Spock felt the irrational urge to try to run somewhere and hide. Of course, it would have done no good. Jim would see him as soon as he materialized.
He never had the chance. A sudden burst of light came from beside the Guardian and hit Kirk, who collapsed on the frozen ground. On Spock’s left, Saavik advanced, phaser drawn, on the fallen admiral’s companions: Chekov, McCoy and Uhura. The two younger officers wore expressions of utter shock. McCoy knelt immediately by Kirk and began looking him over while Chekov drew his own phaser and pointed it at Saavik.
“I hev no idea what’s gotten into the two of you,” the Russian security chief began in anger, “but you’ve—”
Seeing that none of the landing party had noticed him, Spock took advantage of the element of surprise in an attempt to prevent further injury. “That will not be necessary, Mr. Chekov,” he called out in a commanding voice.
Chekov spun, his face white. Uhura gasped so that the sound must have been loud even in human ears. “Meester Spock?” Chekov asked, his jaw hanging open.
Spock stepped out of the Guardian and came forward to stand by him. “Yes, Commander.”
He turned to face Uhura. “If you will both give us a moment to explain—” he began, but Uhura rushed forward and cut him off by catching him up in what, for a human, was an extremely tight embrace.
She pulled back, and Spock saw tears in her eyes. “Is it really?” she fumbled with her words, “I mean—”
Spock nodded gently and released her. “It is I, Ms. Uhura. All will be clear in a moment.”
“Yes,”boomed the voice of the Guardian. “The time has come. All will now be explained.”
“Well, if you’ll pardon the pun,” McCoy said harshly as he came to join the others, “it’s about time!”
“Time, to me, is as irrelevant as it is relevant,” replied the Guardian imperiously.
McCoy shot a glance in Spock’s direction. “You know, Spock, you make more sense than this thing does.”
Spock decided with some uncertainty that McCoy’s staement was intended as a compliment and nodded silently in thanks.
“Please be silent,” instructed the Guardian. “The missions have been completed, time has been resolved within itself. All that remains is for you all to be resolved back into your own universe.”
“Missions?” Uhura asked of no one in particular.
“Resolved?” wondered McCoy.
“Those you call Saavik, Spock and Metcalfe have been making use of me to restore time to its proper order.” Uhura and Chekov both raised very imitative eyebrows at Spock. “They have put right the anomalies which kept this universe separate—apart from true reality. Your life-paths will now continue as they were intended to—with certain crucial differences.”
“‘True reality?'” demanded Chekov. “What the hell is going on?”
“All of you,” explained the Guardian, “save the being Spock, are parts of a universe which was deliberately created—”
“This universe was created?” asked McCoy, incredulous.
“Yes. Intentionally created by making three simple alterations in the flow of events. Created for one purpose: to restore the mind of James T. Kirk.”
Spock began to ask how the Guardian’s created universe had accomplished such a task but was distracted by the look of dawning realization on Saavik’s face. “Of course,” she said under her breath, “the mind meld.”
The Guardian heard her. “Exactly, Saavik. In this universe, James Kirk was threatened by an intelligence which might have forced his consciousness permanently into non-being. Through your mind meld with him, he learned a vital lesson. He learned that he had begun to lose ground in his fight for life. He had lost the vital human quality of hope. His mind, had it been subjected to excessive pressure, would have ceased to function on a rational level. You, Saavik, together with the creature you called ‘the cloud,’ restored his sanity. You gave him back his strength of will and command.
“In what we call the real universe, his mind had not yet been restored when it was forced to face the death and re-birth of his closest friend, the murder of his son, and the destruction of his ship. James Kirk, in that universe, went insane. Now, the restored James Kirk will become a part of his counterpart in the real universe, and he will be prepared to face the trials ahead of him, to endure the pain few minds were meant to endure. He will hope—and thus, he will survive.”
“Guardian,” Uhura asked, “you refer to the ‘real universe.’ If we return to it, what will happen to this universe?”
“Your universe no longer exists,” it said simply. “You are the only remnants. Signal your vessel, if you wish—it will not be there.”
