AN: This has been sitting on my to-do list for a long time! Good news: I'm done with First Year of Med School! Bad News: It only gets more busy from here folks! But that doesn't mean I'm stopping, just slowing down. ;)
To Kick the Can Down the Road: Prolong confrontation of a situation/problem until a later date.
When James Kirk yawned for the 15th time in two hours during their latest stellar charting mission, Spock raised an eyebrow at his somnolent Captain, wondering if he had been up late for a legitimate reason or because the Enterprise had recently received an upgrade that included the latest Earth entertainment. The Captain had matured quite a bit over the last four years, but the lack of excitement was taxing on the unique and creative mind of Jim Kirk and, when forced to deal with the decidedly unexciting prospect of mapping without interacting, often lead him to seek intellectual stimulation elsewhere. It was an unfortunate situation for the adrenaline loving man, but the quite logical revenge (and there was a phrase which would have caused never-ending emoting from Dr. McCoy should Spock ever utter it) of the admiralty over the Amerind situation. Spock's own refusal to leave orbit until the ship had found their missing and amnesiac captain had been met with less than co-operative responses, although he'd learned quite quickly that 'madder than a wet hen' was a legitimate way Terran's described the rather unseemly color Admiral Nogura had turned.
(If he could have spared the Captain the pain of the trip, he would have. Alas, there was nothing to do when the admiralty believed the best use of the Enterprise was star charting – except find trouble, which was completely against the Vulcan Way.)
When Lieutenant Uhura began to yawn as well, head gracefully drooping over her communications station, Spock felt the first stirrings of confusion as Nyota was always quite professional. She would never have allowed herself to fall asleep while performing her duties, always preferring to pass off her job to, as she put it, 'a fresher pair of eyes'. His confusion only grew upon glancing at the helm and navigation station to find that Chekov and Sulu were both passed out, with Chekov lightly snoring and Sulu drooling all over the controls.
"Misters Sulu and Chekov," the Vulcan's stern voice held all the friendliness of ice melt, " If you are unfit for your duties, call in replacements." The terrible twosome, as the navigator and helmsman were called by the majority of the crew, snoozed on, and Spock took the opportunity to see that the whole bridge was asleep and had likely become so while he'd spent 5.3 minutes focused on the Captain and Admiralty.
No amount of claxons, shaking, or cold water seemed to rouse them.
Spock punched the comm button on the captain's chair, delicately avoiding the Captain himself, who was what Spock's late mother would have termed a 'hugger'. "Bridge to Sickbay, Dr. McCoy come in."
There was nothing but silence on the other end and a very un-Vulcan sense of frustration began to set in.
"Bridge to Engine Room, Mr. Scott, are you there?"
"Bridge to Shipwide, all officers still awake, report in."
Thankfully there was no silence this time. Calls flooded in from several sections of the ship, mainly crew quarters, where confused off-duty crewman wanted to know why the call had been sent out. Call by call it became very clear to Spock why these crewmembers were awake.
None of them were human.
In a matter of moments he had a relief crew on the bridge, consisting of Lieutenants Gaila, M'ress, and Arex, and had transmitted the pertinent information to the remaining members of the crew, sending out search parties to check on the human crew members who may have fallen asleep in the middle of potentially life threatening duties.
(He had doubts about leaving Mr. Keenser in charge of engineering, but his doubts were outweighed by his trust in their Chief Engineer's judgment. Keenser would not have been in Engineering if Montgomery Scott thought he was unworthy of touching his "bairns". )
All that remained was to determine why their human counterparts were all asleep and to battle the encroaching somnolence that Spock could feel just tugging at his consciousness, pulling him inexorably towards the blackness of slumber.
Spock's human half might have felt the call of Morpheus, but his Vulcan half could and would overpower that, able to go days without sleep if necessary in defense of the ship. Yet he wondered what it was that had caused the issue, whether it were alien interference or the after effects of a chemical released onto the ship either by as yet unseen enemies or a curious crewmember with a penchant for picking up less than helpful oddities.
Having recruited Lieutenant-Commander Emony Dax as his acting Second, given that due to the interrupted chain of command she was the next available Command Track officer, Spock finalized his orders for the remainder of the crew and the two headed to the science labs, hoping that a more in-depth scan of the ship.
The Trill next to him seemed content to shadow him, following a pace behind and keeping a watchful eye on the hallways they traversed, as if she expected an attack at any moment. Given that the Enterprise was gaining quite the reputation as the quadrant's greatest danger magnet and the fact that despite her young age, the Dax symbiont gave Emony two additional lifetimes of experience in addition to its own, Spock considered her actions logical.
One could never be too careful on the Enterprise.
The scan yielded nothing promising, as the ship was operating under normal parameters as far as the equipment was concerned. Spock had been readying the equipment for a second run through of the diagnostic equipment when his communicator went off.
"M'Ress to Acting Captain Ssspock," the Caitian's voice purred over the open channel, "Admirals Komack and Nogura want to know the status of our star chartingggg." Spock felt an uncharacteristic urge to rub a hand down his face, burying the impulse deeply as he decided that now was not the best time to waste hours describing the progress of their latest endeavors in the stellar cartography division to the two cranky and exacting members of Starfleet's governing body.
"Please have Ensign Zzort" and here Dax let out a chuckle at the mental image of their newest Horta crewmember briefing the impatient admirals, "deliver the appropriate information. We have more work to do here Lieutenant."
The soft laughter on the open channel before her affirmation let Spock know that M'Ress also found the decision funny. "I fail to see the humor in my choice," Spock replied to Dax's lingering laughter, "Ensign Zzort is quite capable of explaining the advances the Enterprise has logged."
Dax snorted, "Yeah I'd have kicked that can down the road too, Boss Man." Spock mentally sighed, thinking drily that only a Trill would take the situation so cavalierly. But if he'd learnt anything over the last four years it was, as Dr. McCoy was so fond of proclaiming, 'to loosen up'. In this situation, it was better to humor Dax's less than respectful language, as she meant no harm. Although…
"And what 'can' would that be Lieutenant – Commander?"
Dax, already busy scrolling through a pad of the latest updates from their scattered crew, frowned in confusion. "It's a saying, Mr. Spock, that the Terrans are quite fond of. I personally have no idea why you'd want to litter on your roadways, but they use it to mean putting off a problem. And before you correct me, I think the Admiralty in this case are a problem. So putting Zzort on it works because that kid can quote regulations forwards and backwards and probably dreams of the star charts, given he's worked on them from the very start and works long hours."
Spock nodded, appreciating that her assessment of Zzort matched his, albeit in less emotional terms.
An additional thirty minutes of work proved fruitless and the two began their return to the bridge when Keenser commed from Engineering to let them know that there was a device, wedged deep into the deck, one that was most definitely not part of Engineering.
Detouring to the engine room, the duo were confronted with an angry Keenser and a blinking rectangular box, the size of an antique Earth matchbox, jammed into the plating just beyond the opening hatch of a little used Jefferies tube. Due to the interference of the engines, the small box had gone undetected by Spock's scans and, currently, seemed to be inactive as a tricorder sweep showed that it wasn't giving off any energy at that moment.
Leaning forward to get a better look at it, which in hindsight wasn't the best of choices, the lights stopped flashing and Spock collapsed almost instantly, sleep claiming him like a ten ton weight on his chest.
The half-Vulcan crumpled to the deck, leaving a confused Trill and a Roylan in his wake.
AN: Ah yes, a cliffhanger. For those who may recognize the Dax symbiont from Deep Space Nine, I have taken advantage of the alternate timeline and allowed Emony to go from gymnast to Starfleet Officer. What can I say, I like the Dax's!