DISCLAIMER: The Star Trek characters are the property of Paramount Studios, Inc. The story contents are the creation and property of Doris D. Beetem and is copyright (c) 1972 by Doris D. Beetem. Rated PG13.

Child-of-the-Tradition, or, Sluraz' Affirmation

Doris D. Beetem

Sluraz watched the Darvilian dust blow over the tiny landing field adjoining the Star Fleet Base, and attempted to calculate the odds that his wife would die, disconcerted that the wide number of imponderables gave him a 30% plus or minus margin. For his first wife, the probability had been 83%. She had died on Chiffewar.

Chiffewar was a pelagic planet, colonized only by humans; they had been unable to cure the fever which had carried off his wife. Worse ... after her death, he had had only humans to choose from.

He had found Melisande. She had listened carefully to his explanation of the necessity for the marriage; she had given every evidence of considering the proposition on a logical basis. Still, he suspected that her decision had been prompted by some emotion. She had asked for an immediate departure from Chiffewar after the ceremony. It would be the only request she would ever make, Melisande had said, with unsettling tears in her eyes ... blue eyes, which looked startling beneath her Vulcan-black hair.

Sluraz had been pleased to discover that the consummation of their marriage, necessary to the continuation of his life, had not entailed any excessively emotional incident. She had crept to him trembling in the dark, and her only complaint had been that his cabin temperature, which he maintained at 125 degrees, was somewhat unpleasant.

As she lay in his arms afterward, Sluraz computed the chances for a child. They were disappointingly low, unfortunately ... even lower than with his first wife. But it was still possible. He attempted to extrapolate Melisande's behavior as the mother of his child, failed, gave up impatiently and went to sleep.

The next scheduled port had been Darvil. It was only logical for him to continue his trade schedule, despite setbacks; his tiny craft operated under a tight budget. The Darvilians, large lumbering mammals a little like a sehlat or Terran grizzly bear, were passionately fond of sweets. They paid high prices for Earth honey, and would pay even more for his consignment of Vulcan yhotekhq which, unlike honey, would not keep indefinitely.

Melisande had announced her pregnancy belatedly, in Vulcan terms. Sluraz logged the coming birth scrupulously and aided as he could with Vulcan mental controls and the medical supplies aboard his tradeship; neither, however, had been intended for alien lifeforms.

The trip to Darvil consumed six standard months, twenty days. Melisande was often ill, which did not surprise Sluraz, but she cried about it, which was upsetting. He attempted to comfort her by pointing out that there would, after all, be adequate medical facilities when they arrived.

* * *

Sluraz pounded on the infirmary door, preparing to argue once more with the resident physician. The facilities were in no way adequate. Darvil had been classified Limited Access, and Star Fleet had no real interest in the planet. They had brought in minimal equipment, supposedly to lessen cultural contamination. It was also much cheaper.

Dr. Shrelv, his antennae twitching, said, "She'll be in labor several more hours. Sit down and stop worrying."

How easily Andorians assumed the presence of violent emotion. "I am not, as you say, worrying; however, I do demand that I be permitted in Melisande's presence," Sluraz replied, reflecting with some repugnance that this Andorian had touched his wife.

"You're disrupting," the Andorian argued. "Standing there muttering 'logic' and scaring her..."

"Better, I am sure than your maudlin sentiment," the Vulcan interrupted. "You cannot refuse my presence, however, under Star Fleet Medical Regulation 3926 point..."

"There's a regulation for that? All right then."

Sluraz entered the infirmary and pressed two fingers onto Melisande's wet black hair. "Calm," he said comfortingly. "The mind rules. There is no pain." His wife moaned alarmingly.

They fought for hours to aid a safe delivery, Dr. Shrelv, Sluraz suspected, with minimal skill and Melisande with draining strength. Finally the Andorian drew Sluraz aside and said, "Your wife is not strong. I have little blood of her type available, and neither my nurse nor myself have much experience with humans."

"I thought as much," Sluraz answered.

The Andorian said something quick and guttural, then continued with an almost unintelligible accent. "Your wife is in very great danger. Have I your permission to sacrifice the fetus?"

Sluraz looked at him coldly. "It is not the Vulcan way to destroy life."

"And the woman?"

"She will follow my judgment. She is my wife."

Shrelv ordered him out of the room again. Sluraz was quite prepared to use his superior strength to prevent dislodgement, when Melisande's lips laboriously formed the word "please." It seemed to him better, therefore, to avoid stirring up emotion, so he left.

Very close to the time of the rising of the second moon, Sluraz heard at the same time two cries, and, telepathically, the fading mind. He meditated until Dr. Shrelv and the nurse, an Andorian also, brought out a bundle.

"My wife is dead," Sluraz announced, before Shrelv could open his lips.

The doctor scowled at him and said flatly, "Your ... ah ... son."

Sluraz took the infant and examined him analytically. His features were in the human mode, his fingers and toes of the correct number and bright pink. Slowly he took in the impossible wisp of auburn hair (not a Vulcan shade) on the top of the child's head.

It might almost be said that Sluraz sighed, before he took himself firmly in hand. "My son," he said, carefully choosing to speak in Low Vulcan, which allows a certain amount of imprecision. "Child-of-the-Tradition."

The nurse said timorously, "Your wife said ... the last thing ... 'Ee-ahn'. I don't know if it's a Terran name ... or if she meant it for the child, but..."

Sluraz stared at her frostily. "Highly inappropriate. He will be called Slurand."