DISCLAIMER: The Star Trek characters are the property of Paramount Studios, Inc. The story contents are the creation and property of Kelthammer and is copyright (c) 2002 by Kelthammer. This story is Rated G. This is based on the animated episode "The Lorelei Signal."



Chapel's Sickbay

Kelthammer



So far, so good...

Christine Chapel looked to the right, then the left, down the corridor both ways.

No sign at all of Mr. Thompson, the Dread in Red.

She took a deep breath, braced herself, and slapped her folder under her arm. With a march borne of determination, she stamped her way to Sickbay just a few minutes earlier than scheduled.

***

Leonard McCoy's peaceful morning with large, colorful diagrams of choriocytosis cells was intruded upon in a big way when a fat sheaf of plastic papers, stuck together in a transparent grip, came out of nowhere and slammed over his work in a bellyflop of flexible data. Chapel thought his startled yelp was pretty satisfying.

"Finished?" The doctor put a hand over his heart with only a little drama, rolling his eyes up.

"You're not going to believe it," Chapel told him.

"What am I not going to believe?" He opened the first hardcopy leaf, and was instantly swamped with a page of data.

"Just read it."

McCoy's tuneless hum was abruptly cut off as his finger wandered down and stopped at a tiny bargraph.

"Y'right ... I don't believe it."

Christine sat on the edge of his desk, feeling a little pleased with herself. "No wonder you men atypically lost your minds down there."

"Holy..." McCoy was openly staring at the information scale. "This is bizarre! You're right!"

Chapel chuckled softly. "So, what do we do about the Taurean women?"

"Lord knows. I don't." McCoy shuddered. "Hey, did you send a copy of this Upstairs?"

"Just did."

"Great." McCoy scanned the rest of the report and passed it back with one last shiver. "You done good, Nurse. Consider your boss in your debt."

"How much debt?"

"Welll... I don't know. How much do you think you're worth?"

"Me?" Chapel said as the door opened behind her. "I think I'm priceless."

"That you are." McCoy smiled beatifically. "What can I do for you, Jim?"

The captain was holding his copy of Chapel's report in his hands. "I was ... wondering if I understood the data correctly."

"Laymen's terms?" Chapel wondered.

"Don't mind my nurse." McCoy waved grandly. "She's in her glory when you give her a couple of blood tests and cell biopsies."

"I can see that." Faint awe tinged Kirk's face.

"In simple terms, Jim, Christine's report states with plenty of fact to back it up..." McCoy leaned forward and began digging in his desk for a workable stylus..." Those Taurean women were so hyped up on hormones that we were incapable of thinking for ourselves."

"That certainly explains it," Jim muttered.

"Explains what, Captain?"

"Theela. She said something to the effect of how they hated doing what they had to do, but we would at least be comfortable while they were doing it..." Jim shook his head violently. "So you're saying that we couldn't help ourselves when we just caved in in the presence of those women?"

Chapel was shaking her head. "Sir, the Taureans were using submission pheromones with very heavy hands. You were doomed the moment you took a breath of the planet's air."

Kirk looked sour. It was hard for a man of his stripe to not take responsibility for everything. The fact that the women were stereotypical doe-eyed husband hunters with a black widow-esque feast at the end of the courtship somehow made it even worse.

McCoy read Chapel's thoughts. "Kinda like thinkin' you're gonna get strangled by a boa, and you find out the hard way they've got lots and lots of teeth to bite you with too."

Chapel glared at him. She did not like snakes.

Jim Kirk carefully set his folder down and folded his arms into a casual position. "Hmn. I know we promised to help them ... but the question is how."

"Especially since they've been ... disposing of one entire starship every twenty or so years to keep their population alive." McCoy glanced uneasily at Chapel. Chapel knew he was struggling between his determination to be tolerant of different norms, and the horror that people would resort to a form of vampirism to continue a static existence.

