MORE THAN ONE WAY
STARDATE: Armageddon - Deferred
Bonded by their rejection of a common enemy, Klingons and members of the Federation stood shoulder-to-shoulder in the Engineering section of the U.S.S. Enterprise - still looking up at the place where they'd last seen the Creature that had tried to trap them into an eternity of combat....*
* "Day of the Dove", by Jerome Bixby. Live STAR TREK, episode.
Lieutenant Uhura's voice rang over the intercom, "Doctor McCoy! You're needed in Sick Bay - immediately."
Which returned the Enterprise to its normal status - or as normal as was possible with a cargo of Klingons.
"McCoy to Captain Kirk."
"Kirk here. What happened?"
"We've got problems, Jim. When that - Creature left, all super-fast healing stopped and old-fashioned medicine had to take over. Sick Bay now contains three badly wounded crewmen, two unconscious Klingons...."
"...and tons of potential fireworks," Kirk finished for him. "How many Security Guards do you need?"
"They're the one thing I don't need cluttering up my Sick Bay," McCoy grumbled. "I'd prefer it if you'd let my medical staff handle the situation."
"Bones, I don't think even a full time psychiatrist could solve the problems that you're going to have when those Klingons wake up!"
"Maybe not..." McCoy's tone brightened. "But it's worth a try!"
Doctor Helen Noel stared at Doctor McCoy, unable to believe what she'd heard. However, his expression warned her that she'd better give him an answer: "Yes, Doctor. My special field is psychiatry, but in Terran psychiatry, not Klingon."
"True. However, the Organians said that we're a lot alike. I haven't the time to find out how - you do, and you understand some Klingonese."
"But...!" Helen started to protest again then her increasing curiosity silenced her. After all, her desire to explore the Unknown had brought her into Star Fleet in the first place. "When do you want me to start?" she sighed.
McCoy indicated the door beyond them. "They're waiting for you in there, Doctor. By the way, one of our - guests is Kaleth, Kang's Second-In-Command."
"I know you can understand me.... Stop that!" Christine shouted from inside the room.
Helen started through the doorway, her apprehension carefully hidden then, she paused. A young Klingon, bandages startlingly white against his swarthy chest, lay unconscious on one diagnostic bed. Helen studied the panel but couldn't interpret the readings.
A disheveled Nurse Chapel was beside the other bed, struggling to fasten a restraint about its unwilling occupant's waist, broken hypo-sprays crunching underfoot. "One way or another, you're going to take this medication!" she panted.
"And I tell you I shall not!" The Klingon started to unfasten the restraint. "It is degrading for a warrior to be confined in such decadent comfort."
McCoy pushed past Helen. Rushing to the bed, he grabbed the Klingon's wrists. "Get quiet, now. If you don't, I'll sedate you!"
The Klingon didn't answer, just glared at McCoy with undeniable hatred and contempt, but he did lie still.
"That's better.... Nurse! I instructed you to try to assure Kaleth that we are trying to help him."
"He won't listen," Christine explained, pushing her hair back into place.
"And that statement was his first admission that he could understand us without the help of the Universal Translator. As you see, he won't even let me administer the medication you've ordered. Look at those readings! If he doesn't get that medication within the next two hours, won't he need surgery?"
"Without a doubt," McCoy agreed as he studied the panel; this examination over, his gaze dropped to examine the Klingon's hostile features. "So, you won't listen to reason, eh...?"
Just then a nurse hurried into the room, saw McCoy, and exclaimed, "Doctor McCoy, Thompson's readings are sinking in spite of everything we can do!" She handed still another hypo-spray to Christine.
"Your first patient, Doctor," McCoy headed for the door. "You work with this Klingon while Christine and I are with Thompson. If Kaleth hasn't changed his mind by the time I return - he'll take his medicine anyway."
Helen studied Kaleth. Kaleth folded his arms across his chest and studied the ceiling. "If you're so unhappy in our Sick Bay," she said, launching a frontal attack, "why are you prolonging your stay?"
Kaleth condescended to look at her, the ferocity of his frown spoiled by the rakish slant of the bandage across his forehead. "Federation potions and nostrums - for a Klingon?"
"They'll serve the purpose until your ship's physician can get here...."
"What ship's physician? He died when you attacked us. No matter. Warriors heal their own wounds - only the weak deserve to die."
"That's inhuman!" Helen gasped then, remembering just who - and what - he was, continued, "But then, you aren't human, are you?"
"No more than you are Klingon," his gaze traced the most feminine aspects of her anatomy rudely. "However, you are eye-pleasing and spirited - more endurable than that McCoy or even the female who just left."
Helen had dealt with enough patients to be able to ignore his remark. When she saw that he'd unfastened the restraint again, though, she stepped forward to pick up the hypo-spray and stood poised ready for battle the moment he left the bed.
He lifted himself on his elbows, grimacing with pain then he ran another all-encompassing gaze over her. "Am I entitled to ask at least one question before I am taken to your execution chamber?"
"What 'execution chamber?' We don't have one...."
"I have heard otherwise."
Helen was surprised that a Klingon of this rank would believe his own propaganda. Had they been restricted to missions in deep space that had kept them from obtaining more reliable information about humans and the Federation?
