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Success is failure turned inside out

A silver tint on the clouds of doubt

But you never can tell how close you are

It may be near when it seems so far

You have to stick to the fight

And when things go wrong don't you quit….


The trees he walked amongst grew tall and thin. The only colour glowed in the parasitical moss that dripped from the overhanging branches in cascades of crimson, jade and amethyst against white bark and pale grey leaves. Low bushes abounded, choked thickly with distorted globular fruits of indigo, wound about with vines and strange climbing plants, all reaching for the translucent light glimmering through the mists.

Strange scents tickled his nostrils, unfamiliar and curiously intoxicating, the fragrances of an alien world. He saw quite clearly, despite the vaporous haze that churned and eddied around him, caressing him with unseen hands, brushing his feet as he continued to push, unperturbed, through the crowding vegetation.

There was, he realized, someone else in the forest beside himself. Someone or something that remained concealed among the thickets, travelling a parallel course, heading for the tower that he somehow knew lay just up ahead. It played a game of hide and seek with him, a glimmering radiance, appearing just on the edge of sight until he glanced in that direction, only to disappear again in an instant. Unafraid, he paid it little heed, though he recognised that it could mean him mischief. The mist continued to hold him captive, drawing him on, ever deeper into the secret realm of Wraith's interior.....


Spock sat up with a gasp. His heart hammered a rapid tattoo against his lower ribs, witness to the sudden spurt of irrational fear. With open eyes he stared into stygian blackness and for an instant, remained confused, unable to understand why he could not see. Then memory returned. The transporter had malfunctioned and he had sustained injuries - further injuries - he amended stoically, recalling that last burst of agonising pain as the Dha'ka Ryhanen picked him up like a babe in arms and carried him … presumably to the place he now found himself. No doubt, the quiet area Doctor McCoy had specified. He shifted on the bed, head tilted, listening.

"Captain?" He exclaimed softly, "Doctor McCoy?"

A faint echo returned, giving him the general dimensions of the room, but neither the good doctor nor Captain Kirk answered his call. Apparently, they regarded him well enough to remain alone, at least for a time. That encouraged him and without hesitation, he pushed aside the thick duvets and swung his legs out – only to find himself nearer to the actual floor than he had anticipated. Spock stifled a shocked cry as his left ankle, both knees and an elbow impacted on solid wood. Unbalanced, his momentum carried him forward until he collided with the corner of the nightstand, striking his brow against the wooden surface with a loud thud.

The sound of objects falling and glass breaking resounded through the quiet room. Stunned, he leaned back against the bed; essentially just a wide dais raised a foot or two above the floor and covered with assorted bedding. A little late he realized that lack of sight in this strange environment could prove far more hazardous than aboard the Enterprise. If nothing else, the experience taught him how much he needed to exercise both caution and coordination if he was to survive any additional unpleasant surprises. Further, that it was long past time he learned how to be blind.

He took in a deep breath, closing his eyes as he steadied himself, discovering an odd sort of peace in the gesture. Although the world was just as dark with eyes open or closed, he found the action focussed all his perceptions on those senses still available to him.

Spock pushed himself up onto his bruised knees and from there got slowly to his feet. A quick clap of his hands threw back a faint resonance, enough to tell him that a wall stood nearby. More guarded than before, he shuffled forward, his natural elegance distorted by the awkward stiffness of uncertainty. Arms extended at shoulder height, his intendion was to circumvent the room by using the perimeter and therefore find his way about without too much inconvenience. Before he did anything else, however, he had to find his clothes, for someone had thoughtfully removed them. Leaving him quite naked was no doubt McCoy's foolproof way of keeping him from wandering elsewhere. Fortunately, the doctor had also increased the temperature of the room to an almost comfortable level.

"I can't recall giving you permission to leave that bed, Mr. Spock."

McCoy's voice came from across the room. It startled Spock from his state of intense concentration. Only then did he become aware of the doctor's entry into the room.

"Besides which, it's a sure thing your hands aren't gonna be much use way up there. You're more likely to bump your shins than hit your nose. Try lower down 'bout waist high."

"Thank you, Doctor." Dutifully Spock dropped his hands in response to the logic of McCoy's statement and immediately encountered the back of a low chair.

How basic, he thought ruefully. How simple and eminently sensible. Spock would have missed it entirely with his hands held so unnaturally high, cracking his knees or stumbling as a reward for his efforts. "Perhaps you can help me further by describing this room and the rest of its contents."

McCoy stared at the First Officer in sudden absurd affection, though he would rather die than ever admit to the emotion, especially in front of Spock. Whatever life threw at the Vulcan, he managed to rise above it, seemingly without bitterness or anger, indomitable to the last.

