Jim and Spock trekked for an hour through the harsh conditions of Delta Vega. When they arrived at the Starfleet outpost, Jim struggled for breath. She looked at the older Vulcan beside her, standing with no visible signs of any physical exertion. Jim groaned.
The door to the outpost opened to a long tiled hallway. It was dark, lit by failing fluorescents on the ceiling. Jim heard tools slamming from the end of the hallway. She glanced up at Spock and called out. A voice yelled something unintelligible in response and she could hear footsteps. A small form appeared and ran down the hallway too them. When the being came into focus, Jim did not recognize the species. A small alien, about a meter tall, with grey scaley skin and metallic eyestalks gestured for the pair to follow him…her? Jim wasn't exactly sure.
The alien led Jim and Spock past several machines and past a derelict shuttle towards a desk where a lone man slept. The creature tapped the man on the shoulder. The man woke up and removed his hat from his face. "What?!" He looked from the creature to the visitors and sat up. "Do you realize how unacceptable this is?" Jim noted his Scottish brogue.
Spock's eyes lit up (as much as they could) with recognition. "Fascinating."
The man rolled his eyes. "Look, I'm sure it's not your fault, and I know you're just doing your jobs, but could you not come a wee bit sooner?! Six months I've been living on nothing but Starfleet protein nibs and the promise of a real food. Six months!" He picked up a rations packet and waved it at them. "It's pretty clear what's going on here. Punishment! Ongoing! For something that was clearly an accident."
Spock just looked at the officer. "You are Montgomery Scott." Kirk looked at him in confusion.
"Aye, yes that's me. You're in the right place…unless there are any other hard-working and equally starved Starfleet officers around."
The small alien beside him grunted, "Me."
Scott scoffed and turned towards him. "Keenser, shut up! You eat nothing. You could eat like a bean and you're done." He turned back to Jim and Spock. "I'm talking about food, real food. So. Thank you. Where is it?"
"You are in fact the Mr. Scott who postulated the theory of trans-warp beaming," Spock said, his voice still holding a trace of disbelief.
"Yes! That's what I'm talking about! How'd you think I wound up here? Got into a little debate with my instructor on the issue of relativistic physics as they pertain to subspace travel. He seemed to think the range of transporting a grapefruit was limited to a few hundred miles. I told him I could not only beam it from one planet to the adjacent planet in the same system- which is easy, by the way- but I could also do it with a lifeform." He took a sip of his coffee. "So I tested it on Admiral Archer's prize beagle."
Jim looked at him in confusion. "I know that dog. What happened to it?"
"I'll tell you when it reappears. I feel guilty about that," he said sheepishly.
Spock took Scott aside. "What if I told you that your trans-warp theory was correct? That it was indeed possible to beam onto a ship that is travelling at warp speed?"
Scott let out a hardy laugh. "If there was such an equation, I'd have heard about it."
"The reason you haven't heard of it, Mr. Scott, is because you haven't discovered it yet."
The room fell silent. Scott's jaw opened and closed multiple times, trying to find something to say in response to that. Jim's brain was still trying to recover from all the events of the day.
Scott shook his head slowly. "You're from the future, are you? Brilliant. Do they still have sandwiches there?" Jim laughed at this.
Spock convinced Scott to let him illustrate his equation. The only working transporter was located on the derelict shuttle they saw earlier. Scotty banged the side with a wrench. "She's a wee bit dodgy. Shield emitters are totally banjaxed…along with a few other things."
Inside, Spock headed straight for a computer and typed on the keys for a moment. Scott came and watched over his shoulder. Spock stepped aside to allow the other man a better look at the screen. "Your equation for achieving trans-warp beaming."
Scott's face went from dumbfounded to awe to delight. "Imagine that!" he exclaimed softly. "Never occurred to me to think of space as the thing that's moving."
Spock moved towards the transporter pad. "Extrapolating the Enterprise's course-"
"The Enterprise? Had her maiden voyage already? She's one endowed lady. I'd love to get my hands on her ample nacelles, if you'll pardon the engineering parlance," Scott added, with a sheepish look at Jim. She waved him off.
