STAR TREK: The Next Generation


SUMMARY: This story begins with Sarek considering a certain Vulcan female as his future bond-mate... but the fates intervene and change both their futures.

DISCLAIMER: The Great Bird of the Galaxy created "The Universe" we play in. Paramount owns "The Universe" we play in. They will have all the monetary gain and all the headaches... we will have all the fun! Don't worry... I am just playing... I will put them back in time.

*****And many, many thanks to my Beta, Salatrel,.... whose motto is 'Spare the rod and spoil the TaskMistress....' and I like a good author sat back and waited for her pearls of wisdom.... and all the corrections.

"To Protest Against Our Nature"
By Gayle Rochefort-Potts
(c)July 2000


As the winding pathway crunched beneath his soft-soled boots, the visiting dignitary deeply inhaled the sweet fragrance of the late summer bloom. Shallow puddles dotted his pathway and prickly succulents glistened in the aftermath of a rain shower. A few reserved voices contrasted with the overall quiet of the sprawling desert garden.

This midmorning arrival would mark the ambassador's fourth visit to the sanctuary of Gol, but his first to the garden. He had not expected to be here again. He had especially not envisioned securing this particular individual's services again. The visitor considered how interesting it would be to engage her in a context other than concubine. He quickly spotted her unmistakable figure- so unlike the dark Vulcan norm.

Kareel, the meaning had never been lost on him- "winter". She suited her name with hair as white as the snow that sits atop Mount Seleya and skin as pale as one that lived without light. Even her icy reserve had served him and others well. During their "Time", he had learned much about this unique person.

This shrine like others around the planet served as a refuge from the fast paced Federation life style that Vulcan now found herself in. Kareel was one who felt at peace here away from the rest of the world. She had left her family long ago and now served here at Mount Seleya and the Masters of Gol. Her service was diverse, acting as teacher, as spiritual guide, an elder's final companion or even in the ancient capacity as concubine.

From the pathway he watched her. Wisps of snowy hair flew about as the gentle desert breeze blew. She crouched low in the garden, keeping her basket close by. Her hands easily delved into the damp soil yanking the green root from the ground. After a few quick brushings, she dropped the prize into her nearly full woven basket.

The harvesting ritual she employed was the same the world over. As her head bowed in silent prayer to the elements that provided the food, she reached into a small pouch fastened to the outside of the basket. Her slender fingers scattered the tiny seeds: a repayment to nature for the freshly harvested vegetables. Admiring her handiwork, the priestess stood up, brushed the soil from her knees then gripped the basket handle. Her brows quirked in surprise as she met the familiar figure blocking her path. Automatically, her head bowed in greeting. "Ambassador Sarek."

He returned the greeting, "Reldai Kareel."

As she lifted her head, he noted with interest that her eyes appeared different than how he had recalled them. Though they were the colour of pale sea sand, he had not remembered them to appear so... how would humans refer to them? Soulful?

She indicated the nearby stone bench then sat with him. "I had not expected you for another three years, S'haile."

Sarek caught the light amusement in her eyes. Only an adept of Gol could afford such a display. "I have come on behalf of an associate."

Kareel, taken aback, quirked her eyebrow, "It is uncommon for a male..." A fluttering of his fingers interrupted her.

"No, Reldai." His body stiffened slightly at her admonishment. "It is for another reason entirely. I have an associate who is ill and requires assistance." Sarek was pleased that her posture relaxed at this admission. "Our long service together on the Vulcan Council has strengthened our association. Challenging chess games along with equally challenging discussions of intergalactic affairs have bound us. His sudden decline has given me cause for concern. Duties permitting, I have been spending some time with him until his brother's son returns from a scheduled hiatus from Starfleet Academy. My associate is capable of caring for most his needs, however his memory is not what it used to be. Three months alone will not benefit him."

"Ambassador, are you requesting a special favour?" the amusement had returned in her tone.

He turned his body to face her. "Reldai, I am aware that I am not following the proper channels. Urgent circumstances have arisen. I have been called off world and cannot continue monitoring him. But most importantly," Sarek looked down to her gently clasped hands as he continued, "our previous encounter has lead me to believe that you are best suited to caring for my associate."

Kareel bowed her head. "It is my honour to serve, S'haile."

Anticipating her agreement and his hasty departure, a prepared Sarek reached into his sleeve and retrieved the PADDS with the directions to the residence and an amount of credits that could be spent at her discretion.

Kareel bowed her head. "I can see him today."

Sarek stood, "If you wish I can take you there. Introductions are always preferable."

Kareel nodded. "I will be free in forty-three minutes. You may wait here." She stood, collected her basket and brushed the soil that had come from the basket off the bench.

Sarek watched her departure then sat down. He noticed the others that worked in the garden; recalling the first time he had seen Kareel. Four years and an odd number of days ago, he had reluctantly come to see her. Her service had allowed his life to continue and not to end in the plak tow. During these past four years, the thought had crossed his mind more than once to ask if she would consider leaving this place, but he also felt how ingrained it was in her being. Seeing her here now only reinforced that assumption. Yes, he was certain that if anyone could make Sakev's last days comfortable, it would be Kareel.

Sarek stood when Kareel re-entered the garden. She carried a small bag, slung over her shoulder and was now wearing more formal attire. She wore a finer meditation robe in gold tones with the tabard that held the markings of her House and her position here. Acknowledging her return, he bowed his head then led the way out to his waiting aircar.


Before she had even met Sarek's associate, Kareel had known that she would accept this duty. It was her vocation to accept any who sought aid and comfort. Kareel may be one of the younger priestess of Gol, but her former life as mother and wife lent her a particular empathy for those who suffered infirmities.

Kareel had known of Sarek's associate, Sakev. He had been a vocal and effective member of the Vulcan Council for almost a century. He had looked forward to the changes that Vulcan was going through, enjoying the differing races and the diversity they had brought with them. He was tall for a Vulcan, elegant in his stature with a sense of humour that he shared with few.

Sakev's home was typical, surrounded by a small garden with a sparse variety of plant-life. The house was within the city limits of Shi'Kahr and for the first time since Kareel could remember, the desert was not within view. The rooms were large with typical Vulcan furnishings, but there were a few off-world pieces that added interest.

Through the season of Tasmeen, Kareel had served him as nurse and companion. When she had arrived in late summer, he had been feisty and bold. Now, he spent most of his days in the common room reading until he was fatigued. He would sleep for a time and then eat. He offered Kareel the use of his ka'athrya (Vulcan harp) when he discovered that she could play, he frequently entreated her. He claimed that it soothed his nerves.

Sakev cleared his throat and shifted slightly in the lounge chair, "Your playing is more skilled than Sarek's."

"I have not heard Ambassador Sarek play." Kareel sat in the near-by chair. The ka'athrya rested in her arms as she watched Sakev, her hand rested on the strings to still them. He was sleeping more these last few days and the readings on the tricorder had changed slightly but nothing that would be of concern.

"I have." Sakev stretched slightly, his body ached a little more than he cared for and he felt the fatigue creeping into his body. They had just returned from a short walk, something Kareel insisted on each day. "You are definitely better."

"It is time for end-meal. Do you have a preference?" Kareel reverently placed the ka'athrya on its stand. To Kareel, it was not merely an instrument to be utilized but an exquisite art object to be appreciated. "Do you have a preference?"

"Soup." Sakev slowly sat up then waved away her offered assistance. He eased his legs over the side of the lounging chair, then stood. "I can still manage the few steps into the dining room."

"I had no doubts." Kareel bowed her head slightly then started off ahead of him, allowing him the dignity of his slower but capable steps.

"Were there any communiqués?" Sakev wearily asked as he inched his way towards the adjoining room. "I expect my brother's son will be informing me of his arrival date." His nephew's name eluded him for the moment.

Kareel observed his progress as she prepared the vegetable soup. Sakev's health was better than one would expect at two hundred and sixty, but his abilities were limited. To prepare even this simple soup would have mentally taxed him. The short walk they took every day was the limit of his endurance and he would sleep after returning to the house, but it was enjoyed. She considered curtailing the walk but when she spoke to the Healer, it was suggested that it remain for the present. To be certain, readings were taken before and after and sent directly to the Healer's office, but there was no indication of stress.

"The only communiqués have been from Ambassador Sarek." Kareel filled the bowls then placed them on the table. "Do you wish kreyla?"

"Yes." Sakev looked up to this very young female. What is her age? When all is said and done, she was young by his standards. "You manage a great deal while I sleep, perhaps I should have slept more when my mate was with me. She would constantly comment on my interference in her day." He smiled slightly then sat back. He sighed. "I know I have asked you before but refresh my memory, why are you not bonded?"

"You have asked before. My mate died at a young age. I chose not to bond again. I waited until my child was of age to attend the VAS (Vulcan Academy of Science) and then I went to Mount Seleya." She did not object to his very personal questions, it was the privilege of age. She looked to Sakev and in a motherly tone suggested, "Eat before it cools."

He sat forward; pulled the bowl a little closer then began to enjoy the meal.. He tore off a piece of the freshly baked flat kreyla bread then dipped it into his soup. Sakev savored the spicy flavor of the soup upon the bland bread. At least his taste buds have not yet suffered from age. "Why do you serve at Gol?"

"For the same reasons that you served Vulcan. I was needed." Kareel looked to the darkening sky recalling the weather report that the winter rains would begin tonight. The planet had enjoyed a record year, nearly tripling the usual precipitation.

Sakev nodded as he continued to eat. "This is very good. I could almost believe that it was prepared by my Ayva."

Kareel stood and placed her empty bowl in the sink. "Her recipes are still in the computer terminal. I have used her cooking instructions often." She noted the look that would pass over his face when he thought of his bond mate, even though she had died over fifty years ago. It appeared that he still missed her presence. "It is a guide to your likes and dislikes."

"Logical." Sakev finished the soup and the kreyla bread. He stood and looked out into the darkening sky. "The balcony is sheltered. We will be protected from the rains. Would you care to join me?"

Kareel accepted the invitation. She placed the rest of the dishes in the sink then followed him out onto the large balcony. "You do not wish to play chess?" she asked while pulling her robes tighter about her body.

"Not tonight." Sakev stepped back from the railing edge, opting to remain dry. The sharp, cold, rain was coming onto the balcony. "Where there any communiqués today?"

"Only one from Ambassador Sarek. You read it earlier. The print-out remains on your desk." Kareel was becoming accustomed to answering repetitive questions. Sakev had also begun to loose track of the days of the week. It was to be expected.

Sakev nodded. "Yes, I remember that now." He drew in a deep breath of the damp air. There was something soothing in the rain tonight. He closed his eyes for a moment listening to the pattering of the drops. "I know you will find my brother's son agreeable company."

Kareel lifted her eyebrow and looked towards the elder. She wondered why he would have made that statement. "It will be most comforting for you to have Taurik here."

Yes, that is his name, Sakev thought. The elder looked to Kareel, with a sudden realization that when 'Taurik' arrived she would be leaving. "It would be agreeable if you remained."

Kareel tilted her head slightly, "I am honoured, S'haile Sakev, but there are other duties that I must attend to." She paused for a moment, "Perhaps I could return for only a few days in a cycle, until Cadet Taurik is comfortable in caring for you."

Sakev nodded, "I don't like this."

Kareel looked to him without asking.

"This slow incapacity. One has cared for oneself for a lifetime... and now... the body falters... the mind slows... and the eyes dim." Sakev cleared his throat then gazed out towards the desert he knows is there. "Emotions begin to tease at your control... betrays all the teachings... all the mastery."

There was silence for a long time.

"And then you begin to rattle on about nothing... while standing watching the rain." His voice faltered the last few words. He was grateful that Kareel said nothing. He did not wish to know how foolish and undisciplined he had become. "I have had enough of this rain. Time for an old man to rest."

"As you wish, S'haile Sakev." Kareel followed him in. Her duties now were to help him undress, if he needed it and to remain nearby while he used the sonics. She would obtain his sleep shirt then wait as he slipped it on. He had only needed help a few times and it was because of fatigue more than anything else.

Once he was settled for the night, Kareel showered and changed into her robes. Before her meditation, she spent time going through her v'asumi exercises. She would consider some of the events of the day, assess Sakev's condition and plan out her next day.

Her meditation time would take up most of the night. This night she listened to the rain and concentrated on the sound. She had been with many in their last moments of life. She had been with some during their illnesses or as with Sakev as their death approached and it was not an easy thing. No matter how much logic there was to the end of a life, it still was an ending.

She also considered who would be with her at her ending. Would she have someone or would there just be some other that served in this manner as she did. A robed figure that came and went; one that she would not remember due to her failing faculties. Or would she have the strength to force her own death when continuing it served no purpose?

A flash of lightning filled the room.

She moved from her meditative position with ease, even though she had been in that same position for hours and moved to the large window. The rain slapped against the clear-steele then ran down the surface. Grumbling thunder rolled over the house. She watched for only a few moments then decided to make some tea.


This day had begun as most had, and there seemed to be no reason for the incident. Readings had been taken only hours earlier and everything seemed to be normal, but while on their walk Sakev, collapsed.

Kareel called for medical assistance and Sakev was settled in his own bed without delay. The Healer Kujev had easily assessed his patient's condition and was now preparing to leave. Kujev stood in the kitchen, tapping out the instructions for the medications and any changes that should be noted.

Kareel left Sakev to rest. She ensured that he was comfortable and warm. She left the door to his room open and joined Kujev in the kitchen. She poured out a cup of tea then offered some to the healer.

Kujev waved the offer away as he continued. "I will be taking my leave." He slid the PADD over to Kareel. "These are the instructions for the medications. They are to ease the symptoms and make him comfortable. That is all that Sakev will allow." He spoke with little emotion, as was expected. Sakev had been his patient for most of his medical career and he would grieve the loss. They were amicable acquaintances, a close tie in a Vulcan's life. "You will call if help is required and continue to take readings and transmit them to my office. The body sometimes heals better in one individual than in another." Kujev picked up his bag. "There are still one or two mysteries in life."

Kareel read through the list, the instructions were very clear and she had no further questions. She escorted the Healer to the door, bowed her head and thanked him for his service. She returned to sit with Sakev for a time.

Sakev felt her presence. She was a strong individual and within his thoughts he could admit to being pleased with her company. He opened his eyes, relieved that the pain had ceased. "Kujev has gone?"

"Yes." Kareel sat in the chair she had placed at the side of his bed. "Sarek called and will be here within the hour."

Sakev sighed. "He will suggest a game of chess."

Kareel lifted her eyebrow, "I do not believe that he will insist."

Sakev closed his eyes. "Have you heard from Taurik?"

"He will be arriving in thirty hours." She had spoken to this officer for the first time earlier today, just after Sakev's collapse. Her impression of Sakev's nephew was that he was young.

Sakev nodded.

