It's Star Trek's 50th anniversary and Sheldon organizes a commemorative role-playing mission. Can Amy and her alter-ego Nurse Chapel discover what's hiding down in engineering, save the Enterprise, and win over her Vulcan man? Shamy, of course, but the whole crew is on board.
The Intermix Ratio Calculation
"Hear ye, hear ye!" The general chatter about their upcoming weekend plans was broken by the sound of a gavel hitting the wooden end table next to Sheldon. "I call this meeting to order!"
"How long have you had a gavel?" Leonard said.
"Um, this is a meeting?" Penny asked, taking another bite of her Asian takeout.
"Eight years. Yes." Sheldon nodded to each of them in turn and then sat up straighter, glancing around to make sure everyone was listening to him, even as he still held the gavel. "As you are probably all aware, there is a very large and very important event looming on our collective horizon. One could use the phrase life altering and it would not be remiss. In truth, our lives will never the same after this auspicious day. Thus, in honor of this most important occasion, I propose that we celebrate its impending arrival with a party."
"Awww, Sheldon," Bernadette said, rubbing her abdomen, "that's so sweet. I never imagined you as the baby-shower-planning type."
"Baby shower?" He swiveled his head to look at the other end of the sofa. What was she prattling on about? "Why on Earth would I care about that? I'm talking about the fiftieth anniversary of the premiere episode of Star Trek."
"Yep, that's the most important event that going to happen this fall, for sure," Howard said.
"I know!" Sheldon agreed, glad that at least Howard understood his point. "As September 8th falls on a Thursday this year, sadly an entire day of festivities is not possible due to our various work schedules. I wrote to the President about the need for a national holiday, but my hourly emails to the White House were only returned by the Secret Service, who clearly are not Star Trek fans. However, we can still spend the evening together, celebrating the birth of something momentous."
"But not actual childbirth?" Amy asked.
"Don't be revolting," Sheldon shot back, wrinkling his nose at her. He expected Amy, at least, to jump on board this plan at its very first mention. That's what girlfriends were for. "Been there, done that, don't ever want to see it again."
"Okay." Leonard shrugged. "We can watch the show here; we have the Blu-rays. Should I set up a online poll of our favorite episodes or should we go with a critic's choice?"
"Ohhhh! We could make theme food, like pasta salad with calamari and call it gagh," Raj volunteered, bouncing a little from his spot on the floor.
"That's from The Next Generation, not The Original Series," Sheldon corrected him, shaking his head in disgust. "Keep it straight, please."
"I'll make a cake. Don't worry, I'll send you a design in advance for approval, both in terms of flavor and visual appearance," Amy offered.
"That's my girl!" Sheldon looked at her with a smile and Amy smiled back, and he thought he saw a hint of a blush on her cheeks. This woman! she was amazing! Why did he ever think she wasn't on board? Yes, his plan was going to be perfect. It had to be. He turned away from Amy's smile to address everyone again. "As we do not have time to watch the entire series, I do not believe we should watch it at all. I propose something more active, like a game."
A murmur went around the room and Raj got up to look at the bookcase behind the sofa. "Let's see what you've got." A pause as he found the correct stack. "Star Trek UNO?"
"Not enough strategy," Sheldon replied.
"Star Trek Catan? That's a strategy game."
"Not enough players."
"Five Year Mission? We could all play it."
"The Captain is Dead? It's basically playing an episode of Star Trek."
"Not officially licensed."
"Star Trek: Attack Wing?"
"Ugh, that's not mine. I hate maneuver system games; the physics is over-simplified."
"Well, Sheldon, why don't you tell us what would make the perfect game," Leonard said.
"I'm so glad you asked." Sheldon reached beside him and pulled a manilla envelope out of the crevice of the sofa. "I have devised a Star Trek: The Original Series role-playing game, to be played here on the evening in question, and I have prepared your character assignments. Read them in advance and be prepared. Costumes are not optional." He opened the envelope and stood to pass out the pages he'd typed.
"Who's Yeoman Rand?" Penny asked, taking her page from Sheldon's outstretched arm.
"Blonde, big hair, sexy, out of place with others - she's perfect for you," Sheldon said.
"Hey!" Leonard protested as he snatched his paper out of Sheldon's hand. Then he looked down. "Although I am Captain Kirk, and I always thought he was trying to find a way into her miniskirt . . ."
"Why does he get to be Captain Kirk?" Howard protested. "I've always. Wanted. An excuse to. Talk like. William Shatner. For a night."
"You're an engineer, Scotty is an engineer," Sheldon said with a shrug, handing him his character assignment. "Additionally, he has an accent to imitate."
"Cap'n, aam givin' it aw she's got!" Howard replied in his best Scottish brogue, and Bernadette smiled at him. "Okay, I'm in."
"What a minute," Raj said, looking up from his assignment, "if Howard gets to be Scotty because he's an engineer, why don't I get to be Sulu? We both track the locations and movements of the stars. And we both grew up in the Eastern hemisphere."
Sheldon shook his head. "We need a Dr. McCoy. No episode of Star Trek is complete without Kirk, Spock, and Bones."
"And Scotty!" Howard interjected. "That ship doesn't move without Scotty!"
"Let me guess, you're Spock," Leonard said, looking over at Sheldon as he sat down again.
"Of course. It's only logical."
"Look! I'm Uhura!" Bernadette said. "I surprised you didn't give it to Amy."
