The horror outside the ship's porthole could make a Vulcan reel. The price for the battle over Tomed and on its surface reflected itself in Spock's dark gaze, written in the wreckage and debris of too many starships and bodies floating in the cold of space.
Tens of thousands wounded, some so critical they would most likely follow their shipmates into eternal darkness.
So much loss.
So much hate.
His reflection blended with the blackness outside the full-length portal. His black trousers and robe merged with the color of space; his medium gray tunic mixed with the ship debris. Even his hair merged with the darkness. Only his face and his hands separated him so that he looked back at himself. Alive and calm in chaos.
For the most part.
Ships like the one escorting Spock brought fresh supplies, medical help, and Starfleet personnel. Leonard McCoy was on another ship hurrying here and the Vulcan watched an additional vessel that came with him continue clearing the chunks of floating debris before an incoming starship destroyed itself. It was why his ship came out of warp further away than usual and entered the system on impulse.
Some of the surviving starships, as well as some of the arriving ones, were handed a terrible duty. Death ships, the crewmen whispered: the ones taking home the dead.
The nightmare held something else for Spock.
She was in the battle.
Saavik had spoken with him shortly before the fight here; of course, they didn't know what would happen hours later, but her captain had gotten a message to change their patrol. A couple Romulan ships had been spotted in the area.
Spock hadn't heard from her since; only the horrifying announcement of what happened on a planet most people gave little thought to before this. He reminded himself that communication in and out of the system was limited and kept his eyes from the bodies floating amongst the chunks of starships that, in the end, hadn't protected them but instead bled them into the vacuum.
Thousands and tens of thousands.
McCoy has asked about Saavik right away when he contacted Spock as they boarded their separate ships. When the Vulcan said he didn't know, the doctor did something he hadn't up until now.
"Wouldn't… Spock, wouldn't you sense it?"
"Ambassador Spock?" His golden furred Caitian aide, K'Nusar, was Starfleet, not the diplomatic corps because the Federation Council and Starfleet Command were 'losing their minds', as his human shipmates would have put it, over his entering the battle zone when everything was still so dangerous. The aide's ears, pointed like males of his kind just as they had no manes, flicked back and forth, picking up sounds. He handed Spock a padd. "You asked for the death and wounded lists whenever they were updated."
The Vulcan took the device and wondered if the Caitian saw his hesitation on opening the reports. He would pay homage to all these names, but for the moment, he searched for one: Saavik, Commander, Serial number SC-973-1067C. He repeated the search for only her name and only her serial number, as well as abbreviated versions of both.
He didn't get a second to be thankful because K'Nusar hadn't finished talking.
"They said to tell you that these still are not the final lists. It's just so many dead and wounded that we haven't gotten to them all. We're still finding people and many bodies haven't been identified. We just don't know."
His tail thrashed and it made Spock think of Saavik's close friend Rrelthiz, although she was reptilian, not feline. Still, if Saavik was gone, it would crush Rrelthiz.
He could hear Jim in his mind. "That's not what you're really thinking. It's not what your feeling either. Be honest with yourself. It's what losing Saavik will do to you."
Spock, wouldn't you sense it?
The Caitian flipped his ears forward. "Sir, are you looking for someone in particular? We can ask the ships if they've seen whoever it is."
Spock could do that on his own. And more. "Mr. K'Nusar, I will not trouble you further on this issue. Instead, I require all new data coming in from the rescue teams and what provisions have been made on the surface."
He could find that out for himself as well, but it gave him privacy. As his aide left, he did tackle the search through ship reports first and then spread it out with different variables for all Starfleet data above and on the surface. A warning message appeared stating ship's resources were taxed and his inquiry would be slower because of it. He acknowledged it and the program split the screen with windows for each criterion grouping he used. As it ran, he dimmed the lights and closed his eyes.
Spock had told McCoy once that he felt a bond with Saavik since Genesis. She was already connected to him because of how uniquely important she was. He had no doubt that even if he had never regained his memories of her, they would have just as powerful a new connection.
They were both beyond pleased, however, that he got the memories back.
But this was profoundly different. This was pon farr taking that connection, as she had still held it, and forging something more.
