The stardate is 2233.04 when Spock experiences the first of what his healers will later describe as emotional seizures.
Spock is not quite 3 standard years of age. Like all healthy Vulcan infants of this age, he has a basic understanding of communication, using proper vocabulary and grammar. He trains his memory and other elementary skills daily. Soon, he will have reached a level of knowledge that will allow him to start traditional schooling outside of his home.
Controlling his emotions, especially occasional bursts of anger, is as of yet difficult for him. But it is for all children of Vulcan descent. They are not born in control; it is something to be strived for and perfected during one’s entire life. To do so, one must follow the teachings of the revered logician Surak.
This, at least, is how his father Sarek has explained it.
The seizure, however, goes far beyond what any Vulcan child usually displays during development.
Spock is focusing on one of his preferred toys. Made of steel, it is a set of several 2D-shapes connected with each other by certain mechanisms and patterns. The goal is to understand the set-up, separate all shapes, then reconnect them to once more create their original form. Spock is very close to solving it – after which he will aim to solve a more difficult version of the same design, as his father suggested.
In the next moment, he finds himself dropping the toy on the floor. A headache, harsh and pulsing, has overcome him. Spock loses his ability to breath calmly. His hands, seemingly on their own, reach up to cover his eyes.
His mother, having watched over him while attending to something on her PADD, immediately cries out.
“Spock?” he hears her say, her voice unusually loud. “What is happening, are you in pain?”
Spock finds himself unable to reply to his mother. In fact, he now has difficulties understanding her. A loud ringing is present in his ears and a heat not unlike that of the Vulcan suns seems to have taken over his body.
“Aah!” is all Spock can communicate, then he is toppling over and finds himself on the floor next to his toy.
He will later realize that his mother’s shouting is no longer directed at him, but at his father. He will understand that the hands prying at his eyes are Sarek’s and that his father aims to initiate a mind meld – and repeatedly fails to do so.
But in this moment of unknown pain and helplessness, he has no control over his mind, much less his body.
After the pain, the heat, and the ringing finally subside, there follows a feeling of utmost despair. Sadness, fear and confusion in a strength that he has never felt before, take over his body.
Spock, surrounded by both his parents, starts to cry. Not just a few stray tears as many Vulcan children might shed in a moment of weakness, but multiple tears mixed with sobs and the flow of nasal mucus.
He is unable to stop for what must be over 2 standard hours.
When the intense emotions finally subside, Spock becomes aware that he is already with healers at Shi’Khar Medical Facility. Next to his familiar pediatrician, additional experts have entered the examination room and are observing him. He is sitting on a biobed. Data he does not comprehend is shown on four different screens.
His parents are also present, his mother showing much of the emotion Spock knows she feels even as an adult but aims to restrain while she resides on Vulcan.
Spock is acutely aware that his own face is covered in mucus and drying tears. He takes a few deep breaths, aiming to once more take control of his mind and body like his father has taught him. When he finally succeeds, he quietly asks: “May I use the hygienic facilities to clean my face?”
His voice sounds unlike himself. It is rough and weaker than before.
One of the healers silently gestures towards a door. Before Spock can slide off the biobed, his mother steps forward and lifts him off. He walks with her towards the facilities. Inside, his mother silently helps him direct the sonic jet of the hygienic unit towards his face, adjusting the strength accordingly.
Spock diligently cleans his face and adjusts his hair.
Nothing is said by anyone until Spock returns and his mother once more places him on the examination bed.
What follows are a variety of tests, questions, and stares so intense Spock can only assume that there is some concealed meaning.
Ultimately, as far he has understood, there is not a satisfying explanation for what has happened to him.
“There is no known disease on Vulcan that causes this kind of behavior,” one of the healers informs Spock’s parents. Nobody is speaking to Spock directly, but he is avidly listening to the adults present. Acute observation, he has been taught, is a fundamental part of the learning process. “It is unlike anything recorded in our medical databases. The symptoms do not correspond with any known illness. Therefore, we can give no definite diagnosis. Some of the symptoms do resemble a form of seizure, but their manifestation is mainly… emotional.”
