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Linguistic Ambiguities in Vulcan Ethical Codes

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The thing people always forget is that it was a Vulcan ship that reached Tarsus IV first.

The research ship was closest when Starfleet figured out something might, in fact, be wrong with Tarsus IV, and it was sent to try to ascertain what was going on. They went expecting communication problems and instead found rotting corpses and 120 life signs.

108 of those life signs were simple to locate and extract to the ship’s medical facility; most were too starved to hide or fight, and they needed simply to be identified and beamed out.

By the time the Starfleet ship arrived, three days later, to take the transfer of all but the most injured or ill of the Tarsus inhabitants and to take control of the situation, only twelve life signs remained unfound; they were managing to evade even the most aggressive search attempts. Starfleet, having more to handle than they truly could, left the finding of those twelve to the Vulcans, who were able to do so without straining their resources or falling ill on the finding of more bodies of children, bloated and stinking in the sun.

The twelve were found more by accident than by any truly successful attempt by the Vulcan crewmembers; while the search team was consuming food, a boy climbed out of a hidden hole in the ground pointing a rudimentary but sharp weapon at them and said, “If you don’t give me that food, I’ll kill you.”

There was no logical reason to deny the boy, clearly starving, the food, and so they turned the food over and watched him head back down into the hole with it.

They had found the twelve remaining inhabitants of Tarsus IV.

--

When Jim registers for classes, the only remaining available language is Vulcan, in large part because nobody wants to sign up for it because it’s so damn hard. People would rather take Romulan than Vulcan, even though Romulan feels a little bit like choking on your own tongue.

So Jim sighs, vows to find out if he’s allowed to test out of the non-Standard language requirement, and signs up for Vulcan.

He knows he only has this problem because he’s registering literally last, which is what happens when you’re not technically a cadet until after you get to the Academy, but it’s not his fault that that happened. Or, well, it is, but that’s beside the point.

Vulcan.

He doesn’t want to take Vulcan.

He’s technically on sort-of academic probation, though—they think that he managed to hack his educational history, which one is offensive and two should be taken as a sign of his skills and not the lack thereof—so he shows up to the first Vulcan moderately awake and ready to BS his way through with the minimal amount of effort.

Which would be a hell of a lot easier if he didn’t recognize his fucking professor.

He actually freezes for a second, halfway into the room, until another cadet pushes him the rest of the way; for a heartbeat he doesn’t know where the fuck he is, what year it is, and he thinks he’s going to drown on his own breath.

But he’s gone this long without losing it, so he gets his shit together and heads to the last empty seat in the back row.

“Today will be the only day I speak to you in Standard,” Professor Setal says once the room is more-or-less full of cadets, most of whom look like they would rather be anywhere else. “Every day you will be assigned listening in Simplified Vulcan, for which translations will be provided on your PADD in both Vulcan and Standard characters. You will be expected to be familiar with all works from the listenings by the end of each week.”

Someone near Kirk makes a horrified noise, and Kirk has to swallow down a laugh at her look of trepidation.

“There is no expectation that you will sound Vulcan,” Prof Setal tells them. “Additionally, some words may be unpronounceable due to the physiology of your mouths. Regardless, listening comprehension is not affected by such physiological shortcomings, and so while grading will account for the first issue, it will not account for the second. Should you have a hearing impairment, I am to be informed by the end of this week so that adjustments can be made.”

He surveys all of them, and his eyes don’t rest any longer on Jim than on anyone else, and he thinks, maybe it’ll be okay.

--

By the end of the sixth day, nearly every remaining Tarsus IV inhabitant has been transferred to the Starfleet ship, but the boy with the weapon—one of the twelve—panics and screams at the mention of being sent to the ship, and becomes violent at any attempt to bring him near the transporter room, so decided that he will remain on the ship for the time being in an effort to not set back the limited emotional strides he has made.

