"I shall die," said the little mermaid, "and as the foam of the sea I shall be driven about
never again to hear the music of the waves, or to see the pretty flowers
nor the red sun. Is there anything I can do...?"
"No," said the old woman, "unless a man were to love you so much that....
all his thoughts and all his love were fixed upon you...."
--Hans Christian Anderson, "The Little Mermaid"
Far, far out in the field of stars, where the void is black as the deepest eye and as cold as man can measure, it is very, very wide. So vast indeed that no sensor can sound its breadth and no probe can plumb its depth. We must not imagine that there is nothing out in space but barren, sterile planets. Oh no! The galaxy teems with life! The most singular minds and beings roam the cosmos, so far beyond our ken that we take them for but random flukes of nature. Twinkles, flares, meteors, quasars, and nebulae do we see. But in the rampant haste of our ignorance, we fail to note the special signatures of life abundant--like ours, only different. There in the midst of that endless expanse, spins the planet Vulcan, burnished fiery hot in hues of purest cinnabar, home to a race of sentient men, like us, only not so very different at all.
In the roaring wilds of that vacuum of space, the planet Vulcan spawns the most extraordinary sights. There are chasms leading down nigh to the molten core and pinnacles soaring close up to touch the heavens. Exquisite forests of dry crystal, ancient as creation, shimmer delicate and inviolate beneath the baking sun. Plants grow sinuous and supple, waving and dancing at nature's merest fancy, bending--never breaking--under the harshest storms of sand. Birds of sparkling silver soar far above the ruddy crags, then dive deep into the roiling oceans to feed and sleep and breed.
On the surface of our distant sister planet, stands the city of ShiKahr. The race that lives there prides itself on clearest logic. A logic that would strive to pierce the starry veil of this grand universe and divine all its ancient secrets and immanent mysteries. And then to take those mysteries and to transform them to neat, precise, binary data, freely accessible to all.
And in the center of all this logic resided Sar'ek, son of Skon, as cool and as stolid as the crystal gardens that surrounded him: an Elder of his clan, father to two of the proposed Intended Heirs, begotten not elected, as it had been for untold centuries through in the planetary past.
Sar'ek had seen service as a Council Elder for many years. His wife was not of his world, and so he entrusted the rearing of his sons to T'Pau, the honored matriarch and Voice of the Council. She was a wise woman, and exceedingly aware of her high status. On that account she wore twelve Seeing Stones upon her garments. Others, including S'haile Sar'ek, were allowed to wear only six. And the Seeing Stones served her well, and she used their power sparingly.
She was especially deserving of praise, however, for the rearing of the Intended Heirs. They were four stalwart little minds and souls, but Spock was the stoutest of them all. Outside, he was as austere and reserved as all the rest, but inside his hidden heart was torn between two worlds--between the soft, green grass of Earth, and the packed, red clay of Vulcan. And yet, in an irony his young mind could not yet begin to comprehend, he was equally alien to both--an unknown everywhere, even in his parents arms.
In quiet defiance of the raging war within, as if to refuse to acknowledge its presence was to will it impossibly away, he locked his forbidden feelings deeper still inside, and tried with all his might and vigor to lose the key in some deep, bottomless pit. But that deep pit was within him, you see, and so his task had failed before it had begun. So he cleaved fiercely unto the hostile world of Sar'ek, relegating those feelings to the pit as well, and his red-blooded mother wept alone in silence.
From the age of two, all day long he studied and meditated within the walls of his father's abode, much as we do from day to day at school. And as the teachings of the learned pushed aside the traitorous emotions of the headstrong, he began to hear the Song of Vulcan inside his head. It started as faint and insubstantial as that glimpse that you catch in from the corner of your eye, so ethereal that the moment you turn to look, it vanishes forever. Over time, the Song grew to an elemental hum, and then to weave itself into the basal cadence of his being. By his seventeenth year he had achieved his goal. He had become one with the Song.
He never failed to gasp in wonder as he allowed his mind to slip into the deepest levels of meditation and communion with the profusion of people in the world he had, by default, come to claim as his. For even as an infant, he had sensed that though this Song might be in his mind, of his mind, through his mind, it was merely passing through. A transient, a placeholder for a Song he had never heard, which would soothe his restive spirit with the lullaby of a home he had not yet come to know.
Outside his body, the cinnabar world swung complacently on its axis, in syncopated time with the Song. Since the time of Surak, it had offered order, security, belonging, repose and a chance to better the whole. Everything a being of clearest logic should desire.
But inside, his heart cried for more.
Over time, the four Intended Heirs grew up together in location, but even more apart in vision. Within the walled garden of the enclave of the clan, each potential Heir was allotted a plot of fertile ground, wherein he might shape the dirt--a microcosm of his world--as he saw fit. The eldest, S'ynet, son of Swan arranged his in symmetrical rows and columns of tender, newly sprouted life, precise to the millimeter, perfectly balanced in three dimensions. He thinned and weeded carefully, logically, selecting the strongest to live at the grave expense of the lives of their own kind.
S'myn, son of Swan, husbanded no life, but arranged the soil of his plot into a pointed tower, a monument to greatness, power and supremacy. But no matter how he moved earth and rock, his efforts stood cruelly dwarfed in the shadow of those soaring crystal arms that embraced the little alcove around all sides and held it in.