Spock recognizes that the last word is spoken with special emphasis, but is unsure of an interpretation of this.
“Emotional,” his father repeats. “Can you elaborate on that, hassu?”
“There was abnormal cerebral activity present in the scan initially made upon your son’s admission. Similar patterns have been seen with patients suffering of convulsive fits. This is usually a sign of a neurological illness affecting the muscles and causing uncontrollable contractions. Your son, however, was primarily emotionally imbalanced whereas any physical symptoms were secondary.”
“I understand,” his father answers.
“I suggest,” the healer continues, “seeking out a Human physician.”
Spock observes his father’s straight posture with interest, how it differs from his mother’s restless movements of the hands and feet.
“Spock is primarily Vulcan,” is Sarek’s response. “While Human genetic material is present, the Vulcan genome by far outweighs his Human heritage. His development so far has verified this.”
“I concur. However, extreme emotional anomalies are more common in Humans than in Vulcans. Even a small genetic variance based on his Human heritage could be the elicitor of this kind of seizure.”
“Something like this is not normal among Humans, either!”
It is the first time Spock’s mother has spoken up during this exchange. All eyes focus on her as she elaborates her point. While her voice is calm, her face has become slightly flushed. Spock knows this to be another sign of feeling.
“I agree that strong emotional displays are something Human rather than Vulcan,” his mother continues. “However, Spock was not merely crying because he was upset over something. This… seizure, as you describe it, happened spontaneously. Nothing that happened before could have reasonably triggered this volatile response. He simply started to cry.”
“I understand that emotion and reason are essentially mutually exclusive,” the healer replies.
“Emotions always have a cause,” Spock’s mother emphasizes calmly. “It might not be a logical cause, but the source can usually be traced. Sadness is caused by loss, fear by danger. Spock’s outburst had no such causes, as far as I could observe.”
There is a moment of silence where the points made are considered.
“I cannot offer a satisfying explanation,” the healer finally concludes. “I can only repeat my advice to you: Seek out a Human specialist. We cannot explain what has transpired within Vulcan norms. It is logical to consider any additional form of treatment available.”
Spock’s mother adds nothing further to the entire exchange. Her face, Spock has noticed, once more only shows calm and control.
Eventually, they return to their home in the suburban area of Shi’Khar. Spock focuses once more on his toy and the day continues as it would have.
The only exception to their routine is the intense conversation between his parents that Spock cannot quite follow from the parlor floor.
Spock is not taken to a Human physician.
No additional seizure presents itself in the following 13 months. After reaching the required standards of linguistic ability, motoric skills and general physical maturity, Spock now attends the communal schooling facilities of Shi’Khar.
His father has informed him that his aptitude tests were above average and that the admission tests imply that Spock’s talents are particularly suited for a career in the higher sciences. The scores, he explained, align with those of individuals who would later attend the more demanding courses at the Vulcan Science Academy, the most-esteemed Higher Education facility on Vulcan.
Spock has accepted this information with the appropriate decorum and agreed with his father that a special emphasis on courses preparing for this particular path would be the most productive and thus most logical approach to his schooling.
After several weeks of communal schooling, Spock becomes aware of two points that have not previously been of importance while being homeschooled. For one, his Human mother seems to be a point of interest for almost any Vulcan he encounters, be it a teacher or fellow student. Secondly, the fact that Spock’s mother is of Terran rather than Vulcan descent seems to imply that Spock is lacking. What exactly this lack entails has not yet become clear.
Given his continuously over-average testing scores as well as his fine record of conduct, Spock has come to the conclusion that the repeated comments on his mixed heritage have no real base in logic. It is most puzzling that Vulcans, adults in particular, would show such unbecoming behavior.
It is, he must admit to himself in the privacy of his mind, also a cause of emotional responses.
Mainly, the comments are a cause for anger. With the help of meditation, as taught to him by his father, he can control these feelings adequately so far.
In this regard, he also profits from the fact that the majority of time spent at school is filled with private sessions in his personal learning pod. Communal schooling means that weaker students might fall behind, whereas advanced students cannot further their education properly. Thus Spock and other students of the same age only rarely follow a communal lesson collectively. It is most often before or after these lessons that his peers continue to remark upon his parentage.
