Continuing Tales

Conversational Vulcan

A Star Trek Story
by Blue Moon3

Part 9 of 16

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Conversational Vulcan

"If you chose to walk away I'd still be right here waiting

Searching for the things to say to keep you right here waiting"

That was a good sleep, Uhura reflected as she stretched her arms above her head, wriggling slightly on the cold ground. It had been some years since she'd slept in a glorified tent, and she remembered that it never normally felt that good. Must have been some hike.

Some dream. The thought made her smile, as she was safe to do in the solitude of her sleeping bag, snuggled far enough down that her head was well covered. Enclosed, alone, she remembered the too-real feel of him. Not just his body, but his mind, in that odd way that only dreams could allow. Fingertips so solid and hot had run over the back of her hand. And his voice. He'd spoken in Vulcan. Usually all of her dream-dialogue was in Swahili. But he'd spoken in Vulcan. Strange. Not unpleasantly so, but still odd.

"Someone give Uhura a kick," she heard Gaila say loudly.

"Let her sleep," McCoy replied. He was sweet, but Uhura knew better than to think such a subtle suggestion would sidetrack her Orion friend.

Sitting up, Uhura ran a hand through her hair. She'd carefully pulled it into a long braid, in the hopes that it wouldn't be too completely dishevelled over night. Emergency provisions specifically excluded cosmetics, and hairbrushes, apparently, were classed by Starfleet as a cosmetic. "I'm awake, please don't actually kick me."

"'Morning," McCoy muttered, attention largely focussed on opening his protein pack.

Kirk was grinning. This was never a pretty sight first thing in the morning. Except that Gaila – not to mention the rest of the team – were already awake, so it couldn't be first thing. "God, did I sleep in?"

"We shook you, but you were out cold," Kirk said. "You're a heavy sleeper."

"She really isn't," Gaila said, scowling. She was doubtless reminiscing on the many occasions when Uhura had woken at an inconvenient moment. "Cold, damp mountainsides just ... I don't know ... shit, I can't be witty without coffee."

Still smiling, cocky blue eyes shining, Kirk offered her his protein bars. "There's yummy nutritious processed food substances. Mmmm." He forced lip-smacks, chuckling at her disgusted gagging noise. "OK, Lieutenant," he said, peering down at Uhura from his vantage point of a tree stump. "Here's the situation. We've lost our commanders."

"Lost them?" For the first time, she looked at the spot to her side. Where Spock had been lying what felt like only a few moments ago, there was nothing but grass and rock. Even the sleeping bag had vanished.

"They weren't here when I woke up," McCoy chipped in around a mouthful of protein. "Which was an hour ago," he added with his normal sourness.

Sliding her legs out of the sleeping bag, Uhura began to pull on her boots. "OK, so they're observing us from a distance. Makes sense, they don't want to ... infringe, or whatever. So we carry on the mission as planned."

"Which is to make First Contact," Gaila said, flicking idly through the settings on her Tricorder. "With what? A sheep?" As if on cue, the device beeped. Gaila frowned, thumbs working swiftly over the controls. "Captain, detecting two life forms moving in our direction. Both humanoid, both ... unknown species."

"Bingo!" Kirk said, hopping to his feet. "Where are they coming from?"

"How can there be new life in Wales?" McCoy griped, tossing what was left of his protein bar into his backpack. "Nothing new's come out of this backwater in a century."

"Bones, chill. They rigged the Tricorder or something. Whatever, who cares! We're on a mission and we have to be prepared." Turning back to Gaila he asked, "What's their approach?"

"From the summit," she replied, turning from her instrument towards the mist-shrouded peak. She shielded her eyes with her hands. "I don't see anything, but they're up there. And moving towards us. I estimate they arrive at camp in approximately thirty minutes."

"Thanks, Gaila, keep an eye on them for me. The rest of us can get the camp cleared for when they show. We don't want them thinking we're making their planet untidy."

Shaking her head, Uhura nevertheless obeyed the command, rolling up her sleeping bag and compressing it into her backpack. They worked together over the next ten minutes, to take down the shelter canopy and remove any traces of their presence.

"Hail!" came a sudden call from above them.

Uhura tilted her head to one side. That was one weird language, but needed more before she could identify it.

"Strangers below, stay where you are!" the voice called again.

Uhura knew that language, she knew she knew it, but what the hell was it? The whole party was staring upwards now, scouring the mountainside for the two figures they knew were there somewhere. "Uhura, what's he speaking?"

"Stay there!" he called again.

