The needs of the new
He slowly closed the file he had been reading and waved the datastream away. He was just considering to call security when the whitish heap on his floor uttered a sound that could be argued to be a moan. Possibly a groan, he could never quite grasp the difference. The heap started to move as he looked on in fascination, arms and a head becoming visible when his visitor disentangled himself, and eventually stood up to look at him.
“Greetings,” he and the stranger said at the same time. Da’an blushed slightly at the unexpected echo. Closer observation was in order, he decided, since clearly this was no matter to be dealy with lightly.
The stranger was tall, though not unusually so, and was wearing a long, while robe that somehow seemed to suit his posure, although Da’an thought it must be highly impractical. The sleeves were much wider at the end than at the beginning, and heavily banded; the front was adorned with brown lines forming a geometrical pattern. The garb complemented a stately and confidential stance. As he noticed the arched eyebrows and pointed ears of the robed male – for it was clearly a male – he blushed more deeply than before. These physiological characteristics gainsaid his initial impression that this man was human. He held out a hand in a rigid gesture that vaguely reminded him of –
“My apologies for so unexspectedly entering your – ” he made a quick sweep of his surroundings, “office.” The Taelon merely bowed his head slightly in answer, but the stranger didn’t seem daunted.
“I am Spock,” he said instead.
He instantly remembered and dismissed a late psychiatrist by that name. That one had been human. “You may call me Da’an,” he replied neutrally, wondering if he should have called security after all. The man did not seem either hostile or dangerous, however, so he decided to keep matters into his own hands for the time being.
“Da’an,” Spock repeated. “Could you perhaps tell me where I am?”
“Of course. As you have already so accurately guessed, you are in my office. This building is the Taelon Embarry in Washington.” His hands moved easily in an intricate gesture.
Spock was silent for a while, evidently processing his information, then he admitted: “I do not understand.”
I had not thought you would, Da’an thought. Yet, it had to be tested. “Can you tell me where you are from?” he asked aloud, tilting his head curiously to the side.
“I am a representative to the United Federation of Planets. I was returning to the 23rd century with my shipmates when – ” He didn’t finish his sentence. “I do not quite remember.”
“Now it is my turn to lack comprehension. You represent this United Federation of Planets on your travels through time?” A large empire, most likely powerful and highly advanced his Taelon upbringing automatically analysed. He dismissed it as unimportant. The man interested him more than the size of his empire.
“No,” the man said. “The time travel was accidental initially. We were merely returning home.”
“And where is your home?” Da’an inquired, pleased his visitor was answering questions so readily.
“Vulcan,” Spock replied instantly. “But to most of my shipmates, Earth is home.” When he saw the other’s confusion, he added: “If you possess accurate starcharts, I could show you.”
Da’an considered this request, but not for long. He gracefully rose and stepped off the platform, and gestured Spock to follow him to a separate Datastream. He did not wish any of his activities concerning this stranger to be monitored by the Mothership. Spock followed obediently and came to stand close by his side to look at the charts he waves up, with not a hint of the deference humans usually showed members of his race. How refreshing.
The charts were set up in a Taelon manner, Da’an suddenly realized, and had never been converted to english standards. The man by side did not seem to mind it, though. He watched him closely as he operated the controls, and after only a short while pointed out: “These are the coordinates, I assume. If you will allow me.” He reached out, and Da’an stepped aside. At his permission, Spock experimentally touched the holographic buttons in front of him. His actions quickly gained speed.
“Here,” he pointed out after a few detours though the system, “is Vulcan.” He then proceeded to state a series of facts about the planet and its astronomical environment, which Da’an – if he was entirely truthful, had some difficulty keeping up with. His remarks showed of great scientific insighy, and although the science was not a problem for Da’an, the unusual references were.
“And you say your people call themselves Vulcans.”
“The humans call us that. We find it adequate.”
“I see. He looked at the man who was calmly observing him. “I look forward to learning more about your people at a later time. I assume that you are at the moment unable to return to your time?”
“Indeed,” Spock answered stoically. “Unless you have very advanced technology, the chances that I wil return to where I belong are 5398766.4 to 1.” He raised an eyebrow. “It is extremely unlikely,” he then clarified.