Uhura did so, playing anxiously with her communicator for a moment. “He’s not kidding,” she announced. “The Enterprise is gone.”
“You will all return now to your futures—through me.”
“Before we do,” said McCoy, “I want one question answered: Who is responsible for creating this universe?”
“The being you encountered earlier, the cloud which restored James Kirk.”
“You mean the thing that destroyed the Excalibur, ” McCoy corrected harshly.
“It did, indeed, destroy the starship Excalibur—in order to set up the proper scenario in which to restore Kirk’s mind—but Excalibur now functions again in this new universe.”
“The cloud,” Saavik said to herself, “is the entity which altered the minds of David, Admiral Morrow, and Dr. McCoy.”
“It did,” said the Guardian. “It also prevented the Genesis planet from degenerating as it should have. This universe has been, for all practical purposes, an entirely artificial construct. Only you have been your true selves.”
“A massive Kobayashi-Maru test,” Metcalfe murmured.
“If you wish to understand it that way. James Kirk was finally made to take the test of death and pass it on legitimate terms. The experiences he—and all of you—have undergone here have irrevocably changed your life-paths.”
“But why,” Uhura asked, “did we have to keep all of this from Jim?” Chekov started at her use of the word “we,” but said nothing.
“To protect his mind. The mind—the sanity—is a fragile thing. If James Kirk had known of the plan to restore him, it would have been unsuccessful.”
Now Chekov asked, “Did you realize thet you nearly drove him med in the process?”
“His mind is quite undamaged,” replied the Guardian. “It is extremely resilient now that its strength has been returned.”
Chekov looked at his two companions. “You both knew? Em I the only one you kept in the dark?”
Uhura grinned. “No, Pavel. I didn’t know any of this. Scotty only told me that he planted the jammers. No real reasons why.”
“Scotty?” he demanded, “I “thought Dr. McCoy did it!”
“No,” sighed McCoy. “I only tried to keep Jim away from here. It might have worked if he hadn’t been every bit as stubborn and mutinous as his two junior officers.” He winked at Saavik and Metcalfe. Then he looked to Spock. “Sorry—it didn’t work.”
“Quite all right, Doctor,” Spock replied. “As you said, it was a difficult task.”
“All this leaves me with only one question,” McCoy said to the Guardian, “why? Why did that ‘cloud’ create an entire universe just to help Jim? And you must have had a hand in this, Guardian. Why did you allow it when you knew of the damages it might cause?”
“Because none of the damages would be permanent. Only the advantages will last.”
McCoy’s question had intrigued Spock, and it hadn’t been answered to his satisfaction.
He pressed the Guardian further. “Guardian, you have never involved yourself personally in the affairs of other life-forms. Why would you involve yourself for the sake of one man? You who have watched entire civilizations fall to ruin?”
“Because it was necessary. The reasons are beyond your capability to understand.”
Spock had spent years among humans, and he had learned to detect an evasive answer when one was given. He detected one now, but he would let the matter rest—for the moment.
“I don’t believe we will be given any further answers,” he said to the others.
“Indeed,” confirmed the Guardian. “The time for talk is over. You must now take your proper places in time. Dr. McCoy, Commander Uhura, Commander Chekov,” it called as if reading a list of attendance, “you will take your captain and enter the gateway. You will be reconciled with your own present time.”
“Guardian,” McCoy began angrily, obviously still dissatisfied with the information the machine/being had presented.
“No further questions!” the voice snapped. “You will go through now.”
McCoy glared at the open portal as if it were a human face—or perhaps a Vulcan one, judging by his expression—and finally turned to help Chekov collect Kirk’s inanimate body. The Guardian had stopped the conversation at the proper time, for Spock could see that Kirk was beginning to recover from the phaser stun. His eyes were beginning to open slightly.
They carried him to the entrance, hesitating only briefly to say their goodbyes to the others. Uhura followed immediately behind them. She turned as she was about to go through and smiled at Spock. “Goodbye, Mr. Spock. See you soon.”
Spock nodded and smiled slightly in return. “I shall await our meeting with pleasure, Ms. Uhura.”
All four passed through into their new universe.
