Captain Kirk pulled at the collar of his dress uniform as he waited for Spock and Sarek to arrive in the shuttle bay. Doctor McCoy and Saavik were already there as they waited for delegates from two of Derilia’s two moons to arrive..
He glanced at Saavik who had a proper Vulcan expression of reserve. Both she and Spock had seemed more settled since Kirk had granted Spock’s request for shared duty shifts. If it wasn’t for the occasional distracted behavior from Spock, Kirk thought he might be able to forget about the persistent worry at the edge of his mind.
As Sarek and Spock entered he turned his mind to the matter at hand. Derilia had three moons, two of which had been colonized for many years. One moon had a breathable atmosphere, with flora and fauna nearly as lush as Derilia itself. The other had been made livable by dome cities and grew much of their food in huge hydroponic bays beneath the domes. The first moon had gravity slightly greater than it’s home planet, and the second, much less. This gravitational difference resulted in moon dwellers on the one settlement being shorter and squatter than the parent stock, and on the other they typically grew much taller. Politically, they were considered a type of state or territory and were granted every right bestowed on any other Derilian.
Except their voice had not been heard concerning entry into the Federation. It was not the first time the colonists had been ignored in matters of regional importance. In fact many colonists felt little connection to the home world anymore, and likewise Derilia often neglected their moon-dwelling neighbors. The long-brewing power struggle had erupted soon after the Enterprise’s departure over a month ago, and was still threatening to evolve into an serious conflict. In light of these circumstances, the Federation had withdrawn it’s offer of membership, but had granted the colonists request that the Enterprise help negotiate the dispute.
The quiet hiss of the bay doors opening directed his attention to the approaching shuttle craft. As it set down in the center of the bay, he tugged at his collar again and prepared to greet their visitors.
The older aliens that emerged looked no different than those on the planet, but the rest varied somewhat from the Derilians they had already met. Years of isolation on their respective moons had evolved what was in essence, two races separate from each other, and both separate from their brethren on the planet. Neither had the long hair of the planet dwellers, and wore it loosely without the bindings. The shorter beings had much longer fur on the outside edges of their necks and arms, but their thumbs were more proportionate to their other digits. Their faces were round, as were their eyes, and they had upswept eyebrows similar to a Vulcan’s but much thicker. They wore long sleeveless tunics that covered them from neck to ankles, leaving their arms bare. The apparent leader of his group wore a silver sash about his head, wound like a turban around the top and ending in a strap under his chin.
The taller aliens stood at least a half a meter over Kirk’s head and they had strangely luminous hair of silvers and golds. Their faces were longer than their ancestors, and nearly perfectly oval. Bright narrow eyes with lids that turned up at the outer edge scanned the room with interest. They had fingers of equal length and the fur on their arms was very fine and fluttery, almost like the down feathers of a bird. Both sexes wore short tunics like the planet dwellers, revealing long strong legs beneath. This leader was female, a station indicated by decorative cuffs around her wrists and the sparkling jewels around her neck.
“Welcome to the Enterprise,” the captain said as he stepped forward to greet them. “We have adjusted the ship’s gravity midway between what your people are accustomed to,” he said. “I hope you won’t be too uncomfortable.” The adjustment had resulted in a gravity slightly less than Earth-normal, and personally Kirk felt energized by the change.
The shorter race smiled brilliantly, feeling the effects of lighter mass, while the taller race nodded in reply.
“It is acceptable,” the female leader said, though she moved slower than Kirk suspected was normal for her race.
After brief introductions they proceeded to the briefing room. When all had been seated, Kirk took his place at the head of the conference table.
“Gentle beings,” he began, “the Federation regrets deeply its role in the current division among your people. It is our hope that we can now bring about a lasting peace.”
The male leader spoke up softly. “Your Federation is not to blame for the current crisis, Captain,” he said. “The division has been ongoing for some time as we have lived and grown apart. But we welcome your mediation now.”
Thank you, Minister Khrelav,” Kirk said. “Is it true that the moon colonies are in peaceful cooperation?”
“Artemis and Taini have always been at peace,” the Minister replied. “There is much travel and trade between our people, and we would welcome the same with Derilia itself, if they were willing.”
The captain eyed him curiously. “Do you mean to say that there is no contact with the planet?” he asked.
“Very little, I’m afraid,” the taller female replied. “In the beginning there was, of course, much communication and cooperation. But in these days, Derilia seems to have forgotten us.”
