Shadow Play (Star Trek: TOS story by Elise Madrid)

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K/S Fanfiction
Title: Shadow Play
Author(s): Elise Madrid
Date(s): 2003
Length:
Genre: slash
Fandom: Star Trek: The Original Series
External Links: online here

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Shadow Play is a K/S story by Elise Madrid.

It was published in the print zine Legends #3.

Summary

"Kirk and Spock of the ISS Enterprise struggle with the after effects of the transporter accident. This is a different view of the “Mirror” universe."

Reactions and Reviews

I thought this was a very enjoyable Mirror story.

As usual, Elise has come up with a very intriguing and imaginative plot. And despite being set in the Mirror universe, there is very little violence in this story, which is always a plus for me. The story starts in the transporter room of the ISS Enterprise, immediately after the Mirror Kirk and the rest of the landing party materialize in their own universe. After finding out Spock knows the secret of the Tantalus field, Kirk spares Spock’s life after Spock pledges his loyalty to him. I always wondered what happened when Mirror Kirk returned to his universe, and I thought this opening section of the story was very believable.

Later, Kirk contemplates everything that happened, and acknowledges that he likes and trusts Spock and really wants his friendship. Kirk had trusted Spock from the moment he first met him, but now realizes that he is tired of being isolated by his position as Captain, and needs a friend. Again, the events during the episode Mirror, Mirror would definitely have changed the relationship between Mirror Kirk and Mirror Spock, and that’s something I usually enjoy reading about in Mirror stories. Elise makes Kirk’s actions a plausible outcome of the events in the episode.

The story nicely shows how Kirk woos the Vulcan into being his friend with carefully planned encounters for meals, chess games, etc. Six weeks later, Kirk saves Spock’s life by killing Sulu with the Tantalus field, and they discuss their close friendship, and that they are t’hy’la to each other. Spock tells Kirk the complete meaning of the term, but in this case it is the friend and brother part that is applicable. They are not lovers and do not desire that their relationship move in that direction.

Their experiences while on a planet on a mission show how very close the two have grown, and how they have to be careful to keep it hidden from their guards, and in fact from everyone in their world. It would make them too vulnerable. One thing I thought was really interesting was that this was the first time they had gone on a mission together. That definitely makes sense in the Mirror universe, and in fact Spock loses an argument with Kirk about this, as Spock feels it is not wise for them both to be gone from the Enterprise at the same time. (And I loved Spock’s line to Kirk as they leave the bridge: “I have heard much of your unique style in regards to landing party procedure.“)

The mission set up was also interesting, since it was the Mirror version of the planet in the episode “Bread and Circuses”. (I have only seen this episode a few times, and not recently, so it took me a while to figure out that the planet was the one in the Bread and Circuses episode. That resulted in me being a bit confused about why Kirk would think that they could find where the Kirk compound had been on Earth, until I figured out that this planet was the one in Bread and Circuses, and that planet was physically identical to Earth. ) And it was quite an interesting idea to have Kirk and Spock’s worlds believe in multiple gods, such as the ancient Greek and Roman gods. (Although I wonder why both Kirk and Spock’s cultures had the same belief in gods? It doesn’t seem likely to me that Vulcans would have the exact same beliefs about something like this. Perhaps this idea could have been expanded on a bit, rather than being a passing reference in the story.)

This belief in gods ties into the treatment of the Empire in this story. I never really thought much about the Empire in the Mirror Universe, but Elise puts little things in her narrative that makes it clear that in her story, the Roman Empire never fell in the Mirror Universe. Besides the belief in gods, there’s things like Kirk’s birthplace being a Roman sounding name : Urbs Tumulorum. Or Kirk using “Hades” rather then “Hell” (such as “What in Hades.”) Or Kirk’s slang terms using Roman phrases (Such as “We grow the finest wheat and barley this side of the Rubicon.” or “You can take the Celt out of Britannia...”) I don’t think I’ve seen this idea used before in a Mirror story, and it’s very creative.

Being the Mirror universe, this planet is very different than the one in Bread and Circuses, and the fate of the SS Beagle is also very different. It turns out the Beagle was destroyed by the Orions, and during the mission Kirk is abducted by Orions and held for four days. What was done to him while in captivity, in order to make him a good sex slave, alters him forever and also changes his relationship with Spock forever. The Orions attempted to make Kirk desire males, but instead his platonic love for Spock was changed so that he is now in love with Spock. Kirk is terrified that he will lose his friendship with the Vulcan if Spock finds out. Elise very satisfactorily resolves Kirk’s dilemma as the story concludes.