Sybok, son of Sar'ek went his own way entirely. In his allotted land he rolled and wallowed in the clay, sensing every wild impulse of every available neuron, intent on experiencing every permutation of venal existence ever known to his people in the time of the Old Before. He reveled in his body under the fierce regalia of sunlight, and communed with scents and sounds under the cloak of night. It was said that he nurtured not the Song of Vulcan, but feelings--parlous, atavistic utterly taboo feelings. This was never said within the range of Sar'ek's listening ears.
But the youngest, S'pock, son of Sar'ek, did none of these things. He cared nothing for the empirical tenets of husbandry nor for the art of sculpting a world to the form of one's conceit. Instead he tended and he fertilized and he sheltered the native seed that lay dormant within the sod, and watched with intent fascination and endless patience as the natural life force of the world revealed itself unto fruition before his eyes. He documented the objective with pedantic scientific precision, yet for as many measurements as he dutifully recorded, there was always something more, some wondrous, ineffable quality of life itself, which eluded any description. This fascinated him to no end.
S'pock cared for his family and for the plot of life that was dependent upon his succor, and for one other thing only. It was a statue, carved of timeless m'rbyl stone, and placed in the cool of his mother's water garden, under the watchful arms of the Terran trees, planted there despite all illogic of time and expense.
In ages past, but still recorded, the m'rbyl stone had fallen to Vulcan through a spacewreck. A Terran ship, sent on a maiden Reciprocity voyage, powered with a first generation warp reactor, charged more with ambition than with forethought, had imploded upon shutdown and martyred every member of the mission. But a few fragments of jetsam had survived the burn. The planetary geologic experts had defined every parameter of the stone's structure and quantified every one of its properties to the last significant digit, but it was his own mother, Amanda of Earth, who had told those learned men its common name. Marble. Recorded by the experts here forever after as m'rbyl.
Grinding off the char and polishing it reverently down to its satiny center, the Vulcan master S'lyejah had carved a monument from the stone. He had shaved away every unnecessary molecule of stone until all that was left was an immortal idol in the form of a rosy Terran man. A representation of Everyman and No-man, departed from Earth to enter the largess of the greater universe as a proxy for all his kind--and to succeed for his people, albeit to die, quite incidentally himself, in the process.
The form of Everyman was shaped in hues of pink and alabaster. The lines and ripples of his torso fell as deceptively soft as syrup of P'petmah when it flowed just before the harvest. But when they were touched, they were cool and harder than crystal, the matrix set fast in the heat-tempered solidity of the re-entry blasted m'rbyl stone. The daytime sun dressed Everyman in golden brilliance. At nighttime the rusty rays from T'Khut shrouded his form, but he was always still unmistakably the epitome of Man himself, even under her bloody glow.
The statue was almost flawless in its glory, but for one single, blatant scar. Across the middle of the curving breast, a charred seam of rock marred the perfect blend of rose and creamy stone. The seam had blackened and widened in the violent fall to its foreign resting place, and seemed to threaten to split Everyman quite in two.
S'pock accepted a kinship with this unfeeling effigy of his buried half-heritage, flung from Earth against its will. By day he would sit by it and study the material that his father had selected with regard for his future. He would run his fingers over the hard chest, the solid form, and last of all, the fatal crack. By night he would go to his mother and hear her tales of the other world, which resided in his genes somewhere. Surely it must, somewhere?
Nothing stirred his soul so much as to hear of this home that he had never known. He entreated his mother to tell all she knew of its lands, its towns, its men and its beasts. She told tales as natural to us as breathing, as foreign to him as flying through the air. She told tales of water falling from the sky and of a sun, which rose red as it should, but coyly, capriciously changed to yellows as soon as she reared her shining head. Where the gravity was so light that walking seemed like skipping on springs and where laughter rang as loud as The Song and reigned as high and wafted as freely as logic and sobriety did here. All of these magical mysteries of geophysics, S'pock could reduce to equations and finally comprehend. But what he could not understand was how they endured without The Song.
For his mother was no cripple. Humans were born without telepathy, sad creatures as they were. But it seemed so incongruous that these wild, primal beings could live in their passions, extol the splendor of love and joy, without ever having known what it is for two to truly become one in a meld. Or for billions to live as one in The Song that embraced his people.
The MindSong encompassed the katra of every living Vulcan on this plane of existence, young or old, asleep or awake, on world or off. It was in constant flux, ebbing and swelling with each death and birth. Its pitch and hum were ever changing with the character of the thoughts and the essential nature of each of the katras that summed to make it whole. It could be ignored or amplified, and with training even focused and directed to bring two distant minds into resonant communication across great distances. It could be blended into a meld or blasted into cacophony by disaster. But while two or more Vulcans lived and breathed in the same universe, it could never, ever, ever be destroyed.
That S'pock had mastered the intricacies of The Song at an early age was a point of great significance to Sar'ek, for it had been a foremost concern. His ability with The Song would be a measure of S'pock's very Vulcanness. For was there anything more inherently Vulcan than to be one with The Song? T'Pau had melded with S'pock and swiftly pronounced him A't'hye--in harmony, his humanity caressing, not bludgeoning The Song--and therefore ready for the Kahs-wan preparation months before it would be time. And Sar'ek was content with his youngest son, in a way in which he had not been before.
Humans had no ear for The Song and little unaugmented voice. When all was still, The Song was serene and when they were very close, S'pock could barely discern the faint, foreign notes of his mother's mind, warbling in counterpoint within the matrix of The Song around her. But when he touched her skin, or better still, in private moments when he was allowed to touch her very mind, then he heard such a great, joyous symphony of vibrant thought and shameless emotion that he thought his katra would burst right then and shame them all. When he removed his hand from her temple, each and every time he was left awed and alone to ponder the mystery of how he could possibly have been born of blood that lived these passions every day.
