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Part I


It was dark, and dank.

It took a few minutes for her eyes to open – there was something crusted in them, and her head was aching. Everything was aching. She felt like she’d been run over by a shuttlecraft.

“Hey, easy, easy.” Hands helped her sit up, and she batted at them. “Hey, just trying to help. It’s Kirk.” He guided her until she was sitting against a wall. “We’re all here, not everyone’s awake yet.”

Uhura took a deep breath. “Where are we?”

“Your guess is as good as mine.” She blinked again and Kirk’s face slowly resolved in the dim light. “But I’m guessing one of the lower levels of the palace, by how the air feels.”

“I concur,” Sarek’s voice murmured. Uhura turned her head a little too fast, and had to suck in a breath of air.

“Oh god,” she muttered, and Kirk chuckled, a dark sound.

“Yeah. I said go easy, right? I almost tossed lunch.” Kirk rubbed her back for a moment, and then pulled his hand back, a little too suddenly. “Sorry.”

“’Salright,” Uhura muttered, cradling her head in her hands. “Just need a moment.”

“Take your time,” Kirk said. “We got plenty.”

One of the security officers – Volmeis – laughed, a little hysterically, and Uhura picked her head and took a deep breath. “We’re all here?”

“Yeah,” Volmeis said. “Torrence’s sleeping over here.”

“I am unharmed,” Sarek chimed in.

“Banged up my knee at some point, but I’m in one piece,” Kirk said. “You?”

Uhura stretched carefully and considered. “Sore as hell but I’m all right.”

“Good.” Kirk stood up. “All right, everyone’s checked in. Uhura, rest up a little. Volmeis, leave Torrence to sleep and come help me scope this cage out.”

“I would help you, Kirk,” Sarek said, standing smoothly. Kirk picked up his dropped jaw quickly enough that everyone could pretend they hadn’t seen it, and clapped his hands together softly.

“Excellent. Let’s get to it.”


Uhura awoke with a start, arm flying out to strike – another person?

“Ouch,” it muttered, shifting. Kirk.

“Oh.” Shit. Uhura could feel the embarrassment rush to her cheeks. “Sorry, Captain. I forgot where I was.”

Kirk let out a sour-sounding chuckle. “That’s fine, Lieutenant, I wish I could do the same.”

Uhura frowned. “You haven’t slept?”

He didn’t answer right away. Just when she was about to give up and go back to sleep, he cleared his throat. “No. Somebody needs to keep watch.”

She struggled to sit up a little straighter, scrubbing at her eyes. “Let me take a shift then.”

“Later,” Kirk said firmly, and he put a hand on her knee. It was warm, warmer than anything else in the room. “I couldn’t sleep now anyway. You get rest while you can. I’ve got the watch tonight.”

“You’re sure?” she murmured, but she could already feel her eyes drifting shut – and she was pretty sure he could hear the sleep in her voice.

“I’m sure,” he said, and the laughter in his voice told her she was right.

She muttered at him that she would stand watch next, but he was still chuckling as she drifted back to sleep.


By the time she woke up properly, there was a dim light in the room; several camp-style lanterns had appeared, and several packs. Sarek turned as she stood. “Lieutenant. Our captors have seen fit to give us food. Come and eat.”

She crossed the room to find the Volmeis and Torrence going over the food packets with a critical eye. Kirk sat beyond them, back against the wall. “Ah, Lieutenant,” he said as she approached. “Sleep well?”

“I’m taking next watch” she reminded him, and he just gave her a small smile and nod.

“Fair enough. Your breakfast choices are this really stale crumbly bread, or…more really stale crumbly bread.” He held out a packet. “It’s not half bad, but don’t try to pick it up, just eat straight out of the packet. It’ll fall everywhere otherwise.”

Uhura peeled the wrapper back. It was crumbly and dry – almost more of a cake than a bread, and it smelled of something akin to anise. She tried it. “Not bad,” she agreed. “Is this all they brought?”

“There’s enough here for two more meals for all of us,” Volmeis said, from where he was examining the rest of the packets. “Everything looks untampered with, as far as I can tell.”

Uhura lowered the packet of bread. “OK, that is not making this taste any better.”

“It is not logical to worry on that score. They need us alive for some reason,” Sarek countered. “Otherwise we would have been killed instantly.”

They all looked at each other. No one spoke for a long moment. Uhura was the first to look back down. She slowly nibbled at the bread.

“The unknown variables are what we must now examine.” Sarek finally continued. “Who is responsible for our captivity, for what reason, and what goal do they hope to obtain by keeping us here?”

Torrence picked up one hand a bit. “I was posted at the back of the room, sir, and there was one Coridani who kept pacing and checking his chrono. I don’t know his name but I think he was with the delegation from the western coast.”

“Ressolhcs?” Sarek asked, and Volmeis nodded.

“That’s him, sir. I could seem him from the floor where I was posted. He seemed nervous, like he was expecting something.”

Kirk frowned. “But expecting what?”

“That is the question we must solve,” Sarek said calmly, taking up one of the other bread packets. “From what we have seen of our captors thus far they appear to be uniformed in standard military garb. It is not unlikely that we have been caught in the midst of a coup d’etat.”

“Why keep us captive, then, sir?” Volmeis asked, leaning forward to flip the bread packets idly. “The Federation doesn’t negotiate with terrorists; they can’t hope to gain anything by keeping us here.”

Uhura looked across the little circle at Sarek. He met her eyes, and nodded. It was almost sad. “The Federation might not negotiate,” she said quietly. “But Spock will.”

Kirk looked from her to Sarek and back. “Pike won’t let him,” he said quietly.

“Are you certain, Captain?” Sarek asked, and Kirk looked away.

“Right. Our first order of business is to get the hell out of here. Now that we have some halfway decent light, I want to go back over this room and make sure we haven’t missed any vents or doors or joints or anything. Torrence, you’re with me. Uhura and Volmeis, you two will take over when we need a break, and in the meantime figure out if there’s anything here we can use as a weapon. Ambassador.” His expression always became a little more respectful when he was talking with the elder Vulcan, Uhura realized. “Are you able to – communicate – with your son at all?”

Sarek pressed his lips together, and shook his head. “Not in the sense you mean, Kirk. I am aware of him, and that he lives and is unharmed – as he is of me – but no more than that.”

“No, that’s good,” Kirk said. “They know we’re not dead then. That’s a mark in our column.” He turned to look at the rest of them and clapped his hands. “All right, people. On your feet. Let’s get this show on the road.”


Uhura woke up from her nap and wrinkled her nose. After a day – or was it two, now? She was starting to lose track of the passage of time in here with no windows or daylight to help judge – the air in the room was growing close and heavy. Once their captors realized they were awake and moving around, they began standing regular guard, but even having the door to their chamber opened didn’t do anything for the stale air. She silently stretched, feeling her spine pop. It didn’t make her back feel any better.

“Uhura,” Kirk said quietly, and she looked up. He was sitting not far from her, cross-legged and back against the wall.

“Sir?” she asked, and crossed over to sit next to him.

“How good’s your Coridani?” he asked. He had his voice pitched very low and he was barely moving his lips.