Saavik and Metcalfe came forward to join Spock at the Guardian. He had noted with interest that the young human had gone immediately to stand with Saavik upon their return from the past. Obviously, Dr. McCoy had not been mistaken about Metcalfe’s emotions for her. But then, McCoy was rarely mistaken about matters of emotion.
“And now,” announced the Guardian, “it is time for you to return. Saavik, Metcalfe, each of you must return to the beginning of your missions to the past, allowing your present selves to integrate with your past ones. Spock, since you have no past self in this time period, you will return for your rebirth—at the end of the Katra ritual. I will present the past to you now, and you will each step through at my command.”
Fascinating! The first time they had encountered the Guardian, it had refused to aid them in their leaps backward in time. Spock had used his tricorder to calculate the proper times to step through, but the results had been in error by a period of weeks. Now, it offered to aid them in returning to the exact moment they needed. Why was it suddenly so cooperative? Spock had always assumed it was a being ruled by logic, but now it was behaving with emotional unpredictability. He would find time to question it before he left, he hoped.
In the portal, the Guardian was beginning to present the events of the immediate past again. It began with the Reliant’s first attack on the Enterprise. Spock felt the surge of pain again as he watched his cadets, injured and dying during the surprise attack. He knew that, for Saavik, the most painful event was coming soon. He could read in her face that she was trying to control the grief that threatened to possess her.
In the engine room, Peter Preston, Scotty’s nephew and Saavik’s first human friend, was inhaling the coolant gas that would cause his death. He knew that the gas was flooding the sealed compartment he worked in, but he also knew that he must remain at his station. Saavik was blinking back the tears she had surely wept that day too, but had kept Spock from seeing.
Her face was becoming tense, and her hands were trembling as she fought for control.
Suddenly, as if no longer ruled by her own will, she began to advance on the Guardian.
He could tell that she meant to step through—to somehow try to save her friend. Her mind was not working rationally. Spock knew he must stop her, but Terry Metcalfe reached her first.
Grasping Saavik’s arm, he said quietly, “We don’t have that prerogative, Saavik.”
Saavik halted and, after a moment, faced Terry. He moved his hand down to clutch hers, which he squeezed tightly. Spock was grateful for his presence. He provided the emotional support which Spock himself would not know how to give.
As the two retreated a few steps from the portal, Spock returned his gaze to the events presented before them. The Guardian’s view of history had moved on now to the arrival of the Enterprise at Regulus. Within the asteroid, Jim Kirk was patiently waiting for the ship to effect repairs on her transporter system.
Waiting less patiently, his son David Marcus was speaking to Saavik. Spock could see now what he had had no time to notice before: the young scientist and his protege had developed a considerable attraction for each other there, in the fields of the first Genesis world. Again he looked at Saavik, and again she was fighting to control her grief, knowing that David must soon die in saving her own life.
Terry Metcalfe also noticed the tears on Saavik’s face—perhaps he would have noticed them even if they hadn’t been there. He was a perceptive human. His own pain at the thought of Saavik’s loss began to show on his face. He turned to the Guardian. “Must David Marcus die?” he asked in an unsteady voice.
Spock saw Saavik’s hand tighten over Terry’s. He wondered if she were allowing their thoughts to meet through the physical contact, or at least if she was reading Terry’s. She seemed to understand what he was offering.
“It is fated,” replied the Guardian.
Terry swallowed. “Could another—”
Saavik clasped his shoulder with her free hand, shaking her head. She repeated his earlier words. “We do not have that prerogative, Terry.”
“Saavik—” he protested.
She tightened her grip further. “No, don’t speak. What must be will be. We cannot change time.”
With typical human stubbornness, Metcalfe began to speak again, but halted as Saavik stroked his hand with two fingers. Finally, he nodded. Spock was certain now that she was allowing at least minimal contact between their minds, for Terry seemed to be responding to unspoken words. McCoy had been correct: Terry Metcalfe’s feelings for Saavik were returned.
Both of them knew of love—and sacrifice. Saavik had allowed the death of the first man she had loved in her short life. Terry was offering his own life in order to prevent that death. His own love for Saavik would see him die to_let her have another. Spock felt a very un-Vulcan pride in his former students sweep over him.
