Star Trek #21: Uhura's Song

Star Trek #21: Uhura's Song

by Janet Kagan

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780743419727
Publisher: Pocket Books/Star Trek
Publication date: 09/22/2000
Series: Star Trek: The Original Series , #21
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 425,189
File size: 424 KB

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Chapter One Captain's Log, Stardate 2950.3:

The Enterprise continues in orbit around Eeiauo, on the outermost fringe of Federation space. At McCoy's recommendation, Starfleet has placed the world under quarantine. The Enterprise will remain here to enforce that quarantine until the arrival of a Federation task force, specialists in epidemiology and in enforcement.

Dr. McCoy and Nurse Chapel have elected to beam down with the medical team we transported to aid the Eeiauoans in their desperate fight against the plague that is devastating their world -- a plague they call "The Long Death."

Personal Log, James T. Kirk, Stardate 2950.3:

Bones, at least, has something useful to do. Ile rest of us can only sit and listen, as more and more Eeiauoans are struck down. Over a quarter of the population now has ADF syndrome. If only the Eeiauoans had asked for help sooner!

I told Bones of our frustration. His response was predictable...

"You're frustrated! By God, Jim!" McCoy let his exasperated words hang for a moment, then he stepped slightly to one side.

"Bozhe moi," breathed Pavel Chekov as he watched the viewscreen; it was nothing less than a prayer. To Kirk's right, Lieutenant Uhura gave a small wordless gasp.

Even a clinical knowledge of ADF syndrome left Jim Kirk unprepared for the view behind McCoy. Consciously, he knew the miles that separated him from the scene, but he was still hard put not to take an involuntary step backward.

He saw row after row after row of the circular Eeiauoan hospital beds, each one occupied. Thevictims of ADF were no longer recognizably Eeiauoan: they lay as if dead, their furless bodies covered with raw, oozing lesions. From Bones's briefing, Jim Kirk knew that, given adequate intravenous feeding and similar maintenance, they could survive in this state for years. If you call this survival, he thought. Seeing them, he didn't.

Those in the early, ambulatory stage of the disease hunched in their pain, brushed away their loosening fur and carried on the work of maintaining the others.

The Eeiauoans had not asked the Federation for assistance until they no longer had the power to help themselves.

McCoy blocked the view again.

"Sorry, Bones," Kirk said, when he found his voice. "That was a stupid thing for me to say."

McCoy shook his head. "The Eeiauoan doctors have dealt with two previous outbreaks of ADF syndrome and never bothered to call in Federation help before. It wasn't bad enough, they tell me. Wasn't bad enough! Jim, they lost twenty thousand people in the last one!" He himself looked on the verge of collapse, but Kirk was relieved to see that he still had the energy for righteous indignation.

"Are you making any progress, Bones?"

McCoy snorted. "'Progress.' If that's a polite way of askin' have we found a cure yet, the answer is no. Nor have we cobbled together a vaccine in our copious spare time. Give me all the time in the world and the greatest scientists and doctors in history and even then I couldn't promise you results, dammit. I can't command a scientific breakthrough."

He drew a long breath, his shoulders slumped. "I wish to hell I could. They're good people." With a flash of his old humor, he added, " -- for overgrown house cats."

"Is there anything we can do, anything at all?"

"You're supposed to be enforcin' the quarantine, not breakin' it. No, I don't want anyone else down here. The best you could do is carry bedpans, and robots do that well enough. And they, at least, are immune to ADF syndrome."

"Bones, when was the last time you heard of a disease that affects two species as different as humans and Eeiauoans?"

"Rabies," said McCoy curtly. At Kirk's questioning look, he added, by way of explanation, "An ancient Earth disease -- it did indeed affect two species as different as..." He waved his hand. "The planet's under quarantine, Jim, and I don't want to hear any more about it."

A tall Eeiauoan tapped McCoy lightly on the shoulder with a claw tip. He turned. "Yes, Quickfoot?"

Quickfoot of Srallansre, the Eeiauoan doctor McCoy had been working with since their arrival, was obviously in the first stage of ADF syndrome. Each movement she made was stiff with pain. Her gray-striped fur was already thinning and dingy. Her nictitating membranes, discolored and swollen, partially obstructed her vision. Although she did not yet have the characteristic pained hunched posture, Kirk suspected it was from force of will only.

