Chapter 6

The shuttlecraft burst through the outer atmosphere and plunged down towards the Capital, skirting the edge of the Forge and flying towards the landing zone at the base of Mount Seleya. Amanda for once could not contain her excitement, and she bounced slightly on her seat.

"Peace, my heart," Sarek said gently as he took her hand. "All shall be well."

"I know, I know," Amanda replied, clearly excited. "I'm just looking forward to seeing my new home!"

Sarek repressed a smile as he felt her joy and impatience through their contact.

The shuttle landed and Sarek spoke again, "Remember, my heart. If you feel fatigued, please inform me at once. The air contains less oxygen than on Earth, yet the gravity and air pressure is greater. You will tire easily."

Amanda nodded seriously, trying to stop herself smiling. "I am sorry, T'hy'la, for my emotionalism, but...."

He silenced her with a single finger pressed to her lips, which he then leaned in to kiss. As he broke the tender show of affection he whispered, "You are human. You feel, and it is right for you to show that. Do not feel you need to apologize for that, ever."

Amanda smiled slightly then, "Thank you, but will I be accepted by your Family?"

"Once they see that you know and respect our customs and traditions, yes. Just do not try and be something you are not. Only Vulcans can truly repress our emotions without an adverse biological reaction."

"I will not, I promise," Amanda answer as she kissed him back.

The door hissed open and Trip and Jonathan entered. "Welcome to Vulcan, Amanda Grayson," Jonathan grinned at her.

She smiled at him, then asked, "Why the injection?" pointing at the hypo-spray in his hand.

"Tri-ox," Trip giggled. "Trust me, it'll help."

"What does it do?" Amanda questioned, looking up at Sarek.

He gave her hand a squeeze, "It is a tri-oxygenated compound that increases the oxygenation rate of your blood to compensate for our world. The Denobulans have to have it when here, and most Tellarites and Andorians choose to use it as well. Humans, however, are more robust in that regard; but due to your age and natural desire to be 'on the go' as all human children seem to share, this would be a recommended item for you to avail yourself of."

"In a few months, you'll be used to it; least that's what the docs say," Trip giggled.

Amanda smiled and offered her arm to Jonathan, who depressed the spray into it.

"I expected that to hurt," she murmured in wonder.

Jonathan chuckled, "So did I the first time. It's a hypo-spray and uses transporter technology to 'inject'."

"Oh, that's interesting," she said, then glanced at the open doorway. "Can we go out now?"

Trip started laughing glanced at the Ambassador, "Your missus is wanting to see her new home, Uncle Sarek. I'd hurry up and get to showing her!"

"Good idea, my nephew," Sarek replied as he stood and led his wife from the shuttle.

Amanda's first sight in that early morning sunrise was the gleaming red sphere of the sun beginning to shine around the edge of the largest mountain she had ever seen.

Mount Seleya. The site of more history, pride and tradition than could be found anywhere in the Alpha Quadrant. It gleamed, and a dark smudge winding its way from the base to summit took her attention quickly. "What is that?"

"Ish-Ashef t'Ahm-Van Buk Sa'ren. The Steps of Naming, Destiny, and Sa'ren," Sarek responded, profound respect in his voice. "On that mountain, all of my bloodline have been named in the Cavern set aside for us, and all the highest points of History happened here. Here was the final battle of the great war that brought peace to my world. The Battle of..."

'Huff... huff, huff!'

"What is that?" Amanda asked as a large bear came running over.

"It is my pet Sehlat, I-Che..." Sarek began, but the large creature had got to them and pushed him eagerly to the ground to clean and fuss over him.

Amanda started laughing, she just could not help it.

"Thank you, I-Cheya," Sarek managed eventually as the bear finally let him up for air. "I have felt your absence too."

Amanda turned back to look at the landscape before her. It was breath-taking. "Is that the Forge?" she asked, pointing beyond the mountain.

"Yes," Sarek answered as he stood back up with Trip's help. "And the Valley between is..."

