by Lorraine Anderson

He felt the stares as he entered the bridge, and thought, well, this may have been a mistake. Perhaps the communication should have been done someplace else. But he knew it was best resolved here... in the Captain's chair.

He saw the bridge crew stare at his medium brown grey peppered hair, his upswept ears, his delicate, Terran eyebrows, his blue eyes, his lanky body. They all knew what had happened, but human curiosity won out. Uhura, bless her, turned back to her console first, followed rapidly by the rest of the bridge crew.

Sulu, sitting in the Captain's chair, turned to face him expectantly.

"Situation?" he ventured.

"Unchanged, Cap... sir." He saw Sulu blush as he stumbled over the salutation.

"At ease, Mr. Sulu," he said. "When I'm on the bridge, I'm the captain."

Sulu smiled. "Yes, sir." He moved to his console.

He addressed the rest of the bridge. "And that goes for all of you, in spite of what you see me do." He felt the amusement inside himself.

"Captain," Uhura said. "Dr. M'Benga is wondering if you're on the bridge."

"I'll talk to him."

The doctor sounded anxious. "You really should stay in sickbay, sir, and... rest."

He snorted and pushed back the lock of hair that fell on his forehead. "I'm as well as I can be, Doctor." He was amused to note that his voice affected a Georgian accent when he talked to M'Benga.

"Dammit... sir, you are not all right, and you know it!"

He sighed. "No. Nothing about this is right. But the situation demands that I be here. You need to work with Scotty."

"I know, but... "

"I know. But lives are at stake." And they were. He couldn't give in to his problems, as huge as they might be. He couldn't fight his instinct... he knew he had to be on the bridge.

They all did.

Kirk sat under the rocky ledge, phaser drawn, looking out at the driving rain. His hair was plastered to his forehead, and his shirt was streaked with mud. At least it was a warm rain. "You know," he said to no one in particular, "this is a hell of a way to spend an evening."

McCoy offered a drink pod to Kirk. "Care for part of my Mint Julep?"

Kirk looked at him. "Where... ?"

"Spock gave it to me," McCoy said with an innocent expression.

Kirk looked over at Spock, who looked at him with a raised eyebrow. "I'm curious where you stored it," Kirk explained.

"When the battle started," Spock said, scanning the terrain, "the Doctor handed it to me."

"It was a reflex." McCoy spread his hands, then looked distastefully at the phaser he was holding.

"I found it in my hand when we gained this shelter."

"Such as it is," Kirk said, looking up at the low overhang. He laughed.

McCoy looked at him. "I could use a good joke."

"Forgive me, Spock. I was just thinking of what a sight we must have been. I was wearing someone's cake on my head, Bones had someone's salad on his shirt, and there you were, phaser in one hand, Mint Julep in the other." He laughed.

McCoy grinned, then chuckled.

"I believe, gentlemen," Spock said, keeping his vigilant watch into the rain, "that this is known as 'gallows humor'? Should we indulge in this right now?"

Kirk smiled. "Yes, it is, and no, we shouldn't indulge in humor right now. But it was either that, or jump out of my skin. We've been here for fifteen minutes. I don't believe we were followed, do you?"

"Jim," McCoy said. "Do you have any idea what happened in there?"

"Apparently, Starfleet's mining company on St. Barnabas has some dissidents." Kirk said. "Commander Sidrat mentioned it in his report to the Federation, but he was also adamant that it wasn't that much of a problem. Certainly not a mutiny, anyway."

"Well, he did seem to be a prickly sort," McCoy commented. "Did anybody see what happened to him?"

"I believe he was killed by one of the dissidents," Spock said. "I did not see him after the beginning of the brawl."

Kirk looked at him. "It wouldn't be smart to kill the Chief Miner, particularly when he was the only one currently on the planet with the code to the mining shafts."

"Captain," Spock said. "This may be more than a mutiny. I caught a glimpse of a vulcanoid face. I am positive I was the only vulcanoid on the planet."

Kirk raised his eyebrows. "Oh? Vulcan or Romulan?"

"Vulcan... has its dissidents, but even those dissidents are very rarely jolly. This woman was laughing."

"That would suggest Romulan involvement." Kirk inspected the wet landscape. "But we're not near the Neutral zone."

"There has been rumors of a Romulan pirate on the outfringes of the Federation planets. I believe humans call her 'Harpy Hannah'."

"Harpy Hannah," McCoy said, looking astonished. "A pirate named 'Harpy Hannah'? Have you been reading Treasure Island, Spock?"

"I've heard of her," Kirk muttered. "She's said to be charismatic, impulsive... and somewhat psychopathic. She tends to draw like minded individuals into her web like a black widow spider... and she's often as ruthless, if someone gets in her way. The Federation believe that she gives much of her gains to a planet she found. . .," he waved a hand, ". . .someplace. But they can't prove it." He looked at Spock. "Nonetheless, Spock, sources placed her across the galaxy."

"Sources can be wrong," McCoy offered.

"Don't I know it." Kirk took out his communicator. "Still, it takes a lot of gall to attack with a Starship circling overhead. It makes me wonder what her objective is... us, or the mines."

"Captain," Spock said, shifting his weight slightly. "Mr. Sidrat seemed strained throughout the dinner. An obvious conclusion may be that Hannah was already here."

"Possible. And didn't the the personnel bring along their wives and children? I didn't see either at dinner." He shrugged. "In either case, I don't intend to surrender meekly." Kirk flipped his communicator open. "Since we can't seem to get to the shuttlecraft, let's see what Scotty has found out... Kirk to Enterprise."

"Yes, Captain." Mr. Scott's voice sounded tinny and faded in and out.

"How close are you?"

"I'm workin' on transporting you out of there, but the magnetic fields are playing hob with my instruments." Scott paused. "I'm tryin' to strengthen the transporters, but I dinna like the figures the computers are giving me."

"And those are... ?" McCoy said, over Kirk's shoulder.

"Somethin' like seventy percent chance of a transport failure. The sensors aren't penetratin' too well, but I think you're over a particularly strong magnetic ore line. Can you move maybe a kilometer east?"

"East is a relative term on a magnetic ore planet," Spock said. "Do you mean a kilometer opposite of sunset?"

"Aye, Mr. Spock."

"We can try," Kirk said. "We'll let you know. Kirk out." He looked over at Spock. "What do you think?"

"I believe we should try moving, Captain. There is nothing gained by staying here."

"Gee," McCoy drawled. "And I was just thinking about taking a nap, Jim."

"Then we're going. Try to stay low."

"If I get any lower, I'll be burrowing."

Kirk slipped out first, then motioned the others to follow. The rain seemed to be slacking, but it pushed his hair into his eyes, and he paused to brush it back and look at what little he could see of the setting sun. They started in the opposite direction.

The planetary report that some areas of this planet were covered with lush vegetation and huge trees. Kirk wished that this was one of those spots. As the trio slipped and slid through the dark brown mud and the fine, grass like vegetation, he felt extremely exposed in his command gold shirt.

Kirk slipped, fell face first, got up coughing, then looked down at his uniform speculatively. "Camouflage," he said, taking off his shirt and storing it under a nearby rock. "It may help." He dropped down to make sure the mud covered his back, then smeared some on his face. He looked up. The rain was definitely stopping. All the better.

"Captain," Spock said. "According to the planetary report, this mud is magnetic. As you know, the transporter... "

"Let's take our chances. Better than being captured or dead."

McCoy had already taken off his shirt. "Or a stick in the mud." Kirk threw a handful of mud at him.

Shaking his head, Spock reluctantly followed. As soon as they were covered, they continued eastward.

Kirk kept going over in his mind what had brought them here. A shout for help, then nothing. A Starfleet mining company attacked in what was supposed to be a safe area. And when the Enterprise arrived, Commander Sidrat said it was a mistake. A mistake!

After being dressed down by Kirk, Sidrat agreed and meekly invited the Command Staff of the Enterprise for dinner. Very atypical for the Commander, from what Kirk had heard, but Kirk had thought very little of it at the time.

At dinner, Sidrat had looked nervous. Suddenly, he had shouted "It's a... " Then all hell had broken loose.

The signs were there. Kirk had failed to see them. He could kick himself. He hated 20/20 hindsight.

The trio topped a hill. Kirk dropped to the ground, McCoy and Spock dropping a second later. "I should have known," Kirk whispered, "that they would think of this area, too."

McCoy watched the flashlights bobbing a quarter of a kilometer away from them. "Are we close enough?"

"I'm not sure. Spock?"

"I approximate that we've only come two thirds of a kilometer." He looked down at his tricorder. "We still need to be further East. The risk factor is still at 62 for a successful transport."

"Damn!" McCoy said. "Look behind us." More flashlights bobbed to the west.

"I am surprised that they are not using tricorders," Spock said. "Even with the limitations of the magnetic ore, my life signs should show up quite clearly on this planet." At McCoy's questioning look, he said, "I am the only Vulcanoid/human hybrid here, Doctor."

"There they are!" a voice shouted.

"I think they're using tricorders," McCoy said wryly.

A phaser beam came toward them, barely missing Spock's head. "And phasers," McCoy added.

Spock looked at his tricorder. "That shot was at killing strength."

Kirk flipped open the communicator. "Kirk to Enterprise."

"Scott here."

"We need to beam up now."

"But Captain... !"

"We either die now or take our chances in the transporter beam. Beam us up."

"Aye, Captain." Scott sounded worried.

"Damn transporters," McCoy muttered. "Still haven't gotten the bugs out of 'em."

"We'll make it," Kirk said, as the familiar transporter effect took over. . .

