AFtermath (Kathleen)

Summary:
Category:  Star Trek
Genre:  Sci-fi
Rated:  PG
Word Count:  5600


Scotty sat motionless on a hard, stone bench in the Garden of Tranquility.   For the better part of two weeks now, he, his sister‑in‑law Fiona, Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock, Dr. McCoy and HIS daughter Joanna, had been on Vulcan, as guests of Spock’s parents, Ambassador Sarek and the Lady Amanda.   He stared numbly into the shallow reflecting pool, his anxious thoughts at odds with the quiet, meditative atmosphere of this place.   Two weeks ago, his own daughter, Erin, was transferred from sickbay aboard the Enterprise to Vulcan’s famed Shi’khar Institute.   She was catatonic, due to severe esper shock; her condition critical.   “Two weeks ago, they took her behind those gray walls!” he mused in uneasy silence.   That was the last anyone ever saw of her.   “When in t’ hell’re they goin’ t’ tell me something?”

“Scotty?”

“Here, Amanda,” he responded morosely.

“My apologies for interrupting your meditations,” she said quietly.    “I just wanted to tell you that dinner will be served in a few moments.”

“Y’ dunna hafta apologize,” he replied, his eyes never leaving the dark waters of the reflecting pool.   “I wasna meditatin’.  I was just . . . . thinking.”   He lapsed into a long moment of silence.   “I’m also not hungry.”

Amanda frowned.   “Mr. Scott,” she said, unconsciously slipping into her authoritative, school teacher’s tone of voice, “you’ve hardly touched any food since you’ve been here.”   Her tone softened.   “You won’t do Erin or yourself any good by making yourself ill.”

“I know,” he sighed.

She quietly took a seat beside him on the stone bench.   “Scotty, I know what you’re feeling right now . . . “

“Hah!” he snorted, his eyes flashing with bitter anger.  “Do you really know what it is to abandon a child?”

Amanda nodded.  “Just prior to our initial meeting en route to Babel, Sarek and Spock hadn’t spoken to one another for eighteen years,” she said quietly.

Scotty had entirely forgotten about that.

“Since, by tradition, I was bound to my husband’s decision in the matter, I, too, was forbidden to have contact with Spock,” Amanda continued.   The ease with which she shared her innermost feelings of that time with an acquaintance surprised her.   She had never told anyone these things; not even Sarek.   “Most nights, I couldn’t sleep.   My . . . conscience, if you will, kept urging me to contact Spock.   After all!   It was Sarek’s fight, not mine!”   She sighed.   “Then, logic would remind me that by taking Sarek as my lawfully wedded husband, I had also taken the laws and traditions of his home world.   I spent many a night, wondering all those things mothers wonder about:  Is he alive?   Is he well?   Is he eating and dressing properly?   How are his grades?   Has he received any promotions?   Any awards or commendations?”  She glanced over at Scotty, forcing him to meet her penetrating gaze.   “Not being able to attend his commencement ceremonies when he graduated from the Academy tore me apart!   And that . . . that business with T’Pring . . . “

Scotty looked away, unable to bear the pain he saw reflected in her gray eyes.  “My . . . wife, Colleen, died giving birth t’ Erin,” he began haltingly.

“I’m sorry,” Amanda offered kindly.

Scotty gazed over at her earnestly.  “I tried not t’ hold it against Erin, but . . . I guess y’ canna help tha’ sort of thing,” he sighed and gazed back down at the reflecting pool.   The waters mirrored back the brilliant red of Vulcan’s evening sky.   “T’ make matters worse, she looks so much like Colleen, it’s almost scary.”

Amanda quietly slipped a light paisley shawl over her shoulders, and waited patiently for him to continue.

Scotty told her about the Enterprise’s mission of mercy to El Dorado, and the gamut of emotions he felt not knowing for certain whether or not his daughter still lived.    “I was so relieved t’ find her an’ Fee alive,” his voice broke on the last word.   “Then . . . after shakin off t’ entity in tha’ crystal that tried t’ possess her . . . I’m back t’ square one!” he said bitterly.

