DISCLAIMER: The Star Trek characters are the property of Paramount Studios, Inc and Viacom. The story contents are the creation and property of Djinn and is copyright (c) 2000 by Djinn. This story is Rated PG-13.
A word of prelude:
I sit, lounging rebelliously in the doctor's chair. There is no longer any reason to pretend, to take on that rigid Starfleet demeanor. The doctor looks at me expectantly, hoping against hope that this time I will talk. I will not. He wants to know all about me. But I will not tell him. But if I did, it would go something like this...
My first memories are of my mother. She was my whole world, she and my aunt. Everything that I had, everything I knew, everything I wanted, was tied up in these two women.
My name is Rise. Rise Chapel. Given life by one Christine Chapel. Formerly of Starfleet. Now buried six feet under. But I digress.
I can remember when I was barely walking, seeing this wonderful, warm person who was my mother hold her arms out for me. With Momma there to catch me, I was never afraid of anything. She was the most loving and constant force I have ever known, or ever am likely to know. She worked long hours, but she was always there for me when she was home. I never felt neglected. I recognize now what a toll this must have taken on her physically. I think it made it easier for her that I was such a solemn child, preferring to cuddle up against her with a book of my own while she read her medical texts rather than engage in any rambunctious play. I never knew how tired she was all the time. Or how sad. She kept that hidden from me.
As she also kept me hidden all these years from my father. I grew up not knowing who my father was, and I really didn't care. My mother was all I needed. What more could a father give to me? Not any more love, certainly, than that which I got from Christine Chapel. Excitement, perhaps? I had my Aunt Shayla Ross for that. She was a force of nature, that one. Blowing in and out of our lives at a moment's notice. On any given day she might show up and say, "C'mon we're going to the beach," and off we'd go. Packed off in her eccentric aqua blue aircar that she'd driven forever. The small cooler packed with sharp cheddar cheese, and sardines, and sodas for me. The cabinets filled with crackers and cookies. I never knew where we would end up and I never cared. For me, heaven was hanging over the front seat of that car as she and my mother talked.
And then when we got to the beach, oh paradise, to splash into the surf, screaming as the bitter cold ate into my bare feet, running as the huge waves broke and threatened to sweep me away. My mother was never far away, always watching to make sure I wasn't caught in the undertow. "Be careful, Rise," she would warn.
"She'll be fine, Chris," my aunt would say as she sat on the sand and laughed at my antics. "Let her play, let her have some fun."
Later I would bring them all the treasures I had found and they would exclaim over them as if they were the most precious gems. And as the sun set, we would eat our picnic meal; one that no self-respecting child should touch but one that I found perfect when coupled with the day that had gone before. On the way home, I would fall asleep in the back seat, lulled by the murmuring voices of the two women in the front seat.
Yes, those first years of my childhood were nearly idyllic for me. I would have been happy to go on that way forever. But happy times rarely last. I was six and a half years old when everything changed for me. That was the time I learned to hate. That was when a call came in for my mother and I was suddenly bundled off to my aunt's house. That was the day that as my mother rushed around packing my things I climbed up to the message log and played the one from him, from Spock. A dark man came to life in front of me, a man with pointy ears like my own. "It is time, Christine," was all he said.
"Rise, damn it! What are you doing?"
I cringed at my mother's tone. She rarely ever had to yell at me. Normally my precociousness pleased her. Not today. As my tears started to fall I managed to mumble out the question I should never have asked, "Who is he, Momma?"
She stared hard at me. Finally she sighed and knelt down, taking me in her arms. Her voice was barely a whisper as she said the words that changed my life, "He's your father, Rise. Spock is your father."
Shayla was there a few minutes later to take me to her place. She grabbed my mother by the shoulders, shook her just a little, "Chris, are you going to be ok?"
My mother gave her a brief nod then motioned with her chin toward me. "She knows."
"Shit, Chris! What were you thinking?"
"She found out on her own. You know how smart she is. She figured out how to run the comm station."
Shayla, who had taught me that little trick, had the grace to look chagrined. "Well it doesn't matter now. We need to get out of here. Call me when he is gone."
For once my aunt had no time for the games we always played. She simply grabbed my suitcase in one hand, me by the other and we made a dash for the aircar. She had us airborne in record time, and as I turned to watch the apartment building I saw the man turn the corner and stride quickly up the block to our complex.
"Who is Spock, Aunt Shayla?"
"A cold-hearted son of a bitch, that's who." She never minded her language around me when we were alone. But I knew better than to repeat it back to her or to my mother. She sighed heavily. "You're too young to hear all of this, Rise. You're just too damn young."
I stared out the window. My thoughts were fixated on the tall, dark figure that had entered our apartment building. "When the other kids ask me about my father, I tell them he's dead. It's easier than saying I don't know who he is. I never thought I would see him. How come he doesn't want to see me?"
Shayla threw me a quick look, but seemed reassured by the calm look I gave her. "Aww honey, it's not like that, really. Your mommy never told your Daddy about you. He really doesn't know you exist."
"So he would want me?"
"Yes, probably. And he'd no doubt take you away from us if he could."
I felt alarm bells go off in my stomach, "Take me away from Momma, and from you?"
I thought about this. "He is a bad man."
Shayla's face grew cold as she agreed, "Yes, Rise. He is a bad, bad man."
Four days later, Shayla took me back to my mother. She was a different woman than the one that I had left. Despite her warm hug I could feel how withdrawn she was, how hurt.
"Momma? " I touched her face, unconsciously reaching for points that I had never been taught. She shied back with a cry. "Momma! I'm sorry. Did I do something wrong?"
Shayla pulled me away, "Your momma needs to rest now, honey. I think I better stay the night." She sat me on the couch and handed me a book. "Can you be a big girl and wait here for me?"
I nodded, pretended to read the book.
