THE CAPTURED KLINGON VESSEL
McCoy delivered a solid judo-chop to the guard's knee. He went down like a ton of bricks. Klaa puzzled at this.
"Usefulness of being CMO, Captain. You know other people's business."
McCoy forced a grin.
"Not everyone keeps their reproductive organs in the same place."
Klingon or no, the men all winced at McCoy's words.
Klaa turned his attention to Chekov.
"You're skill at thinning the enemies' ranks is to be commended, Lieutenant. But my men grow restless, and Gorkon's life is still in the balance."
"Is old Russian story--maybe apocryphal, but still a good one. Tsar Alexander The Second was reformer, like your Councilor. He too was target of an assassination plot. His loyal men caught and killed all of the assassins -- Da, except for the one who appeared out of nowhere from the one corner the exultant guards overlooked. Whether we face twelve or two guards vwhen vwe reach this Sybok, I vwant those to be all vwe face."
If Chekov's methods were too gentle for the Klingons for the most part, his battle-logic had a tinge of practical ruthlessness that suited them. Klaa's second again spoke.
"Russians and Klingons have traits in common, it seems."
"Nyet--I cannot see such a thing. No offense."
Chekov directed Bearclaw to set up the next part of their attack.
"Holo-projector ready, Lieutenant. Ditto on the signal disperser."
In the cleared anteroom, Chekov suddenly seemed to be seated aboard the Bridge of the Enterprise itself, his rank upgraded considerably. He looked at Klaa.
"I vwill play my part. I am also giving you temporary command over my men, Kyptin Klaa. They know this is a hostage situation. They know that the call for stealth and civility vwill soon be done."
Bearclaw, who had lost relatives to Klingon attacks, nodded at his superior, and then at Klaa. Chekov bid them go on without him.
"Remember--even the best trick only vworks once, and not at all after it is exposed."
Shielded from view by the holos cast, Klingons and Starfleet stood just outside the main hatch leading to the Bridge. Chekov began his bit of theater.
"Thees ees Kyptin Pavel Chekov of the USS Gorbachev. I am here to treat vwith those parties holding representatives of the Klingon Empire against their vwill."
The simulation included a viewscreen. On it appeared the bearded Vulcan from before. Chekov kept his composure. Had he known that his mentor was the half-brother of this anomalous man, it might have been very difficult to do so.
"Captain Chekov. I was beginning to wonder if either the Federation or the Empire placed any value on the life of my esteemed hostage."
Chekov made no pretense of almost shrugging Sybok's words off.
"Look about you, Meester Sybok. The very crisis you used to such advantage in seizing the vessel you hold is still ongoing. I am here to secure the release of Council Member Gorkon, and to further demand that you surrender and place yourself in my custody. You vwill find it a great deal gentler than that vwhich the Empire is likely to provide--if that even needs to be said."
Had Shuttle X not played absolute havoc with the sensors aboard the captive Klingon vessel, Chekov would not have had a prayer of pulling this deception off. Part of him still wondered if he had.
"Captain Chekov, I bear neither the Councilor nor the Empire any ill will. I merely wish my message to go forward. All this is merely a means to an end in that regard. A bit of theater, meant to engage the masses."
Chekov thought about what his Captain would say, but the words were still largely his own as he responded.
"I am fairly certain that the late General Korrd vwould not agree that your activities are restricted to mere theater."
"Captain, our greater galactic civilization, which is to say all of us, allies and enemies, will not survive the century mark---and that is by any calendar you care to name. My aim is to tell people to live in the here and now, the today--the present--because quite literally, there is no tomorrow. The Ancient Destroyer, the bringer of the final peace, is approaching us. All is done."
Chekov bit down at the vague, vapid philosophy. Klaa signaled that he was ready.
"I vwould like to beam aboard your vessel and personally conduct negotiations vwith you for the release of Councilor Gorkon."
"There's really nothing to discuss, Captain. My demands are plain--I want my message to go galactic or the Councilor dies. But I will be happy to beam you aboard--so long as it is you and you alone--when were you planning to do this?"
The hatch to the Klingon Bridge blew, and Chekov abandoned his deception, joining the others as the remaining terrorists were taken down. Chekov himself pushed Sybok over and held him at phaserpoint.
"I plan to do this in the here and now--the today, the present. For you see--I am vwery hands-on Commander--or at least I hope to be one day."
Klaa's second cried out.
"There is a ship departing--Vulcan lifesign aboard!"
