Star Trek #11: Yesterdays Son | Chapter 13 of 29 - Part: 1 of 3

Author: A.C. Crispin | Submitted by: Maria Garcia | 2556 Views | Add a Review

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Chapter V


Kirk awakened in the morning to find Spock gone. He hastily pulled on his therm-suit and left the Doctor sleeping peacefully. As he opened the flap of the tent, he saw his First Officer standing a few meters away, and joined him as he stood surveying the landscape.

The storm had gone, and the air was cold and clear. Beta Niobe was rising, swollen and blood-colored, in a pale lavender sky that shaded to deep purple the undersides of the remaining storm clouds. They'd camped in a sheltered hollow at the base of a jagged cliff that rose on the right until it blocked the sky. Before them was a large, U-shaped valley, flanked by the cliffs. Snow lay in patches on top of short, mossy ground cover, pale aqua in color. The valley was dotted with many small, narrow lakes, the wind riffling their sapphire water. Far in the distance, at the end of his vision, Kirk could make out a herd of animals. He was aware that McCoy had joined him, and turned around at the sound of the Doctor's startled gasp.

Behind and to their left, a frozen tidal wave loomed. From where Kirk stood it might have been a quarter of a kilometer away, a wall of turquoise ice studded with boulders. The glacier was at least three hundred meters high, and Kirk craned his neck trying to see where it ended.

"Damn," McCoy commented, inadequately. "You ever see one of these things before, Jim?"

"I've skied on them, in Colorado, but I never saw one this big in the Rockies. I wonder how big it is, how far it goes?"

Spock looked up from his tricorder. "The glacier is only a part of a larger ice sheet that extends northward as far as my tricorder range."

"I guess the wind blows down off the ice sheet—how cold is it?" Kirk slipped his hand out of his glove, tested the air.

"The present temperature is — 10° Celsius, but the wind chill makes it feel colder than that. The temperature during the middle of the day will probably rise to above freezing," Spock replied.

"Actually, it's not as cold as I thought an ice age would be," McCoy commented. "Nothing like the last time we were here."

"We are fortunate that we've arrived during the late spring, instead of winter this time, Doctor," Spock said.

"This is spring?" McCoy was taken aback.

"I think Dante wrote about this place," mused Kirk. "Just knowing that damned sun is going to blow gives me the shivers. See the typical pattern of the corona? Looks like it could go any minute."

"We know that Beta Niobe will not nova for 5,000 years, Captain. It is illogical to waste time speculating on impossibilities. I suggest we begin searching, keeping in touch by communicator." Spock betrayed impatience, as he scanned the area again with his tricorder.

"Any life-form readings, Spock?" McCoy wanted to know.

"Several, Doctor, but I believe they belong to some of the higher animals. However, my reception is limited by the mountain ranges."

"We must be pretty far above sea level," Kirk said. "The air feels thin."

"You are correct, Captain. We are approximately 2000 meters above sea level, and this atmosphere is thinner than Earth normal. The gravity is 1.43 times that of Earth's. You and Doctor McCoy should be careful until you become acclimated."

"Got any tri-ox in your kit, Bones?" Kirk asked.

McCoy smiled. "You mean you trust me to give you another shot of that stuff?"

Spock stirred impatiently. "I suggest we set out. Remember to keep your face shields on."

"Why? Doesn't seem that cold, except for the wind." Kirk said.

The Vulcan gestured with the tricorder. "My readings indicate that this area, typical of the tundra ecology, is teeming with insect life, similar to Earth mosquitoes. Let's keep to the edge of the valley—remember that the cave was located along a ridge of some kind. It could be set in one of these cliffs. Also look for mineral deposits that could indicate the presence of hot springs. The cave was heated by one."

"Spock, don't you remember anything about the area from when you were here before? Landmarks? We could take weeks, just searching to decide if the Guardian put us down in the right place, or time." Kirk surveyed the rough terrain, dismayed.

"Captain, we were in the middle of a blizzard, without protective clothing or face shields. Doctor McCoy was freezing to death, and I was attempting to carry him. It was impossible to memorize landmarks." Spock was more than a bit exasperated.

"I guess that is asking a lot. We can only hope that the Guardian didn't make a mistake. Bones, you go left, Spock, you can go right, and I'll stay in the middle. Let's keep in sight if possible. Let's go."

By the time Beta Niobe splashed the patches of snow crimson, the three men met back at their starting place. Kirk and McCoy, too tired to talk, gulped rations and crawled into their sleeping bags before the stars appeared. Spock, more accustomed to the higher gravity, sat outside the tent alone, until the cold drove him inside. None of them had seen anything that even hinted at intelligent life—only the desolate sameness of the tundra.

Comments

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Alice
Great book, nicely written and thank you BooksVooks for uploading

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