(RBW Note. Fancy sculptured two handled drink container.)
This is my first issue as editor of __Kraith__ __Collected__. This strange state of affairs began when I had the time to type the manuscripts which make up this issue. Then Carol handed down the ultimatum: It’s your issue, __you__ do the paratype. Well, as it happens, the numbers are press-on, and the lettering is done by John Benson (take a bow, John). So I had no paratyping to do. And Carol is doing the artwork layout as I last minute type Dokamral’nor and this editorial.
But there are problems. You will notice that there is almost no artwork in this issue. The reason is simple--editors are cheap. And when you have 120 pages of typing, before artwork, well, you just cut down drastically on the artwork.
And then there are the problems with the artwork we did, and did not, include. Allan Asherman’s beautiful illustration of Commodore Spock, you might notice, shows him with a full head of hair. He is supposed to have a receding hairline. But one just does __not__ tamper with an Asherman drawing.
In regards to the Schillians shown in the last issue (volume 2). I like Roberta Brown’s Schillians--they are graceful, as I would assume a Schillian is (whether or not they have tails.) Carol likes Todd Bake’s (even though they are short one finger per hand.) So Carol’s issue had Todd’s Schillians, and my issue has Roberta’s--only my issue doesn’t have room for Schillian artwork. I demand equal time. (When you’re an editor, your demands get met; see page 63.)
For those of you who followed the saga of "denonstarting," we have, this issue, the tale of T’Uriamne’s midget. If you can find that typo, you might be able to figure out what it was supposed to be. Something about an aircar, I think.
This issue will probably be the last, for some time to come, to feature a major or story by Jacqueline Lichtenberg. Mrs. Lichtenberg now has so many professional commitments that they leave very little time for Kraith. We congratulate her on this state of affairs, and at the same time shed a tear for the Kraith stories we won’t see.
That is not to say that there will be no more Kraith stories. We have now enough stories in the works to do volume 5. And Mrs. Lichtenberg’s collaborator, Sondra Marshak, is working on the Kraith series (see the Author’s Preface to __Pilgrimage__.) And there are those whose stories have yet to see print. If you are a budding Kraith author, let me remind you: make __three__ copies of your story--you keep one, send one to Jacqueline Lichtenberg, and one to Carol Lynn. You will hear from us, though it may take a while. And for artists: get in touch with Carol.
Mrs. Lichtenberg’s first professional novel, __House__ __of__ __Zeor__, is now available. Contact your local bookstore, or write directly to Doubleday and Company. Do __not__ contact either Mrs. Lichtenberg or us.
And for the brag department: Jacqueline Lichtenberg has been nominated for a Hugo this year as Best Fan Writer.
Live Long and Prosper,
(RBW Note. Deborah Kay Goldstein signature)
(RBW Note. signed) Deborah Kay Goldstein
Deborah Kay Goldstein
(RBW Note. The above line is a solid line across the whole page.)
(RBW Note. The bottom portion of this page is in two columns, then one centered line, then two columns. Begin two columns.)
Editor: Deborah Goldstein
Typing: Deborah Goldstein
Titles: John Benson
Layout: Carol Lynn
P.28--Kucharski and Austin (with permission from Babel III)
P.63--Roberta L. Brown
Printed by Parnos Productions
Oak Park, Michigan
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Editor’s Preface . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
Editors are Ghouls and Cannibals . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
Initiative . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
by Jacqueline Lichtenberg
Author’s Preface to Kraith V . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27
Spock’s Decision . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28
by Jacqueline Lichtenberg
Author’s Preface to Kraith VD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 64
Spock’s Pilgrimage . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 66
by Jacqueline Lichtenberg
and Sondra Marshak
Ballad of Dokamral’nor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 117
by Beverly Clark
Second translation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 119
by Darlene Fouquet
(column break, begin single column)
There are no typos in this ‘zine, only lapses into Vulcanur.
(RBW Note. Begin two columns)
Ceiling Press Publication #24 -- April, 1979
Copyright © 1974. Not intended to infringe on rights held by Gene Roddenberry or Paramount Corporation. All rights reserved to authors and artists.
(column break, begin single column)
"EDITORS ARE GHOULS
While these sentiments were first voiced by Dorothy Sayers*, I know at least one other person who can echo them with sincerity. This is a public apology to Joan Winston for the mutilation of her story, "Through Time and Tears," by yours truly. I may, perhaps, be permitted a few words of explanation, not to shift the blame (for it is mine), or to excuse it, but to show that the havoc I wracked was not done with "malice aforethought."
Several months before I actively began the typing of Volume Three of Kraith Collected, I received notification from Jacqueline that she and Joan Winston were collaborating on a story. Jacqueline said that she had written a story some months before but, on having seen a story that Joan had written, had decided that they really ought to be published together. Jacqueline would write a connecting piece between the stories. In the letters it was always referred to as "The Obligation/Through Time and Tears."
I received a copy of the unrevised "Obligation" from Jacqueline with assurances that "Through Time and Tears" would be following from Joan. I rented a typewriter and began typing the rest of the volume. Two weeks before the rental period expired, I received a package from Joan -- containing __another__ unrevised copy of "The Obligation." I immediately telephoned Jacqueline and explained the problem. She dropped a copy of the connecting piece she had written and the copy of "Through Time and Tears" that Joan had given her into the mail.
"The Obligation" in its original form was the story of Spock’s contribution at Beom and the discussion of Kirk’s adoption in the wheerr, as I printed it, up to page 12 of Volume III above "Spock remained seated on the step." The same page, down to the "impeccable logic" line, is from the insert. After that to "My grandfather trained me well" is again from the original "Obligation."
From "Come" to the "He would manage" on the bottom of page 13 is the rest of the insert.
The top of page 14 starts "Through Time and Tears." To the bottom of page 15 is untouched. I cut two paragraphs between "unrest" and "I’m so happy." They dealt with Sarek deciding that the proper course of events should be to adopt Kirk.
To the middle of page 16, "for his father to speak," is the original. Here is the place of butchery: I’ve cut just over two manuscript (double spaced) pages. They deal with the need for Kirk’s adoption from the opposite point of view; it is Sarek who is convincing Spock that Kirk should be adopted.
By this time, I was in a frenzy. The typewriter was due back. I was leaving for nine weeks at Oxford University and had reams of reading to do. I took a liberty that wasn’t mine, made the above adjustments, sent the thing to the printers, and promptly forgot about it.
However, as can be seen from my editorial in that volume, I had misgivings about the story. My own guilty conscience speaking.
To all concerned, and very specially to Joan Winston, I offer my sincerest apologies. To all those people who wrote in and protested my editorial, I laud you. You were right.
Live Long and Prosper
(RBW Note. Carol Lynn signature)
(RBW Note. signed) Carol Lynn
* __Busman’s__ __Honeymoon,__ p.195. And if you don’t think that finding that reference wasn’t a good excuse to reread the book, then obviously you have never fallen under the spell of a monocle.
(RBW Note. Amanda talking to a Vulcan Woman in a window opening.)
Amanda leaned against the window frame with a deep sigh. The glowing ruby twilight with its hint of cool breezes had ceased to remind her of a glimpse of hell many years ago. But it still fell short of being a refreshing sight.
T’Aryel continued to putter about on the desk behind her. Amanda waited patiently for the girl to leave. As a human among Vulcans, Amanda knew she could never run her office without T’Aryel. Sometimes she suspected they had made up the ancient tradition which had placed T’Aryel, a Daughter, at her service.
Still, she chided herself, all the other wives of kataytikhe who worked beside their husbands had such an assistant.
"No more, today. One more insoluble problem and I think I’ll explode."
T’Aryel pulled a long face. She was accustomed to the strange human idiom. "I think it is not the work that distracts you, Amanda. I think there is something else which absorbs your strength."
Amanda searched her mind and came up with a formal Vulcanur phrase. "We all have our requirements."
Recognizing the barrier of privacy, T’Aryel started for the door. Amanda turned and said, "Wait . . ."
Nonplussed, Amanda gestured, "Can this window be opened?" It was a lame excuse, but all she could think of. As always, though, T’Aryel seemed to understand. She crossed the expanse of resilient flooring, circled the banked desk that resembled nothing so much as a control console, and put one hand to the window mechanism. "Certainly."
The window slid aside, letting in a blast of hot, dry air and a whirlwind of bustling city noise. Amanda heard the rising whine as the air conditioning strove to deal with the heat incursion. Four long stories below her, the city sprawled among Vulcan gardens and broad open parks. If it weren’t for the streams of aircars and surface vehicles, you’d never know it __was__ a city.
Absently, Amanda said, "Thank you."
T’Aryel leaned against the other side of the window, breathing the hot air gratefully. "‘Thank you?’ Now I am certain there is that which bothers you deeply. You are well aware that I realize your fingers lack the strength to operate the window mechanism. And I am well aware that you understand the protocol of gratitude."
Embarrassed, Amanda offered a reason for wanting the window open, thus ending the conversation. "The city is beautiful at night."
"I am not busy this evening. If you can be Vulcan enough to dismiss me thusly, I can be Terran enough to refuse to be dismissed."
"Wouldn’t that be illogical?"
"Not in the slightest. I have worked for you since I was but a child. I am certain that I am correct. You suffer pain."
Bemusedly, Amanda stared at the twinkling lights of the city. "And what is the logic of pain?"
"To cause pain is illogical. To fail to alleviate pain is equally reprehensible."
"And what of privacy?"
"The violation of privacy causes severe negative emotional reactions. It is illogical to cause mind-clouding emotions in those with whom one seeks to reason." She paused, then she added, "I do not anger you by my presence."
"Do you know why?"
"Amanda--even Vulcans understand the need to communicate."
Amanda turned to examine the girl closely. It seemed as if the large, limpid Vulcan eyes swam with tears. Embarrassed, she turned back to the view. One by one, the low, rambling buildings were lighting up. "You are a Daughter."