Chekov reached down and pulled the beard off of 'Sybok'. Deception was no one side's property. The follower nodded.
"My life for him."
Klaa pushed Chekov aside and erased the fanatic.
"As you wish."
Klaa directed his second to untie the Councilor from the Captain's seat he was bound into. As one, McCoy and Chekov, unified by a horrible thought, cried out.
With the aid of Bearclaw, the second already had the device binding Gorkon off. Both brave men were ripped apart when the bindings exploded. Gorkon was not in much better shape. McCoy rushed to his side. He made a choice.
"I can save him--if we get onboard Enterprise and I mean fast!"
Klaa knew the limitations of his own ship's Sickbay.
McCoy in fact knew he lacked the knowledge to save so grievously wounded a Klingon. But there was still a chance--if McCoy only chose to place his own life on the line to keep his Hippocratic Oath.
THE PARENT PROBE
"That power will not long turn back mine!"
Kirk issued forth his disgust on two levels.
"Spock brought your child back. Are you going to waste the precious moments of that child's rebirth on a pissing match with another entity?"
"Do not compare..."
"Speak to me in a civilized tone of voice!"
"Very well. Do not compare what I do to so low a thing."
Kirk almost snorted.
"I apologize to every pissing match champ since time began, for comparing your tantrum to their honest sport."
The probe would be hard to talk down. Some might even call it for a hopeless situation.
"My child was violated and erased!"
James Kirk thrived on such challenges.
"Your child--calls to you. Your child is cold and confused. I, who will never see his child return, demand that you do this instead."
*Father, oh Father--is that you? I was warm and happy where I was, Father. Why was I called back to the incompleteness of life?*
The Parent Probe responded in the only way open to it.
"Because all prayers are answered, and sometimes the answer is yes!"
One parent turned to another.
"My child will need me again, James Kirk. I will travel with them, and learn from what they saw past the final veil. Yet I regret that I could not show all that is to eyes as wide and hungry as your own."
"Put it on my rain check. And tell your--our child--that Earth is very, very proud of what he made of himself. He done good."
Kirk found himself back aboard his ship, amid reports from all of known space that the crisis was abating.
But onscreen, he saw the disabled Klingon ship, and saw how many of his senior staff were missing.
"It's never just over, is it?"
Colonel West saw the energies put out by his odd companion at last overwhelm and disperse those sent by the Parent Probe. The telepathic/astral image of a boy supposedly dead now begin to flicker and fade like a real ghost.
"Guess I...overdid it, huh?"
Rene West correctly guessed that the energies Peter Kirk could handle in this form, while still formidable by any standard, had limits imposed by that same form.
"You saved this world."
"Hey...it was fun. Will you say hello to my Uncle Bill for me?"
West looked away. The boy nodded.
"It was worth a try. I guess the power's coming back on. I can feel myself being pulled back to my body. Oh--God. I don't want to go back to that place."
West responded despite himself.
"Most wouldn't, given a choice."
The boy glared, even as he faded. That glare was not the glare of any mere boy. He was as Pike once described him, an angel of judgment. Then again, West reminded himself, Pike had been somewhat deranged when he said that.
"You have a choice, Colonel. You may be one of the only ones that does."
Yet for all his pain after losing his wife, Pike had never served the worst beings in Starfleet. The boy faded out entirely as he stared out the window.
"The clouds are parting! No! Please! Just let me see the sun..."
Admiralty Hall would soon emerge from the bunkers that would never have saved them, and doubtless take at least partial credit for what the soul they held captive had accomplished. Of this West had no doubt, since they had used the climate of fear from Peter Kirk's kidnapping to whip up xenophobia across the Human worlds.
"This is the fate of a soldier, Peter. To serve in silence, watch the glory stolen by those who never fought, and then to be rewarded with a cold piece of ground."
But West now wondered if even he believed this, and whether in fact he did have a choice.
(The story of Colonel West can be found in Ancient Destroyer : Come The High Water)
SICKBAY, USS ENTERPRISE
Klaa was ready to pull his dagger on McCoy.
"You said that you could save him!"
McCoy was scared, but he was also not backing down.
"Yes, I can. But you need to serve as back-up."
"I am no Healer!"
While his interns prepped Gorkon, McCoy showed the Klingon an odd helmet.
