DISCLAIMER: The Star Trek characters are the property of Paramount Studios, Inc. The story contents are the creation and property of Cheree Cargill and is copyright (c) 2001 by Cheree Cargill. This story is Rated PG-13.


Cheree Cargill

Stardate: 3010.1, First Officer Spock recording.

What I have done astounds me. I have committed suicide. Signed my own death warrant. Deliberately broken a law that carries the single instance of capital punishment still extant in Star Fleet regulations. Worse than mutiny or murder or insurrection, I have set us on course for Talos IV and, when we reach there, I will die.

I have arranged matters so that none of my shipmates will be found likewise guilty. They are helpless passengers in this adventure. In fact, I doubt many of them have even heard of Talos IV, except as a vague name mentioned in General Order Seven. They don't know what is to be found there or the reason it is a quarantined planet. But I do. Oh, yes, I do. I remember it as if it were yesterday.

It was simply another new, unexplored world in this recently charted sector. We were young and eager and very naive, myself particularly. It was my first deep space voyage, the culmination of everything I had escaped Vulcan seeking. I was free for the first time in my life and relishing every minute of it.

Even the battle on Rigel 7 had not dampened my enthusiasm. Indeed, I had felt the anthem of my warrior ancestors sing in my blood as I fought for my life there and my slight wound only enhanced my pride that I had met the challenge and overcome it. Therefore, the unknown dangers of Talos IV were no deterrent to my zeal for landing party duty.

I had followed Captain Pike's lead like a guileless puppy, completely taken in by the survivors' encampment and our rescue mission. The illusion was perfect ... until it disappeared and we were plunged into the nightmare of finding and saving the Captain from the Talosians.

I felt hatred and shock reverberate around me from my fellow crewmembers as the humans attempted to absorb the turn of events. All but Number One, who remained calm and logical throughout. Only at the end did she allow her control to fray and then it was all the more shocking to me.

She had worked tirelessly around the clock to retrieve Pike, only to become herself a prisoner in the Talosian zoo, along with Yeoman Colt and the strange woman Vina. Her purpose there -- breeding stock. It was not until an escape to the surface was engineered by Pike that Number One allowed her emotions to gain the upper hand.

She had helped save Pike from his prison cell. Now she would save him from a life that would ultimately destroy him. She would sacrifice herself to do so because she could do nothing else. As shocking as it was to realize, Number One loved Christopher Pike. Our unemotional, logical, almost-Vulcan first officer, underneath it all, was a woman in love with a man!

I didn't realize this, of course, until they were all safely back aboard the ship and I was standing in the transporter room with them, awash in a veritable sea of human emotions. It was then that I saw the way she and Pike were looking at one another -- eyes on each other while studiously attempting to appear nonchalant -- and perceived the nature of the emotions involved. I didn't understand them at all then. I was too young and too inexperienced, but I knew enough to realize that I had sensed the same emotions radiate between my parents as far back as I could remember. It was the true love of soul mates, even if they couldn't express it openly.

It took me years to assimilate this knowledge, but it seemed entirely logical to me that Number One would go with Pike to his new command when he was promoted to Fleet Captain and left the Enterprise for good. By that time, I had served with him for thirteen years and he had become more than simply my captain. Much more.

I understood, too, when I heard the news of the disaster on the training ship Pike had been overseeing. Number One was right there at his side, by now his wife. When the baffle plate failed and delta rays flooded the engineering compartment, it was entirely in Pike's nature to plunge into the lethal hell to pull as many trainees out as he could. And it was entirely in Number One's nature that she once again sacrificed herself to not only drag his ruined body out of the ocean of radiation that engineering had become, but to take his place and bring out three more cadets before she succumbed to the searing rays and died where she had lived, at Pike's side.

I grieved for them both, for her death and for his bare survival. I could not call it living. It was continuance, nothing more ... silent, paralyzing, in constant pain. I could not imagine Captain Pike being trapped in that sort of existence.

I do not know where the idea to return him to the Talosians came from. Perhaps the Talosians implanted it in my mind and gave me the courage -- or foolhardiness -- to carry it out. All I know is that what I am doing is necessary. They can give him back at least an illusion of health and vitality, of a body restored to youth and strength. They can make him a man again.

I owe him that for all that he gave to me. It is worth my life and career to recompense his. And I owe it to Number One to finish the job she started, saving Christopher Pike. He was my friend ... my mentor ... the father that Sarek could never be to me.

I owe it to him as his son.