Disclaimer: ParaBorg owns 'em. I own this creative content of this story. Neener, neener
Summary: From "The Corbomite Maneuver," the stand-off scene on the bridge, with four minutes and counting. Told from Spock's POV
Intermission 4: No Logical Alternative
"Four minutes," the alien voice drones. Four minutes until we die, or so Balok has promised.
The human emotions around me are so strong I can sense them through my shielding, smell the sharp tang of emotions which are utterly foreign to me. Fear, despair, and anger crash over me, but the hot bright flash of anger dominates above all else.
Unusual, these humans. A Vulcan would simply accept what is. When all other logical alternatives are played out, there is no other alternative but to accept. Kaiidth, we say. What is, is.
Anger serves no useful purpose; it is illogical to deny what must be.
The source of the anger comes toward me where I am gazing at the viewscreen, at the ship which means our doom. The captain, who told me after Gary Mitchell's death to call him Jim. It is a liberty none of my previous commanders granted, and I still wonder that he did so. The air pushes out in front of him as he paces.
He is furious with Balok; it takes no special telepathy on my part to read this. Furious that Balok would deny a crew of 432 their right to existence, furious that Balok misread the intentions of a peaceful ship, and furious that he cannot think of away to remove us from this situation.
Even now, I do not know what makes me say it. Would my mother understand? Perhaps. "Jim," I say.
The captain comes toward me again in his pacing. "What's the matter out there? Surely they know we mean them no harm."
I raise an eyebrow. What we meant is almost certainly irrelevant, at least to Balok. "They must certainly know by now that we are incapable of it."
"There must be something to do, something I've overlooked." His frustration is almost palpable, and I want only to tell him that he has done the logical thing, tried every logical alternative. If we die now, it is through no fault of his. "In chess when one is outmatched, the game is over. Checkmate."
The hot flash of fury is not directed solely at Balok, not anymore. Hazel eyes darken in anger. "Is that your best recommendation?"
Strangely, I cannot meet his eyes. The words that almost come out of my mouth are the first words my human mother taught me to say, when offense is given. I look him in the eyes, willing him to understand. "I'm sor--I regret that I can offer no logical alternative."
He stalks away from me then, and I know that my words have not persuaded him that acceptance of the situation is logical. I have failed; I have not given him the answers he sought. I am unaccountably chilled, for reasons I do not understand. The ship is certainly no colder than usual.
The doctor comes onto the bridge. He converses with the captain in a low voice, one which I cannot help but overhear, but it is a conversation I ignore. The captain's response, however, I cannot ignore. "Any time you can bluff me, Doctor!!" Everyone turns to look at him. It is not like the captain to express his anger so loudly or so openly. But the conversation has, apparently, sparked something else in his mind.
"Three minutes," Balok drones. Almost no time for alternatives now.
Jim looks over at me, and the spark in his eyes is back in his eyes, the spark of a human about to make an intuitive leap. "Not chess, Mr Spock. Poker."
'Corbomite,' he called it. In any language, it is still a bluff, a bluff which saved our lives.
We have left the Fesarius, with its odd child-captain and Bailey aboard. I am in my cabin, and though I try to sleep, I cannot. I know that I failed my captain on the bridge, but it is the fact that I failed him by being logical that disturbs me. I am a Vulcan. I acted as I should, but I also should have had some answer other than the one I gave him.
The door buzzer bleeps. "Come," I say.
Jim comes in. "Am I bothering you?" he asks.
The thought crosses my mind that I was the one who bothered him earlier. "No, you are not."
Jim sits in the chair by the desk. "I came to apologize.".
I was prepared for any other response, but not this one. "I do not understand."
"I demanded something from you that you didn't know how to give. You gave me the best advice you could, and I was angry with you for not pulling a rabbit out of your hat."
"A rabbit? Out of my hat?" I ask. Now I am confused. I have seen a rabbit. I have seen a hat, although I do not own one. But why one should be pulled out of the other, I do not understand.
Jim laughs then. "It's just a figure of speech, Spock. What I meant was, I expected you to come up with a miracle."
I should be reassured by this explanation, but I am not. My reasons for accepting Balok's decree were logical, but it was his illogical bluff which saved us. How can I argue with logic like his? He continues, "Look, we're probably going to have this discussion again. So let me just say this: I know what you said was logical, but I don't want you to give up like that."
Only then do I see, really see, what my logical acceptance of the situation had looked like to the captain. "I see," I say, and it is the truth. "I was not giving up, but I could see no logical alternative."
Jim nods. He holds up a small paper box; I recognize it immediately as a deck of cards. "Well, I'll try to help you learn to think of illogical alternatives." Mischief is clear in the hazel eyes. "Care for a game of poker?"