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"I think it's absolutely stupid, putting a mental block against losing consciousness; what happens if I hit you on the head with a hammer?" McCoy asked the First Officer querulously.
Spock gave him a sideways look and a half smile lit his eyes. "I don't understand, Doctor," he stated, his voice deceptively innocent. "Why do you want to hit me on the head?"
McCoy chose to ignore the implications of the Vulcan's look and took his words literally. "For a highly qualified Science Officer you can be very dense - what I want to know is, if you've been mentally blocked against losing consciousness, what happens if something occurs that would normally render you unconscious?"
Spock did not answer the question, but after a short pause his Captain spoke up. "Well, Bones, as it is most unlikely that you or I or the leader of the Vulcan colony on Treaty would try to make Spock unconscious, I don't see that the question is anything but academic."
McCoy snorted his disgust at Kirk's compromise, but didn't continue the argument. Instead he got up to get some coffee from the back of the vessel. He bustled about the task, his mind considering the circumstances that had brought the Captain, First Officer and Chief Surgeon of the Enterprise out here in a tiny shuttlecraft.
To say that McCoy did not approve of the situation would be an understatement. He thought the whole thing was over-complicated and unnecessarily secretive. Why did the message from the Vulcan High Council to the Treaty colony have to be transmitted through a mind-meld anyway, what was wrong with the good old medium of speech? It had served the Human race quite well for three million years - damn Vulcans! McCoy's annoyance with Vulcans in general stemmed from his concern for the Vulcan First Officer of the Enterprise. Spock was being used as a living repository for the message. He had received the information by mind-meld and would pass it on that way. What worried McCoy was the inhibition against sleep, which was a necessary part of this patently intra-Vulcan method of communication. Spock had explained the necessity for this inhibition to McCoy. It was essential that the message content be exact as to wording and shades of meaning. Spock's brain must not be allowed to assimilate the message and maybe subtly alter it, and therefore he could not sleep. Every nuance, every accent must remain just as the Council meant it to be. But McCoy didn't believe it - three days, he thought angrily - three days since Spock had slept, and Vulcan or no Vulcan...
Kirk's voice interrupted his reverie.
"Hey! Bones, is that coffee ready yet? Spock, can you monitor this panel while I go and roust out McCoy?"
The Doctor heard the rustle of movement as the two senior officers changed places. He picked up the coffee cups quickly. He didn't want Spock taking on any piloting, he wasn't fit to do it, with that message undelivered. Kirk burst into the service area of the shuttlecraft with a bantering query, and an offer of help to carry the three cups of coffee. McCoy handed him his cup and gave the caustic advice to "Get back at the controls of this craft - quick!"
Kirk laughed at McCoy's unprecedented concern for the Vulcan, and started to walk the short distance to the control panel. He didn't reach it.
There was a vicious snarl of shorting electronics, followed by a minor but forceful explosion. Kirk and McCoy were thrown to the floor as the shuttle bucked and danced through space. Hot coffee showered them, drenching their clothing, but they were essentially unhurt. It was Spock who had taken the brunt of the explosion. He was lying on the deck between the two pilots' seats, his face nestling in a small pool of green blood. The control panel he had manned was a mass of bare wires and sparking junctions.
Kirk rose to his feet in spite of the careering of the craft, and made his way to the panel. He stepped carefully over his First Officer, knowing that McCoy would deal with his injured friend. One glance at the shattered controls was enough; he reached over and switched to the auxiliary panel. The sparking stopped and the bare wiring ceased to glow. Kirk brought the shuttle on to an even keel, then tested all the circuits. He quickly came to the conclusion that the shuttlecraft had to land, and pretty quickly; her navigation instruments were barely functional, the life-support system near to collapse. However, the sub-space radio equipment was undamaged. He scanned the area and decided that they would land on Treaty, but on the dark side, not at their destination Kes-dar, the Vulcan mining colony.
Kirk established a fix on the homing beacon of Treaty's main spaceport, New Earth. Leaning forward, he called one word into the mike, "Mayday." When there was no immediate reply he repeated the call twice. There was a loud crackle of static then a strong, clear voice came from the speakers. "This is New , Treaty calling - come in, Mayday."
