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A Tale of Two Mirrors

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A Tale Οf Two Mirrors

Chapter 1: Mirror, mirror on the wall…

It was like taking candy from a baby. It certainly felt like it.

The Vulcan passenger ship Surak had just left Vulcan space and entered the neutral zone. They were close to their side but, even in zero-gravity space, luck was tough.

Since the Terran intelligence knew Vulcans and Romulans were mortal enemies, they were monitoring closely that area, where something strange occurred during the last months.

Enemy Vulcan ships followed an unusual route. They headed toward Romulan space instead of the opposite direction. Additionally, several intelligence reports from the neutral zone revealed that traffic in that area had increased.

And so did the unspecified attacks on ships passing by.

The Terran ship Glory was heavily armed, cloaked and appeared suddenly. Five torpedoes fired with surgical precision were enough to bring down Surak's shields.

Not that the Vulcans had a reputation for being an easy target. They wouldn't sit and wait for the Terrans to beam aboard. And certainly they wouldn't surrender without a fight.

This was why the torpedoes were immediately followed by an electronic signal, transmitted from the Terran ship, before the enemy had any chance to restore their shields. Within seconds, the bug infected Surak's main electronic systems, jammed its entire telecommunications, and transmitted from the ship's megaphones a high frequency sound wave.

Harmless to Humans, the ultra-high frequency blast from the previously unknown unorthodox weapon could bring the strongest Vulcan to his knees.

And it did.

When Glory's captain, Anthony Fierm, ordered a scan of the enemy ship, it revealed forty life forms. Strangely enough, one was still conscious.

It didn't matter. Soon he would also fall, like everybody else.

Fierm ordered his soldiers to prepare to be beamed aboard. Fifteen strong men – who were not only handsomely paid, but had been promised a fair share from the loot – were ready and waiting in the transporter room. Their phasers were not set on stun.

The young Terran captain smiled; a mix of arrogance and satisfaction was written all over his face.

Glory's new weapons made this too easy. Like taking candy from a baby.

And just as sweet.

He spun his chair around and rose. It was time to show his lover how much he appreciated her flexibility last night.

"Ensign Kentop, you're in command until I'm back."

Ignoring the envious looks from the rest of the bridge crew, most of whom were her superiors, the blond bombshell rose slowly from her seat and approached him.

"Of course, captain," she smiled nonchalantly, taking his place on the captain's chair.

Grinning, Fierm entered the turbolift and headed to the transporter room. The enemy ship was private and most likely transported valuable cargo.

Trusting nobody but himself, this time the captain had decided to join the disembarking party. Glory could run with Miranda on the command chair until his return.

His profitable return.

________________________________________

"Sir, he's inside this room," the lieutenant informed him, passing a portable scanner in front of a door. There was only one Vulcan still standing on Surak and he was behind this door.

Following from a safe distance, Fierm wiped his sweaty forehead with his sleeve – the Vulcan ship from inside was hot as hell!

"Is the door locked?" he asked observing the red light on the scanner's screen which indicated a single presence.

"No, sir."

"Then by all means," Fierm smiled wickedly. "Let us pay our respects."

The door slid open and the lieutenant aimed his phaser inside the room. "Freeze! Don't move!"

"Don't fire!" a female voice shouted in Standard English. "I'm unarmed!"

"What the--"

Hearing the unexpected plea Fierm's eyes widened. He carefully peeked inside.
The ornate room appeared to be some sort of living room. There was a big couch against the left wall. Large curved swords with shining blades decorated the room. Four tall vases containing yellow wheat-like plants were in each corner. The luxurious bright orange carpet added a feeling of excessive wealth.

In the middle of the room was the most exquisitely carved wooden table Fierm had ever seen in his entire life.

Rectangle, dark brown and enormous, the table stretched from one side of the room to the other. It was surrounded by eight chairs sculpted in the same pattern. This kind of art was unbelievably rare on Earth; only members of the Emperor's family were known to possess such artifacts.

The fact that such an uncommon object was found on an enemy ship only added to its value. Observing it with greedy eyes, Fierm automatically began calculating how much it would get in the black market. It could even surpass the rare Vulcan swords.

Then his attention turned to the woman who tried to hide without success behind the table, and to her familiar voice. "Mandy?"

Although they expected a Vulcan, it was a Terran woman, wearing an embroidered Vulcan robe that rose and faced them timidly. "Tony? Is that… you?"

To say Fierm was surprised would be an understatement. "Mandy? You're alive!"

"My God! Tony!" The woman stood completely frozen; her large blue eyes betrayed her confusion and wonder. "You… came back for me? Oh, Tony!" she exclaimed and burst into tears.
Fierm lowered his weapon and nodded his men to lower theirs. "And they say miracles don't happen! Yet you survived! Well, well, well… Who would know?"

"What happened?" she asked, trembling with fear. "Suddenly everybody touched their heads, screamed and collapsed on the floor! Wha- what happened?"

"Like it?" Fierm smiled proudly. "My newest prize. Last month I expanded my business acquaintances. The Klingons had a few nasty tricks up their sleeves, like that cloaking device. They were also so dumb they couldn't resist the image of a poor helpless Terran ship that drifted without power into the neutral zone. Ha! Their throats were practically asking to be slain!"

The woman continued watching him in disbelief. "It that… really you, Tony?"

"Who else? The one and only," Fierm smirked while noticing another door next to them. "What's behind the door?"

"The-- the bedroom."

"Anybody in there?"

She shook her head.

"Check it," he ordered his lieutenant. The room was an equally luxurious bedroom with two semi-double beds and an enormous closet.

Another door led to a bathroom which might as well belong to the emperor. Surveying it, the lieutenant whistled in awe. It was as big as his quarters.

He returned and signalled his captain. "It's clean."

Having the area secured, Fierm turned his attention to Mandy. Observing her Vulcan outfit, his expression changed to disgust. "What in the emperor's name are you wearing?"

For a second she appeared dizzy and out of words. "I… I… I haven't spoken with any other Human for five years. I gotta sit down," she mumbled, collapsing on a chair.
"Sir?" The lieutenant who observed the scene stood confused and waited for further instructions.

Fierm looked over his shoulder. "It's okay. Continue searching the ship; throw all sleeping beauties into their brig while they're still out. Check the cargo and every corner. Lock them up real good! Then come back here to report."

The lieutenant nodded and withdrew leaving them alone. Fierm pressed a button; the door closed behind him with a small hissing sound. Without wasting any time, he approached the dazzled woman with a million questions in his mind.

"What happened to you? How on Terra you managed to survive? Vulcans don't take prisoners!"

"I know!" Mandy exclaimed and burst into tears. "Oh, Tony! If you only knew what I've been through!"

He let out a deep breath and scratched his head. This… complicated things.

First of all, Miranda wouldn't like the fact that his ex was still alive five years after reported as being killed in an accident – or left behind was more like it.

It was five years ago when he had to make a quick decision; his first, as an Imperial captain.

Either they would have to wait for five crew members, one of them his woman, to return to the ship, or they would risk getting caught stealing that Romulan ship's cargo near the neutral zone – a risky, illegal and above all rewarding business.

Back then, he had just become captain, one of the youngest captains in the Imperial Fleet. The best part however was that he didn't have to kill anyone. Not that he would hesitate - only he found a less messy way, by using Mandy's thighs.

A couple of weeks earlier, during an inspection, an elder Admiral had visited their ship. The tour covered all sectors and decks, including the linguistics department – Mandy's section. Seeing the ship's junior linguistics advisor, the lecher practically started drooling.

The problem was that Mandy, unlike her lover, wasn't ambitious. Her knife was both quick and sharp. After tasting it, the Admiral proposed to Fierm an exchange. A one-night stand with a drugged Mandy for an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It would take a fool or a mad man to refuse.

Fierm was neither.

Once the Admiral got what he wanted, he kept his promise. After pulling a few strings, Fierm received an unusually generous promotion.

Standing for the first time on the ship's bridge, the young captain started planning his future. His salary was not enough; he deserved some extra bonuses. Glory was assigned to patrol near the neutral zone; as long as he could afford to grease the palms of the right officers, who would care if a few passing enemy ships went missing?

Now, five years later, Fierm looked down at the sobbing woman. She was still the same old Mandy, lithe and slender with a body that could tempt a saint. He wondered why she hid that kick-ass body under such a heavy robe. Then he began observing the blue fabric. Like everything in the room, it looked rich enough and there were golden vertical letters in the front that reached all the way down to the hem. Although the long robe was exactly the opposite from the short skirts she used to wear when they were together, Fierm couldn't deny that the color was the perfect match for her eyes.

As for her blonde hair, it was pulled up in an odd, senile bun which reminded him of an elderly aunt he hated.

Miranda. Shit, he thought and scratched his head again. Miranda Kentop, his lover for the last five years, was a natural brunette who had dyed her hair blonde. It was a requirement for the captain's bed - he always had a thing for blondes.

With a sigh he sat down next to her.

"Looks like you have a tale to tell," he smiled as Mandy wiped tears away.

"Go on," he encouraged her. "We have some time. What happened?" he asked while the wheels in his head were turning. He couldn't take her back on the ship; Miranda would have her stabbed within an hour and it would take only a call for her uncle, Admiral Kormack to degrade him.

Still sobbing, Mandy gazed up at him. Her voice was filled with anguish and pain. "Why did you leave? Why did you leave us behind? We could still make it back to the ship-"

"The cargo was the first sector the Vulcans hit! Since you were all beamed there, we presumed you were killed. Now, I don't know what you may think of me, but I had a ship and a crew to think." And my ass to cover as well, he thought.

If this ever got out he knew he would be executed. The only thing he could do was order his ship around and get the hell away from there as fast as they could.

