Witch Hunt

(original story by C Petterson and S Sizemore)
Rewritten by Cheryl Petterson

(Standard Year 2248)

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"At this distance, communications are almost instantaneous."

"Most interesting, Miss Uhura."

"This frequency is reserved for priority..."

"Miss Uhura, were you the communications officer on duty during the Kelincar mission... I believe it was a year ago?"

"No, Commissioner, I was in the landing party. Lieutenant M'ress handled that."


"...the coordinates are fed into the computer and our course is automatically set. Then the helm takes over the actual implementation."

"You're a very efficient officer, Mr. Riley."

"Thank you, Commissioner."

"Was it you who piloted this ship through the Minerva Nova some three years ago?"

"You mean when Commodore April was on board?"

"Yes, Mr. Riley, that's exactly when I mean."

"No, sir, that was Lieutenant Arex."


"...communications can be handled from this station, these controls will send out a hailing..."

"Convenient for, say, the Chief of Sciences, or the First Officer. This is his usual station, isn't it, Miss Gollub?"

"Uh... yeah... but what has that..."

"Excuse me, Lieutenant, my mind was wandering. I was thinking of our first renewed contact with the Romulans. A hailing signal was sent from this station then, wasn't it?

"By accident, yes, but..."

"By, I believe, Commander Spock. A Vulcan accident. How unusual."


"I beg your pardon?"

"Sorry, my mind was wandering."


"She's a very efficient assistant to Mr. Spock. Sometimes he accuses us of not being able to run anything without Ruth Valley praying over the computers."

"Really, Mr. Ordona?"

"Yeah, just like the Captain always likes to blame her for everything that goes wrong - even when it's not her fault."

"Is it her fault often?"

"Well, the Captain thinks so."


"Is that the Chutzpah, Mr. Scott?"

"Aye, isn't she a beauty? Just like the lass that designed her."

"Lieutenant Costain - excuse me, Majiir."

"Aye. Finest assistant I've ever had. She knows this ship as well as I do, and she can keep it runnin'..."

"Does she, Mr. Scott? Keep it running, I mean."

"Oh, aye, she's handled engineering by herself. A fine lass, sir, fine."

"She `handled' the ship during the unfortunate incidents surrounding the excavation on Shas, didn't she, Mr. Scott."


"They're beautiful, but they're delicate. So much power in them, and they can withstand so little strain..."

"You once completely burned out your warp engines, didn't you, Mr. Miller."

"Yes, trying to deflect an asteroid from Amerind."

"Were you the officer in charge of monitoring the crystals at that time?"

"No, I believe Lieutenant Mrraal was at that station."

"Repairs went badly, didn't they?"

"We had to be towed back to a base. The crystals had to be replaced. There was nothing we could do."


"The Caitian female was handling communications on a delicate mission and contact with the landing party was lost. The Edoan dove the ship into a nova, no doubt at the request of that renegade, April. The Vulcan `accidentally' told an enemy the Enterprise's position. The Moon Priestess has made herself indispensable, no doubt through some intricate sabotage of the ship's computers, or her own alien powers. The Indiian used her position as Scott's assistant to pilfer equipment used in building a warp shuttle. No one here has to be told to what use those are put. And the Caitian engineer helped the Vulcan burn out the engines when the Captain was stranded on a doomed planet."

"It all adds up. We were right to relieve them of duty."


"Gentlemen, Miss Gollub, please be seated."

Daffy Gollub, Pavel Chekov, and Sulu exchanged puzzled glances but took seats opposite the commissioners. They were all officially off duty for the evening, but the commissions' summons couldn't be ignored.

"Is there some kind of trouble with..." Daffy began.

"Please, Miss Gollub. All we want is your cooperation."

Sulu deliberately cleared his throat at the word. Davis scowled.

"Cooperation for what, sir?" Chekov asked respectfully.

