By Lorraine Anderson

Kirk stared at Parmen on the screen. "Look, you've captured the ship. Why in the great galaxy should we help you?" He took a sip of the coffee his yeoman - a sweet young thing called Janice Rand - had brought up. He knew that he shouldn't look at her legs, but he couldn't help it.

Concentrate, Kirk.

Parmen smiled, as if he knew exactly what Kirk was thinking. "I could force you to come down here, but sadly, that would not help." He turned serious. "We don't get sick often, Captain, but when we do, it is life threatening. I'm - begging you." He looked as if it was killing him to beg, then he looked behind him. Momentarily, Kirk could see real distress on his face. "Please. My wife. I've never seen her so sick."

"Will you let my ship go?" Kirk looked at Spock, who frowned slightly and his eyebrows went up. Right. Spock didn't trust him, either.

"Of course. You will have my thanks." Well, he looked sincere.

Kirk stared at Parmen. "We had better. Kirk out." He looked at the star-filled view screen. "If that guy isn't a con man, I'm a bar..."

"Yes, Captain?" Uhura said sweetly.

Kirk smiled at her. "Never mind. As you were." Ah, forbidden fruit. He never saw what she had seen in Spock, but he could respect her choice. Still, he could dream, couldn't he?

He punched the intercom. "Kirk to McCoy."

"Yes, Captain," came the southern drawl over the intercom.

"We're beaming down, Bones. One of the inhabitants of this planet seems to be deathly ill, according to her husband."

McCoy sighed. "And they don't have doctors down there?"

"Apparently, they rarely get sick."

He sighed again. "Well, I usually don't make house calls, but I'll pack my stethoscope."

"Do that." Kirk said. He grinned.

"You had better be smiling, Captain."

"Scout's honor, Bones."

"Ok. McCoy out."

Kirk moved the chair to Spock's station. "I would like you down there, and a couple of security guards. Whoever's up for duty."

Spock opened his mouth. Kirk stared at him. He knew what Spock was going to say - the Captain and the first officer shouldn't be off the ship at the same time. He stared some more, and Spock closed his mouth. "Yes, Captain," he said, then triggered the con to alert the security chief.

"Sulu, you have the con," he said, exiting the bridge. He saw the expression on Uhura's face. "It's his turn," he whispered, almost sub-vocally.

She shrugged. He wasn't sure why she wanted to take the con. He knew she was thinking about the command track, but she hadn't decided yet, whereas Sulu had made no bones that he was thinking about it. And, in spite of what Pike had said about his inauspicious start, he saw potential in Sulu. Even if he wasn't that much younger than Kirk.

He and Spock emerged on the corridor of the transporter. McCoy was lounging against a wall. "What kept you?"

Kirk smiled. "We stopped at every floor and Spock had to use the head."

Spock looked away. "I shall never understand human humor," he said.

McCoy smirked, then stepped onto the transporter pad.

"Let's go," Kirk said.

"Captain," Spock said, "shouldn't we wait for the security guards?"

"If they're not here on time…"

The door opened, and the security guards stepped in.

"Peters, Wooster," Kirk said. He ushered them onto the pad.

"Sir," Wooster said. "What are we facing?"

"Something I suspect you won't be able to help us with," Kirk said. "But keep sharp."

The transporter swirled around them, When they materialized, Kirk looked around. Very - Greek. "Captain," Spock said. "The guards."

A curtain opened. "They are fine. You will not need guards with us." A gray-haired man walked out, a laurel wreath on his head. "My wife is this way." He walked into an open doorway. A striking lady was lying on a bed, sweating. McCoy rushed to her side, opening his tricorder.

"She has a bad infection. Her temperature is 103. How did this happen?"

"There's a cut on her finger."

McCoy picked up the hand. The finger was inflamed, and obviously twice the size it should be. "This?"

"We have developed the power of the mind on this planet." Parmen said. "I fear our immune system has been compromised."

