DISCLAIMER: The Star Trek characters are the property of Paramount Studios, Inc. The story contents are the creation and property of Deltagirl7 and is copyright (c) 2002 by Deltagirl7. This story is Rated PG.

Somewhere in Time

Deltagirl7

August Twickler was Commander of the research team on Hierkel III. His team had been mapping the flora of the planet and exploring their medicinal properties. The scientists had discovered several compounds that were already being tested on some of the galaxy's most deadly diseases and having enormous successes in the trials. In the five years the team had been here they had never seen ion storms like the ones that had recently developed. The storms made it nearly impossible to plan or complete expeditions. They were a constant bombardment of smelly, sparking flashes of lightening and currents of light that looked like worm holes opening up all around them. They caused huge dust storms and threw debris at hurricane velocities. The shelters had protected the scientists so far but areas hit directly were severely damaged.

Twickler contacted Star Fleet about the storms, sent them scientific data and they agreed to send a research team to investigate immediately. He'd been expecting a starship but certainly not the famed Enterprise. Captain Picard had contacted him only a few hours ago concerning their ETA and Commander Twickler was anxious for their arrival. He had already begun preparations for evacuation if need be.

* * *

Spock was meditating in his garden, or trying to. Actually, he'd been thinking of her again. He'd never given her much thought until that terrible day and then she was gone. Since that time there hadn't been a single day when he didn't think of her. He'd never realized how much he truly depended upon her. His heart ached at the thought of what he might have had had he not been so -- Vulcan.

"Sai, there is a message for you from Star Fleet," said T'Kari, his housekeeper.

Spock had been retired from Star Fleet for many years. He was home for now after a long stay on Romulus. It was almost lonely here; no wife awaited his return from deep space, no friends welcomed him home. Spock had experienced no pon farr after that time aboard the Enterprise. He had meditated on this; considered his genetics and his life experiences. Perhaps he had been cured by the intense meditation in which he now engaged. Actually, he had no explanation. It defied his logic but he had learned to accept that there were things that were simply not logical, a very un-Vulcan-like conclusion. He went to the comm station now to receive his communication.

"Spock here."

"Ambassador Spock, Star Fleet has received a message from Hierkel III regarding a strange series of ion-type storms. It sounds like something you've dealt with before. We'd like you to take a look at the data," said Admiral Bentley.

"Certainly, Admiral. I'm honored to be of service. I'll study it immediately."

"Get back to me as soon as you've reviewed the data. We're sending the Enterprise over to have a look. Might have to evacuate the colony. I'll be waiting to hear your report. Goodbye, Ambassador."

"I will review the data immediately, Commander. You will hear from me within the hour. Live long and prosper, Admiral."

Spock opened the data file. He recognized the elliptical energy patterns immediately, the Protos Phenomenon! He'd only seen it once before, fifty years ago, and had never encountered it again. He had studied every shred of material that had been gathered. He was the expert, if there could be an expert, on the Protos. There was no other historical data than that collected this one time, no information on its origin and no clue to where it went. There were still many mysteries in the final frontier of space. This one was one of the more devastating ones. He immediately contacted Star Fleet.

"Admiral, I recognized the data stream immediately. It is the Protos Phenomenon as you suspected. I have encountered it once before, fifty-two point three five years ago. I am forwarding that data to you now along with my scientific findings. It can be devastating to the population and the planet, a planet killer. I suggest you remove the scientific team at once. Admiral, I would welcome the opportunity to study it more closely if that is possible," he said.

"Glad to hear that, Ambassador, I thought you might want to go to Hierkel III. I've already dispatched the Enterprise. Picard is on his way to Vulcan now. He will arrive in three days. Thank you for your help, sir."

Spock contemplated the commander's strategy. He, of course, was the logical choice to study the storms. He'd had first hand experience of them years ago. Spock informed his housekeeper of his plans and retired to bed. Tomorrow he would have supplies and equipment to arrange. Tonight he must rest. He knew he would not sleep much in the days to come. He lay awake a long time remembering Protos.