"You'll just have to wait and see then," she advised. "What was it you wanted to know?"
"How is it possible that you - a woman - became a physician? Those hands do not look strong enough to set bones or to pull teeth."
"Is that all your doctor did...? Er - I'm not that kind of doctor. I usually treat sick minds...."
"Then why are you here? There is nothing wrong with my mind!"
"No? We humans consider it a symptom of insanity to refuse help when it's so obviously needed." She indicated the bandage on his head.
Kaleth thought this over. "It is impossible to argue with a human regarding questions of sanity." He closed his eyes, sank back, and sighed, unable to conceal his pain any longer. "Administer the medication."
Helen did so, and watched the indicator that McCoy had been reading earlier. When it began to drop, she turned toward the second Klingon.
"He is still unconscious," Kaleth informed her as he sat up cautiously. "I heard McCoy say that he was doing well. My own improvement indicates that your doctor does know what he is doing. Karrk has no need of your services. Remain here...and further define your human standards for 'sanity'."
Much later, Helen went into the next room, where McCoy and Christine were helping keep watch over Thompson. "How'd it go, Helen?" McCoy asked without looking away from the panel.
"Kaleth finally let me give him the medication but.... Doctor McCoy, is there any chance that Klingons could have evolved from mules?"
"Why, no, their ancestors were probably much like our own.... Huh?" Intrigued, he swung toward her. "What brought that on? Klingons certainly aren't stupid."
"I wasn't referring to Kaleth's mental capabilities," Helen sighed. "He'd probably score highly on any intelligence test. Nevertheless, he possesses a very narrow outlook on life: If it isn't done the Klingon way - it's wrong."
"Apparently you made some sort of an impression on him, for he talked to you. Other than that one statement, you couldn't get him to say anything, could you, Christine?"
"No," answered the nurse, who was busy preparing still another medication for Thompson. "I was almost ready to believe that I'd turned invisible - until he started knocking hypo-sprays out of my hands."
"Well, what about it, Helen?" McCoy demanded. "Can you handle Kaleth, or do you want me to take over?"
"I don't think he's...hopeless. He did change his mind about the medication," Helen replied thoughtfully. "Now that the Creature has gone, both he and his Captain seem more willing to listen to reason than most Klingons we've met. Look, I know you're worried about Thompson and that you'll want to concentrate your efforts on him. I'd like to find out why these Klingons seem so different...."
"Helen, my dear, as far as I'm concerned, if you want Kaleth, you can have him."
The next day, after reviewing all their information on Klingons, Helen went to see her new patient. He was sitting propped up in the bed - without restraints. Apparently, he'd become reconciled to the situation.
"Good morning," she said cheerfully. "How are you feeling today, Lokarne?"
Kaleth responded to his title by turning his head. "The female doctor who treats sick minds! Greetings. I am better, but McCoy insists I remain here."
"He knows what's best for you. How's your roommate today?"
Kaleth was puzzled for only a moment then, glancing toward the other bed - where the second Klingon was lying either asleep or still unconscious - he lifted his eyebrow in sudden comprehension. "He is much improved, but McCoy keeps sedating him."
"No wonder. If your friend were conscious enough to put up half the fight you did, he'd reopen his wounds."
Kaleth studied Helen. Recalling her lack, of hostility the day before, he decided to ask more questions. "I do not understand humans. Why does McCoy try to heal us? Why is your Captain allowing us time to regain our strength instead of subjecting us to immediate interrogation?"
"Healing the sick - no matter who, or what - is Doctor McCoy's profession. So far as we know, the Organian Treaty is still in effect, so why should there be any interrogation?"
"Humans pry secrets from every Klingon they encounter," Kaleth recited.
"Really?" Helen stifled a laugh. "We were told the same thing about Klingons! By the way, where did your Science Officer get the idea that we have 'concentration camps for Klingons?' You have a lot to unlearn, my friend. Even if we did have such camps, we wouldn't torture our prisoners the way you do."
"We do not...."
"Oh, no?" she pounced. "What about Chekov? And what about the Mind-Sifter?"
"We assumed that you had broken the Treaty and that we were in a state of war when we tortured your crewman," he stated flatly then he stopped, puzzled. "No 'concentration camps?' Then...what are you going to do with us?"
"The Captain has arranged to take you to the nearest Starbase. You can get transportation back to your own sector from.... Let me get this straight. Do you expect me to believe that Klingons don't always subject Federation captives to immediate torture?"
"We do not, I cannot speak for others. Ahrr! Since those meddling Organians forced their Treaty upon us, Kang rarely uses even the Mind-Sifter."
"If that's true.... It may well be that both of us have been subjected to some very successful propaganda."
"'Prop a-gan-da'?" he repeated, enunciating the unfamiliar term carefully.
"'Statements or information slanted to move a given group to accept and embrace a certain ideal or belief'." Helen translated.
"Humm. Yes...so it would seem. Now that the Creature has left, you Federation citizens have not been behaving as we were told you would."
"Are we better, or worse, than what you expected?" Helen challenged.
"I am - trying to decide. You people endure no insubordination from any of us, yet you are treating us more like passengers than like prisoners. Kang visited me earlier today, and no time limit was set. However, he did say that he and Mara are confined to their newly assigned quarters most of the time."
