TITLE: Return to Hellguard
SERIES: T O S
CHAR CODES: S/Saa, K, Hasmonak
SYNOPSIS: Rock Monster revisited. Kerry loves Hasmonak so this is for her.
Saavik beamed down into a barren waste, surrounded by rock and sparse vegetation, she waited. Before her the air shimmered almost imperceptibly, causing her to feel for her balance. Coiling tightly she prepared for something, anything. The Simmering solidified into a creature she had never seen. It seemed to be a living rock, and Saavik suppressed the thought that it was built like a snowman, stacked rock upon rock. The top of the creature pulsated with life.
"I am here. Where is he?" she demanded.
"Patience, child. We have waited many years for this encounter and considered many things. We strive to understand what eluded us before."
"Before?" she asked.
"Your kind has been here before. To you perhaps it was long ago, but to me mere seconds. After they left, the questions began. We knew we had to return you here."
"I have never…"
"No, you have never been to this place, but he was here before." Obviously some sort of holographic projection, the rock wall behind the creature fell away, revealing her purpose for being here. Spock was surrounded by the Vanuk- klashausu, the Vulcan ceremonial guard. Bred as warriors on a planet of peace, the guard enforced the rights and traditions of the Vulcan culture, ensuring that any who strayed from ceremony paid deeply. They were garbed traditionally just as they had been at Saavik and Spock's Koon-ut-kalifee, their marriage or challenge. The black masks covering their noses and running from brow to chin did little to hide their purpose.
"Saavikam," Spock yelled. "Clear your thoughts. Leave now!"
Before he could say anything else, the Vanuk-klashausu reacted; one by twisting Spock's arms violently behind him, and the second guard bringing his lirpa up dangerously close to Spock's uzh-khaf-mev t'talu, the main artery carrying blood to his brain. Any movement on Spock's part would cause his own death as the razor sharp lirpa dealt a bloodletting slash.
Unable to speak, Spock sought to reach her mind through the marital bond they shared. "Leave, Saavik. Now!"
Her eyes met his as did her mind. "I will not leave you here. I will not betray you as the Vanuk-klashausu have," she thought to him.
"You brought them here, Saavik. You do not understand."
Saavik's brow rose. She had brought them here? She had done no such thing. Spock had disappeared 4.67 standard days ago. All evidence had pointed to a kidnapping. A ransom note had brought her to Excalbia.
"I understand," stated the rock creature. "I was unaware of this ability of your kind. His thoughts will cloud my knowledge seeking." The rock creature waved his hand, and the Vanuk-klahausu responded. The one holding Spock's arms swiftly pulled Spock's hair, turning his head to the side as the second wheeled his lirpa around and delivered the Ralash- famik, a blow designed to silence those who disturbed the traditional flow of ceremony. Spock sank unconscious to his knees as the Vanuk-Klahausu let him fall into the dirt.
Saavik, still balanced to strike, thrust toward Spock, not knowing how she would evade the guards to reach him, but when she arrived the rock wall was again in place, separating them. Saavik turned on the creature.
Her eyes burning with rage, she deeply exhaled, allowing peace to flow into her with her next breath. Rational again, she used a cold flat steel tone.
"Why have you done this?" she demanded.
"I have dealt with your kind before. I knew you would not participate without grounds."
"In what am I to participate?"
The rock creature's head turned, and Saavik followed his gaze.
Her gut sank. Unbidden she took a step backward, into someone. She turned quickly crouching into a stance only slightly less than feral. She felt her lips curl instinctively revealing her teeth.
The kind hand of a man reached down, and offered to help her up. Saavik shook her head slightly with the insanity of it all.
"It's all right, Saavik," he smiled. "We'll get him back. We always do."
Refusing the hand, Saavik rose and turned to confront the rock creature again, only to find him gone, and her enemies bearing down upon them.
"However, right now I do have a suggestion," Jim Kirk said.
Saavik looked at him questioningly. He seemed to recognize the expression. He gestured with his hands as he urged her.
"Run, Saavik! Run!"
At that he turned and dodged behind a large boulder as Romulan disruptor fire rang overhead. Saavik did not hesitate to join him, for what followed them was something that even years of Vulcan training had not prepared her for.