“The healers ARE optimistic,” Amanda said slowly.   “But newly manifest telepathy, or a significant boost in power is very delicate.   One wrong move can leave the telepath brain damaged, insane, or even dead.   They have to proceed slowly, Scotty.  Very slowly!”   A wry smile spread across her lips.   “I had to learn that the hard way, too.”

“With Spock?”   He shivered against the evening chill.

“Yes!   There were some . . . complications due to his being half human,” she explained, rising.   “We’d best get inside!   After the sun sets, the temperature drops very quickly.”

Scotty rose, and both walked briskly towards the house.  “What exactly happened wi’ Spock?” he asked.

“I’ll tell you over cordials, after dinner,” Amanda promised.   “IF you eat everything that’s put before you.   Deal?”

“Deal,” Scotty agreed, managing a limp half smile.

Spock found Kirk seated in the library, with Amanda’s well read copy of Gone with the Wind lying open on his lap.   He slouched in the big, comfortable easy chair, one of the few pieces of furniture Amanda had brought with her from Earth, with his eyes staring fixedly at the window.   “Jim?”

Kirk started, almost dropping the book.   “Spock!   I, uh didn’t hear you come in.”

“I am sorry I startled you, Jim,” Spock said quietly.   “I came to tell you that dinner is ready.”

“Great!”   Kirk managed a wan smile.   He closed the book and carefully placed it on a nearby table.   “I’m starved!”

“It may interest you to know that Joanna’s test scores came in the mail this afternoon.”

Kirk tensed.   For the better part of the past week, Joanna McCoy had undergone a complete battery of tests to determine the scope of her newly emerging telepathy.  Bones had once told him that she scored very high on the standard ESPer tests given to all Starfleet recruits upon entry into the service.   As with most humans, the bulk of her ability had lain dormant, until that little excursion to El Dorado.  “Well?”

“Joanna’s test scores indicate that her ability roughly equals mine, as I had expected,” Spock reported.  “However, she did score slightly higher in the areas of empathy and reading psychometry.”

“Does that mean you’ll be able to teach her the . . . things necessary to help her cope?” Kirk prodded impatiently.

Spock nodded.  “Dr. McCoy told me that Sorrell was quite impressed with her ability to shield her mind from others’ thoughts.”

” . . . and you’ve only been teaching her since our arrival here,” Kirk declared with a mixture of pride and heartfelt relief.   He had been half afraid the healers would confine her to the institute for some indefinite length of time.   “One thing puzzles me, Spock,” he mused aloud, as they started for the library door.

“Oh?” Spock’s eyebrow rose slightly, indicating mild surprise.

“To teach her, you have to mind meld with her,” Kirk said slowly.   “I keep thinking I should be . . ell . . .  jealous!   But I’m not.”

Spock halted abruptly, mid‑stride, favoring Kirk with a wholly bemused expression.  The slightly raised eyebrow had shot right up past his bangs.

“Spock, I . . . I didn’t mean to suggest . . . ” Kirk stammered, acutely aware of a sudden rush of blood to his face.   “I’m not sure how to explain this . . . “

“Then . . . you do not know,” Spock murmured  incredulously.

“Know what?”  A bewildered frown creased Kirk’s brow.

“A psychic bond exists between you and Joanna,” Spock said quietly, “not unlike the telepathic union between a . . . betrothed Vulcan couple.”

“Really?” Kirk’s smile wavered.   The ramifications were as terrifying as they were wonderful.   “Did this come about in the aftermath of that battle with the ka d’jayhi entity?”   He remembered the entire incident with terrible clarity.

