DISCLAIMER: The Star Trek characters are the property of Paramount Studios, Inc. The Lord of the Rings characters are creation and property of J.R.R. Tolkien. The story contents are the creation and property of Maggie Nowakowska and is reprinted from The Time of Surak, published by Plak Tow/Dragonhold Press, Amy Faklowitz, editor, 1979. NOTE: Numbers in parentheses are endnotes that can be found at the conclusion of each marked section.
Starships of the Eldar?
A Tale of Irreverent Origins
by Maggie Nowakowska
And the legends say the Eldar sailed away in silver boats with elvish sails over the ancient Western Sea to Valar which is beyond Man's reach and where the light of Eärendil shines forever. They left, but we, born of the Edain, remember...
* * *
ONCE UPON A TIME, at the edge of the galaxy, there lived a race of humanoids that just about did themselves in by, yes, playing too close to the fine line between matter and anti-matter. Although they managed to destroy their home planet of Elda before coming to their senses, the few who did survive learned an awful lot from the experience, and when they finally arrived at and settled on the fourth planet of a five-planet system in what would one day be called the Eridani 40 sector, they were fairly subdued, and a tad bit wiser.
Most of them stayed that way, too. Their new home became a beautiful and peaceful place where their less lethal talents could blossom and their long lives could be committed to study and art.
But, By the Star, it's boring!, thought one Morgoth, in whose opinion the original home blow-up had merely been the result of mismanagement. Seeking more lively climes, and having sticky fingers to boot (1), he made off with some art goodies and fled to the middle-earth of the system where the emerging sentient races were still primitive enough to be amusing. Despite pleas from the Valarian Council to let him go and forget it, some hot-shots followed Morgoth to the third planet, and the Eldar Days were off and running.
(1) Not to mention a superb taste in craftsmanship.
* * *
At this time, there were a number of quite different races on the third world, the gabbiest and pushiest of them all being the Men who called the place Vlcn. At first put off by the odd looks of the Eldar (2), the Men quickly spotted the advantages inherent in teaming up with the feuding newcomers and managed to insert their interests into the thick of the subsequent wars and adventures from the very start.
It was an interesting alliance: the Eldar found the savages quick to learn and handy to have around in a battle since most of the advanced weaponry had first been angrily proscribed, then finally confiscated by the Valar, forcing the Eldar to rely on more primitive means to carry on their quarrels; the Men, who loved a good fight whatever the weapons used, discovered the aliens were treasure troves of new ideas and skills, even if many of those skills were obviously magical.
Men were not alone in their opinion of the source of Eldarian power. All the races on Vlcn, Hobbits, Dwarves, etc., saw the alien activity through a perspective ignorant of science and complex sociology. Native accounts of events were blended with more primitive tales, giving Eldar adventures unusual twists of plot or motivation, while accenting the stories with a definite odor of odd and seasoning them liberally with fey.
Indeed, to each race, the Eldar -- Elves -- were "super-shamans," and the homeland they sang of was called the "Uttermost West," (3) unreachable except by elvish boats (4).
From an ethical standpoint, a case could be made against such blatant interference with an emerging people; this alien race brought great wars and tremendous powers to bear on Vlcn development. Still, on the whole, the natives did pretty well by the visit. The Eldar brought the basis for a planetary language, while encouraging the development of latent telepathic powers; their example provided the nudge toward social organization so badly needed on Vlcn (5). Eldar also served as secular and religious leaders, but, most important to the Men, the Elves left a legacy of thought that would one day help stop the bloody natives from wiping themselves out in their Eldar's glorious image.
And ... they passed along some of their genes in a few well-placed expeditious marriages.
(2) Different sizes among peoples they were used to; scalloped-shaped ears and crescent-shaped eyebrows, they were not.
(3) A reasonable choice since the continental set-up on Vlcn precluded any body of land being considered a western continent, making the "Uttermost West" a place quite distant, for sure.
(4) Again, logical. It is a bit difficult to cross space without elaborately fitted ships. As for magic rings and mirrors, eh, would you bother to explain conducers and video to an awestruck barbarian? Of course not. You'd both be bored silly in three minutes; let 'em call it magic and move on.
