DISCLAIMER: The Star Trek characters are the property of Paramount Studios, Inc. The story contents are the creation and property of Kiristeen ke Alaya and is copyright (c) 2000 by Kiristeen ke Alaya. Rated PG.
Ghosts of the Mind
Kiristeen ke Alaya
Spock strode easily through the Enterprise corridor. He and the captain had just finished playing their nightly game of chess. It was part of a routine they had established over the years, and for Spock it ended with an hour's meditation in his quarters. It was the perfect combination to order his thoughts after a long and hectic day, and today certainly qualified.
While the day had indeed been long, it had been a fascinating one as well. They'd encountered a heretofore unknown phenomenon. Apparently it was a space/time anomaly, that as yet he'd been unable to fully classify. It had appeared suddenly, directly in their path, and they had passed through it before any actions could be taken. Unfortunately it had disappeared as quickly as it had appeared.
Thankfully the ship came through it completely undamaged. The ship's chronometers were only off the Federation time beacons by a mere 4 seconds. As time slips went, it was a relatively minor one. Passing 4 seconds into the future, while unsettling to the body's natural rhythms, was not something they needed to be overly concerned about. In fact, as far as anyone could tell, its effect in every respect had been minimal.
It was however, a puzzle, and one that he intended to investigate fully. Fortunately the sensors had recorded an extraordinary amount of information during the brief passage, most of it chaotic energy emissions that would take him days to sort through. It would, he thought, be an enjoyable diversion from their routine border patrol.
Spock slowed and turned. "Yes, Doctor?"
"The entire bridge crew has come in for examination following our little encounter, except you. I know you're off duty now, so come on."
"Doctor, I assure you, I am unaffected."
"So, you're a doctor now, are you?"
Spock sighed in weary resignation. "Of course not, Doctor, as you are well aware. I am, however, reasonably able to judge my own physical condition."
"Well, until--" McCoy's voice trailed off. It was obvious Spock wasn't listening to him. "Spock?"
"I'm sorry Doctor." Who had screamed? It was obvious the Doctor had not heard it. "I will come in before my duty shift in the morning. Will that be satisfactory?"
"Yes, I suppose it will," McCoy replied pensively. "Are you sure you're okay? You were very ... distracted there for a moment."
"Yes, Doctor, I assure you I am. I just thought I heard someone yell out."
"I didn't hear anything."
"My hearing is far more acute than yours, Doctor. There is nothing surprising in the fact that you did not hear what I barely did. Now, good evening, Doctor. I will meet you in the morning."
With that Spock turned and walked away from McCoy. He was still concerned that whoever had screamed was in some sort of trouble, but there was no way to check it out. He had not recognized the voice, nor could he even tell which direction it had originated from. Sighing internally, he realized it could have had many sources, and most of those were not indications of a problem. While the bulkheads were nearly sound proof, he still occasionally heard various odd noises, most of which were caused by activities he'd really rather not investigate at all, let alone closely enough to discover who had made them.
He entered his quarters slightly unsettled by it, though. He had the strangest feeling that he'd left something unfinished. It was a vague and intangible feeling, one he wasn't accustomed to experiencing. While preparing for his meditation he quickly ran through the duties he had performed through the course of the day and reviewed the mental notes he'd taken on various aspects of his activities. Nothing came to mind that would account for his odd sensation. Unable to resolve it to his satisfaction, he set it aside, in favor of beginning his meditation. Perhaps that would uncover the source of his inexplicable restlessness.
Twenty minutes later he was deep in the calming meditation, sorting through the day's events and his reactions to them. He was half way through the day, when he was startled by a female once again calling out. He stood quickly and went to his door.
The only person there was a crewman passing by, who was startled by Spock's sudden appearance in the corridor.
"Crewman, do you know the woman who was just standing here?"
His eyes widened. "I didn't see anyone, sir."
Spock suppressed the desire to reprimand the crewman for being unobservant. Obviously, whoever it had been, had bid a hasty retreat. However, he would recognize the voice if he heard it again. There were only 102 females on board the Enterprise. It shouldn't be too hard to find the perpetrator of this annoying prank.
"Thank you, crewman."
"Yes, sir." The relieved man left quickly.
He knew full well that on board the Enterprise the odds of a prank occurring at any given time were very high, but as both First Officer and a Vulcan, he had never been the brunt of them. He did not find it appropriate that he was now, but he'd heard it too clearly for it to have come from anywhere else, so that unappealing conclusion was the only one to which he could come.
Stepping back into his quarters, allowing the door to close, he decided he would file a report in the morning. That settled, he thought about returning to his meditation, but decided his time would be better spent preparing for bed.
By the time he pulled the covers over him and closed his eyes, he had dismissed the day's happenings as a side affect of choosing to serve among humans. Within moments he was sound asleep.
* * *
Spock's eyes flew open and astonishment flooded him during that brief moment of awakening, that someone would enter his quarters unbidden. "Who's there?" he called out, throwing back the covers and rising. He grabbed his robe as he flipped on his cabin's lights.
Striding into the front room, ready to rebuke whoever had disturbed his privacy, he stopped short. He was alone. Puzzled, he turned
back to his bedroom. Could he have been so soundly asleep that he hadn't heard anything until whoever it was had left? It had never
happened before. He usually
slept fairly lightly. Combine that with his acute sense of hearing, and it was difficult to catch him unawares.
