Ensign Pavel Chekov pulled at the collar of his dress shirt with a grimace.
All around him, Hellfire Club patrons celebrated their anniversary. The women all wore elegant gowns, and the men wore suits like his. Elaborate floral arrangements filled the room, and people sat at round tables covered in white cloths or danced in the middle of the ballroom. The Hellfire Club workers wore their period costumes, which Pavel privately thought was weird.
A woman in one of the French maid outfits walked by with a tray of champagne, and Pavel helped himself to a glass. He kept an eye on things by hanging out at the food table. He was particularly fond of something Nyota called rumaki, and he kept munching on pieces of it.
It wasn’t that he wasn’t interested in being social; far from it, in fact. It was just that there was one person in particular he wished to be social with, and he didn’t really know how to get that across to him.
Or to not come across like some puppyish child.
Scotty was so much older than him and so much more experienced. He was also brilliant, and they worked well together. They related a lot to each other in spite of their differences. And while they did work together on the ship, they didn’t work directly together except when asked.
He wasn’t sure how he could get it across to Scotty.
Pavel picked up something called a gougere and ate it. It was good and tasted faintly of cheese.
Down at the other end of the table, Scotty stood in his red dress uniform. He looked quite handsome as he drank from a tumbler of scotch.
Well...nothing would be solved by not talking to him. The least he could do was start up a conversation.
Pavel edged close to Scotty.
Scotty continued to drink.
Pavel edged closer.
For some reason he felt like a lion stalking a gazelle on one of those nature specials.
The wild Pavel, a narrator began in his brain, has his prey in sight. The docile Scotty consumes his food and drink, unaware that he has been targeted. He continues to drink quietly, and in mere seconds, he will be set upon by the Pavel.
Pavel shook his head to clear it. He needed to cut back on the caffeine.
Scotty looked at a tray of hors d’ouevres with a curious expression. Pavel went to rescue him when Nyota and Spock came over to the table.
Damn them, and damn their oily hides16 !
Nyota fed Spock a gougere with a smile; she really did look lovely in her lavender gown. Spock wore his dress uniform like Scotty, and he ate the pastry with a thoughtful expression. Scotty came over to them, and they engaged in conversation.
Well...it would be kind of like a double-date. So why not?
Pavel downed his champagne and joined his friends.
“Shaw was friendly enough,” Nyota was saying. “But Wyngarde...I don’t know. Something about the way he looked at Leonard was unsettling. Like he was a prize to be claimed.”
“Are you discussing the Hellfire Club members you met yesterday?” Pavel had to admit, he was curious. These people threw a very interesting party.
“Indeed,” Spock said with a raised eyebrow. “I, too, noticed the way Mister Wyngarde looked at Doctor McCoy. It was rather forward considering it was the first time they met.”
“Jim certainly noticed,” Nyota said with a frown as she sipped her martini.
Scotty looked concerned. “Did the captain get upset?” He then hedged a little. “I mean, he...well they’re...”
Nyota smiled. “It’s okay, Scotty. They’re more than friends.”
Pavel choked. “So you are saying that the captain and the doctor are...?”
“It was pretty obvious,” Nyota said with a shrug. “They had a telepathic fight yesterday, and I suspect Wyngarde’s attentions were the cause of it.”
“That’s a shame,” Scotty said as he took a sip of scotch. “They shouldn’t let something petty like that come between them.”
Pavel thought to himself; if the captain and the doctor could be in a relationship together, and also Nyota and Spock, there was no reason why he and Scotty couldn’t be together. He really had nothing to be afraid of. “I agree,” he said with a happy tone. “If they love each other, that is all that truly matters.” He turned to Scotty with a grin.
Scotty nodded. “That’s true.”
A bright flash of light gave way to a Phoenix raptor, and in the middle of it stood the topic of their conversation. The captain and the doctor appeared, both wearing black three-piece suits. They held hands with matching smiles as they made their way through the slightly stunned crowd.
Scotty got a smile of his own. “It appears that things have been patched up between them.”
Spock inclined his head. “Indeed.”
Pavel watched them as a man in an old-fashioned green outfit including knee breeches greeted them. He had to admit, he was jealous. It seemed like everyone around him had someone special, and Scotty didn’t even seem to know he was alive except when they would work together.
Pavel sighed and took another sip of champagne.
Well, he could mope about it, or he could do something.
He set down his now empty glass and focused his attention back onto Scotty. “Would you like to dance?” he said, and he hoped he sounded bolder than he felt.
Scotty blinked at him before silently pointing to himself with a perplexed look on his face.
“I am not asking anyone else,” Pavel clarified. “I am asking you, Scotty.” He was aware of Nyota stifling a laugh.
“Oh well, I uh,” the engineer stammered. “I mean...yes?”
Pavel grinned and grabbed his wrist as he whisked him off to the dance floor. Just in time as a waltz began. The pair stood towards the edge of the crowd, and Pavel looked at Scotty.
“I’m...not really good at this fancy stuff,” Scotty began. “Slam and break dancing, yes. Ballroom not so much, I’m afraid.”
“Then I will lead,” Pavel said as he took one of Scotty’s hands in his, placing his other hand on his waist. “Do what I do, but backwards. We will do a simple box step.”
Scotty nodded and immediately looked down at their feet.
“Forward,” Pavel said as they moved. “To the side, and together. Now we go backwards, to the side, and together.”
