From: Starfleet Public Relations Stardate: 42595.8 For immediate release
Enterprise Exhibit Opens
In 2263, Federation President McCollough made his speech with the now-famous passage, "It has been 200 years since the light barrier has been broken, and in those years, hundreds of worlds have happily become our friends. It is time--it is long past time--to take the next step. It is time to break through the galactic barrier and embrace the millions of other races with whom we share this varied and amazing universe."
Two short years later in 2265, the USS Enterprise, under the command of Captain James T. Kirk, became the first ship to do so. In honor of the hundredth anniversary of this historic event, a partial replica of the USS Enterprise NCC-1701 has been constructed for the Starfleet museum. A special preview was held today. Opening ceremony guests included all seventeen surviving crewmembers, who were on board for the barrier breakthrough flight.
Admiral Leonard H. McCoy (ret.) cut the ribbon opening the exhibit. The keynote address was by Ambassador Spock, Enterprise science officer at the time, a former captain of the Enterprise himself, and longtime bondmate of Captain Kirk. In his speech he lauded the men and women who contributed to the exploration of the universe and of the captain who led them there and home again. "James Kirk never regretted the fact that he would one day die. He frequently regretted that he would not live to see so much of the universe in which we live. We all must carry that torch for him."
The Enterprise exhibit is at the main Starfleet museum in Luna orbit. It opens to the public on 42603.0.
Spock wandered the reconstructed passageways alone. The dignitaries were gone; Dr. McCoy had been too ill to stay. The rest of the handful of his old shipmates had families and lives to return to, and so he was left alone with the cleaning crew and his memories. He arrived at the room he wanted. He had not toured it while the others were about. His time--their time there had been not to be shared with others. For this revisit, his desire for privacy was especially strong.
The regulation black and white area designation plaque by the door had been supplemented with a brass museum plate:
Captain James T. Kirk: 2233-2341;
Lieutenant Commander Spock: 2230--
In that peculiar mix of historical accuracy and aesthetic effect found only in museums, fragments of a number of moments in time mingled together. The cabin had been arranged for the two of them, as it had been for the vast majority of their missions, but not at the time of the barrier breach. Apparently that detail did not concern the model builders. History has a way of remaking itself.
An anachronistic assortment of articles covering thirty years lay strewn around on the shelving: mementos of various planets, battles, and discoveries. Most had been taken from the James T. Kirk museum in Riverside--the picture of David, the remnants of an Elasian necklace, the Capellan kligat, the oddly glossy brochure from the Sausalito Cetacean Institute. The last item had been printed over 379 years ago, but had been expertly preserved so as to not even show the 79 years of its actual physical existence.
Others Spock had donated. As was logical, he had sent only objects that had been in Kirk's quarters on the date of the barrier crossing. There was the peace orb from Axanar and the bow the hunter Tyree given Lt. Kirk when they parted the first time. Spock liked to think of Jim in those earlier days, before that brilliant, brash energy had been tempered in the kiln of experience. It was not logical, but it was much of the beauty that was Jim.
For the most part, the cabin looked as it did--not at the breakthrough--but just before the refit. With a nod to someone's idea of propriety, their double berth had been replaced by twin bunks been separated by the space of about a foot and a by a large potted plant. Hyspestion plakwytis stood as a prim chaperone between the two. Spock wondered who, if anyone at all, the arrangement might be fooling or assuaging. At 133 years of age, some humans' concepts of what constituted respectability continued to elude him.
He had asked McCoy for input more than once, but had gotten no helpful response, only the obvious observation that people are strange and that he didn't understand it either. On a good day he might also gain a concession that Vulcan views made more sense.
On the walls were dress jackets decorated with all the ribbons and medals earned up to the time of their retirements. In other museum exhibits--older exhibits--holographic images of officers long dead stood or sat around the display modeling uniforms or pretending to work controls, but that was deemed inappropriate--almost irreverent--while Spock and others still lived.
Pushing the plant back against the wall, Spock felt the arthritic creak in his back most acutely. He supposed that for the 200th anniversary, the visitors would have their holograms.
