A/N: Finally! The long-awaited conclusion of Extinguish the Night. At least, I have been long-awaiting some free time to write it. Thanks to all the wonderful people who have read, favorited, followed, or reviewed previous chapters. Your support means so much. Enjoy the fifth and final chapter! LLAP.
Kirk, Spock, and McCoy stood outside the medical building in Eonsul's once-bustling city. The planet's night sky was quickly becoming a shade of vivid zaffre, casting a bluish glow upon everything outside. Now, in the midst of an unidentified epidemic, the city was completely silent. The trio had left behind Dr. O and Leila to continue working on identifying the cause of the deadly disease, which had been decimating the planet's population for nearly a year. Minutes ago, Kirk had burst in and summoned Spock and McCoy to follow him immediately. His loyal First and Medical Officers had not hesitated to obey the captain's heated request.
Kirk placed his hands on his knees, struggling to suck in air. He had removed his cloth headband; fitting in with the natives' fashions hardly mattered anymore. Sweat glistened blue on his forehead, which worried McCoy greatly. Spock was concerned for his captain, too, but continued functioning as an ever-silent stronghold.
The doctor spoke: "Jim, are you alright? What the devil is going on? It's the disease, isn't it? It's progressing fast." He placed a hand on Kirk's shoulder and whipped out his medical tricorder.
Kirk straightened and pushed the instrument gently away. "I'm fine, Bones. We all must see Dr. S right away. But first I need to fill you in. Lieutenant Uhura has made an important discovery about his true identity." The captain tried to hide his panting.
"Lieutenant Uhura?" Spock said with considerable puzzlement. "I was under the impression that the entire crew was confined to the Enterprise due to the epidemic."
"Exactly, Spock. That's the beauty of it. She was able to uncover the information while still aboard, at the communications console," Kirk explained.
McCoy couldn't resist piping up, "Yeah, Spock. Although you might be so inclined to take your time traipsing through the woods with certain female company, the crew of the Enterprise never stops working. And Lieutenant Uhura is no exception," he said with a mischievous twinkle in his eye.
If he had been human, Spock's cheeks would have glowed deep pink with shame at the Doctor's remark. He couldn't deny the accusation, playful as it was. The observant eye could catch a green flush creeping across his face.
Kirk had no idea of the nature of Bones' remark, but he couldn't waste time uncovering it. In normal circumstances, he would have probed further, but now he was all business. "We have no time to waste. It turns out that Dr. S has not been isolated from other planets like he claims." Kirk detailed all of the information that Uhura had gathered, about Dr. S's two messages directed to a planet in the Romulan Empire.
At Kirk's conclusion, Spock was about to share his newfound information concerning the doctor. But suddenly the medical building door burst open. Dr. O came running out, wildly waving a syringe in his hand. "We've found it!"
"Whoa, there!" McCoy walked towards the fanatic doctor with his arms extended. "Careful with that. Don't want to accidentally inject anybody."
"Sorry," Dr. O replied sheepishly. "But we've found a cure! And it works! You see, an insect carries the disease. It's a type of bug I've never seen before, and it was found inside the carnivorous plant that the scientists brought back. The plant's digestive juices completely destroy the bug and counteract the disease it carries. We've already tested the vaccine on a gravely ill patient, and it worked!" Dr. O moved towards Bones with the syringe, as if to inject him right then and there.
"Wait just a minute," said Bones. "It worked on one of your people." Bones didn't even know if the people of Eonsul were human. In all of the commotion since the crew had been forced to land here, no one had bothered to ask such a question. But it was better safe than sorry. "How do you know it will work on us?" he continued, skeptically.
Dr. O smiled, "It works on humans, too." Then, his smile abruptly shifted into a frightened guise. He knew that he had revealed a secret not intended for their ears.
Just then, the medical building door opened again, and out walked Leila, a spring in her step, looking completely alive and beautiful as ever. "Yes, the vaccine really works. I'm cured." She spun around in unbridled joy.