Scotty stumbled a bit when they moved backwards, but other than that he did okay. He continued to watch their feet like a hawk as they repeated the steps with Pavel explaining them each time. Soon Scotty didn’t stumble at all.
“All right,” Pavel said. “Now stop watching our feet and look at me.”
Scotty didn’t look convinced. “But...”
“You are doing fine. Make eye contact with me.”
Scotty looked up into Pavel’s eyes as the ensign smiled at him. He stumbled as they moved to the side but didn’t look down again. He regained his footing and once more, they danced smoothly together.
Pavel’s smile turned into a huge grin. “We move very well together.”
Scotty flushed a little. “Well, we make a good team at work. This isn’t any different from that.”
Somehow managing to keep the smile on his face, Pavel felt disappointed. He didn’t let it discourage him; instead he simply tried again. “I think we complement each other in more ways than at work.”
Scotty didn’t say anything, but his blush deepened. The song drew to a close, and the dancers stopped to applaud the musicians. They picked up their instruments after a brief pause before beginning a foxtrot.
Scotty and Pavel looked at each other.
“Do you know this one?”
Pavel was startled by the question; he expected Scotty to take off once the waltz was finished. “Aye.”
“Let’s have a go then, shall we?”
Pleased, Pavel steered him a second time. “We shall.”
They danced many more songs together.
Shaw greeted them when they teleported into the club, and he sent a servant with them to make sure their “every need” was seen to. It made Jim uncomfortable, and Bones teased him a little telepathically for the trouble.
Dinner winded down, although the wine continued to flow freely. Mostly Jim enjoyed sitting close to Bones with his hand on his thigh.
As far as first dates went, it was a good one.
They enjoyed a light sorbet as their dessert, although Jim couldn’t say what flavor it was supposed to be. He thought Bones said fromage blanc, but who made a sorbet out of cheese? It was light, and had a slightly creamy taste though, so he couldn’t complain.
How he managed to not be allergic to everything they served (the menu had consisted of six courses), he did not understand. It was nothing short of a miracle, although Bones did mention he had a hypospray on him just in case.
Their server came back to them with two glasses of twenty-year aged port. Jim and Bones took the glasses with spoken thanks as they sipped on the wine. Jim smiled at Bones, who smiled back.
“Did you ever take dance lessons?” Bones asked after a few more sips.
Jim shrugged. “Mom taught me some steps. I wouldn’t win any competitions, but I can hold my own okay.”
Bones nodded, then stood and extended his hand. Jim looked up at him with a raised eyebrow.
//You know, it’s common courtesy to ask the person.// Jim teased Bones. //Instead of just assuming they’re going to say yes, I mean.//
Bones’ eyes glittered in the light. //Dance with me.//
Jim smirked. //Now you’re just being bossy.//
“Jim, darlin’,” Bones said loud enough for only Jim to hear. “Would you please honor me with a dance?”
A coy smile formed on Jim’s face. “Well okay, but only because you said please.” He placed his hand in Bones’ and stood from the table, letting him escort him to the ballroom. The music grew louder with each step they took, but all Jim could focus on was the feel of their hands and the shape of Bones’ profile.
A slow song that Jim recognized as a tango filled the air, and he gave Bones a curious look. Bones placed a hand on his waist and held his other hand up. Jim huffed out a little laugh as he grasped Bones’ free hand while placing his other hand on his shoulder.
The heated look in Bones’ eyes made him stop laughing.
It may have even made him blush.
Although, he’d deny it until the day he died.
Bones began to dance him backwards in time to the music. Jim followed his lead, his mother having taught him a basic tango when he was a teenager. He was still a bit surprised when Bones stopped and spun him around so that his back was to his front. He held him close enough that Jim could feel his breath on his neck.
//Been waiting for this, haven’t you?// Jim thought as they took several steps backwards like that before Bones spun him around again so they were face-to-face.
Bones smirked as he tightened his arms around him, moving his body so that their hips came dangerously close to one another. He resumed leading them around the floor. //Thought about it once or twice.// They spun together a few times before heading in the opposite direction.
They were close enough that Jim could kiss him if he wanted, but he refrained, opting instead to let the tension simmer between them. He could practically feel the heat of Bones’ hand through all the layers of his suit.
God, he couldn’t wait to get him home.
Bones spun him out again before holding him close.
They continued to move as one across the floor and back; the fortunate thing about their psychic rapport was Jim could see the steps in Bones’ mind before he made them. This gave him the ability to keep up when Bones would dip him or start moving backwards.
Handy thing, that.
Jim concentrated enough to cloud his intentions through the rapport, and the next time Bones stopped them, he wrapped one of his legs around his waist.
Bones’ eyes widened. //Jesus, Jim.//
//What? You’re making me be the woman, so I’m being the woman.// He smirked. //Don’t act like you don’t love it.//
Bones spun them again just like that, and he dipped Jim backwards from the waist up. //Wouldn’t dream of it, darlin’.//
He brought Jim back up so they were chest to chest, and Jim slid his leg down off him as they danced again across the floor. Jim caught a glimpse of Spock and Uhura as they moved, and he winked in their direction. It looked like she started clapping out of the corner of his eye, but he moved so fast he couldn’t tell.
//I scanned the musicians; the song’s about over. Ready?//
Jim smiled. //Sure.//
Bones spun him out from him, then reeled him back in. He caught him so that his back was to Bones’ front, and his arms were wrapped around him tight. They were nose to nose as the last note of the song hit.
