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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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14
13 Mins Read
No Plagiarism!sviE75FyP5vgtVG63VbUposted 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 protection14PENANA2lk1fQlhM7

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 protection14PENANAaeDsSKyyin

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 protection14PENANAEOD7JjeNfp

Only Finn and Spock had seen Sawyer after they whisked him into seclusion.copyright protection14PENANAHiK2k0SFhF

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  He looked more peaceful, but extremely withdrawn, still allowing Spock to carry him through the cleared halls.copyright protection14PENANAMsUqVNatlt

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 protection14PENANAR0iu82OmP4

Finn had been as closemouthed as Spock, and Finn had finally given up on him.copyright protection14PENANAMxmxzGxslO

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 protection14PENANA88h2ycQIFc

And now Spock had beamed down, an hour ago, to Montoya's office and the Base hospital.copyright protection14PENANAcwcu1kwPGm

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 protection14PENANATtTg0tWyVh

Gordon sighed.  A man could hope.copyright protection14PENANAm3pE6XQWGv

Suddenly Nevtiri spoke.copyright protection14PENANA8S2kn3FUTm

"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 protection14PENANAhNPa3QEZoz

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 protection14PENANAhLDGpKEfGk

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 protection14PENANAKPdNaAQPvK

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 protection14PENANAbMx0XBQBAf

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 protection14PENANAbR0PypzcEf

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 protection14PENANAxp5Kcfl34Q

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 protection14PENANANgDlhAW8cx

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 protection14PENANAnnpncXNMar

"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 protection14PENANA2HR7s4nN7s

"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 protection14PENANAEVIhhZSe75

"Probably drugged."copyright protection14PENANALvsbSF9Frj

"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 protection14PENANA7t1ZBt3Ygb

"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 protection14PENANAqV68co85Cg

"That was the nurse we met, Nurse Cooper," Finn informed him.copyright protection14PENANAanLDzDjIjK

"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 protection14PENANA2re4qQxtOO

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 protection14PENANAEeJLnW9v2L

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 protection14PENANALc9wPJa8rt

"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 protection14PENANATuV8ylY5ON

Sawyer smiled gently. "Loneliness is not exclusively a Human emotion."copyright protection14PENANAUt1DfpAoVC

"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 protection14PENANAaGPkdE3oNu

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 protection14PENANASHYNQx8OCX

"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 protection14PENANACxrDbG3L4Y

"Why, you green-skinned computer!" Finn flared. "You know what I meant!"copyright protection14PENANAofFdzSSChG

"Then why did you not say what you meant, Doctor?"copyright protection14PENANA79o6WeD53g

"I did say what I meant!" Finn sputtered.copyright protection14PENANA2FNtjY9mKe

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 protection14PENANAk8uZm3SeG9

"Ah-----Tom," Finn said; then, louder, "Tom!  What's wrong?"copyright protection14PENANAVNijTfxxkA

"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 protection14PENANANngAQzz0Vj

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 protection14PENANAfgsJfPM83s

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 protection14PENANAhYgAi9PPGa

"I was not demoted, Doctor, because I was never really promoted."copyright protection14PENANAquxG5ngEoc

"But---but, you were the captain.  You wore the stripes; the rank was yours."copyright protection14PENANAYDsrnIg9Qk

"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 protection14PENANAC8jTJB3yrK

"You mean they didn't even offer.....?" Surprise silenced him effectively.copyright protection14PENANAIRefyjDOY2

"Yes, but I have told you many times, I do not...."copyright protection14PENANA0WFto3bEd2

" '.......wish to command.' I know.  But lord!   Spock, you've been in command for almost two years!"copyright protection14PENANAYPbhJUTMsk

"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 protection14PENANAwbbKrK45z2

"Yes, but....Look, Spock, why didn't....?"copyright protection14PENANA7zZN3nQe23

The intercom on the desk bleeped, and Sawyer leaned over to activate it.  "Sawyer here."copyright protection14PENANAh0TsiCmboP

"Captain, this is Nurse Thatcher.  Is Dr. Finn with you?"copyright protection14PENANAvU1HFtsJy1