Kareel sensed that Sakev was sleeping. Kujev had stated that he would require a great deal of rest. It was his body that was failing him now. She busied herself with reading and preparing for the impending visitors.


The door chime was sounded, out of courtesy then Sarek stepped in. Kareel was in the kitchen preparing a few meals for the days that she would be away.

"He is resting?" Sarek walked through to the kitchen. He accepted the cup of tea with a single nod of his head.

"Yes." With her cup in hand, Kareel sat across from Sarek. "Healer Kujev stated that he would need a great deal of rest in the next few days."

"Then his prognosis is good."

"Yes." Kareel studied her tea for a moment. "You have been well, I trust."

"Yes." Sarek sipped on the tea. "You look well." Sarek removed his outer robe; he had not done so when he came in. "I will remain for a time if you wish to rest."

"I do not require rest." Kareel looked to the Vulcan. "Do you wish to sit in the common room?"

Sarek stood, "If you wish." He finished off his tea then left his cup with hers. "I will look in on Sakev first."

Sarek moved down the hallway and slid open the door to his old friend's room. In the time that he had been away there had been a marked difference in Sakev's physical appearance. He was frail looking in his face, and even while resting appeared to be tired. He noted that either there were thick covers over him, or that he had lost a great deal of weight and was lost in that bed.

Sarek took a moment to reflect on the length of possible time he had left. It was not a logical activity, time would not shorten or lengthen with his considerations... but he did not have much time to waste.

He moved into the room and sat across from Kareel. He noted that the chess set that he and Sakev used had not been touched since they used it last. "His health has been progressively deteriorating?"

"As it is to be expected." Kareel had tapped in a few choices and the room filled with Vulcan music. There were times when she felt very comfortable in this home. This was one of those times. "S'haile Sakev informed me of your long and honoured association."

Sarek leaned back. "Our association has served us well." He listened for a few moments to the music. "Have you attended a musical performance?"

"No. My duties do not allow for such things." Kareel tried not to stare at Sarek, "Nor do I have the finances for such events." There was nothing that she required. She was given a place to live, clothing, food and all the education she wished to delve into. She desired nothing more. "I have listened to many recordings over the years and found it to be... sufficient."

"A performance holds a flavour, a sound that cannot be captured in a mere recording." Sarek considered the matter for a moment then quickly offered, "I shall take you to a concert."

"It is not necessary, S'haile."

"There is one thing that I have learned in my long association with other species, that the enjoyment of the arts is necessary... for the spirit."

Kareel unconsciously brushed back her hair. "I assure you that my spirit is well."

Sarek noticed the sparkling highlights in her snowy white hair tonight. "Kareel, I have lived on my own for some time. I do not quite believe that you do not desire the company of one that is as familiar as your own thoughts."

"And you believe that you are that person?" Kareel lifted an eyebrow as she met his gaze, amused that he would so brazenly mention the unmentionable.

Sarek's eyes brightened as his hopes grew, "I believe that I could be that person." He stood and moved to sit beside Kareel on the larger chair, enough room for the two. "I have given this a great deal of thought."

She looked to him, her head tilted slightly. Her amusement grew with each uttered word. "I do not doubt you." She was ready to remind him that this was not Gol, it was not his time and there was no need to play the solicitous partner.

Sarek recalled her touch on his thoughts and on his body. He wished only to share his days with someone, as he did with T'Rea for a very short time and then with Amanda, for far too short a time in his opinion. He leaned back; his fingers brushed the ends of her hair.

Kareel was prepared to wave off Sarek's toying fingers when the door chimed. She ruefully thought, saved by the bell?

Sarek had to hold back an audible groan. To have his amorous intentions so unceremoniously interrupted was incommodious to the ambassador. He was a man who usually got what he desired when he set his mind to it.

The chime sounded and the door opened, admitting, who Kareel knew to be Cadet Taurik. He had arrived much sooner than expected. He resembled his childhood holopics. He stood of an average height, with the usual dark hair and eyes and wearing the dress uniform of a Starfleet cadet.

Kareel managed to meet the officer as he stepped in. She bowed her head, "Na'shaya, Cadet Taurik. I am Reldai Kareel.

He returned her greeting then curiously inquired, "Reldai?" He considered her formal title, "How is my uncle?"

"S'haile Sakev is resting for the moment. I was informed that your room is the one next to his." She indicated the short hallway.

Taurik bowed his head. He then took an extra moment to look at her. By Vulcan standards it would be considered gaping. "I had wondered if I had seen correctly." He paused for a moment then explained; "I have never seen a Vulcan with such white hair." From beyond her, a presence loomed. "Ambassador Sarek, my House is honoured by your presence." Taurik greeted the elder with a ta'al, the surprise lingering within his voice. "I had not expected you to be here."

"I was informed of Sakev's collapse and returned as soon as it was possible. Considering Sakev is resting..." Sarek paused for a moment, "I will take my leave. Kareel, I will contact you later as to the date of the concert."

"What concert are you referring to?" She frowned slightly, then controlled her reaction to his insistence of this issue, especially in front of Sakev's nephew.

"You will accompany me now that Taurik has arrived." Sarek insinuated, then bowed his head certain of her acceptance, "Expect the invitation within the next three days."

Kareel was taken aback slightly at his impetuosity, "As you wish, S'haile Sarek." She heard herself replying then watched him with a great deal of curiosity as he took his leave of Taurik. Wordlessly he departed, leaving in his wake, a bewildered Kareel.

With a gentle clearing of his throat, Taurik drew her back to attention.

"This way please, S'haile Taurik." She bestowed the honorific title upon the young man. Now that he was home, the Priestess felt that a certain measure of protocol must be observed.

Grabbing his bag, the Cadet followed this intriguing woman down the hall. He had never known a Vulcan woman to have such a pronounced sway to her walk. He mentally practiced her name, unwilling to let himself forget it. After thanking her in his best old Vulcan, he was compelled to watch her walk back down the hall, no doubt to return to her duties.

The room seemed unchanged since his last visit. He dropped his bag in the room then slipped into his uncle's room. He sat down quietly so as not to disturb Sakev. His uncle's condition had been somewhat of a surprise to him. He had expected him to be older and less active, but what he found was a far more frail and ailing elder than he had imagined. He rested his elbows on the armrests, and then rested his folded hands against his chin. He considered these changes in his Father's brother as he looked into his sallow bace.

"Nephew?" Sakev croaked then sat up slightly. “Kwal se tu? (Is that really you?)”

"Yes, Honoured Elder." Taurik pulled the chair a little closer to the bed.

"How long have you been here?" Sakev gently inquired.

"I just a arrived a short time ago." Taurik had remembered his uncle as capable of shaking the roof with his voice, now it was barely above a whisper. "Do you wish anything?"

Before Sakev could say anymore, Kareel appeared with some juice and a tricorder. "I will be but a moment." She placed the juice on the mobile tray that hovered over the bed and then ran the scanner over the length of his person. No alarms went off and that was a good sign. She moved the tray closer to him and slipped the tricorder into the pocket of her tunic top. "I will be in the garden if I am required."

Taurik nodded and again he was compelled to witness her pleasing departure. He shifted in the chair slightly then requested, "Who is she, Osu’wuh (First Honoured )? Why is she here?"

Sakev grinned slightly, enjoying the sound of his nephew's voice. "Sarek felt that I required someone in the house while he left Vulcan for a time. At first I did not agree, but it appears that he was correct. Reldai Kareel has been a pleasure."

Taurik lifted an eyebrow. "Indeed. It appears that Ambassador Sarek has a similar impression of her."

Sakev nodded, "Sarek wishes to find another to bond with. He is lonely." He sighed wondering if the comment held some truth for himself as well. "How was your trip?"

"Adequate. There is some advantage to wearing the uniform. Faster transports were made available to me. Some civilians, however, would not have enjoyed such convenience." Taurik watched his uncle for signs of fatigue. He thought back to the first time he had returned to Vulcan from the nearby Nissus Colony, where he had grown up. Sakev had offered to sponsor Taurik and his brother to the Academy.

"Tell me about what you do, Pi’wuh’rak (little first one)." Sakev savored the company of his eldest nephew and took liberty in invoking the childhood nickname. He reached for the juice. The taste was totally enjoyable, sweet and refreshing. He knew he would fall asleep eventually, but for now he managed to slip into the first level of meditation and continued to listen as his ‘Little First One’ told him of his duty aboard the U.S.S. Geneva, a training vessel for senior cadets.


Sarek was true to his word. The day after Kareel had returned to Mount Seleya, the hand delivered invitation arrived along with a large box. The box contained a dress, shoes and cape for the evening's festivities. The card that was tucked into the fabric was in Sarek's own hand, "One should dress the part..." It made her wonder just what part he expected her to play. As her hands slipped over the slinky fabric, Kareel was reminded of long ago days, when such dressy attire was her mate's favorite. Blue was a curious choice. Her mate had said that the hue was flattering on her complexion. She wondered if that was Sarek's motivation as well. She had formal outfits to spare, but they were all of the office of an acolyte. This outfit, which she held up to her bosom, would be considered formal but civilian. Of course, Kareel, the concubine of Gol, realized that he wishes the part of a personal escort and not the company of a robed priestess.

The next day Sarek arrived, on time, to take her to the concert. He had suggested that she bring anything she needed with her, as he would take her to Sakev's after the concert. Kareel was due to return to Sakev's in the morning.

Kareel was fascinated with the entire evening. The Shi'Kahr Symphony performed the music and it was as Sarek had said... the music was sensed as well as heard.

Sarek invited her to his home to view T'Khut, to have some wine and she agreed. A pastime he had learned to enjoy with Amanda and had now realized that his need for company was beginning to surface again.

Sarek had removed his outer robes; he wore a lightweight suit underneath. He carried the tall glasses out onto the balcony where Kareel waited.

"This has been a most interesting experience, Ambassador," Kareel stated as she accepted the ornate glass. "I am honoured to have served." She bowed her head slightly.

Sarek sipped on the wine. "Your enjoyment of the evening was my primary concern." He motioned for her to sit on the chair. "Perhaps another time... soon, we can attend another event." Sarek had missed all the concerts, plays and occasional operas he would attend with Amanda.

"Perhaps." Kareel had sensed something different from Sarek all evening and was at a loss as to how to deal with it. He was not crossing any lines of impropriety but he was behaving in a different manner than she had become accustomed to. He had even moved the chair closer to hers before he sat down. "I was requested to serve S'haile Sakev in the transfer of his katra."

Sarek was slightly taken aback at the quick change in topic. "A most logical choice considering that you serve him now." He drank a little more of his wine as he watched the desert. "It is most fortunate that Taurik was able to return to spend time with Sakev."

"I sensed that Sakev was pleased." Kareel drank more of the wine, a sweet tasting wine made of the ton-shavas, and the rough translation would be fire-fruit. She recognized the spiciness to the drink.

"You seem more relaxed. You missed the calm of Gol?" Sarek placed his empty glass on the table behind him, adjusting his position so that he faced her a little more. He gripped the arm of the chair, her hand was within reach, all he would have to do is reach out.

"It is different. More familiar to me. I do not know that the activities of Gol would be calmer than at S'haile Sakev's home." She drained her glass then held it in her hand until Sarek asked for it.

Sarek wrapped his hand around the glass, brushing against her hand as it released the stem. He placed the glass with his. "Do you play any instruments?"

"The ka'athyra, lapan (wooden) flute and I have some knowledge of the Terran harpsichord."

Sarek was impressed, "Perhaps we could play together."

"S'haile Sakev informed me as to your skill with the ka'athrya." Kareel had not expected to feel this comfortable in Sarek's presence. It had been a long time since she had socialized in this manner. "Would you play tonight?"

"It would be an honour." Sarek stood and disappeared into the house.

Kareel stood and moved to the railing. The last time she spent time such as this was with her mate, Sokar, just after the birth of their son, Sekre.

Her memories harkened back to a particular night when T'Khut looked as this. Her mate was so pleased that Sekre was well and that she had recovered sufficiently to resume their physical relationship. In his esteem, Sokar had presented a necklace to her, bearing a rare green jewel: a bloodstone pendant. It was the image of a lanka-gar bird fashioned into a circle. It was shortly after this that Sokar was diagnosed with the terminal virus and died within two months. There had not even been time to even grow accustomed to the information. She remained with Sekre until he was of age to reside in the Vulcan Academy of Science and then she retreated to Gol.

"Do you have a preference?"

Kareel spun around as she held her breath; she had forgotten where she was or what she was doing here. She would take time, if possible, to meditate when she returned to Sakev's home. When she thought of Sokar her thoughts would center only on the few memories she held of him. "I ask forgiveness for my inattention."

"What has your thoughts?" Sarek placed the ka'athrya on the chair then he moved to Kareel's side. "You do not need to answer."

"I was lost in a memory." She looked to her hand that had been wrapped, unnoticed, around the pendant. She released it.

"A gift?" Sarek glanced at it for only a moment then looked in her eyes.

"Yes. Sokar gave this to me shortly after the birth of our son."

Sarek was surprised at the information. "I did not realized that you had been bonded." If that was the case, then he had a flurry of questions for her.

"Sokar died. Sekre studied and now teaches at the Academy." She felt suddenly awkward yet she continued to share her past. "Sokar stated, however illogically, that, in his opinion, I had a soul that was born of the desert."

Sarek nodded slightly in agreement; the lanka-gar was a desert bird and was not able to live anywhere else but the desert. He had heard its cry often enough. "I am honoured by your sharing. I grieve with thee." Sarek bowed his head acknowledging her loss.

Kareel bowed her head slightly then drew in a breath prepared to change the subject. "S'haile Sarek, I would be honoured by any piece you choose to play."

Sarek moved back to the chair as she did. He lifted the ka'athrya into his lap and began to play a piece that was his favourite.


Much like her other charges, Kareel had immersed herself in the duties of the household. She had spent a great deal of time meditating and caring for Sakev. But the time with Sarek had unnerved her, opening a need for companionship that she had hidden away long ago. She did not wish to deal with that kind of pain again.

She was not prepared to abandon the security of Gol for his sake alone. There was more for the nursemaid/ priestess/ concubine to consider. The Ambassador had seemed genuinely solicitous of not only her companionship but of her personally. Perhaps he was responding to not just his own innate loneliness but to her assets? Nonsense, Kareel concluded. The man's advances were infinitely those of a gentleman or a considerate 'Honoured One', nothing more. Her meditations had been disrupted by these errant thoughts. She resolved to begin the exercises once again, and this time, successfully purge her mind of these disruptions.

Taurik had taken some time to re-acquaint himself with Vulcan when Sakev was either resting or preoccupied with Kareel. He had returned from a walk to the market and he found the house quiet. After placing the vegetables and roots on the kitchen table, he checked on Sakev and found him sleeping. Taurik searched the house for Kareel and found her in the garden meditating, or rather had been. Just as he caught site of her, she stood gracefully then began to skillfully run through the v'asumi. He wondered if she would consider teaching him, although this was something he had always felt was a waste of time... until recently.