"Have other people died?"

He looked bleak. "Yes."

Suddenly, she rose up and grabbed McCoy by the shoulders. She looked at him, and kissed him full on the lips. McCoy looked startled as best he could, with a woman kissing him. His arms went around her.

"McCoy," Kirk said. "Let her go."

"Aaa, kaa," he said, his lips still locked on the woman.

"I believe he said 'I can't'," Spock said. He managed to look bemused.

"Philana," Parmen said. He looked jealous. "Let him go."

"'e's ereriou." Kirk looked at Spock.

"She's delerious," Spock translated. "Most likely with the fever." McCoy managed to nod.

Parmen closed his eyes and looked like he was concentrating. Slowly, McCoy's arms came loose from Philana's waist, although their lips didn't unlock. Kirk moved McCoy's medical kit within reach. McCoy grabbed the hypo, stuck a vial on top, and hypoed Philana's neck. She started to fall back onto the bed, and McCoy caught her and lowered her down slowly.

"He's very good at that," Kirk said to Parmen, rubbing his neck absently.

"That was a sedative," McCoy explained to Parmen. He disposed of the vial and attached another one. "This is an antibiotic for the infection." He pushed the hypo against her neck gently. It hissed as the medicine went in. She sighed and looked peaceful immediately.

Something caught McCoy's eye. "This is amazing!" Her finger was already healing and became less red as Kirk watched. He looked at Parmen.

"We generally heal easily." Parmen shrugged. "It's very rare that an infection will grab hold like this." He looked at McCoy. "We truly appreciate your expertise, Doctor. Perhaps you would like to join us in a banquet?"

"I believe you promised to let our ship go?" Kirk said

"Oh, but you must join us."

A short person walked into the room. Kirk narrowed his eyes. He didn't look like he was walking normally. "Yes, Lord Parmen?" the small man said, not raising his eyes.

"Please show our guests to their rooms, Alexander," Parmen said.

He raised his eyes then. Kirk looked into them. They looked hopeless and bleak. He looked at the Enterprise trio dispiritedly, then gestured.

With a glare at Parmen, Kirk followed Alexander. Kirk and McCoy and Spock followed.

He hurried down the hall, walking swiftly. "You have guest rooms?" McCoy said. "I got the impression that this was a small colony that had withdrawn from the universe."

Kirk stared at him. "How did you know that?"

McCoy stopped dead still. "I don't know."

"Were you kissing somebody?" Alexander said.

"Philana kissed me." McCoy said.

"That explains it." Alexander kept going. He led them to an airy room.

Kirk caught his shoulder. "What explains it?" Alexander stared at the hand. Kirk removed it. "Look, we know that Parmen and Philana have powers."

"And I know that it's caused by the Kironide mineral on this planet."

Spock looked at Alexander. "How did you know?"

"Do you think you're the first visitors to this planet?"

Kirk's eyes widened. He looked at Spock.

"Would the visitor's captain happen to be named Nero?"

Alexander nodded. "The fact that you know him doesn't endear you to me."

"Nero is dead."

"Did you kill him?"

"We fought him. We let him die." Kirk wasn't going to mention that he offered him a rescue, simply because he wasn't sure how Alexander would take it.

"What did he do?" McCoy said.

"He sided with Parmen. He talked about you and how evil you were." Alexander barked a laugh. "That was part of the reason that Parmen didn't call for help, he just grabbed you. He intended to force you to treat Philana. He was rather - taken aback when you agreed to treat her right away."

Kirk looked at Spock.

"Did he tell you why he hated us?"

"He said you blew up his planet."

McCoy sat down heavily on one of the divans. "This could be a problem."

Kirk looked at him. "You think?" He kneeled down so that he was at Alexander's head level. "I swear on all I believe on that we did not blow up Nero's planet."

"Liars can swear."

