Chapter 27: On the Run
Kirk fired a further salvo into the melee. The phaser bursts gave them a few seconds of precious time to dash out and smash the locking mechanism. However, it would not hold for long.
The Human healer, McCoy, kneeling by Spock's prone form, was waiting further down the long corridor. Two more of Kirk's men, one carrying T'pavahna on his hip, joined them. Already they could hear blows hammering on the locked door of the interrogation room. It would not be long before the noise attracted unwanted attention.
"Jim, what about the ship?" McCoy questioned anxiously.
"Scotty's waiting to beam us back. We've no reason not to use the communicators any more. The Klingons know where we are…."
"Bones, you've just earned that bonus Fleet aren't paying us." He flicked open his communicator. "Kirk to Enterprise. Come in, Scotty."
From somewhere not too far away there came the sound of running feet heading in their direction.
"Kirk to Enterprise. Mr. Scott, stand by to beam us over." There was no response from either his Chief Engineer or his ship, just the faint hiss and crackle of static coming over the miniature speaker. Kirk felt his stomach knot with anxiety.
"The Klingons must be jamming the signal." He spared a glance for Spock whose face was a sick shade of yellowish-grey, slick with perspiration; his eyes unfocused, with the iris almost hidden by the inner nictitating membrane. He did not look as if he knew what was happening; certainly, he paid no attention either to T'pavan or to the child. His breathing laboured in his chest, each inhalation and exhalation sounding as if it might very well be his last.
Kirk looked at McCoy, who shook his head. "It's not good, Jim. I've given him something to counteract the adrenalin but he's about done in. We've got to get him to the Enterprise."
Kirk rubbed the soft pad of his thumb over his bottom lip in anxious thought, his heart contracting with fear and remorse. "Believe me, Bones, it's on the top of my agenda. We'll have to run for it. Head for the transporters. I'll take Spock. You see to Lady T'pavan and the little girl. Chekov, Sulu, cover us as best you can. Let's move it."
He heaved Spock smoothly up into his arms and over his shoulder, feeling the slim, hard bones just under the Vulcan's skin, for his First Officer seemed to be losing bodily substance by the minute. Spock moaned softly, but made no other protest as Kirk steadied the extra weight and headed down the corridor at a stumbling run, McCoy following with T'pavan.
Before too long the raucous wailing of an alarm erupted startlingly, a sound that penetrated to all parts of the alien ship.
"That's torn it." Kirk gasped, panting with effort, sweat running down his forehead, stinging his eyes. "Quick, this way."
But as two Klingon soldiers appeared abruptly ahead, no doubt in advance of a whole lot more it looked as if they were out of luck. Kirk could not tell who was most surprised as Chekov yelled a warning. "Kepten, look out."
Sulu fired his phaser, taking one of the soldiers out. A second burst of narrow red light enveloped the second soldier who collapsed instantly. Frantically they turned down an upcoming intersection, Kirk guiding them as before, but from behind them a savage yell sounded and a bolt of actinic blue lightning flared over their heads. At least Kor seemed to want to take them alive. Chekov fired back with no such intention in mind.
McCoy, following with T'pavan, scooped up the child in his arms as Chekov brought up the rear. He saw Kirk stumble, hearing him curse before quickly recovering, but carrying Spock was taking its inevitable toll.
Although the First Officer was naturally slim, he was a native of a world with a higher gravity than Terra, his bones and flesh were considerably more compact than any Human, and Kirk must feel as if he had the whole world on his shoulders.
"Hurry," McCoy urged them all. Sweat soaked his shirt, both from the sudden exertion and from fear. It dripped from his hairline into his eyes and he blinked it away, sparing a glance for T'pavan who seemed unaffected as she ran lightly beside him. The child he carried, though very small, almost delicate in appearance, felt heavy in his arms but remained as impassive and unruffled as her mother. McCoy, on first seeing the girl, could understand why Spock had risked so much to rescue them, the old dark horse! His intuition appeared to be correct, as he noticed both T'pavan and her small daughter's whole attention focussed on Spock, their eyes never leaving him for long.
However, they also had nowhere left to go. Now that the alarm had sounded, there was no way they could reach the transporters. The corridor stretched before them, each new intersection mocking them with a safety that never materialized. For the moment they evaded capture, but for how much longer.
Kirk flagged with tiredness, and as McCoy watched, tripped and fell. He sprawled awkwardly, the Vulcan tumbling from his shoulder. T'pavan ran to them and knelt beside Spock. The First Officer stirred, opening his eyes to gaze up at her, the nictitating membrane withdrawing.
Almost tentatively, she linked his fingers with her own. "Spock, I would give thee strength if thee will accept it. My offer is without obligation."
He had no energy left to speak, fighting for each breath, and rapidly losing the battle, but his eyes narrowed in a look that all who knew him recognised, stubborn and wilful, uncompromising.
T'pavan inclined her head, acknowledging his opposition but unwilling to accede to it. Her green eyes flashed, ruthless and more than a little cruel. "There is a time and place for intransigence and obduracy, but it is not here or now, Spock-neha. Are thee so anxious to meet with the All, that thee would rather die than accept my help? Would thee so desert thy Captain when his need is greatest?"
