Flashback story – Lieutenant Saveron
The Vulcan doctor was accustomed to having the answers to questions or the where-withal to find them. His professional life was ordered, organised and logical; his personal life was anything but, and he had yet to deduce a solution to the problem. He had no answers, only a determination to search until he found them.
But even the keenest minds need rest and quiet. Saveron sat cross-legged on a traditional Vulcan sitting mat in his quarters, before a low table on which stood a solitary meditation candle. The environmental controls were set as always to duplicate the high temperature, low pressure and low humidity of his native world, the gravity set to Vulcan standard.
Steepling his fingers together before him, Saveron allowed his mind to slip into the familiar patterns of meditation, his thoughts on Vulcan, his grey eyes focused on the flame of the candle.
[Saveron and T’Rel’s apartment, ShirKahr, Vulcan]
Saveron blinked, and the bright glare in his eyes resolved itself into the light of Yel – the star Humans called 40 Eridani A – which still struck the plateau where the Temple of Gol sat on its stony outcrop on Mount Selaya, turned golden by the light.
The Temple was visible from the balcony of their apartment, and was the centre of the strictest mental disciplines on Vulcan, whose initiates mastered many arts great and subtle, not least the true segregation of their thoughts, closing off forever the fierce and volatile emotions that had made their species’ history so violent. There were those there who could cast their mind to another’s with only the most cursory contact, or indeed no contact at all; who practiced telekinesis and who could, through meditation, overcome the strongest of biological drives, taking the mental disciplines far beyond what Surak had envisaged when he said that they must master their emotions, lest they be mastered by them forever, and thus destroyed.
There were few enough who were sufficiently talented and disciplined to follow the advanced teachings of the Temple; T’Rel was one of them. She would be on her way home from the Temple now, having attended training after the school day finished. He was home earlier, as always. Dinner was cooking, and he took the time to watch the sun go down and think. Saveron had never shown either the talent or the inclination to follow the Temple’s advanced teachings, something which had disappointed T’Rel. No, in truth she could have lived with that, he knew; what frustrated her was not his disinterest, it was his disapproval; his persistently moderate view that while emotional control was obviously necessary, denial was destructive. She wished to undertake the Kolinahr, the purging of all emotions, and his approval was important to her, but he could not give it. ~To think that she still seeks that from me.~
It was an old point of disagreement, and Saveron automatically suppressed the annoyance it provoked, unwilling to give the unwanted emotion any space in his thoughts. He turned his gaze to the other horizon where the sky was darkening and the stars beginning to twinkle. Low on the horizon one star shone steadily, and Saveron knew it was no star, but the Vulcan starbase, reflecting the light from Yel. It was the gateway to the galaxy, and he had never been there. One day, he promised himself. The Hospital where he worked and the associated facilities where he did his research were some of the largest and best equipped on the planet, run by the medical school of the Vulcan Science Academy. They dealt with a great many cases, including those that the Starbase was not equipped to handle, and the exposure to alien life forms was greater there than any other facility on the planet, but he knew that beyond there were far more. Another subject of contention.
He turned from that horizon too, and stared out across the desert plains, in the direction of Kal-an although it was far from here, a third of the way around the planet on the other side of the deep desert and narrow ocean. An area of high cliffs and deep valleys near the coast, Kal-an was less arid than the Capital, though all things were relative. Saveron’s people, the Nel-Gathic race, were native to that region; the tall, pale-eyed Vulcans with the long names, of whom so few went to space. They were known for spawning philosophers, moderates and mavericks, people who thought tangentially to those around them. The infamous Valeris had been half Nel-Gathic, and one of the few of their people who ever left Vulcan’s gravity well.
The apartment was empty until he heard the door-seal cycle, and soft foot-falls cross the living room and through the portal onto the balcony. He was watching the darkening horizon again when she came to stand beside him, beautiful in her long robes, her thick black hair bound up, her dark eyes knowing. “You are watching the stars again.” T’Rel observed.
“Affirmative.” Saveron agreed. It would be illogical to deny it.
“Vulcan holds many fascinating subjects of its own.” She pointed out.
“That is correct.” He agreed. They stood silently for a moment, and she followed his gaze to the bright ‘star’ on the horizon; she knew it was the station he was looking at, and she knew why.
“The wonders of Vulcan do not hold your interest.” She said at last, her voice moderate and serene, the accusation all implied.
“There is far more complexity in this galaxy than is held in our world.” Saveron replied quietly; he appreciated the vast vistas and dramatic landscapes of his home, the huge monuments and especially the scientific breakthroughs his people achieved, but he had always been curious.