McCoy accepted a sheaf of papers from her. "Get some rest, dammit, Quickfoot," he said irritably. "Finish that later."

Quickfoot shook her head stiffly. "Too ssoon, too much resst, McCCoy. Work now. There is no later." She limped away.

McCoy wiped his face and eyes. "Damn cat hair," he muttered, "gets in everything." Kirk nodded, accepting the fiction. After a pause, McCoy straightened and said, "I have some more information for Mr. Spock."

Casting a quick, puzzled glance at his chief science officer, Kirk said, "I thought we transhipped a hold fun of medical computers?"

McCoy muttered a response.

"How's that, Bones?" Jim Kirk was quite sure he had heard McCoy correctly -- but baiting McCoy was a habit of long standing and seemed to restore a measure of normality even in such grotesque circumstances as these.

McCoy scowled. "I said," and this time he enunciated each word clearly, "I'd rather trust Spock."

At Spock's raised eyebrow, McCoy scowled again. Then, very rapidly, to change the subject, he said, "How's Sulu?"

The forced inaction these past few weeks had given everyone time to return to hobbies or create new ones from sheer desperation. Sulu had found McCoy's substitute, Dr. Evan Wilson, a fencing partner his equal -- or better. Hard-pressed during a recent match with her, he had tripped and, against all odds, broken his ankle.

The thought of Wilson touched a nerve. Privately, Jim Kirk resented her presence on behalf of the Enterprise's own medical staff. It was not the first time Starfleet Command had shown such a lack of judgment however, and he was not about to mention his feelings in public. Morale was low enough already; it would not do to have his crew questioning their acting chief medical officer. He said, "Sulu's fine. Dr. Wilson says he'll be up and around in no time."

"'Up and around'? How did she get him to stay down?"

Until Bones's question, it hadn't occurred to him to wonder. Jim Kirk spread his hands and glanced at his chief science officer inquiringly.

Spock said, "I believe she learned her bedside manner from you, Doctor."

"What d'you mean by that, Spock?"

"I mean, Dr. McCoy, that she used a purely emotional approach." Spock's features were innocent of expression.

Now openly suspicious, McCoy growled, "I'm waiting, Mr. Spock."

Spock raised an eyebrow, presumably at McCoy's display of impatience, then said, "Dr. Wilson was heard to tell Mr. Sulu that if he did not stay off his injured leg, she would -- I quote -- break the other one for him."

Jim Kirk gave an inward cheer. He could not have delivered the tale half so well himself, and for the life of him, he couldn't tell if Spock had done it intentionally.

Intentional or not, the story, or Spock's delivery, actually brought a surprised chuckle from McCoy. He gave Spock a wary look, then turned back to Kirk, and said, "Feisty little thing, isn't she? Keep your eye on her, Jim. What she lacks in height, she makes up in brass. Get her to tell you how Scotty and I met her. Might give you a laugh and, God knows, we could all use a few."

Then his brief smile faded and there was a long moment's silence. Kirk could see McCoy's mind turning back to the desperateness of the problem he faced. McCoy, silent, told him more than any of McCoy's outbursts would have.

"I'll turn you over to Spock, Bones, and let you get on with it."

"No, Jim. I have to speak to Uhura first."

Kirk glanced at his communications officer. "Lieutenant?"

"I'm here, Dr. McCoy." Lieutenant Uhura stiffened, as if bracing herself for a blow. "Were you able to reach Sunfall of Ennien?"

McCoy said, "Quickfoot located her. She's alive, Uhura, but -- I'm sorry -- she has it."

Uhura nodded. She must have spent a long time preparing herself to bear that, Kirk thought, or she's in shock.

Finally, Uhura said, her usually gentle voice roughened by emotion, "How -- far along -- "

"She's in a first-stage coma, Uhura. I'm sorry," McCoy repeated, "We'll do everything we can."

Uhura nodded again. "I know you will, Dr. McCoy. Thank you." She turned quickly to face her communications panel, but her back spoke eloquently of her distress.

