And I Must Bide
By Rob Morris
2268, Riverside, Iowa
The people stood around the boy. They were people he knew.
"You Are The Rock."
Said his hero, Uncle Jim.
"The Rock Is Marked."
Said his beloved ‘aunt, Nyota Uhura.
"The Rock Is Marked By The Enemy."
Said Spock, whom he admired.
"The Enemy Has Many Names."
Said Commander Sulu.
"The Rock seeks, and finds The Rock. Together they are The Rock."
Said Engineer Scott.
"The Destroyer fears The Rock."
Said Chekov, closest to Peter's age.
"And Upon That Rock shall those mighty teeth shatter like glass. Toothless, he is slain."
Said Doctor McCoy, as they vanished.
The dream broke, thankfully before he again stumbled over Grandma's body. Yes, the dream had surely ended. But still he could not see.
Commodore Cartwright pointed at the men holding the bound-up sack.
"Throw it to the floor. Hard."
They did that. He then kicked it, raising the sack up as he did. There was a snapping sound. It was the sound of ribs, at least three.
"Our Revered Master John Gill is no more! I am his designated heir. I demand my place as the Fourth Head of The Ancient Destroyer Of The Polluted Worlds."
One Admiral with an odd triangular haircut raised a seeming objection, seeming because it was all orchestrated to stage a show. A show whose star would like it not one bit.
"Order-Master Gill stole into Russia and recovered Hitler's brain-shavings, with which we even now raise up a true human leader. That is how he became Master. What do you offer up, Brock Cartwright?"
Cartwright pulled back the sack, at least partway. The face of a 13-year old boy with black hair became visible.
"Please! Sir, what have I done? Please, don't hurt me any...."
Without ever looking their victim in the face, the man brought his powerful fist down into the boy's head, ten times. He drew back blood the last time.
"I present the heir of Kirk the Xenophile. I present the blasphemous survivor of Lord Ghidorah's cleansing on Deneva. I present, for our empowerment and our use, the one true enemy of our god. I present The Rock itself, and we will use him to bring about The Cleansing. Not in some future time. But in the next two decades. The means to harm our lord will be the means by which we call him to begin our reign. After this night--Humanity Prevails!"
Admiral Teresa Bunson cut away the rest of the sack, and then threw the boy on his stomach.
"You're a bad little boy. Bad little boys don't get to keep their pants."
As the 'bacchanalia' began, a mystic ritual of binding was read. They knew it would work. After all, it had been used to good effect, back on Deneva, by the boy's own parents. He was unable to think straight.
But the boy saw every man in the room reach for his belt buckle.
As the long nightmare began at its very worst, the boy learned not to cry, for the cackles and taunts that came after each sob. He held on, as he knew his hero would do, and planned for the day he would escape. He accepted every ounce of the pain, and all the humiliation they heaped upon him as perhaps his payment for surviving when no other Denevan had. Then one of them mocked not the helpless boy they used with such abandon, but the Captain of the Enterprise.
There were thirty men and women, Admirals all, the elite of Starfleet Command, who participated in this atrocity, taking ten turns apiece and feeling very good about destroying the family that had opposed their dark works for so long.
"If only it was his alien-loving uncle on the ground before us. I'd make him squeal."
After the insult and threat, the boy slowly rose, again to peals of laughter. He screamed out one word, at decibel levels that brought corrupt Admirals and brutal guards both to their knees.
There were thirty men and women, Admirals all, not counting Cartwright, who reserved his abuse to skull-shaking hammer blows. By the time the boy's rage was spent, there were only fifteen, and Cartwright never regained full use of that arm. Admiralty Hall's plans for power were set back by a full seven years. Whatever plans they had for James Kirk, they were abandoned, at least in specific. The little boy had bought his hero, and the Federation, precious time by a sacrifice he only half-consciously made, when he chose to bring down his generational enemies, rather than escape.
But as a result, the captivity of Peter Kirk was a fact his surprising power could no longer alter.
Finally, his mother decided to let him be. The boy tried to go to sleep. After a call from her old boyfriend, she had nearly smothered him with attention. He never liked the guy, but couldn't understand why. He just gave him the creeps, especially when he seemed to stare his way. He hated being afraid without knowing why. He would come to hate it even more.
It began with a knocking inside his refresher. He told himself that, at six years old, he shouldn't pay attention to knocks inside closed rooms. Not him. Not someone of his age and intelligence. For all that resolve, the knocking continued.
"All right-let's do it!"
Reluctantly, he got up. He knew that the monster he sometimes saw in dim dreams wasn't in there. He knew there was no one in there. It was the wind, or whatever. He knew wrong. The door was opened, and a voice cried out.
It was a human male about twice the boy's age. He was naked and badly beaten, and bleeding from his butt. David read his mother's unused medical files voluminously, and the young genius made a guess as to what his visitor's condition meant.
"You--you've been ra-rap-let me call my Mom--she's a doctor. She'll help you."
The stranger cried out again.
"Find Daddy. They killed Grandma. Marcus, please tell Daddy."
"I--can't. I--don't have a father."
Young David Marcus's heart was about to burst through its chest. The stranger was scaring the shit out of him. The shining intelligence that helped him through so much was now helping him not at all.
"Daddy! I'm in Hell, Daddy! Come Get Me Out Of Hell! Why won't you come get me out of Hell, Daddy?"
"Don't do this to me. You're making me afraid. Please just stop."
"Marcus, the monster is coming. Tell Daddy. Tell him about the people."
David was quickly losing it.
"People!? WHAT people?!"
"The ones who look like people you know, only they talk all slow and funny. They whisk you away, and tell you all kinds of riddles. They're from the Bay Shore. They told me I had to stop the monster."
