Chapter 2

USS Contact NCC-26546, Bridge

Saavik issued orders the moment she regained consciousness. “Report, are those away teams off the ship?”

Kyle Nachson turned from his station, the light from the red alert catching on his tanned skin and blond hair, bleached from Vulcan’s sun. “Aye, Captain. They’re back on the Enterprise.”

“Raise shields,” she ordered. Not only for possible hostiles approaching from the outside, but because her ship had been attacked internally, and whoever was responsible might try to go to Kirk’s.

Something else she needed to eliminate, just like getting the -- landing parties -- off the Contact. “Take us below them and put distance between us.”

The order came back to her. “Dropping below the Enterprise.”

Saavik knew she might have only heard the beat before the name or it may have actually been there. If it was, it was understandable.

The Enterprise filled the main viewer, the ship from Kirk’s first five-year mission, like a traveler through time, even though it was actually the other way around. They had been able to confirm that much, partly due to the Vulcan standing near Saavik’s chair.

She looked up to her husband as he watched the screen. “Spock.”

He blinked and turned to her. “Fascinating.”

“Yes.” But she needed to be this ship’s captain right now. They would hopefully have time later for privacy and talk about what this meant. Vulcans were true multi-taskers, so a portion of her mind when through what the impact was, especially to him, even as she stayed her crew’s commander.

Their view became the other ship’s belly and the underside of the saucer. She noticed every person on the bridge glanced up at least once and lingered there. Also understandable.

Spock came to the side of her chair. “If we are to be cautious, and remove their temptation of looking at a ship eighty-five years in their future, we may go to the full extent and remove the lighting.”

“By all means, let us do paranoia well. Darken the hull.”

Outside, lighting snapped off all around the exterior. Only the glow of the navigational deflector and the warp nacelles remained. That, even with the portholes, could not illuminate the ship.

“All stations report. We will start with you, Mr. Sotraun.”

Saavik’s Vulcan engineer responded over the comm panel in her chair arm, his voice so deep that Hikaru Sulu said it made his sound like a soprano. That voice, calm with the rumbling tones, anchored his people. So did his enormous size and the unusual gold eyes against his dark brown skin. Some of the humans whispered they made him look mystical. “Engines tests are all positive, Captain. Full control has returned. However, I must draw attention to the fact that we had the same readings before the problem that brought us here. At this moment, if we go forward without establishing how this sabotage was done and if more can be triggered, we could extinguish ourselves. We are testing further.”

Saavik merely nodded, but other faces showed disappointment, even a little fear. They and the Contact were played like puppets, and no one knew if they were safe yet.

Thalla Sh'shytral, an Andorian shen female, didn’t wait for Saavik to ask. The red alert turned her blue skin to a shade of purple. “I can only echo Engineering, Captain. I have full control of the helm now, but we had it before. We haven’t found what was sabotaged or if it will happen again.”

Kamila Patrik at the next station rose to her feet. Quite thin with a somewhat narrow build that was all angles, she would be half a head lower than Saavik right now if her captain wasn’t sitting down. She was a classic redhead with a peaches and cream complexion that, like everyone else, was affected by the red lighting. She brought over the initial test results. “The report gives how we were effected, but cause and possibility of it happening again are unknown. We’re going through it all circuit by circuit, line of code by line of code. ”

“Captain.”

Saavik turned her chair to her first officer, Risteárd Imre, standing next to the seated Bimojigar. Short, a meter and a half, so roughly to Saavik’s shoulder, he came by recommendation from Saavik’s former captain, Truman Howes. He looked over his shoulder as he got the data together, the large green eyes under the longer, sandy brown hair focused on getting the answers she needed. “Putting together Engineering with the Conn and Ops, the sabotage looks like a worm program. ”

He stood at Science II.The modified state-of-the-art station split out Communications, rather than bundling it with several functions like on other Starfleet vessels. As Saavik fought with Starfleet Engineering over it, Bimojigar showed up at her office door with a note from Admiral Nyota Uhura, who, naturally, did not have to be told by Saavik to know about the battle going on. Being the head of Starfleet Intelligence meant she heard a lot.

The note read, "Just what the captain ordered." A Communications specialist that could also be an Assistant Science Officer if needed. That shut Starfleet Engineering up. Or Uhura had; Saavik never asked.

She watched Imre slave the station's scientific functions to Science I, giving it higher abilities.

