A/N: Well here it is. The long awaited chapter. I apologise for the delay, I've had two weeks of exams. The next two chapters + epilogue should be posted within days of each others :)
Thank you all for the overwhelming amount of reviews :) They keep my muse happy! Also thank you for all your votes regarding the epilogue, I'm still making up my mind so any further ideas are welcome :)
"Statues update Spock!" Jim announced urgently as a means of a greeting.
"The Klingons have attempted to initiate communication, but we waited for your arrival captain."
"Alright, put them through." The large screen glitches and an image came up of a heavy set, scowling Klingon.
"This is Jim Kirk, Captain of the S.S Enterprise speaking. I…" but he was interrupted gruffly by the other captain. Uhura immediately tuned in and began to type a translation to subtitle the speech.
"S.S Enterprise you have five minutes to beam your captain aboard our ship for negotiation purposes. Should you choose not to comply with our demands we will destroy your ship." As if to prove he was indeed quite serious, the Klingon made a gesture with his right arm and barked something to someone out of sight. The next moment an alarm when off from Chekov's computer
"Kaptin, ze shields are dovn!"exclaimed Chekov and began to type something on his computer, fingers flying over the keyboard at remarkable speed. Finally he spun around to face Jim. "I cannot override the blockage sir, zey are uzing an unidentified syztem to paralyze our defense shields."
Jim indicated for Chekov to block audio transmission between the two ships, since ending the call without coming to an agreement might only provoke the Klingon's to attack. Once Pavel gave the all clear, Uhura exclaimed, "Captain without shields we are virtually defenseless against an attack, the weapons on a Bird-of-prey that size would be exponential!"
"Spock," Jim urged his FO.
"I have to agree with Lt. Uhura Captain. The weapons on that ship appear to be remarkably advanced for a Klingon vessel." Spock studied his screen for a long moment. "It is my opinion, having take into consideration our obvious weakness and the repelling power of their shields, if we were to retaliate fire, they stand to have a probable 91.3% chance of destroying our ship before we destroy theirs."
Jim nodded and looked grimly at his despondent crew. He turned back to the screen and blankly evaluated the smirking Klingon captain. There really was only one obvious choice of action, and it wasn't like it was his first time sacrificing himself for his crew.
"I'm going aboard," said Jim and turned to give his FO a pointed look. "If I do not return within twenty-four hours I order you to travel to the nearest Starfleet base and report my abduction. If the Klingon's weaponries their phasers, I order you to leave." He paused and let his eyes drop marginally to glare at Spock's chest. "Is that understood Commander Spock."
"Yes Captain," Spock said, voice characteristically emotionless but his eyes were narrowed betraying his unaffected façade.
"Good, Chekov reconnect audio output." Jim spun around to face navigation. Pavel clicked a few keys on his board.
"Audio output reconnected, Kaptin."
"I have decided to comply with your request Captain." Jim said and heard in the background the tell-tale growling that indicated rapid translation. The Captain nodded, his lips stretching into a menacing grin. The next moment Jim felt dizzy and disoriented. He tried to stand but began to tumble from his seat. Just before his face could make impact with the hard ground, Jim blacked out. Next moment he opened his eyes to come face to face with an ugly sneer. He looked up to meet feral yellow eyes of the Klingon Captain. The behemoth growled out a string of foreign dialect to a couple of his crewmembers standing behind him. A smaller Klingon man standing to the right of the Captain began to sketchily translate for Jim's benefit.
"The Captain will have information on Starfleet's future course of action. He will have human tortured to maximize the amount and value of provided information."
"Wait, I don't know anything about Star fleet plans. Only the admirals have access to that kind of information!" Jim exclaimed the last part, when a couple of Klingon guards lifted him by his shoulders and began to lead him from the room. The Captain appeared angry at the translation and spat something vehemently at Kirk, saliva shooting from his mouth and spitting on Jim's cheek.
"The Captain say human lies are best cured with pain of flesh," growled the translator with a malicious smirk. Jim tried to protest but the two guards jerked him hard by the shoulders and shoved him through the doorway and down the hall.
Khan awoke in the medical bay, strapped to the bed and with an odd sensation of having his mouth sealed with dental concrete. He tried to open his lips but the skin felt stuck firmly, not letting him so much as a break a gap in between his lips. Attempting to gather as much saliva as he could on the tip of his lethargic, swollen tongue, Khan traced the sealed lips with the moist muscle in hopes of using what little solvent he had to break through the adhesive. Just when he thought he might scream his mouth free in frustration, Khan heard the sound of footsteps approaching his bed.
"You're awake," said the doctor, matter-of-factly, "well isn't that a prize." But his voice lacked the characteristic sarcasm. Khan heard a shuffling next to his bed but his peripheral vision didn't extend far enough to see what the CMO was doing. His head having been strapped down with the rest of his body.
