This is a non-profit work of fan-fiction based upon the Star Trek films created by Gene Roddenberry. Star Trek, and all related characters, places, and events, belongs to Paramount Pictures, and is used without permission. This story, along with original characters, belongs to the author, © 2001, 2004.

Queue
By Orianna-2000

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Saavik exhaled quietly, lying in a drowsy, almost trance-like languor. For what seemed an eternity, she kept motionless and savored the warm, pain free cloud that surrounded her. She had no thoughts or concerns to distract her, only an overwhelming feeling of peace and calm which permeated deeply into her muscles and relaxed every part of her.

Precisely how long she stayed in that semi aware state, she did not know. Eventually, though, she felt a subtle tingling in her extremities which began to rouse her. As she became more perceptive, a faint hum also invaded the tranquility, and inevitably forced her to complete consciousness. With reluctance she opened her eyes, then blinked to clear them.

One eyebrow crept up as she pulled herself into a sitting position and glanced around with slight concern. Instead of the familiar dark stone walls of her quarters on Vulcan which she expected to see, an undistinguished white area surrounded her. She could discern no sky or landscape to indicate a planet's surface; neither were there any walls or ceiling only a thick milky haze which extended in every possible direction.

Intrigued, Saavik knelt and lowered her hand through the cloud like cover below her. It met resistance within a few centimeters, so she judged it safe to stand and cautiously rose to her feet. She did not sink down, which further piqued her curiosity, for the ground held the same appearance as the air around her, through which she could move with ease.

"Fascinating," she murmured, pivoting slowly to examine her surroundings more carefully. The question of where exactly she was lingered in her mind, and she considered the possibilities.

Starfleet had recently developed a way of using holograms to create virtually any environment, but she doubted someone had moved her to one of the so called 'holodecks' in her sleep. Just to be sure, she called out, "Computer, end holographic simulation."

Nothing happened, as she expected. Then, on impulse, she reached to her belt for her communicator... only to find her uniform replaced with a civilian outfit. Without a doubt she had been wearing her Starfleet duty uniform prior to waking in this place. She found the idea of someone changing her clothing while she remained unaware very disquieting. Without her able to protest, what else might they have done?

Banishing that unsettling line of thinking, Saavik examined the clothes. The simple, flatteringly cut jumpsuit fit perfectly, and though she did not recall owning anything in that particular shade of silver, she found it aesthetically pleasing. The fabric shimmered lightly, and felt luxurious to her touch. Who would have gone to such trouble? And why?

Quite illogically, a nervous feeling settled in her stomach. Something felt very wrong. Indeed, even though she knew herself to be perfectly capable of defending herself with bare hands if need be, she felt the desire to possess a phaser, or knife, or anything solid with which to protect herself.

She could see no one through the dense mist, but since she had the feeling that she was not alone, she raised her voice and spoke loudly. "Is anyone there?"

Saavik's voice echoed slightly, instead of being muffled by the fog, giving her cause to again raise an eyebrow in surprise. Nothing in this place made sense. She called out again, but could hear only her own voice in reply.

As she pondered this, it occurred to her to make use of the telepathic bond she shared with her husband, Spock. Usually she did not need to think of it, for she always felt his presence in the back of her mind. Communicating was simply a matter of casting her thoughts his way. Now, though, she did not feel that reassuring touch, and its absence concerned her more than she wanted to admit. Sternly concentrating on the mental link, she sent telepathically, "Adun? Can you hear me?"

When she received no answer, the uneasiness she felt increased. Before she could contemplate the matter in depth, the odd humming sound once again caught her attention. It was useless to try to discern the distance of the source, since the white fog obscured vision and muffled sound, but she picked the direction that seemed most likely and began walking.

She hadn't wandered very long at all before the haze thinned and a line of people came into view. They were talking quietly amongst themselves, making clear to Saavik the origin of the sound she followed. She stopped a few meters away, eyeing them with suspicion. She saw representatives of nearly every species known to the Federation, as well as many which she did not recognize; all seemed very calm and mellow. Even members of pledged racial enemies seemed either to not notice or not care about their close proximity to each other.

Perplexed, Saavik studied the scene. She had the vague impression that she ought to understand the situation before her, yet no comprehension occurred. Resolved to solve this disturbing enigma, she approached the queue.