As if reading her thoughts, the girl nodded. "But has it ever occurred to you that the un-mated must find others with whom they can communicate?"
"Yes, it must be lonely."
"Lonely? Amanda . . . after all these years . . . you don’t know?"
At Amanda’s puzzled silence, T’Aryel said, softly, "We belong to each as there is need. We respond to the suffering that is not of the body. Ours is the province of the . . . soul."
"You have no children, but are mothers to all." Amanda repeated one of the descriptions of the Daughters of the Tradition. She’d never understood it that way before. "But all I’ve seen are the Daughters concerned with dispensing Justice untempered by mercy."
"You stand outside The Tradition. Yet I believe it is within me to serve you."
Amanda wanted to laugh. A ‘mother’ forty years her junior. But by the lights of a passing aircar, she saw the young-old face, drawn and serious. T’Aryel wasn’t pretty, she was handsome in a timeless way. She wore the weight of the Tradition upon square shoulders and drew her strength from some hidden source that seemed inexhaustible. She wore a simple, long-sleeved dress, winter-weight in the chill office. As if seeking the warmth, she sat upon the deep windowsill, ensconced for a long talk.
Amanda could not resist. She sat down on the sill, ignoring the film of perspiration that beaded her brow. "Have you not served us these difficult years?"
"The concept of service divides into ever finer distinctions between Vulcanur and Vulcanir. In English, all these are bound in one word. How does one explain one’s meaning?"
"Often with a tone of voice, a gesture, a facial expression. These have meaning for Vulcans, too."
"I would serve thee as a Daughter. Perhaps it would aid you to think of me as the daughter you haven’t yet birthed."
Now the tears were in Amanda’s eyes. The twinkling lights blurred, the aircars became streaks. The young hand sought her shoulder, fingers brushing neck for one brief instant of suspended time. Amanda twisted away, retreating against the cool stone wall. "It concerns a matter not spoken of even among Vulcans of one family."
"And especially not by a mother regarding her son?"
"So I have been told."
"By the son’s father?"
"Sarek holds you in very high regard. That is perhaps your greatest handicap among Vulcans."
"What do you mean?"
"He assumes you understand that which you do not grasp."
"And that is?"
"That which a mother may not speak to the father of her son, she __must__ speak to another--one chosen from those who can solve the problem."
"Are daughters of mothers too, and sisters of brothers, and daughters of fathers. I know Sarek very well, though I’ve spoken to him only rarely about business. My father, too, is kataytikh, though only of the Ninth Realm."
"The problem is that Sarek will do nothing about Spock. If you know Sarek so well, then you know he will continue to do nothing."
"Because it is not his place to act."
"Neither is it my place to interfere with a grown son’s life."
"Have you seen him--since the divorce?"
"Yes, but in the shadow of Sarek’s disappearance there was not much discussion of this problem."
"I don’t doubt that he’s thought of it."
"But not solved it." Amanda sighed. "What can I do?"
"Have you spoken to T’Pau?"
"T’Pau!?" Amanda couldn’t bring herself to say that the mere thought of the venerable Daughter intimidated her.
"T’Pau is a woman of deep compassion."
Amanda tried to wipe the shock off her face. "I think we do not use these words to mean the same thing."
"If you will speak to her, you will find she understands your concern far better than you may realize. She may not act irrationally, but she will solve the problem. Is not the alleviation of suffering an act of compassion?"
"Does a Vulcan mother suffer for her son?"
"Any Vulcan woman will know the pain of a displaced son." T’Aryel turned her face out toward the evening, speaking with difficulty. "Spock’s condition is a danger to all of us. He is a threat, not just to himself, but to all of us."
"You seem to know more than . . ."
"In the Halls of the Council of Daughters, lists are kept of all the unmated males who may become a danger." She said it with a remarkable detachment. This was the province of the Daughters, Amanda knew. They would feel no embarrassment discussing affairs in which they could take no part.
"T’Pau would not speak to me about this."
"She is Elder of the First Realm. Who else is there in matters concerning Spock?"
"I wouldn’t know how to go about making an appointment with her."
"__That__ is what Sarek assumed you knew. If you cannot reach T’Pau, you come to me with your problem. I will make the appointment for you. And all will be well. Sarek knew that I was here, but did not know that __you__ did not know I was here to serve."
Amanda frowned. Yes. It was so. Every time she steered the conversation toward Spock, Sarek would make some comment about T’Aryel’s ability to ‘serve’! She laughed in sudden freedom. It was as if an enormous burden had lifted from her.
One thing she had learned early in her marriage was that Vulcan philosophy pervaded everything Vulcans did. When the planet entered the Federation, they conformed to the outward patterns required for full voting membership--planetary government was duly fabricated and elected by due process, laws were enacted by which offworlders could find their way around Vulcan jurisprudence, and Ambassadors were appointed to represent Vulcan to the Federation and its members.
But there the resemblance ended. The individuals who filled the offices just didn’t conform to the Terran-based, human-style idea of what such people should be like. Ambassadors participated in policy making, and legislators spent most of their time farming plomeek. But that wasn’t the worst of it. She could live with self-appointed ‘governmental fact finding commissions’ composed of physics professors and housewives checking up on ‘official’ land surveys done by schoolgirls. She knew the apparent chaos was only apparent. But she had almost fainted the first time she’d visited the Planetary President’s Office. It had seemed to her that just anybody who walked in the door could sit down and use the Presidential Seal.
There were no locks on Vulcan doors, and it seemed as if Vulcans had never heard of a ‘safe,’ or of security. She knew this was not true, but she still couldn’t reconcile a Planetary President’s Office that looked like a family corporation’s living room. She vowed that as long as Sarek held a position of Vulcan’s Ambassador, those offworlders who visited the Ambassador’s offices would gain an impression more in keeping with the facts. She knew that although Vulcans considered the Federation’s variety of government something of an amusing game, they were not really anarchists. There was a logical order underlying everything that Vulcans did. In most cases, that order showed through lending an austere dignity to their business offices.
It was only the somewhat incomprehensible Federation standards that seemed irrelevant to the Vulcans. Take the matter of law enforcement, for example. In a world of logical individuals, why live in a camp armed against illogical acts? Vulcan had no need of traffic police, although most untraveled areas were thoroughly patrolled in case of accident. There was no vice-squad, no homicide squad, no bomb squad, and detectives were both plentiful and hard to find. Plentiful because almost everyone was qualified, and hard to find because nobody who hadn’t witnessed the crime would volunteer to work on it. This was especially true since 99% of all crimes were committed by outworlders with whom most Vulcans didn’t care to associate. The remaining ‘crimes’ generally had a logical explanation.
Amanda could well understand that. She, for one, wouldn’t dare face a court of the Daughters without a __very__ logical explanation up her sleeve. She thought of T’Pau and shivered as she laid hand to Sarek’s office door.
He was engrossed in his viewer, curtains drawn and interior lighting bright. He seemed to her more handsome than ever. She sat down beside the desk and watched him work. He caught her appraising eye. "You disapprove?"
"I was just thinking that it’s a strange world where the Ambassador’s wife has a heavier responsibility than the elected Planetary President. While the President juggles red tape, the Ambassador’s offworld wife is gathering information crucial to Vulcan’s survival."
He leaned back in his chair, rocking gently as he considered her at length. "You would like to be Planetary President?"
"Oh, no, not at all. Why do you say that?"
"Which is more important, the title or the job?"
Amanda smiled. "Yes, of course. It doesn’t matter who does the job, just so it is done the very best way possible. It doesn’t matter who wears the title, because the title is worthless. Credit accrues only for a job well done. How many times have you explained it to me?"
"Four hundred . . ."
"Nevermind. I guess I’ll never understand tsaichrani. But if there is one thing I do understand, it is Federation schools."
"And what have you found?" He was eager now, leaning forward like a hound on the scent of something crucially important.
"Not too much yet. I have another round of meetings and tours tomorrow. But it does indeed look as if you were right. The schools here in the Federation Enclave around Vulcan Starbase __do__ show a measurable influence from the surrounding Vulcan environment." She plugged her recorder into his desk screen and began displaying graphs.
Now she was on her own territory, education. She showed the norms and the variations from norm on dozens of measurable characteristics of the offworld children raised on Vulcan in and around the offworlder’s enclave. She showed the graphs of other children in similar situations on other worlds and compared them with Vulcan’s. She was as meticulous as she knew how to be. A major policy decision would be based on her work. She finished, "So you see, Vulcan __is__ affecting temporary residents quite strongly. More strongly than most other worlds, despite the fact that other worlds don’t isolate the offworld residents . . ."
"Vulcan does not isolate . . ."
"Well, they isolate themselves, then."
"Do you have the data from Terra and Alpha Centauri, yet?"
"No. It’s supposed to be here within the next few days. Sarek, I think you are really on to something here. There is bound to be an effect on even the most distant colonies."
"Of course there’s an effect of intercultural interaction. But it’s the quantitative data that will be critical. Is Vulcan affecting the Federation fast enough to prevent the Federation from destroying Vulcan?"
"You sound as if you are trying to construct an acasomy model of the entire Federation!"
"I might have to."
"You’re joking!" It was half accusation, half plea. She’d seen the master model of tsaichrani which was a comparatively simple, well-ordered construction. The Federation, with its plethora of illogical species, __simply__ couldn’t be depicted in a lifetime of study and thought.
"If your data continue to turn up such promising leads, I will have one of the Science Academy’s computer teams assigned to the job. If necessary, we may have to conduct a full scale survey of the Federation’s entire education system. Have you contacted Memory Alpha?"
"See to it tomorrow. Find out what statistics they have. If we must study this, we’ll
need a base line drawn before Vulcan entered the Federation, and for each planet joining after that we’ll need a baseline on the planetary parameters before exposure."
"Whew! That’s going to __cost__! What do I charge it to?"
"Hmmm. Talk to Spoht at the Academy. I think he’s doing some psycho-sociological studies that might have a use for such data. Perhaps he already has sent for it."
