DISCLAIMER: The Star Trek characters are the property of Paramount Studios, Inc. The story contents are the creation and property of Karen Bates Crouch and is copyright (c) by Karen Bates Crouch. This story is Rated PG.
Reasons, Part 3 - Outpost
Karen A. Bates-Crouch
Synopsis: Reasons Parts I & II
Discontented, Christine Chapel seeks a life and career away from the
At Kirk's accidental death, McCoy decides to resign and asks Spock to join him in a new colony venture, unaware of Spock's marriage to T'Mira of Vulcan. Not realizing Christine is on the planet, Spock agrees to accompany McCoy.
T'Mira, wife of Spock by T'Pau's arrangement, cannot adjust to Spock or Calico and dies at the birth of their daughter, Beth. Guilt and jealousy prompt Christine to leave Calico and try starting over again somewhere else. Spock convinces her to stay on Calico, but she still has doubts about his motives.
Two more years pass. A series of mysterious and violent deaths among the colonists is found to be the work of an alien -- The Nameless One. The alien is again trapped inside a cave and the locking mechanism destroyed, but the cost to the Colony is high. Electing to relocate, the Colony moves to the mountains.
The relationship between Spock and Christine, shaky at first, deepens as they deal with distrust and misconceptions.
"Christine Chapel, personal log:
"This is the first chance I've had to make an entry in a long time. Life has been terribly busy the last several months trying to get the Colony resettled before winter sets in. Now that we're higher in elevation the seasons will be more pronounced. I don't mind though. The further away we are from the alien's cave, the better.
"Spock estimated we moved approximately sixty miles from our last location. What a process! It took us months just to break down the pre-fab buildings, it would only be a reminder of what had been. Instead, most of the men and a few of the women came ahead and began the building process while the rest of us did the actual moving of the Colony.
"Thank goodness it's over now. When I think back on this last year of relocating the Colony, I can't help but wonder how we all survived the labor and separation of families to accomplish it. Beth and I stayed behind while Spock went ahead. She missed him the most. I had him through the bond. Still, I'm glad we're together as a family once more.
"I prefer this Colony to the last one. The scenery is breathtaking up here in the mountains. The valley spreads out below us and contains a small herd of hooved creatures we're hoping to domesticate for purposes of labor and transportation. To the west is a river fed by snow from the upper range of mountains which empties out into an enormous lake through a waterfall several miles away to the east.
"Not all of the buildings have been completed, but families with children have small bungalows and there's a hall for married couples, a separate hall for singles, and a large central hall for gatherings of the entire Colony. The remainder of the buildings probably won't be constructed until spring now that the weather has turned cold and the rain begun. In another month the snow will be here.
"I can tell already it's been a long time since my last entry simply by the length of this one. Spock occasionally still teases me about keeping a log, but I remind him that one day Beth and her children will want to know of the Colony's origins. He always ends up agreeing with me on the subject.
"Beth is five now, going on six. She's far in advance, intellectually of the other children her age, but that's to be expected from her heritage. Thank goodness the Colony planned far ahead and brought an enormous supply of educational tapes and materials. Her mind has far too much potential to waste.
"Spock just came home, so I'll end this tape for now."
* * *
Christine turned down the lamp and crawled into bed, listening to the howling wind outside their tiny cabin. It'd been raining for days and was showing no sign of letting up in the near future. There'd already been a mudslide a half mile away, washing a chunk of the mountain into the river below. The sooner the rain turned to snow, the better it would suit her. Pulling the extra quilt up from the foot of the bed, she covered herself completely. If it got any colder she would move Beth to this bed so they could stay warm together.
The rain had ruined part of their supplies, so Spock and several others had gone in search of food. They'd been gone two days, but Christine could still feel Spock through the link and had the knowledge he was alive and well.
Not sure of how the rest of the Colony would react to any kind of telepathic bonding, they'd kept its existence to themselves.
The experience of the Colony's reaction during the crisis with the Nameless One had driven the lesson home that not everyone could deal with all kinds of information or situations.
She loved Calico and life in the Colony had been good, but sometimes she wished there were more. Each day brought its own new challenges, but life moved at such a snail's pace it was difficult except in retrospect to see any progress.
Because they'd been forced to move the entire Colony, they were back to where they'd started six years ago when first coming to Calico.
Sleep continued to evade her, so Christine rose and pulled the quilt around her, walking to the next room. Once the lamp was relit, she selected a book and began reading. Having read it three times before, it didn't hold her complete attention. Once or twice Christine thought she heard voices, but nothing could be distinguished clearly through the wind and pounding rain.
Checking on Beth and finding her sound asleep, she came back to the chair and tried reading once more.
