First Officer's Log, Commander Spock, Stardate 3926.7
I have attempted contact with the Enterprise at regular intervals since regaining consciousness and must now acknowledge that the ship has left this star system and I have been assumed dead. Jim will have been ordered to leave by his "guest".
I know that Jim has been somewhat uncomfortable with having Admiral Komack on board as he believes the Admiral "had it in for" him ever since our unscheduled trip to Vulcan, when I was…during my...Time.
I am aware that Jim and Admiral Komack have engaged in several... heated discussions over why Jim diverted from our original course for Altair VI. Jim thinks I do not know of the arguments – he is trying to keep them from me so I will not blame myself.
That is impossible. I am Vulcan. For this reason, I had to return home. Jim diverted the ship for me. He could well have jeopardised his career – ruined it completely had T'Pau not used her influence to have permission for diversion granted retroactively.
I am to blame.
That is past. It is best to think of the present and my current... situation.
This mission to Zeta Sigma III did not go as smoothly or easily as planned. Previous surveys of the planet had shown there to be no animal life whatsoever, but an abundance of plant-life. The initial survey reports were correct – up to a point. There is almost no fauna here. There are no birds, insects or amphibian creatures here at all – but we did discover (in the most disastrous manner) that Zeta Sigma III is home to a race of animals with many of the features of the several large feline species on Terra, and also with some resemblance to the le-matya of my own planet.
Jim doesn't react favourably when he loses any crew member. He mourns each death as if it was of his closest friend or relative. I know that this is one reason the crew hold him in such high regard.
What must he be thinking now?
Seven of my scientists, mostly botanists, were killed by the "wildcats" – as Doctor McCoy called them.
Seven members of Jim's crew gone. Seven...
I am the eighth. Jim believes I am dead. No…Jim has declared me dead.
I will be dead within... I am not sure. Many factors are involved. I have already sustained what I believe are moderate to serious injuries to my head, right leg and internally in one encounter with the creatures. I know that my thought processes are less sharp than usual and I have not been able to utilise my Vulcan abilities to heal myself.
I have no survival supplies: no shelter, no food. We expected to be here for the morning only. The creatures are around still. I have my tricorder and a phaser, but, while the tricorder is solar-powered and will let me know when something approaches, the phaser's power pack will not last indefinitely. Once it runs out, I will have no defence against predators.
The ship will be on it’s way to Fidelio Delta II to deliver much needed medical supplies and other cargo. Admiral Komack will have pressured Jim to leave in time to make the requisite rendezvous with the cargo ship Atlas on the way. Jim could not have defied the admiral again and retained his captaincy. Komack would have seen to it that he lost his rank and his ship.
Besides, he had no logical reason to stay here. Both the ship's and the portable sensors would not have registered my presence. Their most reasonable deduction would have been that I, like the other seven, was attacked by one of the feline creatures – which I was – and am dead.
I will be dead.
Any one of the afore-mentioned reasons could kill me. Whether I die of starvation, the cold, from my current injuries or new ones, the result is the same.
I will die.
Spock switched off the tricorder and leaned back wearily against the rock behind him. He realised his log was heading into rather grim territory and he was starting to feel quite fatigued.
He closed his eyes and, after a moment, snapped them open again.
"I must stay awake," he said aloud. He used his arms to push himself into a more upright position, lifted the tricorder and scanned for any sign of the creatures. All was quiet and he allowed himself to slump back – just a little.
He thought about the animals that lived here and had turned what should have been a simple survey and collection mission into a disaster.
//Odd,// he thought. He believed he had discovered the reason for them not showing up on the previous planet scans. They seemed to mainly stay in the rocky, sheltered areas and Spock's own tricorder scans had shown that there was some mineral in the rocks on this planet which disrupted and reflected those scans back. The original scans would have been done from orbit and, with the rocks interfering with the readings, it was quite possible that the existence of the creatures on the planet below had not been revealed.
This was not that odd, however.
What was odd was that these were the only animals. On most planets there were many different species which all took their places in the hierarchy of the food chain. Zeta Sigma III's cat-like animals were obviously herbivores, for there was no flesh for them to eat. This seemed inconsistent with the animals on other planets which shared many characteristics with these ones. Why, then, did they attack the crew? Was it a matter of defending territory? Perhaps... but they certainly behaved in a carnivorous way when they sank their teeth into human flesh and... Spock flinched. He felt nauseous just thinking about it.
