Rest and recreation. Perhaps the two most comforting words a crewman could hear.
Not that life aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise was ever really boring, but sometimes a change of pace was needed and welcomed.
That is, unless one is part Vulcan.
Mister Spock had waived his last two shore leaves by claiming that his "role as a science officer afforded all the recreation needed." While Starfleet Command applauds such a sparkling attitude towards the execution of one's duties, there are such things as standard operating procedures. One of these directs that each and every crew member of a Federation starship most acquire, at the very least, seventy-two R&R hours per annum terran, regardless of sex, age, creed, race of planetary origin.
So when the Enterprise slid into synchronous orbit around Zeta Reticuli I-B, Spock, whose number had again come up, was ordered by Doctor McCoy (by way of Captain Kirk) to join Engineer Scott for at least eight hours of "recreation." Note: Speculation has it that McCoy demanded Spock go down with Scott, not so much in the Vulcan's behalf, but to keep the chief engineer out of mayhem. Last time out, Scotty came back with a split lip, bloody nose and two cracked ribs (which, according to the Scotsman, was only "ha' the fury ah dealt te thot Klingon scum!").
The settlements on Zeta Reticuli I-B were among the first established by the Federation. Even though the atmosphere was heavily laced with methane and ether, the meteorology was mild enough to make the use of geodesic domes practical. And since they were built by homesick Terrans, the domes reproduced terrestrial conditions down to rain storms.
It was just such a sentimental downpour into which Spock and Scotty stepped as they exited the transporter facilities in I-B's largest city, New Britannia. Needless to say, I-B was pioneered by a large entourage of western Europeans, and much of its cultural flavor derived from the fact. As a result, New Britannia was one of Mister Scott's favorite R&R spots.
"Ah know of a verra fine pub nae far from here thot we ken scurry to," said the engineer.
"Lead on, Mister Scott," said a slightly bemused science officer.
Ye Olde Inne was a quaint little taproom, not nearly as close by as Scotty suggested. In fact, the two star travellers passed three other quaint bars before stepping in out of the rain. A molecular scan-dryer at the front door took care of the drenching to which the men had been subjected.
Spock surveyed the darkened interior with an expression approaching apprehension. Seated in a far corner were three Kh'myr Klingon "maximum defenders" drinking freely. Of course he didn't have to see them to know they were there, for even outside he'd heard their bark-like native tongue rolling out in robust tones. Fortunately, all three were in the latter stages of drunkenness, and as he watched, one of them passed out cold on the floor. The other two howled with dog-like laughter. Spock's apprehension abated, and he sat on the barstool next to Scotty.
"Wouldna ye like a belt o' scotch, Mister Spock?"
"No, thank you, Mister Scott." Then he said to the bartender. "Proprietor, would your inventory include a bottle of T'mara Omi?"
"Tomorrow o' what?" asked the dumfounded bartender.
"T'mara Omi. It's the only beverage Vulcan officially exports."
"I'm sorry, lad, but we don't carry too many exotic whatevers. How 'bout a scotch and water?"
"No, that would not do. Scotch has a terribly disrupting effect on my metabolism."
Scotty snorted a chuckle.
"Perhaps you could mix twenty cc's of strawberry soda with two cc's of dry vermouth."
The bartender stared blankly at the Vulcan for several seconds before turning away to fix the drink.
"Mister Spock, thot is the first time Ol' Angus has been at a loss fer words," Scotty said as he downed his fourth shot of straight scotch.
"Thank you," Spock said as Angus set the drink in front of him. "Could I please have a straw?"
Old Angus muttered and reached into a cabinet against the wall and produced a red and blue striped straw. "'ere ye go," said the bartender.
"How much..." began the Vulcan.
"Please, fer ye, 's'on the house."
And Angus hurried away.
Engineer Scott howled with laughter and held his sides as if they would burst. "Mister Spock," said Scotty. "Yer rare company, indeed ye are, for old Angus to waive yer tab."
"Meaning, Mister Scott?"
"He either admires yer pluck, or he hates yer gall."
Just then, three of New Britannia's finest stepped into the pub. The whole place went deadly silent save for the two Klingons, who were far off to worlds of their own.