Earth, spaceport Kirk sighed his relief, and glanced at Spock and McCoy before answering. McCoy had Spock sitting in one of the passenger seats; he was conscious but seemed very dazed. Blood still oozed from a out on his forehead despite McCoy's efforts to stem it. Kirk turned back to the radio.
"New Earth, New Earth, this is Captain James T. Kirk of the Starship Enterprise. We are having difficulties with our shuttlecraft and will be forced to make an emergency landing at your spaceport. We have poor manoeuvrability and my First Officer is wounded. Kirk out."
"We have you on our screens now, Captain. An ambulance will be standing by and I will talk you down."
The landing was not as difficult as Kirk had anticipated. It would, of course, have been easier if he had had a co-pilot, but McCoy was too busy and was not a very competent pilot anyway. The controllers at New Earth were efficient, and in spite of the fact that the navigational aids ceased to function during it, he managed to make a good landing.
Immediately the faltering engine had ceased its clatter he rose and made for the door of the craft. He passed a stretcher party and a medical team as he went out.
"Captain Kirk?" An efficient looking man in middle life was calling him, introducing himself as Portmaster Kassim. "That was a fine landing, Captain, my congratulations."
"Thanks," Kirk replied crisply, "but I'm more worried about my First Officer; he was hurt when the instrument panel exploded."
"Don't worry, Captain," Kassim soothed. "We'll soon have him in hospital."
"No, sir," interrupted a quiet voice from behind Kirk. The Captain turned to see who had spoken. It was one of the stretcher bearers.
"What do you mean by that?" Kirk demanded. The young man ignored him, addressing his next remark to Kassim.
"It's a Vulcan, sir."
"What!" Kassim pushed both Kirk and the young man aside. He headed for the shuttlecraft, determined to check the news.
Kirk followed him, wondering what all this was about.
Inside the craft was a tableau. Spock was still sitting in the passenger seat, green blood drying on his face. McCoy was standing beside him, his very stance declaring that he was a doctor defending his patient. The remainder of the medical team were standing in a circle regarding the two Enterprise officers with cool distaste. Immediately he spotted the Captain McCoy spoke.
"Jim, these people," he indicated them with a contemptuous sweep of his arm, "refuse to treat Spock! It's outrageous!" And indeed the Doctor was truly outraged. Kirk shushed McCoy, intimating that he should calm down until they found out just exactly what was going on here. McCoy subsided, but with ill grace.
Kassim pushed his way through the crowd to look down on Spock. Dark brown eyes met dark brown eyes, neither wavering, until Kassim looked away with a grunt of surprise. He left the craft without a word. He was followed by Kirk and the medical team. McCoy would have liked to go too, but his Hippocratic oath bound him to the side of his patient. McCoy was essentially a man of honour.
Three hours later, as they travelled eastwards in a hastily converted monorail capsule, McCoy was still complaining.
"I never thought to see the day when a hospital refused a bed to a sick man! It's... it's inhuman!"
"Conversely, Doctor. It was I that was inhuman." The Vulcan's voice was low and tinged with a taste of bitterness. Captain Kirk rose and went to look at his First Officer who was lying very still on a contrived litter.
"I thought you'd lost your tongue," he said gently, looking down.
"No, Captain, merely the desire to talk." He paused for a moment then added with an effort, "It hurts to speak."
McCoy was beside him in a moment. "That's the pieces of metal lodged in your jaw and cheeks. Just don't talk. I want to operate as soon as we get to Kes-dar. I can give you a painkiller if you like?"
Spock shook his head, and found that just as painful as speaking. "I'm afraid you'll have to wait until I have passed the message on to T'Prell. I cannot be anaesthetised until then."
"Damn stupid thing to do," McCoy grumbled. "I told you you'd regret that block."
"Yes, Doctor." It was a measure of Spock's hurts both physical and emotional that he said it in all seriousness and almost with indifference. There was silence as the outmoded transport hurtled on towards its destination, the underground Vulcan settlement at Kes-dar.
The welcome which the two Humans received from the Vulcan miners was not particularly friendly, yet it was so much more friendly than that which Spock received from Treaty's Human population. McCoy was surprisingly responsive to his unfavourite species of alien, despite his anxiety to operate and remove the splinters lodged in Spock's face, hands and arms.