David shook as he saw moonlight pass through the apparition.
"Monster--the one with three heads?"
The image seemed to coalesce as the older boy woke up from his dream state.
"Huh-uh---David--this is important---you have to tell him I'm at The Hall. I don't know how I'm doing any of this but----aaaahahhahahshhsh!!!!!!!!! SHIT!!!"
The image caught fire as it faded. David didn't waste any time running for his mother's room as the image vanished entirely.
Carol Marcus responded to her son's cries without hesitation.
"David? David, you look as white as a ghost. Wanna sit here with me while I compose a letter to Captain Kirk?"
"Yeah, as long as I'm not in my room. I'll tell you what happened later."
"Dearest Jim: Despite our differences, I know how much Brianna and Peter meant to you. To lose them both like this in so brutal and mysterious a manner must shake you to your core. Of course David and I will attend the memorial services. I wish I had more to say, Jim. Be strong, as I have known you to be. Deepest Sympathies, Carol Marcus."
"Who were Brianna and Peter, Mom?"
"Oh, no! David, I didn't tell you, even with all the hovering I did? God---Jim's Mother and his nephew were both killed last night, at their home in Iowa. They think it was terrorists."
"Here? On Earth? Is there anything in the vidnews?"
Carol nodded and accessed pictures from vid-reports. The older woman had a kindly face, he thought. He could see her bringing him snacks and drinks. The other picture--the one of Kirk's nephew--made his blood run cold.
"David--what is it? David, you look like you've seen a----"
David didn't know he was staring at a picture of his own half-brother. He didn't know--yet about another half-brother, named Marcus, or Marc for short--who was just as dead as Peter was alive. He knew merely he was scared out of his mind. Dreams of the three-headed monster now seemed realer than ever. David's voice was breaking so hard, one might have thought he was in an early puberty. Still, he said what he had to.
"Mom--someone was in my room tonight."
She stared with a mock-glare over at his bed.
"So you think you're too old for this story? Peter, I've read this to you since you were newborn. I knew Sam and Aurelan before they even intended to have a child. So lay back and enjoy. That's an order, Mister!"
With no response, she finished up and got to his favorite part.
"The King and Queen could not believe their eyes. For over the hill came their son The Hidden Prince, alive and not dead, as the rebellious dukes had told them was so. In one hand, he held the Great Sword, obtainable by only the bravest of heroes. In the other hand--he held the huge horn of the Old Evil Dragon, whom he had slain. He fell to his knees before the monarchs, but was raised up and at long last told who he truly was. And he was held by his true parents, and the pains of slavery, depredation, depravity and cruelty at the hands of those dragon-loving dukes, all now slain, fell away to nothing. The King commanded that for his bravery, the story of the adventures of the Hidden Prince be told forever, with different names and different faces, so that he should not ever be forgotten. On that day, The Crown Prince, Hidden no more, was even given to sit in his father's throne in the great round hall, and from there he watched the moon's rise, and felt the call of the stars above as was his heritage. It was the end of all his tears."
Uhura looked over at the bed.
"There--now was that so bad?"
A voice came from the connecting foyer.
"Nyta? Nyta, honey. Its--time."
In dress uniform, the captain of The Enterprise saw the woman he had loved since Tarsus in her own dress uniform, sitting in a chair-and staring at a bed that had lain empty for three weeks. She began to tear up, not for the first time. His own tears were long past spent.
"It's not fair, Jim. Whoever they were, whatever they wanted--couldn't they have at least left his body?"
She was not a weak person. She was not a 'Captain's choice'. She had a function most smart people knew as vital. But at this moment, she was again a thirteen-year old, her transport waylaid by Kodos' forces for his ambush of the colonists. As sadistic guards grabbed at her tunic, she found hope in the form of a sixteen-year old titan who made them regret they were ever born. And when his eye began to turn toward the girl who looked older than she was, she didn't correct either his assumptions or his presumptions.
That was when being heroic accomplished something, she thought. Before an unknown enemy, striking at the Federation's heart, found a way to silently kill Brianna Kirk and seemingly erase Peter Kirk.
"Nyta--I need you to be strong for me. Spock's not himself."
The Vulcan had not been himself for a while, now. Not since his delivery of the captured Romulan Commander from the cloak incident had been interrupted by Romulan agents who retook and executed her.
"I'm with you, Jim. I just wish I didn't have to be."
Kirk closed the book.
"He's in Heaven, Nyta. It's the end of all his tears. Now let's go and remember his life."
Wiping away her own tears, Nyota Uhura thought she briefly saw a crystal coffin, with Peter Kirk sleeping inside of it. But that quickly faded, and the nearby funeral would push away all such images.
He checked the sleeping two-year old girl, as he had twenty times in twice as many minutes. His sister finally raised an objection.
"Monty, she is well. You would be well to let sleeping nieces lie. Och, how long it took to calm her after you showed! I need no repeat of that frenzy."
The miracle worker looked in, and quietly walked away. Hannah Scott Preston put her hand on her younger brother's shoulder.
"Perhaps you should go and be with your Captain. Surely he needs his every friend about him, at such a horrid time as this."
Montgomery Scott shook his head, and sat down.
"Nae, Cissy. It's here I need to be. I cannae keep myself composed, watching James Kirk in such a state. Even when we were in that doppelganger land of vipers, he kept himself. But not now. He is broken inside. He'll pick himself up, I've no doubt. But unless this day is somehow by God's grace undone, it will never leave him. Never."
"He was a good lad, then?"
