Werewolves of Vulcan

I saw a werewolf with a lirpa in his hand

Asking for directions from a student group

He was looking for the Vulcan Academy cafeteria

Going to get a big bowl of plomeek soup

Ah-oooh! Werewolves of Vulcan! Ah-oooh!

Ah-oooh! Werewolves of Vulcan! Ah-oooh!

If you hear him howling in Enterprise’s corridors

Better not let him in

Lieutenant Uhura got frightened late last night

Werewolves of Vulcan again

Ah-oooh! Werewolves of Vulcan! Ah-oooh!

Ah-oooh! Werewolves of Vulcan! Ah-oooh!

He’s hairy, he’s tall, and he ran amuck in Gol

Lately he’s been overheard in ShiKahr

Better stay away from him

He’ll rip your shirt off, Jim

I’m told he has a Klingon barber

Ah-oooh! Werewolves of Vulcan! Ah-oooh!

Ah-oooh! Werewolves of Vulcan! Ah-oooh!

Well, I saw McCoy walking with T’Pau

Doing the Werewolves of Vulcan

I saw Dr. McCoy walking with T’Pau

Doing the Werewolves of Vulcan

I saw a werewolf drinking Romulan ale at Starbase 68

His ears were perfectly pointed

Werewolves of Vulcan again

Draw blood.

— Filk of “Werewolves of London” by Warren Zevon


The rocky desert shimmered mercilessly in the late afternoon heat, with occasional plumes of ash and smoke rising from the volcanoes that dotted the uninviting landscape. Vulcan wasn’t much of a tourist spot, Christine Chapel thought, and that was definitely an understatement. No wonder this visitors’ information center was deserted. Still, a shore leave on Vulcan was better than nothing. She turned away from the window and walked back toward Uhura, who was still sitting in front of a computer terminal with a backpack on the floor next to her chair.

“Any luck finding a good place for a hike, Nyota?”

The comm officer frowned slightly in response; it was clear she wasn’t at all thrilled with the choices. “Well, there’s the Obsidian Outlook, which is described as a fascinating view of volcanic formations rising to pierce the flowing crimson sky.”

“Never knew Vulcans could be so poetic.” Chapel tossed her backpack down next to Uhura’s pack and sprawled out on a nearby bench, dangling her feet over one end of it; after all, she was dressed in hiking shorts instead of her usual miniskirts, and there was no one else around anyway. “Still, I’d pass on that one. The volcanic rock is probably more likely to pierce the soles of your boots, so that the only flowing crimson you’ll notice will be your own blood.”

“True enough.” Uhura scrolled down farther. “Hmm, this sounds more interesting. The Trail of Ancient Terrors. It winds along the edge of a mesa where an ancient cliff-dwelling tribe once lived. According to legend, although the tribal people usually had a humanoid appearance, on nights when T’Kuht was full, each of them would transform into a fierce beast resembling a norsehlat, whatever that is.”

“Sort of like a wolf, I think. Vulcan werewolves.” Chapel shrugged. “Well, it sounds like the most interesting place we’re going to find. I’m game if you are.”


The sandy trail, overgrown in several places by a pale, red-veined grass, didn’t look as if it ever attracted many tourists. But the landscape did seem rather pretty, Uhura thought, slowing her pace to a leisurely walk as she admired the brilliant colors of the sunset on her left. The temperature had cooled enough to be tolerable for humans, and the rising globe of T’Kuht, larger and brighter than any full moon on Earth, would provide plenty of light.

“Think we’ll see a were-norsehlat?” Chapel grinned.

“Doubt it. We probably won’t even see a real norsehlat. Vulcan’s wildlife can’t be very plentiful, after all, with such a harsh natural environment. But I did bring some repellant, just in case, since we’re not carrying phasers.” Uhura reached into a pocket and held up a small canister. “Found it at the visitors’ center. It’s made from a mix of pungent spices, according to the label. I’d guess it’s similar to pepper spray.”

“Seems to me that if any wild animals started stalking us, it’d make a lot more sense to call Enterprise for an emergency beam-up,” Chapel observed. “We have our communicators, after all. That repellant is nothing but extra weight to carry around.”

