There was an immediate shudder throughout the entire station the moment Cynthia disengaged the orbital lock. The entire world seemed to list on its side as the Churchill Spacedock lost its position and began a cataclysmic tumble to Earth at 900 miles an hour. Everything listed to one side, and Cynthia found herself clinging to the control panel like a limpet, struggling with all over strength to find purchase to support her narrow frame. Dials and readouts spun and changed too fast to be observed properly, and it seemed like the very world was made of a crashing cacophony of metal and plastic parts bashing into one another and shattering under the stress. With a cry of desperation, Cynthia threw her hand against the pull of gravity and was able to find her right hand on a knob that she began turning furiously. Eventually, the station seemed to right itself and the crashing ceased, but every wall and support beam of the church howled in pain as the Earth continued to draw it closer, threatening to compromise the structure before it even reached the surface.
“You god-damned rust-bucket,” Cynthia snarled, feverishly working dials and switches, “you’ll do what I tell you to do or so help me I’ll tear what’s left of you apart with my bare hands! COME ON!”
She jammed another lever into place and stole a look at their present position.
Getting close, she thought. She couldn’t help wondering at that moment if all was well up in the console room.
In truth, three of the Vulcans had been knocked unconscious when the station originally lurched, leaving a skeleton crew to help Stirak and T’Lai prepare for the ceremony. With all reverence, Humak’s body had been removed from the tomb in the cargo bay and brought into the console room, laid out on his back on the edge of the main console, which was serving as a makeshift altar. Mike had been laid down on the console as well, in such a way that the top of his head was only inches from the top of Humak’s. He lay there, watching Vulcans scurry about to set up the necessary vessels and artifacts for the performance of fal-tor-pan.
“I gotta say,” Mike muttered, forcing a smile as he felt the pressure build on every blood vessel in his body, “I’m not used to all this fuss over me. Reminds me of when I was a kid, and I’d get a nosebleed. Dad was always worried that’d set off the whole she-bang…”
“We are trying our best to monitor your condition, and to take into consideration any ‘she-bangs’ you may have in the process.”
T’Lai’s beautiful face and solemn expression only made her words funnier. Mike wanted to laugh, but even compressing his body for a chuckle could have burst an artery.
“Be strong, Mikey. Be strong.”
He heard his father’s voice inside his head just like he had through most of his childhood, soft and reassuring. Of course, those words were usually accompanied by a painful injection of coagulant or nano-platelets, which usually colored the situation. This time, instead, Mike was allowed to look into the face of a gorgeous Vulcan priestess.
“I’ll be strong…” Mike murmured, half in and half out of consciousness.
“Please do not speak,” T’Lai cautioned, “Extra vibrations in your current pressurized state are a hazard.”
“There’s just…” he muttered, nearly gone, “Just one more question… I have to ask…”
“If you must,” T’Lai sighed, finishing up her preparations, “though it is highly illogical.”
“There was another…” his voice was nearly a whisper now, “another here, a Pakled… what happened to her?”
Stirak, who had been busy preparing Humak’s body, briskly explained.
“The Pakled was a hindrance to our operation. It simply asked too many questions, and was incapacitated.”
“Ah,” Mike let out a sigh of satisfaction, “with that knowledge, I think I could die happy.”
At that moment, a great shock tilted the station violently, and the Vulcans scrabbled to reset their ceremony, along with the two bodies. Cynthia’s voice came across the communication channel.
“Sorry about that, folks, but the brakes on this thing haven’t been tested. But… here we are, in a newly established orbit above Mana, a mountain exactly 7,272 meters tall. Is everything all right up there?”
“It will be a few moments,” Stirak’s voice came across the line, “the rough approach will allow for a repositioning of sacred vessels.”
“Oh… sorry. Well, I’ll just adjust a few other things down here, put in some half-assed excuse to Starfleet, and I’ll be right–”
She heard the line go dead and knew something must have gone wrong. As soon as she was satisfied with the new orbital hold she bolted to the nearest turbolift to the console room.
“What’s it? What’s wrong?!”
She tried to force her way over to her two workers laid out on the console, but Stirak cut her off firmly.
“It would be unwise to go further. The ceremony has begun, and you should not interfere.”
“But something’s gone wrong, hasn’t it? I’ve known enough of you green-skinned goblins in my time. I know you would only cut off a transmission if something had gone wrong, it’s not in your nature to cut people off. So, tell me… what is wrong?”
Stirak’s face was as flat and inexpressive as always, but Cynthia actually saw his eyes dart into a corner and return again before he responded.
“There are complications.”
One of the Vulcans was working alongside T’Lai as Mike’s vitals had begun to fail during the re-institution of orbital hold. Their work was desperate, a losing effort as it seemed Mike’s blood pressure had reached a critical state.
“A shutdown of systems is imminent,” the aide said in Vulcan, “Our best option would be to institute fal-tor-pan immediately.”
“No,” T’Lai replied, “I do not wish to actively murder. Removing the katra would surely kill the human.”
“The subject is expectorating blood, priestess,” the aide replied, “something must be done lest we lose both subjects.”
“Do you have any suggestions?” T’Lai’s voice was customarily strong, and still without any shred of grief.
“With each passing moment, the viability of fal-tor-pan decreases exponentially.”
“Then we truly have no choice,” T’Lai nodded, leaning down and whispering in the alien language into Mike’s ear as he lay dying.
“I know you are in there, and can hear me. Understand that the strength of your katra could save this man you call friend. I am asking that you put forth the effort to save this man, and in return we can return you to your body.”
There was no response but a jet of blood coming from Mike’s nose. T’Lai seemed to sigh then, and leaned down again.
“Please… my son… it is the wish of both I… and your father… that you return to us… to our family. You were born a human, but raised a Vulcan, so please understand my human begging to bring you back to your Vulcan family. Humak… Jon… come to us.”
She straightened up and turned to the orderly.
“Are the vitals stabilizing?”
“Of course not, the subject…” the Vulcan aide cocked one eyebrow then in a gesture of supreme surprise as he analyzed his equipment.
“This is most illogical.”
“Is the subject returning to proper health?”
“Y-yes, milady,” the aide nodded, “the ceremony can begin when you are ready.”
“Very well.”
After everything that happened, the ceremony proved to work with hardly a problem. Within a few hours, Humak, back in his body, stood in the sickbay of the Church with T’Lai, watching over the recuperating Mike Smith, bandaged heavily and injected with a heavy dose of nano-platelets.
“He will not be awake for some time,” the priestess explained, “he is heavily sedated to allow his blood to return to proper function. Removing the internal bleeding proved most difficult, but not impossible.”
“He will be able to return to normative work functions in no less than five days.”
There was a small pause then over the gently breathing bandaged body.
“Your father and I are pleased with your return, Humak.”
“I do not remember either of you being pleased with me before.”
“Your Mr. Smith said some very interesting things to us. I believe we owe may you an apology.”
“I would appreciate an apology from Stirak as well.”
“That will be difficult in obtaining.”
“In that case… mother,” Humak walked over to the door to sickbay, “I appreciate all you have done, but I have to be getting back to work. I have my obligations to a family here that take precedence over the family I was not allowed for most of my life.”
T’Lai stood in the doorway, cocking her head to one side like an inquisitive bird.
“Humak, your behavior is very illogical given the circumstances. You are more a Vulcan than you ever have been, yet you are allowing an emotion to rule you in your expulsion of us.”
Humak stared her down with a hard, angry look, and spoke only two more words before closing the door in the priestess’ face.
“Shit happens.”

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