(RBW Note. The title to this story is printed top to bottom on the left and right side of the illustration.)
(RBW Note. Picture of a Vulcan female.)
Kirk and McCoy materialized in the spacious main hall of Spock’s home. Even before his vision cleared Kirk’s first impression was of that deep silence lapping at his nerves, soaking up all his tensions, combing the emotional kinks out of his thoughts and leaving a reverberating peace within. It was as strong, and as inexplicable an effect, as it had been the first time he’d encountered it.
When his vision cleared, Kirk saw that the hall was exactly as he remembered it, save that at one end of the long room the hangings had been pulled aside to reveal a wall-sized viewscreen and in the center of the richly patterned area rug that held the room’s lone grouping of seats stood Sarek and Amanda. They were dressed formally and Kirk felt out of place in working uniform. "May You Live Long and Prosper, Captain Kirk . . . Dr. McCoy."
The humans returned the greeting and Sarek motioned them to chairs. "The proceedings are about to begin."
Grateful for the air conditioning, McCoy allowed Amanda to install him in a chair with a Saurian Brandy. Kirk declined Amanda’s silent offer of a drink with a wave of his hand. "Tell me. Mr. Ambassador . . ."
"I hold no post at the moment, Captain. Just call me Sarek."
"All right, sir. What I wanted to ask . . . will the issue be decided by the members of the Council today?"
"Who are the members of the Council?" asked McCoy, swirling his drink and settling into the straight-backed but well-upholstered chair.
"Membership is hereditary, Doctor, and restricted to Kataykikhe who trace their lineage back at least as far as the Reformation, in unbroken tradition."
"Sir," said Kirk, "may I ask a personal question?"
"You may ask."
"ah . . . well . . . what are Spock’s chances . . . in your opinion?"
Sarek glanced at the screen which still showed only a sign in unadorned Vulcan script. As he watched, moving letters crawled across the top of the screen and disappeared. "Yes. Another delay. It won’t be long though." He continued thoughtfully, "There are many factors to be considered, Captain. T’Uriamne has the advantages of age and gender. Also, on her mother’s side, she has an inheritance which Spock doesn’t share. That may be decisive." He glanced at Amanda who remained pleasantly impassive.
"However, Spock is an unknown quantity. He is a law unto himself. He has surprised me often in his short life. But I doubt if he would have registered this Challenge if he hadn’t judged a fair chance of success."
"But he doesn’t know T’Uriamne."
Sarek threw Kirk a sharp glance. "True. But he knows her arguments. They’ve been a part of this family all of his life."
"So I understand."
"What I do not understand, Captain, is exactly how Spock intends to make his point. I have found no flaw in T’Uriamne’s proposal."
"If he fails . . . ." Kirk didn’t know quite how to put it. "Will you remain here?"
Sarek looked at Amanda as he answered, "Yes. I must."
"And I," provided Amanda, "will have to leave."
She didn’t believe it. She read the report, she understood the details, the schematics of Stovam’s objections, the possible consequences -- and she simply didn’t believe it.
"He’s out of his mind," she whispered to herself, bewildered. She glanced over at Sarek. "Isn’t he?"
Sarek, two tense brackets carved whitely at the corners of his mouth, was silent for those first few crucial seconds. And a delicate cog in Amanda’s mind clicked into belief--and anger. She whirled and left.
Out. Away from Vulcans. Away from--Sarek?
Sarek was Vulcan.
She was Human.
Stovam was the head of the commission that had investigated the theft of the Kraith, the living symbol of Vulcan past, present and future. The Stovam Report delineated in detail the attitudes of the Humans in the Federation that had lead up to the theft, and the results contact with Humans and Human culture were having on Vulcans and Vulcan society. Its tone was ominous; its recommendations, drastic. It advised, if the effect of humanity on the baseboards of Vulcan culture were to be judged deleterious enough to outweigh the obvious benefits, immediate withdrawal from the Federation. Apartheid. Don’t call us. We won’t call you.
How dare they!
She took the stairs fast. Up in the rooftop garden she paced and simmered. Yes, Human value systems were changing, distorting if you will, the traditional Vulcan values. Yes, there had been some disturbing incidents lately. The Paki boy, the Regus III debacle, the new mercenary contracts. But why, suddenly, was every piece of Vulcan irrationality for the past ten years due to ‘Human contagion’? Since when was ‘Human’ a dirty word? It was a popular Vulcan pose, to consider the emotional races inferior, but for Amanda the joke had long since worn thin. Worn out.
Since when had she felt on the defensive with Sarek?
A thin-walled vessel shattered against the vibrating balustrade as Amanda struck it, open palmed and with full force. Uncaring, she stood for a moment more, her anger hardening into an unbreakable shell, before going below.
For the next two days she blocked any attempt of Sarek’s to communicate. He had forfeited that right by not speaking when he could have. He was finally snubbed into a miserable silence. The vis-com started blinking with calls soon enough. Amanda had been the official liaison for Humans on Vulcan for the past twenty years. She let them blink. That first evening, she moved into Spock’s room.
Vulcan was a harsh world, its people violent and as spare and infertile as their fields. Humans were indolent by comparison, and, as the legend went, could have repopulated the earth with but two of their kind. Vulcans were impelled to renounce their own dangerously destructive emotions. __Impelled__. So they had made a virtue of necessity. Well enough. Humans had been known to do the same. But times had changed. There was no longer any __need__ for Vulcans to practice self-denial merely to keep their race alive. Vulcan had colonized a dozen worlds; it was a major trade center for the Federation. They could afford to relax.
But no, that would mean Vulcans could no longer be special, unique, set apart--superior. An enemy was needed. Someone to unite against, hold apart from. And, as had been done so long ago in Hitler’s Germany, an enemy was created. Guess who was elected for the role of __Weissjuden__?
How __dare__ they!
She was up in the Garden of Thought again a few days later, still encased in her shell of rage. The broken pot caught her attention. Absently, she brushed the shards away. Red clay, matching the sky for color, jagged as the Langmarr Mountains . . . . She looked up, seeking her surroundings for the first time in days with clear eyes. Was it really possible, that she might have to leave all this, her home for forty years?
Her arms were tight across her breasts, encircling the pain her anger had held at bay until now. Sarek . . . .
"I don’t want to leave!" she cried, and the wind whipped her words away, into nothingness.
She was crumpled, trembling, chilled even in the fierce heat, and blinded with sudden tears--all the signs by which the body seeks to avoid what the mind already knows. For if this thing came to its conclusion, if Sarek’s full-blooded Vulcan daughter T’Uriamne had her way (does she hate me that much? Amanda wondered) then Amanda would have to leave her home. And Sarek, bound to follow Vulcan’s inexorable customs, would stay.
Slowly she straightened, went downstairs, mind grasping to hold this fierce truth, as hand might grip a naked swordblade. Firmly, without wavering, though it cut to the bone.
She went to her communication room, frozen, played the tape of names and messages of those who had called. There were duties to be performed. She had shunted them aside long enough. The name of Beck’t Kinlee sprang out at her. Beck’t had been one of the first Humans to live on Vulcan, the first to marry a Vulcan. Her knowledge and experience could be valuable. Amanda punched the number without having to look it up. All over Vulcan--all over the Federation--people would be reading, digesting, reacting to the Stovam Report. Talking to Beck’t might give her some
idea what to expect.
Beck’t’s face appeared in the screen. She was some twenty years older than Amanda herself, but she had just had her first rejuv and looked much as Amanda first remembered her, a stoutish, middle-aged woman with sandy hair.
"Oh, Amanda," Beck’t said distractedly. Her eyes were red rimmed. "I just heard this morning. It’s bad, isn’t it?"
