Twenty-four Hundred

Disclaimer: I do not own and do not profit—certainly not from Star Trek, and not from much else, either.

Chapter One: Kirk, 1827

"A written message coming in for you, captain."

Nyota Uhura looks over her shoulder at Jim Kirk, her hand poised above a button on her communications console. With a nod, Kirk toggles on the PADD built into the armrest of his chair.

"I'll take it here," he says, admiring, as he often does, Uhura's practiced efficiency. The message queues up immediately.

It's a note from Sam, now in his first year as the lead botanical researcher on Deneva. Like most letters from his brother, this one is a mixture of mundane details—we catalogued twelve new fern species this week—and the surprising—This time I think Mom's left Frank for good. Since Kirk's promotion, he and Sam have written to each other more frequently. Nothing like a brush with death to make you appreciate family, Kirk told him the last time he saw him, a couple of months ago on Earth, right before the Enterprise left on what has turned out to be an extended shakedown cruise.

"From my brother," Kirk says to no one in particular. From his place at the helm, Hikaru Sulu says, "Anything else about that conifer forest? Did the trees turn out to be as old as he suspected?"

Glancing quickly through the rest of Sam's note, Kirk says, "He doesn't mention them. This week he's excited about ferns, apparently. His team has discovered some new ones."

Kirk watches Sulu's eyes light up.

"I'd love to see the specs," the helmsman says, and Kirk grins.

"I'll tell him—"

A sudden lurch nearly throws him from his chair. He sees Sulu grabbing the edge of the console and then, as the ship steadies, sliding his fingers across his control panel.

"Report!"

"We've been hit by a shock wave of some sort!" Sulu says, pressing frantically through several computer readouts. "I can't pinpoint the origin!"

To Sulu's right at the navigator console, ensign Pavel Chekov says, "I'm setting up a particle trace."

"Captain," Uhura calls, "minor damage reported throughout the ship. Ambassador Sarek is on his way to the bridge now."

Almost at once the doors open and Sarek walks in. Suppressing a prickle of irritation, Kirk turns to the crew member at the science station, a young blonde woman named MacInroy. Spock is so rarely absent from the bridge that seeing Lt. MacInroy in his seat is a bit startling.

"Anything?" Kirk asks, and Lt. MacInroy hesitates for a moment before shaking her head and saying, "No, captain. Just that the wave that passed through us also went through the planet."

"There are injuries there."

This from Sarek, who is suddenly at Kirk's elbow. Kirk knows better than to argue or to question how he could know this. Spock told him once in passing that his father's skill as a diplomat has been hard won, that his ability to compromise—or to bring warring parties to the bargaining table—is actually hampered by his relentless logic.

"My mother was the more sensible parent," Spock had said, not without a note of wistfulness in his voice. "My father has trouble...bending."

A Vulcan trait? Lately Kirk has come to think so. The Enterprise has been parked in orbit above New Vulcan for less than twelve hours and already he's fielded numerous queries from the High Command. Now Ambassador Sarek has been sent aboard—a liaison, according to the Elders, but Kirk can't help but feel he is being watched somehow, or reprimanded for not attending to the colonists fast enough.

Though what more he could do at the moment Kirk isn't sure. Spock and McCoy and several science and medical crew are on the surface, meeting with the Elders, touring the facilities being established.

"Any word from our away team?" he asks, and Uhura presses the transceiver in her ear and says, "The shock wave has knocked our sensors out of alignment. Engineering reports the signal should be reset shortly."

"Keptin," Chekov says, swiveling around in his seat and meeting Kirk's eye, "this is impossible."

"What's impossible?"

"If my calculations are correct, the wave originated more than ten parsecs away. I can't follow the particle trace any further than that."

"Then you must be in error," Sarek says, and Kirk feels another wave of irritation, this time because Spock is not here to help sort through what is happening. Although they haven't been serving together long, Kirk has already come to rely on Spock—not just as a sounding board, but as someone who can keep multiple threads of a problem in mind before weaving together a reasonable explanation.

Banging his fist on the comm button on his chair, Kirk calls to engineering.

"Scotty, I need those sensor arrays up and running already."

"Testing them now, Captain. And the transporter's back online."

Without having to say a word, Kirk glances over at Uhura and she says, "Enterprise to Commander Spock. Report, please."