“You never know what might happen. It’s always best to be prepared, just in case there’s something unexpected.”

Just as she finished speaking, Uhura heard a faint, distant howl from somewhere to her right. The last gleams of sunlight had almost entirely faded, and T’Kuht now loomed much higher in the cloudless sky, casting menacing shadows from jagged rock outcroppings. Thorny bushes blocked part of the path ahead, forcing her and Chapel to walk much closer to the cliff, which fell sharply away to their left.

Past the bushes, and clearly outlined in the moonlight, a huge, fanged, vaguely humanoid figure with pointed ears squatted at the cliff’s edge. Uhura stopped dead in her tracks, staring at the thing, unable to make any sound other than a terrified squeak.

A few seconds later, Chapel stepped forward.

“It’s a totem, Nyota, or some kind of statue. I’d guess that it’s thousands of years old, and we’re the first humans ever to see it. Isn’t this exciting?”

That wasn’t quite the first word that Uhura would have chosen, but she was spared the necessity of a reply when Chapel eagerly approached the monstrous statue, leaving the less adventurous communications officer standing beside the bushes.

“The detail is amazing,” Chapel declared, taking a close look at one of the beast’s arms. “It almost looks as if it’s reaching out to grab me.”

Indeed, the clawing fingers did appear to be moving toward Chapel, and a deep, rumbling growl could be heard from the vicinity of the beast-figure.

By the time Uhura realized that the statue was in fact toppling over and that a section of the cliff was giving way, there was nothing to be done. Chapel, screaming, fell into the dark abyss, with the creature’s hand appearing to drag her down as it fell with her.


Although there didn’t seem to be any part of her body that wasn’t bruised or scraped to some extent, a rather embarrassed Chapel concluded that she hadn’t been seriously injured by the fall. Uhura, still at the top of the cliff, would probably be frantic by now, though. Struggling to rise to her feet in the deep sand into which she had fallen, Chapel reached for her communicator.

It wasn’t there.

And she didn’t see anything near her feet, other than rocks, sand, and the broken pieces of the werewolf totem. Looking up, Chapel saw a glint of metal about halfway up the cliff, clearly out of reach. Just her luck. Uhura was probably just about ready to call for emergency transport, which would mean there’d be no end to McCoy’s wisecracks about her carelessness. Not to mention all the complaints from Vulcan archaeological authorities who would probably blame her for the loss of the ancient statue.

There seemed to be a narrow path leading up the cliff, though, and it was only a few kilometers away. Raising a hand above her head in the bright moonlight, Chapel gave a thumbs-up sign to show that she was all right and then pointed in the direction of the path. A moment later, an answering gesture from the top of the cliff told her that Uhura had understood.

Although slogging through the deep sand would be slow going, at least it was better than making a fool of herself in front of the whole crew by having to be rescued during a shore leave on Vulcan, of all places. Besides, maybe there would be some other interesting artifacts along the way.


A pleasant moonlight hike in the crisp, clean desert air.

Yeah, right.

This has got to be the last time I let Christine Chapel talk me into something this stupid, Uhura thought, as yet another bramble caught her in the leg. The path had entirely disappeared into a tangle of bushes and vines, almost all of which had extremely large and sharp thorns. And what was more, something among the vegetation stank like rotten meat. She’d have turned around and gone back a long time ago, except that she had to find Chapel first. Assuming that she was still walking the same way that Chapel had pointed, which was becoming less and less certain. T’Kuht, now high above her head, provided no directional clues, and the sky was far too bright for any stars to be visible.

Another howl, very close by, made her jump. She put one hand on her communicator and another hand on the repellant canister, glancing around nervously. As thick as the bushes were, an entire norsehlat pack could be slinking along in there, intent on having her for their dinner, and she’d never know it until their sharp fangs sank into her throat.

And something had started rustling in the bushes behind her.


Chapel realized, as soon as she began to climb the rocky path along the cliff face, that she had found the ancient tribal village. The smooth shapes of the cave openings, at evenly spaced intervals along the path, were much too regular to have occurred naturally. Moreover, some of the caves had chiseled inscriptions above their doorways.