"I haven’t heard, Beck’t. What’s been happening?"
"Thelu. Last night." Thelu was half-Human, a silent woman in her early thirties. Beck’t was chaffing her hands together, not seeming to know what she was doing. She burst out gruffly, "Amanda, Thelu’s killed herself."
The dawn sky smoldered, backlighting the outcropping of rock in the wilderness, stark and desolate. There, an outline cut out against the embers of a cold fire, the gaunt ebony figure stood, racked by some inward tension, apprehension or ecstasy. His arms were suddenly flung upward in a silent, fierce statement. Then he leaped from the rock and was gone.
Saluraz read his copy of the Stovam Report carefully, although he couldn’t see how it could affect him. He was a trader, with his own one-man ship, and he was rarely within Federation territory anyway. He was only on Vulcan now to arrange for schooling for his son. The child seemed unwilling to learn the simplest aspects on control. Delcitch’t would soon break him of that; it followed the most stringent of reform traditions. The boy would soon find his distasteful emotionalism impractical. Discipline, that was the answer, unremitting and constant as he could not administer it.
Half in the shadow of a chair, the four year old crouched. His face was lowered, but the sunlight caught a corner of one hazel eye--now shining with suppressing tears--the smooth round curve of an ear, and the glint of copper from rich red hair. His shoulders shook with convulsive sobs, but he was completely quiet, his throat cramped tightly against a betraying sound. Saluraz glanced at the boy, gaze drifting over the details of his son’s ancestry that the Vulcan had long ago taught himself to ignore. Instantly the boy was still, every muscle locking rigid until Saluraz’s attention was diverted again. Saluraz called the boy Sluron, but his mother had named him Ian.
Meg Robinson ate her breakfast methodically while studying the morning proof-sheets. This was normal. Her job at Topeka Trans-Tours was not particularly absorbing, and she caught up only when she had to; i.e., the morning before. The elves dashed amid her feet, also as usual, their early morning energy boundless. The news-snoop gave a slight ping and discreetly slid a sheet of fax onto the table. This was not normal. The news-snoop was set to select for articles with one particular word prominent. Vulcan.
Letting the proofs drift down unnoticed, Meg reached for the article and scanned it. Once skimming, then a second time, more slowly. Her eyes stopped and fixed at the last line, an informal opinion poll.
The elves raced up to her chair and peeked at her over the arm, their bright-eyed, prick-eared faces interested. One asked, "Watcha looking at, Mommy?"
Meg looked at them, back at the newssheet. "Oh, shit," said Meg Robinson.
Selver, in his hospital robe, read the morning paper to Linnet. This, to him, seemed a pleasant contrast. Usually it was the other way around. But Linnet was in the sixth month of her pregnancy and Thaiv wanted to watch her closely. Linnet was not having an easy time.
His own physicians had pronounced him ambulatory that morning, with the remission lasting perhaps three months this time. He might even be on his feet to see their daughter born. This thought pleased him, so that he lost touch with what he was reading and automatically let his eyes scan ahead. The next headline struck meaning into his brain. He could feel the blood draining from his face.
"What’s the matter?" Linnet asked without opening her eyes, hearing him falter. She was lying on her side, one hand under her cheek, face pinched and tired. Selver looked at her quickly, then back at the headline.
"Sixty one per cent?!" Tanya Minos said. Her tone held a note of numb disbelief. "How could it get that far, Spock?"
Spock examined T’Aniyeh, his Human bondmate, with his eyes. She had seemed to become
much more stable after their bonding; her behavior, erratic and mood-dependent even for a Human, steadying down to something more approaching the Vulcan calm in which she’d been raised. Neurotic, McCoy had called her before. Cured, Spock had thought. But the bundle of commentaries and addenda to the Stovam Report were rapidly eroding that newly acquired self-possession. He didn’t know which way she would jump.
"Three recent incidents, as you know, have affected the Human-Vulcan atmosphere greatly," Spock pointed out cautiously. "The Paki boy. A Vulcan orphaned at birth and raised by Humans--discovered fourteen years later, healthy, content, and completely telepathically blind."
"It would have been better had they put out his eyes," Tanya interrupted violently. "Mutilation . . . ."
"The Regus III affair," Spock went on carefully. "Skell dead, Twill dying several months later of injuries received, and all seventeen of the Human miners massacred. The two races on that world resolved their conflicts with death." He couldn’t tell if T’Aniyeh was listening or not, her head shaking slowly from side to side.
"And lastly, but perhaps most ominously of all, contracts have been signed to supply battle-fronts on Che and Melke with mercenaries--Vulcan tacticians." He paused, went on. "T’Uriamne will of course call a General Question to decide the issues raised by the Stovam Report. Her views are known. I shall oppose her, but the 11.671 margin this preliminary polling gives her will prove--"
"We’re going to lose, aren’t we, Spock?"
He considered several answers, mentally shrugged.
McCoy said, "And Spock . . . ."
"That, Doctor, is a very good question." Sarek glanced again at the screen as the crawling string of characters reappeared. He rose and detached a control box from the panel under the screen then resumed his seat.
The sign vanished revealing a long, richly decorated, rectangular room. The floor was flat, but around the sides were banks of seats.
Sarek turned to the Humans. "Loud enough?"
Amanda said, "A little louder, please."
Two bellbanner bearers entered from two doors on either side of the blue-green chairs at the far end of the room. Pacing slowly, they circled the room twice and exited the way they’d come. But the sound didn’t die out. It increased. And presently, six bellbanner bearers marching in pairs entered through one of the doors. Behind them came four strong men in ceremonial dress bearing an ornate litter.
They marched directly to the white chairs; the curtains parted and a very old and frail woman appeared. She was dressed in a plain black robe with a hood that covered her head. As she ascended the dais, Kirk recognized T’Pau. She looked years older than when he’d seen her last. Age overtook Vulcans very swiftly near the end of their long lives. But when she spoke, her voice was strong and clear.
Sarek said, "Are you getting any of that?"
"No," said Amanda.
He adjusted his controls nodding. "The translator is keyed in, but even so, much of this will be fairly unintelligible to you. That’s the best I can do."
They watched the scene unfold. T’Pau finished her speech and snapped a command to the banner bearers. They trooped out the other door and came back in slow march with a tall, thin, dark-haired beauty of a woman. She marched so smoothly she appeared to float a half inch above the floor. Every few yards, the procession stopped, turned toward the fire pit for a few seconds while the banners were shaken to a vigorous rhythm.
At one point, the group faced the pickup Sarek had chosen and Kirk had a chance to examine her costume. She was dressed in sparkling white robes under a cloak that fell from shoulder to ankle. The high white collar stood almost to the top of her piled hair in neat contrast to its blackness. Under her cloak, her body was hung with loops of heavy golden chain. Kirk could see that each link was carved with an intricate design and supported a tiny medallion. When she moved, there was a euphonious chiming that blended beautifully with the different chords of the bellbanners. It looked like a heavy burden for such a frail body.
After two slow circuits of the room, she stopped at the fire pit and approached the rim of the circular depression. Sarek switched channels to get a closeup of her face as she bent to pick something from the rim of the pit. Now Kirk could see the family resemblance. The high
cheekbones and distinctive jawline, and the thin, wiry physique were similar to Spock’s. But the complexion was far more "Vulcan."
When she straightened, she’d taken a long rod from an array beside the pit. To the accompaniment of vigorous shaking of the bellbanners, she dipped the tip of the rod into the fire, held it for a second, and raised it, planting the bottom firmly in a hole in the stone floor. A tiny red flame blossomed from the rod,a (sic RBW rod, a) good six inches above her head.