He trailed off, for a dark smudge was approaching from that Valley. It quickly drew close and Amanda gasped.

It was another Sehlat, but huge and white and shining in the morning air.

Trip reached for his phaser, "Shall I..."

"No, Charles," Sarek commanded. "It is wild, but known. Lower your weapon." Turning to the largest beast that walked the Sands, Sarek said in formula, "What brings T'Kahr from the Forge; what can this Son of T'Khasi do for you?"

Time Comes. Look to the Steps of Mount Seleya. Look to your grief, your pain, your heart. Climb the Steps -- Name your Son. Climb the Steps -- Regain your Son. Behold It Comes, Need shall bring It Home. Blood of Oldest Blood, Tied to Newfound Brother. Shattered will be Whole. Time Comes

Then the air eddied and swirled... and the White Sehlat vanished.

"Who or what... What was that about?" Trip asked in shock.

Sarek glanced at where the dust eddy had obscured the departure of the largest Sehlat to grace the Sands of the Forge. "He is T'Kahr. Only the fortunate meet him in their Kahs-wan, as I once did. Never does he leave the bounds of his ancient home, bar at times of greatest need. The last recorded sighting of the 'Ancient' outside of the Forge was at the Battle of the Shattered Blade... I am unquiet at what this means."

Amanda smiled, however. "He said 'son', Sarek. We're going to have a son..."

"The War of the Worlds is illogical," Sanjak said definitively. The young Vulcan had become a close friend to the four human boys. They were in the lounge/refreshment area of the Vulcan frigate that had been designated as appropriate for their training.

"Why do you say that?' Robert asked. In the days they had been together, the other three boys had come to look on him as their natural leader and spokesman, and he had taken to the role like a retriever puppy to swimming.

"There would be no logical benefit justifying the effort and expense for the people of one world to invade and conquer another," Sanjak replied dispassionately. "Especially would this be true of native inhabitants of your Mars, if there were any, attempting to conquer Earth, which has 3.28 times their native gravity."

"One world might invade in order to impose its rule or its view of what is right and proper on another," Arthur said speculatively.

"That would not be in accord with c'thia," Sanjak replied.

"True," Robert said. "But remember that not all people follow c'thia. I have learned its value to Vulcans, and I see how it might benefit Earth. But think what makes Andorians fight. They do not behave according to C'thia, but according to their Code of Honor. And as a son of a military family, I have to respect that Code."

Wesley smiled affectionately at his roommate's skill at the Vulcan-style bull session. Sanjak noticed. "Wesley, you and Robert appear to have formed a tel-tor sa-ka-ashausu," he said matter-of-factly. "Why do you keep it hidden from us?"

Robert and Wesley blushed deeply. "Why do you say that?" Robert asked defiantly, his mind scrambling for a way to defend his own and his boyfriend's honor that would not deny their friendship and love.

"You treat the bond between you as if it were something shameful," Sanjak said calmly. "That is not in accord with proper c'thia. We are boys whose bodies have begun to prepare for mating, and we have formed bonds of affection. It is normal to share pleasure and release with one's bondmate as you do."

George, who had had the worst time mastering Vulcan, asked, "That phrase you used, 'tel-tor...'?"

Sanjak explained, "Tel-tor is the bonding of love between two people. Sa-ka-ashausu defines those two people as loving, ashausu, the same. -ka-, and both male, sa-. It means the bond of love between two boys or men, such as Robert and Wesley share, or I with Arthur."

Arthur giggled. "Like when we kissed after we...?"

"Yes," Sanjak said. "That was an example of expressing our tel-tor."

"And what was that phrase you used, when we both kept some, you know, in our mouths, and then shared it as we kissed?"

"Oh," said Sanjak. "I was amused by the idea that we mixed some of yours from my mouth with some of mine from yours. So I coined the phrase. Rish is the root for to contain, and at'ra is a mixture. So when we tasted our mixed seminal fluids, our mouths were containing a mixture, rish-at'ra."

