The Measure of Success
|Title:||The Measure of Success|
|Fandom:||Star Trek: The Original Series|
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It was published in the print zine Against All Odds.
"While Kirk and Spock deal with a load of Romulan prisoners, theyʼre notified that at the end of the mission Kirk is to be promoted to Admiral and Spock to the captaincy, effectively parting the lovers."
Spock had called it Oneness. Kirk liked the sound of that. "Yes - I want to do it," he said."We will." Spock sounded certain. "But at present it is too dangerous for an… unmarried couple to attempt." Kirk retrieved a hand to wipe the dampness from his upper lip. Marriage. It was a subject they had not discussed - as was logical, for two who had been lovers only two months, he told himself. Especially two who served in the same chain of command. He decided to drop the subject. "Okay, Spock." "Forgive me, Jim," Spock said, bending his head. "I did not intend to disturb our… island in time."
Reactions and Reviews
What a terrific story! This tale gripped me from its beginning to its very satisfying conclusion and had me turning pages in a frenzy to find out what happened next.
It starts with a bang. Literally. The Enterprise finds itself in a battle with a cloaked Romulan ship on the Federation side of the Neutral Zone. The battle won, the enemy ship captured, Kirk and company take the Romulan crew prisoners, thus earning their commander, Setal's undying hatred for the loss of honor; he and his men were not allowed to "go to the fire".
Setal manages to break free of the brig using his telepathic abilities that would have cost him his life on Romulus, He also feels tremendous guilt that his lover, a woman who looks very much like Spock, was killed for possessing this same skill. The differences between Vulcan and Romulan culture were explored in a detailed and very interesting manner.
I don't want to reveal too much of the plot; that would spoil it for others, but among the many details I liked were: the realistic techno-babble, the absolutely right-on characterizations of both Kirk and Spock, neither too weak, nor too strong. These are career military men who know their jobs, and have found a personal relationship that enhances their abilities rather than diminishing them in any way. I adored how the growing love between them was compared to an often read poem and how they "peeled back the deeper layers' of that poem as their relationship progressed. Lovely.
In the first of three (yes, three) sex scenes Kirk notes that he only sees the perspiration that beads Spock's upper lip during lovemaking, and how that is a very special private thing between them. Umm,.. Fantastic!
And then there's Admiral Zil... What a marvelous character! Kirk calls him a pompous fool. I call him totally endearing. His use of malapropisms such as "...cat got your tongue tied" and "It will be a sad day in Tipperary" made me laugh out loud. Although a comic figure, he is also a wise and compassionate being, and I appreciated ncj seeing him portrayed in a stereotypically unsympathetic manner. From his physical description, though humanoid, 1 got the impression he had alien characteristics, striped yellow eyes, herringbone patterned skin, etc. I wondered why he was portrayed as an Alpha Centurian. Zefrem Cochrane was very human in appearance. Are there different races in this star system? In any case, I would love to see Admiral Zil again. Please, J S?
Also on page 54, there's a reference to Tareth's brother Gal. "Gal, who should have been the one." The one what? Was killed? Why? There was no further reference to this character. I would be interested in finding out the story behind this remark. And when Setal says "Then the fabled Vulcan bonding does exist?" Spock answers, "It is not as the fables would paint it, nor do we refer to such a thing as a 'bonding',..." They don't'??
I thought the conclusion was marvelously thought out. Spock and Kirk survive and save the ship because of what each has learned from the other, how their differences combine to create a new understanding in each of them. Wonderful!The narrative flows so effortlessly. What a delight! Not just the story, but also being able to watch as this fine writer hones her skills-Super job! 
I hold the view and have heard it expressed by others-there is nothing so fine as getting to see James Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise in action, shining at their best, doing their jobs with the decency and excellence we expect from them. There is also nothing so sexy as Kirk and Spock in rapport, reading each others minds, a team.
Is it any wonder I loved this story?
Outwardly, it's a very straightforward tale with a clear plot; a Romulan nasty with a grudge on board, determined to get out of the bhg and blow up the ship. But underneath the deceptively simple exterior-what a bounty of delights! Dialogue that practically crackles off the page, it's so well-paced. Gorgeous little touches of K/S interaction that speak volumes in a few words. A Kirk and Spock so perfectly drawn that I could hear and see every line being delivered. Hot sex, backrubs, near-death... what more could a girl ask?
