The Obsidian Mirror
I entered what I hoped was the relative safety of my quarters to wait for word from Scotty and Bones. McCoy was frightened and angry but I wasn’t worried about him. Scotty, however was a deeply honest man and the mere thought of deception blared from his body like a red alert klaxon. Alone, Scotty was caught the moment he turned down the corridor towards engineering. Bones, on the other hand, would make the best secret agent in the universe. Barring getting shot in the back, McCoy could con their way out of any encounter.
Unfortunately, I had no choice but to leave Uhura on the bridge. I could feel her absence like a knot in my chest.
Bones asked me, what kind of people are we in this Universe. Humans, unfortunately, are essentially the same–vicious and debauched, but recognizable. The Halkans are exponentially more passive. Vulcans in this universe are…logical. But how does a Vulcan reconcile such brutality with logic?
I feel warm attachment from “my” Spock—and he even has a bit of a temper. I see humor in Golan’s eyes. Sarek’s logic is balanced by empathy.
This Spock’s logic is implacable. Terror must be maintained or the Empire is doomed, he said. Terror within and without--a coldly logical justification for the agony booth. It is a most effective means of discipline. But logic and history also dictate that despotism and tyranny is not sustainable. Surely, Spock knew this.
And good men must exist, even here. The real question is, is Spock a good man or not? I believe him when he says he does not want to command the Enterprise. In this universe, this ship is a fool’s gold. It is not logical to desire the instrument of one’s own--
There was a woman stretched out on my bunk. She rolled her head toward me.
“I fell asleep,” she said.
My eyes searched the room for assassins. I folded my arms loosely about my waist, resting the fingertips of one hand lightly on my phaser. I took a casual but quick step towards her when she swung her legs off the bunk, and I watched carefully as she removed two glasses from the dispenser by the bed. I wanted to be close enough to strike her if I had to but not within her reach should she decide to gut me with her dagger.
“We had quite a time in the chem lab, picking up after the storm,” she said.
I glanced at her as I finished surveying the quarters. She was small and beautiful and from the softness of the muscles in her arms, this woman hadn’t worked a day in quite some time. Whatever her assignment was in the lab, I doubted that she lifted a finger.
I caught scent of her as she stood and offered me a glass. Her perfume was faint but still cloying, under lit with the odor of a woman’s body—a smell I usually enjoy. But hers was the musk of a body gone too long between washings. I’ve noticed that about this crew. They smelled bad. It was understandable, given that the act of bathing, even a sonic shower, left you more vulnerable to attack. But it wasn’t just body odor--in itself, not necessarily offensive. Klingons had a deep, heavy odor but as much as I disliked and distrusted them, theirs was the smell of bodies primed for battle.
Greed and malice had a scent too; and despite her carefully constructed façade, this woman was also rank with desperation.
“Nothing compared to your day, I gather,” she continued.
After a moment’s hesitation, I took the glass she held out to me. She took a sip from her drink. Her throat trembled as she swallowed and her lashes dropped seductively. That’s not a show for me, I thought. She’s an alcoholic.
I felt the first stirrings of pity but kept my face empty.
“I heard about Chekov,” she said.
“He gambled, I won,” I said.
“No.” She shook her head. “You got lucky. I’m surprised that you could be caught off guard that way.”
My mind raced. I already gathered that our relationship was intimate. She was the captain’s woman, unafraid to offend me—Kirk—the other Kirk, free to access to his quarters, trusted enough to serve his drinks. One misstep and she’d call Sulu or likely slit my throat herself.
I decided to use what always served me well with women—the truth.
“I was…preoccupied,” I murmured, dropping my gaze to her mouth. Adding a bit of charm to the truth was usually helpful.
She either did not recognize my overture or was unaffected by it.
“Ah,” she said. “You’re still in trouble with Starfleet Command.”
I covered my gaffe by pretending to drink from my glass. She regarded me with narrowed eyes.
“What you’ve got in mind this time is beyond me. You’re scheming, of course,” she said sweetly. “The Halkans have something you want. Or is it all some clever means to advance you to the Admiralty?”
I turned my back to hide my expression. She was finally giving me information I could use. I waited for her to go on.
“Kirk? The Cabinet, itself?”
I glanced arrogantly over my shoulder. “Further than that, if I’m successful,” I said. I was beginning to appreciate the irony of telling a lie by using the truth.
“Really?” she said, finally impressed. “Well.”
