DISCLAIMER: The Star Trek characters are the property of Paramount Studios, Inc. The story contents are the creation and property of Jacqueline Bielowicz and is copyright (c) by Jacqueline Bielowicz. This story is Rated PG. It was originally published in Guardian #1.
Jacqueline A. Bielowicz
Memories...cut-crystal beads encapsulating loved ones...and times.
Memories link us not only passed to present to future...but carry us on crystal-linked bridges...to infinity.
The old Vulcan sat in the blazing sun. It felt comforting to his old bones and seemed to ease his old wounds.
His tired eyes, encased in a wrinkled face burned yellow by alien suns, roved over the surrounding landscape. He could smell the bittersweet odor of the pon-raff blossoms. It was good to be on Vulcan during the spring. Around the corner of the house, he could hear his grandsons' voices in the Song of Exercise. The faint chant helped his mind slip into reverie, forgetting the illogic of daydreaming.
Suddenly his grandsons were before him, seated on the hot ground at his feet. Their two inquisitive faces were turned up to him, their pointed ears perked up to hear him.
"Tell us of your travels, Grandfather. Tell us what you have seen."
So many times before they had asked this of him. And, as before, he told them. He spoke of the hundred worlds, some of ice and crystal, and others that were emerald green with water. In his words they saw strange creatures and even stranger men. He told them of teachings and lessons given, triumphs and defeats, and of those strange things called emotion, love and hate.
"But, Grandfather, tell us of the ship and the men you knew."
And he told them of the ship, the tiny city that went to the hundred worlds. He spoke of the pioneers who went searching for new secrets; he spoke of the comradeship, the teamwork, the laughter and the tears of those he had known, the living end the dying.
Most carefully of all, he told them of his two friends: the doctor who cared so much that he often cared too close, though he always tried to understand. The aging Vulcan whispered softly about the captain who was a brother, though he was a human. He too cared, but with respect and dignity. The captain and he had defended each other in danger end helped each other in trouble. For twelve long years, their friendship had lasted, until the gallant captain took a deathblow meant for the Vulcan.
A woman appeared in the doorway of the house, unseen by the elderly Vulcan. A small frown creased her slanted brows.
"Father-in-law, it is time for the boys' Discipline. This is not the time for stories of long-dead humans."
The two boys smoothly rose and started for the house. After a few feet, the younger boy ran back to his grandfather. "Someday, I, too, will travel to a hundred worlds and I shall find a human friend like your captain, Grandfather!" he cried, his vision fixed on future wonders. Then he ran to his waiting lesson.
Contentedly, Spock leaned back against his chair, eyes closed, savoring the remaining sunlight. There was, curiously, a small smile on his lips.
The old man sat, watching the young people laughing in the sun in the courtyard below his window. Their strong, supple bodies streamed back and forth as the students passed by on their way to their next class. A faint smile touched the aged lips as the doctor remembered his own days in the hospital training school. He had been older than most of his fellow students during his early days, reviewing alien medicine in Star Fleet. He, too, had walked freely from class to class--healing the emotional wounds that were still raw from the divorce.
Now, after eighteen years of active service, he had come full circle. Well, not quite full circle--now he was locked into a motorized chair. His face was scarred from the explosion, and though his hands were completely healed, never again would they be capable of his previous surgeon's skill. Never again would he walk the corridors of a ship or feel the exciting pressures that were part of shipboard life.
A soft noise behind him alerted him to the presence of his aide. "Doctor McCoy, it is time to go. They are waiting for you."
Leonard McCoy didn't move but continued watching the swirling tide below him. "They remind me of my younger days. Do you realize that in three more months, I will be 64 years old?" He was silent for a moment. His eyes became distant as he went back into his past.
"She was an excellent ship," he murmured. "The worlds we touched; the things we saw! We would go for weeks with little to do and then something would come up that had to be solved within hours." His head and shoulders slumped forward as he stared at the ridges on his hands, not really seeing them. "And the friends I had. Jim Kirk, the finest captain in Star Fleet." His voice gained a harsh edge. "When he really needed me, not all my knowledge or skill could help. And, oh God, I had to stand by and watch him die!"
The aide stood sensing the older man's pain, and sorrow. After a moment, McCoy continued, his voice getting stronger. "But I still have Spock, even if he is on Vulcan, raising a family. I real1y should go see him, but I suppose I never will. Somehow, these past years have just slipped away from us."
