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Encephalobasher
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Co-Writer Paul Robison*
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Encephalobasher
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#9
Paul Robison
Nov 16, 2017
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13 Mins Read
No Plagiarism!ROt8evLMhKxCAdkFQxjhposted on PENANA

Commander Gordon had the con.  He was beginning to think that he'd been born in the command chair and would grow old there.copyright protection30PENANAYvA7rTycve

His engines were feeling neglected, and he was happy.  Irritated but happy.  All this charging around at Warp seven and eight, and he didn't really know what was happening.  Slingshot effect back through time, then to Base Eleven, then the Land of the Lost, and back to Base Eleven.copyright protection30PENANAzm32vhxh4P

Gordon still shuddered at the memory of the pitifully thin, almost unrecognizable form he'd seen cradled in Spock's arms when the landing party had materialized.  Gordon had cleared the halls leading to Sickbay.  He'd told no one what he'd seen; neither had Gordon or Kolchin.copyright protection30PENANA1BrCPLiFjC

Only Finn and Spock had seen Sawyer after they whisked him into seclusion.copyright protection30PENANAWh7wpyqXLV

Spock kept his thoughts to himself.  Gordon knew that he'd spent most of the time the Esmeralda was traveling to the Base at Sawyer's side, but that was all he knew.  Finn had put a little meat on Sawyer's bones before they beamed him to the Base hospital.  He looked more peaceful, but extremely withdrawn, still allowing Spock to carry him through the cleared halls.copyright protection30PENANAckifnOxV6B

Finn had come back from the Base with Spock, and Gordon could hardly credit that either had been pried away from Tom.   But they had beamed to the Land of the Lost together, and returned with the look of dubious satisfaction of men concluding that half a loaf is better than none.copyright protection30PENANAK8dcK2Y3Ih

Finn had been as closemouthed as Spock, and Finn had finally given up on him.copyright protection30PENANAFEzMbZkCX6

Plainly the two would not rest until the captain was well, if he ever was.  But the mood of the ship had lightened.  He was alive.  Impossible to believe that anything could keep Tom Sawyer down for long.copyright protection30PENANAy9rRoOGVJM

And now Spock had beamed down, an hour ago, to Montoya's office and the Base hospital.copyright protection30PENANAxtVKFGMEJv

Likely the Vulcan would come back only with the report that they must go on about their business, wait, and hope.  Likely the captain couldn't even have visitors.copyright protection30PENANAWo9valvvXs

Gordon sighed.  A man could hope.copyright protection30PENANACvB3m0R3VA

Suddenly Nevtiri spoke.copyright protection30PENANAPs4KdKr0oa

"Mr. Gordon.  I'm receiving a message from Commodore Montoya.  He orders you to prepare to receive the captain aboard."  Her eyes widened.  "Mr. Gordon!  He requests that you have an honor guard present and that you, Dr. Finn, and.....Mr. Ko-Ko, Mr. Kolchin, and I attend!"copyright protection30PENANAvkyEQJ0lfX

Gordon felt his own eyes widening with a wild guess.  "It couldn't be...." But he caught himself beaming from ear to ear.  "Well then----what are we waiting for?"  He pulled up long enough to say, "Mr. O'Connor, see to it.  You have the  con."  Then he cheerfully gathered up Nevtiri and raced for the turbolift.copyright protection30PENANANRtpVQpMTl

Minutes later the Transporter hummed, and two figures started to solidify in the beams.  Lieutenant Sheridan, head of the honor guard, sounded is boatwswain's pipe, piping the captain aboard, but the piping ended in a sudden squawk when Sheridan's eyes focused on the men standing before him----Captain Thomas T. Sawyer, and beside him, dressed in his old familiar blue science uniform, Commander Spock!copyright protection30PENANAnJNru0bV0A

For two seconds nobody moved, nobody spoke.  Then, a broad grin spreading over his face, Tom Sawyer stepped down from the Transporter and said, "Isn't anyone going to say 'Welcome aboard'?"copyright protection30PENANA5wVEbLob6E

