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) 1972, 1999 by Cheree Cargill. No infringement is any existing copyright is intended. This story is an amateur publication and not a plugged credit has been made at any time. It was written for pure enjoyment. One copy of this story may be downloaded for the reader's enjoyment but may not be copied or reproduced in any other form without the express written consent of the author.

NOTE: If this story doesn't quite match the quality of my others, it's because this was one of the first ST stories I ever wrote, way back in 1972. So, be forgiving when you read it. :)

Journey to Malakesh

Cheree Cargill

(originally printed in Federation Chronicles #1, 1972)

It was like this: a missionary named Jensen Dunbar had managed to get himself and his party executed by proclaiming the high god of the planet Malakesh as false. He had further worsened the situation by denouncing the high priests as heretics. The followers of Dunbar had gotten all up in arms over the slaying and had procured a small ship to go to Malakesh and avenge their martyr's death. The Malakeshian government had gotten wind of the venture and threatened to declare war if the self-proclaimed crusaders were not stopped.

That was the assignment handed to James T. Kirk as he prepared to pull his ship out of orbit. The U.S.S. Enterprise had been in "dry-dock" around Star Base 9 undergoing repairs. Most of the crew had been given leave and reported back refreshed, happy, and gloriously drunk in a few cases. Chief Engineer Montgomery Scott and Navigator Pavel Chekov beamed up with their arms around each other and singing at the top of their voices. Both were off-key.

Commander Spock, the first officer, came aboard after a lengthy conference with a group of fellow Vulcans outward bound for a science station orbiting Achernar 6. As usual, he did not waste time in chatting with Kirk, but went directly to work.

Ship's Surgeon Leonard McCoy reported back with a case of the finest whiskey money could buy and this week's winnings from the floating crap game that always managed to be where McCoy was at that moment. Kirk had tried time and time again to get in on the action but without success. Obviously, you had to know somebody who knew somebody who knew somebody!

Communications Officer Uhura, Nurse Christine Chapel, and several other female crewmembers came back, their arms loaded with things that the ship's stores did not carry, and all went below to store their newly gained treasures, chatting happily.

The crew continued to beam up until all were present and accounted for. Spock reported to the bridge and stepped down beside Kirk to receive his orders.

The Captain looked up at him and sighed. "It seems that a bunch of pilgrims are determined to start a war and we're to get peace talks going."

Spock raised an eyebrow appraisingly. "The Dunbar incident? Yes, I read of it. I have been on Malakesh before. The natives are extremely sensitive about and utterly faithful to their religious convictions. Somewhat like your Earth's Catholic Church during the Middle Ages. It would only take a small spark to ignite a major conflict."

Kirk nodded thoughtfully then sniffed and straightened in his chair, stirring to action. "Lt. Uhura, clear with Star Base 9 and tell them we're pulling out. Ensign Chekov, lay in a course for Malakesh. Mr. Sulu, warp factor three. Mr. Spock, come with me."

As the bridge crew came to life, the Captain arose and went to the turbolift, followed dutifully by his first officer. There was that extremely faint bit of queasiness as the ship went into subspace, then it passed and the lovely reassuring whine of the big twin warp engines faded into the usual background noise of the starship.

On the way down to deck 8, Kirk said, "It'll take us about a week to get there. Might as well relax till we do. Bones has some new whiskey he's dying for me to try."

Spock raised an eyebrow and nodded. "I assumed that the doctor would find a new pastime to keep him busy."

The elevator doors opened and the two men stepped out. "How is Dr. Soren?" Kirk asked conversationally.

"Extremely well," Spock answered as they walked down the hall. "They are going to check on a report of a new find. A new fuel with even more power than raw dilithium crystals, I believe."

"It's going to have to pack quite a wallop if it beats dilithium."

They reached sick bay and entered. McCoy was waiting with a fresh bottle of his whiskey. "Jim, Spock, come on in," he beamed. "Have a seat. Jim, you're not gonna believe this stuff! How do you want it?"

"On the rocks'll do," Kirk answered, sitting down.

The doctor passed him a drink. "How 'bout you, Spock? Still on the wagon?"

The first officer frowned curiously. "I beg your pardon? I am not and never have been on any wagon."

Kirk nearly choked on his drink. "He means you're not drinking," he laughed when he could talk again.

Spock raised both eyebrows and looked quite indignant. "I see. No, doctor, I do not indulge in drinking. Fortunately, my planet was spared the dubious benefits of alcohol." With that, Spock retired quietly to the background, his arms folded.

"This *is* good!" Kirk exclaimed.

"Prime Georgia blended whiskey. No better in this end of the galaxy."

"Where'd you get it?"

"I got connections," McCoy answered vaguely.

At that moment, Nurse Christine Chapel waltzed in, wearing a new green chiffon formal. "Well, how do you like-- Oh! I'm sorry! Excuse me, sir! I didn't meant to--" She made an attempt at an exit but Kirk called her back.

