Chapter One: A Vulcan Father's Dilemma
Ambassador Soval buried his head in his hand. How could it have happened again? What was it about the Earth, he wondered, that his son so revered its culture over his own? Sorral had disgraced himself on yet another occasion, and Soval felt powerless to prevent the young man’s foolish descent into irrationality. It did not seem to matter how many times he lectured him, or even punished him, Sorral continued to insist to his father that he was an “Earther, born and bred” as he put it.
Sorral, son of Soval, was an “Earther”, except for the fact that Sorral was Vulcan…a Vulcan who had been born on the Earth and raised in the mountains of Western Canada by his mother, T’Nak. His father, the Vulcan Ambassador to Earth, Ambassador Soval, had been permitted to see his son only every other weekend, by order of the Legal Council on Child Welfare of the United Earth. It was that same irrational council which had requested on behalf of T’Nak refugee status on Earth when she complained of the restrictions of Vulcan customs and laws on the people of her planet. It was an impossible situation. How could any father be expected to teach his son the Vulcan way when he was being raised far away from the Vulcan Compound in San Francisco, California, where the primary Vulcan Embassy was situated?
T’Nak had humiliated Soval in front of everyone by engaging in a publicly broadcasted interview in which she criticized Vulcan society for being an “emotional dictatorship”, as she called it. She told the Earth officials that she wanted to stay on Earth for reasons of “philosophical freedom”—in other words, to become one of those infamous members of V’tosh Ka’tur, or “Vulcans Without Logic”. T’Nak, however, did not refer to herself by that particular name, nor did she claim allegiance to the sect. She told the Earth officials that she did not reject logic and reasonable self-control, but simply wanted the freedom to raise her son to have “choices and possibilities” that were not available to him on Vulcan because of rigid social standards and an education system that increasingly favored only those Vulcans with the “highest” intellects. She was extremely critical of the Vulcan High Command, the governmental body that her husband Soval served, because of the fact that it was essentially a quasi-military organization which had gained more control over civilian affairs than many Vulcans deemed healthy. Because she had publically criticized the government, she argued that her life might be in danger should she return. For that reason, she had sought, and won, refugee status on Earth for herself and her son.
As far as Soval was concerned, however, the argument that T’Nak would be in any danger should she return to Vulcan was ludicrous. While Soval agreed with his wife about the need for some educational reforms on their home planet, he continued to uphold the government because it was, in spite of its increasing militarism in the galaxy, still considered a meritocracy where those who worked hardest would achieve the highest positions. Soval had made this logical counter-argument, but it had been ignored by the Earth officials. The Starfleet members of the United Earth Planetary Council, Soval was certain, had influenced the outcome of the Legal Council out of spite; the Vulcan Ambassador had been a major proponent of caution in regard to Humanity going out into the stars exploring, and many Humans resented the Vulcans, and himself in particular, for it.
Starfleet members blamed him for “holding back” Human space travel by not sharing complicated technical information which was light-years ahead of their relatively primitive level of development. They simply could not understand the logic of waiting until they were mature enough as a species in order to handle the responsibility involved in dealing with advanced technology. Time and again, Human history had shown Humankind to be irresponsible in their use, or rather, misuse, of the technologies that they had developed.
Humans, Soval believed, were like impetuous children who had no concept of accountability to the needs of the many. Instead, they continually focused on the needs of the few, namely, themselves as individuals. He had been faced with a number of such self-centered, individualistic enemies in Starfleet, and he was sure that they had influenced the decision of the Legal Council out of revenge for what they perceived as Vulcan bullying in the face of Human aspiration. Since Soval would not give them what they wanted, they had resolved to hurt him by taking away his cherished son.
Soval had tried to reason with himself that not all Humans had plotted against him in this manner, but he still had difficulty repressing the feelings of resentment he held for the Humans over their handling of this highly personal matter. It had, to his shame, turned him into a temperamental and sarcastic old man, at least in his dealings with the Humans. He knew it was illogical that he had allowed the Humans to contaminate his thought processes, but his internal battle continued to rage on, unabated.
