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Title: Leave No Soul Behind 7.4a, 10,912 (both parts a&b) words of 240,000+
Fandom: Star Trek XI, TOS references.
Characters: Kirk/Spock, ensemble, OCs.
Rating & Warnings: Strong R - slash, language, adult themes.
Spoilers: For the 2009 movie mostly.
Disclaimer: Fanfiction and fanfiction only, folks.
Betas: the_arc5



Chapter 7.4a



Chapter 7.4b


Aboard the Enterprise, Spock has mere seconds of relief as they slip beneath the Narada's shields and out of weapons contact. Almost instantly, the sensor board goes wild, the feed piped to his station and Skia's.

"Captain! The Red Matter!" The sensor tech shouts.

"I see it." Spock forces himself to remain calm. Jim was early, they were not in position. He does not even know if the tranporters are functional given the amount of damage the ship has suffered.

Nevertheless, he comms Engineering. "Mr. Spock, lock onto the away team beacon and energize!"

There is nothing but static on the air.

"Mr. Scott, respond!"

The line remains silent.

Chekov leaps to his feet before Spock draws breath to give the order. "I can do that!" he announces, waiting only long enough for Spock to nod in acknowledgement before racing for the express lift, the one that plummets into the bowels of the ship in seconds.

Spock grits his teeth against the rising panic and glances at the feed from Tactical. "Lieutenant Ho, resume fire on the Narada. Target weapons systems only."

"Aye, sir." Ashe's voice is strained but their phasers start up again almost immediately.

Spock watches the fiery display on the main viewer, pointedly ignoring the trickle of perspiration that runs down his spine. Sick with tension, he takes a deep breath in and out, grappling for perspective as the gravitational sensors fluctuate more wildly every passing second.


-:-


The Red Matter canister shatters on impact and Jim leaps over it, drawing on years of Point experience to avoid the flinch that delays everyone else. He's used to shit blowing up in his face. He makes it to Arrhae's side in three running strides, whisking her away from Nero by an arm around her waist. The distraction of her theft allows Eli to draw Nero's own weapon, cocking it instantly at his head and circling around into view.

Shaking with rage, Nero is torn between the first sucking pop of atmosphere entering the canister and the sight of his beloved wife held captive. "What have you done?" he screams, fists clenched impotently at his sides.

Eli circles around to stand with Jim and Arrhae, disruptor hand steady as a rock. "Take this," he says to Jim, passing him the transponder booster without looking.

Jim glances down at his hand and, realizing what's in it, tries to protest.

Eli steps neatly aside, circling back around to put distance between them. Clearly identifying him as more of a threat, all the disruptors in the room follow him, leaving Jim and Arrhae largely in the clear.

"Where do you store the future technologies?" Eli demands.

Nero chokes in disbelief. "We are all going to die here, and you wish to rob me?"

Eli takes a step forward, the disruptor held at eye level. "The future tech!" he shouts. "Now!"

The sight of a Vulcan in a rage is clearly distracting for everyone, because Jim manages to circle round to Prime without more than one or two disruptors following their movement. Even then, it is clear that not all Nero's lackeys share his enthusiasm for coming to an end in the crush of a singularity, because most eyes in the room are trained on the fractured canister. It has just started to whistle ominously as air enters the crack with increasing velocity.

Nero trembles with rage and panic, then suddenly calms, fingers uncurling at his side. "Get her off this ship," he demands. "Or I tell you nothing."

Jim catches Eli's desperate glance just as he kneels over Prime. He doesn't have a fucking clue what the crazy kid is doing, thinking of science at a time like this, but Prime reaches up, clasps bent fingers around Jim's calf.

"Do as he says."

Jim's in so deep now that following Prime's instructions seems as good a course of action as any. Still, he hasn't forgotten the plan he has with the other Spock, or the ticking time bomb of Red Matter he's unleashed mere klicks from the surface of the Earth. With an angry growl, and an internal apology to his Spock, he shoves the signal booster into the pocket of Prime's robe and activates it, drawing Arrhae into the field before stepping back.

"This tech, it better be diabolically important," Jim bitches, standing and stepping back out of range. "Because if I find out it poaches the perfect egg, I'm going to be really, really cranky."

"No..." Prime's eyes widen just as silver sparks engulf him and Arrhae. "Jim!"

They disappear off the deck and Kirk looks up to find himself in the midst of a very tense standoff. Eli has a gun to Nero's head, Nero's goons have their weapons trained on everybody, and the canister restraints are starting to bow under the pressure, plassteel be damned. Warily, Jim rises to his feet, hands raised.

"The way I see it," he begins, addressing the guards in the room. "The Vulcan and I are your best hope of getting out of here alive. You already know your boss has a death wish, so you can hang around here and be crushed to atoms, or you can give the Vulcan what he wants and we'll get you off this ship."