She pulled my mother up. That simple contact set the woman who had been my strength all these years to weeping piteously.
"It's ok, honey. It's over now." Shayla consoled her. They disappeared into my mother's bedroom.
I climbed off the couch and walked around the living room. There were things missing. A statue of a horse that I had especially loved, an antique bowl. I wandered into the kitchen, opened the trash receptacle. They were there. In shards. I pulled some out at random. Without entirely knowing what I meant to do I closed my eyes and reached into the pottery, into the bronze.
The pottery shard splintered into more pieces as I dropped it. The bronze piece fell on my toe but I didn't feel the pain. Not that pain anyway. No, I pushed the visions away. No, get away from her! You're hurting her! Can't you see how tired she is! I started to weep as I tried to escape the terrible pictures of the man called Spock and my mother. He would not leave her alone. He was on her, they were doing something I didn't understand. My mother didn't fight him. She seemed resigned to what was happening. But I could tell she did not want it, did not want him. "Leave her alone," I screamed aloud this time.
"Rise! Come back, Rise!" My mother was shaking me.
I threw myself into her arms, sobbing hysterically. "Momma, I'm so sorry, Momma. I tried to make him stop. I tried."
Momma sank to the floor, pulling me into a tighter hug. "Shhh, sugar. It's ok. You couldn't help Momma. You didn't do anything wrong."
"She's a Vulcan, alright," my aunt observed bitterly as she cleaned up the broken pieces. "God, she hasn't even had any training and the gifts are coming out. You have to do something, Christine."
"What? If I send her to a Vulcan they'll take her away. You know they'll tell Spock. She is his heir. He won't let her go once he finds out she exists."
Shayla joined us on the floor. "How you've kept this from him is a miracle to me. Even in the meld? Even during the pain of childbirth, you kept her locked away deep in your mind. I don't understand it."
"You're not a mother," my mother answered simply. "If you were, you'd understand. I'd do anything to protect her, to protect us."
"I know you would. But how do you protect her from this, Chris. She saw what happened. But she doesn't understand it."
I broke in, "He hurt Momma."
My mother smoothed my hair back, kissed my cheek softly. "Yes sweetheart, he did. But he didn't mean to. You remember when we watched that special vid on salmon, how when it is their time they swim upstream and no matter what they keep going."
I nodded solemnly.
"Well your Father's people are like that sometimes. They get in a mindless sort of state. They are driven to do what you saw. And the problem is that your Father is much stronger than I am. So I get tired a long time before he does. He didn't mean to hurt me, really."
I knew that I looked unconvinced. Especially when I looked at her arm, where the sleeve had pushed up, and saw the marks of his fingers on her pale skin. I touched them, spreading my fingers as far as they would go to try to fill the space. My mother flinched when I pushed too hard. Someday, I vowed, someday I would make my Father pay for hurting her.
Slowly life returned to normal for us. My mother went back to work and I began to relax as weeks went by and my father did not return. But he haunted me. During the day I tried to figure out how it all happened, how I happened. At night I had dreams, sometimes bad where he dragged me away from my mother, and sometimes worse where he held out his hand to me and I went willingly. I spent hours looking up Vulcan and Spock on our home computer. What I found only confused me more. Finally I couldn't stand it anymore. "Momma? Please tell me about you and my father?"
She looked at me over her book. "Rise, I really don't think that now is a good time."
"I really need to know." I sat up straight.
She put down the book and smiled at me with such affection I felt my heart catch. "You're so much older than your age, in looks, in mental ability. It must be your Vulcan blood." She patted her lap. "Come here, if I'm going to tell you this, I want you close to me."
I settled into her welcoming lap and snuggled into her arms.
"Oh, Rise," she whispered, "You're the best thing that ever happened to me." She seemed to gather her thoughts, and I could sense her hesitation.
"Once upon a time..." I prompted.
She laughed and began. "Once upon a time there was a nurse named Christine," she looked down at me and I pointed up at her with a smile, "that served on a Starship."
She looked at me in surprise. "How do you know that?"
"I looked it up. Both you and Aunt Shayla served on it."
"Yes," she agreed, "but not at the same time."
"But you both served with Spock."
She squeezed me, "Hey, who's telling this story, huh?"
"Sorry." I tried to look contrite, which only made her laugh.
"Anyway, I fell in love with the first officer, your father, Spock. Your father is half Vulcan and half Human. That makes you three quarters Human and a quarter Vulcan, even though you don't look it. You could so easily pass for a pure Vulcan, Rise."
I filed that fact away as she continued with her story.
"One day, in the second year of our voyage, your father began to suffer from Pon Farr. It is the Vulcan mating urge. It is like the salmon going upstream to spawn. Only in a Vulcan's case he will die if he doesn't succeed. Spock had to go back to Vulcan to be married to his fiancée so they could make a baby and so he and she wouldn't die. But she didn't want to be married to him and challenged in a very old ritual."
"Then what happened?"
"It gets kind of complicated after that. But your father had to fight, and at the end he won the woman back, but he didn't want to keep her against her will."
"Then he was going to die?"
"No. The fight seemed to make everything better. Or so we thought. About a year later, it happened again. It is only supposed to happen every seven years." She could see me counting back, "Yes, Rise, this was the end of seven years. But that first time was out of cycle, either because he is human or because of something that happened to him during one of the other missions, we were never sure. But he needed someone and I was there and I loved him so much. I would have done anything to keep him alive."
"Why did you run away?"
"I'm getting to that part, honey. Just be patient." She hugged me to take any sting out of her words. "Your father and I did those things you saw. And just like you have things you can do with your mind, he does too, and he made me his wife that way. And so when it was all over, I was the one that he would always come to when the Pon Farr came over him."
I frowned as I thought over the other families I knew. "But husbands and wives live together. They love each other."
