DISCLAIMER: The Star Trek characters are the property of Paramount Studios, Inc. The story contents are the creation and property of Cheree Cargill and is copyright (c) 2001 by Cheree Cargill. This story is Rated PG.



THE CONSCIENCE OF THE KING: MERELY PLAYERS

Cheree Cargill



Stardate: 2819.5 First Officer Spock recording.

We are en route to Macus III to deliver medical supplies for New Paris Colony after a brief stopover at Starbase 11. There we reprovisioned as well as transferred crew. Departing the ship are Yeoman Janice Rand and Lt. Kevin Riley. Coming aboard as replacements are Ensign Pavel Chekov, Navigation, and Yeoman Tania Barrows, Quartermaster's Office. We also have as a guest Federation High Commissioner Ferris who is accompanying the medical supplies to New Paris.

The Karidian Players have also departed the ship. The body of Anton Karidian, alias Kodos the Executioner, has been turned over to authorities on Starbase 11, as has his daughter, Lenore Karidian. I fear the young lady is destined to be transported to Tantalus V for treatment. She is quite obviously insane.

A pity. She is a beautiful and talented young woman who is likely to spend the remainder of her life in a penal colony for her crimes. The ultimate fate of the rest of the actors is unknown to me.

The Karidian company, however, has left quite a legacy on board ship. The entire crew seems to have gone Shakespeare mad. At every turn, I encounter amateur thespians spouting passages from various plays as if they were performing at the Old Vic or the Globe.

For instance, yesterday morning, as I returned from business in the life sciences department and found the Captain absent from the bridge, I discovered Mr. Sulu standing with one foot propped on his chair and one hand pressed to his breast, the other lifted dramatically in the air.

"To be, or not to be," he intoned with exaggerated diction. "That is the question. Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing end them? To die: to sleep; no more; and by a sleep to say we end the heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to, 'tis a consummation devoutly to be wish'd!"

"Attention to your station is a consummation devoutly to be wished, Mr. Sulu," I commented dryly as I stepped down to take the command chair. "Please save the theatrics until you are off duty."

"Uh, yes, Mr. Spock," Sulu answered hurriedly and resumed his seat at the helm. Next to him the new navigator, Ensign Chekov, grinned in delight.

"You find something amusing, Mr. Chekov?" I inquired, taking a report board from the yeoman on duty and signing it..

"Oh, no, sir. Nut at all, sir." Hastily, he faced front and sobered.

This was not the only occasion I have encountered the Bard today. After my shift was over, the Captain and I retired to the officer's mess for our evening meal. There Lt. Uhura and Dr. Mannfried from the astrophysics lab were midway through the balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet, much to the appreciation of their small audience gathered in the room for supper. They had stacked a table on top of another to serve as the balcony and Lt. Uhura was leaning languidly over it, her cheek resting in the palm of her hand.

"What's in a name?" she was sighing. "That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet; so Romeo would, were he not Romeo call'd, retain that dear perfection which he owes without that title. Romeo, doff thy name, and for that name which is no part of thee take all myself."

Dr. Mannfried sprang eagerly forward. "I take thee at thy word! Call me but love, and I'll be new baptized; henceforth I never will be Romeo."

Lt. Uhura drew back, shocked. "What man art thou that thus bescreen'd in night so stumblest on my counsel?"

"By a name I know not how to tell thee who I am," Mannfried responded. "My name, dear saint, is hateful to myself, because it is an enemy to thee; had I it written, I would tear the word."

Uhura leaned forward. "My ears have not yet drunk a hundred words of that tongue's utterance, yet I know the sound: art thou not Romeo and a Montague?"

"Neither, fair saint, if either thee dislike," Mannfried assured her.

"How camest thou hither, tell me, and wherefore? The orchard walls are high and hard to climb, and the place death, considering who thou art, if any of my kinsmen find thee here," Uhura hissed urgently at him.

But Mannfried would not be dissuaded. "With love's light wings did I o'er-perch these walls; for stony limits cannot hold love out, and what love can do that dares love attempt."

Out of the corner of my eye, I caught a familiar face not focused on the two amateur actors and I turned my head in that direction.

