When the transmission with S’oren was suddenly cut, Surak could have put his fist through the console. Not a very Vulcan response, but then he wasn’t wholly Vulcan. He’d found a balance between his Betazoid and Vulcan halves and it generally worked for him. Publicly he was the perfect Vulcan. Stoic, controlled and appropriately emotional. Privately he wasn’t much different, but different enough that he didn’t have to repress half of who he was.
He’d never resisted his bond with S’oren on two fronts. As a Betazoid being bonded from birth was the norm. As a Vulcan being betrothed from childhood was expected. It never occurred to him to question the place S’oren had in his life. She was also like him. Not wholly one thing or another. His parents had done well for him when they agreed to his pairing with S’oren.
“Who is she?” Nilani demanded.
“My wife,” he said leaning back in his chair and pulling on every ounce of his being to find calm.
“Since when are you married?” Nilani continued her inquisition.
“Since I was twelve years old,” he said. “I’m Vulcan and Betazoid and you’re not stupid. You had to have realized that I had a wife.”
“Well I didn’t.”
“You’ve been attached to the Trill Embassy here on Vulcan for more than two years. Do you truly expect me to believe you know nothing about Vulcan culture?” He stood up from the console and moved to walk past Nilani into his bedroom. He needed to contact S’oren, but he would probably have a better chance at reasoning with her if he had clothing on.
Nilani barred his path as she stared at him silently although her mind screamed out at him.
“Our relationship is finished,” he said shutting off the sound of her silent indignation. There was a time he found the energy of Nilani’s mind to be exuberant. At that moment he just needed silence. “You need to leave now.”
“I think I have the right to an explanation.” Outrage rippled off of Nilani like waves on a beach.
He looked at her for a moment. “No,” he said. “You don’t. You knew perfectly well what you were doing when you interrupted my conversation.” Her thoughts were as clear to him as if she were speaking them out loud. “You knew I was speaking intimately to a woman and you wanted to cause perturbation. It was with purpose and intent you interrupted what was a very important conversation. Now leave.”
“Two years and now you’re just going to dismiss me like that.”
“Nilani,” he said. “You are a smart woman who has lived four lives already. If you would like to pretend you had no idea what you were doing then that is a fiction that is all of your own. It is obvious to me that it pleases you that you’ve cause disharmony between my wife and me. I hope you find solace in that. Now please leave.”
Nilani stomped back to the bedroom careful to make a great deal of noise as she dressed and made ready to leave. He hadn’t exaggerated to S’oren when he told her he knew people. He activated the comm and was nearly immediately put through to his half-sister at Starfleet command.
“Ensign Marcus’s file is tagged as classified and only command level officers can gain access,” Sabin said.
“Can’t you access it?”
Sabin laughed. “I’m a counselor,” she said. “No Surak. I cannot. Even if I tried I’m sure that someone would notice and wonder why I was attempting to access information on a Starfleet Intelligence officer that I only have a personal connection to. Why can’t you just contact S’oren directly? I assume that if you truly needed to reach her that Starfleet would put you into contact with her directly. You would be listed in her file as her spouse.”
“Okay,” he said. “If I needed to contact S’oren, as her spouse in case of an emergency, how would I do that?”
“You’d go through Starfleet Headquarters. I’m going to put you through.”
“Do that,” he said.
“I will,” Sabin said. “But first you must promise me that you will contact me after you’re done speaking with her. Something is the matter and I am here for you to talk to.”
“I will,” he said. “Now please put me through.”
Spock stood in the torpedo bay with Dr. Elbrun, Mr. Mulvey and Chekov.
“God speed Ensign Marcus,” Chekov said as the torpedo shoot off into space.
Dr. Elbrun spoke up from a console. “Her readings are all within the normal parameters. She’s in perfect hibernation.”
“The capsule readings are all nominal,” Mulvey said.
“Well done,” Spock said evenly. “Please continue to monitor Ensign Marcus’s progress until she falls out of sensor range.” With a tip of his head to Chekov, the two left the torpedo bay.
“She is very much like Admiral Kirk,” Chekov said when they were alone.
