Jim's understanding of Romulan architecture paid off, they materialized at the docking bay, without another soul in sight. Jim's eyes tracked around the bay, building a mental picture of the ship around them, then took off towards a Jeffries tube, trusting Spock to follow behind him. As boys they had studied together, despite the difference in their years. They learnt in complementary styles, as they acted in almost every other area of life. Jim's talent lay in breaking down large concepts, arranging them into areas of study. He attacked education with broad strokes like he attacked with his fists. Spock's own fingers were more suited to the delicate and intricate, and his education reflected it. He clearly understood the particulars and the finite points. They knew their roles well, and planned their assault in accordance with their skills. They didn't even need to speak, which was fortunate. Spock was sure that the second Jim opened his big mouth he wouldn't stop ranting about Uhura, a topic Spock would rather wait until they were outside of enemy territory.
Jim would carry out the first attack, Spock would protect their backs. Jim knew the architecture; Spock knew the language and system controls. It took less than 10 minutes to locate the computer mainframe. Spock stood at the controls and accessed system reports while Jim guarded the door.
A hologram of Earth sprung up from the computer, spinning delicately. The spidery Narada loomed over it. It reminded Spock of another model of Earth, one that Jim had accidentally shared with the elderly version of his brother.
Unbidden, Spock began to speak. 'Do you remember the model of Earth that used to spin in my bedroom, Jim?'
Jim shot him an incredulous look. 'Is now really the time?'
'The search is ongoing through the mainframe.' Spock said.
Jim huffed and readjusted his grip on the phaser. 'Yeah I remember destroying it if that's what you mean.'
'We rebuilt it.'
'You mean Mom made me rebuild it as soon as I got out of the hospital.'
'You would not have been able to construct the gravitational microtronics without me.' Spock said mildly.
Jim took his eyes off the hallway and fixed his brother with a stare. 'Spock, why are you rambling?'
Spock pressed his lips together and bent his head over the controls. 'I am afraid that saving the Earth will not be as easy this time.'
The consol beeped before Jim could say anything.
'I have the location of the red matter device and Captain Pike.'
They darted through the mostly empty hallways towards the red matter device. Spock incapacitated two guards and Jim found cupboard to lock them in. Then they came to the ship Jim recognized from the Other Spock's memories. Its design was proud and futuristic, but still he could see the elements of Vulcan technologies. At the sight of it, Jim felt a little thrill of success and hope that their plan had a hope of succeeding. Spock, however, felt trepidation.
'Jim.' He said, gripping his brother as they walked through the doors. 'This ship is more advanced than I am capable of flying.'
Jim was just about to begin bullshitting his way out of an explanation when the ship's computer spoke in a clean voice. 'Voice print and face recognition analysis enabled. Welcome back, Ambassador Spock.'
Spock glared at his little brother. The fact that he couldn't meet his eyes was telling enough.
'You are keeping information from me.'
'It's not the first time, won't be the last.' Jim waved away.
An unexpected anger bubbled through Spock's gut. 'Is it worth risking the lives of everyone on board the Enterprise?' The life of our mother hung heavy in the air between them.
Jim's eyes were closed for a long moment. He opened them and looked at Spock. 'You're going to have to trust me.'
'I do.' He answered, without hesitation.
A singular expression of contentment was on Jim's face when he nodded and turned to leave. 'Good luck.'
'Jim.' Spock stopped him. There was a foreign quaver to his voice. 'If this plan does not succeed-'
'If it does not.' Spock repeated, stubborn as always. Then he wrapped his arms tightly around Jim, holding him close. Jim clung to the strength of his big brother, fingers digging into his back. Spock seemed equally unwilling to let go, as though the minute he did, Jim would slip away from him forever.
'I love you.' Jim murmured.
Spock's eyes clenched tight. 'I. I want you to know, Jim, I love you as well.'
'I know. I know.' Jim breathed. He pulled back sharply, arms still wrapped around Spock. 'Mom knows too. Of course she does.'
'Take care of our mother.' Spock instructed. His hand was quivering on Jim's shoulder.
A look of confusion passed over Jim's face. Before he could respond, the ship rocked and their communicators released a burst of static.
'Nero has deployed the drill.' Spock said. 'You must leave.'
With one last squeeze of the shoulder and a regretful look, Jim darted off the Vulcan ship. Hacking into the ship's protocols to give Spock liftoff permissions was a simple process. But as the ship pulled away, he could see into the cockpit. Spock's expression was filled with fury and determination. He looked primal.
The most terrifying moment of Winona's life was the day Amanda was implanted. She and George had decided: After this attempt, no more. No more pain and false hope, just acceptance. They couldn't stand it anymore, and asking Amanda to try again on their behalf was impossible.
Until those final moments on the Bridge, Winona thought she would never experience anything more terrifying than that.
