Phase II – Chapter One: The Invitation

By Beverly J. Volker and Nancy J. Kippax
Art by Russ Volker

This is the first of four installments in an unfinished series by Bev and Nancy, speculating on the future of the Enterprise crew. Ironically, in 1975, only six years after Trek had gone off the air, Bev and Nancy took the characters two decades into their futures, past the point time would take them when they actually returned in their movie series. This is very early Bev and Nancy, and I had to resist my editor’s urges as I verified the OCR. I admit I did correct their baffling insistence on misspelling “Chief,” and I did fix one case of “with whom he had worked for years with.” They would have fixed those too, if their intent to finish and collect this series had been fulfilled. Bev loved melodrama, and this series shows it, especially as it digs into the history of the tragic Tarra St. John. But I think there’s nothing more fun than digging into the predictions fan writers made about the future of Trek before we knew it would have a future. So enjoy this first part of Phase II. I’ll keep restoring it, and, hopefully soon, make sense of quite a few pages of (unpublished, I think) manuscript Bev left behind.

— Steve

PHASE II

CHAPTER ONE

The Invitation

Admiral James T. Kirk pushed the button to open his door.

A recurring stab of loneliness filled him. The rooms were so empty now, without Areel to share them. He spent as little time as possible here these days.

Since his wife’s tragic death in a shuttle crash six months ago, Jim had been burying himself deeper and deeper into his work, concentrating all his effort on accepting what had happened. They had a good life together, a good marriage; he felt fortunate to have found such unexpected happiness at all, albeit short-lived.

I really ought to move, he mused, entering the living area.

But as usual, he shoved the thought aside, reluctant to go through the ordeal of sorting through their possessions.

He was meeting “Bones” McCoy for dinner this evening; a pleasant interlude which he was greatly looking forward to. Both of them living on the same Starbase as they did, the two old friends didn’t see as much of one another as they’d like.

An envelope on the floor caught his eye. Slipped through the mail slot, it was an old-fashioned, written style communi­cation. Undoubtedly something quite formal; they were the only things sent that way anymore. Glancing at it, he noticed the Star Fleet insignia and although his curiosity was piqued, he moved first to fix himself a drink.

That done, he settled down comfortably with the envelope.

It was probably an invitation to some formal affair which he had no interest in, but would feel obligated to attend, due to his rank and status here on Starbase VIII.

As he read the engraved script, he felt a chill rush up his spine. Feeling part excitement, part dread, he sat entranced, staring at the words.

“YOU ARE HEREBY CORDIALLY INVITED TO ATTEND THE DECOMMISSIONING CEREMONIES FOR THE FORMER STARSHIP, U.S.S. ENTERPRISE, TO BE HELD ON STARBASE FIFTEEN ON STARDATE 5274.1. ALL FORMER OPFICERS ARE ASKED TO ATTEND AS WE SAY FAREWELL TO A GRAND OLD LADY IN THE FINEST STAR FLEET TRADITION.

FOR YOUR CONVENIENCE, THE USS ENCOUNTER HAS BEEN ASSIGNED TO TRANSPORT PASSENGERS FOR THE CEREMONIES.  CONTACT REAR ADMIRAL LESLIE WINKINS FOR DETAILS.”

So, they were going to scrap her.  His ship.  The Enterprise.

The very name sent a plethora of emotions running through him.

The pride… and the guilt, inexorably linked together, in his mind. They’re not killing her now, he thought. We did that a long time ago, Spock and I. Resting his chin in his hands, he let his mind roam freely over the memory of that time and the way it had been.  It was painful, but he suddenly couldn’t hold it back any longer.

* * * *

At the same time, on the Planet Vulcan, the Enterprise former First Officer stepped quietly into the sun baked courtyard, his eyes searching. Discovering what he sought, Spock walked briskly to where his wife sat.

T’Pania broke her reverie and looked up steadily to meet Spock’s gaze. She held up her two right forefingers as he sat next to her and joined his fingers to hers. It was more than an embrace, it was a joining of souls.

“I wondered what became of you after the meal,” he chided her gently. He could sense her discomfort. “T’Pania, Selik is young. He objected to this journey because it would take him away from his studies at the Academy. I can understand that,” he told her soothingly.

She looked at him sharply. “Do you try to convince me or yourself, Spock?” she asked, an edge to her voice. T’Pania knew that in many ways their son was a great disappointment to Spock. Coldly logical, totally Vulcan, Selik did not respect his half­-human father. It was a thing she could not change. Tossing her head, she stood. “At least T’Prett is eager for this trip.”

