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This chapter was co-authored by D&B and Ilúvantír, whose contributions made all the difference.
Amanda walked hesitantly into the room, to find Sarek seated on a low couch. Gravely, he gestured for her to join him. She seated herself delicately, keeping no more than two inches between their bodies.
Sarek allowed himself a small smile. "Be at peace, T'hy'la," he said gently. "I sense through our Tel-tor, our Bond, that you desire ... closeness. It is permissible."
She sensed his emotions near the surface, and looked questioningly at him. "I had thought, my husband," she said, "that your disciplines would not allow the open showing of emotion, no matter how much we wish to show it."
"Surak was wiser than that, dear," Sarek said, his eyes twinkling. "Vulcans do not generally repress emotions; they suppress them. We know ourselves intimately, all the feelings we might express, and then we conquer them, so that they are our servants and not our masters. There is no tradition against the showing of love; the disciplines and traditions are against the expression of violent and hate-showing emotions, not of kindness and gentleness. Because love too can be a strong and powerful force, it must be servant and not master of the individual. But couples, who love in private, are certainly allowed to show that love in tender gestures to each other and to their children -- anything else would not be healthy, for the individual or for the people." He drew her to him.
Reclining against the gaunt figure of the Vulcan who was her betrothed husband, Amanda allowed herself to relax. She raised her hand and gently traced the lines of his face. As her fingers reached his lips, he pursed them and gave them the most feather-light of kisses.
"Sarek, I have something I have to ask; something I found here," Amanda asked hesitantly.
Sarek smiled, "You may ask me anything, T'hy'la."
"T'hy'la, why is there a baby on board?"
Sarek's smile faded with a hint of worry. He sighed. "He is Sybok... my son."
"Your son," she returned slowly. "You are married already?"
"No, not any longer," Sarek sighed again. "It is our custom and tradition to arrange marriages for our children, if the parents choose to do so. My father arranged a marriage for me. She who was my wife and I were logically compatible, but the... love... took a while to grow. For ten years we lived comfortably, and the feelings grew slowly. Then she became pregnant, and an undetectable condition rose up. She lost her senses, and was committed for her protection and that of the unborn."
Sarek hesitated, and then continued, "She died in childbirth, but my son was healthy. I Named him, and he has not been far from me since."
Amanda looked at Sarek gently. "You did love her at the end," she stated, acceptingly.
"Yes. She was a... wonderful person, and would have made a wonderful mother to Sybok. I try to honor that. Does this make you... uncomfortable?"
"No," Amanda smiled. "It was a bit of a shock, but no, I am now comfortable knowing of this. Would you be accepting of me becoming Sybok's new mother?"
"If you consent to it, then you will be his Ko'mekh; his mother in all regards. I thank you, my T'hy'la. You are unlike any other I have met in my life."
Feeling safe and secure for the first time since her parents' death, Amanda relaxed her emotional control. She was not prepared for the surge of desire for Sarek that emerged. Hastily placing those feelings under control, she relaxed in his hold. She allowed herself to dream, and her mind wandered. She saw a small boy, playing naked in a fountain in the open atrium of a home, and knew it for their future son. Then she saw him as a grown man, an officer in a uniform, focused intently on a bank of instruments, and felt a surge of pride. Her mind continued to wander, and she saw the naked body of a newborn boy and knew it to be her grandson. An overwhelming sense of tragedy and soul-searing sorrow came over her at this sight, and she quickly suppressed that vision and those feelings.
To shed herself of those feelings, she asked Sarek, "Tell me of this ship. What, for example, does its name mean?"
"Ah," he said, "the Va'khen-yon. A va'khen is a bird of the wastes on my world. It is bright blue in color, which hides it from its prey against the sky. It can be a fierce hunter and fighter, though it usually subsists on carrion. But the va'khen-yon is one of our oldest legends. The English rendering would be, I believe, "Firebird." It speaks of a va'khen that immerses itself in fire, sacrificing itself that its fellows may live. And from the fire it emerges renewed and strengthened."
"We have a similar fable on Earth," Amanda offered. "The story of the Phoenix is so close to that of the va'khen-yon that if they had not come from separate worlds, Dr. Tolhurst would probably be seeking out a common origin for them." She smiled.
"The tale of the va'khen-yon is tied to my own family, too. It is said that in the days before we discovered metal, combat swords were made of the strong, light bones of the va'khen. Later, of course, they were made of steel; and it was my ancestor, S'harien, who made the first ones. There were many metal blades made at that time, but the best, the strongest, were his; and named after him. This was still very long ago, and the S'harien blades were treated as mythic by the ancient Vulcans. The last S'harien blade, which was also the first one ever made, perished just before my ancestor Surak passed away, but the shards of it are kept by my House. Like the va'khen-yon, it was prophesied to be reborn from fire and pain."
"So we too have our legends and fables," Sarek said, shaking off the 'Storyteller' mood and returning his attention to Amanda. "But I sensed in you, through our Bond, a series of hopes for the future and then great sorrow. Would you tell me...?"
He was interrupted by the ship's intercom. "Kevet."
"Sarek here," he replied, the single word from the intercom having been his title, 'Ambassador.'
"The one you sent for has arrived," the voice over the intercom said.
"Ah, send her here," Sarek responded.
A young Vulcan woman of perhaps 16 walked into the room. "T'Mura, daughter of Xopak, may I present my betrothed, Amanda Greyson, Ko-telsu t'Pi-Maat Sarek. T'hy'la, be pleased to meet T'Mura. I have summoned her for the project we discussed."
"T'nar pak sorat y'rani," Amanda greeted T'Mura warmly.