I turned to her. Her eyes sparkled with greed and lust and I understood why she was unaffected by my charm.
“You must know what you’re doing. You always do.” She draped her arms around my neck. “If I’m to be the woman,” she paused and planted a kiss on my lips. “Of a Caesar, can’t I know what you’re up to?”
This was the show of seduction, I thought. Her pander to Kirk’s power. She was smart enough to know that her Kirk would rapidly discard a woman only interested in him sexually, as his lust was fired by his gain of power. She fanned those flames alternately with flattery and ridicule; at each step up, praising and goading and belittling him, feeding him information about his enemies, fucking him until she bled and then procuring ever more tender yeomen when she was too raw to satisfy him, pushing him to the top, covering for excesses that were shocking even in this brutal Empire, happily suffering his abuse, waiting for that moment when she could watch his body slump from his throne then roll limply down the Senate steps, her blade in his back.
I saw all of this in her eyes as she stretched up to kiss me again.
Her lips were cold and I could smell on her breath the metabolized alcohol consumed earlier in the day--the real cause of her nap in my cabin. I forced myself not to recoil as she deepened the kiss. Fortunately, I was saved by the trill of the com.
It was Spock.
“I received a private communication from Starfleet Command…”
I had four hours until my execution.
The woman seemed unconcerned by this news. I propped my feet on the desk. There was a holostill of Kirk, Uhura and Spock in a small frame next to the com. It was an interesting keepsake for a man like Kirk. I had a nearly identical one—a gift from Uhura after our shore leave on Aeon V--except I kept mine in a drawer by my bunk. I had to remember to move it to my desk when we got …home.
The woman chuckled and raised her glass.
“A toast to Spock”, she said. “The only man aboard with the decency to warn you—and he’ll die for it. You’ll never find another man like him.”
I nodded. Of course. Kill the messenger. I thought about Spock’s rather elegant warning at the end of our conversation in the corridor.
“I don’t intend to kill him,” I said. “I’ll get out of his way.”
She frowned. She was suspicious for the first time.
“Should I activate the Tantalus field?” she asked.
I tried to keep my expression neutral.
“You’ll at least want to monitor him, won’t you?”
“Yes,” I said.
I followed slowly behind and watched as she unlocked a safe in the bulkhead. In my universe, Tantalus was a state of the art rehabilitation facility. Either the Tantalu used their highly advanced technological knowledge for killing or Kirk took a device meant to heal and used it his way. And Marlena—who finally revealed her name--was too eager to use it. I barely restrained myself from reaching out and snapping her neck. I realized, however that I needed her on my side.
There were three hours left until Spock’s deadline to kill me.
I didn’t have time for this.
“How does Marlena want to fit in,” I asked.
She barely restrained a flinch when I raised my hand and stroked it down her hair. She laughed softly and turned away, downing her drink and she walked into the next room.
I checked in with Scotty and discovered that I had even less time than I thought. I could hear Marlena moving and I thought I could slip away but as I headed for the door, she emerged from the next room. She swayed a bit but caught herself with a hand on the door jamb. Her pupils were fully dilated with more than alcohol. Her perfume was so thick that it stung my eyes. I breathed shallowly through my mouth to keep from sneezing.
Marlena mistook it for something else.
“Oiling my traps, darling,” she said.
It was another act and I really, really didn’t have time for it. I had to get to the transporter room. And Uhura was on the bridge, alone.
“I’ve got to go,” I said.
Marlena glared at the photo. As much as she hated Kirk, she was still jealous of Uhura.
“Ship’s business? An important task on the crew deck?” she snapped.
I could almost feel the seconds ticking by.
I was tempted to stun her with my phaser but Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned—especially a woman who knew how to use the Tantalus device.
“I simply meant that you could be anything that you want to be,” I said.
I had to be convincing. I dug deep. The exercises to control breathing and blood flow that Spock was teaching me back home paid off. I summoned an erection. I rolled my hips against her body. When she felt my hardness against her belly, a tremor went through her and her tongue stilled for an instant in my mouth.
She was disgusted. She had to be drunk for this. Drugged .
The pity I felt earlier returned. I pulled my hips back and broke the kiss. For the first time, there was a genuine emotion in her eyes.
“You’re the captain’s woman,” I said. “Until he says you’re not.”
Out in the corridor, I paused and drew in deep breaths. Her perfume clung to my clothes. I peered behind me and then up ahead. I headed for the transporter room.
End Chapter 3