She continued along the path, which widened into a flat, open space that had evidently been the center of town. A tall stone altar stood against the cliff, next to a cave entrance that presumably led into a temple of some sort. On the other side of the cave mouth, she could see what appeared to be another werewolf statue. Unlike the broken totem, this beast, standing in an alert pose, had no humanoid features. Chapel took a step toward it.

Then the norsehlat turned its head and snarled at her.


Just as Uhura was about to activate her communicator and call for rescue, regardless of how much of a cowardly fool it would make her look, the dense thicket abruptly gave way to a sandy path once more, leading downward at a steep but manageable angle.

Several caves became visible along the cliff as she descended, with openings wide enough so that she imagined almost anything could be lurking inside, ready to pounce. Uhura tried to stay as far away from the caves as she could, but the path just wasn’t wide enough to give her much distance. And the sky was starting to cloud over, with an occasional gray wisp obscuring the light from T’Kuht, making it more difficult to see the path. There was no sign of Chapel anywhere. Grisly possibilities began to multiply in Uhura’s mind. Something might have dragged Chapel into one of the caves, where even now it was gnawing her bones . . .

As the path twisted around yet another sharp corner, Uhura reminded herself that she was a Starfleet officer and sternly ordered herself to keep that overactive imagination under control.


Chapel backed slowly away from the snarling norsehlat, being careful not to make any sudden moves that might provoke it. She took a mental inventory of the gear she was carrying, which wasn’t much. No phaser, no communicator, not even a canister of that repellant she’d scoffed at earlier. It looked like Uhura was going to get the last laugh, provided she was still alive and in one piece when Uhura showed up.

Well, there was a plasma lantern in her pack. She didn’t really need the light, with T’Kuht so bright overhead, but it might frighten the norsehlat. Carefully reaching into her pack, Chapel pulled out the lantern and turned the knob to the brightest setting. To her disappointment, the norsehlat didn’t run away, but stood its ground.

Just then, Uhura rounded a corner and almost bumped into the stone altar. She saw the norsehlat and froze in terror. If she were to panic and run, Chapel thought, that would make the beast see her as prey. Something had to be done. Ignoring her own fear for the moment, Chapel advanced toward the altar, shouting and brandishing the lantern.

With a final growl, the norsehlat turned aside and slunk away into the shadows. Chapel held the lantern at arm’s length as she peered into the ancient temple, which contained a few mystifying carvings, narrow benches along the walls, and a central statue of what appeared to be a priestess in ceremonial robes.

“Let’s go inside this cave for a few minutes,” Chapel suggested, thinking that Uhura, who was still standing beside the altar trembling, would need a little more time to regain her composure before they started back. “That animal’s not likely to follow us in here, not with all this light from the lantern.”

Uhura didn’t look too pleased about that idea, but for lack of a better one, she walked into the cave beside Chapel and sat down on one of the stone benches. Chapel held the lantern higher, examining a carving of some sort of winged serpent that adorned the back wall of the temple. The ancient Vulcans certainly had a lot of creative talent, she thought.

Outside the cave, the norsehlat howled. Chapel turned her head and saw T’Kuht, finally beginning its descent in the sky, come into view through the cave’s doorway. A shaft of moonlight touched the silent figure of the priestess in the center of the temple.

The statue blurred for a moment and began to change shape. Its arms lengthened into the forelimbs of a huge beast as its face transformed into a wolflike muzzle. Chapel could have sworn that she heard a growl. A few seconds later, a cloud passed across the bright orb of T’Kuht, and as the sky darkened, the statue reverted to its original form.

Uhura, her eyes hugely wide, whispered, “Did you see that?”

“No. And neither did you.”

It wouldn’t have surprised Chapel at all if someone had told her that both she and Uhura beat their all-time fastest sprint records getting out of that cave.


Back on Enterprise the next day, Uhura stopped by her friend’s quarters just as Chapel was in the midst of some research on Vulcan archaeology.

“It says here that the ancient Vulcans sometimes carved their statues with multiple reflective facets, so that they’d appear to change shape in different lighting. Primitive holography, you might say.”

Uhura shook her head dubiously. “Yeah. Whatever you say. Just don’t invite me on any more moonlight hikes.”