"T'nar jaral," T'Mura responded, raising an eyebrow at Amanda's command of Vulcan and of Sarek's introduction.
The corners of Sarek's mouth twitched upward in a momentary small smile. "I believe it would be wise to explain your presence to each other. She who is my wife, T'Mura, is the daughter of Jeffrey Grayson. Mr. Grayson and his family were what humans term "acrobats" -- that is, they developed their agility and coordination to a degree rare among humans, and then performed feats of agility before audiences to earn their sustenance. But Mr. Greyson also developed, and taught Amanda, a rudimentary form of sa'hat-nahr."
T'Mura's face, formerly composed as befit a young Vulcan woman, registered startlement at Sarek's final comment. "Surely this man is honored among humans?" she asked.
"No, kinswoman. Like our ancestor, he faced death and met it bravely. By the greatest of good fortune, Amanda was fostered to the scholar assigned to learn of the Vulcan people by the large nation on the lesser land mass, and I came to meet her at his home. She is Earth's leading exponent of the discipline, and as I conversed with her, and entered mind-meld with her, a tel-tor was formed. Across two peoples, we two are now Bonded."
T'Mura turned to Amanda, inclined her head, and made a graceful, complex hand gesture. Sarek looked on with approbation. "My kinswoman salutes you, T'hy'la, with the gesture of welcome appropriate to a senior female of one's House."
"T'Mura," he continued, "is a distant cousin, from a cadet branch of the House of Surak. Though it is fitting she be is present here at Earth as a part of our House, I called for her presence for a different reason. As you know, a Vulcan is able to perform kash-nohv when in physical contact with another, as I did with you in the Tolhursts' parlor. And for those who are Bonded, the tel-tor permits kash-naf, mind touch, at a distance. However, there are limitations. I could not, for example, use my mental abilities to read the mind of your brother down there in Gotham."
"T'Mura can. She is one of a bare dozen Vulcans who are able to make mental contact at a distance. She has spent the last six years training her skills. Now it is time to put them to use."
T'Mura looked at Sarek. "How may I serve Ek'tra-maat T'khasi?"
"I have seen and heard that phrase before, my husband," Amanda interjected. "The time has never been right to ask its meaning, but it appears to be something your people love and give their allegiance to. Is it acceptable to explain it now?"
"It is logical," Sarek said. "Vulcans do not have nations, states, and tribes as do humans. Our allegiance is first to the Family, the Pi-maat, then to the House, the Kalek-maat. This resembles your peoples' ties to their own extended families, and to their clans and lineages. Some far-sighted humans today speak of the 'brotherhood of man' as something to be sought after, beyond allegiance to family and nation. For a Vulcan, though, such a concept is a present reality. All Vulcans are, simply because they are Vulcans, members of Ek'tra-maat T'Khasi, the House of Houses, the children of T'Khasi -- all the Vulcan people. The Vulcan Defense and Exploration Forces swear allegiance to Ek'tra-maat T'Khasi because that oath binds them to the good of the Vulcan people."
"'Who serves my father as a son is surely kin to me,' as the old poem goes," Amanda said in comprehension. "Thank you, husband."
"T'Mura, what my colleague from Andoria and I discovered when we arrived at Earth was ... unexpected. Like Vulcans and Andorians, Earth humans are a violent people. They had concluded a Great War six years before. But they have continued to experiment and develop means of living together and resolving conflict beyond c'thia and sa'hat-nahr, or the Warrior Code of Honor of Andoria. We both saw the potential for both our peoples and for the greater good of all sentient beings in learning from them."
"To this end, we agreed with their governments to adopt a pose of covert observing of humanity as they evolve these tools. We revealed ourselves only to a handful of government leaders in each of the major nations. And they will work with us, and keep our presence secret, if we do two things for them: gradually introduce technological advances to them, and train some of their young people. They seek to catch up with Vulcan, Andoria, and Tellar Prime as quickly as possible -- and that means, among other things, space flight. Your task, T'Mura, is to read young humans, seeking for the ones with stukh-aitlun, the desire for space. In addition, you will guide our scholars as they seek to understand human ways, from what you learn of humanity as you do your readings."
"My wife," Sarek continued formally, "it is my desire, if you find it logical, that you aid T'Mura in understanding your people, equipped, as you are, with unique knowledge of both cultures from having been raised in one and learning of the other through our Bond. Thus our union will not only be one between us as individuals, but also betoken and embody the union of our peoples as time progresses." Amanda nodded assent.
"T'Mura," he continued, "prepare yourself. There is another fact you must know, one which is shocking." She composed herself. "Among humans, the means of protecting the young and assuring their nurture and care is completely in the hands of the parents themselves, with no fall back if they fail from House or government. Neglect is common, where children are seen as a nuisance or their own parents are deceased. Abuse is rarer, but not punished as sternly as Vulcan would." T'Mura started, and involuntarily raised her hand to her mouth. "My own t'hy'la and her brother were among those neglected and left without nurture, after their parents' deaths. I have committed to her, with the full promise of our House, that we will change that. It may take a long time, but we will bring an end to that outrage. To this I have committed our House."
T'Mura nodded. "It is acceptable and logical to do so, Kalek-sam."
"Thank you," Sarek said. "I had expected no less." Turning to Amanda, he said, "My kinswoman sees and accepts the logic of our wish to end child abuse and neglect on Earth, and assents to my wish as head of her House. It may take decades for our work to bear fruit, t'hy'la, but it begins now."
"What I need from you, now, Amanda, is your assistance in devising a means by which T'Mura may travel Earth without revealing our people's presence to the general populace before the time is ripe." With that, the Vulcan diplomat and the two teenage girls, one human and one Vulcan, began to brainstorm the question.
