Author’s note: I was going to post both Chapter 6 and Chapter 7, but seven needs some of the rust scraped off of it. As soon as I get it cleaned up, I’ll post.
The landing party of five materialized just outside of the communication’s facility’s main entrance and as if the greet them the ground rumbled vigorously beneath their feet.
Uhura glanced up at the adjacent rock face and took note of the transmission emitter towers. One of them was danging precariously over an outcropping of boulders.
“That’s why we couldn’t retrieve the archive automatically.”
Kirk followed her eyes upwards and nodded.
“Giotto, lets get those signal boosters set-up, and let’s make this fast,” said Kirk, gesturing that they should proceed forward, “I have a bad feeling about this.”
Ensign Monteverdi Giotto, as the lone red-shirted security officer, set up the two boosters before taking point. He was followed by Kirk and Uhura. Spock and Lieutenant Rawlins stayed near the entrance for a moment taking additional scans with their tricorders.
“Captain,” Spock called out, “our readings indicate an increased likelihood of tectonic disruptions within our general vicinity. I would recommend that we stay on the surface no more than eight point four minutes.
Kirk acknowledged his science officer with a nod.
“Rawlins, you stay here and monitor the quakes. Call out if things start to get hairy; Spock, Uhura, Giotto: you’re with me.”
The archive was built into the side of the mountain and was separated from the outside entrance by a heavy plated glass door. Giotto keyed in the entrance code and the door instantly slid aside. Once inside, Uhura got straight to work. Her communication’s tricorder was set atop one of the consoles and angled towards the two signal boosters outside while she flipped open her communicator and contacted the ship.
“Enterprise, this is Lieutenant Uhura. Do you read me?”
“Loud and clear, Lieutenant,” came Chekov’s Russian accented voice. “You may proceed with the data transfer when ready.”
Putting her communicator away, she made a few minor adjustments to her equipment and began the transfer. “Captain, the transfer has begun. Estimated time required: eleven minutes.”
Spock, entering the facility at the moment, looked up sharply at the Captain when he heard how much the Lieutenant’s time varied from his safety margin.
Kirk spoke to Lieutenant Uhura calmly while looking at Spock. “Just do your best, Lieutenant. Get as much of the data as you can.”
Spock moved to a nearby console and began inspecting it for damage. Another rumble quaked beneath their feet.
“The planet is trying to tell us something, I believe,” said Kirk smiling to which the first officer merely replied with a raised brow.
Giotto, who was inspecting several cabinets, beckoned the Captain over. “Captain, these look like a few of the old-style log data chips; there aren’t too many and I’ve looked in the other cabinets; perhaps we should take this back with us as well.”
“Good idea, Cupcake, I’ll give you a hand.”
Uhura glanced back and watched as Kirk and Giotto removed three small log boxes from the cabinet. Just then, there was another violent quake causing some of the ceiling tile gave way, breaking off into a fist sized chunk and landing squarely on Kirk’s head.
Kirk stumbled forward and had to brace himself on one of the cabinets. The other three people in the room where just about to rush to his aid when he held up his hand.
“I’m fine, no harm done, I’m—” his eyes crossed slightly and went a tad unfocused. While his speech slurred, a small trickle of blood streamed from a cut that was hidden by his hair-line. Seeing blood, Spock instantly sprang into action and flipped open his communicator.
“Spock to Enterprise. We have a medical emergency. Captain Kirk has been injured. Have medical team standing by in the transporter room.”
Naturally Kirk had other plans.
“I’m–Spock, fine, Spock. I’m—”
Spock, ignoring the captain’s garbled speech, turned to Uhura. “I think we are done here, Lieutenant.”
Uhura had her own plans and plead her case directly to Kirk. “It will just take a few more minutes, Captain.”
Spock would have cut her off, if not for the Captain’s voice cutting through the din of sudden rumbles and loud, cracking noises.
“You have two minutes, Lieutenant, and no more. I’ll take—I’ll take–” Kirk shook his head once as if to clear it “– Rawlins and Giotto with me. Spock, you stay–stay with Uhura. Get back up to the ship if things deteriorate more than they have already.”
Spock watched as Giotto helped Kirk through the door and then spoke into his communicator once again.
“Spock to Enterprise. Lock onto the Captain, Ensign Giotto, and Lieutenant Rawlins and beam them aboard. Lieutenant Uhura and I will remain to complete the data transfer. Energize.”
In a swirl of lights reflecting through the glass door, Kirk and the others were gone. Spock now turned all of his attention onto the other figure in the room. His voice was tender, yet firm.
Thinking that she could speed things up, the fingers of her left hand moved rapidly over the controls of the console while the fingers of her right hand made minute adjustments to the tricorder. She had heard him, yet she could not bring herself to heed him. If there was any chance to download all the data, now was not the time to stop, to respond, or to look up.