He supposed it wasn't beyond the realm of possibility, however, as it had just happened. For the first time while serving on board the Enterprise, Spock activated his privacy lock before climbing back into bed.
He'd only been asleep for 3 minutes. He knew that the instant he woke up. He twisted and immediately flipped the lights back on, listening carefully as he did so. He could hear nothing. There were no sounds in his quarters except those coming from him.
Once again he rose, pulling on his robe as he moved. This had gone far enough. He sat down at his console, determined to get to the bottom of this prank. "Computer, play back 4 second voice patterns for each female crew member at 3 second intervals, with the exception of the following." Spock proceeded to list the 22 women whose voices he would have recognized instantly.
Nine minutes and twenty seconds later, the computer had run through every non-excepted female on board and Spock had not heard the whispered voice. Either his visitor was effectively disguising her voice, or... Why did it have to be female? If the voice was being disguised, it could be male. Spock began a new computer search.
After hearing all the male voices, he was no closer to discovering the identify of the prankster. He frowned. Obviously it was someone with significant computer knowledge, as it only occurred while he was in meditation or asleep. And they'd rigged into the communica... Spock rose suddenly and went to his door. It did not open.
So, it was still locked. Communications it was. That narrowed the list significantly. To his knowledge there were only 32 individuals on board who had the required level of expertise and clearance level to carry off this prank so far. He would bide his time, he decided. At the current level of escalation, the list of possibilities should grow shorter very quickly.
With that certainty in mind he headed back for bed, hopefully this time to get some sleep.
* * *
"Bridge to Captain Kirk." Kirk pulled himself out of sleep, grumbling. "Kirk here."
"Sir, we've received a distress call from Kreelosia. The new colony suffered crippling damage from an unexpected earthquake, and they are requesting emergency medical and technical assistance."
"Set a course for Kreelosia, Warp 8."
"Aye, sir. That course and speed have been laid in. Estimated time of arrival 6 hours and 52 minutes."
"Thank you, Lieutenant. Please notify Sickbay and Engineering to prepare landing teams, and notify Starfleet Command of our change in destination."
"Dr. McCoy and Cmdr. Scott have already begun preparations. I'll attend to Command right away, sir."
"Good. Kirk out." Everything taken care of, he could go back to sleep. The beginning of tomorrow's duty shift was soon enough to fill Spock in on this. After all that was only, he groaned, three hours away. If he got up now, all he could do was sit and wait anyway. Having assured himself that his presence was not required, he laughed to himself, more likely not wanted, at this point, he lay back down, and drifted back into a most wonderful dream.
* * *
Spock's eyes drifted open at his normal wake up time and for the first time was actually grateful the night was over. Whoever the perpetrator of this extended prank was, was in for a serious demotion, if not actual transfer off the Enterprise. The first couple of times he would simply have reprimanded the person. However, the longest stretch of time he'd been allowed to sleep had been 45 minutes.
He could go without sleep if there was a need. That was not the problem. The problem lay in the fact that it had not been needful. It was by some unknown person's capricious whims, and if this was the sort of practical joke they thought was ... funny, then they needed ... re-education in humor.
Even he, raised on Vulcan where humor didn't play a role, knew this had been carried beyond acceptable.
It didn't take him long to dress. It never did, and he just as efficiently dispensed with breakfast.
"McCoy to Spock."
"Spock here. What is it Doctor?"
"There is only 25 minutes before you are due on the Bridge. I expect you down here in Sickbay in 5 minutes, or I come looking. McCoy out."
Spock almost sighed. Visiting Sickbay for McCoy to poke and prod was not high on his list of preferable activities, especially after a nearly sleepless night. He slipped his used dishware into the recycler and reluctantly headed for Sickbay.
"Well, Spock, I didn't think I'd be saying this, but your readings are a little ... odd."
"Odd, Doctor? That is not a very precise term."
Dr. McCoy didn't rise to the bait this time. He didn't like what he was seeing. "Spock, you have three different neurotransmitters that are 50% above normal, and two others that are 36% below normal."
"What is the cause?"
"That's just it. I don't see one." McCoy scanned Spock again, finding nothing new. "I'm going to take several samples and send them to the lab for testing. You don't show any signs of either a viral or bacterial infection, so after we balance out those neurotransmitters, I'll let you go back to duty."
Spock watched with resignation, as McCoy took the samples he needed. "What will you be testing for Doctor?"
"Anything and everything that could cause the imbalances." McCoy turned away and called out. "Nurse Chapel."
"Yes, Doctor," she replied moments later, peering through the door.
"I need you to take these down to the med lab," he said and handed her the samples he had taken from Spock, and then pulled an information chip from the computer slot. "The tests I need you to run are listed here."
"Certainly, Doctor. I'll have the results as soon as possible."
"Thank you." McCoy said as he turned back to his patient. "Okay, Spock. The first thing I want you to do is try the va'nu-kali-ariv meditation."
Spock raised an eyebrow at McCoy's pronouncement. "You have been studying, Doctor."
McCoy smiled. "Yeah, I have. I figured I'd better. Since you dislike my 'noxious potions' so much, I've been learning about Vulcan techniques so we can try them first. Then, if that fails, you've got no grounds to complain about my medical practices."
"Thank you." McCoy grinned. "Now, I assume you know how to do this."
"You assume correctly," Spock replied drily.