Hesitantly, a skinny Romulan guard, very senior by the look of him, steps forward. "Why would you help us?"

Jim gestures at the emblem on his EVA suit. "Emergency Personnel Ambulance Service," he recites. "We don't care why you need us, we just save lives."

"You are all tainted by the Rift, Ayel," Nero growls. "We must die together or doom this universe."

"Says you," Jim retorts, feeling the atmosphere in the room start to unbend. "And you're insane, so..."

One by one, the Romulans shift subtly. Nero's face flushes green with fury as the disruptors come to rest on him. Only two guards remain loyal and the senior guard, Ayel, shoots them both without hesitation. It is a clear and present reminder that these people are not allies, that their loyalty is fluid and cannot be trusted.

Jim turns to Eli. "We don't have much time."

The kid eyes the stressed canister, clearly torn between his objectives. Jim rationalizes it must be an incredibly important gadget to weigh in so heavily against the imminent birth of a singularity. The kid clenches his jaw and steps forward to press the barrel of the disruptor against Nero's skull.

"Defaehre aisha, vikra anhelae?" he demands.

Without Prime in his head, translating, Jim can't decipher the meaning, but he infers enough to get the gist. "I think he's serious about this."

"Vikra?" Eli shouts, twisting the weapon so he can stare into Nero's eyes.

Unfortunately, Jim realizes, with Arrhae out of immediate danger they have very little leverage. After all, Nero was hoping everything would get sucked into oblivion, so the longer he delays, the more chance there is that Arrhae may escape and his plan will still unfold as intended.

The smile that blossoms on Nero's face confirms Jim's suspicions just as Eli lowers the weapon with a huff of frustration, clearly having reached a similar conclusion.

"I will take you to it," Ayel says, out of nowhere.

Eli turns to him, new hope flaring in his eyes. "We have no time to lose."

"In return, you will take us all with you," Ayel insists, clearly suspicious. "Every single one, and we will be free to return to Romulus."

"Agreed," Jim promises, wondering how the hell he's going to swing that with Spock. "You have my word."

Ayel nods, barks out a few orders in Romulan and sets off into the bowels of the ship with Eli in tow. This leaves Jim and Nero staring it out across the whining hum of the rapidly disintegrating canister. A handful of anxious guards remain, weapons half cocked, unsure of the status quo.

Jim bends slowly and retrieves the phasers they'd taken from him, buckling them around his waist, reassured by their familiar weight.

"Every seconds brings us closer to an event horizon none of us can escape," Nero says conversationally, chillingly calm under the circumstances. "Arrhae, maybe, has a chance. I believe Spock grew to care for her somewhat over the weeks they spent together, preparing to restore her katra. How ironic, that my greatest enemy should unwittingly become the protector of the only thing I love."

Jim glances down at the canister. It has started to flex inward now, rather than expand outward. The science geek in him is strangely fascinated. He's essentially seeing the formation of a singularity in slow motion, the damaged containment field unable to maintain Red Matter stability, but still sufficiently intact to delay the inevitable.

When he looks up again, Nero is grinning.

"Tick, tick, tick."



-:-


In the Enterprise transporter room, Lieutenant Chekov's hands relax across the controls and he looks up, expecting to see a whole lot of Red Matter, or at the very least, the entire away team. Instead, the ancient Vulcan known as Sarek and a strange Romulan woman kneel on the pad.

"Oy..." he sighs. "This is a problem."


-:-


Inside the canister, the little bubble of Red Matter starts to tremble and Jim knows they're in trouble. "Eli, come in!" he calls, thumbing his comm. "Hurry it up, let's go!"

As if by magic, the young Vulcan bursts onto the scene at a dead run, something large and bulky tucked under his arm. He's followed by Ayel and a large cohort of guards. Galvanized, Jim starts backing away towards the maintenance hatch where, hopefully, T'Loren and Uhura are waiting for them.

"I know for a fact this ship has escape pods," he tells the rapidly increasing crowd of Romulans. "Get to them and launch immediately. Order your people to stop firing on Federation ships and the Enterprise will deploy her medevac shuttles and extract you."

"How do we know you won't simply shoot us out of the sky?" Ayel demands, fear in his eyes.

"It's your choice." Jim gestures at the small flashes of energy that now lick over the canister. "But I know where I'd rather be."

With that, he breaks into a sideways run, not quite trusting any of them enough to fully turn his back. Eli makes it to the hatch first, rapping on it in the pattern they'd agreed upon. A few split seconds pass before it releases with a click to reveal Uhura. When Jim unfolds on the other side, he realizes she's covered in green blood.

"Hurry," she says, already backing away, urging them on. "I don't know how long T'Loren can hold them off!"

"Sonofabitch!" Jim curses, because of course there's been no co-ordinated truce across the Narada; everyone has been too busy freaking out over his little stunt with the Red Matter.