Jim looked at Bones from underneath his lashes. //Want to get out of here?//
Bones licked his lips once. //You have to ask?//
Smiling at him as they broke apart, Jim sent all of his desire through the bond. //Just let me say goodbye to Shaw first. Unfortunately, I can’t be rude as much as I wish otherwise. Wait for me at our table?//
//Sure thing.// Jim held his hand as long as he could as he walked away from him.
He last saw Shaw by the champagne; he’d start there and work his way around the room.
Bones sat in his chair as he watched the crowd for Jim. He knew he hadn’t found Shaw yet; he was keeping tabs through the rapport.
He sighed and checked his watch. It had been fifteen minutes already.
//No luck yet, Bones.// Jim sounded sorry. //Go on without me, I’ll be along as soon as I can.//
//Yeah, I’ll just call the transporter room. It’s fine, Bones, and I’ll make it up to you when I get back.// There was a distinctive leer on the last few words, and it made Bones clear his throat in response.
//See you in a bit then, darlin’.// He turned to head towards the door when he bumped into someone. “Oh, I’m sorry I didn’t...”
“The fault is mine.”
Bones looked up into the violet eyes of Jason Wyngarde. He wasn’t in a suit like he was at lunch; he was dressed like he would be in his dreams, clad in a violet silk jacket, waistcoat, and breeches. His mouth went dry, and not from desire. It all seemed too surreal to face him like that in reality.
“Leaving so soon? These galas always go late into the night.” Jason smiled, and Bones resisted the urge to flush from the attention.
This didn’t make sense.
He was attracted to him, even though they had barely spoken. Bones didn’t get attracted to people he didn’t know well; sure he wasn’t made of stone and would notice if someone was good-looking, but the soul was what mattered to him. Feeling so strongly for someone he didn’t really know threw him off-balance.
If there was anything Bones hated, it was feeling off-balance, and all Jason Wyngarde did was make him feel that way. “I have other plans,” he finally managed. “Excuse me.”
With that, he brushed past Wyngarde. He was several steps away when the man called after him.
“Oh, sweet heart...?”
Bones got hit in his mind. He closed his eyes and brought a hand up to his temple. He was dizzy, like the room was spinning, and he grabbed hold of a chair to steady himself. //Jim? Jim...I...//
Just as quickly as it came, the dizziness stopped.
And while it was Bones who closed his eyes...it was Leonard who opened them.
He stared down at the floor for a moment; he was in the club’s main dining room, but he couldn’t quite recall how he arrived there. He felt a hand on his back, and he looked up into Jason’s eyes.
“Are you all right, sweet heart? You look pale,” his lover said as he continued to steady him.
“I...my head aches so, Jason,” Leonard answered. “I think perhaps if we could go somewhere quieter...”
Jason smiled, and if there was an edge to it, Leonard didn’t notice. “Of course. I believe Shaw and the others are expecting us up in the Inner Circle. Shall we?” He maneuvered them so that they walked to the grand staircase at the front of the club.
Leonard smiled at him. “Lead the way, Jason.”
They left the noise and the party behind them, and Leonard didn’t even look back.
He searched the entire main level of the Hellfire Club to no avail. Shaw was nowhere to be seen.
//No luck yet, Bones.// He sent an apology through the rapport. //Go on without me, I’ll be along as soon as I can.//
Jim sighed. //Yeah, I’ll just call the transporter room. It’s fine, Bones, and I’ll make it up to you when I get back.// He hoped Bones would get the entendre.
//See you in a bit then, darlin’.//
Jim grew more impatient as each second went by; he wanted to be back on the ship with Bones, in bed or otherwise. Even though he didn’t care for Shaw, he couldn’t risk angering him lest the tenuous alliance between E-616 and Starfleet be terminated.
Making another round by the hors d’oeuvres table, Jim exhaled a frustrated noise.
Jim stopped in mid-step; that was Bones, and he felt disoriented.
Something was wrong.
//Bones?// Jim raced back to their table. //Bones, answer me!//
He didn’t get a reply; in fact, he didn’t get anything. Instead of feeling Bones’ emotions, he felt nothing. It wasn’t like when he was asleep, though, and he would feel a kind of echo of the emotions Bones felt as he dreamed. No this was more like when Bones would shield his thoughts.
It was as if a wall erected between them.
Jim got worried. That wasn’t right; the few times Bones had shielded him before, he still got impressions around the wall. This was like someone pushed a mute button.
It was eerie and completely wrong.
He made it to their table, but Bones was nowhere to be found.
“Hey, Kirk,” a familiar voice called. Jim stopped and turned toward it; Sulu stood nearby with a drink in his hand. “Nice dance with the doc earlier.”
“Thanks,” Jim said as he searched the room for Bones. “Hey, have you seen him? We were getting ready to head back, and I seem to have lost track of him.”
“No, sorry, I haven’t.” Sulu began to look around the club. “Do you need help?”
Jim shook his head. “No, I’ll find him. Thanks though, and have a good time, okay?” He smiled, even if he didn’t feel it, before going back to his search.
//Bones? Bones, come on, I need you to check in with me! Bones!//
He ran back to the front hall, where he noticed two lone figures heading up the stairs, one in all purple, the other in black. Jim registered that the purple-clad man was Wyngarde as he intimately slid his arm around the other man’s waist. The man turned his face to the side to smile at him.
