The Price (Star Trek: TOS story)
|Fandom:||Star Trek: The Original Series|
|External Links:||The Price|
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Online now, it was first published in the K/S slash anthology The Price and The Prize, see that page for more of this story's history and its context within the print zine.
Part of a Series
"An ancient artifact brings death to the Enterprise after it is unknowingly brought back with Spock and the rescued landing party."
"“The Price” by Syn Ferguson, is the prequel to one of K/S’s defining novels: Courts of Honor
A synopsis of “The Price”: Spock and a landing party are sent on a mission to the planet Ixmahx while the Enterprise attends to other business. Both the Federation and the Romulan Empire are interested in an artifact of the Ixmahx culture called the Wielda Harfax or Crown of Light. Along with granting great power, wealth and long life, it also corrupts the wearer and turns him to evil. It now is calling to the Speaker—the leader of the planet—who has asked for Federation help.
Captured by S’Tyge, the Romulan commander sent to acquire the artifact, Spock and his party are to be tortured until they reveal the time of the Enterprise’s return. S’Tyge also rapes Spock as personal revenge for shaming his cousin, the Romulan commander of the Star Trek episode “The Enterprise Incident.”
With the help of the Speaker and a hidden weapon, Spock and the landing party escape. They set out to capture the Wielda and destroy it. Time is short. Because of its great power, the Enterprise will be forced to destroy the planet and all its inhabitants rather than let the artifact fall into the wrong hands.
After a cataclysmic battle, Spock and the remains of the landing party are beamed aboard the Enterprise. Unfortunately so is the Wielda. And then people start dying on the ship. Because of the rape, Spock prematurely enters pon farr. Kirk catches Spock trying to leave the ship and they engage in oral sex. Spock is temporarily sated. It buys them the time they need to catch the killer. Afterward they finally make love. With pon farr over, Spock, in agony that he can no longer feel sexual desire for his captain, and Kirk, now desperately in love with the Vulcan, must return to their previous relationship. 
The Author's Own Words
[Did] I wrote “The Price” with the idea of a sequel in mind? No. I had written “Freedom is Standing in the Light” which still had no sex in it. I think I’d also written “Valley of Shadows.” No sex again. I think I wrote “The Price” as my way in to a universe where Kirk and Spock could be lovers. Anyway, I remember it took me a while. There was a big, big question mark in my mind for a long time as to whether I could write sex scenes at all, much less sex scenes that anyone would want to read after reading Gayle’s. I felt the territory had been pretty well covered. 
Reactions and Reviews
I find the ending of "The Price" a little bit fishy. I mean, isn't it just a little odd that a race with as much control over their body functions as was demonstrated they had by Spock's self-inducted near-suspended animation in the episode "By Any Other Name" is unable to "get in the mood" if they want to? That ending always comes across to me like Spock is selling Kirk a bill of goods. I'm waiting for Courts of Honor to see if I'm right or not. 
I, too, lost respect for Spock in the ending of [The Price], In fact, I found him despicable. And it was all so unnecessary for it was easy to have the surprise ending and Spock in character. And you are right — surprise endings should be in line with the context of the story, not that it should be happening at all, 
Syn Ferguson has probably come the closest of any fan writer to convincing me that she's writing about the real Kirk (on the bridge and in the briefing room as well as in the bedroom), but there were a couple of things that kept "The Price" from being, for me at least, the "real thing" in first-time stories. First was a plot that sprawled all over the place — Syn threw everything but the kitchen sink into that story. (I like the idea of a first time taking place within the context of an adventure-type story; chances are that it would happen that way in their own reality. I just wish the plot in "The Price" had been more focused and less episodic.) After a multitude of events unrelated to Kirk's and Spock's relationship, suddenly, in the middle of the story, wham-O! Spock goes into pon farr. Kirk takes appropriate action, and a series of luscious erotic scenes follows. And then, on the last page, a whole new story begins...well, this isn't the place to go into a discussion of the famous ending of "The Price." There just wasn't enough buildup to explain why Kirk fell in love with Spock so easily and so deeply — and there should have been, considering the length of the story and the skill of the writer. Another distraction was the presence of a young male crew-member that Kirk was shown having the hots for — presumably he was there as a surrogate for Spock, to help Kirk work out his feelings about loving another man — and also to create an incipient triangle that was never really worked out — but I would have preferred it if the story had concentrated on the development of Kirk's feelings for Spock, not just any old Joe T'Shmoe. 
