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Prepare to be seduced by Star Trek.

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Star Trek

From Quadrant to Quadrant and Person to Person

A Star Trek Fan Anthology Edited By Jespah

Some materialand images are not be appropriate for children under 17 Warning: contains images not considered safe for work Warning: some writings contain character death, torture scenes, or scenes of explicit and overtly sexual acts

TrekUnited Publishing 3


To visit jespah online go to

www.jespah.com To talk about this book and to find more great Star Trek fan fiction join us on the TrekUnited forum at

www.trekunited.com

First pdf online edition MM/DD/2012

Published for TrekUnited by L'Stok Press

www.issuu.com/Kirok.of.LStok Cover art by Entallat

This is a fan written work

The copyrights & trademarks of Star Trek are owned by Paramount Pictures, CBS Corporation and their licensee, Pocket Books. Any attempt to sell or rent this book should be reported to the copyright owners for their action

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To Majel, Bill, Leonard, George, Roger, Dee, To Patrick, LeVar, Marina, Brent and Michael, To Walter, Nichelle, Jim and Grace Lee To Jonathan, Gates, Whoopi, Diana, Denise and Wil To Avery, Rene, Cirroc, Nana, Terry and Armin, To three Roberts, Jennifer, Kate and Ethan, To Aron, Andrew, Max, Marc, Nicole and Colm To Tim, Garrett, Jeri, and Roxann To Scott, Connor, Linda, Anthony, Vaughn, To Chris, Zachary, Karl and Simon, To Gary, Jolene, Dominic, Jeffrey, Steven, Kellie, John To Zoe, Bruce, John and Anton

From TOS to Abrams and all that’s in between But most of all, we dedicate our works to Gene.

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Table of Contents Introduction Jespah........................................................................7 The Alabax 9 Affair MD Bruffy..................................................................11 Last Full Measure Lil Black Dog.............................................................19 You Make Me Want to Scream Jespah......................................................................69 One Night on Terok Nor By Rush Limborg......................................................75 What Lies Within Lies Between Pauline Mac............................................................139 D’Storlin Jespah....................................................................209 A Drone’s New Life Laura McBride.........................................................215 Ripples Lil Black Dog...........................................................227 Milk Jespah....................................................................267 Anvil of the Gods Jean-Luc Picard......................................................273 Sorrow, Shared Honeybee................................................................293 Acknowledgements Jespah....................................................................306

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Introduction Jespah

W

elcome to a very adult take on Star Trek, in its myriad forms. Readers are cautioned that this Anthology contains some words and images that are, most decidedly, not safe for work. Some stories show beloved characters’ deaths, or torture, or unconventional sexual practices. The franchise breaks down into star – the stars in the sky and the stars on the big and small screens. It implies distance and mystery, beauty and heroics. And it also can be deconstructed to trek – a long and often arduous journey. Again, it implies distance, but also movement, action and the alien. 7


Look into the eyes of the betrayed wife, the repentant torturer and the nervous suitor. Hear the voices of the bullied child, the grieving widow and the woman who’s fallen in love for the first time. Feel the pain of the unwitting killer, the disillusionment of a true believer who learns her gods may very well have feet of clay and the bemused awe of the normal, middle-aged wife with an unexpected powerhouse lover at home. There are Vorta and Vulcans, a Caitian and a Cardassian. There are Klingons, and a Trill, a Xindi Reptilian and an ex-Borg drone. And, of course, there are humans. They are represented in all our nuanced, ugly, awkward, wondering, whimsical, needy, sexy, angry, funny and quirky glory. These authors hear their characters’ voices, whether they are canon or original, shouting or whispering or even breathing their last. These artists see these characters’ faces as they smile, frown, moan, concentrate, cry out in pain, laugh or gaze in astonishment. Immerse yourself in these worlds, and feel what it’s like to see with these eyes and hear with these ears. And you may find your eyes growing heavy under ridges or your ears beginning to point or your nose may notch or spots might appear on your neck. It has been my great pleasure to put it all together, 8


and I hope that you, the reader, enjoy what we have wrought together. For that is one of our continuing missions – to entertain you and to nurture our own artistic sides. Have we succeeded? If we have, I hope you’ll tell us. Every byline contains a link to the writer’s home page or forum, and the artists’ pages are listed as well. Or you can leave a comment here. For that is why we do this. We intend no copyright infringement and no profit is made whatsoever. All original characters are our own. We do this for love. Turn the page, and let us show you what we adore. Step into our worlds. =/\=

Jespah writes in all sorts of places online. Her blog covers Star Trek fan fiction.

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James Kirk has to answer for violating the Prime Directive. Did he save a life – or trigger a war?

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The Alabax 9 Affair MD Bruffy

The following is an edited transcript from the Starfleet Board of Inquiry into the incident on Alabax 9. Board of Inquiry consisted of three Starfleet Admirals, Admiral Franklin Fitzpatrick presiding. Fitzpatrick: This Inquiry is now called to order. We are here to look into the circumstances surrounding the incident on Alabax 9 on Stardate 6319.4 and to determine if charges of violating the Prime Directive should be filed against Captain James T. Kirk and Commander Spock of the USS Enterprise. Lt. Commander Shaw, you may begin. 11


Shaw: Sirs, on stardate 6317.2, the Enterprise received orders to escort Ambassador Lendex to Alabax 9 for the purpose of negotiating a trade agreement for their trioxium ore – which is used in every Starfleet weapon from the Type One to a ship’s phaser cannon. The crew received a standard briefing profile on the customs and traditions of the planet by Ambassador Lendex when she arrived on board. I call Commander Spock to the stand. Commander, was the profile even reviewed? Spock: It was. Shaw: Yet, you clearly chose to ignore it. Spock: Not at first. Only when additional information became available later on. Shaw: Summarize the information the Ambassador provided. Spock: The profile compares the Alabaxians to Terran bees. There is one queen – in this case referred to as “Mistress”. Its biology consists of sexual elements of both male and female genders. The rest of the race, the “drones” if you will, are biologically the exact opposite in terms of sexual existence. On Alabax 9, it is tradition and custom for sexual intercourse and negotiation to go together. Trade, 12


military alliances, peace treaties – all require the representative to have sexual intercourse with the reigning Mistress. Refusal to do so would be seen as a gross insult and can result in a declaration of war against the representative’s people. Shaw: And knowing this, Captain Kirk not only forcibly interfered with negotiations, but stopped them entirely – and you not only condoned his actions, but took part as well. Spock: I did. Shaw: Why? Spock: At best the mission profile was incomplete. Shaw: In what way? Spock: It states that sexual intercourse with the Mistress is required. Shaw: And? Spock: It does not state, that upon completion of intercourse, the Mistress eats the representative. (There was a low murmur in the court at this point as the Admirals traded glances. Court recorder) Shaw: And…how did this information come to light? 13


Figure 1: The Alabax 9 Affair – Madison Bruffy

Spock: The morning after we arrived, one of the Mistress’ administrative assistants contacted the Enterprise, wishing to speak to the Ambassador. Unfortunately, she had already beamed down. When he was informed of this, the assistant stated that certain facts had been left out of the profile sent to the Federation. He then supplied that information when Captain Kirk pressed him for details. 14


Shaw: No further questions. Fitzpatrick: Mr. Cogsley? Cogsley: No questions. Shaw: I call Captain Kirk to the stand. Captain, what did the assistant say when he called? Kirk: He knew that certain facts had been left out of the profile. When I told him that the Ambassador had already beamed down, he was clearly uneasy with the news and that’s when I pressed him for details. Shaw: And when he told you that the Mistress intended to eat the Ambassador – ? Kirk: I took a landing party to the surface with every intention of stopping her. Shaw: Even though it was a blatant violation of both the Prime Directive and local customs? Kirk: As this board is well aware, one of the primary missions of the Enterprise – and Starfleet – is the protection of Federation citizens. I took the actions I considered necessary to save the Ambassador. If the Alabaxians hadn’t withheld information, I would have insisted the negotiations take place aboard the Enterprise. Shaw: Why? 15


Kirk: The Enterprise is Federation property – Federation territory. With the Mistress on board, I could have argued that Federation law and custom have dominance. Because we were supplied with insufficient information, I was denied that option. Shaw: And we know from past incidents, that if you were faced with a similar situation – Kirk: I’d make the same choice. Shaw: Then you are admitting that you and Mr. Spock are guilty of violating the Prime Directive? Kirk: Mr. Spock acted on my orders. I alone am responsible for the actions that were taken. I alone am guilty. Shaw: Mr. Cogsley? Cogsley: I think the Captain has made his case quite clear. I have no questions – unless the Board does? Fitzpatrick: No. The Board will take a ten minute recess to consider what we’ve heard here. (Ten minutes passedCourt recorder.) Fitzpatrick: This board is now reconvened. Having reviewed the briefing profile and noted the 16


omission of facts and having heard the testimony presented, it is the view of this Board, that Captain Kirk and Commander Spock were not provided with sufficient information upon which to base their actions. In the case of the Prime Directive, this Board must agree that Captain Kirk did willfully violate its principals. However, due to the circumstances of the case, we don’t see how any other course of action would have been possible without loss of life. Therefore, while Captain Kirk’s admission of guilt will go into the record, it will also be noted, that due to the circumstances – in this case, the deliberate withholding of information by the Alabaxian government – no punishment will be assigned. A special contact team will be sent to Alabax 9 to convey the Federation’s displeasure with their actions and to officially notify them that unless an official apology is issued; all negotiations will be terminated effective immediately. This Board of Inquiry stands adjourned. =/\=

Madison Bruffy is the writer/creator of the graphic novel series Nova Trek – a parallel Trek universe adventure. 17


What if the Organians hadn’t decided to intervene, halting the Klingon/Federation war before it even started? Here’s an AU look at how things might have played out.

Warning – contains character torture and death.

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Last Full Measure Lil Black Dog

“It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion— that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain” – Gettysburg address, President Abraham Lincoln, November 19, 1863.

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H

The Last Full Measure

e’d lost track of how long they’d been here: A week? Two? A month? The cell where they were being held had no windows, no links to the outside world. Here he had no way to mark the inexorable progression of time. Minutes blended into hours, hours transformed into days, days stretched into weeks, the monotony only interrupted by horrifying periods of intense rage, bitter helplessness and lately a profound sense of hopelessness, at least for him. As the days marched on, he was unsure of what his companion felt, beyond excruciating agony. He glanced down at the man lying on the floor next to him, bone-thin, pale, his clothing in tatters, his body covered in bruises and open, festering sores, one eye damaged beyond repair. His discomfort, his unease was evident even in the merciful release of sleep, tremors passing through the lean frame at irregular intervals, grimaces of pain marring the impassive features. Once upon a time this man would have known to the tenth of a second how much time had passed, but they were far from the safety, the security, the normalcy of that previous life. It was as if it had never been; had been replaced by this existence where nothing mattered but surviving day to day, hour to hour, minute to minute. Drawing the dark head into his lap, trying to offer a 20


modicum of comfort, of relief, to share the warmth of his body as a way to combat the bone-chilling dampness of their surroundings, he struggled to remember why they were here; what had brought them to this planet in the first place. Duty, he reminded himself dully, the word slowly surfacing out of the jumbled layers of his mind. It was the duty of the Federation – and all those individuals who had taken an oath to uphold and defend her – to protect weaker, less advanced races from those who possessed the ability, the hostile intent to do serious harm to them and their way of life. His mind flashed back to that fateful day: Unavoidable and imminent war with the Klingons had been buffeted about the galaxy on the interstellar wind, whispered on the lips of military men behind closed doors for several months now. Unfortunately, that scenario had now become stark reality. Organia was doomed to be caught in the middle, its strategic importance to both sides as a staging area making it paramount that he and his first officer win the hearts and minds of the ruling council, denying the Klingons access to Organia’s immense potential, garnering the right for the Federation to use the planet as it saw fit during the impending conflict. It’s war, the encrypted communiqué from Starfleet had announced indifferently, and the two of them had been ordered by the powers that be to prevent the Klingons from laying claim to the planet at all 21


costs. Attempting to fulfill their duty, to carry out the oath they’d sworn, the two of them had beamed down to Organia. It proved to be far below the average Federation world on the evolutionary scale, unable to defend itself against the superior technological threat posed by the Klingons. In an effort to offer the inhabitants an alternative to the tyranny of Klingon rule, they had tried to persuade the planet’s Council of Elders that Klingon occupation would mean hardship and death for much of their population, but the elders had been unconcerned, most assertive in their conviction that Organians at large were in no danger. The Klingon fleet had arrived shortly thereafter, forcing their own vessel to retreat, leaving the two of them stranded and on their own. Before Kor, the new Klingon Military Governor of Organia, had entered the Council chambers, armed with a long list of instructions and rules designed to keep the general population in line, the Organians had initially tried to protect the two Federation operatives, supplying them with native clothing and a suitable cover story to explain their presence. Regardless, the Klingons had been instantly suspicious – the two of them simply didn’t behave like the rest of the local populace. Knowing Vulcan was a member of the Federation, they had subjected his first to their Mind-sifter – a device designed to extract the thoughts from any mind it probed. Thanks to Vulcan mind disciplines, his companion 22


had been able to resist, even at the fourth setting. The machine’s operator had guaranteed the Klingon commander that no one was capable of concealing the truth at that level. For the time being, their identities had gone undetected. However, it soon became obvious that the Organians were unwilling – or unable – to stand up to their occupiers. They proved to be lackluster, unconcerned about their own welfare, oblivious to the treachery and warlike nature of those who had seized control of their planet. Like sheep being led to the slaughter, the population at large appeared feeble-minded, meek, submissive, giving in to the Klingons’ harsh, oppressive rule without complaint or any perceivable form of resistance. It proved to be the type of world the Klingons found most agreeable; one they’d be able to rule with a ruthless iron fist, ripe for bending to their will, one they could conquer without a backward glance and little to no effort on their part. He wiped a dirty hand across his forehead, leaning his back against the damp, stone wall of their prison, pressing the upper torso of the man in his arms closer to his chest. Thoughts like these only succeeded in bringing forth his rage, his sheer frustration with their current situation. The day he had sworn his oath, declared his undying loyalty to the Federation, promised to uphold the ideas for which it stood, was but a distant, muddled memory; seemed to have taken place millennia ago. All that 23


mattered to him now was finding some way to spare the fitful sleeper in his arms from the agony he was forced to endure on a daily basis; to keep him from being subjected to the unspeakable horrors that he knew awaited the Vulcan tomorrow. He himself was the key. He knew without question what had to be done. It was just a matter of finding the courage, the inner strength to do what was necessary… Twenty-four days ago. Chamber of the Council of Elders. Planet Organia.

“Of course we blew it up! Deliberately!” Kirk fired off hotly, in reference to a Klingon weapons dump he and Spock had destroyed, not even an hour ago. The Klingon occupation force had been on site for twenty-six hours now, and he and Spock had been the only ones who had attempted to move against them, receiving no help whatsoever from the indigenous population. “But that was violence,” Ayelborne countered, acting head of the Organian Council of Elders. “We did it to show you, you can fight back. That you don’t have to be sheep; you can be wolves.” The captain strode to the table where the council members were seated. “History is full of examples of civil populations fighting back successfully against a military dictatorship. We may not destroy 24


the Klingons, but we can blow up their installations, disrupt their communications; make Organia useless to them.” “Our fleet will eventually arrive. Meanwhile, the battle is ours. It can be a successful one,” Spock added quietly. “Captain, I implore you,” Ayelborne began, his voice heavy, “never to do such a thing again.” “Why? Are you afraid of retribution? Does your personal freedom mean so little to you?” “How little you understand us, Captain.” “All I understand is that you apparently don’t have the backbone to stand up and fight and protect the ones you love. You speak of courage, gentlemen,” Kirk stated, addressing the members of the council once again. “Does courage mean so little to you?” Within minutes of their confession the doors to the chamber were flung open, Kor entering with guards in tow. “You speak of courage,” he said, addressing Kirk. “Yes, I’ve had the room under surveillance since we arrived,” he explained, noting the look of shock that had flitted briefly across the captain’s face. “Obviously you don’t know the difference between courage and foolhardiness.” He approached the Council members. “It is always the brave ones who die; the soldiers. I hope you will continue to savor the sweetness of your life.” 25


“Enough!” Ayelborne snapped. “We find interference in other people’s affairs…most disgusting. We can no longer be party to this insane violence, Figure 2: Captain, I implore you this desire to do harm to other sentient beings. We must remove ourselves from the petty grievances of such inferior life forms.” “Inferior? Us?” Kor bellowed. “What do you mean…remove yourselves?” Kirk asked, thoroughly nonplussed. Ayelborne ignored Kor, turning to Kirk instead. “I’m sorry, Captain, we can no longer protect you and Mister Spock. You are on your own, gentlemen.” Kor shot Kirk a look, taking a step toward him, his eyes lighting up at the inadvertent disclosure. “Captain? Of a Federation vessel, perhaps?” he asked gleefully, but Kirk’s reply was cut off as the members of the council began to glow, emitting a blinding light. As Klingon and Federation officers watched in disbelief, the corporeal bodies of all the Organians in the room began to fade, dwindling 26


away to nothing. The strident tone of his communicator vied for Kor’s attention. Drawing his eyes away from the scene before him, he flipped it open, gesturing to the guards to take the two remaining non-Klingons in the room into custody. “Kor here,” he snapped. “What is it?” “Commander,” the disembodied voice from the instrument in his hand announced. “My garrison was in the central square as instructed, when all the Organians…simply vanished.” “Vanished?” Kor echoed, his voice edged with disbelief. “I swear, Commander. They were there one minute and gone the next. No one was at fault.” “Acknowledged. Stand by for further instructions,” he ordered, snapping the device closed. The Klingon commander looked to the two Enterprise men. “Why

Figure 3: Inferior? Us?

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were the Organians protecting you, Captain?” He looked from Kirk to Spock and back again. “Who are you?” he asked, sidling up to Kirk. Kirk lifted his chin defiantly, meeting his opponent’s gaze squarely, the muscles along his jaw line twitching, stubbornly refusing to answer. “It is of little consequence; the Mind-sifter will tell me all I need to know,” Kor remarked, unconcerned with the lack of cooperation. Kirk felt the silky voice slither along his spine. “Take the Vulcan to the holding cell,” the Klingon commander barked at the guards, “And this one to the lab.” He gestured absently toward Kirk. “Put him in the machine. It will only be a matter of time before I discover that which I wish to know,” he said, lips curling into a sneer, causing the ends of his long, thin mustache to ripple and sway. “I shall be there shortly.” =/\=

Kirk soon found himself in a small, dark room, strapped upright to a wall, a thin, helmet-like device – short, metal rods sprouting from its surface like petrified blades of grass – placed on his head. This instantly brought back images of the Neural Neutralizer they had discovered on the Tantalus Colony for the criminally insane; an insidious machine that had been used to manipulate the minds of the inmates there. While visibly different, their purposes were eerily similar: Do the bidding of the operator, or be faced with excruciating 28


mental pain, one’s mind emptied; one’s individual strength of will destroyed in the process. Breaking out in a cold sweat, he recalled his own firsthand experience with the power of that machine when the director of the colony had used it on him. The memory was not a pleasant one. If this machine was anything like the Tantalus device, he wouldn’t stand a chance. Two operators stood behind a pedestal across the room, awaiting the arrival of their commanding officer, trading sadistic glances among themselves. Kirk swallowed grimly, summoning up a sense of resolve from somewhere. He had no illusions about the severe mental trauma he was about to endure. Kor strode into the room momentarily, coming to a stop before him. “I shall ask you one last time, Captain – what is your name, and what is your mission here?” Kirk said nothing, naked hatred and loathing burning in his eyes. “Suit yourself,” Kor responded indifferently, shrugging his shoulders, signaling to the operator behind him. “I promise you, this will be most painful.” As the machine flared to life, a faint glow was emitted from the device on Kirk’s head, a low hum filling the room. The captain grimaced, choking back a sob, straining against his bonds. It felt as if 29


his blood had been instantly turned to molten metal, the red-hot liquid searing a fiery path as it coursed through the veins and arteries in his brain, shorting out each synapse and neural pathway it encountered along the way. The blinding pain spread quickly, soon inflaming every nerve in his body. From the depths of the unspeakable agony that now engulfed him, he heard a low, demanding voice: “Who are you, Captain?” it growled harshly. “Kirk, James T., Captain USS…,” he heard himself answer, the words dragged out haltingly, hesitantly through clenched teeth as he fought to resist the power of the machine. He bit down hard on his lips, the salty tang of blood exploding across his tongue, willing himself not to divulge any additional information. The sweat was now running off him in rivulets as the fire scorching his brain increased tenfold. Kor’s eyes sparkled at the revelation. “Captain of the USS Enterprise. Your reputation precedes you. I had so hoped to meet you in battle.” The Klingon Commander smiled to himself. “And the Vulcan is your First Officer, no doubt. I wonder how he managed to fool our Mind-sifter. Was it due to operator error, perhaps?” he postulated, raising his voice and casting a glance over his shoulder at the men behind the controls. “There was no error, Commander, I swear,” the senior operator assured him, swallowing nervously. 30


Kor turned his attention back to Kirk. “Even in our Empire, we have heard of the prowess of the Command Team of Starfleet’s flagship. We shall see if the reports were accurate.” At the wave of Kor’s hand the device went dark momentarily, the room suddenly plunged into silence save for Kirk’s ragged, harsh breathing, his head lolled forward, eyes squeezed tightly shut, chest heaving, blood, commingled with sweat, dripping liberally from the damaged lower lip. Kor seized his chin, snapping his head upward roughly, forcing Kirk to meet his eyes. “So far, so good, Captain. And now you will tell me the composition and strength of the Federation’s fleet, as well as its last known location.” “Go to Hell,” Kirk shot back in a voice as hoarse as if he’d been screaming for hours on end. “Trust me, Captain – I can assure you you’ll be there long before me.” Kor chuckled to himself. “I’ll be able to get the information I require, with or without your cooperation. As for the condition of your mind when I have picked your brain clean, well that remains to be seen.” Releasing Kirk’s head, he signaled to the operator once again. “Commander, a word,” came the hesitant, fearful response. Kor snapped his head around, fixing the insubordinate offender with a livid stare. “Proceed, 31


Kinath,” he instructed impatiently. “Commander, there is some danger,” the young officer began again. “His mind is remarkably resistant to the Mind-sifter, although not nearly as strong as the Vulcan’s. There is a high probability that, if increased to the next setting, it will kill him before he discloses the necessary information.” “I said proceed, Kinath, or would you like to be strapped in next?” Kor snarled. “No Commander; that will not be necessary.” “Use level two this time.” Kinath swallowed hard, visibly paling, his hands shaking as they played over the console before him. “Aye Commander, level two,” he announced in an unsteady voice as the machine hummed to life once again. This time, Kirk could not keep from crying out, a guttural sob torn from his throat, the tendons in his neck raised, stretched tautly beneath the skin, muscles knotted with his effort at resistance. “Strength and composition of the fleet, Captain,” Kor asked patiently. “Kirk…James T…Captain…serial number SC-937—” The remainder ended in a blood-curdling scream as Kirk collapsed into unconsciousness, his bonds the only things keeping him upright. 32


“Cut power,” the Klingon commander bellowed, and the machine once again went dark. “They are such a weak, inferior race,” he spat out. “I must have that information. Take him to the cell with his first officer,” he ordered the men behind him. “I shall be in my office, deciding how to proceed.” And with that, Kor stalked out of the room. =/\=

Spock was beside himself, testing the strength of the wooden door to his cell for the tenth time in half as many minutes. He had to get to Jim; offer whatever assistance he could to his commanding officer. The Vulcan knew firsthand the power of the Klingon torture device, and was doubtful Kirk would be able to survive it with his mind intact, no matter the setting. All Starfleet command-level officers received training in resisting interrogation. Spock had the utmost faith in Kirk’s ability to protect sensitive, classified information; his concern stemmed from how much damage this type of Figure 4: Spock in solitary 33


resistance would inflict on an unprotected mind exposed to such a formidable device. He flopped down in a corner near the door, surveying his tiny prison. It was dark and damp, moisture dripping down the rough, stone walls, unmarred by windows or openings of any kind. Roughly rectangular in shape, the area by the door was raised, encompassing about a third of the room. The other section was about a meter below, the floor littered with a thin layer of straw. He tensed, climbing instantly to his feet as he heard the unmistakable sound of boots being dragged across the flagstone floors without. A key scraped across metal as it was inserted into the primitive lock, tumblers clicking as the bolt was drawn back. The door was flung open, but before he could react a shape was hurled into the room, falling off the raised section and landing in a heap on the stone floor below. The door closed quickly with a resounding thud, the bolt slamming home, but Spock only had eyes for the man who still lay crumpled among the straw. He was beside Kirk in an instant. “Jim,� he said softly, gently turning the man onto his back. The hazel eyes that met his were crazed, wild with fear. The captain shrank back from the physical contact, scuttling away on all fours until his back 34


bumped against the cold, damp wall. “Jim,” Spock said again, his voice calm, soothing, also moving in a crouched position, approaching the captain slowly, cautiously, a hand stretched out before him. “No! Don’t touch me! I won’t tell you anything, do you hear?!” Spock instantly froze, the outstretched hand dropping to his side. “I do not require information. My only goal is to assist you,” he assured Kirk softly. “Why?” Kirk asked warily, a fist raised protectively before him. “Because you are my captain…and my friend. Jim, it is I – Spock.” “Spock?” “Yes, Jim.” The Vulcan inched closer, noting with dismay the bruised and bloodied lip, yet somehow relieved he could see no other physical injuries. “Spock.” Kirk leaned forward, latching onto the Vulcan’s upper arm with both hands, tugging him close, resting his forehead against Spock’s shoulder. “They tried to get me to tell them things; things about the Fleet, but I resisted,” he said, pushing away from the Vulcan slightly, hazel eyes rife with uncertainty as they searched the serene, brown 35


ones. “Yes, I know, Jim,” Spock soothed, his face mere inches from Kirk’s. “I resisted this time, but I don’t know if I can do it again. It was like they set fire to my brain,” Kirk whispered, eyes unseeing, wide with fear once again. “Do not think about it, Jim; it is over for now,” Spock said forcefully, shaking his captain slightly. “Concentrate on something – anything – else,” he added, softer this time. “I can’t,” Kirk whimpered, his tone fraught with rising panic, his eyes squeezed shut, his grip tightening painfully on the Vulcan’s arm. “Then let me help you,” Spock remarked, his tone just this side of pleading. “How?” Kirk asked, once more on the defensive. “By mind melding with you. If—” “NO!” Kirk shrieked, shrinking away from the Vulcan once again. “No one, or nothing, gets inside my head…” Every nerve ending in his brain sizzled with the remembered pain of the Klingon device. “… I can’t…” His eyes were wide with terror. “All right Jim, I shall not meld with you against your wishes,” Spock reassured him. 36


Kirk quieted, a hitched breath escaping tightly compressed lips. “But you must rest; allow your brain time to heal.” Before the next confrontation the Vulcan added silently. I am a touch-telepath. If I can at least get Jim to allow me to touch him, I can ease his anxiety somewhat with or without a meld. “Sleep now,” he crooned softly. Kirk closed his eyes, leaning back against the wall. “I’m so cold, Spock,” he blurted out suddenly. “Here, this will help,” Spock said, removing the thick woolen cape from the outfit the Organians had given him and draping it about Kirk’s shoulders, gently drawing the shivering form to his chest. Kirk settled against the warmth of Spock’s body and the Vulcan felt him relax slightly. “Yes, rest now,” he intoned, sending soothing and calming thoughts Kirk’s way through the inadvertent physical contact. Wrapped tightly in the protective cocoon of Spock’s arms the captain fell at last into a fitful sleep, the only respite from what was to become their daily lives. =/\=

“Recommendations,” Kor snapped, pacing the space in front of his desk, circling the subordinate officer before him like a hungry vulture homing in on its next meal. 37


“There is no amount of force we can use to get information from the Vulcan, Commander. We have seen this. He has already resisted at a setting well beyond that which would have broken the average man,” the governor’s second-in-command informed him. “What about Kirk?” “It seems Starfleet officers have more counterintelligence training than we had anticipated. Their minds are remarkably adept at protecting vital, sensitive information. As evidenced by the effects of level two on the captain, most likely our Mind-sifter will destroy his brain long before we can gain access to the intelligence we need.” “Then we shall resort to conventional methods to loosen his tongue!” “Again, Commander, the training they have had may also preclude success with traditional methods of torture.” “Then what do you suggest? We have a starship captain and his first officer in our custody. Heads will roll if we can’t supply our government with the inside information it requires regarding the inner workings of Starfleet, starting with yours, I promise you.” Lieutenant Krethal paled slightly. “Then perhaps we 38


should approach the problem from a different angle, Commander.” “And what might that be?” Kor countered skeptically. “It is a well-known fact that Vulcans are of hardier stock than humans, therefore I humbly suggest that we start with him.” “Are you mad?! If he is stronger, and more able to resist the effects of torture, then what is to be gained by doing this?” “We will not do this in an effort to garner information from him, but from Kirk.” “I don’t follow,” Kor growled in a malevolent whisper. “If you don’t start making sense soon, Krethal, I’ll put you in the machine myself.” The lieutenant’s Adam’s apple bobbed and he cleared his throat, the words tumbling over one another like grains of sand churned up by an angry sea as he fought to clarify his reasoning. “It is obvious they are more than captain and first officer. There is some genuine affection, and concern there, as evidenced by the captain’s reaction when we first subjected the Vulcan to the Mind-sifter.” He paused uncertainly. “Go on, I’m listening,” Kor stated, his interest piqued. 39


