When they returned to the apartment, it was late afternoon. The cleaners had come and gone and everything was spotless. The wood furniture glowed softly in the late afternoon sun and through the bay window the bay water seemed so close that you could almost reach out to dip your feet in the surf. The caterers arrived and with swift efficiency began bringing in the food and setting up the buffet table. A bar was also set up in the corner of the living room. When they finished, Jim surveyed his domain with pleasure. Everything looked absolutely splendid.
McCoy and Spock came in from dressing, and they each inspected the other. Spock wore the tunic that Peter had given him above fawn colored trousers and brown dress boots. The gold IDIC symbol showed on his breast. McCoy was in black trousers, black boots, and a blue tunic, "to match your eyes," teased Jim. Jim, himself, was in a light green tabard trimmed in gold and wore dark moss green trousers and black boots. McCoy and Kirk smiled at each other. "Vanity, thy name is man," paraphrased McCoy, looking smug.
"Well, we do look pretty dammed good," said Jim. "Don't you think so, Spock?"
"Captain, vanity is an unappealing vice in humans to which Vulcans are not susceptible. However, I will concur that we look esthetically pleasing in our attire."
"Huh, he thinks we look great too, Jim," McCoy snorted. "He just won't admit it. Vulcan, thy name is party pooper," growled McCoy.
"Uncle Jim, we're ready," called Peter from the doorway where he stood with Uhura at his side.
A slow smile traveled across Jim's face as he looked at the two dressed in their party finery. Peter wore a forest green tunic with silver embroidered trim at his cuffs. He had on dark brown trousers and soft brown boots. His hair was brushed and his hazel eyes glowed with excitement.
Uhura looked magnificent in a gown of gold shadowed silk, long and flowing to the floor in hundreds of tiny pleats which shimmered as she moved. Her arms and neck were bare, but she wore long amber earrings and gold cuff bracelets on both arms. Her dark skin glowed golden and her hair had been combed high off her neck and was held with a gilded comb.
McCoy gave an appreciative whistle and Uhura smiled demurely at him.
"Uhura, I've never seen you look more beautiful," said Jim.
"You will be the cynosure of all eyes, Lieutenant."
"Thank you, Jim, and you too, Mr. Spock," said Uhura.
"Peter, you look great too. I wish your grandmother could see you now.
"Oh no, Uncle Jim," Peter protested. "She'd kiss me, and fix my hair, and junk like that."
They all laughed at the look of alarm on Peter's face. "Well," said his uncle, "we'll take some holos to send to her. She would never forgive me if I didn't."
The doorbell chimed, and with a flourish, Jim offered his arm to Uhura and they went to greet the first party guests.
Kevin Riley, Christine Chapel, and Dr. M'Benga were the first of the Enterprise crew to arrive. Then Scotty, Chekov, and Sulu, came in looking resplendent in their dress uniforms. Compliments were given and exchanged freely all around.
More and more guests began to arrive, until the room was throbbing with faint music from the sound system, laughter and conversation. Uhura excused herself from the Enterprise group to mingle with some of the guests whom she had not seen since her last shore leave in San Francisco. Peter was being introduced to all and sundry by Dr. McCoy, and Spock was in a corner talking to a science officer from Star Fleet operations about the new rumored Transwarp Drive.
As the crowd thickened, Jim looked around for Peter, and saw the little boy surrounded by three very pretty young ladies. He was handling all the attention with aplomb and a certain savoir faire that boded well for his future. He saw Uhura in conversation with the caterers and more food being brought to the buffet table.
Smiling to himself, Jim heard the door chimes again, and glancing at Uhura, went to answer the door. He opened it and found himself face to face with Admiral Nogura, Commander Starfleet, and with him, three other military types. All four stood there smiling broadly at Jim.
"Admiral Nogura, welcome, it's an honor to have you in my home. Please come in, sir." Jim clasped Nogura's hand.