Spock stood behind her and touched her shoulder. “And you, my wife? Obviously you are not eager.” Turning her to look at him, he said patiently, “It is a thing which I must do. I was the First Officer aboard the Enterprise. There is no logical reason for me to decline attendance at a ceremony meant to honor her.”

She met his look unwaveringly. “And no doubt Captain James Kirk will feel the same,” she said quietly. She felt his fingers tighten their grip on her shoulder, although his face remained impassive. “Spock, your life in Star Fleet is over. I can see no logic in going back to what was so very painful for you.”

Spock was prevented from answering by the sudden appearance of a very young, slim Vulcan girl, headed for them at top speed.

T’Pania frowned. “T’Prett, do not rush so. It is most undignified and illogical. You are old enough now to know…”

Spock cut into her lecture smoothly. “Our daughter has some­thing on her mind, my wife. Undoubtedly it is of great importance,” he teased.

The girl hesitated as her mother looked from one to the other.

T’pania spoke stiffly. “I have things to attend to in the house. I shall leave you two alone.”

Spock looked after her sadly. He wished his daughter had not interrupted them. He wanted to make T’Pania understand, to explain to her why they must journey to Starbase XV. But, the moment was past now. He turned to T’Prett.

“What is it, Kirsha?” he asked softly. He alone addressed her thus; it was a Vulcan word meaning, roughly, Little Bird.

She looked up at him in adoration. ”’Father, why can we not go aboard the Encounter to the ceremonies?” she pleaded.

A shiver went up Spock’s back. He had made it clear that his family would travel in their own ship to the Starbase. Certainly they would not go on the Encounter. Kirsha should understand why.

“Your grandparents would feel more comfortable traveling with us,” he explained lamely, using Sarek and Amanda for his excuse.

“Pah,” Kirsha snorted. “You know that Grandmother is most desirous to see Stack again,” she chided. “And Father, I would like to see a Starship.”

A smile played over his features and he laid a hand on her hair, a wisp of memory curling around his mind. His first glimpse of that awesome, majestic ship. The power and might of her churning in him an emotion he wasn’t supposed to feel. How stiff I was then, he thought. How very young. Like Kirsha’s now, he mused, but she is more fortunate than I was. She doesn’t have the human devils to put down.

Reading his thoughts, Kirsha pressed her advantage. “What was it like, Father? To serve aboard the Enterprise?” He’d never told her very much about his life in Star Fleet. She knew he had human friends, one in particular, his Captain. And of course she knew something about Stack and the tragedy. But he’d been silent about most of it, and Kirsha was enough of a woman to be curious.

Spock looked at her silently, trying to think of the right words. It was… an honor,” he said at last. “The Enterprise was the finest Starship in the Fleet. My work was quite rewarding.” Yet, even as he spoke, he knew this was not what he wanted to say. So much more, it was. So much you couldn’t put into words. He added, “I was happy there.”

“Then, why…” she began, but his look cut her off. Lowering her eyes, she said, “Forgive me, Father. I do not mean to pry.”

“You will see the Enterprise when we get to the Starbase, Kirsha. Until then, you will have to content yourself with other matters.”

Kirsha knew she was being dismissed, so with a final nod of her head, she left her father standing alone in the courtyard and returned to the house.

Spock looked at the horizon, where the shadows of night were swiftly gathering. This was his home and he had found a certain peace and contentment here. Prestige, honor had come his way also, but they were unimportant. No matter that he was Ambassador Spock of Vulcan, greatly respected, not only by his own people, but by the Federation itself. The important part was that he respected himself again. He had learned to live, despite the past. And if I have learned to fashion a new life for myself, he thought, then surely so has Jim Kirk, for he is no less a man.

 

 

* * * *

Doctor Leonard McCoy raised an arm in salutation as James Kirk approached the table. Since his retirement from the service, shortly after Kirk’s departure from the Enterprise, he had built a small private practice here on Starbase VIII, but the bulk of his time he devoted to research and to various charities. He was a busy man, but in a comfortable way, doing only what he loved to do.

The two friends smiled at one another in easy comradeship as Jim slipped into a chair.

McCoy, never a man to beat around the bush, came right to the point. “Did you get your invitation, Jim?”

Kirk allowed a half-smile to overcome his features. He was aware of the nuance in Bones’ voice, of the probing look the Doctor was giving him. “Yes, I got it,” he answered shortly.

McCoy smiled, lifting his drink to his lips. “I’m looking forward to seeing Peter again,” he confessed.

