I am T'Jess, daughter of Sarek of the House of Surak and the Noble Clan Talek-sen-deen. I am also Jessica Grayson-Gould daughter of Marcus Gould and his wife Miranda Grayson. How I came to have these two identities is a curious story.
My father, Sarek of Vulcan, spent many years as an official of our embassy on Earth. While so serving he met a very remarkable young Earth woman named Amanda Grayson. After several years acquaintance he chose her as his bondmate, and she chose not only him but the Vulcan Way for herself and her heirs.
Amanda had a twin sister, Miranda. Her husband was Marcus Gould a xeno-geologist in the service of Planetary Surveys. He often traveled to new worlds to survey them for colonization and his wife went with him. Because such work has its dangers they named Sarek and Amanda guardians of their two daughters should they not return - as one day they did not. My sister Sara was only four standard years old and I but two.
Sarek and Amanda were living on Earth at this time and had the care of us. We became their daughters under Earth law in accordance with the wishes of our birth parents. When the time came for them to return to Vulcan they took us with them and there we were accepted by House and Clan and given our Vulcan names; T'Sar and T'Jess. We met also our new brother and sister, Spock and T'Pelle, who had been left in the Homeplace of Surak in the care of our grandmother. Because T'Sar was the oldest she became First Daughter. T'Pelle who is three months my elder is second in seniority and I am third.
However we do not normally live in the courts assigned to us in the Ancient Homeplace. Father and Mother's work requires us to reside in the city of Shi-Kahr. Our house is quite new, having been built a mere six hundred years before, one of many in the third circle of the city intended for government officials. Both house and enclosure wall are constructed of fused sand, yellowish in color and rough in texture. The gates are of beaten bronze, greenish with age, but there is no gatehouse and no gatekeeper entry is controlled electronically from within.
Modern though it is the house is laid out in the traditional fashion with forecourt, public rooms clustered around an atrium open to the sky and private rooms grouped around an inner courtyard. There is a Hall of Contemplation where our shrines to the House Ancestors and our Clan's tutelary deity are installed, a moderately sized garden and small houses for the accommodation of attendants and guests.
I awoke one wet morning to pre-dawn darkness, the steady drip of rain and a chill draft flowing through my window grill. Seconds later the door to my chamber slid open and my woman said quietly. "Are you awake, little miss?"
"Yes, T'Pei." I sat up, putting back my quilt and sheets as she entered to light the stone lamp on the tall cupboard with the taper she carried.
The silver-gilt flowers sprinkled over the soft green walls of my sleep place glinted in the yellow light, as did the stone inlays of the cupboard. T'Pei picked up a robe laid ready on the bench and held it for me to slip into, then took my toilet box from its place and followed as I led the short way down the passage to the bathroom. This is very long with the bathing slabs shielded by their shoulder high wall at one end, anointing benches in the middle, and cupboards for clothes at the other.
On Vulcan we have shower baths, just a quick rinse after a thorough scrubbing with cleansing salts. We do not use soap. My sisters and I are now old enough to be trusted to bathe ourselves properly. T'Pelle will complete her thirteen seasons at the end of this month, and I in three more, meaning we are both just short of seven standard years old. Our elder sister T'Sar has completed her seventeenth season - that is she is past nine.
The matrons assigned to care for us by our Clan; T'Pei, T'Ping and T'Paan, no longer bathe us but they still help us to anoint ourselves with the oils and creams necessary to protect the skin against Vulcan's fierce sun - even when her face is veiled by clouds. Then we dressed in the school uniforms they had laid out for us. Because it was the Wet season, the high desert winter, our sideless ochre tunics were long sleeved, as was the cream colored bifurcate garment worn beneath and both were woven of warm animal fleece. Once dressed we sat still on our wooden stools as our women did up our hair in the proper style with a fringe on the forehead and long, pendant youth lock falling over the right shoulder. T'Sar's hair is straight and pale yellow like river sand. T'Pelle and I have curly hair - like Mother's - which can be constrained into the disciplined style demanded by tradition only with difficulty. All three of us have blue eyes, also like Mother's.
The traditional Vulcan breakfast is no more than a cup of water, a bit of bread and perhaps a piece of dried fruit taken after one's toilet, but this does not suit the Human metabolism and so it is customary in our family to start the day with a large Terran style meal. We found the inner court darksome and gray with rain pattering softly into the pool and weighing down the heads of the grasses and flowers planted around it, but lamps had been lit in the Room of Gathering and in the dining room lighting our way our way to the kitchen.
This is Mother's room and holds many heirlooms of her family brought from Earth. The walls are painted her favorite peach pink and a large window has been cut in one overlooking the kitchen garden, though the neat rows of vegetables and herbs were still invisible in the predawn murk. Flowering plants, many of Earth origin, stand on the deep sill and braided rugs lie on the brown tile floor. Our everyday dishes and utensils are stored in a wood and glass 'china cabinet' which belonged to Mother's Grandmother. The square table in the middle of the floor and the six chairs around it were also from Great-grandmother Stemple.
Mother stood at the cooking surface, frying egg product and protein sausage in brass bottomed pans also brought from Earth. Father was setting the table, normally a most improper thing for him to do but as our breakfast is an Earth style meal we follow Human etiquette. The dishes were gold edged and painted with strange looking flowers. The eating utensils were also Terran; spoons, forks and knives plated with silver. And the air was full of the earthly smells of frying and baking.