Angus ambled down to the end of the bar nearest the door and spoke quietly to the officer wearing the sergeant's insignia. The bartender pointed discreetly toward Spock, and the policemen moved in his direction. Now, even the Klingons were quiet.
"Are you First Officer Spock of the U.S.S. Enterprise?" asked a young sergeant, hardly past his twenty-sixth year.
"That is correct."
"And this must then be Montgomery Scott, Chief Engineer of the same vessel."
"That is a logical assumption."
"Would you both please come with us? It is considerably important."
"Couldna ye wait 'til I've had a chance to mix wi' those Klingon slime o'er there..." said Scotty as he glanced toward the corner. All three Klingons lay soundly wasted on the barroom floor.
"I'm afraid you would be too much for them, Mister Scott," said Spock.
Once again the duo trekked through the rain, this time in the company of the constables.
"Sergeant, would you enlighten us as to the purpose of this excursion?" inquired Spock as the fivesome filed into the waiting police hover-van.
"Well, Mister Spock," said the sergeant. "It's a little embarrassing. You see, New Britannia has an annual crime-rate of practically zero. Apart from the occasional scuffles in the pubs and traffic violations, there just aren't too many noteworthy infractions of the law." The sergeant stopped to take a breath.
"Ye wouldna 'appen te 'ave a pint wi' ye fer emergencies?" Scotty interjected at the break.
"I'm afraid not, Mister Scott. We don't have too many emergencies."
With that, Scotty fell into a sulk.
"You were saying, Sergeant..." continued Spock.
"Stuart, Andrew Stuart."
"Ye wouldna be Paddy Stuart's boy?""
"No, I would not," said Sergeant Stuart with a slight edge to his voice. He was beginning to become annoyed at the interruptions.
Hopes dashed again, Scotty fell back into his sulk.
"As I was saying, Mister Spock, the crimes, such as they are, require very little in the way of investigative pursuance. And tonight's late shift had no one experienced with actual police work. So when the call came through that Allenby Gallery had been burgled, we were at a loss as to what to do. Constable Byron suggested we pull a stranger off the street and bestow upon him the dubious title of 'Honorary Chief of Constables'. Though meant as a joke, it did give me the idea of checking the admissions and departures log at the transporter service. Our computer there selected you as a likely source of aid due to your Starfleet service record and the fact that you are no stranger to forensic sciences."
"Indeed," said Spock.
"Can we rely on your assistance?"
"I can see no reason to deprive you of it."
Scotty groaned woefully.
The van pulled to a stop before a large hangar-like building. The Allenby Gallery's rounded lines of construction contrasted sharply with the more common blockishness of the neo-British architecture surrounding it.
The building itself stood about twenty meters distant from the street with a permanent awning over the show-window. The bottom of the window was shoulder-high from the ground and two discarded polymer packing cases were stacked beneath it. The window had been smashed in the middle, leaving a jagged gap large enough for a man to pass through.
The men stepped from the van and traversed the walkway in front of the gallery, encountering ankle deep puddles at every other step. Scotty murmured something about the "waters of Loch Ness".
Spock stopped just short of the area protected by the awning. "When did the burglary occur?" he asked.
"About forty-five minutes ago," said Sergeant Stuart, gazing at his chronometer.
"Has anyone else arrived here before us?"
"No, sir. No one."
"Fascinating," said Spock as he took two steps forward and crouched down at the base of the bottom crate. "Sergeant, look toward here, if you will," said Spock, pointing at several small shards of window glass strewn about on the pavement.
"It's broken glass," stated Sergeant Stuart blandly.
Spock stood up and surveyed the window frame. The outside sill extended eight inches from the pane. Spock ran his hand along the sill for the length of the break. He then held it up so that the light of the street lamp fell upon it. He peered at it closely.
"Curious," he said. "I'm finished out here. Shall we go in?"
"Of course, sir," replied the sergeant as he hurried up the three steps to the door. He rang the bell, and seconds later, the keeper unlocked the door.
"About time you got here," said the dark-featured gallery keeper. "You'll never get that pig now."
"You saw the assailant?" asked Spock.
"Well...no," said the keeper as he removed an ice-pack from the top of his head. "But I felt him."