“Wanting is often more gratifying than having.” She told him; and old proverb.
“So I said in Kal-an.” He replied, referring to the time when she had wanted to move to ShirKahr to further her studies and he had not; they had gone in the end. But for all that life beyond the red soil of their homeworld seemed to call to him, he had made no move to answer that call. He had a bondmate and it was only recently that their younger child S’Rel had left their home for student accommodation at the Vulcan Academy of Science. But since then there had been a certain level of tension in the air; they were at a crossroads in their lives. As yet they had not chosen a path. His bondmate did not want to go to space, he knew.
T’Rel turned from the view of the stars on the horizon, looked up at him until he turned to meet her gaze, her unfathomable dark eyes bewitching as always in her beautiful, serene face. She watched him for a long time before she spoke. “I have been invited to undertake the training for the Kolinahr.” She said at last.
Saveron knew that her training in Vulcan mental techniques would ultimately culminate in such, and that T’Rel wanted to undertake that final step. “You wish to accept.” He said. It was not a question.
T’Rel watched his face. “Affirmative.” She agreed, and said no more.
Saveron let the silence drag out, waiting. When it became apparent that T’Rel would say no more he searched her face, pale eyes noting the tension in her stance, the stiff control that allowed no expression of true emotion, which had become an expression in itself, so accustomed had he become to reading her over the years. “You have no yet accepted.” He deduced.
“I have not.” She confirmed.
A long pause. He knew why she had not. He looked away from her, out over the plains in the direction of their old home beyond the desert, far further than any could see from here.
She stepped to stand close beside him. “What do you see?” She asked softly. The question allowed a distraction.
“Kal-an.” He replied. “The past.”
She looked at him, one eyebrow raised. He had always been too much of a dreamer to her. He met her gaze then and held out his hand, index and middle fingers extended, ring and little fingers curled against his palm, the traditional gesture. After a moment she made the same gesture, and touched the tips of her fingers to his, her dark eyes meeting his pale ones. It was all that was needed for their minds, bonded since childhood, to touch. It was an intimate contact that had become comfortable over the many years they had spent together.
He could feel the conflict in her mind, the duty to tradition that bound her to him, the desire to go where he would not. But she kept the resulting confusion walled up, separated from the logic of her thoughts. She was far more skilled than he, able to compartmentalise and wall away parts of her mind, even from him.
He hadn’t that skill, in the meld all his thoughts were laid bare before her should she care to look, but he had nothing to hide. He showed her what he was thinking, the memory that had surfaced, of when they were children. Already bonded, though not so deeply as they would be as adults, they could touch minds shallowly using that gesture. He had felt her amusement that first time, signalled his own query. Wrong hand, had been the silent reply. Saveron was left-handed, and he had a tendency to mirror people rather than copy directly.
T’Rel had tolerated that then, years later it came to frustrate her, if she let it, like many of his quirks that he didn’t make the effort to remedy. Imperfections. T’Rel was nothing if not a perfectionist. But they had balanced each other, she steadied him, he lightened her.
~I have not forgotten.~ T’Rel’s thoughts echoed in his own mind.
He remembered the city of Kal-an, where they grew up. He remembered the day he and T’Rel were bound as children much more clearly than their bonding ceremony as adults, not surprising given his state of mind at the latter. They had been so different, complimented each other perfectly, both intelligent professionals and quite fascinated with each other. S’Rel’s birth only two years after Teron’s had raised eyebrows, but their life had seemed complete.
~The past is another country, Saveron.~ T’Rel told him, almost gently.
~I had though that, in coming to Shirkahr, we would both find that which we sought. We could regain what we had.~ It was the truth. He still found her beautiful and exotic, enchanting. She was intelligent, logical, disciplined and dutiful, true to the traditions of their culture. What more could a man want in a bondmate? But the distance between them had grown, and in many ways they had not fought that, it had been easier not to. He showed her then the confusion he felt, the desire to regain the love they had shared and the ignorance as to what to do to achieve that. Emotions that were always suppressed, were never allowed to affect the logic of his thoughts and actions, but which never the less were there. ~What can I do?~ He asked.
~Come with me to the Temple.~ She told him, answering the candour of his thoughts with her own. Share the learning with me. It was, to her, the epitome of what it was to be Vulcan.
Yet the thought disturbed him so that he had to suppress the desire to recoil from her mentally. ~You know that I will not.~
She had not missed his reaction, though he had quashed it. ~You find the heritage our greatest thinkers bequeathed us so abhorrent?~ She asked. His reaction had hurt her, he rejected what she most believed in.