Saavik had released Terry’s shoulder, but still held his hand. She smiled at him. “I took my chance while I had it. I do not regret that.”
Spock watched the time portal in fascination as his own death was played before them. What a strange sensation it was, to see oneself die as a third party! He felt appreciation and satisfaction as he watched his friends’ memorial services for him, although it was embarrassing to have others watch with him.
He almost laughed—in fact, he had to fight not to—when Jim called him “the most human.” Saavik’s raised eyebrow was to be expected; she couldn’t understand, after all, that this was a gesture of tribute. He looked to the present-day Saavik to see if perhaps she understood now. She was not raising her eyebrow, anyway.
Quickly, the funeral was over, and the Guardian announced, “It is time, Metcalfe. You must step through.” Spock noted that the Guardian had ceased the play of events. Was it actually freezing time for them while they stepped through? Fascinating!
Terry Metcalfe began to approach the Guardian, still holding Saavik’s hand. “Should I take a chance while I have it?” he asked her. Spock wasn’t sure exactly what “chance” he referred to.
Saavik must have known, however, for she replied, “It is often advisable. Chances may only come once.”
Terry gathered her other hand in his, stroking the fingers as she had his in the accepted Vulcan gesture of affection. Slowly, he leaned toward her and, in a very human gesture, he kissed her. Saavik responded eagerly.
They drew back, still holding hands. “When we meet again—” he said.
“We will,” Saavik assured him.
Terry nodded. “It will be as… friends.”
“We shall see to it.”
“I don’t believe time will make me forget you.” His voice was breaking.
“That is illogical,” Saavik observed, but her face held a smile and her voice rang with laughter.
“Love is illogical,” he countered gently.
“Perhaps,” Saavik agreed, seriously now, “but I have discovered that it is… ” she smiled again, “necessary.”
They drew their hands apart, and Terry faced Spock. It occurred to him that not once had either of the young officers looked to him to see if he disapproved of their emotional display. Again, he was proud. Terry held his hand up in the Vulcan salute. “Live long and prosper. Captain,” he said.
Spock returned the gesture. “And you, Lieutenant. I have no doubt but that we shall meet again.”
“You can bet on it.”
“Had I the opportunity,” Spock said, “I would.” He allowed himself a smile at Metcalfe’s look of pleasant surprise and Saavik’s of utter shock.
With a final glance at Saavik, Terry Metcalfe stepped through the waiting portal.
The picture in the gateway resumed, and they watched as the crew of the Enterprise gathered for a wake in honor of Spock and Peter Preston. Spock graciously turned away as the events of that night in Saavik’s quarters—her first physical union with David—played out. That was a night for Saavik’s memories alone, and he would not intrude.
He looked at her instead, and could see that her mind was still a chaos of uncontrolled emotion. He wished in vain that there were some way he could help, but he could not offer her the support that Terry had been able to give. And he certainly couldn’t offer her the assistance of his own mind in controlling her emotions as he used to do. She was not a child anymore; it would not be proper.
When the Guardian announced that it was Saavik’s time, and once again froze the time flow, she turned to Spock. It was obvious that she was uncomfortable in his presence now. Despite their many years together, she didn’t seem to know what to say to him anymore. Perhaps, if he were to speak first… “May I compliment you, Saavik, on your behavior in this situation? You handled your tasks with the utmost efficiency.” He spoke formally, as if offering congratulations to a colleague at the Vulcan Academy.
“I have behaved emotionally,” she said, as if in denial.
“And yet you did not let your emotions rule you. You tempered them with logic. That is precisely what I have always hoped to teach you.”
Her eyebrow rose. “You do not disapprove?”
“You have learned how to communicate with human beings. You have learned how to love. You have learned… to be happy,” he pointed out. “To disapprove would be illogical. Rather, I am proud.”
Fighting the immediate impulse to take her gaze from his, Saavik touched his fingers. “I am pleased, my teacher, my friend.”
He maintained the contact for a brief moment, saying in her mind, Take care, my student, my child. I shall see you again.
