The Affirmation by Sheryl Roberts Continued
About an hour and a thousand years of dreams later, Sherrith suddenly sat up in the bed. Her eyes opened, but they saw things not meant to be seen. Hers were not sleepwalker’s eyes because in them was a terrible awareness—an other beingness. She arose from the bed with a smooth movement. Her eyes changed from their wide stare to twin slits. If anyone else had been there to see, he would have seen her face subtly alter from its normal human lines to an elseness that was as alien as the much theorized about canals of Mars.
Now she moved with a quick purpose. Her steps were long and wide like those of a tall man. She strode to the cabin door, opened it with one fluid motion, and walked out into the moon-haunted night barefooted. Unerringly, she wove her way among the trees along the invisible path to the Table Rock clearing.
Just before the trees ended and the stumps began, she stopped. In the cobweb of shadows, with her gown billowing around her, she looked like a dryad out for a midnight stroll before returning to her tree-home. Also, like a Greek statue, she stood motionless, seeing nothing around her. Had she been aware, she would have seen a still form stretched out on the ground before her, almost touching the tips of her toes. She would have also seen four or five humanoid forms stretched out in an uneven line across the Table Rock. They had seen her but they were in no hurry. They did not increase their pace nor aim their vaguely gun-shaped weapons at her. After all, what did they have to fear from a primitive, wandering, obviously dazed human woman.
This inaccurate assessment would prove to be their last. In continuing fluid movements, Sherrith bent over, picked up the gun-like weapon, adjusted the setting, and fired.
A jet of blue energy, accompanied by a strange whine, reached out, caressingly covered the five humanoids in a nimbus of a deadly blue halo, and they simply vanished.
Still holding the weapon, Sherrith again bent over, briefly searched the recumbent form at her feet, and found a palm-sized, match box shaped instrument. She straightened, and with a flick of the wrist, she flung the instrument’s cover back to the accompaniment of a three-toned bleep. A slightly tinny voice said, "Enterprise, Kirk here."
In an unrecognizably deep voice, Sherrith answered, "Spock here, Captain. The Romulan-Klingon alliance is again destroyed. I am ready to beam up except for one slight problem."
Captain Kirk exchanged glances with Dr. McCoy who, as usual, just happened to be on the bridge. By no stretch of the imagination could that voice be Spock’s. Well, thought Kirk to himself, unable to stifle an unreasonable feeling of satisfaction, Spock has gotten himself into some sort of a fix. He wanted to add, as usual, but innate honesty made him admit that Spock, in any trouble he could not handle, was a rare situation. Uncontrollably, Kirk’s memory ran back over a conversation he had had with Spock during the time of the Warder-Liege relation they had shared. Spock had calmly informed him that he had risked his life needlessly many times and should have delegated authority or had faster physical reflexes. Well, he had let Spock handle it this time, and it looked like Spock had somehow blown it.
Or had he? Something had changed. The tearingly tense atmosphere aboard the __Enterprise__ had altered. The time lines. Things were as they had been before. So Spock __had__ succeeded. Kirk punched a button on the arm of his command chair.
"Scotty, beam Spock up!"
"Aye, sir," the engineer immediately answered.
Within one minute. Kirk’s intercom bleeped. It was Scotty. "Uh, sir, I think we have a problem."
"Well, what is it, Engineer? Is Spock back aboard?"
"Uh, yes sir. Well, that is . . . ‘e is an’ he isn’t, if ya know wha’ ah mean, sir."
"No, Mister," Kirk snapped, "I do not."
"Well, sir, we got two of them. Spock and a lady. An’ neither one o ‘em are, what ye’ might say, in their right minds."
"Full life-support team to the transporter room," snapped Kirk in a deceptively mild voice. "McCoy with me," he added needlessly since McCoy was already in the elevator. Together, they entered the main transporter room. They stopped at the same time, gripped by the vignette before them. Spock lay prone across three of the transporter rings, and towering over him, lifeless as a proverbial statue, stood Sherrith MacRaith, still clad in her sheer Paris negligee, and still holding a phaser in one hand and a communicator in the other. Irrelevantly, Kirk thought that the strange woman’s face and Spock’s might have been cast from the same mold.
To an adopted son of that planet, both faces were unmistakably Vulcan.
As McCoy strode to the two still figures, issuing orders, rapid-fire, to the medical team, Kirk acknowledged to himself the pressure that was becoming like a band around his head. New as he was to this business of telepathy, he recognized the unmistakable symptoms of a fullscale mental assault on his barriers. Recently, as he had learned more and more what it must have been like for Spock to endure his uncontrolled and unpredictable mind-linking, Kirk had often wondered what it would be like if Spock ever forced a meld with him. Of course, for a Vulcan, such an act would not only be incomprehensible, but an almost inconceivable violation of one of the five basic concepts of Surak’s Construct--personal privacy.
Almost before Kirk’s conscious mind could summon it, his subconscious, carefully trained in the Vulcan mind techniques, began building the protection offered by the Warders of the Personality, those precise laws which constructed an invisible shield to prevent the fatal merging of two minds-in-meld. Without them as a buffer, two minds could unite permanently.
Kirk put his hand to his forehead and began to massage his temples. At the continuing thought barrage, he took an involuntary step backward. Scotty looked up from the transporter controls to regard the Captain anxiously. "Sir, are ye all right?" Scotty got no answer.
Even though his Starfleet Command training was designed to prevent such a retreat, Kirk found that he had no choice. With an unusual shuffling back-step, Kirk left the transporter room, somehow hoping that distance would loosen the ever-tightening band around his head, even though he knew such a hope was illogical. Small distances rarely, if ever, diminished telepathic power. Whatever was attacking his dubious mental defenses took him back to the horrible time when his carefully erected barriers, that had kept him from knowledge of his own telepathic ability had burst, and left him wide open to the surging emotions of everyone around him.
Kirk realized that the floor was developing an alarming tendency to tilt. He knew this was a very bad sign as he stumbled toward his cabin. The __Enterprise__ corridor walls were bulging in and out like bubble gum in the mouth of a child. Kirk staggered on toward his quarters; like tattered rags after war, he tried to draw the protection of his Idlomputt around his mind. But, for the first time since Kirk had begun Vulcan training, his personal Culling Flame refused to construct its customary shield within his mind.
"If I can only reach my firepot." He used another Vulcan term for the Culling Flame. For the first time, he actually tried to reach for Spock’s mind. All he did was to open himself to the terrible slash of uncontrolled thoughts. No where was there even an echo of the familiar, of his brother, Spock. Suddenly, Kirk had a disoriented feeling. Spock was dead? Ever since the T’Aniyeh incident, there had been a tenuous link between him and Spock. Despite the mental relinquishment exercises, the link between them had persisted. If anything, after their soul-shocking trip back from the alternate universe that had contained another Spock, the meld that bound them had become, somehow, stronger. It was not enough to demand notice or affect behavior. Like the pulse pound of blood that kept both of them alive, it worked unseen, unfelt unless especially needed or especially sought. Kirk carolled his silent call through the metal thought-sea that was drowning him.
After what seemed a thousand years of wading through glue, Kirk stumbled into his cabin. Somewhere within the growing incoherency of his thoughts, Kirk remembered that only a Kataytikh could attune his mind to the emanations of another’s Idlomputt without causing it to either explode or build up a mental feed back overload that would rebound fatally upon the mental intruder.
Why was his mind still being raped? Kirk fell in a disorganized heap with his hands upon the Flame’s container. To his eyes, it looked like six flames dancing with all the elegance and heartlessness of an Orion woman. Like an ancient power generator, the Flame had always shielded his mind from invading thoughts, and allowed the peculiar Peace of Vulcan to pervade all of the levels of his brain. Always since his period of training in the school of Dakainya, he had been able to make the Flame flicker and change color when he focused on it. Now, it reared high, scorching the ceiling of his quarters. But its heart was a dead black, and Kirk might as well have been a thousand parsecs away for all the effect he had on it.
As his eyes glazed, Kirk felt as if he, like his brother Spock, was dead. In fact, without Spock, he was not at all sure that he wanted to continue.
Then, like the burn of gall in his throat, his human stubbornness took over like the shock of nerve blocks. To Continue . . . The Affirmation of what-had-been into what-will-be . . . I must . . . I will . . . survive. My Liege, go not . . . for I await. Spock, my brother . . . . . .
Spiraling faster and faster into a well with no bottom, James T. Kirk, Captain of the USS __Enterprise__, and adopted son of Sarek and Amanda of Vulcan, lost consciousness, and tried with all the newly-learned techniques of Vulcan, to convince his mind that it was not already dead.
Meanwhile, Dr. McCoy had only just gotten Spock and the woman, who was still wearing what he had been informed reliably was a 20th century night-gown, into beds in the Sick Bay when his intercom bleeped urgently. It was Scotty.
"Doctor, Security has just reported to me that ten crew members have just fainted all over the ship. Security and medical teams will be bringing them in as soon as possible." There was no trace of a brogue now, and McCoy knew this was not a good sign.
McCoy had a strange feeling that all this had happened before. Wrapped within the detachment of __deja__ __vu__, he watched the unconscious crewmembers being reeled into Sick Bay one by one. Among them was James T. Kirk, who had been found sprawled in the bed in his quarters when he did not respond to several summons on his private intercom.
Scotty waded among the extra beds in the Sick Bay toward McCoy. "Doctor, we locked in a heading for Vulcan, warp 8. Pray God, we will arrive in 5.43 standard days. I may be psi-null, but it does nae take a telepath to figure out that somethin’s happen’ here that could destroy us all. Heaven, help us . . . ."
Standing between the diagnos’beds that contained Spock and the woman, looking at the bed that held Captain Kirk, McCoy found himself mumbling half-forgotten words from his childhood.
(RBW Note. Drawing of Dr. McCoy.)
"Now, I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
If I should die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take . . . ."
Automatically, as the ship’s night shift began, Sick Bay lights dimmed. McCoy was left in silhouette, and suddenly he felt an ancient loneliness peculiar to that breed of men who have always fought for the preservation of life.
"Dr. McCoy." In spite of its weakness, McCoy knew that voice. Spock. McCoy literally jumped up and ran to the Sick Bay ward, and finally skidded to a stop beside the diagnos-bed containing the Vulcan. Odd, Spock was still unconscious. Had he imagined that voice because he had wanted to hear it so terribly badly?
No. The First Officer’s eyes were opening. McCoy glanced back up to the life indicator panel above the bed. According to the registers, Spock was out cold.
"Spock, you pointy-eared . . . you’ve scared the . . .
"Please, Doctor," the thready voice interrupted him, "your emotions are making this effort at communication impossible." McCoy started to apologize, much against his will, when he realized that Spock’s eyes again had closed. The minutes passed like centuries. Finally McCoy yelled for M’Benga.
"Spock started to say something about five minutes ago, but he seems to have lost consciousness again." M’Benga bent over the ominously still body.
"My guess is that he’s gathering strength. He appears to be under some sort of tremendous pressure. I’m surprised he can talk at all. We’ll just have to wait until he’s ready," M’Benga surmised. McCoy was psi-null and he wondered dismally if he would ever learn to handle these things.
"Doctors," the raspy voice finally began again, and McCoy realized he had been holding his breath. "I have much to say, and I am not sure how long I can remain conscious, so please record carefully." Spock paused. In any other circumstances, McCoy would have suspected Spock was
(RBW Note. Picture of female with Spock in the background.)
indulging in Vulcan dramatics.
"I presume we are on a heading for Vulcan."
McCoy said, "Yes."
"As you both have probably surmised, the twelve of us are locked into a psycho-meld. The controlling mind is the Earth woman’s. The longer the meld holds, the greater the risk factor of our becoming a corporate entity . . . permanently." M’Benga and McCoy exchanged worried glances. But just as if they had spoken aloud, Spock continued, "No, Doctors. I am not suffering from some exotic aberration of the brain.
"Because of their great danger, psycho-melds were made illegal on Vulcan even before The Reform. Even the most experienced of telepaths do not meld on this deep a level, unless they are, by nature, a corporate mind.
"Though I am already badly weakened, I must attempt something that has existed only in legend or theory until now. The probability of my success is very low.
"I am preparing to construct a Neural Lattice. Suvil was the only Vulcan in recent history to formulate any postulations concerning this exercise though I may be able to draw upon the race knowledge of the Affirmation. Though there is no time for lengthy explanations, I still must request that you keep all of the humans involved under careful sedation, Doctor. I must also request that you ask Mr. Scott to radio Vulcan, Red Code One, and tell Sarek that the Beom Utsulan must be activated in exactly two point four standard hours, relative time." Spock’s voice ceased. It had been growing steadily weaker until the last two sentences had been annunciated in a barely audible whisper.
McCoy contacted the Bridge and Scotty. He then inserted the tape just made of what Spock had said. When the tape had finished, there were a few seconds of total silence before McCoy heard Scotty issuing the appropriate orders over the still-open intercom. Apparently, Mr. Scott was deliberately avoiding the technical problem of whether Spock was in any condition to even ask, much less issue orders that involved the whole ship. Starfleet Regulations forbade any telepath, or officer in mental contact, even perhaps subject to possible mental control of another being, to assume a command position. The rule was obviously unfair, and in the process of being changed, but it was still on the books.
McCoy knew it was not any use to consult his medical tapes. Information about a Vulcan Neural Lattice would not be there. He walked back over to stand peering down at Spock. To his surprise, Spock began to speak again, but McCoy had to bend his ear down almost to Spock’s lips to understand the words.
"Doctor, the Lattice is a Spatial-Mental-Temporal Construct. Tell Sarek to contact T’Pau and to call the Daughters to Council. They must prepare for a temporal-eidetic telepath. All Vulcan must be ready . . . ." McCoy thought Spock had finished and was turning to the intercom when the First Officer’s voice stopped him in mid-stride. In an almost normal tone, Spock said, "Live Long and Prosper, Bones." Spock had only called him that once before, and McCoy wondered with a quick rush of sadness, whether it was Spock or Jim who had spoken.