Involuntarily, his thoughts wandered back to the Enterprise and her crew. "Jim." He didn't even realise he had said the name aloud. "My friend." Those were two words he spent most of his life believing he would never say. Yet, now he had a friend – a really good friend.
Had a friend.
Some part of him didn't mind the fact that he would die. He would die knowing that he had someone who trusted him, respected him, believed in him, and... loved him like a brother. Here, in this place that would be the last he would ever see – a place where he could finally be completely honest with himself – here... he could admit that he loved Jim too.
//It took me nearly all my life to find such a friend, but it was worth the wait.// Spock allowed himself the luxury of a small smile.
He turned his thoughts to what next to do. His body, normally able to go for several days without sleep, was crying out for it. The strain of the fight with the wildcat (Spock had decided that Doctor McCoy's term for the creature was as good as any) and the resulting injuries had taken their toll. Spock was tired, weary and sore.
//I will sleep.// There had been no sign of the wildcats for several hours. //Also odd. Most animals of the feline variety are nocturnal.// He reasoned that, there being little hope of rescue, he might as well sleep. //If I am attacked and killed tonight... perhaps it is best.//
Spock did one final 360 degree scan of the area, then closed the tricorder. He twisted over to one side and lay down next to the rock. Within minutes, fatigue took over and he was deep in slumber.
Captain James Kirk sat up in his bed and tried to shake the buzzing sound out of his head. Eventually, he realised that the sound wasn't internal but was, in fact, coming from his door. Groggily, he threw off the well-tossed covers and put a sweaty finger on the comm button. "Come." His voice sounded like he had swallowed sandpaper.
The door swished open, admitting the ship's Chief Medical Officer.
Leonard McCoy stood in the doorway for a moment, judging whether it was such a bright idea coming here after all. Finally, he stepped forward and over to the sleeping alcove where Kirk still sat, swamped in sweat-stained blankets. Now that he was here, he found he had no idea of what to say.
Kirk decided to end the silence himself. "What's on your mind, Bones?"
McCoy was, at this moment, thinking how dreadful Kirk looked. He decided that telling the truth in this instance was not the most diplomatic approach. "Komack's giving Scotty an earful on the bridge," he said instead and immediately regretted mentioning the one name that truly made Kirk's blood boil. He watched Kirk closely for a reaction, half expecting to be unceremoniously thrown out of the room.
Kirk said nothing.
McCoy tried again. "Y'know, you could use a drink and I've got just the thing. It's-"
"No thanks, Doctor. I've already got a hangover and I haven't had a drop."
"What if that thing didn’t kill Spock? What if I just abandoned him?" Kirk showed more life in the past minute than he had in all the rest of the time since leaving Zeta Sigma III. "We know he was hurt. We saw his... blood. We didn't find his body."
"That doesn't mean anything, Jim. We didn't find... much... of the others either. Those things are vicious, dammit! They're carnivores!"
"Yeah, but... carnivores?... carnivores! Bones, how could they be carnivores if there aren't any other animals?"
Kirk ignored McCoy's last theory and appeared to be deep in thought. "Bones, how many of those creatures did our scanners actually pick up?"
"Well, it was difficult to tell with whatever-it-was down there wreaking havoc with our sensors but we picked up one. There must be more...."
"Must there? There's something not right about this whole thing. What if it was just the one animal attacking the crew? Maybe it's the only one – I mean, all of the attacks took place in a relatively small area, yet we could only detect one animal."
"Jim, you're just guessin'," McCoy said quietly. "You can't spend the rest of your life wrestling with 'what ifs'."
"I know, Bones. I know. It's just that my gut tells me that things don't add up and Spock wouldn't just... I've just always thought that if he... if something ever happened to him, that I'd know."
"Get some sleep, Jim. You need it. Scotty can stay on the bridge a while longer and keep an eye on Ko... on things."
Kirk remained still, pensive.
"I don't wanna make that a medical order, Captain, but I will if I have to – and you know how mean I am when I get cross with patients who don't follow orders."
Jim sighed, then acquiesced, deciding that he'd have to at least appear to be obeying the doctor – just to get him off his back. Once McCoy had left, Kirk got up and switched on his viewer, recalling the log tapes of their last mission. //There must be something here, some clue. I can't believe Spock died – just like that. If he is still alive... I have to find a way to get back there, now.//
It was more that halfway through Zeta Sigma III's day when Spock finally awoke. The tricorder gave him the information. He was rather disconcerted to find that he could not provide the information from within himself. His innate sense of time was simply one more skill he had lost after waking up in a shallow cave – presumably, his attacker's home, certainly the reason the others' sensors would not have been able to trace him.
