Disclaimer: Star Trek is the property of Paramount/Viacom. This story is the creation and property of Doris D. Beetem and is copyright © 1972 by Doris D. Beetem. Rated PG13. Originally published in Grup #1, 1972, edited by Carrie Brenham.



Doris D. Beetem


"Sergei," Lt. Tanya Minos called out, "Mind the controls for a while. I want to take a last swim with Hoopah."

Footsteps approached the deck of the tiny Star Fleet watership, Holluschickie. "Tanya, call me Lt. Ostrov if you must, but not that stupid, ersatz-Vulcan name. We're both human, even if you pretend you're not." Her ethnology partner appeared in the doorway, and his blonde, bovine face darkened. "If you're not going to use it," Sergei Ostrov said thickly, "then don't flaunt it."

Tanya was casually sliding tanned Grecian legs into a bikini bottom, a scarlet scrap incongruously ornamented with a communications insignia. "You humans attach an inordinate importance to the sight of bare flesh. I ,however, was raised on Vulc-" Tanya broke off in sudden horror, as Ostrov, totally unexpectedly, kissed her roughly.

''We've been boxed together in this damn houseboat six months," the young Russian shouted. "Try for a little compassion, Iron Maiden, if you haven't got a heart."

Tanya broke away, blushing furiously. "For this you could be--"

"—court-martialed? Yes, but not an officer in the Fleet would convict me." Ostrov glared. "You were asking, for it!"

Indignant at the accusation, Lt. Minos stalked away. Flinging herself off the side of the boat in a somewhat sloppy dive, she swam off in search of her friend Hoopah, the delphinoid Hikchikeran.

Hikchikerah, a waterworld colonized by algae farmers twenty years ago, had only recently been found to have intelligent, aquatic life-forms. Star Fleet had sent her and the -- she thought -- abominable Lt. Ostrov to make rather belated official. contact with the natives.

Suddenly, a clammy snout poked her between the breasts, hard. The human part of her mind screamed, "Shark!" and the Vulcan part severely eye-browed the giggling and snorting Hoopah, Speaker of the Ninth Herd.

"My people make not the long farewell mournfully, Tanya," Hoopah said in the Hikchikeran chuckle-talk, that she had learned.

"We can be serious, though," Tanya answered sternly. Clutching Hoopah's dorsal fin, she allowed him to pull her through the water, looking, had she but known it, much like the naiads of her Greek heritage. "I may come back, you know. I've enjoyed working with your people."

Hoopah swam thoughtfully for a time. "Don't you enjoy working with your own people?"

Tanya stiffened. "Serious doesn't necessarily mean personal." She relented and asked rather wistfully, "Which people do you mean, Vu1cans or humans?"

"Either," Hoopah chattered. "You tell me you've been with Medusans, Hortas, now us. Why stay away from people like yourself?"

"My work..." Tanya muttered inarticulately. Abruptly, she flung her long black hair back, and pointing to a clump of seaweed in the distance, challenged, "Race you to the kelp!"

Hoopah won, of course, by more than a hundred meters.

The mission was done, the ethnology partnership disbanded. Lt. Ostrov had brought Tanya by hydrofoil to the little plastic-spired float city that was the human capital of Hikchikerah, and he bad insisted on buying her a good­bye drink.

"It would have been different if I thought you really belonged with the Vulcans," Sergei was saying. He'd apologized on the 'foil for his behavior, promised not to bring up the subject again, and was still arguing it.

"The Vulcan way is superior, its logic and controls beneficial." Tanya felt a desperate urge to explain herself to Lt. Ostrov, so they could at least part on a basis of amity and understanding. "You're being ethnocentric. I do not follow your patterns, therefore, I cannot be happy. Correct?"

The young Russian shook his taurine head. He was determined, if not brilliant, Tanya had learned, and would rag an idea to death. "Don't you ever regret giving up your birthright, Tatyana?"

Tanya looked around the jerry-built bar at the farmers and their girls, at Fleet personnel and bizarrely-clothed traders. She had never truly believed that humans could be as happy as they professed. But there was much laughter in this cheap place, while she could only return a curiously somber expression to her colleague.

"Does anyone on Vulcan love you? Is there any one Vulcan you love?" Sergei asked.

She didn't want to explain the nuances of her relationship with her foster-parents. There was no way of knowing if he could consider them kind and loving, or arbitrary and alien. And she did not want to hear his doubt about them. "I'm going to marry a Vulcan," Tanya said impulsively. Her companion waited impassively to hear more.

"He's a Kataytikh – a distinguished scientist -- from one of Vulcan's first families.&quoot; She added maliciously, "Also First Officer of the USS Enterprise."

"R.H.I.P." Sergei whistled ruefully. "All that, and he loves you, too?"

Why, Tanya wondered silently, had she told Sergei that, before giving Spock her formal consent? Before, even, she was sure she wanted to.

"Am engaged woman's safe from me," Sergei said gently, perhaps mistaking her silence for distaste. "Proshchay, Little One. I won't bother you any more."


"It's Russian," he smiled. "It means 'forgive me' -- and goodbye for a good long time."

She watched Sergei leave. At. the door he was accosted by a red-headed Fleet nurse, and they walked out together. Tanya felt moisture in her eye and realized, unpleasantly, she was going to cry. There was a stickiness in her palm -- blood. Her cocktail glass had been gripped until it broke.

Hurrying to her quarters, Tanya remembered the Fleet Surgeon's appraisal when she'd confessed her crying jags. "Psychoneurotic symptoms. Do something about 'em."

"But I have," Tanya told herself wordlessly. "I follow the Way. Vulcan raised me to be sane."

Tanya sniffed, wiped her face, and concentrated on mental control. It was the shock, she thought, of losing so much at once – her assignment, her colleague, a chance at a life as tantalizing as repelling, someone she really did care about... and who cared about her. The unfortunate coincidence was that all those things centered around Sergei.

Perhaps her late contact with the uninhibited Hikchikerans brought. the idea into her head with such irresistible force. Instead of controlling the problem internally, why not solve it externally? Before she lost momentum, Tanya dialed Sergei's I.D. number on her room's visiscreen.

His face swam into view against the backdrop of his room. Tanya felt rather faint – the red-haired nurse was with him – not undressed yet, but probably in the mood. In an extremely small voice, Tanya said, "You invited me ... to see the city..."

His eyes seemed warm, but cautious. "Sure ... we can see the sights with Gloria."

"No!" Tanya said sharply. "Come to my quarters right away ... alone ... I want to talk to you." She flicked off the screen, alarmed by her own vehemence, before he could answer.

"She shan't have him – I won't let her!" An icy lump formed in her throat. This, then, was jealousy. Miserably, Tanya considered her situation. She knew nothing about human males; Gloria could easily out-maneuver her. And there was any number of other females.

Sergei would come to see what she wanted, and she would have nothing to say, unless...

Tanya ransacked her closet for clothing that looked – she searched for the word – sexy. Fleet uniforms – Vulcan tunics – fleet uniforms. She slept nude, so there were no nightgowns. Giving up, Tanya hoped that it would not be necessary to act very seductive.

"This is not lawful for a Vulcan female," her foster-father's icy logical voice seemed to warn. Tanya ignored the admonition, and tried not to think of the contraceptive injection she'd refused to take.

"I'll try to give Sergei what he wants," Tanya thought humbly. "It is what you want," the Vulcan voice said in condemnation. She giggled nervously. Perhaps in assent.