The Catalyst


Pat Foley

Spock entered the Terran embassy on Vulcan with a certain amount of curiosity concealed as rigidly as a near equal amount of trepidation under his facade of Vulcan control. He had never been here before, at least, not as a supplicant. A young human female looked up from her work and smiled at him.

"How can I assist you, sir?"

Spock's eyes widened a minute at that form of address, but he said cautiously, "I wish to request Terran citizenship."

"Terran...citizenship? I don't understand. Perhaps you mean a visa to travel on Terra?"

"No." Spock hesitated before he plunged on. Admitting the heritage he tried so hard to conceal was difficult, and personally somewhat embarrassing, but necessary to his goals. "My mother...is human, and a citizen of Terra...Earth. I am entitled, under Earth law, to claim Terran citizenship." The girl merely stared at him. "I intend to hold dual citizenship, Vulcan and Earth," he clarified further.

"You must be Dr. Grayson's son," the girl said, delighted to finally place this unique customer.

Spock took a deep breath, mentally cursing having famous parents. But it was an unavoidable fact of his existence. He, himself, knew of no other Vulcan/Human hybrids, and his parents, unfortunately as it seemed at times to him, were both highly placed in their respective societies. And even in each other's. "That is correct."

"I'll need a fax of your Federation birth certificate," the girl said, finally settling down to a respectable professionalism.

Spock produced the required document. The girl studied it and began punching keys while Spock waited. He caught himself shivering a little in the chill room and suppressed the response firmly. If his plans were to come to fruition, he would have to accustom himself to a normal human environment. "Hmnn..." the girl finally murmured. "There's a slight problem."

"A problem?" Spock swallowed hard, seeing his plans crumble into dust.

"Well, not a huge problem. I guess I can bend the rules and let you apply for this now. But I can't give it to you until Friday."

"Friday?" Spock asked numbly. He struggled to place the significance of the word. It was a day in the Terran calendar but he knew of no one who followed the Terran system of days on Vulcan. He wasn't even sure what today would be in the Terran weekday. "And that would be?"

"Why it's your birthday, silly." The girl smiled at him. "The seventeenth of Tasmeen?" She shook her head at her customer, until he finally nodded when she mentioned the Vulcan day. "You have to be of age to apply for Terran citizenship. Or you have to have the parent holding citizenship apply for you. If you need this sooner, I can contact Dr. Grayson--" she reached for the comm.

"No!" Spock put out a hand to stop her, and then froze, flushing. "Friday...will be satisfactory." The girl looked at him puzzled, then smiled.

"Oh, I see. It's a birthday surprise for your mom, right? You're going to claim joint citizenship on your birthday. Is that it?"

"Yes." Spock had no idea what he was agreeing to, but anything was better than this girl contacting his parents.

"That's sweet. Well, don't worry, mum's the word."

Spock stared at the girl, more confused than ever, but she went on punching keys unnoticed. "I'll have this ready for you on Friday. Here's a copy of your application to verify."

Spock took the copy from her and scanned it carefully. "It appears to be in order."

"Good. You keep that; it's proof of your application. Just stop by anytime on Friday. And if I'm not at the desk then, Happy Birthday, Spock."

Spock looked up from perusing his form to the smiling face of the clerk. This whole transaction had been unfamiliarly alien, but he knew the appropriate way to close it. And however illogical he found the phrase, he knew that where he was going, he had better get used to saying it. "Thank you very much for your assistance."

"You're welcome."

Spock of Vulcan stepped out into the noonday heat of Shikhar, holding in his hand the copy of his request for Terran citizenship. It took him a moment to recover from the simulated Terran chill and he indulged in a brief shudder before he went on his way. Another hurdle surmounted.

Back at the Science Academy, Spock appeared exactly on time for his meeting with his educational mentor.

"The term is not up for several weeks, Spock," the elder Vulcan had no spectacles, but he frowned down at his pupil in a manner easily recognizable to any Terran, though the simularity was completely lost on his Vulcan pupil. "While you are an excellent student, and I suspect you will encounter no difficulties in your examinations, why would you wish to take them now?"

"I have finished the course of study. I see no logical reason to delay," Spock said evenly.

"Surely even you will benefit from the extra preparation time?"

"I have prepared." Spock met his mentor's eyes evenly. "I am confident that I am ready for the examinations. I accept full responsibility for my performance if unsatisfactory."

"I would advise against it," the teacher said dryly. "This request is most unprecedented. Still, this is your second advanced degree. You are well aware of the structure of the examinations you are facing. If that were not the case, I would refuse. But in this case... Very well, Spock, I accede to your request. Tomorrow, at the eighth hour."

"Yes, master." Spock made good his escape before the venerable instructor could think of a reason to refuse. Back in his student's cubicle, Spock delayed his final review for his examinations by bringing up a coded mail message on his terminal. The message flashed across the screen, while Spock's eyes devoured every English word. "Spock Xtmprszqzntwlfb has been accepted into Starfleet Academy, this acceptance commencing at his eighteenth birthday and legal Terran majority, assuming the necessary Terran citizenship has been obtained; acceptance in minority requiring verified permission by any and all parents or guardians..." He tore his eyes from the message, and punched up his final review preparations for his mren-to in astrophysics. His mother would call it a doctorate, but regardless of the term, Spock knew from his previous mren-to in computer science the exams were grueling. He had no time to waste, and he had to pass. He wanted to be free before the seventeen of Tasmeen. What had the girl called it? Friday. Of course. He knew the Terran names for weekdays, he had just never heard of anyone on Vulcan ever using a Terran calendar, or even trying to refer to time in that way. But the alien word was suddenly intoxicating, luring, compelling. Friday Yes. He would be free by Friday. Unconditionally.

He had spent years preparing for this very event and his goal was at last in reach. Only a few more days, a few more obstacles and he would attain it. As a future Starfleet officer, he had to be resolute in the face of them.

But there was one he had to face that he feared would be the worst obstacle of all.

To be continued…