"Your - roommates," Davis said, with a significant glance at Sulu, "have been relieved of duty, for the time being." He nodded at Sulu's frown. "As you, of course, are already aware, Lieutenant. A simple protective measure, I assure you," he added, to stop any questions. It didn't work.

"Who's it protecting?" Daffy wanted to know.

"Why, this ship, of course, Miss Gollub," Hashi replied.

"What we want from you is very simple," Davis went on. "Keep a casual watch and report any behavior that strikes you as - peculiar." He held up a hand to stop the flurry of protests. "Please, be patient. What we're doing involves no less than the security of the Federation, and all information is strictly classified on a need to know basis. Your roommates are under only marginal suspicion, again, over something we're not at liberty to discuss freely. We simply wish to keep our investigation from becoming the topic of shipwide gossip and speculation." He smiled, but it wasn't reassuring. "We're not conducting a witch hunt here."

Daffy folded her arms, her jaw determinedly set. Pavel looked at her, and at Sulu's veiled eyes and deliberately emotionless expression. "Federation security?" he asked, uneasily.

"Need to know, Mr. Chekov," Davis replied.

"If we're supposed to be your spies, don't we need to know what to look for?" Daffy returned.

"I hardly think the word `spy' is appropriate, Miss Gollub."

"Yeah? What would you call it? Informer? Stool Pigeon? Ratfink?"

"Daphne...!" Chekov admonished.

"My - roommate - " Sulu said, "hasn't done anything to warrant..."

"Do you know that for certain, Mr. Sulu?" Hashi asked.

"I do live with her."

"But you aren't with her twenty-four hours a day, Lieutenant."

"Who says?" Daffy muttered. Sulu scowled at her.

"Lieutenants," Davis broke in. "I understand this is a difficult thing to ask of you. But it is - let me repeat that - it IS for the security of the United Federation of Planets; a body which you have all taken oaths to protect."

"So have they," Daffy said, and was ignored.

"We'd like this to be voluntary on your parts, but given the importance of this matter, we can and will ask Admiral Bradigan to make it an order."

The three officers exchanged uncomfortable glances, then sighed. No choice unless they wanted to spend their remaining careers in the brig. They nodded reluctantly at the commissioners.

"But we don't like it," Daffy added.

Davis smiled, and again it chilled. "Nor do we. Thank you, Lieutenants. That's all."


Spock was not surprised at the findings of a few minutes of research. After leaving the science lab, he had gone immediately to his quarters. Relieved of duty and the work he would normally be doing, he had time to use the library computer to look for the information he needed. He checked the transporter and security logs and got the names of the commissioners: Belinkov, Chanti, Davis, Hashi, and Jung, fairly minor bureaucrats. Not Federation representatives, but all members of the United Nations of Earth government. All members of a minority party officially called `Elihuites,' but more popularly known as the Heinlienist Movement. The name `Elihuite' was derived from a work of Terran speculative history from that planet's mid-twentieth century. The work glorified the superiority of the dominant Terran life form. This idea was mistakenly applied to the author of the work, one R.J Heinlien, hence the popular nome de plume. The Elihuites were in complete accord with the view of Terran dominance. They were also opposed to the growing number of non-Humans in Terran-dominated Starfleet. And to the Aprilist Movement that was attracting the non-Humans into Fleet.

It was speculation, Spock had to admit, that the commissioners were searching for any means possible to discredit the non-Human crewmembers of the Enterprise, and that they wanted to find some link to use to discredit Commodore April. Spock, however, had no doubt that the speculation was accurate. It had been purely coincidental that the April Movement had its beginnings on board the Enterprise. But the commissioners would see a connection between many unrelated facts and incidents if they were fanatical enough. And it was obvious to Spock that they were, indeed, fanatics. He had called their questioning “Star Chamber proceedings,” after the infamous interrogations conducted in Terra’s British history. In those proceedings, the conclusion had been arrived at before questioning even began. Spock was certain the commissioners were just as biased and just as close-minded. It was obvious why Admiral Bradigan was sent with the commissioners. Were James Kirk the highest authority on the ship, their `investigation' would be halted, and quickly. Though Spock knew Jim was not in sympathy with some Aprilist sentiments, he also knew the captain was not a fool.