Above the pastoral planet, El Dorado, the Enterprise prepared to engage in battle against one of the new Klingon dreadnoughts.   At best, the situation was hopeless.   The dreadnought carried several squadrons of vipers.   En masse, they alone could have devastated the Enterprise in the same way army ants, on Earth, can raze an entire jungle.   If that wasn’t bad enough, the dreadnought itself could easily out gun, out maneuver, and out run any Constitution class starship the Federation cared to throw at it.   A bizarre plan, formulated by Commander Spock, offered a slim chance of survival.   It required the use of Scotty’s daughter, Erin, a formidable telepath in her own right; a legendary ka d’jayhi, found in the ruined city of Tenochtitlan, on El Dorado; and twenty crewmen, who had achieved the highest scores on the standard ESPer tests.   “All of us, with the possible exception of Lieutenant Tamis, perhaps, were totally ignorant of the danger involved,” Kirk mused guiltily.

Deltan legends spoke the of great, virtually unlimited, psi‑powers contained within these immense crystals.   They also warned of equally great danger.   During that world’s fierce, bloody planetary wars, many millennia ago, the psi‑adepts used the souls of the most powerful espers among their prisoners of war to power the ka d’jayhi.

“Lieutenant Tamis said that the ka d’jayhi were used as weapons during those wars.   The one powering the stone was actually being used by the enemy against his own side.”  The minds, utilizing the great stones, did so at the risk of losing their own souls.   Unless constant vigilance was maintained, the adept could, all too easily, be possessed by the raw fury of the unfortunate inhabiting the ka d’jayhi.   “If minds, trained in the mental disciplines necessary to cope with high ESPER powers from infancy, were endangered . . . how much more so a young telepath with virtually no training?” Kirk wondered sadly.

During the course of the battle between the Enterprise and the Klingon dreadnought, Erin’s mind, at the prompting of the ka d’jayhi entity, secretly roamed among the crew gathering many more than the proposed twenty.  <<Including me!>> Kirk remembered soberly.   “If it hadn’t been for Spock and Joanna reaching me through that mind link . . .”  Their loving support enabled him to resist possession by the entity.   That, in turn, bought Lieutenant Commander Smith, the assistant security chief, enough time to reach Erin and prevent a wholesale slaughter.   “Ironic as hell that it was his own deep seated hatred of the Klingons that got through to her,”  Kirk mused wryly.   Erin turned her formidable powers on the ka d’jayhi, shattering it into a million pieces.   Presumably, the entity was destroyed as well.   The resulting psionic backlash . . . “Spock compared it to the tsunami waves produced by severe earth tremors,” Kirk reflected soberly . . . hurled poor Erin into a deep coma, shutting down her bodily functions as well.  Bones was forced to put her in stasis to keep her physical condition from deteriorating past the point of no return.

“No, Jim,” Spock shook his head in answer to Kirk’s question.   “I believe the bond originated sometime in her early childhood.”

“I met her for the first time when she was about eight or nine,” Kirk said thoughtfully.   “I would hardly consider that EARLY childhood.”

“The actual origin point lies behind a strong barricade within her mind,” Spock continued.

“Tarsus IV!” Kirk said suddenly.

“Jim?” Spock looked at him askance.

“I . . . know it has to do with Tarsus IV,” Kirk explained.   “Bones told me that he and his ex‑wife sent her there to visit his sister while they tried to work out their marital problems.   Joanna was there during Kodos’ massacre, Spock.”

“I see,” Spock mused grimly.

“As far as I know, Joanna has no memory at all of that time,” Kirk added.   But something stirred within his.   Something that had haunted him over the years since that time.   He made mental note to do some checking upon return to the Enterprise.

Kirk and Spock reached the dining room just ahead of Scotty and Amanda.   The others, Sarek, both McCoys, and Fiona were already seated and waiting.   Scotty gallantly held Amanda’s chair, then slipped into his own place between McCoy and Fiona.   After a moment of silent contemplation, Amanda rang for the first course.

Two female servants entered, their heads bowed slightly in deference to their position.   The pair were daughters of one of Sarek’s neighbors.   By tradition, Vulcans entered into servitude at the beginning of their adolescence to learn meekness and humility.   The girls quickly served the first course in silence, then discreetly withdrew.

The first course was a thick soup, one of Amanda’s own creations.   The ingredients making up the dish were selected vegetables, native and Terran, herbs, and liberal seasoning with ground allikha, a hot spice native to Tellar.