The ship has adequate medical facilities, particularly now that the rest of the patients have been transferred, and so given the obvious preference of the boy and the lack of any additional hardship that cannot be easily surmounted, it is clearly logical to keep him there.

The first problem that is not easily overcome—shy of the boy’s illogical refusal to eat until everybody else in sight has eaten first, and finished their food, which is rectified by providing him food when there are few others in the room, and eating in his view—comes when they are approximately a day away from the Starfleet ship, heading towards their original spacedock destination; it is approximately the same distance as the ‘dock the Starfleet ship is heading towards, though in a different direction. The boy stops responding to all Standard. It is clear that he has not forgotten how to understand the language, as he still reacts to it, but he will provide no response.

For three shifts, the nurses are unable to determine how to elicit a response from the boy, until a researcher pauses in discussing the Tarsus fungus’s growth pattern and the boy responds in shaky, if essentially correct, Vulcan.

It becomes clear that he has been listening to the Vulcan being spoken around him, and that he is more comfortable speaking the language than he is speaking Standard, so they begin speaking to him in Vulcan as well as Standard.

It is quickly discovered that he is a fast learner, by Terran standards, and that he has a grasp of language and mathematics that rivals all but the most intelligent Vulcans his age. It is clear that he views language as an extension of mathematics, and that his skills in both accentuate each other.

They have twelve days until they reach the ‘dock, and on day three they provide him with a PADD with educational material for Vulcans of his age. He keeps up.

--

The thing is that Jim is really good at pretending to be stupid in person, and really bad at it on paper. He’s learned how to do it in person, has had a lot of practice in the last ten years, but on paper he’s never had a reason to hide his intelligence.

What he tends to do instead is hide that it’s him; he publishes under a nom de plume, which is about as anonymous as you can get in this day and age.

Intellectually, he knows that what he submits in the Academy is under his own name, that it’s associated with him, and most of the time he likes getting those accolades, but it makes him sloppy and complacent.

Which is why, on the fifth day of Vulcan language class, he receives a notification on his PADD from Prof Satel requesting that he stay after class, and his heart sinks. He knows.

Because as much as Jim is a fuck-up, he doesn’t fuck around during his classes. He’s not going to let himself get kicked out for something stupid—if he’s going out, he’s doing it on purpose, and over something he cares about—which means he forgot not to go too far in the opposite direction.

After class, he hangs around, pretending to be engaged in jamming stuff into his bag until the last straggler has asked Prof Satel something stupid about Vulcan syntax and the room is empty. Then he heads down to where Prof Satel is standing, hands stuffed in his pockets.

“T’Kehr,” he says, and Prof Satel’s gives him that Vulcan look of acknowledgement.

“Cadet Kirk,” Prof Satel says, “you submitted your most recent assignment in Vulcan script rather than Standard lettering.”

Fuck.

Jim shrugs. “I thought I would get a head start working on it now. I know we need to start writing in it next week.”

“Your proficiency with the writing system and the elegance of your script lead me to infer that you have previously studied the Vulcan language. Yet, you have not tested out of Introductory Vulcan.”

“I—” Satel clearly doesn’t recognize him, which is good, because that’s not a conversation he wants to have, but Jim’s tongue feels heavy and clumsy, and his brain isn’t showing him any way out of this. Satel is a part of his life that he was never supposed to see again, and this is fucking with him. “I didn’t want anyone to know I know Vulcan.”

“Why not?” Satel asks in Vulcan.

Startled, Jim replies, “It is a language one of my background should not know,” in the same language.

“You are more than merely proficient,” Satel says, and he sounds as surprised as Vulcans ever do. Jim can mostly see it in the arch of his eyebrow. “You speak the language as though you spoke it for many years and were trained by Vulcans. Yet, there were few Terran children to have been raised on Vulcan, and you do not comport yourself as one.”

That took a lot of training—and fucking—himself out of, but he’s not going to say that. Instead, resigning himself to speaking Vulcan with Satel because he’s an idiot who can’t keep his mouth shut, he says, “I was not raised on Vulcan.”

