Ten years after he slipped through a crack in the cosmos to a place both heartbreakingly familiar and refreshingly strange, Spock dies. He’s young for a Vulcan when his heart stops beating; Spock’s father outlived him by more than three decades, but his father was never exposed to the microbes indigenous to Miruzian Four. The exploratory expedition to the potential colony, led by Spock, didn’t discover the danger until Spock and two other Vulcan scientists were already infected, their pulmonary and circulatory systems irreversibly damaged. Spock had ten productive years in which to prepare for his death, years for which he is grateful, and when his life finally ends, Spock is ready.
Spock closes his eyes, takes his last breath, and then opens them again to find that he is sitting at the science station of the bridge of the U.S.S. Enterprise, his Enterprise. “Fascinating,” he says. He runs his hand along the orange edging of the console, the polymers cool to the touch, and he is nearly overcome with a wave of affection for the ship he thought never to see again. The incarnation of the Enterprise that belongs to this reality is beautiful, but Spock has always been a guest on her decks; here, he is home.
“Hello,” says a female voice from behind him. Spock swivels in his chair to find what appears to be a human woman in her early twenties occupying the Captain’s seat. “You don’t know me,” she says. “I’m not from around here, not any more than you are. My name is Amanda, and I think you met my dad once. His name was Trelane.”
Spock raises an eyebrow. “The Enterprise encountered a being named Trelane on a world called Gothos. The encounter was not a pleasant one.”
“I know,” Amanda says, blushing. “He was in a rebellious phase. He regretted his behavior afterwards, or so Q tells me. I never got the chance to meet him. Apparently when the Continuum blasts you out of existence, they really blast you out of existence. All existences.” She twists her hands together in her lap and sighs.
“Where are we?” Spock says. “Why am I here?”
“Oh, I’m going about this all the wrong way.” Amanda slides out of the Captain’s chair and walks over to Spock. “We’re everywhere and nowhere, and we’re here because my father was sorry he terrorized your crew and because Q likes to meddle. Goodbye, Mr. Spock,” she says. “I think you’ll find the Squire of Gothos redeems himself.” Amanda smiles at him and claps her hands, and in her place—close enough to touch, close enough that Spock can feel the heat of his body—is Jim. Not the Jim Kirk of this reality, who is so painfully young and so brilliant that Spock could cut himself on those edges. No, this is Spock’s Jim—the Jim who bent the will of the universe to resurrect his dearest friend, the Jim who wears glasses and whose hair curls at his temples. The Jim with wrinkles in the corners of his eyes.
“Spock,” Jim says, reaching out with both hands and resting them on Spock’s shoulders. “We’ve been waiting for you.”
And then Spock sees them, all his dear comrades at their stations—Commander Scott, Captain Chekov, Captain Sulu and Commander Uhura—and Dr. McCoy leaning against the back of Jim’s chair. They are all as he remembers them best, not in the brashness of their youth but in the grace and strength of their maturity. He has never seen a more welcome sight.
For a moment Spock cannot speak, and when he finally does, his voice trembles with emotion he does not wish to suppress or deny. “What are our orders, Captain?”
Jim says, “I thought you’d never ask,” and grins. “Lay in a course, Mr. Sulu.”
Sulu turns in his seat. “Heading, Captain?”
Jim considers the field of stars on the view screen. “Let’s take the one less travelled by.”
Sulu says, “Course laid in, sir,” and the Enterprise jumps to warp and whatever comes next.