His thoughts went back to the confrontation on the Bridge, only minutes after the captain and Admiral Bradigan had left. Sulu had approached him, standing stiffly in front of him, his face set, his eyes conveying hesitation and apology.

"I've been ordered to tell you, sir, that you've been relieved of all further duty for an indefinite period of time, effective immediately."

Spock sighed, switching off his computer terminal. The lieutenant hadn't realized that his answer, "Of course, Mr. Sulu," had been merely an acknowledgment of the inevitable. Did no one else realize what was going on?


Jilla sat at her desk, trying to get some work done. She was too upset and confused to go with Ruth for dinner. Her sensitivity, the sensing of emotions which was peculiar to the Indiian race, made her vulnerable to the mood of those around her. She tried and was usually successful in sorting that from her own emotional reactions, but when it became as strong as the anxiety that now filled the ship... Not even the Vulcan disciplines could shield her. She wanted to wait for Sulu. Perhaps he knew more. The tension would be more bearable if she could understand it. The door opened and the words that greeted her only deepened her bewilderment, and her fear.

"All right, what did you do?"

She blinked. "I? Nothing."

Sulu threw his boot halfway across the room, following it with the other, and his tunic. "You can tell me, I'm off duty, thank god," he grumbled.

Jilla stood, moving from behind the desk. "What has happened?" she asked.

"That's what I'd like to know," Sulu countered. "Federation commissioners don't relieve two of the most notorious hawkeyes in Fleet for `nothing.'"

Jilla gripped the desk, her irritation a reflection of his, but she said nothing.

Sulu stalked across the cabin to the closet, yanking out a civilian kimono. "Did you break out some political prisoners while you were at Elba, or maybe a few more incurably crazy people?" He stomped to the bed, throwing the robe on to it. "Sabotage some Federation defense system?" Again he crossed to the dresser. "Come on, Jilla, I'm the Chief of Security. I'll find out eventually."

Jilla's face had gone from confused to put-upon, to bitter, and finally to anger, and she was glowing furiously. "Mister Sulu, I - we did nothing, whether or not you are the Chief of Security!"

Sulu stopped his angry pacing and took a deep breath. He hadn't intended to make Jilla angry, he'd just needed to say something nasty to somebody. "Hey, I'm sorry, hon," he told her quietly. "I believe you. It's just been one hell of a bad day."

Jilla nodded, calming herself. "Of course, my love," she replied. Her voice was still tight, and Sulu felt abruptly guilty. After all, he hadn't been relieved of duty for no reason. He went to the desk, taking Jilla into his arms.

"I am sorry, Jilla. The commissioners make me twitchy. I didn't mean to take it out on you." He felt her relax in his embrace as both their emotions settled.

"They have been insulting," Jilla responded softly.

Sulu pulled away. "They insulted you?" he asked. "How?"

There was a pause. "Concerning - that of which we do not speak," she replied, her voice nearly inaudible.

Sulu frowned. "You weren't even in Fleet then. What could anything you did then have to do with..."

Jilla's emotions suddenly flared. "I did nothing!" she cried.

Sulu startled, then sighed deeply, holding her more tightly. "I know, hon. I didn't mean... They asked me to watch you. They said it was a matter of Federation security. But anything you... that happened then couldn't possibly..."

"Have you no faith in me?" Jilla asked, her eyes filled with quiet, familiar pain.

Sulu sighed again. "Of course I do. I know you wouldn't keep anything from me. What they're doing is what I don't know. And it's upsetting both of us. Come on, let's just forget it." He held her until she again relaxed in his arms. "Friends?" She nodded, smiling slightly. He hugged her, muttering, "Damned civilians," then winced as he realized he’d used the one epithet that was bound to upset her all over again. When she much-too-softly replied. “agreed," he refused to acknowledge what her agreement meant.