Uhura’s gaze flicked from him to the guard standing in the doorway, looking bored and mostly ignoring them. She lowered her head as if she wasn’t awake yet and followed his lead. “As good as I could get it before we beamed down.”

“Have you understood everything you’ve been hearing?” Kirk asked.

She considered. “Most of it. If there are too many people talking or they are talking too quickly I start to loose things but most conversations I was able to follow well enough.”

Kirk nodded a little. The guard looked around the room and he faked a yawn, eyes sliding shut. As soon as the guard turned back to the hallway his eyes snapped open again. “Right. Can you forget you know all that?”

What the hell. Uhura turned her head to glare at him. “Excuse me?”

“Look, if we don’t get some water and soap in here soon I’m not gonna be able to stand myself,” Kirk said patiently. “Much less the rest of you. And I’m pretty sure the Ambassador’s more finely-tuned nasal receptors are ready to go on strike. He’s getting greener by the hour. I want you to go ask them for soap and water and some towels.”

Uhura shrugged. “I can do that no problem,” she said, still a little confused and not just a little annoyed. All that time learning and he expected her to just blow it all off?

“Do it badly,” Kirk said, and he gave her a little smirk. “Let them think we’re a bunch of assholes who are up Shit Creek when we don’t have our UTs on us, and hopefully they’ll chatter more in front of us where you can conveniently eavesdrop on everything they say.” He lifted his eyebrows at her in an almost Spockian gesture, and waited.

“Right,” Uhura said, and then she got it. “Right.” She pushed herself to her feet, and made a show of stretching again and trying to look uncomfortable. The guard turned to eye her from the doorway, still looking bored. “Anything else we need?”

“I require food,” Sarek said quietly from the corner. “The bread they have provided is not meeting my nutritional requirements. I will be fine for several more days but after that I will likely begin to experience symptoms of malnutrition.”

“Right,” Uhura repeated, and looked over at Torrence and Volmeis. They were both still fast asleep. She looked back at Kirk. He nodded at her, so she turned and approached the guard. “Dluchstne, dluchstne.”

The guard looked her over, unimpressed. “Ssaw?”

Uhura opened her mouth and realized abruptly that she didn’t need to fake her nerves. “Riw nussem rassaw, efies, nesse.”

The guard’s face hardened, and he pointed to the water bottles and wrapped food they had been brought earlier.

Ssaw, ssad riw rid nebegeg tiss thcin dnehciersua?” the guard snapped. Uhura understood him perfectly, and no, it damn well wasn’t sufficient, but she remembered herself just in time and faked looking confused again.

Dnehciersua?” she repeated slowly, doing her best to mangle it.

Thcin geuneg,” the guard said condescendingly. Not enough?

Uhura’s cheeks burned, but she didn’t try to keep from flushing. Let him think it’s embarrassment. “Rred retfahcstob,” she said, indicating Sarek and deliberately mispronouncing the word, making sure her accent was flat and Standard-inflected. “Nesse... nesse rrun neztnalfp.“ Actual food, not that damn bread.

The guard laughed, like that amused him. “Osaj? Rhi tabh hcon rassew.“

Uhura tried to look pleading. “Rruf…rruf nehsaw. Rassew dnu efies rruf nehsaw. Ettib. Ettib.“ Please give me some goddamn soap and a towel because if I have to smell myself for one more minute I’m going to do something drastic.

Heg kcuruz ssin ztalp,” the guard said angrily, and when she didn’t move fast enough he waved his weapon at her. She jumped, let out a squeak that wasn’t entirely manufactured, and scurried back across the room, slipping back against the wall next to Kirk. She wrapped her arms around her legs and pulled them to her chest, resting her head against her knees.

“Well?” Kirk asked out of the corner of her mouth.

“Well, he thinks I’m an idiot,” Uhura muttered back. “I don’t know. He laughed at me, pointed out we already had water, and I probably shouldn’t have said the Ambassador only eats plants.”

“On the contrary, you did very well, Lieutenant,” came a quiet comment. “Thank you.”

Uhura traded a worried glance with Kirk – Sarek even sounded weary. “No thanks are necessary, Ambassador,” she said softly in Vulcan, and Kirk let his head fall back against the wall when Sarek didn’t reply.

“This sucks,” he whispered, mostly to himself. Uhura was in complete and utter agreement. It took her a long moment to realize he had said it in highly colloquial -- and terrible -- Vulcan. Despite her disappointment, she managed a smile.


The guards changed a little while later, and Uhura slumped a little more. “I guess they’re not entertaining requests,” she muttered to Kirk.

“It was a good try,” he said, and bumped her arm with his. “Chin up, Lieutenant.”

“Yeah,” she muttered, and went back to contemplating the patterns formed by the dust on her boots. She wasn’t watching the door, so when the guard she had talked to earlier walked in she was caught by surprise as he dropped a box on the floor, and pointed to her.

Ud. Rreih dnis enied tnaivorp,” he said. “Rrhesettib.”

Eknad, eknad!” Uhura manged to stammer out. “Thank you!”

The guard gave her an expression that was clearly exasperation. “Ud tshcirps hcilkcerhcs hcridani,” he said, and left, exchanging greetings with the current guard on his way out.

Uhura jumped to her feet and stumbled over to the box, starting to unpack it. “He brought everything,” she said, unable to keep triumph out of her voice. “Look. Soap, towels, there’s more water, and – Ambassador, there’s more food here.” She pulled out a large packet of fruit.

“Good job, Lieutenant,” Kirk said, joining her as she sorted out the new supplies. “What did he say to you, anyway?”

Uhura managed to avoid sounding smug. “He said my Coridani sucks.”

Kirk threw his head back and laughed, and after a moment Uhura joined him.


The guard tossed in a radio on the third day, and then slammed the door behind him. It broke when it hit the ground, and it took both Volmeis and Uhura to get everything back where it belonged: Volmeis carefully angling the light while Uhura carefully fit the receiver and battery packs back into place. “I think I got it,” she finally said, flipping what she hoped was the power button. The radio came on with a snap and a hiss and a voice came out of the speakers, an angry Coridani voice that took Uhura a few minutes before she was able to translate.

“This attack – no, this cowardly attack, sorry – will not go unpunished,” she murmured, as everyone gathered around her and the radio. “We demand satisfaction for this insult to Coridan. We will not tolerate this blatant disregard of our sovereignty!”

“Just what the hell pissed them off so bad?” Kirk muttered, and Uhura waved a hand at him to shut him up.

“Not only have these vile Federation worms killed our beloved Chancellor –” Uhura broke off with a gasp. “Oh my god.” Volmeis backed away from the radio like he’d been physically hit, and Sarek closed his eyes, lips moving silent. Kirk spun away, nearly knocking into Torrence, and pounded his fist into the wall.

“Kirk! Injuring yourself isn’t going to help,” Uhura snapped. “I’m not done. They’re claiming we kidnapped Tdnar’s daughter.”

“We did no such goddamn thing,” Kirk snapped back. “How can we when we’re here?”

“If no one knows we’re here, who are they going to believe?” Torrence asked. “You almost took me out there, sir.”