Spock considered his response before he spoke. “In many ways, she is. But I have always thought the resemblance between S’oren and Saavik to be noteworthy.”
They entered the turbo lift to go to the bridge as the comm chirped.
“There is a priority gamma transmission from the Vulcan home world for Ensign Marcus,” the communications officer informed them politely.
Spock activated the comm. “Have it put through to my quarters.”
Chekov halted the turbo lift and he made his way to what security and privacy a room on a star ship could offer.
He sat at the computer station then activated the comm. He had been prepared to see just about anyone sitting on the other side of the view screen, but the face of Surak, S’oren’s betrothed
“Surak,” he said simply in lieu of a greeting.
“Spock,” Surak returned the greeting in kind. “I was expecting to speak to S’oren.”
“S’oren is unavailable.”
“I must insist,” Surak said betraying no emotion.
“I am not attempting to dissuade you,” Spock said. “I am merely stating a fact. S’oren is unavailable.”
For a brief moment Spock saw irritation flash through Surak’s black Betazoid eyes.
When it had come time for S’oren to be betrothed, Saavik had desired to marry her only child to the son of two Vulcan mathematicians. The boy showed great promise to follow in his parents footsteps. Although the parents found S’oren to be a less than ideal choice, they had wanted to use the connection the marriage would make to aid their eldest daughter into securing a place at Starfleet.
Spock had objected to the union knowing Saavik would listen to him. Instead, Spock offered up Surak as an option. His parents, a Vulcan and a Betazoid, had not anticipated that their son would make a match with a child associated with such a high placed family. They had, in fact, assumed their son would never make a traditional betrothal.
When S’oren had been offered to their family as a bride, they accepted her immediately. Surak’s musical ability and his mixed parentage seemed right for S’oren. Spock knew that Surak would understand S’oren on a deeper level than a full-blooded Vulcan would ever hope to. His empathetic abilities combined with his telepathic abilities would bring the two closer than perhaps even he anticipated.
“Spock,” Surak said. “I just spoke with S’oren. Our communication ended abruptly. I understand she is probably not predisposed to continuing our conversation, but I must speak with her.”
“In intelligence parlance,” Spock said. “S’oren is incommunicado.”
“Are you saying she’s already gone?”
“That is precisely what I am saying,” Spock said. “I was unaware that you and S’oren were in contact. The time for your joining has not as of yet been determined.”
“When will S’oren be reachable?” Surak ignored his implied question which pleased Spock. Surak, unlike many other suitors for S’oren, had no fear of him.
“It will be quite some time if all goes to plan,” Spock said. “I can contact you when there is word from her, if you wish to be present when she returns from her mission.”
“Do that,” Surak said.
“Surak,” Spock said. “My congratulations on winning the All-Vulcan Music Competition for the fourth year in a row. A noteworthy accomplishment.”
“Thank you,” Surak said. “Surak out.” The face of the gifted young man was replaced by the Starfleet emblem.
“Curious,” Spock said. “Very curious indeed.”
Surak had managed to pull on a shirt and permanently remove Nilani from his apartment before contacting his sister and subsequently making his failed attempt to reach S’oren. She was gone. The mission that had frightened her so much he had somehow become the only person he could turn to was underway. He’d failed her. The first time S’oren had turned to him, he’d failed her. He was not such a defeatist as to believe conclusively that she was lost to him forever, but he certainly had done very little to ensure their first forays into their life together would go smoothly.
He fixed tea for himself and watched the sunrise over the mountains. Somewhere in the universe the red haired child with the bright blue eyes whom had matured into a beauty beyond his expectations was going into a situation where her life would be in danger believing him to be a cad that cared little for her. That was not something he could have.
He returned to the comm and contacted his sister. Instead of reaching his sister, the Starfleet communications officer that had first received his signal had put him on a seemingly never ending hold. When the blue Starfleet emblem was replaced by a human being, he was not looking at his sister, but rather a distinguished woman of middle years.
“I think there’s been an error,” he said.
“Surak of Vulcan,” the woman said in a melodious voice that sang of the fact she had musical ability. “I am Captain Uhura of Starfleet Intelligence.”