It was pretty much how Chapel felt, actually. But she and Uhura -- and all the women involved -- had nominal tolerance for those overgrown Amazons. Quite possibly, it was their body chemistry clashing with the Taurean chemistry.

"I don't know, but we'd better think of something before we get to Starbase 6 ... " Chapel shook her head. "They promised they'd be good, but how good can that be?"

***

"So, anyway, the captain is treating me a little different ... " Uhura shook her head as she bit into a large flatbread sandwich. Purple olives spilled on her plate. "Oh, drat."

"Nyota, you're the only person I know who does that." Chapel said, deeply amused.

"What?"

"You're a communications officer, Fed-Standard is not your native tongue, but when you curse, you make sure people know what exactly you're saying."

"Well, that's the point of communications. What's the use if I swear in Swahili? I shouldn't get out of the habit of being easily understood."

"True, very true." Chapel dipped her sushi roll in soy and chewed blissfully. "It's just one of those things that stand you apart."

"I'm not the only one. Leonard curses to be understood all the time."

"Not that he gets comprehension. You're the linguist. Why don't you tell him it's not very comprehensively effective for him to invoke a 700-year old form of English?"

"Because its so much fun when he uses it. Come on, Christine. There's language and then there's language. Don't tell me you weren't flattered when he called you a 'proverbial thorn' yesterday."

Christine sniggered. "Yeah, that was classic ... "

"I don't see how you can work with him half the time. I mean, the man can read Hucklberry Finn in its original English and understand it!"

"What my ears can't comprehend, the gestures explain for me."

"Now, that I can believe. Oh, well. But think of what all this will do to your record. It's been stuffed with commendations."

Uhura shrugged. "Happens. I got a file full for standing Navigation when we were against the Romulan warship. It's not like I was never trained to sit behind one of those things. Now, Engineering ... that's another story. I have a feeling Montgomery and I would have a few words on that."

"Um." Chapel bit into a pickled ginger. "I don't know. Once Scotty understands what you're all about, it shouldn't be a problem, should it?"

Uhura shook her head. "I don't know. He's so particular. I mean, he is a sweetie, but I don't know if we have enough in common that we can work together."

"Well, you might as well find out now, before you get stuck in a bad situation. And speaking of ancient forms of language ... I've been around him when his brogue was rougher than a shark's hide."

"Hmn. He and Leonard understand each other perfectly well."

"No flippin' wonder. The captain says he's never letting them take shore leave together again, after what happened to them on Wrigley's."

Uhura frowned. "That's hardly fair. It's not like they were even trying to get in trouble, or do anything off-color. And the police were glad for their help!"

"I know, but I think there's just something about the chemistry those two put together that unsettles James T. Kirk." Chapel shrugged.

"Hah. You want unsettling, try sticking Mr. Spock and Dr. McCoy together. When they agree to get along, its like a set of twins. But when they don't, it's back to the sugar and salt."

"Unsettling? Get Hikaru ... I think the man's been clobbered every other time he goes down on a planet. The Archons, Pyrrus ... "

"How about Alpha 177, when he and the landing party were going to freeze to death?" Uhura rubbed her arms at the thought.

"And whatsisname ... Trelane ... zapped him and the captain, turned them into living room display pieces ... "

"Don't remind me. There was a salt vampire in that collection. Come to think of it, don't mention it to Dr. McCoy, either." Uhura shuddered dramatically.

"Oh, my word. The report missed that. You don't think Trelane will ever ... let it go, do you?"

"I wouldn't know. I avoid thinking about that possibility." Uhura answered firmly.

"Those blasted spores ... " Chapel picked up the old thread.

"Yeah ... 'Botany's Backlash on Horticulture Hobbyist'"

"Not the only time. Phyllos ... remember Phyllos? Nearly done in by a dandelion."

"Hey, you're right."

A brief silence descended while the women pondered the implications. "Hikaru's really unlucky," Chapel said at last.