She smiled sadly, "Yes, humans love each other. But Vulcans are a little different. Or maybe they aren't and it was just that your father truly could not love *me*. In any case, I tried to live with him, I really did. And I probably would have tried even longer if I hadn't realized I was pregnant. You see Rise, your father is a very honorable man, and a fine scientist, but he is very cold. I was so very lonely with him. I wanted so many things from him that he could never, or would never give me. And I couldn't subject you, my little one, to that same coldness, that same yearning. So I told him I was leaving him. But I can't ever really leave him. The bond he and I share makes sure of that. He let me go because he knew that I would be there for him when his time came again. I would have no choice. He would die without it and I would die without him. The bond is that strong."
She stopped for a moment, seemingly lost in
thought. "You and I have lived on Earth for some time. I finished up my
degree and became a doctor instead of a nurse. During that time Spock finished
out his tour on the
"Because he would take me away." I said with scared assurance.
"Baby, I don't want you to be afraid of him. But I can see him trying to do that, or at least trying to make a life for us all together, a life that would ultimately be a lie. You were mine, all mine. And I wanted to keep it that way."
I leaned into her, pondering her words. "I don't like him anyway. He hurt you."
"Honey he didn't mean to. I should have done something, rested up, or exercised more, or taken some stimulants, I don't know. I mean I knew he was coming back but I just didn't want to believe it. But, I could feel it."
"Through the bond," I asked, understanding in some basic way I could not explain.
"Yes through the bond." She shifted underneath me. "But your father may not be coming back again."
"What do you mean?"
"As bad as this time was for me, and I know you felt just how bad it was, it was worse for your father. Can you imagine for a moment what it must be like for someone who has all that control until this hits, who then has to go to someone that does not want him, someone that has no choice in the matter, someone that he hurts as the time together progresses. He is a gentle man at heart, Rise. A cold and perhaps unfeeling man, but not a brute. I know that what happened between us this time affected him deeply."
She rested her head on my shoulder, "I know you've been reading all you can about Vulcan," when I looked up at her in shock, she laughed, "I get the bills for all that research, sweetie. You couldn't just look it up in the local library could you? You had to access Starfleet and Federation records. And I have a feeling you may have gone some other places that they didn't bill you for because they didn't know you were there? What did I tell you about hacking?"
"I'm not supposed to gain unauthorized access into computer systems, or try to get around security measures just because I can."
"That didn't sound very heartfelt, Rise. You are so like your aunt sometimes. Anyway, did you come across the term Kolinahr?"
I searched my memory. "It is a system of learning to pursue pure logic."
"Very good. Yes, it is the means that Spock hopes to use to purge himself of all emotion, Human and Vulcan. Those that achieve mastery of Kolinahr have the mental discipline necessary to withstand the Pon Farr."
"If he masters it," I said skeptically. "It sounded very difficult to do that."
"If anyone can do it, Rise, your father will be the one." She kissed my neck, then switched to a game where she blew on my neck making a loud noise, at which I squealed loudly and tried to squirm away. As we both laughed at the silliness I turned and gave her a fierce hug. "I love you Momma. I love you more than anything."
She hugged me back just as strongly. "I know, sugar. I love you more than anything, too."
For two years we lived undisturbed, once more a happy unit of two, or three when Shayla was around. I was never entirely sure what my aunt did or where she went when she was out of town. I asked my mother once and could not get a straight answer. One day when Shayla had snatched me away for a quick trip to the zoo I worked up the nerve to ask her. As we threw bread to the ducks, I said, "Where do you go when you disappear, Aunt Shayla?"
She turned to me, blue eyes sparkling with amusement. "Just like your father, painfully blunt."
"That is a distraction."
She ruffled my hair. "Nobody would believe you aren't even nine yet. You have grown up so much in the last few years." She pulled some more bread from the bag. "I have some side businesses, Rise. Just some things I do, you know...this and that."
"And you go...?"
"Oh here and there."
"This and that and here and there are rather imprecise. You don't want to tell me do you? Is it because you think I will tell on you?"
"Darling, that is the last thing I would worry about. You would never betray anyone or anything you cared about, not if it was in your power to resist. No, I just think it is better if you don't know all the details. Let's just say that some of the things I do are a little irregular."
I threw the last of the bread into the pond. "Illegal you mean?"
"Well that would be the harsh interpretation."
I couldn't help myself; she made me laugh, as she always had been able to. I bumped up against her realizing with a start that I had grown so much in my last few growth spurts that I no longer seemed like a child next to her. It had happened so gradually with my mother that I had not paid attention. But Shayla was a couple of inches taller and had always seemed like an amazon to me.
Inside I was half child and half young woman.
No doubt the Vulcan blood that circulated in my veins caused this advanced
maturation as well. I had continued my studies of Vulcans, only this time being
careful that I left no traces in the databases that I searched. I wanted to
know everything I could about my father's people, just in case. And there was
the matter of my mental abilities. I had downloaded some children's telepathic
exercises from the
As I began to understand more of my mother's
earlier life I marveled at her ability to keep me a secret from her friends and
coworkers. She kept in touch with her former crewmates from the
It helped her that I was healthy as a child, and that as a doctor in Starfleet she had access to all the vaccinations and other medicines a growing child would need. I never had to see another physician. Even when I was born, Shayla had delivered me in a psi-shielded room that she had found for my mother. As far as Starfleet knew, Christine Chapel had a daughter, a human daughter. And no Vulcan had ever been the wiser, not even the one that mattered the most.
It was my ninth birthday when everything changed again. We had a party with my friends from school at the zoo. As the birthday girl I had been allowed special access to some of the animals. I fed the penguins, and milked a cow, and even held a falcon on a glove. She was so beautiful that I had gasped out loud as she flapped her wings to get comfortable.