-:-


It's apparent that if she'd been able, Ashe would have leaped to her feet in triumph. As it is, she slaps her fist down on the arm of her chair and lets loose a little whoop. "They're evacuating! Multiple escape pods launched, weapons systems inactive!"

Spock relaxes minutely into the center seat, nodding his understanding.

"Captain, I have a firing solution. Your orders?" Skia turns, awaiting a response.

For a second, Spock's vision almost whites out with the desire to eradicate every last trace of Nero from this universe. His fingers itch to sweep across the boards himself, his eyes burn to see them collapse into flame. Instead, he swallows, shakes his head. "Deploy medevac shuttles, Alpha and Beta rotations. All available staff make up crew complement where possible. Bring them in."

"Sir?" Skia responds, disbelieving.

Spock forces himself to take a breath, then another one. "You heard me, Technician. Our mission, where possible, is to preserve life." He glances pointedly around the bridge. "All life, regardless of race or affiliation. If there is to be a Federation after Nero, then it starts here, with us."

Ashe, in her role as Acting First Officer while Jim is deployed, nods fiercely. "Aye sir, understood. Weapons to defensive fire only."

"Communications?"

"Aye, Captain?" Hannity responds.

"Broadcast mayday on all channels. Perhaps there are some undamaged vessels willing to assist us."

"Yes, sir!"

Spock watches the black, bristling hull of the Narada skim past them, so close it feels like he could reach out and touch it. The gravitational sensors are still blaring out a warning and Jim is running out of time. They all are.


-:-


Jim, Uhura and Eli have to fight their way down the short corridor that leads to the small transporter pad. Jim tries yelling at the Romulans, trying to explain that Ayel is in charge and they've surrendered. Unsurprisingly, the Romulans choose to disbelieve him. With a twinge of regret, he bottles them up between their fire and T'Loren's until all that's left is a smoking heap of bodies and yet another memory to wake him in the night.

Eli swings his stolen disruptor around onto his back by the strap and makes straight for the transporter console. It's a smoking, damaged ruin and his hands hover over it for a second while he assesses the damage, then delve in with purpose.

T'Loren lies slumped against the platform, phaser rifle held in across her lap, apparently too heavy to lift at this point. Her chest is a gaping, sucking ruin of flesh and bone. Every breath begins with a gurgle and ends with a hiss of barely controlled pain.

"How the fuck did this happen?" Jim demands, falling to his knees and breaking open his thigh kit, scattering hypos and dressings on the floor with abandon.

"They ambushed us," Uhura says hurriedly, glancing away from her defensive position near the door. "She took the shot for me. Just stepped right into it."

Jim presses his hands against the relentless flow of green blood, knowing it's bad. T'Loren looks up at him, defeat in her eyes. "Why'd you have to go and be a hero?" he asks.

"Old habits...die hard," she gasps out, and Jim laughs despite the graveness of the situation, because that's the first time he's ever heard a human phrase pass her lips. But then her brow furrows and her body arches in pain, twisting her hips off the ground and causing a fresh torrent of blood to cascade over Jim's gloves.

"You never told me what you were doing on the Tat'sar," he says conversationally, trying to stem the flow with one hand while he wields hypos with the other.

T'Loren inclines her head to the left. "It was Elikh who convinced me."

He follows her nod, his eyes settling on Eli who has his work cut out for him with the slagged transporter console. "Elikh? From the Vulcan; that which is free?"

"No," the youngster says without looking up, stripping a piece of wiring with his teeth. "From the Hebrew, for ‘god.'" He does glance over then, twisting a circuit into place with a smile.

Jim turns back to T'Loren. "I don't know if you've noticed, but he's a bit strange for a Vulcan."

She coughs, face a blank mask even as her body begins to tremble. "I have informed him on many occasions."

Jim presses harder into the wound, but her pulse is barely a flutter under his palms now. All the packs he has are stuffed into the gory crater, but he can't get enough pressure on it and he can't clamp the bleeders. She's dying and they both know it. "Tell me what you need."

She lifts her head as though it weighs a ton. "Live long, and prosper James Kirk. It is all I ask."

He shifts a hand to grip one of hers, the pressure of both is largely pointless. It's an intimate gesture but her fingers cling gratefully, slick and sticky green. "I'm sorry."

"No. It is I who should apologize. She shrugs slightly, the effort clearly costing her. "Every day since Vulcan has seemed a year, so perhaps I am old and this is my time."

"No," Eli corrects her gently, coming to crouch beside them. "You are a warrior, and your sacrifice will be honored."

She blinks up at him, fading fast. "You, at least, saw me as I might have been...for what I could have achieved. You have my gratitude."

"Nash-veh vokau du, T'Loren, u'du i'tra, vahk eh pthak-fam," he soothes, reaching for her other hand.