How long had she been walking? A thousand years? Five seconds? A hundred million heartbeats ago, she had gone to bed . . . and then what? Things, scenes she did not understand intruded into her private universe. Since Time began, she had been trying to remember something. Who . . . am . . . I . . . As fast as it surfaced, the thought fled away down some lost corridor. Everything began and ended within the crystal paths. Like twisted light, the glittering facets led her on, and on, and on.
"Sherrith." The Voice halted her jewelled wanderings. No, NO! Go away. "Sherrith, listen to me, lllissstttennnnn . . ." The labials and sibilants bounced off the resonating crystalline stalactites. LEAVE ME ALONE! Ah, that did it. Now, she would be left alone to wander undisturbed within her private universe. She came to a fork in the chalcedon maze, and as she passed, that terrible Voice slashed across her world like a whip.
Spock could ‘see’ her. He seemed to be floating about two feet above her. She seemed to be wearing some sort of pale blue gown that floated around her like a nimbus. Blue. He would file that away for later contemplation. New, he looked ‘down’ into her startlingly green eyes, wide in an ivory face, framed by a halo of red-gold hair.
"You!" She gave a mental gasp that almost knocked Spock from his, at best, precarious, mental moorings. His thoughts felt as if they were enmeshed in tyroline glue. "Are you real? Of course you’re not . . . Just a dream . . . all a dream . . . ."
"Sherrith, you must try to understand what I say. Do you enjoy killing?"
"What the Hell are you talking about?" The winds of powerful, unleashed thought whistled down the crystalline walls. For a moment-without-time, Spock anchored himself in the Vulcan Meet’h.
"Sherrith, Become with me." Unwillingly, Spock gave up the already frail barriers he had erected to preserve Himself. Like a sucking vortex, Sherrith found herself flowing into that devil-face above her.
Flicker of light . . . passing, lost in immeasurable distance. Such a frail framework of thought. I-we must keep the we-others apart. I-we must center in the Now-Here. Elseness is
confusion. Thereness must be structured into its native forever.
I-We must build the eiderdown Ladder-of-BeingTime.
From the ephemeral rays of sun-found,
With the shadow-death of moons-lost,
Together we weave the web of what-was into the
Fabric of today’s-tomorrows.
Thee and I, together, we begin.
Like gossamer threads, all of the entwining thought woofs had to be laced into a precise neural meanings. With footsteps of electric energy, Spock-Sherrith would climb upon what would be woven into the haven of all-mind.
So many thought-threads, intervalling down each of their flashing paths. This Being gently drawn, girdling that beam of Otherness. In and out. Separate-together had to be warped into Oneness-apart, without mental hemorrhage.
"T’Pau, within-allness, I require thee."
"From away, from near I feel thy need and in Continuity, respond." Like a faint glimmer deep within the tunnel of Nothingness, T’Pau’s mind, strengthened by the heady Here-Continue of the Daughters, flamed like the Torch of Y’P’ah’fon. Around this nexus of strength, Spock-Sherrith could weave the vital Tapestry of Being.
Suddenly, like a falling brand, one of the mental-woofs fell, entangling the bright thought-lines into Space-Time.
With the terrible speed of passing-life, Spock-Sherrith stood on a sharply windy hill. Below lay a city bordering the sea. Great columned buildings were afire. Their dying reflection carried to the triremes in the harbor. Flames mouthed their hulls greedily. Visible, dotting the hills, were legions of men in glittering armor. As the capricious wind quickened, the Great Library of Alexandria died . . . .
Helplessly, he-she gazed up at the self-rotating crystal on its carved triad. The Helm of T’hwrrm was the only protection from the mind-shattering waves for leagues. Spread out below Top of World lay the horribly twisted bodies forming grotesque patterns on the red plain. We must find another Way or we are already destroyed as a race. Raising hands permanently smeared with green life-blood, Surak lifted the mind-death and flung it outward in a shimmering arc. Faintly, its shattering filled his mind. Emotions rage and we die. Logically, by the Ever-Life, there must be another Path . . . .
Within the quicksilver stench of lightning, the hill was outlined in an unholy silhouette. Pitted, crenellated walls formed a dark backdrop. Unevenly mixing with the soughing of the rising wind came the strident cries of soul-fed tears. Barely discernible in the mud-thick darkness was the death-framed outline of three crosses.
The blood-singeing bell-banners pealed a bloody appassionata. Somewhere a voice yelled ‘Kroykah.’ From the black depths of the Plak Tow the rebirth of reality seared into consciousness. He-she gazed in quivering horror at the body of S’chames at his feet. He had killed the truest of all friends. With his life’s-blood, he would gladly pay. Error . . . Error . . . Self-destruct for uncorrected error.
The mind-grasping touch of the twin handles of the Kraith as it blessed both temples with the Knowledge of Continuity; the ecstasy of Wheerring Joy as what-was, will-be, and even-now-is becomes integral to the Ever-Stream of Being. The terror-wonder of the Vulcan Heart of Life beats, b-e-a-t-s, BEATS into a towering crescendo of unlimited POWER. Like a moth falling from the devouring flame, T’Rruel clutched her abdomen and fell into the living-blue of the water of Kraith. Like an arm suddenly severed, pain welled up within the body of the Affirmed. Even though the severance was cushioned, Spock sank helplessly to his knees. His mind cried out twice, once for his wife and the irreplaceable loss of genius, once for his unborn son; then his thoughts were stilled.
The small island was unnaturally quiet. Tents covered the brownish dirt like the brightly colored clothes of a child’s doll. Every few moments, an occasional servant in leather jerkin could be seen running from tent to tent. The largest, fronted by the Escutcheon of the Golden Leopards rampant in a red field, swelled with soft-angry voices that rose and fell like the errant wind that piled the dust in fillups. Suddenly, a dark-visaged man emerged from the already moving flaps. He was followed by a group of men in shining armor. Like the crustaceans that plague the swift-silver sharks, they flitted around the dark man. With angry steps, he strode about ten yards before his armored followers seemingly subdued him as hounds bringing down a stag. After a few precious seconds, the dark one emerged from the hornet-ring holding a long piece of yellowed parchment. With a disdainfully definite flourish, he affixed his name with a feather quill. Obviously the action was over. With that thought, the drooping yeoman closed his eyes on Runnymede.
Kirk watched the two Spocks as they stood crouched, feral faces reflecting. Suddenly, Kirk realized just how alike were the so-called souls of humans and Vulcans. His brother might have an overlay of the flexible strength of Logic, but underneath it all, they had hunted the Great Cats together, both a savage, predator species. Here Top of World still lived. Perhaps, if it had survived on his own Vulcan, he would be dead in his universe as well. The probabilities were that
without the strange, artificial Warder-Liege Relationship, his own very human stubbornness would have killed him in any universe. How could he decide? Was beauty not beauty everywhere? Did not the true reality have correlative coordinates within all plane-structures? Logic. So barren. Now he must prevent two shadows from destroying each other. Spock, my brothers . . . .
She lay on the sun-warmed beach. Blues of sky and sea and mountain shadowed the essence of Being. She and he; together, they lay in the pervading oneness. The scree of gulls echoed the rhythm of the ever-sea. Now all was the Perfect. Yet, in the next second, all could change. Emptiness could flow in and infill with nothingness . . . always have-not had dogged the paths of fulfillment. She looked into his face for the future of memory. His even, conventional features began to alter, to flow into new masses like new molded wax. Now his eyes turned black with gray-blue flecks reflected in their depths. Above their bottomless lure were sharp-slanted brows. His now-relentless arms pulled her into an alien embrace. She found her lips against delicately pointed ears. The sky had turned to red, and waves of blood licked at their feet. The universe trembled and shattered into fragments of galaxies whirling in the pattern of madness. But, always and forever, He had, was and would shield her from all the unknown tomorrows with a love, totally alien and beautifully true.
The space-time line swung back and forth between the delicate Lattice nacelle. Temporal-places-people unknown and unknowable were reduced to the bright flashes of syndrome-neural electricity. Then with the suddenness of gravity within a null-gray room, he-she was leaping from the endless pendulum to resume construction of the Lattice-network. Once again, oneness was inviolate and Is was to-be and not to-be-One-of. Separateness became an all-Haven from whose viable cocoon sanity could be woven, and preserved.
He spoke to his female Otherness, "We will always be One. Vulcan has no present Way to completely sever this deep a Bond."
"Yes. We will forever Be, you and I, though such terms are now only abstract. All that remains from the ashes of What-Was, of Who-Were is WE, in the future, sometimes separate, but forever and always Bound-One. Once our Nature was Apart; now we are new. Now we are, and for all the abstraction of that construct called Time. You-I are just-born Being."
"So it has become, so let it Be, for no-time and for all-time. Mt’had’wr. (Amen)."
Ever so faintly, like the echo of an echo came the voice of T’Pau. "Spock, hurry. Thee are riding the Tearing-Hurt, and all Vulcan is reeling under the whiplash of this Mind. With the One-Voice of the Daughters I Weir Thee to Comeeeee . . . ."
Sherrith opened her leaden eyes. With a restless sigh, she thought her head must still be under the piano or the sofa. With a strangely detached feeling, she mused, "I’ve had hangovers before, but someone ought to invent a prize for this one."
Then like gentle massage, visual impressions drifted in and out of sensory range. With studied calmness, she realized that she was in a cave. For one or two moments of eternity, she vacantly watched blue-green-gold reflections paint artists’ thoughts across the uneven rock ceiling. Slowly, she became aware of the all but inaudible wheel of female voices. The words of their peculiar un-song, she had known so very long ago; or had she? No, she had just this moment learned those involved verses.
Aimlessly, her vision wandered over this rocky room down to what must be an underground stream. Surely, this water gave the concept to the word ‘blue.’ Suddenly, she saw colors as waves upon the visual spectrum. Like an almost invisible web, pulsations within the flowing liquid soothed her mind and inserted gentle tendrils of peace.
Minutes or centuries passed. Sherrith lay in a strange ambient state--aware yet unaware. Almost lazily, she searched within her mind for The Other. So much a part of her had he become that she felt as if she had grown another limb--one that would always serve her as needed. Sherrith finally felt his mind, but it came as something of a shock that what she had thought was actually an integral part of her own selfness was instead some sort of link with the Being of Another. She and he were physically separate. But that was crazy. Telepathy was only a theory, a nice subject for Science Fiction writers. In the 20th century, people did not mind-link. People? With a sudden rush of horror, Sherrith knew with a terrible certainty that she was not linked with a human at all. That face, that fantastic mind that was now indissolubly part of her was alien to everything she had ever known or called familiar.
Like mental vomit, Sherrith’s mind tried to deny, to close against all of the shattering knowledge that he been literally forced on it. To forget became all important. Yet instantaneously, she knew that trying to reconstruct her totally smashed mental barriers would be like attempting to force a baby already born to return to its embryo state.
Horror-frustration-fear-rejection-withdrawal washed over her raw mind and quivering body in successively enlarging waves. Her eyes opened abnormally wide and she sat up with an abruptly jerking movement. Then the visual panorama surrounding her forced the torment of reality upon her attempted mental evasion.
Sherrith __was__ in a cave. She had not been dreaming. At her feet ran a swift stream whose
(RBW Note. Abstract drawing, like a cave mouth.)
awful blueness hurt her mind and eyes. The only light came from a vaguely familiar intricately carved three-legged stand in whose depths burned a purple-hearted flame. Its controlled flickering somehow followed the sound and tempo of the humming song that filled the very air around her. In front of the flame-stand stood an oddly shaped cup. The historian in her recognized the beautiful shape. It reminded her of the singing lines of ancient kylikes of Earth’s Grecian Age of Pericles. But instead of the usual shallow U-shaped handles, these rose above the cup’s rim in flanking wing-shaped purity. Inset within the body of the cup were a winking myriad of semi-precious stones that reflected the living shadow of both the flame and the water, showering the cave walls with glittering motes of light. With a definite effort, Sherrith pulled her eyes away from that cup--no, not a cup, a Chalice. At last, she became aware of the circle of kneeling women that surrounded her. With open, staring eyes, they sat with arms upraised to shoulder level, hands pointed outward, palms cupped as if to receive and hold an unseen gift to be showered from somewhere above their heads.
Sherrith’s searching glance fell on each alien female, yet somehow unfeminine face seeking a familiarity that she knew deep within her, no longer existed. Her eyes found and stayed on an elderly kneeling woman.
"Yes, Sherrith. This is real. You must remember. You must accept. What you have always suspected since you were a child is true. You are a telepath, latent until now. LLisstenn . . . . Llisstenn . . . . wwellllll." These thought-words echoed within her mind. Within . . . her . . . mind. No audible words had been spoken. Disoriented, Sherrith also realized that she was thinking and ‘mentally-hearing’ in a language that was not even remotely related to 20th century earth English. Within her mind, symbol-idea-forms were being literally constructed through the strong force of the elderly alien woman. Yet, Sherrith knew that this other mind was being reinforced by the thoughts of the women around her.
The Voice continued, "As far as is known, you are the first and only Earth-human who has total access to the mind at full brain capacity. Even in this time period, Earth-humans utilize only approximately 1/3 of toti-potential mental afflux. You, Sherrith, are an eidetic telepath with temporal neural interfacings. What you must do now is to relive all that has occurred since you believed you fell asleep in your mountain cabin among the mountains of 20th century Earth."
"No. I refuse. I will not be other than I am."
"Precisely. You must fully become Yourself. This is the only viable path to actuality."
"I cannot. I . . . Myself . . . am being raped . . . pulled apart . . . Help . . . ."