"This," Bones suddenly reappeared in Khan's line of vision, brandishing a small roll of moist cotton wool "is the answer to your immediate problem." He sighed and began dabbing gently against Khan's lips. "If only everything was that simple." As soon as Khans' lips came apart, he tried to speak; but all that made it out of his mouth was a serious of unintelligible croaking.
"Don't bother your tongue is still swollen due to the virus. So just listen for now." Bones took a seat on the nearby medical bed and lowered his eyebrows in prelude gravity of what he was preparing himself to reveal.
"I diagnosed a foreign biotic chemical in your system. Its immediate effects on your body are paralysis and uncontrollable spasms. That's why we had to strap you down so you wouldn't inadvertently dislocate a shoulder or snap your neck during one of your fits." Bones gestures vaguely with one hand at Khan's immobile form, before resignedly running the palm over his face. "Now the effects are more dangerous, the virus has began to attack your internal organs with similar effect. So far we have recorded your heart going into uncontrollable arrhythmia before slowing to an unnatural rate that will kill an average person. Your lungs have been seized with paralysis on more than one occasion during the past ten hours of your medially induced comma." Bones paused to let loose another heavy sigh. He got of the bed to tinker absentmindedly with the dialyses machine. "And I'm not even going to tell you about the kidneys."
Bones approached Khan's bedside with a small cup of ice chips and placed a small teaspoon on his tongue. Khan tried to express his gratitude through facial expression but Bones wasn't looking at him but somewhere over his head, his face set in stony contemplation.
"We don't know much," he continued, "but what we do know is that if we don't find a way to isolate the virus in-between its rapid stages of mutation, your heart well eventually give out and you will die." Bones rose from the bed and made his way to the front door, turning down the lights in the room so as to prompt the other man to sleep, he spoke without turning. "I promised Jim, I would do my best to save your life; but I'm starting to believe my best might not be enough. I'm sorry," and he was gone.
Khan lay awake for two hours, contemplating the doctor's words in the silence of the dark room. If he inferred correctly, Jim's urgency that the doctor find a way to cure Khan meant that somewhere deep in his heart Jim still cared for him, even after that unfortunate loss of control. He needed to see him in order to validate this theory. Khan knew that as soon as he met Jim's eyes he will be sure to know; after all the captain has always been like an open book to Khan's superior behavioral analysis. Strangely news of his return to consciousness has not prompted the Captain to come and see him. Khan had been forcing himself to stay awake just with that in mind, waiting for that inevitable display of concern. Still two hours passed and Jim had not deemed in necessary to check on him. This made a stage sensation materialize in Khan's chest. It was not anger per se, nor was in the unmistakable heaviness of failure. No this sensation was new to him, it made the very thought of Jim seem painful and agitated him restlessly. He couldn't place a name on this emotion, but had he the human adaptively to emotional responses, would have considered it something akin to sadness and regret. But he wasn't human, and this burning hollowness frustrated him beyond reason. Khan blinked the itchiness out of his prickling eyes and continued to stare blankly at the ceiling.
The repetitive clicking of heels on the metal floor, alerted him to the approach of a female nurse. He heard the swish of the door sliding open and followed the clicking until it stopped at the side of his bed.
"Captain," said nurse Kutta, and it didn't take a moment for Khan to place the voice. "I've come to check your heart monitor. I will have to touch you inorder to do so, I hope this does not cause you any discomfort." She quickly unstrapped his arm and lifted his wrist. Professional as always she quickly checked the heart monitor attached to him like a wristwatch. Elsa replaced her captain's arms on the side of the bed when Khan unexpectedly grabbed hold of her wrist and pulled her down. She remained composed as ever and watched him passively, though Khan noted that her alleviated heart rate gave away her distress. He released her hand and made typing motion, instructing her to give him a pad. Elsa quickly extracted one from a nearby draw and placed it underneath her captain's hand. Khan began typing immediately, having memorized the location of all the keys to type blindly with confidence. Elsa watched curiously, until Khan paused and indicated for her to take the pad from him.
'Where is Captain Kirk?' she read to herself
"He has boarded a hostile Klingon vessel in hope of negotiating a peaceful resolution," Elsa replied.
Khan bolted in his restraints and was promptly shot down into the mattress. Elsa jumped at her captains' uncharacteristically violent response. In all the years she's known him, she never witnessed such a vehement response in him; not even during their final capture and cryogenic imprisonment. Khan made a violent gesture for the pad and Elsa quickly slipped it back under his hand. Typing with unmasked urgency, Khan all but pushed the pad of the bed to get it to Elsa. Picking it up, she quickly read the message.