I interpreted the ending of THE PRICE a little differently. I thought maybe Spock honestly didn't know until after the pon farr was over that he would not henceforth be able to feel desire outside the condition. Perhaps this was because he'd had some evidence, in his encounters with Leila and Zarabeth, that his Human half would enable him to be sexually active out of PF as well as in it. Perhaps the only reason he was able to perform during those incidents was that he was under the influence (various influences), but he didn't know that was the reason. Or, perhaps his sexuality was so deeply buried before the PF that he didn't know what he was supposed to feel, if he could feel it, until after his first (unaborted) PF had been consummated. This depends on what you think was happening with Leila and Zarabeth. 
Your explanation of why Spock might not feel desire outside of port farr is quite plausible. However, none of that was in "THE PRICE" nor was it even hinted at. Readers should not be kept in the dark as to what the author is saying, especially something as important to the story as that. I still feel that considering the expertise Syn shows in her writing, even in that story, that "The Price" is ultimately very poorly written. 
If I'm not mistaken, this is the prequel to Courts of Honor. Lots of people probably really liked this, but then lots really liked COH, whereas I wouldn't call it my favorite. This is a richly written long story, and there were a lot of really fine passages, even lots that was moving emotionally; but mostly what I'm left with after reading this is how I had to weed through lots and lots and lots of stuff that felt to me like very gen Trek. As many of us have, I've read tons of gen Trek, and that's not my reading preference now. I want much more K/S in my K/S than this story had. Maybe there was K/S but only much later toward the end. It's fine to show a long progression of how their feelings for each other begin and develop (and in that sense there wouldn't be any overt K/S in the beginning of such a story), but I didn't get that sense here. I felt instead I had to read this whole ST story with lots going on but no hint of feelings between Kirk and Spock. Besides which, there were lots of times I just didn't get what was even going on. So there's this character, Dray T'Serek, a gorgeous young crewman. He's a "Guthrie," and everyone seems to understand that this makes him highly attractive and desirable, and everyone does desire him. In the opening scene, Kirk is finding himself obsessed with this guy. Yet there's no hint of Kirk's feeling anything for Spock.
Then there's Nadia, an older lab chief who Kirk likes and has sex with, in a nice, comfortable kind of way. And still no hint of his feelings for Spock. There are other crew members, too, involved in the scenario. We're given some amount of information about them and the quirks of their personalities and relationships, but as the story continued I was feeling there were way, way too many details about the mission and how it fits into Federation policy and about technology and things like that; and all this stuff was not only getting in the way of anything having to do with Kirk and Spock's relationship, but also it was overpowering any kind of meaningful psychological look at the other characters' situations that I might have gotten interested in.
There were so many too-long scenes. I guess I just don't want to read a gen- Trek novel where I have to search through Federation politics and technology for tiny snatches of K/S. (Though again, yes, we are rewarded later in this story with full-on K/S.)
There's a mission to Ixmahx, and this got to the point where I couldn't figure out what was going on and I certainly wasn't having an easy time visualizing anything. There's a man there, Goren, the keeper of some artifact with powers. And later some "monster" or "creature" seems to come into the picture but I certainly never got a picture of it, and I was confused with the names of the artifact and its having something to do with the "monster."
As to Kirk and Spock.... Here's Kirk having feelings for this Dray guy, and when he sends Dray with Spock on the mission, he wonders if there could be something between Spock and Dray. And at some crucial, dramatic K/S moments later in the story, it seems that Dray comes into both their considerations about each other in a way that mystified me--like why is he so important? We know Kirk had the hots for him; and it was never quite clear, but I think Dray was distinctly enamored of Spock, and maybe of Kirk, too?
When Dray dies, though, this is one of many gorgeously written passages, Spock's words and dignified Vulcan tenderness with Dray dying in his arms. And later, at Dray's funeral service, there is a really beautiful Guthrie "prayer," besides beautiful words as Spock sheds some tears in Kirk's arms.