"Sherrith, you must hear me with your soul. You have been in psycho-meld with the kataytikh of the First Realm; he who has the Name-Right of Spock. When your mind realized its power, it forced eleven other minds into corporate link. Do you wish the He-of-Yourself to die? Will you destroy these others you do not know?"
"No. NO. What dost Thee mean?" Unconsciously, Sherrith slipped into High Vulcan. "Never have I killed of deliberation. I would give my life for He-Who-Is-Now-Part-of-Me. T’Pau," the name came easily, "what must I do to be saved and to save?"
"Ah, that is well. Thee must be taught The Way. Thee must learn The Controls that will be Shield for both thyself and others. If Thou dost want Him to live, perhaps with Thee, then Thee must decide. Tomorrow or yesterday. The Moment of What-will-be intersects with What-is-now. CHOOSE."
Unnoticed, a tall male Vulcan had appeared at the mouth of the Cave. Fluidly, T’Pau rose to her feet. With swift steps, she crossed the space between them. Both felt the awesome Interconnecting. Only twice before had such a confluence of Time-Memory-Mind occurred. Always before, great destruction had resulted from the Force-Storm created by the turbulence of the energy-nexus. Now, this unleashed mind was creating mental whirlpools of great violence all over Vulcan. The entire Mind of the Affirmation was reeling. If she did not accept Control, she would have to be destroyed. And with her would go all of the life-forces melded to her, including James T. Kirk and Spock. If she did not allow construction of the Warders of Personality, she would have to be forcibly stopped, because, uncontrolled, she was powerful enough to drive everyone around her insane. She was also terribly capable of misusing her power to mentally coerce others, to bend other minds to her will. Sarek and T’Pau vowed without words that they would sacrifice Vulcan as a planet and Vulcans as a race before they would allow Sherrith to roam the galaxy untaught and unleashed.
Then, with a tearing, mental shriek, one of the kneeling women, a Daughter, pressed both hands to her temples, doubled over, convulsed once, and then collapsed like a puppet whose strings have been abruptly severed. She was followed by another of the women. Both lay sprawled like shattered clay models of what had once been recognizable as Life. Sarek and T’Pau both reacted strongly. Sarek grabbed his waist and bent almost double. T’Pau cradled her head in her arms and leaned against the nearby wall as if it were her last stronghold. Then with a shuddering sigh, she ‘spoke.’
"Sherrith, two of the Daughters are no more. They are dead. They are dead because of thee. Thy mind was too powerful for their capacity. Look. LOOK. See them. This is but a foretaste of what will be for allness, lest thee chooses the Vulcan Way . . . . Thee art a walking death. Wilt thou have it so forever? NOW, DECIDE!"
Sherrith staggered to her feet. As if each step were drawn from the sandy jaws of quicksand, she moved toward the two bodies. As she reached the first, she sank to her knees. "Ah, T’Leel. Thou didst have such high hopes. Thee did even espouse to the seat of T’Pau. And I . . . I have cut thee off from the vine of Life itself. In all thy young beauty, thou art no more." Sherrith raised
her face, looking upward with eyes that did not see. Unnoticed, tears streamed down her cheeks. With an age-old sound, she began to keen, that dissonant cry for the dead. Coupled with her, the mind of the Affirmed mourned, reaching a level of emotion alien to its nature. Human grief flooded all Vulcan. Sarek, T’Pau and the Daughters physically shook like autumn’s leaves in an early winter storm.
When the first tearing jag of feeling had passed, T’Pau locked glances with Sarek. Words were really unnecessary, but T’Pau uttered them anyway. "She has decided."
"As it was in the Beginning, as it is Now, as it will be for all our days, so let it be done."
A weighty stone of solemnity cut into her grief, her almost unbearable horror over the wanton destruction of intelligent life by her own mental hand. Sherrith somehow knew she had triumphed within the seeming entrails of deathly defeat itself. She had chosen. She had chosen Him and that which had formed all that he was, Vulcan. Fatigue spread its foggy fingers into her very soul. She would think about all the terrifying implications tomorrow. Unconsciously, she almost finished her thought with the words of the now ancient authoress, ". . . at Tara . . . ."
The cloaked figures stretched out across the red plain like an ancient caravan. Twelve especially constructed seltoe trailed one behind the other like strangely made links of a lopsided chain. Each selto was flanked by two figures, except the last which was surrounded by twelve, six to either side. Within each net of tensile, crossing bands lay a limp figure, cradled and cushioned by the pro-projected anti-gray underbodies. Protecting the limp forms was a thin covering of aerated polythermal meta-plastic. The walking figures beside each selto had only their long greeny-black hooded cloaks.
Such a procession had not been seen on Vulcan for 1500 standard years. R’Telick had not been required for so long that the Affirmed Memory had almost forgotten. Since air cars had not been invented when R’Telick had last been performed, they were not used now, even though they would have much expedited matters.
The destination of the ritual procession was the Beom Utsulan. This was the only resource of enough entropy-energy to drain off the tremendous overload that was building up along the meld-lines between the eleven __Enterprise__ crewmen, including Kirk and Spock, and the Earth woman, also named Sherrith MacRaith. (Vulcan Name-Rights dependent upon later progress-training-control-adoption. Trans. Keos.)
Temporal-eidetic-telepathy had been only a genetic legend until now. To free the humans and the kataytikh Spock, all of the accumulated skill in Vulcan Telepathic Controls would be needed. The Daughters under T’Pau would have to use every nuance of their knowledge with the precision of a surgeon.
Within the anti-Wheer, four figures seemed placed like a wax tableau. Two were encased in-selto; the others stood rigid in concentration. Some three hundred feet below in a natural cave, also equipped with a max-tonal blue stream, were ten more forms in-selto. Around the curving cave walls stood thirty-two Vulcans.
T’Pau and Sarek connected the complicated energy-conduc lines to Spock and Sherrith and from them to the lower faceted-rim of the great crystal. At each Fastening, the Vulcans below tuned their humming to alternate tonal resonant-reflections. Completing the final equation, Sarek and T’Pau spread their arms, and placed their palms against the pentagram bottom of the sheared-off crystal.
Without the usual warm-up period, the utsulan began to glow. The robed attendants exchanged startled glances. Stretching hundreds of feet upward, the huge neural-conflux-gem began to glow. Within its multi-faceted interior, strangely distorted flames started to burn. The sparkling fiery light changed from purple to black at its heart. Like the viscous flow of ink, the amber crystal seemed to have a creeping darkness at its center. Terribly slow, the black gold-rimmed flame burned its tortured way toward the heights of the Wheer. There an Attendant viewed the first fingers of the black flame with great misgiving. Almost lethargically, the black fire reached up to grasp the limpid globe that hung above the large crystal’s flat top. Then as if it were sucking the fluid of life, the formerly clear globe absorbed the deadly blackness into itself. With ominous speed, the globe began to turn all black and to spin. Faster and faster it turned, until its engorged darkness cast shadows over the entire room.
Then with a sudden crackling, the globe burst, casting deadly fragments everywhere like a fatal rain of spears. The Attendant half expected to see great globules of dripping blackness
spattered over the walls and floor. But, like the ephemeral shadows of nightmare, the black flame withered with the death of the globe. The center of the amber utsulan was once more clear, though the heavy resonators were still vibrating with the infusion of some unseen force.
Within the anti-Wheer, Spock opened his eyes for the first time in five Vulcan weeks. Below, each formerly melded __Enterprise__ crewman and woman began to awake from the deadly hold that had kept them all silent for so long. The Vulcans, still against the cave wall, shook themselves either mentally or physically, emerging with varying difficulty from the deep concentration that had almost killed them all. The humans including Kirk, were each endeavoring to figure out exactly what had happened since they all had collapsed on duty aboard the __Enterprise__. Kirk had vague memories of strange times and places that he planned to consult Spock about as soon as possible. The others had little or no memory of anything.
Above them, Spock and Sherrith had both sat up, throwing off the protective plastic covering. Sarek and T’Pau might as well have not have been there for all the notice they received. Spock and Sherrith turned toward each other and locked stares as if it were natural that they should do so. What passed between them was completely blocked off from all else.
Together, they had Become, Endured, and Survived what no other sentient beings had, in all the long recorded history of Vulcan. The Patterns did not have to be consulted for everyone involved to know that the Lines of Future-Being had changed drastically.
Only together, Sherrith and Spock could know, would be. Without words, they knew that because What-Is was changed, all of What-Will-Be would be altered. The totally unpredictable Human Factor had been introduced. Vulcan had denied seeming death, and now would begin to live.
Under the sheltering wings of the Idic, Aliens would truly meet, Combine, and so create Newness of Life.
FINIS ET CONTINUAMUS . . . .
BETA KRAITH IA--VD
Sherrith walked alone among the Gardens of Thought at D’R’hiset. She and Amanda were alone in Spock’s ancestral home. He and Sarek had journeyed to Beom to Read the Patterns. Technically, she knew how this was done, but she did not know why it was being done.
After the long months of mental training she had received, she thought ruefully that she was only now fit to ‘be let loose among civilized people.’ Sherrith was not quite aware how it had happened, but she now realized that Vulcan had become Home far more than the United States had ever been. For a long time, she had actually searched for something to find fault with, and to her great satisfaction, she had finally given up defeated.
Sherrith gazed dreamily out over the aesthetically pleasing terraces that sloped down toward the park-like city below. She was not yet quite used to being a genetic wonder. To her, it had been a lot of hard work learning mental disciplines, and skirting the all but invisible line that ever stretched out before her between sanity and the howling abyss of hell.
So subtly she almost did not notice, footsteps gently intruded upon her thoughts. Sherrith did not need to turn to know who was standing outside the Garden wall politely waiting for her to acknowledge his Presence.
Spock was back. What had the great crystal told him? Would she ever earn the right to enter the Utsulan and contribute her Joy?
She left the Garden and faced Spock. "Peace and Long Life, Spock, son of Sarek, grandson of Suvil."
"Peace and Long Life, Sherrith MacRaith, daughter of the Earth-that-was." For a few moments, sweet gentleness flowed between them. Then, seemingly at random, Spock asked,
"Do you remember everything?" There was no need for him to explain. She knew he meant the personal time paths they had traveled as one mind locked within a psycho-meld that she in her ignorance had forced on him.
"Yes." Somehow, this answer was all-inclusive.
"I know you are aware," Spock began in professorial tone, "that memories, even immediately after a specific event, are unclear. The greater the intervening time, the more details tend to become blurred. Sometimes after many years, all that is left is a pleasant or unpleasant, as the case may be, feeling in the mind. The same principle applies to shared telepathic experiences. Once contact is broken, only outlines of events are retained, as a rule." Sherrith did not move. He continued, "You are an eidetic telepath. The only one in recorded existence. Are you aware that we are speaking in Vulcanur?" She nodded. "The only other human who has ever learned to speak it with anything like your fluency is James Kirk, my brother. Even my mother has been unable to master it. Also, the probability of your being able to handle the __Enterprise__
as its First Officer at this precise moment were it necessary, is 995.71 to 4.29. Your only limitation would be practical experience."
Sherrith stole a quick glance at his shadowed face, and then turned back to regard the city below with areas intensity.
"Yes." Spock went on as if her look had been accompanied by spoken words. "You have also experienced . . . Pon Farr." That quiet bomb lay between them like an energ-lock barrier. As if he were thinking out loud, Spock continued. "Only what has passed between us allows me to speak of this at all, much less to an off-worlder and an alien female. However, since no other Vulcan in recent history has been in this exact situation, I must use my own judgment as kataytikh and invent my own rules."
Sherrith pressed the hurt the word ‘alien’ caused her somewhere into the nether recesses of her mind. At all costs, she must hide from him what she actually felt. Spock was still speaking.
"I have also experienced what I believe humans call," here he actually seemed to be searching or even hesitating, "making love." Now he let the silence stretch out between them with a delicacy that Sherrith had not seen before.
Like a bursting dam, memories of David, long suppressed, flooded her mind with a pain she had thought as dead as he. His fine, hard body lying moldering in some rice paddy. That horrible thought-scene which had given her nightmares for so long, now sent uncontrollable shudders through her traitorous body. Her still new mental barriers that protected those around her from the almost unheard-of power of her mind were wavering. Beside her, Spock, feeling shock-tremors, stiffened, turned and in a movement almost too swift to be seen, grasped her wrists. His steely Vulcan fingers tightened until the painful shock of feeling her wrist-bones grate against each other forced Sherrith out of the dark hole into which she had been falling. Spock and Sherrith locked glances.
"Excellent. Your barriers are again strong. I feel no unconscious pull-to-meld . . . . I had to do that. The repressed grief is now gone. It will heal." Although his grip on her wrists loosened, he did not free her arms. Abruptly, he noticed the long jagged scratch on one palm. In an odd tone, he asked, "Where did you get that wound?"
"From a thor’el bush, hidden under a fruit tree on one of the lower terraces." Spock let out a long breath that in a human would have been a sigh. Inexplicably, he remarked, "The final Sign."
They were now standing so close that she could feel his springy-taut body against hers--breast and thigh.
"You know what we must do. It is the only logical course open to us." Her heart began to pound uncontrollably as her face became flushed, but despite the overwhelming temptation, she said nothing.
"We must marry in an attempt to preserve your unique genetic structure . . . and the line of the First Realm." Spock answered his own question in the same tone he would have used to suggest an evening walk. In a tone that she hoped matched his, Sherrith asked,
"Does that mean Koon-Ut-Kali-Fi?"
"Of course. We are both on Vulcan . . . It is The Way. I will inform T’Pau."
"But, Spock . . . ," she paused, searching for words, "you are not in Pon Farr, and there is no Blooming?" He released her arms, though their eyes were still locked.