“Yet you were taught the language by Vulcans.”

This is getting ridiculous, and Satel is going to find out one way or another, so he says, “Including yourself.”

It takes a second of the most visible thinking he has seen from a Vulcan in a long time—and damn if he didn’t miss the assholes, because it makes his brain quiet just to be around him—and then Satel says, “You are from Tarsus IV.”

Jim’s hands clench in his pockets. “Briefly, yes.”

“You were the child who remained on our research ship.”

“Yes.”

Satel surveys him, then says, “I will not teach you Vulcan.”

Startled, Jim falls back to Standard, demanding, “What? Why not? I need a language to graduate.”

“You are already fluent in Vulcan; it would be a waste of both of our time for me to teach you the language. Rather, you will be my teaching assistant and produce a thesis on a topic of your choosing relating to the language.”

Jim gapes at him. “What? I’m not Communications track.”

“As you have stated, you require the language to graduate, and I require a teaching assistant.”

“I could just take another language,” Jim says hopefully.

Satel just stares at him. “You will not.”

No, he won’t.

Fuck.

--

By the time the ship reaches the spacedock, the boy is moderately conversational in Vulcan, knows most necessary words to hold a coherent discussion of fungal growth, and has no interest in getting off the ship.

He informs them in simple but understandable terms that there is no logical reason to remove him from the ship, that his mother is—here he devolves back into Standard for the first time since the day he stopped speaking it—who-the-fuck knows where, his brother fucked off years ago, and his step-dad sent him to Tarsus IV to get rid of him and it almost fucking worked. Then, clumsily, he returns to Vulcan to inform them that he will cease to eat if he returns to live with his step-dad (a word which does not exist in Vulcan, as the spouse of a biological parent when acquiring a replacement spouse becomes necessary is referred to simply by name).

The high-ranking crewmembers confer and decide that, as one of his guardians is unavailable and the other is abusive, it would not be logical to return him to the custody of his guardians. Additionally, there are numerous Vulcans on the ship who are qualified to teach subjects that the boy would need to learn to not fall academically behind his peers, so there is no educational reason for him to be forced from ship.

The conclusion is made that he will be permitted to remain on the ship until his non-abusive guardian is available to decide what is to be done with that.

The proper authorities are informed, the necessary supplies are acquired, and the ship leaves the spacedock twenty-three hours after it arrived.

--

Jim drops himself in Captain Pike’s chair and announces, “I need to switch my language.”

Pike glances up from his PADD, glares at Jim—who grins back—and says, “No.”

“Pleeeease?” Jim bats his eyelashes at Pike, which would work better if Pike was actually looking at him. Then he drops the bullshit. “Seriously. The instructor wants me to be the TA, and I don’t have time for that. I’m already at my maximum course load, and Advanced Navigational Astrophysics has the workload of at least three classes.”

Pike starts to look irritated, then clearly finishes processing what Jim just said and instead gapes at him, his hand half-raised to pinch the bridge of his nose. “Setal wants you to be his TA?”

“Yeah. And I don’t want to.”

“Setal has refused to take a TA for the past six years, because he doesn’t think anyone is competent enough. The only person he even considered was Commander Spock, but he wasn’t interested in the position. So you want to tell me why Setal wants you to be his TA?”

Shit. “Um. No?”

“Nice try.”

This is not going how Jim had wanted it to. “I know Vulcan. I speak Vulcan. That’s why.”

Pike looks down at his PADD like that has the answers he’s looking for, then looks back up at Jim to ask, “You speak Vulcan?”

“Yeah.”

“Any particular reason why?”

“I learned it. Vulcans taught it to me. I speak Vulcan. It’s not a big deal. But, given that I speak Vulcan, can I be switched to another language? I’ll take Romulan.”

Pike snorts. “Given how long we’ve fought to get Setal to take a TA, if you think I’m going to let you get out of that to take Introductory Romulan, you’re crazy.” He smirks at Jim. “Good luck, kid.