Suddenly, the banners were silenced as T’Uriamne about faced and stood gazing up at T’Pau. T’Pau uttered one crackling syllable and T’Uriamne quick-marched straight toward the center white chair, up and over the low dais as if it weren’t there, and up the five steps T’Pau descended.
T’Uriamne seated herself as T’Pau re-entered the litter and was borne out of the hall. Then she nodded to the banner bearers who’d waited beside the pit and they split into two groups of three, formed two triangles, and marched out the doors.
Presently, they returned leading two lines of men, dressed in white tunic and sandals, but cloaked in blue-green . . . the exact hue of the chairs of the idic. They formed a large circle around the firepit, outside the chairs. The banner bearers resumed their position in front of the pit.
Sarek switched to an overhead view of the pit with its single taper burning. Then, one of the men detached himself from the circle, slow-marched to the rim of the pit, chose a taper, lit it and placed it upright. Then he faced T’Uriamne who issued a command. He took a position before one of the chairs of the idic, but remained standing.
Slowly, this was repeated and apparently would continue until each had taken a post. Sarek turned to Kirk and McCoy. "We use fire as a multivalued symbol. Here, fire gives of itself without being diminished, as one mind may give ideas without diminishing its own knowledge. These men are pledged Guardians of the Philosophy of Nome."
Amanda said, still watching the screen, "Sarek, I think she’s lost weight."
He shifted his gaze to his wife. "T’Pau __is__ nearing the end of her life."
"Not T’Pau, T’Uriamne."
"I hadn’t noticed."
"Well, you should. She __is__ your daughter."
"That, my wife, is debatable."
Thelu had been the first casualty of this schism. Looking at the screen, Amanda could only hope she would also be the last.
She made sure Beck’t herself was all right before checking her other calls. The older woman was stunned, and still unbelieving, but in full control of her faculties, more concerned about Thelu’s family than herself. Amanda found this was a common reaction. Very few of the Humans on Vulcan seemed to have grasped yet what had happened. She put out her weekly newsletter, __The__ __Scandal__-__Sheet__, with a complete summary of the Stovam Report and what it might mean, and left them to make what they would of it.
What was she to do? Where would she go; forced to leave Vulcan, how would she live? The work she had done on Vulcan as a teacher, a diplomat, an ambassador was now abruptly ended. Oh, she was not helpless, she would find something. If only she could think what she should do . . . . But she didn’t want to think.
The Chu sisters called her a few days later. They were two Humans who had visited Vulcan for a two-week tour four years ago--and stayed. They were remarkable for the great similarity of their features and the equally marked disparity of their dispositions.
"Amanda, I’ve got a great idea!" Dias burst out.
". . . crazy. Craaazyyy . . . ." Mel interjected deflatingly.
"I mean, it’s just so humiliating--she says go and we go. We just have to get together--leave before she can kick us out."
"Obviously, hurt pride __is__ the most important consideration here . . . ."
"And I got this terrific idea. If we could leave together we could stay together. Why don’t we form a colony?"
"Why don’t we put on a show?!" Mel murmured, sotto-voce. "We can use my uncle’s barn . . . raise money to send junior to the hospital for his brain transplant . . . ."
"You know all about colonizing, don’t you, Lady Amanda?" Dias appealed, ignoring her sister with the facility born of long practice. "It’s in your biography that you and--um--your husband--?
"Well, I’m sorry--that you helped colonize Mandala III, and that’s still going fine."
"It was also more or less an accident, child, and many years ago." Amanda spoke for the first time. "Do you know what you’re proposing? What it would mean in terms of money, work--the way you would spend the rest of your life?"
"No, not really," Dias said frankly. "But it’s better than just tamely walking off. It’s a way to hit back, to show them we can take everything they hand out and come back better than ever. Oh--talk to Mel. I get too excited." Her half of the screen blinked off.
They regarded each other. "Well?" Amanda asked.
"Those are stupid reasons," Mel said. "I know it. You know it. Dias is the only one that doesn’t know it, which is typical, the . . . . But what __are__ we going to do? There are people, Humans, who’ve been living on Vulcan so long their ears are getting pointy. Honest to God, some of them have even forgotten their own languages, they only speak Vulcanir. Humans do that; they get carried away. If they get thrown out on their own, they __will__ be carried away, on stretchers to the nearest rehab center. And what are the hybrids gonna do? All the kids, too young to decide, what alternatives do they have?"
"So you start a colony?"
"Yeah. I know. Craaazyyy . . . . I don’t know. We can divide and be conquered. We can stay in a group, move to a settled planet, and either be engulfed or engulf them--just what the Vulcans are talking about! Or--we can colonize. Which is really a stupid idea . . . ."
"I’ve heard better."
"Recently?" Mel asked hopefully. A depressed silence ensued. "Look, don’t just listen to us--I mean, Dias. Talk to some people, see what they think . . . ." Her sister popped in to fill half the screen.
"I wanted to call around but you wouldn’t let me--!"
"Listen, lunkhead, we agreed to keep this quiet. I don’t want to be laughed out of hearth and home, even if you--."
"Yes, it might be best to say nothing for the time being," Amanda agreed absently. "I’ll get back to you." She clicked off, reached for her pocket computer, data file, note pad. Ready for action.
What they were talking about was obviously impossible. They had no idea of what was involved. She had, at least a partial notion. The incident Dias referred to, Mandala III, had occurred thirty-six years ago when the transport they were riding was ship-wrecked in a then-unexplored system. They had managed to survive until they were rescued; some of them had even elected to stay. And Mandala, as Dias said, was now in it’s third generation and thriving. But they’d been fearfully lucky, those first three years, and colonists just couldn’t afford to depend on luck.
But she couldn’t just tell them to run away and play. They’d gone too far--hoped too much. So--prove it impossible, with the facts and figures no one could argue with. And, incidentally, give her mind something constructive to chew on, instead of scrabbling at the bars of her cage like a rat in a hole . . . .
Four things are needed for a colony. A planet. A way to get there. Some manner of living once you got there. A way to get off if you can’t. Well, five things actually--the people are a somewhat irksome necessity. But concentrate on the hardware first.
The first requirement was easy enough. Habitable and uninhabited planets abounded within Federation territory. And as a young civilization with an outward-focused economy, the Federation actively encouraged colonization--with one condition. The colony-to-be was asked to post a bond against the chance of failure. A bet, in a way. If the colony failed, the bond was lost and Starfleet would pick up the survivors, establish them in new homes. If it succeeded, the new planet could cash it in and use the capital to gear up for technology of its own. Either way, the Federation won. At 10,000 credits per person, that would be--oh, five million to start off with.
Then there was the ship. Commercial transport could rarely be inveigled to leave known traffic lanes and easy-to-reach repair depots. They were a prospective colony’s last resort. Renting was one possibility, buying outright another. Either way, she’d budget another five million for it at least.
And there was the small problem of actually living on this mythical planet, whether by mining, fishing, or rutabaga farming. The wherewithal of survival. There were companies who contracted to supply everything necessary, from parkas to earthworms. Amanda didn’t know current figures. She took some care in choosing a small Vulcan-based, Human-staffed firm, The Aquarius Corporation, and spent five minutes asking some pertinent questions. She closed contact with a
soundless whistle of amazement. Somehow, one never expected prices to go down.
All right. An entire colony could be set up for somewhere under twenty million credits.
Next, the assets. Then Amanda faltered, took a minute to shake herself back into a steely consideration of the facts. The alimony. Oh, not all the Humans on Vulcan were married to Vulcans, most were not. But it was the first word that came to mind.
She asked the computer for the cumulative credit ratings of two hundred adult Humans and hybrids on Vulcan, picked at random. There was no need for bank balances and financial assets to be confidential information on Vulcan, where money did not measure status and citizens were not taxed to pay for their government. Vulcan was the only major Federation planet whose government supported itself by the equivalent of bake sales.
