Captain Kirk punched the intercom button on the arm of the command chair and glumly contemplated the familiar orange-red of the planet Vulcan filling the main viewscreen. Then he leaned toward the voice pickup on the chair arm. "Mr. Spock."
"Spock here." The miniature voice came crisp with carefully cultured intonation. Nobody who had not heard that throat forming the intricate syllables of Vulcanir could realize how alien English was to him.
Kirk wet his lips, "We've entered standard orbit, Mr. Spock. Meet me in the transporter room in five minutes. Kirk out."
He took a deep breath. He didn't like getting mixed up in planetary politics, but orders were orders. "Lieutenant Uhura, notify Vulcan Space Central we are prepared to beam our passenger aboard."
"They are already standing by, sir."
"Thank you." He turned to the engineering panel. "Mr. Scott, you have the con."
The dour Scott looked over his shoulder, "Aye, sir," and went back to polishing adjustments on a digital readout control.
The transporter room was filled with the same sparkling quiet efficiency as usual, but somehow it seemed ominous to the Captain when he entered and nodded briskly to the duty technician. Presently, Spock stepped through the door and assumed a stance beside the Captain.
"What kept you?" asked Kirk.
"I received a mail-packet marked urgent, so I glanced through it before coming."
"Oh. Anything important?"
"Hmm." He turned to the duty technician standing at the transporter controls. "Energize."
"Sorry, sir, but I have a hold signal from the target."
"Hold, then," Kirk went back to examining his First Officer. "Guess we'll have to wait. I wonder what could be the difficulty."
"I wouldn't know, sir."
Kirk pursed his lips. "Mr. Spock, what do you know about T'Zorel?"
"She is eighteen standard years old, the daughter of Situr and a human woman named Kathleen Uphouse, a colonial from the Beta Cygni region. T'Zorel was raised as a Daughter of the Tradition, but has recently filed a request in the Federation District Court to renounce her Vulcan citizenship. The Daughters are contesting the renunciation on the grounds that it is unconstitutional and that the Federation Court has no jurisdiction."
"I didn't know she was a Daughter!" Kirk searched his mind for what he knew of the Daughters. They were the females of the Kataytikh families. Since they were sterile and possessed none of the usual female drives, they were never mated but raised and trained to be Judges, Arbiters and Administrators, paragons of logical virtue demanding vast respect and earning it. it.
The technician said, "Ready below, Captain."
Three pads of the transporter platform lit up with columns of sparkle that coalesced into three images. One was a young lady dressed in an unadorned Starfleet Cadet uniform. The other two were standard luggage pieces issued to Starfleet trainees.
The sparkle cleared and she stepped down briskly, zeroed in on Kirk and braced. "Captain Kirk. Cadet T'Zorel reporting aboard."
Kirk noted her lightly-tanned, golden skin and the pert sweep of slanted eyebrow and elongated ear just visible beside softly curled black hair. She had the fresh-scrubbed, wide-eyed vitality of youth coupled with an ageless poise as . . . as what? As a wise old matriarch? Yes,
possibly. The Captain blinked hard and once more confronted a young cadet. "Welcome aboard, Cadet T'Zorel. This is Commander Spock, my First Officer. He will escort you to your quarters and see you settled. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask." He found himself becoming hypnotized by her limpid, blue eyes, so unusual for a Vulcan. He nodded briskly, "Dismissed."
The transporter technician propped one elbow on the top of the console and cradled his chin in his hand as he stared after the gently swaying, firmly feminine hips that carried their new passenger out the door.
The Captain eyed the long expanse of bared leg, tapered to delicate, but strong ankles. Then, in unison, the two men sighed at the closed door. They looked at each other and the technician said, "I think I've just found a new definition for the word charming . . . sir."
Kirk nodded sympathetically. Five feet five inches of vibrant female, but Vulcan. She was only eighteen, but so bursting with ripe maturity, no man aboard was going to ignore it. And, he reminded himself, she was the center of so much high-level interest, he'd better make sure the `hands-off' rumors started very soon. But, he wondered how effective they would be. His own glands told him it was hardly worth the bother.
He pulled himself together and headed for the bridge.
T'Zorel took her first look around her new quarters, spotted the pile of tapes near the reader and went over to finger them. "Sir, are these the regulation manuals for the Enterprise?"
"Yes." He added levelly, "My name is Spock, T'Zorel."