"I'm Nurse Chapel," Amy offered.
"I knew Amy already had the costume," Sheldon explained. He turned to look at his girlfriend and wiggled his eyebrows.
"Ugh, this just got weird," Howard muttered.
"It wasn't already?" Penny asked.
"Do my ears look straight? I really do think the left one is lower," Sheldon said again, and he leaned over for Amy to inspect them.
"I already told you, Sheldon, they look fine."
"I don't want fine, I want perfect!"
"You look perfect," Amy said, placing her arm on Sheldon's shoulder and smiling. "Relax. Everyone will be here soon, you should enjoy this little game you've put so much effort into."
"I need it to be perfect," Sheldon mumbled once more as he stood. "And it's not little! It's epic."
Before Amy was forced to reassure him yet again - really, he was clucking around like a nervous bride - the door opened and Leonard and Penny made their way in. "Hey, I brought some vintage Earth grape juice," Penny called, waving a wine bottle.
"What are you wearing?" Sheldon said sharply.
"What?" Penny looked down at her black miniskirt and red crop top. "Leonard said this Rand lady wears red and a miniskirt. Look, we even made this badge out of construction paper." She pointed to the yellow piece of paper pinned to her chest.
"Leonard," Sheldon turned to his friend who was dressed in the appropriate gold shirt, black pants, and black boots, "why didn't you get her the correct costume?"
"Umm, look at her," Leonard replied with a shrug.
"You look nice, Amy," Penny said, once she made her way to the kitchen island. "I've never seen you with your hair up. Or so much of your legs."
"Thank you." Amy smoothed the blue dress she'd retrieved from the back of her closet. She had even forgone the black tights for sheer hose and twisted all her hair up, just like Nurse Chapel. "I wanted to be as authentic as possible. For Sheldon."
"Surely that much skin will catch his eye," Penny said.
"You think so?" Amy looked up, hopeful.
Penny glanced over at Sheldon and Leonard inspecting the map of the ship that Sheldon had made and spread out on the coffee table. "I take it back. But that much nerdiness will."
There was a knock at the door, and Sheldon swiftly moved to answer it, admitting Howard and Raj, in costume, and Bernadette in a red tunic and leggings. "You too?" he whined. "Why can no one wear a costume as instructed?"
"They don't make maternity costumes. And even if they did, I wouldn't wear it. You try finding something comfortable to wear while strapping a watermelon to your stomach," Bernadette shot back.
"I brought Romulan Ale," Raj volunteered, lifting up the pitcher of blue liquid. "Okay, it's really blue raspberry Kool-Aid."
"Look at these cool furry-looking little stick things Amy made," Penny called to them, holding up one of the cake pops that Amy had fretted over the evening before.
"They're supposed to be Tribbles," Amy explained. "I know they're too small, but Sheldon agreed with some coercion."
"I conceded that perhaps they are the size of newborn Tribbles," Sheldon replied from across the room and then he perked up. "Oh! See, Bernadette! It's like a baby shower after all!"
"Yes, eating babies. If that doesn't say 'welcome to the world, little one' I don't know what does," Howard said.
"I think we should save them for a celebration, after we successfully complete this mission Sheldon has devised," Amy suggested after narrowing her eyes slightly at Howard.
"Excellent plan, Nurse Chapel!" He smiled at her from across the room, from where he was preparing to sit in his spot, and it was Amy's favorite smile, when he was most pleased and the most sincere with her. She smiled back.
"Nurse Chapel?" Leonard asked as he took his usual spot in the large white chair. "Does that mean we're starting?"
"I think we should, in case this proves to be lengthy." Sheldon reached for his notebook, the one he's snapped at Amy for attempting to peak at earlier. "Hurry up, Nurse, you're essential to this mission." He patted the empty sofa cushion next to him.
Essential? Amy scurried over to her empty spot next to Sheldon. She very much doubted that. Even if a character did need medical attention, Raj-as-Bones would be the one to attend to them. However, Sheldon was asking her to join him, although he seemed even more high strung than normal about this game, and she just couldn't resist him when he was wearing blue, anyway. And the ears were surprisingly adorable.
Sheldon open his notebook and cleared his throat dramatically as everyone took their places.
"Is he going to use the gavel again?" Penny asked.
"Shhhh!" Sheldon looked over at her. Another theatrical clearing of his throat. "Captain's Log, Star Date 1526.4 -"
"Wait," Leonard interrupted him and Sheldon sighed. Amy shot Leonard a poisonous look. Really, couldn't he let Sheldon read even the first paragraph before he complained? "I'm the captain, shouldn't I be doing that?"
"No, because I'm the dice-master."
"But you're not the captain, so how can Spock be writing his log? That's not logical," Leonard protested.
Sheldon frowned. "Fine." Leonard perked up and put his hand out for Sheldon's notebook, but he ignored his friend's gesture to clear his throat as though they hadn't heard it the first two times. "First Officer's Log, Star Date 1526.4." A quiet groan went around the room and Leonard sat back into the white chair with an eye roll. "We've received what seems to be a very faint Starfleet distress signal in the Altair system. Although there are no Federation records of any Starfleet ships in that galaxy, I've - I mean, the Captain - has ordered us to proceed with haste to offer any necessary assistance to our fellow vessel."
"Oh, it's so a trap!" Raj said.
