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Sarek nodded gravely as he concluded reading the synopsis of the Joint Maneuver Exercise of the previous month. "All appears satisfactory," he commented. "I therefore seek the logic behind your wishing me to review it."
"That is precisely why I wished this meeting," said Harrison Morrow, Admiral Commanding Starfleet. "The interactions went off perfectly, even the mock sector crisis scenario. The protocols functioned without any repercussions. And we have you to thank for that. Earth is of course proud of what we have achieved, but it took Vulcan being prepared to bring its fleet under Starfleet command in an emergency to produce the integrated force that can effectively defend the Federation if a real sector-wide crisis should erupt."
"It was merely logical, in accord with the Way of Surak," Sarek responded. "Earth designed Starfleet to be open to all sentient races. By contrast, the forces of Vulcan and Andoria are single-species, nor do the Tellarites welcome others to their command. Perhaps one in eigthteen Vulcans who have made space their career serve in Starfleet, not the Vulcan Defense Force, Earth has made its protocols flexible and multi-species, welcoming other peoples." Sarek allowed himself a small half-smile as he glanced at the portrait of Admiral MacDonald on the far wall. "A far cry from the xenophobia rampant when I first arrived here. Therefore it was logical that Starfleet have command when unity is called for. 'The needs of the Many...'"
"'...outweigh the Needs of the Few, or the One.' But it took you, sir, to show that to a proud naval tradition, and I do not believe anyone else could have done it. Starfleet is grateful … as am I." Morrow was effusive.
"Acknowledged," Sarek said. "But let us turn to other matters. What will Starfleet need in the coming year? Show me your plans."
"Very well, sir," Morrow replied. "The present exploration schedule can be continued without any supplement. The Endurance and the Lafayette are out on six-month cruises now; the Yorktown and Excelsior just completed theirs. By rotating ships between 'milk runs' for colony supply, defensive patrols, and the longer voyages of exploration, I am trying to keep consistent readiness and morale levels. Jim has met with other captains whenever they are in the same port as the Enterprise, and he concurs that the system is working effectively." Sarek nodded.
"On scientific research, I'd like to step up the pace a bit. Here are current and projected figures," Morrow said, handing over a spreadsheet printout. "We are prepared to support all current and planned colonization efforts, including the likelihood of four new colony proposals during the year, that being the number that were proposed two of the last three years. If a fifth new colony is proposed, as in 2002, I have a set-aside for unforeseen projects subject to the Supreme Council releasing the funds." Morrow continued detailing his plans, with Sarek nodding or making brief comments in the way they had evolved over a decade if working together.
At last they came to law enforcement. Starfleet had for decades provided law enforcement to new colonies until they were large enough to provide for their own police, and in theory it was the supreme law enforcement body anywhere in the Federation, either through being called in by local police needing help or intervening unilaterally under the dozen or so laws binding on all the Federation. "As you can see, Sarek, I forecast no significant change in our needs."
Sarek did not nod or gesture approval this time. He said nothing, but picked up the synopsis of the Joint Maneuver report. Morrow got the message: if humans set store by gratitude, Sarek was 'calling in his chips' now.
"Amanda wished you to review these," Sarek said calmly, handing a folder of printouts and clippings to Morrow. One glance was sufficient: they were cases of child abuse and neglect, mostly on Earth. His mind drifted back to two nights before: dinner with his nephew, who had told him he was resigning as deputy chief of police for a major California city and accepting an offer of the chief position in a smaller city, after a scandal in which his old department had failed to act on a number of abuse complaints involving influential people.
"This is … difficult, Sarek," he said. "I can and will make sure we give every bit of support to locals trying to combat child abuse and neglect. And we can bring some influence to bear to make sure more gets done. But you know Earth: if I order Starfleet in every time there is a report, we will be seen as outside meddlers and forfeit a lot of good will we've built up over the years. Nonetheless, I realize something needs to be done, and the places that are not working on it locally are where it's most needed. Let me think." He turned and began pushing numbers on his computer, pausing and scratching his chin. Sarek waited impassively.
