From a great height as if she had borrowed the eyes of an eagle, Sherrith gazed down upon the crowding crags ever roiling within the dense fists of constantly moving clouds. Only once did she catch a quick glimpse of the gnarled line of tiny figures winding its way ever upward toward the great peaks. Sherrith was frankly surprised. At Dakainya, she had been taught the ‘mechanics’ of the D’uene. In essence, it was possible to split part of the mind-body away from the rest. In her own 20th century, this tenuous separate quasi-self had been called the astral body. This piece of mind-body did not actually include any physical mass, but neither was it pure mind. For what she was going to attempt, it was all too easy for pure mental energy to become lost or absorbed into another mind, another time, or another space. The so-called astral self helped prevent this because it was indissolubly linked to the autonomic physical shell. However, this separation could exist safely for a very limited relative time. A simple link-bond, activated automatically, would draw the astral self back from where or whenever it was at a precise predetermined time. Meanwhile, it was possible for the ‘body’ to continue to perform simple actions, such as climbing. With any luck, the existence of which she and Spock disagreed, she would have the information she sought and be back within herself before anyone realized that the split had taken place.
Only for a few seconds did ‘Sherrith’ spend watching the panorama below. Almost immediately, she ‘went within’ and sought the one emanation-set that identified Spock’s mind to her as thoroughly as touching his temples as he stood beside her.
While ‘Sherrith’ sought her husband, she did not really ‘exist’ in the accepted sense. She was in a peculiar void of pure nothingness that was outside space, time, and thought. Periodically, a ‘light’ would flicker in the darkness. It was not really a light, but Sherrith identified the mental neural flashes she encountered as ‘lights.’ She had no way of knowing whether 1,000 million years had passed or 1/1000 of a mili-second. Existing where time did not, could be very confusing. At last, ‘Sherrith’ recognized a specific confluence of emanation-sets that could only be minds aboard the __Enterprise__ with which she was familiar. Then, like her fingers were caressing that beloved face, ‘Sherrith’ knew Spock’s mind. After that initial touch, she withdrew before meld could begin. Spock would be aware of the feathery brush along his mind, but she hoped that would be all. Any closer, and ‘Sherrith’ would be, in effect, forcing a meld which was inconceivable now that she was trained, even though Spock was her husband.
Light as it was, that brush against even the outer mental bastions of Spock’s brain was enough to connect ‘Sherrith’ to the proper space-time lines. Once she had tried to describe what the space and time particular to a specific mind was like. The nearest she had been able to come was comparing the complex to a sort of spider web in shape. At the center glittered the nexus of the mind’s centrex focus. Radiating out were present and past spatial paths winding centrally in diminishing force levels were the temporal lines. Just as mass ‘looks’ solid, so does space-time seem a unified whole. But the relative distance between molecules is as great as between solar systems; even so is there an undefined separateness between the threads of the space-time continuum as they relate to any individual mental force.
Spock’s mind provided the path-focus. ‘Sherrith’ was seeking a spatial-temporal crossing identified by a mind as a past experience. From the psycho-meld she had shared with Spock ‘Sherrith’ knew that to reintegrate this specific event, she would have to travel back into her husband’s youth. Like searching for a gold thread among many yellow ones, ‘Sherrith’ paused and passed repeatedly in her search among the intersecting lines. Suddenly, she found that which she had been seeking.
The eleven year old Spock was sitting on the dusty floor of an oddly shaped room, looking up at an elderly Vulcan who was speaking slowly as if he aimed each word into the very depths of the youthful mind he was addressing. ‘Sherrith’ seemed to be viewing the scene with the eyes of the young Spock, though since the sharing was in that-which-had-been, this temporal joining was not a meld or link that could be felt or could influence the present. It was much like finding an old record and replaying it to learn long-dead notes.
The room in which she found herself was dimly lit by a diffused glow that seeped in through the faceted walls of translucent crystal. All around the two Vulcans ranged strange machines and instruments most of whose purpose could only be guessed at. With the avid mind of the young Spock, ‘Sherrith’ recognized his grandfather Suvil; she also easily identified the room as being hidden like a priest’s hole in an ancient Earth castle. It had been carefully constructed to lie visibly hidden between one wall of the Wheerr and the outer dome that housed the huge crystal at Beom. The room’s entrance was made visible only by applying a ‘light-key’ which correlated certain energies so that the Wheer Chair moved aside to reveal a narrow corridor of uneven steps.
(RBW Note. Drawing of buildings in harsh mountains.)
Within this comparatively small space, reposed incredible energies which the wisdom of The Reform had decreed should never be released upon Vulcan again. However, it was so very Vulcan to deplore the total loss or any even potentially useful knowledge. Therefore, parts of the old knowledge had been preserved by alternate generations. Those in between carefully devoted themselves to current scientific developments. Far in the future, this alternating information system would unite in the mind of the Kataytikh Spock for the first time since the fall of Top of World.
Now Suvil was speaking in his habitual professorial tone, "Spock, you now possess all of the chain of Utsulan equations. However, I have recently discovered that it is possible to build up certain overloads that even the Attendants do not know about. So subtle are these energy buildups, that they provide no danger to the continued existence of the crystal itself. They are virtually undetectable by conventional means. One of these is use of the crystal for interdimensional travel. Vulcan scientists have long been aware of the existence of exponentially endless universes, as well as the possibility of multiple duplications of Suvils and Spocks within these universes. However, if you were to travel into a parallel being-world containing another ‘Spock,’ you would induce a negative ‘hole’ in this universe. The crystal would drain off the first 308 levels of correlative energy back-up, but that produced by the confrontation of a positive-negative interface would induce an undetected overload. What the probable results of this magnetic surfeit are, at present are unknown. Yet, I surmise that the least of the effects would be an energy-drain between dimensions that would increase so long as the error were left uncorrected. Interwoven personalities would definitely be affected. Another source of overload would be the use of the crystal to drain off powerful, uncontrolled telepathic intrusion. I have been able to discern only . . . ."