Hellguard had returned.
Kirk motioned to her to follow him as he wound his way through a maze of rocks. Quickly Saavik surmised his immediate plan and she followed. Kirk was making his way to a more defensible position through the maze of boulders. Saavik moved soundlessly behind him, her movements tempered by years of living half-feral on the abandoned Romulan colony world, Hellguard. Kirk on the other hand crashed fearlessly ahead, and then turned toward her and motioned silence. Drawing his old style type 1 phaser, he aimed at a ledge above part of the maze and fired. The ensuing avalanche, if it hadn't destroyed their pursuers outright, would allow them time to reach a better position.
They collapsed to the ground together, both exhausted. Saavik simply stared at the man across from her as she formulated possibilities.
"Well?" Kirk asked.
"I do not understand."
"Where are the questions? The Saavik I know is full of them."
"I have not seen James Kirk for more than forty years, and the James Kirk I knew is dead. You can not logically be he, so I would only ask, who are you?"
Jim Kirk smiled and laughed under his breath. "Yep, that's the Saavik I knew, and I am quite sure that I am me. But I gotta admit, I don't know why I'm here, except that I am certain that Spock needs us both. As certain as I am that someone is missing."
"Not anymore," a heavily accented voice stated.
Saavik was on her feet instantly, as an older man rounded the boulder behind them.
He was grizzled and war worn, with a patched eye and a missing arm, but his good hand held a more than formidable weapon. In his belt, his honor blade gleamed. He smiled at Saavik and joined Jim Kirk on the ground.
"How many of them?" he asked Jim.
Saavik stared. This was Hasmonak, the first to teach her the true meaning of Romulan honor. At the risk of his own life and family, he had allowed her, even helped her to escape the empire, so convinced was he that there was some honor left there to save. Because of his actions, she had been able to warn the Klingons and the Federation of the coming misguided Romulan offensive against the Klingon civilian colony Narendra III.
She was aware that he had been rewarded by the then newly installed praetor, but she had never thought to see him again.
"There's three," answered Kirk. "I only recognize two of them. The one with the long hair is T'Pring, and she is the cold heart of Vulcan logic. She damn near murdered me and Spock to get what she wanted. The woman with the shorter hair is Valeris, her crimes are just as personal, but on a grander scale. Her betrayal of Spock and hate of the Klingons almost caused interstellar war."
"And T'Pring resides on Vulcan and could not possibly be involved in Spock's kidnapping nor would she have any logical reason to do so. Likewise, Valeris is in Federation custody. And yet…" Saavik considered the men before her and those that had pursued them.
"Each of those that oppose us, are individuals that I believe do not understand the meaning of mnei'sahe. I resort to the Romulan word for honor; an honor deep enough that bases one's life it, as Vulcans base their lives on logic and duty."
"Each of you is an image of an individual who exemplifies honor to me. The Jim Kirk I knew gave his own son to save his friend, and risked everything to ensure that his own prejudices not interfere with the path of peace. And Hasmonak, taught me of mnei'sahe before I understood it completely. Were I to choose my brothers-in-arms when something so precious to me is at stake, they would be those men."
"We are those men," said Kirk. Responding to Saavik's raised eyebrow he added, "For all intents and purposes."
Saavik shook her head. "The creature said he was gathering knowledge that had eluded him, but what does he seek?"
"Perhaps what you sought, when you met me, young eaglet," suggested Hasmonak
Kirk glanced nervously from their hiding place. "Look, I'm not sure about the two of you, but I'm not going to sit here while they have Spock, and I'm not going to roll over and die. It's obvious why we're here."
Neither of the other responded to Kirk's statement so he continued, "We're supposed to win. Win and we get Spock back."
"And if we lose?" asked Saavik.
Jim Kirk smiled at her in that same rye way he had so long ago.
"I don't like to lose," he said.
"She is mine," said the figure.
Difficult as it was, Valeris and T'Pring turned to look upon him. His face was withdrawn into the hood of his black cloak, and his voice spat hatred as he made the statement.
T'Pring composed herself and confronted him. "Logically, the one of us who is most able to defeat her should challenge her."