"I’ll ask him. Where will you be tomorrow?"
"Council of Names." He looked at her as if she’d suddenly lost her sanity. "You juggled the calendar to make room for it yourself!"
"Oh, yes, but that was several weeks ago. I don’t have your memory, remember? It’s the T’Zorel case, isn’t it?"
"Yes. As I understand, the Daughters will be presenting quite an indictment."
"Do you think Spock did right?"
"Spock’s actions were entirely logical. The Daughters made an error."
"But did the Council of Names make an error?"
"I don’t think so. And if not, the mother’s wishes will be upheld. She will retain her name. The mother’s right to name a daughter is inarguable."
Amanda blushed, examining her fingers minutely. She would never forget how Sarek had allowed her to choose a name for her son which she could pronounce, at least after a fashion. He had granted her far more authority in the matter than she had a right to expect.
"‘SPOCK’ was a far better choice than I realized at the time, Amanda. Your son is going to be a great man. Now, after all these years, I can see that he is a beginning, not an ending."
She looked up, tears blurring her vision for the second time that day. "Thank you."
He got up and came to her, two fingers extended. She rose to meet his outstretched hand. He gazed into her eyes fondly for a moment. Then his free hand brushed her face, gently. His expression changed from tenderness to alertness. "You have news of Spock?"
"No . . ." Then she realized he must feel her altered emotions. "I have taken steps to secure an appointment with T’Pau."
"Oh," he nodded, relaxing. "Very good. A word of advice?"
"Do not mention T’Aniyeh."
"But we agreed . . ."
"We did and do. But it is not your place to suggest such to T’Pau."
"I understand." To herself she thought, Tanya is human. I could talk to her. No, I __will__ talk to her. She’ll understand. "Sarek, do you think T’Pau will consent to see me? She is so old, so frail lately; and this botanical plague has really taken a heavy toll on her."
"She is a Daughter of the First Realm. You are a wife in the First Realm. There is no question."
"But . . ."
"The plague situation is well in hand. A suitable planet has been located, plants have been quarantined, and volunteers for the temporary transplanting colony are plentiful. The laboratories seem to be making some progress toward finding the cause and eliminating it." He placed a finger on her lips to forestall her objections. His voice was hushed but confident. "The will be another Blooming on Vulcan."
Amanda’s thought flicked back to the days of her youth and the first Blooming which had brought Sarek to her.
She had arrived on Vulcan flushed with enthusiasm, determined to bring a breath of Terra to the offworld enclave’s school. She’d brought the latest texts and the latest teaching methods, and she knew how to motivate children. Looking back at herself from the distance of years, she could see in herself the confidence of a fool. It evoked a wry chuckle.
She’d been assigned five classes in which there was a grand total of fourteen human children, none of them from Terra. They were outnumbered by the nonhuman children studying, for them, alien literature and culture. Despite her best efforts, every discussion centered on comparative xenology with human cultures taking a trouncing that left some of her girls in tears.
Then came the day she’d never forget. The school’s Administrative Director, a UFP Civil Servant from Rigel IV, escorted a young Vulcan woman into the classroom as an observer. She was tall and thin, the kind of physique which indicates high-strung nervousness in a human. She sat with the brooking calm of a stone statue, and Amanda froze up under the hostile gaze.
The visitor’s name was T’Uriamne, and she followed each of Amanda’s classes for week after week. At first T’Uriamne took no part in discussions, but slowly, as she gained confidence in her command of English, she began to inject comments here and there. She’d obviously read the texts and given them serious thought. She’d obviously found them seriously wanting in merit.
After several weeks of being haunted by the Vulcan in every class from kindergarten to university level, Amanda was ready to create an interstellar incident to get rid of her. Vulcans in general didn’t seem like bad people to Amanda, but with this one it was hate at first sight--and she was sure it was mutual.
Then, one day in late Vulcan winter, a torrid day when the red mists of the wetlands surrounding the offworld enclave boiled up only to be dissipated by the naked sun in the flaming red sky, Amanda found herself crying with one of her students rather than comforting the girl. T’Uriamne’s insufferable remarks had to be stopped.
Trying to clear her mind, Amanda walked out on the road toward the Vulcan zone of the city. For some unofficial reason, the population residence pattern of the enclave had polarized spontaneously leaving a distance of about half a mile uninhabited between the Vulcan zone and the offworlder’s zone. The business section occupied the central area with the residential zones growing off it like lobes. The humanoids who could live in near-Vulcan ambient conditions were grouped around the southern perimeter, and their residential zones grew spontaneously until they touched and merged, forming a continuous belt around the business section.
To the north, however, domed facilities for exotic types such as chlorine-breathers were spaced at a distance from one another. To the east, on a rise of ground that thrust itself above the swampish humidity, a miniature Vulcan city had been built. The Vulcans complained that the excessive humidity of this lowland area was unhealthy for them. Few remained in the enclave long enough to be called residents. The Vulcan city consisted mostly of transient dwellings, hotels and apartments, cottages, stores and services.
On the outskirts of the Vulcan settlement, a scattering of dwellings occupied the sloping ground. Here lived the few more or less permanent offworld residents. Many of them were telepathically sensitive, and sought relief from the mental babble of the enclave. Amanda passed on large house where a family of Schillians was enjoying their private swimming pool.
Then she was on the upward slope of the road, walking on the apron in long strides. She found she enjoyed the rhythmic thrust of her thigh muscles against the planet’s heavy pull. Her lungs labored in the thin air and sweat poured from her skin. Her lips peeled back with savage glee, as if her triumph over the planet were a triumph over T’Uriamne. It was a clean feeling that dispelled the depression of the morning’s encounter with the Vulcan woman.
Then it was over. She found herself at the top of the hill. Looking back she could see the enclave spread out beneath her, steaming visibly. Far to the north, she could discern the spaceport and quarantine facilities that would one day become a full-scale Starbase. She sat on a bench placed under a Rigillian shade tree to catch her breath and enjoy the view. She’d never been up here before.
After a while, she walked the rest of the way into the center of the Vulcan streets. She’d arrived after closing time. The shops were deserted, and vehicular traffic all but nonexistent. She found she couldn’t read the signs. They were in Vulcan script only. Walking toward the center of the area, she looked back the way she’d come. It was only then she found the street signs printed in three Standard scripts on one side only. The Vulcans weren’t __that__ inhospitable. Or, she thought glumly, maybe they just didn’t want people asking silly questions. She walked on until she came to a broad plaza with a traffic island in the center. There was a booth on the island, plainly labeled INFORMATION/COMMUNICATION. She went over to it on impulse and punched in the Directory Assistance code. Five minutes later, she was on her way to T’Uriamne’s residence.
It was a spacious cottage set well back among what appeared to be a formal rock garden. The plaque bore two names, side by side, Sarek and T’Uriamne. Amanda presumed the man was her husband. She placed her hand on the door signal.
A handsome young Vulcan answered. "Yes?"
Suddenly nonplussed, Amanda stared at her dusty shoes. "I . . . I thought I might speak with T’Uriamne."
"My daughter is not home just yet. Perhaps you would care to wait within?" He stood aside to allow her entry.
"Ah, no . . . no, thank you. I’ll call back later." She turned to go, not sure why her bravado should fail her so resoundingly.
"Miss . . ."
She turned back. "Yes?"
"It appears that you must have walked up the hill. I offer you a cool drink and a place to rest while I arrange transportation for you."
"You are most kind. Thank you."
This time, as he stood aside, she entered. The interior of the house was even warmer than outside. But he led her toward the rear where a shaded patio picked up a cooling breeze. She sat, unbelievably glad to take the weight off her feet. Arch-supports or not, the gravity took a ferocious toll. Presently, the man, Sarek, returned with a tinkling glass of iced drink. She accepted it with a delighted cry. "Oh! The last thing I would expect in a Vulcan house!"
"In the Diplomatic Corps, I’ve had occasion to host many humans. I have never known any of them to consider climbing that hill on foot."
"Anger can be a potent stimulant."
"I sense no anger in you."
"A steep hill can be a potent medicine. Especially in this climate."
"And it was about anger that you wished to speak to my daughter?"
"You hardly seem old enough to be her father." What she meant was that he hardly seemed Vulcan enough to be her father. He seemed to pluck her meaning out of the air.
"T’Uriamne . . . has a theory. She could be correct, but since so few Vulcans currently agree with her, she has become . . . somewhat over-zealous in the search for proof of her theory."
Amanda found herself gripped by an intuitive understanding. "You do not agree with her theory?"
The pain in him was plain for her to read. His whispered answer was hardly necessary. "No. We disagree."
Wonderingly, Amanda leaped to another conclusion. "And her theory is that humans are your enemies?"
He had seated himself on a lounge facing her, perched there in the remnants of late sunshine, his hands clasped between his knees. Now his head snapped up, his eyes pierced the gloom in which she sat swirling her drink. "How did you know?"
"T’Uriamne has been . . . haunting . . . my English classes for the last five weeks. It is impossible to teach with her in the room. I’ve come to ask her to leave."
"This has evoked anger in you?"
"Not so much in me as in my students. They are young. It is impossible to learn in an atmosphere so charged with emotions."
"__She__ has created such an atmosphere in a place of learning?"
"Well," said Amanda, unwilling to condemn even such a daughter in the eyes of her father, "she has contributed the spark to set off a conflagration which I cannot control."
"In that case, I will see to it that she removes herself immediately. She will bother you no more."
His tone indicated that T’Uriamne was guilty of a disgraceful act by Vulcan standards. "Please don’t be too harsh on her. She had her own purposes in mind."
"Vulcan justice in never too harsh. That is a privilege reserved for Nature’s justice."
"You don’t believe in God?"
"Nor do I disbelieve. Belief is a state of mind reserved for falsifiable hypotheses."
"And you can prove that Nature’s justice is too harsh?"
He was startled by her mental acuity. "It is a matter of judgment."
"And you bring judgment against Nature? Has she treated you harshly?"