"Good. You can begin anytime you're ready."
"Now, Doctor. There is not time. I am due on the Bridge in 5.7 minutes."
"Not until I release you, you're not. You start, and I'll notify the captain you'll be late."
Spock started to protest, then realizing it was a battle he wouldn't win, resigned himself to being late. He sat up and crossed his legs, assuming a meditation pose. In only moments the world around him faded in his perceptions as his attention was focused inward. He was still aware of it, but the sensory input he received from without was shuffled back to his subconscious mind, allowing his conscious mind to focus fully on that which lay within.
This time, he reached for the natural flows of his bodies rhythms. McCoy was right, there was imbalance here. He took time to watch the ebb and flow, to discern that which was not right.
"Spock, help me plea..."
Spock startled up and out of his meditative state suddenly and cast a quick glance around the long bay. McCoy was just entering the room, but no one else was there.
"Spock, why haven't you started yet?" McCoy demanded.
"I did, Doctor." Spock began.
"You weren't down long enough to do anything," McCoy said as he approached the bed Spock sat on, and began another scan.
"You are correct, Doctor." Spock wasn't sure if he should mention the woman's plea. He was coming to an unsettling conclusion that it might not be a prank after all. "I was ... distracted. I will start again."
"I don't know if that would be a good idea. The levels are off by another one half percent."
"Doctor, that could very easily be attributed to the passage of time."
"True," McCoy replied pensively. "All right, try again. This time, however, I'm going to monitor you during the process."
"Very well, Doctor," Spock replied then began the meditation process again.
McCoy stepped back out of Spock's personal space. In fact he stepped back to the doorway. He needed to be present for his own peace of mind, but he wanted to give Spock at least the illusion of privacy. He understood that meditation was somewhat personal and varied from one Vulcan to the next. He felt something of a voyeur as he watched Spock delve inside his own psyche.
He nearly jumped out of his skin as Spock launched himself off the biobed and looked quickly from one end of the room to the other.
"Damn! What is it, Spock?" Spock looked at him then and what McCoy saw startled him. He saw fear in his eyes. It was there only the briefest moment before Spock buried it and straightened with dignity.
Spock debated a moment before speaking. "Doctor, last night I thought I had become the brunt of someone's prank." He hesitated, this was even more difficult than he had imagined it would be. "The facts no longer fit that hypothesis."
"Spock," McCoy stepped forward and said quietly when Spock did not continue. "Start at the beginning and tell me everything that's happened."
Spock relaxed marginally. Why hadn't he realized that Dr. McCoy would set aside their philosophical differences when a true problem arose? He should have, he realized. McCoy, no matter what else he was, was a consummate professional.
He took a deep breath and told his story, starting with the very first incident, in the corridor with the doctor himself. As he continued with incident after incident, the doctor's only visible reaction was a slight widening of his eyes. Spock was gratified at his quiet reaction. "And then this last time, when you ... swore at me, She screamed at me."
McCoy was silent a few moments. "Well, whatever this is, it is definitely affecting you physically."
"What do you mean?"
"The imbalances," McCoy explained. "Now I'm not sure which came first. At this point there's no way to know for certain."
Spock stiffened. "Are you saying that you think I'm imagining things?"
McCoy heard the muted outrage in Spock's voice, but wasn't about to give in to it. "Spock, I'm not saying that at all. I am saying that it is one of many possibilities, but only one. We will explore every possibility. Without further empirical data, I cannot rule anything out."
As much as he did not want to admit that it was a possibility, Spock knew McCoy was right. "Logical," he admitted.
"First thing I'm going to medicinally correct the neurotransmitter levels. I don't think it would be wise to try any other way at them moment." McCoy then moved to do just that.
"Agreed." Spock had never before wanted to avoid meditation, but at the moment he wished to avoid it even more than...
"Doctor McCoy, I have those results you wanted." Christine Chapel said as she entered the diagnostic bay. "When the viral and bacterial screens came up negative, I took the liberty of conducting a few additional tests that might provide further information."
"Thank you. That'll be all for now. I'll call if I need you."
It looked like Christine was about to say something, then changed her mind. She turned and left them alone.
McCoy fed the chip Christine had given him into the computer and read the results carefully. She had been quite correct when she'd mentioned the negative status of both viral and bacterial compounds. "Well, I'll be."
"What is it Doctor?" Spock inquired, rising to join him.
"Is it possible that you're being contacted via telepathy?"
"It does not have the ... feel of telepathy. It is too..." And here Spock hesitated. He wasn't sure how to describe what he was experiencing. There wasn't a frame of reference to help him. "...vocal, for lack of a better word. Why do you ask?"
In answer McCoy stepped aside and indicated the test results displayed on the screen.
Spock raised a brow in puzzlement, but read what was indicated. It intrigued him. "What made Miss Chapel perform these tests?"
"I don't know Spock, but it looks like she's hit on something."
* * *
Don't meditate, he says, Spock thought to himself as strode to the Bridge. He was having some trouble coming to terms with the recent events that had cascaded around him. When the woman had first spoken to him in Sickbay, while he'd been in deep meditation, he'd instantly dismissed his thoughts of impossible. To him it was suddenly clear that whoever was responsible was indeed capable.
That had narrowed the list of people with the appropriate skills, considerably, to only 10 in fact. He could safely rule out 3 of those, leaving only 7 suspects. He'd thought that it wouldn't be long before he discovered the identity of the culprit.
