What is this place?
Jim stood before the stone structure. It was many stories high and had a large arch opening here at the base of it.
The Beast of Vulcan.
He’d come here seeking adventure after being bored for weeks. His mother had brought him to this planet while she worked there in a lab. Jim had been on Vulcan for three years now and had finished his education, near the top of the class, quite a feat for a Human.
He was old enough, now, to leave on his own and seek his own path in life, which he intended to do, but his mother had asked him to stay just a bit longer, and Jim was bored.
And he’d heard about this place.
A place where a legendary beast was hidden within. Or so the stories went. Some didn’t believe it and most never bothered to go there. Some that had were chased away. None had ever managed to get to the top where it was said the beast lived.
Jim intended to do just that. With his backpack of survival supplies at the ready, Jim headed toward the arch, determined.
In the middle of the first floor was an old stone staircase. Jim had been told that this was once a mighty fortress, pre-Surak times. Jim climbed it, being careful to watch for weak spots, yet there were none.
The second floor seemed to be a series of old empty rooms devoid of furniture or anything. It was hauntingly lonely, Jim thought.
This time the stars to the next floor were on the side, so Jim made his way to the third floor. So far he had seen nothing nor had he been attacked, but he could hear the faint sounds of movement above him, on another floor.
“The beast?” he whispered.
Of course there was no answer and Jim expected none.
The third floor was similar to the second except there was an ancient table in one room. He also noticed far more evidence of insect activity. He found the stairs and went to the fourth floor. The sounds above grew louder and somehow for ominous.
Jim thought he heard low growling as he moved from room to room but he couldn’t see anything. He was grateful for the flash light he’d brought with him as there were no openings or windows on this floor and he’d be in darkness otherwise.
He was about to put his foot on the stairs to the fifth floor, Jim thought there were two more floors after that for a total of seven, when a hand suddenly grabbed his wrist.
“Jim, it is me.”
Jim turned, heart in throat, to stare at Spock. “Damn it, you scared the crap out of me.”
Spock gave him a disapproving look. “I followed you, for I knew you could only be up to no good.”
“Well. Not always.”
“Yes, always. Jim, this place is not safe, please leave with me.”
“But there’s only three more floors until I reach the beast.”
“The beast is merely an illogical legend. It does not exist.”
“I heard growling,” Jim suggested.
“Likely your stomach for you failed to eat this morning.”
Jim sighed. “But, Spock…no one’s ever gotten to the top.”
“It is a broken down old dwelling that could crumble under your feet at any time. I would like us to make it to Starfleet Academy in one piece.”
Jim let his words sink in. “Wait. You’re coming with me? But I thought the Vulcan Science Academy—”
“I turned them down in favor of Starfleet.” Spock paused. “And you.”
Jim smiled and leaned in to kiss his boyfriend. “Now that’s most excellent news.”
“Leave this place, Jim. If it is adventure you seek, we will surely find it together in Starfleet.”
Jim looked at the stairs going up regretfully. “All right. But it might have been fun. Beauty and the Beast, you know?”
“I suppose you are the beauty.” Spock directed him toward all the exits.
“Duh, of course.”
“I can find no illogic in that statement. You are singularly attractive.”
When they reached the ground floor, Jim switched off his flashlight.
“I am relieved,” Spock admitted.
“You aren’t afraid of the beast legend, are you, Spock?”
“Not truly, no. But there are tales within my family that one of my father’s brothers came here and never returned.”
They stepped outside and Jim saw that Spock was quite relieved.
“You really were worried about me going up there, weren’t you?”
“It is logical to be cautious and concerned where one’s mate is involved, Jim.”
Jim smiled. “All right. Let’s go home then. I am hungry.”
And as Jim and Spock walked away from the Beast’s lair, on the seventh floor, looking down, the Beast roared.