"We refer to Nature in the feminine gender."
"How appropriate. Nature’s relentless logic is very feminine."
He cocked his head to one side, puzzled. "Amusement?"
"We consider her--capricious like a woman in love."
"It is indeed a strange universe that humans live in. I often wonder how you tolerate it."
Amanda examined her drink. She, too, often wondered how she tolerated it. "This drink is deliciously refreshing."
Sarek seemed to accept her comment as the termination of the visit. With quiet courtesy, he sent for a car and had her driven home, repeatedly assuring her that T’Uriamne would not disrupt her classes again.
The first few days after that, Amanda waited tensely at the beginning of every class for T’Uriamne to show up. After a while, that tension became such a habit that she was no longer conscious of exactly what disaster she was expecting. And, finally, she was not even conscious of being tense. Then, one day a visiting instructor, a Vulcan by the name of Smain, saw her jump when a student came in late and heard her snap at the hapless boy.
Over coffee in the teacher’s lounge, he got the whole story out of her. "You need not doubt, Miss Grayson. If Sarek told you that T’Uriamne would not attend your classes--she will not."
"But she’s a grown woman, not a child. What hold could he have over her if she decided on her own to come?"
"Miss Grayson, Sarek is a Vulcan." He said it as if it explained everything with total finality. She took it as if it meant merely that Vulcan integrity was not to be impugned.
And that put her mind at rest. She no longer snapped at late students; no longer jumped at every door opening. But she took to hanging over the morning newscasts on the pretext of an extra cup of coffee, and was inexplicably disappointed all day if some item about Sarek did not turn up before she had to leave for school. She bought the newssheet printouts on her way home regularly every day, though she’d never cared for the local news before. And her evening was not complete before the late news broadcast.
She was busy with her students, planning their term papers and helping them do the extra research. Then there came the organization of the forestry field trip the class had been looking forward to all through this unit on ecology, and the coordination of the lessons so they would know what they were looking at. These kept her so busy that she didn’t really notice the change in her behavior until one day she heard the local newsreport that Sarek would be off planet for three weeks representing the Vulcan Science Academy at a regional symposium on computer software.
It was the longest three weeks of her life, and between term projects, that fact was finally driven home to her. When he finally got back to the offworld enclave, she started out several times to call his home or to visit him. But what could she __say__? She had no business that required his attention, and if the news media were to be believed, he had no time for chatting aimlessly (not a propensity of Vulcans anyway.)
She began to wish T’Uriamne __would__ show up.
She admitted to herself that she was reacting like an addled teenager with a crush. She __felt__ like an addled teenager with a crush. And she hadn’t felt so good since she’d __been__ an addled teenager with a crush. Twenty-one was much too old for such nonsense. But on the whole, life on Vulcan had been a bore outside of her work and an occasional friend she would never had made on Earth. She decided she could afford to indulge herself a little. She could tell her grandchildren about the time she had met the famous Sarek of Vulcan (he’d be famous by then, she was certain.)
So, she took to having dinner several times a week at the public restaurant on the ground floor of the Interstellar Building. The ‘Special’ was usually within her budget, and it was usually some exotic dish from the far reaches of the Federation. She chalked it up to ‘Experience.’ After all, she had no idea how long she would be assigned off Earth before she met some dashing young Earthman and returned to the dull seclusion of Earthside life. It was a prospect that increasingly repelled her, though she knew that if she found a man worth loving, he’d be worth the quaint old ‘whither thou goest,’ or she wouldn’t marry him. And his career might take her back to Earth.
Her evenings amidst the high level elegance of the Interstellar paid multitudes of dividends, and she wondered why she hadn’t come before. She could dawdle over her formal dinner for hours and watch diplomats and businessmen from everywhere imaginable conducting the real negotiations of their trade. She began to wonder if she shouldn’t start taking notes for a book, and actually did write down intriguing snatches of conversation.
She felt more now as if she actually were living and working at the hub of interstellar business and not just at some secluded Earth-based outpost. You’d never see so many Vulcan traders and merchants on Earth or anywhere. One time she was asked to witness the signing of a contract and affixed her name with a trembling but proud flourish. That was when she seriously started seeking material for a book by talking to people she’d seen there several times.
But she didn’t have much time to devote to that dream. And one day, she came particularly late, and, after most of the tables were vacated, she decided to grade some papers very quickly before going home. Amanda was aware that it was somewhat irregular, and certainly not the kind of behavior expected of the exclusive clientele, but the staff knew her by now and she decided it couldn’t hurt anybody since she wasn’t taking up needed space.
So she pulled out a neat stock of tapes and inserted the top one into the table’s reader, activating the inscriber so she could affix her own notations to the essay. About half way through the third paper, she glanced up and to her paralysing astonishment, found Sarek of Vulcan wending his way among deserted tables straight for her.
There were plenty of other tables, and a number of other diplomats scattered about the large room, but he headed straight for hers as if it were the only table with a vacant seat. And, just as if it were the only table with a vacant seat, he said urbanely, "Would you mind if I joined you?"
"Cer . . . certainly not. Please sit down."
A couple of waiters and a few bus boys swarmed around the table making up the Vulcan’s setting and taking his order, which he gave with an air of abstraction, as if something vastly more important than eating was on his mind. The staff disappeared in the professional hush for which the Interstellar was famous.
Then he sat forward, elbows propped on the table, fingers steepled before his lips as he gazed intently at her. "Miss Grayson."
"Mmmm," he agreed inarticulately. He was studying her with an analytic intensity she found disconcerting and a little frightening. It seemed as if he couldn’t be bothered with vocalizing ponderous and imprecise words. His thoughts raced behind hooded eyes.
She never did find out what he would have said, or how long he would have said nothing. Just then, a whole gaggle of reporters boiled through the draped entryway and recorders, mike probes and lights were pointed toward the couple while several started shooting questions at the Vulcan.
"Sir, is it true you are being considered for the Ambassadorship?"
"Sir, is Sdyre really slated to retire?"
"Will T’Wbran be taking over your post at the Science Academy?"
And a dozen others all at once which Amanda couldn’t follow. She hadn’t been paying that much attention to the news lately, and the questions she heard were stunning in their implications.
Sarek roused himself from his brown study of her features and rose, silencing the ambitious reporters with a commanding presence that sent electric thrills through Amanda’s arms. One at a time he answered, relaxed but crisp as only a Vulcan can be.
"I cannot venture any statement regarding the thoughts being considered by others."
"Sdyre’s retirement is a matter about which you will have to consult him."
"The Science Academy fills its posts by competitive examination and competency trials. How could I predict the outcome of such?"
"I have no intention of accepting an Ambassadorial post at this time. But that is irrelevant: none has been offered."
"Then you won’t be going to Earth?"
"Will you?" Sarek shot back at the young man who asked.
"Well, well, I don’t know. Depends on where I’m assigned . . ."
"Precisely," answered the diplomat, "precisely my point. Good evening, Gentlebeings."
"One more question, Sir, if you please. Will you be attending the Grand Ball of Concord? The Tellerite Ambassador insists you intend to snub them by not attending because they vetoed
your proposal in the Assembly . . ."
Sarek began a negative gesture, indicating he did not intend to answer after dismissing them. He was known never to comment after such a dismissal. But the whole flock of them raised a mixed protest that this was the hottest issue of the day’s news and they had to earn their salary by cornering it.
Then one of them had a brainstorm, and sidling over to Amanda, began aiming his recorder at her and firing rapid questions. Without thinking, she reeled off her name and occupation as if she were being interrogated by the police. She’d never been under this kind of fire before, and in the intensity of the moment simply forgot to be flustered. Her tone, unknown to her, came across as very matter-of-fact, as if she were answering a police challenge in her own classroom, and had every right to be who and what she was where she was.
But when the reporter asked, in low tones behind Sarek’s broad-shouldered back, "Miss Grayson, were you by any chance just discussing the Grand Ball with Sarek of Vulcan? It’s well-known he’s a widower now, and . . ."
Sarek turned, towering over the human like a rock pinnacle wreathed in dark storm clouds. "Mr. Barry Sumato of Newsnet Interstellar! You shall cease to pry into matters which do not concern you or I shall certainly have your license revoked."
Without taking his eyes off the transgressor, Sarek spoke now to all those present. "Good evening, Gentlebeings."
They did leave this time. One doesn’t offend a powerful man on his own planet, not even with the might of Newsnet Interstellar behind you--and none of the others had that much clout going for them.
When Sarek sat down once more, he was filled with words and done with studying. "I must offer my most sincere apologies. I had no idea, when I chose to sit here, that I would be bringing them down on you like that."
"Oh . . ." she said, waving aside the incident.
"You acquitted yourself with uncommon grace, and I am quite certain that you would have continued to do so, even under such improper questioning. I also apologize for interrupting your conversation. I’ve been given to understand that humans particularly relish verbal fencing of that nature, and if I spoiled your enjoyment, I am most thoroughly contrite."
"As a matter of fact, I’ve never enjoyed verbal fencing in itself. You rescued me from a possibly unpleasant situation, and I thank you."
Just then the waiters arrived with Sarek’s meal, and with expert polish, he ordered wine for them both, a rare Vulcan wine served hot after boiling off all trace of alcohol. When they had exchanged comments on the drink, Sarek continued his multifold apologies. "I must also offer you assurances that I do not make a habit of exhibiting overly emphatic reactions to relatively minor provocations."
When she’d translated that into ‘I’m sorry I yelled at them, and I won’t do it again,’ Amanda said, "It must be terribly difficult for a Vulcan to suddenly become the target of all those reporters, especially the ones who work for scandal sheets. The strict regard for Privacy is one of the cornerstones of Vulcan philosophy, isn’t it?"
"True. Likewise, the supremacy of Logic is also a cornerstone of Vulcan philosophy, and it was not logical to antagonize them in that manner."