She refused to meet his eye. "I am honored to meet you."
"But you do not extend the greeting of Surak?"
"How can I?" Her voice was even with no hint of bitterness in the rhetorical question.
He conceded with one raised eyebrow, "Thus thee sunders the Tradition." He spoke in High Vulcan but with the intonation of a death announcement.
She whirled on him, eyes flashing. "What would you know of it?" She caught herself and added coolly. "Sir?"
"T'Zorel, I too bear the Tradition on half-human shoulders."
"I know. And you have chosen a different path from mine."
"This is not a question of . . ."
"Your pardon, sir, but it is definitely a question of differences. I know your chosen path and I know that my feet cannot travel it."
"But do you know the path you have chosen?"
"No." She faced him squarely and inquired with one raised brow, "Who asked you to dissuade me?"
"Yes. I should have guessed. And will you?"
"I will try."
"Here you are my superior officer."
"I will not use that. When we speak privately of this matter, you are T'Zorel and I am Spock. We have a grave difference of opinion to resolve."
"You must resolve your differences with yourself. You must grant me the right . . ."
"To abandon your responsibilities? No. Such rights do not exist to be granted. Only death absolves."
"I cannot abandon a responsibility that never existed. I seek the right to be myself."
"And who are you, T'Zorel?"
"I . . ." She stopped. She was a Daughter. Her name said so. Her upbringing said so. He had asked "who" in English just to confound her! She opened her mouth to request a more specific phrasing, but he said, "We must find time to argue at greater length. We will be in transit eight days so there should be ample opportunity. Right now, I must go."
He walked to the door, hesitated and turned back to her, holding his right hand up in the Vulcan salute, and said, "Live Long and Prosper, T'Zorel."
She stood, hands at her sides, barely breathing.
"T'Zorel, even a human answers. In Starfleet, we do not require the Commitment of Surak merely because of traded courtesy."
Still, she hesitated. He waited, hand raised.
He said, "There are many Vulcans at the Academy."
She raised her hand, fingers separated, and said in carefully enunciated English, "Peace and Long Life, Spock."
He held her eyes a moment and then turned and left abruptly.
She looked at her hand, lowered it, and looked at the closing door. He had won the first round. But he didn't understand. He was a Kataytikh and he had been mated at the age of seven.
T'Zorel spent the next few days exploring her first Starship and getting the feel of wearing a Starfleet Cadet uniform. Everybody in Starfleet outranked her and the experience was disorienting. All her life, she'd outranked more than 99% of all Vulcans just because her father was a Guardian of the Tradition.
On the third day out of Vulcan, she stepped into a turbolift, turned to command the doors to close, and found Captain Kirk standing with his hand on the doorjamb.
She said, "Oh, I'm sorry, Captain." She conceded her place, "Your lift." As she started to sidle around him, he moved to bar her way.
"Where were you going, Cadet?"
"Deck five, sir."
"Fine." He stepped in, letting the doors close, and said, "Deck five."
The lift vibrated gently under their feet.
"Cadet T'Zorel, these last few days you have given me a number of headaches."
"I've made your head--hurt you, Captain?"
Kirk thought, damn, she's just like Spock was a few years ago. "Only figuratively. You've been all over the ship . . ."
"I've been careful of regulations, sir. And I haven't been in anybody's way."
"I know. You've been very scrupulous. It's just that, well, the men all stop what they're doing to look at you."
"I try to be very unobtrusive, Captain. If there's something additional I could do?"
"Well, no. I mean, yes. You're a very attractive young lady, T'Zorel, but you don't seem to . . ."
She watched him, listening patiently while trying to make sense of what he was saying.
Kirk blushed. How does a man explain sex appeal to the equivalent of a nun? "Well, look, all you really have to do is stop flirting."
"Begging the Captain's pardon. `Flirting' means?"
Kirk gestured, "Well, it's . . ."
The turbolift stopped and he put out a hand to hold the doors shut. "Look, I'll send Lieutenant Uhura around to your quarters. She can explain it better than I can."
"The Communications Officer? Very well, sir. Thank you, sir. When shall I expect Lieutenant Uhura?"
"She'll call you." Kirk lifted his hand from the door-hold and dove out of the suddenly confining box almost before the doors had opened. He was haunted by visions of wide, blue eyes, deep as the ocean and innocent as a virgin's. Hell, he thought, she is a virgin.
