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S1E10: The Corbomite Maneuver, Stardate 1512.2  
03:21pm 20/04/2011
 
 
Leonard 'Bones' McCoy, CMO
Today, a miracle occurred. He called the captain in for his quarterly physical check... and the man came. He'd dragged the captain in by his hair the last two times, by threat of reporting to Starfleet Medical and Lord knows who else that the captain of the USS Enterprise would not submit to the checks required of all officers of the line.

Star-mapping must be an uncommonly boring procedure.

He was almost done when, out of the corner of his eyes, he notes a flashing. Deep red, blood red, a very unwelcome color on this ship. But there's nothing over the intercom, so they aren't actively under attack... and Lord knows when he's going to get Kirk down here willingly ever again.

"Just a little bit more." He assures Jim, and he really can't help the smirk that rises from his captain's growled 'You're killing me, Bones'. Goddamn, if Kirk thought this was bad, saints keep him from the nastier sorts of drills performed on those trying to come back on to active duty after a severe injury. Compared to those, this is just a stroll in the park. Pointedly ignoring the alarm flashing, he studies Kirk's vital signs, noting that Kirk does seem to be a little off his game - a few less games of 3-D chess with Spock and a few more trips to the gym wouldn't do him any harm.

"Stop!" He nearly laughs when Kirk sighs in relief. "Winded?" He asks solicitously, and he supposes it would be better bed-side manner if he wasn't still smirking, but frankly, Kirk earned the look. If he came in regularly, as he was supposed to, this wouldn't be so bad.

"You'd be the last one I'd tell." Kirk grumbles, and he laughs, acknowledging the hit. Then his captain's face loses a little of it's open, relaxed expression, and McCoy mentally curses, but doesn't stop Kirk from heading to the nearest computer terminal.

Turns out they've been brought to a standstill by some bizarrely luminescent thing, something even Spock couldn't properly identify, and of course that meant the captain should be on the bridge. McCoy's power to keep the man here only extends so far, and a potential crisis beats out a routine physical any day of the week.

"You could see the alarm lights from there McCoy, why didn't you tell me?" Kirk's voice holds the warning grumble of a command officer feeling his rank a bit trampled, but McCoy refuses to flinch - not that it matters, Kirk is already striding towards the door, his command-gold tunic draped over his shoulders.
"I had to finish the physical on you, didn't I? What am I, a doctor or a moon shuttle conductor?" McCoy calls after him, pitching his voice to carry the querulous complaint into the hallway, to pursue his erstwhile captive. Raising an eyebrow, he continues his notes.
"If I jumped every time a light came on around here, I'd end up talking to myself."

_________________________________________________________________________


If he'd known then what he knows nearly a day later, he would have put his foot down and had them finish the damn physical. Eighteen hours, alternately spent pouring over data from the sensors trying to make sense of the bizarre thing blocking their path or sitting, listening to reports just as unhelpful as his own, on the railing surrounding the command deck. For a change of pace they take themselves into a conference room and try to bludgeon their tired brains into working properly again with coffee and yet another round of The Facts As We Know Them. At least, he's bludgeoning that bit of exhausted grey matter between his ears, and many of the others look whipped... no bets on Spock though. He's probably fresh as a daisy and wondering how these idiotic jumped-up apes managed to make it to the stars to begin with. Right now, he wishes they hadn't. He wishes he could convince himself to go take a breather at that bar at the end of the universe, maybe get Olya's take on all of this... but he knows he wouldn't be able to stand the idea that the whole time he was there, they'd be here, still stuck.

So he stays. And he drinks coffee that never had the benefit of once being plant matter. And he bites his tongue to avoid making sarcastic comments when they reach the decision to attempt to end-run their obstacle, come hell or high water.

________________________________________________________________________


He returns to his post, to his little mini-kingdom, to wait for the inevitable wave of injured. He can hear the engines revving, even in here, the heart of the ship, ramping up to the point that they are screaming, the deck plates vibrating under his feet. He spares a thought to pity Scotty, who must be catching it hot from a frustrated Kirk just about now. Alarms are starting to go off around sickbay, radiation warnings - whatever else that thing is, it's hot and pouring that sick heat right at them as it continues to baffle them.

Then the ship lurches, like a drunkard missing the step off a curb, and sends the lot of them sprawling - over beds, chairs, desks, rolling onto the floor without a shred of dignity. McCoy rubs at the shoulder he jammed up against a door frame and listens to the desperate whine of the engines die down, watches as the red-alert light stops flashing.

Well. Who'd've thunk it? They actually got around the damned thing. As soon as he sets his staff to dealing with the injured crew members that come in (fell off a ladder, injured by broken glass, knocked himself unconscious against the edge of a computer console) he heads towards the bridge, to make sure no one is playing hero.