"Here is what I can do," he said at length. "I'll set aside an allocation for a new youth services bureau, and keep my eyes open for the right person to run it. As I see it, neither of us wants a career professional doing it - we need someone thinking in terms of helping the kids by whatever means are available, not someone with a bureaucratic mindset. I won't start it until I've got someone I think is competent to run it. He or she will have Starfleet Security at his beck and call, but we'll distance the new agency from Starfleet in the public eye - Federation Youth Services, perhaps? Put a competent civilian in charge, not a Starfleet officer or a bureaucrat, but a father or mother who's shown he can reach out to help other kids than his own. That will spike the cannon of anyone with an axe to grind about 'outsiders coming in' … it will be a parent whom people can relate to, acting to help kids. Meanwhile we'll continue publicly backing Starfleet officers taking action as they encounter such problems, like the incident last month on Mu Tucanae IV or what Cdr. Dodds did here on Earth for the Carter boy. That will keep the issue in the public eye while we find the right person to run the new agency. I know this is not all you have a right to expect, but what is your reaction to this as first steps towards combatting the problem effectively?"
"It is acceptable," Sarek said. "Vulcan too may be able to bring some influence to bear. Let us be agreed, then." And with that the two men turned to other issues affecting Starfleet's future.
"I am troubled by this Crest young Jason saw, my son. I am of two minds regarding such knowledge." Sarek said, as he sat back in the armchair once the children had left.
Spock nodded agreement, "A 'Clan Short', and judging by the IDIC, linked to our House. It means that your design is about to take place, and not involving these children; at least not at first."
Sarek remained silent for a while. After ten minutes thought, he asked, "My son, when does Enterprise come in to start her refit?"
"Late July, Earth time. Once here, I shall keep in close contact with my nephew, Justin. It is likely to be a link either from Charles' family, or via myself. When are you returning to Vulcan?"
"In March. There is a gap period. We will need cover."
"Can Jason and the others assist there, and keep watch?"
Sarek nodded his head thoughtfully, "Maybe. We shall see, my son. 'Clan Short'..."
"Would it also mean having two Clans in our family? Can Earth adapt to that form of intervention?"
"That remains uncertain," Sarek said, a hint of worry in his voice, "for it has taken many years to bring Earth to this point. There are options open, however, should two Clans come into existence. Two options."
Spock nodded as he recalled the old traditions, "Yes. There is precedent for both. We shall have to advise both Clans at the correct time as to the correct course of action. They can choose to disregard the two options and remain independent, however, as would be their right."
"All in good time, Spock. All in good time. This visitor may not be from our plane, as he so succinctly put it. He made a mistake with time, so a mistake with dimension may also be viable. We know right now that a Clan Evans will arise anywhere from ten to eleven Earth months in the future. Let us plan for that eventuality and prepare for the possibility of the other."
Spock stood and walked to the window. He stared outside silently, and Sarek watched impassively for a few moments. Then, the motion of his son's shoulders prompted him to move over quickly. "My son, are you certain of your decision to place yourself as A'nirih to Jason and his siblings?" Sarek asked softly as he turned and pulled his now weeping son into his embrace.
After a brief pause, Spock nodded, "I am, my... I am, Sa'mi."
Sarek increased his hold on his now emotional son, for the childlike name for 'daddy' raised in the elder Vulcan many worries.
Again, a slight pause, and Sarek felt Spock's emotions being brought under control again. "Father," Spock said, his face returning to it's normal, impassive state, "I do not believe we have a cause for doubt over this 'Clan Short'. Forgive me for saying so, but it 'feels' right. Something I cannot explain makes be just accept it as so."
Sarek nodded quietly, and pulled Spock back to the sofa, and sat him down. He then seated himself alongside his son, and started to quietly talk to him. A minute or so after, Jason and Nathan Evans reappeared and ran over to them...
From a corner, two children were watching. One was small and had caramel blond hair. The other was slightly taller, armoured, but very, very thin.
"See Uncle?" the blond haired child asked his companion.
The boy in armour nodded, "You help him there, Levi?"
Levi nodded. "They need to stay focused on Uncle Cory and Sean."
"Thanks, Levi. Now I understand those records I just read," Levi's companion giggled.
Both boys vanished...