"How do you know?" Bernadette asked.
"Because it's always a trap," Howard answered. "It's either a trap or a giant ball of light. One or the other, every time."
"Okay," Sheldon said loudly, "the Enterprise has arrived at the coordinates and has found a Starfleet G-class ship floating there. What do you do?"
"Wave?" Penny asked.
Sheldon sighed. "No. You cannot wave. You're inside hermetically sealed floating cities. They wouldn't see you."
"We could call. I'm sitting right next the space telephone," Bernadette offered.
"It's the comm system, not a space telephone. Are you two going to take this seriously or not?"
"I think Bernadette is serious. I agree we should try to hail them," Amy said, trying to calm her boyfriend down as she could already feel the tension in his thigh. She often tried to sit with her thigh touching his just to measure the tautness there. For purely scientific reasons, she'd explained to him when he inquired.
Several nods and she felt Sheldon relax slightly. "Okay, Uhura, role to see if the ship replies to your hail. And try to use the correct terminology going forward."
Ignoring him, Bernadette lifted the twenty-sided die off the table and rolled it. "18! Yes! And I get plus one for any communication-related check. They should hear us, loud and clear."
"No reply," Sheldon announced.
"What?" Penny asked.
"Maybe their comm system is down, if even a really strong signal doesn't get a reply," Howard suggested.
"Yeah, you're probably right. If they were attacked and damaged, that makes sense," Leonard said. "Okay, I think we should scan for life signs." He stretched forward to take the die off the table and rolled. "Hmm, ten."
"The scan is inconclusive," Sheldon revealed.
"Roll again, I guess?" Leonard looked around.
"But the flaw on your character bio is being impetuous and stubborn," Raj said, reading off the top Leonard's character demographic sheet lying on the table. "Each time you repeat the same action hoping for a different result, it's minus two off the die roll."
"Should you do it, Raj? You're the doctor, life signs seem like your job anyway," Howard suggested.
"No, Raj and I are still in sickbay, remember? No one's moved yet." Amy pointed to the map of the Enterprise, each person's meeple still in their starting location. "We probably don't even know what's happening on the bridge."
"I'll do it," Penny volunteered.
"You can't," Sheldon said. "Did you read your character biography, as instructed?"
"Huh? Oh." Penny unfolded the crumpled sheet in front of her and read it. "Wait, I can't perform any operations other than bringing beverages and clipboards to be signed? How is that fair?"
"You were a waitress, you should be a natural at those duties," Sheldon pointed out.
"Sheldon!" Amy admonished him.
"I think I should call Raj - Bones - to the bridge, then. And maybe Scotty, too, so we have all our resources in one place," Leonard said. Two successful rolls later, Raj and Howard's characters were in the turbolift heading toward the bridge.
"We're oan uir way, Cap'n," Howard said, returning to his inflated Scottish accent now that he was back in character.
"Just then," Sheldon said, reading from his notebook, "the entire ship shakes violently from side to side and the lights flicker just before the turbolift comes to a screeching halt, throwing Scotty and Bones onto the floor -"
"Go to red alert!" Leonard called.
"You have to role to see if the alert sounds," Sheldon said, looking at him.
"Really? It's an alarm." When Sheldon didn't change his expectant gaze, Leonard murmured, "Fine, okay. Rolling." The die skittered across the coffee table.
"Three," Bernadette read off the number with a frown.
"The red alert klaxon starts but it is muffled and slow," Sheldon explained.
"Okay," Howard asked, "is that because it's damaged or because of the bad roll?"
All eyes turned to Sheldon. "Don't look at me. I just report the outcome."
"But you're the science officer," Leonard said through clenched teeth.
"Excellent point. I think it's logical to run a full diagnostic of the ship's systems but only after we find out what hit us. After all, a malfunctioning alarm, while annoying, is not of paramount importance."
Leonard paused a moment. "He's probably right. If something's attacking us, that's the most pressing problem."
"But what about the turbolift?" Raj asked. "Scotty and I are stuck inside, right?, and you'll need us."
"Oh, I have details about that!" Sheldon smiled and looked back down at his notebook. "Scotty gets up, but Bones collapses with a painful cry when he puts any weight on his right leg."
Penny got up and walked toward the kitchen. "Where are you going?" Leonard asked.
"I getting myself a beverage. Oh, I forgot, would anyone else like something?" She smiled widely and batted her eyelashes.
"I'll take a glass of milk, please and thank you," Sheldon said.
"Um, I think that was satire," Amy leaned over and whispered.
"Yeoman, now is not the time!" Sheldon called."We're in the middle of a crisis!"
Penny raised her hand and gave him what was decidedly not the Vulcan salute. Not wanting to incur Sheldon's anger, Amy bit off a snicker.
"Give me the dice. I'll use Bones' medical tricorder to scan his injury and he'll talk me through hoo tae fix it," Howard said, slipping back into character.
"Bones didn't bring his medical tricorder," Sheldon explained.
"Wa ever nat?" Howard roared, looking at Raj.
Raj put up his hands. "I don't know, ask our science officer."
"He never brings it with him when he goes to the bridge. Did you ever watch the show?" Sheldon asked, incredulous.
"Why am I injured anyway? You said you needed Bones for this game and now I can't even walk, let alone do my job," Raj pouted.
"Well, it doesn't matter right now, because the bridge just received a report that the artificial gravity has failed on decks nine and ten," Sheldon said.