The next evening, Spock sat on one corner of T'Zorel's desk watching her pace the room in a strained imitation of human nervousness. He decided she wasn't getting the turns right, and it was spoiling the effect. He said, "You haven't heard a word I've said for the last hour, have you?"
His sudden switch to English caught her attention. She stopped pacing to look at him. "I heard you. I will listen to what you said later."
"Very well. Then there is little point in continuing tonight."
"There is little point in continuing, ever. I have gone through all of this many times. T'Voah herself presided over the Council of Daughters that turned down my request."
"Which request?" he prompted.
"To," she took a breath. "It was a private matter, but all these arguments were cited. I can listen, but I will not change my opinion. Your logic is flawless, but it simply does not apply to me."
"What I have been trying to show you is that it does apply to you. You did Affirm the Continuity?"
"Yes, of course I did. But that is irrelevant."
"Then what is relevant?"
She cocked her head to one side and examined the way the light fell across his face. "Spock, do I flirt? Lieutenant Uhura said to ask a man if I didn't believe her. So I'm asking you."
"Yes. You do flirt. And it is most unbecoming for a Daughter."
"But I am NOT a Daughter."
"You have not changed your name."
"I am . . . half-Vulcan. I will keep the name my mother chose for me."
"Does your behavior honor your name?"
She came close to him, their eyes meeting on a level because he remained seated. "Spock, I do not flirt intentionally. It is possible that my actions are misinterpreted by humans. I find humans fascinating, but I have not deliberately tried to attract attention."
"Then you'd best learn to control your actions. Humans will not understand. You may believe they are very casual about their relationships, but they will tolerate only so much . . . flirtation. And they can be very insistent. You could get into much trouble, even here on the Enterprise."
She turned away. "They? You forget I am human, too. Perhaps I want to get into trouble. Perhaps I want to use that part of me which is not a Daughter!"
"Then you'd best talk to Dr. McCoy first."
His tone was so flat, she turned to examine his face for the meaning of that, but his back was retreating out the door and she caught only a glimpse of his expression, chiseled from stone. Then she understood. Starfleet regulations provided an exemption for Vulcan females from the standard contraceptive measures. Spock's swift exit told well enough what he thought about Vulcan females who'd waive that exemption and even seek casual relations, but she wasn't truly Vulcan.
She went to turn up the thermostat, wondering why she suddenly felt so cold. She didn't need Spock's approval. She still intended to find a human husband.
Yet, for the first time since she'd filed her renouncement of Vulcan citizenship with the Federation Court, she felt truly alone, a Federation citizen-at-large, without a family, without a world. She had severed all ties. Ties that had really never existed. But if they'd never existed, why did the severing leave such desolation?
Four days went by and the Enterprise bored smoothly on toward the Academy graduation exercises. T'Zorel moved about the ship as usual, but somehow encountered the First Officer very rarely. When they did meet, he addressed her distantly as Cadet, refusing to use any form of her given name.
The night before their arrival at the Academy, she accepted one of Mr. Chekov's numerous proposals to attend a group entertainment. Several members of the Engineering crew were staging a production of a play written by a botanist who was an amateur expert on the early Earth colonies. The audience seemed to enjoy it vigorously, if their stomach-clutching and cries of anguish were indeed to be taken as signs of enjoyment. But she found the play not only confusing but self-contradictory. And when the actors became infected with the . . . laughter . . . they were unintelligible.
After those two wasted hours, the Russian insisted on taking her to a Recreation Room where he spent another hour coaxing her to drink fluids she didn't really want. She was trying valiantly to be polite when she saw Spock pause in the corridor to watch them.
She turned back to the navigator and essayed a smile as she sipped her drink. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw the Vulcan start as if shocked. Then he hastened on.
Chekov was chattering about something she couldn't understand in the play. He seemed willing to do all the talking, so she let him. Of the three human officers she'd spent evenings with, Chekov was by far the most interesting. She liked to watch him talk and wanted to tell him so with a smile. Watching the way he gestured with his hands when he made a point, she reflected that humans communicated with their bodies more than with their words.
English was so imprecise when merely spoken, but she had the strong impression from Chekov that if she could but read his sign language, she would understand him clearly. The more she watched him the more enthused he became with his explanations. It seemed to her that the expressions on his face were meant to carry important information and she was wondering what it would be like to touch this glowing young man who seemed about to explode with the pressure of some repressed . . . emotion . . . when suddenly, he said, "If you've finished your drink, I'll walk you back to your quarters, if that's where you'd like to go."