The raptor keeper smiled at me indulgently, "You're a strong one. Most girls your age can't hold one of these beauties. It's your birthday today? You must be quite the heartbreaker for all those boys in your high school? If you were a little bit older I'd introduce you to my son."
I just smiled at him; I was getting used to people mistaking me for a teenager. I whispered to the bird and tried to reach out to her with my mind. She made a little raspy cry and then tilted her head toward me. Slowly I reached over and scratched behind her neck. She stretched a bit more so that I could get some hard to reach places. I could feel her pleasure.
"Well, I'll be damned." The keeper was clearly stunned. "You've got the touch, Miss. You should work with animals."
I realized that he was right. I had never felt such peace as I did at this moment. I smiled back at him as he gently removed the bird from my arm. *Good bye,* I whispered in my mind to the bird.
*Feel good...person go...sad,* I clearly heard come back from the falcon.
I ran back to my mother and wrapped my arms around her. "Did you see, Mom? I held the bird." I didn't tell her about talking to the falcon. She seemed happier thinking that my mental abilities were going to stay latent.
"Yes, Rise. I saw. You took a chance petting it though." She saw my face fall as she said that. "Obviously it turned out ok, so we'll forget it."
We walked together through the rest of the zoo, my friends sometimes running ahead, sometimes hanging back with us. When we came upon a peacock in full spread, we all stopped to admire the beautiful tail feathers.
"He is sacred to Hera." I explained to one of my friends. I was fascinated by mythology, Greek in particular. I knew all the gods, demigods, and other creatures." Hera was the queen of the gods. She was married to Zeus, but he was always playing around on her so she got really mad a lot of the time." I realized that the story was going to get a little too adult for my human friends so I trailed off. Sometimes it was very lonely being me.
We dropped the other girls off at their homes and then Mom and I walked back to our apartment. She seemed unusually quiet and I felt myself becoming worried. "Are you ok, Mom?"
"There's just no keeping anything from you, Rise, is there?" She took my hand but didn't look at me. "I have to go away for a while."
I felt a moment of panic. She had never gone away. "For how long."
"I'm not sure. Oh, Rise, I don't know
how to tell you this so I'm just going to be straight with you. A friend of
mine has just been named captain of the
I was quiet as I digested this information. I fought back the terror I felt at the idea of not being with her. "This would be good for you?"
"Yes. Very good for my career."
"Then you should do it." I felt some pride in my adult words even though I could feel the little girl that was still left inside me scream in protest. "Will I stay with Shayla?"
"Yes. You'd like that wouldn't you?"
"Well, if I can't stay with you." I smiled wryly at her so she could see that I was not protesting. "Yes, it will be fine. You know how she indulges me."
Mother laughed nervously, "Yes, I'm a little worried about that." She stopped in the middle of the street and pulled me into a hug. I hugged her back with as much love as I could give her.
"I'll miss you so much, Rise. I'll miss seeing your face."
"But I can send you messages, Mom." I felt confusion.
She corrected me gently, "Voice messages only. All shipboard transmissions are monitored. No one must know that you are a Vulcan, not while you are still so young. Some day we will tell them the truth."
I smiled back at her. "When it is too late for anyone to do anything about it, right?"
Two weeks later she reported to the
Life at Shayla's was a never-ending adventure. She lived in the woods a short way from our apartment. Her house had a long dirt driveway covered with trees. Aircars had to stay low to find our place. Anyone coming down that drive blew up a lot of dust long before they got to the house. Sensors along the road and in various places in the surrounding woods also notified us of anyone entering the property. "I like my privacy," my aunt was fond of saying. "And I like knowing who's coming to visit."
I assumed all these precautions had to do
with her business but it was impossible to tell as strangers did not as a rule show
up at the house. But my Aunt's old friends did. Dr. Phillip Boyce, formerly CMO
Shayla tried not to leave me very often during the time that my mother was gone. When she did go offworld she had Phillip come stay with me. We had so much fun together. I found his medical skills especially useful with the injured animals that invariably found their way to our door. Ever since the incident with the falcon, I had been entranced with the communication I could have with animals. I called out to them in my mind. At first it was just some curious squirrels and jays and crows that showed up at my window. Then soon I noticed that when I walked in the woods the deer and shyer birds didn't flee from me. I didn't try to touch them, but I talked to them and felt them send something back. One day I went out and found a baby rabbit sitting on the porch, sides heaving in fright. Something had badly torn his leg. I calmed him with my touch and took him inside. Holding him wrapped in a warm towel in my arms, I called Phillip and had him walk me through the proper procedure to fix the rabbit's leg. After some cleaning and even a stitch or two, the bunny fell asleep on my lap. Two days later he was well enough to hop around, and the next day I let him free outside. He left without a backward glance. I tried not to be sad. I knew he was a wild animal. Two weeks later a pregnant cat showed up just in time to have me help her with a difficult delivery. We found homes for all the kittens with my friends and the mother cat ended up staying with us for good. After that it seemed like there was always at least one or two other animals convalescing at the house. Cameron even built some heated hutches outside for them.
I was still doing well at school. I was ten in Human years but over that time I had moved ahead so many grades that I was now starting my sophomore year in high school. I loved studying and found the sciences and math came naturally to me.
"You have an advantage," my aunt used to tease me, "You've got two geniuses for parents. Both of them live for scientific research."
But I loved the classics too. I read my mythology still, but also some of the old literature. Shayla had tons of old works on her info system and I would often download one to my reader and go off into the woods to enjoy it.
It was a wonderful year, but I missed my
mother terribly. We sent messages back and forth usually every day. And about
once a week we would talk. Her voice sounded so good to me. I tried to tell her
every little thing I had done since I last spoke to her and she generally told
me that she was enjoying her tour on the
"Until the next time he calls for her," I reminded her bitterly.
