It was a sight twelve-year-old Spock Sareklrn of Vulcan would never forget.
He was walking home from a seminar at the Vulcan Science Academy. He had taken a circuitous route home. If asked, he already had his logical reason prepared – the seminar had been on resistance in electrical conduits and he was field-testing a particular idea. The professor had asserted that, despite logic to the contrary, if certain other factors were present, the shortest route between two points might not always be a straight line. These ‘other factors’ included blockage in the straight line, as well as paths of conductivity that might prove easier, though more apparently convoluted. Given the traffic at the time of day to and from the Science Academy, Spock had hypothesized that a route which was longer in distance might actually prove shorter in time. He made careful note of how long it was taking him to arrive home.
The fact that his route also avoided the usual places where other students of his age congregated was simply an added benefit. Spock worked diligently at his meditations, but there were times when the taunts of his classmates still caused an emotional reaction within him. In addition, having a logical justification would prevent yet another of his father’s lectures on presenting himself as a proper Vulcan. There was a phrase his mother used: icing on the cake.
He heard voices ahead, and slowed his pace. This portion of the great city was usually deserted this time of day. It was why he had chosen it as a part of his route. This unexpected factor would taint his data, but it might not make any significant difference to his theory if the presence of others caused no delay. He raised the hood of his day robe, intending to simply walk on by.
As he neared the voices, he was startled to recognize them. One was the Andorian politician named Laslav, with whom his father had been arguing at the Council for weeks. The other was his father.
He stopped, still hidden from their view by the side of a building.
“Enough of this,” Laslav snapped. “Your alleged Vulcan love of peace is nothing but a smokescreen. You fight a legitimate request, such a small matter! You refuse to explain your decision to my government, even when doing so will prevent a larger fight!”
“Not so, Laslav,” Sarek returned. His voice was strained. His face seemed flushed. The posture of his body was tense and stiff. If Spock hadn’t known better, he would have said that his father was angry. “It is you who fail to realize that if this fight is begun, there will be no end. Your ‘larger fight’ might well be prevented – but this ‘small matter’ will consume all of Vulcan.”
“Ah, but Sarek, I do understand. I was charged to learn enough of your language to read your ancient archives – and I have. I know about your Clan land and your feuds and your so-called solution. And this is your ‘superior way’,” Laslav sneered. “Your logic amounts to nothing more than pride covered by lies. What will the rest of the Federation think, I wonder?”
“This is not a matter for the Federation,” Sarek warned.
“Indeed? By whose say? Yours? I say it is! And so will my government when I report the reason for your Council’s arrogant refusal!”
“Laslav, I cannot allow you to take this matter further. If Andorians understand anything of honor, you will desist in this course immediately.”
“Andorians understand honor, Sarek Sepaklrn,” Laslav snarled. “It is how we know Vulcans have none.”
Laslav turned heading directly toward Spock. Spock took a hasty step back, but his father called the Andorian back. The anger had left his voice – of course, it was not anger, Spock immediately corrected the thought.
“Perhaps we are both too rigid,” Sarek said calmly. “You have implied two possible solutions. There is a third.”
The Andorian frowned, and turned back. He took two, then three steps forward, with Sarek doing likewise. There was no longer any hint of emotion in Sarek’s stance, nor in his expression. When Laslav reached his side, he raised his hands, as if to make a gesture. Spock knew how uncharacteristic this was, and he froze in sudden dread. He remained frozen as he watched his father, Sarek Sepaklrn, Ambassador to the Federation, reach up and quickly, efficiently snap the Andorian’s neck.
The request had seemed simple enough on its face. The fragile diplomatic relations between Andor and Vulcan needed stabilization. A new consulate on Vulcan would be a positive step in that direction. As was customary on nearly every planet in the Federation, a consulate was considered to be a part of the sovereign land of its emissaries. In fact, on most planets, the land was actually ceded to the controlling government, a gracious gift and show of good will by the home planet. This was the consideration Andor had asked for. And this was the consideration Vulcan steadfastly refused.