With a loud crash, the door was flung open and three men stood in the doorway, allowing sheets of torrential rain into the cabin. A cry of dismay came to her, but was cut off at the sight of the raised disruptors. Klingons. How could they be here, on Calico, inside her cabin? How many were there? Forcing herself to stay calm, Christine remained silent, waiting for them to make the next move.
A sound was heard from the next room and one of the men turned his disruptor toward the disturbance. Christine ran for the doorway, hoping the blast would strike her instead of her daughter.
There was a burning sensation in her leg even as she threw her body over Beth's. Holding Beth close to her, Christine sat defiantly on the floor, biting her lip against the excruciating pain.
The man aimed once more, but was stopped by the leader.
"What do you want?" she asked, even though the odds were against any of them speaking Standard.
Kolos examined the two on the floor, his attention on both the woman's reaction and the child's appearance. A curious combination. A woman who reacted rationally and without fear and a child with Vulcan features. Most interesting and possibly worth further investigation. He was the only one who spoke fluent Standard, but it would not do for the enemy to know they could be understood. "One of you remain here," he ordered his men, "the other come with me. Do not allow her to escape."
Christine watched as one of the men sat down in her vacated chair, disruptor held ready and the other two departed. Why stand guard over a helpless woman and child? Why not just kill them and move on? Beth stared intently at the stranger, the first she'd ever seen. Christine shivered from the cold and Beth took notice. Ignoring the strange man, she walked over to the fallen quilt and tugged on it, pulling it back to where Christine lay.
Beth wondered why the man was getting so upset about her getting the quilt, after all, he'd hurt Christine in the first place ...
Christine held her breath in fear as the disruptor followed her across the room, but when nothing happened, she let it out again, slowly. Was this going to be a game of wait and see if he shoots this time?
* * *
Spock shifted the heavy pack on his back and briefly contemplated the eternal sunshine of Vulcan as a trickle of rain crept inside his slicker and ran down his back. Would this ghastly weather never break? They were only three miles from the Colony, but the slippery mud was slowing them down considerably. He could hear Leonard cursing the mud behind him as they both brought up the rear. The six men ahead of them were loaded down with meat on shoulder harnesses and each pulled a small travois also loaded with game. Since Spock had refused to handle any of the meat, he and McCoy carried the expedition's supplies.
A whiff of smoke caught his attention, then it was gone. Smoke, in this torrential downpour? His curiosity peaked, he motioned those ahead to continue while he investigated something off the trail. Leonard grumbled about Vulcan curiosity that killed the cat, then followed Spock rather than the main group. After a time, even McCoy could smell the smoke that had initially attracted Spock's attention. It grew heavier until they broke through the brush and walked on freshly burned forest. McCoy whistled at the path of burned destruction that slashed across the mountainside. A mile further on, they found the source of the fire, still smouldering.
It had been a craft of some sort, though now it was little more than a tangled mess of metal and ashes. "Any ideas, Spock?" Spock set his pack aside and took a closer look. It was familiar in an odd sort of way. He suddenly felt a sharp pain in his mind, then it was gone. Christine. Something had happened to her ... "We must return to the Colony immediately," he ordered McCoy, releasing the straps that held the Doctor's pack in place. The pieces of the mystery had come together and it was not a pretty picture ...
"What's going on? Why the hurry?"
"This is a Klingon scout ship," he explained, impatient with McCoy's delay. "They've already found the Colony."
Throwing the packs aside, both men pushed toward the Colony, unmindful of the rain and mud. The complement of a scout was fifteen, assuming all had survived in the escape pod. Fifteen armed Klingons against an unarmed Colony would be nothing more than a massacre.
Sending McCoy to warn the rest of the hunting party, Spock went the rest of the distance alone. Concealed on the hillside, Spock surveyed the Colony below and noted movement of persons. Klingons in groups of two, were systematically rounding up the population and forcing them into the largest Hall. The rain and wind covered any sounds, thus keeping the rest of the Colony in the dark as to what was happening. He counted four distinct groupings of Klingons, plus one that moved freely in and around the Colony.
Working his way down the hillside, Spock stayed hidden until he'd come to the far edge of the Colony where his cabin was situated. Theirs was the most isolated, by choice, and he hoped Christine and Beth were still there, rather than the Hall. Standing next to the wooden structure on the side nearest the forest, Spock listened for any sounds from within. He could hear Christine reading a story to Beth, but the voice had an edge to it from the pain he'd felt earlier. Logically, there had to be someone else inside stopping her from treating the wound and relieving the pain.
* * *
There was a rustling behind him and he whirled, knife in hand. McCoy stepped from the trees and stood close beside him. "Thought I'd find you here," he whispered.
"Where are the rest?"