"Well, I do declare!" McCoy appraised her, intentionally heavying his natural Southern accent. "If you ain't the pertiest lil' ol' thang I ever did see!"

Christine blushed. "Thank you, Doctor."

"Very nice," Kirk approved, lifting his glass. "Here's to your taste in clothing."

"I agree," Spock added. Christine jumped. She hadn't noticed him standing there.

"Er ... thank you, sir. If ... if you'll excuse me, Captain." Hastily, she ducked back into sick bay proper. She was back a few minutes later, in uniform and on the job.

* * *

They caught up with the crusaders on the third day. Putting a tractor beam on the little ship, the Enterprise held it in tow while Kirk prepared to board her.

The leader turned out to be a powerful looking man in his late 50's. He introduced himself as Samuel Emerson, captain of the Liberation. He was short, somewhat stout, and had a stubby gray beard. Almost babyish in its appearance, his face was nevertheless hard and bore mute testimony to a fearless soul. Kirk knew at once that this was a for formidable foe.

Also in the party was Emerson's daughter Jade. She was only a little shorter than her father and her jade-green eyes -- obviously the source of her name -- matched his in ruthlessness. Her hair, almost auburn, was pulled back in a long braid that hung to her waist.

The rest of the group included a tall, rabbity man calling himself Isaac Farson, a good-looking young brute named Schmidt, two girls, obviously twins, and a very sick man whom Emerson addressed simply as Eli. The air of determination amid the group made Kirk wonder what would keep them from recommandeering their ship and continuing to Malakesh.

Eli was beamed over to sick bay and soon the rest of the party boarded the Enterprise as well. There, Kirk found that he did not particularly like Emerson's personality. Spock pointedly avoided him. He considered their whole mission to be "illogical and launched on purely emotional impulse." Jade Emerson began to enchant crewmen from the moment she was aboard, while Schmidt was found to be a prize troublemaker. Eli, who would not give any other name, was a likeable fellow and Christine soon found herself bringing him tapes from the library. However, at times, she was frightened by the strange, almost fanatical look that came into his too-blue eyes.

Kirk received word from Star Fleet Command that a Federation envoy was en route to Malakesh, hoping to clear up the matter through diplomatic channels. Emerson and his party were to be on hand. Therefore, with the Liberation in tow, the starship cruised toward the planet and, within her, friction grew in epidemic proportions. Eli recovered with amazing rapidity and soon left sick bay, healthy and still mysterious.

Kirk was getting worried and noticed that his officers were the same.

Spock used the library computer, his first real love, until it seemed that he would wear out the tapes. Yet he would not tell Kirk of his sudden interest. McCoy, when asked of his opinion, only shook his head. Scotty quoted some ancient Highland proverb and turned back to his technical journals. Finally, when he was ready, Spock came to see Kirk in his cabin.

"Captain, I have something you might find interesting." Kirk settled back.

When Spock started off like that, a long speech usually followed. "I have called up every bit of information that we have on this movement. It seems that Jensen Dunbar had a son -- one Elias Carter Dunbar -- by his first wife, now deceased. The boy would be 29 now. Not much is known of him, but it does state that he was blonde, blue-eyed and fairly athletic, a description that fits Eli. Also, he was a fanatical believer in his father's cause and only his illness, which seems to recur, kept him from going on the fatal trip to Malakesh with his father. He swore that he would follow him as soon as he was well enough." Spock paused. "Captain, I believe that Eli is Elias Dunbar."

It was then that general quarters went off.

* * *

Kirk burst into the bridge demanding, "What's going on?"

Uhura answered, "Sir, we have lost all communications with the engine room and lower decks. Security reports several weapons missing from the arsenal. Dr. McCoy reports no casualties and also that Nurse Chapel is missing."

The Captain stepped quickly down to the command chair and jabbed the intercom button. "Bones!"

"Yes, Jim."

"What's this about Chapel missing?"

"That's not the half of it!" McCoy stated. "Eli came in here complaining of a headache and wanted something to take. When my back was turned, he clobbered me. Christine was gone when I woke up. Since then, I've had two corpses on my hands. Both phasered."

Kirk grunted and switched channels. "Security!"

"Here, sir."

"I want all members of the Emerson party arrested. Phasers on heavy stun. Be careful. They're armed and dangerous. Kirk out." He turned to Spock who was bending over the science station. "Data?"

"I have none, Captain. Wait! Something coming in now." He was silent for a few seconds. "Intraship sensors show power being turned off rapidly on the lower decks ... from Engineering. Everything but the hanger deck."

"They're making a break for it," said Kirk. "Hijacking a shuttlecraft."

He punched a button on the panel.

"Security," answered a male voice.

"Have a security team meet Mr. Spock on the deck 11. He'll give you further instructions. Have another team meet me in Engineering, on the double. Out." He switched off. "They're either all in Engineering or they've split up. Either way, I want to be ready for them."

"Agreed," said Spock.