"But liars don't have data to back their stories up." He stared in Alexander's eyes. "If we can communicate with our ship, I can show you that data."

Alexander sighed and lowered his eyes. "I believe you."

Kirk blinked. "You do?"

"I would not have asked for more data." He sighed again. "At the very least, you can't be any worse than Parmen."

That was a back-handed compliment, if Kirk had ever heard of. "What does Parmen do?"

Alexander smiled grimly. "You'll find out." He left the room without a backward glance.


Spock was attempting to call the ship, when he shook his head. "I cannot hail the ship, Captain."

Kirk was on another divan, attempting to peal a grape. He wasn't very successful. "I'm not surprised. Parmen wants something."

Suddenly, McCoy got up jerkily. Kirk glanced up at him. "Are you all right, Bones?"

"No. I'm... being summoned."

Kirk got up rapidly, then felt the summons, himself. "I am, too."

Spock looked slightly chagrined as his legs moved without his volition. They moved jerkily down the hall into a large room. A curtain opened. A pale Philana sat beside a smiling Parmen. Around seventy people, all dressed in Ancient Greek clothing, sat and looked at them.

"Captain." Parmen nodded at the trio. "We have discussed this. We should like your Doctor McCoy to stay with us to tend to our medical needs."

McCoy made a gesture. Parmen looked at the gesture uncomprehendingly.

"Different culture, Bones," Kirk said lowly.

"Ah. Was that a gesture of assent?"

McCoy frowned. "Not hardly."

"We were happy," Kirk said, "to help you in your hour of need. But I am afraid that we cannot leave our Doctor with you."

"I believe that should be his decision," Parmen said.

"We will be happy to contact our Starfleet and see if they can send you a medical team. I am sure..."

Parmen's face darkened. "As I am sure that any team would be dosed heavily with Kironide."

Kirk's face looked blank. "Kironide?"

"Nero has told us about you."

"Nero was our enemy. He believed that we blew up his planet."

"And you didn't?"

"Nero had his facts wrong. He was driven mad by the destruction of his planet."

"And the truth?"

Kirk told him. Parmen's face, as well as the rest of the group, moved from stony faced to indignation - and, as Kirk ended - to amusement.

Kirk watched them, puzzled.

Parmen shook his head. "Nero said that you were a good liar."

"And you don't believe that he was," McCoy said.

"Oh, yes. I knew he was." Parmen nodded. "I just don't believe you, either." He gestured at McCoy, who jerked up to join him in the stands. "But we do need him." He smiled at McCoy. "We will convince him that he needs to stay."

Spock fell to his knees. He whinnied like a horse. Kirk felt himself jerk towards Spock, sitting on his back like a rider. He felt his hand slap Spock on the back - Thank God it wasn't his butt. "Stop it," McCoy yelled.

Parmen leaned back, the very picture of leisure. The rest of the group laughed. "Why, Dr. McCoy, I don't have the power to stop it. You do."


"When you agree to stay with us."


Parmen gestured. Spock stood up and started crying.

"Emotions kill Vulcans!" somebody yelled.

"Stop it. You're humiliating him."

"Aren't you concerned that he's having an emotional breakdown?"

McCoy sat back. "No."

"That seems a bit hard-hearted of you."

"I've seen him break down. I've seen other Vulcans break down. Vulcans suppress emotions, but they have them." McCoy looked at him nonchalantly. "He'll recover." Parmen looked at the two of them, puzzled. "I saw it when they lost their planet."

Parmen opened his mouth and closed it. Philana looked at him, distressed. The group was sober. Kirk felt the control lessen, then tighten. He stood up, then he jerked towards the exit. "Leave us."

McCoy joined them in the hall, and they entered the room.

"What the hell just happened there?" Kirk said.

Spock turned away, then turned back, under control. "I believe I can speculate." He closed his eyes.

"They've lost their planet," McCoy said.

Alexander walked in. "Yes, we did." He sat down. "You've shook them.