Bones whipped out his tricorder and ran it through the air near Leila. He looked at Jim and Spock. "She's right. No more contagion."
Kirk had been closely listening throughout the encounter. He was thrilled that a cure had been found, but something else troubled him.
Spock beat him to the punch, as he addressed Dr. O, "Pardon me, doctor, but your claim that the vaccine is effective medicine for 'humans, too,' implies that your species is not of human origin."
Dr. O's fearful expression deepened, like that of an admonished schoolchild about to be severely punished. He gulped. "Did I say that? What I meant to say was, uh, maybe you should discuss this matter with Dr. S," he said softly.
"I agree," Kirk said firmly, turning on his heel. He motioned to Bones, Spock, and Leila to follow him. He didn't much care if Dr. O followed, and after all, he should be attending to his patients.
Soon they had assembled all of the scientists together and were marching towards Dr. S's headquarters for whatever his position was on this planet. Kirk tried to control his rage as he entered, uninvited.
Dr. S. sat behind the desk of their first meeting, as if he had never moved from that spot in the length of a day.
Kirk's voice whipped his chair around. "I want answers, Sirol." This was the name of the person Uhura said had signed the message from Dr. S's radio. Kirk was taking a chance, but he continued unswervingly. "I want to know who you are and why you lied to me, my crew, and the visiting scientists who came in peace, and who found a cure for the disease."
Dr. S's eyes widened. His hands nervously gripped the top of his desk. He had obviously never been challenged or spoken to like this before.
Kirk went on, "Yes, aided by the Federation scientists, your very own Dr. O has created a vaccine proven to remedy the illness. If you want an injection for yourself, I suggest you tell us the truth." Resorting to bribery was not in the captain's nature, but his protectiveness of his crew and the Federation scientists was getting the better of him.
Dr. S's mask of confidence was slowly melting under the heat of Kirk's piercing stare. He seemed to weigh his options in a split second, and then said, "Alright. I will confess, but only because my life means more to me than any punishment."
The profuse sweat on his cheeks and neck could scarcely be the result nervousness; clearly the pathogen was progressing rapidly throughout his system. His wet black and silver hair would have made a comfortable home for a family of rats. His once-scarlet headband was soaked through and turned a deep wooden color from the moisture. Reaching behind his head, Dr. S carefully untied the piece of cloth, revealing dark, upswept eyebrows and tall, pointed ears.
He cleared his throat and began, "My name is Sirol, as you so keenly addressed me, Captain. I suppose my radio communications are primitive and not so easily hidden from a constitution-class starship." He smirked. No one else in the room found this remark funny, so he stiffened and continued, "I come from a small planet in the Romulan Empire. You probably have never heard of it. In fact, it has no name at all. You see, the planet is the site of a military testing facility, of the Empire's newest and most secret weapons. But some inhabitants of the planet are completely docile. Not all Romulans are war-mongers, you know, captain," he said facetiously. "Personally, I've always been a champion for peace. So were many others on the planet. Having seen so much war and destruction our whole lives, we wanted to abandon our Romulan identities completely, and start a new community: one of peace, brotherhood, and simplicity. We scouted out planets for many months, until we found this one. A group of us settled here, but a short while later, we were stricken with outbreak." Sirol accentuated the trauma with a distressed and wistful gaze.
Meanwhile, Kirk, Spock, McCoy, and the scientists listened intently. To everyone's surprise, Leila was the first one to speak up. "But you didn't abandon your Romulan identity completely. You still despise Vulcans," she said firmly. The injection seemed to have worked wonders for her self-confidence as well as her physical health.
"Is that true?" Kirk barked. It was the first he had heard of this.