Like an ancient phonograph needle lifting from a record, ‘Sherrith’ terminated her participation in this episode from Spock’s past. She had the facts she needed. When her husband had used the Beom crystal to rescue Jim Kirk from an alternate Universe, he had begun an energy build-up that had been increased exponentially by feeding her recently unleashed mental powers into the crystal.
Like the pure light of a diamond upon black velvet, ‘Sherrith’ was now positive that T’Uriamne was being influenced from another level of existence with the Beom Utsulan acting as energy amplifier.
Deep within her astral self, ‘Sherrith’ knew that the ‘era of separateness of Being’ was rapidly drawing to an inexorable close. Yet, in order to complete the Answer she was seeking, ‘Sherrith’ knew she must travel into that parallel plane. She must see this other Vulcan and meet the surrogate of her own beloved. With the speed of thought, she was once more hovering above the peaks that half-surrounded the Utsulan. Stretching out a ‘mental finger,’ ‘Sherrith’ tapped that unknown energy overflow. Thinking in old Earth phrases, she girded up the ‘loins’ of her mind, and was literally flung down an utterly black corridor toward an oval of reddish light. As if surfacing from within the depths of a planet-splitting well, ‘Sherrith’ was virtually thrown out upon another Vulcan.
Sherrith found herself standing, leaning against a low, smooth wall. To her staggering surprise, she seemed to have acquired a solid physicality during the unpredictable planar transition. According to all the laws with which she was familiar, this was utterly impossible. But the more she learned about existence itself, the more Sherrith realized that the concept of ‘impossibility’ was not, in itself, viable.
For whatever, or whyever, here she was, apparently in toto. Whether this was causing an even further increase in the power overload within the Utsulan must be investigated later.
Now, this Vulcan impinged upon her suddenly acquired senses. She bent her head back and back, her eyes seeking the termination of the buildings that stretched ever upward above her. While she had been joined in a psycho-meld with Spock, she had re-experienced a visit Spock and Kirk had made to a city that floated in the clouds held in that planet’s upper atmosphere by unimaginable anti-gray energies. The incredibility at which she was now gazing seemed also to be built in the sky like the Earth fairy-tale, ‘live happily ever after’ castle. Even though Sherrith knew this city to be anchored within the rocky grasp of Vulcan’s sheerest mountain, this wondrous citadel was a fragment of a Dream of Joy. Its spires and turrets sang of forgotten beauty and long lost rhythms. The architect’s vision was this Vulcan’s la citta eterna.
Sherrith felt that she could study the aesthetic cadence of cascading domes above her for the next century and not repeat her thoughts. Then, abruptly, her rapt attention was jerked from the architectural wonder above her in uncontrollable response to the Voice she now heard.
"T’rieth, I was unaware that you were among the ambassadorial legation now taking rest-leave on Vulcan. I could wish you had contacted my family. We would have enjoined your stay in fellowship." Like a rain of confetti, memory fragments drifted down upon Sherrith’s mind. Swiftly, she assimilated the who and what this T’rieth contained. She could only surmise that the beingness of her alternate in this existence-plane had been ripped from this body and thrust into hers which was presumably still climbing the sides of the great mountain upon whose summit she now stood in another time. When her T’Uriamne and the Council procession reached this summit, they would find only half-buried ruins of the ephemeral Vulcan glory that was revealed before her. Apparently,
Sherrith-T’rieth had miscalculated. She had not expected a personality-exchange since it had not occurred before when her Spock had met his alternate within this universe.
The waiting pause was drawing out between them since this Spock had ceased speaking. "I . . I was unaware that . . you had resigned Starfleet Service. When we . . . we . . . met . . . before, you were . . . captain of the __Enterprise__. Now you are . . . a . . Commodore?" She knew that in this universe, James T. Kirk had been killed, but nevertheless, she was having difficulty correlating the reality of her own plane with the pseudo-reality of this one.
Seemingly altering the subject, ‘Spock’ asked, "How are the Sleeth negotiations progressing?" With a definite feeling of desperation, Sherrith-T’rieth integrated the past of another Self. This T’rieth had not come from Earth’s past, but had been born a telepath. T’rieth had been ‘found’ in a rehab colony by an inspection ship manned by Vulcans. It would take further probing to learn exactly why, but this T’rieth’s powers had been not only unrecognized, but suppressed during her girlhood. As a result, she had inadvertently murdered four people. The Vulcans had adopted her and trained her mind. As an adult, she had opted for Starfleet Service and been assigned to that select group of ‘trouble-shooters’ who conducted negotiations between especially difficult aliens and the UFP. T’rieth’s specialty was telepathic societies. She had met Spock two Vulcan years before, during the beginning of the Sleeth problem.
Spock was continuing, "When we met before, I was unusually unreceptive. But, even so I retain mental pleasure concerning the rapport we shared, even briefly." Sherrith-T’rieth realized that she was receiving unguarded mental tremors this particular memory aroused in ‘Spock.’ Now, she found the cause. The Sleeth were powerful mental adepts. In their society, the most powerful mind controlled, and war was waged upon the unseen protective walls of the brain. This way of using the mind was an obscenity upon her own Vulcan, but in this universe, forced-mind-control was well known. Apparently, this James Kirk had been a latent telepath also, but he had confronted, unguarded, the terrible mind-death of the Sleeth. His unconscious barriers had been ripped and slit; unfortunately, this ‘Spock’ had been unable to save his captain from telepathic insanity and its subsequent slow death. Now Sherrith-T’rieth felt the hurting remorse and regret that this ‘Spock’ was emanating. She was so unused to any unconscious revelations from Spock that she felt a shock-rigor ripple over her body as she realized that this ‘Spock’ held himself in deep disgust because he blamed himself for his captain’s death and also believed himself to be as a psi-null genetically deformed.
