Spock looked up from the viewer at his desk as the buzzer to his office sounded. “Come,” he said.
The door slid open and Captain Kirk entered, carrying a memo pad tucked under one arm. “Morning, Spock,” he greeted his first officer. “How’s the hand?”
“Good morning, Captain. It is quite fully healed,” the Vulcan answered, demonstrating by flexing his left hand several times. “Dr. McCoy did an excellent job in fusing the bones back together.”
“Glad to hear it. How are you doing otherwise?”
Spock cocked an eyebrow and pinned his commander with a slightly incredulous look. “Doing, Captain? Other than a few cuts and bruises, I am in perfect health.”
“That’s not what I mean and you know it. Emotionally.”
The other eyebrow lifted to join its mate. “Completely irrelevant, Captain. I am in complete control of my—”
Kirk waved away his protest. “Yeah, yeah, I know the routine. But I’m not buying it. You had a pretty rough time of it back there and you were in a pretty emotional state when we found you. I don’t believe that even a Vulcan could get over an experience like that so quickly.”
“You underestimate my resilience, Captain,” Spock answered, gazing at him levelly and with his expression closed down tight.
Kirk knew he wouldn’t get anymore out of his first officer, so he changed the subject. “Okay. But if you ever want to talk, I’ll be happy to listen. I thought you might like to know that Dr. T’Lon and her team have returned to Vulcan. They’re undergoing counseling to help them adjust to the world as it is now. It must be a terrible shock to have time changed around you and know that there’s nothing you can do about it.”
“Indeed. I truly regret that they were caught in the time shift and are unable to return to their own timeline.”
“Anyway, that’s not why I came to see you this morning.”
“Indeed? What can I do for you, sir?”
“I wanted to go over your report in a little more detail. I have to write a final evaluation of the incident for the Federation Council.”
“Of course, sir. Would you like coffee before we get started?”
“Had some already, thanks. But get some for yourself if you want.”
Spock indicated the mug of saya tea on his desk and Kirk grunted in acknowledgment. As he reached over to snag a chair and drag it up to the desk, he was caught by the information Spock had been studying. On the screen was a scholarly-looking document, illustrated by a crude, very old tapestry of Vulcan warriors, the central figure wielding a shining white sword.
“Is that you, Spock? Your battle?” the Captain inquired, curious.
“No, no, something else entirely,” Spock answered, a bit of embarrassment in his voice. “It’s a reference to an extremely old Vulcan story about a legendary hero similar to your King Arthur. At a young age, he rose to lead Vulcan through one of its most violent periods but consolidated the region into a stability that formed the foundations of my world as it is today. In fact, he was alleged to be one of the ancestors of Surak. According to the legend, he lived about the same time that I was there or a little after. His name was S’Kar hei-Kh’da’Ni’ikhirch.”
Kirk gave a short, bemused laugh. “Your family name.”
“Yes, sir. He was the founder of my Clan. Or so legend has it.”
“Interesting. I’ve often wondered how many legends are based in fact and how many heroes were actual living persons. Did you happen to meet him while you were there?”
Spock didn’t answer for a moment, his thoughts going back to a dark-haired girl standing in a wind-swept courtyard, watching her bondmate ride away to war, her hand sheltering the unborn son within her. His eyes moved to the small stasis box sitting beside the monitor, enclosing within its field a curl of glossy black hair, still as fresh and full of life as if its owner had just clipped it and pressed it into his keeping.
Picking up the little box and caressing it gently, Spock answered at last. “No, sir,” he said, his voice strangely quiet. “I never knew him.”