To make matters worse, T’Nak had recently co-written an autobiographical piece of propaganda against the Vulcan government entitled, “The Ambassador’s Wife”. In it, she had revealed many salacious details of their private sex life, in which the gossip-mad Humans seemed to take perverse interest. She had also emphasized the “fact” that Vulcan society, although technologically more advanced than Earth, was less socially advanced than the Human society. T’Nak made much of the fact that Vulcans did not encourage outward emotional expression in public. She believed that her son Sorral should be raised in what she referred to as an “emotional democracy”, where he would be free to express himself in whatever manner he chose, so long as it did not cause harm to those around him. Soval had tried again and again to reason with T’Nak, to explain to her the need for Vulcans to follow the teachings of Surak, especially with regard to the suppression of emotions.
“What we all need is emotional freedom, Soval!” she would retort angrily, “Why can’t you understand that? How does repressing emotion create a better society? I have news for you, my Logic-Master: our society is not better, especially not under the grip of the Vulcan High Command. It is all based on fear and shame. We fear that we’re going to lose control of ourselves and turn into the monsters that we once were long ago; and we experience shame because we know that if we dare to take on a different, more creative way of living our lives, that we will be shunned. And so, we pretend to others that we are without emotions. Most Vulcans don’t like to admit that we struggle to suppress emotions. I know for a fact that you struggle with emotion frequently, in spite of your attempts to convince me otherwise. Well, I’m tired of struggling to suppress my own soul. I won’t have my son raised in that kind of repressive environment. He and I are not leaving the Earth, so don’t even talk to me about going back to Vulcan!”
Soval tried to maintain his dignity, but he was continually drawn into these purposeless debates with his wife. He would even lose his temper on occasion, especially when they argued about how to raise Vulcan children. She had come to the point where she insisted upon living separately from him, for he had adamantly refused to consider dissolving their marriage bond--a stand which invoked intense fury in T’Nak, as both parties needed to agree to it in order to go ahead with the dissolution.
In the middle of this rancor was their young son, who had dealt with the situation as best he could, playing diplomat between his feuding parents from an early age. It was of this that Soval was most ashamed. He had allowed himself to be drawn into an emotional “war-of-words” with his wife time and again. No matter how many times he meditated and suppressed his emotions, they would always re-surface whenever she was present, and it had affected their son. Sorral had escaped the two of them by busying himself with Earth social life, including sports games and the silly imaginary entertainments that Earthers found so engrossing.
Because Sorral and his mother had been granted Earth citizenship, Soval had been forced to seek a Human legal advocate, and his mediator had only been able to win for him partial custody of Sorral, an arrangement that continued until the boy reached the age of eighteen. Soval could have pushed it further, but at the time, he decided that to do so would be to further endanger his son’s psychological development. He opted for rationality over emotion, and he was, for the most part, glad of it. He believed that, in spite of everything, Sorral respected him the more for having taken “the high road”, as the boy called it. The moral “high road”, however, had been taken at great cost to Sorral’s maturation and development as a Vulcan. There were times when Soval regretted his complicity in allowing his son to be raised amongst Humans instead of asserting his paternal authority over the situation.
Soval looked at his son in exasperation. It was no longer a child but a young adult who stood defiantly before him...still as immature emotionally as he was when he was a juvenile.
“What have you to say for yourself this time, Sorral?” he asked, his tone flat, but his irritation detectable.
“Dad,” Sorral began slowly, taking care to maintain a respectful stance, “My Honoured Father. I can explain everything. You see, my friends threw me a welcome-back-to-Earth party, and I couldn’t very well turn them down after they worked so hard to prevent my being sent back to Vulcan last year to participate in that crazy bonding ceremony. We weren’t doing anything wrong—just dancing, listening to music—that’s all. It’s just that, when we went outside, a reporter must have filmed us doing the “Party-Hardy” dance, and filed it into their news agency. I never thought that it would make the nightly news, Dad, honest!”
