Science Fiction Kathleen Sky Vulcan!

ISBN 13: 9780553121377

Vulcan!

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9780553121377: Vulcan!

CAPTAIN'S LOG, 6454.4

Due to a series of freak ion storms, the Neutral Zone separating the Federation from the Romulan Empire will soon shift--and the planet Arachnae will fall entirely within Romulan space.  Our mission: seek out intelligent life there and, if it exists, offer full Federation protection.

To help us complete the necessary surveys, Dr.  Katalya Tremain was assigned to the U.S.S. EnterpriseTM.  She is the Federation's foremost expert on the exobiology of this region--and, as I have just discovered, has a fanatical hatred of any and all things Vulcan...  including my first officer.

I have logged an official protest with Starfleet Command.  Her behavior towards Mr. Spock is not only a disgrace to both her uniform and the Federation but also threatens the success of our mission...a threat we cannot afford when the fate of an entire civilization may rest upon our actions in the coming hours.

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Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

It was a cave. Its magnificent rounded arch was reminiscent of an Italian cathedral; the rock inside the cave glittered as though encrusted with gemstones. Tremain moved forward, enchanted by the jewel-like shimmer inside, while Fitzgerald examined the outside area with his tricorder. There was still no sign of Arachnians.

"I notice we're not able to see the base camp from this cave," Spock said, attempting to peer over the ledge from the door of the cave. "I'm not sure I approve of being out of visual range. I suggest, Dr. Tremain, that you complete your inspection rather rapidly and we return to the camp."

Inside the cave, Dr. Tremain found that the glitter was caused by water seeping through the porous limestone. The cave was shallow, a naturally arched amphitheater. There were no openings in it that went deeper into the mountain. It was simply a half moon formed out of solid rock with a red earth floor. She paced off its perimeters and at the lip of the cave turned back to stare into its depths. "This might make a very effective fortress, should we need it. I hope, however, that that won't be necessary."

"It would require some form of protection here in the opening," Spock remarked, looking upward at the roof of the cave towering over his head. "I would estimate that it is no less than ten point six meters to the roof. That would allow for entirely too much invasion by the elements. And since it is only six point five meters deep, I would say it is entirely too shallow for any useful purpose. However, any form of protection is better than none at all."

"I assume, Mr. Spock, with all that torturous logic of yours, that you are trying to say you agree with me, it would make an acceptable fortress."

Fitzgerald had moved away as soon as he heard the argument begin. He had heard, through ship's scuttlebutt, about Dr. Tremain's feelings concerning Vulcans, and he really did not want to be too close to an argument that might get unpleasant. He moved to the ledge in front of the cave and attempted to see if there was any position from which he could see the base camp. He even prostrated himself and peered over the lip of stone toward the valley below, but there were too many slabs of rock and outcroppings of limestone for him to see much of anything. He got to his feet and dusted off his red coveralls. Fitzgerald turned toward Spock and Tremain to ascertain whether they had completed their discussion. For the moment the two of them seemed quiet, and only involved in attaining an accurate measurement of the cave.

"Mr. Spock, Dr. Tremain," he called, "do you mind if I head back down to the base camp? I'm a little concerned about the fact that I can't see it, and I really think I should be there, since there's no danger here."

Both Spock and Tremain turned to give assent. There was a moment of hesitation, a sorting out of who should give orders to the security guard. Spock quickly gave way and nodded in Tremain's direction.

"Yes, you can leave," the woman said. "There doesn't seem to be any problem up here at all. I would like to find out where the water is coming from. If we could get a larger quantity of it flowing in somehow, and collect it, it might be useful especially since I don't really trust the purity of that river. It's too silty-looking for my taste."

Fitzgerald waved and turned, and began making his way down the mountain slope.

Tremain again circled the interior of the small cave. "That north wall seems to have the most moisture," she observed. "I wonder if I can blast some openings in the upper part of the cave wall and see if we can get a larger supply of water."

"To me, it would appear to be far more logical to dig a trench at the base of the wall, to serve as a collecting point for the water dripping down. By attempting to pierce the stone, Dr. Tremain, you may bring down an avalanche on yourself."

