Title: Mark of the Beast (3/?)
Fandom: Star Trek AOS
Summary: The Enterprise falls into yet another ill-timed scheme. A terrible choice must be made—and honored.
Previous Parts: 1 | 2
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A Disappearing Act of Little Regard
Karla Yuise does not die. She lays sweating face-down on a low chaise and clutches an ensign’s hand between whimpers. The blade of the dagger burrows partially beneath her left shoulder blade. Though the sight is unnerving, it is not overly bloody—at least, not yet. Kirk understands that the dagger cannot be removed without medical attention, and he also knows (now) that the Enterprise has no report on their status.
All communicators have disappeared. Gone.
Jim feels intensely, at this moment, a certain helplessness. He has sent Spock and Security to find the Basilisk or any palace official (Hell, even an attendant would do) but all is eerily quiet throughout the white halls. Kirk would much rather be scouting for the enemy, but Yuise makes another surpressed noise, a small “Captain,” and Jim lets that wish go.
“It’s okay,” he says, kneeling next to the wide-eyed ensign. The Captain places a hand on Yuise’s damp hair. “You’ll be alright, just hold on a little while longer.” Her face is a grimace but Kirk sees that she is trying to be brave against the panic and pain.
God, he hates this lying. They are stranded on a planet of traitors—isolated from any weapons but the crudeness of their own hands. He wants Bones. Despite the danger of the situation as it stands, despite the inability of Kirk to protect his people, he thinks of Leonard and the doctor’s steady words.
Bones can patch together a miracle out of a small medikit and a bottle of brandy. That’s what they all need: Yuise to have a surgeon (before she’s critical); and Jim, assurance from his other.
He hears a scraping in the adjoining room that leads out into the hall. The Captain gestures his ensign to stay with the diplomat and retreats.
It’s not Spock, back from the search.
“You!” Jim snaps forward and veers straight at Garick. He has the other in a tight grip in an instant, demands, “Where’s your saint of a ruler? Where are our communicators? Do you realize what you’ve done!” The man takes all the shaking and snarling from the Captain without protest.
Jim is full of anger at the despicability of any leader who dares to harm one of Kirk’s own. When Jim thinks that he cannot stand this creature’s silence a moment longer, Garick drops his head forward and lets out a high-pitched keen. It startles Jim enough that he loosens his bruising grip just for a second.
Garick, the Lesser, sags and Jim is forced to either hold him up or let the man drop to the floor. He goes with the latter. Staring down at the heap of a pitiable soul, Kirk is confused. He leans over and orders, somewhat less harshly, “Stop it. Tell me how I can contact my ship and get Miss Yuise to my medical staff.”
The keening cuts off like water from a faucet. Garick’s whole body gives one great shudder. Then the Lesser looks up at Captain Kirk, tilts his head, and smiles. “James Tiberius,” he speaks slowly. “A leader among leaders. I may deal with a Human such as you.”
Of course, it’s the Basilisk. A bastard of a puppet master. Kirk has no tolerance left. “I want my communicator. NOW.”
“The Federation are fools to place faith in little trinkets. Do you understand what real power is, James Tiberius?”
“It’s Kirk,” he snaps. “And I don’t give a flying fuck what you want or think. Give—me—my—communicator.”
Garick leans back on his haunches. “The Federation liaison shall not be removed—” Before Kirk can draw his fist back, the Lesser continues, “—but I will allow the transport of one of your ship’s personnel to aid the woman. Choose wisely.”
A communicator appears in Garick’s hand. Jim doesn’t even think; he launches himself at Garick.
And slams into the floor.
Jim stares at the hem of a robe as Garick speaks again. “Foolish. What is your choice, Captain?”
His hands press into the stone floor as he grits his teeth. Finally, Kirk swallows the painful emotion in his throat and tells the Basilisk to ask for the Chief Medical Officer. He watches, feeling a hard knot growing in his stomach, as Garick flips open the communicator and says in Jim’s voice, “Scotty? Yes, everything’s fine. Miss Yuise thinks she sprained her ankle. I want you to send Bones down here.” There is a pause; Jim closes his eyes. “Well, remind him he’s my CMO and I’m the Captain. Good. Kirk, out.”
When the Lesser starts to smile again, Jim warns him, “You won’t win.”
The Basilisk replies, “Oh but I am fond of games.”
Leonard’s first words, upon seeing his patient, are “Holy shit, Jim! Don’t you know the difference between a sprained ankle and a stab wound?” Then the doctor has no more room for exclamation as he rips open his (now pathetically equipped) medikit and runs his tricorder over Yuise’s quivering body.
Spock pulls the Captain aside and, in his Vulcan way, demands answers. Jim just says, “The Basilisk has control, Spock.”