He reached for a pla-savas, a blue fruit, his favourite and something the replicators did not do justice to on board the ship. This one was a dark blue almost black. He bit into it and the juice filled his mouth. He continued watching Kareel as he ate the fruit. He wondered why she was spending time with Ambassador Sarek. They could not have too much in common.

He finished the fruit as she came into the kitchen. He was still leaning against the door jam.

Kareel brushed back her snowy-white hair that had come loose from the long braid. She glanced at Taurik's wet chin as she entered the house. "Were you not instructed in the use of a napkin?"

Taurik ran his tongue along his lips. "Yes." He went to the sink and washed the sticky juice from his fingers and mouth. "Would you be willing to help improve my v'asumi? Or even my meditation techniques for that matter?"

Kareel paused before answering; the request had surprised her to some extent. "It is my duty to serve, Ensign Taurik."

He dried his hands and watched her loosen her braid as she walked down the hall. He wondered about her. There were times when he wondered why she was here, as she seemed so distant. Rarely spending time with anyone except in the course of her duties, walking out of here every few days seemingly without concern, then returning with a new layer of detachment. Then, there were other times when he could see how much she seemed to care about his uncle's welfare. The way she helped him, the softness in her voice and the care she took preparing meals. She would even let Sakev win at chess. Taurik knew this because he had played a game or two with her and she was very good. Her compassion and dedication was something that Taurik was not used to seeing in one so austere. She was a study in contradiction.

Taurik busied himself with putting the vegetables and roots away. He decided that he would make a stew for supper tonight and pulled up the recipe files from Ayva's collection. He was finding himself a little lost without duty shifts and drills to keep him busy.

Kareel finished transmitting the day's final readings to the healer. Sakev was making excellent progress and most of it was attributed to Kareel's presence. She straightened Sakev's covers, "I trust you will sleep well, S'haile."

"I have no doubt. I had forgotten how relaxing a body rub could be. You have many skills, Kareel." He drew in a deep relaxing breath, "Many indeed." Sakev closed his eyes and fell asleep.

Kareel collected her assortment of towels and oils then left the man to his slumber. She stopped in the hall at the sound of the ka'athrya. At first she thought it was Taurik, but the additional sounds of the other instruments revealed it to be a recording. She placed the items on the desktop inside her room then went to join Taurik in the common room. She had found that he was an interesting individual but one that should re-acquaint himself with Vulcan disciplines.

"You enjoy music?" Kareel inquired.

"I do. We do not have too extensive a library of contemporary Vulcan music on board the ship. I will have to take some back with me." Taurik was sitting in the armchair, stretched out with his feet resting on the ottoman. He was relaxed. He sat up a little pulling the ottoman in closer then repositioned himself into the corner of the chair. "So what do the Masters of Gol do for relaxation?"

Kareel sat down opposite him. "I do not understand?" He always managed to ask the most perplexing questions.

"When you are not meditating, studying or helping someone, what do you do?"

Kareel sat back in the chair. "There are chores that are shared. Our days are filled with what is necessary. There is no time to indulge in frivolity."

Taurik tilted his head, "As you did when you attended the concert?"

Kareel remained silent. She reached for the PADD she had left earlier; it contained a copy of an ancient scroll she had been studying before returning today. She would not discuss her activities with one that had no privilege.

Taurik noticed that she looked as if she would take her PADD and leave. Realizing his error in proper etiquette, he quickly changed the subject, "Do you play?" He indicated the ka'athrya.

"Yes." She continued in her ruse in reading but all the while secretly enjoying his rush to mend his breech of protocol.

"Would you do me the honour?"

She marked her place in the text, setting the PADD beside her. "Do you have a piece you wish to hear?"

"No." He considered for a moment then blurted out, "Play something from the concert the other night."

"You have a fascination with the concert," she smartly replied.

Her tone was the lightest she had ever used with him and he found that he could not answer, that it was not the concert he was fascinated with.


Over the next week, Sakev made a great deal of progress. So much so, that Sarek had come by a few times. By the end of the week Sakev was back in the common room with Sarek playing chess.

Taurik was off enjoying another walk through town. Being planet-side for so long was not something he was bored with yet.

Kareel was in the kitchen preparing end-meal for everyone to enjoy.

Sarek moved the pawn then looked to Sakev, "The debates have begun concerning the Cardassians."

"It was expected." Sakev made his move then shifted in the seat. He caught Sarek's questioning glance. "My bones do not have the padding they once did and it becomes uncomfortable. Nothing more." He watched Sarek for a moment. "You worry too much. You need a companion to keep your thoughts occupied."

"I have time to choose." Sarek looked out the window, "Then again, time has a way of shrinking when you least expect it."

"As it did the last time?" Sakev noted how Sarek stiffened slightly at the admonishment. Sakev no longer cared for propriety... he was too old now.

Sarek looked back at the board. "Spock has taken the opposition's viewpoint."

Sakev sighed, "That should not surprise you, Sarek. You have taught him well in opposing whatever is expected of him."

Sarek almost smiled, "Perhaps."

There was silence for a time, only the soft thud of the pieces being moved and the far off sounds of Kareel moving around in the kitchen.

"Have there been many observers?" Sakev was always one to enjoy a full council room, observers especially. He longed for those days now and had to be satisfied with Sarek's report.

"The usual number." Sarek moved another piece on the chessboard, then claimed Sakev's captured white knight.

"Many Terrans?"

"No." Sarek emptied his glass of juice. He reached to the jug to refill both glasses but found it empty. As he stood he inquired, "Do you wish the same juice?"

"Whatever Kareel has is sufficient." Sakev stated as he studied the board. "Is T'sai Perrin still attending?" Sarek's method of play still held some elements he did not understand.

"Why do you ask about her in particular?"

Sakev smiled, "She watches you closely, especially when you are involved in a debate."

"No more than another."

"As you wish, Sarek." He looked to his long time friend, "That jug will not fill itself. And do remember to return..."

"Meaning?" Sarek stopped.

Sakev leaned back with a soft sigh; "If I were younger you would have competition for her. Maybe even find ourselves in the arena..."

Sarek shook his head slightly, "You are getting senile, Friend."

"Getting?" Sakev said with a slight bit of humour in his voice. He listened to Sarek's fading footsteps. "Got there some time ago, my friend." He wondered if Sarek was spending too much time away from his own Home-world.

Sarek went through to the kitchen. Kareel took the jug and refilled it without a word spoken between them. She handed it back and Sarek's fingers brushed hers briefly as he accepted it. He looked to her face then met her eyes. She turned away from him. He placed the jug down on the counter then moved around to stand close to Kareel.

He stood off to the side but behind her, where she might not see him, but she knew he was there. It was a strong compulsion, one that he should disregard but chose not to. His hand lifted, moving closer to her face, his fingertips brushed the warmth of her hair. So light a touch he knew she had not noticed. He thought about the time he had gone to Mount Seleya, seeing her again when he arranged Sakev's care and then the night of the concert... he wanted more. He was drawn to her as he had been drawn to Amanda, and though he knew he had no privilege... perhaps if he just initiated... something. As his hand drew closer to her hair ready to lay his hand upon her...

Taurik's hand was still on the door's release as he met Sarek's glare. The elder quickly stepped back from Kareel. He had not meant to intrude but had walked to the kitchen through the garden. He watched as Sarek picked up the jug and headed back into the common room. Taurik was uncertain what to say, so he remained silent. He placed the bag of vegetables he knew were needed on the table.

"I will see to them, S'haile Taurik."

Taurik bowed his head then went through to his room with a remaining bag. He placed it on his bed; he would see to it later. He then headed into the common room, uncertain of his inner motivations, as if a strong but seemingly dark force was compelling him to confront the Ambassador. This was not his privilege to do so.

"I am pleased to see you up, Osu'wuh."

"Yes, the walls were becoming disinteresting." Sakev looked up to Taurik, he was watching Sarek and both men had a strange expression on their faces. He moved his chess piece then reached for his glass. After taking a sip he decided to break the uncomfortable silence, "You went into the market again, Taurik?"

"Yes." Taurik drew the ottoman over and stiffly sat down, never once taking his eyes from Sarek. "I found it to be most interesting. I spent far more time than before and managed to obtain some personal items." He was not quite sure what to make of this. From what he had gathered from speaking to Kareel, she wanted no part of another joining. "It is a custom on board the ship to purchase souvenirs for closer shipmates." So why was Sarek pursuing her? Or was he? "I have been given the dubious honour of being the recipient of some interesting artifacts." Was Sarek the reason for her seemingly disinterest in a joining? Now to the all-important question, how was he to find out what was meant when he was not permitted to ask? "In my quarters on board the Geneva, I have what is referred to as a 'snow globe'. It contains a facsimile of a scene enclosed in a globe. This globe is then filled with water and fine pieces of reflective material. It is most interesting." He wondered sometimes at the reasoning behind Vulcans being referred to as a 'logical species'. They were not.

"Perhaps if you find one in your travels, you will show one to me." Sakev was amazed at how both men seemingly carried on with tense pleasantries, without exchanging a cross word. For Sakev, it was a most disquieting sensation.

"Should you not find one, I believe I have one at my home. A gift to Spock when he was young during his first trip to Earth." Sarek had felt the guarded emotions from Taurik as he entered the kitchen at that most inopportune moment. He wondered what this young man was reacting to. Taurik had no right or privilege to be affected in the least by his actions or that of Kareel's. Sarek moved the king onto a space, "Checkmate." He reminded himself that he was overstepping his bounds as well and that perhaps it was fortunate that Taurik did interrupt. Perhaps it would have ended with him making a fool of himself, offering something that was not wanted or desired. A companion is what Sakev had called her. Sarek knew Sakev was speaking of Kareel. It would have been very different to have a mate outlive him and to have one that could share in his heritage.

Sarek missed Amanda.


The following morning Taurik had found the house uncharacteristically quiet. He also found Sakev in the common room reading. Kareel left a note informing them that she had returned to Gol for a day or two.

He went into the kitchen and made himself some coffee. Real coffee that he had found at the market. He would try to pick some up before he returned to the ship; it would be a pleasure he could indulge in.

He returned to the common room still wearing his sleep wear, "Osu-wuh, I trust you slept well?"

"Yes." Sakev lowered the PADD then motioned to Taurik to pour more tea for him. He watched the dark liquid swirl into the cup. "I have the impression that the Reldai left early for a reason. Do you know of any?"

Taurik paused. He replaced the pot on the heating unit then sat down, sipping on his coffee as he did. "Perhaps."

In the caves under Mount Seleya, Kareel closed her eyes and relaxed in the hot sand bath. She enjoyed this; it was a sensation that was unequaled. She had spent a good portion of the morning meditating and she was finding little peace in it. She would try again after her time here.

Her thoughts drifted back to the events of recent days. How had her life taken this strange path? She was asked to serve a dying elder, nothing more, or so she thought. She knew that she would have to interact with Sarek from time to time and Sakev's nephew. But what was transpiring was not simple and she had no logical way of dealing with this. With no understanding of why it was happening.

She had considered requesting that another acolyte take her place, but that would be an injustice to Sakev. After all, Sakev was the one that she was asked to serve.

Kareel drew herself up slowly, allowing the wet thick sand to slip down her body. She moved to the stairs then to the near-by shower. Her body was washed clean of the sand that remained; it would be filtered and be returned to the bath. Nothing was wasted. She slipped on a fresh robe then headed back to her chambers. An afternoon of meditation might be possible.

When she arrived however, she had a visitor. She had failed to stipulate upon entering Gol that she required privacy. She knew who it was just by the quality of his robes. His hood hid his identity until she closed her door. "S'haile Sarek."

She wished at the moment that she had the heavier meditation robes on before she had seen Sarek. The look in his eye was unmistakable and she wished to not be so exposed. With her arms defensively crossed over her chest, she insinuated, "I neglected to inform the attendant that I desired Seclusion."

Sarek's eyes met hers. "I wish to speak to you of another matter." He unfastened his cape and slipped it off, intending to remain. Either he had ignored or did not notice Kareel's thinly veiled request.

An astounded Kareel lifted her eyebrow; Sarek was not usually one to ignore another's request. She shivered. Her robe was damp and she felt an underlying annoyance. She cleared her throat quietly, "A moment, S'haile." She moved into the adjoining room to change into her heavier robe and brush through her damp hair.

Sarek watched her leave and wondered if this was a logical idea. Sarek drew in a breath; this was far more nerve wracking than he had anticipated.

"You wished to speak of a matter?" Kareel was cautious of him. He 'felt' different today. Closed off and almost unreachable.

"That is why I have come to see you, Kareel. To speak with you of 'my choice'."

Kareel waited patiently for him to continue. How vulnerable he looked now, just as he did at his time.

Sarek looked to the stone flooring, then to her. "It is not a decision that I have come to easily." He felt the growing apprehension. "I have thought about it a great deal."

"Selecting a mate is never a matter to consider lightly." Her matronly voice was sure and steady. Many times males of the shrine and former suitors had sought her advice on matters of their intended.

"Weighing the pros and cons, as the humans are fond of saying."

"If you are that certain concerning your choice then should you not be seeking her out?" she surely offered.

Sarek lifted an eyebrow. "That is why I am here." It suddenly occurred to him that she did not place herself in this position. Who, then, did she think he was speaking about?

"T'sai Perrin is an excellent choice for you. Sakev has spoken very highly of her..." Kareel's words drifted off as she recognized the look in his face. "You are not considering the human female are you?"

Sarek swallowed hard then reached for his cape. If it was not an obvious desire to her... then there was no point in remaining. He bowed his head, his voice barely able to utter the words. "I will take my leave of you, Reldai Kareel."

She wanted to stop him, clarify any misunderstandings. "Sarek" her voice was soft and enticing but he would not heed her entreaty or fall under her compassion. He wished to be gone. He flung his cape over his arm then tossed her a chilly look. 'By the Powers...' She thought to herself, 'how could I have missed this?' The signs had been there but she had ignored them as she always had as concubine.

She had not taken his consideration towards her seriously. She was used to being treated with extra courtesy and attention by males. Sarek was no exception in her mind. His advances and pleasantries all had a purpose, a goal and Kareel had dismissed him, just as she dismissed all of her suitors after their time.

Sarek stopped just as he reached for the door's release. With a great deal of effort he turned to face her. He saw her for what she was: a priestess of Gol. Her face was as stoic as those of the statues that lines the temple gates. With her hands hidden deep within her sleeves, she appeared as unmovable as the very rocks that were the foundation of Gol. How could he have been so blind?

Sarek lifted his hand in the ta'al, "Long life and prosperity, Reldai Kareel."

And with that he was gone.