"They're very comfortable quarters! I suppose Kang would prefer the Brig?"
"It would be more in keeping with what we were told. Sit," he motioned to a chair near the bed. "Perhaps we can find more examples of this 'propaganda'."
"Certainly...if you're willing to 'waste time' talking with a human."
"Time spent with a female is not necessarily wasted," he replied.
Those words prompted a sharp glance from Helen. Had he meant that as an insult - or was he making a rough attempt at gallantry, Klingon-style? She'd assume it was the latter. "Thank you. What would you like to discuss first?"
"This starship. It is not like ours," he said tentatively.
She shook her head. "I can't tell you about our weapons or our technology. I'm sure you understand why."
"Of course," he moved his hands in assent. "You can tell me no more about your ship than I could tell you of mine. Even so, I have observed your Enterprise on our screens. It is huge - capable of carrying many fighting men?"
"She's big, all right," Helen ignored his veiled question. "I've heard her described as a 'space-going' city."
"Complete with women and children?"
"Women yes; children, no. At least, not on a regular basis."
"I...see. You women who are aboard this ship, do you work beside your men, sharing equal tasks and responsibilities?"
"Interesting. You have confirmed information we have been receiving...."
"You seem surprised, why? After all, you had women aboard your own ship."
"They only joined us recently. We picked up the idea from the Romulans, for they informed us that it would do much to - ease tensions that can form during long missions. Allowing women to serve aboard our starships has also helped to strengthen the bond between Karmitharns." He read her expression correctly as one of non-comprehension. "That is our term for life's companions - couples who have made an agreement to remain bonded, permanently. You use the terms 'husband and wife'; generally, we do also, when speaking with humans."
"When did women first come aboard your starships?" Helen asked. "We saw no evidence of women aboard other Klingon ships that we've encountered.... I'm sure you men sent up quite a howl of protest when you first learned that women would be coming aboard?"
"No," he replied, ignoring her first question. "We felt more curiosity than anger. We have always acknowledged that there are many tasks in which the female excels. Besides, we had seen that allowing women aboard starships has generally helped, not hindered, the Romulans. We were told that the Federation has allowed women to serve on their starships from the very start. When we returned home and learned of the new ruling, Kang agreed to be one of the first to accept women aboard his ship. Since his wife had already been trained in science, she was permitted to join him. After only two missions, she was made Science Officer."
"How do you, personally, feel about admitting women aboard your starships?"
"At first, I thought little of the idea. However, the women who serve with us must pass rigid mental and physical tests. They have justified the many changes...." He paused and studied Helen for a long moment. "Indeed, I find many merits to the advent of women aboard starships - especially now that I am aboard the Enterprise."
To her great surprise and annoyance, Helen discovered that she was blushing. Hoping he would ignore her heightened color, she evaded, "I suppose you're bored by this enforced inactivity?"
"Then I'll find out what tapes you can draw from our library and arrange to have them relayed to you. Good day."
It wasn't until the next day was half over that Helen realized she had been avoiding Kaleth. Immediately, she directed her steps to Sick Bay.
Today, the young Klingon was awake. When he saw Helen, he glared at her then turned away with silent contempt.
"Hold, Karrk!" Kaleth ordered, speaking in Klingonese. "We have been given truce while we are here, and you have agreed to honor it. This female has expressed sincere concern for both of us - you will not treat her as an enemy."
"Is this the female of whom you have spoken?" the youth muttered. "I grant you, she is a pleasant change from the others."
"Hold your tongue, insolent pup!"
Helen glanced at Kaleth, hoping for a literal translation. "He complimented you upon your beauty," he said smoothly.
Helen didn't allow her disbelief to show. Though she didn't know much Klingonese, she knew that his translation hadn't fit the few words of their conversation that she had been able to follow. "What did he call you?" she insisted. "Taramu?"
"The term signifies relationship. Karrk is the son of my eldest sister," he informed her.
"Your nephew! Why didn't you say so?"
"And give you Federates further hold over me? I had no wish to see him tortured before my eyes."
"I told you that we don't...."
"I believe you, else I would never have told you."
Helen was greatly pleased by this small sign of progress, but she forced herself to view this development in the light of calm logic. These Klingons might be pretending to behave reasonably until they found a chance to escape again.... No, somehow, she knew that Kaleth was being completely honest with her.
"You are late today," he reminded her.
"I have regular duties," she said coldly.
"Granted. But you are not on duty constantly. Time passes slowly here, and one can read only so much.... Conversation is a welcome diversion."
"...apparently do have unending duties. You are the only one aboard willing to spend time conversing with us - beyond the dictates of duty."
"Well, the Klingon Empire and the Federation haven't been exactly the best of friends...."
Kaleth touched his still-bandaged head, repressing an involuntary smile. "How well I know! You Federates know how to give good account of yourselves - even in hand-to-hand combat."
"True," contributed Karrk. "I never saw the blow that felled me."
"You gave equally good account of yourselves." Helen glanced at the doorway leading into the room where Thompson lay. "I'm sure you have heard that one of our men may not recover?"