* * *

The storm raged around them. Bits of dirt and rock pelted them from every angle. They ran for cover from the sparking assault and huddled together in a shallow cave. There was barely room for the four of them, Kirk, Spock, McCoy and Chapel. It had come upon them so quickly they had no time to seek proper shelter. It had devastated the planet until all that was left was a rocky asteroid. Days before it had been lush with vegetation, a thriving ecosystem. The fires started by the sparking debris that fell in the firestorm destroyed what wasn't sucked into the funnels.

Captain Kirk called out, "Look out Spock!" Just as one of the fingers of light flowed toward him. He bolted away just in time to see the tornado-like thing lift a boulder and splinter it into pebbles. Rocks fell from the sky. The group abandoned the small cave as the funnel hurtled toward them. They were in the center of the storm. Their tri-corders recorded the activity as they dodged the debris. The bombardment continued. Then the group became separated.

* * *

Three days later Captain Jean Luc Picard greeted his esteemed guest. "Ambassador Spock, it's an honor and a pleasure to have you back on board." The Enterprise had transported Ambassador Spock many times before. Picard realized the Enterprise must be his favorite ship, if Vulcans had favorites. Of course, this wasn't THE Enterprise upon which the Ambassador had served many years before but its offspring, the Enterprise-D.

"Thank you, Captain, it's an honor to be aboard the Enterprise again."

Picard continued, "We will arrive a Hierkel III in three days. The labs have been upgraded with the equipment you requested and a workstation awaits you. You'll have a dedicated team to assist your trials and I know you will inform Commander Riker or myself of any needs you may have. After you've settled into your quarters you can inspect it on deck 7."

"Thank you, Captain. I am most anxious to review any new data you may have accumulated and perhaps find a way to destroy the Protos before it can move on to a populated quadrant. It is deadly and could annihilate a planet with little warning. "

"I understand you've seen this before, Ambassador?" said Picard.

"Yes, Captain. I was a member of a landing party studying the Protos. We were caught in one of the storms. It is more destructive than you can imagine, much like a tornado but much more deadly, if that is possible. We must find a way to destroy it. If you will excuse me, Captain? I will begin my duties."

"Certainly, Ambassador. Perhaps you will join me and my senior staff for dinner at 18:00 hours?"

"Thank you, Captain. I will be most honored to attend." With that Spock disappeared into the turbo-lift toward his quarters. His quarters were always the same when he traveled aboard the Enterprise. The VIP quarters in most of Star Fleet's vessels were more luxurious than even the captain's, certainly moreso than those Captain Kirk inhabited on the old Enterprise. As First Officer, he thought the rooms excessive, as ambassador they were most appreciated.

Spock settled into his quarters and went down to the labs on deck 7. He'd had the last fifty years to formulate a hypothesis and a strategy for destroying the Protos. He regretted that he would have an opportunity to test it now. He'd calculated his odds of success to be 49.65423%. They weren't good odds but it was all he had to work with. Perhaps new data would reveal something to help him refine his strategy and increase his probability of success. It had been fifty years since the first episode and Star Fleet had developed more sensitive data collectors over time. He sat at one of the consoles and began to review the data. He only had three days.

* * *

Spock arrived at the Captain's dining room at 18:00 hours and spent the evening educating the senior staff. The conversation turned to the old Enterprise and Jim Kirk. Spock knew that Picard had been with Jim in his final hours and they had discussed those events at Jim's memorial service. He was linked to Picard in so many ways -- Jim, Scotty, his father. He wondered about what significance that would have on his future. It was clear there was unfinished business between them. They were a lot alike, Jim and Picard, and very different. Both had the same intense affection for the ship, both were fiercely protective of the crew. Picard seemed to lack the passion Jim exhibited and yet his controlled intensity was apparent and inspired confidence in his crew. Where Jim flew by the seat of his pants, Picard relied more on input from his staff. Jim rushed in; Picard was more diplomatic. Jim was the salt of the earth; Picard was gourmet. He became a brother to Jim; Picard was more like a father.

Spock was cordial throughout dinner, engaging in the polite conversation. Spock had accepted that people always wanted to hear about his adventures with James Kirk and the old Enterprise and he accommodated their questions. He appreciated their own stories about his old friends. When Commander Scott had disappeared everyone had come together to search for him but they were not successful. Spock enjoyed hearing their stories of his own rescue from Genesis after so many years. He made a note to look up Commander Scott again, if he returned from this mission.