“Amanda, this soup is delicious!” McCoy exclaimed, bolting it down quickly, yet keeping within the boundaries of good etiquette.   “My compliments to the chef.”

“Thank you, Leonard,” Amanda beamed proudly.

“The soup is one of my wife’s specialties,” Sarek added quietly.   “But do not ask her for the recipe.   She guards it with exceeding jealousy.”   A bare hint of a smile twitched the corner of his mouth.   He found private amusement in the pains Amanda took to keep her special recipes secret.   “She has not even told me the ingredients nor their measurements.”

“A lady has to keep a few secrets, Sarek,” Amanda retorted good naturedly, amid the soft chuckles heard around the table.   “That’s what keeps her interesting.”

“Indeed?”  Sarek’s eyebrow raised slightly, in much the same manner as his son’s on certain occasions.

One of the girls, who had helped serve the soup a short while ago, re‑entered the dining room, with head bowed and hands clasped submissively in front of her.   She proceeded directly towards Sarek, seated at the head of the table.   “I ask forgiveness of you and your guests for interrupting your meal, Sir,” she said softly, in Vulcan.   “The healer, Sorrell, is on the vid‑phone.   He insists on speaking with you now.”

Sarek’s jaw tightened slightly.   The matter must be indeed grave, else Sorrell would not have interrupted their meal.   Doing so was the height of bad manners, except in the direst of circumstances.   “You have done nothing to require our forgiveness, T’Pani,” Sarek said gently.   “There is no transgression in the performance of your assigned duties.”   He rose.   “I shall take the call in my study.”

T’Pani nodded demurely, then hastily withdrew.

Sarek turned to the others seated at the table and politely excused himself in Standard.  “In the meantime, do continue on with the meal.  I will rejoin you shortly.”

“Sarek?” Amanda gazed up at him quizzically  .

“Later, My Wife,” he responded in a gentle, but firm tone.

Amanda nodded acquiescently, and returned her attention to her soup.   The others automatically followed suit.

The instant the door to his study snapped shut, Sarek allowed his features to relax.   The serene mask lifted, revealing his inner trepidation.   He sat down at his desk, taking a moment to school his facial muscles back to their customary stoic facade.   That done, his anxiety once again mastered, he activated the vid‑phone extension on his desk.

Sorrell’s image appeared on the viewer.   Though his face retained a measure of outward calm, Sarek saw the healer’s apprehension mirrored in his dark eyes all too clearly.   His own anxiety hardened into a cold lump of fear in the pit of his stomach.   It took all the training Sarek possessed to retain his stolid composure.

“Forgive me for interrupting your evening meal, Sarek,” Sorrell’s voice was ragged with exhaustion.   “I do not feel the matter can wait.”

“What is it, Sorrell?” Sarek asked, with far more calm than he felt.

“Erin Scott,” Sorrell replied.   “A short time ago, her mind began to slip, retreating even deeper within herself.”

Sarek paled.   When the girl was admitted to Shi’khar two weeks ago, Sorrell and T’Muchial both had stated that her mind had already retreated perilously far from consciousness.   “How are her vital signs.”

“Very low, by human standards, but for the moment stable,” Sorrell replied.   “My daughter has her under constant surveillance.”

Sarek’s jaw tightened, almost imperceptibly.   “How long before she . . . . she slips past the point of no return?”

“T’Muchial estimates another hour,” Sorrell said gravely.   “Two at the outside.”

“Shit!” Sarek muttered one of the expletives he had picked up from Amanda through out their long years of marriage.

“My apologies, Sarek.  I did not quite hear . . . “

“Nothing of consequence, Sorrell,” Sarek said quickly.   “You and T’Muchial do what you must.   I trust your judgement implicitly.”   He paused.   “I shall see that Mr. Scott and Mrs. O’Brien are appraised of the situation.”

“Very well, Sarek.  I will keep you informed,” Sorrell promised, before terminating the call.