She looked at the total, gasped. Some of it was unrealizable, she knew, tied up in property or bonds that could not be converted to ready capital. But--
"Damn it," she said, "they might just make it."
Of course, the most important part of any venture was the people involved, and so far she had no assurance that anyone but Chu Dias would actually be willing to go.
She started calling people. Over the next three days, she managed to talk to slightly over six hundred of the seven hundred fifty-six adult Humans and hybrids listed in the census rolls as semi-permanent residents. She was discreet, no mention of colonization was made or hinted at. But she managed to pick up a good idea of how opinions were running.
The fourth day, she got together with the Chu sisters for a long, long talk.
Sarek had been looking drawn and shadow-eyed for the past week. Amanda surmised--knew, if she cared to think about it--that he had been skimping meals and eliminating sleep altogether, working nonstop to try and find a loophole in Stovam’s propositions. They were talking again, of course. Childishness was not one of her sins. But their conversations tended to be curt and to the point, and Amanda was still sleeping in Spock’s room.
"Have you found anything?" Amanda asked one day, politely. She knew he hadn’t.
"Nothing decisive," Sarek said wearily. "Spock may be able to pinpoint weaknesses where I cannot, however. His position is unique."
"And if he can find a flaw? What then?"
"He must demonstrate it, to the Guardian Council and the electorate."
"How, exactly?" Amanda asked matter-of-factly.
"Well." She could fairly see his tired brain moving on to grapple this new consideration. "If it could be seen in an acasomy model, half a dozen people would have had it by now. Tokiel would be the only medium capable of conveying the requisite subtleties efficiently."
"Spock is not proficient in tokiel," Amanda pointed out. "I doubt if he knows more than the basic exercises." Tokiel was a variety of dance which used the parameters of color, sound and movement to convey meaning--a "glorified lecture".
"T’Aniyeh qualified in tokiel." Sarek massaged temples, adding almost inaudibly, "I think."
"Could T’Aniyeh stand up under the strain?" Amanda wondered, doubtfully. "Her foster father thought her too unstable even for bonding. Having the responsibility of a planet full of Humans on her shoulders won’t be easy, and we’ll need the best spokesperson we can get. They’ll come down on her hard . . . ."
"Has it come to ‘us’ and ‘them’?" Sarek flared at her suddenly.
Amanda met his eyes steadily, and he was the first to look away. "Not by my choice," she told him. "But it’s come."
The colony was go, provisional to enough people wanting to join to make the idea possible. The Chu sisters had, unanimous for once in their lives, appointed Amanda as co-ordinator of the effort. "We don’t really know anything about what to do so we--" Dias started.
"--decided to pass the buck to you." Mel finished.
Amanda agreed. In fact, she started her job right then and there, proceeding to inform the sisters a little more exactly what they could expect. When she was through, Dias signed off looking considerably sobered. Mel, on the other hand, seemed more cheerful than at the beginning.
"She’ll go," Mel predicted confidently. "She’s been playing colony since she was six. Doing it for real’ll be the making of the kid."
"And you?" Amanda queried.
"Oh, I’m coming. I don’t have much of Vulcan in me--but what there is, I want to keep.
Besides, I have to look after Dias, don’t I?"
"Scuttlebut (sic RBW "Scuttlebutt) says it’s the other way around," Amanda suggested mildly.
"Just shows what scuttlebutt knows," Mel said firmly, the tips of her ears turning a bright pink.
Amanda was still smiling as she reached for the census list, started going through names. Pauline Aal and Sular--an older couple without children. They had been quick enough to dissolve their bond. Pauline was already off-world. Good riddance . . .
Besides sifting through names and warning off tourists and temporary residents, she dared not delay in finding transport. The Humans would need to have a ship waiting and ready to pick them up the instant Vulcan decided against them. Morale was not just a word; it could make or break expeditions of this kind. It had done both, many times before. The Humans had to leave voluntarily, all at once, not be forced to wait and be kicked out one by one. Dias was right there. So she had somewhat less than three months to find a vessel--to take an unknown number of people an undetermined distance in an undecided direction--probably.
And the faster the better.
The peak of colonization, the outward explosion that formed the Federation, had largely passed more than fifty years ago. Most of the large, sturdy ‘cattle-ship’ transports dated from that period--and most, by now, had been sold, traded or foreclosed into government hands. Amanda called the Navy Surplus Supply, in Duluth, to see what they had in stock.
The manager, a relative on his mother’s side to Harry Mudd and his father’s to Cyrano Jones--both of whose encounters with the __Enterprise__ Amanda had heard in colorful if expurgated detail from Spock--peered at her hopefully. "Lady," he said, "I’ve got just the thing for you. A sweet little one-man hopper, last owned by a hot-side Mercurian who only drove it during snow-storms . . . ."
Amanda quickly disabused him of the curious notion that she was a greenhorn at this, and they settled down to the serious business of dickering.
In an hour she was down to three ships, none of which were really satisfactory--either too small, too old or too expensive. But she didn’t have the time to search through the want ads or the garage sales of half the Federation for a used Starship. If she could get the price on the Aleph low enough--.
"I’m afraid you can’t help us," Amanda said truthfully enough. "A pity you haven’t got any Memory ships. But as it is . . . ."
"Funny you should say that. We’re supposed to be getting one in a couple of months. If you’re really interested . . . ."
"I’m listening," Amanda said, leaning back.
Memory ships were composed of a metal-like crystal, found on certain eccentric-orbit asteroids, which at the proper stimuli could snap from one pre-molded form to another. A space-faring vessel, to pick the most relevant example, could be easily transformed into a small township of the immediately useful buildings once on the planet’s surface. They could be invaluable colonizing aids. So Amanda leaned back, to conceal the gleam in her eyes, and said, "Go on."
Another hour later, punctuated by screams of anguish, sobs of despair, and pleas for mercy from the trader, and three threats to call the bunco squad from Amanda, both principals were tolerably well satisfied. The deal would be closed as soon as the two million credit deposit changed hands.
"You’ve ruined me," the dealer said hoarsely. "I’ll never be able to hold up my head in this town again. Never."
Amanda smiled serenely and closed contact, to reach for the financial summary. The problem was, the prospective colonists didn’t have two million credits available in liquid assets yet. They wouldn’t for quite a while. Amanda had advised those who intended to leave to convert property and investments into cash and the short-term fund which would become their supplies as gradually as they could. It was not likely that this withdrawal of capital from the Vulcan economy would go completely unnoticed, but Amanda would prefer no special fuss made about it. She would like her activities to remain unnoticed by T’Uriamne as long as possible. But they needed the money now--.
Her mental argument was interrupted by a call from Beck’t, to ask how the recruiting was coming along.
"Fairly well," Amanda responded. "There are eighty-one definite, about a hundred twenty possibles, and a few hundred ‘I’ll think about it’."
"You can make that eighty-two definite, then," Beck’t said gruffly. "How much will it cost?"
"Everything you have, Beck’t. Are you sure--?"
"Yes." In an obvious attempt to break up the solemnity, she added, "That explains
Religico Leslie’s last sermon."
"The text was, ‘Ye who would obtain salvation, Put down all your worldly goods and Follow me’."
"Ah, yes--Dominic gave his pastors a bad time for a while, but he was finally allowed to come along."
"If there’s any way I can help--"
"Not unless you have an extra two million credits," Amanda said, smiling a little ruefully. She explained her current problem, concluding, "But doubtless something can be contrived."
"Amanda," Beck’t said, "We’ll manage."
For a moment she merely smiled; it wavered and faded as she focused on the older woman with a suddenly intent gaze. "Yes," she agreed slowly. "I’m beginning to think we will."