He turned when he finished doing that. “It hit us in all those areas, producing exactly what you think. T’allendil, show the captain.”

The Contact had recently undergone a major refit and Saavik had taken full advantage of it. Since bridge configurations varied from one Ambassador-class vessel to another, she jumped at the chance to integrate what up-to-the-minute designs Vulcan had created for their stations, and then added her own tweaks. The result was her bridge, made for her crew, with her as the commander that stood as Vulcan’s shield. Spock gave the science station alone looks of approval.

So Saavik’s science officer, born on the Kir-alep colony, had something unique at her command. T’allendil was the opposite of her fellow Vulcan in Engineering: delicate, pale, and dark eyed. “The sabotaging program sent us to the limits of our warp factor for a course to Rekonda Alpha-20. It was at this point when we were rendered unconscious. Systems, however, recorded our acceleration, causing the path around Rekonda. Here is the data, Captain.”

Saavik brought up the information at her command chair. It confirmed her suspicions and she immediately looked up for Spock’s reaction. He read it through carefully before he nodded. “Whoever did this created the light-speed breakaway factor.”

By allowing the high gravitational pull of Rekonda Alpha-20 to accelerate the Contact to even faster speeds, the saboteur’s calculations then broke them away from the star, creating a whiplash effect and an artificial time warp.

Nachson asked, “A light-speed breakaway factor?”

Saavik hadn’t taken her eyes off Spock. “You would have heard it called the slingshot effect. The crew under James T. Kirk's command performed it three times. You will each research their records for getting answers to our situation. Mr. Sh'shytral, what is our location?”

“We are still on course for Babel, Captain.”

Babel.

Spock and Saavik immediately went back to the main screen. He said, “Confirm Stardate,” appreciating that the crew would respectfully answer, even with his not being in Starfleet anymore.

T'allendil reached out to the closest marker buoy for the current date and coordinates, to double-check the answer. “It is 3844.8, Ambassador.”

Saavik didn’t need her husband to confirm it. She knew the Enterprise’s missions, but she also knew without him telling her -- or even by using the very powerful bond between -- just what was going through his mind. What she did do with their bond is pour all the love and support she felt for him into it.

Because this just wasn’t McCoy, Chekov, and his other shipmates. It wasn’t just his younger self being there. It was all of that plus Sarek and—

--and Amanda, his mother, and Kirk alive again. In their future, in her Spock’s past, they would die within a year of each other.

Saavik did not compare her own loss to his. Still, the part of her mind that went over it all brought back Amanda’s smile; her stubborn and commanding looks; the light touches as she pushed a lock of hair behind Saavik’s ear or touched her on the arm; how she had told Saavik she was loved. How Amanda had called her, “my favorite stray.”

Saavik heard Kirk again challenging her, fighting for her, supporting her, and telling her that she would be brought back to his Enterprise if he had anything to do with it.

As for her husband and what he thought…

The captain part of her mind added the personal to the professional. “If we were entertaining that bringing us to this point was merely a coincidence, I believe it has been ruled out. ”

Spock noted mildly, “You were not entertaining that thought.”

“No, I was not. One of the remaining questions is, what links us to this Enterprise at this point? They are headed to Babel for the Coridan vote, and we were en route to Babel for the anniversary of that vote. Could this be the Orions?”

T'allendil answered, “Scans give no sign of Orions in the area.”

“Systems in the area?” Saavik knew them, but hearing the information could trigger a connection now or later. That was true for both her and her crew.

Her science officer listed Endicor, a neutral world, Anteus and Trelos, both Federation members in Saavik’s present, and Frubia, another neutral world.

Nothing there.

Saavik turned back to Spock. “You are on both ships, of course.”

“But not my parents.”

“No. And you did not affect the Coridan vote, other than your work against the Orions. If they wanted to affect Coridan’s membership, it seems they would make sure Sarek was aboard this ship as well. So is it you in particular or the Contact?” They took a half-beat and Saavik then spoke, “We still have too many unknown factors. Mr. Bimojigar? ”

Bimo, as some called her, was Sozon, a people who evolved completely underground, sightless and burrowing in the dark, so Bimojigar lifted a face with small rolls of skin where eyes and eyelids would be. She swayed her head with its thin, pink skin to catch the rhythms of the sound at its best, like a concert pianist at a grand piano. She could tell everything about what a person left unsaid or how they said what they did. Nachson would fondly tell people that she didn’t need her station at all.