"We need to try that!" Robert said with a grin at Wesley.

"Robert!" Wesley said, scandalized.

To Wesley's relief, the topic of discussion was interrupted by the arrival of T'Kwel. The Vulcan teacher, appearing middle-aged, was of course outwardly emotionless. But her patient and compassionate attitude toward the human boys had endeared her to them.

"Sanjak," she said. The Vulcan boy's attention turned to her. "You understand what we are to do today. Can you explain it to your sakai-kwel?"

"As you wish, teacher," he said efficiently to her. Turning to his friends, he said, "You have all expressed a strange paradox - a love of learning, yet a dislike of schooling. My elders have speculated that this is the fault of human education programs - along with the illogical distaste for persons of our orientation. We have all come to the end of childhood, and we have all completed the basics of childhood education."

"Sometime in this year, ordinarily, my parents, the teacher with whom I had formed the closest relationship, and my Family patriarch, would all confer with me. We would take into account my interests, what I enjoy doing, what mile stations lie along that road, the needs of Family, House, and T'Khasi, and together we would arrive at the initial steps toward what I will do as an adult. We call this the ha'yigal-nahr'wuh, the first career choice. As I grew to adulthood, we would confer again several times to modify those initial decisions - but that is the point at which I begin to shape my own personal future. When we had arrived at a decision with which I was happy and with which my family, teacher, and Patriarch agreed, my Patriarch would then direct that I be taught in that manner."

Sanjak drew a breath, and looked to T'Kwel, who nodded solemn encouragement. He continued, "I was unusual. I was fascinated by how Andorians and Denobulans thought, and I loved to, how can I say this, make up false legends, stories that did not happen but might have. When Earth was discovered, I was intrigued, and begged for the chance to meet some of you. I met Arthur and we became - loving friends."

"At the same time," T'Kwan interjected, "I spoke to my kinswoman T'Pol. She had been reassigned from command of the Vakhan-yon to train the command crew for Earth's first starship, when it is built some time in the future. And she had Bonded with one of the Earthmen, just as young Sanjak has with Arthur. I would have been Sanjak's choice as teacher for his ha'yigal-nahr'wuh.

"Shortly after that, I was called to meet with our House Patriarch, who is also Kevet for Earth. Do you understand that term, boys?"

"It means Ambassador, I think," Wesley said slowly.

"Yes, he speaks for the High Council in all matters relating to Earth," T'Kwel agreed. "T'Pol was there. I was asked to become your teacher, and to assess your skills and career interests. At my suggestion, he spoke to Sanjak's parents and his Family Patriarch, and so he joined me."

Sanjak looked eager to go on; T'Kwel held up her hand in a silencing gesture. She turned to Robert. "Robert, what do you think will happen now?"

Robert had been following the two Vulcans' short speeches intently. He paused, then said firmly, "You are going to tell us what you think we need to do for training, and find out how we feel about it."

"And what leads you to this conclusion?" she asked equably.

"What has been explained so far, by Sanjak and you, leads logically to that conclusion," Robert answered.

"And what will your reactions be, you and your friends?" T'Kwel probed.

Robert felt put on the spot by this, but he rose manfully to the occasion. "We will agree to it," he replied. "First, because it is our duty, to Vulcan and to Earth. Second, because it will be things we enjoy doing - Sanjak made that clear. And third, because it is the logical next step."

T'Kwel raised an eyebrow, then allowed a slow smile to spread across her face. "It is as you say. Today we discuss your futures informally; Patriarch Sarek and his wife will join us to make it a formal ha'yigal-nahr'wuh sometime in the next few days. He will function as your Patriarch, and they together will stand in for your parents."

Wesley demurred. "How can a Vulcan couple know how human boys feel?"

T'Kwel appeared amused. "The Patriarch's wife is human, and young. Her brother is your age, she told me."