In spite of this, 13 months pass with Spock furthering his education and broadening his knowledge in a variety of fields.
Then, in the midst of a test on advanced algebra taking place in his pod, the burning headache he has felt before returns full-force.
Like before, he immediately falls to the floor, his hands reaching for his head in an attempt to ease physically what cannot be controlled with the mind. Like before, he fails.
His incoherent shouts must alert his teachers and fellow students to his pain, but already his awareness of his surroundings starts to fade. Instead, he is slowly filled with intense emotion.
Again, fear and sadness stand out from the turmoil he encounters. His body shakes with the intensity, his mind filled with a need to shout out his feelings, to scream and cry as loudly as he can.
The seizure does not last as long as his first. Still, it takes nearly 1 standard hour for him to become lucid and, ultimately, controlled.
Once more, he finds himself at Shi’Khar Medical Facility, both of his parents present in the room. This time, Spock can rightly interpret the dismissive and stern glances from the healers. He is by now familiar enough with the looks and nuances of vocal emphasis to realize that they disapprove of him, as well as his mother.
His father, however, does not seem to cause any disrespectful behavior or stares. Spock has come to understand that Sarek is very well-esteemed among their people, as are other individuals of their family line. As ambassador to Earth, currently residing on Vulcan for the sake of Spock’s education, Sarek is well-known and highly regarded.
“We can offer no further explanation,” the healers explain. “Have you sought out the help of a Human physician?”
“No adequate expert in this field is known to us,” Spock’s father replies.
Spock has not been aware such an expert had been sought by his parents. Rather, his first seizure was not spoken of again.
“We will assist you in this, if you so wish, kevet-dutar.”
Sarek inclines his head to the healer’s proposal. Spock’s mother again does not partake much in the following conversation.
At sunset, after the evening meal, Spock’s mother enters his personal room. Spock saves his progress on the virtual game of chess he has been playing on his personal computer terminal, and turns his attention to his mother.
“I wanted to talk to you about what happened today,” she proposes.
“With ‘what happened’, mother, I assume you refer to the return of what the healer has described as an emotional seizure?” It must be the Human way to use more imprecise expressions, although his mother generally is a more than satisfying conversational partner.
“Indeed. I wanted to know if there was anything you had to say. That is, anything not discussed with the healers. Maybe something that you thought was more appropriate for private surroundings.”
Spock takes a moment to consider this.
“I am interested in whether you and Father will indeed seek out the services of a Human expert,” he eventually states.
Spock’s mother does not reply at once. Clearly, she, too, has been taught that any statement in a conversation should be reflected upon prior to being spoken.
“Is that something you think you would benefit from?” she asks in return.
“I have no understanding of what a Human healer would do differently,” Spock admits. “I can therefore not say if it would be beneficial.”
“Of course.” His mother pauses again. “I realize you have little medical knowledge, but you are the one experiencing these… seizures, for the lack of a proper description. May I ask, Spock: What do you think causes these outbursts? Do you have any theory at all?”
“I do not. Both experiences were sudden and the emotions uncontainable. Yet, I could not detect a common denominator surrounding the occurrences that could arguably be seen as the cause.” He hesitates, then finds himself confiding with her his inner turmoil: “I must admit, Mother, that I am unsettled by them.”
“That’s understandable,” she returns. Her lips form a smile; a show of emotion she has often directed at him in the privacy of their home. While he does not return it, he can appreciate the sentiment. She means well, and her cultural background is to be respected. “I’m worried about you. I wish we could find something to help you.”
“Do you agree with the healers’ assessment that these episodes of emotional imbalance might be caused by my Human heritage?”
There is something in his mother’s face that Spock only sees very rarely. He recognizes it nonetheless: Hurt.
“I’m not a healer,” she replies. “But I’d like to believe that your Human heritage is an asset to you, not a disadvantage.”
