This is almost the exact same story as posted in my livejournal. I have consolidated some chapters, and tried to fix any lingering mistakes… I just can't seem to help constant futzing around with things once I get it back from my beta, ladyblahblah (who is divine and should have many accolades sent her way!). Any mistakes you see would be allll mine. Yeah.
Before you get too far into this story, please know that it is indeed finished. I wouldn't inflict a WIP this long on you. Also, yes this is SLASH. As in man-on-man, hot sweaty sex. Eventually. So, if you're looking for the boys to jump into bed together in the first chapter… maybe not the story for you.
Also, there are some extremely vivid/graphic descriptions of various forms of violence and harm. I would heed the warnings carefully.
That being said….
"Bah dum … da dum… da dum-de-dah-dum….."
The syllables were rough. Dry, like sandpaper that had been left outside for far too long and could easily crumble to dust. They weren't the only sounds in the hollow chamber. Occasionally there was a whimper or moan of agony to liven up the chorus. Faintly in the background a computerized voice could be heard counting repetitively, the alien syllables steady and monotonous.
"The mon…key… chased… "
Indeed, the man making those sounds was beyond realizing the repetitive song- that he was repeating the same syllables over and over, like an old Earth record that was stuck and skipping. The words were the barest breath, his strained and ravaged vocal cords unable to produce much beyond the slightest whisper.
It was a silly song that he remembered his mother teaching him to play on the small piano that sat in the living area of his boyhood home. As a boy he had had absolutely no discernible musical talent, but he did vividly remember the smell of his mother's perfume as she sat with him, patiently showing him the keys to press, her warm hand on his center of his back, the feel of her hug when he managed to play the childish song without stopping or with too many mistakes. It was one of the few times that he remembered sitting still.
"Bah dum … da dum…"
What would it do to her, when they informed her that her youngest son, following the long-standing tradition of both his older brother and father, had died while on a mission for Starfleet?
But his brain didn't like that thought and shied away from it like a skittish animal.
He had no idea how long he had been hanging here… hanging around. Hanging. Huh. The thought made his broken lips smile. He felt a trickle of blood escape from the corner of his mouth, and licked at it instinctively. He was so thirsty. The small wetness didn't help at all, only caused his mouth to feel even more dry and swollen as the bright copper taste hit his taste buds.
He wiggled his left wrist by accident, but didn't have the strength to wince when pain ricocheted around his already abused body as the shattered bones rubbed against each other. The blood pooling from the horribly swollen appendage caused the skin to throb against the chain that held him immobile. It didn't matter. The pain would pass eventually, the horrible thirst would dissipate. He would die here, broken and alone.
"Bah dum … da dum… da dum-de-dah-du….."
God, he was thirsty.
When the small ship had first shown up on the Enterprise scanners, Acting Captain Spock's fingers had tightened so much on the armrests of the Captain's chair that the metal gave a subtle groan of protest at its treatment. The fierce fury that the sight of the vessel produced was completely illogical. But undeniable. "Red Alert." The klaxon and the flashing red lights seemed to somehow enhance the moment, making it seem even more intense.
This was the ship that had attacked them. Stolen their Captain. "Ensign. Report."
"Aye. Keptin." Chekov quickly punched some numbers into the console.
Spock had to force himself to speak calmly as the young man worked. "Helmsman? How long until intercept?"
"Four-point six minutes. Captain."
Chekov spoke, his untrained voice showing his frustration with the information he had to share. "Keptin. Long range scanners show that the wessel is in orbit around the planet, but some sort of electronic disturbance is interfering with in-depth scanning information. "
"--Captain. I am receiving no signals from either the ship or the planet. The interference seems to be disrupting communications as well." The man speaking from the communications station also had nuances of emotion in his voice as he spoke. Spock could detect adrenaline and a faint tinge of panic.
"Take us out of warp, Helmsman Mathos." Spock was not about to trust the occupants of that vessel again. They had long-range weapon capability. It was illogical to assume that because the Enterprise's sensors were compromised that the vessel's own sensors were as well.
"Yes sir." The engines purred briefly as they slowed down. Spock was up and standing over the Ensign at the science station, fingers itching to pull up the information he required. "Ensign, scan the planet's surface for life signs."
"A-aye. Sir!" Spock wondered for a moment why the man's speaking voice sounded higher than usual, and acknowledged that perhaps he was standing a little too close to the shorter Human. Spock knew that his presence still intimidated the crew of the Enterprise. Normally he would not have catered to such a human insecurity, but he needed this information the Ensign could provide, so he stepped back.
The turbolift's doors swooshed open "Damnit, why are we stopped? What are you people…?" the Chief Medical Officer's voice trailed off as he saw the enemy ship on the Enterprise's view screen. Spock watched as the other man's fists clenched. His complexion became very colorful. Spock recognized that this was a very tell-tale sign that McCoy was about to completely lose his temper.
Spock could now see the electronic disturbance. It could be a storm trapped in the planet's atmosphere. He was not sure. Whatever it was, it was an obstacle keeping him from scanning the ship ahead of them. He could hear the doctor's heavy breathing as he glared at the ship. McCoy was obviously exhausted.
As were they all.
Spock knew the human had come up from sickbay once they had dropped out of warp, as he had a habit of doing. That habit was surely what was driving him now as he looked over at Spock. The doctor's eyes narrowed even further.
Acting Captain Spock, Ensign Chekov, Chief Engineer Scott, and were the only crewmembers assigned to the bridge that hadn't been struck by the disease that had ravaged the ship after Captain Kirk was taken. It had been quite fortunate that the Chief Medical Officer had not been victim to the disease. Their replacements were ill. The people that staffed the bridge of the Enterprise now were not who Spock would have chosen to complete a find and recover mission, yet here they were. Logically, he knew that in the year since Captain Kirk had taken over, the crew had been tested and retested to perform at their absolute best. Many had now worked double shifts as their crewmates were struck down by the strange disease. They were good at what they did, yet he still wished for Mr. Sulu's quick reflexes and Uhura's unmatched xenolinguistics skill.
The disease had struck them hard. McCoy had watched helpless as the first few patients died in front of him. It had taken him two entire days to isolate the symptoms enough to slow the death process in order to find a cure. There seemed to be no rhyme or reason to the disease, and McCoy still hadn't been able to isolate the cause.
Nor could Spock explain how the Captain had disappeared off of the ship with no evidence of transporter use. One minute the vessel was alongside the Enterprise, and in the next moment unidentified microbes had been beamed into the ship's ventilators. In the chaos of that discovery, they had discovered that Kirk was missing.