“It is a given that the Vulcan will be able to endure much more pain than the human. Why not use that to our advantage, Commander?” “How?” “By torturing the Vulcan as the captain is forced to watch, and telling Kirk it will continue, the level and pain for his friend escalating at every session, until the human tells us what we want to know.” “Of course,” Kor agreed with conviction, finally grasping his second-in-command’s inspired vision. “We’ll be able to torture the Vulcan almost indefinitely, and at some point the captain will break, no longer able to see his friend in such terrible agony. It will be the best of both worlds, preserving the life of the one who is most likely to die under our methods but can provide us with the most useful information, while allowing us to use our most heinous procedures on the other, without fear of killing him in the process. Very clever, Krethal. There is hope for you yet,” Kor announced, approval dancing in his eyes as he slapped the lieutenant on the shoulder. He wandered back toward his desk, absently stroking his thin mustache. “At some point, the Vulcan may even beg Kirk to talk. That would be a delightful turn of events. I only hope I’m there to witness it.” A cold sneer flitted across the swarthy features. “For tonight, allow them to rest. They will 40


need it in the face of what’s to come tomorrow.” =/\=

Kirk awoke to harsh, guttural voices, light pouring into their tiny prison from the bright corridor beyond. “On your feet, Federation scum.” Disentangling himself from the security of Spock’s side, he rose unsteadily to his feet, the Vulcan not far behind. “Move, both of you,” the guard silhouetted in the doorway ordered, gesturing with his disruptor, stepping aside warily in order to grant them access to the room’s only exit. Spock looked askance at him, but Kirk gave a slight negative shake of his head. Another guard, also armed, was visible in the corridor beyond the door. The two were ushered out, their captors following at a safe distance, disruptors trained on the Starfleet officers. They soon found themselves in another dim, windowless space, torches affixed to various locations about the room supplying the only source of light, shackles hanging empty from metal rings on the back wall. Two Klingon soldiers were already on station, positioned behind a low table situated to one side, its contents hidden under a dirty sheet of fabric. Kor and Krethal appeared momentarily. The governor approached Kirk, a wide smile stretched over his face. “Good morning, gentlemen. I trust 41


you are well rested?” Kirk responded with a grin of his own. “Yes. The accommodations were most satisfactory. Thank you for your gracious hospitality,” he intoned, his voice edged with sarcasm. Kor chuckled brightly. “Good. It pleases me to know that both of you are in top physical condition, although I can’t promise you how long that will last,” he added innocently. Kirk willed himself not to react to that statement, continuing to project an air of unruffled confidence. “Unfortunately, gentlemen, our experiments with the Mind-sifter have shown it will be ineffective on you. The Vulcan’s mind is remarkably adept at circumventing the machine’s ability to peer directly into the mind, while you, Captain have the opposite problem: Your mind is too fragile. It would be destroyed long before we are able to extract the intelligence we desire.” Kor began pacing the room, a fist pressed to his chin. “No, it seems we will have to resort to other, more archaic methods, to get what we want. “As you can see,” he said, gesturing to the room around them, “conditions here are quite primitive. For ‘superior’ beings, the Organians appeared to be most content to live in squalor. It will be a week or so before we are able to get this facility rigged with all the comforts of home as it were. In the 42


meantime, we’ll need to rely on the cruder methods of interrogation currently at our disposal.” He grinned openly at Kirk. “They may be crude, but they are often highly effective. And I promise you, Captain, if you do not tell me what I wish to know, your first officer will become intimately acquainted with each and every one of them.” At Kirk’s look of confusion, Kor’s lips twisted into a malevolent leer. “We have come to realize that there is probably no means that we can employ on you Captain to force you to talk before our methods kill you.” He paused for effect. “Save one. Each time you refuse to give us what we want, your Vulcan friend will be made to suffer the consequences.” To demonstrate his point, Kor signaled to two of the guards who dragged Spock forward, stripping him to the waist and strapping him into the shackles facing the wall, his bare back exposed. “Please, take a seat, Captain,” Kor said, gesturing to the lone chair in the room. “I want to provide you with the best seat in the house to view this.” “I prefer to stand,” Kirk responded defiantly. “It doesn’t matter what you prefer. I am in command here, not you, and you will do as instructed, or your subordinate will suffer.” Kor nodded at one of the guards, who threw back the cover on the table, drawing a bull whip from the surface, snapping and cracking it in the air before him as he approached Spock. “Sit,” Kor reiterated, 43


his voice low, gravelly. Kirk found himself forced into the chair by two sets of hands on his shoulders. “Now that you are comfortable, Captain, I’ll ask you again: What is the strength and composition of the fleet?” He met Kor’s cold stare with one of his own, and the whip cracked across the Vulcan’s back, a thin stream of green blood trickling from the raised, open welt. The session continued for over an hour, short, frequent periods of inactivity sprinkled throughout, both he and Spock remaining obstinately silent, the minute drooping of the dark head and slightly elevated respiration rate the only indicators of Spock’s distress. =/\=

“Here, let me help you.” They were back in their cell, Kirk dunking a strip he had torn from the native clothing he was wearing into their small bowl of drinking water. Spock presented his injured back without comment, and Kirk proceeded to clean the angry welts, gently washing away the dried blood. He finished by pouring their remaining water over Spock’s back, rinsing the wounds as best he could. Another strip became a makeshift towel, Kirk dabbing gently at the cuts in an effort to dry them. “I’m sorry, Spock. I wish there was more I could do. What I wouldn’t give for one of McCoy’s little 44


magic pain pills, or a hypo of strong antibiotics right about now.” “Do not be concerned, Captain. As the doctor’s medications tend to disagree with me, it is preferable to handle the pain on my own terms.” “And just how do you propose to do that, Mister Spock?” “Pain is a thing of the mind. The mind can be controlled.” “Against something of this nature?” Kirk asked skeptically, eyeing the mangled flesh of the Vulcan’s back. “The wounds are superficial, easily managed,” came the stoic response. “I’m more worried about infection. Do you have anything in that Vulcan arsenal of yours that may help with that?” “We Vulcans do possess the ability to put ourselves in a healing trance, boosting the immune system and speeding healing time.” “Then do it.” “I cannot, Captain. It requires a measure of concentration that would render me unconscious for a prolonged period of time, requiring a significant effort to rouse me from that altered 45


state.” “So, what’s the problem?” “If the Klingons were to come for us again before I am properly awakened—” Spock’s explanation was interrupted by the door to their cell being flung open, Kor silhouetted against the light streaming in from without, flanked by two guards. The Federation men climbed to their feet. “Gentlemen, you performed most admirably today. I would be remiss if I failed to reward such bravery,” he said magnanimously, signaling to his subordinates. One stepped forward, two small plates in hand, which he set on the edge of the raised section of the cell. “Thank you, but no, we’ll pass,” Kirk announced smoothly. “I beg your pardon?” Kor asked in a silky whisper. “We decline your generous offer,” Kirk reiterated. “Unfortunately, Captain, you are forgetting something. As I told you before, I am in command here, not you. I shall not be so negligent in my duty to the Empire as to allow two prisoners who possess the wealth of information you do to perish from starvation. You will eat – both of you – or the other will suffer for your lack of compliance and you will then be force fed. The choice is yours, 46


Captain. We can do this the easy way, or the hard way.” Trading a glance with Spock, Kirk walked up to the edge of the raised tier, eyeing the contents of the plates dubiously. They contained chunks of fatty, gristly meat, swimming in a greasy, gray gravy. Spock had followed at his shoulder and Kirk turned to his companion, handing him one of the plates, a look of profound apology flitting briefly over his features. The two proceeded to eat in silence, dispatching the meager portions quickly. “Thank you, gentlemen,” Kor quipped. “And now, something to wash it down with.” The other guard set a metal bowl full of dirty, brown water at the edge of the raised section of the stone floor, grabbing the two used dishes and utensils. Kor and his men turned and left, the lock clanking home. Once the Klingons had departed, Spock bolted for the corner of their cell that had become their latrine, immediately emptying the contents of his stomach. As the Vulcan continued to retch, Kirk looked away, trying to provide his first with what little privacy he could. Spock returned a minute later, settling himself on the floor beside his captain. After several moments of awkward silence, Kirk began speaking. “I know it goes against you 47


principles, Mister Spock, but it might be wise not to purge what little food they are giving us from your system. It will only deplete your strength even faster.” “You misunderstand, Captain. My vomiting the contents of my stomach was not intentional. I have been a vegetarian all my life. At this stage, my system is unable to process the foreign form of sustenance. Perhaps at a later date my body will become acclimated to the unfamiliar source of nourishment.” Kirk glanced sharply at him. “Let’s hope we’re not here long enough for that to happen,” he announced grimly. “Jim, let us be honest with one another. I am not the only one experiencing pain,” Spock stated matterof-factly, locking eyes with his captain, restarting the conversation that had been interrupted by the arrival of Kor and his men. Kirk looked away. “I don’t think Bones would have anything in his little black bag that could help with my kind of pain.” “But I do,” the Vulcan responded earnestly. Kirk’s gaze snapped to his, and Spock attempted to qualify his statement. “The Vulcan mind is also quite adept at blocking emotional pain, Jim. If you would permit me to meld with you I could—” 48


“NO!” Kirk shouted forcefully. He began again, calmer this time. “I can’t Spock – not yet anyway. The memories of the pain of having something inside my head are just too fresh, too raw. It’s got nothing to do with you; it’s something I need to work through on my own.” Kirk’s gaze softened, the silent apology written clearly on his face. “Understood, sir,” came the whispered reply. “Let’s try and get some rest,” Kirk remarked, deftly shifting the flow of the conversation, leaning against the wall and closing his eyes. “Something tells me that tomorrow we’re gonna need it.” The Vulcan followed suit, and soon the two of them had passed into the oblivion of an uneasy slumber. =/\=

Over the course of the next week there were several more sessions, each one building on the previous one. Spock had been forced to endure physical beatings with a wide variety of implements, as well as extreme heat and bone-chilling cold. The Vulcan had lost the tip of an ear and several toes to frostbite. And yet, each tried to buoy the spirits of the other, conversations tending to revolve around how the fleet was doing, how soon they could expect to be liberated, and maintaining the inner focus necessary to transcend their current predicament, each encouraging the other to stay strong until help 49


arrived. Thus became the pattern of their lives: Lengthy periods of inactivity locked in their dank, malodorous cell combined with Figure 5: You leave me little choice frequent, regular torture sessions, Spock wrestling with the toll his physical injuries were taking on him, and Kirk struggling with his all-consuming guilt, knowing that it would only take a word from him to bring about an end to his friend’s torment. Things had gone from bad to worse during the next few weeks of their captivity. Spock had suffered dislocated joints, burns and other inhumane atrocities, with the events of today almost putting Kirk over the edge. During this morning’s torture session he had been made to watch as they blinded Spock with a hot poker. The Vulcan had been unable to hide his agony, crying out as several of their captors held him down, another digging the remainder of the mangled tissue from the damaged eye socket with a small knife. Kirk had been seized by dry heaves, leaping to his feet, incensed by the sheer savagery of the scene unfolding before him, only to be flattened by the butt of a disruptor connecting with his temple. Mercifully, all had gone black after that. 50


Up till now, their road had been difficult, but tolerable. Kirk’s grip on the man in his arms tightened involuntarily as he recalled the meeting he had had with Kor a few hours ago, several guards dragging him to the Commander’s office: “You leave me little choice, Captain. I would take his other eye, but then he would be unable to see your suffering. Tomorrow, if you do not give me the information I want, I will instruct my soldiers to castrate him.” Kirk felt the blood drain from his face, the taste of bile suddenly filling his mouth, dark spots dancing before his eyes. His knees buckled, the strong arms of the guards on either side of him the only things keeping him on his feet. “I see that, finally, I have touched a nerve. The war goes well – at least for us. We have surrounded your home planet, the only thing preventing us from laying waste to it the defensive screens blanketing your world. I want the frequencies that will render them inoperative. I will have that information, and secure my place as a hero of this war, or make you and your friend suffer as you have never done before. The pain he has endured so far will be child’s play compared to what faces him tomorrow, starting with the removal of his manhood.” He paused briefly before continuing. “We Klingons are also quite skilled at vivisection – at least, some of us are. My soldiers will get their 51


first lesson at the expense of your friend. As to how he will fare under their brutal ministrations – who can say? “It’s up to you now, Captain – the decision rests squarely on your shoulders. I will grant you twelve hours to make up your mind – a most generous offer on my part, only because I have found you to be a worthy opponent. You would have made a fine Klingon. It pains me greatly to finally have to break you, but this is war, after all.” The governor leered openly at Kirk. “Take him back to his cell,” Kor instructed, addressing the guards. “He has much to ponder before day breaks tomorrow.” He glanced down once again at the man resting uneasily against his chest. Spock had already endured significantly more than was expected of the average Starfleet officer; had borne the regular beatings and extreme physical discomfort stoically and without complaint. What he has been through would have already broken a lesser man, Kirk thought silently. Would surely have broken me by now. Kirk found that he was unwilling to subject his first to anything else; would no longer be the cause of this man’s unimaginable suffering. “Spock,” he said, a hand brushing the narrow shoulders, cautious not to disturb the healing burns along his first’s back, visible through what was left of the man’s shredded tunic. 52


The lone eye popped open instantly, searching Kirk’s face. The Vulcan started to sit up, but gentle pressure from Kirk caused him to be still. “Don’t move too much. I know it’s painful for you.” “Jim. I told you I am capable of blocking the pain. It is of no consequence.” A wry grin pulled at the corners of Kirk’s mouth. “C’mon Spock, this is me, remember?” At the puzzled look that appeared on his first’s face, Kirk added, “That hasn’t been working for some time now.” It was not a question. Spock shifted beneath his arms, choosing not to answer. “I’ve come to a decision. I can’t let them hurt you anymore.” “Jim. The fleet is overdue. Our rescue is imminent. You mustn’t lose faith,” the Vulcan implored him earnestly, pushing himself to a seated position. “I can continue to resist, I assure you.” “I’m sorry Spock, but that ship has already sailed. Please, my friend. I will not be the cause any longer of what they are doing to you; what they’re putting you through. Let me release you from your pain.” “Jim, I cannot,” the Vulcan replied, instantly grasping Kirk’s meaning. “Please do not ask this of me. I will not leave you here to face them alone.” 53


“You don’t understand, Spock. I don’t have the will to fight them anymore. The next time they hurt you, I won’t be able to stop myself from telling them everything, just to spare your suffering. It was all I could do not to blurt out everything when they took your eye. Tomorrow, Kor promised to castrate you – among other things – if I don’t give them the frequencies to disarm the defense grid around Earth. I can’t let either of those things happen, Spock, and one of them will if I don’t change the parameters of this sick game of cat and mouse somehow. Please don’t allow me to be put in that position.” “Then I shall release you,” the Vulcan said, his voice uncharacteristically unsteady. “I can’t let you do that. If you kill me, it’ll only make it worse for you. They know there’s nothing they can do to get you to talk, but that doesn’t mean they won’t make you pay for killing me by putting you through the most heinous methods of torture at their disposal. We already know what Kor’s capable of. He’s a prime example of the ruthlessness of his race. He won’t hesitate to commit unspeakable atrocities on you. You’ve suffered enough because of me.” His look softened, became pleading, his fingers closing around the Vulcan’s forearm. “I will no longer be the cause of your pain.” “Jim, as a Vulcan I have the ability to retreat so deeply within my mind that without a healer to 54


guide me back, it will lead to my death. I shall not be left behind to face their wrath.” “Then do it, Spock. Now. Please.” “You misunderstand me, Jim. I will not leave you here alone,” the Vulcan reiterated ardently. “Then kill me first. We knew when we were assigned to this mission that it was probably a one way ticket. If I’m going to die anyway, I’d rather do so by your hand than by theirs. Grant me that one last bit of dignity. I’m asking you.” A beat. “I’m begging you.” Spock was silent for a moment, the shock of that request registering openly on his face. He had never seen Jim back down from a struggle before; never seen him give in, even when the situation seemed hopeless, when the odds were stacked heavily against them. In that instant he finally and truly realized the toll the endless days of emotional torture were taking on his friend. He nodded, acquiescing at last. “Then we shall go together. I shall initiate a mind meld. If your mind is linked to mine at the instant of my death, your body shall perish as well.” Remembering Kirk’s last reaction to his suggestion of the joining of their minds, he eyed his friend with trepidation. “Do you trust me, Jim?” Kirk’s lips lifted into a wistful smile. “Implicitly. Do it. Now,” the captain declared resolutely, tilting his head back slightly and closing his eyes. The fingers 55


that brushed the side of his face were cool, the touch feather-light. He felt the Vulcan’s presence slip effortlessly into his mind. At first, Kirk found himself floating in a cocoon of blackness, Spock’s distinctive, soothing aura all around him. For the first time in weeks he felt safe, secure, protected. Soon the darkness began to shift, color and light gradually filtering in, until Kirk found himself standing in a rolling plain that stretched as far as the eye could see, the wind bending the tender rye grass to its will, the fodder rippling and swaying in time to the gentle breeze. The sun was warm against his cheek, the smell of the rich, dark earth beneath his feet stirring memories of his childhood growing up on a farm in the State known even in his time as Iowa. He looked around him, reveling in the warmth, breathing in deeply the familiar, comforting scents, the images of his carefree youth light-years away from the stark reality that had recently become his life. And yet, he felt as if something was missing. “Spock?” he called out, sensing the Vulcan’s presence. The tall grass before him parted, and the Vulcan stepped out into the light. Not the Spock of the last few weeks – the one covered in sores and bruises, painfully thin and pale, the empty eye socket accosting him like a silent accuser, but the Spock he remembered, dressed in science blue, thin 56


but wiry and fit, an eyebrow on a journey across a low forehead heading for sleek, black bangs, hands clasped firmly behind the straight, undamaged back. He took a step forward, reaching for the Vulcan, amazed to discover his arm was not encased in the gold velour fabric of his command tunic as he’d expected, but swathed in plaid flannel. Kirk’s hands brushed his thighs, the coarse feel of denim grazing his fingertips. He glanced up again at the Vulcan. “Spock. I’m home. How did you manage this?” “We are not really here, Jim,” came the calm, even response, the voice firm, assured, steady as Kirk remembered it. “You did this. Our minds are locked together, and this was the place yours chose; the one that would provide you with a sense of escape, of safety in the face of our current situation.” “This is the farm where I grew up, Spock,” Kirk said, his voice tinged with awe. “I had hoped to be able to bring you here one day. Here, let me show you around.” He swept his arm before them, encompassing all the fields that could be seen with the naked eye. “This is our land. Generations of Kirks have farmed this land, at first with crude, livestock-powered farm implements, later with mechanized vehicles and today with state of the art, automated machines. We were able to cultivate a hundred and fifty acres with only a few workers, less once my brother and I were old enough to pull our weight. This was mom’s baby; what she did to 57


keep her mind occupied, to steer her thoughts away from the dangers her husband, and later her sons, would face in space. My father was a security chief in Starfleet, often on extended deployments aboard his ship, my brother a research scientist, stationed with his family on Deneva.” Spock stood quietly at his side, listening patiently. Kirk turned, a hand shading his eyes from the bright glare of the sun. “The house and outbuildings are this way,” he said, pointing off into the distance and starting off in that direction at a leisurely pace. Spock fell into step beside him. “I haven’t been back here in over a year. Thank you for this – it means a lot to be able to see the place one last time.” Spock acknowledged the words of gratitude with an imperceptible dip of the head. Cresting a slight hill, several structures appeared on the horizon. ”There’s the house. Come on, Spock,” the captain said, quickening his pace. After several minutes of brisk walking, they arrived at a two-story farmhouse. Kirk bounded up the five stairs onto the large, wooden wrap-around porch, headed for the front door. “Let’s go in. I want you to meet my parents, my brother.” Kirk reached for the rustic screen door, but a hand on his forearm stopped him. “Jim. This is not as it appears. It may look like the home of your youth, but within this meld this 58


structure symbolizes the point of no return. As I indicated before we began, we are searching for the place deep within the recesses of my mind from which I shall not be able to escape without assistance. We have found it. This represents our last chance to change our minds, Jim. Once we open this door and pass beyond the threshold, there will be no turning back.” “Our last chance? Don’t you mean your last chance?” “I will not leave you here to face them alone. We do this together, or not at all.” Kirk clapped a hand on Spock’s shoulder. “Then let’s go, my friend. At this point, I see no other alternative. We have run out of options. It seems we can no longer count on being rescued. This is not how I wanted or expected things to go, but at least by doing this we can prevent any intimate knowledge of Starfleet from falling into the hands of the enemy.” The flannel-clad image of Kirk sighed. “We can only hope that the fleet fares better. For us, the battle is over. I’m just glad you’re here with me at the end of all things,” he said, the words of Frodo Baggins from J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic work springing to mind unbidden. Spock eyes expressed the emotions his words could not. “Indeed. Are you ready, my friend?” In answer, Kirk fumbled for Spock’s hand, his 59


fingers closing around the Vulcan’s long, warm ones. He was relieved when he felt an answering pressure. Trading a glance with the Vulcan, he felt his grin deepen as Spock responded with a slight smile of his own. With his free hand, Kirk tugged open the door and the two walked determinedly, hand in hand, into a blinding light and certain oblivion.

60


“M

Epilogue

ister Scott, message coming in from Starfleet,” Uhura announced.

“Put it on screen, lass.” “Yes sir,” she acknowledged, hands flying over the console before her. The image of Admiral Komack materialized on the central viewer. “Mister Scott, our fleet has the enemy on the run, their ships fleeing for the security of Klingon space. Your request to return to Organia in order to search for Captain Kirk and Commander Spock granted. You may disengage from the fleet and proceed there at best possible speed, Commander.” “Thank ye, sir,” the Scotsman said aloud, an “It’s about time,” muttered softly under his breath. “I can’t stress enough the importance of this mission, Mister Scott. We need to determine their fate. Both possess enough vital information about the inner workings of Starfleet that it could be extremely detrimental for us should that 61


information fall into the hands of the enemy. The Enterprise is tasked with finding out if they’re still alive, rescuing them if they are, or ending it for them if rescue is not an option. Do I make myself clear?” “Crystal, sir.” The Scotsman could feel McCoy tense beside him. A quick glance in the surgeon’s direction warned him to hold his tongue. “ETA to Organia at warp five is…” he hesitated slightly, waiting for the navigator to provide the information, “two hours, twenty-six minutes, sir.” “Very good, Mister Scott. Carry on as ordered, and inform us of pertinent developments as they arise.” “Aye sir. Scott out.” =/\=

“Can’t we go any faster, Scotty?” “I’m already pushin’ her at warp six, Doctor.” The Scotsman had ordered the increase in speed over an hour ago. Something had told him time was of the essence. “Given the damage we suffered durin’ that last confrontation wi’ the Klingons, I’d say we should be pleased wi’ that.” “What’s our ETA? Jim and Spock have already been on their own on that planet for over three weeks. If they were captured by the Klingons…” McCoy’s words trailed off. 62


“I understand that, Doctor, but we’ll be no good to them if we blow ourselves apart while en route. We’ll be there in twenty-two minutes. If they’re still there, we’ll get them out, one way or another. I suggest ye head to sickbay, Doctor. Odds are, if the Klingons haven’t transferred them elsewhere, they’ll be in a bad way if they’ve been prisoners for the last three weeks.” “Fine,” McCoy remarked dourly, heading for the turbolift. “Just notify me as soon as we get there.” “Trust me, Doctor – ye’ll be the first to know,” the Scotsman answered. =/\=

“Dropping out of warp in five...four…three…two… one,” Sulu announced, the ship shuddering slightly. “No signs of enemy vessels in orbit, sir,” a voice from the science station announced. “Scanning the captain and Mister Spock’s last known location for human or Vulcan life signs.” Several minutes of tense silence engulfed the bridge as the scanner at the science station hummed with activity. “Found them, sir,” the lieutenant announced, glancing over his shoulder at the command chair, “But the readings are extremely faint.” Scott slapped a hand down on the comm unit on the arm of the command chair. “Scott to transporter room!” 63


“Kyle here; go ahead, sir.” “Tie into the science station’s scanners and prepare to beam the captain and Mister Spock aboard.” He switched channels without waiting for the transporter chief’s reply. “Scott to sickbay.” “Sickbay, Corpsman Reynolds here, sir.” “Get me Doctor McCoy, right away.” “The doctor and a medical team are currently on station in the transporter room sir, awaiting word of the command team’s location.” “We found them, lad. Kyle should be beamin’ them aboard any moment now. Make sure sickbay is ready to handle any medical emergency.” “Doctor McCoy put the entire staff on alert before he left. We’re ready, sir,” the young man assured his acting captain. “Very good lad, they should be there in a few minutes. Bridge out.” Scotty’s next call was to the transporter room. “Kyle, report! What the hell’s happenin’? Do ye have them or not?” =/\=

Relief turned to stunned silence as the two seated 64


forms that had just materialized on the transporter platform toppled over, neither moving. McCoy bounded up the stairs, landing on his knees before them, scanner in his hand, but deep down he already knew. “It’s too late,” he announced softly to the people gathered in the room, “They’re gone.” He heard an anguished cry erupt from Chapel, who fled the room, nothing but silence, a defeated sigh and the shifting of feet on the deck to be heard from Kyle and the two orderlies standing behind the gurneys. At that moment the intercom whistled, but the doctor was oblivious to the conversation that followed. Brushing the tears from his cheeks, McCoy was appalled at how much the two of them had changed in just three short weeks. Even in death Kirk appeared haggard, drawn as if he’d been subjected to horrible mental anguish. There was no doubt as to the fate Spock had suffered; one look at the deep bruising, the purulent sores peeking out through his tattered clothing, the empty eye socket, the too-thin frame told him all he needed to know. Closing his eyes, chin lifted to the heavens, he railed at Starfleet, at the Klingons, at the universe in general for putting them through this, uttering a string of silent curses to God, to fate, to the Admiralty, to whoever was ultimately responsible. Consumed by his grief, he glanced at the bodies again, and it was 65


then that he noticed it – even in death, their two hands were clasped firmly together. A sob escaped his lips as a modicum of relief flooded him. At least they had been together; been there for each other, been able to offer comfort, support and yes, even love, when they were called upon to demonstrate the last full measure of their devotion. =/\=

Lil Black Dog has been a fan of the Original Series for almost forty years and is particularly fond of the Kirk-Spock-McCoy dynamic. Relatively new to the genre, she began her journey with fan fiction three years ago, and had never done creative writing in any form prior to that. So far, she hasn’t looked back and is enjoying this wild ride.

The sequel to this story, The Long Way Home, is the journey of those left behind – both physical and emotional.

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Figure 6: Gains and Losses – Madison Bruffy

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Thanks to Trek United, original home forum to jespah – Uniting the Fans, Looking to the Future.

68


You Make Me Want to Scream Jespah

You make me want to scream. It’s … oh God oh God oh God. The mouth, it’s the mouth. It’s the way you talk, your accent, I listen to it and it’s like music. And you, the way you kiss. The way you laugh. It’s the way you chew your food, even. I cannot stop staring at your mouth, cannot stop concentrating on it. And then, oh God oh God oh God that other thing 69


you do with it. I promised myself I wouldn’t think about it, that I would be dutiful and get a good night’s rest and in the morning I would get up and go to work and all of that, that it would be a normal, boring day and I would be the person who everyone else thinks I am. But I can’t stop thinking about it, about you, about your mouth, and about everything you can do with it, and what that does to me.

Figure 7: The mouth, it’s the mouth

I don’t want to know how you know what to do, how you can be so good at doing what I always, always want you to do. I’m glad you know what you know. But I don’t want to know the specifics, how many other women you may have done that to, how many others went, like me, from being 70


quiet and having fun to screaming like I was starring in, well, in one of those movies. I mean, this is ridiculous. We work, Figure 8: I didn’t mean to wake her we have friends, and we have a life! I am no teenager, and neither are you, yet I can’t wait until I see you, after work is done. We eat dinner, and I watch you eat, it’s so funny. Your fork, your spoon, and I think of noodles and chicken and then my thoughts turn vastly different and all I want to do is clear the dishes off the table or maybe just lie on top of them and I don’t give a damn who hears me. “Keiko?” “Yes?” I say. “Molly’s asleep again. We, uh, you should try to be quieter next time.” “Oh, yeah, I guess so, Miles. I didn’t mean to wake her. I guess I’m not used to her being in the next room.” 71


“Well, it is the first time we did it since we brought her home. She looks so much like you. But, you know, she’s only a tiny, tiny infant. She needs to sleep.” “I know. I need to try to be quieter. Do, uh, do you know about those, those plastic mouth guards, like the kind that people wear when they’re playing hockey?”

“Hockey?”

Figure 9: A Kiss for an old married couple

“Yeah, well, maybe I could have one and bite down on it, er, during.” A pause. “You’d remove it when I, well, when we, when I would want to kiss you, uh, on the mouth, Keiko?” “Of course, Miles. I mean, I know it’ll look a little 72


silly, but I think it could work. And Molly would get enough sleep.” “Right. Hockey, eh? I could also stop doing what I do.” “Don’t you dare!” =/\=

Jespah is a Boston-area fan fiction writer. She has been writing since the 1970s.

73


Shortly after the events of "Afterimage" (DS9), Garak finds himself unexpectedly reminded of an earlier time – a time immediately prior to the end of the first Occupation. Driven to desperation, Gul Dukat had given Garak a once-in-a-lifetime chance for redemption, assigning him to assist in an effort to crush the Bajoran Resistance, cell by cell. What is the connection between this longforgotten memory, and the young Bajoran customer of our plain, simple tailor? Why has Garak forgotten that assignment –and what is its connection to his recent attacks of claustrophobia. Ezri Dax co-stars, seeking to guide the former spy in his unpeeling of the onion – layer by layer....

74


One Night on Terok Nor By Rush Limborg

2375

E

lim Garak was vulnerable – open to whatever attack may come. And he was to be so, voluntarily... for however long it took.

He lay on the couch, wondering how in the name of Cardassia he had agreed to this. Lying down is decidedly not the best position to engage in, when one is not in private. He was not in the Infirmary – there were no restraints, and he was not ill. Still... it was requested of him to be vulnerable. And regardless of the circumstances... that was not something easily acceptable, for him. 75


Figure 10: Aren’t you comfortable, Garak?