When dinner ended Spock returned to his quarters and his data analysis.

* * *

Spock sat at the console in his quarters. It had been many years since he'd been aboard the Enterprise. He missed his old friend Jim Kirk. His death had stunned the known galaxy and many mourned the hero at his memorial service. Thousands had come to pay homage to him although there had been no body lying in state. Old friends made their way to him that day offering condolences as if he'd been Jim's brother. Yes, that's what it was: the loss of a brother, closer still, certainly, than Spock's own. Spock knew it had been the same for Jim on Genesis. Except that Spock, of course, returned and Jim had not. Jim passed the way all heroes must, in battle with honor leaving behind him a legend longer than a comet's tail.

Spock always stopped in to see Dr. McCoy, whenever his work brought him to Earth, which was several times a standard year now. Each time the gentleman had seemed older, grayer, and thinner. He wondered how much longer he would be traveling to Earth to see him. They were comfortable with each other after all these years, perhaps being drawn closer in the loss of their friend, certainly their shared life together. The others, too, had matured. Some had passed on to their own rewards leaving behind their progeny, some of whom Spock would meet from time to time at one function or another. They'd come to him, "Ambassador, my father (or grandfather!) served with you aboard the Enterprise, Pavel Chekov (or insert name), perhaps you remember him?"

Spock would reply, "Ah, yes, your father was an excellent officer." Then Chekov's son would go on to tell his favorite story of perhaps Kahn or Apollo or some other adventure. Spock would nod, "Ah yes, that did seem an impossible situation, fortunately for us your father was there, he was indispensable to us that time." Eventually, the adult-child would wander off in awe, pleased that he'd finally met the illustrious Ambassador Spock. Only Spock remained youthful, as if immortal, to his old friends.

After dinner Spock returned his attention to the console. He studied the data again, working the new data into the problem. He wanted to understand what had happened. He had searched for that understanding for fifty years.

* * *

It was 04:00 before the light went out in Ambassador Spock's quarters. At 06:00 he rose, bathed and went to the lab to greet the assistants assigned to him and to delegate analysis of the data. Three days later they reached Hierkel III.

Picard, Spock and the landing party stepped off the transporter pad at Hierkel III.

"Ambassador Spock, I'm Commander Twickler. It was good of you to come so quickly," he said.

* * *

Spock stared into the distance watching the sun set in the western sky. His meeting with Twickler had been long and drawn out. At the moment the Enterprise was mapping the storms; tomorrow the team would begin offensive maneuvers.

He watched the Protos as it raged at the eastern horizon. The colors together painted the sky and it was as beautiful as it was deadly. At this distance he was safe from its flying debris. He studied the spirals as they twisted and flowed into tornado-like funnels. He remembered the night she disappeared.

* * *

Spock and Christine collapsed behind a rocky outcropping. Beneath it was a small indentation as if the rocks had lifted themselves out of the ground and left a hole in the earth where they had lain. They had thrown themselves into the space narrowly avoiding a funnel that seemed to be chasing them as if they were prey. The area was small and there was no room for personal space here. At least they were protected from the hurling dust and rocks that pierced their skin like tiny razors. They pressed together each aware of the gasping, labored breathing of the other.

"You're injured, Mr. Spock!" she gasped, seeing the green blood on his uniform. She fumbled for her med kit.

"It is not serious, Doctor, there is no need. However, your forehead is bleeding profusely." He wiped the hair away from the wound to get a better look. "Give me the kit. I will tend it."

Christine realized for the first time she had been seriously hit. There was no pain yet blood trickled down her face from her forehead. "It can wait, Spock. There isn't enough room to work in here." She applied pressure to the bleeding wound with a dirty palm.

"I do not believe it can, Christine, and as this place is giving us some shelter at the moment I believe it should be tended now. Please guide me," he commanded. There wasn't much room but it seemed safe for the moment. An explosion just on the other side made them jump together.

Christine gave him the med kit. In the static of the storm the dermal regenerator was non-operational. She watched his face as he cleaned and dressed the wound. He was so close to her she could feel his breath on her face as he worked. He seemed so calm as he completed his task. She had not stopped trembling. How could he be so calm when they could die at any minute? Her eyes stung at the thought of it.