Ruth yawned exaggeratedly as she waited for the turbolift. She was yawning because Daphne Gollub had spent the night living up to her nickname. The woman was, indeed, 'daffy.' Every half hour during the night, Daffy's alarm had gone off and Ruth would turn to find that Daffy was staring at her. When she asked what Daffy was doing, she was told, "I'm watching you. I was told to. Pav's watching Arex and Sulu's watching Jilla, not that he ever does much of anything else. Do something subversive so I can get some sleep." Ruth had told her that she had a very odd sense of humor. Daffy had replied, "So did Tail-gunner Joe." It had been a very long night.

The turbo car arrived, and she stepped in beside Sulu and Jilla. Ruth scowled. "More duty, Roy? Back to the senseless questions?"

Jilla looked pleadingly at her, but Ruth ignored it.

"No," Sulu replied tersely. "I just wanted to spend a last few moments with Jilla before I have to report."

"Keeping an eye on her, huh? Like a good herbert?"

"Ruth...!" Jilla exclaimed softly.

"Look, Spike, this isn't my fault."

"Who's carrying out the orders?"

"I don't see you reporting for duty."

"I was relieved, this is your choice."

"Choice? Since when is following orders a choice?"

"You could refuse and get relieved with us," Ruth replied sweetly.

"And spend the next year or so in the brig," Sulu returned just as sweetly. "You're damn near taking a rec day."

"Sulu... Ruth... please...!" Jilla whispered.

The car stopped, and Sulu turned to Jilla, kissing her forehead. "I have to go. See you for lunch. Love you, hon." He glanced at Ruth. "Go kill something, maybe you'll feel better."

"Go follow orders, herbert!" Ruth called after him as the door once again closed.

"Ruth, I do not understand..." Jilla began.

"Oh, hell, I know," Ruth interrupted. "It just makes me so damn mad..."

"But it is not his doing."

Ruth shrugged. "Maybe it's my Human blood. We have a long history of blaming the messenger." She looked at Jilla's anxious face, then sighed. "So I'll apologize later." After a moment of brooding silence, she brightened. "You want to go swimming?"

"If you wish," was Jilla's quiet reply.

Ruth frowned. Her friend was turning in on herself, never a good sign. Well, she'd cheer up once they got into the pool. Ruth knew how much Jilla loved to swim. It was one other thing they had in common. Comes from both being from planets with lots of water, she mused.

It was almost eerie, being alone in the locker room. Usually the only time one could indulge oneself in activities like swimming was off-duty - when everyone else was engaging in the same activities. She beat Jilla to the pool and was about to dive in when she saw M'ress and Mrraal lounging at the sun-deck. She turned to Jilla, who was just approaching the water.

"Hey, don't M'ress and Mrraal have first watch duty?" she asked.

"I believe so," Jilla replied.

"Well, there they are. Rec day, maybe. You think?"

Jilla's eyes were uneasy. "I am certain I do not know, Ruth."

Ruth frowned, remembering Sulu's words; ...there are a few other people... "Come on," she said, grabbing Jilla's arm.

M'ress looked up at their approach. "What are you two doing here?" she purred.

"Don't you have first watch duty?" Mrraal asked.

"We are not on duty," Jilla replied.

"We were relieved," Ruth added, not pleasantly.

"So were we," M'ress admitted.

"What did you do?" Ruth wanted to know.

M'ress shrugged. "I don't know. Sulu simply said..."

"I know what we did," Mrraal muttered.

"Oh?" Jilla inquired uneasily.

"What are you four doing..." Arex's voice began.

"You too?" came the exclamation of surprise.

Arex looked around. "Apparently. Me too what?"

"Relieved of duty by Security Chief Sulu," Ruth explained, her voice dry.

Arex nodded. "Yesterday. But he wouldn't tell me why. And I asked him more than once."