Kaleth's response surprised her. "To die from wounds received in honest battle can be an honor. But your warrior still lives. Perhaps McCoy will snatch him from the jaws of the forces seeking to take his life."
Helen sought to find a suitable answer to this statement, but she couldn't. Kaleth, somewhat embarrassed by this revelation of the gentler side of his nature, took advantage of her silence to introduce a new topic: "You can tell me very little of this ship's weapons or technology. Is there any reason why you cannot describe your daily routines? How can so large a vessel operate efficiently without strict military discipline?"
"We follow a military code...."
"I said 'strict military discipline'!" Kaleth interrupted. "Your Captain allows behavior which is forbidden aboard our ships. However, you Federates do seem to have solved the problem of boredom which afflicts us."
"Don't you have any Rec Rooms where you can while away the time?"
"No, no! That's short for Recreation Rooms - where we can go to have fun in various games, to pass away the time whenever we're off duty...." She saw that he still didn't understand. "Look...you're going to be released from Sick Bay tomorrow. If you'd like, I'll ask Captain Kirk for permission to take you to see one of our Rec Rooms."
"You want to what?" Kirk exclaimed then motioned her through the door ahead of him when he saw glances turning toward them. Helen allowed herself a tiny smile as she stepped into the empty briefing room. She'd been right in not approaching him on the bridge. Even yet, the memory of the events on Tantalus* still bothered him.
*"Dagger of the Mind", by Shimon Wincelberg (S. Bar David) live STAR TREK episode
"You don't know what you're asking, Doctor." he continued in a more reasonable tone of voice. "Letting any Klingon - especially Kang or Kaleth - have free rein aboard this ship is asking for trouble."
"I don't agree, Captain," she used her most professional tone. "Besides, I knew you wouldn't let them go all over the ship. I assumed you'd have a few strategically placed guards watching forbidden areas. If humans and Klingons are supposed to eventually become allies and even friends...perhaps trusting Kaleth will be the first step toward forming that alliance."
"Y-e-e-s, all right. I'll talk to Kang. If I can get him to sign an agreement...." Kirk looked happier. "That could solve our worst problems. After all, as he said, they've honored the Treaty for three years. Of course, we'll have to be careful about the way we word this agreement...."
Kang paced the length of the room, stubbornly refusing to enjoy any of the comforts provided. Mara was not so aloof. She'd become engrossed in the viewer, studying the few tapes she'd been allowed to draw from the library computers. "Kang!" Her voice sharpened with excitement. "Come here and look at this."
He responded more out of boredom than actual interest then his brows lifted in surprise, "Aye, the outlines do appear to be much like those of our own forebearers."
"Do you suppose...?"
"...that both races may have evolved from the same type of ancestor? Now, that will give our scientists something to study! Yet, it would explain why these humans seem able to think exactly the way we do. Record this."
The buzzer sounded, and Kang whirled to confront the door. "Who?" he shouted.
"Captain Kirk and First Officer Spock. We'd like to have a few words with you."
"Have I a choice?"
"Yes - if you prefer to remain confined to these quarters," Kirk commented as the door opened. They entered casually, seemingly oblivious of the Security Guard who followed and stood beside the now closed door.
Kang glared at them for a moment then he nodded reluctantly. "Very well, Kirk, it seems I have little choice."
Kirk glanced quickly about the room then he moved to the desk-table where Mara was still using the viewer. "Ma'am, do you mind letting us sit here? We'll need this viewer during our discussion."
Mara nodded coolly and rose, Kirk holding the chair for her without thinking about it.
Kang's brow furrowed. He was wondering if it really had been the Captain who'd dared lay hands on Mara. No, had Kirk wanted her, he wouldn't have accosted her in the corridor. He would have had her taken directly to his own quarters.... The guard? Could he be the guilty one? Kang stared at Mara, almost willing her to look up. When she finally did so, he nodded imperceptibly toward the guard, his brow lifting questioningly.
Mara said nothing, didn't even turn to look at the guard. However, her expression had already told Kang that this wasn't the man. No matter. He would find him. Realizing that he was behaving more like a husband than like an officer, and resenting the snub that Kirk had given Mara, Kang decided to mend matters. "You have your Science Officer," he said harshly before Mara could move away to the opposite side of the room. "I need mine as well."
Spock and Kirk moved to stand behind their chairs, waiting for the Klingons to join them.
"You wanted to talk - do so," Kang ordered as he took one of the empty seats and left the other for Mara.
"You've been confined to quarters for several days, and we won't reach the Base for several more...."
"Seven point eight, to be exact," Spock supplied automatically.
"I suppose you're getting quite bored with this inactivity," Kirk continued as though Spock hadn't spoken.
"Imprisonment is accepted as a natural consequence of losing a battle."
"It doesn't have to be - if you and your crew are willing to listen to reason. We're not at war, you know. By now, you've surely realized that it was the Creature who destroyed your ship - not us."
"Accepted. What else do you wish to say, Kirk?"
"You're tired of being confined to quarters. I'm tired of juggling schedules to make sure I have enough men guarding every door.... We became allies to drive the Creature away; why can't we maintain that same footing now?"
"You mean - you are willing to give us free run of this ship?" Kang said with mocking disbelief.
