Chapter One: Four Years after the Flight
Calder II was a small Class-M planet, tucked neatly away in one corner of the Sirius system, more than 40 light years from Earth, and more than 25 from New Vulcan. It was settled, although sparsely, by a-mainly humanoid population, although there was also a small settlement of Caitians and a temple, of all things, of an obscure Andorian sect, with an alabaster statue of what looked like a giant horse, faithfully tended by a community of silent priests.
There were no Vulcans on Calder II—at least, no recognized citizens of Vulcan.
Calder II was too small, too far away from main shipping lanes, and frankly, too dull to be of interest to anyone. The planet possessed few minerals or precious metals, and there was no dilithium mines or other treasures. The climate was largely temperate, but hardly tropical. The inhabitants were able to raise enough food for themselves, but there was little left over to export, and what manufacturing took place on the planet was solely of very ordinary goods, nothing unique or fine enough to be attractive to tourists or traders. The planet was also too far from either Klingon on Romulan space to be an attractive prospect for colonization—or occupation, which was often one and the same. For all of these reasons, Calder II was almost certainly one of the quietest inhabited planets in the galaxy.
That made it perfect for one human male and a small child of undetermined antecedents.
Jim opened his eyes as the sunlight made its way over the windowsill and onto his face. He rolled over in the narrow bed and stretched, feeling the muscles that he’d worked to exhaustion the previous day. I’d better soak in the hot tub for awhile tonight, he thought. Planting season was always exhausting, but Jim loved the work nonetheless—loved seeing crops grow because of his efforts, loved the sight of the waving purplish fronds of triticale as they stretched towards the sun, knowing that the result of his labors would be sufficient funds to care for himself and the life that depended on him for another year, here on this backwater, here where they were safe. A wry smile crossed Jim’s lips. Just five years before, he’d been captain of the USS Enterprise, the flagship of mighty Starfleet, a decorated hero, on track to someday be an admiral.
Then everything had changed, and Jim had made a fateful decision—one that he’d never regretted, despite the loneliness, the hard work, and the loss of everything and everyone he’d once known. Four years ago this very day, he’d wrapped a small bundle in a blanket and fled to Calder II—there to start over again.
Just then, the bedroom door creaked open. A sleek Siamese seal point sauntered in and hopped up on the bed, landing on Jim’s chest and bumping foreheads with him. Blue eyes stared intently at the giant mouse that was not getting up and serving as was his duty. Jim untangled his hand from the blanket and gently scratched one ear.
“Good morning, T’Pring. I know; it’s breakfast time.”
“Ko-mekh.” The small voice came from the side of the bed. Jim turned his head and smiled at the tiny sprite that stood there, already dressed for the day in a blue tunic that matched her eyes as well as the cat’s.
“I will feed the feline, ko-mekh. Please go back to sleep.”
“That’s okay, sweetheart.” Jim moved over and patted the bed. “Come on up. Let’s cuddle for a minute, and then we’ll all eat breakfast.”
The sprite considered for a moment, and then a smile broke over her face. “Okay.” She climbed into bed as Jim put an arm around her, drawing her close.
“Good morning, Mimi darling.”
“Good morning, ko-mekh.” One pointed ear pressed to her father’s shoulder, T’Mimya Winona Kirk, commonly known as Mimi, one week past her fourth birthday, cuddled close.
“Can we have pancakes?”
“You and I can,” Jim assured her. “We’ll find something else for T’Pring.”
“That is logical.” The rosebud mouth stretched in a yawn. “T’Pring does not…like pancakes.” The fan of dark lashes fell over those sea-blue eyes, and Mimi fell asleep. Jim held his daughter close and lay watching the sun rise, a Siamese sprawled across him, and a part-Vulcan little girl, his miracle, curled up in his embrace.
Jim smiled, laid his head against the dark glossy curls, and closed his eyes. Breakfast and the crops would wait, at least for an hour or so. Jim wanted to savor what he’d gained at such a terrible cost.