"It's called an Eymorg Teacher. It can insert the knowledge of Klingon physiology I need to save Gorkon. Mister Spock--well--he gave it to me recently. With it, I can probably heal any wounds that leave the body intact. But it could also fry my brain. For my patient, I'll do just that gladly. But I'll need someone on standby to try again if that happens. Klingon brains have redundant arterial connections. You might survive it if I don't."
Klaa shook his head.
"Then let me try it."
"You took a warrior's oath, right son? Well, the oath I took means just as much to me."
Klaa recalled the last time someone had impressed him as much. That someone was the patient on McCoy's table.
"His is the only voice that even speaks of the people, let alone for him. In this, I will be your Cha'DIch--and I will consider it an honor."
Whether the Organians' prediction was at last coming true, or if two men of equal devotion simply found a point of convergence, the result was all the same. A few hours later, it was Gorkon standing with McCoy--with Klaa under intensive care.
"Do not blame yourself, Doctor. He has always been headstrong."
"The instant it seemed like I was faltering--he strapped that damned thing on. Councilor, even with it, I'm at a loss as how to piece his mind back together."
In a flash of light, Spock appeared next to them. He gestured at Klaa.
"Owing to the unreliable nature of the abilities I have been granted, I have only undone any actual physical damage to Captain Klaa's brain. For the rest of his recovery, may I suggest a great physical challenge of some kind?"
"My people have been known to enjoy those."
A rendezvous with a Klingon vessel had been arranged, and was quickly met. If the rest of the cosmos was in recovery from chaos, the Federation and the Klingon Empire had a rare moment of rapprochement, with Spock using what Sarek had taught him to make a connection with the reformist Gorkon. Kirk even noted in his log that Gorkon impressed him by way of implying that while even he did not want the Empire to change, this change was a necessity for its survival. When Gorkon pointedly warned the Federation not to see these resource shortages as a sign of inviting weakness, it all but sealed the deal for Kirk and his crew.
But after the atypical (for now) Klingons departed, one who had known Kirk's love and would always know his respect pulled him aside and gave him startling news.
"That many back-doors? And that obvious?"
Uhura nodded. She looked as though she had been through the worst of any battle.
"A backdoor in any system is always a possibility. The master programmer usually likes to have it around as a safety. But I should never have been able to spot it out, Captain. Which means..."
"Which means whoever did it, they were not the master programmer , and did it clumsily. Any virtual prints, Commander?"
Tired or no, she looked good enough for Kirk to have to remind himself that for then and there, they were done as a couple.
"Well, you're looking at one suspect, but I would have had only one backdoor, and I would have hidden it a lot better. I certainly would never have made one that could be duplicated so easily. Jim, you know your Defense Liaison before the UFP Council, Harriet Janeway? She's almost certainly one of the suspects. Some access codes were at the presidential level, and though I voted for Ydennek, the man cannot navigate his desk, technology-wise. Another door was opened by someone of high access and tech-savvy at Utopia Planitia."
Kirk knew a name there as well.
"Harriet's ex-husband, Aaron Sisko. Great-nephew to the ever-charming Brock Cartwright. Good man from a good family--as long as you only count Aaron and Tomas Cartwright, Brock's father. He served with George."
"Jim, if those two have this access, why does the Commodity have its own backdoor? Didn't Janeway's father found The Commodity, along with George?"
Kirk also sighed at the mention of this well-meaning but largely ineffectual group.
"Harriet denounced the lot of them a long time ago as a whiners' club. I wish she were wrong. Nyta, with this many back-doors open, what did you choose to do?"
She handed him her official report.
"I'm going to claim that the collapse of the communication superstructure was so imminent, I repaired what damage the crisis did without bothering to check its other possible origins."
"That's going to be a hard-sell. With any other officer or tech except for Spock, they could claim easily to be overwhelmed. But you?"
"They can always check my work---but that's part of the point, isn't it?"
Kirk flashed a smile right back.
"Permission to always and forever be impressed by you, Commander?"
His look turned more serious, and he actually checked around for anyone too close for comfort, anyone who might conceivably be in their listening zone.
"Nyta--if we ever had to..."
She raised a hand in the air.
"The lock and repairs I put on all those back-doors form a door of their own. But Captain? Know this. Not ever. Not unless you directly order me to, and it goes through the entire senior staff with a unanimous Aye. And it better be a hell of a crisis to even broach the subject. Because as of now, not even Spock and Scotty could crack what I've done to seal those breaches."
"Good. I don't want them breached unless we just have nothing else. By the way, Nyta? You were right about me and Peter. I may never completely accept his loss, but from here on in, barring some kind of direct evidence to the contrary, I know my son is dead."