"No." In the half-light, his mouth looked somehow strangely gentle. "I must try a new way. In the Old Way, I cannot again attain ne’ir." Spock looked a little shocked at his own frank words. "I have too long neglected one half of my selfness. This is the only chance left to give my mother a grandson." Sherrith’s face had been pink before, but now it was positively flaming. She moved her eyes down to just below his collarbone, gathered her courage, and whispered,
"In my time-period, it is . . . was . . . the custom to seal such an agreement with a . . . kiss."
"Ah, yes. That touching of the lips. I have seen S’chames perform this act often enough. And even I . . ." Spock left the sentence unfinished. Sherrith looked back up at his face in surprise. Her lips parted to ask the obvious question.
Swiftly, he cupped her chin with his long, sensitive Vulcan fingers, and tilted her head back. Before she could get any of the feminine inquisitive words out, he bent his head and covered her parted lips with his own.
An eternity later, he said in a grave voice, "As you have discerned, I know the mechanics of this gesture. No doubt you will impart to me its finer nuances."
With what Sherrith could have sworn was a faint smile, Spock turned with one of his always graceful movements, and slowly strolled away.
Sherrith sat down with a very ungraceful thunk on the dividing wall. Just as soon as her insides resumed their normally rational behavior, she would follow her . . . Betrothed, the word sang in her mind . . . inside D’R’hiset.
With a little chuckle, she thought, "Mechanics, my foot!"
(RBW Note. Human female in long gown before open round window.)
BETA KRAITH IB--VD
Sherrith gazed into the Rest-Weave that was a golden web of padded anti-grav beams, strands braided and closely attached. Like a glittering knit-oval, her marriage bed hung suspended exactly between the room’s floor and carved ceiling. Clad in a designer-original, Sherrith’s body seemed only very slightly obscured by the floating-glowing cloth streamers that moved as she moved and haloed the curve of breast, hip, and thigh with echoes of reflecting light. Vainly, she had been attempting to control her nervousness that had been growing greater geometrically as the day lengthened and, at last, drew to a close.
A million years ago, that morning, her wedding day, Sherrith had knocked timidly on Amanda’s bedroom door. During the preceding weeks, she had developed a closeness with her Mother-in-Law-to-be which she would have thought impossible. Her admiration for this human woman who had braved social taboos to marry a Vulcan and bear a half-breed son had grown steadily as she had learned of the many trials that had beset Amanda during the long Vulcan years. She had stood by her son and her husband, existing like a human island in the middle of a surging alien sea. On this particular morning, Sherrith had sought Amanda’s advice, since she too was entering into an alliance that would test and hopefully, strengthen her very Being during the coming years which would, without doubt, be difficult, considering the fading Vulcan-Federation relationships.
As the red Vulcan sun was rising, Amanda bade Sherrith to enter her room. As the ingress barrier closed, Sherrith leaned against it. "Amanda, I must talk to you."
"Yes, child, what is troubling you?"
"You know I come from a century now long past on Earth. Aliens were completely unknown. I don’t know quite what to do . . . I mean, tonight . . . . Spock is genetically half-human, but mentally and physically, he is Vulcan. I’ve studied all the bio tapes available on Vulcan physiognomy and . . . uh . . . sexual practices. But, still . . . I am so . . . afraid. I’m not sure exactly how to . . . ?" Sherrith’s voice died away in confusion. Amanda’s attractive face broke into an amused smile.
"Don’t worry, Sherrith. Take my word for it. You are a potent, healthy human female. Just follow your best . . . or rather, worst instincts. Since Lillith, the women of our race have known how to please a man. Treat my son like any other man. You will know what to do."
Earlier, during the Koon-Ut-Kali-fi, Sherrith had murmured the proper Vulcanur response-phrases as if they were the unreal lines of a play. The faces of T’Pau, T’Uriamne, Sarek, Amanda, and even her beloved Spock had seemed to run together in a melting shimmer. Vaguely, a part of her had been aware that those attending were partially pro and partially con the marriage. Yet, somehow, that one Face whose outlines she had first glimpsed in a summer’s eve fire so long ago, filled all her mind to the virtual exclusion of all else. Later, Sherrith was to be glad that her marriage had not been characterized by any of the violence and uncertainty of the ceremony-battle of the ritual involving T’Pring. Then Kirk had been directly involved, almost to his death. Now, he, Dr. McCoy, Lt. Cmd. Scott, and Lts. Uhura and Sulu formed a Federation cadre in a Left-position-one of T’Pau.
Now, as Sherrith was seated on the window-seat, watching the drifting purple clouds cover the red plains with luminous patterns, memories of the attempted impassive, but helplessly expressive faces of the humans were reflected in her mind’s eye. On this night of all nights, she forced honesty from herself. She had found Kirk attractive ever since she had forced him into a psycho-meld along with Spock and nine other __Enterprise__ crewmen. Face it. She still had to fight an instinctive physical response to him every time the two of them came into close proximity. She chuckled. Fine thoughts to be having on her wedding night.
Why don’t you admit it, she asked herself. You are just trying to keep from thinking about the coming hours. With an abruptness that almost spoiled the rhythms of her gown, she began to pace the length of the room. She knew Spock was involved in male Vulcan post-marriage ceremonies.
Though Sherrith had heard nothing, abruptly she knew that her husband had entered the room and stood almost directly behind her. With the unreal slowness of nightmare, she turned. For an endless moment, her glance was unified with his. Without conscious will, they were drawn into a partial meld. The billowing waves of unified memories washed over their minds like moon-ridden tides.
Then to Sherrith’s surprise, the link-glance broke. The blue-black eyes of her Vulcan husband traveled over her face as if he were seeing it for the very first time. Slowly, his gaze lowered. She kept her eyes on his visage; unbelievably his already dark eyes deepened in hue. Although he had not touched her, she felt the scorching blaze of his eyes as they freely enjoyed her body. Sherrith felt the blush that burned its red flag over her shoulders and face, but oddly enough, she felt somehow more at ease.
With her best hip-singing rhythm, she turned and approached Spock until her body brushed his lightly. In an unconsciously sinuous movement, she clasped her arms around his head and neck, drawing his face down to hers. She felt his arms pull her against his rock-hard body. His harsh sometimes almost cruel mouth forced her lips apart. She could not breathe and she realized that she did not care if she never tasted air again.
When Spock released her, Sherrith almost fell ignominiously on the floor. Like all his movements, drawing his marriage-tog over his head was accomplished with inherent grace. For just a timeless moment, Spock stood silhouetted by the diffused lighting, his nude body impossibly perfect.
From a seeming great distance, she heard the anomaly of deep Vulcan laughter which resounded within her mind and body both. Of course he had sensed her insecurity. With a short-lived wail, the up-tight 20th century part of her realized with ultimate finality that she would never be able to hide any part of her Selfness from him . . . Ever.
With a very un-Vulcan jerk, Spock destroyed a fine example of the designer’s art. Sherrith’s gl’oth negligee adorned the floor with shining streamers of continuously blending colors.
Spock effortlessly lifted Sherrith in his arms and carried her to the glistening, woven bed. Sensitive fingers that could coax creativity from a computer read-out caressed her body with a totally unexpected tenderness.
Once, a thousand years ago, Sherrith had somehow expected Spock to be rather fumbling in his attempts to play lover to a passionate human woman. If he shared any of her insecurity, he certainly mastered it wondrously well.
She was supposed to teach __him__ the finer nuances of a kiss??!! His mouth was insistently seeking hers. Harder and harder his lips pressed against hers, forcing her mouth to open beneath his. With erotic lassitude, his tongue probed deeply into the fragrant softness. His hard mouth already forced her submission. Then with deliberate slowness, his parted lips blazed a burning trail over cheeks, closed eyes, and pulsing neck; Sherrith felt as if she had been branded as the heat of his mouth pressed against the wildly beating hollow at the base of her throat.
Sherrith felt Spock’s long, sensitive fingers gently exploring the promise of her body. Never had she felt so utterly consumed. Sherrith gasped as his seeking mouth covered the pink tip of her breast, his lips and inflamed mind laughing it into hardness. Lower and lower his mouth played over her body the symphonies of delight.
Suddenly, Sherrith’s back arched as Spock’s teeth laid a burning trail up over her belly, breasts, and neck. delightfully maddening, his hard body moved rhythmically over hers. Then, almost without warning, that which made him both male and alien penetrated her completely.
Sherrith knew not only the physical fullness of his possession, but also the awesome intercourse of his mind sweeping Separateness utterly away. His was the most demanding, most totally uniting love bequeathed to intelligent beings.
As the hours sped onward into tomorrow, Sherrith was forced to draw on all her reserves. As her unbelievably skillful lover, Spock was insatiable. Each time his body entered hers, their minds rose from passionate tier to tier which finally climaxed, not only physically, but also mentally into an echoing paean of Joy.
Theirs was a rare Totality that was both beautiful and final.
As she lay her head finally on his once alien breast, utterly complete and at one with all the Universe, Spock murmured softly into her tangled hair,
"Vulcans are taught to learn something from every experience. Once, beloved, you promised to impart to me the more delicate nuances of . . . ‘love’ . . . . I think it is time you earned your keep.
COME TWO AS ONE
pre-Reform Vulcan love poem
Come, welcome water clear,
Still once part of my
Soul (our soul and mind combined);
Now let us two be one again,
and live our lives conjoined.
Come, early morning dew,
as gift of life to
Plant (with sun and earth gave birth);
From two a single one we form,
and one more makes it whole.
(RBW Note. Drawing of Kirk.)
(RBW Note. The following poem is on the right side of the page beside and slightly down from the illustration, which is on the left side of the page. The second poem is on the left side of the page and underneath the illustration and make the bottom part of the right poem look like it is in two columns. The third poem is centered at the bottom of the page.)
REFLECTIONS UPON HIS REFLECTING CAPTAIN
I question the qualities
Of human introspection
The probing of self.
I, too, have been
Instructed in the art.
Finer, deeper, that is true.
Perhaps that is the paradox.
For you, good friend,
No matter how far
You seek within
Can never reach as far
As I within myself,
Nor find so much.
Why do you try?
What is your satisfaction?
Another question that is
More unanswerable than the first.
That is your agony.
I find answers in myself.
You find only questions.
Yet, we are alike.
For though I probe the
Depths within, I
Cannot fully touch
The why of things.
In this we are one.
For this we seek.
Linda H. Lawson
(RBW Note. Begin second poem.)
Shake and blow and beat and come.
Bring the bell, the horn, the drum.
Touch green stone of purest tone,
Speak the words from time unknown.
Ring long the banner-bell song.
Daughter, bind the two ere long.
Call the Bloom at setting sun.
Raise the Flame that makes them one.
Jane M. Wooster
(RBW Note. Begin Third Poem.)
We have kept our peace for a thousand years.
But our heart still rages, peace unkept.
There is not one among all the clans
Who has not hidden a grief unwept.
We have yielded our best to the heart’s unrest,
To the earth and the sea, the wolf and the gull.
And if blood be the price of Our unity,
Lord God, we have paid it more than in full.
We must keep our peace for a thousand years.
That is both our anguish and pride;
As it was in the past when men first spread the Word
And Surak, the Teacher, stood at their side.
As it is now, when children first learn the Law
Set desire beneath will, and their lifes’ struggle begin.
And if blood be the price of tranquility,
Lord God, we have paid it full in.
There’s never a one looks inward now
But knows the Power in his mind and hand.
There’s never a one looks outward now
But known his relation, to Life and to Man.
We know our brothers’ well-fought fights,
For they’re a thing in which we all have share.
And if blood be the price of soul’s sovereignty,
Lord God, we have bought it fair.
Virginia Lee Smith
(RBW Note. Drawing of Spock with Vulcan hand sign.)
BETA KRAITH II--VD
Alone, T’Uriamne stood, leaning against the hedgerow wall that encircled her private Gardens of Thought. Her fingers steepled in the traditional sign of inner mental research. Her face might have been carved from one of the ancient Vulcan ceremonial t’o’kpsel’u. All she needed was a scene and the symbolic buskins to easily have been mistaken for a pre-Reform actress who might have entertained the Top-of-World aristocracy. She was almost unconsciously running through various exercises she had known since childhood to quiet her mind. As a Daughter she had often been called on to handle problems which human contact had created within the cultural mind of Vulcan. But, she was totally unable to account for what had been happening to her during the last two years. True, she had always disapproved of and mistrusted the probable effects of the human dominated Federation on the body of Tsaichrani. True also that she had attempted to force a Vulcan secession over the theft of the Kraith, but she had been defeated through the almost irresistible audio-visual logic of the tokiel. The matchless tokiel one of whose dances had been performed by a human, a female trained by her brother, Spock. Even though she had superbly imitated the style of a dead Vulcan dancer, her race could not be denied.
Ah, my half-brother, my enemy, my one family love whom I have denied. Love? Another invasive human term. By Dokamral’nor, the humans breed like animals. Love? They have no family ties. They are less than nothing. Like beings of the dirt, they conceive and then abandon the life they have brought into the universe. They expect all other life forms to subscribe to their own savage rules. And worst of all, it must have been they who brought the plague to Vulcan that has been slowly destroying the Blooms. Even if the precious flowers that Kirk brought back from wherever did take true root and spread their new life over all Vulcan it would not even come close to balancing the debt that humans owed to Vulcan. Because of the human disease she and Spock were forever separated -- apart for all time.
Like a clinched fist in her soul, hate for the aliens welled up in her. This cancerous knot of emotion had been growing within the part of her that was supposed to be most Vulcan, most immune from this terrible tumor of alien madness. Lately her feelings had been growing harder and harder to control. It was no longer possible to deny that she hated, violently hated, everything the Federation stood for. At isolated times, she could feel an Otherness feeding thoughts into her private Selfness. Once or twice, T’Uriamne had even battled strange love-hate thoughts concerning Kirk. That adoption farce. To force her to accept a human as her brother . . . yet, though she had only seen him briefly once, the planes of his alien face were oddly pleasing.
