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Encephalobasher
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Co-Writer Paul Robison*
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Encephalobasher
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Intro 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
#9
Paul Robison
Nov 16, 2017
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13 Mins Read
No Plagiarism!5bZ2lOFw6IiOpHhEvSgZposted 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 protection21PENANAufbJG5b4r9

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 protection21PENANAkxkjzG8fde

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 protection21PENANAYv3ndk2Idi

Only Finn and Spock had seen Sawyer after they whisked him into seclusion.copyright protection21PENANAHHyTqeZBjq

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  He looked more peaceful, but extremely withdrawn, still allowing Spock to carry him through the cleared halls.copyright protection21PENANALDY5XyL6OY

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 protection21PENANAkMunaHIcpV

Finn had been as closemouthed as Spock, and Finn had finally given up on him.copyright protection21PENANAv7C303iZFB

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 protection21PENANAqqfpvcXhjL

And now Spock had beamed down, an hour ago, to Montoya's office and the Base hospital.copyright protection21PENANAgDyK1IrKVR

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 protection21PENANAGqYjuZmMZ2

Gordon sighed.  A man could hope.copyright protection21PENANAnpsDPYQNg9

Suddenly Nevtiri spoke.copyright protection21PENANAzxN7hOQJzL

"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 protection21PENANAAfbzyGyVsx

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 protection21PENANAXQXqtMojAF

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 protection21PENANAs9cfgu47eE

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 protection21PENANASPT4osKXnc

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 protection21PENANAul3sLxfaQP

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 protection21PENANAPjZ2zgwEnK

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 protection21PENANAjfzcjYF3V2

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 protection21PENANAgqnkT9R8jI

"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 protection21PENANAY92XbBdIgA

"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 protection21PENANAtzP2M91scW

"Probably drugged."copyright protection21PENANAvtnSNg2Epl

"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 protection21PENANAmnuokG0yoh

"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 protection21PENANA8RRYUE7V6k

"That was the nurse we met, Nurse Cooper," Finn informed him.copyright protection21PENANASBOfuBwwfV

"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 protection21PENANASCin1D32br

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 protection21PENANAkkjcjdQr9X

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 protection21PENANAL1zzh4bNAr

"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 protection21PENANAJt41Q6ET8Q

Sawyer smiled gently. "Loneliness is not exclusively a Human emotion."copyright protection21PENANAltbFFuTvV2

"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 protection21PENANAtH42hm6saH

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 protection21PENANAUTbYU14zVd

"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 protection21PENANAqhGBXl5QR1

"Why, you green-skinned computer!" Finn flared. "You know what I meant!"copyright protection21PENANATkJYn0kutu

"Then why did you not say what you meant, Doctor?"copyright protection21PENANAcnonmjpqTl

"I did say what I meant!" Finn sputtered.copyright protection21PENANADjCjVzF1qw

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 protection21PENANA2jRLhfMBKf

"Ah-----Tom," Finn said; then, louder, "Tom!  What's wrong?"copyright protection21PENANA6WDvkZOJpH

"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 protection21PENANA531HnWh2XH

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 protection21PENANAz01rMiGyUq

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 protection21PENANAO0nrvHqkrQ

"I was not demoted, Doctor, because I was never really promoted."copyright protection21PENANA1wT2ehZwjX

"But---but, you were the captain.  You wore the stripes; the rank was yours."copyright protection21PENANAeTXfkJx1is

"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 protection21PENANAr6sPyYwZjY

"You mean they didn't even offer.....?" Surprise silenced him effectively.copyright protection21PENANAPkvJnK1ngk

"Yes, but I have told you many times, I do not...."copyright protection21PENANAkuehKy1hAk

" '.......wish to command.' I know.  But lord!   Spock, you've been in command for almost two years!"copyright protection21PENANAJ1qcQZbnYu

"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 protection21PENANAmOPRxdByAR

"Yes, but....Look, Spock, why didn't....?"copyright protection21PENANATVm8d6Heoh

The intercom on the desk bleeped, and Sawyer leaned over to activate it.  "Sawyer here."copyright protection21PENANAy8jZk9YwxW

"Captain, this is Nurse Thatcher.  Is Dr. Finn with you?"copyright protection21PENANA1TKRKi5mRG