Pronouns again . . . As she signed off, she wondered abstractly just when ‘they’ had become ‘we.’ It had not been in her mind at the beginning, she knew herself too well for that. When, why--
She pulled herself back from such self-engrossed maunderings. It had happened; she could analyze her reasons later. Now, there was work to be done. Neatly, she added her own name underneath that of Beck’t Kinlee, made the tally an even eighty-three, and went on to try and find that crucial two million. Several times she interrupted herself automatically to reach for the switchboard, but each time the incoming calls were coded for Sarek.
It was a shock to some sensitive moiety of her self, when Sarek himself walked in. To block off the rush of memory, feeling and response that the sight of him brought clinging to her mind; to force, by an action of her own will, forty-two years into dry dust and worthlessness--She stilled herself, and waited for what he might choose to do.
Deliberately, he picked up the roster of colonists and scanned it, as though to so delay an unpleasant task. His eyes stopped momentarily at the bottom of the list before he set it down again.
"You are going with the colonists, then," he observed.
"Yes," Amanda assented, barely.
"Beck’t called me." A faint shade of puzzlement might have crossed her face, but that was all. He plunged on. "Here is the two million credits." He laid the slip gently down on her desk.
Amanda looked at the slip, nonplussed. Sarek didn’t __have__ two million credits. Oh, his financial rating topped some astronomical sum, but most of it was entailed, tied up in Family property or otherwise unrealizable. Sarek didn’t even own D’R’hiset. All he had in his own name was his teaching salary from the Academy, an honorarium from his work as Vulcan’s Ambassador, a few Patents in computer design and Daleyn’a, the house in the capital city--
Daleyn’a. That beautiful piece of architecture Sarek had designed by himself, furnished by himself, half built for himself. His first independent home. The home he had brought Amanda to, watched their son grow up in. The partially-created, partially-grown and growing mirror of his soul . . . .
"You sold Daleyn’a." Amanda echoed her thoughts, a yet unrecognized weight in her voice. "Stellin?" A __nouveau__ __riche__ kevas trader who had long coveted Daleyn’a. Sarek hated him sincerely.
"It is unlikely I will have further need of it," Sarek said remotely, turning away. But he couldn’t quite manage to leave, stopping before the threshold. And Amanda knew the sadness naked in his eyes, naked in hers. She went to him, rested cheek against his arm for a feather-light instant. "Oh, Sarek," she said soberly. "Let’s go home."
She sent in the deposit the next morning. It was a relief to have it done, but the real pinch had been in time, not money. With Sarek working beside her, the pace slowed down to merely frantic.
The repercussions of the Stovam Report had finally begun to lap throughout the planet, washing up some of the stranger flotsam.
Luis Feuillard was the first, that morning. He was the only person Amanda knew who could make simply appearing on a view-screen a furtive affair. "Uh, Amanda?" he offered.
"Yes, Luis?" Amanda asked patiently.
"Uh--" he asked hesitantly, "Is--is the colony going to have an extradition treaty with the Federation?"
(RBW Note. Picture of an Andorian female on a view screen talking to Amanda.)
Amanda stared at him--what on earth--before abruptly realizing what he meant and breaking into an involuntary grin.
"Of course not, Luis!" she assured him. "We’re not going to throw you to the wolves!"
"I don’t know what you’re talking about," Luis said, with dignity. "I have some of your information about the colony here; I’ll study it later and tell you my decision when I make it. Is that satisfactory?"
"Of course, Luis," she said, still smiling.
Her next call had a somewhat different character. She cued in the screen to see Surin, a distinguished scholar and one of the highest ranking advisors of T’Uriamne’s staff. The back of her neck tingled; she prepared for anything.
"Yes?" she said calmly.
"I have a daughter, Teng, nine years old. She is half-Human. I would like her to be raised where she may avail herself of the full range of both cultures which are her heritage. Is there room for her in your colony?"
Amanda’s mind was racing. Surin hadn’t had a wife when he returned to Vulcan from Breiras eight years ago, and she’d never heard of a daughter. But the hybrids often looked very Vulcan, and there was no real reason she should have heard. Never mind that now, answer the question!
Her pause was barely noticeable. "She would be--unaccompanied?"
He inclined his head.
A nine year old alone--Problems. She foresaw them, mentally sighed. Teng would probably not be the last.
"There is room." She would have gone on, but he forestalled her, speaking as one wishing as little direct contact with her as possible.
"Send me the necessary data concerning cost, required supplies, and preparations as soon as convenient. All will be done."
"Surin," she said steadily. "It isn’t any easier for us to take her from you than it is for you to give her up."
He looked back at her bleakly. By Vulcan rules of conduct, there was nothing he could say in response, no way to counter or blunt it. Silently, he closed contact.
Five minutes later, Amanda responded to the chime to see an Andorian woman, blue-skinned face bent downward, antennae pointing towards the viewer.
"Machena," she identified herself, in the soft, sibilant speech of her race.
"Amanda, I, to you, directed have been. The Matter--" as she struggled with her fractured English, Amanda interrupted gently.
"__The__ __true__ __tongue__ __is__ __spoken__ __here__."
Machena dropped thankfully into Andorian. After a polite exchange of compliments, disclaimers, and ritual courtesies, she came easily to the point of her call. "__It__ __is__ __being__ __whispered__ __in__ __the__ __corridors__ __of__ __ghosts__ __that__ __a__ __journey__ __is__ __planned__ __under__ __your__ __auspices__ __and__ __that__ __of__ __the__ __mourning__ __star__."
"__Such__ __may__ __or__ __may__ __not__ __be__ __true__," Amanda allowed.
"__If__ __so__, __this__ __one__ __has__ __a__ __question__--__would__ __the__ __venture__ __be__ __conducted__ __only__ __under__ __the__ __sign__ __of__ __the__ __monkee__?" Restricted to Humans, Amanda automatically translated.
"__It__ __could__ __more__ __truly__ __be__ __said__ __that__ __that__ __which__ __rules__ __our__ __desires__ __would__ __be__--" what was the one for Vulcan-hybrids? "--__the__ __cusp__ __of__ __the__ __cat__."
"__Ah__. __My__ __son__, __Phernic__, __is__ __so__ __governed__."
Amanda looked at her, slowly veiled her eyes in the Andorian equivalent of a smile. "That being so, the monkee __could__ __not__ __bear__ __a__ __jealous__ __aspect__." And, after details had been arranged, two more names were added to the roster.
So it went, day after day, Amanda had turned over the actual selection of a planet to Sarek. He had been closeted for days with astrogation charts, surveying reports and biosystems analyses. With only seven weeks to go, and their supplier begging for a decision, Sarek had narrowed it down to four choices. He handed his file of data and notes over to Amanda for a final selection. "I have marked one as particularly suitable," he remarked, leaving. "You will see why."
Amanda went through the tapes carefully, saving the one Sarek had favored for last. All were well within the range of Human-Vulcan habitability in temperature, pressure, atmosphere; all capable of supporting essential foodstuffs and livestock, none either too close to the settled, technological worlds (read ‘greedy’) or too far away from the settled, technological worlds (read ‘helpful’). All, of course, were as far away from the Klingon and Romulan borders as they could be without actually disappearing into unexplored space. None of them had large carnivores, dangerous diseases or native intelligences of any kind higher than a dog’s. The last one seemed in no way exceptional. It was a rather young planet, geologically speaking; third from the sun, code-name TN247, with two small moons. The planet’s gravity and oxygen pressure evenly split the difference between Earth’s and Vulcan’s--nice, but by no means essential. It had apparently received a hefty burst of radiation early in its history from a near-by nova; plant life was well developed but animal evolution, comparatively unprotected, had barely reached the insect stage again. Fine, but there seemed nothing--
Then she saw it. A brief notation in the surveyor’s report, under the heading ‘color of sky: variable, cf. red, blue, purple. See geology.’ Rechecking the geology section, Amanda saw that the soft red rock-dust which dyed Vulcan’s sky existed in a more limited quantity on this younger planet, staining the horizons forge-red, while overhead stretched Earth’s brilliant blue--
There were no practical considerations separating the four worlds that lay in a neat little pile on her desk. One might as well roll a die--or depend on the color of a sky? Amanda’s lips stretched in a humorless smile as she activated the viscom and gave the suppliers her choice, the name and all data concerning one planet TN247III.