She dies holding onto them both, slipping away quietly, surrounded by the wreckage of the control console.

Eli looks at Jim over her dead body. "I cannot fix the transporter."

"Jim! Incoming!" Uhura calls, falling to one knee to steady her aim.

"This is getting out of hand," Jim mutters, releasing T'Loren's body gently and scrambling to his feet.

Disruptor fire starts raining against the equipment around them and they hasten to find cover behind Uhura. Six Romulans have them pinned down from the cross-corridor, pummelling them with green light until even Uhura has to back down, taking refuge behind a trash receptacle. Jim ducks his head out for a look and pulls back hurriedly, the motion followed by more energy bolts.

"We must find an alternate route of escape," Eli says calmly. "Perhaps an escape pod or a shuttle."

"Transporters on the Jacee!" Jim exclaims suddenly, craning his neck for another look. "Only problem is, we have to get past them."

All at once there is a sucking pop, loud enough to be heard from a distance, yet somehow devoid of sound. Jim feels the shift in air pressure as his inner ears pop and his stomach drops away. Suddenly, the Romulans in the corridor are the least of their worries.

"Red Matter," he breathes, glancing between them. "Everyone, off this ship!"

As the first gravitational shift ripples outwards, the three of them charge the corridor, weapons hot. As the bolts sizzle and pop around him, Jim finds the presence of mind to open a channel to the Enterprise. He doesn't speak, doesn't have the breath for it, but it should be enough for someone monitoring their frequency. Enough to know they're alive.


-:-


"Captain, I have them!" Hannity exclaims. "The away team just came online."

"Status?" Spock replies sharply.

Hannity presses the receiver deeper into her ear, brow furrowed in concentration. "I just get a lot of weapons fire and static," she confesses. "Perhaps someone else is on the frequency?"

"No," Spock pushes to his feet. "They are alive."

The turbolift doors swish open and Prime staggers onto the bridge. Technician Skia moves to help him, but the old Vulcan waves the assistance away. "Containment has been breached. You must contact Captain Senekot," he wheezes, a frightening vista of bruised skin stretched over bone. "He will know what to do."

"Contact the Tat'sar," Spock orders, eyes now fixed on the first flickering of singularity lightning from the Narada. "Advise him the Red Matter is not salvageable."

"Aye, sir," Hannity reponds immediately.

"Spock," his counterpart manages, sinking to his knees, finding the limit of his endurance. "Do not let this sacrifice be for nothing."

Unsure of Prime's meaning, Spock turns back to the main viewer with a hard lump of dread in the pit of his stomach. "Rescue operations, withdraw," he orders. "All shuttles, return to the ship."


-:-


Uhura uses her hands to vault over the center console and into the Pilot's seat. Jacee isn't going anywhere, but they need to bring the engines online in order to power up the transporters. Ponderously, the hum of impulse power grows, rattling the shattered floor beneath their feet. It feels as though the shuttle would rather shake apart than beam then anywhere, but finally, the gauge hovers in the yellow, the barest safe charge for transportation and Uhura shimmies back into the main cabin.

"Now or never," she announces.

"Go on, then," Jim urges, manhandling her onto the pad.

"But ..."

"Don't argue with me, Nyota," he snaps. "Enterprise is damn short on pilots. Get yourself behind the wheel of something and start cleaning up this mess."

Before she has time to protest further, he toggles the transporter and she disappears in a swirl of argumentative sparks.

"Does everyone question your orders?" Eli enquires, still training a disruptor through the open hatch just in case of stray Romulans.

"No," Jim shakes his head. "Not unless they think I'm about to do something incredibly stupid."

"Are you?"

Jim grins. "Oh yeah."

"May I enquire..."

"Not about to let my planet get obliterated," Jim interrupts, donning his visor and sealing it for decompression. "Seen too many worlds disappear in the blink of an eye," he continues over the suit comm as Eli follows his lead. "Vulcan, Vega, Solis-Allera, Robicon ..."

"And your plan?"

"Stop Nero." Jim checks the charge on his phaser and tucks a spare into his thigh holster. "Because if you think he's given up, you're not as clever as you look."


-:-


For the second time in minutes, Chekov locks onto a signal and energizes the transporter, only to materialize something unexpected. This time it is Lieutenant Uhura, covered in green blood and cursing so profoundly it makes the young Russian blush with admiration.

"Where is the Commander?" he asks when she pauses for breath.

"Being a moron!" she growls, pulling at her hair in frustration. "I need to get to the bridge."


-:-


"I admit, my curiosity has got the best of me," Eli comments as he drops two Romulans in quick succession.

"Oh, yeah?"

The young Vulcan glances at Kirk as they make their way unsteadily through the singularity gale back into Red Matter storage area. "How did you know the canister would not simply rupture and form an immediate singularity?"

"I didn't," Jim confesses. "It was a hunch."