Sherrith-T’rieth tried to cover her mental confusion with an ad-lib, "Well, the negotiations are progressing as fast as could be expected; however, I think it will require another year at least before even preliminary treaties are signed." Because her mind was so divisive, she was suddenly sucked into a partial meld with this alternate ‘Spock.’ Instantly, she knew what the Kirk of her universe had realized. This ‘Spock’ was not psi-null. He simply had never been taught even the rudiments of the Vulcan Way. His parents had made the mistake of deciding that since he was slow developing, he was deformed. This ‘Spock’ had all the mental potential that her Spock had had.
Suddenly, Sherrith-T’rieth felt an abrupt alteration in the varied emanations she had been receiving from this Spock’s unguarded mind. When she swiftly glanced up into his face, he was smiling, or rather he had drawn his lips back from his teeth. A snarl? With all the terrible strength she knew Vulcans possessed, Spock gripped her around the waist and literally pulled her behind an enormous 70 foot high shrub screen. Even the red sun itself did not reach down into the shadowed pathway.
"T’rieth, qelah, how I have missed you. When I needed to find myself, after my captain’s death, you were there. I have always resented, hated, my human ancestry and the great deficiency it produced within my Being. Your body has taught me the Joys of humanity. When you met me here, in this recess, I knew we would join again, this time forever. I will not allow you to be separate from me again."
As he spoke, Spock began to kiss her eyes, neck, and the gentle swell of her breasts. Sherrith-T’rieth felt as if her mind were a balloon enlarging to explosion point. This visible world was reeling as she attempted to preserve Herself from the being-shell of T’rieth, and this alternate ‘Spock’ from the Spock who was her husband. They were so very enticingly similar. Before she could prevent it, her arms wound around this Spock’s neck. His weight was inexorably bearing her to the ground. His unsheathed passion was feeding into her disoriented mind and her pulse began to pound as a greedy flame licked its way between them. In another few moments, he would possess her completely, and not only would she not prevent it, but she would not even desire to do so.
Somewhere, the knowledge surfaced that she had found no memories of an affair with Captain Spock within the shell of T’rieth which she had occupied. A stubborn part of her insisted that some mental residue of such an emotional experience occurring when both of them had been in a state of Soul-Pain would remain.
Like cold water on a conflagration, came the realization that this Spock had sensed or noticed some discrepancy, and had chosen this drastic method of discovering why his memory-facts of T’rieth did not exactly correlate with the image of T’rieth which Sherrith presented and had somehow altered.
"Spock, Spock!" she began.
Then, as if to confirm her discovery, ‘Spock’ moved with swift fluidity. He clasped one of her wrists and pushed it up and back. With his other arm bent, he hit her just under the
collarbone and forced her body to bend in a painful arc out over the low retaining wall behind them. It took all her hard-won self-control not to scream.
"You are not T’rieth. Her eyes were yellow-gold. Yours are green, and they glow. I remember the results of the Galaxy-barrier. You are an unknown and very powerful psi-adept. What have you done with T’rieth? Where is she: Speak quickly or you will never speak again. The truth . . . or you die here and now."
Sherrith-T’rieth’s breath was hot and ragged. Her voice was a croak, at best. "Please . . . D’mekp’Tr’Fee’Y, lliisstteenn, hheeaarr mmee . . ."
She had taken a chance on the unity of primary names, as well as her mental dart to break through the red haze that engulfed this ‘Spock’s’ mind. Often, she had wondered idly what her Beloved would be like without his inbred restraints. Now, she had a good idea. ‘Spock’s’ visage was thrust close to her face, his lips drawn back in a feral snarl, eyes slitted, body rock-tense. She was only one wink away from violent death. The build-up of unreleased emotional pain had bludgeoned ‘Spock’ into this force-release.
Then, like severed ropes whose flesh-cutting bind were unexpectedly dissolved, ‘Spock’ released her body so that the counterforce of her resistance literally threw her onto the paving stones. His voice came and went as she fought for consciousness and wind.
"My Realm One Primary Name! Not even Jim knew it; not even my mother could pronounce it correctly. You have invaded my . . ."
"No, Spock," Sherrith-T’rieth gasped. "I only hoped yours would be identical to another’s . . . your alternate whom you have already confronted. I am his . . . wife."
The physical freedom she felt was nothing compared to the withdrawal of mental pressure from the ‘psi-null.’ Fleetingly, she thought, if he’s psi-null, I’m a Rigellian Blood Worm.
Rigid as a corpse, this ‘Spock’ stood, obviously carefully containing his energy-flows. With the passage of several moments, he said, "Explain." The harshness of his voice grated on her mental nerves
Knowing words would involve too much time, Sherrith brushed her finger-tips along his temples. Just that easily, she established a level-one link. With the no-time of mind-speech she transferred all relevant facts from her mind into his. Somewhere within her brain-tiers, she wondered that this ‘Spock’ had existed so long. He was so open and unprotected against even the most elementary mind weaponry. Nonetheless, his first comment surprised.
"So, I am not psi-null."
She nearly doubled into fetal position under the gamut of unrestrained Vulcan-Human emotion that enveloped her. Regret, pain, anger, hate, love. The deadly precipitation of feeling nearly overwhelmed her like a stormy sea submerging a poor swimmer. So this was what the untaught invasion of a sending-mind was like.
Again, she wondered at the odd sort of control that this Spock did possess. He had erased all signs of passion and sexual arousal that had momentarily fooled her only fleeting moments before. But, could she have been so mistaken? No. She quickly played back her memory tape. This Spock was ‘in love’ with T’rieth. Absently, she apologized to the rigid Mind of the Affirmed of the other Vulcan for using such emotion-laden human terms, but this Spock was very human in many ways, and somehow, coupling him with the imprecise concept of ‘love’ was not totally inapplicable.
Spock’s words interrupted her thoughts. "Yes. The alternate-reduction pattern is recognizable now. I will aid you, Sherrith of the other Vulcan, and you, in turn, shall aid me. During the following moments, Spock stood motionless. So like an ‘in-construct contemplation’ was his whole attitude that Sherrith almost expected him to steeple his long fingers in the other Vulcan’s outward symbol of inward thought. At last, he spoke again, "This explains much. Now, I understand my T’Uriamne’s gradual withdrawal. Her Selfness is being sucked out into her alternate in your universe. The energy-boundaries that normally lock the paralleling planes of existence apart are gradually merging. The very fact that you were able to cross into this universe with minimal energy output and rip T’rieth from her own body to take her place is an indication of grave danger. The nexial balances must be restored to norm-level immediately. Otherwise . . . ."