"Now's your chance, Mr. Scott."
Scotty shook his head. "Look, even if I believed you, where you're from, what you've done (which I don't, by the way), we're still taking about slingshotting aboard while she's going faster than light. Without a proper receiving pad. That's like trying to hit a bullet with a smaller bullet whilst wearing a blindfold. On a horse!"
Spock ignored the man, plotting coordinates into the shuttle's computer. Jim walked up behind him and put her hand on his shoulder. "You're coming with us, right?"
"No, Jim. My destiny lies along a different path."
"But- he won't believe me! Only you can explain-"
Spock interrupted firmly. "Under no circumstances can he be made aware of my existence. You must promise me this."
Jim sputtered. "You're telling me that I can't tell you… that I'm following your own orders? Why not? What happens?"
"Trust me. Above all. Jim, this is the one rule you cannot break. To stop Nero, you alone must take command of your ship."
"How?" Jim scoffed. "Over your dead body?"
For once, Jim could see a small sense of humor in the Vulcan. "Preferably not. There is, however, Starfleet Regulation 619. 619 states that any commanding officer who is emotionally compromised by the mission at hand must resign said command."
Jim looked confused. "So I need to emotionally compromise you…guys?"
"Jim. I just lost my planet. I can tell you, I am emotionally compromised."
Scott moved past them and stood on the pad. "Aye then. Live of die, lassie, let's get this over with." He gently removed Keenser from his side. "No, you cannot come with me."
Jim moved to the pad and turned to look at Spock. "You know changing history? That's cheating."
"A trick I learned from an old friend."
"I still have questions for you."
Spock's eyes softened slightly. "Another time, my old friend." He raised his hand in a Vulcan salute. "Live long and prosper."
When Jim's eyes opened, she was in the engineering deck of the Enterprise. A grin spread across her face. They did it! There was no one around. She looked to her left. There was no one there. "Mr. Scott!" Her grin slipped from her face. "MR. SCOTT!"
Banging behind her caught her attention. Oh no. " , CAN YOU HEAR ME!" She followed the banging through to a clear tube. Mr. Scott had been accidentally beamed into the water turbine tubes. She could hear him calling her name, muffled by the water. Scott was swept quickly through the tube, and Jim ran after him. She threw off her coat to give her free use of her limbs.
"Hold on, Mr. Scott!" She followed the tube with her eyes and saw a release valve. Jim ran to the control board and hacked into the controls. A second later Mr. Scott fell from the valve onto the floor of Engineering. Jim rushed over to him. "Mr. Scott, are you all right?"
Scott spit a mouthful of water on the floor and coughed. "My head's buzzing and I'm soaked, but otherwise I'm fine." Jim helped him to stand. They hurried towards the doors of the section, running up and down stairs.
It wasn't long before they were surrounded by security. Jim and Mr. Scott were escorted to the Bridge before Acting Captain Spock.
"Who are you?" he addressed Scott.
Jim spoke before Scott could. "He's with me."
Spock turned to Jim. "We are travelling at warp speed. How did you manage to beam aboard this ship?"
"You're the genius. You figure it out."
"As Acting Captain of this vessel, I order you to answer the question."
"Well, I'm not telling, Acting Captain," Jim sneered. She could see that he was somewhat taken aback by that. "What, now that doesn't frustrate you, does it? My lack of cooperation? That doesn't make you angry."
Spock returned to Scott. "Are you a member of Starfleet?"
Scott looked at Jim before answering. "Yes. Can I- can I get a towel?"
"Under penalty of court martial, I order you to explain to me how you beamed ab-"
Jim again spoke before Scott could. "Don't answer him."
"You will answer me." Jim could see she was beginning to get under Spock's skin.
Scott looked back and forth between the power struggle. "I'd rather not take sides."
"What is it with you Spock? Huh? Your planet was just destroyed. Your mother murdered… and you're not even upset?" Jim cut straight for the quick.
