Tis Charity to Show
Rand hurried down the ship’s corridors, turning her head on either side of her, watching for him, straining to see if she’d find him among the passing bodies walking by. She wanted another chance to talk to him, to make him understand that he had jumped to conclusions about their relationship. Rand was on edge, preoccupied, her nerves raw and prickly as she looked up and down the corridors, chanting please please please Khobran let me find you! Before she knew it she was in front of the double doors to the conference room, effectively putting her fruitless search for Khobran to an end. Rand sighed heavily and allowed herself one last look around the halls. No dice.
She finally gave up, entering the conference room, where she found the rest of the landing party hanging out, waiting for word on what their mission would be. No one was sitting down at the conference table; some crewmembers were leaning on the table’s edge, others simply stood around looking at their feet, the walls, not really looking at one another. The landing party seemed preoccupied, as if being called for this mission had interrupted something big going on in their lives.
“Join the club,” Rand thought to herself.
She quietly walked over to the wall and leaned against it, surveying the people who’d accompany her on the planet Tijus.
Scotty smiled at Rand when their eyes met, and she waved at him, returning his smile. She was happy to see that he was included in this search party. Besides being an all-around great guy, Scotty had proven to be a lifesaver, quite literally, on many past missions. Khobran had told her, on several occasions, that Scotty served as a kind of mentor to him, a kind of father figure during the time of his own father’s absence. They’ve grown pretty close, and while the thought of that warmed her, it also made her lonely, for while Scotty still had a friendship with the man she loved, she had a distance from him now that was of her own thoughtless making. Rand felt the tears coming on, but forced them down with a tight-lipped smile as she turned her attention to Kevin Riley.
Riley gave Rand one of his endearing, crooked smiles and wriggled his brows comically. Rand laughed, her mood forgivingly lifted. Kevin Riley was the ship’s resident clown, and an outrageous, though good- natured flirt. She’s always considered him, along with Nyota and Hikaro, a good friend.
Rand’s attention turned to Dr. Mathias Begay, who was leaning against the table’s edge. The young doctor looked briefly up at Rand, acknowledged her with a nod, and then returned his gaze to his feet. Rand didn’t know Dr. Begay very well, and had only talked to him in passing, but he seemed to be a nice enough guy. Rand had a wicked thought just at that moment, as her mind’s eyes presented an image of her raising her arms and shouting to the heavens: “Thank God he ain’t Dr. McCoy!” She chuckled, tickled and relieved until she turned her attention to the last member of the landing party.
Her relief was popped and deflated when she spotted Nurse Hyacinth Rose leaning against the edge of the table next to Dr. Begay, biting her nails and scrutinizing the damage. Rand rolled her eyes and groaned.
“Look at this idiot! When she’s away from a cafeteria, she makes a meal out of her nails. She probably sees the dirt between her nails as a side dish,” Rand thought, disgusted.
Rand clearly understood that every doctor needed their nurse, but why, of all people, did they have to select a member of Chapel’s catty gossip brigade? Rand took a good look at Nurse Rose.
“Well, she was certainly made to be a follower with her non-descript self,” Rand thought.
Having Rose on the mission could prove to be a miserable prospect. Just then, Nurse Rose looked up at Rand and started to say something. Rand abruptly turned away, mercifully avoiding eye contact, putting an end to any meandering, immature chit chat before it had a chance to even begin.
Just then, Rand heard the double doors zip open. Captain Kirk entered the conference room with First Officer Spock close behind him.
“Everyone’s here. Good. Let’s get started, please.”
The landing party gathered around the long round table and took their places as they pulled out chairs to sit around the captain. Kirk sat at the head of the table while Spock sat at his right. Rand sat across from Spock, to the captain’s left. Placing her equipment on the table, she turned on her recorder and positioned it in voice range of Kirk, situated her padd in front of her and poised her pen over it.
“Thank you all for being prompt,” said Captain Kirk. “You’ve all been selected for a search and rescue mission on the planet Tijus. An archeological team conducting excavations of a recently discovered ancient civilization has disappeared without a trace, literally.”
The lights dimmed, and images of the desert planet Tijus appeared on the viewing screen, behind the captain’s chair.
“There have been previous searches with full-planet scans, but no trace of life-forms have ever been detected.”
“Excuse me sir, but exactly how many searches such as these have been conducted?” asked Riley.
“In actuality, there have been three separate searches,” said Spock.
Puzzled looks passed between the other members of the landing party.
“I don’t seem to understand, sir. If three full-planet scans couldn’t pick up any life forms, then why exactly are we going down there?” asked Scotty.
“I agree with Mr. Scott. It just doesn’t make any sense. No one is down there, as obvious from the findings of these scans,” said Dr. Begay thoughtfully.
“Protocol, Dr. Begay,” said Kirk, smiling good-naturedly. “When all other mechanical searches pick up nothing, then a search party goes in.”
Rand took down notes on her padd, its surface lit to accommodate her in the artificially-imposed darkness of the room.
Kirk continued. “You will all conduct the search, of course, on the excavation site. This mission will have a week’s duration, so you will be staying on the premises, in the station where the archeologists stayed. You are to report any findings, or lack there of, to Mr. Spock, who will report back to the ship. This is a desert planet, so you will be equipped with the proper attire. Mr. Spock will take over from here to tell you about other things you’ll need for this mission. Any questions?”
The captain paused, looking directly at each member of the search party.
“Good. Mr. Spock, it’s all yours now.”
Kirk got up from the head of the table and walked out of the conference room, while Spock got up from his own chair and sat down in the captain's place.