In this galaxy there's a mathematical probability of three million Earth-type planets. And in the universe, three million million galaxies like this. And in all that, and perhaps more...only one of each of us. Dr. McCoy, Star Trek, "Balance of Terror"
It had never been this bad before.
They were taking heavy fire from the Romulans, of all people. "What is it with these freakin' Romulans?" Kirk had muttered to Bones in the first few minutes of their encounter, which made the edges of his friends' mouth twitch slightly.
"Everyone just wants to kill you, kid."
It seemed that way. Kirk learned, in just one little sit-down talk with the Captain, who called himself Hazari, was out for revenge for the death of Nero. "I thought we'd put that all behind us." Kirk muttered, cutting off the transmission when it became quite clear that rationalizations would not work on this guy. "What part of 'ship of exploration' don't these people understand?"
Because it seemed that, for a ship that was supposed to make First Contact and explore the universe, they got roped into an awful lot of space battles. Kirk knew he had the Enterprise A crew to thank for having more than just a handful of torpedoes. "Can you imagine going through this without any ion cannons? Checkov, ready?"
"Wedy, keptan." But the murmur of fear was obvious under the words. Fear, in fact, was the undercurrent of emotion most palpable on the deck. The Enterprise was outgunned, out sized, and a sitting duck, as the first thing the Romulan ship had done, even before hailing them with a "now you are all going to die" type message, was to disable their engines.
Kirk punched the button next on the arm rest of his seat. "Scotty, how's engineering?" What they really needed was to warp away, to hell with running from a fight, to hell with honor. He had the lives of hundreds of people in his command. He wasn't about to throw that away if he could help it.
"Captain, this is Lt. Barkley." The voice that came over the intercom was younger than Scott's, Americanized, frightened. "Commander Scott was injured during the blast…maybe dead, I don't…I don't know…" the transmission was scratchy and cut off suddenly at the end, leaving Kirk staring at it, head cocked slightly as if confused. He'd liked Scotty since the moment they'd met on Delta Vega, liked his quick mind and easy humor. Maybe dead.
"Well, I guess we'll have to fight our way out, then." Kirk forced optimism into his tone, forced the news about Scotty to the back of his mind. "Sulu, help Checkov with weapons. Seems like we won't be heading out any time soon. Uhura…hail the Romulans, all channels. If we can talk our way out of this, we will."
"Captain." Spock was there, stoic as always. "Captain, do you have a plan of action?"
"Other than blowing the biggest hole I can in that ship? No, not really." Kirk watched the screen, nervous, poised to react but not ready to deliver the first blow. There was that tiny, irrational part of him that kept saying that, perhaps, there wouldn't need to be any blood shed.
Just then, the ship rocked with a blast that made the lights flicker before going over to auxiliary power. The helm station, with both Checkov and Sulu behind it, suddenly had only Checkov, who stared, mouth gaping, at his friend who'd just had a large part of his shoulder scooped out by flying debris.
Everyone started talking at once, giving Kirk updates on a situation he was still trying to comprehend. "Johanson, Nalick, take Sulu down to medbay. Checkov, we need torpedoes fired now, aim for their shields, then weapons, then engines. Remember, we want them to run away. Uhura, any answer on the comm?"
There had to be a way around this. Desperately, Kirk thought back to his academy days, the first two years when he had to take Engineering classes, Piloting classes, because a captain should know everything that was going on in his ship…
…He remembered one late night, when he was up late studying and Bones walked in, almost stumbling with exhaustion after coming off of a forty-hour shift. The older man had no sooner collapsed in his bed than Kirk was on him, pointing out one of the back-up safety protocols built into the newest series of Galaxy Class Starships.
"Do you think this is right?" Kirk could remember asking his roommate, who'd rolled over and blearily squinted at the schematics, showing a safety switch on the warp drives. "There always has to be enough power to activate the warp engine…all the power in the ship gets diverted for an instant if you follow these protocols, and you go into warp."
"Sounds good to me." Bones threw a hand over his eyes, willing Kirk to go away. No such luck.
