‘Tis Charity to Show
“Jesus effin’ Christ, lady! Ease up on your eczema obsession already! God!”
Rand threw her head back and groaned. She was in Dr. Ellis’ claustrophobic hole of an office, listening to yet another round of logs on the recorder, containing reams of nothing.
Rand sat up and looked out the window, which was the only thing keeping her from going completely insane. She was wound-up tight after last night and early this morning, after all that crazy making with the rest of the crew. Nurse Rose throwing up at the end of it all really took the cake, but it was the only thing that snapped everyone back to reality, strangely enough. Dr. Begay even cleaned up the mess, him being a doctor and all.
Rand brought her mind back to the present, and looked hard at the recorder, as if doing so would make her focus on her work, but Dr. Ellis sure wasn’t making it any easier. Her once minute detailed descriptions on her digs and findings were being interrupted by complaints about her eczema! It was quite apparent that Dr. Ellis’ skin condition was worsening, as she obsessed over her flaring skin, her enlarged rashes and deepening scars.
The voice of the archeologist, once monotone enough to give a hypnotherapist a run for their money, was now increasingly high-pitched, pained, almost maniacal as she went on about the discomfort from the itch and all-around tightness of the skin, and the insistent burning from the deep wounds. There was something in her voice that sounded a bit too much like Riley with all the agitated, delirious fussing. At one point, Rand even found herself scratching herself on her elbow, the nape of her neck, and under her chin.
“Great! Now she has me scratching,” she lamented, throwing her arms up in the air.
Then, Dr. Ellis’ voice was suddenly stopped in mid-sentence. A low static hum was the only sound on the recorder now. Rand sat up, startled, and leaned into the recorder, pressing both the fast forward and play buttons alternately. Nothing. The rest of the recording was blank.
Turning off the recorder, she pressed the eject button to flip open the hatch. Rand gingerly removed the wafer and looked at the label.
“Shit,” she thought.
This one was the last of the labeled wafers; the rest of them were blank, unused, which meant that all of this listening and painstaking focus for any clues, was at a dead end.
Disgusted, Rand replaced the wafer into the pouch and closed the recorder hatch shut. She pushed back her chair, defeated. Now what? It seemed to her that there was only one thing left to do. Rand got up from the chair and pushed it back under the desk, took the pouch, then left the office, heading for Mr. Spock’s quarters. Damn her wariness about the guy! She’d make him take a listen to these. Maybe he’d be able to find something she overlooked, though she doubted it.
When she reached Mr. Spock’s door she knocked, called his name, then waited. After not getting an answer, Rand decided to bite the bullet to take a peak inside the room. So, she took a deep breath to steady herself, and slowly, as quietly as possible, opened Spock’s door. She gingerly leaned her head inside and looked around, seeing only his bed, his makeshift meditation corner by the window, and neatly set-up work desk with all his instruments perfectly lined in a row. His room was unoccupied.
“Might be at the meeting room,” she thought.
Gently, she closed the door behind her and then headed for the meeting place, where the rest of the landing party, including Spock, had already gathered for a meeting. Rand was stunned as she stood by the door, watching Spock standing with arms crossed, legs apart, neck jutted forward and eyes narrowed at the crewmembers who were surrounding him now. For one thing, she never received word that any meeting was taking place at all.
“Was anyone going to let me know about this,” she thought, feeling annoyed that she somehow wasn’t included in this little gathering.
The other thing that bothered Rand greatly was Mr. Spock himself; the way he looked, stood. The expression on his face was hostile, almost feral with his narrow eyes and clenched jaw, his cheekbones taunt like steel wire against his pale, greenish-tinged skin. If his body language wasn’t uncharacteristic of Spock, she didn’t know what was.
Rand moved in to join her fellow crewmen, who all looked at Spock with watchful, deliberate gazes, appearing purposeful, yet guarded. Looking a bit bloated, Nurse Rose was the first to speak, her voice clear but hesitant.
“With all due respect to you, sir, I don’t think this mission’s been very successful. Nothing’s been found of the archeologists at all. I mean, don’t you think we would have found something by now, sir?”
Rose finished her sentence by trailing off at the end, and then looking around at the others sheepishly, as if for validation that the others had her back. Murmurs of agreement from the others confirmed that she did.
“I agree, Mr. Spock! This mission needed to be aborted since yesterday,” said Riley.
More murmurs of agreement. Rand stepped forward, opening up the pouch and removing the logs for the Vulcan to see, fanning them out in her hand.
“I have to side with everyone else, sir. I’ve just finished listening to Dr. Ellis’ logs, and there was nothing of significance that might lead us to any clues on the team’s disappearance or whereabouts. Most of them were standard findings and happenings on the expedition, but then they degenerate into obsessive rants over her developing childhood eczema. After that, the recording ends abruptly. There is nothing else. The rest of the tapes were never used, sir.”
She extended her hand out to Spock, offering the recordings to him for his own ears. Spock didn’t take the wafers from her, but stood there, standing center to the others like Captain Bligh.