He had walked – crawled sometimes – away from the cave to the place where he now rested. By his somewhat hazy estimate, he had traversed at least one and a half kilometres, maybe two. It seemed to be far enough, for there had been no sign of wildcats within the range of the tricorder since he had been here.
A sharp rumbling noise diverted his attention to his stomach. He had last eaten on the Enterprise before beaming down. How many days ago was that? Spock was no longer sure.
He eyed the many plants around. //The wildcats must eat something, perhaps fruit from the trees.// Deciding that it was at least worth investigating, he placed both hands against the rock, planning to use it in aiding him to his feet. Once he had a firm grip, he hoisted himself up using all the strength his arm muscles could provide.
When he was on his feet, his legs gave out and with a shriek of unexpected pain, he was again sitting on the ground. Several more times he tried – all with the same result. Now, his problem was that he had overtaxed his arms, and they were now almost as useless as his legs.
//I do not believe I would even have the strength to pull myself along the ground. I am stuck here... for the time being.//
Once more he slumped wearily against the rock.
//Why am I even bothering to fight for my life?// He was angry and frustrated now – his emotional control had long ago slipped below the acceptable levels required of any self-respecting Vulcan. Spock found that he no longer cared. //Is it logical for me to draw out what must be a certain death? Perhaps there is more logic in finding a way to end this – now.//
A small voice – a whisper, really – weaved it's way through his thoughts... Don't give up, Spock. Trust your t'hy'la as he trusts in you.
//Jim has given up on me. He believes I am dead,// Spock thought at the voice. //He has no reason to think otherwise.//
You're wrong. Jim's heart tells him you are alive and I know that your heart tells you that this is true.
//He has gone. He can't come back. There is nothing to be done. It will end soon.//
Don't you trust your t'hy'la?
//I trust him more than I have ever trusted anyone.//
Then believe that he will find a way back to you. You would not give up on him if the situation was reversed?
Then, how can you believe that he would give up on you?
That is what I thought. Don't give up, Spock. Your t'hy'la will come.
Spock drifted into a fitful sleep.
Kirk wiped his tired eyes with the back of his hand.
There was nothing in the log tapes to indicate that Spock may have survived – at least, there was nothing he could put his finger on. He had to admit that his thought processes weren't at their peak and that he would be more efficient if he had had some sleep.
Easier said than done. He hadn't really slept since that awful day. If he did sleep, it was filled with nightmarish dreams and images of Spock alone, abandoned, and dying. Horrible scenes of vicious terror: wild animals discovering that their prey was alone and vulnerable, defenceless. Spock crying out, "T'hy'la!!!"
With a gasp, Jim sat bolt upright and realised that the anguished cry had come from his own lips.
"Spock," he whispered and realised that several tears had escaped his eyes and were making steady tracks down his cheeks.
Suddenly, a force from somewhere deep within told him that he should not be searching for a reason to go back to Zeta Sigma III, but a way.
He asked the computer to call up a list of all the Federation vessels in the sector.
"Working..." came the metallic reply.
Shortly, he had a comprehensive list of ships, coordinates and missions. One name caught his eye. "U.S.S. Freyberg – John Dudley's ship," he said to no one in particular.
He cross-referenced the coordinates and discovered that the Freyberg wasn't too far away at all and was already within hailing distance. He continued reading. He saw a description of their heading and mission... "Star-mapping!" he exclaimed. "John'll love that."
Kirk's mind was in motion. The Freybergwas only on a routine star-mapping trip – boring as Alkaldian kogaball matches. There certainly was no hurry for them to complete their mission, no deadline given. Their incentive to get it done quickly was the promise of shore leave afterwards. The sooner they wrapped up the job, the more leave.
"If we swapped... the Freyberg could go to Fidelio Delta II and finish even earlier than they expected, giving them more leave, and we could go back to Zeta Sigma III, have a look around and then do the star-mapping. The crew hate such a mundane task but... we can offload Komack onto the Freyberg – and that's worth the boredom of star-mapping."
His hand went to the comm button. He put a call through to the bridge. "Uhura, get me a link to both Starfleet Command and the U.S.S. Freyberg. I've got a deal to negotiate...."
