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This was written many years ago as a creative response to a story called 'Eulogy' which, if memory serves, was printed in the American zine Contact. In the original story, Spock had been killed in the line of duty - but because of the circumstances, there was no body.
Life had to go on, Kirk told himself firmly. Although Spock was dead, he had his duty to the remainder of his crew to think of, his duty to Starfleet; his superior officers might sympathise with his loss of half his very self, but they certainly wouldn't sympathise if he permitted it to interfere with his efficiency. After a sleepless night, during which his mind revolved over and over what had happened and failed utterly to produce any ideas as to what he might have done to prevent the tragedy, he went onto the bridge, unconvinced that there was nothing he could have done to save his friend, but with his face showing nothing of his inner turmoil.
The general atmosphere on the bridge was one of still stunned disbelief, which did nothing to help the Captain's depressed state of mind. Instead of the normal spasmodic, muted conversation among the bridge crew, there was an unhappy silence. Kirk glanced once at the library computer, manned by Lt Beaumaris, then gazed fixedly at the slowly changing pattern of stars on the viewscreen. If one of them had suddenly gone nova, filling the screen with blinding light, he would barely have noticed.
The days dragged past and slowly Kirk began to grow accustomed to his loss. Half a dozen times a day he would begin to turn, meaning to say something to Spock, then remember and swing back again. A succession of junior officers rotated at the library console while Kirk tried to select the best one to stand Spock's watches, but perversely he never gave any of them the opportunity to show their ability. For the one routine survey they made, Kirk assigned Chekov to the sensors.
He never spoke of Spock, even to McCoy; and he never knew that it was the surgeon who slipped into his cabin after several days and carefully replaced in their box the chessmen from the last game Kirk had played with Spock; a game that would now forever remain unfinished. Kirk himself had not had the heart to put them away; illogically, he had felt that while they stood there, there was still hope that - somehow - he would waken to find it all a terrible nightmare and that Spock was still alive. He found himself relieved that someone had done it for him. It gave him the strength to go to Spock's cabin and personally pack together the Vulcan's possessions, few as they were, then take them back to his own cabin to keep until he could deliver them to Spock's family on Vulcan. He could have given the job to a yeoman, but he found a masochistic pleasure in doing this for his friend. Thereafter, Spock's cabin remained empty. Time enough for the knife to be twisted in the wound when Starfleet assigned them a new First Officer.
That they would not be able to ship Spock's replacement for fully five months, when they were due to call at Starbase 8 for R & R, was a matter for a combined feeling of relief f and worry. Worry because it would not be easy operating without a First Officer for so long, relief because Kirk had no wish to see anyone else in Spock's place.
It was nearly three weeks before the first crisis since Spock died arose. Lt Ubaro raised his head from the sensors to announce, a little nervously, "Unidentified ship on a converging course, Captain."
Kirk glanced at the navigator. "Confirm, Mr Chekov."
The Russian grinned apologetically as he relieved Ubaro who, for lack of orders to the contrary, remained standing beside the library computer. The pause was very brief.
"Confirmed, Captain. It is a vessel of alien configuration... no resemblance to a vessel from any known race."
Kirk felt a spark of interest. His curiosity was barely aroused, but even so it was an improvement on the dull apathy of the last three weeks. An alien race...
"Try to contact them, Lieutenant."
"I'm trying, sir... They don't acknowledge any signal," Uhura replied, frustration in her voice.
Kirk glanced, with an automatic movement that he had still not learned to control, towards the library computer. Seeing Chekov there instead of the familiar tall, lean figure hurt. He barely stopped himself saying, automatically, "Evaluation, Mr Spock..."
'Evaluation, Mr Spock...' Oh God, Spock, how will I ever learn to manage without your knowledge, your efficiency, your advice? True, he had managed for years without Spock, not knowing what he lacked; but he had learned to trust the Vulcan so completely that in this moment of grief-stricken despair realisation hit him afresh of just how much he had lost, both professionally and personally.
The pilot, sole occupant of the little craft, slowly sat up, rubbing his temples wearily. He felt sick and dizzy, and his head ached abominably. What had happened? Memory failed to provide a satisfactory answer. One moment he had been gathering atmospheric data... then a sudden unexpected turbulence sent him flying, his head impacting on the sharp edge of a console.
He pushed himself upright, wondering why the Enterprise had made no apparent attempt to retrieve him during the several hours that his sense of time told him had elapsed since then. Unless... could something have harmed the Enterprise, unlikely though that seemed? Staggering, he stumbled to the control board. He depressed the communications button.
"Spock to Enterprise."
He was not really surprised to get no response.