The kid stares at him for a full thirty seconds, unblinking, then directs his eyes forwards again. "Fascinating."

Jim opens his mouth to reply, pauses as though listening to something, then says something different instead. "Feel that?"

Eli concentrates for a second, then nods. "The Narada is moving."

"Yeah," he agrees. "I wonder where to."


-:-


"Captain Spock," Senekot intones with a nod, his stern face filling up the viewer. "Your crew have performed admirably."

"Containment has been breached aboard the Narada," Spock says, wasting no time in formalities. "The ship is moving under power."

"Nero has set a collision course for Earth," Senekot agrees.

"He must be stopped."

"Has the Red Matter been tagged for transportation?"

Spock glances down at his control board, seeing the reassuring flicker of the beacon. "Yes."

"Then withdraw to a safe distance," Senekot commands. "You can do no more."

Spock takes an involuntary half step forward. "There are still three members of the away team unaccounted for."

"Make that two," Uhura announces, emerging from the turbolift in all her bloodstained glory to oust the relief from the Helm.

"Where are the Divisional Commander and Eli?" Spock demands.

"Still aboard," Uhura says through gritted teeth. "I hazard a guess they won't be beaming out in the near future."

"We cannot delay any longer," Senekot interjects. "Even now, the newborn singularity is almost beyond the scope of our containment technology."

"What will happen to those still aboard the Narada?" Spock questions, his voice unnaturally calm.

"They, too, will be caught in the stasis field." Senekot considers him from the ten foot screen, his expression hardening. "The risk involved in extracting them would be irreconcilable."

Spock's eyes fall to the floor and there is silence on the bridge. Everybody seems to catch their breath, waiting. "Understood," he manages finally. "Enterprise out."

The connection is terminated just as Uhura pushes to her feet. "You can't honestly expect me to believe you're going to leave them!"

Spock lifts his head and meets her head on, stare for stare. "Helm, back away from the Narada, bearing minus one eight zero. Confirm."

"Spock, for god's sake!" Uhura pleads.

"Helm, confirm!" Spock growls, his jaw clenched and his eyes full of fire.

Uhura swallows heavily, sinking back into her seat as though too weak to stand. "Aye, sir," she says in a small voice. "Bearing one eight zero, full reverse."

The Enterprise slips from the protecting comfort of the Narada's shields and quickly gathers speed. Spock feels every millimeter of distance like an ache in his bones.

On the viewscreen, the Narada beings to gather speed, arrowing straight for the hole it drilled into the heart of the Earth.


-:-


Jim raises his phaser as he and Eli approach, circling to move into Nero's line of sight where he sits hunched over the navigation console of his great ship. "Step away from the controls!" He has to bellow over the sucking, juvenile singularity behind them.

"Or you'll do what?" Nero scoffs, turning lazily to face them. "You have no power over me! Death has no power over me; I welcome it."

"Commander, this is pointless." Eli takes one step back towards the exit, still clutching his precious future tech. "We must leave now, before it is too late."

Jim raises his arm further, staring down the barrel of his weapon into Nero's eyes. "You took everything from me. My father, my family, the life I might have had. I won't let you take my home, my planet." He takes a step closer, fluid and menacing. "Turn this ship around. Now."

"When all traces of Rift corruption are removed from this timeline, you will see that I was right to do this. My wife will be a compassionate Emperor; she will most likely spare your life."

"There is no time for this!" Eli insists, urgency breaking through his Vulcan monotone.

A compulsion grips Jim, a yearning so strong it feels as though he might not live without it. He wants to tell Nero the truth about Arrhae, he wants to see that bastard shatter beyond repair, to wound him near to death the way he has crippled countless others. The words sit on the tip of his tongue, vile but so full of righteous satisfaction. He hesitates, just for second, but it is long enough for his comm to buzz with static and then form voices.

Enterprise away team, this is the Tat'sar. Evacuate the Romulan vessel immediately. Repeat, evacuate immediately.

Jim takes a breath, purses his lips to say it ...

"Come," says Eli, a firm hand on his shoulder. "What good would it bring? What benefit?"

Jim looks up, weapon still pointed at Nero, searching the youngster's face for an explanation. The peace he finds there, the solemn understanding, it reminds him of Spock. Suddenly he's crashing back down to reality. The kid is right. Nero is a madman and Jim needs to get off this ship. Revenge, sweet though it would be, is not worth his future.

"After you," he grits out, shaking with reaction.

They leave Nero on the bridge of his ship, surrounded by the bodies of Romulan guards he likely shot himself, waiting with a smile on his face for the singularity to engulf him.


-:-


Space is cold and silent, although that truth is often overlooked. The most violent of events, when it occurs in a vacuum, seems strangely anti-climatic. Robbed of the accompanying soundtrack, the destruction of the Narada plays out like a vicious silent film.