--

At the end of the fourth month, the boy is up to a healthy—if not optimal—weight, is sleeping through an average of one out of every three nights, and has agreed to speak Standard at least one hour a day, so long as the topic is not about Tarsus IV or his family. Researcher T’Lok spends many of those hours teaching him chess, first standard and then three-dimensional.

He is quiet for a human child, punctuated with outbursts of illogical and unprompted anger, but these and many of his other symptoms fit within the recovery process of a traumatized child, and the researchers are not offended when he shouts at them without causes.

There is some debate in the beginning as to whether his recovery would be aided by someone who may be considered comforting—as Vulcans are many things, but comforting is not one of them—but he seems to thrive without such emotional reassurance. Rather, he is aided by the logical reassurance that the Vulcans will not permit harm to come to him, and that they are intelligent enough to prevent any risk to their food supply.

That they teach him how to build and repair a replicator does not hurt, either.

His education is conducted similarly to that of a Vulcan child, though only mathematics and Vulcan literature are taught in Vulcan script; every other subject is taught in Standard, primarily so that he will be able to reintegrate into Terran society with no regression of academic standards at such time when his mother returns to request custody of him.

Though the researchers do not feel as though they are qualified to assess happiness, there is an agreement that the boy is performing adequately and wanting of little.

--

Being Setal’s TA is less work than Jim had expected. Mostly it consists of checking the homework assignments for all of the classes and providing corrections for mistakes. It takes a while, but it’s not particularly difficult, particularly for the Introductory classes.

He’s stuck teaching one day a week, a discussion seminar on pre-Surakian literature with eight cadets in their last year, none of whom seem to have any idea who he is. None of them seem to care, either, which is a relief.

Pre-Surakian literature isn’t his favorite topic, mostly because it’s so bizarrely emotional it makes his skin crawl a little; Vulcans aren’t supposed to be like that. It just feels wrong. But he learned it along with everything else, and it only takes a minimal amount of review to get his vocabulary back up to snuff for talking about it.

The real work is on his thesis, which he decides to do on the linguistic ambiguities and constraints of Vulcan ethical codes. It’s hard and complicated and requires him reading a fuckton of pre-Surakian and immediately-post-Surakian literature, some of which he has to get special access to because it’s about Vulcan rituals that they don’t talk about, including the kahs-wan, which is fucked up and leads to him hoarding food for almost two weeks after he reads about it until his roommate gets pissed at him for it.

He thinks of including himself as a case study within his paper, as an example of ethical ambiguities, of Vulcans acting with what can be deemed as compassion, but he—

He can’t. He can’t breathe for thinking about it, the walls closing it at the thought of seeing his name written in Vulcan script, detailing in the most dispassionate of language what happened.

So he doesn’t.

--

A year and a half after Tarsus IV, Jim receives a long-distance comm from Winona Kirk.

A good number of the researchers are on Elris VII taking soil samples and atmospheric readings, and Jim is busy refining his model of polytropic analysis of neutron stars, and he considers just not taking it. Saying fuck her and not bother, especially because talking to her may mean having to go back to Earth, and he’s so not for that.

But there’s no way they would let him get away with that, so he saves his modeling work and accepts the comm.

His mother looks somehow exactly the same as she always does, the top of her science blues visible at the bottom of the screen, her blond hair pulled up in a rough ponytail.

Her eyes narrow. “What’s this about you being on a Vulcan ship? Why aren’t you on Earth with Frank?”

Jim opens his mouth and then realizes he has no words to answer her. He is fluent in two languages, partially conversational in another two, and he can’t think of a damn thing to say to his mother.

It takes him an unconscionably long time to realize that that’s because he’s angry, angry in a way he hasn’t been since the first few months after Tarsus IV, because there’s nothing on the ship that makes him that angry. The rage swallows his tongue, closes his throat, and he digs his hands into his thighs to breathe his way through it.