“Again,” he said. “I believe there has been some sort of error. I was contacting my sister.”
“Surak,” Captain Uhura said. “I can answer the questions you have, but you must meet with me in person.”
“Fine,” he said. He knew there was no way to reason with the behemoth of bureaucracy that was Starfleet if they did not wish to be reasoned with. “Where can I meet with you?”
“There is a Starfleet ship in orbit of Vulcan. It is scheduled to leave for Earth within the hour.”
“Am I to assume that if I want information on my wife that I am to be on that ship?”
“Your assumption would be correct,” Captain Uhura said with a pleasant smile. “I look forward to meeting you Surak. I am a musician myself.”
“I’ll bring my lyre,” he said trying to keep the sarcasm out of his voice.
She smiled at him again and gave a nod. “Uhura out.”
Surak packed what he needed to get him to Earth which was not much. He would stay with his sister and he never carried much more than his lyre and some clothing. There was no need to bring anything else.
His comm chirped just as he finished speaking to the woman that booked his performances. The USS Gagarin was waiting on him. In a matter of moment he went from his apartment to the transporter platform of the USS Gagarin.
“I’m Lieutenant Commander Gav,” a female Tellarite officer said. “Welcome on board the USS Gagarin.”
“How long until we reach Earth?” he asked immediately dismissing any potential small talk.
“We are currently scheduled to arrive in nine days,” she said. “Guest quarters have been made ready for you. Captain Gervais would be pleased if you would dine with him this evening.”
“Which would be in how many hours?” Time was relative. Just because it was morning where he lived on Vulcan didn’t mean it wasn’t the early evening on the ship.
“Six,” Gav said.
“I’ll join the Captain. My quarters?”
The trip to Earth took fourteen never ending days. The USS Gagarin had been sidetracked when they’d received a distress call from a freighter that had encountered an unexpected ion storm and was limping along until help arrived. At first he’d preferred the solace of his quarters, and then eventually made his way out of the room surprised to find he desired the company of others. That was the Betazoid in him. There was comfort in the community on board the ship and it didn’t take much for him to be coaxed into performing in the lounge of the Galaxy class starship. Music comforted him.
Surak also found that for the first time in his life, his daily Vulcan meditation practice offered him more than a centered mind to better engage in his music practice. He came to the conclusion as he waited to arrive at Earth that he had lead a relatively stress free existence. Music had always come easily to him. He’d never had to worry about his future because there was his music and S’oren. Life had been good to him. Women liked him. He was respected by his peers. What more could he want?
A wife that didn’t risk life and limb in the name of preserving peace throughout the galaxy. That was something he wanted. She said she wanted a quiet life. He would give that to her.
As he stood at the window he watched the watery globe of Earth expand before him.
The comm chirped before a voice intruded on his silence. “Surak,” the captain’s voice said. “We are about to dock at spaceport. We are within transporter range of Starfleet command.”
“Thank you Captain,” he said. “Thank you for your hospitality.”
“The pleasure has been ours. Gervais out.”
Surak made his way to the transporter room, walking past the line of refugees from the freighter they’d towed on board who were waiting to be transported down to the planet. He wasn’t intentionally being rude. He just didn’t imagine that he needed to wait along with them.
When he reached the front of the line he was escorted directly to the transporter platform. Moments later he was standing on a second transporter platform while the bright yellow sun of Earth shone down on him through the glass dome of the atrium he’d been beamed down to. Three familiar faces greeted him. His half-sister Sabin, as always ignoring his inbred Vulcan restraint, stepped forward and embraced him. He didn’t mind. He’d learned to balance his two unique heritages long before. He was a Vulcan that hugged and a Betazoid that practiced discretion. It was the best of both worlds.
When she released him he turned to Spock. “Spock,” he said raising his hand in the Vulcan salute.
“Surak.” Spock returned the greeting then gestured to the woman next to him. “I believe you have spoken with Captain Uhura.”
“Captain,” he said turning his attention to the tall, beautiful, ebony skinned woman. “You have answers to my questions?”
