Doctor Leonard McCoy walked into a science laboratory where he noticed Spock bent over a computer work station, analyzing data with a pensive expression on his face. "Mister Spock, every time Ive seen you since we left the Doradus system, youve been working, either down here or on the bridge. Ive heard reports from crew members on other shifts about how youve hardly taken any breaks, even for sleep."
"I am analyzing the spectral readings emanating from Zeta Doradus. There has been a four point five percent rise in its surface temperature over the last two standard years. This has resulted in more heat entering the atmospheres of the worlds orbiting that star, causing a rise in their temperatures. Over a longer term, this will have grave implications for the ecosystems of those worlds and their inhabitants. The fourth and fifth planets in this system total nearly two point six billion inhabitants between them."
"Even so, Spock, you need to take a break occasionally. No matter how important the task is, you still need to get a good nights sleep."
The science officer raised an eyebrow. "Doctor, I must point out that Vulcans do not require as much sleep as Humans."
His voice growing progressively louder, McCoy objected, "While Vulcans are stronger than Humans and require less sleep, even Vulcans require some sleep. Youre not a machine."
"There have been times you have accused me of being one," the Vulcan pointed out before turning his attention back to his work station.
McCoy started walking towards the exit. Before leaving the laboratory, he called out to Spock, "Couldnt you at least get someone to help you out with your research?"
"I shall enlist Mister Chekov." Spock looked up briefly before returning to his task, pointedly ignoring the doctor who eventually took the hint and left.
During the next two days, Ensign Chekov was working closely with Spock in researching the temperature trends in the Zeta Doradus system. When he was not on duty at the bridges navigation station, he was in the science lab assisting Spock with the research. He barely had time to socialize with any of his friends.
Uhura and Sulu stopped in the lab as they were getting off shift. Uhura put an hand on his shoulder. "Pavel, youre pushing yourself way too hard. You cant compete with a Vulcans stamina."
Sulu stepped closer to the table where Chekov sat. "I agree with Uhura. Youre going to run yourself into the ground. And for what?"
Chekov protested, "Is vwery important project. Itll be a life and death matter for the people who live in this star system."
"But no matter, you still have to take care of yourself," Sulu warned him.
"Or someone else will end up taking care of you," Uhura concluded.
That evening, while trying to work, Spock felt even colder than usual. The ships normal temperature, outside of his quarters, was set to Human specifications, which meant cool by Vulcan standards. He was overcome by the urge to sneeze.
After his sneeze, he got up from his chair and headed for the door of the lab. "Mister Chekov, well need to temporarily interrupt our tasks. I have an urgent need for sleep."
"See you tomorrow, Commander Spock."
The Vulcan science officer returned to his quarters and went to bed. Still feeling cold, he grabbed another blanket and placed it on top of his bed, in addition to the one already on there. Then he tried to sleep.
When Spock woke, he felt terrible. His nose was clogged up, and he had trouble breathing. He kept sneezing and had to blow his nose repeatedly. He finally reported to Sickbay where Doctor McCoy examined him with a medical tricorder. Both Nurse Chapel and Doctor MBenga looked on sympathetically.
The doctor frowned. "Mister Spock! You have a bug Im classifying as Doradan rhinitis. In other words, you have the Doradan equivalent of the common cold. Since youve been burning the candle at both ends working on your latest project, youre extremely run down, and therefore vulnerable to any virus or bacterium that comes along. So here you are, with a cold."
"It is unlikely I have a-a-a" Spock sneezed loudly.
"Will he be all right?" Christine Chapel asked with concern.
MBenga crossed his arms and explained the situation to the nurse. "While its rare for Vulcans to catch a cold, Vulcan colds tend to be rather severe. Since Vulcan is a dry world, the ability to retain fluid became a vital survival trait for its inhabitants. The fluid overload from a cold caused by the release of histamines adversely affects the respiratory and even the circulatory system."
McCoy injected Spock with antihistamines to combat the cold symptoms, along with an antiviral drug. "Spock, see what I told you about working too hard? Youre not a machine, even though sometimes you act like it. Youll need to stay here for about three days on complete bed rest."
"Rest would be most logical," Spock said, his voice horse. "As soon as I finish recuperating, I will resume my spectral analysis of the Doradan system."
And with that, Spock leaned back on the sickbay bed and closed his eyes to the amazement of everyone in the ward, especially Leonard H. McCoy, M.D.