After switching off his own vid‑phone, Sarek remained at his desk, gazing at the far wall past his steepled fingers, brooding.   Under normal circumstances, reviving a patient, from his self imposed coma, was not attempted until his vital signs had stabilized within healthy normal ranges.   Probes would be conducted, as well, to access the extent of the patient’s psi power.   This would allow the healer, performing the revival, to make the necessary preparations, “. . . which can mean up to a month of deep meditation to build up the required strength,” Sarek mused darkly.   At Erin’s present rate of deterioration, Sorrell had an hour; more likely less.  ” . . . and in his present physical condition . . . ” Sarek shuddered, as he hit the switch activating the house intercom system.

“This is T’Pani, Sir,” the girl answered promptly.   “What do you require?”

“Would you ask Mr. Scott and Mrs. O’Brien to join me in my study?” Sarek requested, then, as an after thought, added, “and my wife also.”

“Right away, Sir.”

Sarek closed the com‑channel, and shut his eyes.   He needed a moment to once more master the growing fears within.

Darkness enveloped her.   This was not at all like the night, with the tiny, bright lights of distant stars illuminating the sky.   This was more like the deep, impenetrable blackness of the grave.   “. . . or perhaps the womb,” she decided complacently.   Here, she found warmth, safety, and above all solitude.     “Far, far from the maddening thoughts of others.”   She shuddered, recalling her last moments of consciousness.

The memories were hazy and blurred now.   A desperate battle between a starship and a dreadnought for the peaceful blue and green world below . . . the stone . . . Klingons . . .   She winced, recalling how much she had wanted to kill them, just as they had killed her family and neighbors on El Dorado with their damnable plague.   “It was wrong.   I know that now.”   But the stone was not so convinced.   Worse, she learned that, from the first time she used it, the stone had insidiously permeated her soul.   She had no awareness at all of it happening; the process was that subtle.  Now, she stood on the brink of total possession.   Combining her own formidable power with that of the massive mind link, by this time consisting of more than half the crew of the Enterprise, she lashed out with full strength.   The stone shattered into a million tiny pieces under the onslaught of raw power, obliterating her own mental shields as well.

Fragile and erratic at best, those mental shields were all that stood between her thoughts and those of the people around her.   Erin’s defenseless mind reeled under the onslaught of their thoughts.  They overwhelmed her with the ruthless speed of a flash flood, rendering her incapable of distinguishing her thoughts from those around her.  Terrified, she closed down her own mind, retreating into the sanctuary of darkness.  The only other alternative was insanity.

One by one, the images faded and dropped away, like the petals of dying flowers, leaving her alone in the protective cloak of darkness.   She reveled in the complete blackness, hungrily savoring her isolation.   Then, much to her surprise and dismay, a tiny, bright pin‑prick of light appeared at the outer most edges of her mind.  <<NO!>> she recoiled in horror.

“No!” Sorrell screamed, overcome with Erin’s terror.   The link, tenuous at best, sundered.   The healer swayed precariously on his feet for a few moments, then collapsed into his daughter’s outstretched arms.   “Almost . . . ” he wheezed, before lapsing into unconsciousness.

The nurse, a young male by the name of Sutek, glanced up at the elderly healer, T’Muchial, standing at the foot of the bed.   “Her vital signs are dropping,” he reported, unable to mask his consternation.

“Five c c’s of cordrizine, at once!” T’Muchial barked.   He knelt down beside T’Mir to examine Sorrell.   “How is he?”

“His vital signs are low, but stable,” T’Mir replied gravely.   “I do not know whether his mind sustained any damage or not.”

“Have him admitted and placed under constant watch, until I say otherwise,” T’Muchial ordered.

T’Mir nodded obediently.

Satisfied that Sorrell was in good hands, T’Muchial rose stiffly and approached the bed.   “Vitals?” he snapped.

“Stable for the moment, Sir,” Sutek replied.   “But dangerously low by human standards.”

Leaning heavily against his walking stick for support, T’Muchial closed his eyes and lightly touched his fingers to the contact points along Erin’s skull.   It was as he feared.  The girl’s mind continued its retreat at an alarming rate.   “Sutek, get on the com and tell T’Mir to get back here.”