Minus five crew members. Minus Mandy.

Well, she wasn't the best lover he ever had, but she was exactly what a man of importance needed hanging on his arm.

Mandy's flawless face opened doors. She was pretty, very pretty and men were literally drooling at the sight of that face and ass. He wondered if her ass was just as firm as he remembered. Damn, he had missed that fine piece. Fierm observed the door which led to the bedroom. Perhaps one last time… he thought licking his lips, before turning his attention back to his former lover.

"All five of you were reported as been killed in a shuttle accident," he explained, trying to appear sympathetic. "And that was the end of it. I'm sorry, Mandy. You must have been through a lot."

She shook her head. "The Vulcans hit the cargo area, but we had left that sector. The Romulans didn't take any chances and the cargo was heavily guarded. Once the Romulan guards saw us they began shooting.

"We started to withdraw and were about to call you, to either beam us back or sent reinforcements, when… the Vulcans came," Mandy sighed. "Basically we were caught in the middle. And Tony, the rumors are true. Vulcans don't take prisoners," she whispered, white as a sheet.

Now that was becoming interesting. He shifted and sat more comfortably. "What happened?"

"Since the Romulan shields were down," Mandy began, "the Vulcans beamed aboard. You know how Terra knows almost nothing about either of them? How they manage to catch all our spies? Well, it's because they are touch telepaths! They can read a person's thoughts by touching them!"

"No shit!" Fierm yelled, nearly falling from his seat. This was becoming very, very interesting… In fact, this kind of information could really boost his career. He would take care of Mandy's ass later. "What else did you find out?"

She raised her shoulders. "Only that Vulcans and Romulans originate from the same species, they share a common ancestor. But after a civil war that almost destroyed their home planet a small radical group that called themselves 'Romulans' fled their world to start a new colony as far away from Vulcan as possible."

He snorted. "Who could blame them?"

"Yes, you're right. That war took place two thousand years ago. Since that time Vulcan is ruled with an iron fist by the family that led their army to victory, a clan known as S'chn T'gai. There is a Council that represents every clan on the planet but the Council head always comes from the S'chn T'gai clan. It's part of their tradition, but the family's also very influential.

"The ship that attacked us on that day was targeting the Romulans. Its captain, General Sarek, is a prominent member of the S'chn T'gai clan. He… He…" Her voice broke into a sob.

"Hey, hey," Tony reached out and took her trembling hands in his. "It's okay, you're safe now." Damn, who could resist to those large blue eyes?

She shook her head. "Apparently none of them had ever seen a blonde before. Most Vulcans and Romulans have black eyes and hair, only a small minority has brown. He saw me as something exotic.

"They gathered all of us on the storage area, where they shoot the Romulan crew except from the captain. Oh Tony, it was dreadful!" she cried.

"Instead of executing him, like the others, Sarek placed his hands on the Romulan captain's temples and the man screamed! I've never see such a strong man screaming from pain. And Tony, he was strong. During the battle he had killed a Vulcan with his bare hands. But after Sarek removed his hands, he fell on the floor watching the void with empty eyes. When we left him, he was still lying on the floor…

"The five of us were terrified and thought we were going to die. Oh, I wish I had died back then!"

"Shit."

"They didn't care about the Romulan cargo. Instead they initiated the auto-destruct system and we beamed back to their ship. There he gave Sypran, Lloyd, Cow and Gregovitch to his men… to do with them anything they wanted! I never saw any of them again… Then he took me to his room," Mandy sobbed.

"Bastard!"

"He wanted to see if I was a natural blonde. So he tore my clothes off to see my pubic hair. He tied me to the bed and… and…" she covered her face with her hands and burst into tears.

"Fucking bastard!" Fierm jumped to his feet so quickly, he almost knocked his chair backward. No fucking alien scum had the right to lay his filthy hands on a Terran woman. "If I ever get my hands on him!"

Then he sat down and rubbed his jaw. "Wasn't he weird? I mean his balls…"

She shook her head; her eyes were red and swollen. "No, no. Their DNA is slightly different. They have similar anatomy and almost identical physiology with Humans.

"Our journey back to Vulcan lasted approximately ten days," Mandy continued with a moan. "I spent all that time tied to his bed. He untied me only to go to the bathroom.

"That was when I learned my first Vulcan word, 'kafeh'. It means slave. Property," she spat in disgust. "If I ever hear that word again, I'll throw up."

"Yea, well you won't," he said, thinking of her naked, gagged and tied on the bed. She had never agreed to any bondage games when they were together – as a couple their sexual activity was limited to the basics. Now having this conversation made him hard. Perhaps he could give her a merciful fuck as compensation. But damn, how was he gonna bring her back to his ship?

"Anyway, once we arrived on Vulcan, he allowed me to bath, gave me a clean robe and took me to the palace of his matriarch."

Hearing that last word, Fierm's eyes widened in surprise and Mandy nodded.

"I know, I know… It sounds unbelievable, but Vulcan is a matriarchic society. Men and women are equal, yet the head of each family is always a woman. Even him, the mighty Sarek, had to take the approval from the head of his clan, sort of a… a head of state, to keep me."

"She said yes?"

Mandy closed her eyes and nodded again. "Later I found out why," she said, unable to hide her weariness.

"Why?" Fierm asked curious.

She sighed. "Sarek was married. I found that it was a political match; he and his wife weren't particularly close. He was only interested in military affairs and traveled frequently off planet.

"But, according to his staff, he was a faithful husband. Although his household was wealthy, and he could easily afford it, he never had any personal…" her lips twisted, "servants. I was his first," Mandy admitted, lowering her head in shame.

"During the last years, Sarek's wife T'Rea, who was from a different clan, had disagreed with his clan mother over some political issues. Looks like T'Rea had a different agenda and she was very ambitious.

"T'Pau, Sarek's clan mother, suspected that T'Rea was after her seat as head of the Vulcan Council. When I showed up, T'Pau saw me as an opportunity to spread conflict among them. She was so right...

"When we arrived at his house – fortress was more like it – Sarek took me to a small room at the lower floors. The room was stripped from any unnecessary furniture. There was only a bed, a table with two chairs and a small bathroom. No windows either; it had only one exit, through the door.

"Once the servants informed T'Rea about me, she became furious. She came outside my room. Terrified, I overheard them arguing at the corridor. I didn't understand a word they said but later I found out she demanded I was executed immediately.
"Sarek refused and told her he was entitled to a kafeh. That it was his right to keep me and she had no say in the matter.

"Angry, she left the house taking their son with her, a twenty-year-old devil named Sybok. She must have returned after a month or so, but I was locked up and almost lost track of time."

Mandy gave him a sad smile. "Do you know how I calculated the days? From Sarek. He came to my room every night… The door was always locked and only he knew the code. Everyday I dreaded that if anything happened to him I would be left there, buried alive to die of thirst or hunger. Oh Tony, if you only knew what I've been through!

"All day I was locked up – I almost lost my mind. One day I even stopped eating. Vulcan food is so blunt and tasteless… They gave me only a disgusting soup which I threw in the toilet. And I think I became depressed. So every day I ate less and less.
"One night Sarek came and found me unconscious on the floor. I hadn't eaten anything for three days. Immediately, he sent for a doctor. He wanted so badly to keep me alive… I wish he hadn't," Mandy sighed.

"The doctor who came injected me with a stimulant. I couldn't understand a single word but I realized that he scolded Sarek and advised him to change my diet and put me in a room so I could see the sun. I was caged like an animal…

"The same night Sarek transferred me to a much larger room. It was high up in a tower and had a mountain view. I thought of jumping and killing myself but there were bars at the windows. And he continued coming every night…" Mandy groaned and bit her trembling lips to stop herself from bursting again into tears. She took another deep breath and continued her painful narrate.

"After a few days, from my window I saw T'Rea strolling around the gardens, talking to Sarek. She had returned… They must have reconciled because after that he used to come to my room once or twice the week. Not that it bothered me. But my nerves were shattered by then. I hadn't spoken with anybody for over a month. I ended up talking to myself.

That was when Sarek sent for me a tutor to teach me their language. Of course it was a woman; all servants who came to bring me food or clean the room while he was around, were women."

She sighed, brought her hand on her throat and swallowed hard. "I need some water."

Fierm looked around. There was a device similar to a replicator attached to the wall behind them.

Mandy stood and approached the device. "Masu," she ordered with a slight accent and a glass of crystal-clear water appeared.

"Our technologies are similar," observed Fierm and Mandy nodded.

She drunk half the water and returned to her chair.

"How well do you speak the language?"

"Sarek wanted me to speak it like a native. As a touch-telepath he could be very persuasive..." Mandy's hands began trembling and she put the glass aside. "I learned to speak it like a native," she whispered and clenched her fists to stop them from trembling.

"What else did you learn about their society? What kinds of weapons they have? Can they threaten the Empire?"

"Perhaps, in the future. At the moment they don't care about Terra. All they're interested is conquer Romulus."

"Hmmm… Well good for us, but why?"

"They have secrets, shameful secrets that if ever get out they could destroy Vulcan. Since they share DNA with the Romulans, they want to destroy them first before begin a war against us."

"Clever," he agreed. "Never open two fronts at the same time."

"Exactly."

Greedily, Fierm licked his lips and bent forward. "So… what secrets do they hide?"

"I found about it one year later. It nearly killed me."

"What?" he asked, gritting his teeth. He was so close; he could even smell the power…

"I'll tell you how it happened. T'Rea… ordered me killed. Back then I didn't know why she feared me - I was merely a slave. Now I know that she believed that in the future I might influence Sarek and she could lose her grip on him… and the Council seat.