The message duly delivered, the Vulcan First Officer had submitted to the Doctor's ministrations and was now recovering in the community's small subterranean hospital. Kirk was sitting beside his bed, contemplating the chess board between them; in spite of his healing wounds Spock was in excellent form and was winning hands down. His concentration was broken by a gentle cough from the entrance to the sick-room. A tall Vulcan woman was standing in the doorway. She was a little beyond middle age, and had never been beautiful. Spock looked in her direction and lifted his hand in Vulcan salute, Captain Kirk rose respectfully to his feet.
"Greeting, Captain Kirk, Spock of Vulcan."
"Greeting, T'Prell of Treaty," Spock replied for both of them.
"May I speak with thee, Spock?" It was the old traditional form of address, Kirk noticed, though still in English.
"Of course, T'Prell." Spock hesitated before continuing. "Anything you find necessary to tell me I shall have to repeat to Captain Kirk as my superior officer."
"That I understand," she said proudly, then she looked away from the two men. "But it is hard to bare the... soul of Kes-dar before a Human."
"Not if that Human is James T. Kirk."
Kirk looked with startled surprise at his Vulcan First Officer; he knew Spock trusted him, but he had never heard that faith expressed before.
"I have always found the Captain most tolerant, understanding and sympathetic to all things Vulcan. You can confide in him with confidence, T'Prell."
"Thank you, Mr. Spock." Kirk turned to T'Prell and smiled. "I would be grateful for any information you can give me as to the situation here. I find it very disturbing. Treaty is supposed to be a symbol of Vulcan/Human co-operation, yet when we arrived we were treated to a disgusting show of special* intolerance. Also we find no communications, except the exchange of trade goods, between the two communities. Why is this, T'Prell? I must report back to the Federation."
T'Prell sat down slowly in a chair facing the end of Spock's bed. She took a deep breath in preparation, then plunged into her story.
"As you know the twin colonies of New Earth and Kes-dar were set up on Treaty in celebration of the first treaty between Vulcan and Earth. Tralconite is a difficult ore to mine and the techniques had been a special study on Vulcan for many years. It was decided that the Vulcan colonists would be miners to get the ore and the Terrans would trade it to the Galaxy. Treaty is much like Earth.
"At first it worked well. We are simple people; we follow the precepts of Surak, we practice the constructs but we are not the high-fliers of the Academy, we do not come from the noble families." She paused to look straight at Spock; he bowed to her slightly as if to acknowledge her implied criticism. She then turned to Kirk and explained to him in a humble tone, "We are miners, we work with our hands, we have little time for meditation and none for speculation. Our Human counterparts were similar, they were hard-working family people like us, trying to build a new home light-years away from the old. There was a mutual suspicion, of course; we had heard so much about emotional, quarrelsome Earthers, and they of cold, logical Vulcans, there was bound to be tension. But both sides were willing to try, and were succeeding, to live together.
"Then it happened, and it was our fault." She paused to regain her composure and screw up her courage to tell it. Her eyes pleaded with Kirk and Spock to understand. "If we had known... But how could we?... How could we know that the change of planet could so upset our men's cycle?" She shook her head in extreme sorrow, and Kirk saw emotion written plainly on her face. He then realised how different from other Vulcans was his First Officer, who would never act so openly.
Spock himself leaned forward encouragingly. "What happened?" he questioned gently.
T'Prell pulled herself together and sat up, composing her hands in her lap. "There were a number of problems at New Earth; women were being attacked and some were raped. There were ten attacks, six rapes, and one of the women was so badly beaten up that she died. Then a woman managed to escape her attacker; she identified him as a Vulcan. The Human colony was very angry. We were no longer welcome in the town; arrangements were made for our supplies to come by the ore train. From there it could only get worse. We are a proud people. And when Seten became insane, we knew he was the attacker. We could not admit that the criminal was one of our number - anyway Seten would be dead within the week. So we became more and more insular, and the less the Humans saw of us the more strange and dangerous we seemed to them.
"As a result of this, we here at Kes-dar are in a very awkward situation. The only sub-space radio on the planet is in New Earth and manned by Humans. Any message we wanted to send must go through them, anything they considered a danger to them they could censor. Hence our request to the High Council.
