Time Trek-Chapter Two

Surak stood silently on a step in the immense and ancient Hall of Contemplation, his eyes slowly scanning the vast throng of onlookers who had gathered to hear him speak. Behind him, in an iron-like cage, were criminals—vile, murdering thugs who opposed the new order of peace which had come upon Vulcan. They were subdued at the moment by a mass mind-link, their eyes vacant and unseeing. They also did not hear the ceremonial bells as they were shaken by Surak's attendants. The assembled crowd watched with divided attention as Surak raised his right hand in a formal salute.

"The day has come to cast our animal passions into the dust of the skies." He announced solemnly.

The bells were shaken again and distant gongs refrained hauntingly. Surak fixed his eyes on the reddish gold horizon, visible through the enormous chamber doors, held open by the force of the multitudes. He observed strangers approach from the distance in some sort of outlandish vehicle, but was not particularly concerned. He had a more important matter to attend to-pronouncing sentence on the mesmerized criminals. Tal-Shaya, the merciful execution, was deemed too lenient a punishment for the cutthroats in the cage. They had almost brought the planet to total anarchy with their bloodlust and hatred of others. Snapping the necks of the criminals would be too easy—too quick. Their deaths must be lingering, for their crimes were lingering. Even though the new Vulcans would not admit it, there was still a touch of savagery left in their hearts-enough to suggest a more satisfying demise for their prisoners. Surak's eyes traveled down to a basket set at his feet, filled with amber-colored translucent stones.

Astrid had been totally unprepared for what had happened to her, and was even more surprised when she regained consciousness. At first, she thought she had died and gone to Trekker heaven. Then, she took one look at her wrecked car and the people around her and figured that this must be a dream. Astrid had recovered quickly from the crash, having only fallen out of the back seat and hit her head on an armrest. To her shock and dismay, she saw that her vidi-set was no longer functioning. If she were to return to her world, she would be in big trouble. She decided to relax and just forget it. She obviously was not in Minnesota anymore.

The automobile had stopped smoldering by nightfall. Scotty, Astrid observed, amused, was fascinated, peering under the mangled hood. He was tinkering with the motor to see if he could get it running again. 'If Scotty can't get my car fixed, nobody can' she thought with a smile playing on her face.

Kirk and Spock had gathered some bushes that looked like sagebrush for kindling. They had all decided to stay where they were for the night, considering the fact that they did not know where the Guardian had placed them yet. For a while, Spock was intensely curious about why Astrid was not a bit afraid of him, her coming from a primitive, paranoid culture and all. It was obvious to him that she had never met an actual extraterrestrial before. When he asked her why she was not afraid, she told him that she was a science fiction addict, used to seeing aliens in movies. That was a logical explanation that sufficed for the moment.

As the huge hot sun sank slowly into the horizon, the humans and the Vulcan sat around a modest pile of brush.

"How are we going to light the fire?" Astrid asked. "I don't have any matches or a cigarette lighter."

"Rub two sticks together?" One Eddie Paskey look- alike security man suggested lamely.

They all, except for Spock, chuckled softly.

"Since when did that ever work?" Uhura retorted playfully. She was pacing, noticing how chilly it was getting outside. Astrid, coming from a cold climate in the reality she had left behind, was used to such conditions. She watched the communications officer with amusement.

"How about using a phaser?" Astrid suggested brightly, recalling the many times phasers were used to heat rocks and the one time when Yeoman Rand heated coffee with one.

Spock shot her a suspicious, puzzled look. He did not recall anyone in the landing party ever mentioning what their weapons were called.

"What a great idea." Uhura complimented. She reached down at her belt and set her weapon for a tight beam and aimed it towards the pile of sticks, and fired. In a moment, they had a nice blaze.

Astrid, careful not to get too close to it, sat down in the still warm sand in front of her car. Soon, she observed Scotty emerge from under the hood, his face adorned with a satisfied grin and several smudges of grease. Uhura had stopped her uncomfortable pacing and sat next to Astrid, both women warming their hands with the comforting flames.

"Well, lass, I've managed to repair your heater assembly and I think I can get this beastie running enough to get us out of the desert."

"That's assuming, of course, that this planet isn't all desert." Added Kirk. Spock had been gazing up at the heavens as the stars began to appear.

"Unlikely, Captain. I recognize some Vulcan star configurations."