Kareel reached behind her to the chair and pulled it over, sitting down in it heavily. Her breathing was heavy and fast as if some force were squeezing her chest. She grieved for Sarek; she grieved for what may have been. What she had offered Sarek was friendship and he had misinterpreted it all. Now she would lose what she had come to experience as friendship. The shame of losing face must have been disquieting to his inner peace. She may have been willing to entertain more, to have experienced him in a deeper way, but something, had been preventing her speculations and from truly pursing the possibilities.

Kareel knew what it was. He did not touch her, not like Sokar had. Such a moving experience was her first mate that no pale substitute was acceptable. Pity began to surface at the corners of Kareel's heart but she quickly mastered it, dispelling it. Sarek would not appreciate such a reaction nor would she. She had no idea where he was leading until the very moment she met his eyes, after she mentioned Perrin. His pain had momentarily slipped through. She leaned back in the chair, closed her eyes and promised herself she would never become so closely involved with another again.


The next few days at Sakev's were tense even by Vulcan standards. Sarek would come over to play chess and not venture into the kitchen unless Kareel was somewhere else, and if she were somewhere else... Sarek wasn't. The few times they had spoken to one another, it was done with minimal words and clipped phrases.

Sakev had watched this for a few hours and then decided that he was old enough and near enough to death that he could break a few taboos.

"Sarek." He adjusted himself in the chair before he continued. "How was your trip to Mount Seleya?"

Sarek raised an eyebrow. "It was short."

Sakev nodded. "And then your session concerning the Wars?"

Sarek moved one of his pieces. "You appear to be more interested in my private affairs rather than this game, Sakev." Sarek leaned back in the chair. Sakev had become even thinner than before. He had spent the last two days putting Sakev's affairs in order. Sarek had been named the executor of his will. The only item that he had to show for his long life was this house, the contents and the grounds surrounding it. It would remain as is, with moneys set aside for the upkeep of the house and grounds until Taurik took up permanent residence.

"Your session, Sarek?" Sakev reminded him.

"Matters are moving along."

"Good. And Perrin?"

"Receptive." Sarek spoke in a lowered tone; his thoughts were preoccupied with the game.

Sakev lifted his eyebrow. He was asking if Perrin was in attendance. What had Sarek meant? Sakev moved his pawn. "Receptive? Receptive to what?"

Sarek lifted his head and looked to Sakev. "She was receptive to the debate." Sarek had considered himself a quick thinker but lately there had been moments when matters were not crystal clear. Perhaps it was age.

"I had thought that your debate would have taken a different turn." Sakev sat up slightly, moving to the edge of the chair. "Sarek, get Taurik or Kareel. I wish to lie down."

"You are not well?" Sarek hesitated on leaving the room.

"I am suddenly very tired." He sighed.

Sarek looked into the kitchen, "Kareel. Sakev wishes assistance." He spoke with a slightly raised voice rather than abandoning Sakev.

Kareel nodded then left the meal she was preparing. She moved quickly into the common room. Before allowing him to move, she took a quick scan of his readings. She could easily have gathered him in her arms and carried him to his room. He was so light. He was also capable of making it on his own with support. She held him, guarding each step he took and fully aware that Sarek followed closely behind.

Sakev was helped into his sleepwear and then into bed. He was given his scheduled medication and after a short quiet conversation, Sarek took his leave.

Taurik came in to sit with his uncle while Kareel continued with her duties. Sakev was sleeping well when Taurik was called for end-meal.

When he entered the kitchen he found Kareel heating the water for her tea on the heating unit rather than using the replicator.

"It is malfunctioning?" Taurik sat opposite her. The stew she had prepared smelled exceptionally good. Today he had been busy around the house with a few items that had been neglected until now.

"It appears so." Kareel did not wish unnecessary conversation of late; her thoughts were occupied with her concern for Sakev's well being.

"I will repair it after end-meal."

"You are capable?"

"I am trained as an engineer." Taurik stated calmly. "I can take the unit into Sakev's room while you meditate." Even the limited amount of time together had given them a routine.

"Your service will honour this house."

Taurik returned to his meal, grateful for something to finally do, other than go for walks to pass the time of day.

It was much later in the evening when Taurik heard the change in Sakev's breathing. As he looked up Sakev moaned that his chest hurt. Taurik jumped up tossing aside the delicate machinery he was working on. "Shok." He muttered a Vulcan curse, then stepped into the adjoining room and called for Kareel.

Kareel had sensed Sakev's condition, heard the crash and then Taurik's call to her. She turned the sonic shower off and grabbed her robe, slipping it on as she hurried to Sakev.

Taurik already had contacted the Healer Kujev and he was on his way but had cautioned Taurik that there might not be anything that could be done.

Taurik looked up to Kareel's entrance. He tossed what parts he could find onto the tray he was using. "Kujev is on his way."

Kareel nodded as she reached for the tricorder. "Sakev." She paused waiting for his response, "Sakev."

Sakev's eyes fluttered opened. He smiled slightly. "Taurik." He felt his nephew's hand in his.

Taurik felt the mental connection immediately with Sakev. He then began to feel the life force dim. He looked to Kareel and she was already positioning her fingers on Sakev's face for the final meld. She was to be the carrier of Sakev's katra to the Ancient Hall of Thoughts. He knew that Sakev's service to Vulcan was one that was to be honoured.

It seemed as if Sakev was draining into her. He felt the connection he had to Sakev, and he felt it take hold and seem to find its own place inside his head.

Sakev's hand fell away from his.


Reldai Kareel stood in front of the container. The spheres were slightly larger than her hand and were housed in the stone altar that had been made centuries ago for this very purpose. She needed no assistance. However, an adept stood off to the side in case help was needed.

Taurik stood behind and to the side of Kareel. He was fascinated by all of this. He had followed her into the deep chambers that were, in actuality, under the desert. He changed into meditation robes and she wore her ceremonial robes. She looked so very different to him this way.

Kareel knelt silently for some time then lifted her hands, resting the fingertips upon the rough surface of the sphere. She whispered the words that would begin the transfer. Sakev had served on the Spa-yorna, Vulcan's High Council for over a century. He was one of the voices that had guided Vulcan into the light of the shared Universe. Many opposed him, many praised his efforts as well and some, such as Sarek, had been most grateful for his guidance along the way.

Taurik listened to her whispers and tried to translate it all as best he could. It sounded similar to the chant that is spoken for the sharing of thoughts, but this was a transfer. He had been surprised at the size of the sphere that would house Sakev's katra until Sakev wished his freedom. He had expected it to be bigger and more ornate.

After some time, Kareel lifted her hands from the sphere, bowed until her head touched the stone floor and whispered, "I am greatly honoured by one who has served so well, Sakev of Vulcan." She stood gracefully but slowly.

Taurik took a step closer, instinct mostly, but he would not have wanted her to fall. Then his eye fell to the luminescent sphere before him. With a light touch of his fingertips, he took a final moment to whisper farewell. The essence within the katra container responded and entrusted Taurik with good tidings for the family. The young man was moved by the fleeting experience and was reluctant to let go.

Kareel bowed her head to the acolyte and then continued down the dark corridor. "Cadet Taurik?"

Her soft entreaty shattered the moment and his fingers fell away. Taurik turned to her, “Yes?”

"I would be honoured if you would share some tea with me before you leave."

"If it is your wish, Reldai Kareel." Taurik bowed his head slightly. So many things he had forgotten about since leaving the Nisus colony five years ago, to pursue his education at Starfleet Academy on Earth. A part of him wished to remain and learn more here on the homeworld; but a greater part longed to return to his Starfleet life.

Kareel led him up a series of stone steps to the levels that were in the mountain. Those chambers were considered Mount Seleya and the Masters of Gol had resided here for millennia. The rooms she had led him to were her own chambers. Once there she removed the heavier tabard and placed it in the adjoining room. She returned wearing a heavier robe similar to Taurik's.

She indicated that he should sit and that she would return momentarily.

He moved instead to the balcony to take in the view. He had never seen so much desert before, not like this. No wonder they were calm here with the sandy plains to stare at continuously. He leaned against the framing, crossed his arms and just drank it in. He watched the lanka-gar soar to unbelievable heights and then dive down towards the sandy surface. Nature designed her to be sleek and she shot like a rocket while pursuing her prey. She soared towards the clouds, stretching out her vast wing-span, taking advantage of the warm updrafts. Taurik could see why so many poems had been dedicated to this graceful and beautiful creature.

There was a slight rustling behind him; it was Kareel returning with the tea. He moved to kneel at the low table. He was not accustomed to kneeling on the stone surface, but he would endure this for her, to honour her service to his Osu'wuh. He pushed back the hood that was almost forgotten about. Looking to Kareel as she brushed hers back, he found himself holding his breath; he had never seen the true length of her hair before this. She was always wearing it fastened up or at the very least braided. She was a remarkable looking woman.

Kareel served the tea. "It is a blend that has been used for centuries. The Master's blend. The leaves are picked in a specific order and then placed in a square of fabric. It is stored that way until it is desired." She lifted her cup to her lips and drank it down. She was tired and her body felt drained of all its energy.

Taurik tasted it. He liked it and drank more of it. He reached into his sleeve pocket and pulled out a scroll. "Sakev dictated something to me that I am to read to you."

Kareel lifted an eyebrow. Her head bowed once to him.

Taurik unrolled the paper. As he read the first line, Taurik recalled the 'First Honoured's' shaky voice while dictating. "Reldai Kareel. Your service has honoured my life. It is my request that you, in Taurik's absence and for as long as that absence is, make use of the house. There is no logical reason that it should stand empty. A house that has served as a home should never stand empty for too long. You may find one day that you wish to leave Gol; here you will have a place to begin from. Long life and prosperity, Reldai Kareel." Taurik allowed the paper to roll back then he fastened the ribbon. He offered it to her. "I agree completely with his request. I will be on duty for an unknown period of time. If he had not made the request, I would have. Sakev noticed how comfortable you seemed in this home, he wished for you to... indulge occasionally."

Kareel accepted the scroll. "I am honoured." She was uncertain what more she should say.

Taurik stood. "I will take my leave, Reldai Kareel." He bowed his head. "Again, you have honoured my uncle's life with your service. In turn, you have honoured my House." He lifted his hand in the ta'al, "Live long and prosper."

"Peace and long life, S'haile Taurik."

Taurik started to leave but turned suddenly at the bird's call from the desert. He looked to Kareel, "You remind me of the lanka-gar. Your heart seems at peace here in the desert."

Kareel could only bow her head, no one had told her that since her bondmate had died. Only he had referred to her in that way. Had she been wrong to dismiss Taurik so quickly? But he was so young. She was touched by his comment and recalled a time when she too had seen parallels to her mate in nature.

Taurik bowed his head again then left her, sliding the door closed. He paused outside the door and wondered if she would accept a message from him if he sent her one occasionally. There was only one way to find out and that was to try.


Well his quarters did not seem to change from the one he had aboard the Geneva. In fact everything had been transferred on schedule, even with him on Vulcan. There had been no real action while he was away. Taurik dropped his duffle bag on his bed then carried the other bag in his hand through to the common room. He placed that bag on the table.

He went over to the replicators and asked for tea. He pulled off his jacket and dropped it onto the couch. He hadn't realized how tiring this trip had been. The heavier gravity, the heat of his home-world, as well as the unaccustomed inactivity had worn on his energy level. He knew his shipmates would be in soon to ask about his trip. He had been gone for forty-two days and he was certain they would have more to tell him than the other way around.

His door chime sounded. He sat up. "Come."

The grin spread across the young human face, "I heard you were back but I had to check for myself." The dark haired human moved into the room. Ensign Max Peterson relaxed and dropped into the chair. "So how was Vulcan?"

"Unchanged." Taurik reached for his cup and drank some of the warm liquid, "The Honoured One died two days ago, the ceremony to transfer his katra was performed yesterday and it was most interesting."

Peterson sighed, "I am sorry."

"Sorrow is not necessary. Sakev lived an honoured life. His life force and knowledge will dwell in the Hall of Thought until he wishes it no longer." Taurik recalled walking through the Ancient Hall of Thought. It was amazing; so many essences still reachable, to be able to share knowledge and experiences. The young man had envied those with the skills to touch these katras. The brush with Sakev’s thoughts had been inspiring, but he knew he was not disciplined enough to truly reach him. He promised himself that he would learn to at some point in his life. "How have things been here?"

"Quiet for the most part. Judi's heading over as soon as she is finished duty." He looked to the time, "And that should be soon." Max sat forward, "So did you meet any girls?"

Taurik's eyebrows rose. "No, I did not. At least not in the frame of reference that you are suggesting."

The doors to his quarters opened again and in walked Judi Zala. She was most attractive for a Human in Taurik's opinion and he had shared much personal time with her. "Are you being rude again, Max?" She headed directly to where Taurik was sitting and sat down beside him. "Welcome home, Taurik. You were missed you know."

Max rolled his eyes, "Tell me about it..." he grinned, "I had to eat dinner with her every end of shift and she would not stop talking about what you might be doing."

Taurik looked from one to the other, he was still unsure of the fine line between teasing and being serious about a relationship. There were times when he had assumed there would be friction, but this was not the case. He looked to Judi just in time to see her stick her tongue out in Max's direction. They were teasing.

"So how are you doing?" Judi asked her hand rested on his knee in a sympathetic manner.

"I am doing well." Taurik drank more of his tea. "I discovered that there is a great deal that I must learn about my culture."

"Such as...?" Judi asked.

"Controlling emotions, meditation and the history of our world." Taurik looked to his two friends. "I had not realized how much of the old ways were still in use. I was taught most of it when I was young but leaving Vulcan you tend to discard some as archaic."

"Sounds boring." Judi tapped her fingers against his leg.

Taurik moved her hand then stood. "I brought some souvenirs for you two." He allowed a wry smile to play briefly at his lips. He slipped out a small wrapped package and tossed it to Max.

Max caught it. "Don't tell me. It's a t-shirt and it says, 'My friend traveled to Vulcan and I all I ended up with was an illogical t-shirt'."

Taurik lifted an eyebrow. "Close but not accurate." He waited until Max opened the gift. It had been amusing to say the least to find all sorts of items miniaturized and then marked with the city's name.

Max nodded his head. "Gee thanks." He studied the item turning it over in his hand. He looked to Taurik, "Okay I give, what is it?"

"A ceremonial weapon: a lirpa. I had considered the fact that since you were in security, it was an appropriate choice." Taurik moved to Max's side and indicated the clear protective sleeve. "It is sharp."

Max laughed, "A letter opener?" He shook his head slightly, "Leave it to the Vulcans. Thanks."

Taurik returned to the table and withdrew a larger item. He placed it on the table then reached in for the remaining item. Slightly larger than his hand and wrapped in decorated silk. He took it over to Judi. "For your collection."