Her thoughts had led her into a situation that she had battled often of late. Trying to control the shattering pull of raging opposites within herself was slowly tearing her mind from her flesh. Four times she had constructed a Vulcan high master argument diagram with all the parameters and permutations clearly plotted. Each time the conclusions were undeniable. She must force the humans from Vulcan and eradicate their destructive inroads from the mind of the Affirmation.
But how? She had utilized all the logic she possessed in her argument, based on the Stovam report, before the Council. And, yet, there for the first time in her life, the Way of Logic had been insufficient . . . perhaps, since she was dealing with cultural savages, she could use their own methods against them. Yes. That was the answer. Power turned back on itself always equals self-destruct. Now that she had the first premise, T’Uriamne’s mind was quickly filled with radiating possibilities of action variables. Like a well-oiled machine, her brain swiftly built a precise Argument Model. This highly trained Daughter had reached the 32’nd paradigmatic level, occluded axis, variant 42, modular T’lee’hk, before she truly realized the subtle danger in what she was going to attempt. As if she had just taken a deep breath of the chilly, sickly-moist air humans required, T’Uriamne felt a strange iciness wash over her entire body, producing an autonomic spasm. To use the Vulcan Logic Construct to formulate an actuality parameter even partially based on the non-logic of emotion and probability predictions of same, was the ultimate paradox.
While she had been in-construct, T’Uriamne had been staring absently out over the visually endless red plains that seemed to stretch away into Forever. Even for a Vulcan, she was isolated. When she had left Sarek’s home (the fact that she referred to what was also her ancestral home in this partite fashion was a telling sign) so many years ago, she had decided to settle on a stretch of land held by her family near an especially desolate area that might have been one of Vulcan’s polar caps uncounted eons ago. It was also comfortably distant from the off-worlder settlements which tended to cluster near and around the Space Center. What T’Uriamne now called her ‘home’ had once been a monolith of solid reddish-bronze rock, which had towered over some 500 standard feet above the hot dust-clouds that always twisted and boiled across the desert floor. It had taken an entire Vulcan year to hollow out the twenty cavern-like rooms of N’N’ivaw. From the exterior, it looked like an unusually aesthetic natural formation. The mathematically subtle relation of void to solid created a slightly dissonant though even rhythmic cadence, as though a Planet-Builder had taken especial care with this particular relation of stone to space. N’N’ivaw was a clear complement to Earth’s Egyptian rock-cut Tomb of Queen Hatshepsut. However, even for a Vulcan, this section of the planet was too hot, too arid to bear for any length of time. Therefore, to combat the endless heat, N’N’ivaw with its sculpt-scaped Gardens was completely
covered by a layer of compressed Vulcan-norm atmosphere held stationary by an all but invisible shimmer field. From a great distance, the field could occasionally be glimpsed as it reflected the sun’s motes in a glittering arc above the mountain. However, close to the house itself, the field disappeared like the uncertain vision of a mirage.
Suddenly, vertiginously, the always deceptive distance to the only occasionally glimpsed desert floor doubled, no, tripled. T’Uriamne, abruptly shifting mental gears, blinked twice rapidly. With the fluid movements that seemed to especially characterize her family, she straightened. Then, with a suddenness that left her slightly dizzy, she came out of the in-construct mental meditation level. Her breath came abnormally fast like that of a weak swimmer breaking the longed-for surface of perilous waters. A feeling of disorientation increased instead of lessened as T’Uriamne leaned far out over the low wall that enclosed her Gardens. She rested tense fingers against the smooth surface. Smooth surface . . .? Nothing about her home was smooth. Yet this wall, now that she noticed, was narrower and rigidly formed in a way that she had specifically avoided.
T’Uriamne loosened all her muscles with a swift exercise, and turned around quickly, somehow not really expecting to see the craggy walls of N’N’ivaw facing her. In that moment her rigid Vulcan training fought a brief, but losing battle with the rare sensations of shock and surprise.
Towering in cascading layers so far above her head that the building peaks lost definiteness among the diffusing fingers of banner-red clouds, was what had to be one of the most wondrous cities of all time. T’Uriamne had always had an unusual appreciation for the endless recombinations achieved by mass, form and volume interwoven into normally unrecognized beauty. Quite literally overawed by the massive panoply above her, she was heedless to all else.
"T’Uriamne, what are you doing here? I distinctly remember your advising me that this place was only good for a Summoning . . . My Sister, is all well with you? T’Uriamne . . ."
She lowered her glance at the first sound of his voice, and was now vainly trying to keep from committing the impolite action of a lengthy, sustained look, called by the humans with their usual semantic vagaries, a stare. However, in spite of all her logical intentions, she locked eyes with this Visual Impossibility.
"Spock . . . ?" She reached out her hand to lightly brush his temples with the tips of her fingers. What this intimate, and first experienced contact told her, left room for no doubt whatsoever.
He quickly grasped her hand, smoothing her four fingers around his with his thumb, an unconscious gesture that bespoke an accepted closeness that she had never known.
"Surely, you are not indulging in the melancholia of brooding, my Sister. I fully realize that losing Jim Kirk twice was a severe systemic shock, but you know that in-the-Fullness, we will find you an acceptable Other. This continuing mental vacuousness is not worthy of you, or of our family. Surely, my sister, mine, if I can lose the One-I-Called-Friend to the reflection of Myself, you can climb with me again toward the Diadem."
T’Uriamne’s limbs moved automatically as she felt Spock who had rarely touched her before, link her arm in his as if it were the most natural way to walk side by side.
As if through a billowing curtain, T’Uriamne saw the outlines of the winding streets, almost clogged with the richly clad forms of Vulcans. One thing humans had never seen was a mob or even a tightly packed crowd of Vulcans. Even Vulcans had not seen such a thing for many centuries. Now, T’Uriamne was looking at more aristocratic visages than she had seen in all her life put together. Occasionally, Spock bowed in response to polite salutations.
"T’Uriamne, this recently acquired habit of yours of mental withdrawal is alarming. I ask you in the name of our ancestors to form a Release Pact with me. Even though my telepathic abilities are virtually null, we have always been successful with this therapeutic relationship before. There is no viable reason extant to prevent it from performing its cathartic function now."
Oddly detached, T’Uriamne realized they were entering the lancing arch of a darkened doorway. Trying to keep her mind stable required all her mental concentration, and so she lost count and position of the maze of interconnecting rooms through which they passed.
Like a shaft of light through clouds, a long unheard, but familiar voice spoke, "Spock? Did you find her? Yes, I see that you did. She was by the lower wall, was she not?"
A true Vulcan sigh drew her attention to the ill-defined figure silhouetted within the entrance to a dim room. Sarek.
"Yes, my Parent-male, it was as you have surmised. Yet, she mourns for That-Which-Could-Have-Been, and Jim."
"In some way, so do we all," Sarek turned swiftly, and receded into the half-lit room which thrust out mental spirals of Dust-of-the-Dead.
Spock pulled T’Uriamne down the corridor. With a gentleness alien to the brother she thought she knew, Spock spoke softly, "How like the far-away echo of sweet music is the
emptiness that memory cannot infill. Even the years have forgotten their names, and still he cries for the return of that which has gone forever. My mother." Only for an instant, T’Uriamne felt her Selfness fighting against empathy, but now the sweet decadence of another Past overwhelmed that which she had been. For the first time, she felt the dying echoes of a human all-pervading love which this Amanda had bequeathed to the Beings of those who still existed after her.
After what seemed years of threading their way through room after room, she and Spock entered an oval area, totally empty of furniture, open to the sky and drifting clouds. Spock drew her to the very center of the room, if room it really was, and grasped her hands. His thumbs pressed lightly on the twin Pulses of her wrists.
"Both of us need this exercise, my sister, mine. The Release-Pact will free that-which-we-are into that-which-we-might-be." T’Uriamne expected her brother to, at least, touch her temples to create even a preliminary mind contact. However, he did not release her wrists. She opened her lips to say something, anything.
Then she felt Spock’s weight pull away from hers like a counter-weight children’s game of Go-Round. Unconsciously, she countered his weight by pulling her body in an opposing direction. Almost unnoticed a flame began to lick its way up her arms, emanating from the now definitely hot pressure of Spock’s thumbs on her wrists. This was like no meld or variation of meld-linking that she had ever experienced or initiated. Her eyes seemed to be her brother’s eyes, and somewhere unknowably deep within her being, she could ‘see’ the fire as it leaped and ate its way along their now joined blood streams.
As if a part of her was watching elsewhere, T’Uriamne ‘saw’ Spock and herself as writhing, twisting flame lines, continually braiding and unbraiding, joining and separating. Physical outlines seemed to all but disappear, though the burning of being grew in inverse proportion. Swiftly the twin flames began to echo each the outline of the other in a sibilant rhythm. Then, before she could ward against it, the totality of her selfness blended within itself and then with the hot, whirling Flambeau of Being that was the Selfness of her brother. Inexplicably, she felt as if she were being wholly consumed, and at the same instant, reborn. All the carefully built up and as carefully unrecognized barriers that had always divided T’Uriamne from all others, even those of her own race, were burned away, cleansed.
The ‘flesh’ of her Being felt scoured clean, almost painfully alive, and aware to a depth previously unknown to her.
All too quickly, it was over. With a definite mental thump, T’Uriamne found herself once more standing, staring into Spock’s eyes, and feeling his strong hands clasping hers.
"Spock, my brother, never before have I been able to speak what has been so long within me. Through all the lost years, I have so desired to speak what has always been the truth of my Vulcan heart. But, somehow I have never been able to . . ."
As quick as the neural flash of thought, the scene dissolved around her like the nebulous tendrils of dispersing smoke. T’Uriamne focused her eyes with difficulty. She found herself grasping the two bronzalene door handles, whose counterpoint weights forced the main door to her home to divide diagonally to allow ingress. Helplessly, she squeezed her eyes shut as if this action would somehow bring back whatever elseness she had just experienced. For the first time within her life’s memory, her mind refused to respond at the speed which she commanded. T’Uriamne had never had a hallucination, and had always refused to believe in their validity. She did not depart from habit now. Where she had been had the true tones of reality real behind it.
Swiftly, T’Uriamne threaded her way unerringly through the rooms of N’N’ivaw to a room that was eerily similar to that other room. This one was also oval, and open to the sky. This room was the true center of her home. Here burned her personal Idlomputt; here she did most of her maximum depth level concentration. Almost, T’Uriamne could feel the echoes of a fraternal presence, like the odor of lingering perfume that automatically identifies its wearer. She sank to her knees, arms crossed over her breasts. Vainly, she attempted to control the violent shuddering that tore her apart. A distant part of her mind had already analyzed the experience. The probabilities were overwhelming that somehow she had been drawn into that parallel universe, to the continuum of that Commodore Spock who had kidnapped the James T. Kirk of this universe in a vain effort to replace another Kirk who had died violently. However, the analytical part of her mind was drowning in the depths of another part of her selfness that she had not known even existed.
With head bowed she mentally wailed, "Only a few more seconds and I could have told him how I have always really felt. Just another instant of endless Time. Oh, Spock, my brother, mine . . . I . . . love . . ."
Only for a microsecond did T’Uriamne come close to admitting that she was capable of being ruled by anything so animalistic as feelings. Then, like congealing blood, the truth that the alien Release-Pact had half revealed, was again carefully covered with the debris of the barriers of years. Like a mental scab, T’Uriamne suppressed and contained what Beauty had been achieved. Now, like the bitterness in the shell of a nut, she remembered only the loss and the pain of a Relationship-that-Might-Have-Been, but Never-Was. The sweet meat was gone, like the fragments of a forgotten dream.
After her body stilled, T’Uriamne steepled her fingers and slipped into deep contemplation. Much later, she opened her eyes. The missing variable shone like a light in the blackness.
(RBW Note. Drawing of Vulcan female. On the right side and reading from bottom to top is written. 7704 © J Moaven "T’Uriamne got to her feet . . .")
When the union of her father and his human wife had produced a son, she had been so certain that he would add nothing of importance, if anything at all, to Tsaichrani. Without sympathy, she had watched this half-brother, Spock, struggle, caught between the widely separate streams of humanity and Vulcan. Like a leaf caught in conflicting currents of a river, she had wavered back and forth between an unwanted empathy for the undeniable courage of her brother, and concurrent anger at his continuing successes in both the human and Vulcan societies. It had been long before she had been able to admit to herself that she truly knew envy and the hot bite of anger. But it was so.
However, logic would not allow her to deny the obvious positive contribution that a son of Spock’s would make. She knew about all of his attempts at joining. T’Pring, T’Ruel, T’Aniyeh. The first two had been Vulcan. And even though the third had been human, she had been trained from infancy in the Vulcan way.
But Spock’s final choice had been intolerable. He had formally married this primitive Earth woman, Sherrith MacRaith. During that Koon-Ut-Kali-Fi, T’Uriamne had felt as if she had been somehow turned into stone. With the greatest difficulty, she had kept her face neutral. She had even touched the Earth woman with the slightly glowing green eyes in the ritual gesture-of-acceptance. Deadly she had stood, when her entire mind wanted to find release in the ancient and now discarded action of the roorr (killing). Now, despite all the damage she had caused, this beast-mate to her brother had given him what all the Vulcan women could not -- a son. Ah, perhaps Vulcans should learn to cry.
Unsteadily, T’Uriamne got to her feet. She felt as if she had died and been reborn to the Truth. She knew deep within her being that she could find where Top of World had once risen proudly to contest even the distant stars themselves. The power to destroy the human cancer was now hers.
Now she knew the True-Way. This time, she would succeed.
