Title: Souls on the Wind (a round robin)
Summary: Saavik's reluctance to celebrate the Katra fi' Salan, the holiday for remembering lost katras, is soothed by Spock's acceptance.
Disclaimer:Star Trek and all it’s characters belong to Paramount.


Part I – Joanna

 

Blessed heat surrounded her as she made her way down the long walk to the villa in ShiKahr. Saavik welcomed the heat and higher gravity as if she had been born and raised on Vulcan. She had not. It was part of the reason she did not want to be here for this holiday, the Katra fi' Salan, but she had promised. Newly bonded to Spock, she was still reluctant to deny him anything. He had expressed to her how much he wished to share this holiday with her, and so she had agreed, but only because she missed him.

Suddenly, the townhouse gates stood before her. Lost in her thoughts, she hadn't even noticed the walk. She began to push the button to announce her presence before she realized that this was her house now, a gift from Spock's father Sarek on the occasion of their bonding. Saavik pressed her palm to the padd, and the gatepost and the gate swung open effortlessly.

Just as easily the sight of the garden beyond filled Saavik with memories of this place and the woman responsible for it. Amanda, Spock's mother, was the only maternal figure Saavik had ever known. Saavik set down her small bag and wandered the path to the back gardens. This was her favorite part of the lush paradise so rare on Vulcan, an oasis created by a human woman who had made this world her own. The plants were predominantly Terran and Vulcan, but Amanda had never been reluctant to return from a diplomatic mission with a crate of carefully packed plants, suitable for the Vulcan environment. The walk that Saavik liked so much was surrounded on one side by a high privacy wall and the other by the side of the house. The large leaves of tall me'da plants created a tunnel through which one could walk to the back gardens. The shade of the me'da allowed several different flowering plants from Terra enough shade that they flourished here in the hotter, dryer climate of Vulcan. Towards the end of the walk was a small pool created with gray water from the water shower and air conditioning units in the house. Rivulets of water spilled down the rock sides of the feed into the irrigation system.

Saavik reached the end of the path, and the spacious back garden exploded before her. Now in the dormant season, all the Vulcan flora was in bloom. Surely there was no more beautiful place on the planet, and it was hers. Saavik was reminded of the holiday she had come here to celebrate with Spock. Katra fi' Salan. Literally Souls in the Wind, a time when the Vulcans revered the ancestors whose Katra were lost in death. When death was expected, the family gathered and the living essence of the dying family member was placed in a vessel which would be returned to the family's Hall of Souls, but death could not always be expected, and home and family were not always near. Certainly, Saavik's Vulcan parent had not. She set her jaw and determined to remove these thoughts from her mind. Spock would want her support. She would celebrate this holiday for Amanda, whom she had known, and cared for, and who as a human had not had a Katra in the Vulcan sense to impart.

At this thought the wind in the garden whipped up and Saavik felt a familiar tugging at her mind. Spock must have found her bag at the front of the house. He was looking for her.

Part II – Kerry

 

Saavik opened herself to his mental pull, giving back the same fulfillment he gave by touching their bond.  Bondmates. The word worked where other past labels hadn’t. Saavik was always bonded to Spock; always found him a part of her path in one form or another. They finally found their pathways led them here.

 

She stood in Sarek’s cabin aboard her ship. “I am honored you take such an interest in my future.  However, I will not discuss your idea for a potential bondmate.”

 

She turned to leave, but his reply froze her steps. “What if it were Spock?”

 

She focused again on the garden. Spock knew to seek her out here.  She crossed to the rose bushes where they grew in symbiosis with the reedy chakh' plants.  The thin, bamboo like stalks sought the foundling roses as a starting point to reach for the sky, giving its partner flower the stiff backboard it needed to grow high.  The colors of the roses – more than Amanda’s favorite yellow – with the sleek black and brown chakh’ formed compliments of each other.  Their joined scent was heady.

 

In Saavik’s ears sounded the wind off the desert and the burble of the fountain in the foyer off the garden.  She relished these sensations as the breeze brought whiffs of other scents.  She turned in their direction and found a tan stone table, newly set here or the plant bed beneath its legs would encase them, not be flattened by them.  Three dark stone bowls lay on top, filled with a mixture of seeds and burnt incense.  Life mixed with death, reflecting the gray hieroglyphics around the rim.  Katra or Essence bowls; part of the ceremony.

 

As she watched, a breeze stole morsels from each bowl, stirring them into the main draft of desert wind as Spock intended. A dried rose petal, its edges crisp from flame with the center still unburned, lifted just above one rim, spinning in the air to settle back down when the breeze released it.

 

Saavik’s sensitive nose identified not only the roses in the incense, but chakh’, the magnolias Amanda cherished named Vulcan, the flowered yelas, and the slight hint of fruit from the savas and kasa leaves. Plus something else, something familiar but nebulous.

 

That was only the one bowl.

 

The second – Saavik knew none of the scents except for that coming from the white, sparkling granules.  She was unsure, but she guessed by the total lack of Vulcan incense that this bowl was for James Kirk.  The third, most likely Sybok’s… the aroma rushed into Saavik’s bloodstream like a fever, and she stepped back, her eyes wide.  She stared down at the bowl, a delicious tingle still burning like a current through her body.

 

“Saavik?”

 

Spock stepped into the garden.  Ten months had passed since they last saw each other, and she drank in the sight of him.  His dark hair and eyes contrasted handsomely with his light beige robes as they draped along the long lines of his body.  His eyes always drew her.  His eyes with their deep expressions that let her in – his voice with its rich tones turning mundane words into something that caught her – his long fingered hands with their efficient, expressive gestures…

 

She paid attention to what he was saying.

 

“I thought it was your bag I discovered.”

 

Curious that he spoke of something they both already knew.  Then she understood.  He drank in the sight of her.

 

He held out his paired fingers, and she touched them.  The bond flared, enlivened, and settled again, connecting them as always even after they broke the physical contact.

 

“I began preparations for the ceremony.” He went to a rniiktiho plant, plucking the dark red vegetable from its ground root.

 

“So I have noticed.” She led his eyes with hers to the stone table where the three katra bowls sat.

 

“I have other preparations inside.” His manner turned formal as he held out the rniiktiho in his cupped palms for her inspection.