"Trying to evacuate the outer buildings. They're hoping to lay a trap for a few of our visitors in the cabins they haven't cleared out yet." McCoy looked down at the old fashioned gun in his hand. "What I wouldn't give for a decent phaser and tricorder right now ... "
"Christine and Beth are inside. I need you to distract the guard so I can come in through the rear window," Spock requested.
"Shall I walk up and knock on the door?" Distract an armed Klingon? Distract?
"That is a possibility," Spock concurred. "Give me time to go behind the cabin, then move."
"Distract a Klingon, he says. No problem," Leonard muttered to himself. "I'll just walk up to the door and announce myself. Hello, I'm here to distract you, would you care to be distracted?" Actually, now that he thought about it, knocking on the front door wasn't such a bad idea. "Here goes."
Counting to ten to give Spock a bit of extra time, McCoy moved to the edge of the cabin and checked for anyone who might see him. When the coast was clear, he quietly walked to the front of the cabin, rapped on the door and called out for Christine.
Beth opened the door, and he greeted her as if he'd strolled over for a visit. The surprised look he pasted on his face at the sight of the Klingon was nothing compared to the one on the Klingon's face when Spock attacked from behind.
Spock finished tying up their unconscious prisoner while McCoy examined Christine. "How is she?" Spock asked as he joined them on the floor. His wife was drawn and pale, shivering inside the quilt.
"Not good. Infection has set in already. Thank goodness she kept some of the medical supplies here in the cabin or I'd have no way of treating her."
"Can she be moved?"
"Is there a choice?" McCoy replied.
"No. We must get Christine and Beth away from here."
"There's no place to go," Christine objected weakly. "Beth wouldn't last long out there in the cold and rain."
"They'll be back soon," Spock reminded her, his hand touching her fevered forehead.
"Why are they here?"
"We found their craft destroyed four miles from here. Their purpose is unclear at the moment."
A moan was heard from their bound prisoner and conversation was terminated. "Perhaps we should ask our friend," McCoy suggested.
"As I recall, Thaline II can be used as a truth serum on Klingons ... "
"That's a vitamin compound," Christine remarked. "We use it all the time for the children."
"Doesn't like their chemistry, Chris," Leonard grinned. "Shall we, Spock?"
Making sure Christine was comfortable, Spock left Beth with her as they moved the Klingon into the other room for questioning. There was no reason to subject either Christine or Beth to an interrogation.
* * *
The prisoner spoke no Standard and Spock's command of the Klingon tongue was not as fluent as Romulan, but they were able to eventually piece the story together. The scout ship had been sent in advance of the cruiser to check this solar system for a planet suitable for a listening post. Storm conditions on Calico had forced the small craft down in a heavily wooded mountainous area, destroying it in the process. Ten of the fifteen man crew had made it safely into the escape pod and jettisoned, the other five had died in the crash. Kolos had decided not to risk exposure of the Empire's plan to establish an outpost on this fringe planet and was now rounding up the Colony's inhabitants for systematic disposal after information had been gleaned.
Kolos had been intrigued by Christine and Beth, leaving them here to be investigated later. Any mercy Spock may have shown to Kolos was dispelled when he heard of the plans for his wife and daughter.
When no more information was forthcoming, McCoy administered a sedative to knock the Klingon out for at least twelve hours. Checking first that all bindings were secure, they fastened him to the massive bedframe and left him there.
Closing the door between the rooms, Spock and McCoy sat next to Christine again. They'd moved her near to the fireplace for extra warmth. "What did you find out?" she asked.
"They were scouting Calico for an outpost when the weather forced them down," McCoy began. "They weren't expecting to find a Federation Colony."
Christine winced as she shifted positions. She wasn't sure which was worse, the pain or the nausea. "How many?"
"Ten, counting our friend. How's your leg?"
"Fine," she lied. McCoy would fuss if she mentioned any problems and they needed to concentrate on the matter at hand, not her health. "Nine men with disruptors can do a lot of damage in a short amount of time," she observed.
"The weather will slow them down," Spock suggested, "it could also work to our advantage."
"Speaking of advantage," McCoy interrupted. "I wonder how the rest of the men who were with us are doing?"
"I will investigate," Spock stood up. "You remain here with the disruptor."
"Are you crazy, Spock? I couldn't hit the broadside of a barn with one of these," McCoy protested. "You stay and I'll go."
"I have no time to argue, Doctor." Spock handed McCoy the weapon and sheathed a spare blade in his boot, hidden from sight. "I shall return as quickly as possible. Shoot anyone who comes in."
"What bout you?"
"I will give a signal. Check the prisoner and keep everything locked."
"Be careful, Spock," Christine said. "Don't take any unnecessary chances."
* * *
Leaving through the back window, Spock moved quickly to the trees and circled the camp. He could only hope they weren't scanning the area electronically. The rain slashed at him as he pushed through the underbrush, halting as voices filtered his direction. Pulling his knife, he crept closer, intent on the two Klingons deep in conversation.
