(Originally posted in GRIP #52, May 1997)
CAPTAIN'S LOG: Stardate 5784.5. We have just dropped Alexander of Platonius off at Starbase 24. Perhaps now he can have a chance for a better life.
Captain James T. Kirk sat in his quarters as he recorded the day's log. He was in a reflective mood, thinking about the previous day, which had been one of his wildest adventures to date.
"The Platonians, a powerful race of telekinetics, mistreated Alexander dreadfully, along with anyone else who did not share their powers. Their powers came from kironide, a rare chemical element elsewhere, that was present in all their food and drink."
As he spoke, Kirk's eyes came to rest on a stack of computer cards. The top card quivered and rose into the air.
"To combat the injustices the Platonians rendered upon my crewmembers, Mister Spock and I received massive doses of kironide, inducing telekinetic abilities in ourselves. On a planet of telekinetics, that seemed the best way to fight."
Kirk's eyes shifted to the food slot in the wall. The computer card followed the path of his eyes, sailing into the slot. Kirk nodded and the card slipped into the slot.
"Due to Mister Spock's Vulcan physiology, the kironide in his system has burned out and his telekinetic abilities have vanished."
A door opened in the wall above the food slot, revealing a steaming cup of coffee. Kirk held out a hand. The coffee rose from its position and, somewhat shakily, slowly sailed into Kirk's hand. He gasped as the steam kissed his fingertips.
"Delete gasp. Mine, however, have not. Doctor McCoy assures me that this is only temporary, and the telekinesis will vanish once my system rids itself of the kironide. He estimates this will happen inside of forty-eight hours."
Kirk sipped the coffee and added, "On a more personal note, I find myself torn between two emotions. For one, I am impatient for this to be over so I can return to normal. On the other hand, being able to move objects with a thought is exhilarating...intoxicating. And, I freely admit, I am going to miss this when it's gone. End log entry."
Kirk thumbed the switch closed and leaned back, staring at the ceiling. He sighed, enjoying the rare break between missions.
Then he sat up and mutely surveyed the mound of paperwork on his desk. McCoy had teased him about it before, saying he thought the main reason Kirk insisted on going on so many landing party missions was so that he could get out of doing paperwork.
Kirk chuckled. Bones was probably right.
Setting the coffee aside, Kirk began to read and sign the forms that were the only mundane part of being a starship captain. The only part he hated.
When his door buzzer chimed five minutes later, Kirk welcomed the interruption. "Come in!"
The doors slid open and McCoy walked in, medkit in hand. "Hi."
"Hi yourself. Come to poke and prod some more?"
McCoy glanced at the desk. "It's either that or your paperwork."
Kirk turned and spread his hands. "Prod away, Doctor!"
McCoy laughed. He sat on the edge of the bed facing Kirk and opened the medkit. He ran the Feinberger over the captain, grimacing as it chirped twice.
"Well?" Kirk asked.
"Kironide levels have dropped a little more. That's good." McCoy closed the medkit. "Have you been using it?"
"I can't not use it! It scares me, Bones. It feels like I'm going to have this... this thing in my head for the rest of my life!"
McCoy smiled. "Remember, Jim, the more you use it, the faster the kironide levels will burn out."
Kirk nodded. "I know, I know. 'But don't use it in front of the crew if you can help it'. You've read me the riot act so many times the last few hours...."
"Sorry. What scares you about it, Jim?"
"The way it feels so natural. So easy."
McCoy nodded. "You're afraid of becoming like Parmen."
Kirk, remembering the sadistic leader of the Platonians, shuddered. "Yeah. Now I can see why they became so evil. This power...." He shook his head. "It's seductive, Bones. It makes you want to use it, any way you can."
"'Absolute power corrupts absolutely'," McCoy quoted. "Keep that in mind, Jim. Keep your thoughts focused on who you are, what you do, and the power won't corrupt you. Besides, it's only for two more days."
McCoy nodded, standing up. "Yeah, I hope." He sighed. "So now you're becoming telepathic, too."
Kirk stood with a jerk. "I hope not!"