_______________________________________________________________________


He sidles onto the bridge to find Kirk dressing down the helmsman and navigator, both looking sheepish and uncomfortable under the barrage. No, correction - the helmsman seems comfortable in his own skin, at least, but the navigator looks as jittery as a treed polecat. He remembers that one. Bailey, a recent promotion to the alpha crew, a recent promotion to the navigator's chair, young and, to McCoy's mind, greener than fresh-cut alfalfa. Kirk turns to leave the bridge, and McCoy falls in a half-step behind.
"Your timing is lousy, Jim." He mutters just loudly enough for Kirk to hear as they sweep into the turbolift. "The men are tired..." But Kirk's talking over him, his stubborn confidence over-ruling McCoy's concern. He waits with all the patience he can grab in both hands until it looks like Kirk might be quiet a moment, but it isn't to be.
"Aren't you the one who always says a little suffering is good for the soul?" Kirk asks with a grin, a teasing grin that makes him irrationally grumpy.
"I never say that." He grumbles, glaring at his captain. "I'm especially worried about Bailey - the navigator's position is rough enough for a seasoned man..." And once again Kirk is talking over him, dismissing his concerns with a wave of his hand.
"I'll think he'll cut it." McCoy rolls his eyes.
"Oh? I'm not so sure. Maybe you spotted something you like in him? Something... familiar, like yourself? Say... about, mmmm... eleven years ago?" He risks a side-long look, and knows he has struck gold in the Captain's exasperated gaze.
"Why doctor, have you been reading your books again?" He refuses to give in to the anger that Kirk wants - it will only distract him.
"Don't need textbooks to know you promoted him too fast - just listen to that voice..." The turbolift stops, and McCoy trails Kirk, unwilling to give up the argument just yet.

_________________________________________________________________

Captain's quarters, and McCoy pours them both a hefty dose of the whiskey Kirk keeps there (at McCoy's insistence, settling himself into the chair on the opposite side of the desk from Kirk.

"What's next? They're not machines, Jim?" Kirk sounds resigned, like he's humoring a over-worried mother hen.
"Why not? After what they've been through..." Again he's talked over, and it's getting old.
"Now Bones, I've heard you say that man is infinitely superior to any machine." McCoy's brought up short... because he has said that. Repeatedly. Usually while glaring at Spock.
"I never say that either." He grumbles, retreating a little to gather force for another sally... but then they are interrupted. Those damn efficiency drills, and they've done well - 94%, better, he knows, than most ships of the line on a good day. Kirk orders them to go for 100%, and McCoy glares, takes immediate umbrage on the crew's behalf.

That argument doesn't go too far either - they're interrupted again, this time by the Yeoman with the captain's supper. That, he has to admit, is damned funny. Seeing Kirk being efficiently put in his place by a mere strip of a girl is worth any number of arguments.

He commences giving Kirk hell about it, but the third interruption pays for all - there's another emergency, and the captain is needed on the bridge. McCoy finishes his drink and heads back to Sickbay - if the bridge needs a captain, sooner rather than later the sickbay will need its CMO.

____________________________________________________________________

He finds his crew working efficiently, prepping for disaster while hoping that nothing of the sort happens, stowing experiments brought out during the brief lull, locking down anything that might fly loose during evasive maneuvers.
Then something makes the whole room (and he suspects the whole ship) buzz like a live wire, consoles flashing on ad off at random. Then nothing - no explanation from the bridge, no further instructions. Warily they continue prepping, everyone moving as if the slightest untoward noise might bring the whole ship down on their heads... even him, damn it. These are times he hates this space travel and all of its opportunity for Death to come grab them at its leisure.
Then it comes again, louder, whole sections... whole rooms going dark momentarily before flickering back towards normalcy.

And then a voice.

A cold, steely voice he finds he doesn't like one little bit, and he can see the naked fear it evokes on the faces of his staff. Premonition (or just old-fashioned know-how about how the human mind works) is like ice down his spine, ad he hares off to the nearest turbolift. If there isn't a message from Jim hot on the heels of this voice, they won't have to wait for the owner of that voice to destroy them. They'll destroy themselves in their own terror.

__________________________________________________________________________

He steps onto the bridge, his eyes immediately drawn to the ship shown on the viewscreen - it looks ominous, though it looks like nothing more than like a especially ugly lampshade. Carefully he eases up next to the captain, continuing to watch the ship like one watches an angry snake.
"Balock's message was heard all over the ship." He warns, softly, knowing Kirk will understand - the risk of mutiny is always a frighteningly close one.

Deity, or deities, or some such thing, eh? He sends a thought at Olya, wondering if she'd hear it - sorry. Sorry, but I can't just run out on them. If he survives this, he's pretty sure he'll be catching hell for that for a long time, but that's fair, he supposes.