“You’re going aboard the Encounter, then?” Kirk asked in surprise. Why not, he wondered. Bones had no ghosts to lay.

The doctor’s voice was gentle. “‘Will you attend the ceremonies, Jim? Can you?”

Kirk looked at him evenly. “I must. I was her Captain. I’m not sure if I want to, even now. But Bones, it’s more than just me and Spock and even Tarra… lt’s 430 of the greatest men and wo­men I ever knew. It’s that Grand Old Lady the invitation mentioned. My ship. They’re burying her, Bones. Doesn’t she deserve the finest funeral? Shouldn’t her Captain be there to say goodbye? Could I ever look myself in the eye if I didn’t go?” Realizing how impassioned he was becoming, he checked himself and smiled ruefully.

McCoy looked thoughtful. “But you won’t travel on the Encounter. Peter will be disappointed,” he stated, referring again to Jim’s nephew, Commander  Peter Kirk, who was the First Officer aboard the Starship Encounter.

Kirk smiled, thinking fondly of the boy he and Areel had finished raising after his retirement from active duty on the Enterprise. He was looking forward to seeing him again. It had been three years since their last meeting. But considering that Peter’s ship was the one commanded by Captain Stack… Theron, he thought with a stab, Theron St. John…

He looked over at McCoy. “Peter will understand. You go aboard the Encounter, Bones. Tell him I’ll meet him at Starbase XV.”

McCoy shifted in his chair, uncomfortable at what he was about to bring up, yet knowing it had to be said. “Jim, do you reckon Spock will be there for the ceremonies?”

“Kirk’s answer came without hesitation. “Of course.” Can I be sure, he wondered. After all these years, am I still so finely attuned to his attitudes that I can know for a certainty what he’s thinking? His mind answered, Yes. “He’ll go,” he said, “for the same reasons I’m going. To honor his ship… and to lay down his ghosts.” Jim looked steadily at the doctor. “I’m going early. I have to see Spock first—talk to him, before I can face any of the others.”

And suddenly, sitting there at that table across from McCoy, Jim Kirk was eager and anxious for the first time, at the prospect of seeing Spock again.

 

* * * *

 

Immediately after assuming orbit, the Ambassador’s party of seven beamed down to Starbase XV and were escorted by an eager young ensign to the suite assigned to them by the upper echelon.

Kirsha had gotten her first glimpse of a Starship when, still aboard their vessel, her father had brought in a visual transmis­sion of the Enterprise in orbit upon their viewscreen. Spock had swallowed visibly at the sight of her, hanging there in space. He had known this would not be easy and yet he had not been fully pre­pared for the wave of emotion the sight of his ship aroused in him. She looked lifeless—already dead, for they had come to bury her. And yet, those familiar letters NCC-1701 still visible on her hull, somehow challenged one to pride and honor.

Fascinated with its immensity, Kirsha was still talking about it when they reached their rooms.

“And Father said the bridge was located at the top level of the main spherical section,” she chattered, with an air of famili­arity with such terms.

Her brother, Selik, stood testily to one side with his espoused wife, T’Pleish. He spoke with cool disdain. “More interesting, and more to the point, my sister, would be the location of the photon torpedo and phaser banks.” The words were flung out as a challenge to Spock, who regarded him with an icy detachment.

“It is well established fact that Star Fleet uses force only in self-defense and only as a last resort, Selik. For you to believe otherwise is biased and illogical,” Spock said mechanically.

“Illogical? Is it illogical to—”

“Selik,” his Grandfather cut him off smoothly. “T’Pleish looks weary. I believe you should retire to your room with her. We cannot have her overtaxed by this journey.” Sarek looked at his grandson, who led T’Pleish from the room, properly chastised. Such a Vulcan, he thought. The sort of man I wished Spock to be when he was that age. And yet, there is something unpleasant about that boy. Having, Spock had once said, is not always so pleasing a thing as wanting. It is illogical, but perhaps it is true. He met the eyes of his son in mute acknowledgement.

Amanda came up and laid a hand on his sleeve. “Sarek, you too must safeguard your health. There is much to come in the days ahead and we shall need our rest also. Come,” she entreated. He looked upon her fondly. Yes, he thought. Much to come. Especially after the Encounter docked tomorrow. Bidding farewell to their son’s family, they took their leave.

T’Pania busied herself arranging their things, her eyes not meeting those of her husband. Spock watched her thoughtfully for a while, then he rose and drew on his cloak.