McCoy chuckled, holding up a hand. "Teasin', Jim. I was teasin'." Then he became serious again. "Let me see it."
Kirk adjusted his tunic. "What do you want?"
"Three of your books."
Kirk nodded. His eyes moved to the row of books in his small library. Then he focused on the three thickest ones. They quivered, then rose into the air.
McCoy stared at Kirk, watching his eyes. Kirk began to turn his eyes toward McCoy, and the books began to move in that direction.
Suddenly, McCoy lunged forward. He thrust his hand quickly in front of Kirk's eyes.
"What?" Kirk blinked, startled.
The books crashed unceremoniously to the floor.
Kirk gaped at the inert books. Then a slightly delirious grin spread over his face. "It's...over!" he gasped. "It's gone!"
"No, it's not," McCoy said softly.
Kirk looked at him, eyes widening. "What are you talking about?"
"Give me the books."
Kirk looked at the books. They rose into the air and sailed into McCoy's hands. Kirk gasped, "I have to be looking at them for it to work!"
McCoy nodded. "Just two more days, Jim. Two days, and it'll be over." He chuckled softly. "I gotta get, Jim. I got my own mound of paperwork to tackle."
Kirk started to protest, but McCoy turned and walked out of his quarters.
Kirk glared after him. The doors jerked open and Kirk blinked, breaking the telekinesis. The doors slowly swooshed shut.
Kirk groaned, sinking into his chair. "Two more days...."
The monitor on his desk beeped. Kirk activated it telekinetically. "Yes?"
"Captain?" It was Uhura.
He sat up, regarding the monitor. "What is it, Lieutenant?"
"Message from Starfleet Command. For your eyes only."
Kirk sighed. "Let's hear it."
The Federation seal appeared on the monitor. Then it vanished, to be replaced by an older man's face. "Jim," he said.
Kirk nodded. "Admiral Komacks."
"You look tired. Trouble with the Platonian distress call mission?"
Brother, was there ever! Kirk thought. "Some. My logs tell the whole story. They should reach you soon."
"Jim, I'm sorry to have to do this to you, but--"
Kirk shook his head. "Admiral, please. Can't someone else handle this one? Something... happened on Platonius, and--"
"Jim, I'm sorry, but I need Starfleet's finest on this one." Then Kirk's words sank in. "Jim, were you hurt on Platonius?"
"In a way." Kirk groped for words to explain what had happened.
Komacks didn't give him a chance. "You seem fit enough to handle this mission. We had some Federation observers on Aurorus III, trying to see if the world was a good candidate for Federation membership. It's important to us, since the world is close to the Klingon Neutral Zone. We've been in near-constant contact with the observers since they arrived. They have reported increased Klingon activity of late, and--"
Kirk sighed. "Let me guess. You've lost contact."
Komacks smiled a little. "Am I that predictable?"
Wisely, Kirk refused to answer.
Komacks went on: "We lost contact twelve hours ago. The last transmission was a garbled, confused lot. The only distinguishable word we could make out was 'Klingons'. Jim, you're the best we have at dealing with Klingons. With your... injury...can you handle it?"
Kirk considered. If he said no, lives could be at stake. But considering the war going on inside him now, could he say yes?
"Yes, sir," he heard himself say. "No problem."
Komacks smiled. "I knew we could count on you, Jim. Keep us informed. Komacks out."
Kirk leaned back in his chair and closed his eyes. Manually, he reached out and turned off the monitor. Then he turned it back on. "Kirk to Sulu. Set course for Aurorus III. Warp factor four." He sighed. "Kirk to Spock. Kirk to McCoy. Report to Captain's Quarters, on the double. We have a problem."
When they walked into the cabin, Spock and McCoy found Kirk still at his desk, signing papers with one hand and holding his head with the other.
"Hurts, huh?" McCoy asked.
Kirk looked up at them and smiled slightly. "Not really. Just tense."
"I can't give you anything, you know."
Kirk stood up. "I know. No medication till this wears off." He waved them to a pair of chairs. "Want a drink?" He turned to the bar.
Three glasses and a flask of Saurian brandy rose from the bar. They began to move toward the desk.