"Richard," Bruce said, "I believe the time has come to show you the bat cave." He smiled, and motioned the boy to follow.
They descended to the basement of Wayne Manor; Bruce pressed against a section of wall, which opened, revealing a circular staircase leading down. "Some day I need to arrange to have an elevator installed here. But one thing at a time...."
Richard excitedly followed Bruce down the hidden staircase, which led over 100 yards straight down. At its bottom, they followed a natural rock-hewn tunnel. At its end was a cavern, dimly lit by a natural opening, a cave mouth, at some distance from where they had emerged. Bruce walked over to an area where the cave roof hung low. He gestured to a small brown object hanging from the roof. "Little brown bat," he said. "There are over a million of them nesting in here."
"It's cute!" Richard said. "Like a little mouse with wings! I thought bats were supposed to be ugly."
"Some of them do look that way, by human standards," Bruce said. "But it's a part of what they use to catch insects." He walked down the cavern floor; Richard, fascinated, followed. "Hundreds more bats, roosting up there," he said, pointing at a high area of roof. "I found this when I was ten, and had the staircase put in to be able to get down here from the house, when I inherited Wayne Manor."
After a time while Richard excitedly explored the cave, they made their way back along the passage to the stairwell, and started the climb back up it.
"Sir?" Alfred said as they entered Bruce's study. "I received a call while you were Down Below. The Satos will be in town tomorrow, and would like to call upon you."
"Excellent!" Bruce said. "Ring up Jonathan and see if he can join us! It was thanks to him that we have Mr and Mrs Sato here, after all."
"Can I invite Sis and Sarek, too?" Richard asked.
"If Sarek's willing, I see no reason why not," Bruce said. "Remember that Vulcan wants to keep their presence secret, but you can assure them that the Satos and Jonathan Archer are trustworthy."
Jonathan Archer and his teenage friend and 'brother' Charles 'Trip' Tucker were seated in the waiting room of Wayne Manor talking quietly, while another teenager, Malcolm Reed, was examining a nearby suit of armor.
"Why did Uncle Bruce sound funny when he talked to us yesterday, Jon?" Trip asked his older friend.
Jonathan smiled, "I have no idea, but I know that when he gets like this, it's always fun!"
Malcolm chuckled. "He's as nuts as his collection; that's why I get along well with him," he grinned as he hefted a broadsword down from the wall.
"We don't say nuts; we say mad, Malcolm!" the sixteen year old Trip laughed.
"And in England, that means that you are insane, Yankee!" the seventeen year old shot back playfully.
As they continued to trade friendly insults, a young couple and a four year old little girl entered the foyer. Jonathan looked over at the Japanese family and smiled. He rose, hushed the two playing teens, and moved over to greet them.
"Welcome to Wayne Manor, Mr and Mrs Sato, and welcome to you as well, little one. I trust you had a pleasant trip from Japan?" the twenty two year old asked.
"Very pleasant, Mr Archer. Your travel arrangements and your intercession on behalf of my proposal have been well appreciated," Mr Sato replied, his words only slightly accented. His wife just smiled. "Please forgive, but my wife is not good at learning other languages, which is more than made up for by our wonderful daughter, Hoshi."
The little girl looked up at the larger young man and then moved over to take Jonathan's hand. "I like you. Can I be your friend?" she asked, her command of language far in excess of that of most other four year olds.
Jonathan knelt down and took the tiny girl into his arms. As he rose back up he said, "I would be honored, Hoshi. I would love to be your friend, and my other friends would like it as well."
Malcolm and Trip moved over and they both added their agreement, causing the girl to smile and giggle. Mr Sato grinned, "She has learned all languages, and I do mean all! I cannot understand it, but I nurture it."
Jonathan smiled, but before he could offer a response, Alfred appeared. "Dinner will be served in five minutes, ladies and gentlemen. If you would follow me, I will lead you to the dining room and to Mr Wayne."
The first thing that caught Jonathan's attention as he entered the room was the crib in the corner near the door. Being a sucker for children, he moved over automatically. One of the adults near the table seemed to stiffen momentarily, but the young lady at his side gently laid her hand on his, and he seemed to relax.
Jonathan had started cooing as soon as he reached the crib, but it choked off into a startled squeak when he saw the one year old child contained therein. "Oh, you poor thing," he said after the shock had worn off.
Trip moved over curiously, with Malcolm seconds behind him. They too stopped and looked with sadness at the deformed baby boy. "Can't anything be done to correct those ears?" Malcolm whispered, tears in his eyes.
The man who had stiffened moved over and spoke with understanding and compassion. "He is not deformed. He is as he should be. Look closer."
Looking at the man, yet not seeing due to the grief at the apparently deformed little boy, the young man and two teens nodded then turned back to examine the child closer.
The baby was awake and quite mobile. He pulled himself to his feet in the crib and held out his arms to Trip, who immediately took him into his own arms.
The baby kissed/bit Trip's cheek, bringing laughs from all three friends, but as the child pulled back, Trip noticed his lips, and the tongue that was visible as the baby giggled.
They were green.
Trip nearly fell over, and only Malcolm steadying him stopped him from landing on his arse. Jonathan had moved equally as fast and taken the laughing baby into his arms. This was a good game for the baby, it seemed.
"Green lips!" Trip forced out. "Green blood? What the..."
Jonathan checked as well, and lowered himself to the floor as slowly as he could so as not to drop the baby in shock. Malcolm whistled, "Wow. This... elves? No, wait..."
He looked at the man who had spoken to them. He, too, had green lips, a darker complexion, and pointed ears and eyebrows. "You're... you... aliens!!" Malcolm almost shouted for joy.