Valeris balked at that. "However illogical it may be," she stated sarcastically, "the one who has the most to gain from her defeat should challenge her."
"What reason have you here? What could she possibly have done to summon you thus?", the voice hissed.
"Summon us?" questioned T'Pring. "It is true that I have no knowledge of how I arrived at this place, but it was made very clear to me by the creature that were we to defeat her, I should be free of them both; he who gave me as chattel and she who has defeated my every attempt to destroy him within the Vulcan's social confines. As I can not reconcile how the situation in which we find ourselves could be reality, I must reason that the healers are again trying to convince me of the logical errors of my vengeance. As always, I will not bend to their opinion of me."
"Not real? There are stranger things in the universe, T'Pring. I was promised my freedom should I defeat her and I do not intend my current incarceration to last a minute more than I may affect it. I will kill her, for I have been assured that Spock, who raped me in the name of justice, shall then die as well."
"Worthy, worthy. Both of you, though you have not swayed me. The rewards offered to you are enviable, however mine is more to the point."
"And that is?" questioned T'Pring, though she did not invite the evil his voice bespoke.
"My reward was to be her; that I might kill her slowly for blinding me and leaving me alone, and then coming back only to kill me, forcing me to take action myself."
"You are dead?" T'Pring asked.
"Was. But now I have the opportunity that my dying breath begged for… to rip out the heart of that one and be able to see her writhe and hear her scream."
Valeris instantly recognized the vehemence in his determined voice, and conceded.
"You may have her then." And she quickly thwarted T'Pring's protest.
"What matters it how as long as it is done? You believe this is some healer's trick. I am not illusion however. I am convinced that I am flesh and bone and that this alien who has promised me freedom can deliver it."
"You are in the company of one who claims to be dead," T'Pring stated bluntly, motioning slightly to their cloaked partner.
"As I have said already… stranger things."
"I will not accept that this is in fact reality, however I will concede the challenge. He shall have her," T'Pring declared as if offering a great honor.
"Yes. Yes. I shall have her, but let us remove the hindrances first."
"The human is mine. This I demand. He ordered the public rape of my mind to disclose information of my so called treachery. His death I desire second only to his friend's."
"Agreed.", the cloaked one granted Valeris. "And you? Will you contribute at all?"
T"Pring wore a stoic mask. "I have no quarrel with the old man. His death means nothing to me."
"So, you claim that you have never used another to achieve your means. Never invited another's death?"
T'Pring peered deeply into his hooded face. How could it be that he knew her so well?
"You will take his life to achieve your ends, I have no doubt, when the battle is drawn."
T'pring did not answer, but suppressed a shudder at the coldness of his voice.
"Who is he, Saavik? Who is the last one?" Kirk asked.
Hasmonak moved in closer to her, daring to place his hand on her shoulder. "We all have shadows, shades that follow us through our lives. It helps to share them."
"Who is he?" she echoed. "He is mine."
Kirk allowed her a moment before his command instincts rejected her statement. "No, Saavik. I don't know who that, that thing is, but he stands between us and Spock. We all have one goal here. We will defeat them together."
Saavik glared at him as she let his statement sink in and his calm reasoning flood over her.
"It was he who caused to deaths of the Vulcans on Hellguard. He raped and tortured them and then left their children there on the surface to starve or kill each other, while below he waited, a food synthesizer at hand, for the call to return to his evil experimentation. He used the Vulcans as lab animals to develop a weapon that could destroy complete worlds. He killed himself rather than divulge his accomplices. Even now there are those complicit who walk free… even now."
Jim Kirk remembered her then as that young cadet who had accompanied her teacher to her birth planet in search of a way to disarm a Romulan weapon that threatened to destroy Earth. Spock and the Enterprise had been successful with Saavik's help. Kirk had not known how deeply it had affected her.
To Kirk Saavik was at times more Vulcan than Spock, but this Saavik before him was older and wiser than the girl he had known and obviously developments had taken place in the relationship between her and Spock as well.
"Do not concern yourself, Captain. I am not diverted from our goal, nor could I ever be."
"Great," he said. "Let's get to work."
"I don't understand it," said Kirk. "She could have taken him easily."
"Hasmonak?" asked Saavik.
