‘Tis Charity to Show
The intensity of the turquoise sky made it appear touchable with its even, unwavering shade. The blazing white sun that hovered high up seemed almost embedded against the heavens. The sheer magnificence of the horizon made it very difficult for Rand to tear her attention away from it and back to the reason why she was outside in the first place.
The landing party had been split into three pairs, and Rand was paired with Mr. Spock. The two of them were conducting their part of the search at the outermost tip of the site on the west side, while the others searched on the outermost tip of the east and the south. The idea was to work from the outer rim of the grounds and eventually conclude the search at the very center of the site, where the excavations had taken place. Because of the piecemeal method being used, the search would take a few days to be conducted, giving the landing party plenty of time for a more thorough investigation.
Spock, with his tricorder in hand, walked around the area gingerly while watching the readings on the monitor screen. Nothing. Rand wasn’t having much luck herself, as the pencil-thin rod that rotated, stretched, dipped, and retreated from behind her monitor failed to show anything on her screen. No body heat, not even readings of corporal remains were picked up.
Rand turned and started to ask Spock a question, but hesitated, and then decided not to pursue it. Her hesitation didn’t quite make sense to her, but she couldn’t help it. It was a reflex, like when the patient’s leg kicks up after their doctor hit their knee with a patella hammer.
It sat in the middle of her shoulder blades, raw, blunt and clammy, ever since she’d been alone on this search with Spock. It spoke of an unease Rand had with him, his presence, and she couldn’t pinpoint exactly why she had this feeling. All she knew was that she wished she’d been paired with someone else. Hell, she’d even clench her teeth and partner with Rose if she had to!
Partner with Rose. Wow. It must be bad if she’d rather be with Rose.
Well, actually, she’d rather be with Khobran, if she really had a choice in the matter.
Living on a starship could be downright scary at times, much less beaming down on a strange alien planet. Rand recalled many times since they’d been together, during uncertain instances that the Enterprise had faced, how Khobran was there to comfort her, make her feel safe with a firm squeeze on the shoulder, pulling her close and holding her, brushing her bangs aside so that he could kiss her forehead.
Rand was jarred out of her thoughts by Mr. Spock, whose trumpeting reprimand served as a bucket of ice water to the warmth of her memories. With goosebumps covering much of her skin, Rand had almost forgotten that she was under the brow beating rays of a mid-morning desert sun.
“It is absolutely imperative that you are fully alert and reliable during this search! I cannot be the only one here who is doing the work!” Spock’s voice was sharp, condescending.
Rand flinched at the harshness of the first officer’s tone. It seemed so unnecessary and over-the-top, especially considering the length of time spent and the lack of progress made on this search. Damn it, she was working! We’ve found nothing, Oh Mighty Mr. Spock! Get over yourself!
“I’m on the task at hand, sir,” said Rand with a defensive weariness, fully aware of the fact that the word ‘sorry’ didn’t enter into her response.
“The fuck’s your problem?” she thought while visions of her laser gun searing off the tips of Spock’s ears entertained her.
Well, a yeoman could dream, right?
Rand heard the communicator on Spock’s belt go off, and she was relieved. At least, for this short little window of time, his attention wouldn’t be on her. Spock reached for his communicator and flipped it open.
“Sc-Scott h-here. Mmuu-me and R-Riley h-haven’t p-picked up on aneee-any life at all, s-sir. B-But Riley stummmbled upon a p-packet of re-recording wafers offff logs labeled b-by a Duh-Doctor Adruh-Adrienne Ellisssss. Maaee b-bee they’d g-give usss a-cluh-clue to w-what h-happened to the-them, ssir.”
While Spock listened he glanced over at Rand, who promptly turned away. She didn’t like him looking at her with those piercing eyes of his.
Or were they dead eyes?
“This is a positive turn for us, Mr. Scott, considering that no life has been picked up by any of us thus far. I will contact Dr. Begay. We will be heading in now. You can give Yeoman Rand the tapes for her inspection. Spock out.”
“Wow. I can’t understand Scotty’s stuttering. It seems to be getting worse,” Rand thought.
She wondered if she was the only one who noticed, but then again, she did turn away from Spock, so she was not able to see how he reacted to Scotty’s new speech impediment.
“We are returning to the camp. Mr. Riley will present you with these tapes he has found. You are to report on anything you believe may help us on this mission.”
“Yes, sir,” said Rand with her back to Spock.
Thank God, it’s over!
As Rand started to collect her gear, she swooned suddenly. It was as if she was spinning around without actually moving from where she stood.
“Yeoman Rand,” yelled Spock, running to her side and hoisting her up by her elbow.
“Are you all right?!”
Rand took a deep breath and gave herself time to steady her feet. She pressed her free hand onto her temple.
“Yes, I’m fine,” she said, clearly shaken.
Rand looked up at the wide-expanse of sky where the white-hot sun loomed above the desert. While it was true that the sun’s temperatures were fierce at around this time, the visor and gargles she was wearing should have been protection enough from the rays’ heat. She didn’t understand what was going on. Was she sick?
“Maybe the sun is getting to me. We’ve been out here for awhile,” she thought.
“I don’t understand. Your headgear should be able to provide adequate protection from the heat. This is most unusual. Perhaps you should see Dr. Begay when we return to the camp…”
“No, Mr. Spock. I’m fine,” Rand assured him with more firmness in her voice.
“Are you quite sure, Yeoman?”
OH, MY GOD! Is this guy deaf, or what?!
She could feel Spock’s grip on her elbow get tighter. Was he even aware that he was beginning to hurt her?
Rand twisted her elbow away from his hold. She wanted desperately to get away from him.
“Yes! I’m fine!” She was surprised by how abrupt and loud her own voice had become.
There was a thick silence that permeated the air while she hurriedly gathered her gear. She could feel Spock’s eyes on her while he stood over her.
“Very well,” he said with a quiet edge. “We shall return to the camp and have a conference on our findings.”
Rand could hear Spock’s footsteps recede as she picked up her backpack and flung it over her shoulder. When her arms were safely secured in the straps, she started heading back, walking as fast as she was able, leaving Spock behind. The sooner she was surrounded by the rest of the landing party, the better she’d feel.