"We're losing them!" Kyle yelled. Efficiently, he started the sequence for the emergency override as Mr. Scott took over the other end of the console, cursing to himself.

"Try doublin' the beam," Scott said. "I'm transferrin' power from the engines." He glanced up at the transport platform. Three indistinct forms of energy flickered in and out. "Damn ore." One flicker brought the trio into a clearer view. "Damn. They're covered in it!" He redoubled his efforts.

One of the platforms sparked, then another. "We have to send them back," Kyle said. "It's going to blow!" The transporter console crackled and spat, then blew a panel out.

"Do it!" Scott looked at the transport platform, then blinked. One form seemed stronger than the others... but it didn't look right. Then it disappeared from view.

Kyle stepped back, anguish in his eyes. "I'm only showing one person back on the planet. The other two... are gone."

Scott stepped back from from the console as if it were a snake. "Oh, my God. Which one?" He thought a moment. "And is he alive?"

Kyle shook his head. "I don't know!"

The console crackled again, then its lights went dead.

Despite the pain coursing through him, Spock felt the Katras of Kirk and McCoy writhe in anguish. He knew they couldn't stand much of this punishment without going mad. It was difficult without physical contact, but he reached out with his mind, touched both of them, and attempted to start the mind meld to ease their pain...

He woke up suddenly, his eyes fluttering, then he clamped them shut to take stock. He was warm, he was dry, and there were clean sheets over him. He felt confused, then felt puzzled for being confused. Where am I? he thought.

What is this?

Wait a moment.

We are one, came an overriding thought. I will release you.

Almost like a physical shock, he felt himself split into three separate thought patterns.

McCoy. Jim. Do not move.

I wasn't really planning on it. a voice drawled. Spock? What's going on? Why am I hearing you in my mind?

Spock. There was a transporter accident, wasn't there? I think... I know what's happened... shock emanated from the thought pattern.

Yes, Captain. I believe that the three of us are sharing consciousnesses in one body.

Shock. That was my mouth dropping open. McCoy exclaimed. How!

The transporter was malfunctioning. I felt your pain. I drew you to me.

Do you mean... we're dead? McCoy and myself? Kirk thought slowly.

This is not my idea of an afterlife, Jim.

No, Captain. I am--we are--in a healing trance. That would suggest my body... but it does not feel right, for lack of a more precise term. Blood pressure, heartbeat...

Can you share your perceptions with McCoy?

Silence. Yes, Captain.


Not Vulcan. Not human, either. Definitely not Spock's. This is a hell of a fix. I told you those transporters...

Not now, Bones. Let's see where we are. Spock? Can we get out of the healing trance?

Silence. Captain, I believe that we are out of the healing trance, but I can neither move nor speak. I believe we will need to mind meld to control this body. We shall have to become one.

Damn, McCoy thought. You mean we can't run this by committee vote. I was afraid of that.

No, Doctor. Spock thought slowly.

You seem hesitant, Spock, Kirk thought. What are the dangers?

The longer we remain one mind, the more intertwined our personalities would be. It will become more and more difficult to emerge from the meld.

You're presuming that we can separate into our own bodies, Spock, McCoy thought slowly. Will that be possible?

I am developing a theory. Mr. Scott should be able to confirm it.

Otherwise, Jim, McCoy drawled, you, Spock, and I just fathered a son together.

How long do we have?

A week. Possibly less. I am sorry that I cannot be more precise, Captain, but I cannot recall a similar incident ever happening. And I cannot guarantee that the integration will be flawless, either. There is a small chance we may go insane.

That's a cheery thought.

I was listing the options, Doctor.

Damn, Kirk thought. Well, at least we'll be alive. We seem to be healthy. We're all fairly stable personalities. But I don't like it. Bones?

Do I have a choice? Go to it, Spock.

Your minds to my mind, your thoughts to my thoughts...

Kyle lowered his head in respect, then opened the panel to the transporter console. Mr. Scott had left for the bridge, in another attempt to contact the mining company... they weren't acknowledging their pages. With the situation on the planet, Mr. Scott really didn't expect them to answer. But his other alternative, at the moment, was to phaser the planet... which was no option at all.

Kyle brought the transport tricorder close to the mass of boards on the back, then blinked. The matrix was still active. It shouldn't be active. Generally, the matrix only held the signal about six minutes before degredation of signal started. But not only was this active, it was showing. . .

Kyle leapt over to the com unit. "Kyle to Mr. Scott!" he almost yelled, then modulated his voice in time.

"Scott here."

"Mr. Scott, I'm still showing life forms in the pattern buffers. Three of them. They're in continuous feedback."

"You are? But lad, the console was dead!"

"That's what I thought, too. It wasn't. They weren't. The rematerialization subroutine somehow disabled itself, and it's being fed power from the auxiliary system."

"Can... you bring them in?"

Kyle sighed. "The... signals show a twenty to forty percent degradation. If we bring anything in, it will be their... um... bodies. Do you want me to try?"

Scott was silent for a moment. "One person transported back to the planet."

"Yes." Kyle closed his eyes. "If you're thinking what I'm thinking... it most likely arrived dead."

"Aye... any further degradation of the signals?"

Kyle looked. "Very minimal. With this setup, there should be none... but this console is damaged. On rate of progression, it should be another week before any major problems... " He gulped. They already had a major problem.

"Aye." The communicator was silent. "Keep the signals in there. Don't shut it down. When I see the bodies then I'll believe they're dead... but not before. They'll be in no pain in the situation they're in. Scott out."

Kyle looked at the transporter console, then touched it, almost reverently. "I hope Mr. Scott knows what he's doing."

He opened his eyes and took stock. Dark grey walls, a yellow curtain partially covering a window which showed moonlight shining through. Fresh air. Damp air. We were unconscious, he thought. And they moved us to the mining company medical center. He felt a sinking feeling. He was hoping they were all hoping, even Spock, in spite of his reservations that he would awake on the Enterprise.

He sat up and looked around the room, then looked down at his hands. They didn't look familiar. He spotted a half open door... probably the bathroom. Getting up, he swayed dizzily for a minute, noting almost absently that he was naked, then got his bearings and walked into the bathroom. It remained dark. After a moment, he noticed the switch... primitive, he thought... and flipped it on.

It was a bathroom, and, moreover, it had a mirror. He was half afraid as to what he might see, but he screwed up his courage and looked at himself in the mirror.

Shock. It didn't look like any of them... and yet it looked like all of them. Fathered a son, indeed. McCoy's blue eyes. The hair was lighter than Spock and McCoy's and darker than Kirk's sandy brown. Vulcan ears. Almost Vulcan eyebrows, but with McCoy's flair and Kirk's shading. Spock's nose, Kirk's mouth. "Patchwork," he said out loud, then analyzed it. He didn't sound like any of them, either.

He looked down. Lean, almost lanky looking, but he appeared to be Kirk's height... perhaps taller.

What a mess, he thought, amused. And then, with a sense of wonder, he thought, What a miracle God hath wrought... We should have been killed.

"So. You're awake," said a feminine voice.

He whirled, then belatedly realized that he still had no clothes on. He was facing a Romulan woman... a smiling, almost gentle looking Romulan woman with dark blonde hair. She wore a white jumper with a red and gold sash as a belt. She also had a Romulan phaser attached to one hip.

"Relax," smiled the woman. "I've seen naked men before."

"Still," he countered. "I would prefer some clothes."

She threw him the robe she had in her arms and smiled indulgently while he wrapped it around him. A guard slipped in behind her, giving her a dirty look.

"I can take care of myself, Maruk," she told the guard, then turned back towards him. "My personal... bodyguard." She said, throwing a look at the other man. "Just as a point--if you're thinking of escaping, don't. I also have armed guards outside your door, and a platoon patrolling the outside of the medical center." She folded her arms, then looked him up and down. "You don't seem much of a danger, but finding a naked, muddy, unconscious man in the middle of nowhere tends to arouse my suspicions. Especially since we were looking for something else at the time."

He crossed the room to the window. She was right. He could barely see the guards in the moonlight, but they were there. "Something else... ?"

She chuckled. "Oh, nothing. Then we found you. Odd. And oddities rarely just happen. Not in my business." She crossed over to a chair and sat down. "Care to talk?"


"Oh, come on. I'm not asking your life history. We'll make it easy. What about your name?"

His name. Good question. Should he use an amalgamation of the three of them? No. She would know them, since they were the three who transported down. The junior officers, then... "Montgomery Hikaru Pavell," he said smoothly, stressing the "ell" to make it sound like a last name. He wasn't sure how familiar she would be with Terran names.

"That's a start. Hmmm. Sounds Terran."

"It should. I'm three quarters Terran." At the least, he thought.

She walked over to him and stroked his upswept ears. "And one quarter Vulcan. That would explain your odd medical reading. Your blood type must give your doctor apoplexy."

It does! part of him thought. He sat down on the bed lazily and looked up at her. It wouldn't surprise him if she were part-Terran, also. There were a very few blonde Vulcans, and he doubted that Romulans were any different. Not that he'd ever get her to admit it. "And your name?"

She threw her head back and laughed. "A fair question. My given name is H'anora."

He snorted. "And what do people call you?"

"A few names I wouldn't care to repeat."

"I would believe it." He cupped his hands behind his head.

"But the Terrans call me by the jolly name of 'Harpy Hannah'" She studied him closely.

"I see." He smiled indulgently.

"You seem unsurprised, Montgomery. Have you heard of me?" Her expression seemed to darken, then she laughed. "Fame is fickle."

"Indeed," he said. We need to gain her confidence, he thought. "I was hoping to find you. Perhaps not precisely here... but there are fortunate coincidences, aren't there?"