It is unlikely that we possess very advanced technology? Da’an thought with amusement. But I will not tell you about that just yet; your stories sound very incredible, and I do not understand why you share so much information with me without having received any reassurances that you will not be harmed. “In that case, allow me to see you to my quarters, where you can refresh yourself and rest,” he spoke.
“This is customary?” Spock inquired with yet another raised eyebrow.
“Unconventional,” Da’an admitted. “But you will be save there.”
Why have I done this? Da’an wondered as he looked at the pointed eared man who was now asleep in his quarters. Protocol demanded he alert security at the first of the intruder, yet he had not done so, and only very briefly considered it. Why? he wondered now.
In the privacy of his own quarters they had talked more, while he had provided his guest with refreshments. They had spoken, very neutrally, about their respective cultures. Vulcans were nothing like humans, he had quickly understood. If anything, they were more like Taelons had once been – before the wars. Spock had proven to be highly intelligent, sharp, strictly logical, and therefor calm and reasonable. Da’an had found himself talking to this stranger more easily and unreservedly than he had been able to talk to anyone for a long time. He had explained how all Taelons were linked together through the Commonality, and how this allowed them to maintain a highly evolved civilization where not even death, when it finally came, could separate the essences of the deceased from the collective consciousness. Spock had found this fascinating, and had drawn up an analogy with his own species, who had escaped a barbaric and violent past by collectively adapting the teachings of Surak, and starting a new age where logic and the extreme control of emotions had made it possible for them to make great advances. He had also told of the katra, the essence of each Vulcan, that was preserved after death. This in turn had led Da’an to inquire after the teachings of Surak more presicely, and led him to speak of the violent past of the Taelons, embodied by the Atavus. It had been late before Da’an had realized that if his visitor were to have any sleep tonight, he would have to cut their conversation short. The Vulcan had agreed that it was the logical thing to do, and after a meditation curiously regarded and almost recognized by Da’an, he went to sleep.
Da’an didn’t sleep. Thoughts haunted him of what would happen to the Vulcan if the Synod, and especially Zo’or, would find out that Da’an was hiding him here. They would want to debrief him, in the very least, and most likely study him to see what advantages his physiology could offer them. I will not allow that! he thought vehemently. If anything could be learned from Spock that could benefit the Taelon race, he would do the learning himself. With integrity.
And Liam…he should not know either. The young hybrid had hardly trusted him on anything lately, not listening to any of his counsel but only battering him about his supposed lack of morality. What did he, or the Synod for that matter, know about trying to keep yourself standing between two opposing parties, carefully navigation between prejudice and farfetched feelings of superiority? He had tried to teach Liam, but the child had chosen sides firmly, no longer trying to be subtle. And if he were to try and see his uninvited guest home savely, subtlty would be much needed. And pragmatism.
Also, he admitted to himself reluctantly, he had found the Vulcan to be pleasant company. There had been so few lately whom he considered as pleasant company.
Spock awoke to the smell of food being brought in. He rearranged his garment as he stood up to greet his host, who with a graceful bow placed a plate on a table-like structure growing out of the floor. Sleep had done him good; he felt less dizzy than he had the night before, and the fog that had been in his mind earlier seemed to have cleared up.
“I now recall more of the events that let to my appearing here,” he stated to the elegant being who stood by the window, gazing at him with what he interpreted as wonder.
“Tell me of it,” the Taelon requested. Spock complied. He explained how a probe had wrought havoc on Earth, looking for communication from an extinct marine species, the humpback whale, and that while coming to the rescue, his captain had devised a plan to fetch the needed humpback whales from Earth’s past. He told how, after succesfully completing the mission, he had calculated the proper course towards the sun and steered the ship into what was to be a time warp. But, during the warp, something had gone wrong. He traced his mind for an indication of where he had gone awry, but could not find anything conclusive. He did remember his conduit suddenly carrying a high voltage current, and he seemed to have gotten in contact with it, but he failed to determine why the current had been there in the first place. One moment, he had stood on the bridge of the Klingon Bird of Prey, and the next he had found himself huddled on the floor in a Taelon Embassy. “I do not know if my shipmates managed to successfully exit the time warp,” he concluded his narrative.
“I am very sorry,” Da’an said softly.
