Even though 'City' is my favorite TOS episode, I have always been bothered by the ending. In the context of Trek, it just never seemed like Kirk would have let things go that way. This is the start I have made so far to change the story. See what you think.... Star Trek: Today Is Forever 1 "Spock, we need to have a serious discussion." The Vulcan arched an eyebrow. "Are there any other kind, Captain?" Kirk reflected for a moment. "Well, there are humorous discussions when things are casual and relaxed, but your grasp of humor needs a bit of work yet and I think that McCoy has more....patience in that area when it comes to novices such as yourself." Spock paused to formulate a suitable reply. "I did not fail to pick up on your wordplay involving Dr. McCoy's....victims." Kirk grinned, in spite of the situation at hand. "There....that's humor. See? You are making progress." "I was merely responding to your request for a serious discussion. My use of the word 'victims' was not intended to be humorous. I believe that matters are best summed up by the words of one member of the crew who was heard to remark upon exiting sickbay that Dr.McCoy has 'the bedside manner of a curmudgeonly owl with an upset stomach'." Kirk could not help but laugh. "Spock, do you realize how funny that is?" Spock was nonplussed. "Evidently, I do not." "It's the image, Spock....of a giant owl grumbling around at everybody while rubbing his stomach. It could even be said that his problem is potentially one of mice and men." The expression on Spock's face was one of thorough puzzlement. "Mice, Captain?" "John Steinbeck, Spock. Haven't you ever read him?" "I have not." "Not even 'The Grapes of Wrath'?" "No." "Well, remind me later to introduce you to more of the classics of Earth literature." "Indeed." Thoughts of the history of literature brought Kirk's mind back to history in general and then their current mission reasserted its grip on him. Humor quickly faded and Spock observed the abrupt change in his demeanor. "You said that Edith has to die....that if she doesn't, millions of others will." "Those are the unfortunate alternatives." Kirk paced back and forth in the small room, deep in troubled thought. At last, something welled up in him that had been elusive ever since Spock had given him the grim facts....the unthinkable facts. "You have often said that 'There are always possibilities'." "Jim, I am very much aware of your feelings for Miss Keeler, and I understand more than you may think I do, but this is not another Kobayashi Maru test. You can't reprogram the Guardian of Forever. 'Often' is perhaps the word that I should have chosen rather than 'always'." Spock hoped that his words had not been too blunt. Kirk was too busy sprinting down the path of a rapidly expanding idea to worry about Spock's choice of words at that point. "When someone dies, they are no longer able to have an effect on history." "Not directly, of course. The only remaining influence would be their posthumous legacy, which varies greatly depending upon the individual and whether or not they have a body of followers of a size significant enough to further the person's influence." "And from what you've found out, history says that Edith Keeler is meant to die at a point in the near future before she ever has a chance to establish a following of any significance....because if she did, a strong enough pacifist movement could lead history down the same road even without her remaining alive to lead it, correct?" "That would be the most probable outcome and therefore her death must occur before the movement has a chance to gain momentum. Based upon the bits of information that I have been able to gather, I believe that her death is quite imminent. Your catching her on the stairs did not change anything because it did not involve a traffic accident. But anything that you were to do out on these surrounding streets would very likely bring about the same change that was caused by Dr. McCoy. It is in your instinct to preserve life, but in this instance the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one." Kirk locked eyes with Spock and his gaze was penetrating. "By what other method is someone....lost to history?" Spock was struggling to grasp Kirk's thread of reasoning. "Other than death? None, that I am aware of." Kirk pressed ahead with growing vigor. "I think the key word here is 'lost'....as in missing. Vanished without a trace. The effect on history is basically the same, whether someone dies or simply disappears completely and is never heard from again. History is full of cases of people who were assumed to have died because they dropped off the map and never reappeared." Both of Spock's eyebrows were now at full elevation. "Am I to infer that you are planning to boldly go where no man has gone before?" Kirk's look was defiantly adamant. "If you mean am I going to cheat history and death and take her with us, you're damned right. That's exactly what I mean. I don't like to lose." Spock considered Kirk's words for a moment. "The idea is actually....quite logical. The only reservations I have are whether or not the Guardian of Forever would allow for her to accompany us and what changes that her presence in our time might bring about. However, I must say that I am at a bit of a loss as to why the idea itself failed to occur to me whatsoever." Kirk dismissed Spock's moment of self-reproach. "We all have our moments of two-dimensional thinking, Spock. This is terra incognita and no one gave us an instruction manual. The Guardian of Forever wasn't exactly a wellspring of information. But we didn't have the luxury of a lengthy discussion. Let's put it this way: Time was not on our side." Kirk resumed his restless pacing. Words were important, but until now he had never felt quite so keenly the desperate need to spring into action. "Let's assume, for the moment, that the Guardian of Forever allowed us to take Edith with us....that it was within its 'grand design parameters' or whatever it could be called. How do we know that Edith is not in some way vital to our own time? You said yourself that her philosophy is correct. She's just ahead of her time. Doesn't that suggest that there is something larger at work here? I'm having a really hard time believing that our part in all of this is just simple coincidence. Coincidences tend to give me an upset stomach, because I've never really believed that's all they are. So often they feel like missing puzzle pieces that actively resist all attempts to locate them." Spock was about to reply, but Kirk held up a hand. "And don't tell me that my feelings for Edith are leading me on an emotional