Enjoy the episodic ficlet.

Verrus III

Jim stepped down the hall slowly, careful to not make any noise as he scanned the environment. Sweat dripped down his forehead. It burned his eyes and tasted salty on his lips, but he ignored it in favor of gripping the phaser more tightly in both hands.

The lights ahead were malfunctioning, and only the occasional flickering of red and orange was filling the Station's hallway; the static emergency light glowed hauntingly on everything it touched from its panels on the floor.

A quiet movement up ahead stopped him momentarily. He felt his mouth tighten into a twisted grimace as he raised his phaser cautiously to a better position, stepping forward around the corner. Jim immediately trained his weapon on the tall figure that stood crouched over an empty service terminal with a bowed head.

"Don't move," he bit out shortly, phaser set on kill and ready to fire. The figure straightened and turned in a measured movement, his head tilting slightly in question, "Captain?"

The regular lights flashed, revealing the familiar face of his head science officer. Impossible.

"Spock?" Jim gasped, and he felt his hand tremble. It couldn't be. Spock was on the ship, the Enterprise, miles above them.

The dark haired Vulcan's eyes had moved to the phaser trained steadily on his chest. "Yes, Captain," his eyes flicked up momentarily to meet Jim's own, "It is good to see that you made it to the station. After forty eight hours of no contact, the crew had grown concerned."

Jim swallowed dryly at the familiar tone, "Wha— Spock. How," he swallowed again, "how did you get down here?"

"We found an opening in the storm's weather patterns, and with the help of the capable Mr. Scott, I was able to beam down before it closed."

"But—Damn it! Why?" Jim cried, "Didn't Sulu contact you? Didn't he tell you not to come?"

Spock blinked, tilting his head in uncertainty, "We did not receive any messages, Captain. I was under the impression that Mr. Sulu would be with you. He is not here?"

A hysterical laugh slipped through the cracks before Jim could get control of himself, "No, no he's not. I sent him back to the other station over a day ago. Shit!"

"If that is the case Captain, we must—" Spock began, beginning to step forward.

"Damn it, don't move!" Jim barked, reaffirming the command with a gesture from his weapon. No way was he letting Spock closer. He rubbed a shaking hand through his hair, damp with sweat. It was hot. The creature liked the heat, and had jammed the generators some time ago, aiming to make the entire Station a furnace.

What to do, what to do, Jim considered wildly.

Sulu hadn't made it back to Station 2. Which could mean anything; he'd gotten lost in the storm, the ROVER had broken down, the creature had caught up with him. Shit. And now Spock was here, in all his Vulcan glory, not a hair out of place.

"No one else beamed down with you?" he asked roughly, with an accompanied phaser jab.

"No. I did not believe we could transport more than one person in the available limited window," Spock spoke; lifting his eyes to Jim's own in a wary scrutiny.

His brain raced. So Spock had been alone. And what if Jim hadn't been the first person he'd run into? What if Dr. Fik'Toy had reached him first?

"How do I know he is who he is?" Jim muttered to himself in frustration, "Fuck, what if he's not?"

What if Spock was. . . gone? Like the rest of this damn station. Like Hikaru, and the team he came down with.

"Jim," Spock said cautiously, "I assure you, I am Spock."

Jim shook his head, "It's not as easy as that. You can lie."

He could see visible concern growing in the Vulcan's expression as his First Officer's gaze grew sharper. But maybe that's just what Jim wanted himself to see. Proof. That Spock was really there, and this wasn't that thing.

Lieutenant Simmons had expressed himself realistically too. He'd been Simmons to the habitual way he'd clicked his teeth together, down to the very end. Until that moment when several extra limbs had exploded from his side in an attempt to pin Jim to the bathroom wall, a high pitched, unnatural screaming filling the air as Jim tried to dodge away.

Jim shivered at the memory, pushing it back again.

"Are any of the others here? Are you alone, Jim?" The Vulcan asked gently, once again interrupting his thoughts.

Yes. It certainly felt that way.

Jim licked his lips again, "I don't know," he responded truthfully, "Last I saw,Q'nin was alive," if a little crazy, "but that was hours ago. He's probably dead by now, like the rest of them." A lot could happen in a few hours, he'd learned that already.

He thought he heard a noise coming from the right, and turned his head sharply to peer down the hallway.

"Damn it," he muttered. It was better if he kept moving. But. . . he glanced back. The Vulcan hadn't moved, his eyes remaining on Jim calmly.

"Perhaps if you told me what has happened here, I could be of better assistance, Captain."

That's what Spock would suggest, Jim internally reasoned. And hell, if this actually was Spock (he felt a flutter of hope mingling with his despair), then he had no idea what he'd just walked into. He'd only know that Jim and two others had made an attempt to reach the station three days ago, going after the team they'd sent the day before.

But it had been an eternity since , that time aboard the Enterprise didn't even seem real anymore.

He swallowed drily, licking his lips, "Alright," his eyes flit back to the open hallway. No one there. "Alright."

He paused, trying to think where to begin.

"Perhaps it would be best if you started at the beginning, Captain," Spock urged.

"The beginning," he muttered, thinking back to when it had all started a lifetime ago.

80 hours earlier

"Captain, I'm picking up a distress signal from a planet in the neighboring star system," Uhura announced, breaking up the monotony of an unusually boring shift. An unusually boring week, really.

Jim brightened up immediately, clapping his hands together, "Excellent!"

Spock straightened from examining his equipment to look at Jim, "I fail to see how a distress signal that undoubtedly signifies trouble could bring you such satisfaction, Captain."

He smiled awkwardly, frozen with his hands grasped together, "Well, it hasbeen a slow week, Mr. Spock."

At Spock's raised eyebrow, Jim cleared his voice and lowered it to a more reasonable level of seriousness, "What's the problem, Uhura?"

The communications officer had her hand pressed to the com device in her ear, "Unknown, sir. Everything past the primary hail was corrupted in the transmission, I can't understand any of it. The signal itself is a few days old, and they are not responding to any of my returning hails."

Curiosity growing, Jim straightened in his chair, "Uhura, keep trying and see if you can get something. Sulu, change course for the distress signal, warp four."

"Aye-aye, Captain."

"Mr. Spock," Jim continued, "Do you have anything?"

Spock, bent down over his equipment, responded in his normal monotone, and with his normal precision, "The signal is from an isolated Federation research facility in the Northern region of the ice planet Verrus III, Captain.

The planet has no natural life and is frequent to storms, but holds a special compound made up of the rare element astatine in the depths of its mantle that makes it a unique environment for a study in the treatment of the more peculiar cancers. Hence the several research stations located across the planet's surface.