Amy groaned at the latest announcement.
"This is the worst episode ever!" Raj yelled.
"Agreed," Leonard said, bushing his eyebrows. "We don't know anything, that ship floating out there is either a trap or incapacitated but we have no way to find out, we seem to be under attack but haven't even had time to scan for an enemy ship yet, Spock is being secretive, Bones is injured, weird things are happening to my ship, and even my yeoman is worthless."
"Hey!" Penny yelled, slapping Leonard's arm as she sat back down with her glass of wine.
"I'm not saying it's your fault," Leonard protested. "I'm saying that the way the game is written it seems like we're supposed to fail."
"Wait, dae ye hink is th' Kobayashi Maru?" Howard asked.
"What's that?" Penny queried, leaning closer to Leonard.
"It's a test they give at Starfleet Academy. It's supposedly an unwinnable situation, but Kirk won it when he was a cadet by cheating," Leonard explained. "But, in the original series, we never find out how he did it."
"What system did you say we were in again?" Amy asked, turning toward Sheldon.
"I think you should all take better notes," he answered.
"Spock, I'm ordering you to tell us what system we're in," Leonard thundered.
Although he gave a very un-Spock-like sigh, Sheldon complied. "The Altair system."
"That's it, right?" Raj asked.
"Here, I'll look it up," Bernadette offered, grabbing her phone.
"You can't look it up!" Sheldon yelled.
"But Uhura sits right next to a computer on the bridge!" Bernadette shock back.
"But cell phones don't exist, they're - they're obsolete technology. That's cheating!" Sheldon's voice got even louder.
Penny wrinkled her brow. "But if this really is the hokey pokey -"
"Kobayashi Maru!" Sheldon shouted.
"Whatever. Anyway, if this is that thing, then we have to cheat to win, right? That's what Kirk did. Leonard just said so," she finished.
"No, no, no! I never said this is the Kobayashi Maru!" Sheldon shot back.
"Technically, he's right, he never said that," Raj said. Then he shrugged. "But if it is, then technically Penny's right and we can cheat however we want."
"No, you can't!"
"Okay," Bernadette said, putting her hands out. "How about I call - I mean, hail - Starfleet or someone, so they'll send out another ship? Or at least answer our questions."
"Starfleet is not AAA! Or phone a friend! We're on a deep space mission, out exploring strange new worlds all our on own! We're supposed to be boldly going, not whining and cheating!"
Sheldon groaned and flopped back in his seat, slapping his hand over his face. "Why did I ever think this was a good idea? I just wanted this to be perfect and you're all ruining it."
"Everyone calm down," Amy said firmly and then turned toward her boyfriend, putting her hand on his arm. She didn't really understand why Sheldon was so obsessed with making this perfect - other than it was Sheldon and it was Star Trek, but even this reaction seemed like a bit much for him - but she knew the signs of his tantrums well. "Sheldon, not everyone knows as much about Star Trek as you do, so they will ask some questions that you find stupid and get some terms wrong. But we're all here playing, right? We all came over to play your game. Look at me, I'm here, I'm dressed up, and I want to roll to see if I can get to the turbolift and help my boss with his leg."
Sheldon spread his fingers and looked at her through the slits he'd created, but he didn't say anything.
"I'm here and I want to play," Amy repeated softly, squeezing his arm, hoping he could hear the sincerity in her voice.
Sheldon nodded, put his hand down, and leaned forward again. "Okay, Nurse Chapel will roll to see if she can make it to the turbolift to aid Bones. Uhura can roll to see if she can get ahold of someone at Starfleet."
"Ah'll roll tae see if Ah can use mah manly brawn tae pull open these turbolift doors."
The game resumed along mostly peaceful lines. Nurse Chapel successfully made it to the turbolift, despite the newly flickering lights on deck. By the time she'd got there, Scotty had muscled open the turbolift doors and managed to pull Bones out into the passage before heading to the bridge via an access tube. Yeoman Rand volunteered to go down and help, and she and Nurse Chapel rolled high enough to splint Bones' broken leg, at least until they could get him to sickbay to repair it. Uhura tried and failed to raise anyone at Starfleet or any other ships in the sector. At reports of the loss of gravity on two decks, Captain Kirk, Spock, and Scotty worked together to successfully re-route power from the replicators to stabilize the artificial gravity generator, even if it meant there wouldn't be any way to replicate food or drink for awhile ("Bet my Romulan Kool-Aid is looking pretty good right now!" Raj cheered). Other decks were reporting sporadic system failures, but none were yet deemed life threatening, only nuisances, so it was decided to ignore most of them for the time being. Especially once Spock reported unusual heat fluctuations coming from the apparent derelict ship floating in front of them.
"I think we should scan it again," Leonard said. "Not for life signs, just a general scan. See if we can determine the cause of the heat fluctuations."
"Is th' sam happenin' tae us that's happenin' tae them?" Howard asked.
"Just then, the bridge receives a report of an increased temperature in engineering," Sheldon offered.
"Ah, ah, ah," Howard wailed, "ma' engine!"
"And I thought things were getting better," Bernadette moaned.
"I think Howard's right. We have to consider that whatever happened to that ship is happening to us. Let's get out of here, put some distance between us," Leonard said. "I'll roll to see if we can go to warp." He picked up the die and rolled. "Twelve. Meh."