“Dammit. Sorry, Miguel.” Kirk rubbed his other hand over his fist. “That was pretty stupid.”

“Not as stupid as killing the Chancellor,” Torrence agreed. “He was a good guy. You don’t see that in politics much.”

“Hold on, there’s more,” Uhura said, as the voice started again. Everyone shut up instantly, leaning closer in anticipation. “They – they are stating they are holding a number of Federation prisoners, and if Tdnar’s daughter isn’t returned they will begin executing us, one at a time, until she’s returned.”

“Spock better be listening to this,” Kirk muttered. “Dammit. Dammit.” He started pacing the room in swift, sharp steps. “Uhura, can you hot-wire that thing?”

She gave the radio a long look. “No voice pick-up, but maybe I can get a decent beep out of it. Volmeis, care to return to flashlight duty?”

Grinning, Volmeis scooped up the lantern and perched next to her.


It took the rest of the day to get a reasonable transmitter rewired from the radio, and she had to interrupt her work twice as guards came in to dump bottles of water and packets of the ubiquitous bread. They would look around the room, satisfy themselves that the headcount was the same, and leave. Each time, Uhura let out a sigh of relief, uncurling her hands and examining the burnt fingertips.

She finally sat back on her heels. “All right. Ready to attempt communication with the ship, Captain.”

“Go for it, Lieutenant,” Kirk told her, getting up from his corner and heading over.

“I had to disable reception to get this to work,” she told him. “I have no way of knowing if they’re receiving.”

“They’ll get it,” he said simply. “Go for it.”

She met his eyes for a moment. They were clear and open, and he genuinely looked like he believed this would work. Taking a deep breath, Uhura let herself believe it too.

“Here goes nothing,” she said, and started hitting the lead. AWAY TEAM TO ENTERPRISE. ALL 5 ALIVE; HELD CAPTIVE SOMEWHERE IN PALACE. LOCATION UNKNOWN. She kept repeating the message, ignoring the growing heat in the unit until it suddenly let out a great spark and began to burn. “Shit,” she muttered, snatching her hand away. It wasn’t quick enough; the burn registered as a searing pain a moment later.

Sarek quickly shrugged out of his outer ambassadorial robe and began beating the flames out, while Torrence grabbed her hand and examined it. “Didn’t break the skin at least,” he said, pouring some of the precious water over it. “We don’t really have anything to wrap it in.”

Sarek shook his head. “Incorrect,” he said, and calmly began tearing strips off the bottom of the undertunic. “It is not sterile but it will do.” Torrence took it and began wrapping her hand gently.

“Stop twitching,” he told her. “You don’t want that tearing and getting infected. You did good, Lieutenant.”

“I counted twenty repetitions,” Sarek said. “I believe we were successful.”

Kirk turned from examining the now-melted remnants of the radio to Sarek. “You think so?”

Sarek raised an eyebrow. “The Enterprise is in a synchronous orbit above this city. Spock and Admiral Pike have undoubtedly assigned a member of the Lieutenant’s staff to listen for such transmissions as this. Twenty repetitions gives that crewmember ample time to identify the transmission and triangulate a rough location.”

Torrence waved a hand at the melting unit, and then grabbed Uhura’s hand when she tried to tug it away to fix the bandages herself. “Assuming this got through however many walls are between us and them right now.”

“The incoming signal reached us,” she pointed out with some asperity. “If things are getting in we have no reason to expect they’re not getting out as well.”

“We have no reason to believe otherwise,” Sarek chimed in. “Therefore it is illogical to – borrow trouble, I believe the human phrase is.”

Uhura met Kirk’s eyes at just that moment, but it took her a minute to realize he was working as hard as she was to suppress laughter. They managed another thirty seconds before they were both giggling helplessly, leaning against the wall for support, while Torrence and Volmeis looked on, confused, and Sarek gracefully ignored them, all dignity – even if his eyebrow looked amused.


The next inspection by the guards led to a lot of lecturing about the radio that Uhura pretended not to understand, while Kirk tried his best not so smirk and Sarek attempted to intervene while he, too, pretended ignorance.

Hci ehetsrev thcin nuztenub!” Uhura finally spluttered, only just managing to keep her accent flat and Standard-inflected.

The guards stared at her for a long moment, and quickly murmured to each other too quietly and too quickly for her to follow easily. She looked to Sarek quickly, but he shook his head minutely.

One guard finally turned to her and held out Uhura’s own UT. She found herself staring at the scratch in the corner of the unit, from her second away mission, when she’d dropped the damn thing against the edge of the transporter platform. Scotty had nearly had a coronary over the scratch on the platform, she remembered idly. “You destroyed the radio.

“I didn’t understand how it worked!” Uhura protested.

You will come with us.” The guard switched the unit off and pocketed it. Uhura glared at him as they lined them all up and marched them out of the room.

“Where are we going?” Kirk demanded loudly. None of the guards answered him, but two of them began arguing as they walked. Uhura managed to nudge Kirk when he opened his mouth again, and inclined her head. He nodded clamped his mouth shut, looking for all the world like an angry teenager as he glared at the guards.

Hci ssiew thcin. Riw nuut ssaw riw nelhazre raw.”

Stlohlaum. Eiss neroh.”

Eiss nehetserv thcin. Setehg, stsi auhcskcur.”

Ud tsib red tim red neduarg. Thcin hci.”

Liew eistiehrehcis rref neduarg tbig. Stlohlaum dnu theg.” The second guard gave the first one a not-so-friendly clap on the shoulder and then turned to glare at them. Uhura dropped her head.

They were marched around the castle – “We’re going in circles,” Volmeis muttered at one point, and one of the guards growled at him until he put his head back down – and finally stopped in front of a door that looked very similar to their old one, in a corridor that was just as dank and dark.

The guard pulled out the UT again. “No more radio for you. We were letting you hear the news so you would know your fate but now you will just have to sit here and wait until we are ready for you. You are deeper now and your ship will not find you here. We are in charge, not you.” He switched the unit off, dropped it on the floor, and ground it under his heel, giving them all a disturbingly toothy smile before opening the door. They were unceremoniously shoved inside, and the door was latched behind them. The room was large and lit dimly through grates set into a high ceiling. Uhura blinked several times but her eyes refused to show her more than dim shadows.


Uhura whipped her head up. That voice sounded familiar.

“Who’s there?” Kirk demanded.

Olah?” the voice whispered again, more quietly this time. “Rew tsi ssad?”

Uhura closed her eyes against the dark. “Oh no. Oh no. Siri, tsib ud reih?”

Uhura?” There was shuffling as a shape formed in the shadows. “Oh please, please be Uhura,” it begged in Coridani, and then it hurled itself across the room. “It is you! But – why are you here? What happened? Are you all here?” Siri grabbed Uhura’s hands and squeezed them tightly. They were trembling. Throwing caution to the wind, Uhura pulled the girl close and embraced her.

“Did – is my father – do you know anything?” Siri whispered after a moment. Uhura looked over at Sarek, helpless. Siri followed her gaze and took a step back, pulling Uhura with her.

“What’s she asking?” Kirk asked, after a moment.

