Forests of the Night
|Title:||Forests of the Night|
|Fandom:||Star Trek: The Original Series|
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.
It was published in the print zine First Time #17.
"I spread my hands in ignorance. "The Romulan again looked at Kirk. "Such spirit, such intelligence . . . . The heart of a warrior in the body of a slave? It was just too much of a discrepancy." The black eyes returned to Spock. I do not normally investigate the backgrounds of my slaves. Once they are my property, their past is of no concern to me. But one does not come across the likes of Kazin every day. It took quite a bit of expense to trace previous sales, but I got my answers very quickly. It seems money can be a great time-saving motivator." Travek let his gaze briefly sweep the length of the human's body. "No, he was not a prince, though he carried himself like one."
Reactions and Reviews
I really enjoyed this story. Kirk becoming the slave of a Romulan is handled in a believable and compelling manner. Spock's total devotion to his captain and his willingness to search for him, forever, if necessary, is convincingly portrayed. The characterizations in this story were well developed and the slow pace really held my interest. When Kirk got his memory back and realized what he had been, his reaction was very real and I could feel his shame. I also liked the Romulan Commander and the fact that he couldn't help but fall in love with his human slave. 
Ciana Sepulveda  is one of my favorite authors. Her name assures that I will be happily plunking down my $20. This story is a good example of why I admire her work.
The plot is not unique. Kirk is captured by Orions. mind-wiped and sold into slavery. A Romulan keeps him for you-know-what purposes. Spock determines to track Kirk down and rescue him.
However, Ms. Sepulveda raises the story above its plot by employing her main strengths as a K/S writer-great characterization and tremendous love and commitment between Kirk and Spock.
Since Kirk is the least docile human in literary fiction since Tarzan. he makes an unlikely love slave. However, the author makes his subservience believable by tying it to one of his strongest personality traits—his sense of duty. There is no alteration of character to fit the needs of the story.
Meanwhile, back out in space, Spock is on his lonely year long quest. Driven, dogged and relentless, the Vulcan searches bars and brothels for Kirk. Never does he consider giving up no matter how hopeless it seems.
They find each other and there is a lovely reunion after various problems are surmounted.I recommend it as an excellent read for anyone who likes well-drawn character studies, enduring love and happy endings. My only complaint was that it wasn't longer or have 16 sequels! The art that accompanied the story were incredible Soto drawings. 
This novella is sort of the flip side of PRICE OF FREEDOM, where Kirk, rather than Spock, is the one kidnapped and enslaved. Kirk's memory is completely wiped out, but bits of his basic personality remain intact. However he is given another name (he doesn't remember his own name) and develops another identity. The author carries this transformation effectively and with restraint. My only criticism is that the rescue and healing scenes were a little too rushed. Perhaps this should have been a full-length novel rather than a novella. Also, it once more seems that Kirk's trauma is mostly wiped out by a single act of love-making; the author isn't quite clear about this. I am a sexual abuse survivor, and I know many other survivors, both male and female. Our experience has been that, although an understanding lover can help a lot in healing, it takes time and lots of it to fully heal from the trauma. One act of love can greatly help, but it cannot do the whole job. I hope K/S writers can take this into account when they write sexual abuse/recovery stories. 
This is the only story of Chris' I hadn't read and I anticipated with pleasure doing so, and it was a pleasure.... The story has Kirk being captured, his memories tampered with, and made a slave, and Spock's search for him, and their coming together. It was perfectly done in the beginning, the hints of feelings each has for the other before the incident occurs which wrenches their lives apart.
Although there were some imperfections such as some too-long paragraphs, not-quite-right word choices, or italicized thoughts being a bit too pat or telling, Chris' work always made up for these flaws in the lovely emotional tone—the long, slow, in-depth exploration of feelings.
And the justifications within the scenario were good, which I always appreciate—how to make a story feel realistic enough within the business of space-faring life in the 23rd century. There were no holes left uncovered, yet neither were the explanations all convoluted.
The switching between Kirk's and Spock's POV was done fine. There was also, as Chris usually did, a McCoy I could really be fond of.