"But Bones…" Kirk's voice was pleading, way too alert for three o'clock in the morning. "The only way to activate the switch is to send someone in…it's basically a suicide mission."
Bones flicked his hand away and groaned, "So you lose a guy. If you're sending someone into that situation anyway, Jim, you're going to be pretty desperate for a way to run. Good of the many and all that."
Which left Kirk staring at his roommate, who was now officially dead to the world and would probably inject Kirk with something he was allergic to if the younger man woke him up again. "Good of the many…" he repeated, feeling he distasteful words on his tongue. "What about Primum Non Nocere, huh? First do no harm?"
He thought that should be a Starship Captain's motto. He could explore space and find new territories and aliens and meet new people, but they should never, ever have to harm anyone to do it.
Now, in the middle of the worst battle he'd ever been in, Kirk remembered that conversation. It all came back to him in an instant. First do no harm. Good of the many. He looked around at Checkov, who was not even old enough to drink legally and out of his mind with worry about his best friend, at Uhura, who'd told him a week ago that the person she was seeing in horticulture had just proposed. At Spock.
Their eyes met across the wreckage of blasted consoles and bleeding crewmen with Spock, as always, the calm eye of the storm. He, too, had analyzed the situation and had calculated their chances of survival at two hundred and twelve against…
"Spock." Kirk's voice cracked and it wasn't nearly loud enough to be heard over the sounds of the crew falling apart, but Spock heard anyway and crossed the distance between them in a few steps.
"There's this…switch. A last-ditch kind of thing in engineering, right near the warp reactor. You know what I'm talking about?" There was just the faintest hesitation before Spock nodded. Slowly. Never taking his eyes off of Kirk.
"Scotty knew how to flip it, but I don't know if anyone else in engineering…they probably don't, and there's not enough time to figure it out, anyway. Do you know how to override the commands?" Again, the faintest nod from his First Officer, and the faintest hint of…something…in his eyes before it was replaced by an unreadable mask.
When Kirk dissected that something a moment later, he was floored. Trepidation. Betrayal. Fear. Spock knew full well that there was no way to get that close to the warp reactor without dying. That was the point of the fail-safe, to be used in a moment of absolute necessity. He was not only sending a man off to his death, he was sending one of the best men he'd ever known, a person who'd become a friend to him in the last year of their partnership. A member of an endangered species.
The ship was rocked again with a blast and there was a short scream from Checkov as his station emitted sparks. Kirk threw out a hand to steady himself and looked hard at Spock, hating himself for having to say the words.
"Spock, you need to --"
"I know." Spock looked as if he wanted to say something else, anything else. He turned once on his heel before turning back to Kirk. "It has been…an honor serving with you. Jim."
Then he was gone, flying towards the turbo-lift and down to engineering. Kirk felt like a murderer, even though he knew that this was one of the most awful roles of a captain. The good of the many. First do no harm.
Kirk wished he'd had that conversation with Spock. He wished he'd gotten the Vulcan's opinions on the matter.
But Spock was gone. A minute went by, and McCoy came on the loudspeaker next to Kirk's hand. That hob-goblin, Jim! He's going to kill himself!
Just when all hope seemed lost, when it seemed as if the Romulan ship would put them out of commission, permanently, the ship shuddered, sputtered, and launched itself into the depths of space.
Only when the chaos on the bridge had been rectified, the blood cleaned, the personnel bandaged…only when Kirk was finally, blissfully alone in his quarters did he allow himself to lean his head against his hand and cry.
The good of the many
Primum non nocere
One day he'd get it right. One day, he'd learn to act as a captain was supposed to, would learn when to send people off to their deaths and when to fight. And even though Spock's sacrifice had saved an entire ship, even though he'd died with honor, Kirk couldn't justify it. Couldn't, because he had the sneaking suspicion that he'd just killed the greatest man he'd ever known, and the best friend he would ever get.
Good of the many my ass.
Kirk never meant to be mean. In all of these, it was just the logical end to a situation. But he ended up hurting Spock anyway, which was pretty sad. Inevitability is a bitch.
Anyway, please review.