The research team at Station 3, in which the emergency signal derived from, is comprised of eleven members, and has been stationed on Verrus III for 27.4 months. Both quarterly reports to the federation and bimonthly supply deposits up until this point have been normal.

Scans of the planet's surface show that a fierce snow storm has covered the entire area for the past week which could explain both the corruption of the message and the lack of contact now. From the storm patterns displayed here, it is rather fortunate that they were able to broadcast a signal of any kind."

Jim tapped his fingers against the control panel, "Any obvious dangers at that post that would have them sending out a distress signal?"

"There is not anything unusual about the post that would cause foreseeable problems, they are a medical station that handles non-volatile substances," Mr. Spock said.

"And the other stations? Any problems with them?" Kirk continued, still deep in thought.

"Negative, sir," Spock answered, studying his equipment once more. "No emergency contact from any of the other four stations. They are well away from the storm currently centered over Station 3 and communications are normal."

"Captain," Sulu interrupted, "We are approaching the planet Verrus III now, sir."

"Excellent," Kirk said, "maintain a standard orbit Mr. Sulu, and see if our scans can pick up anything unusual in the area." He had his doubts that they'd be able to pick up much with the current weather patterns, but it never hurt to be thorough.

"Uhura, contact the station closest to Station 3 and set up communications. Let's see if they know any more about this than we do."

"Yes, sir."

While waiting, Jim opened a com, "Bridge to Medical Bay. Bones, you busy?"

"Finally getting caught up on my paperwork. Why? Wait, no, I don't want to know."

His grinned, "Bones—"

"No, Jim! I just want to finish my paperwork without alien probes or goddamn Klingon invasions! Is that too much to ask?"

"C'mon, Bones, don't be crazy. Klingons don't even fly in this sector of space. And what are the chances of two alien probes in a row? I mean, really? No, no, don't answer that, Mr. Spock," Jim said hurriedly, clearing his throat, "We just have an itsy bitsy distress signal on a nearby planet that I thought you'd be interested in."

"Oh, yeah," the doctor asked wryly, "Why's that?"

"You heard of any research being done on Verrus III?"

"Who hasn't?" Bones scoffed, "They've been one of the forerunners in malignant cancer research for years now." He paused for a moment, before sighing, "and you're about to damn well tell me they're sending up that distress signal, aren't ya? I'll be up in a second."

Jim spun his chair in circles as he considered the situation for a moment more, waiting for Uhura to open communications. The familiar swish of the door announced Bones' entrance just as Uhura announced that Station 4 was standing by.

"Mr. Spock," Jim stood up, turning to Spock, "brief Bones on what we know. I'll talk to—" he turned to Uhura questioningly.

"Dr. Briars, sir."

"Dr. Briars," Jim finished, nodding at her to proceed.

The projector screen polarized quickly revealing a thin middle-aged woman with thick auburn hair wrapped in an efficient bun, and tired looking eyes. Ah, local time was somewhere around two in the morning, Jim remembered sheepishly.

"Captain Kirk," she began inquisitively, if a tad grumpily, "I was told you wished to speak with me. May I ask what this is about?"

"Dr. Briars," he said seriously, "I apologize for the short notice and the late hour. We've just recently run across a distress signal that had been broadcasted from you sister facility, Station 3, several days ago."

Briars blinked at the unexpected news owlishly.

"Distress signal?" she repeated in confusion to Jim's disappointment, "I haven't heard anything about it."

At this, Spock stepped forward, having finished briefing the doctor.

"That is not unlikely. Station 3's immediate area has been surrounded by harsh weather patterns bearing high electromagnetic content for the past week. Any communications sent out by the facility would have easily been corrupted and lost before reaching its destination. We were fortunate that a small hole in the weather pattern enabled the signal to escape into space."

Dr. Briars blinked again in the Vulcan's direction, "I see. Whatever was the distress signal for?"

"I was hoping you could help us find out, Doctor," Jim said. "As it is, we have been unable to contact the station and the message we received was highly corrupted. Any insight on the situation that you would be able to provide would be helpful."

The woman frowned, leaning back in her chair thoughtfully, "I'm afraid I can't tell you much, Captain. Not much affects us out here on Verrus III. Our research is hardly dangerous. At times we can experience very harsh storms, but we're comfortably protected from the elements within each of our compounds. Each station even has an officer qualified as an engineer to handle any problems that might arise in our generators."

"The officers," Jim interrupted seriously, "Is it possible that some conflict could have arisen amongst them?"

Briars was already shaking her head, "Station Three's personnel have never had any problems. Avoiding conflict is critical when working within such close quarters with each other for such an extended period of time.

We all participate in quarterly psych evals and are obligated to report on any incompatibility with the rest of the crew. We also have a full-time psychoanalyst that rotates from station to station to make sure no one is affected by the pressure of our work conditions. As a matter of fact, Dr. Fik'Toy is stationed at Three now."

"I see," he said, staring off into space with a frown, "thank you for your help Dr. Briars."

"Not at all Captain," she replied honestly, "I'm sorry that I couldn't be more of a help. Please, do keep me informed."

"Of course."

With a gesture to Uhura, communications were closed and Jim sat back in his chair, deep in thought.

"Are our scans picking up anything, Mr. Sulu? Anything at all?"

"I've managed to isolate and track the weather patterns over the surrounding area, sir. It's still going strong; I'd say it's going to last a while."

"The storm would affect the transporter, wouldn't it?" Jim asked in thought.

"Correct, Captain," Spock said, "It would be unwise to attempt any travel of that nature at this time."

Not that he was expecting it to be that easy.

"Hmm," Jim swiveled around again, fingers bouncing restlessly on the arm of his chair. Despite his previous eagerness at a respite from boredom, the situation called for caution. The limited information they had meant they would be walking in blind.

Still, duty called. He couldn't allow Station 3 to fend for itself, whatever the circumstances.

"Mr. Spock? Would a shuttlecraft be able to fly through the storm?"

Spock stepped forward, gripping his hands behind his back in his traditional pose, "Not at this time, sir. Our shuttlecraft are especially susceptible to the kinds of radiation being emitted in the storm."

And of course they couldn't use the shuttlecraft either. Typical.

He slapped his arm rest lightly at the challenge, "Are the stations equipped with any vehicles of their own? Something built to withstand the planet's environment?"

Spock returned to his computer to check, "Affirmative Captain, each station has been assigned with two G class ROVERs with designs specifically enhanced to repel radiation and debris from most of the planet's atmosphere.

That decided it for him, and Jim jumped to his feet, "Alright then, Uhura, I'm going to need you to get back in contact with Briars. Inform her that we're beaming down directly to Station 2, and that we'll be borrowing a ROVER."

"Yes, Captain."