Spock turned to his computers. "Ready to receive your information, Dr. McCoy."

McCoy gave a meaningful nod at Uhura's back. "Yes," Kirk said, in answer to the screen, "we'll speak later, Bones." He stepped to Uhura's side and spoke softly to her. "Lieutenant Uhura, I'd like a word with you."

Uhura turned, her face expressionless. "Captain?"

"In private," he added. He motioned a nearby ensign to take her pIace and said, "Mr. Spock, you have command." Spock nodded without taking his eyes from his screens, and Kirk gestured Uhura to the lift.

As the doors hissed closed, Uhura squared her shoulders. Oddly, the action seemed to make her more vulnerable. "Yes, Captain. What did you want to see me about?"

"Do you want to talk, Uhura?" he asked, gently. "That's a question, not an order."

"Thank you, Captain. Yes, I g -- guess I would." But she was silent as he escorted her to her cabin.

She offered him a chair, and he sat. She poured herself a glass of water and offered him something stronger, which he declined. He decided it was best to wait for her to speak.

At last, she went to the wall and took down a small picture in a gilt frame. For a long moment, she stood looking at it, then she handed it to him. She sat down. "That's Sunfall," she said.

It was an old-fashioned two-dimensional photograph -- but there was nothing static about Sunfall of Ennien. Jim Kirk saw an Eeiauoan dancer, as black as velvet, poised in mid-leap. Her long supple body and tail curved ecstatically, her great pointed ears swept up to catch some music he could almost hear by looking at her...He realized he was holding his breath and let it out. "Beautiful," he said.

"Yes." There were tears trembling on Uhura's lashes now. "And that was what she was like inside, too. All that beauty and energy -- Captain, I can't bear the thought of her -- of her -- "

"The doctors are doing everything they can." He knew it was no consolation. The Eeiauoan hospital and its horrors flashed back into his mind, and he thought of Sunfall in the same state. He thrust the thought from him. If he could feel that way just seeing the photo, what must Uhura be feeling?

Uhura picked up her Charellian joyeuse, the delicate little stringed instrument she had just recently learned to play, and cradled it, as if to draw comfort from the prospect of music. "Dr. McCoy is a good man, Captain," she said. "I know he's doing everything he can, and more. I just don't know if it'll be enough."

There was nothing to say, no comfort he could give. Kirk looked again at the picture. "How did you meet?" he asked, at last.

Uhura wiped her eyes. "A long time ago. It was my first post, Two Dawns. Sunfall was a junior diplomat with the Eeiauoan mission."

"A diplomat?" he said in astonishment. "Not a dancer?"

She almost smiled at that. "A dancer, a singer and a diplomat," she said. "Sunfall of Ennien was all of that. She thought all diplomats should be. She said -- she said it would g -- give them more flexibility."

"It would," Kirk said, knowingly. He thought of the number of pompous diplomats he'd dealt with and the interminable diplomatic occasions he'd been forced to sit through. What he wouldn't have given for the presence of Sunfall of Ennien!

Uhura went on, "She and I traded songs. In the two years we spent together I think we went through every song we ever knew. She even taught me some of the old ballads of Eeiau."

"Have I heard any?" Uhura often sang for her entertainment and the crew's; Kirk tried to recall anything he could identify as Eeiauoan.

"'The Ballad of CloudShape to-Ennien'?" she suggested.

The title jogged his memory. When he smiled at the thought, Uhura smiled wanly back and said, "Yes, I see you remember it."

"The con artist," he said, "the Eeiauoan version of Harry Mudd!" A thought struck him. "Why 'to-Ennien'?" he asked. "All the names I've heard are 'of' something or other."

"I can't answer that, Captain. The Eeiauoans have a hundred or more songs about CloudShape -- and some of them call her 'to-Ennien' and some call her 'of Ennien.' That was one of the few I could translate properly. Most of them, and not just the CloudShape songs, deal with such a different culture that they make no sense to a human unless she knows an Eeiauoan. I sometimes sing the others in Eeiauoan because the tunes are so lovely." She hummed a snatch of song and Kirk nodded; he'd heard that one, too, and she didn't exaggerate its beauty.