It was Bones.
“Bones,” he shouted as he ran to the stairs. “Bones, where are you going?”
Bones didn’t answer him; he behaved like he hadn’t heard him at all.
“Bones!” Jim tried again as he ran up the stairs two at a time. “Bones what---?”
At the top of the stairway, Wyngarde steered Bones down a hall. Jim followed as quickly as he could, but once he arrived on the landing they were nowhere to be found. Jim continued to reach out psychically as he called his name, searching down each alcove for him.
Finally, he saw them waiting for a hidden elevator. “Bones!”
Wyngarde and Bones turned to him, Wyngarde with a smirk, and Bones with no expression at all.
Jim stopped short; Bones looked at him like he was a complete stranger. He also noticed Bones’ appearance; he wore an outfit similar to Wyngarde’s, only it was black with red embroidery.
Whatever it was that was happening, Jim didn’t like it one bit.
“I’m afraid he no longer answers to that name, Captain,” Wyngarde began in a superior tone. Bones continued to stare at him blankly, almost not moving at all.
“What have you done to him?” Jim spat.
Wyngarde’s smile brightened as much as it turned sharp. “Nothing a part of him doesn’t want.”
Jim narrowed his eyes. “What is that supposed to mean?”
Wyngarde shrugged a shoulder, tightening his grip on Bones. “Exactly what it says on the tin.”
Jim growled a little; he didn’t have time to play games. “We came here in good faith, Wyngarde. Whatever it is you’re doing to him, let him go. Now.”
Wyngarde made a small tsking sound. “See, that’s the part you’re not getting; he doesn’t want me to let him go.” He turned his attention to Bones. “Do you, sweet heart?”
Bones looked at Wyngarde, and the blank expression turned into an open smile, almost like a grin. It would have caused Jim’s heart to break a bit, if not for the fact that it was so obviously artificial. It was too bright, too wide.
Bones didn’t smile like that, even for hm.
That proved it; Wyngarde controlled him somehow.
//Bones, no. Come back to me.// He pleaded. //Don’t do this, baby, come on. I know you can hear me. Say something.// “I’ll ask you one more time, Wyngarde. Release him, or you won’t like the consequences.”
The grin shifted off Bones’ face into a serious expression, and his eyes glowed white.
Before Jim could move, Bones raised a now-glowing hand, aimed, and fired at him. The blast hit Jim like a wall of flames, both physically and mentally. He got pummeled a hundred different ways at once, and the sheer force of it caused him first to kneel, and then to fall completely on the ground.
Jim lay still; his suit smoked from the force of the blast, and he was barely conscious.
“Will he survive, sweet heart?” Wyngarde asked. “Shaw and the others requested he be taken alive.”
“There is no reason to fear, Jason,” Bones finally spoke, and Jim was struck by how cold he sounded. “If I wished him dead, nothing would remain except his bare bones.”
Jim tried to push himself off the ground, but his limbs were heavy and unresponsive. His vision grew dim, and his eyelids felt like they were made from lead. “You can’t...” he coughed. “Bones...”
Then everything went dark.
When he ran into his captain, something had been wrong. It was obvious by the set of his shoulders, and the distracted way he looked around the club for Doctor McCoy.
So, Sulu followed him.
He stayed far enough back the captain wouldn’t notice as he made his way up the steps; the doctor was with some other guy, which didn’t make a whole lot of sense after the way he and the captain danced together.
Sulu hid himself just behind a corner and watched as Jim confronted the guy and McCoy. He couldn’t fully hear what they were saying; he noticed the guy was smarmy, and the doc acted like a zombie.
Whatever was going on, things were bad.
He was about to back Kirk up when the doc blasted him hard.
That guy had to be doing something to McCoy; there was no other explanation for why he’d attack Kirk like that. There were bad situations, and then there was whatever this was. It could only be described as the worst-case scenario.
Hikaru continued to watch as McCoy levitated the captain’s body into the elevator with the guy. As they disappeared behind its doors, he ran up to it. He watched the display panel as the numbers scrolled through, stopping on a level called IC.
He pressed the button for the elevator to call it back. Again, he watched it scroll through floors until it arrived where he stood. When the doors opened, he stepped inside.
After glancing at the list of floors, he tried to select the IC level.
Access denied, the computer chirped.
Hikaru frowned and tried again.
Access denied,, the computer said a second time. He snorted before pushing the button for one floor below the level he needed and rode the elevator in silence.
When the chime sounded and the door opened, he was in a dark and quiet hallway. The sounds of the party below could be heard through the floors, and he crept as he inspected the floor.
The Hellfire Club gave him the creeps.
There was something about it that bothered him, though he wasn’t able previously to put his finger on what it was. Now that they were doing something to McCoy, he felt vindicated by his hunch.
Patting himself on the back wouldn’t solve the problem that these people were holding both the Enterprise’s captain and CMO hostage.
At least, he assumed McCoy was a hostage.
He continued to move through the hall; he finally found a weird panel in one of the side walls. He slid it up, and it looked like a little elevator shaft.
Hikaru thought for a second. He remembered hearing about something like this in history class...dumbwaiters, if his memory served. He brought his head into the panel and looked up the shaft.
It appeared to go up to the next level.
Hikaru looked down; the actual dumbwaiter itself sat two floors below. There was no way to tell when the next time would be that it would come up.