Kirk nodded. "Set your phasers on heavy stun. We can be pretty sure they're holding Nurse Chapel hostage, so be careful."

Spock nodded and went out.

From deck 11, Spock and the security guards went down to the lower decks and approached the hanger decks, walking silently through darkened corridors, their phasers ready. At the entrance to the hanger deck, Spock split them up, sending one man up to the control room to lock the bay doors. Two others he sent around to the other side of the hanger to guard the air lock there and back up his primary attack.

After they had departed, Spock and the remaining guard advanced upon the main air lock. The intercom whistled softly and Spock punched the button. "Spock here."

"Set," said one of the guards he had sent around to the other side.

"Acknowledged." He looked at the remaining guard and nodded. Together, they rushed into the hanger deck, phasers ready. Most of the Emerson group were standing near a shuttlecraft, one of the men holding Christine Chapel tightly by the arm. They whirled as the first officer and guard rushed in. From the other side of the bay came the sound of an air lock swishing open -- the other two guards.

At once, the fugitives whipped out their phasers and began to fire. A phaser beam caught the guard with Spock. He froze and fell. Spock fired back at once, hampered by not wanting to hit Christine. The other two guards were doing well -- one of them got the man holding Christine. With a cry, she broke free and ran blindly. The hanger deck echoed with the screams of the phasers as the Emerson party opened fire on the remaining guards. Both went down returning fire.

The fact had escaped Christine. When she had felt the grasp on her arm loosen, she had dashed for the air lock ... or where she assumed the air lock to be. Instead, she collided with an arrow-shaped patch of silver amid a sea of blue, but that was enough. She didn't care who was in that uniform -- she just wanted him! She flung herself into his arms and clung desperately, the acrid smell of a close-range phaser nimbus burning her nostrils.

Then, a familiar voice said urgently, "We have no time for niceties, Miss Chapel We are in a most grave situation!"

And Spock shoved her out the door ahead of him, firing one last shot into the hangar deck. The doors hissed to and Spock sprinted for the elevator at the end of the hall, Christine beside him. They had just reached it when the hanger doors snapped open, the remaining members of the fugitives rushing into the hallway. The lift doors parted with a sigh and the two Enterprise people leapt into the opening, but not before the big one -- Schmidt -- had yanked his phaser up, aiming at the fleeing forms.

The beam did not hit Christine square but it did knock her forward into the lift. Spock said bruskly, "Deck 8" to the elevator as the doors closed on them, then he knelt slowly beside Christine. She was slumped against the wall, stunned, gasping. Gingerly, he reached out to touch her but, even as he did, her eyes fluttered and she fell over, unconscious.

Spock stood quickly and punched the intercom button. "Medical team to Deck 8, lift 12. Captain Kirk to sick bay." He switched off and knelt again, this time gathering the nurse gently in his arms. Her head fell limply across his arm.

The elevator slowed and stopped, the doors hissing open. A medical team came around the corner. Spock stood up, holding Christine, and laid her on the table the med-team had brought. Then they covered her with a sheet and whisked her off to sick bay, Spock following urgently.

Kirk arrived several minutes later. "What happened?" he wanted to know immediately. Spock told him. Kirk listened then nodded. "We have the others in custody. They were coming out of Engineering, making a run for the hanger deck." He stepped over to the intercom and punched the button. "Security forces to the lower decks. Locate the remaining members of the Emerson party. Put them in the brig when you do. Be careful. They're armed and dangerous. Kirk out."

McCoy appeared from the next room. "How is she, Bones?" asked the Captain.

"Second degree burns on her back and shoulders, but she'll be alright," McCoy said. "I've seen worse."

"Good. Mr. Spock, let's go. I want to be there when security brings in those prisoners." The two men left, Kirk looking very determined.

* * *

A formal apology was issued to the Malakeshians, followed by a cautious ambassador, very carefully paving the way to better relations. Emerson and his group were brought up before the Federal Tribunal of Justice and were found guilty of the murders of five Star Fleet personnel, the kidnap and harassment of other Star Fleet personnel, theft of Star Fleet equipment, inciting violence on a Federation starship, attempting to incite violence on a non-Federation planet, and operating a starship without a license or flight plan, thus endangering other space craft. The lowest sentence was fifty-four years in a rehabilitation colony and a 10,000 credit fine.

As Kirk and Spock entered the bridge, Uhura turned from her comm-board. "Captain, I have a message from Star Fleet Command. We have orders to report to Alberio to pick up a group of mine workers and transport them to a hospital station. It seems that the red mist has broken out in epidemic proportion on Thuban and we're to transport emergency supplies to them. And a new set of Klingon attacks have occurred in the Pleiades. What are your orders, sir?"

Kirk and Spock exchanged glances and the Captain sighed tiredly.

"Acknowledge, lieutenant. Tell them we're pulling out. Mr. Chekov, lay in a course for Alberio, warp six." He punched the intercom button. "Bones?"

"Yes, Jim?"

"Break out the glasses. I need a drink."