"Captain, I would like to remind you that the area is experiencing a class four storm, and even with the ROVER's particular enhancements, travel in the area will be dangerous."

"I agree," Jim said warily, "but we can't risk waiting until this storm calms enough for us to beam down. We don't know what the situation is, and what it might warrant, but if the crew at Station 3 was desperate enough to send out a emergency signal, I don't want to take any chances by biding my time."

"I agree," the Vulcan nodded curtly, "However, each ROVER is small, with room for only four passengers. The ground crew will have to be within those parameters. And because we do not know the reasons behind the signal—"

"—it's hard to determine what we'll need," Jim completed, thinking, "I know. Landing crew will be Lieutenant Simmons with a security detail. Simmons will determine the source of the distress signal and return to Station 2 to send us a preliminary report on the situation. Once we have a better understanding of what the problem is, we can put together a more effective party to further handle the situation."

"That is acceptable, Captain. I will inform the lieutenant of his duties."

"Good. Tell me when they're ready to beam down. I want to see them off."

"Affirmative," Spock nodded, before returning back to his post to relay the information.

Dr. McCoy shifted besides him, "What are you thinking Jim?"

Jim felt a smile grow, and he bounced on the balls of his feet, "Not sure, Bones. Not sure."

The doctor rolled his eyes, "Only you would be happy about that."

"Stardate 2261.55,

This is Captain James Kirk of the Starship Enterprise. It has been approximately thirty hours since the ground crew was expected to reach Station Three on the planet Verrus III. I have received no word from Lieutenant Simmons or the rest of the landing party. I fear that they have been lost in the ferocity of the storm.

The storm shows no signs of receding. However, I cannot and will not abandon the local research team to whatever disaster ails them. Providing them aid is still our highest priority. It is with this in mind that I have selected a second landing party to make another attempt at reaching it, made up of myself, Security Officer Q'nin, and Mr. Sulu, who I trust implicitly to get us there safely.

It is my belief that we will be able to succeed where the first party did not."

50 hours earlier

"I would recommend bringing along one science officer, Captain," Spock said, watching as Jim stepped up to the teleportation pad.

"Do I hear a volunteer?" Jim grinned, turning back to look at his First Officer, "Wanting to check out the state of the art science facilities, Mr. Spock?"

The Vulcan raised a brow, "While ensuring the safety of the research team and checking that the landing party is operating at its fullest efficiency would be my highest priorities, I am not averse to making sure the Verrus equipment is not malfunctioning."

Translation: I'd make sure you didn't do anything too stupid. And then I'd check out the cool science toys, yes.

"I'll take that as a yes," Jim chuckled, before sighing and gentling his smile, "but it wouldn't be wise to have both the Captain and First Officer out in that storm. And I do believe Q'nin has training in that regard."

"What I want to know," Bones grumbled from his position at Spock's side, "is why the hell you have to go down in the first place? Christ, Jim! Your scouting team didn't make it, what makes you think you can?"

"I have the utmost confidence in Mr. Sulu's abilities at driving ROVERs," Jim said by rote, directing a confident look at said navigator. Jim had already had the opportunity of experiencing Sulu's prowess at ROVER navigation during a particularly exciting shore leave on the sand moon Xierxa. This would be right up his alley.

Sulu returned the grin with a familiar excitement. It didn't hurt that the man was something of an adrenaline junky. A man after Jim's own heart.

On the other hand, Security Officer Q'nin to his right didn't look near as excited. His scaly face was focused in a stony determination. But then, his face was always that way. Jim was fairly positive the Saurian race lacked the facial muscles necessary to convey any other expression.

"And that means you have to go?" Bones demanded pointedly. "Why do you insist on being a part of practically every landing party? Don't stick your neck out enough on a day-to-day basis?"

Translation: You're a damn reckless idiot.

"Bones," he pouted, "not nice. Besides, it's situations like these that need captain-ly ideas."

"Captain, if the only reason you are accompanying the second party is to produce captain-ly ideas I would have to agree with the good doctor on questioning the validity of your departure."

Jim's smile fell flat, his frustrations rising, "Four of my crew are already lost out there in that storm, Spock. I won't risk anymore of my men than I have to."

Bones let out a feral growl, "You're the Captain, Jim. You can't just jump at the opportunity to get yourself killed."

"My decision, Doctor," Jim reminded, putting his foot down and turning back to Spock. "Mr. Spock, while we're down there, I want you to continue searching for the other team. They have emergency supplies; they could still be alive if they remained in their ROVER."

"Understood, Captain," Spock stated.

Jim hesitated for a moment more, "I don't need to tell you that we'll be out of contact from the ship, and you'll have the prerogative. Do what's best for the ship, Spock."

Bones huffed, rolling his eyes before Spock could even attempt a response, "Your baby will be just fine, Jim. Focus more of that concern of yours on yourself why don't you?"

Jim pouted.

Spock cleared his throat, "I will do my best to act as you would, should a situation arise, Captain."

Jim allowed himself a final smile, "See you on the other side then," before nodding to Scotty to proceed.

Spock watched stoically with his hands behind his back as the energizer's beams flickered into being, catching the three men on the pad in their light.

As they disappeared, Bones turned to him in an obvious false calm, "Well, Mr. Spock. What do you say their chances are this time?"

Spock pondered the question for a moment. "As a witness to the improbability of the Captain's success on numerous other occasions, Doctor, I find it difficult to calculate an answer to my normal precision."

"Hmmph," Bones gritted, running a hand through his hair. "I see your point. But you'll excuse me if I go ahead and get the MedBay prepped regardless."

"A wise decision, doctor," Spock acknowledged.

Jim felt himself re-solidify on the transporter pad, and heard a woman's voice greet him, "Captain Kirk."

He straightened, turning to the scientist standing near the panel in the back of the small, white paneled room, "Dr. Briars," he nodded.

The doctor had long since fixed her hair and uniform from its previous sleepy disarray, looking calm but alert now. She stepped forward, holding out a hand, "A pleasure to meet you, Captain. I'm just sorry it couldn't happen under better circumstances."

Jim smiled, although his eyes tightened as he shook her hand briefly, "As do I, Doctor."

"I suppose you and your team will want to be on your way immediately," Briars continued, thankfully straight to business. "I'll show you to the other ROVER."

They followed her to a large theatre holding a single vehicle, she turned to them, "You'll find that controls on the ROVER are Starfleet standard, except for a few of the environmental controls. I've had our mechanic program them to be automatic for you, to expel any further difficulties."

Jim gave his trademark grin, "Much obliged, ma'am."

She nodded, "My pleasure."

Sulu took the moment to climb in and fiddle with the dials, sticking his head back out the door when he was done.

"Everything looks good here, sir. We shouldn't have any problems."

