Saavik pushed onward, east towards the others, the hard, fast thuds of her boots against the ground silencing the hidden wildlife. She knew now that she should never have allowed the rest of her team to separate, but she had been uncertain of how to convince them that her idea was the better of the two.
Indeed, the vistas from the canyon to the west would certainly have been remarkable, but not worth what she now faced only twenty minutes into what should be routine Rest and Relaxation.
Saavik opened her chiming communicator as she ran.
“Yes, Commander, I am within two kilometers of the beamdown point. Has the rest of the team made any contact?”
“No, Lieutenant. All the other teams have been beamed back aboard pending your discovery of the whereabouts of Warfield and the others.”
Saavik noted that Commander Stuart gave no leeway in her statement. Saavik would be the one to find them, and no one else would be risked. Good. That was how it should be. She was new to the crew and the first thing she had done was lose her entire team. She wanted to be the one to find them, but even if she did, she was sure that this incident would affect her chances to command any future landing parties. The fact that she had been assigned to this team was indicative that Stuart wanted to test her, obviously, since everyone knew that Warfield was on the promotion list and would soon outrank Saavik.
Saavik reached the beam down point and scanned the entire area with her tricorder, but as before, it gave spurious readings in the direction the others had taken. No doubt these were the same readings that hid their biosigns from the Aerfen, floating in orbit above them. The others had wanted to investigate, hoping to find caves or mineral deposits to explore, but Saavik took the opportunity to go east. It should not have mattered. This was supposed to be R&R for the crew, and try as she might, she still could not imagine how she could have ordered them to follow her. She had been contacted as soon as the Aerfen lost her team’s biosigns.
Saavik’s gaze fixed momentarily on her tricorder. This was not her fleet issue one, but a personal tricorder that she had had for years. It was one of the first things she had ever possessed, and when Warfield had tried to beg it off her to use on her explorations, it had been all Saavik could do not to shout , “No!”. That had been her second wrong decision of the day, but after their jibes about her bringing her tricorder along on R&R, she was not about to acquiesce to them.
Passing the beamdown point, Saavik continued to make her way west, and after coming to a small rise, crossed into a field of thick, green, waist high vegetation, some of which was still beaten down from the passage of the others earlier. Their trail was easy to follow in spite of the dense vegetation, and Saavik switched off the tricorder so that she could concentrate on picking up her pace. The tops of the stalks were sticky and left tiny barbs of stuff on her uniform as she ran, until at last she was through and climbing the rocks beyond the field. She jogged the next rise until she looked back and down. She felt a dizziness sweep over her and leaned back against the rocks as she carefully pulled out her tricorder and, turning it on herself, took her own scan. Even more so than before, the tricorder’s readout was puzzling and intermittent. Saavik’s own bioscans made no sense, and scans of the rocks were jumbled.
Surmising that the rocks’ mineral composition somehow interfered with the tricorder functions, and perhaps the sensors on the Aerfen, she climbed deliberately down the other side of the rise. After moving a good distance away, she turned the tricorder to scan to the west, and was rewarded with scattered frequencies that corresponded to Starfleet communicators.
“Saavik to Warfield.” Silence.
“Saavik to Team Two.” Still no answer.
“Saavik to Aerfen.”
“Any luck, Mr. Saavik?” said Commander Stuart’s voice.
“I am picking up communicator frequencies, but the landing party does not answer.”
“Proceed with caution, Lieutenant. Aerfen standing by.”
Again the dizziness hit her, and Saavik, stumbling on through the sand, looked west towards the spinning horizon. She refused to acknowledge the gnawing in her mind to inform Stuart of her physical state. Saavik had lost this team and she was determined to be the one to find them.
She pushed on doggedly, as lightheadedness compounded the spinning landscape until at last she had to sit still. Resting with her back against an embankment of rock, she used her biocontrol to try and still the spinning, but stopped when she heard the screams behind her.
Saavik turned, scrambling up the embankment with little thought for her own safety, and stopped abruptly at the sight she did not want to find. There on the bank of a pool, surrounded by the same sensor blocking rock, were the uniforms of her team lying lifeless. Next to them lay the communicators. Saavik stared at them until a scream sounded across the pool, causing her to jerk her head up sharply.