She drew herself together, assumed her teacher aspect, and asked, "What is the main reason we have not revealed ourselves to Earth?"

Arthur spoke up. "Xenophobia," he said. "Human beings do not deal well with that which is different, even within our own species. Aliens? Vulcans, Tellarites? There is a climate of fear."

"Exactly," T'Kwel said. "And you five are our secret weapon there. Arthur, you understand communications, both the technical and the personal aspects. And you have a far-ranging imagination. Sanjak, on Earth there is a thriving industry called 'fiction' - the telling of stories that might be true yet are not, and it helps shape people's thinking. Your understanding of alien cultures and your penchant for such stories fits with these others. George, you understand social behavior, apparently better than many human adults. And you have a keen interest in medicine - one that Dr. Phlox wishes to discuss with you. Both you and Wesley are interested in the skill of bringing story to life in audio-visual form. And Robert, you are the most unusual of all. Not only do you enjoy fiction, both the reading and the creation of it, but you are from a family with a military tradition, and you are a natural leader, as you just proved when speaking for your sakai-kwel."

"What both Earth and Vulcan need is to foster an emotional climate on Earth where we non-Terrans are seen as friends; where differences are seen as enriching and not threatening." T'Kwel's voice was almost passionate for a Vulcan. "You have the talent and interest to create that climate, the five of you. I propose we equip you with the skills and knowledge you will need to achieve that goal. A full training in science as we know it, guidance in writing, and a vehicle to get your concepts out to Earth's public, in both written and audio-visual formats. George, you will learn Vulcan healing and be equipped to practice medicine. Now, the four of you discuss this among yourselves; I need to speak to Robert privately."

She drew him into an adjoining chamber and said, "You will be needed with them, writing this 'space fiction' - but another destiny awaits you as well. While Jonathan Archer will make an excellent captain for Earth's first starship, his leadership skills are not the same as yours. If you are willing, we have a challenge for you. You will go through the same training as your friends, but also the leadership training through which Vulcan puts those who have the skills to lead an organisation. If all goes as we foresee, we expect to have in you someone devoted to his duty to Earth who is also a friend to Vulcan, and already a superb untrained natural leader. You would be challenged, put to the test, but our expectation is that what you would become is the leader suited to command Earth's space forces. I will not deceive you; such training will be difficult for you. But the Ambassador and I are convinced that you are the man for the job. I ask you to think about it, privately, and let me know your decision whether to undertake it."

Robert's eyes were shining. "It is both my duty and my greatest dream. I need not think about it; I accept!"

Phase-shifted to remain invisible and unheard, the three Mikyvis looked on. "I wanted you two to see this," Kyle said. "Those movies you like, Levi, the books you read in the hospital, Peter - these boys and the ones who came after them started that tradition. And Robert did go on to become the founding Admiral of Starfleet."

"The only tweak it took," Levi added, "was for me to subtly influence an Andorian crewman to notice Earth's prototype warp core undergoing its first tests, a few months back. And my Friend guided me to do that."

"If we did anything overt to influence this, we could throw Destiny off," Kyle continued. "This all needs to play out as people's individual motivations lead them. Here, look...." He abruptly shifted the three of them to another Universe.

"Woah!" said Peter. "That's a weird feeling!"

"Get used to it, bro," Levi said. "We aren't going to unlock your full powers yet, but one thing you're going to need is the ability to 'port to wherever one of us is, in any place in space, time, timeline, or Universe. Daddy'll unlock that for you soon - you won't be able to go everywhere, just where there's already another Mikyvis."

"Kewl," said Peter.

"We're hopscotching around this Universe so I can show you some stuff,": Kyle continued. They made a rapidfire succession of hops in space and time, then jumped to a tropical beach before humans had found it. After a quick swim, Kyle explained, "Okay, I showed you the fate of the guys you were watching in this Universe."

"Lotsa stuff different," Peter said.