"Sulu attempts to engage the warp engines, but all that is heard is a high pitch whine," Sheldon read.
"I'm ordering Scotty to go to engineering to see what's going on," Leonard said.
"On me way, Cap'n! I'll give you alls she's got." He paused, and then said in Howard's normal voice, "Do you think I should even bother with the turbolift or just go down an access tube?"
"Access tube," Raj suggested. "You only have to get a four for that to work."
Howard rolled and made it successfully to engineering.
"After inspecting his systems, Scotty hails the bridge and reports to the captain that there are strange readings near a section of the warp drive," Sheldon read.
"What kind of readings? Like an alien on board or antimatter fluctuations?"
"'Well, Captain, it appears that there's a some sort of small metallic device attached inside one of the ejection ventilation tubes for the warp core,' Scotty said," Sheldon read.
"No, it's 'it appears dat there's a some sort o' small metallic device attached juss inside one o' de ejection ventilation tubes fe de warp core!" Howard corrected him.
"Thank you, that really cleared it up," Bernadette added.
"Ejection ventilation tubes for the warp core?" Leonard repeated. "Scotty, could you be more specific?"
"If you look at page twelve of the game guide," Sheldon answered instead, "you'll find a schematic for the warp core ejection system. There are small ventilation tubes that run right next to the warp core, to help offset any overheating that could cause a warp core breach, especially when the core is being ejected. The goal is to prevent excess heat build-up and limit fire potential in engineering."
Howard picked up the booklet in the center of the table and turned to the page in question. "Wow, Sheldon, this isn't too bad. Did you draw this yourself?"
"The Internet is a magical place, my friend," he answered.
"Spock, as our science officer, what are your theories?" Leonard asked.
"I can only speculate, Captain, but if the purpose of this blocked tube is to cool the warp drive and prevent overheating in engineering -"
"And we've 'av'n 'eat and power fluctuations in thar!" Howard interjected.
"Precisely." Sheldon nodded in his direction.
"So, we need to remove this piece of metal or whatever it is from the tube, right?, and see if that solves our problems." Leonard said. "I think we should remove it and then try to decide where it came from, inspect it for more clues and stuff."
"Let's beam it out," Bernadette offered.
"No, remember, the transporters went offline just after the gravity generator," Amy reminded them.
"And he said 'attached,' right?" Leonard looked in Sheldon's direction and he nodded. "So it's not just something stuck there. My guess is that some alien beamed this thing in and attached it to our warp drive without our knowledge. It's probably interfaced in some way and we need to be very careful when we remove it. I'm going down to engineering. I think Spock should join me. I'll give Sulu the comm."
Just as he reached for the die to determine if he was able to make it uneventfully to engineering, Sheldon said, "Suddenly, the Enterprise is rocked again by a massive wave as the ship you originally came to rescue explodes in space on the view screen. The lights flicker once more and then seem to go out permanently. The Enterprise has lost power for all but the emergency systems."
A groan went around the room as Leonard said, "We've got to get this thing out of our warp drive before it kills us, too!"
Multiple theories were put forward. Once Kirk and Spock made it to engineering, they discovered that the device couldn't even be properly seen because of interference from the warp core. Scanning it was not an option because of the lack of power. Several rolls helped them charge and start a few emergency generators. Debates ensued about shutting down the warp core, especially how long it would take to come up with the correct intermix ratio calculation so the matter and the anti-matter would be mixed correctly should they need to restart it quickly. In the end, it was decided that shutting down the warp core was the only option, and it became even more imperative with Spock repeatedly informing them of the ever-increasing heat in engineering.
Nurse Chapel was surprised when Spock suggested that, given the possibility of heat strokes among the crew, she should come to engineering herself to give first aid if needed. Nurse Chapel in turn said Yeoman Rand should also join them with cold glasses of water.
"The warp core successfully completes its shut down procedure," Sheldon said, once most of them were assembled in engineering and a series rolls had been completed to perform the various steps of the process.
"Let's use our tricorders to scan that thing - they're battery powered. I think it should be you, Sheldon, because you're Spock and you get a plus two for any science related task," Leonard said.
"Ay agree," Howard added.
Sheldon nodded and rolled the dice. "Sixteen. Plus two." He looked back down at his notebook. "The scan reveals a small, loop-shaped object approximately two centimeters in size comprised of a metastable allotrope of carbon and aurum."
"Carbon? Aurum? What?" Raj asked. He had been quiet lately, and when they turned to looked at him they realized he was on his phone.
"What are you doing? I said no cell phones! And we're at the climax!" Sheldon said.
"Well, Bones hasn't got anything to do now but lie in sickbay. He has to pass the time doing something. I am listening; I just agreed with all your decisions. Besides, I'm playing Star Trek: Wrath of Gems, so there."
"What is that?" Amy asked.
"It's like a Star Trek themed Candy Crush," Howard explained. "It's got a story mode, and you can battle against aliens or another player and everything. It's addictive."
"Yeah, it really is," Bernadette said from where she leaning back into the sofa, playing with her own phone.
"You, too?" Amy turned to asked. "We said we were going to play Sheldon's game."
"No one invited me to engineering, so what do you care?" Bernadette asked.
Amy frowned as she realized that was true, but before she could speak, Sheldon said, "Could you send me the link to the app store?"
"Oh, so it's cheating until you want to play," Leonard said.