"You must understand that Vulcan women are very powerful and influential. Practically they hold their men by the balls. It is the women who have the real power, and that's why T'Rea hated me.

"Sarek had never shown interest in anybody else before. Now he seemed infatuated with me, and T'Rea thought that Sarek would no longer need her services in the future…

"Anyway, she had a faithful servant, one she had brought from her household before she got married – someone who would kill for her. It was such a classic female plan, poison," Mandy's lips stretched in a trembling smile. She raised an ironic eyebrow.

"Vulcan poison... Capable of killing a Vulcan instantly. But I am Human and my body metabolized it. It didn't kill me but I was paralyzed for two days before they could discover what it was and make an antidote. And the servant who brought my food… was executed," she recalled and shivered.

"I can't say I was sorry, but… that thing Sarek did to the Romulan captain, he did it again… on that servant… and then ordered her execution. I honestly don't understand why he was so obsessed with me," she said, gazing distracted the opposite wall, as one by one all painful memories surfaced.

Fierm shifted nervously in his chair. He grew restless with her endless stupidity.

Of course and he understood why that alien dick was infatuated with Mandy's angelic image. Men of every age and rank drooled over her. Sparkling blue eyes, blonde hair, firm ass and knockers not big, but large enough to fit in his palm. And the best of all, she was natural – no plastic surgeries whatsoever. Fierm knew every bit of her body; he'd been there, done her for six years. And the last year, in order to sit in the captain's chair, he even shared her.

Seeing her now, he thought that, despite her clothes, Mandy never looked prettier or healthier. Her skin was perfect. Her hair had grown long and luxurious.

He quickly put those thoughts aside. At this moment Glory's captain was hungry for something else – knowledge and the power that went with it.

"And the secret?" he asked, trying not to sound impatient. "What is it?"

Mandy shook her head. "Sarek read the servant's mind before her execution and found out about T'Rea's plot. Terrified to face his anger, T'Rea fled their home and returned to her parents seeking her clan's protection.

"Only by doing that, she legally abandoned him and lost her seat at the Vulcan Council, which belonged to Sarek's clan. But that bitch hadn't said yet her final word. She left that bastard Sybok behind to complete her plans.

"One night he… he managed to bypass the door's circuit," Mandy recalled and took a shaky breath. "T'Rea had ordered him to maim and then kill me… She had inspired such hate for me… She had convinced her son that if Sarek divorced her he would also disown him. Luckily for me, Sybok was his father's son."

"What d'you mean?"

"He had never seen me before," Mandy explained. "He thought… before killing me… he could taste his father's kafeh." She turned her head, wringing her hands together, and gave a pained look at the sharp swords that hung from the opposite wall.

"Sarek had sent a message he would spend the night at the city due to a late Council meeting and return next day. Luckily for me, not only he finished sooner but, when he returned, he came immediately to my room."

Her lower lip began trembling again and she drew a deep breath. "I was alone with Sybok for ten minutes before his father walked in," her voice cracked. She bit her lips and squeezed her hands.

Suddenly, Mandy's expression changed, from pain to total indifference. Then she did something Fierm didn't expect; she held out her right hand, and observed each finger.

"The Vulcan term for doctor is hakausu," she said in an even voice, "but it doesn't mean doctor. Literally it means one who heals..."

Tilting her head, she looked abstracted. "Do you know Tony that Vulcans have very good doctors?" she asked in an eerie calm voice that for the first time scared the shit out of him.

Numb, he shook his head.

"Well, they do. They also have detailed records on Human anatomy. Remember our spies?" Mandy asked and Fierm, realizing what her words meant, shivered.

Over the centuries Terran intelligence had sent several of its members to spy on Vulcan. All had undergone special surgery to look like natives. But the telepathy shit was unknown – no wonder they had been caught… and studied thoroughly.

"The Healers sewed back my palm… These neurobiologists and plastic surgeons can really perform miracles," Mandy chuckled nervously. Her entire body began trembling as the narration made her relive that night's painful events.

"They put me in a special antigravity chamber for two days. It… Err… It speeds up the healing process – it's a very… functional booth. Like our agony booth, only its exact opposite," she smiled bitterly.

"The healers told Sarek that, apart from my hand, I had broken a scapula, a collarbone and… suffered a severe rectal injury which caused internal bleeding. They sent me home after subscribing 'absence' for two months...

"It took me one month to sit again. At first I thought that Sarek wouldn't want me after seeing…" Mandy wiped her tears and looked away.

"But he did… come again… He came to my room exactly after two months. He-" She paused again and looked at the sharp weapons decorating the wall.

"He-" She hesitated and took another deep breath.

"He grabbed that son of a bitch and threw him at the opposite wall. My hand was nailed on the bed, I was screaming and… don't remember much from what happened…"

She paused again for a few seconds. "Do you know Tony that Vulcan blood is green?"

Fierm blinked in surprise. "No," he admitted. "I didn't know that."

"He killed him, you know."

"Who? Who killed whom?"

"Sarek… When he saw Sybok… They had a fight; Sybok had a second knife and tried to stab him. You see, he was Sarek's only heir and everything would be his. But Sarek was stronger and he killed him - his own son! He threw him against the wall and broke his skull. Sybok's brain spread all over the room," Mandy whispered, white as a sheet.

She rubbed her fingers nervously against her sweating palms. "I never thanked them you know."

"Hmm? Who?"

"The Healers. The doctors who fixed my hand… Vulcans believe that thanking someone who's doing their job is illogical." She paused.

"Do you know Tony that Vulcans act according to what they think is logical? Their entire society… The way they behave is based on what is logical, instead of what they- they… feel."

Fierm moved on his seat uncomfortably. He didn't give a shit about Vulcan society and he didn't like the way she changed the subject from one topic to the other. "What happened, Mandy?"

She lowered her head. A single tear rolled down her cheek. "Nothing they couldn't fix."

Only that reply wasn't what Glory's captain expected. He leaned toward her. Mandy was really screwed and after living with touch-telepaths for five years and endure all this… Fierm wasn't certain her head was still on her shoulders. Chances were she was insane. Could she tell him what he needed to know?

Nervous, he ran his hand over his forehead. "And the secret?" he asked impatiently.

"After Sybok's death, T'Rea wanted revenge," Mandy whispered, looking down at the table's polished surface, lost in her memories.

"And she knew. That bitch knew what would happen. So she waited patiently… And then one day, after seven months, Sarek started to become ill."

"Ill? How?"

"At first I didn't notice anything. Sarek was always a demanding man who wanted to have everything his way. But, as the days went by, he became agitated and even became violent. During sex, he gripped me real hard; I ended up covered with bruises.

"I was worried because everybody seemed to know what was going on, except me. I asked but nobody said a word about it. I didn't know what to think. Then one morning he and a few others left the house in what seemed like an official parade.

"I watched them leaving from my window. It was almost midday when I heard noise from the other side of the door, which was always locked. Someone was breaking in! I held my breath but there was nowhere I could hide, I was terrified! I thought this time I would surely be murdered.

"The person who came in was the last person I expected to see, someone I hadn't seen since my first day on Vulcan - Sarek's clan leader, T'Pau.

"She looked at me from head to toes, and then ordered me to take off my robe and put on a dress she gave me. I had never seen a more luxurious, more ethereal fabric; it was unbelievably soft.

"I changed quickly and together we left the house in a hurry. T'Pau ahead of me was practically running. Later I found out we were racing against time. A hovercar took us and after a frantic ride we landed in a remote place outside the city.

"I knew we were in the desert, in some sort of sacred ground where ceremonies took place. There were people gathered all around. The men wore armor and carried large swords, and the women were carrying musical instruments which I recognized from my lessons. But none of them played music.

"We walked towards the party. The crowd opened and we walked among them. Everybody kept staring at me; I thought it was because they had never seen a human before. How wrong I was." Mandy sighed. "They expected us…

"We entered into a circular area, surrounded by massive stone pillars; in the middle of them was an altar.

"What I saw took my breath away. A man was lying dead on the ground and Sarek hovered above him! I've never seen a more abused corpse – the man was totally butchered. And Sarek was unlike anything I've ever seen before!

"Oh Tony! If you could see him! He was delirious; his clothes were stained and torn and he acted like a mad man! He walked to and fro and his entire body was trembling!

"In one arm he cradled a large sword like the ones hanging from the wall… In the other hand he held something that at first I believed it was a big piece of cloth. Then I realized… it was a corpse!

"Guess who it was? T'Rea, his wife; her head hung unnaturally to the side. And at that moment I knew! I knew he had broken her neck! He had killed her! But what was most scary was what she wore – a dress exactly like mine!

"I felt my legs give way. I knew I was probably next, but at that moment I didn't want to die! I didn't! Not like this! Not like her!

"Up to that moment Sarek looked as if he hadn't understood anybody's presence. He walked in circles around the torn body, mumbling something, lost in his world. But then he raised his head and sniffed into the air. Then he turned his head and looked at me! And his eyes… They were cloudy, without a single glimpse – he gave me a dark gaze… I nearly fainted!

"T'Pau saw his reaction and ordered me to go to him, but I shook my head and refused! I was so scared; a man was lying dead and it was Sarek who had literally torn him apart!

"I wanted to run, but my feet were nailed to the ground! I felt as if I couldn't move! Desperate I looked down and saw my shoes stuck in the wet sand. At first I didn't understand why, but then I realized… The sand was emerald! It was blood! Blood from the dead man! I was standing in a pool of blood… So much blood!

"Think Terrans are tough? Well, Vulcans are barbarians, Tony," she cried. "Sarek is the worst of them… And I was alone among them… and I couldn't run away…" She covered her face with her hands and burst again into loud tears.