Spock spoke very quietly. "If you are presuming that these experiences interfere in any way with my abilities to command this ship, you are mistaken."
Jim went in close. "And yet, you were the one who said fear was necessary for command. I mean, did you see their ship? Did you see what they did?"
"Yes, of course I did."
"So are you afraid or aren't you?"
"I will not allow you to lecture me on the merits of emotion."
"Then why don't you stop me?"
Spock tensed. "Step away from me, Cadet Kirk."
Jim stepped even closer. She looked over Spock's shoulder and met McCoy's eyes. They urged her not to stop whatever it was she was doing. Jim forced herself to break contact. She had to do this. "What is it like not to feel? Anger. Or heartbreak. Or the need to stop at nothing to avenge the death of the woman who gave birth to you." She noted Spock lean backwards slightly. "You must not feel anything! It must not even compute for you!" And with her final statement, she hated herself more than ever before. Jim knew the pain of losing a parent. "You never loved her!"
With a roar, Spock launched himself at her, punching her in the face. The sheer force was enough to throw Jim across the bridge. Spock followed, grabbing her throat and lifting her onto the helm. Jim fought back, hitting enough spots of weakness on both Vulcans and human males, but Spock's fury held him up. He threw wild punches in her direction. She wriggled beneath his grasp enough to miss a few, but the hand gripping her throat squeezed tighter and tighter. A male voice, Spock's father, yelled as black spots dotted Jim's vision.
At the sound of his father's voice, Spock stilled instantly. His fist, raised in another punch, released itself and fell to his side and the hand around Jim's throat loosened its grip. Jim gasped for air and clutched at her throat. Spock turned to look at his father, a look of desperation and then resign floating over his features. He walked to McCoy.
"Doctor, I am no longer fit for duty. I hereby relinquish my command on the grounds that I have been emotionally compromised. Please note the time and date in the ship's log." He continued past the doctor and exited the bridge to a stunned quiet. No one moved.
Scott spoke up in the background, still dripping wet from his unexpected bath, "I like this ship…it's exciting."
Bones turned to face Jim. His eyes were filled with disappointment. He had never known her to be that cruel. "Congratulations, Jim," he said with traces of anger in his voice. "Now we've got no Captain and no goddamn first officer to replace him."
Jim got up from the helm, still clutching her throat. "Yeah we do," she croaked.
Bones looked around in confusion. Sulu stood and pointed out that Pike had made Kirk the first officer before he left. Bones was stunned. "You gotta be kidding me."
"Thanks for the support," Jim said as she sat in the Captain's chair. She looked around, noting many shocked and unhappy faces. She hit the button for shipwide transmissions. "Attention crew of the Enterprise. This is James Kirk. Mr. Spock has resigned commission and advanced me to Acting Captain. I know you were all expecting to regroup with the fleet, but I've ordered a pursuit course of the enemy ship to Earth. I want all departments at battle stations and ready in ten minutes." She paused, looking at Bones. "Either we're going down, or they are. Kirk out." She hit the button, ending the transmission.
Half an hour later, after Jim was forced to sit through a rough checkup with McCoy, the bridge crew, minus Spock, stood discussing their possible options. Kirk was adamant that they were unnoticed in approaching or boarding Nero's massive ship.
Chekov interrupted nervously. "Captain Kirk?" At Jim's go ahead, he launched into a theory of how to sneak up on the Romulans. "If Mr. Scott can drop us out of warp behind one of Saturn's moons, say Titan, the magnetic distortion from the planet's rings will make us invisible to Nero's sensors. From there, as long as the drill is not activated, we can beam aboard the enemy ship."
Mr. Scott came around from behind Jim. "Aye, that might work." He rubbed a towel over his head.
Bones shook his head. "Wait a minute, kid, how old are you?"
Chekov puffed out his chest proudly. "Seventeen sir."
"Oh good, Jim, he's seventeen," McCoy muttered.