But back to the plot, Romulans are also involved, the clan from whom the cloaking device had been stolen. They cruelly rape Spock. They also want this artifact, a "crown" called the "wielda." Obviously it has some kind of weapons potential.
Spock and Goren and the rest of the Enterprise party manage to escape the Romulans. From here are the labyrinthine scenes of escaping through this place--underground caves and a laboratory or something in a volcanic crater. All in order to destroy the crown or whatever, maybe destroy the whole place, which is being engulfed by lava anyway...and to flee the Romulans and hopefully kill them. And to kill the creature (what creature? I kept asking myself; I guess the one responsible for when we saw a bunch of dead Romulans).
Finally all this is over. End of mission. Now we get to deal with Kirk and Spock, with Spock's recovery from his rape ordeal, with Kirk feeling guilty about some things, I'm not sure.
But now it seems the "monster" is on board--what? Maybe a shape-changer? Kirk even suspects Spock. Crewpeople are being killed. Even at the end when the scenes of capturing and destroying the monster are supposed to be all dramatic, there was too many words there, too. Too-lengthy detail. Turns out the killer was one of the crewmen who was on the mission, with the "wielda" as a helmet. Oh.
A great, tense scene with Kirk and Spock, Kirk forcing Spock to say what happened to him. And a fabulous drunken self-recrimination scene by Kirk. They finally actually come together because Spock's in pon farr. Good, great, gorgeous scenes, written beautifully, slowly, fully. Some nice pain-to- pleasure-to-joy stuff. There's a place, though, where it feels false to me that this Spock would do some slightly "kinky" stuff, making Kirk watch himself undress in front of a mirror and smacking his butt, etc. But it's delicious sex.
Sometimes in Kirk's thoughts it's not written very clearly. I didn't get what his secret is from Spock--that he had the hots for Dray? Or what his guilt is about. But eventually, he has never felt greater satisfaction, for freeing Spock of the fever, saving his life.
There's a very sad ending, where Spock is apparently without desire now, and Kirk squares his shoulders and goes on to be the captain. With this ending, it's good there's a whole novel to follow.I'm not coming from a sound-bite mentality--I love the long, rich, slow 18th century type of writing--but in this story (and in COH), even if the plot were engaging, I think writing that's so thick and dense is just difficult to get through. An economy of words, I think, is a desirable thing. She says, after a two-page LOC. 
Spurred by [Carolyn S's] convincing recommendation that I get off my duff and read Courts of Honor after years of procrastination, I opened it up and learned there was a prequel: The Price. So I turned to my old, yellowish, photocopied zine and began to read, having no idea what to expect.
The Price is written with excellent style, vivid characterization and has a well-considered and very fast-moving plot. For some reason, I‘d developed the idea that Ms. Ferguson‘s writing style was somewhat ponderous, but I found no evidence of that here.
It‘s always a sure sign of a good author when I immediately become interested in a new character and this was the immediate reaction I had to Dray T‘serek, a new security recruit from a heavy gravity planet. He‘s such an attractive man that he‘s turning heads all over the ship, but seems somewhat removed from all the fuss he‘s created. With typical Kirk insight and charm, our captain soon gets to the bottom of it and is instantly sympathetic. Knowing the young man‘s feelings and complexities only makes the reader like him more. Characterization of Kirk, Spock and McCoy is also as accurate as a laser, their dialogue a sheer joy to read.
When Spock heads a landing party to a planet that has more secrets than T‘serek, things begin to get even more interesting. This is much like watching an all-new episode of TOS, probably a three-parter, though, because nothing is glossed over for the sake of brevity. Action begins to unfold almost from the moment they land and the reader is riveted to the page. Attacked and injured, the group takes refuge in the subterranean conduits of a volcano and the tension mounts. Kirk in the meantime has a fight of a different nature with the Starfleet bureaucracy. Unsurprisingly, he wins, and is on his way to rescue the landing party in spite of what seem to be insurmountable odds. Believe it or not, this is only the very beginning of this rousing adventure. It‘s liberally laced with the emotional and sexual sparks that fly between Kirk and Spock and nothing here is left to the imagination.There is excitement, suspense, sizzling sex, tragedy, ties to the series and just about everything you could wish for in a K/S story. When I came to the end of it, I could hardly wait to continue the thread that leads unerringly into Courts of Honor. You will, of course, hear about that a (2009) </ref>
It is written so different compared to now..I was glued to this to the very end....I enjoyed the fact that at the beginning Jim had no clue really that he was interest in Spock...only later we see he would do anything for him...he keeps saying ...Take what you need Spock....what a beautiful ending ...and I felt so bad for what had happened to Spock but he has his t'hy'la to make him forget all the pain and embrace the good in humanity... 