With Spock laid up in Sickbay, Chekov continued the analysis that Spock had begun. He felt he had to work even harder since the Vulcan was not available to help him and since the current trend in the stars temperature pointed to a probable loss of life. Between his normal shift on the bridge and his research, Chekov got even less sleep than normal.
McCoy stopped by the lab to talk to Chekov who was standing next to some viewgraphs. "Son, I know you want to do a good job but youre working yourself way too hard. Youre not a machine."
Chekov began pirouetting around as he retorted, "Im the Russian machine, and the Russian machine never breaks." He ended with a curtsy and a finger on his chin.
The doctor rolled his eyes at the comment, before grousing, "Russian machine indeed. Yeah, right!"
McCoy was still shaking his head when he returned to Sickbay. There, he ran into Captain Kirk who was visiting the ailing Vulcan. Spock had eased himself into a partially seated position to talk to his commanding officer. His nose was green from being constantly blown, and his eyes were bloodshot in the characteristic Vulcan green fashion.
After Kirk left his science officers bedside, he approached Doctor McCoy who looked up from a work station in Sickbay. "I believe Mister Spock is a bad influence on Chekov."
"Bad influence?" Kirk said slowly.
McCoy said emphatically, "Hes been continuing the project Spock started and is hell bent on pushing himself to exhaustion."
"That kind of bad influence. I get the picture." Kirk gave the doctor a knowing smile.
The doctor continued, "Hes even trying to compete with Spock in the stamina department. His latest claim is that hes the Russian machine that never breaks."
"Russian machine that never breaks," Kirk repeated, pausing between each word as he pondered Chekovs latest claim of Russian superiority.
"And he dances badly."
McCoy made one final comment. "Your first officer and your navigator take their cue from their commanding officer in pushing themselves too hard. There are times I feel I have to strap you down in Sickbay when you need medical attention."
Kirk made his way toward the door. "Perhaps youre right, Doctor. Or perhaps you get some sort of perverse pleasure from it."
The doors closed behind the captain before McCoy could sputter out a reply.
The following day, Ensign Chekov was reporting his findings to Captain Kirk, Lieutenant Hadley and Lieutenant Rodriquez in the briefing room. Chekov sat at one end of the table and was pointing to a view screen. "There are several possibilities on vwhy the temperature on Zeta Doradus is rising. It could be the early stages of the star beginning the process of becoming a nova. Or it could be a temporary fluctuation. The age of this star seems to indicate that the probability of nova is relatively remote " He continued to speak a few more minutes when he violently sneezed. "I beg your pardon, sirs, but" He sneezed again.
"Mister Chekov, are you okay?" Kirk asked solicitously.
The navigator shook his head. "Im not sure. I feel like I may be coming down vwith a cold." He sneezed so violently that the papers on the table top rustled.
"Maybe you should get checked out in Sickbay," Kirk suggested. He then turned to Hadley and Rodriquez who were seated together. "Do you think you have enough information from Mister Chekov to continue the research on the Doradan phenomenon?"
Rodriquez spoke for himself and his colleague, as he held out the data chit provided by Chekov, "I think so. If not, it wont be hard to find Mister Spock or Mister Chekov."
"If theres nothing else?"
Chekov sneezed yet again.
As ordered, the navigator reported to Sickbay where he encountered Doctor McCoy standing in the main ward.
"So, what brings you here, Mister Chekov?"
"I think Im coming down vwith a cold. Captain Kirk...suggested I stop in."
McCoy led Chekov to the diagnostic bed where he scanned him with a medical sensor. "Sore throat, runny nose, fever. Mister Chekov, you have Doradan rhinitis. Since your system is not used to handling Doradan rhinoviruses, youre sicker than youd normally be with a Terran cold. Youll probably need to stay here three or four days...more if you dance about my sickbay."
"Im sorry about that, Doctor. I vwas trying to be funny."
"You failed miserably at that." The doctor then ordered a nurse, "MacFarlane, Ill need some antihistamines and an antiviral for Chekov over here." As ordered, Nurse Sharon MacFarlane brought the required materials to the doctor. "So much for the Russian machine, eh?" McCoy winked at MacFarlane.
"I beg your pardon, Doctor?" asked Chekov.
McCoy tried not to chuckle. "Chekov, do you know why the Russian machine broke? As Scotty continually points out, even the best machines need preventive maintenance. Machines that arent taken care of eventually break. Keep that in mind next time, will you, Ensign?"
The titters of laughter could be heard in the background as Chekov sneezed again.
"I vwill, Doctor. I vwill."
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