"Captain," Spock said. Reflexively, Kirk turned toward him, taking his eyes off the bar. Bottle and glasses began to fall.
Kirk telekinetically saved the bottle. Spock grabbed two glasses in one hand, one in the other. Kirk directed the bottle to his hands. Once he held it, he closed his eyes.
Spock raised an eyebrow. "Optical control. Fascinating. Your abilities have weakened to that point."
"The strength is fading, too," Kirk said. "I could shift my bed last night. Now I can't move anything over twenty pounds."
McCoy smiled. "Good. It's fading faster than we thought! Mind if I take another reading?"
"You just took one!" Kirk groaned, but submitted.
McCoy frowned at the results. "Nope. Kironide levels still the same as before. I'll scan again in a couple of hours. Maybe they'll have dropped further."
"That's what I wanted to talk to you about," Kirk said, sitting on the edge of the bed. "Spock, would you mind?" Spock poured the brandy while Kirk continued. "I've been contacted by Admiral Komacks. There's a situation on Aurorus III." He told them the sum of the transmission, ending with, "And he won't budge. It's the Enterprise he's sending."
"Jim, you can't!" McCoy exploded. "You shouldn't have agreed to this! Until your powers fade, you're a powder keg! You can barely control yourself!"
"I had no choice, Bones. Lives are at stake. We're on our way there now."
Spock nodded. "Captain, the doctor is right. Your abilities are too dangerous. Until they fade, it would be best if you remained aboard the ship."
Kirk shook his head. "I don't know what the situation is. I'll make no promises until then." He looked from one to the other. "Satisfied?"
McCoy slumped back in his chair. Spock nodded once. "For now."
Ten uneventful hours passed -- uneventful for the rest of the crew. Kirk spent three of the hours finishing the ever-expanding mountain of paperwork, two hours asleep, three hours studying briefing materials on Aurorus III, and two hours in the gym, playing handball telekinetically.
It was during this time that the wall intercom beeped. Kirk glanced at it long enough to activate it, then kept his attention on the ball. "Yes," he called.
"It's me, Jim," McCoy said. "How you doin'?"
Kirk grunted a response, trying to keep the game going.
"Where are you?"
"Gym!" The ball was moving faster. It was getting harder to keep his eyes on it.
"Sounds like handball."
"It is. What is it, Bones?" The ball careened a bit too close. Kirk leaned back and let it slide by, following it with his eyes.
"Sulu's just contacted me. Couldn't reach you, for some reason. Didn't you hear the intercom?"
"No. What's up?" Kirk twisted his body around to keep his eyes in line with the fast-moving ball.
"We're here. Aurorus III."
"What?" Kirk whirled to face the intercom. The ball ricocheted off the far wall and began a dizzying series of bounces. Kirk located it and telekinetically paralysed it in midair. He guided it to its place in the ball rack, then addressed the intercom again. "We're not supposed to be in orbit until seventeen hundred hours."
"Check your chrono, Jim. Time flies when you're havin' fun." McCoy chuckled. "Spock didn't want to disturb you -- somethin' about the Captain's right to privacy."
Kirk picked up a towel and began to wipe the sweat off his face. Fortunately for me, you share no such scruples." He sighed. "All right. Assemble the officers for a briefing in thirty minutes. I want everything anyone knows about Aurorus III."
"Will do, Jim. You were playing telekinetically, weren't you?"
"How is it?" The concern was real.
Kirk considered. "About the same. A little harder to get started, but once I had, it was about the same."
McCoy made a hmphing sound. "All right. I'll do another kironide check just before the briefing. See you then. McCoy out."
Kirk nodded, deactivating the intercom. He threw his towel into the air and telekinetically guided it toward the cleaning chute.
A sudden stab of pain behind his eyes staggered him. Kirk cried out, both hands flying to his temples. His eyes never left the towel, but the towel fell to the floor.
Kirk leaned against the wall, fingertips massaging his temples. They no longer hurt, but the unexpected pain had left him numb.