There was only one way to handle it, then.
He jumped into the shaft and grabbed the cables, wincing as gravity pulled him down a few feet. Once he stopped sliding, he pulled himself up the cable.
He also wished he had a pair of gloves.
He climbed the shaft until he reached the next level. He paused above the door, as he tried to figure out how to open it in his current position. In the darkness, he thought he saw a bell ahead. Pulling himself up a little higher, he began to kick at it to try and trip it.
After about ten tries, he managed to ring the bell.
It occurred to him then that maybe this wasn’t such a bright idea. After all, he was alone with no back up. What if that guy sicced McCoy on him? If the captain were any indication, he wouldn’t stand a chance.
Although, it wouldn’t be that guy opening the shaft. It’d be a servant of some kind.
Regardless, it was too late to do anything but wait.
So he did.
Jason Wyngarde stood smiling, his arm still around his prize. “It happens to the best of us,” he said in a lofty tone. “Subverting the doctor was easy thanks to Miss Frost’s mind-tap mechanism17 .”
Emma Frost smiled at him. “That’s very kind of you to say, Jason.” She took a glass of wine for herself and strode over to Wyngarde and McCoy, her white cape swishing behind her as she moved. She reached out and gently cupped Leonard’s chin. “In addition to being so powerful, he’s also quite handsome. I like that.”
Leonard reached out and took her gloved hand in his. He pressed a kiss to her palm. “I am glad to hear it, Miss Frost, as I am rather fond of you.”
Emma raised an eyebrow and looked at Jason. “Your doing?”
Jason shrugged. “The doctor’s natural personality is...difficult. He was rather uptight. I’ve simply improved upon him.” He smiled at the topic of their conversation. “Haven’t I, sweet heart?”
Leonard’s eyes lit up at the word sweet heart, and he turned his attention immediately to him. “Oh, yes, Jason.” Without another word, he embraced him like a long-lost love.
Wyngarde quickly took advantage and kissed him. After all, they had won. Why shouldn’t he enjoy the fruits of his victory?
Pierce rolled his eyes. “When you come up for air, are you going to explain what you’re doing with Kirk? The crew of the Enterprise isn’t stupid. When they notice their captain is missing, they’ll come for him.”
Jason broke apart from his pet as Shaw began to speak. “Which is what we’re counting on, Pierce. Their loyalty will be their undoing. Provided, of course, that Wyngarde’s control of the doctor is as absolute as he claims.”
Wyngarde did not betray himself by even so much as raising an eyebrow. Shaw’s suspicion was unfounded, but he knew a challenge when he heard one. Perhaps Shaw caught on to his dissatisfaction with his leadership. “I own him, body and soul,” he said as he caressed Leonard’s neck. “I’ll prove it if I have to.”
Tessa stood from where she had been tying up and searching Kirk. She held a smoking and mangled piece of machinery in her hands. “Sir, all I found was his communicator. It appears to have been rendered inoperable by Doctor McCoy. The best I can conclude is that he came unarmed.”
“Even better,” Harry Leland said. “They’ll send a rescue party tonight most likely.”
“For once you are correct, Leland,” Shaw said, which caused Leland to frown. “They might even storm the party directly. This is even better than I hoped.”
Jason watched this with interest; so, Leland too was unhappy with Shaw’s attitude. This could work in his favor. The time approached for him to make his move, he could taste it. Then he would be in his rightful place as Chairman of the Inner Circle with McCoy as his Black King.
A bell sounded, signaling the arrival of a dumbwaiter.
“I ordered champagne to toast our victory,” Shaw explained. “Tessa...?”
“At once, sir,” she said as she left the room. As always, the door locked behind her.
“Nnngh,” Jim Kirk said from the floor. “Someone get the license plate of that bus?” He looked up at them in confusion before his memory cleared. “You,” he said in an accusing tone to Wyngarde. “Get your hands off him!”
To prove a point, Jason turned to Leonard. His one hand continued to stroke his neck, while the other one held him by the hip. “Would you like me to take my hands off you?”
Leonard shook his head, and his eyes were lit by a cruel hunger. “Never.”
With a deeply satisfied smile Jason spoke to him, although his words were for Kirk. “I cannot wait to truly taste you.”
Jason was rewarded with a look of complete and utter revulsion on the captain’s face. “You’re a disgusting piece of shit, Wyngarde.”
Leonard’s eyes glowed white. “Do not take that tone with him, sirrah. I have punished you once for your arrogance tonight; push me again, and I will not be so merciful as to spare you.”
Wyngarde laughed. This was magnificent; he hadn’t even steered McCoy into defending him just then; he acted on his own. His conditioning was absolute.
Judging by the look on Shaw’s face, he also picked up on that.
Kirk scowled, and looked away. Obviously, it pained him to see his now ex-lover controlled so tightly.
“Why am I still alive, Shaw?” the captain spat. “Am I tonight’s entertainment or something?”
“In a manner of speaking,” Shaw answered with a shrug. “Killing you gains us nothing. Holding you hostage until your crew storms my party and causes a diplomatic incident, however...that has advantages.”
“Such as what?”
Leland furrowed his brows. “Should we tell him?”
“He’s harmless,” Wyngarde answered, although his attention was focused on Shaw. “He may as well know what’s going to become of his crew.”