Spock knew they might not get out alive. He knew she was thinking it too. He met her eyes as a tear fell to her cheek. "This is not a time for tears, Christine."

Now she sobbed at his callousness pushing him away. "Spock, we're probably going to die in this hole and the last thing I'm ever going to hear is a damned callous, cold hearted Vulcan telling me not to cry. Go to hell, Spock. Just go to hell!"

He had not realized how he'd sounded. "I am very sorry, Christine, I beg forgiveness for my thoughtlessness. I simply meant that we should not panic," he said. "I do not know what to say to assuage your fears." He searched her face for a clue then did the logical thing -- he wrapped his arms around her. They held on to each other as another funnel rattled and then exploded close to them. If these were indeed their final moments together, there was nothing to lose. It occurred to him if he did not kiss her now there might never be another opportunity.

Spock pressed his lips to hers and she gasped in surprise. Her eyes flew open. She looked at him realizing that if he'd resorted to actually kissing her there must truly be no hope. She kissed him back hesitantly, trying to shield him from the emotions she felt. But when he answered by covering her mouth, tasting her tongue, she let go into the moment. She was finding it difficult to breathe. He made love to her mouth. His tongue explored her lips. They were soft and warm just as he expected they'd be. Her response to him excited him and his kisses became more urgent. She kissed his face, his neck, his ear. He was astonished at the levels of physical and emotional -- indeed, emotional pleasure, he was experiencing. How could they be doing this here? He pushed those thoughts aside as he had pushed her away from him all those years. He kissed her neck and noted how it had stimulated her. He found the more pleasure he gave her the more he received. Shortly that pleasure turned to need. Yes, he needed her. It was not logical given their circumstances but he needed her; wanted to be inside her right now. But this was not the place for that. He couldn't make love to her here in the dirt like this. But when, where? Now, like this or never? When they returned to the ship there would be time for lovemaking, time to sort it all out -- if they returned. What a fool he'd been all this time. How he'd denied himself, how he'd denied her.

"Spock?" Her eyes asked the question. For the first time in his life, in the midst of the most terrifying storm he'd ever experienced, he was at peace.

Hours later the storm had begun to move off. They realized the others would come looking for them. The giant funnels touched down with less frequency. It seemed safe to dig out now. As Spock and Christine crawled from their crag in the rocks they saw, Kirk and McCoy and called to them. As they ran for their friends a giant funnel touched down and scooped her away.

That was fifty years ago. After all this time, he could still see her face, feel her presence. She had never left his mind and he struggled to understand how and why this still affected him. After all these years he still feel her presence; still experienced a longing for a woman he didn't even know he had loved, until she was gone. No one else had ever come to fill the loneliness that followed him across the galaxy.

Spock returned to the ship intending to meditate and turn in. In the morning the Enterprise would launch a probe into one of those funnels and if necessary he'd go in himself. From within they might gather enough information to destroy the thing that had stolen his future with Christine. There would be a chance to use the data he'd spent years developing. It was a long time before he slept.

* * *

The funnel was upon them before they knew it was there. Spock remembered hearing McCoy's voice, "Spock, Chris, get out of there..." The roar of the funnel was deafening. Dust, rocks, sticks, and other debris that flew about in the center of the thing pelted them. The force of the winds pulled at them threatening to suck them up into it. Spock and Christine pulled one another from its grasp as it cycloned around them. Spock felt the tingling sensation of static electricity. He tried to pull her away from a funnel but it touched her and pulled her with such a force that it ripped her from him and then the entire Protos disappeared.

* * *

The next day, Spoke awakened not at all refreshed. He had fought the animal they were tracking throughout the night in his dreams. The same dreams -- nightmares -- he'd experienced for fifty years. They were always the same. Sometimes ideas would come to him in his dreams, which he would develop and test in a simulation. Test! There was really no way to test his work except on the Protos itself, which he had hoped never to see again. He had never been able to recreate the patterns of its destruction. Although it was illogical to continue the research Spock had never put it aside. And so he was prepared when the communication came. He would destroy the Protos today.

