, Commander.”

He gripped her arm harder. “I do not wish it.”

“You wish to remain addicted to cordrazine?” She filled her voice with offended Vulcan sensitivity. He was trembling, his eyes dark pools of anguish.

“I wish peace. Give me the drug, let me die, but leave me in peace!”

“We will do neither, Commander,” she returned, “and when next you know peace, it will come from the joy of logic, not a hypospray or a coffin.”

“I do not have the strength!” Spock thundered.


There was a silver light before him, trying to pierce him with cold. It sparkled and danced, calling to him, frozen enchantment, beautiful and deadly. He shivered. He needed warmth. Where could he find it in this hard, frosty light? Where was the sun, what had happened to the life-giving rays of the deep, sand-red sun? There was only grey above him, and before him nothing but the silver light that gave no heat. There was no blackness, no stars or moons, not the cold of night, but not day. No sun. Had the silver ice swallowed it? What had happened to the sun?!?


“McCoy!” Jilla shouted as she tried to hold the wildly thrashing Vulcan on the cot. “McCoy!!”

Kan hwr qi Jenshahn!” Spock screamed. Where is the sun?

McCoy stumbled over to the bed, running the medical scanner quickly over him. “Chills,” he stated. “His temperature is 116. Get some more blankets, I’ll pump some antibiotics into him.” He took over the job of keeping Spock on the bed, and Jilla rushed to their supplies.


The silver light was racing away, but it was replaced by metal; icy, glacial, blue metal. It held him, freezing him. He grabbed at it. Tear it away, get to the sun!


McCoy choked as Spock’s hands went around his throat. He managed a rasping shout. Jilla turned. Ruth opened her eyes. The two reached the cot at the same time. Ruth pulled at Spock’s hands, frantically projecting calm and serenity. Jilla grabbed Spock’s head, forcing his eyes to her. “Kroykah!” she commanded harshly.

The word of cessation stopped him. Jilla pulled McCoy away and Spock started screaming as Ruth began to take the fever.


“Doctor, are you all right?” Jilla asked.

“Yes, fine,” McCoy answered, rubbing his throat. ‘Jilla, we can’t keep this up. We have to have him restrained.”

Jilla sighed. She had wanted to avoid that for as long as possible. To restrain him would only give evidence that he could not control himself, and they needed every ounce of proof that he was strong that they could provide. But the hallucinations were just beginning. They were able to help him deal with his pain only as long as they could communicate with him. With him lost in other places and other times, it would be a long battle simply to get through to his mind. His strength was too great to rely on always reaching him before he did serious damage to them or to the shuttle itself. She nodded wearily.

Ruth pulled away from Spock, her head and arms resting on the bed. They were both shivering.

“Cold,” Ruth mumbled.

McCoy covered her with a blanket and Jilla began fastening the heavy set of restraining straps to Spock’s arms, legs, and across his chest. She spoke quietly, soothingly to him.

Suddenly Ruth screamed, her voice filled with terror as she clawed at McCoy. He jumped back, startled, and she began to frantically crawl toward the bulkhead, tearing feverishly at the deck and anything in her way. She reached the hatch and grasped at it, trying to pull it open.

“Ruth, no!” Jilla screamed and raced to her. McCoy was already pulling at her and she shouted hoarse, stilted words.

R’ln-et kah’l kan Jenshahn!

“What the…” McCoy began.

“Doctor, hit her!” Jilla cried, fiercely battling Ruth’s clutching hands away from the hatch lock. McCoy grabbed Ruth’s shoulders, turned her, and slapped her lightly across the face. She shrieked and McCoy hesitated. “Doctor!” Jilla demanded.

“Ruth, come out of it, come on, Ruthie!” McCoy cried desperately. He was shaking her and Jilla grasped her and slapped her twice, hard and furiously. Ruth’s body stiffened, then collapsed into McCoy’s arms.

“She was caught in Spock’s hallucination, Doctor,” Jilla explained raggedly. “I know of no other way to break the mental concentration.”

“She was worried about that, about the hallucinations,” McCoy said, He was stroking Ruth’s hair, rocking her gently, almost unconsciously.

“It appears she will go through them with him,” Jilla said.

McCoy looked up at her. “Will it do him any good when she does?”

Jilla glanced at the cot where Spock lay shivering, moaning almost inaudibly. “Unfortunately, Doctor, I do not think so,” she answered quietly.

“Then what’s the use of going on?”

Jilla was silent. McCoy sighed. “Never mind. I know the answer.”

I am glad you do, Doctor, Jilla thought wearily, for I am beginning to doubt there is one. So much depends on Ruth, and keheil though she is, even she has limits. And if she fails… we will all die together.

Her mind conjured up images of the Kirk-thing, and it hardened her resolve. There was one person who’s fate depended on their not failing. All this was to rescue James Kirk, to save him from the thing that possessed him. Federation officer, wife of a Vulcan she was, but she was born in an Empire. Imperial children who became Imperial adults did not do so by giving in or giving up.

“Let Ruth rest,” she said to McCoy. “While Spock is quiet, we have work to do.”