(5) The most advanced tribes took to these ideas so well that their enthusiasm, helped along by Morgoth's protege, Sauron, threatened the peace of the Valar themselves, forcing stern intervention. See "Nùmenor and the Nuclear Threat, A Speculative Discourse on Ancient Fables." Sooker Prybat, 1784 Fifth Age; Shi-Kahr Archives, Vulcan.
* * *
Despite the final capture and banishment of Morgoth to a distant planet where he was told to stay put till he dissolved in his own maleficent juices, the Elder did not quit Vlcn. This middle-earth had become so homey to the Elves that many settled in for a long stay, some going native completely. Of course, since the Valarian Council was still miffed at those who had led the charge against Morgoth, as well as being thoroughly ticked off over the Nùmenor brouhaha, entrenchment seemed like a good idea.
With time, though, the situation began to fall apart again. With the growing troubles of the Third Age, it became obvious that the Eldar had not been able to escape their foibles even on this out-of-the-way world. Growing numbers became disillusioned, and it wasn't long before many forsook their adventurous ways, petitioning sanctuary among their fellows on the fourth planet. Reports from the scientists about the changing climate of Vlcn helped, too: cold winters of increasing fierceness were forecast, Manly expansion and the necessities of war were diminishing the forests while to the east, a strange blight (6) was browning the once-green lands by the thousands of hectares yearly. Something was very wrong, and, for a race that preferred perching in trees and leafy bowers, the signs were ominous.
Also, it was becoming apparent that Vlcn's races were starting to suffer somewhat excessively from the interference of the Eldar. The Men were no longer barbarians (well, many of them weren't); they had demonstrated a healthy amount of inventiveness, as well as determination to survive, even in the face of alien antics. Coming to its own Prime Directive decision, the Valarian Council sent a few of its Maiar agents to help straighten out the elvish mess that now existed on Vlcn, setting into motion a chain of events which would eventually lead to the abandonment of the system to its rightful species.
The inexhaustible energies of Sauron ... the eagerness with which he involved the local races in his mischief ... the subsequent double-dealing of one of the Council's emissaries, Saruman ... contributed greatly to popular support of the Council's decision to leave, and soon most of the Eldar accepted the truth that they had blown it -- again.
Once they had helped clean up their last little war, the remaining Elves left Middle-Earth, taking along those natives which had been incurably affected by their powers (7).
Vlcn was left to develop on its own with only legends, a ravaged mountain area, and some stubborn alien genes which refused to dissipate over the passing generations as evidence of the Eldarian Era.
True to their decision, the Eldar eventually left the system completely, only not as a large, colonizing group this time. Their numbers had decreased drastically with the wars and an unenthusiastic birthrate, and besides, many decided, why keep repeating the same mistakes? (8)
Splitting into small bands, the Eldar dispersed among the stars.
(7) Eldar exobiologists insisted on this symbolic, if futile, gesture: having expertly estimated the abilities and inclinations of the Men, they gave very low odds for the survival of Hobbits and Dwarves -- Balrogs and an occasional megaspider they figured the bloodthirsty dominants could handle.
(8) Two of their mistakes, Sauron and Saruman, left with them. Unfortunately, the two miscreants did not take well to the new bodies created for them, and the Eldar felt forced to pack them away with Morgoth. Sauron and Saruman were not pleased.
* * *
On Vlcn, the Eldar-Man/Telcontar line remained in power for a remarkably long time ... nearly 40 generations of relative peace followed the passing of the Eldar.
Degeneration came, though, and the families with the alien genes were finally deposed, along with their elvish notions of fair play. Approximately 2500 years of good, old, unadulterated vlcnness followed, wiping out all remaining remnants of fellow intelligent races on the planet, and damn near wiping out the Men as their weapons technologies grew appallingly accurate.
Never underestimate persistent alien genes, though. During the last modern-war period, when better living conditions arose despite the overall threat of destruction, the family feuding, the police states, etc., the old families began to work their way back into power. The Xtmprsqzntwlfd (9) family, descended directly from the last Eldar-Man marriage and proselytizing a new, refined version of the old Valarian concepts of peace, were most effective in this ascendency.
