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He was still considering the other Captain Kirk’s words.

That other Kirk, the one who had given Spock a glimpse of what it might have been like to live in a world where there the Empire had never risen. He had urged Spock to consider that in every revolution, there must be one man with a vision.

Spock did indeed have a vision. However, it would not be a pleasant one if he moved too fast. He had always had a suspicion that Captain Pike had not been as supportive of the Empire’s aims as one would have expected of one of the Fleet’s senior captains. It had been a blow when Kirk had assassinated Pike in order to seize control of the Enterprise.

Kirk had killed the first officer as well - Number One had gone down fighting like one of the mythical Furies to avenge Pike. It had been she who had given Sulu the nasty scar that marred his face.

It had been a pity that she had killed, Spock reflected. Between the two of them, they could have made a difference. Kirk had made Spock the first officer because he knew that Spock was a valuable asset, as well as his lack of certain ambitions. Spock was sure that his father and his family were being taken into account when Kirk made his plans.

So he bided his time. He worked to gather support among the crew, by effecting certain transfers and offering certain benefits, and using every method he could think of to ensure that any blood staining the floor of the bridge would not be green. He had certain valuable partisans now, including Lieutenant Uhura, but he did not feel that he was ready to make a move.

However, his hand was being forced. The Enterprise had been given the task of testing a weapon that would not only prolong the existence of the Empire, but might destroy that other universe, and that other Captain Kirk.

He would have to move, and soon.

*** ***

“Six ships have vanished in this region in the last three months,” Commander Spock said as he brought up the map on the briefing room screen. “Two managed to get off brief distress calls, but neither ship’s crew had any real idea what was happening to them. No trace of any of the ships, or their personnel, have been discovered.”

“The most recent ship was a civilian liner, but the passenger complement included five Starfleet officers who were on leave,” Captain Kirk explained. “As the region is also relatively close to Romulan space, Starfleet is sending us to check it out.”

“That’ll make the Romulans happy,” Dr. McCoy commented. “It will make collecting the prices on our heads easier.”

“There is one interesting piece of information,” Spock said, his tone mildly repressive. “The ion storm activity in the area appears to be much higher than normal. In fact, it appears to be remarkably similar to readings in the Halkan system during our last visit.”

The briefing room was silent for a moment. None of them were likely to forget when four of the Enterprise officers had been transported onto an Enterprise in a dark parallel universe, one ruled by a savage, amoral version of the Federation. They had made it back safely, but only with the cooperation of that universe’s Spock, a man who had seemed less horrible than the rest.

“Do you think it’s possible they could somehow be causing these disappearances?” Kirk asked.

“Anything is possible, Captain,” Spock replied. “We have no real estimate of their scientific capability.”

*** ***

A quiet week on patrol followed, shadowing a decoy vessel that proclaimed itself an innocent civilian liner. It was a bit nerve-wracking, as the Enterprise had to remain farther away than Kirk really liked to be able to react. But they didn’t know if their presence would prevent the unknown forces from making their move.

It was possible, Kirk supposed, that there was a natural cause behind these disappearances. Space was full of as-yet unexplained phenomena – the Enterprise had encountered enough of them. As Spock had said, anything was possible.

But Kirk didn’t buy it. That was why he had put several of his officers on board the decoy, including Spock, Uhura and one of Scotty’s most promising junior engineers.

*** ***

The ion storm generator had done its work, allowing the ISS Enterprise to open up a portal into that other universe, a universe where no one expected to be ravaged by a starship. The Empire’s scientists had devised a way to keep the portal stable long enough to get another ship through to their universe, where the people and materials could be plundered at leisure. Few of the ships they had encountered had shields, so beaming aboard presented little trouble. Only the last ship they had taken had presented any real problem.

Spock had his own concerns about the science behind the weapon – it was a weapon, without a doubt – but Kirk was hardly a man to be concerned about scientific matters that did not threaten him.

Only this time Kirk had decreed that Spock would be part of the boarding party. It made Spock wonder if perhaps the captain had some ulterior motive, if this was the time he would feel a knife in his back. If so, he judged his captain had made his final mistake. The crew members who made up the boarding party were his loyalists, with two exceptions.

*** ***

“Everything is all quiet, Mr. Spock,” Uhura said as he came onto the ship’s small bridge. It had been an uneventful few days on board the decoy. He was in the midst of looking over reports when the proximity alert went off.

The readings indicated a large ship, large enough to be a starship. Spock had expected a smaller craft. Bringing an entire starship into another universe seemed like an illogical risk.

He could hear Uhura’s voice alerting the Enterprise as he studied the scanner. The readings indicated a ship the same general size of the Enterprise, but with much heavier armament.

“They are demanding our immediate surrender,” Uhura said calmly. She had not quite expected to hear her own cool tones coming from the other ship.

“We should comply with their order, I think,” Spock replied. “It is the only way we will discover the truth of the situation.”

She transmitted the reply, and wondered if her counterpart was as surprised as she was to hear her own voice.

Despite his suspicions, Spock was still slightly taken aback to see a bearded version of himself materialize on the bridge.

*** ***

He realized as soon as he saw the other Spock that they had beamed into a trap. This other universe had finally noticed that there was a problem in the area. He was also certain that the Enterprise that belonged to this universe was he said not far away.

“Lieutenant Uhura,” he said gravely, “I did not anticipate seeing you here.”

“I could say the same,” she replied.

“So your crew is behind the disappearances,” Spock said calmly.

“Our Enterprise is testing a scientific device, yes.”

“It may interest you to know that I have prepared some information on the effects of your device on the local space, as well as my speculations as to the impact it is having on your space.”

The bearded Spock raised an eyebrow. “Fascinating. I admit I have been unable to study the device as much as I would like.”

“Perhaps this will be of use, then.” He extended the disc to his counterpart.

There was a sudden movement in the back of the boarding party, and the two USS Enterprise crewmembers watched in shock as two of them fell to the floor. The bearded Spock hardly seemed to notice.

“I anticipate our Enterprise will be here in less than fifteen minutes,” Spock continued. “It would be to your advantage if you were not here when they arrive.”

His bearded double nodded. “It may interest you to know that I believe the portal device will suffer irreparable damage soon after our return to our ship.”

“That would be a positive development,” Spock replied. "Is there any chance of retrieving the lost personnel from the other ships?"

The bearded Spock shook his head. "I fear they are no longer capable of going anywhere."

There was a moment of silence as the import of his words sunk in. Uhura shivered, not wanting to think about what must have happened to them.

“Please give your captain a message for me. Tell him, the revolution has its man.”

Spock raised an eyebrow. “I will deliver your message.” Raising his hand in the Vulcan salute, he continued, “Live long and prosper.”

The bearded Spock mirrored the gesture. “I will endeavor to do both.”

Spock and Uhura watched as the boarding party called for transport, and vanished in the shimmer of transporter beams.

“I hope he does manage to do both,” she said after a long moment. “Although I don’t suppose we will ever know.”

“I imagine not, Lieutenant.” It was a pity they could not have talked longer, Spock thought. It would have been a fascinating conversation.