 

She almost forgot the importance of meals and their preparation. Too many Starfleet galleys, too many meals ordered through a replicator. But now at home, she welcomed returning to their customs. Spock rolled the vegetable in slow motions, back and forth, giving her a good look at it. As the meal’s preparer, he showed the female of the house that he choose the best ingredients.  She nodded showing she accepted his choice, and he left the garden for inside.

 

“You were unsure of your arrival time.” He looked back over his shoulder. “Join me?”  She noticed the three floating candles in the foyer fountain as she did so. Flames living on a bath of water: life and death balanced again. The candles were used later in the ceremony during the mourning meditation, picked from the fountain with water still licking the candle’s outer surface.  The flames burned through the wax until nothing kept them separate from the liquid droplets. The light extinguished with a hiss, lost to an opposed environment as the lamented katras were. Looking ahead to where Spock ducked into the open kitchen area, Saavik missed the fourth candle that bobbed around at the back of the fountain.

 

“Perhaps I should have waited until your arrival before filling the Essence bowls,” Spock was saying.

 

“Unnecessary.  You are more fluent with today’s customs than I am.”  Neither mentioned she choose to be inexperienced. “And I would not delay the ceremony because of inefficient shipping schedules.”

 

“Your ship moves forward on its patrol?”

 

She nodded. “I left them for a passenger ship on Keziah. I will rendezvous with a shuttle there as well when I leave tomorrow night.” She looked over the other meal ingredients – thkyrh and assorted spices; he made her favorite meal. The small portion made the hospitable sample for a returned traveler. Dinner would be later, the starter for the life celebration after the mourning rites.

 

Music drifted in from the main room, adding to the ambience of being back with him. She studied him again, this time with the electrical current created by the third bowl dissipated. “You lost weight.”

 

He nodded, dropping the spices into a small pot over a flame. “I am nullifying the effects of an ambassador’s sedate life style, including an improved exercise regime. I also speculated we might spar tomorrow, although my reaction times have slowed from inactivity.”

 

“I promise not to take advantage.”

 

He peered up without lifting his head.  An eyebrow elevated. “Gratifying to know I can trust my betrothed.”

 

“Indeed.”

 

He laid the round rniiktiho and the stemmed thkyrh on a small slab of black stone.  The deep red and jade became vibrant in contrast to the slate.  He cut a slit into both, and opened them so the nutritional core faced her as the child bearer.

 

She met his gaze, sharing his contentment. They both enjoyed some Terran meals as well as other alien repasts, but it was good to be home.  The cooking and sharing of food was part of a tradition here, handed down from the Beginning -- an art and a discipline, one of the many in expressing the deeper self.

 

Spock used an airakho, a cross between tongs and chopsticks, to place the rniiktiho and the thkyrh in the small pot. The contained moisture from both vegetables moistened the sizzling spices, creating a new smell and sound.  Saavik realized how hungry she was.

 

The scent brought something back to mind. “Spock, the Essence bowls outside – you chose the mixtures?”

 

He nodded. “I dried different plants for my mother’s incense ashes.  A few plants I picked from the estate’s garden, since we do not have her favorite Terran agastache here.”

 

That was the other smell she couldn’t name before: the herb-licorice mint.

 

“Or any Vulcan waneti,” Spock continued. “My mother was as much a hybrid as I am, if not more.”

 

Saavik also finally understood why he chose to play this music. “Bemonim’s Home Stars suite, a favorite of Amanda’s.” She watched his deep breath lighten his bearing.  A good memory then. “I heard it for the first time when she played it for me.  When I informed her I did not share her appreciation for it, she scowled and said there was no accounting for taste.”

 

His head came up sharply.

 

“I was insulted. I asked her if I must agree with every one of her opinions.  She smiled and said we would get along fine, now that I had learned that lesson.”

 

Spock’s eyebrow somehow climbed higher.

 

“I didn’t know her well then as it was only two months since your fal-tor-pan.  So I did not understand she was teasing.”  Saavik’s voice grew dry. “For better or worse, I learned much about a human’s concept of humor from her.”

 

“In self-defense,” Spock said in understanding.

 

She listened to the music some more.  She had grown to appreciate it, which Amanda never failed to point out as if it was, in some incomprehensible way, a victory.

 

“You begin the life celebration early,” she said, showing interest.    She agreed to come home only to be with him.  And yet, remembering Amanda this way softened Saavik’s reluctance to the holiday.

 

“I saw no harm in it.”  He stirred the pot continually with the airakho. “I was unsure how much of tonight’s ceremony you knew.”

 

That was said carefully. “Understandable. However, I know the customs in general, despite my lack of practicing them.  We begin with the mourning rites, using the fountain’s candles I presume to enter the meditative state?”  He nodded, but also watched her oddly.  She put that aside for now. “As the flames extinguish -- marking the twilight -- we send the Essence mixtures into the wind like the katras themselves.  That ends the first half of the ceremony.  It is believed if the mind is opened through meditation, we are better able to absorb the symbols from the Essence.” She vaulted her eyebrows. “Correct, so far?”

 

His eyes took on a spark.  He knew she teased him.

 

“We observe the remaining ceremony at night, symbolizing the loss of light from those being mourned. However, in spite of that, the life celebration is a time of exultation. In it, we experience favorite items of those lost, our opened mental state once more absorbing a presence of the vanquished katra.  If our own souls reach the Hall of Ancient Thought, we take a spirit of them with us.” She gave the nod she gave her captain. “Is my report satisfactory?”

 

Deadpan, he acknowledged her with a proper, “Quite.”

 

She glanced about, taking in the kitchen and peering into the main room.  Another katra pot with its lid sat on the other end of the counter -- a spare, no doubt. She saw nothing else in the sparse brown and white kitchen, its design along more universal lines than the traditional one at the estate.  But then, the townhouse was built originally as a possible home for aliens.

 

Nothing was different in the main room either, from what she could see at first. The usual furnishings and Spock’s lytherette leaning against the large overstuffed chair that used to be Sarek’s favorite here. Amanda’s old favorite, the loveseat, was easy to pick out with its multi-colored pillows integrating the two shades of terracotta on the walls.

 

But... by going to the archway, she saw the far corner: models for each ship named Enterprise.  Spock chose well again.

 

She returned to him, watching his smooth movements as he turned the cooking pot over its flame, mixing the contents with the motion. The symbol of a person’s inner elements forged into their core. “What else have you chosen for Amanda’s celebration?”

 

“You,” he said.  “She loved you.  You needed to be here.”