She looked down at the glass full of amber liquid and melting ice cubes. "I'm finished with this, yes. But I'm sure I can find my own way back to my quarters."
He rose, took their glasses to the disposal and returned just as she was getting to her feet. She said, "I see that it is very late. I wouldn't want to keep you up if you need sleep."
"Oh, I'm not sleepy, T'Zorel, and the corridors are deserted now. I'll walk you back."
T'Zorel frowned. They all insisted on accompanying her to her door and then made it very difficult to say goodnight. She started for the door walking briskly, but the Russian caught up with her and took her by the elbow as if she couldn't support her own weight.
His hand rested lightly on hers and through the contact his mind burst onto her consciousness amplified a hundred times. But it was like no contact she'd ever known before. It was a whirling, patternless smear of severe contrasts, a rolling mix of . . . emotions? Yes. That must be it. It attracted her and she allowed the contact to remain while she searched for the source of the attraction.
"T'Zorel, you are the strangest Wulcan I have ewer met."
"I am only half Vulcan, Mr. Chekov."
"Yes, but which half? You are so . . . different . . . from Mr. Spock. So, well, human. You are wery beautiful."
It was a sincere compliment and she found no offense.
His hand tightened on hers, sending exciting shivers down her spine. The closeness, the liveness of him was pleasant. She said, "It pleases me that you find merit in my appearance, Mr. Chekov."
They stopped before the turbolift doors and Chekov faced her, placing both his hands on her shoulders. "We have speant three delightful ewenings together and still I am only Mr. Chekov?"
His hands on her shoulders and his face so near hers were confusing. She knew it was wrong. Yet she desired the harmless indignity. She said, her voice quieter than she'd intended, "Is that not your name, Mr. Chekov?"
"For you, I am Pavel."
"Pavel? Very well. It is a nice name. It has meaning for you?"
He put one hand to the lift call-plate, but kept his eyes on her. "It is an old and honored Russian name. But T'Zorel is also a wery nice name. It suits your beauty."
The lift doors opened and she turned to enter, avoiding his eyes as she said, "I am not certain that I still have the right to use that name."
"Why? Has it some special significance on Wulcan?"
As the doors closed behind him, she said, "Yes, it has. And I am no longer entitled to call myself Vulcan." It was strange how cold she felt when she said that. It was the first time she'd said it to a human.
"They cannot force you to change your name, can they?"
"No. But perhaps I shall want to."
Chekov instructed the lift, "Deck Five." Then he moved close to her side, taking her hand in his, flooding her mind with a lulling confusion that made her forget the cold.
Sickbay was dimly lit and deserted as Spock let himself into McCoy's office. He turned up the lights, and sat down in the desk chair. There were no patients and M'Benga, the duty officer, was working in the lab. Spock was unlikely to be interrupted in his search of the Medical Log. Technically, as First Officer, the ship's records were part of his responsibility and as Science Officer, the Medical Department was under him, but in practice he only initialled the Chief Surgeon's report. He flicked on the viewer and began a swift review of the last week's entries.
In the corridor outside her room, Chekov leaned his hand against the closed door and effectively dominated T'Zorel. "I have never seen a Wulcan Komatt."
"It is merely a medallion with inscribed heraldic symbols."
"And you have the Komatt of T'Zorel with you?"
"I have it, yes. But I will soon have to return it."
"Could I see it?"
"It is nothing special to look at. Its significance is purely symbolic."
"But this is your last night on the Enterprise. I will never get another chance to see it." He moved a fraction of an inch closer and whispered, "Please?"
Suddenly, she thought she was going to faint. She pushed away and took a deep breath of the rich, moist and chilly ship's air. "Very well. Come in."
But once inside, the human seemed to lose interest in the Komatt. He laced his hands across the small of her back and smiled the strangest smile she'd ever seen. It seemed to transform his face into a glow in the dim light as he blocked her reach for the light switch. Then his arms tightened about her body and he whispered in her ear, "There, now that's much better. I knew you'd see it my way."
His smooth, oddly fragrant cheek moved against hers and then his lips fastened on hers. The turbulence of his mind amplified a thousand times surged through her, shocking her numbed senses.
With sudden strength, she pushed against his muscular chest. "What are you doing!?"