A few representatives of the more hospitable races smiled at her when she neared. When she discreetly questioned them, however, no one seemed to know anything more than she did. It did not seem to bother them, either, that they had no recollection of being brought here, or the reason behind their presence.

Having no alternative, Saavik resigned herself to wait in line as well. While they inched forward slowly, she used a number of Vulcan techniques to try and keep her emotions under control, but the feeling of nervousness would not cease.

She lost track of the time spent waiting, but eventually she found herself with no one in front of her. A white robed figure materialized and spoke mildly. "Saavik, born of Hellguard, resident of Vulcan?"

"Correct," she replied, narrowing her eyes in an attempt to make out the person's facial characteristics. They remained vague and bland, however, mostly hidden by a deep hood. She tilted her head with disconcertment. "Might I inquire who you are, what I am doing here, and where here is, precisely?"

"I am no one. Here is here," he answered, then added bluntly, "You're here because you are dead."

Immediately Saavik felt the color drain from her face. The words the genderless person spoke faded from her hearing as a series of memories leaped into place.

"Welcome to Rukbat Prime, Ambassador and Madame," the official said smoothly. His rich costume with its dark blue sash marked him as the head of the Rukbatian diplomatic envoy. An identical outfit of bright red silk marked his sworn enemy, the leader of the Lukai, who also stepped forward to greet the Ambassador and his wife.

Saavik nodded solemnly to both men, her fingertips barely grazing Spock's as they stepped off the transporter pad. She could sense the tension in the room, and wondered if Spock did also.

After centuries of violent feuding, the people of two planets had finally asked for a truce to be settled. It made perfect sense, since the worlds orbited the same sun and had many resources that could be shared for the benefit of both peoples. Ambassador Spock had agreed to oversee the final talks, on a moon that somehow wound its way around both planets.

"They seem genuinely interested in making this work," Saavik remarked quietly to Spock during a break in the conference. "The usual bickering during such proceedings is at a minimum."

Spock agreed. "Sometimes, Saavik kam, even non Vulcans can see the logic of peace."

During the second half of the discussions, Saavik watched Spock reason calmly with the diplomats. It wasn't long before all the major issues were settled and a treaty composed.

"Well done, my husband," she said softly, as he escorted her toward the exit of the negotiation chamber.

His reply went unheard, for at that moment something happened no one had anticipated: an ear splittingly sharp bang with a flash of light so bright that Saavik's inner eyelid automatically flickered shut to protect her sight. Immediately after, thick smoke and debris began raining down...

...and then pain. Incredible pain swept through her, accompanied by a sense of fatigue so strong she'd never experienced its like before.

"Saavik, can you hear me?"

It was Spock's voice, but different somehow. She blinked and looked up – for somehow she'd ended up on the floor – and saw his face over her. Mud and dust covered his skin, and a deep gash on his forehead was crusted with dried blood. But how had it dried so quickly?

"Saavik?" he repeated more urgently, and touched her face, concern showing through his usually sober expression.

"Adun," she whispered, using the ancient Vulcan word which meant 'beloved lifemate'. She felt so tired... why did his face look so damp?

"Spock," she said, brought abrubtly back to the present. She made no effort to mask the tremble in her voice. "Where is he?"

The robed figure paused his instructive monologue to peer at her with annoyance. "Who?"

"Ambassador Spock," Saavik repeated. "My husband. Where is he?"

"If he is not dead, then he is not here. Obviously! Now, allow me to reiterate, since you evidently were not paying attention." He took a breath, glancing down at a small tablet in his hands. "Since you are a hybrid species, you have two choices. You may enter the Vulcan realm termed Sha Ka Ree, or you may enter the Romulan domain known as Vorta Vor."

Saavik blinked, arching an eyebrow incredulously. "I beg your pardon?"

The being sighed tolerantly and consulted his tablet, then informed her in an almost bored tone of voice, "Normally you would not be given the option. However, since you carry DNA from two races, you are allowed to decide which species' after death realm you would like to spend eternity in." He paused, glancing at Saavik. "Due to the growing number of mixed species, there will eventually be an area especially for hybrids like yourself, but at this time, you must choose one or the other."