I always like the scenario of one of them having no memory. Chris took up a number of challenges in this story, and met each one satisfyingly, as far as I'm concerned. For example, Spock having to quell his feelings when he's finally, after a whole wrenching, draining year of searching "the forests of the night" for his captain...when he's finally with Kirk, and Kirk is a gorgeous, gorgeous bed slave, and Spock has to first gain his trust as a person, before trying to convince Kirk he is not the slave he thinks he is; not to mention keep his vow to himself to finally reveal his love to Kirk. Oh yes, he wants Kirk, badly, but would never allow sexual closeness until Kirk is back in his right mind.
Another challenge taken up here is the degradation of Kirk by his various keepers. We see Kirk desolate, hurt, delirious, after being used by the Orion brokers, and later with his master. But we see only the aftermath, not the explicit scenes. I prefer it this way. It really doesn't lessen the desired impact of this aspect of the story by not showing us explicitly; we get enough of the torment in Kirk's head afterwards to get the point across without having us suffer through the degradation itself.
Meanwhile, Spock's story is a journey also. His year of searching, in disguise, posing as a Romulan, which means he must forego his Vulcan non-emotional facade, etc. And deal with endless disappointments and not give up hope.
Kirk's story is fascinating. His inner spirit is shown so vividly—it reminds me of the clarity I always feel in Chris' drawings. He has no memory of any previous life, yet all the things that make Kirk such a shining example of humanity come through, even though he is a slave with no history.
Of course he is a treasured slave. The Romulan master he finally ends up with, Travek, is nothing less than smitten, and though Kirk is sensual and responsive, Travek is aware of something deep within him which cannot be enslaved. Though he has Kirk in every way, Kirk yet seems to Travek untamed, untouched, innocent. Overwhelming sensuality, yet seeming so virginal. This is nice: a bit later on, Travek hears Kirk laugh with Spock. This is a dagger in his heart, that Kirk would never open up emotionally in this way to him, would never give his innermost spirit, in laughter or in tears.
And Kirk becomes, even though it puts him in personal jeopardy, a champion amongst the other slaves. So very Kirk. "The courage of a warrior, the demeanor of a prince, a body that ignites passion merely by existing." Indeed, indeed.
Spock ends up working on technical equipment at Travek's home. It is a gorgeous moment when he and Kirk finally meet up: Spock working on computer stuff, his back to the door, footsteps coming into the room...knowing those footsteps...his mind reaching out...the familiar, cherished presence.... He turns...his friend...but Kirk shows no recognition.
From this moment, however, Spock's eyes haunt Kirk's dreams, stirring vague memories, stirring desire.... Travek lets Kirk study computers with Spock. He is convinced Spock is so grim and prim, he wouldn't come on to Kirk. As time goes on, there are many electric, silent, unacknowledged moments between them. So, lots of good stuff happens, between Kirk and Spock, between Kirk and his master, and finally, Kirk is convinced Spock is telling the truth about who he really is; and then more exciting stuff, and they escape.
There's a totally cool moment when he and Spock are about to escape, and even though Kirk still doesn't have his memories back of his previous life, they silently, spontaneously, join forces in a physical confrontation and overcome Travek.
A many days' journey through woods, snow, caves with hot pools in them, ah.... Well, I don't need to keep just recounting the story. But all of it was wonderful, the slow process of coming back to themselves again, and to each other, overcoming yet more danger together, and ultimately going back to life on the Enterprise. Nothing was scrimped on, yet nothing felt dwelt on ad nauseam. About Kirk regaining his memories and dealing with what he had been the past year, about Spock having to once and for all profess his love and act on it. A meld figures into this, and it's a very nicely done one. Rich and yet simple, but not abstract.
And saving the best for last...finally the physical expression of their love, after Kirk lays his ghosts to rest. Heart-melting words between them, and nice, nice sex, Spock loving Kirk slowly...And a satisfying little epilogue, back on the ship.... A beautiful journey, reading this. 
This is a gorgeous long story by Ciana Sepulveda, with loads of lovely Chris Soto artwork that really fits the story well. (Note from ye eds: Merry Men Press second editions do not usually have interior artwork.)
