Avenger: Chapter 4

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CHAPTER FOUR

"Best medicine I could prescribe," McCoy announced, leading Sulu, Uhura and Marakil into a starbase bar. "There's some relaxing those pain­killers can't help you do," he added, the Southern accent getting stronger as Marakil opened her mouth to protest.

"We have a whole day of shore leave for shopping," Uhura reminded her. "Humor him." Her voice was thick with repressed laughter.

"Humor me? Uhura, I'm surprised at you." Trying to look offended, but failing miserably, McCoy led them to a center table. A waitress appeared immediately to take their orders. "I'll have an Aldebaran Sea Witch. Anyone brave enough to join me?"

"What is it?" Marakil asked.

"A daquiri with a hazel nut. Don't bother," Sulu said grinning.

"Oh." Marakil shrugged. "I don't suppose you carry Romulan ale?" The waitress stared, wide-eyed. "A Phoenix Rising, then." She pretended astonishment when the others asked what it was. "It's rather hard to describe. An acquired taste. You can try mine if you like."

Two Klingons entered the bar as the waitress brought their drinks, blocking their vision. The starbase being open to all races and governments, Klingons usually kept to a bar specializing in their own brand of alcohol. With their arrival, the patrons discretely left, one by one. McCoy's party didn't notice them.

"You drink that?" McCoy grinned, staring at Marakil's drink. Four fluids swirled slowly in the tall, thin beaker, never mixing. They ranged from pale gold to orange-amber in color. Streaks of brown powder circulated through the drink. "It's nice to watch -- but to swallow?"

"I assure you, there's no danger in it." To prove her words, Marakil sipped at her drink. "In fact, it's not even alcoholic."

"Then what's the use of drinking it?"

"Dr. McCoy!" Uhura laughed, but Sulu had just spotted the Klingons by the counter, studying the room with baleful looks, and he did not join in.

"It's made of spice oils, tonics, and powdered herbs. Besides clearing the head and sharpening the senses, it's supposed to cure the flu."

"Now you've gone too far, young lady." McCoy was enjoying himself. "Do you really expect me to believe all that?"

"I'm only repeating what I've heard. It was invented by a doctor on Campforia." Marakil smiled impishly and lifted her glass to drink.

"Reason enough to leave it alone! Sulu, what's wrong with you? Shore leave is for having fun."

Sulu gestured, tight-lipped, with his head. Marakil had to turn to see what drove the merriment from their faces. Her hands tightened on the rim of the table until her knuckles were white. She muttered in a low, angry voice. From the gutturals, McCoy hazarded a guess she had used an extremely harsh Canrisian oath. Whatever, he agreed with her. With this delicate mission coming up, who could say these Klingons weren't spying on them?

"We should warn the captain," Sulu muttered, trying to study the Klingons without appearing to do so. The low lighting helped.

"Marakil, are you all right?" Uhura asked, concerned.

"Klingons." She muttered a few more Canrisian words. "I had hoped not to see them this far into the Federation. Please, can we leave?" She looked to McCoy as if she were about to be violently ill.

"Maybe we'd better." He stood without looking at the Klingons. If those two were spies, departing would let them know they had been seen and suspected.

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