"Bam, bam bam!"  Klingons dropped like Arcturian zingerflies under Spock's phaser blasts, landing in layers on top of the small rise in front of the fort.

"Bam, bam, bam!" Kirk fired into the trees.  More Klingons fell from the branches, silent screams dying on their lips as they were vaporized into pure nothingness in the frigid air.   By rights, the snow of this world should be dyed pink with so much alien blood, but it remained white and pure.

In an eerie way, that almost seemed worse.

They had known it would be winter here, but hadn't expected the temperature to drop so fast.  Their standard uniforms were ill-suited to the conditions, but right now that was the least of their problems.  The massive Klingon ground assault had caught them entirely by surprise.

"Captain!" Spock's voice rose in audible alarm.  He stared down at his phaser, noting it to glow redder and redder by the second.  With a powerful swing of his shoulder, he hurled the phaser over the top of the fort and toward the Klingons on the hill.

"Quickly, Captain!  They've transmitted an overload signal to our phasers."

Kirk squeezed out two more shots before heaving his phaser into the trees.  The fort was rocked by a violent shudder.  Spock threw himself over his captain, forcing them both face-down into the ground.  A flurry of snowy crystals cascaded over them.  Spock wrapped his arms more tightly around Jim's head and chest, and hunched his own back against the onslaught.

With Spock's weight pressing into his chest, Kirk turned his head to the side and gasped for breath.   Each lungful burned his chest anew.  Where he lay, the chill burned into his cheek and snow had pushed under his shirt cuffs and hem. All he could see was the powder blue or blackness of Spock's arm pressed securely up against his eyes. As Spock's breath curled around him, snow and ice melted and pooled cold, pasting his collar unpleasantly against his neck.  He counted the seconds until it would be over.  Twenty-two.  Twenty-three.  Twenty-four.

When the rumbling ceased, Spock rose.  Jim hopped to his feet right after.  Spock peered over the top of the fort.  "The explosion will not deter them for long."

"And we're defenseless here."  Kirk finished his thought.   "We've got to get to the munitions dump."  He gestured to the right in the general direction that they had seen it lie.  "Cover me."

Peeking over the top of the wall, Kirk jumped up and sprinted from the fort.  He zigzagged to the right, making for the downhill trail to the stockpile, while Spock threw snowballs wildly into the distance.

Kirk rolled down the hill and steered himself into the weapons cache. He shouted back up to the fort, "Spock, I made it!  Now you!"  He picked up an ion cannon and aimed it over the hill.  "Breeng, breeng, breeng!  I've got you covered, Spock!  Now!"

Spock lunged for the hill and rolled down, tumbling over and over through the snow.  Dizzy by the time he reached the bottom, he landed in a tangle of gangly arms and legs on top of Jim.

"Careful," said Jim, picking themselves apart.  "I almost hit you with my ion cannon.  That would've been a mess. Can you reach the ship yet?"

Spock tried his communicator again.  It stayed silent.  "Negative, Captain.  The solar storm is still causing too much interference.  We seem to be on our own."

"We'll just have to hold out, then.  Can you make a shield of some sort from the supplies here?"

"I'm a science officer, not McGyver," said Spock.  "But I should be able to fashion an erganium hypergrater of sorts."

"What will that do?" asked Kirk.  "Breeng, breeng, breeng!"   Wave after wave of Klingons was wiped out under the spray of his ion cannon.

"It should make a most effective wide range bomb," said Spock.

"How wide range?  It won't be any good if it kills us too," said Jim.  "Breeng, breeng, breeng!"

"Breeee--"  The sound warbled down to a pathetic buzz.  Jim tossed the cannon aside and reached for a laser scorpion in its place.  "Make it quick.  Our ammo won't last forever.  The cannon is already dead."

"We can set detonation for far enough away, and deliver the explosive with this."  Spock tapped a grenade launcher.  "One for the troops on the hill and one for those in the forest should be sufficient."

"Okay."  Zap, zap, zap!  "Get to it.  They just beamed in reinforcements."

"Working, Captain."

Zap, zap, zap, zap!  Kirk spun the scorpion around from side to side, effectively holding the Klingons at a harmless distance.

"I have it, Captain," said Spock as he crammed a device into the launcher.

"Aim for the hill," said Kirk as he continued to spray the land with laser shots.

"Fifteen second detonation delay," said Spock.  He pointed the launcher up and toward the hill and hit the trigger.  He grabbed Kirk and again they pressed themselves, arm around each other's bodies, into the snow.

KAPOW! There was an earthshaking burst, and then the hillside went still.

Kirk turned around.  "Beautiful, Spock!"  He clapped him on the shoulder.  "Good work--now the trees."

Spock reloaded and realigned the launcher.  "Fifteen seconds," he said.

"Jim!"  Spock's voice was unmitigated terror.  He tore frantically at the weapon, fingers straining down the barrel towards the bomb.  "The launcher is jammed.  Run!"

Without a moment's hesitation, Kirk threw himself over the launcher.  He knocked it out of Spock's hands and to the ground and covered it with his stomach. "You run, Spock! Save yourself!"

Spock grabbed his captain by the shoulder and neck-pinched him into unconsciousness. Acting quickly, he rolled Jim away from the device.  He grabbed the launcher and slung it over his back.  His other hand he placed over Jim's cheek and forehead.

His voice was thick but certain as he spoke.  "I have been and always shall be your friend.  Remember me."

With the briefest of final glances towards the stillness of Jim's face, Spock made a desperate dash for the woods.

At fourteen point five seconds, by his own invariably correct calculations, Spock heaved the launcher into the forest.