"Except for the Class Four electromagnetic storm outside," Q'nin deadpanned. Sulu's resolve didn't dim in the slightest. If anything, he looked even more excited.

"Sulu will get us through," Jim reaffirmed, turned back on last time to the head doctor as he opened his own door. "This is us then," he nodded, "If everything goes well I estimate we'll be back within the day."

"I'll see you then," she replied. There was as pause, before she continued her gaze softening into worry, "If you could, please relay my concern to Dr. Fik'Toy and the others."

"Of course."

It was Spock's movement forward that snapped Jim out of his daze, "I said don't move, Spock," he ordered again, blinking away the fog of thoughts.

"I apologize, Jim. You were not responding."

He swallowed dryly, "Right. Sorry," he shook his head lightly, "I suppose I should start when we got to Station Three. Sulu got us there in about seven hours. A few bumps and scratches, but none too worse for wear."

Jim stepped out of the ROVER, glancing over at his pilot with a grin, "Thank god for automated doors. I'd hate to be crawling out there in this storm, pretty sure it's the instant death kind of meteorological weather. And not too bad on the driving, Sulu."

Sulu smiled back, the thrill of the drive still showing on his face as he bounced on his toes, "Thanks, Captain."

"Captain," Q'nin called out, having already begun his search. Jim turned to him, standing next to another weather tempered ROVER. His smile faded as he walked up to the officer.

"The other Station 2 ROVER," Jim observed, unease building in his gut.

"So Simmons made it after all," Sulu said.

Q'nin nodded, "Yes. And take a look at this," he pointed to the side where the metal covering had been removed. "The engine's been sabotaged."

Sulu moved away, catching sight of Station 3's own ROVERs. He crouched down next to one of them, tapping on the metal thoughtfully, "Same here, Captain."

"Someone didn't want anyone getting out of here," Jim concluded gravely. He stood in thought for a moment, deciding.

"Officer Q'nin. You'll stay here and make sure no one gets any ideas about our own ROVER, while we take a look around. I want status updates every ten minutes. And try the radio, see if you can get in touch with the Enterprise, or Station Two while you're at it."

The man nodded gravely, "Sir."

"Sulu," Jim said, turning to look at the pilot, "You're with me."

He moved to the back of the room, Sulu falling into step behind him, and the door slid open. A wave of warm air followed, countering the chill that had escaped in from the outside.

"What do you think happened?" Sulu asked gravely.

Jim let his frown show, "I don't know, but we're going to find out. Keep a sharp lookout."

"Yes, sir," Sulu said, pulling out his scanner.

The hall from the service center was eerily dark, and it took a moment for the automated sensor to catch and the lights to flicker on.

A prickle of sweat grew on his brow, the temperature just slightly too warm to be comfortable.

"Anything, Sulu?"

"I'm picking up several life readings further down and to our right, Captain," Sulu spoke up, looking down at the equipment in his hand.

"Well, let's go say hello," Jim said lightly, before adding, "and be ready. Whoever messed with those ROVERs might not be happy to see us."

They turned a corner and Jim began to hear the faint sound of voices.

"—can't trust him!"

"Damn it, Jones. He's our way off this fucking rock!"

"Yeah? You wanna let him out then?"

"No! But he's Starfleet, look at that uniform. He has to be in contact with his ship!"

He shared a look with Sulu and pulled out his phaser, setting it to stun. Sulu mimicked him quickly, and they shared a nod before Jim pressed the sliding door open.

Two men in white uniforms turned to face them sharply. One of them took one glance at them and flinched, a slight sound of fear escaping his mouth.

Jim stepped in slowly, aiming for collected, "I believe you mentioned something about one of my officers?"

"W-who are you?" the shorter of the two asked, "Starfleet?"

Jim studied him with a critical eye, "I'm Captain Kirk of the Starship Enterprise. We received an emergency beacon from this station approximately 40 hours ago, I sent a team down to investigate the issue. One of whom I think you have in that room," he gestured with his chin to the closed door behind them.

" Captain?" the other said suspiciously, eyeing the two of them in a mixture of fear and distrust. "How'd you get down here?"

Jim raised an eyebrow, "ROVER, like my officer before me. Now if you don't mind, I'd appreciate if you released him, and explained to me just what is happening down here."

"No fu—" the man began, until interrupted by the other researcher.

"Wait," he said hurriedly, giving the other a stare, "just wait. You just got here right? Haven't even separated yet?"

Jim gave him an appraising stare, and decided the cooperation would be the best way to get the answers he wanted, "Yes. We left a man watching the ROVER," he noted the more antagonistic researcher's flinch, "Lieutenant Sulu and I immediately tracked our way to your heat signatures."

"You left someone there alone?" the other asked, his voice tightening.

Jim frowned, not liking the fear he heard in the man's tone, and caught sight Sulu's similar expression. "Keep your eye on them," he said, pulling out his communicator and turning.

"Q'nin, you there?"

No response brought the unease up in his gut, "Officer Q'nin, come in."

He waited a few more seconds before there was a slight shuffle and static broke out over his com, "Q'nin here. Sorry sir, I was getting a closer look at the Station 3 ROVERs."

He breathed out, sharing a mildly relieved look from Sulu, "Anything to report?"

"Nothing as of yet. I haven't been able to make any contact, even with this Station's frequencies."

He caught the researchers sharing another uneasy glance, and continued, "We've found some of the research team, and I believe a member of the original search crew."

"That's excellent news, sir."

"Mm," Jim agreed apathetically, "I want you to keep a sharp eye out. And keep your phaser handy. I don't like the feel of this place."

"Yes, sir."

"Kirk out."

Jim slipped his communicator back in his pocket.

"So," he began somewhat placidly, "How about you release my officer, and tell me what the hell is going on here?"

The more passive of the two held up his hands in a peaceful gesture, "Alright, alright. C'mon George," he looked at the other man, "Open the door."

The other man looked angry, but did the smart thing. Phasers provided a wonderful suggestion. He opened a keypad, plugging in a few passwords, and the door slid open.

It was Simmons who was sitting on the metal containers inside. He raised his head at the noise, and after catching a glimpse of Jim and Sulu jumped to his feet.

"Sir!" he said, a relieved smile growing on his face, "Boy, am I glad to see you."

Jim nodded curtly, "The rest of your team, Lieutenant. Where are they?"

Simmons frowned, his teeth clicking as he moved his jaw in thought, "I'm not sure, sir. We split up at the garage, figuring we could cover more ground and discover the problem. A few minutes in, this guy," he gestures sharply with a glare to George, "decides to hit me upside the head with a metal pole. Next thing I know I'm locked in this damn room, my radio and phaser gone."