"Och, yes. Our polite little guest. So resilient, after the death of a world. But there was more to him. Remember how the Bible said that people knew King David was made for greatness, even as a boy? There was something of that. Then--to hear it's all been snuffed out. To hear that he is more than dead, and less. The lad is merely gone. As though he never was at all."
Finally, the tired engineer fell asleep. In two minutes, his sister checked on her sleeping daughter Jessa, for no reason she could explain.
THE PRIVATE OFFICES OF GRAND ADMIRAL NOGURA
Mendez and Stone threw down the tape.
"There you have it, sir. Proof that these 'infamous murders' were not the work of aliens. The Hall. All of it."
Nogura looked up, after watching his godson cut down by a phaser rifle on the recording.
"You know I can't let you go forward with this. It-it would split Starfleet wide open! It could lead to civil war."
Stone slammed his open palm on the desk, rank and protocol be damned.
"Wake the hell up, sir! Those bigots have been fighting a civil war for decades. Now, you want us to keep quiet? Then give us the means to fight it for the side of the true Starfleet. You know, us poor saps who want to commit our resources to exploration, not genocide?"
"I could court-martial the both of you!"
"Go ahead, sir. We welcome it. Lots of attention. Lots of people who know we went to see you. Bring it on. In the name of George Kirk--bring it on."
Nogura sat down.
"George wouldn't have wanted Starfleet destroyed by well-intentioned crusaders, anymore than he would want The Hall to ascend any higher. Don't you see that this office is the only thing keeping the balance?"
"Till they take it. And they will, take it, Admiral. Restore The Commodity. Let those of us who can't catch that extra bar just because we don't hate non-Terrans at least oppose what they're doing."
Nogura closed his eyes, and tried to see George, his friend and mentor. The Clark to his Jimmy. It was getting harder all the time.
"No court challenges to the Hall's authority. I may be old, but I will be in this chair for a long time. I am the guarantee that they won't win. Now get out."
Mendez asked Stone something, as the two commodores left. They both felt sickened, necessary though the deal was.
"We watched that kid die, right?"
"I hope he is dead, for his sake."
"Jose--if he is still alive, if they are keeping him for some unholy reason, then make no mistake about what they are doing with him, even as we speak. Nogura talked about the Fleet being split in two. But if the boy's alive, then it's his backside being split in two. By people who will vastly enjoy making George and Jim's heir pay for opposing them."
The restored opposition of The Commodity, paid for in tender blood and flesh, would accomplish none of its goals in opposing Admiralty Hall.
In full dress uniform, The Captain Of The Enterprise heard the preacher's opening remarks.
"This sad day, we lay to rest the spirits of our sister Brianna Kirk, mother of James, and of our small brother, Peter Claudius Kirk, nephew of James, whom I am reliably told he idolized. What sense is there to be found in the passing of a child, murdered in the night in the heart of our modern paradise?"
A question Kirk had been asking himself for weeks. A question that still had no answer at all.
Chekov took a sip of his drink.
"He vwas a good kid. Smart, bright, obedient. Hikaru, how is it he can be gone?"
Sulu was several drinks ahead of his friend.
"He wasn't the greatest kid in creation, Pavel. I still remember the tantrum he threw when the Captain told him he couldn't stay on Enterprise."
He took another sip.
"But he was our kid. He was real. We played with him, comforted him for his loss. Balled our hands into fists when we learned about Deneva's little system of child labor. And then we wished him well, and sent him off into paradise."
He finished the glass.
"And that's where he is right now."
Pavel didn't need to decipher the dual meaning of Hikaru's words about paradise.
"It vwasn't just his kinship to the Kyptin. Vwhen Peter vwalked, I had thoughts of Rurik, Tsar Peter, Beowulf and Siegfried. Of...of how people spoke of King David, vwhen he was a boy."
Sulu looked at him, and shook his head.
"Don't. Don't turn a good kid into the new kingdom. You want Biblical, Meester Checkoff?"
"Shut up. Yew vant beebleekal? Okay. Then listen to Sulu. While the Captain and Spock and the Doc are off contacting the kid's maternal grandfather, out of freaking nowhere come the Bajorans, visiting the ship. Huh? They barely talk to the ole UF of P, but they want to visit us?"
'Checkoff' was now less insulted than intrigued.
"I did vwonder about that. Vwhy were they there?"
Sulu waved his hand.
"Their Kai--their religious leader--wanted to meet Peter. He hugged the kid, said his gods had kept their promise, and then he died. Bareil, the guy with him, said he was well over 500. Pavel, Lady T'Pau is not 300 yet. Most Vulcans don't even make it to her age. But this Kai guy was that old. He was there to see a kid who should have died along with his world, and then he himself died, happy as a lark."
Chekov began ordering seltzer, not wanting to get like Sulu.
"My rabbi had a close friend who vwas a Priest. He told me of a story in the Christian Bible that went like that."
Sulu took the remainder of Chekov's drink. He snorted in seeming laughter.
"That ain't the way I seen it, pally. The way I seen it, a kid who kept beating death was being reminded by it that it was still coming for him."
One eye now teared on the drunken officer.
"And it did. And where did it take him? Not at the front-lines of a war. Not near the Klingon or Romulan borders. But right here on Earth, in Iowa. We're a few thousand kilometers from Starfleet HQ, and just a few thousand more from the Federation's capital city. That's where a hero's heir dies. Suppose we wanna have kids? Where they gonna be safe?"
Sulu staggered toward the restroom, and Chekov decided it was a good idea to help him.
"But if yew think I'm messed up? Heh. I'm just drunk. The Cap'n's letting this thing kill im'!"
As Sulu made the restroom just in time, two more early entrants walked into the funeral reception.
"Mom? Why couldn't we go to the funeral? We got dressed up for it."