Seeing her crying, Fierm shook his head. Mandy had surely lost it. But she would tell him what he wanted to know even if it was the last thing she ever did.

"What happened, honey?" he asked softly, trying to sound smooth.

"Sarek grabbed my arm. He started yelling at me and at others that I was his. That I belonged to him and nobody would ever take me away. He acted like crazy. Later I found that he was on the verge of death. His blood was burning because he was running a fever."

"Did he die?"

Numb, Mandy shook her head. "No, he didn't… He survived. I- I saved him."

"You? How?"

"He dragged me to a nearby cave. In the middle of the cave were several layers of blankets, forming a large bed. He threw me on that pile and tore my dress apart."

"Wait! I thought he didn't know what he was doing. What happened?"

"Nothing that had never happened before," she shrugged. "Only it was-" she sighed. "It was so violent!" Mandy exclaimed and covered her face with her hands. "The only thing I remember is being thirsty! Oh, I've been through pain, but I was so thirsty!

"I was told that we stayed in the cave for two days… It was dark, so I couldn't tell. The only thing I do know is that I didn't leave the bed, not for a single second. I lay there petrified – Sarek had already killed two people, I thought I was next! So I let him do to me everything he wanted… I couldn't resist! But Tony, I was so thirsty!

"At one point I lost consciousness. After that I don't know what happened. Only that I managed to survive. After two days he came to his senses; I don't remember that either. His family had left a hovercar outside the cave. I do remember how the bright sun hurt my eyes, as I lay in the back seat, on our way to the hospital. I don't even remember how many cracked bones I've had.

"Since that time I've been living in his house, like before. His own personal… servant," she spat out.

"And if he ever gets off planet, like now, he sends for me after a few days or weeks. Although where we are going, I don't know. I'm never told anything…"

Mandy stopped her narration, folded her hands and looked down. She appeared completely exhausted.

But Fierm, impatient as he was, decided not to take this shit any longer. Unable to hide his anger anymore, he sprang from his chair.

"And the secret? What is it?" he growled.

Her eyes flew open. "This is the secret! Vulcan's most hidden, dark secret."

"Sex in a cave? Are you fucking kidding me?"

"The fever, Tony! It's the fever! It wasn't Sarek's illness and it isn't a one time thing. Every Vulcan man after their thirties becomes ill once every three to seven years. They develop a high fever and it takes a woman to bring the fever down…" Mandy lowered her head, "by spreading her legs."

He finally realized what she meant. "Fuck!"

"Exactly. He used me… and his fever broke… He survived. And so did I."

He stood contemplating for a moment. His military mind searched frantically for the story's weakest link. "Say… What would happen if he didn't get it?"

Mandy shrugged indifferent. "Die, I guess. That is why the Vulcan head of state is always a woman. Men are fit only for the army and depend on their women for survival."

Her last words brought forth a sudden laugh. "Lysistrata would have a ball!" Mandy yelled and started laughing so intensely that Fierm observed her erratic behavior in disbelief.

Oh yea, she has totally lost it, he thought and shook his head. But what she had revealed was priceless.

Vulcan's weakness was outstanding. A species with an expiration date! An army that can fight only for a limited period of time! An enemy that can be wiped out in less than a decade! Fierm was thrilled.

This didn't simply present new opportunities. This information wouldn't only make him Admiral… He could even become…

"…emperor."

"Hmm? What's that honey?" Mandy asked and Fierm nearly jumped. He had forgotten himself and spoken out loud.

"I just thought that these are important news!" he lied quickly. "Today is a great day for the empire, Mandy. The Emperor will be thrilled with your news about our enemies. I'm sure he'll give you an enormous reward. "You might even get a private audition!"

"Do you really think so?" Her expression changed again as she smiled broadly and Fierm wondered about her stupidity. Mandy was never particularly clever. The only thing she cared about was doing her little pathetic linguistics job. Too bad her real talent was lying flat on her back.

Or on her stomach.

Hell, he would have her both ways.

He whistled amused. "You know, I might even get an award for saving you!" he smiled. "I've missed you, Mandy. The ship was… so empty without you."

"Oh, Tony! I've missed you too!" she smiled back and, sitting in her chair, reached out for him.

The couple held hands and Fierm thought it was time for the bedroom. He would fuck her now and then give her to his men. A little extra fun for the boys, before beaming back to Glory. Back to Miranda.

Mandy Grayson had died five years ago in a shuttle accident. And that was the end of it.

Suddenly, a small buzzing sound was heard. Fierm walked and opened the door. The lieutenant that stood on the other side presented a brief report.

Thirty-eight unconscious Vulcan men were already into the ship's brig. There were forty people aboard, which meant that one Vulcan was missing, perhaps hiding. Four men were searching for him. As for the ship's cargo, it was a small treasure.

Artifacts from Vulcan, large amounts of food and water, alien medical supplies, caged bear-like animals, things Terrans had never seen before.

And everything translated to money. Piles of money.

The Vulcans had lots and lots of candy. And everything was deliciously easy.

Glory's captain was more than pleased. He even felt generous.

In a quiet voice Fierm ordered his lieutenant to begin studying the ship's engineering. Maybe they would discover something interesting, similar to the Klingon cloaking mechanism.

"Give me a few hours alone with her," Fierm whispered and winked at the sturdy man. "Then she's all yours. But be careful," he warned his subordinate. "If anyone asks, I'm busy interrogating the Vulcans."

The lieutenant glanced at Mandy who sat quietly at the table and smirked at the promise of some extra entertainment before beaming back to their ship.

"Yes, sir," he nodded, taking a step back.

The door closed again with a whisking sound. Behind him, Fierm heard Mandy rising from her seat.

It's party time, he thought with a smirk, activated the door's lock and turned around.

"Listen Mandy, I've been thinking- AARGH!" Α scream followed by a choking gasp left his lips. Ηis eyes widened in surprise.

Shocked, he looked down to the cold metal spear that pierced his chest.

But colder than the steel, were the eyes of the woman facing him.

Menacing and sinister she now stood before him, a person Fierm had never seen before.

"My name," she said in a threatening tone, "is Amanda!"
.
Chapter 2: …who is evilest of them all?

He stumbled and reached for his phaser. But his fingers refused to obey. His phaser slipped and fell to the floor.

Desperate, he reached for the door's button. But felt his legs give way. His body stumbled and he collapsed.

Panicked, he attempted to grab the communicator from his belt. But it was useless. He did not command his hands any more.

Crawling on his elbows, he managed to reach the couch. If he could use it to stand on his feet again… He could get her – he was stronger…

She observed him quietly, like a cat watching a canary.

When exhausted and panting he quit the effort and sat on the floor with his back against the couch, she gave him a wicked smile.

"Although it is only a poor resemblance," she purred, "try to imagine what it feels like laying on a bed like this for two days. Being completely unable to do anything else but breathe."

She approached him walking lightly on her toes, in fluid movement, without making a single sound. "Sarek stood by my bedside the whole time. On the second day he even dropped artificial tears into my eyes.

"Like it?" she smiled, showing him the silver-colored crossbow she held.

"He gave it to me. A gift for our first wedding anniversary. Quite handy, isn't it? Vulcan steel, you see; light as a feather. Oh! The poisonous spear? That is my own personal touch," she said, with a broad contented smile.

"T'Rea was quite a resourceful opponent… But now she's dead," her eyes flashed with venomous hate. "Like you soon will be."

"Bi- Bitch!" he managed to spit out. "You married an alien dick? You fucking whore!"

"My dear Tony," came her sarcastic reply, "Sarek's so much more than a dick!" Ignoring the chairs, she sat on the table facing him. "An impressive dick, nevertheless…" she raised a teasing eyebrow, "but he is so much more than that."

He gathered all his strength. He had to warn his men, his crew, someone! And she was the only way… "Man-Mandy, listen to me-"

"I already told you to call me Amanda!"

"Amanda… sorry... listen… listen to me. I'll make you rich; I'll give you everything you want-"

"Really? Like what?" she laughed. "Money? Wealth? Sarek is richer than you'll ever be, even if you robbed a thousand ships. Power? He's second in command of the Vulcan army. Sex? He makes me come just by thinking of me. Really, what can you offer, Tonino?"

His mind was working frantically. The situation was not that bad, though he had to get back to his ship immediately. There was an antidote; the Vulcans had fixed it, which meant that their doctor could fix it too. The wound was serious but only if left untreated.

Trying to remain calm, he looked down on the floor. The carpet was soaked but he couldn't feel it. He saw only… red. Did all that blood come from him?

With a pang, Glory's captain realized he had to plead. And for the first time in his life, he did.

"Amanda… I beg you. We were together for six years. Don't tell me they meant nothing to you. I love y-"

"Filthy bastard, you don't even know the meaning of that word!" she yelled with such hostility, her face was distorted and he barely managed to recognise her voice.

Immediately he looked at the door. Surely someone had heard her! Any minute now his men would break in and slice her treacherous throat-

"What?" she asked ironically. "Don't tell me you expect your thugs to burst in and save your pathetic ass? Don't bother, the room is soundproof."

Hearing that, Fierm's heart plunged. He fucked her for six years, he though he knew her. Who was that woman?

"Now, Tonino," Amanda clasped her hands, "what a dilemma we have here! Let me see. On one side there is you, a low-paid imperial captain, who would sell his own mother to get what he wants, and who's dying.

"On the other side there is him; a high-ranked general from a noble family, who is filthy rich. Oh, and let's not forget." With a swift move she jumped from the table. "HE doesn't like sharing! Asshole!"

"Wha- What are you talking about? I lov-"

"I'm talking about Pleawick, you fucking prick!" Uttering that hateful name, her blue eyes flashed a furious blaze, and his breath was caught on his throat.