"At 9:30, I was preparing to take my dinner break in the rear storage area when I heard glass breaking. I rushed into this room with my incapacitator drawn, and suddenly I felt a sharp pain on the top of my head. That's all."
Spock scanned the front room of the gallery, giving no visible recognition to the mashed display case in the middle of the floor. "Sergeant Stuart, am I correct in assuming that the royal stones of Yaine-Mizar are absent?" asked the Vulcan.
"Yes," said Stuart despondently, but adding with delayed excitement. "How in the world did you know?"
"As Science Officer of the Enterprise, I endeavor to keep informed on as many topics as possible."
"But why the royal stones?"
"The stones of Yaine-Mizar are valuable due to the fact that they radiate a form of energy capable of increasing a contactee's mental acuity and levels of borderline perceptual capacities such as ESP and telekinesis. Overexposure to the radiation, however, has a detrimental side effect to the extent that the exposed regresses to a child-like level of cognizant behavior. And, as the stones were mined from an asteroid fragment, their origin is obscure as such, and gives no reference point for research.
"The stones are of interest to me as they may hold a cure for the mentally retarded, and, to some measure, the mentally ill, once the effects can be controlled. In this context, I was part of a Starfleet research team that, several years ago, re-examined the collected data on the Yaine-Mizar stones in an attempt to solve their puzzle, many of our findings led to useful measurements of the radiation effects. Unfortunately, our overall gain of knowledge was meager. At any rate, I keep updated on the whereabouts of the stones any time they are on exhibit."
"That certainly answers my question, Mister Spock."
Spock moved to the window with the purpose of examining the inside arrangement of broken glass. Once again, he ran his hand across the sill. Again he peered closely at his palm. If Vulcans ever smile, Spock approached the threshold within a second's breath.
He gazed almost casually at the glass on the carpet. He then paced to the jewel case with his gaze directed to the floor.
"Mister Spock, what the devil are ye lookin' fer?" asked an impatient chief engineer.
Spock did not answer. Instead, he thrust his hand through the hole in the glass display case. This action triggered an electromagnetic field switch, and instantly, a cloud of dark dust surrounded the Vulcan's hand.
"I see the tracer-identifier is still intact," he said coolly.
"Let me run out to the van and get some solvent for you, Mister Spock," offered the sergeant.
"I don't think that will be necessary, Sergeant, as I believe the gallery keeper has some on hand."
"Yes, as a matter of procedures, I do."
The keeper turned to an unobtrusively fashioned cabinet behind the jewel case. Pulling a lock activator from his hip pocket, he opened the door. He extracted a vial half-filled with a cloudy liquid and handed it to Spock.
"Sergeant Stuart, you may detain this man on suspicion of the theft of the royal stones of Yaine-Mizar," declared Spock.
"Would you like to make a statement, Mister..." began the sergeant.
"K'zar," snapped the keeper.
Spock's right eyebrow raised in recognition.
"That's right, Vulcan. Commander K'zar of the Klingon Empire!" he said with overabundant pride. It was now apparent that K'zar was one of the original dark Kh'teb subrace of Klingon. "You may have me," he continued, "but not the stones. In no time, we will have the finest military minds in the galaxy. Then we'll see how invincible your pathetic Federation is!"
"Military minds..," Spock murmured, seemingly lost in thought. "Minds, yes. Finest, no," finished the Vulcan in tones smacking of contempt.
"Sergeant," continued the science officer. "Have your men secure Commander K'zar at the nearest station. I think I may be able to lead you to the stones and their escorts."
The rain had stopped by the time Spock, Scotty and the constabulary returned to Ye Olde Inne. Spock entered at the head of the group and strode briskly to the table where the three unconscious Kh'myr were at rest.
Spock knelt down beside the first Klingon to pass out, and after a quick appraisal of its uniform, unfastened the chest flap of the jacket. From an inside pocket on the flap, the Vulcan produced three necklaces of what first appeared to be rough-cut pearls. A closer look revealed the "pearls" to be of a smoky amber color, glowing softly from within.
"These," stated Spock as he held the necklaces out to the policemen, "are the royal stones of Yaine-Mizar."