She smiled at him, looking puzzled. "You were? May I ask how you were transported to this god forsaken little planet? You weren't here when we arrived."

He sighed and snorted. "In the brig of the Enterprise."

"The brig? Hmm. I'm impressed." Maruk, silent all this time, snorted. "You have a comment, Maruk?"

"I simply don't believe him, H'an... Captain."

"And we have no reason to doubt him, Maruk. What would you suggest I do? Call Captain Kirk to see who he has in his brig?"

"Starfleet Security are not fools. Do you think they would let a naked man transport to the surface?"

"You presume I was naked on the ship. I was being transported from the sickbay to the brig. I saw my opportunity to escape. I took it." He looked down. "I can't explain the clothes. It must be the magnetic ore. I did hear them say how dangerous it was to use the transporters."

"Why were you in sickbay?" H'anora smiled indulgently.

He grinned back. "I had a tummy ache. Have you ever eaten Starship rations?"

H'anora grimaced. "You have a point. Still, I will check you out." She looked over to the window and looked out. "Still night, Montgomery."

"Call me Monty."

"Monty. Get some rest. We'll talk again in the morning."

"Suits me." He watched the woman and her guard walk out, then laid down on the bed and closed his eyes.

Thanks for letting me take over, Spock, Kirk thought.

It wasn't a case of letting you, Captain. You were the dominant personality in this sort of situation. In other situations, the Doctor or I may be the logical choice.

Logic. Hmmph. But I agree. I'm in awe, Jim. Do you do this all the time?

Amusement. Bones, I do have to Captain the ship every once in a while.

You know what I mean.

Are you planning to take notes, Doctor? Spock thought austerely.

No, but I wish I had his technique. Nonetheless...

We really don't have time for this, Bones.

I know. Just what I was going to say. Anyway, Jim, you were right. Hannah struck me just as you described.

Hmmm. Yes. Spock? Any analysis?

Spock's answer came slowly. It seems very unlikely that she will let us leave freely. I believe your plan to 'gain her confidence' gives us the best chance of gaining our liberty.

If we could contact the ship, they could transport us right out of here, McCoy said. Of course, if we could contact the ship, they wouldn't know who we were.

Maybe, Kirk thought. Maybe not. It depends on what happened on their end, Bones.

Captain, I doubt that they think we survived. This transport never should have succeeded.

It's your luck, Jim. I knew if I hung around you long enough...

We can't do anything now, anyway... Spock, can we sleep? How would that work?

I believe we shall have to meld to sleep.

Can we do that?

I'll establish a light link. We were linked when we first woke up.

Ok, everybody. Lights out!

We cannot link if the Doctor keeps talking.

Gallows humor, Spock. Gallows humor. I'll be good now.

He slept.

The sun shone through the window, and a warm breeze stirred the curtains. He yawned, stretched, and wondered where he was. Then he remembered. Everything. Oh. He laid back. He was of half a mind not to... separate... then laughed and wondered which half. He suddenly turned serious. No. No. That way lay madness.

Separate. Separate.

Uh, McCoy said. Did you care to revise your estimate, Spock? I was awfully tempted...

As was I, Bones. But we didn't.

We are all dynamic personalities, gentlemen. I do not believe we'll integrate that easily. We had just woken up, and we were groggy. My estimate still stands.


Well, anybody come up with a plan overnight?


I know. I should know. Jim, I hate to admit it in front of Spock, but I'm... scared. My daddy taught me to be an individual. It worries me how easily we do integrate together.

Ah, Bones, you know you're stronger than that. We'll get out of this.

Doctor. If you wish, I believe it would be possible for this body to function if just the Captain and I integrate.

And leave me back here in the dark? Uh uh. McCoy said. I may be needed. I'll quit complaining.


Who said that?

I did, Kirk said. Never mind. I don't like it any more than you do. Anyway, it's time to go exploring.

Well, ok. If we encounter Hannah, just remember that I'm taking notes.

Kirk sighed. Spock?

The three of them integrated.

He got up and stretched. Should he use the shower? He sniffed. Yes, probably. He noted the white jumpsuit lying on one chair and wondered when it was put in the room.

After he was finished and dressed, he looked out of the window. H'anora had collected a motley crew. Orions, Klingons, Romulans, Humans... all passed by the window. He doubted that he could get far that way without getting winged... or worse.

Sighing, he went to the door. The Klingon guard glared at him. "Hi," he said. "Get any sleep?"

The Klingon growled.

"No. Really? I could give you some sleeping pills, if you want."

The Klingon stepped towards him. He felt sure he could anger the Klingon and take him out... but what good would that do? He still had no idea where the communications center was. Best to wait until he got a guided tour.

"Kayrock. Get back," said a female voice.

He was startled. For a moment, he thought he was being called by name, then he realized that H'anora was addressing the Klingon.

She stepped to the doorway. "I see you've met Kayrock, Monty. He's a good guard. A bit aggressive, at times, but that has its uses."

"So, how did he end up here?"

H'anora shook her finger at him. "Ah, ah, ah. You don't ask origins from a fellow privateer."

He smiled. "A pirate, you mean."

"Oh, but 'privateer' has a better ring to it. After all, we have a 'letter of Marque' from our government!" She glared at him, as if daring him to disprove it, then smiled. "Your Terran history fascinates me. Especially your stories of the high seas. Blackbeard, Lafitte, Kidd, Drake, Long John Silver. . ."

"Long John Silver was fictional," Monty pointed out.

H'anora ignored him. "Did you know that Blackbeard used to tie lit matches to his beard before each raid to make himself look more frightful?"

"Sounds painful," Monty said.

"Anyway, like the privateers, we find something that isn't being used to its full potential and liberate it." She smiled broadly. He was minded to think of a hyena. "Anyway, I wanted to talk about you. What can you do that would help us in our cause?"

"What's the pay?"

She laughed. "A man after my own heart. You'll be adequately compensated."

"You won't mind if I ask around."

"Not at all."

"Well," he said. "May we discuss this over breakfast? I find myself rather hungry."

"My idea, exactly."

Dismissing Kayrock, who stomped off, she led him to a common room. It was filled with her "privateers", he supposed. He wondered whether the miners were all dead, or just being kept in a separate spot.

H'anora motioned. After a second, a surly Romulan slammed a tray in front of him, and a hot drink in front of H'anora. He looked up. "Why, Maruk," he said. "Get up on the wrong side of the bed? That seems to be an epidemic around here." Maruk stormed off.

"Don't mind him, Monty," H'anora said with a slow smile. "I think he's jealous."

He smiled. "I... think he has every right to be."

"Spar and counter."

"Indeed." He looked at his breakfast. Eggs and some sort of meat. He sniffed at it. Almost smelled like bacon, but a bit gamier. I'm sorry, Spock, he thought. We're just going to have to eat it.

He plowed in. It was good. He raised his eyebrow at H'anora, who was sipping at her drink. "I see you don't need a cook."

She inclined her head. "Petoir. We picked him up on a little planet that had big pretensions. His one bad habit is that he insists on fresh vegetables and fruit... and privateers tend to subsist on replicated food. So he gets a little surly every once in a while."

He smiled. "Don't we all."

H'anora snorted. "Yes." She set her cup down and leaned forward. "So... what do you have that we can use?"

He sat back and smiled. "Just about everything."

"Modest, too."

"I can doctor your sick, I can pilot your ship, I play a mean Vulcan lyrette, and I can make a damn fine mint julep."

"Well, the last is certainly an asset. Can you sew your own clothes, also?" She grinned at him.

"Yes." Really? Spock? Ah. He remembered Amanda teaching him. That was long ago. Kirk and McCoy could mend clothes, but that was the limit of their ability. Monty leaned forward. "But I'm a lousy cook."

"Which we don't need. A real renaissance man, huh?" She lolled back. "So, where did you come from?"

"I thought you didn't ask origins," he teased. "But I'll volunteer this one. Starfleet. I was serving on the Enterprise."

She raised her eyebrows. "Starfleet. Really."

He shrugged. "It got me off of that backwater planet I was stuck on." Jim, old boy, you're the smoothest liar around and someday you'll go to hell... Oh. No. Already been to hell.

"And you're escaping from service."

"You got it."

"Why didn't you stick with Starfleet? Why here? Why not a better planet?"

He smiled. "No opportunity for advancement. Lousy pay. No adventure." Ha! "Mostly, the pay. Besides... they were taking me back to Terra the next trip."

"The Romulan empire is much the same as Starfleet." She chewed her lip. "You're an insubordinate sort. Probably spent more time in the brig than out."

He smiled. "You got it."

"I'm not much on insubordinate sorts... but you're such a charmer." She got up suddenly. "We'll try you out on probation. The planetary communications unit seems to be disabled, and our ham handed engineer is having trouble with it. Can you help?"

He got up. "Lead on."

Uhura turned around, startled. "Hail coming in from the planet, Mr. Scott!" She turned back to her board. "Should I answer?"

"Aye." Scott turned to the screen, wondering why it had taken so long for the planet to answer. Stubborn, he supposed. They had a lot to answer for.

An image came up on the forward screen. A Vulcan... no, Romulan woman was smiling at him. Dark blonde hair. White outfit... so probably not from the Romulan Space Service. Nobody Mr. Scott had seen before, but that wasn't surprising... he had too much work with his engines to keep up on saboteurs.

She was flanked by a scowling Romulan man with black hair, and another man who looked like a mixture of... Romulan and human? Lighter hair, mostly human eyebrows, but Vulcanoid ears.

Scott wasn't sure. The other man raised an eyebrow at him, then winked. Scott looked at him, puzzled.

"I'm surprised," she said with no preamble. "I expected Captain Kirk or Mr. Spock. Who might you be?"