Kirk tried to raise the towel telekinetically. It shuddered, then rose shakily. The effort made the pain return. Kirk got the towel into the chute, and staggered to the intercom, striking it with his fist. "Kirk to McCoy," he gasped.
"McCoy here," came the response.
"Bones... still in the gym... get down here...." He struggled to say what was wrong, but the pain intensified.
The intercom crackled with McCoy calling, "Jim! Jim, can you hear me?" as Kirk slid to the floor, unconscious.
Kirk's first impression when he struggled to consciousness was of McCoy's worried voice: "...fool stunt. Told him to keep usin' the power, but not like this! Telekinetic handball! Really!"
Kirk opened his eyes and saw that he was in sickbay. He turned his head and saw McCoy sitting beside his bed, head in his hands, talking to himself. Kirk's eyes strayed to the chrono on McCoy's wrist, and saw he had been unconscious for two hours.
"Bones," he said weakly.
McCoy's head snapped up. "Jim," he said softly. "How are you feeling?"
Kirk frowned, considering. "Head...hurts. Bones...what?"
McCoy sighed. He seemed to have aged ten years. "Jim, your power backlashed on you. Instead of reaching outward to move objects, it turned inward and attacked you."
Kirk's frown deepened. "Is it gone?"
McCoy shook his head. "The kironide levels have dropped by another sixty percent. That handball stunt helped a lot. But you overused it, without boosting the kironide levels, and it hurt you." McCoy shook his head again. "It's like an athlete who overuses his muscles without eating or drinking anything. The muscles cramp, and he can't move them at all."
Kirk nodded. "How long?"
"Before it fades completely?" At Kirk's nod, McCoy shook his head a third time. "Ten hours at the outside is what Spock says."
"Spock." Kirk tried to sit up but the pain in his head intensified and he lay back down. "Where is he?"
"Planetside. He and Chekov beamed down ninety minutes ago."
"What?!" This time Kirk succeeded in sitting up. "Without my authori--"
"You were in no shape to authorize anything!" McCoy snapped. "They went to get an eyewitness account of what's goin' on down there."
"Check-ins?" Kirk reached for his shirt.
"Haven't missed any so far, Uhura tells me."
Kirk paused in pulling on the shirt, turning to grin at McCoy slightly. "You're surprisingly well-informed."
McCoy chuckled. "I knew you'd be firin' questions at me the instant you woke up. I'm an old Scout, remember? I'm prepared."
Kirk laughed weakly. "I wouldn't know. I was never a Scout."
"Y'missed out." McCoy ran his Feinberger over Kirk. "You're running on pure adrenaline. Since it's obvious I can't stop you from goin' back to work, I'm insisting that you grab a couple of sandwiches before you go."
"If I don't?" Kirk teased, rubbing his neck.
"I'll relieve you on the grounds you're medically unfit."
"You wouldn't dare." Kirk looked closer at McCoy's face. "I guess you would dare. Okay, I'm licked." He went over to the food slot and grabbed a pair of sandwiches and a cup of coffee. He left sickbay, munching.
McCoy leaned back in his chair and smiled slightly. "Softie," he teased.
"Give me a report on Spock and Chekov!" Kirk ordered as he entered the bridge. He downed the last of the sandwiches and coffee as he sank into his chair.
Uhura turned from her board. "The next check-in is two minutes from now, sir. So far, all is quiet."
Kirk nodded. "Put it through when it comes, Lieutenant."
Two minutes passed. Then three. Then five. After ten minutes, Kirk was visibly sweating. After fifteen, he stood up and began to pace.
After twenty minutes, Kirk ordered, "Red alert! Uhura, assemble the officers for a briefing in five minutes!" He strode into the briefing room.
Red lights began to flash in sickbay. McCoy looked up from his desk, put down his stylus, and swore.
"They've missed a check-in," he guessed as his monitor beeped. Activating it, he said, "I'm on my way to the briefing room, Uhura."
On the bridge, Uhura sat for a second, her mouth open in mid-word. Then she nodded. "Aye, sir," she replied softly, and cut the channel.
McCoy met the other department heads on their way to the briefing room. Lieutenant Carlson represented security in Chekov's absence, and Lieutenant Jereau represented science. Scotty and McCoy made up the rest, while Sulu held the conn and Uhura stayed at her post.