"I asked him, too," M'ress said. "I would never have thought that Sulu would keep things from me."

"That confirms it," Mrraal said, almost to himself.

"Confirms what?" M'ress replied in a tone that indicated she'd heard it before and didn't want to hear it again.

"You said you knew what we did," Ruth prompted.

"I do," Mrraal stated, ignoring M'ress' growling.


"We were born on the wrong planets."


McCoy stepped into his office shaken, angry, and confused. He'd been roused too early by a too serious Lieutenant Sulu and escorted into an old-fashioned third degree.

"You are Dr. Leonard McCoy?" the head of the commission, a man named Davis had asked, politely.

"I am," McCoy replied.

"Chief Medical Officer of the U.S.S. Enterprise?"

"I'm sure you already know that."

"Just a formality, Doctor," Davis assured him.

"Where are you from, originally, Doctor?" Commissioner Belinkov asked.

"Earth, the city of Atlanta on the North American continent."

"You're divorced, aren't you, Doctor?"

McCoy had found the question a little odd, but didn't mind answering it. "From my first wife, yes. I have a grown daughter from that marriage."

"You have a second wife?"

McCoy scowled. It was no business of theirs. Still, the order was to cooperate.... "Yes, I have."

The politeness left Belinkov's voice. "Her name?"


"A Fleet officer?"

"No, no, she's, well, I suppose she's a Fabrini. But she's from a ship culture that calls itself Yonada."

"Thank you, Doctor," Davis said, apparently checking some notes. "Am I correct in assuming your relationship with First Officer Spock is not one of over friendliness?"

"Now I wouldn't say that, exactly..." McCoy had protested mildly.

"And you also have reservations about working with Lieutenant Cos- Majiir?"

"I never said..."

"Yet you do enjoy Lieutenant Valley's company. Why is that, Doctor?"

McCoy bristled. "Ruthie's like a daughter to me, and what's one got to do with the other?"

Davis had ignored his question. "Then we could correctly state it is Vulcans in particular that you find - objectionable."

"Now see here! All that fighting that goes on is all in fun, a friendly enemy sort of thing. Spock and Mrs. Majiir both know I don't mean it and..."

"A fitting phrase, Doctor. Friendly enemy. That will be all for now. We are pleased that, even if unconsciously, you recognize the danger. We would, however, advise you to scrutinize Miss Valley as carefully." Davis had paused. "And your Natira."

McCoy's jaw had snapped shut in indignation and he'd spun on his heel, storming out of the briefing room. A short walk through the ship had intensified his indignation. Rumors and unpleasant speculation were rampant, speculations that were highly unflattering to the people mentioned in his 'interview' with the commission. He didn't understand, either the rumors or why someone hadn't stopped the gossip - that someone being Jim Kirk. He realized that he hadn't even seen Jim since early the day before. He called Captain's quarters and requested a visit to Sickbay at his earliest convenience. He was irritably informed that it would be a while. Besides the commission, Admiral Bradigan had dumped on Jim Kirk a request from Fleet for the captain's personal evaluation of all ship's personnel. It entailed many hours of review - and the captain was going to be very busy for quite some time. McCoy made it a medical order.


"You wanted this?" McCoy held out a glass half-full of emerald liquid before the captain had time to shout. Kirk sighed, relenting, his annoyance disappearing.

"Thanks, Bones," he said as he took the glass and drained it.

McCoy waited until Kirk had finished the Saurian brandy before saying, "There's a lot of tension on board this ship, Jim."

"That's not tension, Bones, that's cooperation."

"Spell it any way you like, Captain."

Kirk shook his head. "I've asked Poul. I get the run around. And with all this damn paperwork... I don't even know what's happening on my own ship."

"Maybe you don't, but everyone else seems to think they do."

"Tell me, Doctor, what have you heard?"