Jim turned his sharp eyes back to the two troublemakers, gesturing sharply with his own phaser, "You two wanna explain?"

The other one, Jones if Kirk had overheard correctly, licked his lips, "Look. We had no idea who he was. Things have been crazy here for the past two days! We haven't slept, haven't seen any of our friends in hours, then this stranger who we've never seen before shows up in the hallway. We panicked."

"What happened here? Where is everyone else?"

Jones glanced at George hesitantly before dropping his eyes, "I don't know."

"What do you mean, you don't know? You said things had been crazy here, why?" Jim through in more sharpness to his tone.

Jones looked at George again, the man standing stiff and avoiding eye contact. Jones hesitated, staring at him a moment longer before looking back at Jim. "I mean what I said, we haven't seen anyone. George and I were in one of the isolation labs pulling a long shift, when we came out people were gone. All we found was the," he scrunched his eyes closed in despair, "remains of Todd Jenkins, Astla Aghned, and a lot of blood, all over the place. So we hid. When we ran into your friend, we thought that he might've done it. Except that it didn't make any sense. Todd's body was in a restricted area, this guy wouldn't have been able to get in," Jones admitted, "Which is why we were discussing letting him out, when you showed up."

That was more than a little disturbing. Plain creepy, actually. If these two were telling the truth, that meant that someone else must've sent out the signal, as well. Someone else was in here. He could only hope that the rest of Simmon's team had stumbled across them and not whatever it was killing people. His thoughts hit a block, "Why were you so worried about us having split up from each other? About my officer in the garage?"

It was George who answered immediately, in a flat voice, "There's a madman out there. We have no idea who he is. It's safer that you were together, easier to tell if one of you was lying."

Riiigght. He supposed the brutal death of a number of coworkers gave a man the right to be a little paranoid.

"And the ROVER's? Was that you?"

They looked confused and Jim sighed. Sulu filled them in, "Your Station's ROVERs as well as the one Simmon's and his team came in have been sabotaged. No way we'll be able get them up and running."

Jones eyes widened in panic, and he looked from Sulu to Jim sharply, "What? Then, what about your ship? Surely your ship can beam us out of here!" His voice rose shrilly as he stepped towards the Captain in panic.

"Calm down," Jim ordered, phaser still out but pointed at the ground. When the man took a few breaths, he shook his head in the negative, "We won't be able to get out of here until this storm ends. This many people can't fit in the ROVER. Besides, we still have a job to do. Our mission is to find any other survivors, and figure out what caused this," he said in a solid determination.

George looked at him hardly, "Then let Jones and I take the ROVER out of here while you do your damn search. It's dangerous, we shouldn't stay here."

But Jim was already shaking his head again, "No. We don't know when this storm is ending, or what state everyone else will be in. That ROVER could be our only way out of here."

Jones let out a strangled sob, slumping into the chair behind him and covering his face with his hands, "We're trapped here. We're all going to die."

"Enough," Jim cut through his panic solidly, "You are not going to die." He made his decision quickly, "Sulu and I will continue our search. Lieutenant Simmons," he looked at the man pointedly, "will remain here with you. He's a trained Starfleet officer, he'll make sure nothing happens to either of you."

Simmons looked ready to protest, but Jim cut him off with a sharp glare. "I'm assuming you have his communicator and phaser somewhere in here?"

George nodded, walking over to a desk and pulling them up out of a drawer. Simmons stepped over to him stiffly, taking them out of his hands with a grimace.

"Alright," Jim said positively, tucking his phaser back into his belt for the time being. "This is going to work. I want you guys to report in if you see or hear anything. Don't go investigating on your own. Simmons, standard status updates, twenty minute intervals."

"Aye, sir," the man confirmed glumly.

"Ready, Sulu?" he asked, turning back to the helmsman. Sulu, thank god for the man, looked ready for anything, phaser still raised in alert, "Yes, Captain."

"Good. Let's get this done quickly. I don't want this killer out there for too long."

And with that, Jim and his loyal officer stepped out of the room and back out into the unknown. The door slid shut with a resounding thunk behind them.

20 Minutes Later

"All clear here, Captain," Simmons reported, teeth clicking slightly in a nervous tick. "Not so much as a peep from anything out there."

"Good," Captain Kirk's voice came through clearly. "Or equipment isn't picking up anything useful out here so Sulu and I are making are way to the communications room. Maybe we can find the one who sent it in the first place."

"Sounds good, sir." That'd be a relief. Simmons was ready for this mission to be over. He'd get back up to the Enterprise, get a solid meal, and finally change out of this grungy red shirt.

He settled the communicator back into his belt, leaning back against the wall. The two researchers before him seemed to have worked themselves back into a anxious, fearful state that Simmons could practically feel from where he was standing.

"Don't worry," he allowed himself to coax, even though they had beat him upside the head with a piece of rebar earlier, "My captain will figure this out, and then we can all get off this god-forsaken rock."

George, still standing, rested his arm on the shaking one's shoulders as he ground out, "I just want this fucking shit to be over."

A weird, almost croaking noise comes from the researcher sitting down. Simmons felt his hair rise, there was something off about that noise. Something rose up in his gut, an instinctual fear that something was not right. His hand moved towards his communicator of its own violation.

And then George was screaming, blood pouring from the stump of the arm that had been resting on his friend.

"Shit!" Simmons stumbled back, arm reaching for his phaser, "What the fuck?"

Jim hesitated, pausing for a moment, "The research team is dead, Spock, all of them. We found the truth out in the destroyed communications room. Could barely find anything working enough to play anything, let alone get radio contact or emit something out into space. The signal we got wasn't sent out as a call for help, Spock. It was sent out as a warning for us to stay away. Sulu and I, we found it in that room and that's when we really fully realized."

He rubbed a hand through his hair again, trying to illustrate what had happened, "The team, they had been mining ice and. . . and they stumbled across something. A creature," his eyes found Spock's again, looking for something, anything that might betray him.

"It was dead, extraterrestrial; crashed on this damnplanet who knows how long ago. They brought it back to the station, thinking to study it, but it was carrying something. A fucking contagion of some sort, shit, I don't know. And once they got back it infected a member of the crew and it hid inside him. No," he shook his head sharply, "that's wrong, it didn't hide. It ate him, absorbed the body, and then mimicked him, down to the last detail."

His phaser was beginning to shake again as he recounted the story, his other hand at his temple.

"It didn't take too long for another scientist to figure it out, because I mean, fuck, these guys were universally-renowned for making those kinds of shit-faced discoveries, what's a little extraterrestrial transforming monster to them?"