About 2400 years before present-day Vulcan, a new leader arose from the ancient family, Surak Xtmprsqzntwlfd, a philosopher-king who took the overpowering emotions of his people and demonstrated how they could be funneled in a most gratifying manner into the pursuit of logic.
(9) Alien genes or not, the family decided to drop the Eldarian names of Isuldur and Telcontar early on. Vlcn memories for past glories were very short in those days -- but the urge to conform was strong as ever.
* * *
MEANWHILE, OUT ON EARTH...
One group of the sundered Eldar sought refuge on a small, blue planet circling a single sun. The star was not spectacular, but then neither were their hopes of survival as a race.
The elves found the world to their liking; it was cool as it recovered from its last Ice Age, and wonderfully woodsy, at least in the northern and northwestern parts of the European continent where they settled. The natives here were worse than barbaric, having not even discovered agriculture yet, but the Eldar kept clear of them. They had learned their lesson: no interference. Even when, with the passing years and the coming of native civilization, the local populations crowded the Elves ever deeper within their beloved forests, the aliens did not take an aggressive role in earthly developments.
The race was dying. Physically, their lifespans shortened steadily; spiritually, their history and knowledge disappeared into superstitions and fables. Instead of acquiring the lofty positions of respect they had known on Vlcn, the Eldar became the impish, mischievous fairies and sprites of Earthen legends. Many intermarried with the natives, giving rise to the stories of Merlin, fairy lovers, changelings and such.
* * *
By 1900 A.D., the only two full-blooded Eldar left were a man and woman who were not thrilled to find the end at hand. Sizing up the times, Terrance and Adrian decided to gamble on Humankind's ability to reach the stars before they, like their ancestors, faded away. Joining life forces, they hoped to guarantee a few more hundred years of life for themselves, during which time, they also hoped to have the opportunity to travel amid the stars where others of their kind with whom they could continue might be found.
Terrence and Adrian planned to live quietly at first, hiding their youth in travel and reserved manners. Still, coming as they did from a race that preferred literate history, and being fully aware of the fact that accidents do happen, they encouraged a local with a healthy dose of Elvish blood in him to set down the history of the Eldarian Exiles in a manner that would clean up their reputation a bit before the last reliable sources disappeared. (10)
When Humans finally made it to space, life picked up for the two Eldar. Playing their masquerade right, they managed to live through the wars of the late Twentieth Century, acquiring a ship which they modified by the mid-Twenty-first Century. From that time, and throughout the Twenty-second Century, they went zipping through space, searching for other stranded Elves.
They weren't too lucky at first, only coming upon an ancient bearded trader who doubled as a philosopher and magician for his adopted solar system. He muttered at them a lot, grumbling something like, "Not again..." into his pipe, and insisted on being left alone since he had "earned his peace and quiet, by Mawea!"
Once the Romulan and Kzinti Wars were over, Terrance and Adrian headed back toward Federation space where they heard about a world with a name that sounded suspiciously like Vlcn. Longing for some place, any place, where the echoes of their people might rumble still, the Eldar headed for the Eridani 40.
Vulcan, as the Humans called Middle-Earth, had changed quite a bit, of course; for one thing, there were damn few trees. Still, the couple visited regularly, and were fond of poking around out-of-the-way places, looking for old markers or ruins.
Although Terrance and Adrian didn't find too many relics or rumbles, they did turn up the latest generation in the ancient Telcontar line: specifically, the leading lights of the Xtmprsqzntwlfd family, Shariel and T'Pau. The stage was now set for a reunion of races and the general, all-around Eldarian complication of everything.
(10) Over the years, those parts of Eldar history that had drifted into Earthen history, familiar to Humans as Faerie, had been terribly distorted. Some of the blame, though, must roost in the realms of Eldarian humor, for example:
"Of course Elves have pointed ears, Tolkien!" Terrance assured the Don as Adrian laughed in delight. "What? We don't have pointed ears? Certainly not; had them bobbed years ago. You don't really think we could exist in modern society with pointed ears, do you? Now, where were we? Oh yes, Sauron had just found out that Saruman had swiped a genetic construct or two -- eh? The orcs, dammit, Man! The orcs! And the old fool was building a few of his own..."