“I go to meditate, my wife,” he said softly She looked up, nodded affirmatively, as he closed the door behind him.

Spock left the building and walked aimlessly for a little way. Presently he came to a small park that was all but deserted at this time of day. The few people who passed him on his wander­ings were all wearing Star Fleet uniforms, naturally so, for on a Starbase the population was generally about 80% military. It was on a Command Base very much like this one that Spock had first received his orders to serve aboard the Fleet’s new Starship, the Enterprise, those many years ago. He had been under the command of Christopher Pike and he had served with admiration and respect, for Pike had been an excellent officer to work with. But it wasn’t until later, when Pike was replaced by James T. Kirk, that Spock had really found a sense of belonging, had made a life for himself that he was completely content in.

The Vulcan leaned back against a stone wall and drew his thoughts inward. He knew, with the clarity of total empathy, that before too very long he would be seeing James Kirk again. And what then, he wondered. They tried to resolve it once before. They tried to go on as if none of it had happened. But it had happened, and they could not logically pretend it had not. When at last they had parted and gone their separate ways, there seemed no other solution.

Even now, the wounds were still there. He had managed quite effectively to cover them over, to go on. But could he bear seeing Jim Kirk again, and having the past rush up to meet him?

He knew he must. For in each of our lifetimes, he reflected, there is a time for all things. And the time had come now to put down the past once and for all. And that meant talking to James Kirk, his former Captain, and his friend. Kirk, with whom he had laughed and suffered, lived and worked so closely, who knew him more completely than any living soul.

Spock stood up straight and drew his cloak about him. With a renewed vigor, he was suddenly anxious to see Jim again and he knew that what he desired most in the world right now was to hear that familiar voice. They would solve this at last, as they had solved so many things in that long ago past—together.

He headed back with determination.

* * * *

Swallowing over the lump in his throat, Admiral Kirk stopped before the door he’d been told was Ambassador Spock’s suite. He was filled with apprehension, but he made himself go on. He sounded the buzzer with force, and because he had steeled himself so, he was startled when the door was opened by a young Vulcan girl.

Kirsha eyed him with open curiosity.

“Excuse me,” he· apologized, pleasantly surprised by the attractive female. “I was told this was Ambassador Spock’s room?” He made it a question.

She inclined her head formally. “You are correct. I am T’Prett, daughter of Spock.”

This was Spock’s daughter? Jim was delighted. “Well,” he chuckled softly “I’m Admiral James T. Kirk. I was a friend of your father’s.” He broke off as her eyes grew wide in recognition.

She opened the door quickly, bidding him enter. From another room, Kirk heard another female voice callout.

“Who is it, T’Prett? To whom are you speaking?”

“Mother, come,” Kirsha said urgently. “It’s, Captain—I mean, Admiral Kirk.”

T’Pania entered slowly, her eyes riveted on Jim Kirk. This human. She had heard so much about him and yet never had they met. She raised her hand in the formal Vulcan greeting.

“Admiral. I am T’Pania. I am honored to meet you. I have heard my husband speak of you many times,” she told him, a touch of cool­ness in her tone.

There was no coolness from Kirsha, as she invited him to sit.

Kirk smiled, a bit uncomfortable at being forced to make small talk with these strangers after having brought himself here to see Spock again. “I just arrived for the ceremonies,” he explained. T’Pania’s quiet nod was all the reply he got. “I wanted very much to see Spock…”

“My husband is in meditation, Admiral Kirk. But no doubt he will wish to see you when he returns.”

“Oh yes,” Kirsha agreed. “You must wait for him, Admiral.” Now, she thought, now is my chance to learn more about Father’s years in Star Fleet.

“Of course,” Kirk nodded. He glanced uneasily at T’Pania and sensed her disapproval. He did not quite understand this, but having come so far and after so long a time, he was not about to be deterred from his mission by anyone. Jim Kirk, former Captain of the Enterprise, would see his first officer—and friend.

T’Pania read his uneasiness and his determination. These humans were such uncomfortable people, she thought. Always rush­ing about so. It was part of what she failed to understand about Spock. How had he tolerated serving with the likes of them?

“You are still with Star Fleet, Admiral?” Kirsha asked him.

“Yes, that’s right. No longer active duty, however. I’m stationed on Starbase 8 as a liaison officer. Mostly paperwork.” He flashed her one of his most charming smiles.

Her composure broke for a moment. As a Vulcan child, she was unaccustomed to such charm. It was definitely unsettling. And curious. She decided that she approved of this friend of Father’s. Returning to her original topic, she asked, “But do you not miss the fascination of journeying to unknown worlds?”

