Disclaimer: Star Trek is the property of Paramount/Viacom. This story is the property of and is copyright (c) 1987 by L. P. Santos. Originally published in More Missions, More Myths #7, Wendy Rathbone, editor. Rated PG.
A WORLD WITHOUT WALLS
L. P. SANTOS
The midnight breeze brought a bitter chill. It was a silent reminder of the winter which would soon follow. A winter filled with the damp rains and chilling snow. For him it was a gentle reminder of his youth.
Deep in the woodland areas of Remus existed a vale town known as
A'Ragna. Its closest mountain, the Ra'atz, was a direct contradiction of the bustling
metropolises found on
Alone, except the howl of the wind, he stood in silence. His long, flowing cape provided ample protection against the cool night breeze. Many years had passed since he last stepped foot on his home planet. Now, after such a span of time, it seemed unreal. And perhaps it was. Perhaps the events of the past days were all a vicious nightmare from his mind.
Only a few months ago he was aboard his fighter craft. With the crises of the cloaking device over and his Commander's safe return, he felt confident of his future. True, there had been retributions for their mistakes but at least they lived. Surviving the ordeal unscathed gave him a sense of security. A security which was quickly shattered.
With an unaccustomed sigh he
glanced upward. Surrounded by a green hue, the twin moons of Remus radiated a brilliant glow. Beyond their ring, the
maroon colors of
As he watched its circling orbiters, he felt a great sorrow.
Written centuries ago by their ancestors, the Tenets served as the basic laws of their people. Escaping from what they thought was a dying planet, his forefathers devised rules and regulations by which to govern the people. The core of the rule was simple. Freedom, at all cost, was to be preserved and protected.
The intellect and ingenuity which enabled them to escape the dying planet of Vulcan now held them captive to a warrior code. It was a code which espoused the Tenets of Freedom--a code which offered no room for compromise. It was a code which he, like his father, had sworn to live and die by. Now after so much time it seemed impossible for him to view his people in any other light than in the Tenets.
Disappointed at his melancholy thoughts, he turned away from the sight of the orbiting planet. He could no longer stand to view the sight of a culture in stagnation. And stagnation it was. What else could it be called when the basic tenets of their belief was disseminated? What could disloyalty to an oath be labeled as?, he wondered in silent reflection. Moreover, is honor still alive or has it vanished as easily as the morning dew?
With these thoughts he pulled his cape closer and trudged over the darkened path. How many hours or days he had stayed in the mountain clearing he did not know. All he remembered clearly was his maddening thoughts and his intense and irrational emotions. Like a man slowly suffocating he felt driven away from the confines of his own home. In anger and confusion he retreated to the shelter of his childhood.
As a youth he often found a quiet refuge in the cliffs of the Ra'atz mountains. Growing up the only son of the Praetor's Chief Commander was not an easy task. His life, his family past, was filled with the rigorous training required of all Romulan Noblemen. In the constant shadow of his father he found life a continual challenge.
Not only was his father a prized pupil in youth, but he was also a famed warrior to the people. Earning his honors in the first war against the Federation he managed to lead the armed forces to victory through his sheer knowledge and bravery. After numerous Federation ships were added to his father's record, the war was ended by a peace armament and not total victory. It was his father's bravery in battle which later brought him the cheers of his people and the complete trust of the Praetor.
Although his father held such a high status in the government, he did not believe as his fellow comrades. At a young age, Tal noticed this difference in his father and attributed it to the war. Where many had returned bitter and vengeful, his father returned solemn and introspective.
His father seemed to regret his actions committed during the war. He even spoke of his sorrow at the lives lost at his hand. At the time Tal did not understand his father's emotions. In his youth, Tal could not even envision the enemy as anything but hideous beasts. For Tal, his father's words were a direct contradiction to all that he was taught. But longing for the wisdom of his father, he listened obediently and tried to assimilate his father's teachings.
He experienced the actions of war through his father's eyes. He understood for the first time what the true philosophy of their Tenets meant. The Tenets of Freedom was simply a belief that all beings were free to continue their existence as unique individuals. This belief the people swore to die for. It was this belief that send his father into the grips of war.
Tal could remember hearing his father's solemn and often times remorseful words.
His father held a great empathy toward their founding beliefs. He knew that their people migrated for the sole purpose of the Tenets. On their sister planet there was nothing but persecution and death. Only on a new colony planet could they flourish and thrive as a young nation filled with dreams and aspirations of the future.