Sherrith had also reached the same terrifying conclusion, and she voiced the awesome finality, ". . . otherwise, your universe and mine will merge completely in a galactic cataclysm of total destruction."
(RBW Note. Drawing of James Kirk.)
Utter silence had reigned over the Bridge of the __Enterprise__ for the previous quarter standard-hour. Silence, that is, except for the usual bleeps, humming vibrations, and the clacking of continuous computer readouts, all of which marked the function-norm of a starship.
James T. Kirk sat in the central command chair in a relaxed slump. Sulu and Chekhov monitored the navigation console, and Spock was holding his usual bent position over the hooded viewer that was feeding him reams of Sciences’ scanning data. Although Spock’s immediate attention was totally occupied with the information he and the Library Computer were receiving, he nevertheless had not forgotten that feathery mental brush his barriers had noted 3.75 standard hours before. The careful training which had forged his tremendous mind had also taught him to let the lower level of consciousness assimilate relevant facts at its own speed whenever the conscious mind drew a blank. Finally, the conclusion of his subconscious surfaced.
Spock suddenly straightened, drawing the attention of his Captain.
"A problem, Spock?"
"No, Captain. Not the kind you mean. No unusual data concerning this Spatial Void Parameter we are mapping. However, I request a conference with you in my quarters."
"Right now, Spock?"
"Yes, sir. Immediately."
As the whoosh of the automatic doors sounded behind him, Kirk advanced into the usually off-limits quarters of his First Officer and adopted brother. Absently, he noted that many objects which had seemed so alien to him during previous visits, now had been transformed into symbols of Home. Kirk paused before Spock’s Idlomputt, momentarily mesmerized by the gentle rhythm of the controlled flames. Then Spock emerged from behind the coiled grill that divided the sitting room from the sleeping quarters. Kirk broke the song of memory that the Idlomputt had begun in his mind with a visible effort. As a reminiscent smile lifted his lips, he asked lazily, "So, Spock, what’s the problem?" Kirk ran his fingers absently over the taut lines of the hanging lytherette. Then, Kirk realized that Spock had not spoken, nor had he moved for several minutes. This behavioral anomaly jerked Kirk out of the pleasant past into the pulling present.
Spock spoke with unusual deliberation even for him, "S’chames, hours ago, my mind sustained a brief, distant mental contact. I have since determined that the minimal mind contact was initiated by my wife."
Kirk quickly raised a sharpened gaze to the face of his First Officer. As usual, Spock’s expressionless face told him nothing, even though Kirk was becoming quite skilled at reading subtleties in Vulcan visages. What Kirk did know was that Spock had more to relate. As the silence lengthened, he finally prompted, "What’s really bothering you?"
Spock raised one slanting eyebrow until it merged with the dark line of his bangs. Even without any help from his recently developed telepathic abilities, Kirk had often surprised his First Officer with unusual flashes of insight. Spock filed the quality of intuition away in the ‘to be investigated later’ drawer in his mind.
"Correct, Captain. Twice since the mind of my wife brushed mine, I have experienced definite interludes of vertigo accompanied by sensory disorientation. The second of these experiences occurred on the Bridge one quarter of a standard-hour ago. At that moment, I seemed to be in a large room, seated before an unfamiliar though complex machine. I have analyzed the available, though scanty, data. Apparently, I was forced into a brief link," Spock paused in a manner that would have indicated hesitation in a human, "with my alternate who once kidnapped you."
"Spock, are you sure?" Kirk was so caught by surprise that he uttered this absolutely useless question before he could stop himself. His brother’s reaction was predictable. Though he made no bodily movement, his voice-tone was an elaborate shrug.
"Of course, Captain." In a flat voice, Spock continued, "These facts are not causing me real concern. However, what I sensed during that brief link cannot be easily dismissed."
Kirk’s body unconsciously tensed as if preparing itself for an expected blow, but he asked the necessary question anyway, "What’s really happening, Spock?"
"To be precise, Jim, I have no factual basis for what I nevertheless know to be true. Spock’s use of the human pronunciation of his first name, as well as the admission that facts were lacking were grave indications to Kirk. His brother spoke slowly as if choosing his words with care.
"Something is terribly amiss with the energy-boundaries that keep the two universes separate. The information I gleaned is fragmentary, but I do know that both T’Uriamne, my sister, and her alternate, Sherrith, the Beom Utsulan, and some Pre-Reform deadly Top of World ceremony
are involved. The exact quantitative relationships of these parts are as yet unknown to me. However, I am concerned that the link I shared with my alternate bordered on a personality exchange. Had the brief meld extended any longer, you would have discovered a different Spock on the Bridge of this __Enterprise__."
"Could that Spock be deliberately attempting to exchange bodies with you, since his kidnapping of me failed?"
"Unlikely, Captain. Had that been the purpose of my alternate, he had the power to have made the exchange permanent. Instead, he forced a link that he must have known would put me on guard. No. I believe that he was attempting an information transmission. However, due to that ‘Spock’s’ unfamiliarity with meld-speech, all I was able to learn were non-specific facts and vague feelings. My overall impressions can be described with one word, ‘Danger.’ Imminent, deadly danger on a cosmic scale."
Such hyperbolic language was never employed by Spock unless the problem was every bit as bad as his words indicated. At one time, Kirk would have quoted their current communications-blackout orders to his First Officer and reminded him that these orders overrode all else. However, Kirk had recently come to realize to what enormous degree the UFP was human-oriented, and how often Starfleet Command made little or no allowance for the cultural and personal needs of its non-human personnel. But, this time, if Spock’s suspicions were right, and Kirk was positive they were, the problem developing on both Vulcans was of galactic import. Kirk spoke, "Spock, is Sherrith’s life in actual danger?"