Saavik nodded happily and withdrew her fingers, breaking their mental link. She walked silently to the time portal and stepped through with a single, backward glance to him. She smiled at him; it had been many years since she had done so.
But when she walked through the gateway, she did not disappear into the past.
She emerged, instead, on the other side of the Guardian. “I do not understand,” she said.
Spock thought over the events he had. seen and nodded. “I believe I do.”
The Guardian spoke up. “Perhaps you do to an extent. They are joined. They cannot be separated.”
He had been correct. “In the physical and mental joining of their beings—”
“Their time paths have merged. He must be brought here.”
Understanding flashed across Saavik’s face. “David?”
Spock nodded. “A mental link is not easy to control, Saavik. You know this, of course. The link has become too deep. You and David have shared too much. He knows of his fate.”
“The universe will not be reconciled until he has been united with time,” the Guardian announced. At its center, lights and colors began to swirl about. They coalesced into the figure of David Marcus. He did not move; he was not aware of his surroundings.
Saavik attempted to speak to him, calling his name, but he did not respond. She went forward as if to touch him, but the Guardian commanded, “Do not interfere!”
“What is wrong with him?” she demanded.
“His consciousness will not register here. He is an anachronism. He has no place in time.”
Spock saw guilt in Saavik’s eyes. “I have done this to him?”
“It could not have been avoided,” the Guardian said, but that seemed to be of little comfort to Saavik. “There is only one way in which this may be reconciled.”
“Indeed,” Spock asked, “how?”
“The process is beyond your capability to understand.”
“Will you harm him?” Saavik asked it.
“I will do what I must,” replied the Guardian. Saavik moved forward in protest, only to be stopped by Spock’s restraining hand on her arm.
It must be done, Saavik, he told her as their mental link re-established itself. She stood still in mute acceptance as the Guardian began to act. Inside its portal, images began to flow by—too quickly for their eyes. to register any single one. Spock got the distinct impression that all of time was playing out before their eyes.
As the images progressed, David’s body seemed to fade, losing first its color, then its opacity. By the time the events were finished, he could no longer be seen. He was gone.
Saavik’s face showed blank horror. “Where is he?”
“Everywhere,” it responded, “and nowhere. He is a part of what was—what is—what will be. He is one with time. Go now, Saavik.” Was there a touch of gentility behind that voice that hadn’t been there before?
Saavik hesitated, looking to Spock. “Go,” he said. “There is nothing more to be done here.”
Silently, she advanced to the portal and stepped through. Around her, the lights and colors played again. For a moment they seemed to come together and form a shape—the shape of something Spock had seen the likes of only once, many years ago…
For a moment, within the Guardian, he thought he saw a dragon.
Again, the Guardian resumed its display of time. When it came to the katra ritual however, and cleared the portal for Spock’s entry, he did not move.
“Why do you hesitate?” it asked.
“You have not answered the questions put to you. Why?”
“They are irrelevant. Go!”
Spock noted the anger in the disembodied voice. “And… if I refuse?”
“You must not.”
“I do,” he said flatly.
The Guardian spoke again, but this time he detected that same quality in its voice, that quality he had noticed with Saavik. “Please, Mr. Spock. Go!”
The tone was becoming familiar. He knew it. “David?”
The machine did not respond.
“If you do not answer,” he maintained, “I shall not go through.”
“Very well,” said the voice—David’s voice, “I am here.”
Spock nodded. “And you are the Guardian?”
“We are one.”
“Do you understand now the reason we went to this effort for Jim?”
“I believe I do,” Spock admitted. “But I would like you to state it nonetheless.”
“Isn’t it obvious?” he asked bitterly. “Jim Kirk was going mad. He lost his ship, he lost you, his career was over. I owed him my help. Just as I owed restitution for the other damage I had caused.”
“I do not understand,” Spock said. “What damage did you cause?”
“I used protomatter in the Genesis matrix. If I hadn’t, the project would never have become fully functional. But it did become functional—prematurely. If I hadn’t been so impatient, Reliant would never have gone to Ceti Alpha V, Khan would never have been freed. The crew at Regula… ” the voice broke, “…my friends, would not have been slaughtered. I was the cause of all that happened.”