“I do,” she said in her sing-song voice.
“Surak,” Sabin said. “I’m going to leave you to it. When you’re done, we’ll have dinner tonight. You’re staying with me?”
“That was my plan,” he said to his sister.
“Good,” Sabin said. She walked off with a smile and a wave.
“Where is my wife?” he asked Uhura.
“S’oren is technically not your wife,” Spock said. “She is still your betrothed until you are wed.”
“Do not attempt to mitigate my claim to S’oren. She is my wife and unless she calls for koon-ut-kal-if-fee then there is no reason to assume that she will not be my wife.”
“I am not attempting to challenge your claim,” Spock said. “I was merely pointing out a technicality.”
“If she had not been sent on this mission, then our union would have been completed weeks ago. My parents agreed to wait until she completed Starfleet Academy. Not until she returned from some mission in the Neutral Zone. I did as tradition demands and stayed away until she was ready to be bound to me. When I spoke with her, she was more than ready and had no interest in completing this mission.”
“This sounds like a family matter,” Uhura said diplomatically. “Shall we go to my office and discuss the particulars in private?”
He nodded then allowed himself to be escorted by the lovely Captain Uhura out of the atrium. Whether she knew it or not, she hummed with music. “Captain,” he said. “You mentioned that you are a musician.”
“Captain Uhura,” Spock said. “Is a most talented musician.”
“Flattery will get you everywhere,” Uhura laughed. “Although I will admit I have been practicing my Vulcan lyre since I knew you were coming.”
She knew S’oren. “You know S’oren,” he said. “You were present at our betrothal.”
“How sweet of you to remember,” Uhura said. “I have known S’oren since she was just a baby.”
“Captain Uhura is a great friend to Saavik and me,” Spock said. Surak felt the familiarity and almost familiar joviality between Spock and Uhura. They’d known each other a very long time and he was being given a favor by Uhura in her taking the time to speak with him.
“I look forward to playing with you Captain,” he said. Music had always been a key to open doors. Accommodating Captain Uhura would be to his benefit.
“Here we are,” she said ushering them into a well-lit office. The door closed behind them with a swish as Uhura gestured to chairs around a desk.
“Where is S’oren?” he asked when he was seated.
“That’s classified,” Uhura said. “But, as she has already told you a great deal that she shouldn’t have, then there is nothing to be gained from playing games.”
“How do you know what she said to me?”
“I watched the recording of your conversation,” Uhura said without apology.
“You violated our privacy,” he said. The Vulcan in him felt the deep burn of anger as Vulcan’s experienced the emotion.
“Your conversation cost lives,” Uhura said. “The Romulans have listening buoys along the border to the Neutral Zone. Your conversation was intercepted and the Romulans knew that an agent was being inserted into the Neutral Zone. S’oren should have known better, but it was a rookie mistake and one that will have to be forgiven.”
“Where is she?” he asked again.
Uhura looked at him then sighed a little. “We don’t know. She was not amongst the list of prisoners the Romulans sent. What we do know is that if she had been captured by the Romulans, they more than likely would have used her as a bargaining chip. A dead agent does them little or no good. A live agent can be exchanged for a Romulan agent.”
“What are you saying?” he asked feeling a pinch of dread deep in his soul.
“I’m saying,” Captain Uhura stared deeply into his eyes. “That I do not know where Ensign Marcus is. The ship that was supposed to retrieve her capsule from space was intercepted by the Romulans.”
“You have to find her,” he said.
“What do you propose?” Captain Uhura asked. “That we send ships into the Neutral Zone on a rescue mission? Contact the Romulan Ambassador and tell him that our agent has gone missing and that you would really appreciate knowing where it is she might be? I am sorry Surak, truly I am, but at this point in time all we can do is wait for news and hope for the best.” She was not lying. She truly felt genuinely sorry for him.
“There is nothing that can be done,” he stated. “There are no contacts within the Romulan Empire? I find it singularly hard to believe that there is nothing that can be done.”