“The satisfaction of commanding a Starship?”

Kirk looked at her, amazement growing in him. She was quite an astute young woman. And most definitely Spock’s daughter.

“Yes,” he admitted, “at times. It was a rewarding experience, T’Prett.”

T’Pania rose then, and gestured to her daughter. “Enough, T’Prett. The Admiral has journeyed to see your Father and you prattle on like a foolish child with your questions.” She spoke quietly to Kirk. “Admiral, I do not wish to offend you, but my daughter and I have certain matters to attend to. My husband should return momentarily and I believe you two have much to dis­cuss in private. Therefore, I welcome you to stay and await him, while we take our leave.”

Kirsha wanted to protest, but she dare not. She didn’t want to leave; she was anxious to see her father and James Kirk together again. Mother was always limiting her education. But she had no choice, so she followed T’Pania to the door. Turning, she bobbed her head at the Admiral.

“It was most gratifying to meet you, Admiral Kirk, May you and my Father rejoice in your reunion.”

Kirk stood and returned her nod. “Thank you, T’Prett. The pleasure was indeed all mine.”

With a hasty flurry, she followed her mother and closed the door behind her.

Jim stared at the closed door for a moment. What a darling girl, he thought. What other surprises does Spock have in store, he wondered. He had known Spock was married on Vulcan, but he had never considered… children. Other children.

He paced the spacious room restlessly. He picked up a news cartridge and played it through, although he paid little attention to what was said. He stared out the window for a while, then went back to sit on the sofa.

Just then, the door opened. Kirk got to his feet quickly as Spock entered the room.

Turning, Spock saw him and their eyes locked as the two stood facing each other at last.

* * * *

Kirsha paced the floor of her grandmother’s room restlessly. Here she was, on a starbase, with dozens of exciting things going on all about her, and she was cooped up with her mother and grandmother. At the next break in the flow of conversation, she made her move.

“Mother—I am going to—walk about a bit. I would like to see more of the Starbase,” she said.

Amanda smiled at her with understanding. T’Pania nodded solemnly.

“All right, T’Prett. Do not be too long, however, for your father will be coming for us soon.”

“Yes, Mother,” she replied, quickly escaping the confines of the room before her mother had a chance to change her mind.

She walked without purpose for a while, absorbing the sights and sounds of this fascinating place. She wondered abstractly if her Father had returned yet.

Before long, she found herself in front of a large structure, quite impressive looking, which proclaimed itself to be the Starbase Control Center. Curious, she walked inside.

The corridors were bustling with uniformed men and women, going about their duties. Kirsha moved among them and, although some of them gave her a second look, no one challenged her right to be there.

She made her way to the Communications section, and, once there, she was startled to hear them discussing the Starship Encounter. It was approaching orbit, only hours off.

Now there, she thought, is where I ought to be. An idea occurred to her and she found her way back to the Information Desk. A young yeoman looked up at her with interest.

“Yes, Miss—may I help you?” he asked.

“I am T’Prett of Vulcan, daughter of Ambassador Spock. I wish a shuttlecraft to rendezvous with the USS Encounter.” She drew herself up with dignity.

He looked perplexed. “Just a moment, please.”

She stood dispassionately, waiting until he returned with his superior, Commander  Ashley. The older gentleman took her hand.

“It’s an honor to meet the daughter of Commander Spock.

What can we do for you?” he asked.

Kirsha was a bit taken aback. It was fascinating how the mere mention of her Father’s name evoked respect from others.

As she was growing up, she had observed this special treatment on a few occasions when she had been allowed to accompany her father on his travels or at affairs held on Vulcan. But for the most part she had been sheltered from this side of her father’s life, mainly staying at home or attending school. And here, on a Star Fleet installation, where he was known better not as Ambassador Spock, but as Commander Spock, the respect and admiration due her father was more keenly evident than ever. Kirsha nodded her head slowly in acknowledgement of this secondhand praise. She explained to the kindly Commander  Ashley that she wished to meet her brother’s starship before it entered orbit. Without hesitation he summoned a craft and pilot for her, thinking this request in no way unusual or inconvenient.

In a short while, she was on her way, not bothering to ponder on the consequences of her actions.

* * * *

Peter Kirk turned away from his position at the communications console aboard the Encounter. He looked with some surprise at his Captain. He had just received a. most startling communication.

