Disclaimer: Star Trek is the property of Paramount/Viacom. This story is the creation and property of Mistress V and is copyright 2007 by Mistress V. Rated R.

 

Finagle's Fault

Mistress V

 

Trick or treat -- all tricks -- arrived three weeks early on the Enterprise. Jim Kirk, fresh from a much too short and much needed trip to Risa, assembled his senior staff to deliver the pronouncement.

"I'm afraid Admiral Mendez is insisting he do the preliminary inspection once we reach spacedock this December." He paused with a sigh. "And I'm sure you know what that means."

An almost palpable ripple of discomfort passed through the assembled officers. Mendez had been all set to roast their boss the previous autumn but somehow had miraculously been called away to Temoria just before final inspection. This time he would not back down. Whatever extra lives the ship had left would have to be saved for more realistic use. The crew would simply have to be ready for the detail-loving admiral and his officious Zakdorn clerk, Lt. Bydebok.

"So," Kirk continued, "I think it's best we postpone the winter holiday party until January, when we're back on mission. Too close for comfort, even if we have it early. And besides, it'll give everyone a chance to stock up on supplies during their leave."

"Should make for an even better party, Jim," McCoy theorized, thinking ahead to some bourbon punch he could make from the local hooch he'd pick up in Georgia. The other staff nodded in agreement.

"In the meantime, we need to start preparations for inspection now. Bones, Chris, start crew physicals this week. Spock, check the transfer orders for staff coming and going once we reach San Francisco. Everyone start working up your year end reports. I want them on my desk well before Thanksgiving so they can be reviewed and then revised if needed. Sorry to put a damper on everyone's planning for leave, but if we don't get past Mendez, we might spend our two weeks in mandatory retraining classes. And that's something no one wants, trust me." Kirk recalled a painful two weeks when he was a young officer after the Farragut disaster.

"Now to more mundane things. Spock, what has our favorite lieutenant planned for Halloween?" Kirk gave his first officer a smirk, wondering what type of reaction the Vulcan would give. In the past, he'd viewed celebrations with Vulcanly-controlled distaste, but since his pairing with the ship's ACMO, things had loosened up a few notches.

"Lt. Riley has informed me that there will be a 'House of Horrors' in the ship's bar. Crewmembers are encouraged to wear the appropriate attire, and proceeds from the evening shall go towards the Federation Benevolent Fund." He looked back at Kirk. "Senior officers are especially invited to attend."

"I'll see tae it he doesnae blow out the circuitry, Cap'n" Scotty offered. Riley's evenings often ended up with shorted out control panels, and that was on a good night.

"And we'll set up a triage unit in sickbay," McCoy added, remembering the disastrous Cinco de Mayo party gone south, fueled by horrendously bootleg tequila. "Just in case."

"Extra security, Scotty," Kirk noted. Fights were an all too common by product of such events.

"Aye."

"Christine and I shall be bartending that night, so we will endeavor to check the alcohol supplies before the festivities begin, lest there be any ethanol in the Scotch," Spock stated drolly.

Kirk cleared his throat before continuing the meeting. His first officer willingly participating in a ship's social event was not precisely unheard of lately, but it still took some getting used to. He idly wondered if the Vulcan would show up in costume of his own volition.

* * *

 

The next day an away team assembled for a routine planet survey. Christine was busy drawing up the rosters for staff physicals when she suddenly felt a very strange sensation across her link with Spock.

He swore.

OK, he didn't precisely cuss out loud, but the word was unmistakable and most assuredly not in ancient Vulcan, either. The only other time she'd heard something even remotely similar was back on Vulcan when he'd slid down a muddy embankment at the springs of Shok-Tor. Everything else seemed all right, just an intense feeling of discomfort. More than discomfort, disgust.

*Are you OK*? She hesitantly pushed into their link.

*I am alive, yes. Well is a matter of conjecture.*

The comm unit beeped. "Chris? Len here. Look, get a decontamination team to the transporter room on the double, and some extra clothes for your husband and Riley."

"Uh?" she responded. Clothes? Decontamination?

"Everything's fine, Chris. Just meet us. McCoy out." Her supervisor was barely containing a gale of guffaws. What on earth had happened down there?

The smell overpowered the transporter room's closed atmosphere even before the away team had fully materialized. It was an assault on the olfactory senses -- the full throttle, take no prisoners kind. A nauseating wave of rotting cabbage, sewage, sulfur and carrion filled the air. Everyone quickly covered their noses and mouths and fought the urge to gag.

The cause of the mayhem was Spock and Riley. They stood there covered in filthy, muddy purple muck which had obviously resisted preliminary attempts at being scrubbed off.

"Get decontamination suits on them, pronto," McCoy ordered the medical staff. "It's not contagious, but man, it stinks."

Christine moved over to her husband and put on her ACMO's face. "Strip, Commander," she ordered matter of factly. He hesitated.

A look of amusement passed between them. *It's not anything I haven't seen before,* she added reassuringly.