Nearby, Kirk pulled in a startled breath as he saw Spock flinch. "Madam, that wasn't necessary…"
She ignored the interruption. "Is it not the truth that living is far more complex than dying? Thy time is not yet, Spock. Let me share thy pain while I still can."
Kirk looked from T'pavan to Spock and back again without understanding what was happening. "You're saying you can help my First Officer, is that it, Lady T'pavan."
She continued to look steadily at Spock, waiting for an answer, gaze cat-like in its intensity, not even glancing in Kirk's direction.
"Spock?" Kirk queried, kneeling on the other side of his First Officer's prone body. He saw Spock swallow hard, even that small movement an effort for the Vulcan. "Spock, she's right. I do need you. The ship needs you."
There was another burst of phaser fire, answered with a salvo from the end of the corridor where Chekov kept the Klingons at bay. He could not hold out for long. Anxiously, Kirk looked up at McCoy and Sulu. "Bones take the girl and look for somewhere we can defend for a while. A storeroom, anyplace that has a door and we can defend. Sulu go with them. Be quick about it we don't have much time."
"But what about you, Jim? We can't just leave you here."
"Go, Doctor. We'll be fine. Go."
He turned his attention back to Spock, aware that McCoy hesitated but refusing to acknowledge his presence. Eventually, McCoy got the message and followed Sulu, grumbling under his breath all the way, just loud enough for audibility. Kirk took Spock's hand, held it much as T'pavan did on the Vulcan's other side, signalling through touch his sincerity and earnestness, putting his heart on the line.
He felt a tremor run through his First Officer in understanding. "Spock… I don't want you to die. If Lady T'pavan can help, I want you to let her. That's a direct order, Mister. I need you, Spock. "
The impasse lasted only an instant but to Kirk it seemed like an eternity. Spock's fingers tightened on his own in reply, the slightest of pressures before the grip weakened again.
Kirk glanced at T'pavan, whose attention had shifted and was now focused on him, a small rueful smile lifting the corners of her generous mouth, and had the time to notice how incredibly beautiful she was. "He says go ahead, do whatever you need to do!"
"Why, thank you, Captain Kirk. I… rather thought he might." The smile faded as she turned back to Spock who had closed his eyes once more, and placed her fingers along his cheek and brow.
Softly, she began to intone some sort of incantation in her own tongue but Kirk, who had seen Spock do the same sort of thing on a number of occasions, could guess what she said. After an instant, he saw Spock's lips form the same words until they were in synchronisation.
"Keh arah menemarah shier' a. Keh arah n'aechmi shier 'a…"
Leaving them to it, he set off down the corridor where Chekov was still blasting away at an increasingly wary enemy. For the moment, the ensign had the Klingons pinned down but the numbers were growing. It would need only a concerted rush to overwhelm Chekov's defence.
"Ensign, I'll take over here. Join Mr. Spock. See if you can assist him and the Lady T'pavan. Doctor McCoy may have found us a bolthole. I want you to get them there as quickly as possible. Understood?"
"Aye, Kepten. Understood, sir."
Kirk watched the boy as he ran quickly back to Spock and T'pavan. The First Officer was sitting up, apparently unsupported. Whatever T'pavan had done, it seemed to be working in the Vulcan's favour. Kirk checked his weapons, ducking as a disruptor bolt flared over his head. Close, but not close enough. He hunkered down, haunches on heels, and with quick, deft strokes switched his own purloined disruptor to overload, using his phaser to keep the Klingons under cover. The soft whine of increased energy levels rose quickly in volume until it was a shrieking, eardrum bursting roar. He waited, counting off the seconds, until his teeth rattled with the reverberation of barely contained power.
The disruptor, almost too hot to hold, burned his hand as he lobbed it overhand. He did not wait to see it come to ground, but thrust himself up on his feet and began to run. He had only gone a few yards when a huge explosion threw him forward. Kirk rolled with the blast, shot upright in one fluid motion and continued to jog after Chekov who had disappeared down a further intersection. When he caught up the boy had an arm around Spock's waist, supporting the First Officer with T'pavan's help. Kirk took over without a word, welcoming the slight but heavy frame against his side with the assurance that it belonged there. Together they made it slowly down another corridor, turned a corner and saw the open doorway. Sulu, McCoy and the child waited there anxiously.
"We thought we'd lost you." McCoy rasped out. "What happened, Jim?"
Kirk shoved Spock and T'pavan to safety together with the child and stood at the entrance of the room with Sulu and Chekov flanking him, their phasers levelled. "I'm not too sure myself, Bones. Better check on Spock. T'pavan's patched him up but it's probably only temporary."
"Captain," Sulu warned. "The Klingons are coming…"
"Get inside…" Kirk fired a last barrage before McCoy grabbed him by the arm and yanked him into the room where the rest of the small party huddled. The door swished shut and unable to do anything more constructive, Kirk fused the lock.
"At least that should hold them for awhile." He murmured, almost under his breath.
McCoy standing at his shoulder agreed. "Yeah, but while they can't get in, we can't get out – and the Enterprise is still at Kor's mercy."