"That's an understatement," Levi giggled. "First, Robert went to Annapolis and joined the Navy. But he got sick, was discharged and went into mining and politics, and finally started writing for a living."

"Same as our world," Peter said.

"No, this time he supported himself by writing, and basically inspired the U.S. space program - such as it was. This is the world the Farnsworths came from. And here he came from Missouri, not Kansas, and died about the time Justy's boyfriend Dean was born." Kyle ticked off the changes. "Wesley's family moved from El Paso to California, not Kansas, he never met Robert until late in their lives, and he ended up producing a TV program called Star Trek."

"That's an odd name; why that?" Peter asked.

"Well, it was about the voyages of a starship in the 23rd century," Levi giggled. "The U.S.S. Enterprise, commanded by Captain James T. Kirk, with a first officer named Spock, a Vulcan...."

"You're kidding!" Peter said. "How'd he know about that?"

"...//Truth tends to come out as fiction where it is not reality//...", Levi channeled the Guardian. "...//Thus are people guided to wisdom//..."

"George inherited his father's walnut farm, and ran a store as well," Kyle continued. "He never got the chance to go into either medicine or films; his son was the one who made those movies you like, Levi."

"Ooooh, strange world those films showed!" Levi giggled in a Yoda voice. "I want a Wookiee!"

"You're friends with Sehlats," Kyle said, tickling his son. "Aren't they big and hairy enough for you?"

"Okay, I saw Arthur working on radar in that war, then inventing the communications satellite. But what was he doing with those houseboys?" Peter asked.

"You're too young to know," Kyle said firmly.

Wayne Mansion, May 1926

The sight of his sister and brother-in-law materializing in the drawing room did not surprise Richard - he had received a transmission that they would be arriving. But their expressions did. Amanda was stoic; Sarek, in contrast, seemed distressed. And another Vulcan was with them whom Richard had never met.

"Richard," Amanda said, "Bruce is here?"

"Yeah, he's in his study working on some business deals while we waited for you. I'll get him." And he was gone.

"Bruce, Richard!" Sarek said as they returned. "I fear we may have done you some serious harm, from the best of motives."

"Calm thyself, T'hy'la," Amanda said to him, wrapping her arm around the Vulcan's waist. "It may not be so with them, just as it was not with me."

"What is this about?" Bruce asked.

Amanda looked at her brother and his guardian/father figure. "Do you recall the longevity treatment you underwent when you visited us?"she asked.

"Of course," Bruce said. "That was truly amazing, that your scientists could isolate a way to extend our lives so quickly."

"Vulcans and humans share similar DNA," Sarek said. "It was only logical to extend the fruits of our science to you. But I fear we have erred gravely in doing so."

"How so?" Bruce was surprised.

"You will recall there were seven of us in that initial trial experiment?" Amanda asked. "You, Richard, myself, and Jonathan, Charles, and Travis from the crew training, and also Pedro Camisaroja?"

"That's the boy from Venezuela who wanted so much to go to space?" Richard asked.

"That's him," Amanda answered sadly. "Pedro had a very negative reaction to the treatment. In the two years since he had the treatment, he has aged the equivalent of forty years. He is sixteen now, in the body of a sixty-year-old."

Bruce and Richard gasped in shock. Amanda continued, "When we returned to Earth, we made sure to bring along Xomak here, from the Longevity Institute, to test you two."

"Would you be willing to undergo a test from him, to determine your reaction to the treatment?" Sarek requested formally. "It would set my mind at ease."

"Of course," said Bruce. "Xomak, there is a dressing room to my suite at the head of these stairs that should serve as examining room for you."

"That would be acceptable," Xomak said tonelessly.

"Richard, if you would go first, I'd like opportunity to talk to Sarek and Amanda," Bruce said, in a tone of polite instruction. Richard nodded, and led Xomak to the stairs.

"Now, tell me what we can expect," Bruce said seriously.