“Chancellor Raelle,” Sarek addressed her, “did any event precede the reduction of contact between your peoples?”
The leaders exchanged a glance before the minister spoke. “We have not been able to determine any particular event, Ambassador,” he said. “But it was just over a year ago when our parent world began to abandon us.”
“Most curious,” Spock observed. “Would be it possible to exam recent history for all your people?”
“We can provide any data you wish concerning the moon colonies,” Chancellor Raelle replied. “But we have little recent knowledge of Derilia itself.”
“I can speak to the Regent concerning this matter,” Sarek offered, addressing both leaders. “Do either of you have any other concerns I can convey?”
“Many of us have family on Derilia,” the minister spoke. “We wish free communication and visitation.”
“You see, we do not have the means to travel to the planet,” the chancellor explained. “Our shuttles are short range only, designed for colony to colony transport. We have long depended on Derilia for trade and longer range travel. Recent developments have made that impossible.”
“But you had the technology when you originally settled the moons,” Kirk said. “How is it that you have lost the ability to travel to the planet?”
The chancellor shook her slender head. “As colonies, we have always been governed by the planet; it was never necessary to control our own technology. You see, Captain, Artemis and Taini were settled as extensions of Derilia. No one ever conceived a time when we would have to function independently.”
“Our scientists and engineers currently study the issue,” Minister Khrelav continued. “But we haven’t the raw resources to construct ships of our own.”
“Have you other resources of value that might be traded for those needed?” Spock asked. “It would seem an easy solution to benefit yourselves and the planet, while also developing a mutually desired independence.”
“Artemis is rich in natural resources,” Minister Khrelav answered. “Plants for food and medicine; many useful fauna also. But nothing of value greater than what Derilians already enjoy.”
“Taini has many minerals, mostly trausium and asnum, ” Chancellor Raelle offered. “These minerals occur on Derilia also in abundance.”
“We have been studying the mineral called trausium,” Saavik spoke up. “It appears to have some unusual properties. Would you be able to share information on this?”
“Of course, Commander,” Chancellor Raelle replied. “It is commonly used in building and energy production, but it’s commonness gives it little value beyond these applications. I can take you to one of the mines on Taini if you wish and give you any data you desire.”
Saavik inclined her head in thanks as Kirk spoke again.
“The offer to visit Taini is most kind,” he addressed the chancellor. “Would it be permitted to visit Artemis as well?”
“Of course, Captain,” Khrelav replied. “Send as many of your officers as you wish. We will supply any information you desire.”
“Good,” Kirk said, smiling. “Then with your permission, Spock will go to Artemis and Saavik will visit Taini. Meanwhile Sarek will discuss matters with Regent Aiden on Derilia.” He smiled again as he stood. “But before you go, a reception has been prepared in your honor. If you will follow us to the observation lounge, you can meet more of the crew and enjoy a short respite from the current difficulties.”
They expressed their thanks and rose to follow the Enterprise officers from the room. Spock stayed behind unnoticed, hiding his persistently shaking hands under the table even though there was no one there to see.
It is not time, he thought, not yet.
But his fever was becoming increasingly uncomfortable and the tremors had become an almost constant annoyance. He took several deep breaths and slowly stood, willing away the vertigo that threatened to seat him again. He breathed slowly, taking solace in Saavik’s nearness and the knowledge that he would not have to endure pon farr alone. The fires were inevitable after all, but in the meantime there was work to be done.
With considerable effort, he composed himself and left the room.
The observation lounge was a large welcoming room with floor to ceiling windows that offered an unparalleled view of Derilia and it’s moons seemingly peaceful in the blackness of space. The aliens and officers mingled freely, engaging in conversation and sampling refreshments, but always returning to that grand vista with almost reverent awe.
Spock approached Saavik where she stood alone, watching the people as much as the view. He pretended to watch with her, but his eyes scanned her instead and the trembling hand he had been hiding tapped persistently against his leg. She turned to look at him with concern and impulsively he reached down to kiss her.
“Husband!” she hissed in alarm, putting her fingers on his lips to stop his advance. The busy room hadn’t appeared to notice but she blushed anyway. He paused with a look of confusion before slowly straightening up and sighing deeply.
“Forgive me,” he said.“I seem to be unusually distracted.”
She touched his face and gasped at the intense heat of his skin. She stepped nearer, speaking quietly.
“Your time has come?”
“No,” he answered. “I am still in control.” She raised an eyebrow at him.