The First Officer observes the righteous anger (and veiled apprehension) in Jim’s eyes before responding. He tells Jim that Security was unable to locate the Basilisk on the premise; however, there is a part of the Palace that remains inaccessible to them. “My tricorder picks up high energy readings due north of the Garden Maze, Captain. Upon inspection, there is a long wall which cordons off the developed gardens from the outer lands of the estate.”
“I remember, Spock. Long stretches of nothing.”
“Precisely, Captain, which leads to me to conclude that it is not nothing.”
“Explain.” Jim’s attention on the Vulcan is intense. Spock wonders, not for the first time, what it is that the Captain finds important besides the First Officer’s scientific conclusions.
“Jim, the people of this planet are renowned for their talent at creating illusion. The Basilisk, in particular, harnesses a majority of energy from the magnetic fields that my tricorder picks up in this area. I have collected data for our return to the Enterprise…”
“…But we don’t seem to be going anywhere, until he lets us. You think that he’s hiding behind an illusion?”
“I suggest, Captain, that we cannot believe all which we experience in the presence of the Basilisk.”
Jim lets out an agitated breath. “I’m sure that you’re right, Spock. I don’t trust him.” Jim looks over at Doctor McCoy and adds, “It just makes it worse that we cannot trust ourselves either.”
Bones places a roll of gauze in the ensign’s hands. Jim hears him tell the young security officer, “I’m gonna need you to make sure that Karla keeps holding still.” There is a low mumbling of words. Leonard laughs, a little drily. “Sorry, but you’ve been field-promoted to nurse now, Lieutenant.”
Jim and Spock come to stand beside Leonard as he straightens from his crouch. “Prognosis, Bones?”
“Not good, Jim, unless I can get her to the ship. The blade has chipped through part of the shoulder and torn at the tendons. She needs more than my haphazard stitching can do. Luckily, I’ve got some hypos to prevent infection.” McCoy takes a moment to stare into the grim faces of his lovers. Then he slowly asks, “What’s going on?”
Jim answers “Serious trouble” as Spock says “Endangerment of our persons, Doctor.”
Bones just mutters “Damn.”
Leonard practically hurtles up the dais, and Spock only catches the doctor at the last second before he throws himself at the edge of the throne. Len wrenches around in Spock’s arms and spits in the direction of the Basilisk. “Hell NO! He’s NOT JIM! You sick bastard, YOU AREN’T JIM!”
“Leonard!” Spock snaps in such a way that makes the Human go still, though his muscles vibrate with restraint under Spock’s long fingers.
Spock, I won’t—I just can’t—stand—to see him like that. It’s Jim’s face and he’s wearing it like a party mask—like it God-damned belongs to him!
Leonard, you will not attack. To do so is illogical, in knowledge of his capability.
That briefly turns the doctor’s rage on Spock. “And what the Hell were you gonna do, Spock, huh? Ask him nicely to turn himself in on two accounts of murder?” Spock has no answer that will satisfy Leonard. Damn you, you fool Vulcan! Jim’s DEAD. What do you want to do, get yourself killed too?
No, Leonard. I do not.
Good because I won’t let you die. I won’t—
The rage and mental anguish that burns off of Leonard almost encompasses Spock too, fuels the volatile churning inside.
Calm, t’hy’la. We will fight together. He touches their foreheads briefly. We will avenge. Together.
This conversation happens in the span of few seconds, aided by the strength of their long-established bond. Spock and Leonard break eye-contact to turn their heads up to the solitary, drifting throne. To the not-Jim Basilisk that smiles so cruelly with triumph.
The Basilisk breaks his silence with the pleased tone of young and cocky James T. Kirk. “This sacrifice is acceptable to me. You may return to your ship.”
“Like Hell we will!”
“Then you both are welcome to remain here.” The hands of the Basilisk release from their position and are proffered, palm up, to both Leonard and Spock. “Stay. It shall be as you know it, lovers of Jim Kirk.”
Spock senses an equally vile rejection in Leonard. He tells the Basilisk, simply, “I challenge you, by the rights of my people, for the death of my mate.”
Not-Jim’s eyes glitter. “But I did not kill your lover, Spock! He gave his life to me of free will.”
“You liar! Jim wouldn’t—”
The smile is back. “Wouldn’t he? Would he not, this man you know so well, die for the sake of others?”
There is dawning horror spreading throughout Leonard; his body shakes with it. “—Jim—”
“So he would,” the Basilisk confirms. “And he did.” To Spock, “You have no claim on my life, Vulcan.” The throne and man shimmer as the blackness begins to encroach again. “Now, go.” And they disappear entirely, leaving behind Spock and McCoy at the top of an empty dais, below the body of their lover laid out in the repose of quiet death.
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