DISCLAIMER: The Star Trek characters are the property of Paramount Studios, Inc. The story contents are the creation and property of T'Kuht and is copyright (c) 2001 by T'Kuht
Leonard McCoy scratched at the two-week growth of beard that he was sporting. Since his 'divorce' from Natira, he'd spent his free time bumming around the galaxy. The beard came from a decision he'd made about what constituted a daily ritual and a necessity. Shaving, he decided, was a ritual that he could do without. Besides, Tanix II was a cold weather planet and he could use all the insulation he could get. The ordeal of the last year had taken its toll on his physique. He was thinner now than he was as a teenager. The shaving was also a conscious way to protest all things Starfleet. He had chosen inactive duty in order to go meet with Natira and have a normal married relationship. Several of his friends thought he was being a little shortsighted, but he really thought the marriage with Natira would be something that would last longer than it did. With a sigh, he ordered up a drink and checked his messages before flopping down on the chair.
A message from the main desk of the hotel said he had a 'package' downstairs. "Huh, maybe Chris sent that fudge she promised," he grumbled and hauled himself back up out of the chair.
The desk of the Hotel de Grande was basically a hole in a wall. The concierge was polite and friendly to Federation guests, though. He knew that they were paying customers. "Yessir, there is a package. You will have to sign for it."
Leonard McCoy started his usual scrawl as a small dot and looped it until it ended up at the end of the line. The concierge looked at it a little oddly. Still, he presented the slender envelope without question. McCoy took it, "I thought you said it was a package. This is an envelope, not a package."
"It was delivered as a package, that was how we sorted it."
The grumpy Southerner toted the envelope up to his room, waited till he was up and sitting back with his drink before he opened it. There was no return address, but the handwriting was vaguely familiar. Slicing his finger as he slid it under the flap, he cursed, "Damn paper cut. Hurts worse than a knife wound."
Inside the envelope was another envelope. It was a fine linen one with his name once again written in that familiar script. It was not sealed. The smell of the desert fairly washed over him. A letter was enclosed.
"It is a requirement of the Kohlinaru to sever ties with anyone who would wish contact with them in the future. I am doing this now to fulfill that requirement. I wish that you should no longer regard me as either a friend or as an acquaintance. I am not an enemy, but I cannot retain any relationships with any outside sources, not even family.
"You may wonder why I do this. I do this in order to purge the chaos of emotionalism from my psyche and leave nothing but pure logic and sterility. It is what will make my existence purposeful and most useful to my planet.
"I wished to convey my appreciation of your friendship throughout the years. It has been an honor to know you and be considered your friend even though I may no longer think of you in that manner.
"I ask that if you cannot understand that you simply honor my wishes.
"Peace and long life,
Leonard McCoy was shocked to say the least. Not only did he not expect a handwritten letter from Spock, he also had not expected this turn of events. He had known that the last months aboard the Enterprise had created gaping holes in Spock's psychological stability, but he would never have guessed he would have run off to a monastery. Trying to picture life without that green- blooded Vulcan aboard the Enterprise, McCoy realized that if it hadn't been for that half excuse for a human being the ship and its crew would probably have been destroyed long ago. Sitting alone in his hotel room, the doctor realized that he missed that pointed eared hobgoblin already. It was a little late now.
Jim Kirk lay in the bed all warm and satisfied. Beside him, Lori Ciani slept curled next to him in a ball. The afternoon sun streamed in through the windows. They'd been married six months, but really hadn't settled into the regular routine of a married couple. Kirk was busy trying to stay busy as the newest Admiral to be promoted, and Lori was always on the run. It seemed that they had to meet like illicit lovers in the oddest hours if they wanted any type of sexual relationship or even just to sit and talk. The clock chimed four and Kirk decided he was hungry enough to get out of bed. He'd make some early supper while he was at it and surprise Lori. He could cook if he set his mind to it.
He was in the middle of putting the steaks on when the door chime sounded. A deliveryman presented him with an envelope that he had to sign for. With a curious frown, he ripped it open, began reading.
"It is a requirement of the Kohlinaru to inform anyone who may wish to have further contact with me that I will no longer be able to be reached. The discipline of the sect demands complete purging of all emotions. Students must cut all ties to all people in their lives. I am now writing to fulfill this requirement.
"I wish to express my gratitude for your friendship. It was a sustaining part of my existence while serving under your command. I have learned more from you than from any other person in my life. However, I can no longer call you friend or brother. It is my belief that my life will be best served as a Kohlinaru. I regret not being able to deliver this news in person. I ask that you respect my wishes if you cannot understand my reasoning.
