Sunday, October 14, 2012

Star Trek: The Cognition Factor

Medical Log, Stardate 7713.4.  I continue to monitor Captain Kirk’s behavior as he recovers from his injuries suffered on Zandaria 5.  I have released him to active duty, under protest, my own.  However, I have an ally on the bridge who will keep me informed of any problems.

The bridge of the USS Enterprise.

“Captain’s Log, Stardate 7713.6.”

“Five, sir.”

“What, Mr. Sulu?”

“It’s Stardate 7713.5, sir.”

Jim Kirk frowned.

“Really?  I thought that looked like a five on the printout here.  Anyway, Stardate 7713.5, the Enterprise has just left orbit from the planet Zandaria 5 where we had meetings with, uh, with…what’s their name again?”

“The Zandarians, Captain,” said Mr. Spock.  “Following their capturing and torturing of you and three security people.”

“Right,” said Kirk.  “The Zandarians.  Their leader Santias Mark captured…”

Kirk stopped as his first officer had moved over to stand by his chair.

“Captain,” Spock said.

Kirk adjusted his position in his command chair.  His legs ached and tingled, as if he had been working out for hours, yet he’d only been in Sickbay since beaming back from Zandaria 5.  Either a workout or sex with a Klingon woman, not that he’d ever done that. He recalled that he hadn’t had sex in a while, and then thought about Carol Marcus and then a horse in his uncle’s barn in Iowa and…

“Captain Kirk!”

Jim looked up from his reverie. His green blooded Vulcan first officer still remained at his side.

“You have been staring at the floor for ten minutes. I ask again, sir.  Are you well?”

Kirk began to answer, but was stopped by Lieutenant Uhura’s voice.  Spock walked back his chair and pressed a button on his desktop.  Kirk, relieved that Spock was now otherwise engaged, swiveled his chair to look at his beautiful communications officer.

“Yes, Lieutenant?”

Uhura batted her eyelashes at her commander, more to see if he was paying attention, but Kirk was focused.

“Captain, I have Admiral Komack from Starfleet Command.  Priority One.”

Kirk nodded.  This was business, finally.

“On Screen.”

The screen that normally displayed the path of the stars moving by the Enterprise flickered for a half second and then showed a distinguished white haired man sitting behind a desk, the Federation flag behind him.  The man’s craggily face had a kind smile.  He wore the gold uniform of Command.

“Hello, Jim,” he said.

“Admiral,” responded Kirk.  He tapped a finger on the arm of his chair.  What was this guy’s first name?

The rear lift doors made the thwocking sound that announced an arrival or departure from the bridge, as common a sound to the bridge crew as the beeps and bleeps from the equipment.  But this time Dr. Leonard McCoy stepped out from the lift and walked toward the science station.  Mr. Spock indicated the Captain.  The doctor turned to listen.

The admiral continued.

“Jim, I need you and the Enterprise to proceed to Ledo—ooo—nomy---argh---mulans--- massing on –der.”

Kirk looked at the screen in confusion.

“One moment, please Admiral.  Uhura, can you clean that up?  I can barely understand it.”

The bridge fell into that uncomfortable silence that Kirk always could detect as something was perceived wrong.

“Captain, I’m sorry, but there was no problem.  It was perfect.  I think we all understood it.”

“Really?” Kirk said, not hiding his annoyance.  Crystal clear to everyone else?”

Spock stood.

“Indeed, Captain.  The Admiral was quite specific with our orders.  We are to proceed to the Ledotian system as soon as possible, and join with other Starfleet ships to confront a massing Romulan fleet of eighty or more ships gathering at the border.  Correct, Admiral?”

“Very articulate, Mr. Spock.  Did you get that version, Captain?”

Kirk, now wondering what was going on, asked Uhura to replay the Admiral’s message again.  It was as Spock said.

“Very article indeed, Mr. Spock.”

“Articulate, sir?”

Kirk looked at the young man who was sitting next to Sulu.

“That’s what I said, Mister….Mister.”

God, what was his name? The mop top haired kid?

“Chekov, sir.  Pavel Andreievich. Navigator. I’ve been sitting here three years. And you said article.”

“I made a mistake, Mister Chekov.  I am allowed. I am human.  And if there is anyone else on the bridge that has something to say before we go to face the Romulans and try to prevent interstellar war, please speak up now.”

Leonard McCoy stepped down.

“I will.  Captain Kirk, you are relieved of command. Via Starfleet regulations, as Chief Medical Officer, I certify you are not fit for command.  Mr. Spock, do you concur?”

Kirk was stunned. 

“Bones, I-”

Spock stepped down from his station.

“I concur, Doctor.  Admiral, as you have seen, the Captain remains disoriented and unable to comprehend certain communications, plus the files you have reviewed from Dr. McCoy and my own observations, the Captain should not be in command.”

The bridge crew merely sat in shock at what could be called mutiny, or a coup, considering that Starfleet was in on it.  They were each considering their options, or waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Kirk started to get up from his chair, but was restrained by Spock.  McCoy reached over to Kirk with a hypospray.  The Captain resisted but Spock moved Kirk’s body toward the injector.