"Pleawick who?" he asked in an attempt to distract her - there was no way she could have known... "What are you saying?"

"Oh, as if you don't remember such a big promotion," Amanda sneered. Turning away, she clasped her hands behind her back and started pacing the room.

"You know Tony, when we first met back at the Academy I knew you were a first-class opportunistic alpha male. You wanted to rise high and I thought that, if I stood by your side, I would be safe.

"You were ambitious enough and wanted to draw everybody's attention when entering into a room. Your chauvinistic dick didn't take crap from anyone, and I thought that protection would extend to your woman too.

"So I said to myself; he's young and not that bad looking. I'll spend four years in the Academy and another five in space and at least I'll be safe. All I have to do is look like all the other women, pretty and naïve.

"Once our mission ended I planned to throw another bimbo in your bed. Having been left heartbroken, I couldn't stand working with you.

"Naturally, I would resign and return to Terra. That would be the end of Mandy, the lieutenant's woman. As for Mrs. Amanda Grayson, she could easily find a teaching position in an elementary school back home. Serving one term on a starship would be quite an addition to my CV, not to mention the money.

"I would spend the next year or so trying to scrub from my skin all your filth, and then I would find myself a quiet moron to marry, and perhaps raise a couple of brats.

"But no! I was wrong! You didn't simply want to rise high; you also wanted to rise quickly. So quickly, you were willing to sacrifice anyone and anything to get what you wanted. Including me!"

"I never-" he cried in protest, before she cut him.

"Don't bother!" she shouted back. "I'd installed a hidden camera in our bedroom and I had a rape kit! Every morning for six years I checked myself and I was clean! And then one morning, guess what! I was not!"

"No, you're wrong-" he said, but she took two quick steps and stood right above him.

"Do you know how I felt?" she asked furiously, hitting his face with her fists.

"Watching the holovid?" Another punch.

"Watching you open the bedroom's door to that filthy pervert?" Another punch.

"Watching him take my gown off while I was sleeping?" Another punch.

"Watching him take a stimulant to get his dick up?" Another punch.

"I... Was... Angry!" She emphasized each word with the hardest hits she could deliver.

Then panting, she took a step in the back so as to admire her handwork that lay on the same spot. His face was bruised and there was blood running from his cut left eyebrow, nose and mouth.

"But now I feel better," Amanda smiled and panting, she sat on a chair. "Oh, yea… much better.

"You know, Tony… You were dead the moment you stepped inside this room. Hell," she laughed, "you were dead the moment Pleawick stepped inside our bedroom. I was gonna kill you and make it look like an accident.

"After you passed me on to that asshole, I knew it was only a matter of time before you'd do it again. Sooner or later you'd find me expendable and my lifeline would shrink dramatically. That is why I offered to join the rest of the group for the Romulan raid. I was gonna approach each of the men to see which one was willing to help me stab something sharp in your back.

"The Vulcans postponed my plan indefinitely… Or at least that's what I believed. When you walked inside this room, I couldn't believe my good fortune," stretching her arms, she smiled wickedly, "or your bad luck. Depends on which side you're standing. I bet you didn't know you were living on borrowed time, huh?" She gave him a cunning wink and Fierm fumed.

Frustrated and feeling totally helpless, he let out an angry roar. The spear in his chest was killing him. The wound was fatal and he knew he had to return to Glory's sickbay as soon as possible.

"Stop growling," Amanda moaned. "Can't you take it like a man, for once in your pathetic life? You lived inside shit; can't you just find the courage to die with dignity? Oh, well," she snorted, "I guess it's a little late now, trying to learn new words."

Accepting the fact that he had to plead once more, he grinded his teeth. "I'm dying… Please-"

"You should be grateful you're dying now," she cut him, without the smallest hint of remorse in her voice. "Sarek's ship left Romulus five minutes after you attacked us. I notified him; it's a mental bond between married couples. Vulcan stuff, you wouldn't understand.

"The fact is they'll arrive soon. And trust me Tony; you don't want to keep on breathing once Sarek gets here. He knows all about us and about that filthy satyr. Hmmm, I wonder what he'd do to Pleawick, if he ever gets his hands on him…"

Although he was seriously wounded and almost entirely paralyzed, his mind was still working. He decided to appeal to her Terran egoism. "An alien? How could you?"

"And why not? He's got balls, like any other man. And in case you've forgotten, I'm not his whore. I'm his wife."

"He's an alien, Mandy. They're our enemies! You're not one of them. And you'll never be."

"Are you lecturing me, Tony? Screw you! I did what I had to do to survive. You'd do the same – if not worse. Besides," she smirked, "we are enemies now. But isn't it simply semantics? Today we're enemies, tomorrow… who knows?"

"The Empire will never negotiate with those devils. We'll bring them to their knees before they manage to say 'hail' to the Emperor."

"Oh, I'm not so sure about that," Amanda smirked. "Do you know what the political disagreement between T'Pau and T'Rea was? Ha! You'll be surprised.

"T'Rea was thinking just like you. She believed that, due to our many differences, war between Terra and Vulcan was inevitable, and because of that, Romulus was too dangerous to be left out of this. Do you wanna know why?" Sitting comfortably on the chair, she stretched her legs.

"To make the long story short, centuries ago one of Sarek's ancestors won a major battle. But he didn't kill the defeated enemy soldiers, as was the custom. See, he too had lost many men and had to replace them.

"So, what the fox did instead is that he tried to take their leader on his side, by presenting that decision as a 'logical argument'. The two men's dialogue was immortalized by Vulcan historians and every form of artwork, from paintings, to statues, to poems.

"The conqueror's name was Surak. This ship, where you'll die, is named after him. Guess what happened next! The 'logical argument', which means presenting in a conversation logical arguments, turned out to be a major success for his clan that other clans soon adopted.

"Surak's actions literally changed Vulcan history. Surak himself became the most powerful Vulcan warlord and clan leader; his victories in battlefields were soon equalized by his diplomatic conquests.

"Seeing the benefits of logic and unification, everybody accepted that new philosophy. Those who didn't soon became a minority and perished from the face of the planet.

"What followed was Vulcan's golden age. Economic growth led to revival of arts, literature, sciences. That was when Vulcan philosophers began experimenting with logic, its components and its variables."

She paused and for a moment observed him lying immobile on the floor. "Are you listening to me? You haven't died yet, have you?"

"Bite me," he growled.

Amanda raised her eyes to the ceiling, pretending she was shocked. "Tsk, tsk, tsk. What a language. You know, Sarek during sex says the same thing. Hmmm, I wonder…"

She let out a small chuckle before continuing. "Okay, here's the best part.

"At that time, another Vulcan philosopher developed a principle known as Kol-Ut-Shan, Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations. In short, IDIC or idiocy as I call it. A celebration of our differences. Cool, huh? When Sarek first explained to me that principle I almost laughed until I realized I owned it my life. Ironic, isn't it?

"Anyway, that philosopher managed to gather around him a small group of followers but the majority of the population, fearing for their species purity and loss of strength, decided to eradicate them as a threat.

"That was when the 'Romulans', as that group called themselves, decided to leave Vulcan and swore never to return, unless the tide changed and the rest of the planet accepted their principles and fully embrace unification.

"So far Romulans, like their Vulcan cousins, avoid the Empire – they are idealists, not stupid. But because of their philosophy, Vulcans fear that Romulans might approach Terra first, which risks revelation of Vulcan secrets to Terra. Biology secrets, if you get my meaning. Merely that thought keeps every Vulcan awake at nights.

"Hence the different opinions, and the clash!" Amused Amanda clasped her hands. "T'Rea tried to convince Sarek and the Council about the necessity of a Vulcan attack on Romulus. Something quick and…" she raised a suggestive eyebrow, "massive, if you catch my point.

"T'Pau on the other hand, after centuries of separation, wanted to write her name in every history book as the first leader who initiated peace.

"Besides, what will happen if just one Romulan survives and joins the Empire? The Vulcans would be doomed; that would be their end.

"T'Pau observed how Terrans think, through our captured spies. She also knows that the Emperor will stop at nothing to get what he wants. She might stop Terran spies once, twice, but not for ever. And unlike you or T'Rea who saw only until the next war, T'Pau sees ahead, far, far ahead.

"She envisions something that is currently unthinkable, even to the logical Vulcans; a peace agreement between Vulcan and the Empire. She sees a future where Terrans and Vulcans will explore space together. You know… the vast, dangerous space you used to work while you were still alive?" Her voice was filled with irony.

"T'Pau's plan is simple. To her people she will promise peace and prosperity. To the Emperor, she'll claim Terrans could use Vulcans. They are stronger, quicker and perhaps more ruthless.

"Of course she'll present it in a way the Emperor thinks Terrans will have the upper hand. But one of the things T'Pau taught me is that politics is like sex." Amanda smiled amused. "As long as the job gets done, does it really matter who's on top?

"The problem was that she lacked the reason, an excuse to reveal her intentions to the High Council. You see, she is very powerful but, for something this big, even the powerful T'Pau needed allies within the notorious Vulcan Council.

"Sarek's wife wasn't much help. Neither was our policy of sending one spy after another. Right now things are… shall we say, not so friendly between us? Vulcans know Terrans only through our spies… Not the finest choirboys in the congregation.

"At that time, guess who walked in the picture? Me! An original Terran specimen. And I didn't go to the planet as a spy; I simply was in the wrong place, the wrong time. Poor, innocent Amanda.

"Sarek would kill me like the others, only he was curious. And after having me," she smirked, "not only he liked how I taste, but he can't get enough of me.

"A slave is a slave and at first I was no more than that. I guess Sarek hadn't thought of anything else either. He believed that he could continue sleeping with me, and do T'Rea once in every seven years.

