McCoy's examination had been thorough and it had not surprised Kirk to see Spock standing in the room. "Those two things he removed from your nose were in peripheral contact with your brain, the one on the roof of your mouth was in direct contact with your brain, and the one from your rectum was sited to stimulate the main nerve nodules in the lower body. They could ensure the pain was spread from your head down as well as radiating throughout the lower abdominal area. Their insertion would have been simple, with the exception of the one in your mouth, but their removal must have been agony as the bonding tissue was clearly becoming a part of your body."

Kirk had nodded and looked at McCoy as there was more, he saw it in how McCoy had looked at Spock before looking back at him, "They were inserted in a manner that was to have lasted the rest of your life, the bonding tissue was a type used for permanent use and rapid fusion. It had clearly started to form the permanent bond. If he had not removed them as he did, when he did, you would have had them the rest of your life." for a moment Kirk looked at Spock and saw a confirming nod as McCoy continued,"That type of bonding tissue would have made their detection and removal close to impossible in another twelve to twenty-four hours. He obviously had some difficulty yet also, somehow, had the skill to do it without damage. I wonder if he realized that their removal saved your career."

It had obviously been something McCoy had not told Spock for he was clearly surprised as both eyebrows raised, "Explain, Doctor."

McCoy realized he had both of them looking at him and looked at the floor for a moment before looking at Spock, "With them in there, sited as they were, anytime Jim went by or through anything with the right frequency he would be incapacitated by excruciating pain. If exposed to the right frequency for long enough it would kill him."


"That's just it. It is difficult to tell. For all we know a sonic toothbrush could have triggered them. There would have been no way of protecting Jim from them other than putting him in isolation."


McCoy had sighed, "Oh, they could have been removed but not without causing major damage to the brain and nervous system which would have left him unfit for duty and command would have beyond him."

Cautiously Spock reached out and touched Hannet's face, fingers slowly finding their meld places, "He saved the Captain from them and what they did to him." just for a moment the Vulcan closed his eyes and quickly pulled his hand back as though burned.

McCoy laid a hand on the Vulcan's arm, "You okay?"

"His pain is far more intense, much more all-consuming than that which I encountered with the Horta." he looked away from his two friends and seemed to pull himself together before he looked back at the doctor, "I I am quite okay, Doctor, thank you. What they did to him was considerably worse than either of us imagined, Doctor. But, we are correct," he looked at Kirk and tried, in his own way, to smile and saw the shadow of a smile in response, "in assuming he believes Jim is still not safe. There was a distinct underlying sense of having to keep Jim safe till he is back on the ship, of lasting till he gets Jim back to the ship. The pain seems to fill every part of him, is trying to claim his last hold on reality and sanity, but he is holding on to the thought that he has to protect Jim till the Enterprise arrives. He still thinks of the Enterprise as home and Jim," he looked at his Captain and friend and Kirk saw the smile he rarely showed aside from to him, "it is Jim, not Captain Kirk, who he must protect."

Kirk pointed to McCoy's computer and it only took Spock a few moments to connect a manual keyboard. Kirk sat and typed, "Thanks. Was unconscious when implants put in. Been in eight days when he removed them. Hurt like hell, blacked out. I thought he was just torturing me at first. He work in Sickbay? He medically trained?"

"I looked at his records, Jim, and he was an officer trained and highly skilled in search and rescue but used mainly in engineering. He had some medical training."


"The standard first aid training we all had plus the emergency training they give the search and rescue crew. He rostered on for a few months in SickBay when we were short-staffed. He was damn good." McCoy put a hand on Kirk's shoulder, "He would have looked at you, examined you, known what to look for and what to do and had to figure out how to do it only he had to do it without the proper equipment. It would have hurt like hell. Wonder what he used to sterilize the wounds?"

"He, he apologised for hurting me. Used citrus fruit and salt water." The Captain remembered the citrus taste and aroma as well as the strange pain in his rectum. That pain had been like when McCoy had given him an enema, the officer had been sterilizing the wound.

Kirk closed his eyes for a moment and thought how the officer had examined him, how he had silently cursed his officer those two times as he believed it to be a form of sadistic torture, how he had damned him, when all the time he had been, He took a deep breath and shook his head. Hannet had even said "Act part." All the time he had been acting.

Acting. For a moment the idea seemed too preposterous, too improbable but Kirk had to know as he knew what he had seen. Was that weapon part of the act? It had been a real trade. He looked at Spock before typing, "You said a bluff, the weapon?"

Spock nodded and both Kirk and McCoy heard admiration in his voice, "He had modified the phaser to be able to do one very large stunning sonic sweep. It would have made the weapon totally inoperable after the one use. All the internal workings would have been so damaged, so fused, that the weapon would be totally useless. It would have been so badly damaged that should it fall into enemy hands it posed no risk to the Federation as all internal workings would be so fused together as to be indistinguishable. It was reputed to be impossible to make such a weapon from a standard issue phaser but he somehow did so. Clearly modifying the weapon to do it takes not only skill and manual dexterity but a full understanding of the function of each part in the phaser and how it related to the weapon. He would have known he had the one chance to get you."

Just for a moment Kirk saw his Vulcan friend look through the door and at the officer curled on the biobed and give his head a near human shake in disbelief, "He was bluffing. After that demonstration, he had nothing but the facade he created. To do what he did he clearly retained some of his core, some of who he is."

A facade, an act. No wonder he had been in such a hurry to leave, to remove the control implants. At the time Kirk had been sure he was mad, now he realized he was fighting to hold onto some semblance of reality against the onslaught of the drug. What else was it he had said, what was it he was doing, something about being lost. Kirk closed his eyes and shook his head as he remembered, as he again heard it in his mind,"I'm losing me." Unconsciously Kirk bit his bottom lit. Hannet knew he was losing his hold on reality. He knew he was lost. Trying to be calm Kirk typed, "They know he is missing?"


"He knew about me?" It was infuriating to Kirk to have to type when he had so many questions in his head, so many plans he needed to discuss.


Kirk looked up at the tone in Spock's voice and saw it on his Vulcan friend's face as well as McCoy's. He had seen it several times now, that look they exchanged. They were hiding something else from him.