Then McCoy had stayed for his next attempt at meditation. The woman had screamed her frustration at him then and he'd jumped off that bed looking like a frighten child! He was still disturbed by that scene. It reeked of loss of control. Even so, that had only served to deepen his determination.
It wasn't until McCoy had exploded with his startled epitaph, that he'd become concerned about himself. It was obvious he hadn't heard anything at all. The Woman's raving had been loud enough that he would have been able to hear them from outside of Sickbay and he wondered for a split second if he was losing his mind. He'd ruled that out almost immediately. Obviously there was something physically wrong with him.
Neurotransmitters affected, among other bodily functions, the brain. It was then he'd decided that McCoy needed to know everything that had transpired in the last 12 hours. It hadn't been easy admitting, to McCoy of all people, that his original assessment of the situation had been incorrect, and that he held onto that mistake for so long.
The turbolift opened onto the Bridge, and he relegated all such non duty related thoughts to the back of his mind. McCoy was doing what he could to figure this out. He on the other hand had to focus on Bridge duty. He crossed to his station.
Kirk rose from his command chair, speaking as he approached the science station. "We'll be arriving at Kreelosia in approximately 2 hours and 20 minutes. I'll need you to coordinate the medical and technical assistance teams. All the information we have has been downloaded to your station."
"Is everything all right?" Kirk asked quietly, now standing right next to his First Officer.
Spock turned to face him again, answering just as quietly. "Yes, Captain. The doctor insisted on an examination following yesterday's encounter. I believe all the Bridge crew was subjected to one."
Spock hoped the captain would not press further. He did not wish to discuss this on the Bridge.
Kirk nodded. He wasn't convinced that's all there was to it though. Spock would never have allowed McCoy to make him late for his shift unless it was something more than a "checkup". He let it go for now as he trusted that McCoy would not have released him to duty if it was anything he need be immediately concerned with. He moved away, allowing Spock to resume his task.
It was obvious the captain had not believe that was all there was to it, and Spock was relieved that he had not pursued it here and now. It was not something he wished to discuss, however quietly, on the Bridge. Captain, your Vulcan First Officer is losing his mind. Spock sighed silently and returned to work. Undoubtedly McCoy would figure out what the cause was, and he could return to his normal, rational, everyday routine.
With that in mind he immersed himself in the Kreelosia crisis. As he always did when concentrating on a problem, he shut out the inconsequentials around him, maintaining only enough of his attention on it that should something unexpected happen he could still respond to it instantly. It struck him that it was similar to what happened when...
Spock gasped as an incredible wave of ... fear, and ... frustration, cascaded over him and was just as quickly gone. With it came the wrenching pleas for help. Inexplicably, he was cold to the bone, as if the temperature on the Bridge had dropped a good thirty degrees. He stood and backed up a step.
"Spock, what's wrong?"
"I do not know, Captain," Spock replied softly, fighting a sudden bout of dizziness. He closed his eyes and fought down the wave of nausea that accompanied it. He stood quietly for several seconds. The dizzy spell passed and took with it the nausea. He felt Kirk's presence by his side and opened his eyes to look at his friend. "I think..." The cold returned. This time the intensity lasted. It didn't pass quickly, as before. He reclosed his eyes to shut out the look of concern on the captains face.
"Please help me! You're the only one I can talk to." He could hear tears in her voice. "I'm so alone."
Spock began shivering, the effects of the cold radiating around him, finally too much even for Vulcan control to suppress. Kirk's hand was on his arm then. It felt hot to the touch. That's not right, Spock thought to himself. His hand should feel cool.
He forced his eyes open despite his disorientation. "Captain, I believe I should go to Sickbay."
"NO! Please stay. Help me. I want to go home!"
Spock cringed at the forlorn words. He did wonder if this was perhaps some lost person communicating at a telepathic level. The problem was, it didn't feel like telepathy. He didn't hear it with his mind. He heard her with his ears.
"I'll go with you," Kirk said, using the hand on his arm to help steady him.
Spock took one step forward and collapsed. The previously silent Bridge crew gasped in astonishment. Spock was rarely ill, and for him to be affected so obviously, profoundly shocked them all.
Kirk caught the unconscious body of his First Officer and friend, worried sick about his welfare. "Kirk to Sickbay!"
"McCoy here. What is it Jim?"
"Get to the Bridge now! Spock's collapsed."
"Damn! I'm on my way."
* * *
McCoy sighed in frustration. This last check Spock's neurotransmitters had been off even further than last time, and he'd been suffering from first stage hypothermia to boot. He was at a loss to explain it. There was still no apparent cause for either one. And then there was that blasted voice he was hearing.
"What's wrong with him, Bones?"
"I don't know, Jim. His readings are all over the scale, he's..." McCoy stopped and thought about what he was going to say. "What did he tell you?"
Kirk looked at him in surprise. "Not much. There wasn't really time. It all happened rather quickly. I think he started to say something about it at one point but stopped in mid sentence. Why?"
"How did he get hypothermia on the Bridge?"
"I don't know, Bones. It wasn't any colder than normal." Kirk narrowed his eyes suspiciously. "What are you avoiding telling me?"
"I'm relieving him of duty until we can find out what's wrong. You'll need to find someone else to head the landing party in ... 15 minutes."
"Already done, Bones. What aren't you telling me? What is wrong with him?"
