DISCLAIMER: The Star Trek characters are the property of Paramount Studios, Inc. The story contents are the creation and property of Johanna T. Cantor and is copyright (c) 1978 by Johanna T. Cantor. This story is Rated G.
All in a Day's Work
Johanna T. Cantor
Captain's Log, Personal. Still eight standard days journey to Babel. The situation remains touchy. For a time the solidarity fostered by the attack almost eliminated the squabbling among the delegates, but the longer we travel, without alarms and with no further evidence of the saboteur's activity, the more the delegates' natural hostility seems to surface.
I still fatigue too easily. So, I suspect, does Spock. But the crew as a whole is functioning with near perfect efficiency.
Ambassador Sarek's recovery is now certain. His post is being filled most ably by his consort, the Lady Amanda. In a volatile situation, she is one of our greatest assets...
* * *
Unaware of the Captain's encomium, which might have cheered her, Amanda was listening politely to the wife of the Tellarite Ambassador Protem. Outwardly attentive, inwardly she was promising herself that this was the last time this voyage Ghowife would get her alone, rank or no rank. Dear heaven, was there another woman in the Federation capable of delivering a 20-minute threnody - on a lost crochet needle?
"But, Ghowife," she interrupted. "Surely Supply could fabricate a needle for you. I tell you what. Get ahold of Lt. Uhura and tell her the exact size--"
"Oh, the size, no doubt. But, dear Lady Amanda, surely you understand that size is the least of it. My needle was steel! Yes. Antique steel! And when one works with Rigellian gossamer..."
Casually, Amanda drifted toward the conservatory door and the large chronometer. Ghowife followed, still clinking away. Did the woman have a thought in her head, beyond her interminable needlework?
"Oh!" Amanda gave a pretty cry of distress. "Is that the time? Do forgive me, Ghowife, but it is time for my lord's exercises. He requires my attendance."
Ghowife stiffened, venting the extraordinary grunt that passed, among Tellarites, for a ladylike sniff. Amanda drew herself up, ready to do battle. Of course, it was common knowledge that while Sarek of Vulcan did not hesitate to demand his rights as a Vulcan consort, Amanda granted those rights precisely when she chose to do so. But if this overgrown shoat thought for one moment-
"Oh, Ghowife." A rich African voice hailed them and both women turned toward the turbolift. "I am so glad you're here."
"Yes, my dear, what is it?" Ghowife was all graciousness.
"I've been working on the border pattern you showed me," Uhura explained, in distress. "But I can not turn the corner. I don't know what I'm doing wrong, but--"
"Nothing, my dear. Nothing, I'm sure. It merely requires practice. Perhaps if I--"
"Oh, would you?" Amanda swallowed a giggle. For a senior lieutenant in Star Fleet, Uhura could be almost appallingly girlish. "The frame is in my quarter. I'm afraid if I try to move it - but I hate to trouble you."
"No trouble at all, my dear. I'll just get my workbag. I left it in the rose seat. Just one moment."
Uhura gave Ghowife a grateful smile as she left in search of the bag, then pounced on Amanda. "There has been a sensor malfunction," she reported tersely.
"More sabotage?" Amanda asked in alarm, then chided herself for showing her panic. But Uhura did not seem to feel it was inappropriate.
"We thought of that right away, of course. But the only access to the Furtwangler is the Bridge, or Auxiliary Control. And only the top ranking ambassadors have been allowed there. Probably it's just a malfunction. But the thing is, Amanda, I'm afraid Mr. Spock and the Captain have forgotten all about their rest period. They're staying on the Bridge."
"Oh, damn!" Amanda caught herself just in time as Ghowife came waddling back.
"Here I am, my dear. I would not like to lose my whole workbag this time. Do you know--"
Oh, of course. The lost needle again. Amanda suppressed a sigh. But Uhura was listening, all sympathy. Bless the Captain for the suggestion of a good aide, Amanda thought, and tuned the Tellarite out.