She took his hand.
"Our son. A break-up doesn't change the fact that we held the heart of an amazing kid in our hands. I only wish it had been for a longer time."
A kiss that could have been merely friendly or hinted at a fire past and present passed between them before they resumed their duties. Spock was talking to McCoy, though their usual banter was missing.
"Doctor, I cannot help but feel that I played a role in this."
"Spock, Klaa knew the risks of putting on that teacher-helmet. He has a healer's knowledge, and now wishes to become one, the better to aid Councilor Gorkon. All you did was default his brain to Klingon-standard. He made his own choice. Your mistakes came when you had the powers---say, when do those get removed, anyway?"
Q appeared, looking not happy at all as he confronted Spock.
"I suppose you think that was really funny and clever? Hiding my halves between two primal moments in cosmic history like that?"
Spock shook his head.
"I sought to make no attempt at humor. I wished only to be rid of you and your misleading advice. That my trap had this result, I will not apologize for."
Q was about to snap his fingers when Kirk called a halt.
"Not here, if you don't mind. In Spock's quarters."
Kirk had made his request politely, and matter-of-factly, possibly throwing Q off or at least intriguing the entity.
In Spock's quarters they appeared, and Kirk again intrigued Q.
"Before you depower him--Spock still owes me a gift. Mister Spock, use your power to restore to life---"
Both the Vulcan and the entity were about to object when Kirk spoke the name of the target of his wish.
"---to restore to life Yeoman Leslie Thompson, killed by the Kelvans about four years ago. If you recall, they reduced her to a polyhedral cube composed of her base materials, then crushed her into powder. Now bring her back."
Spock shook his head.
"Jim, we have established our limits in this matter. It cannot be done."
"It was done for V'Ger. I order you not to relinquish those powers until you do this for me."
Q gained a glare on his face. Kirk surmised that while Q could take those powers without Spock's consent, it might be an effort he didn't want.
"Fine, Jimmy---I'll do it."
A moment later, a young woman in a twice-outdated (Q's power had changed them for the entire fleet) uniform appeared, looking badly confused.
"Captain Kirk? Mister Spock?"
"At ease, Ensign. I'll take you to McCoy in a moment. Thank you, Q---that will be all."
Q glared anew, till Kirk shrugged.
"You wanted to be part of the crew, right?"
Kirk, for his part, merely took the restored Leslie Thompson to Sickbay, the first step on her reunion with a family that would be utterly thrilled. Q sneered after the Captain left.
"What was that all about?"
Spock had other concerns.
"Is she the real Leslie Thompson?"
"Of course. And I didn't restore her to life. I simply reached back four years and replaced her cubed body with a duplicate rock, then transported her here. Timeline is kept safe, Jimmy gets to play hero to one that slipped through the cracks. Heh. I would have thought better of him."
Spock ignored defending his dearest friend. Another Kirk was on his mind.
"This was never about testing Humanity, was it?"
"Well, you were found wanting when you, you know, nearly broke all of known civilization? But that all merely confirmed that Humans should have a major project taken away from them and handled by the Continuum instead. Better for all concerned."
Spock shook his head.
"Not for Peter Kirk. But for your interference, he would be free right now."
Q laughed lightly.
Spock was not laughing--not that anyone would expect him to.
"I felt the waves of panic from Admiralty Hall. They were prepared to free their captive, to combat V'Ger. You transporting us directly to V'Ger ahead of time stopped them until later, when the boy's potent spirit but not his body was released long enough to stop V'Ger's enraged parent from destroying the Earth."
Q stopped playing one game in favor of another.
"If you had any idea how dangerous those two kids are...oh that's right, you do. And you treat both of them like crap. Spock, Spock--am I even talking to the 'real' Spock or that guardian personality you made on Hellguard to keep from snapping? Doesn't matter. You haven't told Jimmy his boy is alive for three years--why would you do it now?"
"You will answer me!"
"Fine! Yes, the Continuum is quite happy keeping dear Peter out of the cosmic equation. His very presence would immediately set certain events in motion. Those fools at the Hall would have released him in a panic, and then Peter would have told his father where he had been. Do you have any idea how difficult it is for a Q to enjoy themselves in the midst of a galaxy-wide civil war? So don't harp on us, the criminals who keep a little boy in a living hell--or if you have to---first look in the mirror. Look at the man, the logical man, who could free that boy with a few words to a man he has called his brother. The fact is, the Q can handle old ThreeSkull themselves, without comfort and joy from the Peanut Galilee."