"Oh, oh, he thought, you better watch it James T. Scuttlebutt around Fleet has it that when the normally inscrutable Nogura smiles, the old man is at his most dangerous and in his most persuasive mood. He wants something, and for sure I'm not going to like it. McCoy's and Spock's warning came back to him now as he shook hands with the other three admirals.
"Jim," said Nogura, "I'd like to introduce Admirals Rankin, Castillo and Tao. Gentlemen, this is Captain James T. Kirk, Commander of the famous Enterprise."
"A pleasure gentlemen. Please make yourselves at home." Jim led them into the living room. "Food and drinks are over there; help yourselves to whatever you want. I'm sure you know many of my guests, so please mingle as you wish." He started to move away, but Nogura's upraised hand stopped him. "Captain, when you have a free minute we'd like to discuss something with you." Jim looked sharply at the bland Asian face, but he could read absolutely nothing there.
Nogura went on smoothly, "Basically, it's a proposal the Admiralty is prepared to offer you in regard to you future in Star Fleet. We'd like to discuss it with you, in a very preliminary way, of course, and see what your thoughts are on the matter. Of course, this conversation is unofficial and off the record, so you can be as frank and forthright about your feelings as you would like." His hand, the pressure slight but definite, was now on Jim's arm restraining him from walking away.
Across the room, Spock surveyed the crowd, looked around for Jim and saw Nogura's restraining hand on the captain's arm. He abruptly excused himself to the lieutenant and made his way rapidly to Kirk's side and stood there sill and silent at his elbow, his dark gaze on Nogura.
The cavalry has arrived, thought Jim with some relief. "Gentlemen, I think you know my First Officer, Commander Spock. Kirk glanced at Spock's set face and could almost feel the weight of his opposition to Nogura's presence. He gave Spock what he hoped was a reassuring smile, and the doorbell chimed again.
"Excuse me gentlemen. Admiral, perhaps later we can discuss what you have in mind. Meanwhile, my duties as host must take precedence."
He steered Spock away from Nogura and to the door. "Don't worry, Spock, I won't let him talk me into anything."
"Vulcans do not worry, Captain," said Spock, his eyes belying his words. "However, as you well know, Admiral Nogura is not a man to take no for an answer. He usually gets what he wants."
"So do I, Spock, so do I," said Jim, a bit grimly.
He opened the door to see Ambassador Sarek and Lady Amanda of Vulcan standing there.
'Ambassador, Lady Amanda, please come in. Welcome to my home, it's an honor to have you here."
As always he felt a little awed by the commanding presence of Sarek, but he was genuinely delighted to see Amanda again. Spock's mother fascinated and perplexed him. An earth woman who had made a success of marriage with a Vulcan was someone to be reckoned with and someone he wanted to get to know better. Amanda looked serene and lovely in a lilac gown of severe simplicity made of some rich velvet material that whispered softly as she walked.
"Father, Mother, you both look well." Spock greeted his parents with the traditional Vulcan embrace, crossed hands, palms out touching.
"My son," Sarek looked with some satisfaction at Spock. It was not so long ago that he and Spock had been estranged over Spock's choice of career in Star Fleet. But now they were reconciled, a family once again.
"Spock," Amanda said, "you're too thin. My dear, are you eating enough or are you working too hard?"
"Mother, I am consuming a sufficient number of calories, and no, I am not working too hard."
Spock and Sarek exchanged rueful glances, acknowledging the inevitability and illogic of the questions, but resigned to Amanda's ever present concern for her two men.
Amanda smiled lovingly at her son. "All right, Spock, if you're sure." "Captain," she turned to Jim. "We were most pleased to accept your invitation. This might be our only opportunity to see Spock…so for that alone we are grateful." She took the arm Jim offered her and they made their way through the crowd, leaving Spock and Sarek behind.
"I'm so happy to have you here, Lady Amanda. I can never forget yours and Spock's kindness when I was on Vulcan." Jim's voice grew husky as he remembered his pain at the end of that mission. The Time Guardian, the search for the crazed McCoy, and Edith back in time on earth and lost to him in the City on the Edge of Forever.