Shaw looked at him, though Jason did not back down. “It is very simple, Captain. Your crew is going to come rescue you. The Enterprise won’t care about causing a diplomatic incident if it’s to retrieve their precious crewmembers. Too bad for them that Doctor McCoy has turned against them, and will destroy your ship with his psychic abilities. Once he does, Starfleet will ignore any concerns about dealing with us to use our Sentinel technology as they are specifically equipped to handle psychic assaults. Your doctor will then be defeated by them, and we will sign a contract guaranteeing us the control over any and all Starfleet weapons technology.”
Jim’s jaw dropped. “You’re doing all this for a business contract?”
“It’s not like you to be so short-sighted,” Shaw replied. “You don’t seem to grasp the severity of what I’m saying. If we control all of the weapons given to Starfleet, then we control Starfleet itself, and whoever controls Starfleet controls the Federation. Our goal is power, nothing less, and now with your doctor’s help we will take it.”
The captain frowned. “And how are you controlling him into doing this? You’re all just baseline humans like me.”
“My company manufactures technology capable of mimicking telepathy,” Emma explained. “We used it to project sophisticated illusions into the doctor’s mind. We also used them to block his psychic probes and shield our true intentions.”
“Our bid for dominion over the Federation is flawless, Captain,” Shaw continued. “We’ve thought of every contingency. All you can do is sit back and watch.”
Wyngarde smiled; Shaw was right, he thought of every contingency.
He needed to wait a little longer before using McCoy to take over the Inner Circle.
Good thing he was a patient man.
Swinging himself back with the cables, he kicked out his legs, closed his eyes, and dove out into the hallway, colliding with a person in the process. Hikaru landed so that the person ended up on his back with him sitting on his chest.
Hikaru immediately clapped a hand over the person’s mouth to prevent him from screaming.
This was when he realized that “he” was a “she.” She had her black hair pulled up into a bun. She wore a leather corset, with matching underwear and thigh-high boots.
And she was freaking right the hell out.
She thrashed beneath him, and he used his free hand to pin her wrists to the floor.
“Shh,” he said in a whisper. “I’m not here to assault you. I’m in Starfleet, and I’m looking for my friends. If you promise to stop screaming and hitting me, I’ll let you up and take my hand off your mouth, okay?”
Her eyes were wide, but she did nod. As promised, Hikaru stood up and offered his hand to assist her off the floor. She took it, although she did eye him warily for his trouble.
“Now,” he began, “and again, I’m sorry for the way I greeted you, but if there’s anything you can tell me about the whereabouts of the Captain of the Enterprise, Jim Kirk, or the Chief Medical Officer, Leonard McCoy, I would greatly appreciate it, Miss...?”
“Tessa,” she answered. “My name is Tessa, and I’ll tell you everything you need to know. Just please don’t hurt me.”
“I won’t,” Hikaru answered, and he raised both of his hands in a sign of goodwill. “I promise.”
Tessa looked to the door nearby. She looked back to Hikaru. “They’re in there.” He began to walk over. “No, you can’t. Only the Inner Circle and I can get in.”
“So you’re one of them,” he said with a hint of distrust. Terrific.
“I work for Mister Shaw,” she said, and he felt like he had been corrected. “Emma Frost and Jason Wyngarde are mentally controlling the doctor using a special machine and sophisticated hologram technology that Wyngarde calls “illusions.” They’ve got him brainwashed, which is why he’s acting the way he has been.”
Well, that was something. He hadn’t gone evil just for the hell of it. It was a small victory, but Hikaru would take whatever he could get. “What about the captain?”
“He’s a hostage; they’re using him as bait to trick you guys into coming after him. Then they’ll unleash the doctor on your ship, spin it so that he’s a psychic gone rogue, and get the Federation to invest in Mister Shaw’s new weapons technology.”
“I agree, and while Mister Shaw is a ruthless businessman, this plan is mostly Wyngarde’s doing.” Tessa looked down at the floor. “I don’t want Mister Shaw to get hurt, but this is going too far. As I said, he’s ruthless, but he’s never been this cruel before.”
Hikaru sighed and leaned back against the wall. This was bad. If this Wyngarde was controlling McCoy, then there was no way to get the captain back without getting fried. More troubling, going in directly would play right into this Inner Circle’s hands.
He pulled out his communicator. “Lieutenant Sulu to Commander Spock.”
The communicator beeped. This is Commander Spock. Go ahead, Lieutenant.
Hikaru walked somewhat away from Tessa. “We have a priority alpha situation up on the IC level.” He held the communicator away from his face. “Can you get them up here?”
Tessa nodded. “I have to go back soon, they’ll wonder what’s keeping me.”
“Understood,” Sulu said as he waited for Spock’s reply.
I comprehend, Lieutenant. We’re on the way.
“Tell them to go into the main hall, and take the first left. That will lead them to this elevator,” Tessa licked her lips nervously. “And tell them to hurry.”
“Did you get that, Spock?”
Indeed. Spock out.
Tessa went over to the elevator control panel and entered a special code. The panel lit up green. “They have two minutes.”
“Thanks,” Hikaru said. “I’m sorry for scaring you. That’s not normally my thing.”
Tessa smiled, and Hikaru realized that she was beautiful. “You didn’t set out to, it’s fine. It’s also not the worst thing happening in the club tonight,” she added with distaste.