"The Captain and Mr. Spock are indisposed."

She raised her eyebrows. "Ah. Dead. This gets better all the time."

"Indisposed," Scott said firmly. "I'm Commander Scott. And I might ask your name?"

"You haven't figured that out already? Well, Maruk," she said to the black haired man, "I guess our fame isn't as great as I thought." She smiled. "I am H'anora, privateer, and sometime benefactor."

"Aye, and I'm the Jolly Roger."

She laughed. "You don't look like it."

Scott sighed. "It's been a long day, lass. What do you want?"

"I want your ship. I could use a nice new ship."

Scott raised his eyebrows. "And you expect us to hand it over to you? You have another think coming."

"Monty here, your erstwhile comrade, seems to think differently."

"Monty... ?" Scott looked at the other man.

Monty gave him a sharp look. "Surely you remember me, Mr. Scott. I was in your department. Montgomery Hikaru Pavell, at your service." He raised an eyebrow. "You might dress down security for letting me escape from your brig."

Scott's eyes narrowed. Could it be? "Ah, Monty. Yes, I remember you, you scalawag."

Monty bowed. "I was no tribble at all. Remember? You were forever getting them off the ship."

H'anora looked puzzled. "What?"

"Tribbles," growled a voice off to the side. "Nasty furry little vermin."

Monty smiled. "Klingons hate tribbles and tribbles hate Klingons."

H'anora frowned. "But this is getting off the track. Two things give me the authority to salvage your ship. Number one is the cruiser off of your port bow with phasers aimed right at you." She motioned.

"Cruiser. What... " A Romulan cruiser de cloaked. "Ah. That one. Well, we have a bit of firepower ourselves, lassie."

"You'll be firing on your own people. Contact the ship, Monty."

Monty inclined his head and worked out of range on the comm unit. Suddenly, the picture on the screen split. Another Romulan man looked up from a console. Scott peered at it. From what he could tell, the ship seemed to be an older model. "J'anar," H'anora said. "Show us your captives."

The picture changed. Uhura gasped and Checkov growled. Women, children, and some men. Dirty. Bloody and in shackles. None seemed seriously hurt, but it was the sight of an extremely small girl in a neck shackle which got to Scott.

"What do you plan to do with them?" Scott said lowly.

H'anora's picture appeared back on the screen. "I won't do a thing to them... as long as you hand over the Enterprise. It's very simple. You shoot, three hostages die. Starting with the smaller ones."

Scott saw Monty shoot a look at H'anora, then the man's face closed down in immobility. It was one of the missing three. It had to be. But which one? Which one?

"And what would you suggest we do with our own crewmen?"

"They could join us."

"Not likely, lass."

She smiled. "I doubted that. Well, we'll use the alternate plan, then. You will transfer your crew by all available means to the planet. We will send a team to the Enterprise to make sure transport goes smoothly. And, by the way, this area is a... relatively... safe spot. You can use your transporters."

"Wouldn't it be easier to just kill us?"

"Why, Mr. Scott!" She looked genuinely surprised. "Do you think I'm a barbarian? Death is sometimes desirable, but only if other means are exhausted."

Scott pursed his lips and bit back what he wanted to say.

She continued, her face darkening. "We will trace all transporter beams and will terminate any which appear to lead anywhere else... which will, of course, mean the deaths of those crewmembers. Monty assures me that he can get beyond any computer block you may set up... so don't try."

"Aye," Scott said, looking at Monty. "He's a sharp one." He must be Spock. But it didn't act like Spock. "Transport may go slower than you expect. Transporter room number one is completely out."

She frowned. "Ah. Yes. We'll check that, of course. I'll expect you to start in an hour. If nothing is happening within the hour, I will start with the... eliminations."

"And I will monitor all transports to make sure they arrived safely."

"Sorry about this, Scotty. Bottoms up," Monty said, wide eyed.

"Aye," Scott let himself sag. "Bottoms up." The communications were cut off.

The bridge broke out in a cacophony of voices. "Who... what..?"

"Quiet!" Scott bellowed. "One at a time. It's one of them... it must be," he continued slowly.

"I agree," Sulu said. "He used three of our names. But would the transporter... ?"

"'Bottoms up'," Scott mused. "That's a code between the Captain and myself. Mr. Spock may have known it, but I doubt Dr. McCoy did."

"What does it mean?"

"Maintenance and most of the scientific personnel off first. Leave the operatin' crew the engineers, some security, the bridge crew until last. Work slowly, wreck as much as possible without blowin' up the ship. I said something on our last shore leave, and the Captain said that would make a good code." He sighed. "It wasna a formal code, but I think that's what he meant."

Uhura looked down at Scotty. "But should we trust him? What if he isn't one of them? Are we sure it wasn't just a coincidence?" Scotty looked up at her. "After all, they may have used torture. Or drugs. Or a mind reaming device." She smiled ruefully at the look on his face. "I know. I heard it all, too. I'm trying to be the devil's advocate."

"He was bettin' that we knew somethin' had happened. He knew that we wouldn't denounce 'Monty' offhand." Mr. Scott chewed his lip. "I'm thinkin' that he's one of us, and he has a plan in mind." He strode over to the science console. He had to work quickly. "Computer. This is Lt. Commander Montgomery Scott."

"Working. Identity confirmed."

"List Captain James Kirk, Commander Spock, and Dr. Leonard McCoy as deceased." Scott heard Uhura gasp. But if the pirates checked, it was best to have that information on file.

"Working. Information downloaded. Date of death?"

"Stardate 4060.1."

"Updated. Command functions for Captain James Kirk, Commander Spock, and Dr. Leonard McCoy are terminated."

"New personnel file. Date... 3824.1. Lieutenant Montgomery Hikaru Pavell. Transfer details of... Lieutenant Kevin Riley's file to file of Montgomery Hikaru Pavell. Substitute all occurences of name... Riley to Pavell. Eliminate transfer date." Riley was still aboard ship, but he doubted if the Romulans would do comparison checking.

"Working. Finished."

"Computer. Isolate voice of last communication. Name of Montgomery Hikaru Pavell."

"Working. Isolated."

"Voice analysis. Compare voice analysis to all records of Enterprise crewmembers, living and deceased."

"Fifty points match on deceased crewmember Captain James Kirk, forty-two points on deceased crewmember Commander Spock, forty points on deceased crewmember Doctor Leonard McCoy, three points on. . ."

"Computer, stop." Scotty was not a voice analysis expert, but he didn't think that many points were supposed to match. He looked over to Uhura, who had an astounded look on her face. He decided. "Grant all command functions except for disconnect function on voice command of Montgomery Hikaru Pavell. Accept a password from all command staff to disconnect command functions to Montgomery Hikaru Pavell."

Scott heard gasps behind him. He knew he was taking a risk, but he was willing to bet his best bottle of Scotch that Monty was one of the missing officers. He hated to do this so early in the game, but would he get a chance to do it later?


"Hot haggis." He looked around to make sure everyone heard the password.



"Voice print. Authorization 1100101."

"Two other voice prints needed from bridge crew."

Scott motioned to Uhura and Sulu.

"Lieutenant Sulu. Access granted to Montgomery Hikaru Pavell."

"Identity confirmed."

"Lieutenant Uhura. Access granted to Montgomery Hikaru Pavell."

"Identity confirmed. Access to command functions granted to Montgomery Hikaru Pavell."

Checkov grunted. "I hope you know what you're doing."

Mr. Scott sat down in the command chair. "I do, too, laddy." He hit the communications button. "All transporter rooms except number one. Prepare for multiple transport. Coordinates will be transferred to your terminals. All non essential personnel report to your assigned transporters immediately. Security detail... three. Prepare to travel over on the first transport. Armed. Scott out." He sighed. "They won't be armed long, but H'anora will be expecting that."

He sat back in the command chair and watched as two figures transported onto the bridge.

'Monty' watched Scott's image blink out and smiled. "I'm surprised, Hannah. You were going after the Enterprise all the time, weren't you?"

She spun around. "How dare he insinuate I'm a murderer!"

Well, if the shoe fits... "I know you're not a murderer. You're an excellent strategist, though."

"You think so?" Her face softened.

"Of course I do. Don't you, Maruk?"

Maruk looked gently at her. "She is the best commander I've ever served under."

He does love her... "Now what?"

She shrugged. "This place is unimportant now. I merely held it in order to dispose of the captain and his senior staff." She caught his look and shrugged. "Demoralizes the crew and usually gets the best strategists out of the way."

He wondered how many times she had done this.

"We shall transport to the Enterprise... " She laughed, her good humor back. "... in her own shuttlecraft! Can you fly a shuttlecraft, Monty?"

"Why, of course." Monty smiled. "I told you I can do almost everything." Throw Brer Rabbit in the briar patch, why don't you?

"Maruk, gather up our comrades and transport after us. Monty, you're with me."

Maruk's face fell. "H'anora... "

She turned swiftly, grabbing his shirt. "You've been insubordinate lately. Don't make me... punish... you."

"No." Maruk's face turned to apprehension. "I... will obey." He glared at the other man.

H'anora stepped briskly out of the room, and 'Monty' followed. She smiled slightly. "He is jealous"

"Do you like him?"

She turned and stopped him with a hand, then caressed his face. "Not half as much as I like you."

Fascinating. "I'm honored, madam. But you barely know me."

"I know you well enough. I know you're a rascal and a rogue." She smiled coyly. "We're much alike. You like me, don't you?"

He inclined his head. "I do." He would, too, if she hadn't had that lethal turn in her soul. He suddenly felt tired.

She searched his eyes. "What's wrong, Monty?"