A wave of nausea threatened to overwhelm him. He pressed the fingers of one hand to his temples as he fought to control the sickness, the sense of disorientation, knowing that much of it was psychological, caused by his anxiety concerning the ship... and her Captain.
He spared five minutes to sit, breathing evenly and deeply, resolutely closing his mind to worry and refusing to acknowledge the presence of nausea, vertigo or pain. Then he reached to the control board in front of him. His fingers moved over the console as he sought information.
Few of the sensors were operating, and those few were clearly faulty. Spock frowned, puzzled. As far as he could detect with the malfunctioning units, the Copernicus was alone in space. There was not even debris detectable within the limited radius that he could survey.
He considered the matter. The sensors, damaged as they appeared to be, would not detect the presence of small items; but surely nothing could disintegrate the Enterprise into tiny pieces? Logically, therefore, he must have moved away from the Enterprise beyond the limited range of the shuttle's sensors... or the ship had moved away, abandoning him.
No! Unlikely though the first contingency was, his mind utterly refused to accept that Jim would ever, under whatever circumstances, voluntarily abandon him. Certainly he had begun to move away from the Murasaki Effect, leaving the possibly lost crew of the Galileo, but only after as thorough a search as possible and then under direct orders from Commissioner Ferris. But there was no Ferris on board this time. No, Jim would not abandon him.
So... the Copernicus must have moved. Spock began to check his position as best he could.
He checked his results three times before he accepted them. Stunned, disbelieving, he sat numbly trying to assimilate the unnerving fact that - somehow - he was now fully fifty parsecs from his original position.
At last, he forced his unwilling mind to accept matters. He began to check out his resources.
They were slim. Because there had been no intention for him to be away from the ship for more than a couple of hours, there was no emergency food supply on board. There was very little water; a bare gallon. Although he could survive without food for a long time, much longer than a Human in similar circumstances, he would certainly be dead of starvation before the shuttlecraft could possibly reach the Enterprise's last known position - by which time, of course, she would be gone. The nearest Starbase was even further - if, indeed, the crippled shuttlecraft could travel so far. It was fortunate that the life support unit seemed to be functioning satisfactorily; he could do without food and very little water for quite some time, but even he couldn't possibly do without air. It gave him enough time to look for a solar system nearby, with a reasonable chance of reaching it. Once there, with an emergency signal operating, all he would be able to do would be to wait, hoping that a friendly vessel might pass within range of the signal. It might take years. But at least he would survive.
It took several hours before he selected his target; a star nearly three light years away that gave promise of having planets. He headed for it at the top speed of which his little craft was capable.
Life support was not functioning satisfactorily, he discovered; it was working at a reduced level. But provided he did very little, it was adequate. He meditated a great deal during the four days it took him to reach his target.
The third planet looked the most hopeful. He took the Copernicus down carefully, knowing that if he made a mistake he would not get a second chance. The closer he approached the surface, the more hopeful his choice appeared. At last he landed gently in a clearing in the middle of a lush forest.
It didn't take him long to realise that random factors had indeed operated in his favour on this occasion. There were plenty of edible plants; and although there was abundant animal life, none of it appeared to be dangerous. It would not be difficult to survive here.
However, he soon discovered that the shuttle's communications system was irreparably damaged. Several of the external components were missing - indeed, much of the shuttle's outer shell was missing. This also explained the faulty sensors; their receptors were gone too. There was nothing he could use as a substitute for the missing items. Philosophically, he resigned himself to living the remainder of his life here. What if it was lonely? He had been accustomed to loneliness for most of his life. He resolutely kept his mind from thoughts of his friends. Remembering them would weaken him.
Several days passed. He ranged further afield, exploring his new world, and soon stopped returning to the useless shuttle at night. The days were warm here, the nights mild. The trees were of a type that indicated a tropical or at least sub-tropical climate; in these latitudes, at least, he need not fear the onset of winter. But he might still be glad of the shuttle if there was a rainy season... unless he found some alternative shelter. A cave, perhaps.
He was two days journey from the Copernicus when he saw the slim, elegant shape sink gracefully out of the sky to settle gently on the ground little more from a mile from him. Hope rose unbidden. The vessel was of an alien design, but any race capable of spaceflight might help him...
He approached cautiously, however. Any race capable of spaceflight might help him... but any race capable of spaceflight might also be as unfriendly as the Klingons.
Spock crouched in the bushes a scant hundred yards from the three men of the alien's crew, staring in amazement at the familiar pointed ears of those men. A Vulcanoid race... he listened carefully to the spasmodic conversation. The language was familiar...
He wriggled a little closer. This vessel also was damaged, he gathered, its malfunctions very similar to the ones his craft had suffered. The crew had landed to effect repairs.