Spock raised an eyebrow.
"Whole civilizations and clusters of civilizations have vanished from history believing they could handle the Ancient Destroyer. The universe itself provided these two extraordinary children. Whatever my flaws, magnified or merely brought out by the power you provided, I recognize their unique worth. Add to all that, Peter is a Kirk by blood, and my own child a Kirk by adoption. With the determination of that man in them, the ability of even all Q everywhere combined is in doubt, when it comes to stopping them."
Q snapped his fingers and removed Spock's powers.
"I know. But try telling that to anyone in authority. You broke a lot of things with this power--but you did in a very Q-like way. I'm giving you an official grade of----"
Q smirked as he finally left.
As the power left him, Spock began to feel light-headed. His extra powers had meant an effortless balance between the elements of his psyche, the knowledge he had normally and that which he chose to normally suppress. This effort was now once again costly, and he did not make it far past the doors of his quarters, after which Doctor McCoy was summoned.
When the Doctor made plain to the Captain what was required to help their First Officer, Kirk did as he always did.
Onscreen, he faced the results of that decision.
"Kirk, you will withdraw the claim you made to the news media! You are not to proceed to Vulcan. Rest and Recreation is not authorized!"
Brock Cartwright impressed a lot of people. James Kirk was notably not among them.
"Then authorize it. This crew is exhausted. They rushed into a crisis with an insane amount of fronts, and from helm to the galley, handled them all with skill, style and fortitude. We will either spend the next three months on and around Vulcan, or I and all my senior staff will resign. Following that, Commodore, we plan to form a private detective agency---our first case being what really happened to my brother's son Peter. Do you want that, Commodore? Do you want us out and about like that?"
The inevitable answer was given, and Kirk headed down to Sickbay. If the talk with Cartwright had been unpleasant, this one would potentially be life-altering.
"McCoy tells me you need help."
"Permission to speak was neither asked for nor granted, Captain. Normally, it is implicit for us. This is so far from normally, it hurts."
Kirk looked directly into the eyes of his dearest friend, a man more a brother than the late Sam had been.
"You hurt me, Spock. You hurt me by telling me you were ready to take on this mission when you weren't. Now, maybe your mistake with V'Ger might have occurred even if you had been ready for this--I wouldn't put it past Trel---I mean Q to have set this entire thing up. But Spock, I depend on you to be more at the ready than the next ten best officers in the fleet, and that includes everyone serving on my ship. You assured me that you were. Do Vulcans lie, Mister Spock?"
Kirk was indeed hurting inside, as badly as the day he was forced to bring another friend and brother low. That man had also made claims of becoming a god. For the record, Kirk had dropped a mountain on him. Though this attack was not physical, it was perhaps even more massive in its own way.
"I made a choice."
Spock now paid the penance for his sins of hubris, as both man and would-be god.
"I made a choice...to remain always at your side. The Enterprise is your first best destiny."
The next words came out haltingly, but they struck like a thunderclap.
"As you are mine. I am, and will always be, your friend. Whether facing the most routine first contact or some ultimate unguessed-at foe, I, born and suspended forever between two worlds, have at last found my place. To watch that place go off without me was, to my mind, body, soul, a concept that was completely and utterly...alien."
Spock reached out and took his friend's hand. The squeeze was the briefest imaginable, but as with most things Vulcan and most things Spock, it spoke whole databanks.
"That small bit of emotion we shared just now? That is why I killed V'Ger, Jim. For all his aspiration to prove himself to his 'parent' race, and for all the Parent Probe had shown him, he still lacked that. As I could not conceive of existing without it--I--I fumbled badly."
"I have two things to say. First is, T'Nia and McCoy agree. You've subjected yourself to too many mind-melds of an extreme nature. You also failed to acknowledge the cost of doing this, and to get the rest needed to recuperate. The one syndrome fed the other, pushing you ever more off balance as time went by. Because I bear responsibility for many of those melds, I will allow for your explanation without further comment, Captain--so long as you take the next three months on Vulcan seriously. No work. Meditation and centering, and sessions with C'Thia counselors. That is my order as your commanding officer, my terms for you remaining as my First Officer, and my fervent heartfelt request as your Thy'la. Tell me that this is known and understood, Brother."
"It is indeed, Brother. Jim--I wish to reveal at this time that you are not alone in disappointment in grief when it comes to that term. For I too, have lost a brother in the past. One I am not permitted to speak of."