Eyes closed, he laid down on one bunk. By force of long habit he assumed his meditation position, hands folded, body stiff and straight out. He did not call upon Vulcan mind techniques however; this was a job for his humanity. He simply let his mind slip away.
Years ago this would have been hard to do; it was so much harder to let loose those decades of discipline than to put them to use. But much had changed over a century, and he was not now the man that he was then. Here in the memorial to the place where he had first realized the fundamental extent of his own ties to humanity, it was quite easy to push the mind rules of Vulcan aside.
He let his mind wander over the years, each dizzying discovery, each treasured day and every private night. He concentrated on absolutely nothing; he let his mind take him wherever it chose to go. And that was to the same place--or rather to the same person--it had gone in almost every unmonitored moment of the last hundred years.
Vulcans bond only with Vulcans. That was true with precious few exceptions. They had been accused of elitism--racism even--but few non-Vulcans ever understood. How could they?
The Vulcan katra is immortal, but as for the human soul, what happens to it after death remains a mystery still to this day. Vulcans bond not for life, but forever--past the confines of the body--to become truly one for all time. What Sarek had sacrificed to marry Amanda was beyond the scope of human comprehension. Diplomatic obligations might require one to give ones life, but to spend eternity alone?
No job assignment is worth that. How extraordinary must the person be who is?
When Spock was eight--a man by Vulcan tradition--he had asked his father why.
"Because to never have known her as I have would have been unthinkable. "
But what about after death, asked Spock.
"My son, you will find in this life that there are infinitely more questions than answers. One cannot turn back solely because no answer lies immediately apparent. That is the nature of not only the scientific method, but the growth and advancement of all things and all people as well."
It was not an experiment, Spock had argued. There had been attempts to capture fading human spirits. None had been successful.
"Therefore we know that your mother will not be in a receptacle in the Hall. That is just as well; neither of us would wish here there."
"Theorizing with out facts is a mistake. There is only one way to know, and I shall find out. I regret that circumstances may prevent me from passing on that knowledge when I do obtain it." Back then Spock had not recognized the grim humor for what it was. He had misunderstood his father in so many ways.
The entire Council was of the opinion it would not work, and yet Sarek seemed at peace. At the age of eight, Spock had thought his father illogical and of severely limited intelligence. Now he wished he had taken the time to know him better.
When Jim lay dying of multi-focal visceral presbysclerosis--or old age, as McCoy had termed it--Spock had tried to solve the mystery himself. They had known too many inexplicable things in their time--from Sargon and Thalassa's abilities, to Organians, to Tholian space--to believe that the end of the body must necessarily be the end of it all. So Spock had melded with him as he had died--melded so deeply that McCoy had had to resort to extremes to bring him back.
McCoy had had to resort to extremes to bring him back three times, to be more precise. Later he had confessed to Spock he'd feared it wouldn't work. They'd all known it was a risk. Two of them had agreed it was worth it. One didn't, but came along to do the best he could…as he always had.
On that day Spock had felt Jim's soul drain away, trickle through his fingers as inexorably as if he had been trying to hold back the receding tide.
When the cordrazine had kicked in and Spock's heart had restarted with a thud, the first thing he had done was laugh. How could he have been so foolish? Nothing could restrain James Kirk. Nothing. His spirit was far too big, too sharp, too strong to be contained anywhere--certainly not within Spock's own regimented mind. But as his heartbeat sped up and blood again began to reach the oxygen-starved cells of his brain, he realized something else. There was a residue there now like the scented film of salt and bits of shell and sand that remains after the tide has gone on its way. It wasn't much, to be sure, but it was something and it was all Jim--a synechdote: a part representing the whole.
Over the years, the film had thickened and hardened into something more.
Sometimes it was more than enough, like when the stars were bright and the wind whipped the waters of the bay, or on quiet nights playing chess against the computer algorithms based on Jim's games. Or when sent to save a world from destroying itself, drawing upon the skills (and the tricks) he had learned at Jim’s side, and succeeding against all odds--times like those times bellowed the smoldering embers and something would flare.