In the course of the next few minutes, he watches two things - a minor miracle, and the disintegration of a young boy's will. Kirk sends a message over the ship's intercom that would put the spine back into the most frightened crew member, even if McCoy doesn't believe a word of it - staring at that ugly-ass ship, he doesn't think that this bit of alien life can recognize them as friends. His own nerves are beating a rapid tattoo, urging him to run, or fight, or something other than stand here and pray that someone will find a way out. He manages to at least look impassive, long years as an emergency surgeon standing him in good stead.
But he isn't the only one who doesn't believe. Bailey suddenly gasps, and starts, and falls apart in pieces. He screams, horrified cutting words at the captain, at his friend Sulu, at all of them - are they machines? Don't they care? What is the use of military regulation if they are all going to die? Why aren't they fighting?. McCoy's afraid it is going to come to blows, that their last few minutes of life are going to be spent fighting this young man into submission. But Kirk's will is as strong... no, just a little bit stronger than Bailey's terror and exhaustion, and the boy backs down in the face of that will. He allows McCoy to herd him off the command deck, into the turbolift, and finally allows himself to be handed off to an orderly.
McCoy watches them go down the hall for a minute, watching the slump of the poor boy's shoulders. Fully enraged on the boy's behalf, he storms back to the bridge.

He is met squarely, his anger and the captain's frustration clashing and raising nearly visible sparks. He will log all of this in his medical notes, that is no idle threat. He may not be able to salvage Bailey, but he'll be damned if he'll let Kirk drive other familiar young men beyond the point of their own bravery. They both retreat, a little sheepishly - now is not the time. Later, perhaps, but not now, so close to the end. If they have to die, they shouldn't bickering about something already done.

This has been a week for miracles, and another occurs - Kirk is suddenly animated by a stroke of brilliance, bluffing out an impossible gambit - with two minutes to spare, it's worth the risk as he spins a completely ridiculous story about Corbomite, the fictitious material that may save them all. In the silence that falls after that inspired pack of lies, McCoy steps behind Kirk's chair again.

"Doc." Kirk looks up briefly, but not for long, keeping a weather eye on that ugly ball of destruction. "Sorry."
It's not what he expected to hear, it's more what he expected to say, and he hastens to match it.
"Not your fault, you had other things on your mind." He grins, a wry grin, but he's looking at that ship too, not at his long-time friend. "I really don't know how you kept from punching me in the face." A less patient captain might have, or worse.
The countdown reaches one minute, and they draw closer, as if their closeness could keep them from dying at the hands of this unknown foe.

The bridge doors open. Bailey, looking drawn but resolute, steps on to the bridge, in as perfect military form as any drill sergeant could want.
"Request permission to return to post." Goddamn. Kirk saw it, even if he didn't, that core of steel that might, one day, make a brilliant captain if encouraged enough.

He still thinks the boy was worked too hard, too quickly, but maybe he can tone the language down a hair in the medical notes.

The countdown ends.

Nothing happens.

His own nerves feel as near to breaking as Bailey's had been moments before, but suddenly Kirk looks cool as a cucumber. What follows is as pretty a piece of poker playing as he's ever seen... though the results aren't quite what one would hope. They are being hauled to a planet, there to be kept until they die, evidently. Kirk orders a waiting game, and McCoy settles into his accustomed perch on the command deck's railing. Eventually (and it is a very long eventually) Kirk makes his move, slowly easing the engines into reverse to try and break the hold Balock's ship has on them. The ride gets rough, and he hopes like hell everyone's hanging on. Their engines are overloading, and he tries not to think of the Engineering crew blown to hell, of the whole ship blown to hell as the massive reactors this ship is built on overload and destroy them all.

Then they are free, and he wants to jump for joy, and somehow manages not to. He expects a fast retreat... and doesn't get it.

Balock's ship is in trouble. There's precious little change anyone besides their own sweet selves heard the call for help. And Kirk is determined to go help them. McCoy tries to protest (you don't go over and pet the dog that just tried to savage your throat) but he's rapidly reminded just how long the last few days have been in the sharpness of Kirk's answer. For his pains, he's detailed to come along on this little rescue mission - him, Kirk... and Bailey.

Maybe those medical logs will be full of fire and brimstone after all.

_________________________________________________________________________

They have to use transporter beams to go ship to ship, something he makes sure Kirk is completely clear on his aggravation over. They have to crouch to fit the tight quarters of the alien ship. They are cautious and careful, chills ruing down his spine when they spot Balock, the harsh features just as rigid ad fearsome here as they were on the viewscreen.

...