Finally, he calms down enough to rasp out, “It’s been a year and a half, and you’re just wondering that now?”

Her expression blanks out. “A year and a half? I haven’t seen you in two years.”

For a minute he genuinely doesn’t understand what she’s saying, and then he gets it, and the rage turns into something darker, smaller, colder. “Why are you calling me?”

Her expression turns indignant. “The Gagarin just docked on Earth, and there was a note in my file saying that you were on a Vulcan research ship and would be there until I got in touch.”

“Did you ever bother to try to get in touch in the past two years, or did you say, fuck him, and pretend I didn’t exist, just like you did with Sam?”

Her expression tightens, her cheekbones sharpening in the way that Sam’s always used to, back when he was still at home. “Long-distance comms are difficult, as far out as I’ve been into unexplored space.”

“And you didn’t dock anywhere for two years?” He realizes he’s being drawn into an argument with her, a petty illogical argument that neither of them will win because she will claim she cares and he will know that she doesn’t and neither of them will get anywhere, and so he grits his teeth and says, “I’m not going to live with Frank. The fucker hit me until he could send me away, and I’m not going back.”

“He—”

“Vulcans don’t believe in the logic of leaving children with abusive adults, so unless you’re planning on taking custody of me, I’m not leaving.” He offers his mother the ta’al, because it’s the biggest fuck-you he can think of. “Mene sakkhet ur-seveh, ko-mekh.” And then he ends the comm.

He is ten minutes into work on his model when he realizes he is crying.

--

The class lecture on Tarsus IV takes Jim by surprise.

It shouldn’t have, because he’s been pretty good about checking the syllabus and reading ahead, but he’s pretty sure he read it while mostly asleep, registered only that he had read the papers before and didn’t need to read them.

So it’s kind of his fault, but it’s also a big fucking problem, because if he hasn’t had at least a day to ready himself for talking about Tarsus IV he’s really not okay doing it.

Which means that walking into class and seeing the picture, that picture of Kodos, back to the camera, holding a phaser on a girl with one leg, mid-shot, makes him freeze, his hand going up to his collarbone to cling on, fingers biting in until he finds the pressure point, the pain pulling him out of his head.

He almost walks out.

He almost walks out, but he can’t, because he’s still on academic probation, and so he has to sit through the class, and he’ll do it unless or until he throws up or passes out.

This’ll be fun.

The professor starts with an explanation of what happened in Tarsus IV, at which time Jim dissociates a bit, because no. He only comes out of it when the professor mentions the Starfleet ship that rescued the colonists, because even more no to that.

So Jim, whose self-control is shit at the best of time, of which this is not, raises his hand and says, “It wasn’t a Starfleet ship.”

The professor gets halfway through the next carefully scripted sentence before actually seemingly to realize that anyone had spoken—he’s plowing through the recitation of the “incident” like he memorized it by syllable instead of idea, and if he stops he’ll forget all of it—at which point he squints at Jim and says, “Excuse me?”

Jim scrubs a clammy hand over his clammy face, which doesn’t help with the overall clamminess. “The first ship to arrive at Tarsus IV was a Vulcan research ship. They did the initial evacuation and triage of the colonists.”

“That’s not—”

“Read Eleanor An-kor’s The First Days or the Vulcan Public Communication Logs from those stardates. Or basically anything that wasn’t written by Starfleet on the topic.” Not that Starfleet lies about it, mostly, but they have a tendency to downplay the work the research ship did to the point where it disappears from most records. It didn’t help that the researchers had no interest in taking any credit beyond what they were required to put in official reports.

“Vulcan Public Communication Logs aren’t available outside of Vulcan computing systems.”

Oh. Right. Whoops. Jim shrugs. “An-kor’s work is still pretty accurate, and consists of more than just Starfleet propaganda bullshit.”

The professor’s eyes narrow, and then he says, “If you’re so informed on Tarsus IV, why don’t you give your analysis on what happened? As this is an ethics class, after all, and not a history one.”