Again, Spock knew fleeting surprise that his brother had incised the heart of his concern. "Yes, S’chames. Her survival probabilities are very low . . . almost zero."
Kirk knew better than anyone else how closely his First Officer’s life depended on the success of this, his fourth and final bonding. If Spock was forced to endure another Severance, he would be as good as dead. Besides, Kirk’s intuition that was so puzzling to his adopted brother, told him that Spock was as close to truly ‘loving’ Sherrith, in the all-consuming way, as his mixed ancestry and Vulcan training allowed. And, as a period adds finality to a sentence, Sherrith had totally cemented the relationship by bearing Spock the son of his body that he had wanted for so long.
In a rare gesture of concern, Kirk gripped Spock’s shoulder. "What do you believe to be the most logical course of action?" Although Kirk could observe no worry or trauma in his brother, he knew the use of the word ‘logic’ would hone Spock’s mind to maximum sharpness, just in case any unconscious feelings had made unknown inroads.
To Kirk’s amazement, Spock did not answer his question. Finally, he said, "I do not know exactly what to do. The developing situation will have climaxed and concluded during the days which would be required to reach Vulcan, even if the __Enterprise__ abandoned its mission immediately and held course for my planet at maximum warp."
Kirk opened his mouth to inform Spock that he would order the navigator to lay in a course for Vulcan, useless or not, when his attention was caught by the rigid stance of his First Officer. The words died unspoken. Then before he could make even a minimal move, Kirk saw his adopted brother simply fade out like dispersing smoke. A second later, Kirk stood where Spock had been a moment before. Nothing. With clenched fists and taut voice, Kirk yelled orders into the nearby intercom that would send the __Enterprise__ hurtling through space - destination Vulcan.
Sherrith stood stiffly beside her husband’s alternate. How alike they are, she thought as she observed this Spock’s fingers flying over the impossibly complicated console of a machine that rose nearly three stories to abut the domed ceiling of this centrex room of this Vulcan’s Space Center. For a few moments, Sherrith was almost hypnotized by the patterned blinking of innumerable lights. Spock’s voice broke into her unhappy thoughts. "The first spatial position has been established. Your husband will materialize here within four minutes."
"Good. Now you must send me back as we planned. We must get T’rieth back into her own physical shell."
"Sherrith, if I send you back now, they will execute you."
"Spock, you know there is no choice. Five minutes more and the exchange will be permanent, and she will die in my Place. I cannot allow that."
"But, if I send you back now, you will not survive long enough for this difficult transportation of your husband to accomplish its purpose. If you die, he dies. I suggest you wait until I materialize him here."
"No. No one else shall die because of me. Spock will survive. I know it. If nothing else, he has his son to live for." Swiftly, Sherrith stepped close to this virtually identical surrogate of ‘He-whom-she-would-always-love.’ Lightly, she caressed the hard planes of his face with her fingertips. She watched the muscles in his jaw clench. As he was to her Spock, so she
was to his T’rieth.
"Return me now, my echo of Love." The alternate Spock swiftly pressed a careful pattern of glowing buttons as if even the tiniest pause would make him abandon this course of action entirely.
Sherrith would allow herself to hold no illusions. As the room faded out around her, she caroled a mental farewell to all that she held dear, and even to Life, itself.
Reality materialized as a sensory cloak and Sherrith found herself standing in the exact center of a large, smoothly-surfaced square. Without conscious volition, her mind made the obvious comparison between the sacrificial area on which she stood and Table Rock, that Indian ceremonial stone she had known and loved so well, back in her own 20th century, on Earth. Belatedly, Sherrith noticed the energ-locked golden manacles that encircled her wrists. The magnetic field surrounding the chains forced her arms to stand stiffly away from her body. T’Uriamne stood several feet away in the process of reciting once more the charges against her. The members of the Daughters’ Council had positioned themselves in a rough square following the uneven shape of the Sacrificial Rock on whose center Sherrith stood. Each of the surrounding Vulcans held a drawn version of the incredibly ancient R’kif, a mixture between the old Earth long and cross-bows. Each of the R’kif had a bow shaped roughly like a hand harp, though approximately four times larger; holding the two ends sharply bent upwards was a stringed bolt. The shaft of the R’kif, corresponding to an arrow, was about two meters in length and had smooth, highly-polished silver sides. One end was precisely pointed, the other was slightly flattened with a crescented, concave curve that notched it into the string-bolt, though at a perpendicular angle to the bow. The deeply curving lower half of the bow, below the bolt, was ornately carved. Thus, the R’kif, like so many other Vulcan artifacts, represented a union of opposites. A deadly weapon was also a thing of rare beauty.
As her eyes roved around the encircling Vulcans, Sherrith thought she was beginning to get a very disquieting idea of the methodology behind this ancient ceremony. With grim amusement, she tried to imagine herself as the first human porcupine. For a brief second, Sherrith wished herself back into the safe body of T’rieth. Then, mentally she shook herself, and admitted honestly that she hoped that other Spock would find the satisfaction if not happiness he had sought so desperately with T’rieth. Sherrith wished she could have been able to explain and apologize to her alternate for the almost unforgivable offense of stealing her body, no matter how seemingly justified. As her gaze rested on the rigid figure of T’Uriamne, Sherrith sent up a silent prayer to the Powers-That-Be that the alternate Spock would destroy his trans-dimensional machinery in time to break the energy overload flow supplied by the Beom crystal before the two T’Uriamnes as well as their respective universes merged and destroyed each other.
As if the cosmos were responding to her thoughts, the whole world seemed to strangely darken. For a timeless millisecond, Sherrith thought she stood on a city square with the chalcedony turrets and domes of Top of World cascading endlessly above and around her. The Council executioners were obscurely overlaid with the richly-clad, hurrying forms of aristocratic Vulcans. Two T’Uriamnes stood before her like a strange episode of double vision.