There was a very undignified welcoming-aboard ceremony.  Backs were pounded, hands were clasped; Nevtiri gave and received kisses; tears, cheers, and shouts of welcome echoed throughout the Transporter room, leaked out into the quiet corridors; heads turned, bodies followed.  Word spread like lightning throughout the great ship:  "Captain Sawyer is back!"copyright protection30PENANA9UwCjrtJen

Many hours later, Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn, and Balus Spock sat relaxed in Sawyer's quarters, a bottle of Saurian brandy on the desk.  Even Spock had taken a small glass in honor of the occasion.copyright protection30PENANA4B6S2ATewU

Sawyer had toured the entire ship, greeting everyone he knew and meeting those he didn't----replacements who'd come aboard while Spock was captain.  One or two of these wondered what all the shouting was about.  After the new---to them---captain moved on, they were told in long and careful detail by the old hands.copyright protection30PENANAPCqKhBvGMC

It'd been a very emotional day for Sawyer.  Now he was exhausted.  He lay back in his chair and luxuriated in the quiet and familiarity of his quarters.  "Well, Finn, Spock," he said. "It's been a long time.  I never thought I'd see this ship again."copyright protection30PENANAkVwRyQj1Ax

"Tom," Finn said, "You don't have to answer if you'd rather not, but I've been wondering----How much of what happened do you remember?"copyright protection30PENANAoE8vwb5pqB

"Some of it, Bones.  Funny thing---I remember very clearly how it all began.  It's been----what?---almost two years?  God!" He paused, then continued.  "I remember that girl, a pretty little thing.  Somehow I found myself taking her to dinner; we danced---I remember I'd had a couple of drinks.  I remember getting into a cab.  Must've passed out in that cab....."copyright protection30PENANAkfeKZvlvb8

"Probably drugged."copyright protection30PENANA7w3EnBvGD5

"Yes, could be.  Anyway, the next thing I knew, I woke up on a Psychlo ship.....Qlom said it could still be a glorious war.  Sort of----a private war.  Tried to question me.  When I refused, he got rough.  Gave me a choice:  tell, or he'd use the Encephlobasher.  I didn't tell."  Sawyer took a long drink from his glass and sat looking at it for a while.copyright protection30PENANAd2JmxgxDGX

"After that, well....I remember snatches of thing. Being shanghaied to the Land of the Lost. Beaming down with him to the main time doorway in the Lost City.  Thinking of Victoria, Spock, you.  Breaking away from him, rearranging the crystals on the matrix table and jumping.  I---I thought I had the right time, but, apparently, I didn't.  Then, very little.  I remember a big building, I remember someone who helped me---a girl---woman, I guess, who was gentle and kind."copyright protection30PENANAf0dtLcY6Ia

"That was the nurse we met, Nurse Cooper," Finn informed him.copyright protection30PENANAePGiu3UZKx

"Yes, I remember----Marissa Cooper?  Was that her name?  Funny, I don't remember that.  Guess I never knew it," he mused. "She was----good to me.  I wish I could have thanked her.  I think I could have..." He sighed.  "But now it's too late." He stopped thinking and seemed lost in thought.copyright protection30PENANA4YAOk85SLM

Finn glanced at Spock and moved restlessly in his chair.  He cleared his throat noisily and said, "I'm sorry, Tom.  I didn't mean to bring it all back to you."copyright protection30PENANAQ0N3uygtFY

Sawyer smiled quietly at him.  "That's okay, Bones.  Most of this is in my medical records.  You'll get copies of them.  The doctors went over and over it with me.   They said it was better for me to remember what I could, otherwise more than a year of my life would be gone."  He refilled his glass, offered more to Spock, who shook his head, gave Finn a refill, and once again leaned back in his chair.  "Spock, you think it will be all right about the time doorway....Qlom?"copyright protection30PENANADUNjchn6h7