He breathed out harshly before continuing, "But that's where things got ugly. The thing wanted to survive. It killed the doctor, tried to cover its tracks. And slowly, one by one, it killed everyone else, stealing their bodies, pretending to be them to confuse the others. After six of the crew had disappeared, one of the remaining sent out the priority one distress call. The scientist, Dr. Yansin, knew that she was about to die, but she didn't know who it was or how to kill it. The only thing she could do was make sure that it didn't get out of this Station, off this planet and into the rest of the galaxy. So she warned us, telling the Federation to quarantine the area, to abandon Verrus III. That was the signal, and damn, we didn't find it until we were too late anyway."

"So you sent Sulu back to Station Two," Spock confirmed, staring at Jim intently, "You managed to repair one of the ROVER's."

Jim nodded, "Putting all of them together gave us enough functioning pieces. . ."

Q'nin wasn't there when Jim and Sulu rushed into the garage. Not too surprising sense they'd lost radio contact with both him and Simmons shortly after the communications room. And naturally, their ROVER had been sabotaged to match the rest of them.

He slammed his fist down on the hood, "Damn it!"

Sulu stood behind him, phaser out, eyeing the door with an unnerving wariness. "What now, sir?"

Jim pinched his nose, "Give me a minute, Sulu. I'm thinking."

He sank to his haunches as he thought, and it was while he was staring at the gaping hole where the ROVER engine had once stood whole. From what he could see a number of the valves were smashed in a hurried rush. The sump cracked and leaking. One of the cylinders dislodged.

Heavily, heavily damaged, Jim thought, but not irreparable.

He jumped up, running to one of the other ROVERs and peeking into the torn up insides. Two valves looked potentially operable. Spark plug in dire need a little maintenance. He took a look at one more ROVER before he was satisfied. "Okay," he said, plan solidifying even as he looked around for a tool box.


Jim shot Sulu a smile, "Did I ever tell you that I did some time on the side as a mechanic before entering Starfleet, Sulu?"

Seeing the obvious direction this was taking, Sulu laughed weakly in relief. He was kind enough to only sound slightly skeptical, "You think we can fix one of these?"

Jim finally spotted what he had been search for, bounding over to a workbench and pulling off the lid to a metal sleeve that lay there. As his hand pulled out multiple screwdrivers, a stripper, a few clamps, and a multi-meter to start, he replied, "Enough to get us out of here, at least. After that, we'll pray to the gods that Spock has the sense to find us."

"Good enough for me," Sulu said with a dry honesty.

It took more time than he'd like, but eventually he was screwing in some metal plating to protect the bits and pieces of the newly crafted engine. Sulu sat in the front, taking some shortcuts on the wiring to readjust the power usage so that they didn't overstress the new baby.

"Ready to go, Captain. It'll be rough, but we should get to Station II with most limbs attached," Hikaru said somewhat shakily.

"I'm not going with you," Captain Kirk said calmly, breaking the news as he stood up, causing Hikaru to freeze in the ROVER's seat.


"I had time to think about it while we were working, Sulu," his Captain repeated firmly. "I am staying here."

"Captain. That thing. It's out there in one of those men." Hikaru tried desperately, already feeling a bitter sinking in his stomach.

"And the rest on this Station are defenseless against it," Kirk agreed. "I won't leave my men to fight it alone."

"They might not even be your men anymore," Hikaru attempted again. He almost hoped they weren't. That it was already over. Dr. Yansin's voice, the torturous details of what the original science team had been through. It was enough for him to pray that they were already dead and no longer suffering. Nausea, mixed with a hefty fear stirred inside him.

"But there is still the chance that they are!" Captain Kirk said adamantly, his eyes holding all of the conviction in the world, "And I won't abandon them."

Hikaru closed his eyes for a moment, breathing in heavily, "Then I'm staying with you."

"No," Jim said sharply, "The other's need to be made aware of this situation, fully. Damned the consequences if I can't stop it and we let this thing out onto the other stations, or even worse, the ship. We can't take that chance."

He shook his head in denial, not wanting to abandon the man that had saved his life countless times before.

"That's an order, Sulu," his Captain's voice was cold, sharp. The years of service sparked the obvious reply, and he found himself hating both it and himself with every fiber of his being.

"Yes, sir," he uttered tightly, opening his eyes in a defeated finality. The Captain's hand clamped onto his shoulder momentarily, and Jim licked his lips, "Good, we've wasted enough time already. Good luck, Hikaru."

"I couldn't risk sitting on that information. You had to know, and it was better if at least one of us got out of there." Jim said. Not that it had mattered. Sulu was—

He shook his head, not letting himself dwell on his missing pilot.

"When we had arrived, there were still multiple life signs on the scanners. Although once it heat up enough, those stopped functioning properly. In the time that we'd been there, Sulu was the only one I knew couldn't be the monster because I had been with him the whole time. He was the only one that the creature couldn't have gotten to" Jim admitted, "and so I knew I could trust him. The ROVERs had been sabotaged earlier, but we were able to put enough of the pieces back together to get one running. And then I stayed to see if I could find the others, because I couldn't be sure—"

"That they were infected," Spock finished.

"Yes," Jim said breathlessly, "yes. Because if they weren't, I was condemning them to hell. And I couldn't do that."

"And the others from the landing crew?"

Jim shook his head, tired of it all, "Simmons is dead, I'm not sure when it got to him, but," he giggled hysterically, remembering the fucking pincers, "but it did. And the last I saw of Q'nin, he was trying to stab me with a pick-axe."

For killing Simmons.

"I see. And the others, you mentioned multiple life signs?"

The garage door closed with a certain finality. This was it. No turning back now.

"What are you doing! God no, what are you doing? No one can get out of here!" A man stumbled into the room desperately, staring at the now still doors.

"Hold on, calm down. Calm down."

"It wants off," the man said desperately, grabbing Kirk's arm, "Don't you see? It wants off. We can't give it what it wants."

"I know," Kirk said, raising a hand to placate the man, "And it's not going to get off. That was the last way out of here, and it's gone now."

He licked his lips again, "When we got here. But not anymore. There's Dr. Fik'Toy, but it's not really her. I saw her pull another damned limb out of her stomach when she attacked the mechanic, after Sulu left. She was getting desperate then; after she realized that she was cornered."

Spock was still, processing the situation.

"And there have been no traits or characteristics to identify the creature from the original being?"

Jim shook his head helplessly, "From what I gathered in Dr. Yansin's report, the only fault in the reproduction is that the monster can't recreate any inorganic material from the host's body. But that's pretty useless, unless someone had some obvious piercings or something."

"And fuck, Spock," Jim sighed, gesturing at the Vulcan with his phaser, "then you come waltzing in, playing the goddamn hero."

"And you have no way to discern whether or not I've already stumbled across this creature."

