Nevasa Storyline III - Sakarra Tyrax

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"Nevasa" Part III

[Institute of Defensive Arts, Gol province, Vulcan]

7th Day in the month of ta’Krat , YS 9014


“You still have a tendency to overcompensate, Sakarra-kam” Sovar stated levelly.

“Indeed I do “ the young woman looked at Nevasa reaching her zenith before they entered the relative cool of one of the Institute’s armories.

She carefully placed the sword back on its stand and turned to her friend “However, the challenge was whether I could prevent you from breaching my defenses. Since that is clearly the case, I submit that your overall assessment was incorrect.”

“So it seems” there was that humor twinkling in the dark eyes again, and as usual it caught Sakarra off balance. To be teased by a Vulcan was bad enough, with Sovar you never even could know for certain if your senses had not played a trick on you. She studied the calm, impassive face in the armory’s twilight and decided, yes, he’d done it again.

By implying that her skills still may need improvement (which of course was true in any case) he had provoked her into giving nothing but her best. And then some, blast him.


But she noted with no small amount of satisfaction that this time she was not the only one walking away from the exercise with a slightly ruffled appearance. At least the collection of sprains and bruises she had amassed over the past years had amounted for something.

“Meet you in the courtyard in thirty minutes?”

Sovar gave a graceful nod and walked off, while Sakarra shook her head in what could safely be called mildly amused irritation. For a long time she used to think that this one deliberately tried to provoke her, in fact went out of his way to annoy her. By now she had arrived at the conclusion that he might actually be showing affection by simply being himself. His annoying self, but once you looked past that he was actually ... almost likeable. Almost.

Chuckling silently, the young woman made her way to the small room she called her own to get cleaned up and slip into a comfortable robe.


The two young people were greeted by residents and merchants as they made their way through the ancient streets of Xen’tal. The tall Vulcan in the robes of V’Shar was well known to most of them, as was the curly-haired young woman accompanying him. Stone arcades matching the golden color of the houses provided shade for the few people out to brave Nevasa’s midday heat and the soft murmuring of voices indicated where most of those who did not prefer the solitude of their own quarters had sought refuge.


Sakarra confidently steered towards the restaurant gardens next to the old Inn, but a small gesture from Sovar made her stop. She tilted her head questioningly and he indicated one of the shops lining the street. Sakarra recognized it as the one owned by T'Shonra, a weapons smith of unusual talent and one of the few still able to craft traditional swords in the ancient style. And, as it happened, yet another not so distant relative.

Sometimes the young woman felt as if half of the Vulcans at the Science Academy and at least a third of those in Vulcana Regar and Xen’tal were related to her in some way or another, but logically those calculations would never stand up to scrutiny. Even if her entire House were to reside in either Raal or Shi’al province, they would merely make up a small fraction of the population. Still, they would easily overrun at least this tiny village.

For a few seconds Sakarra almost grinned, imagining the quiet streets filled with a few thousand Vulcans trying to move somewhere while still being impeccably polite. She could almost hear the indignant rustling of robes and the sound of dignified irritation in the shuffling of countless feet.


Picking up Sakarra’s amusement, Sovar briefly raised a brow and then gestured for her to walk ahead. ‘So we’re strictly following protocol now’ the young woman thought slightly bemused before she entered the small but elegantly furnished shop. Sovar usually was not one to observe these ancient traditions to the letter… when she saw the tall woman with the regal bearing standing behind a large and intricately carved sword stand, Sakarra almost smiled again. This one certainly looked as if she might take offense at a breach of protocol.

Raising her hand in salute, she went with her instinct and therefore into full formal mode “Sakarra Cha T’Sora. T'nar pak sorat y'rani.”

The woman nodded approvingly. “T’Shonra Cha T’Pau. T'nar jaral.”


The sound of Sovar exhaling softly behind her almost ruined Sakarra’s composure - he had obviously feared she might commit some kind of fauxpas and now radiated relief. The thought of ever calm Sovar actually holding his breath as he trailed behind his unpredictable young relative was enough to make her grin inwardly and she was rather proud of herself for displaying nothing but stoic dignity. At least if one didn’t look TOO close.

However, T’Shonra seemed satisfied and motioned Sakarra to step forward after briefly acknowledging Sovar’s presence. The older woman gave Sakarra an appraising look that caused her to tilt her head in mild puzzlement and then selected a sword from the several dozen displayed on the shop’s walls. “Thee are smaller than Sovar described. Is it that his logic in evaluating your size was in abeyance or merely his description poor?”