"No, Spock…before in the…"
"In the challenge," finished Saavik, broaching the taboo subject. Spock had not withheld his past from her. T'Pring had been his betrothed and she had challenged rather than marry him. The Pon Farr or mating fires were not a subject that Vulcans discussed, but Kirk had been there.
"She was good, but predictable," offered Hasmonak as he polished his blade. Claw marks on his face added to his worn complexion. "That's why she died. She was too logical."
Saavik withheld a shudder brought on by his matter of fact statement. A death, any death, weighed upon her. Though she tried to remind herself that whatever was happening it was logically just an illusion that disturbed her. Whatever this being was, he controlled her environment completely. Her only assurance came from her mind and her marital bond with Spock. This was the only truth of which she could be certain. He was alive, injured, and unconscious, but his presence was there and she must proceed toward it in order to end this senseless violence.
"One down," added Kirk. "But the other two are going to be more difficult. They still have a disruptor."
"And we have your phaser, and this," added Hasmonak hefting an ages old blaster.
"They are evil," said Saavik, "without moral reservation and bent upon our destruction. Do not underestimate what a person like that can do, Hasmonak. I have seen it too often." Each of them nodded softly, all of their different ghosts stirring within.
"Well, I'm not going to sit here any longer." Kirk rose and stretched, pulling at his uniform, now stained green with T'Pring's Vulcan blood, the sun glinting off his still bright insignia.
"Let us move against them," urged Valeris. "They will never take the offensive. I know Kirk, He will wait for us to move or make a mistake and then he will force his advantage. Saavik was not bred to peace, but Spock has had his influence. As a Vulcan, she will not attack first, but will seek to find another way to resolve this. I do not know the other one, but he is formidable." Valeris blocked the unbidden image of T'Pring's death in her mind; of how she had reached for Valeris in the way to impart her Katra, her eternal living essence, and of how quickly Valeris had moved away, denying her. At T'Pring's last breath, the one with her had laughed darkly, at Valeris reaction.
"I know where they are," her companion stated and he pointed his bony finger at a reflection in the rocks above. Valeris stared at the specter before her, a barely suppressed chill running up her spine.
"There are still three of them. We will need a plan."
"They are weak. They care for each other." He spat the word "care" out distastefully.
Valeris nodded thoughtfully, "If Saavik is made to believe that this situation can be resolved without bloodshed she endeavor to pursue that solution."
"She knows what I am."
Valeris schemed. "I will go to her under pretense of peace. If she knows you then she may believe that I have chosen not to side with you."
"She was to be mine."
Valeris lay broken in the dirt, her head dripping blood from a cut on the back of her scalp. The three approached cautiously, and Saavik knelt to turn Valeris body around. At the first touch, Saavik could tell that something was wrong. Valeris moaned and squinted at Saavik's silhouette in the bright sun.
"Do not," Valeris begged weakly.
"Explain," demanded Saavik.
"Do not kill me," begged Valeris again.
"You are unarmed and injured. We found you here in the dirt."
Valeris struggled to a sitting position and reached for the back of her head. Feeling her blood matted hair; she brought her hand to the front, and stared incredulously.
"He would not let me go to her," Valeris said. "I wanted to but he held me back. T'Pring died and all that she was is gone."
Valeris grieved well. "She was Vulcan. It was her right. She asked me to take her Katra and he denied her. He has no idea of who I am; who we are. We are Vulcans. He is…Romulan."
Saavik glanced thoughtfully at Hasmonak. "No," she said "He is merely evil."
"She's lying. That one was dead before she hit the ground," Hasmonak claimed.
"She was not. You underestimate us, Romulan. T'Pring died in front of me, begging me to retain her essence even as he held me back." Valeris rolled her eyes to Saavik's. "I could stay with him no longer. He did this!" she said, shaking her blooded hand.
"We should leave this place," Valeris insisted, "He will not be far from here."
Though Saavik still did not trust Valeris, she knew that this statement was correct. If this was indeed a premeditated trap, Hellguard's tormentor would be close by and if not, he might still have suspected that if Valeris was found, Saavik and her companions would endeavor to help her.
Saavik tried to help Valeris to her feet, but Valeris clung limply to her.