Kirk is kidnapped by Orion slavers on his way back from some conference or other. Spock goes off undercover to hunt for him, a process that ends up taking many months. He finally finds him deep inside Romulan territory, the slave of a minor Romulan official of some kind, who is very jealous and possessive of his slave. Spock has to pretend not to recognize the man who he has wanted for his mate for years, though the two of them never discussed such a thing.
When he finally meets Jim, he does not know who Spock is. His memory was destroyed by a drug the slavers gave him; all that he knows is his life in this man's house. And yet, even so, he is still himself in so many ways. He looks out for the other slaves, tries to persuade the master not to harm them, tries to protect those who cannot protect themselves.
Spock is there in his guise as a computer technician, helping to repair major storm damage to the town's systems; so he gets to be around Jim for some time, all the while trying to come up with an escape plan.
At one point Jim comes on to him, though he does not know who he is, he is drawn to this oddly silent Romulan who is so pleasant to be around... And Spock turns him down because he feels as if it would be taking unfair advantage.
Finally they do get away, fleeing overland, heading toward the free port through a vast trackless forest area. Jim finally agreed to escape after his master brutally mistreated him one night. During their journey Jim begins to rebuild himself. He still remembers nothing, but he is determined not to be a slave any more. And finally he talks Spock into a deep meld to try retrieving his memory. It works, but it is painful and difficult for both. Afterwards Jim is very quiet and ashamed of what he had been, while Spock is at a loss as to how he can help. They are attracted still, but neither knows how to reach past all the hurt that lies between them. Finally Spock convinces Jim that he must talk about it, and in doing so he finds a measure of relief.
Finally they reveal their feelings to one another, but Jim is still uneasy, uncomfortable, unable to enjoy physical intimacy. And Spock tells him it does not matter, he will wait as long as it takes, he is just happy Jim is alive and there with him. Ahh, a lovely lovely scene!!
And finally, when they are almost back to Federation space, Jim wakes up one night and realizes, it's time. Now. And he reaches out and wakes Spock up and they make love, another absolutely gorgeous and loving scene. Mmmm, such a lovely story indeed, this one. Yes it has some dark and brutal moments. But the ending more than makes up for it. Loving without being sloppy, sensual and richly textured -- a pleasure indeed, to read such well done work.I wish I knew of other work by this person, I really like this story. 
Listen up when I say this is not a typical slave story. This is not a typical story in any sense of the word. It is nothing less than lyrical, filled with the sort of determination for which only love can be responsible. Yes, Kirk is captured and sold into slavery. Yes, Spock vows to find him no matter how long it takes or what the cost is. But to describe “Forests of the Night” in such a way is like describing the Grand Canyon as a rocky riverbed.
I wish I were better with words so I could convey what makes reading this exquisite story so fulfilling. The writing is superb. Every moment is captured with stunning clarity. Every new character is brought brilliantly to life, and what the author does with Kirk and Spock is genius. For many pages the two are separated, but it never feels that way; there is never that impatient reader’s itch to move things along so they can be together, so you can get to the good parts. All the parts are good, believe me. Everything Kirk endures is told cleanly and clearly without resorting to grossness and we learn stark cruelty is not all that makes a slave a slave. We also come to realize that in any situation, these men are both among the strongest we can imagine. Not physically strong, though that certainly applies at times, but strong willed and true to their convictions, even at the darkest of times.Published in 1988, this must stand at the top of the list of well-written novellas of its type. Liberally sprinkled with Chris Soto’s exceptionally realistic art, it is an adventure and a love story not to be missed. It’s been years since I read it, yet when I saw the title while thumbing through the zine, I remembered the impact it had on me the first time I experienced it. I would love to pull out my thesaurus and find every adjective that applies, but there’d be very few positive ones remaining. A beautiful, inspiring Trek. 
Over the years I've come to not really care for slavefic. Perhaps because, too often, the Kirk and Spock of those stories aren't like the Kirk and Spock I see in the series, especially Kirk, who I could never see as submissive. That is completely not the case with this story.