Kirk sat down beside him.

"What happened?"

"It was a nova. We knew our star was unstable and we had built ships to escape." He sighed. "We were just about to leave, and our ship led the way. The others didn't make it." He looked at Spock. "Is it true that Nero blew up Vulcan?"

Spock turned away again and his shoulders tensed up. Kirk nodded. "Because he thought Spock had blown up Romulus." He had left the time travel aspect out; he hoped that this would be enough explanation for now.

Alexander got up and stood by Spock.

"I'm sorry. I know how you feel. I lost my family."

Spock nodded tensely and closed his eyes. "My father still survives."

"Good. Family is important." Alexander turned a bitter eye to the door. "Perhaps, if our families had survived..."

Spock looked contemplative. He looked at Kirk, and his eyes widened very slightly, and one eyebrow crept up. Kirk, hoping he had an idea, nodded. Spock closed his eyes.

This was Spock's plan?

Kirk shrugged. "Alexander, how did you know about our philosopher, Plato?" If Spock had a plan, it was best not to alert Alexander.

"Oh. Our first landing was on your planet. We met the Greeks, liked them, lived among them for a time until the Greek civilization collapsed." He looked at Kirk's expression. "We're normally more long lived then your species are. However, being on this planet has extended our life span." He smiled ruefully. "There were other aliens there." McCoy's head popped up. "They learned to leave us alone."

"And then you came here and discovered the Kironide."

"Oh, no. We thought the powers came naturally as a result of being on this planet. Nero told us it was in the food."

McCoy looked contemplative and used his tricorder to scan the grapes. "He was right."

"Any chance of us developing..."

McCoy was shaking his head. "Only if we live here another 10 years."

Kirk frowned. "Damn." He stood up suddenly. "I believe I'm being summoned again." He jerked toward the door, as did the other two.

They entered the amphitheatre again. "You know," Kirk said to Parmen, "If you would just call for us, we might just come."

"You might not."

Kirk shrugged. "There is that."

"We have decided that our sympathy does not outweigh our need." McCoy climbed back into the box. Alexander, obviously under his own power, climbed in beside him. "Perhaps some female persuasion is in order."

Two female forms beamed down. "Lieutenant Uhura. Yeoman Rand. What is the meaning..."

They looked stricken, then jerked away. "They do need to dress appropriately," Parmen looked at Kirk and Spock. "As do you."

McCoy got up. "I need to..."

"You will dine with us."

"I've lost my appetite."

"Go ahead, Bones. Talk to them. Make them see reason."

McCoy looked at them. "Talk to them?" he sputtered. "I'm a doctor, not a diplomat."

"Try, Bones," Kirk said, as he jerked away.

Alexander led them back to the rooms. "Wait here."

Spock looked at Uhura. Reaching into her cleavage, she pulled out a medical hypo. "This what you need?" Kirk looked puzzled at Spock. He almost looked liked he blushed green. "This contains," Uhura said, jumping into the awkward silence, "…concentrated Kironide in the dosage that Spock suggested. M'Benga loaded it."

"A level higher than Parmen's?" Kirk asked.

"Enough for two, with a little left over," Uhura said. "I think it should be you two, with respect, Captain."

Rand looked confused. "What is it, Lieutenant?"

Uhura moved forward and dosed Spock, then turned to Kirk and dosed him. "Concentrated psychic power."

"That's what's been moving us?" Rand asked.

"Parmen and his group," Kirk said, rubbing his neck.

Alexander returned with the clothing. Uhura hurriedly hid the applicator.

"Wait a minute," Kirk said. "Lieutenant?"

With a questioning look, she pulled it back out.

"Alexander, in this vial contains concentrated Kironide," Kirk said, gesturing toward the hypo.

"How did you get it down here?" Alexander looked suspicious.

