DISCLAIMER: The Star Trek characters are the property of Paramount Studios, Inc. The story contents are the creation and property of Jacqueline Bielowicz and is copyright (c) 1976 by Jacqueline Bielowicz. This story is Rated PG. It was originally published in Metamorphosis #2.
or, The Mad Tea Party of ?
Jacqueline A. Bielowicz
The father sat quietly watching his child play in the yard with the human child. How much more contented the child seemed but so different from other Vulcan children. He turned to look at his two human friends seated across the room. The woman was a plump matron who had treated both children, his and hers, with equal ease and love. It was she who had handled the temper tantrums and the black nightmares of his brain damaged child. No Vulcan child should ever react so ... so emotionally to a mother's death. Now even the Vulcan psychologists said that his child would never be able to grow up as a normal Vulcan. What could he do?
"It is a large responsibility I leave you," he said to the woman.
She smiled. "Loving children is not that hard." The smile faded as she gravely asked, "You understand that you are leaving us a Vulcan but you will be getting back a human? I raise children with emotion, not logic."
"I understand, but I have no other logical choice. My child will never fit into the Vulcan society. Yours is the best alternative."
Contented, she settled back in her chair.
* * *
The Enterprise was in a standard orbit over Starbase 6. It was a routine visit for resupplying, limited shore leave, and to pick up new personnel. This time there were three new crewmembers; two Vulcans and a Canadian. They dutifully gave their orders to the Officer of the Day and were assigned quarters.
There was a young Vulcan doctor, Lt. Suren. Dr. McCoy said sarcastically to Captain Kirk, "Now I'll get a chance to study that superior medicine Spock is always telling me Vulcan has. I hope I can bear the strain of the honor."
The Canadian, Lt. Frank Kramer, was in Communications. Uhura was satisfied with his qualifications, but very dissatisfied with his male chauvinist attitude and his extremely bad jokes. Lt. Kramer's roommate was even less satisfied with the practical jokes that Kramer was prone to and already trying to find a "worst enemy" with whom he could switch quarters.
The luckiest department seemed to be engineering. The new engineer was young and pretty. Of course, the fact that she was Vulcan was a bit discouraging, but Scotty was content to just look. That Lt. T'Prai was also a minor genius at engineering added a stamp of approval in Scotty's mind.
The Enterprise continued her normal routine. At the end of five ship days, Lt. Fleming, Kramer's roommate, was offering thirty credits to anyone, male or female, who would change quarters with him. He had even had a serious talk with the quartermaster about the possibility of being allowed to bunk in the shuttlecraft. McCoy, on the other hand, was finding that Dr. Suren wasn't nearly as hard to get along with as Spock. True, Suren was logical and sometimes asked uncomfortable questions, but an the whole, Suren had a great deal more respect for human medicine than Spock. Though when McCoy pointed out to Spock that Doctor Suren showed a proper respect for human medicine, Spock drily replied that Suren simply had respect for his elders. That statement certainly didn't do much for McCoy's vanity, medical or personal.
Scotty continued to be fully satisfied with his addition, especially since she herself handled the problem of gawking engineering crewmen. It didn't take her long to convince the entire department that she was not interested in male companionship and that their illogical behavior was affecting the efficiency of the entire department. Someday she would make a fine Chief Engineer and Scotty privately considered her a prodigy. When Uhura remarked to a full rec room that if Lt. T'Prai kept humming while she worked they might make a human of her yet, Scotty took up mock battle and ordered that no one was to do a single thing that might change the best engineer trainee he had ever had under him.
By the seventh day out of Starbase 6, Uhura had added fifty credits to Fleming's standing offer of fifty credits to anyone who would throttle Lt. Kramer, no questions asked. She stormed into rec room 4 for lunch after a particularly trying session with Kramer, and blindly ordered an appetizing lunch of borscht, artificial guacamole salad and water.
Slamming her tray on the table next to Sulu's, she uttered a few pungent words in Swahili and then stated, "Either that man goes or I desert! If he tells me one more time that women can't be expected to keep up on new techniques because they are too busy reading fashion news, I will strangle the man myself and collect the reward."
Sulu, however, wasn't listening. He was more interested in the small aquatic creature contentedly swimming around in Uhura's glass.
"Who's your small friend?" he asked calmly.
Stunned, she looked into her glass and then at the dispenser. Sulu got up and ordered a glass of water. He was more fortunate than Uhura. He got not only an aquatic creature but also a pretty piece of seaweed. Sulu looked at Uhura blankly for a moment, jiggled his head as if it might improve his vision, and when the contents of the glass remained the same, walked over to the intercom.
"Damage Control, this is Lt. Sulu in rec room 4. There's something wrong with the water dispenser up here."
"We know," a voice came back. "There's something wrong with the entire water system. Damage Control out."
