It is not logical, but it is often true.
As Spock contemplated the man lying motionless on the biobed in front of him, he repeated the words he had spoken to Stonn exactly seventy-nine days, five hours, seven minutes and fourteen seconds ago. At that terrible moment, he did not yet know that Dr. McCoy, the most illogical and emotional human being he had ever encountered, had saved him from himself, and had saved their captain's life. Now he was facing something else that was not logical, but most emphatically true: Emotion—strong emotion!—elicited by none other than Dr. McCoy, as he lay silent and unmoving in his own sickbay.
12.74 hours earlier
Spock had advised Captain Kirk to rethink his decision with regards to the landing party. The captain had decided to transport down with his first officer, and had selected Dr. McCoy, Lieutenant Martin and Ensign Patil from Science, and Ensign Lee from Security to accompany them. While Lieutenant Martin was a competent, level-headed scientist, Ensign Patil, in Spock's opinion, was far too squeamish to aid the landing party effectively. Spock occasionally questioned the wisdom of keeping her on the Enterprise at all, but despite her infantile fear of certain living creatures—in particular members of the phylum Arthropoda—she produced excellent results when she confined her research to the inorganic branches of science. However, while he had resigned himself to overseeing her in one of his science labs, he would have preferred that she remain there, and that the captain send a second security officer to the unfamiliar planet in her place, as Ensign Lee had less than two years' experience.
Unfortunately, Spock could do no more than advise, and the captain had remained firm, arguing that since their scanners had shown no signs of any kind of threat on this idyllic, temperate planet, this was a perfect opportunity to give both ensigns first-hand learning experience. The captain had preempted Spock's attempt to remind him of a similarly idyllic planet near Omicron Delta with an order to see that the landing party was equipped with tricorders and phasers.
Spock would never say "I told you so," to the captain in front of his crewmembers—not even after their phasers and communicators were taken from them, and they were surrounded by hundreds of squat humanoid figures holding weapons powered by some viscous indigo substance—apparently an organic energy source.
As it turned out, another person had told the captain so, and that person had no scruples about showing respect to his commanding officer:
"Jim, so help me, if we get out of here alive, I will give you the most thoroughly invasive medical examination you've ever gotten! I TOLD you after that pleasure planet that we couldn't trust our scanners. I TOLD you that you should have taken Giotto and some more security. I TOLD you that you needed to stay on the ship, and let me and Spock handle it. But no. The great Kirk doesn't worry about stuff like that: 'It's safe. There won't be anything down there but grass and trees and sunshine and…'"
"Bones, just shut up, will you?" Dr. McCoy looked as if he wanted to respond in kind, but he must have decided that the captain was under enough stress as it was.
Spock made a mental note to recommend special citations for Lieutenant Uhura and Lieutenant-Commander Scott. They had been working together to improve the universal translator on his tricorder, and Spock was able to use it to communicate with the small natives of the planet, who called themselves "Tortoroni." He glared at Ensign Patil when she giggled at the name (and then shrieked loudly when one of the hundreds of little men walked up to her, and touched the back of her hand).
The Tortoroni stared at her with one of his three stubby fingers on the back of her hand for eleven seconds before he walked away and began a muttered conversation with his companions.
The Enterprise crew had been waiting for precisely eighteen minutes when one of the Tortoroni, who introduced himself as "Rosono," began to speak, with the aid of the translator.
"Men of the sky, We wish you no harm. But your intentions towards us are unknown. We do not sense hatred, but we sense a lack of respect. We believe that respect alone can lead to true harmony. Therefore, we cannot allow you to return to your ship until you have passed the test."
"And what test is that, Rosono?" Captain Kirk asked.
"It is the Solomora, O Kirk being. It is a test of honesty, and a proof of humility."
"We must know, O Kirk being, that you are beings who do not despise us. That you do not think us foolish and weak, so that you may return with your other sky men and destroy us. To that end, we demand that one of you submit to the test of the Solomora."
"But what is it?" the captain asked, clearly losing patience.
"The Solom shall stand before the Tortoroni, and there declare all that the Tortoroni wish to know."
"All that they wish to know? Why the ceremony, then? We don't need a ceremony to answer your questions."