“About her father,” Uhura whispered, and Kirk took a deep breath.

“Right. Can you translate for me, Lieutenant?” He waited for her nod, and knelt in front of them and waited for Siri to turn.

“Miss Tdnar,” he said slowly. “I’m very sorry to be the one to tell you this, but it seems that your father has been killed.”

Siri squeezed her eyes shut and shook her head wildly. Kirk reached for her hands and grabbed them and held them tight. “Miss Tdnar. Siri. Your father was a good man. I’m glad I got to meet him, and I wish I’d gotten to know him better.” He paused, and glanced at Uhura. She nodded when she finished translating. “We’re going to find out what happened for you.”

“I know what happened,” Siri whispered. “They killed him. I was there, I saw it all. That’s why they put me in here. I’ve been waiting for them to come kill me.”

Sarek turned abruptly and began pacing the length of their cell. As soon as Uhura had finished translating, Volmeis did the same, dragging Torrence with him and leaving just Kirk and Uhura in their huddle around Siri.

“Do you know who did this?” Kirk asked, and once Uhura had repeated the words in Coridani she pulled one hand free to wave.

“No. They wore helmets. But they call themselves the Freedom Group. They weren’t all Coridani, I think, but I don’t know who else is there. I couldn’t see, it happened too fast!” She was nearly hyperventilating. Uhura put her hands on her shoulders.

Kirk picked his head up as soon as the words left Uhura’s lips. “Goddammit. Goddammit. They were here all along. Someone was here all along. Ambassador!”

“I heard.” Sarek was still pacing, but with gravitas, almost as if he were meditating. “Our first order of business must be to escape. We can not afford to wait here.”

Uhura squeezed Siri’s shoulders tightly, trying to get her to focus. “Siri. Breathe for me, all right? You’re with us now, we’re in this together, all right? Do you know if there are any ways out of here?”

Siri looked around and shrugged Uhura’s hands off. “Just the grates,” she said, pointing up to the ceiling. “But they come out right in the middle of the city in the central square in front of the castle. It is where everyone would gather for events and proclamations. This is where they put prisoners who were awaiting execution, in the old days. They would hold the trials up above so they could hear before they died, and then build the scaffolding over the grates. It was… cleaner.”

Uhura just translated the highlights of that.

“If the only other way out is through that grate…” Kirk leaned his head back, considering. “Siri, do the guards come to check on you often?”

She had to think about it. “Three, four times a day? Sometimes they come more often, sometimes not – I think they want to keep me from expecting them.”

“Sir?” Volmeis was over by the wall, examining it. “I could climb it.”

“I know you like freeclimbing, Volmeis, but that’s pushing it a little,” Kirk told him, joining him at the wall.

“There’s plenty of handholds. We could do it. I know I climbed worse in the Academy gym, and I’m pretty sure you did too.” The look Volmeis gave the captain was nothing short of a challenge.

“The Academy gym had ropes,” Kirk pointed out, but now he was looking up too, running his hand over the wall, tugging on handholds.

“It’s carved out of the rock, there’s plenty to hold on to.” Volmeis stood back, arms crossed. “I can do it.”

“What will you do when you reach the top?” Sarek asked. “Can you remove the grate?”

Siri nudged Uhura. “What are they saying?” Uhura told her and her eyes opened. “But they can! It’s not secured, so that people can throw things down on the people here. It was… public entertainment, once.”

“Wait.” Uhura held up a hand. “One moment, guys.” She turned back to Siri. “They can just push it open?”

“Yes. My friends and I used to pull one up and throw things down when we were children, sticks and leaves and stones, just to watch them fall and see if we heard when they hit the bottom. These chambers have been empty for years now, but someone must come and empty them, because I looked for all of it when I realized where they’d put me, but –” She waved a hand at the empty space.

“But they can be opened.” Uhura looked up, and so did Siri. She turned to face Kirk and Volmeis. “Siri says the grates aren’t secured. It’s a historical thing – prisoners in here used to have things thrown to them. Or at them.”

“And if you make it up and out, then what?” Sarek pointed at Uhura’s wrapped hand. “Not all of us will be able to make that climb. I will be honest; I do not believe I would be successful, myself.”

“If two of us are out is better than all of us in here,” Volmeis said, and he sat down and started taking off his boots and socks.

“You’re not going now,” Uhura said, and Siri looked from one to the other.

“Uhura. Uhura. Is he going to climb?” She looked horrified. “No one has ever climbed this wall!”

“Volmeis. Siri says no one has ever climbed this.” Uhura didn’t know if she should grab him or hold him down or sit on him or what, and beside her Siri hovered nervously.

Kirk looked around the chamber at all of them, and sat down and started stripping off his own shoes and socks. “Lieutenant, Emor and I were on the extracurricular freeclimbing squad at the Academy. I made it halfway up Half Dome before they had to call it on account of bad weather. Emor was almost to the top.”

Uhura fought the urge to brain him with her bare hands. “Sir. With all due respect, this isn’t Half Dome.”

Kirk laughed. Laughed. “Wouldn’t be any fun if it was; why would you climb the same wall twice? And I don’t intend to climb this one more than once. Lieutenant, if we make it to the top, or – you’re in charge. Do whatever it takes to get the Ambassador and Ensign Torrence and Miss Tdnar out of here safely.”

Uhura took a deep breath and picked her chin up. “Aye sir.”

Kirk nodded and stood and jumped up and down a few times. “Ready, Emor?”

Volmeis was stretching next to him. “Yeah. Let’s do this.”

Kirk grinned, like he didn’t have a care in the world, and stepped over and put his hand over Uhura’s elbow and drew her off to the side. “Look. Not like I’m planning, but – if anything happens, and you make it back, will you – just. Tell Spock I’m sorry I fucked up our first big political moment, and tell him I did my best to take care of his dad, OK? And tell Bones – just tell him I’m sorry.” He squeezed Uhura’s elbow quickly. “And when we bust back in here to get the rest of you out you can pretend you never heard this, OK?”

Uhura regarded him. Even in the dim light she could see the blue of his eyes. “Yeah. OK. And – if it’s the other way – tell Spock I’m sorry too.” She had to swallow then, before she said anything else, anything stupid. But Kirk was watching her with understanding and something else she couldn’t quite identify.

“Deal,” he said quietly, and then he turned and clapped his hands together. “All right! Climbing time! This wall is going to be our bitch. You first, Emor.”


After, Uhura really couldn’t say just how they’d managed to swing over, remove the grate, and get out – but somehow they had, and she had a semicircle of bruises in her upper arm where Siri had been gripping in panic as they watched. There was nothing to do, then, but settle in and wait. Sarek folded himself into a meditative posture and sat silently, staring into space. Torrence talked Uhura into a few games of tic-tac-toe, drawn into the dust in the floor, but she tired of the game quickly. Luckily, Siri was entranced by the idea and caught on quickly, and promptly introduced Torrence to the Coridani equivalent.

There were precisely thirty-two paces from wall to wall, Uhura discovered.

She confirmed that a few more times, carefully skirting the leips grid that Siri was demonstrating for Torrence.

Then she paced out the other dimensions, just for completeness’ sake.

