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It was published in the print zine First Time #50.
"Kirk and Spock visit an underwater installation where Kirk realizes his desire for Spock after accidentally seeing the commander of the base with his male lover."
Reactions and Reviews
From her very first story, I have enjoyed almost everything this author has written—including this excellent story about Kirk and Spock going to a planet with a mysterious ancient underwater city.
Ms. Gray is always so inventive of an author—her creations are so wonderfully detailed and colorful. This story is no exception and also had a terrific TOS feel to it. You know what I mean—when a story has all the qualities of the original series and the characters are so on target—and then there’s the added element of K/S which makes everything come alive because of the strong background of the series. To the story—I loved the beginning where Kirk is swimming in the pool on the Enterprise. It is established that Kirk is a strong swimmer and that he loves the water. It is also established that Spock hates the water and doesn’t know how to swim. These elements figure in later and the way that they are shown early really sets up the subsequent events beautifully. Spock tells Kirk of their next assigned mission (again, clever how all the information about the planet and the people is imparted through their dialogue) to an underwater colonized planet. The reader also learns that Kirk has been taking some risks that have been disturbing to Spock and there had been a previous mission where Spock saved Kirk from falling off a cliff. The next scene—a meeting of the officers to discuss the project and shore leave—is so realistic. The author really understands how to build a story— how the development is done in layers. But the focus of this scene isn’t just dry information about the planet— it’s really about Spock’s concern for Kirk’s safety and Kirk’s increasing risk-taking. Kirk wants to go to a beach and Spock insists on joining him. Kirk goes scuba diving and urges Spock to take off his tunic. Spock does so, but leaves on his black t-shirt and his black uniform trousers rolled up at the cuffs. Sounds gorgeous, doesn’t it? Later they go to the underwater base and on the way, Spock gets seasick—cute! They hear about Atlantis and they go into a pod to view the ruins. There’s a really good detailed description of the pod and its workings that if I, the least techno-savvy reader ever, could understand. I found this part difficult to understand as to exactly where they were. It was confusing if they were on the base or on a boat or a pod and I had to reread to it find out. But the scene of Kirk meeting the head of the sea base and their dialogue had such a great TOS feel. That was terrific. I loved how Kirk and Spock have to share a small room with bunk beds (and Spock gets the top!). Then there’s a pivotal scene where Kirk accidentally sees Raum (the head of the sea base) and another man, Conning have sex in the observation deck. Kirk gets all turned on and realizes it affected him so profoundly because they were in love. This starts him thinking of Spock and how he’s loved him for years, so he must tell him. Raum’s lover, Conning, takes Kirk out scuba diving to Atlantis and Spock is very nervous about it. As well he should be because there’s an underwater earthquake and Conning dies. I was surprisingly moved by this because the author had done such a good job of establishing his and Raum’s relationship. Then such exciting events occur and Spock must drown in order to save Kirk. This whole part was so thrilling and so edge-of-your-seat tense as Kirk tries to resuscitate Spock. Finally Kirk tells him how much he loves him and that he was waiting to say it so that Spock would be alive. I was really affected by this scene—their love is so strong and exquisite. Then a really wonderful sex scene on a bed in front of a star-filled window that deserves a “Best Of The Best” nomination. Included is a beautiful accompanying artwork by Marianne Mueller that truly enhanced the scene.Another terrific story by Ms. Gray, who has become one of my absolute, all-time favorite authors. But I don’t like saying that because then she might become a pod person and I’d be really sad! 
[regarding the art]: My favorite of Marianne's contributions to the zine was the drawing for "Atlantis Stars" by Deanna Gray opposite page 227—it is absolutely beautiful. I love the strength of Spock's hand, holding Kirk back on that picture. Marianne also has a special way of drawing Kirk that makes him look rather young and vulnerable, thafs kind of appealing to me. This piece is gorgeous and goes so well with a very, very powerful moment in the story it is drawn for. 
As every other zine I've ever read, apart from perhaps novels, this zine has its strong and weak moments, but I think it leans toward more strong than weak. There are a few stories in this First Time that I just couldn't stop reading until I was finished, even thoughtime passed and itturned both 3 and 4 AM.
