Under Fire

Chapter 33

"I don't get it," Christine said, and threw the stylus down onto the table top. "We saw the mine, Leonard. It has to be the ore.

"It's nothing that we've found in any of the males or females that they've allowed us to examine. The key word here is allowed. We're not looking at the right samples."

Leonard offered an explanation in a sympathetic voice.

"Christine, you didn't scan it. It could have been a million different things they were digging out of that place."

"Then why won't they let us back in, huh?" She was boiling in frustration and anger. "They're hiding whatever it is, and they are hurting their own people—and they don't care!"

"Well, darlin', we're corralled here in this one area, and we're not gonna get to test anything that not's in it. Hell, we're already dealin' with one diplomatic incident, so I wouldn't suggest initiating another, no matter how much we need to find out what this ore is."

Christine closed her eyes, biting back her words. Being an antagonistic smart ass wasn't going to help.

"I'd really like to know if Kurta is alright. I'd feel better knowing that at least."

McCoy walked around her and turned off one of the scanners still humming. When he turned back, he rested a hand on Christine's shoulder.

"I can't help you there, either. I'm just not worth a damn today, am I?"

His friend smiled, and said, "Leonard, on your worst day, you're better than most people. Thanks."

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Admiral Akuna walked into the conference room aboard the Barton, accepting as his due, the automatic standing of everyone seated around the table who had been awaiting his arrival.

With no preliminary speech or introductions, he began by addressing Captain Kirk.

"I have read the results of the medical team's scans and examinations of the citizens of Rindour. I understand nothing was found which could explain the reproduction and live birth issues, and, by nothing, I am especially referring to the alleged poisoning of the citizens due to the mining efforts of their government."

Akuna scanned the faces around the table and continued.

"I have also been made aware of the limited selection of the citizens and that no scans were allowed of the mining site, or sites, since we are unsure of how many actually exist.

"Yet, the Rindour representatives continue to pester me with demands for help," he leveled a strong look at both Chapel and Spock, "along with the heads of two of you."

Captain Kirk spoke, "Admiral, if I may…. if we have learned anything, it's that we can't take the representatives at their word. After reading the recommendations of the landing party, may I ask if you are inclined to proceed with the planetary investigation into the actions of two of my crew. Two highly respected members of my crew, with exemplary service records."

Akuna answered, "I agree, but we must look at the bigger picture, Captain, and that requires that we do things at times which we find unpalatable."

"Unpalatable, Admiral, or sacrificial?"

Akuna fixed Kirk with a penetrating stare. "Dismissed. The decision has been made."

"With all due respect, sir, I wish to go on record in vigorous opposition to this travesty," the captain responded, attempting to keep a deferential posture, albeit with obvious difficulty.

"I will be in touch with the details. Dismissed, Captain."

Stiffly, Kirk rose, his crew, and Commander Grieves following closely behind him.

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"This is a big pile of horse shit, excuse my language," McCoy burst out, once into the turbolift.

Jim Kirk was silent, fuming.

Christine and Spock were silent, at the back of the lift, and he brushed her hand with his, softly reassuring her with his presence. She gifted him with a slight smile; it was all she could muster.

Actually, Spock was having trouble removing the image of Christine's sexual assault, and, later, her crushing distress and her battered body. He had reflected and meditated upon his actions, and, though disturbed by the taking of a life, he knew he would do it again. Perhaps, his human need for vengeance and his Vulcan possessiveness had combined to create a rational explanation.

As the lift doors opened, Kirk turned to Spock. "Join me in an hour, we have things to discuss while we're waiting on Akuna."

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Spock handed Christine a cool drink and seated himself beside her on the small sofa, in her quarters.

"Ahhhh. Thanks. I needed that. I think my insides had shriveled by the admiral had finished his spiel."

Christine placed her head on his shoulder with easy familiarly. Just as nonchalantly, he placed his hand on the hers. She felt as if Spock was drawing the tension right out of her body.

The stress of being back on Rindour and her exasperation with their inability to make headway with the reproductive malady had left her energy levels depleted.

"Thank you," Christine whispered.

"You are welcome, but I'm not sure for what I am being thanked."

"Being here. Being with me. Being you," she said.

Spock didn't have to think long for an answer. "It is my pleasure," he said, softly.

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The expansive room on Rindour was nowhere near capacity, but Christine felt as if she were suffocating. She was also seething with resentment and exasperation as she listened to the prime minister's distortion of what had occurred on the planet.

The official party line was there had been no uprising: there was no need for the landing party to go 'rogue,' and the violence visited upon them had been a result of self-defense on the part of the citizens. The devastation in the city had been an explosion caused by an error in the power grid.

Her assault had not been unwelcome; she had lured the overseer into his office in hope of getting information. Spock had obviously killed him when it became clear the man would not cooperate.

There was a procreant concern, however, it was not tied to anything that was being mined or manufactured by the government or its citizens. The Federation was simply not all it had been rumored to be and could not solve the scientific and biologic puzzle of Rindour.

It was a surreal atmosphere where up was down and black was white.

Throughout it all, Spock had been composed, but she couldn't say the same for Captain Kirk. His body language was sending off a 'this is all crap and I can't believe I have to sit through this' vibe.

When it finally came to offering their side of what had transpired, they were met with feigned disbelief and ridicule.

Admiral Akuna and the planetary delegates finally agreed to a recess, with nothing resolved and plenty of antipathy to go around.

Christine excused herself to go to the lavatory, which was down a long hall along which ran an expansive row of windows. The destruction they had seen earlier had been cleared away, but there were still blackened places where explosions had gone off and broken sections of sidewalk and walls.

As she rounded the corner, a hand reached out from a darkened corner and seized hers, yanking her into an unlit room.

Christine yelped in surprise before the door secured behind her.