"We knew such a radical change in Vulcan custom would need a mind-link reply, so someone from Vulcan had to come here, and not via New Earth."
T'Prell looked shyly at Kirk. "We expected they would send the Intrepid."
Kirk smiled at her sympathetically and was surprised to receive a ghost of a smile in return. He glanced at Spock to see if the Vulcan had any suggestions towards the rebuilding of relations on Treaty. But his First Officer was very pale and obviously in no condition to aid him, so he put forward his own ideas.
"T'Prell, I left a message at New Earth spaceport to be transmitted to the Enterprise as soon as she is close enough to receive it. When he gets that message Lieutenant-Commander Scott will contact me by communicator and I will get him to relay my report on your problems to Starfleet Command and to the Federation Council."
"Thank you, Captain Kirk," T'Prell said. "Thank you very much."
It was three days before Scotty called his Captain. McCoy had just allowed Spock to spend the day out of bed. He declared that the Vulcan should be fit to return to the ship the next day.
In the evening Kirk and Spock were playing a leisurely game of chess, and McCoy was making up a list of drugs that Scotty would transport down for the use of the Kes-dar colony. The usually peaceful evening silence of a Vulcan community was broken by a shout, quickly followed by others. McCoy jumped to his feet and rushed to the balcony of the underground sickbay. Below, in the rock-hewed square, men and women were rushing out of their homes to listen to a man giving them information in rapid Vulcan.
McCoy felt rather than saw Spock squeeze in beside him on the narrow balcony. "What's he on about?" he asked.
Spock listened for a moment then translated quickly. "He's saying something about children. They are missing... The children went off into the mountains two days ago on an expedition and they haven't come back. He is reporting to their parents."
McCoy heard the flip of a communicator as the Captain, who had heard Spock's translation, called the ship.
"Scotty, there's some trouble down here! There are children lost... in the mountains. Get the sensors working and have search parties standing by in the transporter room awaiting my orders; Kirk out."
T'Prell was calm and efficient, but obviously greatly concerned about the missing children. As she had pointed out, her people were simple miners with no experience in rescue work; she turned to Kirk for help. He was only too pleased to be of service. These Vulcans, who reminded him of the farming folk of his own home, had moved him deeply. Within minutes, the Enterprise had organised search parties scouring the surrounding countryside.
T'Pet was the oldest child in the group. Being of a long-lived race which took time to mature, she was about the size of a seven-year-old Earth child, with the intellect of a thirteen-year-old. She had lived twelve rotations of Treaty. Selan and Sees were twins, a very unusual phenomenon among Vulcans; they were ten Treaty years old. With them were the two grandsons and one grand-daughter of T'Prell, eleven, seven and five. None of them were yet telepathically aware, as the Kas-der colony did not bond their children at seven, wishing them to marry outside the colony to avoid inbreeding.
T'Pet became aware that they were lost after they had failed to refind the mapped path they had left to pick alpine blooms. She kept the knowledge to herself until T'Pret, the youngest child, sat down and refused to move, declaring that her feet hurt. Her eldest brother Slark looked at T'Pet curiously.
"Do you know our way home, T'Pet?" he asked.
T'Pet was unsure of what to answer, but her Vulcan education and a natural preference for the truth made the decision for her. "No!" she stated flatly.
Selan and Sees looked at each other then at T'Pet, they both began to speak, as Selak burst noisily into tears. Slark hushed them both into silence. Selak's crying became stifled sobs.
"We must decide what to do," Slark said solemnly. "We must consider our position logically and find a solution to our problem."
Five hours later they were no nearer a solution to their problem, and much nearer a small Human farming village. Munchen Muri was an Alpine hamlet high in Treaty's hills. Its inhabitants derived from many of the high altitude dwellers of Earth. There you could meet Swiss, Tibetans, Pyrannean Spaniards, Highland Scots and Indians from the Andean mountains. They were all living the kind of life their ancestors had known. Their main occupation was the tending of domestic animals, keeping sheep and goats on the lower slopes, yak and llamas on the higher.