Jonathan and Trip stared at Sarek. "Correct. I am Sarek, Ambassador to Earth from the planet Vulcan. I am pleased to see such concern for a child not your own contained within three young men." He reached down and lifted the baby into his embrace, "This is my son, Sybok. I thank you for the kindness you just showed for him with your tears and grief. Even though it was based on misunderstanding, such shows me the goodness contained in your hearts better than any of your words would have done."
"A picture says more than a thousand words," Bruce murmured softly as he smiled with pride at his protÈgÈ, Jonathan.
"Come," Sarek continued. "Let us be seated, then we can be introduced properly to one another."
He led the three shaken lads to the table, and they all sat down. The Sato family were also encouraged to sit, and both adults were just as surprised and excited as the three younger lads. Bruce made the introductions, but left out two of the other newcomers. One was a Vulcan woman, about Sarek's age, and the other was completely covered in a robe and hood.
Sarek spoke then, "This is my distant cousin, Sub-Commander T'Pol of the Family of Tolik, House of Surak. She is in command of the Starship that brought us here."
T'Pol nodded at them, then rested her eyes on Trip. The young man blushed, yet he found he was unable to take his eyes off her; she was stunningly beautiful. Her eyebrow rose as she too felt a stir deep within her being at the sight of the handsome sixteen year old.
"The last is Doctor Phlox, from Denobula. He is on an exchange program with the Vulcan Medical Commission and is on this trip to expand his knowledge of the species we are in contact with. Doctor?" Sarek turned to face the robed and hooded 'man'.
"I shall lower my hood; please do not be concerned. I came this way so that you could be prepared slightly. I look more unlike you than my Vulcan friends do." The doctor lowered his hood and removed his robe.
Malcolm started bouncing in his chair, "Oh, wow! This is great!!" The ridges on Phlox' face and his coloration severely set him apart from all the rest of them, and his impossibly wide smile that seemed to cut his face in half made it such that he would never have escaped notice by humanity.
Jonathan could only grin and nod his head in agreement. He did not bounce, though. Not because he was twenty two and that he felt it beneath him; but due to Sybok in his arms playing with his ears and lips, giggling happily.
T'Mura caught the byplay between the children, and saw the looks from her kinswoman, T'Pol, at the young Trip Tucker. She nearly smiled, but held herself in check barely. Amanda was just as observant, and sent a quick message to her husband. Sarek did allow a slight smile.
Richard was no less observant than his sister, yet he was a typical twelve year old; he had a big mouth.
"Trip?" he asked the newly introduced teen.
"Uh huh?" Trip mumbled as he continued to stare at T'Pol.
"My sis, Amanda, is married to the Ambassador already... when are you and the Sub-Commander gonna get married?" he asked with a load of giggles.
Trip's face nearly folded in upon itself, and he started to blush all over again. T'Pol's eyebrows shot up and her jaw dropped open slightly, but no words came. Bruce laid his hand on Richard's shoulder, "That was not the right thing to say in such company, Richard. Apologize, please."
Looking at the contorted face of the blushing teen, Richard grew sorrowful. "'m sorry, Trip. I shouldn't have said nothin'," he mumbled.
Trip could not reply for he was fighting tears. He had fallen immediately for the Vulcan commander as soon as he had seen her, but he was also aware that she was much older than he. Richard's ill-timed words only served to drive home that he was falling in love with a stranger that would never look at a kid like him that way.
Jonathan reached over and laid a comforting hand on Trip's shoulder, seeming to know what was going on in his younger friend's mind.
T'Mura, however, leaned close to her cousin and whispered into T'Pol's ears, "He has strong feelings and thoughts for you, just as you do for him. I recommend kash-nohv. In fact, I insist."
T'Pol truly showed startlement then. She nodded hesitantly, and rose to walk around to stand next to the young man who was now openly shedding tears.
"Charles?" T'Pol drew the teen's attention to her easily.
She drew a chair over and sat facing him, "I wish to perform what we call a Mind-Meld with you. I wish to know your heart, and for you to know mine. We will share our minds and thoughts and hearts. Do you consent to this?"
Not understanding much, Trip nevertheless nodded. She wanted to meld with him? A corner of his mind, the teenage part, grew very interested.
She laid her finger tips on his face, and together they shut their eyes. The others looked on as they sat there unmoving for nearly five minutes. Just as suddenly as they had shut, their eyes opened. Trip had a tentative smile on his face as he slowly, oh so slowly, moved his face closer to T'Pol's. Trembling, he kissed her lightly.
"Cousin," T'Pol said to Sarek as they broke the kiss, "I have need of your role as House Patriarch."
"Certainly, T'Pol." The Ambassador rose and came around to them both, bringing his chair with him. "Charles," he said as he addressed the blushing teen, "I am Patriarch, or Head, of the House of Surak. As such I can, in such situations, act in the stead of any Family Patriarch that is a part of my House. T'Pol's father is not here to give his consent to a union between you two, so I shall have to act in his place."
"Union? You m...mean... married?" Trip stuttered in shock.
T'Pol smiled hesitantly at the young teen, "Yes... Trip. I wish for my cousin to check and see if we are a logical pairing. Do you consent to this?"
Trip nodded mutely, and so Sarek gently pulled him closer and began a mind-meld. After a few moments, he did the same for T'Pol.
He sat back in his chair for a few moments after finishing both melds before saying, "I find it logical that Charles Tucker the Third and T'Pol, child of Tolik, be joined as one. When you come of age, Charles, you and T'Pol shall be fully married by Ceremony. However, as of now, you are counted as such by the whole of Vulcan." Sarek then rose and took his chair back next to his own new wife, and resumed his place.