Judi blushed, "Thanks." She placed it in her lap and began to unwrap the delicate object. Her eyes lit up as the globe revealed the red sand-coloured mountains surrounded by sand at its base with snow-capped peaks. The item that clouded the clear liquid looked like sand. "A sand storm?" She turned the globe to activate the swirling action again then held it up to watch it. "It's beautiful." She leaned over and gave him a chaste kiss on his cheek.


Kareel slipped the unexpected message disc into the reader on her desk. The recording began with the Starfleet logo then was replaced by Taurik's image.

'Reldai Kareel, I trust this finds you well.' He seemed to search for words, 'My days are returning to my normal routine. I wanted to ask your suggestions on what I should read to renew my training in the disciplines. There is not much available on board the ship. Anything you can offer would be most appreciated.' He paused again and seemed to look around the room briefly, 'long life and prosperity. Cadet Taurik out.'

The disc popped out of the slot, the message had been very short. She considered his words and began to collect what was necessary to gauge how far along he was. She prepared the packet along with a short note and left it with the acolyte that would see to its transmission.

*****2366 Two years later...

The human's hand ran down the exquisitely carved bird. "You never told me what kind of bird this is..." Judi accepted the glass of wine from Taurik.

Ensign Zala had been on board the Enterprise for eighteen months. She and Max Peterson had been disappointed that Taurik had not been assigned to the flagship as well. But last month, a familiar Vulcan face showed up in ten-forward. He had never passed the information onto them, claiming that he had wanted to surprise him. Judi wondered about this Vulcan. He was so unlike any of the others she had meet at the Academy or on the Enterprise The three were re-united and Judi was ecstatic that their friendship had not diminished in the least.

Last night after an interesting conversation, Taurik had requested her company to the arboretum, without Max or any of their other friends. Beneath the flowering vines she had kissed him. Not on the cheek, as she had done in the past, but her lips had lightly brushed over his. He had not pushed her away but neither had he reciprocated. This had been a surprising change in their relationship and a step towards the possibility of something permanent

"This is a lanka-gar. It is a bird that lives in the desert. It hunts for small game and occasionally will feed on the carcass of larger animals." Taurik avoided looking at the statue for too long. It brought back feelings that he was trying desperately to suppress.

"Is it this colour in the desert?" Judi slipped her free arm around Taurik's waist, gazing into his face, appreciating the new addition of a beard, as she waited for the answer.

"No." He drank down more than a mouthful of the wine. "In the desert it resembles the colour of the sand but when they are born they are white. There are ancient tales that tells how they obtained the colouring. It was said they burrowed themselves in the sand, due to the lack of food, centuries ago during the Wars. When they emerged their feathers had taken on the colour of the hot sands." He lightly kissed her, as if trying on the new behaviour then slipped her arm from around his waist. "The green streaking in their feathers was said to have come from the great amount of blood that was spilled. According to the legend, that is what brought them to life again."

Judi smiled, she was still amazed that his newly acquired beard was as soft as his hair "You know, Ensign, Vulcans have the most interesting stories." She sipped on her wine.

Taurik bowed his head, then emptied his glass. He looked around the room, for some reason he felt stifled in here. "My roommate’s shifts ends in two hours and he will be looking for his bed after pulling double duty. Do you wish to spend time in your quarters tonight?"

Judi nodded, "Yes I would very much." This was the first time he had even hinted at spending the night with her. She would try not to read any more into it than he offered. She drained her glass then picked up the uniquely printed programs. "Come on, we are going to be late for the concert and you promised that you would introduce me to Ambassador Sarek."

The concert had been enjoyable and Ambassador Sarek and his bondmate Perrin remained only for a short time and then left. Taurik had noted Picard's concern as well as Doctor Crusher's. He was pleased in a way that Sarek was too busy to attend any of the social functions that had been planned and they had continued even without his presence. He had also noted that Sarek's aides seemed to remain exceptionally close to him. Taurik considered this a curiosity, one he would attempt to uncover.

Judi walked with Taurik towards her quarters. "I am hungry. Do you want to eat in Ten-Forward or in my quarters?"

"I wish privacy. Your quarters." Taurik paused in front of the door as Judi tapped in the code. The door opened with a gentle swish. He stepped in and moved right to the couch and the view of the stars. Most of the quarters held some view of the sea of stars they traveled in, but others did not for those that found the sight disquieting. "What do you wish to eat?"

"Fried rice." She hesitated ordering the shrimp that she wanted to have then decided she could have it another time when she was eating alone. "Egg rolls and some rice wine." She slipped in front of Taurik, her hand slipping the front of his dress tunic open. Her hands moved in savoring the warmth of his body. She rested her head against his shoulder and sighed. "You are so very warm." Her fingers moved up to his lips, "And don't tell me its logical because of your faster metabolism. I love the feel of the warmth no matter why it's there."

Taurik nodded his agreement. "Very well." He reached to the bun in her hair, removed the pins then loosened her dark, shoulder-length hair. He lifted her face then kissed her lips gently. He had always considered Judi intriguing but tonight something in her dark eyes captivated him. His hand moved to open her tunic and slipped it from her shoulders. He dropped it onto the near-by chair then pulled her closer.

Her arms went around his neck pulling him down into a passionate kiss. Her kisses moved down his neck, stopping at the neck of his tunic. She slipped his tunic from him, tossing it over with hers, then ran her hands over his chest. "I think we would be more comfortable in the other room, you know," She suggested with a grin.

Taurik lifted her chin. "Perhaps it would be better to eat first." He caught the slight disappointment in her eyes, "Vulcans make love for a considerably longer time than humans. I would not wish you to run out of energy." He smiled slightly.

Judi laughed, "You are awful!" She shook her head. "Well I don't know whether to believe it or not, but my stomach is growling."

"I know. I can hear it." Taurik remarked with a note of amusement then accompanied her to the replicator. He waited as she ordered the dishes and then helped her carry them over to the table. Beside him along the wall was her collection of snow globes. His eye caught the one he had purchased for her, and he wondered, just for a fleeting moment, what the Reldai was doing. He sat down opposite Judi and accepted the plate she passed over to him. It contained rice, some Vulcan vegetables and roots prepared in the 'stir fry' style. It was an enjoyable dish and one that he indulged in frequently.

Judi was enjoying her meal. She looked to the kal-toh puzzle off to the side. "I am totally stuck on that. I cannot find another place to put any of those sticks."

"T'an," Taurik corrected. He smiled briefly. "When we have finished eating we can play for a short time if you wish." He always gave her the choice as to their activities. They were still learning the fine art of compromise.

"I would rather attack you..." She watched him for a reaction then smiled when he blushed.

Taurik raised an eyebrow uncertain at times how to form a response to the comments she would make. "A possibility..."

Taurik replicated a pot of tea for them to enjoy while they worked on the kal-toh game. One game had been the compromise and Judi had promised that she would pleasure him until the cows came home.

Taurik placed the pot on the table and returned to his seat beside her.

"Taurik...?" She looked up from the paper she was reading. "This is the most amazing poem I have ever read."

"What poem?" Taurik looked at the puzzle in front of him.

She ran her hand up his leg as she pulled him into an awkward kiss. She felt him twist a little in the chair then pull her into his lap. "Better." She devoured his mouth, ran her fingers through his silky hair and somehow shifted to straddle his thighs. "I loved this." She held his face and kissed him.

"We will not be attempting..."

She kissed him then lifted her lips from his just long enough to answer his unfinished question, "No. No stick game."

"I do not know what poem you are referring to." Taurik held her face for a moment, careful not to apply pressure against her contact points.

"The poem." She studied his eyes. They were dark. She reached over to the program and the folded paper inside. "This one."

Taurik took the folded paper and merely opened it partway. "Where did you get this?" His voice went flat.

"I found it in with the programs. It must have got caught up with them." She felt the tension in his body. "I am sorry if you didn't want me to read it yet..."

"You were not to read this at all." Taurik pushed Judi off his lap then stood quickly. He felt a wave of anger surge through his body. "Why must you be so curious?" He glared at Judi then stalked passed her to the snow globe that he had given her, a reminder of his home. "All you humans... you must know everything." A sudden and unknown reservoir of frustration surfaced: he was tired of being reminded of what he left behind. "It was meant for another... a Vulcan... one that would comprehend the words!" He grabbed his tunic and stuffed his treasured paper into the pocket. He put the tunic on and turned on her once more. His voice was loud and accusing, "I do not want you or your kind around me again! Is that understood?"

Judi nodded. She was shaking. She had no idea what had happened or why he was so angry. She felt the beginning of her tears. She watched Taurik shake with anger then storm out of her quarters. Devastated, she slipped to the floor in a heap and cried.

Taurik felt his door close behind him. He stopped dead in the center of his quarters, still shaking with anger. His fists had been clenched so hard his nails had cut into his palm. Drawing in a long slow breath, he pulled out the paper and opened it. "What happened?"


Kareel read through it once again. She moved out onto the balcony as she finished Taurik's letter. If the information he related was correct, the timing was all-wrong. When she was with Sarek she found no trace of this disease. What she knew of Bendii's Syndrome was that it was slow and long in its claim on its victim. This was most curious and most disturbing at the same time. She looked out to the desert night. A storm was moving in tonight. She would not be able to stand and watch its progress; she had another that she needed to attend to.

She turned to face the computer console in her chambers. She would be able to research the condition and send Taurik a synopsis. She would also offer her services to Sarek and Perrin, it was the least she could do. This did not 'feel' right. This information supported some rumours that Sarek was retiring. It had seemed very early for him to retire and at such an early age... considering how much he had sacrificed to serve Vulcan for so long. Now the reason was... logical.

She would also add, for the first time, a personal note to Taurik.

*****2368 Two years later...

Kareel had not been shocked by the news but she had been saddened along with all of Vulcan... Sarek of the House of Surak had died.

After offering her condolences to T'sai Perrin and the House of Surak, Kareel tapped out Taurik's 'address' without a thought. This would be the first 'personal' message she would send to Taurik. She had no one else to tell, no one else to share this aching and she was unsure if this reaction was for all of Vulcan... or just within her.

She sent off the brief message then moved out onto the balcony. T'Khut was at its closest point tonight. Suitable she thought considering Sarek was sure it guided this world's progress. She had spoken with him at great length the night of the concert, and had pointed out to him how illogical that was. He had agreed with a slight smile playing at his lips... she regretted not noticing that he had been seeking her out as a bondmate. Then again, even on Vulcan there would have been talk of one of Sarek's stature taking a mate less than half his age. Or one who had been a servant of the ancient ways.

Even Vulcans can be unthinking.

Taurik read through the message, totally surprised that he had received it. Her tone was so different than before. It was not a long message, and there was little content but the sentiment was there. Kareel seemed very... alone now.

*****2371 at Veridian III...

Taurik sat at his console, he had only a few moments and then he had to report to Engineering. Matters had not been going well and the ship held an atmosphere of foreboding. He tapped out Kareel's address and then began his message:

"The ship is in eminent danger. I do not know if all hands will survive. I wanted to see this safely into your hands...(he included the poem that he had written for her) I will send you another message if I see this mission through."

Taurik tapped in the send command just as the ship rocked. He looked to the screen; it flashed that the message had been sent. His quarters went dark. He waited a moment until his eyes adjusted to the dim lighting of the emergency lights. He tapped his comm-pin, "LaForge, I am on deck 12. Is there anything that needs repair close to this area?"

LaForge answered with a short list of items. Taurik moved to the compartment that held a personal set of repair tools. "On my way."


Favouring her newly splinted arm for a moment, Judi Zala knocked on the propped open door then stepped into his quarters. She looked around, everything was in total destruction, or so it seemed. "I came to see how you faired?"

Taurik righted a chair then gestured for her to sit down. "Not too bad. I did not have too many breakables." He smiled slightly, "How did your quarters fair?"

She grinned, "Not bad. That coating you devised for the glass globes seemed to have worked. Not one broke." She sighed, fatigue was setting in. "Where are you getting transferred to?"

"Starbase Four Five and then on to another deep space assignment." Taurik had only his personal belongings to collect and then he was done here. He folded his arms and looked to the human. This was the first time in three point seven years that they were being separated. He would miss her. "And you?"

"I will be sent to Starbase Four Five but I will be staying there for a bit." She indicated her arm. "After that..." she shrugged. The closeness that she once had with Taurik had been lost, but they had managed with a great deal of effort to salvage their friendship.

"Do you require any assistance packing?" Taurik knew how much she had accumulated over the years. "I will be finished here soon."

"Mine is done. Max helped me pack all my globes into the crate. Having it beamed in and then out of the quarters, made for a fast job." Judi had been worried about requiring more than the one large crate, maximum, assigned to each person as they transferred their belongings onto their next assignments.

"Max is better then?" Taurik's friend had suffered damage to his legs. Max had been fitted with a clear cast temporarily and would be given further treatment. Max was being delivered to a different facility, one that could deal with his rehabilitation.

"He is managing. I wouldn't say he's better though." Judi stood and reached under the overturned table and pulled out the lanka-gar bird statue. "It looks like this survived for the most part. Just the support broke." She pulled out the base as well.

"It is appreciated." Taurik placed the pieces into the crate he had been filling with his personal items. "I have just my clothing to pack... so you wish to keep me company?"

Judi nodded, "Sure."

Taurik had already checked through his quarters and had discovered that his firepot had been destroyed in the crash. It was not surprising. He was pleased that he had the forethought to scan his at home and have a replicated version sitting in his room. He pulled his duffle bags out from under the heap of clothes. The bar in his closet had broken and his clothes had spilled all over the floor.

Judi moved over to his bureau, "Do you mind? It will cut your time in half."

"Your assistance is appreciated." Taurik began to fold or roll his uniforms into the duffle bag. The crash of the Enterprise was traumatic for a great many of the crew. Taurik had heard of some returning to their quarters and finding themselves unable to continue; to do anything but sit and stare. He had helped a few of those individuals out of their quarters and to sickbay. It was not a pleasant time for anyone.


The U.S.S. Oshu'a, named after the mythological volcano spirit, was honoured to have Lieutenant Taurik aboard the vessel. His rise in rank had come with the transfer. He was to serve as third in command for the engineering section aboard this science vessel. A Nebula-class starship, and definitely smaller than the Galaxy-class ship that he had become accustomed to. Despite having a mostly Vulcan crew, with a human captain, it had a comfortable feel to it.

Taurik tossed his duffle bags onto his bed and looked around at his new and larger quarters. For the first time in his career, in fact in his life, he would have a room of his own. Also he was closer to 'officer territory' now. He moved into the common area and had a look around. He found the perfect place for the lanka-gar bird immediately. A shelf that was tucked into a corner, he would see it every morning and it was visible from where ever you stood in the room.

He returned to the bedroom and pulled out the wrapped statue. He placed it on the shelf. He stepped back and eyed it carefully. He stared at it for a moment then stepped forward and turned it slightly. The repair that he had made to the support was not even noticeable. He stepped back again, then nodded.

