Chapter 2

Montgomery Scott had learned some heavy duty swearwords in his long and distinguished career as a Starfleet Engineer. He was employing several of his favourite ones right now. Despite his gentle coaxing, his ships coolant systems had just gone off-line. Continuing under these circumstances would result in the engines going critical in a matter of minutes. He checked his navigational console. 1.3 parsecs outside Vulcan Space. Scotty huffed loudly. If he had to make an unscheduled stop off on his way to Earth, he could think of at least 120 planets he would have preferred over Vulcan in mid-summer.

"Well there's nothin' else for it." Jabbing the communications toggle a touch harshly, Scott put out a distress call to the nearest ship in the vicinity.

An hour later, Scotty stood on a maintenance platform at Vulcan Space Central, grumbling despondently at the Vulcan engineer currently examining his ship. According to Selkar, it would take a week to repair the ship, perhaps longer if Scotty kept insisting on 'helping'. From long experience, Scott knew there was no point acting offended by a Vulcan's literalism, but he was offended.

He began pacing the platform until the engineer shut the panel he had been examining with a thump. Scott could barely conceal his delight at having rattled the Vulcan's calm exterior. Selkar took a moment to compose himself before standing and facing the grinning Human.

"I have, against all the odds, completed my evaluation of your vessel Captain Scott. The coolant system will not take long to repair, but as I surmised, the replicator systems are contaminated. The work cannot be done in less than one week "

Scott's face fell. Even in this century, assuming he had the right tools for the job, Scotty could have fixed his ship's coolant system in a few hours, but the contamination caused by the coolant leak required a complete systems overhaul. He simply didn't have time to do the work himself.

Scott rested his hand on the shuttle's side and sighed. The memorial service for McCoy was in three days. If he booked passage on a liner, he could easily make it to Earth and back in a week. He turned to the Vulcan Engineer and tried a small half smile.

"Alright laddie, there's nae a thing else I can do. Will ye be looking after her yersel?"

The Vulcan nodded.

"Well then I suppose she'll be in good hands." Selkar expressed his surprise in customary Vulcan fashion with a raised eyebrow. Scotty patted his ships gleaming hull gently.

"I'll be back in no time"

And with that, he turned and began to climb down the access ladder. Before he had reached the ground, he noticed a very young human landing technician running across the hanger towards him. Panting slightly, the boy offered Scotty a helping hand which the engineer stonily ignored saying only, "I'm not dead yet son."

Scott stepped carefully down onto the floor and pushed past the boy.

"Sir - I have instructions to take you straight to customs. It's this way Sir" The flustered boy hesitated by the exit marked Arrivals and Scott turned to fix the young man with an icy glare.

"Someone wants rid o'me in a hurry?"

The boy looked very embarrassed, "No Sir - Security are clearing the whole docking area Sir".

When Scott remained rooted to the spot, the technician shrugged, " Word has it that a ship is on its way in. Something-top secret and I have orders to report back here in three minutes. "

Scott favoured the harassed technician with one of his famous Celtic smiles. "Say no more son. You run on along tae yer post. I can get to customs under ma own sails."

"I'm supposed to go with you Sir"

"Our little secret then. Go on son, ye have 2 minutes and 12 seconds left" The youth licked his dry lips and turned uncertainly towards the dock. "Well if you're sure.....?"

"Go on lad. I know ma way around just fine."

Shrugging resignedly, the young man jogged off down the corridor leaving Montgomery Scott alone by the exit. He turned and walked about three steps before realising that he had no idea where he was going. The Vulcans had obviously made some changes to the layout over the past few months.

Scott looked back the way he had just come. Curiosity was getting the better of him. Checking out the secret ship coming into Vulcan Space Central might be a welcome diversion for the engineer. And there was still plenty of time to arrange his transport to Earth. Rubbing his hands together, Scott ducked back into the Main Dock area and arranged himself out of sight to wait.

It had not taken Picard long to make the decision to go to Vulcan. Reasoning that Spock might need his support with the Vulcan High Council, he had spent the last three days tying up loose ends and making preparations. While he did not have the clout of an Admiral, Picard still had many powerful and influential friends on Vulcan. After locking up the house, Jean Luc decided to take one last walk in his brother's vineyard before leaving.

The sky was particularly blue today, only a couple of white fluffy clouds passed overhead as he stood amidst the burgeoning vines taking in lung-fulls of the clear fresh air. Even now, surrounded by such peace and serenity, the Captain could not quite forget the events that had brought him here. This place contained only memories of the past for him. Picard needed to concentrate on the future now.

As he turned towards the house once more, he saw a man standing in the middle of the path he had just walked down. Picard did not recognise him, but felt a shiver travel down his spine at the look in the other man's eyes.

"Good afternoon Captain Picard. Beautiful day is it not?"

