DISCLAIMER: The Star Trek characters are the property of Paramount Studios, Inc. The story contents are the creation and property of Doris Beetem and is copyright (c) 1978 by Doris Beetem. This story is Rated PG.
Of Which Reason Knows Nothing
On Deneb V, the Festival of Glimmer Lights was in progress. Two humans watched the procession of aliens, shining like wet seals, who carried piles covered with greeny-luminescent strands of beads.
"Karl! You shouldn't have!" gasped Amanda, wife to the Vulcan ambassador, as the other human snapped a bracelet onto her wrist.
"Nonsense - glowpearls aren't expensive here. Believe me, if my embassy had wanted to bribe you, the Vulcan vote's worth far more." Karl Reinhardt laughed, impishly trying to look like an innocent elderly gentleman. "Consider it a souvenir of Deneb - and me."
"Well..." Amanda equivocated. She decided not to argue in the drizzling fog and clasped his hand warmly, spattering him with droplets from her hood. "As a token of esteem, then."
* * *
Amanda smiled, hurrying toward Vulcan diplomatic quarters. Karl Reinhardt was five years older than she, but he was still a ladies' man, well-combed white mustache and all. He made her feel that there might be some mileage in her yet, if it weren't for her Vulcan and his Betsey. Still, it was nice to know that she hadn't lost her flirtsmanship.
The Vulcan embassy on Deneb V was currently on the top floor of a small Federation hotel. Hurrying out of the turbolift, Amanda sniffed the pleasing, if musty, odor of Vulcan incense that signaled the end of work hours at the embassy. Its rooms were a red-tapestried steambath. Sarek had been turning up the thermostat again.
He was at the end of the foyer, lighting incense. When she approached him, Sarek smiled faintly and touched her two fingers with his. "You're late."
"I didn't expect you back for hours yet," Amanda replied, gaily shaking out her rainhood. "What happened to your factory tours?"
"They were canceled due to the holiday. Amanda," Sarek said, standing cross-armed by the double doors, "Dr. Reinhardt is a member of the Deneb IV delegation."
"And one of the enemy? But we're only competing with Four over trade rights. I hardly think there are any vital secrets to give away. Besides, Karl is a darling."
"I still dislike the association."
Viewing the familiar, obstinate cant of Sarek's head, Amanda was already mentally composing her regrets to the Denebian aide. Oh, well... Sarek would find himself at several more picturesque dinners than he'd anticipated, then.
"Lady Amanda, you should have been in my lace today," interjected the polite voice of Spaedu, Sarek's aide. He had appeared from the commons room, still wearing the archaic robes that a long-dead Vulcan diplomat had decreed for formal conferences. "I was worthless at the Festival socializing."
"Were you told, Spaedu, what the Festival of Glimmer Lights is all about?" Amanda asked. "It's certainly beautiful."
"A typical fertility ceremony, I believe."
Sarek snorted, almost imperceptibly. "I shall return later tonight," he said and stalked down the corridor to the turbolift. Amanda smiled at Spaedu and returned to her quarters. Later, drowsily, it occurred to Amanda that she should have insisted Sarek wear a raincoat; Vulcans caught cold so easily. "He's a big boy now," she thought, snuggling under the covers. "I can't always make him do what he ought."
* * *
Spaedu looked too much like Spock. Amanda always imagined him looking pained and saying, "Now, Mother..."
"My God, how did it happen?" she asked. Her eyes began to smart, but she told herself fiercely, You're the Vulcan ambassador's wife! No tears!
"Reinhardt's neck was broken, Lady Amanda, sometime last night. Unfortunately, you are the last person known to have seen him."
"Who could have killed Karl?"
The Vulcan stirred his tea and poured more for her. "We went through this five months ago, on the Enterprise. Any Vulcan. Or an Andorian perhaps, or an agent specially trained in martial arts. Which brings us full circle: whoever killed Karl Reinhardt was someone capable of killing Karl Reinhardt."
Amanda realized that she was fiddling with her bracelet clasp. "Andoria has no interests here, but we do. I mean Vulcan does." She unhooked the band of pearls and set it carefully down. It was not a momento she wanted to think about just now.
"And we are therefore suspect, I understand," Spaedu continued, somewhat awkwardly. "The Ambassador orders that our official statement be - 'No comment'."
"Well, there's not much..." Amanda stopped short. "I may not even send a tape to his widow?"
The Vulcan aide waited patiently. He had found that unnecessary questions did not require unnecessary answers.
"And he sent you to tell me." Amanda could have used Vulcan strength at that moment. Bending teaspoons in half, she thought, would be such a useless vent of emotion.
"The Ambassador would prefer that you remain detached from these proceedings." Spaedu inclined his head and added, "I am sorry."