Jim stares at him for a minute, then has the thought that he has no hands, or too many of them, and when he looks down they’re shaking, his whole body is shaking, and he’s hyperventilating, maybe, or not breathing, and he stands on legs he can’t feel and picks up his PADD with hands that don’t exist and walks out of the classroom.

--

Winona talks to the researchers; though she states that her son should be living with his step-father, they decide that, if she is advocating for him to be returned to an abusive adult, she is not qualified to make decisions about him. She claims that she has spoken to the step-father and he denies the allegations, but they are aware that they boy does not lie, particularly now after so long around Vulcans, and so they dismiss the step-father’s claims and hers as well.

They do not tell the boy of this conversation, though some among them view it as a lie by omission; it is decided that it would be detrimental to the boy’s mental well-being for him to be aware of it. The decision is made that he will be informed should he ask, but all that he is told of without prompting is that he will be permitted to remain on the ship for as long as he wishes, so long as he does not neglect his academic studies. They additionally provide him with the necessary forms, should he wish for emancipation.

In response, he smiles while excreting salinated liquid from his tear ducts, which from their knowledge about Terrans indicates unhappiness. When they inquire, however, he informs them that he is happy, and that sometimes Terrans cry when happy as well. That knowledge is added to their records, so that they are able to better respond should crying happen again.

Having a Terran on board has taught them much, as well.

They think that, were they not Vulcan, they would enjoy his company.

--

Vulcan is gone.

Jim stops in front of Setal’s office, still in his dress uniform, after one too many funerals, and hesitates before knocking. Normally he wouldn’t even bother knocking, much less hesitating, but Setal might—

Setal opens the door, and he looks—he looks Vulcan, and Jim says, “I grieve with thee.”

Setal looks at him then says, “And I with thee,” and Jim swallows because he’s trying to forget what he lost, not only the cadets but also the pieces of Vulcan he held with him all these years, Vulcan that he had never been to but seen a thousand times on his PADD, had learned through pre-Surakian literature and recorded lectures from the VSA and beautiful flowing scripts.

Jim presses his lips together, feeling the echo of some of the worst of his injuries even though they’ve been healed, then says, falling back into Standard because he doesn’t have words for this in Vulcan, “I failed you. I failed all of you. I’m sorry.”

Consternation crosses Setal’s face, the shift of one eyebrow, and he steps into his office, gesturing for Jim to follow. He does. He couldn’t not. “You did not fail me, James Kirk,” Setal says once the door is closed behind them, and they are both standing alone in Setal’s half-lit office. “You could not have prevented the destruction of Vulcan, and you did not initiate it.”

“I should have stopped it,” he says desperately.

Setal’s expression turns stern. “Kaiidth, James. Or have you forgotten everything we taught you?”

Jim shakes his head. “I haven’t. But I—”

“It is due primarily to your efforts that the katras were recovered from Vulcan-that-was. Vulcan is gone. I will go with the refugees to Vulcan-that-will-be so that I can aid in replenishing the ranks of our population.”

Jim gets so caught up in the idea of Setal—old, smart, Professor Setal—having sex or children that he almost doesn’t realize what Setal is saying. “You’re leaving?”

“Indeed. My services will be of more use to the Vulcan population than to the Academy. As such, while your ship is grounded, you will be taking over my responsibilities.”

--

Jim leaves when he’s seventeen, having gotten through basically all of the Vulcan required coursework for his age group. He’s emancipated but has three-hundred parents, all of whom are Vulcan and ornery and logical and brilliant. He loves them, and loves the stars, but he’s lived on the same ship for nearly four years, and he needs out.

They all understand, or are all understanding, and there is no judgment or recriminations. He tells them he wants to leave and they inform him of the upcoming stops that will be suitable for him to disembark on.

He has remarkably little to take with him, because Vulcans aren’t big on souvenirs and it’s not like he came on the ship with anything other than the clothes on his back and a really sharp rock, the latter of which is shoved in the bottom of the bag he now has.