Rigid. That is the word for it, alright - this Balock is a dummy, a fake, and they could have knocked him down with a feather when they found the real one - the only one, it seems, one alien to test ad probe their intentions. And damned if he doesn't look like a slightly demented child. Through the horribly awkward interview that follows, he keeps expecting someone to announce this has has all been a very long, very unfunny joke, but it's not. An alien who looks like a child and talks like they have no right at all to be angry for being bullied for the last three days manages to charm the captain into allowing Bailey to stay on board, as a 'cultural exchange'.

All he knows is he really hopes, next time he goes to the bar, there won't be any bald-headed children there. He isn't sure he'd live down the girly screams.
 
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08:35pm 28/03/2011
 
 
Leonard 'Bones' McCoy, CMO
It is a day that calls for overcast clouds - his sickbay has been packed full of ensigns all day long after a training drill went horribly wrong. No one died, no one was even permanently mauled, but by the end of the shift, his patients were practically running away from him. So after Alpha shift ended and he ensured that the ensigns that needed further observation were staying put, he put that tattoo to the test.

He stopped by the bar to fetch something to eat on the off chance Olga was at the apartment - catfish and collard greens, and heads on up. He's not sure how other CMOs do it, but for him? Nothing's better after a long day than not being on board ship.
 
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10:23pm 08/12/2010
 
 
Leonard 'Bones' McCoy, CMO
McCoy has fallen into a rhythm in the bar - waking up late (for him), coming down eventually to see if anything particularly interesting is going on, pick up something for lunch, trade in a stack of videos for a brand new stack of videos, and go back upstairs.

This morning, he is downstairs much earlier.

He is in uniform for the first time in a week.

And he doesn't detour at the Bar, striding straight to the door, no pauses, no stops, just a quick trip to the front door, which hisses open obligingly, dragging him back aboard his shipboard life.

If he were to stop, he'd never make it through that door.
 
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S1E9: The Dagger of the Mind, Stardate: 2715.1  
01:12am 08/12/2010
 
 
Leonard 'Bones' McCoy, CMO
With the members of the away team back up to full health, and his own 'miraculous' recovery put down to the stronger dose of the medication, life on board ship settles into a familiar routine. During the day he deals with the minor injuries that crop up, works on his experiments, talks to the crewmembers who have problems dealing with shipboard life. Dinner is taken either in one of the recreation rooms, or in the Captain's quarters, as Kirk sees fit. Assuming he doesn't have any patients to care for, he stays with the Captain in the evening, joining Kirk and Spock as they tour the ship, making sure everything was squared away at the end of the day.

The end of the day is the worst, facing an empty bunk, knowing (hoping, he hasn't tried it yet) that the bar (Olya) is only a thought away. But if he doesn't stick with it, not just escaping every time he thinks of it, he'll lose his life here. So he doesn't give in to temptation, and stays in the routine.

With the routine, old problems return as well - including the problem of a ship captained by one of the most charismatic men in the galaxy. Usually when crewmembers are transferred to the Enterprise, they've served long enough to be deeply professional and keep their personal opinions of the command crew to themselves.

Some people just don't learn that.

On his psychiatric team is a very lovely young lady, Dr. Helen Noel. A very intelligent, driven... and somewhat obsessed young lady. He's always warning Kirk that his personal attitude with the crew is going to get him in trouble one of these days, but that is a losing battle. Just a few weeks prior, at the science lab's Christmas party, a tipsy Dr. Noel fell into the Captain's arms, much to her delight and his discomfort. The Captain was good enough to see her back to her quarters so she wouldn't pass out under a table or in a corridor somewhere... but she'd become focused on that event, even if nothing had actually happened.

The captain, wisely (for once) kept his distance from Dr. Noel studiously, hoping distance and time would bring her to her senses. Bones wasn't quite so hopeful.

A week after his return, just a few days out from the Tantalus V penal colony they're bringing supplies too, McCoy is hip deep in paperwork. He has started the quarterly physical exams of the crew, starting in Engineering. He doesn't even hear someone come up behind him until there are hands on his shoulders, small delicate hands that he doesn't immediately recognize. He turns, startled.

Well.

Isn't that a low-cut dress?

"You've been working too hard, Leonard." A few months ago, he would have been severely tempted, though he already knows where this is going. It isn't the first time someone who is after the captain has turned their attentions on him, hoping to get closer to their goal by association.







"Go to bed, Dr. Noel." He sighs, the sternness of his expression forbidding any further attempts on her part. He's going to have to bring this to Kirk's attention. It's just too damn bad - she is a very good psychiatrist, actually.
 
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08:31pm 22/11/2010
 
 
Leonard 'Bones' McCoy, CMO
McCoy is awake, standing at the bay window, watching the sun rise over the mountains, a steaming mug of coffee in his hands.

It's been a week.

He has to go back. If he doesn't go back, there will never be a day where he'll up and decide to go back. It will be put off and put off until he's forgotten there ever was a Starship Enterprise.

Knowing he should doesn't make it any easier.
 