"This doesn't make me want to go anywhere with him." Uhura admitted.

"I wonder why we hadn't noticed before."

"Beats me. Maybe because he doesn't complain?"

"Maybe ... he certainly wasn't a complainer when he was running around the ship with the PSI 2000 virus in his system."

"No, that he wasn't."

Another brief silence. Uhura chewed more flatbread. "Speaking of complaining, has Mister Irresistible been by lately?"

Chapel made a horrible face. "I'm sure that's what Thompson thinks of himself as ... me I'm not convinced."

"You and every other woman on the ship."

"Leonard swears the man must be a throwback to the genetic engineering of Khan's days."

"Wouldn't be surprised. He doesn't seem to think past certain points, if you know what I mean."

The Nurse reached up and touched her hair unconsciously. "Wish he didn't like blondes."

"You could dye it."

"Not just no, Nyota, but hell no."

"Well, excuse me."

"Sorry. It's just that ... ugh. I have a lot of reasons for being a yellowtop."

Uhura shrugged. "S'ok. Maybe when we get to Starbase 6, we can all go on leave and he'll find some houris-for-hire that can appreciate him."

"Or at least his pay voucher."

***

"Dammit, Scotty!" McCoy was shouting into the deskcomm as Chapel returned from lunch. "That's supposed to be sheet music for the Irish! DUBLIN'S CITY; DONEEN; DICEY REILLY; BHEIR ME O -- those are Irish tunes! Conceivably, we can permit Alloutte in honor of the French Occupation, but DU DU LEIGST MIR IM HERZEN has got to go!"

Chapel heard garbling from the other end of the line.

" -- And don't you even tell me BAA BAA BLACK SHEEP has a place in the progra--" McCoy hammered at the dead end. Plastic rattled in protest like mad piano keys. "Blast it." He snarled. "Engineers! I bet he's going to give me some bushwa about my volume shorting out the relays!"

Chapel blinked. "Don't look at me." She assured him. "I just work here."

"Glmphgrmphgmn." McCoy leaned his face in his hands. "I hate Irish Heritage Week. I'd get out of it if I could."

"Can't you?"

"Not with our hybrid Andorian performing the 'Green as Grass' jig while Theiobold Nakashima and Ming Leiffer play the band."

Chapel blinked, trying to picture that. "What a shame this is a free show. They could sell tickets to something like that."

McCoy chuckled wearily. "Talk about a show ... "

"Oh, no ... "

"Oh, yes. Prince Charming came by hoping to take you out for lunch."

"Did you tell him I was dead?"

"Now, Nurse, I wouldn't tell a lie. I said you were hip-deep in polycythemic influenza cultures."

"That's not a lie?"

"Not in a nonlinear sense ... that's what you're going to be doing this evening, right?"

"Drat," Chapel said.

"Drat?"

"Sorry. I've been around Nyota today. She has a way of soaking into my vocabulary."

McCoy pushed his chair back from the desk with one hand. "Well, confuzzles me why a nice girl like you would have a Rigellian Kalar chasin' her around."

"Maybe because I'm a nice girl," Chapel snarled.

"Now, that didn't sound nice at all."

"Ohhhh, I'm sorry, Leonard." Chapel plunked down in a chair, hands dangling. "I'm just so ... he doesn't take no, he doesn't listen, it's been two weeks! I've been out with him expressly in the hopes of boring him to death, but he's so busy talking about himself he doesn't notice I'm trying to give him a glowing lecture on the Dewey Decimal System!"

McCoy tried hard not to snicker. "Maybe you should complain about potential e-suit ruptures while working with hazardous bacteria."

"Maybe. Question is, would he listen to what I was saying?"

"Dear Lady, if you were trying to tell me the Dewey Decimal System, I'd run roughshod over you too. Forget boring; go all out for horror, disgust and repugnance. It might get positive results."

Christine thought about it. Leonard let her.