Spock arrived at the briefing to find Data reviewing the data they had collected since arriving; material Spock was all too familiar with.

"Ambassador, I am intrigued by your theories. If the hypothesis is correct, there is no way to stop it."

"You are correct, Commander Data, however, I believe the key is in communicating with it. The intelligence behind it will certainly understand the destruction it wreaks. The probe will tell us more." In fifty years probe technology had improved considerably. They would get detailed readings before it was destroyed.

"Let us proceed," ordered Picard.

From the bridge the team saw the probe launch and proceed toward the Protos. Spock stood at a science center directing the trajectory. "Contact in 45 seconds, Captain."

"Establish com link," ordered the captain.

Seconds later communication lines transmitted and received but only their own echo returned to the ship. The probe sent back images and data from inside the hurricane-like storm but they did not answer Spock's questions. As experiments go it was successful as they had discovered one more thing that did not work. The storm continued to gain in intensity.

Meeting in the ready room the team analyzed the data they had just gathered. "We must proceed with the shuttle-lab," said Spock.

"Ambassador, I would prefer if you would send the shuttle on autopilot. We have seen the capabilities of the Protos and the likelihood of your returning from a close encounter with it is quite small," said Picard.

"Captain, I am aware of the probabilities and am prepared for all possibilities. The autopilot would not be able to make any necessary adjustments. I am a scientist; one who has studied the Protos for many years, I am the logical choice for the mission and I am prepared for the ultimate consequences." Spock and Picard stood nose to nose a moment. "May I commence in one hour, Captain?"

"As you wish, Ambassador, but I must formally protest."

"Captain, it is my experience that each must do what he thinks is right. I can do nothing else."

Forty minutes later the team proceeded to the shuttle bay to conduct the final checklists before the mission commenced.

Spock and his team had outfitted a shuttlecraft with the equipment they had fabricated on board the Enterprise and that he had developed over the years. Large and small boxes connected with other boxes. Wires linked the groupings that consisted of various components of communication devices. Every bit of the most advanced systems and some primitive ones like radio waves were utilized. In some ways he seemed like the mad scientist adjusting here, soldering there. He had run test scenarios but would not know the efficiency of the machines until it was actually tested on the Protos. Spock would set the autopilot and take the shuttle to the surface and into the storms. Once on the planet he would launch the programs that would run the system. Probes would record data and bounce it back to the Enterprise, just in case the Protos got him too.

"Picard to shuttlecraft. Are you prepared to launch shuttlecraft?"

"Spock here, Captain, everything is go, sir."

"Make it so, Ambassador, and good luck."

With that Spock guided the shuttlecraft through the bay doors and into the unknown.

* * *

Spock spotted the Protos on the far side of the planet and set a course for landing. He needed enough time and space for a stable landing and to set up the portable probes around the perimeter of the craft. The equipment behind him turned and whirred and choked. Transceivers blinked his pre-recorded messages transmitted in multiple languages and multiple media. Upon landing he calculated three point two minutes before the Protos was at his location. He needed to be dead center of it. Sound reproduction devices had been affixed to the shuttle in case the probes disengaged or the shuttlecraft was carried away.

As the storm approached Spock double-checked his comm link to the Enterprise reporting the progress of the Protos and checking the uptake lead. Enterprise reported back they were receiving the data.

The shuttlecraft began to vibrate as the storm funnels approached. Debris flew into viewers making in impossible to see out. The probes strained their lines and threatened to disengage. Spock increased the frequencies of the comm system. Whoever, whatever was causing this must hear and understand his communications. The Protos seemed to focus now on the shuttlecraft as if trying to suck it into itself. Spock switched to variable frequencies with intrepredary tripolar modulation. A funnel swooped down to engulf the shuttle and for a moment Spock glimpsed the inside of the killer. Suddenly the walls of the shuttlecraft seemed to be dissolving as if Spock could see through the very molecules that gave it form. He looked down at a ghostly hand and realized that he too was about to disappear into the mysterious Protos. Then he blacked out.