And he wondered if his mother of no psionic ability were able to move him so, how much grander would it be to feel the strength of his father's essence combining with his own? This he would never know.
Only in those moments of meld with son or husband could Amanda hear The Song herself. The Song for which she had left home and hearth and welded her deaf soul unto Sar'ek's, until the end of her time should come.
Yet, S'pock noted with interest, despite this lack, she seemed almost always--happy.
But as with all things, seasons age and die and pass each one unto the next. And soon the other Intended Heirs would matriculate and be free to explore the universe beyond at will. While excitement was a bane, scientific curiosity was to be endorsed, and so the four readily made a pact each to tell the others what he had seen and done.
The first to go was S'ynet. He left to learn the practicalities of dywnnbratach farming on Andor. When he returned, he spoke at length of brilliant blues and deepest living greens, which colored every moment in the daylight. He spoke of cutthroat violence, barely restrained, and illogic revered almost to the point of worship. He spoke of cities of tunnels and habitats in the trees. But he brought no news of Earth.
Next to leave was S'myn. He left to conference with the dwellers in the clouds. Upon his return he coolly pronounced Stratos much like Vulcan, but chillier in climate and less disciplined in spirit; devoted to form more than function; more serene than cerebral, too self-isolated to put to any greater use the lofty constructs that might be developed there. S'myn saw no reason to return to space. And so he stayed, just as his fathers before him had.
Sybok left one day with no fanfare or plan. For his part in the pact he sent one telemissive back. "Question: Why didn't they tell us it could be like this? Answer: Perhaps they never knew." He never returned home.
At last the day came when S'pock received leave to journey from the world. The old matriarch called him to her presence, and conferred upon him a robe smattered with polished stones, all symbolic of the clan and his place therein.
"But this is too heavy to wear all day," said S'pock to T'Pau.
"Thou represents all of Vulcan now; this no longer concerns thy whims. The greatest privilege suffers the greatest responsibilities," replied the matriarch.
Oh, how he willingly would have shaken off this robe and ritual and arrived in the vestments of his mother's home. This onerous robe labeled him apart, foreign, segregated before he had even arrived. But T'Pau's command was law, and there was nothing more to be said.
There was no question of where he would go, only of what he would do. He had chosen a field class in comparative anatomy and physiology, to be held in the Starfleet Headquarters Medical complex. And so at the appointed hour, he bid good-bye to the lifeless statue of Everyman, the hard stone of the sculpture clacking against the harder stones on his robe, and traveled to meet the real thing, verbum caro factum.
The flight seemed interminable, yet he never slept. He could not take his eyes from the view screen, anticipating the first glimpse of his unknown Earth. When it finally appeared, softest azures and milky-whites swirled sharply against the starry field, the realized actuality almost startled him.
He stared transfixed, as they sailed in to land. The globe was lost in a haze of billowing white; then they broke through to a great, sweeping desert expanse of plains and mesas, not so very unlike the land that he had just left, he noted as they flew onward to the west. They soared over a ridge of mountains. On the other side the land was covered as far as the viewscreen could image in most directions with mortar and metal, glass and grids of the San Francisco metropolis. But dead ahead the ocean lapped the land, blue and flat and dotted with countless little boats, each isolated, an island unto itself. Thousands of flitters buzzed around in the sky in a dizzying dance of computer-choreographed routes.
An announcement came over the speaker, jolting him once again. The port pilot would assume control and guide them into dock. English not Vulcan. Why hadn't he expected that? For all his logic, it was still a surprise. And so the ship was drawn into the Starfleet civilian dock.
It had been a three-day voyage and he had slept none, but he couldn't peel his senses away from any experience of his alien home, which had not learned to know him yet. When the door opened, it was not the cold that assaulted him; he had expected and prepared his body for that. Instead, it was the smell. The wet, cloying odor of salt and fuel and a billion particles he could not identify, born of so many aliens in so closed a space. It was nothing like the smell of his mother as she held him against her in her lap, and he longed irrationally for something of home. The Song played in his mind, now a poignant reminder of how far his body was removed from what he had always known. He fingered the robe, felt the reassuring roughness of the familiar fabric under his touch and it seemed no longer quite so heavy on his shoulders.
No one paid him much heed; aliens were commonplace here. As days went on, he thought to expect one of his so learned professors to turn to him in recognition and seize his jaw. "Why look, class! This is no alien! He is as human as vulcan. See here, and here, and here in the cheekline. He is one of us. Spock, why didn't you tell us? Welcome home, son!" But no such thing ever happened and each day passed, much the same, unto the next.
Until one day an alarm was raised. A clever and troubled boy had escaped from the locked reintegration wing. How was one mystery, but the more urgent one was to where he might have run. The boy was disturbed, a traumatized survivor of Kodos, still stunned by the slaughter he had witnessed and the violence of the ego dissonance that forced cannibalism leads to in most moral men. Visual and sensor sweeps showed nothing, so all available personnel were summoned for the search on foot--by sight, by Braille if necessary. All volunteers were gratefully accepted.