"Rigellian Kalar, huh?" Chapel said at last.

"There are similarities," he pointed out. "Big, lumbering, would look at home in poorly-tanned animal skins ... "

"What about the sharp canines?"

"Oh, he probably had to file them down to get into Starfleet." Dr. McCoy touched his own thoughtfully. "You 'bout ready for shore leave?"

"Who isn't?" Chapel shot back. "On the other hand, it's a small base."

"When have you ever gone on leave by yourself?" he wondered. "If you're worried about Apeface, beam down with Uhura or somebody ... "

"I'm not so sure that's a good idea." Chapel sighed. "Nyota's idea of a good time can only be called, 'retail therapy.'"

"Likes to shop, huh?"

"Aggressively. She'll talk anybody down out of anything."

"That's good, isn't it?"

"I'm not sure. Why don't you go down with her and see for yourself?"

"No, thanks. The one time I was in a social setting with our illustrious lieutenant, she made me drink millet beer. Why I didn't lose track of that week, I'll never know."

"Brain damage does that," Chapel agreed with a smile.

"It wasn't exactly brain damage, Nurse Knowitall. It was more like the death of inhibitions. You wouldn't believe some of the things I agreed to do."

"Well, I'm not asking., Chapel said firmly. "Because, no offense to you, you are not the kind of person of whom I ask about their day." Leonard's current obsession with Arctic bog swamp environments instantly came to mind.

"That's good to know," he answered gratefully. "Because it's hard enough justifying my existence to some certain senior officers."

"Just do me a favor." Chapel sighed as she picked up her Padd for the labwork. "When Native American Appreciation Day rolls around, scalp him."

"My tribe didn't scalp people. We just led the invaders into gator-infested swamps."

"Some help you are. I thought I was priceless to you."

Leonard made a face at the sally. "G'wan, get outta here."

* * *

Nyota buzzed her in the lab right in the middle of a sensory relay. Only with the dexterity born of long practice and a childhood of enforced piano lessons enabled her to flip the manual switch without missing a pass. She did wish she could put the switches on audiocommand, but that tended to cause problems with other, delicate instruments in the past.

"Christine," Nyota's warm voice rippled over the line like the harp she played. "I'm about ready to go down on shore leave. Want to come with me?"

Chapel eyeballed the half-full data synthecube in her hand. "I'm a little busy, Nyota. I wish I could, but time and instrumental diagnostics wait for no woman."

"Nor do perfect men." Nyota sighed. "Well, I'm going on down. You know how often I get leave!"

"This is very true." Chapel smiled around her discomfort of holding her sensorpad absolutely, perfectly level and stationary above the third spectrascope. "Where do you plan on going?"

"The usual. Everywhere. I'm thinking of inviting the gang down to the bar at midnight so we can drink and swap outrageous lies about our lives. Who do you think will win -- Leonard or Pavel?"

Christine froze, trying to visualize. "Oh, my word. Don't do it, Nyota. Leonard's won the Liar's Contest for Chufa Nut Corner, Georgia, four years in a row."

"But don't you think Pavel can give him a run for his money?"

"In a few years, perhaps. He needs to polish his technique. You can't just batter-ram your way through a lie. You need a realllly tall tale to back it up too."

"All Pavel has to do is prove George Washington was Russian."

"Are you trying to give me anxiety attacks?"

Nyota's response was suspiciously like an unladylike snigger. "If you miss it, its your own fault. I plan on bringing my tricorder along for posterity."

Chapel glanced at the chrono, judged it was a few hours till midnight anyway, and shook her head with a smile. "Thanks for the warning."

"Christine?"

"Yes?"

"What's a chufa nut?"

* * *

"Okay, here we go ... almost there ... "

"I'm not totally blind, Kwelli!"

"Sorry ... " (door opening, shutting)

"Ouch!"

"Sorry ... sorry ... "

"Can you say something else besides 'sorry'?"