As night came closer the Vulcan children saw storm clouds gather over the mountains. With the darkness their newly acquired logic fled, leaving primeval fear and animal instinct. All but the two eldest were weeping as they huddled together in a tiny crevice in the rock and thought longingly of their underground homes and loving parents.
It was the threatening weather that saved their lives. Carl Gunter and his son Hans, observing the coming storm, set out to gather their flocks to safety from the open slopes. They trudged the path that they and their sheep had worn in the soft stones of Treaty. By now the wind was howling, coming full at them as they struggled upward. Borne on the wind was the sound of weeping. Hans, whose younger ears had caught the cries first, put out a hand to stop his father.
"Listen!" he ordered.
Carl looked at him questioningly. "To what?" he asked.
"I can hear someone crying, close by."
Carl listened, his old ears straining, worrying that one of this year's lambs had fallen and was calling to its mother. They could lose both mother and lamb that way. Then he heard it, but it wasn't an animal's cry - it was Human, or almost Human. Without speaking he pointed in the direction from which the sound came, and he and Hans laboured on.
After a few minutes' search they found the children, all six of them crowded together for warmth. Old Carl pushed his traditional Tyrolean hat back on his head and stared in amazement. Hans, who was born on Treaty and had never known a time when its two communities had worked together in harmony, was completely bewildered.
"Are they pixies?" he asked, unable to believe what his eyes told him. His father cast a look of scorn in his direction.
"They're Vulcans," he explained. This was even harder for Hans to believe. He had been warned about Vulcans as a child - they were huge, and super strong, and they ate children for breakfast.
"But... they're so small. I thought Vulcans were bigger than Humans!"
Carl chuckled and bent down to smile into the six pairs of anxious brown eyes that regarded him. "Not when they're children," he answered simply.
Hans and Carl stared at the young Vulcans for what seemed a long time to T'Pet. Unable to bear the suspense any longer, she lifted her hand in salute and whispered the ancient words of greeting to her rescuers.
Carl carefully copied the gesture, and casting his mind back to his youth and the early days on Treaty, he stumbled out the words, "Live long and prosper." He nudged Hans, who after a few moments' hesitation, copied his father's action and words. Then the rest of the children, remembering their manners at last, mumbled the greeting.
Carl introduced himself and Hans, then pointed to each child in turn while they told their names. Then he picked up T'Pret and placed her across his shoulders, piggy-back fashion. Hans did the same with Selak, and with a hand each for the other children, they left the mountain, and their flocks, to return to the village.
Captain Kirk snapped closed his communicator. "Well, that does it - the search will have to be abandoned while this storm lasts. I'm sorry, T'Prell."
The leader of the Vulcan colony was as literal minded as the First Officer of the Enterprise. "There is no need to apologise Captain, the storm is not your fault," she assured him. "But thank your men for trying. We shall just have to wait."
The snow was already beginning to settle when Hans and Carl Gunter trooped back into Munchen Muri with their bunch of small, shivering Vulcans. The streets of the tiny town were still full of pedestrians hurrying home.
Several people came to look at the Gunters and their strange entourage.
"What happened, Carl?" yelled Kentsing, one of Munchen's Sherpa citizens.
"We found these Vulcan kids out on the mountainside. I thought I'd better bring them in to shelter. After all they're only kids." As Carl explained, more townsfolk gathered, a puddle of melting snow around their feet.
"I'll take one of the girls," offered Maria, Kentsing's Swiss wife. Like all high-dwellers, the people of Munchen Muri were hard-working, dour and hospitable.
"Thanks, take T'Pet, will you." Carl pushed the eldest child forward. "She's very sensible, and I think T'Pret and Selak ought to stay with us, as they are so young and already know Hans and me."
"The twins can come and stay with us," offered Bianca McLeod. She was childless and always willing to take in an orphan beast or child.
Overground the storm raged, but in the underground homes of the Vulcans there was no indication of it. However a storm did rage in the caverns; it was a contained tempest, but enough to disturb the surface tension. Quiet, dignified Vulcan couples stood about waiting patiently for the weather conditions to improve and the search for their missing children to continue.
Not a tear was shed by the anxious mothers, no worried, irate fathers berated the authorities for their lack of action, yet there was an atmosphere of grief and tension.