* * *
The Ambassadress from Deneb IV invited Amanda to lunch two weeks after the death of her attache. Nina Tannenbaum was currently representing the colonists of Deneb IV, which fooled nobody. Amanda had met her several times before as a troubleshooter for the Terran Polysotechnic League, which was, of course, pushing Deneb IV's trade proposals.
"I'm sorry about your aide, Karl Reinhardt, but since his death may have political implications, Sarek wants all statements to go through him." Amanda felt uncomfortable - no wonder, when the spot Nina had picked for their "comfy chat" was a private sitting room of characteristic Tannenbaum decor. Well-stuffed.
Nina Tannenbaum, a striking brunette, was dressed in her usual much-loved silver lamé. She was smoking cigarettes just now, probably (Amanda thought) to make her look like Greta Garbo. "Tell me, Amanda," she asked nonchalantly, "was he always a bastard, or did he practice?" She was hunting a receptacle for her cigarette's ashes and finding nothing but antiques.
"You weren't heartbroken over Karl's death when it happened. He was a homegrown Denebian bureaucrat," Amanda said indignantly. "You're up to something."
"I'm not weeping crocodile tears, but believe me, I would be very pleased to see his killer quartered. Oh, yes, didn't you know? The natives are very rigorous - that's the penalty for killing an ambassador." Nine shrugged and continued wryly, "I want to know if your husband's going to lock horns with me again for fun."
"He never does that. You just lose your temper so enjoyably." The smell of Nina's shrimp curry weakened Amanda's resolution to 'just coffee'. Frustrated by the useless bell-pull, she found a request-com discreetly bronze-buttoned on an end table and ordered toast. Pushing the button again, Amanda changed the order to oysters Rockefeller. No sense wasting Nina's ostentatious kitchen.
"You said it yourself, Amanda - homegrown. With the Deneb IV colony actually in the system, why are the Vulcans competing with us for a heavy machinery contract with Five?"
"Homegrown was an expression; twenty-one years old and still growing is more like it. Nina, your product's cheaper - push that. Vulcan's would have less cultural impact." The oysters arrived. "The natives aren't Prime Directive. They can make up their own minds."
"Meanwhile, what about the killing?"
Amanda looked up sharply. "I'm very angry with his attitude, but as Sarek says - that's your problem. If you try to make it Sarek's, you're in for trouble."
"I know that. Slam a Vulcan's honor and he goes up the wall - I'd have Vulcan on my back for the next twenty-five years."
* * *
In her embassy quarters, Amanda changed to a lightweight silk shift. No sense fussing about the heat. Then she ducked into the bathroom and brushed her teeth, expunging guilty traces of animal protein.
After a final primp, she entered the commons room. It was half-dark. The tapestries, Sarek's favorite home-touch, showed faintly as vague warriors and even vaguer princesses. On the chess table, Spock's last move waited untouched, a week after it had been received.
Amanda sighed. Sarek was still sulking and neither Spaedu nor Stennis would be here. Stennis in particular found watching marital disagreements unnerving; she just hoped his parents had found him an unusually stolid young girl.
The reading lamp at the other side of the room clicked on. Tiptoeing over, Amanda peeked over a chair back and found her husband studying papers and schematics. Sarek looked up at her calmly, not quite offering two fingers to touch. "I napped for a time. There is still work to be done."
His wife snorted. "If you can nap wearing the Vulcan Legion of Honor, then you can do your reading in bed." She swivelled the chair around and added a final tease, "Logically."
He was lying in bed when she arrived a little later, his back turned toward her. "No, damn it, I won't say I'm wrong," Amanda thought. "Karl was my friend. I am involved with his death." She slipped into bed beside him. It always ended this way ... Sarek needed her really, for so very much.
He was tense. Amanda pulled at his velour nightrobe and began to rub his back, kneading the muscles from his neck down. Back rubs had embarrassed her before, so she'd taken a course in Swedish massage. They taught about muscles ... and tonus ... and ... hmmm...
Sarek turned to her, hair rumpled. His fingers gripped her chin and temple passionately for the Touch. He did need her.
It always ended this way, too.
* * *
Staring disconsolately out the window, Amanda watched drops congeal and runnel down her field of vision. "I can't tell you how this takes me back," Amanda commented to Spaedu. "'Mommy, can I go out and play?' 'No, dear, it's raining.'"
"The Ambassador wishes you to remain on embassy ground."
"But I don't want to!"
"Lady Amanda," Spaedu explained patiently, "Reinhardt's killer has not been apprehended. All the remaining delegates are, therefore, threatened. Sarek chooses, in what may be an overreaction, to protect you within the embassy itself."
"And he's not protected - he's outside with the conference. I want to get out - I have to do something!" As Spaedu remained unmoved, Amanda added dangerously, "If I can't get out, I may scream!"