“Captain Stack,” he said, “I have just received notice that your sister, T’Prett, is coming out from the Starbase in a shuttlecraft to meet the Encounter.” Peter didn’t elaborate, but he watched the impassive face of his Captain. Had he seen a flicker of emotion there, or was he imagining it?

Stack raised one eyebrow. “Indeed?” he asked.

One of their distinguished visitors, Dr. Leonard McCoy, had been making a tour of the bridge and talking to his ‘honorary nephew’, Peter, when the call had come through. He turned now to Peter.

“T—who? Spock has a daughter?” he exclaimed in delighted astonishment.

“T’Prett, Doctor,” Stack said steadily. “She is the daughter of Spock and T’ Pania.” He turned to Peter and said calmly, “Mr. Kirk, you will go to the hangar deck and meet her craft when it arrives. You may show her around the ship, if she so desires, or entertain her in whatever fashion you deem best.”

Peter Kirk hesitated. Softly he said, “Stack, don’t you think you should—”

Stack shot him a cold look. “At this point, my presence is required on the bridge. It is most unfortunate, but necessary.”

His First Officer stood up reluctantly. “Yes, sir.” He turned to McCoy. “Bones, would you like to come along?”

McCoy smiled. “You bet I would, Peter!” he replied eagerly. This girl’s arrival was going to be another in a series of delightful incidents he’d encountered since coming aboard this vessel. The past few days had been one pleasant experience after another. First, seeing Peter again, and Stack too, although he had reservations about that. Then he had been reunited with all his former fellow officers from the Enterprise, who were also traveling to Starbase XV for the ceremonies. They had spent countless hours talking, catching each other up on all the news, laughing and partying far into the night. Bones didn’t know when he had last enjoyed himself so thoroughly.

And now he was following Peter down to the hangar deck to meet Spock’s daughter. Well, wasn’t that a peach! Somehow, he found it hard to imagine Spock with a daughter. A sudden memory came to him of Spock with the infant, Theron St. John. Spock would be a good father, he reflected soberly.

They were just in time to see the hangar doors closing over the shuttlecraft. Bones looked curiously at Peter, who wore a scowl of displeasure on his face.

“What’s wrong, Pete? You seem to have misgivings on meeting Spock’s daughter,” he commented.

Peter shook his head negatively. “I have no opinions one way or the other, Bones,” he said, but his expression belied his words. At Bones’ skeptic look, he added, “She’s just another dignitary’s daughter we have to appease.”

McCoy was’ about to reply, but just then the door slid open and Kirsha stepped out where they could see her. McCoy, ever an admirer of beautiful girls, grinned in obvious pleasure. Even Peter looked startled.

She was younger than either man suspected, for one thing.

Yet there was a certain dignity, bred of Vulcan heritage, that seemed incongruous to her years. She was tall for a female, with a mane of jet black hair swept softly back to reveal her delicate pointed ears. Her eyes, under thick lashes, were alert and curious.

Yes, McCoy thought, definitely Spock’s daughter, and he wondered fleetingly if her father was aware that she was here.

She stepped up to them, questioning, and raised her hand in the Vulcan greeting. She waited, respectfully, for them to speak first.

McCoy had never managed to perfect the salute, so he merely nodded, but Peter greeted her easily in her own fashion, molding his hand in the Vulcan salute.

“Welcome. I am Commander Peter Kirk, First Officer of the Encounter. This is one of our guests, Dr. Leonard McCoy, former Chief Surgeon of the USS Enterprise,” he told her.

She looked from one to the other, her mind rapidly assimil­ating the data. Peter Kirk—the same name as Admiral Kirk. The doctor—she had heard his name from her father—he had been a friend. The Captain—Stack—why had he not come to greet her?

“It is an honor. I am T’Prett. I assume you were advised of my arrival?”

“Yes, and I trust you had a good journey,” Peter told her formally.

She cocked her head to one side. “Commander  Kirk, are you of the same family as Admiral Kirk who knew my father?”

“He is my Uncle, yes.”

“I see. I had the pleasure of meeting your uncle earlier when he came to call on my father,” she told him as the three of them walked down the corridor.

McCoy looked at her keenly. “Jim came to visit your father, T’Prett?” he asked, desiring more information on this crucial visit. “When was this?”

“Just a short while ago. Unfortunately, my Father was not there at the time, but the Admiral was awaiting his arrival when I left,” she told him.

Peter, to whom all this was immaterial, could sense the girl’ s preoccupation as she looked about the ship with keen interest. He could fully understand the wonder that overtakes one at their first glimpse of a Starship—the majesty and sur­ging power of Her—and he was filled with a sense of pride in this, his vessel. For the first time, he felt a sense of liking for this Vulcan girl, who seemed to appreciate the right things.