"That transporter must've taken a lot out of me. May I lie down for a while?" He leaned against a wall. The Spock part of him needed rest.

She smiled. "Of course. How silly of me." She led him back to his room. "I'll be back in a half hour."

"I'll be waiting." He managed to smile at her before she closed the door and he collapsed onto the bed.

We are three.

We certainly are, McCoy said slowly. Spock. Are you all right?



I'm here, Bones. Spock?

Gentlemen. I regret worrying you. It is a strain to keep us combined, yet separate.

I know, Spock. I could feel it.

I could, too. Is there any way Jim and I could help?

Spock sighed. No. You do not have the training.

Can you share it, Spock?

I believe the more that I 'share', Captain, the more intertwined our personalities will be. I should be fine after a short rest. But I do not believe my original estimate was accurate.

Amused incredulity. He's admitting he's wrong?

How long, Spock?

At our present rate of exhaustion... two days.

And we've already used half a day.

Accurate, Doctor.

Well, we'll just have to get a crackin' then.

Spock sighed again. I shall be able to rest better if you are silent, Doctor.

Chagrin. Sorry, Spock, Jim. I'll be good now.

Think about your Saurian brandy, Bones. We'll share a drink after this is over.

I will. Although I'd rather have another Julep.

Kirk found himself alone, in the dark. He could feel the bodily sensations, but it was almost... ghostlike. But, fortunately, it was enough to concentrate on. He had been in a sensory deprivation tank once--it was required by Starfleet Academy in order to see how the cadets would handle the sensation of being alone. He had passed with flying colors--but he didn't like it. At all. This wasn't nearly as bad. He seemed to be getting used to the body; which, he reflected, was not necessarily a good thing.

He wished he could keep talking, but he knew Spock needed the rest. It was odd that private thoughts remained private... and yet he needed only to think about speaking to talk to the other two.

He could 'see' Spock his eyes would be closed, his head leaned forward on his hands. He could also 'see' McCoy twiddling his thumbs. Worry emanated from McCoy. Kirk knew the sight of the hostages had shaken him badly. He itched to get over to the pirate ship and treat the hostages... but he couldn't, and it was driving him crazy. Well, God willing, they would soon be separated.

Kirk turned his attention to the main problem... how to grab victory out of defeat. He knew that H'anora would kill the hostages, if pressed too strongly. Her past record was spotted with random acts of violence, despite her protestations to the contrary. More than likely, she justified her actions as necessary to her goals.

He wondered how the transport was going. Not too smoothly, he hoped. Scotty acted like he got the message.

Their big advantage was... him. 'Monty' was an unknown factor to H'anora. And their big disadvantage was him. He was unknown to everybody else. Scotty had taken a big leap of faith.

Monty also worried him. It was very nice to have immediate access to McCoy's medical knowledge and Spock's scientific brilliance, not to mention Spock's physical prowess. Yes, it was very comfortable to be Monty. Almost too comfortable.

But the only way the three of them were going to separate was to gain the Enterprise... and that looked like their next stop.

The emergency bridge. If they could get to the emergency bridge, they could bypass any of H'anora's commands. Kirk mentally shook his head. Or could they? He couldn't get onto the emergency bridge without command status... nor could he transfer computer control. Would Scotty be trusting enough to grant command functions to Monty... or would he have had enough time?

Well, that's what made life interesting, wasn't it?

He spent the rest of the time mentally closing his eyes. He could feel Spock, and he tried to lend him strength. It may not work... and this may hasten their integration... but at least he was doing something.

Ordinarily, McCoy didn't mind the dark; but this was strange. He could feel Monty... heartbeat high, blood pressure high... yet it was almost ghost like.

He wanted desperately to open his eyes and have this be a nightmare. But he couldn't. So he sighed and tried to think of something else.

Those hostages. How dare she do something like that to a little girl? And the rest. They were in pain. He could tell. He hated sitting here like this. But he was a hostage too.

He had to laugh at Monty. Yes, basically, Kirk was dealing with Hannah, but sometimes Monty came out with this southern gallantry that he knew came from him. And the thought about Brer Rabbit in the briar patch? He could almost bet that that came from him, although Spock came out with the oddest quotes sometimes. Amanda's influence, McCoy supposed.

It was odd. He liked Monty. He liked being Monty. But it scared him witless. If Monty stayed, then the people known as Kirk, Spock, and McCoy ceased to exist. Lord knows, he didn't want that. Yet, if there was no other choice. . .

No. It wouldn't be so bad.

He could feel Spock. Spock was exhausted. He tried to lend him strength.

Spock sat in the dark, his head in his hands. He knew if he believed that, it would be so. He blocked out the sensations of the body, and tried to think of nothing.

It didn't work.

Logically, it should.

He knew what bothered him. Vulcans shouldn't feel emotions. Vulcans suppressed emotions and embraced logic. And therefore logically, he should mind being Monty.

Yet he found he enjoyed Monty. Monty, being two thirds Kirk and McCoy, was extremely emotional. Logically, he, Spock, should be uncomfortable with this.

He was as caught up in it as Kirk and McCoy were.

And it was a temptation to let the three of them combine. It was tiring. Very tiring. He had always had trouble getting out of a mind meld--keeping the three of them together, yet separate, was one hundred times worse.

Another day, he thought. Just another day.

He could feel Kirk and McCoy trying to lend him strength. He smiled slightly and accepted the help.

Monty steered the shuttle almost sideways through the barely open hanger doors, braked, and floated the shuttlecraft down as gently as a rose petal. H'anora laughed. "My dear Monty, I guess you can steer a shuttle, can't you?"

Monty struck a gallant pose. "Best in my class. Like it?"

"No wonder Starfleet didn't like you. Do you steer Starships that way?" She moved to the hatchway.

Monty followed her with his eyes. She was pretty. She had changed into a gold shirt with long flowing sleeves. The shirt matched her hair almost perfectly. It was a damn shame she was so vicious.

Monty laughed, belatedly. "They don't let me near the controls, darling." He opened the hatch and offered her his arm. She smiled and took it, and they exited the shuttlecraft together. The privateers guarding the shuttle bay doors applauded. Maruk stepped forward... he had apparently used a transporter. H'anora ignored him.

"Where to now, milady?" Monty bowed.

"Why, the bridge, of course. It's my ship, isn't it?" She looked around the shuttle bay. "Oh, what a tremendous amount of stores we could get in here!"


"Supplies. For my people." She smiled. "And it will be nice to actually be able to enforce my requests with real power." She walked off, startling Monty. He trotted to catch up. Two privateers followed them, and Maruk followed them... bodyguards, he supposed. He hoped he could shake them, later.

She walked swiftly down the hall and stopped at a lift. "That Romulan ship was a scow. Another year in the glorious Romulan Empire," she snorted, "and it would have been decomissioned. Still, the Empire didn't show proper appreciation when I took it off their hands."

Monty snorted. "Shameful."

"Wasn't it?" The lift doors open, and Monty waited until she entered. Glaring at him, Maruk and the other two men entered... both apparently human, Monty decided, he hadn't gotten a good look at them before. Well, they wouldn't be so bad to take care off... but that Maruk! He was a full Romulan, whereas 'Monty' was a mostly human hybrid. This is not going to be fun, he thought. Most definitely not.

Monty grabbed a lift control. "Bridge." He turned to H'anora. "It's been a long time since I've been this far in the ship. Engineering assistants tend to huddle in engineering."

"You must have been a severe trial to Scott."

"Oh, I was." True. Kirk was always making impossible demands of Scott. Thank God, Scott always came through. He hoped Scotty was handling this as well.

The doors opened. The bridge crew looked fine, but they were shadowed by six of H'anora's pirates. Monty found himself unaccountably nervous. It was a good crew on the bridge... but how good were they as actors?

Scotty turned the command chair and glared at him. "You... traitor," he growled. "I knew you were a bad seed, but I never thought you'd do this."

Bless you, Scotty. He could see the angry glares from all sections of the bridge. "Why, Mr. Scott. I don't think you like me," he said.

"I dinna liked you before. You musta sweet talked an Admiral to get on my ship."

"She was a nice Admiral, too." He smiled. "Fun. Nice bed."

Scott scowled. "I figured that was the way it was."

"No love lost here, Monty, my darling," H'anora smiled. "I'm half tempted to give you second in command."

Maruk choked. "You hardly know him!"

She whirled. "I know him well enough. I know I like him better than I like you." She let her hand drift near her phaser. "Don't try my patience."

Maruk paled. "No. No, Captain. I'm sorry, Captain."

Suddenly, Monty didn't like this. H'anora was giving in too easily. Was she really that gullible? What was going on here?

No. He should have realized before. H'anora was flattering him now because he was her only guide to starship operations. And he was so willing, too! He had to watch his step around her.

But how would she have captured a ship without a confederate? No, somebody on her crew must know something about Starships. Or maybe not. Maybe she felt she could bluff her way through... and when he literally fell in her lap, she couldn't resist.

He hoped it was the latter.

So she was flim flamming him. Hopefully, her ego was big enough so that she wouldn't realize that he was doing the same to her. He needed to act smart, but not too smart, and be entirely taken by her... charms. But Maruk... he could be trouble.

"Monty," H'anora said. "Darling. Can you check on the progress of the transportations?"

He moved to the science station and punched a few buttons, programming a few glitches in the system while he was loose at the panel. "Seventy three people transported off the ship." Scotty, you got the message. Twice that many should be gone. "Transporters at maximum efficiency... considering."

H'anora was frowning. "Transporters work faster than that."

Monty grinned. "I... took a few out when I left Security's company so abruptly. They probably didn't notice until they tried to use them." He shrugged. "I didn't want anybody following me."