What a superb story! A very interesting plot with very well-drawn and believable other characters. Dray especially was wonderful. I love stories with a good plot and this had absolutely everything. You are a wonderful writer! Is there any chance that we might get to read the legendary sequel? I'm definitely adding you to my "I'll read anything you write" author category! Thanks so much for posting this. 
Still can't figure out why Kirk thinks anal sex without lube is supposed to be a good thing. Hasn't he heard of Crisco? Or poppers? (*or getting super-drunk...* 8-p seriously, nobody should follow these suggestions. Ever. Except for the lube part.)
I guess Vulcans do it every 7 years because it takes that long for their partners to recover. Haw haw.
Actually, I really like the themes of this story: love, honor, control. But I think I mentally blotted it out because of that sex scene. I mean, srsly? Wow, Kirk, I always took you for kinky, but that is pretty extreme even for me. Dang.
And I'm still confused about what happened to kill Hillis and Craven. Something about the Wielda, Goren's weapon, abandoned cavevolcano dwellings, and the crew getting separated. But other than that, I have no flaming idea.
Your Kirk and Spock are very in character, IHMO. And the hunt on the ship was well-done. Spock is a logical suspect... in fact, I think Kirk suspects him from the beginning.... I ran into a word I didn't know and was disappointed because I'd have to tear myself away from the story to go on the computer to look it up. Then I remembered I was on the computer. I love the internet.
I did read this story once before in The Price and the Prize (the print zine) but I had forgotten most of what happened... and I had forgotten the very unique writing style. Enjoying the punny little sentences.One thing that does strike me about the difference in eras is that I wonder if we'd be so nonchalant about the captain sleeping around with the crew (even if we're talking about an older lady). There's something approaching paranoia about work situations these days. In the 50's big companies used to have mixers for their single employees!! Today I work with a couple, had one spouse received a promotion the other would have had to resign. I've always thought Star Trek told us (Americans) a lot about who we are and who we were--including "Enterprise". 
I have been dodging this story a few times now, I am not a big fan of OC's and rarely indulge in reading any story that supports them. But this story did get very good reviews so I decided to give it a try.
I will start by saying that personally, for me, you are an excellent writer and you deserve every ounce pf praise that is given to you on that account. I love your writing style; it is effortless to read, it flows and you get drawn into the story with this writing, really ten out of ten for this. Just AMAZING!
But I was very disappointed and extremely annoyed at the character Dray T'serek.
I will endeavour to explain why.
First off he has no character to speak of, no real personality, he's an excuse to make all the other people crazy with lust and make them do stupid things. While he is blissfully unaware of this, which makes it a very convenient excuse for him to do as he pleases and have no REAL consequences whatsoever.
He gets tossed from ship to ship? No real problem he's nineteen and he's better at command than Kirk and Spock put together.
He is moody. But only to such an extent that everyone has pity for him. He is sharp in that he is sharper than the scientists, probably more intelligent if I'm guessing where this story is going and he is much better than Kirk strength, wits and leader ability. Which irked me to no end.
If you want to create a new race, think them through carefully. In the whole part I read I could not see one fault in Dray T'serek.
The reason why the Vulcan's work is because they sacrificed so much in order to be who they are. They gave up emotion to prevent themselves from destroying each other. They are strong, yes and they can be vicious, but they never (or almost never) use this to their advantage.
They have faults, faults we love, but faults nonetheless.
Remember this when trying to create a new race. The way that this is going? Their race can take over the galaxy no problem, there's just no competition. It's boring, painful to read and quite frankly I'm starting to wish he'll end up in some horrible accident and suffer brain damage.
At least that would balance out the field... somewhat.
I know I'm being harsh and I give you every right to go to my story and do exactly the same to me. I won't mind, tear me a new one, but the reason I am being so harsh is so you can understand why Gary Stu's and Mary Sue's are so hated.