A lightbulb flicked on inside her head, and everything suddenly fell into place. With a snort, she muttered, "'Oh, not that dialect tonight, I'm not in the mood for Southern Romulan'. Dammit, Spock!" She took a breath, and looked over at her perplexed colleagues. "It's an archaic Romulan dialect. We don't even know if they use it verbally any more."

"You speak it?" Kirk asked.

It was dawning on Uhura that this was, specifically, her exam and there would be no coasting through this on Communications protocol. "The long answer is 'maybe'. The root language is similar to Vulcan and standard Romulan, but some of the mutations are just bizarre. Plus no one's spoken it fluently in centuries – as far as we know." She shrugged, taking a deep breath. "The short answer is, 'I guess we'll find out'."

"Up there!" Gaila was pointing to a hidden track that skirted the steep incline to the peak. Two figures, dressed in black and hooded.

"OK, Team Kirk. Let's go get our med supplies."

Shaking her head at 'Team Kirk', Uhura took up the rear as they started back up the mountain. She bowed her head, going over verb conjugations in her head and desperately wishing Spock had let her practice beforehand. Up close, the aliens were more obviously two commanders, namely Spock and Y-Brok. The thought of the uptight Vulcan playing dress-up might have been funny, were Uhura's stomach not turning at the thought of going into a test without being completely prepared.

"Greetings, Strangers," Spock said smoothly once they were close enough to speak without shouting.

"What did he say?" Kirk whispered to Uhura.

"He offered us a greeting." Turning to Spock, she replied in the chosen dialect, "Greetings."

"Identify," Spock said, using the aggressive, formal tense.

"I am Lieutenant Uhura of the Starship Enterprise," she said, hoping to God those words would one day be true and the results of this simulation wouldn't land her on a starbase in the middle of no where for the rest of her career.

"Greetings, Uhura. I am Spock."

"My colleagues and I are peaceful." She swallowed. Simple sentences were fine. Clauses might get her shot in the foot. "We are looking for supplies. They grow on your planet. Will you help us?"

"You claim to be peaceful, yet you carry weaponry. Please explain."

He spoke quickly, and had either rehearsed his speech or knew the language a lot better than Uhura would have guessed. It took her a moment to process the tenses before Uhura looked down to the phaser attached to her belt. "What's he saying, Uhura?" Kirk asked.

"He's asking why we carry phasers if we're peaceful."

"Oh, great," McCoy muttered.

"You're not helping," Gaila hissed.

"Look, shut up a second, OK, and let me think." Closing her eyes for a moment, visualising tense forms, she stammered an appropriate response. "Some species we meet are not peaceful. Your robes are religious?" she asked, taking a chance.

Spock paused a moment before answering. "They are."

"We will remove our weapons as a sign of-" She took a deep breath, carefully forming her mouth around the awkward noun. "Trust."

Spock nodded his head solemnly. "That is agreeable."

"What'd he say?" Kirk asked again.

"Take off your phasers," Uhura said, quickly removing her own. The others frowned, but with a little further encouragement followed suit.

Gathering the four weapons and holding them awkwardly, Uhura offered them to Commander Y-Brok. She took them, but said nothing. "Your friend is very quiet," Uhura said, unable to help the wry twist of her lips.

"A vow of silence," Spock replied smoothly. "What do you seek?"

"A plant named lavandula," she replied, not even attempting to guess at the herb's name in this obscure Romulan dialect.

Spock shook his head solemnly. "I know of no plant by that name."

Uhura sighed, turning to McCoy. "He doesn't know the name. Can you get a picture of it or something?"

"I can describe it," he offered, looking pleased to be suddenly involved in the discussion.

Raising an eyebrow, Uhura couldn't keep the frustration from her voice as she replied, "Bully for you. This language is difficult, I can't translate your flowery descriptions."

McCoy sighed and took hold of Gaila's Tricorder. "Give me a second, I'll see if there's anything on the ship's data banks."

"If not, is there an alternative?" Kirk asked, taking a step towards Uhura.

She shrugged, looking nervously at the 'alien' who supposedly couldn't understand their discussion. "We could try and find some of it to demonstrate the point, but without knowing the specifics of where the plants are, it could be a wild goose chase. Assuming the simulation is detailed enough to have actual examples of lavandula in the immediate vicinity."

"Got it," McCoy interrupted, and both Kirk and Uhura breathed a sigh of relief. McCoy walked over to Spock, holding out the Tricorder display to show the 'alien'. "We're looking for that," he said slowly and clearly, enunciating each word just a little too hard.

"He's not deaf, McCoy," Uhura muttered. "This is the plant. Do you know it?"