The dumbwaiter bell rang a second time, and Tessa once again slid the door open. There was champagne in a bucket along with six flutes. She took the tray and gave Hikaru a sad little smile. “I have to go now,” she said. “Good luck.” She walked over to the door and entered another code; the door unlocked, and she turned to give Hikaru another little smile as it closed behind her.
For the second time, Hikaru found himself waiting. However, this time it didn’t take nearly as long as the elevator chime sounded. Spock, Nyota, Scotty, Chekov, and two security officers stepped off it.
“Where are they? Where’s the captain?”
“He’s in there, but if we barge in we’re giving them what they want,” Sulu said. “They’re counting on us to rescue him so they can claim we were hostile and send McCoy after the Enterprise.”
“McCoy?” Uhura was confused. “I don’t understand.”
Hikaru quickly related the details to his fellow officers. When he finished, they all took a few moments to absorb what he told them.
Spock actually frowned. “Unfortunately, their gamble is based in logic. We cannot storm their inner sanctum without causing a diplomatic incident.”
“Can we beam them out? Use their life signs to pull them out the room?” Nyota asked.
“It is certainly worth a try.” Spock stepped aside to comm the Enterprise, leaving Nyota and Hikaru alone with each other.
Hikaru opened his mouth to speak.
Nyota cut him off. “Don’t.”
“Don’t what?” he asked.
“Don’t start going on about how you knew this would happen.”
“I wasn’t going to go on,” Hikaru said as he folded his arms across his chest.
Nyota stared at him.
“I wasn’t. I was just going to say that maybe someone should have listened to me.”
She rolled her eyes. “Hikaru, now is not the time. I don’t think anyone, even you, could have predicted this. We need to worry about getting them out of there first and foremost.”
Hikaru sighed. “You’re right. I just have a really bad feeling about this, is all. This situation is pretty terrible.”
“It is, but we can fix it,” Nyota said.
Not a moment too soon, as Spock rejoined them.
“The room has some kind of shielding, and we are unable to isolate the captain or the doctor’s life signs.”
“Figures,” Hikaru said with a frown.
“If we beam out everyone in the room, they’ll plead hostility,” Nyota added.
Spock inclined his head in a nod. “That is correct. We shall simply have to come up with another way.” He again grabbed his communicator. “Perhaps Admiral Pike will have an idea; he was the one who provided the information about this organization to the captain. He and I can perhaps devise a strategy. Enterprise, this is Commander Spock. I need an open channel to Admiral Pike with priority one...”
Hikaru looked back toward the door; it looked like any move they made would be used against them. They just had to hope that McCoy would get snapped out of that Wyngarde guy’s control, or that Spock and Pike could come up with a quick plan to get them out of this.
Until then, they had nothing else to do but be patient.
He looked up from where he sat at the Inner Circle. They all toasted their victory with Shaw’s champagne. They were kind of disgusting, and also stupid if they thought this plan was going to work. However, he had to admit he couldn’t really see a way out of it. Even if he managed to free himself, Bones would take him out.
Jim swallowed as he watched Bones drape himself all over Wyngarde. Not Bones, he corrected but Leonard. Bones didn’t simper or fawn over people. Bones didn’t flirt like that.
Bones wasn’t cruel.
Wyngarde enslaved him all right, and he turned him into someone he wasn’t meant to be.
“You’re rather quiet, Captain,” Shaw said. “Contemplating your fate?”
Jim raised his head defiantly. “Wondering how much longer it’s going to take for my crew to get me out of here, Shaw.”
The Inner Circle all laughed, even Bones, which caused Jim to frown.
“Apparently, my initial assessment of your intelligence was correct,” Shaw said once he calmed down. “There is no way out for you, Kirk. If they come, then we’ll unleash McCoy on them. We’ll tell Starfleet that you all acted aggressively towards us during our gala. There is no way you can win this.”
“Fortunately, I don’t believe in no-win scenarios,” Jim shot back. “My crew isn’t stupid, Shaw. They’ll figure it out.”
Wyngarde smiled. “What of it? They’ll die at the hands of my Phoenix. So long as I control him, and believe me when I say I have no intention of letting him go, they won’t stand a chance.”
Jim hated to admit it, but he had a point. It was unlikely that the Enterprise could take Bones out, let alone a team of officers on foot. The only thing he could hope for is maybe them beaming Bones away from Wyngarde to try and break his control.
Well, wait a minute.
There was a possible way to break Wyngarde’s hold on Bones that didn’t require his crew. He could keep trying to reach out to him through the psychic rapport, wear the wall down, and then snap him out of it.
Jim considered it for a moment.
He’d only have the one shot.
It was also extremely risky. He’d have to focus all of his attention on reaching Bones, which could leave him vulnerable to a physical assault. This was the first time he tried something like this. What if it didn’t work and he burned his mind out in the process?
It didn’t matter. He’d do it a thousand times if it meant saving Bones.
He closed his eyes and concentrated. The rapport was like a pathway, and Jim visualized himself walking down it. He saw himself in his captain’s uniform walking through a nothingness that somehow wasn’t empty. It felt like home. Slowly, the path became darker and filled with fog.
He walked down the path until he saw a building. It looked vaguely familiar, but it was too dark to recognize well.
He walked towards the building, when it hit him what it was.
It was the front entrance to the Hellfire Club.
This was bad. If Bones’ brain turned into the Hellfire Club, it meant Wyngarde had a stronger hold on him than he thought. Undeterred, Jim kept walking. He moved up the front stairs when the door slowly opened. “Bones?”