"Because, Captain Kirk's relatives and I never got along."
This was a lie. Carol Marcus simply didn't want to be around cousins and uncles who would not have hesitated to point out who young David looked like. She saw David looking at a portrait of Peter Kirk.
"Is it me, or do we look alike a little?"
Carol pulled him away.
"It's just you. I don't see it at all."
"Just wondering. I mean, if you'd married Captain Kirk, that guy would have been my cousin."
"I didn't marry Jim. He wasn't your cousin."
In fact, this was true. The two were half-brothers.
"I don't get you two, Mom. You went out when I was like, really little, and then again when Enterprise got all burnt up before last year. You get all lit up, and he acts like we're big pals, and then you go off to talk, you yell, he yells, he tells me he's sorry--and then he and that lady with the legs go off somewhere."
Carol rolled her eyes.
"Uhura. Her name is Nyota Uhura."
"She wears those stockings!"
*He's six, at his half-brother and grandmother's funeral, Carol thought. Yet he's scoping the same woman who beat me out for Jim.*
"We were all friends with a man named Gary Mitchell, David. He died suddenly, and we felt bad, and went to comfort each other. That's what you saw."
"I guess. So why'd all that power drive him crazy? Did Captain Kirk really have to kill him?"
Carol turned so quickly, she feared her neck would snap.
"How did you find out about that?"
David just leaned back in a chair and smiled again.
"One of these days, I'll get into your special super-duper ultra-triple encrypted database, too. Can't wait to see what you've got hidden there!"
An enraged Marcus actually grabbed her son's arm.
"Why are you acting like such a stinking brat?"
He shook her off, and pointed at the dead boy's picture.
"Because you won't let me tell Captain Kirk about how I saw his nephew the night he got killed, and all the things he told me. He might still be alive, so he can be rescued!"
Carol heard footsteps, and had to work fast. She knelt down by her son.
"David, look. I once pulled a--nasty prank--on Captain Kirk. I mean really bad. Something I cannot ever undo or take back. If you tell him what you saw right now, when he's so upset, and it turns out to be wrong, he may think I'm trying to hurt him again, and then he may even hate me."
Her conscience had played a great game with Carol, over her choice to attempt to morally entrap James Kirk by becoming pregnant with his child. It had stung her ever more sharply as she closed the unworthy trap by making the full abandonment of his space-lane career a condition of his even being a part of David's life.
"Why? What'd you do to him?"
Then came the delivery date, a month too early. All she had remembered were some stupidly catty remarks made to Nyta, who had been driving, before Marcus lost consciousness. When Carol awoke, she was a mother, and David was fine. But the being who called herself guardian to the Kirks was there as well. The story she told was that the weakened Carol Marcus could not have borne the pains of delivery, even sedated. It was a pain psychically taken on instead by the friend she had bragged of betraying-Uhura. David had a connection to those legs he couldn't imagine.
"I took something from his house. Something he wanted us to share, but I didn't."
The game had also been pointless. For James Kirk was already a father as a substitute for his sterile brother Sam. Peter Kirk, not David Marcus, was Jim's firstborn, a fact scheming Aurelan dug into Carol every chance she got.
For his part, David agreed to keep quiet, but muttered when she was well away.
"Sure. If I confessed to kind-of stealing something like that, I'd be grounded for life."
With his mother gone, David now looked well away from the portrait of Peter Kirk. The face he truly had seen that night still haunted him.
*Hey, is that Mister Spock?*
The Vulcan hybrid was supposed to have been no mean scientist himself, and his reputation had grown along with Kirk's. An idea crept into the boy's head.
"I promised not to tell Captain Kirk I saw his nephew. Mom never mentioned telling his First Officer."
As one utilizing dubious logic sought to approach one of normally strong logic, an apology was extended to a superior officer.
"Captain, I am so sorry. But I liked your nephew. I thought I could handle being here as we said goodbye. I couldn't."
A staggering Hikaru Sulu expected any number of punishments as Kirk looked him over.
"Ensign Chekov, take the Lieutenant back to my mothe--back to my house. Both of you sleep it off. There's no one this hasn't hit, apparently. Be very ready to leave in thirteen hours."
McCoy looked at the pair with a great deal less sympathy, after Kirk walked off.
"B-Complex, lightly toasted plain bread, lots of water. And don't let me see you like this again."
Chekov protested, being more coherent than his friend.
"Sir, vwe vwere not carousing or celebrating. Vwhat has transpired is beyond our comprehension, and it caught up with us."
McCoy showed no more understanding than before.
"Then get past it really quickly, Mister Chekov. Because rule number one is that the young die as much as anyone else. Rule number two is that officers can't change rule number one. Nor can one bright, resilient little boy. No matter how well he was loved."
Nyta Uhura sat on the other side of the room, amazed that she still had either an appetite or tears to cry. She only knew for certain that she was not crying them for Brianna Kirk.
Before her was the imposing figure of Doctor Thomas Sorel, Aurelan Kirk's father.
"Doctor. We weren't sure you were coming."
The surgically-altered Romulan shook his head.
"I had considered bypassing this gathering, my poor dear grandson aside. I had enormous difficulties with Mrs. Kirk. Bitter and deep difficulties."
Uhura did not lecture him, as perhaps he expected.
"I adopted Peter in a private ceremony. But my parents will not walk on ground near Brianna Kirk's body. She once did something plainly unforgivable to my family."
"She forced the destruction of your child by Jim, from your youthful encounter on bloody Tarsus. A savage blow to one so young."
Uhura was a bit stunned, to say the least.
"Doctor, how could you know that?"