It had been a rough ten days, to say the least. Spock and McCoy had taken to discussing matters in Captain Kirk's ready room, so that the skeleton crew was not unduly influenced by the conversation.
"Ensign Chekov, Ensign Kelly, report your findings to me. I will be in the Captain's ready-room."
Spock's eyebrow rose as he followed McCoy to the sparsely furnished room.
It was no surprise to him that almost as soon as the room's doors swished shut, McCoy had his tricorder out and was taking readings of his physiology.
"Still no symptoms? No... No… I can see. Adrenaline spike. Exhaustion. Expected."
Spock could clearly make out the muttered words and submitted to the quick readings without comment. While he still found most human emotion completely illogical, he understood that the CMO needed to reassure himself- to feel as though he was accomplishing some small thing. The readings were correct; Spock truly was exhausted. Vulcans required very little sleep to maintain day-to-day activities, but Spock had been unable to sleep at all while performing his duties as Acting Captain. When he wasn't technically on duty, he had been in the biolab, assisting McCoy with isolating the researchable aspects of the disease. With precisely 76.8 percent of the crew affected by or deceased from the disease, McCoy had not had enough staff to care for the sick and do all the research himself.
It was a dissatisfying situation.
Spock desperately wanted to meditate. Needed to. Needed to get these uncomfortable emotions under better control. He knew this, understood this to be the most logical course of action, but he had simply not been able to find the time.
McCoy looked up, glaring at him.
Before he could speak, however, Chekov's excited voice could be heard over the communications.
"Keptain! Keptain!!" Spock had whirled on his heel and was walking out of the ready room towards the young Ensign almost before the man had spoken the last syllable, McCoy right behind him.
"The electrical anomaly is not just a storm. It is engineered, as sort of a jamming dewice!" His fingers were flying over the console as he muttered under his breath. "Scanning, sir."
Spock found himself tapping his finger against the leg of his uniform and stopped immediately, appalled at his own actions.
There was a gasp from the station. "Keptin, I am picking up Captain Kirk's signal! It is wery faint. And… readings, sir. Faint life form readings from the wessel. Not sure if human or not. But humanoid."
Spock spun on his heel. "Spock to Scott. Meet me in the Transporter Room A. Lieutenant Jasper, assemble an away team." He was already walking towards the lift.
There was a tense silence as the turbo lift hummed on its way to the proper deck. The doors swished open and Spock stalked through. He stopped McCoy from striding to the transporter pads by angling his body in front of the other man's, but McCoy was so intent on his destination that he walked right into him. The flurry of emotions he picked up from the contact was brief, but extremely unwelcome. Fury. Worry. Heartache. Feelings of being superfluous. Spock raised an eyebrow and stepped back.
"You will not be accompanying us."
"The hell I won't!"
"Your duty is to the crewmembers on this ship. You cannot be spared at this time given the negligible likelihood of your staff to find an inoculation to this sickness without you present."
McCoy sputtered, so furious that he couldn't actually respond with words.
It was fortuitous; Spock thought, that the others showed up before McCoy could resort to physical violence. Their time working so closely together had not improved their relationship.
"Two teams. I require one of you to beam down to the enemy vessel with me." He looked at Lieutenant Jasper who nodded once, gesturing to one of his subordinates who came to stand by Spock. "Lieutenant Scott, you have the con."
"You better bring him back; you damn… pointy eared…" McCoy broke off, turning sharply on his heel, muttering obscenities under his breath, all of which Spock could clearly distinguish.
"Lieutenant Scott, energize."
Spock braced himself and waited for the feeling of the transporter to start scrambling molecules, but it never came.
"Energize, Mr. Scott." Spock's voice dropped a degree or two.
"I… can't sir. There is someth…"
Scott was interrupted by the beep of a communicator. "Keptin! The electronic interference is back. We've lost our signals from the planet."
Spock raised an eyebrow.
Two days later found the Enterprise in slightly better shape. McCoy found himself staring out of the window in his office, looking down at the planet. He had indeed made an inoculation against the spread of the disease, which the crew members had taken to calling Blackneck. They knew that it was much like Terran influenza, but had caused the patients to spike such a high fever that its victims were delirious within hours. Spreading through the respiration system, it had been quite difficult to contain. The virus had caused the neck to swell and patches of skin to start flaking off. The remaining skin tissue would turn dark blue or black until it looked as though the victim had some sort of orchestrated contusions. The bacteria on the skin would result in entire layers of flesh withering away. McCoy was heard to mutter that it was like the ancient Earth plagues and leprosy with a touch of Ornaran plague and lungworm thrown in for kicks. It constantly shifted, mutating itself so that finding a cure was difficult. McCoy had managed to stop the mutation and the spread and was working on administering relief to the individual symptoms. Crew quarters had become emergency quarantines.
McCoy took a sip of whiskey, savoring the burn as it hit his stomach. He had no intention of getting drunk. Damnit. But he had prescribed himself a short break before he fell on his face. Slowly but surely, things were looking better. Sulu and Uhura had been returned to duty, and that had helped both him and the green-blooded bastard to get some much needed rest. Actually, McCoy had wanted them to remain in sickbay for observation since both had flaking skin and fading black contusions, but they had both insisted that they would be fine for active duty.
Uhura and Sulu, along with Chekov and Scott, had pretty much taken over the entire day-to-day duties of running the ship. McCoy had prescribed Spock a period of rest, but had no way of knowing whether the pointy-eared hobgoblin had followed his medical advice or not. McCoy had slept for seven hours straight, until his staff had awoken him, needing his expertise.
Chekov had been monitoring the interference from the planet. He had been so focused on finding every single scrap of information that McCoy had pretty much had to force the kid into taking a break to sleep. Even then he had suspicions that he was somehow still monitoring from his quarters. Chekov and Spock had both worked seamlessly and McCoy had been hard-pressed not to make any Caped Crusader and Boy Wonder jokes. Well, out loud anyway. He smirked into his glass and took another sip.
The two had discovered that the cycle of interference gave them exactly a 6.4 minute window of non-interference every twenty-four hours. They had been unprepared for yesterday's window, not knowing when exactly it cycled through. McCoy had still not been cleared to go, but operating on the assumption that the window would be opening in another- he checked the chronometer- hour and twenty minutes, Spock had ordered everyone necessary to report to the transporter room ten minutes before the actual window began.