“Vulcan is part of the United Federation of Planets, an interstellar union comprised of currently 166 members. The aim and continuing challenge of the Federation is to unite cultures and beings that differ very greatly from each other. It is reasonable to assume that a child born of two allied species would benefit from this unique perspective and ultimately further the understanding between cultures.”
“I can only agree, Spock.”
“It has also benefitted my personal education,” Spock elaborates. “I have been raised bilingually. This has resulted in me being considerably more advanced at Terran Standard, and I continue to excel in this field compared to my peers.”
Again, his mother smiles. There are days when she is less guarded, more Human. Today is clearly one of them. “Indeed.”
“Yet,” Spock continues, “I have found that my peers as well as my teachers do not always share this perspective on my half-Human parentage.”
His mother’s smile becomes much smaller. “Even Vulcans can be mistaken,” she replies.
“We are not infallible,” Spock agrees.
His mother’s nod of agreement is short and swift. “It’s late,” she says, schooling her features. “Sleep well, Spock.”
“Rest well, Mother,” Spock replies and looks after her. He cannot help but think that their conversation has left her troubled.
The seizures return regularly, but neither Spock nor his parents can find a pattern or an explanation. The fits happen in varying situations, publically or in private, and once have occurred even during meditation. Their repeated occurrence is troubling.
In spite of them, Spock continues his education. His test scores remain above-average and his parents approve of his academic excellence.
His fellow students, however, take his seizures as an additional point of weakness that must regularly be mentioned and discussed. Spock therefore applies himself even more to his studies, aiming to finish his lessons early and depart from the schooling grounds before any of the others leave their pods. To expose oneself to an unpleasant confrontation when it can be avoided would be illogical.
According to what Spock can observe, he is not lacking. His intellectual capacities surpass those of many Vulcans who are born of two Vulcan parents. He strives to understand and implement Surak’s teachings daily. Unless a seizure occurs, he improves his control in regards to his emotions. His free time, he dedicates to beneficial activities like the game of 3D-chess. He aims to preserve Vulcan culture by mastering the ka'athyra, commonly known as the Vulcan lyre.
The evidence is clear that Spock has no intellectual disadvantage due to his mixed heritage. In addition, he has fully dedicated himself to the Vulcan way. Logic dictates that this fact be accepted.
It is not.
Perhaps his seizures are of more concern to them than Spock has assumed. His healers have labeled them as something based on his Human heritage, no matter how insignificant its presence in Spock’s genes or cultural identity. Spock knows he cannot control the fits, but this might not be known to his peers and instructors.
Spock does not know what to expect when his parents tell him that a Human physician will arrive for a consultation at Shi’Khar shortly before he reaches the age of 7. His seizures have not stopped, but their intensity has declined in terms of length. Spock’s only valid explanation for this decrease would be that his maturing mind and body have become accustomed to the sudden assaults and can now induce a speedier recovery.
Still, he is open to the idea of a Human physician. The Vulcan healers have so far denied any treatment beyond advising Spock’s father to further instruct Spock in the Vulcan ways of meditation and control. If these seizures are indeed somehow linked to his mother’s genes, a Human expert is more likely to make a fitting diagnosis.
In addition, becoming 7 years of age is considered an important step in the development of a Vulcan child. This, Spock has been taught, is a time where betrothals are arranged between families. He understands that an explanation or possible treatment for his predicament would lessen any objections a potential bondmate might raise. After all, his mental state during a seizure could affect that of his betrothed.
At Shi’Khar Medical Facility, Spock meets Dr. M’Benga of Earth. He is a tall, dark-skinned Human of slender build who shows little outward emotion except for a brief smile when he greets Spock’s mother with the Terran handshake ritual. It is an accepted display between Humans, but considered inappropriate between Vulcans. To Sarek, he expertly offers the ta’al.
Spock is surprised by his shown restraint and straight posture, but soon learns that the physician has been conducting a medical internship at Raal District Medical Center in the past year in order to acquire a xenobiological background in addition to his Terran training. It is rare for Humans to take this kind of position on Vulcan. It must be preceded not only by an excellent academic record, but the mastery of mental strength and emotional restraint far above average for a Human. Dr. M’Benga must be an outstanding Terran to be accepted in a Vulcan medical program.