Much more. Something that proved unbreakable and deeply significant.
He steepled his fingers and went into his mind. He compartmentalized both himself and his life, to put order on the chaos and calm himself as he sought to answer what might become a crippling question. Rooms formed, brilliant rooms, the largest for the ones who never left him even if he pushed them away during his troubled youth before V'Ger and his later rebirth.
But everyone was here. Every soul Spock ever touched, every life he had ever known: his parents, Kirk, McCoy. . . they came from the core of him where Spock stood among them exactly as he was. He had found the point in his life long ago where he said at last, "I am not of halves. I am Spock. I am whole."
His own journey brought that peace and the ones who did not leave him, who always welcomed him if he went away and came back. One of them was defiant Saavik, hybrid Saavik, beautiful strong brave Saavik who said, "I walk the tightrope with you." How they found that it was enough to be standing together, be who they were together, while they traveled together and belonged in their own world if nowhere else.
"You're stalling," his mother would say.
Yes. Because I do not want to find I have lost Saavik as I did you and Jim.
Yes, a room for his father, one for McCoy, and directly in front of him was Saavik's since she was uppermost in his thoughts. Light flowed from underneath the door, but that couldn't give him his answer. Light also shone from two others, the ones he paused to pay respect to, the ones he wished he could open and feel those important, vital presences again: his mother and Jim.
If Saavik was… killed, she would be like them now. He would open her door and find… memories.
Spock quieted his mind and focused on his own presence and heartbeat. He found the bond and as he opened himself to it, like he reached out with paired fingers in that all important, compelling gesture, her door melted into light.
Her presence, her katra, her self, there! That sense of her carried the heavy weight of weariness made from lack of rest, living the nightmare here, and the rebirth of her childhood demons. Her disciplines kept it in control, but she did not hide it from Spock any more than she hid from herself. And as she touched him, the darkness melted off her.
An image of her formed, at first general, but she became aware of him and her expression warmed. Her Starfleet uniform disappeared for Vulcan dress.
He formed an equal image of himself to stand in front of her as they had done before, this time as a pleasurable choice. He reached out his hand to lightly touch hers.
With her living heat dashing the cold of his fear into nothing, he let go of the room imagery; walls and doors faded, and instead, the normal sense of his mind returned.
Except for the images of him and her. I thought I might have-" He showed her an embroiled ball of thinking and clawing darkness that was his world since he heard about her in the battle. He thought the one word that summarized it, "-lost you, Saavik. Avrách'laba," he said, using her secret, ahtía name.
"Spock —" She started saying his ahtía name when:
The Vulcan rapidly brought himself back to awareness and unfortunately had to break away from her. "Yes?"
The Caitian's black tipped tail thrashed again. "They are prepared to beam you down, Ambassador, but everyone's hoping you'll change your mind."
Spock folded his hands over his chest, the chest that was no longer tight now that he knew Saavik was well. "At some point, Mr. K'Nusar, the Federation must confront the Romulan Star Empire on this battle, more than the short diplomatic statements made at this juncture. I intend to be part of the negotiations and, in fact, mean to make the first communication from here with the evidence of it dominating the view."
"You can use the destruction of our fleet as your backdrop!"
Spock heard the pain and disgust in that statement. Gently, he replied, "I do not use the destruction. I attempt the opposite, not allowing anyone to hide from the truth here. The full truth, not only what happened above the surface, but on it." K'Nusar started to argue. "There are innocents on the planet surface. They had no choice but to be part of this warfare. I represent them, Mr. K'Nusar, as I do your brother and sister officers, to the Romulans and the Federation so everyone will hear their voices."
"Sir, you can't fathom what you'll see down there."
He raised an eyebrow. "On the contrary, between my service in Starfleet and in the diplomatic corps, I have unfortunately seen such sights previously, including those dealt by Romulans." Hellguard as a terrible example. "I do not minimize what has happened here at Tomed, Mr. K'Nusar. I only say I will do what I can and if we are to be effective, it cannot be done from the Federation Council chambers."
They left the observation deck as medical staff started turning it into extra hospital space. The computer chimed that Spock's search for Commander Saavik's whereabouts was finished.
But he already knew.