McCoy and Spock had conferred again (their "conference" in the ready room had resulted in McCoy yelling and waving his hands around, and several repetitions of the word 'illogical') and were operating on the tentative assumption that Jim was on the planet, and two unidentified humanoids were on the ship. The sensors had confirmed Jim's recorder signature planetside, so McCoy was reasonably certain they were on the right track. . Reasonably. Okay, partially. Somewhat. Damnit, he was a doctor not a sensor specialist. He took another swig of his drink and sighed, standing and getting ready to prepare sickbay for his friend and the two poor bastards that were stuck on the ship.
Spock had insisted that he be the one to beam down to the alien vessel. 'It is only logical, as I have not contracted the disease that has incapacitated the Enterprise. The member of security who is beaming down with me is also immune. We have the advantage of being prepared and aware in this instance. I do not anticipate any problems, Doctor.'
Prissy, tricorder-up-the-ass bastard.
McCoy busied himself with his patients in Sickbay, one eye on his patients, the other on the chronometer as it steadfastly kept time.
Spock had spent several hours in deep meditation, trying to eradicate his maelstrom of useless emotions. It had worked up to a point, and the additional three hours of sleep had done wonders to sharpen and focus his thoughts.
He had gone over the plan with the security officer and the two medical crew Dr. McCoy had insisted be added to the away team. The planetside team had a very simple mission: they would be beamed to the Captain's coordinates, and beamed back as soon as they had ascertained that the Captain was safe to be moved. Starfleet regulations prohibited them from simply locking on the Captain's location and beaming him directly to the ship in order to be certain of exactly whom they were beaming up. It wouldn't do to inadvertently violate the Prime Directive when a simple visual confirmation would suffice.
This was an illogical regulation. If a member of Starfleet had been kidnapped, Spock privately believed that he or she should be recovered without taking the extra step to beam down to a possibly—probably—hostile planet. McCoy had also insisted that everyone wear protective suits that supplied clean air, eliminating the issue of picking up possible planetary contamination.
Spock had a slightly different mission. He had tasked himself with finding answers- answers that only a thorough examination of the hostile spacecraft could provide. Who were these people? What motivated them to attack members of Starfleet with such a hostile act?
He had no answers at this time.
The doors to the transporter room opened with a small swish and Spock entered, pleased to see that everyone was ready and waiting. To save time, Mr. Scott was planning on beaming both teams within seconds of each other, and Spock was satisfied to note that the planetside away team was already ready and waiting. Spock nodded at the ensign, who handed him his phaser and tricorder. He attached the tricorder securely to his uniform and held the phaser loosely in his left hand. Mr. Scott had explicit instructions to beam up all members of the team, regardless of what they found, before the window closed again.
"Alright, laddies. Prepare to transport." Mr. Scott nodded to Spock and the security officer who stepped into place, ready to stand on the transporter pads as soon as it was safe to do so. Spock anticipated that it would take only a few seconds for Scott to beam them to the ship, but with such a short window of opportunity it was vital that they be ready.
As soon as the five people disappeared, Spock moved into place. He nodded at Scott, who responded with a curt, "Energize!"
Spock felt the molecules do the odd pushpull that signified the use of a transporter beam, saw the blinding white light as he was being sent away. Before he faded completely he could make out a panicked, "Sir! Kirk isn't…!" before he disappeared.
Several things happened at once in the nanosecond before he reappeared on the alien ship. That one brief warning…. Kirk isn't… had tensed Spock into movement, and from movement into action.
That action saved his life.
There was a flash of red and Spock was diving almost before he had rematerialized, his quicker-than-human reflexes throwing him down, and over. There was a scream beside him as the security officer was hit by the beam of light, the piercing his acute hearing as the high-pitched sound filled the room. Spock saw the man's flesh start to burn away; he flipped and turned so that he landed in a crouch, eyes assessing the situation. There was no one there. Whatever had attacked the unfortunate Human must have been set as a trap.
Spock moved cautiously towards the fallen man, Most of his legs and the lower part of his torso had been burnt away. Spock became aware of the computerized voice doing some sort of countdown, and he made his way quickly through the doors. The readings had spoken of two humanoid life forms, and Spock had a horrible suspicion that one of them was his Captain. The planetside security officer's panicked, 'Sir! Kirk isn't….' caused Spock's brain to whirl with possibilities.
Spock vaguely recognized the language the mechanized voice was speaking. While he couldn't be certain without proper study, it seemed as though the Cardassian voice was performing a simple countdown. The flashing red lights made it very clear that the ship had been set to self-destruct. He hurried to the next room and began searching for the life forms. He did a quick calculation of the number the computerized voice spoke against the time left within the window of opportunity and realized that ship had been set to self-destruct at exactly three seconds before any away team would be able to beam out. He tapped his communicator, unsurprised when it gave a flat-sounding sound. He could not communicate with the Enterprise. Spock frowned minutely. He did not have time to find and disengage whatever was jamming the communication frequencies.
The tricorder beeped at him, showing that one of the lifeforms was still tenaciously clinging to life. The readings were extremely faint. He couldn't read a heartbeat or any specific information from this distance, but Spock knew that someone was on board. There was no sign of the other lifeform the Enterprise's readings had confirmed was here.
He had approximately 5.23 minutes. Spock ran.
There were several metal staircases. He was headed for the belly of the ship- perhaps some kind of cargo hold. It took longer than he had anticipated, following the tricorder readings.
He passed what looked like an eating area, barracks, and some kind of medical lab. His quick gaze inside caused his heart to start pounding and he skidded to a halt, his regulation boots slipping a little on the tacky blood that had been spattered everywhere. The yellow Starfleet uniform had been ripped to shreds. Spock blinked. The iron tang of blood hung rank in the room, along with the smell of darker things. Someone had bled out on the medical table. They had been chained down, spread-eagled.
He was very aware of his heartbeat. Each thud seemed to counterpoint the placid self-destruct countdown. It was illogical to stand there, staring at the dead man, but Spock literally couldn't make his foot move forward. All he could hear was his blood rushing through his body, echoed by the too-fast thudding of his heart. It took an inordinate amount of time for him to take a step forward. And another. The man's face was turned away from him. Spock reached out, and with surprising gentleness turned the man's neck so that he could see the features.
His skin was still warm. Spock's sensitive fingers could feel the fading heat from the man's skin. He could see the man's features frozen forever in a grotesque mask of abject fear. He didn't recognize the face.
It wasn't him.