Amanda pressed his hand in wordless sympathy as she too, remembered his sorrow.
"And," Jim cleared his throat, and went on more cheerfully, "although Spock would never admit it, I know he is very happy to see you and Sarek."
"I know," she agreed simply, looking over at her husband and son deep in conversation and at peace with each other.
McCoy came up to them with Peter in hand. "Lady Amanda! It's a pleasure to see you again. How is Sarek? I hope all is well with him." He smiled at her and pressed her hand warmly.
"Dr. McCoy, it's so good to see you also." She looked him gratefully. This was the man who had saved her husband's life on the famous journey to Babel, and he held a special place in her heart. "Sarek is very well as you will see for yourself. He has resumed all his Ambassadorial duties once again." She noticed the child by his side. "And who is this young man?" she asked, smiling down at the boy.
"Lady Amanda, this is my nephew Peter. Peter, this is Mr. Spock's mother, Lady Amanda, of Vulcan."
Peter looked up at the lovely serene face, and expertly gave her the Vulcan salute. Amanda gravely returned it, and then gently took Peter's hand in her own.
"Peter, I am so happy to meet you. I didn't know Captain Kirk had a nephew. You know, Peter," she added confidingly, bending down a little towards the child, "I think your uncle is a wonderful man. He saved my husband's reputation and his career." She smiled at the captain who looked slightly abashed by this praise.
Peter looked wide eyed at his uncle. "What did you do, Uncle Jim?" he asked eagerly.
Amanda noticed the slight flush on Jim's cheekbones and took pity on the embarrassed captain. She turned to Peter and said, "Come, let's go and sit over there and I'll tell you all about it, it's quite a story. " She led the child over to the sofa and they sat down.
Jim frowned at McCoy, "I hope she doesn't exaggerate the story." McCoy smiled knowingly at Jim's discomfiture. Kirk hated for people to applaud his achievements and never talked about them to anyone. To those who knew him well, this strange shyness was one of his most endearing and likeable qualities.
The party was in full swing. Scotty and Christine Chapel stood by the bar and observed the milling crowd.
"You know, Scotty, this is a great party," said Christine happily munching on a fresh shrimp.
"Aye, lass, and himself is enjoyin' it mightily. Don't know when last I saw him so relaxed and at ease."
Christine nodded, looking at the smiling captain standing with McCoy. There was quite a crowd. She glanced across the room and saw Sulu in a corner with a lovely young redhead deep in conversation.
Sulu had bumped into Ensign Marie Bridges at the door. Her gorgeous red hair had attracted his attention immediately. He lost little time in introducing himself and had now succeeded in isolating her by the bay window corner.
"Mr. Sulu, is it true that Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock stole the cloaking device from the Romulans and that's how Fleet got it?" Ensign Bridges cheeks were as red as her hair, and her shining eyes were fixed on Sulu's face.
Sulu beamed back at her. "It's all true, Marie. The Enterprise crew received a commendation for that mission." He took her hand and looked deep into her beautiful green eyes.
At the buffet table, Kevin Riley felt just fine. The food kept being replenished as if by magic and all fresh too. He had already had three helpings of everything and he was still hungry. He told himself that opportunities such as these were rare, and he owed it to himself to eat as much as possible and take advantage of them.
Uhura looked around. The party was going quite well. The captain should be very pleased she thought. Everyone was having a wonderful time. Then she noticed absently that Admiral Nogura and his three companions had cornered Jim and were talking earnestly to him. Jim kept shaking his head, and suddenly he did not look happy. I wish I was a little fly on the wall, she thought. What can be causing Jim to frown like that? Trouble for sure.
Spock, deep in conversation with his father, was nevertheless aware of Jim off in a corner with Nogura. His quick glance also took in the frown on the captain's face.
"Father, the issue is complex. Have you reached a decision as to your vote?"
"Yes, Spock, I have. I will vote for admission. It is the most beneficial option for the Orions and for all concerned." Sarek pitched his voice so that only Vulcan ears could hear it.