"I told you, I don't know."
"He's my friend, Bones. More than that, I've got the safety of the ship to think of, if there's..."
"You can stop right there, Jim." McCoy admonished. "If I thought the safety of the ship was any concern whatsoever, I would have already filled you in on the details. Since I've relieved him of duty, that is not a consideration. Now, Captain I have a patient to attend to, and you've got a landing party to prepare for."
"Jim, don't push it. I'm sure you've heard of the concept of doctor/patient confidentiality? Well it even applies to you, Captain."
Kirk sighed, realizing he didn't have time to argue about this anymore. With Spock and Bones temporarily out of the picture, he would be needed planetside. He turned and stormed out of Sickbay, anger written in every movement.
McCoy wished he could have told the Captain what was happening with Spock, but he needed Spock to trust him. If he violated his privacy by passing on the details, he was afraid he'd lose that trust. The fact that Spock would probably tell the Captain himself didn't mean a thing. That was Spock's right, not his.
"Christine!" McCoy hollered, perhaps a little louder than was absolutely necessary, but he hated the position he was in.
"I'm going to go run some tests. I need you to monitor Spock's condition."
"Certainly, just let me get what I was working on, and I'll be right in."
"Make it quick."
Christine ignored the bite in McCoy's voice. She knew it wasn't directed at her. He tended to get that way when he was worried about a friend. If she was truthful, she was worried too. As head nurse, she needed access to all the patient's records, and what she'd seen concerned her greatly. Actually it scared her silly.
If it was anyone but Spock, she'd have thought they were hallucinating. The fact that it was Spock may not rule out that possibility, but it certainly made it unlikely. So what was going on? She didn't know, but that's what she was going to find out! She quickly gathered the materials she needed and hurried to where Doctor McCoy was waiting with Spock.
"I'll be in the med lab."
"Yes, Doctor," she replied as he turned on his heel and left her there.
With a determined breath, she cast a quick glance at the sleeping Vulcan, then set to work. Something about that particular set of neurotransmitters struck a spark deep in her mind. She simply couldn't quite recall what it was. It wasn't in the Federation Medical database, not in this combination anyway.
She leaned back, stretching the muscles in her back. She'd already spent several hours bent over a computer, and it was beginning to strain her back. She wasn't quite as young as she used to be. "So, if I didn't read it in medical journals, what was I recently..."
"I can't ... don't know how."
Christine jumped at the mumbled words from Spock. With the sedative Dr. McCoy had given him, he shouldn't be awake yet. She rose and went to his side. That's odd, she thought. He's still asleep. She frowned, watching him a moment, then turned away.
"What do ... want?"
She twisted in time to see him mutter the last word. She stayed where she was and waited.
"Where ... home?"
It was odd listening to a one sided conversation from him. She back away, never taking her eyes off him. Activating the comm panel, she contacted McCoy.
"Yes, what is it?"
"Spock appears to be dreaming."
"Dreaming?" She could hear the incredulity in his voice. "Nurse, Vulcans don't dream."
"I am aware of that, Doctor, however, Spock is talking in his sleep." A moment of silence greeted her statement.
"I'll be right there. Wake him up."
It didn't take her long to prepare the appropriate stimulant to counteract the sedative Dr. McCoy had given him.
She quickly applied the hypo.
Spock's eyes snapped open. Gasping, he surprised her by grabbing her arm. She quickly doused her surprise and thought calm rational thoughts. She watched as he took deep calming breaths. When he'd regained control he seemed to realize he was holding her arm and snatched his hand back.
"I'm sorry, Miss Chapel."
"That's quite alright Mr. Spock. Dr. McCoy is on his way. Do you remember what you were dreaming about?" she asked as she began the scans she knew McCoy would want.
"Miss Chapel, Vulcans do not dream."
Christine experienced a sense of déjà vu. Hadn't she just had this conversation? "I am aware of that, Mr. Spock, but what else would you call it? You were talking in your sleep."
Spock looked down uncomfortably. "I do not know what it was, only what it was not."
"Okay, what's going on here?" McCoy demanded as he rushed into the room.
"Mr. Spock was just telling me he wasn't dreaming. He doesn't know what he was doing, but he wasn't dreaming." Christine couldn't quite keep just the slightest touch of sarcasm out of her voice. Spock gave her a pained looked.
McCoy bit his lip in order not to comment. That was the first time he'd ever heard Christine smart back to Spock. It was about time as far as he was concerned. "Okay, let's once again take this from the beginning," he said instead, using his best professional voice.
"This time when ... contact was made, I couldn't wake up." A small shudder traveled the length of his body before he was able to stop it. That had not been a comfortable realization. "It began as it always does with a plea for help. I turned around and there was this young Vulcan female. She spoke an odd form of Vulcan. I had trouble understanding her at first. I do not know why, but I continued to speak to her in Standard. She did seem to understand me well enough. She appeared to be roughly the equivalent of a human at age 16..."
* * *
"Help me please. Do not shut thy mind to me."
"I cannot help you. I do not know how."
"Thee art the only one who can help me." She couldn't stop the flow of tears down her cheeks. She sensed this bothered the one she communicated with, but she couldn't figure why. It wasn't the usual reason was all she could tell. His mind was extraordinarily disciplined.
"What do you want?"
"I want to go home! I am so alone here."