The glow died from his face as if she'd drenched him with ice water. "You inwited me in. We are not children playing games."
His anger, and other fierce emotions for which she knew no names, washed through her like a flood of lava. The pain of it sent her staggering against him. him.
His arms tightened about her again, not squeezing her, but protecting and supporting her with a driving strength of will that was totally lacking in her.
He was whispering in her ear again, "There now, that's better. You can tease and flirt only so far. You've been leading me on all night. You can't stop now. You wouldn't do that to me, would you? No," he answered himself, "I know you wouldn't. You aren't the type to be cruel."
She knew what he wanted now. She didn't remember doing anything to indicate a willingness to assume such a relationship, but evidently he'd misunderstood something she'd said. It would be wrong to send him away unsatisfied. And something in her responded to his sudden need. She'd made up her mind that such things were to become part of her life. Since she was no longer Vulcan, it was harmless to yield to the social pattern of her mother's people.
His lips on hers again cut off the orderly flow of logic and she was drowning in maelstrom that kindled an answering fire in her green blood. He moved against her and she felt the urgent hardening in his body as his hands held her strongly in place.
His tongue moved between her lips seeking hers. The deepening contact amplified his thoughts again and suddenly she sensed his attitude toward her. It was physical. Purely physical and nothing more. Nowhere in his mind was there thought for the purpose of the act he desired to perform, nor had he any true interest in her future. He desired only pleasure, and for him it was a minor pleasure. A moment that had little significance in the stream of moments that made up his life. He'd found that her presence kindled his desire and he wished to satiate that desire. Nothing more.
It was the human attitude she'd read about. But, firsthand, it was far more repellent than she'd ever thought.
All at once, his body disgusted her. She pushed away with all her strength, stumbling in a wave of dizziness as his shock washed through her nerves, a blinding white sheet of pain. She fell against the door, bracing herself with both arms, gasping in lung-wracking sobs. 93
Abruptly, the door slid open and she staggered, off balance, out into the corridor, her vision blurred by the mind-link that had been forming with the human and was not yet properly severed. Then, strong arms caught her and cool, clear thoughts quested her mind, deftly disengaging the aborted mind- link. Her vision cleared for a moment and she looked up into the classical Vulcan face as Spock said over her head, "Good night, Mr. Chekov."
She tried to turn to apologize to the Russian for her disgraceful behavior but her body failed her and she plunged into unconsciousness as two strong arms took her weight, cradling her like a baby.
She came to awareness lying on a bed. Even with her eyes closed, she knew there was another presence in the room. A Vulcan presence. She opened her eyes and sat up. Spock was seated in her desk chair, hands flat on the hard surface, eyes focused on her. He said, "So, you have found one unpleasant aspect of the path you have chosen. Are you now ready to consider a third path lying somewhere in between?"
"There exists no third path."
"One does exist. It is the path I travel. Another can be constructed for you."
"The Council of Daughters . . ."
". . . can be convinced."
"I have tried. And failed."
"I am not without influence."
"But you were unwilling to aid me."
"I did not understand the nature of the problem. Now I have additional data. Your human genes dominate the kataytikh genes in one important aspect. You are functionally female. Adjustments must be made to allow for that."
"I'm not sure. Why couldn't I . . . ?"
"Chekov is human. You are Vulcan. Cultural patterns cannot be changed by court decree. I knew that. I should not have suggested that you see Dr. McCoy. I should have known you would not consider such a recourse."
She said nothing. She had considered it, and she wasn't sure why she had rejected it.
He continued, "Nor can a Federation Court absolve a Daughter of her obligations. Adjustments can be made, though it often takes time. Grant me the right to speak in your behalf and I will see what can be arranged with T'Voah. If necessary, I also have the ear of T'Pau. Now that I am Kataytikh in my father's place, nobody doubts my allegiance. The compromises that I have made are looked upon with tolerance." He paused, carefully selecting a term for a distant kinswoman. "Nathu, Vulcan needs all the Daughters in these trying times."
"Then speak for me, nathu, and I will accept what must be."
Spock rose and approached the door, but before it opened he turned and said, "Some humans are able to enter into more meaningful relationships. It seems to depend largely on the individual involved, on maturity and on cultural background. I have met human couples who approach our ideal very closely." He raised his hand in salute. "May You Live Long and Prosper, T'Zorel."
She answered in kind. "May You Live Long and Prosper, Spock."
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