Spock's first thought when he felt the wetness on his face was that it was raining. It had rained several times since he'd been left here. Further thought made him realise that rain tended to fall in small droplets. What he felt was more like something solid and wet brushing up and down against his cheek. //An animal?!//
He opened his eyes carefully and soon discovered a large pair of yellow eyes staring back at him. Cautiousness told him to remain still and watch to see what the wildcat did next. The animal surprised him by nuzzling it’s nose into Spock’s neck so that their heads were touching.
//You are awake.//
Spock closed his eyes and opened them again. The animal was still there, but where did that voice come from?
//You slept a long time. I regret that I am responsible for your injuries.//
Spock looked up at the wildcat. Was it talking to him? Why had it not simply attacked as it had before? He sat up as much as he was able. The beast before him maintained the physical contact.
//Impossible,// he thought. //I am hallucinating. Surely the end is not far off now.//
// I have brought food from the trees. You must be hungry.//
Following the animal's gaze, Spock discovered a pile of small reddish-brown fruits next to his right hand. He looked back at the creature. //You are speaking to me.//
//Yes. When we touch like this I can... hear you.//
// I first sensed your thoughts after I brought you back to my cave-home. This is why I did not kill you.// A pause. //You are different from the others.//
//I am Vulcan. They are... were human. Are you responsible for the deaths of the other seven?//
//Yes. I was... angry at the ones who took me away and killed my young. They were like those I killed here. I wanted... revenge.//
Parts of the puzzle clicked into place for Spock. //This planet is not your natural home. You were brought here.//
//You were kidnapped by humans and left here?//
// I do not think this was their intended destination. I could not understand their words but I don't think they meant to bring me here.//
//Why? Please tell me what occurred.//
//Very well. My mate died a short time ago and I was left to raise our two offspring. I was fearful for our safety as many deaths and kidnappings happened to females whose mates had died.
//The humans had weapons I could not fight against. My young were killed very quickly and they pointed the weapon at me. It did not kill me, but made me sleep. When I woke up, I was on their transport, restrained and caged.
// I was well fed and they were careful not to damage me in any way. This is why I believe they did not mean for me to be left here. I believe they had a purpose for me.//
//It would seem so. Possibly slavery of some description.//
//Yes. That is what I had thought.
//After a while, they became agitated. It happened after they had communicated with others. I felt the transport move in a new direction and very soon I was here, alone. The next time I saw anyone else was the day you came.//
//From what you describe, I believe that you had been smuggled illegally. The communication the humans received was likely a warning that Federation patrol ships were in the area. I would say that you were offloaded onto this planet so they could avoid being caught with you in their possession. The penalties for smuggling living creatures are high.//
// I see.// She nodded at the fruit. //You must eat. I have eaten these since I found them but they are not sufficient to sustain me. I have lost much weight and will not last another turning of the moons.//
//You need animal flesh to survive.// It was not a question.
Spock looked at the small fruits. He was hungry. He picked up the largest one and turned it over in his hand. It's skin was soft and spongy and it had a faintly spicy aroma. Tentatively, he took a small bite. The taste was pleasant and, indeed, quite spicy. He took several more bites – until the fruit was gone. He immediately vomited, fortunately having the time and decency to turn away from his companion.
// Is this usual when you eat?//
//No. It seems that these fruits are not compatible with my digestive system. I, too will starve, I'm afraid.//
//Your injuries are partly to blame, are they not? I am very sorry to have hurt you so.//
//Kaiidth. It is done. I believe I will not have to wait too long for my end to come.//
//Will the others not come back for you?//
//It is likely they think I am dead. The chances of them coming back are small.//
Spock hung his head. Weariness was seeping throughout his entire body. He knew his head injury was getting worse – there was no doubt his vision was starting to fail him and it just hurt so much all the time. His limbs were beginning to feel numb and his internal wounds had been given no chance to heal. He looked over at his companion. She was fast asleep beside him, her breathing a steady rhythm.
He reached for his tricorder and switched it on to record.
First Officer's Log, Commander Spock, Stardate...this is Spock recording...
I do not know how long I have been here. I cannot now recall what this planet is called. I do know that I have little time left.
Captain... Jim, I know you will come. It is... unfortunate that you will not arrive in time but... I believe with all of my being that you will come.
You will be interested to know that I have made contact with the "wildcat" and have found her to be a sentient, thoughtful creature. She is the only one here, Jim. It was she who attacked myself and the other crewmen because it was humans who removed her from her home and left her here.
