DISCLAIMER: The Star Trek characters are the property of Paramount Studios, Inc. The story contents are the creation and property of Cheryl Rice and is copyright (c) 1980 by Cheryl Rice. Rated G. Originally published in Alpha Continuum #4.


Cheryl Rice

Myths are things that never were but that always are. - Salustius

Kirk shivered slightly although the night air was milk-warm. He felt the rocks, solid and real behind his back and legs, the salt water tugging at him ... caressing. Then he looked again at the woman-creature before him. "You can't possibly exist," he told her and himself firmly.

"Nonsense. Sailors have known us for thousands of years. They see us when they are sad and lonely." She pushed back the heavy, tarnished-gold hair from around her shoulders. "But we have no more time for discussion. Will you come with me or stay? The sky-storm is fast approaching."

In the distance Kirk could hear thunder mutter and grumble. Far flashes of lightning lit up the darkness and in its glow he could see the sea foam cream and dance. "Why must I choose?" He was talking more to himself than his companion.

But she had heard. "The decision must be made. You cannot have both the world of air and of water." She reached out enticing arms. "I offer love, eternal love..."

He let himself be drawn forward and felt her cool body against his ... so cool. But something was not as he thought it would be. "In the pictures I have seen of your kind ... you always have..." For the life of him he could not think how to phrase his worry. He was so tired, so weary.

But she understood his unasked question and laughed lightly. "A tail like a fish. That is only in the myth, Captain. But part of the ancient stories are true. Our song is very sweet and we can promise rest and sweet delight."

Her body held promise of incredible joy. Kirk slipped down in the water with her and their lips met in a deep, lingering kiss that seemed to draw his very soul from his body.

He drew back and gazed upon her beauty, dazzling even in the gloom. She was nude, wearing only strands of fire-pearls in her hair, bracelets on one slender arm, and a dull gold necklet marked with same symbols he could not decipher. He ran a finger across their raised surfaces. "What does that say?"

She smiled in secret amusement. "My family motto, Captain. But come with me and I will tell you its story. Hurry, time grows short. Make your decision." She backed away into deeper water, her hair floating out evenly around her. "Stay and grow old before your time. Come and I will love you forever."

Kirk felt himself irresistibly drawn. "Wait ... I don't even know your name."

She laughed again. "You may call me Ondine. That name will do as well as any other. But decide, now!"

He was torn in two. To go or to stay? He hesitated, looking up at the sky. Overhead it was still clear. He could see the reassuring glitter-frost of a myriad stars and the old moon cradled in the new moon's arms. But the storm was growing ever closer. "How can I know what's right? I don't know."

Her exquisite face was rueful. "You know all you ever shall." She fingered the gold at her throat. "My kind has been through this before. I shall survive, but shall you?"

She was in the water now to her neck. Kirk felt the promise of paradise slipping away. "Wait. The saying, the motto. What does it say?" It was suddenly of great importance that he know.

She touched the necklet again and her jade eyes flashed disdainfully. "Our feelings toward humans, a remembrance of the way we are usually treated. 'From things about to disappear I turn away in time.' I can, can you?"

She dived then and in a flash was gone, only a deeper shadow cutting through the shadowed water.

"Don't go! Don't leave me!" Kirk called out in despair and swam as fast as he could to the point where he had last seen her. "Wait!" He had recognized her at last, her elusiveness, her eyes, her six-fingered hand at her throat. His love, his life. Not Ondine. "Chantal," he called in despair and said good-bye to the world of air, the world he had known before. He followed her down, blindly.

And he was drowning, drowning...