“I’m afraid not,” Jason Wyngarde said as he stepped into the light. The jacket and waistcoat were gone, and he was simply clad in his linen shirt, breeches, and shoes. A sword hung at his left hip.
“I’m going to ask you once nicely,” Jim said as he grabbed the phaser holstered on his side. “Get out of his head, and let him go.”
“I rather thought you would try something like this,” Wyngarde said, ignoring him as he pulled on a pair of white gloves. “We knew he had a psionic bond with someone, and once you so charmingly claimed your territory in front of me, it was not hard to deduce that you were that person.”
The phaser in Jim’s hand turned into a sword. He blinked at it in confusion.
“Of course you’d think you could get to him mentally to snap him out of my control,” Wyngarde continued as he walked down the steps. “So I shall make this simple. A duel; no quarter asked, no quarter given. If you win, you can have your precious Bones back, but if I win he stays mine, body and soul, forever!”
Jim glared at him; it had been a while since he and Sulu had a fencing lesson, and he was still a novice at it besides. Dueling Wyngarde was not likely to go in his favor.
What choice did he have?
In the blink of an eye, Jim’s outfit shifted to that of an American soldier during the Revolutionary war. He wore a tri-cornered hat, yellow shirt, and blue vest and breeches tucked into black knee boots. He rolled his eyes. “Agreed,” he said as he took his position. “En garde.”
Wyngarde took a similar stance before launching into an aggressive first strike. Jim barely managed to block the blow before he lunged back. Wyngarde parried before seeing an opening. Jim dodged by rolling under his sword to strike him in the back; however, Wyngarde sensed his plan and turned in time to block it.
The only sounds in this dark foggy place were of steel clanging against steel.
Wyngarde advanced on him, forcing Jim onto the defensive. He stepped backwards away from Wyngarde as he blocked each attack with his sword.
That was when Jim stumbled onto a flight of stairs. He managed to prevent himself from losing his balance as he moved up them, still defending himself against Wyngarde’s attacks. He regained the offensive, and he attacked Wyngarde boldly with a long lunge.
As he landed, the steps turned into a slide, and Jim lost his balance as he slid down to the ground. “Shit!” he exclaimed as he managed to slide under Wyngarde’s outstretched arm. His hat wasn’t so lucky, as Wyngarde’s sword pierced it. He simply pulled it off and tossed it to the side.
Jim stood and regained his balance. Wyngarde advanced on him again, but this time Jim bumped into someone as he stepped backwards. He turned to look and see who it was.
It was Bones, and he was in the black and red outfit he wore as an Inner Circle member.
“Bones!” He looked at him with relief. “It’s me, Jim. Come on, I’m here to set you free.”
Bones blinked at him before turning to Wyngarde. He turned back to Jim. “Do I know you? Your face is somewhat familiar, but your clothing marks you as a common American, a group with which I do not associate.”
“You know me better than anyone,” Jim said with a note of desperation. “We’re best friends, and more. You’re my partner, Bones, try to think!”
Bones’ eyes clouded in confusion. “I...”
“You’re wasting your time, Kirk,” Wyngarde said as he struck out at Jim. Jim grabbed Bones and pushed him out of the way of the attack. They landed on the ground together, and Jim looked to make sure that Bones was unharmed. He was, and Jim reached out to help him up. Bones hesitated, but he took his hand and stood.
Jim smiled at him. “You’ve got to remember something. Like how...” he paused. Well, if ever there was a time for him to say it, it was now. “Like how I never say I love you but instead I say back at you.”
Something in Bones’ gaze flickered but as it came, it died. The expression on his face softened, though.
“I’ve had enough,” Wyngarde snapped. He rushed Jim with his sword, and Jim managed to stop him from running him through. “Your rapport is nothing! Your love is nothing! My control is everything!”
“Struck a nerve, did I?” Jim asked as he moved as far from Bones as he could. Bones stood nearby and continued to watch the fight, although his gaze lingered more and more on Jim and less on Wyngarde.
Wyngarde attacked furiously, and Jim was struck by the fact that he was growing more tired as their match continued. The strain was phenomenal; his mind tired and it affected his telepathic body like muscle fatigue. Unfortunately, Wyngarde seemed to only get stronger.
Well, there was one thing he could try.
He spun and switched sword hands, making a strike with his right hand instead of his left. Wyngarde laughed. “Going for broke, are we?” Wyngarde asked as he countered the attack.
“Fuck you,” Jim snapped as he struggled to hold him off.
Again, Wyngarde laughed. “Perhaps later. If I can control McCoy, what makes you think I can’t control you?”
Jim growled at him as he lunged. His aim was off, and he missed.
He also left himself wide open.
Wyngarde seized the opportunity and struck lightning-quick. The blade ran Jim through cleanly, and he screamed.
“You’ve lost,” Wyngarde said with a smirk as he pulled the blade back out.
Jim grabbed the wound in his chest as he fell first to his knees, and then to lie on the ground. He saw Bones standing over him.
He closed his eyes, and back in reality, he fell to the floor out of his chair. His chest heaved several times, and he was aware that Wyngarde stood next to his body. Gloating, the illusionist placed a foot on his chest.
“You’ve lost,” Wyngarde repeated.
“Wyngarde,” he choked. “Bones...no...”
He fell silent and deadly still.