Sakarra took the offered weapon with a smooth movement stemming from lots of practice and pondered her response. “Maybe it is neither. Have you considered the possibility that I am not as small as I appear?”

“Hm” T’Shonra gave what positively qualified as a Vulcan huff - or was it actually a smirk? - and the young woman could feel Sovar shifting uncomfortably behind her. Well, if anyone was going to talk that way about him it would be her, no one else. Sakarra felt quite entitled to complain about Sovar in no uncertain terms, but for some reason T’Shonra’s remark had ruffled her feathers. Might as well make that clear here and now and if the elder lady took it as impolite, then so be it.

She seemed unperturbed, however, and simply selected another sword.

“Indeed I have. Now thee should consider the possibility that an artist wishes to test a theory.”

Sakarra raised a brow in mild surprise but gave a respectful nod before accepting the other sword. It was slightly longer and heavier but she immediately recognized how perfectly balanced it was and how nicely it complemented her stature.

“Nunau ish-veh” T’Shonra nodded, her expression as satisfied as that of a Le-Matya after the kill. Sakarra got the distinct impression that it would be unwise to cross this woman but for some reason she didn’t feel even slightly intimidated.

Fascinating.

She handed the sword back and T’Shonra placed it on the stand before walking over to a small table. Motioning to Sovar, whom she’d pointedly ignored until now, she picked up a small item wrapped in velvet and held it out to the young man. “Give my greetings to your foremother. Mene sakkhet ur-seveh, Sovar.”

He gave his most graceful bow and Sakarra correctly assumed that they were dismissed. Offering another salute, she answered for both of them “Sochya eh dif, T‘Shonra”

“Peace and long life, daughter of T’Sora” with this, the elder Vulcan lady turned and left for what Sakarra assumed were her living quarters behind the shop. She was still not quite sure what all this had been about but her stomach was now rather vehemently insisting on lunch and so she strode past Sovar, who had been waiting for her to precede him yet again.

The streets were completely empty now and Sakarra looked up at her mentor and friend, fighting the urge to tease him about his extremely proper behavior “Any more surprises or can we go eat now?”

“I am certain our table is still waiting. After you, my lady.”

One of these days she would smack him behind the ear. He had it coming…

"Nevasa" Part IV

[Village of Xen‘tal, Gol province, Vulcan]

7th Day in the month of ta’Krat , YS 9014



T’Mya immediately recognized the two young Vulcans walking into her mother’s restaurant garden. Few people had to actually duck when walking through the stone arch overgrown with hardy, red-leaved vines, but this dark haired one with the eyes of a hunting Shavokh and the feline movements was one of them. It looked almost like a dance, the way he half bowed, half ducked, part turned, to let the young female in the sand colored robes walk ahead of him.

As usual, T’Mya was intrigued by this one’s appearance - to the casual observer, she was merely another young Vulcan with somewhat softer features than most, and the curls that one could see despite the tightly braided chignon were exotic, but not entirely unusual.

Only if one looked closer, at the eyes that were just a little too dark and the woman’s movements, which always seemed a little too carefully measured, did one realize she was of mixed heritage.

She filled two glasses with fresh, cold water and followed the two to their usual table. After they’d settled down, she put the glasses in front of them and offered the friendly greeting reserved for the better known guests of the old Inn. “Tonk’peh. What may I serve you today?”


Still alternating between puzzlement, curiosity and mild annoyance, Sakarra was grateful for the soothing effect of the garden. She allowed Sovar to continue with his ridiculously formal behavior and strode ahead of him with the demeanor of miffed royalty. Sitting down in the elegant chair that looked more like a work of art than part of a seating arrangement, she indicated the place opposite her with a small wave of her hand. After performing another flawlessly elegant half-bow Sovar sat down, but Sakarra had already decided to leave him to his antics and returned T’Mya’s greeting with a friendly nod “Tonk’peh va’ashiv, T’Mya. The ploomek, please.”


Pointedly ignoring the mischief that sparkled in Sovar’s dark eyes even as he indicated to the young Vulcan woman to bring him the same, Sakarra let her gaze wander over her surroundings. Although by now she was familiar with every plant, stone and grain of sand here, she never grew tired of appreciating the harmony of it all. Like with most Vulcan architecture, sharp angles of any kind were in short supply and the walls surrounding the garden were just high enough to provide shade without obstructing anyone’s view of the sky. Or rather, patches of sky.