"Of course you wouldn't have free run of this ship!" Kirk snapped. "No one ever does, except for trained personnel. I'm asking you and your people to agree to observe a few restrictions: No exploring the Engine Room on your own, for example. I suppose Mr. Scott might consent to give you a brief tour - but Heaven help the first Klingon, or anyone else, who tried to come around his engines without an invitation."
Kang looked up, startled and somewhat amused. "Your Scott sounds much like my own Engineer. Karm guards - guarded his engines as though they were the wealth of the Empire. Now he mourns them as though they were the wife and children he has never had. That restriction is not difficult to accept - what of the rest?"
"You'd have to stay away from the Armory, all weapons, of course. The library computer would be off limits...so would all sections of the ship concerned with attack or defense...and certain labs. As for the bridge, you'd be able to visit there, by invitation, with an escort...."
"I see little improvement," Kang said coldly. "You propose to treat us like - like...." He paused, searching for an appropriate term.
"Worthy enemies - that we may have to face in battle in the future," Spock suggested with equal coldness.
"I will not..." Kang began, but Mara leaned over to touch his arm.
"Sir, may I speak with you - in private?"
She took his arm and they rose to go to the far side of the room. Kirk and the guard exchanged amused glances, clearly wondering if they had a henpecked Klingon on their hands.
Meanwhile, Kang listened carefully to his Science Officer. "Kang, be cautious; be crafty. Think what he is offering - a chance to explore a Federation starship - something, you and I have not done before." Her look became calculating. "I studied their plans briefly while we held Engineering. With what I remember...and a good look at most of the saucer section, the plans I will be able to reproduce will be much superior to those that anyone has now. Tarlokarne, do not lose this chance for us!"
Kang smiled down at her, "Once again you prove your worth, Mara. Come, help me win as many concessions as possible."
Even with Spock there to handle the diplomacy, the agreement had to be written more than once. Finally, Kirk made a fair copy on Spock's clipboard.
While Kang was rereading the agreement, McCoy paged Captain Kirk. Kang regarded the viewscreen suspiciously as Kirk reached past him to touch the switch.
The image appeared immediately, revealing McCoy seated at his desk, staring glumly out at the Captain. "Captain..." he began before he saw the Klingons in the background. He paused then he decided it made no difference. "Thompson just died. I'm sorry. I did everything I could...it wasn't enough."
"Thank you, Bones." Kirk snapped the switch and sat there with his hand on the viewer, his eyes dark with sorrow.
Kang had lost four hundred crewmen with his ship, and he'd been burdened by sorrow for them - sorrow that he was now concealing from his enemies. When he saw Kirk's own sorrow, however, the Klingon realized that they had one common bond - the weight and responsibility of command. Suddenly, he found himself almost wanting to apologize to Kirk.
The next afternoon, after Kaleth was released from Sick Bay, Helen escorted him to the Rec Room on that same level. Even here some areas were definitely "off limits" to him, but he accepted this as a matter of course. When they entered the Rec Room, there was a sudden quiet then everyone turned or moved away to a different table - except for Spock, who rose. "This table is large enough for three, Doctor," he said quietly.
They joined him and Kaleth looked around, curious, interested. "Why do you allow so much space - for amusement? Surely it could be devoted to a more useful purpose?"
"It does that now," Spock informed him. "Most intelligent beings perform their tasks more efficiently when they relax occasionally. However, not everyone seeks the same relaxation, so space, must be allowed to accommodate individual differences..."
"All Klingons share the same interests!" Kaleth interrupted proudly.
"Indeed?" Up went Spock's eyebrow, and he surveyed the room. "I see no other Klingons here."
Momentarily nonplussed, Kaleth rallied, "I am merely reinforcing my opinion that humans are truly inferior to Klingons."
"I have not found them so. If you will pardon me, I must return to my station."
Helen wondered if Spock had left because he really was needed at his station or whether it was because he had been disgusted by Kaleth's remark. Even she, accustomed as she was becoming to Kaleth's prejudices, felt that had been a bit much. When the shift changed soon afterwards, the room gradually emptied. Only Helen found it unusual that the room wasn't immediately refilled with personnel coming off duty.
Kaleth studied her expression and asked bluntly, "What have I said, now?"
"You have offended my companions."
He stared at her in amazement, "All those males were yours?"
For some reason, Helen felt that this latest communication gap needed an immediate bridge. "No."
"Then...what relation are they to you?"
"They are not relatives, they are.... Kaleth, what is the Klingon word for - for 'lover'?"
"I thought that meant 'life's-companion'?"
"No, for that relationship, we use the term Karmitharn, indicating that the two involved have made a permanent commitment."
"Don't you have any other word for 'companion'?"
Kaleth shook his head and waited for her to find a way out of this impasse.
"Well...when you feel a deep regard for another individual - a loyalty and concern for that person that is not - not - love.... We call such people 'friends.' What is your term for 'friend' - or do you have one?"
"Ah! When one is a friend, we describe that relationship as tarndaro."
"Well then, Kaleth, all those people are tarndaro to me."
He nodded, "I understand."
Helen smiled, relieved out of all proportion by his reply.