Times like this one. Here in the place they had come to know, come to find, and come to make love together, once again Jim burned vibrant in his mind.
'Spock!' As always, Jim burst in like daybreak. 'How've you been? You look older. How long has it been now?'
'Twenty-four years since your death.'
'You don't say.' The mindvoice was light; the sense of Jim within him was anything but. 'It seems like just yesterday. How've you been?'
A shock blazed through him, and he thought his heart would stop. The essence of Jim Kirk poured right through him, touched every fiber, touched every cell.
Just as suddenly, it was gone.
'Satisfactory, huh?' The tone was gentler now. 'Not even a little bit lonely?'
In his head he heard the silent laughter that he used to find in hazel eyes.
'Well, not for long, and then it'll seem like no time at all.'
"When?" Distantly, Spock realized he had spoken the word aloud. His voice held a plethora of emotions. Not one of them was fear.
'Now that would be cheating. Let's just say that you still have things to do. Don't worry, it won't be very long, and I'll be waiting.'
Pure sunshine washed over his lips, and the tide began to turn.
He bolted upright. "Jim! Wait, don't go!" The shout was unabashed desperation; nothing of Vulcan remained. He didn't care who else heard, as long as one man--was 'man' still the correct term?--had.
'I have to; I don't belong here anymore. But I'll see you soon enough in a place for us both.'
Jim wrapped around him, enfolded him, caressed him everywhere. Sweetest lips pressed his and he felt the improbably slow human pulse beneath them, tasted the familiarity of the mouth; he opened for the tongue. An invisible hand caressed his body, reached under his robe. He melted into the touch, willingly helpless as his mind and body stirred.
'I love you.'
Then he was alone.
Spock blinked back to the here and now--the museum, the ceremony. It must be late, but his time sense was skewed. The lights were at one-half and the overhead was repeating a message. "All personnel evacuate. Twenty-two minutes to life support shut down. All personal evacuate--"
Twenty-two minutes. It would be so easy not to move—to stay here in this representation of where it had begun—just to stay.
Inertia is always easier than action.
Spock drew a hand across his face and lay back down on the bunk. He reached in and back and down for any trace of the beloved voice, but all he heard was the whoosh of the door and the beep of a bioscanner.
The interruption didn't matter. Jim was no longer here. Spock stood up and faced the intruder.
It was an ensign, not even as old as Chekov had been when he had signed aboard. It was a measure of Starfleet training that the boy didn't back down. Like many Vulcans, passing his physical prime had made Spock seem more formidable, not less. Spock was not so determined to eschew the vagaries of human psychology as to fail to use that edge. He locked eyes.
The ensign swallowed, but held his ground. "We're shutting down, Sir. Shall I escort you out?"
"Unnecessary. I am familiar with the layout. I will not be here for long."
"Then--if you please, Sir." The ensign gestured to the hatchway. He reset his bioscanner for broad sweep. "It's my job to document that everyone is off."
Spock took a step toward the door, and the ensign's neck, right hand flexed in preparation. It would be easy to beam him off to someplace he wouldn't be found for long enough.
Beside the casement was a plaque to match that on the other side. He read the line again. James T. Kirk: 2233-2341. So few years that seemed--so very few. Perhaps a lifetime was not too long to wait after all. What did it matter compared to an eternity?
Spock dropped his hand back to his side. He gasped and faltered as sunshine once again streaked around his mind. 'That's my man. I knew you couldn't give up--not when we still have so much to do. I'll see you soon enough.'
"Sir! Are you all right? The ensign caught him by the arm. One look at the boy's face told Spock exactly how much his own must be revealing, but such details seemed unimportant; he had nothing to be ashamed of.
He recovered his feet and shook the boy off. "Please release me, Ensign. I am a busy man."
The half-light gave a ghostly appearance to the passageways that looked so much like the ones he had trod so many, many times. As a Vulcan he did not have to remind himself that it was only an illusion. The ship was gone, most of his crewmates were gone, but he was alive and--as the poor humans had to say so often out of a need to remind themselves--"life goes on." He still had no answers, but he had his one truth--the same one his father had had. And Jim had never steered him wrong so far.