The shuttle craft rocked under the ion clouds as it was pelted with laser fire. Sulu was desperately trying to take evasive maneuvers as shield lights winked warningly. Uhura had left her com station open, trying to help McCoy move Chekov from his seat at the shuttle's transporter station. There was a huge gash on Chekov's head, and Uhura wasn't helping McCoy much. She had stepped into a pool of Mr. Chekov's blood, her feet had no traction and she had no leverage. McCoy managed to pull Chekov free himself, and he nodded at the transporter station, "Can you handle it while I keep this boy from bleeding to death?"
Uhura nodded deftly. She slipped into Chekov's seat, wiped the blood off the panel with a crimson sleeve and gritted her teeth. She was strangely calm. She was vaguely aware that her mouth tasted strangely metallic, and some tiny part of her mind whispered, "The taste of adrenaline."
Uhura was not Chekov, Scotty, or Spock. She was not an expert at transporting, but she could perform the basics. What she saw at the station made her swallow hard. She had two transporter pads available for three people.
Just then Kirk's voice came over the general comm link. "Chekov, Spock and I have the ambassador. Get us the fuck out of here!" Uhura caught their signals, closed her eyes for the briefest of instances and set the transporter to beam up the two most important members of the away team.
Kirk and the ambassador emerged on the two available pads. Kirk twisted his head around to look at the third, unlit transporter unit then turned his head at Chekov's chair--now occupied with Lt. Uhura. "Lieutenant!" He raged, "Where the Hell is my first officer?"
Uhura was not looking at him, and made no acknowledgment of his question. She was focused only on the transporter signals. The ship was rocked by another blast of laser fire, and the whole transporter station went dim.
"Captain," shouted Sulu, "We're just lost power to the forward shields."
"We must leave now," she heard the ambassador simpering.
As Uhura frantically tried to find Spock's marker, Kirk leapt past her to the engineering console. "Where are they Mr. Sulu?"
"3 o'clock captain."
"I'm repositioning the shields....Uhura!!!!!"
"Trying to lock in, Captain. We've got one transporter left now and we're running out of power."
Uhura was hurrying, willing her heart to slow down and her fingers to fly faster. The ambassador was yelling at Kirk now, "Captain, I insist we must get above the ion clouds immediately."
"Bones!" yelled the captain.
"I'm on it Jim!"
The ambassador started to wail, "We must leave! I...."
Uhura heard the sound of a hypospray as the ambassador suddenly went silent.
The world was moving in slow motion, she was focused on her console, but at the same time she felt as though a part of her heard every minute movement of the team. She could hear the beeping of the shields as Kirk frantically tried to reposition them for the next onslaught. She felt the ship drop and heard Sulu take a sharp intake of breath. She could hear McCoy swearing under his breath. She pressed the last sequence, clinched her fists and then yelled, "I have him, Captain."
The transporter lit, and Spock's form emerged. The front of his shirt was torn and a huge gash of wet green cut across his abdomen. He immediately slumped forward, and fell to the floor. McCoy rushed to him.
"Get us out of here Sulu!" Shouted Kirk, "Uhura, how soon can you hail the Enterprise?"
She couldn't even glance at Spock as she jumped back to com station, "Captain, we cannot transport or make contact until we clear the ion cloud cover."
"Be ready," directed the captain, not leaving his position at the engineering console, and not even glancing at Spock or McCoy. "Status report?"
She switched to her dedicated comlink and focused, "We lost two shuttles, the Zephyr and the Columbus were able to extract most of the away team...I can hear the Enterprise, hailing now."
They cleared the clouds just as the Enterprise, the Ninya, and the Hudson opened their shuttle bays. Suddenly she was receiving messages from all three federation vessels at once. Status report? Where was the ambassador? She answered them, with detached practiced calm. She felt almost as though she was floating out of her body and another Uhura was there, doing her job for her.
"He's not going to make it if we don't get him to sick bay," yelled McCoy.
Uhura didn't miss a beat, nor did she ask who McCoy was referring to, "Requesting Enterprise beam Spock, Checkov and McCoy off the shuttle. Have two stretchers standing by."