Sutek blanched.   “Surely, Sir . . . you’re not going to . . . not after Sorrell . . . “

“I have no choice,” T’Muchial snapped.   “If I do not act now, the patient is lost.”

Sutek nodded, and carried out his given task.   T’Mir returned within a few minutes, her face ashen.   “T’Muchial, Sutek told me what you plan to do . . . “

“Excellent!   That saves us some time!” T’Muchial cut her off mid‑sentence.   “I need you as back up.   Sutek will monitor.”

“I can not allow this,” T’Mir stated quietly.   “Not after what has happened to my father.”

“Your father’s strategy was incorrect,” T’Muchial said curtly.   Such brutal frankness would normally constitute the height of bad manners.   However, for T’Muchial, age had its privileges.   “He tried to approach her logically.”

T’Mir looked at the elderly healer askance.

“This child is human, and a badly frightened one at that,” T’Muchial explained, with a touch of impatience.   She reminded him of another patient, who had been under his care many years ago.   “We must deal with her fear before we can begin to reason with her.”

T’Mir inclined her head, accepting the logic of the situation.   “I am ready, T’Muchial.”

“Sutek?”

The nurse flinched under T’Muchial’s piercing scrutiny.   “Yes, Sir, I am ready.”

“Then let us begin,” T’Muchial said grimly.

The news of Erin’s sudden bleak prognosis left everyone in Sarek’s household with no appetite.   Amanda had discreetly ordered the servants to package up and store it in the massive refrigerator in the cellar.   <<You can reheat it for dinner tomorrow night,>> she told the chief housekeeper, T’Qwon.

In the ensuing turmoil, Kirk saw Joanna quietly steal outside through the back door.   He found her seated on the same stone bench Scotty had occupied scarcely an hour before, out in the Garden of Tranquility.

“Jim?”  Joanna had sensed his approach, before the sound of his footsteps reached her ears.

“Yes, it’s me,” he replied.  “Mind if I keep you company?”

“Not at all,” she replied, favoring him with a tired smile.

Kirk took a seat on the bench beside her.   “Good Lord, Joanna, you’re freezing!” he declared, placing his arm about her shoulders.

“I read in one of my medical texts that body heat’s a very efficient way of keeping warm,” she quipped, snuggling closer.

“Minx!” Kirk retorted affectionately.

They lapsed into companionable silence for a time.

“Jim?”

“Hm?”

“Has there been any further word on Erin’s condition?” she asked, somewhat sheepishly.

“Not as far as I know,” Kirk replied.  Suddenly, her entire body went rigid.   “You alright?” he asked.

“I . . . I’m not sure,” Joanna ventured hesitantly.   “All of a sudden, I’m feeling scared out of my wits.   Why, I have no idea.”   She shrugged helplessly.

Sarek quietly stepped out onto the wide spacious veranda, shivering slightly in the cold night air.   Mr. Scott and Mrs. O’Brien had taken the news about Erin quite well, all things considered.   They remained in his study with Amanda and Dr. McCoy.   “Both of THEM are far more able to deal with them emotionally, than I.”

“Father,” Spock rose, as he approached, in deference to his age and relationship.   “If you prefer solitude, I . . . “

“No, Spock, sit down,” Sarek said, taking a chair beside him.   “I merely stepped out for a bit of fresh air.”

“Has there been further word on Ms. Scott’s condition?”

“None,” Sarek replied, unable to completely mask his own misgivings.

Suddenly, Spock stiffened.

“Spock?”

“It’s Joanna, Father,” Spock’s tone had a slight ragged edge.   “I must find her at once.”

They rose in unison.   “I will help you search.”

She drew the darkness over her head and settled deeper in its sheltering embrace.  “Leave me alone!” she cried out to the myriad of stars living beyond the darkness.  “I’m safe here!   Let me be!”