Sherrith let the peace and fullness of Being wash over her for the uncounted time that day. Distantly, she could hear Amanda and her son splashing in the crystal pool that spread like a purple jewel through D’R’hiset’s famous Gardens. By chance, her eyes lifted to the carved ceiling of the room where she lay relaxing. Three colors flashed in sequence across the corner volutes. Someone was at the main entrance with an important message. Had she been mentally attuned to the pik’ck that coordinated the house and all its functions, she would have known that someone was waiting to be admitted long before she had seen the request-code, 6-2-3 color-flash before her eyes. With a short sigh that any interruption should occur, Sherrith quickly rose to her feet, and headed for the front rotunda.
Several standard minutes later, Sherrith emerged on to the delicate balcony that overlooked the pool-tiers. She placed the object that she had been carrying on the flo-pad that hung suspended over the intricately tiled floor like a faceted teardrop. With a definite effort, she kept her expressive human countenance placidly still. She then leaned over the lacy balcony and called to Amanda to join her. Sherrith watched as her mother-in-law placed her dripping and unhappy son in the arms of what would have been an old-fashioned nanny, during her 20th century Earth. While waiting for Amanda to change her dress, she observed the ‘child-tender’ and her son. How well Sherrith remembered her surprise that the son she had borne Spock had had pointed ears. Spock had not been visibly concerned, but secretly, she had hoped their child would have the delicately pointed ears that proclaimed the Vulcan heritage as did nothing else. She had also hoped he would have his father’s coloring but genetics had decreed that she could not have everything. Sherrith was so used to seeing the black-banged hair, dark eyes, and pointed ears, that she had to fight the feeling of the ‘unfamiliar within the familiar’ every time she held her son. His ears were as sharply pointed as the most Vulcan of Vulcans, but his hair shone red-gold in the scarlet sunlight except for two definite streaks of black-gold in the red. His unusual hair always reminded her of streaked Vulcan gemstones. His eyes were basically green with radiating blue-black specks in their centers. His skin was unmistakable ivory. Now, she knew how Amanda had felt after Spock’s birth. Sherrith knew she would protect the fruit of her union with That-One-Whom-She-Would-Always-Love with her very life if necessary. Judging by the deterioration of Federation-Vulcan relationships, her son would need even more help than the infant Spock had required.
"You desired to speak with me, Sherrith?" Amanda’s voice interrupted her thoughts. This question unavoidably reminded Sherrith of that which she had tried to put out of her thoughts for the past fleeting moments.
"A messenger delivered a Package here some moments ago."
"It must have been important." Amanda had all the ruffled grumbles of an unjustly interrupted grandmother. Sherrith turned to face her ‘Mother’ with true Vulcan deliberation.
"Yes. I received a Lorn Box." Sherrith could almost visualize Amanda’s confusion.
"A what box?" Years of adherence to Vulcan phraseology made her add. "Clarify."
"A Lorn Box. No! Amanda, don’t touch it. It is . . ." she searched for the right word, "attuned . . . to me." Obviously, this information had merely increased Amanda’s ignorance instead of lessening it. Sherrith herself had barely had enough time to marshal her own few facts about the container. She had had to swiftly thought-sift through the reams of information on ancient Vulcan history stored in her mnemonically-keyed subconscious. During her mental training, she had learned the hard way that eidetic telepathy and eidetic memory were two different things. Vulcans had to be trained into telepathic exactitude. Sherrith had to have memory training to preserve the meld-precision with which she had unknowingly been born. When she and Spock had been locked in psycho-meld, she had absorbed the entire contents of Spock’s mind, which automatically included complete knowledge compiled over millennia by the Vulcan race-mind, and transmitted from one generation to the next through the ceremony of the Affirmation of the Continuity. Thus, she was the first non-Vulcan to have, in effect, Affirmed. And, in a paradoxical way, she was more Vulcan than either Amanda or even James Kirk who had been formally adopted, and who would have to wait nearly half a Vulcan century before he could Affirm . . . if he lived that long, and if he ever wanted to.
For only an instant, Sherrith’s eyes unfocused as she found and brought all her knowledge about the strange message-box up to conscious, relatable level. Amanda contained her impatience with great effort. Suddenly, Sherrith closed her eyes to slits and abruptly straightened her slumped body.
"Amanda, call Sarek immediately. Tell him that a true Lorn Box has been delivered to D’R’hiset, and that he must break conference and return here at maximum speed." Amanda opened her mouth to remind her new ‘Daughter’ that Sarek was attending a Cull-Conference of the Legion of Sciences which was held only every 25 Vulcan years. Sarek had prepared four exegeses on the Para-Interface Exponents recently researched on the Infra-Radiation graphs of ancient Vulcan Light-Shields. He would definitely not contain-peace for several Vulcan weeks if he were interrupted at this conference for anything less than a disaster of galactic proportions. However, after one shrewd look at Sherrith’s expression, Amanda walked out of the room without voicing any of her planned objections.
When Sarek’s saturnine face appeared on the view-screen, Amanda relayed Sherrith’s message word for word. Knowing every nuance of that countenance as well as she did, Amanda observed minute expression changes and translated them into human terms as she had been in the habit of doing for over forty Vulcan years. Yet, even she was surprised at the unusual depth of Vulcan ‘emotion’ she could see. Sarek must have told her a million times that Vulcans did not have ‘emotions’ in the same way that humans did. But, she could not help herself. She could swear that she saw irritation, surprise, shock, and finally, something she could only translate as horror wash over her husband’s face almost too swiftly to be seen. But, Amanda had had lots of practice.
"Wife, I shall arrive at D’R’hiset in precisely 2.47 Vulcan hours. Please inform our Daughter, Sherrith, not to take any course of action concerning the Box until I return. Sarek out." Amanda was not telepathic, but she was unusually sensitive. Even though her husband was on the other side of the planet, she felt his tension reflected in her like the electric burn of a live wire. She could also feel Sherrith’s carefully damped worry. Caught between their net of concern, Amanda felt her stomach beginning to turn queasy.
Amanda returned to the balcony to find Sherrith bent over the only vaguely square, totally opaque Lorn Box. "Sherrith, Sarek begs you to wait for him before you . . ." her attempt to soften Sarek’s pre-emptory words died unspoken. Even though the Vulcan dusk had spread its red fingers over everything on the open balcony, Amanda could clearly see the sheen of sweat on Sherrith’s forehead.
"Amanda, for God’s sake, be utterly still or we’re all dead." Amanda was stopped, not so much by the meaning of Sherrith’s words as by the terrible tension her use of the ancient religious oath revealed.
Sherrith felt like her nerves were out on invisible stalks, covering the exterior of her body with an invisible though palpable shield.
With infinite patience and care, Sherrith extended her left hand, palm slightly cupped, fingers together, into an orifice in the box not visible to the eye. To Amanda, it seemed that Sherrith’s hand sank effortlessly into the seeming solid surface. Watching Sherrith’s elbow, Amanda could ascertain that her Daughter’s hand was changing direction ever so subtly and delicately at each 1/6 Vulcan inch depth. Like the hands of a clock which do not appear to move, Sherrith seemed to be standing still, but as the long minutes drained away, Amanda realized that Sherrith’s hand was delving deeper and deeper into the interior of this strange box. With a shock, Amanda realized that over two Vulcan hours had passed since she had talked to Sarek, and neither of the two women had moved their bodies more than two inches in any direction.
Without warning, the form of the ancient message box simply dissolved to reveal the oblique angles of a message-cylinder. All that was left of the Lorn Box was a fine dust that the evening wind quickly dispersed. Sherrith painfully stretched cramped muscles, and flopped into a conveniently nearby web-chair. Sherrith felt as if her insides had collapsed like a punctured bubble. Vaguely, long ago broadcast 20th century TV scenes of bomb squads played back across the screen of her mind. Sherrith found she had suddenly developed a marked respect for that breed of Being who risks life trying to undo explosive devices before they can spread their deadly destruction. She leaned her head back against the chair. Sarek strode into the room.
Sarek’s eyes swiftly grasped the scene. He walked at a slower pace toward his wife who was still standing several feet from where the Lorn Box had been only a few moments before. His sharply slanted eyes narrowed even more. In one smooth movement, he extended two conjoined fingers to his wife. Even as she touched her fingers to his, he broke contact, and took the couple of steps that brought him to the flo-pad on whose surface the message-cylinder still lay. Sherrith opened heavy eyes to exchange a knowing look with Sarek.
"A Time-Prise Lorn Box?"
"Yes. The radiant-potential was five square miles." Sarek sucked in a breath whose gasp was audible even to Amanda.
"She is the only possible candidate, though where she found the Box . . . ?"
"Have you examined the contents of the cylinder?"
"No. The danger of the Box has only been obviated for 3.467 minutes." Sarek turned his back to Sherrith, obliquely away from even Amanda, and commanded,
"Play it . . . now."
The tinny tones of a female voice filled the room. The voice spoke in Vulcanur. Even though Amanda did not understand many of the words, she did know that voice. T’Uriamne. The cylinder wound down nearly one quarter of a Vulcan hour later. As her step-daughter’s voice faded away into ever-deepening bass tones like an ancient Victrola, Amanda felt a new, even tighter macrame of tension emanating from both Sherrith and Sarek.
Sherrith’s hoarse voice finally broke the terrible silence, "She has planned well. I can foresee no way out."
"Nor can I. She has built her Argument Model up to the 31st paradigmatic level, minimal. It will take time to counter-construct all the actuality probabilities to devise a possible recourse." Sherrith nodded wearily.
"Then, you believe she has really found the site of Top of World?"
"Undoubtedly. And the probabilities of our defeat are correspondingly greater," Sarek paused deliberately, and almost as if it were painful for him to continue, he added formally, "Thee are not truly of Vulcan, and so our laws and ancient customs do not necessarily hold for thee. There is no obligation or weir that can force thee to . . . ."
"That is the Way she hopes I will choose. No. Like Kirk so long ago, I must follow the Path-Chosen for the sake of my adopted people, even though it lead me to . . ." she spoke the final word so softly that it was nearly inaudible, "Death."
Amanda had become used to the Vulcan habit of carrying on conversations half audibly, half telepathic. Long ago she had learned to wait more or less patiently for explanations. However, usually Sarek with infallible Vulcan politeness, subtly guided the conversations so that they were understandable to everyone taking part. That Sarek and Sherrith would so unconsciously lapse, forgetful of even her presence, was a frightening indication of the seriousness of whatever was happening.
"If one of you doesn’t explain all this," said Amanda, "beginning with the Lorn Box, I am going to indulge in an old-fashioned hysterical fit." The echoing grim faces of both Sarek and Sherrith swiveled around to face Amanda. Sherrith grinned; Sarek’s face gently relaxed as he strode to his wife with hands outstretched, palms up. Inwardly, Amanda sighed. She had achieved her desired effect. The tensionforce was shattered. At least momentarily.
Sherrith got to her feet, and stretched languorously. Watching her, Amanda wondered if her Daughter knew how very Vulcan her movements had become. For months, Amanda had observed Sherrith’s subtle metamorphosis. In the beginning, Amanda had hoped that she would have a fully human female friend and companion at long last. But, she had finally admitted to herself that the psycho-meld that Sherrith had shared with her son was analogous to a lepidopteral cocoon. Sherrith had begun as a telepathically latent, though otherwise normal 20th century human woman. Then, without even a minimal gestation period, over two centuries of galactic development as well as the entire knowledge of the composite Vulcan Mind had been grafted raw upon the already lacerated levels of Sherrith’s Being. It would have been very odd if she had not altered. It was a tribute to human plasticity that Sherrith had not sought refuge in total insanity. But, it was ever the human way to surmount even the seemingly most unscalable heights. Sherrith had survived even the extraordinary hardship of her pregnancy to produce an heir for the First Realm. She had supplied Continuity when even Spock himself had abandoned all hope of every having a child. His son had given him new life. He could never have really accustomed himself to the mere passing-on-of-knowledge to any offspring that S’chames might have and/or to the heirs of the Second Realm. Amanda had watched Spock rise from the quasi-existence of a Being who only pretends to Life into a toti-potent state which she had never observed in him before. For this alone, Amanda felt a debt to Sherrith that she could probably never repay. Now, to hear Sherrith speak of her own death made Amanda feel as if she had dived into the hot-ice pools of Makianos II.
Sarek’s voice interrupted his wife’s thoughts. "Wife, please forgive our impoliteness . . . T’Uriamne has just issued a deadly challenge to all offworlders which Sherrith symbolizes better than any specific other." Gripping Amanda’s arms in a painful grasp, Sarek continued, "She has revived a pre-Reform ceremony."
"The Koon-ut-Tal-M’wal’ee-Saya-Turr." Sherrith spoke the tone gutturals perfectly. She translated as if she hoped the English version would somehow alter the awesome meaning, "The Vulcan Ancient Ceremonial Joining-with-Death-for-the-Greater-Good, or, in other words, the death of one so that the race might survive."
Sherrith fastened her gaze on Sarek’s face, and quietly commented, "This supposed difference between Vulcans and Humans is rapidly becoming a true myth."
For the very first time since she and Sarek were joined in marriage, Amanda saw Sarek left with absolutely no logical comments to make.
Sherrith leaned over the t’lke that held the tiny body of her son suspended in dormant comfort. Unusually clearly, Sterock’s sleeping face echoed the strong planes and lines of his father’s visage. An increasingly familiar pain hovering somewhere around the supposed location of her ‘heart,’ reminded Sherrith how desperate was her need for Spock. Her son’s room fronted on the delicate balcony that overlooked the Gardens of D’R’hiset. Slowly, she stepped out on the railed ledge, and unconsciously began to follow the movement of shadow and light that formed and reformed patterns across the sloping terraces below. Though Vulcan had no natural satellites, the aftertwilight of the day was never completely extinguished by the darkness of full night. So, even without the reflected light of a moon, the Vulcan nights were never really black.