But somewhere along the line their original philosophy changed.
It happened so slowly and so silently that few citizens actually saw the change. Over a period of time their goal of freedom changed into a goal for military supremacy. Rather than let themselves become satisfied with he ruling of their planets and people, they began to branch out toward the stars. With their technology and driving force, they conquered a vast amount of Klingon and Federation territory.
With this need for supremacy came the bloodiest war of his people. Lasting for fifty Romulan years, the war took its toll on their population. Although the war held bitter repercussions, his father did not seem angered or filled with hatred toward the Federation. It was as if he understood the alien's motive and hostility.
It was during his father's long discussions that Tal understood his father. His father did not approve of war. He was tired of the needless death and destruction and more importantly, he seemed to understand the enemy's motives and empathized with them. Like their people, the aliens held to a belief that they too would die for. The aliens; in his father's words, were simply protecting their own against outside aggression.
His father's openness toward the Federation was the cause of discontent among the warrior class. In their insecurities they secretly plotted and conspired against his father. It was because of these slanderous remarks that the Praetor chose to utilize his father years after a peace accord was formed.
With sealed orders from-the Praetor he was to lead the greatest fighting vessel into Federation space. By taking a new, experimental weapon and using it against an unseen enemy, he would prove his loyalty to the Praetor and the Tenets of Freedom. Although his father held reservations toward this mission he would, once again, perform his duty as a Romulan citizen.
Tal could remember his father's words clearly. On the eve of his departure they walked along this very path. His father spoke of ancient times. Of times when death was considered honorable, especially if one died to protect the freedom of others. He spoke of the time when a warrior's duty was, above all else, to defend and honor the individuality of his people. He spoke of a regret over the many walls which had been erected around the people. With the strength of a bird's talon, their regulations combined with the warrior's code successfully kept the spirit of their people captive. And he spoke of his dream of the future.
He dreamt of a future where people could live in peace with one another. He dreamt of a place where individual's goals and dreams could reach beyond their capabilities. And he dreamt of a world which contained no walls or barriers.
On that night Tal pledged a simple oath to his father. He pledged to retain and honor the Tenets as well as protect the people's rights to freedom. He promised his father that he would find a way to break the walls which imprisoned his people.
With some regret Tal remembered the slight smile which his father has given him. As if he had been given a treasured possession his father silently approved of his son's motives and perhaps he was at peace with himself. It was as if he had just made his final restitution and was now prepared to meet with the God of life and death.
That was the last time that Tal had been with his father. The Praetor's message arrived months after his father's departure. His father and valiant crew took a new and experimental weapon into Federation space. The cloaking field, as it was then called, was a success. Through its invisibility they had overcome and taken many enemy bases. Once the capabilities of their destruction were known, they prepared to return home. It was on their journey home that his father's ship was overtaken by an armada of Starfleet warships. Although vastly outnumbered his father had taken many Federation ships before he was forced to activate the self-destruct unit of their vessel. His father was from then on listed as the bravest Romulan Commander who ever existed in their history. His ship and crew would be remembered well.
Thinking over these thoughts he trudged over the unseen path. The sound of a distant Deshara bird could be heard over the night sounds of insects. An octave higher that its day cry, it gave a warning of the winter that would soon arrive.
Despite his long vigil, his mind was still unsettled. There used to be a time when this place eased his troubled thoughts. Here he had found a place which he could call his own. It was here where he contemplated his father's dream for a world without walls. Here he could truly be himself and not be concerned with the harsh criticism of his fellow comrades. It was here, in this place, that he found answers to his troubling thoughts.
Even as he walked away from his haven he felt disturbed. Surrounded in the familiar setting, his silent meditation went unanswered. He seemed unable to resolve his inner turmoil.
Within his mind, he devised a plan. He knew which route to take and what safeguards were needed. But buried deep within was a burning hatred. Whether this hatred was a deep rooted male pride or simply jealousy he did not know. All he knew for certain was that it threatened to consume his total being.
As he climbed the last hill he noticed the ominous structure of his home. Darkened and silent, he knew that it must, by now, be abandoned. After his time in the mountains, she would not have waited. He knew her traits, her characteristics and her impatience. By now she would have taken his absence as an answer and would have left.
This knowledge did not ease his mind.
It would be easy to let her choose her own path. He would have been free. Without her he could advance within the ranks. Perhaps he would even be granted a command of his own. A command he had long ago earned. Even as this thought crossed his mind, he knew that it was not what he desired.
