Avenger: Chapter 2

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By the start of their next watch, Spock had found nothing. No one looked like the mysterious engineer. Not crew or passengers. More important, no one had the psi strength to attempt the meld with Spock. Kirk read the results off the screen at Spock's station and let out a sigh of frustration. He hated mysteries -- especially when the crew was tired out from their last mission and had no shore leave in the foreseeable future. Commenting that something had to show up soon, he asked Spock to continue looking and returned to the command chair. Then he noticed the frown on Sulu's face.

"Not exactly," the helmsman said when asked if something was wrong.

He checked his board, then turned to Kirk. "I just thought I knew everyone on the Enterprise by now."

"Someone you don't recognize?" Kirk asked with careful calm. He looked up to see Spock following the conversation.

"It had to be a passenger, but she wore an engineer's uniform." Sulu grinned sheepishly as he went on. "I was fencing with Marakil when this pretty little engineer walked in and asked Marakil to work with q'ta staffs later on. We don't have any on the ship, so how would she know about them unless she was training with Marakil? But Marakil didn't seem to know her."

"Maybe we should talk with Lt. Marakil. Just to be sure." Kirk preceded Spock to the turbo lift.

They found the cabin easily enough, as Marakil and her teammates had been quartered near the xenobiologists. Kirk pressed the buzzer, and there was the sound of something or someone moving around the cabin for a moment before the door slid open. Marakil was alone. Her hair was wet, making the blue streak stand out even more markedly from the blackness of her hair. She wore a black robe that absorbed all the light that hit it and made her skin seem deathly pale in contrast. For a moment, she stared at her two visitors, and a pale flush darkened her cheeks.

"Lt. Marakil?" he asked. She nodded. "I'm Capt. Kirk, and this is Cmdr. Spock. There have been a few strange events on board ship, and we were hoping you could help us since you were present at one of them."

"I'll try, sir. Please, come in." She stood back from the door and gestured for them to come in and sit down.

Though the cabin held three, it was comparatively neat. Their attention fastened on the hand Marakil had gestured with. The index, middle finger, and thumb were streaked with black, from the first knuckle to the tip. Marakil did not hide her hand.

"I was doing calligraphy before you came, and I spilled the ink." She smiled and picked up a cloth to wipe the stains from her hands, using the contents of a jar already open on the desk. Kirk nodded as he and Spock sat down. "Now, what is happening?"

Briefly, Kirk told her about the two engineers, and then Spock described the strange vibrations he had felt, and his theory that the stranger had been trying to meld minds with him. "We were hoping someone on your team was playing tricks," Kirk added. Marakil was quiet a while, then shook her head.

"I don't know about the man, but there was something strange about the woman. She asked for q'ta staffs, which from Canris. We do not teach our battle methods to strangers. I swear the truth that I never saw her face before today." Marakil shrugged. "I'm sorry."

"I understand." Kirk got up to leave. Spock followed, his attention on the lytherrette standing up in a corner. Once they were in the passageway, with Marakil's door closed behind them, he let out a sigh of frustration. "Well, it was a chance. What do you think, Spock?"

"I detect a good deal of truth in her statements --"

"She lied about something?"

"Lt. Marakil is a sensitive. She gives off a higher intensity of vibrations when something upsets her, no matter how well she conceals it. She may know something, but only subconsciously." Spock paused, considering his next statement. "I sensed the presence again, in the cabin. It did not come from Lt. Marakil, but some object in the cabin, trying to touch my subconscious. And whatever it is, has learned stealth."

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