She smiled. "You are sneaky."

"No, just cautious."

"Sneaky," she repeated. "I like that." She strode over to the captain's chair and glared down at Scott. "Get out of my chair."

Scotty shifted to look at her. "I don't think so, lassie. Not with some of my crew still aboard ship."

H'anora gestured to Maruk, who obediently pulled his phaser out and stepped forward. She glanced at him, then looked back at Scott. Then she pulled the phaser from Maruk's hand and gave it to Monty.

Monty raised his eyebrow and looked at the phaser. "Go ahead," she smiled slightly. "I haven't gotten this far without taking risks."

Huh! he thought. We must be better actors than we thought. "I'll try to... meet your expectations." He kept the phaser trained on Scott as he left the science station and moved in front of the Captain's chair. He narrowed his eyes. "Out, Scotty," he drawled, jerking his head to the right.

Scott stared him down. "No."

Monty lashed forward and jerked Scott out of the chair, throwing him halfway across the bridge. In the same fluid motion, Monty sat himself down into the chair. Scott picked himself up, slowly and painfully.

"Nice move," H'anora said.

He flipped the phaser back to Maruk. "Thanks. Didn't need it." He glanced at H'anora. "But I'd prefer not to use an empty phaser."

Startled, Maruk looked at the phaser. Glaring at H'anora, he placed the empty phaser back in its holster.

"Always check your ammunition, boy," Monty drawled.

"Careful, it's fully charged!" H'anora said, as she pulled another phaser from her sleeve and tossed it towards Maruk. He juggled it gingerly, glanced at Monty, then checked the power level.

"Good move," H'anora said sharply, then turned her back on him. Pulling another phaser out of her sleeve, she handed it to Monty, who checked the power level, nodded, then placed it on his belt, changing the setting to heavy stun by feel when she looked away.

My God, she's sure of her control over us, isn't she?, Monty thought, amazed. Still this was not the place for a gun battle. He smiled and almost felt sorry for the glaring Romulan.

"Well?" H'anora stood over Monty.

"Yes?" he drawled, slumping lower in the Captain's chair.

She nodded at the chair.

"But it fits me so well, don't you think?" He glanced at Scott.

"No," Scott growled, taking his cue. "Garbage detail is your area."

H'anora laughed.

"But I will," Monty continued, "give up a chair for a lady." He stood up, bowed, then stepped aside.

She sat down demurely and leaned back with a sigh. "Maruk," she spat. "Get these... Starfleet... out of here."

Not unexpected. But it left him alone on the bridge with H'anora's crew. While he could still impede the progress of the crew evacuation without the pirates being any the wiser, he couldn't do anything to free the ship.

And Spock was getting tired. It had been a long time since they had. . .

He stopped that thought abruptly. Of course.

Separate. Separate. Separate. Separate, dammit, Spock!

Kirk felt the body go limp, and a sharp pain went through his arm as he slumped against the railing. He fell to the floor, unable to stop himself, and felt the back of his head impact. He heard someone gasp, then someone was touching his arm.

"Monty!" It was H'anora. But she sounded like she was in Captain's chair.

"He's out," said Maruk, as he rolled "Monty" over.

"Damn," H'anora said. "Scott. I presume you have a decent sickbay aboard this ship?"

Damn straight it's decent! McCoy said.

Quiet, Bones. I'm listening.

Scott's voice was almost a growl. "We do... if you haven't herded all of our doctors to the surface."

H'anora sounded amused. "I imagine we have one or two that can help--Sickbay," she called.

A long moment passed. "I believe... you have to press that button there," said a strange voice.

"I was testing you. You need to be faster." Kirk heard a slap.

"Yes, Captain." The voice sounded chastened.

Kirk heard her punch the button. "Sickbay."

"M'Benga here."

"Ah. Mr. Scott, you still do have a doctor aboard."

"What do you need?" M'Benga sounded annoyed.

"We have a sick man on the bridge."

"Treat him yourself."

Just what I'd say, McCoy said.

"Doctor M'Benga," Scott said, sounding tired. "I know how you feel, but the situation is rather touchy. Besides," he paused. "I think this unconscious man here broke my arm."


M'Benga sighed. "Bring him down, then. And tell your doctor that I'd prefer she didn't rifle through my supplies until after I'm gone."

"J'Ana. Concede to M'Benga."

"Yes, Captain."

"Maruk. Kayrock. Take Scott and Monty down to Sickbay. You two. Get everybody else out." Kirk heard a murmur of protest. "Do I have to remind you of our agreement?"

Kirk felt someone lift him. Maruk, he thought. They moved into the turbolift, and Kirk could tell from the breathing that Kayrock and Scott were beside them.

Spock. How are you doing?

The answer came slowly. It was almost a sigh, but it got stronger. I will survive, Captain. And I do not believe that swearing will further our cause, Doctor.

It worked, didn't it? Got us to separate, didn't I?

Kirk laughed. Let's rest while we can. It's a short ride to sickbay.

Of course.

Kirk felt the answer came simultaneously from both McCoy and Spock. He started to say something, then let it slide. What could he do? Still, it was not a good sign, especially since neither seemed to notice it.

He reviewed his last few comments. Was he starting to talk with a Southern drawl? Possible. But if they didn't merge, then nothing could be done.

He heard the lift door open, and Maruk walked down the hall. Another door opened. "Set him down over there." He felt himself being laid down on a diagnostic bed. The diagnostic panel started up with a cacophony of beeps. Yes, the heartbeat was too fast, and all the other rates were... off.

Kirk mentally sat back, startled. He shouldn't know this! He hadn't before... at least not like this. McCoy. Are you there?

Where else would I be?

Kirk sighed. McCoy, Spock. We're starting to share knowledge. I shouldn't be able to understand the diagnostic panel this well.

I know, Captain.

I do, too, Jim. Are you as worried as I am? McCoy asked.

Damn straight I am!

That's my line, McCoy thought slowly. I never heard you say that before. Scary.

Kirk sighed. We'll worry about it later.

Said Scarlett O'Hara.


Never read "Gone with the Wind", Jim?

No. Well... no.


Yes, Doctor, I have read the book.

Amanda raised you well.

Get ready, Spock. We're going to have to take action. Kirk could feel Spock sigh.

Yes, Captain. Your minds to my mind, your thoughts...

M'Benga had been examining him with a medical scanner, then apparently set it down. "I can't tell what's wrong with him because I have no normal readings for him. What happened?"

"He collapsed," Maruk said. "He said he had a rough beam down. . ." Between partially closed eyes, Monty could see Maruk do a double take. "He's a crewmember, and you have no normal readings for him... ?" He reached for his phaser.

Monty whipped his phaser out, shot Maruk, then shot Kayrock, who was still doing a double take. "Big, but dumb," Monty said, sitting up. He turned to Scotty. "How is your arm?"

Scott stared at him. "It's fine. Now that we have a moment... who exactly are you?"

A Romulan came out of the other room. Monty shot her... J'ana, the Romulan doctor, he supposed. "Sorry." He jumped off of the diagnostics table and leaned against it, tired. "My name is Legion," he smiled.

Scott looked puzzled for a second, then his mouth dropped open. "You kenna mean... "

"I'm all three of us, Scotty: Kirk, Spock, and McCoy. Spock is literally doing a mind meld on the three of us. Otherwise we can't control the body."

M'Benga looked at Monty, then at Scott.

Scott leaned back against another table. "There was a transporter accident. . ."

M'Benga nodded. "I heard. I'm acting senior doctor, you know."

"I had forgotten. It's been a long day."

"We can't stand around here," Monty said. "We have to get to the emergency bridge." He leaned down and pulled Maruk's and Kayrock's phaser out of their hands, handing one to Scott and the other to M'Benga. "You do know how to... ?" he asked M'Benga. "Oh, yes, you do," he recanted. "You told me."

M'Benga shook himself.

"Did you see many pirates in the corridor?"

Scott shook his head. "I don't believe too many are aboard yet, sir. We scanned only two hundred on their ship before we got boarded... Oh. And you have almost complete command status over the computer."

Monty raised his eyebrows. "Remind me to give you a raise, Scotty. Of course, if we had been on the side of the pirates... "

"I'm a bettin' man, Captain, and I knew you weren't what you seemed. We knew that... somethin'... had transported to the surface." He smiled. "Besides, I can still cut your command status off. I put a back door in."

"Then we can make a run for it."

"Aye, Captain."

"Then let's do it. Ready?"

The other two men nodded their heads.

"Go!" Monty burst out into the corridor. No one. It was almost anti climatic. He started running towards the Emergency bridge access.

Someone in bright clothing appeared in front of him. He phasered the figure down automatically, hoping he wasn't shooting one of his crew in civvies. But they didn't have the time to identify everyone they encountered. Leaning down, he picked up the body in a fireman's carry and started running again. It wouldn't do to leave pirates lying around for everyone to see. Still, he wished he had enough time to backtrack to Sickbay.

As he remembered, the plans of deck 7 didn't show the emergency bridge access as being that far from Sickbay, but, then again, he usually wasn't in a hurry.

They reached the door. It remained shut. "Access... " Monty stopped. What name had Scotty used?

"Access," Scott said, panting. "Chief Engineer Montgomery Scott."

"Access granted," the computer said. The door whooshed open, and the three burst through and clattered down the stairs.

"I used the name you gave me, Captain. Sorry, I wasna thinking... I should've told you."

"I didn't think to ask, either, Scotty." Monty looked around while putting his load on the floor. Spock and Kirk had been in here recently. But McCoy hadn't been in here at all, and he was curious. It didn't look like much. Mostly a cramped version of the main bridge.