Again the doctor was silent. The aide checked the chronometer. "Doctor, we are short of time."
McCoy wheeled around and faced the younger man. He slapped the chair angrily. "If it wasn't for this damn thing, I could still be out there, patching up those poor bastard security men, getting first crack at the new diseases. Instead, I'm stuck in this infernal machine." He glared up at the aide, defiantly. "Did you know that I once cured a rock? And I always intended to find a cure for a rainy day."
The younger man laughed softly. Everyone knew the history of Leonard McCoy; he would have made Star Fleet's Surgeon General. The only thing that had stopped him was his insistence on entering a mine that had already suffered three explosions to treat the injured miners instead of waiting for the patients to be brought to him. The fourth explosion had finished his active career as a practicing physician.
"You can still find that cure for a rainy day, Doctor, but right now there's a class waiting for you. It wouldn't do for the administrator and the best instructor in this hospital to keep his students waiting."
McCoy glared at him, then joined him in his amusement. "You're right, David. Re-work my schedule so that some time soon I can work in rainy day research."
Both men were laughing as they headed out of the room.
The smoke-filled room was crowded with twisted machinery and debris. Tiny tongues of green flame licked over blackened control panels, adding burnt insulation smells to the odor of ozone. Barely discernable in the muted red emergency lights, a man lay buried in rubble. He had been motionless for several hours though he remained conscious. He stirred slightly as a voice came over an intercom that had miraculously escaped damage.
"Mr. Scott, can you hear me? Tal'myr has jury-rigged the intercom system so you won't have to work any controls. It won't be long now; we have rescue teams working 'round the clock to get you out... Mr. Scott, can you hear me?" The voice on the other end sounded very young and worried.
"Aye, Captain, I hear you. Dinna fash yourself, lad. I'm not going anywhere."
"Mr. Scott, we are working as fast as we can, but the rising radiation levels are hampering us. Can you give us a more precise description of the damage?"
Scotty started to chuckle, then gasped at the pain from his broken ribs. He wiped the ever-trickling blood from his forehead, sweeping the devastated room with a wry look. "Lad, the only thing that isn't damaged is the intercom, and I don't know why. It is a powerful wound me bairns have taken."
Suddenly tired, his mind drifted away from the words pouring out of the speaker; they were mostly to keep up his spirits. But Scotty had always been a realist. He knew how badly injured he was. What he wished for most was the knowledge that the crew working on his rescue was a bit more experienced. They were fine lads, but so young!
What he needed was Kirk and Spock. Both of them had known all the shortcuts. But then, this wouldn't have happened on the Enterprise. When he had had to retire from Star Fleet because of his age, he should have known better than to sign on as an engineer in the Rim merchant line. Their ships were infamous galaxy-wide for their age and generally bad condition. Still, he could say with pride that he personally had brought this ship up to the very best that was possible. But now the engines, his bairns, had turned on him, murdered him.
To avoid the steadily increasing pain, he willed himself back to the Enterprise. Aye, what a bonny ship she had been. Clean, pure as a virgin even when she was experienced. She had been his pride, his very wife. He had always given her, his best, but finally she had gone to another.
An arc of energy lashed across his body from yet another shorted panel. He groaned, weeping at the pain which slowly eased as he drifted even further back into his memories.
He had always loved engines. As a small boy in Aberdeen, his favorite times had been when his father took him to the weather control station where the elder Scott had been chief engineer. Young Scotty learned early to love the power and potential of engines. It was at a tender age that Scotty discovered his gift of tinkering could fill his life. Now his engines were sapping the life out of him as they never had before.
"Mr. Scott... Mr. Scott...!" The young captain's voice was frantic.
"Aye, lad." Scotty could barely hear himself.
"Mr. Scott, we will be through this bulkhead in two hours. Don't give up now, mister. That's an order! I need you in my engine room and I won't take...any excuse."
The younger man's voice was cracking, but he refused to give into his fear. Scotty had to smile. That was probably how Jim Kirk had sounded with his first real crisis. For a brief moment, Scotty could see Kirk, standing amid the smoke, nodding at him with a gentle smile.
"I'm afraid, sir, that is one order I won't be able to fill."