 

Amanda leapt from memory, and Saavik’s eyes closed, savoring the answer.  Amanda’s voice, the way she said everything with her eyes, the mind that embraced Vulcan disciplines, and the laugh that was so human.

 

Saavik never felt a lack of parents.  On Hellguard, the concepts of father and mother were strictly biological especially after the colony was abandoned. All traditional views of family disappeared, and never were a part of a discarded hybrid’s life.  After that nightmarish planet, anything was a paradise. The sequence of teachers gave her all she needed: instruction, medical care, and wisdom.  And if they and their Institutions came in rapid series, what of it? Saavik needed the swift pace, first to get civilized before even stepping foot in a school, second to catch up with her agemates. She grew used to the pace and demanded it be kept up. She lacked for nothing from the carefully selected Vulcans and non-Vulcans who prepared her for life in the Federation and entering the Academy.

 

Still, meeting Amanda all those years later on Vulcan -- at last, Vulcan! -- satisfied a hunger Saavik hadn’t known she carried. But being an adult when she met the older woman brought special benefits. They met as equals and it gave them a special sharing in their relationship.  Saavik could and did stay totally open to Amanda, and vice versa. Amanda found some things could only be shared with the outsider who becomes family.  For all the closeness between mother and son, it was something Amanda didn’t have with Spock.  Not better, but different and an unknown hunger Amanda hadn’t known she had.

 

The quiet stayed warm in the room, broken only by the sounds of the meal cooking in the pot and the everyday noises of home.

 

“The other bowls,” she asked at last. “What do they contain?”

 

“I obtained different grains from Jim’s Iowa. I mixed those with lihril and ii’ilo, but for their colors, not their fragrance.”

 

Of course. Lihril, when burned, turned into the sparkling granules – for the stars in which James Kirk served and died.  And ii’ilo, if heated instead of burned, turned hazel.

 

Which left the mystery her curiosity really needed to know, that scent that traveled like lightning along her nerves. “It is the last bowl that made me… more curious.  I could not place the elements you used for the incense ashes.”

 

His glance up was rapid and intense. “You smelled it?”  She nodded; he obviously knew the affect it had on her. “It is my fault for not warning you.  The scent is vi'rhati.”

 

She had only heard of it.  In ancient times, it burned while enemy Houses prepared for battle.  The warriors inhaled it, creating a stronger blood fever.

 

Spock explained, “The incense is used in Reformed times for advanced Gol students. To test their mental disciplines as they study for Kolinahr.”

 

She knew Spock must have passed that test. After all, he was almost awarded the Kolinahr symbol.  Except…

 

He finished the thought for her. “An interesting note to my character, is it not?  That I passed such a trial, and yet my curiosity became my failing.”

 

“A fortunate event for me,” she said.  “For you as well.”

 

They shared a look.  Her statement was a true fact, but its undertones meant more. “Agreed. My studies at Gol gave me much that I use to this day.  However, Kolinahr does not suit me, and I pursued it for the wrong reasons.  As for the vi'rhati, I thought the wildness to it was good for Sybok’s bowl.”

 

“If that scent represents Sybok, I am more curious than ever about your late brother. Have you chosen any other symbols for him?”

 

“I reserved two khu’unla for later--” the only hard, naturally armored survivors from the common ancestor with the vlaittlya, the loyal mounts taken into battle and driven into extinction by the ancient era of the House Wars. “--When we start the life celebration.”

 

“Anything else?”

 

“You, again.”

 

Her head cocked to the side. “Spock, you are well aware I never met Sybok.”

 

“No, a fact I regret.  You are someone he would want to know.” His eyes rested on her in utter satisfaction. This night and having her as a part of it meant more to him than she first thought.  It never occurred to her he tied so many personal links between the ones he lost and her. Amanda, yes, but Sybok?  She suddenly felt his same satisfaction that his brother would have approved of their betrothal.

 

In fact, he was saying, “Sybok reminded me that Vulcan’s heart has always been represented in its bondmates.  It is why I said you are a part of his celebration.”

 

Spock lifted an aromatic bite from the pot, touching it to the bowl of chilled keit grain, the two temperatures balancing each other so the bite may be immediately eaten.  He held it out to Saavik.  She reached for the airakho utensil, and was surprised when he lowered her hand with his free one.

 

In the manner of those betrothed or married, he gently fed her.  His softened voice turned the formal words into something deeply personal.  “Be welcome on your return to our home.”

 

Something in this simple gesture made Saavik believe it rivaled the most intimate in her life. She took his offering, the barest level of moisture from the vegetable and spices lying on her lips.  The tip of her tongue drew this in with an unwitting sensual gesture.  Spock stopped her again, putting down the utensil and cupping her cheek with one hand. With the other, he once more paired his first two fingers and ‘kissed’ her lips with them.

 

Every nerve in her body sang. Breathless, she learned knowing certain customs was vastly different from experiencing them.

 

A lesson he discovered too when he completed the action by bringing his fingers to his mouth. The spiced moisture went from her lips to his. Bonded: what fed the one, fed the other – what sustained the life of one, made the other live.

 

And the touch was exhilarating.

 

When Spock found his voice, it was roughened. “I believe … I must once more acknowledge Sybok’s wisdom, aduna.”

 

Being called wife, after such warmth in his touch... this was why their language had two words for it. Why the word to explain their relationship to others wasn’t enough to be used between them. “Agreed, adun.”

 

They shared the small meal at their table, one communal bowl between them.  The intimacy was still new to them, so she did not feed him since custom didn’t demand it. Years later, once they were married and such closeness was a part of them, she would without thinking.  But now… Spock was the food’s preparer, he gave to the others what he made, not vice versa. She resolved to make the next meal herself. 

 

Being bonded is a fascinating experience.

 

Eventually, he picked up their topic about Sybok’s celebration. “I was able to discover the Academy orchestra rehearses tonight in their practice hall, the one on the outskirts before the desert.  They will play S’Inte’s Modern Nomads.  It makes the perfect accompaniment for a khu’unla ride.”

 

Saavik thought of riding along open ground in the starlit darkness next to Spock...  The orchestra playing rousing music that brought the ancient songs into modern day…  The drums and bass striding with the same fevered beat as their mounts made in their ears.

 

“I was unaware you rode,” she said.  She did.  She learned when she first lived here after his Refusion.