Spock winced at the pain in her voice. He knew what it was to walk alone. How much more painful for someone who couldn't talk to anyone at all? "Where is you're home?"
"I am from the Rhinnusto Province of Shikarr."
"I do not understand. Shikarr is on Vulcan but I've never heard of the Rhinnusto Province." Spock was beginning to have an impossible suspicion. But it wouldn't be the first time it had happened. But why would this time the person appear in this ... ghostly form? That was still something he did not understand.
"But that cannot be. The Rhinnusto Province is one of the largest on Vulcan. Anyone who knows of Shikarr would know of Rhinnusto." She took a step toward him. "Please toy with me not. You needs must help me get home. My family is in danger!"
"What do you remember last before coming here?" Spock couldn't quite believe he was talking rationally with what he had to admit was probably an hallucination, brought on by a chemical imbalance in his brain.
"The ship my family and I were on was being attacked by alien invaders. I blacked out, and then woke up here, where no one could see me!"
"What is your name?" Spock asked. Hopefully that could give him some clue as to where she truly belonged.
"How?" Spock asked in surprise, then watched as she faded from view.
"Nooooooo!" she screamed.
* * *
"And that is where, Nurse Chapel woke me with the hypo. The name she gave me is not Vulcan in origin, though she claims to be from there. It has more the ring of Romulan."
"That's strange." Christine said. "I was just thinking how much it sounded like Anastasia."
"A Russian name."
"Yes, Mr. Spock," she answered quietly. Something was naggingly familiar. "That's it!" she exclaimed and whirled around and dashed to the computer.
"Computer, display Chapel text 46 Alpha, pre-reform Vulcan literature and lore."
Spock's eyebrow shot to his hairline. That was heavy reading. The Vulcan council had not allowed any of the pre-reform literature be published in translated form. He moved to observe the information she had called up. "I did not know you could read Vulcan, Miss Chapel."
"I don't read it very well." She laughed, absently. She was busy scanning the text for the information she wanted. "I'm only at an early primary school level."
"That text is decidedly not primary school level."
Distracted by his observation, Christine glanced up at him, before answering. "I was referring to what I could read with reasonable fluency. I've had to translate most of this before I could understand even part of it." She waved toward the display screen. "Most of it doesn't translate well, and I suspect I'm missing quite a bit of context."
She returned to scanning the text. She did so manually. She didn't want to try reading Vulcan and speaking Standard and she knew the computer wouldn't recognize her attempts at speaking Vulcan. She would cheerfully admit she butchered the language.
Spock watched her scan the text with what he considered remarkable speed. He could have read it more quickly, of course, but for someone who professed to only a child's level of knowledge, he suspected she was understating her proficiency somewhat.
"There it is. I don't understand most of this, as I think it deals a lot with mysticism, but..." She pointed out the words she was referring to. "These words here are references to the neurotransmitters that are being affected in you." She moved to the side to allow him access. "If you could perhaps translate the rest of this?"
"Fascinating." Spock murmured as he finished reading the appropriate passages. "This information comes from a tome of significant age. It actually survived intact from before the time of Reformation. Ordinarily, I would give little credits to the veracity of what it contains, except as a reference to the society of the time." Spock turned the chair to face the two waiting humans.
"You were correct, Christine. It does deal with mysticism. It refers to unbound Katra, or souls, and the rituals used to bind them back where they belong. According to this, that is Shak-a- Ree. Modern Vulcan uses similar rituals in different ways. They are similar enough that it lends credence to the text."
"What rituals are those?" McCoy asked.
"Death rituals, Doctor."
Christine winced just a little. They were straying onto topics not usually shared with non-Vulcans. Unfortunately, if this was the answer, they needed more information. "The forms and techniques used in both instances, while differing in some rather important details, both in essence 'capture' that which is not of the body. The end results for the two are very different."
McCoy stood listening to the two of them debate Vulcan mysticism and was lost. He'd never studied much about Vulcan, preferring concrete subjects. He'd just recently began studying Vulcan medicinal techniques, and this 'witchy' stuff, he just wasn't able to follow. He had to admit though, that his lack of interest probably had as much to do with that as anything.
Since the two of them seemed quite able to carry out this conversation by themselves, he waited and watched. He would make sure Spock was all right physically, while they tried to figure out if he was all right mentally. He wasn't a psychologist after all, especially not when it came to Vulcans.
"Although I know only the basics of what goes on during the final rituals in Mt. Seleya, what I do know would be difficult to explain, even were I at liberty to do so. Keeping that in mind, it seems to me that the forms described here would have the opposite of the intended effect."
"You think they would actually destroy a soul. Is that truly possible?"
"The answer is the same to both questions. I do not know for certainty, but it does seem the likely outcome."
Christine turned back to the screen. "Here, what does this mean?"
The two of them discussed and debated the meaning for long moments, while McCoy decided Spock was fine for now, and went to check the status of the planet side medical teams. He trusted Christine to notify him if the situation here changed. "But, unless I'm still missing something fundamental, it seems to me it wouldn't destroy, but would lock it away."
Spock looked at her with something that she thought might have been respect. It faded quickly, and he looked back to the text. Long moments later, he turned back to her. "You might be right," Spock said very quietly. "But to bind a soul like that for eternity, that's..."
"Barbaric," Christine supplied when Spock trailed off. "Madness would be the end result." She shuddered.
"Indeed." Spock visibly swallowed at the thought.