*No, but I was more surprised at your commanding attitude. Perhaps this might bear...further investigation?*

*Not with you smelling like a corpse, dearest.*

It transpired that the planet had a humid swampy surface, filled with unusual plant and animal life. One species in particular, a large bluish feline like creature, was the subject of much interest. Spock and Lt. Riley had been making a recording of the animal and followed the giant cat across a dirt clearing it had leaped over. Unfortunately, the 'dirt' was a thin crust covering a swampy oozing cesspit of anaerobic bacterial sludge, whose inhabitants were busily adding to the photosynthesis of the planet's atmosphere. Both officers sank like proverbial rocks into the chin deep ooze. The mud was harmless enough but added its own delightful pungency to the mission, which was halted abruptly.

There was an added complication. Despite the mud readily rinsing off in the shower, the stench remained even after several washings with disinfectant soap, saline solution and antibacterial gel. Christine and her boss began considering an industrial strength cleaner used to wash down the shuttledeck. The smell could not simply be left to wear off, as the *Enterprise* was due to pick up some dignitaries the next day who were headed to a geological conference at Starbase 9. Official functions were planned and it would not do to have the ship's first officer smelling like a garbage dump.

In the meantime, Spock and Riley were sequestered in an examination room, covered in disposable garments and both wearing a look of long suffering martyrdom. To add to the discomfort, their tricorders were at the bottom the swamp so all the hard work they'd done was essentially for nothing. Spock did not like such occurrences.

"I'm stumped, Chris. Maybe if we sprayed them with baking soda paste again?" McCoy asked as they ran the computer for remedies. "The two of them would put a whole colony of skunks to shame." The air in sickbay was already smelling a bit ripe.

"Skunks! Len! That's it!"

"It is?" McCoy paused a moment to consider. "Of course, Chris, why didn't I think of it sooner? Tomato juice! It's bound to do the trick."

"Either that or lye, and I think they'd like to keep their skins," Christine replied as she called down to Cookie in the galley.

* * *

 

Lt. Riley came out of the bathroom and stood in front of the physicians for inspection, clad in a towel and a lopsided grin.

"It worked!" McCoy pronounced. The offending smell was gone, and so was the tomato one after the shower the lieutenant took. "How do you feel?"

"Like one half of a bloody Mary," Riley admitted. "Guess I'll go take care of the other half at the bar."

"Let me buy you a drink," the CMO offered, giving his assistant a knowing wink. She and her husband could use some time alone together, even if it was salsa themed.

Christine hit the comm unit. "Go ahead, Spock, the remedy works. I'll just be closing up shop out here." There was no reply. "Spock?"

She wandered over to the bathroom and knocked. "Spock? I'm about to come in, are you all right?"

Still no reply, but nothing untoward in their link, either. She hit the entry button and stared at the sight that her eyes beheld. Her 6 foot plus Vulcan husband was sitting curled up on a towel on the floor, stark naked. His arms were wrapped around his shins and his chin rested on the top of his knees. Dark eyes regarded her with an almost emotionless gaze.

She was on her knees next to him in a heartbeat. "What is it? Are you sick?" Maybe the mud had a latent side effect.

"No."

"Then what is it?"

"I have no desire to bathe in a tub of vegetable puree." A hint of stubbornness laced his tone. "It is a most illogical concept."

"But that's the only way you'll get rid of that awful smell. Come on, it won't take long."

"No." His face grew petulant. She knew the look.

Christine threw back her shoulders and put her hands on her hips. "I'll give you ten seconds to get into that tub, mister, or else."

"Or else?"

"You'll be sleeping on the shuttledeck for the next week."

"That would be illogical."

"I don't care about logic, you Vulcan jack***, get into that tub before I sedate you!" She nimbly dodged his hands, which were seeking to drag her into the tomatoey goo with him. "Oh no you don't, buster. I'm not the one who smells like a wet fart!"

"Vulcans do not fart, Doctor."

Christine gave an exasperated sigh. "We'll discuss Vulcan bowels at another time, commander. Now into that tub or I'll go get my riding whip, do you understand?"

Silence.

"Promise?" Spock finally asked with a twinkle in his eye.

"You you -- Vulcan!" his wife replied as she burst into helpless laughter. Damn that man, he knew just what buttons to push.

Her husband obediently slid into the large tub of red liquid and began washing himself down. "Why must you consistently restate that which is obvious?" he asked innocently.

"Because I know it'll get a rise out of you." Christine sat back and enjoyed the show.

"A rise, Doctor? Could you define where, precisely? I believe I am experiencing that condition at present."

* * *

 

"So....I take it you like the commanding doctor persona, then?" Christine asked some time later, after they'd had several showers together in sickbay and in their quarters, then split a bottle of champagne and some strawberries.

"Indeed, a most...refreshingly arousing personality. I do wish I could see it more often." Spock smacked his wife's derriere playfully.

"Hang around sickbay enough and you just might."

"As I did that day Dr. Sevrin's followers gave you such issue," her husband recalled fondly. "Assertiveness becomes you. I do believe I began falling in love with you a little bit way back then."

"If you think I'm going back to blonde hair and short skirts, you've got another thing coming," Christine said with a murderous look in her eye.

"Promise?"

"SPOCK!"

FIN.