Graceful stone arches which seemed almost too thin to support their own weight were covered with the same vines that greeted the visitor at the entrance, providing a mesmerizing pattern of light and shade on every surface. The cheerfully bubbling fountain in the center was surrounded by sturdy desert grass and tiny, delicate flowers, adding the sweet scent of cold water and spicy blossoms to the clean desert air and the most compelling aromas from the Inn’s kitchen.


Steepling her fingers under her chin, Sakarra looked back towards Sovar, whose sharp features were somewhat softened by the filtered light, but who in his dark robes more than ever seemed like some rogue disreputable character impersonating a respectable Vulcan. The amusing thought together with the serenity of this place made the young woman’s good humor return and so she merely raised a brow when he placed the mysterious small velvet bag in front of her.

“So, more surprises after all” she said levelly, tracing the black fabric with her fingers under Sovar’s watchful gaze. She considered tantalizing him just a little and took a sip of the refreshingly cold water, ignoring both the bag and his expectant look.

But she had to admit, she was touched. Although random gifts within the family were nothing unusual - what could be more logical than showing appreciation with small gestures that one knew would be met with approval - Sakarra had not thought Sovar to be one for displaying such sentiment. At least not directly and moreover, in public.


T’Mya returned and set two deep stone bowls with steaming hot soup in front of them before retreating again. Her glance at both the young people and the item on the table had been brief enough to not be intrusive and therefore could be politely ignored. Still, Sakarra had a fairly good idea what might be going through T’Mya’s mind right now and certainly, so did Sovar.

Shaking her head slowly, she finally picked up the soft fabric and was mildly surprised by the weight of whatever it contained “You DO enjoy skirting the edges of scandalous behavior, no?”

“I am not certain I know what you mean” he said, his hands folded in front of him as he waited for her to proceed.

"He'elef ka hij" her face was unreadable, but through the resonance of their telepathic bond he could sense she was teasing him. The undercurrent of warmth and understanding he had picked up from her before, although rarely directed towards him in such clarity, made Sovar blink for a moment.


Finally, she opened the bag and he noticed with near un-Vulcan glee how her eyes widened ever so slightly at the sight of the content.

“Now, just how did you come by Versina?” she held the bracelet into the light, appreciating the beauty of the intricate details. Vulcan gold and Betazoid crystals in marvelous harmony, the design making elements of both cultures flow into one another so effortlessly one hardly noticed the difference.

“I recently had the opportunity to visit Betazed, however briefly. A most enlightening experience” he gently took the bracelet from her unresisting hand and set about fastening it around her wrist.

“I should think so” her dark eyes were now sparkling with an intensity even the crystals couldn’t match and Sovar once again noticed how infectious her barely contained humor was to him. He would most certainly have to gain better control over himself in this matter - in addition to some other irregularities. Like how she repeatedly seemed to make him behave in rather unusual fashion, evidently without even noticing. Fascinating.


“Which reminds me - “ her low, resonant voice interrupted his train of thought and he looked up at Sakarra with a tilted head “exactly where were you these past few weeks?”

“Starfleet had requested a decryption specialist” he answered levelly, picking up his ploomek and inhaling the spicy scent. “Hm” Sakarra favored him with an amusedly raised brow that clearly spelled ‘pull the other one, dear’. But she matched his equanimity without missing a beat “And they most certainly had a logical reason to ship said specialist across the quadrant instead of sending the material to be decrypted to Vulcan”

She redirected her attention towards the food as well, lest the smile in her eyes got a chance to reach her lips.


“Indeed” his look might have sent someone who didn’t know Sovar as well as Sakarra did run for the hills. At astonishing speed.

“I always suspected you were an especially skilled ... decryption specialist.”

She decided to drop the matter before his eyebrows had a chance to climb above his hairline.

“Would you mind to switch our exercise to Lirpas this afternoon? I appear to have a similar tendency to overcompensate.”

Putting down the stone bowl, Sovar studied the young woman’s face for any signs of more mischief, but to no avail. Still, he knew that timbre of her voice too well. She was up to something. Again.