Also, for reasons known only to the Eldarian mind, Earth heard the story as if seen through the eyes of one of the races eventually eliminated in the Vlcn bloodbaths. Perhaps Terrance and Adrian still feared witch-hunts, or maybe they were just amused by the resemblance between Tolkien and Hobbits.
* * *
MOVING RIGHT ALONG...
By contemporary times on ol' Middle-Earth, logic has taken its toll of the Eldar legends. Although most Vulcans accept the theory that aliens once visited their world (11), most also discount 99.9% of the surviving stories and have for quite a while. The alien origin of certain resilient anomalies in certain family genetic strains cannot be scientifically proved, and the majority of geneticists consider these strains to be merely mutations, albeit, extremely useful ones. (12)
Shariel Xtmprsqzntwlfd, an eminently practical man who most definitely didn't believe in Elves or Wizards, was not amused when his sister, T'Pau, brought Terrance and Adrian and their stories of rings and crystal balls to him. In fact, he was soundly annoyed.
Unable to live up to the legacy of his far-sighted parents, eclipsed by brilliant brothers throughout childhood, shunted -- in his opinion -- to the back of his family's attention by those awful newcomers (13) who looked so much like the mythical aliens, and embarrassed in adult life by a sister who everyone recognized as a far better politician than he, Shariel was not at all interested in helping T'Pau come up with another piece of business in which her talents could outshine his abilities.
Furthermore, being understandably attached to whatever he could claim as undeniably his, Shariel disliked change of any kind and clung to what was unchallengingly comfortable with a grip that was grimly determined. By the time Terrance and Adrian appeared, Shariel had carved a very comfortable niche for himself on the governmental Council (14) leaving the messy business of handling the Federation to T'Pau. He was not interested in any disturbances to his well-ordered life and planet, no matter how much their consequences might actually enhance his position.
Besides, most of those old legends were terribly illogical, and Shariel was one of those Vulcans who exist just the other side of worshipping logic. Even as a child he had thought the stories silly and a waste of time. He wasn't especially thrilled with the Eldars' influence on his son, Sarek, either, for the boy was creative, dynamic, and, by Shariel's standards, illogical enough as it was. A catty person might also mention that Sarek, like everyone else in the family, also outshone Shariel. (15)
(11) Heavy influences of this theory can be seen even today within Vulcan religious beliefs.
(12) For example, you can almost guarantee that someone with a high degree of T-negative elements in his or her gene structure will be quite adept at leadership, politics, organization, and have higher than average telepathic abilities.
(13) The Terrans.
(14) His brothers, who should have inherited the position in order of birth, had both died, one because of a Terran Plague which ravished Vulcan, the other because of his involvement with the Kzinti Wars. Served them right, in Shariel's opinion, for all their outworld ideas.
(15) It must be noted that, though Shariel comes up short when compared with the rest of his family, by general racial standards he did all right. A great deal of his problem was a sour, defeatist, unimaginative attitude which stifled the talents he did have, but that's another story.
* * *
Despite Shariel's objections, T'Pau and a number of other Vulcan scholars continued to welcome the Eldar couple, considering the two to be walking textbooks much in the same way their ancestors had regarded the aliens eons ago. When personal tragedy forced T'Pau to retire from her role as ambassador to the Federation (16), Sarek assumed the family responsibility, taking T'Pau's place while the older woman returned to her historical studies full time.
Terrance and Adrian spent more and more time on Vulcan, conferring with the local historians. One of their last trips to Earth was made for the occasion of the birth of their child. The visit lasted several years immediately thereafter. (17)
When the child began formal schooling, the Eldar returned to Vulcan where they were killed in an accident while poking around some old mines in some old mountain roots, looking for some old metal the historians kept telling them was mined out in the Days of the Beginning. The circumstances of the accident were highly suspicious and left at least two geologists with permanent cases of the jitters. Even T'Pau was disinclined to investigate just what exactly the spelunking party had run into.