"Well, there you are. We've both lost brothers. But we were also lucky. Because in each other, we both got them back."
With that said, Kirk moved to the second thing he wished to say.
"I've heard from V'Ger. He had a message for you."
Spock prepared himself.
"I am certain that he did."
"Certain, are you? Well, V'Ger told me that, while he had witnessed emotions like ours and catalogued them--it wasn't until the moments of his death and rebirth that he ever really felt them. You may have been misguided, Spock--but even in that, you managed to do good."
Friend permitted weary friend to truly rest, then, and walked off to record a very private section of his log--so encrypted, it would take Scott, Spock and Uhura to even realize this section existed within his already-locked private log.
"The Klingon Empire has taken the unprecedented step of thanking me. I made damned sure all knew it should be Sulu and Chekov they should thank. The Q I cannot figure--I choose not to try. As to the probes--I wish them well, on their long, long journey through the stars that are their home. Certain parties are bound to want Uhura's head for closing their peepholes--well, breakup or no, I have first dibs on that. Spock should make a full recovery---or rather, he had better. I don't see our lives becoming less interesting anytime soon. Scotty, as always, was our miracle worker, both in the engines and talking Spock down on the Bridge when the Q's power overwhelmed him. He is currently relaxing by designing future Enterprises with his gift, the Patient Spider Program. His terms for relaxation are almost as bad as Spock's."
"Yeoman Thompson is resigning from Starfleet and heading back home to be with the family who will be waiting for her on Vulcan. As for the Hall, they're sure to retaliate for my bluff, but I'd almost rather have their open wrath than their utmost praise--no strike that. I want their contempt. To be held in contempt by those who are beneath it makes me feel above it all."
"That may seem like a childish math game, but it is in such a riddle I have recently found the ultimate hope. Because if the Q can find ways to restore the dead, and if Spock succeeded in bringing back V'Ger, but failed to bring back my Peter, perhaps it was because you cannot resurrect the living. If I am right, then somewhere..."
Kirk breathed in, and said words that felt so good they made his soul ache.
"...then somewhere far away, or maybe very much nearby, Peter Kirk is alive, and he is waiting to come back to us. I, who has never been a terribly spiritual man, regard this as a matter of faith."
END CAPTAIN'S LOG - FINAL PRIVATE ENTRY, THE PROBES CRISIS OF 2271
And when the new year of 2272 came, the Hall did indeed retaliate, Peter Kirk remained their captive, Saavik Kirk remained an outcast on Vulcan, and the journey of the crew of the USS Enterprise continued, as did its legend.
Five years in, their adventure had only just begun.
2278, OUTSIDE THE TEMPLES AT MOUNT SELEYA, VULCAN
Sarek roused the sleeping Peter Kirk.
"We are here. Those inside will help you to recover."
The boy looked about him.
"She is at school, Peter. We will see her soon. But now I have a question. The Q entity has beset both Amanda and myself with riddles. I am told he showed you a vision of some sort, and that it calmed you. What was this?"
Peter looked back mentally at what he had been shown, and sent it into the mind of the Ambassador.
Two young people, now no longer shattered children, appeared on the transporter pad of the USS Enterprise. A proud captain, father--and father-in-law greeted them with a smile.
"Welcome aboard, Lieutenant Kirk---and Lieutenant Kirk. Or should I say--welcome home?"
The joy on the faces of the young man and young woman was only interrupted when the mature beauty they called Mother walked in and pulled the Father aside for some grim news. With their abilities, the two couldn't help but hear what was said.
"Jim--Romulus does not answer. All transmissions in Romulan space have ceased entirely. No signs of border activity either."
Two young heroes, having been to hell and back again together, knew what this oddity signaled. A firm and resolute look passed between them. They were ready to face the Ancient Destroyer of Worlds and bring it low, just as they had even its most highly-placed mortal followers.
"Dad, we have something important to tell you..."
The vision ended, and Sarek saw the boy smile, but then saw that smile fade.
"Will we get there?"
Sarek gave as honest an answer as he could.
"We will. Though logic dictates that getting there will be a challenge of the highest order."
Peter's smile returned as they proceeded into the great temple.
"Sounds like fun."
*Author's Note : It is confirmed. Writing a story about ST:TMP is just as draining as watching it can sometimes be. If all goes well, the next novella in the AD Cycle will be : A Journey To West Vulcan. - 'Goji' Rob Morris