Sirol looked taken aback, but was eager to finish his story, so he attempted to shrug off the accusation. "Well, to borrow an Earth phrase, captain: 'Old habits die hard.' Besides, what does it concern you? As I was saying, we arrived on the planet, and the people began falling ill-"
As Sirol continued, Bones was preparing to step in. He glanced at Spock to make sure he would agree with this next move. Spock was once step ahead, already untying his headband. McCoy interrupted, "Oh, it concerns us, alright. It just so happens that the plant used to develop the vaccine for the disease was discovered by the Enterprise's First Officer," he gestured to Spock.
When Spock had completely removed his headband, Sirol gasped.
Spock replied, "The discovery was not mine alone, Doctor. Remember, I was aided by a capable team of Federation scientists." Ignoring Sirol's stupor, which was quickly turning into boiling fury, Spock added, "The only reason the plant worked as a cure, was because it digests the insect that carries the disease. I've been informed that you, Sirol, are not a medical doctor but an entomologist."
Kirk and Bones whirled around to look at Spock. Just where was he getting all of this information and why hadn't he shared it with them? But they had no time to dwell on the issue and quickly directed their gazes at Sirol.
"Yes, it's true. I never claimed to be able to heal the sick, which is exactly why I enlisted your help. You must not accuse me of lying about that," he defended.
"If tractor-beaming our ship to the surface is your idea of 'enlisting' our help, I'd hate to see your idea of forced labor," Bones joked, attempting to lighten the mood. It didn't work.
Kirk was on edge once again. It took all the restraint he could muster to maintain an even tone as he said, "And what may we accuse you of lying about? Did you know about this host insect?"
"Of course I've heard of the Rema bug. It's native to many Romulan planets. I brought many insects along with me to study while I was here, but only one Rema, which escaped early on. I swear to you." The interrogation was visibly weakening Sirol each passing minute. If he was trying to hide it, the helpless tone of his voice betrayed him. "Perhaps this planet is also home to a type of Rema bug, and they could have interbred." Sirol cowered under Kirk's stare. "Please, it's all true. I have a wife and daughter on my home planet," he added, seemingly to obtain sympathy.
Kirk's red face looked like he was ready to move in for the kill. "I've had just about enough of this, Sirol. You are a poor excuse for a leader. Your careless behavior has killed thousands, if you even told us the truth about your decimated population. You've detained innocents, and forced others to do your dirty work. I should report your deception to the Federation, but really it's up to the Romulan Empire to deal with you. I don't want to waste my time."
"Jim, you can't be serious! After what he's done?" Bones countered. He couldn't believe Kirk would let Sirol get away with nothing.
"It is not in Starfleet's directive to interfere in matters such as this," Spock stated.
"Since when has that bothered Jim before?" Bones sneered. "Do something, at least. He destroyed your ship."
Sirol interjected, looking like a retreating turtle behind his hard-shell desk. "No, no. I've returned complete control of your ship to you!" he interjected.
"I'll tell you what I'm going to do, Bones. I'm going to make sure vaccines become available to everyone in this settlement, which includes us. Someone has to show initiative around here. Let's just hope it can stay that way."
Kirk followed through with his promises, and before long, lines were forming outside the medical building for vaccines. Healed inhabitants were scouting into the woods to try and find more of the healing carnivorous plant. Kirk offered to transport the weary Federation scientists to the nearest starbase, and they had happily obliged. Everyone, including Sirol, was feeling of sound mind after the vaccine began to take effect. He thanked Kirk profusely for not punishing him, and vowed to become a more proactive leader and implement some form of government.
Kirk, Spock, McCoy, and the scientists walked back to the green meadow where the Enterprise had been laid to rest, only to find a green meadow. For a moment, Kirk thought that some type of cloaking device was in use, but quickly dismissed the thought as fantasy.
Just then, his communicator sounded. "Kirk here."
"Captain, Commander Scott here. She's back in orbit and fully functioning. We regained control of the ship about an hour ago, but I couldn't get a hold of ya. Are you alright, sir?"
It was a relief to hear Scotty's voice, "We're all right. And we're no longer infected. Beam twelve passengers aboard. Us three, and nine Federation scientists, also not infected. Kirk out."