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10:12pm 04/11/2010
 
 
Leonard 'Bones' McCoy, CMO
He doesn't even have time to complain about the blatant cheating before exhaustion drags him under. And he stays there for hours, longer than a simple nap.

Slowly he wakes up, hitching himself up by stages. The dark behind his eyelids is still very inviting, but it is no longer irresistible when he blinks blearily at the ceiling.

The... ceiling? For a long moment he cannot remember where he is, or how he got there. It's familiar, but not the ceiling he has been staring at for the last week. Not the ship either... oh. Memory finally catches up with him, and he relaxes back against the bed.

Now. To get up. ... And, evidently, parade around the apartment stark naked.
 
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Conversations with Dead People  
09:09am 29/10/2010
 
 
Leonard 'Bones' McCoy, CMO
San Francisco hasn't seemed to change much since he last saw it. He finds himself strolling along the ancient Golden Gate Bridge, still an engineering marvel centuries after it was made. A breeze is up, bringing the wild salty smell of the ocean into the bay and pushing the morning's fog away, but it isn't loud enough to muffle the sound of footsteps beside him, sharp against the concrete. Today is too beautiful to waste walking alone.

"I did miss it here, you know." She says, her long dark hair disarrayed by the wind, made slightly frizzy by the moisture in the air. "The ocean, the green hills, all the people. Bob always did pick the most dreadfully dusty and lonely planets." It's easy between them, just like before. It was once always like this, when they could steal time to spend together - strolls through the Golden Gate Park or the Presidio under the cover of enveloping fog, wandering along the piers with a shared umbrella on a rainy Sunday morning, spending a rare free afternoon enjoying even rarer summer sunshine. It used to always be like this, before they went their separate ways.

"You didn't have to leave." He points out, to make things fair, studying the view from the bridge as they walk along. The infamous Alcatraz Island, Angel island, Treasure island off in the distance, the green coastal ranges stretching away to the north and south, San Francisco glittering the in the afternoon sun. "You chose to transfer to Carter's mission, as their medical officer."

"Yes... yes I did." She sounds so sad and wistful, and soon she stops to lean against the waist-high railing, staring out at the golden sun-baked land far-off to the east, across the bay. He settles in alongside her, studying her profile, partially obscured by her hair in the breeze.

"I had to leave because the man I loved was still in love with someone else." He can barely make out the words, she's speaking so softly. "I couldn't be second like that, not forever." She looks at him, side-long, her dark eyes serious and... accusing, he realizes, after a moment of study. "And you weren't giving me any hope, Plum."

He splutters in protest - sure, their relationship never became serious, but it never really had the chance to. They had known each other from before his marriage, back in Georgia, and finding her here had been as much a surprise to him as anyone else. He'd only just started with StarFleet General when they'd run into each other in one of the biometrics labs, and the powers that be had been busy running him ragged, and she had been equally focused on her own career. But she doesn't let him argue his case, as she goes back to studying the distant shore.

"You were still in love with Susan, no matter how much she hurt you. And so I had to go - I couldn't spend my whole life waiting for you to come to your senses."

And then, finally, she turns to face him fully. He starts back in surprise and horror, his heart suddenly crammed into his throat. Part of her face has been eaten away by the dessicated sand of that miserable planet she died on, years ago.
"So I spent my life on a planet that doesn't have a proper name any more, replaced by the creature that killed me." She cries bitterly, all the warmth gone out of her voice, and when he retreats again, expecting to get fetched up against the railing at any second, his feet meet open air instead. Then there is only loss, and falling.
 
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11:18pm 23/10/2010
 
 
Leonard 'Bones' McCoy, CMO
The lights of their apartment come up in the way he is used to lights coming on the way he is used to lights coming on - smoothing increasing from dark to light with barely a hitch inbetween. The apartment is the same as before - a naturally quirky Victorian that's slightly stark thanks to the driven surgeon who had made this his home once upon a time.

He always meant to take time off, decorate the place a little more elaborately, set it up to be more of a home than a place to collapse after long shifts. Maybe now's time.

But right now he can do something about these damned boots. Some day he is going to both fund and write a paper outlining the evils of these boots, and he'll stuff it down the throats of every lazy ass on the Starfleet Surgeon General's board.
 
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Stardate: 2713.6: Miri  
02:05pm 21/10/2010
 
 
Leonard 'Bones' McCoy, CMO
Now, to be very strict about it, he wasn't called to the bridge. Actually, no one paged him at all, which he found a crying shame. The last time they approached a planet and he hadn't been on the bridge, the Captain had gotten himself duplicated again.

Perhaps there isn't a direct correlation, but forgive him for being a bit spooked about the whole thing. So he takes himself up there (lack of invitation be damned), taking a place at the rail as the new planet edges closer and closer in their viewscreen.