"Tired," moaned Valeris groggily, "so hot."
Kirk motioned to the caves off to their left and glancing warily about, put Valeris' arm around his shoulders and half dragged her in that direction. She did little to help. None but Saavik sensed the presence that followed.
Kirk laid Valeris is the dirt of the cave and turned to see Saavik crouched in the entrance. Kirk moved to her side. "He's out there isn't he?"
"I sense him. Hasmonak is circling."
Kirk looked back into the cave. "She's very weak, Saavik."
A flash of black appeared in the rocks before them. Saavik motioned for silence as she waited for Hasmonak to flush his prey into her path. An explosion rang out, flinging rock and debris in the direction of the cave. Saavik struggled to see through the dust, using her acute sense of hearing to detect any hint of the outcome of what was obviously a disruptor blast.
It was then that Kirk spun around, but he was too late. Valeris was upon him, and he screamed silently as she forced her mind into his, touching the Katra points of his face. Instantly he saw that this had been her plan all along.
Valeris was determined. She blocked his will within his mind, rendering him physically unable to resist, leaving his mind as his only weapon. She forced her memories upon him.
He felt his hands restrained as Spock reached for his face. He felt Valeris' thoughts as Spock shifted through all that she was. She resisted and was overcome by Spock's urgency. She placed thoughts in his way. She showed him the deaths of her parents and the Klingon who stood above them, his hands red with their blood, his teeth gleaming. She sensed him lay aside desire to address the illogic of her desire for vengeance, as he rifled through her thoughts. He had found the information that he sought and she summoned all her will to prevent him from reaching it. The result was physical pain bordering on torture. They stood together mind to mind, will to will until unable to withstand the pain, she failed for the slightest moment. Spock withdrew instantly, and she knew it was done.
Kirk desired to fight back, but had he never truly realized what he had done? He had asked Spock to violate her mind, but at the same time, it had been necessary to know who her conspirators were in order to preserve galactic peace. Hadn't Spock always insisted that the good of the many outweighed the good of the few?
At that thought, Valeris raged within him, and knowing that his death would kill them both, she struck her blow.
Saavik saw Kirk slump to the ground as the body of Valeris fell upon him, but she could do nothing as she faced her own adversary. In one hand, he held the honor blade of Hasmonak, still dripping with his blood, in the other he held a disruptor.
"So, it is the two of us. You cannot hope to defeat me, turn the blade upon yourself and claim the only honor you will ever know."
"There is only one honor I desire," he spat, "and that is to watch you die slowly, knowing that your death means the death of your bondmate as well."
"You are an illusion."
"Our host has promised me life for victory."
"I fight for the life of others, and not just he that means so much to me, I fight for all of those that you killed, without mercy, and all of those that you would have killed, had I not defeated you before. You cannot be allowed to live, when you are capable of so many dishonors."
Saavik lunged, staying low and on her adversary's blind side. Unable to reach Kirk's weapon, she was empty-handed, Hasmonak's blaster had gone with him. She stumbled as she made contact with empty space. Recovering quickly, she turned, but her opponent was gone and in his place was the creature of rock.
"Interesting," he intoned, "there is much to discuss." He waved his appendage and Spock lay at her feet.
Never taking her eyes from the creature, Saavik knelt to touch Spock. "Why have you done this? What knowledge do you seek?"
Spock answered from were he lay. "He seeks to understand the nature of honor. I have been here before, Saavik. During that encounter, he witnessed Surak give his life for the possibility of peace, and he witnessed another great man give his life to save Surak. In the end, he concluded that we had been victorious in his games because good was stronger than evil, but now he wishes to explore the nature of that beneficence. Honor is an important element of good."
Spock rose slowly to his feet. "You lured me here unnecessarily. Had you merely posed your questions openly, I would have offered you my knowledge. There was no need to bring her here."
"We sensed her in your thoughts. We used her to achieve our desires. You view her as one who has learned and practiced honor. We now understand that you possess the ability to share your thoughts with us," the creature replied, "in the way you shared your thoughts with her."
"Not exactly, but in a similar fashion I can allow you access to the knowledge that you seek. I only ask that you never bring another here against their will."
"You seek to protect others. This is a form of honor. We understand."