"We... we're really... married?" Trip whispered hoarsely, disbelief in his eyes.
"Yes, husband. We are," she replied. "We are also Bonded, and after this meal, I shall teach you how to speak to me in our minds."
"Lucky bugger," Malcolm giggled. "Five minutes in a room, and you walk out with a bit of all right? Damn you, Yankee!"
With a happy, foolish grin on his face, Trip stuck his tongue out at his friend. "Jealousy, jealousy!" he giggled.
T'Pol smiled again, then briefly looked down at Trip's lap. "I will return to my seat, or you will be unable to enjoy your meal, husband. We shall talk later; among other things."
Trip blushed as he also noticed what she had seen. He moved his chair closer to the table in the attempt to hide his problem. Jonathan repressed a laugh and clapped him on his shoulder, "Okay, lover-boy. Mom is going to freak out."
"Yeah," he mumbled as everyone smiled at him (Vulcan's not included), "Aunt Sally will have things to say." His eyes popped open. "Sir?" he asked Sarek.
"My aunt! And uncle! Don't they have to agree? I'm still a child by law," Trip rushed out, fear at loosing his newly found love plainly seen in his eyes.
Bruce spoke up, "Trip, I know your guardians very well, and they are both part of the details surrounding our new friends as of ten o'clock this morning. I shall call them after the meal and ask them to speak to all of us, the Ambassador included. I do not think they would have much of a problem."
Trip sighed in relief as he sagged back into his chair. He raised his eyes to meet those of T'Pol, and then all doubt fled. 'Whether or not I get their approval, I will be her husband! I love her!' he thought to himself, smiling all the while.
Sarek looked at Jonathan. "Mr Archer, Mr Wayne has told me little about you and your friends, and nothing at all about the Sato family. Could you enlighten us, please?"
"Certainly, Ambassador," Jonathan smiled. He cleared his throat, "It's a long story, however, so we should eat while I tell it."
Bruce added his agreement, "That is a good idea, Jonathan. Alfred? If you could tell the kitchens that we would like to begin our meal now, we can all be comfortable for the tale."
"As you wish, Master Bruce," the older man nodded with a smile. As he passed Trip's chair, however, he leaned down and whispered, "Your room is open and ready for you, young sir. I was expecting you and Master Jonathan to stay the night; but I think you really need it for this night."
Trip blushed harder than even before as he cast a long look at his new wife. "Y...yeah... thanks, Uncle Alfred," he whispered back, another foolish grin on his face.
The meal had begun, as had Jonathan's story.
"So, after my father had started working for Wayne Enterprises, we moved into Gotham. Also, Trip's folks moved here too as his father had been employed at the same time. That was ten years ago. We were neighbors and the first time I saw Trip he was skinny dipping in the creek out the back of our two houses."
"Hey, I was six! There was water, it was hot, what do you expect?" Trip giggled in his defense.
"What's your excuse now, then?" Malcolm snorted. "You keep dragging me off to do the same thing, and we're nearly adults!"
"Boo!" Trip laughed. "Get over yourself, Limey. You like it; don't say you don't!"
Malcolm's face grew dignified, "I plead the Fifth."
"As I was saying," Jonathan said through the light laughter in the room, "I met this wet, naked kid who was busy trying to get all the water out of the creek and onto the bank, and we hit it off right away. At least I'll be honest and say I joined him skinny dipping. Well, there we were; a twelve year old and a six year old. And we became as close as brothers before that day was done. Just as well, really," Jonathan finished hesitantly, looking at Trip's face.
Trip sighed. "My mom and dad died not long after. Car crash. Aunt Sally and Uncle Henry took me in and adopted me, kinda. I wanted to keep my name, so they let me."
"Yeah. That was a tough few months. We grew even closer then, and I've been there for my little Trip ever since." Jonathan pulled his brother over and hugged him, then continued, "We would keep trying to out do each other, though, which means that even though there's six years between us, we did well at school. We'd be trying to get better grades than each other, and so would end up with top marks each. That is why Uncle... I mean, Mr Wayne offered to pay for my schooling when I was eighteen."
"You have been told, Jon, to call me Uncle," Bruce laughed.
"Yeah, I know, but was just trying to be polite in this situation, uncle!" Jonathan chuckled.
He took a few bits of his food before continuing, "So, once I aced my degree two years early, I was at a loose end. Didn't know what I wanted to do, so Uncle Bruce said he would take me in and train me to be a manager at Wayne Enterprises; at least until I figured out what to do with my life. I sort of knew what I wanted, but it was impossible... until now." Jonathan looked at Sarek with a hidden something in his eyes. "I wanted to go out there," he said finally, turning his face to the now darkened, clear sky outside the window. The stars above shone brightly. "I wanted... what I never thought was possible. To go out there..."
Sarek and T'Mura shared a long look, and she nodded seriously at the Ambassador.
Jonathan missed that. He carried on speaking, "Trip was also told he could join me here, as his grades were still exceptional as well. He's so into engines and cars; Uncle Bruce started giving him special training to one day be an engineer or ship designer for the navy."
"Love that stuff!" Trip bubbled.
Malcolm chuckled. "That is where I come in," he started, taking over from Jonathan. "I'm from the Empire... British Empire," he explained at Sarek's raised eyebrow. "My father is in the Royal Navy and was stationed here two years ago, so my mother and I came with him. I'm into weapons and defence stuff, and met Mr W... I mean, Uncle Bruce, Trip and Jon as they took a tour of the ship yards given over to the RN crews."