"I'm not going to download it now." Sheldon shook his head. "Okay, back to our game. What do we do next?"
"So we can't tell how this thing is attached and we doesn't have enough power to beam it out . . ." Leonard started and let the sentence hang there hopelessly.
"Can we reverse the polarity of the deflector dish? Emit a tachyon pulse? One of those things always seems to work," Amy offered.
"Logical suggestions, Nurse Chapel," Sheldon said. "I'm going to ignore the fact that those are related to innovations in our future, a next generation of time if you will, because your uniform standards are so high."
Amy blushed and looked down at her blue dress. Even if it seemed like Spock was replying, not Sheldon, it meant that one or both of them had noticed and appreciated her uniform. Or her sheer pantyhose. Or, more likely for both of those persons, her correct use of the term tachyon pulse. Staying up late reading Memory Alpha before bed instead of a novel had paid off, just as she hoped it would.
"When Amy says it, it's innovative, but I say it, I get scolded," Raj muttered.
"Can we just reach in and carefully determine how it's attached?" Leonard asked. "Mister Spock?"
"Hmmmm." Sheldon pursed his lips. "It's a very delicate task, Captain. It would involve putting a sensitive part of one's body through this thin shielding tube, surrounded by the hot and pulsing core of the warp drive -"
"Soonds loch a job fur th' captain's yoo-know-what," Howard interjected.
"- and the tube is very narrow. I do not think any of our male hands would fit. Maybe a female's," Sheldon finished.
"Do you have tongs or anything?" Amy turned toward Howard, deciding to stop any more grievances from being aired. "You know, so we could just reach into the tube and grab this thing. Because, based on what Sheldon just said, I presume the core is still hot, even though we shut it off."
Sheldon nodded in affirmation at her implied question.
"But we can't just yank it out. If it's attached, it could damage the warp drive," Leonard said.
"I don't think we have a choice," Amy pointed out. "If we leave it there, we don't have the warp drive to use anyway."
"It is hard to fault her logic, Captain," Sheldon said.
"Of course you'd take her side," Leonard mumbled.
"I'll going back to sickbay to get some surgical tongs," Amy said, reaching for the die. She rolled a fifteen, which Sheldon immediately informed her was successful and she was already back in engineering with the needed instrument.
"So now all you have to do is use them to retrieve the object," he explained, pushing the die close to her again.
Amy looked over at Penny, leaning back in her chair and aimlessly twirling another glass of wine. She had perked up slightly when Amy asked her to come to engineering with water and had rolled to get there, but she seemed mostly forgotten as a character. Amy understood that was the way it may have been on the original show, but she was not going to stand aside and let her fellow ladies be mere supporting characters. "I think Yeoman Rand should do it," she said suddenly.
"What?" Sheldon turned to looked at her, his mouth open and his eyebrows raised.
"Just because we only see her bringing beverages and clipboards doesn't mean she's incapable of other tasks. She is an officer and the highest ranking yeoman on Starfleet's flagship, so we know she passed certain requirements to get to such a position. And she was very helpful to me earlier, helping me get Bones back to sickbay. And, then, if she can't, we should call Uhura to engineering to try."
"No, Nurse Chapel, it has to be you!" Sheldon practically yelled.
Amy furrowed her brow and looked over her boyfriend, his thigh tense against her leg. "Why? What difference does it make? I just went and got the tongs. Surely it's someone else's turn now."
"Because - because you have plus three patience!" Sheldon pointed down to her biographic sheet. "You'll be the most careful, the slowest, the gentlest. It's the only logical solution."
"He's probably right. I have zero patience. I wondered what that was for," Leonard said. Then he looked over at Penny. "Sorry, hon."
"I think I'll live," Penny said, taking a drink of her wine.
Looking around at everyone's faces, Amy took a deep breath. "Are we all in agreement? I should roll to use the tongs and try to pull out whatever this mystery object is?" They all nodded and she smiled. Although she still felt bad for Raj, Penny, and Bernadette, who seemed to have left by the wayside, she had to admit a thrill at being the one chosen to do this. Sheldon had said this was the climax, so it only made sense that her success here would determine the course of the game. If she saved the ship for all of them, Sheldon would be so thrilled and proud and - "Okay."
She picked up the die, shook it for an extra long time, and squeezed her eyes shut when she released it, listening to the sound of it on the paper-covered coffee table until it came to a stop. "Well?" she asked as she opened her eyes.
"Five," Leonard said and there was no hiding the disappointment in his voice.
"But plus three, so that's eight," Howard added. However, his lack of accent gave him away.
"Can you try again? There's no penalty on your card for doing the same thing twice," Leonard suggested.
"I don't know." She looked over at Sheldon. "Can I?"
"You were successful," Sheldon said, and, even though she was certain she imagined it, she thought there was croak in his voice. He wiggled to reach into his pocket and leaned forward as though to set something on the coffee table.
"But how can that be? I only got an eight and -"
A loud gasp was heard and Amy wasn't entirely sure if it was her own or a collective sound. There, sitting on the table in front of her, was a ring. An actual ring, a piece of jewelry, with a diamond solitaire and everything, not the circular electrical component she'd been imagining. A loop-shaped object approximately two centimeters in diameter comprised of carbon and aurum: yes, of course, it was exactly how a Vulcan would describe just such a ring.
"I don't understand," she whispered, feeling hot and unsure of reality, even as she kept staring at it.
