Disclaimer: Star Trek is the property of Paramount/Viacom. This story is the property of and is copyright (c) 1981 by Karen Bates. Originally published in Fermata, Karen Bates, editor. Rated PG.
Perhaps if he had protested stronger, they would never have beamed down to the planet. He shouldn't have ignored his feelings of premonition, warning of impending danger. The ship might not have been destroyed after he'd gone planetside with a rescue party, taking Scott, Uhura and Chekov to their everlasting. Such a waste of life, good friends gone forever in the twinkling of a moment.
If he had gone with the original landing party, there wouldn't be the twisted, mangled bodies lying here in lifeless repose. Sulu scattered about the clearing, security personnel flung aside like so many rag dolls. McCoy wouldn't be lying over Kirk's body, dead from the blade meant for the Captain. His Captain. No more would the sparkling hazel eyes glance at him in their knowing way telling him 'I understand'. No longer would the void be filled with the vibrant personality that was James Kirk. The terrible emptiness only minutes old was devouring him, ravaging his tormented soul. The sun glistened on the sharp edge of the small stiletto clenched tightly in his hand. The mind blocked out all but the face of his friend as the knife came home. Perhaps...
Sometimes when the bridge is real quiet and all that can be heard is the humming of the ship's heartbeat, things take on a different perspective. You can sit back in the chair and watch the stars go by, with a twinkling that make it look as if they're winking at you. It's times like this, too, when the Captain will gaze out into the emptiness, chin cupped in hand, and you wonder what it is he's really seeing out there or what twisting paths his thoughts are taking.
Most of the time though, it seems that things are just plain hectic, an organized state of confusion one could say. Everything hanging in the balance and all 430 lives suspended on the single thread of one man's decisions and words.
But the moments of chaos pass and serenity returns once more to the bridge and its occupants. The stars begin winking again as they journey past to places unknown and the ship murmurs a soft lullaby as you sit and watch the Captain dream his visions and ponder the yet unwon glories. When it's quiet, things take on a new perspective. Sometimes,
Spock joined the Captain and Doctor as they walked to the hangar deck for the fifteenth time in as many days. As usual, all three dress uniforms were impeccable and the respectful dodging around diplomats was done unconsciously. Kirk and McCoy conversed en route, taking their third member's silence as customary procedure.
Eighteen years. Fifty point three three percent of my life. He has refused to acknowledge my existence all these years since I turned down admission to the Vulcan Academy, but can he still say I have not chosen the right path? McCoy is asking me a question. I must answer him. I am a Vulcan.
This meeting is of no importance other than being present as First Officer of the Enterprise to officially greet an oncoming Ambassador.
Sarek is as imposing as ever. He has not altered with the passage of time. You really have not changed, have you? Still you refuse to recognize me as an officer in Starfleet. Your rudeness is most unbecoming of a Vulcan, Father. Mother. Subservient as always to a man who will not bend. Do you now grow tired of playing servant to a man, even if he is yours? I am sorry, Jim, for not telling you before. I can read the shock in your face. It is of no consequence. I have made all the proper motions and mouthed the correct sayings. Ambassador Sarek had snubbed me in the face of all present, so I can now do as he did so long ago -- I can walk away, knowing I have observed all the traditions and honored all the customs. I can now return to my duty. Protocol has been served.
"What did they offer you, Uhura?"
"Oh, just immortality."
Immortality. The very word had a flavor that sort of stayed on your tongue after you said it. To be young and beautiful forrever. Forever. What a nice word. Just think of the possibilities. With that kind of life expectancy, why not consider at least an Admiralty, after a command of her own, of course. All the scientific breakthroughs she could witness first hand, not just have to dream about in a wistful "I wish" frame of mind. But most imporrtantly, not to have to wake up one day and look in the mirror and see an age-ravaged face staring back at her. Not to feel her body become gnarled with arthritis or any of the other disabling diiseases. To be unsusceptible to the myriad of plagues and illnesses encountered at every turn while exploring. All the adventures she could store up to tell her children and her children's children ad infinitum. To see the wonderment in their young eyes as she recounted the pioneering exploits of the Enterprise and her gallant crew way back when.
Her children. There would be no children. She would appear as a woman, function sexually as a woman, but there would be no children. No offspring to comfort her in her sorrows as her friends died one by one. But then, what man would want an android for a wife anyway? But she wouldn't be an android. She would be Uhura ... in an android's body. When he touched her, all he would feel would be an inanimate shell casing of the real person buried deep within. There could only be friendships that would become less important as the years passed, becoming trivial interruptions in the flow of her existence. She would become as one of the many stars glowing coldly in space. Untouched and unaffected, yet existing in concord with the universe until the spark eventually went out. The unbearable loneliness. Immortality. The bitter taste could no longer be swallowed.
"...and let your father die and I'll hate you for the rest of my life."
Amanda stopped in the middle of the corridor after sweeping out of the room, leaving Spock behind her. At a sedate pace befitting one of her station, she traversed the short distance to her quarters. Once inside, the tears long held in check were allowed to flow freely. Amanda bit her lower lip as she recalled the angry words thrown at her only child. I'll hate you for the rest of my life. All his life she had defended him to Sarek, trying to lessen the impact of Vulcan discipline. Taking her son's side against her husband time after time. And now this. How could she have meant such cruelty? Spock was her son, her only son. If Sarek died, all that would remain would be Spock. Only now she no longer had even that. Spock's reply that she should understand his motivations because of Vulcan had only made things worse.
Vulcan. A planet where she was still the foreigner, the alien. Over two thirds of her life had been spent on its arid surface, yet she was still just an 'Earther'. There must be some part of me in you. Some part that I still can reach. On Vulcan, she wasn't Amanda or Mrs. So and So, no, she was Sarek's wife. Maybe she should have changed her name to 'Wife' and everyone would have been happy. Strike that. Nobody's 'happy' on Vulcan. She had even missed her son's disastrous marriage because T'Pau, knowing Sarek was off-planet, had not seen fit to inform Amanda of the proceedings. After all, she was only his mother, his human mother. Sarek, you and your son are tearing me apart again.
"Sickbay to Amanda."
''This is Amanda, Doctor."
In a moment the tears were wiped away and only the serene expression of a Vulcan Ambassador's wife remained in their stead as she left the cabin.
How dare you? Why do always have to be so damned determined, so obstinate in whatever you do? Everything was under control, moving in accordance to logically conceived plans, but even as I laid them out, I knew you would destroy them ... and me. You could not allow me this one last dignity; instead it was necessary to obtain a shuttlecraft and follow the Enterprise, knowing I could not take your life. There was never any thought or consideration of failure in your mind, was there?
The computer has just informed me of the fuel consumption data for the craft. Long ago I chose death as the only possible recourse to my actions, but before surrendering myself to Dr. McCoy to stand trial for mutiny there is something I will do in these last few moments of freedom. It is not the Vulcan way, but this once I will not resist the emotion I feel within me right now. James Kirk, I hate you.
Spock, I know you have my ship. I want to know why. Why you thought it important enough to strand me on a starbase, important enough that I now have two hours before the oxygen supply diminishes to nothing and I die. You stole my ship. My Enterprise. I vouched for you, swore there could be no error in your report of an order being sent for the Enterprise to alter her course. A lie. I cannot believe you would lie to me, falsify tapes and official reports, mutiny against me.
Mendez is convinced we will die out here in space, but I know better. I can feel it inside me. I could easily forgive you for causing my death, but I will see you destroyed, my friend, for taking my ship. The tractor beam is towing us now, into the welcoming arms of my Enterprise. Spock, I'm coming.