“At your service as always, my lady”


He neither flinched nor ducked, and the ploomek soup including bowl did indeed not come flying towards him. Random chance had operated in his favor. This time.


"This is the Vulcan Heart" Part I

Stars of the summer night!

Far in yon azure deeps,

Hide, hide your golden light!

She sleeps!

My lady sleeps!

(Henry Wadsworth Longfellow)


[Family estate in Kir province, East of Shi‘Kahr, Vulcan]

12th Day in the month of et`Khior , YS 9014


The fiery light of T’Khut was waning now, although the leaves in the garden still reflected some of the last scarlet and copper hues. The sky above was as a dome of black silk, broken only by the silver twinkle of stars in this clearest, coldest hour of the night.

Soon, Nevasa would rise in all her splendor, but for now there was only darkness in the gardens, and the quiet murmur of the fountains. Even the nightly breeze had fallen silent, leaving the scent of orchids and hla-meth herbs to linger as a dark shadow passed by them, barely breaking the all encompassing stillness with the rustling of heavy robes.


The patch of moving darkness paused by a mighty Gespar tree, and long, supple fingers briefly moved into the light that shone from the terrace’s lanterns, trailing across one of the rich, amaranth-red fruits that weighed the tree’s branches. The shuffling of giant paws, set ever so carefully on the gravel path leading down from the house, was joined by a hopeful purr as the Sehlat recognized the scent of the fruit as ripe, near bursting with tangy sweetness.

“Kwoh-seh k’avaysu.” the deep baritone had Warya’s ears twitch with joy, for it echoed with affection and good humor, and indeed, no two heartbeats later the Gespar was plucked from the branch and carefully offered to his waiting fangs. There had been much joy in this house of late, and as far as the Sehlat was concerned, life was good.

Sovar watched the deeply content Warya crack open the Gespar shell and with a mild smile shining in his eyes went on to select another for she who was still sleeping in the room above. A brief glance to the dormant house, a graceful, sprawling outline against the silver starlight, confirmed that none but the watchful Sehlat had stirred as of yet.

Somewhat surprising perhaps, that even T’Para herself should not be wandering the ancient halls yet, but he knew well the sound sleep of his friend even and especially when the coming day would prove to be … extraordinary.


Scratching the happily rumbling Sehlat behind the ears, his gaze sought one particular balcony facing the gardens, a shadow among others, were it not for the light shimmer of the ivory curtains behind the stone balustrade.

“Tra’ye‘h-tor ait’lun t`na‘veh” Sovar murmured and for just a second, Warya stopped munching while his ears turned towards this strange undertone in the Vulcan’s level voice. To the wise old Sehlat, little was hidden and he briefly nodded his majestic head in agreement before returning his focus to the matter at paw. Oh, the words meant little to him, but he knew the tenor of longing for that which was not, and could not be.

Although sometimes, if one was bold enough, one could cheat the Powers themselves as Warya well knew, and as the scars hidden beneath his lustrous fur plainly told. Maybe on some quiet evening, he would rumble his stories to this silent hunter with the kind hands, and if he listened closely, he might even understand. After all, she with the voice like rain and wind could be made to understand very well indeed.


Just as T’Khut’s last glimmer died on the horizon and the desert fell into deep darkness, Sovar soundlessly moved towards the house, one shadow among many, and Warya nodded once more in approval before he followed the scent of an even sweeter Gespar. Certainly, she could be asked to share.


The door, such as it was, stood open as always, and he knew full well that no sound had given him away. But with a surge of pride he realized that the lithe, still form under the silks was watching him with calm eyes, darker than even the nightly sky.

“Ha’tha ti’lu, Sakarra”.

“And you, Sovar” she murmured, stretching lazily under the covers that shone as bright in the darkness as Seleya’s snow capped peak must have in ages past.


“She still sleeps, yes?” there was a bit of amusement in the young woman’s hushed voice, and Sovar could not help but respond in kind as he moved to the side of her bed and settled comfortably on the floor. “You are surprised? I should think T’Para perfectly able to sleep soundly the very night before Nevasa would rain death on her children again. What, compared to that, is a simple wedding?”

“What indeed.” she smiled in the darkness, and he was wise enough not to comment on this but rather enjoy the wave of humor and gratitude that rolled off her like the warmth of her body, when she reached for the Gespar in his hands.

“You however seem to have resumed your nightly wanderings, although I would be ungracious to chide your appearance after you brought me a gift.”