She's stranded, Jim. She has no way to return home and no family to return home to. I feel for her, Jim. Her situation is much worse than mine for I know that, even though you will not arrive before my... death, you will come back for me. Unlike her, I have not been stranded.
Please do not grieve my passing. I do not regret being your first officer or your friend. My time with you on the Enterprise was the period of my life where I was the most... content.
I must ask one last personal favour, Jim. For the safety and sanity of the crew I ask that you take it upon yourself to restrain Doctor McCoy's illogical reasoning. Someone must. I can only hope that your next science officer is well enough versed in logic in order to counter-balance the good doctor.
I have been, and always shall be, your friend, Jim.
Live long and prosper.
Spock switched the tricorder off and painfully lay down next to the rock. As unconsciousness slid over him, his hand slid over the warm fur of his friend.
Two bright lights on the horizon solidified into two human forms.
"Over there," shouted one and took off at a run in the direction his finger was pointing. He stood over the two bodies, his eyes glued to the one without a tail but very aware of the other as well.
"His readings are almost non-existent, Jim, but he's alive. How did you know?" The second man had caught up with the first and was kneeling on the ground.
"I don't know how, Bones. I just knew."
"Well, if we want him to stay alive, we'd better get him to sickbay quickly."
"What about the... animal?"
"It's dead, Jim. I'm not sure but I'd say that it died from starvation."
"Hmmm. That fits with a theory I have. Something tells me Spock was thinking the same thing."
He flipped open his communicator. "Enterprise, this is Kirk. Three to beam up. Have medics standing by."
Three figures turned into bright, shimmering lights and then were gone.
Kirk and McCoy ran into the ward to see the only patient writhing on the bed and somewhat distressed. McCoy pulled his arm back, then slapped Spock harder than he'd ever hit anyone in his entire life. It wasn't enough.
Another slap. More painful for the doctor than the patient.
McCoy balled his hand into a fist and rammed it into Spock's jaw.
He was about to do it again when, suddenly, Spock's own hand came up swiftly and caught it before it impacted. "Thank you, Doctor. That was sufficient."
"Sufficiently painful, you mean! Y'know, I think I mighta broken a knuckle!"
Kirk stepped forward between McCoy and Spock in the hopes of putting a halt to any forth-coming argument before it got out of hand. "Spock, how are you feeling?" he asked, looking closely at his friend.
"I am…well, Captain," he replied, as if he was merely recovering from a scraped knee.
"Well?! You are not well, Mister Spock – far from it! I'm the doctor around here and I say who's well and who isn't!" McCoy had his own way of showing his relief at Spock's return and recovery.
"Perhaps you should get M'Benga to take a look at your hand, Bones," Kirk put in. He thought it best to remove McCoy from the Vulcan's presence until he was completely recovered from his relief. It would also give Kirk a chance to talk to Spock alone.
"You just make sure he stays in that bed 'cause, if you don't, I'll give you a physical you'll remember for the rest of your life!" With that, the doctor was gone.
Kirk and Spock remained quiet for a time, each reviewing their thoughts within the personal confines of their own heads.
Jim spoke at last. "Spock, are you really okay?"
The Vulcan paused for a moment. "Yes, Jim. I am... will be... all right."
"I saw your logs."
"Did you really believe that much that I would come back for you?"
A greenish tinge appeared in Spock's cheeks. "Yes."
An overwhelming sense of affection flowed through Kirk as he looked at the sincere brown eyes and knew it was true. "Spock, do you know how much your loyalty and trust in me means to me?" Tears of relief, pride, friendship and love welled in his eyes. He hoped he could maintain his control long enough to keep from embarrassing Spock.
"Jim, it is you who inspires loyalty and trust – not just in me, but in everyone you meet. How could I not trust one who has trusted in me, believed in me where others have not?"
This time it was Kirk who blushed.
"Jim, when I was on that planet, I knew you would come – just as you would for any of your crew. It is part of what makes you the best captain in the fleet."
Kirk's control was slipping fast. "Spock, I can see you're tired. Why don't you get some sleep?" He stood up and moved hastily towards the door.
"Jim," Spock called as Kirk reached the door, "I knew I wasn't stranded."
"Good night, my friend." Kirk exited with tears flowing freely down his cheeks.
"Stranded," whispered the Vulcan.
Spock let a tear slip out for her, the one who was stranded.
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