Soval stared intently at his son. It annoyed him that Sorral still used the irreverent, colloquial nickname “Dad” which many Earth children used on this particular continent, in reference to their fathers. The elder Vulcan had long since learned, however, that it was pointless to correct his son on this, as he would constantly “forget” to address his father in the proper Vulcan manner.
“Sorral,” he finally began, “I am deeply disappointed in your choice of leisure pursuits. Raucous “parties” as you call them, are not appropriate for a Vulcan male of your age…and you ought to know better than to do so in full public view. You are very well aware of the fact that Humans love salacious gossip. It is one of their many moral weaknesses. I had hoped that, after spending a year on Vulcan, you might have learned something about self-control and logic. Obviously, I was mistaken.”
“No, Dad!” Sorral began, raising his voice. He corrected himself, and spoke again, his voice this time reflecting a more level tone.
“Dad,” he replied, “I mean to say, my Honoured Father...you aren’t mistaken! I have learned a lot on Vulcan about its people, its history, its stories…I have to admit, I enjoyed it more than I thought I would.”
“Your reason for being on Vulcan was not for the purpose of enjoyment, my son,” Soval stated.
“I know, Dad, I know!” Sorral responded, “I was there in order to learn how to control my emotions and put logic at the centre of my mind and katra. I was there to fulfill my family responsibilities by marrying someone I barely knew, and who doesn’t care a hoot for me. I was there to take my place as a man in Vulcan society. Well, I tried, Dad. I worked my green-blooded butt off to try to be a better Vulcan, but I always failed. I failed because Vulcan is, and always will be, alien to me. I just don’t get all those weird-ass Vulcan traditions! I’m an Earther, I keep telling you that. I say that I’m an Earther, and you try your hardest to make me a Vulcan. We both keep failing! Why don’t we honor our chosen professions and find a diplomatic solution to all this?”
Soval fought to keep the tension from his voice. “My role in your life is to be a father to you, not a diplomat,” he growled, realizing that he was losing his own battle with his emotions, “and if you believe the traditions of your ancestors to be “weird-ass” as you so crassly put it, then it is obvious to me that I have failed utterly in my paternal duty to you.”
“Dad—no!” Sorral protested, “You’ve done a fantastic job as my father—honest. I think I’ve turned out very well…at least, by Earth standards.”
Soval attempted valiantly to centre himself. Finally, he asked in an almost desperate tone, “Sorral, my Cherished Son. Did the reintegration sessions at the T’Pannok Centre have any effect at all upon your contaminated katra?”
It was now Sorral’s turn to struggle with feelings of exasperation.
“Dad, no offense to the dedicated staff at the T’Pannok Centre,” he finally responded, “but I have not been “contaminated” by Human culture, and neither has my katra…my soul. I’ve been enriched by it! And besides, I have never turned into the violent, angry monster that you thought I would. Why can’t you admit that I’ve turned out just fine, and that Earth culture is no threat to me, or to any other Vulcan! I mean, come on, Dad! Let go of your prejudice for once and open your mind to another point of view! Vulcans and Earthers have been involved with each other for a hundred years. You and the other senior diplomats have been living on Earth for over thirty years—Humans and Vulcans should know each other as friends by now. Instead, we “superior” Vulcans hole up in our little compounds like scaredy-cats, too afraid to take a risk and get to know the Humans personally. I know you and Mom disagreed about that, but…she was right. We can learn a thing or two from the Humans, if we can just ditch our stubborn pride and snobby mannerisms once in a while!”
Soval hung his head. It was of no use. Nothing that he could say would convince his son of the recklessness of his path. In that, he was all too much like his emotionally volatile, passionate mother. The father held up his hand, an unspoken signal that the conversation was now at an end. Without a word, he left his son and went into the study to meditate.Start writing here ...