"I ask forgiveness, my dear. Your parents had agreed to act as witnesses on my behalf. Before this had occurred, I was in the process of beginning a custody suit for my grandson. Brianna's instability aside, it was long past time I showed the boy that I cared."
Nyta was still annoyed, but understood her normally very private parents all too well. Brianna had struck at her heart like one of Tolkien's Ringwraiths. In fact, the comparison was more apt than most knew.
"She changed towards the end. She stopped hurting Peter. Started acting like a Grandma, instead of a thug."
While the reason for this literal change of spirit would remain unknown, its irony was not lost on the man called Thomas Sorel.
"It would appear then, that both Brianna and I changed our ways far, far too late. Where do you find comfort in this grim time, Miss Uhura?"
She held up a small book that told the story of the world, depending on who you asked.
"Where I've always ended up finding it. It's gotten dog-eared near the Book Of Job."
Sorel rubbed one of his long-ago altered ears.
"I have read Dante, though not for comfort. I am for some reason stuck fast on the passages that describe The Fallen One, and his three hideous faces on one body. I must go. For while I do not blame Jim for this, I fear misspeaking in our common grief. Nyota--anything you require of me is instantly yours. For you were in that single month more of a parent to Peter than any legal claimant could hope to be. Be well, child. Peter's spirit is now with the child taken from you, so long ago."
With his nervous mother trying to approach Captain Kirk, David Marcus stole towards Mister Spock.
"Sir? Can I talk to you?"
The Vulcan seemed all business to David. In fact he was struggling with the rampant emotion surrounding him.
"You are Doctor Marcus' son?"
"Yeah. Listen. My Mom doesn't want me saying this to anyone--but I think that Peter Kirk is alive."
Spock raised an eyebrow, which seemed to throw David off, just a bit.
"Is this some manner of prank? If so, it is extremely inappropriate, in this time and place."
But while David got nervous, nor did he back off.
"It's not, I swear it! The night he was supposed to have been killed, I saw him. He was like a ghost. I didn't even know who he was, till my Mom told me later about the Kirks, here in Iowa."
Spock let him continue.
"So you only saw a picture of Peter Kirk's face after the visitation you speak of?"
"Mmm-hmm. He--he didn't have any clothes on--and his butt was bleeding. I read one of my Mom's books. It said that-rape. I didn't want to find out what it really meant."
Spock fought off a shudder.
"David--did the image speak to you?"
"Yeah. He said to tell Captain Kirk he was alive. And that he was at a Hall. Then he burned up and I never saw him again. Why would he tell me, though?"
Spock put the pieces together. A boy whose heritage included telepathy, and who had shown the signs of such an ability. An unknown half-brother, sharing genes and blood. A Hall that held James Kirk not as a hero, but as an obstacle and the son of its fiercest critic. A Hall rumored to have witnessed the most horrid sort of depravities.
"You, David, like he, are a very bright young man. Peter, if it was him, knew you could be trusted to relay his vital message. Now, I ask only that you obey your mother and speak of this no more."
Relieved, David indeed walked off, confident that he had done the right thing.
"Spock to Enterprise. Beam me to the following coordinates, near Starfleet Headquarters in San Francisco."
If Spock was the legend his treacherous former bond-promised had said, then the place he had beamed to was one of a few places he could go and not be immediately noted. A Vulcan might not even turn heads on Earth anymore. One seen in San Francisco or Paris would not even catch the eye, and a Starfleet officer was as one camouflaged by commonness. Even so, Spock's beam-in had been at an odd remove, so that even this would not draw one iota of potential attention. With Admiralty Hall in sight like a grim face peeking over a hill, Spock began a proprietary ritual of House Surak, taught by law only by Sarek himself, and then only to those he called his son.
"Kunlunrand'cage--I call upon the outward sweep. My mind is a thing unbound. Touch is a sign of savagery. The mind I seek is known to me. The mind of his father is known to me. He is of my house, though at a great remove. He is Rihannsu, and I seek his return."
Spock saw the sidewalks and the streets, and the concrete and the clay around him fall away to nothing, and his astral being approached the Hall. A man dressed as a Biblical prophet appeared in his sight.
*Beware those pillars of stone--they are filled with the dust ground from the bones of the living.*
Then, Spock saw in physical form one he could not have expected. She wore an eye-patch.
"That little animal took my eye! MY EYE!"
"Be calm, Mistress T'Pring. For you in turn made him wish he had not been born. The little beast's privates were reddened beyond belief."
A Vulcan in the most xenophobic spot on Terra. That Vulcan also being the most xenophobic of her kind.
Yet, he reasoned, it was no less logical than a social club for Admirals rising to become a rival to the CIC for control of Starfleet itself. A direct result, he told himself, of Human resistance to specificity. The Hall had no legal basis for its power, yet somehow it used that very fact to accrue power that no one could take away. So he pushed away the walls and entered.
*Don't go in there, Mister.*
Spock turned and saw the spirits of children, more children than he had seen since Miri and the Onlies. They were haggard, in ripped and torn clothes, those who had clothes. The older teens refused to meet his gaze, looking ashamed. One little girl bit her lip before speaking.
*Don't. The Bad Lady will get you. Then she'll tell your Mommy and Daddy she's looking for you when she's not.*
Spock moved forward, and heard mewling, cooing noises. The girl from before pointed.
*Don't step on the babies!*
The Vulcan saw the tiny beings crawling about the floor. One of the teens in a cadet's uniform stepped forward.
*One of them is mine, Commander. Admiral Kellick used me, got me pregnant, and then he sacrificed my baby's heart to the Ancient Destroyer. I killed myself right in front of this place, to embarrass him, but they covered it up. They--they have contingency plans for everything! You can't even slap them.*
Spock used a misplaced piece of logic to escape these unfortunates.