"Maybe that won't happen this time," my aunt tried to tell me. I decided not to argue with her, but I was not looking forward to that time, four years hence, when he would again summon my mother.
Shayla and I were up in the attic. She had decided it was time to clean out the old boxes that had belonged to her parents. When her mother had passed away my aunt had put the cartons away without looking through them. We had already spent over an hour looking at old vid albums. I had laughed to see my mother and my aunt as children. Shayla had been wild of course. My mother had been more circumspect. They looked like twins then, just as they did still, even though there was five years between them.
"Hey look at this, Rise."
I left a box of old games to see what she had found. It was a jewelry box made of a reddish purple wood. I stroked it softly. It was so smooth. Shayla pulled it out and dusted it off. The rich patina of the wood shone. "It's beautiful," I whispered.
"It's purple heart." She opened the box. It was empty inside. She handed it to me, "Here, you should have it if you like it."
I stroked the lustrous wood, then noticed something stuck between the velvet padding and the wall. I dug it out and studied the ring of white metal. It was very simple. A thin band that spread slightly at the center then went back to the original width. The widest part was embellished with small cuts that made the ring shine. "I'm surprised it hasn't tarnished," I said as I handed it to my aunt.
She studied it, then looked at the underside. "It's not silver, it's white gold. I remember my grandmother wearing this." She handed it back to me. "You should have it, Rise. Something that is yours but part of the larger family."
I tried the ring on. It was too big for my fingers.
"Wrap some adhesive strips around it," my aunt advised, "that will make it fit."
I put the ring back in the box and when we were done in the attic I found some of my medical tape and wrapped it around the backside of the ring. I slid it onto my middle left finger. That was the finger that Vulcans wore their house rings on. It pleased me to blend my heritages. Even though I feared my father and the threat I believed he represented, I had only become more fascinated with Vulcans as I grew up. In some ways I wished I could meet one someday, but I never had the opportunity.
As we sat down to dinner I decided to broach the subject with my aunt. "Do you think that mother was right to hide me from my father?"
My aunt looked up at me in surprise. She started to answer quickly then stopped and thought for a moment. She studied me with narrowed eyes. "Do you wish she hadn't?"
I met her gaze calmly. "It's not that I miss him. I have everything I want with her and with you. But part of me is Vulcan. And that part of my character has been left to lie fallow."
"You've been studying on your own, Rise. Your mother may not have caught on that you have nurtured your mental powers, but I certainly am aware of it. How far have your progressed?"
"I am about where I should be now. But it is all book learning. I have no practical experience."
Shayla laughed, "Well don't go trying it on me, kiddo." We ate for a while in silence, then she surprised me by saying, "I don't think Spock would have tried to take you away from Christine."
"When your mother came back to me, when she had left Spock and was carrying you, she was heartbroken. She had tried so hard with your father. But he had shut her out as only a Vulcan who is not interested in you can. She loved him utterly. And he was indifferent or perhaps mildly fond of her. That wasn't enough, and I don't blame her for leaving but she was a fool in the first place to think that buried under the Vulcan she knew was a heart of fire. Sometimes a cold exterior only hides an even colder interior."
I had never thought of it that way. "So she took me away to protect me from that coldness?"
Shayla seemed to weigh her next comment heavily. "Rise, I'm going to speak my opinion to you. You may not like what I have to say."
"We can be honest," I assured her.
"Has it every occurred to you, Rise, that your mother is the selfish one here, not Spock? She took you away from him, when by all accounts he would have tried to welcome you and build a family with your both. Perhaps she really did want to protect you. Or maybe she just wanted you all to herself." She hesitated, then stared me in the eyes, "Or perhaps she couldn't bear the possibility that he would look at you with the love that he would never show her?"
I sat stunned. "You can't be serious."
She got up to clear the table. "I told you that you wouldn't like what I had to say. But before you decide what is truth at least examine all the potential answers."
I got up angrily, rushing to the door to escape my aunt. At the last minute I turned, shouted at her. "I know my mother. She would die for me. She wanted to protect me. She would never have taken me away if she didn't think it was the best thing for me."
My aunt seemed suddenly very tired as she sighed. "Of course dear. Of course you're right."
I was just starting my second year at Shayla's when we got a subspace call. I rushed to the comm unit and was overjoyed to hear my mother's voice.
"Mom! What are you doing calling, we just talked two days ago."
"I had to, honey. I've got great news!
I've been offered Director of Starfleet Emergency Operations. The job is in
"Yep, Rise. I'm coming home! I'll be back in two weeks."
I shrieked with happiness and Shayla rushed in to see what the matter was. "She's coming home, Shayla."
She smiled in understanding and shooed me outside so she could figure out logistics with my mother.
I was so excited I could barely stand still and found myself running through the woods, every now and then stopping to spin in pure bliss. She was coming home!
The exotic paper crackled in my hands as I unwrapped the present, one of many my mother had brought back for me. We had spent the first few hours of her homecoming alternately hugging and catching up on all the things that couldn't be crammed into a short subspace call. Now after a light dinner she had opened her bags to dig out the things she had brought back for me.
"Oh it is so good to see you, Rise. You've grown so tall. And so beautiful." She stroked my face, kissed me tenderly. "Those soulful brown eyes. They belong to your father, sweetheart."
"I don't look like either of you though, do I?" I had studied his pictures for long enough to know that aside from the eyes and the ears I did not favor him. Same for my mother, except for our smile and the way we would try to hide it, which would only light up our eyes.
"You look like yourself, Rise. And right now you are the most beautiful thing I've ever seen." She pushed at the package. "Open this. I'm dying to see what you think of it."
I gently peeled the paper off and gasped in surprise and pleasure. It was a beautiful medical bag made of some tough but iridescent material. The bag was full of delicate instruments. "Mother..."
