By Nancy Kippax
He wept. In the solitude of his quarters with no one to hear, James Kirk gave in to the consummate grief in his heart and let the tears flow freely for the first time since it happened.
First had come the shock, the disbelief; that merciful numbness of grief. It can’t be so! There’ s some mistake! And even when it was proven beyond a doubt to be so, the mental denial, the feeling that this was but a bad dream and he needed only to wake up.
But now, the realization had set in fully, bringing with it the tremendous, aching sense of loss, the incredible loneliness and pain.
James Kirk was his own man; in every sense of the word a leader among men, commander of the finest starship in the galaxy, and yet this time the Fates had dealt him a blow from which he didn’t think he’d ever fully recover. And this time there was no loving hand nearby to touch his head and whisper, “Forget.” James Kirk must go on alone.
The senselessness of it all brought a fresh wave of anguish. If there had been a reason, a higher glory, a purpose to it all, maybe that would have softened the blow, given him something to cling to. But to have it happen in this manner, a freak accident on a routine mission, was the ultimate in irony.
Kirk’s mind went backward to the myriad dangers they’d encountered. The time the Vulcan had entered his pon farr and they had rushed him to his homeland to prevent his destruction. The time the female Imorg had taken the very brain from his body to do her planet’s controlling. The time the shuttlecraft Galileo was believed lost with her entire crew, and again when the parasitic creatures of Deneva had entwined themselves around Spock’s nervous system and there seemed no solution. Yet all these incidents had a tomorrow, and now there would be no more tomorrows for his Vulcan First Officer.
It had been a routine exploration. Spock had taken the shuttlecraft Copernicus out to gather atmospheric data from closer view. A sudden ion storm had entered the area and despite all their efforts to effect a rescue, the small defenseless craft was obliterated swiftly, its matter dispersing into debris particles. There wasn’t even a body to be borne home, Kirk thought, with a wrench of his heart.
Spock was dead. And now he, James Kirk, had to somehow pick up the pieces of his life and go on from here. A life that would never again be the same, he knew. For in all the vastness of space these two men, so different and yet so completely complementing one another, had been drawn together as though Fate intended it. There had been between them a certain quality so rare and treasured in this life that some never found it.
The Captain of the Enterprise stood and paced his room ponderously. In a few minutes he must go to the auditorium and face the assembled crew. It was his duty, his obligation, to deliver the eulogy, to conduct the memorial service for Commander Spock. He had no words prepared, he could only speak as his heart dictated. It was an ordeal he wished he could dispense with, but it was necessary and he would do it because he must. Just as Spock himself once had to search for the words to declare his Captain legally dead when he thought Jim lost in the Tholian sector.
Kirk’s door opened and McCoy stood there, clad in his dress uniform. There were certain military standards which seemed foolish right now. It was proper, it was showing respect, true enough, yet somehow so pathetically insufficient.
“Ready, Jim?” the Doctor greeted him softly, carefully measuring the effects of this tragedy on his friend. McCoy himself could not speak of it yet, of the frustration and helplessness he’d felt. As a doctor, death was his sworn enemy, he rebelled against it more forcefully than the average man. Yet, much as his own grief hurt, he knew his duty lay in helping the Captain to channel his.
Jim looked at him, his eyes beseeching McCoy, the naked hurt showing through. In just a minute he would be the Captain to his crew. He would put up his chin and do what was expected, but right now he was just plain Jim Kirk, a man who had lost his dearest friend.
“What ‘s the answer, Bones? Where’ s the justice?” he asked, his frustration suddenly turning into rage. He wanted to smash something, beat someone, take out his uselessness in physical brutality, as if by doing so he could change things, turn back the clock, bring Spock back to life. Just as Spock had acted physically in so many instances to prevent Kirk’s death. He’d been there when the poisoned plant had shot off its darts, taking them himself rather than risk injury to his Captain. He had lessened the odds when Kirk fought the Yangs on Omega, and again leaped to his defense when the strange man-child Charlie Evans had attempted to harm Kirk. But now, Spock was gone, and no action on Jim’s part could bring him back.
McCoy moved in close and put a hand on Jim’s shoulder, fingers gripping tightly. “I have no answer—no one does. You must seek out the answer within yourself. We all must,” he added, his thoughts a kaleidoscope of memories. He and Spock in the wilderness wastes of Beta Lyrae’s ice age, his frozen feet about to drop off; Spock urging him on. He and Spock in the arena on the Roman-like planet, his opponent settling in for the Kill before Spock moved swiftly and rendered the man helpless. Spock’s sympathy and concern when the Vians of Minara had tortured him so badly they almost succeeded in killing him. A plethora of pain consumed the doctor and he forgot for a moment he was supposed to be reassuring the Captain.
Kirk got up and moved abruptly. “C’mon, Bones, the crew is waiting,” he said evenly. He straightened out his face, composed his thoughts and left his quarters.
James Kirk walked slowly into the auditorium, eyes straight ahead, hands steady. Reaching the dais at the front, he looked out at the sea of upturned faces. Those silent, comforting faces of his co-workers, turning expectantly now to him to say the words for them, to put voice to what they were all feeling. Death and danger were no strangers to these brave men and women gathered here, but familiarity does not soften the hurt, especially in a situation like this, where death had come so unexpectedly and brutally.
Kirk stood with his hands resting on the platform, willing his muscles to relax. He spoke quietly and clearly, his voice carrying nonetheless to the back of the room in the silence.
“We are here now to pay homage to the memory of Commander Spock,” he began. “We all know what happened, perhaps we don’t know why it happened. Doctor McCoy says we have to find the answer within ourselves and I expect that about sums it up.” He paused, flashing a look at Bones, sitting so still in the first row. “Mr. Spock gave his life in the performance of his duties; he died the way he lived, with honor and courage. Yet though he died, he left a legacy to all of us who knew him. A striving for perfection, a deep sense of admiration for the orderly and logical way—” His throat tightened on that last. How long, he wondered, before I can hear the word ‘logical’ without choking? He continued. “These are but a few of the things Spock has bequeathed to us fortunate enough to know him and his unique Vulcan philosophy.” A very tiny smile appeared around the corners of Jim’s mouth. “He would not wish us to grieve; it is exclusively a human trait. No, Spock would expect us to go on with out duties, taking what comfort we could from the memories we carry of him.”
He looked at the faces, tearful, courageous, all members of the same family. “Spock was my First Officer, my friend. He cannot be replaced, but we must go on, living out our lives as was intended. And feeling that much richer for having known that Vulcan named Spock.
“There will be a minute of silence now. All rise.”
As the four hundred got to their feet, Kirk bowed his head.
He would go on, he knew now. A part of him had died with Spock, and he would never be the same, but his duties compelled him onward, just as Spock would have gone on without him.
With heavy heart, James Kirk left the room.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: Don’t panic! ‘Eulogy’ was written as an experiment in the genre known to all fans as the “What if… “ story. We all saw, in “The Tholian Web,” Spock’s reaction to Kirk’s death, and I began wondering about the reverse. Hence, ‘Eulogy.’ However, this by no means indicates that the author wishes Spock dead any more than the Creators wished Kirk dead in “The Tholian Web!” I have no desire to abort the relationship!