Scott was looking at the person on the floor. "Um... Captain... ?"

Monty looked and started laughing. "Kirk, you have all the luck!" Lying sprawled on the floor, a smudge of dirt on her nose, was H'anora.


"Scotty, start work on transferring control to the Emergency Bridge. M'Benga... do you have your medikit along with you?"


"I'd like her awake as soon as possible. I had the phaser on heavy stun. Five CCs of cortropine should do it."

"Yes, Leonard." He stopped, looked at Monty, and shook his head.

Monty realized that his voice had changed to sound like McCoy's. He raised his eyebrow, and went over to the science station. He needed to stop further beam downs, if possible.

The station appeared dead, but as he watched, the lights came on. He looked at the display. Transporter four was working, the rest were listed as malfunctioning. "I'm powering down the transporters, Scotty. Which ones were being used?"

Scott turned around. "Captain... don't touch number one!"

Monty looked at Scott. "Why?"

"There are three life forms in the pattern buffer. The three of you."

Monty raised his eyebrows, then closed his eyes. "Thank you, Scotty," he said, sighing. "You just gave us hope." He opened his eyes. "Powering down the rest."

"Aye, Captain." Scott turned back to his panel. "All control transferred."

"Shut down all power on the main bridge except for life support." He thought a moment. "Shut off the lights, also."

"She's coming around," M'Benga said.

As soon as he knew H'anora was watching, Monty took his phaser off his belt, where he had stored it when they piled in, and switched it to "kill". "Traitor," she spat.

"Hardly, darlin'. An opportunist, maybe. But you never did know who you were dealing with."

"I thought I was dealing with somebody who shared my goals."

Monty smiled. "I do share some of your goals. I just quibble with your methods." He jerked his phaser. "I would rather not use this. And you would be no use to your people dead. Tell your ship to transport the hostages to the planet."

She remained silent.

"We have reinforcements coming," Monty lied smoothly. "And your ship won't be leaving without you, will it?" He jerked his phaser toward the com unit.

"The hostages are already on the surface."

"You won't mind if I don't trust you, will you?" He opened the line.

She grimaced. "J'anar, this is H'anora. Are all the hostages on the surface?"

"Yes, H'anora. Per your orders."

With a swift motion, she pushed on a button on her sleeve. "Transport on my signal now!"

Dr. M'Benga, who was the closest, made an abortive dive for H'anora. Monty hesitated, and it was too late. The beam had already activated and she was gone. "Scotty. Are weapons systems up?!"


"Disable the ship."

Scott fired, as Monty belatedly turned on the miniature viewscreen. "Hit, Captain! Engineering disabled."

Monty watched the ship list for a long moment, then punched the com button. "H'anora. Give it up. You're outclassed. I give my word that your..."

The Romulan ship blew up.

"My God!" M'Benga said.

The intercom beeped. "Monty, my darling."

Monty raised an eyebrow. "H'anora. So you made it to the surface."

"No thanks to you, dear. Was that really necessary? You killed a number of my crew."

Monty sighed. "I was not shooting to kill."

"The effects were the same, dear. It was an old ship. The standoff continues. If you'll remember, I'm on the surface with my hostages and a number of your crew... and we are surrounding them."

Monty chewed his lip. "Ever play Poker?"

"Hmmm. Wonderful game. Charming Terran tradition."

"Yes. Let me tell you our situation. Your bridge crew is shut off from the rest of the ship, our transporters are obviously malfunctioning--God only knows why you haven't killed anyone yet. We have shut the transporters down, Mr. Scott and I control the ship, and we can easily stun you with our ship's phasers--although we would rather not--some of your younger hostages may be in delicate health. And I cannot believe that you would be willing to kill innocent bystanders in order to save your other innocents. Now, who's bluffing? Both of us, or neither?"

The intercom was silent. "Monty, the Enterprise crew are not innocent bystanders."

Monty pushed the mute button and looked over at Scott. Scott nodded. "Bottoms up, Captain."

Monty pressed the mute button again. "Are you sure? Ask the crew what their jobs are on ship. Wouldn't you say that the ship's barber and the ship's arboretum manager are innocent bystanders?"

H'anora laughed. "Monty, we asked them their jobs. Do you think we're stupid?"

Monty snorted. "Don't you think they're under orders to lie under this situation? I repeat... who's bluffing?"

The intercom was silent again. "I'll give you three hours to hand over your ship. H'anora out." The intercom clicked off.

Monty looked over at Scotty and sighed. "Stubborn, isn't she?"

"Aye. I've seen her type..." Scotty stopped and looked up. Monty whirled, then relaxed. A security officer was pointing a gun at him. "Stockwell... isn't it?""Just hold it right there and drop that phaser," said the dark haired man. "I'm under orders to arrest the pirates."

Scott got up and stared at the young man while Monty put his phaser on the floor. Stockwell flinched. "Under whose orders?"

"Lieutenant Sulu's."

Scott sighed. "I vouch for this man, Stockwell. And I do believe I outrank the Lieutenant, don't I?"

M'Benga stood up and stared at the Security man. "And I am ranking medical officer on this ship, and I vouch for this man."

Sulu popped around the corner. "Sorry, Mr. Scott, Dr. M'Benga... sir." He looked at Monty, obviously uncertain as to how to address him. He turned to the Security guard. "You can go."

The young man looked at Sulu, then Monty. "Yes, sir," he said doubtfully, then left.

Monty stared at Sulu. "Do you mean the ship's secure, Mr. Sulu?"

"Mostly, sir. The pirates may be a nasty lot, but they're not too smart. We were down to one transporter... as you know... and when that stopped functioning, it confused them. Gave us an opportunity."

"Any casualties?"

"Fifteen injured, four seriously. They're in sickbay. Doctors Thompson and Kelley were still aboard, along with a number of nurses. And we're just flushing out the bridge now." He grinned. "I understand the lights were out up there. Thank you... sir."

"You're welcome."

Sulu bit his lip. "Forgive me... who are you?"

Monty sighed. Of course, Sulu didn't know. He explained.

Sulu's mouth came open once, then shut.

"You'll be wantin' me to assemble the bridge crew, won't you, Captain?" Scott asked.

"No, I can..." Monty closed his mouth. "As far as the majority of the crew is concerned, you're in command, Scotty. But rather than being on the bridge, I want you to work with Dr. M'Benga and Mr. Kyle to straighten out my... problem. Mr. Sulu, you gather the bridge crew and explain the situation."

Monty's knees buckled, and M'Benga caught him. They were overdue for another rest. "And, sir," M'Benga said. "You'll be in sickbay."

Monty shook his head. "I cannot..." He tried to straighten up. We're going to sickbay, or I'll put you on report! He smiled. "It seems Doctor McCoy agrees with you. Even linked, he gets the last word."


Kirk sat in the dark, waiting. He was tired, so tired. They all were. But they couldn't give up now. Scotty's last word was that he didn't think it would be much of a problem to split them. He had said that Mr. Kyle had already done some work on the problem, just in case. He suspected Mr. Scott was an optimist, even though he was a miracle worker.

He wished he could be up on the bridge, but he did the next best thing... he had them pipe the communications from the bridge down to sickbay.

Sickbay. Even though he was worried about the hostages, just being safe in sickbay comforted him. He could smell the familiar smells.

He wished he could help Mr. Scott, but it was more important that he be here.

It wouldn't be long now.

McCoy sat in the dark, waiting. He was tired, so tired. They all were. But they couldn't give up now.

Sickbay. Even though he was worried about the hostages, just being safe in sickbay comforted him. He could smell the familiar smells.

Scotty's last word was that he didn't think it would be much of a problem to split them. He had said that Mr. Kyle had already done some work on the problem, just in case. He suspected Mr. Scott was an optimist, even though he was a miracle worker.

He wished he could be up on the bridge, but he did the next best thing... he had them pipe the communications from the bridge down to sickbay.

He wished he could help Mr. Scott, but it was more important that he be here.

It wouldn't be long now.

Spock sat in the dark, waiting. He was tired, so tired. They all were. But they couldn't give up now.

He wished he could help Mr. Scott, but it was more important that he be here.

Sickbay. Even though he was worried about the hostages, just being safe in sickbay comforted him. He could smell the familiar smells.

Scott's last word was that he didn't think it would be much of a problem to split them. He had said that Mr. Kyle had already done some work on the problem, just in case. He suspected Mr. Scott was an optimist, even though he was a miracle worker.

He wished he could be up on the bridge, but he did the next best thing... he had them pipe the communications from the bridge down to sickbay.

It wouldn't be long now.

Spock mentally shook his head. Something was wrong... their thoughts were starting to merge, unbidden. Dr. McCoy, Captain Kirk!

Yes? came the answer, almost simultaneously.

We are merging involuntarily. Concentrate on thinking of your respective pasts. It may help if you think of building a wall with your memories.

God knows I don't want to merge with you! McCoy said. Spock could almost feel the Doctor shake himself mentally, and let the comment pass.

Can it, Bones, Kirk said. This is serious.

No, Captain. It may help.

I wonder, McCoy said.

Spock felt a burst of anger. Dammit, McCoy, I am not... He stopped.

The three of them were silent for a moment. I'm sorry, Spock, McCoy said. I seem to be infecting you. He laughed. McCoy, the virus.

No apology necessary, Doctor, Spock said slowly. It cannot be helped.

How long has it been?

I would estimate one hour, four minutes.

Can't you get any more precise? McCoy asked dryly.

My time sense is being interfered with.

Sorry. But I was being facetious.

Quiet! They listened.

"Sulu to sickbay."

"Thompson here," said a male voice.

"Thompson... that's right, M'Benga is with Mr. Scott. We've had a call from the surface. We need... 'Monty'. Any possibility he can come up?"