Time seemed to rush back all at once.
Spock whirled, clutching the tricorder. He ran again, lithe body pounding on the metal planks of the staircases, each step jingling in a strange staccato accompaniment to the steady voice counting down to his death.
He entered the large cargo hold with a feeling of gratitude. It had taken him longer than he had calculated to go through the ship. There was a soft beep from the handheld instrument, and Spock skidded to a halt again in front of a large, heavy metal door that separated the cargo hold from a smaller area, likely used for more precious cargo.
The door clanged as he applied his strength. There was a horrible screeching sound as metal scraped against metal, and Spock got his first glimpse of what was inside.
Once, while he was teaching at the Academy, Uhura had brought Spock a twentieth-century Terran device, used to capture images one found captivating. Delighted with his complete curiosity about the object, Uhura had gleefully informed him that when loaded with film; pressing the button let you record a still photograph of basically anything. Spock had held the small device up to his eye, pushing the button. The camera had been empty, but still made a sharp clicking sound each time he depressed the small button.
He thought of that camera now as each image solidified into reality.
His Captain. Blood-stained metal cuffs held his wrists, secured to two thick metal chains connected to each wall.
His body- mottled shades of purple, blue, green and red… so much red… mixed together as though a particularly petulant child had tried to combine vivid paint. A kaleidoscope of agony.
One eye, peeking through the swollen flesh of a broken eye socket, lids distended and disfigured. It widened a little. Fear.
He had thirty seconds.
The thought spurred him to action. He could not release the captain in time before he was beamed up to the Enterprise. Leaving this ship without the captain was not an option. He whirled and ran for the small control console near the air lock. The red of the flashing alarm flashed in his eyes as his fingers flew over the controls.
Spock moved faster, searching for a way around the self-destruct sequence.
He had seven of the eight placeholders.
There was a beep, an answering pip-pip, and the alarm shut off. Spock was already ripping the location device from his clothes, flinging it towards the cargo bay doors. He watched as it dematerialized, as Mr. Scott attempted to beam Spock back to his own ship. The sudden silence was deafening.
A broken moan caused Spock to practically leap forward. The chains were strong, thickly forged to keep their victim immobile. It took Spock two minutes to remove the left one.
Kirk cried out as the atrophied muscles in his back, shoulders, and arms were forced to move. Spock was as gentle as he could be, but knew that the muscles, exhausted from overuse and strain, would hurt as blood began to flow back through the tissue.
He became aware of a cracked litany of pleas spilling from his captain's lips, pleas for him to stop, to leave him alone.
"Captain. Rest, sir. You are... not yourself. You will be free in a moment."
Spock felt the utter shock in the body he held against his own, trying to support the Captain's weight and release the other cuff at the same time.
The faint whisper of his name, unbelieving. Torn and bloody lips moved again, more strongly. "Spock?" as though he didn't dare trust the answer.
Spock remembered at once that he was wearing the biosuit. He quickly ascertained that the captain showed no signs of the disease- it must not have permeated the current vessel- and removed the outermost layer of clothing, that which had hid his face from his Captain.
"Yes. Now, Captain, using your remaining strength to speak is an illogical use of energy. You will cease while I finish releasing you from these restraints."
Spock didn't imagine the slight twitch of lips. Kirk's weight against him increased as the other man lost consciousness completely.
Spock braced Kirk against his hip and put both of his hands on either side of the cuff, pulling it off and flinging it away. He stood there for a moment with his head cocked to the side as he quickly decided the best course of action. There were three beds in the medical room. One had been… occupied, but the other two held no evidence of foul play.
He shifted his grip, stomach rolling as he felt the broken bones shift under Kirk's skin. Humans were so very fragile. Spock had to be careful. Moving very slowly, he bent and carried him towards the sickbay, mind still furiously whirling, walking slowly so as not to jar the unconscious man in his arms.
They were alone on this ship, and had to get away from the planet's orbit before the captain could be moved to the Enterprise. Kirk was horrendously injured, and needed to get to Doctor McCoy as soon as possible; however, 'as soon as possible' wouldn't happen for another 23.46 hours unless Spock was able to get the ship moving.
He set Kirk down as gently as possible on the bed's surface. For the first time, he was able to step back and really take a look at the damage done to his captain's body. Kirk's left leg was broken, the shinbone poking hideously through flesh. Numerous contusions and bruises covered his body, from his legs all the way up his waist and chest. There were a surprising number of…of… bite marks. Now that Spock had identified the strange markings, he could see that many of the bruises were finger-length, particularly around his captain's hips and neck. He could detect evidence of broken ribs, and based on the number of bruises on the captain's skin could logically assume there was internal bleeding in addition.
Logically, he knew that he should go and find water, something to fight the obvious signs of dehydration, but he stood there for a moment looking down at the broken body on the bed. He reached out, but pulled his hand back millimeters from the Captain's shoulder, not wishing to add to his pain. He realized the tricorder was still in the cargo hold where he had dropped it when he had pushed open the metal door that had kept Kirk from (him) finding him quickly. The tricorder was not a medical, but would still be able to give him some sort of reading. Once he could be sure that Captain Kirk was in relative safety, he could concentrate on maneuvering the ship out of the planet's impeding atmosphere.
Yet there he stood. Even in unconsciousness, Kirk's features were tense with pain. Spock hypothesized that from the position in which his captain had been bound both his shoulders were likely dislocated. The skin of both wrists were swollen and torn as though he had struggled, ceaselessly fighting until he had no more strength from which to free himself.
Spock forced himself to turn around and observe his surroundings. The smell was atrocious. His olfactory senses were bombarded, and Spock had no trouble imagining the distress the sight of the other Starfleet officer would cause his captain. He quickly broke into some cabinets, counting on this Sickbay to be organized similarly to the Enterprise's. He found several standard blankets; he stacked a few to the side and used the rest to cover the body and move it to the other part of the ship. He didn't see any way to clean the large blood spatters, so he used a few of the blankets to cover the mess. It wasn't a perfect solution, but it would work for the interim. While he was searching he located a replicator and unearthed an extremely primitive medical tricorder. He set about getting water to clean and refresh Captain Kirk, while his mind worked on the mysteries of the actual ship.