"The turning point was Sarek's fever - everything changed that day. That bitch refused to save his life and called for a champion to defend her. That was her last mistake; Sarek literally tore him apart. First him, and then her.

"The people who observed the ceremony were shocked by the course of events. A Vulcan man during the fever usually takes his woman, no questions asked. But Sarek after his victory, instead of taking T'Rea to the caves, broke her neck in front of everybody.

"By doing that, he was doomed. His family realized that and considered killing him to spare him the agonizing pain. You see, in his madness, he didn't let anyone approach him, including any woman.

"On the other hand, they tried to think of something - anything - to save him. He's Vulcan army's second in command and losing him was practically out of the question.

"That was when T'Pau had an ingenious idea. She thought of me, Sarek's kafeh. Not only her idea worked, and Sarek lived, but he also claimed me in front of everybody. Sort of a… public announcement, let's say.

"After that, things went their way. T'Pau became my best ally. Since that day she shows me favoritism and encourages sympathy for the poor, weak Human slave that saved the great general's life. She is using me to turn the tide.

"With T'Rea out of both our ways, T'Pau managed to convince the Council to secretly start peace negotiations with Romulus. That's where Sarek's been. You see, after he began fucking me, he became the very personification of IDIC."

Hearing hew own words, Amanda laughed amused. "You're looking at Terra's first unofficial ambassador on Vulcan!

"Isn't it funny, how something as idiot as IDIC, not only saved my ass, but also made me very rich? Not to mention that Sarek is a hell of a stud. I got two out of two!

"Anyway, Sarek is no longer a high ranked military commander. He's Vulcan's first ever ambassador to Romulus, responsible for the unification project. After that, watch it Terra. Here we come!" she sang in a playful tone.

"T'Pau likes me and she'll continue liking me, as long as I serve her plans. You see, I'm not a threat like T'Rea. As an outworlder I can't resume a seat in their precious Council. She even passed a vote that allowed our marriage and I moved in Sarek's master bedroom," Amanda concluded and rose from her seat.

Fierm smiled mockingly. "So everything you said about your sufferings was a lie. I should expect that from a traitor."

Amanda snorted. "Do you honestly believe that I made up all of this? Even the-" Refusing to utter the word, she bit her bottom lip so hard she almost drew blood. "Are you this dumb?"

She shook her head in wonder. "Well, I guess if you lived with lies all your life, you can't understand the truth, even if it hits you right in the face. Everything was true, Tony. The trick is I didn't tell you everything."

Amanda pursed her lips and suddenly her expression became serious. "They say a little confession is good for the soul. Although you are far from the confessor type of guy…" She gave him a hard look and leaned on the table.

"I really haven't spoken with anybody else for five years, Tony. And I suppose you'll die soon." she said with a deep sigh, before continue her narrate.

"First time Sarek tied me on his bed, I lay there petrified. After the massacre I had witnessed on the Romulan ship, my mind buzzed with stories of carnivorous, blood-sucking aliens we are taught at school.

"When Sarek began studying and fondling my body, I could tell he was curious. I just lay on the bed covered in sweat, while he fingered me.

"Even now, thinking about that day turns me on... Sarek's fingers, like his dick, are a real work of art. What happened next caught us both by total surprise, when we realized his touch made me horny…

"My lust triggered his, and everything else came naturally. I came so unbelievably hard, I almost blacked out. The crew heard me screaming and thought Sarek had killed me. That's why our room is always soundproofed.

"Can you imagine my shock, when I realized an alien fucked me like none of my cocky Terran lovers had? Everything I had been taught until that time, hate, Terran supremacy, flew out of the window.

"That was when Sarek took a big risk. Slowly, he untied my hands first and then my legs. He watched me like a hawk the whole time, to see what my reaction would be. I knew that had I given him an excuse, even the slightest, he would have broken my neck without a second thought."

She took a step forward. Her gaze hardened as she stood determined in front of her former lover. "I never gave him that excuse. And he never tied or forced me after that.

"But that doesn't mean things are easy. Vulcans… don't express emotions. Do you know what it feels like, living among people who don't smile, don't laugh and don't cry? People who are impossible to understand what they think?

"And Sarek…" She took a deep breath. "He is a difficult, very difficult man to live with," Amanda confessed. "It's always his way, or no way. And to make matters worse, he doesn't know me only by the waist down, like you. I could fool you, but him…" she sighed.

"It is impossible to trick or fool Sarek. As a touch-telepath, he knows my thoughts. But he does want me, despite of knowing my true self." Her hands sensually caressed her curves. "And at the end of each day, he is just a man with needs... Like you are... or should I say were?"

He shook his head in disbelief, determined to hurt her like she hurt him.

"That will never happen," Fierm said, in words that dripped poisonous hate. "Even if the Emperor decides to begin negotiations with them it might take years, even decades to establish official diplomatic relationships. You'll be dead by then."

"Don't you think I know that, Sherlock?" She rolled her eyes. "Sometimes you're such an idiot," Amanda sighed and walked towards the replicator. She pressed a button and a small part of the wall opened to reveal a control panel.

Amanda pressed two more buttons on the panel and to Fierm's amazement the wall to their left split in two, revealing a round window to the outside, so large, it almost covered the entire wall.

She sat on the window's ledge. For a few moments she remained quiet, looking outside of the window. Glory drifted a few miles away.

Amanda Grayson observed her reflection in the dark glass. She looked at her face. Flawless skin, pink cheeks, thick hair, the result of a healthy diet Sarek was forcing her to follow. She observed her eyebrows, her round ears, her perfectly styled hair…

There was a time when the austere hairstyle of the woman watching her from the dark mirror would make a young, uncaring Imperial linguist burst into laughter.

Once upon a time… But not anymore. Not since the day she met the only other person who made all this necessity.

The only person who made all this… tolerable.

And Glory still drifted silently in space, calling her like a siren calls its prey…

And a feeling of nostalgia, painful and sharp like a barbwire, circled her heart.

"It must be time to change shifts," Amanda whispered, trying hard to control a choking feeling in her throat. "Do you know how my parents are?" Her voice almost broke.

Fierm, who with each passing minute felt life drained from him, saw a last opportunity.

"They are well. They never believed you were gone. They miss you and every day pray for your safe return."

"Oh, yea? What are their names?" Amanda asked, still turned away. "Liar," she smiled bitterly, looking at the ship she used to serve once upon a time. "You never asked me about them."

He let out an angry breath. Of course and he never cared about her stupid parents. He had no reason to, yet now he cursed himself. They'd left him a message after her 'accident'. If he had returned that call…

"I once tried to tell Sarek," Amanda added, "that I needed to know about my parents. Not in these words of course… but it didn't work either. Vulcans seem to take quite literally the biblical advice that when a man marries he must leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife."

She turned to face him smiling bitterly again. "See, Tony? We have more in common than you believe…" Another thought crossed her mind and this time her expression changed to sadness.

"He will outlive me, you know," Amanda continued her impulsive confession, looking vacantly at the vast black space.

"Vulcans live approximately two hundred years. One night, after our marriage, I joked about that. He was in an excellent mood… I had been very naughty you see," she smiled gloomy, "so I thought of talking advantage.

"Half serious and half funny, I told him that, when I grow old and wrinkled, he wouldn't want me any more… That he'll send me back to my parents, with a small 'thank you' note.

"I never saw him angrier – apart from the fever and the night he killed–" She bit her bottom lip again, refusing to say the name of her abuser.

"Only this time it was so much worse! I could feel his anger, right in my mind, hitting me like a hammer… He sprang from the bed like a flash. He said he'll never let me go. He accused me that all this time I never understood what I meant to him, that I never cared about him…

"Scared, I wrapped my arms around my knees and curled in a ball… I honestly believed that he'd hit me - but he didn't. Angry, he left the house, while I lay on the bed, terrified.

"I thought 'this is it'. Sarek had never been angry with me before. I spent the next day dreading his return, constantly thinking of the Romulan captain and the servant who were tortured to death…

"When he returned next evening, he walked inside our room without saying a single word. He grabbed me by the arm and dragged me out of the house, to the hovercar. I started crying and asked him where he was taking me, but he remained silent and gave me no reply.

"Our ride didn't last long. We went to a familiar place, the city hospital. And there he handed me to the doctors… These Vulcan healers who know Human anatomy so well… And they made sure I'll never leave him…"

A deadly silence, that followed Amanda's last words, fell upon them like a heavy veil.

At this moment Fierm decided not to say anything else. He needed to keep his strength and spent the next minutes imagining his men knocking the door to present a report. He would order them to literally tear her apart. Who did that whore think she was?

So the couple waited in silence for the next five minutes… Ten, fifteen, twenty more minutes passed, then half an hour. Fierm began swearing to himself. Where were his men? He would cut down their salary in half for this-

Suddenly Amanda stirred. "Finally," she murmured, stepped down from the ledge and went to the bedroom. Fierm watched her from aside as she opened the closet and knelt down on the floor.

Oddly enough, she smiled.

"Hey," she whispered in the tenderest tone Fierm had ever heard her use. "Are you awake?"

Someone was in there! Although no reply reached his ears, Fierm knew she was talking to someone who all this time was hiding inside the closet.

"Yes, I know. But it was only for a moment and the pain is now gone, right? Don't worry, I'm here. There was one bad man but I took care of him. Hug?"

Fierm's eyes widened as two small hands appeared from inside the closet and circled her neck.

She rose carrying a toddler in her arms. The child wore a black suit that matched his raven hair and came in deep contrast with its white skin. Lying in her arms, it hid its face in Amanda's embrace.

Stunned, Fierm watched them. Amanda gently caressed the child's head with a radiant smile.