Laslav could not understand it. He had presented his request for explanation time and time again during the construction of the consulate. Time and again it had been not refused – simply ignored. His government was getting more than impatient with his lack of results. They were even threatening to delay the arrival of the ambassadorial party. That would be a disaster for the normalization of relations between the two governments. Vulcan would never concede the terminology, but Andor had considered itself at war for decades.
The Andorian glanced again at his communications terminal. There was no ‘message received’ signal, despite the fact that he had sent a priority communiqué to Sarek, Vulcan’s ambassador to the Federation, over four hours previously. He slammed his fist down in frustration, and the incoming signal-light came on. “Praise the Holy!” he muttered, and thumbed the receive switch.
To his infinite disappointment, it was not from Sarek, or any other Vulcan diplomat. There was only a terse message from his superiors on Andor; learn enough of the symbology of the Vulcan language to be able to research their planetary archives. We will know why they are being so stubborn or we will declare open hostilities.
Laslav sighed. He had anticipated that necessity when Vulcan first refused to sign over the small piece of land on which the consulate was to be built. He had been studying the Vulcan glyphs for over a year. Oddly enough, the vaulted Vulcan Council was free with their permission to study Vulcan history.
He rose from his desk and stretched, then headed once more for the archival vaults.
At first, Spock could not accept the evidence of his senses. He had, had he not, just witnessed his father murdering an Andorian diplomat? He remained where he was, frozen within the shadow of the building beside him. Was it not his duty to report the incident?
You will report your Father? came horrified denunciation.
It is not logical to allow familial connection to prevent me from bearing witness to a crime.
And is it logical to assume that a crime is what was perpetrated here?
Spock’s thoughts became uncertain. What else could it be?
He carefully replayed the conversation in his head. He was aware of how – he struggled for a word that had no emotional connotations, finally setting on concerned. He was aware of how concerned his father had been the past several months over the entire Andorian matter. He understood well the underlying problem. The Andorians wanted land, and no Vulcan Clan would or could cede such property. Not only was it unlawful to do so, the very idea courted the ancient passions of the Blood Feud. This was what Laslav had been referring to, and it was the source of Sarek’s – concern. No Vulcan spoke openly of such things, not even among themselves. It was Surak’s Way to erase all traces of their barbarous past other than that necessary to remind them of its dangerous –
Spock abruptly stopped his train of thought. He had almost thought dangerous allure. He shuddered inwardly at what his father would have said to that, and couldn’t help thinking of what his friend Sorrm would answer.
“Of course it’s alluring, Spock. It’s what we were meant to be, what biology demands of us. Surely you can’t deny that.”
Spock shook his head. He had wearied of the debates between his father and Sorrm long ago; long, even, before Sorrm had left Vulcan to pursue historical research. He understood Sorrm’s objections to Surakian discipline, but could not share them. Dare not, a small voice in his head corrected, for that would mean defying Sarek.
Which brought him back to the present. Andor kept requesting that the land beneath the consulate building be given to them. The matter had been brought up as delicately as possible in the Council. Clan Jekhnlrnvan, on whose land the consulate was situated, refused to even consider the question. Without being able to explain why the matter had been denied, Vulcan saw no reason to confront the Andorians. It was logical. That the Andorians could not see the logic of silence was not a Vulcan’s concern.
Except, of course, that Sarek, as the Federation’s ambassador, had to deal with the Andorians, Laslav in particular. Spock had heard his father remarking to his mother that Laslav was ‘difficult’ – and the fact that Sarek admitted such a thing at all indicated how great the strain on him actually was.
And to have the Andorian confront him in the street…
…and flinging such distasteful accusations…
No, that is not the reason. Laslav was clearly threatening not only Vulcan sovereignty but our very way of life. He was jeopardizing all that holds Vulcan society together, endangering the very Peace of Surak. Is not the death of one being an acceptable loss when compared with the destruction of an entire civilization?