Spock, my only Love, how I long for your cool logic and faultless advice. Your sister has errorlessly contrived my death, and I don’t want to die when I have only just begun to learn how beautiful Life can be. How can I accept severance from the culture that has made all the levels of my Soul a glittering star? For the first time in months, she felt the hot burn of tears in both her eyes and in her center of Being.
Soon the birthing rays of a virgin day would baptize everything in a golden red fire. She and Sarek had labored long over an Argument Model which would hopefully delineate some sort of defense to the deadly corner into which they had been driven by the beautiful logic of T’Uriamne’s attack.
Even random events had occurred in her favor. The week before, T’Pau had suffered a third attack of an illness that would eventually claim her frail life. The timing was perfect for T’Uriamne. T’Pau had made her acting head of the Daughters with full authority to act within the law as she saw fit. T’Uriamne had presented her arguments before the Daughters and had taken an immediate vote. A quorum had decided against Sherrith.
T’Uriamne had continued to act rapidly. Sherrith knew she had only a couple of Vulcan hours before the Fon’p’rr of the Daughters led by T’Uriamne arrived at D’R’hiset.
Before then, Sherrith must decide.
Now, Sherrith allowed herself the careful indulgence of a lengthy review of all the facts at her disposal. Even though she would try to use a level of Vulcan logic that would honor her husband and his ancient family, she could not stop the memory of his hands on her face and body. His voice echoed in her mind as if Spock were standing there at her side.
"Sherrith, you are a strange combination of great mind, and a spicy taste of the ever unusual. Yes, even your great mental powers are unavoidably sensual. I taste your mind; feel your thoughts; touch your soul; see the Oneness of your Being; and hear the laugh of your body against mine. Though I must leave you for a time for the discipline of the Service, you must carefully preserve yourself, for you are now my Life. You know I cannot survive another Severing. And, even if I could, I would be unable to sufficiently infill the void that existence without you would necessitate. For the future of the Continuing, you are our Lives. My . . . "Love". . . hold our Souls in-Combining, in-Beauty, in-Creation of all our Tomorrows, until we are at-one again."
Mentally hearing again Spock’s gut wrenching words, forced a muffled sob from Sherrith whose brain was treading a finer line between Humanity and Vulcan than even Spock had ever known. Sherrith felt that the cultural whirlwinds that were ripping her apart were already composing a dissonant threnody for that which she had attempted to become.
With more discipline than she would have believed she had learned, Sherrith forced herself to align the situation parameters within correlative modular levels.
By a method, at present unknown to her, T’Uriamne had discovered the incredibly ancient site of the legendary Great Library. From its environs had come the Lorn Box, a type
of mental envelope. It had to be attuned to the mental wave-length of the recipient of the message. The Box would ‘broadcast’ the pp. ms. combination to only that one mind. If anyone else tried to open the Box, it would explode. The Box could also be set to explode unless the recipient opened it correctly within a specified length of time. The Lorn Box that Sherrith had been forced to open quickly had been so set. Sarek had narrowly escaped returning to find a large, shallow crater where D’R’hiset had stood for so many centuries.
At first, Sherrith had thought the sending of the Box had been an outright murder attempt. But Sarek had pointed out that T’Uriamne was thoroughly conversant with the amount and development of Sherrith’s Vulcan training. She had known that Sherrith was fully capable of opening the message-device both correctly and within the proscribed time limits. So, in essence, the Lorn Box had been the opening thrust in this deadly game of psychological warfare T’Uriamne was waging in a final attempt to, in her mind, save Vulcan by eliminating the corrosive influence of Humanity.
Like the echoes of nightmare, T’Uriamne’s quote from the supposedly lost __Vulcan__ __Book__ __of__ __War__ played slowly back across Sherrith’s mind.
"Individual-Greatest-Good and Group-Greatest-Good share the Path of Peace. When War forks the Road, the One must die so that the Many may survive to walk the Path of Tomorrow." It mattered not that this ancient Book was pre-Reform. Vulcans would still regard it as a legitimate basis for logical Action-formulas. T’Uriamne’s carefully plotted attack was proof of this, and she had apparently convinced a quorum of the Council to side with her. Spock’s victory had been marginal, at best. Now, with this new source of authority, T’Uriamne had all of the power in numbers that she needed to revive the incredibly ancient and violent ceremony of "Koon-ut-Tal-M’wal’ee-Saya-Turr." The survival of other pre-Reform customs with a great probability of violence, such as "Koon-ut-Kali-Fi," greatly enhanced T’Uriamne’s position.
"To war without cause is the mindless scream of an idiot. To seek peace under forced intrusion is the smile of a fool," T’Uriamne had intoned the all but forgotten words.
Sherrith had to admit an unwilling admiration for the fine mind of her adversary. After hours of probability-modular constructions, even Sarek had been unable to discover a way out.
T’Uriamne’s prime postulate was that Vulcan society was being systematically destroyed by Federation intrusive influences. Therefore, to preserve the composite life of the Vulcan mind, a forceful gesture must be made to initiate a series of consecutive events culminating in either Vulcan secession or Federation withdrawal. Since Spock was Kataytikh of the First Realm, and also a highly decorated Starfleet Officer, his human wife, whose advent into Vulcan society had proven deadly, was the logical choice around whom to build an interstellar incident.
In much the same manner as an ancient Earth sacrificial society might have addressed a future victim, T’Uriamne had informed Sherrith that she was to be singularly honored. She was to be allowed to be ceremonially sacrificed for the ultimate Good of all Vulcan. And, from what Sherrith had been able to learn of the ‘Saya-Turr,’ the type of death involved was nasty, as only Vulcan’s most savage era could contrive.
How terribly exact were T’Uriamne’s probability-paths. At this particular time, the __Enterprise__ was operating at the other end of the galaxy under strict communications silence. Its current ‘mission’ could not possibly attain completion for, at least, four Vulcan weeks, approximately two standard weeks. According to tradition, the ‘Saya-Turr’ had always been performed during the Vulcan mezzo-solstice which would occur in precisely four Vulcan days. Even if Spock were informed of the gravity of the situation, it was highly unlikely that he would be able to return to Vulcan in time. And, judging by the choice Spock had made once before when the situation parameters demanded a decision between Sarek’s life and the safety of the __Enterprise__ Sherrith was not at all sure that his peculiar mixture of logic and honor would not once again force her husband to choose the Federation over her. However, if Spock were forced to allow her to die, she and T’Uriamne both knew that he would continue to adhere to the Federation over Vulcan. And, if he lived through this Severing, Spock could be largely responsible for the final destruction of Tsaichrani. Even if Spock did not live, in any case, Vulcan would be forced to sever relations with the Federation, if for nothing else than to preserve itself.
If, by some improbable coil of human ‘luck,’ Spock did arrive to prevent the ceremony, that too would severely strain relations to the breaking point.
If Sherrith died, and Spock threw his whole weight against Vulcan, the long-range plans of Sarek and Spock to use James Kirk as one object of interracial healing would be thoroughly and finally destroyed. Amanda and the young Sterock would be forced to leave Vulcan forever with all the other off-worlders.
Yet, Sherrith knew with telepathic certainty that T’Uriamne was hoping that Spock’s human wife would be so emotionally overcome by this Facing-of-Death on top of all the other recent traumas she had endured, that she would refuse to participate in the ‘Saya-Turr.’ To the Vulcan mind, this would be proof positive that Humans were without strength, bravery, truth, or honor. This would be the most damaging Action-Path, and Vulcan would certainly secede. Even if Sherrith decided to attempt to go through with the ceremony, there was a great probability that she would mentally ‘break’ and use her tremendous mental power to force __xholzurd__ upon the ceremonial party and, perhaps, part or all of the rest of the Vulcan mind as well. This would be the ultimate, unforgivable obscenity perpetrated by a human upon Vulcans. If Sherrith were to do such a thing, Vulcan might not only secede, but also be so insulted that it could conceivably abandon passivity and wage active war upon the Federation itself.
Absently viewing the sanguine glow of sunrise beginning, Sherrith decided with macabre humor that red was definitely an appropriate hue. As the rising Vulcan star turned the Gardens and balcony a bloody pattern of crimson chiaroscuro, Sherrith finally admitted to herself that she was scared to death, or, rather scared to life, she quickly amended mentally.
God, but she was afraid. In front of Sarek and Amanda, she had somehow managed to maintain a proper impassive facade. Even alone, she had forced herself to dutifully review the whole nasty situation in what she hoped had been a logical and disciplined fashion.
But, damn it, she wasn’t a Vulcan. Despite the genetic oddity of her mind, and her Vulcan training, she was still a full-fledged human woman. She had a sudden urge to scream as loud as she could, but she couldn’t figure out what she would say to Sarek if he heard her. So, Sherrith decided she would dial herself a double Scotch instead.
This took several minutes because she had trouble getting her knees unlocked. She returned to the balcony and downed the drink in two large gulps. As the fiery liquor exploded warmth inside her, Sherrith felt herself relaxing. Mental disciplines were all very well, but . . . A beam from the rising sun sparkled the glass in her hand and caught her eye. For a moment, the glass was a crystal fire in her palm.
Memories of a long ago summer’s eve and another fire flashed across her mind. A faint smile briefly lifted the corners of her mouth. So long ago and so far away. "Alas," Sherrith whispered the word, and her smile broadened into a grin. She was reduced to ‘alas’ again.
Sherrith straightened and noticed that her knees were sore. Well, she silently vowed, she would do her best to be true to herself, to Spock, and to the two civilizations they represented. She would succeed even if it meant her own death.
"To sleep, perchance to dream . . . aye, there’s the rub . . . ."
Sherrith wondered if she had time for another Scotch.
The terrible pounding resounded in all the rooms of D’R’hiset. Sherrith had just completed Vulcan-full-dress. Her body was swathed in the multi flowing folds of the Kouroi. The progression of Full-Dress was similar to the ceremony of robe-donning used by ancient Earth religious pontiffs. Each article of dress was accompanied by an involved mental exercise that strengthened the brain from its cortex out, even as the body was covered from the skin out. The end result was an involved mental-lock that was capable of shielding from even the most forceful outside pressure. The complicated combination of level-blocks was both simplified and keyed to the, by contrast, prosaic correlatives to the coverings of the body.
Sherrith walked fluid-swift to the main entrance of D’R’hiset and remained shrouded in the heavy shadows that blurred the depths of the great room. She watched Sarek press the release that opened the door. With the irresistible ponderousness of certain doom, T’Uriamne advanced into the center of the porticoed room which she had not seen in 45 Vulcan years. Almost on her heels, marched the Culling-Guard that ritually preceded the Council high-members. They carried banners evolved from resurrected descriptions of the War Flags of the Pre-Reform Vulcan Period.
"To Drive Away the Curse of Invasive Death, I Have Come. Release unto Me the Person of the Living-Death that I may Free the Vulcan Soul-Mind from Certain Oblivion." Even Sherrith could see Sarek’s body stiffen as if to resist the deadly nee’wrr, the greatly feared Vulcan sandstorm that was capable of destroying whole cities and carving new patterns in solid rock.
"T’Uriamne," Sarek began, "you must desist from this path, in the revered name of Dokamral’nor, or . . ." Suddenly espying Sherrith among the concealing shadows, T’Uriamne interrupted her father.
"There," T’Uriamne pointed with an imperious finger, "the human cancer hides among her allies, the vagaries of the shadow’s shield." Like all military escorts since time immemorial, the Guard marched in cadence to where Sherrith was standing, surrounded her, and forced her to march out of the all-Haven of D’R’hiset.
Still heading the procession, T’Uriamne signaled a halt immediately beneath the enormous horse-shoe arch that announced the entrance to the famous Gardens of D’R’hiset. With calculated deliberation, Sarek’s natural Daughter turned and directly addressed Sarek’s Daughter by marriage.
"Sherrith MacRaith, once a 20th century Earth woman, now wife of the Kataytikh of the First Realm of Vulcan, mother to its only surviving male heir, I salute thee. In Other-time; Other-place, thou wouldst be respected and revered. However, this Temporal-Progression requires that thee offer restitution for the irreparable harm thou hadst caused to this planet’s Ever-Life with the payment only thy death affords.
"So the Laws have ever been, so thy Record reads, and so the Verdict must be. __One__. Thou didst force a psycho-meld with Spock, First Officer of the USS __Enterprise__, and Vulcan Kataytikh,
in contraindication of Vulcan Law (Bk. 351-863; P. R. 110)."
Sherrith’s still all too human mind insisted on reveling in the shallows of the inconsequential. She stood helpless under the words her mind insisted on replaying.
"For whom does the bell toll? It tolls for thee." Aw, Hell . . . .
"__Two__. Not content with the serious violation of the edict of Vulcan Personal Privacy, thee didst commit a form of __xholzurd__, and so forced ten members of thy own race into a dangerous mind-link with thee.
"__Three__. By inducing a multiple-meld within a species whose very Nature is alien to the concept of a corporate-entity, thee didst attempt F’rr’n’dkv, forced mental alteration or genetic change. Charge three must be raised to the 12th power because destruction of the individual mind was a virtual certainty.
"__Four__. Thou didst release the extreme power of the genetic anomaly of thy mind, uncontrolled and unrestrained. Thusly, thou didst risk great harm to multiple civilizations (xf. Vulcan, Schillia, and the human planets of the Federation).
"__Five__. Thou didst allow the race-mind and corresponding irreplaceable information contained within the Vulcan Affirmed to face probable extinction. The destruction of great knowledge is allowed no possible excuse.
"__Six__. Thou didst destroy the life-lines of two Daughters of the Tradition, wantonly and violently. Thus, thou didst reward their offer of help with the final refutation of true-Death. Restitution must be made.
