For the first time in a very long time, McCoy actually saw an emotion fill the Vulcan’s expressionless features – horror.
“Doctor, only the primary continent is affected; it is not truly a plague planet in the definition of the word. Surely –“
“And do you really think his remote access to the transporter didn’t do more than just pirate the same coordinates that we beamed the medical rescue party to?”
Angry as he was at both Jim and Spock, his heart went out to the poor Vulcan; without changing posture or expression, the stiff figure seemed to literally droop with weary dismay, heedless of the personnel entering and exiting the corridor around them. “I had not even considered that possibility of damage to the child’s psyche if beamed down, given that the planet is only affected in one continent,” Spock admitted quietly.
These two were going to be the death of his sanity, McCoy thought sourly, and he was going to smack them both good upside the heads when all this was over. “It’s not something you would have thought about,” he said, not unkindly, simply matter-of-fact. “Regardless, I should have specified, given the kid a reason why he couldn’t beam down, not just told him he wasn’t medically fit. We’re both to blame. But now we gotta find him, Spock.”
“Indeed.” The Vulcan’s eyes sharpened with purpose. “I shall alert Security and begin beaming down search parties; with his most recent bio-scans from Sickbay, we should be able to pinpoint his location even amongst humanoids due to the unusual energy readings of the Regenratron from the cellular level.”
“Hold it,” the doctor said, reaching out a hand to halt the Acting Captain’s exit. He carefully didn’t touch the Vulcan, since there were other people around and he knew Spock would not appreciate the physical contact, but he blocked the way as best he could. “As Chief Medical Officer of this ship, I can’t let you put the majority of our Ops personnel in medical danger just in search of one crewman.”
Spock halted in his tracks, and turned.
McCoy refused to quail under the deadly frozen gaze. “I want to find him as much as you do, Mr. Spock,” he said quietly. “But you’re not going to endanger the crew of his ship, sending them down into a possible plague zone.”
Duty warred with concern for a moment in the dark eyes, before the former silenced the latter and Spock nodded reluctantly. “You are correct, Doctor. Have you a viable alternative idea, which we could utilize to locate the captain?”
He swallowed, because he had no clue. And much as he’d like to see a hundred fifty red-shirts swarm the capital city he knew Jim would absolutely have a fit if they put that many people into danger for his sake – or for anyone else’s sake, for that matter. “Not at the moment,” he admitted. “And this is Jim Kirk we’re talking about, Spock. If he doesn’t want to be found, then chances are we won’t be able to find him anyhow, even if –“
“Excuse me, sir? Captain, Doctor McCoy?”
They both turned at the new voice, McCoy before Spock; the Vulcan still had not grown accustomed to being referred to by the crew as captain and not first officer.
“Sir, forgive me for interrupting, but word does spread quickly on a starship. I’d like to volunteer to beam to the surface to find Ji – er, the captain.”
“We were discussing the matter, Lieutenant; you will be notified if you can be of assistance in the search.” Spock’s tone was polite but dismissive; all they needed was an onslaught of well-meaning crewmen trying to be heroes, especially non-Security personnel.
“Sir, with all due respect, I’m probably the only one who can be of assistance to you,” the lieutenant declared with self-assured sincerity.
“Oh, and why’s that?” McCoy asked, arms folded, and trying to think why the young man’s face rang an alarm bell somewhere in his memory...something he should already have thought of, and hadn’t for one reason or another.
“Because,” Kevin Riley replied dryly, “with all due respect, sirs, I rather think I know the mind of thirteen-year-old Jim Kirk a lot better than either of you.”