She had never heard of a Vulcan admitting to an illogical act in her life. But the solemn and hurt manner betrayed by his closed features, more stone-like than ever, prevented her from pursuing the matter. "Do you think they’ll report it?"
"I have no way to predict what such people will or will not do. How can you calculate the odds? How can you evaluate?"
"Well, for example, have you ever thwarted that Barry Sumato before? Or anyone in the group?"
"Thwarted?" he repeated, squinting at the overhead universal translators. "Well, there was the time on Earth five years ago when I was delivering a paper at the Astrophysics Conference in Geneva and he stole my copy right out of my briefcase to duplicate for advance distribution. He was only a child, then, and I merely retrieved my property and the copy. I don’t see how he could have been offended since he was obviously in the wrong."
Amanda let out her breath, between whistle-puckered lips, but silently. __He__ __was__ __only__ __a__ __child__? she thought. __Sarek__, __you__ __are__ __as__ __naïve__ __as__ __a__ __baby__! "He’ll publish. He’ll publish the whole thing. And he’ll probably get some of his friends on those scandal sheets to do some editorial speculation about your private life. It shouldn’t hurt your career very much, but I doubt if you’ll like what they’ll say."
"I cannot understand on what basis you make this prediction."
"Well, you could call it an instinctive grasp of human psychology, or you could call it intuition, but I doubt if you __would__. How about, ‘logical intuition’?"
Again he darted a glance at the translators. "Logical intuition? I believe that means something different to me than to you."
"Probably. Let’s just wait and see what he does, and compare notes again after that."
They spent the balance of the evening talking about everything from philosophy to diplomatic customs, and when he escorted her home, she forgot the tape she had been reading in the table’s viewer. She couldn’t even remember whether it had been good or bad, but gave the student a high passing grade since the loss was her fault, and the student generally did high passing work.
The next day, the story of Sarek’s temper outburst was all over the press and speculation about what pressures he might be under were rampant. The consensus, though, was that the woman who had so brusquely put down the inquiring reporter must have been someone other than who she said she was--a cover-identity. They were so convinced of that, that not one came to the school to check on her, and pictures were not published.
When Sarek called that night to congratulate her on her logical intuition, she was delighted, and drew as near the image on her screen as her pickup allowed. "Amanda, I’m sorry. Everyone at the school must know it was you by now."
"No, not at all. Everyone’s convinced it was a mistake, and I think they are withholding pictures to create an aura of mystery. After all, how long has it been since they’ve had a good ‘secret agent’ story in the news?"
"Yes, you are right. I had not thought . . ." He trailed off, gazing at something out of the field of vision on Amanda’s screen. It was almost five minutes before he spoke again. "Amanda, this __could__ be detrimental to my career, as well as to Vulcan. And the Federation, too. The merest __hint__ at this time that there are any secret negotiations going on between Vulcan and anybody could . . . could . . ."
". . . impugn the integrity of Vulcan in the spacelanes negotiations?"
"Yes. You know that we are fighting to extend the boundaries within which Vulcan law prescribes the operational rules of Merchant vessels . . ."
". . . Oh! Yes, I see now. That whole ugly thing about collusion with the Lepterosites would be brought up again!"
"That rumor was discredited once and for all, before we even sat down to negotiate."
"Sarek, there’s an old Earth saying, ‘Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.’ Barry Sumato is laying smoke bombs all over the civilized galaxy, and a lot of people--not just humans, either--are going to believe there’s a fire causing it. They’ll not only bring up the Lepterosites, they’ll dig up every other slander ever perpetrated on Vulcans. Wh . . ."
"Logical intuition, again?"
"Yes, you could put it that way. I know that’s where it will lead just as I knew he would publish that incident. S . . ."
"I see. Then, I shall take preventive measures." In that smooth and inevitable manner that was both polite and irresistible, he said his goodbyes and was gone from her screen before she could propose her own remedy for the situation.
She spent a sleepless night reviewing the call in her mind and teetering on the brink of calling him back to offer advice. But he had seemed very certain that he knew exactly what had to be done. And she was not one to offer unsolicited advice so far outside her field of specialization.
The next day was spent in a pressured whirlwind of preparations for the coming field trip. Four times she was called out of class to speak to officials at Vulcan Tours, who were providing the bus for the excursion, and once she excused herself to check on the luncheon arrangements at the park where they were going. There was a big hassle over getting a driver for that particular date since there were three commercial liners due at the time. But she finally got a promise out of the manager of the local office that they’d find someone or let her drive the bus herself. Since the manager was Vulcan, that was good enough for her.
When she finally got home, she grabbed an iced tea out of the refrigerator, slipped her shoes off and propped her feet up wondering why she couldn’t see them throbbing. It was then that she realized she hadn’t thought about Sarek all day. She turned on the news to the local reports.
A Tellerite newswoman made an oblique reference to the Lepterosite affair just after delivering a report on Sarek’s being closeted with the Vulcan World Secretary for five hours that morning. Then she launched into an item on the coming Grand Ball of Concord. Amanda’s stockinged feet hit the floor, and she punched out the long-ago memorized code for Sarek’s home.
T’Uriamne answered. Amanda had almost forgotten about T’Uriamne. She said as civilly as she ever had, "I would like to speak to Sarek, please."
The daughter looked at Amanda as if she had been instructed to divert all callers with some excuse. But then she relented. "Very well. Hold. Please."
The screen blanked, and in a few minutes lighted again on a different room of the house. Sarek came into the pickup and sat down. "Miss Grayson."
She could tell he was troubled. He hadn’t once called her Miss Grayson since she’d demurred that title. "Have you seen the evening news, Sarek?"
She told him what she’d seen and repeated verbatim what the Tellarite woman had said. "Your tactic, whatever it was, has failed. I’d like to offer an idea of my own, if you wouldn’t consider it out of line."
"An idea stands on its merits, not its origin."
She had considered briefly, and apparently while her mind had been on other things today, her subconscious had worked out a new interpretation of Sarek’s actions. He had been protecting her at the expense of all other considerations. And that’s why he had failed. "But first, Sarek, I must know if you had indeed intended to be at the Grand Ball of Concord tonight."
He answered her unhesitatingly. "No, I hadn’t."
"I need to know why."
"One does not attend such affairs alone, and my daughter did not wish to go. Since my wife died, T’Uriamne has performed the duties of the mistress of the household. It would not be meet to go without her."
"I see. Your absence was not intended to imply what the Tellarites assumed it implied?"
"I did not intend it so."
Amanda caught the slight emphasis on ‘I.’ "Did T’Uriamne intend it so?"
"It is no secret that T’Uriamne and I disagree on many issues involving Vulcan’s role in the Federation. But when we have something to say, we say it. We do not imply. We do not snub. We do not hint, cast aspersions, or indulge in innuendo."
"Your absence from that Ball will be taken as a snub and the innuendo will be quite plain. Other conclusions will be drawn from that absence. Surely your World Secretary pointed that out to you."
"As a matter of fact, he did not."
Amanda drew a deep breath and let it out. "The Tellarites have been saying so in public for quite a while now."
"Amanda, I cannot act on the basis of what some people say they will think. I cannot use the ill-defined feelings of certain people to calculate my own course. I chose not to go to this Ball because it would be inconvenient for T’Uriamne, and it is unsuitable to go alone. There will be other members of the Vulcan diplomatic corps there. If my absence is interpreted without regard to the elementary rules of logic, so also would my presence be. There is nothing that I can do about that."
Adjectives streamed through Amanda’s head. Cold. Aloof. Distant. Unpredictable. Uncaring. That was the reputation of the Vulcans throughout the human-settled worlds of the UFP. But the man before her was far from any of those descriptions.
"Sarek, there is a logic underlying the conclusions people jump to over little things like this. At least for humans, at any rate, and most of the rules seem to hold pretty well for a lot of the nonhumans I’ve met here. I was right about Barry Sumato, wasn’t I? I was right about the Lepterosite business."
"Twice could be just lucky guesses. Three times would indicate that there is a system to all this madness, wouldn’t it?"
"It would be worth investigating."
"All right. I predict that if you go to that Ball, the Tellarites will withdraw their objections to your spacelands proposals and they’ll pass within the next four sessions."
"That’s . . . there is no cause-effect relationship . . ."
"I further predict that if you take me to that Ball, and be very sure to introduce me around as Amanda Grayson, the whole silly thing with the Lepterosites will die unborn before tomorrow morning’s news is recorded."
He leaned forward over his clasped hands, a frown pinching his nose between downward slanting brows. "But, Amanda, those reporters will be after you."
"For a few days. But when they realize there is no further news to be had, they’ll go home. I’m not afraid of a few snoopy reporters. When you open a can of worms, the only way to get the lid on again is to empty it, even if they are a little slimy. You just steal yourself to the job and do it."
He objected lamely a few times, but she didn’t have to argue very hard. He had known, of course, that the only way to put down rumors was to bring Amanda out in the open. And there was a certain logic to going to the Ball with her and accomplishing both purposes with one act.
With his parting remark still ringing in her ears, "Amanda, if you’re right about the Tellerites, I’ll be your student for however many years it takes to learn your system," she dragged herself to her feet and began wondering how she had been brazen enough to invite herself to the most gala high-society event on Vulcan. She didn’t have a thing to wear, and she only had four hours!
__Problems__, she told herself sternly, __can__ __be__ __solved__. __Take__ __them__ __one__ __at__ __a__ ___time__.
And so, she was ready when his aircar came to pick her up. Dressed in a borrowed gown of carmine chiffon, and a new pair of shoes she had bought for her mother as a Christmas gift, with a hairdo coiffed by her neighbor who was a beautician at the Vulcan Hilton, and accessories donated by her closest friend, an Andorian, who taught pre-schoolers at the Enclave (who thought she looked atrocious in red and was more than glad to make Amanda a gift of the set which had been a gift of a well-meaning, departing mother of one of her students), Amanda stepped into Sarek’s aircar.