And so, he asked, “Counselor, if I may – is there a particular need for me to lie down like this?” He could hear the slight hint of amusement in the voice of Counselor Ezri Dax. “Aren’t you comfortable, Garak?” She is enjoying this, isn’t she? This is her concept of revenge ... for my unfortunate treatment of her a week ago, isn’t it? If so, then it was doubtless deserved. However ... this girl never struck the former agent as particularly sadistic. Not intentionally, anyhow. “Forgive me, Counselor,” Garak replied, “But you 76


must understand ... this suit is designed for comfort when one is upright.” “Uh-huh. Garak, didn’t you design that suit yourself?” “Of course.” “In that case, I’d say it’s your own fault.” Garak frowned, turning his head to her in curiosity. “My fault?” Ezri shrugged, a look of complete innocence on her face. “For not designing your own suit to work for you, whatever you were doing.” Garak smiled. “Perhaps, Counselor, I didn’t see the need to design my public attire as though it could be used for nightwear.” Ezri returned the smile. “I can lie down in my uniform just fine – that doesn’t mean I’ll sleep in it.” “Perhaps. However – my work rarely requires, or even allows me to position myself this way.” “Right. Okay, Garak – what’s the real reason?” “Counselor?” The girl’s smile grew. “You didn’t have a reason not to make it comfortable for lying down. And I know for a fact that that’s it’s not the suit.” 77


“Do you?” Garak felt his own smile grow. “Perhaps you could explain.” “You haven’t been fidgeting – you haven’t adjusted your posture that much, since you lay down. You’re tense – but it’s not your back.” “Indeed? Then, perhaps you were to tell me what my true intentions are ... ?” “That’s what you’re supposed to do.” “Counselor ... why would I have reason to lie?” Ezri shrugged again. “Practice, maybe? If you can fool a trained psychologist, you can fool anyone.” Garak tilted his head, still smiling. “Forgive me, Counselor ... you hardly strike me as a woman of that sort of ego.” “Oh, it’s not ego, Garak. It’s just part of my job to not let my patients off the hook.” “The hook ... ?” Ezri sighed, in what looked like amusement. “Okay: you’re not sitting up until you tell me why you need to sit up.” “With all respect, Miss Dax – what was the purpose of my lying down in the first place?” “What’s wrong with it, Garak?” 78


Garak paused for a moment. Finally ... he replied, “If I may say, Counselor ... you would make a wonderful interrogator.” Ezri blinked, as if the thought momentarily unnerved her. “Come on, Garak – what’s wrong?” Garak moved his hand, resting it on his stomach. “If you insist ... I surrender to your force of will, then.” Ezri nodded slowly. “I insist.” Garak shook his head. “It is ... difficult ... for a former member of the Obsidian Order – to leave himself ... ” “Vulnerable?” “I am lying down, without a means of defending myself – and I am forced to be in this position when I am not alone.” “You’ve been in the Infirmary like this.” “But this is not the Infirmary. There, it is the lesser evil. Here ... ” Garak frowned, “Counselor – do you always demand this of your patients?” Ezri shrugged. “It depends. It’s supposed to relax them ... help them ease up their mental barriers – that sort of thing.” “I see. But I just informed you, that it has the opposite effect for me – ” 79


“Usually, relaxation helps the patent trust me more ... and be more honest with themselves. You, on the other hand ... ” “Ah,” Garak nodded. “So, then, you are intentionally causing discomfort – ” “Well, that wasn’t my plan. But you admitted it, and I saw an opportunity.” “Indeed. May I sit up, now?” Ezri chuckled. “Sure, Garak.” He did – and felt his tension ease ... a smile coming with it. “Thank you, Counselor,” he said. “Now ... perhaps we can continue?” “Well, let’s see ... ” Ezri looked down at her padd, apparently reminding herself of the agenda for the day. At last, she looked at him, and said, “How’s your claustrophobia?” “Oh – I barely notice it, thank you.” Ezri held his gaze, tilting her head. Garak looked around, his smile vanishing. “Is – is there something wrong with the walls of your office? They seem a bit closer than they were a minute or so before now.” His smile returned, as he looked back to the girl. 80


“No. I can assure you, Counselor – it has been under control ... thanks to you.” Ezri smiled, as she lowered her gaze. “Flattery won’t get you anywhere, Garak.” “Flattery? Not at all!” Ezri looked back up, growing serious. “Any more flashes of guilt?” “Guilt, Counselor? Why – I am but a plain, simple tailor! What could I possibly feel guilty over?” Ezri laughed, again. “You know, you’re very charming, Garak – I’ll give you that.” Garak beamed, and inclined his head. “A trait of mine, since my youth.” “I’m sure. But, look – you’re my patient. There’s a rule of confidentiality. If you want to keep something secret – I won’t tell a soul.” “Ah ... ” Garak said, “But you see – that is something no one can truly say with assurance.” “What do you mean?” “Oh, simply that there are many ways to glean information from another – not necessarily involving interrogation.” “Maybe. Now – you knew what I was talking about. Your claustrophobia increased as a subconscious 81


reaction to guilt over having betrayed Cardassia. You’ve been separated from your people – you’re an exile. You told me you were afraid that ... well, if the Dominion were to be defeated, it’ll only mean the annihilation of your people.” “Yes, I recall all of that, Counselor – I lived through it, as you recall.” Ezri smiled. “So you felt alone in the universe – and that loneliness, mixed with helplessness, was personified by intense claustrophobia.” Garak stared at her, unsure of her point. She leaned back in her seat. “You know ... I’ve got a lot of notes, about that. I think I’ll publish something – it’s not every day you discover a new syndrome.” Garak tilted his head. “Discover?” “I’m thinking of calling it ‘Garakosis’.” Garak beamed again. “I’m honored, Counselor!” “Glad to hear it.” “Well, in answer to your question – no, I have no sudden bouts of a heavy conscience. I have accepted the possible consequences of my actions ... and I will continue, regardless.” Ezri nodded slowly ... and she seemed more solemn, now. 82


“Counselor – if I may?” “Hmm?” Garak felt his voice turn solemn, as he spoke, “I must admit, I have been nostalgic for the thought of returning to my beloved Cardassia, from the moment my exile began. However ... I’ve long accepted the unfortunate fact that I may never return to the world I once knew. As it stands ... if such pain is of no consequence, neither should any guilt be. Matters of conscience were never allowed to enter the equation for me, in the Order. I cannot simply lapse into them, in civilian life.” Ezri looked a little sad for him. “Why not?” “Should my abilities be required again ... I’d best not allow them to weaken. As it were, Counselor – they are needed now, by Starfleet Intelligence. Hence ... my conscience must be numbed for them, as it was for the Order.” “Mm-hmm ... ” Ezri muttered, as she consulted her padd again. After a moment, she looked back to him. “It says here that for two years, you had a cranial implant activated, which you used as a narcotic, to cope with the pain of your exile.” “Yes?” “When it malfunctioned, you went through a severe 83


period of withdrawal.” “Of course.” Ezri shook her head. “Garak ... I’d call the addiction – any addiction – a weakening of your abilities.” “Counselor ... I admit, I found my exile to be initially ... quite painful. However, as Dr. Bashir will attest, I recovered quite gracefully.” Ezri snorted. “Right ... .” “I assure you, Counselor ... once the implant was removed; I came to discover I possessed no need for it. It was a minor inconvenience, nothing more.” “Really? So ... why did you turn it on, in the first place?” “As I said, my initial years in exile were most unpleasant – particularly under Gul Dukat.” “Unpleasant?” “He could be quite ... demanding.” Ezri pursed her lip for a moment. “From what I’ve heard, the implant was supposed to help an agent withstand ... torture. I don’t think – ” “As I said, Counselor ... Gul Dukat could be quite ... demanding.” Ezri leaned forward. “Did ... did he torture you?” 84


“Not in the direct sense, no.” “Direct sense ... ?” Garak smiled. “Counselor ... I hardly think you’re unaware of the fact that the gul and I were ... never on the most ideal of terms.” “So he went out of his way to make life hard for you.” “Naturally.” “And that caused you to turn to a narcotic?” “Counselor ... agents of the Order were subjected to immense training, in regards to discipline. I would hardly think myself so pathetic as to find solace in a mere drug, simply because my employer was difficult.” “But you did.” “I did ... but Counselor, don’t assume it was merely due to Dukat’s treatment of me.” Ezri pulled up her seat, so that she sat right near the couch. As a rule, Cardassians have a greater sensitivity than most races to the presence of other beings ... particularly when they are quite close. Garak had often wondered whether that had been a contributing factor to his claustrophobia. As it stood ... the counselor’s proximity to him was not 85


particularly unnerving. However ... it was clear she was trying to provoke some sort of reaction. “Garak,” she said, in a soft voice, “What was it?” Garak thought for a moment. Finally, he smiled, and shrugged. “A great deal of things, Counselor. I would hardly ascribe one particular cause to my ... torment.” Ezri reached over, and took his arm, in a gentle grasp. “Garak ... you can tell me. Tell me everything ... .” Garak felt his smile grow. For a non-Cardassian, this girl was quite cunning ... using an “innocent” personality to her advantage – conveying an image of trustworthiness. “As I said, Counselor,” he said, “You are quite an interrogator. I could easily picture a session where you smile gently at the suspect, hold his hand ... speak softly to him – and in little time, he will submit to your every whim.” “Garak,” Ezri’s gaze hardened with her tone, “I’m not joking.” “Neither am I.” “This is important, Mister. We need to make sure you won’t do something like that, again. We need to know the limits of what you can handle. Obviously, something caused you to break. Whether it was the 86


pressure of a lot of different things, or one specific event that made you just ... give up on yourself – we have to find out.” Garak chuckled silently ... and laid his free hand on hers, where she held his arm. “And I feel confident we will, Counselor,” he said. “In time. As of this moment, however – I doubt I could help you on that ... or you, me.” Ezri sighed ... and let him go. “Fine ... fair enough.” Garak frowned. “We’re done, Counselor?” “For today. See you tomorrow.” Garak rose to his feet, and nodded, his smile returning. “I look forward to it, Miss Dax.” Ezri looked up at him, and returned the smile ... but to Garak, she clearly looked quite deep in thought. Interesting ... how she is still trying to understand me. When I told her once that it was impossible ... she responded with, “I’d like to try.” Either she didn’t believe me – or she simply enjoys the challenge of a complicated soul like mine. It was probably the latter. Such was something Garak respected ... although her efforts probably would leave her with nothing. “Good day, Miss Dax,” Garak said. And he turned, and left the counselor’s office. 87


=/\=

Tailoring had long since been a means of relaxation for Elim Garak. As he had told the good counselor Dax, before his ... most unfortunate outburst ... throwing himself into this work – trivial though it was, in the grand scheme of events – tended to be sufficient to distract him from whatever pressures affected him. Of course ... he had no particular need for distraction, as of now. He was not so sensitive that a session with Counselor Dax would, as humans would say, “send him over the edge”. Not any longer, as it were. As of now, he was at last attending to those costumes Dr. Bashir and Chief O’Brien insisted on wearing to the holosuite – what was it, again? The “Alamo”? At any rate, Garak did not understand in the slightest their fascination with the so-called “honorable defeat” the program was said to entail. Honorable or not, a defeat was a defeat. Surely better to bide one’s time – live to fight another day – then to pay for one’s stubbornness with one’s life ... dying for no purpose whatsoever. Defense? Gather your forces until you can strike in a strategic manner! Honor? What good will that do, when you are dead? Renown by your people? Surely your senseless death merely costs them of what they truly require of you – your service! 88


Humans can be most bewildering ... . “Mr. Garak?” Garak looked up with his “customer service” smile. “Ah – Plain, Simple, Garak will do. How can I be of service?” The young man – a Bajoran, of apparently modest means, if his clothing was any indication – returned the smile. He was carrying a set of trousers. “Well – I’ve been told you could fix ... ?” “Ah, yes – say no more!” Garak’s smile grew. “I am always delighted to be given an assignment requiring my ... considerable abilities.” And so it stands. Amid an all-to-necessary betrayal of my own people ... I remain so low, as to mend the region of clothing with which my clients sit. All in all, quite tolerable, considering my alternatives. He took the trousers, and looked over the split seam. And it was quite a split! Garak looked at the client in amusement. “If I may ask ... what in Oralius’s name possessed you to impose damage like this?” Indeed. Now I’m invoking that forbidden religion. Am I reveling in my rebellion, now? The man chuckled nervously ... as if embarrassed by a memory. “A ... long story.” 89


“I see!” Garak nodded. “Well – this shouldn’t take too long. I have an order or two to finish, first – but by the end of today, I should have this mended. Perhaps if I were to have your name ... ?” “Oh – my name’s Taren Mal.” Garak felt himself internally freeze. Fortunately, he was not so careless as to allow it to show externally. “Taren” ... I know that name ... He kept his smile. “Well, Mr. Taren ... when I finish your order – I’ll contact you. Expect a message ... tomorrow morning, at the latest.” “Oh – of course! How much?” “Oh, a seam mend – not too expensive; standard rate should suffice.” The man nodded. “Thank you, Mr. Garak – ” Garak raised a finger, “Ah-ah-ah! Plain, Simple, Garak ....” The man nodded, “Yes – Garak. Thank you ... .” Garak nodded, beaming. “I am glad to be of service.” As the youth left ... Garak returned to his work, his mind filled with a single train of thought: Where had he heard that name, before ... ? “Taren” ... doubtless someone who made an 90


impression on me. Not him, per se – a parent, perhaps ... ? “Taren” ... “Taren” ... =/\= 2368

Garak stood in the Prefect’s Office on Terok Nor, staring into the face of Gul Skrain Dukat. “You sent for me, Gul?” he asked ... sure to provide a tone of amusement, not the fear or even the bitterness his enemy – and, due to locale, superior – would prefer. Dukat smiled, steepling his fingers. “Garak ... it’s been too long.” “Too long?” Garak asked, frowning. “Forgive me, Gul ... but if you truly missed my company, I’ve only been a com line away. Understand, I would have enjoyed the opportunity to converse with ... such a noted representative of our people – ” “Garak, Garak, Garak ... ” Dukat shook his head, “One could swear – your lies are becoming increasingly pathetic. As it were, it’s amusing how well your ... little business is faring, considering its owner.” “Well – we may trade insults at another time. In the meantime – ” 91


Dukat’s tone hardened. “Know your place, tailor. You are on my station ... and I will determine ‘when’ it is time for ‘what’.” Garak nodded, with a faint smile. So ... still peeved at your inability to kill me, Skrain? “Of course,” he said. “Forgive me, Gul. However ... I am still bewildered at your motives for summoning me.” Dukat chuckled. “Well, now ... isn’t this rewarding? I’ve succeeded in bewildering a member of the Obsidian Order? Oh,” he added with a dismissive gesture, “Forgive me, Garak. Former member ....” Garak nodded, keeping the smile. He knew all too well ... Dukat’s agenda, from the moment Garak had arrived, had been to gain a simple pleasure through socially tormenting him. (Personal vengeance – a petty motive that Garak, for one, considered himself far too ... mature ... to fall prey to – for the all-tootimely demise of one former Chief Justice, Procal Dukat ....) Garak, naturally, had seen through this childish intent immediately ... and therefore had made it a point to throw himself into his new career (station tailor – how quaint), and to actually enjoy it. Such, he knew, would infuriate Dukat ... although Garak also knew that he would probably never see such expressed externally. 92


But now Dukat grew serious, and said, “The reason I’ve called you here, Garak ... is quite simple: I want you to do something for me.” Indeed? I suppose humiliate myself as your jester, for your officers. If such is the case, Dukat ... you had best prepare yourself for a considerable helping ... of satire ... . Garak threw his head back a bit, letting his amusement show. “You need my help, Dukat?” Dukat kept his composure, “Much as it pains me ... yes.” Garak thought for a moment, and replied, “I would imagine, this is in a ... somewhat more significant role than as a simple tailor. Am I correct?” Dukat seemed to stiffen in his seat. But he nodded. “You are.” Garak allowed his smile to grow. “In that case, Gul ... what can I do for you?” Dukat stared at him for a time, in silence. Finally ... he rose to his feet, and a faint smile of his own appeared. “An interrogation,” he said. =/\= 2375

93


Figure 11: Garak looked up from mending

“Garak?” Garak looked up from mending the Bajoran’s trousers ... to see a certain lovely young counselor standing in the doorway, hands casually clasped behind her back. He smiled. “Counselor Dax! I don’t suppose you’d have something for me to mend ... have you?” Ezri smiled, and shook her head. “No ... not today.” Garak frowned. “Then ... did you remember something we – neglected to discuss, earlier?” Ezri shrugged, as she stepped forward. “Not really. I just got off duty, and ... I guess I wanted to see how you’re doing.” 94


“Really?” Garak asked, forcing mild astonishment. Ezri tilted her head, looking amused as she stopped a few steps away. “Is it that annoying, Garak?” Garak threw his head back. “Annoying, Counselor? No, not at – ” Ezri laughed. “Don’t worry, Garak – I’m not offended. If I don’t annoy my patients that much, I’m not really doing my job.” Garak smiled. “Counselor ... I can assure you, you’ve been a great help to me. Oralius forbid I allow discomfort to prevent you from continuing to be.” Ezri nodded thoughtfully, peering deep into his eyes. “Oralius?” Garak blinked. Did I say it, again? By Cardassia’s sun – what is happening to me? He found himself stiffening. “A ... mistake, Counselor. Pay it no – ” “Now that’s very interesting,” Ezri said. “You know, Garak, my profession has a term for ‘mistakes’ like that.” Garak frowned. “Oh?” “A ‘Freudian slip’. Basically, it’s whenever you accidentally come out and say what’s on your subconscious mind. It’s often something you 95


weren’t even aware you were thinking about.” Garak felt his smile return. “Well! Are you suggesting I’m ... subconsciously a follower of the Oralian Way?” Ezri narrowed her eyes, still smiling. “I don’t know. I didn’t say it – you did.” Garak raised his hand. “So ... by my suggesting it – it’s possible that I am – ‘subconsciously’, is that the term? – ” Ezri nodded. “– subconsciously admitting to such?” Ezri shrugged. “You could be. It all depends on what we can dig up.” “Dig up, you say? About ... me?” Ezri looked off for a moment. “Maybe ... . Are you up for it?” “Well, that depends. Unlike you, Counselor – I am not off duty.” “Oh – don’t worry; we can do it right here, right now. In fact ... ” she gave a nervous chuckle, “I’m – pretty sure that’s what we’ve been doing.” Garak smiled. “I suppose.” “So!” Ezri said, “Do you, by any chance, have a 96


history with the ... Oralian Way?” “One might say that ... although, it would be quite a stretch of reasoning.” “Go on ... .”

Figure 12: My … uncle was a follower

Garak looked off to think for a moment, and continued, “My ... uncle was a follower of the Way.” Ezri frowned. “Your uncle?” “His name was Tolan Garak. In fact, Counselor,” Garak chuckled, “As a child, I’d been under the admittedly mistaken impression that he was my father.” 97


Ezri tilted her head. “When did you find out he wasn’t?” “On his deathbed – but ... ” Garak tilted his own head, “That’s – a different story entirely. The point, I suppose, is that – though my true father was certainly a force in my upbringing – Tolan was ... quite influential, as well.” Ezri frowned. “Wasn’t the Oralian Way forbidden?” “It is. Naturally, my uncle was sure to be secretive about such things. However ... he had made it a point to encourage my ... ” Ezri smiled – not in amusement, but in something more accepting, and sympathetic, “ ... your spiritual growth?” Garak shrugged. “One might call it that.” “But I take it, nothing came of that.” “Not particularly. However ... I admit, I’ve always been – quite amused at the reasoning behind the ban of the Way. As far as I’m concerned ... it is hardly a threat to the Cardassian way of life ... .” He looked off ... and he felt his face harden. “Not as great a threat as the Dominion, in any case,” he said. He felt Ezri place a hand on his arm again. Despite himself, he found he welcomed it. Garak turned to the girl, and smiled. “I suppose the 98


answer to our question is: the ‘slip’ is my inner child coming out, with my uncle’s teachings intact ... wouldn’t you say?” Ezri returned the smile. “Maybe. To be honest, Garak ... I think a case could be made that, if that’s the case, it’s a good sign.” “Oh? And what would it signify?” Ezri shrugged. “Basically, that you’re trying to come to a new acceptance of yourself – who and what you really are, in your heart. Self-awareness, if you will.” Garak nodded slowly, his smile fading as he pondered this. “Indeed. Perhaps this was initiated by my acceptance of the ... pain over what might be considered ... ” “... betrayal of your people,” Ezri nodded. “I think that’s a good argument. Once you admitted it to yourself – you opened a doorway into more selfreflection.” She shrugged. “All things considered ... we’re making progress, after all!” Garak felt his smile return. “Perhaps, Counselor.” Ezri frowned. “But ... I have to warn you, Garak.” Garak blinked, looking at her in amusement. “Warn me? Is there a danger, Miss Dax?” “Not ... exactly – just be careful.” Ezri paused for a 99


moment, and went on, “If you’re going to go down that road, Garak ... it means you’re going to have to face a lot of memories – memories you’ve been able to handle before now ... but only because you’ve been able to detach yourself from them, emotionally.” “Due to ... my lack of self-reflection.” “Exactly. And, in some cases,” Ezri’s gaze fell, “Your ... addictions.” “Naturally. Of course, I won’t be able to seek that sort of refuge.” Ezri met his gaze. “No, you won’t. Look – I’m not saying you won’t be able to cope with those memories now ... but you’re going to face them with new eyes – emotions that you suppressed with your training. The trouble is ... you training won’t be able to help you, this time.” “And – what will, if I may ask?” “Acceptance, Garak. And to be honest – I’m supposed to help you, with that.” Garak nodded. “Thank you, Counselor. I will ... heed your warnings.” Ezri nodded, looking satisfied. Garak resumed his mending of the trousers. He heard – and felt – Ezri take another step to him. 100


“Finishing an order?” “Yes – I ... was approached by a certain young man – a Bajoran, named Taren Mal. As you can see,” he showed her, “The ... seams were quite ... undone.” Ezri’s eyes widened. “What was he doing with them?” “He said it was, and I quote, ‘a long story’. He seemed quite embarrassed.” Garak smiled at her. “Perhaps a potential client for you, Miss Dax.” Ezri chuckled. “I doubt it. Now ... why is his name important?” Garak frowned. “I beg your pardon, Counselor?” Ezri titled her head, peering at him again. “You made it a point to say his name. Is it important to you, for some reason?” Garak shrugged. “It – seemed familiar, somehow. His family name, anyway. I ... suppose I’ve been reflecting on it, for the past hour or so ... .” Ezri nodded. “Have you come up with anything?” Garak smiled. “When I do ... I will let you know.” Ezri nodded again, in apparent acceptance ... but her eyes held a firm look which seemed to say, Make sure you do. She left ... and Garak returned to his work. 101


=/\= 2368

Garak was not one to burst out laughing. He was far too controlled for that. A smile ... a silent chuckle – that was enough. Such was his response to Dukat’s “assignment”. Dukat stiffened again ... and his smile looked a bit forced. “Do you find something amusing, Garak?” “Oh, not at all. Simply ... can’t your own subordinates interrogate for you? Why come to me – the one Cardassian on this station whom you know, with ever fiber in your being, that you can’t trust to serve your agenda?” “My dear Garak,” Dukat replied ... somehow managing to remain calm, “It has little to do with trust. If that were it ... I would sooner turn to a comfort woman to do this for me.” “Well, now, wouldn’t that prove interesting.” “The point, Garak,” Dukat said – clearly reaching the limits of his patience, “Is that I cannot at this time access the resources of the Obsidian Order.” “But – as you so graciously pointed out – I am no longer with the Order.” “That is precisely my point.” Dukat leaned forward, 102


pressing hands down on the table, as he peered into Garak’s eyes. “Garak ... perhaps you don’t understand the situation. I do not want the Order interfering in my affairs, at this particular time.” “Ah!” Garak nodded. “Having a bout of wounded pride, are we? Does this ... suspect I am to interrogate – does the revelation of its existence run the risk of insulting you, in some way?” “I suggest you remember your place, Garak!” “I suggest you remember yours, Dukat,” Garak replied, his elation at this verbal battle increasing by the moment. “You forget, sir, that matters of intelligence within the Empire are the jurisdiction of the Order. Regardless of any embarrassment you might face upon ... admitting a defeat – ” “Garak – let me explain it to you in this way: due to the increased frequency of attacks conducted by that infernal Resistance – ” the last word he spat out like a curse – “The Central Command is beginning to give very serious thought to abandoning Bajor – completely.” Well, now ... this was most interesting. Garak tilted his head. “Abandon it?” “Yes.” “At the order of the Detapa Council, I take it?” “Command feels it is only a matter of time. We 103


must find a way to crush the Resistance – strike a killing blow to one cell after another. Only then can we prove that we can afford to remain.” Garak nodded slowly. So ... here it was. “And you believe this ... suspect – may hold the key to such?” “He may. He is a high-ranking member of one of the more prominent cells. Were we to break him – on our own, without crawling on our knees to the Order – and crush the cell, it would send a message to Command, and the infernal Council, that we can remain – and that we must gain more support, to crush this rebellion once and for all.” Dukat tilted his head, his eyes blazing. “Does that satisfy you ... Garak?” Garak stared at him, saying nothing. At last ... he brought up both his hands – and applauded, slowly and pointedly. “Well said, Gul Dukat!” he said. “You may well become a credit to your rank, sooner or later. So, as far as you are concerned, you want me to give you your salvation: you have the efficiency of the Order, in me ... without asking for the Order, itself. Inspired, and brilliant – assuming, of course ... that I would have an incentive to accept your offer.” Dukat’s teeth clenched. “Garak – ” “Oh, come now, Dukat – we’ve established you 104


can’t kill me; Tain himself saw to that. It seems to me that you need my services, far more than I need your assignment. What reason do I have to accept?” At this ... Dukat actually relaxed. He sat back down in his seat, and said, “I was hoping you would ask.” Garak nodded. “Well?” “Garak ... as you’ve said, I am going to you because you are efficient. You are the closest to a guarantee that this man will be broken. You will be able to do ... what the methods at my disposal proved unable to do.” “Is there a point to this flattery, Dukat?” “Only this, Garak,” Dukat said, leaning forward. “If you do this for me – if you break this man, and bring me the information necessary to destroy his cell ... I will promote you from your position of tailor – and appoint you as my chief of intelligence on Terok Nor.” Garak chuckled. “You – appoint me – as your chief of intelligence?” “Yes ... ironic, isn’t it? Amazing, what necessity can force one to do. In this case ... I see myself forced to abandon our past ... animosity. Unfortunate – but should this succeed, we certainly will need your services again – and again, until we find and crush every last cell in the Resistance.” 105


“Forgive me, Dukat,” Garak replied, “But I would imagine a great many individuals who would not take kindly to my being appointed to such a high position.” “You won’t be ... officially. Officially, you will remain as ‘station tailor’. However – ” Dukat’s lip tightened, “You may take solace in the fact that, from this point forward, it would only be a cover ... for your true position under me.” Dukat leaned back in his seat, folding his hands across his chest. “Do we have a deal, Garak?” Garak stared at him for a time. This was no trick – it smacked too much of desperation and revulsion on Dukat’s part. And as it stood ... Garak had nothing to lose. His smile grew. “Where is this terrorist, now?” =/\= 2375

Garak chuckled in triumph, as the last thread was put into place. The seam was sealed. Taren’s trousers were intact. Now, to send him the fortunate news. He went to his console, and opened a link to the man’s quarters. “Taren Mal, this is Garak – your tailor.” 106


The young man’s face appeared on the screen. “This is Taren. Are the pants ready?” Garak nodded, beaming. “As I said ... it wouldn’t take a day!” “Thank you. I ... won’t be able to pick it up, tonight. Could – you hold it for me, and I’ll pick it up in the morning?” “Why – of course! I will see you then.” “Thank you.” The line closed. Garak carried the trousers to the back ... as the nagging feeling occurred to him, again. Taren ... who are you? I pride myself on my memory – it’s frustrating not to remember: where have I heard your name...? When the day was over, Garak returned to his quarters, the question still unanswered. What was it she said: “If you’re going to go down that road, Garak ... it means you’re going to have to face a lot of memories – memories you’ve been able to handle before now ... but only because you’ve been able to detach yourself from them, emotionally ... . “I’m not saying you won’t be able to cope with those memories now ... but you’re going to face them with new eyes – emotions that you 107


suppressed with your training. The trouble is ... your training won’t be able to help you, this time.” As he entered his rooms, he wondered. Could it be the name that is traumatic? A Bajoran name ... a Bajoran who had such an effect on me. Someone I assassinated, perhaps ... ? But why would I wish to suppress that? The name – perhaps someone I developed a bond with, of some sort? No ... a bond with a Bajoran? Of course not – not during my days in the Order. But perhaps ... perhaps I assassinated an innocent man, with that name? Taren ... Taren ... No – I don’t recall that name – at least not from my years as an operative. A Bajoran ... perhaps in my years on Terok Nor? Under Dukat – Yes ... yes, that must be it! But a Bajoran ... did they ever make use of my shop? A collaborator, then? Taren ... a collaborator named Taren? No – as the humans would say, it fails to ring a bell. Perhaps ... Hmm. Garak sat down at the console in his quarters. Some of his time in exile was a blur – 108


probably due to the narcotic effect of that cranial implant. The implant ... the good counselor had wondered about what had caused him to break, and to use it. To be frank ... Garak had often wondered, too. He had, after all, taken a kind of pleasure in failing to provide Dukat with the satisfaction of a broken soul. Garak had made it a point to enjoy his work as a tailor – a challenge! But what had happened? Oh, come now: I know full well. I came to realize that the “challenge” would be eternal – that my exile would not end, if Dukat would have anything to say about it. And the thought of never being able to return to my home ... it became too much for me. But ... but what had brought about that realization? His memories, his recollections of what had brought him to that point ... a blur. No – perhaps I could simply look this man up. Who is Taren Mal? Who were the members of his family? Perhaps I could remember more, were I to see a face ... He spoke up, “Computer ... could you access the record behind a name, for me?” “Please state name of subject.” “Taren Mal ... a Bajoran.” 109


“Stand by.” After a moment, the computer responded, “Records found: Taren Mal. Bajoran national, born in Federation Standard Year 2352, on stardate – ” “Oh, don’t bother me with stardates – just state the names of his ... his immediate family.” “Mother: Taren Lisem. Father: Taren Korel. Sister – ” “Hold.” Garak leaned forward, staring at the name on the screen. “The father – access his records.” “Stand by ... .” The computer paused for a moment – and a new face appeared on the screen ... a face Garak knew. “Taren Korel: Bajoran national, born in Federation Standard year 2325. Joined the Bajoran Resistance in the year 2341, enlisting in the Eldon Resistance Cell. Highly regarded by leader Eldon Ralin, and became successor to leadership of the cell upon the death of Eldon in battle against a Cardassian force, in the year 2359. Led many successful campaigns against the Cardassians, including the liberation of the labor camp at – ” “Yes, well and good – what was his fate?” “Reported to have been killed while attempting to evade capture by Cardassians in the year 2368.” Garak nodded. “Thank you, Computer. That is all.” 110


As the screen turned black, Garak sat still ... feeling nothing. So ... I did recognize a face, after all ... . =/\= 2368

“His name is Taren Korel. He led one of the older – and more effective – cells in the Resistance ... until his alleged ‘death’ at our hands.” Garak nodded at the glinn. “I see. I take it he’s proven most ... resistant to your normal forms of interrogation.” “That is correct.” As they walked down the dark hall, to a room isolated from the rest of the station’s activities, the glinn continued, “He seems to have developed a most ... notable level of internal strength. Many of my colleagues have suggested he cannot be broken.” Garak stopped, turning to the glinn with a smile. “Indeed?” The glinn hesitated, as if remembering who he was talking to. “Of course ... ” “Yes ... of course, your colleagues have never witnessed the Obsidian Order, when they glean information,” Garak said dryly. “Naturally ... they’d 111


be ignorant.” “Yes, sir.” Garak resolved not to allow the newfound respect being shown to him to go to his head. “However, they may be somewhat justified in thinking so – to an extent. How old is the man?” “At least sixty years, sir.” “I see ... . Then, as he has doubtless fought Cardassians all his life ... he certainly must have developed the sort of bitterness which would not allow him to break easily – regardless of ...” Garak chuckled inside, “... the amount of brute force imposed upon him by military methods.” “Yes, sir. Shall we go inside?” “Is all the equipment ready?” “Yes, sir – as you requested.” “Very good. Now ... ” Garak raised a finger, “One more thing: This terrorist – does he have any family?” “He has one son and one daughter.” “I see. They’re both accounted for, I imagine?” “Of course.” “And the wife?” 112