 

“I did not until my last visit home.  It will be at least one celebration of Sybok. And Jim always had a fondness for horses. It makes a strong beginning for the evening.  From the khu’unla, we can move to a variety of places the three we honor enjoyed in ShiKahr.  Music again – if you wish -- in a variety of styles, friends they made if we want a crowd, dance--” 

 

He kept amazing her tonight. “Dance?”

 

“Yes.  Amanda, after all, taught us both.  It is something to celebrate her life, although I suggest it may be a more private thing.”

 

She regarded him tenderly. “I give you fair warning.  I am out of practice.  I have not danced since that night with you at the ShiKahr ball.”

 

“Nor have I.  This makes a good opportunity to re-learn, does it not?”

 

She agreed it did.  “Your plans intrigue me.  I never expected so much, especially the insights they give.” She leaned across the table. “Especially regarding Sybok since we never met. Will you tell me more about him?”

 

His eyebrows drew together, the lines in his forehead deepening, and his voice turning grave. “I do not know if you are ready to hear the most important thing about him.”

 

“Shaka-Ri?”

 

“I stand corrected. One of the most important things about him.”  He paused, and at length quoted, “Each of us hides a secret pain.”

 

He made no sense, and the reluctance in his voice confused her more.  But Spock, once committed, followed through with his choices.  He waved a hand towards the fountain in the garden foyer, the same odd expression he had earlier.  The three candles still floated in the large, bottom level – safe from the upper three tiers, which cascaded water downward.  Slight ripples creased the surface, making – her eyes widened – a fourth candle drift from around the rear.

 

Her eyes swung to the fourth Essence bowl on the counter.  She nearly ran to it, and with a quick motion, opened the lid. The captured scents escaped into the air. Not a spare bowl after all.

 

She turned back on him, eyes hardening. “Who is this one for?” 

 

He raised an eyebrow, calm in spite of the edge in the words. “It may be for one or many.  It depends on you.”

 

She expected the answer; it didn’t make it easier to hear. “Do not ruin the evening, Spock!”

 

“The fact that you could say so points to how deeply you keep this pain with you.  Your Vulcan parent died on Hellguard.  So did other Vulcans as well as hybrids like yourself.”

 

The seeds and incense from the opened bowl smelled strong.  With a small portion of her mind, she identified the main ingredient as the fragrance used for tranquility, even burned for couples during pon farr. The essence symbolizing peace.  She turned her back on him and walked away.  You knew not to pursue this topic, Spock!

 

He followed her from the dining table to the main room. “I am not arguing this, nor do I force you.  But I do believe you must face this, and not for me.”

 

She looked at him over her shoulder. “Do you believe I am here for any other reason?  I already celebrate this ceremony for you.”

 

He stepped closer. “I know. However, if you go any further in this particular mourning, it must be for yourself.”

 

“What would you have me do?” Unfortunate for him that the greater controls she learned over time never included keeping from him exactly what she thought. “My parent died brutally far from home, tortured with the worst possible shame for my creation.  And I killed some of the people you’d have me mourn, Spock.  Am I now to be a hypocrite in this rite?”

 

“Mourn that you and they existed in an environment where such violence forced your actions.  For once, see that you are excused from any guilt for those days.”

 

She remembered the dying light in her victims’ eyes.  Forgiveness never existed in them. “And after the mourning?  How do I celebrate their lives?  I knew none of them!”

 

“You do not believe your life is not already a celebration?  Whoever your parent was, he or she explored space, challenged and curious by what they may find.  You do the same.”

 

“That exploration caused their rape and death.”

 

“The people of Hellguard caused it.  A crime is never the fault of the victims or the bystanders.”

 

She spun on him in a slow circle, hushed now. “Given that, I ask you again.  How do I dare celebrate those I murdered?”

 

He let out a long, deep breath, and his eyes shut. “I thought you had learned the difference.”

 

The worst thing was, she had.  Long ago, she released herself from the guilt of surviving Hellguard.  But this night brought it back, buried but never gone.

 

She wet her lips, and moved close to him, her voice still hushed. “Let me celebrate this night for Amanda and the others you mourn.”  The rest… let me put it aside for now.

 

He stared into her for a long silence, before answering with same muted tone. “As you wish.”

 

She glanced out the window. Dusk settled in an hour. She needed to get ready. “I will return shortly.” 

 

He let her go, watching as she crossed the kitchen instead of taking the main staircase. She reached up, removing the pins keeping her hair swept behind her ears per regulations.  The mourning rites specified no adornments.  Later, after the first half of the ceremony, she planned wearing jewelry Amanda once gave her -- a necklace, arm cuffs, and a ring -- as well more vivid colored clothing.  Attire better suited for the life celebration.

 

“Saavik?”  Spock’s hand rested on the fourth Essence bowl. “Should I empty this?”

 

Her intent look moved from it to the candle in the fountain.  “Leave them.” 

 

She went to shower and change from her Starfleet clothing to appropriate dress.


Part III – Thespia

 

Saavik showered and changed with the quick, smooth efficiency she had been taught by her Vulcan teachers. The plain robes seemed to flow down from her shoulders, creating the illusion of a height. Though Saavik was, indeed, tall, Spock was still several Terran inches taller than she. When she descended, feeling refreshed by the shower, Spock was waiting for her by the fountain. "How many candles?"

"All of them," she replied. Spock nodded and, lifting two candles from the water, carried them over to the table the Essence bowls sat upon, now numbering four instead of three. Saavik picked up the other two candles and followed him. Twilight had descended upon the garden, leaving only the stars to help the candles illuminate the dim garden. As they stood at either end of the table, the flickering candles cast shadows upon Spock's face opposite hers, lending the familiar planes and angles a mask-like cast.

Spock was the first to speak, his low, velvet-rough voice quiet and calm, as always. "We come here to both mourn and celebrate the lives of those who have passed from this world. Each was a unique and special being. As long as at least one being remembers them, they will never be forgotten. Tonight, two of us are remembering these beings."