What do I mean, by speaking volumes in a few words, you may ask? How about this: "God, I thought he'd never stop talking." Kirk hit the privacy lock and slumped against the inside of Spock's door. He let his eyes close in the reddish dimness. A faint scent of musky spice—Vulcan incense-touched his nostrils. The Vulcan's long fingers settled gently on Kirks shoulders, then pressed more firmly. "There is much tension." Eyes still closed, Kirk smiled in spite of himself. "You just want to get me out of my clothes," he teased.
There were about a zillion good things crammed in here, and re-reading it made me realize just how rich the story is. Kirk and Spock are so in love with each other, and at the same time so quintessential^ themselves-which is the essence of a good K/S story for me. Also, I adored the double jeopardy plotline, the threat of the Romulan prisoner so wonderfully wound up with the threat of Admiral Zil, a well-meaning guy who wants to promote our fair captain off the Enterprise—without Spock!
Speaking of the Admiral, what a great character. It seems he's fond of the human art of the idiom—but hasn't actually mastered it yet. Loved the comic relief;
The admiral sighed loudly. "Sticks and stones will break the camel's back," he warned the Romulan. He looked at Kirk. "It appears you can take the boy out of the Empire, but you cannot take the starch out of his-" "Yes, sir," Kirk said quickly. "Shall we move on?"
Snort! This guy was too much fun... I found myself hoping he'd show up in some more stories down the road.
The most perfect thing of all about The Measure of Success is the resolution, which I cannot give away-but I was literally cheering at the end. (Okay, so it was just a quiet, yet fervent, 'YES!") As I've been struggling with the issue mysetf, I know how difficult a task it is to set up a story with multiple, parallel plot threads and get them to come together neatly at the end-never mind trying to make the resolution a satisfying and well-integrated one. This author makes it look effortless.It's not often that you find a story thafs got humor, action, hot sex, intense emotion, delicious love, fun guest characters, danger... well. I always enjoy JSC's stuff, but this was the best the best, the best. 
Aside from being a credible adventure, this is one Incredible love story! A fine blend of action, suspense and awesome tenderness.
It is in some subtle way a different touch that J.S. puts on her interaction between—who else?—Kirk and Spock That riveting ability to communicate without words is there, and so is a more overt method, exemplified by the scene in which they've just been faced with the totally unexpected offer of promotion and resulting separation. Spock waits until the briefing room clears, depresses the lock, then extends his hands to Kirk, offering whatever measure of love his Captain wishes. "Oh, God, Spock..." is all the human can say as he reaches for those supporting arms. They allow themselves a healing embrace before duty once again demands their attention.
It is like this throughout, little snippets everywhere, always entirely appropriate and so very, very, true to both characters. These many special moments are made more dear because of their fleeting nature. And there are longer moments just as fine.
A scene that will forever live in my storehouse of special K/S moments occurs when the Enterprise engineering section has been commandeered by a captured Romulan who possesses extraordinary melding capabilities. Still struggling with the possibility of promotion splitting them, Kirk finds he must authorize his love to enter the chamber and do battle with the Romulan. Knowing the result may be the loss of Spock's intellect, Kirk is agonized when Spock looks to him for permission to enter. Their eyes met, and suddenly no one else was there. Just the two of them, with Spock about to go inside, maybe, this time, to die. "Jim, I must," was all Spock said aloud. But his eyes said, I love you. Remember. Kirk nodded, feeling the stone in his gut heave ominously, like an earth tremor. "Go, Spock." And his words were also love."
In his mind, waiting outside the chamber, Kirk sees what may be the awful consequences. He sees Spock lying still, his eyes open and unseeing, his mind gone and thinks, "That unbearably beautiful, fine mind". With his own mind, he goes to Spock doing his best to lend his own strength to the battle waging on the other side of the bulkhead.
When they finally gain access, Kirk sees only Spock, lying much as he envisioned, still and unresponsive. He pays no attention to the activity surrounding him, dropping to his knees at Spock's side, his eyes on the beloved face: Kirk hugged Spock to him, not caring what anyone would think "Spock! Oh, my God, Spock" Please, God, no! Please don't take him from m e now. Then the eyes reveal sanity, recognition: "Jim." McCoy tries to separate them, but Kirks hangs on, "I thought I'd lost him," he said. McCoy's answer "Uh-huh."Absolutely without a doubt one of the best K/S stories ever.