Meanwhile, Mr. Scott and Lt. T'Prai were checking out the entire water system. Captain Kirk and Spock came sprinting in the door.
"Scotty, what's going on?" Kirk asked, looking bewildered.
"I don't know all of it yet, Captain, but the water has had same beasties poured into it, and the filter systems are inoperable."
"Sir," Lt. T'Prai broke in, "I found this attached to the filter controls."
She handed Kirk a folded piece of paper. Kirk opened it and with Scott looking over his shoulder, read:
"Your water has been contaminated by a bacteriological agent and your entire crew is dead." It was signed, "The Saboteur."
Kirk handed the note to Spock. "How long will it take to clear up the water, Scotty?"
"Not long, Captain. The animals are a fresh-water species, and it's simply a matter of removing them. The water itself is all right. We'll be back to normal in about two hours."
Kirk strode over to the intercom and announced that water was not to be used for the next two hours. Then he stalked out, motioning to Spock, and they headed back to the bridge.
"What do you make of this, Spock?"
"Insufficient data, Captain," Spock said thoughtfully. "The note was written in block letters. There is nothing unusual about the paper except that it appears to be some type of art paper."
"What about the writer?" Kirk asked sharply.
"Unknown. It could be a practical joker or a psychopath. I simply do not have enough data."
"Well, let's find some facts, Mr. Spock!"
In one hour and thirty-eight minutes, the water systems were cleared, but the Captain was no closer to an identity than before. The only new fact seemed to be that the saboteur knew what he was doing.
At 0900 the following morning, Dr. McCoy arrived at a sickbay already filled with crew, while more were lined up in the corridor outside. All of them had orders to report to sickbay for physicals, none of which were due. While McCoy was trying to sort out what was going on, three airtight locks temporarily sealed crewmembers on decks 4, 7 and 9. On the bridge, Captain Kirk ordered a yellow alert while the computer solemnly announced that on orders of "Captain Saboteur", the crew would now join in on four choruses of a very popular but slightly naughty bar ditty. For ten minutes, mass confusion reigned, but Spock finally got the seemingly mad computer under control, Scott and his Damage Control team got the three doors open, and McCoy got his sickbay emptied. Kirk, holding his temper by its ragged edges, called for an immediate meeting of all department chiefs.
One half-hour later, the briefing room held a council of war, but no one knew who the enemy was. McCoy reported first.
"Our computer sent the orders out last night, but I don't know when exactly. The only common factor linking everyone was that they were close enough to their regular physical time not to question the orders. I found this note on my biocomp: 'Doctor McCoy: I have ordered immunizations of trillizine for all the crew called in today. Now half the crew is immobilized.'
"The worst thing, Jim, is that the orders for the trillizine were in my name, and they would never have been questioned. The trillizine wouldn't have hurt the crew, but they would have been immobilized for a couple of days from the side effects."
"Any ideas who could do all this, Bones?" inquired Kirk.
"Any of my medical staff or anyone who knows a little medicine and a lot of computer."
"What do you have, Spock?"
"The main computer was fed extra programming to implement the present one. There was also a note stating that the program could have just as easily been erased. Whoever did it would not have to be familiar with computers, just provided with a prepared program change."
"Your report, Mr. Scott." Kirk was growing more unhappy every minute. Someone was using his ship like a big toy and he didn't like it one bit.
"Jamming the doors was mostly an inconvenience," Scott said. "Crew trying to get to their duty stations during the yellow alert crowded the unjammed doors. Someone sprained his wrist falling from one of the emergency ladders. The doors themselves are undamaged, and there was also the usual note."
"Spock, do you have enough facts yet to make an identification?" Kirk asked.
'No, Captain, the actions are too random."
"Well, gentlemen, I want a complete security check on all levels. I want no more sabotage or tricks or whatever the hell it is. Bones, I want you to run psych profile tests on everyone. Spock, I want you to run all known facts through the computer to see if we might get an idea where our practical joker will turn up next. Security, I want guards stationed at all vital controls and accesses. That will be all for now."
As everyone moved to the door, Kirk called plaintively to McCoy, "Oh, Bones, while you're at it, I need a couple aspirin. I have a feeling this is going to be a long day."
McCoy grinned, "I'll send them right up to the bridge, Jim."
By midday, the rumors were flying thick and fast. By now the quantity of saboteur's notes amounted to the Great Federation Novel. The crew checked areas that hadn't seen the light of day in months. Everyone was speculating as to the identity of the Saboteur, but none more seriously than Uhura and Fleming. They were watching Kramer like a pair of embattled hawks. Kramer, on the other hand, was telling everyone within hearing that he thought it was a terrific joke. At least, until he caught the Captain's baleful eye on him.
