Ties that Bind (Star Trek: TOS story by Elise Madrid)
|Title:||Ties that Bind|
|Fandom:||Star Trek: The Original Series|
|External Links:||online here|
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It was published in the print zine Beyond Dreams #7.
"A/R: Kirk and Spock return to Earth when Starfleet agrees to review their courts martial after Komackʼs disgrace."
Reactions and Reviews
This is a well written follow up to “The Exile”. After recovering from his illness in “the Exile” Kirk is just about to resume command of his ship, when he and Spock are summoned to Earth to appear before a court to re- examine their court martial in the light of the events in the previous story. Kirk’s understandable anger and reluctance to attend the hearing is well described, as is Spock’s own determination to support Kirk and help him regain his career, in spite of Kirk’s insistence that he is quite happy where he is as long as he is with Spock. Just before the hearing, they are visited by Uhura and Sulu, who are struggling with their own relationship in the face of Sulu’s being promoted to another ship. At the centre of a media frenzy during the hearings, events take a turn for the worse after the hearing when Spock disappears and has apparently been kidnapped by Romulans. Kirk’s reactions to this and his very real concern for his bondmate is well described. While he struggles to locate Spock and deal with the consequences of his captivity, Uhura renews her friendship with Christine Chapel, and learns some surprising facts from her. I liked the fact that it turns out that Christine’s part in what happened was not as deliberate as everyone thought at first. It was a nice touch that although she still loves Spock herself, she is finally able to accept his deepest feelings lie elsewhere with Kirk, which leads quite nicely to the ending of the story. The parallel storyline of how they both endeavour to overcome their problems, makes an interesting new dimension as does the dilemma Kirk and Spock face after the outcome of the hearing is revealed. All in all, a worthy and enjoyable continuation of the story “The Exile” with some interesting twists along the way.
I don’t usually read “to be continued” stories because as I’ve said before, I’ve been burned too many times in the past. However, Jenna promised in the forward that this was a fully contained story, so I read it. And boy, am I glad I did. “Ties That Bind” is a wonderful read. Sigh. There will be no explicit details as this zine is a new one and I think folks should enjoy this gem without any spoilers from me. Well except for maybe one little exception. There’s a line in this story that just blew me away. Kirk is talking to McCoy; “He’ll never be too far that I won’t go after him, Bones. The universe just isn’t that big.” Now tell me that isn’t what K/S is all about.
There’s a lot to like in this story. Kirk and Spock are right on. Loved the Kirk angst. I liked the Vulcan crew. They’re not the usual stereotypical Vulcans...restrained, yes, but not without feelings. Well-rounded secondary characters yet they never took away from the heart of the story...Kirk and Spock.The writing impressed me from the start. It just flowed. I think this story is written as well if not better than most pro books I’ve read. As you can tell, I loved this one and I can’t wait for the last installment of Elise’s series. Hurry up please.
Long and satisfying, this sequel to The Exile in BD5 takes our heroes further in the author's open-ended series, but is also a story which can stand alone, complete in itself.
The title hints at the theme: what holds the characters together and the consequences of the ties. I very much appreciated Uhura's counterpoint to the main plot. Her yearning for the old Enterprise days and difficulty moving forward seemed realistic from a psychological point of view. I liked the twist at the end which revealed she had been leaving her lover by hanging back from her future. A similar issue faces Christine but her choice is, logically, a dead end. In established relationship stories, the obstacles Kirk and Spock must overcome are often forces which try to tear them apart from one another. Here we see Spock forced to contemplate a desperate act which may have fatal consequences for his beloved. I found it touching that Kirk was the only person who fully understood and accepted Spock's choice for them both. There was a breathtaking scene in the gym which for me expressed the essence of Kirk's love: beauty, strength and focus. This author's style is confident and assured. She draws the reader into her tale without effort and it unfolds with a nice balance between events and reflection. Her descriptions are economical and vivid. I was happy with the characterizations and found the love scenes beautiful. The love between Kirk and Spock is profound, enhanced by the bond. I admired Elsie's light touch when describing telepathy. How can anyone really describe the unimaginable? I think it works when not portrayed in too concrete terms.I enjoyed Ties That Bind immensely; it is real quality K/S by a master of the art.
"Ties That Bind" by Elise Madrid is about fifty pages and with Brianna Falken's fifty page story called "Debt of Honor" these two stories make up over one-third of the zine which is 288 pages long. It's a good thing both stories are excellent stories. And they are both very much a/u stories.
"Ties That Bind" is a sequel to two other stories which are named in the forward by the editors. I vaguely remember reading one or both stories. They are briefly summarized in two short paragraphs at the beginning of this story. In this universe, Kirk and Spock have a Vulcan ship named Warrior's Oath. They had been court-martialed out of Starfleet because of their homosexual relationship. There had been many problems in the other story, and the problems only continue on in this one. However, Christine Chapel gets to redeem herself, which is nice. And Uhura and Sulu have a nice relationship. There is a lot of h/c which always endears a story to me. Both Kirk and Spock suffer, but Spock suffers the most.I have read several of Elise's stories and have for the most part enjoyed them 
And here it is!! The next chapter in this extraordinary series. No doubt it is full of the same detail and intricate plot as its predecessors.