Sherrith staggered as she once more found herself bathed in the hot red sunlight, and buffeted by the howling winds that whipped dust into endless shapes across the ancient but empty site of what was once the ruling city of Vulcan. Almost, Sherrith could see dust-shrouded forms just out of her line of sight. Everything was wavering like an unsteady example of the desert’s best mirage. Seeing the unwavering faces still surrounding her with drawn R’kif, Sherrith wondered if she were hallucinating. No. Perhaps, though she was the only one who realized the dreadful significance of what had just occurred. Silently, she tried to will the other Spock to act now.
Suddenly, a series of events piled up disaster like the finest contrivance of an author’s plot. Out of the corner of her eye, Sherrith saw one of the younger Council members lose his balance as a particularly strong surge of wind hit him a walloping buffet. As he let go of his R’kif shaft with one hand in order to break his fall, the long, shimmering missile arched high into the red-gold sun.
With one of her rare flashes of precognition, Sherrith knew what was going to happen. She remembered the old story of the king who was slain by ‘an arrow drawn at a venture.’ T’Uriamne had stepped closer to her, and was once again giving her an opportunity to rely upon her alien status and evade the consequences of this deadly ceremony. Sherrith knew that T’Uriamne was actually hoping that her brother’s wife would use her great mental abilities in some illegal or obscene fashion.
Sherrith acknowledged this and sized up the probabilities all in a moment that stood outside of the relentless passing of Time. Then, she acted. Sherrith literally sprang forward, manacled hands outstretched. Her palms hit T’Uriamne full in the stomach, forcing her breath out in a loud gasp. The force of the blow knocked T’Uriamne backward. She took several back steps, trying to keep her balance, and then fell, landing on her backside with a clearly audible thump.
Equally audible was the thunk of the silver shaft hitting Sherrith’s body. It entered her back just below the shoulder blade and protruded several inches between her fourth and fifth ribs, under her left breast. Somewhere from within a black haze of pain, Sherrith morosely admitted that she had miscalculated. The shaft should have passed between T’Uriamne and herself. Trying to somehow staunch the bright, swift flow of arterial blood, Sherrith pressed her hand around the shafthead. Like slow motion film she fell to her knees, and then fully forward to lie like an abandoned and broken toy, still in the center of the great Rock of Sacrifice. An ominous scarlet stain could almost have been mistaken for a shadow cast by the bloody Vulcan sun beneath her sprawled body.
To Sherrith’s glazing eyes, it seemed that the entire world darkened once again. Death’s forefinger, she thought. However, what she could not see was the odd behavior of T’Uriamne. As she ungracefully regained her feet, T’Uriamne was violently shaking her head. She acted like someone in the blinding grip of a nightmare impossible to elude. Carefully, she appeared to be absorbing the surrounding scene as if she were seeing it for the first time. Such a look of utter and total horror was rarely to be observed upon a Vulcan countenance. Quickly, T’Uriamne walked to and knelt beside Sherrith’s motionless form. As if the gesture were half unconscious, T’Uriamne placed her spread fingers in a meld-grasp along the side of Sherrith’s unconscious face. Like fluttering butterfly wings, Sherrith’s eyes opened, consciousness briefly restored with the aid of T’Uriamne’s added strength. Hoarsely, she croaked.
"T’Uriamne, sorry . . . for . . . miscalculation. Universes had to be . . . restored to . . . balance. Please . . . we . . . I never meant any harm to . . . Tsaichrani. Tell Spock . . . I . . . love . . . . ." Sherrith’s eyes closed with ominous finality.
T’Uriamne’s attention was abruptly caught by an unfamiliar buzzing sound. In a rain of copper-green, the familiar figure of her brother materialized with painful slowness. Then he was undeniably solid, and striding with his long legs toward her and the vanishing being that was Sherrith. With his usual computer speed, Spock sized up the strange situation he beheld, correlated it with what he already knew, and, acted. As if he had no joints, Spock seemed to collapse in a nondescript huddle on the other side of Sherrith’s body. He wasted no precious moments on recriminations or requests for explanations. Instead, he joined the not inconsiderable power of his mind with that of His sister in a final attempt to save Sherrith from encroaching death.
Somewhere, within a deep level of his brain, Spock realized with vague surprise that this was the first time that he and T’Uriamne had been united in anything. Subtly, he stiffened and ‘went-within,’ seeking Sherrith’s dying mind. He seemed to be running down a murky, indefinite tunnel, chasing a flickering light that remained just out of reach. With the freedom of dreams the light changed into the brightly clad form of his wife. Now, he too felt the seduction of whatever awaited them at the end of the tunnel. As he clasped ‘Sherrith’ in his arms, she struggled to pull away. It took all the mental discipline he possessed, but Spock forced them both to remember the nights of their Oneness, the Days-of-Joining. Their bodies locked, they rocked back and forth, fighting the incredibly ancient nemesis of Life itself. Whether he was losing or winning was unknown.
Abruptly, Spock found himself once more kneeling beside the prostrate body of his wife. At the final moment of struggle, he had felt a definite power boost - T’Uriamne.
The minutes now seemed to pass so slowly that entire galaxies could be birthed and shudder into finality within the space of each second. Like the farthest echoes of what was or could have been, the once-upon-a-time lines teletyped through his mind, "To risk all upon one turn of Pitch and Toss, and lose, and start again at your beginnings, and never breathe a word about your loss." No. He would never breathe a word, because he would be dead himself, forever at one with his ‘mate-for-all-time.’
Then, like a grinding voice from the dead, Sherrith spoke, "Die? You die, Spock? Nonsense. Really, you are exhibiting far too much emotion for a Kataytikh. Tell him, T’Uriamne."
Key to numbering system:
(RBW Note. The following short section is in two columns.)
aI stories coming before I
I main series stories
AI stories coming during a main series story
IA stories coming after a main series story
IA(1) stories coming after IA before IB
(column break, begin single column)
cI untitled, Joel Davis (?)
bI SUNDERED DUTIES. Zawacky, Deneroff & Bielowitz (KC VI)
aI IMMOVABLE OBJECT, Morgan Ives
I SPOCK’S AFFIRMATION, Lichtenberg (KC I)
AI untitled, Jan Snyder (?)