Sergeant Stuart was struck dumb.
"As for these unfortunates," continued the Vulcan. "They should be taken to the nearest mental health station to see what can be done for their overexposure."
"How can I thank you enough?" sputtered a terribly grateful Sergeant Stuart.
"Your little problem afforded me some 'recreation'. I should be thanking you," explained the Vulcan 'detective'.
Fifteen minutes later, Spock and Scotty resumed their stations at the bar. "Okay, Mister Spock, I canna understand how you did it! I was wi' ye the whole time, and couldna make head nor tail of it all."
"It was all quite simple, really. When a disciplined mind assesses the actions of an untrained one, the clues are in abundance."
"For example, when I saw shards of window glass outside the building, I surmised the window was broken from within. Then, upon finding a fragment of glass lodged beneath the bottom crate, my assumption was confirmed. Obviously, the glass had been somewhat removed and the crates moved in place to suggest a forced entry from outside. To check this, I ran my hand across the rather wide window ledge and felt nothing--no glass, not even dust. Ergo, it had been wiped clean rather recently."
He stopped to draw a sip of his strange mixture, and Scotty gulped a shot of scotch. "So far, we can see the actions of carelessness," continued the Vulcan. "The keeper broke the window from the inside. Realizing that glass on the outside might even seem odd to the local constabulary, he tried to collect as much of the glass as he could and brought it inside. He then moved the crates. He should not have wiped off the ledge."
"Ah kin follow ye thot far, but inside..."
"Once inside, I checked the window sill. It also had no glass particles on it, but it was dusty. I then checked the carpet for some discoloration from wet shoes. As it had been raining for several hours, any one approaching the gallery would most certainly pass through the numerous puddles along the way. There were no foot marks of wetness around or on the crates outside or on the dry pavement beneath the awning. No wetness on the crates. Their non-porous surfaces would have held water for several hours. No wet marks on the inside sill or carpet."
"So thot means no one entered through the window."
"Precisely, Chief Engineer. By this time I was sure of the keeper's guilt, but I wanted to induce an incriminating situation to secure him legally. That is why I allowed my hand to be sprayed with the tracer-identifier compound. He'd forgotten to deactivate the device. I could see this was so by the thin layer of dark dust covering the display pedestal inside the case. As he had to clean the compound from his hand, which in addition to staining the hand blue, leaves a radioactive element that can be traced with a tricorder, he'd have to use the solvent to remove it from his skin.
"The solvent itself is a compound comprised of part naphtha base liquid and chloride powder abrasives. As such, it has to be shaken before it can be used. The keeper handed me the bottle without realizing the cloudy appearance of the compound was due to his own use of it." The Vulcan paused.
"And although none of this was truly concrete evidence, I noticed K'zar possessed a common character flaw of most Klingons--overstated pride, which was provoked with my accusation of his guilt. This caused him to pridefully admit his deed."
"Okay, but what led ye te the stones? How'd ye know it was those three Kh'myr warriors?"
"K'zar boastfully admitted a clue with his claim of soon having the finest military minds. It was this statement that induced me to think of the Kh'myr warriors. They are genetically engineered to be the ultimate soldier, and it was at this point in my thoughts that I realized that the Kh'myr were in a state of drunkenness. This ran counter to their genetic programming, which would allow them to feel the euphoria, but not the incapacitation. Yet they were so drunk that they were passing out."
"This suggested to me that something else caused their 'drunkenness.' It seemed likely to me that they possessed the stones. They were actually suffering from overexposure to the radiation, and they suffered the effects in a matter of hours. This also allowed their beverages to take effect."
"Thot's fascinatin', Mister Shpock," slurred the Scot as he downed another shot.
"By the way, Engineer," said Spock as he stared across the bar to the bottle-filled shelves. "It would benefit your own mental capacities to curtail your...Mister Scott?"
Spock glanced at the Scotsman's vacant stool and then to the floor where Scotty was lying, out cold. "Fascinating," said Mister Spock.
Free counters provided by Andale.
Return to the index of ORION ARCHIVES --
2266-2270 The First Mission
Return to the index of ORION ARCHIVES On-Line Fiction
Click Here to Return to the Orion Press Website