Scotty and McCoy wandered in just then, and McCoy frowned when he saw Kaleth. "You've been up long enough, Mister! Take him to his quarters, Doctor."
Helen wondered why she felt so annoyed by this interruption, but she obediently accompanied Kaleth, showing him how to follow markers to find his quarters on his own.
Meanwhile, McCoy grumbled, "That's all the thanks a doctor gets! And I guess that's another way that Klingons and humans are alike. Do your best to patch 'em up, they jump at the first chance to unravel every stitch...."
"Aye," Scotty commiserated. "It's a hard life ye have. Perhaps a wee drink will settle yer nerves?"
After the first day's trial had proved that the Klingons would honor their agreement, the number of Security Guards in view was greatly reduced. Nor did the Klingons know that the number of guards that they did see was unusual. Kaleth found out, however, one day when Helen took him to see the Herbarium. They passed a guard as they rounded a bend in the corridor. "Those darned Security Guards are underfoot all the time since you dratted Klingons invaded us!" Helen grumbled.
"They are?" Kaleth spoke with false casualness. "You mean - they are not usually stationed throughout this ship?"
Helen realized that she'd made a slip of the tongue. However, she'd had no reason to regret trusting Kaleth this far, she might as well continue. "Please understand...it's something that must be done. After all, to the others, you're still an enemy.... No, Kaleth, guards generally are called only when they are needed. They have other duties to perform the remainder of the time."
"I see." Picking up and repeating a very telling phrase, he asked, "...'to the others, I am still an enemy'...? Not - to you?"
Helen tried to remember what she'd said and why. For once, his expression wasn't one of mocking condescension. Instead, he seemed genuinely interested in her opinion of him as an individual. "I'm - finding it increasingly hard to think of you as an enemy, Lokarne Kaleth." She chose her words carefully. "The others have had very little opportunity to encounter Klingons when they aren't in a fighting mood...."
Six point seven days after the agreement went into effect, Kirk and Spock escorted Mara and Kang on a tour of the non-military sections of the ship, going into areas that they hadn't had time to see before now. They'd just entered a dimly lighted corridor leading past a Rec Room when Chekov stepped out - almost colliding with Mara. She gasped and shrank toward Kang slightly then she tried to pretend that nothing had happened - too late.
"You," Kang roared. "You were the one!"
He sprang toward the bewildered Chekov, hands poised to grip his throat. Kirk and Spock, assisted by a passing crewman, grabbed Kang's arms and forcibly brought him to a halt.
"Mr. Chekov," Spock said calmly as he glanced over one shoulder. "You are excused."
Chekov interpreted this correctly as the Vulcan equivalent of "Get the Hell out of here!" and he hastened to obey.
"Mr. Spock, perhaps you would like to show your colleague the installation further along this corridor?" Kirk said quickly. "I'll take Kang into this Rec Room and give him a chance to cool off."
Soon afterward, Kaleth and Helen came down that same corridor, heading for the Herbarium. While they were there, Chekov wandered in without seeing them and perched on a very hard stone - mournfully preoccupied.
Lieutenant Uhura came into the Herbarium, very soon after that. She was looking for Chekov, for she'd heard of Kang's attack on the Ensign, and she wanted to see if he was all right.
"Chekov, you look like a mournful Russian elf, perched up on that rock. You haven't been your old self ever since the Klingons came aboard. Is it that hard for you to get along with them?"
"No. I've been trying to make friends. I'm getting along with some of them wery vell. But Kang attacked me a while ago, and I don't know vhy...."
"You mean - you don't remember what happened?"
"I remember storming out of Sick Bay yelling something about wengance for my brother.... But I have no brother! Uhura, what did I do?"
When she told him, he was horrified.
"Never mind, Chekov. That Creature planted false memories in your mind. Cheer up, honey, you couldn't help it. Besides, some of us still love you." She leaned down and gave him a quick kiss to soothe his ruffled ego. "Come along now; it's time for both of us to report to the bridge."
They left, without seeing the other couple.
Helen regretted that they'd been forced to be silent witnesses to this scene, yet they couldn't have left without revealing their presence - which might have created an even more awkward situation. She noticed that Kaleth was frowning darkly, and she suddenly realized that he was angry. "What's wrong, Lokarne?"
"Disgusting behavior for officers - especially in public!" he stormed.
Helen realized that Kaleth had misinterpreted the motives behind Uhura's kiss.
"You don't understand," she attempted to explain. "Uhura was just trying make Chekov like himself again."
"And she does this by kissing him and telling him that she loves him? She would commit herself to him for such a trivial reason?"
"She didn't...! That kiss was more like that of an older sister's...."
"No wonder Klingons and humans cannot get along! To us, an admission of love and a kiss are always meaningful."
"Well...." Helen felt that she was suddenly getting in deeper than she would like. "Generally speaking, they mean more to humans, too - but not in this type of situation."
"No?" Kaleth inquired. "Then, tell me. When would a kiss be meaningful to you?"
Though Helen hadn't noticed how he'd stressed that last word, it was easier to word her description on a personal basis. "Well...for a kiss to matter to me, I'd have to be with a man whom I like and respect - one who also liked and respected me. We'd feel a mutual attraction, which would draw us into one another's arms...!" When and how had Kaleth gotten his arms around her?