As Mr. Scott dreamt of sky blue lochs, wild purple heather, and engines the size of walnuts, his untamed Scots heart creased to beat.
The running man crouched beneath the overhang of a shattered wall, catching his breath, then darted into the relative safety of a man-made crater just beyond the wall. His heart thumped painfully as he realized he was not alone, but recognition of the grinning face sent adrenaline surging through his veins.
"Chekov! You old bastard! It's sure good to see your ugly face. Is the Hood part of this mess?"'
The two men grabbed each other's arms, talking excitedly until a distant explosion recalled them to their situation. Both men fell to the ground, clawing to get as close to the earth as possible. Debris and dust showered down on them as a series of explosions sounded around their place of safety. After an eternity, the disruptor barrage ended.
The two ex-Enterprise crewmen relaxed, glad for the respite. First Officer Pavel Chekov of the USS Hood used the time to get tricorder readings of the enemies' positions while Sulu looked over his friend. Chekov had changed a lot since the Enterprise days. He no longer looked like a carefree boy, but had the same intense look in his eyes that Captain Kirk had had. Chekov glanced up in time to catch Sulu staring.
"What's the matter?"
"I was remembering when you first came aboard the Enterprise. You were a snot-nosed, wet-behind-the-ears kid filled with the 'glories' of space. Now look where we are." Sulu's voice was faintly sad.
"Da. Keptin Kirk would never have botched this mission as Wilson did. Imagine trying to keep Federation personnel on a non-member world going into civil war. All for the sake of some lousy mineral ores. Now Star Fleet has to rescue them without interfering in this planet's affairs."
Both men were silent for a moment, filled with equal disgust for bureaucrats who commanded starships. They talked quietly, sharing memories of other days and long scattered friends. All around them, the fighting continued, aided by Klingon ships supporting one faction.
Occasionally, one of them would try to communicate with his party, but they were rewarded with only static. Finally, they could wait no longer. "We have to find our own way back to friendly forces, Pavel," Sulu commented tersely. "You had better come with me. The last time I saw my crew, they were over that way."
"Aye, aye, Keptin," Chekov mocked lightly. "Where you lead, I follow. Even if you are only keptin of a scout ship."
Sulu struck him lightly on the shoulder. "See that you keep your head down then, Commander."
Chekov nodded his agreement. Both men drew their phasers, carefully checking the landscape before leaving their place of safety. Sulu led out, running evasively to shelter while Chekov covered him. Then Sulu returned the favor as Chekov ran to join him. They had done the same thing together a hundred times, protecting each other's back. They slowly made their way through the rubble and never heard the disruptor bolt that caught Chekov in its backlash.
Sulu ran back to his friend, but Chekov was already dead, half his body a ruptured mass of bleeding flesh. Sulu ignored the renewed barrage as he knelt in the dust, clasping the body in his arms with tears running down his face. He brushed the hair away from the unmarred side of Chekov's face and kissed the cooling forehead.
"Goodbye, my brother. "
Then, returning the body gently to the earth, he dashed through the rising dust.
The contract lay on her desk, breaking the clear expanse of emptiness. She had received it last thing in the day and it meant more to her than mere business. It was a contract to do all the electronics work on the new starship, Enterprise III. Her hands caressed the plastic tape as her eyes stared blindly across the office. The Enterprise III. The pain that once had ripped through her breast was now only an ache. Her eyes searched for, then found the model mounted on a pedestal, making it the only non-functional piece of furniture in the office.
It was roughly 35 centimeters square, but perfectly scaled to the actual ship. Sulu had made it for her as a going away gift when she resigned from Star Fleet after Kirk's death. Its white hull gleamed softly in the light with its black lettering proudly displaying its registry. The Enterprise. The original Enterprise. For months after her return to Earth, she had been unable to look at it, but as time passed so did her sorrow. Then she brought it out to encourage her in times of stress.
Penda Uhura sat behind her desk, an elegant woman with gray-streaked hair, remembering the girl who had once sat at a communications panel on the Enterprise. The girl had loved her captain, but had never told him.
Then the day came when it was too late. Spock brought him back from a backwater planet, dead. There was a lot of pain on the ship that day: Spock, graven-faced because his friend had died for him; McCoy, weeping because he couldn't cheat Death of his victim; the rest of the crew, who had come to depend on Kirk to work the final angle, stricken.