Mercifully, he never felt the blast that blew him into the snow.


It was deathly quiet when Kirk picked himself up from the frozen muck.  His gold tunic was now a muddy mess.  He was soaked to the skin.  He stared around the munitions dump as if to try to collect his thoughts.  There had been so many Klingons.  He and Spock...

Spock! Heedless of any danger, he ran out into the field.  The bright blue and black of Spock's uniform lay sprawled in the snow in a heartbreakingly improbable position.  "Spock!"

Kirk ran to his side and cradled the dark head in his lap.  It rolled limply to the side, hoary crust sticking on the hair and brows.

He couldn't feel any breath.

"Spock, oh, Spock.  How could you?  Don't you know I would rather have died than you?  Spock, please, you can't be dead!  I can't do this without you; we're a team!  Please, Spock.  You can't be dead."

Jim hung his head over the dear gray face and waited.  He brushed some wayward strands of black hair away from the forehead, but still nothing happened.  The temperature had dropped still further.  Winter wind bit through his shirt and he could feel the frost settling into his scalp and skin.  Still he waited, but the only sound beside his own rough breathing was the twittering of a pair of cardinals in the trees.


A woman stepped out on to her back porch just in time to see the two curled up and holding each other.  She watched her son with his friend's head in his lap--watched him brush the hair away so tenderly and a nervous mother's premonition ran through her gut.

He was so young--still her baby.  Did he really have to grow up so soon?

Maybe not.  She took a deep breath and called to them.  "Josh! Robbie!   Come on in, kids.  It's time to light the menorah."

Kirk raised his head.  Spock sat up and looked around.  It was already getting dark.


Ten minutes playing with their toys they had told their folks--and that was a whole legion of Klingons ago. Josh didn't remember anything about asking permission to go outside.

They were so busted.

"Robbie, Josh!" she called again.

Josh scrambled to his feet and turned to the house where his mother stood on the back porch in with a coat drawn around her shoulders against the cold.  From the look on her face, Josh guessed he just might be in trouble.

Well, he sure was a mess.  His uniform shirt was barely recognizable as gold anymore.  It had been one of the most expensive costumes in Wal-Mart, and he had promised he would take care of it.  It was barely six weeks now since Halloween and look.

Robbie rolled up and brushed the worst of the snow off of his Spock costume.  He went to hunt for the phasers.  They had cost extra and he was going to be so dead if he had lost them already.

"Coming, Mom; I'm sorry.  We were playing, and I kinda forgot to be careful."


Josh waited. He couldn't quite figure out the peculiar expression on her face.

His mother stared a moment longer.  "What's the leaf blower doing out?" she asked.  It didn't really sound like that was what she meant.  She was still looking at him.  At him, and at Robbie as he bent to search for the phasers.

"We were just playing.  I'm sorry.  I'll get it." Josh ran to collect his dad's leaf blower from where Robbie had chucked it near the woods.  He stowed it back in the tool shed.  He'd come back later and straighten up the rest.

"Kids, where are you?"  A man's voice now.

"I found them, Eddie.  They're in the back yard."

Robbie's dad came out on the porch behind her.  "Hurry up, kids.  Everyone's waiting."

Josh climbed up on the porch.  Robbie's dad laughed.  "You're a mess.  What've you two been doing?"

"Just playing Star Trek," said Josh.

"So I see, 'Captain.'"  Robbie's dad ruffled his hair.

"Come on."  Josh's mom led him across the porch toward the house.  "You need to clean up and change.  And I think it would be best if you didn't see quite so much of Robbie."

"Why not, Mom?  We weren't hurting anything.  We were just playing.  I thought you liked Star Trek?  I'm sorry I got dirty, but I'll put away all the stuff tomorrow.  Or tonight if you want."

She gave him one of those grown-up looks that always meant he was not going to like or understand whatever was coming next.

"I do like Star Trek--very much--and it's not that.  I just think you should--broaden your friendships a little.

"Take off those shoes before you come in."  She waited for him at the door.

"Robbie's my best friend.  I don't need anything broader," said Josh.  His young voice quaked with frustration.  Obediently he kicked out of his shoes.

"I know, and he's a nice boy.  You just need to spread yourself out more."

"But I don't want to!  I like Robbie.  We have the most fun together, and we weren't doing anything wrong.  I don't see what the big deal is."  Josh stepped over the door casement in his socks.

His mom banged the worst of the muck off of his shoes and left the pair sitting on the outside mat.   "I know.  I'm just trying to make things easier for you.  Trust me.  I was your age once; there are things you don't see yet.  The world can be so hard sometimes."

"There's nothing hard about it," said Josh, frustration rising in his voice.  "We were just playing Star Trek!  Why are you making such a big deal out of it?"

Robbie's dad looked over at the outburst.

The parents exchanged another one of those grownup looks.

"We'll talk about this later," said his mom, closing the outer glass door behind them.  "Now you and Robbie both go wash up and change.  Everyone's waiting and Mr. Schwartz says you two are really going to like tonight's presents.  Here, take off that shirt before you go."

Josh pulled the command tunic over his head.  He wondered what the present would be.  Maybe the set of Klingon masks they had asked for last month?  As he turned to pass the shirt to his mother, he saw Robbie and his dad walking across the porch.  Robbie's dad had an arm around his shoulders and was saying something, but Robbie wasn't paying much attention.  He was watching Josh through the glass.  Between the heat inside and the cold outside, it was rapidly beginning to cloud over.

The kids' eyes met through the haze.  Grown-ups could be so weird.  Why couldn't they just relax and have a little fun?

Things would be so much better when kids got their chance to run the world.