As they did, Spock's eyes darted to the corner that they had both been standing invisable in, for a slight touch on his senses had alerted him.
...Something that called to him...
"Jason Evans to Enterprise."
"Why, hello, Jason!" came Uhura's voice. "How can we help you?"
"Is Uncle Jim or Uncle Spock there please?"
"I'll call for Captain Spock now, or do you want me to relay you to his quarters?"
"Relay please. Oh, and thanks for those cookies, Aunty Nyota! Nath' and I loved them!"
Jason heard chuckles followed by a beep as his call was relayed. "Spock here, my son. You have news?"
"Yes, Poppa. You know what grandfather set us to seek out, of course. Two of the most likely candidates are two boys named Cory and Sean."
"What makes you believe these are the ones?"
"They have already gathered a large group about themselves in brotherhood, and they are continuing to rescue more. However, I need your help, and this logically falls in your sphere. When we were sorting out the backgrounds of those around this Cory, I discovered that his psychologist was adopted as a baby." As Jason paused for breath, he could sense his a'nirih's eyebrow quirk across the vast distance separating them. "This makes it a Family matter, of sorts. Dr. Richardson believes himself to be the bio-son of Jeremy and Sarah Richardson, who adopted him, but Draco discovered that he is in fact the son of the late Jerald Richardson Sr. and his wife Anne, who has been searching for him. Why this becomes a family matter is that Mrs. Richardson's in-laws are Harold and Jackie Littrell, who stood a'nirih and m'aih to he who is thy brother by adoption."
"And since you may not, under Red One, reveal your relationship to Charles unless it proves essential to your mission, the duty falls on me to have him contact she who is his aunt. You have done well, my son." Jason beamed at Spock's praise.
'There is one more thing, Poppa. Tony 'Sees' a death impending affecting them... one that would make their getting back in touch logical at that time."
"Acknowledged," Spock said. "Live long and prosper, my chosen son.
"Peace and long life, my chosen father." They disconnected. As always, Jason felt warmed to the depths of his being by the affection Spock allowed to show, even in his more Vulcan choice of words.
Sarek was reading quietly when a beeping went off on the console at his desk. He raised his eyes to look at the flashing signal, and to his surprise recognised the code of the VSO.
"Ambassador Sarek. Go ahead," he said as he pressed the button to receive the call.
"Voice of the Dragon here. It has happened, Grandfather."
Sarek stiffened slightly. "Please confirm: the Short boys have declared brotherhood with Justin Dodds?"
"Confirmed. Our search for Short is over, Grandfather. Clan Short now exists... you have only to let THEM know it now!" came the laughing response from Voice as the signal ended.
Sarek sat back in his chair, and permitted the smallest of smiles to play over his face for an instant...
The viewscreen showed Admiral Morrow making short work a dish of Almond Gai Ding. "You gentlemen have something that requires my attention?" he asked.
"Spock asked for this conference," Kirk said. "I am present solely as his Captain, and for any evidence he requires. While Starfleet always tries to honor the loss of crew and officers' relatives, I thought it was a trifle unusual that we responded as we did to the loss of a wife of a long-lost cousin of Chip's ... Commander Dodds' … other adoptive family. Spock, however, was insistent that we pay full honors to the late Mrs. Richardson."
Spock looked grave. "Admiral, it is not permitted that I speak publicly of my motivations, even in front of Jim. Suffice it to say that this incident was brought to my attention in relationship to Temporal Anomaly #74, which I believe my father briefed you on under Red One." Both Kirk and Morrow looked startled, for different reasons. "However, that is not the reason for this conference."
Spock's measured tones beat out his evidence. "I have forwarded to you and to my father a file detailing the recent activities of Mrs. Teri Short. Last year she lost a son in an automobile accident caused by a drunk driver. The traumatic impact of that loss caused near-complete amnesia in another son … whom she had adopted after the death of his birth mother, a close friend. Her connection to Dr. Richardson is through that incident - he was her son's psychologist. That boy is back home now. During all this, which would have caused extreme emotional distress in most women, she continued to stand as mother figure to a neighbor boy, Tyler, whose parents were unloving and for whom she was babysitter. When they abandoned the boy, she immediately adopted him - and also his half-brother, whose abuse was discovered on the same day, last Monday. When Mrs. Richardson died, she immediately reached out to her two boys to provide a nurturing parent figure. And on that same day, she and her sons rescued twin runaway boys. That was Monday. On Tuesday, she met Aaron Carter, immediately saw past his celebrity status to see the hurting motherless boy, and offered him her maternal nurture. And my adoptive brother and his husband adopted the twins whom Mrs. Short and her boys had rescued. This of course makes it Family business for me."