He took her through the ship, explaining patiently and almost reverently the things they were seeing, quoting her stat­istics and facts that her eager, analytical mind seemed to comprehend at once. He was impressed by the intelligence of her questions. They went through the Engineering Section, the Medical Complex, the Science Section, all the vital areas or the ship, with the curious exception of the Bridge. Finally, he turned to her with a smile.

“Now, if you’d like, I’ll take you to the Recreation Room, where some of our guests are.”

McCoy was in full agreement. “Yes, T’Prett, I think you might like to meet some of the people who served with your father aboard the Enterprise.”

She indicated her compliance wordlessly. She hadn’t said any­thing about the obvious oversight of the Bridge, or the deliberate snub of the Captain. Stack always was a bit of a stranger to her. She knew though, that he would logically consent to see her if she so requested. She bided her time. Besides, it was more inter­esting to see these friends of her father’s than to have an unplea­sant reunion with Stack.

They entered the Rec Room and she saw a group of men and women seated around a large table conversing easily. Peter led her to them and, as they approached, the former Enterprise officers stopped talking to look curiously at the young Vulcan.

McCoy smiled eagerly in anticipation of their reaction. “Well, my friends,” he announced, “I’ve got a surprise for you. Meet T’Prett of Vulcan—Spock’s daughter!”

He was not disappointed. Several eyebrows shot up, but all of the faces were friendly—and impressed. Bones grinned at Kirsha, who stood silent and dignified in spite of her curiosity which at this moment was unbounded.

“Don’t you let this group overwhelm you, T’Prett,” the Doctor continued, taking command of the situation.

Kirsha drew herself up and looked at Bones with one slightly raised eyebrow. “Why should I be overwhelmed, Doctor?”

A few chuckles were heard from the table, but McCoy recovered himself. “Never mind,” he told her. “Here, let me introduce you. T’Prett,” he began, “this is Montgomery Scott and his wife, Heather. Scotty was the Chief Engineer aboard the Enterprise, and now runs a shipping fleet, the Scott Line, out of Orion.”

Scotty had done quite well for himself after he’d decided it was time to leave the service and settle down. He’d opened the shipping fleet and had been so successful with it that his ships were considered the number one fleet in space. The business was still expanding and Scotty had prospered. He had also met and married Heather, a beautiful young entertainer who had come to his home planet with a dancing troupe. The couple was very obviously much in love.”

Scotty smiled winningly at Kirsha. “Aye, and it is a pleasure to meet you, lass. And how is your father?” he asked.

Kirsha lowered her head. “I am honored to meet you, Mr. Scott. My father is well and would most certainly wish me to extend his regards.”

The other two couples, seated at the table were following all this with close attention. Bones turned now to the dark skinned woman with the pleasant smile.

“This is Uhura, former communications Officer aboard the Enterprise and later Captain of the USS Hornet, now retired from active service,” McCoy said.

“Her husband, B’Hustain, is delegate to the Interplanetary Advisory Council,” Peter added.

Uhura smiled sweetly at T’Prett. “It’s so good to meet you, honey. Sit down, make yourself comfortable,” she advised.

As Kirsha did as she was bid, Uhura went on. “We’ve all heard so much about your father and the wonderful things he’s been doing for the Federation.”

Before Kirsha could reply, Peter continued the introductions, pointing out the final couple at the table.

“T’Prett, this is Dr. Christine Chapel Henry, and her husband Dr. Tyrone Henry, joint founders of the Chapel-Henry Foundation for medical research.”

“Christine was my head nurse aboard the Enterprise,” McCoy put in. “That was before she decided she was good enough to give her old boss competition,” he teased.

Christine reached across the table and laid a hand on Kirsha’s arm. “I’m really pleased to meet Spock’s daughter. We all thought so much of your father,” she said wistfully. “But it must be some­what confusing to be meeting all of us for the first time.”

Kirsha shook her head. “On the contrary, Doctor. I have heard my Father speak of you all for some time, and it is a distinctly fascinating experience to meet you at last.”

Scotty chuckled. “Now that’s Spock’s daughter!” he exclaimed. McCoy smiled ruefully at the remark. Sitting down next to Kirsha, he explained, “Later you can meet our final passenger, Governor Sulu of the Federation colony, New Japan. He was the Chief Navigator for the Enterprise.” A dark look came over McCoy’s face. “There was one other officer who won’t be attending the ceremonies. Commodore Chekov was killed in active service about six months ago. His ship was lost with no survivors.”