“Yeoman Rand, clues can often be found in places where they are the least obvious. May I suggest that perhaps you did not listen closely enough to the logs in the first place,” he said in a clipped, patronizing tone. Rand felt the back of her neck grow hot. She was angry now. Whatever fear she had towards Spock dissipated behind her bubbling rage.
“Oh, and I suppose that if I had Vulcan blood running through my veins I’d have been able to pick up on those hidden clues. Am I right?”
She heard her voice; she was barely able to keep it on an even keel, she was so livid.
“How dare you question my professional judgment and abilities,” she thought.
“With all due respect, Mr. Spock, that’s a bit of a cop-out. If Janice says that there was nothing helpful on the tapes, then I’m sure that she’s basing that on strong professional analytical skills and integrity,” said Dr. Begay. “Now, I believe that we should contact the captain, tell him that this mission was unsuccessful and wrap things up here.”
Everyone murmured in the affirmative, while Spock seethed. He looked at Dr. Begay, his eyes focused, antagonistic, aimed like two weapons seeking a vulnerable area, where the most damage could be wreaked.
“There is a fact that clearly must be established here. I am the leader of this search party, and not you, doctor. May I offer to suggest that you keep that embedded in your human mind, round-ears.”
“What?! What did you call me?! Are you out of your mind?! Are you?!”
Scotty reached out and grabbed Begay by his arm, pulling him back while Riley stood strategically in front of him for restraint. Rand was shocked, and at first couldn’t find her voice to address the chaos happening in front of her.
“Now, hold on Mr. Spock,” she said, raising her palms up to the first officer. “There’s no need for that! We’re not trying to go over your authority, or we wouldn’t have come to you with our concerns…”
“Well, if you ask me, we need to go over his authority now! This is crazy, and I’m for contacting the captain, pronto!” said Riley looking squarely at the Vulcan while restraining Begay.
Spock stood there, shaking his head slowly with the faintest smirk on his lips.
“For your information, Mr. Riley, I spoke to the captain just a few moments before this impromptu meeting, and he specifically told me that we were not to leave this planet until we found the missing party. Those were his specific orders.”
“Well, I’d sure feel a whole lot better if I heard those orders straight from the source,” said Rand.
“If you are in doubt about Starfleet Command’s orders, then you are invited to contact the captain himself.”
And with that, Spock uncrossed his arms, walked over to Dr. Begay for one last, lingering look, and then left the meeting room. The rest of the landing party followed the science officer with their eyes until he was out of sight, and hopefully out of earshot.
“Round-ears?!” Did you hear him call me that?!”
“Honestly Mathias, I think that little dig was aimed at all of us. Spock’s the only one with pointed ears around here. Don’t take it personally,” said Riley.
He and Scotty released Begay from the restraints; and Begay, though still angry, lowered his head and slumped his shoulders, reassuring everyone that his need for confrontation had lessened.
“Look, Mr. Spock said we could call the captain for conformation on our orders. Let’s just do this and be done with it!”
Rand reached for her communicator and pulled it out of its holster. She flipped open its hatch and spoke into its receiver.
“Yeoman Rand to Enterprise, do you copy?”
She adjusted the modules on the communicator, but the noise only got louder.
“Rand to Enterprise, do you read?”
The static grew thick, invasive, building up until it was almost deafening, then…
“What happened? It just went dead! Is my communicator broken or something?”
“Everyone should try their communicators,” said Riley.
“Right behind you,” said Begay.
Everyone reached for their communicators and attempted to make contact with the Enterprise, even Scotty, who used Morse Code to reach the ship.
The crewmen passed glances at each other, apprehension and confusion marking their pale faces, their shadowy eyes.
“I don’t understand! If Mr. Spock spoke to the captain just a few minutes ago, why can’t we reach him?” asked Rand.
Dr. Begay shook his head.
“Let’s give it another try,” he said.
They did so.
“How in the hell did Spock make contact? You think maybe the communicators stopped working a few minutes after his own contact with the captain?” pressed Rand.
“You think he was telling the truth?” offered Riley.
More glances among the circle of crewmen. Dr. Begay let out a long frustrated breath and replaced his communicator.
“There’s only one way to find out. We have to ask him what’s going on,” he said.
Finding nerves in numbers, they all headed to Mr. Spock’s quarters. Dr. Begay led the pack, with Rand close behind him. They reached the quarters of Mr. Spock, his door closed, like before.
Begay took the initiative and called the first officer.
“Mr. Spock! Mr. Spock, we’d like to speak with you please!”
There was no answer.
The doctor reached for the door and tried to push it open, but it wouldn’t bulge.
“What the…there’s no locks on any of the doors! Why doesn’t this door open?” he asked.
Rand threw her head back and laughed rather mirthlessly.
“What’s so damn funny, Janice? We have to get to the bottom of all this!” said Riley, clearly impatient with her sudden burst of misplaced humor.
“Well, I sure as shit don’t think Spock’s going to let us get to the bottom of anything! He’s bolted the door from the inside, obviously! He will not answer to us! Honestly, I doubt that he ever spoke to the captain!”