Military prestige was not paramount in his life. Despite his father's reputation as a warrior, he had no desire for a command of his own. Perhaps his hidden desire was to crush the wall of stagnation that surrounded his people. Yet he knew that only from within could this goal be accomplished.
Even with his achievements and high rank he was unable to find another whose kindred spirit matched his own. No friend was found in the academy and none was met on the ships he served. True, many were colleagues but none were friends. There was only one who made him feel at ease enough to talk of his dreams. Only she had listened to the goals which he harbored for his father.
At the thought of her, he frowned. Even she did not fully understand him. If he could not convince her, how then could he expect to change the minds of his people?
With a slight smile she would listen to him in silence. Although she never offered criticism he could sense her emotions through her obstinate silence. Like a mother with a child, she humored him.
Entering the darkened hallway he was, taken back by the sound of silence. ·Its deafening sound surrounded him completely. While the silence engulfed him, he entered the various rooms.
As a child, his home was filled with familiar sounds. Later, when his mother died, he took over the estate. During his military training and even after his first missions, he never returned to its barren rooms. It was not until many years later, after he served as her second in command, that he finally returned.
Bringing her along to his home was a major step for him. It was an action not lost on her and one which he suspected she approved of. Together they brought new life to the abandoned home. They added a part of themselves to it and they explored new areas. Areas which as a child he never knew existed.
Standing at the threshold of the gathering room he glanced around its darkness. Through the shadows of the early morning sun he noted the outlines of the furniture. His eyes fell upon the sprawled, furred coverlet which stretched before the open hearth. Only a few nights ago they had abandoned their titles and made love for hours while on the furred coverlet. Then they lay naked and exhausted in each other's arms.
"I heard the Desha:ra cryl" her voice came from a darkened corner. He involuntarily stiffened as he crossed the room to the open window.
"It warns of an early snow," he answered quietly.
Despite their years of intimacy, he found himself at a loss for words. As if they were strangers barely meeting, he felt a wall rise between them. It was a wall that kept pain in as well as being a shield from it.
"You never told me how cold it gets in the winter."
After only a moment of silence he answered her words.
"It gets very cold," he said, then turned to face her, "but it is possible for a woman to flourish."
The silence seemed interminable as she thought over his words. Then she rose from the shadows and moved to his side.
"I did not ask such a thing of you, I could not."
"It is I who is offering. Freely, willingly offering what is mine to give."
"Still," she began to say as she turned from him. "I cannot ask you to risk all that you have. The Praetor--"
"Is of no concern," he answered evenly.
Turning, she looked up through the darkness. He could feel her eyes searching him. It was as if she expected to find some deception, or perhaps an ulterior motive, but she could not.
"Why, Tal, why do you make such an offer? Only three nights ago you left here In anger. You could have killed, would have. You wanted to kill me, I saw it in your eyes," her soft, unaccusing voice asked.
"I was not thinking clearly," was his only reply.
"You would have been within your rights."
"It makes little difference, the fact remains that I was not taking into consideration the entire situation."
She seemed to consider his words. Then she turned away from his gaze to look out over the vale.
"You knew all along what had happened," her voice stated. "You knew that I would seduce him, yet you did nothing to stop me. You seemed not to care. You did not even grow angry at him. Your actions before and after belied all those words which you spoke to me. You exhibited nothing toward me. No anger, not hatred, not jealousy, but when I told you of the unborn child you became angry. I do not understand, Tal. Why could his touch not anger you before but the child, which is also mine, drive you to near insanity? Please Tal, I wish to understand," her whisper pleaded.
He had spent time attempting to understand just this same question. Although he knew part of his reasons he could not understand most. Jealousy was one thing he hoped to never have. Jealousy was for impotent men who feared that their inadequacies would drive their woman away. Yet it was jealousy which gripped him just days before.
That time with the Federation Starship, he would have killed. It would not have bothered him to take the life of the Vulcan. Within his mind, he would have been within his right. He, and only he, held a territorial claim to touch her. But deep down inside he knew that this thinking was wrong. He understood and respected her as an individual. She had the free will to choose her destiny. If the Vulcan was her choice, even for a single night, Tal would respect her wishes and allow her her desires. He knew that he could not dominate her. Another woman, perhaps, but not her. Her spirit would have died under domination and that he could not allow.