Spock nodded slowly. "It is a valuable trading commodity among my people. There are samples growing on our land, but we would expect payment for any quantity."

"Would you accept a trade? We do not know your currency."

"What do you have to trade?" he asked.

"Good question. Kirk, what do we have to trade?" Kirk's eyes were wide, his expression blank. Uhura quickly saw that she would have to elaborate. "Lavandula is valuable, and he won't give us any without a trade. How much do you need, and what can we give him in return?"

"We don't need much," McCoy replied quickly. "Enough for the replicator to duplicate sufficient quantities. Maybe, three samples, roots and all. And we could offer the phasers as trade."

"That's against policy," Gaila said quickly. "We can't offer any technology superior to their own; it's against the Prime Directive." She beamed smartly at Commander Y-Brok, who made a show of taking no notice.

"The female would be acceptable," Spock said, his face its normal calm mask. "The one who is green."

Uhura tried very hard not to let her mouth fall open. "What?" Kirk asked.

Swallowing, Uhura raised a hand to keep her 'Captain' quiet. "We do not trade people. It is against our laws."

"We know of her people, the Orions," Spock replied, looking at Gaila in a frankly appraising manner. "The women are traded. Why would this one be different? Perhaps you do not need this plant as badly as you have led us to believe."

Uhura took two breaths, thinking quickly. "She is the property of our Captain. He has an emotional..." she gestured with her hand, searching for the right words, the correct syntax, "bond with her. He cannot release her." Her mind quickly hit on a possible resolution, and she stumbled over her words in her hurry to get them out, "We have technology to make ... oh, um ... duplicates? Of the plant. If you gave us a sample for a short period, we could give you twice as much in return." She allowed herself a smug smile at the slightly more complex sentence, which she was reasonably sure she had performed accurately. "You could trade that for your own currency."

The tiny twitch of Spock's lips told her she had resolved the situation, before he even turned in fake-conference with his colleague.

"Uhura, what's happening?" Kirk demanded.

"I told them we can replicate the plant, give them twice as much in return, which they can in turn trade with their own people for currency."

Kirk grinned. "That's brilliant! Will they agree to that?"

Before Uhura could reply, Spock turned back to her. "We accept your terms on two conditions. Firstly, we ask that one member of your group remain with us as insurance. Secondly, if your technology is capable of replication, that you take also the seed pods of this plant, so that we may have the means to grow a larger crop. Is this acceptable?"

Dutifully, Uhura turned and reported to her Captain, receiving confirmation before telling Spock, "That is acceptable. I will remain with you until the process is complete." She smiled at Spock, becoming more confident in the foreign tongue. "I look forward to learning more about your culture."

The Welsh landscape was incredibly deceptive. From the middle-of-nowhere valley in which the shuttle had landed, Uhura would never have guessed that there was habitation anywhere within a twenty mile radius. However, when Spock led her over the top of the ridge, the highest point of the mountain they'd climbed the previous night, there was another valley below. An inhabited valley, filled with hangars bearing the Starfleet insignia on their broad, silver roofs. "Our trading area," Spock said.

Uhura raised an eyebrow at him. "Are we going down there?" she asked, relaxing into the dialect a little more, now that she was reasonably sure only Spock was assessing her.

"We will stay here," he replied. She couldn't be sure, but Uhura thought she detected something of his small, fleeting smile when he looked down at her. The problem with Spock's only not-quite-there smile was that it was difficult to interpret. At such a moment, it could suggest that she had performed well and he was proud of her, or that she had done badly and he was reassuring her – or even that he was just pleased to be alone in her company. Sometimes complex men had their disadvantages.

Spock gestured to a conveniently long, flat rock – slate, she believed – and they sat side-by-side watching the activity below. "Are we waiting long?" she asked, hoping that she had correctly formed all the tenses. Even if her portion of the exam was over, she still didn't like the thought of embarrassing herself in front of Spock.

Spock frowned in concentration, apparently equally desirous to speak the formal, complex tongue with accuracy. "We wait as long as it takes your colleagues to mend their broken ... technology. And for Cadet McCoy to attend to Commander Y-Brok's ... adverse reaction to Orion contact."

Uhura nodded slowly. "Commander Y-Brok is allergic to Orions?" She could not help the slight, smug smile that curved her lips, certain that she had provided the word Spock had wished to use.

That earned her a raised eyebrow that had the same effect on her hormonal system as thunderous applause and a full-on declaration of love. "Indeed."

