In the 1980s, I wrote three Star Trek novels that were then published by a small publisher called Ruff & Ready Press. For two of the three, I created several original Vulcan characters as crewmen of the starship Enterprise. My premise was that the entire former science department of the ship had been killed off in a tragic accident, and that Starfleet wisely decided to replace it with the best scientists in the Federation: Vulcans. I went on to write numerous stories using my invented characters.

Here then, is one of those stories.



In a peculiar mixture of fascination and dread, McCoy badgered Kirk into telling him what Vulcan Roulette was. Reluctantly, Kirk revealed that it was similar to Russian Roulette, but that the Vulcans took turns assuming the tal-shaya position on the victim – which happened to be Kirk – each imparting a minute amount of pressure and then releasing, until one of them actually completed the execution; and that Spock had been the one to do so.

Kirk summarized, “It was, of course, only an hallucination induced by the Romulans as a brainwashing technique, and Spock was later able to help me to recover from its effects through a mind meld, but I still shudder a bit to think of it. And during the meld, I could sense that Spock, too, found it…distasteful.”

McCoy made a face. “Distasteful is hardly the word that I would have chosen. Diabolical is more like it.” The doctor wasn’t sure whether he was glad or sorry that he’d gotten Kirk to tell him.

Meanwhile, Spencek, Spornak, and Spivak had prevailed upon Spock to tell them the nature of the Romulan-invented Vulcan Roulette as well, and they, too, had found the concept disquieting.

“On the other hand,” Spivak speculated, “a variation of it might be the ideal punishment for all of the practical jokes that the humans have played lately at our expense.”

“Variation?” Spock queried doubtfully.

Spivak explained, “The nerve-pinch position, instead of that of tal-shaya.”

“Oh, indeed.” Spock appeared interested. “That, of course would be harmless enough. However, we will be sure not to play such a ‘joke’ on Kirk; he has been through quite enough, with the far more sinister Romulan version.”

Spornak nodded. “I would recommend that McCoy would be the appropriate victim, since he was the prime offender of the escapades against us.”

Spencek suggested, “Perhaps we should try to find him.”

Just then, a distracted McCoy, brooding over the horror of Vulcan Roulette, wandered aimlessly into the rec-room, not realizing that that was where the Vulcans were, thus saving them the trouble of seeking out their favorite subject. Startled at their presence, and then instantly uncomfortable at the sight of them with its inevitable reminder of his uncomfortable topic of thought, he backed toward the door through which he’d only just entered. “Oh! Forgive me; I didn’t mean to intrude.”

Spock hastened forward. “Not at all. One moment, Doctor, if you please.”

“Yes?” McCoy was self-conscious.

“Do you recall the numerous practical jokes that you’ve played on us of late?” Spock smoothly blocked McCoy’s escape route.

“What about ‘em?” McCoy glanced nervously at the door that he could no longer access.

“We have devised your punishment,” Spornak said from behind him.

McCoy looked apprehensively from one Vulcan to another. “What?”

Not realizing that Kirk had told the doctor anything about the original version, Spock stated, supposedly enigmatically, “It is called Vulcan Roulette.”

The human’s scream nearly damaged sensitive Vulcan eardrums, and McCoy was unconscious on the floor in a dead-faint.

The Vulcans regarded each other, nonplussed.

Spencek observed unnecessarily, “He proceeded immediately to unconsciousness, and did not wait for the game.”


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