His appearance? Ah, well, yes. One could argue that desert sand and dust clinging to one’s hair and robes were not suitable for a wedding.

“Still one full v’hral until sunrise. I should think I will be able to remedy this in time.”


She nodded, causing the river of black hair to slide off her shoulders and reveal that again she had not bothered with any type of nightgown.

“Is this wise?” his question was stated in the most calm and logical manner, and if there was anything echoing in the light telepathic thread, it was merely mild concern for her health. He reached for the soft roundness of a shoulder, and permission was given silently, amusedly, long before his fingertips brushed against the smooth, thankfully warm skin.

“If one has spent many a night on Betazed, wrapped in every piece of fabric available, even the coldest summer night on Vulcan is too pleasant to bother with excess clothing.” she murmured, and for a fleeting moment it seemed as if she would lean her head against the tender hand still resting on her shoulder.

“Logical.” he managed to say, stoically and evenly, although just then his breath had nearly caught in his throat. Oh, that every time he thought he was in control of this madness it should surface unbidden and at the most difficult time.


How could he not be tempted to follow the elegant curve of her shoulder towards the beautiful face, an image etched in gold by the dim firelights that shone through the door from the chandeliers out in the long gallery, and trace those features that haunted him day and night, until his fingertips would find the lips that still shimmered in the echo of a smile, for a kiss that would burn away the last shred of reason?

Madness indeed.


It was the Sehlat yet again who saved him from betraying that which he’d been able to hide for so long. The young woman’s questioning gaze had rested on him for several heartbeats, seeking the reason for his stillness in unmoved features, and he knew it would have been only another second passing like a lifetime until a silent question would have floated through the ever so light mental thread between them. A question he could not answer, but that might well have let the last of his composure crumble to dust.


Now she turned to the massive ball of fur shouldering his way through the doorframe, and he could hear the silent laughter as clearly as if her voice reached his ears, the musical, heartbreaking sound of deeply lived joy.

“Warya.” her deep, soft voice conveyed a greeting so loving, the Sehlat stopped his efforts for a moment to purr happily, like a rockslide in the mountains, and then his giant paws resumed scraping against the stone floor.

Stuck again.

“Losrak, iza’uh.” Sakarra murmured, and the Sehlat rumbled agreement. A moment later, he broke fee and shuffled up to the bed, plopping down next to his friends with a heavy sigh. Surely, he deserved some fruit for all that he had hauled his old bones up the stairs and through the wicked door. And as if she knew - but yes, of course she would, Warya thought to himself - he heard the shell cracked open with great care. A full half of the fruit was offered to him and the Sehlat sighed again, grateful and content.


“I shall take my leave, t’sai.” Sovar’s rich, level baritone sounded over Warya’s happy munching. “As you correctly pointed out, my appearance requires … adjustment.”

The young woman inclined her head, but not soon enough to hide the amused twinkle in her black eyes. As swiftly and silently as he had entered, the Vulcan moved towards the door, trying not to remember how it had felt when his hand dropped away from her skin and brushed against the silken, fragrant hair, knowing that he would fail.

“Sovar.”

He paused in the doorway, fervently clinging to his composure. There was a tender ‘thank you’ in her voice, nothing more. Whatever else he thought he might have heard, it had to be conjured by his desire for it to be so. Turning around, he bowed, not able to look away from the image before him and wishing he could.

Silks, outlining a body relaxed but alert, and of a shape that would make a monk reconsider the truth of the universe, and emerging from the shimmering white fabric, … shoulders the warmth and smoothness of which he knew much too well for his peace of mind. Luminous eyes regarded him in silence and the open affection in her face was like a spear through his already wounded side.

“Ki`nam-tor dh’or eh sanosh, t’sai.”

“H’eh nuhk’es, r’hi.”

“Yeht’aya.”


Another bow, and he disappeared into the shadows. The house would wake soon, and she who was going to bring home her bond-mate today would very likely need a friend to wake her as well.

Unnoticed by either of the young Vulcans, a Sehlat’s golden gaze followed the receding shape into the corridor, a deeply thoughtful look in its wise old eyes.


"This is the Vulcan Heart" Part II

“What thee are about to see comes down from the time of the Beginning. This is the Vulcan heart, this is the Vulcan soul -- this is our way.”