"The question remains, how would this apply to our ghost?" Christine said absently.
Spock turned to her in genuine surprise. "You believe so easily that this is real?"
"Of course I believe you." Christine blinked. "Why shouldn't I?"
"Ghosts do not exist."
Christine laughed. "Well, either I believe in ghosts, or I believe you're crazy. Personally, I think the former has a better chance of being true than the latter."
Spock started to respond, but found himself without a legitimate reply. Who was he to argue in favor of his having become mentally unstable?
Christine saw his predicament. He couldn't logically argue against the existence of ghosts without calling his own sanity into question. It couldn't be a comfortable position to be in. "One, I believe souls exist. Do you?"
"While I do not subscribe to the human vision of it, I do believe there is that which survives the body's death."
"Close enough. You said Vulcans called it the katra?"
"That is correct."
"Okay, two, what happens to the katra after the body dies?"
"It is taken to the Hall of Souls in Mt Seleya."
That surprised her and she knew it showed. "How?"
Spock hesitated before answering, then a human phrase surfaced. 'In for a penny, in for a pound.' "It is carried in the mind of the one to whom it was given, or who retrieved it from it's 'owner' just before death."
"Fascinating." Christine responded. She started to ask more, then shook herself out of it. She did hope, however, that a more appropriate time would arise that she could question him further about it. Instead, she continued her analysis. "So now we've established that you do indeed believe in the existence of a soul, that in fact, it is a quantifiable thing. You can be given it, take it, and leave it. Does it not stand to reason that it could also be lost?"
"A very logical progression, Miss Chapel. It does indeed, stand to reason. However, we still have one problem."
"Oh, what's that?"
"We have yet to establish that S'ana'sasia is in fact a 'ghost'."
He was right. She could still be any number of things, even if the facts fit so far, they didn't exactly rule out anything else either. "You do have a point there. So how do we prove, or disprove her ... ghostliness."
"I have to talk to her again."
"I don't know if that's such a good idea. Every time she contacts you, you suffer for it."
"I believe a contact of limited duration, should produce relatively minor side effects."
Christine rose. "I'm going to contact Dr. McCoy first."
Spock started to protest that it was not necessary, but realized that she too had rules to follow.
* * *
"He wants to what?" McCoy demanded over the comm.
"You heard me, Doctor," Christine answered with a laugh. She could hear McCoy sigh.
"Do you think it's necessary?"
Christine caught Spock's sudden movement out of the corner of her eye and answered very carefully. "I don't like it, but yes, I agree it's necessary."
"Very well, I'll be up in a couple of minutes."
"That will not be necessary Doctor. The people of Kreelosia need your expertise. Nurse Chapel is quite capable of monitoring the situation."
Christine hid a smile.
"All right, Spock. Nurse Chapel, double check his neurotransmitters before he begins, and monitor them closely. Adjust as necessary. Before I beamed down I left standing, PRN orders in the medical logs for the appropriate meds. Notify me immediately if anything, and I do mean anything, untoward happens."
As soon as the connection was severed, Christine busied herself preparing, in advance, everything she might need. She already knew which meds to set up, but checked the logs more to follow protocol than anything. She was right.
She walked over to Spock who was already sitting on the biobed, with his legs crossed. He looked up as she reentered the room.
"You ready?" Christine asked as she began scanning.
"I won't be able to leave. Considering what happened last time, I'll have to stay right here."
"Understood, Nurse Chapel," Spock replied with ease.
Christine modified the first hypo to compensate for the readings she'd taken and injected it into Spock's arm. Then she stepped back and nodded once.
She alternated between watching Spock and watching the readings she was receiving from the med scanner. She watched the readouts in fascination as he sank further into meditation. His breathing, and then his heart rate slowed, as well as his overall metabolism. So far so good, she thought, then twitched in surprise as the readings began to jump around frenetically. The variations were small, nothing to be overly concerned about, but were changing almost too swiftly to follow.
She moved closer to him in case that changed. His neurotransmitter level was already off by an average 2%, it seemed to her that contact had been made. Credible evidence that the 'visitation' was causing the imbalance, and not the other way around.
* * *
She was angry, he could see that immediately. However, he was at a loss, as to what had caused her anger. "I need to ask you a couple of questions."
"Whatever would make you think I'm dead?" S'ana'sasia demanded angrily, this time using standard. "Incorporeal certainly, but don't you think it's a little far fetched that I'm a ... GHOST?"
Spock sighed. He didn't know if he had time for this. There was no telling how soon Nurse Chapel would have to pull him out. "That is only one scenario." He tried to pacify her. "I..."
"Yeah, I heard your scenarios. Either I'm a ghost or you're crazy. I take exception to either theory. I was very much alive when I was yanked here, thank you very much!"
She certainly didn't act very Vulcan. "That's part of what I wanted to speak to you about, and I may be short on time. This ... communication, is harmful to me."
S'ana'sasia calmed immediately. It was far more important to her to get home than to remonstrate this person for unintended insults. "Go ahead, ask your questions."
"Just before I began hearing you, we encountered a space/time anomaly, was there anything like that from you're side?"
She shrugged. "I do not know. I was hiding in my cabin at the time."
Okay, he had to try a different method. Her mannerisms and earlier speech patterns, triggered an idea. "Who is Surak?"
She frowned, then shrugged once again. "I've never heard of him."