Taurik felt a sudden pang of guilt, he had not written to Kareel some time. The last message he had sent was just a short message informing her of his survival. He wondered why he should feel this way; it was not as if there was an exchange of letters on a consistent basis. He was usually the one doing all the writing. He headed back into the bedroom to unpack and to investigate his new 'home'. He was scheduled to report for duty in twenty-seven hours, just enough time to orient himself to the ship and to scan the files of the personnel he would be working with.

Taurik sat in the recreation area with his meal. He had chosen a quiet out-of-the-way spot, where he could observe the activities. This was the equivalent to the Enterprise's Ten-Forward and despite its size, it seemed to serve well. The personnel seemed to be comfortable with one another. He had not seen a group of Vulcans without another species present, nor had he seen any Vulcans being ostracized.

His plan was to take a quick tour of the engineering section and then some meditation was in order. His plan was shortened slightly when a crewmember stopped at his table.

"Lieutenant Taurik?" After Taurik's nod, the officer gestured to the empty seat opposite him. "Do you mind some company?"

"Not at all." Taurik was just finishing off his meal. He pushed the plate to the side and concentrated on the excellent coffee this ship had to offer.

"I am Commander Victor Elliot. I thought I would come over here and welcome you in person." Elliot looked around the room as if looking for someone. "The XO was in here... I guess she headed back to the bridge. Chief Engineer T'Zarla is easy to get along with but she won't tolerate any stupidity." He smiled, "I guess comments like that are useless to you. Sorry." He was as nervous as any one when he met new personnel. There was always the difficult period of fitting them into the dynamics that were already there.

"The comments are not useless. It is good to know how one sees one's command officers. From my limited observation, it appears that this ship runs well and the crew has an excellent rapport with one another." Taurik sipped on the coffee, "And your coffee is exceptional."

"Not a tea drinker?" Elliot smiled, he felt himself relaxing. This was going to be an easier transition than he thought.

"A habit that I acquired." Taurik was feeling more relaxed as well. "I was planning on heading down to Engineering for a quick tour. Is it a bad time for it or are you busy?"

"No not at all, as it works out I am off duty for the rest of the day so I can give you the grand tour." Elliot stood, straightened out his jacket. He waited while Taurik placed all the dishes in the recycler. "So you worked under Geordi LaForge? How is he doing?"

"Acceptable." Taurik stated as he fell into step beside Commander Elliot. "His temporary re-assignment to the Royal Coronation was just a stop-over until the Enterprise-E was being finished."

"He must have been devastated when his ship was destroyed." Elliot could empathize with that feeling, he had lost a few ships along the way because of battles.

"The entire crew felt its loss." Taurik stated.

Elliot looked at this Vulcan, "A surprising answer coming from a Vulcan."

Taurik's only comment was to lift an eyebrow. The rest of the trip to the engineering deck was quiet.

Taurik sat down at the console in his quarters after the lengthy tour. He was surprised to find two messages waiting for him. Notes of 'smooth sailing' from Judi and Max along with their next assignments. He was appreciative of the information and that both still wished to remain in contact with him. He composed a few quick messages to send back, then moved onto the message he would send to Kareel.


The rains on Vulcan were the hardest they had been in a long time. So hard that travel had become difficult. Kareel stood on the balcony and watched the rain. She had come out to Sakev's house yesterday and was stranded here by the weather overnight and well into the next day. She pulled the coverlet tighter as she felt an unaccustomed shiver. Her thoughts went back to the message she had received from Taurik; she was not certain what to make of it. She was not surprised at his promotion but she was curious as to the change in the tone of the letter. Perhaps it was nothing more than that. It was odd that she should think of the month-old letter now.

Her ears picked up the slight sound of the heating unit shutting off. She had placed a serving of stew from the stasis unit into it. It was a recipe she had prepared for Sakev once before. She moved back inside, gathered the bowl and the kreyla bread and sat at the table facing the large window. She had music playing in the background and was 'enjoying' her time on her own here. She had stopped in numerous times over the years but had not stayed for any length of time before.

She knew it was illogical to want to increase the temperature in the house, but the dampness seemed to be creeping in. She decided that she would eat and then take her book to bed with her along with additional covers. The rain was expected to stop by morning.

Kareel was surprised when the comm-unit sounded. She went to the unit and touched the button that would identify the caller. She controlled her shock; it was Taurik. "Most interesting." She tapped in the sequence that would open the frequency. "Lieutenant Taurik, this is most unexpected. I trust you are well." Taurik's image had changed. He was older, and he had a beard, it suited him.

"Reldai Kareel, I am pleased that I was able to contact you. For a limited time the ship is close enough for direct communication." Taurik could not see any change in her. She was exactly how he had remembered her to be. "I am well. Yourself?"

"I am well."

"I am surprised to discover you are at the house."

"I came here to inspect the garden. The rains were heavier than anticipated and I could not travel back. It was not my intention to remain."

"The house was intended for your use as well." Taurik was unsure of what to discuss with her. He wanted to see her and to hear her voice for some reason, and that is why he made the call, only hoping for her usual quick reply. It was most fortuitous that she was there. He had only expected to leave a message for her.

"Your duty is going well?"

"Yes. It is a change that I welcome. The added responsibility has been a challenge." Taurik tapped his fingertips on the desktop, "How heavy are the rains?" There was always the weather to fall back on when you didn't know what to talk about.

"The underground reservoirs are full. The ground is becoming saturated." She looked out to the rain still falling. "The air is damp and the aircars are not functioning."

"No, they wouldn't." Taurik leaned back slightly. "How close is T'Khut?" He remembered the sister world being so close that it would fill the sky. During visits in his youth, he had been certain that if he could reach up just a little higher, he would touch it.

"It is at its perigee." Kareel drew the slipping coverlet into a more comfortable position around her shoulders. "I am capable of routing the visual readings from the outside monitors if you wish."

"No. Your descriptions are sufficient." He liked hearing her voice; there was a comforting feel to it for him. "Have you been out on the balcony watching the rain?"

Kareel bowed her head slightly, hiding the slight blush that crossed her face. "I was there earlier."

Taurik nodded in understanding. "I am anxious for leave. I want to head home for it this time."

"Inform me and I will prepare the house for you; ensure there is sufficient food and..."

"There is no need, Reldai. The thought is appreciated." He smiled ever so slightly, "But your company would be appreciated for a meal or two."

"If my time is free, it may be possible." Kareel was lost in this conversation, she was totally uncertain as to why he had called.

Taurik seemed to sense her discomfort. "It is almost time for duty. It was pleasurable to speak with you again." He caught her raised eyebrow. "Live long and prosper, Reldai Kareel."

She bowed her head, "Long life and peace be yours." She reached forward just as he closed his end of the frequency. She turned off the comm-unit. "Interesting."

She returned to watching the rain and eating her meal.

*****One month later...

Taurik slept restlessly. He moaned in his sleep as he whispered a name. He tossed and turned then in a tangle of bedclothes, fell off the bed.

Taurik groaned. This had been the third time that he had awakened up this manner. He lay on the carpeted decking for a few moments then sat up. He let out a frustrated sigh and leaned on the bed. "If this keeps up I will have to add side rails to the bed." He stretched then untangled himself from the sheet and blankets that were wrapped around him in the most peculiar manner.

He leaned back against the bed then slowly stood, pulling the blankets up onto the bed. He thought a moment, "Today I am off duty, thank the Powers." He sighed. He would shower and change into his meditation robe. He looked to the meditation stone to the side; he would spend some time there today. Perhaps that would soothe his thoughts.

Habitually after his shower he went to the replicator and ordered coffee, fruit and oatmeal. It looked and smelled very appetizing this morning. He sat down at the table and took a sip of coffee; it tasted very good today. The yon-savas, Vulcan fire fruit, was exceptionally good as was the oatmeal.

After his morning meal, Taurik knelt on the meditation stone. He drew in a deep breath and began to reach down through the layers of his thoughts. He had studied more and more over the years; the information Kareel had sent him long ago had helped immensely. After that intruding notion, his thoughts drifted upwards. He had found it difficult to remain in the deepest levels.

He gave up, after a time his eyes rested on the lanka-gar statue. He considered the thought that surfaced. "It is a possibility."


Kareel found herself at the house once again without a logical reason. She felt restless.

She sat at the table in the kitchen and reached into the bag she had brought from the market. She pulled out the pla-savas; she was hoping that this one was almost black on the inside. She broke it opened and the juice ran down her hand. She reached for the napkin and caught the drips before they went down her sleeve. She bit into the fruit. It was juicy and sweet. She wiped the juice from her chin then licked it from her lips.

She stood, slipped off her outer robes. Dressed only in her tunic and pants, she began to wander the house. She continued to enjoy the fruit as she went from room to room, then stopped at the door of the room that Taurik had used. She had not been in here at all. She slid the door open and peeked in. There was nothing in this room to signify that it had been occupied, yet she was certain she could detect a hint of the soap he would use.

"Illogical," she muttered to herself as she continued in and sat on the bed. The piece of fruit was finished and she wiped the last of the juice from her mouth and fingers. She stretched out on the bed, closed her eyes and wondered what Taurik was doing about his ship.


Commander Elliot looked over at the Vulcan officer that was usually very efficient. If he had to use a word to describe him lately, it would be distracted. He had a suspicion about what was wrong, but did not know how to approach him about it. That was always the difficulty.

Taurik slipped out of the tight opening he was working in and tossed the broken circuit to the deck. He sighed. It was the third circuit board he ruined. He covered his face with his hands and sighed once again. It was the night shift and most personnel were sleeping. These last few days he had requested a transfer to this shift. He had found it most annoying to be around so many people during the day.

"Coffee?" Elliot offered Taurik a cup.

Taurik turned to the officer. He looked at the cup and then to Elliot. He felt almost uncertain as to what everything was, and then it clicked. He accepted the cup.

Elliot looked to Taurik, "Take some time off if you need it. You aren't doing any good here."

"Perhaps, you may have a point." Taurik put his cup down then reached for his tunic. "I have found the temperature increasingly cold as well." He picked the cup up again but never took a sip, even though that had been his intention.

Elliot nodded. "I will speak to the XO about the use of a shuttle."

Taurik nodded his appreciation and succumbed to the human's logic. He wondered what he would do once he arrived on Vulcan. He did not have a bond-mate anymore. He was going there... trusting that Kareel would accept him. He shivered. What if she did not want him in this fashion? What if he went all the way to Vulcan and there was no one? He would die.

Elliot took the untouched coffee from Taurik's hand before he dropped it. He had watched it tilt twice now, without spilling. "Go get some rest. You have only another thirty minutes of your shift left."

Taurik bowed his head, "Thank you, Commander." He headed to his quarters, stopping only once to re-orient himself. If he relaxed, he may have realized how far this had gone. He should have contacted her before now, but he had been afraid of the possibility of her refusal.

He stepped into his quarters and tore off his uniform. It was constricting and warm. He lay on his bed and closed his eyes. This time he felt the fire teasing at his thoughts. He moaned as his body began reacting to just the thought of her.


The acolyte walked silently towards the chambers, then waited for a response. She heard movement and waited patiently. The mental call was all that was needed then the door slid open. Reldai Kareel bowed her head. It was evident even to the acolyte, who had rarely seen Kareel, that she was exhausted. "Honoured Reldai, there is one that seeks an audience with you. He is most insistent."

Kareel sighed. She needed to rest, to meditate. She had just seen another through the plak tow and was finally alone. She could not even deal with a conversation at the moment. "Two days. I will see him in two days. If he needs someone badly enough... there are others that serve."

The acolyte bowed her head and returned to the waiting area to inform the male officer.

Taurik accepted the acolyte's message with some difficulty. He had asked her to repeat most of it twice. His hands were clenched and his words carefully measured as his thoughts seemed to leave his head occasionally. He wasn't sure he would make it back to his quarters... no, he told himself he was planet side, it was the house he was going to. He was sure he had come into this room by turning right, but when he turned right he walked into a wall. He swore under his breath then turned the way he was instructed to by the acolyte. She had asked if he required assistance to reach his house but he waved her off and said he would be fine. Thankfully the air-car was equipped with automatic program feature. He took the stairs slowly and followed the twist in them to reach his air-car and headed back to the house. Mount Seleya had been his first stop.

He entered the house and dropped his bags at the door. He made it to his bedroom and flopped onto the bed. He closed his eyes, he was certain her unique scent was on his pillow. Surely he was dreaming. His body shivered and he wondered if he had two days left.

He kicked off his boots then shrugged off his tunic, flinging both to the floor. He pulled up the covers and closed his eyes to sleep this time. He trusted he would dream as he had for the past week. The dreams were haunting, a mixture of his first bonding: she who had remained with him just long enough to quench the mating fires... she had desired a life-commitment with another. And then there was the one that he trusted would save him this time... would she be there for him?

He shot up out of bed then furiously stripped off the remainder of his uniform. The fabrics were too constricting and had become irritating. Everything was left where it landed and he crawled back into the bed. He lay there drifting between fitful sleep and taunting wakefulness. He thought only of attaining her. There was nothing else except death. His body refused to calm for any length of time and self-gratification only helped for a short time. It did nothing to satisfy the craving in his mind.

Kareel could not sleep. She got up from her bed irritated. She poured a glass of juice and drank that down. She had dreams that she could not understand. She stretched her body, feeling each muscle as it reached its limit then relaxed. She turned suddenly, she was certain she had felt a touch.

"Nonsense." She slipped on her robe and wrapped it closed then stepped out onto the balcony. It was night, and most of the desert animals were active at this time. It was cooler. She listened to the animals' calls to one another. She pulled her hair out from underneath the robe in the back... the robe fell open. She shivered from the cool night air touching her. She pulled it tighter around her. For some reason the colder night air relaxed her body, and the phantom touches seemed to stop as well.

After a short time she decided to try to sleep again.

Taurik's breathing was fast; his heart was pounding and his body shivered. He cried out as his body found its own release. He woke up moaning and tangled in the sheets again. The warmer covers had been tossed to the floor during his sleep. He sat up and decided on a shower. The soiled sheets were gathered up and tossed to the side for now.

He was grateful that when the house was built, his uncle had a water shower installed. They had been considered a fad that would disappear with the aliens that had brought them.

The hot water felt good. The water against his skin felt refreshing and unfortunately... mildly stimulating. His hand wrapped around his aching hardness and within a few strokes his body shook with another release. He adjusted the water to its coldest, hoping that the human adage was true. The water felt icy, like sharp needles against his skin. He endured it for as long as he could and then some. He turned the water off with shaky hands and continued to shiver as he wrapped a thick robe around him. He returned to the bed, straightened out the fresh covers and slipped in shivering his way to a feverish sleep once again. His mind refused to calm and in no time was back to the most outlandish dreams a Vulcan could have.