"W-well, I can try ... "

"Nyota, where's the tric?"

"Oh ... "

"I'll get it, lass."

"Now what in the world?" Christine finally lifted her head up from the table, too intrigued to finish. Without a doubt, something was going on around here. She hurriedly wiped herself clean in the sterile beams and poked her head out the safety lock as soon as it cycled.

Chapel gasped. M'Benga was on one side, Sulu on the other, and in the middle was the CMO, head up but not much else. Chekov and Uhura brought up the rear, trying hard not to hover and just looking hapless as a result.

At her gasp, every single pair of eyes went to her. Chapel was dumbfounded at the expressions that followed.

"Oops," Uhura said under her breath.

"Oops?" Chapel repeated dumbly.

"Later ... later ... " M'Benga said through his teeth. "Hikaru, help me here ... "

Chapel regained her brain at this point and took over for the helmsman, aiding Leonard to the biotable. The readings started going off like fireworks.

"Is the K-3 graph supposed to do that?" Sulu wondered uneasily.

"Later, everybody ... " M'Benga actually barked this time. "Where did Mr. Scott go to?"

"He went to get the tape." Chekov told him. "For security purposes."

"Tape? That was on tape?" someone blurted.

"WHAT is GOING ON?" Chapel was ready to start screaming. "Leonard, you look like you tangled with a ... with something bigger than you!"

"Ahh, everybody out, please, details at 1100 ... " The AMO requested with strained civility. The bridge crew stampeded out, ensemble, leaving the domain to those who rightfully reigned.

"Ow." McCoy closed his eyes. One eye was developing a most annoying-looking bruise on the very outside edges. He made an attempt to sponge the blood off with his sleeve, and wound up wincing instead. One ear was clogged shut from a leaking scalp wound and both hands were swollen.

M'Benga shot a harried look at the monitors. "Damn, Leonard! Nurse, would you mind running to the shuttlebay? There's got to be some molecular-hull samples that'll match up what's on our CMO."

"Thanks a lot." McCoy grimaced. "You make me laugh with these ribs, Doctor M'Benga, and I'm changing your diet card to something unpleasant."

"Now that's what I call a threat." M'Benga shuddered. "Because I don't want to know if you can make the food any worse ... but I sure don't want the proof of that pudding."

"Points. Are. Deducted. For. Bad. Puns."

"Yssir." M'Benga shook his head. "Three cracked ribs. As to your head, it must feel pretty flat."

"What happened?" Chapel broke in.

Both men glanced at her with what she could swear was an expression of ... guilt.

"Accident," McCoy said.

"An accident?" Chapel repeated in disbelief.

"Yeah," M'Benga chimed in.

"What kind of accident?"

"A chair fell on him," M'Benga said quickly.

"A big one," McCoy added.

Chapel looked from one man to the other. One was pasty white, the other considerably darker, but both were suddenly sweating.

"A chair," she repeated. For some reason, she felt as though her IQ had dropped a few points. There was something she was missing.

"A big one," McCoy repeated.

"No doubt," Chapel agreed slowly. "Where?"

"Jesus God, Nurse! Just look at the bios!"

"Nooo, I mean, where were you when you got hit by this chair?"

"Oh." Leonard blinked. "Underneath it."

M'Benga shrugged helplessly as if to say, "what can we do with the guy?" Which only fueled the growing feeling of suspicion with Chapel.

What the devil? she wondered. This is all very wrong. Usually it's the captain in here, with Leonard and Mr. Spock holding him up -- Leonard yelling at him the whole time for being such a stupid Knight Err --

Chapel cleared her throat.

Leonard knew that particular sound. He opened his one good eye with the air of a man about to be shot.

"Doctor," Chapel spoke in a voice neutral enough to alarm any Vulcan who believed that humans were forever emotional ... " This chair that fell on you ... it didn't happen to belong to a ... Rigellian Kalar, did it?"

"Huh?" M'Benga blinked.