“Lieutenant,” Sarek finally murmured, after she had passed him for the fifth time. “Are you quite all right?”

She stopped, letting her head fall back on her shoulders. “I apologize, Ambassador. I’m a little restless.”

“You could put it that way,” Sarek said, and gestured next to him. “It is not terribly comfortable, but I offer you a seat.”

She fell against the wall and slid against it until her bottom met the floor. It was not comfortable. “Your’re right,” she told him. “I’m pretty sure even Klingon chairs are better than this.”

“It is not the Ritz,” Sarek agreed mildly. They watched Siri and Torrence hunched over their game for a moment. “Do you believe Kirk will succeed?”

“He’ll die trying,” Uhura said without thinking – and then caught her breath, because she realized she honestly did believe it, and that she believed it because Kirk really would.

“Illogical,” Sarek commented, and Uhura almost bristled, but he went on. “I am coming to believe that it is humanity’s most admirable quality.” He contemplated the grating in the ceiling for a few minutes. “My son is most concerned about you.”

Distantly, Uhura was aware of annoyance at being caught in a moment of surprise twice in as many minutes, but mostly she was gaping at him like a fish. “I’m – excuse me?”

Sarek left out an amused breath and resettled himself imperceptibly. “Vulcan families maintain a mild telepathic bond throughout their lifetimes. Spock and I are both high-ranked telepaths and we are therefore able to attune to one another despite the distance between us.” He turned to regard Uhura. “He’s concerned for my safety, of course, and for your captain and your crewmates – but his thoughts are primarily of you.” He watched her for a moment longer, and turned his head back to the grate. “I am gratified.”

She absorbed that, following his gaze for a lack of anywhere else to look. When she glanced away, the afterburn painted the bright daylight in neon colors against her eyes. “Spock said I should ask you about Rigel Minor.”

Shifting, Sarek stared into space, the corner of his lip twitching slightly. “That was a very long time ago.”

“He wouldn’t tell me anything more about it.”

“He would not,” Sarek agreed. “On Rigel Minor I almost resigned as a Federation Ambassador.”

Uhura leaned back in surprise. “But -- why?

Sarek was staring into space, eyes unfocused. “That was the first mission on which She who was my wife accompanied me. The Rigellian premier decided she was a gift.” He looked at Uhura, grimly amused. “I could have resigned, and taken Amanda away, but that would have angered both the Federation, who required that treaty, as well as my wife. So I fought for her.”

Speechless, Uhura could only stare, jaw open.

“I won, and so I kept my wife, and so impressed the premier that he granted us several trade concessions that have lasted until the present day,” Sarek went on, still watching a memory only he could see. “My son has never quite known what to make of that tale.”


Sarek did not speak for so long that Uhura had decided he wasn’t answering. “It was the most un-Vulcan thing I had ever done, even more so than marrying my wife. Spock was unable to reconcile this.” He turned to fix Uhura in a stern gaze. “My son has kept himself apart for too long. First he had to learn to be Vulcan. Now he must learn to be human.”

She had no answer for that, so she just nodded. Sarek returned it, and they went back to contemplating the grate.


By her reckoning it had been nearly ten hours with no visits from the guards, food, or water. She was just slipping into an uncomfortable doze, head falling forward to rest on her knees, when a shout echoed through the now-dark chamber.

Uhura was on her feet in an instant. “Where was that?”

It came again, followed by more voices – shouting. Screaming.

“I believe it is from outside. Above.” Sarek shook his head. “I cannot follow.”

Uhura spun to the corner Siri had claimed. She was still curled up, but her eyes were open. “Siri. Please, they’re talking too fast and they’re too far away. Can you hear them more clearly?”

Siri nodded, tilting her head up. “Hegkcuruz,” she murmured after a moment. “Hegkcuruz redo riw nesseihcs.” She shook her head. “I can’t make out anything else. Too many people, too far away.”

“Get back,” Uhura muttered. “Get back or we’ll shoot – shoot who? Who’s shooting?”

The gunshots echoed, mocking as if in answer, and even Sarek flinched. The screaming grew louder, and wails soared over the voices.

“Someone was shot,” Siri said quietly. Her face was pale. “That’s the mourning cry.” Torrence looked between her and Uhura, and quietly sat next to them without a word. Siri didn’t say anything, but she gave him a grateful look.

“What do we do now, Lieutenant?” he asked.

“We wait,” Uhura said firmly. Because I don’t know what else to do.


The scraping noises began at dawn. Light was just beginning to creep in through the grate when the noise filtered in.

They all stared up. “I have no idea what that is,” Torrence muttered.

“Without further evidence we can’t speculate,” Sarek agreed.

Siri tilted her head to the side, listening.

Uhura just closed her eyes and tried to figure out how long they’d gone without water.


The noises went on with the morning, and slowly coalesced into the sounds of construction. It made Siri very uncomfortable. “There’s not supposed to be anything up there,” she explained finally. “It’s a public gathering place. Any Coridani is supposed to be able to come there, for any reason, that’s why it’s right next to the palace, left over from the days when people had to fight to be heard. It’s not supposed to be blocked.”

Uhura translated that for Torrence and Sarek, who had already been nodding. “And yet I believe such a thing is happening,” he told Siri in his passable hcridani.

“What could they hope to gain?” Siri asked, and retreated to her corner.

That was when the door burst open.


When nobody moved, the lead guard repeated it, angrily. Siri rose to her feet, slowly, and the other three followed her lead. The guard waved his weapon at them.


They lined up, Uhura taking the front spot and waving Torrence and Sarek to cover Siri. Four more guards were waiting outside the door for them, and Uhura’s heart sank. The head guard nudged her with the butt of his gun. “Heg!”

She took one step, slowly. One of the other guards nudged her this time, and she looked up angrily – and saw a pair of bright blue eyes beneath the helmet.

Kirk winked, and moved on down the line to prod the rest of them as they passed, walking at the back of their little parade. They had just reached the end of a corridor when suddenly he shouted, “Down!”

Uhura dropped to the ground, and Torrence threw Siri on top of her, covering them both. Sarek landed beside them as gunfire rang above their heads. Siri was trembling, eyes pressed shut.

Estheg, estheg!” Uhura chanted. “Dins nednuerf!” It didn’t matter, not until Kirk pulled his helmet off and held out a hand to help Siri up.

“Sorry it took so long,” he said. “Took me a while to find a better outfit.”

Relief made her head swim, and she closed her eyes. "Fashion in here? Really, Kirk," she managed to drawl. "I don't suppose you have some water?"

"We do, actually," Volmeis announced, pulling a bottle out of the pack on his shoulder. He was in a guards' uniform too.

"Let's get out of the corridor," Kirk suggested, pointing. "Siri?"

The girl looked startled for a moment, and then straightened, pointing back they way they came. "There's a staircase back here."

It took Uhura a moment to remember what neppetr meant. "Sorry. Stairs, down there."

Kirk eyed her with concern. "You OK?"

"A little dehydrated," she said, claiming the bottle from Volmeis. "I'll be OK. Torrence, drink something."