"The requirements you have described have been fulfilled," he said, holding her firmly, but with such an unexpectedly gentle grip that she wasn't frightened then he kissed her.
At first, Helen was rigid with surprise and not a little instinctive hostility. However, it did not take Kaleth long to prove that he was as skilled a lover as he was a warrior.
"This is more pleasant when the female cooperates," he whispered then he kissed her again. Nettled, she did cooperate. When she did, the kiss changed from an experiment into the real thing.
Inevitably, Spock escorted Mara through another entrance to the Herbarium just in time to witness Helen and Kaleth's second kiss. Spock eyed the couple with a touch of shocked interest and said softly, "Basic psychological research, no doubt," then up went his eyebrow.
Mara cast a sidelong glance at him. Seeing that he was neither disgusted nor repelled by what he saw but accepted it as a definite fact, she allowed her features to assume an expression of total indifference as she replied, "Indubitably."
Spock explained softly, "I find the more deserted areas of this ship restful and most conducive to meditation - but sometimes those regions are not as deserted as one might expect. Therefore, I have observed that human females become embarrassed if outsiders disturb them at these times. Perhaps we should leave quietly?"
Mara thawed visibly and whispered, "I agree. We Klingons also prefer privacy at such moments. After you, Mr. Spock."
The engrossed couple never knew they were there.
Helen and Kaleth both felt shaken by what had just happened to them, but the Klingon rallied much faster than she did. "So, this is how it happens!" he murmured, holding her so she couldn't retreat. "It is not as I anticipated, but I would be a fool to refuse it. Woman, what began as an experiment can be experiment no longer - for me. I...committed myself to you during that kiss. I do not think you were indifferent."
"No, I wasn't," Helen admitted reluctantly. "I felt a definite attraction.... But, that's as far...."
"I do not believe you," his arms tightened. "I have committed myself to you. You also committed yourself to me during that kiss. It cannot stop there. Woman.... Helen.... Karmitharn...."
"Would your Tarlokarne approve your affair with a human?" Helen protested, angry and upset because the idea was far more attractive than she was willing to admit.
"You are not listening. I did not say Karmitha; I said Karmitharn."
"'Life's companion'? M-marriage? With me? Why?"
"That is how it must be when one becomes committed to another."
"And by 'committed,' do you mean that you - love me?"
"If I understand your interpretation of that emotion correctly, I do...." He kissed her again, but she didn't have to be goaded into cooperating this time. "And - you?"
"I - I.... Yes, Kaleth, I do love you...but I can't marry you! Surely you can see that it would be impossible!"
"There are many difficulties to be conquered, true, but I am a warrior and fear no challenge. You are a woman of courage - well able to meet any problems that may face us. But, why are you frowning? Is the thought of marriage to a Klingon truly so repellant to you?"
"The thought of marrying you does not repel me, Kaleth. Quite the opposite. However, I don't see how it could be possible. The fact that you are Klingon and that I am human creates an insurmountable barrier. Our Captains would never...."
"Be silent," Kaleth laid his fingers across her mouth. "This need not be decided this very moment. Consider every side of the question - mine as well as yours. You will know what answer to give me when the time comes. Now, let us go to the Rec Room on this level and obtain some of the beverage which you call 'coffee'."
When they left the Herbarium, they were so engrossed in their new status that neither of them noticed that they were holding hands....
Kang and Kirk were still in the Rec Room, which was deserted at this hour. The Klingon's rage had abated somewhat, but he was still angry enough to want to go out of his way to be obnoxious. He leaned back in his chair and propped his feet up on the table, testing Kirk's patience.
Kirk smiled grimly and whispered, "Remember, he's a guest...a guest...a guest?"
Kang burst into laughter and took his feet off the table. "I think the term you would rather use is 'pest,' eh, Kirk? You humans carry hospitality to extremes. You do not care to have someone's feet resting on the same surface that holds your food; neither do I. Shall we move to another table?"
Kirk didn't argue. But he was so relieved that Kang was showing signs of calming down that he decided to make a gesture of peace before sitting down again. "I think I'll get a cup of coffee - you care for anything special?"
"'Coffee'? Is that what you call the brown liquid you are constantly drinking?"
"Yes, I...???? Don't you have anything like it?"
"We have beverages for refreshment, but nothing that gives us as much pleasure as you seem to receive from your coffee."
"Would you like to try it?"
"Would it harm me?"
"McCoy says it won't. Its main ingredient is caffeine, a mild stimulant for humans. I find it helps me to stay alert." Kirk pushed a button. "Here," he continued when the panel slid up to reveal two steaming cups of black coffee. "At least try it. You may like it."
Kang hefted his cup and sniffed at the steam. "Pleasant smell, but I do not like the color.... I will taste it."
He took a sip and was rolling it around on his tongue when the door opened to admit Helen and Kaleth, who were still holding hands. Kang was so surprised that he precipitated the contents of his cup into his lap - impelling him to rise swiftly.
Kirk turned to see what had startled the Klingon. Involuntarily, he clenched his fists, crumpling his own full cup; then he sat there shaking his scalded hand while he stared at the couple in sheer disbelief.