"I achieved a certain rapport with Enik," Spock said, "and the doctor helped in talking to him.  When he understood what had been done to you, he understood that some beings are not like his people.  He will not permit the time doorway to be properly garrisoned and guarded against the Psychlos.  But he will allow a small scientific party dedicated to historical research.  I believe that he'd like other people to talk to than the Sleestaks."copyright protection30PENANAEm5faqngi8

Sawyer smiled gently. "Loneliness is not exclusively a Human emotion."copyright protection30PENANA289QcDos73

"No," Spock said very quietly.  His face set again. "We may pay for Enik's loneliness with accidents that could change history.  Nor do I care to have Qlom running loose.  However, he seems to be acting on his own.  A protest to the Empire and the Cyytians may be of use."copyright protection30PENANAqKXe4awrhN

Finn decided to change the subject.  Sawyer was becoming a little too quiet.  And Spock might say too much.  He turned to Spock.  "You could've knocked me over with a feather when I saw you standing there beside Tom in your blue science uniform, Spock," he said, awaiting the inevitable response."copyright protection30PENANAzV9Fak5yBo

"Why should I attempt to strike you down with the horny epidermal outgrowth of a bird, Dr. Finn?" Spock asked calmly, an eyebrow climbing into his hair.copyright protection30PENANAGExQuJtSbA

"Why, you green-skinned computer!" Finn flared. "You know what I meant!"copyright protection30PENANAWClUQp5mQm

"Then why did you not say what you meant, Doctor?"copyright protection30PENANAaqij5sEb1f

"I did say what I meant!" Finn sputtered.copyright protection30PENANAzHT7xnQ1g2

Tom Sawyer lay back in his chair and howled.  He choked and sputtered and laughed until the tears came into his eyes.  Finn and Spock turned to him.copyright protection30PENANACdEX8vndSe

"Ah-----Tom," Finn said; then, louder, "Tom!  What's wrong?"copyright protection30PENANAz2ERmJk0Vl

"Oh----ha----oh, my----ho, oh, Bones!  Spock!"  Sawyer sat up and wiped his eyes.  "Now I know I'm home.  You two idiots!"  He went off into another spasm of laughter.copyright protection30PENANAgv39CBxsCN

Finn grinned, turned to Spock, and winked.  A slight quirk lifted the corner of Spock's mouth---for him, a broad grin.  It was the first time since Tom Sawyers had disappeared that the two of them had entered into one of their famous "arguments."copyright protection30PENANAvf1ad9FAny

Finn turned back to Sawyer and said simply, "We're home, too, Tom." Then, to Spock, "Would you tell me, Spock?  I heard you announce to the crew that Tom was in command again, but why were you....ah....well, demoted?"copyright protection30PENANAOWAsOWc9X7

"I was not demoted, Doctor, because I was never really promoted."copyright protection30PENANAudCyne9UHM

"But---but, you were the captain.  You wore the stripes; the rank was yours."copyright protection30PENANAId1JneT3Pg

"In name only, Doctor.  That was the understanding under which I took over command of the Esmeralda---until the day that Tom came back."copyright protection30PENANABDdc619ia6

"You mean they didn't even offer.....?" Surprise silenced him effectively.copyright protection30PENANAqFk3dHinB0

"Yes, but I have told you many times, I do not...."copyright protection30PENANA9jdb3BpXEf

" '.......wish to command.' I know.  But lord!   Spock, you've been in command for almost two years!"copyright protection30PENANAdgSrsYtBhE

"If I were a Human, I would say that I 'disliked' it for two years, Doctor.  No.  I am quite---content to be what I am, science officer and second-in-command to Captain Thomas T. Sawyer."copyright protection30PENANAIIj2LxJ3Vk

"Yes, but....Look, Spock, why didn't....?"copyright protection30PENANA34EgfIRFFw

The intercom on the desk bleeped, and Sawyer leaned over to activate it.  "Sawyer here."copyright protection30PENANAUTMNkeMNQ3

"Captain, this is Nurse Thatcher.  Is Dr. Finn with you?"copyright protection30PENANAryLLAxjkAe

