Author: Joanna Bordelon
Beta Reader: ShivaSaavik
Character Code: S/Saa, Rua/T'Sel, McCoy, f
Summary: Who is Saavik really? What is Ruanek's relation to her? What happens when Spock and Saavik have a child?
Disclaimer: Star Trek is copyrighted by Paramount/Viacom. I do not own any of their characters. I have used characters and background material from "Double Helix: Red Sector" by Diane Carey, "Vulcan's Heart" by Josepha Sherman and Susan Schwartz, and "The Pandora Principle" by Carolyn Clowes. Vulcan Language is from the Vulcan Language Institute's website. My thanks to the members of the Genesis Planet Yahoo Group for the idea about Ruanek in the Epilogue.
Archive: Fine, but let me know where.
"...for a reason he could never explain to anyone, least of all to himself: the deep disturbing conviction that this small destiny must not be left to chance." - p.64 The Pandora Principle
Vulcan, Outskirts of City of ShiKahr, Ambassador Sarek's Villa, 2329
It was late in the evening on Vulcan. The rest of the household had retired or gone home and Sarek's large villa felt empty. But then, it felt empty all the time now. How I miss you my wife. Do you know the information I seek this night? Do you find fault with me? In the study only the desk light was on and the comm terminal glowed in the darkness. Why had he felt he needed to wait until this hour to do this? He knew at once the answer. He remembered their discussion clearly.
"My husband will you do what I ask? Why do you hesitate?" she asked. "Surely you see the logic of it as well as I."
"It is frequently my downfall, Amanda", Sarek humored her,"that your logic escapes me."
"Perhaps this choice is best left to a mother's logic and your son's intuition. I have seen the way she looks at him, and I know he has not. You yourself believe he would not have left that terrible planet without her."
"No Vulcan would have wished any of those children abandoned in that outpost. I have struggled with the circumstances of her childhood myself. And as for Spock's intuition, I respect his innate ability to determine the character of others, especially his choice of friends. But Amanda, I must be sure. I must not fail him as before. As his father, I have made many mistakes. I have had no one to guide me in the way of raising a half human son. Too often I relied on my own father's example, only to find that it did not apply to our very unique child", Sarek admitted.
Amanda responded vehemently, "I am Spock's mother. I have dwelt upon this issue since he was seven and now even as I know I am dying, I am sure of this decision." Ever since Amanda had become a student of T'Pau, she had known of T'Pau's plans for her son. Because T'Pau acceptance of her, she could refuse T'Pau nothing. But the details had been unclear to her. Vulcan philosophy had a term kaiidth't'dem, which Amanda had struggled with for years, since her early work on the universal translator database. The term kaiidth, or What is, is, was a philosophy many Vulcans struggle with their whole lives. Amanda had struggled with the much more complicated term kaiidth't'dem since she had felt it in T'Pau's mind years ago. It had seemed important to T'Pau to relate this to her. "My child, Amanda-kam, you must know, you must accept. Spock's future and that of others depends upon the correct decisions being made. Do you understand, Amanda-kam. Kaiidth't'dem."
"Kaiidth't'dem," thought Sarek in his study, the light from T' Kuht shining through the window in the Vulcan night. How often did we discuss the term, Amanda? Do any Vulcans ever really comprehend a term with so many subtle meanings; Less than prophecy, more that fate; What should happen, but may not; May not if the correct decisions are not made by themselves or by others; Something hoped for, but not predestined. Can Vulcans hope? This decision is agonizing! And why is it so important that I know this about Saavik? I care for the child and would gladly accept her into our family, but so much is at stake, and you, my Son, are ignorant of the plans made for you so long ago.
Sarek's eye caught an incoming text message on the comm terminal; an incoming encoded message. "So, it has come.", thought Sarek. The message took two minutes to cipher, despite its brevity. Even decoded, it would appear to be nothing more than the answer to a question on cultural mores. It was a question any diplomat might have posed, however discretely, and yet its import was tantamount.
"Are children of dishonor marked?", Sarek had asked. Now he had his answer. There was no signature, nor was one expected. The message had been routed through hundreds of different servers and systems, and was written in a particularly impenetrable cipher of Sarek's own design. Sarek then accessed T'Pau's schedule for the next day and made an appointment.
As was her habit, Commander Saavik arose well before her duty shift on the bridge of the Armstrong. She had become enamored of a new brew of coffee, which complemented the taste of her favorite Kreyla. She retrieved a box of these biscuits from her desk drawer. Kreyla from the synthesizer were not the same. These had been sent by Sarek and had found the Armstrong at their last resupply stop. The box was the worse for wear; it had after all traveled across several light-years to her. She appreciated Sarek's thoughtfulness. She focused her attention on her comm terminal. A curious text message had arrived last night.
"So the day begins earlier that usual.", thought Saavik, who noted that the sender was formally listed as Head of House Surak. She was suddenly nervous. She had never received anything official from Sarek's house before. Indeed, though Spock's parents had taken a particular interest in her and in her career, she was never officially granted a status as a child of Sarek. But there it was in elegant Vulcan calligraphy..."Saavik-kam, there will be a family meeting on day three of the first week of tasmeen. You will attend." It was signed in Sarek's own hand as Head of House. The import of the address was not lost on her. Saavik-kam. Saavik, my child.
Spock was at the Vulcan Embassy in San Francisco when his notification arrived. Sarek wished to call a family meeting and Spock's presence was necessary, no, demanded. Spock had arranged the timing of the meeting with his father, but Sarek refused to discuss its nature over the comm.
On day three of the first week of tasmeen, Spock arrived home with only minutes to spare; his shuttle having been delayed several times by what Jim Kirk, his former Captain and his best friend, would have referred to as Murphy's Law. He went straight to his room at the villa, and used the sonic shower and changed into robes bearing the house insignia. It was nothing as elaborate as what he would wear to an ambassadorial function. His father would not be impressed by him, but it was formal enough to show respect. Spock reminded himself again that it was illogical to concern himself with the nature of the council, but admitted to himself that his curiosity was peaked.
He entered his father's study, the appointed meeting place, to see his father, T'Pau and Saavik in attendance. Saavik had chosen not to wear her duty uniform, opting instead for a simple but elegant tunic and pants in the Vulcan style. "What has changed since we last corresponded, Saavik-kam?", he asked himself.
"Spock, my son." Sarek rose and with his wrists crossed took Spock's hands in his own. The warmth of the greeting was welcomed, but confused him.
"Father, I had thought there was a problem; some pressing concern."
"Sit please, Spock"
Saavik watched him closely. When their eyes met Spock knew she was as puzzled as he.
T'Pau began, "Spock, thee has been alone long enough. Thee has a duty to fulfill."
"I am here T'Pau. I do not take my duties to my house or Vulcan lightly."
"Thee knows the duties of which I speak. As it was from the beginning. It has been decided", said T'Pau. Sarek noticed this son's very slight reaction of course. He was always quicker to notice his son's stubbornness than his own, but he had been an ambassador even longer than he had been Spock's father.
"My son, I will not force you into this decision, but you will please listen." Sarek glanced sideways at T'Pau. She knew that he thought she had already handled the matter badly. "Your mother made a request of me some while ago and I have only recently been comfortable enough to broach the topic with you. Amanda had very definite ideas about this part of your life, and I am now convinced she was correct."
"You will leave us please Father." Spock spoke abruptly and in a tone which caused his elders to acquiese. Sarek and T'Pau exited the study through the door behind Sarek's desk.
"Why have they asked me here?", demanded Saavik of Spock. "I cannot bear the result of this decision if it does not include me", she thought silently.
"Saavik, I have been your teacher, and your father figure, but I am no longer either of those things. I regret that they have brought you here without informing you their plans for me. Can you ever forgive me for my distance from you since you saved my life on Genesis? It is inexcusable. It is important ... no... I need you to know that my mind has never been distant from you. Not since then. I have had such a difficult time acknowledging that my feelings have changed, so much so, that I have selfishly ignored your own."
Spock paused, waiting for some confirmation of his wish.
"It has been painful, thinking that what I did on Genesis changed everything forever between the two of us, but I think it was kaiidth't'dem. It was our destiny. I wanted that change."
"Then I ask you, Saavik, now and forever, will you be my wife?"
She felt faint and warm and that somehow this could not be happening to her. She had not dared hope he felt the same as she. She wanted to pause and remember this moment in Sarek's study, the light of T'Kuht, Vulcan's sister, shining through the tall glass windows forever. She heard herself speaking the traditional words as if from a dream.
"Ek'wak eh kwon-sum."
"Ek'wak eh kwon-sum, estuhl eh vesht estuhl," he responded as he reached to take her in his arms.
Vulcan, ShiKahr, Ambassador Sarek's Townhouse, 2358
"How ironic", thought Saavik as she labored silently on the couch in the den. The family physician T'Selis had advised both of them concerning the upcoming labor. "Find your natural position, this is most often the position in which you sleep. Allow the pains to wash over you. Accept them as an animal does. Like a cat." "Like a cat," laughed Saavik to herself. Could T'Selis have known Saavik's name in Romulan was meant little cat. Probably.
"Anything, my wife?", offered Spock from the corner where he played his harp-like ka' athyra.
"Don't talk, just play", breathed Saavik as another contraction washed over her.
Spock waited for the contraction to pass. "One minute 46 seconds, Saavik-kam. I want to get T'Selis and you should move to the bedroom unless this one will enter our lives on my mother's couch."
"Yes, yes, I will go. Walking will help anyway." Spock helped her to their bedroom and went to find T'Selis. They returned together to find Saavik in the bed, which had been covered and sterilized. "I want to push."
It had seemed like forever. The pushing was more difficult than she had anticipated. She was dazed and tired when Spock put the baby in her arms. A beautiful child. Their child. The baby rooted and was quickly satisfied. "Well done, T'Sai Saavik. Especially for your first. I must ask to examine her, though," said T'Selis as she took the baby from Saavik's arms.
T'Selis had been very opposed to a home delivery in this case, but Saavik had been very difficult. T'Selis could find no indicator or logical reason to force the issue of a birth at the medical center. At 102 years of age, Saavik was approaching middle age for a Vulcan, but also in wonderful health. The couple had conceived easily and without the genetic engineering that had been necessary to produce the baby's half-human father. T'Selis had reviewed the records of Spock's own genetics and found that his designers had ensured his ability to father a child without further genetic intervention. Still this child was one quarter Human, one quarter Romulan and half Vulcan and T'Selis had a personal interest in the combination. Her husband, Ruanek, was Romulan and she was still in the first quarter of her pregnancy. As first suspected however, the child was perfectly healthy, and she quickly returned her to her Father.
Spock took the baby back to the bed where Saavik was now sitting up. He sat on the edge and stared at the swaddled child as the baby stared back. Vulcan babies cry only when they have need and this baby was warm and dry and had recently suckled. Just as human babies turn towards the sound of their parents voice soon after birth, Vulcan babies respond to the touch of their parents. Spock reached two of his fingers toward the tiny baby's temple as Saavik did the same. With eyes closed they sensed each other across the bond, allowing the baby to feel the psi touch of its parents for the first time together. Contentment, comfort, warmth and... Spock opened his eyes to see the baby smiling. Smiling! And instantly he was thrown back to the pain of his own birth memories and to his father's judgmental words, "So human." A tear slipped from his eye as he was healed by the small child in his arms. His child. So wonderfully diverse.
They named her T'ai Amanda and raised her much as Spock had been raised. Saavik finally accepted the Admiralty and a desk job to allow more time with her child. Ambassador Spock continued to serve in the diplomatic core and spent times in between missions at home as often as possible. Once T'ai had begun her psi training at two, she had begun to accompany her parents to state dinners, and academic colloquia just as her father had done. T'Selis had taken the child's psi training on herself, as both parents were frequently off-planet. Ruanek, now a well respected linguistics academician at the Vulcan Science Academy, was assigned as her tutor in all academic subjects. Vadi Ruanek, or uncle Ruanek in rihannsu, delighted in the child and treated her just as he treated his own. Saavik, of course, greatly disapproved of the use of the term Vadi, though not because Ruanek was not close enough to the family. In fact, he had saved Spock's life when he returned Spock to Vulcan from the Romulan Empire during Spock's first pon farr after bonding. He could even be called a brother. Saavik did not care as long as the term was not in the rihannsu language. Saavik flatly refused to acknowledge that part of her parentage and denied the child any opportunity to satisfy her curiosity on the subject. On the other hand, Spock had asked Ruanek to use the Rihannsu language with the child whenever Saavik was not present. At first Ruanek had balked, afraid of offending Saavik, but Spock convinced him that Vulcan's philosophy of Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations, or IDIC, would be violated if the child were not exposed to all aspects of her heritage. If Saavik knew of the arrangement, she never confronted Spock on it, and Spock never volunteered the information.
Sarek lavished his attentions on the child. He told story after story of his early exploits in the diplomatic core, but T'ai's favorites always centered on her father's childhood. Sarek had been diagnosed with a degenerative mental condition known as Bendaii's Syndrome. He knew of its symptoms and so began to distance himself more and more from the child to shield her from its effects. As Sarek demanded more care, his human wife Perrin also removed herself from the child's life. After Sarek's death, and even before really, T'ai relied upon T'Selis and Ruanek for her daily supervision and lived for every minute that Saavik could be on Vulcan.
Through the viewport Saavik caught a glimpse of the place she had finally called home; not because of the philosophy she embraced, or the beautiful residences and holding of her House, but because of the child who waited there for her. As often happened on the thought of their child, a pang of regret slid under her control. They had waited too long for her. If they could have guessed at the joy of parenthood, they would have a house full by now. Saavik pushed the thought aside, perhaps there is still time for another.
T'ai is only eleven. Only eleven and unbonded. Saavik wondered who had come to call during the week she had been on Earth. It seemed every time she came home, some family had contacted the House about her child's availability for their son. But she and Spock politely and flatly refused to bond their daughter in a prearranged marriage. They had decided on the course of their own lives so late and were so happy, that they wanted T'ai to make her own choices. At the moment T'ai was singularly uninterested.
Vulcan, ShiKahr, Ambassador Sareks Townhouse, 2369
"Live long and Prosper, my Mother," greeted T'ai with her hands upheld in the Vulcan Ta'al. Saavik did not respect the child's restraint as her father would have and instead took the child into her arms and kissed the top of her head. T'ai allowed it because there was no one else in the Foyer and she had been waiting an hour for Saavik to arrive from Space Dock. "Which ship this time, Mother?" questioned the child.
"The T'Plana-hath. She was returning to Vulcan after a scientific mission."
"Oh," responded T'ai who obviously considered the T'Plannahoth second class. One of the most interesting things about having a mother who was an Admiral in Starfleet of the Federation of Planets was that she could tour just about any class ship her mother returned home on. A human might have termed it hitch-hiking, because that is very much what Saavik did. Whenever she could break away from her work at Starfleet headquarters, she used her influence to hop aboard the fastest ride to Vulcan. T'ai had toured every class of ship by now, but the T'Plana-hath was a Vulcan research vessel and as such did not hold the allure of Starfleet. Spock constantly reassured Saavik that T'ai would choose her own future, and not to discourage her from her fascination with the ships and the stars, but Saavik knew the dangers of space. She wanted her child home and safe and immersed in the music or mathematics at which the child excelled. Not in Starfleet.
Saavik steered T'ai toward the sitting area and to the couch. "How are your studies? Did you finish the tapes I sent?" Saavik placed her arm around the small shoulders.
"Fine, Mother and Yes, Mother"
"I have good news. Spock will be home for a short while," Saavik told her. T'ai had not seen her father for more than two years, since he had begun his hands-on efforts to foster a growing Reunification movement in the Romulan empire. He was undercover there and in danger of his life. Saavik did not approve, and T'ai knew it. She did not share with her mother how much she supported her father's efforts, but Saavik knew. The Romulans, or more properly Rihannsu, were an off-shoot culture of the Vulcans who had left the planet five thousand years before. Vulcan's philosophy of reality-truth or c'thia had been founded by Surak. His student S'task could not embrace what he considered a suppression of emotion that Surak demanded of his followers. Eventually S'task led a group to the stars and the twin planets of Ch'Rihan and Ch'Havran. For thousands of years, the Vulcans did not know where their brothers had gone. Until the wars. S'Task followers had indeed created their own culture as they had intended. Unfortunately, it was plagued with treachery. Periodically the Rihannsu culture flourished under enlightened leaders who still held the same high regard for honor to which the Vulcan histories attested. Sadly, much of the history of the Empire was consumed by the savagery of Vulcan's past. Spock sought to bring the Rihannsu the mind control which he felt they had been denied. He sought to bring the peace and philosophy of Surak to a people rife in deceit and political machinations. He knew it would take years for the movement to take hold, but he had also found a large following of people ready to receive Surak's teachings, and as a follower of Surak he could not deny them. So he had discretely remained in the Romulan Star Empire. His family, Ruanek and a handful of others knew his whereabouts.
"Is he able to get out of the Empire Mother? How long will he stay?"
"Surely, he is able since he has said he is coming, and I do not ask, nor do I wish to know how. There has been some incident in the empire. He wishes to discuss it with me. His stay will be short, but we will make the most of it. If you would like to, you make refrain from your studies whenever your father is available. Do you," Saavik hesitated to finish the thought, " do you resent his absence?"
"Resentment is an emotion, Mother. And besides, I could not resent father if I tried." This time T'ai hesitated, but as there was no one else present she asked,"Do you, Mother?"
"I miss him," was Saavik's only response as she rose from the couch. Taking T'ai's hand she went to put her small travel bag away.
Vulcan, Outskirts of City of ShiKahr, Ambassador Sarek's Villa, 2369
Ruanek noticed the blip on the House's Security Grid. He had been responsible for the security of Sarek's estate for years, ever since he had returned to Vulcan with Spock. Sarek had valued Ruanek's knowledge and entrusted him with his safety. As a Vulcan Ambassador he was frequently involved in missions in which his life was in danger and Ruanek had experience as a bodyguard. Ruanek removed the phaser from his desk drawer and moved to the courtyard where beam-in had occurred. Spock was not at all surprised to have a phaser three centimeters from his face when he materialized in the garden.
"I am most humbled by your welcome, Ras," replied Spock bemusedly.
"Do you never knock, brother?" replied Ruanek, as his arm dropped to his side.
"Still, I am glad to know my wife and child are in your hands, my friend."
"Welcome home, Spock," smiled Ruanek. Though he had embraced much of the Vulcan philosophy, he could never control his smile. He smiled at the most inopportune times that his wife, T'Selis, had on occasion threatened never to take him in public again.
He led Spock in out of the night air. "Saavik and T'ai are at the townhouse. T'Selis and I stay here when Saavik is on planet."
Spock knew that this was Ruanek's way of ensuring that his own family's closeness with the child did not interfere with the relationship between her and her mother. It was a very illogical consideration in Spock's opinion, and he appreciated it. "I have business to attend to before morning. I will be in the study until then. Are you able to take me in the groundcar to the townhouse after that?"
"I will. Good Evening." Ruanek left to reset the security system. He was at a loss to understand how Spock could refrain from going to Saavik this instant. It must take a Vulcan, he thought. As he entered the bedroom, and saw that T'Selis was silhouetted in T'Kuht's light as she prepared for bed, he was very glad to be Romulan.
Saavik stretched and rolled in the warm cover to feel the spot on the bed next to her. Illogical, she reprimanded herself. You know he is gone and this time you agree he must do this. She closed her eyes and remembered yesterday. Spock had arrived at the townhouse in the morning, though she knew he had arrived the night before. She had awoken in the night. She had gotten used to the faintness of their bond with Spock being so far away. His arrival on the planet had caused the bond to strengthen quickly and she awoke as a sleeper who is touched in the night. She had waited briefly and had then fallen back asleep. Spock had greeted them both in the morning at the townhouse and explained the reason for his arrival to them.
"There is trouble in the empire, Saavik. This disease is unforgiving. It has specifically targeted the genetics of the Imperial line and no one of the Imperial family is immune. Even now, the empress and her parents are suffering. With Regent Narviat a victim of this plague, there is no one who can control the military. As the Empress' regent, I believe the survival of the Empire hinges on him. Leonard is still in the Empire. I go tomorrow to meet him and do what we must. I have notified the rest of the Admiralty, and now you." Spock turned to the T'ai. "My travel arrangements have allowed us only a day, T'ai-kam. What shall we do?"
As if trying to ward of the pressure of the galaxy, the small family secluded itself in the townhome that had once belonged to Spock's parents. They shared long talks and discussions on every topic, except of course the Romulan Empire. That evening they had supper in Amanda's garden. T'Selis had taken to tending it, but no one could have made it as lush as when Spock's mother had cared for it. To Spock it was an oasis. They stayed there until they had to help a very tired T'ai to bed. Saavik and Spock needed no such help. And in the morning, he was gone.
After the events in the Novel Red Sector, 2269
Spock retired to his cabin on the Combat Support Tender, Saskatoon. He was pleased that the admiralty at Starfleet Command had agreed to come to the aid of the planet Pojjan and dispatched the Starfleet Corp of Engineers to assist in the construction of a constrictor barrier that would remove the effects of the gravitational displacement waves that planet had suffered from as a result of Romulan experimentation. One Admiral had been particularly helpful.
In Sickbay, Dr. Leonard McCoy, and Dr. Beverly Crusher continued their work on the cure for the illness afflicting the imperial family. Nearby, in close stationkeeping orbit was the Rihannsu vessel that carried the young empress. Dr. Crusher had elected to bring the fading empress to the cure rather than wait for the cure to come to her. Spock's mission had resulted in the location of the one member of the royal family not affected by the disease; the unborn child of Zevon and his wife Sykora. The doctors worked feverishly over Zevon as they attempted a cure. McCoy's revelation that the plague had been deliberately spread had alarmed them all. McCoy had needed someone with uninfected blood in order to derive a cure. Spock and Commander Eric Stiles of the Saskatoon had led a daring rescue mission to free Zevon who was being held as a prisoner on Pojjan. As it happened Zevon had been infected, but his unborn child had not. Now Spock could do nothing but wait and trust that once again his friend McCoy would create a miracle in time.
"Ambassador Spock, incoming priority message from Vulcan sir. It's urgent," Travis Perraton announced over the comm station in Spock's quarters.
"I will take it here please."
"Aye, sir. Piping it through."
Ruanek's face appeared worried over the video link. Saavik must have told Ruanek where to find Spock, as Spock believed only the admiralty knew of the situation on Pojjan and in the Empire. At least they had tried to contain the news of the pandemic as mysterious Prion-based viruses popped up throughout the quadrant. "Ambassador you must come home now. Saavik and T'ai have taken ill. They are admitted at the Science Academy Medical Center and are in isolation. The doctors believe it is some kind of virus. They cannot find a cure. Saavik has perhaps two days. I'm sorry." Tears slipped from Ruanek's eyes even as he spoke the news to his best friend. He knew that if Saavik died, the break in the mental bond between her and Spock would kill Spock too. Ordinarily, family members comforted the surviving bondmate thus enabling survival of the loss. But T'ai would soon succumb as well. Ruanek could not bear the thought of the death of the entire family.
Spock closed his eyes slowly and took a deep breath even as his hands began to shake. He reached across the bond to Saavik and felt her there. She still lived. A thought struck Spock, "Ruanek, what were the symptoms of this virus?"
"I did not witness Saavik's symptoms. She fell ill on her return voyage to Vulcan. T'ai began losing her balance. It happened two or three times in one day. I called T'Selis to see her. She told T'Selis that her joints ached painfully, and T'ai had a fever from the start. It's raging now and the pain is so great that the child has lost consciousness. Saavik was returning home to her when she was stricken. The doctors are allowing the fever to run its course. They have also detected a K-deficiency which they are treating with supplemental kelassium."
"Ruanek, you must contact the doctors immediately and suspend the kelassium supplements. Then I want you to transport my family to the coordinates I am sending now." Ruanek looked down at his screen and saw a series of stellar coordinates on the screen.
"Ras, you know I will do anything you ask, but these coordinates are ..."
"I know Ruanek, but I will contact the admiralty. You will have no trouble entering the red sector. Hurry." Spock terminated the connection and threw himself back in his chair. He sighed deeply and
steepled his hands. Ruanek would get them here. He knew that, but would they still be alive. How had they contracted this... Spock gasped. Saavik's Romulan parent was unknown, but at least now he was sure of one thing. Imperial blood ran through her veins. Saavik was noble born.
Spock contacted the admiralty and returned to sickbay to find the doctors feverishly working over Zevon. "Progress?" he asked.
"Not since twenty minutes ago, Spock. You know, I usually work better without you breathing down my ..." McCoy looked up for the first time at his friend's face. "What Spock? Tell me," pleaded McCoy.
"It is Saavik and T'ai. They are infected."
McCoy felt faint. "No Spock, it's not possible, only the Imperial......? Of course, you didn't know, did you? We wouldn't be all the way out here otherwise."
Dr. Beverly Crusher observed the two men would have been friends for over a century. McCoy had been able to read Spock's expression, or from what she saw, lack thereof. She knew McCoy also felt his anguish.
Dr. Crusher moved to Spock and pushed up his sleeve. Spock offered no resistance as she drew a sample of green blood from his arm. "I don't understand the method of infection," she said. "Zevon was stabbed with a tainted knife, and the Imperial family contracted the disease through routine vaccinations that had been tainted with the virus."
She examined Spock's blood in the biocomp. "Leonard, look!" she said as McCoy moved to the viewer. "Ambassador, do you receive any immunizations while on Romulus?"
"Of course, Romulan and Vulcan physiology being so similar, I would contract anything the Roumulan population would," Spock replied. His liver felt like it was in his stomach. He knew where this was leading.
McCoy arose from his place at the biocomp. "It's using the rest of the population as carriers. If any royal family members managed to avoid the immunizations, they would have eventually contracted this disease through bodily fluids, sharing eating utensils, a sneeze... it's virulent."
"I gave it to them."
"Yes, Spock. I'm so sorry." McCoy quickly returned to Zevon's side. His energy seemed renewed. He would not give up.
"We're close, Ambassador. When they are here we'll be ready for them," Dr. Crusher offered.
Everyone present had compassion for the man. Commander Eric Stiles moved from his friend Zevon's side. Placing his hand on the ambassador's shoulder he said, "Let's give the doctors some space." Eric led the ambassador out of the sickbay and back to his cabin.
Ruanek had the family's warp-capable yacht ready to go. It was the fastest thing available on short notice. There were currently no Starfleet vessels within a day's reach of Vulcan. Convincing the doctors at the academy to release their patients had been another matter. They had refused. Without knowing the cause of the virus, they would not endanger the Vulcan population. So Ruanek had done what his life and Romulan blood prepared him to do. He kidnapped them and T'Selis too. Before T'Selis knew what had happened, she was standing in the small sitting area of the yacht with Saavik and T'ai at her feet. As soon as they were on board, Ruanek activated the worm virus at Vulcan Space Central which would allow him to exit the Vulcan planetary system without clearance. All those years studying under Sarek had certain advantages.
Ruanek had never seen T'Selis like this. If he had ever doubted that Vulcans could get mad he did not now, but still she listened to him as they checked all the medical equipment and stabilized the patients. She seemed impressed with the variety of medical supplies Ruanek had stocked on board; most especially the biocomp and two stasis chambers. T'Selis feared Saavik would need the latter before they could arrive at the rendezvous point.
Dr. Beverly Crusher stepped away from Zevon's biobed and rubbed her eyes. She couldn't think; she was that tired. At the same time she was embarrassed to see her counterpart, who was almost a century older, laboring without ceasing. Since learning of Spock's family he had been possessed with a renewed strength.
"Beverly," McCoy's voice startled her out of her thoughts. "Look at his vitals. Look at the growth rate." Sure enough the growth of the virus had arrested. "I think its stopped, Bev, but this virus is so vicious, let's wait a while before we tell Spock."
An hour later Spock's meditation was interrupted by an anxious knock on his cabin door. McCoy beamed at him as it opened. "We've done it, Spock. Zevon's recovering. The Empress has been inoculated, but it's too early to tell if she'll recover. She was pretty far gone. I have Data patching in to the communications web he set up on the homeworlds. All the physicians are getting the formula for synthesis now. Soon we'll know if the synthesized antidote will work. When Saavik and T'ai arrive, I'll use the serum we've developed from Zevon's child, just to be sure." McCoy staggered a little as he moved through the doorway. Spock took his arm firmly and led him to the bed. McCoy had learned long ago that there were times to just accept the help of his friend. "Now that you mention it, a little shuteye would fix me right up I think. Just wake me when they arrive," McCoy added.
Spock nodded and eased his friend onto the bed. There was no time to respond before McCoy's breath evened and deepened into an exhausted sleep. Spock sat and steepled his hands again. Meditation had eluded him since he had last spoken to Ruanek. When he closed his eyes, all he saw was the gazebo in Amanda's garden.
"That is mine, Father," T'ai complained. Spock looked at the glass he had been drinking from.
"Sorry," said Saavik, who had taken Spock's glass and caused Spock to mistake T'ai's for his own, "I thought you were finished." Vulcans did not share food, but Saavik had never had a problem with finishing off whatever looked appealing to her. Spock handed T'ai back her glass and she drank the rest down, contaminating herself at the same time with a virus so deadly that even now it was killing her.
I am sorry, T'ai-kam.
Narviat opened his eyes slowly and squinted against the light. Even his lids hurt. "My wife?" he asked to no one in particular.
"Your wife is recovering, Deihu," came the response as a face came into view.
"t'Hrienteh? Our child?"
Doctor t'Hrienteh had dreaded this question. She knew the answer would upset her patron, and she had concurred with the decision that had been made. "The Empress has been taken to a site where she will be closer to the antidote Deihu."
As anticipated, Narviat's rising ire was even more visible in the pallor brought on by the disease to which the entire Imperial family had succumbed. "WHO has taken her?"
"Sentinel Iavo and Dr. Beverly Crusher of Starfleet, Deihu."
"WHAT?! My child is accompanied by a snake and an enemy of the Empire! Who made that decision?!" Narviat struggled to sit, but t'Hrienteh forced him down. Even she could match his strength now.
"It was mine, Deihu. As Imperial Surgeon. I could do nothing nor could any of the other Rihannha doctors. I discretely called in a federation doctor, who sent Dr. Crusher here. It was they would found the cure. The virus intentionally targets the DNA of the royal family."
"They use biological warfare against us and then hand over a cure. I find that difficult to believe."
"I did not accuse them, Deihu, In fact I do not believe it was they that infected us. From what my associate has told me, similar Prion-based viruses are occurring all over the known galaxy in isolated incidents. The Federation has encountered several themselves."
"Have my ship prepared, t'Hrienteh. My wife and I will go to the Empress."
"It has been done, Deihu. Khre'riov Tal has already arranged it. I will have you and your wife transported directly to my sickbay there. The crew is prepared to leave."
"I will not be transported to my ship as an invalid, t'Hrienteh," retorted Narviat as he attempted to sit up.
"If you can walk unaided, then I of course concur Deihu."
Spock's private yacht arrived late in the gamma shift. Doctors McCoy and Crusher were roused from sleep to receive their patients, who were instantly injected with the serum. The patients were carried on anti-grav stretchers to sickbay. Spock did his best to stay out of the way until McCoy nodded him over to the biobeds. "T'ai is gonna be fine. She's sleeping. Blood scans verified the Imperial DNA in both Saavik and the child. T'ai will have some muscular aches for a few days." McCoy hesitated. "Saavik is stable, but she's in a coma. I don't know if she got the serum in time and I don't know why she suffered such a more severe case. It's wait and see, Spock."
The biobeds had been placed next to each other with a comfortable chair between them. It was hard to find a comfortable chair on a combat support tender, unless the captain gave up his. Commander Eric Stiles had brought his from his ready room for his friend. Spock sat wordlessly as his friends returned to their assigned cabins.
T'Selis retired to the sickbay's small office. She was not ready to relinquish the care of her patients just yet, and the other doctors were obviously exhausted. The lights were dimmed for gamma shift, and T'Selis had turned down the volume of the heart monitors so that it was barely detectable to Vulcan hearing. Spock stroked each of their cheeks with his index and middle fingers. " I am here. You will both be well," he whispered illogically hoping that they would somehow hear him.
At 0630 the lights began to slowly rise in the sickbay. Alpha shift drifted in. The duty nurse moved to position herself behind Spock and check the status of the patients. In the background, Zevon and Sykora chatted quietly about Zevon's impending release.
"Vazhau nash-veh akali."
Spock rose from his chair to get closer to T'ai's bed. McCoy was right behind him. "They all say the same thing," said a smiling McCoy. Spock and McCoy simultaneously glanced at the indicators above the biobed. "She's gonna be fine. Almost normal vitals, slightly elevated temp." McCoy took a small sample of blood to examine for traces of the virus.
"She is recovering." T'ai opened her eyes at the sound of Spock's voice.
"Nam-tor nash-veh wilat?"
"You are in the sickbay of the CST Saskatoon. Takta Leonard is here. If you speak Standard it will be easier for the staff." Spock held a straw to the child's lips and she drank hesitantly.
"I have to relieve myself."
"So you have said. You are wearing medical pants." Tai sighed slightly, but Spock saw her relax. T'ai turned her head slowly to face her mother's bed. Spock knew from what McCoy had said that any movement was difficult for her.
"When will she awaken?"
"I do not know, T'ai-kam."
"I am hungry." Spock glanced at McCoy.
"The virus has a zero growth. She's well. How about a little juice first? Some soup?" McCoy moved to the replicator and returned with globefruit and plomik soup. "Feed it to her slowly Spock, or you may see it again." McCoy winked at T'ai and thought she turned up her mouth subtly. He had made her smile more than once when she was younger, once even to the point of laughter, and to his surprise, Spock had not said a word. He had merely turned and exited the room as if he had forgotten something.
When he had returned, both McCoy and T'ai were the picture of decorum. Now she was a young lady. At eleven, she was expected to have all the knowledge necessary to run her father's household. Still, she was smaller than a human child and McCoy had to remind himself not to treat her as such, but she had never given any indication that he was condescending to her in any way. McCoy thought that maybe she enjoyed that he did not expect her to be so mature. On Vulcan, she was considered an adult and expected to behave accordingly.
Spock coaxed T'ai to eat until her eyelids drooped. "Perhaps sleep is a better idea," he said as he brushed her cheek with his fore and middle fingers. Finally, she was without fever and she quickly fell asleep. Spock rose from the comfortable chair which had sometime during the night become uncomfortable. He found McCoy in the tiny office. "Where is T'Selis? Is there news from Dr. Crusher? How is the empress?"
"They are both off shift now, but I sent T'Selis over to the Romulan ship with Beverly in the middle of the night. I didn't want to disturb you." McCoy paused, "The Empress is dead. They couldn't resuscitate her. Poor kid had just suffered with it too long. She didn't have any reserves to fight it. From what Beverly said, Sentinel Iavo took it pretty well. He's managed to keep the ship in position until they receive orders from the empress' regent on Ch'Rihan. They haven't been able to contact him."
"Narviat," breathed Spock.
"Her parents are members of the imperial line and as such also victims of the virus. Her Regent and father is former Praetor Narviat, her mother is his former Security chief Charvanek." Spock waited for McCoy to make the connection.
"Charvanek! The one we stole the cloaking device from?!"
"The same. At this point they hold they survival of the empire in their hands. Until the birth of their child, every royal family member was vying to be Emperor Shiarkiek's heir, but he always favored their union. They have no other children, nor are they likely to given their age. Their long-awaited, now-dead child lies in a neighboring starship and when they discover it, we very well maybe the first victims of the empire's fall."
"So the monster who unleashed this virus wins! We defeated this thing and he wins anyway! I refuse to give in. As you are found of saying, 'There are always possibilities'".
"Yes, Leonard. There are. But they are not always painless."
The Imperial Battlecruiser CHR Honor Blade
Narviat exited the head in t'Hrienteh's sickbay on wobbly legs. "If I can stand indeed!" he thought. Finally after almost four days he had been able to support himself. His wife was still abed. He moved to her and whispered in her ear. "Liviana...". She did not respond to her secret fourth name except to sigh contentedly in her sleep. "Get up. We have arrived." Instantly her eyes opened. Narviat moved to the wall panel. "Bridge, current ETA."
"We are detecting the CHR Kharah on long range sensors, Deihu. Do you wish to hail them?"
"I do. From the bridge." With that Narviat left sickbay, as quickly and gracefully as his wobbly legs could take him.
"I follow," called Charvanek from behind.
Honor Blade's bridge crew was the pride of the fleet. Every member, a child of prominent veterans of the Romulan Star Empire, not a dishonorable one in the lot. At Narviat's entrance heads turned. To them he was the greatest hero of all. He had single-handedly defeated the traitorous Praetor Dralath to assume command of the empire, and he had given up that office to serve the higher good as the regent of the empire. "I am assuming command now, Khre-Riov tr'Tevai."
Commander of the Honor Blade Khre-Riov Koann ir-mneo tr'Tevai bowed three breaths deep and moved to stand behind the Commander's chair. He was that honored to relinquish command to this man. "As you wish Deihu. We have the Kharah on a secure frequency."
"Kharah, this is Imperial Regent Narviat. What news of the empress?" Disturbingly, the channel remained quiet for some seconds until finally the Commander of the Kharah spoke.
Charvanek entered the bridge as he replied, "Deihu, this news is best expressed in private."
"You dishonor my crew, Khre-Riov. If there is news I will have it here!"
"Deihu, our empress, your child, is dead."
Charvanek grasped the railing next to her, but could not help but sink to the floor. "No, Narviat. No." she cried. The bridge crew fixed their eyes on their stations, their hearts already burning with desire for revenge against an unknown assailant. Narviat named him.
On the bridge of the CST Saskatoon, Commander Eric Stiles drummed his fingers on the edge of his command chair. In the night he had been notified of the empress' death. This change of events could lead to anarchy here near the edge of the neutral zone. And here Saskatoon was engrossed in a construction project designed to funnel constrictor waves around an entire planet. The Industrial Crawler True North had not yet arrived with it's crew from the Starfleet Core of Engineers and early on Alpha Shift a slight almost imperceptible gravitational tremor had measured on Saskatoon's sensors.
"Sickbay, this is the bridge. Has Zevon been released? I'd like him to see something," Commander Stiles questioned.
"He's on his way and I'm happy to get rid of him," came McCoy's voice. Eric had spent years with Zevon during their imprisonment. They had worked together on a way to predict the waves. It had been some years since Eric's release had been arranged by Admiral Spock, but Eric was quiet certain of the wave form he was seeing. When Zevon arrived he confirmed it.
"That's it, Eric. I'll need to contact my people on the surface, but this is definitely a precursor wave. My people will be able to give us a better idea of when the next one will hit."
"Get on it, Devon. We've got one seriously ill patient still in sickbay and your pregnant wife on board. We got to get them to shelter if this constrictor wave is imminent."
"I'm not sure what the effect of the wave will be on the ship, but Sykora and Saavik will be fine in a shelter on the planet. Our hospitals are specifically designed as reinforced shelters. I suggest you prepare for their evacuation as a contingency." With that, Zevon and Sykora returned to the planet surface to begin work with their team. Dr. Crusher accompanied them as did Data. Zevon had quickly discovered Data's scientific talents and realized that his input might advance the constrictor wave research significantly. On the surface, Zevon's team had also detected the tremor and were in the process of fine-tuning their detection systems.
"Sir, there's a vessel decloaking starboard of the Kharah."
"Great. It's a party." Commander Stiles called sickbay again, "Ambassador Spock, the Romulans have company. Request your presence on the bridge. Doctors, prepare the ill for emergency evac to the planet surface. We may have more than the Romulans to worry about."
"What's that supposed to mean, son?" came McCoy's voice from sickbay.
Spock entered the bridge in time to hear Eric's response. "We have detected the precursor to a constrictor wave, Doctor. I've felt first hand what that can do to the injured. Your patients will be safer in a shelter on the Pojjan surface."
It didn't take more than that to convince McCoy, "We'll be ready, Commander," he replied.
"Romulan ship Ids as the CHR Honor Blade, sir. Sensors detect a transport over to the other ship. Their shields remain down. Weapons are not powered."
The situation on the bridge was tense and then, "Sir, a hail from the CHR Kharah."
"Open the channel with visual."
A regal but haggard Romulan faced them on the viewscreen. He peered beyond Commander Stile's shoulder at Ambassador Spock. Commander Stiles had seen hatred in the eyes of too many during his captivity on Pojjan to mistake the look for anything else. "This is Commander Eric Stiles of the CST Saskatoon. To whom do I have the honor of speaking."
"I am Imperial Regent Narviat, and the child you have murdered is mine."
"Regent, surely Sentinel Iavo has informed you that the Federation has done everything possible to save the empress' and the entire royal family."
"Sentinel Iavo is dead." Commander Stiles looked more closely at the image of Narviat. There were stains of green blood still on his hands. "He was too cowardly to take his own life. I took it for him. This blood is his. And now I will have your's Spock."
Ambassador Spock drew himself up and stepped forward of Eric. "Regent, I grieve with thee, but surely you realize the illogic of your assumption. The Federation is not behind your child's death. Indeed, we have suffered ourselves. This is an act of terrorism, but by whom we cannot determine. We have been fighting similar viruses throughout the quadrant."
Suddenly the bridge lights went red. The red klaxon blared. "Sir, there is a intruder alert. Origin sickbay," reported Travis Perraton.
Spock was at the turbolift door before the words left the Travis' mouth. The hail from Narviat had been a diversion! Eric leapt into the lift before the door closed. "Shields! Turbolift Sickbay, priority override Stiles-One-A. Security to Sickbay." Commander Stiles met Spock's eyes during the eternity it took for the lift doors to open though he could not tell what he saw in them. Panic. Surely not. Down the hall towards Sickbay a fire fight raged. Disruptor fire poured through the door, blasting the wall beyond. Stiles motioned Spock to the Medical Office entrance. They ducked in low just in time to see an already unconscious Ruanek thrown into the bulkhead. T'Selis bent over him. Four centurions accompanied by Charvanek were approaching Saavik's bed, in front of which stood T'ai and Doctor Leonard McCoy. Unarmed, all Spock and Eric could do was lay low and hope for an opportunity to surprise the attackers.
"Stay away from her! I've already explained Charvanek, we had nothing to do with this," McCoy pleaded.
"Be that as it may doctor, my child is dead. Resist and Admiral Saavik will die." With a sweeping motion, the centurions trained their weapons on Saavik and McCoy. "Come here, child. You would not want us to hurt her, would you?"
T'ai edged toward Charvanek, who wrapped her arm around the child's shoulders. "Spock, I know you are there." she stated. "Blood for blood." She pointed her own disruptor at the child's head. "Order the shields dropped or they all die."
Commander Eric Stiles and Spock rose from their hiding place as Security rushed the door. "Stand down," yelled Stiles. The security detail lowered their weapons. The centurions never reacted to Saskatoon's security team. Their disruptors remained fixed on Saavik and McCoy. "Please Spock," thought Stiles, "give me a sign. What do you want me to do?"
"Why?" Spock asked of Charvanek.
"I suggest you ask your brother... or your wife, if she lives," replied Charvanek. "You have taken the reason I had for living, shall I take yours?" Charvanek's finger tightened on the trigger of the disruptor.
"She will do it Eric. She believes we killed her child," Spock whispered.
"Bridge, this is Commander Stiles. Lower the shields."
And with that, Charvanek and her centurions beamed off the ship, taking T'ai with them.
Immediately, CHR Blood Wing cloaked and warped away as CHR Kharah laid down enough cover fire to keep a mere Combat Support Tender from pursuit. By the time Commander Stiles and Spock returned to the bridge, Blood Wing was beyond interception. Saskatoon turned to engage Kharah as a massive constrictor wave rocked the vessels. Huge pieces of the partially constructed, constrictor wave barrier ripped from their orbit above Pojjan and hurtled toward Kharah. A large explosion rocked the Kharah as phaser fire from Saskatoon's cutting phasers and large structural pieces from the barrier made simultaneous impact with Kharah's shields. Moments later Kharah exploded in a blinding flash.
On board Saskatoon all passengers and crew suffered under the crushing effect of the constrictor wave. Stiles managed to engage ship-wide comm. "Lay flat and still until the wave passes," he ordered. All over the ship the order was obeyed. They had all been prepared for what to do if a wave hit during construction. Shields held, and the deck gravitational compensators lessened the effect somewhat.
In sickbay, the alarms above Saavik's bed sounded. McCoy, who was laying on the deck, felt his rib cage crack. And suddenly it was over. Saskatoon's medical personnel moved quickly to assess the already injured as reports came in from across the ship. Groaning, McCoy was nevertheless still in charge, "Check Saavik and Ruanek!". T'Selis moved from Ruanek, who was stable, to Saavik, whose vital signs were recovering from dangerously low readings.
Spock entered as T'Selis looked up. "She is well, but she cannot stand another wave. She should be transported to the planet with McCoy and Ruanek."
"Agreed," said Spock.
Central Medical Complex
As T'Selis supervised, Spock placed his fingers on the katra points in Ruanek's face. Ruanek had not regained consciousness since a Romulan disruptor blast nexus had removed the tissues of his right shoulder revealing bone. A better shot would have caused his organs to destruct within him. But why hadn't the shot been better? In the close quarters of sickbay, how could a trained centurion miss? Spock knew he could not risk Saavik discovering what had happened to their child. Saavik's condition was too unstable. Charvanek had suggested Ruanek knew something, something Spock must know. Without Ruanek's consent, Spock would only go deep enough into the meld to make contact at first, then deeper if consent were granted. Spock began, "Your mind to my mind. Your thoughts to my thoughts. Ruanek?"
Saavik! Save her!
She is safe, Ras. They have taken T'ai. Why have they taken T'ai?
They have taken her as rrh-thann! They will use her to continue the Imperial line!
Spock felt panic from Ruanek, he struggled to regain consciousness, in his mind he closed a door and locked it.
I will not force you, Ras. Please. Tell me what I need to know.
The door opened to Spock. It was the consent he had wished for.
You will know everything now my brother. All that I know, all that Sarek knew of it. I only sought to keep them safe, my brother. I have failed.
"Where are we?" asked Spock. They looked quickly to ensure no one else saw what they did. A question on a computer screen. Are children of dishonor marked? They knew it was from their father. Spock's younger hands typed the answer, "Children of dishonor have never been marked. Rihanssu children are no longer marked. There is no longer any recognized mark except that of the emperor's line." Quickly, remove the trail of this message! Deep Breathing, calm returning. Strangely, his left shoulder burned, he reached with his younger right hand and felt the mark."
I am Spock. You are Ruanek. I am Spock.
T'Selis steadied Spock as he wavered slightly. Curiously, Spock had removed the covers from Ruanek's body. Ruanek wore only medical pants. Gently, he sat Ruanek up, supporting his whole weight against his chest. Spock saw what Ruanek had successfully hidden for so long. His mark. Identical to that of his sister. To Saavik.