Continuing Tales

Conversational Vulcan

A Star Trek Story
by Blue Moon3

Part 8 of 16

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Conversational Vulcan

"Recently I've been hopelessly reaching

Out for this girl who's out of this world"

"Dammit, why can't they fly on a flat bit of air?"

"In all seriousness, Bones, how are you going to cope with working on a star ship?"

"Ask me a few more questions. Every time I open my mouth brings me that much closer to vomiting my breakfast into your lap."

"Remind me what you had for breakfast again?"

"Kirk, will you leave him alone?"

The final voice motivated Spock to open his eyes. Inasmuch as Spock ever liked or disliked anything, what he saw definitely fell into the latter category. She was extending her vowels, pressing air through her nasal cavity to give the words a strained, irritated tone that did not suit her. Furthermore, her hand was tightly clasped around Cadet McCoy's. He looked too pale – grey, really – to properly notice the affection. But it reminded Spock very clearly that she had not touched him since his blessedly brief illness; at which point, he had pulled away and requested she desist. The way her thumb slid firmly, reassuringly over the back of McCoy's hand was a little too intimate. Especially as he had observed Nyota very rarely initiated physical contact within her social group.

The shuttle shuddered once more on its steep descent, as they broke through the low cloud cover, and McCoy shuddered with it. This caused a surge of deepest scarlet satisfaction shoot through his emotional centre as the doctor swallowed visibly. "Do you require medical assistance, Cadet McCoy?" Spock asked, his head tilted slightly in the doctor's direction.

"I'm fine," McCoy ground out.

The scarlet remained as the shuttle finished its descent, thrusters slowing the craft to a gentle halt before touching down to the Earth's surface. He heard McCoy expel a heavy breath, as though he had been holding it in ever since they left San Francisco. Nyota did not let go of his hand.

"OK, Cadets." Captain Pike stood from his seat beside the helm and addressed the small 'Away Team'. "You know the drill, or you should by now. Take your backpacks when you disembark, appoint a navigator and get hiking. Commander Spock, Commander Y-Brok and I will hike with you to the appointed safe ground, but we won't be assisting you in any way. Once at the safe ground, you will set up camp for the night. In the morning, your mission is to initiate first contact with the people of the planet and bargain for the medical supplies required for the rest of your crew, who are suffering an epidemic." He looked around the students, staring hard at each one in turn. When his eyes finally landed on Spock, his eyebrows flashed in an unconscious gesture Spock had learned indicated friendship. Then he looked back at the students, announcing, "You're being graded as of this moment. Good luck."

Kirk grinned, one corner of his mouth rising, as he looked around at his colleagues. "Let's go, team Kirk."

As the shuttle door opened and the four students stooped to exit the craft, Spock distinctly heard Uhura mutter, "I am not being a part of any group named 'team Kirk'."

"It's easier just to smile and nod, you know," McCoy informed her, taking in a deep breath of the chill, damp air that was beginning to permeate the shuttle.

Spock repressed a shiver. He had been assured that the climate would not cause him undue discomfort – it had, in fact, been a stipulation of his agreement to be a part of this simulation. He had been told that the small island known colloquially as 'Britain' had been experiencing an unusually humid Spring, so much so that Spock would surely not suffer undue discomfort. He began to see that humans had little idea of what a Vulcan required in terms of infra-red radiation and atmospheric humidity. In brief, Spock could tell before even departing the shuttle that this Britain was no Vulcan desert.

"After you, Commander Spock," Pike said, smiling. Spock remembered Nyota's differentiating between laughing 'with' and 'at' a person. From the slight pursing of Captain Pike's lips and gleam in his eye, Spock suspected that he was being laughed at.

"Thank you," he replied coolly, and ducked his head to pass through the low shuttle exit. He took a single breath, swallowed, and knew that the next two days would be far from congenial. Looking skywards, he noted the sun was at least shining, and that the clouds through which they had travelled were intermittent and unlikely to produce precipitation. The humid storms of San Francisco were bad enough. The cold damp that he surmised would accompany rainfall this far north might produce a serious adverse effect on his health. And Spock had no desire to request medical assistance from Cadet McCoy again.

"OK, Gaila," Kirk said, tossing a navigational device to the Orion cadet. "Knock yourself out."

She ignored his taunting phraseology and opened the portable nav system, quickly aligning herself to North. "Three miles that way," she said, pointing without looking up.

The whole party followed the direction her hand indicated; then tilted their heads upward, until their lines of sight met with the mountain's summit.

"You sure?" McCoy asked, clearly recovered.