"M'sorry, Christine, but I'm having trouble remembering." Leonard said it so earnestly, he had to be lying.

"Actually, it kinda looked like a Ka--" M'Benga began.

" -- Doctor." Leonard attempted to cut in.

" -- just needed sharper canines--"

"DOCTOR," Leonard whispered.

M'Benga shut up.

Chapel sighed. "Doctor, I can help Dr. McCoy, if you'd like to do something else."

Very rarely did Chapel employ the fact that she was the most grossly overqualified Nurse in the Fleet, complete with her own doctorate. The AMO looked at Leonard, looked back at Chapel, and invoked the greater part of valor. Chapel fixed a gimlet gaze on her usually much-smarter boss.

"Leonard, just for the record, you're a very good liar. Honest people usually are; I think its because they expect to be credible." She snapped on the hemolyzer with a crisp SNAP. "So what happened?"

"Not much." Without any actual activity, Leonard managed to convey a shrug. "He was saying some things I took offense to, and I clobbered 'im."

"I hope it was worth it," Chapel said sourly. "I thought better of you."

"You did? Why?" Leonard blinked. "Hey, you got any analgesics?"

"What do you think this is, a Sickbay?" Chapel shook her head as she loaded, and emptied, a hypo. "And don't try to stall. I think even the captain knows to be suspicious when you ask for a painkiller. I know your pain threshold, mister. You could probably take out your own appendix."

"I like my appendix right where it is."

"You're stalling again."

"Drat."

"Drat? Isn't 'blast' your usual word?"

"Not when I'm around you and Nyota." He yelped as she stuck him, then sighed. "Whew."

"While I spray you up ... " Chapel patiently set up the battlefield that had once been a normal, functioning rib cage, "would you mind telling me what possessed you to take on that overgrown Eel-bird?"

He thought about it. "Well, no, actually."

"That's what I thought." Christine sighed, resigned. Some emotions must have leaked through her face because he was touching her wrist and looking guilty.

"Hey, don't feel bad. You won't be seeing him ever again. Jim ordered him off ship for his unprofessional conduct.."

"You're joking ... really?"

"Really. As soon as he gets out of the Base hospital, he's going to--"

"Gets out of the Base hospital??"

Leonard blinked. "Well, yeah. Did I say something wrong?"

"You won?" Chapel gaped.

"You don't have to sound so surprised." McCoy snapped testily. "Do I pale so against our captain?"

"No, not at all, Leonard, but -- Thompson fights dirty!"

"Noooo kidding." McCoy blinked, and looked a little astonished. "What the hell did you give me?"

"AnalOp2."

"You did WHA?"

"That's exactly what I was going to ask you. Now how'd you get the better of the human juggernaut?"

"Now look who's stalling!"

"I'm in charge here!" Chapel roared. "And if I don't like your answers, I'm going to send Mr. Spock down here to help me seal you up!"

"You wouldn't da -- I mean. I mean. I was just faster than he was, that's all. By the time he realized somebody was dumb enough to go against him, I had him right in the deltoid."

"That sounds about right." Chapel was rubbing her nose. "Ego vs. Intent. Yes. That's what I'd call it."

Leonard didn't have anything smart to say about that. The shot had put him to sleep.

Just as well ... Christine made a tsk'ing noise and sprayed on another layer of duraplast. It was already a little too thick for comfort, but after what she felt was an idiotic stunt ... he could damn well complain later. She might even pretend to listen to him.

A soft sound from behind revealed itself to be Mr. Spock, holding a neatly folded uniform in his hands and looking awkward.

"Thank you, Mr. Spock. I assume that's for Dr. McCoy?"

Spock nodded and searched, decided to put the clothing on the nearby table. "What is your diagnosis, Ms. Chapel?"

"Oh, he'll be fine tomorrow. Luckily for him, Thompson seemed to keep aiming for his head..." She stopped at Spock's expression. "Morbid humor," she explained. "I'm a little upset that he chose to defend my honor. It's not worth his getting bashed up."