McCoy, M'Benga, and Suren were working non-stop on psych profiles. It was a slow, tedious job and worst of all, they were getting no leads on the Saboteur. Kirk came in for a report and two more headache pills. He, Scotty, and the bridge crew had just spent a hectic hour getting one of the shuttlecraft back. The shuttle had decided to take a trip, by itself, and with the Saboteur's best regards. At least, that's what the note left on the damaged tractor controls said.
"Bones, can't you speed this up any?" Kirk asked irritably.
"No, Jim, I can't. Not and give you accurate reports. I did turn up something interesting though. Our new communications officer, Lt. Kramer, is a chronic practical joker. He's so bad Uhura and Fleming both have a bounty out on him; they came and told me about him. I ran a check on him and, Jim, that boy is no more ready for Starship duty than the grandchild I don't have. He's too immature."
"How did he get assigned here?"
"Evidently he's the nephew of Commodore Wesley's wife and she 'convinced' Wesley that her darling nephew belonged on a Starship. I've met Mrs. Wesley. She can be a real shrew, even without trying. If he stays on this ship much longer Uhura and Fleming, and probably a few others, will kill him and stuff him down a disposal chute."
"Could he be our Saboteur?" Kirk asked hopefully.
"No, he hasn't that much knowledge, or gumption."
Before Kirk could reply, a young crewwoman ran in, panting. "Mr. Spock's compliments, sir. The intercom isn't working and he asks if you would please come to the bridge?"
(Kirk's reply will not be recorded here in honor of family living and decency.)
By the end of the shift, nothing had changed--except that the food dispensers were delivering potato chips to one and all, regardless of race, color, creed or specified order. Damage Control expected to get to that problem before breakfast, hopefully. They still hadn't completely cleared up the intercom.
Mr. Spock stopped by sickbay to pick up McCoy's report. Spock and Kirk had spent most of the afternoon going from one department to another getting reports that the intercom couldn't deliver. He saw McCoy standing by the door of the sickbay ward, frowning. Spock walked over and looked into the ward.
In one of the beds lay a young crewwoman who had just undergone an emergency appendectomy -- an emergency not caused by the Saboteur, but probably only because he, she, or it hadn't thought of it first. Now the young lady herself was not unusual, but the actions of her doctor were. Dr. Suren was bending over her, smiling what he thought was a reassuring smile. To Spock and McCoy, it was just painful.
Suren patted her hand clumsily and said, "Don't worry about a thing, Yeoman. I'll have you out of here in no time."
It was a horrible imitation of McCoy's familiar bedside manner. The nervous yeoman glanced over at McCoy with a pleading, confused look in her eye. Suren straightened up and turned toward them. When he saw Spock, he changed to an interesting shade of green. Of course it wasn't a blush, because all the galaxy knows that Vulcans do not do emotional things like blush.
Suren said very stiffly, "I was reassuring the yeoman on her post-operative progress."
With quiet, if slightly damaged dignity, he passed between them and exited the room. Spock and McCoy looked at each other thoughtfully a moment, then McCoy shrugged, "Maybe he's cracking under the strain of so many humans."
Spock replied icily, "He should not, Doctor. He is a Vulcan. I think I will keep my eye on him."
At 0200, things had quieted down. Most of the day shift crew was sleeping. Spock was still working with the computer, trying to get a clue on their random Saboteur. Scotty and the engineering crew had just finished repairing the food dispensers. The medical teams were running psych profile tests on any of the night crew who were in mental condition to give accurate results. McCoy was catching some sleep before tomorrow's tests and Dr. Suren had charge of the night duty. He was still smiling painfully at all patients and had even thrown out a few heavy jokes. By now everyone in the crew was keeping a startled eye on the peculiar young Vulcan.
Kirk stalked the corridors, half in hopes of catching the Saboteur red-handed. He stole from room to room; most of them were empty and still, but in the rooms where crewmembers were working, he came and went so silently, the crew never saw him.
In the engineering department, he saw Lt. T'Prai sitting with her back to the door at a work bench: she was fiddling with a gizmo and singing softly to herself. He gave a crooked grin. Uhura was right. She might become human, given enough time.
Kirk backed out of engineering and continued toward his quarters. At that moment, two distinct things happened. One, Kirk had a hunch so bright that it was an absolute inspiration. And secondly, the red alert sounded through the ship, accompanied by the collision klaxon. Kirk shoved the inspiration to the back of his mind as he dashed for the elevator. The trip seemed to last forever, and when he finally reached the bridge, it looked more like a beehive. Mr. Chekov was bent over Spock's scanner, calling off strings of numbers. Sulu and Spock were both pushing buttons on the helmsman's console.
"Status, Mr. Spock!" Kirk barked.
Spock reported without looking up. "Sensors detected an uncharted asteroid on a collision course with us and the Saboteur seems to have picked this time to test our controls and shields. Neither is operable."