It was S'pock who found the boy, almost on a hunch. One of the perimeter electromag towers had a field frequency slightly off from the rest. Only vulcan ears trained to perfect pitch could have heard the subtle difference. He aimed his tricorder. The readings were suspicious for something in the field queering the pitch, but the proximity to the electromag scrambled the data too badly to say what--or who--it might be. Any anomaly in an anomalous situation might be significant. Resetting his tricorder, Spock confounded the lock with no difficulty and opened the gate to see the boy lying there.
By human standards he was a boy--and a thin and wasted one at that. On Vulcan he would have been charged as a man, expected to have passed the kahs-wan years ago. But S'pock could barely credit that this fragile waif could have strolled a garden path unsupported, much less climbed, crawled and crept to evade the guards and travel this far. He was naked, of course. Hospital garb set off an alarm outside the walls, and there was a gash in his forearm where someone, presumably himself, had cut out the security implant. But the largest gash was from his head. It ran out over his head of golden curls and covered one side of his scalp and it pooled and clotted on the ground. S'pock swept the boy up in his arms.
His skin was fair and creamy, but cool, much too cool even for a human. He was light as a child's toy and as motionless as the statue in the garden, his beautiful eyes just as hauntedly unseeing. But unlike the ghosts of dissipated human souls that swirled around the statue in the garden on any quiet night, this human must not die. Time was short. Spock shifted him for the carry. The blood began to flow afresh, and S'pock clamped one hand to the wound.
As soon as he touched his hand down near the meld points, the boy's Song exploded into his head. The melody was alien, but the rhythm was one he thought he knew, although he could not say where he could have heard it before. It sang of strength and valor, pain, and loss, joy and love, and of an indomitable will never to surrender. A song in this world doomed to play forever to ears as deaf as stone. He shifted his hand and the Song grew louder still, wailing in his head, is if intent to pour fourth now all the moods and thoughts and emotions it had ever known, which had been bottled up, awaiting the one who could appreciate its singular beauty.
Only when his lungs began to burn with need for breath did S'pock realize he had frozen in the moment. Still rapt in the exotic siren song, he placed one foot in front of the other to carry the boy to safety.
A buxom woman, a Betazoid, with unbroken black eyes took him from his arms and inside to the doctors. Only when the contact was lost and The Song was but a memory punctuated by the thick smear of blood over his robe and hands did Spock realize the second oddity. He could hear the woman's Song too, although not in contact, although she had already left. It was serene and soft, a maternal caress and a kindly caution. Her voice cut into his head, as clearly as any vulcan Songmaster's. "Careful, little one. You know not what these humans can do to an ordered mind such as yours. Drink deep or taste not, and in drinking deep, one must always be prepared to drown." And then she was gone and only the Song of home remained.
As days turned into weeks, S'pock's body acclimatized to the Earth. His movements, once much too exaggerated in the lower gravity, flowed easily and normal once again. His lungs adjusted to the denser air, and he habituated to the smells and the tastes of trace elements in the air and water until he noticed them as little as any human. His accent diminished and he let his hair grow longer, over his ears, just the tips, that is. But it was clear to all, and most of all to himself, that this world was not to be his home. Why then did the Song of one lost Terran youth resonate within him night and day?
Presently and too soon, S'pock returned to ShiKahr to discover that Vulcan had grown much smaller in his absence. The deep, polished reds of the desert had paled anemic under the constant sun. The towering pillars no longer inspired, but fenced. The wild beasts of land and air and childhood no longer seemed as exotic or intriguing as the potted Terran chrysanthemum with all its rings and layers and silken petals. Even his mother's stories of the Earth that she had left held no more interest for him. That was her Earth. His Earth was but another foreign land. And worst of all, the chiseled statute had changed as well. It stood erect still, in the same spot of the same rocky garden, deaf and blind as always. Its skin was still smooth and creamy, its lines still strong and fair. In the sunlight it glowed in the same pinks and golds. But now instead of whispering of things yet to come, it spoke only of the melancholy of thing that might have been.
But gardens and statues are not to be the sphere of Intended Heirs. The Vulcan Science Academy awaited his enrollment, and S'pock followed dutifully after S'myn and S'ynet. "You are the only one of my bloodline now," his father said as he left. "You must devote yourself, not for yourself, but for me, for the one who was, but is no more your brother, as well as for the rest of the clan."
"But who will devote themselves for me?" Spock asked.
His father gave no answer, but turned away in silence with the traditional parting gesture.
So S'pock went into the Academy for the good of the many. The others would ask him of what he had seen and done in his time on Earth. He told them--when pressed--of Starfleet, the clinics, the city, the landscape, the water, but he told them nothing about the youth whose MindSong haunted his nights and pacified his days. He had always been silent and thoughtful, but now he was even more so. Rather than the companionship of his peers he turned to the knowledge of machines.
Through the silent, electrical brain of the great VSA computer banks, linked to those across the Federation, he was able to find and follow his young man--James Kirk, as it turned out--as he grew and developed far across the lightyears. He watched as James finished school and enlisted in the Starfleet that had rescued him from Tarsus so many years before.
With his expert knowledge, S'pock could enter any databank. He started with the medical files and carried on from there. He gathered data and demographics. He viewed pictures, vids and holos. On one such clip he heard James speak for the first time, on others he heard the voice change from the wavering tones of adolescence to the confident tenor of manhood. But none of this technology could return for him the beautiful MindSong he had heard in the fleeting touch of years long past.