"Right here, Miss Thatcher.  Bones?"copyright protection14PENANALGBLtE8kTa

"What is it, Nurse?"copyright protection14PENANAnabhDuU0Gi

"Doctor, Ensign Gale over Engineering slipped on a ladder----They think his leg is broken."copyright protection14PENANAQcdRTTklDT

"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 protection14PENANAnpzYa3Djnw

Spock stood up.  "I, too, must leave, Captain.  I have some things...."copyright protection14PENANAuLHF2l9XlQ

"Spock, stay a minute more, please," Sawyer said. "Sit down."copyright protection14PENANAgb2t3Vnnh0

"Yes, sir."  Spock reseated himself.copyright protection14PENANAhFpQDzTgTh

"This is the first minute we've had alone.  I want to thank you," Sawyer said simply.copyright protection14PENANANn2u25Qc2b

"Captain, you do not owe me any thanks.  I did what was necessary."copyright protection14PENANA2in4Mq09Oi

"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 protection14PENANAa5XzWB9QS2

"Sir!  Embarrassment is a Human emotion."copyright protection14PENANA7Fp9ase0Fh

"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 protection14PENANAcIzzNl0NvP

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 protection14PENANA6FV4fRFpIy

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 protection14PENANAsPdSZoleo0

"Tom, that was not you----that was the Encephlobasher," Spock said gently.copyright protection14PENANAvBI4bwqbjW

"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 protection14PENANA1qBWuROahw

"I know Qlom had you, but Montoya, at first, would not...."copyright protection14PENANAIJmWClkXzJ

"You knew?" Sawyer broke in.copyright protection14PENANAY4kH9vdzHx

"Yes, Tom.  I----heard you cry out to me when the Encephlobasher's force hit you."copyright protection14PENANAvIX7EsZtCg

"I---I didn't know," Sawyer said. "I----tried not to break, but..."copyright protection14PENANAZl0lhDHBAg

"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 protection14PENANAlzkFgtbu3S

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 protection14PENANA1yAZGfsFI5

"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 protection14PENANAWIqX4IALkb

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 protection14PENANA2FKmk1QvvT

"Does the thought disturb you, Tom?"copyright protection14PENANAoxrZx8eZNX

"I---don't know---Do you----?  Can you 'read' me all the time?"copyright protection14PENANA5KGvHLehxy

"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 protection14PENANAtzdeWyfM4L

"My great need for your help, my friend," Sawyer added quietly.  "It seems I always turn to you when I need help."copyright protection14PENANAFsj7rRfGQ3

"As I have turned to you, Tom.  It is because we----we need each other that our minds are drawn together."copyright protection14PENANAEWNlsu6GME

"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 protection14PENANAeferta0JW4

"Captain, it was only my wish that Fleet would not lose the services of a fine officer."copyright protection14PENANAvBwOJYFYFw

"Shut up, Spock!  I don't believe you."  Sawyer grinned at him.copyright protection14PENANA1ksPFUjMB6

"Sir?"copyright protection14PENANAqPmEhQOizL

"Never mind. I'm grateful.  From what Montoya told me, everyone else gave up----even Finn."copyright protection14PENANAm4nTT6Sy4x

"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 protection14PENANA56RxVwsfj4

"Yes, I'm sure of that.  Well, I don't feel any resentment.  I probably would have given up, too.  Still.....thank you."copyright protection14PENANAlJUHocxdu7

Spock nodded slightly, accepting what Sawyer had said.copyright protection14PENANAYQcmJ5sBEx

"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 protection14PENANA9JD1hzyKOR

"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 protection14PENANAO9BIRZUpdo

"I understand we will resume our mission now, Captain?" Spock asked.copyright protection14PENANAxceJyYO0At

"Just as soon as we're refueled and restocked, Spock.  Then, it's back to the old grind."copyright protection14PENANAyKcbLtLjdz

" 'Back to'----?"copyright protection14PENANAa2JMKBLE1Z

"Just one of my old Human expressions," Sawyer laughed.  "By now, you should know I'm full of them."copyright protection14PENANA3ybiiKg6KR

"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 protection14PENANAAjBMvnggGt

"What's that?"copyright protection14PENANAPRvzDgapVb

" 'Welcome home,' Tom.  Welcome home!"copyright protection14PENANApYKAg2kx95

THE ENDcopyright protection14PENANApJo1vToMa5

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