Chapter 1

"Captain's Log, Supplemental. We are in orbit around Treyta IV in order to study the unique geological upheavals which have been occurring over the past hundred years. Scientists believe that the planet is entering a major volcanic cycle, and this is what the Enterprise has been sent to investigate. There is no sentient life on the planet, therefore, our geologists will have free reign to study the seismic activity without the constraints inherent in the Prime Directive. We will be beaming down a small team, including Head Geologist Stevens, Science Officers Roan and Takamura, and Security Officer Troy. They will briefly examine the forces at work on the planet and take readings to be sent back to Starfleet headquarters."

Kirk stopped recording as he sensed someone standing just behind him to the right.

"Yes, Mr. Spock?" He asked before turning to face his first officer.

"Captain, may I request that I accompany the landing party to the surface of Treyta IV?"

Kirk frowned. "I don't see why not."

Spock gave a curt nod. "Thank you Captain." He turned to go back to his station.

Kirk wasn't about to let him off the hook that easily, though. "But I am curious, Spock." Spock stopped and turned back to the Captain, raising an inquisitive eyebrow, inviting Kirk to speak his mind. Kirk continued with a fain grin. "You've never shown much interest in geology before."

Spock inclined his head. "That is an accurate assessment. However, the geological conditions on Treyta IV are extremely similar to those of Vulcan approximately four million years ago. I am interested in gaining insight into Vulcan's early development and observing the seismic phenomena first hand."

"I see." Kirk turned back to the viewscreen and made an addition to his log. "Commander Spock will accompany the science team to the surface as well." He clicked off the recorder and turned back to Spock. A thought had occurred to him, and it had ruined his teasing mood. "With all the seismic activity going on down there, do you think it'll be safe?"

"The geologic activity has been a gradual process, Captain," Spock explained. "Nevertheless," he quirked an eyebrow, "You were fully prepared to send the landing party to the planet before I asked to go as well."

Pinned by Spock's close scrutiny, Kirk cleared his throat and turned back to the viewscreen, which displayed a vibrant red and orange planet slowly rotating on its axis.

"Well, I just wanted to make sure…" Kirk trailed off at Spock's slightly amused expression. Spock had called his bluff. "Well, get going, Mr. Spock! Or I might rethink letting you go." But he was grinning playfully as he said it, and they both knew it was just part of the game.

"Of course, Captain," Spock replied before going to the turbolift.

Kirk looked back at the viewscreen and caught both Sulu and Chekov staring at him. He couldn't resist picking on them just a little bit. "Don't you two have a job to do?"

They both jumped and faced forward, clearly embarrassed at getting caught. But as they checked the status of the ship's orbit and corrected for deviations, Kirk's good-humored mood slowly vanished. He drummed his fingers on the armrest of the Captain's chair, just wanting this mission over with.

He just wanted Spock back on the ship, where he would be safe. Well, as safe as anyone on the Enterprise could be. At least somewhere Kirk could keep an eye on him.

He had a feeling niggling at him…a feeling of dread.

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Down on the planet, five shimmering shapes appeared on a windswept plateau and materialized form indeterminate figures to humanoid forms. The science team looked around themselves at the desert terrain: orange sand and reddish rocks and vegetation that was tough enough to withstand the elements. All in all, it did look a bit like Vulcan. Not quite as hot.

They set up a small, temporary day camp first, just basic seismology equipment and a few barriers to keep the sand and wind away from the more sensitive devices. Spock and the other scientists then proceeded to bury their noses in their tricorders, walking around the perimeter of the camp and making careful observations. The five hours of study that they were allotted passed quickly and without incident.

They were finishing up and about to pack up the equipment when there was a small tremor. It was so minor that it was over before anyone even realized what was happening. But the science officers got quite excited (Spock in his own, quiet way), and insisted on staying a few more minutes to see if there would be more.

Turns out, there were. But the next tremor was not a "tremor." It was a full-blown earthquake, powerful enough to knock them all off their feet and topple the standing sensors. It lasted several minutes, and a network of spider web-like cracks opened all over the plateau. Eventually, the quake subsided and the landing party picked themselves up and began fixing the stands for the sensors.

Spock's communicator beeped.

"Spock here," he said once he flipped it open.

"Spock, what is going on down there?!" The Captain's voice was loud enough for everyone to hear.

"There appears to have been an earthquake, Captain," Spock replied calmly.

"Yes, I was aware of that, Mr. Spock. But we tried to beam you up during the quake and nothing happened, and we just tried to beam someone down with no result. Scotty's stumped. What's going on that could cause the transporter to malfunction?"

Of course, Spock had begun scanning the area with his tricorder before the captain had even finished speaking. His abruptly raised eyebrow told the rest of the team that something was wrong.

"There appears to be some sort of gas in the vicinity, Captain," he finally said.

"Gas? What kind of gas?"

"Unknown. But it seems to have been released during the earthquake. No doubt there was a pocket deep underground and the tremors allowed it to escape."

"And do you think that's what's interfering with the transporter?"

But there was no response.

"Spock. Spock, come in. Spock?!"

The communicator lay abandoned on the ground.

Everyone had suddenly collapsed, unconscious.

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Author's Note:

The title of this is from "Romeo and Juliet," if anyone cares. Romeo calls love "A madness most discreet." I guess that line just stuck with me. And it reminded me of that episode in TOS ("Is There No Truth in Beauty," I think) when Dr. Jones says that (and I'm not sure if these are the exact words, I'm too lazy to look it up) Vulcans are right in that "violent emotion is a kind of insanity." I think it kind of sums up Kirk and Spock's relationship: their love may be illogical, but it's there. You can't ignore it, you can't pretend it doesn't exist. It's love.

/end overly emotional author's note.

I'll try to get the next chapter up as soon as I can so watch out for it, please!