Saavik's jaw dropped ever so slightly as she tried to comprehend this. Of all the oddities she'd encountered in the universe, surely this had to be the most unusual and unbelievable. "Are you telling me that the Afterlife is segregated?"

"You are quite adept at stating the obvious. Please make your decision quickly. Others are waiting..." He gestured to the line of aliens gathered behind her.

This being actually expected her to choose between extinct Vulcan and Romulan cultures! Neither particularly appealed to her, and the anxiety she had been so carefully repressing began to increase. Could this be true? Had she died there in Spock's arms? Somehow she had always imagined they would die together.

The thought of her husband stabilized her emotions, and she shook her head calmly, addressing the robed figure. "I will go wherever Spock can find me."

After a doubtful pause, he asked in return, "What species is he?"

Saavik hesitated before answering. "Vulcan... and human."

"Ah." The figure glanced down at his tablet once again, running his finger down the edge. "Well, since he is a hybrid, he will be given the choice of Sha Ka Ree or the Terran division known as Eden. I'm afraid it will be impossible to know which he will choose upon his future death. Now, if you will please select –"

"No!" Saavik interrupted him, reaching out to take the tablet. The material looked like thinly carved stone, but it felt smooth and slick under her fingers. She gazed at it intently, but the surface appeared blank to her eyes. "Where is it written that I must limit my existence to one of two places? And that I must be separated from the one I – from my husband?"

She warned herself to be cautious, to keep tighter control of her feelings. It would not do to shame herself or unnecessarily antagonize the people in this place. Wherever this place was. But it seemed she had already annoyed the gatekeeper or whatever he was, for he snatched the mysterious tablet back from her grasp.

"It is written here!" he declared firmly. "And it is not your place to question, Saavik of Hellguard!"

She regarded him solemnly, a barely raised eyebrow the only sign of emotion. "I wish to speak with whomever is in charge here."

For several moments, the robed figure stood perfectly still, his features unreadable in the shadows of his hood. Saavik began to wonder if perhaps she had gone too far with her demands, when suddenly he spoke. "As you wish," he said placidly while motioning her to step out of line.

Saavik moved a few meters away, watching as the next person in line received their indifferent greeting and instructions. After a moment, they vanished, and another moved forward. It didn't take long for her to grow bored watching the monotonous scene.

"Why does no one else object?" she wondered softly. Surely not all of the newly deceased were xenophobes, desiring to limit their contact with other species even in death. Why the need for such separation? She began walking as she contemplated, the thick fog swirling around her feet with each step. Soon the quiet murmurs of the queue faded, and she could see nothing but the vast opaque mist spreading out in all directions. "Surely there is an explanation!"

"Well, of course there is," announced a smooth, but arrogant male voice. "Most of these species can barely get along when they're living: always starting this war or that conflict. Generally, the only thing that stops the hostility is the threat of extermination. So imagine the bickering that would ensue once they discovered they were already dead!"

Saavik turned her head, observing the new arrival. A naturally smug expression adorned his face, which appeared to be human in feature, but without any identifying racial characteristics. He walked toward her confidently, wearing a colorful jumpsuit similar to her own, rather than the bland, concealing robes of the other representative of this place.

"Who are you?" she asked, once he'd stopped a meter away from her.

The man chuckled. "You Vulcans are a curious bunch, aren't you?"

"That does not answer my question," Saavik responded, keeping her eyes on him as he paced a small circle.

"I know. What can I say? I am me. There is no other like me, therefore a unique designation hardly seems necessary." He saw the next question forming on her lips and shook his head before she could ask. "No, I am not the creator of life, or the universe, although I have experimented a little with breeding miniature sea primates."

This was the person in charge? Saavik tilted her head in doubt.

As if reading her thoughts, he smirked at her, then shrugged. "So, what's the problem? I was told you refused to join a designated area."

"That is correct. I was told to select either the Vorta Vor or Sha Ka Ree, a choice which is unacceptable." Saavik waited for his quizzical nod, then elaborated. "I do not wish to associate with any dead Romulans that I have known. But I cannot be certain that my husband will decide upon the Vulcan afterlife."