"Even though we love different things, Malc and I were best friends real quick," Trip explained. "We both loved space and Jules Verne stories as much as Jon does, so we three would sit and dream and wonder at it all together."
"Yeah," Malcolm also turned to look out at the night sky. "It's our dream..." he turned and looked seriously at Sarek and the other aliens in the room, "a dream that now seems a possible reality."
Jonathan took over again, "Last of all, is Mr and Mrs Sato. They are amazing scientists and came up with an idea for a language translator when their wonder-daughter was born. And when she started learning languages at a phenomenal rate, it only added to the idea. I learned of it, told Uncle Bruce, and we decided to bring them all to us here so that Wayne Enterprises could throw all its weight into a Universal Translator to aid our diplomats and the prospect of lasting peace on Earth. And so, here we all are."
"I am amazed," T'Pol said, "at how fast things are moving on this planet. We see most of you as fearfully primitive, yet you are making leaps and bounds in technology far beyond where you should be. I have been told that there are groups who are into Android Construction and Positronic Networking as well?"
"That is correct," Bruce stated. "I have details that most do not on that; however, it is not an area my company works in. I keep track of all technology on earth, though, so all will be made available for review if you wish it, T'Pol."
"My thanks," she said as she continued with her meal. Conversation began between them all as they started to learn more about each other.
Suddenly, their peaceful meal and conversation was interrupted by shouting outside the dining room door.
"Madam! I will NOT tolerate this, nor will Mr Wayne! Unhand that child and desist from this unladylike show immediately!" Alfred's roar of rage was heard clearly.
"Oh, God!" Jonathan said in shock. "If Uncle Alfred is that annoyed, someone is in for it!"
"Get out of my way, old man! I will not have this nigger in my orphanage, and be damned to your precious 'Mr Wayne'," came the ugliest voice as the door burst open.
A remarkably fat woman pushed her way in dragging a terrified little boy behind her. The child was no more than six or seven years old and was certainly of African/American heritage. His upper lip was swollen and his lower split, blood drying on his chin, and an eye swollen almost shut. He was fighting and struggling against the hold she had him in, and had lost control of his bladder in total fear.
Jonathan, Trip and Malcolm were on their feet in seconds, their faces contorted in rage. They were not as slow as Sarek, however. He had started forward before the others could react, save his own kind. Both T'Pol and T'Mura held him back, barely.
"What is this?" Bruce demanded. "Miss Hopkin, what the hell do you think you are doing with that child!"
"Don't you question me, Mr High and Mighty! You waltz in and buy MY orphanage, then send me unacceptable shits like this nigger to 'care' for? I will not have this... this thingdilute my orphanage with his presence!" Miss Hopkin shot back, her face twisted in a grimace.
She hurled the terrified child away from her with force, and they all heard the snap of the boy's arm as he slammed into the floor and slid into the cot in the corner. His scream ripped from his throat before he passed out, and the cot tumbled, sending Sybok to the floor.
Sybok's piercing howl as his forehead split open on his violent introduction to the floor made Miss Hopkin look at what she had done, and she started screaming "Witchcraft!" when she saw the green blood fly.
She did not, therefore, see a completely enraged Sarek hurl his cousins to one side and fly at her. All she knew next was that her four hundred pounds of weight was easily lifted by a single hand around her throat. She looked into the frightening face of a totally pissed off Vulcan, and passed out.
Disgust and fury showing in his every movement, Sarek dropped her to the floor and ran over to both injured boys. Amanda was already holding a screaming baby Sybok, and Phlox was scanning and assisting the unconscious seven year old.
"Are they both all right?" he asked the doctor.
"The boy's injuries are extensive but non-life threatening. I will have them repaired momentarily. I will check on your son first, though," Phlox replied as he moved to Amanda, who was lovingly cradling the still screaming infant in her arms.
Five minutes later and Sybok was peacefully asleep, his split forehead completely healed. The seven year old was now awake, and sobbing as Phlox completed work on knitting his broken arm back together with his scanner. The other multiple injuries were gone, and all pain was over, but the visage of an alien over him had made the boy wet himself yet again.
"Jon? Can you and your friends take the child and clean him up, please? He needs your magic touch," Bruce asked.
"At once, Uncle," all three replied, and they led the tiny boy from the room.
Alfred said quickly, "I will find something for the poor child to wear, sir. I'll leave this... this 'woman' to you."
"Okay, Alfred," Bruce nodded as he looked with distaste at the still unconscious Miss Hopkin.
"Was that a monster?" the boy trembled as they stood in Jonathan's en-suite bathroom.
Trip, who was peeling off the child's soiled clothing, answered, "No, he's an alien! From another world!"
"Really?" the child squeaked, excitement replacing fear in an instant. "Really really?"
"Yup," Jonathan laughed as he laid his own clothes to one side and stepped into the shower. Once activated and at a comfortable temperature, Trip handed him the child. Holding him on his hip, Jonathan started to wash him down gently, and was soon joined by his younger friends. Together they managed to calm the jumpy kid down and start what turned out to be a never ending well of giggles and wide eyed wondering excitement.
"What's your name?" Malcolm asked as he worked in the shampoo to the kid's short black hair.
"Travis. Travis Mayweather, 'nd I'm seven!" he replied proudly. "What's yours?" he asked, giggling.
"I'm Malcolm Reed, this is Charles 'Trip' Tucker and Jonathan Archer," Malcolm smiled down at him.
Travis smiled back, "You gonna be my friends?"
"Forever and ever," Jonathan hugged him closer, "Forever and ever."
Five minutes later, and all four were back out of the shower and dressed. All that Alfred could find for Travis was some of Bruce Wayne's old PJ's. They were well made, warm and comfortable and Travis was half asleep in Jonathan's arms by the time they all got back to the dining room.
