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Enter the Wolves
By A. C. Crispin DC Comics
Copyright © 2001 A. C. Crispin
All right reserved.
Sunset on Vulcan.
In the west, 40 Eridani A-Nevasa-was setting, staining the magenta sky with swaths of deep amethyst, gold, and coral. But the tall figure silhouetted against the sunset was blind to the glory behind him; Sarek of Vulcan faced east, watching his world's sister world, T'Rukh, at full phase. The giant planet orbited a mere 149,895.3579 Federation Standard kilometers from her companion world-and filled thirty degrees of sky.
Because the two worlds were tidally locked, Vulcan's sister planet, T'Rukh, was only visible from this side of Vulcan. Looming perpetually against the high, jagged horizon, the giant world went through a full set of phases each day. Only at sunset did the bloated sphere fully reveal her ravaged visage.
Sarek had chosen this remote location for his mountain villa in part because of its view of T'Rukh. Here at the edge of the civilized world, the ambassador never tired of watching T'Rukh poised atop the Forge, an inhospitable continent sized plateau seven kilometers higher than the rest of the planet. Few indeed were the individuals who saw the sister world's whole face on a regular basis; only the ancient retreat and shrine of Gol lay farther east than Sarek's villa.
The wind, cooling now that Nevasa had set, plucked at Sarek'slight-colored tunic and loose trousers. As he watched T'Rukh intently, his lean, long-fingered hands tightened on the balustrade of the terrace overlooking the eastern gardens. The ambassador was attempting to reach a decision.
Logic versus ethics ... Should the needs of the many outweigh the conscience and honor of the one? Could he compromise what he knew to be right, in order to accomplish what was necessary?
Sarek gazed across the Plains of Gol, considering. Long ago, he had studied with several of the Masters there. What would his teachers do if they were in his place?
The ambassador drew a deep breath of the evening air, then let it out slowly as he regarded the surrounding mountains. He had chosen this site for his private retreat decades ago, when he and his second wife had first been married. These remote hills were cooler, even during the daylight hours, and thus easier for humans-in particular, one special human-to endure than the scorching heat of the rest of his world.
Night deepened around Sarek as he watched T'Rukh. Evening on this hemisphere of Vulcan did not bring darkness, though. T'Rukh, the huge world humans called Charis, provided forty times the light of Earth's full moon. At full phase, T'Rukh was a swollen yellowish half-sphere, a dissipated eye that never blinked, even when spumes and geysers of fire from her volcano-wracked surface penetrated her cloud cover. Sarek noted absently that a new volcano had erupted since yesterday; the large, fire-red dot resembled an inflamed abscess on the planet's sulfuric countenance.
T'Rukh was only one of The Watcher's names; her name varied according to the time of the Vulcan year. More than twice as large as Vulcan, T'Rukh boasted a moon of her own in a low, fast-moving orbit. Tonight T'Rukhemai (literally, "Eye of The Watcher") was visible as a dark reddish sphere almost in the center of the planet-a pupil in a giant eye. The little worldlet, slightly larger than Earth's moon, orbited The Watcher so quickly that its motion was almost perceptible to the naked eye. Sarek watched The Watcher, and she stared back at him balefully.
It was his habit to stand here and watch The Watcher whenever he faced a difficult decision. And the one he faced now was proving to be one of the most difficult choices of his career. Logic chains ran through his mind, presenting pros and cons relentlessly, over and over. Should he act? The action he was contemplating went against all the rules of diplomacy and interstellar law. How could he abandon those rules, he who had devoted his life to upholding the tenets of civilized society?
But ... if he did not act, did not gain proof of the insidious threat that faced the Federation, millions of innocent lives could well be lost. Perhaps billions.
Sarek's mouth tightened. Proving his theory would require that he break the law. How could he himself flout what he had helped engineer? And yet ... this was definitely a case where the needs of the many must be considered. Could he risk the impending threat of war?
Sarek stared fixedly at The Watcher as he thought. Somewhere in the distance, a lanka-gar called. The ambassador turned his head, catching the wheeling shape of the night flier as it swooped after prey on the slopes below.
Glancing over his shoulder, Sarek noted absently that the garish colors of sunset were muted now. In a few minutes they would be entirely gone, and T'Rukh, though no longer full, would rule the night.
The breeze touched him again, chill against his cheek. By midnight it would be cool even by human standards.
Even though the ambassador's aquiline features were composed, as usual, his mind would not be still.
The logic chains flowed, slowed-and the equation crystallized in his mind. The decision lay before him. In this case, logic and necessity must outweigh ethical considerations.
Sarek nodded slightly at T'Rukh, bidding the giant planet farewell, knowing that his decision would require that he journey off-world. The Watcher would wax and wane without his presence for many nights. He would leave as soon as possible.