"Is that a . . . " Raj didn't finish his sentence.
Sheldon's hand crept over her's. She looked up at him and he rotated in his spot, his eyes bright and intense. "Nurse Chapel. There comes a point in every man's life, be he human or Vulcan, in which he realizes that a mate is desirable. It is only logical that when he discovers a woman with the qualities he has deemed most appropriate, that he should recommend mating with her as the most expedient course of action. I have found in you a woman of resource, skill, and an ordered mind that would suit my lifestyle most reasonably. Nurse Chapel, will you pair-bond for life with me?"
The room was unusually quiet or maybe she just couldn't hear anything over the rush in her ears, the tightness in her chest, and the pounding of her heart. "Sheldon," she said softly.
"I'm Spock right now," he replied.
Amy nodded in an absent-minded fashion and then took several deep breaths in the still room, trying to order her mind just the way Spock-Sheldon said it was. But it felt all jumbled. "That's the problem, Sheldon. What I need to know is: is this you or is this really Spock?"
"That's a very philosophical question that one often encounters when playing a role-playing game -"
"No." Amy stood abruptly, dropping his hand, and looked down at her boyfriend, who, with his dark hair, uniform shirt, and pointy ears did look an awful lot like Spock at the moment. But his eyes were all Sheldon and she concentrated on those. "I need this to be real, Sheldon. I need to know that you mean it. You, not Spock. And not just a task or device for some game, something else to earn by rolling. I need to know that my boyfriend, the man I love every day of my life, Sheldon Cooper, is the one speaking. I need that man to be the one to tell me if he's really asking me to marry him, and I need to know that it's because he loves me and not just because it's logical." Her voice broke even though she was trying very hard to remain calm. "Please, Sheldon, I need this to be real or I need to leave."
"Ames, I think -" Penny started.
But Sheldon extended a hand out toward their blonde friend to silence her, even as he never broke Amy's gaze. Swallowing deeply, he lowered his hand and reached for the ring setting on the Enterprise map on the coffee table. As he slid off the edge of the sofa and down onto one knee, Amy let out a little squeak just as she saw Penny out of the corner of her eye start slapping Leonard's arm.
"Amy," Sheldon started, "just like Spock, I often struggle to verbalize my emotions. I try to find structured ways to explain them to you, and, unlike Spock, sometimes I fail. But all those things Spock just said he felt for Nurse Chapel, I feel for you to an infinite amount. I also feel all sorts of illogical emotions for you, too, such as how beautiful you are and how much I love kissing you -" Amy heard herself squeak again as her hand went up over her mouth and her eyes started to dampen "- and how if I can't sleep at night all I have to do is recall our latest conversation and I can't wait for the sound of your knock on my door. You have been the matter to my anti-matter all along, and I just had to discover the correct ratio to intermix them before our reaction could occur. Do you know what I discovered the solution to the equation was? It was just giving you the numbers to arrange, just me giving myself to you. If you'll have me. So this is me, the human man who loves you very much, asking you to be my wife. Not for a game, but forever. Amy Farrah Fowler, will you marry me?"
"Yes, yes, yes, you pointy-eared nerd! Of course I'll marry you!" Amy bent down and grabbed the sides of Sheldon's face, covering his ears, pressing her lips to his even as his eyebrows raised. The ring was still suspended in his hand, in the air above his knee, and she could feel it touching the front of her uniform, a physical reminder of how very real this moment was.
A loud cheer when up around the room. "I never thought I'd say this about Star Trek, but that was so romantic," Penny whispered, leaning closer to her husband and weaving her fingers through his.
Amy broke away from the kiss and helped Sheldon stand next to her, constantly keeping at least one of her hands attached to him. She stood facing him, her palms resting on his forearms, smiling up at him.
"I can't put the ring on if you don't let me move my arms."
"Oh, of course!"
The shackles of her joy removed, Sheldon took Amy's left hand, sliding the ring down her finger, even as Amy wiped the happy tears off her cheek with the other. "This belonged to my great-grandmother."
"It's beautiful," Amy cooed, bringing her hand up to inspect it closer. It really was beautiful. And perfect. Everything in this moment, even Sheldon's left ear point that was drooping and threatening to fall off from her passionate grasp of him, was perfect.
Too soon, Bernadette and Penny crowded around her, wedging between her and Sheldon, examining the ring themselves, giving squealing sounds of appreciation.
"Excuse me, we have a game to finish," Sheldon protested.
"Who cares!" Penny cheered, stepping away and allowing Amy to be close to Sheldon again. "This calls for a celebration!"
"Or maybe we should leave them alone so Spock can put something in her core," Bernadette said.
"Uhura! That is innuendo unbecoming a bridge officer," Sheldon said. "Plus Scotty already made that joke."
"Spock, maybe it's Pon Farr," Howard suggested. "There's a whole episode about that, so it's canon."
"Nurse, help me. I think we should finish this game instead of discussing our mating rituals in front of the whole crew. It's highly unprofessional," Sheldon said, his eyes begging Amy to agree.
"But what if I wear this dress," Amy leaned in closer, resting her palm on his chest, lowering her voice to even more dusty timbre, gazing up into her fiancé's - fiancé! - beautiful blue eyes, "and nothing else."
