As the room came back into focus, I found my balance and composed myself, breathing calmly, my eyes shutting out the light briefly, then darting around to take stock.
So many timelines.
Even "mirror" dimensions for all of them.
I am in the Prime again? Everything seems to suggest that I am, but perhaps a few readings are in order. Ship chronometer, check. Sensors, check. Crew compliment, check. Duty officers? Bridge officers? Department Chiefs? First, Second, Third Officers? All check out.
Ship name? Well, no, that changes too often. Real name, code name, code name, real name, translation into thlIngan, translation into Aenglish, translation into Kolaric. Temptress, Seduction, Seductress, Talon, Honor Blade, Tabadi, -- Empire, Republic, Federation, Syndicate ...
Even my own name, for that matter. One day D'ian, another G'iana, another Di'on, or Gessatra, or G'Dessa, or Gessa, Charvon, Melani, Liviana, Gi'an, G'Pressa, Charvanek, Thea, t'Prell, T'Prell, ir'Virinat, the Succuba -- Tabadi, Agent, Operative, Spy, Saboteur, Asset, Medic, Doctor, Nurse, Ambassador, Entertainer, Researcher, Scientist, Engineer, Advisor, Governor, Adjutant, Colonist, Refugee, Prisoner, Diplomat, Bartender, Counselor, Commander, Technician, Captain, Ael'Riov, General, Vice Admiral, Lieutenant General, galae'Enriov, Praetor, Princess, Senator, Empress -- it all depends on the context of my mission.
At least one thing is certain. I have the Memenda, the Honor Blade, the Sword of the Raptor Star, the Talon, the Lost Sword of S'harien, the Third Sword of S'task, whatever name one might give, the name failed to convey the awesome and terrible authority and responsibility which came as its companion. The price of the prize. Honor and Passion joined. It sits here in my ready room. I found it on Dewa-III, now ch'Mol'Rihan. I retain custody of the Sword of the Raptor Star. This custodianship is an honor, and my greatest passion.
The prize I sought was never the Enterprise. No, I had my own vessels. The Romulan Star Empire had superior vessels even then. The Enterprise had to be scanned, however.
Hmm, yes. Things to be learned from the vessel while it remains in our custody, after all. From behind a temporal cloak, this time. The Azure Nebula is filled with temporal anomalies, after all. We shall appear as a T'Liss in place of the D7 off the starboard side of the Enterprise.
Enterprise. Prize, Price. I always arch a brow. This curiosity of the Federation Standard Aenglish language had not eluded me before, and it will not elude me now. But who was the trap, who the bait, who the trapper, who the trapped? More to the point, who was the Prize, and what was the Price?
Spahkh, the First Officer, Chief Science Officer, whom they called "Spock."
He was my intended Prize.
Kirk, however, had other things in mind.
Kirk, the Captain of the Enterprise, sought the new cloaking device installed on my flagship, and all the ships in my fleet.
While I sought Spahkh's heart, Kirk plotted to obtain the cloaking device, leaving Spock as a decoy and distraction.
I had special Vulcan dishes prepared for Spahkh. I served him Kali-fal. I offered him a place with me in the Tal'Diann. I whispered a secret in his ear. I changed into more comfortable attire. We began to make love.
There was an interruption.
I slapped him.
He appealed by demanding the right to the rite of statement. I granted this.
He began defending himself to me.
Not to the Empire.
He corrected me.
In the midst of this, his ship managed to lock on to him and beam him aboard, but I leapt into the transport beam with my arms around Spahkh.
So is this.
When it was all over, and I was alone again with Spahkh, he stated that obtaining the cloaking device was his only motivation when he came aboard the Memenda. The nuance in his vocalization, however, left room for something unsaid. He had taught me already that omission of information did not constitute lying, to a Vulcan. I had to be careful with my choice of words with this one, because other things were also excepted in the Vulcan sense of the idea. His goal having been obtained, that is all he came away from the Talon with, I accused. No, he countered me. He said that I underestimated myself.
A challenge, and a surrender.
Well, Spahkh. It will remain our secret, my prize, your heart, your price, my name -- and my heart.
He escorted me to my quarters aboard the Enterprise.
Somewhere, somewhen, I am certain he can sense the smile in my eyes ... and a chill in his heart ... and a thrill in his soul.
And I sit calmly watching, scanning, observing the timeline for any further deviations. There have been too many already with these vessels and their crews, and here I am again, altering the timeline further by observing from yet another perspective.
But Spahkh's heart will remain my prize. Not Nyota's. Not Christine's. Not T'Pring's. Not Saavik's. Not in this timeline. This is my Prime Timeline, and I'll guard it. My prize, my price.
[Author's note: In case the reader is wondering exactly what this story is, check my commentary in this post:
Star Trek: The Original Series -- Digitally Remastered ]