A/N: I am really enjoying writing this story, and hope you are enjoying reading it. Having a bit of trouble getting Scotty to sound right, though I've heard the brogue all my life. Any help on that part that anyone might have to offer is greatly appreciated. I intend to keep trying. Thanks to everyone for reading, and a special thank you to those who have reviewed. Reviews really make my day, so please keep them coming. I own nothing except originals and make no profit. Thank you. Happy Thanksgiving to my American readers, and I hope you enjoy.

Chapter 9

Lieutenant Commander Giotto, the Enterprise Security Chief, had spent hours on the Outpost, and had gotten nowhere with the investigation. He suspected that someone knew something, but no one was talking. He was angry enough to send the lot of them to the Enterprise's brig until he got some answers. In an effort to refrain from venting his frustration with a phaser against Federation citizens, he walked outside to find Spock inspecting a statue like object in what passed for their town square. Spock straightened as Giotto reached his side, and said, "Report, Mister Giotto."

"There's nothing to report, sir. They refuse to help us."

"Are they refusing to answer questions or hindering the investigation in any way?"

"No, they answer the questions we ask, I just get the feeling that we are not asking the right questions, or else they are simply making up the answers as they go along. I can't prove that they are physically obstructing the investigation, but there has to be some clue to what happened here somewhere. We just have to find it."

"Do you feel that they are stopping you from finding it?"

"I truly don't know, sir. That's my feeling, but I couldn't explain why I feel that way. They just act like this is all one big game to them, and that frustrates me."

"Gather the entire complement of Outpost personnel together right here. I wish to address them."

"Yes, sir."

Giotto left to do as he had been commanded, and when he returned, he was shocked at the change in Spock. Giotto had been on the Enterprise long enough to know that there were many facets to Spock's personality, and that he was a very complex man. One of the gentlest men in the galaxy, and a pacifist, Spock was borne of a violent race and capable of killing with his bare hands; he was a being ruled by logic, yet capable of emotions he felt compelled to deny. He knew that other Vulcans considered Spock less than they, because he was half human, yet to Giotto and those others in the crew who really knew Spock, that made him more, not less.

He had seen Spock stern before, but this was different. All traces of civility and culture were gone, replaced by cold menace. His eyes burned and he seemed even taller and more imposing than usual. Giotto found him almost evil. Spock's transformation apparently had the intended effect on the crew of the Outpost. They shuffled their feet nervously, eyes downcast, and no one dared speak amongst themselves.

"Gentlemen," he rumbled, and the crew shrank into themselves. "For those of you who might not know, our mission here is to discover who left Lieutenant Johnson on this Outpost, and which ship it was who transported the Lieutenant here, after abducting him from the surface of Beta Careni, along with the rest of the landing party with him, some four members of the crew in total." He paused for a moment, making eye contact with each of the men and women lined up before him. "One of you saw something. I would advise that person to come forward immediately. Captain Scott has ordered you all removed to the Enterprise holding cells until our mission is finished, if you obstruct our investigation in any way. I have no compunction with detaining all of you. What the Captain failed to mention is that I will personally be in charge of interrogations, and let me assure you, Vulcans have ways of getting the information they seek. Those ways are highly unpleasant and often painful for human beings, not to mention sometimes fatal." Again he paused, and there was complete silence. Giotto looked at Spock in shocked surprise, having never heard him speak this way to anyone before. Spock finished his speech with one final appeal. "If you are the person who has the information we seek, you will do yourselves and your colleagues a great service by coming forward now." No one dared move so much as a finger for fear of being mistaken for the one with information, and subjected to those highly unpleasant and perhaps fatal means of Vulcan truth gathering. They stood deathly still and silent for a long moment, until finally Spock took out his communicator, and called the Enterprise.

"Enterprise, Scott here."

"Captain. I regret to inform you that the crew of the Outpost refuses to aid our investigation. As we discussed earlier, I am having them beamed to the holding cells pending my interrogation." Scott's voice betrayed but a touch of his bewildered amusement when he said, "Aye. Understood, Mister Spock. When will the landing party be returning?"

"Immediately after the Outpost crew is transported to the brig."

"I will meet ye in the transporter room. Stand by for beam up of Outpost personnel." A moment later, six of them were gone in a shower of yellow sparks. The other four disappeared a few seconds later. Mister Scott's voice sounded over the communicator again. "Outpost personnel beamed directly to brig and placed under guard, awaiting your interrogation. Prepare to beam up."

"Acknowledged."

The familiar whistling sound started and the yellow sparks rose up, covering them all as the Outpost faded around them, and seconds later, the Enterprise transporter room came into focus. Spock dismissed the landing party to their quarters out of respect for the lateness of the hour, and scheduled a debrief for the next day. Giotto was amazed that he was back to the Spock they all knew, as though none of what had transpired on the Outpost had even happened. When they were alone, Scott asked, "Do you plan to interrogate the prisoners now, or can you spare a few minutes?"

"Actually, I plan to allow them to agonize over my interrogation until tomorrow. I believe the correct human term is 'let them sweat'. How is the Captain?"

"Still not conscious. Doctair McCoy is warried aboot him, I ken." Spock could tell by the depth of the Scotsman's brogue that he, too, was worried about Captain Kirk. Spock resolved to stop by sickbay on the way to his quarters. "I believe you wanted something of me, Mister Scott."

"Just tae advise ye tae be careful. Sae fair, Starfleet Command is going aloong with me on what I am doing an tha Outpost, but me authority tae do et ees nae beyoond question."