Spock nodded to Saavik and, as she stared into the candle flames, she began to mentally recite the Disciplines, I am Saavik, Daughter of Vulcan…


Part IV – Caz

 

Spock nodded to Saavik and, as she stared into the fluttering candle flames, she began to recite the Disciplines within her mind. I am Saavik, Daughter of Vulcan; I am Saavik, aduna of Spock. The mind rules…the mind controls…

She came back to the living world slowly, her eyes adjusting to the velvet darkness that now completely enveloped the garden, drinking deep of the pure, rarefied air of this arid alien land that had lately become her home. The wavering light of the candles were now extinguished, the essence bowls empty, their contents whisked silently, almost mystically, away by a breeze that idly stirred the wind chimes into sweet song, and sighed among chakh' stems and Amanda's yellow roses alike. It was a ghostly susurration, the collective voices of plaintive spirits, a sound that brought the short hairs on the back of her neck standing abruptly on end.

While the Terran blooms in the garden had closed their petals against the coolness of oncoming night, half a dozen native plants had opened their own. As she inhaled sharply, shutting her mind and heart to the desolate, rustling murmurings within and without her mind, the many enticing fragrances of shmaru and tsinan, pa'nori and ramakia joined with the strong cinnamon aroma of desert sands to overwhelm her senses. Yet, it was the faint but evocative scent of Spock's skin that assaulted her awareness most of all.

She raised her eyes to study his face, only to find that she was already the center of his undivided attention. In the long silence of the look he gave her, Saavik suddenly felt her thoughts disturbed by a startling grief. Spock's eyes had acquired a disquieting anguish, their velvet depths troubled like windswept water, a look that drove everything from her mind except his desolation. As she continued to watch, a lone tear welled up, quivered on his lower lashes for an instant before slowly spilling over onto his cheek. Unashamed of the translucent droplet shining upon his skin, he allowed it to remain where it had fallen glittering in the light of the fifty thousand stars that wheeled in eternal, stately dance above their heads. He had tried to teach her that, not to be ashamed of who and what she was, but she was slow to learn that valuable lesson.

Did he cry for those he had lost, Saavik wondered, his mother still sorely missed, his brother found and then taken away again, or his one-time captain, more-than-brother, James Kirk, the one person, either Human or Vulcan, he had named t'hy'la? But somewhere deep within her psyche, she knew that the solitary tear could only be for her own devastating refusal to recognize those fallen ones of her own, her unwillingness to exonerate both the living and the dead.

Gently, Saavik dared to extend her hand. Hesitant, tentative, she scooped up the miniscule droplet and brought it to her lips, savoring it on her tongue. The tear had a flavor not unlike riman wine, slightly coppery, slightly sweet. "Thee should not cry for me," she whispered softly, "I am unworthy of so great a gift, my adun."

In answer, he gently stroked a finger across her brow and cheek, until finally resting it upon the katra point at her temple, mouth quirked in that almost smile, the sorrow still evident in his shadowed eyes. "Should I not be the judge of that, my aduna?"

Her pulse jumped at his touch. Spock had befriended her ever since that long ago rescue attempt on Hellguard. She had observed his premature death and his reincarnation by the Genesis effect. Only when she had saved him from the fires of pon-farr and the plak-tow fever had she realized that her regard for him was not that of a daughter for a father but of a woman for a man. Moreover, despite the difference in their ages, she had the unique experience of witnessing his growth, much as he had witnessed hers, from childhood, through adolescence, early manhood and finally to the way he was now. She would have done anything to save him from any further hurt. But even ashamed as she was by her own obduracy, on this particular issue she would not, could not, comply with his unspoken expectations. "Spock, I…"

"It is of no matter, Saavik'kham. I understand."

"It does matter. I do not wish to … disappoint thee."

"Thee is mistaken, my aduna. I am not in the least disappointed. I find nothing but virtue in every aspect of thy bearing and personality. I wish only that thee could find peace as I do at this time."

"That I … cannot do, Spock. Not yet. Maybe never." Her chin lifted, intractable, resolute.

"Then, so be it." Looking at her set face and flashing eyes, he was hauntingly reminded of the starving, savage little urchin she had once been, hungry for food and shelter and someone to trust, but most of all for the stars. "If thee permits it, I will continue to mourn for both of us."

Resonant grunting sounds and the soft clatter of padded hoofs outside the high garden wall broke their absorption in each other. Spock quietly cleared his throat, his distinctive light baritone husky as he murmured, "The khu'unla have arrived, I believe…."

"So it would appear." For a moment, she laid a gentle hand upon his cheek, a plea for continued understanding. "I must dress…"

"So must I…"

"Indeed…?"

"Most certainly."

As they reluctantly drew apart, Spock loosely encircled her elbow with his long fingers and led her back to the house. They separated physically only when they reached the upper hallway that led to their individual chambers – and even then, their mental link prevailed.

Hurriedly, Saavik brushed her hair before braiding the thickly curling, willful strands with an abundance of white ribbon shmaru blooms. She arranged the jewelry pieces Amanda had gifted to her about neck and upper arm, watching her reflection in the long mirrored glass as the red gems in armlet and pendent cast crimson warmth across her skin. Lastly, she draped a voluminous burgundy kaatan over the neutral plainness of her other robes, belting it tightly with a jeweled and mirrored girdle about her slim waist. She slipped Amanda's ruby ring over the knuckle of the first finger on her left hand, declaring to anyone who looked her bonded state.

However, despite her haste in getting dressed, Spock still managed to reach the waiting khu'unla before her, taking over responsibility for them from the temple acolyte who had everyday custody of the enormous creatures.

The beasts, a mated pair, were neither domesticated nor tame. Yet, they allowed Spock to hold onto their jingling, belled and tasseled harness without undo alarm. As she approached, they tossed their great triangular armored heads; rough manes flying, snorting out huge plumes of hot vapor through dilated nostrils. Steeds, they were, descended from long ago war-mounts, riding animals now, kept under control only by the soothing mental contact of their Vulcan guardians and individual riders. They had as much parallel with a Terran horse as did a triceratops. The female of the pair reached down her thick neck to snuffle at the ribbon shmaru in Saavik's hair, the prehensile upper lip delicately examining the decorative blooms. Once the beast discovered the flowers were artificial and no good to eat, however, she threw her head up again, grinding fearsome teeth, trumpeting her derision into the darkness. The male echoed the bellow, sidling on its four, keratinous, two-toed, ponderous feet, taking Spock with it as he clung onto both bridles, lifting him at least five feet off the ground and swinging him wildly from side to side between the two enormous animals.

"Kohya," Saavik called to the unpredictable pair, hastily radiating impulses of calm and friendship, her tone soft, cajoling, though khu'unla did not easily respond to such enticement from those they did not know. "Kohya, khu'unla ch'kahoka, adunyu. Be gentle now, great ones. Be still. Do not harm my mate. See what I have obtained for thee."