"We have terminated all tests of the longevity treatment on human subjects, as soon as Pedro's reaction became obvious," Sarek said. "Fortunately, no other results were as dire."

"Jonathan shows only a minimal reaction," Amanda expanded on Sarek's statement. "Trip and I are aging at a rate of two years physiologically for every three years on the calendar. With Travis, it appears to have tied to what is governing his, uh, growth to manhood."

"That is to say, we will not know for sure the effect on Travis until he reaches puberty," Sarek explained. "Whatever effect it has on him will not come into play until he begins the transition to manhood."

Richard came back downstairs, and motioned for Bruce to go up. Brother and sister chatted quietly, bringing each other up to date on their respective lives, until Bruce and Xomak returned.

"It is well," Xomak said neutrally. "The boy has had the same reaction as his sister, the three-for-two effect. Mr. Wayne appears to have the same minimal reaction as Mr. Archer."

Sarek breathed a sigh of relief. "It would not have been acceptable to have been the agent of harm to the family of my t'hy'la." Xomak gestured his agreement.

"Your services are accepted with gratitude, Xomak. Peace and long life," Sarek said in dismissal.

Xomak nodded and said, "C'thia called for my efforts. Live long and prosper, Sarek, Amanda, Bruce, and Richard." With that, he called for transport and was gone.

"There is another matter I wish to inform you of, Bruce," Sarek said. "May we be seated?"

"Of course, Sarek," Bruce said. "This is your and Amanda's Earthside home whenever you choose to honor us with your presence."

'There has been some … resistance…" Sarek began "to the arrangements I have made with Earth's governments and with you. I have informed the President, the King in London, the Tsar's People's Ministers, and so on. You too should know of it."

"As you know, Vulcan is a somewhat barren world, and we husband our resources. Not merely keeping clean places for plants and animals, ensuring wise use of ores and fertile soil, but also our greatest asset, our children. Siprak, the heir to Great House Suvak, has spoken out against considering Earth as civilized, despite your technical prowess, for the waste in your mines, your forests, your rivers, and particularly in how children are treated. There is by and large no one with authority to intervene when a child is left without love and nurture, as you did for Richard and Amanda. The Patriarch of House Suvak and I have established a, what is the phrase, modus vivendi, where we can work together despite disagreements, but his heir is one who eats fire and breathes flame, as the saying goes. And he denounced Earth in the High Council for its wastefulness - including its wastefulness of children."

"For now, I am supported by the other Great Houses, but I find it difficult to impress on your President and the other leaders the importance of care in the use of resources, and the importance of child nurture. Those who call for such improvements are deemed 'do-gooders' and their words discounted, it would seem."

"How can I help?" Bruce was quick to jump to Sarek's aid, since the Vulcan's concerns echoed his own, from his time as an orphaned youth and what Richard had been through.

"Continue what you are doing, to the maximum extent possible." Sarek ticked off the answers he had given much thought to. "Do not hesitate to ask for my aid, as I can bring much to bear to help you as you may need it. Let us all seek for ways to maximize Vulcan's influence, for the benefit of the children. Our family system may be useful, since we can stand a'nirih and m'aih to children as you did to Richard. Earth looks at political, military, and economic power as paramount - Vulcan logic sees things differently, and puts family foremost. T'Mura tells me that accords with an underlying human attitude - find ways to foster that attitude."

"It shall be done, my kinsman," Bruce said in one of the few Vulcan phrases he knew.

Sarek smiled and nodded. "I expected no less, and am gratified."

Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, July 1926

Eyes closed, Bruce and Richard relaxed in their swimming togs on the beach of the exclusive seaside resort, drinking in the warm sun after a refreshing ocean swim. It had been a busy couple of months, endowing new orphanages and identifying people who truly cared about children to run them, keeping Bruce's businesses running smoothly, helping the police on two strange and complex cases, and the vacation was badly needed by them both.

Abruptly, their reverie was interrupted by a man's voice calling out "Aimee! Stop!" Richard's eyes jerked open. A tiny girl was headed for the ocean, a few feet away. He jumped up and retrieved her kicking and screaming.