"__Seven__. Thou didst substantially weaken the strength-lines of both Spock, now thy husband, and James Kirk, thy adopted brother, thus culminating unto the full blooming of the destruction-seed sown by the cancer of the Federation’s alien blight."
T’Uriamne paused a little too dramatically, Sherrith thought absently, but she has the skill of Mark Antony with an audience. T’Uriamne had intoned each charge with all the solemnity of heavy, evenly-paced hammer-blows knelling a great gong. Sherrith felt as if she were inside the illusory calm of the eye of a deadly storm. Every Vulcan was staring at her, and their concentrated dislike, which had become more intense with each charge, was not a palpable thing.
When the deliberate pause had become almost unbearable, T’Uriamne intoned, "__Eight__, and gravest of all."
Irreverently, Sherrith thought, how nice, she’s saved the best for last.
Inexorably, T’Uriamne continued, "Thee, a primitive off-worlder, didst illegally and without Honor, profane the Vulcan Heart itself. Thee didst Affirm the Continuity without true-Knowledge or respect. Such an offense is rank and unthinkable, but it is a prime example of thy species arrogant disregard for the Life-Ways of all other Beings."
At this charge, Sherrith felt the mental shudder of pure horror within all the Vulcans around her. That such a thing could have happened for any reason utterly clinched T’Uriamne’s argument that humans, and therefore, the Federation, were a real and immediate threat to the ultimate survival of the Tsaichrani.
Now, T’Uriamne gazed directly into Sherrith’s eyes for the first time. Even though Sherrith’s barriers were strongly in-hold, she still sensed the searing waves of . . . what . . . emanating from T’Uriamne? With surprise, Sherrith unmistakably recognized the hot emoting wave-lengths of pure hate. Hate from a Vulcan as highly trained as T’Uriamne? Once, Sherrith would have said ‘impossible.’ But, now . . . . What could have happened to cause this? Sherrith gritted her teeth, fighting the ungovernable temptation to slip under T’Uriamne’s mental shield, and seek for behavioral causes.
During her training at Dakainya, Sherrith had accidentally discovered that it was possible to construct mental probes on different mental ‘wavelengths.’ She could operate within a fairly broad spectrum of thought-band-levels. A primary thought-shield blocked mental transmissions on only one level. Secondary and tertiary shields operated on increasingly multiple thought-levels. Vulcans, as a whole, constructed 1 to 7 level shields. However, Spock was the only Vulcan Sherrith had known who also blocked the deeper emotional levels. Vulcans as a race had so suppressed their savage emotions which had once almost killed them as an intelligent species, that many would not even admit that Vulcan emotions really existed any longer. Those who did admit to the emoting personality aspect, had reasoned that they were so close to extinction as not to require a thought-block. To someone with so strong a mind as Sherrith’s, it was as if the owner of a great house believed himself to be secure against thieves, only to have an open door in his cellar. Sherrith could have slipped in through any one of many unblocked levels in virtually any Vulcan mind expect Spock’s. Because of his heritage, he had been forced to acknowledge the existence of raging emotions within himself; Spock had, sometimes painfully, learned to handle this most human part of himself, to force it to work for him, and to block it off from and for the sake of others. Oddly, this had allowed him to admit that Vulcans had just as savage a side to their natures as humans. The difference, of course, was that Vulcans had chosen an alternate, more mentally disciplined way.
If she could just find out what had reached into the normally, largely dormant, Vulcan-emotion-arc and had activated it within T’Uriamne, Sherrith knew she would have the answer, the way out of this attack. And, if a viable Actuality-path could be found, it just might save the Vulcan-Federation alliance. But, all the intensive training she had received in the Vulcan Way had been aimed at preventing any such actions on her part. So well had the tenuous, but nonetheless real, conditioning taken root that she found she could not violate it, even to, perhaps, save her own life, and/or continued UFP existence on Vulcan.
T’Uriamne’s harsh voice broke into Sherrith’s reasonings. As she spoke, T’Uriamne looked away from the human woman, and just so abruptly did Sherrith’s reception of T’Uriamne’s emotional surgings cease.
"Thee of the Council have heard the Charges brought against the Accused, Sherrith MacRaith." Without actually looking at her again, T’Uriamne asked, "Do Thee have ought to say in thine own defense?"
It seemed that a thousand, thousand thoughts ripped through her mind, all within 1/1000 of a standard second. Indeed, what was there to say? From the Vulcan point of view, all the eight charges were undeniably true. Finally, Sherrith spoke in a calm but carrying tone.
"Justice is more than equity, mercy more than leniency, and a contribution is more than the contributor." Sherrith knew that everyone of the Vulcans present would automatically identify the statement as a quote from the __Book__ __of__ __Books__. Sherrith also knew that T’Uriamne and, at least, one-fourth of the Council members present were aware that the Great Patterns of Future-Being that were woven-faceted deep within the gigantic Utsulan at Beom had been radically altered positively by her advent upon Vulcan history.
Sherrith continued as if she were participating in one-half of a Zyeto exercise that was audible, while the other half was occurring within the minds of those around her who would be her judges. As distinct as the enmity she had been sensing, was the sudden surprise at her use and knowledge of traditional Vulcan Books of Arguments. Taking immediate advantage of the slight advantage she had gained, Sherrith proceeded.
"The seeds of violence are sown by the ignorant, and reaped by the innocent." (__Book__ __of__ __Life__) Although Sherrith was not innocent in deed, she was innocent in intent. Surely, even introducing the idea of non-guilt in reference to herself would be to her advantage.
"The Flame is an analog to the intellect. As the Flame may be extinguished by water, so may the intellect be extinguished by emotion." (__Book__ __of__ __Joys__) Deeply, Sherrith could feel the Vulcan’s counter-shock at being accused of emotionalism, even indirectly, and doubly bad, by a human.
"The duty of the present is the past-duty of the future. Ignore it and it is as if thee dies without living." (__Book__ __of__ __Books__) Sherrith hoped to fight T’Uriamne on her own ground with this, her final quote-defense. Even though she had caused damage, Sherrith hoped to introduce the thought what she had done was unknowing, and might be absorbed into a greater good.
However, immediately, Sherrith knew that her quasi-Zyeto was insufficient. But for what she had done, even inadvertently, she had already been condemned.
"Hast Thee completed?" Both Sherrith and T’Uriamne knew the question was rhetorical.
Almost without pause, T’Uriamne spoke the pre-judged verdict. "We, of the Daughters of Vulcan arbiters of the body of Tsaichrani, do now and for all time, pronounce sentence upon Thee. According to the ancient laws laid out within the __Book__ __of__ __War__, we do pronounce Thee Candidate for the ceremony of ‘Koon-ut-Tal-M’wal’ee-Saya-Turr’ to be performed upon the Pre-Reform Rock-of-Rites still extant within the site of Top of World, between the 14th and 18th hours of the mezzo-solstice.
Again, T’Uriamne paused. Sherrith felt her sudden tenseness. "Another course is open to Thee. Because Thou are not Vulcan either by birth or by adoption, our practices are not binding upon Thee. Thou canst claim Thy alien citizenship, preserve Thy life, and depart Vulcan forever."
Sherrith had known that this would be offered her; this path was the one which T’Uriamne was hoping she would choose. Swiftly, Sherrith reviewed the options. Could she live without Spock? Without the unifying Vulcan philosophy-culture? Being who and what she was, could she survive in a century not her own, apart from the Oneness-Peace that had given her new life, a true family, and a full Selfness? Obviously, the conclusion must be negative. Sherrith knew that she had recently developed a fierce desire to live, but she also forced herself to be honest enough to admit that without Spock, her son, her Vulcan ‘parents,’ and the gestalt of the Tsaichrani culture itself, she would only be technically alive; her ‘soul’ would wither and die. She was horribly caught between Death and death. Did the fatal genre really matter? There was no real decision to make. There was no viability to the ‘choice.’
"I will abide by the verdict of the Daughters. If my life will provide reparation for any harm done, then I offer it freely." Fleetingly, Sherrith was aware that her words had provided both surprise and a new element of uncertainty among her jury. Even T’Uriamne had not expected her to decide with such dispatch. However, Sherrith also knew that T’Uriamne did not really believe that her brother’s wife would have the fortitude to endure the ceremony unto its deadly conclusion.
(RBW Note. Drawing of harsh mountain rock.)
(RBW Note. No number on page 102.)
As the Vulcans rearranged themselves back into a formal procession and exited under the great arched entrance of D’R’hiset, Sherrith let her eyes sweep over one rigid Vulcan visage after another, hoping for she knew not what. Finally, she sighed and breathed the ancient words,
"It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying . . . nothing . . ."
Bell-banners, whipping flags, wordless mental un-songs that drew flaming echoes within the coldly burning ceremonial Idlomputt-all sounding to the dusty cadence of feet creating a low-lying fog of red dust. Nearly two Vulcan hours ago, the procession had passed the subtly carved bastions of N’N’ivaw. Sherrith was finding it difficult to keep her mind in the here-and-now. All the ancient sounds, smells, and sights were invoking Other-Memories of a Plak Tow, a Pon Farr when two friends fought almost to the death over a Vulcan woman who cared for neither.
Suddenly, the No’ol T’ah halted. Boiling above the heads of Sherrith, T’Uriamne, and the Council Members were the endless T’neewe-the howling red clouds that gave out audible sounds as they grated against level boundary layers. Millennia past, these hot, writhing thermals had given rise to legends of this part of Vulcan being a Soul-Thrasher, a collecting place for the After-Beings of the Vulcan Dead. Ears ringing with the grating cloud-shrieks, Sherrith halted her automatic plodding.
Dwarfing the figures, a series of tiered peaks rose into infinity, purple-red crags were hidden from ground view by the condensed vapors that haloed the towering mountains with a vague, bloody-orange aureole. Steep, sheer, the ragged range pulled out of the desert floor at a 90 degree angle. Sherrith was unable to discern even a hint of a path. However, T’Uriamne seemed to know exactly where to look. As the procession moved laterally several meters, a hidden path was gradually revealed, but even from the frontal view, the route was still all but invisible. Only by gazing slightly upward to the left, could the initial rock-cut steps be seen. As T’Uriamne led the way, the No’ol T’ah initiated ascent. Sherrith noticed that each step seemed cut for the feet of giants. She almost tripped, expecting each level to be similar in height. Not only were the steps uneven, but she felt her feet seeking a natural rhythm which was not there. This ‘path’ had been recently and quickly cut. The muscles of her thighs groaned against the steep pull. Sherrith began to concentrate on her cardio-vascular system. She had only just become accustomed to the normal Vulcan atmosphere, but within this sector, the air was half again as oxygen-poor and correspondingly hotter and heavier. Longingly, Sherrith reminisced about the silent blankets of snow that she had reveled in as a child on Earth.
Louder and louder, the pounding in her ears seemed to boom over the entire universe. Her lungs felt as if they had been set afire. Dimly, she realized that someone had passed her. Without warning, T’Uriamne called, "Kroykah!" Then, like the life-giving sight of an oasis in the desert, Sherrith felt the cool revival of a Tri-Ox compound releasing its intervaled oxygen into her bloodstream. The ringing in her ears and the blurring of her eyes ceased. However, Sherrith knew that she had been given more time only to preserve life in her body until the No’ol T’ah reached the Heights of Sacrifice. With grim amusement, she thought, with mercy like this, who needs a savior?
With her senses once more returning to normal, Sherrith began to observe events around her. What captured her attention first was the blank stare in T’Uriamne’s eyes and face. For the second time. Sherrith wondered what truly motivated T’Uriamne.
As the procession wound its way ever upward like a torpid snake, Sherrith felt that she had overlooked something important. Suddenly, the path briefly flattened and the whirling cloud momentarily cleared. Below, in a natural dry-rock bay, rose elastic walls that sheathed a glittering interior. Through the translucent webbing that formed a clear geodesic dome, shimmered the sheared off top of a giant crystal. With a distinct feeling of disorientation, Sherrith knew she was looking down into the great Wheerr of the Beom Utsulan. She had never before seen it from this viewpoint. And as far as she knew, only she and this particular group had seen Beom from this vantage point since Top of World ruled all of Vulcan.
Click’click-click. Like the tumblers of a lock falling into place, Sherrith knew with an unexplainable certainty that the huge Utsulan was somehow the key. Logic would indicate that the ancient site of Top of World was located within the clutching fingers of this crest of peaks. On a direct line due South lay T’Uriamne’s mountain stronghold of N’N’ivaw. And like the hypotenuse of a Sacred Isosceles triangle squatted the complex of buildings that housed the Beom crystal. Once before, Sherrith had been inside the sphere of influence of the Utsulan, and its resonating vibrators were indelibly etched on her mind.
Something was out-of-sync. T’Uriamne’s whole sequence of actions were like an equation each of whose parts seemed correct, but which did not balance.
The Past. The answer resided somewhere in the Past. Deep within her eidetic telepathic memory, an episode emerged to tangle her thoughts. Silently, desperately, she sought her husband’s mind path. Vulcan childhood -- so long ago and temporally far away. Only one method could unearth the vital information. Now, Sherrith felt a fear greater than even her own death had aroused in her being. She knew this particular mind-experiment had never been successfully
completed within the Vulcan collective memory. A few members of the Vulcan Legion of Sciences had theorized that any and all spoken words retained a type of eternal existence. The problem was to isolate and locate. To ascertain the where and when of words or an event required a delicate journey along the fragile lines of time-space. And not even the Vulcans knew all there was to know about the relative location of thought within the space-time continuum. If she tried to capture a past-thought-event, Sherrith knew she would be treading uncharted paths, and that she must present a normal exterior to those about her, as she slowly ascended the trail to Vulcan’s ancient glory.
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