"Live long and prosper,
Jim Kirk nearly fell back into the chair that he was standing in front of. Spock was gone. Whatever the reasons, and it really didn't say, he was no longer in the grand scheme of Kirk's life. For some reason, he felt empty. The relationship that Kirk had with Spock as that close knit brother/friend was far more entwined in his soul than his marriage to the woman in the next room. Kirk wondered if there was something he'd done. Spock had been troubled those last weeks aboard the ship, but Kirk had been so busy with his own problems that he hadn't been able to really understand what was bothering him. It was no matter now. Kirk couldn't go ask Spock what it was, or if he could have helped. Spock was already unavailable for the rest of eternity. Looking toward the bedroom, Kirk decided that he'd have to get along somewhere, even if it meant making mistakes along the way.
Delta was a planet in a class by itself. The people were the most sexually free in the universe. It was also an excellent planet for medical students. Christine Chapel was officially a doctor of medicine. The years aboard the Enterprise had qualified as internships and after the grueling exams, she found herself at the head of the class. She was relieved to find that all those brains that she'd always been blessed with hadn't been wasted out in space. She planned on applying for another starship posting when she finished with her rounds on Delta. Space was definitely where the best research could be found.
It was one of her rare days off. She lounged about in her quarters wondering how she ever coped with a one-room cabin aboard the Enterprise. The quarters for student doctors were not the most luxurious, but there were definite advantages. For one, she had a kitchenette. She had her own stove and refrigerator and sink. She didn't have to go requisition a room or make certain that her things were kept separate so they wouldn't be used. With a happy little sigh, she uncurled from the housing sofa and went to get a cup of coffee.
"Security for Dr. Chapel," the intercom announced.
"Security, Chapel here," she said with a bit of trepidation. She was on call.
"You have a package at the security station. You'll need to sign for it."
"All right, I'll be down in a moment."
Slipping on her moccasins, she headed down to the security station. Before reaching it, she was addressed from behind, "Dr. Chapel."
That soft, musical voice made her smile. It was difficult not to smile on Delta. Their pheromones made them nearly irresistible to humans. Christine counted herself lucky that she was able to control some of her more base instincts. Five years of pursuing a Vulcan and studying his culture had done that.
"Ilia, good morning," Christine said. Signing for the package, she took it under one arm and turned back to the young Deltan woman whom she'd met and become friends with.
"I am going to lunch, would you care to join me?" Ilia said politely.
"Yes, I believe I will. I haven't actually eaten breakfast yet so I'm fairly hungry."
They walked across the compound to the hospital restaurant and chose to eat al fresco. The weather was perfect, not too hot or cold and the sky was that off teal shade that made Delta so beautiful. They ordered, and while they waited Ilia asked about the package, "It may be important."
"Hmm, oh, I suppose, probably something to do with my credentials. If you'll excuse me I'll see what it is before we eat," she said.
Christine opened the envelope, removed the linen one, and began reading the enclosed letter.
"It is a requirement of the Kohlinaru to inform..."
She didn't continue reading just glanced at the signature. Spock had sent it, to her. Checking the outside of the package to make absolutely certain it was meant for her, she went back to the beginning.
"It is a requirement of the Kohlinaru to inform anyone who might wish to make contact with one of their students that it is now impossible. The Kohlinar disciplines demand that all ties to any emotional aspects of life be cut off, including relatives or friends.
"I wished to impart this information to you because in the past we have had a partnership of sorts. While there has been no physical activity between us, I have still considered that our friendship was more than that. You have given me something that few people have, unswerving faith and loyalty. For that I am grateful.
"I am certain that you will find great success in your future endeavors. I cannot ask that you fully understand the rituals that I am to undergo. I only ask that you have peace and a long life, and that you find what you seek as well. I believe that I have found what I was searching for.
Christine folded the paper, looked up at Ilia, and shook her head in wonderment. It was odd to have this handwritten message from Spock. She knew precisely what the ritual entailed from her studies of Vulcan society. He would no longer be allowed, by his own decision, to think of them as his friends or as anything except names on a slate or in relation to some memory that would be static like a picture on a disk. He would be dead to them not only emotionally, but mentally as well. But, she'd known that Spock had been in pain, a great deal of pain all those years. It had become ironic that she was the one he spoke to of his possible plans. He had not mentioned it to either McCoy or Kirk. She wondered now if he chose her because of her 'unswerving faith and loyalty' or if it had simply been that she sat and listened and paid attention to him. She did not question him or make him provide answers to everything. Her only comments had been, "Let your instincts be your guide, Mr. Spock. Your gut will tell you a lot of things that both emotions and logic can skew to their own purposes." If this is the peace he sought, she was happy for him.
Ilia broke into her thoughts, "Bad news?"
Christine shook her head. "Not really. A friend had some life altering questions, and he was just relaying his decision. So, Ilia, what have you been up to?"