[Clan Ceremonial site, Tat’Sahr province, Southwest of Ta’Vistar, Vulcan]

12th Day in the month of et`Khior , YS 9014


Hot. Oven-hot. Searing and scorching, and it was only just morning, the gigantic mass of flames these people called their hearth star rising over the parched flatlands. And yet, the air was clear, so sharp it cut like a blade.

Tugging on the collar of his gods-cursed dress uniform, Commander Ranil Ranasinghe felt the sweat trickle down his neck and wondered if he was going to make it through this whole thing without excusing himself to find a pool with ice water. By Shiva, no wonder they had fought century long wars over a single well here.

He felt a light tap on his shoulder and a blue hand reached out, holding – an ice cube. Thrandasar, bless her heart. Well, at least that explained how his Andorian wife had managed to cope with this deadly climate – she had come prepared. He should have expected that.

“You know, you still haven’t told me how you come to know so much about the pointy eareds, my love.” He thought he had spoken in a low and soft enough voice to go unheard by anyone not within two feet, but a few steps away a head with those very ears canted ever so lightly, Sutek’s typical reaction when something had caught his interest.


Ranil was not sure whether to chuckle or groan. Or both, maybe.

How the Vulcan managed to wear those heavy robes without dying from the heat that had to be already smoldering under the endless meters of fabric, he had no idea. For a surety, Sutek looked … splendid. Imposing would maybe be overstating the matter a bit, since ‘five foot and a hair’s breadth’ as Mr Donegan loved to put it did not make for an impressive stature. But one had to own the deep rosewood hue of his ceremonial robes gave an air of elegance to the man everyone knew only as a quiet, unobtrusive presence in the background – until things went donut shaped. Then he seemed to be everywhere at once, getting underfoot in that calm, persistent Vulcan way of his, exuding an air of authority that even Ranil knew better than to argue with.

He wondered what his wife to be was like.

And he hoped like hell he wasn’t going to lose his Chief medical officer because Sutek would go … wherever she was. Maybe the good lady could be bargained with, or maybe he got lucky and she wasn’t of the traditional sort who would insist on the one year and …

“Thryenne.”

“Huh?”

“One of my mothers. She served in the imperial guard.”


Ranil did a mental somersault and nodded. “She taught you about Vulcans? How come?”

His beautiful wife’s antennae twisted in amusement “Know thine enemy. Stupid as it may sound, there’s still a bit of old enmity smoldering here and there and Thryenne never bought the ‘We’re just sweet harmless philosphers’ routine. She had a point, I’ll admit as much. But I also know our doc here would rather jump head first out of an airlock than let his temper run loose and hurt someone. And I think so would most of them.” The Andorian shrugged, chewing absentmindedly on another ice cube. The tri-ox compound made breathing easier for all of them, but there was nothing to be done about the blasted heat and gravity. Nothing except keep fluids at hand and hope they’d not be standing here until the first non-Vulcan collapsed.

“So what are we waiting for again lassie?” the Scottish engineers voice was nowhere near as cranky as one might have expected and Thrandasar silently wondered if the strange skirt that went with Donegan’s Dress jacket had anything to do with the fact the man was sweating less than her own mate who came from a much hotter climate.

“Her, Chief. We’re waiting for her.”

“The bride? Where’s she comin’ from? All the way from Cestus Three? Takin’ her long enough.”

“Kir, I think. Sutek mentioned something to that effect. If they’re doing it the old fashioned way and ride out with Nor-Sehlat honor guard, it’ll take a while to get all the fluffy beasts loaded and lined up.”


Eyes as radiantly blue as Andorian ale shot the woman with her sweat matted white hair an exasperated look and Thrandasar snickered. But she had to stop herself from ruining the dignity of this place completely by laughing out loud when Sithundë who up until now had been quietly miserable suddenly turned a startled hue of purple and flailed wildly with the tentacle holding his own bucket with icewater. For sure, the sound of the massive bronze gong made Thrandasar’s antennae tingle but she had not thought it would unsettle the poor Sulamid this bad the second time around. Maybe this would turn out to be a funny wedding after all.

“Do I even want to know?” Ranil whispered in his lovely wife’s ear and she shook her head, pressing her lips together. And then they all heard it – silver bells in the distance, coming closer.