Helen and Kaleth followed the angles of their respective Captains' glares and realized that they were still holding hands. Helen tried to pull free, but Kaleth tightened his clasp to keep her from leaving him. She glanced down at their joined hands, looked up at him then moved closer.
Meanwhile, back at the table, two pools of coffee lay cooling on the floor while two Captains viewed their common problem. They spoke simultaneously:
KIRK: "What's going on?" / KANG: "Explain!"
Kang, realizing that Kirk probably had had more opportunity to deal with such matters, turned to him. "It is your ship, Captain. Carry on."
Kirk was tempted to do just that, but he rallied quickly. "Doctor Noel, can you explain this?"
Helen looked up at Kaleth again; not that she didn't know what she had decided. She hesitated because she knew that whatever she said would affect Kaleth's future.
His reply indicated that he understood and accepted this fact. "He is your Captain - answer him."
But she still hesitated, trying to think of the best way to present her, case. Finally, Kirk grew tired of the silence and snapped, "Doctor, I want your report - now."
"Yes, sir," Helen snapped to attention. "Lokarne Kaleth and I hereby present our formal requests for permission to marry."
Kaleth's expression revealed his pleasure that she'd been able to make her decision so rapidly and so unhesitatingly when her Captain had demanded it.
Kirk was momentarily stunned, but he managed to give a proper military reply. "Your request is noted. Please report to the briefing room on Deck Three at - 0900 hours tomorrow. Dismissed!"
Kaleth lifted his left arm in a salute to Kang then he and Helen, still holding hands, drifted out of the Rec Room.
The two Captains exchanged glances of mutual dismay then Kang shook a clenched fist under Kirk's nose. "Now see what you have done! We should have remained confined to quarters!"
Kirk clasped his hands tightly in front of him, telling himself that he really didn't want to strike the Klingon then he replied, "I don't fancy the notion myself. However, my Science Officer has taught me that I can't evade the truth when it stares me in the face. Therefore, what are we going to do?"
Kang drew himself up proudly, "Forbid it!"
Kirk shook his head. "What good would that do? That couple just burned all their bridges behind them. I don't think it would worry Kaleth in the slightest if you forbade his marriage. If I deny Doctor Noel's request, all she has to do is to tender her resignation then she'll be free to go with him.... And, Kang, if Kaleth requests sanctuary to remain here with Helen, I'll have to grant it - for their sakes. Admit it! We can't use force; we'll have to try to reason them out of it."
What good will that do? he repeated to himself. Helen surely considered all the objections before she decided to marry Kaleth!
When Kang remained silent, Kirk turned toward the door. "This is a matter I must discuss with my Science Officer." He fired a parting shot over his shoulder, "I'm sure you'll wish to consult with yours as well."
KIRK: "Spock, we've got problems! / KANG: "Mara, that fool,
Doctor Noel has just re- Kaleth wants to marry
quested permission to marry the human female named
Kang's Second-in-Command!" Noel...!"
SPOCK: "Ah, yes, I have been anti- / MARA: "I knew it was
cipating this." inevitable."
Both Science Officers demolished every objection each Captain raised. Finally, Kirk brought up what he felt Spock would consider the most devastating obstacle:
"Spock!" Kirk said triumphantly. "What if they can't have children?"
"They can always adopt a child," Spock reminded him.
"A Romulan orphan, I suppose," Kirk responded with careful sarcasm.
It would be one way to initiate diplomatic relations," Spock responded, his eyes gleaming with sudden interest.
Kang gave up when Mara pointed out to him that since Kaleth had made his permanent commitment in public, he couldn't change his mind.
The next morning, while the Captains were waiting impatiently for Kaleth and Helen, Doctor McCoy strolled in. "What are you doing here?" Kirk snapped.
"Doctor Noel and Lokarne Kaleth consulted with me last night. They requested that I be here to supply any information that they may need to plead their case, Captain - Tarlokarne."
When the couple did come, nothing that Kang nor Kirk said was enough to make them change their minds.
"Captain," Spock volunteered at last. "There is no valid reason for us to refuse their request. I agree, however, that they cannot remain aboard either the Enterprise nor on a Klingon ship. However, the Vulcan Science Academy is outfitting a ship, which will soon begin a mission of extensive ecological/cultural surveys of new planets entering the Federation. The talents of each individual would be of great value on that ship. Lokarne Kaleth will be able to understand those races who are military-minded. Doctor Noel will be able to interpret the emotional aspects of...."
"Yeah," interrupted McCoy. "And, if nothing else, being aboard a ship with Vulcans ought to make the differences between humans and Klingons seem a whole lot smaller!"
Spock ignored McCoy's statement, but the Captains agreed that he made a lot of sense.
Therefore, they yielded to the inevitable and began to plan a Terran/Klingon wedding ceremony.
FH: Now, look... I know it says in the Bible that we're supposed to love our enemies, but isn't this a bit much?
YOE: You know, I'll bet that's exactly what someone said when the GI's started bringing home Japanese war brides!
FH: Ouch! Okay, so I suppose that Kaleth and Helen's wedding made everything "sweetness and light" between the Klingon Empire and the Federation?
YOE: Well, hardly....Return to Index
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