Kirk stared at Spock and Uhura. "Apparently, some of us have some mental powers, too." Uhura looked away. "Never mind." Kirk sat down. "Spock and I have had our doses, but I think it's only fair that you have some, too."

Alexander looked tempted for a second. "No."


"I would be tempted to do to them what they did to me." He closed his eyes. "By all I held dear, I don't want to be like that." He opened his eyes and grinned. "I want to be better than that."

"I... understand."

"M'Benga said it would take a little while for these to take affect, and he wasn't certain of the dosage."

Kirk made a face. "Hopefully it's greater than Parmen;s." He jerked towards the door. "Here we go?"

They re-entered the amphitheater. As he looked at them, eager for their entertainment at his expense, Kirk decided he couldn't understand how they could stand 2000 years of a dull, contemplative life. There was too much in the galaxy to do, and he was eager to find out what was next. He could never live in this place. He considered his options, then decided. "Ok, here's what we're going to do. We're going to give them what they want." Without prompting, he did a handstand, then waved a hand to the crowd.

Spock's eyebrows climbed up his forehead. "Captain, certainly resistance would be the wiser course."

"Why? They're looking for entertainment, why shouldn't we give it to them?" He jumped to his feet, found the apples, and started juggling them. He looked at the crowd. They were restless, looking at Parmen, not sure what to do.

A couple of divans scraped over the floor, and the women fell into them. Kirk looked at them. "I have a choice?" he cried theatrically. "How can I choose between such two lovely ladies?"

Uhura glowered at him. "Enough," Parmen said. Kirk felt himself jerked toward Uhura, Spock toward Rand. He closed his eyes and tried to resist, but it was too early for the Kironide to take effect.

"My beautiful lady!" he said, gazing at Uhura, then felt himself jerked towards Rand. This was a bit harder, Yeoman Rand was obviously scared. He winked the eye that was not faced to the audience, and managed to curl his fist toward them, without the Platonians realized. Rand's eyes dropped, and she suddenly grinned slightly. He smiled. She would be all right.

He felt himself jerked back to Uhura. In his peripheral vision, he could see Spock doing the same thing. He had that annoyed look that Kirk had learned to read. Then he found himself bent over Uhura.

He smiled at her and whispered. "I'm sorry, Lieutenant."

"Not your fault, Captain."


"Not of you." She smiled. "Them, maybe." She bit her lip. "I do want to let you know that I admire your bravery. With Nero, I was frightened, then I looked over at you," she grinned, "And Spock, of course, and I gain strength."

He grinned himself. "And I was watching you when I was scared, and then I thought, I can't be weak in front of you. No offense, but you're one tough bi… lady."

"Say what you mean, Captain," she said.

He felt himself bent over some more. "I think they want me to kiss you."

"Permission to speak freely?"


"Then kiss me, you fool." She smiled. "It may be the only chance you get."

He kissed her tenderly. She grabbed him by the back of the neck and pulled him down.

He surfaced to the sound of laughter. He looked over. Spock was kissing Rand, but he looked like he was suffering. He closed his eyes...

... and pushed Spock away from Rand. Spock looked at him, startled.

"Who did that?" Parmen said.

Kirk stood up and threw the laurel leaves off his head. "I did." He walked up to Parmen. "We now have twice your power," he said, hoping he wasn't lying.

"You're lying," Parmen said. Kirk made him sit up straight.

"Sit up when you're talking to me."

"How?" He looked at McCoy.

McCoy waved his hand helplessly. "It's not like I carry Kironide every place I go." He looked at Kirk. "I'd like to know that, myself."

Kirk looked at Uhura, looked at Spock, then said. "That's not important."

McCoy's eyebrows rose.

"We can dose ourselves indefinitely, so you know that we can bully you around like you bullied us."

"'Bully' is such a strong word. We spend our days in contemplation."

Alexander snorted. "I've seen some of that contemplation. It's amazing how many ways that two or more people can contemplate together."