"He would disagree, I believe," Spock said dryly. "Nor should his actions be wholly criticized. Mr. Thompson's demeanor was completely provocative and disrespectful."

Chapel paused. The soft hisss of the duraplast went silent under her fingers. "Are you defending him?"

Spock considered. "Is that what that sounded like?"

"Yes."

"I was merely stating that Mr. Thompson had gone beyond the ability to respect the simple words of a superior ranking officer. And in such cases, other means must be employed for discipline."

"So it was a good thing that Leonard traded blows with a man half again as strong, and three times less intelligent?"

Spock pondered again. "I would not have put it that way. But in a vaguely general way, you are correct." He lifted a puzzled eyebrow. "Not that it was a simple trade-off of physical strikes as you suggest. Dr. McCoy did say to Mr. Thompson that his scalp had been requested and he could either hold still for its removal, or risk a great deal of humiliation and extensive discomfort with resistance."

"He didn't use those words, did he?"

"No. I am using my words."

Chapel sat, brain-numb. "I can't believe he did that."

Spock blinked, and looked at the sleeping physician. "Why can you not?"

"Scalping isn't his style. Leading the invader into an alligator-infested swamp is."

Spock gave her a very long look indeed, before he politely bade good-bye and left. Chapel had the feeling he was shaking his head where no one could see it.

Well, back to my life, Chapel thought, and rose to her feet. Now come to think of it, where was I??? A faint tap at her wrist brought her gaze downward.

"Hey, don't go," he protested weakly. "I was just waking up."

Chapel sat down slowly. "If you're sure ... "

"Nurse, I'm not asking you what I want out of life. Never liked that phrase ... anyway, I got this great idea about those Taurean women, and I need you to draft it up for me."

"What great idea would that be?" Chapel wondered dubiously.

"One word. Begins with a C. Synonymn for 'macho'."

As Christine watched, Leonard succumbed to a fit of weak giggling.

"I think we'd better tone down the medication, Leonard."

"No, no, th'medication's fine, really." Leonard ruined his protest by snickering again. "Sorry. It's just that ... well, I can't do much but think right now. Honestly, I don't see how Spock can stand it. Always knew Vulcans had to develop denial as a survival instinct, but s--"

"Uh, what exactly is your idea about Theela and her women, Leonard?" Humor the drug-saturated patient. Always a useful skill. And now that he'd actually dropped the bait about those irritating women, she was mouthing the hook.

"They need a planet with lotsa big strong men, right? Men who can keep 'em in line, right? Know anybody who would fit the bill?"

"Leonard, if you don't stop laughing, you're going to overstress the cast and I'll have to sedate you."

"You c'n sedate me when the itchin' starts, okay?"

"It's a deal, but why don't you just spell out what would be the perfect solution for the Taureans?"

"Caaaaaaapellllllaaaaaaaa ... " McCoy drew the word out reverently, and not a little loopily. Despite his protests, the drugs were clearly frolicking through his system. Chapel had already decided Mr. Spock had better never know about this. His eyes were dilated black.

"Capella?"

"Capella IV. Where men wear pink ... and slice you up for saying anything about it."

"Capella IV." Chapel was suddenly worried about his level of rationality.

"Yyyyyep."

Chapel thought it over. "I thought you liked Capellans."

"I do, I do, some of my best friends are Capellans, hell, I've got a Capellan son, Christine. And do you know how hard it is to send alimony to a planet without a coinage system?" McCoy rolled his eyes. "D'you know the duty tax on metal ingots and bolts of cloth??"

"Actually ... no."

"It's awful. Just awful."

"I'll take your word for it.."

"Whaddaya think? Oil and vinegar?"

"My salad days, when I was green in judgment," Christine sighed. "Where's your LogPadd, Leonard?"



THE END

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