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Refuge

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Joy paced just behind the console in headquarters, swishing her Starfleet uniform miniskirt just a little bit on purpose to distract herself from the situation outside. She always wore a uniform when Leonard was on duty, but she wore the old, out of date one -- mostly because it was so cute. Sadness pushed a few buttons on the large control panel in front of her. She was tall and rounded, almost shapeless in her rumpled scrubs, the eyes in her blue face fixed on the screen that filled the front wall of headquarters. She turned briefly in her chair at the center of the console. “I need you on vitals, Joy.”

Joy glanced at the vital signs displayed on the small device Leonard was holding before his eyes, then leaned over to direct the information into his working memory. She and Sadness were the only female presenting members of the team, which Joy had always felt gave them a special solidarity, especially when they had to face off against the three guys.

The doctor’s arms lifted his patient to a sitting position. Fear sat to Sadness’ left, helping Joy keep track of vital signs and making sure the doctor didn’t fall while navigating engineering’s ridiculous floorplan and its oddly placed stairs. Anger and Disgust manned the outermost seats at the panel, currently keeping watch on the big picture, making note of warning klaxons and messages coming in over the ship’s comm system. Together the five of them piloted a person named Leonard H. McCoy, physician, from a space that looked uncannily like the bridge of a starship.

“Captain’s calling for warp drive in three minutes,” Disgust noted. “Or we’re all dead.”
Fear hissed between his teeth, but bent back over the console. “Fixing the engine is not going to happen,” he said. “That whole end of engineering is sealed. Radiation leak.”
Anger sat back from the console for a moment and placed a firm red hand on Fear’s slight shoulder.

Joy crossed to the other side of the console to reassure them both. “Jim exaggerates. He just gets caught up in the moment. I’m sure they’ll find a way to get the ship moving without fixing whatever that thing is.”

Disgust turned half around to roll his eyes at her. “Always full of sunshine, aren’t you?”

“That’s my job. Oh look, Spock’s here!” She always had to suppress the urge to wave, just in case their counterparts in Spock’s head could see them. She’d never gotten around to asking if they could, since on the rare occasions when they visited, it was always an emergency of some kind or other and they were too busy.

It was immediately apparent what the Vulcan was planning. Joy’s assessment of the amount of trouble the ship was in shot upward. Anger leaned across Sadness to shout into the mike, “Are you out of your Vulcan mind?” The words spilled out of Leonard’s mouth and echoed around headquarters.

Disgust quipped, “More than usual…” Fortunately, his commentary didn’t make it all the way to Leonard’s mouth.

“No human can survive the amount of radiation in there!” Fear said. His words, too, were picked up by the mike.

He leaned into Sadness, who gave his arm a squeeze and said, “If he doesn’t try, Spock’s going to die anyway. And so is Leonard.”

Joy gathered the two of them into a tight hug. “It’s looked this bad before and they’ve always managed to figure something out.”

“But if they don’t...” Fear shuddered.

“People don’t last forever,” Joy reminded them. “We’ve known that since Leonard was a little boy. We’ve had a good life. A really amazing life.”

On screen, Spock appeared to reconsider his reckless plan. Anger backed away from the console in relief. “Well, that worked surprisingly well.”

Joy and Sadness turned their attention back to the injured Scotty. A pain warning flashed across the console, then the console abruptly went dark. “What just happened?” Anger demanded of the blank screen, then consulted the panel for details. “Right shoulder. Did that pointy eared hobgoblin just nerve pinch Leonard?” He pushed back from the console to to pace the room and smolder.

Fear and Disgust were still messing with the console, trying to get it up and running again. Sadness took a few steps away from the rest of them to stand awkwardly in front of a blank wall to the left of the console.

“Are we dying?” Fear said.

“No,” Sadness replied softly, distracted. “Not yet.” She walked briskly back over to the console, searched it briefly, then tapped a few buttons. There was a soft thump.