From beneath the flowing kaatan, she brought out two of the tender kaferian apples she had filched from the fruit bowl on leaving the house, and held them out on her palm, keeping her fingers out of the way. The khu'unla flung up their horned heads, extending amethyst tongues, and each took an apple with a daintiness that belied their great size and strength. Spock managed to find his feet as they munched contentedly on the fruit, having put aside their former ire.

His features were concealed within the folds of the maroon hood that had fallen forward over his face, but when he spoke there was a marked reticence in his tone, "Perhaps I was overconfident in my abilities when I suggested this venture, Saavik'kham. It may be less dangerous if we walked to the concert."

In his impromptu flight heavenwards, one of the khu'unla's three prominent tusks, had caught him a glancing blow in a most unfortunate and sensitive place. Once more, he had to blink away tears, this time of acute pain. Saavik managed to stifle the unVulcan-like mirth that suddenly assailed her, the response to her natural relief at his safe return to solid ground.

"Of course, if that is thy wish, my adun." She would not laugh and shame him, yet the effort to contain it almost had her choking. "However, I believe our khu'unla's fondness for kaferian apples will keep them agreeable."

"Thee has more?" Spock asked, his gaze traveling intently up and down her body in search of their hiding place.

"Indeed, an ample enough supply, I believe." She murmured, suddenly experiencing a most improper heat at his close appraisal. She retrieved another two fruits and gave them to him. "Trust me, Spock- adun. Thee will be quite all right."

"I am gratified to hear it." Spock declared, his voice dry, and managed to refrain from informing her that he had spent the last four months trying to develop an amicable acquaintance with these particular khu'unla or, at least, one that allowed him to mount and ride with a modicum of expertise, something she had accomplished in a matter of minutes. The relationship had not included kaferian apples, however! Perhaps he had been negligent in that regard.

Saavik cooed at the male, uttering whimsical trivialities that obviously had no basis in either logic or fact. She spoke of his beauty, of how fine his teeth were, how luxurious his mane was – and to Spock's surprise, the huge creature responded by lowering its head, waiting to be petted. It rumbled low in its throat as Saavik scratched between the massive horns, communicating mentally as well as physically her desire to ascend onto its back.

"His name is Munta." She stated after a moment. "He seems agreeable to a ride in the desert with us."

"His mate also." Spock commented, as he struck the female high on her thick-skinned shoulder, his touch allowing a degree of mental contact. At the signal, and with the added incentive of a kaferian apple, she obligingly sank to her knees and extended a foreleg. Spock stepped lightly onto the proffered limb and from there boosted himself onto the opulently embellished and generously cushioned riding seat, the audaj. Immediately, Hualat, for that was the khu'unla's name, surged upright once more. Even with the experience gained over the last four months, the swiftness of her rise almost sent him tumbling head over heels onto the ground. He saved himself from a discomforting fall only by clutching hastily at the padded audaj rings; the reins slipping through them as Hualat spun round in a rapid circle. She circled again – and a third time, before he managed to gain control and straighten her out.

"Wind thy legs around the pommel," Saavik called out, her tone helpful. "Sit further back on the audaj and do not jerk the reins. Finger and thumb, that's all thee needs, Spock-adun."

Meekly, he obeyed, pondering on the reversal of their specific roles. He shifted his grip, and Hualat's powerful body tensed between his thighs, obviously interpreting the slight adjustment as a command. Before he could properly react, she rushed forward, shaking her massive head, recklessly careering down the pedestrian way while he could do nothing more than just hang onto the audaj horn.

Mercifully, with the katra fi’ Salan well under way, the quiet street remained empty and there was no one but Saavik to witness his ignominious advance. He had wanted to remember Sybok and James Kirk, excellent riders both, in this symbolic journey. However, he had not expected to duplicate that other wild flight on Nimbus III quite so authentically. He recalled his previous agonizing ride with the clarity of nightmare. The rough jouncing atop the alien tsemu had caused him severe physical inflammation for several days, a minor detail that nevertheless exacerbated his distress at the loss of his half-brother. With Saavik only on leave for these few days, he did not wish to be so incapacitated again, even for a short time.

The few other houses on the avenue, each surrounded by its high wall, decorated with night blooming flowers and aglow with ceremonial lanterns, flashed by him in a blur of motion. Gathering himself, the thunder of Hualat's hoofs in his ears, he shut his eyes and leaned forward, his fingers parting the thick swathe of black mane to touch the khu'unla's exposed neck. Hualat's thoughts came to him, fierce and wild, exultant with her impetuous headlong rush, further intoxicated by Spock's alarm. Yet, she heard his silent entreaty, listened to his request to slow her frenzied pace – or maybe it was the thought of munching on the kaferian apple that he promised her that brought her to an abrupt, skidding, halt.

It was several seconds before Saavik and Munta caught up with them. It had taken all of Saavik's considerable riding skills to stay in sight of her errant husband's madcap flight and she was breathing hard her hair, loosened from its multitude of artificial blooms, fluttering about her face in the cool breeze. Gravely, first ascertaining he was unhurt, she regarded him with a particularly solemn expression, a light of impish glee flickering in the depths of her eyes. "I…did not realize thee rode so well, my adun. However, is it not a little … inappropriate… for such rash feats of daring on the evening of katra fi’ Salan…?"

Spock did not fail to interpret her look, yet he inclined his head, as well mannered as his wife. "We also commemorate the lives of those we have lost, Saavik-aduna. I merely recreated an event in the past known to both Jim and Sybok."

"Of course." She agreed, recalling a phrase that Doctor McCoy, if present, might well have uttered at that point. In a pig's eye, she thought, and deftly impelled Munta into a ground-eating lope as she took the lead. The entrance to the open-air amphitheatre where the Academy orchestra played that evening was a narrow cleft carved by ancient volcanic activity into the heart of towering red sandstone cliffs. Once inside, the fissure tapered to little more than three meters in width, while the walls loomed up hundreds of meters on either side. The cleft, twisted and turned, the only light that of the stars shining down from above.