Those who saw him at work, long after study hours had ended, took him for a student of unusual diligence. "Look," they said, "how he commits himself to the pursuit of the applications of logic. Truly he should be the one Appointed from among the Intended, for already he dedicates himself to our good." And he could say nothing to correct them, for the emotion driving his obsession shamed him, but that was not the worst. The worst was when it occurred to him that he was most alone in this. For James Kirk could know nothing of him, could know nothing of what they had shared. James could not remember him, could not dream of him, could not ache for him as he ached for James. And the pain that stemmed from that realization was one he could never, despite all his training, quite suppress. What kind of vulcan was he then?
Such a question was not for him, but for the one from whom he could hide nothing. As the Appointment Selection process progressed, T'Pau summoned S'pock once again. The air was cold and dry, a bitter wind squalled through the rocks that night, making a sound that our human ears could not hear, when he came and knelt at her feet. As she touched his mind this time, she saw and heard it all. He knew she must, but there was no way out for him. Her silent voice was as clear in his head as ever he had heard any in his ears.
"Thou art drawn to this human's Song."
She asked no question; S'pock gave no answer.
"There is no logic in following his movement, unless you intend to go back to him."
There could be no argument with that.
T'Pau continued, "Thou art best qualified of all the Intendeds, S'pock. Thy own kin require thy presence here. And there is no logic behind leaving thy duty to hear the Song of one man. The good of the many outweighs thy own desires. Thou hast claimed the rights and privileges of an Intended One of Vulcan. With that comes obligation as well. Unless thou intend to relinquish thy position, pouring thy time into this vision is a waste like unto pouring precious water onto sand. Nothing can grow from it. Nothing ever will."
"Can I do this?" Spock thought to her. "Can I abdicate my position and go?"
She dropped his head. When she spoke next to him in vocal words, it sounded artificial, far less real than it had as pure energy within his mind. The frailty and venerability of her body were as deceptive as the sly smile of the fox, for of all the minds of all the telepaths in the land, hers was among the most potent. "I have the power to allow or disallow as I see fit.
"But know this. Once surrendered, I will not restore thy place. Should thou do this, thou will no longer be thy father's son. Thou will be from Vulcan, but not of Vulcan. Thy intended would be within her rights to refuse you, to challenge and to allow thee to expire in pon farr, or at a stranger's hands. This world will surrender thee as well."
There are some moments when we can feel out lives change, almost see the cogs and gears and they grunt and grind to a halt, pause, and creak to turn in the other direction. Perhaps it is not that way for all vulcans, but for S'pock of mixed blood, he could see those gears reverse in front of his eyes as clearly as he heard her mind voice. As clearly as he had heard James Kirk's MindSong. "What must I do to go to him?"
Because she was not of mixed blood, she did not react at all, but spoke dispassionately of his choice. "Thou must surrender the harmonic of your resonance with his Song. Thou knowst too much of our people, our secrets, to Sing with him."
"But if you take away our Song, what is left? The Song is what cleaves us one to the other."
T'Pau answered, "Thou wishes to live as a human, then thou must love as a human. Thou wilst have whatever qualities of him that were so unique as to produce this special Song, which you cannot rend from thy soul. They are still there. They still create the same unique Song, only your mind will be deaf to it. And as for how thou shalt win him, I cannot answer, for how humans choose their mates is shrouded in mystery, even to me." She gave no indication of finding any humor in this remark.
"And the rest of thy telepathy will remain unaffected. Thou will hear the Song of your homeworld, but not the silent Song of him. And thou mayst meld with him, but he will find thee cold and clinical. He will hear no Song of what lies beneath.
"So think again, S'pock of Vulcan. Art thou prepared to discard all thee hast on a vision that walks your mind? A vision who grows, and learns and dreams and knows not you?"
It stung, but the sting gave him strength he needed. "I am."
"And so it is done. But know this, S'pock. Should thou fail--should thou not win the love of this man so that he is willing to forsake all others and to love thee and only thee with his whole soul, so that he takes thee for his solace, his succor, his mate, then thou must die. If there should come a time when he declares that he loves another above thee, and takes that other before thee, then thou shalt be dead by morning."
"Yes, I will," S'pock agreed quietly.
T'Pau thumped her staff twice on the ground. She touched his mind and he felt nothing. How odd that he should feel nothing from such a grievous loss.
She plucked the deepest, darkest Seeing Stone from her raiment and passed it to his hand. "Then go, Spock, formerly of Vulcan but no more. This stone be all you take from Vulcan, and all that shall ever be yours of it again should you fail. Go and do not return unless it be with him as thy mate."
He sewed the stone upon his clothing, and so, go he did.
He came up upon the James Kirk riding his starship in the sky, and James gleefully clutched him to his side and took him in as his. For James was drawn to this dark man fallen from the heavens who had left his world and all he knew to be a part of his. Through time and trial James came to trust him as he did his own self, to depend upon him as he did water, air or food. Two souls as one, they rode into giant nebulae, wove though the tightest asteroid belts, skirted the hottest coronas and never were they apart. Together they were what is greatest and truest and most constant of all. And while one had the other, never did they fear.
His heart filled with great affection for this dark man, who revealed so little of himself, James Kirk arranged that he should stay with him always. He had quarters prepared, which connected, through a hatchway, with his. Oftentimes when all was still and none had need for their might, James would put his arm close around his Spock and hug him tightly to his breast. At such times, when his heart was fullest and aching from love, he might look into those timeless, deep dark eyes and ask, who was this man, this manna who had fallen from heaven, just for him, to land so happily at his feet?