"We're on Vulcan?"

"It would appear so." Spock answered flatly, standing by the fire with his arms folded.

Kirk had ordered one of the security guards to watch for any wild animals which happened to venture near them, while he joined the rest around the campfire. The guard who had made the earlier silly suggestion about rubbing two sticks together joined him while the other guard went to check on McCoy. The doctor had been propped up in the relatively undamaged back seat of the automobile. To his horror, the security man found it empty. Eyes wide with fear of being demoted and the thought of the crazed chief medical officer on the loose, he darted outside.

"Leslie! Captain! McCoy is—"

"Hey, relax, Johnson! I'm fine! Captain, where the hell are we, anyway?"

Kirk stood, astonished at how quickly his friend had recovered.

"Bones, how did you-?"

"Regain my sanity? Well, after banging my head against something, I guess it just kind of worked its way through my system. Oh, and Jim, I had one whopper of a dream!"

"Oh? What did you dream?"

"I dreamed we all went back in time to the Earth of the nineteen-thirties."

Yeoman Rand awoke to the sounds of sputtering circuits. Dizzily, she sat up, feeling something warm oozing on her forehead. Soon, she realized it was her own blood. Dazed, she wondered what had happened to the ship. They had been monitoring temporal disturbances, and Scott's crew had almost had them plotted, when all of a sudden they were hit by some sort of shock wave. One minute she was talking with Nyota Uhura on the planet's surface, and the next, she, along with everyone else, was sprawled on the bridge deck, and quite probably throughout the ship. With a great deal of effort, Janice shakily got to her feet. The bridge was a shambles. Nothing seemed to be operating, but the emergency lights and life support. Smoke, acrid and thick, was everywhere. Coughing as it reached her lungs, Janice had realized she had been the first to recover from whatever had happened. There was no way of telling how long she had been unconscious, since she hadn't been paying much attention to the ship's chronometers, but, if the communications systems were functioning, she could find out if anyone else survived. She limped painfully back to the comm station and sat down. For a moment, she closed her eyes, attempting in vain to regain her equilibrium. Then, with one hand on the edge of the console and a little prayer on her breath, she swatted the intercom button almost blindly. Soon after, she heard a low moan at her feet and glanced down. Ensign Lawton, who had just been promoted from Yeoman third class, was recovering. Janice, still weak and dazed, did not assist, and said nothing to her younger friend. She spoke instead into the intercom grid.

"This is...Yeoman Rand on the bridge. If anyone can hear me, please respond. Also, please report on casualties and ship's status."

An answer came almost immediately. Ensign Tina Lawton stood, relatively uninjured, and tried to think of something more pleasant than their current predicament. Then, she thought of the time when Charlie Evans turned her into a reptile. When the Thasians turned her back again, she found herself with her ass stuck in a glass terrarium. It was somewhat embarrassing at the time, but now was pretty darn funny. She smiled as she heard Nurse Chapel's voice on the other end of the comm-link.

"Christine Chapel here, Janice. Sulu and I are caught in the turbolift between decks. We were just about to go out the service hatchway on the ceiling and climb to the nearest available deck for help. Is anyone seriously injured up there?"

"Yes, nurse, quite a few." Janice continued, glancing around the room. "Commander DeSalle appears to be badly hurt. Everyone but Ensign Lawton and I are incapacitated at the moment."

Rand had added the last three words because Riley and Bailey were both stirring on the floor at navigation and the helm. DeSalle, who had been placed in temporary command when Kirk and the rest of the landing party beamed down to search for McCoy, was lying prone and as still as a corpse between the command chair and Riley's and Bailey's posts. Thinking that it might be a good idea to look outside, Janice flipped the toggle switch for the main viewscreen. Luckily, it still worked. She then turned back to the still-open channel to the turbolift.

"Nurse?"

There was no response. Janice's heart skipped a beat.

"Nurse?!" Rand yelped.

"Yes, Yeoman?" Came the calm reply.

"Be careful." Janice's admonishment sounded a bit lame in her own ears, but she couldn't think of anything else to say.

"Don't worry so much, Janice." Sulu's collected voice came back this time. "We will be." He paused for a moment, then added, "Let's use communicators instead of the intraship comm system. It might break down at any moment."

"Agreed, sir." Rand replied, switching off the link, unaware that Sulu's timely prediction of system failure had just come true.