“Nyota. We must go.”
His tone, though measured, was now slightly more elevated. She knew very well that for him it meant concern.
“I just need another minute, Spock.”
Spock moved forward and glanced down at the console himself. Seeing that nothing she was doing would significantly increase the transfer speed, he spoke again and much more seriously.
“Lieutenant Uhura, you will cease what you are doing; that is an order.”
“I’ve almost got it—just one more–.”
In that very moment, the floor shook angrily and Spock saw it all in a flash. The cave’s jagged stone roof was beginning to push through the ceiling tiles and give way. He lifted his arm to protect his head as a large rock fell just to the left of him. Then, a pipe in the far wall burst. Smoke and some sort of noxious smelling gas was venting into the room and would most likely begin to suffocate them both in seconds. In an economy of motion, Spock grabbed Uhura’s tricorder, slung it over his shoulder, and flipped his communicator open.
“Mr. Scott, now if you please.”
Spock then reached around the console and pulled Nyota tightly to himself, just as the caves roof began to rain down shards of rock and tile, crashing in large piles just inches away from their feet. At so abrupt an action, Nyota’s face registered a momentary look of objection and she would have resisted and stepped out of the transport beam altogether if they had not suddenly begun to dematerialize.
Once safely back on the transporter pad on board the Enterprise, Spock finally released the breath that he had not realized he had been holding.
Nyota, on the other hand shrugged away from him angrily.
“Just what do you think you were doing?” she yelled. “That data was very important; all I needed was another thirty seconds.”
His tone was deceptively calm. “You did not have thirty seconds, Lieutenant.”
Defiant, Uhura turned her back to him, stepped off the pad, and something carefully contained inside of Spock suddenly snapped.
Stepping down from the pad himself, he grabbed her by the arm to spin her around to face him. Feeling her resistance, he deftly moved to the front of her and grasping her by both shoulders tightly, he shook her soundly, twice.
“I said, you did not have thirty seconds!”
At the uncustomary livid tone coming from Spock’s mouth, everyone inside of the transporter room grew silent as if noticing that the two officers had returned for the first time. Everyone looked up and stared. Giotto’s flared his nostrils and straightened his spine. Scotty’s mouth gaped wide. McCoy, bent over Kirk, stopped treating the wound on captain’s head and looked over. Even Kirk, still slightly stunned by the rock that had hit him in the head, looked on in disbelief.
Uhura was just as shocked as everyone else, even more so when she realized that Spock’s apparent anger was directed entirely at her. That’s when she noticed his heavy breathing, the wild look in his eyes, the beads of perspiration on his brow, and the patches of dirt smudged on his forehead and cheeks. He was in the grip of a powerful emotion, an emotion that she recognized all too late as an emotion that he had experienced in just such a similar situation once before.
The apology was immediately on her lips; however, he did not give her a chance to speak it for Spock turned sharply towards Kirk.
“Captain, I would like to bring Lieutenant Uhura up for disciplinary action. Charge one: disregarding a direct order. Charge two: failure to follow that direct order. Charge three: failure to follow a direct order from a superior officer. Charge four: Insubordination.”
Kirk’s eyes widened as each and every infraction was recited. He had only been off the planet for a minute himself and in that short amount of time his XO had come back on board and looked as he wanted to blow a gasket.
However, before he could respond, the medical team burst through the door pushing a gurney and McCoy was pushing him down on it hoping to finally whisk him away to sick bay.
“He’ll have to get back to you on that, Spock” said McCoy tersely; “the Captain has an appointment with his doctor.”
Kirk waved a bloody hand in a languid gesture that seemed to convey to everyone that he would hear it all once he regained a certain level of comprehension.
Spock, rather than be put off by the fact that the Captain wasn’t taking him seriously, saw his duty and his opportunity. He pivoted and faced the security officer.
“Ensign Giotto, please escort Lieutenant Uhura to the brig.”
Giotto blinked. He and Uhura were friends—they’d known each other since the first day at the academy—they’d even dated casually for a few months in their first year. He couldn’t very well take his good friend to the brig. He turned to the Captain for guidance.
Kirk grimaced and reaching out with his hand, he got hold of the door frame to prevent the gurney from leaving the transporter room.
“Sheesh!” he groused, lifting himself up slightly, “Listen, Spock, I think you need to take it easy. And Cupcake, confine her to quarters.” At Uhura’s widened, disbelieving eyes and open mouth, he added, “For now.”
And just as Kirk was wheeled down the corridor, the realization of all that had occurred finally hit him. He would once again have an angry Vulcan on his hands, and probably an even angrier communication’s officer. He slapped his hand against his forehead and slid his open palm down his face.