I grieve with thee, it sounded in Spock’s mind. He blinked slowly to rid himself of the illogical assosiation and set his mind on the more pressing issue. “Do you have a suggestion as to how I may return to my shipmates?” The Taelon inclined his head.
“I cannot offer you a solution,” he started, “but I can provide you with the means to find one.” He gestured towards a datastream not unline the one Spock had operated earlier. “This you may consider a libary which you may use its full extend, if you wish it. Most of the information is available in english, so it should be no problem.” He stood there quietly, seemed to consider something for a while. Spock raised an eyebrow as he looked at the slender hands of the energy being, finding their almost constant, natural movement fascinating. There seemed to be no specific pattern to the intricate gestures, nor did Da’an seem very conscious of them. “I have duties to attend to,” the Taelon continued suddenly, “so I cannot assist you in your research today. I shall return here in the evening, if my schedule permits it. If you are in need of anything, you can contact me through this channel.”
“You are most gracious,” Spock observed. Something that almost seemed a smile crossed the Taelon’s lips. With another inclination of his head, he left the room. Spock watched him go, considering who had taken him in so casually, as if it were a normal occurence. Considering the confident, almost authoritative manner with which Da’an carried himself around the structure, and also considering that he had admitted that the large, imposing office with only one chair in the middle of it had been his office, Spock concluded that he had stubled upon the Taelon Ambassador himself.
Without wasting any further time, Spock stationed himself behind the device Da’an had called a datastream, and started his research. When the Taelon Companion to North America, as the datastream had told him, returned to his quarters that evening, he had his report ready.
“It appears that I have not merely strayed into another time period,” he clarified to his host, “but also into a different dimension altogether. If I understand the data you provided me with correctly, I may be able to devise a way to return to my own dimension and time, hopefully at the exact same moment I disappeared there.”
The Taelon moved to his side and waved up the datastream. “Explain to me your theory,” he requested with obvious interest. As Spock explained the scientific details of what could be a theory to return him to his ship, he found himself, to his pleasant surprise, regularly interrupted by a question from Da’an. He questioned the validity of his assumptions with a precision that showed he knew exactly what he was talking about, and at some points suggested a different approach.
The possibilities of returning him to his home kept them diligently at work till deeply into the night, and neither ever showed signs of fatigue or loosing interest. At some moments, Spock felt almost at home in this office, discussing science with someone who had been a complete stranger to him but a day ago, even more at home perhaps than with his Vulcan collegues, who constantly seemed to watch for a sign of human flaw in him, or with his human collegues, who were irritated by his flawless Vulcan logic.
When Da’an rose from his energy shower the next morning, he found Spock already up and gazing at him studiously. For a moment he was confused, but then he realized that he had lost his humanoid facade while resting, and had not thought to replace it. It was his pure Taelon form that had caught the Vulcan’s interest. With an effort he forced himself to remain still, and resisted the urge to quickly bring his facade back into place. He somehow felt as if he were caught doing, or rather being, something improper. But, he quickly realized, that was his own preconception. His guest never blinked at all, or showed any signs of discomfort at his natural state.
“You do not seem disturbed by my form,” he stated carefully.
Spock raised a characteristic eyebrow, apparently genuinly puzzled. “Not in the least. I have enountered numerous species, many of which not even humanoid.”
“You would consider me normal, then,” Da’an tried to say lightly. The Vulcan’s immediate and calm acceptance of everything he was somehow made him feel more at ease.
“Of course not,” Spock said as if stating otherwise would have been insulting. “My people believe in Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations.”
“I hold similar believes,” Da’an admitted. “Normality is not something desirable for your people?”
“There are enough ‘normal’ beings already,” he claimed reasonably, something in the tone of his voice making Da’an suspect he was less serious than he let on to. “They are not nearly as intriguing.”
“And I am?” Da’an wondered. What was this Vulcan getting to?
“In more ways than one,” Spock answered him, suddenly serious again, but he didn’t say more on the matter. Instead he continued: “I would like to know why you have kept me out of sight of your people.”
Da’an blushed. He had been expecting this question, and had thought of many ways to answer it. But now that it was asked, he could only answer it one way. “I do not trust them,” he replied honestly.