The Captain nodded and tried to return the stranger's smile. "Indeed. You have me at a disadvantage sir"

"How terribly observant of you"

Suddenly the world around Picard dissolved into a blinding flash of light. He threw his arm up to shade his eyes, then the world went black. He had the disconcerting feeling that he was falling into a void.

The next thing he remembered was regaining consciousness in a dank, foul smelling prison cell. His hands were firmly chained to the cold stone wall, as were his feet and already the cold metal restraints had cut into the soft flesh of his wrists. Apart from the plash of water dripping from the ceiling, there was no sound. Picard did not struggle beyond testing the strength of his chains and when an hour of shouting went unanswered, he lapsed into silence, listening intently for a hint of his location but all he heard was drip....drip.....drip.......drip

The tiny transport ship seemed to sigh with relief when the tractor beam of Vulcan Space Central locked onto it. The ship had been quite badly damaged in the firefight. It was a miracle that it had escaped Romulan Space at all, far less make it to Vulcan - even with the help of the Columbia. Tarrin realised that his fingers were locked like claws onto the controls. He carefully cracked his knuckles.

Next to him at the navigation console, Darneck let go of the breath he had been holding for a considerable time in a loud rush. He turned towards the back of the small ship.

"We're on automatic now. Is everyone OK back there?"

Spock was dabbing blood from a cut above Seleya's left eye. He paused in his ministrations to scan the other passengers. "We seem to have suffered only cuts and bruises. No major injuries apparent. May I congratulate you on you piloting skills."

Tarrin snorted and turned back to his console. Darneck winced as he climbed out of his seat. His shoulder felt like it was dislocated. He glanced quickly at their Vulcan passenger, but he was too occupied with helping the others to notice Darneck's failure to control the pain. He had tried to learn the techniques Spock used almost instinctively, but he was still many years away from achieving even the most basic level. Still - one must persevere in order to succeed.

He clambered over the pile of crates and boxes that had managed to dislodge themselves during their flight, and began his own appraisal of the passengers conditions.

Spock and the boy Ashan seemed unhurt. Seleya's cut had already stopped bleeding. Tomar was bending and flexing his ankle cautiously. The final passenger, Lorea worried Daneck the most. She was still clutching the headrest of the chair in front of her and staring into space. He noted the deep pallor and shallow breathing. He was not a doctor but he could recognise shock when he saw it. Gently he began to pry her fingers from the headrest.

They all felt the soft thump as the battered ship set down on the landing platform. Tarrin appeared at the door. "Spock?"

Straightening, the Vulcan nodded and reached for the emergency door override.

Scott watched as the Romulan transport ship settled itself onto the landing pad. He could see now why the Vulcan's had cleared the area. This was dammed suspicious. He pressed himself closer to the Plexiglas window and craned his neck to get a better view. As the door began to open, a medical team hurried into the landing area and several armed guards piled in behind them. Scott watched as the first Romulan climbed out the hatch.

Recognition hit the engineer like a fist. It couldn't be? He frowned in confusion. Could it? The familiar form stopped at the foot of the ramp and turned to help the other passengers disembark. One of them, a young boy Scott judged to be about 17 or 18 years old, seemed unwilling to accept the proffered hand causing the tall man to raise a speculative eyebrow.

Even at this distance, there was no mistaking Spock. Scott smiled broadly as the passengers were herded out of sight. Quickly he turned and headed towards the door.

Scott had tried to make contact with Spock months ago but none of his new friends in Starfleet had been able to help locate the Vulcan. He seemed to have disappeared into air thinner than Vulcan's. Scott had no idea how his old friend came to be travelling on a Romulan Transport Ship, but he was damned sure he would find out.

The Vulcan High Council remained in session well into the early hours of the morning before finally granting the refugees asylum. So it was late the next morning that Spock returned to his father's house in Shikahr.

The house had not been lived in for nearly 60 years, and had a faint, musty odour despite the environmental shielding which had keep it sealed like a tomb. Spock gazed at the antique Grandfather Clock in the hall. In all the years that Spock had lived here or come back to visit, the clock's reassuring tick had been the first thing to welcome him on coming through the door, but now it was silent and still.

He shivered. After his marriage to Perrin, Sarek had sealed the house, and they had moved to a smaller one in the centre of town. That had been Perrin's decision. She had wanted a new life for them, away from the influence and memory of Amanda. Spock refused to examine his feelings about that. It would serve no purpose.

Letting the travel bags he carried slide from his fingers, he carefully opened the glass door of the clock face and picked up the winding key. A few moments later, the ancient timepiece was ticking once more. Spock felt some of the tension leave him at the familiar and welcoming sound and imagined that suddenly, the house felt a few degrees warmer.

He systematically went through each room, opening the shielding to allow the air circulator to do its job. When he reached the living quarters, he noticed a small red light flashing on the communications console. Strange - no one knew he was here. He activated the message and listened quietly to the familiar yet totally unexpected voice from the past.





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