The previous paragraph was written as I opened to this latest installment. I was most definitely not disappointed. In spite of all that has happened to Kirk and Spock, what I enjoy most about this story is that clearly their love, their need and preference to share their lives is foremost. There is plenty of passion, but this is not a relationship built on lust, but something much more profound. They have faced scorn, turned away from it and toward each other. They have sealed the permanence of their bonding by purchasing a house together on Vulcan and have settled into their roles on a VSA ship. It's very revealing when McCoy, Sulu and Uhura spend some time aboard and see this openness and freedom for themselves. They are surprised but delighted, as McCoy puts it, "...I'll tell you, if they had started acting that way on the Enterprise I'd have died of shock." A lighthearted moment. Just as things begin to look up, tragedy strikes again. While Kirk and Spock find themselves dealing with yet another personal crisis, Starfleet shows signs of coming to its senses. It may be too late. Traveling back to earth brings a new set of challenges from those who refuse to put to rest the scandal that preceded their exile. This story is too new for me to reveal the nature of the next crisis, but trust this author to give us one that is nothing less than heart-stopping.Don't miss this complex, swiftly paced adventure/love story. I cannot wait for the next installment! 
The final story, [in the trilogy] “Ties That Bind”, begins three weeks later with an early morning love making scene. As I’ve already said, I really like the love scenes in these stories as they are so tender without making the guys seem soppy or out of character or by concentrating on the mechanics. The first part of the story concentrates on the return to Earth and their vindication interspersed with scenes about the problems in the relationship between Uhura and Sulu as a contrast. I would like to think that in the 23rd century the gender of one’s partner will be irrelevant so it’s a neat touch to see a socially acceptable relationship in this universe in trouble while the unacceptable one is depicted as the ideal.
On Earth, Kirk and Spock are vindicated and Chapel makes a move towards reconciliation. It is something of a comfort to learn that she did not betray the guys maliciously but she is still a tragic figure here, avoided by her old crewmates and unable to find a ship that will accept her. She has to make recompense for her actions, for her own peace of mind and that of the reader, and the opportunity presents itself when Spock goes missing. This plot development was cleverly set up back at the beginning of the story but only now comes The final story, “Ties That Bind”, begins three weeks later with an early morning love making scene. As I’ve already said, I really like the love scenes in these stories as they are so tender without making the guys seem soppy or out of character or by concentrating on the mechanics. The first part of the story concentrates on the return to Earth and their vindication interspersed with scenes about the problems in the relationship between Uhura and Sulu as a contrast. I would like to think that in the 23rd century the gender of one’s partner will be irrelevant so it’s a neat touch to see a socially acceptable relationship in this universe in trouble while the unacceptable one is depicted as the ideal. On Earth, Kirk and Spock are vindicated and Chapel makes a move towards reconciliation. It is something of a comfort to learn that she did not betray the guys maliciously but she is still a tragic figure here, avoided by her old crewmates and unable to find a ship that will accept her. She has to make recompense for her actions, for her own peace of mind and that of the reader, and the opportunity presents itself when Spock goes missing. This plot development was cleverly set up back at the beginning of the story but only now comes into its own. Spock has been kidnapped by a group of Romulans who want to learn the secret of Vulcan mental abilities. Kirk and the old gang take Warrior’s Oath to rescue him. Now we are back in an action story that could have come straight from the TV series. Kirk is making his way across the quadrant while Spock is being tortured but thinking only of how to protect Kirk through the bond. In rescuing Spock, Chapel is killed, the only way she can make suitable recompense for her betrayal, I felt, but she dies trying to save Spock and so is allowed to do so with dignity. Nice touch, Elise. The rip-roaring action gives way to a more studied kind of tension as we watch Kirk’s attempts in sick-bay to bring Spock out of the deep trance he entered to protect himself and Kirk from the Romulan probe. Both of them could die and even though we know this will not happen, Elise manages to maintain the illusion of the possibility of it happening. More gut wrenching. The story ends on a high note with a final love making scene and their return to study a beautiful planet, RP1485. The question of their return to the Enterprise remains unanswered and leaves the way open for another instalment in their lives. Oh, I do hope so. I really do.These stories are a delight to read but do read them together for the full effect. The love scenes are so very tender and moving; the characterisation of the guys is spot on; the plotting is clever; and the writing is light and delicate. You’ll be left with many delightful K/S images. My favourite is the one of Kirk on the bridge with his hand on Spock’s shoulder, simply because they got so very close so many times in the TV series and never quite made it when they should have. (I am thinking especially of the final scene in “The Galileo Seven” when even the Bloke who claims not to see K/S, yells out, “Kiss him, you fool”.) For me, that’s the sign of a good K/S story: one which takes canon and improves on it. Just like this trilogy, in fact.
I feel as if I’d just struck gold! I’ve finished reading Evolving Toward Forever and The Exile, only to become restless and half-crazy wishing for a sequel. Without much expectation for success, I went to the archive to search, hoping against hope that Elise Madrid had come through once again, and she did!! I’m so happy to be able to delve into the next installment of this wonderful saga with our favorite heroes at the forefront. Thank you Elise!!
For a while it seems this final segment is about reunions and mending fences and it’s good to see familiar faces and loose ends connected, but just in case we thought it would be smooth sailing from here on out, our story-teller extraordinaire plunges us into yet another dramatic event. Spock is captured by Romulans determined to extract information from him. We are once again able to see the spirit that drives Kirk and Spock, the love that binds them together and the perseverance that ensures they will prevail.With these three interwoven stories, we have been given an incredible adventure and a warmly satisfying love story by one of fandom’s finest writers.
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- from The K/S Press #200