“Everyone,” Kirk said, pitching bottles around. “Siri, lead the way.” He gestured for her to go ahead. She gave him a shy smile, straightened her shoulders, and started walking.


The room Siri led them to was a small one, with neat shelves of bound material lining the walls and narrow windows letting in shadowed daylight. A large table took up the center, covered in scattered papers. Siri hurried them all in and shut the door behind them, waving Uhura over. “I am keying the lock. This is the passcode. Watch carefully.” She pressed the series slowly and Uhura committed it to memory as she did, murmuring along. Siri nodded at her. “That was my father’s code. This is his private study.” She turned her back to the doorway, looking around the room like she’d never seen it before.

“Sir?” Torrence was leaning against one of the bookshelves, looking out. “Better come get a look.”

“There is a good view of the courtyard and plaza,” Siri told Uhura, and waited for her to translate. “That is why I brought you here.”

“Good call,” Kirk said, leaning carefully to peek out unseen. “What the hell. Ambassador, I think you better get a look at this.”

Siri followed Sarek across the room and peered behind him.

“Fascinating,” Sarek said, eyebrow climbing into his hairline.

Essiehs!” Siri said, and then she colored. “Sorry.”

“I don’t know that one,” Uhura commented, and Siri let out a nervous laugh.

“If you don’t know it I’m not telling you what it means,” Siri muttered, and turned back to the window. Uhura leaned around and saw – people. A huge crowd of people.

“How many, you think?” Kirk asked, and Torrence shrugged.

“A thousand, easy.”

“Closer to fifteen hundred,” Volmeis chimed in. He was looking towards the other end of the plaza. “What are they building?”

“That’s what we heard,” Uhura said, as she turned. “The construction. Is that a wall?”

Siri clenched her fist; if Sarek had not caught her hand in time it would have connected with the window. “Lies! It’s all lies!” Wrenching her hand free, she whirled away from the window, pacing across the room. Kirk gave Uhura a look and she quietly translated. He gestured impatiently.

Uhura looked at him sharply and mouthed stay back, she’s upset at him before crossing the room. Siri was standing against the table, her arms wrapped tightly around herself as she stood staring down at a page half-filled with hand-written symbols.

“Was that your father’s?” Uhura asked gently.

“Yes,” Siri said shortly. “He’ll never finish it now. He was writing down everything he thought I needed to know. I’ll never even know what he didn’t get to put in.”

“He loved you,” Uhura said. She glanced over at Kirk, who was watching them, and turned to her back to him. “Did you ever hear the story of when the Captain was born? It’s famous in the Federation. He is the Kelvin baby.”

It took Siri a moment. “Wait. I’ve heard that story. The ship that was destroyed by the Romulan who later destroyed all of Vulcan – that was him? That is him?” She reached down and ran her fingers over the half-blank page. “He didn’t know his father at all.”

“No. But – what his father did, out of love? It changed everything for him. It saved him.”

“My father saved me,” Siri whispered. “He heard them in the corridor coming for him, he told me to run. I did, but – I stopped, and I turned around, and –” her voice cracked. “Why would the Vulcans do this? Do they want our world now that theirs is destroyed? That’s what my uncle Mlehliw thought – he’s probably dead too. They killed everyone else. They’ll kill me when they find me.”

“They’ll have to get through us first,” Uhura snapped, and then she paused as her brain processed what Siri had said. “Siri, those aren’t Vulcans. They can’t be. There aren’t enough Vulcans left.”

“And the Ambassador was truly negotiating,” Siri went on, like she hadn’t heard a thing Uhura said. “Why bother when he was just waiting for this?”

“Siri!” Uhura interrupted. “Those aren’t Vulcans.”

Subsiding, Siri looked at her. “But – who are they then?”

“Who destroyed Vulcan?” Uhura asked in return. She could tell the exact moment Siri figured it out. Her eyes grew wide. “Why would the Romulans – they’re our trading partners – they’re our trading partners.” She pulled the chair at the end of the table out and sat down heavily. “But how did they get in?”

Sarek had been observing out the window but he slowly approached the table, speaking in slow but deliberate Coridani. “Neiluarf Tdnar.” Siri turned slowly to look at him and didn’t speak. Sarek waited a moment and inclined her head. “Miss Tdnar, I believe this event is the result of much planning and work, and I do not believe the perpetrators acted alone.”

“You mean, they had help?” Siri shook her head. “No. No, they couldn’t have. No Hcridani would do such a thing, we fought too hard for our independence and fought each other too long – ”

“With all due respect, I submit that that very civil war suggests that it would not be unexpected to find violent disagreement in your culture,” Sarek said, as gentle as Uhura had ever heard him. “In order to determine the true course of events here we must discover who assisted in this coup against your father.”

Siri pulled the page of writing closer and rested her hand flat against it. “He worked so hard for Hcridan. This isn’t right.”

“No, it’s not,” Uhura murmured, and she thought of Christine standing in sickbay, knowing without being told that something wasn’t right -- and that was when it clicked. “Siri.”

The girl looked up. “Yes?”

“The guards who brought us into the chamber with you were talking, and – one of them said something – “ she closed her eyes, trying to remember, and recited. “’Eiss nehetserv thcin. Setehg, stsi auhcskcur.’ And then[ar] the other replied, ‘Ud tsib red tim red neduarg. Thcin hci.’” She opened her eyes again. “He knew. Neduarg. He knew.”

Siri closed her own eyes, and put her head down on the desk, and wept.

Uhura stared in horrified silence for a moment, unsure how much comfort to offer – if any! – or if it would even be welcome. “Lieutenant,” Kirk hissed behind her. “What is going on?”

Sarek spoke before she could. “A bitter pill, Captain.” He sat in the chair next to Siri’s, and surprised them all by reaching for her and drawing her close. “Resseb uz neniew tztej, osud retaps ralk dnu hcsigol tsnnakneis.” Siri hitched a breath and buried her face against Sarek’s shoulder, and he ran a hand along her hair, stroking gently. “Riw nednif neid sertav sreredrom, senielk,” he murmured.

It was the endearment -- little one -- that made Uhura turn, drawing Kirk away. “They need a moment,” she said simply at his questioning look. “We all do.”

“What was that all about?” Kirk asked, and Uhura let out a long breath.

“Her father was betrayed by his own people,” she finally said, staring out the window at the fence going up. “Her people are not all as she thought they were, and her father’s gone. The whole world has turned upside down.” She turned back to look at Sarek, still holding Siri. Kirk followed her gaze, and his face softened.

“We’ll leave them for a moment then,” he agreed, and squeezed Uhura’s shoulder before he went back to the window.


As the sky darkened, they sat on the floor in a circle, leaving Tdnar’s work table as it was – except for the half-finished page Siri had found. That she carefully folded and tucked into a pocket. Whenever she thought no one was paying attention she would lay a hand over it. Kirk had found a blank pad and pen-like writing implements in a drawer at the base of a bookshelf, and was currently sketching out diagrams of the palace complex.

“So our best bet is to try for the back gardens,” he said, and Siri nodded, putting her hands in her lap as Uhura translated.