"I'm not sure. I should get Dr. M'Benga's approval..."

Merge us, Spock, Kirk said. Now.

With a sigh, Spock relaxed control and complied. He didn't need the mantra anymore. They merged automatically.

Monty sat up, and the Doctor backed off. "I'm here, Mr. Sulu. You've had a call from H'anora?"

"Yes... sir. She's insisting to talk to you."

"I'll be right up... Kirk," he hesitated, realizing what he was saying. "...out." He looked at the bemused doctor, raised an eyebrow, and exited sickbay.

After a short stopover at Kirk's cabin to change his clothes, he arrived on the bridge. He kept telling himself he had to be on the bridge. Had to. Even though he was worried.

They were talking alike, they were thinking alike. Separately, it was worrying him. Collectively, staying together didn't sound so bad except that he wanted to be in three places at once.

One person's life should not have three divergent focuses. But he would deal with that when... if he had to. Now was not the time to think of this.

"Uhura. Page H'anora."

"Yes, Captain."

The Romulan woman appeared on the screen. She was standing in the communications room of the mining complex. "Well. It certainly took long enough, Monty... or is that your name?"

Monty sat down in the Captain's chair, leaned back and shrugged. "Well, you know. I had to put on a new shirt, shower and shave that sort of thing... and 'Monty' is as good a name as any."

H'anora looked at his ill fitting yellow shirt. "Captain's bars, yet. Do all Federation ships carry a spare Captain for backup?"

"Some of us carry three or four. Freeze dried. Just add water." Monty's leaned forward. His fingers tapped on the console. "Are you surrendering?" I hope?

Her face went hard. "I'd like to see you face to face. Alone."

Monty raised one eyebrow. "Really. Why?"

"To discuss terms."

"What terms? You surrender, you tell us where this planet is, and we'll help them."

"It's not so easy." She smiled ruefully. "And I trust you about as much as you trust me."

Monty grinned. She had a point. "Just a second." He waved back at Uhura, and she paused communications. He punched the communications button on the console of his chair. "Scotty."

"Aye, Captain."

"How long?"

He hesitated. "Maybe a half hour, Captain. We're runnin' simulations, but Dr. M'Benga is not happy."


The doctor spoke. "The simulation seems to indicate that you will experience searing pain during transport." He hesitated.

"You're afraid the shock will kill us?" Monty said, already knowing the answer.

"Possibly..." He stopped. "It's your decision."

He sighed. "I cannot live this way... I would rather that Kirk go to the surface, but it seems it's going to have to be 'Monty'. I'll be using the shuttle. However, I want you ready to use the transporter on us at a moment's notice. Do you hear, Mr. Scott?"

"Aye, Captain. Good luck."

"Thanks." He waved his hand again, and H'anora came back up on the screen. "Sorry about that. Call of nature."

"Right," she said. "Have you decided, or should I start on your crew?"

Monty went over to the science station. "Can you meet me at three kilometers directly south?"

She looked over at the side. "Right between two magetic ore veins," she said. "I'm told the transporter will go there."

"Fifteen minutes. I'm going to have to use the shuttle."

"Afraid of the transporter? Afraid you'll arrive naked again?"

All eyes on the bridge swiveled towards Monty. He smiled. "Something like that."

Monty flipped up his communicator and got a slight burst of static. "I'm out of the shuttle and waiting, H'anora."


He looked around. This place had a rugged beauty. It reminded him of home... one of his homes, he corrected himself. Vulcan.

A form materialized in front of him. "Hello," he said.

H'anora brushed her hair back. She looked as tired as he felt. "I have only one question before we negotiate. Truth. I do like you, and I thought you were attracted to me. Was I wrong?"

Monty frowned. "No... yes and no. Other circumstances, other times, perhaps... May I ask you a question? What about Maruk? He loves you."

She smiled. "I know. But he... bores me. He knows it, but he persists. Is he alright?" Monty nodded. "Now," she said, setting her mouth. "What are your terms?"

Monty turned on his tricorder. "Forgive me. I have to record this... You will have to surrender. We cannot guarantee that you and your crew will not face trial, but we will testify on your behalf for a more lenient sentence in consideration of your charitable deeds. In addition, we will fight your extradition to Romulus."

"Ah. You've heard what Romulans do to criminals and traitors." Her face went blank. "I ask for asylum for myself and my crew. I also ask that you help my planet."

"Being representatives of the United Federation of Planets, we accept your plea for asylum. However, your crew will have to ask individually." He smiled ruefully. "As for your planet, we can only promise that we'll lobby for Federation aid." He shrugged and paused his tricorder. "Ever deal with bureaucrats?"

"Yes. And, as much as I would like to fight," she smiled, and a gleam came to her eye, "and as you adroitly pointed out, I can do nothing if I'm dead." She pointed to his tricorder, and he turned it on again. "I accept your terms for surrender, and I will order my crew to surrender. I can't guarantee their conduct, though." She sighed. "It's been a glorious time."

"What is the name of the planet?"

"This is why it won't be easy. The name is Ochlihp. It's on a near fringe of the Neutral Zone. A number of disenchanted Romulans--and some others--are living there." She caught the look on his face. "You gave me your word!"

Monty sighed, thinking of the difficulty of helping a planet in the Neutral Zone. "So we did. And we will help as much as we're able." He shut the tricorder off and closed his eyes. "We're going to need additional information, but you'll have to understand that you won't be giving it to 'Monty.'" They reached a consensus, and he approached the Romulan. "Promise you won't knife... 'me' in the back?"

"I promise." She smiled. "Do you trust me?"

Monty pushed her arms behind her back, then kissed her, long and hard. He stepped back. She smiled. "Thank you. But won't I be seeing you again?"

He shook his head. "Not as Monty. I'll show you why." He flipped up the communicator. "Enterprise."

"Scott here. We be ready when you are... we're feeding the patterns into transporter number two now."

"Not quite yet, Scotty. H'anora will be beaming up. I need a security detail to meet her and escort her to transporter two."

"But that's where we..."

"I know, Scotty. She needs to know. That's part of the agreement. Have somebody explain it to her. One of us will be coming back down with her to inform the rest of her crew... but what we need to do now is best done aboard ship... correct?"

"Aye, Captain. Just a moment." The communicator was silent for a minute, then Scott came back on. "We're ready for her."

"Energize." He smiled at her. "Goodbye."

She disappeared, a puzzled smile on her face.

"Let me know when she arrives." Monty closed the communicator and looked around. It might be the last sight they would see. If so, no regrets. They all had a good life, and Kirk, at least, had never wanted to die in bed.

But they were going to fight their damndest not to die here!

After a long moment... long enough for the McCoy part of him to get seriously nervous... the communicator beeped. "She's here. Are you ready?"

Monty smiled. "We're ready."

"Good luck."

"Thank you. We'll need it."

He felt the familiar transporter tingle...

Pain. Searing pain. God, it hurt! It hurt! Much as he wanted to dampen it, he knew he couldn't. He shouldn't!

It was so tempting to keep the meld. If they held onto the meld, the hurt seemed to lessen. But the part of him that was Spock knew that this could not be. Should not be.

Spock broke the meld.

The pain intensified.

Scott and Kyle worked carefully. The pattern coming in had to be divided up carefully so that it would integrate with the three patterns already stored. Off to the side, Dr. M'Benga checked over the DNA sequences.

H'anora tapped her foot. "I don't believe a word Kyle told me. Why shoud I be here?"

"Be patient, lass," Scott said without missing a beat. "You'll get your proof." He looked down at his readings, then looked over at Dr. M'Benga. "Now?"

The doctor closed his eyes and nodded. "Now."

Scott prayed and pulled down on the levers of the control console. "It's now or never, gentlemen."

Three figures started materializing on the transporter pads.

Scott looked over at M'Benga. "It looks all right so far."

They solidified. Three figures fell onto their knees simultaneously. Then the three men looked up. M'Benga took a quick scan of the three of them.

Scott couldn't stand it any longer. "Are you all right, gentlemen?"

Kirk looked at Scotty, then looked around to McCoy and Spock. He took a deep breath, then smiled. "We're fine, Scotty."

M'Benga nodded. "They seem to be. The stretchers are coming."

"Hold it just one doggoned moment, Jim," McCoy said. "I want the three of us checked over before you make sweeping generalizations." He attempted to get to his feet and failed. "See?"

Spock tried to get up. He, too, failed. "For once," he said. "I must agree with the Doctor."

"And what have you been doing the past couple of days, huh? Whose idea was it to..." He looked over at H'anora and stopped. "I'm sorry. I almost forgot."

Kirk looked at H'anora. "Do you understand now?"

"I... think so. Mr. Kyle gave me a short explanation," she said. "I've heard legends of the Vulcan mind meld, but that technique has been lost to Romulans." Her face looked regretful. "So... 'he' was a transporter malfunction."

"Yes. I'm sorry. But what we said still holds."

"Thank you." She took his face and kissed him on the lips.

"Mr. Scott will go back down with you, if he agrees." Scott nodded, and took her arm. "Shall we go?"

She nodded, looked around at the three of them, then left with Scott without a backwards glance.

"Jim. I felt that."


"The kiss. I felt that on my lips."


"We have been melded for almost two days. There will be aftereffects. They will fade." Spock smiled.

"Well, you don't have to be so damned happy about it!" McCoy sputtered as the medical transport stretchers arrived.

"What is the Doctor talking about?" Spock looked puzzled.

Kirk laughed as he was being put on the stretcher. "You don't want to know, Mr. Spock," Kirk said, thinking of Spock's smile. "Trust me. You don't want to know."