There was a whining of a disruptor from the center of the Colony, cutting through the wind, heard by the sensitive Vulcan hearing. Time was running out for the Colony.
The two men separated, one going toward the Hall, the other to one of the cabins. Spock silently stalked the lone Klingon, pacing him as he moved from building to building, checking for any persons that may have been missed in the earlier sweep. It went against his grain, against everything he believed in, but knowing it was the Klingons or the safety of his family, Spock attacked, slicing the throat before a cry of warning could be given.
Dragging the body into the woods, he threw it into a ravine of rushing water, appropriating the disruptor. Better armed now, he went in search of others.
* * *
Kolos kicked the chair from his path as he paced the length of the Hall. This was a lousy, stinking excuse for a planet and that interminable rain pounding the roof was driving him crazy. The one he'd been searching for hadn't been found yet. The Vulcan child needed a Vulcan parent. The woman in the cabin was probably the mother, which meant the father was the one he wanted. Worse, three of his men were missing. They'd found two of the colonists armed with primitive weaponry in one of the cabins, but even after questioning, they didn't admit to the location of their comrades.
There was no more time to waste. The cruiser would be in the system soon and contact must be made. Their communications specialist had perished in the crash along with the equipment. The escape pod's transmitter had been smashed upon landing. That left the Colony's equipment, but it was ill-suited for the purpose. They had to locate the Vulcan. If anyone on this godforsaken planet could adapt it, he could.
It never occurred to Kolos that his supposition could be in error, that the Vulcan he believed lived in the Colony could effect repairs needed. He was a desperate man in a bad situation and was grasping at any straw possible.
Pulling his disruptor, Kolos aimed it at the Colonist nearest him and fired. There were too many humans in the room to think clearly ...
* * *
Christine fought the nausea that wouldn't go away and lost. McCoy cradled her head, helping her empty a stomach that was already depleted. Drained of strength, she leaned back on the pillow, too weak and tired to help clean the floor. Leonard was puzzled by the symptoms Christine was exhibiting. The leg was infected, but the nausea was asymptomatic of this kind of injury.
"Chris, how long has this been going on?"
"A week," she answered, pulling the quilt closer against the chill. "I think I'm pregnant."
"Congratulations ... I think." He felt her forehead. "This fever's too high, we must bring it down."
Beth hovered nearby, upset by the sight of Christine on the floor and violently sick. Something was wrong. When McCoy went into the next room to fetch cool cloths, Beth pulled on her cloak and slid back the bolt. Christine was too ill to notice the little figure slip out the door and pull it shut behind her.
The rain buffeted her slight form as she struck out on her own to find Spock. Attracted by the lights in the large Hall, she turned her steps that direction. When she was not far from her destination, a large arm grabbed her from behind without warning and she was carried into the Hall over the Klingon's shoulder.
* * *
"Where's Beth?" McCoy asked as he walked back into the room.
"Isn't she with you?"
"I left her with you ... "
"She must have gone for Spock!" Christine tried to rise, but McCoy stopped her.
"I'll go for her, you stay here." He laid the disruptor next to her, but she pushed it back toward him.
"Take it, you'll need it more than me," she ordered. "Find her."
McCoy pulled the slicker on and opened the door, torn by indecision. Beth was alone out in the storm, Christine was alone with a bound Klingon and too sick to move. Where was Spock when he needed him? Seeing the look on Christine's face, he knew there was no choice but to go out in the storm to search for the lost child.
Pulling the door shut behind him, he faced the rain and wind, following the tiny footsteps in the mud before they were washed away.
* * *
McCoy stood in the shadows and stared helplessly as first Christine was taken inside the Hall and then the Colonists were herded outside and into the large storage facility meant for grain. The building had been boarded over against the bad weather, leaving only the main door as an exit. Three Klingons were left to guard the shed, but were spaced so far apart, McCoy couldn't shoot one without alerting the other two. Slinking back against the building, Leonard went in search of Spock.
* * *
Spock wiped the knife on his pant leg and sheathed it. With the exception of the three guarding the shed and the three left inside the Hall, he'd done all he could outside. Now Christine and Beth were both in Klingon possession. Spotting McCoy against the far building, Spock made his way over to him, for once thankful of the heavy rain which hid his movements.
"Spock! Where have you been? They have Christine and Beth ... "
"I know. What happened?"
"Beth snuck out to look for you while I was taking care of Chris. I went looking for her. They apparently found her and then went for Chris," McCoy explained. "I'm sorry, Spock."
"They still want something," Spock deduced, "otherwise they would have leveled the Colony by now."
"Why keep Chris and Beth separate from the others?" McCoy asked suddenly. "What makes them so special?"