"Not just me, Spock," Jim reminded him, because the Vulcan needed to be careful, damn it, "You don't know if I'm it, or me, or just bat shit crazy."

"So we are at an impasse," Spock observed quite accurately.

"Yeah," Jim said lightly, feeling strangely relieved at clearing the air. He leaned slightly into the wall at his side, studying the Vulcan in thought, "But no worries. I'd say you have a few more miles left on you. More than I do anyway."

We both know who is going to win this standoff.

Another imagined noise and he was craning his head quickly over his shoulder again to look back into the hall.

"How long has it been since you last slept, Captain?" Spock's voice drew him back in.

He snorted, "When do you think?"

"Most assuredly not since Sulu left, and quite probably long before even that. I estimate it has been at least eighty four hours."

"It was a rhetorical question, Mr. Spock," Jim chided, feeling the funny drain out of him at the reminder. Only miles up, in a steady orbit, his bed rested in his cabin aboard the Enterprise. He could picture it.

"You could use me down there, kid," Bones said, pacing a hole into Jim's floor.

"Hmm, I don't know Bones," he said slightly in fun, but also pointing out the truth of the matter, "This Station is stocked full of universally-renowned doctors."

Bones huffed, crossing his arms. Jim rolled his eyes, putting the paperwork that signed of his departure from the ship down for a moment.

Look Bones, I know that cancer research might be a small hobby of yours," Jim said knowingly. At Bones surprised stare, he shrugged, "What? I read too you know! Your name's brought up in a few circles."

"You've been digging through my rooms again haven't you? How many times have I told you to keep your damn hands off my stuff?" McCoy exclaimed.

Jim shrugged it off, "Eh, once or twice, but that's not the point. The point is, I'll be sure to bring you something back from the gift shop."

McCoy stared at him with a foul expression, "Have I ever told you just how much I hate you sometimes."

The longing he felt at the moment was stronger than anything he'd felt before. His vision blurred as his eyes watered, before Spock drew him in again.

"Nevertheless, it is apparent that you are under severe strain, Captain. I sense that it will become more difficult for you to function as time passes."

No fucking kidding.


Oops. He'd said that one out loud. He sighed, wiping his face with his free hand in exasperation, "And what is it you are suggesting, Mr. Spock?"

"I believe that I have something that the creature would find impossible to imitate; something that would ensure you that I am Spock, and allow me to check that you are truly Captain James T. Kirk."

Hope that he desperately tried to dampen rose in his chest, "Yeah?"

"Have you ever heard of the Vulcan mind meld?"

He swallowed, thoughts of Spock Prime flashing through his head, "It rings a few bells."

How would a monster be able to copy the very essence of a person, their deepest thoughts and emotions without revealing itself? If it could do that. . . well, they were already screwed and he didn't have any better ideas.

Only one problem. A mind meld required contact. Touching. Lowering his shields to let Spock or the Spock Imposter close enough to touch his face. His own hand reached up to mimic the action. Would he be able to do that?


He dropped his hand, looking back at the unchanging Vulcan, how could he be so calm? "It'd be risky Spock, for both of us."

Spock was as stoic as usual, his hands at his sides. The only thing that betrayed his anxiety was a small line forming in between his eyebrows. "I am aware of that. However, there seems to be no other choice."

"We could go our separate ways," Jim muttered halfheartedly, knowing it wasn't possible.

"I can't be here! I can't be with you all! How do I know, how do any of us know who anybody really is! I'm leaving, I'm getting out of here!"

"No Jim. I will not leave you."

Monster or Vulcan, Jim was falling for it. And it was now or never.

His hand dropped a few inches, lowering the phaser in a slight, but not absolute, concession, "Okay."

Any wrong moves, Mr. Spock, he warned inwardly, ready to raise his weapon in an instant and blast the imposter kingdom-come.

"I will need to have contact with your face, Captain," his maybe First Officer informed, taking a cautious step forward, "And after the meld is initiated, we will both be able to sense it, and there will be no question."

The Vulcan raised his hand in a slow, measured movement, trusting Jim be the one to meet him halfway. Though with his reflexes, Spock didn't have as much to worry about the surprising extra limbs that might be waiting.

"Right," he whispered, taking a deep breath and stepping forward himself, keeping his body taut enough to jump at any sudden movement.

Do it.

Spock's fingertips lightly touched his face, and when no pincers or goddamn teeth jumped out to greet either of them, the Vulcan pressed down harder over several psi-points. Jim's pale and clammy met a dry heat.

"My mind to your mind."

Jim swallowed as Spock's voice deepened in focus.

There was a buzz on the edge of his senses at first, the impression of somebody else, before Jim truly felt it.

"My thoughts to your thoughts."

Calm rivulets of reason imbedded in a stoic sense of being. Structured rationale, an undercurrent of concern, wariness, trust. An intricate web of thoughts, actions, emotions.

An image of himself through Spock's eyes, shaky, pale with a wild desperation in his eyes, flitted through his mind from the contact, doubling his vision for a split second.

"How do I know he is who he is?" the man he (no, not him, Spock. This was Spock.) knew and trusted stood in front of him, muttering in hysteria, looking brittle enough to snap, "Fuck, what if he's not?"

A heavy control, Spock, he realized, guided the image away.

And then his own memories were rising.


"Captain? They won't leave us here, will they? They wouldn't leave the Captain of the ship trapped here, right?" The man was grasping his arm tightly, in a vice-like grip. "They're coming to get you."

The struggle in the bathroom. Screaming. High pitch screaming. Blood spattering everywhere as Simmon's side exploded outwards. Extra limbs reaching out, inverted and dripping in blood. Teeth and sharp points reaching for him. He had to get away. Fuck. He needed to survive this. He needed to - Duck. A limb swung over his head viscously.

And even though it was far calmer than when Spock Prime had initiated it, in a chaotic blend of emotions and memories, it was still overwhelming. Too much for Jim's exhausted, overworked brain to handle and he felt himself go slack, his own thoughts stuttering from the pressure.

The images blurred away, fading. Q'nin. " You killed him! Monst-"

Everything was muted in the small contact; far more diluted than his last meld had been. And far less chaotic than when the elder had just watched his planet be destroyed before his very eyes. But there nonetheless, whirling around him. The very essence of what made Spock Spock.

Jim closed his eyes in relief, his fingers curling at the warmth of contact after being alone for so long. His relief washed out and seeped into Spock, and in response a wave of understanding swept through him.

"You are not alone, Jim."

A broken laugh followed by blinding grin felt like an adequate response. Spock's hand detached itself, the comforting presence dimming from his mind but still standing before him.

"No," he repeated, "I'm not." His legs, already shaky gave out from under him, and he slid down the hall wall.

"You," he remembered the feelings he had felt, "You knew it was me all along?"