“She died in a retaliatory strike by our forces.” “Oh, that is excellent,” Garak said, as he resumed his walk. “Hardly left him much to lose, did we?” “He still has the children, sir.” “Yes, indeed he does,” Garak sighed. “Well, we’ll have to make do ... .” They arrived at the entrance of the room. The glinn pressed the controls on the wall’s panel ... and the door opened. The Bajoran was sitting on a chair ... his legs and torso strapped to it. His hands were free – as Garak had requested. He was an older man – his hair greying, his face filled with lines. Still, there was a certain strength to his features ... and contemptuous determination in the set of his jaw. Quite a respectable fellow. I can see why he would be a leader of his own cell. Garak turned to the glinn. “You and the guards must wait outside. Understand ... our methods are not for the observation – or the mimicry – of the military.” The glinn nodded, and gestured to the two guards standing on either side of the Bajoran. All left – the door rolled shut ... and Garak and his new 113


assignment were alone. Garak sat down in a chair of his own, a small table between him and the Bajoran. He observed the other man ... and consulted his tricorder. Yes ... all was ready. He reached down to the floor ... and pulled up a bottle of kanar, and two glasses. “Would you care for a drink, sir?” he said. The terrorist didn’t respond. “As you wish,” Garak said, as he poured himself a cup. He took a sip ... and smiled. “Quite an excellent vintage,” he said, “Should you change your mind ... I highly recommend it.” He returned his gaze to the Bajoran ... and leaned forward, a smile on his face, as he set the drink down. “Do you know who I am, Taren Korel?” The terrorist stared at him for a long time, and shook his head. “No ... .” “I am your Khost Amojan – the Dark Lord of the fire caves,” Garak replied, internally chuckling at his own cleverness. The man stared blankly, saying nothing. Garak shrugged. “They say that you never see evil personified so much, as when you look into the eyes of the man who holds the rest of your life 114


within his grasp ... . Wouldn’t you agree?” Still nothing. “Well – if you wish to remain silent, that is your choice. I sincerely hope you will not regret it. My name is Elim Garak, of the Obsidian Order. I am sure; as you are old enough to have fought in the Resistance for some time ... you have at least heard of us?” The man nodded. “I’ve heard of the Order, yes.” “Good. Then you know that we are relentless and without mercy, in our quests for what we want. Thus – at the risk of sounding redundant ... kindly answer my questions with nothing less than complete accuracy – if you please ... ?” The man chortled. Garak tilted his head, smiling. “You find my words amusing?” The man shook his head, saying nothing. “Well ... ” Garak said, as he pressed a control on his tricorder. The man let out a gasp – and pressed his lips together, as if desperate not to allow any noise to escape. Garak pressed the control again ... and the man let out another gasp, panting for breath ... but he 115


finally relaxed, as the burst of pain had been shut off. “Perhaps you would find that amusing,” Garak said. “Frankly, I have never understood methods involving beatings, or ... elaborate combinations. Neither has the Order – we prefer simplicity. You see ... with simplicity, comes efficiency. What you’ve just encountered was an electromagnetic pulse sent directly to one of the more sensitive pain receptors in your body. I have a control here for each such receptor – and in case you’re wondering ... yes, I do know them all.” The man clenched his teeth, his eyes blazing. “Oh, that’s good ... from what I’ve been told, you have made it a point to say nothing to your previous interrogators – give no expression, no reaction whatsoever. You’re quite strong, Taren – your will, as well as your body. Nonetheless ... there are things that even the strongest will cannot possibly endure. And I can assure you, Taren: what you have just experienced ... is the least painful setting.” Garak pressed the control. The terrorist clenched his teeth, and a grunt escaped. Garak turned off the pulse. “As you could feel, that was in a different place. This will be in random sequence, so you will have no defense against it. And of course ... that was more painful than the 116


first.” The Bajoran said nothing. “Frankly ... we’ve heard of the self-righteousness of so many intellectuals – in the Federation, mostly, but there are those on Cardassia who say it, too. Their mantra is that interrogations centering on causing pain – ‘torture’, if you will – has ... has never been an effective means of gaining information.” Garak chuckled. “Naturally ... my experience tells me otherwise. You see, the key is not the amount of torment ... so much as its proper application. You apply it, so that the barriers of the mind – including creativity ... or ‘lying’, if you will – all break down ... until the information the subject possesses is all he has left. Understand – creativity requires mental energy, either to lie, or to merely resist. Once a will is drained, so is one’s creativity.” The Bajoran bit his lip. “Now,” Garak said, “You will kindly tell me ... the identities of all the members of your cell. You will tell me your cell’s hideaway locations, their attack strategies ... ” The man spat. It missed. Garak didn’t bat an eye. “Charming ... and noble. I admire your resolve, Taren. However, it is also 117


pointless. Furthermore ... you are not the only one whose well-being you should be concerned about.” No reply. “You see ... I don’t think a brilliant tactical mind such as yourself would be unaware of the weakness you possess. Yes, your wife has been killed – by Cardassians, which would naturally fuel your rage toward your ... Occupiers, as you’d call us. However, you committed a great tactical error, good sir – an error which you committed while fighting in the Resistance. Namely ... you gave your wife sufficient nights of passion, to culminate in her bearing for you a son and a daughter.” The Bajoran’s face gave no reaction ... but Garak could see the rage in his eyes, as the man understood all too well. Garak shrugged. “Regardless of your feelings for her – something I can imagine, family being absolutely central to Cardassian culture – still, that was a great mistake. Otherwise, with your wife’s passing, you would have had nothing to lose in your resisting to the bitter end. As it stands ... we know who and where your offspring are. So, perhaps your heroic silence becomes less noble, now ... wouldn’t you say?” “You’re lying!” the man shot back. Garak smiled. “Am I?” 118


He pressed the control – and the man grunted again, but it was clearly becoming more difficult to suppress the scream. Garak let it run for a moment longer ... and pressed another control. A second pulse shot out ... and thus, the pain was doubled. The man tightened the clench of his teeth ... and his grunts became louder. I must give him credit ... most of my victims would have been weeping for mercy, by now. At last ... Garak turned it off. “Whether you believe me or not, is of minor importance,” he said. “What is important is whether I believe you ... and what you tell me.” The Bajoran shook his head, breathing heavily. “I ... I knew the risks, all right? My children are old enough – they know the risks. They don’t want you here – I don’t want you here. They’re ... they want to fight, too. They want to fight every one of you, like I do. So, if you send your spoonheads to kill them, they’ll take it. They ... they understand. They’d rather fight than live under spoonheads, all right?” Garak chuckled silently, nodding. “A noble sentiment, Bajoran. However ... saying you can live with your children’s death is one thing. It is quite another ... to actually undergo such a tragedy.” 119


The man smiled, with no small amount of effort. “You think I can’t take it?” Garak sighed in amusement, with a smile. “If I may,” he said, “It’s quite ironic you should accuse me of lying. Cardassians are absolutely superb in the skill of deception – the best in the galaxy, if I say so myself. In fact ... my mentor, the great Tain, is renowned among the Order as the galactic champion of Cardassian liars – and so, of course, he is now our leader. From studying under him ... I learned the art of the pantomime. Do you know what that is?” The Bajoran frowned, and shook his head. “Well ... allow me to explain: regardless of race, there are seventeen different things a man can do when he lies, to give himself away. A man has seventeen ... ‘pantomimes’, if you will. A woman has twenty, in fact – you should consider yourself fortunate that it is you we have, and not your wife. Anyhow ... if you know these ‘tells’, like you know your own face – they become lie detectors of the highest degree. Thus, what we have is what humans refer to as a little game of ‘show and tell’. You don’t intend to show me anything, but ... you tell me everything. As is stands, the more pain you experience, the more pantomimes your face will give away. Now ... kindly tell me what you know, before we cause damage which ... physically or socially, you will not recover from.” 120


“I told you ... Spoonhead ... you can do what you want – ” “Strong words, Taren ... ” Garak said – as he pressed the control. He set it for three bursts ... adding to one another, in sequence. The man struggled to maintain control, with everything he was ... but at last, it clearly became too much for him. The scream escaped his mouth – more one of frustration than despair. Garak shut it off – and the man slumped, weakened. “... but to be frank,” he continued, “You’re protesting too much. You were far more impressive before ... when you remained silent. The fact that you’re so expressive now, by its very nature, indicates that your mental barriers have been weakened. I’m getting close,” Garak leaned forward, “Quite close, Taren.” The terrorist’s hand rose a bit. “A ... a moment ... please ... .” Garak spread out his hands. “We’re in no particular hurry.” The man gathered himself ... and at last, he straightened up. He asked, “Could ... could I have some of that kanar?” Garak smiled. Things were proceeding as planned. Yes ... it would dull the pain the man already felt ... 121


however; it would also loosen his lips, a good deal. Garak had taken a counteracting agent, so it would not loosen his own ... but this Bajoran had no such luxury. “Of course,” he said, as he poured some into the other glass. He pushed it to the Bajoran’s side of the table. The man took it ... and drank, without a break. When he finished, the man set the glass down. He looked at Garak ... and gave a light smile. “So ... you’re different from most spoonheads I’ve met.” Garak chuckled. “Indeed ... I am not under the Central Command. The Order prides itself on being more ... clean than the military. We’re somewhat more civil, and less brutal.” “Yeah, I gathered that. You know ... Spoonhead ... how much do you know about history?” Garak shrugged. “Cardassian, or Bajoran?” “Cardassian.” “Oh, I know my share of history. The Hebitians ... the rise of the Union ... the formation of the Empire ... ” Garak grinned. “You know ... I find it most fascinating: the ancient Bajorans had a rich culture. The Hebitians did, as well. Now ... Cardassians rule an empire. And the Bajorans? They are one of our many subjects.” 122


“Yeah, well ... maybe spoonheads are just more aggressive.” Garak snorted. “It would seem so.” “Yeah – that’s actually what I’m getting at. See ... I read a lot of stuff about ancient cultures – pretty fascinating.” “Oh? Do you have time to research, between killings of ... ‘spoonheads’?” “No, not really ... I got less time to do all that, since I joined the Resistance. But anyway ... something you probably don’t know about Cardassian history.” Garak leaned back in his seat. Trying to establish trust, is he? Or else simply trying to distract himself from the pain he still feels ... and the guilt he will feel, from betraying his comrades. At any rate, it would probably be most interesting. The Bajoran smirked, and said, “Well ... you look up the most ancient ruins ... of Hebitian culture, and um ... well, they look a lot ... like Bajorans.” Garak chuckled. “Indeed?” “Yeah. Probably something none of you spoonheads want to talk about. But if you want to, you can go home and look, for yourself ... if they’ll let you. So, back then, the Hebitians – well, maybe they had the rough skin, or whatever, but ... none of those bumps 123


on the forehead, huh? They had it on the nose, like we do ... and who knows, maybe on the neck, but ... ” Taren shook his head. “No spoonheads.” Garak shook his head in amusement. “Really?” “Yep. And ... you want to know what changed all that?” “Enlighten me, sir.” “Well ... ” the man leaned forward, and said, “Cardassians ... were spawned by Klingons.” Garak blinked. “Klingons?” “Yeah. See ... many centuries ago, the Klingons came in, and conquered the Hebitians. And ... well, you know how ... how aggressive the Klingons are, right? So ... the Hebitian women? They got so smitten ... with Klingon men ... that nature took its course. Long story short, they’re all having children. And they did it so much ... that they changed the bloodline.” Garak snorted, grinning. “No, no – this is real history. So ... you’ve got it on the head, because your ancestors are Klingons!” Garak burst out laughing. He was suddenly feeling quite giddy, somehow. He shook his head. “My dear Taren ... I doubt you have a firm grasp on Cardassian anatomy.” 124


“No, no – really. I mean, your girls probably got the blue thing on their own, or something, but ... the ridge is the ridge. It’s not as thick as a Klingon’s, because only half your blood’s theirs. Still – hundreds of years later, you’ve still got that gene. Hence ... you’re a spoonhead.” Garak chortled. “Well!” “That’s not all – ” the man grinned, “Where did you all get that rich black hair? I’ll bet if you all let it, it’d get long and airy ... like those Klingons, huh?” Garak nodded, laughing. The man joined in ... and when it died down, he said, “So, your great-great-great-great-great-greatgreat-great-great-great-great-great-great grandmother ... she fell for a Klingon ... and they had a half-Klingon kid! And it stuck – so, the Hebitians ... well, they became the spoonheads.” Garak raised his hands, and applauded. “Inspired, Taren!” “Well, I thought so. But ... ” the grin on the Bajoran’s face became less innocent, “In a way, it explains a lot. You were wondering what made you spoonheads more aggressive than we are, right?” Garak nodded. “Of course ... .” “Well, that explains it all.” 125


“I suppose so.” “But ... do you know what it also explains?” Garak leaned forward. “Enlighten me.” The terrorist’s smile lessened ... and he said, “You said the Hebitians had a rich culture, so ... so what happened to it?” Garak felt his smile fade. “I’ll tell you what happened, Spoonhead: you’ve lost it all – you lost your Hebitian side, for your Klingon side. Now that’s ironic, isn’t it? You all hate the Klingons, right? You think they’re a bunch of savage killers whose code of honor is a fake. But ... who are you more like: Hebitians ... or Klingons? Klingons are militaristic ... they’re bent on conquest ... they treat the races they control as second-class citizens ... . And the Hebitians – what were they like?” Taren shrugged. “They were a lot like us ... weren’t they?” Suddenly, Garak was enjoying this conversation less and less. The grin on Taren’s face returned. “So, Spoonhead ... I told you what made you people ... what you are. Now, I’ve been telling you that it’s all true, right?” Garak nodded. “You have.” 126


“And you told me you can spot lies ... right?” “Of course.” “So, tell me ... am I lying?” Garak said nothing, keeping what remained of his smile. The Bajoran pointed at him, and said, “Because I say, Spoonhead ... that you’re part – turtlehead.” Garak burst out laughing once again. And then he rose to his feet, and shook his head. “You’re not going to tell me anything ... are you, Bajoran?” The Bajoran spread out his hands ... and returned the laugh. Garak shrugged, amid the man’s guffaws. “Well, perhaps I will give you the benefit of the doubt ... and assume your antics are due to drink. So – ” Garak adjusted the settings on his tricorder ... and pressed the control. The laughter of the imbecile turned to screams, as one pulse connected – then another – and another again. The sequence would continue, for as long as Garak would wish. And he felt like “wishing” a great deal. Whatever was necessary, to exorcise that nonsense from this comedian. 127


“I know you can hear me, Bajoran,” Garak shouted above the screams, “So I advise you to tell me what I need to know ... before we finish with you.” At last, he pressed the control. The man gasped and wheezed ... and let out a cough. “Now,” Garak said, “I suppose I must advise you again of the danger you’re imposing, not merely to you ... but to your children. Tell me everything I want to know ... and I assure you, they will be treated with the best care the Empire can provide. Refuse ... and I am not the one to be concerned with a possible Klingon heritage. Or perhaps you can take solace in the fact that they will ... oh, ‘die with honor’, as they say?” The man raised his head, meeting Garak’s gaze ... and smiled. “See you in Gre’thor ... Spoonhead!” he whispered. Garak smiled ... and pressed the control. The man writhed – And suddenly ... nothing. Garak froze ... and his blood ran cold. He checked the tricorder. No ... everything was as it should be. The pulses were working, just ... no response. No ... 128


He turned it off, walked over to the Bajoran ... and checked his pulse. Nothing. No! But it was true. The man was dead, due to strain on his heart. And it was Garak’s own fault – he had no one to blame, but himself. He had allowed the terrorist to enrage him ... But why? What was it he had said – amid all the absurd, asinine nonsense about Klingon ancestry – what was it that had distracted Garak from his duty? Was it the words about the culture Cardassia had lost? The richness of the Hebitian era ... lost ... allegedly due to the militarism of the rising Empire – Did Garak, in some sense ... find himself agreeing with that? Well – it was of no consequence. He had failed. He had failed in his assignment ... in his chance for restoration, such as it was. More importantly ... in a momentary rage, he had failed Cardassia – a home which he was now certain was closed to him, forever ... . 129


=/\= 2375

In her quarters in Deep Space Nine, Counselor Ezri Dax stirred at the chime of the com link – and the desperate voice on the other end. “Garak to ... Garak to Counselor Dax.” Ezri sat up in her bed. “Garak? Garak, I’m here – are ... are you – ?” “Counselor ... I can’t ... I – help – ” Ezri shot to her feet, grabbing a robe, putting it on, tying it securely around her waist. “Don’t worry, Garak, I’ll call Julian – ” “No ... don’t bring ... anyone else into this.” His voice still sounded weak ... but she could hear the resolve in his voice. Ezri nodded, and gently said, “Don’t worry, Garak – I’m coming. I’ll be right there, okay?” “Thank ... thank you. I’ll – I'll be here. Garak ... out!” Ezri nodded, grabbing her combadge – and rushed out into the hall, praying that he was right ... that he needed no one else. =/\=

She found him on the floor, staring up at the 130


ceiling. He wasn’t writhing ... his head wasn’t jerking – he didn’t show the desperation of a claustrophobic attack. But ... Ezri knelt beside him. “Garak ... ?” The Cardassian swallowed, his eyes still fixed upward. But he said, in a calm, low tone, “Counselor ... thank you for coming.” Ezri nodded. “What happened?” He smiled ironically. “A memory.” Ezri shook her head. “How bad?” “Enough that ... that a name drove me to ... ” his smile grew, “to this.” “A name?” “Taren Korel.” Ezri froze ... and nodded slowly. “I take it, the man with the order – ” “ – was Korel’s son ... the son of a man – man that I ... interrogated. For Gul Dukat.” “Dukat? I thought – ” “Counselor – you remember when you asked me ... what had caused me to ... to drug myself?” Ezri nodded. 131


“I ... Dukat had – he had assigned a Resistance leader to me. To interrogate. Didn’t want ... to humiliate the Occupation further. Needed – a victory.” Garak turned to her ... the pain in his eyes showing. “I ... failed to give it to him.” Ezri frowned. “You, working for – ” “A ... a long story, Counselor.” Ezri put a hand on his shoulder, smiling warmly down at him. “Don’t worry, Garak,” she said. “I’m here. Tell me everything.” Garak smiled ... and did. =/\= 2368

Dukat shot to his feet, anger burning in his eyes. “Dead?” Garak nodded. “Apparently ... his heart wasn’t in it.” “You were supposed to question him, not kill him!” “Frankly, Dukat ... you failed to provide me with his medical records. Had I known of the strength of his heart – or lack thereof – he would still be alive. Of course ... you would have still slandered me, for not 132


pressing him hard enough.” “What?” “Isn’t it obvious? He was a man with nothing else to lose. Now, if your brainless minions had done the intelligent thing – capturing his wife, instead of killing her – ” “You think you can excuse your incompetence with that?” “Of course, Dukat! The man behaved as if he didn’t have much regard for the well-being of his children. Or, more likely ... he felt we wouldn’t keep our word not to kill them anyway. And to be blunt, Dukat ... I hardly blame him for thinking so.” Dukat bit his lip, staring into Garak’s eyes. Garak held firm, meeting his gaze. At last ... Dukat said, “Due to ... the Obsidian Order’s demands, I cannot punish you as I would anyone under my command. Remember that.” “Of course.” “However ... I won’t forget this. You will remain a tailor – and only a tailor. And I promise you, Garak: I will do everything in my power ... to ensure you will never exceed that. Is that clear?” Garak gave a smile he wished he could feel. “Perfectly.” 133


And he turned, and left the Prefect’s office ... all too certain about the future ahead. =/\= 2375

Garak closed his eyes, his story complete. When he opened them, he looked up into the soft, kind face of Ezri Dax. She sighed, and shook her head. “I ... I’m sorry, Garak.” Garak felt a smile. “Counselor ... as far as Dukat was concerned, it was on my account that he left Bajor in disgrace.” “And ... you think he was right?” “In a sense. I couldn’t ... I allowed my rage to overcome my better judgment.” Ezri looked off for a moment. Disgusted, aren’t you, Counselor? I tormented a man ... and it’s not for that that I feel remorse. When she looked back to him, she said, “Well ... you didn’t have them killed.” “Who ... Taren’s children?” “They’re still alive, aren’t they?” “Counselor, what need would be served by killing 134


them? He was already dead.” Ezri smiled ... and Garak felt her hand tighten on his shoulder.

Figure 13: You’re going to be all right

“Garak,” she said, “You’re going to be all right.” “Am I?” Ezri nodded. “Yes,” she said. “You are.” She ... she does understand, doesn’t she? For all the repulsive things I’ve done ... she’s still able to ... to bring comfort to me ... . Garak nodded his thanks ... as the calm of sleep 135


reassured his tortured soul. =/\=

Garak’s journey is only beginning....

136


Rush Limborg – or as he is known outside cyberspace, Eric M. Blake – has been writing Star Trek fan fiction since at least 2007, posting tales on the TrekBBS since 2008. As passionate about the franchise as he is about writing, he often stars as a major character his favorite "Trek-girl", Ezri Dax – and has taken a certain delight in exploring the many implications of her new status in the novels as captain of the USS Aventine, and heroine of the Federation. Rush is a major "shipper" for the Ezri/Bashir pairing – and, needless to say, is a strong advocate for their future reconciliation. He has also written the James-Bond-style yarn "From Risa With Love: An Adventure of Dr. Julian Bashir," which is being reviewed in the Trek United blog. Check out his stories, with and without Ezri, in the Fan Fiction forum at TrekBBS.com.

137


Figure 14

After being missing for three months, Jon and Trip are finally reunited with Enterprise, their relationship changed forever

138


What Lies Within Lies Between Pauline Mac

T

1

'Pol crouched low in the bushes, watching the two men walk along the quiet path. Of all the scenarios she had conjured up in the time they had been missing, she had never considered this possibility. She raised her communicator to her lips. “Enterprise, lock onto their bio signs and transport them up.” While she waited for confirmation that they had arrived safely back on Enterprise, T’Pol kept a watchful eye on her surroundings, ensuring that the two men were transported without incident. As 139


they de-materialized, she contemplated the situation. She was curious as to what had occurred that had resulted in the captain and commander— “Enterprise to Commander T’Pol. We have them.” She put her thoughts on hold. “Very well. I’m ready to transport.” With the familiar tingle of the beam, T’Pol sighed. She would have her answers soon. The sound of yelling greeted her as she arrived back on the Enterprise. She quickly analyzed the scene. The captain and commander stood in the middle of the transporter room, hand in hand, side by side, screaming at Lieutenant Malcolm Reed. The lieutenant, for his part, had one hand on his weapon holstered on his hip, the other held out toward the two men in a placating manner. T’Pol stepped off the transporter pad. “What is going on?” she asked over the din, keeping a wary eye on her two colleagues. “They don’t know where they are,” Malcolm answered. He cast a glance at her, his eyes dark with concern. “They appear to have no memory of us.” T’Pol nodded. “I suspected as much.” “Who are you? What do you want?” the captain 140


shouted. T’Pol walked slowly toward them. “I am Commander T’Pol, Captain, and you are on Enterprise.” “Captain? Enterprise? What are you talking about?” Jon demanded. T’Pol stopped within a meter of the two confused men, careful not to invade their space. “You are Captain Jonathan Archer,” she said, then turned to the other man. “And you are Commander Charles Tucker the Third, a starship engineer. You both serve on the Starfleet vessel Enterprise.” Jon backed away, pulling Trip along with him. “I don’t know what you’re talking about, lady,” he growled. “My name is Jon Archer. You got that much right,” he said, pulling Trip closer to him. “But I know nothing about any Enterprise.” He turned to his companion. “And this is my husband, Trip Archer.” Malcolm raised his eyebrows. “Husband?” Trip glared at Malcolm. “Yeah, husband,” he snarled. His faced darkened. “And you just keep away from us,” he hissed. Suddenly the two men bolted, running in the direction of the corridor. Malcolm ran after the captain, while T’Pol went after the engineer. She 141


tackled Trip, taking him to the deck plating, and with an unsettling sense of regret, raised her hand and pinched the nerve on his neck. He went limp instantly. Ensuring he was still breathing, T’Pol looked up to see Malcolm still struggling with the captain. She quickly rose to her feet and ran to help. “Lieutenant.” Malcolm moved aside, giving T’Pol access, and within seconds the captain also went limp. Malcolm moved off the captain and sat heavily on the deck. He stared at the unmoving forms of his friends. “Well, that was interesting,” he said, looking up at her. “Married?” T’Pol understood his confusion; she was also bewildered by the outcome. She sought to calm herself with logic. “To consider oneself a spouse does not always mean there has been a marriage, even among humans. I’m sure we will learn more once they have their memories back,” she said, walking over to the commander. She crouched beside him and gently brushed her fingers through his hair. “Is the doctor prepared?” Reed got to his feet. “Aye, Commander.” She stood. “Let's get them to sickbay.

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2 “I’ve sedated them for now,” Doctor Phlox advised as he studied his initial scans. “What’s wrong with them?” Malcolm asked from where he was standing out of the way. Phlox scrutinized the monitors above the biobeds. “It appears that their prefrontal cortices have been altered somehow which, in effect, has wiped their memories of the past and replaced them with false ones.” T’Pol walked over to the screen. “Can you determine how?” she asked as she stared at the images. Phlox shook his head. “Unfortunately, no. I’ll have to run more tests, but for the moment.” He gazed at his two unconscious patients. “Only the captain and commander know what happened to them, and until they get their memories back, we will have to tread lightly.” He looked at T’Pol. “It would be wise to not confront them at this stage.” T’Pol turned toward the doctor. “For what reason?” 143


“From what I witnessed of their behavior earlier, forcing anything from them could prove to be detrimental, perhaps even damaging to their mental health.” T’Pol nodded. “Then what do you suggest?” “After I’ve run a few more scans, I believe it would be beneficial if they are returned to the captain’s quarters before they wake.” “Why there?” Malcolm asked as he came up beside them. “They believe they are married. If they wake up here, or in separate quarters, the panic and alarm could be overwhelming.” “How will you observe their medical needs?” T’Pol asked. “I’ll place a monitor on each of them. That way I’ll be able to keep an eye on their progress.” “Very well, Doctor,” T’Pol acknowledged, then turned to Malcolm. “Please arrange for security to be placed outside the captain’s quarters. Once Phlox has finished his tests here, then the captain and commander can be transferred.” She turned back to Phlox. “How long will the sedative last?” “They should be coming around in approximately 144


four hours.” T’Pol bowed slightly. “I will check back with you then.” Phlox, gentle in his nature, ached for T’Pol as she gazed at the comatose commander. He understood the nature of their relationship, even if she didn’t, and could only hope that he could find a treatment that would return the two men's memories quickly. “I’ll keep you updated,” he said with a gentle smile. =/\=

As I stare at his sleeping form, I reach out my hand and run my fingers through his hair. He smiles. ‘Whatchya doing?’ he says sleepily. “Just admiring the view,” I tell him. He chuckles. I love his laugh, so full of life. “What are we going to do for our anniversary today?” I ask him, but I know what’s coming. He opens his eyes and cocks an eyebrow. “What anniversary would that be?” I gently smack his bare behind. “Why do you do this every year?” “Do what?” he asks, all full of innocence, but he knows. 145


I roll him onto his back and lay on top of him. I take hold of his hands and pin them above his head. “Say it!” I demand, playfully. He attempts to break my hold, but I grip him tighter. “Say it,” I repeat. He tries to lift up to kiss me, but I pull my head away. “Uh-uh...not until you say it.” He laughs, and before I know it, he’s taken control by wrapping his legs around my waist and flips me onto my back. I try to keep my lips away from his, but he’s too quick. He dips his head and captures my mouth, kissing me hard. My pulse throbs against my throat as the taste of his lips, his mouth, his tongue, sends bolts of lightning through my body. His touch still ignites a fire in my belly even after all these years. I could never tire of this. Our breaths are ragged when he pulls away, and I keep my eyes closed, letting the memory of his taste linger. “Happy seventh anniversary, husband,” he says, laughing. I wrap my arms around him, trying to meld the two of us together. I want to get inside his soul. “I love you,” I whisper, gazing into my husband’s beautiful blue eyes. I shudder when I realize how lost I would 146


be without him. “Don’t ever leave me, Trip,” I say quietly. His eyes sparkle as he gently wipes away a stray hair that has fallen across my forehead. “Never,” he promises and pulls me in for a soul-stealing kiss. I tighten my hold as we keep up our passionate kiss, then without warning I roll him onto his back. My heart pounds as our bodies come together, and I feel his heart beat in time with my own. I inhale his scent as his warm breath – as familiar to me as a summer breeze – tickles my neck. “Seven years,” I sigh contently, gazing down at him. He cocks an eyebrow. “I think we both know what we’re doing today.” I smile, dip my head down, and cover his lips. I groan when his tongue comes to meet mine. We’ve danced this dance a thousand times, but I never tire of it; he always takes my breath away. He moans and grabs at my hair, sending waves of excitement racing through my body when he pulls me closer, drawing my tongue deeper. The feel of his fingers digging deeper into my back, the touch of his arousal rubbing against my stomach, sends fire though my body. I groan and rock gently. “I need to be inside you,” I tell him breathlessly. “And I need you to be inside me,” he says, wrapping 147


his knees around my waist. I don’t hesitate, and slowly enter until he is a part of me and I him. I keep my eyes connected with his as I begin to rock gently. Trip smiles. “I love this part,” he says with a wink. I chuckle. “What? You don’t like my kisses?” He reaches up to pull my head down for another toe-curling kiss. I moan and jerk my hips when the familiar taste and feel of his tongue seeks out mine. With our bodies joined together in perfect harmony, I increase my movements so that they take me further and further into his warmth. “Phlox to Commander T’Pol...” Excitement builds in my veins as I increase my pace. “Go ahead...” Heat builds in my body. “They are waking...” Trip’s fingers dig deeper into my back as I hit his sweet spot over and over again. His groans of enjoyment singing in my ears; his sweat-covered body in sync with mine, sends my blood racing through my 148


veins 'til it reaches its destination. “I will be there shortly...” Trip’s body comes to meet mine one last time as I push hard and deep. I feel him clench and call out my name as he comes in a passionate rush. I follow not far behind... “It’s all right, Porthos...” I kiss Trip deeply, passionately, before I collapse onto to his body, breathing heavily, in a wasted heap of pleasure. As I remain deeply buried in my husband and try to catch my breath, I am aware that something isn’t right. I lift my head when something stings my neck... Jon’s eyes flew open, and he bolted upright from the mattress. His heart beat faster as, confused, he looked around the room. Nothing was familiar to him. No trees, no sun shining its light in. All he could see were stars streaming past a window in an unknown sky. Finally his attention was drawn to an intruder in the room. Jon shook Trip hard. “Trip, wake up!” “It’s all right, Captain,” the stranger said. “Who are you?” he demanded as he kept trying to 149


wake his husband. The stranger came closer. “I’m Doctor Phlox, Captain, and you are quite safe,” he said. The sleepy voice of Trip drew Jon’s attention. “What’s going on?” Jon pulled on Trip’s arm. “Get up, Trip. We have to get out of here.” The stranger held out his hand. “Captain, please stay calm.” Trip spun onto his back and stared at the strange alien. “Jon?” Jon grabbed Trip’s arm as he climbed off the bed. “Come on. We're getting out of here.” The stranger stood in their way. “I’m afraid that’s not possible, Captain,” he said, pointing to the door. “Security is posted outside, and they have orders to keep you here.” Jon took an angry step forward. “You’re holding us against our will. I demand that you return us to our home.” In response, Phlox took a cautious step toward the agitated pair. “You are home, Captain,” he said gently. Jon eyed the man warily. “What do you mean? And why do you keep calling me 'Captain'?” 150


Phlox took another step forward. “Because that is your title as well as your rank. Jonathan Archer, captain of the Starfleet vessel Enterprise.” He turned to Trip. “And you are Commander Charles Tucker, her chief engineer.” He moved slowly toward them. “You have been missing from Enterprise for three months.” “Waddya mean missing?” Trip snarled. Phlox tilted his head to the side. “Exactly that. You went missing during your vacation three months ago.” He stared at Jon. “Please, Captain, I know that you are skeptical,” he said, holding out his hand. “But I’d like to show you something to prove to you that I’m telling you the truth.” Phlox walked over to the desk and switched on the monitor. Jon and Trip inched closer, still unsure. “This is a record of your life,” he said, stepping away. “It contains everything from pictures to personal logs.” Phlox kept backing away until he was near the door “I’ll leave you to it,” he said as he pressed the door control. But neither man seemed to hear him; their eyes were glued to the photos, log entries, and personal letters, which all appeared on the screen. Jon looked at Trip in disbelief when a photo of the 151


two of them, dressed in uniform, appeared. “How can that be?” Trip whispered. =/\=

Phlox wasn’t surprised to see T’Pol standing outside the door when he exited. “Commander,” he acknowledged with a slight nod. “How are they?” she enquired. Phlox shrugged. “Understandably confused.” T’Pol nodded. “Am I able to see them?” she asked as she started for the door. Phlox held his hand out, halting her. “Not at this stage.” He smiled sadly as T’Pol’s dark eyes stared at the barrier between her and Trip. “They still do not have their memories back,” she said quietly, then looked at the doctor. “You used the antidote?” “Yes,” he said, “but it will take time for it to work. I have left them to browse through their Starfleet logs to try to prompt their memories.” She looked once more at the door. “So their memories will return?” Phlox shrugged. “Eventually.” He studied T’Pol for a moment and frowned. “You must be prepared for when they do get their memories back.” 152


T’Pol turned back to him. “In what way?” “The relationship has changed between the captain and Mister Tucker. For three months, they believed they were married. They will still have feelings for each other.” T’Pol straightened. “How can you be so sure?” “I studied the chemical that was used on them.” “And?” she prompted. “Though their memories may have been altered, their emotions weren’t.” Phlox watched as T'Pol processed this information, the barest flicker of emotion crossing her face. She was doing an admirable job of controlling her surprise, but as she was Vulcan, he expected no less. That didn't mean he was unsympathetic to her situation, however. “So they have had feelings for each other in the past,” she said dully. He felt a rush of compassion for her. “I would speculate that they have, but neither man recognized that the feelings they had for each other was love, and not just friendship.” T’Pol seemed to shrink inside herself. “Then I shall step aside,” she said. Phlox, seeing the hurt in her eyes, was moved to 153


put a hand on her arm, despite the well-known Vulcan aversion to touching. “T’Pol, you and the commander have a shared history, a bond. This won’t be easy for you.” “I appreciate your concern, Phlox.” “I believe you should take your time before making any type of decision.” “What would you suggest?” “Perhaps, when things settle, you could consider joining their partnership?” T'Pol stared at him as if he had lost his mind. “Vulcans do not practice polygamy,” she said tersely. “Denobulans have from the beginning of their history. Even humans have been known to join in a triad.” T’Pol turned away and walked toward the turbolift. “Just consider what I said,” Phlox called out to her.