Saavik and Spock, still seated on their khu'unla mounts, were no longer alone. They joined the tail end of a procession comprised of ShiKahr's inhabitants intent on celebrating katra fi’ Salan, having earlier made their way along the dusty, paved, trail that led from the outskirts of the city to the very edge of the desert. Dressed in robes dyed in every shade of red, from the deepest ruby to the brightest crimson, the silent, superbly poised men, women, and children carried bunches of the tiny white, star-shaped ramakia blooms or wore in their hair and fastened to their robes, the faintly luminescent moonflower, the blossoms symbolic of katra fi’ Salan.

Even though the small knots of people were hushed, Saavik sensed the underlying ambience that united them all in unspoken communication. As they slowly traversed the meandering chasm, she and Spock knee to knee, the khu'unla quiescent beneath them, a single drumbeat began to pound, reverberating through the gently shifting air. A moment later, another joined it, and then another, until the rock walls throbbed with a complicated yet harmonious rhythm, like the great thundering heartbeat of the planet. The sound filled Saavik's mind, sang in her blood, and stirred some deep, elemental part of her that had, so far, remained aloof. Caught up in the booming roar, almost hypnotized, she found herself swaying gently from side to side. She reached across to Spock, two of her fingers extended. Without hesitation, he placed his own fingers against hers, an acceptable display of public affection.

Again, Saavik felt that small frisson of disquiet as she became aware of the ongoing communion; the focused attention of many hundreds of people like identical but individual sparks in a fire, or indistinct grains of sand in the desert. All there, and perhaps even those beyond ShiKahr's borders, were one mind, one heart, one thought, intent on those they had lost…

Saavik shivered at the reflection, the gooseflesh springing up along her arms, her scalp prickling with mingled apprehension and awe, an illogical panic coursing along her nerves. The fissure had narrowed even more, the high walls arching overhead, all but shutting out the starlight.

Sensitive to her unease, Spock raised an eyebrow enquiringly; his dark eyes concerned. "I am with thee, Saavik'kham. There is nothing here to cause thee harm. Soon we shall be out in the open once more."

Grateful for his tenderness, she inclined her head, intent on controlling her erratic breathing and the abrupt pounding of her heart. Yet, despite all her efforts it continued to hammer irregularly against her lower ribs. The past stirred in the deepest reaches of her mind. Each of us hides a secret pain, Spock had said. It was a strange statement for him to make, especially on such an occasion as katra fi’ Salan. Was it a quotation, one of the Vulcan Ways? While still a student, she had deliberated on many of the Vulcan devotions but she was sure she had never come across that particular declaration. Perhaps the avowal originated from James Kirk's Terran heritage. Over his long and distinguished career, Kirk had witnessed countless deaths, and been the cause of several more. Had he not lost his own son, David to a brutal and unnecessary Klingon attack? The gravest wound any parent could face, to have offspring taken from them in such a terrible manner and before their time. She, too, had cared deeply for David. Yet, instead of dwelling on the way he had died in her arms, his lifeblood draining away into the earth of the Genesis Planet, she preferred to recall the impulsive radiance of his intellect, his youthful rashness, … and his humanity. The berserker rage that had overtaken her at his death, the way she had clamped her hands around the throat of one of her Klingon captors and refused to let him go, that she pushed deep into her subconscious. A different Saavik had done those terrible things, a Saavik that no longer existed.

 

Calmly she withdrew her fingers, breaking the elegant embrace she shared with Spock, taking up Munta's reins with both hands once more. I have no secret pain, she declared forcefully within her mind. Spock is mistaken. The past is the past; it has no power over me.

Yet, she was overwhelmingly appreciative to see the orange glow of torchlight ahead, flickering against the pale red sandstone through the further opening that led into the giant semicircle of the amphitheatre, large enough to hold the entire population of ShiKahr. Almost without her realizing it, the ponderous booming of the drums had given way to the softer but no less enthralling sound of voices. The chant rose from a formless humming that rippled through the crowd before them, into a disconcerting, deep-throated susurrus that continued to transform as they finally entered the auditorium.

Spock directed Hualat into a wide aisle that sliced upwards as the throng dispersed along the tiered stands. The female khu'unla remained docile as they continued to climb upwards towards the cliff top, overawed by the wordless but articulate communication that thrummed upon the air, the orange light from a mass of flaring torches illuminating the solemn, transfixed faces of the crowd. They swayed back and forth in time to the music; one step backward, a step to the right, one step forward, another step to the left; heel and toe, heel and toe, moving in isolated unison joined as if by an invisible string, never and always touching and touched…

The sacred song's timbre altered, became counterpoint to the drums once again, the tempo quickening, indefatigable and remorseless. Spock reined in Hualat at the summit of the rock face, a wide, flat plateau at their back, the semicircular auditorium before them, leaving room for Saavik and Munta to stand nearby.

The view from the cliff top was unobstructed, magnificent and Saavik's heart thundered in time to the booming roar, her breath coming quick and shallow as she gazed down at the unadorned proscenium fifty meters below.


Part IV – Jalryn

In the arid desert night, the orchestra continued to play on the stark wooden stage, haloed in the fluttering light from the surrounding torches, their mesmerizing tempo mounting. The pulse beat of the drums gaining speed until finally they climaxed in a heart stopping crash of thunderous sound. Saavik, stunned by the ensuing silence, stared down over the bowed heads of the citizens of ShiKahr to where the Hall of Souls spread out into the red sands of the desert. The tall sandstone walls glimmered faintly in the light of the stars. The asenarah, Vulcan memory lanterns, dangled from each narrow window that studded the façade of the domed tower, swinging freely on thick silver chains, each link representing the soul being added to the Family's commemoration vault.

Saavik knew that the chain of Spock's Family swung somewhere in the light evening breeze. She watched the flickering lights of the many lamps, wondering silently which lantern belonged to them. As if in answer to her unspoken thoughts, Spock leaned across, murmuring directly into her ear so that he could be heard above the renewed chanting.

"Our vault is on the lowest level of the tower. It is not visible from here." Saavik followed his example as he dismounted quickly, handing their reins to a nearby temple acolyte. He looked at her, one brow quirked. "Shall we?"

Together, they descended from the cliff top down a narrow rock path toward the Hall of Souls. Small rocks skittered away from them, bouncing off the steep edge of the path as they once more joined the procession that traveled from ShiKahr to offer reverence to the katras of their lost kin.