Turning away from the vista before him, the ambassador headed back toward the house, his strides quick and sure. For a moment he envisioned Spock's reaction if he were to discover what his father was planning, and experienced a flicker of amusement. His son would be surprised, possibly shocked, if he knew that his sire was logically and rationally planning to commit a crime. The ambassador had little doubt that, in his place, Spock would choose the same course. But his son was half-human-he'd long ago learned to dissemble, to equivocate ... even to lie. Yes, Spock would condone his decision-which, in a way, made his father's conscience trouble him even more.
But there was no help for it-his logic was faultless. His course was clear. He would not turn back.
Reaching the villa, a low, sprawling structure with thick, protective walls, Sarek entered. The house was decorated for the most part in typical Vulcan fashion, austere, with only the most essential furnishings, but its very bareness lent a feeling of spacious comfort. In the living room, presence of the villa's human occupant was reflected in the antique desk with its faded petit-point chair, in the matching coffee table, and in the handwoven hangings that lent soft touches of rose, turquoise, and sea green to the walls. A water sculpture made a faint susurration within the protective field that prevented evaporation of the precious liquid.
Sarek paused in his office and contacted his young aide, Soran, instructing him to make arrangements for them to travel off-world. The Ambassador's office was devoid of ornamentation, except for the painting of an icy world beneath a swollen red sun.
Next door to his office was the bedroom, and through that lay his wife's sitting room, with its view of the eastern gardens. Sarek already knew from the bond they shared that Amanda awaited him there. He hesitated for a moment before the carven portal leading into their room.
Knowing that his wife had sensed his presence through their bond, Sarek opened the door and passed through the bedroom to the sitting room. Amanda occupied her favorite chair as she sat gazing out at The Watcher and the rocky spires of her garden.
The light from Vulcan's sister world shone on her face, revealing new lines that had not been there a month ago. Her bones seemed more prominent, the lines of cheekbones and nose showing through flesh. He studied her for a moment, noting that Amanda's flowing garment now clearly outlined the angles of her shoulders and collarbone; she had never been a large woman, but during the past month she had clearly lost weight from her already small frame.
"Sarek," she greeted her husband, her mental and audible voice filled with warmth and welcome as she held out her hand to him.
"Greetings, my wife," the ambassador said, permitting himself the small smile that he reserved for her alone. Extending two fingers, he ceremoniously touched them to hers. The gesture, so simple on a physical level, was, between a bonded couple, capable of nearly infinite shades of meaning-at times merely a casual acknowledgment, the mental equivalent of a peck on the cheek, at times nearly as passionate as anything experienced in the throes of pon farr. Sarek's touch conveyed a depth of feeling that the ambassador had never voiced, for speaking of such things in words, aloud, was not the Vulcan way.
"Is it cool out tonight?" Amanda asked, gazing out at her garden. She had planted it shortly after Spock's birth, using unusually shaped and colored stones to complement the native Vulcan cactuslike trees, as well as desert plants from a dozen Federation worlds.
"The temperature is normal for the season and time of day," Sarek replied.
"I thought of joining you on the terrace," Amanda said, glancing out at the garden, "but I must have fallen asleep. I only awoke when I felt your presence next door."
Sarek sat down next to her, his gaze traveling over her features, noting with disquiet how drawn and pale she appeared. And she tired so easily these days ...
Concerned, the Vulcan raised the light level in the room, then studied his wife's face intently. Even without The Watcher's eerie illumination, Amanda appeared drawn and pale. No trace of pink remained in her cheeks, once so rounded and healthy.
As she grew aware of his fixed regard, her blue eyes, once so direct, refused to meet his own. She busied herself capping her old-fashioned pen, then closing her journal and placing it back in the drawer of her desk.
Sarek leaned closer to her, his eyes never leaving her countenance. "Amanda," he said quietly, "I noted the other day that you appear to have lost weight ... have you been feeling unwell, my wife?"
The thin shoulders lifted in a small shrug. "I expect I may have picked up a cold, Sarek. Please don't worry about me. I will be fine."
The ambassador shook his head. "I want you to contact T'Mal, and arrange for her to conduct a thorough evaluation of your physical condition."
Amanda glanced at him; then her eyes shifted quickly away. "All I need is a few days' rest, Sarek. There is no need to visit my physician."
"Please allow the Healer to make such a judgment," Sarek said. "Promise me that you will arrange to see her as soon as possible, Amanda."
She took a deep breath, and Sarek sensed through their bond that she was struggling to keep some strong emotion from him. "I have a great deal to accomplish this week," she demurred. "My editor wants to move up the publication date for the new book. She told me today that there is a tremendous amount of interest in having the writings of Surak's followers translated."
"Yes," Amanda said, clearly warming to her subject, "and when I told her about-"
"Amanda," Sarek interrupted, raising one hand, "you are changing the subject deliberately. Do not think that I did not notice."