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3 Trip’s hand hovered over the door control. He wasn’t sure if he should answer the door, wasn’t sure that he was ready to talk to anyone other than Jon or the doctor. He had come to these quarters, his apparently, at the urging of the doctor. Phlox seemed to believe that being here might assist him in getting his memory back, if what he and Jon had been told was the truth. The door chimed again. Obviously this person wasn’t going to go away. Taking a deep breath, Trip pressed the control and took a step back. He wasn’t prepared for his heart to unaccountably skip a beat when the Vulcan appeared. He remained silent and took a few more steps back as she entered. Her dark eyes boring into his set his heart racing. “I hope you don’t mind my visiting?” she asked. Trip shrugged before gesturing for her to take a seat. 155


She nodded marginally and sat on the small sofa. “Thank you.” After a long moment, he found his voice. “You’re welcome.” He backed away until he was near the bed, then slowly sat down, never taking his eyes off her. “Your name’s T’Pol, isn’t it?” She nodded. “That is correct.” He shifted on the bed, still suspicious of his surroundings. “Well then, T’Pol, is there something I can do for you?” “I came to see how you were doing.” “I’m fine,” he answered. “The doctor thinks I might remember more by being here.” An uncomfortable silence fell between them as he looked around the room. His gaze came to rest on a framed picture on the desk. It was of a smiling young woman with blond hair. If this was supposed to be his living quarters, the person in the picture had to be someone important or special to him, but he no more knew who she was than he did this exotic-looking alien with him. Feeling restless, and a little intimidated, he stood, walked to the viewport, and stared out at the unfamiliar universe. “Sure is pretty out here,” he said, just to break the silence. T’Pol rose from the sofa and joined him. “You’ve 156


always enjoyed being out in space,” she said softly. Trip stared at her reflection. “Is that right?” He looked at the stars. “If what you are telling me is true, why don't I remember?” “I can help.” Trip couldn't keep from turning toward her. There was something about this woman that drew him to her. He didn’t understand what it was, but he couldn't deny that it was happening nonetheless. “How?” T’Pol cast her eyes down. “You and I share a bond.” She looked up. “If you are willing, I can use that bond so that you will remember our time together.” Trip backed away. “I... I...” She stepped back. “I didn’t mean to make you feel uncomfortable.” “I'm not uncomfortable.” “I just thought I should tell you this, while I still had the chance.” Trip swayed on his feet. T’Pol approached and steadied him with her hand. “Are you all right?” Trip stared at her, his heart beating faster and faster, his head pounding. 157


Her breath, her touch... the taste of her lips, her tongue – all conspire to set my body on fire. I reach up and tear the robe off T’Pol’s shoulders, then run my hands down her inhumanly warm back. I break the kiss and trace my tongue over her chin, her ear, down her neck until I reach her breast. I quickly engulf her nipple, reveling in her suppleness as I lick, suck and nibble. She groans. I know what she needs so I push her toward the bed. There is no need for words as she lay on her back, taking me with her and into her warm embrace. My body over hers, I try to meld my physical being with hers, to get inside her soul, to be one with her. I kiss her hungrily, passionately, burying my tongue deep within her warmth. I stop for a breathless moment and stare into her heated dark eyes. “I love you,” I whisper, and I stroke her ears, knowing that this gives her the most pleasurable of sensations. She throws her head back and moans, then shifts her body, wrapping her legs around my waist, urging me in. “Commander?” I run my hands over her naked body, delighting in the feel of her soft skin under my touch. A spark rises. I keep my eyes steady with hers as I enter into 158


her heat and begin to rock slowly. “Trip?” She touches my face. “Ni’rch,” she gasps, spreading her fingers along my skin. “Fal-tor-pan, nr’ich,” she whispers. “Doctor Phlox. Please report to Commander Tucker’s quarters immediately.” T’Pol arches her back. “Aisha...” Her legs tighten around my waist. “Yana...” The feel of her warmth surrounding my arousal spurs me even faster and deeper. “I’m on my way.” “T'hy'la!” she calls as my body spasms in her and we come together in an explosive climax. As I collapse onto her, she once again wraps her arms around me. I know that her merest touch can stir me. Trip’s eyes flew open. “What the hell was that?” T’Pol stepped closer. “I believe you were remembering something,” she said gently. The entreaty in her eyes confused and scared him almost as much as whatever it was that he had just experienced. If it was true, if it was really a memory of his, that meant that everything he had with Jon, 159


everything he felt for Jon, had to be a fabrication. The odd thing was that it didn't feel like a lie, even as he began to understand that what he felt for Jon was what he also felt for this woman. She might be telling the truth, but he didn't want to hear it. He had to get away from her. “No,” he rasped, taking a step back. “Jon. I’ve gotta get back to Jon.” Trip ran for the door. He didn't know where he was going, only that he had to get away from her and find Jon. He fled blindly through the corridors, until his pain and despair forced him to his knees. “I wish you could come,” I whisper into her delicate ear. She pulls her head away and gazes into my eyes. “The captain is in need of a vacation, and he should not go alone. You are the logical choice to accompany him.” I sigh. “True. But I still wish I didn’t have to leave you,” I tell her, resting my finger on her hand. She wraps her fingers around mine. “We will have other opportunities to spend quiet time together—” “No! No!” Trip pushed himself onto his feet and ran. “I have to get to Jon.” =/\=

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The lights were dimmed, the room quiet, as Jon slept. He rolled onto his side, automatically pulling the sheet tighter around him. He had tried to stay awake while waiting for Trip to return, but after everything they had gone through that day, he was exhausted and had fallen asleep. “May we join you?” I look at the two aliens standing at our table, then at Trip. He half shrugs. We’re on vacation, but that doesn’t mean we‘ll ignore meeting new species. I indicate the empty chairs. “Sure,” I tell them. I hold out my hand. “Captain Jonathan Archer,” I introduce myself. Trip does the same. “Commander Charles Tucker,” he says. The aliens look perplexed at our gestures, so I take one of their hands in mine and shake firmly. I smile. “It’s our way of greeting people,” I tell them. They relax and follow our lead. “It is good to meet you,” the alien across from me says. “Likewise,” Trip says. “I am Syahn,” the alien to Trip’s right says. “And I am Suhreen,” the other introduces himself. “Where are you from?” Trip asks. 161


“Johnkund,” Suhreen answers. I smile. “I’ve never heard of it,” I say. “Johnkund is a distance away,” Syahn tells us. “What’s it like?” Trip asks. Syahn looks at Trip. “We are a peaceful people. It is a lovely planet.” He pauses and looks deep in thought. He casts a glance at Suhreen, then continues. “However, we do have a problem.” I glance at Trip, who raises an eyebrow. “And that would be?” I ask. Syahn stares at Trip. “We understand that you are an engineer?” “That’s right,” he drawls, eyeing them evenly as he sits straighter. I don’t blame him for being taken aback. How these aliens know anything about us is unnerving. Syahn nods. “We would like your assistance with an engineering problem that we are experiencing on our planet.” “What is it?” I ask before Trip can. Suhreen shifts his gaze from Trip to me. “Our generators are ancient, and we do not have the means or technology to upgrade them.” He looks at Trip again. “You have technology that will greatly 162


assist us.” Trip stares at me, so I answer for him. “We’re not in the habit of sharing our technology.” Jon rolled onto his back, his eyes in constant movement under his lids as the dream continued. I pull up the collar of my jacket as we exit the bar. “It got cool quickly,” I say. Trip pulls on the cuffs of his jacket. “Yeah, no kidding.” He looks back at the bar. “So, what’dya think?” I follow his gaze. “About the Johnkund?” Trip nods. I frown. “Sounds like we should...” I stop when I suddenly sway. “You all right?” Trip asks, holding onto my arm. I shake my head to clear it. “I didn’t think I had that much to drink,” I mumble as my head starts to spin. “Let’s get you back.” I hear Trip say, but it’s from a distance. As we near an alley, Trip stops walking. He is struggling to stand, his supportive hand on my arm falling away. “Trip...?” 163


“Trip,” Jon groaned, and tossed the sheets off in his sleep... My eyes focus on the motionless form beside me. I struggle onto my hands and knees to crawl over to him. “Trip,” I call as I shake him. I’m relieved when he moans and rolls onto his side. “What happened?” he asks, his voice unsteady. I look around the darkened room, and try to remember what happened. “I don’t know.” Trip sits up when the light suddenly blazes on and the door opens. I watch with unease as Syahn enters, followed by Suhreen pushing a trolley in front of him “What do you want?” I demand, trying to get to my feet. I sway slightly when I straighten, but hold my focus as the two Johnkund near. They stop within a few feet of us. Syahn turns and uncovers the trolley, revealing its contents. “Sonofabitch,” Trip hisses, struggling to his feet. I can see that Trip is as shaky as I am. Neither one of us is in any shape to put up a fight. Syahn picks up one of the huge syringes from the trolley and squirts out some of the contents through its long needle. “I’m sorry to do this to you, but we need your help,” he says. Trip is unable to pull away as Syahn grabs him by 164


the arm and injects the contents of the syringe into his neck. I try desperately to get to Trip when he screams in pain, but I’m stopped by Suhreen. I spin in time to see the needle he has aimed at my neck and try to fight him off, but it is of no use. I hear my own pain echo around the small room as darkness comes. Jon bolted off the bed, fully awake. He ran a shaking hand through his hair as he started to pace. “I remember,” he whispered. “Goddammit, I remember!” he growled. He crouched and held his throbbing head. He moaned when the pain increased. He looked up when Trip stumbled through the door. By the look in his eyes, Jon knew. Trip had remembered, too.

165


4 Phlox ran the scanner over Trip where he lay unconscious on a sickbay biobed. “How are they?” T’Pol asked. Phlox checked the readings. “They are doing well.” He looked up at T’Pol. “Do you know what happened?” T’Pol glanced at Trip. “I believe he was remembering a time we spent together. He became quite distraught, and left his quarters abruptly.” She paused, shifting on her feet, a sign that Phlox interpreted correctly as an indication of her own emotional unease. “I followed him to the captain's quarters. I used my command override to enter, as no one opened the door when I pressed the chime. Both of them were unconscious on the floor.” Phlox smiled knowingly, but was stopped from making any observations when the captain groaned. He ran his scanner over the stirring form. “I believe we’re about to learn what happened.” =/\=

166


“They’re called the Johnkund,” Jon said, rubbing his eyes. “They’re a warp society, but not a particularly advanced one. Not really interested in learning new things.” “It's more like a holiday planet than anything else.” Trip interrupted. “Species from all over came to stay.” “So, one has to wonder how many of those were kidnapped and had this done to them,” Phlox pondered. “Do you know why they kidnapped you?” T’Pol asked. “They said they needed Trip’s expertise in repairing their generators,” Jon said. “But the captain turned them down,” Trip interrupted again. “Because they also wanted our technology,” Jon added. “Obviously they didn’t take too kindly to your rejection,” Phlox said as he studied his latest readings. “Obviously,” T’Pol noted as she drew up beside the biobed that Trip was sitting on. “Can you recall how you came to lose your memories?” Phlox asked. 167


Trip studied his hands. “The last thing I remember before waking up with a new life...” Phlox caught the look that the commander cast in the captain’s direction, then at T’Pol. He remembered back to the advice he gave the young Vulcan. Yes, it wasn’t going to be easy for any of them... Phlox turned his attention to the captain as he took up the explanation. “They injected us with something. I’m not sure what, but obviously it had the right stuff to wipe our memories clean,” he said. Phlox waved the PADD in his hands. “My test results revealed a chemical compound was used. It was very ingenious,” he said. “In what way?” Jon asked. Phlox chose his words carefully. He was not entirely sure how the men would react to his findings. “It was very selective in how it worked,” he started. “You remembered your names, your feelings, and you skills, but you had no memories of your past.” “Hang on,” Trip interrupted. “Feelings?” Phlox met his confused eyes. “That is correct.” Jon sat straighter. “You’re talking about friendship, 168


right? That because we’re close friends, they used that to manipulate us into believing we were -” Phlox sighed. He knew this was going to be difficult. “No, Captain, that’s not what I’m saying.” “Then what?” Jon demanded. “As I said before, the chemical was able to adjust your memories, but only to a specific point.” He took a deeper breath. “They couldn’t alter your feelings. In fact, I suspect that it was able to.” He stopped for a minute, trying to find the right words. “Unblock, for lack of a better term, your deepseated feelings for each other. Jon stared at Trip. “Our deep-seated what?” Trip rasped. “Bridge to Commander T’Pol,” Hoshi’s voice came over the intercom, preventing any further discussion. T’Pol reached for the button. “Go ahead.” “Commander, Admiral Gardner wishes to speak with you.” “Transfer him to sickbay,” she ordered. T’Pol activated a nearby communications monitor. “Admiral,” she greeted him when his image appeared on the screen. Gardner screwed up his craggy face. “Commander. 169


How is Captain Archer doing?” “They are progressing well,” she told him. Phlox suppressed a chuckle at T’Pol’s not-so-subtle correction, then raised an eyebrow when the Admiral continued, oblivious to her rebuke. “Good, good,” he mumbled. “I have a mission for you.” “Go ahead,” Jon said as he approached the monitor. “Ahh, Captain. Good to see you on your feet again.” “Thank you, Admiral. You were saying?” he prompted tersely. The admiral frowned. “Are you fit for duty?” Phlox stepped in. “He is, Admiral.” “How can you be sure?” “I’ve run all the tests I need,” he said. “The captain has recovered his memories. His decision-making skills don’t seem to be affected. Apart from the occasional headache, he and the commander are fit for duty.” You don’t need to know about the emotional complications that losing their memories has caused, he thought as he stepped back. Jon smiled. “As you were saying?” “Oh, yes. Well.” Gardner cleared his throat. “We’ve 170


been contacted by the government of Krios Prime. They say they have information regarding the location of a Romulan outpost where they are building a weapon.” He paused as he pulled at his collar, then stared at the captain. ”A weapon that sounds remarkably similar to the Xindi weapon.” Phlox sighed. The last thing they needed right now was to deal with a deadly situation such as this. He peered at T’Pol and watched, fascinated, as she glanced at the captain and then at the commander, who had quietly joined them. Though she tried to keep her expression neutral, Phlox saw a glint of pain flash in her eyes when the captain took the engineer's hand and squeezed. Admiral Gardner's orders interrupted Phlox's observations. “I’m sending you the rendezvous coordinates. You’re scheduled to meet them in twelve hours.” “Understood, Admiral,” the captain acknowledged. He switched off the transmission and turned to Phlox. “We’ll have to finish this later,” he said. Turning to leave, Jon still held Trip's hand in his. After a moment, T'Pol clasped her hands behind her back and followed them. Phlox observed with a heavy heart as his three friends exited sickbay. “No, not easier at all.” =/\=

171


Jon made a mental note to thank Hoshi for taking care of Porthos while he was missing. “Sorry I was gone so long,” he told his pet as he scratched behind his beloved beagle’s ears. He stood and walked to the viewport. “I can’t believe we were only gone three months,” he said quietly as he watched the stars pass by in a blur. He looked down at his hands. Holding Trip’s hand had become so familiar to him, so natural, that he was now feeling naked without his touch. “Everything seemed so real.” Trip rests his head on my shoulder. “Hmm...” he sighs. “After that I don’t think I want to move.” I chuckle, but say nothing as I twine my fingers around his. I stare at them hypnotically as I swing our hands from side to side. “You’re not saying much,” he says. “I was just thinking...” Trip keeps our hands together as he tilts his head so that I can see his face. “And that would be?” I bring our hands up to my lips and kiss Trip’s fingers lightly. “Just how much I love you.” He smiles that beautiful smile. “I love you, too.” Jon closed his eyes. His body, his soul, ached to hold his husband. “But I can’t let it continue,” he 172


whispered and began the process of placing his love for Trip in his mental strong box. The door chime rang, startling Jon out of his thoughts. “Come in,” he called. Despite his best efforts, Jon’s heart skipped a beat when Trip entered. “I suppose we need to talk,” Trip started. Jon pointed to the couch. “I guess so.” Trip sat slowly. “You know that T’Pol and I are, um...” “In a relationship?” Trip nodded. “Yes,” Jon answered. Trip sighed. “Thing is...” He gazed into Jon’s eyes. “...I remember everything with such clarity. You and I were married, and happily.” Jon joined him on the couch. “I know it all seems real, Trip, but you have to remember that our memories were manipulated! We can’t rely on our feelings –“ “That’s not what Phlox said.” “I know what Phlox said,” Jon interrupted mildly. Trip gazed down at his hands. “You don’t believe 173


him?” he asked softly. Being near Trip, and hearing the sadness in his voice, set Jon’s heart racing. He needed space. He stood again and began to pace. “I don’t know what to believe,” he said, then stopped and turned to Trip. “But we have to think clearly about this.” Trip nodded absently. “What are we going to do, then?” Jon stared into Trip’s eyes. He knew what he had to do, but his heart shattered nonetheless. =/\=

Trip did his best to hide the hurt that was tearing him apart as he left his husband’s quarters. No, he berated to himself. He’s not my husband any more. He stopped walking and leaned heavily against the bulkhead. “We’ll just have to put all of this behind us and go back to being friends.” Trip rubbed his eyes. “Maybe Jon’s right. Maybe our feelings weren’t our own and just planted there.” That thought gave him little comfort. It wasn’t making the decision to go forward as friends, and not husband and husband, any easier. I roll onto my stomach and drape my arm over his bare chest. “I think we should stay here today,” I tell 174


him. Jon blows into my ear. “You’ll get no arguments from me,” he says. Exhilaration runs through my body until it reaches my heart. “You keep blowing on my ear like that and I won’t be held responsible for what I do next,” I growl. Jon laughs. “I dare you to,” he challenges. I spring up onto my hands and knees and quickly straddle his hips. “Well, I’ve never been one to pass up a challenge,” I say, and I don’t give him a chance to respond. I drop my head and kiss him deeply, hungry for his taste. My heart pounds hard against my ribs when Jon opens his mouth, giving me access to his warmth. I moan in delight as I slide my tongue inside Trip ran his fingers through his hair. “God! It felt so real. It was real! We had a life together.” He inhaled deeply. But you also had a life with T’Pol before all of this. The thought of his bond mate brought to mind the look on her face when the captain had taken his hand. “That wouldn’t have been easy for her to take,” he muttered and pushed himself off the bulkhead. “Well, then,” he said as he headed to her 175


quarters with determination. “That’s what I need to focus on now. Healing my relationship with T’Pol.” =/\=

She sensed his pain, his confusion, and desired to use the bond to reach out to him, but T’Pol knew it would not be the correct choice. Trip had to come to his own decision, find his own way back to her. She was acutely aware that she had told Phlox that she would step aside, allow the two men to continue their relationship, but deep down T’Pol knew that it was a falsehood. She still desired her mate. I am still unsettled as we leave sickbay. I have done my best to accept the doctor’s findings, but to acknowledge that I have lost my bond mate to another is difficult. “I’ll go and check things in engineering,” Trip says. The captain nods. “I’ll catch up with you later.” He stops and turns to me. “T’Pol, you’ll still have the bridge. I need to do a catch-up.” He looks at Trip, and they continue their journey. There is such a natural easiness between the two men, and for a brief period, I experience a rare moment of jealousy. I notice that their hands are still joined. “Excuse me, Captain.” He turns to me. I indicate with my eyes. “I believe 176


that protocol prohibits such public displays of affection between two people whilst on duty.” I sense his loss, his pain, and I am shamed immediately by my words. I feel an unusual warmth flow in my katra toward the captain when he realizes what he is doing and releases Trip’s hand slowly. I resist the urge to drop my head in disgrace as they stare at each other, accepting the inevitable. But it cuts to my heart, nonetheless, because now, their loss is my loss and I cannot take those words back. T’Pol opened her eyes. She looked around her candlelit quarters. “I will need to remedy this as soon as I can,” she told herself, then sensed his presence. She inhaled a calming breath when the door chime rang. “Come in,” she said, pulling strength from within. As Trip entered, T’Pol rose from her meditation mat. “Please, sit,” she said, pointing to her bed. Trip shook his head. “Thanks, but I’d rather stand.” T’Pol bowed her head slightly. “As you wish,” she said. She waited patiently as he paced around her quarters. “This is difficult for you?” Trip laughed mirthlessly. “Yeah, you could say that,” he said dryly, turning to her. “You know I love you?” 177


T’Pol met his eyes. “As I you,” she said. He took a step toward her. “We’ve shared our lives, a bond, and I want you to know that I haven’t forgotten that, and that this means the world to me.” He took her hand. “You mean the world to me.” T’Pol fought to keep her control. The feel of his warm breath on her face, the touch of his hand in hers, was sending an urgent need through her body. The sensations were making it all the more difficult to adhere to her decision. “I know,” she said in a low voice. Trip let go of her hand and started pacing again. “Thing is, T’Pol, I know that what Jon and I went through on Johnkund was a lie, but there’s a deep part of me that doesn’t believe that. I love Jon. We were happy and we did share our lives.” T’Pol’s determination to let Trip go started to falter. “I believe that you need time to sort through your emotions, and your feelings.” Trip scrubbed his hands over his face. “Yeah, you’re probably right.” He looked at her as he stepped closer. “I’m sorry that I’m putting you through this,” he said as he took her hand once more. “It is not your fault,” she said, but she could resist no longer. She stretched on her toes and kissed Trip lightly on his cheek. She pulled back. “I understand,” she said, meeting his tormented gaze. She refrained 178


from saying anything more for fear of influencing his decision. He smiled and dipped his head and kissed her lightly on her cheek. She was tempted to turn her head so that she could taste his lips, but before she could act on her impulse, he pulled away. “Thank you,” he said, then released her hand. As he left her quarters, T’Pol wondered if she could truly let him go.

179


5 Jon massaged his temples. He was still getting the occasional headaches, but the doctor had assured him they would fade over time. Phlox's only advice had been that he learn how to relax. “Relax? Yeah, right,” Jon muttered. “With everything that’s happened, how can I relax?” “Did you say something, sir?” Travis interrupted his thoughts. Jon blinked and found himself staring into his young helmsman’s dark eyes. “Sorry?” “You were muttering. Just wanted to know if you needed anything,” he replied. Jon shifted uncomfortably in his chair. “No, no. I’m fine. I was just thinking.” Travis turned back to his controls. “Okay, sir. Just checking.” Jon smiled wryly. Trust Travis to notice his distraction, he thought. 180


“We are coming up on the coordinates,” T’Pol said from her post at the science station. Jon stood and nodded at Hoshi. “On screen,” he ordered. When the ship came into view, Jon frowned. It was hawk-like in appearance, with swept-back wings and a beak-shaped forward section, and looked suspiciously like“An Orion Interceptor,” T’Pol said, giving voice to Jon's own conclusion. The captain spun to Malcolm. “Tactical alert,” he ordered, then turned to Hoshi once again. “Hail them.” The bridge lights dimmed as the communications officer tried to contact the alien ship. One hand to her earpiece, she glanced over at him. “They’re not answering, sir.” Jon kept his attention on the Orion vessel. “Load forward torpedoes. Aim for their-” “They’re firing,” Malcolm warned. Jon braced himself against the arm of his chair as Enterprise rocked violently. “Malcolm, fire on their cannons,” he ordered, trying to keep his balance as another explosion shook the ship. “Our port nacelle has been disabled,” T’Pol called. 181


“I’ve taken out their ventral cannons,” Malcolm reported, “but their-” “They’re gaining on us, sir!” Travis yelled. “Hard to starboard,” Jon ordered. “Captain!” Malcolm called out. Jon turned to him. “I’m detecting a –” “Engineering to Captain Archer,” an urgent voice came over the com panel. Archer leaned down. “Go ahead.” “Captain, Commander Tucker was transported out of engineering!” came the alarmed reply. “They have gone to warp,” T’Pol said. Jon’s heart stopped as he stared at T'Pol. “Do you have their warp signature?” “Aye, Captain.” “How long will it take for us to catch up with them?” “With the port nacelle damaged, I am unsure of-” Jon spoke to his com panel. “Captain to engineering.” “Hess here,” came the immediate response. “What’s our top speed?” 182


“I can give you warp three,” she said. He turned to T'Pol. “Approximately twenty-two minutes,” she told him answering his unvoiced question. Jon spun to the helmsman. “Travis.” “Aye, sir,” the young man said, and began inputting a course to follow the Orion vessel. =/\=

“Greetings, Commander.” Trip spun around. “What the hell?” he growled at the sight of the Johnkund. “We apologize for your abrupt return, but we still need your expertise with our problem,” Suhreen said. Trip stepped back. “You know the Cap'n will come for me.” Syahn appeared from behind Suhreen. “Your captain will not do anything foolish to put you in danger,” he said as he came to a stop next to Trip. He pulled out a weapon and grabbed Trip’s arm. “This way, please.” Trip suppressed his panic as he was led down a sparsely lit corridor. He knew Syahn was right, that the captain wouldn’t put him in danger, but that didn’t mean that Jon wouldn’t put himself at risk to 183


save him. Trip’s mind went to work. He needed to find an escape plan of his own before Jon did do something foolish. Trip scanned his surrounding as they rounded a corner, looking for opportunities to find a way to freedom. “You planning on using that memorywiping drug again?” he asked, stalling for time. Syahn stayed silent as they arrived in front of a turbolift. “Fine, don’t answer,” he grumbled as the door opened, but he needed information and tried Suhreen. “So... let me ask you some questions.” Suhreen bowed. “If I can, I will answer.” “Why did you use the drug in the first place?” he asked as the lift door closed behind him. He turned to Syahn. “Why not just force me? “We did not want to separate you from your mate,” Syahn answered. Trip frowned. How would they know about T’Pol? “My mate?” Suhreen nodded. “We observed the both of you in the days leading up to approaching you for assistance.” Still confused, Trip searched his memory of when they would have had the opportunity. “But, T’Pol...” 184


His voice trailed off when realization dawned. “You mean the captain?” Suhreen nodded. “But the Cap'n's not my mate,” he said as the lift came to a stop and they exited onto a catwalk. Trip’s hopes of finding a way out faded quickly as he looked along the two meter-wide catwalk. It wrapped around a vast interior where, ten meters below, the warp engine was housed. There were no stairs leading down that Trip could see, but he did notice an access door which he hoped would lead him to freedom. “It is what we felt,” Suhreen answered as he opened a door and pushed Trip inside. Trip spun to face them. “What’d you mean, felt?” he asked, confused. “It is one of our many gifts,” Suhreen said. “The Johnkund are able to feel the emotion of others.” Syahn folded his hands in front of his body as he backed away toward the door. “It is easier to adjust memories when two parties care deeply for each other. It made settling into your new lives uncomplicated.” “So, you’re telling me that the Cap’n and I...” Suhreen remained quiet as he closed the door, but 185


Trip saw the answer in his eyes. He sank to the floor and ran his fingers through his hair. “Shit...” =/\=

“We picked up his life sign, but we’re unable to get a transporter lock on the commander because the area he’s being held in is heavily shielded.” Malcolm reported. Jon stared at the console in front of him. His pulse still raced. His imagination was running wild. He could see Trip disappearing and wanted to reach out to stop him from leaving. His muscles tensed. What if I don’t— “Captain?” Malcolm prompted. Jon straightened. “Can we transport onto their ship?” he asked. Malcolm nodded. “There’s an area close to their port hull that we can beam into that’s isolated.” “How many life signs did you detect?” he asked, keeping his focus on the console. “Half a dozen, including the commander's,” the tactical officer said. Jon nodded. “Good. We can deal with that.” He looked at Malcolm. “You and I will use the transporter to –“ “Captain!” 186


Jon turned his attention to T’Pol, who was gazing intently at him. He had heard the entreaty in her voice, he could see it in her eyes. He understood exactly what she was feeling. “Change of plans.” He turned back to the tactical officer. ”You'll have the bridge.” “Captain!” Malcolm protested. “I should be the one to go.” “T’Pol’s been on one of their ships. I could use her help,” he said as he spun to leave to save his husband. Jon nodded to the crewman, then prepared himself for the familiar tingle that indicated the transporter was being activated. He held his breath. Even after all these years, using the transporter still had an edge to it. =/\=

After he materialized on the Orion ship, Jon crouched and quickly checked his surroundings. Seeing no one around, he nodded at T’Pol. “Anything?” She checked her hand-held scanner. “I detect no one in the immediate vicinity,” she said. Jon stood. “Okay, let’s go,” he whispered. As they stalked the darkened corridors, Jon kept a close eye on T’Pol. He felt a certain protectiveness 187


for her, although he wasn’t sure why. It seemed more intense than what he would feel for the safety of any other crewman. He thought it might have something do with his connection with Trip. There was a time he had entertained the notion of building a relationship with T’Pol, but when he realized that was not where her heart lay, he let the idea go. That, coupled with his belief that his first duty was to his ship, made it somewhat easier to deny any personal desires he might have. No matter what the cause, however, he wanted to make sure she stayed safe. He owed that to his husband. You have got to stop referring to Trip as your husband, he berated himself. Though he was reluctant to admit anything, he was in love with Trip. Which brought him back to his feelings for T'Pol, and her relationship with Trip. His heart went out to her. This can’t be easy for her... “You love him,” T’Pol said, interrupting his thoughts. Jon turned to her. “As do you.” “The commander is lucky,” she said. Jon raised his eyebrows. “In what way?” T’Pol gazed at him. “He has two people who love him.” 188


=/\=

“Dammit!” Trip swore and sucked on his singed finger. “C’mon, Commander. You're an engineer. You can beat this bastard,” he told himself as he went back to the task of trying to override the locking mechanism to his cell. He struggled to keep his panic at bay and was desperate to get out. Even though he didn’t say anything, Trip knew Syahn planned on using that drug. He didn’t want to go through that again. He didn’t want to lose his memories of his relationships with Jon and T’Pol. He didn’t want to not remember the love he felt for them. His heart ached. His only hope was that if he didn’t make it back they would take care of each other. “Well, then,” he mumbled. “Get working so that you can get back to them.” He stepped back when the door suddenly opened and Syahn and Suhreen entered. His heart raced. He knew what was coming. =/\=

Not wanting to alert anyone to their presence by using the turbolift, Jon and T’Pol climbed down an inner stairwell that they knew would lead them to where Trip was. As they stepped through the doorway and exited out onto the landing, Jon 189


quickly checked the immediate area, seeing that the coast was clear, he motioned for T'Pol to follow. Suddenly a familiar voice rang out. “No! Please! You don’t have to do this.” Trip’s desperate plea echoed around the huge chamber. Jon’s lungs constricted. “Trip!” he called. He ran toward light coming through an open doorway. Jon’s eyes went wide when he entered. “No!” he yelled just as Syahn was about to inject Trip. He tackled Syahn to the deck. “Get Trip out of here,” he ordered after he saw T’Pol take out Suhreen. He pushed down hard on Syahn’s chest, pinning the Johnkund to the floor. Once he could see T’Pol leading Trip to safety, he punched Syahn’s jaw, rendering the alien unconscious. He jumped to his feet and quickly followed. Just as he turned into the corridor, pain sliced through his right shoulder, the impact sending him toward the railing and over the side. Red flashed behind his eyes as he desperately grabbed onto the edge of the catwalk floor to stop his fall. “Jon!” Trip shouted. He heard the sounds of fists coming into contact with flesh as his body swung through the air, followed by weapons fire as his chest smashed into 190


the deck plating. Jon could feel his grip slipping when the silence came. His mind went back to a time when life was less complicated – his time with Trip as husband and husband. I love you, he thought, and prepared to let go. His weight pulling him down, his fingers slid off the catwalk just as a strong hand grabbed his wrist, guiding him back and preventing his fall. Jon met Trip’s eyes. He saw his desperation, his love, but he wanted Trip to be free. “Go!” he ordered. “Nope. Not leaving you,” Trip said. Jon was about to repeat his order when he felt another hand wrap around his arm. He looked at T’Pol. He saw her determination, and something else he couldn’t quite place. His head spun as they pulled him to safety. “Hang on, Jon,” Trip urged.