Nurse Chapel was staring at me dreamy-eyed, a little smile pulling at her lips. I suddenly felt quite uncomfortable and decided to take my supper in my cabin. I excused myself quietly to the Captain, but he only nodded absently, thoroughly enjoying the impromptu play. I quickly made good my escape.

This morning, the trend seemed to reach a climax. Not long after alpha shift began, Dr. McCoy came up to the bridge to squander time, as he is so wont to do, and it wasn't long before he and the Captain were discussing the recent performance of Hamlet by the Karidian company.

"Too bad they didn't get to finish it," Kirk mused. "It's a great play."

"A little too familiar, though," McCoy responded, hands behind his back. "Every high school and little theater company in this part of the galaxy has done Hamlet. Give me something a little meatier. Macbeth, for instance."

Then he cleared his throat, let his gaze turn far away. "Though Birnam wood be come to Dunsinane, and thou opposed, being of no woman born, yet I will try the last. Before my body I throw my warlike shield. Lay on, Macduff, and damn'd be him that first cries, 'Hold, enough!'"

"Bravo, Bones!" Kirk cheered. "I never knew you read Shakespeare."

"Well, not read, really, but I've seen a few plays," McCoy answered with a bit of modesty.

"Okay, how about this one..." Captain Kirk rose to his feet and assumed what I have begun to think of as "the stance", one of an obvious theatrical nature. He began:

"It yearns me not if men my garments wear; such outward things dwell not in my desires. But if it be a sin to covet honor, I am the most offending soul alive. No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from England: God's peace! I would not lose so great an honor as one man more, methinks, would share from me for the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more! Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host, that he which hath no stomach to this fight, let him depart; his passport shall be made and crowns for convoy put into his purse: We would not die in that man's company that fears his fellowship to die with us.

"This day is called the feast of Crispian: he that outlives this day, and comes safe home, will stand a tip-toe when the day is named, and rouse him at the name of Crispian. He that shall live this day, and see old age, will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbors, and say 'To-morrow is Saint Crispian:' Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars. And say 'These wounds I had on Crispin's day.'

"Old men forget: yet all shall be forgot, but he'll remember with advantages what feats he did that day. Then shall our names, familiar in his mouth as household words -- Harry the king, Bedford and Exeter, Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester, be in their flowing cups freshly remember'd. This story shall the good man teach his son; and Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by, from this day to the ending of the world, but we in it shall be remember'd. We few, we happy few, we band of brothers; for he to-day that sheds his blood with me shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile, this day shall gentle his condition: And gentlemen in England now a-bed shall think themselves accursed they were not here, and hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks that fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day!"

The bridge crew stood and applauded wildly and with enthusiastic shouts. I remained sitting quietly at my station, arms crossed, amused at the display. The Captain's face reddened as he sat back down. "All right, all right. Enough! Thank you, but enough!"

After the crew had turned back to their jobs, McCoy grinned. "Did you ever have prospects of going on the stage, Jim?"

"Well, maybe, when I was young. I've always loved Shakespeare, though," the Captain admitted. "Some of the greatest literature Earth ever produced and it's still as fresh today as when it was written."

McCoy noticed my observation of them and quipped, "Bet Vulcan never produced anything so lyrical. Heaven forbid that emotion should ruin perfectly good writing, hmm, Spock?"

"As a matter of fact, Doctor, Vulcan poetry is quite highly regarded," I answered. "It simply does not translate well into English or Standard."

"Well, 16th Century English isn't your every day language and people still understand it well enough," the doctor groused.

"Sixteenth Century English is not Vulcan, Doctor," I answered seriously. "The syntax of the two language families is quiet dissimilar. For instance--"

McCoy sighed elaborately, rolled his eyes to the ceiling and intoned, "Yet if my name were liable to fear, I do not know the man I should avoid so soon as that spare Cassius. He reads much; he is a great observer and he looks quite through the deeds of men: he loves no plays, as thou dost, Antony; he hears no music; seldom he smiles, and smiles in such a sort as if he mock'd himself and scorn'd his spirit that could be moved to smile at any thing. Such men as he be never at heart's ease whiles they behold a greater than themselves, and therefore are they very dangerous."