With this understanding, he was better able to respond to her question.
"Because I did not show my anger when he touched you does not mean that it did not exist."
At his words she turned sharply to him. The light grey haze of the descending moons sent a shiny silver glow to her hair. He noticed the sensual features that were hidden by the shadows.
As she searched him for sincerity, he felt himself well up with need. Even though she was unfaithful to him he still cared for her. He found himself longing to surround and protect her as he had done these past years. If only once she would allow her defenses down, he could show her the depth of his love and devotion.
Like a frightened child, she turned away. It was as if she heard his very thoughts. With a slight tremble she brushed at her cheek.
"I cannot ask such a sacrifice of. you," her words came as a whisper.
Reaching out, he rested his palms on her shoulders.
"You have not asked. It was I who offered. I give of myself freely," he whispered, then added, "I give of myself freely to you and the unborn child you carry."
He heard a sob escape her control as she turned and melted in his arms. Embracing her closely, he allowed her tears to flow unheeded. In all the years that they were together she had never demonstrated such womanly emotion. Now she showed it without shame. It was an emotion he knew no other would see, one which he would always cherish.
"You can still accept me," her words came muffled against his chest. He hugged her closely as a surge of tenderness overcame him. Then he lightly brushed aside her hair. "That, my commander," his voice was traced with humor, "is quite obvious."
He noticed the gentle upturn of her lips as she looked up. Pleased by her smile he lightly kissed her forehead. Then in the solemn moment he gently brushed her tears away.
"I only wish." he said regretfully, :that it was I who gave you the child."
She understood the impact of his words. Among the Romulan culture, a man was considered privileged if a woman chose to carry his seed. A woman with child was like a sacred object and was treated with reverence.
"Would it matter if I said that I too wish it were yours?"
At the tenderness of her words, he lowered himself to kiss her lips. The single moment of tenderness soon grew into passion. He could feel her hands gently exploring the folds of his cape as his own hands roamed the silken texture of her garment. Continuing the kiss, he allowed himself to touch the small mound which was a forming child. It was not a touch filled with anger or hatred, rather it was a touch filled with awe. He was in awe at the simple miracle which was taking place within her body.
Pulling away from him, she gasped as she held his hand to her abdomen. She seemed to sense his wonder and simply felt amused.
"The child is not yet fully formed, come, take me," she whispered, "take us both. Make us truly yours."
Her words meant more than the physical aspect. It was her way of giving him a pledge or promise. By allowing him to take her and her child physically, she was turning over their rights to him. She was, in essence, pledging her devotion.
With this thought, he reached below her and gently lifted her in his arms. In a swift, easy motion he took and laid her upon the coverlet. If his unkempt condition bothered her, she did not show it. Instead, she pulled him to her. Like a desert flower in need of water, she clung to him and abandoned herself to his growing need.
In the fury of his passion he acknowledged her sacrifice. He took what she had to offer and returned to her a promise. It was a promise to the child. care and protect both her and the child. He did not know if it was possible to make this child his but he was determined to surround it with the warmth of his seed.
Later that day they lay in a tight embrace. As the afternoon sun filtered through the window he told her of his plans. Before they seemed like plans made within a dream. Now that he had her warm flesh by his side, they were real.
"We shall raise him in the true spirit of the Tenets of Freedom," he was explaining as her hand gently explored the hair on his chest. "And he will learn the knowledge needed to survive within our culture and he will also learn that the aliens are not to be feared, but understood. We will teach him that there are no boundaries set for his spirit and if he wishes he may soar as high as he desires. Hopefully, wherever he goes he will be able to find for himself a world without walls." At his words she nuzzled against his chest.
"Our son is most fortunate to have a visionary for a father," she said as she snuggled close to him.
Hearing her words, he felt d great warmth well up inside of him. In the short flicker of time she had surrendered herself to him. Out of love she had set aside her own dominance and allowed him to take control.
With this thought he pulled her to him and began to kiss her deeply. As their tongues entwined his hand slowly moved to their child. He slowly felt the slight mound with his palm as his legs covered hers. Pleased by his touch she held him close as her lips melted to his. Then they reluctantly pulled apart.
She covered his hand with hers as he continued to trace the warmth of her abdomen. As if the child was truly his, he felt a pride at her swelling. Soon their son would grow within her and begin his nocturnal movements. Together they would build their own world void of all confining walls. With an uncontrollable smile, he hugged her to him.