"Why, indeed," Spock repeated. They were still outnumbered. The other members of the hunting group had each been captured in turn, leaving only the two of them free. Four of the ten Klingons were dead, six remained alive and armed.
"Is there any way we can knock out those three guarding the shed?" McCoy inquired. "We lack numbers and firepower at the moment."
"I have acquired four disruptors."
"Terrific, now all we need are some people to use them."
"Perhaps if you were to distract the guards, I could break into the rear of the shed."
"Wait a minute. Why is it I'm always distracting and you're always rescuing?" Leonard objected.
"The planking is two inches thick. Could you break through it with your bare hands?"
"Position yourself as far away as possible and fire on them. I will force my way into the shed and give four of the men disruptors."
"What about Chris and Beth?"
"The Klingons will eventually use them for bargaining. When they do, we will give them anything they want." Spock discouraged any more discussion on the topic by moving away rapidly toward the rear of the shed.
McCoy slipped away in the opposite direction, putting as much distance as possible between himself and the Klingons, then began firing. Not really trying to hit one of them, he fired wildly to simply distract them and confuse their perception of his position.
Spock waited until he heard the initial whine of the disruptor, then slammed his foot through the planking. Next using his hands, he pulled at the wood until a large hole was made. Members of the Colony streamed through, racing for the woods.
Spock literally pulled four men he trusted from those slipping through and handed each a disruptor. Giving them orders to fire solely on the guards in front of the shed, Spock left the battle to them and made his way to the Hall.
* * *
Kolos heard the disruptor fire and knew the object of his search had arrived. The remaining guard who was conscious took up a position to the side of the Hall while Kolos stood near Christine and Beth. Soon there was silence outside except for the sounds of the storm which still raged. "Be warned," he yelled, "I have hostages."
"What do you want?" Spock questioned.
"An even exchange, the Vulcan for the woman."
"The child, too."
"Agreed." Kolos motioned Beth to leave.
Beth hesitated leaving Christine here with these men. Christine nodded for her to go and she went out of the Hall to her father.
Once Beth was outside, Spock handed the knife to McCoy and entered the Hall over the Doctor's protests. Two disruptors were trained on him as he approached Kolos. "What do you want with me?"
"I must contact the cruiser," Kolos explained. "Modify the radio so I can." The command was punctuated by a disruptor bolt pulled back.
"If I am unable?" Spock didn't look at Christine. The less Kolos knew of their relationship, the less leverage he would have over Spock.
"She dies," the Klingon replied coldly, shifting his weapon to point at Christine.
"Once you have contacted your ship?" Spock pushed.
"We will leave peacefully," Kolos promised with a smile.
As Spock tore apart the Colony's single radio, Christine maneuvered herself into a sitting position to watch him work. She'd heard the exchange and knew the Klingons had no intention of allowing any of them to live. What Kolos and his men didn't destroy, the cruiser would. This was the end of Calico and all her inhabitants.
Kolos noticed the intensity with which the woman observed the Vulcan. Motioning his man to keep a close watch on the Vulcan, Kolos set his disruptor aside and lowered himself to sit beside Christine.
Christine stiffened as he touched her hair and then her face. She knew his game, his ploy to annoy Spock into making a rash action that would bring his death. Christine folded her arms in defiance The game wouldn't work. Spock was a Vulcan and impervious to such things.
Kolos grew angry as it became evident that his plan wasn't working. Striking Christine viciously, he grabbed his disruptor. He didn't need her now that the radio was being repaired.
"Kill her and the radio will never be completed," Spock said calmly, never looking up from his work.
"You are in no position to bargain," Kolos growled.
"You are in no position to demand," Spock reminded him. "This building is surrounded by eighty four colonists, four of whom have disruptors."
"I have you."
"Two people out of an entire Colony? Our deaths are not that important."
"Then why bother to repair the radio?" Kolos challenged the logic.
"It serves my purpose."
"What purpose is that?" Kolos raised his disruptor again, irritated at this man who calmly sat there working while they discussed his death. Either the Vulcan was very brave, or very stupid.
"This is a rare opportunity to study one of the lesser species first hand," Spock elaborated, noting the tightening of the finger around the firing mechanism. Klingons could be such irrational creatures when sufficiently angered.
Kolos leaned over and jerked Christine off the floor, holding her tightly by the arm. She swayed, then doubled over with abdominal cramping. Kolos was caught off guard by her sudden and violent illness and cast her away from him in disgust.
Spock threw the radio at the Klingon guard, knocking him unconscious and sprang at Kolos. The two men grappled, each fighting without rules. It took time and two broken ribs, but Spock eventually knocked Kolos out. Shouting for those outside to come in, he rushed to where Christine lay on the floor.
