‘Tis Charity to Show
It was a funny thing, this situation that Rand found herself in. She had thought, while she was making a good distance between herself and Mr. Spock, that she would feel more at ease once she was back at the site with the rest of the landing party, as they gathered together at their designated meeting place to discuss their progress. It was a funny thing, because Rand felt just as ill at ease, surrounded by the rest of the landing party, as she did when she was alone with Spock. It was a funny thing, because everyone here inside the dark walls of this meeting place seemed inflicted by the same unease.
Riley, Rose, everyone’s body spoke in the same language. Eyes shifted from one person to the next, arms were crossed against chests guardedly, mouths would start to open as if wanting to speak, but then shut just as quickly.
Nurse Rose absently brushed against Riley, and Riley turned to her abruptly, his cheekbones clenched upward, his jaw set, his eyes protruding. His feral expression was in sharp contrast to Rose’s, whose responded with wide, fearful eyes.
Just was the hell was going on here?
Rand jumped at the sound of Mr. Spock’s voice, with its deep resonance piercing through the silent disquiet of the room. Spock turned to her and simply cocked his brow.
“Is there a problem, Yeoman?”
The others followed suite, turning to her, waiting for her to answer the first officer, their faces betraying various phases of anxiety, confusion, angst.
Rand was embarrassed, as she slowly removed her hand from her chest and passed a look to each of the landing party members, before she settled it on Mr. Spock.
“Sorry. Everyone else was so quiet and you suddenly spoke. I guess you scared me, sir.”
“To be frightened is illogical, Yeoman. You are not alone, and we always look after one another as a unit should.”
“Yes, sir. Sorry, sir.” Jerk.
Spock turned to Scotty, who was holding a wide flat black wallet in his hand, which was fastened by a snap button of the same color, attached to the end of a triangular flap.
“ I trust, Mr. Scott, that these are the recorded logs which you speak of.”
“Yu-yes, mu-mu-misster sp-Spock,” said Scotty, clearly struggling through his stutter.
“These were the only things of significance that were found,” said Riley, cutting off Scotty impatiently. “There was no physical evidence of any kind found outside of these tapes, sir.”
Scotty turned to Riley and gave him a look before he turned back to Rand and handed her the wallet. Rand took the wallet and read the name on it, which was printed in black letters against a white strip: Dr. Adrienne Ruth Ellis. Rand knew from the briefings given by Mr. Spock that Dr. Ellis was the lead archeologist of the Tijus Expedition, and that she, along with the rest of her team, had seemingly vanished without a trace in this barren world.
Rand unsnapped the button at the end of the flap and flipped it open, pulling out 15 orange wafers. Five of the wafer disks were labeled and dated with the same black lettering and white strip background, but the rest of them were left blank. Were these recordings the key to finding out what happened to Dr. Ellis’ expedition? Rand wondered.
“If you pick up on anything that you think might help us on this search, you are to report it to me immediately.”
“Of course, sir.” No shit.
Spock sighed. “Well, the search will not be fruitless if those wafers contain anything that can shed light on what happened to the archeologists.”
“Sir, can you please tell us exactly how long this search is suppose to continue?” There was a tinge of irritation to Riley’s question, as he stood there with his hands on his hips, his eyes narrowed at the first officer.
Rand looked up from the wafers in her hands and stared at Riley. Everyone else turned to Riley as well, still and nervous.
“What’s Riley’s problem?” thought Rand.
The rest of the landing party seemed to shift their attention from Riley to Spock, like spectators at a tennis match. There was a fragility in the air, like one wrong word or move would shatter any stability there was in this grey, oppressive room.
Spock gave Riley a pointed look and crossed his arms over his chest.
“A rather foolish question, Mr. Riley, since Starfleet clearly specifies that a search such as the one we are conducting can last anywhere from two to seven days. After the sixth day, if the search indeed turns up empty, then we spend the seventh day collecting our equipment and readying ourselves for departure. Period.”
Does this mean Spock is getting pissed?
Rand turned to Riley in haste and shrugged.
“We’ve only been here a day,” she said amicably, in an attempt to ease the mounting tension between the two men.
“Well, it’s been a day too long—and I’m ready to cut this mission,” sneered Riley.
“Take it easy, Riley. We’ve only searched the outer quadrants of this site. We have a lot more space to cover,” chimed in Dr. Begay, his eyes watchful, ping-ponging from the first officer to the lieutenant.
His eyes never wavering from Mr. Spock and his stance unchanged, Riley said: “Well, you try working with Stuttering Scotty in a hot arid desert and see if you don’t go ape shit!”
“N-n-nuuow h-hu-hold onnn a mmmu-minute…”
Rand went over to Scotty and stood in front of him, placing her hands on his shoulders while he tried to confront Riley.
“Do you have a fucking problem, or what?!” Rand hurled the question to Riley through gritted teeth. Oh, did she want to hurt him for saying that to such a sweet man like Scotty!
Really hurt him, like in serious bodily harm.
Riley stood there in defiance while Nurse Rose looked on like a frightened child, wide-eyed and shaky, ringing her hands, bobbing up and down like her bladder was about to explode.
Spock stood there as he was; his stance, like Riley’s, never changing.
There was an eerie calm about Spock as he stood there quietly and turned his head to each of the members of the landing party, assessing them the way a product inspector does with a row of cheaply made merchandise, watching for defects. When he was done, Spock took a deep breath and shook his head, the lightly etched smirk, coupled with his narrowed eyes, conveying mild disgust.