"If I am as a thing intangible, then the floor will not keep me in one place. I will sink straight through it."
It briefly occurred to Spock that if he were aboard a starship and truly had been rendered physically intangible, this thinking would be less than useful. But he was a mental projection, so this line of thinking was not long pursued.
The sensation of his friend and captain was all about him, yet it also led in two vastly differing directions. Power and presence that was both better hidden than in James Kirk, yet was also more blatant as well. More was asked of this one, yet the debt to his elders was twice as pronounced. He was more than what they were, and he was nothing without those that came before him.
"Peter, is it you?"
A light rose up from the floors below, and met Spock halfway. The image was as solid as Spock's own, meaning this was a living being, not a ghost as he had seen. The captive soul saw him, and virtually sprouted a smile.
"Mister Spock! You came to get me out of here!"
As though physical, the image rushed forward and embraced a flabbergasted Spock, who now knew beyond all doubt that the worst sort of evil beings sat near the top of Starfleet Command.
"Your ordeal is over, Peter."
A single corn on the cob was all the Captain Of The Enterprise could eat. His thoughts were literally constricting his stomach.
It was an inside job. That was what all his friends said. TJ Durant all but said that Kirk should invade the Hall, guns blazing. Matt Decker's widow said that she in no way believed that Finnegan was responsible for what happened to Starbase 50, that the Hall had been playing him.
"No. I refuse to accept it."
A creature bred for duty, James T. Kirk could accept that the sovereign was distasteful, or mercurial, or had corrupt aspects. But for Starfleet Command itself to have played a part in his son's death, too much of what he believed would have to be dead wrong. His thinking was flawed, but it was also spoke to the needs of a man who lived by and in ways was made up of his deeply-held beliefs. So while he didn't like the Hall, Kirk refused to call it evil. And so another nail was placed in Peter's empty coffin.
"I'm really sorry about your mother and your nephew. Are you all right?"
From his pain and confusion, Jim looked up, and then he actually smiled. The day had at least one bright spot.
"It's good to see you, David."
David seemed somewhat nervous. Jim felt it, too. At least with the departed Peter, he didn't have to pretend they weren't related. With David, he had to watch every last word, and at least pretend that he didn't want to scoop this boy up and hug the stuffing out of him.
"You don't mind that I'm here?"
*Careful, Jim*, he told himself.
"Of course not, David. I've always liked you."
But the boy was as naturally intelligent as his half-brother, and as apt to rely on the scientific method as Peter was to rely on instinct.
"Then why'd you leave? I mean, you left when I was really little. Then you left again before last year. Why do you keep coming back, if you're not gonna stay?"
*Ask your mother about her terms for a relationship, kid. Ask her about a deal that has me giving up space and her giving up--nothing.*
"Your mother and I tried, David. Then we tried again. It just wasn't meant to be. It isn't anybody's fault. I was just hurt by the death of my friend, Gary, and it made your mother and me think we could do what we couldn't."
David still looked skeptical, but now changed the topic. He pointed again at Peter Kirk's portrait.
"Can I ask you a question about your nephew?"
Jim imagined David tagging along with his half-annoyed, half-overjoyed, older half-brother, and nodded.
"Go right ahead."
David got a sly look, like a trap had closed.
"Why did you kill his whole planet? Mom says that Deneva Three looks like Armageddon hit. She's not even sure it can be terraformed anymore."
Of course, Jim reasoned, Starfleet would ask someone of Carol's caliber to look at possibly reviving Deneva. How David found out was a question, but then, so was how Peter survived his trip through Deneva's zombie-infested capital city. And why Peter was now dead.
"David, there was a plague. A plague of the kind you only hear about in legends and holy books. I didn't do what I did lightly. My own brother and sister-in-law became--monsters. What I did was not a good thing. But I had no choice."
David looked at him, and said some surprising words.
David at last sat down next to him.
"I know that you're gonna tell me about how I shouldn't know about Deneva, and stuff like that. But first you answered my question. Like I mattered. Was this how you talked to your nephew?"
Jim's heart strained against the simple truth. The truth that could destroy Carol's lie, and give Kirk back the son he was burying this day. But he had a good reason for keeping his silence, far better than Carol's.
"Yeah. He could go where he wasn't supposed to, though. He cried when I said he couldn't live aboard Enterprise with me. He beat up three of my crewmen who gave him grief."
David's eyes went wide.
Jim smiled, and breathed in the air of this simple, loving moment.
"Sure. He always ate his spinach."
"Was it at least cream spinach?"
"Nah. Light stuff. Garlic and olive oil. Tastes great."
Without warning, the gentle conversation took a grim turn.
"Was your mother afraid of you? Because I think sometimes my Mom is afraid of me. Like I might do something, or turn into something. What sort of Mom was your mother?"
The query had Jim stunned and silent. His mother, Brianna, was indeed afraid of him, perhaps mortally afraid, reflected in her abusive behavior. Just as Sam and Aurelan had so feared Peter, they made him the parent, the grown-up of their home. Carol had been beaten, as well, so he could not see her making her son endure that, and Jim had enough feelers out to know if she had. Carol's nature was to take control, just as Kirk's was, so having a child cater to her seemed too much like surrender. So if the boy was right in his feelings, then what form did Carol's fear take?
"What's going on here?"
Carol stood before them with folded arms, looking highly impatient, which to Jim always made her look sexy. It also made it clear that what Carol feared in David was the boy's father.
Peter's astral image looked up at Spock, still smiling.
