Prince James Tiberius was in a crappy mood. He’d been cooped up in his family’s home for days on end without any end in sight. Or so it had seemed. He was finally going to get to go out into the fresh air and beautiful mountains near his home yesterday when a storm came in and he couldn’t go out after all.
With his brother, George Samuel, currently in charge as their parents were off planet, Prince James’ freedom was even more restricted.
He peered outside his bedroom door to see that the guard Sam—as his brother was known—had arranged to watch him, stood outside like he needed to be kept cooped up in the room.
“Keenser, what are you doing?” he asked the guard.
Keenser, a rather small but deadly alien who rarely spoke and never told him what he was, stared at him. “Stay put.”
The stare continued, but then Keenser shrugged. “Your brother meets with outsiders. His orders.”
Prince James closed the door and went back into his room. But he was hardly defeated. He went to the window and looked out. The day was beautiful and full of sunshine. He should be out in it. He flung open the window and looked down. His room was three stories up, but he’d spent days fashioning a rope that should do the trick.
And if it didn’t? He’d die trying he guessed.
He dressed quickly in the casual clothes he’d hidden from everyone. He wasn’t supposed to have them, but he’d bought them one day from a peddler. Then he grabbed his rope and flung it out the window and to the ground below.
The whole time he climbed the rope down, Prince James feared discovery, but made it to the ground, his booted feet landing safely.
With a relieved smile, he ran for it, toward the forest that surrounded the palace, and beyond to the green grass covered mountains.
The minute he reached them, the place he thought of as his sanctuary, away from it all, all of them, he spun around, breathing deeply, then falling into the grass, laughing with joy.
He’d fallen asleep in the grass, on the mountain, and by the time he woke, darkness had fallen. Prince James ran as fast as he could back to the palace, not with a lot of hope that his absence wouldn’t be noticed.
Sure enough as he approached the palace, he saw a group of guards forming together, with his brother standing nearby and Keenser beside him, both looking grim.
“Here I am,” Prince James said, breathlessly.
Sam glared at him. “Where have you been?”
“I went out for some air. I fell asleep.”
“Fell asleep? We’ve been frantic!”
“I am ‘Your Royal Highness’ to you,” Sam snarled. “You know the situation here is unstable right now and you just run off. Tricking your guard. Going out the window? You could have broken your beck.”
“I didn’t though.”
“Because of sheer luck only. What are we to do with you?”
“Well…” Jim fell silent at his brother’s withering stare.
“You will be silent right now,” Sam said. “Go to your room.”
“I’m not a child, I…”
Prince James turned away and as he headed into the palace he heard, his brother say, “How can I make him stay and listen to what I have to say?”
It was hours later when Keenser told him that Prince George Samuel wanted to see him immediately.
“Come in, James,” his brother said, when he arrived. “Have a seat.”
He sat before his brother, expectantly. He wasn’t sure what his punishment would be, but he was sure it would be something. The dungeon, maybe? Attending a bunch of fetes? It could be anything.
“Listen, James, I am unsure when our parents will be returning.” George Samuel steepled his fingers together. “I’ve kept this from you, but word is they are being held prisoner in some unknown location.”
“What? Why? When were you going to tell me this?”
“There is nothing you could do having the knowledge and I felt it would be better for you to be not be told. But now…the situation here is untenable right now. And you won’t listen. I can’t keep you safe the way things are now. Our enemies are looking for any vulnerabilities in our land, in our family.”
“Our enemies? How much have you been keeping from me, Sam?”
“It was in your best interests. And so is this.”
“What? What’s in my best interest?”
“I’m sending you away, James. Off this planet and to the planet Vulcan.”
He straightened in his chair. “Vulcan? For what?”
“Prince Spock has children and he needs a tutor for them. He’s requested a human tutor due to his own mother being human. He wishes for the children to learn both human and Vulcan ways. You are perfect for this duty.”
“What?” James laughed. “But I’m a prince, not a tutor.”
Sam smiled slightly. “You are not a prince right now. You will be posing as a tutor, Jim Kirk. It’s better for you to be in hiding right now.”
“You have to trust me, James. This is the only way I know at this point to keep you safe. Vulcan is safe. And working as a tutor for Prince Spock’s children is safe.”
“Died years ago. He is a widower. Pack your bags, James. You are headed to Vulcan. You will be met by a Nyota Uhura when your shuttle lands. She is Prince Spock’s private secretary. I understand she is human as well. She will take you to the Royal Palace and get you set up.”
“Will she be aware of who I am?”
“No. I can’t risk that. I don’t trust anyone right now. You are a simple tutor, Jim Kirk.”
“Here we are, Mr. Kirk.” Ms. Uhura stood back after opening the large ornate front doors leading into the Vulcan Royal Palace.
He tried a smile, but she just gazed back at him coolly, waiting for him to go inside.
He stepped inside. Uhura followed and closed the doors.
“His Royal Highness has been informed of your arrival. I’ll go and get him. Wait here.”
Jim nodded. Watched her leave. Gazed up at the winding staircase that led to the next floor. The flowers in the design looked like gold leaf.
“Impressive,” he said, whistling.
He walked forward, noticing a door leading to another room, or so he guessed. He stepped over and eyed the jewels embedded there with a shake of his head. Definitely wealthier than his family.
He opened the door and looked inside. It appeared to be some kind of ballroom. Did Vulcans dance? His research hadn’t indicated they had, but then again, Prince Spock’s mother had been human.
Jim jumped and turned around, facing a tall, slender Vulcan dressed in elaborate black robes with a pointed collar, gold braiding, and a jeweled medallion on a chain around his neck.
“Yeah.” Jim cleared his throat. “Yes, sir.”
“I am Prince Spock. That room is not related to your employment. Please exit and close the door.”
Jim winced, but did exactly that. He had to admit that Prince Spock was insanely gorgeous.
“If you will join me over here, I will summon the children.”
Jim walked over to where Prince Spock moved to, by the foot of the stairs. “How long have they been without a tutor?”
“You will be the fourth one in the last year.”
“Wait. What? You had three others?”
Spock stared at him. “Fifth. There was another late last year that I forgot.”
Jim exhaled. “What’s wrong with them?”
Prince Spock arched his brow. “There is nothing wrong with my children, Mr. Kirk. There was something wrong with the tutors.” He paused. “Obviously.”
Jim smiled. Tried not to show how shocked he was when Prince Spock drew out another chain from within his robe, and this chain had a very thin, golden whistle on it. He couldn’t imagine what it was for.
Noticing Jim’s stare, Spock said, “I use this to call the children.”
His smile faded and he tried to ignore the headache he was developing as Spock put the whistle to his mouth and blew.