For a moment, his heart lurches. Earth. Home. Then common sense returns, and of course it's not the Earth, space doesn't bend in half like a cheap piece of paper and let you waltz half-way across the galaxy in the time between breakfast and lunch. There's a distress signal coming from what looks to be the spitting image of the North American Continent... and of course the Captain wants to beam down.

At least he's taking company this time. McCoy invites himself along, just to be extra-sure. Someone has to be the voice of reason here, and it doesn't look like Spock is going to fill that role today. The Captain takes a bit of convincing, but a good few solid minutes of rambling on about medical response times and the vagaries of transporter technology, and the man finally sees the light.

It's only then he realizes that he just volunteered to use that thrice-damned transporter beam. Well, hell.
________________________________________________

The air is arid, dusty with a dank taste to it, like decay gone mad. McCoy takes an instant dislike to this world, with it's ghost-town look and it's graveyard ambiance. There's a sizable group of them down here - the Captain looking curious, Spock hunched over his tricorder like some elfish vulture, Yeoman Rand looking honestly bewildered and frightened... remind him again how she was rated high enough to earn a berth on a starship? Command Central must be mad. There are two security crewmen as well, which is two to few in McCoy's estimation. He had brought that up, of course, but was immediately shot down, the Captain and Spock's weapons and martial arts training brought up as examples. McCoy wasn't impressed, but he was outranked.

They stroll down one of the dusty streets like a gang of gunslingers wandering into town. The setting is right for it - there are even tumbleweeds. What there isn't is a living soul to greet them. 1960's-era surroundings, Spock estimates, which is just about the most depressing thing he's run across lately.
"Well, this is marvelous." He drawls at the Vulcan, incredulity and dislike of his surroundings strengthening his accent. "The most horrible conglomeration of antique architecture I've ever seen." He notes that neither the Vulcan or the Yeoman disagree with him.
________________________________________________

Frankly, the mission is beginning to look like a bit of a wash - after an hour wandering the place, there still aren't any signs of recent life, and McCoy's mood is descending into the decidedly depressed. Objects were left in random, bizarre places, like whoever had them at the time had simply abandoned them and fled. In the center of one of the streets, a small drift of abandoned objects had formed, probably decades (if not centuries) ago - part of a chair, an old baby buggy, an old-style tricycle. Kirk picks up the child's toy and examines it, like it could explain where all of the missing people have gone. It is passed to Spock, who gives it a somewhat unimpressed glance, and then he ends up with it. Gently, thinking of the child who once played with this now-rusted toy, he places it back in the heap it came from, idly spinning one if its back wheels. Something horrible happened here - you don't have to be as smart as Spock, or as sensitive as Olya (damn, but he's glad she isn't here) to figure that one out.

"Mine!" The cry is agonized, and barely recognizable as speech... and it is very nearby, McCoy realizes in a rush. He spins on his heels to face this new threat but too late, the breath in his lungs knocked clean out when he is tackled broadsides. He had the brief impression of a raggedy form, a furious face, but now the world has closed down to a weight pinning hims down, lank greasy hair in his face, and a lack of oxygen. There are strong, desperate hands around his throat, preventing him from drawing a decent breath to call out for help. The best he can do is try and push his attacker away, but the world is greying out ominously as the seconds tick by without oxygen. Then, suddenly, miraculously, his attacker is hauled off him. He manages to almost drunkenly scramble out of the way when the melee swings back in his direction, and hands catch him from behind. He almost fights off this new person as well, before he realizes it's the Yeoman, somewhat ineffectually attempting to help.

There is the sound of a fist connecting with flesh, and he focuses to see his Captain and Spock beating his attacker between them. Finally the... man? Creature? Goes down, upon the drift of abandoned objects. McCoy edges closer, the Yeoman staying close... too close, the girl must be frightened out of her wits, and he realizes that it's a human. Or at least heavily humanoid, being of the right build but with wildly distorted features. Bizarrely, he is speaking what sounds like English.

"It's.... broke." The man wails, sounding so forlorn McCoy can't help but pity him. "Somebody... broke it! Fix?" He looks up at them imploringly, like a lost child. "Somebody... please fix?"
McCoy reaches out a hand to soothe, unable to hold a grudge against his attacker. "Of course somebody will fix it." He assures the man-child, as the Captain and Spock state the obvious about this being a humanoid with only very basic emotional responses. But the sobbing is... wrong. Gasping, almost, pained... Shit. He delves into his emergency kit while the Captain demands an explanation. The creature's responses become more and more erratic, and in just seconds, he suddenly stops, and relaxes into the dirt.

Too relaxed.

McCoy scans him, but he already knows what a dead body looks like. The readings don't make sense though - not even hummingbirds have a metabolic rate this high. This creature would have needed to eat constantly, and then some, just to stay level. Something this complex should not have the projected life span of a mayfly.