The answer was an easy one, and, with the logical train of thought in place, the only one Sarek could have made.
Which is undoubtedly the reason for his action. Therefore, it cannot be considered murder and hence no crime need be reported for none was committed.
Spock bowed his head in respect for the loss of life, then turned and resumed his journey home, taking only a few seconds to factor the loss of time into the calculations for his experiment.
The Andorian Consulate was never occupied, and the Andorian government initiated the renewal of open hostilities - which, of course, Vulcan ignored, reacting only when the Andorians pressed the matter. Eventually the consulate building was taken over by an Indiian delegation, who had no problem accepting the Vulcan refusal to cede land. Unlike Andorians, the Indiian people were tolerant and respectful, and while overly emotional, knew the diplomacy of silence.
The debate had started again, and Spock was weary of it. He had made his decision; logically, his father should accept it. Yet it seemed that Sarek took every available opportunity to discuss yet again his displeasure with his son’s choice of a career. His objections were well known to Spock – each and every one of them in greater detail than I would have imagined possible – and none of them had changed Spock’s mind. He had made a careful and considered choice; he was more than a scientist. He wanted more than the Vulcan Science Academy could provide. He wanted more, even, than exploration and the limitless research potential Starfleet offered. He wanted, he admitted in the privacy of his own mind, to make a difference.
But all Sarek could see – at least today – was that Starfleet used force. Starfleet had weapons and required their officers to use them in the line of duty. Starfleet was counter to Surak’s Way of Peace and would require compromises of the conscience that Sarek believed his son was woefully unprepared to make. The memories of a day eight years before welled up within Spock, and it made Sarek’s stance nearly ludicrous. Spock had learned what it was to be Vulcan from his father. He had learned the way of logic, of non-emotion, of reasoned decision. And he had learned that such things were not, as his father now seemed to claim, an absolute rejection of violence in any form. Indeed, there were times when logic demanded a violent act, as it had eight years previous.
At last Sarek took a breath long enough so that his son could not be accused of interrupting him. Spock lifted his head, squaring his shoulders and finding the courage to look his father in the eye.
“Yes, Father,” he said, “Starfleet will require that I use force – or even kill another life form in order to defend the precepts and ideals of The Federation.” He took his own deep breath, broaching a subject he had never spoken of. “Father, you took a life to protect a position you deemed honorable. As your son, how can I do less?”
The shock on Sarek’s face was all the more horrifying for being starkly obvious. ”What are you saying?” he demanded.
Spock blinked. “Only the truth,” he replied.
“What truth!” Sarek snapped.
“Father…” Spock hesitated. The memory was clear – was it not? How could his father not know to what he referred? “I saw you,” he began again. “I was in the street when you – found a solution to the problem of the Andorian consulate.”
Sarek stared at him. Spock tried not to see emotion in his father’s eyes, but there was clear struggle in them. He lowered his gaze respectfully.
“Spock,” his father said at last, “You were far too young to understand…”
“I beg your pardon, Father, I was not. I did understand, I do. You took the course of action logic dictated. It was necessary to preserve Vulcan civilization.” He looked up. “In Starfleet, I will do likewise; as logic dictates and as necessary to preserve the Federation.”
“You cannot know what you are saying,” Sarek returned stubbornly.
“I can. I repeat, I do understand.”
“What you propose is hardly the same thing. My – action – was one situation, one confluence of events. In Starfleet you give up your right of logical decision to the whim of a fallible chain of command…”
Sarek continued talking, but Spock was no longer listening. He turned, leaving the common room of the great house, ignoring his father’s command that he return. He ignored, too, the illogical sorrow that was threatening to overtake him. He drew resolve around him as a steel cloak and retrieved his already packed belongings. He said a brief, emotionless farewell to his mother, then walked from the house to the shuttle port, and the ship that would take him to the reporting station for new Starfleet recruits.
To go to the next story in chronological sequence, click here
Return to Valjiir Stories
Return to Valjiir Continum
Return to Valjiir Stories
Return to Valjiir Continum