While his Golic is adequate, the physician prefers Terran Standard for medical conversations. Neither Spock’s parents nor Spock himself object.
Dr. M’Benga calmly hears out both of Spock’s parents as well as Spock own additional explanations. The physician has already familiarized himself with Spock’s medical history and done additional research. After administering further tests of his own, as well as interpreting all data gathered on Spock’s unique condition, he comes to a very different conclusion than his Vulcan colleagues.
“I can’t agree with the current theory that this is a form of Human illness manifesting itself in Spock,” he eventually explains.
They have moved to a small but private office provided to Dr. M’Benga by the administration. Spock respects the doctor for not only talking to his parents, but seeking out Spock’s gaze as well.
“How do you come to this conclusion, Doctor?” Spock can hear that his father is intrigued.
“To be honest, I doubted the idea from the start. Such intense emotional outbursts combined with the physical symptoms are not something we usually see in Humans. Crying fits might be expected in younger children, but Spock is much more mature. The only reasonable explanation would be a severe psychological problem or imbalance. Something like major trauma. As I understand it, there’s no record of Spock having been placed in a traumatic situation.”
“Indeed not,” Sarek agrees.
“Spock’s mind is also Vulcan in nature,” the doctor continues. “His intellectual capacities at this age and his mastering of Vulcan meditation techniques to me make any Human psychological explanation or treatment an unfitting approach.”
Spock cannot help but feel satisfied by this assessment. His father also inclines his head in agreement.
“I’ve reviewed all data available and compared it to several Terran databases as well as those open to me on Vulcan. Especially given the scans made during the so-called seizure, I’ve come to quite a different conclusion. I believe these episodes are linked to Spock’s telepathic abilities.”
“You mean these emotions are somehow transferred to him?” It is Spock’s mother who first reacts to Dr. M’Benga’s surprising proposal. “Maybe intersected from those around him?”
“It’s one possibility,” the physician responds. “I’m of course not completely familiar with Spock’s social environment, but I doubt any healthy Vulcan would transfer emotions of this magnitude. Even you, the only Human regularly close to him, I would rule out as the source of such strong emotions. Your husband would have felt them, too.”
“My wife’s emotional control is sound,” Sarek agrees.
Dr. M’Benga nods. “I’m sorry to say this is all I can really tell you. I’m not familiar enough with Vulcan telepathy or proper treatment to remotely be of much help in this field.”
“You’ve been of great help,” Spock’s mother says. Once more, she is smiling. “It seems we did need a Human perspective after all.”
“I will seek out additional advice for this matter from a Vulcan specialist,” Sarek adds. “I agree with my wife – your assessment has been most helpful. Please accept my gratitude, Doctor.”
When they leave the medical facility, Spock’s mother voices what Spock has also considered: “Whom do you intend to contact now?”
“My choice is the honorable T’Pau. I believe our mistake was aiming to find a solely medical solution for Spock’s illness. What Dr. M’Benga suggests is that his emotional episodes might be rooted in a cause more ancient and less scientifically explored. Something even our well-trained healers are unfamiliar with.”
“You want to take this up with T’Pau?”
Spock has not expected this either. He has met T’Pau only once during a family gathering to exchange the customary words that welcomed Spock into their clan. The matriarch is highly-esteemed even beyond Vulcan and sought out only for the most important questions and traditional ceremonies. Her advanced age must also be taken into consideration when asking for an audience.
His father’s voice is stern when he replies: “Considering all that we know, I believe this to be the only logical solution.”
The Hall of Ancient Thought at Mount Seleya is a place few Vulcans have the honor to visit. It is where the katra of great Vulcans is stored, as well as the very essence of all Vulcan cultural and historical knowledge.
Spock recognizes the importance of this location. It is unusual that T’Pau would choose this place for their meeting, but the matriarch’s decisions are not his to question.
His father has accompanied him to this meeting. His mother, as she possesses no telepathic ability, has not joined them.