quest. I assure you that my judgment remains intact and any decisions that I make will be on the basis of what I believe is best for everyone. In this case, I'm well aware that involves a very large number of lives." "I have no doubt that your command capability remains completely uncompromised." Spock observed a slight relaxation in Kirk's body language and then continued. "There is an old Vulcan proverb which states, 'Life is questions; Death is answers'. The point is that thus far, neither science nor philosophy nor even religion is able to answer the question of why existence proceeds in the manner that it does. The 'deepest thinkers' in Vulcan society have been no more successful in their pursuit of ultimate answers than anyone in your own Human culture. Even advanced beings such as Trelane and his parents are quite obviously not significantly closer to the 'great truths' of life. Are there 'simple coincidences' that have no significance to them other than in the subjective perception of the individual? That remains a matter for debate." Kirk was grateful that Spock was essentially undecided on the subject of coincidence. "I intend to proceed from the standpoint that we are here because Edith is needed in our time. Who knows, she may be the unique person who will end up being the only one capable of establishing a lasting peace with the Klingons. There is a strength in her....a tenacity....a fire the likes of which I have never encountered before. She respects all life and is willing to fight for it. I can almost see her going toe-to-toe with the best of the Klingons and putting them back on their heels. And the fact that she is female...." Spock saw the sense in what Kirk was saying. "Extreme courage....especially in those whom they deem to be the weaker gender....is something that the Klingons do highly prize, even though their culture's code of honor prevents them from openly admitting it. The idea of a lone human female standing firm against their leaders would be completely unprecedented." Kirk slapped a hand on the table. "That's more than good enough for me, Spock. I plan to do everything in my power to see to it that Edith has a chance to live and fulfill a worthwhile destiny, whatever it may be, rather than let her die out in the street like one of these determined vagrants that she's trying so hard to rescue. Sometimes, a rescuer needs rescuing. Bones stepped in, but he didn't have the information that he needed about the big picture....especially in his obvious mental condition when he would have arrived. You and I are not hampered by the influence of cordrazine." Spock was ready to follow Kirk's lead. "What do you propose as our next move?" Kirk glanced around the room, taking in the scope of Spock's carefully constructed apparatus. He appreciated the time and effort that Spock had put into it, but now it was no longer necessary. "You can dismantle this equipment and dispose of it as you see fit. I'm not going to allow the timelines of history to play with Edith's life like a marionette on the end of some strings. I'm going to level with her and tell her who we really are and why we're here. It's time to cut those strings." With that, Kirk was out the door. Spock raised an eyebrow once again. This time, the ghost of a smile briefly flitted across his features. Kirk was in his element, taking action and fighting the big fight. All was right with the world. He started pulling apart the vacuum tubes and circuit boards. 2 Kirk found Edith in the kitchen of the mission, sweeping up the shards of a broken coffee mug. "Well, you're not crying but it would be so much more apropos if that were milk on the floor." Edith turned and gave Kirk a bright smile. "Why, Mister Kirk....you do have a way of pleasantly freshening up even a tired old cliche." Kirk returned the smile. "Jim....call me Jim." Edith's smile widened. "Okay....Jim. What brings you here at this hour? I would have thought that you would be helping Mister Spock with his hobby....that very strange radio, or whatever it may be. Is he attempting to receive broadcasts from China?" Kirk chuckled at her ironic mention of China, recalling the incident of several days earlier in which he had attempted to explain to a highly skeptical cop that Spock's looks were the result of an accident with a mechanical rice picker as a young child in his native China. "Not exactly....but I promise to fill you in completely as we go along. That's why I'm here. There's a lot that you need to know. Not just about Spock and about me, but also about yourself. Is there somewhere private where we can talk without anyone listening in?" Edith responded with playful curiosity. "This is all very mysterious....Jim. Are the two of you government agents of some kind? Are you plotting to turn my establishment into a spy mission?" Kirk laughed, in spite of the seriousness of the situation. Edith's sharp mind and quick wit definitely kept him off his guard. "No....it's nothing like that. But there is an element of....secrecy that must be preserved. And time is absolutely of the essence. So we need to be able to talk freely in a place where your....clientele can't hear." Edith raised an eyebrow of her own. "Well, in that case....follow me." She led Kirk to the small, quiet back room that she had set up for individual alcoholics who needed a few days to dry out free from the influences of their peers. She unlocked the door, switched on the light, and sat down on the cot. She smiled and patted the space to her right. Kirk closed the door and came to sit beside her. He looked deeply into her eyes and took her right hand in both of his. His expression was one of grim earnestness. "This is....very difficult. Please hear me completely out before you make any judgments. What I'm going to tell you may seem like the ravings of a completely deranged individual, but I assure you that I am completely sane. And we are not criminals. The clothing and the tools....you will understand in a few minutes how they figure in and see that they were absolutely necessary." The level of emotion in Kirk's tone and the conviction that was evident in his words had their own power, but it was his eyes that held her. There was something in them that she had never seen in anyone before. It was absolute honesty, but it was also.... she could hardly describe it, even to herself. It was as if she could sense that deep within him he somehow had the weight of the entire universe on his shoulders. And now he needed her help. He needed to be believed. She would not fail him. She straightened her posture, to reinforce the fact of her rigidly serious attention. "Okay, Jim. Please do continue."