There, they saw what was left of Miss Hopkin being swept up and poured into a dustbin....
"I cannot believe," Mr Sato stated in horror as the door closed behind Jonathan and the three other boys, "how anyone can treat a child that way!"
Mrs Sato nodded her head as her husband translated what he had said for her benefit.
"Nor can we," Sarek said softly, his fury contained but still present as he cradled his son in his arms. "I must apologize, my cousins," he added, turning to T'Pol and T'Mura. "I should not have thrown you both that way."
Both women raised their eyebrows. "We do not know why you are apologizing, Cousin," T'Mura said neutrally. "You are a father; it was expected."
"Agreed," T'Pol added.
Bruce sat down with an explosive breath. "I want to know why she thought she could get away with even half of this."
Handing his son to his young wife, Sarek answered, "I shall find out."
He lifted the woman up and touched a finger to her forehead. Her eyes shot open and she tried to yell, only to find that she could not make a sound.
Sarek stated, "I am not a demon, and no witchcraft is in use here. You have come perilously close to openly declaring war on Vulcan, and only my decision here and now will decide whether or not I and the High Council complete the offer of friendship with your world, or attack in retaliation. We do not accept attempts on the lives of children, and in injuring my son, you have done far more than that. You have attacked who is, in your terms, a Crown Prince."
Miss Hopkin started to silently blubber in fear at the level of anger in Sarek's eyes.
"I shall take what I need from your mind. I am taking authority here, for by the actions of three young people in the last hour I see the possibility for your world. They saw my child and were concerned and loved him. You saw him and denounced him as a demon, and your contempt for children is clear already. I will follow the possibility shown by Jonathan, Malcolm and Charles. I will, however, judge you. Know that your government has no say here, for I am a diplomat, and my word on this world holds the power of all of Vulcan."
He grasped both sides of her head and began his meld, leaving Phlox, T'Pol and T'Mura to explain to the others what was about to happen. "On our world," T'Pol said, "we use telepathy as a means of acquiring guilt and evidence for a crime. It is considered infallible and is checked by an independent telepath. T'Mura is highly trained in that field, and so will be the second to the information Sarek gains from her mind."
"The judgement given is always tailored to the crime," T'Mura completed. "and Sarek alone will decide that. Mr and Mrs Sato. I believe you should go into the adjoining room, for I expect the highest penalty here, and your child should not be a witness to this."
Mrs Sato was briefly told what was said, and immediately got up and picked up her daughter. She moved and closed the door behind her just as Sarek finished with the meld.
Sarek left Phlox to hold the now terrified fat woman while he and T'Mura joined in a far gentler meld.
Five minutes later, Sarek broke the meld and turned to Miss Hopkin. "You are guilty of murder, as well as abuse on multiple levels. Five children, whom you found to be of lesser worth than yourself, have perished by your hands. You have systematically abused most of the others in your 'care'. I find you worthy of death, and I do not say that lightly nor often."
He pulled from his belt what looked to Bruce like a small gun, pointed it at the trembling Miss Hopkin, and fired.
A green beam of light shot out and all that remained of the fat woman was dust.
Alfred, having entered the room just moments before, snorted and turned to leave, "Too kind, I think. I'll get the broom, Master Wayne."
Entering the room ten minutes later to see the remains of Miss Hopkin being cleared away, Jonathan and the others were briefly told of what had transpired. Travis woke up when the smell from the half eaten food on the table reached his nose. His stomach rumbled.
"We need more food, Alfred," Bruce laughed.
"I see that," Alfred replied, smiling. "I shall be but a moment."
The meal was slow to restart, but soon, after having certain fears laid to rest by the Ambassador, they got back to where they were before: relaxed and enjoying the company. The joy in the room, however, was emanating from the excited Travis who was seated on Sarek's lap and sharing the Vulcan's dinner, much to the Ambassador's very hidden amusement.
T'Mura spoke as the last of the wonderful meal was consumed, "I have scanned all five of you, Jonathan; Hoshi and Travis included. You all have a desire for space, even the youngest."
She turned to Sarek, "They are the first. They are your Beginning."
"Beginning?" Trip asked curiously.
Jonathan, however, had worked it out. "We're going into space??" he asked excitedly.
Sarek nodded. "The three of you," he pointed at Trip, Malcolm and Jonathan, "shall begin your training at once. Travis and Hoshi shall begin a lighter version of it, but will not be parted from you. In my meld earlier with T'Mura I was shown that the five of you shall work together best, so you shall learn together as well. It will take years before Earth has its first starship, but until then, the Vulcan Fleet shall have you five as members. The first of many more to come."
Bruce looked up at his protÈgÈ, "Well, young man. I think that dreams do come true."
"Yes, Uncle," Jonathan replied, tears in his eyes. "They do."
Sarek turned to Mr and Mrs Sato. "You shall also go with them as they train, for we can assist you with your Universal Translator. We will not build it for you, as that way you and your race will not learn. We will, however, examine what you make, advise and guide. Once you are at a level closer to our own shall we teach you more, rather than let you discover everything all alone. It is the sure way to know you will be careful with the knowledge you gain." He waited for a reply as Mr Sato translated for his wife.
Both of Hoshi's parents then nodded happily, excitement also in them both.
T'Mura turned to regard Phlox, "You and my cousin T'Pol; I sense that your futures are tied to those of these five. The seven of you shall embark on the beginnings of Earth's greatest enterprise."
Trip was looking at his new wife lovingly. Then it hit him. "Can we call our first ship that?" he asked Sarek hopefully.
"Explain, Charles," the Ambassador replied.