IA SHEALKU, Lichtenberg (KC I)
IB ZYETO, Lichtenberg (KC I)
IC YEHAENA, Lichtenberg (unwritten)
ID A MATTER OF PRIORITY, Anna Mary Hall (KC I)
IE THE LESSON, (outline only, see Kraith Creator’s Manual #1)
IF SSARSUN’S ARGUMENT, Lichtenberg (KC II)
IG THE WAY HOME, Anna Mary Hall
IH T’ALYEN -- A CHRISTMAS STORY Theresa Holmes
II SPOCK’S MISSION, Lichtenberg (KC I)
II(1) LEARNING EXPERIENCE, Jean Sellar (KC III)
IIA T’ZOREL, Lichtenberg (KC I)
IIB THE DISAFFIRMED, Ruth Berman (KC I)
IIC OPERATION TRANSPLANT, Lori Dell (KC VI?)
IID unwritten but reserved, Ruth Berman
IIE INITIATIVE, Lichtenberg (KC IV)
IIF NI VAR, Claire Gabriel (sold to Bantam Books for ST: The New Voyages) There is a Kraith version for which Jacqueline Lichtenberg wrote a scene, somewhat different from the Bantam version, yet they won’t let us publish it.
IIF(1) KIRK BEAMS DOWN, Lichtenberg
IIG DIANA, Pat Osborne (first draft only)
BIII TO BE APART, Ellie Bach
AIII THE TANYA ENTRY, Pat Zotti (KC I)
III SPOCK’S ARGUMENT, Lichtenberg (KC I)
III(1) THE OBLIGATION/THROUGH TIME AND TEARS, Lichtenberg & Winston (KC III)
IIIA FEDERATION CENTENNIAL, Lichtenberg (KC II)
IIIA(1) unwritten but reserved, Lichtenberg
IIIB SECRET OF GROSKIN, Lichtenberg (KC III)
IIIC COUP DE GRACE, Lichtenberg (KC III)
IIIC(1) COUP DE PARTIE, Ruth Berman (KC III)
IIID JH’NFREYA, Lynn & Goldstein
IIIE OPERATING MANUAL, Anna Mary Hall (KC VI)
IIIF THE GALLILEO AFFAIR, Sr. Leo Frances (may be renumbered IIIA(2) )
IIIG WHAT ARE TELEPATHS MADE OF, Morgan Ives
IIIH A HOUSE DIVIDED, Zawacky & Deneroff
IV SPOCK’S NEMESIS, Lichtenberg (KC III)
IVA THE SAFRIK FILE, Paula Smith
IVB THE SELET FILE, Beverly Clark
AV BONES’S VISION, Eileen Roy
V SPOCK’S DECISION, Lichtenberg (KC IV)
VA CHRISTINE’S DECISION, Sharon Emily
VA(1) ONE FINGERED SYMPHONY, Eileen Roy
VB reserved but unwritten, Eileen Roy
VC reserved but unwritten, Connie Faddis
VD SPOCK’S PILGRIMAGE, Lichtenberg (KC IV)
VE THE MAZE, Joan Winston (KC VI)
VI AN EDIFICE OF VALUE, Lichtenberg
VII SPOCK’S CHALLENGE, Lichtenberg
VIIA T’URIAMNE’S DECISION, Sondra Marshak
VIIB H’L’VINGREY, Lichtenberg
VIII SPOCK’S MEMORY, Lichtenberg
THE SATHERIK AFFAIR, Theresa Holmes, lingerdeath series, unnumbered
"Jim," said Dr. McCoy, leaning over the captain’s desk, "how far are we from Vulcan?"
Captain Kirk looked up from his paperwork. "You don’t mean . . . ." McCoy nodded meaningfully. "But the last time was only--five years ago," Kirk objected.
"Five and a half, almost six, Jim. His cycle may not be all that regular. Besides, Spock said it was at __most__ every seven years." The doctor took the chair at the side of the table.
"Bones, are you sure?" Kirk leaned over the desk at McCoy.
"Yes, I’m sure. He’s been acting jumpy as hell for the past week, and I called him in on an examination." McCoy sighed. "The same readings as last time, Jim. You’ve got to get him to Vulcan."
Kirk sat silently, staring past the doctor, his jaws clenched. "McCoy," he said at last, "this mission has sent us farther into the galactic center than anyone has ever gone before. Out here, our maximum warp is four. It would take us more than a month just to get back to the Federation boundary." He looked at the doctor without expression. "We can’t do it."
"Then Spock is dead," McCoy answered grimly and folded his arms.
"No," Kirk said softly. "Bones, I’ll do what I can do." He leaned his head on his left hand, pinching his brows. McCoy stared at him for a moment, then abruptly left his chair. At the door, the doctor halted. "Jim--."
Kirk waved him off. "I know. I know. I’ll do everything I can, Bones." At that, McCoy left.
Kirk switched on the intercom. "Bridge, this is the Captain. Lieutenant Uhura, have Mr. Spock come to my quarters." He settled back to wait for the Vulcan.
Shortly, the door signal buzzed. "Come," called the captain, and the door slid back to admit the first officer. Spock strode to the center of the room and stopped. "Yes, Captain?" His voice was thicker, definitely not normal.
Kirk rose from his chair and walked over to the Vulcan. He studied his friend’s eyes, unusually widened, noticed the too fast breathing. "Spock . . . ." he said, placing one hand on his shoulder. The first officer turned his face away. "Spock," Kirk repeated, more insistently. "What can I do to help?"
"Sir?" Spock straightened.
"McCoy told me," the captain replied gently.
Spock hesitated, then mumbled, still avoiding Kirk’s eves. "There is nothing that can be done."
Pushing on Spock’s shoulder short and hard, Kirk brought Spock’s face back around to him. "There is __always__ something that can be done, mister," he said sharply. More gently, "Always another alternative." He waited for Spock to answer.
"I know of none," Spock said at last, his voice weak. Kirk dropped his hand from the Vulcan and turned away.