191


6 Trip held Jon’s hand. “You sure?” he asked Phlox without taking his eyes off his unconscious husband. “I’m sure,” Phlox said. “In fact—“ Jon groaned. Phlox smiled. ”You can ask him yourself.” Jon opened his eyes and looked around sickbay. “What happened?” he asked groggily as he tried to sit up. Trip wrapped his arm around him and supported his back as he lifted himself into a sitting position. “You had a close call, is what happened,” he said as he stepped back. Jon rubbed his eyes and groaned. “Yeah, that hurt.” He looked at Trip. “I told you to leave me.” Trip cocked his eyebrow. “I took the prerogative, and decided saving your life was a good idea.” Jon went back to rubbing his eyes. “Sorry, didn’t 192


mean to sound ungrateful.” He gazed at Trip. “Thank you!” “You’ll be happy to know there will be no permanent damage,” Phlox interrupted happily. Jon rubbed his aching shoulder. “How long will it take to heal?” he asked. Phlox shrugged. “Not long. My osmotic eel has done its work exceptionally well.” He chuckled when the captain shuddered. He was well aware of the humans’ aversion to him using his menagerie as healing tools. “What happened to the Johnkund?” Jon asked. Trip reached out as if to stroke Jon’s arm, but caught himself. “They’re limping their way back to their home planet under the watchful eye of Captain Vanik.” Jon raised his eyebrow. Vanik was even more condescending than the average Vulcan, and the memory of trying to make small talk with him over dinner always left a bad taste in Jon's mouth. It served the Johnkund right to have Vanik as their watchdog. T’Pol, who had been standing quietly to one side, stepped forward. “I took the liberty of contacting the Vulcan High Command. They have agreed to assist in repairing the Johnkund's generator. They 193


also will remain on Johnkund to educate them on how to maintain repairs to all their systems, and to guide them.” Jon nodded “Good,” he sighed. Phlox studied the three senior officers. They stood close to each other, yet not one was touching either of the other two. “It is my understanding that over the Christmas season it is customary to have a few days' leave,” he said to break the tension he sensed. “For the most part,” Jon answered. Phlox walked to his desk. “Well, we are due to pass an ‘M’ class planet in the next few days.” “And?” Jon prompted, warily. Phlox picked up a PADD from his desk. “According to my research, the planet is very suitable for all of you to go down to and stay for a few days. Consider this my early Christmas present to you all,” he said with an inordinately huge smile that indicated supreme happiness on the part of a Denobulan. Jon slid off the biobed. “Phlox, I don’t think –” “It wasn’t a suggestion, Captain,” Phlox said, maintaining his smile. PADD in hand, he walked back toward the trio. “The three of you have had an extremely trying time over the last few days. It would benefit all of you to follow my medical intervention.” 194


He handed the PADD to Jon. “There is a lovely little camping spot that would suit your purposes. It has a running stream nearby, plenty of shade and protection. I also believe that there is a decent-sized mountain that will challenge your fitness.” Trip took Jon by one arm, and after a moment's hesitation, T’Pol took the other, helping Jon off the bed. “Understood, Doctor,” Jon acknowledged as he was led out of sickbay. Phlox smiled broadly. “Merry Christmas,” he cheered and waved at their backs as they left. He raised an eyebrow. “Hmm... T’Pol also assisted the good captain,” he mused. =/\=

The glow from the fire reflected in T'Pol's eyes as she contemplated the events since the captain and Trip had been returned to Enterprise. Both men had gone for a walk, taking different directions, presumably to think. As she was alone for the moment, she tried to sort through her unexpected emotions that had surfaced over the past few days for the captain. The sense of loss she had felt when he had released Trip’s hand outside of sickbay, the panic that had nearly overwhelmed her when he almost lost his life at the hands of the Johnkund... At first she had 195


put these feelings down to her bond with Trip. But now she wasn’t so sure. Could it be possible that there is more to my feelings toward the captain other than friendship? she wondered. It was conceivable. When she had first been assigned to Enterprise her relationship with the captain had been strained, at best. However, over time she had come to respect him, not just as a captain, but also as a friend. An opportunity had presented itself many years ago where she could have embarked on a relationship with him, but she didn’t act on her feelings as her heart was being drawn elsewhere. Whatever the reason, she didn’t find the thought of having feelings for the captain disagreeable. Through her bond with Trip, she realized that there was much to love about him. She remembered Phlox’s words, to consider a threeway relationship. Could we make that work? she asked herself. Her thoughts were interrupted by the captain returning. She looked up from the fire as he neared. He appeared uncomfortable, so she rose to her feet. “I trust you had a pleasant walk?” she asked. He nodded. “Despite it being dark, you couldn’t imagine how well I could see things.” 196


An uneasy silence fell between them before Jon glanced at her. “Well, I think I’ll hit the sack,” he said, turning toward his tent. “Before you do,” Trip called as he entered the clearing. Jon stopped and turned to him. “I’ve come to my own decision.” =/\=

T’Pol sat in the lotus position, staring into the flame of her scented candle. She inhaled deeply, closed her eyes and attempted to meditate, but the memory of what occurred on the planet still lingered. “I almost lost you,” Trip says as he steps toward the captain. “I know you think that you should step out of my life, leave me to be with T’Pol.” He takes the captain’s hand and pulls him close. “And I know you think that because our memories were altered that our feelings for each other aren’t real. But Phlox disproved that and the Johnkund confirmed that. They are real. I do love you. In all sense and purpose, you are my husband.” My heart constricts. Though I have done my best to surrender my feelings for Trip, his decision still hurts. I look away to hide my disappointment. “T’Pol?” Trip’s tender voice stirs my katra. I look up 197


into his deep blue, burning, eyes. “You want me to be with Jon, because you believe it’s the right thing to do, the Vulcan thing to do.” He reaches out and takes my hand, pulling me near to him. “But you are my bond mate, my wife, and I love you.” His declaration sets my hopes soaring. I am mute, and though I know no words are needed, our bond has conveyed how I feel. He smiles and pulls both of us closer. His warm breath tickles my cheek, sending sparks through my body. “You are my soul mates,” he says. And I watch with fascination as he kisses the captain. He turns to me. “We belong together.” My heart races when his lips come into contact with mine. His kiss is warm, gentle, and full of passion. He pulls back. “We can make this work.” My breath is taken away as I stare into his eyes and see his desire, his love. Not just for me but also for the captain. I shift my attention from his overwhelming feelings and gaze at the captain. His eyes are glistening. I see his need, feel his love. “Captain?” “Jonathan,” he corrects me. 198


I bow my head slightly. I understand. In such an intimate situation as this, Captain would be inappropriate. “Jonathan.” Jonathan pulls me close. “I think Trip is right,” he says, a little breathlessly. I feel a rush of heat as leans toward me and kisses me gently. His lips are soft, his taste new to me, but there is an unexpected familiarity. There is a question in his eyes when he pulls back. I gaze at Trip and see the same question. “Yes,” I say softly. No more words are need. We are in one mind. Heat surges through me when Trip suddenly leans in and kisses Jonathan hard. I sense his burning desire, his wants. It doesn’t take long before we are unclothed. Trip pulls me near to him once more. His hands caress my behind. I lean into his touch.

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Figure 15: What Lies – bluetiger

I feel Jonathan’s warm body press against my back. He spreads his arms around us, and pulls us into a tighter embrace. Trip breaks his kiss and I watch with excitement I cannot control when Jonathan leans around my head and kisses Trip passionately. Without realizing, we have sunk to the ground. I lay my body over Trip’s, melding us into one, then reach behind and pull Jonathan down over my back. I need their touch, their warmth. I stroke Trip’s arousal. He groans, sending fire through my veins. I need more. I push myself into a sitting position. Jonathan stays with me, folding his arms around me as I take Trip’s arousal and guide him inside. Trip grips my hips and I steady myself by placing my hands on his arms. I cannot suppress a moan 200


when he sinks deeper into me. Jonathan kneels behind me, straddling Trip – his knees sliding forward to come into contact with mine. His touch is electrifying. He caresses my breasts with his strong hands. I tilt my head so I can enjoy the feel of his lips on my neck. He encourages me to move my hips by pushing his body against mine. The feel of his arousal against my back increases my excitement and I begin to rock. Jonathan runs his hand down my stomach until he reaches between my thighs. I groan when his finger joins Trip’s arousal and massages me deeply. “Da'Niikhirch,” I gasp. “Kali farr,” Trip breathes. I increase my pace to match that of Trip, who is bucking under me. “Da'Niikhirch,” I repeat as passion screams through my body. The sounds of their pleasure, the touch of their bodies moving against mine, begins to overwhelm me. I struggle to breathe. Trip slows his movement and runs his hands up my body. “Let me bear some of that load,” he says. A rare smile crosses my lips. “I will be...” 201


Figure 16: Three to Tango – bluetiger

“T’Pol.” Jonathan’s soft call garners my attention. I turn to him. “Let us help.” His eyes are soft with concern, and I feel a sense of wonder and awe. I am not accustomed to needing assistance, but in this instance I readily agree and nod my head. “I am grateful,” I whisper. Trip draws me near until my body covers his once more. He closes his eyes. “My mind to your mind...” He wraps his arms tightly around me and continues the words I taught him long ago. I rest my head on his shoulder and soak in his calm. “My thoughts to your thoughts...” I feel Jonathan wrapping me in his warm embrace as Trip continues. 202


“Our minds are melding...” I close my eyes and inhale deeply. “Our minds are one...” Although not a true mind meld, an overwhelming sense of peace spreads through my katra as our bodies and minds unite. I moan softly when Trip begins to move again. Our cocooning brings me comfort as I enjoy the pleasure of their warmth. Jonathan shifts his body so that he is no longer on top of me. He lies on his side, taking Trip and me with him, so that I am once again sandwiched between them. Jonathan wraps his arms and legs around us both as Trip continues to move deep within me. It’s not long before my hunger burns, and I roll on top of Trip and raise myself again. I reach for Jonathan. He knows what I need. Fire rips through my body and my desires increase when he straddles Trip’s legs behind me and quickly inserts his finger once more. I reach around and grab Jonathan’s arousal, squeezing hard, his groan taking me deeper and deeper into sexual bliss. Trip reaches up and kisses me deeply, hungrily, his 203


touch, his taste, taking me over the edge. I throw my head back and drape my arm around Jonathan’s neck. I pull him in for a hungry kiss. I don’t let go as Trip increases his thrusts and my body rocks in time with his. I use Jonathan for support when I lean back into him. He wraps his arms around me, and pushes his arousal against my back. He bites my neck, increasing the physical sensation of touch. I growl and clench my thighs tight. I cry out loud when my body shudders and I come in a fiery explosion. I continue to tremble as Trip comes, Jonathan follows not far behind. I collapse onto Trip’s sweaty chest... Gentle laughter finally drew T’Pol from her memories. She opened her eyes and gazed at the two men who were draped naked across the bed. She raised an eyebrow at her two mates. “What is so amusing?” Trip slid off the bed to the floor, quickly followed by Jonathan. “Well!” Trip smiled as he crawled over to her. “For one, you look amazing.” T’Pol bowed her head slightly. “As do you,” she said, indicating with her eyes that she appreciated the 204


sight of the two naked men, who continued to crawl toward her. “And, two,” Jonathan added, “you look like you could use some company.” He cast his eyes down. T’Pol followed his gaze. She wasn’t surprised that she was wet; her experience on the planet had exhilarated her, fulfilled her passion. Trip pulled up next to her and kissed her lightly on the lips. “I think we should consult with Doctor Phlox in the future,” he said. Excitement grew in her body as Jonathan sat behind her and pulled her close to his warm chest. She struggled to focus. “For what reason?” she managed to ask. Trip knelt in front of her. “He gives great holiday tips.” He kissed her again before leaning over her to kiss his husband. Their passion thrilled her. Jonathan pulled back. “That he does,” he said, smiling. Trip laughed. “Merry Christmas.” T’Pol reached up to Trip. Her lips met his and she kissed him slowly. She pulled back. “Indeed...” =/\=

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Pauline Mac took up writing fan fiction about two years ago. In the course of that time she has learned a great deal about the beast that is story telling. Her early writings were about the friendship between her two favorite men, Jon and Trip, but have grown into Slash. Her reason? Many, but she says: “To honor those who are in same sex relationships, and to add my voice in supporting them.�

Dedicated to Gene Roddenberry for his vision of IDIC.

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Do you enjoy Bluetiger’s artwork? Then be sure to check her out on Deviant Art.

Figure 17: Storm – bluetiger

Thanks to The Delphic Expanse, home forum to Pauline Mac, honeybee, Bluetiger and ENTAllat – Everything changes in the Expanse.

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Tragedy strikes when a hybrid human-Xindi Reptilian is pushed too far.

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D’Storlin Jespah

M

y name is D’Storlin, but my friends call me Dusty. At least, that’s what I’d have them call me.

If I had any friends, that is. I got sent here, to the Archer Academy at Oberon; it was a condition of my probation. I gotta attend classes and this one especially, Group Therapy. It feels weird talking about it all. My parents are so ashamed. And I admit I am, too. Everybody calls this the Freak School, the place where parents send their hybrid kids, like me, when they can’t handle them any longer. 209


It all started when we were in Biology class. I kept to myself. All the other kids were human, all the way human, or at least they hid it well if they were something else. But it was Lab and I had to have a partner. They put me with John something or other, this guy who was, like, captain of the football team and all of that other junk. And he hated me from the very beginning, and I hated him, so, well, I guess we were kinda even. And then we got down to dissecting stuff. It was okay when we dissected the earthworm and the frog. We actually worked together and we were almost getting along. But then we got to this baby crocodile. And like all the others, it was preserved in formaldehyde, and it totally reeked. Well, I look at it, and all I can think is – this was someone’s little one. I see the egg tooth, you know, the one you use to get outta the shell? I don’t remember coming out of the shell, of course, but I remember seeing my little sister – she and I weren’t in the same clutch. I remember seeing her struggle and struggle but she finally made it and my parents and my clutch brothers and sisters, we all cheered. And then we had hamburgers, I remember. Funny, the things you remember. And this preserved baby croc, she also, I am sure, carefully and painstakingly crunched out of her shell, and then took the pieces in her mouth or her 210


claws like I remember my sister did, and tossed the pieces to the side and walked out on her own, free and clear. It’s your first taste of Figure 18: I gotta say, I was a little ashamed

independence, and there’s just nothing like it. It’s incredible. But for this little croc, it was straight into however they killed her for a lab experiment. Maybe it was gas of some sort. How horrible, like the Nazis a good five hundred years ago on Earth. And I gotta say, I was a little ashamed of my Dad’s side then, the human side of things, and I felt more for Mom’s side, the Xindi Reptilian bit. And then it got worse, ‘cause John, he was so nasty. He grabbed the baby croc, even though she was already sliced open, and waved her around and said she was my Prom date. And they were all laughing, like it was some big joke, but I know they’re dissecting cats this week so maybe it’s not so much of a joke any more. But I’m not there to see them dissecting cats. 211


It’s because of how angry I got. I swiped my claws at John’s face. It was all over in a few seconds, and he was bleeding. They said at my hearing that John will be able to see with a prosthetic. I didn’t mean to permanently hurt him. I just got so mad! That baby croc was somebody’s little one. She was dead, yes, but she didn’t deserve to be desecrated like that. So here I am a freak among the freaks. I hate myself and what I have done. I wouldn’t blame John if never forgave me. =/\=

Jespah is a Boston-area fan fiction writer. She has been writing since the 1970s, and blogs about Star Trek fan fiction writing.

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For more of Bluetiger’s artwork, be sure to go to her home page on Deviant Art

Figure 19: What Does He See? – bluetiger1

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Once she was a Borg drone, now she is trying to find her way as an individual on Earth.

Thanks to Archer’s Angels, home forum to Laura McBride.

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A Drone’s New Life Laura McBride

S

even of Nine walked out of the classroom at Starfleet Academy. She had just finished teaching a class on Borg technology. She realized that some of it would be out of date but any information she could teach would be a benefit to the cadets and Starfleet. “Are you ready for lunch, Seven?” Harry said. “Yes Ensign, I’m sorry, Lieutenant,” she said. “It was nice that you are teaching a few classes this semester, it gives us a chance to catch up.” Since returning to the Alpha Quadrant and her break up with Commander Chakotay, Seven was 215


Figure 20: A talk with a good friend

trying to be more ‘human’. The Doctor was still helping her to achieve this goal. His program was still active at Starfleet Medical, and he was thriving there. He was still using his mobile emitter making her visits with him easier. They would take walks together on the grounds of Starfleet Medical and at the Academy. ‘Have you seen Tim again?” Harry inquired. “I will be seeing him tomorrow for lunch. I have a morning class to teach and then no more until Friday,” she said matter-of-factly. “Good!” Harry said. “I’m happy to see you with someone. I was concerned about you when you and the Commander ended things.” Seven and Commander Chakotay were only together a short time. She liked him but there was 216


no ‘spark’ as the Doctor had described it. She met the commander on board Voyager. He was the first officer and part of the crew that helped liberate Seven from the Borg collective. Captain Janeway was her commanding officer, teacher, friend and surrogate mother. Both she and Commander Chakotay, with the help of the Doctor, worked with Seven to become more human. They all spent countless hours teaching her how to act around people and not just be a drone. The Doctor, who was an Emergency Medical Hologram, was activated early on in Voyager’s journey when the human doctor died, Seven had been told. He was responsible for removing most of the Borg implants. They quickly became friends. In part, that was because they were both ‘outcasts’ onboard. They bonded easily and both learned to be more human. Ensign Harry Kim had had a crush on Seven, or so she was told. But he remained a close friend after Voyager returned home. She looked forward to visits

Figure 21: A little help from the EMH

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with him. Seven and Harry caught up over lunch. He was dating a girl from Seattle. Lucy was her name. He seemed very hopeful about the relationship and Seven hoped this would be the one for him. He had the worst luck with women. She also learned that Commander Chakotay and Captain Janeway were involved now. He was promoted to captain since returning to the Alpha Quadrant and had been assigned to the USS Archer. After finding out more about the activities of the rest of the Voyager crew, she bid adieu to Harry and headed home. She had an apartment three blocks away from the Academy. She was anxious to see Tim. She decided to pick out her outfit for the date, and settled on a pink lace blouse with black jeans. She didn’t know what he had planned for them but this seemed comfortable to her and slightly dressy. She was learning a lot from the Doctor to be prepared for anything on a date. As she was drifting off to sleep, Seven remembered how she had met Tim. “I’m, I’m so sorry. I wasn’t paying attention,” this attractive stranger said. “My name is Tim. I hope I didn’t hurt you. I am testing a new tricorder and was not paying attention to my surroundings.” 218


“You did not harm me,” Seven stated quite calmly. “Aren’t you Seven, Seven of Nine? Or do you prefer Annika? I read all about you when Voyager first returned home,” Tim stated. “Seven. Only my aunt calls me Annika,” she replied. Figure 22: A dream

offend you,” Tim shyly said.

“I’m sorry, I hope I didn’t

“Offense is irrelevant,” Seven stated. “Would you maybe, like to accompany me to lunch? To make it up to you?” he asked nervously. “I will oblige.” Seven responded. He flashed her one of those smiles she would come to appreciate and took her by the arm. She noticed he was about 20cm taller than she was, and she decided that she liked that. She woke up the next morning with a smile on her face. She liked knowing that she was meeting Tim that day. 219


After class she waited for him on the bench on campus in the park where they met. She observed him walking towards her holding something. But she was consumed at looking at him moving in what seemed to be in slow motion. His short blonde hair moved slightly in the breeze. He finally reached her and she smiled. He put the basket down, that is what he was holding she thought, and wrapped her into his muscular arms. She looked into his deep blue eyes, smiled and kissed him. Her heart began to race again. It always did this when she saw him or kissed him. The Doctor explained that this happens when humanoids are attracted to one another. He took her hand and began to lead the way. In his other he held the basket. He led her to the spot in the park where they had met, and brought her to a more secluded section of that area. He opened the basket and took out a red and white checkered blanket with matching napkins. He spread it out on the ground. A red bottle of wine was in the basket as well and he opened it, poured her a glass and offered it to her. He then poured one for himself. He took out large strawberries, three different kinds of cheese and grapes. There was also a device that had music coming from it. She would see him and feel flush all over her body. She would feel, what was the word? Giddy. She had seen the teenage Earth movies the Doctor made her watch. Her emotions felt like the ones depicted in 220


those films. It was most unsettling but curious at the same time. Tim asked her nervously, “Do you like it?”

Figure 23: An awakening

Seven had been lost in thought but quickly responded. “It’s quite pleasing. But I do not understand where do we sit?” Tim answered, “We sit next to each other on the blanket.” Seven looked at him as she started to sit. He took her hands and guided her down. He sat next to her. He gave her the glass of wine again and raised his to hers. He tapped his glass to hers and said, “To 221


us”. He took a sip and she followed suit. He picked up a grape and placed it in her mouth. She chewed it and wanted to ask why. She decided she liked Figure 24: Taste this feeling and let him feed her more. When he was done, he gently leaned forward and kissed her. She always enjoyed this sensation and followed his lead. He was very gentle as he kissed her. His tongue glided with ease against hers, if hers moved one way his followed. “WOW! That was some kiss,” Tim yelled. All Seven could do was smile. They finished eating and drinking. He started to clean up, finishing rather quickly. He shook off the blanket and replaced it back on the ground. He put on slower music, romantic music. She had learned this from those movies. He took her hand again and helped her to a sitting position. Tim leaned in to kiss her, this time inching her slowly to the ground. He gently laid on top of Seven. He asked if she was all right and she responded by nodding. He began 222


to kiss her again with more passion, more heat. She could feel things in her body stir, places with the most unusual sensations. She kissed him harder. He quickly responded. Then he did something she was not expecting but she did not stop him. He placed a hand on her breast. She didn’t know how to respond but all she knew was that she liked it. She responded to his touch. Kissing him harder, moaning a little as he gently moved to her other breast. He stopped abruptly not wanting to push it any farther. Seven was grateful that he was so considerate of her feelings. How did she get so lucky to find a man like this one? But at the same time she wished he had not stopped. He got up and packed the blanket, napkins and the remainder of the food. He took her hand and they began to walk to Seven’s apartment. Once they reached the front door, Tim gave her kiss and was ready to leave for the evening. They had done this many times. She realized that she did not want this night to end. She asked him, “Would you like to finish the bottle of wine upstairs?” He agreed. Once inside, Tim sat on the couch next to Seven and finished pouring the wine in the glasses. Again he toasted to them. He said, “Seven, I love you. I know this seems sudden but from the first moment I saw you in the park, I knew there was no way around it. I love you. I want you more than you will ever 223


Figure 25: Passion

know. We are in no rush. I can tell how you feel about me; it has changed for the better.” This Seven could not deny that. “I did not know how to react, how to respond. I feel passion for you. I believe that is the correct word for it, for you.” “We will take this relationship slowly. I am not going anywhere,” he told her. They kissed again as he gently laid her down on the couch again. “Computer, dim lights,” she said as she smiled. =/\=

224


Laura McBride has been writing since high school, off and on, for the past twenty-six years and became serious about it again in the past year. Her favorite series is Enterprise but as long as it's Trek, she will watch it.

225


What if McCoy had been called away at the last minute, and Kirk and Spock had beamed down without him for Spock’s wedding?

Warning – contains character death

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Ripples Lil Black Dog

I

hadn’t thought about them in years, hadn’t thought about that day in years. I should have known better; should have been well aware that attending that funeral today (why is it that people are more likely to go to a funeral than a wedding?), seeing her, seeing those crewmembers who were still alive, would set me off again. And damn it all to hell if it’s not just as hard now as it was 50 years ago. Against my better judgment, my thoughts turn to that fateful day, so long ago… =/\=

The three of us were in the turbolift, headed for the Bridge. The ship was en route to Vulcan – would be 227


in orbit any minute now as a matter-of-fact – against Starfleet’s express orders, but that didn’t matter in the least to Jim. Something was wrong with Spock; a hormonal imbalance the tight-lipped, too-stubborn-for-his-own-good SOB didn’t feel the need to clarify for me, but I knew it’d kill him if we didn’t find a way to stop it, and soon. Jim took it upon himself to discover not only the reason but the cure. It seemed that was tied to getting Spock back to his home planet, and Starfleet orders to the contrary be damned. It meant the ship wouldn’t make it to the inauguration ceremony on Altair VI on time, but Jim was more than willing to stick his neck out for the Vulcan, the consequences to himself notwithstanding. Right now, the only thing that mattered to the Captain was making sure his First survived. Spock’s voice sounded in the confined space. “It is obvious that you have surmised my problem, Doctor; my compliments on your insight.” Keeping my outward appearance neutral, I was doing handsprings on the inside. Damn Vulcan. Always thinking he could pull a fast one on me. Guess I showed him. He turned his attention to Jim. “Captain, there is a thing that happens to Vulcans at this time, almost an insanity which you would no doubt find distasteful.” 228


“Will I? You’ve been most patient with my kinds of madness.” Jim flashed him an easy grin. He was like that, much more so than me. You see, unlike me, he’d always been able to accept Spock for who he was, warts and all. “Then would you beam down to the planet’s surface and stand with me? There is a brief ceremony.” There had been a slight hesitancy, almost a reluctance to Spock’s voice, as if he had expected Jim to refuse; or had it been something else altogether? “Is it permitted?” Jim countered. It’s the question I would have asked. Who knew what kind of weird rules governed bizarre, hushhush Vulcan mating rituals? At least, that’s what I thought we were dealing with. Those two never saw fit to tell me anything, especially with regard to the stuff that really mattered. “It is my right. By tradition, the male is accompanied by his closest friends.” I know it took a lot for Spock to admit that in front of me. His emotional control must have been hanging by a thread. I chuckled inwardly, unable to contain myself. His closest friend? Was he kidding? How about his only friend? Jim Kirk was the only person in the galaxy Spock permitted into his sanctum sanctorum. Of course he’d want Jim with him for this. 229


“Thank you, Mr. Spock,” the captain answered after a brief pause. You could almost hear the sigh of relief. Was this going to be so awful that Spock didn’t think he could handle it on his own? That he would need Jim’s presence at his side just to get through it? Jim’s answer had come as no surprise either. Over the last year he’d made a habit out of being there for Spock, whether the Vulcan liked it or not. But it was his next words that swept through me like Sherman through Atlanta, burned me as if I’d been hit by the intense flashes of gamma radiation emitted by a pulsar. Turning to me, the tips of his ears greening up slightly, he said in a soft voice, “I also request McCoy accompany me.” I felt my own cheeks flush, my stomach plummet into my boots – and not due to the twists and turns of the turbolift car we were riding in, mind you. He and I had certainly had our differences in the past – still did – but by then I had begun to admit to (never out loud, and grudgingly, of course) a growing respect and the most reluctant feelings of affection for this most enigmatic of beings. It had come as a total shock to hear him all but acknowledge the same. Once again, I chalked it up to the whole hormonal imbalance thing. “I shall be honored, sir,” I heard someone answer; took me a moment to realize it was me. 230


The lift doors swished open, admitting us to the bridge, and next thing you know the image of an absolutely stunning Vulcan woman filled the main screen. But her beauty did little to disguise the fact that she was cold, calculating, had a mind-boggling poker face, even by Vulcan standards; a real piece of work if you asked me. Spock’s normal, everyday demeanor – which never ceased to grate on my nerves by the way – had nothing on the Vulcan Ice Princess – she was light-years ahead of our First Officer in that regard. Before any of the rest of us got up the gumption to ask about her, Uhura did it for us. “She’s lovely, Mr. Spock. Who is she?” “She is T’Pring…my wife.”