The blank wall to the left of the console abruptly acquired a doorway sized hole. Two personifications poked nearly identical pointy eared heads through the hole, one golden, the other blue. Anger turned on them. “Logic? Loss? What are you doing here? What the hell is going on?” The top of his head burst into flame. “What makes you think you can just waltz in without so much as a…”

“I let them in,” Sadness interrupted. “Spock wouldn’t have asked if it weren’t important.”

Joy’s renamed counterpart, Logic, shoved a thick cable through the hole in the wall. “I need to patch Spock’s working memory into the doctor’s, quickly. We have five point two minutes to complete transfer.”

Joy grabbed the cable from Logic, dragged it across the floor, and stopped. There was no obvious location where one might attach a cable to working memory, a system of pneumatic tubes running down from the ceiling and around the perimeter of the room. The colored glass bubbles that held Leonard’s memories rolled along the tubes picking up emotional content in headquarters before being sorted into long term memory.

Logic stepped through the narrow, ragged edged doorway and hurried over to Joy. She scrambled up the tube system, dragging the cable with her. “I will improvise.” Like all of Spock’s personifications, she was a tall beanpole with slightly exaggerated eyes and ears wearing an impeccable Starfleet uniform. Unlike Joy, she preferred to wear pants.

Logic shouted down to Joy, “Spock does not expect to survive. He wishes to transfer his katra, the essence of who he is, to the doctor for safekeeping until it can be delivered to Vulcan.”

“Right,” Joy said. “What’s the deal with your headquarters? Don’t we usually just get one big room to share?”

Logic replied, “We don’t have enough bandwidth without maintaining physical contact. Spock is already making repairs.”

“Way to multitask,” Joy said. Her cheerfulness sounded a bit forced, even to her.

Sadness turned back to the console. “Leonard’s awake, but the control panel is still sluggish. Fear, I could use you over here.”

“Already?” Logic said. She turned back to the complex junction at the top of the working memory stack, mumbling technical jargon Joy couldn’t quite make out. It had confused her, at first, long ago, that Spock would have replaced his sense of joy with logic, but eventually she came to realize that reasoning things out gave him joy. What a nerd, she thought, fondly.

Loss stepped through the hole, lugging a crate of glowing multicolored memory bubbles. “Core memories,” he said.

“Is that everything?” Joy asked.

“It is all of the core memories. Other critical memories are accumulating in headquarters as they arrive from long term.”

Joy peeked into the hole. It led to a shimmering, fragile looking tunnel about three meters long. “We’ll start a bucket brigade,” she said. “Everybody line up.”

She ran the few steps through the tunnel. Determination, Spock’s bright red counterpart to Anger, was manning Spock’s control panel. Aversion and Caution, coded green and white like Disgust and Fear, respectively, were organizing crates of memories as they arrived from long term memory.

Caution handed Joy a crate of memories. She turned to head back into the tunnel and found Anger waiting to take them. The next couple of minutes were spent quickly and efficiently moving tidy, neatly packed crates of memory across the tunnel. “Why the tunnel?” Joy asked Caution as he passed her a crate.

“Spock is in the irradiated area, two point seven three meters from Doctor McCoy. We are sacrificing bandwidth for increased range.”

“I didn’t know he could do that!”

Aversion selected another crate. “We were not certain that we could. This never would have worked with Jim.”

“Jim has very little innate telepathic ability.” Caution handed off another crate and ran back to Aversion to collect the next. “Even for a human.”

“Leonard’s no telepath,” Anger snapped, shoving his crate down the tunnel at Loss.

Loss corrected, “As Spock has mentioned to the doctor on at least one occasion, that is not entirely…” but stopped mid-sentence.

The lights in Spock’s headquarters flickered. From her place at the mouth of the tunnel Joy could see his mindscape beginning to crumble. Crystalline edifices tumbled into the abyss. The sky beyond the rear bank of windows had turned a strange, absent color, neither orange nor gray nor black. It just wasn’t. Joy couldn’t look at it for more than a moment without feeling queasy. Spock’s viewscreen had gone dark. “Is he unconscious?” Joy asked.

“No,” Determination clarified. “He is blind.” She turned toward the personifications working in the tunnel. “I need Loss at the panel. For Jim.”