Spock was looking so tired, she worried. Surely he had gone back on duty far too soon. Jim, too. And Leonard McCoy knew it. But these men and their sense of duty! Really, it was a toss-up which of them was the worst. Thank goodness Sarek was firmly grounded. With Amanda to fill in, there was no nonsense about his convalescence. And a good thing, too. When it came to stubbornness...
Still, it was Sarek who had discovered, quite by accident, Rec Room 7. Or more accurately, it was Sarek who had discovered its effect on Spock.
Spock's first day on limited duty, Sarek had insisted on his son's accompanying him for his rehabilitative exercises. Spock had been obviously exhausted, but he had insisted on returning to duty. Sarek had pressed the point, until the Captain had stepped in to ease the situation. There was nothing on the Bridge, he declared, that the duty officers couldn't handle quite well. Spock was to go with Sarek. He had then, perforce, had to accept the instantly proffered invitation to join them. And before Amanda had had time to admire her husband's strategy, they had all been in Rec Room 7.
Rec Room 7, Amanda then discovered, was permanently programmed to simulate the Terran seashore. Now, as she shook her head sympathetically at Ghowife's lament, she remembered how Christine Chapel had silently taken over Sarek's exercises, with a nod which directly his usual therapist to Jim and Spock. The men had taken in the situation at a glance and called for Sam. And almost before Amanda had sorted out the by-play, the two officers were stretched full length on the simulated sand, being expertly rubbed down. Soon they were both asleep, all the tensions of command and convalescence soothed by the sounds of surf and seabirds, and the warmth of the sun-simulating lamps.
Sarek had taken good care to see that the same invitation was repeated the next day, making it quite clear that he would be offended if they declined. And by a curious coincidence, the masseurs had been there at the same hour. Even more curiously, crewmembers who drifted in settled down immediately, leaving the silence undisturbed while the two men dozed.
Sarek himself, Amanda suspected, found the simulated environment alien, and more interesting than soothing. Indeed, he had remarked to Dr. McCoy that Spock's responses must be atavistic - inherited from a side of the family he was too polite to specify. Nevertheless, he had chosen Red Room 7 day after day.
Amanda bowed Ghowife and Uhura off the turbolift, smiling graciously. But the smile turned to a worried frown as the doors closed. The men needed their rest. But could she get them off the Bridge? The doors re-opened and Amanda stepped into a busy scene.
Pieces of one of the long-range scanners lay all over the deck next to the navigator's seat. And around them swarmed Starfleet personnel - the Captain, Spock, Ensign Chekov, Chief Engineer Scott, and others Amanda did not know.
"With respect, Captain, Mr. Spock," Scotty was protesting. "Ye've checked out every circuit twice. It has to be some part malfunction. And that's something Engineering can check. Now, if you gentlemen will let me do my job--"
His voice held just the right note of injury. But it didn't work.
"Yes, check them out, Scotty," Kirk replied. "Spock, if we--"
Amanda sighed inaudibly. Obviously they had no intention of leaving the job. And it seemed there was nothing she could do. Anything she might say would sound hopelessly maternal and probably stiffen both men's determination, besides embarrassing them.
"Captain," Lt. Palmer cut in, "I have confirmation. Only ranking ambassadors and their wives have been allowed to tour the Bridge and Auxiliary Control."
"That's no help then. All the ranking ambassadors have been under security surveillance for years." Kirk hurried around to help Spock move a part.
Hopelessly, Amanda drifted over to Palmer and picked up the printout. She couldn't help with the Furtwangler, but she did know the ambassadors. But surely as the Captain had pointed out, it was highly unlikely that a ranking ambassador would sabotage the ship's equipment. Idly, she ran her finger down the list. Bor, of the First Federation, and Alathia, his wife. Shras, the Andorian, and his wife... The names were all familiar. Most of these people had served the Federation for decades. Ghowife - her finger halted. Ghov was a junior member of the Tellarite delegation, promoted to ambassador protem at the death of his superior, and still very much an underling. Subordinates, and even moreso, subordinates' wives, could grow restless over long years. But surely-
"Lt. Palmer." Amanda kept her voice low. "What time did the Furtwangler begin to malfunction? And what's wrong?"
"It's a vagrant electrical charge," Lt. Palmer whispered back. "Mr. Chekov noticed it toward the end of the third period."