“I’m a doctor, not a…”

“You are whatever we have need of for the next two weeks,” Jilla said sharply. “I will teach you how to monitor the screen and the batteries. Someone needs to check them every three hours.”

McCoy grumbled, but he eased Ruth’s body to the deck, tucked the blanket around her, and followed Jilla.


“Here. Drink,” Jilla said.

Ruth sat up, gratefully accepting the cup of coffee. "How long was I...?" she began.

"Only a few hours," Jilla replied, then asked softly, “Was it bad?”

“Bad enough,” Ruth nodded. “I was so cold… he was, really, but…” Her voice trailed off. “Where’s Bones,” she said at last.

“With Spock,” Jilla sighed. “The antibiotics are not working. Dr. McCoy believes that if we could keep his fever down, he will…”

McCoy, you will die for this!

Ruth jumped up, spilling her coffee. Jilla turned to the bed. McCoy’s eyes were blazing with contempt.

“Control it, Vulcan!” he spat.

Spock was straining, his muscles pulling at the straps. He saw Ruth and snarled, “You are to heal me, ani Ramy! Where is your god-like power?!”

“It is within you, Spock,” Ruth answered calmly. “I aid only the symptoms. This sickness you must fight.”

“Give me a weapon, then!” he pleaded.

Ruth bowed her head and stepped toward him. He moaned, his body tensing. She touched him and he gasped. “The pain…” he hissed, and began writhing. “Please, stop the pain…”

Ruth’s face took on an identical grimace, and Jilla and McCoy watched in horrified silence as her voice took up the litany of agony.

“… hurts… too much… too fast! Pounding, sharp… please, I can’t take…. need it!” Her teeth clenched. “I – need – it! Death – the – only – way – out! Let – me – die… without pain…” A gasp. “It hurts!” Screaming. “Give me the drug!” Quiet desperation. “Please, there is too much pain!” Agony. “Help me!

Ruth pulled away, her hands grasping at nothing, screaming. Spock roared like a tortured animal, then fell to anguished sobbing.

Jilla quickly knelt beside Ruth, letting the clutching fingers grasp her own arm. There were a few seconds of painful pressure, then the violet eyes cleared and Ruth collapsed with the release of Spock’s pain.


Ruth sat silently conserving energy, trying to ignore the soft moans that came from the cot. Spock was asleep and though she knew he was dreaming, those nightmares were healthy and cleansing. It was only the waking hallucinations she had to deal with. Jilla was tinkering with the life support system. The amount of oxygen consumed the past three days had been too much for the recycling circuits to handle efficiently. Fortunately, Jilla was sure it could be adjusted. Ruth hoped she’d be finished before Spock woke again. After the last bout with him, the atmosphere was getting a little stifling.

She caught McCoy staring worriedly at her, and smiled wanly, too tired to verbalize that she was all right. Tired? You think you’re tired? You think you know the meaning of that word yet?

Shut up, she told herself, but the thought reminded her that she had better eat. Her stomach was tender but wretchedly empty. She rose and made her way to the storage locker. Jilla was standing on it, craning around the miniaturized syncrotron unit to reach the air filtration controls.

“You want to move for a minute?” Ruth said, her tone sounding much more irritated than she intended. “I’m hungry.”

“If you want to breathe for the next week…” Jilla began, her own voice filled with frustrated annoyance.

“I could help, y’know.”

“I can handle it,” Jilla snapped. “I designed it.”

“Not by yourself, you didn’t,” Ruth mumbled.

Jilla glared down at her. “And of course, you need credit for everything…” she said, and her usually soft voice dripped sarcasm.

The implication stung, “Just when it’s due, Majiir,” Ruth snarled, just as caustically.

“Due?” Jilla rejoined. “You were content to let him die!”

That stung even worse. “You think he won’t!?” Ruth seethed.

“As if you cared!” Jilla growled.

“You goddamned…”

“Both of you shut the hell up!” McCoy thundered. Both Ruth and Jilla turned. “Majiir, get off that locker!”

“I am doing very delicate work, doctor,” Jilla replied tightly. “If I stop now, it could overload life support.”

“Well then, why didn’t you just tell Ruthie that?”

“‘Ruthie’ didn’t ask,” Jilla snarled.

“You jumped all over me!” Ruth blazed.

“After you ordered me to move…”

“Well, Ensign…”

“Valley, learn some patience, will ya?!” McCoy shouted.

Ruth turned her anger on him. “Keep out of it, McCoy!”

How?! We’re crammed in here like goddamn sardines! I can’t ignore two damn fool women screeching over absurdities in a sardine can, can I?! Hell, I didn’t ask to be here!” He pointed to Spock. “And neither did he! You think he can’t hear you? Well, let me tell you both a thing or two. He’s Vulcan, cordrazine addict or not, and he’s aware of everything that goes on around him, whether it registers with him or not, and if, I say if he lives he’s gonna remember every damn fool thing you say!” He glared at them both. “And it’ll serve you both right!”

Jilla and Ruth were staring sheepishly at the deck.

Jilla looked up. ‘I will be finished in another minute or two, Ruth,” she murmured.

“No hurry, Jilla,” Ruth returned, just as mildly. McCoy grunted in satisfaction and went back to the front of the shuttle.


Go to Part Seven

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