Sighing as the silent minutes dragged by, Uhura tapped her feet on the ground, slightly unnerved by Spock's stillness.

"Your movement is distracting," he told her.

"I'm bored," she admitted.

He blinked, eyebrows raised slightly in an intriguing expression. Hands reaching into the folds of his black robes, Uhura watched with interest as Spock withdrew a deck of cards. "Do your people play a game called Snap?" he asked with a slight quirk to the corners of his lips.

Uhura grinned as he shuffled the cards, and turned happily on the rock to face him.

Amazingly enough, the sun broke through the clouds as they made their descent back down the rocky slope. It was warm – not sweltering like back at home, where proximity to the equator made every day a different kind of hot, but an improvement on the damp chill that had defined the morning and previous day. Uhura couldn't be certain, but she thought that Spock felt it, too. His frame had relaxed slightly, no longer stiff across the shoulders, and she noticed him more than once turn his face up to the sun. It made her smile, to think how he would react to the climate back home. But that led to far too many overly romantic fantasies of taking him home to meet the family. Even if she were in any position to be in a relationship with Commander Spock – which, they had both agreed, she was not – he was not a 'meet the parents' kind of guy.

Still, such thoughts weren't easily forgotten, and Uhura made sure she was the last of 'Team Kirk' to board. Everyone else was eager to sit by the window and enjoy the sun, which made it easy for Uhura to choose a seat by herself. McCoy lifted a querying eyebrow in her direction, but she smiled and shook her head. Gaila – who knew better than to disturb Uhura when she was in one of her brooding moods – carefully distracted the Doctor. And when Gaila chose to distract, she was always successful.

The shuttle ride back to San Francisco was smoother. From what she could see through the nearest portal the view was beautiful. Her colleagues chatted as they watched the small island grow smaller beneath them, and eventually melting into the roiling sea. Uhura wished she was in a mood to properly appreciate it.

Spock appeared from the cockpit and, after little deliberation, came to sit beside Uhura. He remained silent for some minutes, before commenting, "You are displaying signs of nervousness. This is illogical. The simulation is complete."

Glancing up at Gaila, Uhura murmured, "I suggest you use your own dialect; Gaila speaks Standard Vulcan."

He raised an eyebrow, turning his head to look at her for the first time. "I had not intended to say anything that could not be overheard." He had, nevertheless, slipped to the less formal and more obscure mutations of his native dialect.

"I'm concerned about my performance," Uhura said softly, answering his original question. It was not the only reason she had wanted to be on her own, but there was no need for Spock to know that. "I don't know if I performed adequately."

From the small frown on his face, Uhura gathered he was internally debating something. She waited patiently, until he finally responded, "I can make no comment on your performance as I am not your instructor. My inclusion in this simulation was purely coincidental. Your aptitude for languages has made it difficult for your teachers to test your abilities by standardised means, and I presented an opportunity that you yourself brought to their attention." He took a breath, head tilting slightly as the frown smoothed away from his face. "But I can relate that you took the most logical course of action, and adequately executed an unfamiliar language under duress."

Uhura felt her cheeks warm, quite different feelings – excitement, joy and hope – coursing through her. "Thank you," she said softly.

"It was a statement of fact, not a compliment," Spock said, perhaps a little too sharply. Moderating his tone, he lowered the volume of his voice a little more, just in case. "There was only one fault I found with your performance on this mission."

Sighing and knowing it was too good to be true, Uhura asked, "What did I do wrong?"

"You talk in your sleep," Spock said, glancing at her with amusement lighting his dark, human eyes. "This could lead to inadvertently revealing confidential information to a captor or any other sleep partner." Uhura could feel her face burning up. She knew that touch, that voice she'd heard had been too real. "It is something you should keep in check. Perhaps Doctor McCoy would have some suggestions as to the best way to suppress your subconscious reactions?"

"Doctor McCoy can do what, now?" McCoy spoke up from the other side of the shuttle, and Uhura cursed his good hearing.

"I was merely registering my disapproval of one of Cadet Uhura's nocturnal habits, and suggesting she consult with you to remedy the situation," Spock replied before Uhura had the chance.

Uhura's face was giving off enough heat to power a warp reactor and she began to think how wonderful it would be if the bottom of the shuttle could open up and eject her as soon as possible. As it didn't, all she could do was shrug at McCoy's perplexed look – obviously not sure whether to be offended or embarrassed. "I'll tell you later," she said.

And was pleased that this earned her a (for Spock) scathing glance from the Vulcan at her side.

Conversational Vulcan

A Star Trek Story
by Blue Moon3

Part 9 of 16

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