Amanda rechecked her schedule. Ghowife had been taken on the Bridge early in the third period.
"Was anyone with Ghowife?"
"The wife of ambassador Ghov missed the scheduled tour." Lt. Palmer's tone was polite, but Amanda could hardly miss the phrasing. Lt. Palmer didn't like the Tellarite custom. Well, Amanda didn't like it either. Tellarite women were never named. They were known as somebody's daughter until their betrothal, then as somebody's betrothed, and somebody's wife. Autres peuples, autres moeurs, she reminded herself, probably for the twelfth time that day. But great galaxy, what moeurs!
"She requested a separate tour later," Lt. Palmer was continuing. "She was alone."
"I see." Amanda was careful not to react. Be sensible, she chided herself. If Ghov performs the mission well, that will represent the best chance he's had at promotion in 15 years. And Ghowife, with her head stuffed full of needlework...
"Lt. Palmer," she whispered, "do you have a handlight?"
Lt. Palmer gazed up at her in surprise. Amanda smiled back, trying to look pleasant but authoritative, like an ambassador's wife (or alternatively, a first officer's mother). Finally, Lt. Palmer rose, moved quietly around the huddle of officers and technicians, opened a tool cabinet, and returned with a handlight. Thanking her, Amanda began to prowl.
It would have to be somewhere near the Furtwangler, she supposed. But they'd taken the whole cabinet apart. The power source must be... Her ruminations led her to the Navigation Station. There she knelt and shone the torch back under the console. "Ah-ha!"
"What is it, Mother?" Spock stood behind her. But Amanda was not sure enough to commit herself.
"There's a metal bar under here," she explained, poking the handle of the torch toward it. "I think--"
"Mother!" Spock almost shouted and Amanda jumped, bumping her head painfully on the console.
"Forgive me." He did not sound contrite. "Probably there is no danger. Nevertheless, please stand well back." Politely, he helped her to her feet, then propelled her gently toward the crowd of personnel. Jim took her arm and pushed her back into the crowd, shielding her with his body. Amanda suppressed a protest. Spock must know what he was doing.
She peered over the Captain's shoulder, watching her son as he lay flat on the deck, taking careful readings.
"Energy readings are all normal," he announced. "There is no foreign material here, aside from the bar itself, which is a solid cylinder of steel." Still watching the tricorder, Spock pulled the cylinder out, then sat on the deck, holding it up to the light. The crew sighed in unison.
Or almost in unison. Scott was already crossing the examine the bar. "Antique steel!" he exclaimed. "No wonder we got variations!"
"But where did it come from?" Ensign Chekov asked in bewilderment. "It looks like a long hook, but--"
"It is Ghowife's crochet needle," Amanda explained. "She's been complaining all afternoon about losing it."
Spock looked at her for a long moment, then held the needle out to Chekov. "Would you return this to the ambassador's wife, Ensign? With the compliments of the Bridge crew."
A creak of delightful laughter made him wince, but he masked his reaction, and moved to rise. Then he sat down again quickly, his eyes widening. Amanda pushed past the Captain, reaching her son just as he dropped his head in his hands. "Spock!" she begged, but she clasped her hands together. She would not embarrass him.
"Easy, my friend." The Captain knelt by his side. "Lie flat for a moment." And to Amanda's astonishment, the Captain put an arm around Spock, steadying him.
"I am all right, Captain. Mother," Spock reassured them. "A momentary dizziness."
"Yes, of course you are," Amanda replied. Taking courage from the Captain's example, she took his hand. "But it's almost the end of the fourth period, Spock. Your father will be waiting."
Spock nodded and rose slowly, but without difficulty. Amanda held his arm until she was sure he was balance, then slipped her arm under his. "Captain?" she invited. Jim hesitated.
"You go along, Captain," Scott said cheerfully. "We'll have this baby back together in no time."
Jim grinned at him, then bowed slightly to Amanda, and stepped forward to take her arm. "Thank you for your help, Amanda," he said.
"All in a day's work," she replied jauntily, and urged the two friends toward the turbolift.