Suddenly, her entire being was flooded with a heady sense of well being.   She eagerly surrendered, hungrily savoring this delicious feeling.   Then, much to her horror, she sensed another presence.

“Relax, Child, relax.   I will not hurt you.”

Though she sensed truth in his words, she remained apprehensive.   “Who are you?”

“My name is T’Muchial.”

“What do you want of me?”

“I want you to be whole.”

She cringed.   To be whole, she must leave the darkness.   She saw that in his mind with dreadful clarity.   “If you truly wish that, then leave me,” she conversed with him in a language, sounding completely alien to her ears.   “Here, I AM whole!”

Sadness, mingled with genuine concern.   “Forgive me, Child, but you are not.   Your body is back there . . . your broken spirit lies in shards around you . . . and your mind is here, cowering in the darkness.”

“Perhaps,” she allowed.   “But I can be alone here.   Out there, their thoughts inundate me.”

“I have taught many how to be alone inside their heads,” T’Muchial said.   “I can teach you, too.”

A spring of hope swelled up inside.  “Can you?   Really!”

“Yes, but you must return with me to the light.”

She almost gave her consent.  Then she remembered.   The children in Dublin and Glasgow, mercilessly taunting her.   Family and neighbors turning away in fear.   “No,” she sighed dismally.   “I must not go back.   Far better for all concerned that I remain here.”

T’Muchial opened his heart.   For the second time in her life, she felt complete acceptance from a stranger.   Dr. McCoy was the first, when they had worked together in tandem with the stone to save the life of his daughter.

“Alright,” she surrendered.   “I will come.”

Blind terror seized her.  Joanna most certainly would have bolted, had it not been for Kirk.  “I’m here, Joanna, hold on to me,” he acted purely on instinct, as he had the night he had given Joanna her first chess lesson.

“It’s . . . it’s Erin, Jim!” Joanna said slowly, struggling to keep her head about the panic churning within.   “She’s terrified!”

“Stay with her, Joanna!”

Kirk glanced up sharply, just as Spock stepped into the garden.   Sarek followed close behind.

“The three of us,” Spock included his father and the captain, “will back you.”   He and Sarek closed their eyes and entered into the rapport, already existing between Kirk and Joanna.

The journey from darkness to light was one arduous uphill battle all the way.   For a short time, in the beginning, Erin passively allowed him to guide her.   She became increasingly restive as the distance from her protective womb lengthened.   Now, she fought him like a crazed sehlat.   It took every ounce of strength T’Muchial possessed to keep hold of her.   He knew, all too well, that Erin’s power far surpassed his own.   Add to that awesome might, the strength of insanity . . . .  T’Muchial’s stamina waned steadily.   Then, just as he reached the point where he could no longer hold her, T’Muchial’s strength soared.   Four others had joined the struggle, merging their strength with his.   The student, whom Erin’s condition had brought to mind, was among them.

“Perfect love casts out fear.”   The words quietly came to Joanna’s mind as she struggled to maintain the link with the one name T’Muchial.   She couldn’t remember when, where, or from whom she had heard them.   She only knew that was the key to preserving Erin’s soul.   Joanna closed her eyes and reached deeply into her own heart.

All of a sudden, Erin’s fierce struggles ceased.   Her eyelids quivered, and opened slowly.   To her astonishment, there were tears in her eyes.

“Ten c c’s of draihamine, at once!” T’Muchial’s steady voice, at complete odds with his depleted physical stamina, rang out.

Sutek injected the compound.   Draihamine, discovered jointly by Sorrell and T’Muchial, was the strongest psi‑inhibitor used on Vulcan.   “Vital signs climbing, T’Muchial, slow but steady.”

Erin sighed contentedly, as the draihamine wrapped its insulating cotton around her head.   Though it did not completely silence the bedlam of others thoughts, it did bring the noise level down to a manageable decibel.   She glanced up at the aged healer, meeting his piercing eyes without flinching.   “Thank you,” she whispered, before drifting off into a light slumber.

“Sutek!”

“Yes, T’Muchial?”