* * *

Spock's consciousness returned. In the ghost-like world of the vortex, Spock saw life all around him. He observed birth and death; he saw lives lived in a single moment. Planets were born and suns spent their last breath. His mind opened to all knowledge. He tried to think of the questions that had plagued him throughout his life, so that he would at last know their answers. Beings around him of species known and unknown lifted their eyes to this knowledge asking for their own salvation. Images of the possible paraded before him, slowing for him and then speeding past. He knew a peace that had eluded him for so many years. He no longer wanted to fight the beast that had brought him here. He wondered if that was a suggestion that was being put into his mind. He didn't care he was suddenly very tired, so tired. He just couldn't ... stay ... awake...

* * *

Spock knew he was dreaming. He remembered he was supposed to be doing something but he couldn't remember what and he was having a wonderful dream about her. Only this time she wasn't snatched away. This time they were walking along a path in a park. The evening sun shone through the trees turning everything that honey-color of a spring sunset. They stopped and sat in the grass; lying on a blanket they had brought along and watched the blues, pinks and purples of sunset dance through the clouds. He held her in one arm and her head rested on his shoulder as they watched the clouds pass by.

Spock began to regain consciousness. He was actually surprised to find himself waking up alive. He felt a weight on his shoulder and surmised parts of the shuttle must have fallen in on him. As he opened his eyes he tried to focus on where he was. Nothing that had happened made sense to him and he would have to meditate on these things a long time to sort them out. He saw that he was still in the shuttle but the weight on his shoulder was not a titanium girder, but a human being. He turned to see the blue eyes of his beloved staring back at him.

Spock stared speechless into her eyes. "You came for me," she smiled. "I've lost track of time. How long have I been gone?"

Spock could barely speak. "What would you estimate, Christine?"

"Time in the vortex, well, it's timeless. I've been in and out of consciousness. It feels like a few days, but it must have been longer."

Spock wanted to soften the news but how many ways are there to say, "You've been gone fifty years."

Her eyes widened. "What? That can't be!"

"You look the same as the day you left, but that was fifty years ago, Christine. The Protos has not returned in all that time. I have spent my life looking for answers. The Protos disappeared after it took you. We searched for you for weeks. Finally... I have much to say to you but it will have to wait. Let us see where we are and where it is. It is possible that we are still inside."

Spock pushed debris aside, climbed into the pilot seat and powered up the shuttle. He cleared the viewer as well as he was able and after taking some calculations he was surprised to find himself in the general area he started. The storms had abated. He wondered how long he'd been gone and if there would be anyone to hear is comm signal. He powered up the comm system and sent a message to the Enterprise. "Shuttle to Enterprise."

"Enterprise here. Ambassador Spock, are you all right? We lost track of you for a while. I'm sending a rescue party to your location now."

"Yes, Captain, I am uninjured. The shuttle seems to have suffered quite a lot of damage; I have not checked the engines. Can you tell me how long have I been gone? The shuttle's chronometer seems to be damaged."

"Ambassador, you have been in that vortex for eighteen and a half hours. There has been no sign of the Protos for twenty-three minutes. I'd say your communication theory was correct. Congratulations, Ambassador."

"No, Captain, my theory was incorrect, however, I still have no answers. I do not believe we shall see any more of it."

"Prepare to beam up, Ambassador, we'll have the crew retrieve the vessel. I am anxious to hear your report."

"Very well, Captain, two to beam up."

"Two, Ambassador?" asked Picard with surprise.

"Yes, Captain, another mystery, the Protos has returned Doctor Chapel."

"Then I'm doubly anxious to hear that report, Ambassador. Energize."

* * *

Spock gently knocked on his old friend's door; he gripped a bottle of hundred-year old Kentucky bourbon. "Dr. McCoy, are you decent?"

"Confound it, Spock, have you ever found me not decent?" his friend griped. "How much trouble can I get into? I'm an old man, not a playboy, you know."

"I have brought my wife with me this time," said Spock.

"Your wife? When in the name of sam-heaven did you get married and why wasn't I invited?" he grumbled. "Nobody ever tells me nothin'." He stopped mid-sentence when he saw her. "Land o'Goshen, she looks just like -- Christine?! Is that you? Spock, you help me out a' this bed and tell me I'm not hallucinating. Where did you come from, young lady? You don't look a day older than the last time I saw you! I can't wait to hear this story!"

THE END