“If we can disable the electric fence that keeps predators out of the gardens then we can just walk out of the palace grounds,” she said. “It runs into the forest that surrounds the city. There’s nothing else there.”

“Something’s happening down here, Captain,” Torrence said from the window, peering out.

“Can those windows open?” Kirk demanded. “I want to hear this.”

Siri nodded, and stepped forward. “Excuse me,” she said in neatly accented Standard, and showed him how to work the window closure. They slid the window up slowly.

“— uz nerhi nesuah! Eseid ztalp tsi nessolhcseg! Tobrevhegsua tsi thein rabgartrebev!“ Guards were slowly advancing on the crowd, which was standing its ground.

Riw neheg thcin!” a thin voice shouted, barely audible.

“Lieutenant? Ambassador? Can somebody translate?” Kirk was shifting his weight from one foot to the other.

“They will not leave,” Sarek said softly, and pressed his lips together. “This cannot end well.”

Se tsi eid ztalpreklov,” Siri whispered. “Se tsi eresnu.

Uhura opened her mouth to translate when a crack echoed around the plaza, screams erupting from both sides of the standoff. “What was –”

“Projectile weapon,” Torrence interrupted, pointing. “There. Someone’s down.”

“Wounded,” Sarek added, squinting. “There is a great deal of blood loss.”

Siri pulled back from their cluster around the window, hand over the pocket on the side of her tunic. “I have to go down there.”

“Siri, you can’t!” Uhura blurted, turning. “They’re shooting.” She had to say it again in hcridani, too shaken to tell which language was which.

“My father would be right in front,” Siri said, lifting her chin. “That’s where I should be.”

Helplessly, Uhura turned to Kirk. “She wants to join them,” she said, spreading her hands. “That plaza – she says it’s the people’s plaza, that her father would be leading them if he were here. If they’re shooting –”

Kirk held up a hand, and turned back to look out the window. Uhura peeked past him. The crowd had lined up in front of the injured, a wall of people protecting the fallen, while the guards all stood with weapons at the ready. He turned back to them, challenge clear on his face. Volmeis stood up, and then so did Torrence. Sarek nodded when Kirk’s gaze landed on him. “It is the only logical response to such senseless violence,” he said quietly. Kirk nodded, and turned back to Uhura, asking the question with the lift of his chin.

Uhura lifted her own in answer, and got a grim smile from Kirk. Turning back to Siri. “If you’re going, we’re coming with you. All of us.”

Siri’s shoulders slumped and she closed her eyes for a moment. “Thank you,” she finally said. “Thank you. I’ll lead the way.”


It was ludicrously easy; in the end they simply walked out of the palace at the end of one of the long wings, right on the edge of the crowd. Siri stopped short at the size of the crowd, which had grown in the short time since they had last seen it. Sarek put a hand on her shoulder, and she took a deep breath and started walking.

The crowd parted to let them through, pointing to Kirk’s golden uniform and at Siri as she made her way and they followed. No one spoke, but it was not silent – there was a strange rumbling, a mostly-subliminal hum of anger and anticipation as they made their way through the crowd. Siri pushed on ahead, and Kirk followed, flanked by Torrence and Volmeis. Uhura followed with Sarek on her heels, and the crowd closed up behind them, curious and eager. There was no going back, even if she could bring herself to run.

They reached the front of the crowd, the empty no-man’s land that had grown before the row of soldiers standing guard before the fence blocking off [as]the palace. Uhura bit her lip at the sight of the bodies that lay sprawled where they’d been shot. Siri started, her hands shaking. “Ssaw tsi ssol?” Uhura whispered to her.

Eis dins eniem nednuerf,” Siri whispered, and she stopped moving and stared at them. “Rieh dins Reuanad dun Mlehliw. Eniem neudnuerf.” She raised her voice. “Eis dins eniem nednuerf! Eniem eilimaf!

The crowd moved uncertainly, and Uhura traded a worried glance with Sarek, but Kirk simply picked up his head, grabbed Siri’s wrist, and pulled her to the front of the crowd. With clear deliberation, he turned his back on the row of soldiers, who were fingering their guns with interest, and scooped Siri onto his shoulder. Torrence slipped in front of them, arms crossed, his eyes daring any of the crowd to touch. “Talk,” Kirk said, and Uhura pushed closer.

Eder,” she translated, but she didn’t need to. Siri was already talking, and Uhura could hear her father in her voice.

“You know me,” she called out to the crowd. “You all know who I am, but you don’t know where I was. They lied to you. I’ve been here the whole time, on the planet, held in the palace. I saw my father die, and the Federation people did not kill him.” She twisted on Kirk’s shoulders to point at the soldiers. “They did! They killed him before my eyes. My father, and for what?” She spread her arms. “Hate the Federation if you want to, but they saved me. They helped me when these men would have killed me. These men killed my father!” She kept talking, but the crowd was growing louder, her words being repeated further and further back, and the ire was growing; they were being pushed closer and closer to the no-man’s land.

Kirk stumbled and Siri tumbled off of his shoulder. Sarek grabbed her and held her close for a moment before he helped her regain her footing. “You spoke bravely,” he said quietly in hcridani, and kept a firm hand on her shoulder as the crowd surged around them.

A shout came from the line. “Any closer and we open fire! Return to your homes as you have been ordered!”


The voice came from somewhere in the crowd, and for a moment everything grew still.


It was a different voice, and another joined it, and another.

Murderers! Traitors! Murderers! Traitors! Next to her, Siri took up the cry, and then Kirk and Torrence and Volmeis, and Sarek beside her. Shaking, Uhura joined them, pushing to the very front, next to her crewmates, next to Siri. The crowd parted for her and stood close behind her, no longer pushing. They have our backs, Uhura realized, and then no, that’s wrong. They have ours, and we have theirs. She stared into the face of the closest soldier, who looked beneath his helmet to be barely older than Chekov. She stared at him and willed him to lower his gun.

It wasn’t he that broke. It was another, even younger boy standing further down the line who threw his weapon to the ground with a shout and tore off his helmet. He ran across the no-man’s land, sending his helmet flying behind him, and met the crowd with his hands in the air. They parted for him and reformed, the boy safely protected by the mass of people.

“Fire!” the commander shouted, fury in his voice. “Fire, damn you!”

“Shoot us!” cried a voice from the crowd. “Shoot your own people!’

The crowd took up the chant. “Shoot us! Shoot us! Shoot us!”

Kirk had inched closer to her, but Uhura didn’t realize until she felt his hand grab hers and squeeze tightly. It was slick with sweat, and when she darted her eyes to the side, she could see he was covered with it. He was petrified, but his expression never wavered as he joined in the cry. “Shoot us!”

Another soldier broke and ran across the dirt to land on his knees at Siri’s feet, sobbing so hard he couldn’t[at] be understood. Siri reached down and pulled him to his feet, and hugged him; the crowd cheered and taunted the remaining soldiers and chanted as the second soldier was absorbed into the fray.

As if the dam had burst, more soldiers were throwing down their weapons and fleeing into the crowd, who welcomed and shielded them as the commander screamed with increasing rage, until one of his own men struck him with the butt of a rifle before pointing the business end squarely at his face.