Sarek's eyes followed his son's distracted gaze across the room to the angry face of his captain, and glancing at his son's grave face, he turned and purposely began making his way to Nogura, leaving Spock to follow in his wake.
Sarek heard Kirk saying, "Absolutely not, Admiral. I would never give up Starship command. You know how I feel about administration, and no offense sir, about administrators in general. My ship and my crew are my life. I could never be happy doing anything else." There was a faint belligerent tone in his voice.
"Jim, we're just asking you to consider it. You still have a year and a half left of your five year mission. You might feel differently by then. Fleet and the Admiralty need men like you. Men who know what it's like 'out there' and who can get things done; who are examples to those who think that space exploration has had its day. You can be the spokesperson for space." Nogura had never sounded so earnest and sincere.
"Sir," Spock's calm voice interrupted. "It is illogical in the extreme to take a successful starship commander and put him in a position not suited either to his talents or his temperament."
"My son is correct, Admiral." Sarek said. "Individual talents and inclinations are not to be tampered with lightly. There may be consequences to be regretted later." His glance rested on his son.
Nogura looking very annoyed, opened his mouth to respond to the two Vulcans, but Amanda's clear voice interrupted.
"Sarek, here you are." She came up to the group with Peter in hand. "I've been looking for you. I want you to meet Captain Kirk's nephew, Peter. Peter, this is Ambassador Sarek. He is my husband and Mr. Spock's father." She drew the little boy forward for Sarek to see.
Sarek looked down and saw a sturdy little boy with the same determined chin, hazel eyes and fair hair as his uncle. Peter's eyes met Sarek's dark ones steadily and he once again gave the formal Vulcan salute. "Live long and prosper, Mr. Sarek," he said politely.
"You do your uncle honor with your courtesy, Peter. He is a fine commander and did me a great service once on board his ship," Sarek told the child as he returned the salute.
Sarek, like all Vulcans, cherished children. Vulcans considered this both logical and wise, for children were the future. He observed that this child had a poise and maturity unusual in a human child of his age, and wondered what experiences had called them forth.
Yes, sir, Lady Amanda told me about what happened on board the ship."
"Mr. Spock," Peter tugged at Spock's tunic for him to bend down, "Your father looks like you," he whispered into the elegantly pointed ear.
Spock's eyebrow ascended into his bangs. "It would be more correct to say that I look like my father, but yes, there is a family resemblance," he responded softly.
Jim repressed a grin. No one on board the ship would have dared whisper in Spock's ear like Peter was doing. He hoped McCoy had not missed it. He caught Uhura's glance, nodded, and clinked his glass for attention. The crowd quieted down to hear.
"Friends, I hope everyone is enjoying themselves. It's a great pleasure to have all of you here in my home. Please gather around, because we have a wonderful treat in store for us. Lt. Uhura has consented to sing for us, and she will be accompanied by Mr. Spock on the lyre and guitar. Uhura?"
Uhura took her place by the bay window and Spock came over to sit beside her on the bay window seat. She handed him her lyre and guitar. The lights from The Bridge and Space Port glowed softly behind her.
"Thank you, Captain. Mr. Spock and I hope you will enjoy our selections. This first one is an ancient folk song, called 'The Minstrel Boy'. Its popularity has lasted for hundreds of years, mainly because it evokes a sense of devotion to one's country. In ancient times it was an anthem for patriotism and was adopted by military, fire regiments and police departments." She nodded to Spock and her lovely voice rang out strongly.
"The minstrel boy to the war is gone,
In the ranks of death you will find him;
His father's sword he hath girded on,
And his wild harp slung behind him;
"Land of Song!" cried the warrior bard,
"Tho' all the world betrays thee,
One sword, at least, thy rights shall guard,
One faithful harp shall praise thee!"
The Minstrel fell but the foeman's chain
Could not bring that proud soul under;
The harp he loved never spoke again,
For he tore its chords asunder;
And said "No chains shall sully thee,
Thou soul of love and bravery!