Bruce stood up and turned to where the man's voice had come from. A self-assured man of about 30, dressed in an expensive summer suit, was descending the steps from the seaside terrace restaurant, clearly the little girl's father. He began to walk towards the man, motioning Richard to follow with the little girl, who was now smiling at his fussing with her.

"Aimee! You bad, bad girl!" the man expostulated toward the toddler. "I've told you never to run off like that."

'Sure, a two year old is going to listen to reason,' Bruce thought to himself.

The man reached out for his daughter, saying, "Thank you, youngster," to Richard in a tone that made it seem like his due to have strangers retrieve his daughter for him. Richard looked irritated; Bruce flashed him a wink on the side of his face turned away from the man.

"No! Wike him!" said little Aimee, clinging to Richard.

Richard shrugged. "I'll carry her up for you, sir. Probably easier than trying to pass her over to you if she's going to fight it."

"Good," said the man. Then, belatedly showing some manners, "Thank you again..." obviously fishing for Richard's name.

"Richard. Richard Grayson, sir," he filled in.

Judging the man a bit too bossy for Richard to handle alone, Bruce stepped in, offering his hand. "Bruce Wayne, sir. Richard is my ward."

"Wayne? As in Wayne Industries?" the man asked.

"That would be my company, yes," Bruce replied.

"Ah, an honor, sir. I am Zebulon Whatley, of Whatley Cottons and Fabrics and Whatley Chandlers of Charleston. And that escapee you are holding, Richard, is my daughter Aimee." A pause, with a calculating look running across Whatley's face. "Won't the two of you join my wife and I for a pre-dinner drink and the evening meal? Sarah is just up there on the restaurant terrace with my son."

"It would be a pleasure, sir," Bruce said urbanely. And they followed Whatley up to his table, little Aimee clinging tightly to Richard. Bruce chuckled.

Sarah Whatley, also dressed in summer finery, proved to be a bit abstracted, preoccupied with the small baby she was holding, "Oooh, you are just momma's snookums, you are," and other comments in the same vein that, being merciful to our readers, we will omit recording here.

"Sit wiv him" Aimee announced as they seated themselves. Richard grinned and held her on his lap.

"Bourbon and branch for me," Whatley told the young black waiter. Bruce chose a dry white wine the sommelier recommended, which Sarah Whatley then decided to try, and ordered Richard a Coke.

Whatley then proceeded to talk business with Bruce, declining all attempts to divert the conversation to another topic, while Sarah fussed over her son. However, Bruce observantly noticed Whatley's eye follow the waiter whenever he passed in line of sight, which was often.

Suddenly "Gaah!" came from Richard. They looked over to see the teenager blushing and the little girl with a relieved expression on her face, as around her on Richard spread a telltale wet spot.

"Oh, for pity sake!" said Whatley, followed by "I'm sorry, boy" to Richard. He reached for his daughter.

"Don't be silly," said Bruce. "Richard, it'll wash right out - take her down to the water and wade out; there's a whole ocean there to wash it away."

"With your permission, Mr. Whatley...?" Richard asked, and, getting a nod, picked up the little girl and headed for the shore, holding her body in front of his lap area as he went.

On their return, Bruce made a point to excuse himself and Richard, promising to meet Whatley later and exchange business cards.

With this chapter, Origins will end the chronological developments of the earliest days of Vulcan-human contact. Beginning with chapter 7, we will jump forward to the 1992-2003 period. If you are a CSU fan, you know some of the developments of that time, but in the old Paul Harvey line, now you'll get the rest of the story.

Many thanks to Iluvantir for the initial scenes depicting Amanda's arrival on Vulcan, and to ACFan and Ilu for advice and guidance in this chapter. Also thanks to Boudreaux for the guest appearances of his characters from Dear Diary (though all but Aimee are only from a flashback there.)