The Tat'sar approaches just in time, passing the limping Enterprise in a gleaming, sinuous rush. She deploys the most stunning display of future technology ever seen in this universe: a Penrose-Hawking field of unparallelled proportions. The beautiful example of Vulcan shipbuilding whines under the load, her engines cascading through a series of spectacular failures even as the field solidifies. A split second shimmer in the air and the Narada collapses in on itself without a sound.

The Tat'sar's running lights flicker and short out, but the Penrose-Hawking field is fed by the singularity itself, folding into the crack in space-time until it plugs the gap. Gravity is satisfied, the mass balance is maintained and there is nothing to indicate where the Narada once was except for empty space.


-:-


"All stations, report," Spock demands hoarsely.

"Nawigation, clear," Chekov responds quietly, having returned to the bridge.

"Ops, clear," Ashe adds.

"Sciences, clear."

And so the primary areas give the green light one by one and everyone on the bridge starts to relax, starts to imagine they might have finally, inconceivably, won.

Everyone except Spock, that is. With every report, his shoulder blades draw closer together, his fingers grip the armrests more tightly, imperceptible to all but those who know him intimately...which is pretty much every core person on the bridge.

Hannity and Chekov trade glances with each other, then turn to Ashe. She releases the brakes on her chair and smoothly propels herself to the center seat. And waits.

When Mr. Scott finally checks in, citing numerous spot fires and a list of repairs longer than War and Peace, but no immediate danger of warp core failure, Spock turns to his CTO. "Yes, Lieutenant?"

Ashe lifts her chin and stares him right in the eye. "You are relieved, sir."

Spock's exemplary Vulcan mask slips as the barest hint of something shows in the parting of his lips, the fortifying breath he draws. "I do not understand."

"Yeah, you do," Ashe confirms for him. "I have the conn, now go and get your DivCO."

The relief breaks fully-fledged across his face, destroying the illusion of calm in a rush of emotion. There was a time in her life that Ashe would have given anything to see him that torn up about her, to slip beneath his controls and touch something as powerful as the look on his face right then. Now, all it does is scare her, the depth of they way Spock needs to be the one who goes for Jim, will only trust himself to defy all the odds and bring him back alive.

To do him credit, Spock hasn't allowed it to interfere with his command of the Enterprise. Not once has he slipped and spared the away team more than he could reasonably afford. Grief wars with the hope in his eyes, because he has to know the statistical likelihood of anyone surviving that implosion.

Ashe rolls a little closer, drops her voice. "Go on," she urges in an undertone, "you've done your duty."

Her words galvanize him. New purpose hardens his expression as he pushes to his feet, one hand briefly settling on her shoulder in acknowledgement. "I am relieved," he intones, with just a touch of irony.

There are scattered chuckles around the bridge and a subtle easing of the remaining tension.

Chekov stands with a tug on his shirt. "I would like to wolunteer, sir," he announces, not waiting for approval before relinquishing his board and coming to stand on the dais. "You will need a pilot."

"And a Point One," Hannity adds, plucking out her earpiece and rising to join them.

McCoy emerges from the turbolift, swiftly taking in the small grouping. "The doctor is in," he grins with a flash of teeth.

"How..." Hannity begins to ask.

"Please," he smirks. "Leave no soul, blah blah blah. Plus, I've been working with this mad bastard," he gestures at Spock, "for so long that I don't need to be psychic, just familiar with his brand of insanity."

Spock glances at each of them in turn as though weighing their commitment against his duty to protect them. He doesn't say a word about logic or regulation, just inclines his head and sweeps them all up in his wake.



Epilogue

Comments

( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
sandyk199
Apr. 19th, 2011 08:04 am (UTC)
Just stopping again ... at the last chapter before the epilogue ... because I can. *happy dance*
whochick
Apr. 19th, 2011 08:05 am (UTC)
Lol! What are the odds you're the only one who comments here?

;)
sandyk199
Apr. 19th, 2011 12:03 pm (UTC)
You could be right! People will comment here in the fullness of time though, right people?



After the peace of the last chapter’s opening, we’re right in the thick of the action now, so naturally that’s when the transporters go off-line and Scotty’s not available. Thank goodess for hyperactive Russian boy-geniuses.

Again Eli is an intriguing character, and I suspect you already have his backstory in your mind already. For a possible spin-off. Maybe. I’m just speculating but he’d make a hell of a character in the further adventures in this series. Just sayin’.

Of course, just because Prime has spent twenty years planning this eventuality doesn’t mean it’s all going to go according to his grand design. He has involved Jim Kirk after all, and that man’s a wildcard no matter what dimension he’s in.

Jim's in so deep now that following Prime's instructions seems as good a course of action as any. Still, he hasn't forgotten the plan he has with the other Spock, or the ticking time bomb of Red Matter he's unleashed mere klicks from the surface of the Earth. With an angry growl, and an internal apology to his Spock, he shoves the signal booster into the pocket of Prime's robe and activates it, drawing Arrhae into the field before stepping back.