But Spock had no reply, for it was not of the Vulcan race to speak these thing into the cold, unfeeling air. These things were for The Song of the Mind, The Song of two minds knit as one. And his Song sung out loud and long. It vibrated though the passageways and cargo bays and echoed from deck to deck. It was so loud that it shamed him for the logical being he had once professed to be. It was so loud that the more sensitive humans could sense it too. Not hear exactly, but perceive it nonetheless. Something more primal, some atavistic sense of belong given unto the compassionate to know those most dear to their hearts. Chekov grinned, Uhura wondered, and McCoy just shook his head.
But after the adaptation of T'Pau, Spock's Song, however long and long it cried, would be forever kept from James Kirk himself. Kaidith. And so the brilliant smile fell on a face that could not answer and the Song fell on the lonesome ears of one who could not hear and the pining heart of one who could not know to answer back.
One day it became clear that Spock must marry. Forcing the words from his lips that were never meant to be heard outside the mind was an anathema, one he thought he never could have managed, but the self-preservation drive of the pon farr was stronger than even he had known. Thus he shamed his former home and people throwing himself at the mercy of his t'hy'la.
As always the needs of one were the same as the needs of the other, and so together they returned to his ancestral lands. The sands burned hot, but his blood burned hotter and T'Pau took no pity on his plight. She would not credit the scene before her eyes as testament to the pact having been fulfilled.
"He gave his life for mine; what greater love is there than that? Is that not proof enough?" Not that it mattered to him. James Kirk was dead. His life was over as well, but he wanted some testament, some memorial to endure of the time they had had. Some proof that it was not all for naught.
"He said nothing of claiming thee above all others. He did not challenge to have you for his own. Thy life is forfeit, as a consequence. I grieve with thee."
Yes, it is forfeit, Spock agreed with no feeling. And so he went back to the ship, to lie in their suite, among the things of James, wrapped in the smell of James, amid all he had left of James, to die.
But fate or luck or simple country medicine had smiled on them and there was to be no death, but joyous reunion instead.
"Jim!" The name rang out to fill every corridor, to fill every ear, and the clamor of the Song was so great and so loud that it spilled forth from his lips, his face, in shameless exaltation. It was a burst of all he wished to say, of all that was locked in the language of his heart and mind, the fathers of Vulcan never dreaming it would be necessary for it to cross the lips. So it did silently, in the mute form of a smile.
For Jim it was the end of a rainbow, that smile contained all he had ever wanted to know. It gave his empty heart solace as sweet as the nectar of the rarest hyacinth in spring. But in less than a heartbeat, it was gone as if it had never been, living on only inside his memory until he had to ask himself whether it had been real, or only the wistful mirage before the eyes of a man crawling desperately through a long, lonely desert of dust.
"You are dear to me," said James Kirk, folding Spock closely to his breast. "For you have the best spirit and are the most devoted to me and I to you, even unto death. You bring to my mind the memory of a younger time when I was hurt and adrift and a maiden I shall never see again touched my mind and healed my hurts. I know not how she did such a marvelous thing, but in all my travels in all the galaxy, none but you has touched me as she did that day."
Ah, he knows not that it was I who brought him home when he was adrift, thought Spock. And he knows not that I touched his mind that day, perhaps far more deeply than he can ever know, for it has touched me far more deeply than anything I had known existed. But how could he claim to be a part of such a miracle, when The Song was gone between them forever?
Too soon their journey through the galaxy together was ended and the twain were again to be cleft. "Come with me," James implored. "Stay by my side, where fate and fortune and all civilized reason would place you best. They have promised me a great surprise, something I will love even more than I love my ship and crew, upon my return, but it will not be anything if you be not there to share it."
"I will you go with you, for there is nowhere I would rather be. " Spock said with his tongue. But do you not love me best of all, was the question, which played in the lonesome lyrics of his MindSong. But the Song fell, gossamer soft as always, adrift upon the bitter wind.
The next morning they sailed upon the solar tide to dock in the safe haven of the Starfleet piers. There was great rejoicing all around at the wondrous event of their return. Great men and fair ladies bowed and sang the praises of the Hunters, home, safe at last, from the hills.
And they took James Kirk aside, with Spock shadowing always by his shoulder, and brought him to a place where deepest secrets brewed. "Look here, James!" They flung aside the curtain, and with proudest strut and show, announced the model of the refitted Enterprise. Against the black velvet sky of the drapery, it sparkled new and bright but delicate as a dream.
"And this is Vice-Admiral Ciani; she will be overseeing the project." A woman of ebony hair, so dark she almost faded into the curtain, stepped forth and extended her hand and mind.
"It's you!" exclaimed James Kirk. "It's you who succored me and soothed me with your mind all those year ago. In all my time and travel, in all that I have seen and done, I have encountered nothing more beautiful that the feel of your mind against mine as you lifted me from where I fell."
"Oh, I am so happy," he said to Spock, "for my hopes are fulfilled. You will rejoice with me at my happiness, for your devotion to me is great and sincere."
"Of course, my t'hy'la. I wish you all the happiness your human heart can hold. And if you have now found it, my hopes for you are fulfilled," said Spock with open honesty, although it cracked his heart in two. But the vulcan heart is strong and trained, nigh impermeable to emotion, and the traitorous Vulcan genes failed to take Spock then into the gentle mercy of death, but lived to mock him as his broken heart continued to beat, to watch James Kirk happy in the arms of another.
On the eve of their wedding day, Spock made his preparations to leave James Kirk and to leave this plane of existence as we know it, you and I. The latter gave him little pause; to die was but to be no more. But the former, the former rent his soul in two. If there be something, anything, in that great beyond, to enter it alone gave him no pause. He had been alone before and he knew that condition well.