Gaila looked up, seeing the same rocky outcrop that had so disheartened her colleagues. "Aw, shit," she muttered.

Looking to his left, Spock noticed Commander Y-Brok grinning. She had designed the simulation and chosen this deeply objectionable island and the overly-exerting hike that they would all have to complete. It was illogical to dislike the Commander. She was, after all, merely following orders in her design of a trying field examination. Yet Spock found that he could not help himself.

It was Nyota who spoke first, shrugging her shoulders and kneeling to remove her unsuitable footwear in favour of heavier hiking boots. "Well, we'd better get started. Day's already half-gone, and we're going to need the light."

Spock was grateful that Nyota was a woman of stamina. Requesting that Cadet Gaila direct her as to the best route of ascent, she easily out-paced the rest of the group, climbing with barely any labour to her respiration. This was fortunate for Spock, as it meant he, too, could climb ahead of the group – a situation that afforded him both the chance to travel at a comfortable rate, and the opportunity to enjoy Nyota's company out of their fellows' hearing.

"You move proficiently," Spock noted in Vulcan, his voice low despite the rest of the group's position some ten metres behind them.

He could hear the smile in Nyota's voice as she replied, "Are you speaking as a friend or an examiner?"

"If your ability to walk on an incline is part of the simulation's marking criteria, it is certainly not under my control." He drew level with her, so he could see her face if he so chose. "For now, I speak as a companion."

Though her lips curved upward, her eyebrows had drawn together slightly and her eyes were cast downwards. "Then thank you. I used to run cross-country when I was a teenager. Well, I still run, but it's more to keep fit now. And it gives me a chance to see San Francisco, beyond campus."

Spock nodded slowly, eyes on the uneven, barely defined track that Cadet Gaila had suggested as the safest route. He himself had no desire to explore beyond the bounds of the Academy. He had briefly ventured north during the summer leave, to see the place of his mother's birth; but the place held no resonance for him. "You run alone?" he asked.

"I have to. No one else can keep up." She grinned sidelong at him, then glanced over her shoulder as though to check that they were not being overheard. She did not, he supposed, wish the other commanding officers to think she was attempting to positively affect her grading through means of charm.

"Not even Cadet McCoy?" Spock asked before he could properly control the tone of his voice. He emphasised the name too much, gave it a sub-textual meaning that, surely, he had not intended.

Nyota looked up at him quickly, and lost her footing for a moment, boot skidding on the rough screed. Lightning reflexes allowed him to shoot out a hand before she could fall, catching her firmly around the forearm.

"You OK?" McCoy called from behind them, lengthening his stride to catch up with the pair.

"I'm fine," she laughed, gently removing her arm from Spock's grasp. Spock raised an eyebrow, staring hard at Nyota. The colour rose in her cheeks, though whether from the surprise of her slip, or from the attention of himself and Cadet McCoy, Spock could not tell.

"Take it easy, OK?" McCoy said as he drew level with them. His hand rested on her arm, where Spock had caught her from falling and, in a similar gesture, Nyota gently pulled away from the contact.

"I'm fine," she said in Lingua Franca, her increased emphasis on the second word speaking of hurt pride. "Chill out, guys."

"Only another half a mile, anyway," Cadet Gaila informed them. "Scans from 'the ship' suggest that the area we're looking for should be a flat plane around thirty metres in diameter. Give a call down when you get there."

Nyota had already started back up the mountain, slender legs taking long strides to out-strip the two men. They looked at each other briefly, before following in silence.

On reflection, there were benefits to being a commanding officer rather than a cadet. One of them was sitting on a tree stump watching as four students erected shelters on his behalf. He had been tempted on more than one occasion, to make some suggestions. To point out that the structure could be greatly improved if Cadet Kirk would tie his guide line at a slightly shallower angle, or if Cadet Gaila would extend the aluminium poles point-three metres further to allow the taller members of their party – specifically himself – to stand up straight in the shelter. However, the purpose of the simulation was to allow the cadets free rein to make mistakes. Therefore, he reserved his opinions for the debriefing the following evening. Light was already scarce when the seven of them had reached the appointed space. They had erected torches, and carried out the operation of making a shelter by lamplight. Captain Pike sat beside him, while Commander Y-Brok had found a rock facing the last of the setting sun. They did not speak to each other. Captain Pike avidly watched the group, apparently assessing their team dynamics and operational efficiency. Y-Brok was meditating, as her faith dictated, and Spock was content to keep his own counsel.