The screech of static fills the air and Kirk resists the temptation to cover his ears.

"Try again, lieutenant."

"Enterprise to—"

"—need assistance. Enterprise, respond."

"Bones? Where's Spock? Uhura, boost that signal!"

For the first time since the wave hit, Kirk feels his stomach knotting up.

There are injuries there.

"Dr. McCoy. Can you hear me?"

"Jim, you gotta send someone down now. We're in the medical facility—near the research labs. Some of the walls have collapsed. The power is out, but I can see some people who are hurt. I don't know where Chapel is. She was right here before the quake. The dust is so thick it's hard to breathe-"

"Where's Spock?" Kirk says with a growing sense of alarm. "Is he there with you?"

"The wall," McCoy says hoarsely. "He was caught when it fell. I can't read any life signs under it."

Without looking, Kirk feels Uhura react.

"No!" she says. "He's not dead!"

"Security!" Kirk says, mashing the comm button on his chair. "Locate the research labs at the Vulcan medical center and beam a rescue squad to those coordinates."

Kirk doesn't waste time telling the security chief how to provision the rescue squad. Since before they launched, security has been prepared to respond to almost any situation, any type of emergency, and with the newest and best equipment—an expense Starfleet balked at initially until Admiral Pike intervened, saying he wouldn't sanction sending any more Academy graduates into space unprepared to deal with the worst.

"You will be too late," Sarek says, and Kirk looks into the Vulcan ambassador's dark eyes and knows that if Spock isn't already dead, he will be soon.

"Lieutenant," Kirk says, motioning to Uhura, "do you have a lock on Commander Spock's communicator?"

Uhura's face is a map of grief and sorrow but she answers right away, her voice strong.

"Yes, sir. And Dr. McCoy's as well. I can't identify anyone else's signal."

"Scotty!"

"Aye, Captain, we just sent the rescue team down."

"Uhura's sending you the coordinates for Dr. McCoy and Commander Spock. Beam them aboard now!"

"The transporter coils need a minute to recharge—"

"Beam them up now!"

Scotty doesn't stop to close the connection and Kirk listens to the familiar whine of the transporter start-up sequence.

"Medical team to the transporter room," Kirk hears Uhura say into the intercom.

Her voice is surprisingly steady—and Kirk turns and nods at her initiative.

"Go," he says to her. "Hannity, take communications."

Uhura darts him a grateful look and steps toward the door, followed by Sarek.

"Sulu, take the conn," Kirk says, standing up and heading down the corridor.

As he rounds the entrance to the transporter room, another shudder rocks the ship—not nearly as hard as the first wave, but hard enough to set off the klaxon. Kirk palms the wall intercom.

"Sulu, what the hell is knocking us around?"

"The same sort of shock wave as before," Sulu says, but Kirk hears Chekov pipe up.

"Not a wave but a beam. From farther than ten parsecs away. This one also hit the planet."

Behind him the transporter begins the pulsing noise that precedes particle redistribution and Kirk moves beside Uhura and Sarek at the edge of the pad.

Leaning over the controls, Scotty doesn't look up.

Not a good sign.

The whine seems higher pitched, louder, less rhythmic than usual. Kirk rubs his palms together and is surprised that they are sweaty.

On the pad he sees two figures coalescing, one standing, the other prone. A clatter at the entrance is the medical team getting in place.

Hold on, Kirk thinks, watching the figures slowly becoming more solid.

The ground beneath his feet buckles enough to send him reeling backward. Another wave—or beam?

The lights in the transporter room flicker twice.

"Scotty!" Kirk says as the swirling images on the transporter pad dim and fade into nothingness.

"I…I've lost them," Scotty says, looking up. "They're gone."

A/N: We're off and running!

The ancient Greek dramatists were on to something—one of their "rules" about plays was that all the action had to take place within a day. I've never seen the TV series "24," but I understand that the premise was the same—that all of the action took place within 24 hours, and each episode covered one hour of that day. This story won't be 24 chapters long, but it will cover a single day in the life of the Enterprise.

So—this is an experiment that could end up being an epic failure, but nothing ventured, nothing gained. Or so I've heard.

Thanks to everyone who reads and reviews! And thanks to StarTrekFanWriter who continues to be so supportive.