It starts with the shuttle Kirk is traveling in being hijacked by Orion slavers. Once taken, we get a few examples of what Kirk is being put through as he's conditioned to his new life as a slave. And though he fights back, he, and we, know that it's a losing battle. Spock, meanwhile, has gained Starfleet's permission to begin a search on his own. Traveling from world to world, he picks up what information he can from every town and port he visits. Eventually, he discovers that only one man survived the hijacking and was taken into Romulan territory. That man is either the pilot of the shuttlecraft or Kirk. Not knowing which, Spock's follows the only lead he's had so far. Time goes by. In order to conserve his funds, Spock becomes D'Ral, a drifter who uses his computer expertise to make money and continue his search. During the long months of Spock's search, Kirk has been sold as a pleasure slave to the Romulan lord, Travek. Travek is intrigued by his new slave, and soon finds himself under Kirk's spell. Because while this Kirk, or Kazin, as he is now called, remembers nothing of his former life, his character is still intact, the character that made him the starship captain that he was. Almost a year has passed by the time Spock discovers what planet Kirk is on. And from the description given to him by the slave trader, he knows it's Kirk. Spock travels to the planet, only to find that the slave blocks are closed for the day. Being low on funds, he decides to use the time to look for work. If he is to buy his captain back from whoever now owns him, he will need all the money he can get his hands on. In that year, Kazin has grown accustom to his life as a slave—as well as someone of his disposition can. A sense of duty, strong in Kirk, is just as strong in Kazin. But instead of running a starship, Kazin has taken it upon himself to watch over the other slaves, to protect them as well as he can from their master. He uses sex, the only weapon at his command. Then fate intervenes. The job D'Ral finds is in the home of Kazin's owner. In a moment both joyous and heartbreaking, D'Ral meets Kazin. Spock's search is over, but he is left with a dilemma. He knows Kirk, but to Kazin he is a stranger. But Kazin is intrigued by the stranger and talks Travek into letting him watch D'Ral at his work. Working close together, their rapport still there, the two men cannot but unconsciously reach for each other. Finally, one night Kazin comes to D'Ral. And D'Ral almost succumbs, until he remembers that he is Spock and this is his friend, Kirk. He can't use him that way. So instead he tells him the truth of who they are. But Kazin does not remember. He promises not to tell on Spock, but he needs time to think. It is time he isn't given. When Travek returns from a meeting, Kazin realizes that his master has ingested an aphrodisiac. Upset at Kazin's interest in D'Ral, Travek punishes Kazin by repeatedly raping him. And in the morning he plans on sending D'Ral away. When Kazin tells Spock what Travek plans, Spock insists that they leave that night. With the knowledge that he was not able to keep a slave from being sold, Kazin agrees. But their plans are interrupted by Travek's return. He attempts to kill Spock but Spock manages to nerve-pinch him. While Travek is unconscious, Spock and Kazin make their escape. It's a long and arduous journey to a neutral trade city on the planet. Adding to his difficulties, Kazin wants Spock to meld with him in order to attempt to retrieve his memories. Spock refuses at first, but after several days finally gives in. When it is done, Kirk is Kirk once again. But now he has the memories, not only of his life as Kirk, but of his life as a pleasure slave. Now their journey is even more difficult as Kirk tries to come to terms with what had been done to him. He knows Spock loves him; he saw it in the meld. But it's hard for him to let go of what was done to him, what he was. Still, he's awed by the fact the Spock still loves him and will always be at his side. Finally, they reach their destination where luck finally turns their way and they find passage off planet. They travel from world to world, getting closer to home with each ship boarded. On the night before they enter Federation space, Kirk is finally able to let go of the memories of his ordeal and he and Spock come together. Back home, the Enterprise awaits.I've hit many, but not all, of the highlights of this story. It's a long, beautiful story that portrays Kirk and Spock just as I like to see them: brave, true to each other, whether in friendship or love, and with the integrity that's so much a part of who they are. I highly recommend it. 
- from The LOC Connection #11
- The editors note that this is a pen name for Chris Soto
- from The K/S Press #11
- from The LOC Connection #3
- from The K/S Press #17
- The editors of The K/S Press interject: "Note from ye eds: The late great Chris Soto was not only a skilled artist, she also wrote some wonderful K/S stories under the names Ciana Sepulveda and Ciana Mitchell.
- from The K/S Press #41
- from The K/S Press #133
- from The K/S Press #178