She wasn’t about to let on that she knew almost nothing about the formalities of interstellar etiquette beyond what most novelists consider stock-in-trade. She wasn’t about to admit that she was a frozen icicle inside and scared to death, not that she thought her hair was about to fall down in a slump. As a result, she moved with a stately dignity beyond her years, spoke in overly modulated, carefully lowered tones of voice, and was totally incapable of letting her face express anything but the most Vulcanoid responses. She was there, she was alive, and participating. She was quite demonstrably, both the mysterious person from the Interstellar restaurant, __and__ Amanda Grayson, teacher at the Enclave. But she behaved throughout the whole night like a high-society matron, or a diplomat’s wife.
When they arrived at the ballroom atop the Interstellar building, Sarek presented his invitation and signed her through the security station while she waited with a stillness not born of poise. Then they were handed smoothly from one steward to another until she found herself beside Sarek on the wide steps leading down onto the Ballroom floor.
Above, the ceiling was an enormous, glittering dome of stars surrounded by jewel-like scintillating fixtures that provided the lighting. The gravity had been adjusted to under one g for the comfort of footweary visitors, but Amanda just found she had to balance her head a little more carefully to keep her hair from falling.
Then, the announcer was ringing the soft chimes for attention, and all those impeccably dressed people down on the floor turned toward her. She thought she’d faint, but when the announcer stopped talking (she never did know what exactly he had said about her), she took her bow with Sarek, for once thanking her mother for those hated ballet lessons.
And suddenly, they were out among those formidable people, and she saw they were just people after all. She counted nearly a hundred famous names before she lost track. And Sarek seemed to know and be known to all of them. She met and spoke with the Vulcan World Secretary, a magnificent, matronly woman who could be none other than Vulcan’s Ambassador to the Centaurus colonies, and then passed inspection by the entire Vulcan diplomatic corps present.
After that, she retired to the ladies’ room, down a long luxurious corridor and into a tapestried and carpeted lounge where several uniformed women waited to help her repair her hairdo, remove the splash marks someone’s drink had made, and generally make themselves useful.
Refreshed, Amanda prepared to return to Sarek’s side when an impeccably robed Andorian reporter cornered her. "Miss Grayson, is it true that Sarek’s daughter is refusing to speak to her father because of you?"
Gulp. "What? My dear woman," she said, astonished at herself (she had never ‘my dear womaned’ anybody before), "that is a leading question, and highly improper." And she literally swept out of the lounge.
On the floor once again, Sarek rescued her from the male contingent of the society press by whirling her off into a Venusian Waltz. They skirted the crowd of stiffly formal couples dancing a few dutiful steps apiece--after all, it couldn’t be a Ball if there weren’t a little dancing--and found a clear space beside the high-arching, clear walls of the penthouse ballroom.
Sarek said, "I had no idea you were such a good dancer."
"Neither did I," said Amanda not at all facetiously.
"I beg your pardon?"
"I said, ‘I had no idea you could dance so well, myself.’"
"I stand complimented."
"Sarek, did you see that Andorian reporter that went after me into the lounge?"
"Yes. That’s Ythmarsan."
"Huuuh! Oh! Oh, my. __The__ Ythmarsan?"
She recounted what had been said, and ended, "Sarek, I’m sorry I said that to her."
"You were perfectly correct."
"That’s beside the point. Utterly beside the point. Sarek, you just can’t snub a person like that. But I was so . . . well . . . angry at the effrontery. Well, it doesn’t matter, well . . ." She stopped. She had always said ‘well’ too often when she got excited as a gangling adolescent. But she had thought she’d whipped that problem. She took herself firmly in hand and turned to him, clutching the railing that separated the people on the ballroom floor from the sheer drop to the town below--it was a forcefield wall, as clear as if it weren’t there and so the railing for moral support.
"Sarek, I’m going to find her and give her a civil ‘no’ for an answer and apologize for being brusque. Then I’m going to tell her that I’ll answer any question that’s put to me properly."
She had half turned away, searching for the woman among the dazzling crowd, when Sarek said, very quietly, "Amanda, you can’t do that."
"Give her a civil ‘no’ for an answer."
"Why not? I’m not worried about saving my face, I’m worried about saving your career!"
"Amanda, her information was correct. When I told T’Uriamne that I was escorting you to this Ball, she immediately took steps to sever all relationships remaining between us. She is moving her things right now."
He undertook to repeat what he’d said, but Amanda said, "No, I heard you. I think it’s past time that I had a talk with T’Uriamne. A long talk."
"Amanda, no. Please try to understand that this has been building for more than a year now. Your presence is only one small factor in a large situation. But it is a family matter."
"I see. Well, then I won’t mention it to her, I’ll just apologize to Ythmarsan."
"You must not go near her again. She’s a professional. She will provoke you into saying something or doing something that she can print. You are news today, Amanda."
Amanda looked out over the crowd. "Yes, perhaps you’re right."
"I think we’ve accomplished what we came here to accomplish. I’ll take you home now, if you like. Or would you prefer to stay?"
She looked out over the gala scene, swirling colors, and bright lights. There had been a time in her teens when she had dreamed such things with heady romanticism. But she didn’t enjoy being a notorious Cinderella. "We’re finished here. Let’s go."
During the days that followed, there was some disapproval from the school board over the publicity, but she talked them into believing it would all blow over without a trace in a matter of weeks, since there was nothing at all between her and Sarek. Oddly, there were tears in her eyes as she argued that before the impassive board members seated behind their polished table and clicking their computer keys nervously. She put it down to tears of vehemence and went back to living from the morning news to the noon fax sheet, to the evening news. She didn’t go back to the restaurant.
And he didn’t call until, several weeks later, the Tellarites had cancelled their veto and the Spacelanes jurisdictions passed by a narrow margin. Vulcan now controlled the largest piece of Federation space except for Earth. Vulcan Space Central was suddenly a Power in the UFP Transit and Communications Boards, and a new Wonder was born for the media to promote. Her notoriety died swiftly after that.
Then he called to ask her advice. He called often after that, always with some perfectly valid excuse, but always talking long after the subject was exhausted. It was the high point of her day. And somehow, she thought it was the high point of his as well. The nights he didn’t call were cold ones. One time, they got on the subject of Ythmarsan. "Sarek, have you heard whether she’s done anything with my name?"
"No. She must have forgotten about it."
"Oh, I doubt that. Maybe she’s waiting for something else to happen."
"She’s not even on planet."
"I have an Andorian friend who says Ythmarsan is the type that never gives up, especially on a grudge."
"Are you worried?"
"No. What else can happen that would bring her back to Vulcan? There aren’t many society events of the caliber of the Ball that occur on Vulcan. It would take something like a Royal Wedding . . . and Vulcan doesn’t have any royalty, does it?"
He almost laughed at that. "Well," he said, imitating her nervous ‘wells,’ "well, not really."
"Well, in tha . . ." She laughed, clapping her palm over her mouth. "Oh, Sarek." And they were off on the topic of humor, it’s purpose and proper role in etiquette.
Throughout these weeks, the topic uppermost in Amanda’s life was the coming excursion and she told many anecdotes about her prodigious battles with Vulcan Tours to avoid getting her class cancelled in favor of people who would only be there a few days of their lives. Sarek would listen raptly with glowing eyes, but she rarely noticed that because she was always so furious when recounting her run-ins with Vulcan bureaucracy. She never asked him for help with this, but told only after she’d solved the new dilemma with some clever innovation--and she told these stories mostly to illustrate the logic of intuition and the systematic application of human psychology.
Time passed swiftly, and then it was the big day, the day of the excursion so carefully worked up to for her ninth graders. She found them waiting in front of the school building. It was another bright, hot, sunny day. The airbus she had fought so long and hard to get had not yet arrived, but standing a little aside from the class was . . . T’Uriamne.
"Good morning, Miss Grayson," said the Vulcan with chill courtesy.
"Good morning. It was my understanding that you wouldn’t be attending classes."
"I will not be attending your class, Miss Grayson. I am replacing the Tour Guide."
"I didn’t ask for a Guide."
"Courtesy of Vulcan Tours, the charter includes information services which the driver is not equipped to provide."
Amanda compressed her lips over a tart, "We’ll see about that!" and pretended to scan the sky for the bus. The children were already starting to get restless. Some of the boys were starting a game of tag, and her two Schillians were cringing from the unleashed emotions.
Just then, the orange and blue skybus appeared over the hill and circled down toward the school building’s landing rotunda. The children scattered to leave room for the bus to settle into place. Amanda gave up her plan to call the Tour company and complain. There was no time for that now. The children were scrambling aboard, their eager feet scarcely touching the steps that extended when the door opened.
The streamlined, egg-shaped vehicle was soon filled with the eager class, leaving Amanda and T’Uriamne alone on the rotunda. A second door opened in the vehicle and the driver swung down from his compartment, an oval bulge on the upper front quadrant of the skybus.
"S’Quen!" said T’Uriamne, stepping forward. "You aren’t supposed to be working!" Then she went on in rapid Vulcanar which Amanda’s translator couldn’t quite handle, though she did garner that there had recently been a death in S’Quen’s immediate family, which was the reason he had been given leave.
That struck Amanda as unusual for the unemotional Vulcans, but S’Quen’s explanation seemed to satisfy T’Uriamne. As nearly as Amanda could gather, T’Uriamne’s presence made the difference. Though that didn’t seem logical to Amanda, it apparently made sense to the Vulcans.
Turning from the woman, S’Quen approached Amanda. "Miss Grayson, I regret that there were no other drivers available for this excursion. If you would care to postpone your trip, there will be no extra charge."
Amanda looked from the two Vulcans to the class. "No . . . the children would be __so__ disappointed, and I doubt if we would have time left in this session to re-schedule the trip.
We’ve just completed a unit on xenobionics which we built on Vulcan forestry management practices. Isn’t today the last day of the forest-harvest?"
"It is," said T’Uriamne with some reluctance. "It would not be proper to deprive the children of an opportunity to acquire knowledge."