The dude is even more beautiful than anything in the galaxy stronger, faster, better pain endurance. He can probably look a Medusan in the eye and have no ill effects. He probably knows when spock is trying to communicate with him through telepathy and can probably resist Spock easily. If I start reading a story and I start thinking these things out loud and start rolling my eyes at certain parts in the story, then there is a big problem.
I stopped reading after he grabbed the Romulan by the neck and held him at knife point, it was too much. To tell you the truth I would have enjoyed it so much more if he was just a normal guy with everyday problems like everyone else and he just had a very strange effect on people.
I understand he is a warrior race, but so are the Klingons and they are NOT charismatic or beautiful, they suffer because they are solely warriors.
The 10/10 is not a mistake on my part I wanted to give you that, because it is my personal opinion and it is highly unfair that my opinion should damage the reputation of your story.
Like I said good solid writing style and the characters were in character, it was just that guy and because he played such a big part I just couldn't read further, it was too painful.Good job nonetheless. 
What a terrible ending ... it's crushed me.
I can not say that I always understood what was happening, but it was important for me to finish the story. And so I did.The illustrations are beautiful. 
I really enjoyed the story, the plot, the action down on the planet (although I got a bit lost in the details about the Wielda). Every time I had to put it down, I couldn't wait to start reading again.
I liked the way you wrote Spock's rape, how it happened, very realistic, and his immediate reaction/condition afterward. Liked the way you had McCoy deal with it.
Nadia I enjoyed immensely. She's a strong character, obviously confident, sure of her abilities, and comfortable in her relationship with her superior officers. I particularly liked the way she interacted so easily with Spock - makes sense,as she must work with him daily on the ship. We so rarely see the scientific staff of the Enterprise. Her relationship with Kirk surprised me, but it didn't feel too out of place - I picture her as a woman in her forties, older enough than Kirk to be slightly mothery but also to fulfill something that he desperately needs occasionally.
T'serek fulfilled a need in the plot. I didn't feel we got to see much of his character, but then we didn't necessarily need to - he contributed what we needed to the plot - his desire for Spock, and the aching sadness of his death.
The pon Farr issue and sex scenes - I liked it all except lube for God's sake! No wonder Kirk found it so painful! Liked the way you wove the nagging possibility of Spock being responsible for the murders into our minds and into Kirk's.
The end - so sad! I understand there's a sequel, and I'm interested how their relationship evolves now - poor Spock, poor Kirk - how do you maintain a relationship I under those conditions?
Overall, a really enjoyable story, I understand it's about 30 years old, from a printed zine originally. Thanks so much for sharing it online - I'm in Australia, and when I first discovered fan fiction and slash about 25 years ago the print zines were all pretty inaccessible here, what with having to know about them, who to write to, how to pay for them (God, life has changed, the horror of international money orders is no more!) and the astronomical cost of buying them & paying huge postage! So I'm slowly catching up online.Many thanks for a wonderful story! 
- from The K/S Zine: The Time of the Beginning 1976-1985
- from A 2007 Interview with Syn Ferguson
- from K/S & K.S. (Kindred Spirits) #3 (November 1982)
- from K/S & K.S. (Kindred Spirits) #5 (June 1983)
- from K/S & K.S. (Kindred Spirits) #5 (June 1983)
- from a fan in K/S & K.S. (Kindred Spirits) #6 (1983)
- from K/S & K.S. (Kindred Spirits) #5 (June 1983)
- from K/S & K.S. (Kindred Spirits) #7 (January 1984)
- from. K/S & K.S. (Kindred Spirits) #8
- from The K/S Press #29 (1998)
- by Dahliaxat at The Kirk/Spock Fanfiction Archive, posted October 10, 2010, accessed March 27, 2013
- Wendy Plains at Kirk/Spock Fanfiction Archive (2010)
- by Hypatia Kosh at The Kirk/Spock Fanfiction Archive, posted February 10, 2011, accessed March 27, 2013
- by Fabled Charger at The Kirk/Spock Fanfiction Archive, posted April 3, 2012, accessed March 27, 2013
- nhrc at Kirk/Spock Fanfiction Archive (2013)
- newaunty at Kirk/Spock Fanfiction Archive (2013)