The doctor, Spock and Chekov flashed with light and it was just Sulu, Uhura and Kirk. Kirk began barking commands to Uhura, asking her to hail Starfleet, the Ninya, the Hudson, the Zephyr, the Columbus. She obeyed.
As soon as the shuttle docked Uhura, Sulu and Kirk ran immediately to the bridge, leaving the still unconscious ambassador with some frightened looking ensigns.
Kirk was in a rage. Hadn't he and Spock warned Starfleet this was most likely a hostage taking attempt? As he delivered the details of the Andrian's deception to Starfleet Command Uhura could hear the contempt in his voice.
It was hours before she could see Spock.
After all the shuttles were safely docked, after all the reports were made and Kirk had reamed the entire Diplomatic Corps, alas, only for the crew's benefit he looked at Uhura and said, "Lieutenant, you are relieved by Carter. Let's go to sick bay."
In the lift Kirk turned to Uhura and said, "At ease, Lieutenant," His face softened and he said softly to her, "You did good out there."
She nodded. Her eyes dry.
When they got to sick bay they found McCoy hovering over an unconscious Spock. "They'll both make it," he grumbled. "No thanks to that yellow bellied, brown nosing fool who calls himself an ambassador.
"Chekhov will be on his feet in a few days. Spock...will have a rougher time of it. He's lost a lot of blood, some shrapnel ripped across his abdomen. Got him in the small intestine. He's battling sepsis...And he received a concussion when he fell from the transporter pad…" The doctor lowered his eyes to his PADD. "I'm sorry."
Uhura took one of Spock's hands in both of hers. She felt one of Kirk's hands on her shoulder, and then his other hand wrapped around her's and Spock's. Kirk said softly,
"You know he'll wake up if he thinks I'm going after his girl." His voice was cracking, and Uhura couldn't help but be touched by his lame attempt to make a joke...her shoulders suddenly convulsed spontaneously and at last she broke down and wept.
Uhura, Kirk and McCoy took turns at his bedside, they couldn't entirely forsake their duties, but they made sure he was never alone. Many of the other crew members stopped by too. The ambassador did not.
Uhura ate all her meals next to Spock. She slept on a chair next to him, laying her head at his side. Over and over she took his hand, and moving his fingers into the position used for the Vulcan mind meld she would press it to her face, willing him to see her, willing him to know that she loved him.
And then on the third day, as she pressed his hand against her she felt a small shiver of electricity. His eyes were still closed but she knew he was there, slipping into her mind.
Was she alright? It was not her thought, it was his, and the first question he asked.
Uhura started to cry, "Spock I'm sorry, so sorry."
Sorry? Sorry for what? He was confused. She felt him probe deeper into her mind. Saw her memories of the last few days events rush past her eyes, saw his relief that she was unhurt, and that Kirk and Sulu had made it back...was Chekov okay?
Uhura wasn't as adept at a mind meld, wasn't sure her thoughts were focused unless she said them out loud, so she spoke her answers, "Yes, hurt, but getting better every day."
She felt more relief, and then felt him probe her mind again. She felt something akin to nausea or disgust well up in him as her memories of the ambassador bubbled up...and then the memories stopped. He could feel that she was anguished about something. What was it? And then she felt comprehension.
She looked up from the meld, and saw that his eyes had opened. His head had turned slightly and he was regarding her with the same serene expression he always had.
She felt the meld taking hold again, and immediately felt pain--his, not hers. She gasped, and felt him shudder. He had not meant for her to have seen that.
"It's okay," she mumbled, "It's better to feel the pain...to know you're still alive."
And then more memories flashed before her, these were his, not hers. He was remembering every tender moment they'd ever shared. She could see herself through his eyes. She was so different from him. She laughed easily. She could get angry easily too. And her emotions were easy to read, even for a Vulcan. He adored this about her. She saw all the emotions they'd ever shared together: friendship, passion, affection, anger, and frustration too. She saw how much he cherished every one.
...and then she saw, how at the moment where it really counted, when it really mattered she'd done exactly what was opposite of the tenderness he cherished, of her emotional self he adored. She had saved his commanding officer and the ambassador first.
And he loved her for it.
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