"This tech, it better be diabolically important," Jim bitches, standing and stepping back out of range. "Because if I find out it poaches the perfect egg, I'm going to be really, really cranky."

"No..." Prime's eyes widen just as silver sparks engulf him and Arrhae. "Jim!"


Chekov’s response when they appear on the Enterprise transporter platform is pitch-perfect in its massive understatement.

Here’s the point where your story aligns itself strongly with the movie, albeit in its own unique way. The Narada is crippled and about to vanish into a singularity and again the Romulans are offered assistance:

For a second, Spock's vision almost whites out with the desire to eradicate every last trace of Nero from this universe. His fingers itch to sweep across the boards himself, his eyes burn to see them collapse into flame. Instead, he swallows, shakes his head. "Deploy medevac shuttles, Alpha and Beta rotations. All available staff make up crew complement where possible. Bring them in."

"Sir?" Skia responds, disbelieving.

Spock forces himself to take a breath, then another one. "You heard me, Technician. Our mission, where possible, is to preserve life." He glances pointedly around the bridge. "All life, regardless of race or affiliation. If there is to be a Federation after Nero, then it starts here, with us."


Surely taking the moral high ground has never been harder. As Kirk explained to the Narada crew, a life is a life, regardless of the circumstances. It’s heart wrenching to discover therefore, that just when they are in the process of helping the others, they are about to lose one of their own.

I’ve read this next section three times now, and it had me in tears every time. Dying is a lonely thing, but she managed to find meaning after her broken bond, and after she had dealt with her rage she managed to find a measure of peace and even camaraderie:

"Every day since Vulcan has seemed a year, so perhaps I am old and this is my time."

"No," Eli corrects her gently, coming to crouch beside them. "You are a warrior, and your sacrifice will be honored."

She blinks up at him, fading fast. "You, at least, saw me as I might have been...for what I could have achieved. You have my gratitude."

"Nash-veh vokau du, T'Loren, u'du i'tra, vahk eh pthak-fam," he soothes, reaching for her other hand.

She dies holding onto them both, slipping away quietly, surrounded by the wreckage of the control console.


Beautifully poignant without slipping into sentimentality. Bravo.
whochick
Apr. 19th, 2011 02:17 pm (UTC)
The fact you like Eli warms the cockles of my heart. I like Eli, too :) I'm staying mum about potential spin-offs because I have a prompt from you guys that's going to rock up in my inbox, y/y?

That yearning to destroy Nero that K/S had aboard the Enterprise in STXI, I really felt it was important that each of them experience it separately in this story. Their journeys have been parallel the entire way and I felt that needed to carry through to this; the ultimate forgiveness.

I always liked T'Loren. I know she wasn't popular in earlier chapters, which means she served her purpose. However, I'd always intended that she make a reappearance and that it meant something. I'm glad you found her death meaningful.
sandyk199
Apr. 19th, 2011 02:18 pm (UTC)
Oh you're right about the prompt, and I do believe the allotted ten minutes have elapsed! *scampers off*
whochick
Apr. 19th, 2011 02:46 pm (UTC)
*is unspeakably excited*
sandyk199
Apr. 19th, 2011 12:03 pm (UTC)
If you hadn’t included this section, I don’t know that my nerves could have taken the assault much longer:

</i>As the bolts sizzle and pop around him, Jim finds the presence of mind to open a channel to the Enterprise. He doesn't speak, doesn't have the breath for it, but it should be enough for someone monitoring their frequency. Enough to know they're alive.</i>

Hannity picking up the signal and Spock realizing that the away team is still alive meant that I was able to breathe out. It would have been terrible if I had passed out and hit my head on the coffee table or some such, because this comment might never have been finished, and then where would you be?

Sadly however, just when I thought it was safe to breathe, Jim goes and saves Uhura only to run back into the ship and face Nero again which forces Spock into a logical decision-making process that just … guh:

The Enterprise slips from the protecting comfort of the Narada's shields and quickly gathers speed. Spock feels every millimeter of distance like an ache in his bones.

As is the unwritten law in these situations, the protagonist must have the opportunity to confront his nemesis which is both provided and denied all at once.

"Come," says Eli, a firm hand on his shoulder. "What good would it bring? What benefit?"

Jim looks up, weapon still pointed at Nero, searching the youngster's face for an explanation. The peace he finds there, the solemn understanding, it reminds him of Spock. Suddenly he's crashing back down to reality. The kid is right. Nero is a madman and Jim needs to get off this ship. Revenge, sweet though it would be, is not worth his future.

"After you," he grits out, shaking with reaction.