“One man cannot know the outcome of his actions. You acted from noble intentions,” Spock protested.
“Noble intentions!” the voice was riddled with sarcasm. Spock found it disconcerting to hear such emotion coming from the Guardian. “I acted from stupidity!”
“And yet you were not driven by selfishness,” Spock countered. “I do not believe that Saavik could love a selfish being.”
“But she did!” David cried. “Even in death, I hurt her. After I had already taken you from her, and Peter Preston… I even took myself away. I died because of my own creation!” He laughed harshly. “Dr. Frankenstein… destroyed by his own creation!” He was silent for a moment. “I couldn’t allow all of that to go uncorrected. I had to do something.”
“David, how could you have had the power? Until now, you were not part of the Guardian.”
“You must understand the nature of the Guardian, Mr. Spock. It does not exist in any one time period, but in all, simultaneously. Now that I am a part of it, I can see the past and the future. I exist after my own death, and before my own birth. I can change any part of history.”
“You are immortal?” Spock asked.
“I am. The man David Marcus is but a temporary residence—a shell—a tiny piece of the being I have become… and always have been. I can see all the damage that he —I—have done.”
Now it all made sense. He saw why the Guardian had been so insistent. Why it had tried to hide the truth. Why it had allowed time to be changed. And, oddly, all had come full circle. If this universe hadn’t been created, David would never have become part of the Guardian. And,if David had not been part of the Guardian, this universe never could have been created. There was the paradox.
“But what about ‘the cloud?’ Why did it help you? What is it?”
“A very advanced being with powers beyond your imagining.”
“Is it one of the Guardian’s makers? Or part of the Guardian itself?”
“It is both, and neither.”
Spock felt frustration building within him. David was taking on the Guardian’s mysterious manner of answering questions. “Another riddle?”
“That is the best explanation I can give you… for now. Someday you will be able to understand, Spock. We await that day. In the meantime, it is enough for you to know that you have helped me make up for my mistakes… some of them, anyway.”
“That is why you created another universe,” Spock finished. “Why you went to all this effort to restore Jim’s mind.”
“Mainly,” replied David’s voice quietly. “And also because I’m proud… very proud… to be his son.”
The Guardian’s familiar voice took over now. “Go now, Mr. Spock. And remember, we will wait.”
Spock nodded. The time for questions was through. He stepped through the gateway and into his future.
And we’er not at the end yet! There’s still an epilogue. But, damn, that got cosmic! I just felt, then and now, that David deserved a better send-off.
In Enterprise Regained, I devised a mental illness for Kirk which was basically psychosis situational: he believed himself to be dead because he was mentally linked to a friend who died. Here, I posited that Kirk, at the end of Wrath of Khan, was damaged goods. Which kind of invalidates the film in a small way. Of course, STIII also invalidated a lot of Wrath of Khan, so… Dammit, sequels are hard!
“This universe has been, for all practical purposes, an entirely artificial construct. Only you have been your true selves.” A neat attempt to say that the suffering and death of 430 people just didn’t count. But now I think I understand why my friend Jan said, upon reading this long ago, that I had created a new religion. The cloud was acting like a god, deciding who lived and who died, and restoring life on a whim.
That Peter died from a coolant leak was not revealed in any version of the film.
“Saavik responded eagerly.” SMH.
The wake happened in the opening pages of the STIII novelization. I haven’t read it in a while, but I think Scotty got very, very drunk.
I just realized that I actually wrote a farewell scene for Spock and Saavik here, without intending to. When they saw each other for the last time in STIV, he seemed to have no idea who she was. So, really, they did not see each other again, except in the comics and the Pocket-verse. Years later, in the comics, I wrote another farewell scene for these two. Guess that’s my thing.
“‘And yet you were not driven by selfishness,’ Spock countered.” My personal beliefs, while I think they were consistent with the ones I hold now, were not mature. I saw selfishness vs. selflessness as a moral standard. I think differently now. Too many evil acts have been performed under the banner of selflessness.