"Right here, Miss Thatcher.  Bones?"copyright protection30PENANAEEjjVz1MfH

"What is it, Nurse?"copyright protection30PENANAjaA5XVkJIb

"Doctor, Ensign Gale over Engineering slipped on a ladder----They think his leg is broken."copyright protection30PENANANaJzWk6gEH

"I'll be right there."  Finn snapped off the speaker and got up to leave.  "No rest for the weary.  Thanks for the brandy, Captain."  He walked to the door, then looked back.  "Glad you're back with us, Tom."  He smiled, then left.copyright protection30PENANAvjlODhoE3D

Spock stood up.  "I, too, must leave, Captain.  I have some things...."copyright protection30PENANAmnNWsLRNvA

"Spock, stay a minute more, please," Sawyer said. "Sit down."copyright protection30PENANAYiLISI3ZYH

"Yes, sir."  Spock reseated himself.copyright protection30PENANAHt13iEkGjo

"This is the first minute we've had alone.  I want to thank you," Sawyer said simply.copyright protection30PENANAkFL8CeTu1o

"Captain, you do not owe me any thanks.  I did what was necessary."copyright protection30PENANA40HQJAyMzw

"No, Spock.  You did much more.  Commodore Montoya told me how you----you practically begged him for the permission to go search for me, to go to the Land of the Lost, the Psychlos----to bring the Esmeralda back in time.  Told him you'd resign----or pull another stunt like Mudelury 12.  Now, for God's sake!  Don't get embarrassed." A slow tinge of green had started to spread across Spock's face.copyright protection30PENANAug0vji9DZt

"Sir!  Embarrassment is a Human emotion."copyright protection30PENANA1j8NsK1lf3

"Sure, I know. So why are you turning green?" Sawyer chuckled softly and continued. "Look, my friend, it's time you and I stopped fooling ourselves.  I know you have emotions, you know that I know, so why not admit it?  At least, in here"----Sawyer smiled---"I promise not to tell Finn."copyright protection30PENANAKj3saN2IzB

Spock didn't speak for a moment.  He seemed to be struggling with himself; then he looked into Sawyer's eyes and smiled ever so slightly as he said, "Captain----Tom. I am what I am.  I cannot change."copyright protection30PENANAf4SfzbxJPx

Sawyer didn't insist.  Even this much was a great concession. "I know, Spock. I hope you don't change---too much."  He paused for a minute; then:  "When sanity began to filter back to me, finally, in that place I was in, I remember thinking of you, Spock.  It was one of the first realities I remember.  Somewhere there was a---a friend I called 'Spock.'  Where, I didn't know, but somewhere.   Then, when you did come, I acted so...." Sawyer stopped; it was his turn to be embarrassed.copyright protection30PENANAdRRlEj6GFl

"Tom, that was not you----that was the Encephlobasher," Spock said gently.copyright protection30PENANAJpFMRPATya

"Yeah, I suppose so."  Sawyer finished his drink and pushed the glass aside.  "But why did you not give up?  Why throw the book at Montoya on an impossible chance?"copyright protection30PENANAvNen3OzByp

"I know Qlom had you, but Montoya, at first, would not...."copyright protection30PENANA8LhZ7WjdCY

"You knew?" Sawyer broke in.copyright protection30PENANAzlnf7f5I9D

"Yes, Tom.  I----heard you cry out to me when the Encephlobasher's force hit you."copyright protection30PENANASEr62uUC5t

"I---I didn't know," Sawyer said. "I----tried not to break, but..."copyright protection30PENANA1deidlewzR

"Tom, I too have been subjected to the agony of the Encephlobasher. I know what it can do.  You could not help yourself," Spock said, compassion for what Tom Sawyer had endured showing clearly in his eyes.copyright protection30PENANAu8cSok8t2h

For a time, silence fell between them, as each remembered his separate hell; then Sawyer drew a shuddering breath.  "I am thankful you heard me, although I couldn't hope you would."copyright protection30PENANA6UWy0Y2VB8