“Jim,” McCoy chided. “It’s for your own good.”

Kirk railed against the people betraying him right up through the Admiral.  He had heard “It’s for your own good” too many times on too many worlds.  He felt the spray enter him.

And then he opened his eyes.  On the bridge. Crew around him. Spock and Bones, the latter with a mild grin.  On the screen, Admiral Komack.  The bridge was making all its normal noises.

And he had a headache.

“I know,” McCoy said. “Headache, right? Get some coffee into you. The pain will disappear by the end of your shift, and you’ll be fine.”

The crew returned to business, letting out a group sigh.  You never knew on this starship.

“Bones, what was-“

“Jim, I told you that you had not recovered fully from the neurological torture the Zandarians inflicted on you.  You may have felt fine, you sure told me that enough, but there were levels in the brain that had not been treated.  Every minute you were not in treatment, lesions were moving through your brain destroying the myelin that allows communication between your brain and body.  Your body ached, you couldn’t remember names and found communication difficult, and you were over reacting.”

Spock nodded.

“Indeed, Captain.  You called me “Pointy Ears” at our last meeting.”

Kirk pondered that.

“I apologize, Spock.”

“Not necessary, Captain. In fact it made me quite anxious to speak with Doctor McCoy to see what could be done.”

“Anxious?” McCoy asked. “An emotion, Spock?”

“A concern for the proper functioning of the ship, Doctor, expressed in your primitive human language.  We contacted Admiral Komack, and he agreed to assist.”

“Jim, I really was concerned, “the Admiral said.  “The Enterprise is our flagship, with the finest crew in the fleet.  I could not have even a hint of a problem.  When I saw the files from the good Doctor and Mr. Spock, I knew there was something wrong, and this time your body hadn’t been taken over by an old lover, or split into good and bad, or sent to another universe.  You were just sick, and needed help. We had to provide it somehow.  So I knew if we gave you something like a crisis, even you could see your timing was off.”

“And me being stuck up overbearing Jim Kirk, you knew I would do anything to keep this chair,” Jim said.

“It is where you belong, sair,” said Mr. Scott.

“So, no emergency?” Kirk said to the screen.

“Oh, the Romulans are there, but it’s their territory.  Now if the Enterprise feels like wandering by on patrol, sort of wave the flag, but stay on our side of the border, that might be a nice way to spend the day.  There are plenty of other problems for you folks that I’ve sent along in your mail.  Pick one.  Tomorrow.  For now, thank you Doctor and Mr. Spock for your help.  Komack out.”

The screen returned to the path of streaming stars.  Spock returned to his station.

Kirk turned to his doctor.

“Bones, what was that? What was really happening to me?”

The Doctor sighed.

“The Zandarians use the mind control on their people and their enemies, to make sure they had fewer enemies.  You and the security staff were the first humans they tried it on, and it gave you all a neurological disorder that as close as I can pin it down acted like a disorder that was on Earth for many centuries.  Multiple Sclerosis, but a very fast moving version. Progressive, it was called.”

Kirk nodded.

“I think I had a relative with that.  A great-great aunt or something.”

McCoy uh-huhed.

“Yes, it was easily treated but the large pharmaceutical companies of the time made more money treating and then inventing more symptoms than finding a cure.  It took the third world war to put a stop to that.  Whatever was left decided to work for the benefit of all.  They still made money but had all new challenges.  MS was forgotten. Until today.”

“Until now,” Kirk said.  “Security staff, how are they?”

“You know, Jim, I was amazed.  Here was a group of red shirted security people beaming down with you, and none of them died.  They all got the hypospray like you did, and are fine.  It was so easy to cure, treating the brain as a separate organic being.”

McCoy slapped his Captain on the side, and for some reason said “Buckle up!” and headed for the lift.

Kirk said for a moment, while the crew waited.

“Did I take naps?” he asked. “Here?”

“Yes, sir,” Sulu said, “every few hours.”

“They were from five point five four to twenty eight point thirteen minutes in duration,” added Spock.

Kirk sighed.

“And how long has this been going on? Seems like time was sort of off.”

“Seventeen days, three hours, twenty six minutes since we departed Zandaria 5 and Dr. McCoy noticed the symptoms. You have been rather uncooperative.”

Kirk rubbed his forehead. He should have been removed from command weeks ago.

“My apologies, ladies and gentlemen. But right now, I feel great.  Mr. Spock shall we go wave the flag?”

Spock considered that.

“There is no air in space to assist in the flag waving, Captain, but perhaps if the Romulans know the flagship of the Federation is in the area, they will remain on their best behavior.”

Kirk agreed.

“Mr.Chekov, come around to 92.62.7.  Mr. Sulu, warp four.  Let’s go.”

A yeoman came over and gave the Captain a coffee, just the way he liked it.

It was all just the way he liked it.  He was fortunate, his era was fortunate, that the diseases of the past that caused so much suffering to countless millions would remain there. In the past.

The Enterprise went to warp, and the adventure continued.

 Star Trek was created by Gene Roddenberry, and is the property of Paramount Pictures and CBS. No copyright infringement is intended.

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