Morrow had been nodding, leafing through the transcript Spock had provided, as the Vulcan detailed his observations. "So you are recommending...?" he asked.
"It is by right your sole judgment," Spock said. "But it does seem the logical choice. She has been 'tested under fire', as the human expression goes, and no limit is evident on the maternal love she appears able to give. Logic dictates her as your proper choice, in my opinion."
Morrow paused in thought, reviewing Spock's words and the transcript before him. After a minute he looked up again. "Jim," he said, "stand by for orders." He turned to his computer, opened a file, and began keying in data.
"Begging the Admiral's pardon," Kirk began, "but I have committed to taking the Short boys on a tour of the Enterprise, and making the two with aspirations in Starfleet Acting Ensigns under your recruitment program. Will these orders disrupt those plans?"
"Not at all," Morrow said warmly. "You will be acting in my stead, at timing you see as appropriate, to recruit me a director for a new bureau." He smiled. "This Mrs. Short is exactly what we have been looking for to head up the new Federation Youth Services. Agree to any reasonable terms she places on accepting the position, and ensure she realizes that it will give her power equivalent to your own and the resources to reach out to kids in need as she has been doing on her own dime already. We need her more than she needs us." Turning to Spock, he said, "Let your father know, I have kept the commitment I made to him. And I thank you for finding her."
"Acknowledged, Admiral," Spock said. A smile crept across his normally stoic face as he added, "She seems like an amazing woman." Morrow and Kirk looked at him startledly.
"New grandsons?" Amanda asked with a delighted smile.
"Yes, mother. Charles and Joshua have assumed custody of James and Jacob under the Safe Haven Act., and will be moving towards adopting them formally." Spock's emotionless delivery failed to mask completely a clear sense of pleasure. "More: they are telepaths after the human mode, as twins often are, and of high potential. I have undertaken to train them in the Vulcan manner, including witness techniques."
"How did Justy react?" she asked.
"It was his idea, at first. He naturally bonded to them, as is his nature. And he has vowed brotherhood to Teri's and Dan's sons, who had taken the twins as their brothers," Spock continued.
"Remember, t'hy'la," Sarek stated peacefully, "Remember what we have planned for Jason and his brothers and sisters once Red One stops covering their existence?"
"The Than-Sakai-Maat," Spock said, as Amanda echoed in English, "The Clan of Brothers by Vow."
"Indeed," Sarek said. "Justin is at law a son of the House of Surak, able to act as befits any son of T'Khasi."
"And under Vulcan tradition," Amanda said as full realization struck her, "whoever he vows brotherhood to is therefore also counted a part of the House of Surak and the Family of Sarek. We now have a Clan that is 'in the open'."
Spock nodded, his own face also peaceful.
"Come, we have much work to do, and little time to do it." Sarek's attitude was purposeful. "Amanda, please begin drafting an amendment to the Safe Haven Act empowering... Spock, who is leader among them?"
"That would be Sean and Cory Short," Spock responded. "The information we had been given prior to this recent event is that they are both adoptive brothers and lifemates as you know, Father. Now, we have received an update from Jason. Cory is the older and the guider, Sean the enabler and the foundation on which Cory builds. He is also the memory for the group, the one who enables them to bond by sharing their pasts."
"It is only logical for Cory to become Pid-Sam, and Sean to be his Archivist. Spock, please retreive the unfinished Charter for Clan Short that we drafted six months ago. We now have names that can be added."
"What is this Charter going to cover?" Amanda asked.
"Much. I will charter them with broad authority. If human adults will not protect their children, then Vulcan will!" Sarek said with force.
Amanda's eyes were shining. "The Safe Haven Act?" she prompted.