Kareel woke up cold, shivering despite having the usual thermal blanket covering her. She reached for the heavier robe and slipped it on; just holding it closed for now. She decided to begin her day. She poured juice, had some fruit and kreyla bread for first-meal. None of this seemed to make any sense; there was no reason why she should have been sleeping so fitfully. She also pushed away half of her untouched meal. She meditated unsuccessfully for some time, and was not prepared for much when the acolyte called to her again.

She slid open the door and bowed her head.

The young girl kept her head bowed slightly, "Honoured Reldai, the male has returned."

"Show him to my outer chambers." Kareel had almost sighed but she had contained the urge. She was not in the mood to deal with another male. She would see him and most likely assign someone else.

Taurik had been most grateful for the watch Judi had given him some years ago. He depended on it today. His sense of time had left him and he also required a driver today. There was no way he could have managed to arrive safely, if at all. The chair that he sat in was comfortable, too comfortable. It held his arms at the perfect angle, his back was supported and if he tilted his head back slightly, there was a headrest. He closed his eyes and tried to remain in control of his faculties. Thoughts still plagued him concerning the what-if's, no matter how illogical it was.

The young girl stood in front of the male, but kept her distance. Even she had been trained to note the symptoms of plak tow, no matter how subtle. This male appeared to be in the last stages but was still able to function. He had only a few more hours or days and then his life would be in jeopardy. "Lieutenant." She recalled his rank from two days ago. She was the one that had greeted him then and today he was dressed in loose fitting pants and tunic. He looked very different. She raised her voice slightly adding a firmer tone to it. "Lieutenant."

Taurik raised his head. "Yes."

"You are to follow me."

Taurik nodded then stood. He wavered slightly, reaching to the wall for support. He focused his eyes on her form and hoped that his body would cooperate and take him to the chambers. He followed her ignoring the others that passed them in the hallway, concentrating only on her and making his legs move.

The acolyte slid open the door then gestured for this male to enter. She gestured towards the chair but it was refused. He clasped his hands behind his back and remained this way, waiting.

Taurik knew if he sat down, he would not be able to stand again. He was only marginally aware of the acolyte that stood near-by. His thoughts were red and hazy at the moment that could not focus without a great deal of effort.

Kareel entered from her private room and stopped cold. She had not expected it to be Taurik, if it was he. She bowed her head to the acolyte, "Return to your duties."

"Honoured Reldai." The young girl bowed her head then left as quietly as she could.

Kareel kept her distance. "Lieutenant Taurik?" She took a step closer. "Why have you come here?"

"I thought the reason would have been obvious." Taurik sighed heavily. His breathing was deep and it was becoming more and more difficult to concentrate.

"Why would it be obvious?"

"The poem I sent."

"What poem? I did not receive a poem." She frowned, "When did you send this poem?"

"You never said that you refused, I assumed..."

Kareel held her breath, "Assumed?"

Taurik was becoming tired. "I sent it from the Enterprise... just before it... it was destroyed." He sighed then dropped to his knees. He bowed his head. "Then your answer is no?" His awareness was subsiding into the fiery haze.

"Answer to what?" Kareel paced a few times back and forth in front of him, but still keeping her distance. This was not making any sense. She could see the signs, but she was not prepared in any way to service this one in the ancient ways. And her confusion continued.

Taurik sat back on his heels. This was unfair, he had assumed that she had considered the matter and had chosen to become his mate. "A bonding."

"A bonding?" Kareel felt as if she was having this conversation for someone else. "Between...?"

"You and I." Taurik ran his hand down his face. He tried to find the energy to leave... but could not. He required an answer a simple yes or no and the course of his life or death would be set.

Kareel walked away a few steps then turned to face him. "Do you know what my function is?"

It was Taurik's turn to be totally surprised and confused by the question. "You are a priestess. You serve Gol and the people of Vulcan."

"That is part of it."

"Kareel, I have no clear thought to follow this conversation. All I require is an answer." He unfastened the top of his shirt. He was so hot. "The poem... do you wish to hear the poem?"

"If you wish..." Kareel thought perhaps that would give her the time to work out how to explain all of this to him. A bonding? she thought to herself.

"Desert bird... Desert heat." He drew in a breath. "A Burning in my veins... A Burning in my mind.... Ever-present." He paused, closed his eyes and tried to recall the words. "A Touch as cool as silk. Skin as warm as the desert's breath... To Taste thy breath... would be... exquisite." His voice changed, became deeper, as his beseeching stare bore into her. "My mind sings for thee." He drew in a long deep breath, "My body craves thee. A forbidden desire? One that should be controlled... Control is not desired..." He almost chuckled, "I wish only the forbidden desire... You... against my body... deep within my mind." He looked up to Kareel, meeting her eyes, just as he spoke the last word. "Burning..."

Kareel had never considered this, had never considered Taurik. But he had at times, dominated her thoughts. And of late he seemed to creep into her deepest ones. Now, as he knelt at her feet, he touched her, his simple poem had touched her to the core.

"It is in your hands, Kareel..." his voice now very somber, the finality of it all... be it with her or his death... was causing him to loose his strength.

None had even cherished her before, not since Sokar... to Sarek she would have been a logical addition to his collection, one could say... but the thought now occurred to her that Taurik would rather go out in the desert and die... right now... before continuing on without her. He had waited all this time... Perhaps, she saw for the first time, the darkness in his eyes. His passion had been evident before while they had been at Sakev's house. But she had attributed that to his youth. Even then she had seen that trait as attractive but had never dreamed that it may be her hand that would quench it. He was burning... and he wanted... her.

"Kareel..." Taurik cleared his throat, his voice raspy from his fever and from his attempts to control. He did not have much time. He moved up onto his knees again. "Thee has the power of my life... or thee has the power of my death..." His body was beginning to ache from his need. He would lose all sense of reality very soon. "Thee must choose..."

Kareel swallowed. She knelt in front of him. He was not the childish man that she had remembered him to be. This choice would mean leaving here if only for a time. Definitely her service would change. A child? In his eyes she saw the possibility. Her breathing had deepened and she could feel the heat radiating from him. She felt certain of her passions, they had been there all of these years. He was the one. "It is illogical to protest against our Natures..." She lifted her hands part way to touch the meld points, hesitated then lowered them.

"Kareel..." Taurik pleaded with her, "It has to be now..." His head dropped back as he moaned. His body would not listen to his mind any longer.

She licked her lips, "As it was in the dawn of our days, as it is today, as it will be for all tomorrows, I make my choice..." She drew in a breath as she reached for his thoughts. "I choose thy life Taurik'cha Doshik."

His hands reached blindly to her face and his fingers moved into positions that they had memorized since they were young. He felt the control that she had. She took his confusion and calmed it, but it did not calm the burning. He felt her reach into his thoughts and quickly move to the center of his being to mark him as hers. For all of time.

Instinctively, for the briefest of moments, she blocked his attempt to reach into her thoughts, and then guided him to the bonding place. She felt his fire and his need for her. It had been so long since she had felt this... so long since she had derived such satisfaction and delight.

"Parted from me and never parted. Never and always touching... and touched... we are one." Ancient words spoken together that would bind them for all time.

Her hands caressed his face, his skin so hot and his beard was silky soft. Not at all what she expected, few Vulcans would consider growing a beard. Perhaps his time with humans had helped in this decision. Her fingers ran over his lips as they called to her in a whisper. She closed her eyes as his fingertips ran over her face. He slipped his hand over hers, brought it to his mouth and brushed his lips over the back of her hand.

She moaned at his touch. Very unusual considering she was the one who would set the pace for matings. There was a certain pleasure in relinquishing that power. She ran her hand along his strong shoulders and across his firm chest. His young body was so hot. She had become accustomed to the mature bodies of her elderly patrons.

"I wanted you from the first time I saw you..." He drew in a long breath trying to keep himself from passing out. His fingers moved into her white silky hair. "This fascinated me so... but you thought of me as a child."

"You are not a child." She lifted his hand then brushed her lips against his palm. His body shivered.

"No." Taurik drew his fingers down her throat then hesitated at opening her robe. "I am not." He bent his head brushing his lips against her skin. "I could not stop thinking about you."

"I ask forgiveness for not seeing this." She breathed in his scent, a spiciness that suited him. "My thoughts were centered on serving Sakev..." She drew her finger down from his lip, "That juice that was running down your chin..." She kissed his bearded chin realizing that her passion, her love for him was emerging with each shared memory.

Taurik smiled. "My mind was on other matters." He brushed her hair back, exposing her neck. He recalled how he had considered how to approach Sarek in a challenge. Fortunately, it never came to that, the matter had seemed to dissolve on its own. His lips and fingertips brushed her skin. He moved the fabric from her shoulders; the robe fell down to the rise of her breasts. He leaned forward and tasted her skin. It was warmer, softer and sweeter than he had imagined.

She lifted his head as she shrugged her robe back into place. "Come." She stood. "We have merely bonded. We will be more comfortable in my room." She was loosing her hold on his plak tow already. She had found a desire to share this. Even though she could have deceived him into believing that he was sharing her thoughts... as she did many times with others.

Taurik stood slowly. He wondered where all the disorientation had gone, but he still burned. He had always known she was telepathically stronger than he. He followed her willingly into the adjoining room. He would have followed her into the vacuum of space at the moment, so blind was his trust of her.

A large bed dominated the room. Pillows, of all different sizes and shapes, were tossed in a corner and on the other side of the room was a simple pallet. It never occurred to him to question any of this. Taurik turned, closed the door then lifted her chin. "How I have waited for this, my Desert Bird."

Kareel drew him to the side of the bed then with very little argument from him, began to undress him. Her shields were lowered slowly and she began to feel his fire again. She climbed onto the bed urging him to join her. He did not hesitate. She shivered as his hands slipped the fabric from her shoulders. This time it dropped in a pool on the bed.

Taurik felt the uncontrollable fires again. "I want thee." His hands ran down the sides of her body. "I need thee." His mouth rested on her shoulder as he pulled her closer. "The first time... in a long time..." He urged her down to the bed. He lay down beside her. His fingers trailed down her body. He moved over her placing one knee between her legs. "I burn for thee."

"As it should be, my T'hy'la." She reached up to his face, placing her fingers at the meld points. "Thy thoughts."

"They are yours..." Taurik covered her slowly with his body, both gasped at the touch of one another. His hands moved to her face.

And they fell into the dark swirl that was the joining of two minds. The mating fires slowly wicked their way into her thoughts. They moaned and reached in deeper to one another, taking as much as they were giving. Their breathing and heartbeats became a shared rhythm. His heat had risen to the level it was before. He could see little through the fiery green haze but his body knew what it craved... what it needed for survival. She was his survival.

Kareel felt his hardness slip into her body. She closed her eyes and drew him in deeper. She was loosing herself with him; she had not experienced this with any of the others she had served. The burning was teasing at her thoughts and at her very being, drawing her into him. She had forgotten what this was like. She caressed his body pulling him closer as he began to move within her. She felt his body shiver with hers. She felt the warm fluid pumping into her.

Instead of serving to relieve some of the tension and drive, this seemed to fuel it. His body pushed into her, his mouth tasted her skin and his hands caressed whatever he could reach of her. His entire being seemed to crave only one activity and he groaned at the unsatisfied cravings that were surfacing yet again.

"More..." He felt her legs wrap around his waist. Her hands repositioning themselves on his face and he felt her reach in to his thoughts. "Yes," he moaned and drove his body into her harder and deeper than before. His body shivered and as he felt the growing warmth, which was gone in a sudden burst into her body.

He breathed in deeply, trying to calm his breathing. He called to her. Tasted her skin, marked her skin with nips and shivered from her touch on his body. He had to have all of her, immediately, over and over again.

Kareel calmed his panic. She soothed him with her voice and with her touch. Their thoughts were joined now and would be until one fell asleep or lost consciousness. She shared his cravings and found him most pleasing. Her hands felt the movement of his muscles under his skin as she caressed his back. She tasted him and finally captured his mouth with hers in a bruising kiss.

After hours of this activity they finally fell asleep, the covers had been awkwardly pulled up.

The morning light that streaked into the room was hard to take. Taurik rolled over facing the wall. He knew he would not remain here for long; his body was beginning to ache for hers. He had the most interesting dreams, some of which were a result of the sharing of thoughts. With any melding, this was something that one was trained to deal with. To a Vulcan, another's memories would seem almost as a dream. And during Pon farr it was common for a Vulcan to dream.

He felt her move closer to him, her body pressed up against his, matching his position. He loved how she would fit so tightly up against him. Her hand slipped into his, her lips brushed the back of his neck. He did not want to move and thankfully no one was insisting that he did. He shifted slightly; the plak tow still had a hold on his mind and body. Curiously, his desires for control were completely absent from his thoughts.

Kareel slipped her hand from his, then slowly caressed her way down his back, down to his thighs. He reacted to even this light touch. Her hand moved around his waist and wrapped around his penis. He moaned and ran his hand down her arm. She slipped her arm under the shared pillow wrapping her arm over his shoulder. She pulled him tightly against her, her lips making a path of wet kisses along his shoulder. She slipped her knee between his legs, her hand beginning to caress and stroke his penis. As he would breathe, he would moan softly and it sent shivers along her body.

Taurik ached for satisfaction and for her. He tried to roll onto his back but she was in behind him too tightly. He wrapped his arm around her neck, twisting his body slightly to do so. He managed to roll partially onto his back. "I do not want you behind me."

"It could be interesting." She smiled then extricated herself from the twist of bodies. She allowed him to lie on his back as he wished to. She caressed his chest and played over his nipples, tasting them as they hardened. She moved lower with her brief touches, followed closely with gentle kisses, finally reaching his hips. His hands were lost in her snowy hair, as he brushed it back and held it out of the way. She wrapped her hand around his hardness, her thumb spreading the precum that was already leaking.

Taurik held his breath and arched his back as her mouth slowly engulfed him. His body shivered. He moaned as her tongue began to caress his length. His hand clenched in the length of hair. "Yes." He wanted any touch possible from her right now. It felt good as the cooler air touched the wet skin, and even better when her mouth claimed it again.

Taurik endured this for as long as he could then called to her, pulling her up beside him. His body covered hers. He nuzzled her neck and bit into her soft flesh. He slipped into her easily. Her hands moved quickly to his face and her thoughts moved smoothly into his, caressing each nerve, igniting the fires that claimed his sensibilities. He moved with a new-found rhythm, one that he trusted they would share for a long time. His body shivered as his release came. He pulled her to him and rolled onto his back, holding her tightly to his still demanding body. He ran his hands up and down her back and into her hair. "So soft." He licked at her neck, tasted her lips and pulled her to him. Deepening the contact, his fingers moved to tease at her thoughts, sharing what he could not get enough of. He trailed the fingers of one hand down her body as he reached into her thoughts with the other.

Kareel moaned softly against his neck, her mouth nipping at his skin. Her fingers traced patterns against his skin, moving slowly down his body. Neither could get enough of the other. Drawing one into her mouth, her tongue teased his hard nipples until he moaned. She worked down his chest to his stomach then lower. Her mouth licked up the length and watched as it hardened again. The need was still there. She tasted him. He urged her on with moans and whispers. His hands moved into her silky white hair. She gently nipped at the ridges, sucked on the tip then swallowed him slowly... his body released the fluid, pumping it down her throat.

She rolled onto her back after he was satisfied and sighed. She shared the hunger and the fulfillment in this bonding and knew it was not near its end yet. His fingers wrapped around her hand and they lay there for some time drifting in and out of sleep and each other's thoughts.


Kareel sat at the foot of the bed and watched him sleep. The feeling was so strong that she could barely contain it. She cherished him; this man who had sent her messages for nearly seven years, this man who moved with a casual air, this man with hands that swept away her lonely past, this man whose thoughts stoked her basest instincts. Perhaps that was the reason she had denied him for so long and had denied herself the possibilities. It was not the Vulcan way to embrace or to seek an experience for the sheer sensory delight... for he was a delight to see and feel and know. In turn, Kareel the concubine of Gol, had her heart resurrected by this man of the stars. Enough speculation, she rebuked herself. This simple feeling was to be reveled in, not categorized. This was the sole purpose of the mating ritual, to bond with not only your cherished desire but with all of Vulcans' past. For these brief days, the heart is tasted and savored until the next mating time.

She had taken the time to eat. She knew that when he woke she would insist that he eat as well. He was not sleeping well. The tossing and turning had awakened her but only for a short time. She would fall back to sleep in spite of the disturbance. It had been five days and the plak tow was only beginning to lessen. There were longer periods of rest now. At one point, she had changed the bed while he showered. She barely had the new bedding on and he was urging her down onto it again. He had made her laugh; it was a sound she had not heard in years. He made her crave what he was offering her. The touches, the sharing and a future that was different from what she had envisioned hers to be. This one had provoked fire in her. His cherished face looked quite content as he slept. She too shared the contentment.

She drew her knees up, wrapped her arms around her legs and wondered what her life would be like now. Her hand slid along his covered thigh, and he squirmed just a bit. Her gaze shot up to see him lick his lips. His legs parted slightly, a reaction to her touch and his desires. Her fingertips grazed along his thigh... up and over his hip. Taurik murmured. She halted her movements, she did not want to wake him, merely enjoy staring at him. His strong bearded chin, even nose, dark upswept eyebrows, lush eyelashes... and when he opened his compelling eyes and looked at her, she knew he would take her breath away. Why had she not seen it before? She realized that she had known all along, but never wanted to admit to it. Never wanted to allow herself to want this.

She never had to consider all of this before. Bonded she could not serve others as she had been. That was a certainty then it occurred to her. How will he react to her vocation? There would be time for that consideration and how to deal with his reaction.

On a certain level he now understood. All that they were was shared and known through the bond. She had still shielded some information from him, especially the details of her duties as temporary consort. But he was unable to hold anything back from her. His satisfactory childhood, the rejection from his intended, even his brother’s disappearance, were all now known to Kareel. Once the fires wore down though, he would have to face the truth, as would she: Taurik was bonded to a concubine. Former concubine, she mentally amended. She would also have to speak to her son, Sekre. That information too she had kept from her new husband. Telling Sekre of the changes in her life may prove to be even more difficult.

Taurik turned slightly, his eyes fluttered open. "Kareel?"

"I am here." She waited for him to wake up a little more. Until now when he woke she was usually sleeping up against him, in some position. "I have food for you."

"Not hungry for food." Taurik smiled at her. He shifted slightly then propped his head up on his hand. "But I know what I am hungry for..." He reached for her, feeling some satisfaction in just the connection to her.

"You must eat." Kareel moved up the bed so she could reach to the tray of food and drink. "We can talk then consider other activities."

He lifted an eyebrow, "Oh we will, will we?" He watched her as she reached for a piece of fruit then offered it to him. He opened his mouth, teasing her to feed him. His hand caressed the length of her thigh.

Kareel popped the fruit in his mouth. "Do you still burn?"

Taurik licked his lips. "I will always burn for you." He sat up pulling the covers over him. He reached for another piece of fruit and touched it to her lips, "If I eat, you eat." He grabbed a slice of kreyla bread and broke off a piece. "Do you wish to leave here?"

"When?" she hastily replied.

"Soon," he smiled at her eagerness. "We could go to the house." He reached to touch her cheek. "I want to be there with you." He moved onto his knees, the blankets slipped down. He moved closer to her and wrapped his arms around her pulling her to him. "And if we do not leave soon, we will be here for another day." He lifted her chin then brushed her lips with his.

Kareel whispered her agreement.


The air-car came to a smooth stop just outside of the large house. Taurik was the first out of the air-car, grabbing the bag from the back as he moved around to the other side. He wanted to pull her to him. The fever was taking hold again and he did not want it controlled. This was too enjoyable.

Kareel swung her legs out then stood. She ran her two fingers down his cheek. "You must wait a few moments more."

Taurik headed towards the entrance first, his palm touched the ident-panel and the door slid open. He reached to her hand and pulled her into the house. He had tossed the bags off to the side and was now unfastening her travel cape. Tossing it to the side as well, he pulled her close up against him. His eager fingertips ran a path down her cheek, her neck and then leaned forward capturing her mouth. They were both familiar with the human kissing custom.

He pressed his advantage. He backed her up against the wall, his hands searched for the openings in her robes. He tasted her skin as his hands reached in to caress her warm skin. He moved down her body, dropping to his knees as he did. His mouth moved in a path from her stomach down her hip and to her thigh. He felt her hands clenching in his hair, as he moved closer to her sex.

Kareel held her breath. This was most pleasing. Her body shivered as his lips brushed through her silky triangle. His tongue darted out and touched her causing her knees to almost buckle. She heard herself moan his name as he reached deeper with his tongue. His hands gently caressed her legs, urging them apart slightly. She felt her body respond to his touches so quickly and easily. It surprised and pleased her. "Yes. More, T'hy'la," she whispered softly. She felt him play with her nub, it caused her to shiver, and then he began to suck on it. He could take her breath away while doing this. She moaned deep in her throat as her body shuddered with her release.

Taurik held her, as he tasted her. He had felt her knees give out a second time. He rested his head against her stomach for a moment then stood and pulled her into a kiss. His fingers reached into her thoughts without a second thought and he began to tease at her senses. He wanted to surprise her but it was difficult... she was so well trained in her telepathic ability. She rested her head against his shoulder. He listened to her uneven breathing and her whispered pleasures. His finger ran along the outline of her elegantly pointed ear and then along her jaw. Through his touch on her body he felt her hunger for more and her pleasure with him.

Taurik held her hands urging her towards the bedroom. He slipped her outer robe off, letting it drop on the floor. The second robe was of silk and was soft and slipped off her body so very easily. His mouth made a path of kisses along her shoulders as his hands caressed her body, feeling every curve and swell, memorizing it as he guided her towards the bed.

"I can not stop wanting you." Taurik moved over her as she lay back on the bed.

Her impatient hands began to work at his clothes. She had his top off and his pants unfastened in no time. She slipped his pants down then his naked body covered hers.

"Does this stop?"

Kareel smiled, "Yes it does."

Taurik brushed her mouth with his, "Too bad..."


The steam rose from the large cup and he inhaled the aroma. He looked out into the desert. It was going to rain. He smiled as he considered that maybe it would be as hard as the last rain, when he was talking to her from the ship. He sipped on the hot coffee. It was the first cup of coffee he had in about three weeks. He couldn't stand the smell of it during his plak tow, and he found that he was a little busy to think about coffee. This tasted fantastic!

He looked back at his mate still fast asleep in the bed. They had barely made it here. All the way over he had been touching her, whispering to her all the things he wanted to do. He loved the way she would lift her eyebrow and look at him disbelieving his bold words. He remembered asking her if this stopped and being disappointed that it did.

Her knowledge of the arts of lovemaking was boundless. He may not appreciate how she acquired the experience but it was not logical to refuse or denounce her expert technique. He had no ego to bruise, he knew that none of them, not even Sarek had touched her heart. She had not succumbed to him, but rather had chosen him, made him hers. She had done that long ago when she had greeted him at the door at his Uncle’s house those seven years ago. Taurik now wondered what was going to happen next. He was due to return to the Osha’u in ten days at the most; he wanted Kareel to come with him. He never wanted to be parted from her again.

The first of the drops started just when he was finishing off his coffee. He heard the occasional drop splashing against the glass. He looked up into the sky and watched as the clouds moved in quickly. They were heavy and dark, obscuring the last of the day's light from the sky. He heard a far off rumble and the distant crack of the lightening. He was pleased to be here for the storm, it seldom rained on a desert planet.

"Taurik." His name was spoken sleepily.

Taurik turned from the window and the storm. He smiled. "Finally awake are you?"

"I heard the first of the thunder." She had been watching him. The black silk pants suited him well, particularly because that is all he wore for the moment. "And smelled the coffee." She stretched, pulling the covers over herself. "Come back to bed."

He was pleased she still wanted his company. His concerns surrounding his former bondmate still plagued him. He had also seen how couples on the Osha’u were almost strangers after the plak tow ended. A part of him did not want this with Kareel to end. "I made some tea. Do you want some?"

Kareel nodded, then added as he headed out of the room, "Hurry back." She closed her eyes and snuggled back under the covers. She listened to the storm as it continued to move closer, the rain splattering the glass and the thunder that seemed to get louder each time. She had been caught in the rain only once when she was younger. It was dangerous to be out there without protection. The rain itself was often hard, cold and stinging. Flash flooding was common. Mud-slides were the greatest danger. At least that was the case in her home of Kh'reitekh, the Northern region of Vulcan. Here the rain seemed just as hard but it seemed as if the drier land just absorbed it faster.

Taurik returned to the room carrying a tray with tea, coffee, some fruit and another item Kareel did not recognize. He sat on the bed, cross-legged and the tray was placed between them. He waited while she sat up then handed her the tea. She was wearing a deep blood-green sleeveless gown; it complimented her very well. "I replicated something that I have become fond of... chocolate croissant. It is an earth pastry that can have a variety of flavourings." He offered her a crescent shaped delicacy.

"And these are eaten for first-meal?" Kareel examined the food for a moment then bit into one end.

Taurik watched her for a moment then she placed the remainder of the croissant on his plate. "You do not like it?"

Kareel sipped on the tea a few times. "No. I do not." She reached for a piece of the large fruit and broke it open. "I will eat this for the present."

Taurik nodded, for some reason he felt disappointed that she did not like the taste. He wondered if now was the time to mention the fact that plans had to be made. He sipped on his coffee then cleared his throat. "Kareel, I have to return to the Oshu'a within ten days." He lifted his eyes to meet hers, "I wish you to come with me, if only for a short time."

Kareel swallowed her bite of fruit then cryptically replied, "To abandon the openness of the deserts is an overwhelming consideration.”

“We have holo-decks and the vastness of space. A ship is not that enclosing.” He gently countered while his fingers lightly wiped the juice from her wet lips.

“I had given the matter some thought. It would be only logical that I discover what my bond-mate does. Even if we must reside inside a vessel."

Taurik couldn't help but smile. "I would be honoured to have you by my side when I return to the vessel." Taurik brushed her mussed white hair back then caressed her cheek with the back of his paired fingers. "There are many Vulcans on board.”

“Mostly Starfleet officers, I would assume?” she queried as she sipped on her tea.

“Mostly, but many children and spouses live on board as well. They are not officers.”

Kareel saw the opportunities that he was alluding to. Could Kareel adapt to the busier life style? Gol was a place of strict routine and solitude. Red alerts and battles were not the norm for the residents of the shrine. No, she considered, it was time for yet another life change.

"I will have to speak with T'sai T'Lar and arrange my schedule to be taken over by another."

“Some duties will be taken over permanently, I hope?” Taurik’s expression had lost all humour.

She knew what he was referring to. Though they may not now speak of her past, it may be something they may have to deal with in the future. But for now she admired how her young mate demonstrated tact and consideration for her mastery and honour.

Kareel nodded her agreement. She hesitated for a moment then dared to continue, "And I must speak with Sakre as well."

Taurik put his cup down; this was a name he had not heard before. "Sakre?"

"Yes, my son."

Taurik swallowed hard, "Your son?"

"My apologies, there was not time to speak of family before this."

Taurik bit his bottom lip, he wanted to ask but he was afraid to ask. He absently combed through his beard then looked up, "Is he bonded?"

"Yes. He had been so for nineteen years."

Taurik's back straightened, "Just how old is he?"

Kareel looked to Taurik curious as to why he would ask. "He is fifty four years, four months and sixty days."

Taurik closed his eyes. He sighed. This had never occurred to him before, and he wasn't sure it made a difference but he was still surprised. Her son was older than he was! He looked to his bondmate, he wondered for the first time about her age. It didn't matter, but it was now a curiosity.


The ride to Sekre's home was quiet. His home was located in Shanai'Kahr, south of Shi'Kahr. Sekre's home was larger, and the gardens that surrounded it were exquisite.

Taurik had driven for the first part of the trip. They had stopped for mid-meal then Kareel finished the trip, as she knew exactly where she was going.

Sakre stood at the window and watched the approaching roadway. He closed his eyes as he thought of the brief conversation he had earlier with his mother. There was no other word for it; he had been shocked at her news. He looked out again to the distance, watching for any indication that the air-car was approaching. He folded his arms; imagine choosing one who was his junior.

Sakre had checked up on Taurik and discovered that he was a Starfleet officer. "Imagine. A Starfleet officer!" He sighed audibly. He began to wonder if his mother's thoughts had been clear on the matter. "Now he is taking her off-world."

"Are you still concerned over Reldai Kareel's choice?" The female that stood in the doorway tilted her head. She carried the youngest of their three children. "She is old enough to make these decisions." She watched her bondmate in the process of accepting this new addition to the family. Sokar was put down on the floor and she told the four-year-old to continue on to his studies. She indulged this one too much, she thought to herself. She stepped into the study. "Sakre, it is her choice."

"I am well aware of that. This male of her choosing is four years and an odd number of months younger than myself." He looked to his mate, "If she had not been serving Gol all this time, I believe this would seem more logical."

The dark-haired female smiled slightly, "You would have found yourself in this state no matter what your mother's activities were."

"Perhaps." He met this one's dark eyes and one side of his mouth lifted. "T'Igen, how did you become all knowing?" he teased her.

She shook her head, "When I was intelligent enough to allow you to bond with me." She looked past Sakre out the window to the air-car that was approaching. "They have arrived."

Sakre turned quickly to see his mother and her bond-mate. He drew in a breath and resigned himself to the changes. He could do nothing else.


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