McCoy was beside her instantly, checking for a pulse. She was so still and pale. Spock gathered her into his arms and carried her into one of the smaller side rooms. Christine smiled weekly, but could offer no assistance. She was so tired ...
Peeling back the quilt still wrapped around her, McCoy was dismayed at the sight of so much blood. Sending Spock for his equipment, McCoy used the time alone with her to perform a more thorough examination.
"How bad, Leonard? Have I lost the baby?" she gripped his arm as another spasm of pain hit.
"It's too soon to tell, you've lost a lot of blood..." By the time Spock returned, McCoy had removed the stained quilt and wrapped her in a clean blanket found in a storage cabinet. The cramping had subsided some. The longer they could keep her quiet and undisturbed, the more chance there was of saving the unborn child.
"What's happening outside?" McCoy asked quietly as he ran his scanner over her. She was stabilizing slowly if these readings were to be trusted.
"The three Klingons still alive have been placed in confinement for the moment. They're still gathering those who escaped into the forest, but it appears at least twenty were killed." Spock sat beside Christine, pleased by the diminishing of pain that came through the bond. "How do you feel?" he asked.
"Better. Where's Beth?" She would wait with the news of their other child until it was certain she would lose it.
"With Maggie. She is asking for you, but I told her you needed to rest for a time."
"Talk to her, explain what has happened." Christine held his hand. "She's confused right now. I was hurt and you were gone..."
"I will speak to her," he promised. "Rest. I will return shortly."
* * *
Kolos paced the small enclosure, furious at the turn of events. The cruiser would soon be in the area. If he couldn't contact the ship he'd be stranded on this Federation planet. Circling the room once more, he tested the door and window for possible escape routes. The door was securely bolted from the outside and was guarded. The window was too small for him to get through.
A drop of rain hit him squarely on the nose and he growled in irritation, then stopped. Looking upward, he waited for another drop to strike. There, a tiny crack in the roofing. Ordering the man who was awake to stoop down, Kolos climbed onto his shoulders and had the underling hoist him upward. Unmindful of the pain, Kolos clawed at the ceiling first with his fingers, then a buckle from his uniform. Finally, the crack was widened enough for his hand to go through. The rest was easy in comparison. The hole was quickly enlarged until it was large enough for a man to go out onto the roof. It was still dark and raining, but Kolos was glad for the cover. Pulling the other man up to the roof, they left the third one behind, resting peacefully.
* * *
Christine awoke to find Beth perched solemnly on a stool beside the bed. Smiling, Christine greeted her daughter and asked how long she'd been waiting.
"Two point three hours," came the quick reply.
Smiling again to cover her amusement at the seriousness of the young girl, Christine was once again reminded that this child, even though she loved her as her own, was the product of Vulcan parents and should be respected as such. "Thank you for your accuracy, Beth. I appreciate it. Are you ready to go home?"
"Father says we will remain here until you are feeling better."
"Nonsense. Why don't you find him and tell him I'm ready to go now."
Even as Beth hopped down from the stool, Spock appeared at the door. "Are you certain you feel strong enough to be moved?"
"I can't rest here with all that racket in the other room," she argued. "Please, Spock. I want to go home to my own bed."
Knowing it was impossible to argue with his wife ... and win when she had her mind made up. Spock pulled out another blanket from the cupboard and bundled her up completely. Beth put on her own coat and together the tiny family left the Hall. It was daylight, though still overcast and rainy. Spock carried Christine while Beth ran ahead to open the door.
Going directly to the bedroom, Spock deposited Christine on the large bed and unwrapped the blankets. "Stay," he ordered, knowing her recalcitrant nature. "I must return to the Hall for a time, but Beth will be here to take care of you or come for me if there's a problem."
"Sometimes you're worse than a mother hen," she scolded with a chuckle. "I'll be fine." Already tired from the move, she wanted nothing more than to sleep. She still had the baby...
Waiting a few minutes until she was asleep, Spock stole from room. Beth rose from the hearth and came to him. "Are you going away again?"
"Only for a short time," he assured her. "I will send Dr. McCoy when I reach the Hall."
"Will that man be back?"
"He is locked up in the small shed behind the Hall." Spock made a mental note to check on the prisoners when he returned. "He will not bother us anymore." Stopping long enough to build a roaring fire in the fireplace, Spock looked in on Christine one last time, then left for the Hall.
* * *
Kolos hunkered down in the bushes, his hand itching for a weapon. Families were dispersing to the various cabins in small groups. Many remained in the Hall. There'd been no alarm raised, so their escape was not yet realized.
The cruiser would soon be here. There was a chance they would do a routine scan of the planet and pick up his readings, but there was no guarantee they would take the time. This area was technically inside the Federation territory, the cruiser would not stay long unless contacted.