“I understand,” Spock surprisingly agreed. “I have had all day to review your world, and the nature of your presence here on Earth. And although I am certain that your newspapers withhold much of the information, it is evident that there are some serious difficulties in your dealings with humanity.”
Da’an hung his head. He should have known that someone as intelligent as Spock would not be fooled by the censorship of Earth’s media, and he should have known that he would not approve of the lack of respect the Taelons bestowed upon the humans.
“I would like to understand better,” Spock cut into his reverie. Da’an sharpely raised his head, staring at him incomprehensibly. “Vulcans are known as tactile empaths,” Spock clarified, “and although I am not familiar with the location of your species’ neural pathways, I do believe a meld of sorts could prove enlightening.”
Da’an, unable to speak because he did not trust what he might say, made a small step forward. Spock met him half way and raised his right hand. Da’an could see the energy signature around his palm and fingertips change, become more intense. He raised his own palm and very slowly moved it closer to Spock’s. The Vulcan at first seemed to have had a different approach in mind, but he clearly felt the current already running between their palms, and did not move his hand away. Da’an locked eyes with him, still not fully understanding why the Vulcan would want to do this, why he had asked for more understanding while he had analysed the situation flawlessly already and had more than enough reason to change his initial friendliness to hostility or reproach. But as he looked into those dark eyes, he saw an openmindedness that astounded him, and a sound personal aquaintence with prejudice. Spock showed no hesitation as he placed his palm against his.
Da’an blushed furiously as he reluctantly separated his hand from the Vulcan’s, then gave up on his human facade altogether and reverted to his natural state. He looked at his guest, no, his friend, and waited for him to speak.
“I do not envy you your position,” Spock said quietly. “You have denied yourself much, trying to keep the well-being of your race foremost in your mind, while not wanting to compromise your conscience, or fail the humans you are assigned to watch over.” He placed a hand on Da’an’s shoulder, and for once Da’an did not resent, but welcome the corporality. “You have my respect,” Spock said. “And my care. T’hy’la.”
“As you have mine,” Da’an answered just as softly. He had never planned on showing the Vulcan this much, but the sharing had immediately been deeper than he had expected, the Vulcan’s fingertips somehow acting as telepathic conduits not unlike a Taelon’s would. And Spock had been curious, but gently. There had been no condemnation at the first hesitant threads of truth he offered, and there had been none later, when he had dared share more. Only understanding and acceptation of the position he held, caught between the Synod and the resistence, between his duty and his heart, between expectation and trust. And Spock had showed him how he himself was caught much in the same way, between his Vulcan mind and his human emotions, between his family’s wishes and his friends’.
He had been able to relax, then. For the first time since he arrived on Earth, he had been able to let go of his furtiveness and secrecy, had been able to tell both sides of the story without needing to fear any betrayal or slight. They had both been startled to discover how much they truly shared, and in how many unlikely ways they were the same.
And they had both understood that it couldn’t last.
Spock’s people needed him to return to their own time, and Da’an was in danger as long as Spock stayed.
So they started preparations to execute their plan to return Spock to his dimension and time, and between Da’an’s influence and understanding of the systems, and Spock’s brightness and inventiveness, it didn’t take long before they were ready to move the plan to the final stages.
“My people have a saying,” Spock started as he stood in Da’an’s office for the last time. “The good of the many outweighs the good of the few. Or the one.”
“You do,” Spock said seriously. “You, the way you live your life, is the very epitome of this principle. Your example, your presence alone, has given me so much. If you can do all this, balance all these scales, then I too can find the strenght to balance mine. I thank you, t’hy’la.”
Da’an smiled sadly, and raised his hand to Spock’s, meeting no resistance as he pressed their palms together, and took him deeply into the sharing, beyond such trivial things as words, or memories, took him swirling into the depth’s of his essence, showing him beauty, and light, and life. He kept them both there for as long as he dared risk, and a moment longer, then returned Spock to the present. For a few seconds he gazed into the dark eyes who shone brightly back to him, then he let go of his hand.
“For the good of the few,” he said quietly. “Go now.”
A flash as bright as the first, a trembling in the air, and his visitor left the same way he had come, to return to his ship, to his collegues, to his people, and to his duty. As he must return to his.