The ship's controls were programmed in Cardassian, but the evidence regarding the design of the ship suggested Klingon. The controls and amenities were antiquated by at least three centuries. He was a little leery of trusting any of the medical supplies in the cramped quarters. What medical instruments he did find looked more like instruments of torture. Spock attempted to use the replicator to get the captain some water, but noted with a twitch of his lips that it was malfunctioning. A quick search located several rusty containers of water. He cautiously ran the tricorder over the containers, and when no negative readings were forthcoming even more cautiously tasted it. Not fresh, and certainly not the cleanest, but as no microbial or bacteria was detected, better than nothing. He tore one of the blankets into cloth strips and set about cleaning the naked body before him.
The first thing he did was wet a strip and place it over the captain's lips. It was obvious that Kirk was horrendously dehydrated; fluids would have to be reintroduced very slowly. With the other end of the strip, he gently blotted away some of the blood. The unfamiliar medical tricorder was malfunctioning. Spock took comfort (although slight) in the fact that the captain's heartbeat still beat fairly strongly, if somewhat erratically. He slowly dripped more water over and into Kirks mouth. His captain didn't stir or respond.
Spock used another strip of cloth to clean the dried blood off of the captain. He bound up what bones he could so that at least the wounds weren't open to the ship's air, binding and splinting the bones, but didn't dare to more than that without a proper medical readout. Starfleet did extensively train its officers in emergency first-aid, and Spock was pleased to be able to do what he could.
Once Kirk had been cleaned up, more bite marks came into view; - the teeth pattern showed clear incisors with smaller teeth in between- and some still more raw bruising. That was bad, but Spock didn't start to lose control of his emotions until he turned Kirk over on his side in order to clean his back. The shoulder blades were very prominent due to rapid weight loss. The musculature was marred by more bruises, contusions, and teeth marks. These showed a marked lack of control; the small holes in his flesh were ripped rather than pierced.
There was blood, most of it dried and flaking but some still tacky and sticky around Kirk's buttocks and upper thighs.
Spock's hand tightened spastically on Kirk's hip, causing the other man to moan even in his unconsciousness state. The sound of such fear and hopelessness coming from his throat almost caused Spock to flinch away and drop him back to the bed. He stopped himself from hurting the captain any more, and instead put down one of the blankets onto the bed in order to wrap it around Kirk's lower body.
Not only kidnapped. Not only taken from his starship for nearly a fortnight, beaten, held against his will. No, it seemed as though Kirk's captors had done everything in their power to break his body.
Spock feared what it would do to his mind.
An hour later Spock confirmed that Kirk did indeed have a fever. Not surprising, given the number and extent of his injuries. Getting Kirk off this ship had become Spock's focus and, leaving him still unconscious in the sickbay, Spock walked purposefully towards the bridge.
He could not hail the Enterprise until the brief window of non-interference cycled back around. He was partially wary of piloting the vessel in any way, as the Enterprise crew might see that as a sign of aggression and fire upon him. He turned to the controls and saw that it was a moot point anyway; before abandoning the ship, its former owners had attempted to make sure that no one would be able to pilot the ship in any way, shape or form. Spock calculated that based on the amount of damage, antiquated controls, and obvious lack of mental acuity of whoever had done the damage he would be able to fix it… within the hour.
Screams from the sick bay had Spock running before he was even fully conscious of doing so. Deep, ragged, almost inhuman screams gave voice to utter desperation and agony. Had Spock not known for a fact that they were along on the ship, he would never have imagined that a sound like that could come from his captain.
Kirk was huddled in the corner of the sick bay, looking around in horror. Scream after scream seemed to be forcibly pulled from his throat. His broken fingers were unable to curl properly into fists, and they lay cradled over his knees as he tried to pull into himself and away from what he saw.
"Captain." Spock's voice was calm and quiet, betraying none of his shock at seeing the other man in such a state. He took a step closer, and one more; whatever it was that Kirk was seeing, he was not registering his first officer.
Instinct took over, and Spock was reaching out with his fingertips, placing them gently on Kirk's temple, cheekbone and near the pulse point in his neck. He murmured the words quietly and was still unprepared for the chaos into which he was thrown.
Captain, you must cease. You are safe. You are with me. Instead of the darkness he was expecting, Kirk's mind was awhirl with color and sound, images bombarding him one after another until they pulled at him, pulled him in. He was chained and beaten, cruel laughter mocking him with each strike against his flesh. Spock could feel the memory/remembered/reality of each blow to his body. He was on a planet holding a small human child behind him, looking up at a shadowy figure, despair/hunger/disgust….
No, not here. Not again. I can't… can't/can't/can't….
Captain. Jim. Jim. You are safe. You must calm yourself.
There was a sense of recognition, but still fear permeating through everything else. Spock felt disgust curl in his stomach at the idea that Jim could associate him with this sort of fear.
Spock..? The mental image of darkness, black, inky shadows held at bay behind Spock, an impossibly high tower that the nightmares couldn't pass. Spock, somehow more real, more solid, and feelings of safety.
Yes. You must cease before you do irrefutable damage to your body. When you are calm, I can help you further. Again the mental image of all the nightmares, fighting to get free, held beyond Spock, as though he was the lone being responsible for keeping them contained.
Spock prepared to break the meld, only to have Jim's thoughts, his psyche, pull at him as though he were wrapped in strings. Hundreds, millions of thin strings that held Jim's innermost self to his. As he tried to disengage himself the solidity of Jim's thoughts clung to his like a frightened child to its favorite blanket.
No. no. not alone. No… don't leave… can't…
Wordless assurances; a soft disengagement.
Kirk's eye was partially open, tears glistening on his ravaged cheeks. Spock lowered his hand and shook his fingers. There was something... lingering. The only other melds he had initiated had been on Vulcan, strictly supervised by his father. They had been with another full-blooded member of his species, and nothing so raw and emotional had occurred. This sort of barrage of emotion was difficult to disengage from, and Spock slammed his shields into place, protecting his own fragile hold on his rage and anger at who had done this.
Spock helped Kirk… no, Jim … back up onto the bed, giving him some more water. He found it difficult to keep addressing his captain so formally after forging such a poignant mental connection. It seemed somehow wrong.
Jim didn't seem to be able to stop the slowly leaking tears, though he was too dehydrated to actually produce any more intense evidence of emotion. His captain looked numb, huddled miserably in the blanket, unable to hold the vessel of water for himself. Spock assisted him impassively.
Spock made Kirk as comfortable as he could and stretched the blanket over his body once again. His skin seemed more flushed. Small beads of sweat pooled on his forehead, yet he was shivering. This went on for several minutes until the Captain slumped over, once again unconscious.
"Captain, I must get you off of this ship."
