The star field filled the shuttle's viewscreen like a dusting of glitter held in a perfect black suspension. No forces of gravity were evident in their stillness. No raging fires in the hearts of suns or fevered lives on spinning planets or tremendous collisions between asteroids, planets, galaxies… Out here, in the void between stars, there was nothing. Time could freeze, and no one would be able to tell the difference.
But to Commander Spock the stars were scientific certainties, navigation beacons, examples of chemistry and physics in their purest form. Perhaps a certain part of his mind appreciated the beauty before him, but he certainly wasn't awe-inspired, or even distracted by it. His dark, intense gaze was more often focussed on the datapadd in his hand than the largely unnecessary sight of the panorama before him. It was his daily backdrop, the view from his window, his workplace.
Today it was very definitely his workplace, and the details of the stars were better spelt out with scientific readings than by staring at their brightness. He was out here alone for the very mundane task of locating and cataloguing potential supernovae for Starfleet's navigational warning sector. The Enterprise was tasked with ferrying an ambassador back to his home planet, and Spock was using this dead time to split away from the ship and carry out this vital but ordinary work. For a week this compact vehicle would be his home. He didn't worry about the smallness of his ship in the vastness of space around him – he knew that as long as his equipment continued to function properly the Enterprise would have no problem locating him.
Both his bed and his kitchen had been set up in the small compartment at the back of the shuttle, but in all honesty he didn't expect to use them. He had already been here for twenty-four hours, and he had not yet felt the need for sleep, or to eat more than one small meal from a ration pack. The less time he spent attending to personal needs, the more useful work he could complete.
And then a warning light flashed on his navigational sensors. Spock put his datapadd down and turned his attention without pause to the alert. There was an ion storm developing one thousand and fifty-seven miles off his port bow. It wasn't large at this moment in time, but it was growing rapidly. At its rate of increase, it would envelope the tiny shuttle easily, no matter which way he chose to turn. He swiftly and calmly turned the ship about, plotting a course and speed that would enable him, if not to outrun the storm, at least perhaps to outrun the worse ferocity of it. It would also take him on a path towards Alphonae Prime, a human colony planet that dated back to the earliest days of interstellar space travel. It was a place that shunned outside contact and modern technology, and he knew very little about it – but it would, perhaps, provide a safe haven in the event of his ship becoming damaged or disabled.
He buckled his safety belt across his lap, secured his datapadd in a small locker near his knee, and sat still in the chair, waiting for what would happen to happen.
Whatever did happen, it happened so quickly that he barely had time to react. As the storm hit, it knocked out all power in the shuttle, and Spock was left in the utter darkness of a ship without lights, and with thick baffles shut over the viewing hatches in an attempt to protect him from radiation and dazzling bursts of lightning-like energy. He felt in the emergency locker at his knee, found a flashlight, and depressed the button. That did not work either. He could hear the storm swirling about the hull, and feel the violent lurches – but he could do nothing but sit still in the intense blackness, and wait calmly for a change in his circumstances. The most likely reason for the power outtage, considering that the flashlight was also affected, was the interference from the storm, and in that case power would return when the storm diminished. The most important factor at the moment was that life support was inoperative, and conserving air and heat were the only things that were left for him to do.
The computers seem to recover from the storm sooner than the instruments, and although Spock still had no idea where he was or what was happening, he could now hear the constant hum of the engines propelling the shuttle forward on its last programmed course, making adjustments against the onslaught of the storm, and finally beginning to recycle his precious air again. And then, at last, the lights flickered back on, and Spock instantly raised the protective baffles and took in his visual surroundings whilst also flicking his eyes to the instruments to ascertain his actual location. His shock registered only as a pursing of his lips. His course had been readjusted almost too precisely, with no consciousness of obstacles in the shuttle's path. He was just entering the exosphere of Alphonae Prime, and his instruments promised him that the shuttle was both too badly damaged to land, or to escape from the thick drag of the planet's gravity.
Spock pulled on protective clothing, clipped a high-altitude parachute onto his back, and waited for the precise moment that was most suitable for abandoning ship.