June 2259 – Starfleet headquarters, Daystrom Institute
"Noooo, not now, I don't want to die. Not alone, not like this". Admiral Christopher Pike felt himself getting extremely weak, pain travelled throughout his body. The room was getting darker and darker as he lay on the floor gasping shallowly for oxygen. The thoughts and feelings going through this mind; fear, despair, anger and loneliness.
All of a sudden he felt a voice join him. "You will not die Admiral. I will not let you". He recognised a Vulcan accent.
If Pike could laugh he would have, it seemed God or whatever Deity existed in the afterlife was a logical Vulcan after all, what a joke.
"Not God, Admiral. This is Spock. You are seriously injured. I am stabilising your condition. Medical help will be here momentarily".
Pike's last thought before he succumbed to the darkness. The afterlife was even funnier than he thought, God was not only a Vulcan, He/She/It looked and sounded just like Spock.
January 2260 – Starfleet General medical hospital, Caribbean campus
It had been six months or as his consultant Vulcan healer Salas would say six months, three weeks, two days, 45 minutes and 23 seconds since he looked death in the face (again) and won. Pike considered he must be one lucky bastard.
The view from his hospital room was amazing. The Caribbean islands were a beautiful part of the world. A great place for a very, badly injured convalescing admiral. Peaceful, tranquil, sandy beaches, relaxing, what more could a patient want to aide their recovery?
He considered how far he had come in that time. It seemed Spock's mind meld gave him the precious minutes his body needed to avoid succumbing to his fatal injuries. Once the paramedics got to him he was immediately transported to Starfleet medical and placed into stasis. He had extensive nerve damage from phaser shots from a weapon that Starfleet officially did not own but thanks to Admiral Marcus and his handiwork created a weapon even more destructive than the average phaser.
The fallout from that drama was still being played out. Court martials and Federation Parliamentary hearings were still taking place. Thankfully not many senior admirals were involved in the conspiracy. The few that were had been killed at the Daystrom, jailed or 'encouraged' to resign. The other Starfleet personnel were demoted or jailed depending on how large their involvement.
One aspect that came up that media outlets could not stop discussing was how this exposed how too Human dominated the senior command is at Starfleet. Well things were definitely going to change. The present ratio of Starfleet being 62% human and 38% other Federation was not good enough and borderline speciest.
"The politicians would have to sort that one out" considered Pike aloud as he picked up his comm to make his dinner menu selection for the day. Before he could decide whether to choose Cardessian style curried goat or Vulcan vegetable and mango surprise. (It appeared whoever created the hospital menu had a sense of humour) the room's videocomm chimed.
"Greetings Admiral". It was Spock. Pike checked the comm's chronometer 13.00 local time on Earth that made it approximately 18.00 the following day on New Vulcan.
"Hi Spock, how is your vacation going on New Vulcan".
Pike was always happy to speak to him. He held a soft spot for the young Vulcan, ever since he met him as a new recruit all those years ago. The then shy, young man had come a long way. Amanda his friend would be so proud of him. Thinking of her made him feel sadness again for the wasted life and all those other wasted lives which ended prematurely over a year ago. The feeling will never go away.
"It went well, Admiral. However Uhura and I are now on Risa" responded Spock.
"Is this why you are wearing that loud looking Hawaiian shirt" laughed Pike. Only Uhura could get Spock to wear something so colourful.
"She believed it was logical to blend into the culture. An exercise in cultural communication" replied Spock.
Yeah right, thought Pike. He smiled. Spock was so whipped it was as if he had a cat o nine tails stuck to his back
"So why the change from Vulcan to Risa?" asked Pike.
"Kirk" was the answer Spock gave. That said it all thought Pike.
Spock explained since the Enterprise was being reconstructed the crew had been given a long leave of absence after they testified at The Marcus inquiry. Spock and Uhura went to Vulcan after spending time with both their families on Earth. However Kirk also encouraged them to join him at Risa for part of their vacation.
There is something different about him, considered Pike. He looks more at peace with himself or something.
"And how is the indomitable Captain Kirk" laughed Pike. "Hope he is still managing to keep on the right side of the law."
"Captain Kirk is endeavouring to operate at optimal efficiency". Spock's eyes twinkled as he responded. "I believe his friendship with Carol Marcus is having a stabilising influence on him".
"Carol Marcus!" exclaimed Pike in surprise. "Well, well, well wonders never cease. I suppose something decent had to come out of the trials the crew endured for the last six months".
"Indeed" replied Spock. "I also have other pleasing news to impart. Lieutenant Uhura and I will be holding a bonding ceremony at the Vulcan consulate in Nairobi, the month of April on the 23rd day at 14.00. We will be honoured to have your presence."
"Congratulations Spock". Pike beamed. "Good to see you making an honest woman of her before you head to the stars for five years."
"It is said that she is making an honest Vulcan of me". replied Spock humorously.
The two continued to talk until it was time for Spock to leave until his next communication. Both Spock and Kirk made it a habit of calling the Admiral each week to check on his progress ever since they returned to Earth.
Pike was so pleased to see them bonding as not only colleagues but friends. He needed to hear good news despite his own unsettled situation. Starfleet command had given him as long as he needed medical leave since he awoke from his coma. His injuries were such that they required a specialist to deal with his situation.
The Federation's best medical staff were mainly Vulcan but most of them had perished by the hands of Nero's madness. Hence those in the Vulcan Diaspora had to step up to the plate. His consultant Salas was one of few experts left in his field. He was a civilian assigned on temporary assignment to Starfleet since the destruction of the Kelvin Memorial archive. His skills and those of his excellent team prevented the death toll from being even higher than it was in London and at the Daystrom. He even assisted Commander McCoy in Kirk's miraculous recovery from extensive radiation sickness.
After the call Pike sighed. He knew he had plenty of time to recuperate. But being in hospital gave him a lot of time to think. To consider the choices he made in his life. Did he have any regrets? Not really, the only one perhaps was marrying his ex-wife Lisa. They were both young but not truely ready for marriage. Despite 23rd century medicine 'accidents' still happened and Lisa got pregnant when they were both 21 and studying at Starfleet. There was no stigma to their situation but Pike was traditional in some ways and wanted to 'do the right thing'. However at five months Lisa miscarried and over time she felt that she was trapped in a marriage that might have never happened if not for the baby. So young cadet Chris Pike despite wanting to make a go of things and have the long happy marriage his parents experienced granted her wish for a divorce. The marriage had lasted 10 months. Ever since then Pike had relationships when he could, he was not a player but he was not a celibate monk either. He was discreet in his dealings but never managed to find his 'One'.
Perhaps he was too old for wife, children and the white picket fence even if he was in his prime at almost 55 years old. As long as he stayed away from alien mad men or vengeful augmented humans he had at least another 100 years to go. So was it too soon to think about retirement, should he use the opportunity to start a new life without Starfleet? He had experienced more drama as a Starfleet officer in the last two years than all his 33 years of service.
Pike picked his menu option. The Vulcan vegetable and mango surprise would help keep his weight down. He made his choice and decided to make the most of another day sitting on the beach in Paradise. Questions about retirement and Starfleet could wait. The hospital grounds bordered on the beach, time for some Vitamin D therapy courtesy of the hot Caribbean sun.