"An amendment empowering both Federation Youth Service and Clan Short to do what Earth's governments and Starfleet should have been doing all along," Sarek answered. "I will call the Speaker of the Federation Supreme Council and the Vulcan High Council. The amendment should pose no problems. As for Vulcan, since it is House-internal, my authority cannot be gainsaid, but because it commits Vulcan to a course of action, the High Council must ratify it."
"Will Siprak cause difficulties?" Amanda asked.
"Of course. Where humans are concerned, he has left the path of logic. When Solak chose to continue his researches on Earth for his son's sake, Siprak pulled his funding, and Great House Surak took over what the Academy of Science was not underwriting in memory of his lady mother. But I can count on at least two of the other three Great Houses, and at least eight Houses Minor - in matters affecting House internal affairs, the tradition has always been for the High Council to ratify the Patriarch's judgment." Spock was nodding in agreement as Sarek completed the explanation.
"Will the fact this is a Vulcan clan operating under Vulcan tradition and logic on Earth sway him?" Spock asked.
"Logic would suggest that, given Siprak's mindset. But the fact that the boys are Earth humans will probably lead him to oppose it, so far as I can forecast his logic." Sarek replied, then said, "To work, then."
"They were made to do what?" Sarek's visage was restrained rage as he completed review of the information relayed him by Justy and the twins regarding Sammy and Jeffy Taylor, now Martin.
He glanced at his incoming messages, two of which had identical headings: "It passed." One was from Amanda at the Federation Supreme Council's offices, the other from his deputy on Vulcan.
He reached for his communicator, and punched in a number he had gotten from his son. "Ambassador Sarek to Ensign Cory Short."
"Ambassador, this is Ensign Cory Short. Please proceed."
"Ensign Short; I have just completed a disturbing call from my son-in-law and grandsons. The information I received suggests that two recent additions to your family have suffered grievous wrongs at the hands of their previous caregivers. I must insist you provide me with confirmation and scope of these allegations."
There was quiet at the other end of the line before Cory drew a deep breath and answered. "Ambassador, the information you have received is accurate. The Taylor twins were rented out for fellatio and filmed for profit doing the same. Preliminary information shows both their primary caregiver and those he trusted them with while away profited from this enterprise. At this time we are preparing to investigate further into the expanse of the damage done."
"The information I received then was accurate. Is my information correct that my grandsons swore an oath of brotherhood while visiting your residence?"
"Yes it is, Ambassador."
"Have the Taylor twins sworn that same oath?"
"Yes they have, Ambassador."
"That is as I hoped. I must chastise young Justin for failing to disseminate the implications of his swearing of the oath to you. I am aware that my two most recent grandsons were already under the same oath. When Justin responded by swearing the same oath as his brothers, he placed your group in an interesting legal position. Due to the size of your group, you qualify as a Clan pending approval by the Vulcan High Council. I have been in communication with the Council, and based on the positive effects of your actions your Clan status has been confirmed. By your actions, Ensign Sean and yourself have proven yourselves as the leaders of the Clan in the eyes of the Council. Under Vulcan law, as the senior leader you are responsible for ensuring these wrongs to the members of your Clan are righted as required by Vulcan law. In one Earth hour a technician from the Vulcan Embassy will be at your residence to install the terminal required at the Clan Leaders' residence. I must insist these transgressions be righted with dispatch. You have the resources of Vulcan at your disposal."
Cory sounded shocked as he responded. "Thank you, Ambassador. Your assistance has been most welcome. I will review the applicable Vulcan statutes and ensure they are followed to their fullest extent. I shall await the technicians' arrival."
"That shall be acceptable. Live long and prosper, Cory."
"Live long and prosper, Ambassador Sarek."
Authors' Notes: Eighty-two years before, an orphaned brother and sister were rescued from an uncaring orphanage by a millionaire bachelor and the planet Vulcan. What this set in motion comes full circle with this chapter, as Earth's young people are enabled to protect themselves. Portions of this chapter were contributed by Iluvantir, and the final sectiion echoes chapter 26 of Memories Part One, by ACFan. We hope you have enjoyed a peek behind the scenes of what led to the formation of Clan Short.