The cheer that the crowd let out was deafening, and they rushed the gates in a sudden smooth motion, pushing through and into the palace grounds.


Uhura was kneeling, translating for one of the Enterprise medics when she heard her name being called. “Hci nib reih!” she called, and blinked when the medic glanced at her in amusement. “Shut up,” she muttered. “You try switching languages all the time.” She stood up and repeated, “I’m over here!” – in Standard this time.

Whoever it was bellowed her name again, and she called out louder. “Over here, with the medics!” It wasn’t until she saw Spock push his way through the crowd that she realized he’d been calling her first name.

“Nyota,” he said, and crossed the space between them in two strides, tackling her into a fierce embrace that pushed every last atom of air out of her lungs. His fingers dug into her shoulders and his hands were shaking as he buried his face against the side of her neck. “Nyota. Nyota.” He stepped back, and cupped her face with his hands for a moment, and then seized her in another embrace. “Nyota.”

His voice was shaking, and she threw her arms around him. “I’m all right. Spock. I’m here.”

“You could have been – “ He didn’t finish, just took a shuddering breath and held her tighter, pressing his forehead against hers for a moment as he rocked her, and she rested her cheek against his shoulder and clung to him just as tightly.

Her vision had gone blurry, but for just a moment after she blinked it cleared, and she could see Kirk standing with his hands shoved in his pockets, watching them with a sad smile on his face. As soon as he realized she’d seen him he turned and went back to helping the Coridani who were tearing the gates down, and she wondered if she hadn’t imagined it.

Spock’s breath was a ragged rhythm against her skin as he reassured himself she was still there, and she closed her eyes and listened to his heart beat a staccato against the sounds of the crowd and the tearing of metal and the cheers of the people around them as the gate fell to the ground in pieces.


The square was clean now, quiet and peaceful in the morning light. Uhura stood apart from the landing party, watching people come and go across the corners of the square. They stopped to talk to friends, carrying children and groceries. Some of them hovered around the borders, watching as the Federation and Coridani officials mingling.

Crossing the square, Uhura stopped in front of a grate set into the ground.

“That’s where we were,” a voice said behind her, and she turned to find Siri, standing uncharacteristically subdued a short distance away. “Underneath.”

“I can hardly believe that was just a few days ago,” Uhura answered softly.

Siri came to stand next to her. “I can hardly believe any of it was just a few days ago,” she echoed, and picked her chin up. “Do you think it will get easier?”

Uhura turned around to look at Spock, who was standing poker-straight between Admiral Pike and T’Meil, but listening intently to Ambassador Sarek as he and Pike spoke with Mlehliw, still bandaged and battered. He’d only just survived, thanks to the intervention of McCoy and his surgery.

Spock looked across the square at her, and something in his expression eased as their eyes met. When he turned back to the conversation, it was with a deep breath as he opened his mouth to join the discussion. Next to him, T’Meil remained silent, listening to the conversation without a word. “Yes,” Uhura said to Siri, her eyes still on Spock. “It won’t stop hurting, I think. But you learn how to cope.”

“It never gets easier,” another voice chimed in, slightly tinny as the UT kicked in. “But you get stronger.”

Siri spun around. “Captain!”

Kirk joined them to look down at the grate. “You know, I kind of can’t believe I actually pulled that climb off?”

“I still can’t believe you did!” Siri said, and gave him a shy smile. “But I’m glad it worked.”

“Oh, me too,” Kirk said fervently. He looked around the square. “Why is everybody hiding in the corners? I thought this was the people’s square?”

“They are waiting for you to leave,” Siri said, and offered him a human-style shrug when they both looked up in surprise. “They are still skittish.”

“And you?”

Siri turned back at the palace and tilted her head back a little, looking at the sky. “When your Admiral offered to help me to go to Starfleet Academy, was he serious?”

Kirk traded a glance with Uhura. “Absolutely. Are you interested?”

They stood around the grate for a long moment, while Siri stared at the sky. “I am.” But she didn’t move, or lower her head.

Uhura gave it another few heartbeats. “Rebaa?” she asked softly.

“But.” Siri took a deep breath. “I want to stay here, and help my planet first. And make sure my planet is safe.” She looked at Uhura then. “Is that -- do you think --”

“I think he’d be proud of you,” Kirk said, and when they both turned to look at him, he was looking at the sky too.

“Siri, come tell the Admiral about your ideas,” someone called, and when they turned Mlehliw was waving her over.

“Excuse me,” she told them both with a smile, and crossed the square to rejoin her uncle.

“She’ll be fine,” Kirk said, watching her go.

Uhura glanced at him sideways. “Why do you say that?”

“She’s got a purpose,” Kirk said, and he inclined his head at the group, where Siri was now talking to the Ambassador with animated gestures while Spock and Sarek looked on. “It helps. It doesn’t fix everything, but it helps.” He gave Uhura a small sideways smile. “You did a hell of a job in all of this, Lieutenant. Nobody I’d rather have at my back.” He tossed off a lazy salute and left her there, sauntering back across the square.

They returned to the ship in multiple groups. Uhura was with Kirk in the last party to beam-up, after saying a unexpectedly teary good-bye to Siri. Spock and Sarek were both waiting in the transporter room, and then both relaxed visibly when the transporter beam released her.

Kirk gave her a knowing smile and clomped off the platform. “I’m off to debrief McCoy,” he say to nobody in particular, clapping Spock on the back as he went by. Spock glared at him as he left the room, switching his dark look to Admiral Pike when he followed Kirk out, chuckling.

“Your Captain is very informal,” Sarek observed as Uhura climbed off the platform. “It suits him.”

“I agree,” Spock said. “He...makes it work.” He turned to Uhura as she joined them, arching his eyebrow.

“He does,” she said, and held out her hand. Spock’s eyebrow arched higher, but he took it and squeezed briefly. “Good climber, too.”

“Indeed.” Sarek inclined his head to her. “Good night, my son. Lieutenant.”

Spock turned to her after he’d left them in the empty transporter room. “You agree?”

“He makes it work,” Uhura said, and took his hand again, tugging him after her. “We might all be getting the hang of this thing.”

Spock let her lead the way. “Indeed.”


Attention all hands, this is Captain Kirk. We will be warping out of the Coridan system shortly to return our passengers to Starbase 28 and debrief. Crew can expect 48 hours of liberty once debrief is completed. I am pleased to announce commendations for bravery for Ensign Volmeis, Ensign Torrence, and Lieutenant Uhura. Well deserved, all three of you. Kirk out.

At her station, Uhura sat up in surprise, and turned to look at the command chair. Kirk swung slightly to the side and winked at her. Uhura grinned and turned back to her board, knowing without needing to look that next to her, Spock was regarding them both with gratification.

Chekov announced their course, and at Kirk's command Sulu engaged the engines. They were off.

(no subject)

Date: 2011-11-19 09:56 pm (UTC)
shinyship: (spock-fascinating)
From: [personal profile] shinyship
\o/ Yay! An excellent adventure :-) Loved seeing the story from Uhura's POV. She's never been my favourite character, and yet you made me love her in this! Brilliant stuff.


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December 2012

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