"Noted and logged, Mister Scott. I am going to sickbay, and then retiring to my quarters. Perhaps, you too will now find time to rest."

"Thank ye Mistair Spock, perhaps I will."

(0o0)

McCoy was in his office, looking at the test results from the experiments on Mister Scott's whiskey bottle, which Christine Chapel had left on his desk. He had his feet propped up on his desk, reclining back in his chair, with his own glass of bourbon within easy reach. Reading silently for a few minutes, he soon sat up in alarm, and activated a switch on his comm panel.

"McCoy to Mister Scott."

"Scott here," came the instant reply.

"Mister Scott, could you come down to sickbay?"

Hearing the carefully controlled alarm in the doctor's voice, Scott wondered what had happened, and agreed to go. A few moments later, he was striding through the door to McCoy's inner sanctum, and taking a seat across from him, in front of his desk, at the doctor's request. McCoy rose and moved around his desk, med scanner in hand. He assessed the Acting Captain's condition, and said,

"How are you feeling, Captain?"

"Doon't call mae tha with the Cap'n in tha next room. Et isna right."

"All right, Commander. Answer my question."

"I am faine, Doctair."

"Where did you get the whiskey you drank the night it made you sick?"

" I doon't remember. I have had et fair a verra long time."

"Was that the first time you drank from that particular bottle."

"Noo. Et was aboot half full."

"And when you drank from it before, you suffered no ill effects?"

"Noo, Doctair. Nary a one. Wha es this aboot?"

"We just finished testing the whiskey you gave us, Scott. It was poisoned. With a low grade alkaline poison. There wasn't enough in the bottle to kill you, or do any serious damage, but it was intended to make you sick, and since it happened so recently, I have to think we should consider the possibility that your poisoning and the Captain's abduction are connected."

"You think someone is gunning for the ship?"

"Well, either that, or gunning for certain officers on the ship. We'll check into the possibilities tomorrow. In the meantime, take two of these pills twice a day for ten days, to be sure the poison is completely out of your system. You should start feeling better fairly quickly, as the pills flush the poison out. If you aren't feeling like the old Scotty by 0900 hours day after tomorrow, I want you back here."

"Thank ye, Doctair."

Mister Scott had turned to leave and was almost to the door, when a shrill, blood curdling scream sounded from an outer area of sickbay. McCoy's office was designed to be soundproof, so it was hard to pinpoint where the noise came from until the two men reached the examination area, and then it was clear that the sound came from Captain Kirk's private room. A moment later, the noise stopped abruptly, as though someone had drawn a silencing blanket over it to smother the sound. Scott and McCoy dashed inside, to find Spock cradling the Captain's head. Kirk was shaking from head to toe, and making small sounds of distress, but had apparently instinctively stopped screaming when Spock touched him.

"Mister Spock, what happened here?" McCoy asked, quietly, med scanner out and taking readings of the Captain's condition. As he had finally stopped shaking, Spock lowered the Captain back onto the bio bed, and spoke in little more than a whisper.

"I believe he is still unconscious, Doctor. You would probably call what just happened a nightmare, and that's as accurate a description as any, though I think it was somewhat more than that. Perhaps we could speak in your office."

"Just a moment, Spock." The Captain had, upon being lowered back to the bed, instinctively reached for Spock's hand, and now was holding it with an iron grip, as though that hand was his very lifeline. McCoy gave the Captain a mild sedative, and as his body relaxed, the grip loosened, and Kirk's hand dropped back down to hang slightly off the side of the bed. Spock gathered it up and placed it gently by his Captain's side, and then rose and accompanied the doctor and Scott to McCoy's office. When they were seated around McCoy's desk, Spock spoke.

"When I touched the Captain, I saw the same blocks of color that we saw when I was privy to the Captain's mind through the link he opened to me. They were spinning, but he was fighting to stop the spinning, and at the same time, deathly afraid of what would happen when the spinning stopped. As the spinning slowed, under the other sounds, I heard a woman's voice."

"The Romulan woman we saw with him?"

"Unknown. I would suspect so."

"Did you meld with him?"

"No, Doctor. In his condition, he cannot give consent."

"He stopped screaming when you touched him. I just assumed that was because you touched his mind, comforted him."

"I suspect he stopped screaming because he knew me. Not consciously, of course, but somewhere in his subconscious mind, the identity pattern I was projecting was familiar to him. His mind read it as safety."

"I see. What do you recommend we do for him?"

"I would like to touch the surface of his mind, and try to reassure him. He may be calmer when he wakes if I do so. I had begun the process before you came in, but there wasn't time to finish."

"I am sorry for the interruption, Spock, but we were understandably worried."

"Necessary, Doctor. You must understand what is happening inside his mind to treat him. Please remain here for precisely ten point four standard minutes. If I am successful, he will be sleeping peacefully when you check on him. You must allow him to sleep until he wakes up naturally. Tomorrow is soon enough to devise a treatment plan."

McCoy hesitated for a moment, then nodded. Spock disappeared. McCoy sipped his bourbon and looked at Scott. "I would offer you bourbon, but it is better that you don't drink while this poison is still in your system. Apparently, alcohol is the catalyst for this type of poison."

Scott nodded. He would heed the warning in lieu of again feeling like the poison had made him feel. When they checked on the Captain ten minutes later, as Spock requested, he was sound asleep, snoring gently, and Spock was nowhere to be found. The two parted company, feeling better than they had during the entire mission so far.