His wife opened her mouth to protest, then closed it abruptly and stared fixedly at her hands. Sarek's concern sharpened. Amanda seemed to have aged a decade in a matter of a few weeks.
"I regret that I must leave you, tomorrow morning," Sarek said. "I must go to Earth to consult with the Vulcan consulate and arrange to meet with the Federation president. It will aid me in concentrating on my work if I know that T'Mal will be monitoring your health while I must be away-"
"You have to leave?" Amanda repeated, and something darkened her eyes. Sarek tried to catch her emotion, but she had been studying Vulcan mental disciplines as well as the Vulcan language for decades, and he was unsuccessful.
"How ... how long will you be gone?"
"A week, possibly two," the ambassador said. "If I could postpone this, I would, given your apparent ill health, but I cannot. The situation on Earth regarding the KEHL has worsened considerably in the past weeks."
"I know," Amanda admitted. "It makes me ashamed of my whole planet-the Keep Earth Human League-,used to be just a haven for ineffectual crackpots and ignorant fools. But today's news said there had been demonstrations in Paris in front of the Vulcan consulate! It makes me furious!" For a moment her eyes flashed sapphire with indignation, and she almost appeared her old self. "Those idiots are trying to convince the entire planet that Vulcan is responsible for every disaster from the Probe's devastation to the Klingon raids along the Neutral Zone!"
"The KEHL does appear to be set on fomenting discord between my people and yours," Sarek said. "I have not heard any reports of incidents at the Andorian or Tellarite consulates."
"Do you believe that the KEHL's sudden renaissance is due to Valeris's involvement with that secret cabal?" Amanda asked.
"The Terran news agencies certainly highlighted the Vulcan, Klingon, and Romulan conspirators far more than they did the activities of Admiral Cartwright or Colonel West when Chancellor Gorkon was assassinated and the Khitomer Conference disrupted," Sarek conceded. "Which, under the circumstances, is unfortunate, but not surprising."
His wife gazed at him intently. "Sarek ... does this resurgence of the Keep Earth Human League have any connection with your current project?"
Sarek sat back in his seat and glanced out the window at T'Rukh, its upper limb now shadowed. The ambassador was silent for nearly a minute before he spoke.
"I have reached a number of conclusions of late, Amanda," he said. "I have a number of suspicions. However, I have no evidence to support my theory that is not statistical, circumstantial, or purely inferential. I need concrete proof before I can bring my findings before the Federation officials and the president."
"And that's why you are going to Earth? To get some kind of proof?"
"Yes." After a moment, the ambassador amended, "If possible."
"I see. Amanda's mouth tightened, but she did not pursue her line of questioning-which, almost more than the physical changes he had noted, alarmed the ambassador. If his wife had been feeling like herself, she would never have given up so easily. She would have kept after him until she'd satisfied her curiosity. But now she leaned her head back against her chair, gazing out at The Watcher in silence, her eyes half-closed with weariness.
Sarek's breath caught in his throat as he regarded her, and he identified the feeling that had been growing within him ever since he had entered the room.
"Amanda," he said, keeping his voice from betraying any shade of emotion, "I insist that you call the Healer and arrange to see her. If you will not promise, I will postpone my trip a day and do so myself." ,p> She gazed at him, and he sensed deep emotion through their bond. Sorrow-but not for herself. Amanda's grief was for him. "Very well, Sarek," she agreed, at long last.
"You have my word that I will make an appointment this week."
"You will call tomorrow?"
The ambassador drew a deep breath, somewhat relieved, but still disquieted.
"Perhaps I should call someone to stay with you while I am gone," he said.
"One of your friends, perhaps ..." Swiftly, he reviewed options, and realized that most of his wifes human contemporaries had died within the past several years. "Another possibility is our son. Perhaps he could take leave, return home for a visit if I contacted-"
"No!" Amanda's voice was sharp and final. "I don't want you worrying our son. There have been Klingon renegades raiding all along the Neutral Zone, and I'm sure the Enterprise is one of the ships patrolling out there."
"If Spock knew that you were feeling unwell-"
"Absolutely not," she said, in a quieter but even more positive tone. "I expect you to respect my wishes in this, my husband," she added, sternly.
Sarek hesitated. Amanda fixed him with a look. "My promise for yours, Sarek. Do we have a bargain?"
The ambassador nodded. "Very well, Amanda. You will contact the Healer, and I will not contact our son."
She nodded at him, her blue eyes softening until they were the color of her homeworld's skies. "I wish you a safe journey, Sarek," she said, and then added, with a faint, tender smile, "Whatever you're planning ... be careful. Never forget that I love you ... illogically and madly. Remember that ... always."
Excerpted from Star Trek by A. C. Crispin Copyright © 2001 by A. C. Crispin. Excerpted by permission.
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