"I knew that Uncle Jim wouldn't leave me in this place. I think its Hell, Mister Spock. They hurt me, and they laughed while they did it. They made me naked, and---"
The smile faded, and Spock knew that time was of the essence. The boy would break, if left too long with these monsters.
"Help me to find your location, Peter. Where are you inside this Hall?"
"I'm at the very bottom. Commodore Cartwright said he was taking me straight down to the pit. I don't feel anyone beneath me."
He would contact Enterprise, and go immediately back to Iowa. With the Captain and the others, he would find a way to beam Peter to safety, shields and safeguards aside. Then there would be a reckoning. Even T'Pring would fall, the loss of her House and station stinging more than a mere empty eye socket ever could.
"Await my return, Peter. You shall not be here long."
Again the captive soul embraced him.
"You're my hero. Just like Jim."
Spock withdrew, and attempted to return to his body. But a thundering voice, a twisting of his own, batted him back.
*Coward! Do you plan to do for this child what you would not do for your own?*
The mental image of another Spock appeared, harsh and unyielding as the Vulcan Forge.
*The boy is dead, as is the girl. Let them play together in the boneyard.*
Spock tried to overcome his mental warden.
"No. This is not Hellguard. I had no chance to save my daughter. But I may help my friend's son. He is a good young man, who believes he is in Hell. In many ways, he is. If I possess the power to deliver him from that place, and fail to act, then what am I?"
The other Spock, not an alternate personality so much as a mental tripwire, gave up not a centimeter.
*The boy's pain is no concern of mine. You made me to enable the shattered thing you were to rise again. I am the lie that permits the legend of Spock to go forward. I am the stopper to that which drains away the Vulcan son of Sarek. Because I exist and keep you from staring at your humiliation and destruction, no one knows that Spock of Vulcan was ground to powder by the Romulans, whom he knew of years before the Federation. You may not lie once. Your mind cannot stand the strain of rescuing the one child while leaving the other to die. Speak of this to Kirk, and you will be a hero residing in a madhouse like Tantalus. If forced to truly consider your pain, you will be incapable of even weaving baskets.*
Spock saw a young boy in a living hell. He saw himself possibly disintegrating beyond reclamation.
"The boy is strong. He will endure."
The clamps began to reset. He had no daughter. He learned of who the Romulans were two, not seven, years ago. David Marcus was a boy who had a nightmare. Peter Kirk was dead. He was Spock, the good right hand of a living prince of the universe, and that was that.
"Spock to Enterprise. Initiate transport back to Riverside, Iowa."
And if a voice in the darkness asked where his rescuers were, it didn't do so very long.
*Mister Spock? Are you still there? When are you coming back for me? You promised me you'd come back. Don't leave me here...*
David looked at his mother.
"We're just talking."
David's eyes shifted and rolled as he got up and walked away.
"Mom, I didn't tell him about my nightmare, where the Klingon was in my closet, you know? So calm down."
Carol didn't lecture him on his tone of voice, correctly gleaning that he had at least technically kept his promise. But her own tone now left much to be desired.
"Nice try, Jim."
He was too far into his grieving to cipher out what she meant, or to care.
"Nice try what? What invisible line have I crossed now, Carol?"
"You--you tried to tell him the truth, Jim. Go on, deny it."
He looked at her. He began to forget why he had ever loved her.
"Which truth would that be, Carol? The identity of his father, or the real reason his mother got pregnant with him?"
"Oh, that is low, even for you, Jim."
He stood up, and looked her in the eye.
"You've never seen low for me, Doctor Marcus. Pray you never do."
His anger was now feeding hers as well. Opportunities that were lost, chances that only seemed to exist. But ten years of silence were about to begin, and what came directly before that would be ugly.
"I think I've seen it today. Two of your family gone. David's sympathy for you at its height. Your phony call after the murders, saying suddenly you didn't want David to know who you were to him. All so you can sit him down here, become his pal, tell him your revised version of our time together, and what do you know, he starts begging me to summer aboard Enterprise. Mission failure, Captain. Mission failure."
The day had gotten as absolutely crappy as it could get for James Kirk. So he went for broke.
"I was serious about not telling him. Dammit, Carol, they're killing Kirks. David's best chance for survival is if he isn't one. Now, before you take your son and get out of my sight, two things. One--damn you forever posing as Nyta's friend, when you had tactics like pregnancy in mind. Two--David is my son, but he is not me. Don't fear him, or try to control him more than you need to. Bri, Sam and Aurelan could all tell you about why that doesn't work. If you try to pull away the thread of me that's in him, you'll tear apart the entire tapestry."
Carol shook her head.
"Tell me, Jim. Is this advice based on the stellar job you did raising Peter?"
He let her have that last word, no longer regarding Carol Marcus as an honest opponent. David looked over at him as they walked out, perhaps a bit angry that history had gone a third round on his heart.
A small voice cried out.
*Daddy? Daddy, help me. I'm in Hell, Daddy. Please come and get me out of Hell. Why am I in Hell, Daddy? I didn't do anything. Please, Daddy. I'm burning, and I'm cold, and there are demons laughing at me. Why won't you come and get your little boy out of Hell?*
Kirk awoke in his chair, not quite crying out but very startled. Thomas Sorel stood in front of him. Kirk had thought, however briefly, that Spock's father Sarek had come to pay his respects. The voice was that similar.
"A nightmare, Jim?"
"Tom? I hadn't known you were here."
"I was not sure what we had to say to one another. I do not blame you for this tragedy. Do you blame me?"
Kirk asked an obvious question for one who knew Sorel's secret.
"Could it have been the Tal Shiar?"
Sorel shook his head.