The Captain hears something, starting like a deer, and damn if the man doesn't run like one too... just towards the source of danger instead of away. McCoy hates to leave the dead creature alone in the street like that, but if his Captain is going to run head-long in to danger, someone has to tag along and patch the idiot back together after the inevitable injury.
________________________________________________

They've one into one of the abandoned houses, which is just as ruined as the streets outside, the Captain chasing whatever it is he heard.

There's a thump from the closet, and McCoy briefly wonders if was such a bright idea, inviting himself along on this rollercoaster ride. He keeps the Yeoman back, far enough away from the closet and the armed men descending on it that if a fight breaks out, he can get her back to the street and relative safety.

They storm the closet.

Inside is one lonely, terrified teenaged girl. A decidedly healthy, human-appearing girl. He lets the Yeoman sweep by him, listens as she tries to talk the girl down, ignores the Captain and his orders about perimeters and sweeps.

The girl is on the ragged edge, staring at them all like they might decide to kill her without a second's warning. For the second time today, he is moved to pity.

"I wonder what happened to her." He muses to Kirk, keeping his voice low to keep from scaring the poor mite, "That she'd be so terrified of us."
________________________________________________

Eventually she calms down enough to talk, but she seems to think it's some sort of game - a very dangerous game if her nervousness means anything. She uses odd language interspersed with normal English - Grubs (or Grups - their diction, he finds, is somewhat lacking at times) for grownups, Onlies for children, Fooly for game. She seems bewildered when they don't know the right words, or when they don't know the history of this place. He was right, something horrible did happen here - sounds like a plague, but something that got only the adults, and left the children. Children, plural - there are more, it seems... all that are left. Kirk gives them a look, and he and the Yeoman retreat a bit. He's seen that man charm creatures more horrible than one teenaged girl, and while it's a bit unfair to use a weapon of that strength against her, they need more information. It is frankly amazing how fast the girl falls under his spell, but at least she's calm. He checks her out briefly, but there's apparently nothing medically wrong with her.

Spock returns then, with a story about children running wild, attacking and then disappearing into the shadows. He wonders if that man-child they left in the street was one of the plague's victims... but it would have to be a horrifically virulent virus to still be in effect centuries after the first outbreak. Then again... if this thing wiped out the population centuries ago, how does a young girl know about it, remember it? None if it makes sense.

None of it keeps him from hissing a curse word he shouldn't say around a child when he spots the oddly crusted lesion on Kirk's hand. Horribly virulent, and still in effect. Just once today, he'd like to be wrong.
________________________________________________

The hospital the girl Miri leads them to is so antiquated it makes his head hurt - they're still using glass lenses in the microscopes, for God's sake. Then the other shoe falls, landing with a thud.

They're all contaminated. He finds one of the lesions on his inner wrist while trying to examine Kirk's hand, the Yeoman has one on her neck, both of the security boys have palm-sized lesions on their legs. The only one who has escaped unmarked thus far, damn his luck, is Spock. He supposes he ought to be grateful that someone isn't falling under his purview, but right now he's doing his best to keep his own panic on a short leash. He does what he was trained to do - get samples, run diagnostics, try to figure what the hell is going on.

And do his damnedest to ignore the creeping idea that his old enemy, death, just might win this round.

"Bones?" How Kirk still sounds so damn light-hearted, he'll never know. He hums an inquisitive response, still hunched over the antiquated microscope.
"Why do you think the symptoms haven't appeared on Mister Spock?" Purposeful baiting (with horrible mis-use of medical terminology) - the Captain is trying to up the morale of his crew. It's obvious, and McCoy falls in line with it obligingly. He knows full well that some amongst the crew think he actually hates Spock, which is somewhat laughable. He finds the man bewildering, downright annoying at times, but he honestly enjoys sparring with him. So despite rising panic and dismay, he sits back on the lab stool and eyes the Vulcan speculatively.
"I don't know." He musters up a crooked grin for Kirk. "Must be the little bugs or whatever they are have no appetite for green blood." First move made, he returns to his microscope work, only not cursing because of Miri standing not two feet away.
"Being a red-blooded human obviously has it's... disadvantages." Spock returns, but McCoy ignores it. It's a weak attempt - the Vulcan will have to do better than that. He peripherally senses Spock prowling around behind him, peering over his shoulder.
And then Spock starts in on just how anciently horrible this thrice-damned microscope is. That he deems fully worthy of a response, and turns to retaliate in kind.
"Spare me the analysis, Mister Spock. It's enough that it works." There must have been something in his voice - something beyond the usual grumble of a riled country doctor, because Spock backs off without another word.