"For your animal hospital. It's from Primus Eight. Animals are revered there. Veterinarians are held in the highest esteem. Upon graduation they get a bag just like this. I told my contact there that my niece had a veritable menagerie. He was very impressed and insisted I take this back for you." She stopped suddenly, pulled me in close, "I hated calling you that, Rise. I don't want to live a lie like that anymore."
"When I finish high school next year, Mom. Maybe then we should stop hiding the truth."
"Yes. That would be a good graduation gift wouldn't it?" She grinned at me.
I smiled in relief. "The best!"
Our life settled back into the wonderful
routine I had relished as a child. My mother worked hard in her new job. She
was often stuck in
My father was back on Earth. He had left the
"She's jealous." Shayla turned back to what she had been doing.
"Could you elaborate?"
She turned back to me. "Spock and Kirk enjoy a closeness that your mother wishes she shared with your father."
I was puzzled. "Do you mean that they are..." I trailed off, embarrassed at what I was thinking.
Shayla shrugged. "Who knows? Certainly there have been rumors. But I actually doubt it. I believe that they are the closest of friends. Anything else is not my business."
"It would explain a lot." I mused.
"Sure it would. Which is why it probably isn't true. Life is rarely free with such easy answers, Rise. You know that."
"Yeah," I grinned, admitting defeat. "I just liked it as a nice tidy reason for why he doesn't love mom."
"Spock! Noooooooooooooooooo!" My mother's scream pierced the darkness.
I woke with a start. Disoriented for a moment, I ran to her room. Flipping on the light I was shocked to see her thrashing on the bed, calling out his name in desperate entreaty.
"Mother?" I reached for her and narrowly missed being hit in the face by her fist. "Mother, stop it. Wake up, it's only a nightmare."
She screamed his name again, then again.
I held her down, realizing at that moment that I had grown stronger than she was even in this fevered state. "Mother, wake up!"
Her eyes opened then. Thank god, I thought. "Mother it's alright. It was just a nightmare."
Even as I watched the light in her eyes dimmed. "Spock?" she moaned. "You can't die."
I suddenly understood and sat helplessly as I watched my mother slowly follow my father into death.
To this day I don't know if it was the Vulcan in me or the Human that refused to just let my mother go. With an anguished cry of denial I fell onto her, hand firmly grasping her face, fingers finding the meld points. I had some idea from my studies what to expect but I was nearly defeated by the emptiness that waited for me at the core of my mother's mind.
*Mother!* I screamed over and over. *Mom, come back to me. Don't leave me.*
Somewhere, very deep and very far away, I felt a small flicker of reaction. And I dove without hesitation into the long chamber that led to her. "Mother?*
*Rise?* her mind-voice was weak. *Go back, Rise. You can't follow me.*
*Why not? You can follow him but I can't follow you?* I sensed her trying to slip away from me. *No, Mom. If you go, I go too.*
*Rise, please. You don't understand.*
I could sense the essence of her pain, but she was right I couldn't understand it. *Then show me. Show me why you need to follow him.*
*Oh, Rise. My child. No.*
I screamed in fury, *Show me or I'll follow you and ask him myself!*
Suddenly I was surrounded by memories, by emotions, by pain so much pain. I felt the enormity of my mother's love for my father. How even during their darkest moments she had never stopped loving him with everything she had. I also felt her guilt. Guilt for having taken me away from him. All the terrible things my aunt had said my mother had felt at one time or another. But overriding all of this was the incredible devotion that my mother felt for me. I grabbed onto that.
*Don't leave me, Mom. I need you so much. Please don't leave me.*
She tried to turn away but her love got in the way. *Rise, let me go.*
I used her emotion to pull her back up the long chamber. *I can't, Mom. I can't. Come home with me. Please come home.*
I felt her surrender before she even moved to follow me. *Yes, Mom, that's right. I need you. I love you.*
It took forever, but finally we were back at what I could only think of as the right place. I let go of her and she settled back into the fabric of her mindspace. I watched for a while to make sure that she didn't flee, but she appeared to have given up on dying. Exhausted I pulled out of her mind.
I moved only enough to cover us both up, then I curled up into her and fell asleep.
I woke to a gentle touch on my cheek. "Mom?"
She moved gingerly, obviously still exhausted. "You saved me, Rise."
"I had to. I couldn't let you die. I need you."
She closed her eyes but kept talking. "I couldn't help myself. I felt him dying and part of me just started following, then more of me went till there was almost nothing left." Her eyes opened suddenly, "Rise, just exactly *how* did you know what to do?"
"I don't think so. How long have you been working on your mental skills?"
"For years, Mom. Please don't be mad. I'm a Vulcan, it was driving me nuts not to be able to control what was happening to me."
She sighed. "I'm not mad. How can I be? You *are* Vulcan and I should have done so many things differently."
"Don't say that! I wouldn't trade the life you've given me for any other!"
She was about to argue when the comm unit rang. Groaning, I reached over and hit the button. "Chapel."
"Rise?" It was Shayla, "Is she alright?"
"Yes. But it was close. How did you know?"
"It's been all over the news, I saw it as soon as I got back. But honey did you see the latest?"
I realized my mother and I had been fighting our private mental battle for much longer than I realized. I glanced over at the chrono. Four days from that awful moment when I'd thought I was losing her forever. Four days!
"Rise? Are you there?"
"I'm here. What's the latest?"
"I don't know how, but he's alive."
"Spock is alive."
I looked at my mother and saw in her face confusion, anger, and tragically hope. Suddenly I hated my father more than ever.
I recovered much more quickly than my mother. She took some sick leave and slept for days. When she was dreaming I would often sit by her bed and try to calm her. I didn't invade her mind again; I just tried to send comforting thoughts, much as I did for the animals.