~Surak said that we should master our emotions. He never said that we should not have them.~ Saveron pointed out.
~Surak paved the way for us to rise above our animalistic past, but that does not mean we cannot build on his teachings.~ T’Rel replied. It was an old argument.
~It is the loss of a part of myself and that which we have shared that I find abhorrent.~ Saveron admitted. ~If you succeed in the Kohlinahr what will I be to you? You will not love me then, you will not be capable of it.~ Long accustomed to walling off his emotions so that they would not influence his actions, the idea of possessing no emotions at all still seemed unnatural to him.
~Cannot two beings be together in perfect logic?~ She asked him.
~Is that enough?~ He asked.
It was her turn to react badly, to draw away from his doubt. ~How you be Vulcan and doubt that?~
~I do not share your certainty.~ He admitted.
~Learn the disciplines that give us freedom from our emotions.~ She urged him. ~Then you will be certain.~
~I have loved you T’Rel; that is not something that I wish to be free of.~ He showed her then, as he had shown her when they were wed, and often when they were younger. His feelings for her had waned somewhat as they had grown apart, but had never vanished, and he had never given up hope.
When they were younger T’Rel had responded in kind, but now there was only reluctance, conflict, and above all confusion.
~What?~ He asked her, feeling the shape of her thoughts. Why was T’Rel, of all people, confused?
And there was a momentary glimpse, a flash of thought brief but startling, guilty in it’s revelation, as though T’Rel had wanted him to find it for himself, but knew that she had the skill to keep him from doing so.
It was a man, dark-eyed, shorter than him and heavier set, of the Golic people like T’Rel. Serok, the name appeared in her thoughts. Another disciple at the temple. And so he understood. Understood her reluctance, her distance, and her inner conflict. She believed in Vulcan tradition, which held that she was bonded to him, bonded for life, but she had found another who fit her ideal more closely than her dreamy, alien-obsessed bondmate. Ah.
Saveron did not know how long T’Rel had hidden Serok from him in her thoughts, nor whether the man cared for her. He had no interest in such, only in his bondmate. It saddened him that he disappointed her so, yet somehow the betrayal did not hurt him as much as he knew it should. Had he already had some subconscious inkling? But T’Rel lived by traditional mores, she could not simply leave him.
The desire to keep her, to have her love him again was strong. He could go with her, study with her, show her that he could be what she wanted. Anything not to lose her. For a moment he almost determined that he would do so, and fight for the woman he yet loved. But that would be acting on his emotions, and above all he was a logical man. He knew that he lacked the aptitude and the conviction to achieve the discipline she had, and that she had hoped to see in him. No, he could not be what she wanted, he knew, and he would only disappoint her further if he tried. There was only one logical thing to do. ~Be glad that I am not the traditionalist you would have me be,~ he thought. ~Tomorrow we will go to the Temple, and find as a Priestess to perform the ceremony of Unbinding.~ Then he withdrew his mind from hers, abrupt and final.
Her shock registered before she could quash it, and it was the last thing he felt as he withdrew his hand and mind from hers. T’Rel stared at him outright for a moment before she gathered her control and her usual serene expression returned. She bowed her head once, accepting his decision.
“That will not be necessary.” She said quietly, then she concentrated for a moment, and where before there had been a constant, subtle sense of her in his mind, there was nothing. They had been bonded almost the entirety of their lives; the empty sensation was startling.
Without another word she turned and moved quietly to the portal. She paused there, deep in thought, then turned back to look at him where he stood by the balcony rail. Finally she raised her hand in the Vulcan salute. “Live long and prosper, Saveron.” She said quietly.
Saveron slowly raised his own hand in echo. “Peace and long life, T’Rel.” He replied gravely, bidding her goodbye.
She stepped inside, and that was the last time that Saveron saw her. He heard her moving quietly about their apartment, no doubt packing some essentials, but he stayed on the balcony and watched the stars, the hollowness in his mind echoing a hollowness in his heart, a loss that he suppressed lest it consume him. Finally he heard the door seal cycle, and the apartment was silent once more.
[Saveron’s Quarters, USS Thunder]
As Saveron rested his hand on the balcony rail it changed beneath his fingers, became the smooth surface of the table in his quarters, the glare of the sun became the glare of the candle flame. Years had passed since he and T’Rel had parted, but it had felt as though he was making that terrible decision again, living through that silent anguish that he never truly acknowledged.
The Vulcan had never wished to experience the moment his wife had left him again.
Chief Medical Officer