The captain wiped his dampening hands on his cheeks, exhaled through his fingers. Then he dropped his hands and bowed his head. "Spock," he said slowly, "I am willing . . . to fight--to challenge you--again. If that will help." Kirk swallowed, hoping to settle his contracting stomach.
"__No__, Captain," Spock said, startled. Kirk turned his head around. The Vulcan spoke more loudly, with conviction. "I will find a--a third way." Lifting his head, Spock walked out of the room.
As the door zipped shut, Kirk sighed deeply in relief and collapsed into the chair by the side of the desk.
"Christine." Nurse Chapel set down the __in__ __vitro__ culture she had been classifying, and spun around to see Mr. Spock standing in the entryway of the laboratory. "May I speak with you privately?" he said.
"Well, of course, Mr. Spock," Chapel replied, her fingers fluttering at her hair, and she
snapped the note recorder off. "Is there anything I can do for you?" she asked eagerly.
Spock stepped slowly into the lab, his hands folded in front of his diaphragm. Staring at the floor half a meter on the nurse’s right, Spock began. "Christine. Once you said--that you were in love with me. At that time, I could not re--return your feeling." Keeping his head down, he paced before the nurse. "But now, I find that--I need you, Christine. I need you to--" he forced out the word, "__love__ me." He stopped and looked up to her. "Do you still want me?"
"Oh, Mr. Spock," Chapel cried, tears building in her eyes. "Oh, Mr. Spock," and she flung her arms around his neck, her tears pouring now, onto his tunic.
"‘Spock’ will suffice, under the circumstances," he suggested, hesitantly touching a yellow curl.
"Do you know how __long__ I’ve dreamed of this?" Chapel sobbed.
"Yes. Six point nine seven standard years," he answered gently.
Chapel pulled her wet face away from his chest, blinking. "Oh, Mist--oh, Spock!" and fell back onto him.
"Come." Spock encircled her with one arm, and started to the door. Chapel pushed herself away in confusion. "R-right now? But--we aren’t married yet! The Captain has to--."
"Christine." Spock withdrew his arm from her torso and cradled Chapel’s face in his hands. His eyes changed, his voice hoarsened. "Know that thou art now __my__ __wife__ and so shalt remain til thy death or mine. I have said this to thee." His face came closer to hers. "And now, my wife, attend. I need thee."
Chapel shrank out of his hold. "Of course, Spock. I’ll be right along. Just a minute to change, and I’ll be right with you," she stammered, backing up until she hit the lab table.
Shuddering, Spock pulled himself back into Terran reality. "Of course, Christine," he answered calmly, yanking his tunic straight. "I shall await you in my quarters." He held out his right hand, the index and middle fingers extended. "Be quick. Please."
Hesitantly, Chapel stretched out her hand and laid her two fingers across his. "Certainly. I will be with you--I mean, __thee__--soon, my--my husband." She smiled happily at the last two words, then her chin began to quiver. Spock quickly turned away, and exited.
"My husband," Chapel repeated huskily, her tears falling ever faster. "Oh, Spock--!" Clumsily, she dabbed at her flooded eyes. "You do love me!"
"Spock?" Chapel called uncertainly from the doorway of the first officer’s stateroom. There was no answer, but she went in anyway, trailing the black, lacy cut negligee draped over her arm. Then she saw him, sitting silently before his firepot, oblivious of her presence. He was naked. Carefully, she laid the nightdress on the desk, and tiptoed toward him from behind. "Spock," she said lovingly, laying her hands on his shoulders. Spock twitched violently, losing the tension that had supported him. He stood up and away from the chair, staring at her hungrily. His penis was thick and extended, larger than Chapel had ever seen it before in any medical examinations. And it swelled still more even as she watched. His entire pelvic region rippled and pulsed, and grew a deeper, richer green.
"I’ll--I’ll go change, now," Chapel stammered, turning away. Her throat was very dry; she swallowed what saliva she could. As she reached for her gown, Spock stalked toward her, whirling her about with one hand, tearing at her waistband with the other. He kicked her legs out from under her, and she fell heavily onto the floor; Spock dropped on top of her. He rent the blue uniform from neck to skirt, laid it back, and ripped off the pants. "Please be gen--" Chapel gasped, as Spock rammed himself into her. She tore, and bled.
Kneeling between her legs, Spock shoved his hands under Chapel’s buttocks and lifted her in order to fit the angle of her vagina more closely to him. The nurse whimpered as he pounded farther and farther into her. "Open thy mind," he commanded, his eyes unfocused, stretching one hand to her temple and digging in with his fingers. He slammed his penis in harder; Chapel felt it swell again within her. "Open your mind!" Spock swung his other arm to her head. "__Open__ __your__ __mind__!"
Chapel grabbed onto his biceps. "I’m trying to," she cried, shifting under his groin to relieve some of the terrible pain. Above her, Spock’s white-encircled eyes burned fiercely; his gritted teeth showed. Then, suddenly, there was a painfully hot flood of liquid that seared her from inside and along down her bruised cunt; she shrieked, and Spock fell heavily onto her.
In the ensuing quiet, Chapel could hear her own heart labor loudly. She struggled out from under her motionless lover, tottered into the bathroom and retrieved a wet towel. With it, she swabbed both Spock and herself clean. She drew one of his arms over her neck, and dragged him to and into bed. In a moment, she had stripped off the shreds of her uniform, and pulled on the negligee; then she dropped onto the bed alongside Spock, and fell into an exhausted sleep.
When Chapel awoke, the dulled cramp in her womb was drowned by a little sun of knowledge
in her mind. Spock was hers! Propping herself up on one elbow, she regarded him tenderly. Next time he would he gentler, she knew; not that he had really meant to hurt her this time. Her hand hovered over his limp, unmoving body. "So long as ye both shall live," she whispered, and set it down lovingly on his breast.
He was cold.
(RBW Note. Drawing of Christine.)
(RBW Note. Blank light gray page, inside back cover)
(RBW Note. Blank light gray page, back cover)
End of Kraith Collected Volume 5
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