For possibly the first time in fifty years, for some reason, I thought of Lieutenant Fleury. The Engineer and I have been binge watching the later Star Trek series — which I never saw at all, at all, so no spoilers please — and I suppose that revived my memory of the Lieutenant, who was a character in fan fiction written long before anyone had ever used the term “fan fiction.” My onetime best friend and I used to work on these pieces during twelve-year-old sleepovers, mine tending towards the mysterious mythical aliens that Roddenberry peppered all over the Galaxy, hers running to time paradoxes. Lieutenant Fleury was a member of the bridge crew, a spirited French woman about five feet tall with a tendency to merry outbursts of battle-joy (the kinds of hits to the shields that tossed the crew around, she found exhilarating) and a flummoxing, flirtatious attitude when she was not spelling Mister Sulu at the helm. It had not escaped me that the only woman on the canonical bridge was Uhura and despite the huge departure that we now realize that was — in Whoopi Goldberg’s words, “Mommy, there’s a black lady on TV and she’s not a maid!” — it chapped my butt that she was still, basically, a glorified secretary (“Ms. Uhura, open a comm channel”). Something had to be done. Well, I have lost all those old things and the literary style would probably mortify me anyway.
She may have come back to me, now when we have already gotten through the whole Patrick Stewart series and embarked on the two following, because of an episode involving the use of the equally-almost-forgotten Vulcan nerve pinch.
“Isn’t it curious,” I said over late-evening brandies, “that the nerve pinch seems to work on every humanoid species in the Galaxy, but only Vulcans are able to perform it? Maybe it’s supposed to be some combination of the physical contact and Vulcan mind control. Like you have to be touching for the mind meld. The only thing that’s there anyway is the median nerve, right where it runs through the muscle belly of the upper trapezius. It hurts like hell to pinch it when the muscle’s tight, with the nerve right underneath, maybe that’s why they picked that spot, but I’ve never had a client pass out on the table.”
The Engineer mulled that over, and we kicked around the idea that somehow some telepathic mojo was supposed to travel back up the major nerve trunk to the spinal cord or medulla and drop the victim in his tracks. There could, just possibly, be a way of affecting the vertebral basilar artery, which conducts enough blood to the brain that occluding it can knock someone out, but it’s truly on the back of the neck. I pumped for the nerve.
“It’s probably the optimum place to contact a multiplex spinal nerve root, at least in a hurry,” I said. “I mean the sciatic also originates from four separate vertebral junctions, if you really want the biggest nerve in the body, and you can definitely make someone yell with it, but it’s deep to the middle of the butt cheek. Broadcast Standards in the 60s wouldn’t have let them go there anyway.”
“The Vulcan Ass Pinch!” cried the Engineer, and took a swallow of brandy.
Lieutenant Fleury would probably have gone for it. If Vulcans share knowledge of such things.