This moment of realization must be excrutiating, but I can’t help but think this is an important step in Jim’s maturity. Finding resolution through acceptance is a massive undertaking, and now that he has found himself capable, he will be able to do it again when needs be.

Now THIS, is perfect:

Space is cold and silent, although that truth is often overlooked. The most violent of events, when it occurs in a vacuum, seems strangely anti-climatic. Robbed of the accompanying soundtrack, the destruction of the Narada plays out like a vicious silent film.

And finally the Tat’sar comes into its own, and the ship’s mysterious energy signature is at last explained. *sags with relief*

For all that has gone on, and for all that Jim means to Spock, he still can’t compromise his command to do what he really wants. Fortunately his crew understands this and aren’t above stepping up at this point.

The relief breaks fully-fledged across his face, destroying the illusion of calm in a rush of emotion. There was a time in her life that Ashe would have given anything to see him that torn up about her, to slip beneath his controls and touch something as powerful as the look on his face right then. Now, all it does is scare her, the depth of they way Spock needs to be the one who goes for Jim, will only trust himself to defy all the odds and bring him back alive.

To do him credit, Spock hasn't allowed it to interfere with his command of the Enterprise. Not once has he slipped and spared the away team more than he could reasonably afford. Grief wars with the hope in his eyes, because he has to know the statistical likelihood of anyone surviving that implosion.


In this brief moment Spock and Ashe both have their moment of validation. Spock in that his crew is releasing him to go and reclaim one of their own, and Ashe discovering that what she thought she wanted and what she actually needs when it comes to love are two very different things.

*MELTS INTO PUDDLE OF GOO*
whochick
Apr. 19th, 2011 02:20 pm (UTC)
This section of the chapter was so hard to write. So many realisatons in the midst of so much action. I can't tell you how I struggled with it. That you enjoyed it means a lot to me :)
(Deleted comment)
aine_xenon
Apr. 19th, 2011 08:41 pm (UTC)
Spock giving a group hug.

*sniff*

That is so flippin' beautiful. Thank you for that.
dineru
Apr. 20th, 2011 07:23 am (UTC)
The first second of this chapter blew my mind; this second part is making me fall in love with this fic all over again. Because even though it's an epic battle of explosions, they're sticking to the principles of EPAS and the heart of this story. Jim's "We don't care why you need us, we just save lives" and Spock's instructions to deploy medevac shuttles - such wonderful moments.

And oh, Spock holding on to control so tightly in the face of his fear for Jim is heartbreaking.
(Anonymous)
Apr. 25th, 2011 03:04 pm (UTC)
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twig_tea
Jun. 27th, 2011 02:09 am (UTC)
AAAAAAAAGH OH GOD IT'S THE END CNA I EVEN BRING MYSELF TO READ ITLSJFHFLDS YES OF COURSE I AM DYING TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENED

here we go!

OMG I realize I am just like, repeating your plot points back to you but SLKHFSDLJHDFSJSFHD THEY ARE FUCKING SHOCKING OKAY I NEED TO PROCESS.

Okay so Jim has kind of ruined BOTH Spock AND Spock Prime's plans ahahahhaha oh my god jim you lunatic ahahahah oh man. I love that Jim totally ruins spock prime's suicide plans by saving his life.

I desperately want to know what the tech is that Eli stole. DESPERATELY. I love jim science nerding over the creation of the singularity, he is adorbs. Nero is so fucking batshit.

And I love love LOVE jim making a deal with the guards to save them and get them to romulus. I love that spock has to grit his teeth and let them live, despite what he did in the movie. The differences, between who he is here because of joining EPAS, are awesometakular.

I love that their plan fails at basically EVERY TURN and jim somehow manages to come up with a new one. by the time they get to 'beam out on the jaycee' what are they at, plan Q? lololol. And fucking hell I love jim here, beaming out uhura and explaining to eli that he's fucking psychotic, while uhura simultaneously beams onto the enterprise saying the same thing. AHAHHAH. and I love that Chekov is constantly being surprised by who he beams up XD

AAHHAHAHAHA OMG I LAUGHED SO HARD at Eli's 30 second pause after kirk admitted he wasn't sure the canister would not immediately break. BRILLIANT. that is SO JIM KIRK in a nutshell XDDDD

I love that jim hangs back to take on nero, but then is convinced it isn't worth it. That was a lovely moment, and so frustrating because he could have gotten off earlier and saved everyone worry, but he needed that moment, I think, and besides I still don't think he knew exactly what the tat'sar was going to do to make sure nero didn't take earth with him.

and damn, that was a sweet piece of tech. I love that nero gets swallowed up by his own madness and he doesn't get to take earth with him, as he'd hoped. fabulous.

the bit at the end was so touching, ashe knowing that spock needs to go after jim himself, that hannity and chekov and bones are there to go with him. LOVELY ♥

safdlhasfhsdaa god just the epilogue left what will i do with myself????
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )

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