"Atlantis Stars" by Deanna Gray was another very well-written and intriguing story, where the author deals with Spock's reluctance to get wet, something that's always fascinated me due to his supposedly feline ancestry.... Of course, that isn't the main focus of the story even if it has a significance. This tale has a very interesting plot which takes Spock and Kirkto a planet that is almost entirely covered with water, something Spock isn't too keen on. It made me both laugh a little and feel sorry for Spock. The author manages to convey Spock's reluctance to ever leave his captain out of sight and also both their care for each other. In the middle of this story there is a very strong scene, probably among the strongest I've ever read in any K/S so far—granted, I have a lot left to read—but it really gripped me, and I thought it was horribly powerful and very poignant. I won't go into detail of the events, I think they're worth reading.I am a lover of water myself, but after reading this, I can understand how some people fear this element. I also thoroughly enjoyed the insight to another homosexual couple on the sea station and I learned to like the characters although they were rather sketchily drawn. Iwonder if perhaps this isn't why I liked them so much. Kirk catches these two in an intimate moment and I believe this is one of the most erotic parts of the story. 
I think this is my favorite story by this very prolific writer. I especially like Kirk’s attitude when he realizes what exactly it is he feels for Spock. No angst-ridden self-analysis (though there is plenty of angst later on.) He knows what his heart is telling him and he’s more than ready to go with it. Nor is this a man caught unaware by his own body. When the Enterprise is sent to the water world of Tholonasa to drop off supplies and set up medical reviews for the crews stationed there, Kirk gets to spend time with his first officer on shore leave. They spend two idyllic days together, Spock studying the aquatic life while Kirk enjoys the sunshine and ocean swimming. But when an opportunity to visit one of the underwater installations comes up, Kirk jumps at the chance. The next thing Spock knows, he’s sharing quarters far below the ocean’s surface.
Their first night there, Kirk goes off to explore while Spock meditates. When he falls asleep in the observation room he inadvertently sees Derek Raum, the commander of the base, with his male lover, Lt. Conning. The sounds of their lovemaking wake him up, and he is spellbound by the beauty of their deep affection for each other. It only makes him that much more sure of what he wants from Spock.
But the next few days are busy ones. Spock is recruited to help with deciphering the hieroglyphs that have been found in the sunken city near the base. Kirk fills his time the best he can, mainly by getting to know Raum and Conning and observing their closeness. It gives him hope. But later, he takes the opportunity to go out with Connings in a small diving pod to explore Atlantis, the name given to the underwater ruins.
Then tragedy strikes. The last few days had seen the base shaken by several small earthquakes. While Kirk and Conning are swimming through the ruins, another hits. Conning is crushed and killed by the crumbling building. Kirk is not much better off. Though uninjured, he’s trapped beneath the collapsed structure.
Back at the base, Spock practically hijacks the only remaining undamaged pod. He manages to retrieve his captain, but on their way back they are overtaken by the force of expelled gases from a nearby fissure. The pod is taking on water and repairs are impossible.
I loved the next scene. There is only one wet-suit between them. And Spock doesn’t really know how to swim. Think Abyss and the scene where the woman drowns and then is forced back to life. Then magnify it by all the love and concern you have for Kirk and Spock. Kirk’s agony as he’s forced to watch Spock drown, and then his heartbreaking refusal to give up when the first attempts to revive Spock fail are riveting.
Of course he lives. And then there’s another beautiful scene as Kirk finally confesses his feelings to Spock...and drags it out of Spock that, of course, he loves his captain, too.After the author’s signature long and totally hot love scene there’s a small addendum that, for me, shows Spock’s love for Kirk even more vividly. He asks Kirk to teach him to swim. 