"Then," said Amanda, climbing the three stairs into the skybus, "we’d better be going." She turned to look down on T’Uriamne, wondering why it felt good to stand even three steps higher than the Vulcan.
S’Quen climbed back into his cab, leaving T’Uriamne to hand herself into the bus. Amanda took the first seat leaving the Guide’s seat--the reversed one that faced the passengers--for T’Uriamne.
The ensuing ride was anything but pleasant for Amanda, but she had to admit that the Vulcan knew her stuff. Not one landmark passed without comment--good comment pitched right to the class’s level and all integrated with the forestry subject, too--but it seemed that every work was a barbed reminder to Amanda that she had ‘gone over T’Uriamne’s head’ to Sarek instead of asserting her own authority to handle her own problems.
Finally, though, they did arrive at the Laclelan Forestry. Amanda had thought that the Foresters would provide the Guide for the tour, leaving T’Uriamne to wait in the skybus. But no. Apparently the harvest season was in full swing, and manpower was short. In the end, the driver was pressed into service to drive the train of open gondola cars that would transport the class from observation site to observation site.
This time the driver had to sit right out in the open among the children. At the time, Amanda had thought nothing of the way T’Uriamne clung to the man’s side. She had not then known how to recognize apprehension and nervousness in a Vulcan. All she saw in T’Uriamne was the tension of an enemy, and she could not fathom why the woman had come on this excursion.
It was mid-morning by the time they had made three stops to observe the foresters at three different stages of their work. Amanda had the class drawn up in a kind of natural amphitheater overhung with the ashen and ivory-colored tree limbs that, despite lacking green leaves, still provided shade enough. She was lecturing to the class, trying to tie together what they had seen with what they had learned these last weeks.
When the private aircar landed out of sight near their cars, she paid no attention. T’Uriamne was standing behind the last row of seated children, arms folded at her waist, and for once listening quietly. But Amanda didn’t like the expression on her face. The Vulcan was planning something. She could tell. It took all of her concentration to continue the lecture.
Presently, a figure appeared beside T’Uriamne. They spoke for a moment, then disappeared into the trees. Relaxing a bit, Amanda continued to talk, putting her whole mind to preparing the class for what they were to see next, and promising them lunch at a unique Vulcan Inn patterned after the pre-Reform culture that had existed in this area.
At length, she got them lined up and headed back for the cars. When she got there, she found the private aircar just disappearing into the distance, and standing with S’Quen was Sarek. They were intensely absorbed in some argument, but as she approached, Sarek turned. "Miss Grayson. I could not allow T’Uriamne to violate my word to you. I will take her place for the remainder of your tour."
Before she could answer, S’Quen interposed. "Miss Grayson, it would be most advisable to terminate your excursion now. I will return the group to the school . . ."
She looked at the line of children filing aboard the cars. Not a one of them had misbehaved the whole morning. She had told them, and they knew she meant it, that any student who disobeyed any of the rules of conduct would be left to eat alone in the gondolas while the class enjoyed the Vulcan restaurant. Now that they were heading for that restaurant, the class was gripped by a subdued excitement greater than she’d ever seen. Even the problem students who never seemed interested in anything were almost bubbling over. She couldn’t let T’Uriamne spoil yet another learning adventure for this class.
Or was she rationalizing? __No__, she thought. __It__ __isn’t__ __just__ __that__ __I__ __want__ __to__ __hear__ __Sarek__ __talk__. __It’s__ __the__ __class__ __I’m__ __thinking__ __of__. But as she answered S’Quen, she looked at T’Uriamne’s father. "If it’s at all possible, it would be best to continue according to schedule."
And he looked squarely at her. "That should not be at all difficult."
Amanda often wondered in later years what her life would have been like had she done as S’Quen wanted. But with her decision expressed, Sarek traded another few words with S’Quen and the driver climbed into the lead gondola. Amanda’s impression was later confirmed. Sarek had pulled rank. A thing he very __very__ seldom did for any reason whatever. But he never had admitted that he did it because he wanted to be near her, or to please her. He, too, had decided that the children’s learning justified the possible expense. He, too, had not anticipated the true extent of the charge fickle Nature would exact.
They climbed into the car, he yielding the reversed Guide’s seat to her. "You sit there so you can supervise the class. I’ll just pull the microphone across like this so they can hear me." It made her job a lot easier, and somehow, with T’Uriamne gone, the tension too was gone. She relaxed and enjoyed the deep tones of his voice heard both directly and through the
amplifying system. He spoke English flawlessly.
They made two more stops and then hit a broad road that snaked up between rolling hills. "You are now entering virgin forest," said Sarek, without the slightest trace of ‘lecture’ in his tone. "North of us, to your right, lies the main underground aqueduct that supports both the offworld enclave (__T’Uriamne__ __would__ __have__ __called__ __it__ __Useless__ __City__ __right__ __to__ __our__ __faces__! thought Amanda.) and the Vulcan World Capital farther to the south. This tract of land is kept in its primitive state for instructional and scientific purposes. At the Korimah where you will have lunch, you will tour the museum which displays the major discoveries that have grown out of this preserved tract."
He ran the microphone back into its receptacle, switching off the amplifier. They rode the rest of the way in silence, enjoying the scenery and the fresh, hot, air. She noted that he wore the emblem of Vulcan Tours pinned to his tunic. One day, years later, she would learn that he had worked for them, though at the time there wasn’t much offworld tourism reaching Vulcan.
At the Korimah, they found two long banquet tables set up for the class. The dining room was a long, high-ceilinged, rustic hall. The far end of the room was taken up by an enormous fireplace. The tables and benches on which they sat were crudely hewn from stone on which a wood surface had somehow been laminated. Daylight came only from a round hole in the ceiling, and she noted that sconces on the walls about the room bore unmistakable blackening--torches were used at night.
The place was deliberately primitive, but the food was modern and good. Each child was served individually to be sure that the nutritional needs of each species were properly met. But each meal included an assortment of Vulcan delicacies accompanied by a small card explaining how it was produced from the virgin forest’s plants.
She had never seen the class so happy, so active, so __involved__. The young men and women who were serving the meal stayed to make sure the children didn’t trade foods for tasting and they answered questions readily. Amanda, Sarek and S’Quen finished early. Amanda knew the children would consume another forty minutes or so going to the restrooms after they finished eating, so when S’Quen suggested that they take a walk, she agreed. "I’ll stay with them," said Sarek readily enough. "But don’t go far, Miss Grayson."
"Just out for a breath of air. It’s rather close in here." Actually, it was stifling. At least outside there was a breeze.
The Korimah was located in a natural clearing, surrounded by spiky grasses traversed by stone pathways. She strolled beside S’Quen toward the cars. He paused to check his control panel to see if any messages had come in while they were gone. Then they walked on down the path toward the edge of the forest.
The cleared stone path continued under the elfin lace trees that seemed carved from alabaster and amber. From the shaded tunnel came a cool breeze wafting to her nostrils a magnificent mixture of fresh scents. It had been a long time since she had walked among such a profusion of life. The cool, pungent air drew her forward when S’Quen stopped. She meant to go only a few steps, but the path curved and the air became even cooler. __There__ __must__ __be__ __open__ __water__ __ahead__, she thought. __I’ll__ __just__ __look__ __once__ __and__ __go__ __back__. Surface water was such a rarity on Vulcan. It was irresistible.
At length, she came to a glade surrounding a wide spot, not quite a pond, in a rippling brook of clear water. The trees arched overhead producing a midnight gloom here even at the height of the day. It was a luxuriously beautiful spot. She did not know that the path, as well as the others like it that radiated from the clearing of the Korimah, had not been built to lead to beauty. But to her, the beauty of the spot was overwhelming, despite the odor that was stronger here, almost an acrid stab at the back of her nose. Tracing the scent, she decided it must come from the yellow and purple flowers that carpeted the ground on the other side of the shallow pond. They were small flowers, but very intricately formed, with lacy ruffles on the edge of each petal. Not a one was larger than her hand’s breadth, but in profusion, they made up for their size. They seemed to have just bloomed, some being only half open, but even the freshest seemed too wilted to hold up its own petals. They drooped along the ground. But they were magnetically alluring.
She stepped into the water--it wasn’t very cold--leaving her shoes on the bank of the stream, and waded across. The bitter smell was overpowering at that range, creating a lingering aftertaste on her tongue, bitter as the taste of a perfume. From this edge of the stream, she could see that the blossoms extended back under the trees where it was even darker, but they were all weak, small, and drooping. It looked like the end of their blooming period, so she was certain the authorities wouldn’t mind if she plucked just one of the magnificent flowers to show the children. They were so unusually soft and moist for a Vulcan plant, certainly an oddity of considerable academic interest.
She found that the one she had chosen came off its stem with some ease, ripe for the plucking. She held it up to admire its phosphorescent purple edges set off against the white-veined gold of the petals. It was a beauty to feed the soul.
She never knew how long she stood there, turning the gorgeous blossom to catch the whispers of light filtering through the overhead forest. She never knew how long S’Quen had resisted following her down that pathway, nor just when he had recognized the odor. She never
knew how long he had stood at the edge of the clearing watching her wade the stream, pluck the Bloom, hold it up, hum melodically to herself over her joyful find and sway to the rhythm of her song because the hidden beauties of Vulcan uplifted her so.
She knew of his presence only when his booted feet splashed noisily across the stream behind her. Of the next few moments of her life, only one image remained indelibly etched in her mind: the impassive, clean-cut, efficient face of the tour-bus driver--a man of impeccable credentials and utmost Vulcan reserve--twisted into a feral snarl compounded of so many hard-driven emotions it defied interpretation.
One moment, she was at the height of elation feeding on a tranquil joy she never thought existed on the scorched dust world of Vulcan; the next instant, viselike hands clamped on her arms, she was bent back by savage, male strength. She remembered how S’Quen’s eyes had seemed to bulge out of their sockets, showing the whites all around them as he looked with some uninterpretable mixture of horror and reverence at the flowers.
