Chapter 12

Awareness came to the Vulcan slowly. When finally he could open his eyes, he was met with an impression of nothingness that was quite impossible to describe using words alone. He appeared to be floating in a vast grey void, which extended all around and beneath him. There were no sensory stimuli present at all. Spock's mind cast around, futilely searching for something to fix on to. But there was nothing.

After a few seconds, his sub-conscious mind took over, searching his memories for some kind of comparison. As those memories began to fill the void, Spock nodded slowly.

So this is how it works. Faced with a void, the healthy mind will always supply an alternative - not unlike daydreaming. Fascinating

The thought had barely coalesced in his mind when the greyness before him wavered and he found himself standing in his mother's garden. No daydream, no hallucination could be as real as this. He could smell roses and feel the warm desert breeze against his cheeks. He could hear the faint cry of a silver bird as it caught a desert updraft and soared overhead.

He reached down and touched the petals of his mother's favourite rosebush and winced when he accidentally brushed against a thorn. A tiny point of green blood sprung from the puncture hole on his forefinger. Even being prepared for this, Spock was genuinely shocked by the allure of this situation. He knew exactly what point in time the nexus had brought him to.

This was the day, so many years ago, that Spock had told his father he was entering Starfleet. Knowing that this was all a very sophisticated illusion did not prevent Spock from wondering what it would be like to enter the fantasy and actually live his life over again. To do things differently, to perhaps heal the rift that had opened between himself and his father due to the choice he had made this night.

Spock saw now why Kirk had not fought the illusion. Starfleet had been his entire life - and once that life was over, he had been left with a huge void in his life. The nexus offered Kirk his life back, and more, the chance to live it over and over again, any way he saw fit. A most compelling situation.

"Spock? Your father's waiting in his study."

He turned at the sound of his mother's voice. She stood just outside the door to their home, silhouetted against the sun's bright light. Spock experienced a moment of deep sadness. If he allowed his subconscious mind to take over now, he could step into this illusion and be with his mother again. Spock shook his head. Illogical - his mother had been dead for over 60 years and there was nothing to be gained from living in the past. His life story was already written - he had very few regrets.

Realising that he had already taken several halting steps towards the figure in the doorway, Spock turned and headed for the gate at the bottom of the garden that lead into the desert. He had a mission to accomplish, he must focus on that. Jim Kirk's life depended on it.

James Kirk swung the axe high over his head brought it down with a resounding whack onto the piece of wood. It fractured cleanly down the middle leaving the axe embedded in the chopping block. Jim smiled. It had been a very long time since he had last chopped wood. Nice to know he still had the knack.

He straightened and sucked in a lungful of the crisp mountain air. This was the life. Jim wondered why he had ever left. A sense of disorientation hit him as he struggled with the fleeting memory. It had something to do with....Starfleet. Yes that was it. He had left this place to return to his career in Starfleet. And yet here he was. This was his cabin, the one he had shared with Antonia.

Kirk swung the axe again. Whack. Somewhere overhead he could hear the shrill cry of an eagle. The feeling of displacement began to recede as he concentrated on the task of chopping firewood. Why worry? The sun was hot and the sky was blue. What more could a man ask for?

As the axe split another chuck of wood, Kirk became aware that he was not alone. He shaded his eyes from the sun's glare as he watched the man emerge from the forest.

"Good morning Captain," said Spock. Kirk let the axe drop at his feet.

"Spock? You..." he trailed off in confusion. Spock couldn't be here at his cabin. This wasn't how it happened.

The Vulcan looked over Kirk's shoulder at the log cabin and raised an eyebrow. He did not recognise the structure. However if his own experience within the Nexus was any judge, this must constitute a turning point in his friend's life, one that the Captain was now at liberty to alter.

"How long have you been here Jim?"

Kirk shrugged. "I - don't know Spock. Last thing I remember - I was on the Enterprise B at the deflector relay station, the bulkhead in front of me disappeared... and...."

Spock took a step towards his friend, but Kirk backed away. "You were there Spock - on the Enterprise. I - don't understand."

"It is quite a long story Jim."

Kirk backed up to the cabin door. In confusion he placed his hand on the doorframe. "This place - Its like going back in time. This is the day I told Antonia that I was going back to Starfleet. Nine years ago. My God Spock - its exactly the same except - except you weren't here."

And with that, Kirk disappeared inside. Spock hesitated. If he were to take Kirk out now - would he be altering the future? This went against every moral fibre of Spock's being. It should be a simple matter of logic but his thought processes seemed somehow to be addled by a very human and yet very familiar emotion.

Stepping through the doorway, Spock found himself in a kitchen. Kirk was cracking eggs into a pan. "Jim we have to go back."

"Go back. Go back where Spock? I don't understand what's happening here but I do know that I belong here. No, you run along back to Starfleet. Look me up on your next shore leave..."

Spock closed his hand around Kirks wrist with considerable force. "I can't leave without you Jim. Look around. You know this cannot be real. Trust me."

Kirk jerked his arm free. He dropped the pan back onto the stove and strode to the window. " I've been given a second chance, Spock. I don't know why, and frankly I don't care. I can make things right - this time I won't leave her." He wheeled round to face Spock, "I won't leave."

Spock knew he was out of time. He could feel his sub-conscious mind running through scenarios. Stay here, make a new life, don't loose Jim again.... He looked into his friends' eyes and saw the pain and confusion written there.

"Believe me, Jim if any of this were real ...."

Spock reached for the juncture of Kirk's neck and shoulder that would render him unconscious. As Kirk buckled, the reality in which they existed dissolved into blackness. Spock was aware of a blinding flash of light before the darkness claimed them both. That - and the faint sound of an axe chopping wood.

Lien stood in the doorway and watched in horror as the Vulcan reached for Kirk's shoulder. The shock of seeing Spock here had frozen him to the spot. No sooner had the fingers made contact, than the world around the Q dissolved into shards of blinding light. He clutched at his head and screamed in agony.


It was a very long time before he could think again. Kirk, and his chance of revenge, were gone leaving a dark streak of black space penetrating his tunnel of light. Tiny points of starlight twinkled mockingly at him through the jagged rip.

Fighting down his rising nausea, Lien staggered back from the tear and tried to consider his options (such that they were). He still had Picard and enough power to destroy this universe, but he wanted Kirk too. It wasn't enough just to kill him, he had to suffer first, like Picard had. If he ventured out of the nexus, he would become weak and vulnerable to attack but he had no option - he had to find Kirk - it would probably drain every ounce of strength he had left, but he would not let Kirk escape him again. All he needed was some time to grow strong again.

He smiled a cold smile. It would seem that Picard had a bit longer to live.




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