But to abandon James Kirk to meet whatever may come without his t'hy'la by his side, that pain he could not stomach. For he had sworn an oath to defend James Kirk with all his might and main, and he railed against the cold hand of death that would keep him from his solemn pledge.
Spock went out under the brilliant stars of night and stared toward the heavens, toward that planet that fixed his fate so firmly. It brought unto his mind his first voyage across the void and his first tentative step out among the halls of Starfleet, which would become his home. He could not regret his choice, but neither could he do aught but rue the loss. He had abandoned home and land and family. Never again would he see the silver birds soar across the ruddy face of T'Khut or filter the musty soil of his little garden through his hands. Never again would he hear his mother's voice as she held him to her breast, or smell the rich scent of Pbryllia in bloom on a warm summer night. These things he regretted, but they were not what brought that sensation that humans know as pain.
The pain he felt cut sharp into his soul, but it stemmed not from that which he had surrendered long ago. Oh no, this pain came sharp and fresh and new with every breath. Every breath he drew was one nearer to the last he would breathe in the same air as James Kirk. Each twinkling star jeered at him and taunted that this was the last night he and James Kirk would share under the same sky. It was the last time the moon that lit James Kirk's face would shine upon his own as well. This was the living, breathing agony of that which is not yet dead and, but dying a slow and gruesome death, struggling painfully every moment, screaming for mercy, a second chance at life. He rent his clothes, the vulcan robe retained from long ago, and cried out with all the power of The Song not to be separated from his t'hy'la over such a cruel and senseless trick of fate.
It was not T'Pau who answered, but Sar'ek, his father, summoned by The Song. "My son, my son, throw you not your life away. For I have gone unto T'Pau and made with her a dreadful deal. I have relinquished all our clan's birthright to the Council Chair and made myself a peon at her feet. For this she has rescinded your fate on one condition only. You must leave James Kirk at once, tell him you never loved him, that it was all but a ploy. Do this and you may return to Vulcan and the embrace of your now so humbled mother and me."
"Father, I cannot. For to do so would be like unto driving a dagger into his tender heart. And how can I rip the heart of one I hold so dear, solely to save my own?"
"Not only your own," Sarek said. "Look deep into the Seeing Stones, which T'Pau sewed upon your person when she made this wretched trade, and tell me what you see. See if it is not like unto what I have foreseen in mine."
Spock picked up the tatters of his ruined garment and looked deep into the center stone of dullest garnet red. There he saw his t'hy'la, within the ship he loved and cherished, blown by a million trillion dynes of force into the solar wind.
"This is to be his fate, if you are not to survive to save him from it."
"How can I know this?" said Spock, his Songvoice barely above a whisper.
"You must have faith in the mysteries of our people, as he has faith in you. If you leave him now, you will live to see him grow and prosper, and perhaps to save him from his fate.
"But if you cast yourself upon the stars and leave him to the force of T'Pau's What-Was-Meant-To-Be, he will surely die."
"But if I rend from him the faith in one who has been half his soul, what will happen to him then?" But Sar'ek had no answer. For this was purely a human mystery and for this the Vulcan stones were dark.
Spock crept silently back into the domicile where James and Lori slept breast to breast. They looked so calm and peaceful, her song was so nurturing and full that it pained him almost unto death to hear it Sing for James. Soft as the Western Wind, he kissed the fair and slumbering brow, then sat a thoughtful vigil by his side, contemplating all that was and is and never now would be, until the first rays of the morning sun threatened to burst upon the horizon.
Then he shook one warm and muscled shoulder firmly with his hand. "Admiral."
Jim awoke with a start. The woman at his breast dozed on. "What is it, Spock?"
"I must take my leave of you now."
The stab of pain through James Kirk's breast woke his new bride with a cry.
"Spock, why are you leaving me, just as we are about to embark upon this new frontier? Now when I need you most?" His gentle face was matted with confusion and dismay, darkened with fear of the one thing he had never before had cause to dread.
"Admiral, our voyage together is over. Instructive though it was, I must now return to Vulcan. I do not expect you to understand, for you are but a human."
"Spock!" James Kirk cried after him, his heart running blood and tears.
But Spock was through the door and gone as the red morning sun breached over the great Pacific Ocean.
Without his lifelong t'hy'la, Jim drifted at sea, unable to find an anchor within himself at all. All around was grief and loneliness and pain. And his Song soon changed to grief and loneliness and pain, driving his patient bride away and leaving those who knew best about such things to question his very fitness to lead others.
And so alone he twisted on his empty sheets, wasted, impotent and in despair, wondering when his, long useless years would come to an end.
And similarly stood S'pock, back on the barren plains of his father's planet, but with many more long years before him to bear than any flitting human soul could conceive.
Days with the parents that were no longer family, the parents who had given everything of value for this life that he no longer wanted, were unbearable. And the nights--the nights were even worse. He had not even the solace of surrendering to the physical expressions that grief or pain may employ, for on Vulcan such things are not the way. Only the memory of the fate that awaited James Kirk, should he fail him in the last, kept S'pock living and breathing at all.
But in the end, the pain was too great for one of even quasi-human genes, and to Gol he went, where there was no feeling, no grief, no pain--only cold impartial logic.
The memories of the pain without kept him hard at work at his pursuits. Again he was the model acolyte--a shame he was no longer of Intended blood, else he would have made a very fine Elder indeed.
After three long years, the pain no longer burned him day and night. In comparison, he took that for success. And so he readied himself to kneel before the Old and Wise, and submit himself to the plane of total logic.
On the hard clay of the ancient land of Gol, Spock reached out to say his last good-byes. He stretched his mind out towards those who had suffered and laughed and fought and triumphed with him in those halcyon days aboard ship. He relived the subtle Song of each human friend who had touched his skin, his mind his heart, Chekov, Scott, McCoy, Uhura, all the souls he had known so well, but for last he saved James Kirk. Logically for last, he told him himself, as by all dictates of reason, it should be futile, so why expend the time? But you and I might believe it was because he had heard the human prophecy that on one great day, the last shall be first, and little would it hurt to try. Or perhaps it was only because he knew his katra wouldn't bear the pain, and so he completed all other tasks before it would snap asunder and whither unto the clay at the sudden strain.
But what a sharp surprise he got when he groped blindly for the essence of James Kirk. Something proud and powerful, as a monsoon in the desert swept over his mind and infused his entire katra it was James, but more. James was flailing, a novice on his own ship grown apart from his own crew. He was sailing once again into the maw of disaster, but this time so alone.
And as he tuned his mind to that wave after wave crashed down upon his brain. Wave after wave of cold, inhuman logic, some how connected with James Kirk, some how connected, albeit harsh and unfeelingly, with everything that lived and breathed and moved and stood and formed and withered and dissolved in this galaxy. It was more powerful than the joint force of all the minds of the masters, and it was headed straight for Jim.
In a flash of clarity, such as nothing had been clear to him in a very long time, he knew that he must touch this entity. And he must, whatever the cost, keep it from touching James Kirk. The memory of James Kirk, soft, open vulnerable hung before his mind. He fingered the Seeing Stone on his robe. It grew warm under his touch and he bowed his head. He did not need to look within the image to know that the time it prophesied was now.
T'Lar, the mistress of Gol read the war within his mind upon the lines of his face. She took his thoughts, but saw nothing of the bonds of the t'hal'zed, only the vehicle of ultimate knowledge with James Kirk incidentally in its path. Of course she would, her mind was geared to receive nothing but logic. She dropped her hand.
"Your place lies elsewhere."
Yes, with him. T'Lar heard the unvoiced thought.
"S'pock, remember your bargain. He chose another before you. If you return to him, you will die, perhaps not in the morn, but soon--and all alone."
"Then I will die. But it will be having lived my life with him, and I will have saved him from the blackness that awaits him otherwise, and that is a thousand times more preferable to the slow dissolution upon these sands that never were and are not now of me."
And so Spock returned unto that glistening ship. That beacon that might never be extinguished through even the wildest storms, the coldest winter, or in the darkest night.
"Spock, my friend, I have missed you so," cried James Kirk as he clutched his t'hy'la to his breast. And in that instant James felt the sweet return of something he had recognized only in its absence. For in the intimacy of that embrace he felt the gossamer whisper of a memory through his mind. A memory as old and deep and strong and real as any he could relate out loud, but this was a vestigial memory of the heart and soul. A memory of a Song that had reached him when he was all but lost, even too himself.
James Kirk stood back and stared eyes wide with wonder at Spock, who had returned to him. "It's you! All this time, it was you who haunted the shadows of my mind, not her. Never her. It was you, all along, you who loved and strengthened me, but I was too blind to see."
"Yes, it was I. Once my mind could sing to yours, but that Song is lost forever."
Jim touched his face in rapt amazement. "But I hear, I feel, I see it now. How could I ever not have known?"
And Spock touched him back and felt the same stirring within his soul. The stirring of an intimacy born not of his old world, but of his new one. For this feeling he had neither name nor explanation, but he wished nothing more than to live out this mystery with this man for the rest of whatever days they would have.
And he and James Kirk loved each other freely in every way, as hard and fast and true and long and pure as is seldom seen in our world today. They were to each other all that two beings can be, and more, without the Song of Vulcan, but with a Mindbond all their own, framed from their own certain harmony and forged in the fantastic fury of the V'ger effect. And there was beauty, peace and infinite satisfaction. There was joy and hope and dreams unfurled. And there were all these things in abundance, and neither knew loneliness in those transcendental days for which it lasted.
We have no time here to tell the tales of those days, for the adventures that they had in the time that they had would fill volume upon volume until they filled this room. There were tales of monsters with no faces, but hearts brighter than platinum or gold. There were tales of other worlds and other times and other dimensions that as of yet have not been named. There were men and cities and civilizations saved and others that could not be saved, but will live on remembered in those books that could fill this room.
There was blood spilt and wiped clean away, there was strife and trial, problems solved and blinding new discoveries made. There were fears and loss and regrets and joys. There were wild days and peaceful nights, and some of the opposite as well. They lived and loved as one heart, one mind, one will, and merged their bodies as freely as they merged their deeds. The good was doubled and the bad was halved, for that has always been the way of burdens truly shared.
But nothing is forever, and destiny shall not be allayed. Upon that fated day that when Spock stepped into the reactor chamber, what must be became what was. And on that day the heart of James Kirk split in two, for one without his bondmate is not one.
And on that day the m'rbyl statue split along the blackened crack and fell, in two pieces, back unto the clay. The wise men of Vulcan came to stare, but none could offer any explanation from within the realm of science, and so they returned home unsatisfied.
Some things were forever beyond their ken.