.o0o.

Kritrok, as it turned out, was true to his word. He waited just long enough for them to get their engines online and they were able to remove themselves from the area with all due haste. Thirty minutes crawled by at warp 4 in awkward silence before they dared to stop.

Sulu had been more bottled nervousness than upset at finding McCoy transporting back from the Klingon vessel, but McCoy knew it would be some time and effort before he would be able to smooth that out. He'd given a curt explanation and Sulu had swallowed it, understanding immediately the desperation that came with his actions. He hadn't even argued when McCoy said that they would be sending the Klingons onto the other ship. There was no way that Sulu was going to leave this out of his report, though. Perhaps his demotion would occur as swiftly as his promotion. The fact that McCoy outranked him served no purpose when Kirk had put Sulu in charge, baring a medical emergency.

There was a moment of silence following Sulu's order to stop. The resounding question seemed to be: what now?

"Uhura, open a channel to Star Fleet and explain our current situation."

"Yes, sir."

Chekov waited about two seconds before asking over Uhura's lovely voice, "What are we going to do about the captain and Mr. Spock? Organia's going to be overrun with Klingons."

Sulu looked up at McCoy, who wasn't sure what that look meant. Did Sulu somehow blame him for this situation? Or was the look an ask for assistance? "We may have to wait some time." Then, he recognized the expression. The confident, optimist Sulu was looking for hope.

McCoy cleared his throat. He was surprised to realize that he did have hope. "At least we know they're still alive." Technically, the doctor could only be sure that Spock was alive, but he couldn't imagine any possible situation where Spock would permit the captain to die before him.

"Admiral Archer is on transmission."

"Transfer him to the debriefing room. Doctor, would you care to join me?" Sulu said it as a request, so McCoy shrugged and followed him out. "Lt. Riley, you're in command."

Sometimes, McCoy hated regulations. Like on those long nights in the Academy that he'd spent an inordinate amount of time trying to first decipher and then memorize scrawls of text which never seemed to make sense and rarely seemed useful. He'd never found studying as painful as on those endless nights. In medical school, he just seemed to acquire the terms by osmosis.

They met Baker and Stark in the debriefing room with a wide-screen version of Archer. Archer must have called them in immediately, and their swift response meant that they were likely waiting for this call. He knew that the pair hadn't done anything yet to make him distrust them, but he couldn't shake the feeling that they were somehow up to something. Of course, McCoy couldn't be sure if the feeling stemmed from them seeing him when he wasn't in control of himself or from some unseen aura.

"Effective immediately, Captain Baker will be taking control of the Enterprise and Commander Stark will be acting First Officer." Archer announced without preamble. His tone was efficacious, but immediately softened. "I understand that you are very concerned with the well-being of Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock." Archer cut them off before they could raise any complaints or say anything at all. "As am I. However, there is much more at stake here than simply the safety of two people."

McCoy wanted to protest that these weren't just any two people, but he grit down and swallowed his blustering comments. Losing his temper wasn't going to do any good here. He tried to maintain his calmest tones. "All due respect, but those two people are my friends and they're in danger now. As far as I'm concerned, that overrides the possibility of other threats."

Archer was already shaking his head. "Unfortunately, it's no longer a possibility, but an absolute. The only question remaining is one of timing. The Klingons have already declared war, and with the recent slew of internal damages to our flagships, we have major repairs to be made before we're in any condition to be fighting them."

"How long do you think it will take to get reinforcements out here?" Stark was stepping forward. "Protecting the boarder has got to be our top priority."

"It is. Your orders are to dock at Star Base Six, have the Enterprise repaired and transfer excess crewmembers. From there, the Enterprise will be on patrol in that quadrant until the Farragut and the Potemkin can meet you at Organia to remove the Klingons and recover your captain."

McCoy had a sinking feeling at Archer's words. Star Base Six was already two days out, so that would be a minimum of four days before they might even consider returning to Organia. "About how long will this all take?" He demanded.

"The reinforcements should arrive within six weeks."

This time, McCoy couldn't contain himself. "Six weeks? There are Klingons all over that planet. Jim and Spock don't have six weeks."

"I'm sorry, but there aren't any other ships available to help."

Sulu's hand came up to McCoy's shoulder and it was mostly unwanted, but McCoy wasn't feeling childish enough to pull away. "The first few hours of an invasion are the most critical. If they've made it this long, they're out of hot water."

McCoy frowned. Knowing his friends, they'd probably just jumped out of hot water and into a frying pan. Jim Kirk didn't know how to keep himself out of trouble. At that exact moment, Spock would undoubtedly be reciting some ungodly low statistic to express the likelihood of their survival. If he listened very carefully, he would probably hear the exact percentage resounding over the link. McCoy didn't care to find out. As much as he hated being dragged onto every away mission, McCoy hated being left behind even more.