Figure 26: She is T'Pring … my wife

Poor Jim; he hadn’t seen that one coming at all, judging by the startled look he shot me – but then 231


again, neither had I. Maybe they were the best of friends, maybe Spock trusted this one particular human over all other beings in the universe, but that apparently didn’t mean Spock told him everything… Pleasantries – if you could call that gobbledygook they said to each other ‘pleasant’ – quickly exchanged between husband and wife, the three of us piled back into the lift, headed for the transporter room and the mysterious ceremony that awaited us on the planet’s surface. Things had gotten awfully quiet all of a sudden, so I took it upon myself to make small talk. “Y’know Spock, this T’Pring of yours seems like such a delightful woman. I can’t for the life of me fathom what she sees in you.” But the barb designed to deflate the ramrod stiff back, to help the Vulcan relax a little by forcing him to engage in his favorite pastime, fell on deaf ears, no verbal riposte forthcoming. It occurred to me that Spock was still distracted, and by more than just his unusual (for him anyway) urges. Once again, my stomach started doing somersaults and I couldn’t shake the feeling that there was still something he wasn’t telling us. I caught Jim’s eye briefly, but the captain’s look plainly said drop it; he’s been through enough already, so I didn’t press the matter. We were almost to the transporter room doors when I heard my name booming from every 232


speaker on the ship. Jim and Spock waited for me as I made my way to the nearest comm unit. “Doctor McCoy, please acknowledge.” “McCoy here,” I replied, thumbing the switch and activating the wall-mounted device. “Chapel here, sir. There’s been an accident. Lieutenant McDaniels fell down a Jeffries tube. His right arm is definitely broken – an open fracture – and he’s showing signs of a ruptured disk in his neck as well as severe head trauma. I think he’ll need surgery, sir.” “On my way.” I looked at my CO and XO, who had come to stand beside me. “Spock, I–” I began, preparing to express my regret at having to bow out, and for once I really meant it. Today, for the first time ever, the Vulcan had named me a friend in front of Jim. In light of that I didn’t want to let him down, especially not now, when for some unexplained reason, he looked for all the world like a man about to be herded off to his own execution. But hindsight is a funny thing, and I wonder now if there was more to his trepidation than that. “Please, Doctor, there is no need to apologize,” Spock interrupted brusquely. “This clearly must take precedence.” The two of them turned and started for the transporter room again, when the sense of 233


foreboding washed over me once more. I reached out, grabbed the captain’s arm, halting his forward momentum. “Jim, be careful,” I whispered, pitched too low even for Vulcan ears. “Bones?” he admonished softly. “You’re going all Mother Hen on me again. It’s some sort of a Vulcan wedding celebration, not a Klingon Rite of Passage ceremony. What could possibly happen?” He tried to reassure me with a lopsided grin. “Yeah, I guess you’re right. But humor me and be careful anyway, okay?” I was dead serious; didn’t answer his smile with one of my own. The lopsided grin deepened, shades of affection and warmth now coloring it as well. The image of that smiling face would be forever burned into my memory. At the time I hadn’t realized that would be the last smile I’d ever see from him. “We’ll be back soon. Go tend to your patient.” And with that he was gone, hurrying to match the Vulcan’s long strides as the two of them continued to make their way to the transporter room. =/\=

Forty-five minutes later I was in the middle of writing up the surgical report on the procedure I’d just performed when I received a frantic call from Uhura – who was obviously in tears – telling me to get to the transporter room ASAP. To this day, I 234


don’t remember anything about the conversation other than the words “the Captain is dead.” At the time I’d asked her to repeat herself, sure something had gotten lost in translation, but the syllables I heard the second time around conjured up the same image as before. Snatching up a medikit I made for the door, ordering my staff to bring a gurney, running blindly for the transporter room, completely oblivious to my surroundings. I wouldn’t be surprised if I’d managed to bowl over a few unsuspecting crewmembers while en route, but I don’t recall much about my headlong flight there, except for the thoughts that were racing through my head. Dead? How? They’d beamed down for Spock’s nuptials, a ceremony that was to take place on the planet of the most logical, unemotional and peace-loving beings in the galaxy. How on Earth could someone have died? A fall? An allergic reaction to something he’d eaten? Somehow the idea of a jealous lover shooting up the place just didn’t seem plausible. If this was Jim’s idea of a joke it wasn’t very damn funny. Having no idea what to expect, I burst through the doors just as the machine hummed to life. Spock materialized on the platform, Kirk cradled in his arms, white as chalk. The smudges of dirt visible on the captain’s face stood out in stark contrast to the ashen skin, and all thoughts that I was the victim of some twisted prank evaporated instantly, 235


like tiny droplets of water sloshed onto hot, desert sand. Something was terribly wrong. Maybe there’s still a chance I tried to convince myself valiantly, despite Figure 27: The True Final Frontier the impossible scene unfolding before my very eyes. Spock wasn’t a doctor, after all; he couldn’t be sure. “Spock! Why didn’t you call for a medical team to be standing by, or have yourselves beamed up the minute things went south?” I had rushed to Jim’s side; was feeling his throat for a pulse (good God, why was it purple?), even though the scanner whirring in my other hand had already confirmed my worst fears. “It was already too late. The Captain is dead.” The words were spoken with an eerie sense of finality. Totally dumbfounded, I noted the look of utter horror, of sheer disbelief, as Scotty raced from behind the console, leaving a stunned Transporter Chief Kyle alone behind the mechanism. Coming to a stop at my shoulder, the third-in-command – check that, he was the second-in-command now – searched my face, unmistakably expecting an answer. It must have been plainly written there, for 236


I watched the small glimmer of hope die a quick death in the Scotsman’s eyes. I turned my attention back to Spock, my eyes settling on the unbelievable burden he was bearing. “What in blazes happened down there?! I thought you invited Jim to some sort of Vulcan matrimonial ceremony! Were you attacked? How the hell did he get that cut on his chest?” I wrenched my gaze from that lifeless, limp body in the Vulcan’s arms up to his blank, unreadable face; and shifted into CMO mode. It was where I felt the most comfortable, and secure, and was probably the only thing that kept me sane during those surreal few minutes. “Spock, are you injured?” I managed to ask in an almost normal voice, my eyes traveling over the lean frame, looking for wounds, signs of bleeding, waving my scanner at him now. If history was any indicator, Spock had gotten it just as bad, if not worse, trying to protect Jim’s ass. His face was streaked with dirt as well, as were his uniform and boots, but other than that there were no signs that he’d been hurt – at least not in the physical sense. “Negative.” He turned to the Chief Engineer. My eyes followed his. All the blood had drained from Scotty’s face. I’d never seen the man so pale, even after a bender to end all benders. “Mr. Scott. Please have LCDR Giotto meet us here immediately along with a security detail. I am relinquishing command, and will now surrender myself for arrest.” 237


“But why? We need to find the person or persons who did this.” Scotty had never questioned a direct order from the Vulcan before, his gaze roaming between the wooden face of his XO and the even more still face of the human in Spock’s arms. “Because I killed the Captain.” It was as if a hole had opened up in the bulkhead, exposing the room to the vacuum of space, sucking all sound out into the black void beyond. Every pair of eyes in the room snapped to the XO, mine included. What was wrong with everyone today? Had the entire universe suddenly gone haywire, become a place where the utterly impossible had now become stark reality? This shouldn’t be happening, couldn’t be happening. Okay, time to wake up now, Leonard I remember telling myself. I’d had my share of nightmares during my tenure on the ship – some real doozies, in fact – usually about just this type of thing, only I knew I wasn’t sleeping this time. This nightmare was all too real. I was the first one who found my voice, which shook with barely-concealed rage. “You what?! Why? He was your best friend!” I fought to get control of myself, tried desperately to put a rational spin on a totally irrational situation. “Surely you can’t mean that, Spock.” 238


There had to be a logical explanation. Spock was emotionally compromised, right? Still suffering from that chemical imbalance that had made him act erratically over the course of the last week? He must not be remembering things correctly, must’ve misspoken no doubt. The Vulcan could no more kill Jim than carbon-based life could survive on a planet whose sun had gone dark, but all the while the incontrovertible evidence to the contrary was resting against the blue velour of Spock’s tunic. I knew even then I was grasping at straws, but I didn’t care. In the background I could hear Kyle calling security. Spock was either unwilling, or unable, to answer me. Despite my best efforts, I found my temper getting the best of me. I railed at the closest available thing. Unfortunately for Spock, it was he. “Well? You want to tell me just why Jim is dead; why you killed him?” White-hot anger gripped me, and I took a menacing step toward the Vulcan, my vision suddenly clouded with red, my fist raised to lash out at something, anything. Unbelievably, Spock flinched in the wake of my fury, refusing to meet my gaze. It was then that I realized the last vestiges of his control was in tatters, that he was about to break down any second now. 239


At that moment the doors swished open, admitting the medical team with the gurney. Spock carried his burden off the platform, seemed to clutch the body tightly to his chest for an instant, before gently laying his Captain, his friend, on the thin mattress, the orderlies scattering before him. Having eyes for no one but Jim, he gingerly brushed the stray lock of hair off the high forehead, a very public display of his feelings for this man that he absolutely would not have permitted himself under normal circumstances. The tender gesture was oddly incongruous with his whispered confession of a few moments ago. At that instant, time moved either in microseconds or millennia, I wasn’t sure which, with Spock watching Jim, as if willing him to open his eyes, to take a breath, jump up off the gurney and put an end to this inconceivable turn of events, and the rest of us frozen in place, watching Spock until the arrival of Giotto and his security team disturbed the unnatural stillness that had settled over the room. To his credit, in spite of the sight that met his eyes on the stretcher before him, the Chief of Security remained remarkably calm, turning to Spock and asking quietly, “Sir? What are your orders?” his strained tone the only indicator of his immediate distress. The sound of Giotto’s voice startled Spock out of his silent suffering. He studiously ignored the man, 240


looking to Scotty instead. His eyes never leaving the Vulcan’s face, the Chief Engineer began speaking in a low voice. “Mr. Spock is hereby relieved of command. Mr. Kyle, please note the stardate an’ time for the official log. Mr. Giotto, Mr. Spock is under arrest. Please escort him to his quarters an’ see that he stays there.” The hard edge to his voice softened, as did his features, as he addressed Spock directly. “Will that suffice, sir?” Clearly Spock had expected something else altogether. Gratitude shone briefly in the dark eyes. “That will be more than sufficient, Commander. I shall offer no resistance.” It took a stern look from Giotto to his men to spur the two of them, who had been rooted to the deck since their arrival, into motion, flanking the former XO as they led him from the room. “An’ gentlemen, no word of what ye’ve seen or heard here is to be passed on to the crew,” the acting-captain added. “I’ll make an official announcement within the hour.” The doors closed on the two security guards amid a chorus of ‘aye, sirs.’ Once the team and prisoner had left, Giotto wasn’t able to contain himself any longer, purposefully fingering the phaser resting against his hip. “Sirs,” he ground out through clenched teeth, “will somebody please tell me what the hell is going on 241


around here?” My thoughts exactly as I took this opportunity to verbally pounce on Scotty. “You mind explaining to me what that was all about? Why his ass isn’t in the brig right now? He freely admitted to killing Jim.” The truth behind those words was starting to hit me, the realization that Kirk was actually dead replacing the initial surge of anger, the numbness that had permeated my body, with a blinding pain. There was a sharp intake of breath from Giotto. His eyes had told him the instant he entered the room that his Captain was dead. This was the first time it had been betrayed to his ears just who was responsible. His glower matched mine as we both looked to the Scotsman. “Did ye not see him, Doctor? In all the years we’ve served together I’ve never seen Mr. Spock look that lost, that broken, that alone. If what he says is true, an’ the Captain died by his hand, I for one know there was no way it was intentional – he had to have been out of his mind or somethin’.” He paused, the breath whistling out of him. “Knowin’ how he feels about the Captain, I figured havin’ to live with what he’s done is punishment enough. I dinna see the need to add to his inner torment.” That oh-so-insightful observation finally made me understand I wasn’t the only one who was hurting. As hard as this was for me, it had to be unbearable 242


for Spock. I had lost a good friend, the ship a beloved captain, but Spock had lost his whole world today, for if he’d actually done what he said, in addition to Kirk being taken so brutally from his life, his Starfleet career was surely over. If he really had killed Jim Kirk, I doubted he’d be able to survive it. But Giotto took it upon himself to argue. “Sir, with all due respect, if Mr. Spock is in fact responsible for the Captain’s death, regulations don’t permit simple confinement to quarters. It is clearly mandated that in the case of a capital offense, the accused must be placed in the brig for the protection of the crew.” “Aye; I understand that laddie, but my decision stands, an’ I’ll take full responsibility for it.” His look became thoughtful, introspective. “Besides, do ye really imagine that Mr. Spock will break out of his quarters and go on a murderin’ rampage?” “No. But then again, I wouldn’t have believed him capable of murdering Captain Kirk, either.” The curt answer was stated matter-of-factly, without the slightest hesitation. It was a good point, a valid one even, but once Scotty had his dander up, had made a decision, getting him to change his mind was akin to trying to dent a solid block of neutronium with nothing but your teeth. In the meantime another thought had occurred to me. 243


“He’s more likely to do harm to himself, given the current situation.” Both men looked to me for clarification, but I found myself unwilling to betray Spock’s confidence, despite the fact that he hadn’t actually confided in me. Ignoring those pointed stares I forged on. “Can we post a guard inside his quarters as well? To make sure he doesn’t hurt himself? At least until I’ve had a chance to talk to him, find out what happened?” My initial anger had bled away, to be replaced with genuine concern for the friend I had left, who was most certainly struggling emotionally with the gravity of the situation. I looked askance at Giotto. The Chief of Security pursed his lips, closing his eyes briefly and passing a hand over his face. “Under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t think of invading Mr. Spock’s privacy that way, but things are anything but normal. As a man accused of a capital murder, and that of a superior officer to boot, he has no say whatsoever in the matter and I’m sure he knows it.” He headed for the console, activating the comm unit there. “Ensign Woo Ling, please acknowledge.” “Woo Ling here, sir,” came the tinny response. “Have you arrived at Mr. Spock’s quarters, yet?” “No sir, we’re almost there.” 244


“Well, when you get there Mr. Spock is not to be left alone. One of you is to accompany him into his cabin and keep watch over him there until I arrive.” “Aye, sir.” “Giotto out.” He depressed the switch, and the comm unit went dead. He turned uneasy eyes to me. “I’m only agreeing to this because you both know Mr. Spock much better than I do, but if I even have the slightest inkling that something isn’t right, I’ll slap him in the brig so fast it’ll make warp ten seem like a snail’s pace.” Looking at each of us in turn, he did an about-face and made for the door, pausing and sparing a small glance at the motionless figure of his CO before marching decisively out of the room. Once he’d left I focused on the orderlies who were watching me, plainly waiting to be told what to do next. I headed for the gurney, feeling as if I were suddenly wearing gravity boots. It was a challenge to get my feet moving at all, those few steps the most difficult ones of my life, seeming to take an eternity. I stopped and gazed down at the body before me, my hand finding a cooling shoulder as my vision blurred without warning. Damn fool! I cursed silently, feeling the irrational need to pummel something once again. Always charging in where 245


angels fear to tread. Acting first and thinking about the consequences later. And this time the consequences finally caught up with you. Damn it! I should have been there! Then maybe you wouldn’t be dead now. Pulling up the sheet to cover the dirt-streaked face of my friend, I instructed the medical team to take the Captain’s body to Sickbay; that I’d be there shortly. Barely acknowledging my orders, the two of them disappeared as the doors swished closed behind them, their grim burden in tow. As I once again became aware of my surroundings, I could hear Scotty speaking in muted tones to Kyle, a gentle hand on the man’s shoulder. “Go on, lad, go to yer quarters. Ye’re excused from duty for the rest of yer shift.” Kyle didn’t have to be told twice. He beat a hasty retreat on shaky legs barely able to support his weight. Now that we were finally alone, Scotty fixed his attention on me. “We need to get to the bottom of this, Doctor, an’ I’m countin’ on ye to find out what happened, an’ why.” I stuck out my lower lip, a fist pressed to my chin. My eyes flicking to his, I answered in a hushed whisper. “I’ll do my best, Scotty, but it’s doubtful he’ll confide in me. Jim’s the one who was his friend, who could get Spock to tell him anything.” 246


“Aye, an’ so are ye, much as the two of ye try to hide it. The Captain’s gone, an’ he’ll need ye more than ever now, Leonard. Right now, right here, ye’re all he has left. The only crewmember he’s likely to talk to.” The Scotsman’s shoulders slumped, and he suddenly looked much older than his years, the events of the last ten minutes aging him much more than the last year had, given the trials and tribulations we’d faced during those first twelve months in space. “I’ll need all the information I can get before I report this to Starfleet Command.”

247


That really hit me. Much like our former First Officer, the ship’s Chief Engineer was a man who valued his privacy; who didn’t go out of his way to Figure 28: I’ll see what I can do cultivate frivolous friendships or engage in trivial social outings, but it was obvious that this had struck a nerve. He may not show it like other members of the crew did, but he was just as fond of, just as loyal to our Command Team as they were. Jim Kirk was beyond the Scotsman’s ability to help now, but by God I knew he’d do whatever possible to keep Spock from suffering any more than was necessary. “I’ll see what I can do.” I watched as his eyes filled with empathy, knowing what lay ahead for me. “Thank ye, Doctor.” And with that I set off for Sickbay, mentally preparing myself for the grim task that awaited me there. =/\=

Out of respect, I buzzed his quarters, waiting for permission to enter. Once the door slid aside and I 248


was granted access, I wasn’t surprised to find Giotto himself in the room, hovering just inside the entrance, barely past the sensor that would trip the door. In spite of the misgivings he had voiced in the transporter room, it seemed he was trying to afford Spock what little privacy he could. Looking past the Security Chief I saw that Spock was seated at his desk, the computer screen on the edge of it crushed almost beyond recognition. Glancing back at the man standing guard, I saw that Giotto had picked up on my thoughts immediately; a shrug of his shoulders and a slight shake of the head told me Spock hadn’t done that while Giotto was here. I turned to Spock once again. He was perfectly still, his face blank, eyes unfocused, his thoughts a million light-years from here. Drowning in the sheer enormity of what he had done. If I didn’t get to him soon, draw him back from the edge, he’d step off the precipice into oblivion, beyond my reach or ability to assist him. My gaze slid to the man standing next to me again. “Can I have a few moments alone with him, Commander?” I asked softly. I watched his eyes move to Spock, then back to me. He must have concluded that in his present condition, the man behind the desk represented a threat to no one. He nodded curtly at me and 249


turned on his heel, walking out the door without a word. I approached the desk slowly, sinking into the chair in front of it. Spock didn’t even seem to notice that I was there. This was gonna be tricky. If I didn’t handle this just right, Spock would never open up to me. I licked my lips, my gaze moving to Spock’s face, but the eyes staring out of it were vacant, empty, bereft. “All right, Spock,” I began softly, “my autopsy showed Jim died from asphyxiation, and there was that cut to his chest, as well as second degree burns to his back and shoulders. I think you owe me an explanation.” No response. The Vulcan compressed his lips, bowing his head, his eyes closed, a muffled sigh the only sound in the room. I tried again. “Spock, Jim’s dead, and by your hand. You do understand that Starfleet’s gonna prosecute you for his murder, right? If I’m going to be able to help you at all, I need to know exactly what happened, and why.” The dark head snapped up at that. “There is no excuse for the crime of which I am guilty; I intend to offer no defense.” The horror of the situation gripped me again, my words colored by the fact that I’d been powerless to 250


prevent the unthinkable. “That’s all well and good, but it’s sure not what Jim would have wanted. If you want to honor his memory at all then you should at least try to give his death some meaning. He went down there as your friend, to stand with you, support you, and wound up giving his life instead.” I took a deep breath, tried to get a grip on my frustration. “I’m not blaming you for that – I know that if you were in your right mind you’d never do anything to hurt Jim. I also happen to know you haven’t been in your right mind for days.” Once again my request was met with stubborn resistance, the silence hanging thickly in the air. “Spock. Please. Tell me what happened. For Jim’s sake. Don’t let this destroy you as well – the Captain certainly wouldn’t want that for you.” I couldn’t keep the note of desperation out of my voice. He started speaking, but it wasn’t really to me, wasn’t really an answer to my question. More like he was trying to work things out in his own mind. “I should have seen it coming. I have always understood her capacity for treachery. I have known for quite some time that she did not want me. In light of that I expected her to do her best to free herself, but never imagined she would bring an innocent bystander into it, knowing the risk, the obvious danger I posed to the Captain in my altered 251


mental state.” At least he was talking. I decided to go with that, see if I could get him to clarify things a little. “Why was she treacherous, Spock? How did she manage to make you hurt Jim?” It just wasn’t in me to say ‘kill.’ Spock knew what he’d done; didn’t need me reminding him of that fact. “She chose the challenge, and Jim as her champion, all the while knowing he would be unable to defeat me given the difference in strength between us and the atmospheric conditions which made physical exertion of any kind so difficult for humans. She knew I would release her after that. She inflicted the maximum amount of pain imaginable on me, all the while keeping Stonn safe, out of harm’s way.” “What do you mean by ‘challenge’? And why would the difference in strength, or Jim’s inability to function to the best of his ability in the thin atmosphere, have mattered?” I still didn’t have a clue as to what had occurred on the planet’s surface. “She forced me to fight for her, with Jim as my opponent, and in the throes of the Plak Tow, I was unable to resist the call of my biology. I asked T’Pau to forbid it, begged her in fact, believing she would require T’Pring to select another champion, but when my request was denied, events were set into motion that could no longer be stopped.” 252


“What events, Spock? I’m still not following you.” “Once challenge was given and lawfully accepted, only the death of one of the Figure 29: Events on Vulcan participants could bring about an end to the combat. It ended with Jim’s death by strangulation at my hands.” He disappeared again, sinking into the unimaginable horror evoked by an image only he could see. Had I heard him right? Vulcans valued peace and the preservation of life above all else. At this time they actually killed to win their mates? And someone had had the audacity to stand by and let this happen without intervening? The universe had gone haywire. “Now wait a minute. Let me get this straight. There was someone officiating at this ceremony who could have stopped things before they got out of hand?” My voice was starting to rise. “Affirmative.” “Then why the hell didn’t she? As a Vulcan, she had to have known what you were capable of, given your current physical state, and that Jim didn’t stand a chance.” I shook my head, confounded by 253


the utter illogic of it all, my indignation flaring again. “So much for Vulcan chivalry; for their strict adherence to pacifism and their refusal to harm others, or to allow others to be harmed.” All of a sudden I was mad enough to spit nails, not so much at Spock but at the situation in general. Jim was dead, and the sheer senselessness of his loss was finally becoming clear to me. “I see what you are attempting to do, Doctor, but it is pointless. I alone am responsible for my actions. Jim trusted me, and I betrayed that trust.” Spock stopped speaking abruptly, and I hope I never see that much pain in someone’s eyes ever again. I tried my damnedest to ease that pain. “You can’t possibly believe that, Spock. Even if you knew that this T’Pring of yours had the potential to betray you, you certainly couldn’t have been expected to anticipate how things turned out.” The more he explained the circumstances surrounding Jim’s death, the more I really began to understand just how hopeless things had been for Spock. To be placed in an extreme situation like that with no one to turn to, no one to help him was unconscionable. “By asking Jim to accompany me, I became responsible for his safety. And I failed to protect him; failed him.” He paused, clearly digging deep, striving for control. After a few moments he continued more evenly, “I have already resigned my commission effective as of today’s stardate, and 254


shall leave the ship immediately and surrender myself to the authorities as soon as we make port at the nearest Starbase. I imagine Mr. Scott has already informed Starfleet of what has transpired?” “He’s waiting for the results of my autopsy before he contacts them,” I confessed hesitantly. “That should have no bearing on the outcome. The Captain is dead by my hand. That should be all the information they require.” The prickly sense of resignation had returned to his voice, which in turn only succeeded in setting me off once again. “Don’t you get it, Spock? We’re trying to help you. If we let them prosecute you, give you a life sentence then it means Jim died in vain. He’s gone and there’s nothing we can do about that, but if I stand by and do nothing to help you I know he’d never forgive me. It’s bad enough this horrific act has cost one life. I’m not about to let it ruin yours, too.” Unbelievably, what sounded like a derisive laugh escaped from the Vulcan. “It is already too late for that, Doctor.” “But if Vulcans really lose the power of rational thought at this time, then Command’s bound to go easy on you. They can’t hold you responsible for something that was beyond your ability to control,” I argued. 255


“I do not wish for leniency. I have killed my Captain, and my friend. I deserve whatever punishment Starfleet sees fit to mete out.” And with that he was gone again, most assuredly reliving the horror of that life-shattering moment. My heart ached for him. This should never have happened; should never have been allowed to happen. I stood, moving to his side of the desk. He remained seated, head bowed, eyes focused on the hands clenched tightly in his lap. I couldn’t stop myself from resting a hand on his shoulder, even though I knew he didn’t like to be touched; had only ever permitted one other that sense of informality. “Seems to me you’ve been punished enough already,” I remarked softly, knowing that he’d be able to pick up on the feelings I couldn’t put into words through that subtle contact. The dark head lifted; troubled eyes met mine. “As have you. There are no words that can adequately express my sincere condolences to you. I wish to offer you my deepest apology for what I have done; what I have taken from you.” “Please Spock, don’t. It wasn’t your fault. As much as it hurts me, I know you’re hurting, too and I don’t blame you, at least not anymore.” The look he gave me told me we’d reached an understanding that day. Brought together by this unimaginable tragedy, by our shared grief, we connected in a way, on a level that wouldn’t have been possible otherwise. 256


“I have to go let Scotty know about my findings, but we’ll talk again soon, I promise.” Not trusting myself to say anything further I gave the thin shoulder beneath my hand a reassuring squeeze and headed for the door. =/\=

As I was on my way to Scotty’s quarters, a page came over the intercom, telling me to report to Briefing Room Three on the double. Scotty was waiting for me there, told me Starfleet Command had contacted him in the interim. As soon as news of what transpired had reached them, the Vulcan High Council had immediately alerted the powers that be as to the nature of the incident. Based on the testimony they’d received it had already been decided Spock wouldn’t be held accountable for Jim’s murder. Starfleet, it seemed, was willing to do just about anything to avoid turning this into an intergalactic incident, but I suspected the Vulcans wanted it hushed up as well. News like this could certainly damage their reputation as the galaxy’s most logical, peaceful race. Even though Spock had already resigned his commission, they pinned a dishonorable discharge on him on top of that. Not surprising in the least. What was surprising is that while all of this was in the works, the higher-ups had seen fit to come up with some elaborate excuse to the delegates at Altair VI regarding why the ship would be arriving 257


late for the inauguration and as to why her Captain and First Officer wouldn’t be attending the festivities as planned. But the Enterprise and her remaining senior officers were still on the hook, expected to do our part regardless. Starfleet was doing its absolute best to make this whole thing just go away, to make everything seem like business as usual, and dragging us along for the ride. As for Command’s treatment of Spock, it was actually more than I’d expected, or dared to hope for. Even though the Vulcan wouldn’t be spending the rest of his days on some remote, godforsaken penal colony, it didn’t change the fact that his life, as he had come to know it, was now over. Somehow we’d managed to keep the gory details from the majority of the crew. Those persons who had been on the bridge that day, heard the conversation between Spock and his ‘wife’ must have had some idea what had happened, but to their credit, none of them ever broached the subject with me, or with Scotty to the best of my knowledge. Since Spock was confined to his quarters and not being held in the brig, most of the ship’s personnel assumed it was due to a need to deal with his grief in private in the wake of Kirk’s death. His subsequent resignation was not an unexpected development in the eyes of the crew. And that was just fine with Scotty and me. They didn’t need to be 258


made aware of the hows or whys surrounding their Captain’s murder. All that really mattered was that Jim was gone. As we’d agreed, Spock and I talked quite a bit over the next few days, and I was starting to feel like he’d come to terms with things, had turned the corner on his grief. But looking back on it now, I realize it was certainly more healing for me. Perhaps that’s what Spock intended, a parting gift, of sorts, for when we finally got to Altair he made good on his promise; left the ship without so much as a goodbye as soon as we arrived and disappeared. I never heard from him again, or even about him, after that. Never knew if he returned to Vulcan in disgrace, did his self-imposed penance on some far-flung colony world on the fringes of Federation space, or if he went somewhere and quietly blew his brains out. One thing was for sure – things on board the Enterprise were never the same. We were assigned a new captain after about four months with Scotty in command, but things never went back to the way they had been. The Enterprise was no longer a happy ship, no longer considered the finest vessel in the fleet, and everything went to hell in a handbasket after that. Crewmen started transferring off left and right, with Chekov being the first to go. I always suspected it was because Jim had been a role model for him, and Spock a mentor in his weird, unfeeling Vulcan sort of way. The young 259


Figure 30: We lost touch over the years

ensign had only been transferred up to the bridge from Auxiliary Control a few months before the incident, and in many ways it just proved too much for him.

Uhura went next, followed closely by Chapel – she had only signed on board temporarily anyway; had only stayed with the ship after learning the fate of her fiancé, Roger Korby, on account of some twisted, totally unrealistic hope that she could form some kind of a relationship with Spock. When he left so abruptly, and under such appalling circumstances, it nearly killed her. Last I heard, she had returned to civilian life and was pursuing her career in biomedical research. We lost touch over the years – I think I was just too painful a reminder for her of all that had happened. There were numerous other nameless crewmen who left over the next year – maybe 50 or so – myself included. I only had a year to go on my last four-year commitment, and retired after the end of our second year in space. Sulu stayed on, as did Scotty. Like her former captain and exec, they were both tied to the ship in ways I couldn’t even begin to understand. For Jim, the Enterprise had been his 260


only true love, for Spock a home – finally somewhere he managed to fit in. For Scotty, she was his heart and soul. Theirs was a symbiotic relationship. You couldn’t envision one, or believe either of them capable of functioning properly, without the other. I never did figure out why Sulu stayed. He was the most talented helmsman in the fleet – could have served anywhere – but he chose to remain with her. Dunno, perhaps it was out of respect for Jim – felt that if he left her, somehow he’d be betraying the Captain’s memory. In light of that, naturally I was quite upset when I learned that halfway through her fifth year in space the ship was lost with all hands. Starfleet was pretty tight-lipped about the whole affair, never offering a full explanation to the general public or even to those of us who had once called her home, other than to say the crew had died valiantly; had given their lives upholding the ideals and principles of the Federation. A load of bull if you asked me. A way for them to justify the deaths of over four hundred people, without taking responsibility for the lives lost. Made me physically ill just thinking about it, all those innocent souls gone just like that, the loss of Scotty and Sulu particularly hard to stomach. Uhura called me several days after the news broke, and it took me a week to work up the courage to contact Christine. She didn’t take it well at all, and 261


it was pretty much after that that we fell out of touch with one another. Uhura and I weren’t strangers over the years, exchanging cards and salutations on holidays, birthdays, etc., and she even invited me to her wedding a couple of years after the ship went down. I didn’t go, though. Whenever she and I talked, we studiously avoided discussing what had happened on Vulcan that day, or the fate that befell the Enterprise a few years later, but it was always like the pink elephant in the room, tiptoed around but never openly prodded or explored, and afterward never failed to leave me feeling bitter and depressed. I suspect it affected her much the same way, and that was why we eventually lost touch with one another. She’d left the service, too and married a civilian – a musician – someone as far removed from the constraints of a military lifestyle as one could get. When I saw her at her husband’s funeral today, surrounded by her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, I realized it had been good for her; she had made the right decision. She looked grounded, centered, at peace with the world, and in spite of the event that had drawn us all here, as happy and fulfilled as I’d ever seen her. But this day had dredged up some god-awful memories as well. Sitting alone in the dark of my hotel room, I raise my glass to my lips, draining the 262


contents. It hasn’t helped. Neither did the three glasses that preceded it. My head slips to my hands, pillowed on the desk in front of me. My eyes close involuntarily, but even that can’t stop the never-ending parade of thoughts marching through my head, or the image of that last smile that disturbs the welcome blackness… I can’t help but wonder if Spock ever thinks of me, of what he lost, what we all lost; the great potential that was the three of us together. In many ways it feels as if the universe itself has been adrift since that terrible day. I don’t think any of us will ever fully comprehend the magnitude of that singular event, or the ripples that were sent out as a result of it, forever changing everyone they touched. As I look back on that momentous day on Vulcan now – and as I did frequently in those first few years after it happened – I realize the pain has not diminished over time, and I continue to blame myself. Had I been there on the planet’s surface, at the ceremony with them as Spock had wanted, would the outcome have changed? Could I have done something to prevent the tragedy that wound up costing so many lives beyond Jim Kirk’s? I don’t know, and unfortunately never will, but even after all this time I can’t shake the feeling that, had I been there as I was supposed to be, I could have made a difference... 263


=/\= Thanks to Ad Astra, home forum to Lil Black Dog and Jean-Luc Picard.