Watching her, her former lover thought that during all the time they knew each other, he had never seen her so genuinely happy. As she exited the bedroom, the child whispered something in her ear.

"Of course not!" she replied. "I made sure he can't harm us, see? He'll die soon."

As the child turned to face him, Fierm's breath was caught in his throat. Amanda had said that Vulcans had only black or brown eyes, yet the child's eyes were the bluest Fierm ever saw, with one exception… hers.

His surprise did not escape the mother's gaze.

"Yes," Amanda boasted, caressing the child's soft hair. "He is my son. Mine and his," she smiled and pressed a gentle kiss on the child's cheek. "The bad people gave us a headache but now we are fine, aren't we?"

"Abomination," Fierm spited in disgust.

Unaffected by his reaction, Amanda carefully set her son down.

"The only reason you still have your tongue inside your mouth," she said smoothly, "is because he's a baby and doesn't know that word. But I'm warning you, Tony. If you repeat this once more, your tongue won't be the only part of your face you'll be looking for."

The little child stood a few feet away and watched curiously the strange man that lay on the floor, in a small pool of alien red blood.

His mother knelt between them to make the introductions. "Tony, this is Spock. Spock, this is a dead man."

"Bitch," Fierm swore under his breath but Amanda ignored him completely.

"See? He's angry, because he's weak and harmless," she smiled reassuringly to the child, straightened his clothes and gave him another kiss on the cheek. "I took care of him. Don't worry, baby. I'm here, Mommy's always here. And sa-mekh will soon join us. Would you like to play until he arrives?"

The child nodded. "Okay, I'll get your cubes. Don't come near him and stain your clothes."

Amanda returned to the bedroom while Spock observed the strange alien man who lay helpless against the couch.

Apart from the sparkling blue eyes, the child's face bore no other resemblance to Amanda. As they sat on the floor, looking silently at each other, Fierm realized something.

The kid didn't smile. It didn't cry either – in fact its face was an empty neutral mask, clear from every hint of emotion, except perhaps a touch of curiosity.

"Here they are," Amanda returned, carrying a wooden box. "Lots of wehk-vla to shape them in any way you want," she smiled and placed the box on the floor in front of her son.

Fierm gathered all his strength for what he knew might have been his last attempt.

"Mandy, listen…" he murmured weakly. "I'm sorry for what you've been through, I really am… I know I can't make amends, but… listen to me. Here's what I propose… I'll help you, you and your kid... I'll hide you both… In a colony, close to Terra. And he'll never find you… Both… you'll be safe... I swear… I swear…"

His words fade out as slowly but steady the last of his strength was abandoning him.

At first Amanda didn't reply. For a few moments she just stood there, observing her small child that sat quietly on the floor, shaping a complex polyhedron.

Despite the room's heat, she put her arms around her, as if she was cold. Then she walked and stood next to the window, her face serious and grave. Glory still continued its quiet orbit around them.

A last ray of hope shone in Fierm's eyes. Bingo! Why hadn't he thought of that before? Motherhood was universal and who knew what crap Vulcans did to their children to keep them from smiling like a normal kid?

"Wouldn't you… like to see your son… smile?" he asked, coughing blood.

The memory brought a sad smile on her face. "I have seen him smile," Amanda confessed, "when he was an infant. And no matter how much I'd love to see him smiling again… you see, my dear Tony, I would rather not see him die from the mating fever. His father's genes you see… Sarek has sworn to me, he'll make sure Spock is always safe.

"And at the end of the day… that's all it matters, isn't it? Besides," she turned toward him and tilted her head, "you're right. Now it's too late to make amends."

A noiseless white flash filled the entire window behind her. Surak shook lightly while Glory exploded in a close distance.

"Sarek's here," Amanda announced, her arms still wrapped around her. "You should have died, Tony," she said dryly, raising an indifferent eyebrow. "Don't say I didn't warn you."

She turned to her son, who was still focused on his complex puzzle. "Spock honey, sa-mekh's here."

"Ha, fai-tor nash-veh," murmured the child, without averting his gaze from his polyhedron.

"Yes, honey, I know that you know. I simply… Oh, never mind." Amanda rolled her eyes in frustration. "You and your father's logic," she moaned and sat on a chair close to Spock.

Watching the boy's creation, her face was lit up by another proud smile. "That's very impressive, honey. Well done."

"Lesek," her son replied, his attention focused entirely on his work.

Although no sound reached the room, Amanda knew that the arrival of Sarpk, her husband's military ship, had wreaked havoc at the other side of the locked door.

Naturally, she knew how the battle would evolve. After all, it was only logical.

And several more minutes passed by, until a small light flashed above the door's lock. Someone from outside was attempting to override the room's security.

Realizing she and her son had only seconds alone, Amanda spread her arms in an embrace. "Spock, come here."

The little child obediently rose to his feet and approached his mother who picked him up, sat him on her lap, and gave him a teary smile.

She placed her hand close to her son's ribs, where his small heart was beating rapidly. Mother and son looked at each other; two pairs of blue eyes sparkled like the stars around them.

"I know I don't get to say this often," she whispered in a voice drowned with emotion, "but… never forget that I love you, so very, very much. It is our little…"

The child observed his mother's expressive face with eyes older than his age.

"…tsat," Spock completed her sentence. His mother squeezed him tight and with trembling lips placed an affectionate kiss on his forehead. A small sobbing sound escaped her throat as tears from her face rolled on her son's cheek. Realising they won't be alone for much longer, she quickly wiped them away from both their faces.

Then the room's door opened and Fierm realised he'd lost the game and with that, his life.

For the first thing that entered the room, was an agonizing Human scream followed by a low-pitched death rattle.

Before the sound could fade, death stormed inside. He bore the image of a tall Vulcan man dressed in black, his eyes a pair of burning charcoals ready to consume everyone standing his way.

"We're fine!" Amanda yelled. "We're safe!" Yet before she had the chance to utter another syllable, she and her child were lost inside the man's devouring embrace.

Breathing hard, and making sure his wife and son were unharmed and within his arms, Sarek of Vulcan shut his eyes and took a moment to reestablish his control.

"Everything's fine," Amanda said in a muffling voice, trying to sound calm and reassuring. "I'd locked the door. We were safe the whole time. Spock even play-"

Her words were cut short as her husband's strong hand circled her neck.

"Did any of them touch you?" Sarek asked; his soft voice low and threatening, while his thumb gently stroked the curve of her throat.

She met his ominous, dark tone with a fearless look. "No!"

He knew she was untouched; he knew it the whole time. But smelling her scent, clean and fresh, seeing her face and hearing the words from her own lips caused him a sentiment of utter satisfaction.

Removing his hand from Amanda's throat, Sarek caressed his son's head. Spock too was unharmed. A chill crawled up Sarek's spine, flooding his entire body. Just the thought of his small son in the mercy of enemy soldiers…

Spock, feeling the large, heavy hand, and sensing an enormous wave of relief coming from their bond, was puzzled by his father's reaction. But again this was the family's first off-planet assignment; perhaps such emotional behavior was not unusual, the boy thought and, instead of commented it, he savoured the rare, paternal caress.

Then the Vulcan warrior sniffed. An enemy.

Even if Sarek hadn't seen him with his peripheral vision, the repulsive smell of human sweat mixed with red blood would be enough to track him down.

His pitch black eyes turned to the man who laid on the floor, the man who had threatened the ones who belonged to him.

Meeting the Vulcan's ebony gaze Fierm realised Amanda was right – where was death when you prayed for him?

"Did you touch she who belongs to me?" Sarek asked, hovering above the paralysed man.

A terrified Fierm barely managed to shook his head. "I swear… I didn't lay a hand… on her…"

"That remains to be seen," Sarek replied coldly, throwing him a dark look. Fierm felt the hairs on the back of his neck rise.

Another Vulcan man, dressed in military uniform, stood at the door. The Human corpse he held in his right hand, was still shaking from post-mortem spasms. With a steady hand, he pointed at Fierm.

"Osu, the enemy soldiers identify this Human as the leader."

"Indeed."

Fierm let out a gasp as Sarek grabbed him by the throat and lifted him so they were eye to eye.

"Sarek!" Amanda's firm voice held her husband's hand like an invisible force. "Not in front of Spock."

Sarek tilted his head. Amanda's request was logical. Spock was quite young; a scream had a 72 percent probability of affecting his hearing.

Not releasing the Human from his tight grip, he gave his wife a neutral look. "Then take him to the bedroom," Sarek replied, his austere voice in perfect sync with his authoritarian personality.

Spock sank in her embrace and Amanda hugged him tightly. She threw one last contemptuous look at the man lying on the floor, the man who resembled her last link with her past.

Then she adjusted her son in her embrace, turned and walked to the bedroom, where there was a smaller replicator. It was time for Spock's meal. And her son, like his father, didn't like his schedule interrupted.

When the door closed behind them, Sarek draw his prisoner closer. They were so close that Fierm felt the Vulcan's hot breath on his face.

"You. Touched she who is mine."

Fierm's eyes widened in fear. "N-no," he barely managed to reply in a hoarse voice.

"Yes," Sarek said, and through their physical contact sent to the rival male a mental image. Fierm and Amanda, sitting on the table, holding hands.

"But…but… that is nothing," Fierm stuttered because he knew these were his final words. "Nothing!" The pure terror made his voice reach an unusually high-pitched, strangled cry.

Only this reply infuriated the Vulcan.

"Nothing?" Enraged, Sarek gnashed his teeth - his two eyes, an endless ebony abyss.

"Nobody touches she who is mine," Sarek declared, and Fierm screamed as a full mental assault crashed into his defenceless consciousness.

He stopped screaming when Sarek first broke his jaw, and then crushed his throat.