"Right here, Miss Thatcher.  Bones?"copyright protection21PENANAdLBATOHA35

"What is it, Nurse?"copyright protection21PENANARBdaBykz5S

"Doctor, Ensign Gale over Engineering slipped on a ladder----They think his leg is broken."copyright protection21PENANAw7LgYwz3Sr

"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 protection21PENANAK6clH5aoGd

Spock stood up.  "I, too, must leave, Captain.  I have some things...."copyright protection21PENANAtxOHIpg3Zl

"Spock, stay a minute more, please," Sawyer said. "Sit down."copyright protection21PENANAVvsHMrdmv6

"Yes, sir."  Spock reseated himself.copyright protection21PENANANfdZBU5LiL

"This is the first minute we've had alone.  I want to thank you," Sawyer said simply.copyright protection21PENANAYMjNu2cK5c

"Captain, you do not owe me any thanks.  I did what was necessary."copyright protection21PENANA60HzHu0VQw

"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 protection21PENANA2ELfDm9I8s

"Sir!  Embarrassment is a Human emotion."copyright protection21PENANAu6eNTJP6tU

"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 protection21PENANAiAV09Duazl

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 protection21PENANAGBZsQDP0mX

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 protection21PENANAsQ3HDXqt3T

"Tom, that was not you----that was the Encephlobasher," Spock said gently.copyright protection21PENANAoltkmDXRNw

"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 protection21PENANAcu8cWYQLZc

"I know Qlom had you, but Montoya, at first, would not...."copyright protection21PENANAJr2N8GKy9N

"You knew?" Sawyer broke in.copyright protection21PENANAsy9WSvAQmn

"Yes, Tom.  I----heard you cry out to me when the Encephlobasher's force hit you."copyright protection21PENANAnzSvMOuCAt

"I---I didn't know," Sawyer said. "I----tried not to break, but..."copyright protection21PENANAOjUQ73xRCG

"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 protection21PENANAE4fN17jBXG

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 protection21PENANAZkfRQ2GkEg

"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 protection21PENANAOtAIkHMRyo

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 protection21PENANAydsN1uVk5T

"Does the thought disturb you, Tom?"copyright protection21PENANA05egW4jDpX

"I---don't know---Do you----?  Can you 'read' me all the time?"copyright protection21PENANATdruWLcICL

"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 protection21PENANA6aYzY04Tla

"My great need for your help, my friend," Sawyer added quietly.  "It seems I always turn to you when I need help."copyright protection21PENANAMmf0Cc5WPu

"As I have turned to you, Tom.  It is because we----we need each other that our minds are drawn together."copyright protection21PENANATJHkdE6qmI

"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 protection21PENANAbtTa3Ra7Lw

"Captain, it was only my wish that Fleet would not lose the services of a fine officer."copyright protection21PENANAhxSwyvJDry

"Shut up, Spock!  I don't believe you."  Sawyer grinned at him.copyright protection21PENANA8lhQFvuMWR

"Sir?"copyright protection21PENANAu7kninftu0

"Never mind. I'm grateful.  From what Montoya told me, everyone else gave up----even Finn."copyright protection21PENANAZMyRj7n2LO

"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 protection21PENANABT9TJPpeBl

"Yes, I'm sure of that.  Well, I don't feel any resentment.  I probably would have given up, too.  Still.....thank you."copyright protection21PENANA56tpuLNJfi

Spock nodded slightly, accepting what Sawyer had said.copyright protection21PENANAKf4j7oquqb

"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 protection21PENANAi15sVPik3T

"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 protection21PENANAF9Z9ztVmda

"I understand we will resume our mission now, Captain?" Spock asked.copyright protection21PENANAFXpKgw8H1y

"Just as soon as we're refueled and restocked, Spock.  Then, it's back to the old grind."copyright protection21PENANATkAYMvO4QR

" 'Back to'----?"copyright protection21PENANAYv0YEzszWF

"Just one of my old Human expressions," Sawyer laughed.  "By now, you should know I'm full of them."copyright protection21PENANAKBDalUHuCI

"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 protection21PENANA3v2DuP9iUZ

"What's that?"copyright protection21PENANAaSvbRaLjKH

" 'Welcome home,' Tom.  Welcome home!"copyright protection21PENANAZujCFFxm99

THE ENDcopyright protection21PENANA5cE8Q8X0rS

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