The weeks passed, too slowly to grasp and too quickly to bear. The days were full of long conferences and endless busy-work, the nights of frantic loving and all too brief escapes into sleep. She was talking to Beck’t one day and happened to mention that even the most fervent colonists seemed unable to give a coherent reason in words for exactly why they were going.
"Well, I know," Beck’t said immediately. "It’s for us, it’s for the children and it’s for the Federation. You know--you were there first, Amanda. You and Spock. It was already too late for me, then. But all of it, all our lives, are going to be wasted unless we can hand on what Vulcan has given us. I’m an archeologist. I’ve seen how fast cultures disappear, and the void can never be filled."
Amanda nodded slowly, needing time to think about the concept. She passed on to the next object of her call.
"Beck’t, have you seen or heard anything about Saluraz recently?"
"No. Did you talk to him about the boy?"
"He refuses to admit that the entire debate concerns him at all--and the boy is in pitiful shape. Beck’t--we’re not leaving Ian with him."
Beck’t smiled, slowly, not nicely. "Now, how shall we manage this?"
Eventually, inevitably, the Question was only two weeks away and Sarek was telling Amanda that the M-ship had arrived and was in orbit. He turned to go, but Amanda stopped him. There was something that needed to be said.
"Sarek," she said carefully, "do you remember Polaris, when the rebels captured you and Spock and demanded that you reveal the treaty plans or they’d kill Spock? I got you out of that one. I broke oath, sold loyalty, killed, to rescue Spock unharmed and your principles whole." She paused to gauge reaction. There was none. She continued even more quietly.
"Sarek, I’m not going to get you out this time. This one, you’ll have to do for yourself."
She had the ship on a two-week lease with an option to buy. She beamed up later that day to inspect it personally, pacing the empty corridors, getting a mental set of the interior, putting the computers through a brief workout. They were shaky; she only hoped they’d last the trip. Perhaps Spock could work on them during the journey. The new name had already been painted in. As her final task before beaming down again, she took out a tiny bottle of champagne and tapped it against the bridge console. The viewscreen showed Vulcan, rotating endlessly beneath her, just out of reach. "I christen thee," she said steadily, "the __Ellis__ __Island__."
She knew not everyone had accepted the situation, even now. She received a call that evening from a young hybrid who was still incredulous.
"Look, Lady Amanda," he said, "I’m studying microbiology at the Academy of Science. In another two years I would have been handling original research. But with all ties cut between Vulcan and the Federation, the Academy won’t have the funds for any research programs at all. So I can stay on Vulcan, as a Vulcan, but lose my career. Or I can leave for the Federation, remain a microbiologist and lose Vulcan forever. Or I can go to your colony--"
He ignored her, "--and keep my heritage, both sides, but never have even a chance at science again. __Those__ are the choices open to me?"
"Yes. Those are the choices you have."
"You almost have it finished now, T’Aniyeh," Spock commented. "Just the last phrase, and then working through the entire Motek. Your imitation of T’Rruel’s style is flawless. The Guardian Council cannot fail to be impressed."
"If the Credentials Committee will accept a Human on the floor at all," she retorted lifelessly. "What are our chances now, Spock?" She always had to know, as soon as new data arrived from Vulcan, like a man peeking at a mangled limb, helplessly compelled to watch the slow spread of the gangrene that was killing him.
"Thirty six point eight percent" he answered slowly, "Have, have you decided yet?"
Her heavy eyes lifted, to stare dumbly at Spock for an unnerving instant. "I have no choice. I am Human," she said, patiently, as if instructing a child. "You?"
"I have no choice either," he thought instantly. With T’Aniyeh, his bond-mate, on one side, and Starfleet--Kirk--on the other, he was, well, forced to stay in Starfleet. There was no need to compare, examine deeply his own needs and desires, make a rational value-judgment between two Philosophies. He--had no choice.
A portion of his mind wondered analytically why he felt so relieved.
"Oh, why don’t you do something!" Elaine raged. She had passed the point of allowing logic to sway her deductive reasoning powers. If asked at a later and cooler moment, she would have agreed quite freely that her husband, Sebec, was not responsible for the Stovam Report and its consequences. If pressed, she might even have admitted that he perhaps did not even agree with it. But that subsequent, saner moment was yet to come.
"Don’t you understand? Can’t you at least get angry?" Elaine demanded, her voice raising to a hysterical pitch. "Yell! Be mad! Do __something__!"
"I fail to see what that will accomplish," Sebec said with a grim reasonableness. "You will survive, alone. You’ll have to."
"I can’t! I can’t! You don’t know anything! I can’t--live--alone!"
"Elaine . . . ."
"Cooped up on that little ship, with all those women. You think I can stand that? You don’t know anything about me!"
"Elaine . . . ."
"I’ve had fourteen lovers in the last three years. Everything from month-long affairs to one-night stands. Did you know that?"
She gasped. Sebec went on mildly, "I’ve always known. It didn’t trouble me. You are discreet; there has been no talk. The one time there might have been trouble . . ."
"Alltree," Elaine contributed dazedly.
". . . you got rid of the man, quietly and with dispatch. I quite enjoyed watching that one."
"When I need you," Sebec stated, with the arrogance of total certitude, "You will be there."
"I would have. I don’t know how you can be so sure . . . but now, I’ll never have the chance to prove it, will I?"
"You’ve decided, then."
Luis nodded, not looking at her. "It’s the only chance I’ve got, T’Rihc. It’ll have to be the colony."
"There are the children . . . ."
"I’ll take Tabby with me," he said quickly, almost fearfully. She nodded, accepting this.
"S’Tahrn is old enough to make his own choice. But I have little doubt he will stay."
"But--oh, God, what are we going to do about the twins?"
A child sat on the doorstep, arms clasping knees, whispering to itself.
"If I go with Mother I can choose whether to be Vulcan or Human, and there’ll be a whole new world to explore. But it’ll be hard work, and we might fail.
"If I stay with Father there’ll be good schools, and I won’t have to leave all my friends, and I can be a doctor when I grow up. But I’ll probably never be able to go into space or leave Vulcan again.
"Father says, if I’m a Vulcan I’ll choose rightly. But I must be Human, because I __hate__ having to choose."
"Dahrling . . ." Alys drawled. "There’s no need to upset yourself now, is there, Scottie?"
"I am not upset! I am a Vulcan, and my name is Skrelk!" he yelled at her, tense, eyes glittering, as caught in the trap of himself as only a seventeen year old can be.
"You’re not, you know. When you were born you were half mine. Now--you’re all--mine." That seductive, velvet voice, dripping with the distilled acid of year after hateful year. She smiled, that slow, terrifying smile that had pinioned him, helpless and shuddering, before her. Never again. Never.
"I am a Vulcan. There is nothing of you in me. Nothing!" he hissed, hating her, hating her. "In a month it will be done. You’ll be gone forever, and I’ll be free. Free!"