Spock groaned inwardly, and began to invent explanations and excuses for breaking the Prime Directive. Again.
"The ceremony is necessary. Only then will we know for certain that the Solom can no longer despise us."
Dr. McCoy jumped in. "But I want to know the answer to Jim's question. What are you going to make him tell you? And what if he won't answer your questions? What the heck would you do then?"
"He must answer if he is to return. He who does not answer may not return."
"So we all have to do this?"
"No. Only one. But if the one does not answer, he may not return, for then we will know that he holds the Tortoroni in contempt. Another may become a Solom for the rest, but the Solom who does not answer may never be returned."
Spock could see in the captain's face that he was determined to do what he could to save his crew, despite the risk to himself. He admired Captain Kirk for his courage, but it was his duty as a first officer, and his privilege as a friend, to prevent him from undergoing such an ordeal. Captain Kirk might be asked to divulge confidential Federation information, and if he refused, he would be forced to remain on this planet forever. If Spock could not answer to the satisfaction of the Tortoroni, he would accept his fate. As a Vulcan he would embrace the scientific opportunities that such a unique culture presented. Moreover, the Enterprise needed her captain far more than her first officer. For Captain Kirk to undergo the ordeal would be illogical; therefore, Spock decided, his duty as First Officer was to…
"Well, when are we gettin' started?"
Spock turned so quickly that he felt a twinge in his neck. Dr. McCoy had walked up to Rosono, and was holding out his hand towards the small creature. Rosono put a stubby finger on his hand and then said, "This one will take the test."
"No! Bones will do no such thing! I am in command and it is my duty to…"
"Jim! First of all, I'm already doing it, so there's no point in you making a fuss. But there are hundreds of reasons why you shouldn't take this test. Your ship needs you, Captain. I don't have much to lose. Out of all six of us, I'm the one least likely to be missed if I never get back from this voyage." Spock noticed a shadow in McCoy's eyes as he said that…and also that Rosono, who had not taken his finger off of the back of McCoy's hand, was beginning to look…interested?
Suddenly Spock understood, and whispered, "Captain, these creatures are touch telepaths. That is how they will determine the truthfulness of the speaker. I ought to undergo the ordeal, since I might be able to prevent them knowing my mind if a lie becomes necessary."
Jim nodded, and turned to the doctor, but he was already walking behind Rosono to a tall platform in the middle of the throng of Tortoroni, and the little creature handed him a small object composed of the organic indigo substance. When Bones held it his voice grew loud, as if he were using an ancient Terran microphone.
Rosono began the ritual.
"What is your name, O sky man?"
"Leonard H. McCoy, Chief Medical Officer on the U.S.S. Enterprise."
"Leonard H. McCoy, Chief Medical Officer on the U.S.S. Enterprise, do you agree to stand as Solom for your party?"
"Yes, I do."
"Do you agree to speak truth to the Tortoroni, O Solom."
"Yes, of course. Didn't you say I'd be stuck with you guys forever if I didn't? Now can we just get on with it?"
Spock noticed that whenever McCoy spoke, Rosono touched a finger to the back of his hand.
Rosono's next question surprised Spock, along with everyone else in the landing party, if Spock was interpreting their facial expressions correctly
"Why do you have no family?"
Dr. McCoy did not look shocked—the telepathy perhaps?—but he did swallow two times, before replying in a defiant voice, "Because, Rosono, I made foolish decisions. I let my work take priority over my wife and my daughter. I allowed them to grow away from me."
"Tell me, O Solom, of five times in which you might have made a decision that would have drawn your wife and daughter closer to you, so that you would not be without them now."
Spock hoped that his Vulcan mask was concealing the horror on his face. If his face resembled Jim's even slightly, it would be a discredit to his Vulcan upbringing.
And then they listened—listened as Dr. McCoy was interrogated for three hours. Always in the same vein—always personal questions, and always questions which elicited discussions of grave mistakes he must have made, and wanted badly to forget. Spock wished he were capable of causing deafness in himself, so he did not have to hear such private information. He looked around and saw that Ensign Patil had tears running down her face, and Lieutenant Martin looked very red. Ensign Lee seemed to be attempting to imitate the Vulcan's passive face and posture. And the captain looked terrible.