The aide shot one eyebrow up and glanced at her appraisingly. Small wonder the Lady Amanda was disturbed; the Ambassador would not have this authority over a Vulcan woman.
Seeing him weaken, Amanda suggested, "Why don't we both go out? You can guard me." The Vulcan shrugged, put on a crocheted sweater, a raincoat, another raincoat and acquiesced.
* * *
Amanda decided to re-tour the places Karl had shown her, from museums displaying totem poles, to restaurants serving seaweed, to gift shops cannily prepared for the alien eye. By the time they returned, she was laughing and even the Vulcan Spaedu had mellowed to an occasional, "Indeed."
Sarek, in formal garb, was waiting for them in the foyer. "Go to our room," he told his wife coldly. Amanda was about to protest when she caught Spaedu's look of entreaty. So she hurried toward their sleeping quarters with little attempt at dignity and brooded for some hours. "Sarek is getting impossible. Someone really out to... No, no one can influence Sarek."
* * *
Amanda was dropping off to guilty dreams when the intercom awakened her. Spaedu's words sounded odd and tinny as he gasped, "Milady. Come ... come quickly." Amanda's feet were in bedroom slippers and she was nearly to the door before she stopped to think. By that time the door was sliding open, so she rushed into the commons room.
Sarek was facing Spaedu, their bodies for an instant totally quiet. By lamplight, Amanda saw that blood was trickling from Spaedu's nose. Then Sarek aimed a vicious overhanded swing at his aide, snarling as he did so, "Not your lady!"
A circuit tripped in her head and Amanda heard herself shouting, "Kroykah!" Sarek froze, eyes large-pupiled, and Spaedu grabbed the reading lamp and smashed it over Sarek's head.
The Terran woman dropped to her husband's side. He was breathing stertorously, and the blow that felled him had laid open his temple. She was handed a scarf to stanch the welling green.
Spaedu looked sick. He wiped his nose on his sleeve and made to touch the ambassador. Seeing Amanda's frantic attempt to protect her husband, he mumbled impatiently, "No, woman ... I need to check..." He pushed her aside as his fingers, butterfly-light, contacted Sarek in the Touch, smearing one thumb green in the process.
Amanda waited anxiously. It didn't look good; Spaedu's lower lip was quivering. But what had happened?
Finally Spaedu straightened. "There is a skull fracture but no brain injury." His face contorted in a horrible grimace. "For whatever that's worth."
Amanda looked at him in shock. "He tried to kill me," the Vulcan said. As she continued silence, Spaedu added, "He killed Reinhardt, probably Gav - I didn't go that far back."
"But ... why?" Amanda breathed. It wasn't possible. She looked down at Sarek. He was still the same, still the lifemate of forty years. It couldn't be happening.
"Vulcan jealousy is a very strong instinct."
"He was jealous?" Amanda asked incredulously. Of Karl - of a Tellarite - of you?"
"He is not sane, Amanda."
The world lurched, as if gravity was pulling up instead of down. She saw that she was stroking Sarek's hair, over and over. "I thought that didn't happen."
"That Vulcans value rationality does not make irrationality impossible."
"We can't let the Denebians find out," she said dully. "They'd kill him. Oh, God - they'd quarter him!"
"What is that?" was nearly on Spaedu's lips. He reconsidered and said merely, "You are right." Amanda looked up at him in surprise. Whatever happened to "duty" and "obligation"? "This purely personal matter could destroy Vulcan's standing in the Federation," Spaedu continued. "It might even harm Commander Spock's career. If it can be arranged, it would be better to heal Sarek privately, on Vulcan."
Amanda, crouching close to her mate, thought furiously. "Nina Tannenbaum would bend half a dozen laws if it got the Vulcan delegation off Deneb V. But she'd blackmail Sarek later."
"Ambassador Sarek," Spaedu said frostily, "will be in no position to be blackmailed."
Picturing for the first time the pain at journey's end, Amanda started to cry. Oh, heaven, dear heaven, I cannot bear it... "Spaedu," she whispered, "how?"
"No doubt the madness appeared over a period of years. His relatives would not have noticed; most associated with him little since your marriage, as you know."
Oh, Spock, Sarek, Amanda thought painfully. Can you forgive me for what I have done to you? Aloud, she asked, "Spaedu, did all this happen ... because Sarek married me?"
"No," Spaedu said slowly. "I would rather estimate his marriage to be a symptom than a cause."
The terrible silence was broken at last by Sarek's moan, as he fluttered his eyes open. "I'm here, Sarek," Amanda whispered.
Sarek focused on her. He nodded slightly, dragging one arm over to touch her face. Amanda bent to kiss him on the lips, and he moved his hand to grasp her hair. As Sarek's fingers slid away with lagging consciousness, Amanda looked up to realize that Spaedu had momentarily feared for her safety.
As if it mattered, she thought.