“Get T’Mir to an empty bed,” the aged healer ordered.  Sorrell’s daughter would sleep all night, and most of the next day.  “And draw that chair up close to the bed.”

“At once, T’Muchial,” Sutek scurried about, doing the elderly healer’s bidding.

T’Muchial took a moment to monitor Erin’s vital signs.  Though still low by human norms, they continued their steady ascent.  It would still be touch and go for a time, but the patient was now out of danger.  He hobbled over to the wall com‑unit and opened the channel.

“Nurse’s station.  This is T’Kel.”

T’Muchial curtly identified himself.   “The patient, Erin Scott has revived,” he reported wearily.   Now that the crisis had passed, strains of the awakening began to show.   “See that the director is notified, and the patient’s father is informed.”  He paused a moment to catch his breath.   “You can reach him at the home of Ambassador Sarek.”

“I will see to it, Healer.”

T’Muchial closed the channel and stiffly returned to the chair.   Though she stirred slightly at his approach, Erin remained asleep.   The healer settled himself comfortably in the chair to keep vigil.   His thoughts drifted back to a former student.   Like Erin, he also retreated in terror to the safety of the darkness when his telepathy first manifested itself.   Of course the boy WAS half human . . .

Captain’s log; personal.  Scotty’s daughter, Erin awoke from her coma three days ago.   Today, the healer, T’Muchial, has taken her off the critical list and moved her out of the I.C.W.U. (intensive care and watch unit).   Scotty and Fiona O’Brien, the aunt who raised her, will be allowed to visit briefly sometime tomorrow.   In two days, Bones, Joanna, and I will leave for Starbase 4, where the Enterprise has been “in the shop” to repair the damage sustained in the battle with the Klingons for possession of El Dorado.   Scotty and his sister‑in‑law will remain here for another month, to see that Erin is properly settled.    He will catch up  to the Enterprise at Benecia.   Spock plans to main on Vulcan for another couple of days to renew an old acquaintance . . .

The venerable housekeeper made her way to the aged healer’s herb garden, out behind the kitchen.   She found him, on hands and knees with the sleeves of his tunic rolled up past the elbows, weeding.   “Honored One, you have a guest,” she informed him.

“Send him away,” T’Muchial returned testily.

“He is Spock.”

“Eh?”   He rose stiffly, and brushed the sandy dirt from his hands.   “Show him to the veranda and prepare us some refreshment.   I will be along directly.”

The housekeeper inclined her head and left.

T’Muchial ambled out to the veranda, clad in a clean freshly ironed tunic, and his hair combed.   “Stay still, Spock, stay still!” the elderly Vulcan gestured curtly, as the younger man started to rise.   “I have been expecting you.”

“I know, Honored one,” Spock said quietly.   “Since the night of Ms. Scott’s awakening.”

Mirth sparkled in the aged healer’s dark eyes.   “I thought I sensed your presence in that link,” he said smugly, taking the chair facing Spock.   “Your father, also.   But who were the others?”

“One was my captain, and the other . . . my pupil.”

“Both human?”   Though phrased as a question, it was actually a statement of fact.

Spock nodded.

“Unusual to find humans of their magnitude, Spock,” T’Muchial remarked, as his housekeeper discreetly stepped outside with a tray of refreshments.   He motioned for her to place it on the small table between them.   “Would you do the honor of pouring?”

“Yes, Honored One,” Spock picked up the ceramic pitcher and poured both of them a hefty glass of the rich herbal tea.   As he did so, he gave his old teacher a condensed account of what had transpired on the journey to El Dorado.

“I see,” T’Muchial mused, digesting all that Spock had told him.   “It is fortunate that your pupil is bonded.”

“Yes,” Spock agreed, wondering, at the same time, exactly how he was going to inform her.   Perhaps Jim would take care that delicate matter.   “Do you plan to teach Ms. Scott?”

“Of course,” T’Muchial replied.   “Do you know of anyone better qualified?”

A smile teased at the corner of Spock’s mouth.   “No, Honored One,” he replied.   “I do not.”

***The End***

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