Bridge duty was an acquired taste. Hikaru Sulu sat in the Captain's chair, body drawn tensely into a rigid perch as he glanced around the bridge. It wasn't the regularly-assigned Alpha bridge crew. Chekov sat calmly at his station, awaiting orders. Lieutenant Uhura sat with her back slightly to him, back completely rigid. She had such a frown of concentration on her face that Sulu was kind of nervous about interrupting her, lest he get his head bitten off for his troubles. Ensign Kelly sat at the science station, staring off into space. His own replacement, Geoff Mathos, was also tense, watching the orange planet, the bright purples and blues of the electronic interference, and the alien ship on the view screen. Mr. Scott was due back on the bridge any time, having gone to engineering to check on something or other… Sulu wasn't exactly sure what he had said and hadn't wanted to make his incompetence known to the crew.
"Sir. I have an incoming message from Starfleet."
"Ahhh. Okay. I'll, uh... take it here. Thanks, Lieutenant."
There was a small nod of acknowledgement and then Admiral Pike's face filled the viewscreen.
"Admiral." Sulu had the brief thought that maybe the Admiral wouldn't ream him in front of so many witnesses, and straightened in the chair.
"We are still waiting, sir."
The Admiral looked slightly put out. "Was there a question about my orders?"
Orders? Scott hadn't mentioned…. "I'm not sure to what you are referring sir. As to Captain Kirk and Commander Spock, no word from either of them, sir. There is still six hours before we can attempt to search for life signs and beam them back."
"You have new orders, Lieutenant Sulu."
Sulu blinked. New orders? As in… orders not involving saving their Captain and his First Officer?
"You were to rendezvous with the Reliant. You were expected there an hour ago. Acting-captain Scott was informed of this earlier."
Ahhh. Shit. He was going to kill the Scottish bastard.
Sulu hadn't exactly had the opportunity to serve under Pike as a captain for very long, but he was extremely good at reading people. He could clearly see the worry in the other man's eyes, as well as his exasperation at having to relay orders that he knew the crew of the Enterprise wasn't going to like.
"Erm, There was an... engine… thing. He went to go see fix it, sir."
"An 'engine thing?'"
It was the same sarcasm used when he was asked about the parking break. Oh he was so going to be busted back to cadet. "Yes, sir." He noticed Pavel turning in his chair so that his back was to the Admiral, his eyes comically wide as he stared at Sulu. They really had to work on that kid's poker face. He was fairly sure that it wasn't an official Starfleet regulation, but 'cover thy ass of your CO' really needed to be emblazoned somewhere in the manuals.
"Let me guess. These… repairs… are going to take…"
"Approximately six hours, sir."
Pike's lips twitched. "Understood. Pike out."
The screen changed abruptly back to the scene they had been staring at for days.
Sulu met the young man's eyes and forced a smile. He hoped it looked confident and not like he was about to piss himself.
There was a sudden flurry of beeps from Chekov's station and he whirled in his chair. Sulu sat forward and tensed again.
"Sir! The wessel! It's moving!"
Sulu bit his tongue so that he wouldn't snap at the young Ensign. He could bloody well see that, damnit.
The enemy ship was moving on impulse power… towards the Enterprise.
"Yellow alert. Weapons at the ready."
"Lieutenant, can you hail them?"
"Not yet, sir."
"Increase visibility fifty percent."
They all watched as the small ship broke away from orbit and began its path towards them.
"Sir! We are being hailed!"
"On screen." Sulu snapped.
Commander Spock's face filled the viewscreen. He looked unharmed. "Commander Spock!" Sulu had never in his life been so glad to see anyone, ever. One eyebrow rose, disappearing into his hairline his reaction to the relief he heard in Sulu's voice.
"Lieutenant... I have found the captain. Inform the doctor that two will be beaming directly to sickbay. We should be in range in precisely one minute and twenty-two seconds. Engage the tractor beam and bring this ship to cargo bay three."
Spock nodded once, and his image faced out.
"Sulu to McCoy!"
"What?" The doctor's voice was heavy with sleep and none too pleased for the interruption.
"It's Commander Spock, sir. He's found the captain. They are beaming directly into sickbay."
There was a muffled thump and a curse. "It's about fucking time. McCoy out."
Jim had been barely awake when he felt himself being swung up into someone's arms. The simple act, although done with the utmost care and gentleness, caused everything in his body to hurt, and he moaned again, feeling sick to his stomach. He was held against someone very warm, and Kirk found himself straining towards that heat, seeking comfort.
"We will be on the Enterprise shortly, Captain." The words seemed to vibrate under his ear, and Jim belatedly realized that he was being carried through the ship like a bride being carried over the threshold. It should have been unmanning, but he really didn't give a flying fuck. He wanted off this ship.
Jim thought he must have passed out or something, because it seemed like only a moment before Spock was standing on the transporter pad. Jim felt nauseous all at once, and closed his eyes tightly as the incandescent brightness of the transporter beam began to form.
"Jesus Fucking Christ! Bring him over here!"
If Jim had had the energy, he would have smiled at the worry in Bones' voice. There were too many people, too many lights and sounds. He had an absurd urge to make himself into an even smaller target, but tensing up caused something very unpleasant to happen in the vicinity of his ribs, and he cried out in pain.
That one small sound seemed to cause all the flurried activity in the sickbay to completely halt. All Jim could hear was the rapid beat of Spock's heart under his ear. His teeth were clenched as he tried not to vomit in front of everyone. He was so dizzy, so disoriented….
"Okay, Spock. You can put him right here. Gently now. Gently…!"
Jim felt the softness of the biobed under him. The encompassing heat faded, and he felt himself turning towards the other man's body, seeking out the source of that comforting warmth.
There was a sharp pain in his neck, and he opened his eye to see Bones, strong face tightly controlled but for the panic in his eyes, standing over him with a hypo.
\Was he dreaming? Was this just another hallucination? He had seen so many things on the ship, mistakes and wishes from his past parading through his thoughts. Talking, begging, and crying to people who couldn't have been there. Jim became more and more convinced that this was just another dream, another fantasy of being safe. It hurt so much to wake up. Reality had not been his friend, and he could feel the burning of his body, the absolutely desperate longing for water causing him to lose focus, to retreat again back into the vaults of his mind. He didn't trust the softness of the bed he was in, or the sharp feel of one of Bones' hyposprays.
This was just in his head.