"T'Sar, take the biscuits out of the oven." Mother said as we entered. "T'Pelle, stir the oatmeal. T'Jess, put the juice and milk on the table."
We hurried to obey. The table was laid and Mother spooning eggs and sausage onto serving dishes when Brother came in.
Father gave him a look of disapproval. "You are late my son."
"No he isn't," Mother contradicted, "the food isn't on the table yet."
Father nodded acceptance. "I stand corrected. I apologize my son."
"The Father cannot give offense to the Son." Brother said formally, then; "Good morning, Father. Good morning, Mother. Good morning, Sisters." That is Earth etiquette.
"Good morning, Spock, and sit down all of you." said Mother.
She is an extremely skilled cook, indeed she teaches that art as well as linguistics at the Science Academy. The breakfast menu varies from day to day, quite randomly, depending on 'what I feel like making' as Mother says. This too is in accordance with Human practice of the art. Vulcan cookery is more regulated. However there is always oatmeal for Father who developed a fondness for it while living on Earth. Spock likes it too. T'Sar, T'Pelle and I do not.
Mother calls breakfast our 'family time' because none of the other members of the household are present as they are at midday and evening meals. On Earth 'family' means only kin not servitors, vassals or other dependents. Even after her many years on Vulcan Mother still regards such people as 'not-family' but of course we children have been taught otherwise.
"Spock," said Mother, loading his plate with eggs, sausage and a biscuit, "why did I have to learn from Master Sydat that you have been chosen to represent your school in this year's science competition?"
Spock looked discomfited but Father beamed, (I know, Vulcans aren't supposed to show emotion but we do - we just pretend we don't) "Is that indeed so? Our House is honored. You have done well, Son."
Spock looked even less comfortable, Mother annoyed. "My point, Sarek, is Spock should have told us!"
Father did not agree. "Spock is right to cultivate modesty," he said, "A good Vulcan bears his honors quietly, he does not make boast of them."
"Telling his mother is not boasting!"
"Spock has done well, my wife." Father said firmly. "He has behaved as a true Vulcan should."
Mother rolled her eyes upward to show what she thought of that! We girls had to hide our smiles. Spock is always a model of perfect Vulcan behavior - and so extremely tiresome to live with. No doubt he would win the prize - he usually does - to the annoyance of his age group. We girls have told him many times that it would be both logical and tactful to occasionally allow somebody else to excel but he won't see it. No wonder he has no friends. Father doesn't seem to notice, but Mother does and it concerns her. We girls have never been able to make up our minds whether Spock cares - but probably not since he does nothing to mend the situation.
Our school is a long walk across the city center from our house. The first half of our way lies along with Father's to his offices in the capitol complex so we started out together, escorted by his aides Spelek and Talat. The rain had stopped and a rosy-orange light suffused the cloud cover to the east. We had all donned light cloaks against the brisk, chill breeze blowing from the north-east.
"Touching on the unfortunate event yesterday -" Father began.
"It is illogical to dwell on the past." T'Sar said primly.
Father didn't quite smile. "That is true. However errors must be acknowledged."
"It has been!" T'Pelle said with a note of exasperation in her voice. "We have apologized most humbly to Master Solel."
"And accepted nine demerits apiece in punishment." I added.
"Neither apology nor punishment would have been necessary had you asked permission before diverting the water course." Father pointed out.
"We were assigned the cultivation of the T'Oe Pa plants," T'Sar said almost sharply, "it was logical for us to assume we had permission to do whatever we deemed necessary to further their growth."
"It was also logical to assume that water channeled from the irrigation system was needed elsewhere." said Father.
"We were perhaps somewhat lacking in foresight." T'Sar conceded.
"We understand we should have considered all possible consequences before acting." I added.
"We were too focused on our own task to the exclusion of the larger pattern." T'Pelle agreed.
"We most sincerely regret the school's flower garden suffered." said T'Sar.
"It is very fortunate that Mother has plants to replace the ones that died." said T'Pelle.
"Your Mother is a skilled gardener." said Father. "However your misadventure has seriously disrupted her plans. Please show more foresight and consideration in the future."
"We will." T'Sar promised on behalf of us all.
"Thank you for not discussing this in front of Spock." added T'Pelle. I nodded vehement agreement.
Father didn't quite smile again. "It is proper for an elder brother to concern himself with the behavior of his younger siblings, however Spock is not always as tolerant of honest error as is desirable."
To put it mildly, Spock wants his sisters to be as perfect as he is. We follow the proprieties carefully but random factors do not always operate in our favor - that is our luck is sometimes very bad.
Certainly it was not our fault when Miyo-Ba, our Sehlat cub, chose to seek refuge from her monthly bath under Mother's tea table while she was entertaining. And we would not have chosen that day to take the piano apart had anybody thought to tell us a musical was planned for that evening. Nor would we have planted Go-Fei traps in Mother's strawberry patch, to catch the neighbor boys who were stealing the fruit had we known Respected T'Aishi intended to collect the strawberries to prevent further theft.
We most sincerely regretted the broken china, the social embarrassment and T'Aishi's injured hands but Father, Mother and our teachers agree that originality of mind and initiative are desirable traits - even if they sometimes lead to unfortunate results.
Spock is never original. He is a perfect pattern of the model Vulcan son which makes him dull. He excels at all he attempts outshining his age mates which makes him unpopular. Errors or no we girls are neither dull nor disliked. Our state is definitely to be preferred.