Kirk hit the intercom button on his chair. "Scotty, we have an asteroid heading for us and no bridge control or shields. Get down to auxiliary control and get this ship out of its way."
Lt. T'Prai broke in. "The shields and controls in auxiliary are also inoperable, but the phasers are working."
She sounded tense. Kirk hesitated a micro-second. "Spock, can the phasers handle that asteroid?"
"Then get to it." Kirk turned back to the intercom. "Lt. T'Prai, show Mr. Scott where the damage is to the controls and shields, then report to Dr. McCoy for a full psych profile test."
"No need for that, Captain," returned Lt. T'Prai with a rueful laugh. "I freely admit that I'm the Saboteur."
Kirk decided the stunned look on Spock's face was almost worth the trouble. Almost, but not quite. Meanwhile, Sulu had set up target coordinates and was awaiting orders.
"Fire when ready, Mr. Sulu."
"Aye, aye, Captain."
Coruscating light flashed from the Enterprise, deflecting the asteroid off into a new orbit.
The Enterprise was again in standard orbit around Starbase 6. In the briefing room, Kirk, McCoy, Spock, Scott and Lt. T'Prai were gathered around the table. Kirk still had Commodare Wesley's voice echoing in his ears, and he wasn't sure whether to be happy or mad. Commodore Wesley had just congratulated him on being the first Starship captain to locate his saboteur.
"I don't believe it!" he muttered. "I just don't believe it!" Raising his voice, he looked at Lt. T'Prai. "Can you explain this again?"
She tucked one leg under her body and grinned. "Well, Commodore Wesley decided to test the intruder security of all Starships under his command. There were five of us chosen as intelligent enough to learn sections not familiar to us, intuitive enough not to get caught, and inconspicuous enough not to be suspected. Our orders were to act as saboteurs without actually damaging the ship and not to break cover unless caught, or the ship was in some type of situation where our acts of sabotage could injure the ship or crew."
"I see," Kirk said darkly. "And this was all Commodore Wesley's idea?" Then more brightly, "Well, at least I revenged myself though I didn't know it."
Lt. T'Prai looked at Kirk quizzically and asked, "Captain, you knew I was the Saboteur before I admitted it. May I ask how you knew?"
Kirk grinned in his turn. "I didn't know for sure, but I guessed. The night of the asteroid, I overheard you singing in the lab. It didn't hit me until I was on my way to my quarters that while a Vulcan woman might sing as she worked, she would never sing the song you were singing. That was coincidence, but coupled with the fact you were in engineering and could go almost anywhere in the ship without challenge from Security was enough to make me suspicious."
Dr. McCoy suddenly asked, "But who are you really, Lieutenant?"
"I'm Lt. T'Prai, assigned to this ship in engineering under Mr. Scott."
"No, I mean, you look like a Vulcan, but you don't act like one."
A little solemnly, she replied, "I am a Vulcan physically, Doctor, but by Vulcan standards, I'm 'brain damaged.' You see, I have absolutely no telepathic abilities. What is even worse, I have a natural mind shield that no telepath can force without risking the destruction of my mind. When I was four, my mother died and no Vulcan could handle me. My father, who is a merchant, tried taking me with him on his trips, but he couldn't cope with me, either. But the wife of one of my father's business contacts could handle me, so my father decided to ask them to care for me. They agreed, and I was raised with their daughter. My father visited me often and from him I leaned of Vulcan, enough that I could create the facade of being a normal Vulcan. It was this facade that made sabotaging your ship easier."
"Then you are a Vulcan who acts like a human," put in Spock.
"Actually," she replied drily, "I consider myself a human who looks Vulcan."
Spock frowned slightly at that. "I had suspected Suren of being the Saboteur because of his illogical behavior."
McCoy laughed. "Oh, I got to the bottom of that. Suren decided humans didn't trust him because he was too logical and so unlike the emotional doctors with whom they were familiar. So he thought if he developed a bedside manner, humans would feel more confident in him. Instead he found that his illogical behavior disturbed them more. So he's dropped the smiles and decided if he is going to be trusted, it will be because of his medical techniques, not because of a phoney bedside manner. I told him it was the 'logical' thing to do."
Spock raised an eyebrow at this declaration.
Scott, who had been mulling over Kirk's "revenge" statement, suddenly put in, "Captain, what did you mean when you said you were revenged on Commodore Wesley?"
Kirk leaned back in his chair with a contented smile. "I paid a visit to Mrs. Wesley and convinced her that her 'darling' nephew was too valuable to waste on a Starship, and that he deserved a post or greater responsibility. So as of yesterday, Lt. Kramer has been assigned to Commodore Wesley's staff."
Amid the general laughter, Kirk called the bridge and ordered Sulu to set course for Altair IV at warp factor 3.