James Kirk turned away from the balcony overlooking the square with a sigh. His First Officer, now recovered from his injuries, looked up at him inquiringly.
"I feel so helpless," exclaimed the strong and resourceful Kirk. "Those people appear so self-contained, yet I can sense their feelings. I want to help them and I can't."
"Be at peace, Captain," Spock spoke very gently, and coming forward laid a hand on Kirk-Is arm. "They know, and are grateful." Kirk felt oddly reassured - not only by the words but by the touch as well.
The storm blew itself out during the night, and the people of Munchen Muri awoke to bright sunshine reflected off white, unmarked snow.
Selan woke first and ran to the window of the farmhouse eager to find out what was filling the room with such bright light. He looked out on the snow covered farmyard, in a line across from the farmhouse door to the cattle shed were the footprints of a man and a dog; milking was in progress. Selen excitedly shook his brother awake.
"Come and see, come and look!" he shouted into Sees' ear. His twin immediately clapped his hands over his ears and stirred sleepily, mumbling at Selan to go away. But his brother was too excited for that, he dragged the bedclothes off Sees and pulled him, sleepy and stumbling to the window. As soon as his eyes met the wonderful sight of the white yard, Sees forgot all about sleep and wanted to dash outside, dressed just as he was in an old pair of Dan McLeod's pyjamas cut down to allow movement. Just as he expressed his desire, Dan himself appeared at the shed door, a jug of steaming milk in his right hand. Dan looked up and spotting two eager faces, waved, they waved back then turned and made a concerted dash for the door.
They would have run straight through the kitchen and out into the sparkling yard, but Dan entered the kitchen as they tumbled in and caught them in his arms and called, "Bianca, our guests seem ready for breakfast."
Usually Vulcans do not eat until midday, but like all young their children were ready to polish off a meal whenever there was a chance. In this case they finished two bowls of porridge each and eleven slices of toast and jam between them. Then bundled up in over-large clothing, their own apparel being highly unsuitable for walking through snow, they set off with Dan to meet all the farm animals.
It was very fortunate for Slark, being of a studious turn of mind, that he found himself billeted with the village school-master. The school-master was a kind, scholarly man, with a genuine love of academic study. Slark, like T'Pet, had already begun to learn Galactic and when he woke that bright winter morning he dressed and went in search of his host.
He found the master in his study, which doubled as a library for the small school. It was a holiday and Arturo Musgrave was indulging in one of his favourite pastimes, Philology. Slark tapped lightly on the door; failing to rouse the student he coughed loudly and Arturo looked up. "Good morning," he said as clearly as possible; he had already discovered that his young guest could converse if one spoke carefully.
"Good morning," echoed Slark, raising his hand in salute. "Your wife told me you were in the library and suggested I joined you."
Arturo smiled. "Of course." He displayed a Vulcan/Galactic Dictionary he was studying. "I have taught myself to read Vulcan with this," he explained. "I was hoping you would help me learn to speak the language."
"It would give me honour," said Slark a little oddly, and he gave Mr. Musgrave a half smile.
They spent the rest of the morning in joint study of each other's culture.
T'Pet had been a child last night, tired, exhausted and ready to lean on any handy adult. But after a hearty supper and a good night's sleep, she felt the weight of her years; with the mystic ability of the teenager she changed from child to woman overnight.
This bright, crisp morning she sat at breakfast with her hostess, dressed in a pretty cream negligee, part of the trousseau of her hostess who had been a tiny woman in her younger days. The cream accented the colour of her skin and in the warm Swiss-style kitchen she glowed a beautiful golden-green. The sunlight streaming through the window accentuated the silvery highlights of her newly washed blue-black hair. In that prosaic setting she looked vital and enchantingly exotic.
Maria had discovered that her young guest had a fair command of Galactic and was telling her about her own family and their life in the high mountains of Treaty. As she talked her husband and son entered the house from outside. Fifteen-year-old Miang had been out last night; his father had told him of their visitor, but he had not expected the strangely beautiful vision that met his eyes. His father had described a child; the exquisite and poised person who sat beside his mother was surely a woman, despite her diminutive size.