It was a routine scientific analysis, their last assignment before joint parental leave and spending the last two weeks of Amanda's pregnancy on Vulcan. Winona's fingers had been twitching with nervousness for the last month, hoping for more news from Vulcan and dumb family photos of her best friend with a huge baby bump grinning wide enough to cover for the other two reluctantly included in the photo.
Reflexively she curled her fingers into fists then stretched out her fingers, pressing her palms into her consol.
Everything had been going fine, precisely according to plan. Even more than a little boring. Winona was command track – "gold shirt, gold hair" George would always say – but wasn't skilled enough at piloting to have control over the primary system. Her skill at weaponry, however, was unmatched. So even though she wasn't the pilot or navigator, her station was on the Bridge, holding responsibility for the defensive systems. But scientific analysis missions were hardly the most dangerous. She was bored with this assignment. George held to those good old fashioned loyalties, completing a mission to its full extent and the best of his abilities, which made her grudgingly sit attentively at her station for entire shifts, staring at the Neutral Zone and occasionally wishing it was anything but neutral.
Then there was the abnormality.
It burst across all their sensor readings, causing confusion and panic and finally some stimulation. Still, Winona found the time to watch her gorgeous husband out of the corner of her eye as he reported to Captain Robau. She loved watching him work.
They studied it for a while, Winona taking in the scientific screening reports and flicking between the effective defensive mechanisms.
Then the monstrous ship came through and hung in the space ahead of them. Everything went to hell.
And yet, still Winona didn't panic, she knew the danger, but even arming weapons and seeing the shields drop to 30% did not scare her more than Amanda's pregnancy.
What did terrify her, to her very core, was George walking back from escorting Captain Robau, and slowly lowering himself into the Captain's chair. She stared at him, struck dumb with fear. George nodded to her once, firm and absolute. She knew that nod, they had discussed it before. It meant that he was her Commanding Officer. Now rank comes before spouse and the mission before their relationship. As necessary as that nod was, she hated it, even as she returned it with the same seriousness.
When Captain Robau's vitals cut off, Winona's heart plummeted. Emergency evacuations were called, but Winona didn't notice any of that. She was wholly focused on battle strategies, sending torpedoes directly into the heart of the enemy ship. Those around her stood, leaving their stations and running for the shuttlecrafts, but Winona stayed behind, rerouting power from depleted weapons into the forward shields. George ran down to the helm beside her, operating the controls quickly. The ship's computer's voice damned them.
'Autopilot function has been destroyed.'
The Bridge felt like it stilled and fell quiet as George and Winona locked eyes.
'Are you with me, sweetheart?' he asked, gripping the edge of the consol as another torpedo rocked the ship.
'To the very end.' She answered.
He took his seat by her side, jaw tight with determination.
They exchanged few words as they defended the fleeing crew. There was little Winona could do against the monstrous ship, so she targeted the torpedoes firing after the shuttlecrafts. George piloted the ship into patterns designed to lock the weapons onto the Kelvin rather than the shuttles.
'George.' She said quietly, in the chaos of blaring alarms. 'I'm out of weapons.'
He closed his eyes and slowly nodded, this one filled with pain and longing. He set a course into the heart of the ship.
The Narada filled the viewscreen. It looked like death itself.
Finally, Winona found her voice. 'I don't want to die looking at the thing that killed me.'
George moved to her side and they slid to the floor. Intertwined and holding one another close, George's back against the consol, Winona pressing her ear to his heart.
'I'm glad.' She said.
'That we already told Amanda what his name will be.'
George's heart clenched painfully. He pressed a kiss into her hair. 'I'm just glad he's safe.'
The computer announced in a painfully calm voice, 'Impact alert.'
George squeezed her tighter, unwilling to let this life go. Winona's voice was muffled and choked. 'I miss him.'
'Me too.' George squeezed his eyes shut. 'I love you both, so m–'
Without Spock by his side, Jim felt unsettled. Adrenalin pumped through him, making him flinch at every sound in the echoing ship. He knew the path through to where Captain Pike was being held. He was so focused on the changes and movements around him; he almost didn't see the imposing statue ahead.
His breath stopped short in his throat. The instant he reacted, Nero leapt towards him. The Romulan cleared a dozen meters in a single jump, showing phenomenal strength even for his species. Jim was not sure if he would win this fight. Fear instantly gripped him and he took the defensive, twisting to avoid blows rather than blocking them. The few he did divert sent painful vibrations up his arms and into his spine. Jim always considered himself stocky by Vulcan standards, sturdy but lacking the distinctive strength of the species. The Romulan dominated him in sheer power.
'I know your face from Earth's history.' Nero hissed.
Instantly, the combatant in front of Jim transformed in his mind. No longer just threat and strength, he reappeared as the very creature that stole from Jim's life, destroyed everything as revenge for something that hasn't even happened yet. Jim struck.