She looked at him, half-crouched, hands clenched whitely to prevent them from gesturing wildly, eyes glittering with hate. And she threw back her head, and she laughed.
I left the house that day, clouds scudding over a pearl-clear sky, determined to walk among the hills and come to my decision. My mother had been more than patient. I should know by now. I should . . . But somehow I could not bring myself to say the necessary words.
It was so beautiful. I knelt to cup a spray of wild-flower, the blossoms turning my pink palms to gold. My half-Human ancestry showed clearly, in light brown skin and hair that curled softly, with dusky shadows instead of a true black glint. I knew I should go with the colonists. They were my own kind. Go with them, to wander, homeless . . .
I stood up, spread my arms to feel the wind feather among my fingers. "How can I leave my home?" I cried. "How can I leave these hills, this earth, how can I put this sky behind me?"
And, gradually, I began to see.
I, Theresa Gallegos, am Vulcan. The sky forms my dreams, the wind my blood, the mountains my bones. What more could it mean to be a Vulcan? This was my birthright. This is my home. It will be hard, hard to watch my mother go, leaving me alone. But this is my home, and my people. Here I will stay.
The banner bearers came together in two lines and when they parted, three of them held two banners and three held nothing. Two of the bannerless escort busied themselves at a panel on the wall while the third retired to the right hand door. The three other bellbanner bearers retired to the left hand door and took up positions there.
As the lights faded, the bannerless escort returned with T’Aniyeh. He led her to the platform and then went to join the other two at a console that had mysteriously sprung out of the floor beside the platform. The lights went out.
Then the tokiel platform lit up from its own field, a kind of glow that pervaded the whole stage area but didn’t illuminate the rest of the room. T’Aniyeh, her skin-tight coverall a golden shimmer in the dimness, mounted into the tokiel field accompanied by a rippling sound and an explosion of rainbow colors, sharp, clear, vibrant colors, almost too bright to look at.
The colored streamers died around her, leaving her enrapt in a golden flame that shaded slowly to purple and went black. Kirk noticed immediately the differences between this stage’s effect and those he’d seen on the small, portable tokiel platform T’Rruel had used aboard ship and the outdoor installation he’d visited with Amanda. Evidently, this platform was geared to the ultimate in precision. There was another difference. Where T’Rruel had been invisible most of the time? T’Aniyeh was always visible. And T’Aniyeh would dance solo as this was a complete composition and no question remained unanswered.
The rhythmic tolling of a large bell announced the start of the pyrotechnic display of rhythm, form and sound that was becoming familiar to Kirk. But here the effect was different. T’Aniyeh, always visible within the structure of colored shapes she built, seemed always to be a split second ahead of the music her movements created. Some of the figures of living light were strange to Kirk and he was certain he’d never seen them before. He’d surely have remembered that purple spiral wrapped in pink smoke.
But still, something in the forms reminded him ever more strongly of T’Rruel and by the
(RBW Note. Vulcan male standing in the door way, the female facing him has the right hand in an "off" Vulcan salute (little finger spread instead of two middle fingers) and other hand behind her back with fingers crossed.)
end, he’d almost forgotten the dancer was Tanya Minos. When she made the long gossamer streamers dance and swoop like mating eel-birds and then spun around reaching high to end in the forward lunge of T’Rruel’s signature, he knew he was watching a brilliant imitation of T’Rruel’s style. Then, she stood back, poised in the center of the stage until the music had died. She raised her hands over her head, trailing rainbows, then dropped to one knee, sweeping her arms around and back in wings of glowing fire to the echoing sound of plucked strings . . . her own signature.
The fire died to black and she was invisible. The hall’s lights had come on before Kirk realized she must have gotten through the whole performance perfectly. He was seized with an impulse to applaud and whistle and jump up and down. But he held still as she was escorted silently from the room and the bellbanner bearers resumed their positions.
Sarek was changing the viewpoint constantly, examining the reactions of the council members. It took a Vulcan to read a Vulcan so Kirk turned his attention to Amanda. Perhaps she could tell what effect Spock’s ideas had had on the council.
But she was watching Sarek. Soon Sarek sat back and glanced briefly at Amanda with slightest shake of his head. She rose, turned to the two officers. "Gentlemen . . ." she said calmly. "I’m afraid you will have to beam back to your ship now."
"Yes," Kirk said simply. He held Amanda’s eyes for a second, looked away. With a brief shuffle of voices and lights, they were gone.
It was hard to focus. Amanda stood quite still until she could see clearly again. "Sarek . . . ."
They kissed frantically, desperately, clinging to each other as though they never would be parted, never . . . Then Amanda tore herself away, pressed a com button, pushed a lever. And she was gone.
Bewildered, exhausted with arguing, he stood with T’Ariel on the platform. Tavaneth dared not weaken. She told T’Ariel, "Take care of him," and saw the child nod, before she activated the transporter beam. Michail was still caught in the unbelief that she would actually send him away. Then he was glimmering sparks, and gone.
Mel hastily searched through the apartment, looking for Ian. She could hear Dias’ empty-headed babble at the door, hopefully keeping Saluraz occupied for just a few minutes more. Almost ready to give up from sheer funk, she finally spotted the boy, lying curled in the darkness under a table, apparently asleep. She muttered, "And they wonder why it’s called kidnapping," and swooped. Ian’s eyes opened wide when she grabbed him, but he seemed too startled to react. She hit the communicator button at her wrist and disappeared.
At the door Dias, seeing the brief sparkle, said airily, "Well, I gotta go now," and faded into a transporter beam glitter in front of Saluraz’s astonished eyes.
Linnet, white and drained, was lying on the hospital bed. Selver sat beside her, their heads together, hands tightly intertwined. Neither was watching the silenced viewscreen where T’Aniyeh danced her Motek. Linnet had lost the baby.
"I know--I knew that every day I had with you could be the last," she whispered. "Why does it hurt so much now to know the exact time you’ll be gone?"
"Sh. Don’t talk."
Their talk had been inconsequential and soon stilled, their quiet full of meaning. The nurse gliding in on a wave of impersonal kindness, found them there, quite still. She said gently, "It is decided . . . I will take Linnet to the beam-up point. You must go back to bed, now, Selver."
He made as though to stand up, obediently, but his hand would not let go of Linnet’s. He looked at that living link and his head started to shake, slowly, as if shaking off something he had not yet consciously realized. Gradually, joyously, realization dawned.
"Like hell I will!"
He bent to pick Linnet up in his arms, so light, no burden; hit the intercom button with his elbow. "__Ellis__ __Island__, two to beam up!"
At the last moment, she tried one final time. "I will not go. I want to stay here. I will not go!"
"You will go, Teng," her father said implacably. "You are half-Human."
"I don’t care. Just because my Mother was--"
"You will not speak of your Mother in that manner." His voice froze. Almost, her face crumpled.
Surin went to adjust the transporter controls. But before activating them, he for the first time gave her the farewell salute of one adult to another. "Peace and Long Life, Teng."
"Live Long and Prosper, Father," her lips said. Her mind, somewhere over and beyond a raging grief, heard a different declaration: "I will always be a Vulcan!"
Sihew walked slowly back into the foyer of his silent, echoing, blessedly __empty__ mansion. Kristiana had left. Eighteen months of acute misery were finally over.
His own bond-mate had contracted a virus infection and succumbed at a most inconvenient time a year and a half ago. They had been on New Haarlem for an art auction at the time, a planet encumbered by, one must feel, more than its fair share of slums. Obliged by rather--uh, urgent necessity, he had found Kristiana Dulas in one of them. True, he hadn’t known anything about the girl, but she was reasonably clean and female; what else mattered?
He’d learned more about her, soon enough. She was not overburdened with intelligence, education or ethics. The one attribute she did posses was appreciation. She’d landed in a pot of cream, and she wasn’t moving.