There's another lesion, over the knuckles of his right hand. It wasn't there a second ago.
________________________________________________

They discover what the geniuses of this planet did to themselves - they wanted to live forever, so they created a new series of superviruses to re-shape and re-engineer their own cells. Well. That just worked brilliantly, didn't it? Turns out the only ones living forever are the ones who haven't yet become adults - enter puberty, and your life can be measured in weeks, if not days. The older you are, the faster it works, which isn't good news for him. And they can't use Spock as a courier between here and the ship - turns out he's a carrier, just as contagious as the rest of them. Still, they have the ship's computers and labs, if not directly, and with Spock's estimated time until this thing kills them being seven days, he's not terribly worried now that he's got a handle on it. It won't be fun, but it's doable.

Then a sound that raises all the hairs on the back of his neck - children's voices, singing a nonsense taunting song, somewhere nearby, as if in the walls, or the room next door. They all bolt into the hallway, trying to catch a glimpse of the elusive children, but they've disappeared again, like smoke.

And the communicators have gone with them.

That takes a moment to sink in - the full horror of it. Without communicators, they can't reach the Enterprise. Kirk has already left standing orders that the ship's crew is not to follow them down, and rightly too... but that also means there won't be a rescue.

No ship. No labs, no computers, no way of quickly processing data other than the simple machines already sent down. It's only long training that a doctor does not panic in front of his patients that keeps him from breaking down entirely. This has suddenly gone from doable to well-nigh impossible, all within a matter of minutes.
________________________________________________

Just once on this damned mission, he wants to be wrong. He wasn't wrong about the initial symptoms of the virus - his temper is short, his vision keeps blurring out, and his fingers burn like he just stuck them in the the Enterprise's engine core. He checks doors before stepping through them now - while he would desperately take the help afforded at that magical bar he's come to think of as a home away from home, the damage he could do by spreading this virus there is immeasurable. He thinks about asking Kirk and Spock if they know and visit that bar as well, to warn them against trying to go there... but he decides against it. He doesn't want them thinking he's already gone mad.

They make progress. Slow, agonizing, frustrating progress that makes him wonder if whoever created this damn thing wasn't mad to begin with, to create something so convoluted. They manage to isolate the virus, but each successive step goes by agonizingly slow. Their seven days dwindles to three, then two, then... only hours, maybe minutes remain. They've managed to keep from starving thanks to the supplies they already had beamed down, but it's becoming harder and harder to think rationally, or at all. They manage to get together something that could very well be the treatment they need, but it could also very well be too hot to use as therapy, instead just being a double dose of the disease already ravaging their systems. They need those computers! Shy of that, one of them needs to try the vaccine - what is the point of waiting now? The end isn't that far away, hastening it by a few minutes sure as hell isn't that scary when the option is death within the hour or within the half-hour. The options for who takes it are fairly limited - basically, only three people are eligable. The security team is ruled out, because they need protection if nothing else. Spock won't work, he isn't visibly showing signs, and with the equipment he has, visual measurable signs are his most reliable bit of data. So it is down to the Captain, Rand, or himself. None of those are pleasant options.

Then Rand disappears, along with the girl-child Miri. The Captain goes after them, but minutes stretch away and neither of them return. He knows death is coming, he's seen what it will look like already, and he truly, deeply does not want to see it again.

And he's now alone. In the lab, with the vaccine. Spock's gone outside, to check to see if the Captain has come back, and to check on the security crewmen. He won't be back for at least a few minutes.

If they're wrong, Spock will have time to modify the mixture and try again.

If they're right, there's no point waiting.

He rips his sleeve to expose the ulnar vein, casting a quick glance at the door of the lab as he does so. The coast is clear.

This is, most likely, the most idiotic thing he's done in his life. But it has to be done, and he sends up a prayer to whoever it is who looks after poor benighted dying doctors before centering the hypospray over his vein and shooting the ruby-red liquid into his body.

For a moment, all is well.

Pain! Like all of his nerves screaming at once, and he bites back a cry. It eases off, and he manages to put the hypospray down without damaging it or changing the settings.

And again! Worse this time, if anything, and the world is fading out. Oh God, they were wrong. But he can do one last bit of good for his friends before this damned virus gets him. The more time Spock has to re-calibrate the medication, the better chance the remaining away team will survive.
"SPOCK!" He howls, at the top of his lungs, and that effort undoes him. He can feel himself slide off of the laboratory bench he'd fallen onto, but he can't do anything to stop his fall.

He never feels himself hit the floor.
 
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07:35pm 22/08/2010
 
 
Leonard 'Bones' McCoy, CMO
It's late afternoon and warm up in the hayloft, the sounds of the animals below muffled to almost indistinction, dust-motes dancing in the ambient light.

It would be a fantastic place for a nap.

It is an even better place to one space-faring doctor to re-make the close acquaintance of a beguiling woman he met in a bar.

Or at least, that's how it would read if it were a romance novel.
 
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