'As your captain I order you to release me. I must go after captain Kirk and retrieve him from the Klingons before they kill him and destroy the ship.'
"No sir, I can't!" Elsa exclaimed in an uncharacteristically panicked fashion. "We haven't isolated the virus, hence no course of treatment has been made clear at this point. If you engage in combat or for that matter in any exercise in your current state your heart rate will rise over doctor McCoy's estimated threshold and you will suffer cardiac arrest."
Khan growled and gestured for her to release him.
"You will die Khan!" she exclaimed and began to back away from the bed, just as she found the nerve to bolt from the room and her glaring superior, Khan once more gesture for the pad in her hands. Hesitating a long moment, Elsa forced herself to take a deep breath and once more approached her captain, slipping the pad back into place. Khan typed for what felt like hours to the spooked nurse, but must have been less than a minute. He shoved the pad of the bed and she rushed forward to capture it a second before it hit the ground. Khan darted out his hand and grabbed a hold of her coat sleeve, pulling her down as a sign for her to take a sit beside him on the bed. She did so cautiously and studied the writing on the pad.
'I understand this is difficult, but I implore you to listen to me Elsa. I need to get to the captain before it is too late. You are just as well aware as I am of the Klingon's single-mindedness for the destruction of humankind. If the captain is aboard that ship as you say, it is only a matter of time before they kill him. After they undoubtedly torture him for hours, they will send us his carcass and blow up this ship. All of our people will die along with the human crew. I know you cannot stand to fall under the burden of this knowledge. I ask as your captain and more importantly as your guardian to trust me. Please release me from these binds and cover my escape long enough for me to reach engineering.'
Elsa nodded and dropped the pad on the nearby bed. Quickly she typed something on his medi-bed monitor and the restraints around him slid free. Helping her captain to sit up in bed, she rotated his body until his feet hung of the side and administered a hypo to his neck.
"That was a miniscule dose of adrenaline, not enough to trigger your heart rate but enough to empower your body to function. This," she administered another hypo, this one to his upper-arm, "is going to relax your muscles and prevent your arms and legs from going into spasms. This" she indicated the wristband that displayed a glowing red screen with his heart rate, "is a heart rate monitor. If your heart rate reaches 160 bmp, you will suffer cardiac arrest." She stepped away and watched as her captain rose from the bed and took a couple of hesitant steps forward; easing into a flowing gait by the time he reached the entrance. He turned and gave his ward a gentle smile, gesturing with one hand for her to come forward and pointing to the pad. Elsa grabbed the pad before she approached him and handed over the small device. Khan typed quickly and handed it back to her before patting her, somewhat awkwardly on the back. He released the front door and walked out, Elsa watching him disappear from view. Only after he was long gone did she take a moment to study the writing on the pad.
'Thank you,' than a few lines down, she read, 'I couldn't be more proud to be your godfather.'
Khan had barely made it to engineering when an intercom went of announcing his absence from the hospital wing, and for anyone who've seen him to report immediately to medical bay. Luckily for him Scotty was just exiting the bathroom, whistling a merry ditty on his way out. Khan ambushed him around the corner and pressed him hard against the wall, with one hand firmly planted over the wide-eyed redhead's mouth.
"I need your help," Khan stated plainly. He slid his hand down just enough to let the other man speak.
"What? Why?... What?" exclaimed the panicked Scotsman. Khan refrained from rolling his eyes.
"Beam me aboard the Klingon vessel."
"Why?!" exclaimed the confused man.
"Because," Khan tried to sound patient, but it proved exceedingly difficult when the redhead insisted on acting so obtuse. "I have to retrieve the captain before it's to late, now do it!" He shook the smaller man for emphasis. Scotty stared at him, like a rabbit caught by a flashlight.
"You know I can't do that mate," he finally spoke slowly "without Spock's approval."
"Commander Spock won't approve because Jim has ordered him not to retrieve him. He wants to sacrifice himself, again, for this ship; but I can save him,"he implored.
Scotty seemed to think on this a moment before shrugging loose from Khan's hold on his shoulders and diving under his arm to step free. Khan turned to face him and Scotty looked both ways before beckoning him over with one hand.
"Alright," he stage whispered, "I'll help ya. But only cause I don' think this crew can handle loosing the Captain, second time 'round." They reached a locker and Scotty quickly typed in the excess code. The door popped free and the redhead extracted a phaser gun and handed it over to Khan. "Here, I 'ave a feelin' you'll need it, mate."
Guiding Khan through the less busy sections of the room, and covering him whenever passers by came across them, the two men finally reached the teleportation space.
"Alright, good luck then," Scotty said once Khan was standing in the right spot. Khan felt himself going weightless then everything went black.