Which meant that Spock was… that he had never… the sudden despair washing over him was its own brand of cruelty. Jim was not sure if he ever wanted to wake up again. It just hurt too much.
It was an unforeseen complication. For a Vulcan, meditation was a way to center the katra, the psyche and sense of self. To be unable to achieve the calmness desired was quite disconcerting. Maddening.
Spock knelt stubbornly in his chambers. Incense filled the room, thick enough that he could almost taste it. He counted his heartbeat, his breaths, willing control over his emotions. It infuriated him that this was the second time that he had been driven to such intense meditation. The fact that he was actually infuriated by anything so illogical was also highly … annoying.
His captain would have called him twitchy.
There was a beep as his subspace communicator went off.
"McCoy to Spock. I know you're not on the bridge, damnit. I need you. Sickbay. McCoy out."
Spock could feel his heart rate start to increase, sending his blood flowing more quickly through his veins. He quickly extinguished the incense and rolled his shoulders so that the robe slid off onto the floor. He removed the silk pants and quickly changed into his Starfleet uniform. Being summoned to sickbay was …disquieting. McCoy had been keeping the captain in isolation so that his body could heal. The doctor had questioned Spock about what had happened on the enemy vessel, but had been distracted enough that he didn't notice Spock's uncharacteristic evasiveness.
In the days since beaming back onto the Enterprise Spock had remained in his quarters when not on duty, barely venturing out and ignoring anyone who tried to seek entry to his private domain. To make matters worse, McCoy had also forbidden him from "lurking" in sickbay until the doctor was ready for him to be there.
The wait had been intolerable. He had instead briefed Starfleet on what he had found in the ship, finding himself strangely reticent to actually speak on the exact nature of the captain's injuries. Command asked him to speculate as to why he had been taken, firing questions at him so quickly that Spock had been distinctly uncomfortable at Admiral Pike's lack of control.
Spock had not mentioned the mind meld, or the shocking images he saw there. He hadn't even really taken the time to catalog what he had seen in his captain's mind, uncomfortably aware that in the moment of listening to Jim's screaming he had reacted emotionally to the situation, melding without permission and against seventeen different Starfleet regulations.
The turbolift's efficiency was clearly lacking; it was taking entirely too long to arrive at sickbay. Spock made a mental note to inform Mr. Scott of the inadequacy. The doors eventually swished open, and Spock walked purposefully towards his destination.
"Spock! Damn, man you made it here fast." Obviously, Spock thought. "Well, come on then. You can see him."
Captain Kirk looked strangely small and exceedingly young sleeping in the biobed. The captain's eyes were moving behind his eyelids as he sank into REM sleep. He was dressed in some loose-fitting shift and had the electric blue blankets pulled up to his chest, his hands lying on top of the blankets near his sides. Spock was floored by the strength of the wholly sudden and inappropriate desire he had to reach out and take one of his hands, as though touching him would make him more real. The urge to touch was illogical.
He clasped his hands behind his back, staring down at the Captain. The bruising had faded to shades of yellow and green thanks to Dr. McCoy's efforts. Captain Kirk's fingers and wrists were still swollen, but not to the extent that they had been. Both of his shoulders had the same faded bruises, but Spock could tell at a glance that at least they had been properly aligned.
McCoy jerked his head to the left in a way that indicated he wanted to speak with Spock privately.
Jim made a small sound in his sleep, and Spock found himself clasping his hands even more tightly as he followed Dr. McCoy into his private office. The doctor didn't speak, going instead to a cabinet behind his desk and retrieving a bottle of an amber-colored alcoholic beverage and a glass. He poured out a small amount and tossed it back, sighing as though he had just completed some arduous task. He rested the glass against his forehead for a moment. Spock walked up behind him and seated himself, folding his fingers in front of his face with his elbows resting on his knees. There was a tense silence in the office, broken only by the hum of the ship travelling through space.
"He won't wake up."
The doctor's words, spoken with such a tone of worry and underlying fear caused Spock's own breath to catch. He raised an eyebrow in silent inquiry, needing the moment to compose himself.
"You know the injuries he received. All the broken bones, the internal bleeding, the fever and infection were easily fixed. No worries. The ... tearing… from the sexual assault needed some surgery, but again… no problem." There was no hint of the very human tendency to brag in these statements. Spock understood that McCoy was just stating facts, used to (to use the human vernacular) 'pulling miracles out of hats'. McCoy's hands tightened on the glass.
"It's like he's just not there. He doesn't respond to painful stimulus. His body is fine- well, as fine as can be expected after recuperating from such…" The doctor's voice wavered. ". . . Trauma. But Jim isn't…"
Spock stared for a moment. There seemed to be some sort of blockage in his throat. His voice was deeper than usual when he spoke. "Why did you bring me here to tell me this, doctor? Logically, this could have been communicated via the ship's communications."
The doctor let go of the glass and rubbed his face briskly with the palms of his hands. "I need you to try something. Some of your Vulcan voodoo." The doctor waved his fingers in something that was likely meant to be vaguely mystical in nature, but looked more like a slight muscle spasm.
Spock raised an eyebrow.
"Look, damnit. I know that you guys have become friends in the past year we've been on this damn ship. I just need you to… sort of give him a noodge."
"A… 'Noodge'… sir?"
The doctor's face turned a few shades darker. He stood up so quickly that his chair fell over backwards, crashing onto the floor. He began to wave his hands in a most illogical manner, ranting and muttering under his breath as he paced around his private office. Sufficiently distracted, Spock judged that the doctor wouldn't notice when he slipped out of his office.
Spock was uncomfortable with being in such close proximity to his captain, so he found a chair to pull up to his bedside, judging that this would take some time.
I know you guys have become friends…
Indeed. Friendship was not something that Spock generally cultivated, yet his captain had made a point of spending time with Spock. Meals, countless chess matches, conversations late at night after their shift was over discussing completed missions.
He was not a mind-healer. He was not a human psychologist. Starfleet had severe regulations on any species using any telepathic ability without express consent. Humans were so … particular about keeping their secrets. Indeed, Spock had no wish to be subjected to a closer connection with most of the people he came into daily contact with. It had taken him years of meditation and self-awareness to properly build up the shields necessary to maintain his teaching position at the Academy, surrounded by such illogical, alien emotions on a daily basis.