"You cannot quiet me now!" He picked up a knife and went towards Parmen. Kirk caught him in his arms. "Stop it!"


"Don't you want to be better than he is?"

Alexander stared Parmen in the eye. He puffed up, then deflated. "For the sake of the person you once were. I admired you, then I came to loathe you." He shook Kirk's arms off. "Can you take me away?"

"Of course."

Parmen looked at Kirk. "We've let ourselves go stagnant. I see that now. We're cruel and self-centered and..."

Kirk looked at him. "Save your sob story to someone who cares."

McCoy once again raised his eyebrows.

"If we let you go," Kirk said. "You're just going to do the same to the next fool who comes along."

Parmen nodded eagerly. "You're probably right."

Kirk leaned to stare Parmen in the face. "I know I'm right." He backed off. He looked at Uhura. "Power is intoxicating."

"Don't even think about it... Captain." Uhura stood up and moved to Spock.

Yeoman Rand sat up and got a wistful look on her face for a second, then moved forward, uncertainly.

"What would you recommend we do, Mr. Spock?"

"Mr. Alexander," Spock said. "Do you think your former shipmates worth redemption?"

Alexander smiled slightly, as if pleased to be asked. He hesitated. "Before they got this damned power, they were good women and men," he said hesitantly.

"Then I recommend a team of scientists to learn from these men and woman and to guide them back in the galactic society."

"Do you think they can learn?" Kirk said to Alexander.

Alexander closed my eyes. "Don't ask me now."

"Fair enough."

He looked hesitant. "Are all your crewmen - and women - as tall as you are?"

Kirk leaned down. "In fact, one of our crewmen is shorter."

Alexander smiled. "You're sure you want me?" He looked sad. "I've been doing serving for so long, I'm not sure I can do anything else."

"Oh, Alexander, honey," Uhura said. "We'll find something for you to do. But only what you want to do."

He smiled up at her and opened his communicator. "Kirk to Enterprise."

"Aye, Kiptain."

"Ah, Mister Chekhov. Five to beam up." He looked at Alexander, thought about making a small joke, then refrained.

Alexander smiled broadly.


"Captain," Uhura said, as they were leaving the transporter room. She watched Alexander and Scotty's friend leave the hall, then said, "Permission to speak freely again."

Kirk got a bland look on his face. "Since when haven't you? Granted."

"Don't make anything out of that kiss."

He smiled broadly. "Spock can whip my ass if I did make anything out of it. But thank you."

She smiled, then grabbed him. "Then don't make anything out of this, either." She kissed him deeply.

He gasped as he came out of it. "That's for trying saving us." She smiled, then walked away. He grinned.

"Captain," Spock said.

He blushed and twirled. "Yes, Spock."

Spock looked at him quizzically, then went on. "Do you really believe that Parmen and the Platonians can be reformed?"

Kirk shrugged. "Did Admiral Pike ever tell you how he first saw me?"

"We have never engaged in small talk."

"Bleeding from the nose after a bar brawl." He looked down the hall. "In fact, right after I had first met Lt. Uhura." He shook himself, and came back to the subject. "This was after a long series of… incidents, including wrecking my stepfather's prize antique automobile. But Admiral Pike believed in me, in spite of what I had done." He shrugged. "And that's what it took to straighten me out."

Spock looked at him a second. "Indeed," he said, and the barest smile came to his face. He turned away.

Kirk looked at him quizzically, then opened his eyes wide. "Hey!" he said, running down the hall after Spock.

"Yes, Captain," Spock said.

Kirk looked at him, then decided not to say anything. "How far do you think Nero got?"

Spock looked at him, puzzled.

"Do you believe that Nero had a copy of our alternative self's mission files?"

Spock sobered and considered. "There is a high probability of that, Captain."

"And do you believe that he went down the line to attempt to screw up all of our missions?"

"His main mission was revenge. Nero - was not unintelligent. This may have been his back-up plan."



They looked at each other.