Considering the alternative, Kolos placed the possibility of contacting his ship on the bottom and placed revenge at the top. If he couldn't leave this place, no one else would either... The cabins
were isolated, much could be accomplished.
* * *
The guard with the disruptor stood aside and allowed Spock to pull back the bolt on the shed containing the Klingons. His hearing had already discerned no sounds or movement within the shed beyond the sleeping Klingon, but he swung the door back anyway. Just as he expected, they were gone ... through the roof. By the amount of accumulated water on the floor, the prisoners had been gone for some time. "Sound an alarm and gather everyone at the Hall," he ordered, setting off for his own cabin, stopping just long enough to grab McCoy.
The door to the cabin was standing open, letting the rain inside. Spock knew he was too late, Kolos had already been here. There were signs of a struggle in the main room and they found Christine on the bedroom floor tangled in the blankets. Spock pulled her limp body to his own. "Christine..."
She stirred in his arms, but the movement was slight. He saw the bruises on her face darkening and felt his anger doing the same. "Christine, where's Beth?"
"He ... took her, I tried to stop him..."
"I'll take care of her, Spock. Go after Beth," McCoy ordered, taking Christine from him. "Hurry."
* * *
Darnon shifted the small form to his other shoulder and tried to keep up with his commander. The girl had fought so hard they'd been forced to knock her out so they could travel with any speed. He wasn't sure what Kolos' plan was, but they were moving further away from the Colony, pushing towards the higher elevations.
The temperature was dropping rapidly and the rain was turning to snow. Kolos turned his collar up and kept moving. It would not take long for the Vulcan to discover the girl had been taken and set out on their trail. They had to go higher, where it was colder. Vulcans were from a desert planet. If he survived the cold long enough to find them, he would never withstand it to defeat Kolos and Darnon.
Spock found their tracks behind the house and followed them through the mud ever higher up the side of the mountain. He pulled his cloak tighter and pulled on a second pair of gloves he found in the pockets. It was only mid afternoon, but the temperature was dropping. Falling snow was beginning to obliterate the tracks, making it more difficult to see the indentations. He was concerned about Beth, this weather was much too cold for her. The sight of Christine, bruised and beaten on the bedroom floor played over and over in his mind. These were not men, they were animals who preyed upon women and children.
Twilight was upon him before he spotted them up ahead on the slope. They hadn't seen him yet, which would give him the advantage. From their heading, Spock determined they were heading toward the pass to avoid any higher elevations. The air was already thinning, a comfortable level for Spock, a disadvantage to the Klingons who thrived in a heavier oxygen content. Circling to the west, Spock was able to gain time and distance because of the thin air which forced the Klingons to slow down and take occasional breaks. Reaching the break before them, Spock covered his tracks before climbing a rock overhang to wait. He was a patient man ...
* * *
"Christine ... Spock," Maggie called out, knocking on the door.
"In here," McCoy answered.
Maggie took one look at the floor and rushed to Leonard's side.
"What can I do to help?"
"I've done what I can, but we need to move her to the bed," McCoy answered wearily, setting the last of his instruments aside. The punishment inflicted by Kolos was worse than originally thought when he'd found her on the floor. It was a wonder she was still alive.
Find them, Spock.
* * *
Later, after they'd left Christine asleep and finished straightening the main room, both sat in silence. Maggie rose once to make them hot drinks and Leonard to stoke the fire.
"What's the news from the Hall?" he asked finally.
"Not good," she admitted. "We found twelve more bodies in some of the outer cabins. I came over here to check on Chris and Beth."
"What if the Klingons had been here?" he lectured sternly.
"I knew Spock had been here first, I wasn't worried," Maggie answered calmly. "Just as I'm sure he is going to find them and bring back Beth. Seth and some others were heading out to find them as I came over."
"Let's just hope they haven't killed her before he catches up."
"Why take Beth in the first place, she'll just slow them down..."
"They can't escape the planet, Maggie, speed is not so important to them as vengeance. Spock destroyed the one chance they had to return home, now they want to hurt him."
"But Beth is just a child," Maggie objected.
"She's Spock's child. Any other hostage would not have drawn Spock to them. Christine was too sick and large to move, so they took Beth."
"Will their ship come here anyway, even if they haven't contacted it?"
"Doubtful. Calico is inside Federation territory, they won't stick around long."
"Too bad we can't tell them to stay away," she sighed.
McCoy studied the fire, considering her words. "Maybe we can... Stay here with Chris, I need to find Philip."
* * *
Kolos panted as he climbed the incline. Where was the Vulcan? He should have been following them, but there'd been no sign of him yet. Darnon sat on a rock, holding Beth close to him. Her body temperature was dropping which worried him. Without a hostage there would be nothing to bargain with for their lives. Kolos might be confident of killing the Vulcan, but Darnon wasn't so sure.