McCoy looked quizzically at Kirk for a moment. "Believe it or not," he said as he returned the brandy bottle to its cabinet, "an alien plot to take over the galaxy, spearheaded by the diabolical Vulcans."

"Starting with the Enterprise," Kirk added dryly.

"I don't know, Jim. I think they think we're in on it."

"Oh, yes, Natira. Can I trust you, Doctor?"

"I may have poisoned your drink."

Kirk scowled at the empty glass, then looked at McCoy.

"Seriously, Jim," McCoy said, "something has to be done."

Kirk held out his glass for a refill. "Poison my drink." McCoy shook his head, out of humor. Kirk sighed. "What do you suggest, Bones?" he said wearily.

"The rumors that are flying around this ship since yesterday's little tour could end up hurting a lot of people."

"I know that, Bones, but with these evaluations I don't have time to watch them every minute. What do you suggest I do about it?"

"Stop the rumors, for starters."

"Just like that?"

"It's your ship, Jim."

Kirk grinned ironically. "Is it? I'd forgotten."


Sulu stared glumly ahead as he ‘escorted Mr. Scott to the briefing room' as per the commission's orders. He didn't remember the Captain placing him at the personal disposal of the commission, and he didn't particularly like being used as an errand boy. Why was the Chief of Security considered a `necessary precaution,' as Davis put it? Now not only was Jilla upset, Ruth and Mrraal mad at him, M'ress and Arex asking him questions he didn't know the answers to, and Spock even colder than his usual reserve, McCoy wasn't too pleased and he was certain Scotty wouldn't be after the commission got through with him. It wouldn't've been so bad if he at least knew what the commissioners were doing in there that made everyone blame him. He wasn't investigating anyone for some alleged threat to Federation security.

He halted in front of the briefing room. "Mr. Scott," he said, gesturing. Scotty stared at the door, then smiled reassuringly at Sulu.

"You're just doin' your job, lad. I know that," he said.

Sulu grinned wearily. "Thanks. At least somebody does."


Scott nodded amiably to the commissioners before taking his seat. Davis smiled at him.

"Lieutenant Commander Montgomery Scott?"

"Aye, sir," Scotty answered.

"This won't take long, just a few routine questions."

"Fine, sir."

"You have been aboard the Enterprise since Commodore April was the captain?"

"Aye, sir, ever since she was launched."

"And you have been the Chief Engineer for - " Davis paused, consulting his statboard, " - sixteen years?"

Scotty smiled proudly. "Aye."

"You find Lieutenant Cos- Majiir an excellent assistant."

Scotty frowned at the apparent slip of the tongue, but shrugged it off. "Aye, she's the best I've ever had."

"Better than Lieutenant Thompson?"

The question put him back for a moment, and he considered, then said, "Aye, but Jock didna have the time to prove himself."

"Lieutenant Thompson is dead, isn't he? Wasn't he involved with Lieutenant Valley?"

Scotty couldn't see the relationship between the two questions, so he answered them separately. "He's dead, and they were roommates."

"And Lieutenant Cos- Majiir - is half of the entity known as Valjiir."

Scott's eyes grew grew hard. "She is, and her name is Majiir. Just Majiir. And I don't see..."

"A pity, Mr. Scott."

He gripped the edge of the table before him. "Just what are you gettin' at, if I may ask you, sir," he said brusquely.

"That there are too many coincidences involving your assistant, Mr. Scott."


Kirk's voice echoed throughout the entire ship.

"This is the captain. It has come to my attention that this ship finds the matter of a routine investigation a subject for gossip and insinuation that is not only malicious and unfounded, but highly insulting to certain of your fellow crewmembers. I remind you that one of them is your First Officer, and, as such, this gossip is bordering on insubordination. We deal with fact here, and the only fact we have is that a committee of commissioners and Admiral Bradigan are conducting an investigation of a security nature. Rumors concerning the reasons for this investigation have no basis and will not be tolerated. I want them stopped. Here. Now. Kirk out."