"Captain Baker, I leave this ship in your capable hands." Archer signed off before anything more could be said, likely missing Baker's salute entirely.

Baker stalked from the room and assumed the captain's chair with authority and no trace of hesitance. McCoy scowled at her back. "Ensign, input coordinates to Star Base Six. Lieutenant, please inform the Base that we are on our way."

Both Chekov and Uhura looked up at the new voice, found Sulu's eyes, and waited for his discrete nod before complying.

"Aye, sir."

"Yes, sir."

McCoy wanted to assume his normal position beside the captain's chair and discuss the situation quietly as he often advised Kirk, but Stark had already taken his spot and was standing stiffly in his place. Instead, he came up around the other side. "We're really going to leave two good men behind on that planet?"

Baker turned to him and gave him a scowl that would give him a run for his money. She didn't keep her voice down either. "Dr. McCoy, if you know some way in which we can infiltrate the area, safely recover Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock and escape from the premises without being blown to pieces, I'd be happy to oblige orders or no, but if memory serves, we were barely able to escape alive this last time. I will not allow this ship to become cannon fodder for some noble but entirely impractical idea."

McCoy was already brainstorming ideas that he could use to make it back to Organia. Baker was right, he knew, but that didn't change the fact that Kirk and Spock were still stranded on that planet.

Stark leaned down and whispered something into the acting captain's ear in a volume much too quiet for McCoy to eavesdrop. Baker frowned and looked up at him, and McCoy knew he was the target of her next comment. She kept her voice low, like she was trying to avoid drawing extra attention, but the bridge was too quiet and too small for it to be particularly effective. "Given your involvement in the Romulan sabotage efforts, I cannot in good conscience allow you to maintain your position on this ship. Effective immediately, you are relieved of your duties as Chief Medical Officer and are only available for emergencies. Captain Kirk should have done the same and I can only assume that your friendship blinded him to the dangers of his actions. You are confined to your quarters until a Vulcan healer can confirm that there is no possibility of a reemergence of the Romulan influence."

McCoy heard the words with little surprise. He was more inclined to agree with Baker's take on the situation than he'd been to go along with Kirk's insistence that he was perfectly safe. His desire to defend himself was more to preserve Kirk's reputation than his own. He suddenly felt weak and defeated. "You're in my quarters." Was all he managed. It was one of the many changes in lodging when they rescued the crew of the Pioneer. That was the first moment he really minded the change. After all, he spent more time sleeping in a cot in Sickbay than in his own bed.

Baker didn't bat an eye. Nor did she offer to move, and it honestly irked him a little. She scanned through a list on a PADD. "You're listed as living in room 3F 125." Spock's quarters.

McCoy dropped the issue and unceremoniously stalked out of the room. He wondered if there was a Vulcan Healer on Star Base Six and if they'd be able to give any more clarity than Spock had. Probably not. He wondered if Baker was going to prove herself more positive or negative in their situation. While she hadn't given up McCoy's quarters, she'd also not taken over the captain's quarters, which could be seen only as a sign of respect. And although she'd been abrasive, her logic had been sound. McCoy frowned. He was starting to sound like Spock.

Spock's door opened automatically, like it'd been programmed for him. It probably had been. Spock likely changed it promptly after the room assignments had been adjusted and McCoy had been too oblivious to notice. He was suddenly very curious if Spock had wanted him there or if it had been divided among ranks and Spock had nothing but indifference.

McCoy cleaned up in Spock's bathroom and sat down on Spock's bed and looked around Spock's room. He laid down and kicked off his boots and tried very hard not to miss Spock.

He must have drifted off to sleep, because he was awoken some hours later by the ship jarring suddenly. He found himself knocked onto the floor and prying one of his boots out from under him. McCoy waited a moment to see if it happened again and listened for any attacks. Nothing.

"What the hell is going on?" He demanded roughly into his comm unit. Spock's comm unit.

There was a pause before Uhura responded, taking time for a suspended officer was not generally high on anyone's priority list, but Uhura made it seem easy. "We're orbiting Organia."

"How is that even possible? We were heading the opposite direction."

"Not sure, sir." Uhura sounded like she was trying to do ten different things and McCoy felt some guilt at taking up her time, but he couldn't resist one more question.

"And the Klingons?"

"Present, but not firing." Uhura cut him off.

McCoy slammed his fist on the table and stormed over to the door. It wouldn't budge. Baker must have locked his code out while he was asleep. He sat back on the bed and waited.

.o0o.