While he'd suspected it, he hadn't expected the effect it had on him. The woman-child standing before him had never had the benefits of the male that all of modern Vulcan considered the father of all they had become, yet she had been raised on Vulcan.
He nodded slowly, that fit with his growing theory. "So I imagine..."
"Wait, wasn't he the leader of the reformation attempt?" Attempt? Spock found he couldn't speak for a moment. His theory had just been shattered, but another immediately began to form. "We may have a problem here. I no longer believe you are from the past, but rather from..."
"Well, I could have told you that. Everything here is so ... so primitive."
Spock took a deep breath and reminded himself that not only was she very young, she hadn't the benefits of Surak's teachings. "That would have been beneficial to know sooner."
"Sorry, I didn't think of it."
Spock suppressed a second sigh. Castigating her wouldn't do any good. She began to fade and he fought to stay in a meditative state. He could hear Nurse Chapel calling to him. He was gratified she had whispered. If she'd spoken much louder, he would have automatically withdrawn from meditation.
"I am running out of time. Perhaps we can do this differently. If you would permit a meld?"
* * *
Christine stepped closer. The levels of the affected neurotransmitters were beginning to fall more rapidly. She adjusted another hypo and administered it to Spock. Since he had known in advance that she would be doing so, she hoped she was doing it in such a way that it wouldn't pull him out. She sighed. The problem was, the longer he remained in contact, the shorter the intervals between injections became.
It appeared the effect was cumulative, and she was getting worried that if he stayed much longer a precipitous drop or elevation might occur. She watched and waited through another three injections, then hoped he'd gotten what he needed, because it was time to pull him out. The injections were almost on top of each other now.
"Spock, you need to stop now." She saw him stiffen and knew he'd heard her, but after several seconds passed, it became obvious he wasn't going to comply. She frowned at him. She should have realized he'd be stubborn about this. Debating internally for just a moment, she reached out. "Spock?" Before her hand reached him, he gasped. A quick glance back to his readings showed a sharp decline. She barely managed to turn back and grab hold of him as he collapsed and prevent him from sliding off the edge of the bed.
Laying him down, she quickly assessed his erratic readings. They'd gone haywire. Just as she'd feared, they'd taken a dramatic jump. She quickly prepared and injected him with the appropriate meds. When she was assured of his current stability, she quickly contacted Dr. McCoy, returning to monitor Spock as soon as the connection was severed. By the time she returned, he was beginning to come around.
When she reached his bedside, he was slowly sitting up. "What happened?"
"One moment please," Spock answered.
She nodded and returned her attention to his rising bio-signs. When they stabilized she turned back to him, her unanswered question still in her look. "So are you ready to tell me what happened?"
"She was ... unable to give me the information I needed. When you informed me that I had to sever contact, I requested a mind meld..."
"You WHAT?" McCoy demanded from the doorway, then strode to join them.
Christine jumped. She hadn't realized he'd gotten back yet.
"Why do you insist on asking questions you already know the answer to?"
"You're not going to side track me this time, Spock. Are you out of your blasted Vulcan mind? Why not just stick your hand in plasma fire while you're at it."
"That would not be logical."
"Neither was mind melding with this ... person. Just talking to her harmed you, what did you expect from more direct contact?"
"It was necessary, Doctor," Spock informed him, then turned to Christine. "Your theory proved correct. She was, indeed, disconnected katra."
"Was?" McCoy frowned.
"Yes. When I initiated the mind meld, it was unlike my previous experiences. I am still sorting out the information I received in the first instant."
"And that caused your collapse?"
"No, Nurse Chapel. That occurred when the illusion shattered."
"Illusion? I thought you said..."
"The illusion was not her presence, but rather the ... setting in which we were communicating. She is not a ... ghost. I carry her katra." McCoy wasn't sure he believed all this, but just had to ask. "But how did you get it?"
"From the information I received from her, I have deduced that it is related to the space/time anomaly. It would have had to appear at the moment of her death. This could account for some of the odd variations in it that I have been unable to identify."
"So, how do we help the two of you?" Christine asked, unable to take her eyes off him.
"That will be difficult. If she were merely from a distant time it wouldn't be, but she doesn't belong in this timeline."
Christine and McCoy stood silently digesting that incredible revelation. That was a problem.
"Doctor, I will need to take leave and return to Vulcan. Perhaps there, the healers will be able to help her."
"What about you, Mr. Spock?"
He looked down before answering. "The removal of the katra will return me to fitness. That will not return her where she belongs, however."
"I'll talk to the Captain about arranging medical leave, Spock," McCoy said, before leaving.
After Spock was sure McCoy had left, he faced Miss Chapel. "She comes from a timeline where Surak failed in his quest for peace and logic. The split that followed the reformation on my world, never occurred on hers. Needless to say, she had a very ... different outlook. Because of the meld, I know what she knew, and I must say it has given me a lot to think about. It has always been believed that Vulcans would not have survived if not for Surak's wisdom. I now have proof that is not necessarily true. Her people found a way to survive the devastating wars. Not only that, they thrived. They achieved space travel, albeit about 3 generations later than we did."
"Life finds a way."
Spock stood and walked toward the exit, but turned before reaching it, his eyes revealing more speculation to the observant nurse than he realized. "I want to thank you for your assistance ... and your belief in this matter, Christine. I ... appreciate it."
Spock was through the doors before she had time to form a reply.