"Indeed," Spock said, kneeling beside him.


"I believe it was what you would call a gut instinct,"Spock said calmly.

Jim barked a laugh, wiping his forehead with the back of his shaking hand, "How very illogical, Mr. Spock."

"Indeed," came the steadfast answer.

"So," Jim said shakily, "I think it's at that point where I proudly and quite excitedly relinquish command. How's about you figure out how to get us out of here, and I sit on this nice metal grating and try not to fall to pieces?"

Spock placed a hand on Jim's shoulder, one of the only times he'd ever initiated physical contact. "That is an adequate course of action."

If possible, even more relief flooded his systems. And that's when he realized the problem. Running on no sleep, no food, and the stretched out effects of adrenaline rushes, fear and the uncompromising fact that he would die if he didn't keep moving had been what kept him on his feet.

But now, where relief had dropped him to the ground, it was the steadfast trust that Spock would get them out of here that had Jim lose the one thing that had kept him going.


And he'd thought he had reached the point of utter exhaustion after the Narada encounter. That was nothing.

Spock's voice warbled in and out of his ears, his vision going shaky, the swirly, then largely black. And he was out for the count.

He woke up warm. Not sweltering hot, like before, but warm. And that's all Jim Kirk needed before relief flooded his systems once more.

"Jim?" A voice, Bones, oh Bones, how he'd missed the man so much, growled. "I know your awake, the damn machine says so."

"You always treat your patients so nicely," Jim managed to croak. He forced his eyes open, feeling as though plaster had tried to keep them shut. "If this is a dream, I never want to wake up."

Bones rolled his eyes even as his hands gently lifted Jim's eyelid's one by one so he could study his pupils. "My life is disturbing enough without you dreamin' about me."

"Again, Bones, the nicest things," Jim said, relishing it with ever fiber. His head turned, and he caught sight of a sleeping Sulu. A masked covered his face.

Following Jim's eyes, Bones answered the unspoken question, "Scotty found the ROVER in a scan once the storm started to die down. He had some pretty severe damage, his lungs still need some work, but the kid'll make it."

Jim stared at the helmsman for a moment longer, eyes narrowing, "And we're sure this isn't a dream. Am I dead? Ow!"

A sharp pain rushed through his arm as the doc pinched him, "Nope, I'd say not. Unless you're undead. In which case, I'm locking you up in one of the private rooms down here so that I can rewrite my dissertation."

Jim shook his head, "I don't understand. Everyone was dead. The station's energy grid had mostly collapsed. There was no way to escape. Fik'Toy was hunting us. And I passed out on Spock. I passed out on Spock," Jim repeated incredulously. "He'd have had to drag me around, with that monster chasing after us. How am I not dead?"

"From what Spock said," Bones replied seriously, picking up his tricorder, "and this is a long story, short, mind you. That green eared goblin can prattle on with statistical likelihoods and physiological conditions like no other—the storm abated just shortly after you feinted."

Jim sputtered, "I did not feint, it was a manly, strong . . . power nap."

Bones sighed exasperatedly, "Yes, well after your power nap, the storm abated enough around the station that we could beam you two up. And Officer Q'nin, but he's in solitary. The hot temperature from the station destabilized his mental processing capabilities. He's a little insane right now." Bones winced, "It's going to take a few weeks for that to work itself off, his species was never meant to endure hot climates, he's been through a physiological ringer."

Jim felt a trill of fear once more and his arm reached out, grasping on to Bones' sharply. "Bones, you can't trust it. There was a shapeshifter down there, if he managed to get to Q'nin or Spock while I was out of it—"

Bones settled his other hand over Jim's, "Relax, kid. I ran every single test at Spock's bequest, including brain scans, to ensure that you all were who you said you were. And to be safe, Spock did his Vulcan voodoo on the both of you."

It eased some of his concerns, but, "Damn it, Bones," he whispered, "I was unconscious. What if Spock isn't Spock anymore?"

Leonard patted his arm, "Spock said you'd say that, which is why he asked me to call him down from the bridge when you woke up."

"Your timing is impeccable, Doctor," a precise voice came from his left and Jim looked over to see Spock's figure. Bones grumbled in the background. Jim remained stiff, eyeing the man, though his voice was relieved, "Spock."

"I understand the doubts that you would have, Captain. I thought that the best way to alleviate them would be to do what we did on Verrus III."

"A mind meld," Jim said, sinking back down in relief.


"Okay," Jim said at once, ready to finally put all this behind him. He reached a hand out towards the Vulcan, "Put your hands on my face then, Mr. Spock."

Spock quirked an eyebrow, but stepped forward nonetheless. His hand brushed over Jim's face, before stilling and pressing down of the psy points with a sharp pressure.

"My mind to your mind," Spock intoned, his voice pulling deeper.

My thoughts to your thoughts.

The End.


There you have it, an episodal fic. Short (relatively) and to the point (there was a point?). And to think, the story's done and you'll never have to wait for updates again. Just sit there for a moment and feel that; the relief, the satisfaction. It's nice, isn't it?

On another rather similar note (that may or may not negate the last paragraph entirely, it's up to you), I'm thinking that if I ever manage to write more of these episodal Star Trek whatsits I'll post them here. That's only if the inspiration hits, it might never happen. My writing's always been the spur of the moment kind of thing. But still, here's where they'll be if stars cross (or don't, whatever). And they will all be finished by posting, scout's honor (never was a scout, but really it's the thought that counts).

Also, if you have any ideas you think are particularly interesting, I'm not averse to throwing them at my muse and seeing how she responds. And what are your thoughts on redoing old TOS episodes in the relaunch 'verse? Potentially awesome? Or someone's-rolling-in-their-grave-stop-please-stop- before-you-kill-another-one (screen-writer that is)?

P.S. I wrote this in one sitting. . . I think this is what making a Horcrux feels like. I'm dead inside.

P.P.S. Why are muses always female? Does anyone know of a male muse? I sure don't. I wouldn't have minded having one either. But somehow I always get stuck with this annoying chick that won't stop bitching. Not cool.

P.P.P.S. I haven't slept in a while. If the fic above is just completely nonsensical, I give you permission to verbally run me into the ground. But please don't. I'm a fragile flower at heart.

P.P.P.P.S. I just realized I should also explain the background of the story a little, although some of you probably already got where the monster came from.

It all started with me watching The Thing with Kurt Russell when I was just a kid – it terrified the living daylight out of me. So I went ahead and saw that prequel that came out some time ago, and that's when the inspiration hit and I thought what would Jim Kirk do? So I took the thingand threw it into the Star Trek universe. Turns out, Jim would have a little bit of a melt down from sleep deprivation.

Thanks for reading,