They strode into the briefing room and sat at their places. Kirk sat at the head of the table reading a datapadd. When all were seated, he raised his eyes and looked at them all. He took the padd and slid it, almost throwing it, at Jereau. "Explain this!" he ordered.
Jereau met his eyes for a second, her face never changing expression. She took the padd and scanned it.
"Cool under fire, isn't she?" Scotty whispered to McCoy.
"Bein' raised on Vulcan will do that," McCoy whispered back.
"All right, gentlemen," Kirk whispered to them both.
Jereau finally raised her eyes and met Kirk's again. "Explain what you wish to be explained, sir," she said calmly.
McCoy coughed to disguise the chuckle as Kirk's mouth opened a fraction of an inch. Scotty's laugh wasn't quite disguised. Kirk fixed the table with a glare. Poker faces snapped on all but McCoy, who sat there grinning like the Cheshire cat, and Jereau, who looked passively at Kirk.
Kirk cleared his throat. "Lieutenant Jereau, I believe it is obvious what I meant."
"Begging your pardon, sir, but it isn't," Jereau said. "You just said, 'Explain this'. There are five different points in these reports to explain. You need to be a bit more clear, sir."
"Yep," McCoy said under his breath, "definitely raised on Vulcan."
"All right," Kirk said dangerously. "Explain from these routine reports why two of my officers have just missed a check-in."
"Logic would dictate that they are being held by Klingons, sir," Jereau replied.
Kirk blinked. "Why would you say that?"
She patched the padd into the monitor. "See, Captain? Their first report indicates there are several Klingons on the planet. The second, Klingon activity is increasing. Mister Chekov indicates he is uncomfortable with the situation. He feels they may be in danger." She met Kirk's eyes again. "Then they missed the check-in."
Kirk leaned back and rubbed his chin, thinking. Seconds of silence stretched into minutes.
At long last, McCoy asked, "Jim?"
Kirk sat up and looked at McCoy. "Get your medkit." He turned to Jereau. "You're with us. We're going down."
Minutes later, the three materialized in a field outside the capital city. Jereau took out her tricorder and began walking in a circle. McCoy took out his Feinberger and ran it over Kirk.
"Well?" Kirk asked softly.
McCoy put his Feinberger away and smiled at Kirk. "Kironide levels have dropped another thirty percent."
Kirk did some quick math. "So now I've got roughly ten percent of the abilities I had twenty-four hours ago."
"Yup." McCoy's smile got bigger. "It's droppin' faster than we thought. Great news."
"I don't know, Bones," Kirk whispered. "If we need to fight, I may need that power."
The smile faded. "Okay, Jim, cut that out right now." Kirk blinked at him, and McCoy went on: "We've served together what, three years now? You have never needed any extra power before. You don't need one now. The kind of thinkin' you're doin' now is the same kind that led Parmen and company into their evil ways."
Kirk blanched and shivered. "You're right, of course. I don't know what...." He shook his head. "No, I do know. This thing is so seductive, it--"
Jereau walked back over to them. "Got them, sir. Thirty Klingons, one Vulcan, and several Humans, all together in one small area just over the next ridge."
"They've been moved from the capital, then?" McCoy asked.
Jereau nodded. "There are indications of Klingons in the capital, but we have already secured that area." Anticipating Kirk's question, she added, "Due to the high concentration of humans with the Klingons, logic would indicate the missing observers are there as well."
"Female Spock is what she is," McCoy muttered under his breath.
"Thank you, Lieutenant," Kirk said. "Let's go."
"No, sir," Jereau said flatly.
"No? Why not?" Kirk asked.
Jereau pointed over Kirk's head. Kirk turned to see several Klingons pointing disruptors at them.
One Klingon stepped forward and gave a comic little bow. "My dear Captain Kirk," he said. "So good to see you again."
Kirk returned the bow. "My dear Captain Koloth. How did you ever get away from all those tribbles? And what, may I ask, are you doing on Aurorus III?"