"Your husband? Oh, yes. The esteemed Ambassador Spock." He took a few steps away from her, then turned to walk toward her, the mist flowing around his legs. "Why do you wish to be with him? This is your chance at true happiness."

Saavik watched him silently for a long moment before saying, "He makes me truly happy."

"I always suspected you Vulcans were exaggerating about the whole 'we cannot experience emotions' spiel." The man chuckled again, shaking his head. "Well, I suppose with your Starfleet background, I could authorize your entry into Eden... but as you stated, there's no way of guaranteeing your husband's choice. And once you've decided, you can't change your mind."

"That is not acceptable!" Saavik snapped. Her frustration mounted, and by now, she no longer cared about maintaining an emotionless facade.

"Occasionally, we do make exceptions for mixed species couples who have died at the same time and wish to remain together," he admitted, then shrugged. "But since you're already here, I'd advise you to pick one of the options we've given you and be satisfied."

"No."

He blinked. "No? What do you mean, 'no'? I'm letting you pick one of three different places! Most people don't even get one option!"

"I did not allow my life to be managed by others when I was alive," Saavik declared firmly. "I certainly will not let you control it now."

"And what makes you think that this so wonderful husband of yours would want to spend the rest of eternity at your side, anyway? If he chose Eden, perhaps he'd rather relax and relive his 'glory days' with his old human friends. Kirk, McCoy, Uhura... they're all there. Or if he chose Sha Ka Ree, then don't you think he'd much rather spend time with his full blooded Vulcan ancestors, wallowing in logic?"

Saavik looked at him silently, then sat down, folding her legs beneath her. They disappeared into the milky fog.

"What do you think you're doing?" He scrunched his forehead in annoyance.

She tilted her head to look up at him, her expression once again completely staid and composed. "You are correct. Spock might choose either of those choices, for the reasons you stated. So I will merely wait for his arrival and go where he does. If, as you suggest, he does not wish me to accompany him, then I will make my own decision at that time."

He blinked. "But it could take years for him to die! You know how long lived Vulcans tend to be!"

"I will wait," Saavik repeated quietly.

He sighed. "You would be happy in whatever place you chose, I promise you that. This is the good afterlife, you know."

"Without Spock, any place will be the equivalent of hell," she reminded him. "Either allow me to wait or send me back. But I will be with him."

"Oh, for –" He let out a breath of air in exasperation, the mists around him swirling in response. "I had no idea how foolish and ridiculous you mortals could be with regards to 'love'. Very well! If you're going to be this stubborn about the matter..." He snapped his fingers.

Saavik blinked, not quite sure what to expect. Then she gasped involuntarily, for she no longer sat in the moist fog: the dull white glow had been replaced with complete darkness and the cool and humid air with a dry warmth.

Carefully she felt around, until her fingers touched a smooth panel. At her questing touch, a dim light suddenly came on to illuminate the room: her own room, the quarters she shared with Spock on Vulcan. All of their belongings seemed to be in place, exactly as they had been before the diplomatic conference.

The tiniest crease formed in her brow, deepening when she focused on the numbers displayed by the chronometer. According to it, the morning of the conference had not yet dawned. Her eyes quickly fell on the bed, and the sleeping form of Spock. She could hear the deep, almost silent breaths he took and the quiet rustle of the bedcovers as his chest moved.

A sigh came out of her throat, a much needed exhalation of emotion. Spock woke at the slight sound, sitting up in bed, instantly alert. His eyes found her without difficulty in the dim lighting, and he instantly recognized that something was amiss. "Saavik kam?" he said softly, the words being both a question and a reassurance.

"It is all right," she replied, her voice equally low. And she realized that it was, for the incident causing her death had not yet occured. If the strange recent events had in fact happened, then she now had the chance to ensure an alternate future. On the other hand, it could have simply been a dream spawned by subconscious anxiety concerning the upcoming peace talks. But in either case, things were as they should be, for the moment.

With a sense of curious gratitude, Saavik slid back under the sheets with her husband, resting her head against his chest. His heart beat softly beneath her ear, a reassuring pattern of life. Through their bond, she sent a thought of deep love to him, and then shivered. His arms wrapped around her, an instinctive but logical action to keep his wife warm. In the darkness once again, she allowed herself a faint smile.