He answered with a small smile. “My control is always suspect with you, Saavik-kam,” he said. “However, I can still perform my duties with reasonable efficiency.”
“Perhaps,” she said. “But is it not logical to relieve one’s distraction while the opportunity exists?”
He looked at her a long time but contented himself with the almost chaste gesture of holding her hand.
“I see no opportunity,” he said. “You are scheduled to visit Taini within the hour and I go to Artemis. Unless you are suggesting we leave this gathering...”
“I am,” she answered simply and took his other hand. He smiled openly at her.
“That would be most imprudent,” he said.
She returned his smile. “There are times for such indulgence,” she answered.
He gazed at her, wondering about the propriety of leaving a social—but official—function, and resisted the persistent urge to take her in his arms.
The approach of the captain and doctor caused him to let go of her hands reluctantly. She stayed near him though and her hand slid up to the small of his back. She could feel the tension and heat of his body and saw the effort it took to maintain his composure.
Husband, they would grant you this, her mind whispered.
He turned to look at her again, his hand brushing her back also.
There are greater concerns here, he answered, personal ones will have to wait.
They lowered their hands as the officers stopped in front of them.
“Well, Spock,” Kirk began, “I don’t think you’ll have any problems on Artemis. It’s gravity is about the same as Vulcan’s.”
“You, on the other hand,” McCoy addressed Saavik, “are going to be in a much lighter gravity. It’s possible you might get light headed or feel weak. Just take your time moving around.”
“Of course,” she answered coolly. “My stay will be brief and should not unduly affect my functioning.”
“Learn all you can,” Kirk addressed them both. “I’ll expect a full report when you return in the morning.”
“Of course, Captain,” they answered together.
As the captain left to prepare for the departure of their guests, McCoy stayed behind, intently studying the two Vulcans.
“You two got awfully quiet when you saw me and the captain,” he accused. “Anything I should know?”
“There are many things you should know, Doctor,” Spock teased, “but I do not have the time to instruct you in all of them.”
The doctor screwed up his face in exasperation. “Spock,” he said, “one of these days I’m going to lose my natural charm, and give you a piece of my mind.”
Spock gave him a small smile. “May I remind you that you had in essence, my entire mind, and yet there dose not appear to be any lasting logical effect on your thinking.”
McCoy snorted. “It doesn’t take logic to see the sparks flying over here,” he said. “Why don’t you two find a nice private corner somewhere and do what comes naturally?”
Saavik blushed deeply and Spock’s eyebrows rose into his hairline. “Doctor,” he said haughtily, “we are involved in a very important mission. There is no time for such dalliances.”
The doctor shook his head. “Spock, you are still in this joining thing, and-- I suspect --approaching pon farr at warp speed. It makes no sense to resist even the slightest urge.” He smiled a little and winked. “I’ll turn my back if you still want to kiss her.”
Saavik grinned at the doctor’s bluntness even as her blush darkened but Spock’s eyes flashed with sudden anger that he was unable to hide.
“My desires are not for your amusement, Doctor,” he said tersely. “And my libido is not a subject I wish to discuss.” Without a look back, he stalked away, leaving a long uncomfortable silence.
“I’m sorry,” McCoy finally muttered. “I didn’t mean to...”
Saavik laid a hand on his arm.”It’s not your fault,” she said. “The fires call to him. It is a frightening time to lose one’s reason and control. He is not so much angry with you as he is with himself.”
McCoy glanced in the direction Spock had gone. “Yeah, well,” he said, “I do push him, I guess. Old habits.” He looked at her closely and smiled. “How are you, Saavik?” he asked.
She lowered her hand from his arm. “I am well,” she said. “The pregnancy has been uneventful so far.”
“Good,” he said. “I think one Vulcan issue is my limit anyway.” He smiled again. “In any case, I’d like to give you a quick check up when you get back from Taini, just to be sure everything’s progressing as it should.”
“Of course,” she answered, then raised an eyebrow when he chuckled.
“I’m sorry,” he explained. “I’m just not used to my Vulcans being so cooperative.”
She raised her other eyebrow but her eyes smiled with him. “My logic is unaffected, ” she said, “and it is reasonable to follow your request.” She raised her chin and gave him a serious look. “And Spock will come also. I will see to it.”
McCoy laughed. “You know, Saavik,” he said. “Spock’s needed someone like you for a long time.”
She smiled freely at him. Sometimes humans could be very perceptive.