Trip giggled, "Our first Earth ship... can we call it that? The Enterprise?"
Jonathan chuckled, "Perfect! I like it!"
Sarek nodded, "I shall keep that name in mind when the designs for Earth's Star Fleet is being created."
"It's a good idea," Bruce added. "And it's a token of the past, too -- a name proudly borne by a line of famous US Navy ships; now being carried out to the stars!"
They all moved from the Dining Room and went to the Lounge. After settling down, and having fresh drinks in their hands, the conversation moved onto what was to be expected with the formation of Earth's Space-Program.
Travis was beginning to tremble in excitement. Sarek had him on his lap in a loose hug, and had to repress a smile at the young child's enthusiasm. "Travis: I gather you are pleased with the idea of going to space," the Ambassador stated.
"Uh huh! It would be so fun!" Travis bubbled. "I liked driving in my go-kart when my dada took me out to play and I always went very, very fast, and I never hit anything, not trees or fences or nuffin! Flying up there in the sky! Wow, I could fly around the moon, and all the way 'round the Earth too?"
Sarek blinked a few times as he assimilated the speed of the verbal delivery. "I believe we have the helmsman for the first starship."
Hoshi was giggling from Jonathan's arms. She and T'Mura were talking quietly and half of Hoshi's words were now Vulcan. "And we have the communications Officer within this child, Cousin," she added.
Trip grinned from his place next to T'Pol. Their hands were linked and a soft, relaxed expression was on both faces. "I know what I'm going to do; engineer!" the sixteen year old laughed.
Bruce stood up quickly. "Almost forgot; we need to call Henry and Sally Archer. I shall return in a moment."
As he moved to leave, Sarek also rose, "I shall go with you. I can arrange to have them here faster than you, I believe."
Henry and Sally Archer sat there listening to both their son and foster/adopted son spill out the day's adventure open mouthed.
"I... I'm lost for words," Henry mumbled. "I knew I was in for a treat when I was asked to work with Doctors Tesla and Cochrane on their new 'engine' by Mr. Wayne, I never expected my youngest would get married the same day!"
Trip stood up and moved over, handing the young Travis into Jonathan's arms. "Dad," he said, using the name he rarely called his foster/adopted father. "Dad, I love her. I really do. Please say it's okay? Please?"
Henry's eyes, loving as always, softened even more, for Trip only ever used 'Mom' and 'Dad' when it was a serious heart issue he wanted to talk about. "Son, if you truly love her, and if she does you, then yes, you have my consent to this."
"Mine as well, Trip." Sally rose and pulled the lad into a fierce hug. "Just make sure we get to come to your wedding! I always thought you'd settle down before Jon; he's too much of a wanderer to settle so fast!"
"Mom!" Jonathan complained with a light blush. "Please, I'll find someone soon, okay?"
"It would be illogical to deny you both the right to be there, Mr. and Mrs. Archer," T'Pol stated from her seat. "However, do you understand that by Vulcan tradition, we are married already? The Ceremony is just part of our heritage. We are allowed all rights between married couples already, including children. Do you consent to this as well?"
Henry started chuckling. "Well, well..."
Sally nodded, "Just love him, T'Pol. And if you cannot call us mom and dad, then please, use our names." She pushed Trip back slightly from the hug and looked into his eyes, "Just be happy, little man. Just be happy."
"I will, Mom. I know I will," he promised.
T'Pol stood then. "Husband, it is late. Do you wish to retire for the night?"
Down the bond-link that had been explained over the meal to the sixteen year old, Trip felt T'Pol's emotions; and he suddenly blushed again and grew shaky. "O...okay, T'hy'la," he stuttered, that foolish grin back on his face.
The others smiled benignly at him as he was led from the room by T'Pol.
Malcolm laughed, "No sleep for them, I'm betting."
"No," Bruce said, "and I wish them well."
"As do we," Henry said, as his wife returned to his side on the sofa. "For all the days of their lives, may they be blessed."
Watching from the shadows in one corner of the room, Jacyb Shifs nodded to himself. 'Good,' he thought to himself, totally concealed from view by his cloaking field. 'Very good.'
In another corner, phase-shifted so that the Moroi-Founder had no way of sensing his presence, someone else was watching the watcher...
When it's time, it's time. Vulcan and Earth now have ties -- let's see what happens. And the storytelling skills of Iluvantir came to bring together the group that was the nucleus for the start of Starfleet. It was a unique experience to sit here and watch him work his magic, a few paragraphs at a time, on my monitor. Thank you, Ilu! Everyone, I hope you have enjoyed it as much as B and I did.
D&B handed me a wonderful opener and asked that I put my idea in for the original NX-01 Enterprise Crew (From the Series "Enterprise").
So I delivered. Hopefully, you all enjoyed this as much as D&B enjoyed watching it come together, and as much as I enjoyed writing it!
Darryl's Notes, if I may be so bold:
I must say that I am impressed. You have taken an existing premise, begun by D and B and fleshed it into a very well detailed and perfectly well adapted tale that will set the stage for many things to come. You have given us the background that explains the connections of the crew of Jonathan Archer's Enterprise and you have given each of them a purpose and the skill level to accomplish the task that has been given to them. I see this as a worthy continuation of the story which D and B began, and I can see that, together, you can bridge this history into the current timeline.
Congratulations, I am speechless. Well, maybe not quite speechless, but close.
Darryl AKA The Radio Rancher
Clan Short Archivist's Review Notes:
We now know more about Sarek's earlier life then we did before and now know even more about his character and the being inside.
D&B continue to expand our knowledge of the time before the creation of the CSU which in turns expands our understanding the CSU.
The Story Lover.