She smelled the heat of his dry breath as he dragged in gulp after gulp of the acrid air, panting faster and faster as if smothering in it. She drew breath to demand to be released, but just then what ragged shreds of self-control the man had deserted him. He crushed her body to him with almost all his enormous Vulcan strength and they both fell into the bed of flowers, mashing dozens beneath themselves. The breath she had drawn came out in a piercing, panic-stricken scream.
She struggled, kicking, scratching, biting, to get away from him. She couldn’t tell if he wanted to rape her or kill her or both, but all she wanted was to get __away__ from him. Without thinking, she kept the plucked flower away from him.
Suddenly, S’Quen’s weight was plucked off of her. She saw him sail through the air and land in the water before she saw her rescuer.
She remembered having said something embarrassingly inane such as, "Oh, Sarek! You saved my life. How can I ever thank you?" followed by a rising shriek of, "Look out!"
Sarek turned just in time to grapple with S’Quen once more. This time, though, the match was more even. They parted again, circling warily. S’Quen spat some words at Sarek’s feet, and Sarek glanced at her before replying. There was a hint of the wide-eyed ferocity in his expression now, but she could easily forgive him that. She smiled. He spat his reply to S’Quen and the duel was on in earnest.
They fought their way through the water to the other side, both of them reeking of crushed Blooms, and she followed, her dress stained with the juice of the flowers. At one point, S’Quen had both hands on the back of Sarek’s neck in a peculiar hold, and Sarek’s face had gone dark green for a moment. Doing something with his feet too fast to follow, Sarek broke the hold. But after that, he was angry--no, more than angry. He was __mad__--insane with a deepening rage too primal to be described. Sarek wrapped his fist around a rock and rammed it home to S’Quen’s lower rib cage, right over the heart. As the man dropped to his knees, Sarek got the neck-hold on him and with apparent gentleness, broke the spinal cord cleanly in two.
Afterwards, he stood, reeling slightly, over the body, empty-handed, for uncounted moments. Then he turned away from the body, and staggering a little, drove himself toward the pathway, the only way out of the glade.
Amanda ran to his side to support him. Over and over in her mind repeated the phrase, ‘. . . Vulcans don’t kill . . .". "Sarek, he’s not . . . dead . . . is he?"
Feeling her come up beside him, he turned, stopping for a moment. And what she saw in his face frightened her almost more than S’Quen had. __Horror__, __unbelieving__ __horror__. __Beyond__ __reality__.
His hands on her shoulders were as strong as S’Quen’s, but under the overstrength of urgency there was a gentleness that hadn’t been in the other Vulcan. It was there for only the briefest flash, and then with a supreme effort of will, he wrenched himself away from her and lurched toward the tunnel pathway. "Got to get out of here!"
When they got to the end of the tunnel, blaring sunlight struck shafts of pain through their eyes. For Amanda, it was just another pain to add to her collection of bruises, but for Sarek it was the stimulus for a temporary return to sanity.
An aircar sat in the clearing before them, and the two women who got out were enough of an added shock to give him back a measure of self-control. The fresh air helped, too--a little. He walked across the grass, and in low, almost dispassionate tones, explained to T’Pau exactly what had happened. In later years, he often found himself looking back on that performance as the supreme achievement of his lifetime. T’Uriamne’s barbed comments were each met with a retort of just the appropriate kind.
T’Uriamne had brought T’Pau to overrule Sarek’s usurpation of her place. Instead, the two women were called upon to sit as Daughters and rule on an interstellar incident of incredible proportions. And with the Daughters on the scene, the whole thing was handled with dispatch. Minutes after they had emerged from the Blooming Walk, the rangers had detailed two men to take the children back to the school, Sarek had been spirited away to a private room in the Inn, and Amanda sat before them in an office reserved for the use of the Daughters.
Her wounds had been tended and she had on a new, if somewhat large, garment. Belted, it didn’t look half bad, and she at least felt up to talking calmly.
T’Uriamne said to T’Pau, as if Amanda weren’t there, "Night blooming plants don’t bloom at noon, T’Pau."
"I’ve already placed a call for the botanists to come and examine them. It’s apparently a local phenomenon involving only the one glade. None of the others around the building are active. I examined the flowers personally. They are less than a third their normal size. Possible some plant disease, but I hardly think we can blame it on the human."
T’Uriamne was silent to that, and Amanda was certain the girl would have loved to blame the whole thing on her. It took them half an hour to get four basic facts into her head (she hadn’t been as calm as she had thought.) One: the Blooming triggers pon farr. Having never heard of pon farr, it took some mind-stretching to encompass that fact. Two: S’Quen had just lost his wife and had been at that time already overdue for the cyclical drive to commence. He was thus un-mated, and had, in the attack of madness, chose her. Three: in defending her from a man she did not want, Sarek had won her in honorable combat. The applicable laws were so ancient and unused (since widespread Bloomings no longer occurred, and Bonding was the norm, such an instance hadn’t arisen in so long, even T’Pau didn’t happen to know when it had happened last) that T’Uriamne hadn’t even studied them yet.
At that point, T’Pau insisted the girl leave the room. Amanda was surprised how humbly T’Uriamne complied. The next point T’Pau made, number four, was that Sarek would die unless she married him. And there wasn’t__much__ time.
"Amanda, I do not want such a mixed marriage among us. But I do not want Sarek to die. He has no son. He is the last of his line, and a precious line it is to Vulcan. It is not right to ask you for such a decision unprepared, unknowing. You two have not yet been joined in Bonding, and so there is still a very slim but real chance we could transfer his desire from you to a more suitable match--if you would co-operate."
She switched to her broken but understandable English. "Thee is not bound by our laws. Thee need not become his property or his wife. If he has no need of thee, he will surely free thee."
At that point, the door opened, but T’Pau continued. "I need his son from this Blooming. You cannot know how rare and how precious this opportunity is. The survival of Vulcan may depend on the choice of the mother of this Child of the Blooming."
"Amanda!" It was Sarek, clutching the door frame for support.
T’Pau interposed herself between the two, and continued talking to Amanda. "T’Kye is on her way. She’ll be here within minutes. You cannot handle him now. She can. Yield to her, Amanda."
Sarek said, "You chose me. I chose to give my life for you. I do not want T’Kye."
T’Pau turned to him. "Afterwards, that will not matter."
"I know. Amanda, you must choose again. It will not be easy for you to bear my son. It was not easy for me to answer your call. Choosing is rarely easy, but is always possible."
Knowing now what she knew of the effect of the Blooming, of the dreaded illogic of pon farr, of the pressures even now rising in him, Amanda admired with all her soul the rock-hard composure that was not calm.
T’Pau said, "This joining will be for life. It cannot be un-chosen. One cannot choose wisely in ignorance."
Never did Sarek’s eyes waver from hers during those tense moments of choice and re-choice. She still had not spoken when another aircar landed, T’Kye’s. Before Amanda ever saw the woman, Sarek said, "T’Pau, you will go with us to D’R’Hiset. It is my right. Amanda, you will have the time of the trip to decide. It must be a true decision."
On the way to the aircars, T’Pau said to Sarek, "It is the power of the Blooming that draws you to her. I can’t recall when anyone has suffered such an exposure and lived to tell of it. But, Sarek, it is illogical to choose her. Children of such mixes rarely survive, and if they do, they are sterile more often than not."
"I do not want T’Kye. I feel death when I think of her."
"It is the Blooming. It is not logical."
"It __seems__ logical to choose life. Amanda’s eyes breathe life into me. Now, more than ever since T’Yuzeti’s death. I want to live." Overhearing those words. Amanda chose.
And that, thought Amanda, standing with her husband in the Ambassadorial offices, was
the start of all. Today, they knew the weak, sporadic Bloomings had been caused by the onset of the botanical plague that now threatened Vulcan’s only intelligent species. Of course, the pon farr wasn’t tied exclusively to the Blooming, but the balance was critical. They hadn’t yet succeeded in the synthesis of the complexly interacting conditions that could adequately simulate the effect of the Blooming. She was convinced the effect was partly psychological. But she would never be able to prove in it a laboratory.
And the only thing she could prove with airtight mathematical precision was that T’Uriamne’s theory had been correct. How ironic. How much can change in forty years. T’Uriamne had been trying to establish that the origin of the unsettling trends just beginning to be discernible in Vulcan’s schools was indeed the human element in the Federation. And now it appeared that Amanda was going to prove that the unusual trends within the Federation, and human settlements in particular, were due largely to the influence of Vulcan on the Federation. And then there would be quantitative studies and fancy mathematics to determine relative rates of interpenetration. There would be analysis and logical argument. Who would win?
"Cold? I can open a window."
"No. Let’s go home."
During the next few days, as she prepared to face T’Pau, Amanda often shivered. That first confrontation with the (even then) old matriarch had ended with T’Pau conceding to the human. Had Amanda known at the time just who and what T’Pau was, she would never have been able to stand up to her so steadily. But with that one incident at her wedding, Amanda had gained a reputation on Vulcan as a courageous woman.
She had stood before T’Pau in the open amphitheater and she had chosen her man. She too had felt life when she looked into Sarek’s eyes. She would have liked to spend years getting to know him before taking such an irrevocable step. But she knew that, had their positions been reversed and __she__ had had to answer his call for help, she would have gone.
She had defied T’Pau. She had been right. She had won. And with Spock, she had made good on her implicit promise. Sometimes, she thought he was even a little too Vulcan for his own good. But, on any world, he was a son to be proud of. Now, for his sake, she would approach T’Pau again. If necessary, even knowing who and what T’Pau was, she would defy again. And she would win again!
With a little, dry-throated tremble of awe, she hoped.
But she did more than hope. She prepared herself diligently. And then the day came.
All rights reserved to the authors and artists. Not intended to infringe on copyrights held by Gene Roddenberry or Paramount Corp.
Get Kraith and Jean Lorrah's NTM fanzines on paper: