Ah well, never mind, thought Kirk. Daydreaming serves no purpose. If I took all these risks it's to give Spock the chance to have it off. Of course, if he can't... er… weIl, he will certainly snuff it, and that would indeed bother me! As I've already told him, he's the best First Officer in Starfleet; furthermore he also serves as Science Officer, and who's the smart guy who gets a bonus on his pay check for having managed to save a full officer's salary for Starfleet? That's a trick I couldn't pull twice, for sure. Well, l hope the game's worth the candle, and that Spock will make good at the first opportunity. I know his family has great influence in the higher spheres of the Federation.
Such were Kirk's reflections in the turbolift that sped him, with Spock and McCoy, to the transporter room where they would beam down to the arid planet that was Spock's native world. McCoy seemed delighted to have been invited - He probably expects they'll serve Saurian brandy at the reception, Kirk thought unkindly - and Spock looked like a clam, or an oyster minus the pearl.
When they materialised near the site of Koon-ut-kal-if-fee, Kirk could hardly believe his eyes. The place looked like one of those 20th century amphitheatres where ridiculously bedecked barbarians used to butcher helpless bovines. What was more, the heat was sizzling, and water fountains and facilities were nowhere to be seen.
Naturally Spock couldn't care less. He has other fish ta fry, and furthermore, Vulcans don't possess sweat glands. That may be pleasant for the neighbourhood, but this is really tao much! Nothing ta drink, no shade, no place ta freshen up... What is this? A bad dream?
Poor Kirk's surprises were not over yet. As the ceremony proceeded steadily, and as unbelievable stupidities were exchanged by the parties involved - and one of those parties suddenly turned out to be Kirk himself, without him quite knowing what the hell he was doing there - Kirk felt his irritation increase in inverse ratio to the square of the distance... Oops, the narrator has let his enthusiasm run away with him... not taking the exponential curve of the hypotenuse into account, of course.
The collective insanity Spock had told them about seemed to be quite normal to the participants. The weirdest and most illogical things happened without any of the attending Vulcans so much as raising an eyebrow. Kirk really began to find the whole procedure a bit thick when Spock strove to throttle him, and apparently succeeded in his enterprise.
There's my Spock, thought Kirk, moved in spite of himself and of his precarious situation. Whatever he undertakes, with that brilliant intellect he has he always comes off with flying colours. Although in the present circumstances, I’d rather have him come a cropper!
The mental link they shared rang with the warning outcry that Kirk, ignoring the Vulcan's sharp hearing, blasted on the line. Sure enough, it did not fail to produce an effect Spock, shocked by the deafening mental assault, let his Captain's body flop in the dust, thus carving a good-sized dent in the ground due to Vulcan gravity.
However, one must admit that this was also due to the Captain's intrinsic mass, a good portion of which was pleasantly distributed on the plump bottom, so nicely enhanced by those tight-fitting black pants, especially when he threw out his chest to conceal his stomach. Lavoisier’s law of physics - "Nothing is lost, nothing is created, aIl is transformed' - coming into effect, what disappeared in front reappeared at the back... (Er ... kindly excuse the narrator. This has nothing to do with the plot. Ahem. To continue...)
Then things moved swiftly for the survivors, and the 'corpse’. which McCoy's potion had paralysed and struck dumb but which could see and hear everything, thought that it served Spock right. That would teach him to behave like a pre-Reform savage.
It’s a good thing I’m not dead, Kirk thought happily. Not only am I delighted to be still alive, what with all those marvellous adventures still awaiting me, not to mention the easy pile of dollars [rom the film's copyright, but this also gives me the chance to relish my revenge, for poor Spock looks really distressed at having bumped me off. All the same, I'd better keep a sharp eye on that guy. These Vulcans are real weird types, sometimes. I wonder where on earth they got this incredible fuddy-duddy ceremony. l've seen 20th century movies that came out more real than this. And the costumes - good lord, the costumes! And Kirk convulsed with inward laughter that did him as much good as a filet mignon.
Suddenly the universe dissolved around him, and he came round on a bunk in Sickbay with McCoy's smug grin planted right in his eyes - and something else planted in his backside.
"How come you always give me shots in my buttocks, while you give them to Spock in his shoulder? It hurts!" he complained, rubbing at the offending portion of his anatomy. “I”m waiting for an explanation, Bones!"
"And how do you expect me to give Spock an injection into thin air, Captain? Have you ever noticed that his backside is concave?"
"I've never paid any attention to Spock's backside." Kirk lied, "but that's neither here nor there. Okay. forget it, Bones." he sighed, and getting to his feet he accepted a Saurian brandy to help him get over the shock.
The good Doctor took one as well to get over his shock, for he had feared, for one awful moment, that he had mixed up the hypos and instead of the neural paralyser had shot Kirk with the emergency dose of Saurian brandy he always kept in his medikit. Not only would the expected effect have misfired, causing Kirk's demise, but more critical still, a Saurian brandy matured in cask for more than 200 years would have been irretrievably lost. Scotty, who had presented him with the bottle, would never have forgiven such a sacrilege.
Eventually Spock beamed back on board and Kirk let him stew in his own juice before letting him know that he had not, after all, killed his Captain. Upon reflection, however, Kirk was somewhat surprised at Spock. How could he believe him dead? Theoretically their mental link ought to have warned the Vulcan that his revered Captain was only paralysed, and not even unconscious.
Well, all things considered, Kirk thought, I’m alive, that’s all that matters.No point in holding forth about it. But I wonder what happened between him and T'Pring after we left?
At that very moment, before Kirk could speak, McCoy, ail agog, asked, "WeIl, Spock, what happened? The girl? The wedding?"
"When 1 thought 1 had killed the Captain," Spock explained, "1 realised that the blood fever had gone."
Kirk and McCoy exchanged a glance.
"But Spock." McCoy resumed, "vou said vou wouId die if vou couldn t… I mean, if you and TPring ... "
"Indeed. Doctor, 1 needed a phvsical outlet for my condition," Spock replied deadpan. "However, as a physician you do not need me to tell you that there are wavs and means for a male to alleviate such physical discornfort."
His blue eyes on stalks, McCoy gaped at Spock, while Kirk, who couldn't believe his ears, was left speechless.
"For Pete's sake, Spock!" McCoy sputtered out. "You don't mean to say that you could solve your problem all by yourself?"
A haughty eyebrow angled upward. "Naturally. Doctor." Spock retorted with stiff dignity. "1 am quite capable of satisfying myself."
Kirk, unable to control himself any longer, roared, "Spock! You have the gall to tell me that we've done all this ... that 1 risked my career, my reputation, my life, to bring you to Vulcan, when all you had to do was ... was to ... ?"
“Yes, indeed, Jim.”
Then something incredible occurred. Kirk and McCoy, who had aIready been favoured with a dazzling srnile by their Vulcan friend, now had the stupefaction of seeing him suddenly burst into laughter.
Good heavens! Kirk thought. What's that? Spock roaring with laughter? It has to be seen to be believed. I must admit that laughter suits him - he looks cute with those dark eyes all a-crinkle. I wonder, though, what the heck he can find 50 amusing? I see nothing funny in the fact that I'll probably be kicked out of Starfleet for dereliction of duty.
Recovering some of his poise, the Captain of the Enterprise took the floor. "Come on, Spock - tell us what's going on. I can hardlv understand your hilarity."
"Captain ... Jim ... Doctor..." Spock broke off, choking with mirth. "Yes, it’s, right, you didn't have to take me to Vu1can... " His attempt at explanation, interrupted by hoots of laughter, did nothing to set his friends' minds at rest regarding his mental state.
The Vulcan finally managed to quieten down long enough to utter a full sentence. "As 1 already told you, there is at this moment on Vulcan a very special event which takes place once every seven years in the month of T'Knaht. It is a very ancient tradition going back to the Time of the Beginning. We call it the Koon-ut-kal-if-fee. AlI Vulcans must participate."
"Yes, Spock; we know all that. But 1 don’t see the connection."
"You have a similar custom on Terra, with the difference that the ritual takes place every year, not every seven years. It happens on April 1st, and 1 believe you call it April Fool's day."
"April Fool's dav?!" two voices chorused.
"Yes. My grandmother T'Pau is at this very moment despatching a subspace message to Admiral Komack to inform him that the delay of the Enterprise is due to a "very ancient Vulcan ritual which 1 had to attend. My grandmother holds some influence, Captain, and your career will not suffer in the least. 1 wouldn't have it otherwise. Also 1 must emphasise that your life was never in danger; even without McCoy's subterfuge our mental link would have warned me of any difficulty in your physical condition, Jim."
"Hmm, all the same 1 was obliged to shout my head off in your mind for you to release me, Spock. You were strangling me."
"Just a perfectly harmless Aïkido grip, Captain."
"Spock, does this have something to do with the fact that we've often blamed you for lacking a sense of humour? If it has, 1 think 1 can promise you that we'll never again bring such an accusation, will we, Bones?"
"For sure," grunted the Doctor, who felt that this time he certainly would not have the last word.
"One thing surprises me, gentlemen," Spock resumed. "1 wonder how, knowing the Vulcans for a logical and civilised people, you could have believed that incredible pageant was real. 1 truly thought, at first, that my grandmother had rather overdone it and that you would see that everything was faked." Spock started laughing again. "And when 1 saw the cardboard rocks - cardboard, mind you! - that they used for scenery, 1 thought you would catch on immediately. Fortunately you did not, and we were able to carry out the whole show."
Spock dissolved into laughter again, in which his two friends heartily joined, tickled by the humour of the situation.
Inwardly Kirk thought, Thank god it's only once every seven years! That'll give us time to recover, and be better prepared for the next time. All the same ... Spock, you tricky Vulcan ... !
Meanwhile, back on Vulcan T'Pau was quite satisfied with the smooth running of the ceremony. Spock had provided the basic material and she had elaborated on the details. She was particularly pleased with the sedan chair in which she had made a spectacular entrance. That was an excellent idea. and she had noticed that Spock was impressed. Spock's young cousin and her husband Stonn had also played their parts admirably. Poor T'Pring, who would not hurt a fly - assuming there were flies on Vulcan. She had remarkably personified the cold and scheming bitch whose model had been proposed by Spock. On the other hand, the costumes which Spock had recommended by sending the copies of old 20th century historic movies were terribly uncomfortable.
TPring had just changed back into her usual clothes, the jeans and checked shirt which she liked to wear, and which were a much more sensible outfit for practicing her occupation as a vet. T'Pau, on the other hand, donned her formal business suit. Her staff was already busy taking the setting apart, and one of them advised her that her limousine had just driven up.
It was high time. She was soon to chair a board of directors. This, actually, was the reason for her refusaI to take a more active part in the political affairs of the Federation; she had too much to do on Vulcan, being the chairwoman and managing director of four pan-Vulcan companies - and she was also in charge, every seven years, of the organisation of Koon, which was no small matter.
Fortunately. this time she had been helped by Spock, a very promising boy indeed. With a fond and arnused thought for her favourite grandson, T'Pau clirnbed into her limousine, followed bv her Andorian secretary who lost no time handing her a whisky on the rocks.
While sipping her drink, T'Pau meant to give all her attention to her assistant's reading of the preliminary report of the board of directors, but her thoughts drifted back to recent events. It had indeed been a pleasant day, she thought, and would provide entertainrnent to the Vulcans for the next seven years with the video tape of the ‘ceremony’. Not to mention the handsome commission that she and her grandson wouId receive from the copyright. Yes indeed. a very pleasant day.