"The Tal Shiar do not know I am alive. They strike in completeness. If it were them, Brianna would be alive, but I would not, and they would have seized the headstone marker of Peter's younger brother Marc, as well, even though his grave is empty. The Orions would have mailed us Peter's head, by now, or a verifiable picture of it. The Klingons would have left him for you to find, with a message scrawled in blood from which they had extracted all non-Kirk DNA. While I am not familiar with Kzinti behavior, they do not seem the sort to laugh in silence over such a thing as this. So in the end, all we either of us has is the vague promise of your father's sworn enemies that they will find who killed his wife and grandson. I wish you well, Jim. But I suspect neither of us will sleep well for a very long time."
The next blow was a gentler one, but it presaged one ending to a long relationship of fits and starts and stops.
"Nyta? How are you holding up?"
She didn't push her lover off or away. But Uhura didn't look at the living father. She looked at the portrait of the dead son.
"Jim, don't take this the wrong way, but I need space. I loved that boy. I had invested my hopes in his future, and now he doesn't have one. Please understand."
He kissed her on the cheek.
"You were more a mother to him than Aurelan or Brianna. He loved you, and he was not alone in that. And space? Well, my darling--I need all the space there is, right now. Just pull me out of my pit, once in a while."
She caressed one side of his face.
"When we were kids on Tarsus, running from Kodos' forces, looking each other over while we sought justice, we thought we were superheroes. So why couldn't we save one young man we both loved?"
Kirk had no answer, and let her walk away. The final blow would not be registered for some time to come, but it would be telling. Kirk saw Spock come back.
"Spock, can I tell you something?"
Knowing better but doing it anyway, Kirk placed his hand on Spock's shoulder.
"I had a brother named Sam, but I never knew how broken he was by life. I had a brother named Gary, but it seems I perhaps never knew him at all. Today, I buried one son and had to accept that I will never be known to another. But again I have two brothers, and they are named Spock and Leonard. Life is getting too short and too cheap, Spock. So let me be forgiven in advance for saying this. I love you, brother. I'm sorry for violating your people's customs, but I am compelled to say it. Peter told me he hoped that one day, he would have your strength. You were his hero, as well as I or Uhura were. Through saying this, I honor his memory. Can you forgive me for embarrassing you like this?"
Some part of Spock screamed, to be praised so by the man whose son he had just condemned by way of forgivable weakness. But this part was not given voice.
"I find nothing at all objectionable in what you have said, Jim. And I thank you for it."
It would occur slowly, the rift between these two. In time, the girl supposedly dead would return, and Kirk would wonder why Spock kept her at a distance. Then, other questions would arise. Finally, the secret of what Spock knew and kept secret would be revealed. What followed would make even a surrounding apocalypse seem tame. A father angry that his firstborn son spent ten years in a cryonic dungeon for no good reason would exact the final revenge upon yet another brother whose pain he never knew.
His uncle Bill Kirk would see to all legal issues concerning Peter and Brianna and the house. So it was that at the request of one not a brother but always a dear friend, Kirk left his home in Iowa forever, stopping before Enterprise to see a small home in Scotland.
The engineer came out, holding a smiling little girl.
"This, Cap'n, is the reason I couldnae be with ye to honor the lad. Isn't she a treasure?"
Kirk smiled, and leaned close to little Jessa Preston, who grabbed his nose.
"She's an angel, Scotty."
Invited in to Hannah Scott Preston's home, the grieving father lost himself in a little face that knew nothing of mysterious death.
"Can I sing to her? I don't know anything Scottish."
"Go on. But only so long as it's at least a wee bit Celtic."
Rocking the girl, Kirk saw the boy, once a toddler, who he thought he would never hold again.
"Oh Danny boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling From glen to glen, and down the mountain side. The summer's gone, and all the flowers are dying..."
The adventures of a mighty ship, its legendary Captain, and his crew of heroes, would continue without the lost boy, and to see them, one would think the loss had been dealt with, long ago and far away. But while this was mostly the case, nor would it or he ever be entirely forgotten, right up until the day a miracle occurred. Yet then and there, songs of mourning came to a close as life went on, as life always does.
"...'Tis you, 'tis you must go..."
Kirk shed one last tear for his Peter.
"...and I must bide."
2278, USS Enterprise
Spock sat him down in front of the comm-station inside the Vulcan's quarters. McCoy stood by him, looking anxious but not unhappy.
"Would you gentlemen mind terribly much telling me what's going on? You said it was an urgent matter, but so far I'm not seeing it."
Spock activated the monitor screen.
"My father wishes to speak with you, Captain."
"Now, you just take it easy and let Sarek talk, Jim. And No, nothing's wrong with Saavik."
Kirk turned to the monitor and saw the Vulcan Ambassador.
"Sarek? What could be this important? Couldn't it have been done on the Bridge?"
"I fear not, James. What must be said here must remain for now a tightly held secret."
Sarek motioned off-screen.
"There is a young man here who wishes to speak with you."
Kirk wondered for half a second what a young Vulcan could have to say to him. But though the boy who came on screen had Vulcan ancestors, his face and his name left no doubt of why Sarek had called with such urgency. His voice broke as he fought back tears.
These were tears of joy. The boy spoke words he had waited for a hellish decade to say and to have heard.
"Uncle Jim? I'm Alive!"
For then and there, every question was set aside. For the worst thing that had ever happened to James Kirk had been summarily undone.
Soon, Uhura would join her man in welcoming their boy back from death, as would his crew, and in months to come, this would be a physical welcome, not transmitted words and images.
It was a happy moment.
"But come ye back when summer's in the meadow
Or when the valley's hushed and white with snow
t'is I'll be there in sunshine or in shadow
Oh Danny boy, oh Danny boy, I love you so."