The Doctor felt his throat constrict. Incongruous tears stung his eyes as he watched Spock trying to orientate himself. He wiped them away surreptitiously, clearing his throat before he complied with Spock's request, detailing the room in a clear and concise manner as if describing a tray of surgical instruments set before him. He made a special point of mentioning the large but delicate glass ornament set on a side table, an obvious danger to the blind First Officer.

"You have a distinct talent for observation and description, Doctor." Spock said appreciatively. "Perhaps you should think of changing profession."

"Yeah, as if I need a new career …" McCoy replied without thinking and then cursed himself for being so clumsy. "I'm sorry, Spock."

"Please, do not castigate yourself on my behalf, Doctor McCoy." The First Officer turned from his fingertip inspection of large floor to ceiling windows to stare in McCoy's general direction, his expression enigmatic. "It would be illogical to believe that I could remain on the Enterprise as I am. Vulcan's have a propensity for two or even more careers during their lifetime. I have merely reached the turning point sooner than I had expected."

He hesitated for an instant before going on, "What continues to perturb me is the Captain's inability to accept my … disability."

You're right about that, McCoy thought as he crossed the room to join Spock. Jim's an eternal optimist. He isn't gonna give up on you without a fight, that's for sure.

James Kirk was in his mid-thirties, the youngest captain in the Fleet, handsome and athletic, while Spock was six years older, tall and lean, typically Vulcan with an intellectual's wiry physique. Neither man resembled the other either emotionally or physically, yet there existed a likeness in spirit that nobody could miss. Those who knew them both well, and sometimes even casual acquaintances, were more impressed with their similarities than their differences. It was not something you could ever put your finger on exactly. Certainly, you could never mistake one man for the other. However, both had that air of command, a natural authority, so used to being obeyed that they did not have to raise their voices or resort to threats. Jim Kirk and Spock were a matched set. McCoy could understand Jim's reluctance to accept the inescapable; losing Spock would be like having his right arm amputated at the shoulder.

"Spock, there're three things that Starship Captains in general - but Jim Kirk in particular - advocate. Women and children first, always go up with the ship, and never forget a friend …"

Spock nodded, eyes hooded in thought. "Agreed, Doctor. However, he must be persuaded to acknowledge the reality of the situation for his own sake."

"Give him time. He'll come round eventually. You know, he never left your side while you were unconscious. It took a hell of a while to convince him you were going to be all right and only when he saw you start to recover did I finally get rid of him. You're an … important … part of Jim's life. Naturally enough, he's worried about you."

Spock frowned. He folded his arms, expression impenetrable, conscious that McCoy watched him with eagle eyes. "There is no need for his concern."

"No?" McCoy's tone was openly sceptical. It was then he noticed the blood on Spock's face. "Hey, what's all this?"

Spock gingerly touched the cut on his forehead, grateful for the distraction. "A … miscalculation, Doctor."

"Here, let me take a look. Hmmm, that's a pretty deep miscalculation." McCoy dipped into his medical pouch and came up with a portable tissue regenerator. It was a moment's work to repair the damage. "There, that should do it. Try to be more careful in future. Jim will have my hide if you get hurt again."

"The Captain cannot believe you were responsible for the transporter feedback, Doctor. That would be illogical."

"It was my idea to route the sensor web through your senceiver implant. I should have known better."

"I also sanctioned the procedure. It should not have proved unsafe or deleterious."

"At least the neural damage is already healing. You'll need to take it easy for a few days is all. Lots of bed rest, a few gentle excursions, no tilting at windmills. That sort of thing."

"Tilting at windmills, Doctor," Spock, perplexed, ignored McCoy's unpalatable statement about 'bed rest'.

"Walking into inanimate objects is definitely not allowed, Mr. Spock."

"Ah, I see." Spock's eyebrows rose in unison. He ran a finger over the insignificant new scar on his brow, head on one side, considering. "I will attempt not to do so in future, Doctor McCoy."

The First Officer's lips creased in what could have been a rueful smile as he went back to his exploration of the window, his hands roaming back and forth until he found the release. "Where does this lead?"

"We're in Ryhanen's private castle, really a small town, chiselled out of bedrock, half way up the side of a mountain. The window opens onto a balcony that overlooks the rest of the chain. He calls it Castle Cloud but it's more like Ryhanen's Folly if you ask me."


"You can say that again." McCoy retorted. He saw Spock's eyebrow rise again and forestalled the Vulcan's inevitable comment before he had chance to utter it. "But don't, Mr. Spock. And if you're thinkin' of exploring outside, it may be a good idea to get dressed. It's mighty chilly out there."


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