Spock looked longingly at the Romulan craft. From what its crew had said, it was incapable of providing life support for the three of them. They were stranded as effectively as he. But... might it provide life support for one?
It would be theft, his mind protested.
If you could get that craft to a Starbase, the benefit to Starfleet might be very great, his logic told him. It is a new Romulan design. What secrets might it contain?
He hesitated still, torn between the two thoughts. The Romulans were speaking again. Secure in their solitude, they were discussing... their mission! One of sabotage directed against the Federation! That decided him.
He inched backwards, slowly, slowly...
Keeping among the bushes, he circled until he was close to the slender, beautiful craft. Its door stood open. It was in full view of the three Romulans; his eyes fixed on them, he waited patiently.
It was nearly an hour before one of the more raucous-voiced species of bird screeched its alarm call. The Romulans whirled as one, to stare into the forest wondering if this portended danger to them; Spock, used by now to this bird's frequent and probably imaginary alarms - indeed, it was what he had been waiting for - moved as quickly, and was inside the enemy ship long before its crew decided that they had nothing to worry about.
He checked the controls as well as he could. They were fairly standard; he knew that it would not take him long to work out the function of those controls that were strange to him. What of supplies? He checked. There was more than adequate food and water to keep him alive for several years, and he wondered just how long the three-man crew had expected to be on their mission. Then, as ready as he would ever be, he slid the door shut, settled himself into the pilot's seat, and took off.
The ship sailed skywards easily. Whatever else had suffered, her engines certainly had not. At warp six, he headed for the point where memory told him the Enterprise would be going next.
He soon discovered that life support was very low. As he had done on the Copernicus, he spent much of his time meditating, moving only to check his progress, conserving air as mach as possible. Even so, by the second day, he found it becoming increasingly difficult to breathe. It was late on the third day that he lost consciousness.
Chekov looked up from the sensor. "Captain, I can detect only one life form on board the alien vessel," he said. "Comatose. If there are any others, they must be dead. The vessel appears to be extensively damaged. Perhaps it was attacked by..." He fell silent. This was well removed from the sphere of Klingon influence.
Kirk simply nodded. "Lieutenant, call Dr McCoy and have him meet me in the transporter room. Mr Chekov, pinpoint the position of that life form and give the co-ordinates to the transporter room. Mr Sulu, take over."
There was a scattered chorus of acknowledgement. He hardly heard it. He had barely stopped himself from adding, "Mr Spock, come with me..."
He entered the transporter room just behind McCoy, as Kyle was finishing setting the control board. Kyle glanced at him. "Energising, sir."
A limp shape shimmered into view on the transporter platform. The three men stared in blank amazement at the uniform of Starfleet blue. McCoy recovered first. He had an unconscious man to attend. He crossed to kneel beside his patient, rolling him over as he did so, and stared down in utter astonishment. "Jim..."
Kirk joined him, and stared down. His heart seemed to miss a beat. How was it possible?
"Spock?" he whispered.
"It has to be," McCoy said. He gave the Vulcan a shot. "That should bring him round in a few minutes." He took a deep breath. "Isn't it just like him," he added, his voice rather unsteady.
The prone Vulcan stirred. His eyes opened, and he looked up. His eyes closed again for a second in what could only have been relief.
"Jim... Bones... " His voice was very soft, and there was a warmth in it that he very rarely permitted himself to reveal. He struggled to sit up; Kirk slipped his arm round his friend's shoulders, and supported him. For once, the Vulcan relaxed and allowed the assistance, leaning gratefully against Kirk.
"Come on," McCoy said gruffly. "I don't know what you've been doing to yourself, but I'm going to find out. Sickbay for you."
Together, Kirk and McCoy helped Spock to his feet. Spock swayed; they each caught an arm to steady him. Then, supporting him, they headed for the door.
"But what happened to you?" McCoy repeated once he had satisfied himself that all Spock needed was a good night's sleep.
"There was turbulence," Spock said thoughtfully.
"An ion storm," Kirk put in.
"I fell and knocked myself out. When I regained consciousness, I was fifty parsecs away. The only conclusion I can come to is that a freak atmospheric effect acted as a transporter. If there was an ion storm, that tends to confirm my hypothesis. The storm itself may have acted as a giant transporter. The shuttle was damaged, however, and I was unable to make any attempt to contact the ship."
"What about the one you came home in?"
"Oh, yes... Jim, I left three Romulans stranded. We should report their position so that they can be rescued."
"Romulans...?" McCoy said blankly.
Spock finished explaining. Kirk nodded. "I'll report it," he said. "And if this is a new type of Romulan vessel, you'll probably get another medal for capturing it."
"Unnecessary, Captain. I have gained all the reward I need. I am home again."