When Srank finally beamed back up to the ship, he found Henry in the sickbay with Trapper John and Hot Lips.
"Captain, I must surrender myself to you for immediate arrest," he announced as he entered the room.
"Srank," Henry began. "Commander," Hot Lips started. Trapper John was, of course, smiling - happy to finally be rid of him, Srank supposed.
"I have, as Dr. Houlihan and Mr. McIntyre have undoubtedly reported, killed Lieutenant Commander Pierce," Srank continued, despite the attempted interruptions - trying to get it over with, as the humans say. "I offer no excuses and wish to be turned over to the proper authorities."
"Well, I wouldn't want to step on Henry's prerogatives," came a smug voice from behind Srank, "but isn't arresting people a job for the security chief?"
Srank turned as if bitten. "Pierce!" He grabbed Hawkeye's shoulders and spun him around at arm's length to look at him. "Hawkeye!" He drank in the sight of the man he thought he'd killed. Hawkeye was grinning back at him, almost laughing.
Srank let go of Hawkeye's shoulders and straightened up as he wrestled for control of his features. "Lieutenant Commander Pierce," he said stiffly. "I am at something of a loss of an explanation ..."
"Blame this quack," grinned Trapper John, pointing a thumb at Hot Lips. "All we took her along for was to acclimate us to the Vulcan climate, and what does she do?"
"That 'tri-ox compound' was a neural paralyzer," Hawkeye said. "Simulated death only, satisfaction guaranteed or your money back."
"It was an honest mistake," Hot Lips said defensively. "I was feeling the effects of the Vulcan air too."
"Yeah, yeah," said Trapper John, "what about the girl, Srank?"
"Ah yes, the girl," said Srank, still shaken enough to speak colloquially. "When I believed I had killed Mr. Pierce, I found that the fever had entirely dissipated and I had no interest left in her." Hot Lips brightened considerably at that.
"Signal from Starfleet Command, Captain sir." Radar entered and handed a datapad to Henry. "Our request for diversion to Vulcan is approved and we're to proceed to Altair at our convenience."
"What?" Henry looked the datapad over. "They'd turned me down. Now it's like it never happened."
"I, uh, called home." The points of Radar's ears flushed a half-Vulcan green.
"Low friends in high places," Hawkeye said.
After a moment's lapse in conversation Srank noticed that everyone was grinning at him again. "Captain," he said self-consciously, "if you have no questions I will return to my duties."
"Just a minute, Srank," Henry said. "You can't tell us that when you saw Pierce was alive you weren't on the verge of an emotional display that would have brought the house down."
"Merely," said Srank, "my understandable relief that the fleet had not been deprived of the services of a fine officer."
This statement generated expressions ranging from skepticism to outright amusement.
"Perfectly logical," he insisted.
"Oh, yes, perfectly." Hot Lips spoke just a little too quickly.
"Like an equation," Trapper John laughed.
"Which one?" Radar asked him ingenuously.
"I should have really died," said Hawkeye. "You'd have put me up for promotion."
"Uh huh." Henry regarded Srank for another moment. As he turned to lead his bridge staff back to their posts, he snorted, "Logical, my Aunt Fanny."
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