“Captain, the programming was not triggered or installed from an outside command. Nor did the unknown party make contact to someone outside. Not even before we left, Captain.”

Saavik turned over the possibilities. The obvious point was she had a saboteur on board, but an outsider or one of her crew? “Mr. T'allendil, ship wide scan. Confirm our total number and then a break down by species. I want to know if the saboteur is a stowaway as well.” That would only take a second. She called out to the air, “Dr. Stewart.”

“Stewart here.”

“Dr. Stewart, I’m searching for this saboteur.”

“You believe he’s on board?”

“I have no reason not to eliminate the possibility that he is. In that vein, you must confirm your medical staff are your staff. Scan, blood analysis if necessary, with a comparison to their record.”

Frances Stewart got it immediately. “We’re looking for imposters.”

“In the Enterprise’s original mission to Babel, an Orion passed himself off as an Andorian.”

Thalla Sh'shytral’s moving antennae swiveled backwards at that.

Saavik continued, “Once this is accomplished, Doctor, form teams. All departments will be checked in the same way as yours.”

“Let me guess. Security first.”

“Exactly, Doctor. If you can confirm them, your teams are to include a member of Security. No one is to travel alone.”

“Yes, Captain,” and Stewart signed off.

Saavik got up from her command chair and took a place in the center of her bridge. She gave her officers the quiet power of a Vulcan commander that they needed and expected, and they gave her their attention. “You heard my orders and Dr. Stewart’s conclusion. The saboteur could have taken the place of one of the crew. The next conclusion is inevitable. If the saboteur has not taken the place of a crewmember or stowed away, one of us could be responsible. No one is accused at this point and I will claim no one guilty without evidence. If the time comes, you know your responsibility is to this ship. When you consider who in your department may be responsible, you will also need to consider the command staff. That naturally includes myself. Ambassador Spock and the other diplomats are also to be considered.”

Saavik looked at her husband. “I will need your assessment of the diplomatic parties.”

He nodded.

Her bridge crew did right by her. No one complained, no one suggested they should be excluded, and -- what she thought most important -- no one said she or Spock should be excluded. They knew their duty.

Nachson suggested, “Going back to how it was done and us trying to find it. This worm program could have deleted itself after it finished bringing us here.”

Saavik had thought of that as well and it was more disturbing, in some ways, than if it remained. Finding that sabotage gave them information and they needed information to do anything, including getting the Contact and all of them home.

Saavik looked in the direction of the dedicated emergency turbolift and then again to her first officer. He had moved to a secondary station. “Mr. Imre, are we certain this does not come from the battle bridge?” He didn’t answer immediately so she added weight to it. “Mr. Imre.”

“Sorry, Captain. Yes, we made sure.”

She took a few steps closer to see the station readouts. “You found something?”

“It’s minor at this point, but I want to research further.”

She trusted his judgement. He’d bring it to her in time, if necessary.

“Captain,” Bimojigar called. Her large incisors snapped down into position, showing she was disturbed. “The diplomats have been complaining. I explained what a red alert means and refused them access to you. Nicely.”

Spock moved up to her station, his light ambassador’s robes turned red under the lights. “Patch me through.”

She would, Saavik knew, deftly bring in each diplomat’s cabin into a comm group for Spock’s use. Nachson called over to her. “You’re my naked mole rat queen, Bimo. ”

She didn’t frown because her people didn’t know how: such facial expressions never developed in their species, maybe because they couldn’t see each other. She also wouldn’t frown because her people had the equally rare trait of being eusocial mammals. She missed the extreme closeness of her clan. Nachson and the others knew it; it’s why he made such a comment in the middle of a red alert.

Her swaying hitched and then moved on. “I am not a queen, Kyle. I am a secondary female, I do not reproduce. However, I studied the mammal you mentioned, and from what I can surmise, I do look like a large one.”

Bimojigar’s head swayed to the port side of the bridge. “Someone is coming up the lift, Captain. Most likely from Sickbay. I think it’s Ssaalz. I hear talons on the flooring.”

Saavik’s hearing was excellent, even above the Vulcan norm, but the Sozon certainly reigned above her. The lift doors opened in the next second and Ssaalz, the junior medical officer, did indeed come on to the bridge to perform the scans on the command crew. She was a Carreon; if, as Nachson said, the Sozons looked like Earth’s naked mole rats, then the Carreon looked like shoulder high salamanders. Ssaalz had the same black skin of everyone in her species, but her neon stripes were green, where they showed outside her uniform jacket, and her lidless eyes were a dark moss color.