His knuckles came away bloody, but so did Nero's face.
They grappled, blows raining down on both bodies.
'James T. Kirk was considered to be a great man.' Nero spoke. His fist drove into Jim's kidneys, making him cry out. 'He went on to Captain the USS Enterprise. But that was another life.'
A large hand gripped around Jim's throat, lifting him up and holding him up over the edge. His eyes rolled in his head as he gasped for air, his feet kicking reflexively. The drop below the platform went into the bowels of the ship. It would kill him.
'But that was another life.' Nero spun him around, slamming him into the floor and pinning him there. He bared his teeth as he spoke. 'A life I will deprive you of just like I did your father.'
Jim felt the edges of his vision darken, pain eclipsing his ability to fight. 'You destroyed my homeworld.' His voice was wavering and weak. 'You threatened the Earth.' Glee entered Nero's eyes. It made Jim sick. 'You murdered my family.'
A violent explosion rocked the ship. Metal screeched and was destroyed, piercing alarms sounded.
'But you gave me my brother.' Jim grinned triumphantly. 'And that was your first mistake.'
Nero released him and spun around, seething with anger. 'SPOCK!' he bellowed.
His brother had saved him once again. Jim took advantage of Nero's distraction to roll off the platform and onto a ledge he had spotted during the battle. He landed hard on his stomach, aggravating fresh injuries, but he stood and began running.
Dimly, he heard his communicator buzzing to life again, Spock levelling threats against the Romulans. He kept sprinting. Communications dropped out again, Spock must have gone to warp. Jim grabbed a pole for support and waited for the lurch of the Narada pursuing him.
He kept running, counting off the seconds with every forth beat of his legs. One, two, three, four. That's enough to reach the designated battlefield. Sure enough, they dropped out of warp and began firing. Jim could hear the mechanical grind of the weapons system coming online. The Nerada fired.
'Come on, Sulu, come on.'
Warning alarms echoed through the ship and it rocked sharply under fire from the Enterprise. Jim could have punched the air if he wasn't so busy punching the guards surrounding Pike.
'Captain Pike.' He said, grinning widely, unbuckling the restraints.
Dazed, Pike weakly lifted his head. 'What are you doing here?'
'Just following orders.' He tugged at a more stubborn strap. With a single deadly move, Pike pulled Jim's phaser and took out two Romulans with precision. Jim's eyebrows shot up. 'Yeah I definitely want to be you when I grow up.' He keyed his communicator as he hauled the other man from the slab. 'Spock, I have Pike. Enterprise, now!'
The familiar tug of beaming pulled at them, and they reappeared on the beaming platform of the Enterprise. Jim jerked his head around. The relief at seeing Spock standing beside him was so great he almost buckled at the knees.
'Good job, Scotty.' He smiled, carefully walking Captain Pike towards the medical team standing by. Scotty's shout of joy was noted as he passed Pike off to Bones. He turned to Spock.
The sly smile on the Vulcan's face was almost evil.
Confident in their victory, they marched onto the Bridge of the Enterprise and were received by a much relieved Ensign Chekov.
'Hail him now.' Jim commanded. 'Keep your distance from the ship, the red matter will ignite.'
The brothers took their position in front of the screen, shoulder to shoulder, their hands linked behind their backs, matching in carefully restrained ferocity. Nero's face appeared on screen.
'This is Captain James T. Kirk of the USS Enterprise. You are going to be destroyed by the singularity.'
Uhura's head tilted at the venom behind those words, the heartlessness.
'Surrender now and we may render assistance.'
Beside him, Spock straightened and tensed. 'Jim.' His tone was strange, but understood.
'I would rather suffer the end of Romulus a thousand times; I would rather die in AGONY!' Nero spat. 'Spock is a murderous wretch, a genocidal killer! He will destroy you all!'
Jim stepped forward. 'He is my brother.' He turned to face the Bridge. 'End transmission. Sulu, set orbit at a safe distance. I want to watch him be destroyed.'
The connection stayed on the screen, Nero's face held grim determination as he faced his death.
"But you gave me my brother. And that was your first mistake" I just wanted to acknowledge one of the first lines that I wrote for this fic. :)
One more chapter left! And boy it's a doozy. Look forward to some serious confrontations and intense emotions flying everywhere. It will mark the end of Star Trek XI: Surrogate. But due to popular demand I am seriously considering continuing through Into Darkness.
Thank you for reading and reviewing! Lots of you sent great encouragements to keep going that I kept unread for a very long time as incentive, sorry I didn't answer all the great questions, I thought it was probably creepy to reply 4 months later :S Anyway, my tumblr is pinkninjapj for those that asked, it's a multifandom mess so click through a few pages before you decide my insanity is worth following.