This is a great K/S story, including a death (a good “happy-ending” death). It also was so interesting about this water planet with the sea base, the lost city, and all the details of what the Enterprise is doing there, etc. It seems this author enjoys doing research and giving us stories in unique circumstances. And it was structured nicely, with the water theme. In the beginning, we see Kirk in the pool on the ship and how Spock isn’t into water at all;
and at the end we come back there. Very nice. Because the usual freighter on this route is out of commission, the Enterprise has to deliver provisions and do physicals for all the personnel. I do have some little nit-picks, such as that the two days Kirk and Spock are hanging out on some beach at the beginning of their leave there were said in just a few paragraphs, with nothing to tell me about their accommodations or what else they’ve been doing, and with not all that many hints of the emotional atmosphere between them. We do see Spock being protective of Kirk though, how Kirk is always rashly putting himself in dangerous situations. He’s feeling protective, anyway, if not overtly mother-henning Kirk. The “Atlantis” underwater lost city, as well as the sea base itself and the planet’s seismic activity, all provide a backdrop for the serious danger situation which becomes the catalyst for Kirk and Spock finally coming together. Simple but elegant. The whole thing is done so well--quintessential elements of a short piece of fiction, but without making it obvious that the author is just going by a formula of what’s supposedly effective. And the deep-sea technology and all, is very impressive. (However, what is “outside” on a below- water base?) Ah, and then there are the commander of the sea base and his male lover, observation of whom makes Kirk come to terms with what he’s really been feeling about Spock. However, even though everything Kirk thinks is really written well, and this is after all fiction, I don’t think people usually come to such realizations so quickly, but rather over the course of time. Of course I love how Spock has to overcome his aversion to the water to save Kirk...and I won’t tell anything of the rest, the highly dramatic scenes of.... Including some wonderful, terrible angst of Kirk’s, that he’s never said I love you to Spock.And there is very nicely drawn-out sex, nicely written. And as I said, the perfect ending. I certainly do appreciate Deanna’s stories, always. 
This is a beautiful love story. The author creates not only a dazzling water-bound planet, but also a cast of characters that are believable and in which you find yourself instantly invested. You ―know‖ them from the very start. Especially two men who Kirk inadvertently discovers are lovers. This is a remarkably emotional scene delivered with just the right amount of drama.
The underwater complex is a technical marvel and the discovery of a long-lost city fondly dubbed ―Atlantis‖ is fascinating. If this isn‘t enough, there are also Kirk and Spock, in a deeply committed friendship and searching for more. I found the adventure, the exploration of the planet along with the crew of the complex and the threats they faced when seismic activity rocked their undersea facility to be very believable and entertaining. I was spellbound. Yes, I am aware of the similarities between this story and the movie ―The Abyss‖, but rather than this detracting from the story, it made me better able to visualize the setting and increased my enjoyment. In fact, so enamored was I of the story, I went out and purchased the movie, which I‘ve not seen for many years. This story contains one of the most daring and chilling underwater rescues you will ever encounter, and having it involve Kirk and Spock multiplies the effect ten- fold. When Kirk gets in trouble, nothing is going to stop Spock from going after him, his dislike of water suddenly of no consequence. And when they are both trapped and only one can possibly make it out of the situation alive, they come to realize many truths.I highly recommend this story, whether it‘s a re- read for you (as it was for me) or a first-time. Extremely well done, Ms. Gray! 
A number of things make this story stand apart. The first line, repeated in different context but very effectively throughout, gives the reader an anchor that will be remembered: Stroke, stroke, breathe. Stroke, stroke, breathe. Of course, more than one picture is brought to mind by these words. In the beginning, Kirk is swimming in the ship’s pool (ever wonder what happens if artificial gravity falters??) and is immediately joined by a fully dressed Vulcan who expresses no desire to join him. As Kirk does laps, they discuss a recent mission in which Spock has rescued his captain...and friend. A stern lecture on the difference between professional and personal risk brings some other personal issues to the forefront. I found especially gratifying Kirk’s thoughts of being carried after a fall, being held closely against Spock’s chest, “priceless” is how he defines the feeling.
Turns out the swim was practice for a scheduled visit to a world consisting primarily of water. Here we get to meet a believable and likeable cast of characters, including Commander Raum and his officer, Conning who are lovers. Kirk’s accidental discovery of their relationship is revealing to him in an unexpected way, but the nice thing is that the author also allows us to understand and care for the new characters. A new-world “Atlantis” rests beneath the waves of this alien world, and in typical fashion, Kirk is determined to explore it with Conning while Spock and Raum wait above. A terrible accident leaves Conning dead and Kirk trapped. While I agree this is not an original concept, it is especially well-handled and sufficiently unpredictable. Both men eventually find themselves trapped without enough air-producing equipment to reach the surface. While the resulting scene was likely “borrowed” from a popular movie, one can easily forgive this small transgression in order to experience the absolute horror and suffocating suspense it generates. It is such a unique and startling concept it would be difficult to ignore its appropriateness for use in K/S.Having found each other in this unexpected way, neither man is willing to relinquish the completeness they have found in one another. Exploration of a new variety commences in Kirk’s cabin back on the Enterprise. Stroke, stroke, breathe...it has infinite applications. 
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