"Do you speak it? Eeiauoan, I mean?"

"I learned it from Sunfall and kept it up so I could talk to her the next time we met..." She spread her hands in dismay. "We did speak now and again, and I was so happy when we were ordered to Eeiauo. I wish -- I wish -- "

"So do I. "

"Captain, couldn't there be just one exception to the quarantine? I'd -- like to be there with her."

Her expression was so hopeful Kirk hated to deny her that consolation -- but orders were orders, and it would do her no good to see Sunfall as she must be now. He shook his head. "If there were something I could do," he said.

"I know. If there were something any of us could do..." Her voice trailed off. She wiped her eyes again. "I should return to the bridge."

"Ensign Azuela can handle that for now," Kirk said.

"Thank you, Captain. I guess I would like some time to be alone."

Kirk took that as a dismissal. He clasped her hand in wordless sympathy and left. Behind him, he heard the first glasslike sounds of the joyeuse, and then the words of an alien song, that might have been Eeiauoan, that might have been a plea to the gods for the life of Sunfall of Ennien.

The door hissed closed. Adding his own silent plea to hers, Kirk returned to the bridge.

Copyright © 1985 by Paramount Pictures.

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Star Trek #21 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 28 reviews.
Zathras86 on LibraryThing 8 months ago
This ranks among my top five Star Trek books. Kagan gives us a mix of drama, cultural food-for-thought, and quite a few laugh-out-loud moments. Her writing wears a little thin at points, especially when she tries too hard to emphasize the pathos of a given situation, but since it's otherwise very good and the plot is excellent I'm inclined to cut her a little slack.The story captures everything I love about TOS - the idealist belief that human beings can be learn to be open-minded, to rejoice in differences, to work together patiently despite those differences in order to solve their problems. Sure, it's occasionally a little cheesy, but in a good way.It's really fun to explore the idea of a first contact in such great detail. The Sivaoans are a very well-developed race; Kagan put quite a bit of thought into creating their world and their culture, and it paid off.I disagree with some other reviewers about the supposed "Mary Sue" - that's an easy dismissal of a character who was actually quite interesting, important to the storyline, and just plain fun to read about. While she's clearly the kind of larger-than-life character that you secretly wish you could be, you could say that about almost any TOS character as well, and she isn't over-the-top in the absurd way that the term usually indicates. While she was definitely a main character in the story, I didn't judge it to be at the expense of the other characters.In short, a very fun romp with an interesting new alien culture, with a few moments that will make you think.
MerryMary on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Love this one! Uhura finds the home planet of a plague-ridden felinoid species on the strength of a song. The away team then must prove themselves to the inhabitants before they can discover the cure to the plague. Uhura comes into her own in this novel (always a plus), and the Eaoians are wonderful.
barbgarcia1987 on LibraryThing 8 months ago
This is one of my favorite Star Trek books. I have read it and re-read it so many times my copy is getting a bit dog eared. A while back I read a short article on Janet Kagan. In it, if I am remembering correctly, she said that she had every intention of writing a sequel to this story, but that Paramount would not let her because it would not allow major characters to appear in more than one book if they were not from the series. I wish she had been allowed to continue Tail-Kinker's story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Had fun reading it. Thought the storyline was wonderful.But you could have gotten a second book out of it(story) . I would have given you a 5th star for that.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this book. Sentient cats and music, a pandemic of galactic proportions!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Bought it in paperback many years ago, and have re-read it so many times my copy is worn. Since I have a love for cats and Star Trek and Uhura, this book appeals to me on many levels. I was glad to see this old favorite join the audio book world. (This site would not let me choose a pen name from my IPhone, but I'm JelenaF.)
kwetzsteon More than 1 year ago
So glad to find this on nook. This is one of my favorite classic ST stories. Alot of character development of Uhura and some laugh out loud moments too (for the true trekkie).
Buzzy73 More than 1 year ago
Have you ever read a book where you could "see" what the author was typing? This is one of those books! She is so descriptive in her writing that you get lost in your own imagination. This is a very good read! If you're a Cekov, Uhura and Sulu book fan (like the books Death Count and Ice Trap), then you will like this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am halfway through. The beginning was REALLY great but it got more boring as the story progressed. The descriptions of the alien society and the discussions are so drawn out! I know I shouldn't be dissing it; it is a great story. I love the intrractions between the characters especially Chekov. However it probably could have been told in 100 less pages.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