As for the official reaction to the incident... "Out of sight, out of mind" had worked well enough for five thousand years of strange stories, and Shariel quickly decided that another thousand or more wouldn't hurt. He put an end to any further explorations, shoved the sticky mess behind the curtains of Tradition (18), and declared the matter officially dropped.
And so it remained. Until some twelve years later when son Sarek made a stop at Earth, met a most unusual orphan named Amanda and the ties that still bind the two worlds, and three races, were firmly knotted by history, politics and good old reliable sex.
Despite, because of, and in addition to Amanda's Eldar ancestry, Shariel was flatly against the marriage (19); even T'Pau had reservations. (20)
But, Sarek's logic, and stubbornness, carried the day:
Sarek: "What could be more Vulcan than to cohabit with a descendant of the aliens who sparked the fire so long ago?"
Shariel (acidly): "That's another point. We don't need any rekindling of that flame."
Sarek: "And, isn't such a mixture the Traditional basis for the family's high standing through the ages?"
Shariel: (*no comment*)
Sarek (silently): "So there."
Amanda simply ignored all the bickering. Since her parents had died when she was only eight years old, before they had spent much time in training her, Amanda didn't really identify very much with the Eldar. Without the mental energies of others of her kind to support and comfort her, she had had to carve her way through Human life on her own, as a Human. Subsequently, she sublimated most of the native abilities she inherited.
Meeting Sarek was a relief and joy for the lonely Elder, although marrying him began a series of chemical alterations within her body which have aged her more rapidly than a Vulcan. (21)
Much more of the Vulcan culture made sense deep within Amanda's subconscious than Earth's cultures ever did; she settled down easily and happily. It took her neighbors a while to grow accustomed to her habit of talking to the trees Sarek planted for her in their garden, but when the most gossipy neighbor actually thought he heard one of the plants answer back, the subject was dropped. (22)
(16) Eh, she wasn't so thrilled about that job anyway.
(17) Gotta raise the kid amidst trees and greenery, you know.
(18) Vaguely related to the legions of closets with family skeletons found throughout Human society.
(19) He hadn't appreciated her parents' story; why should he approve of her?
(20) "There are limits, Sarek."
(21) The old stories weren't kidding when they said any Eldar who messed around with Men would die.
(22) See previous note on Tradition and its uses.
* * *
Sarek and Amanda have a son, Spock, and his illustrious heritage hasn't really done him a lot of good. As he has grown, the half-Eldar boy has had to contend with:
(A) Vulcans who agreed with Shariel concerning Terrance and Adrian's origins and who are not now thrilled to have what they consider a half-Human in the upper echelons of power;
(B) Vulcans who bought the Eldars' story, but who continue to regard Spock as an atavistic curiosity;
(C) Vulcans such as Sarek who, since they have rationalized the old stories by vulcanizing the Eldar, expect Spock to be just like their illusions and who ignore any possible racial conflicts (23); and
(D) the vast majority of Vulcans who really couldn't care less about Spock's background because this is not an age of myths and although legends are fine in art, song or parables, Vulcan really has outgrown magic. Really.
(23) No one ever said the Eldar weren't emotional and Sarek, if anyone, should know better. But, he is Shariel's boy and even the most rebellious of sons have a tough time shaking their fathers' expectations. As Spock well knows.
* * *
THE SITUATION TODAY is quiet. After making a few last contributions to the histories of two different peoples, another ancient race bites the dust in the person of a Vulcan who considers himself to be simply half-Human.
And unless that Eldar breed runs across some crusty old space trader with a snowy beard and a few fireworks up his sleeve ... unless this ancient Maiar sees fit to teach Spock about a few tricks which neither he nor Amanda suspect they've inherited ... unless someone unknowingly stumbles upon the distant planet where certain discontented Valar were ensconced so very long ago and carelessly trips the security systems, causing three very pissed off entities to go free to seek their revenge on the Firstborn and their allies once again ... most likely the last descendant of the Eldar, and the heir of Isuldur, will continue to struggle along under the burden of a Crown (and emotions) few Vulcans care about or even recognize. In this day of Science Academies and farflung Federations, being Vulcan is what counts.
The Edain continued, not the Eldar.