Jilla glanced nervously around her as she made her way to a table in the rec room. She'd heard the captain's denunciation of rumor-mongers - but had not needed it to confirm the fact. She had felt the animosity, the distrust, the growing unease around her. It fed her shame, her certainty of her own lack of worth. She was telmnor, how could anyone feel anything else? It took all her will to continue on toward her promised dinner with Ruth - the compassionate keheil who could not bring herself to damn the damned.


"They sure do stick together, don't they," Ensign Kasera whispered.

"Sacre Bleu, they're friends. They were roommates for a whole year," Monique DuBois whispered back.

"You roomed with her at the Academy. Why isn't she with you?"


Jilla found a place next to Ruth, who sat with M'ress and Mrraal, uneasily discussing the captain's pontification.

"You've felt it all day, too, haven't you, Ruth," Mrraal was saying. "Tell M'ress it's not just me."

"I thought I was just being twitchy, but with Bwana making an announcement like that..." Ruth shook her head. "I don't know."

"It's simply the result of civilians on board, and the investigation," M'ress insisted.

"Terran civilians," Mrraal interjected.

"What's that got to do with anything?" Ruth asked.


"Do you think there's anything to it?" Ensign Kenney asked uneasily.

Lieutenant Kyle snorted. "Not bloody likely. I've served with Mr. Spock for six years. He's an excellent officer, as loyal as they come. It's part of Vulcan nature." He snorted again. "I'd like to tell those commissioners that, and see what they do with it."


"It's xenophobia."

"Don't be ridiculous, Mrraal. The captain wouldn't allow it. Not with a Vulcan First Officer," Ruth replied.

"Maybe the commissioners don't care what the captain won't allow."

"Aliens gonna die anyhow?" Ruth sang skeptically. "It can't be, Mrraal, not in the Federation government. This inquiry's official, y'know."


"They could be really dangerous. Remember Spock and the Talosians? And that thing a year ago with Valley and Majiir breaking every Federation law in the book just to try and save Spock? And getting away with it?"

"Which, incidentally, also saved the Captain!" Daffy interrupted Lieutenant Stiles' tirade.

"Yeah, well..."

"Yeah well nothing. Stop being such a putz."


Arex stepped up to the table, whistling softly. "Captain Kirk sounded pretty upset," he said. "But I'm sort of glad he did. The buzzing was beginning to hurt my ears."

"See, Arex, too!" Mrraal stated.

"You don't have any," Ruth chided.

"Only externally," Arex replied, taking a seat.

"Just because we've all been aware of a lot of gossip doesn't mean we're being ganged up on," M'ress insisted.

"But why is it `we'?" Mrraal asked. "Why not any other crewmembers?"

"How do you know it's only us?" Ruth said.

"We're the only non-Humans."

"Mrraal..." M'ress began.

"That's - and I hate to say it - illogical," Ruth said firmly. "It's circular reasoning. It's also stupid. We're being gossiped about, fine, but it's got to be something entirely unconnected with the planets of our birth. Xenophobia is not Federation policy."


"Why don't we just go up and ask them? They're friends, fellow officers. They'll give it to us straight," Ramon Ordona suggested.

"I want to believe that as much as you do, but why would the captain make an announcement like that if there were nothing to be concerned about? If it wasn't important, he would've shrugged it off." Lieutenant Price glanced uneasily at the table full of non-Terrans. "Can we really trust them?"


"Ruth, what else do all of us have in common?"

"We've all been relieved of duty, indefinitely," Ruth replied lamely.

"Another point. Why?" Mrraal asked.

"I don't know why, but..."

"We seem to have quite a cross section," Arex mused. "Three females, two males. Three with - ears, as Ruth would put it." Ruth scowled at him. "Four bipeds, one triped, three with skin, two with fur, two tailed, three not so equipped, two engineers, one support service, one command, one science, silver, gold, orange, black, tabby..."

"We're all lieutenants," M'ress put in.

"That statement is incorrect."

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