When Miang and T'Pet had been introduced, the men sat down to the morning meal. As the Kentsings were Buddhists T'Pet found no problem enjoying her breakfast. Miang hardly touched his food; he could not keep his eyes from the dainty, alien creature that sat opposite him. Unnoticed by their son and guest his parents exchanged an inquiring glance. They had expected Miang to grow up one day soon, but not quite so suddenly. When the meal was disposed of Miang leaned forward, looked straight into T'Pet's slanted eyes and smiled. She did not smile back, but there was something in her eyes which encouraged him to ask,
"Would you like to come and build a snowman with me?"
T'Pet did not know what a snowman was, but no boy had ever looked at her like that before. She had already made up her mind that she would go anywhere or do anything just to be with Miang.
James T. Kirk awoke with a start at the sound of his communicator. He had fallen asleep in his chair last night, tired out yet too anxious to seek his bed. As he struggled to his feet to retrieve his communicator from the side table he glanced over at the bed. This was the room Spock had occupied when he had come wounded to the colony. Spock, also awakened by the communicator, had raised himself up on his elbows, unable to move further because of McCoy, who had fallen asleep across his chest, having been sitting on the bed on which Spock was lying.
Struggling through stiffness and sleep it seemed an age before Kirk reached the frantically beeping communicator and flipped it open.
"Kirk here," he muttered through a yawn.
"Good morning, Captain," exclaimed an over-bright Scott. "We have some good news. The storm has cleared and our sensors have located the children. They're in a Human village in the mountains. As soon as the communications centre in the village opens up I'll get in contact with them."
"Great, Scotty." Jim Kirk was now fully awake. "I'll tell T'Prell and get their parents informed. Can you let me know as soon as you get in contact with that village."
"Aye, Captain. Scott out."
Kirk smiled over at Spock and McCoy who were now both on their feet. "We've found them," he announced triumphantly.
It was noon before all the arrangements were made. Scott had contacted the communications office at Munchen Muri and had made arrangements for the children to be picked up by their parents. Three shuttlecraft from the Enterprise sped towards the surface of Treaty. One went straight to Munchen Muri, with Scotty and Nurse Chapel aboard. The others landed near the surface entrance to the Kas-dar settlement. They were to convey the parents of the rescued children plus Kirk and McCoy to Munchen Muri. Spock had already beamed aboard to take command of the Enterprise.
The journey by shuttlecraft was uneventful. The Vulcans were their usual unemotional, calm selves, though Kirk noticed that one or two couples were clasping hands unobtrusively.
As soon as they landed Scott came forward to meet Kirk. There was a lot of introducing to be done, and thanks to be given for the care the Human community had given the Vulcan children. T'Pret ran straight into her mother's arms and was hugged delightedly. The people of Munchen Muri and the men of the Enterprise were all shocked to see tears run down the face of an 'emotionless' Vulcan woman. The greeting of their parents by the older children was less demonstrative but evidently happy. Salen and Sees came forward holding a Border Collie puppy each, a gift from the McLeods, if they would be allowed to keep them, old Dan McLeod muttered in explanation to the twins' father.
"But they are quite acceptable," the Vulcan exclaimed. "They will be good for our children, who have had little contact with animals in our caverns." He turned to his wife to say, "You said we needed a sehlat."
Slark wanted his father and mother to meet Mr. Musgrave, who had a plan whereby Human and Vulcan children were exchanged for short periods. This, he said, would improve their future relations, and give them the chance to speak each other's language.
T'Pet came forward shyly, trailing Miang behind her, their hands held fast. She bowed politely to her parents and dragged Maing to the front, announcing that they wished to be bonded. Both sets of parents expressed surprise, and discovered a need to discuss the matter further. But neither said 'No,' so there was hope for the young lovers.
Six hours later when Kirk and McCoy joined Spock on the bridge of the Enterprise, messages were already coming in from the surface. Accusations of unwarranted interference from New Earth, messages of thanks from Kas-der, and invitations from Munchen Muri, particularly from Maria and Kentsing, who were anxious to meet the half-Vulcan First Officer, perhaps for a preview of their grandchildren?
After many years of silence between the two races that had colonised Treaty, there was now a beginning of reconciliation. Kirk's report to Starfleet would send social workers and diplomats to Treaty. The planet would once again be united, and the Enterprise could take a little of the credit.
* special - of a species