Joy shouted down the tunnel to Loss. “Sadness, Logic, go with him,” she said. She pulled Sadness close as she passed. “Keep an eye on Loss for me.”

She accepted another crate from Caution, turned, and passed it along to Anger. They made room for Sadness, Loss, and Logic to pass.

Caution, rushing, handed her two crates at once. She juggled them with difficulty. Anger hurried up the tunnel to take them from her.

“Long term memory is down,” Aversion shouted. She grabbed a last couple of crates and passed them on to Caution, who nearly threw them at Joy in his haste.

Spock’s headquarters lurched suddenly. Joy dropped the crates she was holding. Fire licked at the rear bank of windows. They shattered in the heat admitting flames that spread rapidly up the back wall toward the ceiling. Joy flung herself down the tunnel after Anger, toward Leonard’s headquarters. Aversion tumbled after, followed by Logic.

Caution paused just long enough to shout at the two personifications still huddled around Spock’s sparking control panel. “Sadness, you have to get Loss out, now! I have to break the link before we damage the doctor!”

“He won’t come!”

Anger threw Joy out of his way and dashed back up the tunnel. Joy could hear harsh words, then a couple of thumps. Sadness emerged into Leonard’s headquarters first. Anger followed, one thick arm wrapped around Loss’ waist, dragging him. Once in Headquarters, they fell to the floor, sending memory bubbles rolling in all directions.

The link broke spontaneously and explosively, throwing Logic halfway across headquarters. The ragged doorway was now nothing more than a gash leading nowhere, through which a hurricane force wind blew. Headquarters shook and tilted, filling the air with flying glass balls. Joy bounced off the back windows and fell into a pile of multicolored memories.

Quiet. Logic and Aversion were braced up against the gash, covering it with a torn off chunk of paneling. Joy counted heads. Anger, holding Loss down, clutched the console with his free arm. Sadness curled up on the floor beside the two of them. Fear and Caution perched atop the console, trying not to further scramble the critical memories scattered knee deep all over headquarters. Disgust shook his head, arms akimbo, as he surveyed the mess.

Logic addressed Disgust. “We made the best of circumstances which were far less than ideal.”

“So much for organizing all of this in advance,” Aversion said ruefully. He collapsed into the pile of memories, picked one up and stared briefly into its depths. “Whose idea was it to bring jingles?”

“Probably a last gift from those jokers down in long term memory,” Determination replied. “May we hear it?”

Sadness pulled herself up with the edge of the console. “I saw long term memory go down. So much lost forever.” Her body slumped again, but at least she managed to keep from sobbing in front of their guests.

“Look at how much we saved,” Determination said. “And we are all present and accounted for. This is a good, solid transfer. We can organize all these memories while we wait to return to Vulcan.”

“Is that where we drop all of you off then?” Joy asked.

Aversion tossed the memory globe to Joy, who placed it carefully into the beam of light that represented Leonard’s personal Now. "Once there was a silly old ant tried to move a rubber tree plant..." Loss sucked in a harsh breath. “That’s Jim’s. We caught it from him, one of the times…”

Determination pressed her lips together and nodded, then continued Loss’s thought. “One of the times we almost lost him.”

Logic scurried back up the working memory conduit. “Help me get Leonard’s short term memory hooked back up,” she called down to Joy.

Joy reached up to collect the cable as Logic passed it down. Determination frowned up at them. “Logic, Leonard isn’t fully conscious, is he.” It was not quite a question.

Logic quirked an eyebrow. “No. He is partially conscious, capable of consent, but he is in something of a fugue state…ah, I see.”

She dropped lightly to the floor. “To transfer the katra, it is necessary for the core memories; primary drives, that would be us; and the world line, the moment to moment self, to be located in the host at the moment of death.”

“Which means?” Joy asked.

Which means,” Logic continued patiently, “I had to use Dr. McCoy’s full working memory to carry the world line. I had neither the time nor the bandwidth to patch him back in until now. He has not been creating new memories of his own.”

Determination cut him off. “So the good doctor doesn’t know we are here.”

Anger raised himself on one elbow. “Fuck.”