“No! Not Again!” screamed Warfield, as she, naked and grasped by her wrists and ankles, was swung and then flung off the edge of the cliff; the taunts and jeers of the rest of Saavik’s team followed her into the water below.
Saavik was unsure of anything except that she felt unwell. “TenSchun!” she commanded, as taken back as everyone else by the slurred word. She suddenly slipped and landed unceremoniously on her backside, sending little pebbles down into the pool with Warfield. This brought hoots from the rest of the team, but a worried look from Warfield.
“It’s not funny,” she yelled. “Something’s wrong with her. Get over there before she falls in.”
The three other team members moved as quickly as they could in their bare feet around the sides of the rock pool. Warfield swam the hundred meters or so across and climbed up the side to Saavik, who remained exactly as she had landed.
Warfield’s face filled Saavik field of view. “You alright, Saavik? You don’t look very good.”
“’Course ‘malright.” Saavik looked at Warfield and couldn’t believe the giggle that built in her throat. “You’re out of uniform, mishter.”
“She’s drunk!” added Ensign Winston, joining them.
“I don’t think Vulcans get drunk, Winnie.”
Saavik staggered to her feet and got right in Winston’s face. “’m not ‘toxicated. You’re not answering your communicators.”
“Oh geez,” exclaimed the others as they realized what Saavik was saying. Winston ran to her communicator and flipped it open as the others gathered around.
“Landing Party Two to Aerfen.” Nothing.
“Lieutenant, I swear I never heard this thing chime. If we can’t reach the Aerfen, maybe they can’t reach us either. They must think we’re missing!”
“We’re on the rocks,” said Saavik.
“Someone is,” said Winston.
“Shut it, Winnie! She must mean that the rocks are causing interference. Alright, get dressed, we’ve got to high tail it back to the beam down point,” commanded Warfield.
Saavik spun on her. “No! I’m in scharge.”
“Lieutenant, with all respect, I think you’re intoxicated.”
Saavik turned to face the others. “’m not! Get on yer uniforms. We’re going back to the beamdown point.”
The others began to snicker, but Warfield motioned behind Saavik’s back to go along with her. When the others nodded, Saavik was pleased that they were now doing things her way.
Complacently, they followed her weaving course back over the sand and rocks, to the grassy field, where Saavik announced her intention to be sick. Heads turned away as she made good on those intentions.
“It’s amazing,” said Winston, “that Vulcan blood is green, but that should look so much like…”
“Shut up!” ordered Warfield. “Saavik,” she said kneeling down next to her. “It’s just a little further, come on.”
Saavik heard Winston try her communicator again in vain, when a thought struck her fuzzed mind.
“This field makes me ill,” she stated, as she again demonstrated its effects.
Warfield tried to slip the tricorder from Saavik’s shoulder, but Saavik reacted quickly, jerking it back.
“Mine!” she yelled.
Warfield put her hands out in front of her and gestured reassuringly. “Okay, okay, Saavik, it’s yours. Could you scan this field please?”
Saavik nodded jerkily, and scanned the tall green grass.
“Sheshkipertene,” she said conclusively. Everyone stared blankly so Saavik tried again, “Sisterpitene.”
“Okay, Saavik, will you please let me see?” asked Warfield.
“Schure!” answered Saavik as she slipped the tricorder off and handed it to Warfield.
“Sesquiterpene constituents,” read Warfield. “How do these affect Vulcans, Saavik?”
“Makes us drunk off our butts.” The words slipped out before she even thought them, and she stunned Winston into utter shock by smiling at her. “Guess I lied.” Laughing, and at the same time aware that she had never done such a thing, she slipped to the ground. Warfield silently dared the others to join in.
Gently, they helped Saavik up, supporting and half carrying her through the field to the beamdown point.
Setting Saavik down, Winston reached for her communicator. “Belay that!” ordered Warfield.
Saavik could see Warfield in her face again.
“This is the way it works, Lieutenant. You saved our butts coming to find us. You were right; we never should have been without our communicators. Not even on R&R. I’m sorry.”
Saavik slowly digested Warfield’s words, and rose, straightening her uniform as if she were on the bridge. Even with her mind as affected as it was, she understood what the other gave her. With a forced effort at her usual solemnity, she nodded, and then drew her communicator with thick feeling fingers.
“Aefram, this is Savage, five to beam up!”