“I somehow should not be surprised when one considers the fact that I am forced to work with a genetically inferior race of humanoids, who are unable to find signs of life after only a few hours of a structured search.”
The rest of the landing party pivoted in Spock’s direction, the silence in the meeting room thick and looming. Looks ranging from confusion to outrage were exchanged between the rest the astronauts, while whispers grew from this silence, ricocheting from one person to the next.
During all of this hushed chaos, a ray of sunlight seeped softly into the meeting room, profiling all of the mismatched furniture, the shelves and the people, draping the corners of the items and the crewmembers like trimming.
This light seemed to have a calming affect on Rand, and everyone else in the room, because she could feel Scotty’s body slacken under her grip.
Rand eventually loosened her own grip and allowed her arms to drop to her sides.
The muffled anger from her fellow landing party members died down, and right at the head of this circle stood Spock, who unhooked his arms from their crossed position and let them drop down to his hips and placing his hands there. He bowed his head and took a long deep breath, his shoulders rising and falling. When he finally faced the crew, the smirk was gone, and the former steeliness that was in his eyes was replaced by a faint look of regret.
Or was it embarrassment?
“Please forgive my harsh words. They were uncalled for and have no basis in fact.”
Everyone passed glances at each other before looking at Spock again.
“It’s okay with me, Mr. Spock,” said Dr. Begay, nodding his head.
Everyone else followed the doctor’s example and uttered the same acceptance, though in slightly different ways. Everything, for now, seemed fine, though with an unsteady truce.
‘You have the rest of the day to do your other duties, as the search is concluded for today. Ms. Rand, it is of the utmost importance that you take the time to listen to the logs of Dr. Ellis, in order that you may be able to find any clues that can shed light on her team’s disappearance.”
“Yes, sir.” This guy loves repeating himself.
Mr. Spock continued: “We have worked through mid-morning break, so there are refreshments to partake in the kitchen. Who has evening meal preparation?”
“Scotty and I, sir,” said Dr. Begay.
Spock nodded his head. “Very well, then. I will be preparing my report in my quarters.”
And with that, Spock drew his lips in tightly, lowered his eye, turned, and walked out of the room without saying another word.
Rand noticed, while Spock was walking away from the others, how his fingers fidgeted. He would follow a peculiar pattern of first wriggling his fingers, and then spreading them far apart, as if willfully trying to pull them out of their joints.
“Guess everyone’s s bit on edge,” Rand thought.
When Spock was gone, Rand turned back to the other crew members, who clearly felt secure enough to start talking among themselves again, as their conversation rippled in their closed circle.
“What in the hell was his deal?” sniped Riley, throwing a pointed thumb over his shoulder to where Spock had left.
“I don’t know what’s going on, but that sure was unsettling to say the least,” said Dr. Begay, wiping the back of his moist neck with his palm.
“His deal?! Seriously, Riley?! You’re the one who copped an attitude out of the blue about a search that literally just started!” exclaimed Nurse Rose nervously, though finding her gumption. “Mr. Spock never would have said those things if you didn’t act like a goddamn punk!”
“Exactly who are you calling a punk?!”
“Take a wild guess, genius!”
“All right! The both of you, knock it off,” said Dr. Begay.
“Yee-yah-yeah! Buu-buu-bee quiet!”
Rand, becoming agitated again, threw her hands up in surrender. “Jesus, can we all just calm down here, please?” She brought her hands down and laced them behind her neck. “At this point, honestly, I’d just assume be back on the Enterprise.”
“Yuh-yoou and mee b-buh-both,” said Scotty, crossing his arms with a look of exasperation on his face.
Riley gave Sotty a long, steady look, as if sizing him up.
“Wasn’t there a famous cartoon character back in the 20th Century that sounded like you, Scotty Boy?”
Scotty exploded and tried to lunge at Riley, but was intercepted by both Rand and Begay. Nurse Rose was useless; she just jumped up and down, screaming and flapping her hands like a special needs child.
“You asshole!!” Rand spat at Riley.
“But, I’m only trying to have fun,” said Riley blithely, his stance cocky.
“Riley, I think you need to leave! You’re not wanted here right now,” said Dr. Begay. “You’ve caused enough problems for one day—and I don’t think you’re attitude’s very cute! No one here does!”
Riley’s head jerked back like he’d been slapped, his body held rigid. He was visibly startled as he passed a glance at everyone in the room, shook his head, and stormed out of the meeting room, his shoulders hunched, his neck lowered and his head leading, like a bloodhound.
“What the hell was that screaming, Hyacinth?!” Rand shot at Rose.
“What was I supposed to do, put myself in harms way?” Rose was petulant.
“Talk about Starfleet nursing material! Real prime!” yelled Rand.
Rand pictured her fist making square contact with Rose’s mouth and soundly breaking a number of teeth.
“Let’s see her jump up and down to that, only her gums would be flapping instead of her hands,” she thought with a sneer.
Dr. Begay placed himself between the two women, his resolve clearly gone. “God, stop it! Stop it!”
Rand and Rose looked at each other awkwardly, but didn’t say anything. Finally, they both turned their backs to each other. Rand took a deep breath and looked down at her feet, shuffling them, feeling slightly antsy. When she looked up again, she saw Scotty standing in front of her, smiling sympathetically as he reached out and placed his hand on her shoulder and gently shook it.
“Thuu-thuu- thaankss,” he said.
Rand returned his smile and gestured to Dr. Begay, who was still standing between her and Rose.
“Thank him, Scotty. He’s the one who made the trouble go away,” she said softly.