Disgusted by the smelly red blood, Sarek tossed the lifeless body aside and turned to his ot-lan who all this time waited patiently in the doorway.

"Clean this filth," Sarek ordered and took a moment to compose himself. He walked to the bedroom but, before opening the door, a thought held him.

"Did we suffer any casualties?"

"No, ambassador. All our men are well."

"Excellent," Sarek nodded. Ambassador. It would take some time to get used to it.

"Osu," the ot-lan hesitated, "there are a few Human survivors. What shall we do with them?"

"They are enemies," Sarek stated, "and we must follow the regulation. Take no prisoners."

"Yes osu," the ot-lan bowed his head in obedience.

Sarek opened the bedroom door and stepped inside. Spock was sitting on a chair, drinking his juice. Amanda turned towards him.

It is over; Sarek communicated through their bond and felt her gratitude envelop him.

Thank you my love, Amanda sent back, summoning what she knew was her sweetest smile. Only her Vulcan husband wasn't affected the slightest.

Do not smile in front of Spock! Sarek raised a reproving eyebrow and Amanda tensed at the sharp mental reprimand.

She lowered her head. The smile disappeared from her lips; it was replaced by a carefully practiced unemotional mask.

It began the day Spock was born. Sarek, who until that day always enjoyed her emotionalism, forbade her to express any emotions in the presence of their child. Spock was to be raised like a pure-blooded Vulcan, and that was nonnegotiable.

Facing a battle she had no chance of winning, Amanda sat obediently on a chair opposite her son. Folding her hands, she looked down. The marital bond she and her husband shared was overflowed by a wave of sadness.

Sarek's expression remained unchanged. Yet sensing his wife's sorrow stroked a chord deep down his severe heart.

Displeasing one's bondmate was not only unproductive, but also dangerous to one's health. It could even become… lethal.

Like in a fog, he recalled the burning pain that devoured him as he faced T'Rea's challenger after her betrayal. For a proud warrior, it was a disconcerting… uneasy thought.

No, he couldn't afford to sadden Amanda. She wasn't only loyal and mother to his heir – she was also a most pleasant bondmate.

He swept her with a warm feeling of affection, a heart-warming sentiment his Human wife had never known before they met.

Later, Sarek conveyed through their bond, when we will be alone. Later, adun'a.

Amanda looked at him with her alien blue eyes she knew her husband secretly worshiped. She raised her head and straightened her back. She could do this, she was strong… She had to be strong… For Spock.

Her lips stopped trembling and she took a deep breath. Determined, she nodded.

Sarek watched her efforts with satisfaction. He sent her a feeling of approval and walked to the bathroom. With hasty moves he took off his clothes and, unable to hide his disgust, threw them in the cloth refresher.

Then he walked into the shower to wash off that revolting mix of human sweat and blood. He needed to remove from his body the disturbing smell that surrounded him because it brought back a sickening memory… of the day Spock was born.

The hospital's healers were handsomely paid. And Sarek of Vulcan did everything within his power so that nobody would reveal details of his newborn son.

How the infant, upon his birth, looked so… human.

Covered in Amanda's red blood. Watching his father with those large blue eyes.

Causing to Sarek, who had specifically requested the child to resemble nothing less than a full-blooded Vulcan, a severe shock.

He pushed the unpleasant memory away from his thoughts and stepped out of the shower.

Putting on his robe, Sarek watched his reflection in the mirror. His image watched him back; severe and unyielding as always. Even now, five years later, he was still amazed how an alien female caused him such an internal turmoil.

It was five years ago that he took a decision that even amazed himself.

When he took for the first time in his bed an alien female, Sarek never anticipated how she would change the course of his life.

But Amanda had proved both worthy and willing. And she had served him well during his Time. In fact, after T'Rea's betrayal, no member from his clan expected him to emerge, not merely alive, but served so well. Sarek could indulge himself with an emotional bondmate.

But in regards to his offspring and sole heir… Sarek was unwilling to make even the slightest concession. This time he wouldn't make the same mistake as he did with Sybok. He would personally supervise Spock's upbringing.

They were fortunate Spock had his blood. As for the eyes…

His small son had remained away from the public eye for the first two years of his life. But now with all the attention focused on them…

Sarek lifted the mirror, revealing a hidden cabinet behind it. Among packages and bottles of various sizes, he selected a small vial, closed the mirror and returned to the bedroom.

Spock had just finished his meal and Amanda set his plate aside.

"Are you hungry?" she asked. "Would you like me to prepare you something?" Sarek shook his head in refusal and sat on a chair opposite the room's large mirror.

"Approach, sa-fu." Sarek raised the small vial he held. "Do you know what this is?"

His son nodded. "Ko-mekh told me."

"The healers made them. You will wear these during the day. Before going to sleep you will remove them, yes?"

"Yes, sa-mekh."

"Did you have the opportunity to put them on?"

"No, sa-mekh. My head hurt and ko-mekh put me to sleep in the closet."

Although Sarek's expression remained neutral, his vision darkened. His sole heir was so close to being harmed… He looked at his adun'a. Amanda's lips twitched and Sarek sent her a feeling of gratitude. Standing behind Spock, she smiled shyly at her husband and gave him a small wink.

Sarek turned his attention back to his son. "That is acceptable. We will make the necessary repairs and return to Romulus. There we will spend the next five years. Our family is being given an assignment by the High Council. It is a great honor, Spock."

"Yes, sa-mekh."

"When we arrive at Romulus, our family will be constantly under the spotlight. Our clan represents Vulcan's best. Our behavior must be exemplary. This," he pointed at the vial, "is important. At first your ko-mekh and I will help you wear them. In time you will do it yourself. Come."

Sarek sat his son on his lap and together they faced the mirror.

Only a small twitch in Amanda's lips betrayed her displeasure. Under her saddened gaze, Sarek opened the vial.

"To touch them, I have cleaned my hands," he said. "You will do the same. Now, hold still."

And Spock remained perfectly still, while his father helped him wore for the first time his black colored contact lenses.

When Sarek finished, Spock observed his reflection in the mirror. After blinking a few times, the little child marvelled at how his image was dramatically altered by something this trivial.

"Wow!"

His father watched amused his son's emotional reaction. Feeling grateful his family was unharmed, Sarek caressed Spock's head and decided only this once to spare his son another lecture on control.

Instead he formed the ozh'esta with his index and middle fingers and extended his right hand to his adun'a.

Only Amanda didn't watch him. She stared at Spock with a melancholic look in her eyes. At that moment she knew she had lost a little more of her son.

Dissatisfied he didn't have his wife's full attention, Sarek sent her a mental tingle through their bond.

?

Amanda, sensing Sarek's question, blinked. She turned to face her husband who waited… for what?

Her eyes fell on his hand, forming the ozh'esta, waiting to join hers in a finger embrace, a rare public Vulcan sign of affection.

She almost sighed.

Sometimes she missed it. The Human Hug.

Sarek almost never touched her in the presence of others. In the rare occasions he did, he offered her only his two fingers, as if on the edge of these fingertips could fit all the passion he showed her behind closed doors, in the privacy of their bedchamber.

Yet, somehow all this passion, all their lovemaking couldn't make for the simplicity, the naturalness of a hug.

Yes, she definitely missed it.

But the ozh'esta had to suffice.

Amanda joined two fingers and reached for her husband's hand.

For the first couple of seconds their touch was like a warm feeling, which almost immediately exploded into a spontaneous blaze. It spread from her hand, flamed her entire body, face, hands, feet, until it nestled between her legs, setting her loins on fire.

Well, if she had to be frank with herself, this was… quite a compensation.

She rose from her chair and sat next to her husband, when a thought came to her. Something she said earlier to a dead man, a conversation she had once had with T'Pau, her best ally in her husband's world.

"As long as the job gets done, it doesn't matter who's on top." T'Pau taught her that.

And yet, her spirit rebelled. She didn't want to give up. She refused to give up. Not everything. Not Spock.

Without breaking the ozh'esta, with her other hand she reached out to her small son, who sat on his father's lap. She caressed his hair, his small back, she straightened his clothes.

A claim, sorts of. Human in its expression. Human in its need.

She could practically feel Sarek's sharp gaze. Her husband was following her every move, watching her like a wild predator from his desert home world.

He was fully aware of her claim. Yet, he did not comment it.

An unspoken agreement. Vulcan in its silence. Vulcan in its unison.

Their small son was still observing his mirror image, totally oblivious to the voiceless rebalancing of powers that took place behind his back.

"Sa-mekh!" Spock exclaimed. "This is fascinating! We look alike!"

Unable to hide his pride, Sarek observed his family's mirror image.

His wife, sitting next to him, was watching their son, trying to suppress a smile. Unable to hide her emotions for the boy. Yet she remained loyal. Willing to serve him, willing to save him, willing to please him. And in the process please herself.

And his son. His heir. An heir he would shape in his own image. This time Sarek wouldn't make the same mistakes.

As the couple sat next to each other, their eyes met through the mirror. Satisfied, Sarek laid a heavy hand on Spock's shoulder – as heavy as their legacy.

"Of course we are," Sarek replied. "We are S'chn T'gai. We are Vulcan's finest."
.
The end.

 

Vulcan words (from the Vulcan Language Dictionary - VLD)
Kafeh: slave
Masu: water
Hakausu: healer
Sa-mekh: father
Wehk-vla: polygon
Ha, fai-tor nash-veh: Yes, I know
Lesek: thank you
Sarpk: a famous ka'athyra (harp) maker
Tsat: secret
Osu: lord
Ot-lan: Lieutenant
Sa-fu: son
Ko-mekh: mother
adun'a: wife
ozh'esta: finger embrace