The irony that he had essentially ignored a lifetime of teaching and tradition to act without thinking, diving into this man's mind to calm him from whatever demon he was remembering was not lost on Spock. Nor was the guilt. Had he caused this condition? Was it possible that he had erred in some way? Vulcans didn't make mistakes when it came to the mental acuity needed within their culture, but as Jim took pains to point out to him, Spock was not wholly Vulcan. . Spock had gone over each moment on the Klingon ship until it had crystallized in his mind. Guilt was not a foreign concept; Spock could acknowledge that he was guilty over many things in his life. Sometimes, when sleep eluded him, he would replay his own follies on the Enterprise, wondering if had he acted differently he could have saved his mother's life, the life of his planet… and now could have somehow prevented this from happening to his friend.
Spock breathed out so hard that the captain's hair fluttered, and his fingers tingled as they reached out. He flexed them once before softly, so very lightly, touching the cool skin.
"My mind to your mind. Your thoughts to my thoughts…"
The colors were muted now. Where once there had been shades and nuances of tone, now the surface of Kirk's mind was eerily calm. Spock felt himself strangely reluctant to explore this version of Kirk's mind. He felt like more like an interloper than he ever had before.
"Hello. Who are you?"
If it could have, Spock's jaw would have dropped open in surprise. He titled his head, staring at the small creature before him. Human. Roughly thirteen years of age. Hair shaved almost painfully thin, the skin of his pink skull showing through in places. The boy's skin was so fragile, the muscles on his body wry and lean.
There was no mistaking the bright, curious blue eyes. Even years later the eyes hadn't changed.
"I am Spock. Do you not know me, captain?"
The child's nose scrunched up in confusion. "Captain? I'm no captain. My name is Jim. And… no. I don't know you. Why are you here? Are you hiding too?"
"I am looking for you, Cap... Jim."
The child's chin rose as his eyes narrowed. His body fairly bristled with aggression. "Why would you be looking for me? Do you work for him? I am NOT going back there! I won't do it!"
Spock's attention was caught by a flicker of a memory, projected over the muted landscape like a slightly out-of-focus holograph. He saw this strange nonchild/child version of Jim tucking an even smaller child into a pallet of blankets. A small, horribly bedraggled stuffed toy was produced and tucked into the pallet as well. Jim rocked back on his heels and made his way to the front of the small cave, where a slightly younger boy obviously stood guard.
"Kev's sick. And hungry. We need to find food. He needs medicines, Jimmy."
Jim's chin tilted up in a way that was jarringly familiar to Spock. It was the same look he got on his face when Spock was telling him that he was not acting in the most logical of manners.
"I know, Tom! Don't you think that I don't know that? Jim looked out into the dark night, up at the stars. "I'll be back. I knowa way. I know how to get some food."
"I don't want you watching that." There was the feeling of a sharp finger poking him in the chest. Spock was surprised to find the faint memory flicker and go out. He focused his attention on the smaller, but no less imperious, Jim in front of him. Spock looked down at him. He was completely out of his element, having absolutely no experience with teenage humans.
"My apologies. I do not know to which 'him' you are referring. I work for... well… for you, actually. Doctor McCoy asked me to come find you."
"Bones?" Another memory, slightly more in-focus this time: McCoy and Jim, both half out of their Starfleet uniforms, kissing passionately against the door of a dorm room.
"Hey!" An injured yelp. "That's private!"
Spock was left reeling. He shook his head sharply, trying to rid himself of the image. Nyota had once used the colloquialism 'wishing to bleach my brain to get rid of that visual' and he suddenly understood exactly what she meant by that statement.
"Ah... I am... sorry."
"What are you, some kind of perv?" He took a step forward. "Wait, are you… blushing?" He looked up at him, reaching out to touch one of Spock's ears delightedly. A completely mischievous look covered the boy's face, the completely inappropriate grin crooking up at the corner of his mouth. Then, another flicker of memory, as though the previous scene had been fast-forwarded. He heard the McCoy in the memory moaning in a way that Spock definitely had no desire to ever hear again as the man in front of him kissed down his body, rubbing his cheek against the hardness encased in the black Academy trousers. Fingers tightened in the light-colored hair as he tugged the younger man up for another openmouthed kiss.
Spock spun around from both the flickering memory and the impish child, whose wide grin now seemed to be taking over most of his face.
"Well, that sets that. No way do you work for Him. I never seen someone blush so hard."
Spock took a moment to breathe, and turned back around, refusing to look at (but certainly able to hear) the memory still flickering out to his left. He could see bodies writhing together out of the corner of his eye. "Whether I am blushing or not is irrelevant. Who is it that you thought that I worked for?"
All traces of amusement vanished from the younger Jim's face. "I don't really like to talk about it. He's a bad man."
Jim took a few steps back, body poised to run. Spock instinctively knew that he could not allow this younger Jim to run away. He held up his hand in entreaty.
"That is understandable. Before you go, might I ask you a question?"
"Boy, you sure do have a funny way of talking. All formal 'n shit." The boy shrugged. "Sure, you can ask. I don't have to answer if I don't want to."
"Indeed. Don't you wish to come back with me? McCoy… your… Bones does need you to come back. He is quite distraught."
The boy looked at him impassively, something flicking in the depths of his blue gaze.
"I don't think that's a good idea. I'm safe here. I've been here before. I like that no one can find me. Well, you. But I don't think you'd hurt me."
"No, Captain…. Jim. I would not hurt you." Spock was becoming increasingly frustrated. He wanted answers. Who was this younger Jim hiding from? Why was he afraid to come back? Without thinking of the consequences, Spock found himself pushing against Kirk's mind, searching for the answers he sought.
Many more flickers of memory, too fragile for Spock to actually understand what he was seeing, flashed over the barren landscape. They were more like memories of out-of-focus holographs, rather than the solid images he had seen earlier. There was a start of surprise, a feeling of betrayal and Spock was pushed out of Kirk's mind hard enough to send him reeling.
Spock snatched his fingers back from Jim's unresponsive face with a gasp.
"What the fuck happened? Why were you there for so long? What?" The barrage of questions let Spock know that McCoy had realized where Spock had indeed gone and was now impatiently awaiting answers. He must have been standing in the doorway, because Spock could hear the heels of his boots clicking quickly on the floor as he walked forward.
Spock was grateful that he had chosen to sit in a chair; otherwise the abrupt push out of the meld would have sent him to the floor.
"Doctor…" Spock's head was still swimming from what basically amounted to being kicked out of Jim's head. One name had solidified from the strange flickers of memory at the end of the meld. He had grasped onto the word, unwilling to let go, understanding instinctively that it was the key to all of this confusion.
"Who… Who is Kodos?"