Sulu and Chekov had understood. They had stuck close by her during the memorial service, and when she announced that she was leaving Star Fleet, they hadn't argued with her. After she had gone, they kept in touch, refusing to let her sink into despondency. It was they who had had the idea for this electronics company, investing money in it to get it started. The company had kept her busy and fulfilled, despite the void within her.
Now Sulu and Chekov were gone too, both killed during the disaster on Beta Calpha V. Except for Spock, they were all gone. But Uhura had learned to cope with Death on his own terms. Her door slid open silently and her secretary stepped through.
"May I congratulate you on winning the Enterprise contract, Ms. Uhura? It is quite a triumph."
"Not really, Dorothy. I couldn't let anyone else except myself fit that ship with communications. After all, she has a noble tradition to fulfill. Jim Kirk's tradition to fulfill."
Dorothy looked blank. "Who was he?"
She had been born 15 years after Kirk's death. Uhura smiled at her ignorance.
"Someday, Dorothy, I will have to tell you about the first Enterprise... and her best captain. Arrange for a departmental meeting first thing tomorrow, and then you can go home."
Her secretary nodded and left as silently as she had come in. Uhura ran her hand over the smooth cool plastic Enterprise model, then turned off the light illuminating it. She left her office and returned home to dream of a hazel-eyed man with a crooked grin.
Alpha and Omega
The bridge shined as it never had in the other world. The panels were softly lighted with myriad colored lights, and the gentle sounds of circuitry hummed in the background. The seats were empty except for the Science Officer's chair. Jim Kirk sat at his usual place, hands lying lightly on the arms, his eyes on the main viewscreen. The screen showed the black velvet of space pricked with tiny lights that mirrored the colors of the consoles.
Chekov appeared at his normal station and, after a brief time period, Sulu appeared beside him. The two men silently shook hands, shrugging at the memory of the planet that had killed them both. Then they bent to their work. Kirk gazed on their bowed heads, knowing their history since he had gone and mourning the waste of their deaths. Yet he was glad that he now had back the best helm-navigation team he had ever known.
Kirk sensed, rather than saw the arrival of Scotty and smiled when he heard the switches at the engineering console being worked. How many times he could remember Scotty exactly where he was, at his station, giving his Captain that extra bit of speed. Kirk chuckled silently, remembering all the arguments that he had heard from his chief engineer when he pushed the ship too hard, but never a complaint when Scotty had to fix the damage.
Another presence made itself felt, directly beside the command chair. Kirk glanced over his shoulder and McCoy greeted him with a wide grin. Jim wanted to ask him what he was doing on the bridge, but knew that McCoy wouldn't want to leave the action. The doctor stood with his hands clasped behind his back, bouncing contentedly on the balls of his feet. Suddenly, he leaned over, bracing one arm along the back of the chair.
"No wonder no one ever came back to tell us what it's like on this side; who would want to leave this peace?"
There was a period of waiting. The three bridge crewmen worked quietly while Kirk sat in his chair and McCoy wandered around the bridge. There were other figures on the bridge, but they were nebulous, unable to fit as closely in the plane as the five friends. Eventually, another presence entered the bridge and Kirk felt his heart beat again.
Uhura was at her station, softly setting up her communication links with the beings that shared their plane. Kirk watched her, his gaze caressing the brown satin skin he had never before dared to touch. This time, it would be different. Last time he had wasted his chances, but not this time. She smiled at him and he grieved briefly for her past pain.
Slowly, the sounds of the huge ship increased, raising the expectation of the souls aboard. Scotty checked his boards and turned to Kirk.
"Engines at full power, Captain. We're ready whenever you are."
"Thank you, Scotty. Chekov, lay in course 198 mark 6. Sulu, ahead warp four."
Chekov swung his chair around, bewilderment on his face. "But, Keptin, Mr. Spock hasn't reported aboard yet."
McCoy snorted, "You know those damn Vulcans; they live for 250 years. We'll be here for eternity if we wait for him!"
Kirk smiled, anticipating Spock and McCoy together again. "When Spock's time comes, Chekov, he will know where to find us. Ahead warp factor four."
And the Enterprise, wrapped in her cut-crystal bead, moved into the never-ending sea of stars.