The door to the turbolift opened and Spock entered the bridge. "Doctor, Mr. Chekov is correct. I can confirm his telemetry. If Mr. Sulu is able to maneuver us into position, I can beam aboard Nero's ship, steal the black hole device, and (if possible) retrieve Captain Pike."
"I won't allow you to do that, Mr. Spock." Jim found it hard to meet his eyes.
"Romulans and Vulcans share a common ancestry. Our cultural similarities will make it easier for me to access their ship's computer to locate the device." He met Jim's eyes. "Also, my mother was human. Which makes Earth the only home I have left."
Jim smiled slightly. "Then I'm coming with you."
"I would cite regulation," Spock said, finally reminding her of the old Spock, "but I know you will simply ignore it."
Jim grinned openly and slapped Spock on the shoulder. "See? We are getting to know each other."
The Enterprise stopped behind Titan as smoothly as planned. Sulu called down to Scott in the transporter room, who relayed the information to Kirk and Spock. Jim spoke over the line to Sulu. "Whatever happens, Mr. Sulu, if you feel you have a tactical advantage, fire on that ship. Even if we're still onboard. That's an order. Other wise we'll contact the Enterprise when we're ready to be beamed back."
There was a pause on the other end of the line, followed by a sigh. "Yes, sir."
Jim turned to see Uhura openly kissing Spock, and unless she was very mistaken, Spock was indeed returning the kiss. She nudged Scotty who simply shrugged. When she stepped on the pad, Uhura backed away and stood by Scott. Jim gestured between Spock and Uhura. "You and… her?"
"I have no comment on the matter."
Scott shook his head and returned to his consol. "If there's any common sense to their ship, I should be putting you somewhere in the cargo bay. Shouldn't be a soul in sight."
Jim nodded at Spock and looked at Scotty. "Energize."
The two materialized in the "cargo bay" of the Romulan ship. Instead of there being no one around, Kirk and Spock found themselves surrounded by six Romulans. They pulled their weapons and dove behind cover. A firefight ensued, with Spock and Jim miraculously coming out on the winning side. Spock moved to a stunned Romulan and began to mind meld with him. He looked at Jim.
"Do you know where it is? The black hole device," Jim whispered.
Spock nodded. "And Captain Pike," he added grimly.
McCoy could only wait, helplessly in his opinion, back on the Enterprise. There was plenty to do. The Enterprise still sheltered the majority of the remaining Vulcans, many of whom still required medical attention. He checked in with his head nurse, Chapel, and began to make his rounds. Many patients had healed enough to send them on their way, returning them to duty. His mind was still on Jim, however.
Her behavior had disturbed him. Fighting the guards he could understand, it was in her nature and she really didn't like being touched without permission. But the personal attack on Spock wasn't her. Something happened on Delta Vega, but he hadn't had the time to speak with her about it. He resolved to speak with her when she returned. Bones didn't allow himself to think of any other option than that she would return.
They made their way to the black hole device, which was housed in a small shuttle located in the hangar bay. Jim recognized it from her mind meld with the older Spock.
"I forsee a complication," Spock noted as he walked through the shuttle. "The design of their ship is far more advanced than I had anticipated."
The computer sprang to life. "Voice print and face recognition initiated. Welcome back, Ambassador Spock."
Spock looked at Jim, who very pointedly avoided eye contact. "Wow…that's weird."
"Computer, what is your manufacturing origin?" Spock asked.
"Stardate 2397, commissioned by the Vulcan Science Academy."
Spock fixed his gaze on Jim who studied the walls intently. "It appears you've been keeping valuable information from me."
"You're going to be able to fly this thing, right?" Jim finally looked at him.
"It appears I already have. Jim? If I do not return, please tell Lieutenant Uhura-"
"Spock, it'll work!" Jim forced a smile. "It'll work." She exited the ship and made her way out of the hangar bay, catching sight of the shuttle starting up. Jim followed a maze of corridors, meeting no one, on her way to the location of Captain Pike. She caught something in the corner of her eye. Jim raised her phaser only to be knocked on the side of the head with the butt of a gun.