The horribly bright sun had just begun to creep over the rocks surrounding the amphitheater-like structure they were standing in and if Ranil had thought the heat had been a horrible nuisance until now, he quickly revised it to ‘Gods-damn unbelievable’.

“The first one was to let them know we’re here.” Thrandasar whispered back, finally sure she would not erupt into a laughing fit “The second time he sort of says hello after he hears the wedding party arrive. Or welcome. I’m waiting. Anyways, he’s going to hit that gong one more time soon and you might want to stay out of reach of any tentacles.”

“Noted.”


Unperturbed as ever, Sutek stood on the small dais flanked by two heavy braziers smoldering with a deep red glow and giving off a strangely fresh, exotic scent. Somehow Ranil had not thought anything on a desert planet should be allowed to smell like Himalayan birch trees and spiced chai, but it did. Then again, no man waiting for his bride should be allowed to be as completely not nervous as the small Vulcan standing on the rust colored stone surrounded by glittering red sand. All he did was stare towards a small archway with his typical cheerful serenity, not one fawn-colored hair out of place. It somehow didn’t seem fair. Ranil remembered his own wedding day as hours filled with dread and exhilarating joy and no small amount of drinks. Actually, by the time the two grooms had stumbled out to meet the brides, both had already been … well, a bit tipsy. Fine, more than a bit. But no one had taken it amiss when the husbands had arrived arm in arm, breaking into love songs at the sight of their beautiful wives.

Sure, Ranil had not thought he’d ever end up in a marriage that required four people but after all was said and done, it was a great thing. And thanks to the man over there and some utterly charming Efrosian doctor living on Andoria they would soon have their first baby. He was still getting used to that idea.


The silver bells got louder and finally two tall, grey clad males walked out of the shadows, carrying finely wrought hexagons of gleaming metal. Right behind them two more strapping guys who looked as if they could wrestle a bear carried a litter … well whoever the woman sitting in the chair of dark wood was, a blind elephant could see she was related to Sutek. The same pale hair, something Ranil had thought was extremely rare on this planet, and the same high cheekbones in a tranquil face. Eyes like liquid amber took in the assortment of bedraggled outworlders shifting uncomfortably in the heat and Sutek went to greet the lady and introduce his friends.


That had to be his matriarch, then. Which meant the bride would make her entrance soon. Squinting against the blinding sun, Ranil could at first only make out a robe the color of ripe peaches, outlining a quite stunning figure but if he was any judge, the lady was just as short as her husband-to-be, if not outright frail. And then they floated into the sunlight pouring down across the ancient stones.


Vishnu have mercy, she was beautiful. A face like chiseled from finest marble and eyes like smoked topaz, darker than the Indian Ocean when a storm churned its waves and glittering like starlight. Shiny black hair coiled atop her head like a crown, finely pointed ears and slanted brows like the wings of a raven taking flight.

Ranil barely heard his engineer’s low whistle and the muttered “Lucky bastard” because right behind the vision of beauty … two more Vulcans, one clad in black and silver, the other in shimmering terracotta and gold. Both carrying the heavy staff weapons with the terribly sharp crescent blades with an easy grace that made you forget how deadly the damn things were.

The tall, dark male with the implacable eyes and the aquiline features … Ranil had seen him only once, but the air of silent danger surrounding the man had remained very much the same.

As for her … she looked so small by comparison. But there was no doubt. Neatly coiled and braided sable hair that even from this distance looked softer than velvet and made you want to reach out and touch it. Features with an exquisite symmetry, beauty keen as a blade. And those very same eyes that had first looked down at him from a transporter platform, serene and unreadable; so dark you thought you’d drown in their depths if you looked into them too long.


He heard Thrandasar whisper and knew she was smiling without having to turn his head. “Our Ohashsu. Who would have thought.”

“Aye.” The Scot’s rueful answer was drowned by the ringing of more silver bells and then an unnatural silence fell as the bride and what Ranil assumed was her honor guard stepped forward.


“Ra tu ak gla-tor tev-tor s’wak t’Palikaya.” The matriarch’s surprisingly deep and husky voice echoed between the stones, commented only by a slight twitch of Thrandasar’s antennae “Nam-tor u’khaf-spol Vuhlkansu - nam-tor u’katra Vuhlkansu - nam-tor u’sha’yut.”


The gong rang loudly a third, final time and there was the distinct sound of ice water splashing to the ground. At least Sithundë hadn’t dropped the bucket.

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