The fact that Spock was not yet called upon to assess the cadets was fortunate. Technically speaking, he was not needed in any capacity. This was not a simulation designed to test the cadets on their analysis of new worlds or their scientific evaluations. In fact, this would be the first time he graded a cadet in a field which was entirely new to him. Though, as Captain Pike had pointed out, he was uniquely suited to the situation.

Watching Nyota, he hoped that she was adequately prepared for the day to come. She bent at the waist to pull out the sleeping bags. The ridiculously short skirt – which was, illogically, part of the Starfleet uniform, despite the garment's extreme lack of practicality – rose a clear inch higher than was decent. He had observed, entirely unwillingly, that most women wore undergarments of a matching fabric to either conceal or lessen the effect of such an inevitable occurrence. Said garment, however, did not cover the clear, smooth sweep of bare thigh leading up to her hip.

"Your castle is ready, Commanders!" Kirk announced, his arms spread wide in a welcoming gesture. He was breaking the rules of the simulation by directly addressing his assessors. It was, however, a welcome distraction from Spock's momentary ... distraction. Turning to the rest of his team, Kirk said, "Right, it's been a long day, and we have to be up early. We might as well hit the sack."

"Agreed," McCoy groaned, slumping onto a sleeping bag and pulling a suspicious glass bottle from his back pack.

Spock looked to Captain Pike for confirmation before standing and walking to the make-shift shelter to claim a sleeping bag. Nyota, he noticed a split-second too late, had placed her belongings on the bag beside his. She crouched down to remove her shoes and, raising her head, met Spock's gaze. Her lips quirked in a small smile. Spock looked away.

It took an hour for the cadets and commanders to settle for the night. While Cadets Kirk and McCoy amused themselves whispering on the far side of their small encampment, casually ignoring the 'Captain's' own instructions, Nyota and Cadet Gaila had unfurled their sleeping bags with little discussion, and both were producing the soft, rhythmic respiration of sleep. Captain Pike was snoring gently to his left.

Before long, he was the only member of their party still awake, laid out stiff on his back staring at the blank canopy above. For almost precisely ninety minutes, Nyota's sleep had been deep, her body lying entirely still and breathing slowly. After those ninety minutes, her breathing became shallower and, glancing to the side, he noticed her hand twitch on the grass beside her head. She was dreaming.

Despite his half-human biology, Spock had never dreamed. He supposed it was the disciplines placed on his mind in the formative stages of his development, but he simply never experienced the phenomena. Shifting onto his side, he watched her. His eyes had long since grown accustomed to the lack of light, and the moon was sufficient to illuminate her face as lips quirked and her eyes subtly shifted beneath their lids. She was smiling. Her dream must have been a pleasant one. A deep in-take of breath, expelled as a soft hum; her fingers stretched out towards him.

"Spock?" she whispered.

His whole body tightened. She was not, in fact, asleep, knew he was observing, and was rightfully appalled.

Except that she was breathing steadily, and her eyes remained closed. Spock only relaxed after five more even breaths, followed by another of those deep inhalations and humming sighs.

Apparently, Nyota Uhura talked in her sleep. Fascinating. He had read, in passing, of this condition. There were cases in which an unconscious response to queries could be developed.

After barely three seconds' consideration, Spock said, as softly as he could, "Yes, Nyota?"

Smile widening, her hand twitched closer. "Spock," she murmured again, a little louder.

Spock's eyes ran over her face, etching every small detail of her completely open demeanour onto his memory. "What do you require?" he asked, surprised at the tone of his own voice. A human might call it tender, though Spock knew it was caused by nothing more than a concern of being overheard.

Nyota's voice took on a deeper timbre. "Where are you?" she said, possibly a little too loudly. She had slipped into her native Swahili, as he understood many humans did when governed purely by the subconscious. It was a beautiful language, especially when formed by her delicate lips. Spock had started learning the language almost as soon as their lessons began. It was polite, if not logical, to know Nyota's language at least partly as well as she knew his.

An eyebrow lifting, Spock quickly glanced at the other members of the group. All appeared to be fast asleep. Reaching out one hand, he gently covered the fingers that reached for him. Her skin was soft and cold. He ran his thumb along the back of her hand, the contact producing a minimal telepathic reaction. He felt – distantly, hazily – her mind reaching out to him, as her hand had done. It was all purple swirls and dancing blue lights that curled lazily through the delicious thick black of sleep. The thick darkness of her sleep world was seductive, warm comforting. He could feel her within it, and she drew him closer, beckoned him to join her. "I'm here," he told her softly, before the black covered him and he, too, succumbed.

Conversational Vulcan

A Star Trek Story
by Blue Moon3

Part 8 of 16

<< Previous     Home     Next >>