ON A FROSTY EVE
"Bam, bam bam!"
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!"
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
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
winter here, but hadn't expected the temperature to drop so
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.
Spock's voice rose
in audible alarm. He stared down at his phaser, noting it to
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.
Captain! They've transmitted an overload signal to our
Kirk squeezed out
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
snowy crystals cascaded over them. Spock wrapped his arms
tightly around Jim's head and chest, and hunched his own back against
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.
When the rumbling
Spock rose. Jim hopped to his feet right after.
peered over the top of the fort. "The explosion will not
them for long."
here." Kirk finished his thought. "We've
got to get
to the munitions dump." He gestured to the right in the
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
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
aimed it over the hill. "Breeng, breeng, breeng!
you covered, Spock! Now!"
Spock lunged for
the hill and
rolled down, tumbling over and over through the snow. Dizzy
the time he reached the bottom, he landed in a tangle of gangly arms
and legs on top of Jim.
themselves apart. "I almost hit you with my ion
That would've been a mess. Can you reach the ship yet?"
Spock tried his
again. It stayed silent. "Negative,
solar storm is still causing too much interference. We seem
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
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.
range? It won't be any good if it kills us too," said
Jim. "Breeng, breeng, breeng!"
warbled down to a pathetic buzz. Jim tossed the cannon aside
reached for a laser scorpion in its place. "Make it
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
grenade launcher. "One for the troops on the hill and one for
those in the forest should be sufficient."
Zap, zap, zap! "Get to it. They just beamed in
Zap, zap, zap,
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.
delay," said Spock. He pointed the launcher up and toward the
hill and hit the trigger. He grabbed Kirk and again they
themselves, arm around each other's bodies, into the snow.
KAPOW! There was
an earthshaking burst, and then the hillside went still.
around. "Beautiful, Spock!" He clapped him on the
shoulder. "Good work--now the trees."
and realigned the launcher. "Fifteen seconds," he said.
Spock's voice was
unmitigated terror. He tore frantically at the weapon,
straining down the barrel towards the bomb. "The launcher is
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
the shoulder and neck-pinched him into unconsciousness. Acting quickly,
he rolled Jim away from the device. He grabbed the launcher
slung it over his back. His other hand he placed over Jim's
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.
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
muddy mess. He was soaked to the skin. He stared
munitions dump as if to try to collect his thoughts. There
been so many Klingons. He and Spock...
of any danger,
he ran out into the field. The bright blue and black of
uniform lay sprawled in the snow in a heartbreakingly improbable
Kirk ran to his
cradled the dark head in his lap. It rolled limply to the
hoary crust sticking on the hair and brows.
He couldn't feel
could you? Don't you know I would rather have died than
you? Spock, please, you can't be dead! I can't do
without you; we're a team! Please, Spock. You can't
Jim hung his head
dear gray face and waited. He brushed some wayward strands of
black hair away from the forehead, but still nothing
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?
not. She took a
deep breath and called to them. "Josh!
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.
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
They were so
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
on her face, Josh guessed he just might be in trouble.
Well, he sure was
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
barely six weeks now since Halloween and look.
Robbie rolled up
the worst of the snow off of his Spock costume. He went to
for the phasers. They had cost extra and he was going to be
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
longer. "What's the leaf blower doing out?" she
didn't really sound like that was what she meant. She was
looking at him. At him, and at Robbie as he bent to search
"We were just
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
it back in the tool shed. He'd come back later and straighten
"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.
Josh climbed up
on the porch. Robbie's dad laughed. "You're a
mess. What've you two been doing?"
Star Trek," said Josh.
"So I see,
'Captain.'" Robbie's dad ruffled his hair.
on." Josh's mom
led him across the porch toward the house. "You need to clean
and change. And I think it would be best if you didn't see
so much of Robbie."
weren't hurting anything. We were just playing. I
you liked Star Trek? I'm sorry I got dirty, but I'll put away
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.
young voice quaked with frustration. Obediently he kicked out
"I know, and he's
a nice boy. You just need to spread yourself out more."
"But I don't want
like Robbie. We have the most fun together, and we weren't
anything wrong. I don't see what the big deal is."
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
for you. Trust me. I was your age once; there are
you don't see yet. The world can be so hard sometimes."
it," said Josh, frustration rising in his voice. "We were
playing Star Trek! Why are you making such a big deal out of
looked over at the outburst.
exchanged another one of those grownup looks.
"We'll talk about
said his mom, closing the outer glass door behind them. "Now
and Robbie both go wash up and change. Everyone's waiting and
Schwartz says you two are really going to like tonight's
presents. Here, take off that shirt before you go."
Josh pulled the
over his head. He wondered what the present would
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.
the heat inside and the cold outside, it was rapidly beginning to cloud
The kids' eyes
met through the
haze. Grown-ups could be so weird. Why couldn't
relax and have a little fun?
Things would be
so much better when kids got their chance to run the world.