T’Pau, wearing her elaborate ceremonial robes befitting her status as matriarch and esteemed elder, awaits them in one of the many chambers adjacent to the Hall. Spock and Sarek are also wearing traditional robes. They exchange the ta’al, with Spock and Sarek also inclining their head as a sign of respect. T’Pau stares at them motionlessly.
“You have come to seek my advice, pi-maat,” she declares.
“You honor us by receiving us, pid-kom,” Sarek replies.
“To refuse would have been illogical. You seek help which I am able to offer.”
“You know my son, Spock. It is he who seeks your assistance.”
Spock holds T’Pau’s stern gaze as she considers him. “Step forward, kan. I would know your mind.”
It is clear Sarek has informed the elder of what it is they aim to explore. Slowly, as not to stumble over the long ceremonial robes, Spock approaches T’Pau. Her wrinkled hand rises in response. A moment later, her fingers find the psi points in Spock’s face.
Spock is familiar with mind melds, something that he and his father share regularly, as is custom between parent and child. But T’Pau’s presence is different from the familiar touch of his father’s thoughts. Spock can sense her power and wisdom, can feel her take over his mind, seek out even the most inconsequential lines of thought.
For several moments, he seems to float, unaware of his body, his surroundings, his very identity. When it is over, it becomes clear to Spock that – considering the stiffness of his body – the meld must have lasted far longer than mere moments, longer than any meld he has previously experienced.
“You were correct in coming to me with this matter, pi-maat,” T’Pau declares.
She seems much less affected by the meld than Spock, who is only slowly recovering from the force of her mind.
“What have you found, pid-kom?”
“I found Spock’s mind orderly for his age. The bond has not affected his ability to apply logic and regulation to his thinking. His telepathic abilities are sound. In spite of his mother’s heritage, his mind is that of a Vulcan.”
Sarek’s thoughts, unlike Spock’s, do not seem to linger on the last words spoken. Instead he asks: “Of which bond do you speak?”
T’Pau gestures towards Spock. “Your son has been bestowed with a most-revered connection. He is telsu.”
“No betrothal has been arranged so far, pid-kom. Spock is not yet of the right age.”
“I do not speak of the koon’ul. His mind is already linked to another, a bondmate not yet known to him.”
Spock does not understand what T’Pau is referring to. He is not aware of any bond that is formed without the knowledge of the bonded. His father also seems unfamiliar with the explanation given.
“I was unaware such bonds existed,” he states.
“Your lack of knowledge is to be excepted. These bonds are rare, but not unheard of among our people. It is a link forged at birth. The tradition of this bond is ancient. It is powerful and it must be honored. No other betrothed can be chosen for Spock. He is irrevocably linked to his telsu.”
“How can this bondmate be found, pid-kom?”
“I advise you to study the ancient scrolls. You will find all known information there. I can reveal nothing further to you. Dif-tor heh smusma, pi-maat.”
It is unsatisfying, but Sarek accepts T’Pau’s words with the ta’al and a respectful bow. Spock imitates his father, then follows him outside.
“Father,” Spock speaks up, but Sarek raises a hand and Spock falls silent.
“I can offer no additional explanation at this time, only what has been given to us by the honorable T’Pau. I will respond to your questions when I have discovered answers myself.”
This is logical. Still, Spock finds himself yearning for a more satisfying response.
At home, his mother expresses similar thoughts after Sarek’s brief explanation of what has transpired.
“T’Pau mentioned nothing else? Did she link Spock’s episodes to this bond?”
“She did not, but I infer from her explanation that this bond is what has caused the anomalies. She also confirmed what Dr. M’Benga has revealed: Spock’s mental health is sound and he is following the Vulcan way. This is a Vulcan matter, not a Human one.”
Spock’s mother nods, but seems unsatisfied as well.
“I will immediately research all information related to this bond and inform you when I have found a satisfying response,” Sarek adds and leaves for his working space.
“And you, Spock?” asks his mother, turning towards him. “What are your thoughts on this matter?”
“In spite of the honorable T’Pau’s explanation, I do not have enough knowledge to form an educated opinion,” Spock responds. “In this moment, I prefer to draw from the wisdom of Surak: Kaiidth.”
“What is, is,” his mother agrees.