Reaching down and picking up the last Tribble cake pop by the stick, he lifted it up and inspected the tiny coconut flakes embedded in the chocolate of its surface. Sheldon allowed himself a soft smile. Even this small pastry had been crafted to perfection by Amy, a testament to her meticulous eye for detail. Perfect Amy. He took a bite, struggling to keep the cake ball from falling off the stick. Of course she was; she'd come to the correct conclusion he was the best possible man to marry, and if that wasn't the definition of perfection, he didn't know what was.
"Sorry we didn't finish the game," Leonard said, coming to stand up next to him. "Maybe the four of us guys can finish it some evening, while our ladies talk about weddings and babies."
After Amy's . . . suggestion, it had been impossible to get anyone interested in the game again. The only way to prevent ever more embarrassing double entendres ("Aye, Spock, ur ye finally gonnae put yer hans oan her ample nacelles an' lift aff!") was to agree to turn their snacks into a little party. Plus, once he'd had to remove both his ears because the left one came off, he just didn't feel as Spock-like as he thought the game deserved. Following Leonard's gaze, Sheldon looked over at the three females huddled close together on the sofa, staring down at an iPad. Occasionally a word wafted over like "dress" or "venue" or "flowers."
Swallowing, he said, "I'll admit it's not my best work. Maybe if you give me a few days, I'll work more on it. The science isn't sound, either, I just made up the part about the ventilation tubes. They really don't appear in any technical manual." He rapidly ate the other half of his cake pop before he confessed to more gross negligence in his dice-master duties, like the schematic on page twelve was actually the patent application for the Dyson vacuum cleaner. Or that Nurse Chapel would have been successful even if she had only rolled a one.
"Really?" Leonard said. "I can't believe you cheated." Then he smiled. "Unless it really was the Kobayashi Maru."
Sheldon shook his head. "No, but there were times it felt like it. I just wanted it to be perfect for Amy, to get Nurse Chapel to engineering to pull out the ring . . . " He shrugged and then frowned. "But what if she finds out? I shouldn't have told you."
"I don't think she minds. I think she would say it was perfect," Leonard said softly, and this time he actually pointed toward the ladies with his glass of Romulan Kool-Aid.
Just then Amy looked up and Sheldon met her eyes and she smiled at him, her beautiful, happy smile, and he felt his heart tug in his chest. A happy gentle tug, not the fearful thumping all through the game when he thought everyone was ruining it or that Amy wasn't enjoying it or that Amy thought it was stupid or that maybe Amy realized the science wasn't sound or that terrifying moment when Spock proposed and she stood and looked . . . confused? frightened? hurt? He wasn't sure, really, other than he thought he would do anything so that she never looked that way again. That he would have died if she had left at that moment. If she left at any moment in his future.
There were those lines in the first season episode 'The Naked Time,' in which Nurse Chapel was trying to explain her love to Spock, and Sheldon thought of them now. Hadn't that been like Amy, all along? She had always seen him, seen his feelings, the ones he tried to hide, how he'd been hurt, how he struggled to stay in control. But she loved him just as he was. She had loved him even back when he was pretending that he couldn't understand her, when he couldn't even bring himself to apologize for refusing to understand her, like Spock had to Nurse Chapel. And, yet, here he was, more of a man, more of a human than he'd ever been because of her. It felt irrefutable.
He wanted to so desperately to tell her that, to hold her as close as possible and whisper it in her ear, to tell her all the things that the Vulcan side of him was forever holding back . . .
"Leonard," Sheldon said softly and his friend turned to look at him, "will you and Penny sleep across the hall tonight?"
If he hadn't acutely needed Leonard to agree, he would have rolled his eyes at the stupid grin he was met with. "Sure, buddy."
"Hey, Sheldon, good job on the game." Howard came up to join them, and Sheldon welcomed the interruption so Leonard wouldn't ask any more questions. "And congratulations on joining the club."
"Gee, thanks, dude," Raj said, shaking his head.
"Well, polygamy isn't legal," Howard said, "so . . . yeah, I got nothing. It's just weird."
"Thank you," Sheldon replied, ignoring the exchange with Raj. "Leonard has suggested the four of us finish the game some evening. I'd like to see it to conclusion. You guys never did get around to scanning for hostile ships, so there's a whole subplot to be explored."
"Awesome! I'm in," Howard said.
"I don't know," Raj said. "It was probably the best episode of Star Trek ever. How are you ever going to top that?"
Sheldon let out a long breath. Raj had a good point. "You're right. I need to start working on the version to play at our wedding as soon as possible. Should it be one large game or should we break it down into smaller groups? If so, who wins? A scoring system or the first crew that completes their mission? Or should one side of the room battle the other as Klingons? Romulans? . . ."
Darn it, readers, I'm a writer, not a dungeon master! Or an engineer. Or a walking Star Trek encyclopedia, although Star Trek is one of my favorite things. Which is my way of saying that I have no doubt there are errors in all those areas, but I'm hopeful you'll accept the spirit of the story if not the law.
In case you're wondering, all the board/card/app games mentioned here (expect Sheldon's, of course) really do exist.
Last, but the farthest thing from the least, a HUGE THANK YOU to rgbcn for her beautiful art work based on this story. If you're not following her on Instagram or other forms of social media (handle: rgbcn) you should be! She's amazing!
Thank you in advance for your reviews, and here's hoping for many nerdy/fluffy Shamy moments in Season 10! Live long and prosper!