Lil Black Dog has been a fan of the Original Series for almost forty years and is particularly fond of the Kirk-Spock-McCoy dynamic

264


Figure 31: The Gangland Directive – M. Bruffy

265


Scotty gets a little more than he bargained for when a new crew member agrees to go out on a date with him.

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Milk Jespah

He sat in the ship's mess, with a bottle of good Scotch. He knew that his date did not drink alcohol, but he figured, yanno, it's not a date without a little social lubricant. Plus, he was a little nervous. They were friends and shipmates, but he had never, ever asked out anyone on board the NCC-1701. Never! He'd always been good ole, reliable Scotty. It's like no one ever thought of him as having any sort of, well, needs. He sighed. They thought of him as a eunuch in a tunic. But she was a newer crew member, and she was 267


different. She was always so pleasant. And she would smile when she saw him. He didn't kid himself; she probably smiled at most of the people she saw aboard the Enterprise. But when she smiled at him, he felt special, and appreciated. And then he had suggested getting a drink after shift. She had responded in the affirmative, and so quickly! That gave him hope. Perhaps she really was interested after all. Other crew members filtered in and out. McCoy waved but didn't join him; he just grabbed a cup of coffee and left, probably to return to Sick Bay. Nurse Chapel was chatting with some friends and didn't see him. Spock got a bowl of replicated Plomeek broth but had it placed in a to-go container and departed, probably to investigate some anomaly or some such. Even Kirk showed briefly, but it was to chat up some Yeoman who gave him the brush-off. And then. Oh, excellent! She was out of uniform, looking very fine indeed. She had great legs, and was showing them off. He thought of touch –no, keep it cool, Monty, he said to himself. Don't show you're overly eager. Don't blow this. 268


He got up quickly and pulled out a chair for her. They greeted each other and he realized, dumbly, he was still standing up. "Can I get ya a drink, lass?" She nodded and he went to the Replicator and got her a glass Figure 32: Let Me Get That – bluetiger of cold milk. He placed it in front of her and a little of it sloshed on his fingers. He was about to wipe them off on a napkin when she took his hand. "Allow me," she looked at him with mystical eyes and smiled as she licked the milk off his hand. "Uh, M'Ress!" he squeaked out. Her tongue was a little sandpapery but that did not matter. He thought of her mouth elsewhere and his breathing grew faster. 269


"Yes?" she purred. "I canna tell ya how happy I am that you agreed to go out with me." =/\=

Jespah is a Boston-area fan fiction writer. She has been writing since the 1970s.

270


Thanks to Trek BBS, home forum to Rush Limborg.

Figure 33: Devil in the Dark – Madison Bruffy

271


Far from their homeworld, Bajoran settlers came to the Gamma Quadrant to start anew. However, they did not realize that they had claimed a world belonging to the rulers of this far corner of the galaxy: the Dominion...

272


Anvil of the Gods Jean-Luc Picard

Outskirts of New Bajor colony Kotha Tremali system December 2370

T

he settlement was less than a year old, but had made much progress in its development. Surrounding the main square, the Bajorans had constructed buildings reminiscent of the earliest days of their civilization. The only exception was the Town Hall, a domed structure that was a miniaturized version of the Shikina Monastery. Adjoining the center of town were prefabricated housing units, originally sent by the Federation to counter the staggering number of displaced citizens on Bajor. 273


Possibly the greatest feature of the settlement were the vast fields. The katterpods and kava roots had experienced an abundant harvest, enough to trade for much needed medical and farm equipment. The irrigation system, first completed within three weeks, was extended to cover every field over three hecapates. Any ships coming to deliver supplies were encouraged to see it. Unlike a colony on a ringed world on the other side of the galaxy, the Bajoran settlers did acknowledge the usage of technology. They used padds to document transactions, listened to music on entertainment pods, and had a rudimentary wind power system consisting of four vertical turbines (with additional ones to be constructed the following year). It had the sense of community with the amenities of modern life. To Eris, the settlement reminded her of the volunteer work she performed on Demetria, the Dominion’s main agricultural world. Observing from the edge of a cliff nearly ten kilometers away, the Rona’atorn was laid down on her belly with two Doko’torans. The far-viewers were able to zoom all the way to count the number of ridges on the aliens’ noses. These were unlike other creatures that had been coming from through the anomaly. They had effectively staked a claim on this world, whereas others seemed to scout neighboring systems. 274


“We’re going to have to have a word with the Dosi Cartography Office,” said Doko’toran Ronso, a recently promoted Vorta. “Now, now, Doko’toran. This is an observation mission. Leave the Dosi to the Supreme Council to deal with,” replied Eris. With a slight buzz, another Vorta suddenly appeared. It was decided that transporters would be better suited to allow the Dominion to relay information, rather than communicators which could potentially be intercepted. “Any progress on the population, Rona’atorn?” asked the newcomer, Vara'toran Nakrik. “We’ve counted at least 10,000 people in the settlement. We have not made a full count of the surrounding fields yet, but I would estimate another five thousand.” “Very well. The Chelek’toran would like to speak to you.” Nodding, Eris stood up and tapped her wrist strap. The observation team faded away as she materialized at the main Dominion encampment. The Jem’Hadar troops saluted her as she walked to the office tent of the ranking Vorta, located under the hull of the battlecruiser Basilisk. The ranking Vorta was taking a sip from a glass of tulaberry wine as Eris entered and saluted. 275


“Chelek’toran Cerrein.” “Any further updates on this...Bajura...colony?” “The Dosi said it’s pronounced ‘Ba-jor-an,’ and no, sir. They remain unaware of our presence.” “I see,” he replied silently. “Sir, we’ve been stationed here watching them for nearly two weeks. When are we going to do something?” “When the Supreme Council arrives at a decision. These people have settled on one of our planets. The only options would be to move them or...” Eris swallowed, fully aware of what he was about to say. It was then that the Chelek’toran noticed her face and flashed his smile. “Hopefully, it won’t come down to that.” “Yes, sir.” “However, I do believe it is time we introduced ourselves to at least one of these people.” An extraction. That was something Eris enjoyed, and wished to perform more at Intelligence. “Yes, sir!” =/\=

The sun rose over the Dominion camp as the Vorta and Jem’Hadar waited. It would be setting over the colony, an ideal time to find a sleeping settler. 276


Chelek’toran Cerrein inspected the troops, who were all waiting to go into the colony. These people were intruders, and they had to be dealt with. Finally, a transporter beam flashed. Eris, with her three Jem’Hadar bodyguards, held a tall figure. Whoever it was, their face was covered by a black bag. They guided the figure to a nearby chair. Once the Jem’Hadar forcibly sat the person and had him restrained, Eris removed the bag. The figure was an old male, who showed utter terror in his eyes. The female Vorta carefully looked over the man. He was the first Bajoran any of them had physically seen. He wore an earring on his right side; it was so long that it touched his shoulder. His hair was white and trimmed. The cut on his left forehead, a result of the struggle to capture him, started to let blood drip down his face. “What is your name?” Eris asked politely. The old man did not respond. “My name is Eris. What is yours?” she asked again. Cerrein huffed. “M...Mullibok.” “Where are you from?” The old man said nothing. “I’ll just need some information. We’re gathering 277


intelligence on this settlement, and if you answer my questions, we will avoid unpleasantries.” “I came from the fifth moon of Bajor. My home was destroyed, and I wished to start anew!” he said, hoping this would be completed soon. Eris began to pace, contemplating this information. “Please let me go. Baltrim and Keena need me at the farmer’s market tonight.” “Bajor? Never heard of this planet. Where is it?” Mullibok squinted his eyes. “Where are you from?” “Kurill Prime, the capital world of the Dominion. Your colony is an unauthorized settlement within Dominion territory. The more you tell me now, the better chance your people would be able to stay.” She motioned for a chair to be brought to her. “Tell me about Bajor. Is it a nice planet? Where is it?” “It was a nice planet, on the other side of the galaxy. Our world was enslaved for sixty years by the Cardassians.” Eris raised her eyebrow. “The Cardassians?” “Murders, rapists, plunderers. They practically destroyed our world, stripped everything of value before leaving us once we had no more to offer.” “Yet you survived.” The Bajoran shook his head. “Barely.” 278


“You know, if things are so bad that you have to violate our territory to form a colony, I’m sure that we could help. Our agricultural sciences can help you harvest your crops four times a year.” “Bastards as they may be, the Federation doesn’t abduct people in the middle of the night!” The ears of the Vorta perked up. “Federation?” “They’ve been helping us rebuild ever since the Cardassians left. It was the will of the Prophets.” “Prophets? You’re a religious people as well?” “Yes.”

Figure 34: I’ll just need some information

Hearing this, Eris smiled. She could be able to bridge the gap between these people with faith. “Our gods founded and civilized this corner of the galaxy. We can learn much from each other.” “The Prophets are the true gods,” snapped Mullibok. 279


Eris looked to Cerrein. “Doko’toran, contact the Supreme Council immediately,” he said. The young Vorta saluted and headed into the ship. “Thank you for this information,” stated Cerrein as he grabbed his pistol from its holster and shot Mullibok in the chest. His body then fell out of the chair, finally stopping at Eris’ feet. “Gods, why did you do that?!” she exclaimed in shock. “We can’t let him go back to the colony! He’d tell everyone that we’re here.” “For all he knew, we could be on another planet!” “He was old anyway! I’m sure he’ll be at peace with those memories of these ‘Cardassians.’ We just have to find out what to do with the rest of these people.” Barely able to withhold her anger, Eris saluted the Chelek’toran and left, followed by Ronso. “Sir. Bajor, isn’t that the planet which the Hunters visited last year?” “Yes,

Figure 35: We can’t let him go back

280


Doko’toran. Right on the other side of the wormhole.” She contemplated the man’s words further. “Federation. That sounds familiar...” =/\=

The next day, Ronso found Eris sitting on the edge of the cliff. She observed through the far-viewers a bit of commotion in the settlement. Two people were frantically motioning to people. They never opened their mouths, instead relying on body language. She could only wonder what they trying to say. Were these the two that Mullibok was talking about? “Anything, Rona’atorn?” “Other than people who seem to be mute trying to get help, nothing. It seems like a normal day down there.” “What do you think the Council will do?” Eris shrugged. “With any luck, a stern warning, maybe even resettlement. Who knows, maybe we’ll get these Bajorans membership in the Dominion.” “Isn’t that a bit wishful?” “Not necessarily.” Eris noticed that her wrist band was beeping, the signal to beam back to camp. She took a look at the colony before being transported to the battlecruiser. 281


They found that all the Vorta and Jem’Hadar were standing at attention. “Beam him in,” ordered Cerrein. Within seconds, a white-haired Vorta materialized at the encampment. Immediately, all the assembled Vorta officers saluted the Prime Jeddak. Even with her dull eyes, Eris noticed that he was carrying a small jar. “Prime Jeddak Channik, welcome,” said Cerrein as he shook the leader’s hand. “The Supreme Council has been following your reports with much interest. What have you learned so far about these Bajoran people?” “Well, we have found that they worship false gods, that they have been subjugated, and have a benefactor group. In addition, they confirmed that their own world is on the other side of the galaxy.” “The wormhole?” “Yes, sir. The descriptions from the Hunters and Wadi appear to be accurate.” “It would appear then that our situation is worsening,” announced the Prime Jeddak to the assembled troops. “Since last year, we have done our best to observe these outsiders and not involve ourselves. Sending ships to survey our territory is intrusion enough, but little harm. Now, these people 282


have staked claims to one of our worlds, and I’ve been told the Karemma are doing business on their own merits. We must make a stand against imperialization of our territory!” “Yes, sir!” shouted the Vorta and Jem’Hadar in response. “Sir,” asked Eris, “if I may, what do you think we will be doing to them?” Recognizing the partner of Liska, Channik stepped over to her, placing a hand on her shoulder to comfort her. “I’m afraid, Eris, that this is not a decision we are allowed to make.” He stepped away and opened the jar. Before their eyes, the liquid contents extended themselves and started taking a humanoid shape. The Jem’Hadar immediately kneeled while the Vorta lowered their heads in deep respect. Once fully formed, and with the appearance of a humanoid female, the Changeling walked to Cerrein. He did not dare look her in the eyes. “Founder, you honor us with your presence. How may my brigade best serve you?” “I understand that this world has been colonized by intruders from across the galaxy,” said the Female Changeling rather bluntly. “That is completely correct.” 283


“What have you done so far?” “Nothing without the approval of the Founders.” “Good. I want you to exterminate these people. Cleanse the world of the impurities they brought with them. Use them as an example of what happens to those who violate the Dominion.” “A brilliant move, Founder. We’ll get started right away.” Hearing this, Eris was shocked. Having been programmed by the Founders to obey them, she could not voice any dissent. Who was she to refuse the will of a god? That did not stop another portion of her brain from questioning this. Based on the old man’s answers, it was likely the Bajorans had no knowledge of the Dominion’s existence. “Two columns should be enough, right, Eris?” he asked. =/\=

As the sun was setting on the New Bajor colony, the settlers were stunned to find reptilian creatures appear out of thin air. They immediately began firing indiscriminately, downing multiple Bajoran civilians. The survivors were rounded up into the main square, and then executed. Eris watched, with some remorse, as the Bajorans were killed. She doubted they had any expectations 284


that this would happen. It seemed like such a waste, murdering these people for no reason. Those who raised their hands, pleading to stay alive, were gunned down as well. Five people were removed from the town hall, placed on their knees, and shot. Amidst the chaos, Eris saw in the corner of her eye figures running into a housing unit. Holding a plasma rifle, she ran into the home after them. It was a family, the father holding his wife and two children. She could see the fear in their eyes, each of them wondering what she would do. She wondered if she could let them go, find a safe way out of the settlement, away from the rampaging Jem’Hadar. The Jem’Hadar. Their eyesight was three times as good as the Vorta. They would notice them fleeing, even amidst this. She would also be going against direct orders from a god herself. Disobeying an order from a superior officer might get her only some time in the ship’s detention center, but disobeying a Founder? “I am so sorry,” she uttered as she raised her rifle and fired. =/\=

By the time the sun had set, the town was on fire. The Jem’Hadar had gone to every structure, and with grenades or rifles, torched the entire township, leaving no structure untouched. With flame mode on their weapons activated, some had started to 285


destroy the entire fields, killing the livestock that had been brought here. Looking over the corpses, Eris was barely able to hold back tears. Some were burnt beyond recognition; others were wounded, but dying slowly. She saw Cerrein smiling over the carnage, seeming rather pleased with himself. He even drew his pistol and shot a few of the corpses, just to be sure. “Any survivors, Chelek’toran?” “Some seem to have escaped into the fields. We’ll saturate this planet with bioweapons to take care of them.” She could not believe that he was still smiling while saying this. “Eris, this will serve as a warning to others from their side of the galaxy.” He left to continue touring the destruction he had brought upon the planet. As it burnt, she returned to the home of the family she had killed. The structure was destroyed and the bodies burnt. Nevertheless, she kneeled before them and in a tone above a whisper, spoke on behalf of them. “Oh gods of the Dominion, oh founders of right and justice, forgive us for the death of this family, for they knew not their intrusion. So be it.” “Truly,” replied a voice from behind. “How many did you kill, Ronso?” 286


“My platoon killed the colony leaders.” “Gods, what have we done here? Slaughtering them without even establishing formal contact?” “We followed the will of the gods.” “I know, Doko’toran. But...is this all that they will us to do?” The younger Vorta walked over to his superior. “Rona’atorn...are you questioning the divinity of the Founders?” With no other answer, Eris replied simply. “Absolutely not.” =/\= From orbit, the world looked remarkably peaceful. The destruction of the settlement could not be seen; only Cerrein and the First’s visual display devices could see it. Even though the Vorta and Jem’Hadar were immune to all biological and chemical agents carried aboard, the Chelek’toran felt it best to launch from orbit. That way they could easily move to their next patrol zone. Eris stood behind the Prime Jeddak. Cerrein stood at his console in the center of the room, with the First to his right and the ship’s Rona’toran to his right. The crew in the datapits could not see out of the viewport, which allowed them better concentration to their own duties. 287


“Doko’toran Esrik, what have you loaded into the firing tubes?” “Thirty M33 canisters of accelerated pocksen blight. That will handle anyone still on the surface.” He considered for a moment. “You know, I don’t like all that vegetation. Throw in a few E120s of Compound 5-H.” “Yes, sir,” replied Esrik as she entered the new order. “Prime Jeddak, you are about to witness something remarkable.” “To me, Chelek’toran, ‘remarkable’ is when Parliament is able to approve a tax increase on time.” “Then maybe you should put a few Hentek and Sadok’torans in charge.” “The political system we have is fine enough,” the Jeddak said in a stern voice. “Sir, the canisters are ready.” Cerrein allowed himself one final look at the world below. In a few minutes, it would change forever. “Computer, this is Chelek’toran Cerrein, ranking Vorta. Initiate bio/chemical weapon launch, authorization Cerrein 13-Lambda-22.” He turned to his First. “Computer, this is First Taimak’Toral, ranking Jem’Hadar. Weapon launch 288


authorization approved; Code 7-119-Black.” They turned to the Rona’toran, the final piece in the launch sequence. Unlike the other two, “Computer, this is Rona’toran Ghorral, commanding officer of battlecruiser Basilisk. Launch approved; authorization Ghorral 81-Sigma-11. Strike.” He turned to First Taimak’Toral. “Strike,” he said loudly. The two then turned to the Chelek’toran. He kept his eyes on the planet before uttering the single word: “Strike.” Outside, the canisters began their descent into the atmosphere. Nothing could be done for any survivors remaining. As the three commanders continued looking at the world they were rendering lifeless, Cerrein said just loud enough for the bridge to hear, “It is a truly wondrous and beautiful thing, the destruction of worlds.” The Jeddak turned away, followed by Eris. They walked down the corridor until they were far from the ears of the bridge crew. “Gods, sir...” “Never forget, Eris. The gods themselves ordered this.” She held back tears and saluted him. “Yes, sir.” “Now then, the Hentek’toran of the Fleet believes the time will soon arrive when we need to formally 289


introduce ourselves to the far side of the galaxy. I want you to be assigned to observe those people. Gather whatever information you can about them.” Stunned, it took Eris a moment to formulate a response. “Sir...I don’t think I’ll be able to go through with that.” She looked back to the bridge. “All those innocent...” “I have been assured by the Command Staff that there will be no genocides committed. Go to their side, find out anything which might be useful, and bring it back. Though, I’m sure Fleet Intelligence will be able to provide better instructions than I can. It has been some time since I served.” “But still, sir, once they find out what happened, they’ll come screaming through that wormhole for revenge.” “Which is why we must see what they are capable of.” He leaned close to her ear. “Rona’atorn, I am just as appalled by what has happened here today, but we must ensure the survival of the gods.” She said nothing still. “If it means anything, I shall say a prayer for those villagers tonight. My wife will do the same.” Suddenly, she developed a faint smile. That was enough to comfort her. “Thank you, sir,” she replied. She then walked to the turbolift door as she made one last turn to the Prime Jeddak. “Do you really mean that, Jeddak?” 290


Figure 36: I don’t like all that vegetation

“These were innocents, so they do deserve our words on their behalf. I doubt their home world or this ‘Federation’ will be as forgiving.” The turbolift finally arrived. As Eris boarded it, Channik called out, “Eris, remember. You have no idea

what’s begun here.” =/\=

Jean-Luc Picard is a fan fiction writer and gamer from upstate New York.

291


In the aftermath of Trip's death, long buried feelings surface.

292


Sorrow, Shared Honeybee

J

on was working late. Three days since Trip's funeral, he couldn't sleep, he couldn't eat and he just focused on work. His wife, Esilia, had sent him multiple messages, but she also knew him well enough to know when he needed his space.

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Figure 37: Seeing the Truth – bluetiger

He stared absently at his monitor, but the words were blurry nonsense. None of it seemed to matter. He'd lost his chief engineer and best friend. He couldn't lose his first officer and ‌ best friend. He sighed. Most people on the ship assumed T'Pol would be fine, that her Vulcan-ness would let her suppress her grief and focus on her son. But those were the ones who didn't know about the bond, didn't fully comprehend that Vulcans suppress their emotions because they feel things deeper and stronger and more dangerously than humans. Without Trip's calming influence, Jon feared she would come undone. He couldn't let that happen. He got up and headed to her quarters. He walked purposefully through the corridors, nodding briskly 294


to few members of the crew he passed. He knew – just knew – she wouldn't be asleep. He rang the door chime, knowing she would be alone. Lorian had moved to a smaller, interior room across the hall when he turned ten. It gave the boy a sense of independence even though his parents were only meters away. To his surprise, T'Pol opened the door. She was dressed in her nightclothes, and she looked pale, greenish circles under her puffy eyes. Jon inhaled. He hadn't seen her cry in as long as he could remember. She'd been collected at the funeral, standing next to Lorian, who held her arm. "Is there something I can assist with, Captain?" she asked formally. He sighed. "No, I was coming to offer you assistance." She blinked, and to his surprise, she opened the door and gestured for him to come inside. Jon inhaled. The room still smelled like a human lived there, he thought sadly. It was dark, lit only by candles. She'd set up her mediation table in the center of the room. "I know there's nothing I can do to make this okay," he said softly staring at the candles, not her. "But I wanted to say that I'm here for you. And for Lorian. 295


I owe Trip that." She nodded, but she didn't speak. Her lip quivered. It was worse than Jon thought. "May I sit?" he asked softly. "Yes," she replied softly, "I've made some tea. Perhaps you would like some." He nodded. "Yes," he said, heading to the small sofa, "I would." As he sat down, he couldn't help but remember all the happy times he'd had in this room. He and Trip had watched old sports matches and chase films when T'Pol was away. The three of them had played cards more than once, and after he'd met Esilia, three became four. Jon had no longer been the third wheel. Now, T'Pol was going to be the third wheel. She sat down next to him and poured them both tea. "It's still hot," she said, "but it shouldn't burn your hand." He reached over and took the cup. He smelled mint, which made sense. Mint still grew plentifully in the ship's garden. He took a sip and then stared into the cup. He couldn't bring himself to look at her, knowing he couldn't ease her pain any more than she could ease his. 296


"Jonathan," she whispered, "you knew Trip for many years longer than me. You have reason to mourn as surely as I do. It comforts me to know you will miss him." Jon shook his head and took another sip. "I did love him, but I watched you two together. Even before I knew about the bond...it was clear you two had something special." "We did," came the reply, her voice breaking. Jon couldn't stand it anymore. He didn't know if a Vulcan would find it appropriate, but he put down his cup and pulled her into a hug. To his surprise, she returned the embrace tightly. Strange, he thought, as long as I've known her, I've never held her like this. That was Trip's job. He started petting her hair and whispering consolations in her ear. He knew better to tell her it was going to be all right, because it wasn't. He just told her that they would survive. They didn't have a choice. Life was for the living. Her son needed her. The ship needed her. He needed her. He said it over and over. He said that he couldn't run the ship without her. They couldn't complete the mission without her. That losing Trip was almost too much for him to bear. Finally, after he had nothing more to whisper, he 297


brushed a hair back from her pointed ear, kissing her there. He meant it to be affectionate, a soothing, almost paternal gesture. But it didn't feel paternal. He kissed her again. She didn't pull away. He kissed her cheek, then softly on her warm lips. She whimpered a little, and then he kissed her more fully, arms tightening. Finally, she responded, opening her mouth. Figure 38: Shared, Sorrow – bluetiger

He thought briefly of his wife, the beautiful family they'd built. They were only decks away, but it might as well have been light years as he continued to explore her mouth with his tongue, and his hands began running over her body. Her hands ran over his, and it was she who found the zipper of his uniform. He followed suit, unbuttoning her top and pushing it off her body, revealing her magnificent breasts. He groaned just at the sight of them, leaning over to nuzzle them. He wanted to take his time, savor what he had been dreaming about all these years. She gave him no time. She lay back on the couch, wiggling out of her 298


bottoms. Jon helped her before shucking off his own uniform. She grabbed his dick as soon as it was free, stroking it with her hot, strong hands. He moaned. His fingers made their way between her legs. He had no idea how different she was from human – or Ikaaran women. But he worked on instinct, and soon she was wet and moaning. He looked into her eyes, which had always captivated him, but she turned away. Yet, one of her hands went around his back, pulling him closer. The other guided his dick between her spread legs. He pushed inside her, and she sighed with pleasure. He moved frantically. He wanted to make love to her, but it turned quickly into a good, hard fuck. She wrapped her legs around him. He kept moving, touching her intimately until she shivered and let out a long soft moan, clutching at him. It didn't take him long after that, and he spilled inside her as the endorphins washed his mind of nothing but pleasure. He held her close afterward, this time apologizing. She whispered back there was no need, but she couldn't look at him. She hadn't been thinking of him, that Jon knew. Her heart – her katra – was still with her husband. Finally, he disentangled himself from her. He wasn't sure what to do, whether he should shower here or 299


not. But coming home showered would be almost as bad as coming home smelling like Vulcan and sweat wouldn't it? "Can I use your shower?" he asked softly. She nodded. He went quickly, trying to focus not on the masculine items that remained in the tiny bathroom. As he got himself clean, he decided he'd go back to the ready room. It wouldn't be the first time he'd spent the night on the couch there, just the first time he'd done it on purpose. He toweled himself off quickly, gathering his uniform and redressing. She had put on a robe and sat gingerly on the couch, staring at a candle. He wondered if she was meditating. "T'Pol..." he said. Finally, she looked up at him, tears in her eyes, but she didn't say a word. "We...we don't have to speak about this ever, if you don't want to. But if you do, I'll be there. Anytime. Anywhere." Then, she did something that shocked him. She stood up, and she embraced him. She also held her hand up in a gesture he had occasionally seen her do with Trip. He entwined two of his fingers with hers. 300


"I grieve with thee," she said softly. He bit his lip, nodded and then he left. As he walked slowly toward the bridge, he didn't know what he was more afraid of – that it would never happen again – or that it would. =/\=

Honeybee is a teacher and a writer who lives and works in Pennsylvania, with her two dogs. She is one half of the team behind The Delphic Expanse fan site

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Figure 39: T'Pol's Secret – bluetiger

Want to see more of Bluetiger’s artwork? Check her out on Deviant Art =/\= Thanks to Trek Core, home of most of the beautiful screen captures located throughout the Anthology.

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Illustrations Guide Figure 1: The Alabax 9 Affair – Madison Bruffy...........................14 Figure 2: Captain, I implore you.....................................................26 Figure 3: Inferior? Us?....................................................................27 Figure 4: Spock in solitary..............................................................33 Figure 5: You leave me little choice.................................................50 Figure 6: Gains and Losses – Madison Bruffy...............................67 Figure 7: The mouth, it’s the mouth...............................................70 Figure 8: I didn’t mean to wake her...............................................71 Figure 9: A Kiss for an old married couple....................................72 Figure 10: Aren’t you comfortable, Garak?...................................76 Figure 11: Garak looked up from mending....................................94 Figure 12: My … uncle was a follower...........................................97 Figure 13: You’re going to be all right..........................................135 Figure 14.........................................................................................138 Figure 15: What Lies – bluetiger..................................................200 Figure 16: Three to Tango – bluetiger..........................................202 Figure 17: Storm – bluetiger.........................................................207 Figure 18: I gotta say, I was a little ashamed................................211 Figure 19: What Does He See? – bluetiger1.................................213 Figure 20: A talk with a good friend.............................................216 Figure 21: A little help from the EMH..........................................217

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Figure 22: A dream........................................................................219 Figure 23: An awakening...............................................................221 Figure 24: Taste..............................................................................222 Figure 25: Passion..........................................................................224 Figure 26: She is T'Pring … my wife............................................231 Figure 27: The True Final Frontier...............................................236 Figure 28: I’ll see what I can do....................................................248 Figure 29: Events on Vulcan..........................................................253 Figure 30: We lost touch over the years........................................260 Figure 31: The Gangland Directive – M. Bruffy..........................265 Figure 32: Let Me Get That – bluetiger........................................269 Figure 33: Devil in the Dark – Madison Bruffy...........................271 Figure 34: I’ll just need some information...................................279 Figure 35: We can’t let him go back.............................................280 Figure 36: I don’t like all that vegetation.....................................291 Figure 37: Seeing the Truth – bluetiger........................................294 Figure 38: Shared, Sorrow – bluetiger..........................................298 Figure 39: T'Pol's Secret – bluetiger.............................................302 Figure 40: Looking Toward Earth – bluetiger.............................305

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Figure 40: Looking Toward Earth – bluetiger

This is just a taste of Bluetiger’s artwork. For more, look for her on Deviant Art. Thanks to Trek Core, home of most of the beautiful screen captures located throughout the Anthology.

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Acknowledgements Jespah

A

ll of the writers and artists would like to thank Gene Roddenberry for creating such a marvellous universe. Thank you for the playground where we have all found fun, enlightenment, friendship and art. We believe in IDIC and we hope we’ve shown that here in our Anthology. =/\=

Rush Limborg says, “I would like to thank my family, in blood and in bond...to my Lord and Savior...and to Gene Roddenberry and all the rest, for creating a universe that, to this day, still captures our imaginations.” 306


=/\=

Jespah says, “I would like to thank my greatest beta listener – my husband – and my two greatest writing teachers, Kitty Lindsay and George Starbuck.” =/\= Pauline Mac says, “Thank you Kathy Rose for beta’ring this story for me, and making it all the better. You are a LEGEND! And to the wonderful artist, Bluetiger! What can I say other than you honor me with you beautiful artwork of AT&T!” =/\=

Thanks to Archer’s Angels, home forum to Laura McBride.

=/\=

JLP says, “Thanks to my fellow DS9 fans Charlotte and Beth, my creative writing and English professors from SUNY Oswego (Bennet Schaber, Neelika, and Leigh Wilson), along with the writers, actors, and producers of Deep Space Nine.” =/\=

Thank you to Madison Bruffy for all of his fill-in pieces which helped to round out the Anthology 307


=/\=

Thanks to Ad Astra, home forum to Lil Black Dog and Jean-Luc Picard.

=/\=

Thank you to sketch artist Bluetiger for her wonderful work and for always having a knack for knowing exactly what was needed. =/\=

Thank you to cover artist ENTAllat for a gorgeous cover. =/\=

Thanks to Trek United, original home forum to jespah – Uniting the Fans, Looking to the Future.

=/\=

Thanks to The Delphic Expanse, home forum to Pauline Mac, honeybee, Bluetiger and ENTAllat – Everything changes in the Expanse. =/\=

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Thanks to Trek BBS, home forum to Rush Limborg. =/\=

Thanks to Trek Core, home of most of the beautiful screen captures located throughout the Anthology. =/\=

Thanks to you, our readers. You are why we do this.

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HFO-Quadrant-Quadrant and Person-Person : 1  

Prepare to be seduced by a very adult take on Star Trek in all its myriad forms. Readers are cautioned that this anthology contains words an...

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