Spock was motionless above them, waiting for the right moment. Kolos finally wandered too close to the overhang and Spock dropped down on him, knocking the other to the ground. Darnon took one look at Spock's face and threw Beth over his shoulder, leaving the two men fighting behind him as he struggled toward the pass.
There was a sharp pain in his ribs as Kolos broke two more of them. Spock retaliated by breaking the Klingon's arm in two places. The thin air was telling on Kolos, slowing him down and dulling his thought processes He felt the ground against his back and Spock's knee on his chest and saw no mercy in the enemy's eyes. Death would come quickly from a Vulcan.
Kolos judged wrong for the last time. When Seth's party found him twenty minutes later, he was still dying.
* * *
Darnon scrambled over the rocks and scrawny vegetation in his haste to escape the one behind him. He could have sworn a hand closed around his ankle once, but a yank broke him free. The path narrowed, then stopped, dropping off a precipice thousands of feet down.
Turning he could see Spock coming up the slope behind him, and there was nothing but air in front of him. Holding Beth, he sat upon the precipice, waiting for the enemy to arrive. "You closer, she dies," he called out in broken Standard.
"She dies, you die," Spock replied in Klingon.
Darnon weighed his alternatives and didn't like what he saw.
The Vulcan obviously meant to kill him as he killed Kolos, going further meant suicide If he killed the girl, the Vulcan would kill him, if he gave her back, he would still kill him for kidnapping her. If he took the girl over the edge with him, this one would follow him into the afterlife to exact payment.
"Decision?" Spock asked.
Releasing Beth, Darnon rolled over the edge of the precipice and found death waiting below.
* * *
Maggie met them at the door and took Beth from his arms. His body heat had warmed her on the journey down the mountain and she was now sleeping. There was no sign of frostbite because of Darnon's body heat. If he had not held her so close to him to climb, she probably would have died from exposure.
Walking into the bedroom, Spock closed the door behind him before shedding his wraps and going to Christine's side. She was asleep, but stirred when he touched her hand. Her eyes fluttered, then opened.
Reassured, Christine went back to sleep, never feeling the kiss Spock set upon her lips.
* * *
"Spock," Leonard hailed him as he entered the Hall. "Seth just got back and told us Beth is home safe and sound."
"You seem overjoyed about something," Spock observed wryly.
"Well, while you were out climbing mountains, some of the rest of us have been busy here." One eyebrow ascended.
"Maggie mentioned more bodies were found."
Immediately serious, McCoy nodded. "Thirty nine dead. Nearly half the colony, but there's good news."
"Good news?" Half the colony murdered and there was good news?
"Philip completed the work on the radio which allowed us to contact the Klingon cruiser, Konda."
"You contacted a Klingon cruiser?"
"Remember the fellow you and I put under last night?"
"Affirmative..." They contacted a Klingon cruiser?
"I concocted a little something that made him say what we wanted and had him explain to the Commander of the Konda that Calico was not a good place for Klingons. Seems there's a horrible virus down here that is wiping out the entire landing party one by one. Highly contagious, you know."
"Highly contagious," Spock repeated. They contacted a Klingon cruiser and told them the planet contained a deadly virus...
"Well, what?" Spock asked, playing it out to the end with McCoy.
"Aren't you going to admit, for once, I impressed you?" McCoy demanded.
Spock almost smiled. "No."
* * *
Christine Chapel, personal log:
I felt the baby move today for the first time. It's been just over four months since the Klingons came to Calico. It was a sad day when we made the cemetery and laid the thirty nine dead to rest. There was talk of leaving Calico entirely when a starship comes to check on us next year, but I think many are like me, too attached to this place to ever leave. We all lost friends, many lost family, but life goes on. Time heals the wounds of the heart...
The Klingon who was left here committed suicide when he learned the rest of the landing party was dead and the ship would not be picking him up.
The sun broke through today and most of the Colony rushed outside to enjoy its warmth. We are alive and surviving well through the winter season. Snow is well over six feet deep in most places, but hunting has been good and the grain laid by the last two years is holding out with plenty to spare. It is sad to know the plenty is a result of tragedy...
Beth is so excited at the prospect of a younger sibling. I'm just happy there have been no residual effects from the Klingon visit here. There is much of T'Mira in her, I think!
I didn't think Spock and I could have a closer relationship than what we've had the last few years, but this unborn child has brought us even closer. I had given up all hope that I would even bear him a child...
I'm so glad to be up and about finally. Maggie offered to stay here and help take care of me, but Spock refused the offer and tended me himself. Leonard told me later of Spock's climb up the mountain to save Beth. His anger is a facet of his personality I don't know at all. I feel no regret for Kolo's death, he deserved it.
So much has happened in the last six years, both exciting and tragic.
I wonder what the future holds in store for us on Calico...