It would take Kirk, Spock, and McCoy a few days to recover from that unplanned strenuous ordeal. They maintained their posts, but their coworkers were very patient with them should they slip up.
A few hours after returning, McCoy came on the bridge to inform Chekov that it was time for his physical. He also couldn't resist mentioning the results of the mission to Kirk. "I still can't believe you let Sirol get off scot-free," he said behind the Captain's chair.
"What's that?" Scotty turned around from the engineering station. "I heard my name."
Kirk grinned and McCoy guffawed. "Oh, it's nothing Mr. Scott. Bones, whatever I could do to him, I'm sure the Romulans will think of something worse."
"Romulans. So emotional," Spock uttered under his breath from his post at the science console. But a Vulcan mumbling something still comes out considerably articulate by human standards, so everyone on the bridge crew heard the remark. They paused for a beat and burst out laughing.
Spock was having a particularly difficult time adjusting back to his usual routine. The past week had been a whirlwind for him, what with pon farr, the koon-ut-kal-if-fee ceremony, Sirol, the can put off sleep longer than humans, but if Spock was honest with himself, he was truly exhausted. The night after the events on Eonsul, he lay meditating in his quarters, when there was a knock at the door.
"Enter," he said, not at all embarrassed for whomever it may be to see him stretched out on the bed, steepled fingers across his chest.
The door slid open and in walked a familiar face. A face he had gotten a bit too familiar with on their last excursion. A flood of memories whooshed through Spock's mind and he bolted upward. He remembered having kissed Leila by the waterfall, without her consent, and was about to do more than kiss her had she not pushed him away. He pushed those thoughts away and vowed to uphold the highest standards of etiquette during this conversation. He had still been affected by the remnants of pon farr then. Now, he was completely recovered.
Leila walked in closer, a happy, unfazed, fluttery air about her. It seemed out of place in Spock's dark, candle-lit quarters. She was dressed in a red Starfleet uniform. Not wanting the crew to go to any trouble making clothes for her, she had simply borrowed the costume from a generous yeoman. The clothes she left behind on Eonsul were all exposed to the disease, and Dr. McCoy had said it was best not to take chances.
"May I sit down?" she asked.
Spock nodded. "Certainly. What can I do for you, Miss Kalomi?"
Leila sighed and looked at the ceiling. "So we're back to that now, are we? No more 'Leila'?"
Spock attempted to follow her reasoning. He decided the logical way to proceed would be to humor her implied request. "What can I do for you, Leila?" he restated.
"That's more like it," she smiled. "I wanted to thank you for everything. As well as Captain Kirk and Dr. McCoy. Thank you for saving our lives."
"You would have done the same," Spock replied. "You also assisted in developing the vaccine."
That was the closest thing to a compliment he had ever given her, and she inwardly cheered. She paused, and looked the Vulcan in the eyes. They were guarded as ever, unlike their sparkling wonder during their moment on the log. "Spock, what happens now?" Her tone shifted at that remark. It became more immediate, hungry for an answer.
"We are escorting your team to Starbase 5. From there you can travel back to Earth, or wherever you desire to go," said Spock plainly. He looked into her deep blue eyes, the color of Earth's oceans. Earth suited her. Space suited him, with all its dark complexities. It was the same color as his eyes.
But not to Leila. While most others saw distant pools of receding space in Spock's eyes, she knew that they were a few shades above black, the color of Terran soil. "Tell me, Spock, how does one become a science officer in Starfleet? What qualifications are necessary?" She asked not only because she wanted to have a conversation with the man she had grown even more to admire, but also because she wanted the information for herself. It's just research, she told herself.
Spock was surprised at her inquiry, but was content to oblige her with an answer. At least she has not mentioned their earlier encounter and seemed genuinely interested in discussing a new topic. "I must tell you initially, Miss Kal –Leila – that it is a very long process to detail verbally."
"That's all right," she said. "It is a very long ride to Starbase 5."