Saavik refused favoritism in her crew. No one got on board, no one stayed there, and no one got preferential treatment simply because of who they knew. Not even Imre with Captain Howes’ recommendation or Bimojigar with Uhura’s. Each crewmember earned their job and kept it the same way.

But, internally, she let herself feel a warmth at seeing Ssaalz, her very close friend Rrelthiz's youngest and most curious child, who was named after Saavik herself.

A Security officer stood by the lift doors, armed, Saavik was pleased to see.

Spock, of course, wasn’t part of the crew, so he could give Ssaalz a look of partiality. But the young Carreon was doing her over-the-top professional routine, worried people would think she was favored. She told no one of her relationship to Saavik, and the people who did know, like Nachson and Stewart, kept it quiet. She started scanning Spock, the medical tricorder held in her seven talons that matched the ones on each foot that Bimojigar had heard.

Saavik turned back to the main viewer, back to the Enterprise. It clearly wasn’t a coincidence, but then why? It had to be Coridan. Someone wanted to come back here and… stop the Babel vote? It seemed likely.

But it had to be more. Kirk taking the diplomats to that historic vote didn’t necessarily need the Contact. In fact, Sarek, her father-in-law Sarek, traveled with his wife, Perrin, to the Babel anniversary on another ship; surely it would have been better to bring him back in time. As one of the ambassadors had said then, “His vote carries others.

Spock ended his talk with the other diplomats on board. He caught her looking at him. She said, “I obviously correct my earlier statement. I am now pleased our Sarek is en route on a separate transport.” Along with some of the key former Enterprise crewmembers, since they, and Sarek, had been on Earth, meeting with the Federation Council.

Saavik and the Contact were meant to bring the entire Vulcan party, as well as McCoy and the others, home.

“I would add the question,” said Saavik, “did our saboteur not know transporting Sarek had changed? Except evidence at this stage proves the saboteur is here, and therefore well aware the entire Vulcan party is not on board. He was well able to cancel this plan.”

Ssaalz came to Saavik’s side to perform the scan. Her lidless eyes narrowed and her tail rattled at the tip.

“Is something wrong?” Saavik asked her.

The young Carreon looked up at the Security officer who was starting to wonder the same thing. She nodded that all was fine, before dropping her voice to a whisper. “Mother warned me about your internal scarring, but it’s the first time I’ve seen it. I, I didn’t expect it to be this bad.” She needed to move on, but she hurriedly whispered, “ Why?”

Her mother, Rrelthiz, knew about Saavik’s nightmarish life on Hellguard. Ssaalz did not; she didn’t even know the place had once existed. Saavik warmed her voice to soothe her namesake. “It was long ago, an incident from childhood. But I thank you for your concern.”

Ssaalz gave a small nod and hurried to finish her scans.

Commander Imre called from his station. “Captain!”

“You discovered what you were looking for?”

“Yes, I did. Do you remember the matter the cargo bay crew started to bring to our attention earlier? As we left Vulcan.”

She frowned. “You were able to link it with the saboteur?”

“I wish it was only that. But it starts there. I’ll give you my explanation in a minute, but you need to see this immediately. It will be better on the main screen. Ambassador, it’s for you too.” He touched a control.

Saavik’s back was to the main viewer, so as she started to turn, she saw Spock. That expression… She spun around hard, already hearing a younger McCoy calling to the Enterprise. He suddenly cursed as he held the body of a young boy that had spilled out from a large container. The child fell into McCoy’s arms like he was boneless. Two men reached into the same crate and each pulled out a young girl. Identical twins.

Saavik and Spock's twin girls and their son, their bodies limp as if dead.

 


 

Bimojigar and the Sozons really are big, naked mole rats. All the details about them (including ones coming up later) are true with two exceptions: 1) I didn't think they had eyes; the ones I've seen never opened their eyelids, which look like rolls of skin to me, and I said that about their eyes in the "Negotiations" story. Since they don't really use vision, I kept Bimo's description the way it was. 2) I have seen naked mole rats sway as they sniff, but it's no more than anyone else. But I liked the idea of her head swaying like a concert pianist engulfed in the music's power.

Read Chapter 3