FreedomCat1 More than 1 year ago
Uhura's Song, for us Classic Trekkies, is a wonderful story about Lieutenant Uhura's communication abilities and Mr. Spock's problem-solving working in unison. We see Kirk's easy frustration, Chekov's penchant for getting sick, and the Enterprise crew saving the day (as always). And Dr. McCoy? Of course he gets the last word in!! If you like cats, this is the book for you; the Eeiuoans, a cat-like alien race, will make you appreciate your cat's subtle movements and imagine the Eeiuoans' grace even more. A must-read for cat-lovers and Trekkies everywhere!
Shannon Dugas More than 1 year ago
This is,and has been, one of my favorite books for years. Due to the setting I think even those who are not Star Trek fans will be able to greatly enjoy this book.
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TEST NOOKUSER More than 1 year ago
It really doesnt get much better than this if you are a Star Trek fan. Old friends, a new world and a Rogue or two. These are folks you would wish were real and could get to know personally!
Tracy Creek More than 1 year ago
Like another reviewer, i read it more than 20 years ago and still go back to it. beautiful, unique, and much appreciated! downloading to my nook for idle moments.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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PG_Watson More than 1 year ago
I first read this book as a young teen who just wanted to check out a star trek novel after kinda liking the show. I am now middle aged and still read the book a couple times a year. I even wrote my English lit paper on characters on it in college. The author really does take you to as whole new world in her book. The characters are so "alive" its like watching a movie as much as reading a book. Highly recommend for any epic or scifi lover who likes the one liners, Star Trek fan or not.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Midnight_Researcher More than 1 year ago
A deadly plague has struck the Federation Planet Eeiauo. The information needed to cure the plague may lie on the planet Sivao, the origin of the Eeiauoan race. But the Sivaoans are so ashamed that they exiled the Eeiauoans over 3000 years ago that they will barely discuss the race with each other, let alone with the crew of the Enterprise, who have arrived in an attempt to fine the cure for the plague. This book is escapism at its best. Janet Kagan takes the reader along with Kirk, Spock, Uhura, Chekov and acting chief medical officer, Dr. Evan Wilson as they visit Sivao. Kagan's physical descriptions of the Sivaoans, the nomadic feline species that inhabits the planet gives the reader a vivid mental picture of each character, as well as his or her culture and the world on which the character's inhabit. Kagan also fleshes out two relative minor characters from the television series: Lt. Nyota Uhura and Ensign Pavel Chekov. Uhura is shown as using her musical ability and natural compassion to help with first contact with the Sivaoans. Chekov is shown to be a man of many talents, several of them learned in an anthropology class in Volgograd, where the teacher set the students to go hands on with skills of the past because "if we had to do it, we would learn that primitive does not mean stupid." The scenes between Scotty and the Sivaoan bard Rushlight-to-Vensre show Scotty at his fun-loving and adventurous Scottish best. Dr. Evan Wilson is the wild card in the story. As her character develops, the reader will learn more than a little about human (and Vulcan) nature and respect for others. Kagan's Law of First Contact --You will surprise you more than they will-- could easily apply today as we go into the world. The law, and the book, show the delight and surprises in store in new situations with new people. Two thumbs up, and a tail twist for pure delight.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I ordered this book on the rep of the author rather than a love for all things Star Trek. Since my experience of Star Trek was based only on the series (original, not reruns) I anticipated a shallow story with an heroic ending. I was very pleasantly surprised by the full, well rounded characters. The author's imagination and eye for detail made for an interesting story albeit with the usual satisfying Trek ending. A very enjoyable read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Opened it and from the start it had a quick pace. Looking to buy new papper back old one pages are falling out of. Read it when I am down and when I am happy. Reading it lets one escape and enjoy a story of star trek adventure.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Honestly the best Star Trek novel I have ever read. The original crew were completely in-character, and Evan Wilson, Sunfall, Quickfoot, and the Eeiauoans were all very believable.