Koloth smiled. "As for the tribbles, it continually amazes me what a well-tuned disruptor will do. As for this interesting little planet... well, I'm not ready to tell you that just yet."
"What have you done with my men?" Kirk demanded.
"I assure you, they are quite well." Koloth barked an order in Klingonese, and several men came down from the ridge and disarmed the trio. "If you come with us, we'll take you to them."
"He seems very polite," Jereau whispered.
"Don't underestimate him," Kirk whispered back. "It's a schtick. He may put on a good show, but he is as ruthless as they come."
Disruptors at their backs, they began the march to their captured crewmates.
The forced march lasted about fifteen minutes. The trio were finally led into a cave lit with purple glowing rocks. Several more Klingons were there, well-armed, with those disruptors pointing at four men and a woman, plus Chekov and Spock. All had their hands tied behind their backs. Chekov had a black eye. Spock's shirt was torn, and a makeshift bandage on his shoulder was stained with green. Clearly, they had not been captured easily.
McCoy moved toward Spock, only to have a Klingon bodily block his way. "Out of my way!" McCoy growled.
The Klingon's eyes narrowed. He smiled terribly. "Try it," he growled back.
"He's hurt," McCoy said. "I'm a doctor! Let me see him!"
"Doctors are for the weak," the Klingon snarled. "Get over there."
"Now look," McCoy exploded. "I don't give a flying fig what your worldview is! That man is hurt, and I can help him! Let me through!"
Koloth chuckled. "Humour him, Morok. Let him pass."
"Why?" Morok snarled back.
"He amuses me," Koloth answered.
McCoy shot the Klingon a look of pure astonishment as he edged over to the prisoners, and began to re-bandage Spock. Once that was done, Kirk, McCoy, and Jereau were shoved into the corner and tied up with the rest of the prisoners.
"You should not have come," Spock whispered to Kirk. "With your... problem...."
"My 'problem' is almost solved," Kirk whispered back. "Do you know what Koloth and company are doing here?"
Spock nodded. "Apparently, they are negotiating for mining rights to these glowing rocks."
"Why?" Jereau asked. "They're incandescent, but...."
"Actually, they're phosphorescent," Spock said. "They give off kerythion rays, easily recognised by the purple glow. The Klingons need that radiation."
McCoy gasped. "Jim, kerythion rays are harmful to humans -- prolonged exposure is fatal!"
"No problem," Kirk whispered. "We won't be here long enough to even get sick." He shifted position.
That alerted the guard. "Hey!" he yelled. "What are you doing?"
"Humans! We have better things to do than to see to your comfort!" the Klingon snarled, returning to his post and fingering his weapon. "Don't make me use this on you." He sounded as if he relished the thought.
"Don't worry," Kirk assured him, turning his head to focus his eyes on Spock's ropes. Spock's eyes widened a bit, then returned to normal. He felt the ropes moving, shifting -- slowly untying.
Five minutes later, all but Kirk were untied. Jereau leaned forward and undid Kirk's ropes. They held their hands behind their backs as if they were still bound.
Kirk was sweating. He gritted his teeth, and his eyes were filled with pain.
"Jim?" McCoy asked.
"It's getting hard," Kirk gasped. "I don't think I've even got ten percent anymore." He swallowed hard. "Give me a second. I've got a plan. Listen...."
"What's going on over there?" a guard demanded.
"The Captain is ill," Spock called.
The guard looked at the sweating, trembling man. "If this is a trick...."
"For pity's sake, man!" McCoy snapped. "We can't fake this reaction -- help us!"
Two of the guards hesitantly stepped forward --
And Kirk's head snapped up. "Now!"
The observers and the Enterprise officers surged forward, surprising their captors. Kirk leaned against the cave wall and pressed his fingertips to his temples, bracing himself against the pain.
Then he focused on the Klingon disruptors. One by one, he moved the disruptor settings down to Mild Burn. Then he began to pull the weapons out of their owners' hands, but even that was a mighty effort. It was enough to confuse the guards, though, so that by the time Koloth appeared at the mouth of the cave, the Federation forces clearly had the advantage.
