Epilogue : These Are the Quests...
Six months later
James kicked back in his chair and plucked back a bottle of mead. The Bee and the Barb wasn't exactly the nicest place in all of Skyrim, but it would do in a pinch, and there was no place that felt that more than Riften. Its lazy, destitute, and jaded denizens often resorted to the numbing influence here to forget their troubles.
As for James… he had no complaints. He just needed a drink before another long journey. Being the Dragonborn was thirsty work, that was for sure.
James plunked a few extra coins on the counter for the bartender, Keerava. She smiled and thanked him, probably a little wary because she had seen James and Chekov together earlier… and Chekov simply couldn't stop himself from flirting with any female, scaled or furred, within spitting distance. James didn't care how she took it, just so long as she took the coin and didn't get it taken by the Thieves that lived just under her feet…
Perhaps he would infiltrate that business next. Wouldn't Bones just have a cow?
Well, he could stay up here in the temple of Mara with all those other crazy priests if he wanted to. But he probably wouldn't. He would come right along, of his own choice, and complain the whole time. That was pretty much Bones's mode. Sulu would come, in full-suit armor even though he would get it all mussed and filthy in the sewers. Montgomery had said far too often that he was a Dwarf, not an adventurer, and he'd taken an arrow to the knee oh-way-back-whenever, so he couldn't come, but did like Bones. Except Montgomery didn't complain as much. He just talked a lot.
Mid-swig of mead, enjoying the thought of Sulu wading through waist-deep sewage and Chekov laughing at him, the door banged open and shut, soft boots stomping across the floor until they were standing at the entrance to the main hall of the Bee and Barb, just beyond the stairs. Anyone who had looked to see who it was seemed unimpressed, unconcerned, and went back to their drinks and meals.
"Jim Kirk!" a voice called out accusingly.
A voice somehow familiar that he couldn't quite place. He tensed, suddenly very aware of the sword hanging off his belt and the locations of all the exits. Something was wrong with that voice, though. Actually, everything was wrong with it. The words, the fact that it was even there…
"Do you believe in destiny?"
James immediately spun around in his chair. "I don't know, Spock," he answered, seeing the man standing there in blue mage robes instead of the black-and-gold attire of the Thalmor. Of course, James didn't know why he should be wearing that. He didn't know why he should be here at all. "Should I?"
Spock shrugged a little. "I discovered that, while the Warrior and Lord's paths cross rarely, they walk side-by-side all year long. If you want to believe in destiny, then I suppose you're justified." Spock stood at the counter. "For being so famous, you are a very difficult man to find."
"I've been lots of places," James offered, with a smile. Mostly between Whiterun and Winterhold these days. This trip to Riften was incidental, at Delphine's insistence. Some crazy old man living down in the sewers. Something like that. Long journeys down paths they'd never traveled before. Just how he liked it.
"I am well aware," Spock said. "And you never keep to the main roads, or I might have found you sooner."
"So I like straying from the beaten path," James answered with a shrug. "How did you get back here?"
"The way that I came," Spock answered, explaining, "Once I arrived back in my own time and place, I discovered that I could remember every detail of my time here. I concluded that Spock was misinformed. Time is not a circle. It is actually more like a tree, with branches that—"
"Careful, Spock," James interrupted, laughing. "I'm the Dragonborn. Not a wizard."
"I suppose it is unimportant," Spock said with a shrug.
"Speaking of which, though, I think my little group needs a mage." James paused. "Know a good one?"
"I'd like to submit my candidacy," Spock answered.
"Should you desire, I can provide character references."
"I heard you could kill three bandits with two spells at the same time."
"Shor's bones." The two of them looked up to see Bones standing in the open doorway, an amulet of Mara fall from his hand to the wooden floor.
"Bones." Spock greeted him with a nod.
Bones stood as though he were a statue for a moment before retrieving his amulet and stomping over to them. "What in Oblivion—" he hissed at James.
"Don't look at me," James laughed, holding his hands apart and looking up at Spock. "I can't explain it. So what about destiny, Spock?"
"I suppose it was always in our stars…" Spock pondered, watching Bones warily as he looked him over.
James almost laughed at the whole thing. What was destiny except what they made it? That was what he always wondered. But… there were some things simply meant to be.
"What are you wearing?" Bones demanded, poking at the silky blue fabric on Spock's shoulder.
"Please, this is the only robe I have left. The rest were unfortunately… lost." Spock suddenly became more quiet and somber than usual.
Bones laughed at that. "That is unfortunate." He looked at James, grinning for all the world like he no longer cared about their destination that had so distressed him only a few hours ago. "Tell him your plans, yet?"
"Into the sewers," James explained, thinking of that crazy-Blades-man he still had to find. Spock's sense of direction would probably turn out useful. "You'll come, of course." Not a question. If it were, he already knew the answer.
"I would cite myriad reasons why going into the sewers is a bad idea, but I know that you would simply ignore them," Spock muttered.
"There, you see?" James chuckled. "You're catching on."
"More likely I have become accustomed to your insanity," Spock sighed, looking down at his robe. "I suppose it was time I got another robe. I'm certain the Thalmor would not be unpleased to have me back."
"Nonsense," Bones argued, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with him to show that their mage robes were of similar hue. "Blue looks good on you."
Spock looked at Bones with intense disinterest.
"Maybe I should get one," James joked.
"Better stick to Whiterun-yellow." Bones took a moment to brush off Spock's shoulder of some persistent dirt.
"This conversation has spiraled from inconsequential to insane," Spock complained.
"Our specialty," James pointed out, sliding off his chair. "Let's not waste any more time around here." With that, he tossed a few more golden coins in the direction of Keerava. "Sorry about the commotion."
"Anytime, Dragonborn," she hissed.
"To the sewers?" James asked his companions.
They exchanged glances, each probably internally objecting for separate reasons, but neither willing to voice them. They'd come a long way and had even a longer way to go. Might as well go like he meant to.
As James marched toward the door with as much purpose as he could conjure with Bones following, Spock sighed, ever so slightly smiled. "To boldly go where no person ought to go."
"But, the boldly part…" James pointed out. "Isn't that the most important?"
So that's it, everyone! I hope those of you who read it enjoyed it and a thousand thanks to those who left comments, favorite, or followed. You guys are all the awesome in my book just for giving this strange story a chance! Now the only question is… to sequel or not to sequel?
Okay, but I do actually have ideas for, you know, things like torpedoes and glass walls and poison. A Search for Kirk might be necessary.