Tremain considered this remark, drew her phaser, and cut a trench at the bottom of the cave wall. Spock made no comment about her willingness to follow his advice. The trench hissed and steam poured out of it as water touched the still-hot rock. Tremain knelt to observe the results of her handiwork. The rock gradually cooled, and moisture began collecting in the bottom of the six-decimeter-deep trench. Everything appeared satisfactory, so Tremain got slowly to her feet. "Well, we'll have water, if nothing else," she commented. "However, you're right about the elements; we may have more moisture in here than we'll know what to do with if it rains."

"I find the chances of rain a little unlikely," Spock said. "According to preliminary reports, it rains very seldom on this continent. When it does, the area is prone to what I believe are called 'flash floods.'"

"It would be fairly safe up here--we're quite a way above the floor of the notch."

Spock nodded, and turned his head in the direction of the cave mouth. "I hear something," he said. "I think it's coming from the base camp. I suggest, Dr. Tremain, that we return there as quickly as possible."

Tremain walked to the stone ledge in front of the cave. "What is it?" she asked. "I don't hear anything."

"Nor would you be likely to. The Vulcan ear is a great deal more sensitive than your own." Spock suddenly cocked his head, and an expression of dismay crossed his face. "Move quickly, I think there's trouble." Unceremoniously grabbing her by the arm, he began climbing down the path.

"What is it? What do you hear?" Tremain tried to shake herself free of his grasp; she found the physical contact distasteful.

"I'm not sure. But I'm afraid it may be Arachnians."

It was.

Tremain and Spock rounded a ledge of rock and could see the base camp--or what was left of the base camp. The area was overrun by the golden-yellow furred Arachnians. The six-legged creatures were larger than they had expected, standing about as high as a man's waist, and easily the length of a man. With sharp mandibles and clawed forearms, the creatures were ripping their way through the camp. Tremain and Spock began to climb hastily down toward the carnage below. They could not draw their phasers easily while climbing; they would have to reach lower ground first. They knew that attempting to fire and descend at the same time would be exceedingly dangerous.

Spock was the first one to reach an area with a clear view of the camp. Bodies, both Arachnian and human, littered the area. There was still some fighting going on in the vicinity of one of the inflatable tents. Someone--possibly more than one person--had taken shelter from the destruction. But the blue-white dome was surrounded by at least a dozen Arachnians, all of them slashing and ripping at the plasticized fabric. Spock began firing downward at them; Tremain joined him, her phaser ready and set on kill. The two of them swept the camp with phaser-fire, and Tremain destroyed several of the Arachnians; Spock had set his phaser only on stun.

Below them the creatures were suddenly shocked into motion away from the camp. They moved in an amazingly rapid but orderly progression toward an outcropping of rock which the first Arachnian pushed at, revealing an opening in the ground below. The warriors rapidly vanished into the ground, hastened by the blasts from the two phasers.

Once sure that the creatures were indeed gone, Tremain and Spock hurried toward the base camp. There was a strong smell of blood, and a strange honey-sweet odor from the stunned Arachnians. They found Fitzgerald, Ackroyd, Martin, Jeffreys, and four of the security guards dead, horribly mutilated, limbs torn off and great gaping wounds slashed in their flesh.

Inside the almost-demolished tent, they found Angela Mendoza and a security guard named Jeff Williams, both of them severely injured.

Tremain knelt beside the profusely bleeding woman. "Contact the ship, Mr. Spock," she called over her shoulder. "Quickly! I think Mendoza is dying."

Spock, kneeling by Williams, examined the man and quickly reached the conclusion that while his wounds were unpleasant, he was not in as much danger as Mendoza. Taking out his communicator, he flipped it open and requested an Enterprise channel. "Captain?" he said in a deceptively even voice. "I would advise that you beam us out of here immediately. We have two severely injured crewpeople, a number of men dead, and I would not care to wager anything on the possibility of the Arachnians staying out of the area very much longer. We are in danger here."

There was a long silence from the communicator, and then Kirk's voice. "We can't beam you up, Spock. We have a problem of our own. The Romulans have arrived."
    

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