"What's going on here?" Koloth demanded.
White-hot pain exploded behind Kirk's eyes. The scream that reverberated in his head emerged as a low moan. His last impression was of McCoy's horrified cry of "Jim!" and the sensation of falling into a bottomless hole.
After an indeterminately long time, Kirk struggled to consciousness. He heard voices and immediately thought, Klingons!
His eyelids felt like lead. He forced them open, preparing his fatigued body for battle. Instead, he found himself looking into McCoy's smiling face.
"Hi," McCoy said cheerfully.
"Bones?" Kirk stammered. He was shocked at how weak his voice sounded. "Wh-what.... Where...."
"Shh!" McCoy said. "You're in sickbay, and you're going to be fine. The kironide is completely gone, and so is your telekinesis."
Kirk had other things on his mind. "But... where are we? And what happened to the Klingons?"
"In order? Still orbiting Aurorus III, and on the other side of the planet, peacefully gathering what they need, after our observers negotiated a nice business deal that gives everybody something."
"The kerythion rocks?" Kirk tried to sit up, but the pain drew a black film across his eyes.
A hypospray hissed against his arm as McCoy replied, "Yup. Seems their life-support systems use kerythion rays the way ours uses ultra-violet, to produce enzymes necessary for Klingon metabolism to work properly. As far as the Aurorans are concerned, those rays were in the way of their mining operations, since humans can't stay near them without suffering cellular damage. I guess diplomats are good for something after all."
"But...why did Koloth think he had to--"
"Kidnap the observers? That's the way it's done with Klingons, I suppose. Can't just ask politely for help. It's a sign of weakness to need anything!"
Kirk lay back on the bed. "In that case, why let us go?"
McCoy shook his head at the weird ways of Klingons. "You impressed Koloth. He'd put you down as a conniving trickster after that tribble affair, but when you had your little faint, he decided that you had, in his words, 'jeopardized his very life' to rescue your best friend. He thought that showed incredible courage, not to mention honour."
Kirk blinked at him. McCoy chuckled again. "I may have exaggerated the respect you and Spock have for each other, but it sure impressed Koloth. Seems nothing impresses a Klingon more than courage and honour."
Kirk nodded weakly.
McCoy ran a Feinberger over Kirk. "So, the head of the Commission struck a deal. Koloth gets his life-support rocks, the Aurorans have a major hazard removed, and we let him go without a fight. Spock found that most logical, so here we are."
The intercom chirped loudly, making Kirk wince. McCoy activated it, and Spock's face appeared on the desk monitor. "Is the Captain awake?"
"Yep. What do you want, Spock?'
Spock nodded and ignored McCoy. "Captain, the Klingons have broken out of orbit and are running at high warp back to their own space. I also have a message from Captain Koloth to deliver. He wishes me to tell you that he has sworn a Blood Oath to respect the sovereignty of the Aurorans so long as they permit free access to the life-giving minerals needed by Klingon supply ships. Since these same minerals pose a threat to the Aurorans, I consider this to be a logical and peaceful solution to what might have been a difficult situation. And Captain, I am gratified that you are conscious and able to resume your duties. I find command of a starship...difficult."
Kirk looked at McCoy. "Blood Oath? Will that hold them?"
Spock chimed in. "The last time a Blood Oath was broken, a thousand years ago, the breaker of the Oath and his entire family were wiped out."
Kirk nodded. "Then that should do it. I'll be on the bridge in no time, Spock. Hold the fort 'til then."
"I shall endeavor to do so, Captain. Spock out."
Kirk looked at McCoy. "You said something about the telekinesis...?"
"Gone. Not a drop of kironide left in your system, aside from the trace element we all have."
Chapel tapped at the door. "Doctor, you're needed...."
McCoy stood up. "Congratulations, Jim. You're totally human again." He left with Chapel.
Kirk closed his eyes and sighed deeply. He opened his eyes and focused on the water glass on the stand beside the diagnostic bed. He stared at it intently.
Kirk began to tremble. It was over! He was finally normal again!
Then the glass shifted a fraction of an inch.
"BONES!" Kirk screamed.
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