A new sound intruded upon Saavik's awareness and gradually grew louder as she and Spock approached the domed Hall, yet she was unable to place the strange resonance. Slowly, they drew near to the black granite and marble wall that stood as a monument to those they remembered. Long and winding, it meandered over the sands behind the Hall, growing with each generation that added to it. Some time in the past, a forebearer had begun to turn the wall into a maze, and

guides now waited to assist the bereaved to find their way to the individual vaults. Saavik knew that Spock had chosen offerings with his usual extreme care; for Amanda there were yellow rose petals from a single bloom of a favorite bush, still blush with full bloom; for Kirk, a rolled parchment, the old Vulcan script meticulously inscribed in Spock's own hand. He had chosen a particularly apt adage: Do not walk in front of me, I may not follow. Do not walk behind me, I may not lead. Just walk beside me and be my friend.. .

Sybok's soul offering had been his most difficult choice. The two sons of Sarek had been separated for many years; Spock had not known his brother well. Spock had spoken at length with Saavik over his preparations. Only after much deliberation had he finally decided to

remember his lost sibling with a single branch from the golden flame tree that still grew in the courtyard of their family home.

They had often sat as boys together under its low hanging branches. Sybok enjoyed reading to his younger brother and Spock hung on every word of the controversial recitation. The branch of the tree, cut into sprigs now nestled with the scroll and rose petals in a bag around Spock's waist.

Without need of the waiting guide, Saavik and Spock entered the maze, their steps sure and unhurried. Descended from the venerated line of Surak, the family vault lay near the center of the maze. Spock loosened the string of his carry bag and reverently placed each of his offerings in the waiting compartments. He held Saavik's fingers loosely within his own, palm to palm, as he keyed in the coded sequence on the recessed panel and watched the transparent lid close over his precious offerings. When he turned to depart, Saavik hesitated, not quite ready to go. She spoke through their link. Wait…do not leave yet….

"Saavik-am?" He questioned softly, looking at her with the concern only she could discern, noting her solemn face and eyes darkened with uncertainty. She paid no heed to the orderly line of mourners who followed on behind them, merely stepping aside to let them pass, drawing Spock with her out of the way. She gazed up at him, her voice calm but hesitant. "I can never truly forget my past, Spock. But I understand that I must reconcile it with the present so that I can

proceed with our future…"

She opened her mind to him, along with her heart. "I offer a compromise, my Adun. I will mourn not for the lost souls of Thieurrull, for I cannot. But I will mourn for the lost innocence that those souls never knew."

She reached into a hidden pocket and drew forth her own ni'monik. The memory offering lay glinting dully in her outstretched palm as she held it out for Spock to see.


Part V – Rena

 

An old knife lay in Saavik's outstretched hand, the dull blade gleaming in the soft, golden light of the flickering torches.  She glanced up at Spock in silence, her eyes locking with Spock's dark eyes.  Both remembered the day he found Saavik on Thieurrull, a small child of around ten years with a knife gleaming in her hand. 

Spock's upswept eyebrow rose out of curiosity.  He did not question Saavik's intentions to place the memory offering with the others he put into the compartments. Silently, Spock allowed Saavik to place the small knife into one of the compartments to commemorate the lost souls from Saavik's past.

 

It was not the same knife that she had left in the black-hearted devil of a Romulan on Hellguard, but it was more than similar to that friend and protector she had carried as a child. It was well done, she realized as a new feeling of peace settled about her.  Saavik met Spock's calm gaze, her own alight with a gleam of mischievous humor.  "Did thee not say something about a celebratory dance, my Adun?  The plateau above the amphitheatre seems a most logical place to practice our steps..."

 

Saavik and Spock retraced their steps to the domed Hall, allowing the mourners to pass through in the other direction toward their families' vaults. Saavik felt peace settle into her soul as if a heavy weight lifted off her shoulders, thinking back to the memory offering she placed inside one of the compartments to commemorate the lost souls of Thieurrull or Hellguard as the Romulan guards once called the forsaken planet of her birth. She had seen approval glimmer in Spock's dark eyes earlier. The knife served its purpose as an offering this night. Saavik finally understood what Katra fi' Salan was about....

The booming drums still vibrated in the Vulcan night as the two newly bonded adults traversed the precarious rock path to the cliff top. Their palms barely touched, fingers loosely locked together. An acceptable form of public affection. There were other Vulcans ahead of Saavik and Spock making their way back to the top as others made their way down. Their ornate robes brushed along the dusty path, small peebles falling off into the depths of the domed Hall. The feverish music still pounded in the background, sending electrifying currents throughout the souls of ShiKahr's residents including Saavik and Spock.

Under the stars, the couple overlooked the open-air amphitheatre once more before she turned to Spock with a questioning look on her face.

"Spock, if we're to celebrate tonight with a dance, I have a question to ask", Saavik's voice got lost in the continual sound of booming drums below the plateau.

"Tonight is ours to celebrate, Saavikam", Spock replied, holding up one finger to silence his wife's lips, the question she was about to ask did not come forth. He still mused over the old habit Saavik still carried with her from her younger days, but this night, he wanted to celebrate life with his new wife and show her, in his own way, how he felt about her.

James T. Kirk once taught Spock an old Earth tradition during the years they spent aboard U.S.S. Enterprise. Spock would teach Saavik this tradition, studying the young woman in the soft starlight for a moment. A tradition that would honor Amanda for her humanity, Sybok for his passion, Kirk for his friendship and the lost souls of Thieurrull for their innocence.

Saavik thought she saw a glimmer of something akin to humor in his eyes. Her eyebrow shot up in question. Spock never ceased to amaze her, one moment he's totally Vulcan in every aspect and the next moment he's totally human in another aspect. She watched him reach forward with an open hand to take one of her hands into his gentle but strong grasp. Saavik sucked in a breath sharply from the warm touch of Spock's elegantly long hand, powerful emotions swirling in her soul as she still gazed at him. His eyes mirrored those same emotions.

An orchestra of booming drums ceased in the background as they became lost in their own world, Spock taking the lead in their dance with Saavik. Nothing else mattered to them except their own eyes locking in a steady gaze. His palm pressed against hers, they started out together with sweeping sidesteps, their bodies not quite touching but close enough for them to feel each other's movement along the dry ground.

The husband and wife waltzed to their own music, thoughts and emotions flowing freely between the two. Oblivious to the booming music and the Vulcans in their long procession to meditate upon their own deceased, Spock and Saavik danced beneath the stars as one.

The night was still quite young and far from over in their celebration....


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