Kirk laughed out loud and the rest of the bridge crew tittered quietly, under their breaths. I favored them with a sharp glance, then returned my attention to the doctor. "I am not Cassius," I responded haughtily.

"You're just jealous because you can't quote back at me," McCoy answered, rocking on the heels of his boots in a self-satisfied manner.

"Indeed?" I responded.

"Uh-oh, you've done it now, Bones," Kirk warned the surgeon.

I ignored him, focusing on Dr. McCoy. "What would like, Doctor? Something from The Tempest? 'Our revels now are ended. These our actors, as I foretold you, were all spirits and are melted into air, into thin air. And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, the cloud-capp'd towers, the gorgeous palaces, the solemn temples, the great globe itself, yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve and, like this insubstantial pageant faded, leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with a sleep.'"

"Yea, Mr. Spock!" cheered Sulu, applauding.

"What a piece of work is a man!" McCoy shot back, taking up the gauntlet. "How noble in reason! How infinite in faculty! In form and moving how express and admirable! In action how like an angel! In apprehension how like a god! The beauty of the world! The paragon of animals!"

That got McCoy applause from the bridge crew, now raptly drawn into our verbal duel.

I retorted, "For, though I speak it to you, I think the king is but a man, as I am: the violet smells to him as it doth to me: the element shows to him as it doth to me; all his senses have but human conditions: his ceremonies laid by, in his nakedness he appears but a man; and though his affections are higher mounted than ours, yet, when they stoop, they stoop with the like wing. Therefore when he sees reason of fears, as we do, his fears, out of doubt, be of the same relish as ours are: yet, in reason, no man should possess him with any appearance of fear, lest he, by showing it, should dishearten his army."

A round of cheering for me.

McCoy was beginning to sweat. "Cowards die many times before their deaths; the valiant never taste of death but once. Of all the wonders that I yet have heard, it seems to me most strange that men should fear, seeing that death, a necessary end, will come when it will come."

Applause for the doctor.

I was tiring of this endless game and decided to finish it. Standing and facing McCoy, my hands behind my back, I took a deep breath.

"I pray thee, bear my former answer back: bid them achieve me and then sell my bones. Good God! why should they mock poor fellows thus? The man that once did sell the lion's skin while the beast lived, was killed with hunting him. A many of our bodies shall no doubt find native graves; upon the which, I trust, shall witness live in brass of this day's work: and those that leave their valiant bones in France, dying like men, though buried in your dunghills, they shall be famed; for there the sun shall greet them, and draw their honors reeking up to heaven; leaving their earthly parts to choke your clime, the smell whereof shall breed a plague in France.

"Mark then abounding valor in our English, that being dead, like to the bullet's grazing, break out into a second course of mischief, killing in relapse of mortality. Let me speak proudly. Tell the constable we are but warriors for the working-day; our gayness and our gilt are all besmirch'd with rainy marching in the painful field; there's not a piece of feather in our host -- good argument, I hope, we will not fly -- and time hath worn us into slovenry: But, by the mass, our hearts are in the trim; and my poor soldiers tell me, yet ere night they'll be in fresher robes, or they will pluck the gay new coats o'er the French soldiers' heads and turn them out of service.

"If they do this, -- as, if God please, they shall, -- my ransom then will soon be levied. Herald, save thou thy labor; come thou no more for ransom, gentle herald: they shall have none, I swear, but these my joints; which if they have as I will leave 'em them, shall yield them little, tell the constable."

Kirk interrupted before McCoy could think of a rejoinder. "'I shall, King Harry. And so fare thee well: Thou never shalt hear herald any more.' Enough, Bones. You can't out-quote him. He's a walking databank." He sent his gaze around the room. "Back to work everyone. The poetry session is over."

They all turned back to work, including me, and McCoy huffed his way to the turbolift, leaving the bridge in a foul humor. But just as I was about to feed a tape into library computer, I heard the Captain speaking very softly, almost to himself, although I am sure that he knew I could hear him.

He was saying: "O, he sits high in all the people's hearts: And that which would appear offence in us, his countenance, like richest alchemy, will change to virtue and to worthiness."

I looked around at him, curious, and saw him wink conspiratorially at me. My brows went up almost of their own accord and, not knowing what to say, I turned silently back to my station and began my work.

THE END