Finally, Rosono looked up from where he had been sitting, perched near Dr. McCoy with one pudgy finger always touching the back of his hand.
"You have passed the test of truthfulness, O Solom. Now you must past the test of humility."
The captain looked up and protested: "Test of humility? How was that not a test of humility?"
"That was a test of truth, O Kirk being. Now is the time for humility. Now the Solom must allow all to see him in his nakedness."
McCoy turned very red at this, and Ensign Patil involuntarily closed her eyes, but Rosono merely handed him a small cup.
"Drink this, O Solom."
"What the heck is it?"
"It is the test of humility."
McCoy glared at it for a moment. "Well, I might as well get it over with now."
He drank the fluorescent green liquid and stood very still for 4.6 minutes. Then a change came over him. He sat down suddenly on the platform, and hunched over, weeping and shaking. Spock could not bear to look. It seemed so indecent to his Vulcan sensibilities to see a man behaving as he was—in plain view of hundreds of Tortoroni, not to mention his five colleagues from the Enterprise.
Captain Kirk gasped, "Bones!" and Spock had to take his captain's arm, both to restrain and to calm him.
After about a half an hour of the doctor's shivering and weeping, Rosono finally said, "You may all go. The test is complete."
After the Tortoroni returned their communicators, Kirk commanded Martin to prepare for transport, and Spock helped him to support the still sobbing and trembling McCoy off the platform.
"What did you do to him, Rosono?" Spock could tell that the captain was absolutely furious. He hoped that the task of supporting McCoy would be enough to keep him from physically assaulting Rosono.
"It is a test of humility. He must show all emotion. He can hide nothing. He was a truthful man, but he needed to be truthful in his emotions. Now you know that the Tortoroni are powerful. We can make you behave like small children. You have seen it, and he has experienced it. You will not attack us, for we are powerful. It does not last long. Perhaps another hour."
"You sick b…"
"Captain, let us go now, before Rosono changes his mind."
Once the landing party was back aboard the ship, the Captain had the corridors cleared so that he and Spock could take their still trembling CMO back to sickbay. Once he was there and safely in a bed, the doctor's trembling ceased—but his tears did not.
"Jim! Spock! I thought there that I might do something wrong and never be able to come back. You are the only family I have—you two. I don't know what I'd do if I lost you after losing my family the way I did. It was…It was my fault. And I couldn't let that happen again. Never again."
"Shh! Bones. You're okay. We're your friends and we're here. We just wish…Why did you do it, Bones? You didn't have to!"
"I knew if they took you they could start asking for all sorts of classified information…or other stuff. Jim, you wouldn't be able to talk about Tarsus yet—not to all those people. I made sure that Rosono was touching my hand when I talked about Joanna and Jocelyn. I hoped they would ask about it. It couldn't hurt anyone but me."
The captain looked closely at him, and Spock wondered what was going through his mind when he suddenly said.
"You like those old John Wayne movies, right?"
"You know I do, Jim."
"Well, John Wayne once said, 'Courage is being scared to death-and saddling up anyway.'" You know that's true, right?"
And suddenly, still under the fading influence of the drug, McCoy smiled.
Several hours later, as Spock looked at the sleeping McCoy (The drugs had worn off in about an hour, but he was exhausted.), he thought of what it might have been like if he had been in McCoy's place. Perhaps he might have passed the honesty ordeal. But he did not know what the humility ordeal might have done to him as a Vulcan. His brief lack of inhibition while the Enterprise was in orbit around Psi 2000 had been enough to require several days of Vulcan healing after the incident was over. Such a high level of emotional release would have been very painful, if not permanently damaging to him. He felt gratitude. But he thought he might be feeling something more as well.
Spock had admitted that he felt friendship for his captain—and he was no longer ashamed of it. But he was able to justify that friendship from a Vulcan perspective—he owed his captain loyalty and devotion for his rank alone, and friendship was one way to express that. He did not owe these things to the chief medical officer.
And yet, when McCoy took that humiliation to spare his captain and first officer, Spock could sense that McCoy would be willing to do much, much more for them. Yes. McCoy's own loyalty should inspire his own. McCoy was a man—a man not logical but always true—so perhaps to feel friendship for him was not so illogical after all.