Peter broke the silence that followed. “Well, if you folks will excuse me I really have to be getting back to my duties aboard the bridge. Bones, I trust you can entertain the young lady for a while?” he queried.

Kirsha stood up abruptly. “I would like to see the bridge, Commander. And my brother,” she commanded gently.

Peter, taken by surprise, flashed an uncomfortable look at McCoy. McCoy regarded Peter with cynical amusement. The ploy had not worked. Not with this perceptive female.

“I’m afraid that’s impossible at this time, T’Prett. Perhaps in the future…” He let it trail off.

McCoy cocked an eyebrow at him, knowingly. “The girl has a valid request, Peter. I agree it’s time she see her brother.”

Peter glowered at his old friend. Without words he told McCoy not to interfere in this. He turned to the silent and impenetrable Vulcan. “I’m sorry,” he apologized. “I’ll advise the Captain of your request.”

Christine broke the unspoken tension. “Please, T’Prett, stay and chat with us for a while. We have so many questions to ask you,” she said gently.

“Aye,” Scotty affirmed. “And I’m sure you have questions to ask of us,” he added sagely.

Reluctantly, T’Prett turned her attention back to them and nodded her affirmation.

As Peter left the room, rather hastily she thought, she ob­served the mysterious look the doctor was giving him.

Tucking her curiosity to the back of her mind, she concentrated on following the conversation flowing across the table. Before too long, the guests began to leave. They had to ready their things for arrival at the Starbase and each had details to attend to.

Finally, she and Doctor McCoy were left alone at the table.

She turned to him, her eyes questioning. “And you, Doctor? Do you not have other things to do?”

“They can wait,” he said abruptly. He wasn’t the most familiar with Vulcan psychology, but he hadn’t served with Spock all those years for nothing. The girl obviously had something on her mind, and he had a feeling she wanted to discuss it with someone.

She made a steeple of her fingers and stared at them with intense concentration. “I hardly know Stack,” she began, hesitating. McCoy’s look encouraged her to go on. “I do not know humans too well, Doctor, but I sensed something between you and Mr. Kirk earlier. My brother does not wish to see me, correct?”

McCoy lowered his head and shook it slowly. “I don’t know, T’Prett, ” he hedged.

“Why?” she asked, her voice neutral. “It is illogical. It is true that he and Father are not close, but I am, after all, of the same family and it is a discourtesy to ignore the fact.”

McCoy looked at her sharply. “Your father and Stack are not close? What does that mean?” he asked. Perhaps here, he thought, is the key to what I sensed about Stack. And why? After all, every­thing that was done was done out of love for Stack.

“Stack did not live at my Father’s house like my brother Selik and I, Doctor. Most of the time that he was not away at school, he spent at the home of my grandparents.”

McCoy chewed on that for a while. Stack not raised by Spock?

It hardly seemed possible.

Sensing his thought, Kirsha said quickly, “It was not that Father did not wish him to be home, of course, Mother too, invited him many times into our family, but Stack always refused. As a child, I could never comprehend it.”

“How much do you know about Stack, T’Prett? About his birth?” Bones asked cautiously, weighing his words carefully.

Kirsha hesitated. “I know his mother was a human,” she said. “And that she and Father were never married. But I’ve never been told much about those times,” she admitted.

Bones looked at her carefully. It was sad, it really sad, that the events that took place those many years ago were obviously taking their toll on Stack now. All that had been done to protect him, to benefit him, had backfired. There had been so much secrecy, and the events had been covered over for so many years now, that those who were closest to Stack, if indeed anyone were close to the impenetrable Human-Vulcan, were unable to help him accept his situation. When will we quit hiding our skeletons in the closet, he thought fiercely. A need to help, to be of some service, made up his mind. The time for secrets was over. It was time they laid down the past once and for all and did what they could to untangle Stack and make him the man he was meant to be.

The Captain of the Encounter, as McCoy saw him, was a twisted, neurotic mess. Oh, he functioned capably enough, got through his daily routine and managed to make an outstanding career for himself in Star Fleet. But inside he was crying out for something, and he could never be the sort of man he was meant to be, the sort of man his father wanted him to be, without his feet on the right path.

McCoy turned to Kirsha.

“T’Prett, too much has been hidden for too long. I’m going to tell you about your Father and Stack’s mother. I think you have a right to know. Her name was Tarra St. John…”

TO BE CONTINUED

 

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