"I tried to tell Montoya," Spock explained. "He did not believe me.  He thought you were dead, Tom.  He offered me command of the Esmeralda---as captain.  I considered resigning, but I needed the ship, and he finally gambled with me.  Said he'd seen me go off on my own before.  It would be safer.  I took the command, under the conditions you heard me explain to Dr. Finn." He sighed.  "I told Finn and Gordon when I had evidence.  Interesting....they believed me before they saw it."copyright protection30PENANApCmDVzZa6y

Sawyer leaned back in his chair and smiled.  "Well, as long as you found me!"  A thought struck him. "Bal, this idea that you could read my mind over a vast distance---what does that mean?"copyright protection30PENANA1BHeu5yCzA

"Does the thought disturb you, Tom?"copyright protection30PENANAUGuQevPgrq

"I---don't know---Do you----?  Can you 'read' me all the time?"copyright protection30PENANAoQ3KuZktaq

"No, Tom.  Very seldom.  Not unless I am in physical contact with you, as in the mind-meld.  Nor would I if I could, for it would be an invasion of----No, it must have been the intense agony of the Encephlobasher, your great need....." Spock hesitated.copyright protection30PENANA2c2KqwQY9p

"My great need for your help, my friend," Sawyer added quietly.  "It seems I always turn to you when I need help."copyright protection30PENANAz353TjzJA0

"As I have turned to you, Tom.  It is because we----we need each other that our minds are drawn together."copyright protection30PENANA9ZRdJld4Pn

"Well, let's hope the occasion doesn't arise too often," Sawyer said.  "Anyway, I appreciate your staking your career to search for me."copyright protection30PENANAvRAxB14rZd

"Captain, it was only my wish that Fleet would not lose the services of a fine officer."copyright protection30PENANARygWCafcTQ

"Shut up, Spock!  I don't believe you."  Sawyer grinned at him.copyright protection30PENANAc2P4gzptDe

"Sir?"copyright protection30PENANAR96rGItLas

"Never mind. I'm grateful.  From what Montoya told me, everyone else gave up----even Finn."copyright protection30PENANAY11fXEpdQi

"But only after all searching had failed, Tom," Spock broke in quickly.  "Finn was the last to lose hope."  Sawyer realized that Spock was actually defending the doctor.copyright protection30PENANA43lT7Bsx56

"Yes, I'm sure of that.  Well, I don't feel any resentment.  I probably would have given up, too.  Still.....thank you."copyright protection30PENANALWfSoWARHK

Spock nodded slightly, accepting what Sawyer had said.copyright protection30PENANAkGMmVK1lYR

"Just one more thing, Spock."  Sawyer straightened in his chair.  "The doctors told me what you did after you brought me back, how you used the mind-meld to erase the fears my name triggered in my mind, how you took that into your own mind and conquered it.  I can never repay...."copyright protection30PENANAD2VYV2AnzF

"Tom, please.  Do not say more.  I did what was necessary.  I know how to overcome the effects of the Encephlobasher.  You did not, you could not."  He stood then, and Sawyer did too, stretching languidly.  He was tired, but it felt good.  He'd rested so darn much in the hospital, regaining his strength and health; they'd never let him get tired.copyright protection30PENANAulCJd1FOSn

"I understand we will resume our mission now, Captain?" Spock asked.copyright protection30PENANAyd4lz05Bl3

"Just as soon as we're refueled and restocked, Spock.  Then, it's back to the old grind."copyright protection30PENANAsY5nX0qyo0

" 'Back to'----?"copyright protection30PENANAdSlQCzRinJ

"Just one of my old Human expressions," Sawyer laughed.  "By now, you should know I'm full of them."copyright protection30PENANAFWXJhxJm85

"Yes, Captain, you do seem to have one to fit every occasion.   There is one, however, that I believe fits this occasion," Spock said solemnly.copyright protection30PENANAqA3vY1wpzV

"What's that?"copyright protection30PENANApNNLDqkuII

" 'Welcome home,' Tom.  Welcome home!"copyright protection30PENANAeoEb8WISjQ

THE ENDcopyright protection30PENANAXJr1fq2LPC

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