Shayla too tried to help. But mom was not responding to the old ribbing as we had hoped. She walked around the house like a ghost. Even once she was fully recovered and again at work it was as if a part of her had never come back from that road to oblivion.
It was then, as I worried about her and tried to think of ways to make things better for her, that I began to form what I came to call my memory bomb. It was for my father, if fate ever decided to have us share minds, which in my heart I knew was highly unlikely. But making this little weapon helped me deal with what was going on. Inside of the bomb I piled every sad and painful memory I could think of. All the details of our life without him. All the pain he had caused her and me too. It was a potent little thing. I meant it to be. I might only have a second to show him all of the things I wanted him to know. I might only have a second to hurt him. I intended to make the best use of that second. When I wasn't refining the mental dagger I hid it deep inside me. I did not want it escaping inadvertently. No, if this were ever used, it would be on purpose.
In the end it was a crisis of galactic proportions that pulled my mother out of her depression. The Whale Probe as it came to be called was too big to be ignored. With a whole planet and more depending on her, she rallied and the old Christine Chapel suddenly reemerged
And in the end it didn't matter that she was not the one that saved anything. She was back. Whole. But even sadder. She had run into my father during the hearing that was the aftermath. He had spoken to her politely. But nothing more. He did not try to take her aside and find out how she had dealt with his death. He appeared to not even remember that they had been bondmates.
That was what made my mother the saddest. Even though she had not found the happiness she had wished for with my father, she had been his wife in every other way that mattered. Now she was not. His death had dissolved the bond. It would be easy to reestablish it, easy that is if the two people involved wanted it. And at least one of them did not.
Mother threw herself into work. She started to keep longer and longer hours. I was working hard to finish up my courses in high school so I did not notice at first. I was fixated on doing well in the advanced placement classes that would help me get into veterinary school. But eventually I realized that when she shut her door at night I could often hear sobbing. I did not know what to do for her. So I went to Shayla. Her solution was simple.
"Time for a change of scene. And I know just the place. It's a planet that is a bit off the beaten path but it is utterly fabulous. I guarantee that it will take your Mom's mind off her problems, at least for a while." She gave me a speculative look. "You though, my dear, are a bit young for a place like Risa."
"You can't leave me here! My break is coming up so I don't even have to miss school."
She held up her hands in surrender. "Ok then, let me arrange some things."
"Are we going in the Miranda?"
She practically dropped the drink she was carrying. "How in the hell do you know about the Miranda?"
"I heard a lot when I lived here." I gave her my most adult look. She had the grace to blush. "Cameron was here quite a bit if I remember correctly. He mentioned it to you one morning in the kitchen. I was just coming down to breakfast. I was understandably curious."
"Damn, Rise. You never fail to surprise me. Listening at doorways is going to get you into trouble."
I laughed, "Only if I get caught. So what kind of ship is she?"
Shayla gave up in the face of my enthusiasm and began to tell me all about her little ship.
As it turned out Shayla decided to keep me on board with her after she dropped Mom off at Risa. We headed out to rendezvous with several customers. I had been right when I guessed she was a smuggler.
"Smuggler is such a pejorative term, Rise. I prefer purveyor of rare goods." Shayla laughed as she headed us past the craft that had just traded us a large quantity of Aldebaran brandy for 25 strips of gold-pressed latinum. We were now on our way to trade the brandy to traders on a world whose government was currently prohibiting the stuff. "Just filling a need, Rise. That's the essence of the free market system. Learned that from the Ferengi."
We made back 400 strips of latinum for the brandy. A tidy profit. I could understand the allure of her profession. I piloted the Miranda as my aunt hid the currency in the ship's specially prepared false bottom.
"Ok then," she grinned at me, "Let's go get your mom. And I know I don't have to tell you not to tell her about our little adventure." She grinned as I nodded solemnly.
We arrived at Risa the next day and beamed mom up. She looked relaxed and about ten years younger.
"What were you doing down there?" I asked in all innocence.
She blushed as she stood putting her bags away in the overhead cargo hold "Oh this and that."
I threw a glance at my aunt. "It has been my experience that this and that usually means a person has been up to no good." To my amazement mom blushed an even deeper shade of crimson as she fussed with the bags. "I really don't want to know, Mom. Really."
I turned back to the viewscreen and piloted us away from Risa. Shayla seemed content to have me at the helm so I set a course back to Earth following the same path we had taken to get to the vacation planet. A few minutes into the voyage a blip appeared on the screen. "Shayla?"
She was there in an instant. "Damn." She began to furiously key in some commands to the computer. The comm channel suddenly crackled then a harsh voice came over the speaker.
"Vessel in quadrant 422, identify yourself."
Shayla punched in a command and a strange voice answered the hail. "This is Kuzu vessel Caprikl. We are on a routine trading mission. We mean no harm."
"You are in disputed space, Kuzu vessel. You have no business here. Show us a visual."
"Visual capability is not functioning. Please accept our most humble apologies."
As the programmed Kuzu tried to reason with the other ship's captain, I took a moment to scan the vessel. I felt my heart start to beat furiously when I saw that it was a Klingon Bird of Prey.
"Enough! You are clearly evading the truth. Show yourself or be fired upon."
I watched the monitors. "I think they are preparing to fire, there's a weird energy build up on the screen."
"Crap." Shayla reached over and hit some switches. "Everybody hold on," she yelled as she simultaneously turned the little ship and hit it into warp. The extreme stress on the ship as it stretched then flung itself into warp speed knocked both of us about in our seats.
"Any sign of them," Shayla asked a few seconds later.
"No." I scanned the sensors and saw nothing. Out of the corner of my eye I saw my aunt turn back to where mom had been standing. Standing! I turned around as I heard a strange whine come from my aunt.
"Noooo. Chris, nooooo."
I snapped my head around. Another moan echoed in the cabin. I realized as I ran to my mother that it was coming from me. "Mom?"