Thy songs were made for the pure and free
They shall never sound in slavery!"
When she finished, there was a moment of silent tribute, and then the applause rang out strongly. Uhura smiled and bowed, pleased at the reception of one of her favorite folk songs.
"I think you will all recognize this next one," she smiled at Spock, who took up the guitar for the opening bars of the well loved song,
"The loveliness of Paris seems somehow sadly gay
The glory that was Rome is of another day
I've been terribly alone and forgotten in Manhattan
I'm going home to my city by the bay
I left my heart in San Francisco
High on a hill, it calls to me
To be where little cable cars climb halfway to the stars
The morning fog may chill the air, I don't care."1
The sudden intrusive whine of a transporter interrupted and startled them all. They all turned in the direction of the sound to see five men materialize by the door. They were all dressed in unrelieved black from heard to foot, and Jim was stunned to see that they carried phaser rifles. Only their eyes were visible through slitted, black face masks.
"NO ONE WILL MOVE!" A harsh hoarse voice rang out through the room.
Shocked conversation stopped abruptly as others became aware of the men, and the room suddenly became deathly still. At a guttural command from one of the men, the five spread themselves apart moving and nudging the guests roughly into the center of the room.
Jim was the first to recover his scattered wits. "Who the hell are you and what are you doing in my home?" he demanded furiously.
"You will not speak, Captain James Kirk. Our mission is not with you." The harsh voice spoke again. "We will speak with Sarek of Vulcan."
"I am Sarek of Vulcan," the calm unruffled voice beside Jim spoke. "What is it you wish to say to me?"
McCoy's voice interrupted. "Jim, what's going on here? Who are these people?" He tried to push his way through the crowd toward Jim, and was shoved roughly back by one of the men.
"Bones, just stay where you are!" Jim's voice cracked like a whip.
Peter whimpered softly, and Amanda tightened her hand around the child's fingers.
Sarek ignored the interruptions, and repeated, "What is it you wish to say to me?"
"You will know in due time what we wish you to do and say, Sarek of Vulcan. Now it is time for you to know only this. We will remove your son and your wife from this place." At his invisible command, one of the men pointed the phaser rifle at Spock and Amanda. "If it is in your mind to resist or fight, others here will die."
Instantly, Amanda released Peter's hand. "Go to your Uncle Jim, dear." She gave him a gentle push in the direction of the captain.
"STAY!" the rifle moved to point to Peter's head.
Instantly, Jim felt sweat break out from every pore. He tensed his muscles to jump and willed Peter to stay still. He felt, suddenly, Spock's iron grip on his arm. DON'T MOVE! The thought burned in his brain.
"The child is not of our family," Spock's voice had that particularly toneless quality that he used only when he was very moved or very worried.
The leader spoke thoughtfully. "But I can see that he is very important to you, to all of you." His eyes roamed the crowd and noted the tense, white faces, all eyes riveted on the little boy.
Jim's face was bone white, and with an effort that felt as if it would break something, he turned his head to look at Spock. What he saw there decided him. He made no further move under Spock's still restraining hand.
Sarek spoke again. "He is a human child, and I have never met him before tonight. Therefore he can be of no use to you."
"I have observed that humans and Vulcans place much value on children. He might be useful. We will take him as well. It is time. Move!" The phaser rifle nudges Spock and Amanda with Peter to stand by the leader. Spock bent and picked Peter up and held him in his arms. He felt the child tremble and tightened his hold.
Beside him, Jim felt Sarek's body twitch once in an uncontrollable protest, but the movement was almost instantly checked.
The man spoke again in his guttural language, which the Universal Translator was apparently unable to decipher, and as suddenly as they had come, the shimmer of the transporter took them. The last thing Jim saw before they disappeared was Spock's grim face and Peter's frightened hazel eyes.
1 Copyright 1923 Music by George Corey (1920-1978)
Lyrics by Douglass Cross (1920-1975)