I’ll finish this LOC by saying that I don’t know if I’d like this premise too much if it were used in a regular ST story rather than the Mirror universe. I wouldn’t like to think that Kirk would never have loved Spock as more than a friend, without the help of the Orions and their conditioning. I mean, that’s why we are K/S fans; we see a much more intense relationship than normal friendship in the relationship depicted between Kirk and Spock in the show and movies. But for me, a Mirror story is different somehow. I know some people don’t really like Mirror stories much because the characters are not “our” Kirk and Spock. My favorite Mirror stories are those that include the Spock and Kirk from our universe. But I do also enjoy Mirror stories that feature only the Mirror counterparts, as long as they are not too brutal. I find it interesting to see how the author portrays the similarities and differences between the Mirror characters, and their counterparts in our universe, and Elise did that in a very creative and unusual way in this story. [1]
"Shadow Play" picks up right after Kirk's, Uhura's and Scotty's counterparts have been returned to our Universe in "Mirror, Mirror", and at first I didn't expect this story to be so involved as it is. It's a slow transformation of the characters from the hostile and near-maniacal Kirk we see in "Mirror, Mirror" to a captain much more like "ours". I thoroughly enjoyed the slow escalation of Kirk's and Spock's feelings for one another, the development of their relationship from hostile to friends and eventually on to something more. There are certain aspects of the story that I found to be somewhat sad, but that's a personal reflection, and I won't go into detail so as not to spoil any fun for potential readers. [2]

Let me first say that my expectations always drop a few notches when I realize a story takes place in the Mirror universe. Except for Kirk's attire, the televised episode isn't even one of my favorites. But I know this author is one of the best to join the ranks in a long time, so I plunged ahead.

Almost immediately it was apparent this was going to be different. While Mirror Kirk is angry upon return from "our" universe, he isn't cruel and he seems to have a genuine, though unacknowledged affinity with his First Officer. Well, maybe it is acknowledged, because he admits to himself that he does "like" Spock. And then to my great surprise, he contemplates what it would be like to have Spock for a friend.

After awhile Spock begins to admit to himself if what his Captain is offering is friendship, it might be worthwhile. These characters are structured in such a way that they are distinct from their counterparts in the "real" universe, yet they have the same basic inner strengths and hopes. Their world is harsh and they must live within its confines or perish, yet they are Kirk and Spock.

The curiosity Mirror Kirk has about their counterparts is very revealing. He wonders if they might share that rare connection his Spock calls t'hy'la. Yes, this is a Kirk I can believe in.

Falling in love in this plane of existence has its own pitfalls—the pair must not even allow the crew to know of their friendship as it weakens their image and their defenses.

All this is but a prelude to an intriguing underlying plot involving a planet eerily similar to Terra, but suffering from its inhabitants' reckless disregard. Pollution is the norm here, the air unclean, the water unsafe and the people uncaring of it all. There's a powerful and sobering message here.

The two principals are caught up first in planetary conflicts and then the Captain is whisked off the planet by Orions. This Spock proves as relentless as our own in rescuing his friend.

It is a personal crisis that eventually seals their fate. Their solution is a familiar one, but these are still Mirror inhabitants and it is not difficult to see the differences in the well-drawn and most interesting characters. Their future is an open slate.

Once again, it is clear that a story of any kind written by an author who has an abiding love and fathomless understanding of Kirk and Spock constitutes K/S at its best. [3]
Now, let me just say up front that I have never been a fan of mirror!verse at all. I am not into the violence and excessive cruelty that most of this genre is comprised of, so imagine my surprise when I came across some mirror fics in which that is not the case at all... adow Play (TOS) by Elise Madrid. "Kirk and Spock found a world where Rome never fell on Planet 892-IV. Their Mirror counterparts found one where it did." Slow building friendship fic that turns into angst and then first-time pronz with bonding. [4]

This was a really engaging story, you know how it is if you read a lot of K/S — most stories are kinda good, but one or two stand out — well this stood out. It was the first K/S I've read for a while which I stayed up late to finish! This is a very unusual mirror universe story, in which Kirk gradually and convincingly softens towards Spock and they develop an intense friendship. I love that the story takes the time to build this friendship, which to me is crucial to the development of the sexual relationship. At first it seems that in this universe Kirk and Spock are simply not interested in taking their relationship to a sexual level, they are close, but not physically attracted to each other. This is such a curious place to take a K/S story that I was really engaged and it really made me think about the whole friendship vs. lovers question. I felt that this was an area that I have rarely if even seen explored in K/S — where Kirk and Spock are generally pretty easily able to come to find each other desirable. Now, you'll be relived to know this is not where the story ends. Firstly something happens to make Kirk desire Spock — I won't spoil it but this is another unique plot device! Now we have Kirk desiring Spock and scared witless by the vulnerable position this puts him in with a Spock who just doesn't fancy Kirk! Kirk feels that friendship can never become attraction—again a rather unique position to see in a K/S story, he says "There's a world of difference between friendship and what I feel for you now. It can't be the same for us anymore." But rest assured that Elise has a solution to that too, and Kirk and Spock end up happy and together in all ways.

This story really stood out for me because it explores some very unusual aspects of Kirk and Spock's relationship in very unusual ways. If you get to thinking that everything that can be said in K/S has been said 50 different ways, read this unusual story and prove yourself wrong! Oh and it's well written and all too, at least as far as this non-writer can tell! [5]

References

  1. from The K/S Press #91
  2. from The K/S Press #92
  3. from The K/S Press #96
  4. from Past and Present Intertwined - Star Trek Kirk/Spock fic recs post, posted February 28, 2010, accessed June 19, 2013
  5. from The K/S Press #90