She was knocked to the ground. Before she could get up, a Romulan stood over her. She recognized him from the viewscreen. Nero.
He picked Jim up by her hair, raising her before him. "Well, you aren't who I expected, but you'll do." He hit her face with the back of his hand and sent her flying across the floor. He crossed over to her and began to kick her.
A siren blared above his head and he turned to a Romulan at a wall consol. The Romulan hit a button, and shouted, "Nero! The Vulcan ship has been taken and the drill has been destroyed."
Nero roared in anger and turned to his second in command. The Romulan smiled and picked Jim up by the throat as Nero left. Jim squirmed beneath his grasp and clutched at him. He walked to the edge of the platform and held her over the side. She tried to speak but was unable to.
"You humans are so weak. You can't even speak." He loosened his grasp on her throat a little bit and turned his ear towards her. "What was that?"
"I got-your gun!" She managed as she pulled the trigger. The man collapsed and she hit the edge of the platform. She clutched frantically at the side and the Romulan fell over the edge. Jim managed to swing her leg back onto the platform and pulled herself up. She lay there for a moment, regaining her breath before getting up and making her way towards Pike's location once more.
She came across a room that held a man strapped to a table in the center. The man wore the traditional command gold. Pike. She looked around her, and holstered her weapon and ran to him. Pike stirred slightly.
"Hey," she said quietly. "Just following orders to bring you back."
He sat up quickly and pulled her phaser from her belt and fired four times. Four guards behind her fell to the ground. "Thanks, sir."
Pike nodded and slumped back down. Jim wrapped his arm around her neck and lifted him to his feet. "Enterprise," she called into her comm, "beam us up."
She, Captain Pike, and Spock were all beamed back to the Enterprise at the same time. Scotty was congratulating himself and the transporter chief beside him on the difficulties of beaming targets from different locations.
Bones rushed in with a medical team. "Jim!" he exclaimed in relief, before turning his attention to the Captain. Jim transferred Pike to the medical team and rushed to the bridge, Spock in tow.
On the bridge, Jim ordered a channel opened to the Romulan ship. The Narada was losing power and was without shields and Spock's red matter ship had been left on a collision course. A singularity was beginning in the middle of the ship. "This is James T Kirk of the USS Enterprise." Nero looked shocked, more at her name than anything else. "Your ship is compromised. Too close to the singularity to survive without assistance…which we are willing to provide."
Spock turned and whispered in her ear. "Captain, what are you doing?"
"It's compassion. It may be the only way to earn peace with Romulus. It's logic, Spock, I thought you'd like that."
He raised an eyebrow. "No, not really. Not this time."
Jim shrugged and turned her attention back to Nero.
"I would rather suffer the death of Romulus a thousand times than accept assistance from you," Nero shouted.
"You got it." Jim turned to Chekov and Sulu. "Fire everything we got!"
The Enterprise fired a barrage of torpedoes and phasers at the dead ship. It wasn't long, however, until Jim noticed the toll the gravity well of the singularity was taking on the ship. She pushed the comm button on the Captain's chair. "Kirk to Engineering. Get us out of here Scotty!"
"You bet your ass, Captain!" came the frantic reply.
The Enterprise continued to be pulled into the gravity well. "Scotty? Why aren't we at warp?!"
"Go to maximum warp! Push it!"
"I'm giving her all she's got, Captain!"
"All she's got isn't good enough! What else do you got?"
There was a pause. Scotty's voice came across desperate and frantic. "If we eject the core and detonate, the blast could be strong enough to push us away, but I can't promise anything!"
Kirk pondered this for a half second until a huge pressure crack appeared on the view screen. "DO IT DO IT DO IT!" she screamed.
The core of the Enterprise was ejected and detonated remotely. The resulting energy wave was just strong enough to overcome the gravity of the singularity and the Enterprise was pushed out into space. The entire bridge released the breaths they had been holding and began to cheer. Jim sat down in her chair and closed her eyes in relief.