Few sensible bondmates these days lived in the same vicinity; it simply wasn’t done. Surely seeing each other once every seven years was enough for two people who really had nothing in common anyway. But here Kristiana was--in __his__ house, looking at __his__ paintings, fingering __his__ precious and beautiful artifacts. Sihew had not lived with another person since his childhood, many decades ago. He discovered he did not like it--at all.
He offered her an allowance which was generous enough--compared to what she’d known before their bonding, at any rate. She wouldn’t budge. But now she was gone, leaving him alone once more in his own house, his--his own hall a little too empty? Puzzled, he glanced at walls that only yesterday had held a 50,000 credit Vaem, Drussel, Landowitz, Ah’Ky, and now stood strangely blank. A hideous certainty creeping into his veins, he made a lightning inventory. Gone were over half a million credits worth of jewelry, sculpture, and rare art. And the baby.
The baby was dropped off at the __Ellis__ __Island__. The art work wasn’t.
Sarek stood in the empty room, one hand gripping the back of a chair, and watched the Council meeting wind to its inevitable and predetermined end. He saw Spock and Tanya talk to each other quietly at the side of the hall and go from the Council floor. He waited through the casting of the vote, whose tally was already known, through the speeches, the ceremonies, T’Uriamne’s announcement of her plans for Vulcan, until the pre-arranged moment when the Humans were to have been allowed a statement. Instead, Sarek’s voice filled the Council hall, with one short sentence.
"They are gone."
Amanda marked the last twenty aboard with a sigh. Counting the teenager with the birthday today, that made two hundred nineteen adults and three hundred forty-six children of various ages. They would also be picking up at least fourteen more colonists from various way-stations. The __Ellis__ had plenty of room, with five hundred cabins of thirty-six cubic meters each she’d been able to give the larger families two or three adjoining cabins to open into one. No one had argued or even questioned her ‘voice of authority’; there had been no problems over personal belongings, very few with logistics. The disembarkation was going smoothly, if soberly.
Amanda handed Yelina Gagain the number of her room and storage area. The woman was wiping tears away surreptitiously with work-worn hands as she led her little boy toward the servo-elevators.
Everyone was just a little too quiet and considerate; in fact, a little too ready to surrender responsibility. They had all received a grievous blow. What she planned should help alleviate some of the affects . . . .
The intercom beeped. A request to be beamed up from such-and-such co-ordinates had been received from one Vulcanar-speaking Shui, Spock informed her. Since the only Shui Amanda knew of was a legendary hermit who had exiled himself from the company of his telepathic inferiors some one hundred fifty years ago, Amanda was none the wiser. With a shrug, she complied.
Shui was a vigorous, gray-haired Vulcan who bounded off the transporter platform, talking all the way. "That steel-starched, cactus-tamponed, tin-plated bitch," he said bitterly in Vulcanar. "When I first saw the results I thought I’d gone mad, or they had. Spineless degenerate age, results of sexual perversities, all of them! They--ah, but I must speak English now, must I not?" he said, switching instantly. Actually, Amanda thought the colonists would soon settle down to a comfortable mixture of both languages, but his command of English was idiomatic and
(RBW Note. Vulcan male holding flower in palm.)
accentless; she did not bother to correct him as he continued.
"They’re running scared. T’Uriamne’s baying at the moon, trying to scare the stars away so she can creep back into her safe dark womb. Another century and they’ll be penalizing innovation, and I’ll be there to see it, I don’t think." He snorted. "In other words, dear lady," he turned to her with a sudden polished grace that made Amanda smile inwardly for the first time in days, "may I ship with this group, to a new, a more fruitful world? If, that is, you have room for a self-proclaimed troublemaker."
"Always. I assume you do know what you’re getting into?"
His eyes twinkled at her merrily. "Do you know what you’re getting, Lady Amanda? I was once accounted a Healer--and I still maintain that any man who reaches the age of seventy without knowing how to help birth a baby, care for the sick and comfort the dying is a nincompoop--but that was one hundred and forty eight years ago. I must admit, my most recent patient was a sand viper with an impacted fang. My mental powers are sometimes erratic--on a clear day I can reach Hawaii--but always intrusive. And a century and a half of isolation have left me with no social graces whatsoever and, apparently, an advanced case of verbal diarrhea."
"I imagine we’ll learn to cope," Amanda said, smiling in spite of herself. "There is-- "
"Oh--costs." He casually dug into his belt pouch for a handful of rough, uncut--Amanda’s eyes widened. "And they say there’s no dilithium on Vulcan," Shui scoffed. "The fools never looked in the right place."
"Well, actually, I was just going to give you a room," Amanda said faintly. "Not that--" her attention was arrested by a faint sound. On the other side of the room, Linnet and Selver had been leaning against the wall and each other, waiting until a scandalized hospital staff could gather together and beam up the drugs Selver needed to survive. But the younger Vulcan had gone white, was starting to slide, and Linnet was buckling under his added weight on her own unsteady legs. "Shui!"
They had the younger couple in their room and in bed three minutes later. Shui stayed with them there. He promised nothing, but the tight lines of pain had already started to ease from around Selver’s mouth when she left, going back to pick up the drugs and Shui’s belongings. She discovered with amused dismay that the latter consisted wholly of a spare tunic, a tape library, and a small menagerie of sick, injured, or orphaned animals, including a rather irritable and very pregnant wild sehlat. She battened them down, and looked around her for a minute, catching her breath. That seemed to be the last of them. With no drama at all, she signalled Spock to break orbit, and the __Ellis__ __Island__ left Vulcan for a new world.
Then she announced, on ship-wide intercom, a general meeting to be held in the council room in half an hour.
A small collapsible stage had been set up for her, and she climbed up on it so as to be able to see faces clearly. "We’re now a half-hour out of Vulcan. In three weeks we will be landing on our new home," she announced without preamble. "In those three weeks we will have a host of problems to face and solve. We have ten children with us under the age of fourteen who are now effectively orphaned, three of them infants. They’ll need homes. The piloting is now being done shift and shift about by Spock and the autopilot. He needs any help we can give him. Matters such as picking a site to land, allotting role responsibilities and finding out what responsibilities there will be to allot are crucial. And we are all going to need some kind of organization to handle decision making and long-range planning."
She ran a practiced eye over the group. A murmur was starting to arise, mainly from the younger members. As yet, the sound had no particular character; it was merely a murmur.
"I, for rather esoteric reasons, had been given charge of planning this expedition. However--" and, slowly, there was silence. "I am not suited, by abilities or temperament, to command. I hereby resign as Colony Head." She stepped off the platform, ceremoniously kicked in its supports. The stage collapsed with a large bang, over five hundred pairs of eyes watching it fall in dead silence. "I would suggest you find some answers." Quietly, Amanda walked out of the room.
She went directly to the __Ellis__’s bridge, briefly told Spock what she’d done. When she had finished, he sighed. "Typical."
"What kind of crack--." She was interrupted by a communicator hail from, she recognized with surprise, Uhura. With a brief exchange of courtesies, Kirk appeared on the central viewscreen.
"Captain," Spock said. "I am pleased, but somewhat surprised. Why is the __Enterprise__ not enjoying shore-leave on T’Kuht?"
"T’Kuhtians are crazy; you know that, Spock. What kind of captain would I be to let my crew go down into that cesspool of alien depravity?"
"A popular one?" Amanda suggested.
"Well--actually, Starfleet handed us a priority two out by Capella and various errands in the same direction before we’d even officially begun shore-leave. So it looks like we’ll be escorting you at least part of the way. What kind of shape is your ship in?"
T'Uriamne's Victory Cont'd
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: