Title:  Ever Sharp

Author:  Jenny

Rating: PG-13

Summary:  Missing scene from The Pandora Principle and an explanation for a young Saavikís most treasured possession.  I consider this to be an AU type story and do want it included in the Fest.

Disclaimer:  Not mine.  All recognizable characters belong to Carolyn Clowes, Gene Roddenberry, and Paramount Pictures.

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The small girl crept along the outer wall of the ragged tent.  The Quiet Ones erected these futile protections against the furious sun with each new wave of arrivals.  The harsh shrieking winds never left them standing long and this one was no exception.  The tattered rags were flapping wildly in the desert air, ripping further with each burst of the infernal wind.

She crouched low, nearly kneeling in the fine dust on all fours.  With her face pressed close to the tent wall, she strained her small ears for the voice of the woman she sought.  Her bright eyes, sharp and feral, narrowed in concentration.

Not here...Quiet One who talks of stars not here...

Cursing under her breath, the girl crawled rapidly away from the last tent and ran into the foothills of the nearby mountains.

Near the armed encampment, the laughing guards pushed their next victim forward to her knees.  The tall, composed woman stumbled to the dirt silently.  Her chosen Ďmateí stepped forward and sneered at her cool expression.  As he wrapped a hand in her thick black hair, he growled in his native tongue, "All ice, arenít you?" and he spoke lewdly of how that was about to change.

Suddenly and unlike any of her predecessors, the woman spoke into the face of her enemy.  "You may take this body, but you will never touch my mind or my soul."

Laughing at her somber declaration, the Centurion guard slammed his fist into her face, forcing her into foggy semi-consciousness.

The Vulcan woman, known as TíPren, lay motionless, silently enduring her treatment.  As her mind cleared, she focused on the first thing that came to her eye: the short handled knife that her tormentor wore at his side.  As he shoved her face first into the dirt, she gripped the cold metal and allowed it to slide deep into the recesses of her robes.  When the pack of laughing men left, none of them were any wiser of her surreptitious movement.

As she stiffly sat and pulled her hem into place, she felt another piercing gaze on her back.  She spun around, sagging inwardly when she saw who watched from the shadows.

"Why you not fights!?"

"Little Cat, there was no logical reason to fight.  I had no hope of escape."  She kept her voice modulated, hoping to keep the childís infamous temper from flaring.

"Hopes... you say, ĎYou hopes, Saavik.í  You say, "Not stop fightsí... You say Ďfightsí!... stupid Quiet One..."  The girlís dirty face scrunched in disgust and confusion.

"Saavik, you do not understand that of which you speak."

The little girl Saavik glared at TíPren.  She wasnít sure exactly what she had witnessed, but knew she would fight until her last breath not to have it happen to her.  She turned her back on the woman and walked away.

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Saavik shivered in the cold wind.  The stars shone above her in the inky night sky.  She thought once again of the woman TíPren.  Once she would have sat beside her, but it had been many months since Saavik had allowed either of them that comfort.  TíPren would have sat with her still, but Saavik scrambled away each time she tried to approach since their last encounter in the guardsí camp.    Eventually, TíPren stopped trying.  Saavik still saw her from a distance.  She still lived and refused to fight the Centurions.

Sonabastard guards... not gets me...notnot!

With her sullen, scowling face propped on a grubby fist, Saavik continued her vigil.

My stars...someday I go my stars... someday...

So engrossed was she in her thoughts that TíPren was at the base of her jumbled rock perch before Saavik was aware of her approach.

"Little Cat, wait!!"  TíPren beseeched her even as Saavik poised to leap from the pile of boulders.  "I would speak with you."

Something in the womanís voice arrested Saavikís move and she held her crouch, warily watching the Quiet One approach. 

"Saavik, come sit with me."  TíPren held out one slim hand.

Ignoring the offered hand, Saavik shuffled closer, suspicion evident on her face.

"Saavik, the guards will come for me soon."

As TíPren shifted on the hard rock, Saavik caught a glimpse of the rounded mass of her stomach beneath the filthy and ragged robe.  The guards always came for the Quiet Ones when their bodies swelled.

"I cannot fight them, Little Cat.  I do not have the strength."  Her voice was quiet in the dark, and Saavik heard the fatigue she couldnít see on the familiar face.  "When they come, I will go with them, I must go with them.  I may return later, but in the meantime, I want you to stay safe.  You must stay safe.  I have something for you."  She pulled a short blade from an inner fold of her robe.  "I took this from the guard, and I want you to keep it with you all the time, Saavik.  Donít ever let them catch you and donít ever stop fighting."  She handed the rough handle of the blade to a curious Saavik.

Testing the tip with one finger, Saavik only watched in fascination as the sharp point pierced her own skin.  Deep green blood welled to the surface of her skin.  Instinctively sucking the drop of blood from her finger, she turned the knife over and over in the dull moonlight.

"When it grows dull, Little Cat, draw it across the rough surface of a rock until it is sharp again.  Always keep it sharp, Saavik.  Forever.... Use it to hunt and forage and to protect yourself.  Promise me, Saavik, that you will always keep your knife with you!"

Still fascinated by the new possession, Saavik nodded vaguely.  Looking up at TíPren, she saw the first glimmer of sunrise on the horizon, and heard the ring of the booted feet of the guards on the hard packed earth.

"They come now, Little Cat.  Stay hidden and safe, and keep your knife close.  Iíll be back soon and weíll find a way to our stars, I promise."  Without another word, the Quiet One stood and slowly descended.  She walked sedately back to the ragged tent city and searching guards.  She never looked back.

Sometimes the Quiet Ones women did come back after many weeks, without the burden of their bodies, often weak and silent.  From her hiding place among the rocks, Saavik clutched her knife and began the long wait.

THE END