There is no need to provide him with credits, as he has some that have been well-invested from his first three publications, all published under a nom de plume, including one written in Vulcan and translated into Standard on fungal growth that is thought to have saved ten thousand lives on Elrkon II. He has all necessary documentation identifying him as James T. Kirk, son of George Kirk and definitely not a Tarsus IV survivor.

There are advantages to not having gone through intake on the Starfleet ship, dubiously including the fact that his own mother doesn’t know where he spent his thirteenth birthday.

So with a perfunctory and—on one side—emotionless farewell, Jim steps off a research ship and into a bar, where he discovers the wonders of alcohol, sex, and bar fights.

--

The thing about sending half the Academy into a warzone is that the other half is still left, sans most of the necessary teachers, and so while Cadet-Captain Kirk is grounded he gets promoted—ish—to Professor of Vulcan Language, thus taking over all of Professor Setal’s classes.

They’re all a lot emptier than they were, except for the first-year class, and his heart hurts the first time Advanced Vulcan class files into the room and only fills twelve seats. One of which is filled by Uhura, who peers at him with deep-seated suspicion that apparently hasn’t gone away no matter that they went through hell together and he’s technically her captain.

“What are you doing here?” she demands when the last person files in and it’s clear that he’s not actually lost. “You don’t speak Vulcan.”

Jim pinches the bridge of his nose, then informs her in the most formal Vulcan he can that he is Professor Setal’s replacement professor, and if she refuses to address him as Captain she will address him as Professor.

She gapes at him.

It’s pretty funny, actually, or would be if he wasn’t so damn tired. He doesn’t like this, doesn’t like showing off with this because it’s private, but they should trust him a little more than this. He’s earned that.

Nobody else says anything, so he starts writing an obscure and complicated pre-Surakian poem on the board for them to work on translating. He has this class and then an hour to work on his own homework and eat before he has a meeting with the Admiralty and then a few hours of flight simulation training. Then maybe he can get some sleep.

He’s most of the way through the poem before someone—Su’kai-ni, Medical—asks, “How do you know Vulcan?”

Jim finishes the line he’s writing, then replies in Vulcan, “The expectation that you speak only in Vulcan has not changed, no matter that Professor Setal is no longer your professor.” And then, because he’s too tired to lie, he says, “I spent most of my adolescent years on a Vulcan science research vessel. My academic training at that time was conducted primarily in Vulcan. I have had two research papers accepted by the VSA as valid Vulcan-language scientific research. I am adequately qualified to teach you how to translate basic pre-Surakian poetry into Standard.”

--

Two days after appearing on the Enterprise and officially becoming Jim’s First Officer, Spock approaches Jim during dinner and says, “I have been informed that you are fluent in the Vulcan language.”

Jim nods, gesturing towards the seat across from him. “Sit.” Spock does, placing his tray carrying plomeek soup in front of him. Jim hasn’t had plomeek soup since he was seventeen. He’s not sure he misses it. “I am. What about it?”

“Would you,” Spock starts, then hesitates. “Would you be averse to conversing in it, on occasion? When we are not on duty, of course. I find myself…wishing for an academic conversation that requires no translation into Standard, nor alterations of concepts that become necessary when shifting vocabularies and grammatical structures.”

Oh, Jim thinks. “Sure,” he says, because he’d like that too, if he’s to be honest. He hasn’t had anyone to debate scientific issues with in Vulcan in a long time; his discussions with Setal generally regarded linguistic matters.

“I would be much gratified, Captain.”

Jim waves that off. “It’d be a treat for me, too. And hey, Spock, do you play chess?”

--

Linguistic Ambiguities in Vulcan Ethical Codes contains a case study of a Tarsus IV survivor who spent close to four years raised on a Vulcan research vessel because of the crew’s refusal to force him to return to an abusive but legal guardian. It is the first research paper written by a non-Vulcan accepted by the new VSA.