“There is nothing that can be done without placing more agents at risk,” Uhura said. “I promise you Surak, the very moment there is news from her, and I will let you know. Until then, if there is anything I can do for you…” She held out her open palms in a gesture of offering. “Please let me know.”
He felt a great weight of helplessness press upon him. There was much he understood that he hadn’t even considered before. When he was twelve, old for a Vulcan child to be betrothed to his mate, a mind meld had been performed between himself and S’oren. At the time it meant only that his future mate had been secured and he would spend very little time thinking of her over the following thirteen years. His parents spent more time discussing S’oren than he did.
But then he saw her and heard her voice. A fuse ignited in him and he wanted to be near her. It was then that he understood why they were meant to stay away from each other after puberty set in. He’d feared that pon farr would come on him so great was his desire to be with S’oren. It hadn’t which was one thing to be grateful for. He suspected the fact he’d never looked back after his first experience with pon farr and never denied himself the pleasure of the opposite sex since probably contributed to his ability to remain in control. But still, the pull to be together had come strongly to him and he wondered if she felt it too.
He looked at Captain Uhura. “What am I to do?”
“Wait. Learn patience.”
“I am already a very patient man.”
“Learn a new sort of patience.”
“You know S’oren. You know her well.”
“I do.” Again, the kind smile that spread to her eyes. “I know her well. Since she was a little girl.”
“Why has she spent years avoiding our joining and now – when it’s too late – does she contact me?”
“Would you like to have lunch with me?”
“Lunch?” How was an offer to join her for a meal going to help the situation?
“The meal between breakfast and supper. Lunch. I think we should sit down like civilized people and have a chat.”
“If that is what I need to do to get answers, then that is what I shall do.”
“Do you want to know what I think?” She didn’t wait for him to answer. “I think that not so deep inside of you is a desperately charming young man that is deeply worried about someone that means more to him than he realized. So. Lunch?”
She made him chat about the voyage from Vulcan to Earth as they walked to a dining room. They sat at a table together and she ordered for them.
“Ask me your questions.” Uhura gave him a smile as she folded her hands in front of her.
He felt suddenly shy. What questions could he have that would be appropriate to ask?
“Why did she contact me?” That was what he truly wanted to know. Why me? Why of all the people she had to know, did she turn to him.
“You will have to ask her that.”
“Am I going to have that chance?”
“Let’s hope so.”
Surak did not know what to do after lunch. His sparse luggage had already been removed to his sister’s home. He had nothing but time to wait for news on his hands. Uhura’s suggestion that he return home and to his concert schedule did not sit well with him. He didn’t want to go home. He wanted to discover who S’oren Marcus was and why, after years of passing the message through her mother that she was not ready to marry him, did she turn to him when she needed help.
So he wandered the streets of San Francisco. For days he wandered. He found places he liked to sit and watch the world turn. He found the kernel of anger that roiled around in his guts and observed it.
Anger as a rule wasn’t part of his emotional spectrum. He’d felt anger, but in truth he’d lived a charmed existence.
He was angry and there was no denying it.
The list of people that were the focus of his anger was surprisingly long. But at the top of it was himself.
Here’s a fact. He was a grown man. If he really wanted his marriage to go forward, he could have pushed. He didn’t want his marriage to go forward. He liked being single. He liked the women. And there were a lot of women.
Everywhere he went there were women.
They were universally into the whole deep, moody, musician thing.
He understood this was the Betazoid man in him coming to the surface. He got that. This is what having mixed parentage could do. He might have been half-Vulcan, but he was also half-Betazoid with the accompanying sexual drive.
The idea of marrying S’oren appealed to him in a general intangible sort of way. Like a concept more than a real thing. Having a wife had gotten him out of more than one awkward situation.
But actually having a wife might create more problems than it was worth. He really didn’t know her enough to have an opinion about what kind of wife she’d bed.
His greatest fear – which turned out to be unrealized – was that she was just like her mother.
Not even a little like her mother.
And now he was angry. Very angry. Mostly because that option he assumed would always be available to him was gone. Not dead gone, but simply out of his reach.
Worst part of all – he wanted her back and he was fairly certain he’d go to some not very Vulcan extremes to make that happen.