She was lying on the floor, looking like she was sleeping except for the deep gash on her temple. Blood on the cargo hatch showed where it had hit her when it had been knocked loose by our sudden acceleration.
My fingers reached for the meld. But this time there was truly nothing of her left. My aunt pulled me off her as I began to scream. "Momma! Momma! No, please no!" I didn't stop screaming till a hypo spray brought a welcome blackness down around me.
The voyage home was a blur to me. Shayla kept me sedated, told me later it was that or listen to me cry and moan, which in that little space was giving her already shattered nerves the creeps. While I was unconscious she took care of the details, called a few friends, pulled a few strings. As far as anyone was concerned, Mom died from a terrible accident during an ion storm while coming home from vacation on my aunt's private craft.
We arrived at Shayla's to find Phillip and Cameron waiting for us. Shayla pushed me, still groggy, toward the Doctor. "Help her Bones, I don't know what to do for her."
He took me inside to the room I always used and we talked for hours. At first I yelled and cried, but in time his gentle soothing brought me some kind of peace and I began to talk more calmly. In the other room I could hear my aunt and Cameron arranging for a funeral, then calling my mother's friends.
My aunt came into my room. She sat down next to me, touched me on the arm. "Rise, we're going to have to clean out the apartment. Do you want to help or do you want to stay here with Phillip?"
I appreciated her giving me a choice. She had treated me as an adult all my life and she wasn't going to stop now. "I want to help. I need to help."
"Ok, hon. We're going now."
It's amazing to me still how quickly you can dismantle the boundaries of a life. It only took that afternoon and the morning of the next day to erase any trace of our happy existence in that apartment. We packed up my stuff first and sent it back to Shayla's in the air car with Cameron. When my room was empty, Shayla turned to me.
"Pick everything you think you'll want someday. We'll put it in storage if it won't fit in the attic."
I felt like a ghoul walking around the house identifying those things that I wanted to keep. An antique plate, some statues, favorite articles of my mother's clothes, her jewelry. I left the furniture and almost everything else. We packaged up the loose items then Shayla called a charity to come pick up the boxes and large pieces. She arranged for a cleaning service then dropped the keys back at the management office.
We all went to bed early, even though I don't believe that any of us really slept. The morning came bright and sunny, and we made our trek to the funeral home. I had borrowed a Kanillian mourning veil from my aunt. Though easy to see out of from the inside, it was completely opaque from the outside.
"Don't you think that it is time to end this?" Shayla asked me gently.
"No." I looked at her as I arranged the headpiece. "Unless someone asks, Christine Chapel did not have a daughter."
"No. I don't exist." I walked out,
knowing I had made her unhappy but unwilling to change things. During the
service and funeral I stayed with Cameron. I watched the people file in to the
service, friends from
Outside, after the burial, Cameron and I hung
back and watched my aunt and Philip say goodbye to the
"Like lemon juice in an open wound. Like finding one of the major pieces in a jigsaw puzzle. Like heaven. Like hell."
His hand tightened in mine. "He's your father, Rise. Maybe, now is the time to tell him that?"
"No. Now is not the time." Already a plan was forming.
"Rise, you can't be serious."
"I am deadly serious, Shayla. And I need your help to pull it off."
"What happened to veterinary school?"
"Things have changed."
"Rise, I sympathize with your wish to know your father. But for god's sake this isn't the way. I'll take you to him myself. I'll explain everything."
"No," I said again. I did not lose my temper. I was controlled. I had played at being Vulcan for years. Now I was going to be one for real. "If you take me to him, especially after what has happened, he will have to accept me. And I will never know what he is really like. I will never know why she loved him. My way is best."
We stared at each other for a long time. Her angry blue eyes staring into my calm brown ones. Finally she looked away. I realized that I had won.
"What do you need me to do?"
I told my jangling nerves to settle down as I waited in the reception area of Spock's office. My back was ramrod straight and my features carefully expressionless as I waited for my father to receive me.
We had worked for weeks on creating my new identity. I would be full Vulcan, but for obvious reasons I couldn't be one that had been raised on that small and close knit planet. I needed an obscure origin, and my years of study had given me the answer. Roughly 12 years ago, about the time I was born, a massacre had taken place on a Vulcan colonized planet named Valkyrian. All of the adults had been killed by a group of outlaws from Orion. Reports of the tragedy had been sketchy but all of them agreed that the manner of death was particularly brutal. The children had been stolen for slavery. A Federation starship had been sent after them and the 72 youngsters had been rescued, but not before some unspeakable acts and experiments had been performed. Most of these children were so traumatized that they barely remembered their former lives and it was deemed safer to let them forget until they were ready to remember. In an effort to honor their loss, they had attached a prefix to their names that would remind all that met them that they had originated on that brave planet.
I nearly smiled thinking how easy it had been for my aunt's contacts to insert one more name into the relevant databases. There were now 73 children recovered. I was a bona fide orphan, in need of a sponsor to further my dream of getting into Starfleet Academy. A full Vulcan, outstandingly bright, 18 year old orphan. My medical records were now completely faked, but nobody would insist on double checking them. Children of Valkyrian were quite understandably afraid of doctors and medical tests. We were allowed to stay with any physician that we could stand to let touch us. And we were never ordered to see another for routine tests. Moreover, we were Vulcans, notoriously bad at actually showing up for scheduled physicals. As long as I did not get wounded or sick no one would ever be the wiser.
I carefully blocked a smile as I thought of my new name. I had chosen it carefully. Val for Valkyrian. And the second part was inspired, I thought, Eris, the Greek goddess of discord. The one who had thrown out the golden apple that started the Trojan War. It was so perfect, being my own name twisted to fit.
"Valeris?" Spock appeared at the door. "Please come in."
I rose calmly, following my father into his office, following Spock into my future.